Phoney war dispatches

Another old thread title reactivated, for the want of a newer and better idea. It’s looking like the war won’t be phoney for long, with a growing sense that the Prime Minister will be forced to break the circuit next week by calling an election for late October. Keeping the faith is Christopher Pearson at The Australian, who still expects a “narrow Coalition victory”. This is based on the fact that Newspoll got it “horribly wrong” in 2004, when its final poll overstated the Labor vote by 1.4 per cent and understated the Coalition vote by 1.7 per cent.

Bass (Tas, Liberal 2.6%) and Lyons (Tas, Labor 3.7%): The Australian reports Shadow Environment Minister Peter Garrett has backtracked on suggestions the proposed West Tamar pulp mill would be subjected to an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, under a party policy covering new projects producing more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. According to reporter Matthew Denholm, this “apparently” followed “the intervention of Kevin Rudd’s office and a backlash by timber groups and pro-logging Labor MPs”. On the other side of the fence, the Liberal candidate for Lyons, Ben Quin, does not appear of a mind to back down after his party threatened him with disciplinary action for publicly stating his opposition to the mill.

Moreton (Qld, Liberal 2.8%) and Bonner (Qld, Liberal 0.7%): Labor has promised to commit “up to” $300 million to begin construction of an underpass at the junction of Mains and Kessels roads in Macgregor in Brisbane’s south. The junction is located just inside Moreton and near the boundary of Bonner. The Courier-Mail records the following reaction from embattled Moreton MP Gary Hardgrave, who claims the resumption of businesses in the area will cost thousands of jobs: “I couldn’t believe my luck. I was always going to win the seat but this now ensures the swing is on”.

La Trobe (Vic, Liberal 5.8%): While Labor is wanting for low-hanging fruit in Victoria, Rick Wallace of The Australian reports this outer eastern Melbourne electorate has been upgraded to target seat status, although “well-placed Labor sources say Labor has made greater gains in Queensland”.

Ballarat (Vic, Labor 2.2%): Labor member Catherine King suffered a self-inflicted wound last weekend when Kevin Rudd’s office ordered the withdrawal of a television ad which attacked Liberal candidate Samantha McIntosh for having a $2.2 million property on the market.

Newcastle (NSW, Labor 8.7%): The Daily Telegraph reports “prominent Newcastle businessman and city councillor Aaron Buman” is considering standing as an independent.

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.

403 comments on “Phoney war dispatches”

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  1. 250 Gaynor Says: The big issue from the next election seems to be the one everyone is ignoring. How many seats will the National Party retain in the lower house.

    I think you’re missing the point. At the end of this election, the nationals will probably have a higher proportion of seats in the coalition than they do now. Moving back to their traditional values (which the liberals have taken them from) will probably be good for them. If it had been up to them, they would never have let the sale of telstra go through.

    Mark Vaile is still very popular.

  2. The Nationals in order to survive should jettison their neo-con policies and green themselves up. But they won’t. I have just been to a country function and you know these people will always be very conservative.
    The percentage of GDP emanating from the country is declining and is relatively unimportant now, unlike the days when we rode on the sheep’s back. The ever continuing drought which may be now permanent with global warming will drive more and more people off the land. The country electorates will get larger and larger. The National Party will wither and die like the Democrats. It’s harsh on the land.
    There are more and more Liberal rebels in Canberra talking up the leadership change.
    It is understandable that Peter Costello would not want to take over now.
    He’d be PM for eight weeks, hardly an outstanding record, quite humiliating really.
    He can add up and knows whether the figures favour him.
    In a Morgan poll not so long ago Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull were level pegging in the alternative leadership stakes.
    Malcolm has nothing to lose. The plot hatched in Melbourne has legs.
    If he were PM for eight weeks and then opposition leader for who knows how long, it wouldn’t bother him. He’s relatively new to politics.
    If Peter were PM for eight weeks and then lost as expected he would be out of politics altogether in a matter of months.
    He no doubt has an extremely lucrative job waiting for him in a merchant bank at a million a year.
    Why would he stay on for years as opposition leader?
    You have to be joking.
    No, he will only accept the top job now if it is absolutely thrust on him and probably quite reluctantly.
    My view is that there are two likely scenarios.
    The first is that although Peter Costello undoubtedly has the numbers, he now doesn’t want the job as the rot has set in too far and in the event of a leadership spill (initiated by whom?) next week ( depending to a certain extent on Nielsen) that Malcolm will be installed.
    Peter is already thinking of life after politics.
    Nobody else will make the grade.
    The second is that John Howard can weather the hurricane now blowing up around him and hold on long enough to go to the GG.
    He has but three or four days grace.
    I still go 55% leadership spill and 45% John Howard staying, may even be 60-40.

  3. Friday night’s PM program discussed the turning of the conservative press.

    “MARK COLVIN: Eleven-and-a-half years is a long time in politics, though few leaders survive long enough to find that out.

    It was exactly eleven-and-a-half years after she became Britain’s Prime Minister, after many had thought her unassailable for years, that Margaret Thatcher was forced to step down.

    Now, after exactly the same time in office almost to the day, and surrounded by the trappings of international statesmanship, John Howard’s finding his own leadership under question from some of his staunchest supporters in the media.

    This kind of distraction would have been the last thing on John Howard’s mind when he first planned this week’s APEC event.

    But is it just the scribblers and the chatterati who are suggesting that the Prime Minister could be gone before the general election?

    I’m joined by our Chief Political Correspondent Chris Uhlmann.

    Chris, we’ve had Paul Kelly in The Australian already, Andrew Bolt in The Herald-Sun, now Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian all, well certainly for Janet Albrechtsen, the strong, and Andrew Bolt, strong supporters of Mr Howard, and Paul Kelly considered a senior political observer, all saying maybe he should be thinking about going.

    What effect is this having?

    CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, as one Liberal said to me today, as far as the columnists are concerned there is only Piers left now, like a lone Japanese soldier typing away on his island.”

    And here’s Piers today, right on cue:

  4. There seems to be quite a lot of WW2 references in the political discussion of late; the Berlin bunker, the storming of the Reichstag, and now in the Pacific theatre, a lone Japanese soldier.

    I wonder what it all means?

  5. In a sense of mischief, can I draw a parallel between the current situation and the end of Menzies’ second ministry.
    It was obvious to the UAP that Menzies had to go but the UAP was so riven with faction that no-one could step up (Billy Hughes was one of the few candidates). Eventually, it was the Country Party that provided the Prime Minister, Arthur Fadden who reigned for 40 days and 40 nights.
    Mark Vaile will be Prime Minister tomorrow!

  6. I’ll second L Duce, Suave qui Peut@252. That’s a wonderful story. Your dertermination to enlighten your “wayward” friend-in-letters, Jason, is inspirational.

    In the last 24 hours Dolly, Vaille, the Mad Monk and the rest of the Old Firm have circled the wagons and are busy constructing POSSUM’S FIREWALL, despite APEC’s distractions. Ratty’s going to grasp “his” ring of power all the way down like Smeagol. It’s ingrained in his character. The bloke’s an Alpha-Authoritarian. These people don’t concede graciously.

    While El Rodente has his inner circle cowered, it’s going to be “instructive” when formerly loyal backbenchers jerry that they’ve been “let go” and begin to lose control of their beasts within.

    Everbody knows $weetie hasn’t got the bottle for the top job. He’s a loser in this league and no longer a player of consequence.
    A new Lib leader won’t emerge till the calm that follows the electoral storm.

  7. #271

    The problem with vast emporiums is that it is often hard to make them profitable and they lumber along, whereas a chain of boutiques can be adaptable to the market and more flexible in general.
    The hereditary tribalism in “party politics” is on the wane; overall party membership in general is on the decline, as is unionism. Campaigns are becoming more presidential in the sense the marketing of the brand (party) is becoming more logo (leader) centric.
    Much more the success of the marketing campaign is driven by the pot of gold that is raised , the careful packaging of the product and it’s subsequent delivery via various media outlets is much more controlled and directed by PR firms and commercial market polling companies. This does represent a move towards a US presidential style, some of the Liberal tactics have been transplanted directly from the US republicans i.e the dirt units and personal smear techniques. Labor itself has adopted a mix of Clinton’s triangulation with Blair’s “third way” and repackaged it for local consumption.
    The big swings at state level have been about the complete lack of decent product and the inability to present a decent, coherent and well funded marketing campaign. The same could well be the case in this election. We seem to have ended up with cyclical monopolies in our system where one side is a basket case for a long period of time, while the other is totally dominant…. then again maybe there is nothing new under the sun.

  8. # 272 paul k Says: It’s time we had fixed terms. Allowing who ever is PM at the time to call the election is increasingly ridiculous.

    I disagree. I’ve lived in countries with fixed terms, and all you end up getting is an entrenched election/media spectacle. The rest of the time your concerns are completely ignored. No thanks.

  9. Oakeshott Country, how could you wish that on Australia?!
    He too would only last eight weeks.
    Looks like it could be a poisoned chalice and only a very fit candidate could take it.

  10. Attention Pole Bludgers – LATE MAIL

    I have it on good authority that AC Nielsen will be in Fairfax press – Tomorrow Morning.

    My prediction is close to 60/40.

    Other predictions:
    – Howard to stay as leader.
    – October 27 election.
    – Howard to lose his seat.
    – Howard to suffer largest ever defeat.
    – Costello never to become PM.

  11. Yeah I don’t think I favour fixed terms either, the timing of elections does allow for a deeper measure of tactical planning and both the last Labor government and the current coalition one have benefitted.

    It also keeps the opposition on their peak game, they need to be ready to go for the last half of the term and this makes them lean and hungry. You get complacent oppositions if they know exactly how much time they have.

    What I would favour is longer terms.

    I think our terms should be four years. This allows a decent period for a government to be measured against its promises. Currently, after settling in a new government and getting going, the noise of a new election can drown out the inactivity of policies that the government was elected to follow through on. In four years, you can’t hide. If your policies are not working or underway, you don’t deserve to be in.

    It is also cheaper. Fewer campaigns a decade, fewer tax-payer funded ad campaigns spruiking what we already pay for and fewer citizens in mental hospitals in a waxy catatonia after enduring triannual electioneering on prime time TV.

  12. Centre, makes you wonder why it is being published tomorrow. It could influence the leadership question quite markedly. Maybe it was about to be leaked and had to be published early?
    Agree with four out of five of your predictions, not the first one , but you could be right on that too!

  13. 309/ Slain…

    Yes.Yes. And Yes. For me, this raises a lot of questions about the kind of democracy we have. I was raised to think that what kept us free was the strength of our institutions: from parliaments to parties, from unions to sporting clubs. They are all on the way out, it seems. What else is going with them?

  14. On Aristotle’s “WW-II” reference, #306, we watched The Downfall” again the other night.

    There’s an early scene when, after everyone telling him he should flee Berlin to fight on, Hitler turns to the trusted Albert Speer and asks him, “What do you think, Speer?”

    Speer replies, “You should stay on stage until the curtain comes down.”

    This is what Howard will do: stay on and fight.

    In about a month or so’s time he will have his own götterdämmerung, as will we.

    Howard has gone too far, broken too many trusts. He is alone, with only a small coterie of followers left to share his fate with him in the bunker.

    APEC was his Battle Of The Bulge: a noisy, expensive show that at first looked like it might go off well enough, but in the end, by day two, was brought down in a torrent of public scepticism, annoyance, a comedian dressed up as Osama bin Labed and an opposing general who had enough nouse to say “Nuts” (in Mandarin, of course) at the right time.

    It was rather symbolic that George Bush saw fit to apologize to the Australian people even as his pet Prime Minister could not bring himself to do the same thing. In any case, Howard’s apologies are rather like the “Sorrys” you hear when someone gets hit by a falling tree branch… “Sorry it happened, but what does it have to do with me?”

    (Who now remembers APEC, by the way? And the delegations haven’t even all left yet).

    Uhlmann’s comment that Piers was the last Japanese corporal, in the hills still obeying orders, living off the land on an island long abandoned by his comrades. I loved the way in his article today he spoke of “media pundits”, as if he isn’t one of the most obnoxious of them all. Pure delusion.

    Uhlmann, you may remember, made the famous comment not too many months ago that Rudd’s status in Australian politics was a “house of cards”, soon to tumble. Yeah, I wrote to the ABC complaining, but only got back the form letter and a link to the web site to peruse the Code Of Conduct at my leisure. There must have been a lot of complaints about that one though, because Chris has been somewhat less biased ever since he made that broadcast.

    Maybe writing to them and telling them you think they’re dickheads has some effect after all?

  15. I would have fixed terms, but in the Autumn. One of the great things about Australia is that the whole country goes to sleep between Christmas and Australia Day, so having elections in, say, March, would minimise the length of the phony campaign. This is the situation in NSW, and while there is no shortage of political manoevring and speculation the previous year, people so switch off in January, that it acts as a circuit breaker. When the election is towards the end of the year, the phony campaign tends to go on forever.

    On leadership speculation, I can’t see Howard stepping down voluntarily, and I can’t see anyone challanging at this late stage. But the very existence of the speculation means that Howard needs to call the election soon, quite possibly this coming week. That would suggest an election day on 20 or 27 October (or possibly 3 November). He may well go for a longer campaign period, in an attempt to catch Rudd out on the hustings. But it’s hard to see what could possibly bridge the gap.

    On theme music, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Howard’s favourite singer Bob Dylan (lyrics notwithstanding), and his classic, “The Times They Are A’Changin'”.

  16. Centre (313)…

    When has AC Nielson ever been so keenly anticipated? Or the Fairfax press for that matter? I think the 2PP scales will tip above 60 for Rudd – even 62 is possible. There will be chaos in the Liberal salons and Parliament will be prorogued by Friday night. Your other predictions are just the beginning.

  17. Michael Proud,

    As most of us will never agree that the powers of the Senate, the more democratic and more representative House, should be “subservient to those …of the HoR”, the chances of fixed terms appear ended. However, if the Labor Party can get over 1975, there is every chance of fixed terms. An eight-year term for the Senate is not a problem. NSW and SA get by perfectly fine with such for their Legislative Councils. Staggered elections also even out wild swings in public opinion, something that would have helped Victoria in 1992 if we had had a reformed Upper House then.

    One problem with fixed terms is the process for solving disagreements between the House and the Senate. I’d suggest that, rather than have a double dissolution, any bill passed twice by one House and defeated twice by the other should go to a referendum of the people at the subsequent fixed-term election. In the case of the blocking of Supply, the referendum would be immediate – with a provision that, if the people vote to pass supply, the whole Senate has to face an election and, if they vote to block it, the House has to face the election, with the term of office to be whatever remains of the fixed four-year term. This would discourage the blocking of Supply, but not make it impossible.

  18. “As most of us will never agree that the powers of the Senate, the more democratic and more representative House, should be subservient to those of the HoR”
    I don’t think it is very democratic when a Tasmanian’s vote is worth 10x mine.

  19. For all those who were rubbishing Nicole Cornes at this website a few months ago, my Adelaide spy tells me she has discovered a great talent as a campaigner, and that the punters at the shopping centres absolutely love her, mainly because she is not a typical politician. She just chats to the mums about their kids and the price of zucchini, and wins votes wherever she goes. My spy says the SA ALP is increasingly confident about Boothby and Sturt, and think that even Lord Downer will be at risk if a decent independent emerges. So there.

  20. Richard, Blindoptimist,

    I think that the party will come to the view that it is too late to change leader, especially given that a better result at the ballot box is by no means certain. In fact it could get worse.

  21. As I have previously asked – what about the senate result?
    My understanding is that Labour cannot win a majority. Does the Ruddslide in the HoR translate to left votes in the senate ie: labour/ Greens, or will conservatives hang on with Family First/ One Nation/Nats?
    And does this mean a guaranteed double dissolution in July?

  22. Generic Oracle Says: What I would favour is longer terms.

    I agree. an optional four year term would allow for a lot more time governing. In Australias climate, that’s about two years. I’d prefer it to be three.

    The other good thing that being able to set election dates allows, is for less change, but more significant change, in government. The worst type of government is one that goes back and forward again and again, but never accomplishes anything because of the constant shifting of policy.

  23. re post 326 does this mean no election ever? (just joking)
    however this points out a problem why should Mr Howard have this advantage of election timing? surely there should be fixed terms for federal
    elections like NSW has!!!

  24. Sportingbet has halted betting on election date due to rumours PM will visit the GG later today to set the date.

    Unfortunately for Sportingbet, this is predicated on suggestions that backbenchers have been flying back to Canberra early (Saturday). No information that this is true, especially as parliament is not sitting tomorrow (due to APEC). Parliament back on Tuesday morning for the Canandian prime minister.

  25. I have a vague memory of being quite grumpy with the boys club at Poll Bludger for their attitude to the female candidates … don’t tell me they are better than the deadwood boys they were being ranked below? surely they can’t be good? like really good?

  26. [ As I have previously asked – what about the senate result? ]

    As it is only a half senate election Labor cannot win a majority. I’m pretty sure we’ve gone over this in previous treads but while Labor will probably do very well in the Senate race their just aren’t enough seats up for grabs to put them over the line.

  27. I’m wondering am I right in thinking the Liberals have party room meeting at 10:00 am, how long do we expect this meeting to go for?

    I’m not expecting Howard to depart, but I suspect what he may do is announce a resuffle it would catch everyone by surprise then just as the media were responding to that, release a policy then go to GG for Oct 27, using the excuse that he doesn’t want to inconvence Victorians enjoying the long weekend.

    I’m in two minds about fixed terms, like maybe the last Saturday in March for the first Federal Election was held around that time of year, but I find following American Politics that the lead in is way too long winded.

    talking to solid small business Liberal types, the feedback is getting darker for Howard, I can’t any positives for the Govt, compared to Keating whom I loathed, but at least I could find people to say nice things about him.

    APEC has been seen as a great waste of money, Iraq is seens as a diabolicial mess and general Liberal people dismiss Howard and his lot as passed it.

    The Heartland is just shaking its head, and they are most impressed by that Rudd boy.

    Many like Costello, and feel he would make a good PM.

  28. For the Coalition-plus-Fielding to lose control of the Senate they must lose two seats to either Labor or the Greens. The best prospect of this is in Tasmania. Assuming Brown is re-elected with approximately a quota, Labor will need to get close to three quotas (43%) in their own right. On current indications that looks quite possible. The next best chance is SA, where Labor will certainly get three quotas and win Stott Despoja’s seat. To get a fourth seat, taking one from the Liberals, will require four quotas (57%) after preferences. If Labor gets say 49% and the Greens get 8%, this is possible, but it’s a big ask. Alternatively Labor’s surplus could elect the Green. The same scenario is possible in Victoria, though the polls don’t suggest such a big swing as in SA. In NSW Labor will probably knock off Kerry Nettle but will need a very big swing to win a fourth seat. In Qld Labor will be happy to take Bartlett’s seat. In WA on current showing Labor will win two and their suplus will give the sixth seat (Murray’s) to the Greens. There is an outside chance their either Labor or the Green could win the second seat in the ACT. In sum, IMHO, the Coalition losing control of the Senate seems more possible than it did a few months ago, but still on balance not likely.

  29. People are flipping between “will he or won’t he” from one moment to the next. The outcome regarding whether Howard will resign or not is difficult to predict because there is an inherent conflict between what is the logical decision and what is Howard’s natural tendency.

    The logical decision is to resign. Howard has either the choice of being branded a coward or by leading his party to what is potentially the worst defeat ever in Australia’s political history, losing his own seat, and placing the Libs in the wilderness for a long time. If he spins a resignation as a necessary self-sacrifice for the good of his party, he will hope to mitigate some of the accusations of being cowardly, but in the end, this is probably less damaging to his legacy than leading his party to the expected train wreck.

    But cast against this is Howard’s natural tendency to fight. He is tenacious, especially when it comes to power. Every part of his being tells him to hang on, hang on, hang on. This is why he has refused to step down even to this day and seems to have intended to keep going on as PM indefinitely. He loves power and doesn’t want to let it go. Some look at this as a fighter instinct. I see it as a case of not being able to let go for fear of change and fear of returning to a mediocre life.

    I have no doubt that Howard is heavily conflicted right now. And we don’t really know which way he will go. The thing that ultimately tips the scales may well be his party. He knows he cannot stay if his party no longer want him. As some have said, apart from Downer and Vaile, the current silence from the rest of the ministers is very telling. Something is up. It might be that MPs are simply hedging their bets right now. Maybe they don’t even know what Howard will do. But I bet the phones have been running hot this weekend between backbenchers and frontbenchers alike.

  30. oakeshott country,

    The Tasmanian’s vote advantage is cancelled out by the fact that the Senate is more representative of the way people vote. Greens get a say, Family First gets a say, the Democrats get a say. Even the major parties are represented in a better proportion to their voting support than in the Hose of representatives.


    Labor cannot win control of the Senate. The Greens are unlikely to gain the balance of power because to do so the Coalition would have to be reduced to only two quotas in each of three states, with Labor and/or the Greens gaining that seat on top of the three Labor seats that I expect from every state. It is possible that the Coalition will lose control by being reduced to only two quotas in one state, but it would still be able to block Labor proposals because a tied vote in the Senate means the proposal is defeated. If the Coalition is reduced to two quotas in each of two states, the left and centre parties – Greens, Labor and Family First – will have the numbers to tear some pages out of WorknotcalledChoicesanymore, but I think this result is unlikely.

    I do not accept the received wisdom that once the “real” campaign starts, the Coalition will gain ground. I do, however, think a 60-40 split is unlikely simply because it is so remarkable. Labor and the Greens would have to poll some 57 per cent to take four Senate seats between them in any state. A double dissolution is in the Labor Party’s interest because it would consolidate its position as the government; in the Greens’ interests because the lower quota would make their gaining the balance of power likely and in Family First’s interest because the lower quota would mean a better chance of more FF senators.

  31. Just Me 299
    Paul 288

    Just Me and Paul –

    Negatives of fixed terms, you can’t get the SOB’s out of there. If they are wrecking and totally ruining policy, they know that they can abuse everything and still have months/years before they are accountable. Yes, sure, the despised government is still calling the date but a possibility of getting them out earlier is better than no possibility at all. And as I noted earlier, the mystery adds to the fun for the average voter in following the whole process. The next day after the 2004 US election, I went to an online website (found through googling the terms “anti Bush clothing”) and ordered myself a shirt. The shirt had a picture of the White House on it and the words stamped across that in black “Is it 2008 yet?”. Think about it. You can have abuse of the system either way. Whether you have fixed terms or not doesn’t change that. If you like fixed terms, I can accept that. I chose to enjoy the present system 🙂

  32. My thoughts on the senate are simple, in cases of blocked bills, hold a joint sitting followed by a half senate & reps not a double.

  33. Allan Buman who was the hooker for West Rosellas and the Australian Kangaroos in the 60s?

    And I might say the best hooker never to have been picked for a UK and France tour and so strictly speaking he wasn’t a Kangaroo but the credentials for that appelation have been relaxed in recent times.

    He was my coach at University of Newcastle ARLFC in 1970 after he retired at Wests. He was great mates with Johnny Raper who used to come to our bar b ques with his wife and kids one of whom, as students of The Greatest Game will know, was called Aaron which in those days was quite an unusual name here in Oz. So it would not surprise me if Aaron’s name was also adopted by the Bumans.

    Allan was subsequently a publican around rural NSW including a stint at Tumbarumba (where they shoot bloody kanagroos).

  34. # 339 ifonly Says: My thoughts on the senate are simple, in cases of blocked bills, hold a joint sitting followed by a half senate & reps not a double.

    Good point. With the way the numbers are panning out, there might be a lot of bills go through in this way.

  35. I didn’t know thugby teams take their own hookers with them when they go overseas. Why can’t they just hire local hookers like everyone else does?

  36. [An eight-year term for the Senate is not a problem. NSW and SA get by perfectly fine with such for their Legislative Councils.]

    If we go to fixed terms, it would be better to leave it at 3 years. If politicians push for fixed FOUR year terms, then the average punter will think they are trying to sneak something past them.

    Voters rejected the republic referendum because they couldn’t handle the parliament voting on who became president, even though the proposal was a much more democratic system than we currently have.

    Personally I think four years makes sense, but I think fixed 3 year terms will be easier to sell to the public. No point dooming fixed terms by combining it with the issue of longer terms, it would just muddy the argument, and open it up to attack.

  37. But, ifonly, if there is an impasse between the House and the Senate, shoudn’t all of both of houses be open to the verdict of the people? A hostile Senate would be much more likely to play a spoiling role if they knew that they were only getting a half Senate poll, while still getting a chance at stealing the House and thus the government.

    However, I agree that a joint sitting before any DD could be a good idea. We have too many elections.

    I support semi-fixed four year terms (ie with a mechansiam for an election if a government loses the confidence of the House of Reps), but lengthening the terms brings into question Senate terms. Currently these are 6, or two House terms, but with a four year House, do we give Senators 8 year terms? This seems a long time to serve while only winning a single election. The alternative might be that all of both Houses is up for election each time. I think this was the Hawke government proposal at the 1988 referendum.

    It’s clear, however, that Australia needs a bit of an overhaul of our governing infrastructure. We have too many governments and we have too many elections. The problem is, changing the constitutional furniture in this country is not easy. Only about 6 or 7 referenda have been passed out of about 43 put (I’m sure someone will correct me on those figures), and it’s pretty easy to shoot down a referendum – it probably seems like a painless way to kick the government for most people.

  38. Chris Curtis at 320 – I think we will have to agree to disagree. Under our constitutional system the lower house is expected to be the more powerful house as it represents the people (constitutionally) and this is evidenced by it alone having the power to raise money bills.

    I think fixed terms are fine but they have issues in our system that need to be resolved. I agree the ALP needs to get over 1975, the people “decided” that a Senate can block supply and get rid of a government with confidence in the lower house.

    I like the idea though of the constitution providing for joint sittings to decide disputes between houses, but it could disempower the senate for ever in the way the house of lords has really been disempowered.

  39. in regards to the amendments to the constitution, the VAST majority were defeated soley because they did not get the 50% of the people’s vote.

    It is a furphy that the double-majority rule has worked against changing the constitution.

  40. 1) Ackerman sez elesewhere:

    As a seat-by-seat analysis in the Financial Review on Friday demonstrated, Labor still has its work cut out mustering enough seats to win government.

    Has anyone else read this article?

    2) Hugo sez:

    We have too many governments and we have too many elections.

    As pointed out on one of those TV discussion shows (on ABC or SBS) recently we are not actually overgoverned when compared to most western democracies.

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