Toil and trouble

Federal Coalition. Today’s Liberal leadership contest is of course being amply covered elsewhere. I will say only that the 6-to-1 odds on Brendan Nelson from SportingBet look remarkably attractive from what I’m hearing. Warren Truss is set to take the Nationals leadership unopposed following the withdrawal of Peter McGauran. No by-elections loom at this stage, but I suspect they will be happening sooner or later in Higgins, Mayo, Berowra and perhaps Lyne.

Queensland Liberals. The state Liberal Party has been plunged into a constitutional crisis by a four-all leadership deadlock between incumbent Bruce Flegg and challenger Tim Nicholls. Flegg and his three supporters voted down a leadership spill motion yesterday, prompting state president Warwick Parer to declare he must “do the honourable thing and stand down”. The two groups might end up holding separate party room meetings today, each claiming official status. Nicholls is associated with the Santo Santoro/Michael Caltabiano faction of the Queensland Liberal Party, and is supported in the party room by John-Paul Langbroek (Surfers Paradise), Jann Stuckey (Currumbin) and Steve Dickson (Kawana). Flegg represents the moderate “western suburbs” faction and is supported by Mark McArdle (Caloundra), Ray Stevens (Robina) and Glen Elmes (Noosa), at least for now: the Courier-Mail reports Flegg’s supporters are united by animus towards the Santoro faction, and would be willing to back a candidate other than Flegg to keep Nicholls out.

Western Australian Liberals. It had long been understood that the looming federal election was the only thing preventing a challenge against Liberal leader Paul Omodei, and the talk is that a spill will be on next week. On Tuesday the ABC reported that Omodei was about to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to make way for Vasse MP Troy Buswell. Omodei – a dangerous man to be around at times – today told the media any colleagues who did so would be “very lucky if they don’t get a good right hook, and they’ll be lucky to get out of the room standing up”. Like his Queensland counterpart Tim Nicholls, Buswell is a first-term MP. Meantime, former leader Colin Barnett has announced he will not seek re-election for his seat of Cottesloe at the state election due in February 2009. Barnett has told The West Australian he has thought better of retiring immediately, because it “wasn’t the right thing to do and a lot of people in my electorate want me to stay”. His enemies in the Liberal Party say he’ s only staying to block any move to recruit Julie Bishop to the state party leadership by having her take his seat at a by-election.

Northern Territory ALP. Clare Martin and her deputy Syd Stirling have both pulled up stumps and moved to the back bench. The Northern Territory News reports that leadership rival Paul Henderson delivered Martin a “gentle ultimatum” a few weeks ago. Martin accepted this without demur as she had lost her enthusiasm for the job following the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities. Mutterings first emerged last November that Martin’s inaction in indigenous affairs had cost her the support of the most of the Aboriginal members of caucus, and that a challenge by Henderson would win the support of 10 out of 19 party room members. Martin and Stirling have both vowed to remain in parliament until the election due in mid-2009, so it does not appear we will be treated to by-elections in Fannie Bay and Nhulunbuy.

In late election counting news, Labor’s Jason Young is back in front of Andrew Laming in Bowman, if only by 21 votes. The pattern of voting in 2004 suggests Young has cleared his biggest hurdle now that pre-polls have been counted (mostly if not entirely), and should be able to keep his nose in front on remaining postal (where he has performed strongly so far), absent and provisional votes. In Herbert, Defence Force votes have slashed Labor’s lead from 528 to 36: the outlook appears better for Labor’s George Colbran now those are out of the way, but like Bowman it’s still close enough that anything could happen. Liberal member Peter Dutton’s lately acquired lead continues to widen in Dickson, and the Liberals are home and hosed in La Trobe and Macarthur. The only reason McEwen is not on the list is those votes we were told about which were wrongly sent to Scullin, on which I have heard nothing further. Defence Force votes have cut Labor candidate Damian Hale’s lead over CLP member Dave Tollner in Solomon from 718 votes to 427, but he should still get up unless there’s a surprise lurking in the remaining pre-polls. The trend in Swan contains to favour Liberal candidate Steve Irons, now 136 votes in front, although there will be very little in it either way. Anyone wishing to discuss these results is encouraged to use the dedicated threads linked to in the sidebar.

A couple of other seats worth noting. The Greens camp has been talking up a possible late-count boilover in O’Connor, where Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner could theoretically overtake Labor’s Dominic Rose and surf over Liberal veteran Wilson Tuckey on preferences. At the moment Gardiner is some way behind Rose, 20.42 per cent to 18.37 per cent. It is argued that most of the 9.28 per cent vote that went to various minor candidates will go to Gardiner as preferences, although a good many went straight to Tuckey in 2004. The other question is how many of the 6.68 per cent who voted Greens followed the card and gave their second preferences to the Nationals. If the combined 15.96 per cent from minor parties delivers the Nationals 2.06 per cent more than Labor, Gardiner might be in business. In 2004 there was an 18.8 per cent minor party vote that split 7.8 per cent Labor, 5.7 per cent Nationals and 5.3 per cent, but the Greens were running split-ticket how-to-vote cards as opposed to their direct recommendation to the Nationals this time.

A late-count surprise has been a narrowing of Labor’s margin in Flynn, where postal votes have split over 70-30 in favour of the Nationals. This is because postal voting is a favoured method of voters in isolated rural areas, although the size of the gap is still a surprise. Whether or not the Nationals are still a show depends on whether there are more postals to come. Today’s Courier-Mail states that “postal votes were counted today”, which sounds like it means they were all counted, in which case the remaining 590-vote Labor lead should be enough. Pre-polls have in fact been running quite heavily in Labor’s favour, and absent votes are unlikely to buck the overall trend.

Corangamite is now on the AEC “close seats” list with pre-polls and postals having favoured the Liberals 57-43, cutting the Labor lead from 2217 to 767. However, there should be few if any remaining pre-polls and postals, and Labor did quite a lot better on the uncounted absent and provisional votes in 2004.

There has been no significant progress in Senate counting this week, but it might yet be worth keeping an eye on the Australian Capital Territory. The Liberal vote is clear of a 33.3 per cent quota on 34.1 per cent, which will need to drop at least 1.5 per cent if the Greens are to sneak through for an upset. At the 2004 election it actually increased by 0.22 per cent.

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.

1,082 comments on “Toil and trouble”

Comments Page 2 of 22
1 2 3 22
  1. William: The ALP lead in Herbert has increased to 108 votes – check the aec site.
    Do we know for sure these supposed missing 3000 votes in McEwen actually exist? Labor would need just about every one of them to overturn Fran Bailey’s lead: not at all likely!
    Prediction about Turnball I heard from a spin doctor on ABC Radio this morning: he will win the Liberal leadership AND self destruct in 12 months. Tony Abbott waits to pounce LOL

  2. In small rural booths where there was no Green htv.s given out the evidence is that their preferences go all over the place (same for Families First). Tuckey looks secure. I hope Flynn does not turn out to be a replay of Hinkler in 2001 which was very disappointing.

  3. The QLD Libs are an absolute laughing stock.

    Tim Nicholls is just a puppet for Santo Santoro and Bill O’Chee. He can’t even convice 4 of his colleagues that he is a worthy leader.

  4. Might I add that Joh Bjelke Petersen used a casting vote to keep himself in power about 18 months into his term when he was viewed as a hopeless performer too.

    And two proxies pulled out of his back pocket, IIRC.

    [Um, not that I was there ore anything…]

  5. Will Rudd take on the foreign affairs portfolio? McMullan has been mentioned; McClelland is a bit on the nose.

    Rudd would do a good job cleaning up the mess left by his old sparring partner, Dolly the Sad Panda.

  6. Has a PM ever done Foreign as well? Interesting thought but far too much foreign travel, surely, when his stated No1 priority is “working families” ..

    Bob McMullan for Foreign.

  7. ABC Radio says Bob Debus and John Faulkner will be promoted, Laurie Ferguson dropped, Combet/Shorten/Maxine become parliamentary secretaries: rumours as yet, nothing official.

  8. Fagin: I certainly hope not. Sure Rudd would be good in it, but he has a lot on his plate. The work of the PM is far more demanding than Leader of the Opposition. News Ltd has an article with Crean being quiet about the prospect of taking on the FA role. Time will tell, but Rudd can’t take on the role.

  9. The new and progressive direction that Turnbull has layed out for his party of right wing reactionaries should include a name change. The Hedgehog Party is my suggestion.

  10. The Prime Minister’s job is surely too big these days to take on another portfolio, let along one as time consuming as Foreign Affairs.

    I’m hoping for Bob McMullan as well – maybe John Faulkner as an alternative.

  11. Interesting that Costello and Downer missed the farewell barbie yesterday. Lets hope that Costello was busy putting the finishing touches on “The Costello Diaries” … in store for Christmas !

    Does anyone know the record number for women ministers ?. You would have to think that Gillard, Wong, Roxon, Macklin, Lundy, McLucas & Plibersek will give that a nudge.

  12. If Fergie’s gone, that’s a step in the right direction. Jenny George is far more deserving for an ex-ACTU Prez, and she’s never had a real shot.

    Also, just having a few high profile inner cabinet women is not good enough. Keating’s right that Labor’s women have got the right stuff. (I know, I know…..Reba Meagher…..ugh!)

  13. What’s happened in Flynn is similar to Maranoa, another big seat with a lot of solid Nats rurals. In Maranoa, the Nats got 62% of ordinary votes, but 79% of postals.

  14. Johnny was perfectly happy when the Japanese government apologised for something that happened 60+ years ago (under a different regime), but when it came to doing the same for the Aboriginals he was entirely hypocritical. Good riddance rodent.

  15. Landeryou says that Faulker will get defence and that McClelland will keep Foreign Affairs. Crean would then presumably be left with trade. I don’t know how Landeryou knows these things, but he frequently does.

  16. I reckon the aec stats per seat are interesting but useless to work out winners as we do not know how many (if any) postal & pre poll votes are left to count per seat

    because there is no pre polled total number of votes cast per seat or no postal total number of votes cast per seat…is it possible to assess how/who will win any of these close seats ?

  17. No Ron Brown, we won’t know for sure until all the votes are counted. I’d say Labor is a good chance in at least 2-3 of the close seats.

  18. No Costello can’t come back from here. It’s the end for him. If people didn’t think he was gutless before… they will now.

  19. Seems if the reports are correct Rudd has opted to minimise noses out of joint with a promise of promotion to the real ministry for newcomers, wise move in terms of internal party harmony.

  20. Never say Never LTEP, there was no-one more reviled in the late 20’s and early 30’s in Britain within the Conservative Party then Winston Churchill and look how that turned out.

  21. Re: Costello’s lack of courage.

    Dr. John Hewson finally ended the “gentle” metaphors about ticker, guts or whatever. He said Costello didn’t have the balls. Good call, Doc.

  22. You’d think I could spell S u d e t e n l a n d by now.

    I think Labor will win Corangamite, Solomon, Flynn, Herbert and Bowman but lose Swan and Dickson. I think that makes 85.

  23. ” I think that makes 85.”

    As a PB regular, Im shocked to discover Adam is more optimistic than LTEP 😉

    Tend to agree. 85 was my pick, so here’s hoping. Whats the prize again? 🙂

  24. Well I did say ‘at least 2-3’. I feel more confident today, with reports that most of the postals counting has been done.

    Nico, do you have a link the the Sky feed?

  25. Bookies do NOT make a mistake as large as 6 to 1 odds Nelson in a 2 HUMAN race
    Clearly turnbull must have it tied up

    thought Nelson would be easier to Labor to beat in 2010 seeing the Labor margin will be only about 1.5% ?

  26. Ch 10 news was a squib.

    All they know is that new cab members are Faulkner, Eliot, O’Connor and K.Ellis

    Out are Lundy, McLucas, Fergusen, and O’Brien

  27. Verbal #90,

    Why not? Ellis in Adelaide has been a very effective Labor presence there – lifted their vote handsomely. The others I don’t know that well, but they are probably of the same calibre as her.

  28. Flash @46, LTEP et al

    Such Consitutional amendments for ATSI power would have zero chance, but was interesting pie-in-the-sky ideal to ponder.

    The main difference with the other C’wlth countries with Upper Houses on the Westminster system, is that for some reason Australia’s was set up to have much more *real* power. Greatly irritated successive govts on both sides of the political divide ever since. And Aussies refuse to change it, being historically reluctant to *change* anything.

    Gives Australia another unique-in-the-world feature, along with compulsory and preferential voting – a powerful Senate.

    In theory, a great idea of checks-and-balances. In practice, its been a royal pain-in-the-proverbial!

    Now we have someone like Nick X — its just such a typical quintessential Aussie sense-of-humour joke, that I burst out laughing when I saw the probable Senate results 🙂 I suppose in worst-case-scenario, I could live with the concession of banning pokies nationwide in return for other important things, but I couldn’t stop laughing anyway!! *chuckle* and I guess being positive, a big improvement on Harradine! But South Ozzies? Just one question – *why?*

  29. Faulkner will be in Cabinet, the other three in outer portfolios. All good choices. I’m sorry for Laurie, he’s a fine bloke, and shares my enthusiasm for obscure election statistics, but not ministerial talent in the current company.

  30. guess ALL Labor supporters are lucky there ARE 80 seats in the bag guaranteeing a Labor win with 9 doubtful !!

    instead of 75 in the bag & 14 doubtful

    I reckon this is THE BRIGHT SIDE

  31. Why not? Ellis in Adelaide has been a very effective Labor presence there – lifted their vote handsomely. The others I don’t know that well, but they are probably of the same calibre as her.

    She’s only been in for one term, is very young, and has zero life experience outside of student politics and federal politics. Plus her high profile surely has a lot to do with being an attractive young woman. Those are some good reasons.

    I’m not saying she doesn’t have ability, but why shouldn’t she have to do the hard yards like everyone else?

  32. because the 4 that have gone out were all sub-cabinet ministers, and I doubt (though I am happy to be wrong) that there will be room in the major portfolios for those people, especially given that most of the major portfolios are already, really, in the bag.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Ellis has lots of talent and would be a great asset in Cabinet, but I just don’t think that its happened just yet.

    Anyway, I was just clarifiying that we really only know about the Ministry at this point, not the cabinet (to my knowledge anyway). Lots of people use the terms interchangably, and they aren’t!

  33. Rain, the US system also gives the Senate a great deal of power – arguably, the Senate has more power there than the HoR, as the US Senate approves presidential appointments and treaties.

  34. I didn’t even know who Kate Ellis was before visiting this site. She probably has as much experience as Peter Garrett in a parliamentary/political context.

    Faulkner is a no-brainer, as is Wong.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 2 of 22
1 2 3 22