ACNielsen: 57-43

Now ACNielsen comes through with a post-budget federal poll, its first since the election. Michelle Grattan details the results thus:

The poll of 1400, taken from Thursday to Saturday, found the budget had gone down well, with two-thirds “satisfied” and 57% thinking it “fair”. This is despite just 31% believing it will make them better off — about the same proportion (30%) who think it will leave them worse off. The Government seems to have chosen an acceptable cut-in point for new welfare means tests, with a majority agreeing those on the $150,000 household income were “wealthy”. Mr Rudd’s approval is 69%, making him the second most popular PM since 1972, only behind Bob Hawke, who was on 75% in late 1984. John Howard’s highest approval rating was 67% in early 2005. Dr Nelson’s approval is 34%, with his disapproval 48%. Kim Beazley, Simon Crean and Alexander Downer all hit lower points as opposition leaders. Labor has substantially improved its position since the election. It is up four points to lead the Coalition 57% to 43% on a two-party basis (remembering of course that ACNielsen also had the result at 57-43 in the last poll it conducted, immediately before the election – PB). Labor has a primary vote of 46%, three points higher than at the November election, to the Coalition’s 38%, four points down.

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.

258 comments on “ACNielsen: 57-43”

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  1. Interesting,that the 57% think it fair, as against the 30% who think they will be worse off.

    I am all for Kevin PM deliberating and analysing, but reckon that the ‘fairer’ group would be larger if Kev had girded the loins and addressed those who need a little immediate largesse.

    I know it is all very difficult, and that the budgeted Utilities Allowance is now $500, and that a zillion people have competing claims, across the board and with weirdly inequitable bases. The problem of course is that the previous Government was uninterested in base payment equity, merely dishing out money on a special interest basis for electoral advantage.

    Hearing, yesterday by now, on Life Matters, an 80 year old saying that hers was the forgotten generation. Her life,a life she does well with, should shame us all. Sure, she manages, but that is all. No movies, no going anywhere. I even thought that Richard Aedy struggled to understand the real plight, empathetic as he is.

    Kevin, I reckon, should have thought a little beyond the analysis, and dished out a few dollars more, as I have said. Maybe to those 70 and over, as a stop gap.

  2. OK, so Brendan Nelson has a PPM rating of 17, according to Neilson

    Its a shame there is no pre-budget Neilson to provide a comparison.

    I guess we await the next Newspoll to see if Brendan picked up anything after the budget

  3. The one age group still doggedly voting Liberal is the over 65s.
    I suspect next year’s budget will contain a lot of sweetners to win them over, including an increase in the base old age pension rate.
    Otherwise, good numbers for Rudd, and it belies the hostile line being pushed by the anti-Labor media, particularly commercial talkback radio and the Murdoch press.

  4. 4 Progressive
    I’m not so sure that the ALP isn’t just giving the over 65’s away and putting resources where they might count.
    I don’t know whether any amount of money can change totally rusted ons?

    There’s another article on the poll here:–polls-20080520-2g5h.html
    which when read in comparison to yesterdays Newspoll and Galaxy results seems to come up with a different interpretation from what are similar numbers.
    I can tell from the gasps that you’re all shocked and amazed.

  5. Bearing in mind that this is taken before the confirmation of the embarrassing email, and a budget that necessarily made cuts to put the economy in shape for the future, I think this is an excellent result. Things should improve for Labor once the income tax cuts kick in which, though not talked about much, are substantial and have been delivered as promised.

  6. It wouldn’t matter if Kev gave the pensioners an increase of $1000 pw they’d still be out there lying saying that he gave them nothing and that they were worse off. So great is their love for Rodent that like the OO they can’t get over his loss. If it was any other group telling these furfies they’d be brought to task. Saying they are worse off and getting nothing in the budget when they are $400 better off than what Rodent gave them make me angry and lessens my sympathy for them. Why weren’t they out on the streets after last year’s budget? Could it be because they were too busy falling over themselves to say how wonderful Rodent was to give them a $500 hand out?

  7. Agreed Vera, the budget had extra compared to the last Costello budget, and where were all the pensioners during the 11 years of Howard???

  8. As the most reliable voter base the Liberals have left, it is not surprising the OO gave the over-55s’ biased “complaints” more than ample column-space.

    Would never have happened in rodent’s day.

  9. I think we need to be a little careful categorising pensioers. There are two groups I have sympathy for:
    – disabled pensioners, who have often subsisted on low incomes for many years
    – aged pensioners, typically over 70-75, who retired before the modern emphasis on super and who paid their taxes through their working lives expecting the pension would be sufficient.

    I have no problem with giving either of those groups more.

    But yes, there is a third group of many now over 65 and on pensions who I have little sympathy for. These are the ones who have “double dipped” – received a large super payout meant to provide for them in retirement, have spent it, and still want the aged pension. The whole reason they got tax concessions for their super contributions was to avoid that happening. Many have recieved payout deals that will be denied later generations because they were simply too generous. I have no time for this group, who are mostly selfish and greatly overestimate the respect that they are held in. They are usually Howardistas.

  10. The pensioners will be fine won’t they?
    [Dolly accent] Aaaye meen to saay , if there was ever a real problem the Queen would come to their defence, wouldn’t she?

    Well, at least they could vote the Liberals back in and give their extra $400 back. They voted for this mess over the last decade.

    One wonders how the country got to this point at all, and whether or not the current pensioner age group ever looked up to see where it was going before.

  11. I think that we need to take some of this polling with a grain of salt. We know that Labor polled amazingly well prior to the election, yet did not crack 53 per cent of the 2pp. I would take 2.5 per cent at least of the 2PP – maybe 3.5 per cent.

  12. 12 David
    good point
    it’s hard to know how much of the late slide was:
    1. poor polling, both in the lead up and now
    2. a cultural drift to conservatism when faced with an actual decision
    3. a ‘real’ late surge and changing of minds (hundreds of thousands in the last week)
    4. something else

    or even a convoluted mix of all of the above. I suspect that if anyone really knows the real answer is held close to the cheast of the internal party pollsters and a select few in the leadership group.
    Of course a real journalist might be slightly interested, or even write an article about it. In the interim we’ve got sham-a-porkies telling us black is white.

  13. I sympathise with disability and single aged pensioners who do need help but it’s starting to piss me off this constant slagging off of Labor by these so called “Pensioner Groups”

  14. I tend to think that a significant number of people people tend to claim that they are thinking of voting Labor but in reality never have any intention of doing so.

  15. David, That was largely the result of a massive scare campaign from the government of the day. Many people wanted a change but in the end voted conservative as they were too scared. But enough people wanted a change and now things are very different. Labor is in power, have delivered on numerous promises and Rudd, Swan and Tanner have shown they are better economic managers that Howard and Costello; certainly more fiscally conservative which is exactly what Rudd promised. Next election, providing Labor don’t become embroiled in some scandal to end all scandals, Rudd and Co will blow the Libs off the political landscape. These TTP poll margins might be as good as it gets for the conservatives.

  16. Steve K,

    I think that you are being wildly optimistic. The largest 2PP margins that we know of that actually occurred in an election do not get much above a 55-45 split.

    People tend to stick with what they know. That is why there is a core 40 per cent of voters who will never vote Labor, and a core 40 per cent of voters who will never vote Liberal. The 20 per cent in the middle never all drift one way. 15 per cent of them doing so is an overwhelming swing that is rare in the extreme. The polls must be systematically in error. And the only factor that I can think of that would induce such a systematic error across many pollsters is in the minds of the people: they say that they will vote Labor but are in fact lying (perhaps to themselves, but certainly to the pollster). This seems to have borne itself out in numerous elections now.

  17. “People tend to stick to what they know” – which, at the next election, will be Labor.

    As for the polls being systematically in error, they all stated an expectation that there would be a swing back to the Government as polling day got closer, largely on that very premise. On the day itself, the polls were pretty much spot on.

    It is far more likely that the polls got it fairly right and that people changed their minds than that the polls were consistently wrong.

    It is not lying to say you’re going to vote Labor and then change your mind; polls do not claim to do anything other than reflect what people are thinking at the time.

    If the Libs do not sort themselves out before the next election, however, they will be seen as the risky proposition rather than Labor.

  18. 18 David
    I agree that Steve might be a little optimistic, but your assumption that things have been a certain way for a while and will continue to be a certain way is also false. History is a bit bigger than the last couple of decades.
    If the Liberals can act as they are at present, and maintain that 40% support, suggests that democracy will not take us forward as a society, and that regardless of what they do that their support is locked in. I’d contend that generational drift, at the very least, will result in change, one way or the other.
    By numerous elections, do you mean state and federal?

  19. From a contributor to Tim Dunlop’s blog:

    “don’t worry about it abba, the honeymoon period usually produces a fair bit of up and down movement”

  20. Screw the pensioners, they have lived their life now it’s time for us to live ours.

    Maybe if they planned ahead and saved up enough for retirement instead of bludging the system we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.

    Being old is no excuse for being useless.

  21. David, what I can gather from chats with pollsters public and private is that there were three basic groups that moved during the end of the last election campaign, giving us the mystical narrowing. The first group – relatively affluent, ordinarily solid Liberal voters that were leaning toward Labor blinked and came back to the coalition fold over the last two weeks of the campaign, low income, low education outer metro voters came back to the Coalition via the anti-union advertising campaign (and actually overshot by some estimates, they came back to the Coalition and then moved slightly back to Labor in the last 48 hours), and some parts of regional Australia moved back to the Coalition in the last 72 hours for reasons that I haven’t heard about.

    That explains why the public pollsters all showed basically the same movement during the last few days, and why it tracked down to what the party polling (which is a bit more nuanced) was showing over the last week, leading to all the polls except ACN showing the same result at the end.

    If I were the Libs, I’d be a bit worried about the polls. Long term governments all build new demographic coalitions early – and tend to keep them.

    What happened with Rudd and the polls before the election had never happened before in recent Australian history at any level of politics. Since the election the polls are back up to their pre-election levels.

    It would be a brave call to make the assumption that there are a group of people that will come back to the Coalition again, especially since the Coalition dont have the resources of government to facilitate it.

    You only have to look at the States recently to see that 55/45 is far from unusual at elections, and can be higher.

    If the Libs become as dysfunctional as the State Oppositions and Rudd actually becomes a more competent political leader than the State Premiers – I’d be surprised if the polls weren’t at least 55/45 come the next election.

    The Libs need to get their act together.

  22. A good after lunch belly laugh:

    Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson was like a diamond being forged under intense pressure, opposition health spokesman Joe Hockey says.

    I see on Wiki that carbon requires pressure of between 45 and 60 kilobars to form into diamonds, where one kilobar equals about 1,000 atmospheres.

    I think Brendon will probably be subject to about that level of pressure before he leaves, too.

  23. Possum,

    My suspicion is that those people were in fact lying to the pollsters (and probably themselves). I do not think that they ever really intended to vote for the Labor Party – particularly the relatively affluent group that you mention. For two elections, that group have threatened to vote Labor, and then not done so. I think that this needs to be systematically factored into the polling (somehow – I am not a polling expert in any shape or form, so I would have no idea how to do it. I just crudely subtract a few per cent from any poll that I read).

    By the way, I fully expect the next election to be around 54 to 55 2PP to Labor. However, this means that I am automatically subtracting around 2 to 3 per cent off the current polling. I do not think that 57 is in any way realistic for Labor federally.

  24. David, I agree that those wet, affluent Lib types have threatened to revolt for two elections now and squibbed both at the Federal level, yet what is interesting is that at the State level a large chunk of that same group threatened to vote Labor, and then actually did. Not once, but often twice or in the case of QLD, three times and counting.

    Getting all hypothetical in terms of suggesting the worse case danger for the Libs unless they get their act together – If Rudd keeps what he’s got, and adds the 2 percent in the outer burbs that went to the Coalition via the anti-union campaign, there’s nearly 55 there. Those soppy wet, affluent Libs are another few percent.

    Also if I were the Coalition, I’d be worried about the old One Nation vote in the regions – they’re big believers in building stuff with other peoples money. These guys see two hills and think “dam”! Those infrastructure funds must be a bit of a worry for the Libs in that context.

  25. 24 show off!!

    When anyone suggest lying to the pollster on a mass scale the ‘conspiracy nut’ alarm goes off. You might be right about the factored movement, but I think your reasoning is wrong.

    Possum gave a brief discussion of the demographic movements and why.
    I made my suggestions without the knowledge possum has but with a little expertise (not polling related) on human behaviour and decision making.
    I’d suggest that mass ‘lying’ is less likely than all of the above reasons.

    David, mass mind changing, particularly toward a ‘conservative’ outcome [safe predictable, related to encumbancy] might be a better way of describing your ‘lying’ assertion. Voterland is not a beast that thinks per say.

  26. Possum (24)

    In the short term, the “Libs” will not be able to ‘get their act together’. They are demoralised and divided at the moment. That is not surprising. They were well beaten by their political opponents at the last Federal election and most voters (to the extent they are interested) still think Mr. Rudd is “Kevin from Queensland who’s here to help”.

    If you are correct that the Liberal Party has ‘long term’ (and fatal) electoral problems, I would be interested to read your thoughts as to the demographics of the changed voter sentiments which are driving it and why you think it will be sustained in the long term.

  27. David & Possum,

    There is another group. Those who may have been impressed with Rudd but in the end remained loyal to their local incumbant and put Labor 2nd as a reward.

    Incumbancy is a critical factor. Why else would Howard have tried to keep his existing team together.

  28. When I say ‘lying’ I am not simply stating that they are not telling the truth. There is no conspiracy there – it is human nature to lie and it is even more human nature to lie to oneself. The facts indicate that many people tell pollsters that they intend to vote Labor but do not actually do so on polling day. Either they are all changing their minds in the interim or they never really had the intention to vote Labor in the first place. They may have thought that they did, but deep down – or maybe not so deep down – they were in truth Liberal voters. Humans are complex creatures. No conspiracies required.

  29. 30
    I’ll let Possum post links to his postings on the topic but,
    In it’s essence the Liberal party is about as ‘liberal’ as I am Martian. The LP support demographic lives in an inner city donut of the major cities that’s being squeezed from both sides. The NP support is country based that is being eroded due to urban drift. To top it off, the views of each of the demographics is diverging.
    My own little comment is that ideology, as a political or commercial force, is dead. There is no simple answer to living. There is very little rationalisation to be had amongst the various issues, or if you like, government ministries. Life is complex.
    Ideology used to be a reasonable sales tool, but it is now the clutch of the simpleton. Self interest far outweighs ideology in the younger generations and I can’t see that changing.
    While the Liberals continue to believe that it’s ideology binding them, they will fail.
    They need credible policy on issues that matter; policy that is inclusive, not divisive. That’s what the Rudd ‘me-too’ was all about. It will be the party that communicates a subtle positive change that will win future elections.

  30. Onimod @ 34. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. A very interesting observation about the younger generations. I gather you are referring to those who now vote. Any consideration of the longer term should also address whether (say) those now aged 5 to 16 years are likely to be similarly informed and guided by ‘self interest’ outweighing ‘ideology’ when it comes to pass for that age group to vote in Australia’s compulsory preferential voting system. I have read the postings on Possums Pollytics.

  31. 35
    I didn’t watch the former foriegn minister that bears a resemblance to Jabba the Hut on Lateline last night.
    Was he using 3rd person and past tense to discuss the party?
    What is it with Tony Jones and Alex-under – it’s like it’s his personal chat show or something.
    Me thinks circulating amongst the irrelevant will undoubtedly lead to your own irrelevancy.

  32. Observations made from 2 rural electorates during the 07 election which may be pertinent to the issue as to why some voters swung back to the Coalition in the last week.
    Rural Press.
    In the 2 electorates I operated in during the election Rural Press owns most of the dozen or so local newspapers.
    All are solidly pro Coalition and in the last week in particular blatantly so.
    The sitting members were actively pork barrelling all election, receiving lots of favourable publicity [eg interviews about the latest pork offering and front page treatment] for so doing but the alternate candidates were virtually invisible in the media.
    And media includes local TV and radio. Incidentally the local ABC radio stations were definitely ‘muted’ in their approach, on ‘instructions from above’.
    In the last week of the campaign the 2 local TV channels in one of the electorates had wall to wall Coalition ads, the whole range of ads but particularly anti-union ads and specific ads showing the local Lib candidate doing the region proud. Most ad breaks during the day, most of the evening were Coalition ads. Lots of money obviously available. The ALP had a handful of ads only and none in the print media at all. The other parties were invisible.

    Now I don’t know how this correlates with the rest of rural Australia but I would suggest that Rural Press and locally run media had a prominent role in the rural vote change of the last week.
    Incidentally the voters still swung to the ALP by 10% in each of those 2 electorates so go figger.

  33. 37 – even after 5 months I guess I’m still enjoying the lib’s implosion and the political suicide bombers of the once great, high and mighty coming out to play.

    I didn’t see Lateline last night either, but the quote from Dolly
    “If I could say one positive thing about the way Mr Rudd has conducted himself in the last year, the thing he did was he instilled into (the Labor party), after all those years in opposition, a degree of discipline which was very effective”
    is hilarious, given his dummy spit at Minchin today.

    Funnier tho is the line that “Nelson is being forged into a diamond” by the Shrek,25197,23729021-26103,00.html
    These bunch of losers are unbelievable!!

  34. Mr Charles at 30 (there’s more Davids in this thread than at a bar mitzvah)

    There’s a few different problems the Libs are facing, some by circumstance, some by just poor timing of the electoral cycle.

    The very long term hit that the Coalition will take in terms of the vote is that their strongest demographic of support is, well… dying.

    The Coalition used to dominate the over 50 vote, then it became the over 55 vote, then the over 60 vote, now its approaching the over 70 vote in terms of dominance. Another 10 years and most of that vote will become older than the average lifespan. So that demographic that they dominate is not only becoming older, but consequently smaller by attrition.

    Also problematic for the Libs but particularly the Nats is that it’s the oldies that make up the majority of their branch membership.

    To give an idea of size of this problem, if we use the census data to look at the number of Australians of voting age, its a tad over 15 million.

    The proportion of the voting age population that is 50+ is 40.8%
    The proportion of the voting age population that is 55+ is 32.1%
    The proportion of the voting age population that is 60+ is 23.9%
    The proportion of the voting age population that is 70+ is 12.5%

    So the Libs are losing a large chunk of their base vote but without having it replaced by any younger demographic. But if they chase the younger demographic – how do you reconcile the vastly different social values of the young demographics with the social conservatism of their elderly demographic? It’s hard – so hard Labor doesn’t even try and bother with most of the oldies using the values spiel because it simply ain’t worth the trade-off for them.

    The slow, almost grinding reduction in that demographic is, in itself, reason enough to keep the Coalition out of power for a long time barring some ALP meltdown.

    The ALP has also slowly been increasing its voter base in the high income demographics as wealth flows to far greater numbers of ordinary wage earners, contractors and professionals outside of the areas of law, medicine and engineering (professions that historically at least supported the Libs more than the ALP) rather than business owners and employers that used to dominate this group. So the anti-union spiel (the great historical underpinning of the anti-labour forces) doesn’t resonate as much in the affluent vote as it once did.

    You can see the way these demographic forces are playing out in the Liberal party organisation, reducing the numbers of the old ordinary Liberal party values and beliefs, leaving the far right nutters and assorted political carpet-baggers running large parts of the party.

    But what those nutters believe is good for the country is considered to be, well, fringe dwelling nuttery as far as the majority of the Australian population is concerned. That puts an effective straight jacket on the Liberal party in terms of what they can propose as a policy platform without the party erupting internally.

    The Labor party, because of its well resourced student politics divisions and because its a funnel for the large left wing political activism that goes on when young people start mixing idealism with delusions of changing the world, allows the ALP to not only effectively harness most of the new political talent that pops up, but also keeps it anchored to some extent in what younger people are thinking, and what their concerns are.

    So the ALP has better vote anchoring to young demographics and consistently outpolls the Libs here, the Libs are losing their most solid demographic through attrition, the Libs can no longer rely on old notions of Capital vs Labour for support because those notions are becoming increasingly irrelevant as time goes on and it no longer adequately describes peoples life experiences or self-interest.

    And then we get to what’s left of the Coalition with the problem of its twin support bases – where the regional and rural voters have greater differences with their more affluent coalition metro counterparts than they have issues in common (they’re different economies, different life experiences, different social and cultural values etc).

    It’s a nasty convergence of very bad things for the Coalition. They simply cant afford to play it like parties of old played it when they lost government. They can’t afford to lose large chunks of their vote while they play pin the vendetta on the faction, because these days, as the State government experience has shown in recent years, once those voter chunks are lost – there’s simply no guarantee that they’ll come back. The people that used to do that are becoming smaller in number every year.

  35. As someone in charge of a campaign in a rural electorate, fred, I can verify what you say.

    The local paper ran a three page spread on the Liberal sitting member the Saturday before the election. When we questioned them as to why there was nothing similar available to the Labor candidate, we were told that it was purely coincidental that the spread had been in the paper during the election campaign – it was simply to mark the fact that the sitting member had just clocked up three years in office!!

    The local ABC would ring our candidate and tell them that the interview would be on X. There would then be one question on X and then the interviewer would shift to a totally different topic for the rest of the interview. Often, it was obvious that the Libs knew exactly what was going to be discussed and had callers lined up to quiz our candidate.

    A number of times we were told (off the record, by friendly journos) that one of our media releases was to be a front page story, to then find it relegated to page 10 and distorted beyond all recognition.

    Basic fairness also went out the window, with our candidate denied the right of reply to some fairly nasty attacks on several occasions (a change from previous elections).

    Still got a huge swing (especially given that we were outspent 100 to 1) but obviously would have done a lot better if the media had been even halfway balanced.

  36. And as Judge Growler said – incumbency is powerful

    Especially the sophomore effect where those newly elected members get a few percent bounce in their next election. The danger here for the Coalition is that the seats Rudd won at the last election should become safer at the next election. But any new seats he wins at the next election should become safer at the election following that – which means three to four terms by itself if the usual effects of incumbency run true.

  37. yes DG there was a move back to the government in the days prior to an election, so you need to ADD 2.5 to Labor!! Good luck with your Shanahan spin

  38. It has struck me that there is quite a difference in the government and opposition sides of the parliament and that is the preponderence of opposition members who could be seen as “up themselves” as compared to those on the government side. The names Nelson, Costello, Downer, Bishop (twice), Tuckey, Hartsuyker spring to mind.
    Labor seems to have held hubris in reasonable check.

  39. On pensioners – got a phone call from my mother (mid 80s) after she saw the Melbourne wrinklies getting their gear off last week, and she was absolutely ropable. I’m amazed Telstra’s microwave towers across the Nullarbor didn’t melt.

    When Dad retired 25 years ago he got a ‘princely’ sum of $5,000 in super after a lifetime of hard toil. Mum worked just as hard but women were even less likely to have access to super than men. By being careful Mum’s built that up over the years. ‘Careful’ doesn’t mean tight fisted, they had a good time, she still does and doesn’t lack for much.

    So she’s happy with what she’s getting and while grateful for the increase in utilities allowance could get by without.

    She’d much rather more money went into hospital waiting lists than aged pensions because she’s paying nearly a grand to have a self-funded cataract operation in a few weeks instead of waiting 12-15 months to have it done as a public patient and will fork out another grand in a few months for the other eye. Her eyes aren’t that bad, but as she says, at her age waiting lists often end up being life sentences, and anyway, it’s the kid’s inheritance she’s blowing, not hers! 😉

    IMO, much of the pensioner angst is being driven by the media. Many pensioners have only a tenuous grasp of what was in the Budget and I suspect much of their anger is based more on how badly done by they were according to the media than a significant reduction in their living standards in the last 6 months, even allowing that prices on a lot of necessities have risen lately.

  40. The pensioner protest in Melbourne was revealed for what it was worth by others here at PB. Not only did radio 3AW (through Neil Mitchell) rally the troops repeatedly on air they even sent one of their ‘personalities’ John M Howsen to the rally to provide encourgement. Honestly, most of the pensioners I saw on the TV news were pretty well-to-do compared to the truely frail and ill. They should find something useful to do with their idle time possibly looking after those who are really struggling. Has anyone explained yet how the family first MP was in attendance? Was he in fact the organiser?

  41. Labor Voter

    “Screw the pensioners, they have lived their life now it’s time for us to live ours.”

    Oh dear what a sad comment. You must be young and stupid, I hope your life works out as you have it planned. Tosser. 😛

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