Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor

This week’s Essential Research offers results on Tony Abbott and 457 visas, along with yet another boring set of voting intention numbers.

The Essential Research fortnight rolling average maintains its recent habit of shifting between 53-47 and 54-46, the latest instalment going from the latter to the former. On the primary vote, the Coalition is up a point to 37% and Labor is down one to 36%, with the Greens and One Nation steady at 10% and 8%, so that the result is in all respects identical to the week before last. The poll also finds 40% think Tony Abbott should resign from parliament, 17% that he should stay on the back bench, and another 17% that he should be given a position in the ministry. This is worse for him than when the same questions were posed in August last year, when the respective results were 37%, 21% and 25%. Other findings relate to the tightening of 457 visas: 16% said they went too far, 28% not far enough, and 39% that they were about right; 59% approved of allowing visa holders to apply for permanent residency, against 23% disapprove; 78% agreed that those applying for permanent residency should first be put on a probationary visa, against only 10% for disagree.

The Australian also had extra questions from Newspoll, which found that 70% favoured the government prioritising spending cuts over 20% for increasing taxes, but that only 30% favoured cuts to welfare payments with 61% opposed.

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.

784 comments on “Essential Research: 53-47 to Labor”

  1. IoM – good on Maine.

    I do appreciate that the USA is a very big and diverse place and there are pockets of good activity in the political sphere.

    It’s just the overall union I struggle to see a future for…

  2. In having preferential voting and compulsory voting, Australia is very much in a minority on both counts. I strongly support both.

  3. Jackol:

    Not my forte, but I believe at least in a couple of US states they have non political boards that draw up and implement their districts. Some states have non political boards that draw them and deliver to the state legislature to approve/reject. Most states I believe are completely based on the whim of the state legislature, leading to some lopsided electorates (Illinois, Georgia spring to mind). Some states only have one district so it doesnt matter – Montana, Idaho, (Wyoming??) the Dakotas and Vermont.

  4. The Democrats have only the lost the popular vote once (in 2004) since 1992 (and they probably would have won that if Gore had ‘ve been President). That does seem to indicate a problem with the system. Five Thirty-Eight were giving about a 10% chance Trump would lose the popular vote but win the Electoral college. The chance of the opposite happening was about 0.1%. Admittedly, that’s something the Democrats have to deal with for now.

    Late deciding voters went strongly to Trump, on the basis of Comey announcing he was re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. Further, it is difficult in the modern era for the same party to win the Presidency more than twice in a row. It’s only happened once since WWII.

    The main reason Trump won is because he was the Republican candidate at the end of a two-term Democratic president, and people who usually vote Republican voted for him, as they would for any Republican candidate.

    I know this won’t dispel any “Bernie would have won in a landslide” fantasies, but wtf.

  5. steve777 @ #752 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    In having preferential voting and compulsory voting, Australia is very much in a minority on both counts. I strongly support both.

    We really are exceptionally lucky.
    Offhand, I can’t think of any country with a better democracy.
    It pisses me off immensely when people disparage it by not taking their right to vote seriously.

  6. Something that has been almost completely overlooked is that there was a very large swing to the Democrats in Texas – the margin was almost halved compared to 2012. Clinton was the best-performed Democrat candidate there since Bill, 20 years ago. Of course, that wasn’t of any use in this election, but perhaps offers a pointer to the future.

  7. Jackol:

    I forgot to add this link to my last post. Antony Green retweeted it a while back. Its basically a new computer test to check if an electorate is potentially a massive gerrymander and therefore unconstitutional. Its quite informative on the history of challenges to gerrymanders and the actual test that has been developed. Its potentially going to be used in a Supreme Court appeal challenge to a lower court ruling that Wisconsin’s districts are gerrymandered.

  8. bemused @ #747 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    jackol @ #734 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    The EC is only relevant to the Presidency.
    What is needed is an end to gerrymandering, an independent commission to conduct elections and draw Congressional boundaries, and the outlawing of voter suppression and its replacement with efforts to get people enrolled and voting.

    As Australian’s I don’t think we realise just how good we’ve got it with compulsory voting, the independent Election Commission and the presumption that someone’s vote is valid.

  9. IoM – there are certainly things that can be done within the current system to improve matters. Certainly, as bemused said, an AEC equivalent to run the whole shebang with legislated independence etc should make the whole issue of gerrymandering and voter suppression merely unpleasant history.

    But my broad point was more about the larger (and from what I’ve seen totally missing) debate about systems and mechanisms and possibilities. I’ve converted to being an MMP advocate, and think it would be ideal as a House of Reps mechanism here, and probably in the USA as well. Of course MMP is not the only possibility, but no one seems to ever even be talking about the possibilities. I see no engagement from the public here or there on what is going wrong, or not working well, with the systems in place and what the options are.

  10. I think a lot of the problems with America’s political system are that there are plenty of humans over there prepared to sell their soul to the devil, or the highest bidder, proclaim themselves to be Christians, all so they can entrench the most massive amounts of venality since the fall of the Roman Empire!

  11. Fess and others,

    P1 started off by asserting that we must have a very large increase in gas generation capacity and more idiotically, that even though the level of investment and scale of construction for such a large increase in gas generation capacity would be large, that somehow a similar level of investment and construction in renewables and storage couldn’t happen in much the same time frame (coming 15 years).

    Here is the relevant graph..

    Notice how the actual amount of gas generation doesn’t change much at all? And how it later dwindles?

    Ah, the two things are not inconsistent. The plot from the ENA/CSIRO Roadmap of energy source, but the system is one of electrical power.

    Open-cycle gas turbine plant is used for peaking, and more importantly, power system stability services. As they idle most of the time, OCGTs consume little fuel and inject little power, meaning little contribution to the gold segment in the figure you cite. But not a great deal of OCGT capacity is currently in the NEM.

    So where is the confusion?

    As I understand it, many more OCGTs are expected to be installed, to provide stability, peaking, and highly-irregular backup, while renewables produce the bulk of energy – i.e. the future is one in which renewables are the source of the bulk of primary stationary energy.

    The process will unfold as coal, then closed-cycle gas turbines are shut down, while OCGT peakers will be put in place to provide those services that renewables and storage cannot.

    Eventually, concentrated solar thermal and future fast-responding frequency support technologies will obviate the need for the OCGT too. IMHO, the CSIRO and ENA are being too conservative on how quickly that will happen (after talking to a few power electronics people in-the-know). But that’s down to my guess vs theirs, and they have several 10s of people preparing reports for them and collecting information and opinion from industry…

  12. jackol @ #761 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    IoM – there are certainly things that can be done within the current system to improve matters. Certainly, as bemused said, an AEC equivalent to run the whole shebang with legislated independence etc should make the whole issue of gerrymandering and voter suppression merely unpleasant history.
    But my broad point was more about the larger (and from what I’ve seen totally missing) debate about systems and mechanisms and possibilities. I’ve converted to being an MMP advocate, and think it would be ideal as a House of Reps mechanism here, and probably in the USA as well. Of course MMP is not the only possibility, but no one seems to ever even be talking about the possibilities. I see no engagement from the public here or there on what is going wrong, or not working well, with the systems in place and what the options are.

    A very interesting point in that article IoM linked to is what seems to be an inbuilt tendency of Democrat voters to gerrymander themselves by packing into very strong Democrat areas where there are a lot of wasted votes, whereas Republican voters tend to be more dispersed and win with lower margins.
    I had never realised this occurred at anything like the extent to which it does and it really makes drawing fair boundaries quite difficult. No excuse for not trying though.

  13. LU,

    I take your point about power versus total energy. However I don’t see large scale investment in gas (in peak power terms) precisely because of investment risk and I don’t think the CSIRO have considered this level of detail.

  14. <i However I don’t see large scale investment in gas (in peak power terms) precisely because of investment risk and I don’t think the CSIRO have considered this level of detail.

    You are right. The five-minute settlement rule change should improve the case for battery and pumped-hydro storage, and fast peaking plants. However, the still risk exists, and the networks and generators are more than happy to push it onto end users, by way of encouraging the uptake of batteries.

    The question is, are customers the best placed to manage that risk, and will they be adequately compensated for doing it? Hell, are they even aware of the risk that their $15k worth of battery wares out in 7 years rather that 10? FWIW, the CSIRO are running accelerated trials of long-run battery performance to assess this, and the AEMC/AER are acutely aware of risk allocations.

  15. LU,

    I’m saying I think the CSIRO are idealising and I don’t trust their modelling in the same way I don’t trust what passes for modelling of train usage in Sydney – it just doesn’t consider real human behaviour.

    It’d be nice to think that we have lots of distributed rooftop solar/battery. But in terms of real world behaviour there’s really only two things I can see that will make that happen en-masse. One of those is the battery becoming an essential adjunct to owing an electric car. The other is that there is a business case where home owners sign up to solar/battery essentially for no up front charge and their systems are centrally managed. I’m not sure we are quite there yet, but may be within the next 5 years.

    The other interesting issue, for me at least, is at what price do chemical batteries represent a threat to the cheapest possible pumped hydro systems, all things considered, including replacement/maintenance costs. Gut feeling is that batteries will out compete all but the best/most cost effective pumped hydro locations come 2030. But those locations still offer the ability to scale well beyond that anticipated in the CSIRO report.

    One other interesting thing. Okay so we all love distributed energy, but there’s still a lot of money invested into the high tension part of the network. Do we allow those assets to be lightly loaded because of distributed power? Or do we structure some new large scale renewable energy to take the place of Erraring etc? On a similar vein. Sydney still sucks a lot of energy. The way the system works now its basically tied to the Hunter which is where all the power comes from. Sydney has a large amount of solar/battery. But we have a weather system that denies Sydney sunshine for a couple of days. Where does the energy flow and from where?

  16. cud chewer @ #771 Saturday, April 29th, 2017 – 12:27 am

    But in terms of real world behaviour there’s really only two things I can see that will make that happen en-masse. One of those is the battery becoming an essential adjunct to owing an electric car. The other is that there is a business case where home owners sign up to solar/battery essentially for no up front charge and their systems are centrally managed.

    Third possibility – The building code mandates that all new dwellings be equipped with a minimum of 5kW rooftop solar and 12 kWh of battery storage. Which may not be as far fetched as it sounds.

    A few years back in QLD the building code required new residences to include a rainwater tank, plumbed into the toilets and laundry. I’ve got such a system, for exactly that reason. Of course, the Newman government scrapped the requirement shortly after taking office (in 2013, I think). And I don’t think the new Labor government has put it back. But if the building code can be used to require rainwater tanks and building a second set of plumbing into every house, I don’t see why it can’t do the same thing with solar panels and batteries.

    Though obviously that would only help in greenfield estates. But hey, it’s a start. And the lower operating costs of residences equipped with solar and batteries may put pressure on brownfield property owners to either modernize or see the value of their homes start to drop.

  17. One of the biggest impediments to electoral reform in the US is that all elections are run by the states under state legislation. So Maine can change the way elections happen in Maine, but they cannot change the electoral college system, They can change how there votes decide on their electoral college members but they cannot change how the electoral college works. If the federal government tried to change how Presidential elections happened they would be accused of taking away states rights. There are some states who are trying to make a change. There is a bunch of states that have passed legislation that says that they will elect college representatives according to the national popular vote, when enough states also pass the same legislation to decide the president. This would change the electoral college system into a national FPPT system. Changing to a preferential system would be close to impossible, as every state would have to enact legislation to do so. Even changing to presidential run off elections would be nearly impossible.

  18. cud chewer @ #771 Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 12:27 am

    LU,
    I’m saying I think the CSIRO are idealising and I don’t trust their modelling in the same way I don’t trust what passes for modelling of train usage in Sydney – it just doesn’t consider real human behaviour.

    Sure, but it has to be idealised because its looking 40 years into the future!

    It’d be nice to think that we have lots of distributed rooftop solar/battery. But in terms of real world behaviour there’s really only two things I can see that will make that happen en-masse. One of those is the battery becoming an essential adjunct to owing an electric car. The other is that there is a business case where home owners sign up to solar/battery essentially for no up front charge and their systems are centrally managed. I’m not sure we are quite there yet, but may be within the next 5 years.

    The second of those is very close.

    The other interesting issue, for me at least, is at what price do chemical batteries represent a threat to the cheapest possible pumped hydro systems, all things considered, including replacement/maintenance costs. Gut feeling is that batteries will out compete all but the best/most cost effective pumped hydro locations come 2030. But those locations still offer the ability to scale well beyond that anticipated in the CSIRO report.

    I’ll take your word on that, but there are other “storage” options available too, such are phase-change thermal storage, which will be effective over periods of hours.

    One other interesting thing. Okay so we all love distributed energy, but there’s still a lot of money invested into the high tension part of the network. Do we allow those assets to be lightly loaded because of distributed power? Or do we structure some new large scale renewable energy to take the place of Erraring etc? On a similar vein. Sydney still sucks a lot of energy. The way the system works now its basically tied to the Hunter which is where all the power comes from. Sydney has a large amount of solar/battery. But we have a weather system that denies Sydney sunshine for a couple of days. Where does the energy flow and from where?

    Yeah, good question indeed… it’s bit too complicated to answer here because its a function of both stability requirements and bulk energy transfer.

    AR,
    It may not be far-fetched, but it would be a highly inefficient move.

  19. The energy market as modeled by incumbent generators/governments/network operators has always been inaccurate. They assume steady growth in renewables, but in reality we are in the process of exponential growth and disruption. A new paradigm, within which the electricity market will be turned on its head within one or two years.
    While Turnbull, Canavan and the other shit for brains are trying to protect their donors in a dying industry, people will take the energy market into their own hands with local renewables and battery storage.

  20. LU
    One may crap on about technical issues comparing this and that, but in the end the simplest option is the most likely.
    Phase change thermal storage may have a role, but the extent of the role is unproven and minor. Batteries are here, now and currently being deployed.

  21. Libertarian Unionist @ #774 Saturday, April 29th, 2017 – 12:56 am

    AR,
    It may not be far-fetched, but it would be a highly inefficient move.

    Problem-solving by way of policy and regulation usually is. But most things that government can do are highly inefficient, unless you want to play voodoo economics, throw everything to a market-based solution, and pretend like that counts as solving the problem.

    Otherwise what can you do? Offer subsidies for solar/batteries, and suppliers will just jack up their prices by the amount of the subsidy. Try to produce your own, and it’ll take 10 years to deliver a prototype that offers half the performance of today’s retail solutions at only sextuple the cost. Do nothing, and people will just decide they’d rather run their aircons longer, complain about how much it costs to run their aircons, and vote for whomever promises the cheapest air conditioning.

    What efficient approaches are available at the level of state and federal governments to actually solve the problem and drive adoption of green tech like solar and batteries?

  22. Wombat
    Friday, April 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm
    I don’t understand why people whom in the Australian context would support a left-based understanding of economic relations could not see that the Democrats and the Clinton campaign did not address what should be core issues.

    I really don’t understand the dynamic PB now (and I’ve been reading for 3 years!!!!)

    A very short history.

    Anybody who is a student of history is worried about the rise of popular nationalism. During the 20’s inequality rose dramatically, then there was the great depression followed by an extended period of economic not much. Sound familiar?

    Capitalism causes inequality, but inequality is not good for capitalism, which prefers everybody to have some spending money rather than just a few having more than they can spend. But for some reason the very people being shafted by inequality became easily distracted by a platform of kicking the dog and blaming the “other” rather than concentrating on the real problem.

    Hitler came to power by tapping that sentiment and gaming the system. He then started spending money and gave Germany things to be proud of, like the modern Olympic money pit, which was great for the economy, until the bill fell due. Since he was crap with money, nobody wanted to give him any, so he started taking it.

    Then we had a big war that wiped out many working people, and those that survived felt righteous about their efforts when they returned home. After all, they had put their life on the line. The tax system was fixed, the UK introduced national health, and the Americans had education programs. Yay war! (sarcasm)

    Hillary said she wanted to direct tax cuts to the less well off and introduce the Buffett rule. This probably would not have been as impressive as WW2, and no doubt most of what she wanted to do would have been blocked, but it did attempt to address the core issue, which is inequality. But hey! Let’s vote for the clown… he’s funny.

  23. yeah, just the electoral college.

    That’s not fundamental reform of their voting system.

    I don’t understand how you can think this. Getting rid of the Electoral College would be a significant reform to the US electoral system. Such a reform requires a change to the constitution which alone hints at the significance of the move.

  24. Getting rid of the Electoral College would be a significant reform to the US electoral system

    A “significant reform” that would have changed the result of four presidential elections in two hundred and forty years. How significant is that really? It is nowhere near being the main game of electoral reform in the United States. Moving from a state-based FPTP winner-take-all two-party system to a nation-based FPTP winner-take-all two-party system is a trivial change that makes no substantive contribution to empowering voters and making elections more legitimate, meaningful, and representative. Electoral College reform is an issue that Democrats who don’t want to face up to their own failures cling to as a comforting distraction.

  25. don @ #718 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    cud chewer @ #711 Friday, April 28, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    I noticed P1 was dissembling earlier.

    P1’s posts are for everyone’s amusement only. They have no basis in reality.
    I can’t work out if P1 is very good indeed at maintaining a facade, or if P1 simply has no understanding of the topic.
    Doesn’t matter, good for a laugh in either case.

    I recommend you people actually read the report before you post any more. Otherwise you will just make yourselves look even more foolish than you do now. Start with the carbon abatement section (around page 26).

  26. a r @ #777 Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Libertarian Unionist @ #774 Saturday, April 29th, 2017 – 12:56 am

    Otherwise what can you do? Offer subsidies for solar/batteries, and suppliers will just jack up their prices by the amount of the subsidy.

    I disagree that offering subsidies for solar/batteries would result in suppliers jacking up their prices because unlike land, there are not supply side constraints for solar and batteries. For example, the huge feed in tariffs which were offered for a period in Australia resulted in enormous cost reductions, and the STC’s and LGC’s continue to assist in driving renewable energy prices in Australia down.

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