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. Caf, I should go back to what has driven me to place this election result in its historical context. I reject this was an “unloseable election for Labor” or a “miracle win for Scott Morrison”. It only looked that way because we had allowed our expectations of the result to be primed exclusively by Labor’s three-year uninterrupted lead in the polls. But looked at from a broader historical perspective, a Coalition win was the much more expected result. So, I think people are giving Morrison far too much credit, and Shorten far too much blame, for the outcome. That’s where I’m coming from.

  2. Yesterday. No mention of this by the govt?

    SBS News
    @SBSNews

    A refugee on Manus Island has set himself on fire, marking the latest in a rapidly rising number of suicide and self-harm attempts at the former site of the Australian-run detention centre

  3. Michael A @ #1202 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:20 pm

    Caf, I should go back to what has driven me to place this election result in its historical context. I reject this was an “unloseable election for Labor” or a “miracle win for Scott Morrison”. It only looked that way because we had allowed our expectations of the result to be primed exclusively by Labor’s three-year uninterrupted lead in the polls. But looked at from a broader historical perspective, a Coalition win was the much more expected result. So, I think people are giving Morrison far too much credit, and Shorten far too much blame, for the outcome. That’s where I’m coming from.

    6 yrs of incompetence and chaos with 3 different PMs.

    It most definitely WAS an unloseable election for Labor.

  4. I ignored how historically significant a Coalition loss after just two terms, in an economy with unemployment, inflation and interest rates all lower than three years previously, would have been.

    It’ll happen someday, and it won’t be a surprise when it does. It could take a while, just because the confluence of those 4 conditions (Coalition seeking third term coinciding with unemployment, inflation and interest rates all lower than at previous election) will be a fairly rare event in the first place.

  5. The next change of government will be from the Coalition to the Greens.
    We know this because the Greens have better policies, better people and superior campaign tactics to Labor.
    The gap between 10% of the primary and 51% of the 2PP after the first 27 years of the Greens Party is a mere bagatelle.

  6. ‘lizzie says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Boerwar

    Dutton to Pezzullo: Don’t worry about it, mate. He’s too weak to follow it up.’

    Dutton to Dutton on Morrison,’You’ll keep!’

  7. CFMEU leader John Setka and his wife Emma Walters have broken their silence, accusing critics of “dirty ALP politics” amid moves by leader Anthony Albanese to expel him from the Labor Party.

    The defiant union leader has also warned the construction union that he will not stand down – because he was elected by members.

    Mr Albanese said on Tuesday he would move to have Mr Setka expelled, following reports in Nine newspapers that he had said Australian men had fewer rights in family violence matters because of Rosie Batty, whose son Luke was murdered by his father in 2014.

    “People are making up lies about what I said. Every time I see Rosie Batty I want to give her a hug,” Mr Setka told The New Daily.

    “I would rather be called corrupt. It’s not even an exaggeration of what I said. It’s an outright lie.

    “I’ve got people portraying me as a Neanderthal.

    “This is dirty politics and this wrong. I’ve got the utmost respect for Rosie Batty. It’s sickening to me. If Albo wants to expel me for that? Please.”

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/06/11/john-setka-emma-walters/

  8. Rex, voters don’t have a strong history of holding forcible changes of PM against a government. Only counting terms in which a PM was ousted since WW2, the score is 3-2 in favour of the incumbent:

    1972 McMahon defeated
    1993 Keating returned
    2010 Gillard returned
    2013 Rudd defeated
    2016 Turnbull returned

    Why would you expect a removal of Turnbull to make the next election unwinnable for his successor, given that record?

  9. The beauty of Di Natale is that says nothing and does nothing but just look at the way he is keeping Labor to account!
    For example, a human being sets himself alight and it is up to Labor to explain why they failed this human being!
    A wedge of political pie for election dessert, Mr Albanese?

  10. in an economy with unemployment, inflation and interest rates all lower than three years previously

    Some of those stats probably need to be challenged.

    Unemployment may be “lower” in terms of “people who want a job and have (any kind of) job”. But what about underemployment/the number of people who want full-time employment but can only get part-time or casual? Or the number of people unable to make ends meet despite having full-time employment? Or the number of people forced to take multiple jobs in order to get either something like full-time hours or enough money to pay the bills?

    I suspect we’re going backwards on pretty much all of those. What good is “lower unemployment” if the number of people in financial stress is growing due to a combination of underemployment, slow wage growth, and inflation?

  11. Michael A @ #1215 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:33 pm

    Rex, voters don’t have a strong history of holding forcible changes of PM against a government. Only counting terms in which a PM was ousted since WW2, the score is 3-2 in favour of the incumbent:

    1972 McMahon defeated
    1993 Keating returned
    2010 Gillard returned
    2013 Rudd defeated
    2016 Turnbull returned

    Why would you expect a removal of Turnbull to make the next election unwinnable for his successor, given that record?

    6 yrs of incompetence and chaos. No excuses for Labor.

  12. $600 million of taxpayer funds or taxpayer subsidized funds buys you a lot of lies.
    The lies were good. No doubt about that.
    Shorten was a rapist. Labor were baby murderers. Labor was intending to settle a muslim family next door. Labor was going to add a trillion to your taxes. Labor was going to institute death duties. Labor was going to force you into electric utes. Labor was going to allow Adani to operate. Labor was a Greens front. Labor was a neo Liberal front. Labor was going to bugger up a strong economy. Labor was going to destroy jobs. Labor was going to wreck the economy by going too far on climate change. Labor was going to wreck the economy by not going far enough on climate change.
    Everyone was having a go at the lying. Everyone.
    The $600 million made sure that the lies reached everyone. Dozens and dozens of times.

  13. After six years of chaotic Coalition politics and six years of increasing climate chaos the Greens vote surged under the canny leadership of Can Do Di Natale.
    It was a great outcome for the Greens Party.
    Only 41% 2PP of winning government but let’s see what the next 27 years brings with it.
    Patience, my Greens friends, is a virtue.

  14. caf says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    “It’ll happen someday…”
    —————————————

    Well, I guess all things happen eventually given enough time, but I doubt I’ll even remember this discussion when it does. In the meantime, Labor is still 0 from 6 defeating two-term conservative governments in Australian Federal elections. You could say Labor were due one this time, I suppose!

  15. Rex Douglas says:
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    “6 yrs of incompetence and chaos. No excuses for Labor.”
    —————————————

    People forget the accident-prone Howard Government circa 1996-2001. They were absolutely crap at that time. Nobody in early 2001 thought they would still be the government that Christmas.

    I agree with you about the idiocy of this current government, but 51.5% of Australians haven’t gotten around yet to agreeing with us. And history suggests it was still one term too early for them in May this year. Just like every other time in our federal history. Is it wrong to point that out, as a consideration to throw into the mix?

  16. C@tmomma @ #1231 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:58 pm

    Rex Douglas @ #1211 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:32 pm

    Boerwar @ #1207 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:27 pm

    A human being set himself on fire.
    How good is that?

    Is there a statement from KK about this ..?

    Well there certainly isn’t one from the Minister in charge of these people. So your point is?

    His point is it’s all the Green’s fault, or something. Or maybe it’s Labor’s fault?

    Actually, I think that it’s your fault for expecting a point.

  17. There is absolutely no guarantee at all that our democracy will ever recover from the combined anti-democratic forces deployed by the rich folks during the past election.
    No guarantee at all.

  18. lizzie @ #1200 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:18 pm

    The PM has “taken Ita’s concerns on board”.
    Well, whoopy-do.

    And well may you “whoopy-do”.

    A close look at the poop deck of the vessel pictured below will show Ms. Ita’s concerns stowed carefully on the poop deck as the good ship “Circumnavigate” prepares to emulate Cap’n Hook’s cruise to capture the elusive crocodile enraged by Peter Darling. — Quite a futile endeavour as the dude with the hat has this particular Crocodylinae chained in his chook house ready to repel borders* from Southern Climes.

    ⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⛵⛵⛵⛵⛵⛵⛵⛵

    *

    Goodnight all. 📺💤💤

  19. The defiant union leader has also warned the construction union that he will not stand down – because he was elected by members.

    Isn’t the corollary of this that he can be unelected by those same members? I note in the article he says if members want him to go he’d step down tomorrow. Perhaps the solution to this is for the union to hold a ballot of its members and see just how many are happy for him to remain their spokesperson.

  20. Setka and his wife are not the Waltons

    [On Boxing Day 2018, Ms Walters was arrested for drink-driving, with the couple’s children in the car.]

  21. lizzie @ #1215 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:34 pm

    Might be a good idea for people interested to read the whole report above. Setka says he was taken out of context.

    I get that. However, the words were said, in whatever context.

    However, Mr Setka conceded he did say – in a union meeting – that lawyers had told him laws had been too skewed against women in the past and were now – in the wake of the Victorian royal commission into family violence and Ms Batty’s campaigns – skewed against men. But he insisted this was not a criticism of Ms Batty.

    There’s also the way he spoke to a woman and harassed her over the phone and a court case which is pending about this, plus the domestic violence incident with his wife. To me it goes to a pattern of behaviour that is unbecoming of a leader in the labour movement.

    Plus, the laws are NOT skewed against men now. Merely that an imbalance against women has been partly rectified. An imbalance that occurred during John Howard’s reign and his pandering to the Mens Movement.

  22. Bernard Keane in today’s Crikey.

    We’re shallow, here in Australia. There are only 25 million of us, our media is thin, our academia poor due to relentless funding cuts, our lawyers mercenary, we have few potent civil society groups and few rights protections. Here, the powerful can act with a freedom and lack of scrutiny that the influential in other countries could only envy. Threaten that power or lack of scrutiny, however, and they’ll do whatever it takes to shut you down.

    That shallowness is also why much — probably most — of the commentary, complaints and advocacy around the AFP’s raids last week missed the point — especially the demands for special protections for the media. The real story about the raids is how power is used in Australia by vested interests — in this case, the security services and their political masters — for their own benefit. Any rational assessment of what happened must start from the basis that that group — security officials, like Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty, Peter Dutton, the AFP itself — is not some disinterested group pursuing what it sees as the national interest, but a vested interest that is particularly well placed to manipulate the system of power in Australia for its own purposes — those purposes being to protect itself from scrutiny and subject anyone who threatens that to exemplary punishment. If the security establishment was ever about the national interest, it has long since turned into something far more self-serving, like an immune system that eventually starts attacking its host.

  23. adrian @ #1231 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 5:01 pm

    C@tmomma @ #1231 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:58 pm

    Rex Douglas @ #1211 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:32 pm

    Boerwar @ #1207 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 4:27 pm

    A human being set himself on fire.
    How good is that?

    Is there a statement from KK about this ..?

    Well there certainly isn’t one from the Minister in charge of these people. So your point is?

    His point is it’s all the Green’s fault, or something. Or maybe it’s Labor’s fault?

    Actually, I think that it’s your fault for expecting a point.

    Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment for expecting one. Waiting for one is like waiting for Godot. 🙂

  24. C@t

    I understand the points you’re making. However, I have been fascinated to watch Jane Norman and the ABC, by judicious editing, put over Unions bad, construction Unions worse, and enable Morrison to add wtte ‘And there are many more where Setka comes from’. Job done.

  25. Some history on Setka. (via today’s Crikey email)

    In 2012, Setka was found guilty of intimidation against Grocon workers at a construction site in Melbourne’s CBD. Federal Court Justice Tracey found a group of protestors, led by Setka and other union officials, hurled abuse and threats against the workers, including “scabs”, “dogs”, “rats”, “you will die”, and “I’m going to kill your family”.

    Even as CFMMEU Assistant State Secretary in 2010, he was fined $6000 by the Federal Magistrates Court after engaging in “highly reprehensible behaviour” at an ANZ Docklands construction site in response to managers’ reluctance to take workplace safety seriously. He allegedly screamed at the Bovis Lendlease construction manager and general foreman, threatening that “this job’s a f–king deathtrap and a disgrace. If you kill anyone on this job, I’m going to quit my f–king job and get you”. Back in 2009, Setka faced five charges — including two of assault and two of obstructing and intimidating a Commonwealth public official from the Australian Building and Construction Commission. According to reports, Setka headbutted a building commission inspector.

    This year alone, Setka has faced a significant number of criminal charges for alleged violent offences completely unrelated to his industrial activism, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. They included charges of recklessly causing injury to a woman back in July 2017. He also appeared in court in January, with Westgate Family Violence Investigations Unit listed as the prosecuting agency.

  26. There is also Setka’s failed defamation suit against Abbott which he took to the High Court on procedural matters and lost.

    A private person losing a case in the High Court normally faces financial oblivion. Who paid his legal fees?

  27. Someone had to do it 😀

    Labor had by far and away the most courageous set of policies and were by far and away the best sellers of those policies: Shorten, Bowen and Burke were all well above all Liberal’s spokespersons.
    After 118 years, Labor policies are well-honed, well-thought out, fully costed and fully funded.
    Labor policy explanations were clear.
    The Labor MPs doing the explaining were lucid, persuasive and generally charismatic.
    After 118 years of this, 67% of the public still got it wrong.
    What is wrong with them?

  28. Albo has gone where Bill would never have gone. He had no choice. If he had walked past, the ALP would never have recovered. Rosie Batty is a remarkable real life hero.
    It simply reminds voters of Shortens union background. And part of the reason they said ‘ no thanks’ on May 18.

  29. Dio
    I see that you are beginning to understand the Greens frame.
    Well done.
    You are 100% right, of course.
    Labor just has to get a leader who is not a rapist and Labor just has to stop murdering babies and levying death taxes.

  30. Confessions @ #1238 Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 – 5:06 pm

    The defiant union leader has also warned the construction union that he will not stand down – because he was elected by members.

    Isn’t the corollary of this that he can be unelected by those same members? I note in the article he says if members want him to go he’d step down tomorrow. Perhaps the solution to this is for the union to hold a ballot of its members and see just how many are happy for him to remain their spokesperson.

    The problem is finding a candidate with the guts to run against him.

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