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. Meanwhile in Japan.,21598,22405902-5005361,00.html

    [JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced his resignation.

    The announcement ended Mr Abe’s year-old government which has suffered a string of damaging scandals and a humiliating electoral defeat.

    “Japan needs a new leader to fight against terrorism,” Mr Abe said in a nationally televised news conference.

    “The people need a leader whom they can support and trust.”

    “I have decided to step down from the prime minister’s position,” he said.]

    Libs take note 🙂

  2. Costello must be fed up, he knows they are now going through the motions and that he will never by PM. If he has had a gutfull of Howard and his sycophants he might just retire. Early.

    One or two more bad polls might fulsh out a few more late retirements. Howard better get to the GG quick.

  3. I thought Wilson Tuckey was retiring at this election. Obviously I’m wrong about that one.
    Yes, my good friends, the odds on the Portland betting sight are getting very interesting. All the money is flowing to Labor.
    So McEwen is now a chance for Labor? Fran Bailey has been an awful Tourism Minister, responsible for “Where the bloody hell are you?”.
    That debacle ought to be enough to blast her out.

  4. Kina, no way will any of the Rodent’s front bench go before the election…with the possible exception of the Rodent himself if the polls blow out further. But after the election…watch out and avoid the stampede.

    Downer, Costello, Ruddock, Nelson…even Turnbull…If they manage to hold their seats, they’ll be out of there like rats from a burning building… bringing on unwelcome by-elections and even more aprobrium.

    Hoo hah!

  5. If federal liberal ship does sink it should do so with Howard at the helm. It would provided both side of politics the closure they need. The Libs to see what they have become, the ALP a cathartic release from the wilderness.

  6. It’s too late to soften WC and it’s a dead issue anyhow. People have made up their minds on that.

    Who’s making the Government’s strategic decisions?!

  7. Regarding the outlook for the next Morgan or Newspoll, there is no reason to think that the last ones were the low water mark for the Liberals. The most recent coalition primary votes were 34.5% (Morgan) and 37% (Newspoll). It is likely these will show a decline….maybe:

    Primary Preferences
    Coalition 33
    ALP 54
    Other/Undecided 13

    Allocate the Other/Undecided and the result will be a 2PP coalition vote around 38-39%.

    This would represent a swing to Labor of about 14% since the last poll, or about double the biggest swing at any federal poll since 1966. This sounds improbable, but then again this whole situation is improbable….

  8. Over at the Orstrahyun and as reported by Crikey, there is some suggestion that Janet Albrechtsen wrote her “Howard must go” article last week in the Government Gazette (i.e., The Australian, for those who aren’t aware) as part of a “game” of leadership speculation to ultimately project Howard as a strong leader:

    “She is a propaganda outlet for John Howard, and has been a key player in the current game of “Howard Must Quit”/”Howard Must Stay” that has dominated political media coverage for the past eight days. The Game that is meant to show just how tough and resilient Howard can be, and how ready he is for the Big Fight in the coming election. And it all took place just when Howard needed it the most, when he is absolutely tanking in the polls.”

    Well, most of us already knew that Albrechtsen was a propaganda outlet for the Liberal Party, but it raises a few questions.

    Howard’s pollsters have been telling him that he needs to pick fights in order to bolster his strong leadership credentials. After failing to pick a winning fight with Rudd and then again with the Labor states, did he finally resort to picking a fight with his own party?

    When Howard ordered Downer to go and stir the pot over the question of his leadership, is it possible that he already knew where it was all going to lead? With everything built up to look as if it was against him, including his own party and the commentariat, maybe Howard always planned to create a storm so that he could emerge as a victor when the dust settled and therefore appear as some kind of invincible hero.

    Apparently Howard knew about Albrechtsen’s article even before she wrote it:

    “Albrechtsen … actually tipped off the key players in the Howard government, and Howard himself, before she ‘dared’ to say it was time for him to go. Before she even typed the words.”

    I don’t usually go for the conspiracy theory as a first resort, but knowing Howard and his tendency for having layers upon layers of ulterior motives in just about everything he says and does, it has to make you wonder. It is also possible that even if Howard had intended some kind of fight with his own party, how it actually played out may not have been entirely intended. Or maybe it was… maybe in this ever so presidential election, Howard thinks that a stronger looking leader is worth much more than a strong looking party.

  9. I concur with alpal at 88 (although hadnt been told about Deakin).

    That 56/57 is becoming the magic number – a lot of seats seem to be pulling into and settling down at that range, which happens to be about the national level to boot.

  10. Anything to do with leadership and leadership challenges is to unpredictable to try and control. I don’t think it was staged.

  11. Portland update

    Another Victorian seat has just crossed over to Labor. The seat of La Trobe now has ALP candidate Rodney Cocks a slight favourite ($1.80) over incumbent Jason Wood ($1.87). ‘Any Other’ is currently $101.

    This takes Labor out to favouritism in 78 seats in PortlandBet’s historic all-seat markets, with the Coalition now fave in 70. Independents Bob Katter and Tony Windsor can sit back and watch the frenzy, as the tide continues to flow out on the Coalition.

  12. Your obsession will the betting market should be satisfied by the Melbourne Cup, and Spring racing carnival.

    This election race has a long way to go, it is longer than the Melbourne Cup, and the odds will continue to move backwards and forwards until election night.

    Don’t count your winnings just yet.

  13. Why does everyone keep going on about the so-called “soft” Labor support? The implication seems to be that all the waverers are currently wavering towards Labor and they will inevitably go back to the Coalition. The way I see it, the polls have barely moved in a year, which seems to me to indicate that the support is firming up, not the other way around. Indeed, I would argue that on the occasions that the polls have moved back towards the Coalition, that has been indicative of the level of “soft” Coalition support.

    Make no mistake; much of the 2004 result was down to the anti-Latham factor. John Howard was already on the nose with many people and ALP policies struck a chord; however, they just couldn’t go with Latham as PM. Talk to any of these 2004 “soft” Liberal voters and they will tell you the same thing – it was Latham that freaked them out. But the minute that Labor elected a good leader, these people swung back to Labor and swung hard. These votes aren’t going anywhere.

    Election night will see the ALP TPP vote at between 56 and 59 percent; in short, a rout.

  14. Rupert I presume you weren’t one of the Coalition supporters who was asking everyone to ignore the polls and look at the ‘smart money’ when the polls were showing a Labor win but the betting markets were showing a Coalition win?

  15. Noocat,
    interesting theory – buggered if i know whether its true – but if it is, there is one thing wrong with it – Howard isn’t playing the part very well. Maybe it’s just me, but he seems tired and a bit scatter-brained after all the tension and speculation.
    Someone told me that Howard volunteered a clarification on his remarks from yesterday – on abc radio, he went out of his way, without being asked, to clarify that his statement about never walking away from a fight was a reference to the election battle and nothing else – shabby communication if you ask me.
    He doesn’t look strong to me – he looks like he’s scraped through to retain the leadership, primarily through the cowardice of his colleagues.

  16. There is no way it was staged. The best thing for the Libs would have been absolutely nothing to do with leadership being within a mile of the media. The absolute worst thing for them was leadership issues being all over the front page.

    They got the latter.

    No conspiracy, just idiocy. When will people stop making the “cunning” one out to be some kind of Wizard of Oz genius who pulls all the levers to stage manage things? If you believe that, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  17. If Janet did stage it (which I doubt), then she is going to be in the firing line after the election, with possible breach of ABC policies and that. Of course Howard won’t do it, because they’re in bed together. I will look forward to seeing all the ‘public servant’ rats scatter after the election.

  18. “105
    Howard Hater Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I thought Wilson Tuckey was retiring at this election.”

    Wilson wants to take on Billy Hughes record. He has only passed the half way mark (27 years). You thought Howard was tough to remove.

  19. “An uneasy calm has apparently settled over the Liberal leadership issue”

    Seems so, William. The loyal treasurer’s post party-meet radio grab exuded all the unctious enthusiasm of an aspirationalist undertaker. The well-rehearsed Churchillian number that “Old” Winston delivered at the media lectern yesterday(steady stare to the right, slowly paced measured words) has given dissenters time to chill out.

    “Some of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims escaped momentarily from the fridge!

    Amazingly, they appear to have climbed back in again!

    Co-dependency is a truly tragic and almost incurable condition.”

    (quote from Katz on current LP thread)

  20. Noocat, I think Albrechtsen is a Liberal party supporter first, a Howard supporter second. She would rather the problem was Howard than the real problem, the Liberal party itself (proven by the fact that it cannot replace Howard).

  21. If it was staged it was a bad move as obviously lots of people took notice then promptly went on a betting market frenzy.

    How badly does Costello want revenge on Howard? His carreer is done, no more, a dead parrot and he is looking silly for it. The perfect revenge would be to retire 2 weeks before the election. The stuff dreams are made of.

    I am also somewhat concerned that the govt in its desperation might go beyond what is legal to sink Rudd and Labor.

  22. [I am also somewhat concerned that the govt in its desperation might go beyond what is legal to sink Rudd and Labor.]

    I have thought this also a number of times. I’m just glad that we have nowhere near the same population as the US: makes it harder to fudge numbers.

  23. The only thing it’s done is completely stalled the Liberal Party’s re-election strategy. It’ll take them another day or two at least to get rolling again.

  24. I am also somewhat concerned that the govt in its desperation might go beyond what is legal to sink Rudd and Labor.

    If they got caught doing that, then they would be lucky to get 20% 2PP.

  25. Stand on your record…and oh and that’s right, talk about the great team we have and our plan for the future.

    And what plan was that?

    We’ll get back to you on that (nevermind the previous 11 years they’ve had to work this up).

  26. 133
    Call the election please Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 4:28 pm
    The only thing it’s done is completely stalled the Liberal Party’s re-election strategy. It’ll take them another day or two at least to get rolling again.

    Isn’t going to happen, Morgan is out on Friday ;-D

  27. Piping Shrike… my idea is that their current strategy is pointing at Labor’s front bench, the composition of union members and repeating the phrase that “Australia is heading in the right direction”.

    I’m assuming this is what their focus groups have told them to do. My bet is that the election campaign will be heavily focused on unravelling Rudd’s front bench, getting the media to target them and try and unnerve them etc. Running ads on the front bench, whether they’re from a union, etc. etc.

    I also imagine they’ll run a highly negative campaign on Julia Gillard.

  28. Noocat,

    Maybe the leadership speculation was staged to enable Howard to demonstrate his strength in the face of adversity. But if it was a stunt -it certainly got out of hand. A lot of people have now declared that Howard should resign. These opinions will follow Howard all the way through the campain.

    Coalition odds just prior to the Newspoll that scared the horses:
    $2.73. Right now – $3.30 (betfair)

    I think we can conclude its been a bad week – and APEC was supposed to be the springboard 🙂

  29. I thought I saw somewhere a poll that Unions were a non-issue and that about 80% thought that unions had a role to play in society.

    The union scare doesn’t play that well simply because they have been mostly quiet for a long time. They tend to be a bit like the police, dont want them running your life but nice to know they are there.

  30. Piping at 135

    “[The only thing it’s done is completely stalled the Liberal Party’s re-election strategy.]

    Remind me, what was that again?”

    The answer is to be found in the kids flick Madagascar:

    “If you have any poo, fling it now” 🙂

  31. Anyone notice Crean’s questions re horse ‘flu, seems like this may have some legs. Despite the inquiry designed to hide things.

    Seems the minister allowed horses to be moved and AQIS staff did not follow proper protocols.

  32. 139: “I also imagine they’ll run a highly negative campaign on Julia Gillard.”

    I hear she’s deliberately barren. And a bloodnut.

  33. Yes Kina… but the Coalition have nothing left to run on. The C/T report shows that. They’re running on it from a perspective of “Labor is beholden to sectional interests”

    I’m not saying it’s a good strategy. I just think that’s what they’re trying. When that flops they’ll try something else. We’ve seen many many different strategies already this year.

  34. Call the election please: I think the ‘team thing’ is looking a bit more difficult now, because Howard has made such a big deal of staring down his party and making out that he is running the show. In fact Abbott could be right, he is probably more popular than the party. I also think the Labor team’s profile is so low that I can’t see it will make much impact.

    But it would certainly be a better idea than their apparent new turn to start talking about the future more. A big mistake. The only thing they have is fear of the future.

  35. Yes, discussion about “the future” is the new black. Textor must have had all his neurons firing at once to have thought that one up.

    His genius knows no bounds!

  36. It’s pretty clear that Howard’s new strategy is to “talk more about the future,” but they don’t seem to be able to stick to it. All i heard in QT was a bunch of stuff about cementing prosperity, whetever that means.
    Each time i heard that, it was followed by references to the previous Labor Government etc etc…it’s the same old stuff and they don’t even see it – these guys are like a broken record…out-of-date, useless and redundant in the face of a more popular, newer option.

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