Morgan: 59.5-40.5

The latest Morgan face-to-face poll has Labor’s lead at 59.5-40.5, up from 58.5-41.5 a fortnight ago. Primary votes are Labor 50.5 per cent (up 1.5), Coalition 35.5 (down 0.5) and Greens 7.5 (down 1). Elsewhere:

• The redistribution of Tasmania’s electoral boundaries has been finalised. Several amendments have been made from the original proposal, which you can read about here. Antony Green calculates the new boundaries have increased Labor’s margin in Braddon from 1.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent, while reducing it in Denison from 15.6 per cent to 15.3 per cent, Franklin from 4.5 per cent to 3.7 per cent and Lyons from 8.8 per cent to 8.4 per cent. Bass remains at 1.0 per cent.

• A bill to introduce fixed terms was introduced to the Northern Territory parliament on Wednesday. David Bartlett says similar legislation will be introduced in Tasmania next year, confirming the next election will be held on March 20, 2010 and setting up an ongoing clash with South Australia’s elections (to Antony Green‘s dismay). I’ll have much more to say on fixed four-year terms next week.

• Tomorrow is Victorian local government election day, which in most cases means today is the last day for submission of postal votes. Read and comment about it here. Ben Raue at The Tally Room has council and ward map files for viewing in Google Earth.

• In Queensland, poll-driven decisions on water policy are being seen as a harbinger of an early election.

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.

371 comments on “Morgan: 59.5-40.5”

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  1. Hugo & amigo ronnie, it wont be long now. i heard the chinese is diverting part of its $800B economic stimulus package into cricket development so it can beat India by 2020.

    [Howzat! In a quick declaration, China embraces cricket- CRICKET is not a sport one normally associates with China, but the world’s most populous nation has embarked on an ambitious plan to change that.]

    or is this what the chinese have in mind:

  2. Socrates

    [Hypothetical question – under the US Constitution could the Speaker shoot the President and Vice President, thereby become president, and then pardon themself for the shootings?]

    The President can’t pardon himself.

  3. But in this case it would be the President pardoning herself.

    Where does it say that presidents cannot pardon themselves.

  4. [Art. II Sec. 2 of the Constitution states, in part, that the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”]

    So the President could possibly pardon himself for the murder charges (opinion is a bit divided on this and it’s never been tested) but he couldn’t avoid the impeachment (which only refers to having him removed from office).

  5. The annual elections proposal was part of the idea that the elected should face the people very regularly in order to keep then in check which was prevalent at that time and led to to biennial elections in the USA and triennial elections in Australia. The maximum term for the Parliament of the United Kingdom was 7 years untill the Parliament Act 1911

    The reforms proposed by the Chartist were implemented (bar annual elections) over a long period of time.

    Votes for every man (who was a British Subject and resident in the UK) over twenty-one (bar a few small exceptions) was not achieved until 1918 (and people with property qualifications in other electorates and those with masters and doctorates had multiple votes until 1948-1950).

    Equal sized electorates were achieved gradually but there are a few exceptions such as various problems with the use of counties and local continuity requirements which have the odd distortion (see and the over representation of Wales (and possibly Northern Island) with over representation of Scotland abolished in 2005.

    Secret ballot was achieved in 1872.

    Property qualifications for candidates was abolished at some point.

    Pay for MPs was introduced by the Parliament Act 1911.

  6. U.S. Presidents were inaugurated on 4th March until 1937 when it was changed to 20th Jan. for the same reason being proposed here now, Roosevelt’s long wait for the lame duck Hoover to bugger off in 1933. So there’s no reason it couldn’t be changed again.

    Having a 4 month gap between the election and inauguration was probably necessary in the 1700s because communication was limited to the speed of a horse, and 2 months might still have been required in the 1930s, but with instantaneous communications these days they should be able to finalise the process by mid December.

  7. Annual elections? Oh geez, please no. I used to be a big one for 4 years, but three years is probably about right. And any change to it will never get up constitutionally so no point worrying about it.

  8. Sorry the posting program messed up the link and takes you to a different place.

    Select, copy and paste should do the trick.

  9. Talking about Presidential pardons, one name that has come up frequently is Conrad Black. I’m guessing that he has received bad news on that front (GWB hardly ever pardons, although Black would have got out for sure under Bill) and has vented his spleen on the US Justice system. While there is the tiny possibility that the article is just a little bit biased and a tad self-serving, it’s a really good read.

    From my cell I scent the reeking soul of US justice

  10. [So the President could possibly pardon himself for the murder charges (opinion is a bit divided on this and it’s never been tested) but he couldn’t avoid the impeachment (which only refers to having him removed from office).]

    What if she shoots everyone in Congress as well? If you ask me, the founding fathers didn’t think things through.

  11. [What if she shoots everyone in Congress as well? If you ask me, the founding fathers didn’t think things through.]

    Remember they didn’t have hand held machine guns in their time.

    They probably thought that if the President busted in with a one-shot rifle and started attacking Congress they’d have time to take him down while he reloaded.

  12. William,

    Yes and no; government in the US anticipates some7 things but perhaps not everything. Don’t know that anyone could anticipate everything? In regards to what you and the others previous on this train of thought are refering to … take the president’s State of the Union address as an example. The presidential line of succession is 16 layers deep –

    Normally the address is in the House chambers and like here when there is a major address, all cabinet members and so on attend, crowding into extra seats, gallery, etc. However, EACH and every year, ONE of the 16 people on this list draws a short straw and does NOT attend the SOTU address in the House chambers. He or she watches from somewhere else in Washington, a closely guarded secret as to where they actually are. It is so that terrorists can not take the whole of the government out in one fell swoop and at least for the emergency and short term purposes, the government has someone who can lead it and allow barebones services to continue in the event of that eventuality. This has always been so for as long as I am aware which dates back to roughly the beginning of the second Nixon administration. I don’t have much memory of particulars before that. So it isn’t a recent response to 9/11.

  13. [What if she shoots everyone in Congress as well? If you ask me, the founding fathers didn’t think things through.]

    Sounds like an awesome plot for Hollywood if you ask me…

  14. SOS is number 4 in succession. That’s too close for comfort for me. Hillary might get some ideas.

    What happens in Australia if a plane with say 15 Labor MP’s went down? That’s happened to a few soccer teams before. That would put the Liberals ahead of Labor. Would Turnbull become PM until the by-elections?

  15. [What happens in Australia if a plane with say 15 Labor MP’s went down? That’s happened to a few soccer teams before. That would put the Liberals ahead of Labor. Would Turnbull become PM until the by-elections?]

    If the Opposition had any decency they’d support the current Government until elections could be held. Could they do that? Or do Government’s automatically lose their position once they lose a majority.

  16. I have an idea – and it’s only that – that PMs/ Premiers and their Deputies don’t travel together for this reason.

    Challenge for bloggers to prove or disprove this (?incidence of PM & Deputy on same flight?)

  17. If the government were to lose 15 MPs from a plane crash on an end-of-season trip, then the they would still be the government until parliament could sit. The parliament could then pass a motion of No Confidence in the government, but that’d be a pretty big call for the Opposition. Not that I’d put it past this lot (including sabotaging the plane!). Luckily for us, I’m not sure the Liberal Party is that competent.

  18. Three ministers in the Menzies government were killed in a plane crash in August 1940. If that had happened after the election held one month later, that might indeed have cost his coalition its majority pending by-elections. However, for Labor to have taken advantage of that by moving a no-confidence motion would have been rightly viewed as very poor form.

  19. William

    Looking at that 1940 election, I see there were three Labor Parties; Australian Labor Party (40%), Non-Communist Labor Party (5%) and the State Labor Party (2%).

    There has to be a great story behind the naming of the Non-Communist Labor Party!

  20. Finns @ 10

    Those bloody rooineks are still at it.

    Now why should we take a deep breath and count to 10 whenever the Britishers start making judgements on India?

    As ‘preparation’ for Indian democracy the Britishers massacred thousands of unarmed Indian civilians on the streets. It routinely arrested without charge or court case Indian politicians. It got so that Indian politicians had their cases packed ready to be arrested.
    India had a thriving metal production industry when the British arrived. None when it left.
    The British used race as a justification for over a hundred and fifty years of dictatorial colonialism. When this got a bit much for the Indians, the British tied offenders to the mouths of cannon and pulled the lanyard. Following the recapture of Delhi the Britishers pretty well hunted down all the menfolk, including those with a bit of a prior predisposition to supporting the Britishers. The Britishers gave me a wry smile though. They were apparently a bit surprised, purblind fools that they were, that the last royal tour of QE2 to India was greeted with less than rapture.

    Given the immense challenges, India has done a magnificent job to date. Not a perfect job. But a magnificent job. Many of the challenges have not gone away.

    Comparing India with China is an interesting exercise. It seems to me far more likely that India will be able to deal with its social pressures than China. The latter has 30-40 000 cases of civil disobedience a year and no democratic structures to absorb and address civil pressures.

    The Telegraph should just concentrate on the state of the Britisher economy, it needs all the condecension it can get.

  21. The convention is that the parliament would not sit or pairs would be granted until the by-elections were held. It is a convention that was established in NSW in 1911 when 2 Labor MPs resigned their seats depriving the McGowen government of its majority.

    William Holman was Acting Premier at the time and requested the Governor to prorogue Parliament. The Governor said no. So Holman went back to Parliament, the Labor speaker resigned their seat, and Holman went back to the Governor and handed in the government’s Commission.

    This did two things. First, he resigned before the Opposition’s temporary majority would have allowed it to pass a vote of no-confidence. Second, with no Speaker, if the Opposition tried to take office, it would not have had the numbers having appointed a Speaker, and once the vacancies were filled at by-elections, the new government would probably have lost a vote of confidence, and with Labor back in a majority, Labor would have formed government again without an election.

    The convention (according to R D Lumb, Constitutions of the Australian States) is that if a government lost a vote of no-confidence, and an alternative government was possible, an early election is not called but a baton change takes place. If one government lost a vote of no confidence, and then the replacement government lost a vote of no-confidence, the first defeated government is re-commissioned to call an early election, or if possible, to continue governing. This happened in NSW in December 1921 when the Fuller government was defeated seven hours after taking office, and Jim Dooley was re-commissioned as Premier to govern till an early election.

    In the Mundingburra by-election situation in 1996, the Goss government could have been defeated by a vote of no-confidence as it had a Labor Speaker and so was in a floor minority. Sensibly, it was left for the by-election to resolve the numbers, and Goss resigned as Premier after Labor lost the seat.

    So in short, any motion of no-confience passed by what would be viewed as a temporary change in numbers in the House of Reps would not trigger the resignation of a government.

  22. [that PMs/ Premiers and their Deputies don’t travel together for this reason. Challenge for bloggers to prove or disprove this]


    I believe during Whitlams days that he saw that the deputy and others were on separate planes for that very reason, however he insisted that they fly on the same plane because “If I’m going down then those bastards are coming down with me and won’t profit from my demise”.

  23. Diogenes, Non-Communist Labor was Lang Labor. After Lang was dumped as Labor Leader in NSW, a number of communists managed to gain control of the NSW Labor executive. In Lang’s attempt to regain control of the Labor Party, he set up Non-Communist Labor. Between the 1940 Federal election and the 1941 state election, the division was patched up and the two parties merged, but the communist officials set up their own party which is generally known as Hughes-Evans Labor. As well as official Labor, some of the former Non-Communist Labor people ended up in a party generally known as Fowler Labor after Lillian Fowler, who was later a Lang Labor state MP. There were also breakaway non-communist Labor candidates who formed a loose Country Labor Party.

  24. I should clarify, Hughes and Evans were kicked out of the state Labor Party by Federal intervention. It was after Labor and Non-Communist Labor merged that John Curtin finally had the firm numbers to convince the Independents to back Labor forming government in mid-1941. A few Labor members had to swallow a lot of bitterness, as one of the Non-Communist Labor MPs was ‘stabber’ Jack Beasley, who along with his Lang Labor collegues had brought down the Scullin government in parliament at the end of 1931.

  25. If one government lost a vote of no confidence, and then the replacement government lost a vote of no-confidence, the first defeated government is re-commissioned to call an early election, or if possible, to continue governing”

    Then assume th fixed term legislation in States must diferentiate this , and cover this as opposed to temporary change in numbers caused by plane crashs , and then I tink how does Legislation prevent a Govt of day passing a motion of no confidese in itself at an opportune time , to get around fixed election timetables

  26. It could, but it would look very very silly. In NSW, the process of a baton change requires a vote of no confidence with three sitting days notice, effectively a week. After the passage of such a motion, eight days are allowed in which a new government is given the opportunity to form. So in other words, it is a process you go through for two weeks before you can call an election.

    So say a government brought itself down by defeating itself. In those circumstances, the Governor is entirely entitled to commission another government as the government has by convention just proved it does not have the support of the parliament. The opposition might offer to form government and would be entirely entitled to do so. The ex-government now in opposition now moves a vote of no-confidence in the new government, but it can’t be debated until the following week because of the 3 day rule. So the newly minted government open the files and finds as much dirt as it can on the recently defeated government before it is itself defeated in a vote of no confidence.

    So by this stage we are 2-3 weeks into this farce. Now the newly re-commissioned Premier has to advise the Governor for an early election. Given that the intent of the fixed term legislation is that firms are fixed, the Governor may again decline the early election, again putting the government through the farce of defeating itself again to prove a new government cannot be formed.

    If both sides agree on an early election, think for instance Labor and Liberal agreeing to an early election after cutting the size of the Tasmanian Parliament in 1998, then the whole process could be over in a fortnight at which time writs could be issued. But without opposition support, the whole process could be bloody, and also involve the government having to give up office for a week until it could resume office and get an early election.

    That’s why no government is going to defeat itself unless the Opposition agrees.

  27. So essentialy th conventions rely on politcans commonsense and/or self interest , rather than codifying

    If I was to look at oppositions view in a State with fixed term electons , if Govt of day is in minority and relying on “independents” for majority , and then a motion of no confidense passed by th opposition criticaly at opportune time for them (supported by those “independents”) it could efectively bring that Govt down….. where independents and opposition were not a policy match to form govt and it suited those ‘independents’ to hav an election also

    (If so politcal advantage would rest with opposition throughout th minority Govt’s term)

  28. In essence, yes. The best way to think of it is in the case of Tasmania. The last two examples of hung parliament, under Labor’s Michael Field 1989-92, and Liberal Tony Rundle 1996-98, would not have come to an end in fixed term parliaments, unless as in 1998, the opposition and government agreed. The Greens would not support the Liberal Opposition to bring down the Field government 1989-92, and would not support Labor to bring down Rundle in 1996-98. Field in fact lost votes of no-confidence while Premier, but was not forced to an election. In one case, after losing the vote, the Parliament was suspended while he went to advise the Governor. His advice was that he was still in a position to govern. He returned to Parliament and moved an adjournment motion setting the next sitting date, which the Greens supported so the government continued in office. That failed attempt to bring down the government cost Robin Gray the Liberal leadership.

    In both cases, it was clear that an early election had the strong chance of delivering the Opposition a majority. So the government and Green cross-benchers saw common purpose in not having an early election.

    And as a sidelight, there is the interesting question of a government handing back its commission but unable to lose a vote of no-confidence. The Governor has to have advisers, and if he or she cannot find alternative advisers, then the existing advisers continue in office. This would still take some time to resolve, but there would be a chance of the Governor using reserve powers to grant an early election in the case of a complete impasse.

    Finally, don’t assume any Premier pushing for an early election would survive this process. Remember Joh Bjelke-Petrsen was asked to prove he had the support of his own government when he tried to sack several ministers, and he lost the leadership in this process. Nick Greiner resigned as Liberal Leader in part because his own party didn’t want to go through the vote of no-confidence that might have triggered an early election.

  29. You’re probably right spam box. I’ll go to bed. But it gives William some bits and pieces for his piece on fixed term parliaments.

    I should give up before I get on to the tied 1909 election result in Newfoundland, and the bizarre flip-flop government created by parliamentary deadlock in Naura. Even constitutional lawyers glaze over on those ones.

  30. What an extraordinarily bizarre thread! The headline is a remarkably high ALP number from a big sample over two weekends, segues into paranoia and U.S. constitutional law and early twenty century political arrangements and meanwhile the Mumbai debacle continues. Tonight spoke to mates with family and friends in Mumbai and they’re O.K., but really worried.

  31. J-D@42

    I wasn’t going to mention the Chartists but yes their role in Australian democracy is one of the great untold stories of this country. A lot of them were transported out of England to the colonies in the 19th century, so I’m not surprised at all Australia has enacted all of the Chartist aims other than annual elections (and we got unusually short 3 year terms).

    I also wasn’t going to mention my predilection for annual elections because I know the public is not ready for it yet, and also a lot of people on pollbludger are enamoured by the whole “professional politician thing” and look upon elections as a nasty inconvenience for political parties, branches and sitting members!

    But I actually think annual elections would really work. People say that politicians spend their first year being nasty, their second year governing and then their third year electioneering, but I think given annual elections, the public would very quickly learn to reward long-term thinkers rather than short term populism. The result would in effect be a smoothing out of the election cycle from its current distortion.

    In fact, as a sop to the major party luvvies here, although I am generally a spoiler and dislike incumbency, annual elections I believe would assist incumbents.

    Failing all that, I still think we could do federal-state-local on fixed three year terms. Three years is a very very long time. It’s not the 1970s any more, most jobs these days are four years or less, regular people’s performances are usually judged once or twice a year by management. If 2-3 year jobs and regular performance reviews are good enough for CEOs and engineers, they’re good enough for politicians!

  32. The idea of giving a first term government an extra year is actually a very interesting idea, and I was initially very taken with it, but as I thought about it I think in fairness you can’t have the “reward for winning” different for candidates competing in the same election.

    This is because voters would take the differing rewards into consideration when they voted, tilting the election unfairly in favour of either the incumbent or the challenger.

    If culturally Australian voters turned out to either like voting often or voting not as often, it would begin to affect whether they voted for the incumbent or for a switch!

  33. Well, it’s a pretty small island in the middle of Pittwater in Sydney’s north. I’m stunned that it is good for Labor though… although given that it would be a very safe Liberal area I guess anything is possible. They do have their own drama group, so maybe that’s where the lefties are hiding out 😉

  34. I remember Scotland Island from the Pittwater by-election in 2005. I see from my post at the time that the Greens vote at the 2003 state election was 48 per cent. I also notice that my comments threads were a bit shorter back then.

  35. Dario @ 92, mostly people in Mumbai are shocked, according to my mates. The siege, of course, is not yet over, and people there are still having to deal with the ongoing nightmare.

  36. This is what happened in the Queensland Parliament on 29 October in Cairns:

    Division: Question put—That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.
    AYES, 62—Attwood, Barry, Bligh, Bombolas, Boyle, Choi, Croft, Cunningham, Darling, English, Fenlon, Foley, Fraser, Grace, Gray, Hayward, Hinchliffe, Hoolihan, Jarratt, Jones, Keech, Kiernan, Lavarch, Lawlor, Lee, Lucas, McNamara, Mickel, Miller,
    Moorhead, Mulherin, Nelson-Carr, Nolan, O’Brien, Palaszczuk, Pearce, Pitt, Pratt, Purcell, Reeves, Reilly, Roberts, Robertson, Schwarten, Scott, Shine, Smith, Spence, Stone, Struthers, Sullivan, van Litsenburg, Wallace, Weightman, Welford, Wellington,
    Wells, Wendt, Wettenhall, Wilson. Tellers: Male, Finn
    NOES, 25—Copeland, Cripps, Dempsey, Flegg, Gibson, Hobbs, Hopper, Horan, Johnson, Knuth, Langbroek, Lee Long, Lingard, McArdle, Malone, Menkens, Messenger, Nicholls, Seeney, Simpson, Springborg, Stevens, Stuckey. Tellers: Rickuss, Elmes
    Resolved in the affirmative.
    Motion, as agreed—
    [That this House notes that the government has already publicly released the Cairns Base Hospital and associated services clinical services plan on 14 April 2008 and that cabinet based its decision about the new Cairns Base Hospital on this document. Further that this House calls on the Leader of the Opposition to produce to the Assembly within 28 days all documents that his shadow minister considered in producing the press release about the Cairns Base Hospital issued by the member for Caloundra.]

    Contrasted with the Liberal National Party’s contemptuous reply to the parliamentary motion today:

    [Mr McArdle said it was a bit rich for the Beattie-Bligh Government to demand the release of documents the Opposition uses in its policy considerations, when it blocked access to public documents through its so called Freedom of Information (FOI) process.

    “The Premier and Health Minister’s political games are legendary. Their ongoing attacks on public servants, doctors, nurses and paramedics means the Opposition cannot release documents that could identify potential whistleblowers,” he said.

    “As a Member of Parliament, any public servant or other person, has a right to speak to Opposition MPs and provide us with information without the fear of a Beattie-Bligh Government political vendetta. That’s a democratic right and it should not be compromised by the Labor Party’s games.”]

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