Idle Speculation: annihilation edition

With the scent of the government’s blood in the water, the nation’s newspapers have gone mad with opinion polling. For reasons unexplained, The Australian published Newspoll results last Tuesday (57-43), on Saturday (55-45) and today (60-40). The Fairfax papers yesterday conjured a front page story by adding together the last six months’ worth of ACNielsen polling. Like Newspoll’s quarterly aggregates, these produced state-by-state figures from believable samples. The thrust of the South Australian and Western Australian figures is supported by two sets of local polls: in the Sunday Mail, a survey of 601 South Australian voters had Labor leading 59-41, while in last Saturday’s West Australian, a Westpoll survey of 409 voters had the Coalition leading 51-49. Also:

• Jackie Kelly has announced she will not contest the election, depriving the Liberals of her considerable personal vote in the outer western Sydney seat of Lindsay. The redistribution has cut the Liberal margin in the seat from 5.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent. Penrith councillor Mark Davies has been named as Kelly’s most likely successor as Liberal candidate, and reportedly has her backing. Labor has again nominated the twice-unsuccessful David Bradbury, former Penrith mayor.

• The South Australian Liberal party has selected Mary Jo Fisher to fill Amanda Vanstone’s Senate vacancy, the term of which will expire in 2011. In what would appear to be another win for the state party’s ascendant Right faction, Fisher was chosen ahead of the moderate-backed Maria Kourtesis, who earlier contentiously failed to secure a winnable position on this year’s Senate ticket.

• Labor provoked another round of debate over the merits of celebrity candidates last week when it preselected ABC weatherman Mike Bailey to run against Joe Hockey in North Sydney. Also widely noted was the number of ABC personnel turning up as Labor candidates.

• Labor’s Sharon Grierson has effortlessly survived a preselection challenge in Newcastle. The ABC reports that a rank-and-file ballot delivered her more than 80 per cent of the vote over her challenger, Merewether West branch secretary David March.

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.

375 comments on “Idle Speculation: annihilation edition”

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  1. “.. he’s sick of thelies and unfairness of the government.”

    The Government does not seem to get the point that they, not Rudd, are the issue. How else to explain that the failure to land a punch on the ALP in six months?

    If they grasped this, would we have Giblet on the box jumping up and down every night, those irritating pauses from Pulpit, Porky with the porkies, and the “I’m still here” Hound sounds?

    New policies are not worth a pinch of the proverbial, unless you have credibility.

  2. I noticed that earlier in the thread someone raised the possibility of the ACT election breaking the Labor domination of the states and territories; quite simply, this is not going to happen. The ACT Liberals are probably the worst basketcase of any of the state Liberal parties, and don’t even have a potentially competent leader in the parliament. They’ll be out of office for many years to come, and I wouldn’t even be surprised to see them lose official opposition status to the Greens within a few years if they don’t get their act together.

  3. Andrew – you know Rudd personally? I keep hearing about the so called deficiencies in his character but unless these are seen publicly any attempt to discredit his character will fail. BTW you’re not the first person I’ve heard praising Latham after reading his book. Just one question though, where were you when his character was being maligned during the last election campaign and how did you feel about the party you supported maligning him that way?
    As for the IR campaign, you have summed up how difficult it will be for the government to present their IR policy as the “new and improved” version. People won’t believe them now because they don’t trust them. When a party introduces a wiz bang IR policy and says it is the best thing since sliced bread then, one minute to midnight, realises it isn’t and needs modifying it has real problems with credibility and rightly so.

  4. I am not convinced that the government is the issue Black Jack, but I am convinced that John Howard is the issue.. he has just been there too long, and he doesn’t wash against a viable alternative … the safe pair of hands’ of Kevin Rudd.

    In my opinion, Kevin Rudd will be the most conservative Labor prime minister Australia will have had, and it just an accident of pesronal history that he has ended up on the Labor benches.

  5. The most interesting part of the Telegraph article for me was the mention of Global Warming. I think a lot of people are inclined to assume that Global Warming ranks with Iraq, refugees, Hicks etc – that is issues where relatively disengaged voters either don’t care much or are supportive of the government.

    Since I live very much in a ghetto of people who are passionate about all these issues I can’t claim much knowledge about whether this is true, but there certainly seems to be some evidence that GW is having an effect on a people who don’t care much about these other issues. The fact that an Eel cheerleader raised it is a tiny extra point of such evidence.

    Someone newly engaged with the issue probably thinks Howard has done a poor job. As they learn more they will discover it has been abominable. If Global Warming really does influence a lot of people’s votes Howard is done for, but unfortunately we can’t know how much influence it will have six months out.

  6. David, I really believe the voters you are talking about were persuaded more by what they saw on TV than what they read. Wasn’t it the Telegraph that had it’s own polling. didn’t that have Debnam a mile in front on every issue and voting intention? I’m surprised to hear the “Tele” ran positive articles for Iemma and Labor.

  7. No i ahve not met Rudd personally, but know people who are very close to his campaign, and he is a bully and a yeller.

    and with Latham i didnt see what the big deal was, he was divorced, half the country is, he ran local council poorly, most councils are run poorly, he believed in globalisation and market focres, tick, and he thought a group of unions leaders sitting around making decisions for people was a bad things, double tick.

    truly i think latham was hard done by, generally

  8. I think Russ needs to thank Dean Mighell. What a great way to show there will be division between Labor and the union movement.

  9. “In my opinion, Kevin Rudd will be the most conservative Labor prime minister Australia will have had”

    How quickly they forget WM Hughes… 🙂

    (Quick sidenote, in 1907 Hughes said this of Fisher: “What a career his has been! In his hands, at various times, have rested the banners of every party in the country. He has proclaimed them all, he has held them all, he has betrayed them all”

    Oh, the ironing.)

    Anyway, be that as it may and much as I prefer otherwise, right now I’ll happily take the most conservative leader of the ALP over the most conservative leader of the Liberals…

  10. re opinion polls
    an average of recent opinion polls is showing a 2 party preferred swing to
    Labor of approx 10 to 13 % ,about 5% would win government, may be some one else can correct me if I’m wrong but since 1966 I don’t think the figures has been that high at a federal level(at a state level Yes).I think this level of support will decline how much I do not know.(eg on these numbers Joe hockey and the speaker would both lose their seats)

  11. David Charles

    Maaaate I gave up on the Tele in 1966 when old Sir Frank personally penned the frontpage splash headline “The World Mourns” to mark the assassination of Hendrik Verwoerd.

    Even under its new American proprietor things have not got any better. You mention the sports coverage, I have been to football matches and been in the press box and later read a match report by a Tele sports reporter who I know wasn’t at the ground. Not that it would have made any difference if he had been there as he was alway three sheets to wind. And who can forget Malcolm Andrews’ breathless eyewitness report of the space station crashing to the ground in WA before it had got anywhere near the Australian coastline (and it passed overhead safely anyway).

    The stickers that are around that say “Is that the truth or did you read it in the Telegraph?” say it all mate.

  12. I just read the transcript of the 7:30 report with the guy from galaxy. I think that its interesting that he says that he doesn’t think that the electorate is fully engaged yet.

    A couple of years ago I used to work as a interviewer for a polling company and you could always tell the difference between supporters of a party and those that gave an answer without any real thought. I think what the guy from galaxy was saying is that people are responding that they will vote Labor without any real conviction, which is why the Labor 2pp is so absurdly high.

  13. The question to ask though Snow is how much of that vote for Labor is made up of people “responding that they will vote Labor without any real conviction” and how do you measure it? The next question becomes why would they necessarily go to the Libs once they become engaged? Is it a given that people will naturally go conservative once engaged? Just doesn’t ring true to me.

  14. What that bloke from Galaxy forgets too is that many people don’t become engaged even in the campaign. They vote only because they have to. Will these people still vote Labor anyway?

  15. Kevin Rudd would make a very good Liberal Prime Minister.
    I’m convinced the reason Labor is so far in front is Rudd. He is conservative, dull and nice enough to appeal to Middle Australia.
    I’d love Rudd to do a “Tony Blair”, and thoroughly disengage Labor from the ACTU. In my opinion, Rudd is secretly a supporter of AWAs, but he’ll go with the policy he inherited from Beazley.
    Above all else, I sense that people are tired of Howard/Costello/Downer.
    Will this be enough to change their votes in October/November, particularly if the economy keeps humming along so well?
    That’s the crucial question.

  16. The disengaged are not immune to the herd mentality.

    Hard to put a number on it, but quite a few people like to support what they imagine will be the winning side.

    It’s the very possible bandwagon that frightens coalition strategists IMHO.

  17. I have been an observer of, and sometime participant in, Australian politics, for over 40 years, and I have never seen a sillier campaign than the one currently being run against Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party. We have unrestrained attacks on the people of Australia for having the temerity to vote for Labor state and territory governments 21 times in a row. (Holden doesn’t sell cars by telling Ford buyers they are dumb.) We have an endless supply of trivia (Brian Burke, the farm eviction, the Sunrise saga, a coarse union official). We have guilt by association. We now have a story in The Australian today about what happened to an employee of Therese Rein’s company back in 1995. (Perhaps the Keating Government can take the blame for that one, if not the Whitlam Government or even the Watson Government, which has not been blamed for anything so far.) We have the “Labor has no policies” mantra when there are 100s of pages released so far. We have the big bad unions. We even have Liberal supporters telling us how many Labor MPs are former union officials to prove how Labor is connected to unions. We know – and we don’t care, or, for most of us, we are pleased by the fact.

    Once the “Kevin Rudd had dinner with Brian Burke” line was launched, the Liberals became a joke, and they have not recovered. On the present track record, we are going to get a non-story every couple of days, interspersed with “I love my AWA” and “I’m a small businessman and I’m scared that the unions will come back” propaganda pieces.

    The government may get a post-budget bounce in July when the tax cuts come through, but it is just as likely people will understand that, with a $10 billion surplus, they would have got their money back no matter who was in power.

    I am astounded at how politically inept the Liberals have become.

  18. Stephen, I would take the view that Global warming resonates more than a lot of people (especially the government) actually think it does. Unless politically engaged – Iraq, refugees, etc – are reasonably easy to detach from. Global warming is a major focussing issue as it has the possibility to turn all the certainties of life upside down, and more to the point, it effects peoples children. Minds have also been focussed by the drought – it amazes me now how often you can get into a very detailed discussion about weather and especially rainfall – and behind it all looms thoughts on climate change. The Howard governments response has been abominable (to use your word) though I am not convinced the states have been much better – more spin than substance. Once some serious action does happen on climate change, hope fully there will be serious scrutiny on all governments.

    If I were John Howard, I would be praying for a cold and wet winter!

  19. Chris. Dean Mighell and Kevin Reynolds are in a position to unravel a lot of the cool responsible ALP IR campaign. Ruddy did the right thing by detaching Dean Mighell quick smart – Kevin Reynolds may be a bit more difficult. Will Mike Symon ALP candidate in Deakin (and ETU political officer) also get the chop??

  20. Chris Curtis, the ‘no policy’ line is run all the time, see the state ALP branches in the recent VIC, Qld, NSW elections. And it’s Wayne Swan who openly proclaimed that they won’t be taking a tax policy to the next election. Then again you and your envious ilk would probably be the first to erupt in a chorus of cheers if a Labor Government got in and raised taxes, recently there were revelations that certain ALP MPs want to implement a death tax.

    Labor is all about stealing wealth from those who worked hard to create it and using it for a) funding their mates on the public payroll (wait for a new armada of bureaucrats to come when one of them becomes PM) b) giving it to undeserving indolents who can’t be bothered to make a living for themselves.

  21. blackburnpseph – Kevin Reynolds? Who is he? I consider myself a political tragic and I must say this name is new to me. For the average person who takes no interest in politics I would say this name will mean even less to them than it does to me.

  22. All the Mighell etc saga will do is make the ALP push the left union movement away after this election. The right wing unions will be welcomed with open arms as they do nothing and don’t upset big business. Wonder where Doug Cameron sits on this issue.

    ps I do not support Mighells ways etc and i do not know enough on that at this time to comment on what he has/hasn’t done

  23. George, you seem to be saying the “bludger culture” exists now. Hang on, the Libs are in power and have been for 11 years.

  24. If you’re asking me to criticise the Coalition then I’m happy to – there have been some good movements in cutting tax and reducing welfare but more needs to be done, and certainly the ALP aren’t offering anything positive in that area.

    So again, what’s your point?

  25. I wonder is this the calm before the final sinking of the boat, like a Titanic millionaire is there nothing left for it but to get the dinner jacket out and pour the brandy as the last liferaft sails off into the distance for the rodent and the crew?

    Or are we missing something through our mutual obsession on this site. I suspect for all the bravado of the numerous Labor staffers on this site there is still considerable fear that the rodent is not done and dusted. Of course unlike many others on this site I do not have 37 apolitical cousins, uncles, lovers etc etc to validate my “theories”.

    I think it would be great for some of the regulars to “lock in” their calls if they are so confident. It would be great to have a specific day we could all go back to and see who had the vision and who had the prejudice. What do you say William will you declare 31 May declaration day and perhaps allow a review of final positions on 1 August.

    Sort out the poseurs from the seers will it not?

  26. # Gary Bruce Says:
    May 30th, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Bill, I have to say that that will be a good thing.

    Gary if thats a reference to the right unions being what Rudd wants then this shows the ALP is another party for the rich and wannabe rich. Thats all we need to conservative parties and leaders

  27. George,
    Do you recall which Party reduced tax rates from marginal 66%?
    Which party removed double taxation of dividends?
    Why don’t you offer some evidence (preferably post-Whitlam era) for your spray about stealing wealth and expanding the bureaucracy?

  28. Did anyone answer the question about Kevin Reynolds? I’d just like to add that for those of us who have had dealings in the ALP in Perth, the nickname ‘fat bastard’ has been thrown around. Check out the weekend Oz for the current rise to fame of the head of the CFMEU (not a left union in WA), and the pitch of the Murdoch press against union leaders.

  29. A couple of earlier posters to this thread appear to wondering when the next elections in Australia are due. Below is the timetable in a possible sequence they will occur, although the order isn’t certain. Get all the details from the Aust Parliament House site:

    ACT: 18/10/2008
    Federal: Between 4/8/2007 and 19/1/2008
    NT: Between 5/7/2008 and 27/6/2009
    WA: Between 21/6/2008 and 16/5/2009
    Qld: Before 5/12/2009
    Tas: Before 22/5/2010
    SA: 20/3/2010
    Vic: 27/11/2010
    NSW: 24/3/2011

  30. I don’t think the coalition has reduced welfare, they have actually increased it so now 3 out of every 5 families receives some form of welfare. They are more of a tax and spend administration than the previous Labor governments.

  31. Can anyone clarify precisely what it is that Dean Mighell is said to have done wrong?

    If the problem is the fact that he managed to bluff some bosses into handing over an extra 4% in wages when they didn’t have to, then he should be celebrated for securing wages for his members without them having to go on strike. Isn’t that the role of Unions? If anyone should quit, it is the HR Managers who clearly failed so miserably in their role that they are the laughing stock of the Union movement.

    If the problem is that he used some naughty words then the ALP should just grow up. My three year old has used coarser language that that (he must have got it from his mother :-)) This was a tape from a meeting of blue collar Union Members not from a Catholic Girls School.

    BTW the common thread between Mighell and Kevin Reynolds from WA is that they are both strong and effective Union Leaders who are extremely popular with their members. They try to use their strong Union presence to change the Labor Party for the interests of their members not the other way around. That is why the ALP does not want them around. They much prefer compliant Union officials who are prepared to place the interests of their members secondary to the interest of ensuring the ALP win and retain government.

    That is why the constant cry from the Libs that the Unions run the ALP is such a joke. The ALP actually run the Union movement andd o so tot e detriment of workers.

  32. Why don’t the ALP come out and say that Dean Mighell has been EXPELLED. He has embarrased the party and said what the leadership don’t want to be said at this time.

    When I was at school,there were boys who outright expelled, but there were boys who were ásked to leave’ – which everyone knew was a polite term when the school had to remove students who hadn’t done something immediately expellable, who were well connected or had used up their 9 lives -but had in truth been expelled none the less. So why don’t the ALP just come out and say that he was EXPELLED.

    And thank you Emily for explaining who Kevin Reynolds is. KR is also married to Shelley Phillips MP (I think that is the name – Shelley something) who was one on Brian Burke’s main information conduits where information should not have been coming.

  33. yep when people talk about the bludger culture and how terrible Dean Mighell is they should ask about the pay packets of our top executives and ask why do they deserve this and how much is someone worth.. Dean Mighell oh how terrible this man is.. oh please save me the crocodile tears, soon no one will be able to open their mouths unless the Murdoch papers tell you to.. they are running country and telling us how we should think..

  34. Blackburnpseph,

    I have said before that the Liberals cannot defeat Kevin Rudd, but the “Left” can. Dean Mighell is an example. Mike Symons will not lose endorsement because the ETU sub-faction is aligned with the Labor Unity faction and the pre-selections are done.


    You are right to say that the “‘no policy’ line is run all the time”. It was tried in Victoria, and of course it did not work because Labor not only had stacks of policies, but it also had a record of implementation behind it; for example, when it promised to spend $1.9 billion in its next term as the next instalment in rebuilding every school in the state over 10 years, it was believed because it had already spent $1.4 billion on the same goal.

    I was surprised that Wayne Swan said he would not be taking a tax policy to the next election. I expect that Labor will have one, and I expect it will be like the education policies released so far: it will set the agenda.

    If you have some evidence for saying that “[I] and [my] envious ilk would probably be the first to erupt in a chorus of cheers if a Labor Government got in and raised taxes”, please supply it. If you have none, please explain the reasoning process that led to your making such a claim.

    Your summation that “Labor is all about stealing wealth from those who worked hard to create it and using it for a) funding their mates on the public payroll (wait for a new armada of bureaucrats to come when one of them becomes PM) b) giving it to undeserving indolents who can’t be bothered to make a living for themselves” suggests a social philosophy that is remote from my own and from the features which made Australia the working person’s paradise for much of this century. The decline of Christianity has, naturally enough, led to the growth of selfishness in our society and the seeing of human beings as little more than economic units in the engine of production rather than persons with dignity.

    Simon Howson,

    100 per cent of families got welfare in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It was called child endowment. That said, it is galling to me that the Liberals have increased family welfare when Labor should be the one doing so.

    Edward St, John,

    I have been on the record as expecting a Labor win since early this year. I’m still not definite, but I wonder if we are all reluctant to be definite about it because John Howard has come from behind before and we just expect him to do it again. In any case, I’d like to review my prediction in July when people get their tax cuts.

    I have had the internet at home since only last year, and I am surprised by the number of people I find in blogs who actually hate unions – not particular union actions or even particular unions (like Bill hates the SDA), but the whole concept. It seems that teachers haven’t been doing a good enough job teaching the industrial revolution.

  35. Where does Dennis Shanahan get this crap from?,20867,21823680-601,00.html

    “ALP’s diplomacy breach risks China ties”

    I’ll summarise the article. The Minister for Foreign affairs criticised Labor policy about China in front of a delegation of Chinese diplomats, and the Chinese ambassador. The Shadow foreign minister Robert McLelland criticse Downer for mis-representing Labor’s China policy. So Shanahan writes an article saying that Mclellend breached some convention about not being partisan in front of diplomats, even though Downer was the first to start the partisan bickering! Then Shanahan jumps from the incident to say that it is some serious breach of protocol that has huge ramifications for Australian and Chinese relations! He really seems to struggle to think of things to write about. In a way I feel sorry for him…

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