Idle Speculation: budget bounce edition

The following should be old news for the type of person who visits this site, but I will reiterate it for the record. The post-budget Newspoll has produced a surprise 2 per cent two-party shift in Labor’s favour, despite strong support for the budget itself, while another post-budget poll from Galaxy has Labor leading 57-43. There is slightly better news for the Coalition from a Galaxy poll of 800 voters in the Prime Minister’s electorate of Bennelong, which puts Labor’s lead at a not-insurmountable 52-48. Other developments of the past week:

• Gerard McManus of the Herald Sun gives some background to ALP state secretary Mark Arbib’s bid for Senate preselection in New South Wales:

Arbib reportedly wants to take over from Victorian senator Stephen Conroy as Labor’s Senate deputy leader – a contest that will cause serious internal ructions. However, under the original plan Arbib was to have taken the place of Michael Forshaw, a senator since 1994, who had himself taken the spot of another Labor head office chief, Graham Richardson. Senator Forshaw is not up for re-election and therefore his resignation would have created a casual vacancy for Arbib to step in. The problem was Senator Forshaw refused to go, demanding a promise in writing that he would be “looked after” in a similar way to the way Senator Amanda Vanstone was recently taken care of when she quit the Senate. But when the NSW powerbrokers declined to oblige, Forshaw decided to stay put, forcing the party to tip another woman, Senator Ursula Stevens (sic – should be Stephens – PB), down to the precarious third spot on the Senate ticket at the coming election. Senator Stevens is a former party president and possibly the only Labor senator who did not come straight from a union or an MP’s office into parliament.

• Don Farrell, the powerful state secretary of the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, has announced he will run for Labor Senate preselection in South Australia. It would appear that he is set to take the faction’s reserved position from incumbent Linda Kirk, who fell from favour after backing Kevin Rudd’s leadership bid in December and defying the conservative union’s opposition to the RU486 abortion pill. Farrell had earlier denied having designs on the seat, leading to a consensus that Kirk would be replaced by Adelaide lawyer Tim Stanley. According to Greg Kelton of The Advertiser, “Mr Farrell last ran for Parliament 20 years ago in the seat of Adelaide but was defeated after a particularly vicious campaign with racist overtones”. This refers to a 1988 by-election held upon the resignation of Chris Hurford, at which Labor lost a seat it had held since 1943; perhaps this site’s South Australian readers can provide further detail on the nature of the campaign.

• John Watson, a Tasmanian Liberal Senator since 1977, was dumped from the party ticket in Saturday’s preselection vote. The ticket will be headed by incumbent Richard Colbeck, followed by two political staffers, David Bushby and Don Morris.

• Colourful Melbourne libertarian Prodos Marinakis, whose endorsement as Liberal candidate for the state seat of Richmond was overturned by the party on the grounds that he was too interesting, has withdrawn his nomination for the Melbourne preselection citing “personal reasons&#148.

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.

262 comments on “Idle Speculation: budget bounce edition”

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  1. For what it’s worth, a bit of Victorian election gossip: The local press are alleging branch-stacking in the seat of Scullin, in an attempt to oust Jenkins, who is of the Left faction. Jenkins has been particularly active and visible in the community lately. With this sort of form, he might even speak in Parliament one of the days.

  2. Will Mike Bailey get any sort of swing against Hockey in North Sydney?
    Probably 2% at best, I reckon.
    The day the ALP wins North Sydney, hell freezes over.

  3. I don’t think an amendment for an immediate DD if the Senate blocks supply is that attractive. A hostile Senate could hold a government to ransom. Even though under current powers the Senate can force the circumstances for a DD, it’s a big step to make this automatic. This would almost certainly lead to much greater instability, and more frequent elections.

    A much better option is to abolish the Senate’s ability to block Supply.

  4. As the Senate is more represenative of the way people actually vote than the House of rRps, why not abolish the House’s ability to block Supply?

  5. That would be pointless, because the House by definition has more government members than opposition members. If the House votes against supply, then that would be a vote of no confidence in the Government, which would prompt an election.

  6. The House must initiate a supply bill, so any blockage in the House causes the government to fall. That is the Westminster system we inherited from Britain. It was how John Curtin became Prime Minister, by moving an amendment to vary the supply bill by one pound and having the amendment passed.

    The substance of Barwick’s advice to Kerr was that in Australia the Westminster convention extended to the need to guarantee supply in both houses. That has always been a controversial point of view, but has had to be accepted given the choices made in 1975.

  7. Chris, that would effectively lead to governments being formed in the Senate. There have certainly been British PM from the House of Lords.

  8. A Joint Committee on Constitutional Matters looked at the question of the Senate blocking supply in 1959.
    The conclusions were that this power was no longer tenable and 2 proposals were suggested for discussion:
    1) A deadlock be reached and grounds for a DD be established if a money bill does not pass the senate in 30 days or
    2) The GG call a joint sitting of parliament to debate supply and supply to be passed with a simple majority and a majority of members and senators from at least half the states.
    Neither proposal got any further than the committee report .

    It is a sad day for Australia if Ga-Gas advice in 1975 is accepted. We will have a popularly elected government held to ransom by a house whose reson d’etre disappeared at least 80 years ago and which is elected on most undemocratic lines.

  9. Mike Bailey needs to get Genia McCafferey on side. She’s a very popular mayor and appeals to both sides of the political divide – especially the Greenies. Perhaps he won’t win, but at least Miss Helena’s husband will be keeping the ‘big bear’ Joe busy. He’ll also help with getting senate votes for the ALP.

  10. Gary Bruce – the point you made yesterday at 4:17 pm is a great one!

    If the voters have moved from blocking their ears to putting their hands over their mouths, what is the effect of saturation advertising and of Howard still popping up on the box every night (to use Max Walsh’s analogy) like the Energizer Bunny?

    They can only be irritated.

    A scare campaign will have to pretty scary to break through. And with the successive hits it’s taken over the last year, the Government has not many cartridges left in its credibility.

    They probably think they can still Swiftboat, if not Rudd, then Swan etc (thanks to Senator Heffernan, Gillard is now a tricky target).

    The key to Swiftboating, however, is to hit the opponent on what is popularly perceived to be his strong point, not his weakness. Without even really trying, the ALP has already partly Swiftboated the Government over economic management. A determined campaign could hit at the water line.

    On the other hand, is the economic management issue really so important? Not many people would doubt that Latham lost the that argument decisively (plus a few others) in 2004. Yet the swing against the ALP was only 1.8 per cent (according to Wikipedia).

  11. Simon Howson and Sacha,

    My comment was not seriously meant. My point is that, as the Senate better represents the Australian people than the House of Representatives, there is no case to take away its power to block supply. Comparisons with unelected bodies like the House of Lords do not invalidate my point.

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