Inner city Greens (make me wanna holler)

The Victorian election is living up to its billing as the latest battlefield in new paradigm politics, with the Liberals finding themselves shunted from the front pages by a stoush between Labor and the Greens. At issue are the professional activities of the Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, SC, who has been targeted over his legal work for accused war criminal Konrad Kalejs and a company associated with coal mining. After a furious response from the legal fraternity and the liberal end of the Melbourne media (The Age playing a tellingly distinct role in the controversy from the Sunday Herald Sun), most have concluded Labor’s attack has badly misfired, with Andrew Crook of Crikey going so far as to argue it has doomed Melbourne MP Bronwyn Pike to certain defeat. The correctness of this view depends largely on the resolution of the campaign’s other Greens-centric controversy: the split in the Liberal Party over whether to continue placing the Greens ahead of Labor on how-to-vote cards.

The behaviour of major party preferences has been little studied, as in the normal course of events they are not distributed. Of much greater interest has been minor party and independent preferences and their bearing on major party outcomes. The only substantial interruption to this picture in recent times came with the emergence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, who Labor and eventually the Coalition parties both saw fit to put last. Hanson herself topped the primary vote when she contested the new seat of Blair at the 1998 federal election, but was thwarted when about three-quarters of Labor preferences went to Liberal candidate Cameron Thompson. When state Labor advised voters to simplify matters with a “just vote one” strategy in 2001, made possible by Queensland’s optional preferential voting system, the rate of exhausted Labor votes shot from a third to three-quarters. These episodes confirmed what scrutineers had long known about major party voters’ observance of how-to-vote cards.

Even more helpfully, a ballot paper study conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission after the 2006 election (thanks to Peter Brent of Mumble for alerting me to this) encompassed all four of the electorates under consideration, and found the rate of obedience among Liberal voters ranging from 30 per cent in Richmond to 45 per cent in Brunswick. With those Liberal voters who didn’t follow the card favouring the Greens over Labor about 60-40, the total rate of preferences to the Greens was consistently around 75 per cent, or slightly below the 80 per cent recorded in Melbourne and Batman at the federal election. As a rough guide, it can be inferred that a change in the Liberals’ how-to-vote policy would cut their preference flow to the Greens from the high 70s to around 40 per cent.

The likely impact of this is best considered in light of recent voting patterns. The table below shows how the state electorates voted both at the 2006 state election and the recent federal election (results from the latter being derived from booth results with slight adjustments made to account for declaration votes). While the latter figures have the advantage of being more current, they are unavoidably contaminated by specifically federal factors.

2006 STATE
Melbourne 45% 27% 22% 48% 40%
Richmond 46% 25% 20% 46% 39%
Brunswick 48% 30% 17% 45% 40%
Northcote 53% 27% 15% 42% 37%
Melbourne 36% 37% 22% 57% 49%
Richmond 39% 37% 20% 55% 48%
Brunswick 46% 31% 19% 48% 41%
Northcote 46% 33% 17% 49% 42%

On the basis of the 2006 state election, the order of dominoes would look to be Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote, with some distance separating the last two. The federal election results tell a slightly different story, with the Greens in a substantially stronger position in Melbourne and Richmond than in Brunswick and Northcote – remembering that the former two constitute most of federal Melbourne, where Labor suffered the loss of Lindsay Tanner’s personal vote. By the same token, it should be remembered that Labor is losing incumbent Carlo Carli in Brunswick, where the contest could be further complicated if former federal independent Phil Cleary runs as an independent. The last two columns in the table project the Greens’ two-party vote in scenarios where they do and don’t receive Liberal preferences, and herein lies the rub. With Liberal preferences, they look to have Melbourne and Richmond in the bag, as well as being highly competitive in Northcote and Brunswick. Without them, they could yet emerge entirely empty-handed.

Personally, I would be very surprised if a party in a system as adversarial as our own saw fit to grant such a huge free kick to their real enemy. But at the very least, it will be interesting to see if the Liberals can do better this time in Greens preference negotiations which have traditionally been entirely fruitless for them.

UPDATE: Sam Bauers in comments makes the good point that the VEC study shows how Liberal voters behave when the how-to-vote card reflects their expectations: a change in policy might increase the rate of rebellion.

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.

159 comments on “Inner city Greens (make me wanna holler)”

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  1. Inheritance tax or its more common version estate tax (the difference is between whether the amount revived by the beneficiary or the amount left by the deceased) are taxes to make the economy fairer by reducing the ability of the wealth to be inherited rather than earned and thus their proportion of total wealth. Most rich people are wealthy not because of earning money but because of inheriting it. Real supporters of meritocracy (rule based on merit) support inheritance tax.

    Wealth taxes also help in keeping the proportion of wealth held by the wealthy down.

    The ALP is trying to make the policy unpopular by calling the target of the taxes “savings” when the targets are fortunes that were mostly inherited anyway.

  2. 46

    No the rich and powerful strongly oppose them and stir up opposition whenever they are tried. Governments committed to equality and fairness stand up to these people.

  3. [deblonay
    Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Higher company taxes and a high tax rate for the wealthy..and death duties on the super rich all sound fine to me.(..perhaps a new wealth tax too on valuable personal collections/vintage cars/valuable antiques…Mitterand did that in France !)
    Once they were a staple of Labor policy…why no more !]

    Keating came up with a better idea, capital gains tax. It’s very hard not to pay it on a persons assets when he/she dies, and you collect on the way.

  4. 53

    Much of the Green vote support these policies. Being prepared to take on the powerful and harmful lobbies like the wealth continuists is one of the major reasons than people vote Green rather than ALP.

    Well explained distributionalist policies are likely to be popular. Much of the economic trouble in the US at the moment is because the wealthy have too much of the wrealth and thus the wealth is not moving around in ways that create enough jobs.

  5. Rod Hagen
    [Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Hi fredn,

    In the previous thread you suggested that Victoria’s credit rating was Aaa.

    That is the Moody’s rating (and the last revision I’ve seen was May this year).

    Standard and Poor’s , however, give Victoria a AAA rating – see HERE.]

    It was looking at the Vic treasury site and it was Moody documents I was looking at. The Federal debt is rated AAA by Moody’s so there is a difference if you believe the credit agencies are of any value.

  6. 55

    I am arguing for meritocracy (rule/reward for merit of actions) which is more capitalism than communism. Inheritance is one of the major reasons that laissez-faire capitalism produces such unequal results. You have not provided any refutation for my argument. You have only called it “Communist”. Is your real name Senator Joseph McCarthy?

  7. 58

    Most people would benefit because most people are not super-rich. “We will significantly raise taxes on people richer than you and spent it on services like health, education public transport etc” is likely to be rather popular.

  8. I’m saying the notion of the proletariat having a false or misguided political conciousness is fundamental tenet of the Communist philospohy. That is why we, the people, need the unerring guidance of self appointed leaders who truly understand what the truth is.

    This is all very politics 101.

    But, your words stripped of their frippery are saying exactly this.

    Your a cadre and you didn’t know it.

  9. 61

    I see no reason not to have both. Spreading the tax to make it harder to avoid is good.

    Also one should not accept your statement as entirely true because it is a lot often easier to do thing to increase the value of assets subject to capital gains tax that it is to do things to inherit and get away with them and it is easier to get save up and by and/or borrow to buy than have something to inherit.

  10. 63

    When did I say proletariat? I did not. Society needs the bourgeois/middle class and their ideas like democracy and civil liberties and the middle class should be as big as possible (these are very un-Communist things to say). You are still just calling my arguments Communist and not providing and counter arguments.

  11. Tom,

    Your undelying premise for “No the rich and powerful strongly oppose them and stir up opposition whenever they are tried”, is that voters are incapable of cutting through the crap.

  12. 66

    Many voters are but many do not and this number is greater when arguments go un-argued and un-publicised. Most voters do not pay much attention to politics (often for good reasons like working so they can eat and pay their bills) and as such are more subject to scare campaigns. Wealth is good at generating campaigns to keep it concentrated.

  13. Rod Hagen
    Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    ‘ABC TV 7 pm news ran a story naming Government Ministers and members who don’t live in their electorates, including the Premier. Did the reporter check if the boundaries had changed? I think not! Sounded like the yarn came straight from LIBERALS Party HQ. Or was it the GREENS ? ‘

    “Or perhaps one of the ALP factions that Brumby doesn’t belong to, Scringler?”

    feline response

    clearly a Liiberal or Greens dirty trick feed to ‘our anti Labor ABC’

  14. 68

    I am sure that they like being re-elected by their electorates but If you do not live in or even near an electorate then you spend less time in it, meet less of its voters, are less effected by its issues and are generally less in touch with it.

  15. Tom,

    Caught out wearing a Freudian slip while hiding in the Communist closet.

    My experience is no one cares if an MP lives in their area as long as they get good service throught the Member’s office.

  16. 70

    The article mentions several specific examples of members not living even near the boundaries of their electorate.

    Black Rock is no where near Western Metro.

    Elwood is not in or near Eastern Victoria.

    Albert Park is not in Derrimut (includes parts of Sunshine).

  17. 72

    You mean that the office gets few complaints about its MP lives elsewhere. The opposition to out of electorate representation is stronger in rural areas. There are always people who care and the issue is not always whether people care but whether it is better or not.

  18. Tom

    “Inheritance is one of the MAJOR reasons that laissez-faire capitalism produces such unequal results.”

    clearly you neither undrestand capitalism & econamocs (let alone trusts , FBT , overseas havens , asset splitting etc , gosh so many etc’s )

    youse is going to vic voters with this polisy , so tell me th Greens forcast revenue it will earn from it in Vic in 2009/10 yr or 2010 /2011 yr

  19. 74

    I was responding to Ron asking in 70 whether it was because of boundary changes and whether or not this was because of boundary changes and they lived nearby and thus a nefarious beat up. I was pointing out it provided examples of it not being.

  20. 76

    I never said they were the only way capitalism is distorted or the inheritance is the most major way capitalism is distorted.

    Trusts are largely under taxed legal structures or reducing and avoiding taxes legally for not much in the way of benefit to society. Trusts are also often iheritance by stealth.

    Fringe Benefits Taxes are taxes on non-money income and are just and good.

    Overseas tax havens are evil and should be boycotted out of existence and then eventually banned by a world democratic Government.

  21. Tom

    if you look at my 370 , i never said that Scingler did , who was suggesting it was a Liberal or Greens dirty trick about which MP lincl Brumby lived where

    I quoted Rod Hagens reply suggesting it may be a labpor story , rather feline of him

    Anyway you know damn well MP’s can legally reside outside there electorotes for a range of legit reason , incl disdabilitys family , kids school etc

    s in scheme of thing afecting job , educ , transport , econ etc challenges of vic electon this is small chips and legal

    BTW you’ve switched talking from your Greens inheitanse Tax polisy !
    how bout answering my #76

  22. 81

    I know perfectly well that MPs can like anywhere in the State. What is being questioned is whether or not this is good. Why are they not sending their children to the schools in their electorates? Surely they should be having the schools in or near their electorate upgraded so they can send them there. Same with disability services. Many people live in one part of Victoria and regularly visit family in other parts of Victoria. I don`t see many of the ALP MPs offering much in the way of excuses.

    The Greens do not have economic modelling services at their fingertips and have to rely on offering their policies to Treasury but this was refused before the Commonwealth Election in August (but the hung Parliament has allowed the situation to change for next Commonwealth Election).

  23. Tom

    #60 “Inheritance is one of the MAJOR reasons that laissez-faire capitalism produces such unequal results.”


    #79 “I never said they were the only way capitalism is distorted OR the inheritance is the MOST MAJOR way capitalism is distorted.”

    “one of the MAJOR reasons” VS “is not the MOST MAJOR way “….contradictory

    even IF youse wanted to rip off th alleged wealthy ONLY , doing it when they is dead th wrong method !! and will produce worse econamic results as well

    death taxes polisy frankly is terrible on numerous grounds , and is based on dogma that wont achieve intended results , but likely reverse

    (BTW as for your expectation of a future ‘world democratic govt.’)

  24. Williams analysis is showing his Green bias. Take a closer look at the 2010 Senate vote. and then the below the line vote. This is t6eh break benchmark to use in an assessment of the Greens chances of winning seats in inner city Greater Melbourne. Analysis shows that the ALP needs to expose the Greens to more scrutiny of policies. Of they do then the Green vote will drop. The debate within the Liberal National Coalition over preferences is seriously dividing the LNP. The more this is leaked to the public the more it will also impact on the Liberal parties chances of winning.

    The Greens can not deliver the Liberal party and preferences deals in the lower house. The only house where the greens can influence the outcome is the upper-house (Thanks to the ticket vote- Voters will not know who they are voting for in terms of preference distribution – only 3% of the electorate vote below the line.). If as suggested the Greens will try and secure a Liberal preference deal., Without the Liberal Party support the Greens have no chance of winning any inner city seat other then Hawthorn, we will know if the Greens are holier than thou come November 14. then the gloves come off and the campaign really heats up.

    Any suggestion of a split ticket would be seen and exposed for what it is a payback deal to assist the LNP giving the Greens preferences. we will know the outcome of the upper house election on Monday November 15.

    Contrary to Williams analysis I think the Greens have hit the ceiling and are rebounding. the Senate vote was the high tide mark. That’s not saying it is not close. It is. The ALP runs the same risk Kennett did in 1999.

    The only candidates that are under real threat are Pike and Wynne in that order – outside chance in Brunswick. (No Great lost if they do lose)

    The last thing Victoria needs is a hung parliament with Greens holding the balance of power.. And the Liberal Party membership know this also

  25. 83

    On what grounds is inheritance tax bad policy?

    I did not say I expected a world democratic government. I said there should be one. I do however think that the world is moving glacially towards a world democratic government that will take hundreds of years to get up.

  26. The Greens 69% of the time voted with the Liberal-National Party in the upper-house.

    On that basis the ALP should preference the DLP and other minor parties before the Greens.

    Why would you vote Green and destabilize Victoria’s economy? Better the devil we know then the pitfalls of a Green vote

  27. 86

    The ALP voted with the Coalition more than the Greens.

    The main problems with voting Green is that not enough people do the same.

  28. GREENS MLC Greg Barber has today made it clear that he represents only the inner-suburban part of his large northern metropolitan upper house seat.

    Barber – an ..inner-city resident …has told the Herald Sun that he only needed to travel in Zone 1 (of the public transport network) to obtain ALL the information he NEEDED AS A MEMBER of Parliament.

    “Green Party MP Greg Barber said the trips must be good value and it isn’t clear they all reach that level. ‘ANY of the information that I need, ALL IT TAKES is a Zone 1 travel pass,’ he said.

    And yet his upper house seat – Northern Metropolitan covers a large area including the outer northern suburbs and parts of regional Victoria to Melbourne’s north.

    Parts of Barber’s electorate he professes not to need to visit and that sit outside Zone 1 include:

    Jacana, Broadmeadows, Coolaroo, Roxburgh Park, Craigieburn, Upfield, Gowrie, Reservoir, Ruthven, Keon Park, Thomastown, Lalor, Epping, Whittlesea, Arthurs Creek, Doreen, Kangaroo Ground, Heidelberg, Rosanna, Macleod, Watsonia, Greensborough, Montomorency, Eltham, Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen, Arthurs Creek, Christmas Hills, Cottles Bridge, Diamond Creek, Hurstbridge, Plenty, Warrandyte North, Whittlesea, Yan Yean, Yarrambat, Kinglake West, Research and St Andrews.

    An approximate tally suggests more than half of the voters of Barber’s electorate live outside areas serviced by Zone 1 stations.”

    Tom , so GREENS MLC Greg Barber is a hypocrit on your own arguements tonite
    He damn well does not even travel to most of his electoroate !

    (BTW as to MP’s not living in there seat , sure there is personal or family reasons most times , anyways is not critical election polisy issue , and wont change any votes)

  29. Why? Another form of censorship being imposed.. not allowed to emphasise facts and headings.

    If you do not want people to use BOLD then disable it from the options list

  30. [GREENS MLC Greg Barber has today made it clear that he represents only the inner-suburban part of his large northern metropolitan upper house seat.]

    This says it all… No wonder why they have not seen the Greens in the electorate

    [If you live outsiode the Inner city DON’T VOTE GREEN]

  31. Tom

    “Inheritance is one of the MAJOR reasons that laissez-faire capitalism produces such unequal results.”

    this does seem dogma based

    Just to repeat , clearly you neither undrestand capitalism & econamocs in making that statement , its riddled with gross misconcepts , let alone globilsized finance issues

    (and thats bfore taking in issues like trusts , FBT , overseas havens , asset splitting etc , so that what is now there wont be much under youse with above estate plannig)

    IF you actualy wish to tax wealthy more , then be preapred for finance consequenses

    Furthermores at least be clever (and open publicly) IF you want too tax wealthy more , thn tax them more when they is alive in higher tax rates , highr corporate tax rates , and incr FBT tax and th like numerous taxs & lower concess options availabel But again accept th many varyin consequences

  32. One issue which reoccurs again and again on radio talk-back is public anxiety over the new eMeters now being installed.
    The costs many hundfreds of dollars will be added to the Bill over some yearsl added annually,and then they fear the many stories of huge price rises will effect them.
    This issue has been running for months without much effort from the Libs…
    Yesday Batchelor.the Energy Minister gave his usually convoluted and arrogant answers
    He insists one will have to use power at the cheaper times…but you must buy a special instrument to work out when this is.
    One elderly lady asked him did this mean they would have to cook dinner at Midnight!!
    It’s great for the power companies who will sack meter readers and save money none of which will go to the public…which as I said has to pay for the meters.
    This is a sleeping isssue and dynamite for Brumby.Just you wait and see.
    It is running under the radar!!

  33. Montmorency and Eltham are in Eastern Metro Ron.

    I’m not making an excuse for Greg, even though the chances are high that he was misquoted.

    I’m simply stating that you should check your facts before posting.

  34. Mick S

    [Labor is on the nose because it doesn’t want to do anything to offend anyone; no guts, no leadership.]

    Beg your pardon?

    North south pipeline, draining Lake Mokoan, removing cattle from the High Plains, supporting wind farms in areas where the local object, various projects involving the compulsory acquisition of land, dredging the Bay, desal plant, new National parks (incuding marine) etc etc.

    All hard decisions which genuinely upset people.

    What is interesting is that – in so many of these cases, where the action taken was to ensure good environmental outcomes – the Greens were MIA.

    [To put it bluntly over a million people voted for the Greens last federal election, you have to ask your self why! ]

    Oh dear. This is exactly (almost to the word) the defence that Hanson’s followers used for years.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the Greens as a party will be more durable than Hanson. But one has to remember that what killed her was that rising numbers of voters meant the media put her policies under more scrutiny.

    The Greens have to be prepared for the same.

    It’s easy to bash the majors, because their policies and actions are there to be judged. Much harder with a minor party.

    We’ve had a couple of examples in my lifetime of parties which have come from nowhere, built a substantial support base, and then crashed and burned because their increasing voter base has meant increased scrutiny.

    No support for the government’s actions in removing cattle from the HPs. No policy on windfarms, let alone standing side by side with the govt to defend them. No explanation that draining LM was necessary.

    The Greens wimp out when it comes to defending environmental policies.

  35. Oh, and it’s worth asking why the Greens support base is mainly inner city – about as far away from the natural environment as you can get.

    From my discussions with my inner city Green voting friends, it seems to be some kind of guilt thing.

    Can’t do anything very practical for the enviro themselves (very quickly exhaust all the options by cycling to work, whacking on some solar panels, planting a wattle in the courtyard), like going bushwalking on the weekends (once a year perhaps, and even then more often in the breach than the observance), think trees are cool…vote Green.

    And, being well educated, they like to think that they understand politics and see through the machinations of the big parties. They want to vote ethically (which I have no objection to).

    In fact, they have (in my experience) little or no understanding of practical politics or the constraints governments operate under.

    They’re too cynical to bother actually trying to understand what’s going on; all they know and all they need to know is that the majors are, by their very nature, corrupt and unethical. They do the usual rationalisation thing of gathering evidence which supports this, rather than actually analysing what’s happening.

    So they can’t do much for the environment themselves, feel vaguely guilty about this, and distrust the major parties on principle.

    This is why the Greens policies are irrelevant to them. They’re the Greens, so they must be for the environment, and they’re not the majors, so they must therefore be unsullied.

    Which is why I believe the Green vote will continue to grow but will reach a point where it stagnates, just as the Dems vote did. What they need to be careful about is that it then doesn’t go backwards, which it is very likely to do if they do gain real power at some point.

    At which point, they’ll be replaced by another alternative.

  36. [Dave

    Montmorency and Eltham]

    It depends where in Eltham and Montmorency you live. St Helena (Eltham North is the dividing line. The boundaries are strange indeed. There is no community of interest. Dividing the state into five regions ( 3 urban 2 rural) as opposed to eight produced a better more defined Community of interest definition. ( a 9 x 5 upperhouse would have produced a far more represenative outcome) A model that was not even considered by the so called independent electoral commission.

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