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. Glen -@ 1044 If so, then – we support GW Bush to the hilt in an illegal enterprise in Iraq, even when he is a pariah at home, and what do we get? Diddly-squat, compared to Israel. They get the latest and best, we agree to pay 6.6 Billion for a stop-gap, until we are alowed to have the no longer best in 10 years.
    No wonder the experts on the 4 corners doc said we failed to consider all options – and who cares if the current second best is Russian. Last time I checked the point of my umbrella , the cold war was over.

  2. We got an FTA JV…yes i dont like not having the F-22 but this is the US we’re talking about they can do and sell to whoever they want.

    JV Russian aircraft hmmmmm have you seen some airshows those Russian planes burn very quickly lol 😉

    Crikey Whitey – that’s only going to get Malcolm pissed off the centre-right and right who elected him will be happy like me Viva Lord Nelson 😉


    Nelson sees no need to ‘say sorry’

    Posted 2 hours 33 minutes ago
    Dr Nelson says he does not see a need to apologise to Indigenous Australians.

    Dr Nelson says he does not see a need to apologise to Indigenous Australians. (ABC News: Damien Larkins)

    Newly elected Liberal leader Brendan Nelson says he is not in favour of the Labor plan to say sorry to Aboriginal Australians.

    Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd says there will be a formal apology to the stolen generation of Indigenous people.

    Dr Nelson says he wants to discuss the issue with his Liberal colleagues, but he says he does not see the need for an apology.

    “We in my view we have no responsibility to apologise or take ownership for what was done by earlier generations,” he said.

    The beaten Liberal leader candidate, Malcolm Turnbull, also supported the apology and said it was a mistake for the Howard Government to have refused to say sorry.

  4. Crickey @1049 – Agreed that it is done and dusted. Wouldn’t hold breath for Howard concession.

    Tomorrow we will hear McKew’s “Mr Howard phoned me earlier today to offer his congratulations…” speech.

    Hope her mouth is drier this time…

  5. Nico – you aren’t suggesting Maxine had partaken of a libation when she spoke on Saturday are you? I mean, she didn’t dance – well not quite – and that’s my signifier.

  6. Greensborough Growler at 966 – I just looked it up. It appears that Punch was about three months older when he became a Minister than Kate Ellis is currently. Has anyone ever been a Minister in their 20s? Ellis is only 30 years and 68 days old.

  7. Seems the Razor Gang will be wearing a velvet glove.

    THE incoming federal finance minister has played down Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd’s pre-election threat to “take a meat axe” to the public service.

    Lindsay Tanner last night said the new government’s aim is simply to hold back expansion of the public sector rather than carrying out mass sackings.

    “What we anticipate is reining in growth a bit, because the growth in the public service in recent years has been running significantly ahead of growth in employment in overall terms,” Mr Tanner told ABC television.

    “I don’t believe there’ll be any need for redundancies. There may well be some need for movement of people and resources around from one part of an agency to another or one agency to another.,23739,22846239-5003402,00.html

  8. Top Gun just cannot tell the truth.

    [It is a theme he has repeated for years. Back in 1993, though, he was captured by television cameras just days before the election shouting at a crowd that “I have never voted Liberal in my life”.

    Questions about his character arose when he later told interviewers and a Liberal pre-selection panel that he, in fact, voted Liberal during the years he belonged to the Labor Party.]

  9. I once thought I’d be dead by the time I was 30, now it seems young. It’s sad in a way for people to go through the party youth and into the party organisation then into a seat. What do they really know? 3/4 of 5/8 of very little I’d say – no, sorry, they know how to put their hand up when required at a meeting. At this point I’ll admit to not knowing nubile Ms Ellis’ pedigree in this regard, but I suspect I’m half right

  10. JV @1064 I agree, in part. There are places in parliament for career politicians without real experience. But, thankfully, there aren’t many such places.

  11. Nico – maybe those hydroponic plants should remain in positions of support rather than expecting to represent people and make critical decisions for people with real lives – harsh I know, but reasonable? (Thinking suddenly of Nicole in SA – he says desperately trying to think of a similar male – those outside the fold aren’t always gurus either!)

  12. JV – Like the analogy.

    Have had this discussion with a few of my closer friends of late who have asked whether I aim to go into politics. My answer is always that life should come first and political service is more effective when inspired and informed by the experiences of that life.

    That said, Ellis seems to be performing quite well. Her actually having something to do will be the litmus test, and I will follow keenly. Would definitely consider putting her through Dr Gallop’s MGA course.

  13. 1068
    Chris in LDN – It’s called the Eurofighter for a reason, its built for Europe. But although they are trying to market that fighter abroad it is far wiser to buy US equipment, after all interoperability is very important to us IMHO.

    Oh and last time i checked the French and Germans aren’t allies like the Brits and Americans are but thanks to a Conservative as Chancellor and President they’re much more liked now by me 😉

  14. You’re absolutely right, Glen. The Eurofighter was built for Europe. Test flights show that it doesn’t go as fast in the south Pacific.

  15. guru @ 1074:
    I think by the Libs’ broad definition most of the ministry are still considered unionists, but frankly I and most other Australians aren’t worried by that. Heck, Brendan Nelson was a unionist, and one of the finest of his ilk, back in the day – among the crowd that would have campaigned in favour of a Bernie Banton! Sad to say that subsequent AMA Presidents, especially the current one, have really diminished the office …

  16. Tony Delroy. Issue of the Day. Leadership. What the callers said.

    Line return means next caller.

    Delighted, looking forward. Pleased with Rudd lineup.

    Old Tom, regular caller, all Labor. Scathing over Nelson. Delighted at the stupidity of this decision..

    Next. Saddened, Brendan Nelson, no apology, aboriginal people.

    What has been, over the past decade. Erosion and setbacks in Natural Heritage Fund. Erosion of and setbacks. Health care, dental. Rural infrastructure, rural aged care accomodation. GPs, Bush. Same as.

    Maxine. Congrats. Caller returned to voting for first time in twenty years. Not particularly pleased with Labor policy. Maxine, though, motivational. Rudd campaign, very positive feel to it. Howard campaign negative, backward looking.
    Looking forward himself.

    On Peter Garrett. Voted Labor, really excited Peter in there. Agrees with aboriginal issues caller, but everyone is the same, have to go through hard times. I’m excited.

    Claudia, upset with media. For criticising Kev on length of speech, after seeking always short sound bites. Now complain. Therese Rein, journalists, in Canberra seeking school for her son. Made something of an if, that Therese said, and drummed it into something like they would not be living at the Lodge.

    Peter. Brendan a turncoat. Former ALP, 20 yrs. How can you trust a man who?

    Compares Costello brothers. Lindsay, pamplet issue, indicative of conservative attitude, this country, they will do anything to stay in power. Tony refers back to Graham Richardson, anything it takes. Caller reverts to Bali bomber link in pamphlet.

    Labor could be in a little bit of trouble. Staunch Liberal voter. From equally staunch Labor family member voters. Wondering where Labor will be in 3 years, Labor may rue where US potential recession may leave it. Kevin is brilliant young man and well intended, said most sincerely. Not a great fan of Nelson. No concern over his changing from one party to another. Capable, but he won’t be there in 3 yrs. Liberal Party has tendency to destroy and go for each other.

    Dave wants a leader who won’t lie, says this is what I’m going to do, do it and if it stuffs up, just admit it. Caught Howard out about saying not doing and vice versa. Cites GST. Goes on to cite AWB, Howard putting himself beyond being blamed.

    Too early to talk about leadership. (This from a man who I have heard well before the election, talking of distrusting Labor). Rudd, minister for all, if he sticks to it, good, otherwise I’ll be in there with to shoot him down. The lady (Julia) looks good. Education and work are allied.

    On Nelson. Looking forward to when the Panzer tanks start arriving in the country, he ordered them and he deserves to be there when they turn up. Small man all over. Wrong decisions defence equipment. So, so happy and optimistic about Kevin Rudd. Cannabis for hemp. (not talking smoking) Clothes, rope, etc.

    Caller knows Kev via Labor Party affiliation. Concerned over Kev going too far right, will they deliver on social objectives, consult with and empower the community. It is more than visiting a homeless shelter. Optimistic, but guarded.

    James believes it is time for a change for a more youthful…This Liberal govt just dispensed with, thank God, as an ex infantry, this Howard Govt bought American tanks, not Leopards. American stuff tends to break down all the time, according to his mates in the armoured division.

    For your project, William, in part.

  17. Re: the pig heads left on the site of the proposed Muslim school in Sydney – there’s no way a negative decision against the school can be viewed as anything but tainted in view of the blatant racism and bigotry behind the opponents of the application – the leaders have openly referred to Muslims as “towelheads” and stated “We don’t want their kind here”

    Some people have these funny ideas:

    “If i don’t use racial/ethnic/sexist/homophobic/religious slurs I’m not bigoted” (No, it’s your actions that make you a bigot) (also you don’t get to decide what’s bigoted or not – only the victims do)

    “If i don’t intend to be a bigot then I’m not one” (um, yes you are a bigot if you act as one)

    They miss the clear logic that a person who is the subject of bigotry would best know what bigotry is – whether it’s racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia or religious prejudice.

  18. Glen, the Eurofighter looks to be a reasonably capable aircraft. Certainly, we shouldn’t place critical reliance upon aircraft/parts/ships/etc from any one nations – that ‘s basic strategic thinking. The USA may not always be able and willing to supply us with parts and new aircraft.

    Better would be if we did what we’ve done with the ANZAC frigates and the Collins subs – build them ourselves, adapting other peoples’ designs to our own needs. FYI, the ANZAC is based off the German Meko-200 frigate.

    Also, what’s wrong with the Su-30 or the Su-35 from Russia? Or, if you really want cutting-edge, look at the MiG-35.

  19. “982
    steve Says:
    November 29th, 2007 at 11:32 pm
    Rain was on earlier complaining about lack of Ministers from Canberra. Turns out there are four from QLD and four axed.”

    But QLD didn’t get slapped into the naughty corner 🙁

    SOK though – we’ll sulk for awhile, and then get over it.

    Canberra Times today is doing some sulking for all of us, at least our ACT Territory Chief Minister *loves* us!
    and Bob McMullen said “Canberra has not been forgotten..”

    Onyer Bob 🙂

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