Inside dope

That most intensely scrutinised of federal electorates, Wentworth, is again the subject of an internal party polling “leak”. Many argue that all internal polls that make it to the public view are self-serving fabrications, but I personally am naive enough to think they might sometimes be authentic. This time we have The Australian reporting results from a very thorough survey of 400 voters conducted for Labor in June by UMP Research. The key finding is that Labor has a decisive lead on the primary vote, of 44 per cent to 42 per cent. The report also informs us that the Liberal Party has “doubled the number of seats it was treating as ‘marginal’ in the face of Labor’s consistent lead in the polls”.

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.

169 comments on “Inside dope”

Comments Page 3 of 4
1 2 3 4
  1. Okay, Glen, our posts crossed. Glad to hear you’re a bit of a friend of Dorothy’s friends.

    I’ve never called you redneck. The rednecks hang out on Andrew Bolt’s blog.

  2. The Liberals seem to have become worried about Macarthur. A couple of months ago it seemed the ALP wasn’t trying to win there, but now billboards with Pat Farmer’s face have gone up in Picton (not really known for being a billboard sort of town), he’s opened extra offices, and I’ve heard stories of push-polling going on in Camden (“if you heard that Pat Farmer was a really great bloke, would that make you more likely to vote for him?”).

  3. I think the Government has shown it is not prepared to tolerate Aboriginal disadvantages with its intervention in the NT…

    Just as people argue Labor can be trusted with the economy yet public perception is that they cannot so is the perception that the only good thing Conservatives can do is manage money and the public perception is that they arent good at anything else…

    But since the public have put a higher price on security and economic issues for the recent elections and have supported Howard…

    People obviously care about their hip pocket more but that is not to say people dont care about social issues which also sway many votes…

  4. Glen it’s great to know there still are moderates in the Coalition. Perhaps one day some of us will actually be able to look at the Liberal Party as someone they could possibly vote for. At the moment that seems doubful at least. To me, as a relatively young voter, I cannot conceive ever voting Liberal after this Government. Even if you compare the Liberal Party to the Canadian Conservative Party they pale in comparison.

    I just don’t understand why conservative economic policy cannot be coupled with a more open minded social policy (saying progressive would probably push it a bit).

    I guess also, we need to trust our Government to a certain extent. They are our leaders and represent us on the world stage. I have no trust in this Government. I don’t believe they ever mean what they say, I find myself searching what they say for hidden meanings, to see whether Howard’s inserted an ‘easy out’ for himself.

  5. A-C ‘I really am perplexed.’ – Back in 1995, Howard was quoted as saying (in reference to the Hawke/Keating 13 year run) that ‘governments now have natural life of about 10 years’. This comment was intended to influence the voters to throw Keating out. Now, after 11 years in office, the life of the Howard government has expired. It’s as simple as that.

  6. Anon “The Liberals seem to have become worried about Macarthur.”

    Macarthur? On my pendulum there are 14 coalition seats that would fall to a uniform swing before you get to Macarthur. What’s going on if they are wasting money on billboards in Picton? Is the Labor guy a seriously good and popular local?

  7. Alexander Downer declares Wikipedia ‘anti-government’
    By Steve Larkin
    August 24, 2007 03:41pm

    THE online encyclopedia Wikipedia is anti-government, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says.

    So it’s:
    1/ War on Terror
    2/ War on Drugs
    3/ War on Pedophiles in the NT
    4/ War on Wikpedia

  8. The federal government couldn’t run a tuckshop successfully. What is an example of a department that actually does something (rather than watch the State Departments who do service delivery) like Defence, Immigration; Foreign Affairs; Federal Police (you get the drift) that isn’t a shambles. Defence doesn’t know where its equipment is and couldn’t project manage the construction of a sandwich on budget and time; Immigation can’t tell the difference between an Australian and an illegal; the Federal Police struggle with basic computer knowledge, WHEN INTERVIEWING A SUSPECT of an alledged internatial telephone and computer based terrorist organisation.

    How the Federal Government is seen as competent, let alone excellent when so many of their core functions are disasters.

    You might go to treasury Glen, but Treasury seems to be invovled in advising a Government that has failed to invest in infrastructure to help the economy grow, has taxed massively (highest proportion of GDP ever) and now can’t spend 17 billion dollars ripped from our pockets because the economy can’t cope.

    On the other hand Glen the States that actually deliver services to people and could make their lives better are providing the worlds best public hospital system at the same time the highest ever taxing Commonwealth Government is making payments to the States at 30 year lows as a proportion of GDP.

    The States are also providing pretty good education, reasonable infrastructure while trapped in some of the same stupid mindsets that has given the Treasurer 17 billion he can’t spend because his economy can’t take it.

    At the sametime deliberate Government policy is driving down, that is driving down wages and conditions of women at the very top of a boom. The only sensible measure of good economic management is quality of life and wealth of ordinary Australians, and that is why Howard is polling so very very badly.

    Not just the treasurer but also most people still think insane unconsidered cost cutting and non-functioning public services are ‘good economic management’ and that is why they say the Government is good with economic management but they say they will vote for Rudd because they know, from the results in their day to day lives, that the Government has failed and failed the median ordinary Australian on a significant scale.

    Now I exaggerate a little the greatness of the States and the complete incompetence of the Commonwealth, but that is for illustrative purposes and because the reverse seems to be taken for granted. Well like ordinary Australians that the interest rate rises and work choices take for granted, the votes Costello takes for granted seemed to have shifted to Labor.

  9. You’re right Swing. Sorry, I checked Pat farmer’s page on the House of Reps site and it linked me to the old electoral map instead of the redistributed one.

    Maybe the newly acquired Picton is a Labor hotbed. Hence the billboards.

  10. Jasmine if you happen to be a trial lawyer and I happen to need a trial lawyer, can you be my trial lawyer? I’ll fly you over. You sure do talk purdy, miss.

  11. Crispy, I doubt Picton being a Labor hotbed – it’s more like other Southern Highlands towns (reliably Liberal). The real Labor hotbed in Macarthur is Campbelltown and some of its surrounding suburbs.

    If Labor has a shot of taking Macarthur (which I seriously doubt), it would need to make big inroads into the Liberal vote in and around Campbelltown and Camden.

    That said, Labor holds all the state seats encompassed by this seat (Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly) so maybe there is some hope for them…

  12. Jasmine do i understand you correctly that having a budget surplus of 17billion dollars is a bad thing???

    That 17b can be put into investment funds that can provide capital for infrastructure for eternity and yet you rail against the Coalition for carefully balancing an economy that provides budget surplus’s in excess of 1% of GDP…how many times did the ALP do that in their last period of Government…

    May i remind you that the ALP left the Coalition an annual interest bill of 8billion dollars…that’s 8 billion a year we couldnt use to spend on services, defence and the rest…

    If you want to talk about highest taxing how about you ask the States why they continue to raise Land Tax and Stamp Duty to price people out of owning their own homes as well as not releasing new land which forces up the cost of buying a home…the States whine about not having enough money…funny when they are receiving record windfalls from the GST…

    Pat Farmer is a popular local MP and i seriously doubt that seat would change hands even in a Ruddslide.

  13. Hugo @ 3:31 pm, you’d probably be surprised to realise that I’ve heard that internal party polling suggests that the IR laws are almost a complete non-issue with swing voters. It is just motivates that bases of both major parties.

    In regards to the “it’s time factor”, yes I’d have to agree. This is the #number 1 reason why voters will turf the government out.

    To be honest, Rudd isn’t doing anything particular amazing. I suspect that if Latham was running this time around (instead of 3 years prior) he’d be within a good chance of winning as well (likewise, Rudd would probably not have won 3 years ago).

    The Government is only going to win if Labor trips over its own feet. Howard is entirely at the mercy of Labor’s misfortune.

  14. 84
    Hugo Says:
    August 24th, 2007 at 3:24 pm
    I know you’re keen on this line of argument, Glen (ie that Labor might/will lose a few of their own marginals, in particular Swan and Cowan), but the numbers dont really back you up. Labor is getting swings of between 7-10% since the last election, and it would be statistical blip of some size for the ALP to lose any seats at all in that scenario. Basically you’re expecting a seat to swing TO the Libs in the context of an election where the nation as a whole swings substantially to Labor. It’s possible, but highly unlikely, and it would take some sort of almighty local issue for it to happen.

    Although it has been known to happen (as in 1975), it is unusual for all seats to swing in the same direction. Even in 1996, a few seats swung to Labor (Perth was one). Although I wouldn’t guess which ones, it is highly likely, even in the assumed context of a big swing to Labor, that at least one or two seats would still swing the other way.

    Getting a local swing is one thing, of course, and picking up seats against the trend of a government-changing swing is another. Still, even if less likely, that too is shown to be a possibility by the historical record, as when the Liberals picked up Bendigo, Forrest, Stirling, and Sturt from Labor in 1972, or when Labor picked up Brisbane and Oxley against the trend of the biggest national swing ever in 1931.

  15. [Jasmine do i understand you correctly that having a budget surplus of 17billion dollars is a bad thing???]

    It was only achieved because this government has the highest tax to GDP ratio of all time. They are BIG GOVERNMENT conservatives. I mean look, they even have staffers to edit Wikipedia.

  16. Simon for someone who i believe is very knowledgeable about Australian politics and take that as a compliment…you provide a very simplistic answer for why the Howard Government continues to provide strong budget surplus’s….

    I dont think you quite understand how the Howard Government has reformed the tax system and consistently given tax cuts to Australians and yet you think we are the highest taxing Government in history…its a fact that when you stimulate the economy with lower taxes you pull in more money than under higher taxes…With the economy going so well its only natural the Government would pull in more tax revenue….

  17. [I dont think you quite understand how the Howard Government has reformed the tax system and consistently given tax cuts to Australians and yet you think we are the highest taxing Government in history…]

    I think this, because they are! The GST is a growth tax, the more consumption there is, the more tax is collected, hence they are the highest taxing government of all time both in dollar terms, and relative to the size of the economy.

    [its a fact that when you stimulate the economy with lower taxes you pull in more money than under higher taxes…]

    So why do they tax so much? All they do is pile up a heap of taxes, then return a bit in the first year of the government, a bit more in the second year, then a heap in the third year in an attempt to be re-elected. This is just a cynical exercise that doesn’t actually improve the economy. Their so called tax reform wasn’t a structural reform, it didn’t improve efficency of the economy by rewarding investment.

  18. Glen the only meaningful figure that can be used are taxes as a proportion of GDP.

    This is at record levels. So the tax cuts are a myth. The last budget papers show an increase in PAYG tax of 1.8%

    But the econonmy has hit a brick wall and all this extra money can’t be spent.

    What happens when an economy hits capacity? Recession. So we are about to have the Capt. Smirk recession we didn’t have to have.

  19. Paul K

    How anyone can take Lord Downer seriously is beyond me. But I have to give him some credit as he surely provides the best entertainment value of all the dinosaurs in the Lib Govt. I look forward to his regular hissy fits and outrageous outrageousness. They are absolute GOLD and PRICELESS!

    Check out his best performance ever here.

    I think every time he opens his mouth, the polls go down for the Libs.

  20. Yeah Glen I am saying having a 17 billion budget because the money can’t be spent whether we need infrastructure, education, health, telecommunictions and broadband to be more efficient and let the economy grow is an extremely serious problem. The fact Costello tries so desperately to pretend the mushrooming ‘trust funds’ are good shows he understands, ask him why he can’t spend the money now next time you see him. Ask him what happens to these funds in a sharemarket crash?

    But surplus in good times, deficit in bad times is a fairly establish sensible economic view, as I understand it, so if we could just wait a year or two and then spend it when there is a downturn it might not be a bad thing, just part of the cycle. But Costello wants to lockup this tax take forever whether or not it is needed for Health and Education. That is just stupid and very stupid and someone needs to say that.

    Yeah but this Government hasn’t used the improved position to actually address issues. The whole we need to avoid interest payments to provide services only has legs if at some stage you fund the services and that the Commonwealth Govt has the highest ever tax tax (proportion of GDP) and is paying 30 year lows to the States, and infrastructure is run down you’ve lost your whole rationale for saving the money. Where is it going. Into trust funds. Why? Because the economy can’t cope. You don’t get to a good grade for economic management from this position, well not rationally. When you think about the lack of need for reform, you gotta start to ask what economic management wise has the government got right. No strategy to sustain the boom, and disaster management of most of its functions (police, military etc as discussed above). I don’t see where you get good from.

    I’ve had a debate about how very very stupid the land tax and stamp duty being a serious concern in higher house prices about 15 times on different forums. It is a very complex debate but of all the variables the two you pick are the least informed or the most dishonest, you can chose which. I’ll do the short version to minimise boring people.

    Land tax doesn’t even apply to primary residences hunny unless you’ve nestled it in a trust (and in some States you even get away with this con) and I feel no sympathy for you at all if that is the case.

    With respect to stamp duty, when you consider that demand is the predominant driver (as an aside I notice in WA recently the Liberal party admitted in debate in the Legislative Council that there was no problem at all with available land in one of the development corridors – only supply problem being the willingness of developers to bring the land to market) Stamp duty of course acts to restrain the demand which ironically not only provides money for schools and hospitals (the extra tax money the commonwealth has and isn’t paying to the states could be paying for) but also achieves exactly what you would want in a heated market, a bit of a brake.

    Of course if you identify market failure and Federal Government tax incentives as the key problems here with residential house prices (as I submit they are) you run into 2 years plus of Commonwealth spin, takes a while for people who believe spin to undo it all.

    Your talk about record windfalls to the States falls into the uniformed or dishonest category, payments to the States, including GST, are at 30 year lows, it was on the Government Controlled and Monitored media.

  21. Sorry but Glen has run that old lie about lower tax, higher tax take. Glen produce the figures for the 50% CGT discount intro’ed by Costello who promised that very higher take theory. Post and discuss.

  22. Lol…that you would say having 17billion dollars is bad as a budget surplus shows why the ALP cannot be trusted with money…

    And Jasmine the Libs are spending that money but in ways that wouldnt be inflationary and overheat the economy by putting them into investment funds that will spread the money across the board.

  23. Sorry Jasmine but its not a lie its be proven…

    Mayor Giuliani whose running for the Republican nomination for 2008 had trumpeted his economic credentials when he took over as Mayor he had a multi-million dollar deficit and people told him to increase taxes…instead he lowered them and got New York out of debt in no time…

    “that old lie about lower tax, higher tax take.” Jasmine its actually true..lower taxes increase investment and stimulate the economy thus bringing in a higher tax take.

  24. Yeah Rudi is running, if he gets the nom it pretty much guarantees even the weakest of the Dems could win. If he won, perhaps with Fred as his VP if only the timing was better the dems could cancel their primaries do a lucky dip and save billions and still win the white house.

    It is a lovely story about New York, but a republican is writing it, it has even less credibility than the very low credibility of the ‘at the baseball while New York mourned’ Rudi.

    Even if you have got the whole tax cut bit right and the debt free bit right there is a lot of the story left out. One minor example (that wont help the poor boy if he is nominee) of some of the savings could be like not buying firefighters communications equipment they’d never need, unless of course there is a disaster … oh wait there was.

    It is a very minor example, perhaps he sold assets that New York would have been better off keeping in public hands as well. It is classic short sighted conservative theory. If in New York’s economic miracle of tax cuts included running down spending on infrastructure and stopping doing things that makes peoples lives better (as it has meant to Howard and Costello for 11 years) then I’m sticking with my that is bad economic management not good.

    Get the figures for the CGT reductions when Costello used that very argument and we can see if your theory worked last time it was put into action in Australia.

  25. I have to stop feeding the troll but Glen you say they are spending the money – that is a complete lie. The Treasurer has specifically and consistently said they will only spend any income of the funds. He has bragged about keeping labors hands off the money because it can never be spent. You are saying it is going to be spent. You need to sort out the talking points you sprout they are internally inconsistent.

    To summarise the coalitions plan is not spending the money ever Glen.

  26. Ross Gittins wrote an article on tax rates.

    Basically said under Costello.
    “The relative losers are the great bulk of taxpayers, who are on middle incomes between about $40,000 and $70,000 a year. These people have had overall tax savings of only about 0.5 cents in every dollar and no change in the 30 per cent rate they pay on any increase in their earnings.”

    I don’t believe Ross has taken into account the medicare surcharge of 1% when you earn over $55,000, which means that the great bulk of taxpayers are worse off under Costello paying more tax than before.

  27. Re: Budget surpluses.

    Yes a surplus is a good thing even though Howard has wasted past surpluses with pork at election times. However if you look closely at the stats you’ll find that payments to the states have fallen from 7% of GDP to 5% of GDP. Not difficult to get surpluses when you cut payments to the states in real terms.

  28. 122
    August 24th, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Pauline, I’m going to miss Downer when this is all over. He has certainly given us our money’s worth. I can only hope he gets his own TV comedy sitcom after the election.

  29. I understand what you say Paul but surely surpluses you collect are only good if they are going to be used in a downturn. If you are just collecting for fun and to create silly funds, surely they are bad.

    One simple example is superannuation. If the money hadn’t been collected as tax and ‘saved’ in funds’, it could have gone in increased superannuation (wasn’t the original plan to get to 15%) and have been ‘saved’ there with the same outcome, except in the hands of retirees of the future rather than Liberal pork barrels of the future.

  30. Well depending on your philosophy running LARGE surpluses could be a bad thing.

    I’ve spoken with conservatives who believe huge surpluses are a crime and show that not enough tax relief is being given, that company taxes should be being cut etc.

    Alternatively you could look at the Government’s intervention in state matters and wonder why they aren’t intent on fixing their own problems. Surely they could consider reform to dentistry, subsidising paid maternity leave to remove the burden from small business etc. By subsidising parental leave they would also be taking a step towards increasing the birthing rates and reducing the effects of the ageing population.

    The size of the surplus is great. It allows the Government to come up with visionary plans for the future… is this what we’re getting? No.

    The opportunities we now have to fix problems at a federal level are great. It’s not the time for the Federal Government to be cynically looking at winning the election by ‘picking fights with the states’.

  31. ” 134
    jasmine_Anadyr Says:
    August 24th, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I understand what you say Paul but surely surpluses you collect are only good if they are going to be used in a downturn. ”

    Jasmine, I wasn’t trying to make an absolute statement. Obviously all things are relative but generally speaking you’d have to say surpluses are a good thing. I’m not going to go through each and every surplus to decide if it was good or bad at the time.

  32. People who say the Coalition hasn’t invested in infrastructure are outright liars. AusLink provided about $14 billion and was at the time the biggest land transport investment programme in history, that has now been outdone with AusLink II which is worth $22 billion or so. The Coalition is addressing these transport infrastructure bottlenecks whilst State Labor Governments create them – especially on the east coast.

    Whoever suggested that the State Labor Governments have delivered world class hospitals and schools – did you just get a lobotomy?

  33. Moreover, the massive surpluses being allocated to investment funds will ensure that the needs of healthcare, universities and regional telecommunications can be provided for in the long-term – it won’t be one-off spending now that could be inflationary, but it will provide necessary funding for generations, and allow reductions in the tax burden in the future. This is a truly visionary policy, and it is simply absurd that the left seek to denigrate it.

    The Commonwealth is intervening in state matters because State Labor is that inept and useless. I mean, they’ve stuffed up the Murray-Darling, you have a megalomaniac Queensland Premier who wanted to sack and fine people for daring to question his policies and a Chief Minister happy to perpetuate the neglect of some of Australia’s most vulnerable children.

  34. ” 138
    Swordfish Says:
    August 24th, 2007 at 6:40 pm
    The Commonwealth is intervening in state matters because…”

    This State versus Federal war that Howard is trying to stir up will lose him more votes than he wins. People want the governments to work together and fix our problems not play a blame game and be divisive just because an election is coming up. People aren’t that dumb. They know that as soon as the election is over Howard will go back to the do nothing status. All governments have to make unpopular decisions. It’s part of leadership. All Howard is doing is finding some of those unpopular decisions and pretending to be a white knight. Why now? What’s he been doing for the last eleven years? Sleep walking.

  35. Swordfish

    Spending on infrastructure is not inflationary. $36 billion on roads to pork is irrelevant, thats what the Federal Govt has an obligation to do.

    Thanks heaps for spending money where it is the duty of the Feds to spend it.

  36. Swordfish in essence you have gone back to the Fed good States bad assertion that I am submitting is just wrong.

    On funding infrastructure even Kennett didn’t stop completely, so I don’t think anyone meant to imply no spending at all on infrastruture. With the payments to states as a proportion of GDP falling to 30 year lows, while the Fed Tax take hits records in absolute and GDP terms shows a clear underfunding. Hospitals, Universities, many many areas over 11 years of good boom times.

    That many of these investments, if they had been made, had the potential to increase the economies capacity and avoid the problem Costello has that he has no ability to spend the massive surplus to make our lives better is clearly a failure. Although the party that supports workchoices clearly has no interest in making our lives better. But part of my thesis is that voters think the outcomes of the ‘fabulous darlings’ economic management of Howard and Costello suck and that is why the polling is so diabolically bad. That is I am submitting the maxim ‘it is the economy stupid’ still applies to voting just Howard Costello and Kerr in Crikey are looking at the wrong parts of the economy and the voters on the whole are not looking at the ‘fabulous’ things you and Howard and Costello expect them to look at. Maybe I’m wrong … we will see very very soon.

  37. Picton is definitely in the electorate. But it’s newly been added. Yet Hume is even safer Liberal, so I don’t think Picton really helps Labor much. Campbelltown is the most pro-Labor centre of Macarthur, but Campbelltown is more pro-Labor in the north – most of the public housing in Campbelltown is in Werriwa, not Macarthur.

    Macarthur could be divided three ways, Camden is very strongly Liberal, Wollondilly is probably slightly pro-Liberal, and Campbelltown is strongly pro-Labor.

    It’s true that all three local members on a state level are Labor, but remember that Camden and Wollondilly were two of the most marginal seats after the last election – and both seats were won by Labor because of Campbelltown suburbs, if you only include the booths in Camden and Wollondilly LGAs then the Libs would have won easily. Both include booths in Campbelltown, and that made the difference.

    Sure, Pat Farmer is popular, but I feel that he’s become less so than in the past. It’s hard to really tell how people who don’t follow politics (and are just the ones who would usually support Pat) think about it, but after six years in parliament, including time as a Parliamentary Secretary, pretty much everything he’s campaigning on is either complaining about state politics issues, or on his attributes that have nothing to do with his political career (such as all the money he’s raised for charities). So I reckon this has had an effect and his popularity may have been dented.

  38. Ruawake. It is true that infrastructure expands capacity yes, and reduces cost push inflation – but that is the medium/long term effect. In the short-term, inflation can rise.

    Your suggestion that Auslink, tranches I and II is mere pork, is an entirely spurious allegation. I would advise you to go and look at some of the great projects that have been completed as a result.

  39. Swordfish Says: I would advise you to go and look at some of the great projects that have been completed as a result.

    I would advise you to name some.

  40. I find it interesting that the problem political issues for the Government have come about only after they gained control of the Senate in 2005, and were able to put through the more ideologically pure policies that had previously been toned down by the Balancers. Would they have survived Ele2001 if the original blanket GST provisions had been in place, even with Tampa?

  41. There are great projects swordfish, just not enough. There are too many pork projects like dredging creeks that didn’t need it, and too many great great projects that aren’t ‘right’ for liberals, or are in too safe seats.

  42. Getting back to Wentworth – the thing I find interesting about the psychology here is that both sides are feeding internal polling results to the media designed to show their side doing as well as possible. Normally in Australia it’s the other way around.

  43. Wentworth while being marginal, strikes me as somewhat similar to Higgins.

    I’m tipping a Liberal hold in Wentworth for a very simple reason while there may be some very strong ALP booths but just like with Higgins the Liberals booths are a little stronger.

    People write about Paddington, I believe and I may be wrong but for an area which doesn’t like Howard the Liberals don’t do that badly.

    Both Howard and Rudd are very similar therefore while the national campaign will be important, I suspect local issues will be more important in Wentworth.

    Turnbull has a high profile, he is seen as different to Howard, his views are more in line with the local community therefore I’m expecting not just a Turnbull win but a swing to him.

    Now having watched many Election nights the one thing which seems to occur often is while a swing may be on one way or another but some seats which are below the swing actually don’t go with it.

    I’m tipping a Liberal 55 ALP 45 result.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 3 of 4
1 2 3 4