Phoney war dispatches: anti-climax edition

• The Prime Minister tells us we can “rest assured” the current sitting of parliament will proceed to its conclusion, which means no election announcement until at least September 20.

• On Tuesday, Canberra’s WIN Television News reported of an internal poll – apparently from the Liberal Party – which pointed to a Labor win in the renowned bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro. Yesterday, we heard that the Prime Minister had used polling from that very same seat to sell the party room the idea that the election could still be won.

• Labor has been making hay from the Liberals’ apparent lack of preparedness, with candidates still to be chosen in 14 seats including marginal Labor Banks. And can anyone out there solve the mystery of the Liberals’ number three Senate position in Western Australia? This has been a winning prospect at every election since parliament was enlarged in 1984, yet the candidate’s identity is either yet to be decided or a closely guarded secret (UPDATE – It now emerges the candidate is Michaelia Cash, industrial relations lawyer and daughter of state upper house MP George Cash).

• Further Labor pot-stirring in the west, where an ad placed in yesterday’s West Australian raised questions over the political future of Julie Bishop, Education Minister and member for Curtin. The ad referred to “speculation” Bishop would be drafted into state politics to replace floundering Opposition Leader Paul Omodei. This idea was first mooted in the immediate aftermath of the Court government’s defeat in 2001, when Bishop was party to an ill-considered scheme to swap seats with an uncooperative Colin Barnett.

The Mercury reports of a Galaxy poll gauging opinion on the West Tamar pulp mill, conducted on behalf of mill opponents Investors for the Future of Tasmania. It finds 41 per cent opposition from a national sample of 1004, and 21 per cent support. An implausible 64 per cent of the former group said it would affect the way they would vote. The Mercury also speaks of a Wilderness Society poll which found 53 per cent opposition in Bass and 35 per cent support.

• Melbourne election buffs with $66 to spare might like to make note of a seminar being held this evening, Election 2007: Polls, Damned Polls and Democracy!, starting from 6.15pm at the Westgate Room on Level 41 of the Rialto South Tower. Speakers include Nick Economou from Monash University, Gary Morgan of Roy Morgan Research, Tony Douglas of Essential Media Communications and Charles Richardson of Crikey, all brought to you by the Australian Market and Social Research Society,

• Lest anyone think this site’s readership is a representative sample, Sally Jackson of The Australian reports that radio listeners have “turned from news talk to music during the past two months”. Station bosses blame “a heavy news cycle dominated by stories on interest rate rises, the APEC summit and the ‘phony’ federal election campaign”.

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.

440 comments on “Phoney war dispatches: anti-climax edition”

  1. “You ever met Julie Bishop in person? I have several times now and it is really like CSIRO’s Skunk Works were black funded to create a Stepford Minister.”

    Outstanding analogy – This will frame my perception of Bishop from here on.

  2. While on his morning walk, Kevin Rudd falls over, has a heart attack and dies, because the accident and emergency ward at his nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time.

    So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. “Welcome to Heaven,” says Saint Peter, “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem.

    We seldom see Labor people around these parts, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”
    “No problem, just let me in; I’m a good Christian; I’m a believer,” says Kevin.
    “I’d like to just let you in, but I have orders from God Himself.
    He says that since the implementation of his new HEAVEN CHOICES policy, you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven.

    Then you must choose where you’ll live for eternity.”
    “But I’ve already made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,” replies Rudd
    “I’m sorry …but we have our rules,” Peter interjects.
    And, with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The temperature is a perfect 22C degrees. In the distance is a beautiful club-house.

    Standing in front of it is poor old Gough Whitlam and thousands of other Labor and union leaders, who had helped him out over the years — Jim Cairns, Bernie Payne Bob Hawke, Bill Collins, Bill D’Arcy , Paul Keating, Dallas Fraser, Joan Kirner, Peter Beattie, Keith Wright, Chris Brown, Gordon Nuttall, Wayne Goss, all good clean living Labor people. All of the Labor Party leaders and Union Officials were there ….everyone laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed.

    They ran to greet him, to hug him and to reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of ‘suckers and peasants.’

    They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar, even Bernie Payne was having a drink.
    The Devil himself comes up to Rudd with a frosty drink, “Have a Tequila and relax, Kevin!” “Uh, I can’t drink anymore, I took a pledge,” says Rudd dejectedly. “This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry and it just gets better from there!”

    Rudd takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he Thinks is a really very friendly bloke who tells funny jokes, like himself, and pulls hilarious nasty pranks – kind of like the ones Labor pulled with the “Recession we had to have” … “no child will live in poverty”… “Wolfdene Dam “… “no new taxes and low interest rates below 19% ” and promises such as that that were never carried out .

    They are having such a great time that, before he realises it, it’s time to go.
    Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Rudd steps on the elevator and heads upward.
    When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and Saint Peter is waiting for him. “Now it’s time to visit Heaven,” the old man says, opening the gate.

    So for 24 hours Rudd is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other’s company, talk about things other than money and treat each other decently.

    Not a nasty prank or short-arse joke among them. No fancy country clubs here and, while the food tastes great, it’s not caviar or lobster and these people are all poor. He doesn’t see anybody he knows and he isn’t even treated like someone special!

    “Whoa,” he says uncomfortably to himself. “Kim Beazley never prepared me for this!”
    The day done, Saint Peter returns and says, “Well, you’ve spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now you must choose where you want to live for eternity.”

    With the ‘Deal or No Deal’ theme playing softly in the background, Rudd reflects for a minute …then answers: “Well, I would never have thought I’d say this — I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all-but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends.”

    So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell.
    The doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage & toxic industrial wasteland, kind of like the eroded, rabbit and fox affected Australian outback. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the roadside rubbish and putting it into black plastic bags……They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.

    The Devil comes over to Rudd and puts an arm around his shoulder…..”I don’t understand,” stammers a shocked Kevin, “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a club-house and we ate lobster and caviar and drank tequila…..We lazed around and had a great time.

    Now there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!”
    The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly and purrs,……”Yesterday, Kevin, we were campaigning;…Today you voted for us!”

  3. I have deleted my cookies and voted 3 times on it now.

    It’s quite apparent that I have influenced my postcode figures but made no marked change in the electorate figure.

    Which means very few people from my postcode have voted but quite a number from the electorate have.

    Doesn’t indicate any backlash from the “Council Amalgamation” issue which should show up in my electorate.

  4. 367
    Hugo Says:
    I think the next election is in the ACT next year (couldn’t tell you the prospects, but I’m sure someone here will know), followed by WA and Qld in 09, SA, Tas, NT & Vic in 2010…

    The next NT election is due mid-2009.

  5. Pearce (WA):

    7% More LIkely to Vote Coalition
    10% Less ” ” ”
    27% No Change – Coalition Voter
    13% Will Definately Switch from Coalition.
    43% Won’t Vote Coalition Anyway.

    Safe Liberal Seat with Suburban/Rural boundries.

  6. Scorpio,

    In reply to you enquiry regarding the GG poll:

    For my Electoral Division

    70% won’t vote coalition anyway
    11% will definitely switch from coalition
    9% coalition voter
    4% less likely to vote coalition
    6% more like to vote coalition

    As a famous Australian once said – “a beautiful set of numbers”. Pity it was not a scientifically conducted poll.

  7. Scorpio #399

    I put in my work postcode and it showed 55% would vote Labor and 18% would change their vote to Labor. I work in North Sydney. That’s not going to happen.

  8. Ah, but it’s great to see those sort of figures and just dream a little.

    If Howard and Co keep campaigning in a similar vein to what we have been subjected to in recent times, then they might just turn into a horrific nightmare for them and turn out to be prophetic.

  9. I’ve been trying all evening to do the GG poll on my home computer (because I definitely think the graphics are terrific and I want to have another look at all of those sexy pieces coming to together to make a pie) this time using my home postcode, but The F*rt of the Nation doesn’t like Macs. So even if it were possible for the electors of Sydney to vote 326% Labor, the GG won’t let me see it. Damn them!

  10. I wonder if Howard will be keeping the GG within arms reach everytime poll data is about to come out?

    Since the last Morgan phone poll there has been Labors IR laws, Rudd’s APEC confirmations and Howard’s leadership disaster. You would think that should boost Labor by a percent. Something like 61/39 Hard to see any reason for a drift back to the Govt – but I dont know what the general electorate have been paying attention to.

    If Howard is only hanging on to get Menzies record at any cost as has been suggested [AFR?] he will avoid a spill.

    There are a number of tactical errors with the latest ‘joint’ leadership agreement as it seems. If the polls don’t recover or get worse there remains no ‘shock’ treatment left in dumping Howard and bringing in Costello. It is already half done. They may have half strangled that rabbit.

  11. I don’t think you’d want to read anything into that poll; I live in the western section of Stirling, and got over 50% won’t vote Coalition anyway for both the electorate and my postcode (6018 – which includes some pretty Liberal territory, even by WA standards).

  12. Hm. From this piece, on the various web-based election stuff (including the google site launching tomorrow), there’s this:
    “Sources said [the election] was unlikely to be called within the next two weeks, as the Government is expected to launch its $23 million climate change advertising campaign this week and needs time to put it to air. By convention, all government ads are pulled off air once an election is called.”

    So what’s the mechanics of calling an election w.r.t. Parliament sitting? I assume it’s just a convenience thing rather than any other reason? Because if it’s not in the next two weeks, we’re waiting another month…

  13. From the “Well Durrrrrr” section.

    [There is concern from within Coalition ranks about how voters will perceive the prospect of Peter Costello as a potential prime minister.

    Mr Howard’s retirement revelations have put the spotlight on his likely successor, Mr Costello.

    Liberal backbencher Cameron Thompson says he doubts the transition plan will cause a voter backlash, although he concedes that in some sections of the community the Treasurer does have a bit of a perception problem.

    “It’s just simply a function of his role as a treasurer,” he said.

    “It’s never been the kind of job that automatically attracts people, you know, ‘aren’t they great people,’ because of course generally treasurers have to say ‘no’.”

    Mr Thompson says Mr Costello’s image problem could influence votes.

    “Some people will react positively, others may not,” he said.]

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/14/2032469.htm?section=justin

  14. “Sources said [the election] was unlikely to be called within the next two weeks, as the Government is expected to launch its $23 million climate change advertising campaign this week and needs time to put it to air. By convention, all government ads are pulled off air once an election is called.”

    What a dilema for Howard.

    What if he gets 61/39 Friday and a 60/40 Tuesday? Surely he will get rolled? Or will they wait one more week for a 59/41? Howard would know he is dead meat and racing to the GG would be the only thing to save him, maybe. He might have to trash the Climate Change campaign (which Rudd seemed to know all about anyway – so no doubt has a suitable counter already).

  15. The ‘buy our way to stay in power’ campaign has started – http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22415509-11949,00.html

    Also, looks like Costello is going to take land from the defence force and CSIRO and release it for housing. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22409515-11949,00.html

    And meanwhile, the IMF has warned the government about an election-spending spree. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22415536-11949,00.html

    Looks like the campaign is now on, all we need is the actual date, which probably wont be announced until after the 2 week advertising blitz of the governments climate change, with it’s $23m ‘How to be Climate Clever’ campaign.

  16. Another poster somewhere near my vintage mentioned the similarities this year with the last throes of the McMahon Government. There are some eerie parallels, not least between each government stuck in a US foreign war venture and Labor planning to extricate us from it.

    Then, just like the current government, it just fumbled from one crisis to another, and sounded more and more shrill as they fail to land any punches on Labor.

    There were some really bizarre leadership moments which very much match the farce we’ve seen this week. When McMahon got up over Gorton, the Libs thought they could paper over the differences (and salve some of their guilt) by making Gorton deputy. The press corps, perhaps a little shrewder than the Shanahans of today, couldn’t believe they could be that naive. So the feuding and instability continued for a few months longer before Billy finally found an excuse to sack Gorton.

    Here, we see something similar, with Howard trying to buy time as leader while more or less anointing Costello at some time into the next term.

    Really, for us leftists, who’ve had a hard time of it since Tampa, this has been an amazingly joyous year. Just when we think the gap is bound to close, the Libs commit another blunder and things continue with the long lead. I honestly think Strippergate might’ve done most to humanise Rudd, away from that prissy nerdish image.

    And for those like Rupert who think we might have been wanting Howard to get dumped… I can tell you, most of us were hoping he’d hang on. We want him beaten at the polls, not by some panicky MPs.

  17. Don Wigan

    Actually Don, Prime Minister William McMahon started the accelerated withdrawal of Australian troops from South Vietnam…Whitlam merely finished the job ‘big ears’ started…

    Even if Howard loses who in their right minds think Rudd can last 11.5 years as Prime Minister without being knifed in the back by some Union thug or being beaten by the Coalition?

  18. If only the Liberal party had someone with enough guts to knife the defunct and irrelevant Howard. They seem pathetic little chickens. Costello is dreaming if he thinks Howard would ever allow him to be PM. Howard detests Costello and will never let him ‘share’ any of the glory – thats how selfish Howard is.

  19. The opposite applies in Stirling where Labor has recruited a strong candidate in former army officer Peter Tinley to go up against Michael Keenan. Mr Keenan is well regarded but Stirling is a litmus seat and generally falls with Government so he’ll do well to hold it. He maintains a $2.10 to $1.70 lead in betting.

    What a demonstrably false assertion.

    Stirling was captured by the Libs in 1993 and by the ALP in 1998 and 2001. So it’s actually gone as with the defeated party as much as it has the victorious party at recent elections. Some litmus!

  20. [What a demonstrably false assertion.

    Stirling was captured by the Libs in 1993 and by the ALP in 1998 and 2001. So it’s actually gone as with the defeated party as much as it has the victorious party at recent elections. Some litmus!]

    David,

    It’s written by Robert Taylor – a former Media Advisor for the WA Nats and was published in The West – Hardly an objective article 🙂

    Yep, Eoin Cameron was the unlucky person who lost it in 98 to Jann McFarlane.

  21. 389
    Scorpio Says:
    September 13th, 2007 at 11:16 pm
    Still interested in finding out if people have checked their electorates in the GG poll!

    2171 in Werriwa is 52% Labor and 16% coalition. The more likely/less likely is 12/8% respectively. The definetely changing is 13%. That means from a solid of 29% they have lost almost 50% of their base in my electorate with that decision. Apparently, it didn’t play well with the Libs here in the Liverpool area lol ……

  22. From The Age

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/there-are-no-secret-deals/2007/09/13/1189276871832.html

    *quote*

    Mr Costello said he would campaign alongside Mr Howard as often as he could, but said he also had his own 20 or so seats to appear in.

    “The campaign goes for 33 days. The prime minister will have his program and I will have mine,” Mr Costello told Sky News.

    “But during the campaign, yes on key occasions, we will be campaigning together, we will be demonstrating the team because it’s our team that we want to contrast with the Labor team.”

    *end quote*

    This indicates to me (Along with comment above) that the election date has already been decided and will probably be 20 October. Assuming that there is no more equivocation between now and end of the weekend….

  23. 428
    David Walsh Says:
    September 14th, 2007 at 4:50 am
    The opposite applies in Stirling where Labor has recruited a strong candidate in former army officer Peter Tinley to go up against Michael Keenan. Mr Keenan is well regarded but Stirling is a litmus seat and generally falls with Government so he’ll do well to hold it. He maintains a $2.10 to $1.70 lead in betting.

    What a demonstrably false assertion.

    Stirling was captured by the Libs in 1993 and by the ALP in 1998 and 2001. So it’s actually gone as with the defeated party as much as it has the victorious party at recent elections. Some litmus!

    Since it was first created Stirling has been won by the defeated party as often (ten times) as by the victorious party, which if not a record must be close to it. It swung from Labor to Liberal in 1972 when the country was going in the opposite direction. Better described not as a litmus seat but as a maverick seat.

  24. 426
    Glen Says:
    September 14th, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Even if Howard loses who in their right minds think Rudd can last 11.5 years as Prime Minister without being knifed in the back by some Union thug or being beaten by the Coalition?

    The probability that Rudd will last 11.5 years as Prime Minister is low.

    So what? Did you have a point?

  25. Even if Howard loses who in their right minds think Rudd can last 11.5 years as Prime Minister without being knifed in the back by some Union thug or being beaten by the Coalition?

  26. 303
    bmwofoz Says:
    September 13th, 2007 at 8:17 pm
    Today as I was strolling around Collins St, I was thinking of Rupert and him wanting to ban Public Servants from voting and I though what is a Public Servant, meaning where do we draw the line after all if we banned all Public Servants then that means the following wouldn’t vote

    Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, Allied health care Professional, Police, Army personal, Firefighters, Ambos, Public Transport drivers, Builders of Roads, Reserve Bank etc.

    Then what about those whom work for Companies that are State owned but private like Australian Wheat Board or Telstra then what about those whom work for companies that gain Govt contacts.

    Point being where do you draw the line, for I can’t think of an Industry that isn’t directly or indirectly Govt supported.

    Now Rupert may say that he was only referring to those employed directly by Govt, but if Govt didn’t have contracts which needed servicing then who would have a job for the Economy is depending on Govt.

    By the way what do we say to those people whom change jobs from direct Govt to Private are they any more deserving of the Vote.

    Actually ‘public servant’ has a precise legal meaning under the Public Service Act. Most if not all of the people you mention are not public servants under the Public Service Act.

    What this means, however, is that except for technical legal purposes the term is irrelevant. When the Postmaster General’s Department (or the bulk of it) was converted to Australia Post and Telecom, or when the Department of Aviation (or the bulk of it) was converted to the Civil Aviation Authority, exactly the same people doing exactly the same work stopped being ‘public servants’, a change with no significance apart from the legal one.

  27. 324
    Crispy Says:
    September 13th, 2007 at 8:48 pm
    Let’s not get into a slanging match with Rupert. Not a pretty site. (pun intended)

    Rupert you made a point earlier about respect for the Prime Minister. I think we’d all acknowledge the concept of respect for the OFFICE of Prime Minister. To me this means that if he walked into the room suddenly I’d stand to be introduced and shake his hand and make the right polite noises. And if I saw him pressing the flesh in Rowe Street at Eastwood I wouldn’t run up shouting about kids overboard and chuck my half-eaten wonton at him. Just because he’s the PM, and yes, the office commands respect.

    Not from me it doesn’t. The sort of respect you’re talking about I would (probably) give to Howard as a fellow human being, the same way I (probably) would for any other fellow human being. I wouldn’t give him anything extra just because he’s Prime Minister. (And the same goes for any other Prime Minister.)

  28. Hmm, killed my own joke.

    Even if Howard loses who in their right minds think Rudd can last 11.5 years as Prime Minister without being knifed in the back by some Union thug or being beaten by the Coalition?

    So you are saying that Rudd won’t end up leading Labor to a devastating loss that may keep them out of power for a political generation because he held on to personal power too long?

    Excellent!

  29. 344
    Glen Says:
    September 13th, 2007 at 9:18 pm
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/electoral-loss-will-mean-death-of-liberal-party/2007/01/18/1169095905388.html?page=2
    Electoral loss will mean death of Liberal Party

    It is an old article but im sure it will bring many a smile to the Labor voters on this blog…

    It makes me smile because the conclusion is such a ludicrous stretch.

    It’s a product of the need for people to write about dramatic developments for the papers, and if necessary to invent them, because ‘pretty much more of the same old thing’ is not a news story.

    Obviously the Liberal Party will suffer if it loses the election but it won’t fall apart, nor will there be a major realignment of the party system as suggested in that article.

  30. Talking of respect for the office of prime minister (even if it is a little off topic), I am wondering what the correct term of address is given the current arrangement.

    I guess Mr Howard is now a caretaker prime-minister and when he calls the election he will be a caretaker caretaker PM.

    Mr Costello is perhaps not quite a PM in waiting, but is perhaps the adjunct or associate PM or (given his much touted economic credentials) perhaps he would like to be called the surplus PM.

    Roget has many other nice suggestions.

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