Federal election plus five weeks

An already strong result for government in the Senate may be about to get even better, as Cory Bernardi eyes the exit. And yet more on the great pollster failure.

I had a paywalled article in Crikey on the conclusion of the Senate election result, which among other things had this to say:

The Coalition went into the election with 31 senators out of 76 and comes out with 35 — and may be about to go one better if there is anything behind suggestions that Cory Bernardi is set to rejoin the Liberal Party. That would leave the government needing the support of only three crossbenchers to win contested votes.

That could be achieved with the two votes of the Centre Alliance plus that of Jacqui Lambie, who is newly restored to the Senate after falling victim to the Section 44 imbroglio in late 2017. Lambie appears to be co-operating closely with the Centre Alliance, having long enjoyed a warm relationship with the party’s founder Nick Xenophon.

Such a voting bloc would relieve the Morrison government of the need to dirty its hands in dealing with One Nation — though it could certainly do that any time the Centre Alliance members felt inspired to take liberal positions on such issues as asylum seekers and expansion of the national security state.

Since then, talk of Cory Bernardi rejoining the Liberal Party has moved on to suggestions he will leave parliament altogether, creating a casual vacancy that would stand to be filled by the Liberal Party. Bernardi announced he would deregister his Australian Conservatives party on Thursday following its failure to make an impression at the election, and told Sky News the next day that it “might be best for me to leave parliament in the next six months”, although he also said he was “unresolved”. Paul Starick of The Advertiser reports that sources on both sides of the SA Liberal Party’s factional divide say the front-runner would be Georgina Downer, daughter of the former Foreign Minister and twice-unsuccessful lower house candidate for Mayo. The party’s Senate tickets usually pair moderate and Right faction members in the top two positions, and Downer would take a place for the Right that was filled in 2016 by Bernardi, with the other incumbent up for re-election in 2022 being moderate-aligned Simon Birmingham.

In other news, Simon Jackman and Luke Mansillo of the University of Sydney have posted slides from a detailed conference presentation on the great opinion poll failure. Once you get past the technical detail on the first few slides, this shows trend measures that attempt to ascertain the true underlying position throughout the parliamentary term, based on both polling and the actual results from both 2016 and 2019. This suggests the Coalition had its nose in front in Malcolm Turnbull’s last months, and that Labor only led by around 51-49 after he was dumped. An improving trend for the Coalition began in December and accelerated during the April-May campaign period. Also included is an analysis of pollster herding effects, which were particularly pronounced for the Coalition primary vote during the campaign period. Labor and Greens primary vote readings were more dispersed, in large part due to Ipsos’s pecularity of having low primary votes for Labor (accurately, as it turned out) and high ones for the Greens (rather less so).

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.

1,716 comments on “Federal election plus five weeks”

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  1. Pegasus @ #1649 Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 – 9:01 pm

    Did Denniss mention the effect of the anti-Adani convoy?

    He said Queensland voters are volatile. One election they will vote for Palascjuk’s ‘No money for Adani’ line, then at the federal election they vote for the mine. He also pointed out that both Labor’s vote in Kennedy, which abuts the mine area, went up, and that The Greens vote in Queensland in the Senate, went up. Which I imagine was down to urban voters voting against Adani. As opposed to the rural and regional voters who strongly opposed the Anti Adani convoy. Who voted for PHON and UAP.

  2. I have seen the claim before that the Coalition only won the 2PP vote in QLD and WA which ignores the fact the Coalition won the NSW 2PP vote by around 51.8 to 48.2.

  3. zoomster @ #1638 Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 – 6:46 pm


    Currently re reading the John Wyndham books. He wiped out the earth’s population in several quite inventive ways!

    Interesting. He’s an author who I’ve promised myself I’ll get around to reading more extensively. One day. In the fullness of time. At the appropriate juncture.

    At the moment the only ones I’ve read are The Day Of The Triffids and The Chrysalids.

  4. Denniss should ask why it was that the voters who moved their vote mostly favoured the Liberals, even if they supported the Liberals via the protest houses. Some votes came to Labor in some places. A larger number of voters left Labor, mostly in seats that had been Labor-held or were marginally Lib-held. Who were these voters? Why did they move?

    We can see the routes taken by these voters. The important question to answer is ‘Why did they move?’

  5. C@tmomma says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    He said Queensland voters are volatile

    He’s clearly wrong about that with respect to voting expression in Queensland, which is reliably positive for the Liberals.

  6. He said Queensland voters are volatile.

    In the lead up to the election Mumble was frequently pointing out that Qld is usually a good state for LNP federally. I think Denniss is wrong on that point.

  7. Also the Coalition increased their 2PP vote in 26 of 30 QLD seats including urban, regional and rural seats. I think the article is a inaccurate summary of particularly complex issues that impacted on the election.

  8. There were swings to the Liberals in all States and Territories other than Victoria and the ACT. Denniss is drawing a very long bow. Denialism does not help Labor at all.

  9. Denniss

    “Over the past 30 years regional Australia has been hit hard by privatisation, free trade agreements, cuts to welfare and other Liberal Party policy favourites. Outside of the capital cities unemployment is much higher and average incomes much lower, and that gap is rising. Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer know how to turn resentment over that undeniable fact into votes, and so does Barnaby Joyce. The trick is to blame the Greens and environmentalists for putting trees ahead of farmland, fish ahead of irrigators and the changing climate ahead of coal jobs.

    Blaming a political party that has never been in office for regional Australia’s problems takes chutzpah, but it works a treat … except in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Brisbane and Canberra, where the vast majority of Liberal voters live and vote. And as the substantial primary swings against the Liberals in seats like Goldstein, Kooyong, Curtin and Warringah show, the Coalition junior partner’s determination to go to war with the natural environment is coming at a huge cost to the Liberal Party’s safest seats.”

  10. briefly @ #1658 Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 – 9:15 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    He said Queensland voters are volatile

    He’s clearly wrong about that with respect to voting expression in Queensland, which is reliably positive for the Liberals.

    If you’re talking about in federal elections, then generally yes. As far as State elections go, you’re wrong.

  11. The LNP Primary Vote in Queensland increased by only 0.3% in the 2019 election. I think you can class that as ‘voter expression’.

  12. poroti says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    The Coalition scores another mighty achievement.
    Australia’s ranking plummets in ‘world’s best reputation’ countries list

    Meanwhile, both Australia and the UK slipped seven places to 15th and 19th respectively,…………………..Perceptions of quality of life in Australia dropped the most, falling nine points since 2014. The report cited the high cost of living, falling disposable incomes, lack of affordable housing and rising homelessness as potential reasons for the drop.

    I usually find that if you turn these lists upside down you get something much closer to my view.

    Having just spent a couple of days in Singapore the best part of the trip was when I got of the plane back here in Makassar.

    Much nicer and much friendlier here. 🙂

  13. It’s quite obvious that the economy fails to demand as much labour as is supplied to the economy.

    That is true. In the entire history of capitalist employment relations everywhere the private sector has never wanted to employ everybody who wanted employment. There has always been a major need for currency issuing governments to be the residual employer who absorbs anyone who is left out. In the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s governments took that responsibility extremely seriously; consequently unemployment rates rarely exceeded 2 percent and underemployment was unheard of.

    These days governments lack the basic macroeconomic competence to prevent recessions.

    A recession is likely in the next two years. The LNP playbook is austerity, which will only make a recession worse.

    If Labor have a good macroeconomic plan they can win the next election.

    It will require Labor to get the public used to the idea of federal government deficits being a good thing (after all, they are non-government surpluses!)

    The public needs to get used to the reality that federal government deficits are normal and healthy. Federal government surpluses are very unusual. We hardly ever have a current account surplus. That is the only situation where it might be necessary for the federal government to run a surplus to cool down an economy that is overheating because of excessive demand injected by the rest of the world.

    The typical financial balances for Australia’s macroeconomy is that the domestic private sector runs a surplus, the external sector runs a surplus, and the federal government therefore runs a deficit that is equal to the sum of the other two sectors’ surpluses.

  14. Pegasus says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 9:34 pm
    Denniss makes no mention of the anti-Adani convoy in his analysis of why Labor lost the election.

    Yes, another short-coming in his musings. He should take better notice of the Lib-kin.

  15. Nicholas, the question is “Why does the economy fail to demand as much labour as is supplied to the economy?”

    It would be great if we had an answer to that question.

  16. Is it that the supply is inflated by repression measures? By misallocaton of wages by the market? Is it market failure?

    Is it because of capitalist appropriation of surplus value? Is it inherent in the order?

    Is it because of demand repression?

    Why is it?

  17. Nicholas

    A recession is likely in the next two years. The LNP playbook is austerity, which will only make a recession worse.

    We already have localised recessions in many places. The question is whether, how deeply and where recession will propagate.

  18. Peg, perhaps you’d like to explain why it is that the Greens so thoroughly detest Labor. Why is it they work so assiduously to defeat Labor?

  19. Labor got trounced in Queensland allegedly for failing to wholeheartedly endorse the Adani coalmine, but significantly there was no real swing to the Liberal National Party in Queensland at all.

    Surely this is a flawed conclusion of the Qld vote because it looks at the statewide swing rather than seat by seat.

  20. Nicholas, the question is “Why does the economy fail to demand as much labour as is supplied to the economy?”

    I think the answer is that there is no particular reason to expect that the needs of employers in aggregate will match precisely the needs of the labour force in aggregate. It would be a remarkable fluke if those needs did line up precisely and employers wanted to employ everybody who was seeking work.

    The government needs to look at the spending and savings decisions of the non-government sector (both domestic and external) and then do whatever spending is necessary to keep unemployment at 1 or 2 percent with zero underemployment and stable prices.

  21. Nicholas…..,At a certain level the distinction between the private and public sectors is too clever. Together, they constitute the economy.

    The differences between them derive from their financial/monetary/fiscal powers. But together they form a system in which labour is persistently over-supplied as well as being underpaid.

    This is bizarre. Normally markets that are under-priced will experience supply withdrawal. The opposite applies in the labour market. The cheaper labour is, the more of it that will be supplied.

    There must be an iron law of subsistence that drives labour supply irrespective of price.

    This is a market that is inherently subject to exploitation.

  22. Peg, there’s nothing particularly personal about it. If you don’t want to answer, that’s cool.

    I don’t want to traipse thru Denniss’s incomplete musings. He fails to examine who swung to the Liberals and why.

    These are the important factors.

    He also tries to depict defeat as not a defeat. This is pointless.

  23. Confessions:

    Surely this is a flawed conclusion of the Qld vote because it looks at the statewide swing rather than seat by seat.

    Quite right. Someone needs to do the work. Until someone does, it’s all piss and wind

  24. Fess depends on whether you are focusing on primary votes or 2PP. The LNP received a 0.5% swing to them which on face value is not a big swing. However it was on top of an already healthy primary vote.

    In 2PP terms the swing to the Coalition was over 4%. The Labor primary vote fell 4% which went to minor parties and then ended up with the Coalition as preferences.

  25. A basic fact of macroeconomics – and I think the ALP needs to spend the next few years getting the public comfortable with this fact – is that the currency issuing government chooses the unemployment rate.

    We have 5 percent unemployment and 8.5 percent underemployment because the federal government chooses to chronically underspend.

    At any time the federal government could rectify this situation by increasing its spending, which in turn will generate incomes and output. It can increase its spending on goods and services and it can increase its spending on direct creation of jobs for people who need work.

    Our society is under-served on multiple fronts. There are vast swathes of unmet need. The climate crisis is an obvious challenge that requires a lot more people working on it. It would not be difficult to find useful work for people to do.

    Few people see the federal government as the key macroeconomic decision-maker. That has to change.

  26. Nicholas. …perhaps it’s more accurate to say that under-demand for labour is a consequence of the aggregate savings intentions of both the private and public sectors. If the private sector is trying to save, the public sector must dis-save to some extent.

    Even so, this does not explain why labour demanded is less than labour supplied; and likewise cannot explain why the lower that wages are the more labour will be supplied and the less productive it will be.

    Keynes understood the former framework. Marx nailed the latter.

  27. davidwh:

    Where the Adani convoy is concerned (which was the basis for that paragraph I quoted), I don’t think nationwide results (PV or 2PP) are relevant.

  28. Steve777 says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    The Adani convoy probably just pissed off a whole lot of people who would never vote Labor.

    I would think it probably polarised the vote a bit, with the anti moving towards the Greens and the pro moving right, leaving
    Labor stuck in the middle.

  29. briefly

    I don’t get distracted by irrelevance, deflection and personalisation, as you attempted to do in such an obvious way.

    “it’s only because while you might respect the truth you cannot speak it.”

    Funnily enough, that can be applied to you re some of your beliefs about the Labor party, as well as all those millions of non-Labor voters.

    Anyway, sweet dreams

  30. Briefly

    The distorted labour market arises particularly in the Anglo Saxon ecnomomies becuase the typical arrangements for homes are in fact highly financially complex. Typically these involve all of the following:
    – an equity claim
    – being subject to a debt claim
    – being a tenant in the same house over which one has the equity claim and which is subject to the debt claim (which militates against objective decision making)
    – stamp duty which tends to frustrate decision making in respect of the above

    These competing factors would be difficult even for experts to resolve. The failure to do so leads to stress, which then manifests as poor individual decisions in relation to labour supply. The aggregate of this poor decision making leds to the failure in the labour market you observe.

    This is completely in contrast with the situation in Germany where government policy is to hold land values constant so as to ensure a properly functioning labour market (i.e. a market that functions well for both supplier and consumers of labour)).

  31. EGT


    There’s obviously not much point in using land as a substitute for “saving” in Germany, which no doubt accounts for their allocation of savings elsewhere, their commitment to a hard currency and the abundance of capital for both export and investment in mercantile projects of all kinds…..

  32. People who think the pathway for the ALP is through Higgins or any of those seats are delusional. Just because there was a slight swing to the ALP in wealthy metro lib seats means f all. It wasn’t even enough of a swing to take any of these seats so what did it achieve?

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