Happy trails: episode three

The Coalition continues to profess confidence about its prospects, but Scott Morrison’s recent campaign movements suggest a campaign on the defensive.

While Coalition sources are still making semi-confident noises in their briefings to the press gallery, Scott Morrison seems to have spent most of past week-and-a-bit sandbagging second-tier seats rather than carving out a pathway to victory, while Bill Shorten has remained on the offensive. In the first three weeks of the campaign, Morrison spent roughly as much time in Labor as in Coalition-held electorates, but going back to last weekend, the only prime ministerial visit that seemed in any way targeted at a Labor-held seat was in the New South Wales Central Coast seat of Dobell last Sunday – and that might equally have been pitched at its marginal Liberal-held neighbour, Robertson.

Morrison’s efforts yesterday were devoted to the Melbourne seat of Deakin, which the Liberals believed they had nailed down in more optimistic times earlier in the campaign. Similarly, Friday brought him to Capricornia, one of a number of regional Queensland seats the Coalition was supposedly feeling relaxed about due to the Adani issue. The visit was to Rockhampton, but the announcement of a new CQUniversity mines and manufacturing school equally applied to Gladstone, located in the similarly placed neighbouring seat of Flynn.

Morrison has also spent a lot of time on seats where the Liberals are under pressure from independents. Tuesday was spent straddling the Murray, where Cathy McGowan’s support group hopes to bequeath Indi to Helen Haines on the Victorian side, and Albury mayor Kevin Mack is taking on Liberal member Sussan Ley in the New South Wales seat of Farrer. On Thursday he went to Cowper, which it is feared the Nationals will lose to Rob Oakeshott.

Most remarkably, Morrison also spent the entirety of a trip to Melbourne last Friday in Kooyong, where he made pronouncements on themes not normally considered staples of the Liberal campaign, namely recycling and protection of threatened species (insert Josh Frydenberg joke). The danger there is that the seat will lose the blue-ribbon seat to ex-Liberal independent Oliver Yates. Still more striking is the fact that Bill Shorten felt the seat worth a visit yesterday, if only to be photographed with puppies at Guide Dogs Victoria.

You can find my accounting of the leaders’ movements in spreadsheet form here.

In other news, the last Sunday newspapers of the campaign are typically the first to bring editorial endorsements, although both the Fairfax titles have squibbed it today, as has Perth’s Sunday Times. The four News Corp papers that have taken a stand have all gone as you would expect. The online headline in the Sunday Telegraph says it is “time to end the worst period of political instability and cynicism since federation” – which you should do, naturally, by returning the government. Granted that this makes more sense if you read the whole thing, though very few will of course. In Victoria, the Coalition gets the endorsement of the Sunday Herald Sun, as it did before the state election in November, for all the good it did them. The Brisbane Sunday Mail’s effort is headlined “Australians can’t afford a reckless pursuit of utopia”; the Adelaide Sunday Mail says it’s “time for a steady hand”, i.e. not Bill Shorten’s.

Also today: the latest episode of Seat du jour, tackling the Perth seat of Hasluck.

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.

1,277 comments on “Happy trails: episode three”

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  1. Guy, the general public don’t pay attention to the details like we all do. It’d take something massive to shift sentiment significantly (which is both good for Labor and bad I guess).

  2. Its believable that the PPM rating would close – given Shorten has had equal billing with ScoMo for the last month.

    The issue seems to be the conservative vote has been parked since 2016 with PHON/PUP and seems to be coming home directly or through preferences.

    Labor’s poor choice of difficult to explain policies and a failure to clearly adopt progressive positions on issues like Adani will cost it dearly . 37% PV would be a record low to be elected from for the ALP.

  3. Kroger: we have a situation where most people think they have a right to vote prepoll.

    Who cares? They vote which is the main thing.

    Seriously, this is shite commentary.

  4. A_E

    In 2016 Labor got 64% of non-major prefs. If they did this now on a 37-39 primary split TPP is 52.4.

    I know that the Greens vote is 9 rather than 10 etc etc, but past pref flows are a reasonable guide.

    As others have said – on the “last” Newspoll on Fri/Sat where they go to the 0.5’s they may have Labor on 51.5

  5. The polls just aren’t showing the supposed ALP ascendancy that seems to have been treated as a given here over the last week. I would expect at least 52 or 53 for Labor based on the vibe of the campaign, betting markets and discussion here.

    The big unknowns are preference flows and how the 51 is distributed. E.g. if Labor is getting hammered in safe Lib seats but doing well in marginals that would explain a great deal.

    I am quite concerned that Facebook ads pushing lies and Lib media are cutting through. Labor could hardly have run a better campaign yet here we are.

  6. Mr Morrison is certainly a chameleon: as well as being “Tiberius with a Twitter-feed” he has today added a new persona: “Sejanus with a Sub-prime Subsidy”

    What’s next, one wonders …

  7. “and a failure to clearly adopt progressive positions on issues like Adani ”

    The ALP isn’t progressive enough, so peeps are voting for the LNP? If that’s true, then Australians are more awful than I could have guessed.

  8. Vic:

    I cannot believe the Victorian Liberals are happy to see him spreading his nonsense far and wide after he has presided over nearly a decade of Liberal failure in his home state.

  9. So another 10% improvement for Bill as PPM & no shift to Labor.
    News totally skewed sample by including UAP as identifiable party at late date.

    Smelly as usual , I’ll go for 100 seat majority to Labor even after Lachlan Murdoch unleashes his dogs nextveeek.

  10. The Courier Mail apparently has a front page story tomorrow that is bad for Shorten. Could this be the start of the shitshow low rent campaign against him, waged by News Ltd?

  11. I told you that our great LNP would come back and will the May 18 election and whoever as betted on the coalition to win the election they will have a big pay day come Saturday night

  12. Edi_Mahin @ #593 Sunday, May 12th, 2019 – 2:54 pm

    Yeah, calling Jason Ball an AFL player is dishonest and misleading and should not be allowed. AFL = Australian Football League. This Jason Ball did not play in that League although there was a true AFL player called Jason Ball. I hope Jason Ball is not elected to parliament, we do not need this type of person in parliament.

    The local comps are AFL as well e.g.

  13. Kevin Ryan, former Rugby international, premiership winner with St George and grand final making captaincoach with Canterbury, noted heavyweight boxer represented the ALP in NSW parliament.

  14. “You would think Kroger would stfu considering he oversaw a blood bath for his party in Victoria”


    “You would think Giles would stfu considering he oversaw a blood bath for his party in the Territory”


    “You would think Downer would stfu considering she oversaw a blood bath for her party in the family inheritance”

    Not forgetting

    “You would think Murray would stfu considering he pumped Tony Abbott’s tires fir two years while Tones burnt his own government to the ground”

    But hey. Skynoos after dark. I hear Lachie likes it.

  15. John Bannon played for and Captained one of the College sides (PAOC or SPOC)

    Played against him in a few social matches and my recall was a right arm leg spin bowler (he chided me a few times that if I had missed my sweep my leg stump would have gone)

    At that time it was said to me that he was a future SA Premier – anointed by Donny D, which I was able to confirm

    Was unfairly maligned over the State Bank fiasco – the Capital of those banks in each State unable to provision for Bad and Doubtful Debt following the USA Savings & Loans fiasco which put pressure on real estate valuations globally – and, indeed pressured the major banks including in Australia then in S-E Asia some time later with the IMF Crisis and the Terms and Conditions of IMF support when First Thailand floated their currency

    The Murdoch press had it that the pressuring of the Balance Sheets of the State Banks (plural) was a State matter down to government

    Such presentations were abject trash in keeping with the reputation of the Murdoch gutter press

  16. “if Labor is getting hammered in safe Lib seats but doing well in marginals that would explain a great deal. ”

    Yup. On the issues that i think have had the highest profiles hip pocket wise (Neg Gearing / Franking Credits, Tax) i reckon they are likely to have the biggest affect in seats the Libs hold already with respectable margins.

    Its entirely plausible and even likely that the Libs are getting some votes back, but not in the seats they need to win.

    I that happens, expect to hear loud guffaw and the clinking of glasses from the Governors Residence in W.A. on the night 🙂

  17. Visited Hervey Bay recently. The number of failed/failing businesses is ridiculous. Shopfronts are sitting empty with ‘For Lease’ signs in the window all along the main esplanade. Venues that went under months (or in some cases, years) ago continue to sit empty, idle and deteriorating. The local CommBank branch has been permanently shut and looks hastily/carelessly abandoned.

    The real-estate market has been decimated, too. There are houses being listed around the $200k mark. Modern, 4-bed houses can be found under $400k. For less than half of what I paid for my land on the Sunshine Coast seven years ago I could buy an equivalent plot five times over. I don’t remember this being the case that last time I casually checked the housing prices here.

    Morrison must look like an absolute joke to everyone here every time he talks about how strong the economy is. Scare campaigns on how negative-gearing reforms will wreck the property market can’t possibly work when anyone who bought/built in the past 5 years is already underwater.

    Signage-wise, I counted one dilapidated shack with a Labor sign, one dilapidated shack plastered with four “Fraser Anning Conservatives” signs (go figure), and two large, well-maintained premises of antiquated construction style sporting Liberal signs.

    By far, the most popular candidate is “For Sale”. I expect them to win in a canter.

  18. Nicholas:

    Cud Chewer is correct about the NBN. The limit on what the Australian Government can do is determined by the amount of labour and raw materials and the capabilities of the available technology.

    Money is not the issue.

    Depends – if the Commonwealth must purchase skilled labour and fixed capital from overseas it must do so in $US or Euro (or perhaps some others) and is financially continued in its ability to do so.

    The capital equipment almost inevitably comes from Europe (since several Anglo-Saxon telecoms manufacturers self-destructed a few years ago) and tragically it seems that skilled labour needs to be imported too

  19. Roger:

    As an economist, every time I hear “fiat currency” I suspect some pseudo intellectual pushing a heterodox charlatanry

    Fiat currency (or at least its implication: uncovered money printing) should be integrated into fiscal management, via a disciplined approach.

    The rationale is that it can usefully provides a unique fiscal management instrument with very short lag in effect, which is not available with extant fiscal instruments (forcing overuse of monetary instruments). $900 cheques in the mail have a longer lag and complete lack of discipline.

    However, disciplined money printing needs to be subject to well understood rules, fiduciary mechanisms and limits (see Adair Turner’s extensive search for such)

    My proposed rules and limits are:
    – Limit: money printing limited to refund of GST component of electronic retail transactions (i.e. EFTPOS from retail merchants to final consumers).
    – Fiduciary Mechanism: create an independent fiscal management authority with stature equivalent to reserve bank (monetary management functions). This on a weekly basis sets the GST refund rate at some point between the headline rate (10% in AU) and zero. Refunds are funded using printed money via the EFT payments clearing function (with technical measures to preserve integrity) .
    – Rule for setting the refund rate based on nominal growth targeting or inflation targeting*, probably the former.

    * monetary policy targeting can use either inflation targeting or nominal growth targeting; inflation targeting was chosen by most (all?) reserve banks as it seemed a more natural fit. With fiscal management both alternatives are likewise available, but here nominal growth seems more natural.

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