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. Buce phalus

    Are you comfortable with Scott Morrison being called an ‘absolute arsehole’ by his ministers?

    Should Leigh Sales question him on this revelation tonight? And should she question him on Trump’s invitation for Morrison to sign Australia up to the ‘Axis of Assholes’?

    Truly interested in your view.

  2. BK says: Monday, July 1, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    What can one say?

    ******************************************

    Sieg Hail my leader ?????

  3. Rex Douglas:

    [‘Given Morrisons ascension to the PMship and his subsequent election victory, there’s a strong argument that Labor should have moved earlier on Bill Shorten and installed Albanese to fight the election.’]

    I very much doubt that Albanese could’ve pulled it off. What I do think, though, is that Labor should’ve attacked Palmer far earlier than it did, and not armed with lettuce. It’s almost tragic to think that this country’s prime minister speaks in tongues, believes in the “Rapture.”

  4. According to todays reports, Leigh Sales will be doing something similar – talking to an “absolute arsehole”

    Cheek to cheek

  5. lizzie @ #1549 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 1:08 pm

    Kakuru

    I’m seriously worried, if the smug look indicates that Morrison believes that god is on his side, he will also believe that he is always right. That’s the way that dictators are made. Labor cannot relax for a moment.

    Too late. Labor is already looking relaxed and comfortable in their natural role of opposition.
    It’s the Labor way.

  6. Mavis Davis @ #1607 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 3:37 pm

    Rex Douglas:

    [‘Given Morrisons ascension to the PMship and his subsequent election victory, there’s a strong argument that Labor should have moved earlier on Bill Shorten and installed Albanese to fight the election.’]

    I very much doubt that Albanese could’ve pulled it off. What I do think, though, is that Labor should’ve attacked Palmer far earlier than it did, and not armed with lettuce. It’s almost tragic to think that this country’s prime minister speaks in tongues, believes in the “Rapture.”

    ‘armed with a lettuce’
    It’s the Labor way.

  7. Mavis Davis @ #1603 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 3:37 pm

    Rex Douglas:

    [‘Given Morrisons ascension to the PMship and his subsequent election victory, there’s a strong argument that Labor should have moved earlier on Bill Shorten and installed Albanese to fight the election.’]

    I very much doubt that Albanese could’ve pulled it off. …

    What do you base that on ?

  8. Heard this morning that Patrick will support the tax cut for gas relief. SHould be easy for an asshole to deliver the gas.

  9. mundo:

    [‘armed with a lettuce’

    It’s the Labor way.’]

    You’re probably right, but I guess we should hold judgment until we see what Albanese can achieve. I do hope he can find the mongrel in him.

  10. Dan Gulberry @ #1601 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 3:29 pm

    c@t

    Actually I’ll be watching the new show about Roger Ailes and the formation of the FoxNews channel called “The Loudest Voice In The Room”, starring Russell Crowe as Ailes. It premieres on Stan tonight. That’s of course after watching the latest episode of “Our Cartoon President”, also on Stan.

    Reality TV? Masterchef? 730? Never heard of ’em.

    Now that my son is working he decided to buy a Smart OLED TV last week. So I might get Stan. I’ve heard it’s the best of the bunch of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Foxtel.

  11. Your penalty rates are being cut between 10% and 15% TODAY while Scott Morrison gets a $10,000 pay rise.These cuts will cost workers in the retail sector alone $1.64 billion in lost wages. The @Greens will do everything we can to reverse them #auspolhttps://t.co/b1DoDx6Zqu— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) July 1, 2019

    The #Greens were the first to push to overturn penalty rate cuts & we’ll keep fighting to lift wages & make Australia more equal. https://t.co/LhEX55i3PK— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) July 1, 2019

  12. Rex Douglas:

    [‘What do you base that on?’]

    On the basis that Labor’s tax policies, though well-based, were not prosecuted well.

  13. “The chickens are coming home to roost for Sth Australian voters with the privatisation of their tram and train business.”
    The buses are already. Aren’t Melbournes teams and trains privatised?

  14. Diogenes @ #1617 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 3:48 pm

    “The chickens are coming home to roost for Sth Australian voters with the privatisation of their tram and train business.”
    The buses are already. Aren’t Melbournes teams and trains privatised?

    Yes, a regrettable legacy of Jeff Kennett and subsequent Govts.

  15. From Savva’s book.
    “On the Friday Morrison became prime minister, he told his receptionist, Mel, to text his family and ask them to pray for him. Before he left the office, he prayed with his colleague and friend Stuart Robert. Savva asked Robert to tell her how they passed that time alone. “We prayed that righteousness would exalt the nation,” Roberts said. Savva asked Robert if righteousness would manifest itself in the form of a Morrison victory? “Righteousness would mean the right person had won,” Robert replied.”
    —–
    And these are grown men?

  16. Expletive deleted!
    Simon Birmingham is on Karvelas again this afternoon.
    Will he be trying to play down the revelations in Savva’s book?

  17. This is one view.

    @AaronDodd
    3h3 hours ago

    Read between the lines #auspol. Libs did not expect to win the election and thus did not expect to have to actually deliver on their promises of a surplus AND tax cuts. Now they don’t actually want to deliver the cuts and this ongoing blame Labor rhetoric is their escape clause.

  18. lizzie @ #1630 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 4:02 pm

    This is one view.

    @AaronDodd
    3h3 hours ago

    Read between the lines #auspol. Libs did not expect to win the election and thus did not expect to have to actually deliver on their promises of a surplus AND tax cuts. Now they don’t actually want to deliver the cuts and this ongoing blame Labor rhetoric is their escape clause.

    I read that they WILL be able to do both as a result of a surge in Iron Ore receipts.

  19. The surge in iron ore and other minerals is not continually sustainable to form the basis of a 10 year tax policy.

    We still have a 600 billion dollar debt!

  20. Bevan Shields@BevanShields
    4m4 minutes ago

    Labor has decided to support a new parliamentary committee to examine press freedom but does not want the inquiry to include an examination of Australia’s defamation laws #auspol

  21. David Speers reporting on Sky that Labor WILL allow Govt's tax cut plan to pass through the House, even with their amendments being voted down. Stage set for a Senate showdown later this week #auspol— Thomas O'Brien (@TJ__OBrien) July 1, 2019

  22. I was just reading this Dana Milbank article in The Washington Post:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-economy-house-of-cards-collapses/2019/06/21/00412398-9429-11e9-aadb-74e6b2b46f6a_story.html?utm_term=.41b668690241

    Apparently, if you listen to people who still tell the truth in Trump’s America, the US will be in Recession by the end of next year and it will be longer and deeper than usual because they don’t have many fiscal tools left to deal with it quickly. And if the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold, so with Australia also not having much in the way of room to move with interest rate cuts, we will probably follow.

    Won’t those massive tax cuts look like fools gold then?

  23. lizzie,
    If you ever want to read The Washington Post I get a free 30 day subscription to give to someone every month. 🙂

  24. That’s a sweet offer, C@t, but I’m truly not involved enough in American politics. Perhaps someone else is interested. 🙂

  25. Apparently, if you listen to people who still tell the truth in Trump’s America, the US will be in Recession by the end of next year

    There have been murmurings for a month or so. Several media outlets have been reporting it.

    But I am always suspicious of business leaders and economists warning of such things. Some are Henny Pennies. Some want to be able to claim they were the first to spot it. Some of it is fear-lobbying. I am not clever enough to separate the seed from the chaff – and I reckon neither is most of the stock market.

  26. 20 years ago we relied economically on the USA.

    Now we rely on Asia:

    China: US$74 billion (29.2% of total Australian exports)
    Japan: $26.2 billion (10.3%)
    South Korea: $13.6 billion (5.4%)
    India: $10.1 billion (4%)
    United States: $9.2 billion (3.6%)
    Hong Kong: $7.9 billion (3.1%)
    New Zealand: $7.1 billion (2.8%)
    Taiwan: $6.7 billion (2.6%)
    Singapore: $4.9 billion (1.9%)
    Thailand: $4.8 billion (1.9%)
    Malaysia: $4.5 billion (1.8%)
    Indonesia: $4.3 billion (1.7%)
    Vietnam: $3.7 billion (1.5%)
    United Kingdom: $3.6 billion (1.4%)
    Netherlands: $2.2 billion (0.9%)

  27. Simon² Katich® @ #1644 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 4:46 pm

    Apparently, if you listen to people who still tell the truth in Trump’s America, the US will be in Recession by the end of next year

    There have been murmurings for a month or so. Several media outlets have been reporting it.

    But I am always suspicious of business leaders and economists warning of such things. Some are Henny Pennies. Some want to be able to claim they were the first to spot it. Some of it is fear-lobbying. I am not clever enough to separate the seed from the chaff – and I reckon neither is most of the stock market.

    I go by the observation that, if there’s one thing Trump knows how to do, it’s go bankrupt. Doing it to America? I don’t think he’ll find that too high a hurdle to jump. 😀

  28. sprocket_ says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    “Buce phalus

    Are you comfortable with Scott Morrison being called an ‘absolute arsehole’ by his ministers?”

    Savva is a personal friend and supporter of Turnbull’s. Her husband worked for him for many years. She actively campaigned against Abbott and is now seeking payback and publicity. I doubt her claims have been independently and publicly verified. That said, politics isn’t the the school yard. I’ve worked for bosses who I didn’t personally like. Most have at some stage. Why anyone would be surprised at this, if true, and why it is news except to sell a book is beyond me. It would be more news worthy if everyone in a political party got on really well and were all best mates – that would be weird and possibly unhealthy for the battle of ideas.

    “Should Leigh Sales question him on this revelation tonight?”

    No, Australian Voters want to know what he is doing and going to do.

    ” And should she question him on Trump’s invitation for Morrison to sign Australia up to the ‘Axis of Assholes’?”

    I don;t understand this question – what are you referring to?

    “Truly interested in your view.”

    You have it.

    Regards

    B

  29. I didn’t notice this from earlier in the day:

    Welcome to Canberra
    “Dhawra nguna dhawra Ngunnawal. Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunnawal dhawra. Wanggarralijinyin mariny balan bugarabang.”

    Governor-General David Hurley, sworn in at Parliament House this morning, acknowledges country in the language of traditional owners the Ngunnawal people.

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