Budget minus three days

No Morgan poll this week – in a half-baked attempt to tie the headline to the post, here’s a link to an analysis by Possum posing the question, “is there a polling budget effect?&#148 (short answer: no). With that out of the way:

Greg Roberts of The Australian reports on the demise of a Queensland Coalition deal in which Barnaby Joyce was to move to the lower house and Liberal Senator Russell Trood was to maintain the existing balance in the Senate by joining the Nationals. The Liberals’ end of the deal was reportedly vetoed by federal Liberal president Alan Stockdale, prompting Joyce to angrily declare he would not be moving from the Senate. Trood’s factional ally, former state Liberal president Bob Carroll, says he would stake his life on Trood never agreeing to sit in the Nationals rather than the Liberal party room. This would seem to be a pretty big call, given that Trood’s alternative is to stay in the surely unwinnable fourth position on the Liberal National ticket.

• Fans of factional argybargy can unearth a motherlode of detail on Labor’s western Melbourne fiefdoms from the Victorian Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank City Council. Among the matters examined is the highly fraught preselection for last year’s Kororoit by-election, with the Ombudsman recommending an investigation into a possible breach of the Local Government Act by failed aspirant and former mayor Natalie Suleyman. It is alleged that a funding decision for a sports ground redevelopment was influenced by a desire to win the support of Keilor MP and Right powerbroker George Seitz, and that efforts were made to withdraw the funding when Seitz failed to come through.

Peter Kennedy of the ABC notes that preselection nominations for federal Liberal seats in WA close in less than three weeks, so those gunning for the removal of Pearce MP Judi Moylan and O’Connor MP Wilson Tuckey don’t have long to get their act together. Matt Brown tells Kennedy he hasn’t made up his mind whether to launch a second challenge against Dennis Jensen in Tangney, although jockeying in local branches suggests otherwise.

Bernard Keane of Crikey reports that Bronwyn Bishop’s hold on the larger branches in her electorate of Mackellar has “slipped”. One of the potential challengers, believe it or not, is former state Opposition Leader John Brogden. Another is a blast from an even more distant past – Jim Longley, who preceded Brogden as member for the local state seat of Pittwater.

• Western Australia’s minority Liberal-National government lost a vote in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, which I believe to be the first defeat for a government there in 17 years. At issue was a highly contentious bill to replace preferential voting at local government elections with first-past-the-post. However, the defeat resulted from the absence of four ministers from the chamber, and the bill was passed on a second attempt later in the day. The subject of the bill itself is obviously worth discussion, which I will attend to eventually. For whatever reason, the seemingly retrograde measure has the support of the Western Australian Local Government Association.

• A report by the Youth Electoral Study for the Australian Electoral Commission finds 20 per cent of youths aged 18 to 25 are not enrolled to vote, and “close to half” wouldn’t vote if it wasn’t compulsory. Those who went to private schools or were subjected to civics classes were somewhat more enthusiastic.

• You might recall some chat last month about a looming referendum on the introduction of a Hare-Clark style electoral system in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Well, that’s happening on Tuesday.

• Possum’s favourite word, “spiffy”, doesn’t do justice to his infographic electoral demographic displays.

• If it’s analysis of major party submissions for the federal redistribution in New South Wales you’re after, Ben Raue of The Tally Room is unequivocally your man.

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.

596 comments on “Budget minus three days”

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  1. Re the NSW fed seat of Mackellar. I’d like to see Brogden win pre selection for that seat as it was his own party that robbed him of becoming Premier of NSW. I feel that he would have won in 2007.
    With all the activity going on now with the stimulus funds going out to local Council and every school in Australia and the subsidies going to Solar power to homes, that next months unemployment figure goes down again or at worst remains the same.
    Where I live, the Solar Power installers are offering a 1kw Grid Connected Solar Power System fully installed, for the cost of the rebate, if we can have 100 homes sign up.
    Considering that we are mostly pensioners or self funded retirees on fixed income, this is an offer I will be taking on, as the difficult part was having to pay up front. Before this offer there where already 60 homes signed up out of a total 190 homes.

  2. Denis Atkins gives Possum’s work on Turnbulls satisfaction ratings (or lack thereof) a run in the Courier Mail.

    [The number that grabbed people’s attention was Labor’s five-point slide in primary support from 47 per cent to 42 per cent.

    But, to drive home Catsaras’s point, the 42-35 major party spread in this Newspoll is not any different from the 43-35 margin in the first poll of 2009.

    The level of support for the Rudd Government has been rock-steady since the middle of last year, driven by a solid – and growing – level of confidence in what they are doing and the fact ministers appear to have a plan for getting through the recession.

    Turnbull will have to turn his approval/disapproval numbers around if the Coalition is going to improve its position.

    The lesson of Lawrence Springborg is all too clear.]


  3. Yesterday, it was the shocking news of Toyota’s big loss since 1963. Today, the US economy is in depression country. The job loss number is down but apparently 60,000 is due the temporary census workers hired by the US Govt. The unemployment rate is predicted to go to 11%.

    Australia’s 5.4% is looking very good indeed, especially at one time 5% was regarded as full employment. No wonder The Rudd Govt is riding high.

    [US labour market losses eased in April with 539,000 jobs axed, while the unemployment rate hit 8.9%, according to data on Friday suggesting the economy remains weak but may be stabilising.

    February – 681,000, March – 699,000, April – 539,000

    The US economy suffered a massive 6.1 per cent output decline in the first quarter of 2009 after a 6.3% pace of decline in the fourth quarter of 2008.]


  4. Rupert wants me to pay for this?:

    [Inside the walls of SuperMax
    Pics and video: Jailhouse lock in SuperMax, Goulburn

    Let’s talk about sex, baby
    NEARLY half of all Australians have had a drunken sexual encounter they have later regretted, research shows.

    Death in a world of violence
    THE two Frisoli brothers slain in their Rozelle home …

    A MAGISTRATE blasted NRL footballers
    for thinking they are a “special class of people”….

    She can talk to the animals
    YOU may be receiving a message from a dearly departed pet trying to reach you from beyond the kennel…

    It’s a Top Model catfight!
    TOP Model bogan Cassi Van Den Dungen has come under fire…

    A length jail perm
    Schapelle Corby’s new job…

    Actor Sutherland charged in alleged head-butt
    Keifer Sutherland has been charged with allegedly head-butting…

    Sam Newman on sex watch
    THE TV regulator has placed boofhead Sam Newman on bad behaviour watch…

    Mauboy gets personal
    IN the middle of a special effects rainstorm, Jessica Mauboy yesterday poured her heart out about her mystery ex-boyfriend…

    Shelley’s Logies nipple slip
    GRETEL Killeen’s performance may have been the low light of the Logies but Shelley Craft generated plenty of chatter.]

    More sterling additions to the annals of quality journalism from today’s Daily Telegraph’s front page.

  5. Smith offers Damir Dokic consular assistance – http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25451149-5010361,00.html

    [THREE days after allegedly threatening to blow up the Australian embassy in Belgrade, Damir Dokic has been offered consular assistance by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.]

    Another anti-Labor Oz piece. Any Australians overseas are offered consular assistance, just like anyone has the right to be represented by a lawyer in a court. Talk about a beatup…

  6. The Liberals must wish they had an equivalent of Labor’s N40 (?) rule (the one allowing head office to select a candidate by bypassing local branches).

    There needs to be a way of booting out Bishop, Tuckey, plus more than a few others, if they choose not to go quietly.

    Brogden would be an asset to the federal party, and as mentioned he certainly deserves a chance after being shafted at state level.

  7. bob

    There’s a flaw in that article. It says:

    [The Government is winning the law and order debate and the Liberals can’t go harder than the ALP without advocating the return of public hangings.]

    That wouldn’t work because Rann would bring back “hung, drawn and quartered” if MHS went for public hangings.

    On a more serious note, the article doesn’t mention the RAH/stadium debate which seems to be favouring the Libs. Strange omission.

  8. Re 5,

    Bushfire Bill, further to my original post late on Friday evening, more on Rupert and the net 😀

    Rupert, in other words, is mad as hell about the Internet and is going to do something about it.

    I’ve pointed out before that Murdoch doesn’t know where the Internet is—doesn’t get email, doesn’t use a computer, can’t get his cell phone to work. He may, literally, never have opened a web page. News Corp. itself, other than its fluke purchase of MySpace—whose value rose and then, as Facebook surged ahead, crashed—is even more culturally uninterested in digital media than other digitally averse traditional media companies. So when Murdoch has to say something on the issue—when that’s what the company thinks Wall Street wants to hear—there’s a chicken-without-head scramble in the company to find someone whose been on the Internet to brief him.


  9. Why should taxpayers pay compensation on behalf of James Hardie? If the company can’t pay, liquidate it’s assets. This is ridiculous. It’s a private company. It’s got nothing to do with Rudd and the taxpayer.

    [VICTIMS of the James Hardie asbestos scandal will appeal to the Rudd Government for a financial bailout, as the special company fund set up to make huge compensation payouts faces a $350million shortfall.

    The appeal follows an admission that the James Hardie asbestos compensation fund established in 2006 cannot meet its payment targets over the next three to five years because of the impact of the recession on the building products company. ]


  10. More sloppy work from the OO:

    “The explosion happened minutes before a nine-person party from HMAS Childers had relayed a “high-threat situation” on the boat. ”


    -surely the explosion happened *after* the “high-threat situation” warning had been relayed?

    Whatever happened to subeditors? They used to be the sharpest readers on a newspaper’s staff, who would rather have self-immolated than allow an error this dumb through. Don’t media proprietors realise that simple clangers like this call into question their entire content?

  11. [On a more serious note, the article doesn’t mention the RAH/stadium debate which seems to be favouring the Libs. Strange omission.]

    I don’t think it’s favouring the Libs, despite The Advertiser’s pro-Liberal rants.

  12. I probably would “pay” for something like this from Paul Kelly.

    But then if he made silly analysis like this: “Treasury analysis shows net debt for other advanced nations will hit 62 per cent of GDP this year. The reason Australia’s debt level is so low, to Labor’s good fortune, is because the Howard government eliminated the debt. It is Howard’s gift to Rudd”. I wouldn’t pay.

    The gift was from PJK and China, not Howard.

    [Turnbull got another political hook this week with Newspoll proving what the politicians knew: by a huge 78per cent to 17 per cent, people prefer the stimulus to be spent on infrastructure, not handouts. This gives the Coalition a triple attack: the cash handouts were a waste; they added to debt; and they are now forcing harsh savings cuts.

    The truth is that Rudd and Swan, to this stage, have followed the economics textbook. The spiralling budget deficit is caused two-thirds by the revenue collapse (totalling $200 billion over four years) and one-third by the stimulus package. The cash injection was quick and temporary. Moreover, about two-thirds of the stimulus package, mainly infrastructure in schools, will be flowing over the next 18 months.

    The truth, however, is that Australia’s public debt is modest, close to the lowest among industrialised nations, only 5 per cent of gross domestic product at the start of this year but bound to rise higher.

    Treasury analysis shows net debt for other advanced nations will hit 62 per cent of GDP this year. The reason Australia’s debt level is so low, to Labor’s good fortune, is because the Howard government eliminated the debt. It is Howard’s gift to Rudd. ]


  13. bob

    The phone poll of 600 or so said it was about 60-30 against the redevelopment. You can’t get any better evidence that it’s favouring the Libs. Don’t forget the same poll had Labor with a healthy lead. Are you discounting both results of the poll or just one? 😉

  14. Dio, i’m sure that given the choice between the Libs lucky dip of three RAH redevelopments, against the Labor choice of a new RAH, people will go with the new RAH. And people don’t vote governments out for building a new hospital – especially a Labor government to be replaced with a Liberal government.

  15. The Finnigans @ 13..

    To be fair it may have been PJK’s idea, and he may have kicked it off to a good start, even play the first three quarters brilliantly, but Howard then didn’t drop the ball, at least as far as paying down debt was concerned.

    But that’s basically all he did. He didn’t accumulate much either by way of savings… he just left the bank balance at zero: better than debt, but not as good as being well in the black. At the end of Howard’s time we had run down infrastructure, over-inflated housing prices, winners and losers being picked based on their potential to deliver marginal seats to Howard and all the rest of it: Iraq, Tampa, Haneef and so on, a resurrection of the Australian xenophobic ugliness.

    But strictly speaking Saint Paul has a point: without Howard’s zeroing of the debt (to all practical purposes), even if simply by continuing PJK’s good work and ideas and not fumbling, we’d have been in a much deeper hole than we are now.

  16. bob

    I think Hill has lost the RAH debate and will continue to do so. No-one believes anything he says as he’s the most spin-driven pollie we have. He’s hoping it will go away as he keeps taking hits on it. I fully agree that it won’t be enough to get the Libs over the line but it will cost them a couple of seats IMHO. The Libs are so hopeless on Health (Chapman is possibly the worst shadow health minister ever) that they won’t exploit it to it’s full potential.

  17. Apart from banning the export of coal and iron ore it would have been impossible for anybody to drop the ball during the last decade if record revenues is the measure. There could have been no government for the past decade and it still would have rained money on Australia.

    Howard as a leader dropped the ball on just about everything. Leadership on racism, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, fairness, health, education and planning and development. In fact the Howard govt was pretty much like not having a government in many respects.

    The ship Australia sailed forward on auto-pilot without repairs and maintenance whilst the captain and crew were busy making sure the passengers feared imaginary monsters of the deep and repelled all funny looking boarders and ‘made’ them willing to clean the decks and pay the ship owners for the privileged.

    The Howard era was a once in a generation opportunity missed.

  18. South Australian State Election battlelines being drawn – http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,25269050-5018929,00.html

    [Labor will use the State Strategic Plan as its “bible”.

    This 10-year plan, 2004-2014, will be the touchstone for the Labor campaign, with constant references to its future targets and the goals that have been achieved so far.

    These references will reinforce the image of an achieving Government in control, with a vision that stretches beyond elections. It will resound to the sound of a Government working for the future. ]

    Done right, this will work well for Rann Labor. Wouldn’t you agree Dio?

  19. To control on line news Murdoch media would have to buy up the ISP providers and get laws made that enable them control the on line news environment.

    I would however like to see government slash print advertising and use a dedicated web site where possible and to provide small grants to people/groups to develop on-line news and opinion web sites thus ensuring a diversity of this on-line.

  20. bob

    I doubt that lots of things that will come up om the campaign were on that “bible”. I’m sure the Marj/RAH wasn’t. I doubt the desal plant was. The voters don’t want Strategic Plans, which they know are all BS. They want a competent Government they can trust. All Labor has to do is show MHS and the nobodies that he has hidden for the last three years and say “Who are these people and do you really want them running our state?”

    The answer is obviously no if you are a swinging voter.

  21. TP

    Good ole rupe is entering the twilight zone both literally and metaphorically

    the poor bugger thinks he is still master of the universe

    considering the likes of abc bbc cnn etc etc, the old dodder should realise he will simply price himself out of the market

  22. [but Howard then didn’t drop the ball, at least as far as paying down debt was concerned.]

    BB, how can you drop the ball when there was the river of moneys. Remember when fairfax had the saturday classified, it was the river of gold. fairfax was king and didn’t have to do a thing. Now? A bit like Rupe, gasping for air.

  23. [The phone poll of 600 or so said it was about 60-30 against the redevelopment. You can’t get any better evidence that it’s favouring the Libs. Don’t forget the same poll had Labor with a healthy lead. Are you discounting both results of the poll or just one?]
    Am I the only one who can see a contradiction in these figures and the argument that “it is favouring the Libs”? It seems most people are saying ‘We are against the development but don’t want the Libs in power’. Just how is that favouring the Libs? It’s certainly not doing their election chances any favours.

  24. Gary

    There is no contradiction in the figures. On the subject of the RAH, the voters are strongly on the side of the Liberals. There are many other issues in the SA election. Overall, the voters want Labor back but they are losing this issue. I fail to see a contradiction.

  25. Dio, if the issue is not translating into votes for the Libs then how strongly do people view this issue? It’s obviously not affecting their voting intentions.

  26. BB at #17,

    are you counting the billions Howard put towards soverign funds like the Future Fund when you say

    “He didn’t accumulate much either by way of savings… he just left the bank balance at zero”

  27. Gary

    I think it is affecting a few people’s voting intentions. Water is our number 1 issue by a mile, followed by health. But what is much more important than the “issues” is just how hopeless the Opposition is. The only time they get a break is when Labor stuffs up (like Kouts and his speeding fines) or when someone else does the work for them (like Prof Young on water, or the doctors on the RAH). I work with Jim Katsaros, who is the head of the Save the RAH group, and he doesn’t even bother talking to the Liberals because they are so hopeless.

  28. Dio, as far as the contradiction is concerned, for a political party the winning of a war is winning the election. Winning one battle (the hospital issue) but losing the war is not IMHO (and I’m sure for the Libs themselves) “favouring the Libs”.

  29. Thanks Gary!!

    I love the one with the nose drooping, how I feel just now

    I’ve got some spare time coming up, I’ll put some thought into an avatar and have fun finding out how to make it happen

  30. Gary

    It does bring up an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed. We’d need Possum to prove it but it looks to me that the Labor State Governments seem to have made a decision to forfeit the “better Health manager” in exchange for the more highly rated “better economic manager”, which has flipped their traditional roles.

    In Qld, Health was one of the few (?only) issues Labor was behind on. In WA, Labor was behind on Health as well. I’m pretty sure they would lose in SA too (and they obviously would lose in NSW) but they are trading it for points in the economic manager stakes. Health is a bottomless money pit and you could pour billions in and it wouldn’t touch the sides. Tactically, I think it’s a winner.

  31. Squigg @ 27:

    [BB at #17,

    are you counting the billions Howard put towards soverign funds like the Future Fund when you say

    “He didn’t accumulate much either by way of savings… he just left the bank balance at zero”]

    As I understand it, the Future Fund was not too many billions up front, and was actually a deposit to balance a liability (PS Super): in other words a zero sum game. Not a saving.

  32. [ NEW South Wales woman has tested positive to swine flu in Australia’s first confirmed case of the illness, Queensland’s chief medical officer says.


    She’s completely recovered, not infectious and contracted the disease in America weeks ago. Her tests show a “weak” antibody presence, no-one’s going to get sick because of being near her, but she’s all ours, and all over the front pages: space masks, goggles, Nicola Rixon press conferences, the lot.

  33. Mainstream Media At It Again, Bloggers Report
    May 8, 2009

    NEW YORK—The mainstream media—a loose consortium of corporate news outlets known for using professionally trained journalists who adhere to an editorial process—have once again completely missed the boat in their reporting of national events, outraged sources within the blogosphere said Monday. “When will the MSM dinosaurs realize that they’re TOTALLY irrelevant?” wrote 39-year-old part-time librarian James Last, commenting on coverage of Obama’s first 100 days in a scathing post that appeared on his blog, The LAST Word. “If the idiots at MSNBC, The New York Times, and WaPo could lift their heads from the money trough for a minute, maybe they’d write a story that’s not completely driven by the corporate agenda. I’m not holding my breath.” Right-wing bloggers were reportedly equally upset, with many singling out MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post as “shills” for the liberal agenda. At press time, an estimated 8.4 million bloggers nationwide were watching CNN.

  34. Paul Kelly:

    [The reason Australia’s debt level is so low, to Labor’s good fortune, is because the Howard government eliminated the debt. It is Howard’s gift to Rudd]

    Gorgeous George’s Howard’s gift to Rudd:

    [The core policy problem for Wayne Swan in dealing with the global recession is that the Coalition government left him with an unsustainable income tax mix that assumed too much from capital and took too little from labour.

    The shift in the tax mix would have been viable if some of the increase in company and capital gains tax was permanent. But the global recession put paid to that by returning collections to their pre-boom levels – 4 per cent and 0.5per cent of GDP respectively.

    This is why the budget was deemed to be in structural deficit: recovery alone wasn’t going to restore the surplus.

    This doesn’t reflect well on anyone. John Howard and Peter Costello must take most of the responsibility because they delivered what have now proved to be unfunded tax cuts and handouts between 2004 and 2007. ]


    Howie’s Indian giver. Give me Gorgeous George anytime. Too much Ned in Kelly.

  35. [The core policy problem for Wayne Swan in dealing with the global recession is that the Coalition government left him with an unsustainable income tax mix that assumed too much from capital and took too little from labour.]
    And you wait for it, the Henry tax review is going to propose cutting the business tax rate even further, because that is what other OECD countries are doing.

  36. Squealing, sooking and crying poor. Those poor coal executives are telling us the sky will fall in if they don’t get even more concessions. I love Greg Combet’s comment.

    [THERE has been an acrimonious start to negotiations between the coal industry and Greg Combet, the “troubleshooter” appointed to win its support for the Rudd Government’s delayed emissions trading scheme.

    The Australian Coal Association and executives from the biggest coal mining companies yesterday presented Mr Combet with an ACIL Tasman survey predicting the Government’s current arrangements for the industry would, over the first 10 years of the emissions trading scheme, force 16 coal mines in NSW and Queensland to shut prematurely, costing almost 10,000 jobs.

    It said that by 2015, 7600 jobs would be lost.

    But Mr Combet said after the meeting that “as a former union official I recognise an ambit claim when I see one and this is definitely an ambit claim”. ]


  37. Diogenes, do you suppose it’s possible to have an effective decarbonisation scheme that doesn’t adversely effect an industry which employs people to dig up carbon?

  38. Nope. They’re going to have to suck it up. Unless they diversify and move into geothermal or CCS or uranium. And we all know they don’t want to do that. They want the status quo. As did the dinosaurs. The coal industry is going to have to evolve or die.

  39. [The coal industry is going to have to evolve or die.]
    True, cos the only currently effective method of sequestering carbon is to leave it in the ground.

  40. [ over the first 10 years of the emissions trading scheme, force 16 coal mines in NSW and Queensland to shut prematurely, costing almost 10,000 jobs.]

    was there any mention of Vic and its brown coal ??

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