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. Katharine Murphy

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/12/adani-coalmine-can-labor-get-away-with-choosing-ambiguity-over-integrity

    Some of Labor’s current failure to provide a straight answer to a simple question relates to concern about future legal process and the potential consequences of loose language – which was the point I raised earlier about the recklessness of the Queensland thunder.

    But some of it is politics too.

    Labor flirted with the idea of toughening up opposition to Adani and stepped back because it wanted to try and be all things to all people – sort of for it, sort of against it.

    The ambiguity is supposed to be artful.

    But at what point, in the glare of a five-week election campaign, does it begin to look shifty?

  2. Strange that BK’s excellent summary was unable to include anything about the withdrawal of the highest profile celebrity candidate in WA because of her antisemitic views.
    _____

    Bucephalus
    It’s a well known fact that Israel can do no wrong.

  3. Confessions, Morrison did not knife Turnbull.

    Turnbull called the spill.

    Morrison only ran in the second ballot and that wasn’t against Turnbull. Morrison was supported by Turnbull supporters.

  4. The Israel Folau situation is more of a workers’ rights issue than a free speech issue. How much scope should an employer have to control what an employee or contractor does in their own time in their personal capacity? Whatever you think of Israel Folau specifically, employers have been granted far too much power in this area in the name of “protecting their image or brand”. Workers are entitled to a private life; workers are entitled to time when they are off the clock and not representing their employer.

    If a worker has made a reasonable effort to make it clear that they are not speaking in their capacity as a contractor or employee of the organization that pays them, and they are doing this in their own time, it’s reasonable to expect the organization to simply tell everyone that they don’t endorse what the person said. The organization can make it clear to the public where they stand on the issue in question. Termination is a drastic response that generally is not warranted.

    The Israel Folau situation is complicated by the fact that what he said probably adds to the risk of mental illness and suicide experienced by people who are LGBTI. Arguably it is best for our society to do whatever it takes to deter people from making statements that diminish LGBTI people – including terminating the contracts of people who have high profiles and are using their profile to damage people. That is a better justification for terminating his contract than saying that the ARL is entitled to protect its brand.

  5. So Katharine Murphy is back on her Adani gig. Was it about six Adani-Shorten articles in a week from Kath a couple of years back? She never gives up… and never learns.

  6. ‘fess, I reckon same goes for elected members. That party lost its values long ago – sold them out or just distorted and deformed them in the game of gaining and consolidating power (Dems did this also to some extent). Elected Republican members voting for Trump is just a natural progression of that. Keeping the Dems out of power; keeping power for themselves. Hand in hand round the abattoir race.

  7. While ScumMo has started with a barrage of lies, and Labor was correct to pounce on them, I do think Labor needs to keep the messaging simple(r). There are really only three key themes again;
    – lets have a fairer tax system
    – lets use the money to fix health and education
    – lets finally act on climate change.

    If it can’t be explained in under sixty seconds, its too complicated. So on tax, no complex answers – just say Labor is not adding any new taxes, and in the next government most people will get the same tax cuts under Labor as Liberal. More people will get bigger tax cuts under Labor than Liberal. Simple.

  8. https://www.outline.com/DkcycN

    The age pension, for example, had increased as a share of average weekly earnings from 30 per cent to 37 per cent over the past two decades. Yet the unemployment payment, Newstart, had not increased.

    “Newstart recipients now live on $40 a day compared to $65 for full-rate pensioners,” she said.

    That ever-growing disparity “speaks to the political perception of deserving and undeserving welfare recipients”.

  9. Winter is Coming!

    Forget Game of Thrones; Malcolm is Coming!

    The big news drop is coming soon. Malcolm will seek his revenge. Who here doesn’t believe that Malcolm will sabotage the treacherous Libs who destroyed him?

    Lock it in; ALP to win 100 seats.

    “Revenge is mine….(insert evil laugh a-la Vincent Price)”

  10. If Franking Credits and Negative Gearing changes were going to hurt Labor in this election they would have bitten it in the arse a long time before this.

  11. boolenbach: “For God’s sake Bucephalus, they are not anti semitic; but they are certainly anti Israel.
    What Israel is doing to the Palestinians violates numerous US declarations and is a crime against humanity.”

    Perhaps the comments weren’t anti-semitic per se, but – leaving aside the rather sensational allegation about forced bleach-drinking – the comment (if accurately reported, and I accept that it might not have been) that Israel’s “influence in our political system and foreign policy is substantial” could be perceived by some as being directed primarily towards the Australian Jewish community: which, it seems to me, is the source of the main voices supporting Israel within the Australian political debate. And the incident is unfortunate against the backdrop of the current controversy around alleged anti-semitism within the British Labour Party.

    Ms Parke is a charismatic and articulate politician and it’s a great pity for Labor that she is unable to continue with her campaign. But I believe she did the right thing in stepping down.

  12. Socrates – I thought that Shorten was very good on Scumo’s tax lies. He just said: “That’s a lie and I’m not going to waste my time on it.” Complex answers look shifty. Labor is doing brilliantly with Shorten staying positive and everybody else on the attack.

  13. Socrates
    ‘Labor is not adding any new taxes….under a government I lead..
    That’s what the average punter hears because Morriscum and Co never give it a rest.

    You need a plan B

  14. That’s not the full story Bucephalus. Rather than backing Turnbull, Morrison’s supporters made sure that the call for the spill had enough signatures so that Mal was forced to put the spill motion to the party room thus ensuring the Scott was in position to be the “anyone but Dutton candidate” when Mal resigned after the spill motion was carried. It was more subtle than the usual knife in the back but it was still knifework.

  15. a r @ #771 Friday, April 12th, 2019 – 11:18 pm

    …..

    Rex Douglas @ #239 Friday, April 12th, 2019 – 10:09 pm

    I’d hope she’d be above politicising her physical capabilities

    Dutton has already done that for her.

    Also, not the point. The point was that she should let the voters get to know her, and that includes a discussion of her disability, how it came about, and how it impacts her daily life. Because all of that is part of who she is. Which is what makes Dutton’s commentary such a low blow.

    and instead focus on what she can deliver for her constituents.

    She can do both. 🙂

    The voters of Dickson, I’m sure, are only interested in what she can deliver to them.

    The voters of Dickson, I’m also sure, aren’t interested in her personal life.

    Dutton will of course go the low road – she should focus on servicing her constituents.

  16. kevjohnno @ #66 Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – 9:39 am

    That’s not the full story Bucephalus. Rather than backing Turnbull Morrison’s supporters made sure that the call for the spill had enough signatures so that Mal was forced to put the spill motion to the party room thus ensuring the Scott was in position to be the “anyone but Dutton candidate” when Mal resigned after the spill motion was carried. It was more subtle than the usual knife in the back but it was still knifework.

    And when the original spill occurred, Morrison shifted 5 votes over to Dutton to cruel Turnbull’s chances. Then his team boasted about it to Laundy.

  17. AB11: “If Franking Credits and Negative Gearing changes were going to hurt Labor in this election they would have bitten it in the arse a long time before this.”

    GST only bit Hewson in the fundament at about 7 pm on election night in 1993. Pollsters and pundits continued to predict a narrow Coalition win on election day.

    I think franking credits are more of a boutique concern than negative gearing. If I were advising the Libs, I’d focus primarily on the latter issue (and I reckon they will).

    And, yes, it mightn’t be nearly enough to save them: I reckon they are coming from much further back than Keating was in 1993. But my point is that Labor’s tax policies seem to provide an avenue for the Libs when otherwise they would seem to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to run with.

    Of course, a couple of major polls reporting 47-53 or worse will kill off any comeback pretty quickly.

  18. Deb O’Neil just botched her interview on ABC24 while debating the odious Craig Kelly.

    If Labor wish to expose the Liberals ‘tax’ lies, they need to be on top of their brief.

  19. booleanbach,

    Being anti-Israel is being Anti-semitic because it is the only Jewish State in the world. I’ve got no problem with criticising them for doing specific things that are wrong. They do actually charge their soldiers and imprison them when they are found guilty of offences: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190308-3-israel-soldiers-convicted-for-beating-palestinian-father-son-in-custody/
    However, for a Nation that the UN created and then was immediately attacked by all of its’ neighbours plus Iraq, the constant terrorism attacks, the claims of genocide despite the exploding population and outright Antisemitism of BDS campaigns and existential threats they constantly face forcing them to live on a constant war footing – it isn’t the same as living in a peaceful western democracy so to hold them to the same standards as unrealistic.

  20. Meanwhile in C@t Country….

    No!
    C@t is a coastie Coastie. That is hinterland Coastie territory. Completely different species.

  21. Sohar @ #55 Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – 9:31 am

    So Katharine Murphy is back on her Adani gig. Was it about six Adani-Shorten articles in a week from Kath a couple of years back? She never gives up… and never learns.

    Adani is a massive election issue.

    It’s not Murphys fault Labor have wedged themselves on the issue.

    I’m sure Murphy will skewer both major parties over the next 5 weeks. There’s plenty of material for her.

  22. Nice try Bucephalus, but it is a bit late to rewrite history on the spill. The tale has been told and retold by the spill players in the media from every angle since it happened.
    It is apparent to all who Turnbull holds responsible that’s for sure

  23. Simon² Katich®

    Yes, it was in Mr Bowe’s summary but so were a number of other issues that BK linked to articles about.

    It’s as bad as UK Labour around here.

  24. booleanbach @ #17 Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – 8:25 am

    No room in the ALP for anyone who is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians (who are about to have the West Bank stolen from them completely – against all international laws).
    Not as broad a church as the LNP then.
    Pathetic

    Careful, expressing concern for the plight of the Palestinians has been known to get people banned from PB.

    That well known vicious anti-Semite, Geraldine Doogue had an excellent segment on Saturday Extra this morning about the way Palestinians on the West Bank are getting reticulated water only one day a week and in some cases only 6 hours a week. They have to store water for use the rest of the week. In Gaza, their plight is even more dire with 95% of the water not fit for human consumption.

    Water in the Palestinian territories

    Saturday 13 April 2019 7:30AM (view full episode)

    The Jordan River, the Coastal Aquifer and the Mountain Aquifer are the three main sources of water to the Palestinian territories. Yet access to these water resources is controlled by Israel, and Palestinians living in the Palestinian territories have long been faced with a lack of access to adequate, safe, and clean water.

    Guest:

    Dr Abdelrahman Tamimi, General Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group.

    https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/water-in-the-palestinian-territories/10993866

  25. Victoria,

    I know everyone here hates Trump. I think he is a boor, Unpresidential and not a Republican. But to claim he has been a disaster for the Republicans is ridiculous. He beat Billary and is stacking the SCOTUS and Federal Circuits. He is withdrawing from Paris and jerking China’s chain on unfair trade practices. He has also helped defeat ISIS – which Barry said couldn’t be done despite them being JV.

  26. Bucephalus @ #32 Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – 8:58 am

    Strange that BK’s excellent summary was unable to include anything about the withdrawal of the highest profile celebrity candidate in WA because of her antisemitic views.

    If that is meant to be a pathetic attempt to smear BK you are going to get your butt kicked from Monday to Sunday for that deek head. BK is ALWAYS objective and impartial. Don’t be such a dick.

  27. Rex Douglas; “If Labor wish to expose the Liberals ‘tax’ lies, they need to be on top of their brief.”

    One last comment on this, and then I really should stop.

    Rather than worry about whether or not attacks on Labor’s tax policies are “lies”, it’s important to be clear what those policies are, who they affect, and how the Liberals will try to play on this.

    Labor’s suite of tax, health and welfare policies involve using the taxation system to shift a substantial amount of income and wealth out of the hands of the middle to upper middle classes – ie, professionals and white collar managers, teachers, academics, self-funded retirees (who are predominantly former professionals and white collar managers), etc – and into the hands of lower-income workers and people living on welfare. Labor is running with these policies at a time when the budget is moving into surplus and, prima facie, it would be possible to help the lower-income workers and welfare recipients without imposing a greater tax burden on those who are better off. And also at a time at which the value of owner-occupied housing (the main source of wealth for all Australians, including the middle to upper-middle classes) is falling significantly in most parts of the country.

    All things being equal, this would all be a difficult sell in the marginal seats where, even if the numbers of actual middle to upper middle class people are relatively small, there can be found a much larger group of people who aspire to become wealthy enough to own some shares and investment properties, fund their own retirement, etc.

    So far, Labor has been trying to sell it with some rather questionable data about alleged growing inequality, which doesn’t seem to be getting much traction. Another possible way of selling it – which Labor hasn’t run hard with yet, but still might – is that Labor is going to make sure that these tax changes are accompanied by significant real wage increases for all Australians, so that there will be a rising tide that will lift all boats to some extent. There is some risk in this argument, as it will allow the Libs to make the claim that the economy, while improving, is still quite fragile, and an aggressive push on wages will risk pushing us back into recession. And, also, the prospect of aggressive pushes by unions for wage increases never plays that well in marginal seats.

    I said that it would be a difficult sell for Labor all things being equal. But all things are not equal: Labor is up against a deeply unpopular government. So Labor might still be ok.

    IMO, what Labor MPs, especially backbenchers, really need to do in regard to the debate about tax policy is to try to change the subject as much as possible. Focus on the government’s shortcomings.

  28. Methinks BILL is going to have KK with him for the duration of the campaign including his morning jogs. He needs some time in the gym to off load the man boobs if that’s bothering him. lol.

  29. Can’t be doing his back any good carrying those around with no support.

    I knew a politics lecturer who had them. He was young and reasonably fit. Genetic supposedly.

    I blame hormones in chicken and estrogen on receipt paper. Accept one of those shiny receipt slips and bobs your man boobs.

  30. Careful, expressing concern for the plight of the Palestinians has been known to get people banned from PB.

    ____________________________________

    Only when it is expressed in the form of holocaust denial.

  31. meher baba @ #62 Saturday, April 13th, 2019 – 9:36 am

    the comment (if accurately reported) that Israel’s “influence in our political system and foreign policy is substantial” could easily be perceived by some as being directed primarily towards the Australian Jewish community

    1. You’re really reaching there with the suggestion that the comment could have somehow been about Australian Jews.

    2. That Parke was immediately forced to resign demonstrates the validity of that particular comment. The political influence is obviously huge; you can’t even mention it and still retain your political career!

  32. Rex: Adani is a massive election issue.
    I’m saying that Murphy wrote about half a dozen articles linking Shorten to Adani in the lead up to the Batman by-election, hoping to embarrass Labor among Guardian readers. We all know what happened to the Greens in that election. If Kath can’t persuade voters in areas like Brunswick, she has no hope nationally. Katharine is not a very bright journalist. She never learns.

  33. Confessions,

    I trust you will hold the ALP to the same high standards on not making appointments at the end of their term of government? Yes?

  34. Bucephalus@8:58am
    I did not know that criticising Israel is anti-semetic. It shows how powerful Israel lobby is. It shows how scared ALP and Liberals are of Israel lobby.

  35. The West newspaper attacked Melissa Parke from Day 1 calling her “Amusement Parke” (very droll) and the paper has not wasted any time sticking it to her and Labor.
    I would not consider her views ‘anti-Semetic’ rather than critical of Israel. However, such are the sensitivities, that attack on the actions of the government of Israel is somehow seen as an attack on all Jewish people.
    For outsiders, who understand little of the politics of Israel (me included) when the current ruling party relies heavily on small Orthodox religious parties, it is not surprising it is difficult to work just whether the state of Israel is secular, or no different from Iran with the influence of the religious on day-to-day politics.
    Then again, the fundamentalist right of the Liberal party would probably like the same arrangement here in Oz.

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