Good ol’ Yankee know-how

Sky News is broadcasting four “Voters Verdict” programs each night until Friday at 9.30pm EST. These feature American blow-in Frank Luntz and a 24-member focus group divided evenly between Labor-leaning and Coalition-leaning undecided voters. These voters will participate in “instant audience response dial sessions” that will measure their reactions to statements made by the two leaders. As you may have guessed, the instant audience response dial procedure is better known in this part of the world as “the worm”. Luntz was in the news yesterday after describing the Prime Minister as “a world leader for invective”, which suggests he is taking his time to acclimatise to Australia’s political culture. A preview program which aired last night can be viewed at The Australian site.

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.

435 comments on “Good ol’ Yankee know-how”

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  1. It seems to me that they realise Rudd has compromised on I.R. as much as he can. More to the point, he has compromised as much as he needs to. Also, Rudd’s willingness to talk to big business to modify his proposal suggests a P.M. who will be willing to listen. This is in complete contrast to Howard who put don’tcallitWorkChoices through parliament without first convincing the population that it was a good thing.

  2. Yes, Matthew, remarkable. Basically, it’s saying 11 years of Howard resulted in … nothing much at all. Poof, there goes the legacy …

  3. The Australian editorial team might have the opinion that it is better to desert the sinking ship when the violinists are still playing rather then after they have drowned !

  4. Not online, but according to the dead tree version of The West, Independent Candidate for Forrest, Noel Brunning has pulled out cos of Exhaustion. It was feared his preferences would would help the ALP Candidate fall over the line.

    re Rupert- I predict Glen will use this as proof that the meida is biased against Howard once and for all 🙂

  5. John Howard and Joe Hockey have been talking transparent nonsense about Labor’s IR proposals. One says they will push wages up, the other down. They have simply lost the plot.
    Interesting to see where the next Newpoll and Nielsen go. I’d bet they will show a downtrend from their previous ones.
    The rot seems to have set in really badly.
    Who can stop the boat sinking, if anyone? It’ll take more than a pennysworth of tar.

  6. From the (somewhat self-serving) Oz editorial

    Set against the micro-economic reforms of the Hawke and Keating Labor governments during the 1980s and ’90s, the Howard reform legacy is thin.

    Ouch! That’s gotta hurt. Not least of all because it is the truth.

    I reckon Rupert told his editors to go hard on Rudd, but end up supporting him, though in a very qualified, even begrudging manner.

  7. If News Ltd abandons Howard, that sounds the death knell for this administration. I’m starting to think not even a terrorist attack during APEC or some other unforseen global disaster will save Howard – the public stopped listening to the Rodent months ago. It’s up to Rudd to offer a valid reason for punters to back the other horse.
    I’ll be cynical and suggest Malcolm Turnball is more concerned about saving his own seat. Geoffrey Cousins has spooked him very successfully. However, would Bob Brown be dumb enough to give the Liberals preferences over this?

  8. The Greens know that it is in their interest to see a labor government. They will moan and they will whinge but at the end of the day they will enjoy whacking Howard as much as any ALP voter will.

  9. Re: Family First.
    I was a Green’s candidate at the last federal election and had really no idea about FF until polling day when I was utterly amazed at the behaviour of the FF supporters. They told their small children that I was Satan, that I wanted to give them drugs, not to speak to me when i said hello to them. They took the HTV cards and tore them up, stood on them, or simply completely ignored me even when I spoke directly to them.
    I have never encountered anything like it, even when I cop the usual abuse from the shooters and mountain cattlemen, and the usual suspects. Normally it is fairly good natured or easily ignored,but this was highly organised and strategic – they arrived in large groups, probably just out of church. There wsa nothing “christian ” about their approach, and it highlighted for me just how extreme they really are. Let’s not forget that one of their leaders announced that lesbians should be burnt at the stake!!
    They are also against contraception, anti- gay rights, anti- evolution and who knows what else – and couch it all in “family friendly” terms.
    They are funded by the Assembly of God in USA- George Bush’s main supporters.
    Don’t care what side of politics you are on – this lot is out of the norm for Oz politics – worse that Fred Nile!!!

  10. Anyone notice Greg Sheridan’s yarn in today’s Oz reporting rumours that Bush might cancel his trip to APEC. That would be a doozy.

  11. And yes, the Greens want to see a change of government. And we want it to be different to this bunch, not just have another name.
    That’s our job.

  12. #344 – no, at the time both Upper and Lower House were single-candidate elections and methods of preference allocation were identical. There were some donkey votes in the Upper House (the Greens were top and Liberals above Labor) but based on the booth I scrutineered in this would have accounted for only about 2-3% of the total Greens vote.

  13. Anyone notice Greg Sheridan’s yarn in today’s Oz reporting rumours that Bush might cancel his trip to APEC.

    Double ouch!!

  14. Woah! Even the Government Gazette jumps ship on Team Rodent. The uppercut from the right flank.

    All true of course – they’ve been a lazy administration, and a monstrous Frankenstein of an ideological creation, high taxing big-government centralists ,waking up at ten minutes to election time to chuck pork around and retail some dodgy fear campaign.

    Australia deserves better than this lot. Only Uninspired Beazer and Wacko Latho kept them in the game so long.

  15. Jen@362

    That’s scary. I handed out for years and have never seen anything like that. Normal run of pig-brains, but not masses of religious nutters. It’s disturbing about the kids.

  16. Back on topic (Frank Luntz)

    I grew increasingly angry with what I watched last night. The whole thing was a sham. Luntz showed that his guru status meant squat in the Australian context. What he seems to be suggesting is that his two hours of chit chat with 24 of the world’s stupidest people showing them snippets of Howard and Rudd that took thing out of context.

    It negates the fact that for all of the talk about “presidential” style elections the Abbott factor, the Gillard factor, the Costello factor and so on have an effect in Australia. Add to that the interplay of the state govts, the unions, business, etc and you have a dynamic that cannot be explained with 24 knob-twiddling fools.

  17. Lord D

    I have a strict policy: American politicians should not be let out. Danger to shipping, and all that. But you are probably right.

  18. Derek –
    what’s worse is they polled at over 4% on theri first go. I really hope people wake up to them and are not taken inwith their moderate middle -class apperance. they are fundamentalists in everyday clothing!

  19. Richard, 11.55 GetUp set up and emailed an automatic response mechanism to all GetUp members. It was automatically directed to the right place, and just required the respondent to type in a few words as their submission. There are currently just under 200,000 GetUp members. My guess is that virtually all of them are anti pulp mill, and logging of old growth forest. For this reason the 25,000 responses is not at all surprising.


    Alan H

  20. Sorry to be off topic!
    RE; George and APEC – I thought he and Johnnie were very best friends who always played nicely together.
    Maybe G. just doesn’t want his popularity to be further eroded by being seen with another loser.

  21. 373

    “I really hope people wake up to them …”

    Unfortunately, Jen, that’s not about to happen. It will probably take years for the general punter to realise what they represent and by then the damage will be done. It will take some big issue – like Meg Lees backing the GST – to make ’em wake up.

  22. Jen #362

    your post was mostly polemics, and frankly unbelievable. There are extremists in every political party. That doesn’t make the whole party fanatics. Get a grip.

  23. Alan H, thanks for that. Curiously I just wrote to them in reply from someone else. Yes that would account for a good deal but there are other organisations also who have lots of supporters who are also making submissions. I talked to the head of one of these today and they are contacting individual scientists to get their views. The scientists are provided with the work of other scientists and will be reviewing their findings. Gunns application is absolutely full of holes.
    On the question of Bob Brown “giving” preferences to the Liberals. I think you will find that Greens in individual seats are given a good deal of say over where their preferences go.
    My point is that Malcolm Turnbull will probably try to make a direct appeal over the heads of the organisations and attempt to convince individual Greens and other independent minded voters that what is he is doing is worth rewarding. He may or may not succeed.
    Yes his number game would be to try to save his seat, otherwise his parliamentary career would come to a grinding standstill, but at the same time he will try to be a hero and save enough Liberal seats so that they retain government. Obviously that will be a herculean task given the mood of the people and also the editorial writers now.
    And yes Family First is a dangerous extremist organisation, much worse than Fred Nile who implicitly believes the world was created about 6,000 years ago. He also is virulently anti-gay and anti-green of course. He has an interesting collection of literature and film however.

  24. Jen

    When I first started investigating FFP after some comments by Bill Weller on this site I examined everything… the party, policies, people, churches that were supposedly behind it etc. Then I actually met some members of this party and talked politics. Jen, to be honest, you sound like Arbie Jay and banging on with the “bogey man” tactic.

    I found these FFP candidates and members lovely and very “normal” (or at least “middle class” which may stretch the definition of normal somewhat!). If your experience was negative, that’s a shame, but the FFPcandidate and his wife that I met were getting on great guns with the local greens candidate, sharing jokes and cups of tea, all very pleasant for “mortal enemies”.

    As an aside, I heard of equally inappropriate behaviour with some Greens taunting FFP candidates, yelling and even spitting in some booths. So undignified behaviour, whilst exceptional is no doubt not limited to one party.

    Fundamentalism is a loaded journalistic term. By definition and action, Greens are generally fundamentalists. They are publicly active for a cause and unwilling to compromise their principles. I see more violence, unrest, agitation and civil unrest with environmentalists in Australia than I ever do with those with strict (Christian) religious beliefs.

    Increasingly, I am seeing a growing trend for Left leaning citizens to be intolerant at best and discriminatory at worst, when it comes to Christians and I don’t understand the hypocrisy. We can just be tolerant of those who believe exactly what we do.. that is, by definition, not tolerance.

  25. Jen, Paul K, Arbie

    I really don’t understand the apocalyptic line about FFP is based on (except a xenophobic fear more usually attributed to One Nation/Pauline voters).

    Last time I looked, this was a democracy. If FFP get “too radical” for Australia, then they will decline. I notice that the Green vote has not recovered in polls federally, since the 2004 election and has not risen appreciably in state votes. Maybe this, too, is democracy at work moderating fundamentalism as it should?

    You can’t vote on “coulds”, “might’s”, “watch outs!”. People on this site are constantly warning about the “scary unions” if Labor gets in, “scary big business meanies” if the Libs remain, the “organic, tree-hugging business smashers!” with the Greens and now it is “those scary middle-class Christians”. Right. Well of the four, I know whom I am NOT scared of! 🙂

    So by all means, go xenophobic guys, but, if you don’t mind, I’ll stick to stated policy, senate voting records and what the party is actually doing. I have a family and I think they actually make sense and this Fielding guy is working his butt off!! (Compare his Private members Bills to Barnaby Joyce’s zero count with infinite hot air!!).These FFP guys have impressed me so much I think I might even give them a go this time.. we are very fortunate to live in a democracy! 🙂

  26. Press release from Lowry Institute, today

    “In 2007, Pres G. W. Bush caused 69% to have an unfavourable opinion of the US, with US foreign policy causing 63% to hold an unfavourable opinion …”

    Wild speculation, I know, I know … but is it possible that Howard phoned his mate and said something like: “Gidday George, mate, I’ve got an election on here and the punters don’t like you at all. Have you got something better to do … “

  27. Well Generic Oracle if you are a devout Christian and fundamentally anti-gay and anti-green and believe the world was created 6000 years ago and that you will be saved and no one else will, then by all means vote FFP. It’s interesting how one needs to be tolerant of those who are intolerant, as a moderate Christian would. I’ve worked alongside Fred Nile for fifteen years and some of the things he and Elaine believe in and say would make your hair curl. We still haven’t found out what silver streaming means – Elaine mentioned it one day.

  28. ( So by all means, go xenophobic guys )


    I think you are really over-reacting to what was said about FF. Obviously they must be pretty important to you but one of the great things about democracy is we have a right to be suspicious of all Pollies and not take them at face value. If you feel comfortable with FF that’s fine, but if others don’t so what. The vast majority of people don’t feel comfortable enough to vote for them or else they would poll better than they do at elections. In regards to what Jen said, I myself have heard good Christian folk speak about those who don’t vote for them as being influenced by Satan. I don’t think there is anything I have said about FF which is untrue.

  29. “Love to know what’s happening in the Howard bunker.”

    Presumably a version of “Where’s General Wenck” but I don’t expect $Tip to be doing a Goering style takeover when the “Socialist Hordes” are about to storm said bunker.

    “Magda” G. Murdoch about to “poison” the children at Der Government Gazette Spiegel, what a sorry state of affairs for the Howardprinzip that “Joseph G” Murdoch ratted.

    Stay tuned, history indicates a “suicide” is on the cards.

    BTW If Bush cancels for APEC, would it not be “wonderful” if “Shoot’em in the Face” Cheney fills in.

  30. In a psephological sense, the rise of FF can be seen as a good thing for the Left. The only place where they will matter is in the Senate. In normal half-Senate elections, each State tends to split 3 Left and 3 Right, and the two Territories 1 each. Labor will quite often lose “their” third Senator to the Greens, but on the Right there’s no where for a disaffected Lib to go. They used to be able to vote for the Democrats (and this is the real reason for their demise, as they were trying to straddle the divide between soft Right and hard Left), but this is not an option any more. So the rise of FF does give these voters somewhere to go, and if they can sustain it, will help ensure that the Libs don’t get control of the Senate again. Without FF, such Coalition control is more than possible.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m far more likely to vote Green than FF (though I am at heart an ALP voter), and I do have some concerns about the encroachment of religion into politics. However their behaviour so far has been pretty moderate. I suspect that a Labor government might find FF a bit easier to deal with than the Greens (though of course, Labor will probably have to deal with both).

  31. There’s no question Family First is well to the right of John Howard even though they put on friendly faces. It would be odd for an ALP leaning person to vote for Family First. It would make more sense for a National Party person to vote Family First or defectors from Fred Nile.
    Family Firsters are as fundamental as Jihadists. I’ve met a few fundamental Muslims in the Middle East who believe in every literal word of the Koran and believe absolutely that violence as a first resort is acceptable. They are also bidden in the Koran not to make friends of Christians and Jews. Well Family First people also believe in the literal word of the Bible. There’s no room for questioning. You will only be saved if you are born again. Tony Abbott has brought his Catholic religion into politics and it has taken precedence when making decisions for the community, even though the bulk of Australians are not devout Catholics.
    We live in a secular society. It is important than when a person is elected to Parliament they make decisions for non-believers as well as believers in every religion. We are also a pluralist secular society and there is an enormous diversity of beliefs and non-beliefs. It is wrong for one narrow sect of one religion to dominate whether it be Islam or Christianity.
    Look at the heartache in Turkey where an Islamist has been elected President for the first time in eighty years. Look at the problems in Iran where a fundamentalist Shiite is in control when the bulk of the population is either secular or moderate Shiite.

  32. Howard has just called a Rudd statement on IR: “Wild and untruthful.” What a compliment from the Master.

    (Must stop this or I will go blind or be banned).

    It’s the result of 11 years of pure frustration.

  33. Rob and Generic Oracle,

    firstly let me say I am not at all criticising Christians – my kids go to a Catholic school .
    I was disturbed by the behaviour of some of the FF supporters. Some ,including their HTV people were fine with me. It is my fear that evangelical christian movements (which is the movement behind Family First) attracts extreme fundamentalists. No doubt it also has perfectly reasonable members. The influence of the Right wing Christian movement is plain to see in the US, and I would be alarmed to see that happen here. If you think that is unreasonable then fair enough, but what I described is what happened in the electorate I am in.
    As for poor behaviour by Green’s supporters: it is totally unacceptable and against the party guidelines for polling booth volunteers.

    Stephen Fielding has done little to support families in australia – his greatest contribition has been to lobby to get preachers into secular schools. Again – very concerning , even to a catholic like me.
    I do not support extremism anywhere, including in my own party and work hard to moderate some of these views when i hear them

    Enjoy our vote .

  34. Richard @ 386

    Yes. Well said. I don’t care what they worship in private, that’s their business: but don’t make it public policy. It’s a disturbing trend in OZ politics and for the life of me I can’t see it changing. The punters are too disinterested to ponder this. It will take years to wash through.

  35. Malcolm Turnbull has said that his decision would not be made during the caretaker mode of government and it will be made in six weeks. This surely means that John Howard won’t go to the polls until November 17th or later.

  36. [Yes. Well said. I don’t care what they worship in private, that’s their business: but don’t make it public policy. It’s a disturbing trend in OZ politics and for the life of me I can’t see it changing. The punters are too disinterested to ponder this. It will take years to wash through.]

    Why conservatives talking constantly about “family values”, as if people on the left weren’t born into families. Or as Keating used to say, it is as if conservatives think progressives were all delivered by storks.

  37. [Malcolm Turnbull has said that his decision would not be made during the caretaker mode of government and it will be made in six weeks. This surely means that John Howard won’t go to the polls until November 17th or later]

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard still calls the election in late September or early October to create a really long campaign. He seems to think that wearing Rudd out, and waiting for a slip up is his best chance.

  38. “as if people on the left weren’t born into families”

    didn’t you know that all lefties are born in communes and believe in free love and drugs?

  39. [didn’t you know that all lefties are born in communes and believe in free love and drugs?]

    Of course, and all righties were created by “god”.

  40. Didn’t I have the FFP are moderate ‘discussion’ on this very blog some 6 months ago. And didn’t God pop down to tells us I was right?

  41. Thank you, Dinsdale, for info on the Luntz character & M.O. My hope that the dumbing down of the Oz population hasn’t proceeded beyond some sort of tipping point was bouyed today by the results from the Lowey Institute’s poll. Anyone else catch it? A number of things have certainly shifted in people’s minds in terms of being priorities which will not suit the NLP agenda, particularly, the NLP/ Howard fondness for nuclear. Hello, Baz, if you’re about. Oh dear, if someone’s invisible friend is going to become more of a determinant in the Australian political landscape, then I propose that the judging the witch scene from “Monty Python & the Holy Grail”, should become a required component of the Australian citizenship test, and should be applied retrospectively to all non Indigeneous inhabitants.

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