Idle speculation: late March edition

By popular demand, an exciting new episode of Idle Speculation. You will have to make your own conversation starters – my focus has been elsewhere. I’m sure you’ll manage.

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.

250 comments on “Idle speculation: late March edition”

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  1. Bill

    Your story re the report by the states recommending an increase in the GST is false.
    Please provide the excerpt from the report that shows this recommendation. Such a recommendation only exists in the mind of Costello.
    The author of the report was on the radio and stated the report made no such recommendation, it was an invention of Costello as part of the govt. latest scare campaign. The author likened Costello’s claim to something out of the Da Vinci Code and said it would mean the state premiers were the Knights Templar.
    On the GST it would not matter who was in power, you must remember that the GST was approved by the state governments, liberal and labor , with a liberla federal government.
    Costello stated that a liberal government would not increase the level of the GST, like they would never ever bring in a GST.
    If a reelected Howard government proposed an increased GST to the states in exchange for business taxes being dropped and threatened the states by withholding GST unless they complied then an increased GST would be brought in.
    This would benefit business to the detriment of consumers.

  2. Arbie

    that report was from the Liberal party email news. I get email news/briefs from all the parties. I did not write it so if its false take it up with them. I was showing the Libs way of trying to gain support through the hip pocket

  3. Adam said
    The Greens can only hope to do better than their 10% of hardcore ferals if they move to the center, which of course their rank-and-file won’t allow (just ask bill).

    Strangely I am attacked off this list as being to center or even rightist and attacked on this list as a commie. Goes to show i cant please anyone. If the Greens were to move to the center then there would be no point being a member. Might as well be in the ALP with no voice and pro big business.

  4. BenC the ALP did deals with FF in the SA State Election and at the last minute FF changed its mind so i have been told by ALP members. FF is not a trustworthy party.

  5. Bill

    My apologies, I originally read your post as a fact from you,not as a report from the liberal party.

    I think it is just the first in a long line of campaigns the libs will run to find an issue that will get the voters back to them.

    We have had the “unions will run the country”, now the “GST will increase”, the next ones will be “labor is soft on drugs”, “labor will let more boats in”, “labor will allow gay marriages”, “labor will destroy the family unit” etc on interest rates, housing, health, muslims, our christian heritage, employment, industry …..

  6. Bill

    What are your thoughts on Humphries seat in the ACT.
    I know a few people there and their thoughts are that Humphries is a bit on the nose, he is a failed local opposition leader and has not supported local government legislation that has been vetoed by Howard.

    It is a big ask to get the 2nd seat, but ACT is a large public servant town and they are next in Howards work choices sights. My friends tell me that conditions are already being cut with penalty rates for shift work and public holidays significantly cut and it was Howard that ended the generous super scheme for new entrants to the PS.

    Humphries did get an increased vote in 04, but I don’t think many could vote for mad mark in 04.

    ACT is supposed to be environmentally aware, another plus for the greens.

    Could the greens and labor work to get the second seat.

  7. PD1981 Says:
    March 29th, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Tasmania is also difficult for Labor. I’ve heard that there’s been some infighting about the candidate in Bass, which will not help their chances there (also don’t forget that the Liberals have held Bass for most of the past three decades).

    The Bass candidacy was originally handed to Steve Reissig in the factional carve-up of seats. Reissig narrowly failed to win a seat in state parliament at the 2006 state election. However, he pulled the plug not long after winning endorsement

    Labor’s new candidate is Launceston Deputy Mayor Jodie Campbell. From afar, this seems like a good outcome the ALP, who have held the seat for three of the past five terms.

    Franklin has a retiring Labor MP who has indicated that he is prepared to back the Liberal candidate over his own (or at least he was saying that a few months ago) and so nothing can be taken for granted there.

    Retiring Labor MP Harry Quick is indeed backing Liberal candidate Vanessa Goodwin. But the only practical implications of this are that we can now tag Quick the Zell Miller of Australian politics. For Franklin is a seat safe within Labor’s keeping.

  8. Arbie said

    Could the greens and labor work to get the second seat.

    At this point of time the ALP does not see the point of Green prefs and many Green candidates are getting the cold shoulder from them. The Libs in the Marginals are working hard for Green prefs

  9. The constant Green bashing on here by Adam in particular bothers me naught and is in fact a sign that opposite to what they are saying the Greens prefs are important otherwise why say its not constantly. The other point the ALP are showing by this form of bashing is that the Greens are a real threat to ALP seats in the future and maybe in this election due to polarization of the electorate the Greens vote may dip slightly or remain stagnant. ( i believe it will rise in some States considerably ) But in coming Elections both State and Federal we will start to see Green lower house breakthroughs the nightmare of every right wing ALP member

  10. My personal opinion of Green preferences should be that they go to candidates in order of how they line up within Green principles and policies. There should not be an instant expectation that they will always go to the ALP.

  11. And after reading the above that would be an central approach which should make Adam happy as he sees that as a way forward for the Greens. That would mean most of the parties would be sitting center right and whats the point of that especially when left wing parties worldwide are making a comeback with Socialist Parties moving into Green Party territory

    While it is generally known that the Dutch share the nomenclature of
    GREEN + LEFT in the form of the GroenLinks [Green Left]Party, this
    article on the Durch SP is very interesting. It comes from the
    Canadian based “Socialist Project” journal and I have adapted it from
    its pdf roots:

  12. On the Senate people have mentioned Qld, Tas & NSW (in regards to the Greens), but not Vic or WA. These would be the two states I would think have the highest chance of electing Green candidates. Last election recorded no change to the ALP Senate vote in Vic (albeit 4% off from the 98 election). I’m not sure that the ALP will regain that 4% (assuming that at least some of it is now in the Green vote). In WA there was a swing against the ALP, which should be corrected, but the 98 vote was only 34.7% so I wouldn’t see the ALP vote going above 35-36% (and perhaps staying a little lower). The 98 result for SA was 32% also, so I actually think the ALP will be in trouble to pick up 3rd seats. I pick 98 because even with the Hanson vote, you can see much of it coming off the Libs, but not returning to the ALP in subsequent years. I personally don’t think the ALP vote will return to historic levels of 20 years ago (although this election might prove me wrong!!).

    While not prepared to write off the Greens chances in NSW (the ALP’s vote is on the rise, but that as ON disappears, but now with AAFI coming back into play), I would still argue that (as others have said) Vic doesn’t offer too much in the way of extra votes for the ALP, and WA is still uncertain territory. And on NSW AAFI are now polling 1.5% (and Shooters 2.5%) in parts Western Sydney they poll even higher (on the Mac Fields booth I was on they polled 5.6%), so I think the ON vote is alive and well and being soaked up by assorted other rightwingers – they will direct to the Libs/Indies and only come into play in a tussle between the ALP & Greens.

    Mr Q: nice analysis of WA, but I think you write off Pearce too early. I expect Moylan to lose 4-5% off her vote (bringing her to 55-45 on 2pp) and setting the seat up to fall in 2010. The urban end of the electorate is moving away from the Libs as it increases in population, and the rural end slowly depopulates (or re-populates with tree-changers, depending on where) this could have an interesting effect on the seat in future with more swinging voters and a less stable ‘core’ of ALP-Lib voters.

    Finally, as to Adam’s post re the Greens moving to the centre – this is already happening, just as it is inevitable in any party as it matures/ages. Whether it happens much prior to this election, however, will be open to view when the policies are announced and when strategies become clear. But I would suggest that the days of dread-headed/brightly coloured candidates is over, and the days of suits are in. Certainly in most states other than NSW there has been some movement within in the party to soften policies and attitudes towards a number of controversial/contentious issues. How this is broadcast to the electorate remains to be seen.

  13. Bill,

    “Greens prefs are important otherwise why say its not constantly.”

    umm because that’s what they think. It’s a little strange you think people are using reverse psychology in their opinions.

    All research has shown that no matter which way the Greens preference, the voters tend to ignore it. It has a microscopic difference of like 10 votes.

    Greens preferences are largely symbolic. Labor uses the Green/Lib preference deals as a way of attacking the greens to drive down the Green Primary vote and thus prop up the ALP primary.

  14. Charlie,

    Err… lower house FFP preferences are never going to go to the ALP, so the above statement is nonsense.

    They did in marginals in SA and QLD.

    So the above statement is nonsense.

  15. re FFP preferences: the real question is did they follow the HTV when it directed them to preference the ALP.

    PHON voters tended to follow the HTV quite well, such that when they produced their double-sided HTV the vote split almost exactly 50-50 (I scrutineered the Nedlands by-election in 01 and watched their count – interestingly about 15% of PHON voters went 2-Green). Whether FFP voters do I don’t know.

  16. Yes, as per Bill’s question, I’m also wondering – what are the earliest and latest dates by which the election can/must be called?

  17. Yes I’m aware of the proportionality thing Sacha, some seats don’t even meet anywhere near quota.

    Coota, good for you, Nationals seats are typically pro-farmer and anti-townspeople. You did well to be able to afford to move from those seats. The one vote, one value is fine if there is equality of opportunity but as I said, the distribution marginalises voters – which is probably a good case for voluntary voting. I do find it interesting however when the “bush” makes a complaint, its whinging but when the exact same thing finally reaches the “city” people jump up and down. I understand it is a population thing but it shows you how the stigma the populous is spun works. I say this because I only began to follow politics a few years ago and heard the city/country thing so often – I dismissed it as nonsense but unfortunately its true as I’m now beginning to see. It is interesting to see what you think I implied.

    I still think Ross Cameron should’ve won Parramatta – he came clean at least. Yes Cobb will probably win Calare now.

    On towards the Federal Election.

  18. Its true that Greens preferences are largely symbolic, but it can be one hell of a symbol.

    If Howard trots out a few more policies like the international forestry agreement and the Greens decide to preference Libs over Labor it is reasonable to expect that it would have a effect on Labor’s primary vote, especially since Labor is working very hard to present themselves as an environmental party

  19. # bill weller Says:
    “What is the earliest and latest that Howard can call an election?”

    I believe the latest possible date is 19th January 2008, but there’s never been a January Federal election before, so you’d assume early December is the latest likely date.

  20. I think an interesting implication for Andrens decision to run in the senate (and presumably organise a coalition of independents at the H. of Reps level so the ‘how to vote cards’ throughout the state can get him over the minimum 200 000 votes he needs) will be the possibility for these local independents who are affiliated with Andren to have their own profiles boosted. In particular, a popular independent who runs in the new Maquarie or Calare with Andrens backing may get up, or more likely, decide the outcome according to their preferences.
    As Andren has now registered himself as party to get above the line on the senate ticket, the ‘coalition of independents’ may prove to be a formidal force for preferences in the semi-rural electorates.


    It’s even how it will go. If in the next one Labor and Rudd’s numbers go up even slightly, as a neutural observer, Liberals and Howard should at least attempt to fix their perception problems. Unless the Budget is really good for them (and this will be delivered under pressure) they will lose, and lose heavily. I’m shocked if this polling continues, they don’t go start to go into damage control.

  22. ALP under attack?

    Back in the eighties when George Georges said he would oppose the
    Australia Card — then a project of the Hawke ALP government –they
    threatened to expel him and in effect forced him to resign. Now a
    certain starker realpolitick is asserting itself in the party — one
    that has no allusions as to even the pretense of democratic process.
    So theres’ a crasser and blunter autocracy in play here that has
    transcended factional alignment and become totally consensual.

    Look at Peter Garrett –see the man swing with the mode in play as
    “toeing the line” is all that matters. Doublethink. And the ALP do it
    so much better at it than the Coalition.

    dave riley

  23. C-Woo Rudd and co can only go one way and thats down. Its so early yet. Howard will have tricks up his sleeve. Money talks and im sure he will start up a interest rate type campaign a month before the election. Hes sitting back letting the ALP run out of steam ala tortoise and the Hare.

  24. Bill, another interest rate rise will take the wind out of Howard’s sails.
    I really don’t think you are reading the signs (and there are many) if you believe Howard can do a Houdini this time. Tell me Bill, if the economy is uppermost in the minds of the masses and the coalition is seen as the better economic managers how come the polls are as they are now? Are people forgetting about the economy now and they need reminding during the election campaign. Doesn’t ring true to me. Something is working against this government this time.

  25. Gary. C-Woo:

    I hope so an ALP win by 2-3 seats would be good. We don’t need a landslide to produce another arrogant government

  26. Bill

    I reckon a landslide would be a good result, it would give the libs a good clean out and also serve as a reminder to most pollies that they cannnot take voters for granted no matter how large a margin they have.

  27. Look at the current polls.

    It all started to go pear-shaped for Howard after the Obama comment.

    Anyone else agree with me?

  28. Agreed. The Obama moment may just go down as Howard’s version of the Latham ‘Troops home by Xmas’ episode. Funnily enough, it was regarding the same thing and goes to show just how different the political landscape is in 2007 compared to 2004. The media have certaily cottoned on to the worsening situation in Iraq this time around and the ‘little dessicated coconut’ cant get himself out of his bind.

  29. It’s not that what he said was bad, but it was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. This won’t cost him his job (interest rates, climate change, Work Choices and a general feeling of restlessness with Howard could do him in), but it was the minute where the whole 2001-2007 pseudo cold warish stuff ended (if you get my drift). Like the muslim thing. In the last six months, it has died down. A year ago it would have been a election issue. But now (barring another terror attack) it does not look like it. And this, as a person who does not like racism at all, can only be for the better of this country and drag Australia kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

  30. The public haven’t even heard of Obama.

    I think the polls are the way they are because Rudd is steady, he’s a fresh face – the government is old and boring.

  31. “The Greens can only hope to do better than their 10% of hardcore ferals if they move to the centre”

    I am surprised that Adam thinks that hardcore ferals are as much as 10% of the electorate. One would expect softcore ferals to number as many as their hardcore brethren and ferally-sympathetic non-ferals to be at least twice as numerous.

    That means that ferally-inclined people make up nearly half of the electorate. Perhaps the ALP should take them more seriously.

    Dismissing Greens voters as “hardcore ferals” is frankly a ridiculous claim whose only discernible function is to annoy people like Bill. So I can’t *possibly* imagine why Adam would make such statements…

  32. Rudd fresh face and boring like Howard. I hate to admit it but i was one of the people years ago who thought Rudd would have a chance against Howard. I miss the charismatic leader days

  33. Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon Nick Minchin, has released the following statement:

    “On behalf of her family and friends, I regret to advise that Senator Jeannie Ferris passed away last night.

    Jeannie died peacefully in hospital where she had been for several weeks, supported by her family and close friends.

    Jeannie will be sadly missed by her family, her many friends and Parliamentary colleagues.

    Jeannie served as a Liberal Senator for South Australia for almost eleven years, and has been Government Whip in the Senate since August 2002.

    Jeannie was an extraordinary human being who served her nation, her State and her Party with great distinction.

    Jeannie endured with typical fortitude her treatment for cancer in 2006, and her return to the Senate last year was courageous and warmly welcomed by all her Parliamentary colleagues.

    Arrangements for Jeannie’s funeral will be advised as soon as possible.

    Messages of condolence to Jeannie’s sons Robbie, Jeremy, and other family and friends should be sent to Jeannie’s Parliament House office.”

  34. There were some rumours that Terry Hicks was going to run with the Dems in Mayo, then there was an article in the advertiser a few weeks later saying that Hicks had turned down a spot on the SA Dems senate ticket.

  35. I’ve lived in Boohtby for 13 years and would like to point out some facts. Governments win on the back of local campaigns for seats. If you are going to write off Boothby how this for thought: I’ve never recevied ANY ALP material since moving here. According to the Advertiser, Senator Kirk turned down being the ALP candidate for Boothby, having been asked by Rudd. So that means there isn’t even a candidate with less than 9 months to the election. How can the ALP win the seat with an entrenched local candidate who has lived and worked in the area, and one who I receive material and see at the shopping centre? Remember that polls only cover national issues, not those that local MPs deal with.

  36. Jack Says: March 29th, 2007 at 1:40 pm It not over and done with. The Electoral Matters Review commitee is on the way. It you not interested skip it and move on. It is an electoral matters forum. If you want to make a submisison then now is the time to do it.

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