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. Bucephalus:

    [‘I’m not seeking martyrdom – just pointing out the hypocrisy of those who claim that they are against “hate speech”.’]

    I haven’t seen any hate speech directed at you. The worst I’ve seen is you being referred to as “horseshit”. If that’s hate speech, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Just ask, for example, young gays & lesbians (and not so young) about their interpretation of hate speech – and worse. You need to toughen up.

  2. Speaking of Father Rod Bower. He’s getting behind the fundraising effort that Magda Szubanski has started:

    Two high-profile Christian leaders say they are backing comedian Magda Szubanski’s campaign for terminally ill children in a bid to denounce causes that use faith to divide communities.

    Donors had pledged around $170,000 by Thursday morning to Szubanski’s cause, but it was a paltry amount compared to the millions given to the Australian Christian Lobby’s war chest for Israel Folau.

    The Kath & Kim star and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate launched the fundraiser on Tuesday to raise $500,000 to help children who are “in the fight of their lives” – quoting the exact phrase that Mr Folau used when describing his grab for cash to fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia.

    High-profile Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire is among the supporters of the counter-campaign, along with Anglican priest Father Rod Bower who on Monday changed his parish’s community sign to read: “LGBT friends: Folau is wrong. Don’t listen to him”.

    Here’s the link to the fundraising page if you want to donate:

  3. Again Folau is a Christian not a Jew. He is not obliged to follow the Mosaic law of Leviticus. The implication of that cartoon is offensive

  4. Oakeshott Country @ #304 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 3:40 pm

    Again Folau is a Christian not a Jew. He is not obliged to follow the Mosaic law of Leviticus. The implication of that cartoon is offensive

    He is an Evangelical Christian. They have co-opted and co-operated with the Jews in order to facilitate their End Times narrative.

    So, good enough for me.

  5. Pegasus says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    We have a virtual one-Party system at the Federal level.
    Of course, if the great ALP was to be in power for a few decades you would be more than happy for a one-Party system.

    In fact, much of what you argue for, re the Greens party in particular, is implicitly undemocratic.

    I argue the case that the Greens, by virtue of their campaigns, are Lib-like. They are Irregulars in their efforts to thwart Labor. I don’t know how the making of these claims is undemocratic.

    I call for greater efforts to distance Labor from the Greens and for their electoral support to one challenged. Is this undemocratic? It is no more than the Greens themselves attempt. I am unequivocal about this. The Greens are not proxies for Labor. They are among the voices that oppose Labor.

    I am a democrat, Peg. For whatever reason you seem to want to depict me some other way. This is merely another minor example of the Green campaign against Labor and against voices that are friendly to Labor.

  6. No idea what that means.

    I am also getting confused by Rev. Bower. I am guessing he has become Christian-Lite; picking the bits he likes and rejecting the rest. A weak response.
    I reject Christianty because it is illogical, absolutist system of thought; follow the rules or you go to Hell not just for gays but for adulterers, thieves and 600 other varieties of people. There is very little wriggle room.
    Come on Rod, make a logical decision and become a humanist

  7. It’s certainly the case that a lot of worksites in the Pilbara are not unionised, so it can hardly be true that “unions priced workers out of jobs”.

    Investment is supposedly an instrument that will lead to new job creation. In the case of investments in automation, the result is the destruction of jobs. So really, investment is not about jobs. It is about capital. The creation, destruction or re-constitution of the labour force is just incidental to investment in nearly all cases.

    Higher capital intensity will lead to higher incomes, as a general rule. This is the reason that capital is deployed in the first place. This is not in dispute. The dispute is about the distribution of that higher income. For about 35 years after WW2, increased capital intensity in industrial economies led to higher incomes that were reflected in higher real wages. The allocative measures in place determined that. Now we have allocative measures that deprive labour of the benefits of increased capital intensity in production.

    A lot of investment is aimed at excluding labour from the economy. This is a form of labour repression.

  8. Morrison was noteworthy for the way in which he avoided international affairs like the plague before the election.
    But now he is busy strutting the world’s stage like some latter day Comical Ali.
    And also demonstrating why he was right to stay out of international affairs before the election.
    I was particularly intrigued to observe that he is now instructing the leaders of the two biggest economies in the world, a couple of vicious nobodies called Xi and Donald, to behave themselves.
    His other major intervention was to caution an (unnamed) China about ‘coercive action’ and threatening that Australia will join in coercive action against Iran.
    I am 100% certain that this will fix China’s and America’s propensities to damage other peoples’ economies and to create mass misery in order to win some point or other.
    Brain dead stuff but what can you expect from a gang of corrupt, venal, thieving, incompetent and brutal thugs?

  9. Oakeshott Country @ #304 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 3:40 pm

    Again Folau is a Christian not a Jew. He is not obliged to follow the Mosaic law of Leviticus.

    Well isn’t that convenient.

    If Christians can throw away rules about dietary restrictions and whatnot, they can do the same with whatever rule it is that says they need to publicly condemn the gays.

  10. OC

    To be fair, if you actually look at what Christ says, it’s pretty benign. You’re not supposed to judge anyone else, that’s God’s job. You’re simply supposed to love everyone – and that’s a hard ask.

    So no ‘Christian’ should be telling others they’re going to hell. Christ was pretty clear, too, that a lot of people who thought they were following him actually weren’t, and people who thought they had rejected him really hadn’t – in other words, some “Christians’ are going to find themselves merrily crisping on the eternal BBQ whilst some of those they condemned will be playing the harps.

  11. Have Bucephalus, Rex or Nath calculated just how much tax Morrison is going save for himself with his tax cuts?
    Nice little earner.
    Did he declare he had a conflict of interest and remove himself from the Party Room decision on the legislation?

  12. Bernie Sanders and the ‘B’ Team:
    “the Democratic Party is a capitalist and imperialist party, not a labor party rooted in unions like that led by Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.
    It is tightly controlled by a bureaucracy and elected officials, both of which depend on the bosses for funding. That does not mean it is no different than the Republican Party, which has historically been the capitalists’ “A Team” that openly serves their interests and espouses conservatism.
    The Democrats are the ruling class’s liberal “B Team” that appeals to workers and oppressed groups by promising change within the system. Capitalists send them onto the field only when the “A Team” has played badly and are in danger of losing.”

  13. I once heard a rabbi explain that the OT rules are along the lines of “Well, can you at least try and do these things??”

    Jews do seem to be far less literal about the various commandments than fundie Christians. During the ME debate, for example, I heard someone described as a ‘fundamentalist rabbi’ pointing out that there are over 600 commandments, no one can be expected to follow all of them, and it’s not up to any mere mortal to judge whether homosexuality is worse than wearing two different kinds of fabric. He seemed to think that the idea of a forgiving God was sort of a must.

  14. Loving others as you love yourself is an impossible goal. Apart from family of course. Therefore humans will always fail at this endeavour and require forgiveness. Love thy neighbour is the most notable of these deformities. with apologies to C Hitchens.

  15. AR
    Not at all – the Mosaic law was designed to be race specific (is Judaeism a race or a religion). Jews who become Christians must still follow Mosaic law but non-Jew Christians don’t. SDAs and JWs don’t agree with this dispensation

  16. a r says:
    Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    She wasn’t forced to leave by the government or extradited – she chose to leave.
    She claims she was threatened – if she was then she should have passed the information to the Police had them deal with it.

  17. Simon² Katich®
    Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 2:13 pm
    Comment #244

    He could just have politely nodded to Starc in admiration. Or he could have walked off without being a drama queen. But nope. Stokes will be Stokes. Seems unfair that such a character can be so talented.

    Having just woken from a deep dream of peace I come refreshed to comment on William’s thread concerning (one moment while I have a peek )- summat abart Foreign Affairs and Senate something.

    I have never had a foreign affair – why just yesterday while chatting with the previously mentioned lovely nurse(she working – me talking rubbish) the subject of Emails arose and quite naturally I thought immediately to state that I long for such an item to arrive requesting my bank details in exchange for a Nigerian Princess.

    Searching for some light entertainment I note Lizzie’s anguish because of a lack of a suitable icon – I am unsure as to whether that item should be for the multidirectional defense or an icon for admiration. For the defense – perhaps 🤺 or ⚔ and for admiration – perhaps just a ✔ tick ✔ of approval.

    Now then – about the talented -quite recently in my search for entertainment via TV I came across a movie (picture to we old codgers) entitled “Their Finest”.

    Mr. Bill Nighy gave a very impressive performance as a self obsessed has been actor and outdid himself when (as his character) he allowed himself to be oh so reluctantly persuaded to sing with piano accompaniment. He shyly began to sing Will You Go, Lassie, Go.

    In conclusion – I have no idea whether or no Mr. Bill Nighy plays cricket – but I would not be surprised to learn that he is a top opening bat, magnificent fielder and excellent strike bowler – I am starting to hate him (in the nicest possible way, of course).

    I know SFA about Senate Preferences lest anybody should be confused in this regard. 😇☕

  18. You must do much more than love your neighbour.
    John 6:54
    Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day

    I had a JW come around just before Good Friday, who in anew approach invited me to a “memorial service” for Jesus. I said I already had an appointment to drink his blood. She left

  19. From the Editor of the Age.

    We have around a dozen more journalists on staff than we had this time last year. We have an excellent group of trainees and are employing several new production staff over the next few weeks.

    Doesn’t sound like a dying business to me.

  20. Wasn’t it the nasty piece of work, Leviticus, that Folau was referencing with his offensive Instagram post? Or, the Mosaic Law of Leviticus, as some would have it. So, if he is relying on Leviticus, but shouldn’t reference him because he isn’t Jewish but a Christian, doesn’t that make the point he was trying to make with the post moot?

    Also, I think this point is emblematic of so much about the Christian religions. They can be hypocrites and devout believers, all at once!

  21. Lily D’Ambrosio MP@LilyDAmbrosioMP
    4h4 hours ago

    This morning @ZoosVictoria launched their new Wildlife Conservation Master Plan and we announced $3m to help them kickstart it. Albus the Maremma guardian dog – who helps protect the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot – was obviously very excited by this news


    Does anyone on PB have any experience with Maremmas?

  22. If Leviticus and the whole of Mosaic law are irrelevant to Christianity then why is the Old Testament included in the Christian Bible?

    Follow up question – If Leviticus and the whole of Mosiac Law is irrelevant to Christianity then why do Christian Fundamentalists continually quote those laws when they try and impose their Talibanesque view of the world on everyone else?

  23. lizzie @ #332 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 4:29 pm

    From the Editor of the Age.

    We have around a dozen more journalists on staff than we had this time last year. We have an excellent group of trainees and are employing several new production staff over the next few weeks.

    Doesn’t sound like a dying business to me.

    The sales drop is considerable but not yet catastrophic. 😎

  24. SDAs and JWs are Torah observant – JWs more so than most Jews Re blood transfusion.
    Aquinas summed up the Catholic view. This version from Wikipedia
    There are three types of biblical precepts: moral, ceremonial, and judicial. Moral precepts are permanent, having held even before the Law was given, since they are part of the law of nature.[2] Ceremonial precepts (the “ceremonial law”, dealing with forms of worshipping God and with ritual cleanness) and judicial precepts (such as those in Exodus 21[3]) came into existence only with the Law of Moses[4] and were only temporary. The ceremonial commands were “ordained to the Divine worship for that particular time and to the foreshadowing of Christ”.[5] Accordingly, upon the coming of Christ they ceased to bind,[6] and to observe them now would be equivalent to declaring falsely that Christ has not yet come, for Christians a mortal sin.[7]

    Catholics do not treat the Old Testament literally but as a background to the new covenant

  25. Buce,

    just on this thread alone there are false claims that we are Fascists and Racists.

    Homosexuals have 2.5 times the suicide rate of heterosexuals. Get that? Denigrated to the extent they suicide, just for being something that doesnt hurt anyone.

    I would never send you to the fruit and veg shop for apples. You would come back with orangutans.

  26. Nicholas is not quite right in saying the existence of a current account deficit is non-inflationary in the domestic economy

    Yes, a current account deficit is a net demand drain out of the domestic private sector. It creates more fiscal space for the federal government to spend on its social and economic agenda. It is one of the reasons why Labor should not be promising any controversial tax increases and spending cuts. They don’t need to. There is ample spare capacity in the economy at present. The government ought to be increasing the deficit, not offsetting new spending with tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. Right now I would only propose tax increases and spending cuts that are uncontroversial. I would save controversial tax proposals for the second term.

    A nation’s current account comprises its trade account and its income account.

    The trade account refers to flows of goods and services.

    The income account refers to flows of payments that are factors of production (factor payments). There are four kinds of factor payments: wages, rent, interest, and profits.

    Australia actually has a small trade surplus. That means that we sell slightly more goods and services to the rest of the world than the rest of the world sells to us.

    But Australia has an income deficit that more than offsets our small trade surplus, giving us a current account deficit overall. What this means is that people in Australia send more wages, rent, interest, and profits to the rest of the world than the rest of the world sends to Australia.

    The reason why there are four factor payments is that there are four main factors of production in a monetary production economy. These are workers, land, capital, and capitalists.

    Workers earn wages.

    Land earns rent.

    Capital earns interest.

    Capitalists earn profits.

  27. lizzie
    Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 4:34 pm
    Comment #334

    Does anyone on PB have any experience with Maremmas?

    What beautiful creatures. If I had a pair of those I could dispense with my electric blanket, forget about my mowing exercise program and parade the neighborhood to the admiration of the many, many dog walkers.🐕🐕🐕🐕

  28. zoomster @ #340 Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 2:46 pm


    It’s meant to be there out of historical interest – so that Christians can see that Christ was the Messiah prophesized.

    A claim disputed by the Jews. In fact he was only determined to be the messiah after the Council Of Nicaea declared him as such at the same time they decided which “gospels” were to be included in the Bible.

    Anyway, that still doesn’t answer the follow up question.

    What a tangled web.

    Edited to add – obviously that’s having a go at them, not you.

  29. This is for Bucephalus, who doesn’t believe it’s correct.

    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.

    It states that for 18 months after they leave office, former ministers “will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the Government … on any matters on which they have had official dealings as minister”.

    It also says ministers cannot “take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a minister, where that information is not generally available to the public”.

    “I think what he’s done does breach the code and I think this becomes a test for the Prime Minister,” Senator Patrick told AM.

    “It becomes a test for his conviction towards his own statement of ministerial standards.

    “It’s inappropriate and it doesn’t pass the pub test.”

  30. Oakeshott Country

    I reject Christianty because it is illogical, absolutist system of thought; follow the rules or you go to Hell not just for gays but for adulterers, thieves and 600 other varieties of people. There is very little wriggle room.

    I’m not sure if it’s wriggle room or wiggle room, but in either case the Christian theory of salvation (in all of its variants) is defined by an infinite quantity of wiggle room…

  31. lizzie
    I was part of a team that was visiting farms to do bird surveys. Our instructions were to go through a certain gate and then go into the paddock… etc, etc, etc.
    When we got there the gate was shut and there was a flock of sheep in the paddock. Plus the resident Maremma.
    I wasn’t driving and normally it would have been my job to hop out and open and shut the gate…
    No effin way. That Maremma would have taken me to pieces.
    We had to drive around to find the farmer to get him to hold the Maremma until we completed the survey.
    He thought it was very funny.
    He told us that the week before a carload of people had a puncture just outside the paddock but could get out of the car to change the tyres. Because of said Maremma.
    The farmer thought that THAT was funny as well.
    IMO in terms of fit for purpose, they are excellent dogs.

  32. The Right are not so much interested in free speech per se. They want to assert a right to persecute and/or to objectify. This is inherently political expression. It is intended to serve campaigning purposes – purposes that include the ‘defeat’ of their targets/their own aggrandisement. Their goals amount to a counter-reformation. Speech will only be defended by them if it serves reactionary values and totems.

    We need emancipation. But the voices for emancipation will be denounced and then exiled (Yassmin Abdel-Maggied) or humiliated (Adam Goodes). Voices for repression will be venerated and mythologised (Israel Folau, Andrew Bolt).

    There is something tragic in all this. We know where it leads but cannot resist joining the throngs. The National Socialists in ON complain that their free speech is threatened because their bigotry is challenged. The would-be persecutors martyr themselves.

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