Pulp mill wash-up

• The Liberal candidate for the central Tasmanian seat of Lyons, Ben Quin, has quit the party in protest over the government’s green light for the Tamar Valley pulp mill, and will run as an independent. Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports concurrence among the major parties that he will “attract only a handful of votes”. Quin was once a member of the Greens, which he later explained as a principled reaction to the joint Labor and Liberal effort in 1998 to shaft the party through changes to the state electoral system. The Liberal Party has acted quickly to install a new candidate, “transport company businessman” Geoff Page, whose father Graeme was a state MP of 20 years.

• Quin’s announcement comes off the back of Glenn Milne‘s assessment he had “badly misjudged the mood of Tasmanians” in opposing the mill. Milne quotes Liberal internal polling of 300 voters in Lyons, conducted on September 14 and 15, showing the Liberal primary vote slumping to 30 per cent from 42 per cent in 2004. By contrast, “the polling showed the vote of Liberal candidates in all other seats in Tasmania improving”. Milne observes that the August poll by EMRS also showed an improvement for the Coalition in all seats except Lyons (although this outfit’s 200-sample surveys need to be treated with caution).

• Sue Neales of The Mercury (article apparently unavailable online) sees things very differently, saying there is “little doubt” the announcement has cooked the goose of Michael Ferguson, Liberal member for Bass. This assessment is largely based on a poll conducted by Melbourne company MarketMetrics on behalf of the Wilderness Society, which showed 27 per cent of Bass voters would be more likely to vote Liberal if Malcolm Turnbull rejected the mill, while only 6 per cent said they would be more likely to do so if he approved it. Neales also quotes University of Tasmania academic Richard Herr suggesting the Greens might receive enough of a surge to deliver a seat to their second Senate candidate, Andrew Wilkie.

• Tamar Valley vigneron and anti-mill campaigner Peter Whish-Wilson is reportedly considering running as an independent in Bass, having been approached by mill opponents seeking a candidate who could garner protest votes from those unwilling to back the Greens. Whish-Wilson is described by Matthew Denholm of The Australian as “an economist, entrepreneur and Surfrider activist from a well-known family”.

• Despite its likely negligible impact, there was much reporting on the Tasmanian Greens’ announcement preferences would not be directed to Labor. What is not clear, at least to me, is whether they also plan to lodge two tickets for the Senate, so that above-the-line voters’ preferences divide evenly between Labor and Liberal.

• Former Sydney deputy lord mayor Dixie Coulton will run in Wentworth as the candidate of the Climate Change Coalition, which was founded by Patrice Newell, organic farmer and partner of Phillip Adams. Coulton was once a colleague of Lucy Turnbull, former lord mayor and wife of Malcolm, in the council’s Living Sydney party. She left the group in 2003, saying it had become “tainted” by association with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party, and announced she would run against Lucy Turnbull at the following year’s lord mayoral election. Turnbull ultimately declined to run and the election was won by Clover Moore, state independent member for Bligh (now Sydney).

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.

450 comments on “Pulp mill wash-up”

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  1. ShowsOn@290: that’s my point. Those areas voted Labor in 1983, and according to Adam the dams issue played a crucial role: in general, most of those areas soon swung back to the Liberals, which tends to support the hypothesis that a special factor was at work there in 1983. Labor won 23 out of 33 seats in Victoria in 1983, and I don’t think, in proportionate terms, it’s ever done better there (but let’s see what happens this year).

    Labor did not lose five seats in Tasmania at the 1983 election. It held no Tasmanian seats before the election, and none afterwards, for a net change of zero in Tasmania.

  2. Lefty E: that’s pretty funny.

    ESJ, if you are talking about concepts of austonomy and the good life as espoused by John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, then your response to cultural pluralism the other day was WAY off. And I might be remembering out of school, but were you against equal recognition for gay couples?

  3. Ideally, I would favour neither single-member constituencies nor PR. I would favour the adoption of a more democratic replacement for Parliament.

  4. Re the Bali Bombers. WTF does McClelland think he is doing. There are no votes in taking the high moral ground on issues like this. Quite the contrary. Gives journalists like Shanahan and Milne the chance for sensational headlines. Talk about an own goal. There is nothing to be gained by trying to persuade other countries to get rid of the death penalty. They won’t anyway. Idiots like him need to be gagged.

  5. Ancient Athens had something similar to a lottery, or our jury system, whereby 500 people (a number that could not conceivably be bribed) were placed in the Senate to vote on motions. And any citizen could speak…of course there were shortcomings in the definition of citizen etc…but the idea was to really have a peoples consensus voice.

    There are groups in the UK advocating a similar reform for (at least part of) the House of Lords. It’s not going anywhere, but an interesting idea.

  6. To be fair to the Oz, the Age heads its story “Don’t execute Bali bombers, says Labor.” That is a fair summation of what McClelland said. You can’t oppose the death penalty selectively. If we are opposed to it on principle, then yes, we are opposed to executing the Bali bombers. That is certainly my view. (The Age also calls him “McLelland” throughout. Typical.)

  7. Sean @337

    Today’s OZ is an absolute disgrace. What ever happened to news judgement? Surely the fact that an Australian soldier was killed deserves better than an afterthought on Page One. Instead, we get a purely political juxta of photos and headlines about capital punishment. Designed to put the fix on Labor.

    (I do understand that the newsroom is probably in shock over Matt Price. I wish him and his family all the best.)

    However, someone should keep their head: the buck stops with the editor.

  8. Pancho –

    I wont touch cultural pluralism after yesterday’s thread. That topics off limits.

    Equal recognition for gay couples ? – I believe the discrimination acts need to be revised in this country, particularly in the area of race and age discrimination (largely on similar grounds as espoused by u know who yesterday). I dont believe there should be discrimination against groups but I do believe there should be some positive discrimination eg for aboriginals or for goals we as a society think are worthwhile like encouraging more childbirth.

  9. I’m sort of (but not entirely) following your cryptic comment there. And if I am, your philosophies don’t necessarily seem to be in sync with all of your postings. You’re not on here for wind-ups are you?

  10. Apologies for missing unsubtle hints. A good result for Labor. Something I have been thinking of – what of this theory that people are more likely to be announcing a Labor vote in a face to face, and this being closer to the reality of the situation? I would have thought you may have gotten something closer to a real approximation behind the relative anonymity of a phone call? And this would square with the idea that not all of the previous Labor voting ‘Howard’s battlers’ would be comfortable admitting a Liberal vote.

  11. Apparently Howard is to make a speech at the Gerard Henderson Howard Appreciation Society, also known as the Sydney Institute, on thursday.

    Let me guess..terrorism, troops, bali bombers etc given Friday is the anniversary n all.

  12. Like most people I have different views on different topics. Some are strong (like on the relationship between unions and the ALP), and on the moral corruption of the existing political system, others I have adopted with experience and study (like aboriginals get a raw deal).

    Generally our system of politics outstanding feature is mediocrity. I have never hidden being a huge fan of PJK.

    Broadly speaking I have been more anti-ALP than pro-Howard, I have believed that me-tooism wouldnt work because people would say why would I buy the copy when I can have the original? But it looks like I would be wrong on that.

    I am not on here for a stir – but yes I dont mind ridiculing positions I think are ridiculous and i enjoy the cut and thrust of debate. I think with all the wealth of this country we could do better for everybody but I am very suspicious of the rise of the professional class of politicians in both parties (but particularly the ALP) and also the public service lefty class which feeds off problems.

    I think its funny if that qualifies me for Goth the Unwashed status.

  13. Like most people I have different views on different topics. Some are strong (like on the relationship between unions and the ALP), and on the moral decline of the existing political system, others I have adopted with experience and study (like aboriginals get a raw deal).

    Generally our system of politics outstanding feature is mediocrity. I have never hidden being a huge fan of PJK.

    Broadly speaking I have been more anti-ALP than pro-Howard, I have believed that me-tooism wouldnt work because people would say why would I buy the copy when I can have the original? But it looks like I would be wrong on that.

    I am not on here for a stir – but yes I dont mind ridiculing positions I think are ridiculous and i enjoy the cut and thrust of debate. I think with all the wealth of this country we could do better for everybody but I am very suspicious of the rise of the professional class of politicians in both parties (but particularly the ALP) and also the public service lefty class which feeds off problems.

    I think its funny if that qualifies me for Goth the Unwashed status.

  14. I think the reference to the “mobile phone only” household is the true answer.

    328 I think you mis-interpreted the mobile phone argument.

    Since the phone polls only poll people who have landlines, a lot of students and younger people are not “eligible” to be polled becauase they don’t have land lines – but they get to vote. They also tend to vote ALP.

    Hence the phone poll results are biased and OVERREPRESENT the Liberal vote since young (left) people are artificially excluded.

    I don’t know how the other polls are conducted but I buy the argument that the advantage to the ALP repeatedly shown in the Morgan polls is becuase of the mobile-phone only bias. Phone polls have a truly horrible history of over-representing conservative votes.

    (FYI I have a degree in statistics)

  15. I don’t give too much credence to anyone that suggests people are too ashamed (in large numbers) to admit their vote for one party or the other. I’m sure there are just as many Labor voters who feel ashamed to announce their votes as Liberal voters (not a significant number).

    Yet again, it’s just a desperate call from Howard supporters. It’d be far better to say that polls, in the recent past, have tended to favour the ALP by a percentage point or two. Whether we’re seeing a repeat of that now (to a lesser or greater extent) is arguable. We won’t know for sure until after all the votes have been counted. At the moment I’m taking them at face value, because it makes no sense to make arbitrary revisions.

  16. Question – is it possible for an ACTING Prime Minister to call an election? I understand that there would be provision for the GG to swear in another PM in the event that the PM dies, but until the formal swearing-in, what powers does an Acting PM have?

    To put it another way, if Howard doesn’t call it this weekend and then promptly swans off to Tonga, can Costello put us all out of our misery while Howard is out of the country? ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Is the Prime Minister even necessary? Could the GG decdie that, for the good of the country, he will call the election of his own accord?

  18. AGH! Good point ๐Ÿ˜‰

    However, my query stands. Could whomever the Acting PM is be pressured into calling an election while the old man is away?

  19. Call the Election

    I’m saying this manifestation of Edward St John is not a true liberal: the late Edward St John QC WAS a true liberal. QC St John was a player in the politics of the day. And a worthy one. From now on in, I will refer to today’s player as The Unwashed.

    Unwashed: Class. Race. Religion.

  20. The GG can take advice from whomever he likes, but by convention he takes advice on dissolving Parliament only from the PM. If the PM were to die or incapacitated, the GG would appoint the Deputy PM as PM and then take his advice. If the PM is merely overseas, the DPM would not presume to tender such advice, and the GG would not take it.

    If the PM does nothing, Parliament will expire on (I think) 15 November, and the PM will then have to advise the GG to issue the writs. He would still have the discretion of the length of the campaign.

  21. Chinster asks “Could whomever the Acting PM is be pressured into calling an election while the old man is away?”

    I suppose that is possible but would be most bizarre.

    He’s not going to Tonga. I’ll bet a testicle on it.

  22. Adam, it was my understanding the GG had 10 days after the expiration of the current Parliament to call the election?

  23. so much for the “team” Howard-Costello promise!

    Under pressure of bad poll after APEC, in a panic / desperate act, Howard promised to give Costello a leg in to co-host the campaign. Certainly, he hoped will deflect the public criticism Howard has accumulated over 11 years. Well, I guess he is already that already. Bring in Costello virtually does not improve the Howard’s dired situation.

    After killing off the impeachment threat from his own party, Howard goes on and continues doing what he’s been doing in the past 11 years: commanding / taking centre stage alone; pushing Costello and other (Coalition) ministers aside puzzled / dumb-strucked.
    Howard is the living proof of “power is addictive”.

  24. Yes but a 15 Novemeber election annoucement leads to a Dec 22 or Dec 29 Election unless the campaign is mind-numbingly long.

    It is very arguably in the national interest not to have a campaign that long.

    I don’t for a minute really think the GG would get so involved, but I believe that he could, if he wanted to.

    Convention is worth the paper it’s written, in many cases.

  25. He would still have the discretion of the length of the campaign.

    Not if Howard hasn’t budged by the 19th of December.
    I believe the constitution clearly states the election MUST be held no later than three years and three months from the first sitting of parliament meaning it lawfully has to be before 19th January. The minimum length allowable is 31 days so the GG would be forced to call the election and set the length himself.

  26. Goth

    Ok. Truce. I’ll withdraw “unwashed”. Explain woof woof? Anyway, bet my dogs – boxers – are bigger than yours. Subject closed.

  27. The GG only acts on the advice of the PM, with the single exception of the appointment and dismissal of the PM him/herself. The GG cannot issue the writs on his own initiative. So if a PM failed to advise the GG to issue the writs, the GG would have to dismiss the PM and appoint a PM who would give him the appropriate advice.

  28. The parliament hasn’t expired on its own since the very early 1900’s (1907 I believe). I don’t think Howard wants to let it get to that stage, or even close. It’ll be called before November. If parliament does sit it’s going to be a very embarassing fortnight, with not much legislation of importance being debated but probably lots of needless talking on motions, adjournment debates etc.

    In short, the whole thing will just be a circus.

  29. Personally, I think this idea that if you oppose the death penalty here, you have to oppose it everywhere, is nothing more than an exercise in moral vanity.

    Why is it not a defensible position to say that you are opposed to the death penalty here, but as a matter of national sovereignty, you think that (for example) Indonesia is entitled to make up its own mind about who it executes (provided there is some form of reasonable preceding judicial process)?

    If McLelland was fair dinkum he’d have named the US and China (I assume “Asia-focused” is code for Indonesia, and maybe the odd Aussie drug runner elsewhere in SE Asia).

    Anyway, I see Rudd has sensibly told him to get back in his box… I love that line about a staff member being “counselled”.

  30. The latest the election will be called for is Dec 8… surely no one is seriously suggesting it could be later. Howard is not stupid.

  31. The GG cannot issue the writs on his own initiative.

    But a GG can unilaterally dismiss a government, and if it was done this close to an election, that is as good as directing writs to be issued. Yes?

  32. It would seem the only remaining scenarios are:
    *Howard dissolves this weekend (Friday at the latest) for a long campaign, mightily pissing off everyone involved with next week’s sitting.
    *We have one week’s sitting and Howard dissolves at the end of next week, for a Nov 24 or 1 Dec election.
    *We have two weeks’ sittings and Howard dissolves at the end of the week ending the 26th, for a 1 Dec or maybe 8 Dec election.

  33. No Just Me, but he could technically appoint Rudd PM and have him call the election. All these hypotheticals of course are not going to eventuate. The election will be called by November at the latest.

    Josh, I see where you’re getting at, personally I think for any politician to be so silly in a speech shows they need to pull their heads in. It would be enough to say that your foreign affairs policy on the death penalty is that you do not support it and urge other countries to consider other forms of justice, but that you will not comment on individual cases.

  34. Josh, you are confusing two issues: opposition to the death penalty as a matter of principle, and Indonesia’s sovereignty. Of course Indonesian law is a matter for Indonesia, and if Indonesia wants to kill the Bali bombers, or the Bali Nine, that is Indonesia’s sovereign right. To say that one is opposed to the death penalty, everywhere and in all circumstances (my position and Labor’s position) is not in conflict with that. Government’s urge each other to do things or not to do things all the time, without this being a matter of infringing on their sovereignty. Burma is a sovereign state too, but we don’t have any problems opposing the Burmese government shooting protesters in the street.

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