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. Denise Shrivell@deniseshrivell
    2h2 hours ago

    Tehan claiming they took school mobile phone ban to the last election is a flat out lie! I documented every policy from the major Parties & this was not one of LNP’s very few policies. More lies – not held to account by a failed 4th Estate

  2. Victoria says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 9:10 am
    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.

    Our family’s dealings (since our children were little many years ago) with specialists has been mixed but we have generally not been out of pocket by much.

    It may be a case of specialists realising that most people do have a limited ability to pay and they would rather receive a smaller payment in full than charge a lot and then have to employ debt collectors.

    Another factor is that the referring GP might send a patient to a specialist known to charge less or to bulk bill.

  3. KayJay

    That is good news. As someone who is also missing a fair portion of the deep sewer I understand some of what you have been through.



  4. Peals of laughter echo around the world.

    10 News First Sydney

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is ready to read the riot act to both America and China over their trade war, saying Australia can’t just watch from the sidelines anymore. | @JonathanLea10 #auspol

  5. Citizen

    The out of pocket I have generally found with specialists is usually around 50 dollars, which is not a great deal. Unless there are many appointments to attend over a period of time

  6. NSW Labor and its two aspiring leaders

    NSW Labor leadership aspirant Chris Minns accepted a banned donation from a Labor party fixer and property developer Bechara Khouri in the lead-up to his election to parliament.

    Mr Minns received the $1200 donation as part of his campaign to win the seat of Kogarah at the 2015 state election. Property developers have been banned in NSW from making political donations since 2009.
    Donations to Ms McKay, who has the backing of Labor’s general secretary Kaila Murnain, have also come under scrutiny after it emerged she accepted a donation that breached the legislated cap.
    Ms McKay received a $4000 donation from accountants Lawler Partners in the lead-up to the 2011 election. The cap for individual donations to candidates at the time was $2000.

  7. 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.

    Actually it is true. It’s just the High income level (where additional tax shall be required to be paid) kicks in at about $1 above what I am getting paid…

  8. The Guardian survey was based on a silly binary option- completely unrealistic.
    The ALP put through vast piles of public spending in the form of Gonski, NBN and NDIS without funding them and yet we still spent the dosh at ever increasing rates on them.
    And their ridiculous MRRT and Carbon Taxes were rejected by the voters.

  9. AZ

    The polling is correct. Its just engaged voters. Not unengaged voters.
    Thats where the polling uncertainty comes from. Also remember. The swing was not uniform and the LNP won by the same margin as Turnbull not as Howard.

    Expectations caused by polling before the election are irrelevant as they only measured engaged voters the uncertainty factor of unengaged voters was the disparity between the polling and election result.

    So all you have to do as a political party is get your message out to the unengaged voters and convince them of your case. You will get the same result as the engaged voters that way. Three years for Labor to do it before the next election. I think they can do that despite the media narrative. After all the need for a Federal ICAC got out there.

  10. A Catholic Bishop plans to spray holy water from a helicopter to exorcise the demons he says are plaguing his town.

    Monsignor Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya, bishop of Buenaventura, Colombia, is borrowing a navy copter to deluge the city on July 14, the feast day for Buenaventura’s patron saint. “We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it… to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port,” Montoya told a local radio station. “So that God’s blessing comes and gets rid of all the wickedness that is in our streets.”

    Colombia’s busiest port, Buenaventura has been ravaged by paramilitary gangs, who extort, kidnap and terrorize locals. “Los Malos” as the guerrillas are known, meet resistance with horrific violence: Victims are dismembered while still alive. Their body parts often wash up on shore.

    “In Buenaventura we have to get rid of the devil to see if we can return the tranquility that the city has lost with so many crimes, acts of corruption and so much evil and drug trafficking,” Montoya, 52, told the local press. “It will be a great public demonstration for the entire community, where we will pour holy water to see if so many bad things end and the devil goes out of here.”

    The problem here is that

    The gangs are still present, but the murder rate has dipped below the national average—from 121 murders per 100,000 people in 2006, to just under 14 a decade later.

    So I suppose the Bishop, who doesn’t seem knowledgeable about the recent changes, will think that his holy water has prevailed.

  11. lizzie says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I suspect that the very earnest Denise (and journo/media) may have misrepresented Tehan. The Victorian Liberals took that policy to the last Victorian election and the ALP said that they opposed it – and now they are implementing it.

    It’s a good policy. My kids schools have had it for years.

  12. Michael Pascoe re proposed tax cuts:

    Australia needs government first and foremost to govern for the good of the nation, to do what needs be done quickly and play political games later.

    To state the obvious, Labor is in opposition – it’s the government’s job to get immediate, important policy passed.

    The argument that Labor should pass all the tax cuts now because it can always repeal them later is specious.

    We know only too well how hard it is to remove a tax break after the event, even if it’s little more than a rort.

    Novated leases, anyone?
    The fact that individual Labor MPs have chosen to publicly agree to a radical flattening of our progressive income tax system might say more about those individuals’ ambitions than longer-term grasp of what’s good for the nation.
    Like the blatant inequity of continuing the novated car lease lurk, playing political chicken with the $1080 tax refunds is a test of integrity.

    Both major parties fail the novated lease integrity test.

    The government is failing the immediate tax refund test miserably.

  13. While channel surfing last night I came across a couple of news broadcasts announcing Mr. Morrison calling for a cessation to the trade war. There is and was no indication that anybody “out there” is listening.
    The news readers are to be complimented on reading this stuff without laughing.

    I now await for an Australian version of Pravda or perhaps the Völkischer Beobachter.

    Mr. Morrison will perhaps be strutting the World stage. HELP ❗ Please would somebody spray my neighborhood with Xanax or similar.

    Would a public spirited person of means please set up a community service along the lines of “Dial a Dickheaded Bullshit Artist” where one could listen to recordings of dulcet toned entertaining and convoluted messages meaning SFA – this should be enough to enable the average person to amble through life without feeling a need to get additional BS courtesy of what is jokingly referred News Services.

    Big day today. A couple of hours day release looking around the local shopping precinct and annoying the ladies at the hot bread shop. What fun.

    Thanks to those mentioning various medical issues and the hospital system. I consider myself fortunate indeed that the only costs to me are (apart from soaring blood pressure and pulse) are parking fees and coffee for my most excellent family who make my medical experiences so easy.

    Au revoir. 😇

  14. zoomster

    Greens position known. Greens vote did not fall. Labor has a history of looking weak on climate change to voters. Gillard and Rudd to blame for that. Greatest moral challenge of our time and citizens assembly and you can call it a tax and then arguing that no its not a tax.

    That just makes Labor look weak and not serious to the unengaged voter. Hate the Greens position as much as you like but make no mistake the voters know the Greens are serious about climate change.

  15. @MGliksmamMDP tweets

    Alan Jones joins call to Bring them home to Bilo via @ChangeAUS Extraordinary! Who’d have thought…. . Even @AlanJones has had enough of @PeterDutton_MP’s cruelty. Please sign the petition. #Refugees

  16. Bucephalus

    I agree that it’s good policy. The original argument (years ago) to retain them was in case parents/kids needed to contact each other in emergency. (Refrain: whatever did we do before mobile phones?)

    As for Tehan, I really think that pollies as well as voters blur the lines between state and federal parties.

  17. lizzie

    Victoria has exception for emergency reasons. Planning gets around the rest.
    Note I think the ban is the LNP trying to avoid the consequences of scrapping the Safe Schools program that Victoria retains.

  18. zoomster

    I did not say you did hate the Greens position. I was speaking about voters

    Also note Labor has failed not the Greens. See William’s post on results including preference flows above.

  19. lizzie says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 9:44 am

    A Catholic Bishop plans to spray holy water from a helicopter to exorcise the demons he says are plaguing his town.

    One other slight problem here is that the water will likely evaporate well before it reaches ground level, unless the helicopter has water bombing capabilities.

    Still struggling with science! 😆

  20. From lizzie’s link:

    ‘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.’

    If our Prime Minister had a scintilla of ethics he would ban all Government agencies and all Government contractors and all Government consultants from having anything to do with Pyne’s organisation. Full stop.

    But this is the most corrupt, venal, incompetent and brutal Federal Government since Federation. So don’t hold your breath for Daggy Dad to do the right thing. Primus inter pares.

  21. BiM
    If the heli scoops the holy water from any of the local rivers the Bishop might well be visiting a plague of amoebic dysentery upon his flock.

  22. lizzie says:

    A Catholic Bishop plans to spray holy water from a helicopter to exorcise the demons he says are plaguing his town.

    I keep thinking………

  23. Since 1975 the wages share of national income in Australia has fallen from 58 percent to 47 percent.

    This is a massive upwards redistribution of income from wages to profits.

    It has happened because wage rises have not kept pace with average labour productivity growth.

    I propose that we rectify that immediately.

    If the minimum wage had kept pace with labour productivity growth since 1970 it would be $25 per hour, not $19.49.

    The first order of business is to lift the minimum wage to where it ought to be.

    I propose a federal Job Guarantee in which the federal government would pay the minimum wage to the participants.

    This funding injection combined with other spending by the government would provide the non-government sector with more income which can be used to pay the higher wages.

    There is currently no problem with the federal government increasing its deficit spending. There is so much unused capacity in the economy at present that the government could increase its deficit to $50 or $60 billion per year without causing an inflation problem. This estimate comes from economist Dr Steven Hail from the University of Adelaide.

    The constraint on the federal government’s spending is not financial. It keystrokes its currency into the non-government sector. The constraints are the availability of real resources that are for sale in its currency. Also there are political constraints about the desirability of a proposed course of action and the capacity to convince important stakeholders that the policy is worth implementing. There is no financial constraint on the federal government when it spends its own currency.

    The government must enact a Green New Deal to radically improve ecological sustainability and resilience and protection in Australia.

    Some of the Job Guarantee participants could work in this area. For example, reforestation projects, revegetating river banks and sand dunes, securing our water supplies by putting in place devices to minimise evaporation.

    In addition to Job Guarantee work there will be conventional public infrastructure works relating to securing our water supplies and the health of our river systems.

    A Job Guarantee will not just offer jobs to the unemployed. It will also provide highly personalised assistance to people with special needs such as substance abuse issues, behavioural issues, mental health struggles, experiences of family violence, speaking English as a second language. Relevant professionals in these areas – people with great compassion and empathy in additional to technical skill – would be available to assist people with particular needs. For some people, participating satisfactorily in relevant therapy or counselling or skill development could itself be a Job Guarantee job for which they are paid $25 per hour.

    Working on those inter-generational forms of disadvantage is hard work. People who commit to doing that work with appropriate professional support deserve to be paid the minimum wage for their time and effort. It is worthy and important work.

  24. Nicholas

    This is a massive upwards redistribution of income from wages to profits.

    It has happened because wage rises have not kept pace with average labour productivity growth.

    I propose that we rectify that immediately.

    But is Scomo listening? You can propose anything you like, but no one will hear you.

  25. Bellwether says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Don’t worry – they are well advanced in their preparation to swing the US 2020 Presidential elections against Trump.

  26. Bucephalus

    The ALP put through vast piles of public spending in the form of Gonski, NBN and NDIS without funding


    I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you. A government spending money on such frills as education, an efficient communication system and assistance for the disabled! Anyone who supports such waste has no place on a thoughtful blog like PB!

    That language, “vast piles of public spending” gives the game away for IPA and Coalition trolls.

    If only B could come up with some commentary on vast piles of “useful” spending by the Coalition like TURC, the marriage equality referendum, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, water buybacks on the Murray-Darling and half a trillion dollars for defence equipment. I’m sure Bludgers can come up with more examples of the Coalition’s “responsible” stewardship of public monies including $158 billion of tax expenditures that will soon be voted on.

    It always strikes me as odd that people like B, Nath, and Nostra can spout such one-sided crap and expect to be respected on this site. But respect is something that they seemingly are able to do without.

  27. lizzie @ #89 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 8:41 am


    This is a massive upwards redistribution of income from wages to profits.

    It has happened because wage rises have not kept pace with average labour productivity growth.

    I propose that we rectify that immediately.

    But is Scomo listening? You can propose anything you like, but no one will hear you.

    However Porter now believes the Libs have a mandate to increase the disparity towards profits/capital.

  28. @guytaur (Block)
    Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 10:32 am

    For the sake of honesty they could add to the flyer “Just jump on a plane, it’s a piece of cake.”

  29. Annabel Crabb@annabelcrabb
    44m44 minutes ago

    I’m back in the chair at @InsidersABC this Sunday – there’ll be lots of questions for our guest, The Attorney-General Christian Porter @cporterwa. And the rare all-female panel: Niki Savva, @latingle and @annikasmethurst . Sunday, 9am

    Porter’s stern blank face always reminds me of Fraser and the Easter Island statues. Not a hint of mercy.

  30. Nicholas says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I note that in any discussion of the increasing share of national income as profits, the fact that almost all Australians have benefited from this phenomenon through their superannuation funds being owners is actively ignored.

    We already have one of the highest minimum wages in the world thereby making us globally uncompetitive.

    Job Guarantee – what sort of new hell is this going to be? What sort of “make work” jobs will be created? It sounds very much like the “sit down money” of the much criticised CDEP.

    Green New Deal – oh golly gosh. There wasn’t a Green Old Deal to replace. Not a single US Senator voted in support of it and it lost 57-0 – which means some Democratic Senators voted against it.

    So for the health of the rivers you are advocating the cessation of irrigation and the removal of all man made controls of water?

  31. A federal government surplus is a non-government deficit. The non-government sector suffers a net loss of financial assets when the federal government runs a surplus. Federal government surpluses are usually bad – they usually involve the domestic private sector taking on excessive amounts of private sector debt. This is unsustainable.

    There is only one scenario where a federal government surplus would make sense. If Australia were running a large current account surplus – that is the external sector in net terms is injecting a lot of demand into the domestic private sector – then it may be necessary for the federal government to run a surplus in order to cool down an overheating economy.

    But Australia typically runs current account deficits with regard to the rest of the world. That means that we spend more on the rest of the world’s products and we send the rest of the world more wages, interest, rent, and profits than the rest of the world spends on our products and sends us wages, interest, rent, and profits. So we don’t face the problem of the rest of the world overheating our domestic private sector.

    For Australia, federal government deficits are healthy, normal, and routine. We should not demonise them.

  32. guytaur says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 10:32 am

    The system is working. Not only the US but also Europe is looking to our system in order to control and secure their borders and be able to resettle refugees and retain support of voters.

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