Phoney war dispatches: three long years edition

• The Courier-Mail talks of “a growing belief in Canberra” that the election will be called between tomorrow and Sunday – although there is of course “another school of thought” that parliament will resume on Monday for one more sitting.

• Writing in Monday’s subscriber-only Crikey email, Professor David Flint fired back after this site’s recent name-calling regarding his claims of mass-scale electoral fraud. This time he backed his argument by bringing up the big guns – a union election that happened in 1951:

Mention fraud as a possible factor in elections and you’re said to be in need of psychiatric assistance. Well, tell that to retired judge Frank McGrath, who as a young articled clerk provided crucial evidence of long denied but massive ballot rigging which freed the first of many unions from communist control … (journalist) Bob Bottom says that when the Queensland election was held on 2 December, 1989, there were 28,380 more electors than those on the then separate Federal roll the day before – enough to swing the election … Did this degree of fraud end with Shepherdson? After the last Federal election the H.S. Chapman Society did a spot sample in Parramatta. Curiously, they found it extremely difficult to obtain a copy of the electoral roll. Why? The government legislation requiring enhanced proof of identity on registration only passed the Senate by their agreement to an amendment to deny access to the roll ostensibly to commercial interests. Not wishing to be sent to a psychiatrist, I am led to the conclusion that it was only through an unintended drafting error that this exclusion extended to independent non aligned bodies such as the Society, as well as investigative journalists. In any event, the Society found a number of those enrolled were either unknown or had moved long ago. If these figures were extrapolated to the whole electorate, 5700 names should not have been on the roll. Paramatta, it may be noted, was won by only 1157 votes.

• Kevin Rudd has taken advantage of election date discontent to endorse the increasingly popular concept of fixed terms. However, he has tied this to a proposed extension of terms to four years, presumably secure in the knowledge that this would see it defeated at the required referendum. Rudd is proposing that the referendum not be held until a hypothetical election in 2010, although many are tipping an earlier double dissolution in the event of trouble from the Senate.

Patricia Karvelas of The Australian reports on a split in the Australian Democrats over Senate preferences. Party leader and Victorian Senator Lyn Allison is reportedly seeking a national deal with Labor in the hope that their preferences might get her ahead of the Greens, but this is meeting fierce resistance from branches in other states, where entirely different tactical considerations are in play.

• Some number-crunching from The Australian’s George Megalogenis which I don’t have time to read at this point, but you can take for granted that it’s good stuff.

• Liberal concerns about the south-west WA seat of Forrest were given another airing on Tuesday’s edition of The World Today. One Liberal quoted in the report went so far as to compare the party’s candidate Nola Marino to Nicole Cornes, Labor’s maligned candidate for Boothby. The threat to Marino comes not from Labor but from independent candidate Noel Brunning, television newsreader on WA’s regional Golden West Network.

PortlandBet is now taking bets on the Senate, specifically whether minor party candidates will get up in any given state.

Cath Hart and Samantha Maiden of The Australian outline the geographic distribution of Australia’s Sudanese population, which for all the recent hype is so small it doesn’t turn up on the Bureau of Statistics’ quick-view census tables. Sudanese account for 0.5 per cent of the population in the Brisbane seat of Moreton, which according to its Liberal member Gary Hardgrave is “exhausted” by the influx. Other important electorates in the Sudanese top 15 are Moreton’s neighbour Bonner and the Perth seat of Stirling, the remainder being mostly safe Labor seats in Melbourne and Sydney.

• Saturday’s Fairfax broadsheets brought us six month cumulative ACNielsen polling figures, featuring state-level samples big enough to take seriously.

• Ian McAllister from the Australian National University and Juliet Clark have published a self-explanatory monograph entitled Trends in Australian Political Opinion: Results from the Australian Election Study, 1987-2004. Consisting mostly of charts and tables drawn from Australian Election Study data, findings that caught the attention of the media included the growing number of swing voters and late deciders.

• More bedtime reading from the Parliamentary Library, which has published its socio-demographic electorate rankings from 2006 census figures.

• Robert Taylor of The West Australian reported on Tuesday that WA Premier Alan Carpenter might call an election in the wake of the federal poll, a full year ahead of schedule. This would take advantage of the Coalition’s present state of disarray, as well as the looming confirmation of one-vote one-value electoral boundaries that are likely to swell Labor’s parliamentary ranks. The West also brought us a Westpoll survey of state voting intention which had Labor leading 56.4-43.4, down slightly from 58.4-41.6 a month ago. This was from the same sample that gave federal Labor a lead of 53-47 in the poll published on Saturday.

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.

201 comments on “Phoney war dispatches: three long years edition”

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  1. Arbie Jay: “he could have been discovered 50 years later and exhibited in a museum as a mummified relic of a fossilised monarchist from a distant age.”

    Who needs to wait 50 years for him to be that? 😉

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