From one red morgue to another

Today has brought a fascinating development in the battle for control of the Senate, with South Australian Legislative Council “No Pokies” member Nick Xenophon throwing his hat into the ring. Xenophon pulled off one of the most sensational achievements in Australia’s recent electoral history at the election last March, when his ticket polled 20.5 per cent of the statewide vote – only 5.5 per cent less than the Liberal Party. As well as getting himself re-elected (he first snuck in with 2.9 per cent at the 1997 election), this also secured election for running mate Ann Bressington, who believed she was only there for moral support, and came within a hair’s breadth of putting into parliament John Darley, the number three candidate who had assured his wife he had no chance of winning. Given the Greens’ historical weakness in South Australia and the probable demise of the Democrats, the most likely outcome in South Australia had been a three-all split between Labor and Liberal. The smart money would now be on the Liberals losing their third seat to Xenophon, meaning an end to the long and not terribly eventful parliamentary career of Grant Chapman. In other words, the Coalition now appears all but certain to lose its absolute majority. PortlandBet has smartly removed South Australia from its newly launched Senate betting market.

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.

595 comments on “From one red morgue to another”

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  1. Well, gay rights might not be enough for Mr. Howard at this point – to really have half a chance of changing ‘small-l’ votes – Mr. Howard will have to risk everything and come out of the closet.

  2. From a consistent 60 and 61, 57.5 is a drop yes. It does make one wonder what Newspoll will be – 53, 54?

    The polls WILL narrow (even if only slightly) as we get closer to D Day.

  3. The strategic aim of Howard’s speech is directed at a number of preferred outcomes, of that there is no doubt and they are clearly evident to those of us who have followed his methodology and actions for a long time.

    However the principal one spelled out by Shannahan is that Howard clearly sees a once in a generation opportinity for him, as “Father of the Nation” to grasp that opportunity and firmly, but gently, lead us all into a united, harmonious nation.

    [He appealed to Australians to recognise “that while ever our indigenous citizens are left out ormarginalised or feel their identity is challenged, we are alldiminished”.

    “We are not a federation of tribes,” he said. “We are one great tribe; one Australia.]
    – snip-
    [“It is a moment in time which should be seized, lest it be lost.
    “Now, for the first time in a long time, we can see the outline of a new settlement for indigenous policy in Australia. It stands at a point of intersection between rights and responsibilities; between the symbolic and the practical.”

    He said it was a “topic of utmost national importance; one that transcends the past, the present and the future of Australia and that goes to the heart of our national identity and shared destiny”. ],25197,22572160-601,00.html

    Most of the article follows this theme.

  4. I agree with Let it End and others – Howard is picking his way through issues on which to try to wedge Rudd or at least get the rednecks and oldies down at the local club to view Labor as supporting aboriginals, gays etc.

  5. If Possum is right this back flip by Howard could make things a whole lot worse for them – especially if Rudd finds a way to wedge him even further on it.

    Howard will be sweating profusely waiting for the Newspoll – he will be desperate for a 54/46 or better. If the same old 55 or 56 comes then there is nothing left that will work. He has no soul to sell since he did that in 2001 thus further deals with the devil are out.

    This is his last big shot to get some serious momentum otherwise from here on Rudd will win the campaign.

  6. I’m not sure he’s trying to wedge Labor to be perfectly honest. I think he’s just touching on issues which many small “l” liberals feel quite strongly about. This is quite simply because the small “l” liberals are running to Rudd in their droves. It might have more to do with Possum’s “firewall” concept than anything else.

  7. actually misty, morgan varies greatly over a short period of time:

    October 6/7

    September 29/30

    September 22/23

    September 15/16

    September 8/9

    September 1/2

    August 18/19 & 25/26

    August 4/5 & 11/12

  8. With the issues, policies and general disenchantment with Howard and the government I’m not convinced the polls will necessarily narrow. In my many years of following elections and polls I have never experienced a year like this one. So why should the polls necessarily narrow. They may but it by no means a given.

  9. But we’re not just talking about Morgan – which I agree is erratic.

    Neilsen was down too, yes?

    And I’d be surprised if the next Newspoll was above 55.

  10. We all know Morgan polls are a bit dodgy, so let’s not over-analyse this one, hmm? All that needs to be said is that it’s in the same range as all the other polls, which is just fine.

  11. Poor Channel NINE & Howard

    Thursday’s ACA puff piece fails in the ratings.

    3. Today Tonight Seven – 1.298,000

    13. A Current Affair Nine – 1.071,000

  12. 549
    James J Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 12:36 pm
    Can confirm 57.5/42.5 TPP. It is a F2F with >1000 sample.
    Would have been conducted last weekend.

    Basically conducted the same time as their phone poll that gave 59/41. All within the same range. Nothing to take from this poll.

    That primary vote of 49.5 looks pretty stable though and still represents a swing to Labor since August. It might not be the actual level but the trend is the story.

  13. Wow.

    “Coalition set to move on gay rights — but not marriage”

    What are those fearful conservatives who routinely say ‘well I don’t agree with what he’s doing, but he’s a man of principle’ going to think now? Is Howard thinking if he just tries to wedge everyone, including himself, in all directions, something might just happen?

  14. Wasn’t the gay rights decision going to be deferred till after the election?

    Now I’m really curious about the mysteriously unseen internal Liberal party polling in its small ‘l’ Liberal seats.

  15. That gay rights stuff just shows you how unprincipled Howard is. Unless I’m very much mistaken, Howard vetoed this at a cabinet meeting not all that long ago ? So someone tells him there are a lot of gay liberal leaning voters in Wentworth and North Sydney who are flirting with the ALP and he suddenly gets sweet on the idea.

  16. Tabitha said @ # 561:

    “Old Labor Lies freshly told. The Prime Minister is an honourable who has the best interests of this great nation at heart.”

    The only thing that Howard has at heart is Howard

    As Keating said “this is Howard being Howard”.

  17. Matthew Sykes – spot on mate.
    One month ago tomorrow, The Australian published an article entitled “PM Rejects rights for gays.” (13.9/2007)
    It was written by Patricia Karvelas and started with the following line:
    “John Howard has told his partyroom gay and lesbian couples should not be given the same rights as de facto heterosexual couples.”
    That was as recent as ONE MONTH ago. Having pointed that out, I’m still very much expecting a backflip – the wee-man is totally desperate and totally shameless.
    Don’t be surprised if he makes announcements praising boat people for helping their kids to learn to swim by “facilitating intensive swim training on the high seas, assisted by the fine men and women of the Australian navy.”

  18. I can’t stand Howard but I’m starting to feel sorry for him. Its frankly getting embarrassing the way he is changing his mind on things he obviously doesn’t believe in. If he doesn’t want to believe in gay rights or reconciliation, thats his opinion, we live in a democracy, but to pretend to have a change of heart at 5 minutes to midnight … pathetic.

  19. Pancho: I will believe it when I see it. Though this would be catchup politics with Labor’s stance, which has been to put it on the agenda if they win government. There is around 60 or so pieces of legislation that discriminate against gay and lesbians, and the government used its numbers in the Senate to vote against forming a committee to review this but the Democrats set up an adhoc committee to review it. To my understanding the only government senator that sat in on it was Barnby Joyce.

    If this was a real attempt to remove the discrimination, then Howard would have listened to Warren Entsch earlier and did something about it. They also wouldn’t have overturned the ACT’s domestic partnership laws twice.

    Sorry, but none of my friends would vote for him because of this. Maybe the Sydney queens would, but us Melbourne ones wouldn’t.

  20. Let It End @ 541 has it nailed I reckon.

    It’s easy to forget how deeply racist this country seems to be. Although I have to admit that living as I do in middle class suburban comfort with my own business it is easy to say that.

    However a few years ago I was at barbie and standing around the pit we talking sport as one does. I happened to remark that it was terrific that the Olympic Committee had chosen Freeman’s 400m run as one of the great Olympic moments of all time. To my amazement this unleashed a tirade if quite horrible racist abuse from some of the other middle class white anglo celts in attendance. To my shame I said nothing and we moved on to other more congenial topics.

  21. Thanks CTEP for the link. I particularly liked this line:

    “In the weeks ahead, policies around those five policy goals will be enunciated by me,” Mr Howard said.”

    JWH really only likes part of the Crosby-Textor message doesn’t he? where’s the “srong” team? I thought, after September, he was to be hand-in-hand with Costello on the way to a fond hand-over of the reigns of state at some point in the medium term. Like Keating said, howard’s “araldited” to the seat. the Liberal Party can’t put the sword through him politically, so the people will have to take down the lot of them. That’s if he doesn’t trick the electorate as he has in the past. Just because you can only fool all of the people some of the time doesn’t mean you can’t do it several times. This one’s not over yet.

  22. Damien J: You bet me to it in regards to that exact same quote. Where is the ‘team’. No one will remember it during the election. Come 2yr 9months after this election, Howard will announce that Team Howard/Costello will go in to the next election.

  23. Tony “two coats” and Johnny”four faces” are going to the matress in their war against Babyface Rudd and the religious mob.

  24. Will, you should note that Liberal Party MPs, Warren Entsch and Dr Mal Washer took part in the Democrats inquiry.

    I take the report with a grain of salt as it did not appear to invite submission from groups that would not support the Bill, such as ‘family associations’. For me, for an inquiry to be valid it must canvass the views of supporters and dissenters and weigh up these views in makings its recommendations.

    As for Howard’s announcement on setting a ‘vision’. He’s on the right track. Labor is falling behind… I’ll say it again, they needed to start articulating their vision about a week or two ago. They need to set the agenda and have people talking about them, not the other way around.

  25. I think the issue is moving to why Howard wont say sorry if he is serious. AND if he is not careful it could move on to human rights generally.

    The same may happen with the gay rights issue when he does a backflip but not all the way to recognising marriage.

    He will alienate his core bigot support demographic but cast doubt over his intentions when people start asking him about the question of marrige and, if he is really serious. Labor won’t say too much on this of course as they don’t recognise marriage yet either.

  26. I have always been in the “You can tell Howard is lying because his lips are moving” camp. Nothing he could say or do will change my view of him. The ordeal of the last 11 years has been the willingness of the Australian people to “trust” him. When he shifts ground like this on his core dog whistle values won’t the Howard believers finally realise he can’t be trusted?

  27. I wonder what Costello thinks of all this and why we’re not hearing from him? Howard is saying this referendum eill happen 18 months down the line. But isn’t he supposed to handing over to Costello then? What hapended to the team? How can Howard make personal promises he won’t be around to honour?

  28. Agre with last par of 588. Howard is seizing the initiative. History proves he’s good at it. It is dangerous ground for K from H.

    The reason we haven’t heard from Cozzie is that he’s been comprehensively snookered by JWH again. The man must feel like a complete dill, again.

  29. “I think the fact this is being announced so close to the election is going to put an election gloss on it,” she said on Channel 9 today.

    “And it’s a pity it couldn’t have been done at another time when there was that groundswell of community support and people were just aching to see change,” she said.

    Ms Gillard said a similar proposal had been in Labor’s election platform for a very long time, and the party would support the Liberal plan.,23599,22573226-5012863,00.html

  30. re parliament sitting again;

    Has anybody noticed that Costello has been looking like a cat with a secret bowl of cream? The smirky smug smile is positively beaming at the moment… makes me very suspicious that parliament will be recalled, the uglies will introduce some big tax cuts (affordable or not, good policy or not – it doesn’t matter) then run the election on ‘keeping the big tax cuts or not’. Fits in with Howard’s narrative over the past week of ‘still in government, not making election promises’, hobbles in incoming labor government etc.
    Howard is all about legacy management, image shaping and myth building at the moment. He’s going to get wiped off the map, but is trying to manipulate perceptions of his own legacy and seeking to put in place some longer term myths that the uglies can use to build upon over the next decade as they try to struggle up out of opposition federally.

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