Election minus five weeks

Candidates on both sides of the aisle drop out of contention, Peter Dutton suffers a self-inflicted wound in Dickson, and Shooters Fishers and Farmers rein in their expectations.

Two days in the campaign, and already much to relate:

• Labor’s audacious gambit of running former Fremantle MP Melissa Parke in Curtin has proved short-lived, after a controversy brewed over comments she had made critical of Israel. Parke announced her withdrawal after the Herald Sun presented the Labor campaign with claims she had told a meeting of WA Labor for Palestine that she could “remember vividly” – presumably not from first-hand experience – a pregnant refugee being ordered to drink bleach at a Gaza checkpoint. Parke is also said to have spoken of Israel’s “influence in our political system and foreign policy”, no doubt bringing to the party hierarchy’s mind the turmoil that has lately engulfed the British Labour Party in relation to such matters. In her statement last night, Parke said her views were “well known, but I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government”. James Campbell of the Herald Sun notes the forum was also attended by Parkes’ successor in Fremantle, Josh Wilson.

• Meanwhile, Liberal Party vetting processes have caused the withdrawal on Section 44 grounds of three candidates in who-cares seats in Melbourne. They are Cooper candidate Helen Jackson, who dug her heels in when told her no-chance candidacy required her to abandon her job at Australia Post, so that the integrity of executive-legislative relations might be preserved; Lalor candidate Kate Oski, who is in danger of being Polish; and Wills candidate Vaishali Ghosh, who was, as The Age put it in a report I hope no one from overseas reads, “forced to step aside over her Indian heritage”.

• Peter Dutton has been under fire for his rhetorical overreach against Ali France, the Labor candidate in his marginal seat of Dickson. Dutton accused France, who had her leg amputated after being hit by a car in 2011, of “using her disability as an excuse” for not moving into the electorate. France lives a short distance outside it, and points to the $100,000 of her compensation money she has spent making her existing home fully wheelchair accessible. Labor has taken the opportunity to point to Dutton’s failed attempt from 2009 to move to the safer seat of McPherson on the Gold Coast, where he owns a $2.3 million beachside holiday home, and by all accounts spends a great deal of his time. Dutton refused to apologise for the comments yesterday, while Scott Morrison baselessly asserted that they were taken out of context.

Greg Brown of The Australian reports Robert Borsak, leader of Shooters Fishers and Farmers and one of the party’s state upper house MPs, concedes the party is struggling to recruit candidates, and will not repeat its state election feat of winning seats in the lower house. Nonetheless, it has Orange deputy mayor Sam Romano lined up as its candidate for Calare and plans to run in Eden-Monaro, Parkes and possibly New England. This follows suggestions the party might pose a threat to the Nationals in Parkes and Farrer, which largely correspond with the state seats of Barwon and Murray, which the party won at last month’s state election. Calare encompasses Orange, which Shooters have held since a November 2016 by-election.

• “I don’t trust our polling at all”, says “a senior federal Liberal MP” cited by John Ferguson in The Australian, apropos the party’s prospects in Victoria. It is not clear if the source was being optimistic or pessimistic, but the report identifies a range of opinion within the Liberal camp extending from only two or three losses in Victoria – likewise identified as a “worst case scenario” by Labor sources – to as many as seven.

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.

1,433 comments on “Election minus five weeks”

  1. Kj @ #894 Sunday, April 14th, 2019 – 12:01 pm

    Rex. The problem with just banning coal is that Australian coal is higher quality than Indian coal and coal for many other countries.
    Also, there is no current replacement in Australia except for gas. Renewables are not up to the task.

    Yeah, nah. To pretty much all of that.

    Australia only has 25 million people, and an enormous amount of land. The only reason renewables aren’t “up to the task” is because we’ve been cheap and lazy and stuck with a Federal government whose only energy policy is constant paralysis.

    If you actually want to benefit the environment, the Greens would get behind science and support nuclear.

    That’s more reasonable. Though in the time it takes to spin up a domestic nuclear industry, large-scale renewables could be rolled out many times over.

  2. KJ @ #898 Sunday, April 14th, 2019 – 12:08 pm

    @Rex

    Science, look at the facts and not just people that tell Fukushima or Chernobyl.

    But yes, I’d be very happy to live in a town with a nuclear power plant.

    Would you be happy to work on wind farms (higher death rate) or happy for someone to put solar on your roof (also higher death rate).

    Great next step for you is convincing your local MP to nominate your town for a nuclear power plant. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  3. ar

    That’s more reasonable. Though in the time it takes to spin up a domestic nuclear industry, large-scale renewables could be rolled out many times over

    Pro nuclear Ziggy Zwitkowski,actual nuclear physicist top boot, concluded in a study a decade+ ago it was too late for Australia to go nuclear if we want it to reduce CO2 emissions in the time available.

  4. I don’t want to encourage malicious gossip, but there’s a poster on the sidebar of the Labor video who hints that Bill will be taken to court by a woman. He’s an avowed Labor hater, btw.

  5. That was an excellent way to break down the cost of the tax loophole.

    Two minutes worth of the loopholes would pay for a doctor for a year (or some such – can’t remember the break downs) or a hospital bed for a year … personalise it, rather than just random numbers.

    Effective – also for those receiving to realise how much the rort actually costs … rather than a big sum in which they think “my little bit is so small” so it doesn’t make any difference.

  6. KJ @ #899 Sunday, April 14th, 2019 – 12:08 pm

    @Rex

    Science, look at the facts and not just people that tell Fukushima or Chernobyl.

    But yes, I’d be very happy to live in a town with a nuclear power plant. Would you ever visit Middlesborough? Heck, even London is an hour away from a nuclear plant.

    Would you be happy to work on wind farms (higher death rate) or happy for someone to put solar on your roof (also higher death rate).

    What you say about death rates may be true, but the consequences of a nuclear accident are potentially much greater.
    That is the issue.

  7. @ AR,

    Germany has already increased the cost of electricity by 50% between 2006 and 2016 in their desire to have 100% renewables yet it only makes up 26% of electricity provision. They’ve also spent more than €200B in the process. The more energy from renewables, the harder it is to increase the share and the more expensive.

  8. Lizzie, saw it too – question is, when will an open Liberal figure or Murdoch outlet resurrect the Smear? Which, by the way, was fully investigated by Victorian police years ago who found nothing in the allegations.

  9. In support of Science, science doesn’t ask questions or make decisions. People do that. (And of course, Engineers do the detail.) To rely on Science you need to ask lots of questions and listen to the answers.

    What you do next depends on you. I found this a decent intro on how to effect change.
    https://medium.com/civic-tech-thoughts-from-joshdata/so-you-want-to-reform-democracy-7f3b1ef10597
    One quote:

    Don’t start working on your idea until you know where a lobbyists’s power comes from (it’s not money — if you think it’s money, you are not ready to work on this problem).

  10. @EGW

    That includes the accidents.

    Do we not have hydro because of the accidents?
    Do we not have solar because of the accidents and environmental damage from mining and waste from the panels etc. Solar has more toxic waste per kWh than nuclear. Yet proponents kick the can down the road.

    No one really compares like with like when they compare renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear.

  11. KJ @ #911 Sunday, April 14th, 2019 – 12:22 pm

    @ AR,

    Germany has already increased the cost of electricity by 50% between 2006 and 2016 in their desire to have 100% renewables yet it only makes up 26% of electricity provision. They’ve also spent more than €200B in the process. The more energy from renewables, the harder it is to increase the share and the more expensive.

    So, ignoring climate change, what happens when the coal and oil run out?

  12. And the people holding the placards for Morrison almost look enthusiastic … almost … no wait … not quite … maybe just a little …. stunned mulletish?

  13. @SCOUT we absolutely need to act. However promoting actions that won’t have effect or get through will delay action.

    Just like the Greens voting against Rudd’s approach.

  14. KJ

    Do,you realise the cleanup for Fukushima is approaching a trillion dollars? A generation of Ukrainians sick and impoverished from Chernobyl?

    The Germans are not on some Pollyanna path with closing their nuclear plants and investing in renewables

  15. Just watching Morrison. I lasted about 2 minutes. It’s like watching some, fundamentalist religious revival campaign! It turns me off. Completely. I wonder about the extent that his speaking style turns off mainstream voters? Not those with a keen political interest like visitors to this blog, but rather the every day voters, who watch a few minutes of news on TV every night.

  16. Donald Trump is dying to run against a bonafide socialist.

    Why is that? Because the 40 seats Democrats picked up in 2018 were almost entirely due to the party running moderates in competitive districts where Dems were able to cannibalize right-leaning independents who disliked Donald Trump.

    Give those voters a choice between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and maybe they stay home or maybe they flip back to voting Republican. Either way: Not good.

    Incidentally, this is also the precise scenario in which we’re most likely to see the ascendency of Howard Schultz or some other independent candidate who can appeal to an underserved political middle.

    (Side note: This is why I believe, more than anything, we need a Republican primary challenger to Trump.)

    https://thebulwark.com/democrats-please-take-whatever-precautions-are-necessary-to-prevent-this-terrible-disaster/

    There is still time for John Kasich to challenge Trump. Or even Mitt Romney.

  17. I don’t want to encourage malicious gossip…

    Nobody is touching it. Watched one such twitter post get removed very quickly – either by the poster or twitter. The longer the campaign runs the more any claim will look disingenuous and desperate.

    My hunch is there is nothing new. The Liberals may resort to rehashing some old gossip dressed as new. The low road is bottomless.

  18. Outsider @ #925 Sunday, April 14th, 2019 – 12:29 pm

    Just watching Morrison. I lasted about 2 minutes. It’s like watching some, fundamentalist religious revival campaign! It turns me off. Completely. I wonder about the extent that his speaking style turns off mainstream voters? Not those with a keen political interest like visitors to this blog, but rather the every day voters, who watch a few minutes of news on TV every night.

    Shorten may not be the greatest orator I have ever seen, but he sure beats Morrison.

  19. That rumour about Shorten is still being peddled by that Michael Smith nutbag who was too much of a butter for even Macquarie Radio and got the sack.

    Thought Shorten was terrific, but I’m horribly biased of course.

    One thing I do notice though, Morrison is terribly unfit. He’s puffing and panting even doing this set piece. Going to be a long five weeks for him I think.

  20. @AnodyneParadigm

    That both MSM & @abcnews have comprehensively failed to hold LNP Coalition to account for use of term “retiree tax” is a grave failure of our Fourth Estate. If a private company made this fallacious claim it would be prosecuted by ACCC for deceptive & misleading conduct #auspol

  21. The other religious element that strikes me about Morrison’s approach is he just repeats the tenets of his faith over and over and over – Labor wastes money, blah blah blah. There’s no attempt to deal with matters of substance. Does that really work? We get a lot of focus group feedback on Shorten’s deficiencies, but what’s the feedback on Morrison? I harbour a suspicion that as voters get to see more and more of him (given that apparently he is still largely unknown to a substantial number of voters) , they will get sick and tired of him pretty quickly, and this will be reflected in a slump in his personal poll ratings.

  22. Burgey

    I noticed that Bill’s voice occasionally sounds hoarse. Perhaps he needs advice on using mics most effectively, or he won’t last the distance. Other than that, he’s obviously match fit. I wish I was.

  23. Of course the back in black nonsense is just another lie. It’s a forecast. Not a fact. A bit like forecasting what the Christmas Day weather will be like on Easter Sunday!

  24. @Sproket, I assume you are getting your ¥ and $ mixed up. Current cleanup costs are less than the amount Germany has spent for no change in emissions.

    Also, I think you need to read the latest WHO updates that have found that cancer rates around Chernobyl are trending with populations that weren’t involved and have massively reduced the expected premature deaths. In fact it is more dangerous to live in a large city than to be a clean up worker at Chernobyl measuring by premature death.

    Also, as I said, like for like. Using Chernobyl technology to warn against nuclear would be like using 1950’s technology to say solar is useless. That type of reactor doesn’t exist in new construction and hasn’t for many decades.

    There has also only been 1 death as a result of radiation from Fukushima. In other words only extra death because the plant was there than if it wasn’t.

    In fact, there have only been two instances where radiation has caused deaths from a nuclear power plant. One from a plant design that doesn’t exist anymore and one because it was built in the path of a tsunami that killed 22,000 times more people than the plant. I think the plant is the least of the concerns there.

  25. Also, if you don’t consider nuclear, you actually don’t care enough to reduce emissions or you are willing to cherry pick from sources you agree with rather than that which cuts through the emotion.

    Remember, if you go all in on renewables, you support fossil fuels. No country has come close to 100% renewables regularly.

  26. I agree with those who say nuclear power is not an option. We need to reduce emissions substantially by 2030. Finland started building a GenIII reactor in the mid 2007s and it is still not operational. The nuclear industry has told a lot of fibs about time and cost. I used to believe them. Not any more. By the time we had nuclear up and running our 2030 deadline would have passsed.

    All that a commitment to nuclear would do is lock in another decade of using decrepit old coal fired power stations that are no longer reliable. Nice move if you have shares in a coal power plant, but not in the national interest.

  27. Pedant says:
    Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 11:39 am
    I have no time for Mr Christensen, but I’m also more than a little uneasy about the role of the AFP in this. A bit too J Edgar Hoover-ish for my liking.

    *********

    You’re right.

    A politician regularly visits an place notorious for illicit drugs and prostitution, and whom has been detected by AUSTRAC making regular payment in excess of 10000 AUD to persons or entities in that area, then refuses, as is his legal entitlement, to co-operate with AFP investigations into his alleged activities whilst in that area.

    Pedant is right, nothing to see here people.

    To paraphrase a mantra for politicians just like Mr Christensen when it is applied to ordinary people, if he has nothing to hide then he has nothing to fear, so he needs to tell us all about what he was up to whilst he was in the Philippines, and provide evidence of such.

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