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. This won’t help Howard.

    [Economists say a lower than expected unemployment rate in September will add to the case for another interest rate rise.

    Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2 per cent seasonally adjusted last month, the lowest level in 33 years, after economists had expected it to remain steady at 4.3 per cent.

    Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show 13,000 jobs were added to the labour market in September.

    HSBC chief economist John Edwards says the low figure will put upward pressure on interest rates.

    “It’ll support the central bank’s view that the economy is probably accelerating, and almost certainly it means we’re going to have an interest rate increase. Perhaps more than one,” he said.]

  2. Re that other thread – the list of Australian PMs. I was surprised how many PMs seem to have been named after electorates.

    I think if Rudd wants to win he should consider changing his name to Franklin Grey Boothby.

    OK, OK, it won’t happen again…

  3. Wow, didn’t see this coming. Nick X for the Senate.

    What’s the quota needed for a Senate seat? 17% or so? That’s 150,000 votes or so. I recall he got over 200,000 in the state election. A lot of Democrat votes will defer to him.

    Would be a tough ask for Nick, but I reckon he has a decent chance – unlike the State election, one suspects the major parties won’t be foolish enough to refuse to pass preferences on like they did in the state 06 election.

    He’s got my vote – there are a LOT of people out there who don’t want to vote for the major parties, but despair at the thought of the Greens getting the balance of power. This has made the Senate campaign a helluva lot more interesting. I imagine the ’tiser will back him as well – for what it is worth.

    Finally, there’s a good reason to live in SA.

  4. ShowsOn Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    “[SOUTH Australian independent MP Nick Xenophon is quitting the Upper House to run for the Senate at the coming federal election.]

    Xenephon has a chance of getting a quota by himself. He is hugely popular here as a kind of anti-politician politician (as oxymoronic as that sounds), but he is also constructive who has done deals with both the majors in the upper house.”

    Not so oxy-moronic, Shows On. Xenophon is aptly named, it means a foreign voice, or the voice of a foreigner.

  5. Looks like Glen’s sister is joining the bloggers now. At least she uses comma’s and full stop’s.

    {The labor has spend as much or more thru the union movement,it seems most people think it is ok,as it is not the labor party spending,if the union didnt spend your fees on advertising,may be the coalition wouldnt spend so much against all the crapp the unions are advertising.

    marie }

  6. [Wow, didn’t see this coming. Nick X for the Senate.]

    FYI, William has started a new thread on Nick X’s run for the Senate.

    I reckon with this, and noel Brunning giving thevLibs a scare in Forrest, I predict once the Election is called, there will be an increase in the number of Independents running for Parliament, and thus making things interesting.

  7. I like the idea of Labor boycotting Parliament, should it be recalled. They can just argue that the Parliamentary term is up and then start popping up everwhere in marginal (and safeish Liberal) seats kissing babies and making lots of policy announcements.

    Meanwhile, back in Canberra, Howard and co are shouting amongst themselves…

  8. Hugo @ 144

    Re: … “deadly politician …” Spot on. A myth. Created and promulgated by a compliant media over 11 long years.

  9. So does anyone think that the Libs taking over Royal North Shore will have an impact on the momentum of the campaign? Assuming that this occurs of course.

  10. [So does anyone think that the Libs taking over Royal North Shore will have an impact on the momentum of the campaign? Assuming that this occurs of course.]

    The government is bailing out ROYAL NORTH SHORE hospital!? Doesn’t that just demonstrate what a terrible state they are in.

  11. ShowsOn

    Someone else mentioned (maybe on another thread) that they were at a community meeting last night and Hockey made a comment about having things ‘planned’ for RNS. My assumption being that they would take it over.

    I’m not sure how the Mersey thing worked, but given that the Terror has worked itself into quite an impressive lather over this, surely the Libs would see votes in it. I guess the question is would it help them in any seats but Nth Sydney.

  12. II have read this blog for over 6 months now and observed the level of political discourse with an itch I couldn’t scratch. Today an interview on ABC Radio had an academic arguing that the post Westminster system of democracy that occurred after WWII is being rapidly eroded.
    According to his work Australia and Italy is where democracy is disappearing the quickest.
    His argument goes that this erosion takes place with governments become fixated on winning elections over extended periods instead of governing. To do this they muzzle dissent by attacking denigrating those institutions that hold them accountable, fostering a sense of cynicism towards the very institutions that protect us from government excess. They convince the populace that they are the lawmakers and make laws that cannot be scrutinised and leave us feeling they are for our own good. They are populist, making policies that are divisive and clearly aimed at soothing “the battlers”.
    His conclusion is that the level of cynicism being generated in the electorate will eventually lead to the death of modern democracy.

    The posters on this site can quickly identify the offenders of all political stripes.
    So as we anticipate polls, the election and the make up of the next parliament I am left looking for a leader that will perhaps change this cycle.
    For this reason alone Howard must go though from what I have seen of Rudd he is just like Howard. However some great reformers have had less inauspicious starts. I therefore live in hope he truly is a man with whom the buck stops and he can break the political spin cycle.

    PS. When I find the interview I will provide the link.

  13. Martin B, Heiner himself said last week that his enquiry never touched on the alleged “rape incident”.

    True, although a Michael Roch has testified that he did tell Heiner about the rape.

    His evidence was clearly inconsistent, and Heiner is a far more credible source on this matter. However it’s not the case that there is no evidence, just no good evidence.

  14. Ok, I give up.

    Why do the Libs imagine this silly cockeyed hospital takeover “policy” (and I use the term very lightly) is going to play well, anywhere on the Australian continent, or even its historical offshore detention centres like Tasmania?

    Are they blind? cant they see it looks to everyone like the very antithesis of a sensible, coordinated federal policy response? Why are they wasting their time on ALP strongsuits like health?

    Beats me. But hey, its their electoral funeral. See if I care.

  15. Hugo (144) – totally agree with your summation regarding the myths surrounding Howard. He is just floundering around like he’s done all year trying to get some traction. This is no political genius at work – if he was that he would have seen the writing on the wall by now and passed the poison chalice on to Peter Costello.

  16. [Why do the Libs imagine this silly cockeyed hospital takeover “policy” (and I use the term very lightly) is going to play well,]

    Won’t most people think “Well, if you are going to take over 2, why don’t you take over the other 750?”

    If it is done on such a sporadic and opportunistic basis people will just see through it.

  17. Xenophon running is very bad news for the Democrats, but good news for anyone who wants non-government control of the Senate. Every strong third party and independent candidate can whittle just a little bit more off the majors. I mean, there’s a chance SA could go ALP 2, LIB 2, Xenophon + others 2.

    If Tasmania went 2 Green, we could be looking at an unprecedented “demise of the majors” senate election.

    Although its also just as likely to be a wipe-out for the third parties this election (ALP/LIB 3/3 each).

    All this says to me is that we need a larger senate chamber (or a nationwide senate vote instead of 6 per state) – there are so many strong third parties and independents it seems a shame they are all competing for the last senate spot, especially when the top five are usually filled with time wasting seat warming ALP or Lib lackeys.

  18. [ALP 2, LIB 2, Xenophon + others 2.]

    Um, wouldn’t that be 7? 😛

    [If Tasmania went 2 Green, we could be looking at an unprecedented “demise of the majors” senate election.]

    I don’t see the greens having any hope of getting 2. They would need 1 quote on their own then a bunch of preferences. Surely 3, 2, 1 Lab, Lib, Green is the likely outcome in Tas.

  19. The drop in unemployment does indeed add to the case for an interest rate rise. Watch this pagelate this afternoon to see how market expectations of a November rate rise have changed today. This graph tracks expectations of a rate rise further ahead.

    At close of trade yesterday the cash rate futures implied a 45% expectation that rates would rise in November, and a 71% expectation of a rise by December.

    Notwithstanding the RBA Governor’s statements, I think it’s most unlikely that the RBA Board would raise rates during the formal election campaign if it could possibly avoid doing this. At the 6 Nov meeting it will be easy for the Board to decide to wait a month. But the pressure for a rate rise by the 4 December meeting may be inexorable.

    I think the prospect of a December 8 election must now be off the table. I’m still going for 1 December, but can’t pick whether Parliament sits next week or not.

  20. I don’t think the announcement will be about the RNS per se. I think it will be broader than that.

    I think it will be anannouncement of a completely new way of organising Health in Australia and will require legislation.

    Hence we’re off to Canberra next week.

    Though I must admit I like Rudd’s use of the 4 year term thing – it nicely highlights Howards refusal to call an election without making Rudd look power hungry.

  21. Dembo, Labor just need 43% in the 1 box (or less but with prefs) in the Senate to ensure that 3 get up. I think they can do that!
    As far as the “time wasting seat warming ALP or Lib lackeys” goes, what nonsense. I want the candidate of my choice to vote according to stated policies of his party. Inds don’t have a monopoly on conscientiousness.
    Who knows how an Independent will go. Just look at Fielding (bribed with chaplains!) and the Dems from a few years back. In fact, most Dem voters thought that the Dems would vote down the GST. Fools them.

  22. The employment data wasn’t as clear cut as some suggest.

    It was only +13K jobs, when the market was looking for 30 and there were -17K full time jobs.

    To me the employment data re-inforces a likely December rise, not November (allowing for CPI).

  23. Yeah, I’ve often wondered what would’ve happened if Kimbo in 1998 had’ve followed the Keating strategy of 1993. That if the public votes for the GST – then Labor will vote with the government in the senate to ensure its passage. That being the democratic will of the people. That worked very well for Keating in 1993 – it surprised me that it wasn’t tried again. Maybe Mr. Howard would’ve been a oncer.

  24. hmmm Howard will announce he’s taking over ALL the hospitals and that can chug along nicely during the election campaign, seeing he’s claiming right now that any announcements made before the start of the election are government announcements and binding.

  25. Paul K @ 166

    Is punctuation a commie or a religious plot to gag the masses? Or is it a set of evolving guidelines to best allow people to communicate? Your sage comment on this subject is eagerly awaited.

  26. Derek,

    I’d be happy to provide some sage advised but I’m not an expert on Herbs. However I can tell you that sage is a garden and pot herb which is native to the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Apart from that I know very little about sage.

  27. From a friend in Canberra, who has a friend in the press gallery: Howard to announce election tonight at 6pm???

    From what I’ve read in Crikey today, Howard is doing a Sydney speech.
    Maybe people adding 2 plus 2 and getting 5.

  28. Adam said;
    //Xenophon if elected will be the first federal politician whose name begins with “X”. //

    Personally, I’m hoping ‘Huge Schlong’ gets up in Warringah 🙂 🙂

  29. At the 6 Nov meeting it will be easy for the Board to decide to wait a month. But the pressure for a rate rise by the 4 December meeting may be inexorable.

    The retailers will not be please about having a rate hike at the start of the frantic 3 weeks before Christmas!

    ABC Brisbane radio has been getting calls from listeners claiming that John Howard has left a message on their answering machine.

    Please , please tell me the message is that he’s resigning from parliament immediately, giving his pension to one or more worthy charities and entering a Mad Monk recommended monastery where he will remain for the term of his natural life in penance for his sins! 😉

  30. I think Dec is most likely (see my “guest” article at but there is a chance of a hike in Nov.

    For Howard the scariest thing is that if there is a hike in Nov there could be a 1-2 punch with one in Dec as well – but that is very unlikely.

  31. October 11, 2007 05:50pm

    PRIME Minister John Howard will announce plans tonight to hold a referendum on inserting a reconciliation clause into the Constitution.

    A Government source said Australians would be asked whether they supported adding a clause on reconciliation into the Constitution.

  32. “Scorpio … And you need to learn how to use apostrophes.”

    You mean these things,”””””””””””””

    I prefer to use these, {{}}{{}}{{}}

    They stand out more.

  33. My absolute favourite Flint story is of when he was presiding over an ABA licensing hearing in Bathurst. Because of a lack of facilities it took place in the function room of a motel. Flint insisted on being all judicial and pompish and thus needed to enter the room with due ceremony when everyone had assembled. The only place for him to go was a cupboard, so he waited in there till it was time to make his grand entrance.

    Love it.

  34. 161
    ShowsOn Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 2:50 pm
    [Scorpio … And you need to learn how to use apostrophes.]

    {1/3 isn’t bad!}

    Yeah, thanks for that, ShowsOn.

    I think when people realise that I don’t comment on other posters mistakes on “this” site and acknowledge just how easy it is to slip up, they might concentrate on the subject at hand and discuss it.

    I did inadvertently mention Glen but meant no malice towards him as I find his posts extremely entertaining.

  35. Whilst I am aware that their are many rooms in my father’s house, I hear little mention that the overcoats are evenly distributed. Could anyone with the wisdom of Solomon explain what in heaven the Abbott is talking about?

    And yay, SA, great to be in, sometimes. Nick will romp it in! Good move.

  36. Extraordinary isnt it? One day he’s signing Kyoto 2, the next its the importance of symbolic reconciliation.

    Just goes to show our Rodent doesnt really believe in anything; never has.

    Just an opportunist; swinging wherever the votes go.

    Well, its too late for you, J Ho. 7 weeks and counting!

  37. Lom @ 192

    Pity someone didn’t lock the cupboard door, then they could have retired to the bar and left him there, he could have been discovered 50 years later and exhibited in a museum as a mumified relic of a fossilised monarcist from a distant age.

    Beedle @176

    Howard gave another $50 million to put more chaplains in private schools, $175 million so far for the chaplains.

    $175 million would have done a lot of good on the hospitals, or to GP’s to lift the bulk billing rate, either way it would have relieved some of the pressure on the system.

  38. One of the best things going for Labor is the number of large roadside ads featuring JWH saying that ‘Australian working families have never been better off’.
    Was this a monumental memory lapse and indeed a sign that “Howard is well past his Prime”, or what?
    I seem to recall that Whitlam made a similar gaffe about australian farmers, and that Harold MacMillan made a similar claim before momentously losing the UK election in the early sixties!
    No matter how hard this is debated the ‘rose-coloured glasses’ syndrome will always have most people thinking that ‘the good old days’ were better than today despite the bigger homes, flat screen Tv etc (and the huge mortgages that go along with the ‘better’ life) life is much tougher..

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