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”

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  1. Howard is like Prof. Farnsworth from Futurama – “If I’m going down, I’m taking you all with me!”

    With Julie Bishop probably off to state politics, Abbot unelectable, Turnbull too “liberal” and Chicken Man too weak, who will be left standing after the election?

  2. They reckon they lead in EDEN-MONARO and some other marginals and can pick up a Labor marginal. Given the year long indication that there is a genuine large swing against the Govt I find the claim fairly suspicious. I doubt Liberal party members believed it either, unless they are dolts.

    Unless the Govt have decided to ‘buy’ themselves a nice poll of friendly electorates I suspect Howard will go to the GG to call an election this weekend, before the next poll.

    There is no possible way the next poll can be a happy one for the Govt as there is no reason that anyone would have jumped back en mass to them. We would have to be looking at anything between 55 to 59 TPP. Anything less would be error. AND if the frenzy of the betting market is any indication there are lots of people out there paying attention. Thus it is possible, unlikely, but possible we get a brief 60/40.

  3. After the events of the last week the Liberal party should be called “Howard’s Cowards”.

    Well if the Rodent’s party can’t get rid of a leader well past his use by date, then the voters – especially those in Bennelong – surely will!


    Not one to allow the real world of the punters out in voter land to get in the way of a good story, Shanahan offers this to The Australian readership today–

    “Howard now concedes that he will go to the next term without at commitment to serve as Prime Minister through that term…This decision promotes Costello’s undoubted strength’s, and leaves Howard as the tactical leader in this election..Perhaps Costello, is, after all, Howards rabbit out of the hat”.

    From where I live,

    (1) The retirement promise {core on non core or…Im confused, maybe ‘aspirational’} of Mr Howard to retire MIGHT satisy those who simply want to see the back of JWH and don’t care about anything else. On the other hand, it MIGHT also put off those 22% who said they are les s likely to vote for the Coalition if Peter Costello is going to be the PM.

    (2) What “undoubted strengths” ? A good economic record, fine kudos to him for that [though some might argue a drovers dog could have produced the economic results we are now enjoying], but Costello is about as popular with the general electorate as Paul Keating was in the months leading up to the 1996 election- People actually ‘hate’ this man and loathe him more than they do JWH because he has that Keating like smug, arrogance dismissive smirk. I wouldnt want this kind of ‘undoubted strength’ on my CV.

    (3) Howard now the ‘tactical leader’ in the campaign ? Give me a break. Election campaign 101 says You must have a united party, you must not have dissaray and leaks and open dissent and in fighting and back stabbing and ongoing speculation about a leadership spill, and especially not 2-3 weeks out from calling the next election. Dohhh. Tactical leader, HA HA. Very funny Shanners.

    (4) Rabbit out of the Hat. More like spare head out of the hat. I can’t think of a time in the 30 years Ive been called to vote having the leader of a party telling me he won’t be hanging around to serve out the full term. I dont think the electorate are going to be overly keen on that idea because they want a leader, not a retiree.

    RUPERT: I am an Executive 1 level public servant. Does that make me unemployed or underemployed or ….You really have totally discredited anything you have to say here with that slight against people. Bloody Tory, wake up man, this is 2007.

  5. PS: All Government departments have had the word come down from above to go into what we like to call ‘maintenance mode’ [pre election] as of next Monday. Towit, the election is likely to be called within 14 days thereafter unless something significant changes the landscape.

  6. Am I the only one that doesn’t see any sense in John Howard saying he’ll resign part way through the next term? It’s true some people may be thinking Howard’s time is up… but having confirmed that it is people will now look at the alternatives. Costello? No thanks!

    For what it’s worth I’ve also received a fairly good indication from a few sources that the election will be called sooner rather than later. However that all occurred before the leadership fiasco so I suspect that may have changed.

  7. Piers is starting to go off the deep-end. This is his latest on Julia Gillard – “The establishment of a Marxist state by an extreme and committed Leftist it is”

    And what’s with the Yoda-like syntax?

  8. Also re the Howard announcement that he’ll retire mid-way through the next term:

    Why should the people of Bennelong elect a person who’s confirmed they won’t serve a full term? May as well elect Maxine now rather than at a by-election.

  9. Re (1),

    “With Julie Bishop probably off to state politics, Abbot unelectable, Turnbull too “liberal” and Chicken Man too weak, who will be left standing after the election?”

    Howard and company are certainly following the examples set by their state liberal counterparts. They have read the “how to dismantle our party” book and have followed it to the letter so far.

  10. “Perhaps Costello, is, after all, Howards rabbit out of the hat”.

    The hats empty, he’s pulling stuff out of his a*se and has pulled out a turd.

  11. The Kevin Rudd Housing Address is to be given at the Q Theatre at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. It’s at 9.45 am on Saturday morning but admission is by a RSVP list only. Maybe gather outside and give Kevin a cheer.

  12. Hockey called Howard the “Don Bradman” of Australian politics on AM.

    Everyone knows Bradman made a “duck” in his last innings.

  13. About 42-43% will vote for the Coalition not matter what, as we have seen at the state level at the Beattie and Bracks landslides. Perhaps the issue now is whether the Coalition can claw back another 3%, that would the difference between a bad defeat and a total wipeout.

  14. Perhaps the biggest loser out of the election will be the supposed reputation of Crosby/Textor. There’s a huge disparity between their polling(which is what I presume was mentioned yesterday by Howard in the partyroom) and what the betting markets are telling us about the situation in marginal seats.
    Shanahan will always be a card carrying Howard lover, Ackerman too: leopards don’t change their spots.
    What could be interesting is what Andrew Bolt says next.

  15. Geoff Robinson (17), I’d imagine the Libs would kill for those numbers now – the high 30s are much more likely for a Coalition primary vote, and even as 2PP 43% looks rather optimistic at this point. But agree with you that that is what the choice is for Libs now – “the difference between a bad defeat and a total wipeout”.

  16. “The next Newspoll will be absolutely crucial for determining the momentum of the campaign.”

    Doesn’t it seem we’re always saying this? 🙂

  17. [Doesn’t it seem we’re always saying this?]

    Of course, but each Newspoll Night (to quote Madman Shannahan) is closer to the date. And this one will be painted as a litmus test for whether the Costello-to-lead promise is a plus or a fizzer.

  18. “I am an Executive 1 level public servant. Does that make me unemployed or underemployed or …”

    Just the type of “labor fatcat” to enjoy a bloated public service, and to sip and suck on the blood of taxpayers.

  19. When the Democrats descended into turmoil, their vote fled to the Liberals and the Greens. Howard always used it as an example of “disunity is death”. Hopefully this disunity in the Liberals will cause some of its vote to flee to the Democrats. Lyn Allison may not have a huge profile, but no-one could argue the Democrats haven’t had leadership stability for the last 3 years…

  20. Rupert, you’re making a fool of yourself!
    Personal attacks on other posters aren’t allowed here! Why not stick to debating political issues? I welcome some conservative voices here, but not those who use personal denigration as a weapon of attack.

  21. It’s highly probable that John Howard will now call the election before the next Newspoll just to pre-empt another leadership move.
    If that Newspoll is anywhere near as bad as the last one then the move will be on again. I can’t see anything that would cause it to move in for the Coalition. If it did it might well be anomalous.
    Radio chatter is that it was a very bad move to declare that you want to be re-elected in order to resign.
    John Howard says he has things to do in the next year or two. What are they? Why hasn’t he already done them? He’s had plenty of time.
    They are going to have a brainstorm at five minutes to midnight to see what goodies they can tempt the electorate with.
    Peter Costello has laid down a plan of sorts. John Howard hasn’t.
    Is he going to cobble together a few ideas in order to justify clinging to power?
    Peter Costello’s camp will have to move fast if they want to give their guy a chance.
    Malcolm Turnbull meanwhile is wondering what is the best thing he can do to just save his seat. Well Malcolm, reject the pulp mill for a start. It ain’t going to work. It’s a giant lemon. ANZ Bank may make the decision for you.

  22. dembo, unfortunately the Democrats are history. I’ve been considering giving them my Senate vote this election because I’ve lost faith in the Greens. However, in my opinion Allison is by far the worst of the remaining Democrats.

  23. Howard has announced he will retire before the full term. So what will that do to his prospects in Bennelong? When’s the next poll for that seat?

  24. Hey guys, I think Rupert may be taking the p*ss, stirring the possum,etc.Just sit back and have a chuckle.
    Of course, if he’s serious just laugh!

  25. Rob: It’s not the retiring as PM is the issue, did you see how he answered the question from KO about how it would affect Bennelong, he umm’d and er’ed over it. He wasn’t ready for that question and it looked like he was already writing himself off. He didn’t commit to a full term as their local member, so it will solidify some of the votes against him.

  26. CTEP: I lost faith in the Dems after Natasha stood down as leader. Now that she is leaving politics means I have no reason to vote for them. The gave us the GST we had to have, and since then they’ve been losing support.

  27. Has anyone taken note of the Morgan Senate Poll figures?

    Andrew Bartlett has a discussion on his blog and Malcolm Mackerras was discussing the implications for the ACT in the canberra times this morning.

    I know everyone is wary about Senate voting intention polls but this one seems to have a fair degree of plausibility to the numbers.

  28. Howard Hater says:
    “(if the next round of polling) shows anything more than a 20 point lead for Labor, mutterings against the Rodent will start again.”


    This time Howard won’t have to send Dolly out to do the rounds. I reckon the backbench will turn-up in his office armed with pitchforks and burning torches.

  29. I again agree, Howard must call an election before monday and, if he is worried about Morgan, on Friday morning. Another terrible poll will leave him vulnerable to a feeding frenzy of rats.

    I think Keating said that Howard was dead and that no one had the courage to cut down the corpse?

  30. All the poll data and rumors of internal polls does not quite add up right now.

    At the moment we have about a 10% national swing to the ALP.

    WA – around 6 to 7% based on recent west poll
    Vic marginals about 6 to 7% based on rumors of ALP polling
    Eden-Monaro – less than 4% (if you believe Libs internal polling)

    If the overall swings is running at 10% and the are significant parts of the country with swings a lot less. The means either the national numbers are overstated or there are some very scary anti-coalition swings out there right now.

    Where are they? – well its unlikely to be in safe ALP seats as the pool of non-ALP voters is not big enough to generate such swings.

    The most likely explaination is that, right now, there are double digit swings in “safe” liberal seats, particularily in NSW, but VIC and SA as well.

    If I was a Liberal strategist this is where I’d be digging the trenches.

  31. #2 Kina, take a look at this. The link can be found courtesy of Aristotle (Movements at the station:episode 2 comment #144). You need to pick Canberra and then click for more news headlines.

    This was reported on 11/9.

    *Eden Monara 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.

  32. Doug the problem with any Senate poll, even disregarding the high Democrats vote, is that the party politics based on preference deals play such a huge part in the last senator to be elected.

    You just have to look at Victoria last election to see that. FF got less of the vote than the Greens and the DLP (!) and only fractionally more than the Democrats yet still got a senator elected.

  33. well well well

    “tis a tangled web we weave when we set out to deceive”

    as i stated back in feb/march and being now both an ex liberal and personally affected by WORSTCHOICES (mrs gusface) i finally feel vindicated by my early and consistent predictions of a landslide to labor and a reshaping of the elctoral consciousness as issues such as the destruction of the social fabric,increasing imbalance between rich and poor,total stripping of workers rights etc etc etc

    Mr John Howard you have failed not just slightly but totally

    to my fellow aussies one and all -thank you for finally waking up to this destroyer of our society

    to my fellow (ex) liberals- please look around you .Is the society you see around what you australia should be,serach your soul and im sure you’ll see that a fundamental uturn is neede before we end up in the abyss

    i look forward to the advent of the rudd labor Gvt. and a return to the values that made us such a great place to live

  34. Doug, it doesn’t look too good for the ALP, at Barlett’s count Labor will need the support of the Greens, or Greens + Dems or FF. They have a low WA and QLD vote. Given the final spots in the ballots are very much wildcards, it could mean that if there is a Labor landslide in the HoR there could be a hostile Senate. This could mean a double dissolution could in be order.

  35. It is fascinating to watch The Rodent, master of the wedge, completely wedging himself at the worst possible time. An implosion of incredible proportions, to be sure.

    He MUST call an election before next Tuesday because, if he doesn’t, the next Newspoll results will see him out on his arse before the end of next week. At the same time, he still hasn’t got candidates sorted for ten or more seats. How does a man credited with such acute political acumen fall apart so comprehensively? It is a wonder.

    I always knew the chickens would come home to roost one day…but I had no idea the flock would descend in such beautiful numbers.

    Stand by for November 3rd.

  36. Will @ 45 – there is no way Rudd will call a DD after hankering for the big chair for ten years. If there is a landslide in the lower house but still a hostile Senate, Rudd will be able to claim a very strong mandate for legislative change. And if the Senate gets antsy, I doubt the electorate will take kindly to those who are blocking bills come the next half senate election.

    It’s win-win for the Ruddmeister.

  37. The tension was palpable, in fact, it threatened to break the old weather-worn wheel. Both Petulant Pete and Captain Hamster were steering the ship together, white knuckled and grimacing in a way that vaguely resembled smiles.

    Tubby read the pair the day’s telegram, “Leadership issue resolved STOP Both Captain Hamster and Petulant Pete look to share the helm for the rest of the journey STOP Bickering and in-fighting must STOP”.

    The newpole still hadn’t arrived but some of the sailors doubted that even a good one would get the ship on the right course. The rain was still heavy and the sun, whilst visible off the bow was still a long way off and there was no sign of land.

    The crew longed for the days when the weather was calmer, the rum flowed and on the rare occasions they set foot on real earth, they could spend like, well, drunken sailors and tell stories about Mad Captain Biff. The seas were safe then, like the forests, they reminisced.

  38. So ACT and NT Senators take their positions at the same time as the HoR? So if Labor or a minor party picks up a territory seat the Senate will not be controlled by the Coalition?

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