Her Majesty’s pleasure

On my list of concerns about the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006, the removal of the vote from prisoners serving full-time detention ranked pretty low. Nonetheless, the measure’s disproportionate impact on the Aboriginal population gave it an unpleasant edge, so there is good reason to be pleased with the High Court’s decision to strike it down (Brian Costar of the Swinburne University of Technology offers a more sophisticated critique of its jurisprudential shortcomings). The case was brought by Vickie Lee Roach, an Aboriginal woman serving a six-year sentence in Victoria for burglary and recklessly causing serious injury, with the support of former Federal Court judge Ron Merkel. The reasons for the court’s decision will not be published for several months, but are known to revolve around the constitution’s requirement that MPs be “chosen directly by the people”, and to have been influenced by similar rulings in Canada and South Africa.

Women inmates debate the merits of the single transferable vote

For most of the federal parliament’s history, prisoners were disqualified from voting if serving an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer. This was eventually relaxed to five years or longer in 1983, then to apply only to prisoners serving terms of five years or longer in 1995. The Howard government first attempted to introduce a blanket ban before the 2004 election, but were only able to persuade the Senate to reduce the required sentence from five years to three years. A few years earlier, Poll Bludger regular Graeme Orr calculated that the government’s proposal would have increased the number of prisoners affected from around 11,000 to 17,875; my own back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests the Senate’s amendment reduced this to about 14,500 (Graeme will no doubt correct me if I am wrong). Then came what Nationals Senator Ron Boswell unwisely but accurately described as “open slather” following the Coalition’s Senate election triumph in 2004. The effect of the High Court ruling is to restore the previously existing three-year sentence limit.

UPDATE: A good assessment of the judgement and the whole “chosen directly by the people” thorny potato from Ken Parish at Club Troppo.

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.

69 comments on “Her Majesty’s pleasure”

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  1. One thing about barring prisoners from voting.
    I thought that the constitution? or electoral laws said if a person was entitled to vote in a state election they were entitled to vote in the federal election?
    Is this right? and if so how does the federal govt get around this bit.

  2. Howard will do anything to disenfranchise voters who wont win him this election.

    Anybody who argues the Prime Minister is old and out of touch is not paying attention to the pork barrel that involves spending vast amounts of money: our money. During the 2007-2008 budget speech, Costello promised money to retired people to pay for “ a better retirement”. He offered to help apprentices buy the tools of their trade because they were young. And all sorts of other interest groups also got a go.
    Instead of just indiscriminately mailing cheques to every voter he can think of, the Prime Minister may focus on other people in great need, Coalition marginal seat backbenchers and attention to this strategy began to develop in March this year.
    On March 29, 2007, Stephen Matchett in The Australian noted that in his 2004 campaign keynote speech, the Prime Minister gave away $100 million a minute and kept it up for an hour. Matchett observed , “ With the Government’s poll ratings lower than subterranean, it’s a fair bet it will quickly come up with its own ideas for election winning, sorry, nation-building infrastructure funded by some spare billions discovered when Treasury officials were tidying the sock drawer. Indeed, the Government is already at it, with last month’s plan to spend $1.5 billion on water infrastructure in the bush” .
    On May 21st, money for 89 road projects were handed to local councils by the federal Government despite some councils not even applying for the funding or asking for it to be spent differently. A Senate committee heard executive director of Auslink Leslie Riggs knew scant detail of the projects, which are funded from the Auslink Strategic Regional Program.

    Transport Minister Mark Vaile and Roads Minister Jim Lloyd announced in this year’s budget an additional $250 million for the scheme across 2006-07 along with another $300 million to be rolled out under Auslink II from 2009-10. Opposition transport spokesman Martin Ferguson said “He should spend more time talking to local communities about their needs and less time distributing road funding on the basis of an electoral map.”
    On May 30th, Cath Hart of The Australian noted that NATIONALS leader Mark Vaile foreshadowed a fresh batch of grants to regional areas under a funding program previously attacked as being political pork-barrelling.
    The Deputy Prime Minister has also allowed the community-based committees that make recommendations about the grants to keep $1.5 million in one-off funding despite acknowledging they have failed to meet conditions to qualify for the money. Although Mr Vaile denied abusing the system, he was accused earlier this year of sacking several heads of the so-called area consultative committees (ACC), which make recommendations over grants, and replacing them with people likely to toe the line.
    Labor Party misinformation ? I don’t think so. The former head of a committee recommending who should receive commonwealth regional grants says she was dumped after rejecting pressure from Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to favour his electorate. Leone Taylor, a Liberal Party member, yesterday said the Howard Government had politicised its Regional Partnerships Program by stacking advisory committees with appointees prepared to “play ball”.
    The Government had turned the grants scheme into a “vote-catching” machine, said Ms Taylor, who until recently headed the Adelaide south central Area Consultative Committee (ACC), which advises the Government on grants over an area including Mr Downer’s seat of Mayo. Ms Taylor said that during a meeting in mid-December with Mr Downer and one of his staff, Mr Downer told her he was interested only in grants for Mayo. Ms Taylor, a longstanding Liberal who serves on Mr Downer’s campaign committee and holds a seat on the Adelaide Hills Council, chaired her ACC for 15 years .
    She told The Australian she met Mr Downer in mid-December to discuss her hope for reappointment and attempted to show him her plan for all projects her committee proposed to support around the region, which also included the Liberal-held seats of Barker and Kingston. “He said, ‘Look I am not interested in that. I am only interested in my own’,” Ms Taylor said. “He said, ‘Kim Richardson (in Kingston) will have to look after himself and Pat Secker (in Barker), well, he’s all right because that’s a safe seat’.” The next thing she knew, she had not been reappointed.
    The heat on pork barrels became earnest in August, beginning with Matthew Franklin, Chief political correspondent of the Australian commenting that John Howard has been accused of spurning good policy-making in favour of panic-driven decisions dictated by pollsters after the embarrassing leak of an internal Liberal strategy document.
    Labor seized on the leaked advice to the Government from researchers Crosby/Textor as evidence that the Prime Minister had become so desperate to retain power in the coming election that he was governing on the basis of polling strategy, contrary to the Government’s insistence that it made decisions on the basis of national interest.
    In the leaked document, revealed in News Limited newspapers yesterday, Crosby/Textor advises Mr Howard to stress that his Government is bailing out inefficient state governments. The advice, dated June 21, shed light on Mr Howard’s move to fund a community-based takeover of Devonport’s Mersey Hospital, which the Tasmanian Government had planned to downgrade.
    Matthew Franklin also noted that Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane insisted he has no barrel of money to spend in marginal electorates ahead of the approaching election, denying Labor claims that the Howard Government will seek to buy its way back into office. Announcing a $6 million assistance package for the timber industry in Scottsdale, in the marginal Tasmanian seat of Bass, Macfarlane said the Government had no intention of applying industry assistance schemes to communities in marginal seats for political reasons.
    “That’s not the way we work,” he told The Australian yesterday. “I don’t have any plans in marginal electorates. I’ve got no pork barrel.”
    After a Senate estimates committee (2005) several projects promised funding during the 2004 election had not received it, including a revamp of the Dalby Showgrounds despite construction being slated to begin in less than eight weeks, Senator Carr had at least some grounds in arguing that “They will do anything, say anything and promise anything to cling on to power, especially in marginal electorates.”
    On August 21, the federal government today announced it would set up a Health and Medical Investment Fund (HAMIF) by the end of the financial year, using $2.5 billion of the unexpectedly high $17.3 billion budget surplus.
    Doctors have welcomed news that up to $4.5 billion will be channelled into an investment scheme to pay for high-tech medical facilities and equipment. But there are concerns that the competitive allocation process for money could mean poorly resourced services which need money the most, like indigenous services, may miss out, or the scheme could be used to pork-barrel in marginal electorates.

    Given these realities, there is substantial support for Labor’s claim that whatever Mr Howard says between now and election day is driven purely by in-house political research, not a commitment to the nation’s long-term economic and social wellbeing.

    So much for the ‘Howard legacy’ Glen. This morally and ethically bankrupt Prime Minister is trying to buy his way out of defeat with billions of dollars worth of announcements sprouting from his election speak throughout this week alone and much of it targeted at Coalition backbenchers marginal seats. It is transparent and beneath the office of a Prime Minister to act in this way. Menzies at least had some moral fibre.

  3. Thanks William – the MSM didn’t give this decision much coverage. Odd since it’s been a political football (and an attempted wedge) for more than a decade.

    This decision was unexpected: the High Court has been so deferential to ‘parl. sovereignty’ in electoral matters. For once, they’ve not left the lolly shop in total control of the kids.

    And no, you may be wrong or right about the numbers! But I can’t correct you as I’ve not rifled around the prisoner stats for a few years.

    What will be interesting about the reasons is the degree to which they’ve implied a right to vote for ‘people’ generally and the breadth of the discretion they’ve left to Parliament to still disenfranchise some. It’s not clear whether they’ve upheld the ‘3 year’ disenfranchisement rule, or just left it as the fallback position.

  4. Nice piece Ollie. Some more detailed evidence of this governments mishandling of public funds for purely political reasons.
    Its eroding support in their safe seats, I’m in one and the editorials are asking for everything from hospital interventions (now offered,as a last resort, by Rudd) to industry assistance. Adds to the scepticism surrounding the PM’s blatant short term electioneering, and could potentially see some supposedly safe govt seats fall, or come very close.
    Rudd’s got Howard’s measure. He will look like a sober statesman giving ‘in principle’ support to palatable pork barrels to neutralise any political gain, while to the electorate at large Howard will look like an irrational populist with no forsight for the long term, throwing public money around like confetti in an inflationary environment.
    Pork barrelling, while they have worked in the past, could potentially backfire this election because of the overwhelming cynicism surrounding past actions.

  5. Thanks Ollie, very interesting. The Republican administration disenfranchised millions of African Americans. Many eligible to vote were struck off the rolls in Florida as they had the same names as former prisoners. Enough were struck off for Bush to win.
    Cutting off the rolls on the day the election is announced is another ploy to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of new voters, the vast majority of whom will not be voting for John Howard.
    Many of these are polled by Morgan etc but are not actually yet on the roll.
    It could distort the result.
    I’m surprised that John Howard didn’t use his power in both Houses to make voting non compulsory. Research must have indicated that changing it would not benefit him.
    He will do anything, say anything, threaten anything, give any amount of money away to stay in office.
    On another note, the horse flu has not bitten the government directly yet but it has taken some of the oxygen out of the air for John Howard.
    His message on Kevin Rudd’s IR changes has been somewhat lost.
    There is another point which hasn’t come up yet. AQIS has been starved of funds by this government as have so many other governmental instrumentalities.
    I would expect Gavan O’Connor to attack Peter McGauran over lack of funding and try to make the Howard government responsible for this outbreak. Part of Peter Costello’s huge surplus is funds which should have gone to AQIS.

  6. Arbie Jay @#1: “I thought that the constitution? or electoral laws said if a person was entitled to vote in a state election they were entitled to vote in the federal election?
    Is this right? and if so how does the federal govt get around this bit.”

    I think you will find that the High Court decided (in the 1980s??) that s41 only applied to persons on the State rolls at the time of Federation. So, this ‘right’ is a dead duck. [Ironically, the existence of this right did not stop the Commonwealth electoral authorities from disenfranchising Aboriginal Australians who had been enrolled at Federation…]

  7. To take this issue to a different, but I think related topic ; what about the fact that the closing of the electoral rolls by 8.00 pm on the day the election is called could mean over 450,000 voters do not enrol in time -( the number who apparently enrolled in the allowed 2 weeks after the last election was called).
    If this number is correct (and i’m really not sure if it is),then could this have a real effect on marginal seats – particularly as they are in the majority young first -time voters ie: more likely to support minor parties?
    I f this is too off-topic move on, but surely anything that limits anyone’s ability to vote is a threat to the basis of democracy.

  8. The purpose of electoral laws should be to provide a system that allows the expression of the will of all citizens. It should not be used to limit this expression.

    There are some who have forgone the right participate in the electoral process. This is a small number and any further limitation to this right should be resisted most strenuously.

  9. Do you suppose that a Rudd government will change the electoral enrollment law back to something much more reasonable? I don’t see why not, it would just be one more Howard mess that they could quite easily fix up.

  10. # 6 Richard Jones, can you provide a shred of evidence to support your ridiculous Michael Moore inspired conspiracy theory?

  11. If Rudd loses the election very narrowly, say by a few hundred votes in a couple of marginal seats, could he go to court and argue that the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands caused by Howard’s draconian new electoral laws disadvantaged the Labor Party?
    No wonder the ALP is advertising on FM radio, calling on young people to enrol to vote immediately – they must be really worried about this!

  12. On Sky News at 10:30am this morning, an interview by their political editor, David Spiers, with George Bush. Apparently, Sky News has sent him over there ahead of the APEC summit and he is travelling back with the US contingent. Brief comments listed just now on the television and amongst them (not unexpected I think) he is urging Rudd to not pull the troops out of Iraq if he wins the election. [Note I said “if” and not “when”, we have to be politically correct ;-D]. Think that Bush ought to keep his nose out of our domestic politics …… Julie

  13. Howard Hater (17),

    They (the Labour organizers) are taking this registration drive to the point that they are targetting ex-pats in places like London and the US to get registered. I heard (although I can not verify this) that they were even taking out ads on the USA cable TV channel, MTV …….. Julie

  14. Adam, the writs are usually issued on a Monday to give a 33 day campaign (40 day in the case of 2004). The last 6 elections have been announced on days between Thursday and Sunday before the writ was issued on a Monday. A few days to sort the writs out is because the State Governors issue the Senate writs, and they need to be found first. However, past practice may not be a good guide this time because of the change in close of rolls. The government may issue the writ for the House at once to fix the date and prevent the State’s delaying the Senate writs in an effort to keep the rolls open.

  15. Re: Adam – i wish you would contribute more – you’re a much needed voice of sanity

    Re: High Court – i bet Howard is upset that a Court mostly composed of his appointees has rebuffed him this close to an election.

  16. Howard Hater, we’ve done this one before. The Court of Disputed Returns does not have the power to review the rolls. It would have to be an appeal to the High Court on a Constitutional ground, and even if the Court made a finding, it would not be retrospective. This has been seen in past cases to do with state representation. What the government has done is currently constitutional. If the High Court in the future ruled otherwise, it would be a ruling that only applied in the future. When the Court has at various time ruled state taxes unconstitutional, they were only unconstitutional in the future, all the previoius taxes didn’t have to be paid back.

  17. Efforts at court-packing rarely work. Even conservative judges – one might say particularly conservative judges – have a habit of developing minds of their own once appointed.

  18. Adam (23),

    “Efforts at court-packing rarely work. Even conservative judges – one might say particularly conservative judges – have a habit of developing minds of their own once appointed.”

    Sad to say but they do occasionally work. Take the USA for a prime example. Had the Supreme Court not been stacked with conservatives by Reagan and Bush Sr, Bush Jr. wouldn’t have won the 2000 election. History would have been so different if not for that. I have only been resident in Oz since 2004 so I don’t have enough personal evidence to judge the Aussie High Court ….. Julie

  19. Adam: One could argue the recent High Court decisions in relation to government advertising, Jack Thomas and Workchoices are all bad decisions reached by conservative judges appointed by Howard.

    Kirby always being the notable dissenter 🙂

  20. “The government may issue the writ for the House at once to fix the date and prevent the State’s delaying the Senate writs in an effort to keep the rolls open.”

    Antony if the govt rushes to issue the writs in this manner it surely lays bare their motives in changing the electoral act – a blatant attempt to disenfranchise young voters.

    Have they even tried to justify this change with some good governance excuse?

  21. From a purely philosophical point of view, the problem with banning prisoners from voting seems clear enough to me.

    Let’s say we have a law that puts 10% of the population in prison (thought exercise only…). The remainder of the population are split 50:50 on whether the conduct in question should be illegal. Surely it is consistent with the principles of democracy that those people most affected by the relevant law, the prisoners, should be able to tip the balance in that situation to legalise their conduct and prevent them from being put in prison?

    Put more simply: an offence is only an offence because of laws passed by the Parliament. To take away the right of prisoners to vote is arguably to prevent the people from changing those laws, and potentially creates a circular situation: you broke the law, so you can’t vote, so the parliament doesn’t change, so the law remains in place, so you broke the law. I.e. – the very thing that would legalise your conduct is denied to you by virtue of your conduct!

  22. Outstanding use of Prisoner screen capture there, William. Absolutely outstanding. I salute 🙂

    Something tells me Bea Smith would be a Rudd voter while Joan Ferguson would be Howard all the way.

  23. I would like to defend the closing of rolls.

    It is true that 424,000 changes to enrolments were made after writs and before closing of rolls in 2004.

    This is incredible when you consider there are less than 12 million voters. Particularly when you consider that the state/federal/local government electoral cycle means on average people vote once a year (there are about 265,000 18 year olds in Australia)

    The Government was concerned about the integrity of the rolls as voter details could not be verified in the few days allowed. (Remember, the Government also introduced Proof of Identity requirments.).

    With the new approach, people will have to register in anticipation of an election any time soon and risk being caught in a fraud if they are not being truthful. I believe you still have a couple of days grace for a change of address to be processed after writs.

    It can be argued that these changes disenfranchised the young and homeless just as it could be argued the changes strengthened the integrity of the electoral roll. Everyone will have their own opinions but it is not such a one sided case as some of the anti-Howard vitriol would have people believe.

  24. PS
    Just because they rolls close on a different date doesn’t mean those 400,000 miss out, its like homework. If the day weekly assignments are due is changed from Mondays to the previous Friday it doesn’t follow that all those that previously submitted on a Monday will now fail………..different rules produce different responses.

  25. ifonly # 32
    the problem is that no one has actually proven that the electoral role was weak, so if there is no proven benefit and only costs (ie many more people not being able to vote, never mind increased administration), it seems to be bad policy, part from any one-sided political effects (which of course it would also be very hard to prove)

  26. Antony Green, if you’re still around, I have a question for you about your comments in today’s Australian re Tasmania and the Gunn’s mill:

    But the ABC’s psephologist Antony Green, says Labor has got it right.

    “The Tasmanians really don’t like the tie between Gunns and the state Government, they have unease about whether this plant is clean or not, but they’d like to see the plant built as well,” Green says.

    “What they really don’t want is federal intervention. If either major party says it will not let the plant go ahead, that party will be the loser in Braddon and Bass.” So, Green says, Labor is trying its best to avoid taking a firm position. “At the last election the policy of the Opposition became the issue and this time Labor wants it to remain an issue for the Government,” Green says.

    My question is, on what basis do you say that Tasmanians would like to see the plant built? As I understand it, recent polling shows a clear majority in the two most marginal seats there oppose it? Is there broader polling of all Tasmanians which contradicts that poll? The extensive article in The Monthly a few issues back also refers repeatedly to the majority of Tasmanians opposing the mill.

    I agree with your point about an intervention. A politically sensible solution for both federal parties would be for them to sit down together and actually agree to stop the mill, but of course that would require a degree of trust that is simply not apparent in contemporary Australian politics.

  27. It can be argued that these changes disenfranchised the young and homeless just as it could be argued the changes strengthened the integrity of the electoral roll. Everyone will have their own opinions but it is not such a one sided case as some of the anti-Howard vitriol would have people believe.

    Some points:

    (a) Can you point to some evidence that the rolls were compromised by the week’s grace period?

    (b) You are overlooking human nature, which is that people will not think about enrolling until the election is called. They will not now ‘get in early’ – the election being called will be the first time they think about their enrolment.

    (c) On the ‘anti-Howard vitriol’ point, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the majority of people who will now be excluded will be ALP-leaning voters, rather than coalition voters, particularly the young.

    When you combine (a) and (c), it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that there is an agenda at work which has nothing to do with ‘integrity’.

  28. Adam – Well yes you could argue that decisions which suited the Howard Government were the result of Howard appointing conservative judges, but it’s an argument too simple to be accurate.

    Callinan the capital C conservative was appointed by this government, but voted with Kirby in favour of states rights and against the WorkChoices expansion of Commonwealth power.

    Meanwhile, Gummow the supposedly ultimate conservative black letter lawyer was appointed by the Keating government, not by this one. And he isn’t always on the right wing side by any means. Remember Gummow voted for the expansion of native title in the Wik case – unhesitatingly confident he knew a property right when he saw one; while Brennan the supposed activist voted against; and Kirby, supposedly the ultimate activist, was clearly concerned in the Wik case about the court making such a big call without the sort of evidence that a government process such as a law reform commission inquiry could produce.

    Just a couple of examples to indicate that whether or not we think recent decisions are good or bad (in their reasoning and in their effects), once people are on the High Court (in this country anyway) they have a habit not only of thinking for themselves and trying to do an honest job as they see it, but of developing views too complex to be at all accurately described by the sort of labels that someone like Janet Albrechtsen is fond of throwing around.

  29. Kevo’s here tomorrow, Howard just left the other day after his shopping center heckling.

    The majprotu of the prisoners up here tend to be Aboriginal and Labor voters.

  30. Thanks ifonly, it’s good to see the reasoning laid out.

    I do not buy it however. Given that people move, on average, every seven years, we can expect at least a third of the voting population to have shifted address from one election to the next. That’s 4 million voters having to fill out the little cards at the Post Office. The fact that only 10% of this mobile lot – 400,000 odd – dashed to do so at the call of the last election seems not unreasonable or unexpected.

    I think the government needs to suck it up. I recall one has to prove ones address with a lease or a set of bills before you can register. There may be some fraud, but does trying to stamp this out mean more than the mass disenfranchisement we could be facing from now on? I don’t think it does. And what does the AEC do to check the validity of enrolments anyway? I’ve never once been followed up with a letter or a call in my various shifts around Sydney.

    As a sidebar, I can report my expat cousin and her partner, on a recent visit to Sydney, deliberately stayed with some friends in Bennelong for a few nights and registered to vote while there. All perfectly legal. I suspect they didn’t go to all this trouble to support our dear PM.

  31. Antony Green: thank you for the explanation! Sir, I love your work on the ABC election night telecasts!
    I presume that Rudd if elected will reverse Howard’s electoral laws?
    Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall when Rudd meets Bush next week?

  32. A question. I am going overseas for a few months to a remote area where I won’t be able to cast an overseas vote, but I expect the election to be called before I leave.

    For pre-poll votes, how would that work. Will an AEC office just spring up in my electorate or do I get a postal vote from the post office or somewhere?

    Thanks in advance.

  33. Adam and David –

    Whilst I agree with your general view (that it’s hard to stack the High Court effectively), there has nevertheless been a fairly strong sense in certain recent decisions that some members of the Court have abandoned legal principle in favour of ideology. David, the dissents you speak of, particularly Callinan in WorkChoices, and I can also think of Hayne J in Thomas v Mowbray, are sometimes the reaction of legally conservative judges to the politically conservative, but legally radical, approach of the rest of the Court. The latter case in particular represents an absolutely extraordinary expansion of the Defence Power to encompass all manner of domestic law enforcement so long as it is related to the vaguely defined notion of ‘terrorism’. And of course WorkChoices effectively suggested that the Commonwealth can take over any aspect of state power so long as it is ‘connected’ to corporations one way or another – and what isn’t, in this era?

    Ever since the Engineers’ Case the High Court has been drifting further and further from the original intentions of the Constitution vis-a-vis federalism – but the present Court seems happy to ignore even its own past decisions to complete a federal rout of states’ rights.

    Kiefel J will be an interesting appointment – conservative, but aligned to the wetter end of the Qld Liberal party.

  34. Fully up now
    Big turnaround


    [‘Coalition primary support is up 4.5% to 41% following the recent downturn in international financial markets, now just 5% behind the ALP (46%, down 3.5%), the latest face-to-face Morgan Poll finds.

    With preferences distributed as they were at the 2004 election, the two-party preferred vote is ALP 54.5% (down 4%), L-NP 45.5% (up 4%). ‘]

  35. This is quite a curious turn around for Morgan when you consider that all the other polls have been moving the other way by a couple of percent over the last few weeks. But I believe Possum noted that Morgan seems to detect the start oc changes quicker than the other polls, so maybe there is some lag that previous polls were still rising, while Morgan has now started decreasing?

  36. The last four Morgan face to face polls have reported

    Not hard to work out which is the odd one out. Rather than a turn back to the government we have what we have had for the last three months, not much change.

  37. I don’t know if William intended it but there is a psephological link with his choice of picture. Val Lehmann (the actress who created the role of Bea Smith) is the wife of Charles Collins, 2001 Liberal candidate in Ballarat – who of course picked up the preselection from Russell Mark when he picked up his pistol and target and went home. Which of course leaves the ALP with one seat less to win.

  38. I have a problem with sudden large dips and rises as though a group of the public are acting like a flock of birds switching directions with no discernable reason. I don’t buy the economic concern reason considering the other polls recently.

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