Highlights of week whatever

Yet another bad day at the office for the hapless Peter Debnam. Perhaps these Campaign Updates will cheer him up.

Balmain (Labor 7.1% versus Greens) and Marrickville (Labor 10.0% versus Greens): As usual, the Greens’ preference deliberations have eaten up a lot of column inches, despite the notorious indirectability of the party’s supporters. Of greater interest is the free kick the Liberals have given Labor by recommending an exhausted vote in Balmain and Marrickville – the two seats the Greens could potentially win. Since major party voters really do follow the how-to-vote card, this will surely end the Greens’ hopes for a lower house seat, giving Labor two fewer things to worry about. This step has presumably been taken to give the Coalition ammunition in a late-campaign offensive over supposed deals between Labor and the Greens, perhaps involving secret protocols on crime and drugs policy.

Pittwater (Independent 5.4% versus Liberal) and Manly (Independent 0.6% versus Liberal): On Saturday, Steven Scott of the Financial Review reported that the Liberal Party’s polling showed it was unlikely to recover John Brogden’s old seat of Pittwater, which it lost to independent Alex McTaggart at a by-election in November 2005. Liberal candidate Rob Stokes, a former staffer to Brogden, reportedly trailed 57-43 on two-candidate preferred. The party was said to have a "better chance" in Manly, which former HSBC executive Mike Baird is seeking to win from independent member David Barr.

Goulburn (Liberal 4.5%): The aforementioned Financial Review article also reported that the Liberals were "worried" their star candidate, Pru Goward, would lose to former mayor and independent candidate Paul Stephenson. The government has given Stephenson a fillip by announcing plans for a 77 kilometre pipeline from the Wingecarribee River to Goulburn’s storages, which are so low the town has been on level five restrictions since 2003. John Breusch of the Financial Review notes that the "Iemma government may be in caretaker mode, but the decision to build the pipeline was taken by state cabinet last month following consultation with Stephenson in his role as mayor". Stephenson was also invited to a "private briefing" on the drought plan with Morris Iemma last week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports he was "a bit surprised" that Labor candidate Robert Parker was not invited.

South Coast (Liberal 1.6%) and Bega (Liberal 4.7%): The Coalition has promised to spend $200 million over four years improving safety on the notorious Princes Highway south of Kiama. There has been talk from the Labor camp that the Liberals might not be safe in South Coast, one of their few gains from 2003, although the Liberals dispute this. Campaign director Graham Jaeschke told the Financial Review he had not seen any Labor activity in South Coast or any other Liberal marginal.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

83 comments on “Highlights of week whatever”

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  1. Stewart

    No I am not too young to remember train services from the old days

    10 years ago I had 4 trains an hour on weekends, now I have 3, I used to have 4 trains an hour after 9pm, now I have 3. It used to take me 17 minutes to get into the city now it takes me 21 minutes. Ain’t technology something?

    If you think the rail is run well that it takes them 4.5 hour to clear a break down train and they have to close down the trains in both directions to clear that train, maybe you should be working for the labor government


    My friend drives from Penrith to work in Mascot and he leaves his house at 5:45am, does that sounds like a transport system working well?

  2. Hell I used to leave home at 6:30 am and it took 80 minutes to get to Concord. Your friend has luxuuury.By the way you are living in a very big city and very big cities have transport problems.

    The other question of course is how much the Govt is subsidising your travel by continuing to run the trains at a loss. Hopefully this loss is being made more reasonable by running trains every 20 minutes per hour on the weekend rather than every 15 minutes. This question is even more pertinent in providing a loss making ferry service for the richest community in Australia.

    This is of course off the point that the alternative government not only does not have an answer (as per my previous post- who does?) but is too lazy to even pretend they have an answer.

  3. Why are so many talking up Tweed as a gain / likely gain? Surely the prospects have got to be poor given (a) the Coalition candidate is a Nat in an increasingly urban electorate, (b) the 2004 result in Richmond and (c) Neville Newell’s reputation as a likeable bloke and grass roots politician (whether this is in fact true, I have no idea!)?

    Everyone seems to be saying or inferring the Coalition’s success will be measured by the number of seats won. Surely the thing that really matters is trimming back the massive majorities in seats like Ryde and Blue Mountains (among many others). If the Coalition comes out of Saturday week’s election needing a swing of anything more than about 6.5% to take government in its own right in 2011, surely that is an unmitigated disaster if one is to use the recent Qld and Victoria as any sort of guide.

    Incidentally, I noticed on the ABC web-site that the ABC’s election night broadcast will be shown outside NSW on ABC2 (the digitial station). Good news for the tragics outside NSW!

  4. David, I think it is possible but, to be honest, being so far away I”m only going on second and third hand information. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Libs made few in-roads into the marginals and made their safe seats safer. Debnam seems to be doing a Baillieu and preaching to the Liberal heartland. I notice Mumble is going with Malcolm Makerras’s prediction. Personally, I don’t think it will be that close.

  5. The polls in Vic were fairly accurate (that is, they were of reasonable predictive value). They generally said there would be a smallish swing to the Libs, and there was. Most commentators said Labor would lose some seats, but nowhere enough to worry Bracks, and that’s what happened. There were a few local surprises, like Labor holding Gembrook and losing Narracan, but as usual these cancelled each other out. So on these precedents you would have to assume that the polls in NSW are reasonably accurate unless you have some evidence that they aren’t. On that basis you would predict close to a status quo result – a few seats falling in both directions, but Labor returned with its majority more or less intact. That that the NSW Labor government has been in power LONGER than the Vic one, and has a MUCH WORSE record, that would be a terrible result for the Libs.

  6. For the Liberals to be talking only about paring back the margins to be in striking distance for 2011 is a disaster in itself. After 12 years of Opposition, Government should be looking like a low hanging piece of fruit. My guess is Debnam will win a few seats in outer Sydney where transport and infrastructure issues hit hard. Wollondilly and Camden come to mind. Labor in Menai and Miranda will take a heavy swing against it but not sure it will fall given the large margins. Penrith, does anyone have any clue? My guess is that Labor’s few seats outside of the Illawarra-Newcastle belt will hold. All up, a loss of 4 seats, maybe. Disaster for the Liberals.

  7. Can I just say that the record of political journalists in accurately reporting on issues surrounding the preference system is simply appalling.

    First the Sun-Herald claimed the Greens had saved Carmel Tebbutt by preferencing her in Marrickville, then the Daily Telegraph has both claimed that the upper house preferences from the ALP, which no-one follows, will give the Greens an extra upper house MP, and repeatedly referred to a vote for Labor being a vote for the Greens and a vote for the Liberals being a vote for the CDP.

    There are numerous other examples. Surely people like Alex Mitchell and the morons on the Telegraph should need a basic understanding of the electoral system used in Australia for the last 80 years before writing political stories in major newspapers?

    No wonder there’s so much misunderstanding about what happens with preferences.

    It’s often in the major parties’ interests to distort and confuse, as it often scares people into voting for them (worried about wasting their vote), but what excuse do the papers have? What conclusion, except for them being a bunch of morons, can you draw from such repeated and widespread misreporting on a basic element of our electoral system?

  8. Gee, who’d have thought that the likes of Alex Mitchell, Piers Ackerman and Anita Quigley would be talking about of their backsides? Blow-hard know-alls, the lot of them, and as my Dad once told me, the trouble with know-alls is that they rarely know anything.

  9. Edward,
    I strongly believe that the most important thing about a subsidised state rail system, like all state services, is that the greatest subsidy goes to those who need it the most.
    I will make a big statement and say that the reason this government will stay in power with a substantial majority is because of the equalization of state services between the great unwashed west and the rest of the city – this is a factor which will not be mentioned in the Herald or even the Terror.

    I have personal experience that State services have improved significantly in the west over the last decade. I am sure that this explains why labor continues to dominate the area in State elections while “Howard’s Battlers” have long ago delivered 5 or 6 seats to him over the last 10 years.
    some quick examples:
    *dorif complains that he now has only 3 trains per hour at the weekend instead of 4 – in Penrith the equivalent numbers are 2 instead of 1.
    * the opening of the M5, M2 and widening of M4
    * establishing teaching hospitals at Liverpool and Penrith
    * falling crime rates in the west.
    Carr and Iemma have placated the people who have turned against labor federally but this is not something that registers in Mosman or Hunter’s Hill or will be seen in the media or political blogs.

  10. Ben: the moron theory is, I suspect, right. Plus, even if not morons themselves, it’s in their interests to create ‘outrage’ by reporting the misleading, disingenuous and/or wrong statements made by representatives of the parties about preference flows. And, to state the obvious, misleading the plebs works: read comments on either the SMH or DT election blogs, and they’re filled with ‘If you vote for the Greens, you’re voting Labor’, or ‘Don’t vote Liberal, you’re just helping Fred Nile’-style comments.

    Ed St John (the Ed St John?) and any punters: I read that a seat-specific bookie was offering $1.06 for Labor to win Miranda and $6.50 for the Lib candidate to win. Apart from the fact that this bookie is trying to skim too much margin (unless there’s a credible independent chance I’ve missed), this is a golden opportunity for you to get rich. You rate it as among a list of 8 seats where the Libs will win 6, so somewhere near a 75% chance; whereas the bookies rate it as closer to a 15% chance. Even if you’re only half-right about the Libs’ chances, a seat which has been held by the Libs for 15 of the last 23 years and that’s in a solid Lib Federal electorate? Gamble early and gamble often, would be the call.

    Oakeshott country: Subsidy per trip taken is, on figures I read a year or so ago (couldn’t be bothered trying to chase them down now), far less for ferry than train. (Ferry is more or less on a par with bus.) Not to mention the flow-on costs to the public purse if you were to shut down the publicly-subsidised commuter ferry service. The Spit Bridge would become so hilarious that Manly and the northern beaches would secede from the colony; others can debate the virtue of allowing that to happen.

  11. You don’t have to shut it down.
    What would the cost of a ticket from Manly to CQ be if the service broke even? Would it be more or less in terms of cost, time, parking and emotional state than the same car trip? Should the state subsidise the transport costs of an area with an average personal income > $60K? Is the Labor Party ever going to be rewarded for such largesse?

  12. Sorry, this isn’t the place, I know, but can’t help myself:
    There is no break-even figure for a mass transport service. Everyone knows the story with public subsidy and public transport. Significant price rises mean lower patronage, resulting in still higher prices and/or less frequent services to try to struggle towards a rapidly receding break-even point. Soon enough you have large water taxis for the very wealthy and tourists (with ever-more questionable maintenance and safety records as more and more corners are cut to save $). ‘But commuters will be forced onto those expensive, infrequent, unsafe ferries anyway because Spit Bridge will rapidly become suicidally dire’ is scarcely the cry of a sensible city planner. No doubt there are transportation social psychologists who could tell us why people choose to take cars despite the fact that, when you factor in tangible and intangible costs, even expensive public transport is ‘cheaper’; but unless public transport is on their door and at a price that feels fair, they certainly do. And then everyone pays the costs of private car use.

    The state subsidises the transport costs of everyone who uses public transport, including those areas with an average personal income of over $60k who are nowhere near ferries. Whether it’s feasible to introduce income-based fares (beyond the crude measure of a ‘concession’ fare), is another debate. As is whether state Governments should actually try to, y’know, run the state well, or just pork-barrel those seats that do or might vote for their side of politics.

  13. Hugo

    IR is an issue, a big worry for the workers and Debnam makes it worse by saying to the nurses he will keep them on the state award and then states on TV he will hand all IR powers to Howard.

    Iemma should be gone, he reminded me so much of Unsworth, and I knew Unsworth was gone the minute he appeared on those ads saying listening and learning.

    However Debnam is not a Greiner, he comes across as a born to rule toff who would rely on expensive advisers and consultants to govern and form policies.

  14. Oh well, at least the dumb Terror reporters are getting their own back.

    Check out the Tele election website: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/election/ataglance/ where the results are now so far out of whack with reality to have no credence whatsoever.

    Among other things, it’s predicting a Greens minority government, with the Greens winning 34 seats, four more than the Coalition and double Labor. 🙂

  15. The point about public transport is it will run @ a loss if you
    measure it as what are the costs & what is the revenue received.
    However this is a very simplistic measure. What happens if Government
    buses, trains And ferries were not available. The private system would not cope
    …. there would be traffic gridlock. & massive economic costs. A revenue
    neutral charge would not work. I’m sure even Mr Clarke from the far
    right of the liberal party would not support such a policy

  16. The real point about public transport is that we have never made a commitment to fund it properly and have a number of hubs other than just town hall in sydney.
    Imagine if Carr in 1995 had commited the government to building say 3 hubs, town hall, parramatta and bankstown and spent some of his majority on that – were would the state be now?
    Not to say that the Libs would do any better – its a systemic problem

  17. To restate my point, Government subsidies should go to those who need them most (Yes, Mr Clarke would not agree with that). Labor, at the state level, is secure in the West because it has achieved some parity.

    12 years ago, when I worked at Nepean Hospital, I realised that the future of NSW public health was not for Nepean to be dragged up to the level of RPA or RPA to be reduced to a third world hospital like Nepean (3000 births a year but no ultrasound) but somewhere inbetween. Despite some errors this has been substantially achieved.

    Yes, the rest of Sydney quite correctly sees there services as beibg reduced and Iemma’s Government as incompetent but the changes west of the demographic centre of Sydney are substantial and Iemma will be returned with a substantial majority.

  18. I will compliment Oakeshott on his taking credit on behalf of the Carr and Iemma governments for the delivery of services to the western suburbs. However, the major items named by him – the M2, M4, and M5 freeways – and the Nepean and Liverpool teaching hospitals were actually delivered by the Greiner and Fahey governments!!! Yes, the Carr government did widen the M4 and deliver the M5 East missing link between two tollways.

    The Carr / Iemma governments and indeed no labor government since WW2 has increased the size of Sydney’s rail system – Epping / Chatswood not being finished yet. Labor after WW2 destroyed an excellent tramway system and since 1995 have almost completed the job on the trains. Services may have been increased to Western Sydney but so they should have when massive population growth has occurred but in other parts of Sydney the service cutbacks have been dramatic – when I travelled to school in the 70s and 80s between 7am and 8am there were 8 – 9 trains, most of which expresses – fair enough being 25k+ from town – now from the same station there are 5 in the hour and all but one are all stations trains.

    The system has failed and the Carr / Iemma govt has to take political responsibility. Maybe the libs incremental plan is a good idea – at least get the system working better – and little morrie promising there won’t be more mechanical falures – who does he think he’s fooling? The pity for the voters of NSW is that Peter Debnam is a bigger fool than Morrie.

    As for you Oakeshott, if Labor have delivered lotusland in western Sydney why are you still in Port Macquarie??

  19. blackburn – also it was the labor govt who started expanding the east hills line as part of quicker services to canberra and the regional areas past macarthur… i could list many other upgrades but i wont be nachy….

    why doesnt someone do something about the big GST rout in NSW? Can’t a leader simply stand up and say they’ll bring all the premiers and PM to the table demanding a deal where every dollar spent in a state stays in the state…. otherwise i reckon someone should make nsw pull out of the gst arrangement and enact the equivalent 10%gst but as a state tax… that way the system would be the same but nsw would keep all the money it lost in tax….

  20. “Your such a partisan, I love it.”

    Ted you’re such an ignorant sh*t. It must be your half baked private (but largely public funded but unaudited) school education that has left you incoherent and lacking any grammatical skills.

  21. Re: Infrastructure

    In my opinion Politicians like projects that can be completed in one parliamentary term, so they can display their achievements before the next election. Unfortunately, new railway lines usually take longer than one parliamentary term to build. For example, the Epping to Chatswood railway project commenced in 2001 and isn’t due for completion until 2008.
    For that reason, both sides of politics have been reluctant to expand the metropolitan rail network.
    Here’s are list of new lines that have opened in the last 30 years (in reverse chronological order).
    Epping to Chatswood – Carr/Labor (still under construction)
    Cumberland line – Carr/Labor (this is a short section that allows direct services between Campbelltown and Blacktown)
    Airport Line – Fahey/Liberal (opened when Carr was premier)
    East Hills to Glenfield – Wran/Unsworth/Labor
    Eastern Suburbs Line – Askin/Liberal (opened in 1979 when Wran was Premier)
    In addition to these, the Wran government expanded the outer/inter urban network by electrifying existing lines to Lithgow, Port Kembla, Newcastle and from Riverstone to Richmond.


    M2 – tollway instigated by Liberal Govt (Greiner/Fahey) & completed after Carr became Premier

    M4 was known as the F4 Freeway prior to Greiner becoming premier. It consisted of 2 sections: Concord to Mays Hill and Propect to Jamisontown (Mulgoa Rd). Greiner Govt build the missing section between Mays Hill and Propect and put a Toll on the existing road at Silverwater.

    F5 from Casula (Hume Hwy) to Moorebank (Heathcoate Rd) and Prestons to Campbelltown (and beyond) were constructed by Wran/Unsworth Governments. Greiner Govt renamed it M5 and built Tollway from Moorebank (Heathcoate Rd) to Beverly Hills (King Georges Rd).
    M5 section from Casula (Hume Hwy) to Prestons and M5 East freeway from Beverly Hills (King Georges Rd) to Airport were constructed by Carr Government. The sections constructed by Carr and Greiner Govts are about equal in length.

    I’m sure that is all pretty boring to psephologists!!!

  22. oakshott

    That is called public transprt, there are also public schooling, public hospital and police force. These are where our taxes goes toward

    In the last 12 years, the budget of NSW has almost doubled, yet little had been done in our transport system, school, hospital is at its worst, police are understaffed, where has all the money gone?

    That is the big problem with this labor govenment, while I think the liberals are idiots and I won’t be voting for Debman, I think this labor government has probably been the worst dovernment at handling resources of any government in Australia. They are really just incompetant

  23. The Nepean Teaching Hospital was a good example of spin over substance. Greiner unveiled the plaque in early 1990 but that was the only evidence of hospital improvements for a few years. We next saw Greiner in May 1991 when he was campaigning at the hospital.
    NOW THIS IS THE INTERESTING BIT: During the tour he collapsed with renal colic. Polair1 was called in to chopper him to the Sanatorium at Wahroonga because the biggest hospital (now a teaching hospital) for a population of 400,000 did not have a functioning urology service!
    Even Lismore was able to do better than this when the same thing happened to Tony Abbott.

    I forgot to mention the lynch pin of the road system the M7 which has finished the bypass of Sydney and greatly reduced the congestion of the west. It as finished after I left.

    Dovif – I accept your views of public infrastructure as a common view but I think the election will show that more people now have greater and better access to state services as a result of the last 12 years. Not many of these people take part in political web sites.

  24. oakshoot

    quite contrary to your minority view. Today’s telegraph servey shows that 55% of (55%) of people who is planning to vote Labor thinks they have done a poor job and do not deserve to be re-elected.

    There is strong view in the community that labor had run this state very poorly and spending on services and infrastructure has been non existent. Add that to the 45% who plans to vote Liberal, and you have almost 75% of the people of the state who thinks that labor should not be re-elected. However Debnam is so bad that the liberals is just unelectable. If only Brogdan was slightly less stupid.

  25. * Linch-pin = a pin passed through the end of an axle to hold the wheel in place, hence the part of something that holds it together
    * Lynch-pin = presumably a pin belonging to the late Sir Phillip Lynch.

    A good example of a “dead figure of speech” – no-one actually knows what a linch-pin is any more, so no-one knows how to spell it.

  26. Indeed – “Linch-pin” now joins “the pack”- among the dead figures of speech – ah ephemeral vocabulary – you have to love it.

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