Foreign affairs and Senate preferences

A comprehensive new survey on attitudes to foreign affairs, and deeper-than-ever dive into Senate voting and the preference question.

We’re still yet to have a new poll of federal voting intention after the election, for whatever that may still be worth, but I would imagine Newspoll will be breaking its drought to mark next week’s resumption of parliament. We do, however, have one of the Lowy Institute’s occasional surveys on attitudes to foreign affairs, the results of which are attractively presented on the organisation’s website.

The headline topic of the poll is Sino-American relations, and the results point to a sharp decline in trust towards China, which a clear majority of respondents rated the “world’s leading economic power”. Even clearer majorities, of around three-quarters, believed China was pursuing regional domination, and that Australia should do more to resist its military activities even if it affected our too-close economic relationship.

However, the poll also finds a further decline in trust in the United States, to add to the body-blow it took when Donald Trump was elected. Of particular interest here are the age breakdowns. Whereas there was little to distinguish the age cohorts in their positive view of the US on Obama’s watch, respondents in their youth and early middle-age now take a substantially more negative view than older ones.

Relatedly, the highly negative and worsening view of Trump personally, while evident across all age cohorts, is most pronounced among the young. This carries through to a head-to-head question on whether respondents should prioritise strong relations with the United States or China, with a majority of those aged 18-30 favouring China, and a large majority of the 60-plus cohort favouring the United States.

Beyond that, the survey offers no end of interesting material:

• Respondents were asked about their satisfaction with democracy – which, one often reads, is in freefall throughout the western world, particularly among the young. However, the Lowy Institute’s yearly tracking of this question going back to 2012 doesn’t show any such thing. If anything, there seems to be a slight trend in favour of the response that “democracy is preferable to any other kind of government”, which is up three on last year at 65%. While the young are less sold on this notion than the old, there has been a solid improving trend among the 18-to-30 cohort, with this year’s result up six on last year’s to 55%, a new high over the course of the series.

• Evaluations were sought on a limited sample of foreign leaders, specifically concerning whether they could be trusted in world affairs. Donald Trump ranked down alongside Vladimir Putin, while Jacinda Ardern recorded near-unanimous acclaim, with 88% expressing either a lot of or some confidence. New Zealand was rated “Australia’s best friend” out of six available options by 59%, up from six since 2017.

• Brexit was rated a bad thing for the United Kingdom by 62%, a bad thing for the European Union by 70%, and a bad thing for the West in general by 58%. The UK’s rating on a “feelings thermometer” fell six points, to 76.

• Concern about climate change maintained an upward trajectory, with 61% favouring action “even if this involves significant costs”. The long-range trend on this question going back to 2006 suggests climate change is less of a problem when Labor are in office.

• Views on immigration were less negative than last year, after a significant hardening of opinion between 2014 and 2018. However, the immigration rate was still held to be too high by 48% of all respondents, and a very large majority of older ones.

The survey was conducted online and by telephone from March 12 to 25 from a sample of 2130.

The second part of today’s lesson relates to Senate preference flows, from which we can obtain no end of information thanks to the Australian Electoral Commission’s publication of the data files containing the preference order for every single ballot paper. By contrast, we’re still waiting on the two-party preference splits the AEC eventually publishes for each party in the House of Representatives. There will be a lot of analysis of this information here over the coming weeks, but for starters I offer the following:

This shows, from left to right, the rate of voters’ adherence to their favoured party’s how-to-vote-card; the rate at which minor party voters’ preference orders favoured Labor over the Coalition or vice-versa, or neither in the event that they did not number either party (“two-party”); and a similar three-way measure that throws the Greens into the mix (“three-party”).

This shows that United Australia Party voters heavily favoured the Coalition over Labor, but not because they were following the party’s how-to-vote cards, a course followed by around 0.1% of the total electorate. One Nation preferences were only slightly less favourable to the Coalition, and even fewer of the party’s voters followed the card. Since One Nation’s preferences in the lower house split almost evenly in 2016, out of the 15 seats where they ran, it seems safe to assume a shift in One Nation preferences accounted for a substantial chunk of the two-party swing to the Coalition. I will calculate Senate preference flows from 2016 for comparison over the next few days.

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.

1,777 comments on “Foreign affairs and Senate preferences”

  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    There will be no Dawn Patrol tomorrow as I have to go down to the flatlands for an early hospital admission to have an angiogram. If no further action ensues it will return on Saturday morning.

    We have some polling! But not TPP. Katharine Murphy reports that Australian voters say it is more important to maintain funding for services such as health and education than giving workers on high incomes a tax cut, according to the latest Guardian Essential survey.
    David Crowe reveals that in a high-stakes drama during a week of upheaval, the former prime minister argued with then Attorney-General Christian Porter over whether the Governor-General should play a decisive role in the leadership spill.
    Homeowners and subsequent purchasers of apartments would be owed a duty of care by builders and other participants in the property industry, under proposed reforms outlined by the NSW state government yesterday. Better late than never I suppose.
    Here’s Stephen Bartholomeusz’s view on how the outlook for markets hangs on a meeting in Osaka.
    “What will Scott Morrison will say to Donald Trump?”, ask Bevan Shields and David Wroe.
    Eryk Bagshaw reports that the Coalition is on the cusp of securing its $158 billion in income tax cuts as crucial crossbench senators declare “we can get there” and the government prepares to unveil a major new energy policy.
    Greg Jericho explains how the latest engineering construction figures show yet more evidence that Australia’s economy has been struggling for nearly a year now, and that the public sector is failing to fill the gap of falling private sector infrastructure work. More shocking charts to peruse.
    Michael Pascoe says that the government’s integrity on trial again – this time on tax cuts. He writes that it’s merely cheap politics to delay the $1080 tax refunds as a means of wedging the Labor opposition on much more contentious cuts for the top 10 per cent of taxpayers in five years’ time.
    And according to Bagshaw trade representatives from more than a dozen countries have flown into Australia to conduct highly secretive negotiations on a mega deal that will sideline the United States amid the ongoing economic fall-out from the US-China trade war. Sounds like good stuff.
    The AFR says that it’s Indonesia that is leading a coalition of nations to stop the trade war between the US and China, with Scott Morrison pledging to make the case during meetings at the G20.
    Here we go! Dana McCauley reports that Christian Porter has launched a major review of the nation’s workplace laws, seizing upon the Coalition’s electoral victory as a mandate for reform.
    Ben Schneiders writes that Setka’s family violence conviction represents a challenge for the union movement.
    The PNG government has moved to end Paladin’s controversial contract while launching the equivalent of a royal commission into the UBS loan affair. So now what?
    Sarah Martin tells us that an audit report has found that the former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce expanded a taxpayer-funded scheme that gives lucrative concessions to farmers against the advice of Treasury.
    Pru Goward goes round and round in circles in this piece on the Folau issue.
    Meanwhile David Marr writes that with Israel Folau the church is demanding a kind of free speech that keeps gays in the firing line. Beautifully written as usual.
    Law lecturer Renae Barker explores whether the Australian Christian Lobby be investigated for its Israel Folau fundraiser.
    Caitlin Fitzsimmons goes into the pervasiveness of slavery in the retail supply chain. But now Australia’s new legislation comes into effect and this puts the onus on retailers to start documenting the risk of slavery in their supply chain, making them accountable not just for their own workers but those of suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers – all the way back to the extraction of raw materials.
    Christopher Knaus reports that Labor has called for the prime minister to investigate allegations that his department repeatedly broke laws to stymy the release of sensitive documents, while crossbenchers announce a renewed push to overhaul Australia’s freedom of information system.
    Tammy Mills writes that as a result of the Lawyer X scandal a gangland murder conviction could be overturned. And it probably will not be the only one.
    The AFR reports that ASIC’s new power to ban financial products isn’t designed for emergencies, but as part of its expanding regulatory arsenal.
    Elizabeth Knight reckons it’s time for Afterpay to grow up in the corporate sense.
    Patrick Hatch tells us how Coles will be offering better home delivery times to reward big spenders as part of a wider push to start making money from its fast-growing but as yet unprofitable online business.
    A class action claim by former delivery drivers and staff could cost Domino’s between $100 million and $240 million if successful.
    Macquarie has banned gambling and lottery transactions on its credit cards, in response to regulatory concerns about the easy access to credit by problem gamblers.
    Poor conduct by principals and CEOs has resulted in Australia’s corporate culture in need of a change, writes Dr Kim Sawyer.,12838
    The City of Sydney has declared a climate emergency but what does that mean in practice? Professor Cliff Turney addresses the question.
    Martin Kettle opines that Boris Johnson’s full English Brexit could rip the union apart. He says the Tory frontrunner’s ‘do-or-die’ approach is alienating Scotland and Northern Ireland – and courting disaster
    British Conservatives, voting on whether to make Boris Johnson their party leader, may be opening a can of worms, writes Lee Duffield.,12840
    How a German town’s residents fought back against a neo-Nazi festival.
    As a result of a successful cold case investigation this guy get today’s nomination for “Arsehole of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe and Trump’s trade war.

    Some perspective from Cathy Wilcox.

    Andrew Dyson on the banning of mobile phones from schools.

    From Matt Golding.

    Matt Davidson on free speech.

    Peter Broelman and the resurrection.

    Good stuff here from Alan Moir.

    Eerie work from Glen Le Lievre.
    Jon Kudelka goes the full Leviticus with Folau.

    From the US.

  2. Morrison has secured a working dinner with Trump and his advisors in Osaka, Japan, on the eve of the G20 Summit, and plans to ask Trump to halt the trade ware with China. (Schwarz Media).

    ScoMo must have an exaggerated opinion of his influence. Just because he won the Oz election….

  3. Trump will almost certainly want Scott to get rid of all our socialist health & education funding, not to mention requiring Australia to buy lots of US military hardware.

  4. booleanbach @ #9 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 7:53 am

    No they don’t!! They may tell the pollsters that, but when it comes to the election where they get this choice they always seem to go for self-interest first.

    I have seen this headline so many times and every time they prove it wrong at the real polls.

    Dead right there. This is the age of a lack of integrity in the majority, their words are meaningless.

  5. I wonder if Barnaby’s judgement will ever be found to be correct on anything at all.

    The former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce expanded a taxpayer-funded scheme that gives lucrative concessions to farmers against the advice of Treasury.

    The auditor general, Grant Hehir, has also found that the FMD scheme, which held more than $6.6bn in deposits in June 2018, does not have “fully effective” administration processes, risk identification, or compliance measures in place.

    This is despite the amount of foregone revenue from the taxpayer-funded scheme more than doubling from $245m in 2016–17 to $500m in 2017–18.

  6. Barnyard is just taking the piss now.
    Grant Hehir, has also found that the FMD scheme ………..does not have “fully effective” administration processes, risk identification, or compliance measures in place.

  7. Paul Barratt@phbarratt
    13m13 minutes ago

    Guess who’s coming to dinner

    And it’s my prediction that Morrison will swallow whole whatever rubbish Trump serves up in Iran, just as Howard bought US propaganda about Iraq, contrary to advice of own intelligence agencies.

  8. Sister Joan Chittister, a well-known American nun, feminist and scholar, was looking forward to speaking at a Catholic education conference in Australia next year, figuring there would be plenty to discuss in a country where Catholic schools educate roughly one in five children.

    But then Chittister, 83, received an email a few weeks ago effectively telling her not to come, saying that the Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, had not endorsed the invitation.

    No reason was given, she said. But to Chittister and her supporters, the message was clear: The leaders of the church don’t like her ideas — especially her call to empower women and laypeople — so they plan to suppress them.

    “It is pathetic,” Chittister said Monday (June, 2019) in an interview from Erie, Pennsylvania, where she has lived and worked with the needy for most of her life.

    Another example of the RC Church’s attitude to ‘free speech’. See also David Marr

  9. Mark Dreyfus@markdreyfusQCMP
    1h1 hour ago

    Yesterday @KKeneally and I attended the Press Club to hear what the media chiefs had to say about press freedom – because it’s an important issue. Not a single coalition MP showed up. Says it all.

  10. Pressure? What pressure? When has Morrison bothered with anyone else’s standards for behaviour?

    Christopher Pyne’s new job has put his old boss, Scott Morrison, under pressure to reprimand him amid accusations it is a breach of ministerial standards.

    Mr Pyne, who was defence minister until the election, yesterday revealed he has taken a job as a defence consultant with multinational business advisers EY.

    “I am looking forward to providing strategic advice to EY, as the firm looks to expand its footprint in the defence industry,” Mr Pyne said in a statement.

    But Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick has called on the Prime Minister to reprimand Mr Pyne for taking the position, which he argues breaches the Statement of Ministerial Standards.

  11. Lizzie

    As boerwar outlined and stated recently, the amount of corruption by many of the coalition MPs is mind boggling.
    Meanwhile Sam dastyari was hounded out of the senate.

  12. lizzie @ #21 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 8:25 am


    May I dare to ask the result of your test? Was it OK?

    It was more than OK. Pardon me while I elucidate.

    I bribed the ladies (chocolate frogs) at reception who shuffled through a stack of notes trying to find those relating to my procedure.
    Then hung about with my escort (son-in-law) until a nurse (whom I instantly liked) collected me as my escort made a run for it. Presented lovely nurse with chocolate frogs.
    The usual blood pressure (sky high) pulse (101) various information. Get your gear off then on to theatre. Chatty doctor informs all and sundry (4 persons including me) that there is not much bowel left.
    Woke up in recovery – sandwich and little bottle of lemonade (heaven) then chatted with the gentleman on my right.

    The surgeon made an appearance – no problems – this will be my last colonoscopy barring blood loss revealed through other tests.
    My son-in-law returned and off we went. Home again jiggetty jig. Coffee au lait with mucho sugar. Two daughter made guest appearances and stayed overnight. I bunged fish and chips into oven for” tea” (I’m old and I guess old fashioned). Later heated deep dish Apple Crumble in oven and we had that with ice cream.
    So – all is well apart from the fact that I still have all the aches and pains of being 80 years old. In fact I told the medical staff that the procedure was a birthday present.

    I could have simply answered “yes” but where would the fun be in that ❓ ☮☕

  13. As an aside, my father had back fusion surgery late last year at our local major hospital.
    His ongoing treatment for therapy and pain management has been second to none. Apart from the cost of medicines, which as a pensioner is reduced, it has cost not one dollar for him.
    This is the sort of service we as Australians take for granted, but we should really appreciate and cherish.
    And also a shout out to our paramedics who also do a sterling job with grace and compassion.
    Our tax dollars are very well spent in this area.

  14. Goward raises the point that if we abhor Folau’s message must we also abhor the bible that he quotes – how to start an impressive Kulturkampf

    For the sake of accuracy Folau quoted Paul in 1 Corinthians. Various wits tie him with Leviticus. I am sure he would be offended by this; as a Christian and not a Jew he is exempt from most Mosaic law

  15. BK, best wishes for your medical appointment.

    Here we go! Dana McCauley reports that Christian Porter has launched a major review of the nation’s workplace laws, seizing upon the Coalition’s electoral victory as a mandate for reform.

    Reading the quotes in the article, it seems Porter is intent on launching a full scale attack on employees, especially those on lower salaries. He claims a full mandate from the election result.

  16. Victoria

    I couldn’t agree more. Every time I have all my prescriptions filled out, or have an expensive test, I give a small thanks. When OH was alive, and not a pensioner, his medications cost us an arm and a leg every month.

  17. Citizen

    Funny that. I didn’t hear anything from Morrison and co during election campaign about IR laws.

    Has Porter bothered to make any comments regarding Domino Pizza chain who is being sued for underpaying hundreds of staff.
    I guess that does not concern him or his fellow travellers.

    I don’t get why they believe that allowing companies to make more profits at the expense of its workforce, helps grow the economy.
    It doesn’t.

    Unless they like the idea of a serfdom.

  18. When discussing Boris there is always plenty of colour, always a story, which is how the clown gets his prominence — entertaining the conservative faithful. Like his opposite numbers, Trump and Morrison, he does not show that he cares what people think of him (though Donald for one can turn vicious), so long as they pay attention and take in the pitch of the day.

    In each case, the pitch is to keep pushing on with 1970s reactionary, untrammelled capitalism: low taxes, small government, stifled unions and so on. They are mixed on social issues: all-right with changes that makes money such as allowing online gambling. Otherwise he’ll want to wind back the clock where possible: on abortion, gay issues and dog-whistle race politics usually directed through migrants.,12840

    The seventies were half a century ago. Isn’t it time for a revolution?

  19. Lizzie

    If my parents had to pay for medicines at normal prices, they would be under enormous financial pressure. And of course, the other added bonus, is the safety net. Once you receive the threshold in the year, medicines are zero cost. I am very appreciative.
    My main concern is that this will change in future. I hope not.

  20. The arrogant Coalition seems to believe it has a ‘mandate’ for every nasty little brainfart they have kept secret during the election. Memories of Abbott “No cuts…” promises.

  21. William

    Thanks for your post. Interesting that despite all the media hyperventilating that polling generally confirms the election trend.
    That is if you take expectations ramped up due to reading what the engaged voter is saying vs that of the unengaged voter. In the US this is the base that needs to be gotten out to vote.

    So what we have with the unengaged voter is people believing the media not having more trustworthy sources for information. So Labor’s job is to spend three years saying why its right and making sure that the voters know they were.

    That means opposing the government not giving way to the government. Yes the media will claim Labor is doing an Abbott and wrecking everything. However Labor is doing a Howard preparing to get into government having paid the Fightback price for getting its agenda message to the Australian people and now its on track to gain government.

    The big one being climate change. Labor got the message not at the cost of jobs with no safety net. The scare campaign was that and death taxes. The people who saw the truth voted Green. So win the voters with three years of truth telling. Just like Keneally and Labor is doing on immigration.

    Thats how you win. Yes its exactly what Labor did with Marriage Equality and beating the likes of Abetz and Shelton and Bernardi etc on standing up against bigots. Do that with standing up for the poor and showing you are against business elites. A good place to start a simple message. Raise the Newstart rate. Back the advocacy of ACOSS in convincing the government it has to act.

    Stuff like that is how you win. Remember thats what John Howard did. Its what Kevin Rudd did. Its what Bob Hawke did. Strength with simple messages to show you are practical but have strong principle and are strong in backing them up that voters respect.

  22. And recently my mother was referred to a couple of different specialists in the private sector. We expected that there would be an out of pocket component, which we were prepared for. In both instances the specialists, without our prompting, said that they would bulk bill for the consultations.
    Which was a very pleasant surprise.

  23. I used to have an historical novel based on the early Church. In one scene, someone asks Paul if he’s worried that what he’s writing to address the needs of one particular church congregation will be taken as applying to all churches. His answer is along the lines of “What kind of idiot would do that?”

    Anyway, a Christian should be guided by the words of Christ, not by the musings of one of his followers.

  24. Victoria

    Remember the proposed co-payments? When the promised recession starts to bite, guess where they will find an easy target. 🙁

  25. “Reading the quotes in the article, it seems Porter is intent on launching a full scale attack on employees, especially those on lower salaries. He claims a full mandate from the election result.”

    Funny, I don’t recall this being mentioned in the election campaign. They actually have a mandate to do very little except to give free money to wealthy retirees, continue to subsidise real estate speculation, support coal mining and do nothing about the climate.

  26. ‘The big one being climate change. Labor got the message not at the cost of jobs with no safety net. The scare campaign was that and death taxes. The people who saw the truth voted Green. So win the voters with three years of truth telling…’

    If Labor tells the truth and the people who listen vote Green, there’s not much gain there for Labor.

  27. zoomster

    Labor has looked to be not serious about climate change. So people say we might as well vote for the low cost coal promoters they know what they are talking about.

  28. Steve777

    They’ve also had an extremely long break. I wonder when they’ll actually get back to work. As noted by Dreyfus, no Minister turned up at the NPC. Probably they’re quite satisfied with the current situation.

  29. Bucephalus says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Mexicanbeemer says:
    Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 5:17 pm
    “Self funded is reference to people not using the usual industry or retail fund.“

    Wrong. Self-funded means that they are not reliant on the Age Pension. It has nothing to do with whether they have no super, a SMSF, Retail, Industry, Government or other Super.
    A SMSF or self managed super fund is as I described it. A SMSF is one where the owner of the fund is taking on the role of managing it and as such they face certain rules governing how they are operated.

  30. Rex Patrick@Senator_Patrick
    1h1 hour ago

    If @ScottMorrisonMP isn’t interested in ensuring integrity within the Ministry how can he expect support for ensuring integrity within the union movement? @cporterwa #auspol

    I’m hoping that Senator Patrick sustains his critical stance on the Coalition.

  31. Another example of how Labor should hold its ground. Ignore the cross bench if they support the Government tax bill.

    Keep opposing it. Show your principles. Ignore the media telling you that makes you irrelevant. Its just an excuse to get you to sell the Labor soul to support the rich elite.

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