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. BK

    If anything should bring down a government, or at least the ministers in charge of this daylight robbery, this should. Now let’s see them all wash their hands of it. 😡

  2. lizzie @ #1653 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 5:34 pm

    BK

    If anything should bring down a government, or at least the ministers in charge of this daylight robbery, this should. Now let’s see them all wash their hands of it. 😡

    And I bet Leigh ‘Lettuce Leaf’ Sales doesn’t raise it with Scott ‘AA’ Morrison tonight on 7.30.

  3. Rex Douglas says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 4:19 pm
    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

    ______________________–

    Given that the government has a majority, how can Labor stop them? Or am I missing something?

  4. BK

    Unfortunately the MSM will largely ignore it rather than turn on their outrage furnaces to incinerate the careers of the arskeholes responsible. That treatment is reserved for great ‘villains’ like Dasytari .

  5. Buce, thank you for your observations on Savva – though she is quoting Keenan and others who provided the character references for Morrison.

    Donald Trump, who Morrison to some extent is trying to ape, suggested at the G20 that some countries should follow his lead out of the Paris Commitments. He chose 3 countries to approach, namely:

    Brazil – Balsanaro
    Turkey – Erdogan
    Australia – Morrison

    We wait the decision of these 3 to Trump’s urging. The ‘Axis of Assholes’ moniker is a play on Bush Jr’s moniker of ‘Axis of Evil’, and generally refers to Trump’s alliance with Kim, Putin and MSB – all of whom are known ‘assholes’.

    So the question is, should Australia led by Morrison join this extended Trump Axis?

  6. Could some kind person with a better memory than I have, tell me the names of the ministers who have been ‘in charge’ of Centrelink, for the last three Coalition periods? They’ll blame Labor for instigating the checks, but I’m pretty sure the real rip-offs have been under the Coalition.

  7. lizzie @ #1659 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:01 pm

    Could some kind person with a better memory than I have, tell me the names of the ministers who have been ‘in charge’ of Centrelink, for the last three Coalition periods? They’ll blame Labor for instigating the checks, but I’m pretty sure the real rip-offs have been under the Coalition.

    Christian Porter, Alan Tudge and Scott Morrison.


  8. Rex Douglas says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Fitzgibbon is rather unconvincing on Karvelas just now.

    If I was Albanese I’d watch my back.

    You I assume, are joking, Fitzgibbon would have close to zero support.

  9. Boerwar

    Albatrosses have been in trouble for a while for various reasons, but the seabird specialists who do those regular counts off the coasts must be very depressed now.

  10. Rex D

    Fitzgibbon is rather unconvincing on Karvelas just now.

    I thought he was hopeless, very muddled and not at all persuasive.

  11. Michael Keenan was a real estate agent and a wheeler and dealer in the WA Liberal Party before entering Parliament. He would know an ‘absolute arsehole’ from personal experience.

    What Keenan should have done, is taken the advice of this Stanford psychology professor..

    “The world is full of assholes. Wherever you live, whatever you do, odds are you’re surrounded by assholes. The question is, what to do about it?

    Robert Sutton, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has stepped up to answer this eternal question. He’s the author of a new book, The Asshole Survival Guide, which is basically what it sounds like: a guide for surviving the assholes in your life.

    In 2010, Sutton published The No Asshole Rule, which focused on dealing with assholes at an organizational level. In the new book, he offers a blueprint for managing assholes at the interpersonal level. If you’ve got an asshole boss, an asshole friend, or an asshole colleague, this book might be for you.

    Asshole survival, Sutton says, is a craft, not a science, meaning one can be good or bad at it. His book is about getting better at it.

    I sat down with him recently to talk about his strategies for dealing with assholes, what he means when he says we have to take responsibility for the assholes in our lives, and why he says self-awareness is key to recognizing that the asshole in your life may be you.

    “You have to know yourself, be honest about yourself, and rely on people around you to tell you when you’re being an asshole,” he told me. “And when they are kind enough to tell you, listen.”

    https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/9/26/16345476/stanford-psychologist-art-of-avoiding-assholes

  12. lizzie @ #1661 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:05 pm

    C@t

    What about Keenan??

    True:

    He was the Minister for Human Services and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation in the Morrison Government from 2017 until his retirement

    Didn’t he say once that he was just implementing a system that Morrison instituted?

  13. frednk @ #1663 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:06 pm


    Rex Douglas says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Fitzgibbon is rather unconvincing on Karvelas just now.

    If I was Albanese I’d watch my back.

    You I assume, are joking, Fitzgibbon would have close to zero support.

    It’s just Rex Douglas trying to be provocative. Based upon zero evidence.

  14. C@t

    Ah, yes. Digital Transformation. All the poor and the pensioners are struggling to cope with the digitised government services. Even the middle-aged secretary of a specialist clinic confessed that she never goes near YouGov.

  15. “Fitzgibbon is rather unconvincing on Karvelas just now.
    I thought he was hopeless, very muddled and not at all persuasive.”

    It warms the heart to think that he was preserved on the front bench in lieu of those hacks and flogs Ed Husic and Andrew Leigh.

  16. Andrew_Earlwood

    Nothing except a big ego, he’s been throwing his weight about a bit lately. I do wonder why he was picked by Albo.

  17. “Won’t be long until denial simply won’t work anymore.”
    Denial can last a few decades yet. The predicted global temp rise is about 0.15C per decade for the next two decades. After that it might take off. I’m 53 and I bet I’ll never see global CO2 emissions level off let alone reduce.

  18. lizzie @ #1670 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:23 pm

    C@t

    Ah, yes. Digital Transformation. All the poor and the pensioners are struggling to cope with the digitised government services. Even the middle-aged secretary of a specialist clinic confessed that she never goes near YouGov.

    Something else the Coalition have wrecked. In fact, the only thing they are good at is pumping up their own tyres.

  19. Sprocket,

    I think you are over egging the pudding describing a decision to leave the Paris Agreement as some sort of axis.
    At the moment it doesn’t appear the agreement is doing any measurable damage to our economy. If it does then that would be the time to leave. My understanding is that nothing is legally enforceable in relation to the agreement and commitments aren’t being checked in any independent or verifiable way.
    If the current Canadian polling is accurate it looks like Canada will soon have a conservative Federal Government who will kill off their carbon tax (but polling etc) .

  20. Ricky Gervais
    @rickygervais

    After studying science, philosophy, theology and socio economic history for many years, I have concluded that the big problem is that so many people are fucking stupid.

  21. Buce

    Trump is urging his perceived soulmates, Bolsanaro, Erdogan and Morrison to leave Paris. Why is he not arm twisting the other G20s with bigger economies? Like France, Germany and even the UK?

    Is it just that populists are seen as easy game for short term wins over longer term sustainment?

  22. Speaking of stupid, ABC News, after treating us to 10 minutes of Greg Jennett ‘analysing’ SFA, decides that a 0.1% rise in Sydney property prices constitutes a major news story.

  23. Why is he not arm twisting the other G20s with bigger economies? Like France, Germany and even the UK?

    France and Germany would tell him to naff off. He might find favour with Boris though.

  24. Nath, what do you think about Michael Keenan’s reference to Morrison as ‘an absolute arsehole’?

    Does this strike a chord with you?

  25. mikehilliard
    says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 7:24 pm
    nath
    I hope it’s not as crap as his OS or we’re doomed.
    ____________________
    Don’t think he’s involved in the design 🙂
    Just his wallet. He’s got Harvard scientists that can pull out a ton of carbon for $94. Previous best was $200 million.

  26. sprocket_
    says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 7:26 pm
    Nath, what do you think about Michael Keenan’s reference to Morrison as ‘an absolute arsehole’?
    Does this strike a chord with you?
    ________________________
    I’m not a fan of Morrison, although I have no particular personal dislike of the man.

  27. Nath, so would you support Morrison taking Australia into Trump’s ‘Axis of Assholes’?

    Shouldn’t we get a say on this?

  28. sprocket_
    says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 7:29 pm
    Nath, so would you support Morrison taking Australia into Trump’s ‘Axis of Assholes’?
    Shouldn’t we get a say on this?
    ______________________
    The less we have to do with U.S Republican Presidents the better. I’m not even sure about the Democratic ones.

  29. Lets be optimistic that the scientists can come up with a number of ways to beat global warming. Let’s not forget that 70 years ago very few people had indoor toilets. We can do this.

  30. Nath, so you would support geoengineering? What could possibly go wrong?

    Another great scientific idea is to install sun shades over the GBR. That’s what $444m of taxpayers money is going to under Morrison and his biblical denialists.

  31. Dan

    One of the weirder memes, IRL, was Ivanka and Jarred following Trump into North Korea – to cement the “Axis of Assholes” between the kleptocracy and the murderer.

  32. sprocket_ says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I’m not sure why you think I have a special insight into Trump’s thinking but France doesn’t have to do bugger all given their massive nuclear power supply. Germany try to give the impression of being green despite the reality of them increasing emissions. It’s not really that hard to work out why he doesn’t think they are worth asking.

  33. lizzie @ #1659 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:01 pm

    Could some kind person with a better memory than I have, tell me the names of the ministers who have been ‘in charge’ of Centrelink, for the last three Coalition periods? They’ll blame Labor for instigating the checks, but I’m pretty sure the real rip-offs have been under the Coalition.

    Tehan was at one stage. I contacted him to try and help my parents in Wannon who had a debt in relation to their pension that they could not understand.. Was very helpful, or at least one of his staffers was.

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