A classic from the vault

Time for a new thread. For the want of anything better to hang it off, I hereby reprint my piece in Crikey last week on prospects for the Senate. This does not mean discussion on this thread need be relevant to this topic.

Like so much else this year, speculation about the Senate election has been guided by “the narrowing”: that mystical force that would drive swinging voters to the Coalition once the campaign focused minds on economic management. It’s now clear to all but a dwindling band of die-hards that this hasn’t happened and isn’t about to.

It is thus necessary to revise the view that the Coalition will be strong enough in the Senate to make life difficult for an incoming Rudd Government. The Liberals and Nationals instead find themselves in danger of losing a swag of seats, which opens up a dizzying range of possibilities for the Greens.

A case in point is Kerry Nettle’s bid for re-election in New South Wales. Earlier in the year it seemed safe to assume there would be a traditional three-all split between left and right, with Nettle fighting a probably losing battle with Labor’s number three, Senator Ursula Stephens. In that context, any improvement in the Labor vote would have been damaging for Nettle. Now it seems Labor might be strong enough to win Stephens a seat without excluding Nettle, perhaps even bequeathing her a measurable surplus as preferences. That would boost Nettle’s chances of overtaking and defeating the Coalition’s third candidate, Senator Marise Payne.

The story is similar in Victoria, given that Labor and the Democrats have thought better of repeating their 2004 preference exchanges with Family First (who nonetheless have a vague chance if they can match their vote at the state election).

There has been a further stroke of good fortune for the Greens with the entry of independent Nick Xenophon in South Australia. Such is Xenophon’s popularity that he looks likely not only to win a quota in his own right, but also to deliver the Greens a substantial surplus. This could help their candidate Sarah Hanson-Young overcome the third Labor candidate, Cathy Perry.

Bob Brown should have no trouble winning a seat in Tasmania, the question being how the remaining five seats will divide between Labor and Liberal. There is familiar talk that Brown might do well enough to also carry running mate Andrew Wilkie over the line, but this at least seems a little too optimistic.

The two states where Labor’s strength does not help the Greens are Western Australia and Queensland. Western Australia does not look likely to produce the huge swing required to cost the Liberals a third seat, so a strong hike in the Labor vote has the potential to squeeze out the Greens. Nonetheless, their candidate Scott Ludlam remains the firm favourite.

Labor is also becoming hopeful of winning a third seat in Queensland, which it has never done before at a six-seat half-Senate election. On the other side of the ledger, there is a chance that the Coalition will lose the seat of Nationals Senator Ron Boswell to Family First, who will harness the entire right-of-centre vote if they get ahead of Pauline Hanson. It’s hard to see how Hanson herself could put a quota together, despite all that has been written about her minor successes in preference negotiations.

The remaining wild card is the Australian Capital Territory, where Greens candidate Kerrie Tucker threatens an historic win at the expense of Liberal incumbent Gary Humphries. This would be especially significant because territory Senators’ terms are tied to the House of Representatives, so that an end to the Coalition’s absolute majority would take effect immediately.

While it is likely that not all of these potential Greens wins will come off, they will probably have around five Senators joining the two continuing from the 2004 election, to be joined on the cross benches by Nick Xenophon and continuing Family First Senator Steve Fielding. The Coalition will be reduced from its current majority of 39 seats out of 76 to around 35, while Labor should increase its current 28 seats by four.

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.

1,322 comments on “A classic from the vault”

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  1. Ron Brown

    I hope you’re not trying to advocate censorship. So what if parts of the media are right wing. I think you’ll find Howard hasn’t just stayed in because of the media. Latham gave away the election last time and I don’t think you can blame the media for that.

  2. If any of you are seriosuly contemplating nukes as a solution to anything (except declining corporate profits and a decline in rampant rorting of the public purse) I respectfully suggest you read Ian Lowe’s recent Quarterly Essay on the subject.

    I might also suggest, dear GP, that you consider that we don’t have to rely on soalr for all our power (although it certainly has the potential to probably provide most of what we need). All we have to do is substantially reduce greenhouse emissions now and de-carbonise over the next, say, 20 years. We can get power from gas (much lower GG emissions than coal), tides, wind, hydro, hot rocks and probably cow droppings if we want to (Go Mad Cow, there’s a new sideline for you the the girls). All we have to do is invest a bit and it will happen, as sure as there will be more 35 degree plus days in Melbourne this year than you can poke a stick at.

    BTW – you can buy green power already at a premium of about 20%. We do it at Chateau CL here in trendy green Footscray. A lot of it is hydro (now) but if the money comes it will all be wind, solar, tides and rocks in a few years.

  3. Jenny at 1271.

    Referencing What the Papers will say. Fin Review will do a piece tomorrow.

    Execs milking money. Boards, ways and means of getting their hands on the money. Differentials, averages.

    We are supposed to be rolling in it. So exactly why is that the big money goes ever upward? And the qualified young, or even older, get nothing, unless they leave our shores?

  4. Latching onto nuclear power was the stupidest thing (apart from WorkChoices, of course) that Howard ever did.

    After the Chernobyl disaster, it’s about as popular as syphillis with the general public. No-one, but no-one, wants a reactor within a bulls roar of them.

    Bringing it-up, even a a policy option, was insane, “safe” waste disposal technology or no.

    In regard to the latter, I note one poster above suggesting the following waste disposal option: “I beleive a “mag lev gun” is being built which is capable of shooting large objects well past earth orbit with little power needed….”

    Hmmm. I think NASA looked at launching high-level radioactive crud into space a few years ago, but dropped the concept once some genius showed them a few videos of their rockets blowing-up on the launch pad or shortly after launch (Challenger anyone?). What happens if the gun fails on launch the payload properly? I guess lots of people in the area are gonna need to wear lead long-johns or the next century or two.

  5. No 1305

    So what’s your solution Crikey Whitey? It seems to me that you want a planned economy such that you can confiscate the wages of a few millionaires to satisfy your divisive notions of class warfare.

  6. [So what’s your solution Crikey Whitey? It seems to me that you want a planned economy such that you can confiscate the wages of a few millionaires to satisfy your divisive notions of class warfare.]

    You’re a great fiction writer.

  7. “1299
    Generic Person Says:
    November 21st, 2007 at 12:52 am
    No 1290

    Politicians have and always will talk in equicovations. John Howard is no different to any of his predecessors, and nor is Kevin Rudd any better.”

    So are you saying in this instance that Howard is equivocating and that the Liberals probably intend to build nuclear power plants?

  8. GP,

    I work in the Power Industry and you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a complex subject but we could don’t need Nuclear and we could phase out coal if we really wanted to, but there are too many vested interests. In 10 years from now Solar will be the cheapest energy around. Some of the technical advances in the pipeline with both Solar and Tidal are amazing. And there’s enough hot rocks in South Australia to power Australia for the next couple of hundred years.

  9. 1307
    Generic Person Says:
    November 21st, 2007 at 12:57 am
    No 1305

    “So what’s your solution Crikey Whitey? It seems to me that you want a planned economy such that you can confiscate the wages of a few millionaires to satisfy your divisive notions of class warfare.”

  10. Cl Shows On

    The amount to be spent on Nukes $250 billion dollars should not be committed without first looking at the alternatives.

    The two other things about Nukes.

    One, people have a right to know where the plants are going to go, the sites have been picked out, it is one of the main policies of the libs along with Work Choices and we should be told where these sites are before, not after, the election.

    Two, Howard in all his speeches promotes deregulation, as in the quarantine service and Equine Flu and fire ants, as in Work Choices,as in the health system as in OH&S. You cannot have deregualtion and a Nuke industry.

  11. Ok, so it’s an alternative energy debate is it? The nation with the world’s longest coastline has at its disposal a ceaseless, throbbing, pulsing, heaving (no, this is not a sex blog), relentless, thrusting, inexhaustible source of energy called WAVES. We’ve adapted to these breakers in a cultural sense, we surf then, and swim and frolic amongst their foamy exuberance, but for Christ’s sake if there a few more pesos thrown at this issue (there a trial in Freo I believe) we’d have a base load to end all base loads, so every body, let’s surf to success on a wave of mutilation (apols to the Pixies).

  12. From Richo.

    [FORMER Labor number-cruncher Graham Richardson has picked the result of every federal election for the past 30 years – and has picked Kevin Rudd to win on Saturday with a record swing.

    And the former ALP senator and factional heavyweight-turned political commentator also predicts Prime Minister John Howard will lose the Sydney north shore seat of Bennelong, which he has held since 1974.

    “I think people have just stopped listening to John Howard. He just stayed too long,” Mr Richardson told the Nine Network last night.

    “I think it (a Rudd win) is a probability rather than a certainty but it leans more to a certainty, I guess.

    “I’d say he’s going to win 20 seats, and that’s a lot.

    “You’ve got to remember that historically, this means the biggest swing Labor has ever achieved in its history by a long way.

    “We need 4.88 per cent to win. I think Rudd will get considerably more than that.

    “It’s likely to be something like six or seven per cent, and that’s extraordinary.”]


  13. GP @1278, I wrote this up at length before, but just for you, a summary..

    The most cost effective solar power system currently is the linear fresnel array (google it) and this is what is now being scaled up to hundreds of megawatts in california. the energy storage system is called ‘molten salt storage’ (google is your friend).

    The next most interesting solar technology is is called solar thermal updraft, or solar tower for short. This has the advantage of a 100 year plus lifetime. We were going to have a 200MW tower built in australia but the backers pulled out thanks to Howard playing silly buggers with grants.

    The other nice thing about solar towers is, they have inherently a huge thermal mass. Can you say baseload? Yes you can.

    The one and only solar technology that is home grown and has had minimal government backing is the solar photovoltaic concentrator concept. Now this system does not have inherent energy storage but it can be backed up at modest cost with a large vanadium redox battery. (Again, home grown, but developed overseas thanks to Howard starving funds from universities).

    Then there is wind power. The detractors of wind power point to ‘capacity factor’. This is true of one particular site, but statistically and over a large enough area (such as Australia) the capacity factor can exceed 99%. Don’t believe me, go ask the CSIRO.

    Then there is geothermal. We have huge resources here in Aus. Some here in the hunter valley. I’m not going into detail here, but the engineering is now very well understood.

    Then there is biomass (which we have a lot of and even more potential for). Baseload? Yep sure.

    And lets not forget that coal stations aren’t 100% reliable. That’s why we build some redundancy and some gas fired stations into the mix in any case. The same goes for solar/wind/etc + gas backup.

    Then consider this. Baseload, the stuff we need even at midnight, is about 20% of our current generation capacity. Even without clever ways to shift useage to other hours of the day, we can quite happily replace every other coal station with solar TODAY, and still have baseload capacity 20 years from now.

    So yeah. Sorry. Argument is toast. Solar is todays technology and there is billions being invested in it in the US and Germany. we in australia are missing out. One should pay more attention to what Garett is sayng about opportunity.


  14. Nice title.

    ‘Dirty dozen’ smear on ALP candidates
    “John Howard was forced to spend most of yesterday insisting he had no plans to take Work Choices further as the Liberal Party tried to smear a dozen Labor candidates by implying their nominations were invalid.”


    Because the “right wing” press headline a red herring story about 13 ineligible labor candidates , labor bloggers get sucked in to talk or worry about it. Rudd will ignore it and stick to the main game….so should Labor bloggers (ie. ignore it also)

  16. The funniest thing about the whole candidacy issue is that it shows how the Liberals are just sore loses. I mean, they haven’t even LOST and they are already acting like sore losers!

    I guess that’s what happens when you think you are born to rule. Even the threat of losing is an affront.

  17. workchoices- say it loud and say it proud, if its still in the headlianes by friday there will be a smashing like we are not yet seriously contemplating.

    Libs making this election a referendum on unions role in community and ALP making it a referendum on Workchoices.

    Libs will lose both.

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