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. I was in Europe when Chernobyl want up. The radioactive cloud was followed with great interest. It was suggested that avoiding fresh would be a good idea for a while.

  2. ‘frednk says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    I was in Europe when Chernobyl want up. The radioactive cloud was followed with great interest. It was suggested that avoiding fresh would be a good idea for a while.’

    ‘fresh air’, or ‘fresh milk’, or fresh…

  3. frednk @ #1398 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 9:02 pm

    Shall we compare the fuel cost for solar and nuclear?

    No, by all means lets continue to talk about shutting down one of the cheapest and least carbon emitting form of electricity generation we currently have, for some idiotic ideological reason.

    That’s always good for a laugh!

  4. Boerwar

    It’s a blob of molten metal that they can’t contain, no-one knows what to do, what the damage will be or the cost, I think that is real truth of the matter. Polls and cleanup costs, random numbers.

    Can’t get insurance, costs re too high. It really is just another culture war thing now. Nuclear power is a dead parrot.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZw35VUBdzo

  5. So, apparently any new Nuclear Reactors are going to be the same as Chernobyl and Fukushima. I’m pretty sure that’ll be a surprise to the design teams.


  6. Player One says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:11 pm
    ..
    No, by all means lets continue to talk about shutting down one of the cheapest and least carbon emitting form of electricity generation we currently have, for some idiotic ideological reason.

    Whatever rocks your boat.

    You do have to build them if they are to be a part of your future energy needs.

    I suppose if it has been accepted coal an nuclear is not part of the future energy mix then excluding the build cost makes sense as no more are going to be built them.

  7. Bucephalus

    “So, apparently any new Nuclear Reactors are going to be the same as Chernobyl and Fukushima. I’m pretty sure that’ll be a surprise to the design teams.”

    This is just dumb.


  8. Bucephalus says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    So, apparently any new Nuclear Reactors are going to be the same as Chernobyl and Fukushima. I’m pretty sure that’ll be a surprise to the design teams.

    No doubt the designers of Chernobyl and Fukushima were a little surprised.

    A bigger surprise would be seeing the design built.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cancelled_nuclear_reactors_in_the_United_States

    The Australian effort “Jervis bay” is a member of a very large class.

  9. Player One says:

    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    frednk @ #1407 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 9:18 pm

    I suppose if it has been accepted coal an nuclear is not part of the future energy mix then excluding the build cost makes sense as no more are going to be built them.

    China will be surprised to hear that.

    I was being polite, trying to find a good reason why you would exclude build cost for coal and nuclear and nothing else. Don’t have to take it.


  10. Boerwar says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    ‘fresh air’, or ‘fresh milk’, or fresh…

    They went on and on about the milk. It has something to do with something with a short half life and grass.


  11. Player One says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Because we were talking about retiring an existing fleet of reactors in France.

    And the circle is complete.

  12. Whichever way you try to dice it up, nuclear fission is nuclear fission. It’s a blast. The problem will always be the same – how to initiate, operate, contain, cool and sustain the process all at the same time. It generates and releases a lot of heat. It’s difficult or impossible to stop once it gets out of control. The toxic wastes are extremely dangerous.

    On a risk/reward measure, it’s too early to tell whether it’s a better alternative than any available alternative.

    There are alternatives that carry lower costs and lower risks. Not a difficult problem.

  13. Kerry O’Brien gets some sort of “lifetime Logie ” award and makes an appropriately political speech, criticising pollies ie conservos, from effing around with AGW and treatment of aborigines.

  14. briefly @ #1416 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 9:39 pm

    There are alternatives that carry lower costs and lower risks. Not a difficult problem.

    Umm. This is simplistic thinking. There is no alternative to current nuclear that can be deployed in time to do any good. Sure, you may not want to deploy new nuclear if you can deploy renewables fast enough. The Chinese don’t believe you can. And as they are the world leaders in both nuclear and renewables, I am inclined to believe them.

  15. It’s difficult or impossible to stop once it gets out of control.

    Supercriticality is actually self-limiting. A portion of your fissile material rapidly turns to energy, vaporizing substantially all of the fissile material that didn’t turn into energy and probably also a good portion of its immediate surroundings. These vapors of radioactive and normal things expand extremely rapidly, dispersing the fissile material across a much larger volume of space and ending supercriticality, thereby stopping the reaction.

    The problem is more that in the few moments it takes for this to happen 1) a lot of previously okay stuff is utterly destroyed, and 2) little bits of radioactive material go everywhere and stay radioactive for years or longer.

  16. frednk
    The advice given to Chernobyl citizens was to stay indoors, shut the windows and hose away and dust/soot. I was giggling at how silly that was but it actually made a huge difference if you followed the advice.

  17. With respect to the pricing of the natural environment, the correct price to apply depends on the discount rate – on the discount applied to future income flows from the environment. The correct discount rate to use is very low indeed….perhaps as low as .000001% pa. In this case, an infinitely large value can be assigned to the unspoilt environment. This is conceptually consistent with its irreplaceability….with the singular characteristic it has from a human standpoint. It is the only environment that exists to which we are adapted and in which we can live.

    The natural environment is usually assigned no value at all by the market. This is a spectacular example of market failure. The most valuable asset available to humans is traded at $0.00/unit.

    Very soon we will have to reckon with the consequences of placing $0.00/unit on the use of the atmosphere and the oceans. The chemical changes we are generating in them will mean they will be increasingly less favourable to the interdependent propagation, growth and reproduction of the species that now populate the earth, including our own species. We can already see this in the accelerating rate of extinction of species of all kinds, extinctions for which we are entirely responsible.

    As a result of our failure to value and protect the natural environment, it will soon enough cease to support our own population. This is already obvious.

  18. PO

    If we factor in the opportunity costs of doing nothing new and effective to avert climate change, then the costs of business-as-usual are incalculably high.

    We must take action right now to begin to reduce our emissions. If we do not we will overshoot Paris, we will hit 2.5-3.0-3.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century. Life will become almost completely unsustainable with change of this magnitude.

    The renewable technologies we have are not perfect, but they are effective, they’re affordable, they are scaleable and they are improving all the time. We should move for their rapid, mass adoption without delay.

    Really, we should not be burning coal. We should not be burning gas. We should not really be burning anything. We should be finding ways to draw CO2 from the atmosphere and returning it to the earth.

  19. briefly @ #1422 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 10:16 pm

    We must take action right now to begin to reduce our emissions. If we do not we will overshoot Paris, we will hit 2.5-3.0-3.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century. Life will become almost completely unsustainable with change of this magnitude.

    We are there already. We already have 3 – 4 degrees warming locked in. The politicians won’t tell you this, but any climate scientist will.

    We are not now choosing how many will survive, but if any will survive.

  20. With respect to market failure and the consistently false price signal generated for the natural environment….of course, before very long this will be reversed. Any act that results in negative changes to the chemistry of the atmosphere or the oceans will attract a price, which will manifest at first as tariffs on traded goods and services. The economies that operate at net-zero or net-negative emissions will be in a position to discriminate against net-positive emitting economies. They will. The net-zero/net-negative economies will be monetising their environmental contributions.

    This cannot be far away, as the atmosphere and oceans are already being disrupted and the means do exist for economies to become net-negative emitters. The strongest economy in this respect will be Germany, and soon to be followed by the UK, China and India.

    The US has already indicated it has no intention of becoming a net-zero emitter, in contrast to the EU economies. The EU will soon have every reason to shut down trade with the US. China may also choose the same route.

    Even though we are very large contributors to the emitting systems in the global economy, it is very much in our interests to become a net-zero or net-negative economy. This will be reflected in time in our currency and terms of trade with the rest of the world.

  21. zoomster says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Correct. The Fukushima plant was designed to survive earthquake and tsunami events. The actual earthquake and tsunami that hit the Fukushima plant exceeded the design tolerance by a significant magnitude. The fact that the disaster wasn’t significantly worse is a testament to the design and construction.

  22. we will hit 2.5-3.0-3.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century.

    It will be a disaster.

    Though on the other hand, the right-wingers are being intractable dicks on the matter and I’ll be dead by then anyways.

    So fuck it. Let the unrepentant capitalists on the right have their unchecked global warming, and see how much their precious money is worth to them when the planet is too warm for most things to survive.

  23. The Fukushima plant was located on a site that had been subject to a tsunami in the 19th century of greater severity than the one that destroyed it.

    It was a disaster in waiting. Tokyo Electric thought they might save some money on the engineering and build. This is absolutely normal business when it comes to environmental protection. No-one puts a price on the environment that is consistent with its irreplaceability.

  24. Bucephalus says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 10:38 pm
    Briefly,

    Your claim that China and India are on a pathway to that is a joke.

    They will get there a very long time before the US….a very long time.

  25. There is no technical reason for the global economy to be generating GHG. There are regulatory and contractual impediments to their reduction and elimination. But there are no intrinsic technical or engineering reasons for emissions to continue. These impediments should be removed.

  26. Don’t admit to the warming being locked in because then you are agreeing with Bjorn Lomborg and adaptation is the only sensible option.

  27. briefly @ #1435 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 10:46 pm

    There is no technical reason for the global economy to be generating GHG. There are regulatory and contractual impediments to their reduction and elimination. But there are no intrinsic technical or engineering reasons for emissions to continue. These impediments should be removed.

    I agree. But – being realistic – how long do you think this is going to take?

    My estimate would be 20 – 30 years.

    Do you think it could happen any faster?

  28. Who cares what Lomborg says. We have to do everything…mitigate, adapt, reduce, reverse…it is happening, of course. Even the LNP are taking action, though they will deny it.

    It will not be long before emitters are penalised by non-emitters. This is inevitable. The non-emitters will have a very great advantage. They know it. We need to rapidly transform from being an emitter to a non-emitter. This is an existential necessity and it will happen. The institutional mechanisms exist.

  29. Player One says:
    Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    That sort of unscientific hysteria is one of the reasons why AGW isn’t taken seriously by voters.

  30. Player One @ #1433 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 10:43 pm

    I will too.

    But my kids may not.

    And their kids almost certainly will not.

    I feel some degree of responsibility for them.

    Don’t you?

    Haven’t got any of those.

    Though I take personal responsibility for my carbon footprint. I’ve gone in on the solar panels and the batteries. The house hasn’t pulled a kWh from the grid since the batteries were installed (aside from the constant ~30W background load that nobody seems able to explain and that the batteries don’t detect; is it possible for CT-clamps to be miscalibrated?). As soon as someone gets an electric vehicle with reasonable range stats into Australia at a non-astronomical price-point I’ll buy one and charge it using only excess solar power from the roof.

    But I can’t be responsible for changing the minds of people who think science is a matter of “belief” or that action on global warming has to wait until it’s economical or until it won’t inconvenience anybody or that it isn’t already economical right fucking now. These people have chosen ignorance. If 50% + 1 of human beings make that choice, then fair enough. The species can have the outcome it deserves. Eventually the planet will be better off for it.

    Bucephalus @ #1442 Sunday, June 30th, 2019 – 10:58 pm

    That sort of unscientific hysteria is one of the reasons why AGW isn’t taken seriously by voters.

    It’s not unscientific.

    Adaptation happens on geologic timeframes. The current rate of human-induced warming is a hell of a lot faster than that.

  31. There was a horse called Bucephalus in an episode of Midsomer Murders I watched recently. Pronounced “Boo-sef-al-oos” (“oo” as in foot).

    Spoiler alert: the horse and several human characters didn’t survive the episide, but in the case of the horse, it wasn’t foul play.

  32. I think that we should treat the bleatings of the fossil fuel industry, their apologists and those that they have suborned with the same contempt that we treat the bleatings of the tobacco industry.

  33. My understanding of the Fukushima tsunami defense was the wall was a lot higher but the earthquake caused the land underneath to slip and thus reduced the actual height of the wall.

  34. Good news for Betoota.

    An outback ghost town is about to lose its title as Australia’s smallest town when it undergoes a population ‘explosion’.

    Betoota in far western Queensland is the town where no-one wants to live, with an official population of zero and only one building – the Betoota Hotel.

    Its single resident, the reclusive pub owner Simon Remienko, died in 2004 after running the joint for more than 40 years, and the dusty town has been empty since.

    It was officially Australia’s smallest town – and also the smallest in the world – by population size and building count.

    However in coming weeks, the town on a desert plain in channel country is expected to welcome fresh blood when the pub’s optimistic new owner moves in with his family and staff.

    The remote ghost town will undergo a revival of sorts, with between five and 10 new locals living and working in the historic Betoota Pub.

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/queensland/2019/06/29/betoota-hotel-smallest-town/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Sunday%20Best%20-%2020190630

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *