Essential Research: 51-49 to Coalition

The latest Essential Research survey is out, but they’ve sent it as a Word document rather than a PDF and for some reason WordPress won’t let me upload it (UPDATE: The good people at Essential have sent through a PDF). It has the Coalition maintaining its 51-49 lead for a third week running, though down a point on the primary vote to 44 per cent with Labor steady on 38 per cent and the Greens up one to 11 per cent. Other questions relate to gay marriage, which 50 per cent support but only 37 per cent consider important, and the National Broadband Network, with 69 per cent agreeing it is important that it be built.

Legal matters:

• The New South Wales government last week passed significant campaign finance reforms through parliament with the support of the Greens in the upper house, including several measures new to Australian practice which could set trends for the federal and other parliaments. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian described the bill, no doubt correctly, as “an intriguing mix of progressive public policy and political rat cunning”. To deal with its major features in turn:

Spending caps. Salusinszky’s “rat cunning” lies in the government’s decision to impose limits on electoral communication expenditure just as corporate donors fall over themselves to curry favour with a soon-to-be-victorious Coalition. More predictably and still more contentiously, the bill defines trade unions as third parties whose campaigning will not be affected by caps on party spending, even if they are affiliated with Labor (Barry O’Farrell has peddled legal advice claiming this to be unconstitutional), and treats the Coalition as a single party. Party spending in the six months up to an election will be limited to $9.3 million centrally and $100,000, amounting to another $9.3 million given there are 93 electorates. It should be noted that “electoral communication expenditure” excludes such expensive party operations as polling and other research, and there is a view abroad that this means it is not as restrictive as it should be.

Donation caps. Apart from the largely symbolic $50,000 cap on donations from the gaming industry in Victoria, these have previously been unknown in Australia. The legislation caps donations at $5000 per financial year to parties, not counting party subscriptions of up to $2000, or $2000 a year to candidates or elected members. Furthermore, donations have been banned altogether from the alcohol and gambling sectors (together with the tobacco industry at the suggestion of the Greens), which have done so much to fill NSW Labor’s coffers over the years. This move is particularly interesting in light of recent retirement announcements by Paul Gibson and Joe Tripodi, who are renowned for having built their influence as conduits for such funding. This will apply not only to hotels and the Australian Hotels Association, but also to Coles and Woolworths owing to their liquor retailing activities. However, a late agreement between Labor and the Greens saw the exemption of non-profit registered clubs.

Public funding. The parties have compensated themselves for donations caps with what will amount to a hefty increase in public funding, under new arrangements that rupture the traditional link between votes cast and funding received. Parties that score more than 4 per cent of the vote will instead be reimbursed for their electoral communication expenditure to a maximum of a bit under $10 million. Parties or candidates only running in the Council have been treated more generously at the insistence of the Greens – constitutional expert Anne Twomey says this might create legal problems as one type of political entity will be favoured over another, though George Williams says this is “arguable”.

Further north:

AAP reports Queensland Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has committed to sweeping electoral reforms if elected to government, including truth-in-advertising laws, campaign spending caps, electronic voting and a referendum on fixed terms if elected to government. In contrast to the spending cap just introduced in New South Wales, Langbroek proposes that campaign spending by (presumably Labor-affiliated) unions would count as part of Labor expenditure. In addition to these largely laudable measures, Langbroek also proposes to require that voters provide photo identification at the polling booth, citing spurious concerns about voting fraud to justify an effective restriction on the franchise to his own party’s electoral advantage.

Jeremy Pierce of the Courier-Mail reports that a Gold Coast couple is challenging a fine for failure to vote in last year’s state election on the grounds that they did not know the election was on, having “never received one bit of information about it”. University of Queensland Law School academic Graeme Orr’s newly published The Law of Politics: Elections, parties and Money in Australia (available now from Federation Press) relates a number of unsuccessful challenges against fines brought by voters on the basis that they lacked a genuine preference between the candidates on offer, but nothing of this kind. UPDATE: Graeme Orr writes in comments: “There is case law rejecting a defense of ‘I had no information about the candidates’. They might win by arguing the general criminal law defense of honest mistake of fact.”

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.

4,251 comments on “Essential Research: 51-49 to Coalition”

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  1. [she was sacked from the Nixon Impeachment Committee for unethical conduct. ]

    Diog, i see you are back to the old man river where you used to enjoy swimming among the sheeeeets.

  2. [We are safe. If nobody believes it; it can’t affect us.]

    The drought breaking is probably another factor, certainly related to the “just a normal fluctuation” thing. It’s despairing!

  3. Zoomster,

    [Dio, I’ve never heard of Hillary being kicked off a team for unethical behaviour. Sounds a bit like a Republican smear to me, particularly as she later became a partner in a major law firm. ]

    She got into strife there too which cost her quite a deal of money to get out of and never really got cleared of the smear.

  4. [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the state of the economy, the central bank’s controversial $600 billion bond-buying plan and the financial crisis. Following are excerpts from the interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley, as released by the network:…

    Q: Is keeping inflation in check less of a priority for the Federal Reserve now?

    A: No, absolutely not. What we’re trying to do is achieve a balance. We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above two percent or less.

    Q: Can you act quickly enough to prevent inflation from getting out of control?

    A: We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time. Now, that time is not now.

    Q: You have what degree of confidence in your ability to control this?

    A: One hundred percent.]

    “One hundred percent.” Really?! Most economists hedge their comments just a little.

    Reminds me of a lovely story about some senior official in the Reichesbank during the Weimar Republic, sincerely believing to his dying day, that its conduct of monetary policy did not result in hyper-inflation

  5. No, it doesn’t, Diog.

    What happened to ‘innocent until proved guilty’ which was getting a bit of a run here before?

    If he thought her behaviour was unethical enough to fire her, he was grossly negligent if he then didn’t report it to the proper authorities.

  6. In an interview at the weekend, Abbott had the gall to accuse Gillard of lying. He said wtte just repeating something over and over doesn’t manke it true. The clash of pots and kettles in my kitchen was ear-splitting.
    However, there is one phrase which he has won with: he insists on calling it a “carbon tax” and many PB-ers follow that.
    1. Putting a “price on carbon” is not the same as a “carbon tax”.
    2. It should be called “pollution” not carbon and perhaps more people would understand.

  7. z

    What happened to using Hillary’s work on the Nixon Impeachment as a reason to listen to her protestations over Wikileaks?

    That argument doesn’t look very healthy to me.

  8. Someone needs to remind the previous government as to the way they treated David Hicks IMO before throwing stones as to how this government is handling this wiki leaks business.

  9. If you are so easily convinced by political smear spread during a fierce political campaign there is no point discussing it. Just it is a ridiculous thing to repeat as verified fact a you keep doing when it is unverifies gossip.

  10. And the campaign against smoking required massive levels of government advertising and bans on advertising and indeed the act itself to get to where it is now.

  11. [Kezza
    Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Someone needs to remind the previous government as to the way they treated David Hicks IMO before throwing stones as to how this government is handling this wiki leaks business.]

    Yep we need to make sure that if there is a current law in place that Assange has broken; he should be brought home and trialled for it.

    The govt should also be looking at whether our exisiting laws are sufficient. We should not be caught out like we were on Hicks.

  12. You can’t get clear of smears – that is the point – reports to authorities, hearings evidence meh let’s skip due process and go for smear.

  13. Zoomster 4188
    You say you never heard of Clinton being kicked if the Nixon inquiry.
    It happened back in the 1970’ies of course
    Perhaps before your time..??
    One of the principal legal figures in the inquiry ,Jerry Ziefman wote a book “Withour Honour” about the whole affair…of which I guess you have not heard either ?

    Ziefman,far from being a Republican stooge as you suggest, was a Kennedy admired from way back and a’re wrong on that one too
    What Clinton…then a minor legal researcher was to be aligned with some Democrats who didn’t …repeat DID NOT…want Nixon impeached,believing that if he was left”swinging in the breeze” till the next election it would make a Democrat victory certain !. They feared that stupid Gerald Ford would be hard to beat !!! of course as it turned out Jimmy Carter won in 1976.showing how wrong Clinton and others were in their judgment.

    So you’re wrong to say Hilary’s critics are Republican inspired…though in all fairness to the scheming woman she might have been a better president than the disasterous Obama

  14. diog

    how so?

    As I said, her experience with Nixon shows her understanding that some secrets should not be kept from the public. My (brief) reading of the material from her accuser is all about her making docs available not concealing them.

    So if she now advocates some secret keeping then I would suggest she understands that, although some secrets should be revealed, others should be kept.

  15. Tweet

    From Twitter


    .@Pollytics maybe something for Crikey to investigate…
    about 1 hour ago via web in reply to Pollytics
    .@Pollytics It would be interesting to see polling specifically addressing this theme. I think a lot of Crikey subscribers are blue green. about 1 hour ago via web in reply to Pollytics

    Well at least ONE!!!

  16. [And the campaign against smoking required massive levels of government advertising and bans on advertising and indeed the act itself to get to where it is now.]

    And that was after all the legal fights to prove smoking wasn’t harmful, when most people realised that smoking caused harm, even if they were unable to give it up. No doubt the energy lobby is willing to put in just as much money to fight belief in global warming.

  17. Gus

    [vexnews @StGusface Love the concept of encouraging leaks. Don’t like the endangering of ppl’s lives part of Wikileaks.


    Commonly known as balls=barbwire=caught.

  18. Ron ..
    .Now that Assange is putting out the stories about corruption among the major Swiss and US banks, will we be to told.. ad nauseum..that he in “endangering national security!”

    Certainly the banker-gangsters…”Banksters ??”will hate hearing the truth about their tax haven antics while demanding a bailout !
    There the ones who should be jailed !!

  19. 98-2 Ponting gone for 9 another for swan. 🙁

    B-G I agree if he is guilty then I hope he isnt left in limbo waiting his fate for years and years in some foreign jail.

  20. BH just popped in to see what was happening and saw your comment…

    [I reckon Kev should drop a few insights into what happened with Howard & Downer on all things Bush, Iraq and AWB. Can’t hurt him so why not. Come on Kev, leak some good stuff.]

    Agree 110%…he must have plenty on those barst–ds, it is time to throw the kitchen sink particularly on the AWB.

  21. [Diogenes
    Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink


    Why the donkey?]

    Nothing overly significant. Its photo I took of a donkey on a trip to a South American location. It belonged to a small boy of about 10. The donkey was carrying building materials up and down a steep Andean hillside in a village to help build decent houses in a slum.

    Both the boy and the donkey seemed quite happy.

    Or I could have said I selected the avatar to blend in here.

  22. z

    Ponting is doing more to demoralise Australia that Assange has.

    He is clearly not acting in the national interest.

    I say throw the book at him.

  23. [zoomster
    Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Are we talking about jailing Ponting?

    Seems a bit harsh.]

    In some South American nations the punishment is much worse.

  24. oh hai

    [ JulianBurnside Speak out in support of Julian Assange. Whatever he has done, he is a citizen, entitled to the protection of his country. Let him come home ]


  25. The hard thing for the Australian Selectors is who to leave in the side.

    Hussey. Ponting. Haddin.

    No-one else is really a gimme, given their performances over the last 12 months.

  26. [Agree 110%…he must have plenty on those barst–ds, it is time to throw the kitchen sink particularly on the AWB.]

    dave – if nothing comes out of the Wikileaks he should. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, surely but I’m really in the Zoomster and Jasmine camp about these leaks.

    I hope all these blokes have thick hides and take the leaking of their comments on the chin but what does it mean for ever being able to be honest to allies and compatriots in the future.

  27. [Diogenes
    Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink


    I thought it might be Buridan’s ass, with you not knowing which pile of food to go for, on the Left or Right]

    No, but very apt.

    I think I would starve rather than make a choice these days. No third option?

  28. I agree with Burnside – bring the boy home to Australia. The questions would then be around what nature of accommodations he got here and if he would ever again have the privledge of a passport.

  29. This doesn’t look too promising for those who are desperate to silence him through the court system.

    [However, U.S. charges against Mr. Assange are unlikely: He is not a U.S. citizen and, because he did not steal the documents himself, but only participated in their publication, he would likely be protected under the U.S. Constitution’s free-speech provisions.]

    On the other hand, it does make you wonder who exactly is breaking the law in regard to this matter.

    [That did not stop more figures from suggesting that Mr. Assange should be harmed or killed – a circle that includes Canadian Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told a TV interviewer last week that Mr. Assange should be assassinated (he later apologized for the remark).

    In an online interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Assange said Mr. Flanagan “should be charged with incitement to commit murder.” ]

  30. I have heard nothing from the government saying he would not be allowed home. Options were discussed earlier by the A-G but cancellation of his passport has been ruled out.

    If he is allowed home then it would all depend on what, if any, charges he faced here or OS, especially in America. If he does come home and is charged by another country with some offence then any response by Australia should be the same that would apply in any similar situation.

  31. [zoomster
    Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I thought the test was whether he weighed the same as a duck?]

    Yes, to extend medieval logic.

    Ducks also float.

    So if someone weighs the same a a duck; he must be a witch.

  32. Gusface

    I actually did study the Medieval witch trials at Uni!!

    It provided me with a lot of insights into human behaviour.

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