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”

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  1. 855
    Crikey Whitey Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 9:37 pm


    ‘HOW TO GET TO SORRY’. Suggested Action Plan, Time Line.

    COMMENT on appointing an Aborigine as GG
    Sorry Crikey , terrible idea
    I can not think of much more insulting to Aborigines
    because the position of GG is symbolic of the very British Empire that in
    Aboriginal eyes invaded their land

    COMMENT on direct election of a President
    Neither party agrees because it ‘implys’ too much power in the winning President

    COMMENT on ‘sorry’ procedure
    say ‘sorry’….Howard thought it was hard but it isn’t
    ALL Aborigines & ALL other Aussies know our generation did not participate & are not responsible but that does not stop us from saying ‘sorry’
    EVEN when most of the kids were taken away by our past generations in good faith to protect them

    Any comments ?

  2. Did I miss something? in the last day or so people seem to be taking the other MM on this blog seriously … meanwhile back at the main game Lindsay Tanner was impressive as usual on Lateline tonight.

  3. And they meet in a cublicle at Queensland Parliament House,
    thanks Charlie and i thought Julia Gillard had it tough.
    Should their also be a portfolio called skills in leadership and innovation.

  4. DOGS,

    I think Labor will steer clear from anything to do with the Patricks dispute – it was almost 10 years ago and the current historical narrative favours the Labor/Union perspective (primarily thanks to Bastard Boys).

  5. Fargo – Fantastic Courier poll – every online poll should include Mickey or Peter Brady just as a ‘control’ choice – especially at the ex-gg organs, and Sky, Ch9, Ch7 …
    Perhaps for issues not involving the choice of a person, the option – “my shiny metal arse” or similar should be offered

  6. Interesting, as I thought, Nelson. And as I thought, this would be the pairing.

    Hard yards against Julie and Co, if he really intends to moderate. Hard yards.

    Moderation or retraction is difficult.

    Take back his first wife. If she would have him. Take back his Catholicism, if they would have him.Take back his Labor background, if they would have him. Take back his Union leader, AMA, if they would have him.

  7. You guys are a disgrace, do you know the context of what he said, he was backing Hewson and was against Keating who had f’ed the health system royally he was merely saying how upset he was with Labor and that he was backing the Libs not because he was a toff or had anything to gain out of it but because Labor had f’ed the health system.

    Anyway i thought Rudd didn’t use smear and fear???

  8. Excellent point, Ron Brown at 855

    ‘I can not think of much more insulting to Aborigines
    because the position of GG is symbolic of the very British Empire’

    Considering your other.

  9. Crikey agree he has so much baggage. Lord 1/2 Nelson surely can not last to front the 2010 election ? (turnbull wanted the job but nelson has done him a favor) ??

  10. No no Triffid people were saying that they’d never allow Nelson to fight an election because of that footage.

    God the Health system is a mess, maybe a GP for a leader aint so bad.

    Im liking Nelson more and more now but thats just me.

  11. Labor never stuffed up the Health system in Victoria Glen, It was Jeff Kennett privatising, cutting beds, contracting staff, and introducing a system called a Case Mix. But of course you had private insurance you galah and of course the AMA were their as usual caring not for the patient but those poor doctors.

  12. Glen, I agree its outrageously funny, sorry outrageous, that they dredged up that unfortunate film of Nelson screaming “I’ve Never Voted Liberal In My Life!”. But you shouldn’t aim your outrage at Labor. The footage was run by SBS, ABC and Channel Ten news tonight. You just have to convince them that its all a misunderstanding and that Brendan’s “True Blue”. Good luck.

  13. 964 Aussieguru Just wait until Springborg tackles Seeney for Leadership of the Opposition that is when the feathers will start to fly. That’s when it will get ugly.

  14. 961
    Glen Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    You guys are a disgrace, do you know the context of what he said

    Tell me what context don’t you understand in Lord 1/2 Nelson’s words : ” I have
    NEVER voted Liberal in my life”

  15. LTEP? Do I detect a note of optimism in your posts, after all those weeks of “we’ll all be rooned, ere the year is out”. ?

    Speaking for myself, I thought your Said Hanrahan impression was a wonderful addition to cultural diversity, couldn’t understand why so many got all cranky about it 🙂

    Thanks also to those wishing comfort, sharing the capital’s pain/shame, its much appreciated!

    821: Lose the election please Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 8:44 pm
    Rain, look on the bright side… you’ve got no less Ministers in Canberra now than you did before.

    Actually, they only live here while in session, and in residences set aside in various suburbs. Pauline Hanson was the most unusual I know of though, she chose to live here permanently and brought her family. A few blocks from me. Even more unusual and raised a lot of eyebrows, she chose to send her kids to the local public high-school? The largest high-school with a very mixed bag of class/race population, with the highest crime rates as well. All parents received a letter telling of these new enrollments, and would be discussing it at the next P&C meeting…the Principal was very impressed, almost full turn-out at that P&C meeting *chuckle*

    As for the APS, most of the older public servants who’ve been through this before aren’t worried or frightened, indeed look forward to it, knowing exactly which crap needs to be to cut without batting an eye to meet Rudd’s targets, will take great pleasure in removing those obscene wastes of tax-payers money, and looking forward to finally being able to work on sensible national policies, programs and services – raring to go to hit the ground running 🙂

    Some of the “old guard” SES have already gone, so many “retirements” announced on All Staff messages in the last month or two? Who would have thought so many had 55-60th birthdays in Oct/Nov? *grin*. One was circulated with an mp3 music file attached, with the song “Another one bites the dust” 🙂

    But these are a minority of voters in a large city.

    Its younger ones who are terrified, they’ve known nothing else, and being lower level were more likely to be protected from the politicisation by their mid-level managers, and all those other majority of Canberran residents who work outside the APS are worried about flow-on effects to the local city micro-economy business and service sectors etc.

    Even the social services sector, started freaking out about a sudden increase in poverty like we had in 96 – I remember, my own home became an emergency foster home for a stream of kids. Wannabe suicides of 12 year olds off Commonwealth Bridge in the middle of a Canberran winter anyone?

    our DoCS is in about the same shape as NSW’s even if we don’t get into national newslines with dead babies littering the lawns of Parliament House. Our public hospitals arent much better than Royal North Shore. Canberra city gets a lot of “rural refugees”, leaving the surrounding NSW country areas looking for work etc. We also have a sizeable and active Aboriginal community, and I hope Rudd remembers the protocol of Welcome to Country that Parliament House and his Lodge sits on Ngunnawal country.

    The economic tsunami of 96-99 was very nasty for locals, and like the firestorm of 2003, Rudd’s implication that we were all fat-cats living the high-life at the expense of the rest of the country, and needed a meat-axe, probably didn’t go down too well in some sectors, and struck more frayed nerves than I think the ALP was aware of.

  16. Just listened to the 7.30 Report interview: couldn’t work out where I’d heard the voice before. Then it dawned on me; it’s Pauline Hanson.

    Pauline Nelson?

  17. Glen @ 961 – why can’t you express yourself this way?:
    “May I disagree with some of the earlier posts about Mr Nelson’s remarks some years ago. While these old comments by him may seem unfortunate, I feel the full context has not been appreciated, and I believe he was sincere when he made the remarks now being used against him.”

    Wouldn’t that be more engaging and less unnecessarily abrasive? You try.

  18. 972
    Ron Brown – He was backing Hewson, he was explaining how angry he was with Labor and Keating in 1993 about the state of the health system. He was explaining that his support of Hewson was genuine Ron, gee you can be stupid sometimes.

  19. Rain was on earlier complaining about lack of Ministers from Canberra. Turns out there are four from QLD and four axed.

    Queensland has four obvious winners in the new government ministry, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan, but has four casualties, including shadow homeland security minister Arch Bevis.

    Mr Bevis, who won the seat of Brisbane in 1990, is currently National Vice-President of the ALP.

    Bernie Ripoll, Labor’s member for Oxley, and Kirsten Livermore, the member for Capricornia, have also lost their positions as parliamentary secretaries, while former ageing, disabilities and carers spokesperson Senator Jan McLucas is out of the revamped Rudd Ministry, which was unveiled this morning.

    Craig Emerson, the member for Rankin, keeps his responsibility for small business, becoming a minister and also becomes the minister assisting new Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner on business deregulation.

    Queensland Senator Joe Ludwig, formerly shadow attorney-general, becomes the minister for human services, an area which Mr Rudd described as “a major area of reform, yet to be addressed” in his comments today.

  20. “God the Health system is a mess, maybe a GP for a leader aint so bad”, says Glen. Then why was the Super Hornet, MBBS, never made health minister under Howard? Too scared of the nurses?

  21. [He was explaining that his support of Hewson was genuine Ron, gee you can be stupid sometimes.]

    He supported Hewson!? HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH now that is hilarious.

  22. #
    VoterBoy of Over the Water Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Just listened to the 7.30 Report interview: couldn’t work out where I’d heard the voice before. Then it dawned on me; it’s Pauline Hanson.

    Pauline Nelson?


  23. 981
    marky marky – we get them whether we want them or not but Labor get’s preferences from the Greens so i classify the Greens with One Nation in their extremities really.

    ShowsOn Hewson got him in the Party…Mark Twain they obviously wanted to keep him down but not any longer.

  24. 980 Springborg is getting more vocal all the time while Seeney just struggles in Parliament. I think Springborg feels he was robbed when his father died during the last campaign and he had to withdraw from the hustings.

  25. 979
    Glen Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Ron Brown – He was backing Hewson

    backing Hewson ?? by saying “I have NEVER voted Liberal in my life”
    Now we know why Hewson lost …its Brendon’s fault

  26. [ShowsOn Hewson got him in the Party…Mark Twain they obviously wanted to keep him down but not any longer.]

    Well it seems he should’ve skipped some of his lectures at the Flinders Medical Centre, and walked up the hill to the politics department. His explanation of what liberalism means on The 7:30 Report was a complete howler – he would’ve failed any first year politics class with that tripe.

  27. The sad thing about the Queensland Libs is the lack of opposition, governments need something to push them and make them accountable and in many cases around Australia at present their is a lack of accountability and some arrogance in government, i certainly get that feeling about Brumby in Victoria at present.

  28. ehehehehe you think Nelson is boring lol take a look.

    “PRIME minister-elect Kevin Rudd spoke uninterrupted today for a staggering 30 minutes as he unveiled his first cabinet – but at least it wasn’t in Mandarin.

    Mr Rudd almost finished after 25 minutes but remembered he had forgotten to speak about a minister – and started talking again.

    Journalists’ tape recorders began clicking off in exhaustion as Mr Rudd then took questions for another 20 minutes. ”,23739,22842483-952,00.html

  29. Re Admiral’s pic -very similar but a simple check might separate them on examination – I hear Ivan Milat not only has pierced ears, but has a scrotum ring as well.

  30. The Liberal Party of Menzies & Fraser would never preference Pauline Hanson but
    then they stood for Liberal values …forgot Howard only stood for getting votes

  31. Horatio Hornet on the 7.30 Report tonight was appalling – no match for Rudd. Looks like we are shaping up for three years at least of Liberal leadership speculation. Not just Turnbull & Abbott, but Costello as well if he doesn’t leave the Parliament when his 18 years service comes up on 24 March 2008 and he reaches his maximum possible parliamentary superannuation.

  32. Ron at 855.

    ‘COMMENT on direct election of a President
    Neither party agrees because it ‘implys’ too much power in the winning President’

    Does it imply ‘power’ for the President? I thought it to be more about influence, of the decent moral kind. And our input will help Labor towards what we want, rather than what they, then or now, unknown, have in mind.

    ‘COMMENT on ’sorry’ procedure
    say ’sorry’….Howard thought it was hard but it isn’t

    ALL Aborigines & ALL other Aussies know our generation did not participate & are not responsible but that does not stop us from saying ’sorry’

    True, true. I acknowledge that it isn’t necessarily hard to say sorry. But for some it is. That is why a legislative framework is, I think, imperative.

    ‘EVEN when most of the kids were taken away by our past generations in good faith to protect them’.

    Not wishing to start a debate, so please, another day, but disagree with the good faith bit. Tony Abbott has good faith.

    Thank you, Ron.

  33. Glen, you have the attention span of a gnat.

    If Moses was talking about the Ten Cmmandments you would only be interested in the best three.

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