Election plus three weeks

A look at how the religious vote might have helped Scott Morrison to victory, plus some analysis of turnout and the rate of informal voting.

I had a paywalled Crikey article on Friday on the religion factor in the election result, drawing on results of the Australian National University’s Australian Election Study survey. Among other things, it had this to say:

The results from the 2016 survey provide some support for the notion, popular on the right of the Liberal Party, that Malcolm Turnbull brought the government to the brink of defeat by losing religious voters, who appear to have flocked back to the party under Morrison. Notably, the fact that non-religious voters trusted Turnbull a lot more than they did Abbott did not translate into extra votes for the Coalition, whereas a two-party swing to Labor of 7% was recorded among the religiously observant.

The charts below expand upon the survey data featured in the article, showing how Labor’s two-party preferred has compared over the years between those who attend religious services several times a year or more (“often”), those who do so less frequently (“sometimes”), and those who don’t do it at all (“never”).

Some other post-election observations:

Rosie Lewis of The Australian reports the looming Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the election will examine the three-week pre-polling period and the extent of Clive Palmer’s campaign spending. There is not, it would seem, any appetite to explore the debilitating phenomenon of fake news proliferating on social media, for which Australia arguably experienced a watershed moment during the campaign through claims Labor had a policy to introduce a “death tax”. This is explored in depth today in a report in The Guardian and an accompanying opinion piece by Lenore Taylor. That said, not all of the mendacity about death taxes was subterranean, as demonstrated by this official Liberal Party advertisement.

• As best as I can tell, all votes for the House of Representatives have been counted now. There was a fall in the official turnout rate (UPDATE: No, actually — it’s since risen to 91.9%, up from 91.0% in 2016), which, together with the fact that not all votes had been counted at the time, gave rise to a regrettable article in the Age-Herald last week. However, as Ben Raue at the Tally Room explores in depth, the turnout rate reflects the greater coverage of the electoral roll owing to the Australian Electoral Commission’s direct enrolment procedures. This appears to have succeeded to some extent in increasing the effective participation rate, namely votes cast as a proportion of the eligible population rather than those actually enrolled, which by Raue’s reckoning tracked up from 80.0% in 2010 to 83.2% – an enviable result by international standards. However, it has also means a larger share of the non-voting population is now on the roll rather than off it, and hence required to bluff their way out of a fine for not voting.

• The rate of informal voting increased from 5.0% to 5.5%, but those seeking to tie this to an outbreak of apathy are probably thinking too hard. Antony Green notes the shift was peculiar to New South Wales, and puts this down to the proximity of a state election there, maximising confusion arising from its system of optional preferential voting. The real outlier in informal voting rates of recent times was the low level recorded in 2007, which among other things causes me to wonder if there might be an inverse relationship between the informal voting rate and the level of enthusiasm for Labor.

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.

1,359 comments on “Election plus three weeks”

  1. Don’t forget everyone, today is Barrie Cassidy’s last day on Insiders, and coming at the end of the week of the media raids it should be a doozy.

  2. Mr Morrison’s generous salary is about seven times the national wage, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates to be about $1600 per week.

    I’m not questioning the rationale behind pollies’ pay, just wondering how Tony Abbott seemed to find himself in such financial difficulties. 😉

  3. Insiders panel today. I wonder if Atkins will say why he is leaving the Courier Mail.

    Insiders ABCVerified account@InsidersABC
    Jun 6
    This Sunday on @barriecassidy’s final Sunday morning on #Insiders he’ll be joined by @farrm51 @KarenMMiddleton and @dwabriz #auspol

  4. Morning all. Lizzie, what if Abbott was as good at running his personal finances as he was with the nations? It would explain both problems.

  5. Socrates

    My thoughts exactly. He lived off the tax payer for decades.
    It was said that he took every opportunity for freebies. I don’t understand it.

  6. Hugh Riminton

    I don’t want to feed anyone’s cynicism but who else noticed that media raids are for prime time, the dropping of investigations into government leaks is saved for late Friday before a long weekend?

  7. lizzie @ #2 Sunday, June 9th, 2019 – 7:07 am

    Mr Morrison’s generous salary is about seven times the national wage, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates to be about $1600 per week.

    I’m not questioning the rationale behind pollies’ pay, just wondering how Tony Abbott seemed to find himself in such financial difficulties. 😉

    I could tell you but Mr Bowe would become very irate I think. Someone who I trust implicitly and who knows the story told me many years ago.

  8. The low bar for measuring the success of Trump’s overseas trips.

    Despite all of these faux pas, offenses, inanities and improprieties, the trip was, by Trump’s debased terms, a relative success. (Meaning: He didn’t throw food at the queen or moon the prince of Wales.) He said so himself. Or rather, he quoted Sean Hannity saying so: “The President has received glowing reviews from the British Media.” Of course, that was another lie: the British media coverage was scathing and contemptuous.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/07/trumps-behavior-europe-was-unpresidented-he-isnt-getting-any-better/?utm_term=.526241ee0f62

  9. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Jackie Maley suggests here that the AFP raids were an indication of the Morrison government being emboldened and exploiting its power. She declares that when an emboldened government that rejects transparency, collides with the erosion of public confidence in democracy, freedoms will die.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/afp-raids-add-to-picture-of-a-morrison-government-emboldened-20190607-p51vkq.html
    David McBride explains what h leaked documents to the ABC.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/my-duty-was-to-stand-and-be-counted-why-i-leaked-to-the-abc-20190608-p51vte.html
    Eryk Bagshaw tells us how Rex Patrick is quite fired up about the government’s actions to subdue the media. He wants action.
    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/senator-lashes-attempt-to-shut-down-media-and-whistleblowers-20190608-p51vts.html
    Peter Greste says that to protect press freedom, we need more public outrage – and an overhaul of our laws.
    https://theconversation.com/to-protect-press-freedom-we-need-more-public-outrage-and-an-overhaul-of-our-laws-118457
    Christopher Knaus writes that Whistleblowers who revealed government wrongdoing already face jail and this week’s raids will only deter others from coming forward
    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/08/it-sends-shockwaves-through-your-life-how-the-media-raids-will-silence-whistleblowers
    Correspondence obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age shows shadow attorney-general Mark Drefyfus wrote to Malcolm Turnbull in 2018 to urge the then prime minister to convene an investigation into how secret government documents were leaked to senior News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6206765/correspondence-shows-labor-demanded-an-investigation-into-classified-annika-smethurst-leak/?cs=14350
    Much has been said about Scott Morrison’s recent election victory but less has been said about how similar it was to the victories of Donald Trump and the Brexit movement, writes Tom Orren.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/how-the-liberals-won-the-unwinnable-election,12778
    Michaela Whitbourn reports that Albanese is distancing himself from the toxic John Setka.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/no-relationship-albanese-distances-himself-from-cfmmeu-s-john-setka-20190608-p51vst.html
    Trains reaching Geelong within 35 minutes and Ballarat within 45 minutes would be built under a landmark proposal seeking to cut through political wrangling and finally make fast country commutes a reality.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/regions-unite-on-fast-train-strategy-20190608-p51vsd.html
    John Wren takes a look at the visit to Sydney by the Chinese Navy, the AFP raids against journalists and RBA interest rate cuts.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/wrens-week-the-chinese-navy-afp-raids-and-interest-rate-cuts,12786
    Julie Szego tries to understand the essence of the Pell case.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/in-search-of-a-complete-picture-in-the-pell-case-20190607-p51vlu.html
    Michael Gove was battling to keep his campaign for the Tory leadership alive on Saturday night as he faced accusations of hypocrisy from drug experts and politicians, after admitting he had taken cocaine when working as a young journalist.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/08/michael-gove-branded-hypocrite-after-admitting-using-cocaine
    The world’s greatest respecter od science, Donald Trump, has excelled himself this time!
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/trump-says-the-moon-is-mars-on-a-confusing-day-for-space-travel-20190608-p51vtl.html
    Nick Miller tells us how, with the choice of jurisdiction for the court case, the odds are stacked well and truly against Assange.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/you-don-t-stand-a-chance-how-the-press-freedom-argument-will-go-for-assange-20190607-p51vfi.html
    I am giving today’s nomination for “Arseholes of the Week” to the NSW town of Mullumbimby.
    https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/how-one-hippie-town-became-the-anti-vaxxer-capital-of-australia-20190603-p51txe.html

    Cartoon Corner

    A few from Matt Golding.



    And from Mark David.


    At the ABC with Mark Zanetti.

    A concerning one from Glen Le Lievre.

    From the US



  10. I happen to know some Religious Conservatives and Right-Wing Populist types (some are both) online and offline. I can tell you that Malcolm Turnbull was loathed just as much as Bill Shorten. So I don’t think Peter Dutton was making an empty boast that he would have lost his seat, if Malcolm Turnbull was still Liberal leader.

    Scott Morrison on the other hand is respected but not liked by the right-wing populists and loved by the Religious Conservatives (since he is considered one of their own).

  11. On MPs wages.

    I think all public jobs should be paid as multiple (or fraction) of the national median wage.

    Then their wages will rise, or fall, automatically. If they want a pay rise they will have to work to raise wages for everyone.

    As examples a back bencher could have a wage of twice the median wage (plus a generous but fully accountable expenses allowance). A Minister say three times and PM maybe four times. 🙂

  12. C@t

    On Abbott. So frustrating to a curious voter who wants to understand people. Lies about Labor can run around unimpeded, but the character of someone who has gone a long way to ruining Australia’s future must remain ‘pure’.

  13. lizzie @ #15 Sunday, June 9th, 2019 – 7:59 am

    C@t

    On Abbott. So frustrating to a curious voter who wants to understand people. Lies about Labor can run around unimpeded, but the character of someone who has gone a long way to ruining Australia’s future must remain ‘pure’.

    I know. However, I really don’t think it would be fair on Abbott the private citizen to have it out in public.

  14. Correspondence obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age shows shadow attorney-general Mark Drefyfus wrote to Malcolm Turnbull in 2018 to urge the then prime minister to convene an investigation into how secret government documents were leaked to senior News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst.
    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6206765/correspondence-shows-labor-demanded-an-investigation-into-classified-annika-smethurst-leak/?cs=14350

    This is Fake News, BK, and Mark Dreyfus said as much on Twitter yesterday as he rebuked Bevan Shields for writing it:

    Mark Dreyfus
    @markdreyfusQCMP
    ·
    21h
    1. Labor did not refer the matter to the AFP, nor ask the government to do so. 2. As is clear from the letter, my concern was with the internal chaos of the Turnbull leadership threatening good government. 3. This is already on public record (link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-29/labor-blames-government-for-security-leak/9708594) abc.net.au/news/2018-04-2…

    Is it possible for you to remove it from the Dawn Patrol, BK? We don’t need to be spreading real Fake News around!

  15. I’m starting to think that Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff might be the fly in Scott Morrison’s Senate ointment.
    C@t
    I spent 30 minutes or so with Griff last year at one of Rebekha Sharkie’s community meetings and found him to be quite impressive, basing his positions on a lot of research.

  16. The Independent Australia article from BK’s morning wrap has this from which the writer concludes means conservative voters are more easily scared and therefore more easily manipulated.

    As we have seen, conservatives are naturally opposed to change. Of course, some are more opposed to it than others but some are downright frightened of it. The latter are the best ones to target.

    Conservatives often claim to be the backbone of civilisation but, the truth is, they’re actually the ones who hold it back. They have opposed most great reforms or ideas ever proposed, from democracy and the abolition of slavery, to equal rights, the theory of relativity and same-sex marriage.

    To them, change means only one thing, loss, so they prefer civilisation to stay exactly where it is (or, if possible, to return to some previous version). And because they fear change, they will oppose anything that might upset the status quo, which makes them excellent pawns to use in the game of politics.

    Fear of change makes conservatives easy to manipulate.

  17. Nice description of Frydenberg.

    It is time for action, and yet the treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s performance at the press conference announcing the figures does not fill one with confidence.

    Rather than a man with the details of our nearly $2tn economy at his fingertips, he comes across more like a small-town accountant who, after reviewing your work expenses, pauses uncomfortably too long before telling you he thinks they might be tax deductible.

    A week like this brings into very sharp relief the importance of elections. Had the ALP won three weeks ago the narrative would have been about changing the direction of both the economy and emissions. Instead, we are told nothing is wrong and all will be fine.

    And we have three long years before any chance that a different story gets told.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2019/jun/09/coalitions-lies-damned-lies-and-election-winning-strategies?CMP=share_btn_tw

  18. This one small sentence from Max Boot’s WashPo article linked by Confessions this morning shows why Donald Trump is the world’s most evil fucker:

    Climate change doesn’t go “both ways.”

    Donald Trump says Climate Change does ‘go both ways’. And with that simplistic brush-off he has given the Climate Wreckers just the sort of slogan they need to keep repeating like all the parrots in the pet shop to shout down anyone who wants to do anything about Global Warming. It’s just plain evil the way he does that. I hate him with every fibre of my being.

  19. lizzie,
    Like I said yesterday, I think we’re in for another Horror Budget in 2020. Things will go pear-shaped and the Coalition only knows one way to attack an economy in meltdown. With cuts.

  20. I haven’t heard anything much from the welfare lobby. I assume they’re stunned and have retreated to lick their wounds. No matter how many facts they present to this govt, it simply ignores them.

  21. Bongiorno

    What? According to the respected and hugely experienced Paul Kelly the AFP raid were not “intended to intimidate journalists or whistleblowers.” This takes cheerleading for the Liberals to a new level.

  22. lizzie @ #28 Sunday, June 9th, 2019 – 6:47 am

    I haven’t heard anything much from the welfare lobby. I assume they’re stunned and have retreated to lick their wounds. No matter how many facts they present to this govt, it simply ignores them.

    Most agencies have publicly congratulated Ken Wyatt’s appointment to Indigenous Affairs. Other than that, not so much.

  23. Re the Zanetti cartoon. Since when did we have to call “911” in Australia? Does his mentioning “000” break the code of ethics or something?

  24. Ballantyne

    I believe that people who have been reared on American TV have put themselves in danger through this mistake.

  25. The Morrison/Turnbull/Dutton government may have been ‘at arms length’ to the AFP media raids. However, it was the Morrison/Dutton/Turnbull government that GAVE THEM THE POWERS to do it!

  26. Middleton, Atkins and Farr were the 3 original panelists on Insiders, hence they return for Barrie’s final show.

  27. ‘lizzie says:
    Sunday, June 9, 2019 at 8:37 am

    Nice description of Frydenberg.

    It is time for action, and yet the treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s performance at the press conference announcing the figures does not fill one with confidence.’

    Frydenberg has failed at every single thing he has touched to date. Except for gaining personal political power.

  28. Interesting summary by William about the possible effects religious beliefs had in returning Morrison to office. I hope some of those here who seem to believe that religious beliefs are somehow irrelevant to modern day Australia (and deserving only of ridicule) read it and reflect.

    Whereas the Liberals simply lie about their beliefs, professing to hold christian values while implementing policies that make it abundantly clear that they do not, Labor tries to pursue a more nuanced approach on religious issues. But I suppose that will simply result in them being labelled “shifty” by those unfamiliar with Labor history.

    If Labor want to win the next election, they could learn the lesson of the Liberals and simply lie. It seems to be a winning strategy.

  29. A good tweet from Paul Bongiorno.
    “What? According to the respected and hugely experienced Paul Kelly the AFP raid were not “intended to intimidate journalists or whistleblowers.” This takes cheerleading for the Liberals to a new level.”

  30. C@t, just whisper the story about Abbott to a couple of teenagers and it will be all over social media in 48 hours…

  31. The comment on the source of leaks is important because often leaks come from either the minister or his/her office or senior public servants close to the minister and its often done on an informal basis as in it could just be something said in the lift.

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