Tidying up

Full preference counts should start unrolling over the next few days, but we’re probably still a fortnight away from being sure of the exact composition of the Senate.

So far as the outcome on seats is concerned, two questions from the federal election remain to be answered: who wins Macquarie, which could potentially deliver the Coalition a 78th seat, or – more likely – a 68th for Labor; and who gets the last Senate seat in Queensland. No new numbers have been added to the count in Macquarie since Wednesday, apparently because they’ve been gathering everything together for one last heave. Labor leads by 282; I make it that there are about 950 votes outstanding; the Liberals will need nearly two-third of them to close the gap. Their more realistic hope, if any, is that an error shows up during the preference distribution, but that’s highly unlikely after all the checking that’s been done already.

Out of the other lower house seats, I’ll be particularly interested to see the results of the preference distribution in Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter, where there is a chance the One Nation candidate might draw ahead of the Nationals candidate to make the final count. The Nationals have 23.5% of the primary vote to One Nation’s 21.6%, but by applying Senate preference flows from 2016 to allocate the minor parties, I get this narrowing to 27.1% to 26.3%. If nothing else, One Nation making it to second will provide us with hard data on how Coalition preferences divide between Labor and One Nation, a circumstance that has never arisen before at a federal election. The result in the seat of Mirani at the Queensland election in 2017 suggests it should be a bit short of 80%. If so, Fitzgibbon should emerge with a winning margin of about 2%, compared with his 3.0% lead in the Labor-versus-National count.

As discussed here last week, I feel pretty sure Labor’s second Senate candidate in Queensland will be pipped to the last seat by the Greens, though God knows I’ve been surprised before. That will mean three seats for the Coalition and one apiece for Labor, One Nation and the Greens. We probably won’t know the answer for about a fortnight, when the data entry should be completed and the button pressed.

There are other questions we’re still a while away from knowing the answer to, like the final national two-party preferred vote. All that can be said with certainty at this point is that it will be nowhere near what the polls were saying, but the most likely result is around 52-48 to the Coalition. The AEC’s current count says 51.6-48.4, but this doesn’t mean much because it excludes 15 seats in which the two-candidate counts are “non-classic”, i.e. not between the Coalition and Labor. Only when separate Coalition-versus-Labor counts are completed for those seats will we have a definitive result.

We will also have to wait until them for a definitive answer on exactly how many United Australia Party and One Nation preferences flowed to the Coalition. This has been a contentious question for the past year, since pollsters recognised recent federal election results were unlikely to provide a reliable guide to how they would flow this time, as per their usual practice. As Kevin Bonham discusses at length, this was one of many questions on which certain pollsters exhibited an unbecoming lack of transparency. Nonetheless, their decision to load up the Coalition on preferences from these parties has been more than vindicated, notwithstanding my earlier skepticism that the split would be as much as the 60-40 used for both parties by Newspoll.

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.

866 comments on “Tidying up”

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  1. Lucky Creed,

    I am slowly grinding through all 151 seats and I am noting not insignificant swings against Labor in the same greater western Sydney seats that voted against gay marriage in the plebicite, that is why the PI vote has suddenly interested me.I am trying to keep an open mind and look at the election result from a number of angles.

    It will be really interesting to hear what you come up with. We still not know why the polls were wrong, but a demographic that suddenly and unexpectedly swung coalition could explain it. Some of the anti-safe schools, if people believed it, could definitely have swayed votes in communities that voted No to marriage equality.

  2. @ Douglas and Milko – I don’t have the spare time the skills or the software to analyse it in forensic detail but I still want to have a decent peek seat by seat and in places I know booth by booth.

    I used to coach Rugby League I have had a fair bit to do with the pacific Islander community and while they are not homogeneous, far from it, the Israel Falou view of things is pretty mainstream within this community.In his dispute with the ARU I have no doubt where the pi communities stands.

  3. Well, Mr Falou and his like-minded group have found out that we have laws about hate-speech and that religious dogma is not a defence. It may come as a shock, but halos do not give carte-blanche for targetting groups for hate, in this neck of the woods. =

  4. Just as a thought experiment…

    Take a Muslim man. Get him to express an opinion stating that, for example, all Christians deserve immediate death (his genuinely held religious belief, based on his interpretation of the Koran).

    See how long either he, his religious beliefs – or the claims he is entitled to them on the basis of religious freedom – last.

  5. Lucky Creed,

    I used to coach Rugby League I have had a fair bit to do with the pacific Islander community and while they are not homogeneous, far from it, the Israel Falou view of things is pretty mainstream within this community.In his dispute with the ARU I have no doubt where the pi communities stands.

    I think that what you say makes sense. We have a loot of Cook / Solomon Islanders where I am in the inner city, but they are a different population. they seem very live and let live, and go to the local (very broad-minded) Uniting Church. But of course, I only know a small subset.

    I was also concerned to hear that Israel Folau’s father told him he would go to Hell if he retracted his tweets. I worry that the poor guy was used by his religious community.

    I would also say that the Folau issue playing out in the full glare of the election campaign cost Labor votes in swinging suburban seats it was trying to win. Especially at the same time these communities were being bombarded with literature that said their kids would have to learn about explicit sex, and be told they could wear dresses to school, among other outright lies.

  6. Lucky Creed is onto something important and while it is easy to be dismissed by those who disagree but migrant communities are not progressive in the Liberal sense, many of them are socially conservative so while I supported the gay marriage vote and agree with Foleu’s sacking but I also know that the ALP runs the risk of seeing a large number of its traditional heartland areas go towards the LNP. That doesn’t mean the LNP will be winning seats like Calwel and Watson anytime soon but the ALP needs to be watchful and remain active or risk seeing support drift away.

  7. Just lost a wordy post due to computer malfunction. In the meantime MB, your post says part of what I Wass going to say, so maybe it has worked out well.

    I will try again below!

  8. So, today my computer has been difficult, and I had half an hour stuck at work while trying to update it to fix the problem. In the non- computer 1/2 hour I checked twitter on my phone.

    Every grouping on Twitter has a strong conviction they know why Labor lost. They all have different reasons, which I think is the point. Labor was probably fighting on too many fronts.

    There were enormous expectations placed on Labor from March this year, when the opinion polls suggested a Labor win of some sort, and there are now a lot of angry, disappointed, disillusioned and upset people on Twitter, as well as here of course.

    So, what does the Twittersphere think lost Labor the election? The order of points below does not represent my inference about how important each cause. is – I honestly have NFI.

    1) Labor alienated the Religious communities of Australia by
    * Going to the electorate with a Women’s reproductive health package that included the right of Women to see terminations in most public hospitals.
    * Labor did not provide support for Israel Folau, a worker sacked by his bosses for his religious opinions.
    * Labor were subject to a smear campaign by a small group of religious nutters where were happy to lie, and say that Labor had an extreme same-sex agenda, and would force boys to wear dresses, and submit all children to graphic and explicit sexual education lessons. And of course, they were going to “bend the gender” of your kids!

    What can Labor do to counter this?
    *Nothing in the Pentecostal space – they are rabidly right wing on social issues. Ditto Mormans.
    *Maybe go after the Anglicans, Catholics and Muslims who have a strong commitment to social justice informed by their religion. They need to change about 5% of minds, but have some hopefully useful links into these communities.
    * The Uniting church people already vote 1 Green / 2 Labor
    * baptists, Hindu and Buddhist people, I have no good information about. But I do know my Chinese Buddhist and Indian Buddhist friends were *VERY* upset by the Oz invasion of Iraq in 2004. So was I for that matter!

    2) Labor did not promise to “raise the rate”, so the unemployed and the disabled, and their family, friends and supporters voted One Nation, and followed their how to vote card, parking their vote eventually with the Liberals.

    * I got his from Duncan Storrar and followers on Twitter. I fear there is some truth in it.
    * The Australian Unemployed Workers Union campaigned pretty hard agains Labor, and so this also suggests there is some truth in Duncan’s opinion.

    What can Labor do?

    *I, and quite a few others on PB expected Shorten and the ALP to announce something like a $20 – $40 per fortnight increase in the rate of the dole, in anticipation that a review would find that the rate was unfair. they could also have used the backing of ACOSS and even the Australian Business Council to sell this.

    * Is there a negative? Mexican Beemer suggested that a lot of people who voted Liberal were concerned that whatever Labor said, they were going to take THEIR taxes, and just give them to dole bludgers.

    3) Labor were seen to change the rules on retirement investment after people had already sorted out their retirement income streams. They created a vocal bunch of losers from the changes. This fed into a scare campaign which meant that are large number of pensioners voted Coalition, because they did not get the subtleties.

    What can Labor do?

    Come back next time with a policy that Grandfather’s the bloody tax lurk. It will leave Labor with less of a war chest to announce reforms, such as that to early childhood education in Australia, but like John Howard with the GST, you need to be in government first before you can argue for the big reforms.

    4) Labor were seen to be in the pocket of evil union bosses.
    What can Labor do?
    * nothing. If people are scared by the phrase “Union Bosses” they were always going to vote Coalition.

    What can the Unions do?
    *Emphasis the good that they do, particularly in protecting workers from disruptive management. Use case studies, like in the “Your rights at Work Campaign”. As someone here suggested, the Union “Change the rules” campaign was formulated assuming a Labor win, to put pressure on Labor to listen to the Union movement. See problems with opinion polling.

    5) Labor should have come out and said they opposed ADANI, and would use every government mechanism available to stop it. They would be seen to be actually standing for something, and so a “lot of people” would the have voted for them.

    What can Labor do?

    * Decide on a coherent position on coal and other mining, and get it out there.
    * do not let the electorate think that you think all mining is bad.
    * Focus on supporting the renewable industry.
    * hard as it is, ignore the Greens in this space and try and turn the conversation to investment in renewables, and the important part that mining plays in this.

    6) Labor was the subject of a significant number of smear campaigns that went viral. They were massively outspent, and the media, apart from the Guardian, spoke with a single voice: “Do not vote Labor”.

    * Yes, all correct.

    What can Labor do?

    * This is crucial: Get Government! The media then at least needs to take some notice of you.
    * Conduct the good old root and branch review into what went wrong. Ask for funding donations, and donations of time and expertise to do it.
    * Work out why the polls got it wrong – and in this case, listen to Kevin Bonham and William, NOT Nate Silver. I have a lot of time for Sliver, but in this case I think he does not understand the ground in Australia.
    * talk to people like Stantic (cannot remember first name) from Griffith University, to see how to include social media into deciding campaign strategies.
    * find a lot more money. A lot of people were very distraught about the result of this election. If they felt that Labor was putting in money, in a transparent way, into understanding the social media landscape for good rather than evil, then I do think that people would give generously. Also, you can do a lot with a large number of small donations.
    * Further to the above, publish the results in peer-reviewed journals if possible, and get media organisations like the Guardian interested in the results, pre-publication.

    7) Labor should have worked more closely with the Greens.

    What can Labor do?
    * The Greens and Labor are now like a couple who should have got divorced in 2010, but keep trying to work together for the “sake of the children people”.
    * labor has to realise that they cannot unilaterally fix this relationship, and should try to differentiate themselves from the Greens: Labor wants mining to support renewables – it does not want to shut all mining down.
    * Labor and the Greens get on very well on the ground in electorates. Maybe send us ground level plebs to talk to each other to work out what we have in common and go from there.
    * Labor and the Greens have a big problem – to grow, in the past, the Greens need to take votes from Labor. However, the Greens are now making good progressive in well-heeled traditional Liberal seats such as Kooyong. Is there some way of getting a quiet non-aggression pact on a seat by seat basis?

  9. “Nothing in the Pentecostal space “<—- left leaning pentecostal here

    I'm not saying give us disproportionate attention, but not reaching out to a large part of the electorate is bad strategy if nothing else

  10. Douglas and Milko

    A clarification, One one level I did say the ALP was seen as being all about higher taxes and on the other hand I wrote the other day about how the social welfare system is perceived has favoring murdering thugs, instead of helping those who actually need help, adding to that the ALP had a policy of offering a payrise to a group of workers on $25 an hour. If anything I agree more with your earlier point regarding the ALP disappointing many people when they didn’t announce a rise to payments, it differently dulled my support for Bill Shorten. I hadn’t thought about the abortion in public hospitals policy but I guess that would feed into a possible reason why more socially conservative areas moved against the ALP. In terms of how to combat that, I agree Albo could use his catholic faith but then again so could have Shorten.

  11. Hi Graham,

    “Nothing in the Pentecostal space “<—- left leaning pentecostal here

    I'm not saying give us disproportionate attention, but not reaching out to a large part of the electorate is bad strategy if nothing else

    That is absolutely fantastic feedback, and knowing this, there is yet another bit of a consensus possible. I was very impressed with the support the Pentecostal movement provided for the 2 members of the Bali 9 executed in Indonesia, and could definitely see a social gospel wing to the church.

    I was somewhat unfortunate in numbering Pentecostal adherents among my colleagues and family in the early 1980s, in the Penrith NSW area. Their opinions were very right-wing: support for South African white people against sanctions, wanting to know why if we put sanctions on South Africa for their treatment of blacks, we did not apply the same sanctions to Pakistan for their treatment of women, letterboxing and handing out for Fred Nile, convinced that rock music was the work of the devil.

    I suspect that as the Pentecostal church has grown, it has become a broader church

  12. MB,

    If anything I agree more with your earlier point regarding the ALP disappointing many people when they didn’t announce a rise to payments, it differently dulled my support for Bill Shorten.

    Completely agree with this – I was bitterly disappointed when no immediate help was given to the unemployed workers – because that is what people on the dole actually are, and have always been.

    Also, these are complex issues, and I apologise if I took one comment you made and suggested that represented your position.

  13. Sitting here in a sunny evening in Bonn, listening to all the barbecues and outdoor gatherings around me, now that summer has finally arrived.

    Totally lovely!

    Also, writing yet another 100 page grant application, which explains why I am contributing so much to PB!

    I think it gives me time to think about the arguments I use when pleading for money.

  14. Douglas and Milko
    That’s okay, the comment about how the system is perceived to help murdering thugs more than those that really need the help was more a reaction to the recent tragic murder of a young lady who appears to have fallen through the cracks while around the sametime there was reports of Milat receiving medical care for his terminal illness or the times we see people like Adrian Bailey receiving chance after chance.

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