D-day minus 20

• In the midst of the Friday morning poll flurry, I somehow failed to take note of the Advertiser poll of 778 voters from Wakefield. Labor’s Nick Champion led Liberal MP David Fawcett 58-42 on two-party preferred, from 47 per cent to 33 per cent on the primary vote. Yesterday the Advertiser ran a front-page item complaining that South Australia was being overlooked because its three Liberal marginals all looked like foregone conclusions for Labor. One might protest that Sturt and Boothby are in play, but the article informs us that “neither is expected to change hands unless the political stocks of the Government deteriorate even further in SA”.

• Speaking on Lateline on Friday night, Michael Kroger claimed “people in the Liberal Party and around the traps generally” were “more and more confident that the two high profile seats in NSW of Bennelong and Malcolm Turnbull’s seat in Wentworth will be won by the Government” – although Rod Cameron wasn’t so sure. Kroger also rejected talk Labor might have its eyes on Casey and Aston in Melbourne, as their campaign focus was entirely on more marginal seats.

• The Age economics reporter Josh Gordon on the targeting of recent election promises:

In the past week alone, the Coalition has announced a $15 million south coast sustainable regions program (for the NSW electorate of Eden-Monaro), $300,000 for a Beaconsfield Heritage Museum (for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons), $400,000 for palliative care in Geelong and Colac (for the Victorian seats Corio and Corangamite) and $16 million to extend the Tasmanian freight equalisation scheme to include King Island (for the Tasmanian seat of Braddon). Those states with more marginal electorates have generally faired best. Queensland has been the overwhelming winner. It has been promised $878.7 million by the Coalition, including hundreds of millions of dollars worth of road funding announcements. Western Australia has also been the next major beneficiary, with a $405 million plan announced to extensively upgrade Perth’s roads. Victoria, where there are no Coalition seats held by a margin of less than 4.9 per cent, has been promised $238 million by the Coalition, despite its 25 per cent share of Australia’s population and economy. Labor has been just as expedient with its spending plans. Its policy promises tally to about $47.6 billion. As with the Coalition, the vast bulk would be soaked delivering tax cuts. A significant chunk of the remaining cash – about $4.3 billion – would be used to fund spending decisions targeting specific states. Again, Queensland has been the major winner, with more than $2.6 billion on offer. Victoria, where there are eight Labor seats held by margins of less than 5 per cent, would fare relatively better under a Labor government, with about $724 million promised.

• I don’t get too excited about ballot paper placement, but it’s nonetheless interesting to note that Maxine McKew is last out of 13 in Bennelong. Notable candidates elsewhere: long-standing Liberal preselection aspirant Michael Darby running for the CDP in Dobell; former Greens MPs Michael Organ in Cunningham and Robin Chapple in Kalgoorlie; former state Noosa MP Cate Molloy, running as an independent in Wide Bay; and perennial trouble-maker Stephen Mayne in Higgins. No sign of Kelly Hoare in Shortland. In the Senate, former Labor member for Kalgoorlie Graeme Campbell is on a ticket in Western Australia along with former state One Nation MP John Fischer. The fourth Labor New South Wales candidate I was wondering about the other day turns out to be Pierre Esber, a Right faction Parramatta councillor who had long coveted the Bennelong preselection. The all-important Senate preference tickets will be revealed this afternoon.

• Sue Neales of The Mercury reports that “internally, Labor remains confident about winning Bass back from the Liberals … but gloating about a Labor clean-sweep of all five Tasmanian electorates is gone”. This is roundabout way of saying that Braddon is still in play, although the Liberals suffered a blow there this week when the government was forced to delay its much-touted Mersey Hospital takeover.

• There has been a spike in chatter lately about the possibility of the Liberals losing their ACT Senate seat, following recent Morgan results showing the party’s vote at a parlous 24 per cent. With 33 per cent needed to secure a seat, that would turn the second seat into a contest between Labor and the Greens. As territory Senators’ terms are tied to the House, this would mean the Coalition would lose its Senate majority immediately, and not with the changeover of state Senators in the middle of next year.

• Shame on me for not yet having linked to Peter Tucker’s self-explanatory Tasmanian Politics website. Go look.

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.

328 comments on “D-day minus 20”

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  1. Yay I win. Hmm something inteligent ro say. Nothing comes to mind really. Except – Coalition be afraid, very afraid!!!

  2. I’m not sure I would trust anything The Advertiser says 😉

    My Labor spies tell me that Boothby isn’t a lost cause by any stretch of the imagination and that Sturt is definitely in play despite the larger swing needed.

    Definitely two seats to watch on election night.

  3. Yes, and it looks like they’re going to waste a motza and another week raving on about the idiot Garrett. The bloke]s a buffoon, no doubt, but do they really think he would ‘let the cat out of the bag’ if it was a ‘secret’.
    I suspect the electorate are really sick and tired of being taken for fools** and any protracted focus on the Garret goof may prove negative for the coalition. (** Except coalition voters of course, who evidently are)

  4. Do I detect a hint of desperation creeping into the Coalition campaign? If they think Garret’s ill-disciplined comment is going to be the 2007 “handshake moment” things must be grim at Liberal camapign headquarters. If “the narrowing” proves illusory over the next week or two, who will be the first coalition MP to come out against Workchoices in order to save their seat?

  5. Loved the John Saffran thing. What a nasty piece of work Steve Price is. Why would Garrett even give him the time of day, let alone a piece of ammunition like that?

    Maybe Grumblebum is onto something. Perhaps Garrett’s throw-away line was deliberate… It will keep the Howard boosters busy for another week and tempt them into making themselves look even more ridiculous. Janet is at it over in the GG predicting God knows what. Yes. Definitely a clever tactical move from Garrett.

  6. Re Sue Neales, not that she’s wrong, but I’d be suspicious as to how she knows internal Labor sentiment – she’s not exactly ‘in favour’ with State Labor in Tasmania, following her reporting of various State political issues, such as the pulp mill and the builder accreditation scandal. My understanding is that Paul Lennon hates her guts.

    But that’s not to say she doesn’t have a source in the Federal party, or that Braddon isn’t still in play…

  7. This is very off topic but does anyone know how to enlarge the size of the commenter’s printed responses?Since the recent site troubles the print is on the verge of being unreadable for me and I have a big hi res screen.

  8. The betting market response to the Garrett affair is in.

    Labor initially blew out all the way from $1.28 to $1.31 and they are now back at 1.29.

  9. Please god, don’t let Akerman be on Insiders. Although maybe I should get a job at Gitmo – it seems I do enjoy watching torture!

  10. According to the Sun Herald in Sydney a major coalition announcement today on roads aimed at boosting coalition votes in outer metropolitan seats in Sydney and Melbourne.

    Labor have to keep asking, why now when you’ve been in power for 11 years?

  11. The SEC has published a running total of postal vote application which is a step above the Victorian Electoral Commission


    But is is unknown if this is the number of postal vote application received as opposed to the number of postal ballot papers issued and number of postal votes received back.

    we are hoping that the AEC will also publish running daily totals on the pre-polling votes received.

    This information along with absentee and section votes could play a major role in close elections. the provision of the statistics in a timely fashion plays a major role in campaign/scrutiny planning. The failure of the Victorian electoral Commission to provide this information in 2006 *And a lack of due diligence on their part) contributed to the errors recorded in the count.

  12. I wonder how much traction this “We’ll fix up the local roads and get rid of driver hoons” underground campaign is working for the Libs?

  13. re: Maxine being in the 13th position, Yes the donkey vote is worth maybe 0.5% but there is also the reverse donkey vote and what is known as the inverse donkey vote (Voters vote for their chosen candidate then fill in all other squares top to bottom or bottom up) It will not serve John well if he won by such a margin. Either way Maxine might still have a second chance in the expected by-election that will follow the liberal parties loss.

  14. The Sunday Tele in Sydney talks about $20mil in funding to look at extending the F6 freeway through Danna Vale’s Hughes as not really being worth a cracker because “Hughes and Cook are safe Liberal seats”. Cook, yes, but the “rabbit caught in the headlights” look on Danna’s face as she was setting up outside Sutherland railway station on Friday morning would perhaps indicate otherwise in Hughes…

  15. The government is still running very hard with the Garrett thing, with the PM on insiders this morning raving on about it

    He mentioned Charles Wooley being involved now… anybody know what thats about?

  16. John Howard has a very real talent for sincere sounding expressions of worries about boogiemen.

    He really does it quite well. The concerned looking eyes, the tone. A true professional.

  17. Howard on Insiders. Not looking healthy. Twitching, stammering, bloodshot eyes, and going on about Garrett.

    Now he’s going on about technical schools. Wants those of us who didn’t go to private schools to be plumbers. That’ll meet the challenge of China.

    Now the fear campaign on interest rate – US sub-prime crisis … wages surge… No time to hand over to inexperience…. Upward pressure on interest rates…. Interest rates lower than…

    Oh I can’t be bothered…

  18. The Libs are truly desperate, and this is the only thing they can run with. However, it’s extreme negativity, and this has cheesed off voters in this election. It also draws attention to the Libs failure to keep promises, eg, imposing Workchoices. It could also be a dog-whistle for Labor, with small-L libs who don’t see enough difference to vote Labor now perhaps reconsidering.

  19. Howard seems to think that if he refuses to acknowledge that he might lose it can’t happen. Oh, I’m looking forward to his speech on election night.

    Mega is on Insiders. 😀 Shame about the Poisoned Dwarf, but at least it isn’t the toad Akerman.

  20. Just saw Howard on Insiders – looking desperate, spent time on Garrett’s gaffe, but trotted out the old economy scare ‘labor can’t manage it’. Howard got a bit shitty when questioned about leadership change. Howard is casting around for something to get traction. Won’t work.

  21. Quotes from insiders:

    “Howard needs 10000 primary votes a day to switch allegiance between now and the election”

    “No narrowing on the budget, on the tax cuts, on APEC, on the call of the election, what will cause it now?”

  22. News from the trenches:
    Two neighbouring electorates couldn’t be more different in their ministerial (or aspirant) approaches to the electorates. Kingsford Smith ignored by both major parties (nothing from the Libs, 1 piece from Garrett), a very small number of coreflutes, 1 piece from the Greens. Compare this to Wentworth with Turnbull burying it in paper – I heard up to a 10 pieces of paper, including a very nice looking dl size leaflet, a few coreflutes up, although with none of the intensity of the state election.

    Senate preferences should be interesting. Have heard that the LDP (thats the free-market for everything party) have a deal with the Libs, so next time the Libs say “extreme Green” there’ll be a chorus of “but you do deals with the pro-gay, drug & abortion party”. Also Humphries in the ACT not getting a very good flow at all, so ACT looking interesting. Ditto for the Libs in Tassie.

    re Dembo – had heard that in at least one state WWW had a split ticket with the Greens/Dems, but noted that Bartlett in Qld getting starved of preferences. But to be honest, I think the interest is going to focus at the bottom of the preference chain – who’s ahead when it gets down to the last few transfers. Have heard the CDP has done interesting things with their preferences too.

    But we’ll all know soon enough!

  23. Garrett’s not a fool: he’s just not a career politician/political operative. (Unlike many here, who can only see him through such a lens). If anything, Garrett was just voicing the – repressed – hopes of most in the party.

    The obsessional control of even the milk-sop rhetoric that falls from candidates lips, by both party leaders’ offices and party machines, creates this repression and hence the odd ‘slip’ like Garrett, Abbott etc. You don’t have to be Dr Freud to appreciate this.

    On a lighter note, I had to travel the main routes of Bonner y’day by car.
    Counted 6 billboards of Vasta (incumbent Lib). Four in very close proximity, and HUGE. 2 more, side by side, trumpeting Lib brand + anti-unionist slogan.
    Not a sausage from Labor.
    Yet the chatter here and elsewhere is that Bonner is gone.

    Any explanation?
    1. Bonner is not gone, but still in play (But if so, where is Labor’s response – don’t they think billboards work?)
    2. Billboards are booked yonks in advance and for some contractual reason the Libs can’t pull out and put the money elsewhere (But if so why would the Libs be tied to inflexible contracts and not Labor?)
    3. Vasta has a personal campaign pile and is burning it all.

  24. Dennis Shanahan is on to something here with his selective use of the lower number of the MoE to signify a recovery for LNP. Wait till some very small sample surveys with moe of 5 or 6 percent are released.
    He’ll be drooling.

  25. I think that Howard might be onto something in his latest strategy to somehow embrace the looming interest rate rise as a way of highlighting the need for sound economic management when times get rocky. It sounds perverse but here is my logic:

    A lot of voters feel free to shift to the relative unknown of Labor precisely because things on the economic front have been quite cruisey, notwithstanding problems of housing affordability and the rising cost of petrol etc.

    So when you have the focus on economic uncertainty, as you obviously do with a rate rise, voters are forced to consider questions of competence. This explains why it was that Newspoll was the Coalition’s best in ages right after the week when the inflation number came out, which in turn shifted talk to interest rates.

    Please don’t misinterpret this as me trying to push a particular barrow. I’m not.

  26. Flash, the reason the newspoll was good was because it’s probably a low lying outlier, within the MoE. And the economic stuff is a two way street; the latest ALP ad works that theme beautifully.

  27. Flash 45% will agree with you and 55% won’t.
    Swannie nullified competency doubts.

    There is increasing evidence that the populace are understanding that the governent can’t pull the levers to affect interest rate outcomes but also that governments, both state and federal should be doing more for infrastructure and addressing capacity constraints.

    Labor seem to have a more coherent message on productivity and the link to underfunding infrastructure.

  28. Yes CL I agree that the new ALP ad is a masterstroke, especially, as someone noted on Insiders that it adopts a respectful “no offence” tone towards Mr Howard – recognising that voters don’t hate him the way they did Howard, but rather consider that his time is up. In that way, the ad is beautifully nuanced in a way the Lib B-grade horror movie style ads catastrophically are not.

  29. This morning Centrebet have shown the government have blown out to $3.70 from $3.60. So much for the Garret Gaffe shifting momentum!

  30. Yes, you almost get the feeling that Howard is looking forward to an interest rate rise so he can scare the pants off the slow thinkers in the marginals.

    Although the panel on Insiders analysed this pretty well: “Go for Growth” vs. “Be afraid of growth”.

    I have yet to see a senior journalist point out (to his face) any of the following: that Howard claims wage rises are both inflationary and non-inflationary; that Labor will drive wages up and at the same time drive wages down; that wage rise are good for some and bad for others (all of whom are, presumably voters who are expected to cheer for a wage freeze); that a boom is a good thing for the Coalition and that a bust is just as good.

    The journos (Cassidy was the latest this morning) just let him talk over them. Howard even admitted that he had only a few “precious minutes” left to get his message out via the interview. Yet Cassidy just let him rave on.

    One bright note about Insiders: if Howard is looking to Charles Woolley to save his bacon and turn the election around for him, he must be desperate. The Insiders said they had audio, but not audio of the actually woolley-Garret discussion, only audi of Woolley recounting that discussion: the same nature of audio that they have of Price’s recounting. This is desperate stuff.

  31. I’m not so sure about the No-Baseball Bats meme. Howard’s popularity ratings are just about evenly balanced – as many dislike him as like him – while Rudd’s num,bers have a big positive balance.

    Perhaps the entire country doesn’t have their baseball bats out, but as many do as don’t.

  32. The only danger though for Labor in this Garrett thing – don’t you think BB – is that it may have an air of plausibility for those voters inclined to see Garrett as a radical itching to get hold of the levers of government. But I think you are right in that the lack of an direct audio is a problem for the Liberals in terms of trying to milk it. I think they will nag away with the Garrett line for the rest of the campaign but whether it has much traction may depend on whether any other similar chinks emerge to fuel such a perception. For Howard, it represents a last desperate hope, along with the economic doom and gloom scenario.

  33. BB – you’re right on workchoices. It either delivers growth in real wages or it restrains them. Which is it? Out in the suburbs, what matters is interest rates ($$$) and workchoices ($$$), with climate etc a fair way behind. What matters in the Lib heartland seats (which are obviously in play) is climate, refugees, etc.

    Howard is on a hiding to nothing if he thinks the Garrett thing will save him. Their confused economic message is turning out to be a real disater for them, if the journos were smart enough!

  34. Part of Howard’s logic, though, is that an argument based around economic management does not need to be coherent. Who out there in voter land really understands these things, or even wants to? He simply needs to tap into nagging doubts.

  35. I think Rudd needs to hit the Garrett gaffe on the head by bringing out some advertisements listing Howard’s broken promises. Its damn ridiculous that the libs are getting traction on this issue given their record.

  36. Flash – two can play at the game of nagging doubts. And the reality is looming interest rate increases, after 11 years of Lib govt. And WorkChoices is about depressing real wages, as Howard has now acknowledged, and the ALP ad also stresses. Garrett is a tool and needs to be locked away somewhere, along with Ruddock, Abbott, Andrews, Bishop and the rest of the coalition no-hopers, but his silliness may well be a distraction the Libs can’t afford. Anyway, the analogy that springs to mind features straws and drowning people, rather than going for the prize.

  37. Deo, with respect, Rudd just needs to stay on message, which he’s done really well. Feeding the Garrett stuff is not a great idea, especially with the likely events of the week ahead, which the Government will be desperate to avoid!

  38. Deo aren’t you reading anything at the moment? Labor is off and running with its ads and a tax hike seems just around the corner. Besides who said this Garrett thing was getting traction? Did you see Insiders this morning. It was obvious that not one of those commentators believe Howard can win.

  39. What some of you are forgetting is that the Libs will have to fight their own rear guard action against Labor. Labor has so much material to work with it is embarrassing. Besides, I believe the dye is cast and has been for most of the year. Think back at what has been thrown at Rudd. Nothing has turned those polls. Gaffes by both sides are just noise and mean nothing to the average person.

  40. I thought it was odd this morning on Insiders that someone commented that the gaffe had only got traction because it was Garrett who said it.

    I think it’s the complete opposite. If someone in a position of real importance (Rudd, Gillard, Swan) had said it then Labor would be in trouble. But Garrett is already regarded as a firebrand character and this simply serves to reinforce his activist image.

    So IMHO, the fact that it was Garrett means that people aren’t taking it too seriously.

  41. Kalgoorlie is more interesting after nominations and the draw for ballot positions. Not only does Sharon Thiel, the ALP candidate, have poll position at No.1, but the Greens’ Robin Chapple is below Barry Haase negating flow on. There is no Democrat candidate confirming their sad decline. And of course no Graeme Campbell. With the Newspoll swing the seat may be less than 2%. An interest rate rise might get Sharon over the line. Wish we didn’t have to pay more on the mortgage to see Howard off.

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