Phoney war dispatches: business as usual edition

• Today’s Hobart Mercury reports on a poll of the northern Tasmanian seats of Bass and Braddon, conducted by Melbourne company MarketMetrics on behalf of the Wilderness Society. From a sample of 492, it is said to show Labor on 61 per cent of the vote across the two seats, although it is not clear if this is primary or two-party preferred. In Bass, 27 per cent of respondents said they will be more likely to vote Liberal if Malcolm Turnbull rejects the Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal, while only 6 per cent said they will be more likely to do so if he approves it.

• Labor has been very slightly embarrassed by the emergence of a university newspaper article by Dominic Rose, its play-dead 20-year-old candidate for Wilson Tuckey’s seat of O’Connor. Writing earlier this year in the student organ of the most august University of Western Australia, Rose expressed concern that Kevin Rudd came over as a “filthy Liberal” who seemed insufficiently enthusiastic about “killing capitalist pig dogs and establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat”. The comments seem to have been made in a spirit of undergraduate humour, and the kid proved quite adept at batting off deliveries from press gallery hard-nose Samantha Maiden of The Australian.

• The Financial Review’s Rear Window column notes that retiring MPs’ parliamentary offices are being stripped by renovators, “which should be a firm indicator that no more sitting weeks are contemplated”. In the Poll Bludger’s experience, it doesn’t usually pay to read too much into this kind of thing. The report further notes: “The smart money yesterday was still on the Prime Minister calling the election on or before October 13 – just as NSW school holidays end – for an election on either November 10 or 17, through the bookies still favour November 24. If Howard were to leave it until October 14, he would have to answer to taxpayers, with pollies incurring expenses for an unnecessary flight to Canberra for a non-existent sitting week”.

John Ferguson of the Herald Sun brings us the unsurprising news that “a marathon election campaign aimed at destroying Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s credibility is being backed by senior Liberal strategists”. A six-week campaign is apparently favoured, which would mean November 17 if it was called this weekend – which, Ferguson tells us, is what Labor “privately believes” will happen. The Prime Minister will say no more than that it will be “held some day between now and early December”.

• Crikey yesterday reported a rumour that Bowman MP Andrew Laming, who was recently cleared by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions over the “printgate” affair, might yet be bumped aside by the Liberals before the election. It was said that his replacement would be Peter Dowling, a Redland Shire councillor.

• The following sentence unaccountably interrupts a piece on political blogging by good egg Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail: “Forget the hype, it is not going to be called for at least 12 days, probably 17”.

• This might not sound too promising, but SportingBet has produced a remarkably attractive and comprehensive election form guide covering all marginal seats.

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.

183 comments on “Phoney war dispatches: business as usual edition”

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  1. It’ll be interesting to see how this dogwhistle is received on a seat-by-seat basis. The seats of Isaacs and Holt are currently Labor held (both on margins of about 1.5%) and are in the vacinity of Greater Dandenong which has the biggest population of Sudanese refugees in the country. I’ll be very interested to see how the Government’s attacks on African migrants resonates in these two seats in particular. I’m sure there are a couple of key seats in Queensland that the Government are hoping to get some traction in with this filthy tactic also.

  2. Hey Optimist – not that I saw, but I was doing other things as well.

    I’m in Canberra, and it has got a run here mainly along the “Andrews is being an arse” line, rather than anything specific. At least what I’ve seen.

    The thing that really irritates me about all this is:
    a) Andrews saying that Police Commissioner Nixon dosn’t know what she’s talking about (in the Oz today). How rude and disrespectful.
    b) The whole “ooh, gangs!” element. Hello, people, teenagers hang around in groups. Just because they are groups of people with dark skins dosn’t make it a “gang”.

  3. MsLaurie,
    thanks for that. Can’t believe that Andrews has the front to dismiss one of the highest law enforcement officials in the land in favour of his “anecdotal” evidence.
    I understand the bastard call himself a devout Catholic too – what was it Jesus said……what you do to the least among you, you do to me.
    Kick his arse Jesus!

  4. ABC Radio Brisbane had callers saying that the Sudanese were respected and liked in Toowoomba. Hard workers, good neighbours, polite etc.

  5. A few points…..

    Firstly, the Andrews announcemnet of a moratorium in African immigration is yet another campaign masterstroke. With the exception of a few moralising holier-than-thou bleeding heart liberals in Fitzroy, Darlinghurst, Vulture Street and Bellingen, the vast majority of the Australian public agree with Andrews’ current assessment. The key is the timing of the announcement. It will translate to a several points of bounce in the polls. (So will the pulp mill announcement by the future Treasurer, which has pretty much sewn up Braddon and Bass for re-election.)

    Secondly, if a Kruddslide DID occur, the net effect would be that the remaining Coalition seats would come from predominantly rural and Bible Belt suburban electorates. Their re-elected MPs would be of a more conservative cloth than the Coalition as a whole today. This would make for a very interesting battleground in the double dissolution election to follow next year. Of course, all this is a moot point because the Coalition are going to be re-elected!

  6. @ 104 Optimist Says:

    I have a question. Is there any way that i can easily search the archives for my own past comments or do i have to just trawl through looking for posts?
    I want to collect all my election date prediction posts for the last two months or so as i think I’ve been pretty much right on the money and as I’m a petty little person, I wanna do some “I told you so-ing.”

    Optimist, put this in your Google and search it: “optimist says:”

    Not sure how often Google indexes this site, but this search will find anything by you which has been indexed.

  7. ok, thanks to the fine advice of John Witheld, I have tracked down one of my posts from August about the likely date of the election. I’m posting this now, because if i turn out to be right, I’m going to jump up and down like a spoilt toddler wanting a pat on the head……….

    Optimist Says:
    August 31st, 2007 at 2:17 pm
    indeed, i agree. Surely with the virtual standstill in the polls, the P.M is motivated to go longer in waiting to call the poll. Anything after 1 December would likely tick off holidaying punters – I suspect he’s waiting/hoping for at least a little shift (firmly reflected in at least a couple of polls) back toward the coalition before starting a relatively long campaign period which will focus heavily on attacking Rudd as leader. I’m not ready to drop the rabbit in the hat idea just yet. A 1 December poll would give the P.M the two October sitting weeks to try out a couple more tricks (writs would need to be issued by 29 October)…maybe even have Abbott launch an outrageous slur against Rudd under the protection of Parliamentary privelege – who knows what might get tossed out there? The Government is looking increasingly desperate and I can’t see any advantage for them in not waiting until late Nov / 1 Dec. Any negative economic news (as you’ve said A-C) could likely be spun in the Government’s favour as cause for caution on changing teams. I suspect there might be people in the Coalition advising Howard that he needs to get himself and his team looking more like a Goverment that is in control and on the move etc….the additional sitting weeks in October might just be an opportunity to try that out.
    Just a thought.

  8. 162
    Paul K Says:
    October 4th, 2007 at 3:03 pm
    [ 158
    Nostradamus Says

    Bible Belt suburban electorates ]

    we have an american style bible belt now?

    I moved to Oz because I have family here and I love the country but a secondary reason was that I wanted to get the h*** out of the straight lace conservatism of the USA. Please, pray tell where these places are if they exist? I want to steer clear of them 😉

  9. What is it about hills? The Adelaide Hills area is a hotbed of Christian conservatism as well. Actually, it isn’t just the hills, it’s the valleys as well. The Clare and Barossa Valleys are full of Lutherans.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  10. fiztig at 100 – In Mitchell at least, I don’t think it would make any difference. As someone else said somewhere, Hawke’s maiden speech should be a cracker.

    Someone like Abbott will probably eventually sit him down for a quiet chat and tell him something like “Son, it’s all very well to be true to your principles. But the idea in this game is to actually impress more people than you p*ss off. We don’t get it right all the time. But you get it less right, more often…”

    Lindsay voter at 113 – Bradbury will win Lindsay. There can be very little real doubt. The people who show up for something like Insight may well not be representative. Lindsay, at least, is a must win for Rudd.

  11. I’ve seen the word “hubris” mentioned a few times on this thread.

    Is “hubris” something they serve in Lebanese restaurants, or is it something that’s found in the soil?

  12. The Chinster, the Barossa lutherans are a fairly quiet lot, quite a few families from the Italian community has shifted up there from the market garden plains over the last few years.

  13. #168. I hope you are right Josh. I’m working on my WA rellies but they are in fear of militant union bosses. Aaaaaaargh!

  14. “Can’t believe that Andrews has the front to dismiss one of the highest law enforcement officials in the land in favour of his “anecdotal” evidence.”

    Well, it’s consistent with his action on Haneef.

    On Jon Faine today, Bazz Cassidy mentioned the Libs were dusting up their old “Learner Latham” adds for another run, with a couple of adjustments. Apparently they’ll barely mention Rudd or Howard because of the current popularity of each.

    Their aim is to focus on some of the Labor lesser lights and compare them with their experienced Lib counterparts. I guess we know where Glen’s coming from now. Of course, bringing some of the Lib team into more direct focus – Ruddock, Abbott, Costello, Hockey, Andrews, Downer, Nelson – might not be so appealing to the punters … but, it’s their money, at least this part.

    So let ’em blow it!

  15. Glen, been scouting around for handles for a couple of peripheral characters who frequent a coffee house in Victorian London. They are ernest proselytizers for the Young Tories. Keen to prove their loyalty and fortified with only the finest Jamaican beans, they work the room like tag-team terriers trawling for empathisers but rarely succeed, to the merriment of all.

    Hubris Harris and Lily Gilders.

  16. Don at 173. I have a hunch that the “inexperience” line, whether targetting Rudd or the rest of the Labor mob, may be a two edged sword, i.e., if the “experienced” current gov’t can perform as abysmally as they currently are, and I think they are, with the possible exception of Turnball who is, at least, articulate, then voters can conclude “I don’t like what the experienced lot are doing/will continue to do, I’ll vote for the other lot”. It’s very simple psychology, have not done any research in the area myself, though it’s becoming very fetching, I’ve got to say, doing some research, that is.

  17. Monica… I don’t think Malcolm Turnball is particularly articulate. I still don’t see why Labor people are so willing to puff him up. He’ll be a failed Opposition Leader some day just like Dr Hewson. He just doesn’t have the political touch.

  18. ‘Masterstroke’ saith “Nostradamus”. Masterstroke? To invite refugees into your country then vilify them? Sounds childish to me.

    You obviously don’t live in a resettlement area. I do. Annerley (Moreton electorate). The Sudanese here are well respected: polite, setting up businesses. More Christian than Andrews. Ever heard of Darfur?? The wolf whistle will work, nonetheless, with the neighbourhood watch crowd.

  19. Call the Election @ 176. I thought he was pretty good, albeit he seemed to be acting like someone was pulling barbed wire out of his a**e as he spoke. He showed a barristers skill of presenting a brief as convincingly as possible even though he knows that the jury is not buying.

    What surprised me about his interview was his very strained appearance. He looked very distracted and worried, possibly even ill. Perhaps it was just the makeup.

  20. Monica, I guess that’s the irony of touting the ‘experience ‘ line. Turnbull hasn’t had any more experience than the Labor people they’re targeting. And he’s one of their better ones!

    I agree about the two-edged sword. From the perspective of long-suffering voters, we’ve had more than enough experience of the current lot. A new experience can hardly be regressive.

  21. Just copying and pasting some comments I put on tasmaniantimes re the Bass/Braddon poll at the request of the editor. Old news now I guess as the poll also did not canvass the voters’ reactions to approval under rather more stringent conditions, as has occurred:


    The sample size is 492 voters across both electorates, 233 in Bass and 259 in Braddon. Despite the “confidence interval” being reported as three to four percent, the typically used margin of error (95% confidence) is over 4% for conclusions applied to both electorates and over 6% for conclusions based on just one. This is worth bearing in mind given figures such as the 18% Green vote in Bass (while some of the Green boost may be pulp mill backlash I suspect some of it is also method or sample error and the real Green vote will be not more than 15% if that), and given the claimed size of the ALP lead (although the latter is consistent with some other polls.) Basically these seat samples are not much better than EMRS’s much-pilloried 200-vote seat-samples, but some of the trends reported are still strong enough to have some marginal usefulness.

    It’s unfortunate that the data presented do not answer two crucial questions about voter intention re the pulp mill:

    1. Of those voters who stated the mill issue would affect their likelihood of voting Liberal, which party did they intend to vote for anyway?

    2. Of the same voters, how likely is the issue to change their vote?

    The second is especially important as if Labor’s 2PP leads are as great as reported and those Bass voters swinging over the pulp mill would be, say, 10% more likely to vote Liberal, then the seat is most likely gone anyway.

    The first is also relevant because any voters who have already indicated a preference for voting Liberal, but who say that if the Libs throw out the pulp mill it will strengthen their vote, are of no use in closing the 11% swing suggested.

    All up this data has me nowhere near convinced that a Turnbull decision on the mill will swing the seats in question. In the case of Braddon the difference between those saying refusal would make them more likely to vote Liberal and those saying it would make them less so is only 3% and on that basis the sample suggests it is *not* likely the decision will make any real difference in Braddon (especially as 14% vs 11% in a sample of this size is not even statistically different from dead even.)

    In the case of Bass the poll does support the view that there is some NIMBY effect in that seat that may be apparent at the election if the seat should be close (although even this cannot be taken for granted without more data about the strength of intention to change vote on opposite sides of the issue). But it also flags the strong possibility that the pulp mill issue will be swamped by a massive swing to Labor anyway.

  22. The Chinster says:
    What is it about hills? The Adelaide Hills area is a hotbed of Christian conservatism as well. Actually, it isn’t just the hills, it’s the valleys as well. The Clare and Barossa Valleys are full of Lutherans.

    The Chinster I live in the Adelaide Hills and I can assure you that although I have heard we have the lowest cathlic population in Australia, I only know one protestant extremist. We are divided into the ‘organic market’ types and the born-to-rule smug upper-class twits. Perhaps its just the company i keep but most Christians I know in the area are Christian Socialists. This was the Democrats hearland not the Christian Democrats heartland. At the state level Kavel is very good for FF but Heyson is low.

    Fun Trivia fact about the adelaide hills: Our two largest agricultural produces are 1. wine and 2. marijuanna.

    P.S. HUBRIS, HUBRIS, HUBRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Meanwhile it seems that Kevin Andrews has outsourced the issuing of visas to foreign Roman Catholic bishops and waived visa fees.

    Of course this only applies to nice Roman Catholic kiddies coming here for the Roman Catholic Youth Fest here in NSW next year.

    The other extraordinary thing is that he treated George Pell as though he was the plenipotentiary for some foreign power.

    See Crikey yesterday for more gory details

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