Movement at the station: episode two

An uneasy calm has apparently settled over the Liberal leadership issue – at least until next week’s Newspoll which, as Adam Carr sagely observes, is just as likely to start the ball rolling all over again. An election announcement in the interim would seem to be the only escape, but the Prime Minister has ruled this out. Comments thread denizens are invited to keep the discussion ticking over on this all-new thread.

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.

438 comments on “Movement at the station: episode two”

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  1. In Question Time it sounds like Howard wishes the opposition leader was Ben Chiefly or John Curtin.

    Sadly for him, the opposition leader is Kevin Rudd.

  2. QT is off and running :):) … first question off of the bat, Rudd asks Howard to commit himself to a full term if he was reelected. Howard refused to answer it. What a bunch of losers ………..

  3. Howard should just say “yes I intend to serve the full term”. It wouldn’t really matter if he broke that promise. Such a statement may piss Costello off, but it isn’t like he would do anything about it, he’s too gutless.

  4. The Nats are surprisingly quiet. I mean they’d be going down with a sinking ship and they have nothing to say, and doesn’t seem to have put pressure on the Libs to sort themselves out.

  5. Does anyone think that Howard will call an election before next week? Could this have been a “condition” for senior ministers to postpone any leadership challenge? After all, the last thing the Libs need is another couple of bad polls. But according to the polls if an election were set for late october, the ALP would win comfortably. The Coalition really need more time to turn the polls around. It’s a tricky situation for the PM: Call the poll and lose, or not call the poll and possibly be dumped from the leadership.

  6. If I was Howard I would do the following:

    1. commit to serving a full term
    2. dismantle a large part of workchoices

    Howard has shown time and again that he’s willing to back down on his principles and beliefs if he thinks they will lose him votes (think global warming, and his IR backdown earlier in the year).

    This guy will do anything it takes and he has no shame.

    I bet in a week or two he says, “sorry, I got it wrong, but now I’m listening to the australian people”, and then waters down workchoices big time.

  7. [Have a look at the stories on at the moment Gave me a bit of a shock intially]

    Me too. Brittney Spears looks terrible in that outfit…

  8. 51 -> [Have a look at the stories on at the moment 🙂 Gave me a bit of a shock intially.]

    “PM tells party he’s stepping down”!


  9. So at Costello’s press conference, he said:
    “This Government is a team and the team is led by John Howard and me.”

    I wonder if anyone in the press gallery feels like causing trouble by asking Howard if he also believes that the government is led by the both of them? His behavior this week certainly doesn’t seem to show he’s interested in sharing at all.

  10. All this reminds me of the polls in Bracksies 2nd election. He one his first by a whisker. The polls for his second were indicating a landslide. But the experts kept dismissing them, saying it would be close. The same sort of infighting took place in the Liberal party, only they were in opposition. Steve won in a landslide. The polls were spot on. In fact using the polls I was able to pick the seats he would win in the lower house, bar one seat. And the exact seats in the upper house. So using the polls as a guide to place your bets in the second last week. Allow for a margin of safety.

  11. 51 -> [Have a look at the stories on at the moment Gave me a bit of a shock intially.]

    I thought you were worried about the Blog site getting sued 🙂

  12. Do the Libs understand that their friend “the most powerful person in the world” (Downer about Bush), is only in that role for 12 months max? Or are they too stupid?

  13. This comes from the WIN Canberra news website.

    Eden Monaro Poll Leak

    An internal poll points to more troubles for the Liberals in Eden-Monaro

    Internal poll results leaked to WIN News show the Liberal Party is set to lose the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro.

    It’s a significant blow for the Coalition – traditionally the seat is won by the candidate whose party goes on to win Government.

    The Liberals Gary Nairn holds the seat by just 3.3 three per cent.

    Internal poll results reveal there’s a 6.9 per cent swing against the party.

    If that remained unchanged at the election, it would give Labor’s Mike Kelly the seat with a margin of 3.6 per cent.

  14. Canning now at $1.95 for ALP. Swan, Stirling and Hasluck also all moving to ALP. WA now looks like a 2-3 seat gain for Labor.

    Seat odds are changing every 10 minutes or so on the Portlandbet site, all moving to ALP.

  15. Re 66:
    I don’t tend to believe any leaked internal polling. I thought there was leaked polling suggesting otherwise as well?

    Re 69:
    No I prefer to aim my expectations lower and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Anything above 55/45 I’ll be happy with!

  16. They’re being very aggressive in QT and that is the right tactic for them. Abbott’s answer on hospitals was actually very good – no-one supposes Abbott is stupid, whatever else they may think of him. Turnbull shot himself in the foot, confirming that he has a lot to learn yet. Downer was his usual silly self.

  17. Ben C, and by my count 20 Coalition seats where the ALP are better than $2.50. All shortening by the looks. Not as much fun as watching the numbers come in on election night, but you know…

  18. Rudd will now demand that Howard state how long he is going to lead the party for – i.e. when is he handling power over to [or being sacked to make way for] . The mind games will be interesting now. The blowflies are starting to gather. The only question is whether the maggots start dropping from the body before or during the election – it is already dead for all intents and purposes.


  19. “Wilson has a very serious Nat candidate running against him back in O’Connor, so he might do well to go home and do some door-knocking.”

    By any chance, do you have any “spies” or other such inside information in the area? Will the National candidate likely outpoll Labor’s 20-year old nominee?

  20. “anyone watchiing QT”

    Yep, and isn’t there a smell of blood and decay wafting about the green seats on the right!?

    (I used to listen to QT on my handmade crystal set in the dying days of both the McMahon and the Whitlam gov’ts. Deja vu.)

  21. [ Abbott’s answer on hospitals was actually very good – no-one supposes Abbott is stupid]

    I don’t think the answer was that good. He claimed how taking over hospitals was such a big, radical and complicated thing to do. This was a great advert for the policy, because voters want big infrastructure changes. They don’t want small incremental policies that don’t really fix things.

  22. “Any bets the next newspoll has tpp with a 6 in front for the ALP”

    I think its unlikely. The 59/41 result appears to be at the upper end of the margin of error with the actually 2pp around 57. Most who would have been put off by the leadership tension would already be in that 57 so I’m not sure it can go much higher.

    The flip side is that I think this weeks events will firm up the “soft” labor support making coaltion improvement more difficult.

  23. Nelson ran the line “having rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein after the September 11th attacks”. Wow.
    Hockey’s now running the UNION BOSSES WILL ROON US ALL line now. Sad.

  24. Labor’s seasoned political operatives in Victoria are very, very confident about Latrobe,Coorangamite, McEwan and Deakin – they are confident, but less so, about picking up Russell Broadbent’s seat of McMillan. He’s been in and out but has a high profile and is respected locally. Private polling in Latrobe over the past two months has the ALP 2pp at a consistent 56/57.

  25. “The flip side is that I think this weeks events will firm up the “soft” labor support making coaltion improvement more difficult.”

    Exactly. It will confirm to those leaning towards Labor that the government is no longer able to govern, if for no reason other than the impression that they cannot even govern themselves properly.

    But there is still a very sizable number of people who look at Howard and the government with rose-coloured glasses. After this week’s events, and being naturally fearful of a change in government, these people will forgive Howard’s lack of vision and his economically and socially reckless policies, and instead focus on the idea that he has won another day. It will confirm in their minds that Howard is a strong leader, and in some bizarre way, it will make them feel safe and secure under his leadership.

    So, as much as Howard’s behaviour and the outcome of the leadership rumbling, is likely to firm up the vote for Labor, it will probably also firm up some of the coalition vote. Howard, as always, will have polarised the community even more, but still in Labor’s favour.

    When Howard finally does go, it really will be like a dark cloud being lifted from this country. And even those who vote for Howard and want Howard to stay, many will eventually come to appreciate that life is better without him.

  26. Karma, I’m sure Dominic Rose is a very talented and dedicated young man, but I can’t imagine he’s going to do very well. Phil Gardiner is a quality candidate, and while I don’t have any local knowledge, I suspect the Nats have data showing that Tuckey has outworn his welcome in O’Connor as he has got older and more eccentric. Country voters can be very unsentimental about long-serving members (see Earle Page).

  27. [many will eventually come to appreciate that life is better without him]

    Such sentiment does tempt fate, Noocat. My intuitive feeling is that Rudd will make a passable Prime Minister but I may be wrong.

  28. Janet Albrechtsen in her column said that the the 96 billion debt since they took office is now zero and I’m sure that I read in Crikey that it was halved. The Govt gives the impression that it’s debt free. Can someone tell me how I can find out exactly what the govt debt is?

  29. CETP-

    I’m with you on the number 6.
    This past 24 hours has been a debacle and, like the earthquake before the tsunami, the full impact hasn’t hit yet – it’s gaining momentum on it’s way.
    How can it be compared with previous elections?: in my lifetime I have no recollection of any federal gov’t being so thoroughly in disarray and looking so incompetent.
    Are we EVER going to have this bloody election?????

  30. Lindsay voter:

    From Crikey:

    Between net and no, a debt-free furphy
    Stephen Mayne writes:

    Peter Costello was back pushing his debt free furphy with gay abandon on the ABC last night. Whilst his budget speech and the budget papers are careful to use the phrase “net debt” the language gets a lot looser in live television exchanges.

    “Now we’ve got no debt,” the Treasurer brazenly told Tony Jones and Kerry O’Brien, as if the $50 billion debt pile described on this page in the budget papers didn’t exist:

    Total Treasury Bond (debt) issuance during 2007-08 will be $5.1 billion, while scheduled maturities during this period, net of Australian Government holdings, are $2.9 billion. As a result, the total stock of Treasury Bonds on issue, net of Australian Government holdings, will be around $49.4 billion as at 30 June 2008 (Chart 5).

    If you’ve ever wondered why the Future Fund is still yet to buy its first non-Telstra share more than three years after it was announced, this little accounting policy in the budget papers provides some insight:

    Financial assets included in net debt reduce temporarily in 2007-08 (Chart 1). The change in the 2007-08 estimate is largely explained by the Future Fund progressively moving its assets out of cash and fixed interest securities, which are included in the calculation of net debt, into equities, which are excluded.

    This brazenly admits to the double counting where the government nets off the Future Fund cash against its outstanding debt and then tries to claim the Future Fund assets are also set aside for unfunded superannuation liabilities. You simply can’t claim both.

    It will be funny hearing Cossie try to explain some day that suddenly we’re in debt again because the Future Fund bought too many shares. Huh!

    Whilst the education endowment is good policy, good politics and makes up for some of the neglect in higher education over the past decade, raiding the Future Fund of $5 billion is clearly irresponsibly policy given that unfunded super liabilities are rising faster than expected.

    The following table shows projected superannuation liabilities have blown out by about $3 billion a year when compared with last year’s budget figures in brackets:

    2006-07: $102.7bn ($99.6bn)
    2007-08: 106.55bn ($103.4bn)
    2008-09: $110.26bn ($106.8bn)
    2009-10: $113.98bn ($110.5bn)
    2010-11: $117.7bn

    The game is no longer about having $120 billion by 2020. The liability will be $117.7 billion by 2011 and this chart shows a horrifying blowout in military super leaving taxpayers with an estimated liability of about $210 billion by 2046.

    In other words, we’re stacking on the military numbers but future generations will have to pay for their world-leading pension schemes. For this reason, the real cost of the Iraq folly is much higher than the government admits.

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