Super Saturday minus three days

Liberals claim to be encouraged by internal polling in Braddon, as the travails of minor party and independent candidates dominate the headlines.

Developments, and further reading:

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports a Liberal tracking poll sample of 500 voters has Brett Whiteley edging to a 51-49 lead over Labor’s Justine Keay in Braddon. Party sources credit this to their targeting of independent Craig Garland, who is said to be down from 9% last week to 5% this week. Garland is a crusty local fisherman who polled 3.1% at the state election on a campaign against fish farming, but Michael Koziol of Fairfax reports he is “building a brand beyond that niche, connecting with disaffected working class voters and even some Liberals”. With Garland directing preferences to Labor, the Liberals fear a repeat of the 2016 election, when the Recreational Fishers Party polled 5.7% in Braddon and 4.9% in Bass, respectively producing preference flows of 63.1% and 67.0% to Labor. The Liberals have been duly keen to portray Garland as an “extreme green”, and to exploit an assault conviction recorded against him in 1993 over an altercation involving a group of his friends and two off-duty police officers. This extended to the Prime Minister telling reporters that “violence against women, violence against police, can never be accepted, must always be condemned”.

• Pauline Hanson has taken an oddly timed break from politics to go on a cruise off Ireland and Scotland, citing exhaustion. Meanwhile, the party’s candidate in Longman, Matthew Stephen, has faced a series of claims of unpaid debts and wages from subcontactors and workers for his tiling business. However, Renee Viellaris of the Courier-Mail reports One Nation’s campaign has been more professional than recent form: its how-to-vote cards, thought previously to have been “too wordy and hard to understand”, have been made visually punchier and clearer in their recommended preference order (in this putting the LNP ahead of Labor), and the party promises an organised polling booth presence and tighter scrutineering.

• Acres of psephological goodness on offer in Kevin Bonham’s review of the Longman by-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.

84 thoughts on “Super Saturday minus three days”

  1. Does anyone know how Labor’s on the ground campaig; is going in Longman? I am not buying kill Bill, but given the flawed Lib and ON candidates, this should be winnable for Labor. Are there any local factors or issues we are not hearing about hurting it? The QR train fiasco would hurt Caboolture; its a long commute to Brisbane with not many local jobs.

  2. I agree that Longman is winnable for Labor. It’s likely to be very close, although it’s hard to be too certain given the unreliability of opinion polls.

    The Libs now seem a bit more confident in Braddon. When Justine Keay was forced to resign, I thought the seat was there for the Libs to win. It has the prospect of evolving into a moderately safe Liberal seat: demographic change – more retirees and (notwithstanding the incorporation of the west coast into the electorate) a steadily diminishing cadre of industrial workers – has made it a significantly more conservative area than it once was.

    But the Libs then went and pre-selected Brett Whiteley: who is in his late 50s, not very charismatic (except perhaps in a Christian sense) and who has been previously voted out twice by the electors of Braddon: once at State level and once at Federal level. He has run a very low key campaign, suggesting that he realises that his best chance is to persuade voters to focus on Turnbull vs Shorten rather than himself vs the intelligent and articulate Keay.

    Hence Labor has a much stronger chance in this by-election than by rights they should. The Liberal Party machine down here has once again put factional issues ahead of the pursuit of electoral success. But, perhaps, for some of them – and for many of the conservative party members around the country – ensuring a good night for Malcolm on Super Saturday isn’t necessarily an overwhelming concern right now.

  3. @meher baba

    Concerning the retirees, the Baby Boomer generation have been entering their ranks for some time now. Not to mention the Generation which came of age during the Menzies era have started to pass away in large numbers.

    From my reading of opinion polls over the years, that generation recorded quite high levels of support for the Coalition relative to generations younger than them. However the Baby Boomers and generations after them, electorally have not supported the Coalition as strongly as that generation did. Perhaps that could make seats with a high percentage of retirees which have for the Coalition more competitive for Labor perhaps.

  4. Tristo: “From my reading of opinion polls over the years, that generation recorded quite high levels of support for the Coalition relative to generations younger than them. However the Baby Boomers and generations after them, electorally have not supported the Coalition as strongly as that generation did. Perhaps that could make seats with a high percentage of retirees which have for the Coalition more competitive for Labor perhaps.”

    This is possible: I remember hearing former Labor minister Neal Blewett, who was once a professor of political science, suggest that the main characteristic of older voters was that they were highly unlikely to switch from the party for which they had voted for all of their lives, and therefore, as the baby boomer generation came through, there would be a gradual shift to the left among the older cohorts.

    I can’t say that I have noticed many signs of this so far: although I suspect a fairly high proportion of boomers are yet to retire, so we might start to see a shift soon.

    On the other hand, Federal Labor is currently running with a suite of taxation policies that are quite unfriendly to self-funded retirees, and that might muddy the situation a little bit.

  5. I do wonder what Malcolm hope to happen on Super Saturday, If the Liberals wins both Longman and Braddon, surely it is the end of Shorten, which might not be the best for Mal

  6. @Dovif

    Initially it would be good for Malcolm Turnbull, because it would be a rebuke for Tony Abbott. Also there is question if Shorten’s leadership would be seriously threaten in aftermath of such an outcome.

  7. Shorten would be slightly weaker going into a GE campaign after losing hold of two seats… BUT the hysteria about him being shafted is exactly that.

  8. @J341983

    Agreed about Shorten, the Labor Party would have to have a serious death wish if they want to replace him as leader by Anthony Albanese.

  9. Shorten will almost certainly be replaced if he loses two seats, and he’s likely to be replaced if he loses one.

    The Galaxy poll showing that the ALP would have won both Braddon & Longman if Albo were leader, would be enough to convince the caucus to make a move to replace Shorten with a more electable leader.

  10. @Tetsujin

    I do have my doubts although if voters would be outraged if Bill Shorten was replaced as Labor leader although.Voters (apart from the Coalition die hards) weren’t outraged when Tony Abbott was deposed as Liberal leader and he won the previous election in a landslide.

  11. Putting stock into single-seat polls is a mistake. Plus, there is no clamouring for change.

    IF the ALP caucus decides to commit electoral suicide, then they deserve what they get.

  12. Our great LNP will the seats of Longman Braddon from the ALP and shorten is finished as labor leader and to be replaced with Albo and our great LNP will go on to win the next election by a landslide

  13. Dovif: “I do wonder what Malcolm hope to happen on Super Saturday, If the Liberals wins both Longman and Braddon, surely it is the end of Shorten, which might not be the best for Mal”

    It would be bad news for MT and the Libs if Labor had a potentially much more popular leader waiting in the wings (a la Hawke in 1983 or Rudd in 2006). But they don’t. The best results I have seen for Albo is that he is slightly more popular than Shorten. If he became leader, he would undoubtedly switch the emphasis away from taxation policies of doubtful popularity and the indiscriminate attack on the “big end of town”, and focus far more strongly on attacking the Turnbull Government for its own specific failings. This might help things a bit, but will be offset by the downside from changing leaders (especially if there are problems with the process, which seems likely).

    Surely the sensible thing for Labor to do is to stick with Shorten no matter what. However, past experience indicates that, if the by-election results are bad, a challenge is likely to be on.

  14. @Tristo

    It is quite routine for non-performing opposition leaders to be replaced. For example, 2007-09 when the Coalition went from Nelson to Turnbull to Abbott.

    Shorten is already unpopular (behind Turnbull in preferred prime minister) and he doesn’t have much charisma or a lot of people who fanatically support him.

    So, I think there will be no anger among voters about Shorten’s replacement.

  15. @ mehar baba: “Surely the sensible thing for Labor to do is to stick with Shorten no matter what.”

    I don’t think it is sensible for Labor to stick with a leader who is likely to lose them the next election.

    The national polls are narrowing and if trends continue then the Coalition will be ahead after a few weeks. A loss of Braddon and/or Longman would confirm that the trends in the national polls are correct.

    Better to change to someone else who might give the ALP a better shot at victory.

    A ‘reset’ is required and Labor needs to dump some of the tax policies which are scaring voters. The best way for a reset is a new leader.

  16. “”would be enough to convince the caucus to make a move to replace Shorten with a more electable leader.””
    Stop looking at the leaders, Its the policies that MATTER!!!!.
    You Twerps!

  17. I know some swinging voters. I know some who were rusted on ALP/Greens voters when young but now are rusted on LNP voters (mainly self-employed business owners). I know rusted on ALP and LNP voters. I have never met anyone who was a rusted on LNP voter and then became an ALP/Greens voter.

  18. I think what people here are forgetting (but I think Labor MPs have firmly planted in their minds) is the process that Labor would need to go through to change leaders. The process would take a minimum of 4 weeks (and more likely 6 weeks). The temptation to call a general election during Labor’s ‘selection period’ would be too great for Turnbull! And what a great look for Labor. Leaderless during an election campaign!!
    No, there will be no change of Labor leadership and I’m quietly confident that Bill will lead Labor to a GE victory.

  19. NSW Labor had similar rules in place, but John Robertson was replaced almost overnight by Luke Foley.

    There wouldn’t be a 6 week contest if Albo is the only candidate.

    I reckon if Shorten loses more than 50% of the support of the caucus then he is likely to resign & won’t contest the leadership election. He didn’t win the membership vote last time, and he is unlikely to win it this time, so if he also loses the caucus vote then he’ll no path to victory.

  20. So you all finally agree with me that our great LNP will win the seats of Longman Braddon and also the next election by a landslide

  21. Tetsujin: “I don’t think it is sensible for Labor to stick with a leader who is likely to lose them the next election.”

    It’s often the case that a party is unable to win an election regardless of who the leader might be. In such circumstances, chopping and changing leaders all the time is a big mistake.

    A good example was Labor in the early 2000s. It was always a mistake to have made Crean leader: he is a rather cold, verbose and uncharismatic individual. But, having put him there, the party would have been better off leaving him there until the 2004 election. Instead, a push to remove him began in 2003, opening up a substantial rift within the party between those who wanted to bring back Beazley as leader and another group (most of whom I note were senators or MPs in safe electorates) whose main motivation seems to have been a desire to pull the rug out from under the feet of the “roosters” who were behind the push for Beazley.

    The result of this intra-party battle was that the ascension of Latham, who, even by the most charitable assessment, was a long way away from being ready to assume the role of political leader. Latham actually made a creditable effort until he became seriously ill during the campaign. Extraordinarily, he was initially retained as leader after the election until he left politics in memorably chaotic circumstances. And then, perhaps even more extraordinarily, Beazley was brought back at a time when the 100% smart play would have been to promote Gillard. (Well, at least, that’s the view of people like me who have always considered Rudd to be no better suited than Latham to be leader of a political party – except arguably during election campaigns.) Beazley was never going to survive, so this paved the way for Rudd.

    Rudd’s unparalleled skill at self-promotion, along with his undoubted appeal to a large mass of Australians who (in Latham’s immortal words) “have never actually met him” – brought him an electoral triumph in 2007. But he was not suited to the role of political leader beyond the theatrical environment of an election campaign, and his ascendancy soon ushered in a great deal more chaos: partly from the internal rifts that were already visible in 2003, and also from new rifts that he created himself. IMO, the ALP has still not fully recovered from the chaos and disunity displayed during the R-G-R period.

    And I think it is reasonable to trace all of this trouble back to the move against Crean in 2003. Sure, he wasn’t much good as leader (Shorten is significantly better, and he’s no star), but they were never that likely to win in 2004 anyway. If Crean had led them through the election and then lost, the party would have had the opportunity to give serious consideration to the question of whom among the emerging generation of potential leaders – with Gillard, Latham, Rudd and perhaps Swan at the forefront – might be best placed to take them forward (I would suggest that that should have been Gillard). While the battles of the period reflected some serious fissures within the Caucus, it might have been possible to mend these under a new, fully-supported leader after the 2004 election. If Gillard had been allowed three years to learn the ropes as Opposition Leader, she might have become a more successful PM, and the likelihood of her being undermined from within would have been reduced (although always a possibility with the profoundly ambitious Rudd in the mix).

    Perhaps I’m dreaming. Perhaps something began to go seriously wrong within the ALP Caucus after the loss in 1996 and it was inevitably going to lead to something the chaos of Latham and R-G-R.

    Or perhaps the key to all the trouble was the figure of Rudd himself: he was one of those unusual “great men of history” whose personal power, ruthless ambition and charisma (in Rudd’s case, a rather strange sort of charisma, but one that can’t be denied) meant that they were always going to trigger major disruptions and crises. Looking back on the course of events, it appears likely that, once he got into Parliament, Rudd was always going to make a play for the leadership at some point, whatever the circumstances and whatever the impact on the internal stability of the party.

    But I still believe Labor would have done far better to leave Crean in place until the 2004 election. And the same argument applies in the case of Shorten now.

  22. Sorry, but myself and a number of members I know who voted for Albo would be certain to vote for Bill. Some people just have NFI

  23. Outside of the commentariat, I don’t know anyone who is SERIOUSLY spooked by Shorten’s tax plans, especially when the spending programs attached haven’t even been announced yet. Remember how this was going to cost Labor Batman?

    Plus, it’s kind of interesting that the left-faction option would scale back on reforms to taxes that currently benefit only pretty well-off people.

    So much bed-wetting around here…

    I hate to think what happens if Labor holds all four of their seats on Saturday.

  24. @J341983: “I hate to think what happens if Labor holds all four of their seats on Saturday.”

    Obviously, if Labor holds Braddon *and* Longman, then Shorten is safe (for now, anyway).

    Shorten is playing a game of two-up, and he needs both coins to come up heads.

  25. I hate to think what happens if Labor holds all four of their seats on Saturday.

    I am pretty convinced Mal will break open a 1984 bottle of Champaign

    Mark Latham will be quite happy too, as he will get another 5 sec of fame at the next election – Bull Shitten and more

    Pauline Hanson also has a score to settle and all publicity is good publicity

  26. Georgie @ Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    The Caucus is only bound by the current Leader Election Process because they voted for it.

    All that they have to do is have a vote to change back to the old system and then vote on the leadership. That takes less than an hour I would think and if you’ve got the numbers to roll Shorten then you would roll Shorten. If you want loyalty and a friend in Caucus – get a dog.

  27. J341983 @ Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    The ALP didn’t win Batman – the Greens lost it through their internecine warfare.

  28. I don’t understand why people keeping bringing up Batman. It wasn’t any sort of test of Shorten’s or Labor’s capacity to perform well against Turnbull: the Libs didn’t even field a candidate. Even if the Greens had won, it wouldn’t have meant anything much in terms of Labor’s prospects at the next Federal election.

    On the other hand, Braddon and Longman are two marginal Lib-Lab seats. If Labor can hold onto both of these, then would be reasonable to draw the conclusion that its position under Shorten is similar to the very close result in 2016. If they lose one or both, it could be argued that Labor has gone backwards since 2016.

  29. Likely hood …first both seats Braddon & Longman alp retained… Second one each ……..least likely both won by libs..

  30. my prediction (for today):

    Labor does poorly enough at the by-elections that Turnbull decides it is time for a general election in September before labor can replace shorten.

    LNP loses the general election by only a few seats, having underestimated swings in WA and Brisbane areas.

    shorten does not last a full first term. the turmoil continues.

  31. Re retirees in Braddon, how wealthy do they tend to be?
    Coastal NSW has areas of a large number of retired people, however many are not wealthy, certainly not wealthier than the general population.
    My impression of places like the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast is that their retirees area wealthier than the median.

  32. I agree there is no comparison with Batman and Longman and Braddon, they are widely different seats.
    If Labor does well they can take comfort from that and look forward to the general election.

  33. If Labor loses one or both of these seats, I can see Turnbull rushing off to a general election. If he does it will go down as one of the greatest missteps of all time. The LNP will get belted.

  34. Gees, get a grip……….Five seats, two the Libs have not had the stomach to stand and candidate in, one where they put a born-to-rule, up-herself-non person in as a candidate and looks as though she will be absolutely thumped leaving two marginal seats that not even the so-called experts are willing to call. That an Opposition leader should consider his position at risk at the loss of 2, 1 or none of these two remaining seats is a figment of the MSM imagination. Disappointing yes, but that is about all.
    This “Super Saturday” thing has been manufactured by the media to the extent that Spagnolo in the Sunday Times in Perth came out with this gem wtte that even if Shorten won all the seats, and the vote in the electorate of Perth went down for Labor, Shorten has “questions to answer” and has kind of failed yet another straw man “test”.
    If Labor were stupid enough to listen to the LNP friendly media as to who should lead the party, they might as well just as well pack up and go home.

  35. If Labor loses one or both, Turnbull will not call an early election.
    To go back on his promise to go to the voters in April/ May would be a breach of trust, and position him as just another internally focussed politician.
    He has a different view of himself. He will keep his word – or be slaughtered.

  36. Burgey @ Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    If Turnbull calls an election that basis then he deserves to lose. I expect that he will hold out until at least after Christmas and may even go full term.

  37. I agree Tricot, ‘questions to answer’ indeed.

    In any event, given that the Liberals aren’t running in Perth, how could such a ‘test’, a poor swing in Perth be measured?
    You probably can but not to initiate something like a leadership contest.

  38. Shorten, against all the predictions of the commentariat, was a few seats short of victory in 2016.

    Labor has lead in the polls ever since. The Coalition have only managed to claw their way back a bit when parliament isn’t sitting or when nothing is really happening (reminds me of the Gillard years).

    After all that, there are people confidently predicting Labor will lose the next Federal election in a landslide.

    The delusion of the commentariat and their boosters is amazing.

  39. Bobalot @ Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Apart from our friend Wayne, the cousin of Maguire Bob, who is claiming an ALP loss in a landslide?

    Asking for a friend.

  40. OK I’ll bite..

    “Asking for a friend.”

    -Are you asking for someone to be your friend?
    -Or are you asking on behalf of a person you call a friend?

    Either way is implausible….

  41. Unfortunately there were a few gremlins in my acres of psephological goodness – I’ve had to take my Longman piece to the panelbeaters because some swings were double-counted in the modelling. It’s had a quick patch job but might be a day or so before it completely regains consciousness.

  42. Sustainsble future@3:59pm
    Your prediction reminded me of a Seinfeld episode
    In that episode, Seinfeld meets an old man who has a dog. Seinfeld was forced to look after the dog because something happens old man. Seinfeld was frustrated to look after the dog because that dog is a ferocious dog. That old man returns at the end of the episode to collect his dog.
    Oldman says: “Prediction we will meet again”
    Seinfeld says: “Prediction we will never meet again”
    My point is
    Whatever you predicted will not happen.

  43. Mehar baba@1:28pm
    You come up with some fanciful stories
    Mehar baba@3:52pm
    Why do people keel bringing up “Batman”
    Because MSM pundits and LNP politicians and thekr supporters keep telling Australians that winning “Batman” is a test of leadership for Shorten.

  44. @ John Reidy: “Note that the process for a change of leadership is the constuition, see section 27.”

    The constitution just says that you need to conduct a ballot of members and the caucus if you want to elect a new leader.

    It doesn’t say that you can’t remove a leader.

    The ballot requirement won’t deter a challenge, specially from someone who has a strong base of support in the membership.

  45. Probably not backing himself in

    [Mr Strangio did not respond to questions from the ABC about the perjury conviction.

    ‘An undischarged bankrupt is ineligible’

    The seat of Braddon is in Tasmania’s north-west but Mr Strangio’s candidate statement on the Australian People’s Party website said he would be a “strong voice for Victoria in the next election”.]

  46. Oh get a grip people, Bill Shorten Will be taken the Labor party to the next election and all you people that are saying he won’t, or he will be replaced by Albo, are just hoping this is true, either you are all Lnp bludgers or you are Labor idiots who are believing every thing that the msm are reporting, remember Murdock has skin in the game, this man would love old Mal to get in again to the detriment of the Australian people, except for big business and the like, So if you are Labor people getting riled up about all the Lies and innuendo that are being written about, spoken about, especially on sky news, get a grip, show some backbone and vote for the party who has the best policies, which at the moment would be Labor as the only thing that the LNP has is Kill Bill. Its not a Presidential race, this is Australia not America

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