D-day minus 2

• The Australian has published the latest cumulative Newspoll with state-by-state breakdowns. Most interesting of the state-level results is a correction following a mid-campaign Labor plunge in New South Wales.

• Marcus Priest of the Financial Review on the dispute over George Newhouse’s eligibility in Wentworth (UPDATE: A learned refutation of what follows from Grace Pettigrew in comments):

One option for Turnbull to avoid a new election would be to argue that rather than go back to the ballot box there should be – according to an ancient common law rule – a recount that excludes the disqualified candidate. The High Court has not been willing to do this in other successful challenges but left the door slightly open in the (Jackie) Kelly case, and it has occurred in England before. For this to occur it would require Turnbull to put Wentworth voters “on notice” before the poll that Newhouse was ineligible.

• Having raised genuine concerns about Newhouse, the Coalition broadened the attack to 12 other candidates who websites indicated were still on the public payroll (“based on investigative public records searches”, as Andrew Robb would have it): Sharon Thiel (Kalgoorlie), Mark Reynolds (Tangney), Tony Zappia (Makin), Belinda Neal (Robertson), Yvette D’Ath (Petrie), Ross Daniels (Ryan), Garry Parr (Hinkler) and Shayne Neumann (Blair), Rob Mitchell (McEwen), Alan Neilan (Kennedy), Mark Buttigieg (Cook) and Peter Conway (ACT Senate). Most seem to have had little trouble refuting the claims, Reynolds saying his piece in comments on this site.

• More and worse late-campaign desperation from Lindsay, where Labor operatives have photographed outgoing member Jackie Kelly’s husband Gary Clark and party state executive member Jeff Egan distributing a bogus pamphlet, purportedly from Muslim extremists praising Labor’s support for the “unjustly” treated Bali bombers.

• Meanwhile, Michael Bachelard of The Age reports being contacted by a “Liberal campaign source” spreading smears about Rodney Cocks, Labor’s candidate for the finely placed outer Melbourne seat of La Trobe.

• Michael McKenna of The Australian reports that the Liberals are so alarmed about their outer Brisbane seat of Forde, which outgoing member Kay Elson won by 13.0 per cent in 2004, they have “abandoned their candidate” and told the local to get behind Nationals candidate Hajnal Ban, who has “won traction with voters”. At the end of October, Tony Wright of The Age wrote that Liberal polling from the seat was “whispered to have sent a bolt of fear through the party”.

• A study of Australian voting patterns by the Australian National University’s Andrew Leigh and Oxford University’s Amy King finds that “female candidates in major parties tend to get 1.5% fewer votes than their male colleagues, all other things being equal”.

• Nick Xenophon’s seemingly effortless journey to the Senate has been rudely interrupted by Ann Bressington, the unanticipated victor of a second No Pokies seat at last year’s state election. According to John Wiseman of The Australian, Bressington claims Xenophon “guaranteed that her entry into politics would cost her nothing, only to tell her after she was elected he wanted $50,000”. She has also criticised him for abandoning state parliament just after he became eligible for the pension granted upon 10 years’ service.

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.

1,111 comments on “D-day minus 2”

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  1. Obviously the Lindsay thing is bad news for the Libs. Not sure if it’s a massive vote-changer but it’s certainly a major distraction.
    The State director was reasonable under the circumstances, I thought, in the sound bite. “There are thousands of volunteers, you’ll always have a couple of idiots, we took prompt action as soon as we knew, blah, blah, blah”.
    I didn’t hear Jackie Kelly, but it sounds she came across as a complete moron. And I wouldn’t want to be Mr Kelly (sorry, unsure of his name) tonight!

  2. Wow, what a stupid approach to try and laugh this off – the desperation of the dying.

    What will Howard do? How will he play this one??

    A VERY interesting day coming up

    Enjoy 🙂

  3. And now petrol up to $1.49 in Sydney. The commuter belt will really be feeling the combined effects of this and interest rate rises – will have received new letters from the banks raising mortgage repayments ( Merry Christmas) and higher petrol prices…..if this doesn’t get Kevvie home, one wonders what could?

    Whilst PortlandBet seat-by-seat shows 22 Coalition marginals to fall, I’ll still believe it when I see it ( and I’m no ‘concern troll’ or similar creature). Mr Bowe will be the beneficiary for every seat above 80 for Labor, as well as the ‘Daily Double’ of $100 if Bennelong and Wentworth both fall. Some ‘problems’ in Labor’s Wentworth campaign, but the Greens could yet get Newhouse over the line – let’s see how ‘heavy’ Malcolm’s forces are on Saturday – it could get pretty nasty if they believe it is close. Malcolm still odds-on and deserves to be, given the glossy mailouts which arrived almost daily for the last couple of weeks.
    Go Kevvie, Go.

  4. 31
    Aussieguru01 Says:
    November 22nd, 2007 at 7:33 am

    After seeing so much about the locals from Penrith area. I’m glad I dont live in Lindsey!

    We’re not all thick Aussieguru. I’m in the part of the electorate which is heavily Labor ( St Marys ). This area was added to the electorate in the redistribution. The libs are going to creamed here and they know it. Thats why they pulled this racist stunt. God I hope Australia votes this govt out.

  5. I wonder how much spillover this will have into other western Sydney seats. Greenway is right next door and I know Howard has been campaigning there so I am sure that their internal polling isn’t good 😉

  6. I guess the question is who knew about it.
    If it really was just these guys acting on their own initiative without the knowledge of anyone important (I realise Ms Kelly must have known, but I suppose she’s not that important any more), then it’s a 24-hour wonder. After all the Liberal Party’s already suspended them or something.
    If more senior people knew, this will be a gift that keeps on giving to Labor, even after the election.
    Everyone says JWH never swears, even in private. I bet that modus operandi was tested when he heard about this!

  7. If you were a retailer, would you send people mailouts of your catalog every single day? No, you’d be mad. Not only would it piss people off, it’d make some people curious about your competition.

  8. Re 53,

    BaztheSpaz Says:

    Malcolm still odds-on and deserves to be, given the glossy mailouts which arrived almost daily for the last couple of weeks.
    Go Kevvie, Go.

    Yes, GO Kevin go 🙂 Glossy mailouts in Wentworth probably financed by the EB. If PB’r in Wentworth has received one, what do they say about “authorized by” on them?

  9. I think the Lindsay matter won’t go away all of today and depending how the libs respond could stretch right up to Saturday.

    This close to an election to borrow a phrase the ‘aggregate impression’ is that these guys are a real nasty bunch, which happens to also be true.

  10. Julie,
    Hate to be the class cynic, but I really can’t envisage that Malcolm would be the EB’s cup of tea. Plus he’s got plenty of money of his own – you can run a reasonable marginal seat campaign for a fraction of his net worth.
    That’s one conspiracy theory for which I’d want to see some hard evidence.

  11. Julie did you hear about the EB pamphlet where one of the addresses on it corresponds to a business that has nothing to do with the EB?

    (Heard on abc radio last night. sorry my head is fuzzy).

  12. I seem to recall from my uni days countless episodes of student elections where young libs would do this sort of thing. In fact I remember a few elections where there were no liberal candidates at all but strange new parties with no seeming affiliation to the liberals running against the left and labor candidates. They always seemed to be staffed by people known to be young liberals too.

  13. Newspoll suggests Queensland is looming as the coalition nemesis -albeit only a bit more so than NSW.

    The only good news for the Libs is that the Lindsay scandal has probably distracted attention away from Robb’s ‘Baker’s Dozen’ scam.

    My estimate of Labor 90 seats is starting to look very modest. This may well become a rout. The result may still not be known till about 8:30 because of Qld summer time issues, but maybe Antony can call it earlier because of the swing trends.

    If Stephen (on the earlier thread) is right – that it is still going to be close and will go narrowly to the Libs – it will be living proof that campaigns are absolutely useless in determining how people will vote. I can’t remember a worse campaign in over 40 years.

    I was around in 72. Gough’s oratory and campaigning was flawless and poor old Billy McMahon could not take a trick. It showed, and maybe made Billy look like a worse fumbler than he really was (but he was pretty useless). But he’s starting to look competent compared with this lot.

    Perhaps the Howard era was really a House of Cards, as it seems to be now.

  14. Dyno 50 – Some reasons this failed smear will be big for the remaining time include:

    1. It isn’t a couple of no-name enthusiasts.
    2. The material was distributed from the home and by the husband of the outgoing local member Kelly who is a close confidant of Howard.
    3. There are many genuine questions remaining – eg who else knew, who paid for it, who printed it.
    4. The explanations so far of Robb and today Kelly herself are inadequate, confused and bizarre.

    If there really are still 20% undecided this will will provide 8/10 of them to Rudd.

    Now on AM John Howard in ‘condemning’ the trick makes sure he says ‘wrong to suggest the Labor Party supports the Bali bombers’ Very subtle piece of whistling.

  15. From Daily Telegraph:
    It was clumsily worded and ended with “Ala Akba”, a dismal attempt at the traditional Islamic salute of “God is Great” – “Allah Akbar”

    Ha ha, what a pack of dumb moronic pricks, they were too stupid to even check the spelling, what a pack of losers!

  16. Howard interviewed this morning on News Radio – had a hack at Kelly. Look forward to a huge day on this.

    On a separate issue – Moo – seeing better this morning?

  17. CJS @ 61,
    I think you hit the nail on the head in one respect – the importance of this will depend a lot on how the Libs respond.
    A good response would be:
    Step 1 – acknowledge the problem and implement urgent correction – “totally unacceptable, out of place in our party, the members responsible have been severely disciplined”
    Step 2 – create a bit of a diversion – “will the Labor Party take similar action against the people in Macarthur who’ve been physically attacking Pat Farmer’s campaign” (it’s true that his campaign has been physically attacked though I have no idea who did it).
    A dumb response would be:
    “Oh, it’s just like the Chaser”.
    Based on this morning, sounds like “dumb” might be winning so far.
    Wonder if Jackie will get a personal phone call this morning from her erstwhile friend in Kirribilli House. Maybe with a bit of advice about taking a holiday, till Sunday.

  18. Julie: Malcom is bankrolling his campaign again. I wonder if he would do that in a by-election if he had to.

    Re Lindsaygate: That’s what you get when you use the Carl Rove Campaign Model. I have no sympathy for this, and it smells, looks (and probably tastes) like a very desperate attempt to win.

    Even if the senior Libs didn’t know about it, which I doubt, it will harm the Coalition’s chances to firm up the undecideds. I now believe they will fall 2/1 to Labor as Adam and Antony have said.

  19. This sums it up beautifully what is at stake this election.

    If we do not seize this opportunity for change we will go down in history as the most greedy, gullible, mean-spirited, selfish, short-sighted, tight-fisted generation in the history of Australia.

    How will it feel sitting in front of that $5000 plasma TV watching reruns of American reality shows, wearing clothes manufactured in a sweat shop and sitting on a sofa made by Third World slaves?

    How will that feel when our public education and hospitals have been gutted and our environment corroded to a point of no return? How will it feel knowing we have turned our back on people who need us most: the poor, the broken, the scared, the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable? How will it feel when you turn to your children and say, “I believed him”?

    The link : http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/australians-have-a-chance-to-prove-theyre-not-all-that-bad/2007/11/20/1195321779089.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

    Saturday can’t come quick enough.

  20. Dyno @ 56. ‘Everyone says JWH never swears, even in private’ … That isn’t what I heard – after he was elected in 1996 I remember reading something that came from one of the reporters who was ‘hanging around’ the PM’s office suite in P/house hoping to catch JWH either coming or going from his office. The reporter said he heard JWH throwing a tanty using language that would make a sailor blush….I’ve often wondered if that might have prompted the PM to have his office soundproofed so that his tantrums remained ‘private’ and his image squeaky clean.

  21. Now Jackie Kelly makes the accusation that those poor, harmless Lib ‘pranksters’ were chased down by an ALP ‘goon squad’ led by…you guessed it, unionists.

    Jesus, can’t wait ’til Saturday, I’ve got the baseball bat ready and polished for the occasion!

  22. Sondeo @ 71

    Finally a piece in the MSM that reflects what most of us have been saying for years. Couldn’t have expressed it better myself.

  23. As centralist as this Govt is, it’s hard to believe that all senior Libs really have more than a vague idea of the goings-on in each electorate. The Libs aren’t afraid to muckrake, but they usually do so from a position of plausible deniability. This time, it’s not so deniable, even though the orders probably didn’t come from the top.

    Having said that, the underlings who concocted this scheme learnt their lessons (negative campaigning, race-baiting, smearing, etc) from the master. They just didn’t learn them very competently.

    Maybe it will make a difference to the ‘undecideds’, who must have been the Libs only hope at this stage.

  24. David Bradbury deserves to have a thumping great victory for Labor in Lindsay on Saturday! There was a 5% swing to the ALP in the corresponding state seat in the recent N.S.W State Election, so I’d expect something similar on Saturday for the Federal poll.
    Are we going to get a final poll on Bennelong from anyone?
    And, for those of you in Sydney, La Trioli is doing her radio program today in the seat of Robertson.

  25. #53 BaztheSpaz

    [Mr Bowe will be the beneficiary for every seat above 80 for Labor, as well as the ‘Daily Double’ of $100 if Bennelong and Wentworth both fall.]

    Always enjoy your posts and enthusiam, Baz. You may miss the double with Wentworth, but otherwise will have to fork out quite a lot for seats above 80.

    And as for your earlier post some time back that a big result, including the fall of Bennelong, may restore your faith in God… I’d start dusting off the old rosary beads if I were you for next Sunday.

    I recently heard the final refrain of the 1812 Overture. I love that bit where the church bells ring triumphantly. What a wonderful symbol of freedom the church bells are. I hope they ring very loudly and often next Sunday.

  26. Heh, the Chaser excuse is now running on new.com.au… I wonder how the Bali victims families feel about their loved ones memories being used in such a smear and the people involved then not having the guts to own up and play it off as a ‘prank’.

  27. Howard said on AM that he didn’t know who was expelled from the Liberal Party.
    What! I guess no one told him.
    He will have to field a barrage of questions today and to think he hasn’t been constantly updated on this since the story broke is unbelievable. One must remember that Howard is from NSW as well.
    Lying does become easier with practice.

  28. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a politician squirm as much as Jackie Kelly in the ABC Uhlmann interview. Unbelievable.

    Roll on Saturday night.

  29. From PJK’s article in The Age:


    “Nations get a chance to change course every now and then. When things become errant, a wise country adjusts its direction. It understands that it is being granted an appointment with history. On this coming Saturday, this country should take that opportunity by driving a stake through the dark heart of Howard’s reactionary Government.”

  30. THR @ 73,
    I agree – it seems unlikely that senior Libs wouldn’t have known what was going on. (Unless you define Jackie Kelly – who must have known, surely – as senior).
    The Libs’ State director was actually pretty scathing about it on the radio.
    The key to this for the Liberals is all about managing the fallout today. Getting Jackie Kelly off to wherever Kevin Andrews et al are currently locked up would be a great start.

  31. “One option for Turmbull to avoid a new election would be to argue that rather than go back to the ballot box there should be – according to an ancient common law rule – a recount that excludes the disqualified candidate. The High Court has not been willing to do this in other successful challenges but left the door slightly open in the (Jackie) Kelly case, and it has occurred in England before. For this to occur it would require Turnbull to put Wentworth voters “on notice” before the poll that Newhouse was ineligible.”

    Marcus Priest of the Fin Review is being plain silly. He obviously has not read the case law available on this issue, that goes far beyond the Jackie Kelly case.

    First it is necessary to establish under law that the candidate is actually disqualified under the Constitution. That is what the Court of Disputed Returns (drawn from our constitutional court, the High Court) does in these circumstances. If the candidate is found constitutionally disqualified then the election of that candidate is voided by the court.

    The next step is for the court to order a remedy. There is plenty of High Court precedent on how this must be done for a House of Representatives election within a system of full preferential voting – with a fresh election.

    Priest fails to understand that with first-past-the-post, the ancient and undemocratic voting system in the UK, simply recounting without the disqualified candidate might be passable. But with a fully preferential system as we have in Australia, just removing the disqualified candidate in a House of Representatives election changes the “field of candidates” available to the imaginary voter.

    This means that a simple recount in the House of Reps would not be representative of the will of the people if they were to be presented with a new field of candidates minus the disqualified candidate. Preferences expressed by voters might be radically different under such circumstances.

    The Court of Disputed Returns has made the distinction between the necessity for a fresh election in the House of Reps, because of the full preferential voting system, and the validity of a recount in the Senate, where the ticket voting system allows a recount within a group, in a number of cases, perhaps most recently in Heather Hill’s (One Nation) case in 1999, where Len Harris from One Nation took the disqualified Hill’s place after a recount within the One Nation Senate group.

    Priest’s scenario would not only be radically unlawful, sidelining the High Court in a constitutional matter, it would be patently undemocratic within our modern preferential voting system.

  32. That Greg Sheridan article is just amazing! What drugs is he taking that he could possibly imagine Abbott as the future of the Liberal Party. I’m truly shocked. As for Jackie Kelly, what a nasty little baggage. I hope the Chaser guys pull some sort of stunt on her.

  33. Dyno @ 77. Sorry, I don’t have superior knowledge LOL. The dunny rat isn’t as pure as his projected image and in the early days of his ascension to power in 1996 there were some raised eyebrows in the halls of Parliament House. He was, of course, well protected from gossip by a sympathetic media so nothing really got out into the public arena. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been saddled with him for more than a decade.

  34. dyno my reply
    gusface Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    November 22nd, 2007 at 7:59 am
    this from smh
    “The ALP has written to the Australian Electoral Commission demanding action be taken after Ms Kelly’s husband, Gary Clark, and NSW Liberal Party state executive member Jeff Egan were caught distributing bogus pamphlets in Lindsay portraying Labor as sympathisers of Islamic terrorists.”


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