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

    As a close follower of Canadian trends in climate Change action, you must be shattered at these recent developments..

    “The provincial premiers who took Ottawa to court over the carbon tax have seen it blow up in their faces.

    Just look at what Ontario’s Court of Appeal said on Friday, in crisp legal prose, and in black and white. First, the federal government’s carbon-levy “backstop” is perfectly within Ottawa’s jurisdiction. And second, it’s not a tax – it is a regulatory charge tied to the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG.)

    The Ontario court didn’t just smack back the challenge presented by Premier Doug Ford’s government, it wrote its opinion in paragraphs that could be lifted and inserted into the federal Liberals’ social-media ads. And probably will be.”

  2. sprocket_
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 7:37 pm
    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.
    well it needs to be thought out by people smarter than the both of us I reckon!

  3. Sales asks the rhetorical question “what would be the response if Folau had said ‘Jews are going to Hell’”

    Um… unless things have changed Catholic dogma is that all Jews are going to Hell. In fact anyone who isn’t baptised as a Catholic and reached the age of reason is going to Hell. This includes ScoMo

  4. Oakeshott Country @ #1706 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 7:54 pm

    Sales asks the rhetorical question “what would be the response if Folau had said ‘Jews are going to Hell’”

    Um… unless things have changed Catholic dogma is that all Jews are going to Hell. In fact anyone who isn’t baptised as a Catholic and reached the age of reason is going to Hell. This includes ScoMo

    Umm, since neither Scomo or Falou is catholic, I don’t think catholic dogma would enter their minds.

  5. But they’re still going to Hell
    My point was that a significant part of the population believe a proposition that Sales finds highly offensive

    Btw Jews don’t believe in Hell, it a legacy of Roman Paganism picked up by Christianity
    Evangelicals tend to think of Catholics as Idolators and the Pope as the 7 horned Beast of Babylon

  6. OC

    Catholic dogma in our fair land has atrophied IMHO.

    For example in my recent visit to Poland, which coincided with Corpus Christi, the locals had streamers and banners festooned everywhere the eye could see, and on closer inspection, the small and not so small shrines on just about every corner of town contained a Madonna and child, with fresh flowers, candles and other offerings. Apart from the somewhat incongruent onion domes on the churches, these humble citizens were living their religion, at least as far as outward display was concerned.

  7. Oakeshott Country @ #1703 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 5:54 pm

    Sales asks the rhetorical question “what would be the response if Folau had said ‘Jews are going to Hell’”

    Um… unless things have changed Catholic dogma is that all Jews are going to Hell. In fact anyone who isn’t baptised and reached the age of reason is going to Hell

    I don’t see why that matters. Surely Sales was trying to show Morrison’s hypocrisy.

  8. Oakshott Country

    I do not know if you are joking or being malevolent but Catholic theology does not say nor has ever said that all Jews are going to hell.

    You need to refine your bigotry, mate.

  9. If Scott Morrison is being described as an “absolute arsehole”, does that mean we will have the rump parliament sitting tomorrow?

  10. swamprat says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Oakshott Country
    I do not know if you are joking or being malevolent but Catholic theology does not say nor has ever said that all Jews are going to hell.
    You need to refine your bigotry, mate.
    That’s interesting because there has been a few Catholic leaders who seemed to think that jewish people were and needed to be made convert but then again kings and queens often had other motivations.

  11. ‘swamprat says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Oakshott Country

    I do not know if you are joking or being malevolent but Catholic theology does not say nor has ever said that all Jews are going to hell.’

    It has varied over time. For a while the RC reserved Limbo for souls who had not heard of the word of God and who had therefore not had a chance at being saved. Not fair. But now Limbo has been discontinued.

    Jews per se do not necessarily go to hell. Jews who love God but under the wrong flag are in with a show. But Jews who abjure God altogether are playing with fire.

  12. Hades didn’t exist in Paganism? I learn something every day

    Christ spoke of Hell – He must have got the idea from some German tourists

  13. Oakeshott Country says:
    Monday, July 1, 2019 at 8:16 pm
    “let his blood be upon us and our descendants” isn’t that the biblical account?

  14. Oakshott Country

    The liturgical prayers that you refer to were about “conversion”, not about jews going to “hell”. They do not support your assertion.

  15. Question for Lars Van Trier

    Do you think it was unprofessional for Minister Keenan to refer to Scott Morrison as ‘an absolute arsehole’? Do you think this is why he quit?

  16. Yes, as I was raised as a Tridentine (but not a Sede Vacante, I hasten to add) I have difficuty staying in touch with Catholic-Lite. No Limbo! Next they will be denying a Purgatory

  17. Happy clappers don’t do refined theology so Morrison’s political instinct is that it is well worth feeding the persecution complex embodied in many a christian.

    But, but, but… as Sales’ question shows, a political morass will appear the nanosecond they try to put it into legislation. Because that is when the rubber will hit the road.

    They were smart enough to get it all bubbling before the election while making sure it was not resolved. The Left went for it with glee and it was politically self-defeating.

    Not to worry. It has been resolved in Alabama. And the logical conclusion beckons for Australian christians as well: knitting needles in backyards for the poor and hurried plane trips o/s for the wealthy.

  18. OC
    While Jewish beliefs about heaven vary, but one lot believe in seven heavens from which we presumably get being in a ‘seventh heaven’.

  19. But conversion means extinction of Judaeism

    is your argument about the word ‘Hell’ having a Germanic root? Certainly in most translations Christ’s views on the place of torment is given as Hades

  20. LVT
    Indeed: Matthew 27
    So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

    Mel Gibson is one of the few left who keep the old faith

  21. Oakshott Country

    Hades was the Roman term for the abode of the dead, similar to Hel or Hell in Germanic languages, e.g. in English. But they were not conceptually the same as, e.g. the Inferno by Dante.

    Jesus used the word Gehenna. Translated into the English word hell.

    Theologically speaking “hell” is a place of chosen separation from God.

    In practice while the Catholic Church identifies that certain souls are in “heaven”, i.e. the saints, it never identifies any individual is in “hell”.

  22. The Pius X Society are wimps who came to some sort of accommadation with Anti-pope Ratzinger
    Sede Vacante has existed since Pius X died from apoplexy after insulting the Austro-Hungarian ambassador in 1914

  23. LVT
    None that I have heard of (but then why would I). I always felt sorry for the one Paul VI (I think) held in pectorum but forgot to tell anyone before he died. I have visions of the poor bugger having the red hat in his closet but never able to bring it out.

  24. Diogenes @ #1671 Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 6:34 pm

    “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.

    The problem is that the climate is not a linear system. It is chaotic (in the mathematical sense).

    Long before the average temperature rises anywhere near the “locked in” 3 or 4 degrees, we will see climatic catastrophes on an unprecedented scale. The amount of additional energy the biosphere is absorbing is quite literally astronomical. And we are already seeing the first undeniable consequences of it – what is happening here, in Europe and in the Americas right now is not “normal” 🙁

  25. Tonight’s Qanda panel. Hopefully Greg Day is more ordinary Australian and less known activist and political player, but am not holding out much hope.

    Coming Up: Monday,1 July
    James Paterson, Liberal Senator for Victoria

    Clare O’Neil, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and the Future of Work

    Jamila Rizvi, Writer, Speaker and Broadcaster

    Grace Kelly, Industrial Relations Commentator

    Greg Day, People’s Panellist

  26. Thank you LVT, I confess I was unaware of the blessed news that the SPXS is consecrating Bishops with or without the consent of those who usurp the seat of Peter. The comments section shows a health disdain for the anti-papacy

  27. Of course Archbishop Fellay who was ordained by Archbishop Lefebrve who voted for the one true Pope , Cardinal Ottaviani in 1958 ( who was forced by a vow of secrecy in the conclave to forfeit his election – hence the sede vacante).

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