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. Flash – as they said on Insiders – how many under 35 voters would be turned from Labor to Liberal by an attack on Garrett? – none.

  2. Love Howard’s thinking on Insider’s. I’ve spent years driving up inflation and interest rates so only I can keep both these managed. Managing it by producing more pork for more roads in coalition seats shows just how out of touch he is. Don’t think he will change a single vote towards the Liberal Party with his manage inflation by increased spending philosophy. Spending like a drunken sailor in the week of the next interest rise is not a smart tactic.

  3. Poor Howard – bumbling all over the country, twitching, losing it, smiling innanely like some botoxed clown. Spraying promises, fear, scare campaigns, pork across the country, on an endless quest for some traction, a modicum of relevance, perchance the silver bullet ….he was almost telling Barry Cassidy to shut up while he fired off indiscriminately hoping to hit something. Its like watching someone in talent contest who cant sing or dance but have managed to convince themselves that one big move, one sustained note might just catch the judges attention…

  4. Despite El Rodente’s histrionics on Insiders, Gaffe Garrett’s goof-off which is now 3 days old, isn’t gaining traction with punters. The Rat King still remains topweight in the Desperation Stakes.

    LABOR 1.28
    COALITION 3.70

    Kinda get the impression that the huge majority of voters are switched-off to all things Johnny. Unabashed Narrowists might disagree but betting markets suggest that these people lack conviction.

    With respect of El Presidente Rodente’s bodgie promise to keep interest rates at record lows, the electorate seems to be formulating a response along the lines of:

    “Don’t piss down my leg, pal, then try to tell me it’s raining!”

  5. There are still three weeks to go in this campaign and even though the Garrett childishness is a worry for Labor at the moment, the dynamics are forever changing and I suspect it will be consumed by weightier issues. Galaxy and Newspoll tomorrow will go a long way to answering the Garrett question I guess.
    Then later in the week there’s the expected LNP big push on the Economy, in the face of a rates rise, to not risk change. Campaign launches in a week/week and a half, blanket Workchoice ads by Labor. Billions in health yet to be announced by both sides. And on it goes.
    For the Garrett stupidity to still be on the radar in 10 days is a bit of a stretch.

  6. On the bookies though, there was an interesting analysis in one of the weekend papers saying that despite Labor’s overwhelming favourite status at a national level, the picture is quite different on a seat by seat basis.

    When averaged out across four bookies, Labor is favourite in just 75 seats – that is, barely scraping into government. When questioned about this disparity, one of the bookies said a lot of punters sling on some cash based on national polls, which, in the same way, may fail to take account of seat by seat variations (notwithstanding Sol Lebovic’s analysis of the Newspoll marginal breakdown as being anything but good news for the Coalition).

  7. When the leading Murdoch Sunday Paper in Perth leads with the death of a Newsreader yyou know Garrett is a non-story.

    Oh and who watches Insiders, aside from the political tragics – not Joe Sixpack. He will be applauding Rudd’s First Homebuyer pledge.

    [But on ABC TV’s Insiders program this morning, Mr Howard said that similar comments by Mr Garrett had been alluded to during an interview between Greens leader Bob Brown and journalist Charles Wooley in early October.

    “It’s not the first time evidence has emerged that he’s said this,” he said.

    “You will find Charles Wooley saying, in effect, you all know that Peter Garrett is saying to Greens and even to some journos, ‘Mate, don’t worry, what we say now and what we do in government will be two very different things’.

    “Charles Wooley did not regard what Peter Garrett had been saying to his friends in the Green movement and even to some journalists as a joke.

    “And Charles Wooley himself said this. So you’ve got the evidence, the testimony if you like, of two journalists … and what is interesting is that Peter Garrett has not denied having said it.

    “I dont think it was a joke, Steve Price didn’t think it was a joke, you don’t joke about things like this.

    “This is dynamite because it reveals duplicity, it reveals a double standard, it demonstrates that the Labor party has been saying one thing to try and calm everybody down.

    “But Peter Garrett is a radical, we all know that.”]


  8. If the Liberals are able to convince the electorate that 9 straight interest rate rises is good evidence of how to cope with inflationary pressures, then their next policy should be to offer people an oppournity to buy the Sydney Harbour Bridge

  9. Steve, I’d like to agree.

    But do you think Rudd will do anything other than a ‘Me Too’ following today’s headline in the Sunday-Mail? Namely, ‘Howard’s $5b gift fo Qld Roads’.

    Yes, according to the AFR, Labor is over $10b UNDER the govt in its commitments, but I’m yet to see Labor making much of this. Since the whole strategy is to shadow the govt as much as possible.

    Perhaps we’ll see them roll out some big ads in the last week stressing how much more frugal they are than the govt, to invert the old paradigm. Not sure it’ll work for Labor hat late. The media’s cynical refrain of ‘they’re all drunken sailors’ is too entrenched. Though being entrenched, it has also taken the much of the bite out of Howard’s bribery.

  10. Wednesday is rate rise day. If I was a jockey riding Labor I would be so tempted to go for home straight after. But we will wait ’til after the party launch and then go for the doctor. The work2choices ads are going to be relentless. But show the nurses faced with AWAs, man are they going to cut through!

  11. Some of that road spending has got the Libs in awful trouble in a seat or two. Do people believe Howard will follow through on all this? What’s the time frame again for all of this to take place and how long will Howard be there. People aren’t silly, well those that are listening. For the others it is sailing straight over head.

  12. It’s time for Labor to give up. “From overseas, Howard looks a winner…
    “Finally, Australia is a country where voting is compulsory. The political analysts here believe that, when you have to vote, you require severe provocation to change the way you last voted, and that provocation is largely absent.”
    (Simon Heffer, The Age, November 3, 2007 (reprinted from The Telegraph):

  13. Graham, it was interesting that Michael Johnson in Ryan was bleeding because of the previous road proposals to sure up Blair. The latest barrel of road pork from Howard is aimed squarely at trying to save Johnson’s bacon. It includes money to fix the Ipswich motorway but is sending over $2 Billion more than what was necessary before Howard stuck his nose into the issue.

    I think Rudd will just sit on what he has already announced The Liberals have already been damaged for almost a year now since Howard began picking favorite backbenchers to support.

  14. A singularly stupid article, I thought, Chris. Shows what happens when you try to follow Australian elections from Britain by only reading News Ltd websites. You’d think someone writing for the Telegraph (not a Murdoch paper) would know better.

  15. Oh and why rely on Charles Wooley, whose show is mainly broadcast to the regional stations who used to broadcast John Laws.

    Re Road Funding – It seems the libs are rewnowned for being anti Public Transport.

  16. Surely it is legitimate for the Age to publish a view from abroad – in a mainstream publication – of the Australian election, however misguided

  17. Thanks steve, like this excerpt from your link, but think that more voters ( cf. preferred PM polls) loathe than love His Shiftyness:

    “Rudd has managed to not make this election so much a choice between Labor and the Coalition, but a choice between Howard and Rudd. And Rudd is just far too popular for the prime minister to beat right now. The majority of the Australian public don’t hate Howard, but they don’t want to vote him back into office….

    That may change in the next 20 days, but it’s impossible to imagine how.”

  18. Oh and according to the Dead Tree edition of the Sunday Crimes – Proin first are directing lower house preferences to El Rodente, cos they’re pissed off with Labor preferencing the Greens.

  19. I also liked Howard’s pathetic attempt on Insiders to “prove” that WorkChoices was announced Liberal policy in 2004, done and dusted, out there for everyone to see in the full light of day.

    He admitted, apparently without embarrassment, that he’d had to re-read his own policy, poring over it to drag out a few scraps of what we now know as “WorkChoices” from a blancmange of half-promises, nudges and wink-winks prior to the 2004 election.

    Instant dismissal repeal we knew about. “AWAs are a good thing” we sort of knew about.

    What we did not know about were loss of award conditions, loss of pay, extra hours at the boss’s behest, 3,000 pages of legislation, safety nets where no safety nets were needed, and all the rest of the WorkChoices industrial relations nightmare.

    What does Howard think the Australian people are? I know there are some slow thinkers out there, but does he take us completely for total mugs?

    To smarmily tell Barry Cassidy that, upon boning up on his own policy documents from the past 11 years with a magnifying glass, he cobbled together advance notice of WorkChoices from a score disparate documents and backwater web sites, is tantamount to telling the Australian people that he swindled us with the fine print. It was so well-hidden that millions missed the major policy plank of the past three years of government.

    Please, oh please Johnny, keep going on this one. Keep trying to tell us that we should have known Earth was to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, if only we’d gone up to Alpha Centauri to see the plans on display, like he had to do himself to find even a half-baked glimmer his own policy. That’ll calm down the punters. It’s their own fault! Sometimes I really do wonder why they think you’re mean and tricky.

  20. They don’t call the Daily Torygraph that for nothing in the UK. It is more jaundiced against Labour than even our own GG (I know it seems impossible that the GG has been out Toryised!).

  21. Chris C – I think the Telegraph is known as the Torygraph in Britain, for obvious reasons. I thought the re-run in the Age was their humour piece for the Saturday paper.

  22. StanS – You beat me to the Torygraph line!

    Adam – It would be but a modest achievement to be better than the Oz. As to The Times, the owner is?

  23. BB – Howard is the master of the fine print, and of the ‘I didn’t actually say that, what I actually said was …’. But you can only play that line so often. And he’s run out of opportunities, I think.

  24. I’m surprised by the ill-informed nature of that DTele (UK) article. The DT UK is actually more the paper of the upper class than the paper of the Tory’s and I’d agree with Adam that it is a MUCH better paper than the Oz or the Times, which is now complete rubbish.

  25. Still waiting for a positive ad message from the Coalition. Perhaps we should run on a book on the date which it will happen. I choose the 14th November.

  26. Bushfire Bill – is the answer to the ultimtate question – ie how many seats the ALP will win and the LNP will lose, is it 42?

  27. Flash,

    Legitimate, yes; sensible, no.


    I am relyng on distant memory so may get this garbled, but The Daily Worker is read by the people who think they should be running the UK, The Times by those who think they are running the UK, The Telegraphy by those who used to run the UK and The Financial Times by those who are running the UK.

  28. @ Sean, your talent quest analogy was a good one. Once again the loser in the contest was Alltip Costello, whose tryout will evidently only feature on the blooper show…

  29. Maxine is still at $2.85 on SportingBet, despite the three damning Galaxy polls. It has been speculated, IMHO correctly, that the price is being held there artificially by Liberal money.

    Can I suggest a project. SportingBet offer a $100 free bet as soon as you sign up with a $30.00 deposit. Bet your $30 however you like, but put your free $100 on Maxine. I have just done this and it felt good! Let’s see if we can get Maxine below $2.00! Tell your friends, pass it on, letterbox, let’s have a Maxine tsunami.


    Alan H

  30. thanks steve for the link. It’s a goody. It works for me. The workchoices add with the guy from Narre Warren is still the best. You nearly cry watching that one.

  31. And The Star, The Sun, The News of the World and The Mirror are read, or at least looked at, by people who neither know nor care who is running the UK. I’m not sure where that leaves The Daily Mail.

  32. Yeah, the ad’s a nice one. No offence Mr Howard, but could you just f%#* off? From what we know, it’s a sentiment shared by all of his own front bench!

  33. Talking of Bennelong, a nightmare scenario was put to me about the election – although I guess it is a dream one for Glen et al…….

    ……Coalition hang on to government by one seat – Bennelong, which is held by Howard by less than 50 votes.

    I didnt laugh.

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