Melbourne (state) by-election: July 21

NOTE: With less than a week to go until polling day, I have changed the time stamp on this post to return it to the top of the page.

Wednesday, July 18

John Ferguson of The Australian reports the ReachTEL poll mentioned in the previous entry produced the following results on the primary vote, with minor candidate preferences said to be evenly divided between Labor and the Greens:

Cathy Oke (Greens): 38.1%
Jennifer Kanis (Labor): 36.5%
Fiona Patten (Australian Sex Party): 6.1%
Stephen Mayne (Independent): 4.3%
Ashley Fenn (Family First): 3.8%
Others: 11.2%

The sample on the poll was 400, resulting in a margin of error approaching 5%. However, we are also told that 25% of those who voted Liberal in 2010 were backing Stephen Mayne and 17% were backing Family First, which raises a difficulty: given the Liberals polled 28% at the election, it should lead us to expect at least 7% for Mayne and 5% for Family First. (UPDATE: Nick Adams from ReachTEL responds in comments. In fairness to them, recollections of past voting behaviour are notoriously unreliable.) The poll also reported that 70% would be influenced one way or the other by the performance of the federal government, and that 50% expressed opposition to the Baillieu government’s East West Road Tunnel project against 28.3% who supported it.

Tuesday, July 17

George Hasanakos at Poliquant offers a very handy analysis of the by-election, including a table laying out the various candidates’ preference recommendations, present or former party affiliations, and, where applicable, shares of the lower and upper house vote at the 2010 election. The post further evaluates past by-elections where the Liberals did not field a candidate, federally and across all mainland states, going back as far as 2005. It finds that on average the Labor primary vote fell slightly while the Greens went up 7.4%, with other candidates taking up the 20.9% balance. Projecting that on to the 2010 results for Melbourne points to a lineball result: assuming minor candidates’ preferences will flow 70-30 in favour of the preferred party on their how-to-vote card, results range from 52-48 in favour of the Greens to 53-47 in favour of Labor, depending on how votes spread among minor candidates of the left and right.

However, this strikes me as being at the high end for Labor, as it assumes the Greens’ yield from a Liberal absence to be unrelated to its base level of support in the relevant electorate. In fact, experience indicates the Greens tend to stay becalmed in by-elections held in Labor’s low-income heartland, whereas they mount strong challenges in seats behind the proverbial latte curtain. This is borne out if the results from the 11 relevant by-elections are charted to show the relationship between the Greens vote at the previous election (the x-axis) and the swing to them at the by-election (the y-axis).

This shows a statistically significant relationship (though statisticians would no doubt quibble that there are too few observations) in which every percentage point of existing support for the Greens is worth about half a point of swing to them at a Liberal-free by-election. On that basis, a “par for the course” primary vote result for the Greens would be in the mid-forties (as it was in the by-election for Fremantle which I keep going on about, which is represented as the top right data point on the scatterplot), rather than the 38% calculated by Poliquant. Like Poliquant, I should stress that this is intended to illustrate what result might be considered “par for the course”, rather than an actual prediction.

For that, we are better served by opinion polls. On that note, Andrew Crook of Crikey reports ReachTel conducted an automated phone poll of the electorate last night, to be published in an undisclosed newspaper over the next few days – remembering that ReachTel’s last by-election poll, for South Brisbane, had a small sample and overstated the Labor vote. Josh Gordon of The Age further reports that a poll conducted, for some reason, by the Liberal Party in late May suggested a very close race: the Greens had 40% of the primary vote compared with 39% for Labor, with 21% for others or undecided. It is interesting to note that whereas supposed Labor polling suggested Julia Gillard was an encumbrance for them, supposed Liberal polling found her to be very popular in the electorate. Daniel Andrews on the other hand was said to be recognised as Labor leader by only two-thirds of respondents.

Sunday, July 15

The by-election campaign having been sucked into the vortex of national politics, Canberra press gallery journalists have been having their overheated way with its federal implications. Geoff Kitney of the Australian Financial Review writes: “The idea that the toxic unpopularity of the Gillard government has seeped so deeply into the Labor brand that it could lead to the loss of an iconic state seat to the Greens will add urgency to debate about Gillard’s leadership and about the challenge Labor faces from the Greens.” Similar themes were pursued by Michelle Grattan in The Age under a piece headlined, “A byelection defeat will cause shock waves in Canberra”.

Certainly the loss of a seat which has been in Labor hands since 1908 (outside of an interruption during the 1955 split) would be a significant electoral milestone. However, as the Greens came within 2.0% in both 2002 and 2006 before being poleaxed by Liberal preferences in 2010, the suggestion that a win this time should in and of itself cause “shock waves” is pure hyperbole. As I noted at the start of proceedings, this by-election has a lot in common with that in Fremantle in May 2009, in that it confronts a state ALP still recovering from an unexpected election defeat with a struggle to retain a once-safe seat where the rise of the Greens has changed the game. The results at the preceding general elections were very similar in both cases: in Fremantle, 38.7% for Labor, 30.2% for Liberal and 27.6% for the Greens; in Melbourne, 35.7%, 28.0% and 31.9%. Then as now, the decisive factor was how homeless Liberal voters would divide between Greens and Labor. In the case of Fremantle, the split was sufficiently in the Greens’ favour to deliver them a 4.0% win after preferences – with nary a word from anyone about implications for a federal Labor government which enjoyed towering opinion poll leads at the time.

Weeks before elements of the ALP launched their rhetorical offensive against the Greens at federal level, a small-sample Morgan poll of Melbourne voters found the Greens headed for a very similar result to the one they enjoyed in Fremantle, which has been consistently reflected in the betting markets. It therefore seems a bit rich for Michelle Grattan to crash the party at this late stage with claims a Greens win would amount to “an existential moment for the deeply depressed federal Labor Party” – something which is being served up on a weekly basis by the polls in any case.

Thursday, July 12

The offensive launched by elements of the ALP against the Greens has cross-pollinated with the by-election, with Daniel Andrews joining the assault. This raises questions about how many votes Labor stands to gain from Liberal supporters and lose on the soft left. The Australian has reported Labor internal polling is “understood” to have Labor’s primary vote in the low 30s and the Greens “well ahead on the primary vote”. Labor has publicly accused four candidates of being “stooges” of the Greens: Berhan Ahmed, African refugee, former Victorian of the Year and a former Greens candidate at both state and federal elections; climate activist Adrian Whitehead; public housing advocate Kate Borland; and Stephen Mayne. However, Ahmed has in fact lodged a how-to-vote card recommending Labor be put ahead of the Greens. The deadline for registering how-to-vote cards is tomorrow. Sportingbet has the Greens at $1.25 and Labor at $2.50.

Thursday, July 5

Stephen Mayne has lodged a complaint over a “smear sheet” which targets his activities as a Manningham Councillor (which can be viewed on Mayne’s website). Speaking on Jon Faine’s ABC Radio program yesterday, Mayne said the material was being circulated in Docklands and East Melbourne “anonymously and in breach of electoral laws”, and pointed to its accusation of a “grubby deal” between himself and the Greens as evidence it came from Labor. Labor state secretary Noah Carroll rang Faine’s show and condemned the dissemination of material without authorisation notices, but appeared to intimate that Mayne might have been responsible for it himself. The full audio from Faine’s program can be heard here.

Wednesday, July 4

Review of the by-election campaign from Adam Brereton in New Matilda.

Wednesday, June 27

Chris Hingston of the Melbourne Times Weekly reports Stephen Mayne has announced he will direct preferences to the Greens ahead of Labor, not unexpectedly given the centrality of the poker machines issue to his campaign. Labor has been distributing how-to-vote material which puts Stephen Mayne at number 12 and the Greens at number 15, with Family First (number seven) well ahead of both.

Friday, June 22

Nominations closed yesterday, with a huge field of 16 candidates emerging which, unsurprisingly, does not include a Liberal. The candidates in ballot paper order are independent Berhan Ahmed; Michael Murphy of the DLP; independents Gerrit Hendrik Schorel-Hlavka, David Nolte and John Perkins; Jennifer Kanis (Labor); independents David Collyer and Patrick O’Connor; Michael Murphy of the DLP; independents Joseph Toscano, Stephen Mayne, Kate Borland and Adrian Whitehead; Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party; Cathy Oke (Greens) and Maria Bengtsson of “Australian Christians”, who are news to me.

Tuesday, June 12

Roy Morgan has published results of a phone poll of 365 respondents (for a margin of error of about 5%) conducted from Thursday to Sunday which gives the Greens a fairly solid 54-46 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 48.5% for the Greens, 37.5% for Labor and 7% for Stephen Mayne. Somewhat ballsily, respondents were offered the option of “Independents or Others including Gary Morgan and Kevin Chamberlain”, the former being the principal of the firm conducting the poll, who was a candidate for the last lord mayoral election and evidently plans to nominate for the by-election. This option received the support of 7% of respondents. Meanwhile, NineMSN reports that Family First’s state director, Ashley Fenn, will be a starter.ber

Wednesday, June 6

Crikey founder, shareholder activist, anti-pokies campaigner and serial candidate Stephen Mayne announced earlier this week he will run as an independent.

Tuesday, May 29

The election timetable has been published. The closure of nominations, followed by the ballot paper draw, will be at noon on June 22.

Sunday, May 27

July 21 has been set as the date for the by-election. I’ve promoted this to the top of the page and added a link to the sidebar in the hope of reactivating the comments thread.

Wednesday, May 16

The Greens have preselected Cathy Oke, and her council colleague Jennifer Kanis has been confirmed as Labor’s candidate. Kanis was elected to the City of Melbourne council in 2008. NineMSN says Oke “was elected to the City of Melbourne council in 2008 and is senior project manager at education organisation Kids Teaching Kids”. She was chosen ahead of Rose Iser, a former Moonee Valley councillor and staffer to Adam Bandt, and Sonny Neale, said to be involved with “environmental and arts businesses”.

Tuesday, May 8

A diverting by-election looms in the Victorian state seat of Melbourne, former minister Bronwyn Pike evidently having made the not unusual decision that opposition is not for her. This electorate is of course a dead zone for the Liberals, such that the parliamentary balance of 45 pro-government and 43 anti-government members is certain to go undisturbed. However, it offers a golden opportunity for the Victorian Greens to achieve what they have never quite been able to manage: victory in a state lower house seat.

Bounded to the south by the Yarra River, the electorate of Melbourne extends north through the city centre to the suburbs immediately to the north and north-west. The more easterly part of what is generally considered the inner-city constitutes the equally Greens-friendly seat of Richmond, and the two together constitute most of federal Melbourne. The map below shows two-party Labor-versus-Greens polling booth results from the 2010 election, with the font size varying according to the number of votes cast. As you can see, only in one booth did the Greens score a two-party majority, that being the Carlton booth nearest to the University of Melbourne campus.

Electorally speaking, three tendencies can be observed within the electorate. About 60% of the voters are in the inner northern suburbs (together with the booths in the CBD itself, which are presumably used by many voters who don’t live there), where Labor and the Greens were each worth about a third of the vote and the Liberals roughly a quarter. In Docklands and East Melbourne, high-powered city centre types drive the Liberal vote well into the 40s, although these booths only count for 12% of the total vote. The remaining quarter of the voters are in Flemington and Kensington which, being on the far side of the CityLink motorway, mark the beginning of Labor’s western suburbs heartland – albeit that the gentrification of Kensington has complicated this picture in recent years. Flemington however remains high in public housing and low in median income, and the area collectively shares a voting pattern of weakness for the Liberals (barely 20%) and strength for the Labor (over 40%, and approaching 50% in Flemington).

Emphasising the point that the Greens are a very recent phenomenon in Victorian state politics, the party did not bother to field a candidate in Melbourne as recently as 1999, when Labor was worth 59.3% of the primary vote. In the wake of a breakthrough result at the 2001 federal election, the Greens well and truly had their act together by the 2002 state election, when the strength of their performance in the inner-city was the only complication in a picture of electoral triumph for Labor across the state. In Richmond, Northcote and Brunswick as well as Melbourne, the Greens gouged double-digit shares of the primary vote from both major parties, overtaking the Liberals and landing short of victory by respective margins of 3.1%, 7.9%, 9.3% and, in the case of Melbourne, 1.9%.

This inevitably engendered high hopes for the party at the next two elections, but they were met both times with disappointment. A late-campaign publicity blitz by Labor in 2006 was credited with keeping Bronwyn Pike’s slender margin intact, and Labor also held its ground in Richmond. Then in 2010 came a disturbing development for the Greens, with the Liberals jettisoning their practice of directing them preferences ahead of last-placed Labor. This resulted in a comfortable 6.2% win for Pike, despite the primary vote gap between Labor and the Greens shrinking from 17.2% to 3.8%.

With the Greens achieving near equality with Labor on the primary vote, the behaviour of Liberal voters is now the decisive factor in all circumstances. The maths behind the 2010 result are demonstrated by ballot paper studies conducted in the electorate by the Victorian Election Commission after the last two elections, which both found about 40% of Liberal voters adhering to the how-to-vote card (those who went their own way split about 60-40 in the Greens’ favour in 2006, and 55-45 in 2010). As a result, the Greens’ 78% share of Liberal and other preferences in 2006 shrunk disastrously to 44% in 2010.

What remains unknown is how those voters would behave if the absence of a Liberal candidate denied them the cue of their favoured party’s how-to-vote card. Notwithstanding state party director Damien Mantach’s assertion to The Age that the party was “considering its options”, it seems intuitively unlikely that a party that wasn’t game to take on the Niddrie by-election in March (margin 6.9%) would chance its hand in Melbourne. That being so, the best pointer which exists is Western Australia’s Fremantle by-election of 2009, which also involved a senior minister in a defeated government pulling the plug in a seat where the Greens had been emerging over time into a serious threat to Labor. On the primary vote, Fremantle produced a similar result at the 2008 state election to the one in Melbourne in 2010: 38.7% for Labor, 30.2% for Liberal and 27.6% for the Greens, compared with 35.7%, 28.0% and 31.9%. The one important difference was the slightly weaker position of the Greens, which caused them to fall short of a Liberal Party which might otherwise have delivered them the seat through their preferences.

It’s presumably an ominous sign for Labor in Melbourne that the Greens were able to prevail at the Fremantle by-election in the absence of a Liberal candidate, and by a reasonably solid margin of 4.0%. There may have been factors peculiar to the election which will not apply in Melbourne, such as Greens’ choice of a candidate with considerable appeal to Liberal voters (however much they may have come to rue that choice since). Nonetheless, the precedent strongly suggests that many voters deprived of a Liberal candidate will instead take whatever opportunity to kick Labor happens to be available.

Andrew Crook of Crikey reported yesterday that Jennifer Kanis, a Melbourne councillor and Holding Redlich lawyer, was considered the front-runner for Labor preselection. Moonee Valley councillor Rose Iser was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Greens (UPDATE: Bird of Paradox points out in comments she ceased to be a councillor in 2010, and is now a staffer for Adam Bandt), though it evidently remains to be established if the candidate from 2010, barrister and former Liberty Victoria president Brian Walters, is interested in another run. Walters defeated Iser in a preselection vote before the 2010 election.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

174 comments on “Melbourne (state) by-election: July 21”

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  1. We better get a new page started – no change in the odds with Oke still at $1.30 and Kannis at $3 – I can’t imagine they are holding very many bets

    While I’m reasonably confident of a Green win I don’t think the market is right and the prices should be closer at around $1.70 and $2.60 – which no one else any realistic chance but still in the market

    Sex Party preferences could play an important role

  2. If the Sex Party preferences tip the result to Labor I think the Sex Party will have problems with its credibility in the future. As far as I know there is no policy justification for Patten preferencing Labor.

    Given that the media have had such an incredible bias against the Greens over the last few weeks (even The Age) it will be remarkable if the Greens win. Not only is it a sign that people are turning away from Labor, but is shows that many people are recognising the bias of the media.

  3. Hi all,

    The discrepancy with the distribution of Liberal vote intentions can be put down to a lower percentage of people identifying as 2010 Liberal voters then the actual 2010 result. That distribution is really of “those who identified as 2010 Liberal voters” as opposed to strictly 2010 Liberal voters.

    Rather than re-weight the primary vote to bring it in line with the actual 2010 Liberal vote, we thought people would be more honest about the now (i.e. “who would you vote for today”) instead of the past (i.e. “who did you vote for in 2010”).


    Nick Adams
    ReachTEL Pty Ltd.

  4. Looks like people were too embarrassed to admit they voted Liberal 😉

    I think The Greens will need to poll over 40% primary vote to win, so they’ll need a little lift on those figures

  5. It ‘s definitely a hard one to call. Is it referendum on the Federal govt’s performance? What of the Baillieu govt’s dismal record?

    If voters aren’t happy with State Labor, it’s difficult to see how they can be pleased with the Victorian Greens’ performance both inside and outside parliament. This was reflected in their flat vote in 2010. I was astonished to find few new policies during the campaign and their website was still “under construction” less than a fortnight before polling day.

    Could be that conservative voters will vote Greens to punish Labor. I’m sure they’d rather have a minority Labor govt in Victoria than the ALP in a majority. Mayne seems to fit that category. Perhaps the low voter turnout at most by-elections will be the deciding factor. Or the informal vote with 16 candidates to preference.

    One way or the other we wil lose a good Melbourne City Councillor.

  6. This is an odd seat because of the massive population growth driven by shoebox apartments, not the same as Richmond & Brunswick I suspect that the Liberal voter in Melb is more likely to be a Green-friendly yuppie than a suburban conservative. Without a preference card to follow you would have to favour the Greens I think and 16 candidates might drain Labor votes via informality but still…

  7. Kevin

    [It ‘s definitely a hard one to call. Is it referendum on the Federal govt’s performance? What of the Baillieu govt’s dismal record? ]

    There’s not much they can do about that in this poll with the Liberals too scared to run

  8. I’ve been curious about how the informal vote would go as well.

    16 candidates is the most in a by-election since Mitcham in 1997, which had 17. Surprisingly, the informal vote was quite low there, only a few % higher than the 1996 election, although it had Liberal and Labor candidates and turnout was 8% lower than 1996.

    If Niddrie and Broadmeadows are anything to go by, the informal vote here might nudge the 15% mark, and turnout might barely go over 80%.

  9. An analysis of the likely preference flows:

    [The Greens will need to bolster its primary vote to roughly 3% above Labor to triumph in Saturday’s byelection in Melbourne, the Greens’ key Victorian election analyst says, as its bid for a first lower house state seat hangs in the balance.]

    [Labor hopeful Jennifer Kanis will benefit from flows from the Christian Right (7%) and a three-candidate block comprising African community leader Berhan Ahmed, the S-x Party and Liberal-leaning independent David Nolte (10%), for a combined windfall of around 17%.]

    [between 12% and 15% would flow to Greens candidate Cathy Oke from a rival libertarian-leftish bloc led by Crikey founder Stephen Mayne, and including the Democrats, the Secular Party, green-tinged independent Adrian Whitehead and public housing advocate Kate Borland.]

    [Luntz says on average 70% of the “minor 14” will end up going to the party the candidate’s how-to-vote cards recommend, but he expects this to vary — higher for Ahmed and lower for the S-x Party.

    Luntz notes that two fringe candidates —  socialist candidate Patrick O’Connor and independent Gerrit Schorel-Hlavka — have not recommended preferences, and predicts their votes will split fairly evenly. The donkey vote will flow from Ahmed to Kanis, which was why he anticipates a higher than usual proportion of Ahmed’s vote finishing with Labor.]

    However, note the imprecisions; he begins by stating the 17% flow will go straight to Labor, then anticipates that it won’t.

    I haven’t seen any analysis from past elections (e.g. the federal election for Cunningham which saw Michael Organ elected, or the past state elections where the Greens and ALP have battled it out for the win) on how preferences usually flow in these situations, and (of course) not having a Liberal candidate makes this even more imprecise.

    “Still anybody’s game” seems to be the safest call at present!

  10. If we think about it then it becomes rather superficial that so much of how we analyse the result will depend on who wins.

    For examining how politics is changing it does not mater whether the two party preferred vote for the Greens ends up being 49.9 or 50.1%.

    What is important to note is that Saturday will show that about half of the voters of Melbourne have rejected Labor and voted Green.

    And given the extensive media coverage that the Greens are “loopy” and “extreme”, and the bias of the media against the Greens (including the Sunday Age), that so many vote Green shows that people are starting to distrust the MSM and think for themselves.

    If we get a result on Saturday night then one side will be drinking to celebrate, and the other to drown their sorrows.

    I’ll be sad if the Greens loose. But even if they do loose, Saturday will prove that things are changing. The people are becoming aware.

  11. I’ve had a look on wikipedia for the results of the Fremantle 2009 election. The primary votes went as follows:

    Greens: 44.06%
    Labor: 38.55%
    Christian/Right Minor Parties & Independents: 8.88%
    Socialist/Left Minor Parties & Independents: 4.01%
    Unaligned/Unknown Independents: 4.49%

    There were 9 other candidates including a Liberal-aligned Independent that got about 5% of the vote. The preferences split about evenly, the christian parties favouring Labor and most of the Independents and the Socialist candidate favouring the Greens.

    The final 2pp result ended up with about the same leading margin of Greens: 53.96 / Labor 46.04.

    So, if Melbourne has the same situation as Fremantle, the candidate with the highest Primary Vote will probably win.

    As for Cunningham, the Greens massively won out on preferences (75% went to the Greens) due to a few high profile independent candidates, one of whom had Liberal party membership. The results chart here has the details:,_2002

  12. Remember that preferences can only influence a voter if there is someone to hand them a how-to-vote card at their booth.

    I’m sure that every booth will have lots of Labor and Green supporters. Most of the others won’t have anyone handing out cards.

    The exception might be the Sex Party who in the past have paid people to hand out HTV cards.

    If you vote in Melbourne, and see a Sex Party person, ask them if they are paid (I suspect that they will be honest), and please ask them why the Sex Party is preferencing Labor (I bet there they don’t know).

  13. MWH

    I don’t think the Greens winning a seat off Labor (if, of course, they do) which the Greens have predicted they would win off Labor for at least the last two state elections really has much deeper significance.

    Not at all uncommon for a by election to produce an anomalous result (Labor winning Ryan, Greens winning Cunningham, etc).

    If the Greens DON’T win, however, then that will make it another time that they’ve confidently predicted victory (I think, for this seat, they predicted at the last state election that they would still win it, even without Liberal preferences) and fallen short.

  14. If the Greens don’t win this time then I think that the massive coverage of Labor trashing the Greens will have been the deciding factor.

    And I don’t think that The Greens could have predicted such a massive attack with such non-stop media coverage.

  15. [ And I don’t think that The Greens could have predicted such a massive attack with such non-stop media coverage. ]

    Yes you could. It was obvious from the day the Australian threw its cards on the table after the last federal election… every good Greens member remembers the phrase “destroyed at the ballot box”, yeah? Since then it’s been a one-eyed scorched-earth destructiongasm against any party (or fraction-of-party) to the left of Abbott. It’s unpleasant, unfair and unreasonable, but it was not unexpected. Any Greens member who reckons otherwise needs to pull their head out of their arse.

  16. Sadly the SEX party have now confirmed what was shown in the Northern Vic Upper house election. They have become a preference conduit for the ALP.
    In the Northern Vic Upper house they preferenced Country Alliance,. as did the ALP,. If the Sex Party and the ALP had preferenced the Greens there would now be another Greens in the Upper house.
    Again highlights how voters are bieng dudded by the preference allocations of these micro parties and how the democratic process is being distorted by the Major parties.
    The use of the micor right parties by the Lib/Nats would indicate that there is not about to be any change soon. Imagine if the Greens were distorting/rorting the process in a similar way,. the media would be going nuts!

  17. MWH

    [And I don’t think that The Greens could have predicted such a massive attack with such non-stop media coverage.]

    Or that the Greens apparently can do so little to defend themselves.

    I mean, are you serious? I thought the Greens position has been that not enough attention is paid to their policies, and that if there was more focus on them, they’d get a higher vote.


    So your version of democracy is everyone preferencing the Greens?

  18. Not sure I’d call the Sex Party a micro party – they’ll mostly likely get 5% + of the vote

    Bit of a worry the Catholic Schools writing ill-informed letters to parents about Green policy on education – so much for the separation of church and state

    Greens will still win though, GO YOU GOOD THINGS 🙂

  19. Bird of paradox @116,

    The constant attack on The Greens from the Australian is normal.

    But the outpouring of anti-Green rhetoric from Federal Labor over the last two weeks was exceptional, and clearly unpredictable in the context of the Melbourne by-election.

    @zoomster – I find it sad that so many Labor supporters on Crikey, who rightly talk about the MSM bias against Labor, are more than happy to see worse bias against the Greens.

    What we got was endless repeats of Labor saying the Greens where “loopy”, “extremist”, etc. We heard Labor saying that they defend Labor “values”.

    What we didn’t’ get was any discussion of policies, or any clear statement of what Labor does stand for (apart from beating the Greens).

  20. And zoomster, the problem with the Sex Party is that on the basis of their policy positions they should be supporting the Greens. Thus they are fooling those who like their policies and thus vote for them.

    When Labor preferences Family First in the senate above the Greens the result was six years of Steve Fielding. Not only did Labor shoot themselves in the foot, but once again I’m pretty sure that most people who voted Labor would have preferred a Green.

    But, for example, a clearly right-wing micro-party who preferences the Liberals is not fooling voters because their preference flow is what the voters would expect.

  21. Wow! this battle is going in directions I have not seen before.

    [Raili ‏@Raili_Sim
    @aussexparty Greens love sex. Half the reason people join the Greens is to get laid.
    Retweeted by australian sex party]

  22. Article in the Herald-Sun today says that the Sex Party:
    [quote]In addition to campaigning for sex industry reform, the party supports drug decriminalisation, secular education, greater privacy protection and 24-hour public transport on weekends.[/quote]
    Clearly the policies of the Greens are best of sex industry reform, the Greens support decriminalisation for USERS of drugs (Labor don’t), Labor supports publicly funded chaplains in pubic schools, Labor is considering forcing all ISPs to keep records for two years of our internet use, and Labor has failed with public transport.

    The article does make clear why Patten is preferencing Labor.

    Firstly she worries about an “anti-sex feminist element in the Greens” – so she ignores the anti-sex Rudd/Gillard/Conroy who wanted to ban all x-rated content from the internet, she ignores the Green’s policies and how those Greens in state and federal parliament will vote, just because there is a wide variety of views within the Greens members.

    Secondly, she feels snubbed by preference deals due to things that happened earlier.

    Seems to me that Patten is using her mainly sex-industry funded party to get back at the Greens for not preferencing the Sex Party high enough earlier.

  23. That poll is actually better for Labor than I would have expected. Maybe the anti-Green campaign is working, or maybe voters are now more concerned to kick Ted Faillieu than Labor.

    The comments from media blowhards are just what I would expect, which is why I now, after nine years working in Canberra, hold them all in total contempt. That includes you, Michelle Grattan.

  24. Psephos. Agree entirely. After reading The Age On line editions headline piece tonight by Michelle Grattan “PMs leadership in tatters” I have resolved to cancel my subscription to The Age. Partisan, vindictive journalism saying more about the author than the subject.

  25. I’m surprised that a little state byelection is getting so much national attention. It’s been on 7.30 national and Fran. I wonder how much time Sky and News 24 will give it tomorrow night.

    I was shocked to hear Grattan on Fran this morning suggest that it will reflect badly on Gillard’s leadership if Labor doesn’t win.

  26. Will she say it reflects well on Julia if they win? very unlikely I’d suggest

    Interesting to hear that the Liberal Independent is linked to the Catholic Education people that sent the letter bagging the Greens during the week – Liberals and Labor working together

  27. Sex Party decision to preference Labor doesn’t make any sense unless it’s to do with preference deals either in the future or the past

  28. DLP guy was interesting – effectively main line was to have an inquiry into the state taking over electricity. Asked if they had a position on the cross city tunnel, which Jon says is the biggest issue in the campaign, he said no 🙂

  29. Some of the dumber commentators in recent weeks (can’t remember who now) have been discussing, in the context of federal Labor’s attacks on the Greens, where Labor should place the Greens on their how-to-vote card, the consequences of putting them last (none whatsoever in this election!) etc.

  30. I’m quite enjoying the disruptive audience chattering away about their grievances in the background. I wish I’d taken the day off and gone along.

    Oh, Sally and John next. The worst but most common Wrap duet.

  31. Sex Industry! What sex industry? Who are Australia’s leading pimps? Despite my best research Patten seems to be the only one! If the ‘sex industry’ is so mainstream and desirable wouldn’t you think you would be only too happy to identify yourself as such?

    The fact that the ‘sex industry’ abuses vulnerable, drug addicted Australians for profit is the real reason they are so ashamed. Hands up who would be thrilled to hear that your daughter is a whore? Anyone?

    I also make the obvious point that I doubt that there’s any PBers who would be so unattractive and incoherent to have to pay for sex. (Isn’t the challenge part of the thrill?) Who would pay for something that you would get for free?

    Has Patten been a hooker? Has she appeared in any pornographic films? If not, why not? (Has anyone asked her?) Of course, it’s empowering for someone else to do it but not her. What an odd contradiction.

  32. The Sex Party is given more publicity by The Age:

    No explanation given about why the Sex Party is preferencing Labor, especially as the the only two issues mentioned are that Patten is campaigning on issues such as drug law reform and 24 hour public transport on weekends in the inner-city – both issues of which the Greens are the clear policy match.

    Also interesting to note that near the end of the article Patten is quoted saying that Google is “are blatantly treating us differently to the Greens.”

    This should be “the Greens and the ALP”, but clearly Patten is trying to make the Greens look bad rather than the ALP (when it is Google that are in the wrong).

    And the Sex Party are different. If you vote in Melbourne and see someone handing out Sex Party how-to-vote cards, ask them whether or not they are paid. And ask them what the Sex Party stands for and why they are preferencing Labor.

    At least anyone who hands out Family First cards believes in their cause and isn’t paid.

    Without paying people to hand out cards I suspect that few Sex Party cards would be handed out, so those who vote Sex Party will make up their own mind on who to put next (as they should).

    If the mining industry set up a environmental party that had a Green policy match, paid people to hand out how-to-vote cards, and preferenced the Liberals then all hell would break out in the comments on Crikey.

    So I’m shocked, but not surprised, that I’m the only one upset about what is happening here.

  33. What I meant with my mining industry party example was –
    if they preferenced Liberals [b]above Labor[/b] and Green
    as this would then be misleading voters to vote Liberal.

  34. @josietaylor: coming up on #730vic @cathyoke and @JenniferKanis debate #melbvotes will preferences determine the winner? #springst

  35. Fiona Patten on the Melbourne 7:30 report give no other reason for preferencing Labor than “we’ve had not a lot of communication with the Greens”.

    It does seem that that this is a tactical error from the Greens.

    But is this a valid reason for Patten to preference Labor?

    A tactical error from the Greens is just, at the worst, stupidity. Patten has no excuse. If she has paid how-to-vote people on the street tomorrow I’ll never forget.

  36. Family First calls themselves a centre-right party. That must make the liberals a centre party, labor a centre-right party, and the Greens to the left of Chairman Mao!

    I’ve posted many times on PB that I think the evidence is clear that Labor is a centre-right party (proud that taxation is the lowest in 20 years etc).

    Why is that everyone talks themselves to the left? Why can’t Family First call themselves a party of the right? Why can’t the regulars on PB admit that Labor is centre-right?

  37. To the Greens supporters who are getting their knickers in a knot over HTVs, can I suggest you take your own advice and simply encourage every individual to fill out their preferences according to their own values?

    All this talk about the ALP “preferencing” or the Sex Party “preferencing” is ridiculous in the context of a lower house seat. The ALP or the Sex Party don’t “preference” anyone – individual voters do. All the ALP or the Sex Party do is print pieces of paper with numbers in boxes next to candidates’ names.

    Upper houses with above-the-line voting is a different system, and obviously party preferences come into play there, but I’ve seen so many Greens talking about Fielding in the same breath as the seat of Melbourne – they’re entirely different cases and conflating what has happened in above-the-line voting with what is possible in a lower house seat is intellectually dishonest.

    It’s altogether too precious for me, and completely logically inconsistent – if the voters are in control of their own faculties, and you actually accept the approximation of a democratic process that we have, then the voters will make up their own minds. Indeed that is the Greens position, that voters are capable of doing so and should do so, and I agree.

    HTVs in lower house seats are an anachronism of very little import and yet they spawn such over the top rhetoric here. Of course this is because it’s about political positioning and therefore must be pure and principled (or at least favour the Greens), because anything that appears to support the Greens must by definition be pure and principled. Pfah.

  38. MWH

    but taxation rates are the ONLY reason you’ve put forward for claiming that Labor is centre right.

    And why is it so important to you that others agree with you? Do you need the reassurance or something?

    I’m not interested in whether Labor policies are left, right or centre. I’m interested in whether they’re evidence based, and whether they deliver good outcomes on the ground (that is, achieve good things in the real world).

    It’s fine for a party which doesn’t expect to be in government any time soon to obsess about ideology, both theirs and that of other parties. But parties which are expected to deliver real world solutions in real governments have got more important things to focus on than abstracts.

    But I’d suggest this discussion more properly belongs on the main thread. It seems a bit wimpish of you to raise it here, where few PB regulars will read it.

  39. Most people are not as politically astute as Crikey readers, and most people don’t really care that much.

    So plenty of people do just choose a party and blindly fill out their vote according to the card. In fact some people think that this is what they have to do!

    If the how-to-vote cards made no difference then you would think that the parties would have the sense not to bother having people handing out all the cards. But they make a big difference, and that is why the parties put so much effort into this.

  40. zoomster – I’ve given lots of reasons in the past why I think Labor is a party of the centre right.

    If only Labor really were evidence based!

    For a start Australia’s actions on climate change would be totally different.

  41. I see that Patten has connected the preferencing of the Greens below Labor to their endorsement of Kathleen Maltzahn for Richmond in 2010:

    Maltzahn supports the “Swedish model” of anti-prostitution law in which it becomes illegal to purchase sex, ie customers are prosecuted, sex workers aren’t. Whether Patten’s comment is reason or pretext (and it sounds more like the latter to me given that there are plenty of puritans in the ALP as noted by MWH in #124) I can well imagine those behind the ASP would be very concerned about support for the Swedish model within the Greens.

    This is something I’m quite interested in – I have no stake personally in sex industry issues but I do think the “Swedish model” is illiberal, ineffectual and paternalistic (probably sexist too). Any party that is serious about being progressive about sexual issues should be relegating those whose views on the sex industry are loosely convergent with the Christian right’s to the fringes of their parties, and not endorsing them for winnable seats. The Greens have outstanding credentials on gay issues but whether they are all serious about social liberties across the board is very much less clear.

  42. If the how-to-vote cards made no difference then you would think that the parties would have the sense not to bother having people handing out all the cards. But they make a big difference, and that is why the parties put so much effort into this.

    So, people are dopes and need to be led by the hand, but only by you – no one else is qualified.

    Working out how much effect HTVs have is tricky, of course, but as I understand it the ALP and Liberal HTVs are followed weakly, the Greens HTVs are hardly followed at all. This is assuming that “following the HTV” is an abrogation of democratic responsibility in the first place.

    You suggest that the parties wouldn’t bother doing HTVs if they didn’t make, as you say, “a big difference”. Can I suggest that the parties are more interested in making an appearance at poll booths and waving the flag. HTVs are part of the ritual of elections in Australia, and the act of giving out HTVs is about having a cover reason for the parties to show up and be there. HTVs could be legislated to be blank as far as the “preference” order of candidates and the parties would still hand out bits of paper with their names on if they were allowed to.

    Personally I think HTVs should be banned, but this idea that they have any significant effect on elections, in terms of what preferences are printed on them, doesn’t hold up as far as I’m concerned.

  43. Jackol – I also support the banning of how-to-vote cards.

    Not sure why you say that I think that no-one but me is qualified. As we have HTV cards I’m happy when they follow what voters for that party would expect.

    @Kevin Bonham – The Greens sometimes have candidates who don’t agree with all policies. As long as their differences to Green policies are made clear to the local branch and to the voters that is not a problem.

    My experience of such an issue is selecting Clive Hamilton as Greens candidate for the Higgins by-election. At that time climate change was a major issue, and Clive was an excellent candidate to represent this issue.

    Clive also wanted the internet censored. This was against Green’s policy. Selecting Clive as candidate did not indicate a change in policy on internet censorship – the Greens remain opposed. In fact because of Clive’s views I voted 1 Sex Party, 2 Greens for that by-election.

    For the Melbourne by-election I would have thought that the views of the Cathy Oke are what mattered, and Kathleen Maltzahn’s views are irrelevant.

    And I think is is misleading and deceptive for Patten to say she is campaigning on better public transport and less harsh drug laws if she is going to preference Labor.

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