Phoney war dispatches: last Question Time edition

It could well be the last Question Time edition …

Dennis Shanahan of The Australian reports that the Prime Minister is “considering calling the election within three weeks”. A return of parliament on October 15 is not ruled out, but is rated “unlikely”.

• The Australian has published Newspoll’s quarterly cumulative polling, broken down into state-by-state and marginal versus non-marginal seats.

• Antony Green’s federal election guide should be in business at the ABC Elections page from around 9am. A new feature will be the election calculator showcased by Antony on Tuesday’s edition of Lateline.

• The ALP hierarchy appears to have pulled the rug from under its candidate for Cowper, John Fitzroy, by reopening nominations for the seat. This decision reflects Labor’s increasing confidence it can overhaul Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker’s 6.6 per cent margin. It is expected the nomination will now go to “local training consultant” Paul Sekfy, who ran in 1993, 1996 and 1998 without cutting the margin below 4.1 per cent. Fitzroy was preselected unopposed in June and, according to The Australian’s Imre Salusinszky, recently quit his job with the local area health service to conduct his campaign.

Eden-Monaro has been the focus of much attention this week. Both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader campaigned in Queanbeyan on Wednesday, where Kevin Rudd proved unable to tell a reporter much about current income tax scales. On the same day, it emerged that Liberal member Gary Nairn’s chief-of-staff Dr Peter Phelps had told Mike Kelly, decorated Iraq war veteran and Labor candidate, that his attitude to his service was that of a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Andrew Fraser of The Australian reports that the parliament’s two non-retiring independents, Kennedy MP Bob Katter and New England MP Tony Windsor, “spelt out their terms in the event of a hung parliament”. Windsor says he will back whichever party wins the most seats or, in the event of a tie, the most votes. Katter will “support the party that promises to mandate 10 per cent ethanol in petrol”. One suspects there will be more than one such party, if that’s what it comes to.

• At the end of what has been a surprisingly good week for the government, the Daily Telegraph has gone in hard against Labor on successive days, running its politics coverage under the banners “Rudd’s bungle” and “Rudd’s meltdown”.

• I’m starting to get those pesky “bandwidth about to be exceeded” emails, so readers of a generous persuasion might like to make use of the the PayPal button on the sidebar. I conservatively estimate it will cost $200 to keep the site going until the end of the month, with further bills to follow towards the end of each month until the election is held. UPDATE: I’ve received more than enough donations to cover any bandwidth requirements for this month (many thanks to all). Anyone who still wants to donate is of course more than welcome to do so, but I should not deceive anyone into thinking that it won’t be going into my pocket.

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.

206 comments on “Phoney war dispatches: last Question Time edition”

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  1. Am I right in saying that if the Australian stats play out at the election we are going to see a spectacular win to Labor? well above the 16 seats required?

    Also, can anyone tell me how the Nationals are doing? whats their prediction? In the NSW election they did extrodinarily well.

  2. I’ve really given up on trying to guess what’s going to happen this election… I still feel an ALP win would be too good to be true and that the nervous nellies in the public will back the Coalition in the end but I know noone wants to believe that here so I’ll leave it.

    William many thanks for this site, as someone who probably spends all too much time here I’ve made a small donation to the upkeep of the site. Of course, now I expect an exclusive members only section to the website with goody-bags galore.

  3. I find it a little odd that 1% of people in the 5 capital cities say they are going to vote for The Nats.

    Are the Nats contesting any city seats?

  4. Good of the Newspoll to publish its quarterly numbers on the day the ABC launches my election calculator. You put in the state by state swings from the Newspoll and you get Labor winning 100 seats and the Coalition 48, and that’s not including any gains in the NT or ACT. It’s just as well for the government that this poll is an improvment on the previous one.

  5. The Newspoll quarterly cumulative polling makes for endlessly fascinating reading. Of particular note is the following breakdown:

    Marginal seats:
    Oct 04 election – Lab 49.3 Coal 50.7
    Jul-Sep 2007 – Lab 58 Coal 42

    Non-marginal government seats:
    Oct 04 election – Lab 37.4 Coal 62.6
    Jul-Sep 2007 – Lab 49 Coal 51

    Non-marginal opposition seats:
    Oct 04 election – Lab 61.9 Coal 38.1
    Jul-Sep 2007 – Lab 69 Coal 31

    What this says is that:
    1. Labor will win most if not all of the marginals ( so anything less than 6%, which is 23 seats).
    2. They might win some of the non-marginal seats as well, given that this is an average margin, including some strong government seats, but it’s still 49-51.
    3. They are highly unlikely to lose any of their own seats.

    On the marginals alone, if these numbers hold, and there’s no reason at the moment to think they won’t, Labor is home. The “non-marginal government seats” will be where the real interest lies. We’re talking Higgins, Kooyong, Mayo, North Sydney and so on.

    Of course there are variations in swings, but in general, this is still a beautiful set of numbers if you’re hoping for an ALP victory. 🙂

  6. The Australian, and in particular Shananananananahan, are really quite awful this morning. Trust me, don’t even bother going there. Even Matt Price has dropped the facade of neutrality and is going on the attack. Thank God we have Fairfax in this country.

  7. I’m sure possum will analyse the results to within an inch of their life. I’ve chipped in a tenner to help with your bandwidth. I would hope that your frequent commenters can better that (especially the ones who frequently go off-topic …)

  8. News Ltd is backing Howard again? What a surprise(rolls eyes).
    Matt Price pretends to be neutral, but he’s a Howard backer all the way!
    Shanahan: predictable as always!
    Editor of the Daily Telegraph is David Pemberthy. I’ve heard him express his views on radio before, he’s a Howard man through and through.
    Despite the pro-Coalition spin put on the Newspoll figures by the Govt. Gazette, these look bad for the Rodent.

  9. By the way, poor John Fitzroy. It doesn’t make much sense to revoke his candidature and hand it to someone who has managed to not win the seat on 3 occasions, or even manage to dent the margin.

    For the sake of it I’ll repeat my call from yesterday. Monica Attard for cowper!

  10. William

    I’d like to chip in towards costs but don’t have grown-up things like PayPal (it scares me). Is there another method – say a bank account or something? Like they do with disaster relief donations.

  11. Howards answer to the housing crisis that the created, one that concerns most Australians and even most liberals.

    “Prime Minister John Howard has told Parliament there is not a housing crisis in Australia. Mr Howard says a true housing crisis is when there is a sustained drop in the value of house prices. In response to a question from Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, he accused Labor MPs of using cheap language to score political points.”

    Next Howard will say there is no water crisis as there is still water in some dams, no skills shortage as we still have universities, no debt crisis as people can still borrow, no climate change crisis as we still have a climate, no health crisis as we still have hospitals etc etc etc.

  12. “another opinion poll has the Coalition closing the gap on Labor” – as heard on ABC local radio in Sydney this morning. Is it possible that the MSM are actually reporting Morgan?

    I too am a bit bemused with the GG’s interpretation of the week. Matt Price is particularly feral this morning – does anyone know if there is anything he is saying about Rudd having already revealed his heart condition on national television, or is Price just blowing smoke up as many orifices as possible?

  13. Labor leading 52:48 in QLD. Wouldn’t that be a 9% swing to Labor from the result in 2004? That’d win Rudd at least a few seats in QLD.
    Typical of the MSM to ignore this fact!

  14. So Matt Price writes an artical critical of Rudd and you lot all start blowing smoke? Bunch of sooks. I think you are all in for a shock on election night too btw and for most of you it wont be a pleasant one.

  15. Anyone else listen to Radio National’s Breakfast Show?
    Fran Kelly and James Carlton are doing their best to prop up Howard.
    All this talk about “Rudd’s Bad Day”.

  16. Bill

    You have to reduce the size of header.jpg which at 146k is twice the “weight” of the rest of a page here at 70k. Getting that down will reduce your bandwidth somewhat.

    Start running Google Ads on each page too.

  17. Newspoll figures are interesting, but aren’t they really just an in-depth split of old figures?

    Rudd is somewhat exposed on tax at the moment, and we’re going to keep hearing that message till he brings out the long-awaited policy.

    The Rudd aorta transplant issue will be a two-day wonder, of course. But the broader question is: what else is there about this bloke that we don’t know about? This is one of the Labor hangovers from Latham – we found out stuff about Latham after the 2004 election that would have made many who voted for him feel a bit uncomfortable. Not suggesting there is anything similar about Rudd, but the simple fact is that a lot of people feel they don’t really know him yet.

    Howard, love him or hate him, is definitely a known quantity. So was Beazley, for that matter.

    I probably wouldn’t say Rudd had a bad week, but he certainly didn’t have a good one.

  18. I’ve been waiting ages for those Newspoll breakdowns, and they’re quite extraordinary. The ozpolitics graph (see #23) makes it clear.

    Even though it looks like there’s been a bit of a swing back to the coalition recently, it’s not enough for a recovery.

    Even WA is showing a four per cent swing. Most of the others are showing ten per cent or more, and the regional swing is the same size as the metro swing, and males are voting the same as females. All very very consistent. I’d be amazed up Howard can find enough new policies to turn the 18-34 vote around. WorkChoices, HECS fees, the rent crisis and first home prices have killed him in this age group.

    The figures bear out what I have said earlier on this site – why is everyone ignoring Victoria? Once you get above a five per cent swing in Vic, there are a string of coalition seats set to fall – even Costello’s (though i’d be surprised if that happened).

    I can’t believe Howard is denying there’s a housing crisis, just because house prices are still going up in most areas? That’s actually one of the reasons for the crisis – too much demand. Only those who’ve paid off their homes are immune from the crisis, and even they will be worried about their kids.

    Howard should take a leaf out of the Beattie book…admit there’s a crisis and promise to try and fix it. And good luck to him.

  19. David Penberthy is funny. I remember him being the editor of On Dit (the Adelaide Uni student newspaper) and affecting disdain for all sorts of politicians.

    The fact that he had to run for election to be editor of On Dit didn’t stop him despising people who stand for election.

    How quickly a cynic becomes a reactionary!

  20. Pembo was a leftie at Adelaide Uni – and then the PC brigade jumped on him over a typical Pembo joke and dragged him before their Humourlesness Tribunal.

    (And, yes, he is funny. He’s a great guy.)

  21. Marco @20

    [So Matt Price writes an artical critical of Rudd and you lot all start blowing smoke? Bunch of sooks. I think you are all in for a shock on election night too btw and for most of you it wont be a pleasant one.]

    Hear hear! Lots of soft clowns on this site. Burst into tears at one bad week, one bad article. Claims of conspiracies. Incredibly soft. Especially coming from folk who hide behind their keyboard and howl down Howard and anyone who doesn’t fall in behind Labor.

    What’s more, the vilification of Howard is not even witty or intelligent from people on this site. A significant number of people here are a cross between bully boys on the one hand, and soft clowns on the other. Can dish it out and make big heros of themselves with their keyboard, but claim conspiracy and burst into tears when things go against them. boo hoo. boo hoo.

  22. With thy lying rodent not getting sufficient traction in the polls he and his cronies will start to fight like shit house rats, so expect the dirt and the shit sheets to flow.
    The $64 question is whether the type of campaigning/belligerence, already foreshadowed by the government attack dogs and dirt unit, will be a plus or minus.
    Most polls have female voters as less rusted on or undecided about Rudd/Howard and most anecdotal evidence is that women generally do not respond favorably to aggression and negative campaigning.
    The type of aggression displayed in parliament yesterday probably only reinforces strongly held positions of either persuasion and would have more to do with salving the inflated egos of politicians who believe the punters are impressed by their puerile undergraduate debating skills.

  23. Rowan says

    Also, can anyone tell me how the Nationals are doing? whats their prediction? In the NSW election they did extrodinarily well.

    Was the irony intended?
    In 2007 NSW State elections the Nats won 13 seats. This was their equal second lowest number of seats won in a NSW State election since 1944. The lowest in this period was 12 seats in 2003.
    NSW historical election results (compiled by Antony Green and associates) can be found at here.

  24. A bad week for Labor. Give me a break! The Newspoll quarterly consolidations show Labor winning around 100 seats. But no wonder the Libs are sleep walking in to oblivion if they are believing the bull dust being distributed by their house trained journos at the GG and elsewhere.

    When you realise the chasm between the reality of the figures and the pro Governmnent fairy floss being spun, you will begin to understand that personal attacks on Rudd and ALP supporters just ain’t gonna cut it!

    But hey, knock yourself out.

  25. To me, the Newspoll quarterly figures seem absolutely bizarre. If you have a look at the charts over at OzPolitics, Labor has actually slightly increased its lead during the last quarter in the capital cities, but has dropped off significantly in regional areas.

    I’m sure there are plenty of potential explanations for this (council amalgamations, etc), but such a discrepancy just seems a little fishy to me.

  26. I just looked at the fine print on this mornings Newspoll and their is a huge difference in the sampling rate between coalition (2600), marginal (1800) and Labour(1300) seats. Does any one know the reason for this and the implications for MOE between the significantly different sample sizes ?

  27. I am furious (though not surprised) at Shanahan’s attempted spinning of this poor result. I thought he would have learnt from the whole preferred PM fiasco.

    The marginals are at 58/42 for Labor.

  28. ruawake @ #3

    [Are the Nats contesting any city seats?]

    Nats are contesting Forde and Fadden in Qld. Both of these seats partially cover some southern suburbs of Brisbane.

  29. I have to say, I wonder why I get the Oz at all. Yes, I get it home delivered…at the moment. I’m not from Sydney or Melbourne and I like the idea (at least) of a national broadsheet. But it did nae used to be like this?! Case in point being all of today’s front page – written by journos hoping to get press sec jobs with Lib backbenchers perhaps? Yes, get stuck into Rudd when there’s a substantive issue but do the same for the Libs (go on try it once or twice). Mike Steketee has shown the way on occasion.

  30. Guys you’d better all get used to media bias. It’s not going away. Just live with it.

    I personally liked the lameness of the Daily Telegraph’s front page headline…


  31. I wish the GetUp senate poll was its own thread – senate discussion always gets drowned out by lower house boosterism! It’s going to be a close election – I can feel it in my waters.

  32. Three things. The Government Gazette is not all bad. Micheal Costello has a glowing article about Labor (maybe his old boss, Kim Beazley told him to stop being part of the anti-ALP chorus at the GG?)

    Here is the link

    The other thing is about Victoria where I live. I think that for some reason this state has turned from being the ‘jewed in the Liberal crown’ to an ALP leaning state.

    My hunch (and it is not based on any scientific data…just my observations!) is that the drift has occurred since the Liberals have abandoned the more ‘wet’ Liberal model of the McPhees, Georgious and more for the conservatism of Howard and Abbott.

    Don’t get me wrong, Victorian LIberals can be ruthless, as Malcom Fraser and Jeff Kennett have shown. But when it comes to issues such as multiculturalism, minority rights etc. they are not bad.

    Costello is a mystery. We will see if and/or when he becomes Prime Minister.

    The third this is this: the polls will drift to the Coalition as we get closer to the election. This was going to happen even when the ALP was in the stratospehere back in August or whatever.

    Of course the commentariat will trumpet this as Howard winning again. The question is how much and how fast the Coalition can gain lost ground.

    It has been done before so I am not going to say anything until the election is won or lost.

  33. Speaking of Eden-Monaro… was out and about at late night shopping last night and saw the Your Rights At Work crew doing a good job. They managed to give out lots of balloons, badges and get signatures for petitions.

    I think it’s a real shame this election is likely to end so dissapointingly for them when they’ve put in so much effort. Plus every Thursday they have people parked on the road into Canberra with banners… it’s dedication.

    Dembo, I agree the Senate is probably the most important part of this election. The current situation is dire.

  34. This post on Matt Price’s piece never made it past the GG censor:

    1. On Sunrise, Rudd mentioned an “organ transplant” as part of a discussion, but declined to elaborate.
    2. Oakes attributed to an “anti-Labor source outside parliament”.
    3. Rudd claims a further two media sources knew the date of surgery and the name of the doctor.

    The info absolutely wasn’t in the public domain. So how does Matt get to “What a pile of rot”?

    I’m also unimpressed with the fact that Howard’s identical tax threshold gaffe doesn’t even rate a mention, let alone the huge gaffe by Cosello when referring to ‘his’ tax cuts. Costello could never have made this ridiculous trivia into an issue without the acquiescence or even complicity of certain parts of the media.

    I see with the real campaign almost on us, it’s going to be nothing but spin from News Corp ‘journalists’.

  35. If the Tories win the HOR, they’ll also retain control of the Senate, as in this case, they’ll have done well enough on primary to get 3 Senators in each state, to go with their 19 of 36 from last election. In fact, I hope that if they win the HoR, they also win the Senate, as the Aus people will deserve what they get in that case.

  36. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but mailing out a ‘healthy eating plan’ to school kids at this time, so close to the election, is just wrong. So many of these ‘good ideas’ have been left so late in the day of this government, it’s like they’re trying to show they’re doing things but are just covering up its 3 years of nothing other than SerfChoices. Perhaps they’re using the old saying that the electorate has a short memory, so if they look like they’re doing things right now, it would be seen as they have done things for the last 3 (or 11) years.

    Why give this booklet to the kids? Why not send it out to the parents. It’s the parents who need to make decisions about the kids’ lunches.

    Something tells me that government advertising won’t stop until Oct 14

  37. I was forced to go offshore because Australian companies overcharge for bandwidth. It nearly sent me broke.

    I’ll give some thought to your advice post-election. I was formerly with a British outfit called Lycos, and I ended up literally wanting to kill them. By far the worst company of any kind I have ever done business with. Unlimited Space might not be cheap but they have been 100 per cent reliable at all times, and I’m not willing to take any risks at this stage of the game.

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