Essential Research: 61-39

Newspoll seems to have taken the week off, but there’s always Essential Research, which has Labor’s lead up to 61-39 from 60-40 last week. Also featured are questions on becoming a republic within the next few years (52 per cent support, 24 per cent oppose – the latter sounds a bit low), whether Australia should agree to allow Japan to conduct whaling if it limits its activities to the northern hemisphere (10 per cent agree, 81 per cent disagree), “how would you rate your loyalty to your employer” and “how would you rate your employer’s loyalty to staff”. Furthermore:

• The silly season endeth – Kerry O’Brien and Lateline are back, and parliaments federal, Victorian and South Australian resume today.

• The Australian Workers Union has released a comprehensive survey of workers’ attitudes to the global financial crisis, derived from 1016 interviews conducted by Auspoll. The headline finding is that 40 per cent fear losing their jobs in the next year.

• Parties’ disclosures of receipts, expenditure and debts are available for perusal at the Australian Electoral Commission, at least so far as donations of over $10,500 are concerned. Siobhain Ryan and Imre Salusinszky of The Australian and Bernard Keane of Crikey sift through the evidence; the latter also opens fire on the Coalition over its obstruction of legislation reversing the 2005 disclosure threshold hike. Keane notes that one travesty can’t be pinned on the previous government: that we have had to wait until February 2009 to find out what went on at an election held in November 2007. Anyone who imagines this has something to do with logistics should consider the practice in New York City, where donations have to be declared before election day and “made public immediately on a searchable, online database”.

• Antony Green returns from a fortnight in the wilderness (literally) with a belated post-mortem on the Liberals’ defeat in South Australia’s Frome by-election. As I suspected, independent Geoff Brock owes his win to a peculiarity of the state’s electoral system that saves ballot papers with incomplete preferences by assigning them the preferences officially lodged by their favoured candidate. Without this provision, 258 ballots that were thus admitted the day after polling day would have been informal, leaving Brock 38 votes behind Labor at the second last count rather than 30 votes ahead. Another issue has been brought to my attention by Kevin Bonham, who points to the fact that a certain number of Liberal voters harmed their candidate’s chances by voting Liberal rather than Labor. If 31 such voters had tactically switched to Labor, Brock would have been excluded and the distribution of his preferences would have given victory to Liberal candidate Terry Boylan. Public choice theorists call this flaw in preferential voting “non-monotonicity”, which is elaborated upon here (although Bonham reckons “some of their worked examples are wrong”).

• Antony also gets in early with a preview of Western Australia’s May 18 daylight saving referendum, which combines customary psephological insight with a keen eye for the state’s lifestyle peculiarities.

• Former Labor MLA Kathryn Hay will run as an independent for the Tasmanian upper house division of Windermere (extending from the outskirts of Launceston north to the proposed site of Gunns’ Bell Bay pulp mill), challenging independent incumbent Ivan Dean at the poll likely to be held on May 2. Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics reports that one of the the other two seats up for election, the Devonport-based division of Mersey, looms as a clash between Latrobe mayor Mike Gaffney and Devonport mayor Lyn Laycock. Mersey is being vacated by retiring independent Norma Jamieson.

• Staying in Tasmania, a recount has confirmed that the last remaining Labor candidate in Franklin from the 2006 election, Daniel Hulme, will assume the lower house seat vacated by former Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt.

• Mining magnate and former National Party director Clive Palmer is making himself visible as the Queensland state election approaches, having been profiled last week on The 7.30 Report and in a cover story for The Weekend Australian Magazine. The latest salvo in Palmer’s charm offensive is a demand of $1 million in damages for defamation from Anna Bligh, who said there was “something just not right about one billionaire owning their own political party” (the annual financial disclosures discussed previously list $600,000 in donations from Palmer to the Liberal and National parties). Sean Parnell’s Weekend Australian piece describes Palmer as a “notorious litigant”, who “once listed it as a hobby in his Who’s Who entry”. Palmer’s 18-year-old son Michael has been preselected as the Liberal National Party candidate for the safe Labor seat of Nudgee.

Rick Wallace of The Australian reports that Nationals-turned-Liberal Senator Julian McGauran will face a number of challengers in his bid for one of the two safe seats on the Victorian Senate ticket, with other incumbent Michael Ronaldson “widely expected to claim top spot”. The field includes prominent Peter Costello supporter Ross Fox, barrister Caroline Kenny and solicitor Cate Dealehr. Other names mentioned by Andrew Landeryou’s VexNews are Terry Barnes, a “former Tony Abbott adviser”, and Owen Lysaght, who ran as an independent in Chisholm in 2004.

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.

1,780 comments on “Essential Research: 61-39”

  1. [Mining magnate and former National Party director Clive Palmer is making himself visible as the Queensland state election approaches, having been profiled last week on The 7.30 Report and in a cover story for The Weekend Australian Magazine. ]

    He was also profiled on Today Tonight as well. (sorry no transcript) which was fairly lightweight, as opposed to a certain other political story 🙂

    http://au.todaytonight.yahoo.com/article/5289610/general/adventures-kevin747

  2. The AWU Report is very interesting. Naturally it is a bit of a put up job, but still. The workers surveyed must be living in some sort of the parallel universe. 48% apparently believe the Australian economy will either improve (22%) or stay the same (28%) next year. This must make them the most optimistic population segment in the world. They are also apparently looking to the Feds to look after things (interpreted as maintaining job security). If so, Rudd will be disappointing a lot of workers.

    Interesting too, to see (along with the Essential findings), that workers appear to be rediscovering their ‘loyalty’ to employers. After years of employers struggling to hold onto workers and dealing with high and very expensive workforce turnover, the loyalty shoe is shifting feet. Gens y and z in particular will have new learning to incorporate into their world views.

  3. Frank @ 2

    Golly, that really is a lot of travelling. Unhealthy. It would be interesting to have an inkling as to whether it is making an iota of difference other than wearing Rudd out.

  4. So, Ronaldson will get number one ticket in the Senate? Another excellent reason why only about one in three Australians can bring themselves to express a preference for the Liberals or the Nationals. His maiden speech in the Senate makes for interesting reading. If he were a fish, he’d be a coelecanth. (I apologize to any coelecanths that might be offended.)

    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/senators/homepages/first_speech/sfs-xt4.htm

    He is a ‘classical liberal, economically and politically.’ (Must be lonesome, these days).

    He is, ‘grateful that the powers of this place are limited because, like the founding fathers of the 1890s, Australians of today are cynical about the use of powers of this or any place to do good.’ (Why is he there?)

    Talking about the senate, he says, ‘This is an electoral system that would be completely alien to the house of review planned by the founding fathers, who instigated a system likely to give the government of the day a majority.’ (I am looking forward to him breaking ranks regularly and voting with the Government.)

    He fulminates against ‘Labor’s attempt to stall industrial relations reform…’ (That would be WorkChoices).

    He quotes Winston Churchill with approval. (Now, what did Churchill have to do with Gallipoli?)

    He believes that the Iraq War was justified because Saddam needed to be ‘reprimanded militarily’. (Golly, so must have been the other million odd victims of the war).

    The trouble with the other side (ie Labour, the Greens and so on) was that ‘they were morally adrift.’ (The Liberals and Nationals are paragons of morality?)

    He asserts that ‘Fractions and percentages matter for kids.’ He is a proud supporter of the ‘times tables.’ (Surely for these profundities he deserves number one place on the ticket?)

    With Ronaldson set to provide all the dead wood they could possibly need, McGauran should go.

  5. The Queensland National’s faceless men come into the spotlight to explain what a face is. I heard an interview on ABC radio yeasterday where Bruce McIvor was skiting of 13,500 National Paty members left from what was supposed to be a combined herd of fifteen or sixteen thousand.

    Obviously the Brisbane Liberals have not gone to the merger in numbers to make the new merger anything more than a National Party restructure. No wonder the Nationals wanted an early election in Queensland in the hope that it would be out of the way before Palmer grabbed total control of the campaign and all was lost.

    [Mr Palmer says he has no more influence than other party members but he says union donations to the ALP raise the same question about Ms Bligh.

    “Faceless men that run the ALP sitting in a little corner somewhere and decide who’ll be the government of Queensland; the face of Anna Bligh is just that, it’s a face,” he said.

    “[People think] ‘She’s a nice woman, she looks good, so let’s vote for her’ but it’s not her you’re voting for, it’s those people who put the $4.5 million in the Labor Party coffers.

    “The poor woman probably hasn’t got any control of the Government at all; I’m sure none of her ideas have any influence.”]

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2480076.htm

  6. I guess if QLDers vote the LNP into Government, they know they will have Palmer telling Borbidge what legislation to formulate and put into law. Which means that none of Borbidge ideas will have any influence.

  7. Regarding Justice Kerby’s retirement, I think calling him the great dissenter is an unfair title. It would be better to say that he was the conscience of the High Court at a time when it badly needed one. If that meant dissenting from the prevailing moral antipathy, then at least he had the courage to do so. Some of his critics lacked similar courage.

  8. If nes reports are correct the Obama administration may be headed for its first major policy failure if they go ahead with a bank bailout (as opposed to buy out) in the US:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/opinion/02krugman.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    What I don’t understand about the US is why aren’t there thousands of people out marching on the streets about this. Every citizen is about to get suckered with a huge debt from other’s greed and incompetence. In France or Greece they’d be burning buses.

  9. [f nes reports are correct the Obama administration may be headed for its first major policy failure]

    Soc, the first failure? So far Obama has failed on:

    1. provide leadership on free trade. if all countries put up protection barriers, we are back to the future of the 30s. Just remember the Fuhrer.

    2. provide new politics of bi-partisanship. Not a single Repug supported his stimulus package at the Congress

    3. Stop being and looking like a Hollywood/bollywoood celebrity jivin rappin president. Start being a real President that can tackle the GFC and ME

    4. stop blaming other countries, like blaming China for manipulating the currency

  10. Paul Williams has great reality check for the Queensland Nationals here:

    [BRISBANE’S progressive Liberals will not vote for a party headed by a National. Lawrence Springborg’s LNP might suffer a devastating loss.

    Defeat comes dressed in many clothes, sometimes even disguised as victory. King Pyrrhus of Epirus in ancient Greece knew this better than most when, 300 years before Christ, his armies defeated the Romans.

    But Pyrrhus’s losses were so great he said: “Another win like that and we’ll be ruined.”

    After this year’s state election, Queensland may have its own King Pyrrhus.]

    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24996638-27197,00.html

  11. Socrates, at the present time Obama is the messiah who cant put a foot wrong, we’re still a bit that way about Rudd, we tend to forget they’re only human, Obama will be given leeway as he works his way into policy, like most he’ll come up with winners and a few duds, like Rudd he’ll have cheer squads all pulling in different directions, {go into the letters to the editor in the Australian} the sound of different ideas is deafening, the trouble is no one knows whats going to work, we’ve never been here before so it’s all going to be hit and miss, what one economist lauds another lambasts it as a failure, all we can do is sit back, enjoy the ride and hang on for the bumpy bits, at the very least it’ll make life interesting.

  12. steve,
    As a mere Southerner (and Liberal voter) I struggled to see the point of the LNP, right from its inception.
    I’m still struggling.

  13. It’s Marketing 101 – amalgamating brands (in this case Liberal and National) is dangerous – there’ll be people who identify with one or the other, but not with the combined brand. By combining, you run the risk of losing those people.

    Then you have the small problem that the two parties in Qld have generally despised one another (as a Liberal, my biased view is that this is the Nationals’ fault, but that’s beside the point).

    So I’m not sure why those Qlders thought this was going to work.

  14. [Turnbull you won’t even make it to Easter, Costello is coming!]

    LOL, Turnbull may very well not make it to mid-year, but Costello? No medical advances known to man can perform a moral fibre transplant. Abbott it is. People Skills!

  15. Finns

    1. There are arguments for temporary protectionism in a GFC so all countries pull their weight. See Krugman, Ron really seemed to enjoy the article.
    2. Why is it that it’s only the left who must be bi-partisan? We never heard that Bush had to be bipartisan. When the Repugs kept asking for more and more pork in the bill, Obama eventually had to remind them “We won”. Obama’s mistake was to keep the Repug pork in the bill, which they still didn’t vote for.
    3. He can’t help it if everyone loves him.
    4. All countries blame other countries. We’re all blaming the US aren’t we.

  16. Diog, it’s time you take your shirt and pay a homage to the Knowledge Trees of Macchu Picchu. And dont forget to take the delightful Mrs. D with you, she will show you which ones.

  17. [LOL, Turnbull may very well not make it to mid-year, but Costello? No medical advances known to man can perform a moral fibre transplant]

    A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic politician. Peter Costello will be that politician. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, …

    err maybe not.

  18. Finns 12

    I agree with you on free trade, though so far thats only rhetoric so I won’t count it till there’s a decision. But if so, yep that would be 2 policy strikes for Obama.

    I don’t agree on the bipartisanship. Obama held several meetings with the Repugs and they still didn’t cooperate; the fault lies on the other side or with congressional leaders there. Your third point is purely pejorative and nothing to do with policy: do you suggest he have a policy to change skin colour? Point 4 again is spin not policy.

  19. Grog, if they’re going to do a bit of rebuilding Costello could they please throw in a bit of cosmetic surgery and eliminate the smirk? 😛

  20. Considering that the problem in the Libs is still the schism between the nutbar-exteme right and the still-far-but-not-insane right, will Costello solve that? Don’t Costello and Turnbull both face a problem that they are too far “left” for most of their caucus?

  21. Although i dont think Turnbull is doing a bad job i suspect if Costello became our leader we’d drastically reduce the 20 point gap in the polls…

    Cossie should really have taken it in 2007 because 2010 could have been his year, especially when people want someone credible handling the economy…but i guess Malcolm and Julie will do…

  22. Glen

    The LNP really lucked out when Cossie spat the dummy and refused to take over. It led to endless leadership speculation, which is still going on, a period of crap leadership by Nelson who never seemed to know what he wanted, only to be followed by the hapless Turnbull (who I thought would do better) and the embarassingly incompetent Bishop (let’s keep the budget in surplus by cutting taxes). Seriously, I’ve got a better grasp of economics than her and I just read a ten minute article a day. What the hell is she doing?

    Cossie may not have been popular but Australians (wrongly IMHO) think he’s the best economic manager in the Parliament. What is he doing on the backbench when he could be making himself useful? It beggars belief.

    Judith
    Botulinum toxin would fix the smirk.

  23. Costello should be a part of the team or leave Parliament the last thing we need is a plum seat being held by someone who doesnt want to be involved…

  24. Judith 14

    I agree with you and overall I still like Obama as a leader. However when I say the bank bailout is a major error I’m not kidding. They will be paying off the debt for a long time, so this has lots of downstream political pain for him too. Its a mistake.

  25. Why hasn’t Costello been snapped up by the private sector? (He said that’s where he wants to go). I’d have thought that in these troubled times some organisation somewhere could use a gun with his alleged economic prowess.

  26. Glen I agree with your comments on both 24 and 26. Costello being distanced from Workchoices would help if he got serious about the leadership, but if not then he is just being a distraction.

  27. Just finished watching the Lateline interview of P.J. Keating on the ABC website. The man has an incredible understanding of the international financial system.

    People who make comparisions between him and Costello and contend that the latter was some sort of economic guru and comparable or superior, are living in a fantasy world.

    Basically all Costello did for 11 years was repeat Treasury “talking points” and dish out constant doses of middle class welfare from the minerals boom to keep his boss, Howard, in Government.

    Costello was exposed for the economic pretender he has always been, around mid 2007 and no amount of re-writing of historical fact can support the Libs contention of Costello as a “brilliant economic manager”. Pfffffttttt

    The reason Costello is laying low is that he has been found out for the fraud that he and the Liberal Party spin merchants covered up for so long. Why would private enterprise want to offer a position to someone so lacking in substance and backbone?

  28. [It’s a neat political package to keep Labor blameless, offering an incentive to keep Rudd in power in dire economic times and wrong-foot a Coalition that still argues about budget deficits when all the public cares about is jobs.
    The public knows things are bad and wants to know everything that can be done is being done, even if that can’t guarantee avoiding a recession.
    Rudd’s got the tone right, even if the public is still waiting to see what happens this year before recommitting to Labor.
    And even if the economy is still stalled in 2010, Rudd can argue, as he was yesterday about the pre-Christmas $10 billion giveaway, that things would be even worse if he hadn’t acted.]
    Guess which political journalist wrote these words and he is spot on. I never thought I’d being saying that about this bloke.

  29. GB
    You are right and that is what I have felt for a while. The GFC is so obviously nto Rudd’s fault that as long as he is honest about it and seen to act to fix it people will judge him well.

    Whereas those who oppose the action will suffer. Maybe Turnbull will become known as the great dissenter?

  30. Mr “wise in hindsight” Costello having a little snipe from the sidelines.

    [THE Rudd Government is rattled by the financial crisis and doesn’t have a good grip on the situation, former federal treasurer Peter Costello says.

    It was plain while the Howard Government was still in office that there would be enormous fallout from the US sub-prime crisis, but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had misread the signs and tried to dampen the economy when he came to power, Mr Costello said.

    On one hand the Rudd government was handing out $10 billion to boost retail spending before Christmas and planning to subsidise house insulation, while on the other it was trying to push through an emissions trading scheme and industrial relations legislation that would weaken the economy, he said.

    “It seems to me as if this is a Government which is unnerved. It’s unnerved because it’s called the economy wrong,” Mr Costello told Macquarie Radio.]

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25001386-5005961,00.html

    He just sits back quietly in the background on his hammock and every now and again rattles his tin cup against the bars.

    Sorry, Peter. No-one is listening anymore. Time to go back to sleep.

  31. On Sky News they say Rudd will hold a press conference at 12.30. It might be on that new A-pac channell too.
    I don’t know if the press are still idolizing Obama in USA but yesterday after the procession of Libs on ABC radio at midday the next story was about Obamas stimulus passing but without Republican support. They were ridiculing parts of it and had a Repub on saying stuff like millions were being wasted on something to do with bees and more millions to be spent on something with sex in it? sex eductaion I think? and also said more millions to be spent providing fleets of cars for govt workers. I was in the car and arrived where i was going so didn’t hear anymore.
    Is it me or does the ABC seem even more desperate this season?
    Even their Online site had a photo of Bishop most of yesterday saying how she’s putting pressure on the Govt!
    They might be getting their ABC1 and ABC Kiddies channels mixed up 🙂

  32. If Costello pipes up about the economy too much he could be asked some very awkward questions in reply. Now that the collapse of the Chinese economy and our mineral exports has happened and we clearly are headed for a recession, it illustrates how critical the Chinese boom was to Costello’s “success” as treasurer. Before this event, when the GFC first emerged last year, Australian growth declined but not to recession levels. But China going quiet has been critical for us. So how would Costello defending his lack of investment during our China-led boom, now that it is clear it really was exceptional circumstances?

    For that matter, fans of Workchoices could be asked the same question. With Australia catching cold after China’s sneeze, one might ask whether there was any job creation caused by Workchoices? We all know now what caused the job growth.

  33. The only policy the Libs have got is tax cuts, Fairfax news just said tax cuts are looking less likely to be part of 2nd stimulus package.
    Has Rudd been playing with Turnbull again, could the mole have leaked false info thus all the Libs shouting for tax cuts so that Turnbull would then take credit for them? Suckers.

  34. [See Peter IS a great economic manager. He knew what was coming. ]

    That’s questionable. He predicted the “financial tsunami” (his term) would originate in China!

    I believe he also said (though have no link to verify) that the US subprime crisis would not affect Australia.

    Hmmmm, Sleeping Prophet anyone?

  35. Socrates, it’s too well known Costello and Minchin formed the extreme right wing H.R.Nicholls society to bring about work choices, in fact Minchin apologised to them that Howards reforms didnt go far enough, theres no way Cossie can shrug that one off and if you dont think labor would use it in an election run your dreaming 🙂
    Dio, isnt botulinum toxin only temporary?

  36. [Now that the collapse of the Chinese economy]

    Soc, the Chinese economy has not collapsed. It is predicting to grow by 6% in 2009.

    Glen, i wrote yesterday that put Cossie in now and he will be in the Lodge by Xmas and we will be in surplus by 2010. Just do it.

  37. JB

    That’s the beauty of it. In six months the smirk will be back again, unless he wants a top-up.

    When’s Rudd going to invest some of that stimulus money in renewable energy and kill two birds with one stone? Or is he too beholden to mining interests?

  38. Good news for Glen and co. Deficit forecast:

    08/09 – $22B
    09/10 – $35B
    10/11 – $34B
    11/12 – $28B

    So by the time the Libs got back in 2013 – They claim, again, that they have to pay back $106B debt that the Labor has incurred. Bluddy hell, last time it was only $96B.

    Growth forecast:

    08/09 – 0.1%
    09/10 – 0.7%
    10/11 – 3%
    11/12 – 3%

    Sorry Glen, so recession it seems.

  39. [So by the time the Libs got back in 2013 – They claim, again, that they have to pay back $106B debt that the Labor has incurred. Bluddy hell, last time it was only $96B.]

    So in real terms it will be a stack less

  40. Judith 39

    Thanks actually I didn’t know that about Costello. I always associated Workchoices with Howard, Abbott and Bishop. I am not a Costello fan anyway, so if he has that Albatross around his neck as well then I agree he is toast.

    Finns 40

    Sorry I shoudl have said Chinese growth has collapsed. However because of the amount of structural change happening in China, I understand that they need an economic growth rate of around 5% per annum just to keep pace. So 6% growth is effectively stagnation for Chinese industry.

    I also agree with you the “stimulus” looks small. $42B over 4 years is only 1% of GDP per annum. Several money market economists were calling for up to 2% of GDP.

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