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. The Greens can’t do that Ben – as Adam says the Democrats could take votes away from the Coalition by being from the centre – the Greens are trying to do it from the left.

  2. Adam Says: That would defeat one of the purposes of the juggernaut for Hindus, which is to move towards nirvana by being meritoriously crushed beneath its wheels.

    I Say: Then it should be called an Arrgh-onaut.

    Jasmine you are quite right – Deakin at least (and maybe other savvier/younger delegates like Higgins) predicted Senators would soon come to vote on party lines. That doesn’t mean they were opposed to the idea of state representation, just skeptical of the design or hopes of state-righters.

  3. Peter’s correct – the Greens are a left party, not a centre party. Quite a few Democrats voters gave their second preference to the Libs.

  4. I must admit i can’t follow Andren’s logic here. Surely it must be nigh-on impossible for an independent to attract enough votes across the whole state to win a Senate seat (it’s been done in Tasmania but you only neeed about 100 votes for a quota there…..). I expect Andren might get some votes from the Orange/Bathurst area, but where else? How many people in Sydney or the coast would even have heard of him?

  5. Peter and Sacha, sure the Greens don’t take many votes from the conservatives (not many, although some), but Rudd is taking from them, not back from the Greens. The polls are showing this. Greens support is relatively steady against the Rudd-o-naught, but the Libs are dropping.

    Surely that makes a 2Lib, 3 ALP, 1 Grn split in Tas and WA a real likelihood.

  6. Peter and Sacha: I think you are referring to my second-to-last paragraph. I meant to be referring to Andren in that case, not the Greens. Obviously the Greens can’t do that, which is part of the reason why the coalition gained control of the Senate. But Andren could, if he gets sufficient coverage and support.

    I could also see the scenario where the Greens and Andren are both in the last three candidates going for the last spot and, like the Greens and ALP in 2004, one is knocked out and elects the other. Considering the opacity of preference deals, and Andren’s previous sentiments (in his autobiography he referred to voting #2 for the Greens in his seat and in the upper house voting Greens) I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Also I don’t think the preference deal between the ALP and the Greens in NSW prohibits the Greens preferencing someone else, eg. Andren, ahead of Labor in the Senate.

  7. I would agree with the seeming consensus that Nettle will not be re-elected and come 1/7/08 there will be a new ALP Senator.

    Someone mentioned WA as a possibility for the Greens – any news from there?

  8. Andren will try and be a combination de facto Democrat candidate and a rural protest candidate. If he sticks to a heavily protectionist, buy back Telstra and Qantas etc etc etc and gets enough coverage, I think he might squeak in at the expense of either Nettle or the third coalition candidate

  9. I don’t see how, objectively, people can say this far in advance that Kerry Nettle won’t be re-elected.

    I’ll admit that she will have a harder time getting the votes than Greens candidates in some other states, in particular WA and Victoria and obviously Tasmania. But John Kaye came within about 40,000 votes of the ALP candidate in NSW, and recent results in NSW, Queensland and Victorian elections show the Greens vote going up, either by very small margins in NSW and Victoria or much more in Queensland and South Australia.

    If you look at the last election, we had a good chance, and came close to winning in all states. In Queensland, until the last minute many were still talking about Drew Hutton winning the final spot, rather than Barnaby Joyce. In SA and Victoria, more favourable preference deals from the ALP and Democrats would have secured us those two seats, and in NSW we came close on the total primary vote.

    So looking at it objectively, the Greens on the mainland are in a position where they could win Senate seats in all states or no states with a relatively small swing one way or the other in our primary vote.

    So can someone please try and explain why the hell you would write off Kerry Nettle at the moment?

  10. Just a brief correction

    Russel Trood was the sixth senator from Queensland

    Not Barnaby Joyce

    And Nettle is a goose, she does more damage to the Green brand than anyone or anything else the parties deals with

    the greens should hope for her to lose, for credibilities sake

  11. Andrew: No, Joyce was the one in the death seat, not Trood. Trood was technically elected last, but it was Joyce’s seat that was in danger of going to Hutton due to the fall of preferences.

    Peter Stephens: In 2004, the Democrat seat went fairly cleanly to the Greens. Short of some strange occurrence, I’d expect the same to happen again this year.

  12. from the libs. targeting the hip pocket scare campaign

    As reported in today’s media, a report commissioned by the State Labor Governments recommends an increase in the GST.

    The report highlights the serious risk of a federal Labor government working hand in hand with its State Labor counterparts.

    As the Treasurer said today,

    “We, the Coalition, will not agree to an increase in the GST and we have the ability to veto any demand by the eight States and territories.

    Of course, if Kevin Rudd is elected, if Labor forms Government federally, along with Labor Governments in all of the States and Territories they will be able to get unanimous agreement for an increase in the GST rate, there will be no checks and balances.

    …whenever State Labor Governments make a demand on Mr Rudd, he bends over backwards to accommodate… his whole background as a State public servant means that when Premiers demand things he is an easy target.

    …An inexperienced leader who has a history at rolling over to State demands is their best chance – wall to wall Labor, six States, two Territories and Federally – is the best chance that Labor will ever get to increase the GST rate.”

  13. bill weller, but are people listening to them and/or believing them? The next lot of polls will be interesting. Really, what government in their right mind would suggest putting up the GST and expect to be returned the following election. It is so much BS.

  14. Nettle -might- be re-elected, but probably not.

    Greens Odds IMHO:

    Tas: 95%
    WA: 50%
    Vic: 40%
    SA: 30%
    NSW: 30%
    QLD: 20%
    ACT: 1%
    NT: 0%

    – Death of Dems = No Prefs
    – ALP vote rise pushing Greens into 7/8th place
    – Libs have started putting the Greens last
    – DLP/FF/CDP always put the Greens last
    – FF will double from 2 -> 4%, concentrated in SA and QLD with some Vic
    – Federal Greens vote typically falls compared to state election result
    – Labor voters are unlikely to punt on Greens when they are trying to oust Howard
    – I would give the Greens 0% in Qld, except Pauline is running again. The only reason Drew Hutton came close was because of major party GTV coralling away from her last time.
    – Labor will probably preference some other parties ahead of the Greens, resulting in preference starvation

  15. Re Bennelong:

    have quickly crunched booth by booth results from last Saturday and come up with the following result:

    ALP 26765 38.71%
    LIB 24108 34.87%
    GRN 6637 9.60%
    UNITY 2886 4.17%
    DEM 1420 2.05%
    CDP 2502 3.62%
    OTH 4828 6.98%
    69146 100.00%

    On 2PP, depending on assumptions about preference flows – note that my mail has 30-40% exhausting – this is roughly:

    ALP 53.5%
    Lib 47.5%

    Make of this what you will, but there were really only two major issues working in Labor’s favour on the weekend and one of them was Federal.

    New to this forum but thought it was worth contributing

  16. Andren’s decision seems to me to be political suicide – especially given the chances of a hung lower house seem higher than normal at this election. His only chance of election would be to get preferenced by major parties ahead of the Greens/FF – and surviving long enough to get those preferences.

    On WA, I’ve got a few thoughts. The Labor vote in WA was exceptionally low at the last Federal election, so there’s really only one way for it to go.

    A few people have mentioned Graham Edwards personal vote in Cowan, but I’d think a vast majority of that vote would tend to be Labor voters anyway. As a consequence, I’d guess Cowan would remain Labor, but remain fairly marginal even if the swing is on in WA. Cowan is pure mortgage belt as well, and an interest rates rise would hurt the Libs in WA.

    Stirling is a seat of contrasts, with as large strong Liberal section, a large strong Labor section, and the remaining bit being the swing section, around Scarborough/Doubleview/Innaloo. Demographic changes have certainly brought more money into this area of the electorate, but it’s also brought in a lot of the “left elite” if you like, making the area more similar to an inner-city electorate, holding up the Labor vote. It’s my electorate, and I’d guess it’s a likely Labor gain at this election, as the swinging section is the sort of area where environment will work, while Hicks and Iraq will work to some extent (and thus Tinley’s an inspired candidate).

    Hasluck should be Labor heartland in many ways. With areas like Midland, Forrestfield, Maddington and Gosnells domainating the area which to me scream Labor heartland (if there was such a thing in WA), it’s hard to work out how the Libs won the seat. Add on to that the hills areas tending to be marginal at state level, and I’d think Labor would be confident of winning this seat.

    In Swan, my gut feel is that interest rates could again come into play, as the demographic changes around Victoria Park in particular have brought a lot of recent homebuyers into the area. Given that, it’s hard to imagine it switching to the Libs if there’s a hint of movement upward there.

    I saw someone earlier say that the Libs were thinking of targetting Brand. Whoever in the Libs thinks that’s worth the effort is insane and learnt nothing from the Peel by-election.

    Other than those seats, there’s really nothing that’s in anyone’s targets.

    Canning could be interesting – I’m convinced that 9.6% is completely unnatural margin, and if (and it’s a big IF) Labor were to get a 6% swing in WA, I’d actually think they’d win Canning – particularly given how poorly the Dawesville vote held up for the Libs at the last state election (yes, they won it, but…). The bulk of the seat is, again, territory where the interest rates campaign would have bitten hard, and it could swing savagely again.

    Kalgoorlie is totally unpredictable. Don’t even try and guess what it will do – it could be a Labor seat or a safe Liberal seat after the election. The key I guess is how much of the mining boom centered around the electorate is actually flowing into the electorate. While it’s *the* electorate where the boom is happening, it’s worth noting the high number of fly-in-fly-out workers, most of who are based in Perth electorates don’t vote in Kal.

    Moore is out of range for Labor I’d say at 10.8% – the only reason for that seat coming into play would be (again) interest rates, and if Moore swung that savagely, then you’d have to bring Tangney into question. Quite frankly, Labor will not hold those seats any time in the near future. I only mention it because Stewart J did earlier.

    Forrest, based on the WA south-west is losing it’s sitting member, but it’s still at 10.5% – and Labor struggles to win any of the state seats in the area, so I’d think it near on impossible as well.

    Of the rest? There’s no chance of any of Perth, Fremantle, Curtin, O’Connor or Pearce changing hands whatsoever. I would be intrigued to see if the Greens can get an improvement in their section of the vote in Perth, Fremantle and Curtin (and Swan and Stirling).

  17. I think on the balance of probability, Turnbull will retain Wentworth. Although I think that the demographics of Wentworth are changing -particularly because of the latest redistribution and perhaps it may have a Labor MP in the future -I don’t think it will change hands this time around or indeed as long as Turnbull is in Parliament. If Kevin Rudd wins in a landslide then, yes, it’s possible but I think Turnbull’s high profile and personal vote probably gives him the edge. The absence of Peter King will also make it easier for him to retain the seat

    Andren’s decision to run for the Senate is bizzare -he obviously wants to become the new Brian Harradine or something. He may have enough of a personal vote statewide to be in competition but I think it’s going to take a lot of preference deals and good luck and personally I think he’s taking an awfully big and unecessary risk instead of recontesting Calare. I bet John Cobb’s a very happy man though

    Labor’s prospects in Western Australia are not looking good. I think Labor is probably in a good position to win Stirling and for what it’s worth, I think it will probably keep Swan. If Kim Wilkie could survive 2001 and 2004 -even though I am aware of the argument that he survived in 2004 only because the Liberals didn’t field a good candidate-I think he’ll most probably survive this election

    I think where Labor will most likely be in trouble is in Brand and Cowan. Both have sitting members with high personal votes who are retiring -I do believe that in all likelihood Labor would not have retained Cowan in 2004 if it wasn’t for Edwards’s personal vote -and I think the Burke factor and the absence of Beazley will count heavily against Labor. Labor must pick up Hasluck and possibly Canning to offset these two losses but Canning has such a huge margin, it will be exceedingly difficult.

    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). 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. For what it’s worth, I think Labor will probably win back Braddon if Sidebottom is the candidate

    Quite frankly I don’t see Rudd having the numbers to form government. The fact that Labor is the incumbent party in all states will not help him and several seats in NSW, Victoria and Queensland that he needs to win (Dickson, Dobell, Herbert, McEwen and Patterson are just four that come to mind) have such inflated margins that even a substantial swing will be insufficient for the seat to change hands. I think there will be a swing to Labor and Labor will gain seats but probably not enough

  18. I agree with The Speaker’s assessments of the Senate races. Because of the expected rise in the Labor primary vote and the disappearance of the Democrats, the Greens will be left stranded with no surpluses coming to them even if their primary vote goes, which I don’t think it will. I think Brown will be re-elected, but no other Green will get up. Nettle’s seat will go either to Labor or Andren.

    Andren has effectively handed Calare back to the Nats. That makes no difference to the 16 seats Labor has to win to get a majority in the House. But it does mean that if Labot picks up 13 seats, the Coalition will have a majority. There will only be a hung parliament if Labor picks up 14 or 15 seats (assuming no other indies are elected).

  19. Where does Peter Andren think he is – Tasmania?

    If he managed 2% in a statewide poll he’d be lucky. Even if he could get independents to put him on HTV cards in at least 50% of seats, he’d be struggling – and they would have to be manning every booth as well!!

    And to Gary Bruce’s comments wall to wall ALP governments and the GST. It’s a definite possibility especially if there’s a budget crisis in NSW – always likely and Peter Beattie doesn’t want to raise his shamefully low state taxes.

  20. I think that underrates his chances somewhat. He has a high profile and the media loves him, so he will get lots of free air. Running from the centre, he will be better placed to pick up the old Democrat centre vote than the feral Nettle. There are two ways he can win: Labor falls below expectations: say 2.5 quotas (36% primary), and gives Andren half a quota surplus. OR If Labor does very well and gets 3.5 quotas (50%), and again gives him half a quota surplus. He will certainly get everyone else’s preferences.

  21. If Labor gets a good primary vote in NSW, I’d expect Labor to pick up 3 senate seats. If the coalition gets a poor primary vote, say 35%, then the last Senate seat will be in play and would probably be a toss-up between the Greens, Andren and the 3rd coalition candidate. It all depends on how well Andren would do!

    In Qld, unless Labor gets an extremely good primary vote, I’d expect them to win 2 senate seats and the coalition 3 – the Greens would pick up a seat if Labor doesn’t win a 3rd seat. (Labor has never won 3/6 senate seats in a half-senate election – the Dems picked up the 3rd non-coalition seat except for last time).

  22. Chris from Edgecliff,

    Thanks for your insights into the electorate of wentworth.

    If Wentworth is, as you say, “surely one of the most unstable electorates in terms of people moving in and out of the electorate”… I think that this will actually work in Mr Turnbull’s favour, as due to the changed electoral Act, the roll closes 1 day after the election is announced, and this probably means that many potential ALP voters will not, in any case, be enrolled there. If enrolment figures mentioned sometime ago on another string on this site are indicative, they may not be enrolled anywhere.

  23. I predict Andren will perform as well as Peter Lewis did in South Australia when he changed houses, ie unimpressively.

    Admittedly Lewis only jumped at the last minute whereas Andren is planned however I don’t think that amidst the noise and emotion of a federal election an independent senate candidate can achieve traction, especially in NSW.

  24. No, Labor doesn’t need a “extremely good” primary vote to win three seats in Queensland. Three quotas is 42.9%, so they only need to get to 40% or so and they can get the rest as preferences. In 2004 they only got 31.6%, so they need an increase of 8 or 9%. In 1983, 1990 and 1993 Labor’s Senate Queensland primary vote was 38-39%, and that was in the days when the Democrats were getting up to 10%. With the Dems gone, and if the Greens don’t do much better than the 5% they got last time, as I expect, Labor on current form can easily get 40% of the primary vote and win the 3rd seat.

  25. William Bowe, re your post of March 29th, 2007 at 5:07 am …

    Those poll figures would seem to be consistent with your earlier posts about the effect of ‘Brian Burke etc’ on the Federal Election being fairly limited, assuming the poll figures are not some sort of statistical abberation.

    Have you any thoughts on whether or not many WA voters would be upset by the replacement of Mr Beazley by Mr Rudd?

  26. Ah, William,

    Not that it really matters a hoot, nor is a bother, but posts seem to be displayed as being posted an hour later than they actually were posted.

    Maybe it has something to with you Australians playing with your clocks over summer, while we Queenslanders are content to leave them alone? I thought that everywhere except TAS was (is) back to proper time?

  27. Just had a ring around of members of the Greens Kingston branch, many with different community group ties. They are all saying the same thing. Richardson is working the electorate well and has helped many individuals. As for the ALP candidate she is a fish out of water ( not my words ) I suppose if you dont live in the electorate it would start to show up. I would not put Kingston down as a win just yet. Richardson has a few tricks up his sleeve. One is the moving of his office to a more visible position. If the ALP did not have the ACTUs YR@W campaign active here they would be gone. Rishworth if she wins owes us ( YR@W Kingston) big time.

  28. I believe that the reason population, rather than the number of electors, was used to determine the number of seats in each state was that SA had votes for women at federation, but the other future states did not. Similarly, Aborigines had the vote in Victoria, but not in other parts of Australia, which is why they were not counted in the census.


    The claim that the federal government cannot increase the rate of the GST without the consent of the states has always been a furphy. The GST legislation does require that agreement, but the federal parliament can easily remove the requirement for the states’ agreement. Its only use is as a political debating point, which John Howard has latched onto. Those who produced the taxation report for Labor that gave him the opening should never get to do another report for any Labor government in the universe or even one outside it like the ACT’s.

    I didn’t pick you as a hater, even of the ALP right. I suppose it is an article of faith with you that the “left” is progressive. I don’t see it. I certainly do not think a shift to the left will help Labor, not that I agree with some aspects of the current shift to the right, even though I think some of the reporting by The Australian is nothing but mischief-making.

    Alex on the Bus Says,

    There was no debacle in the 2004 Senate election or the 2006 Victorian Legislative Council election. As you recognise, the aim of any party’s preference negotiators is not to get candidates from someone else’s party elected who might share a few policy points with their own party but to get their own party’s candidates elected.

    Given that, whether right or wrong in their votes, the Greens voted against the ALP in every Legislative Council vote as of last week, whereas the both Labor parties voted together five times, it seems that my statement last year that the ALP was disappointed it did not have two DLP MLCs elected is being proved correct. The Greens have voted with the DLP more than they have with ALP, so perhaps the DLP and the Greens could do a preference deal for the Senate this year.

    I am assuming that your use of the term “Santas” is meant to refer to the DLP. I do not know if there is any connection between the current DLP and the NCC (which my reading suggest is more connected to the Liebral Party than anything else), but I can assure you that, if the NCC had had its way, it would have closed the DLP down long before 1978 and that the idea that Bob Santamaria controlled the DLP is false.

    The 2004 ALP-DLP-FF deal was designed to elect Jacinta Collins (the No. 3 ALP candidate). It was reported in the press before the election. Any ALP member who did not know about it did not take enough interest in politics to justify being a member of a political party. I am certain there will not be the same deal this time, not because of anything to do with “progressive” policies”, but because the practicalities of the next election will be different.

  29. If the current trend continues Labor won’t need anyone’s preferences to win three seats in Victoria because (as I keep saying) Labor will get three quotas or better on the primaries. The Democrat vote has collapsed and gone about 60/40 Labor/Liberal. The Greens can only hope to do better than their 10% of hardcore ferals if they move to the centre, which of course their rank-and-file won’t allow (just ask bill).

  30. I’m sure if the ALP falls a seat or two short of winning the election, and an FF arrangement would have won the seat, the number crunchers will sit back and bask in their ideological purity, knowing they gave away government to help get another green senator elected.


    I think there’ll be another deal somewhere, just not Victoria.

  31. Charlie,

    Somewhere on Mumble there is a post on the directability of FF how to vote cards. FF voters follow the HTVs very strongly and it turns out that in 2004 it would have been better for the ALP to have preferences from FF than for example The Greens in a number of seats (Kingston and Makin come to mind), so the possibility is open that the ALP may do a deal in the Senate in exchange for lower house preferences, maybe in SA.

  32. William, do you have any gossip on candidates in Fremantle? This is the only seat to have been held by four Labor cabinet ministers in a row (Curtin, Beazley senior, Dawkins, Lawrence). A first-rate candidate is called for.

  33. William, do you have any gossip on Labor candidates in Fremantle? This is the only seat to have been held by four Labor Cabinet ministers in a row (Curtin, Beazley, Dawkins, Lawrence), so it demands a first-rate candidate.

  34. William, do you have any gosip on Labor candidates in Fremantle? This is the only seat to have been held by four Labor Cabinet ministers in a row (Curtin, Beazley, Dawkins, Lawrence), so it demands a first-rate candidate.

  35. I’d be curious to know what that claim regarding directability is based on. With the exceptions of Brisbane and Leichhardt in 2004, have Family First ever put the ALP ahead of the Libs? In neither seat did more than 20% of FFP votes go to the ALP.

    Simply, Family First voters are conservatives. It’s a nonsense to suggest that they could (or even would) deliver Kingston or Makin to the ALP.

  36. “I predict Andren will perform as well as Peter Lewis did in South Australia when he changed houses, ie unimpressively.”

    I suspect Andren does have a South Australian precedent in mind, but it’s Nick Xenophon rather than Peter Lewis.

  37. Adam, Lawrence named her preferred successor as part of the Lateline report – I can’t recall her name but it’ll be in the transcript when its posted. A 40yo UN official who is returning to Australia after ten years abroad. Sounds like she will indeed be a first-rate candidate.

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