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. Steketee’s article is a nice introduction for people who may not be aware of the Right’s influence, especially up here in NSW – but I wish more would be written on that insidious little squirt Alex Hawke. I doubt that the good folk in Mitchell have any clue of the morality crusade he and his svengali David Clarke would like to wage against anyone to the left of Botha. The posters will just make him look like a nice, clean cut young Liberal man.
    Hmmm…. wonder if there is a good article around on him by a credible journalist that could be letter dropped in Mitchell….

  2. Adam Says:
    October 4th, 2007 at 1:30 am
    For a government trying to hold several seats with large Asian communities, such as Moreton

    Adam, Moreton has a largish Sudanese community too – around Salisbury & Coopers Plains.

  3. I know Kevin Rudd is still at base camp but presumably this wine will keep for awhile if anyone is interested. Marketed by the CFMEU.
    Howard’s End is the perfect wine for any situation. Whether with friends, toasting John and Janette out of Kirribilli, or brooding alone on 11 years of opportunities lost. As an election night treat or an up market hub cap cleaner, one wine will always fit the bill.

    Whether you buy a bottle for yourself, or a dozen as gifts, Howard’s End is a great way to make a political statement while also raising money for the campaign against the Howard Government’s radical IR laws.

    Howard’s End will be available from Monday 8 October from the CFMEU at the bargain price of $10 per bottle. Call (02) 9749 0400 or email for more information.

  4. William,
    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.”

  5. 103
    Lindsay voter Says: Howard’s End will be available from Monday 8 October from the CFMEU at the bargain price of $10 per bottle.

    I can get a price of morethan half that at my local Dan Murphy’s on a no name bottle of red or white so that is where I am headed ;-D

  6. Bass & Braddon

    The Mockery’s story must be citing the TPP. The primaries for this poll were given in yesterday’s SMH (except Greens primary in Braddon).

    The TWS figures are not very different from a previous poll in Bass and Braddon, which might have been done by the Examiner.

  7. I’m not celebrating until I see Howard concede defeat. Though I might have to go out to the Yarra Valley soon and get myself a special bottle for election night, just in case.

  8. Anyone see the front page of The Age this morning? They had a headline about the government being accused of racism. The story was in regards to the reduction in the number of Afrian refugees and the reason they gave.

  9. Will,
    yeah i saw that. Still waiting for my ears to stop ringing from the dogwhistle. I don’t want to be unkind, but Kevin Andrews is a shameless dirtbag. (Guess I do want to be unkind.)

  10. What I don’t understand is that the intake of African refugees is being curbed to provide for more Asian and Middle Eastern refugees. Maybe they’re targeting this particular issue at particular seats with high African populations.

    I know Stirling in WA has an African community as that was on my bus route to uni when I was living there.

  11. Whatever happened to the principle of intake based on NEED? Where you are from should be irrelevant. If a person is in urgent need, we should take them. End of story.

    The worst part of this story was Andrews and Howard using the example of the death of a young Sudanese man to demonstrate that the Sudanese have a culture of violence. By that they presumably mean that they are used to getting bashed to death; the case they cite involved a Sudanese VICTIM. The perpetrators were WHITE. I sincerely hope they weren’t already aware of that (however, I doubt it) because if they were it was a shameless politicising of what was a very tragic event.

    And I’m sure Abbott’s comments on the Royal North Shore hospital were just coincidental as well…

  12. Did anyone watch Insight on SBS this week? It focused on Lindsay. Quite a few were mortgage stressed but yet hadn’t decided who to vote for or as one said “better the devil you know”! So hopefully the polls are right about the swing. After watching te two Insight programmes (Bennelong and Lindsay) I was more confident of Howard losing Bennelong than David Bradbury winning Lindsay! These people should be traditional Labor voters but must be drawn to Howard’s Hansonite leanings and the belief that Howard can still control interest rates.

  13. 111What I don’t understand is that the intake of African refugees is being curbed to provide for more Asian and Middle Eastern refugees.

    What I don’t understand is that this statement of yesterday by the government seems at polar odds with their policies otherwise when compared with the nationalities of people who are in dentention camps both here in Australia and on Nauru. The government can’t have it both ways. Making this statement yesterday doesn’t mesh with other aspects of their immigration policy; past, present or future. Are they letting these people in or not? Sheeessh …….

  14. 112I sincerely hope they weren’t already aware of that (however, I doubt it) because if they were it was a shameless politicising of what was a very tragic event.

    And I’m sure Abbott’s comments on the Royal North Shore hospital were just coincidental as well…

    The lady whose miscarraige sparked the current controversy over the RNSH was on the ABC news last night in an interview with her husband. They lambasted Abbot for politicising the situation.

    Whether Andrews, Howard or Abbot; they are past masters at shameless politicising tragic events >;-( …..

  15. Lindsay voter

    Watched it and thought the same thing. I also (quite oddly) thought to myself “i wonder if that lindsay voter from pollbludger is watching”….

  16. [Howard’s End will be available from Monday 8 October from the CFMEU at the bargain price of $10 per bottle.]

    A keg of “Howard’s End” English Bitter craftbrew is already conditioning in
    my (ahem) cold room (ie a fridge). It has been brewed sweet to match the
    flavour of the election telecast, but with a background bitterness to
    commemorate the Lost Decade (and a bit). A second edition is currently
    fermenting in case of election delay.

    No action will be taken on this namesake. 😉

  17. fiztig@101: Check out “Young Libs in the Chocolate Factory” on The Monthly’s website. It’s the best writeup I’ve seen so far. No time to hunt up the exact link right now. It’s been posted before now.

    I wonder if the African refugee dogwhistle’s going to work? From where I sit, it seems like a pretty desperate move.

  18. #116 I had it on tape and watched it last night and was surprised it was on Lindsay. It’s ironic that battlers would vote Liberal whereas the betterl off (Tanya Pilbersek and Peter Garrett’s electorates) vote Labor.

  19. I’m still wondering what exactly Howard thought he was going to achieve with the African refugee dogwhistle. Of all the refugee communities that one could whip up a racist scare campaign about, I wouldn’t have thought there was much fear of Africans. I’m not seeing who it’ll convert (apart from a few hardcore One Nation types who would have already been voting Liberal), and I think it’ll swing a few more votes Labor’s way, both in ethnic communities and by people angry at the blatant racism of it. As well as Moreton mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gary Humphries isn’t thrilled about the move – the ACT has quite a sizable community of African refugees.

  20. Julie are you in Victoria? Neil Mitchell is making much of this Sudanese issue which occurred in Noble Park. It is making front page news of both our major papers. I was wondering if it was receiving the same treatment in other states.

  21. I think Howard has appeal to a broad section of Australians that Rudd will never have. The carefully cultivated false modesty, politeness and ‘cricket tragic’ persona of his I think is politically very smart. I’d imagine more ‘battlers’ identify with Howard than Rudd and that’s something I think Labor will find hard to get past. I’m sure people will hurl WorkChoices at me as the easy answer to this, but once again I think its impact is being overestimated.

    On the other hand well educated ‘elites’ don’t favour Howard because, in my opinion, they can see through the false persona of the PM and, quite frankly, most of their ‘policies’ stink to anyone with a brain. I’m surprised so many lawyers make up the Liberal Party because a lot of their policies and actions are a direct slap in the face to the law.

    I think perhaps the reason why journalists and polling companies aren’t beleiving the polls is because it’s showing typically safer government seats are at more risk than the ‘Howard’s battlers’ marginals. They assume these safer seats will turn back to Howard during the campaign and hence are dismissing the polls.

  22. #120

    I think its possibly the great ‘success’ of Howard’s time that he has managed to successfully court those less well-off.

    This is why its so odd that he would create workchoices. Why would you deliberately irritate a constituency that is so important to your continued election? On that particular episode it did seem that a lot of the people there weren’t sure which they would vote. But my interpretation/extrapolation is that were much more sure (to the Liberal party’s benefit) prior to workchoices

  23. The Sudanese issue is news in some eastern suburbs in Melbourne, around the Dandenong area, due to a serial rapist who turned out to be a Sudanese Refugee and also another Sudanese man who despite multiple drink driving convictions drove his car into a group of school children. It may have some limited impact in the suburbs around Dandenong but apart from that I doubt most people really care.

  24. The latest cynical policies regarding African refugees are probably considered a safe bet by Howard and co. In Victoria, at least, the African (and other) refugees tend to live in safe Labor territory anyway, so the Libs can offend them without incurring damage, and at the same time, shore up the Liberal vote in bogan seats where Workchoices is beginning to bite.

  25. CTEP @124

    I’m sure you pointed this out before but could you tell me why you think the impact of workchoices has been overstated?

  26. Gary @ 123,

    Oh, I wish ….. I am a Victorian, Melburnian in particular, in my heart. At the moment, we are in SW Sydney, soon to be Canberra (this summer). DH’s job has him moving frequently.

    We got limited coverage at first, and nothing it seems at the moment. The newspapers up here are more excited about Hockey at the moment, the crisis with rent prices (correlated with the housing crisis) and the bushfires north of the city. Both main arteries out of the city last night were closed down for a period of time and the trains also were temporarily cut off too.

  27. “I think perhaps the reason why journalists and polling companies aren’t beleiving (sic) the polls is because it’s showing typically safer government seats are at more risk than the ‘Howard’s battlers’ marginals.” Your evidence of this would be?

  28. I really think the other major issues will swamp any refugee policy during the election campaign. Besides Rudd has “me tooed” it anyway. It will die pretty quickly without official opposition to it.

  29. CTEP @133

    (Disclosure: I’m a union activist)

    I agree entirely, but my experience is that this issue has actually created a fear within the community about Howard. In the work i’ve been doing, this seems to have struck a certain chord with people – like a tipping point that has changed their positive perception of the govt. I think this is why Rudd’s campaign is being received much more positively.

  30. Julie, re ABC frequencies. I have a folder of information on ABC frequencies in all the regions of Australia which I got at a “Friends of ABC” day several years ago. Invaluable for the remote area traveller. Perhaps you could ring ABC shop to obtain.

    Bon Voyage!

  31. Yo ho ho: It’s because he had the right conditions, ALP needed 16 seats to win a majority, he had full control of the Senate and he was planning to retire. It was a calculated risk, because if they win we will be stuck with it for a long time. If he loses, Howard just walks away and leaves the Libs to rebuild.

  32. 135,

    Mike, I had the frequencies here at home. They are in a book we have called “Meet the Locals – The ABC Insider’s Guide to Australia”. It has travel information, stories and maps. A nice travel guide book :):). The problem was that I had to go back and forth referencing throughout the book for each community we are going through as the data isn’t compiled in a nice table or anything all in one place, they make you look through the text for it.

  33. Adam Says:
    October 4th, 2007 at 12:17 am
    No, no, blindoptimist, Kevin Andrews is nauseous, and you are nauseated by him.

    Pedants’ corner
    No,no, Adam, OED defines nauseous as: a) Inclined to nausea. b) causing nausea… So blindoptimist is quite rightly rendered nauseous (inclined to nausea) by KA, because, as you say KA is indeed nauseous(causing Nausea).
    Sounds like Pirates of Penzance “I said orphan, frequentlÿ, only once “

  34. Yo Ho Ho @125.
    Howard had three uses for worst choices, i think the main one was to destroy the unions and by proxy the labor party because the unions are their main power and financial base and secondly Howard used it as a sop to appease his big business backers, unfortunately the workers just got crushed inbetween.

  35. Just wondering if Nine news ran the appalingly bad / prejudiced story about Sudanese gangs in their non-melbourne editions this morning – anyone?

  36. call the election please states:
    “I think perhaps the reason why journalists and polling companies aren’t beleiving the polls is because it’s showing typically safer government seats are at more risk than the ‘Howard’s battlers’ marginals”

    this stuff being peddled is UNTRUE. The latest Newspoll marginal seats summary has Labor 58/42. The myth the somehow the Labor vote is in safe seats is a story created by the government to make things seem better. Please look at the polling figures before making such statements

  37. Adam,
    It’s all very well for you to be keen to have KA re-elected in Menzies. What about those of us who are stuck with him as our MP (for life, as I think of it)?
    I happen to agree with you that Menzies will be a bridge too far, though I dispute your cause/effect claim about beards (I ditched mine before I turned 40). US research is of dubious relevance, IMO.
    I thought also of the nifty little list of ABC frequencies, which is (or definitely used to be) available from ABC shops, although I suspect that it still suffers from the defect of your guide book, that it’s an alpha listing of place names within States, rather than a map.

  38. i got the impression from andrew’s statement that it was a cabinet decision and can not be released
    no wonder if it was ” who likes darkies and no-one in cabinet put their hand up”
    the liberal’s are continuing to shoot themselves in the feet , abbott, costello, hockey, andrews all this week, if they keep these efforts up the liberal’s won’t get close to labor,
    howard must be seething watching it play out in the media,

  39. Andrew, I wasn’t saying that’s what I believe (or that’s not what I meant to say anyhow) but that’s what the journalists/polling companies might believe, that the fact there is such a large recorded swing in safe seats may mean their polling is wrong.

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