So much trouble in the world

Upheaval in conservative politics in New South Wales over abortion law; a pickle for Labor in Tasmania over a vacancy in state parliament; and suggestions of a looming state by-election in Victoria.

In New South Wales:

A row over a bill to decriminalise abortion is prompting murmurings about Gladys Berejiklian’s leadership just five months after she led the Coalition to an impressive election victory, with tremors that are being felt federally. The bill was introduced by independent MP Alex Greenwich, but its sponsors included the Berejiklian government’s Health Minister, Brad Hazzard. It was headed last week for passage through both houses of parliament, before Berejiklian bowed to conservative outrage by pushing back the final vote in the upper house by nearly a month. Claiming credit for this concession is Barnaby Joyce, whose high-profile interventions have angered his state Nationals colleagues, most of whom support the bill (prompting Mark Latham, who now holds a crucial upper house vote as a member of One Nation, to tar the party with the cultural Marxist brush). Following suggestions the party room had discussed expelling him from the party, Joyce said he would go of his own accord if four of them publicly called for him to do so. It doesn’t appear that is going to happen, but if it did, the government would be reduced from 77 seats in the House of Representatives out of 151, costing it its absolute majority on the floor.

In Tasmania:

Labor MP Scott Bacon’s decision to end his state parliamentary career, citing family reasons, represents an unwelcome turn of events for an already understaffed state opposition, owing to the manner in which parliamentary vacancies are filled under Hare-Clark. This will involve a “recount” (as officially known, though “countback” is the generally preferred term for such procedures) of the votes that got Bacon elected to his seat in Denison (which is now called Clark), either as first or subsequent preferences. The procedure is open to any unsuccessful candidates from the previous election who care to nominate, among whom is Madeleine Ogilvie, a former incumbent who was defeated in 2018 – possibly because progressive sentiment had been alienated by her social conservatism.

The problem for Labor is that Ogilvie has since parted company with the party, to the extent of running as an independent for an upper house seat in May. If she wins the recount, and no reconciliation with the party is forthcoming, there will be nothing to stop her sitting as an independent, reducing Labor from ten seats to nine in a chamber of 25. As explained by Kevin Bonham, we can see from the 2018 results that this will produce a “first preference” count in which 33.1% of the vote goes to Madeleine Ogilvie and 28.4% to Tim Cox, a former ABC Radio presenter who ran unsuccessfully, and has confirmed he will nominate for the recount. More than half the remainder went to candidates who are not in contention because they’re already in parliament, so it will assuredly be one or the other.

In Victoria:

John Ferguson of The Australian reports the Liberals have been conducting internal polling for former party leader Matthew Guy’s seat of Bulleen, prompting speculation he will shortly quit parliament. The Liberals retained the seat with a 5.8% margin even amid the debacle of last November’s election, and the polling is “believed to show the Liberal brand holding up”.

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.

2,112 comments on “So much trouble in the world”

  1. Andrew_Earlwood says:
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Just because you don’t like it and you don’t understand how the system works doesn’t make you right.

    It’s nothing to do with the Monarch what the political reasoning is underlying the decision.

    Until there is a successful No Confidence Motion the Monarch has no basis to act against the current PM.

  2. @Rex: Quoting your snide attacks is not the same as agreeing with them, you dolt. Don’t be so pathetic – a high bar for you, but one I hope you’ll at least attempt to clear.

    @Bucephalus: Other than three days next week – not much time for opposition to line up their ducks – there is no opportunity for Parliament to pass a vote of no-confidence until after hard Brexit kicks in. And certainly no time to put forward a comprehensive, ratfucking-immune bill that requires BoJo to hold off a no-deal Brexit, because anything less he’ll simply ignore.

    What a fortunate coincidence, then, that such a vote is needed before anyone can say “Boo!” to BoJo.

  3. Bucephalus @ #1851 Thursday, August 29th, 2019 – 4:56 pm

    Andrew_Earlwood says:
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Just because you don’t like it and you don’t understand how the system works doesn’t make you right.

    It’s nothing to do with the Monarch what the political reasoning is underlying the decision.

    Until there is a successful No Confidence Motion the Monarch has no basis to act against the current PM.

    I think that’s a pretty fair summary. There’s nothing wrong in the process followed by Johnson and his cronies. I’d say it’s barely legal and probably pushing the boundaries of accepted convention. But,
    the Queen only needs to follow the advice she’s given at this stage.

    The question is whether the Remainers can get their act long enough to force a motion rescinding the No deal Brexit option and be prepared to follow that through with a No Confidence Motion. I am sceptical. But, happy to be surprised.

    A lot of the vox pop reaction seems to be around the remainers being out smarted.

  4. Of course BW was talking shit. Otherwise why would a bunch of ABC electorate profiles all feature a section entitled ‘The Rise of the Greens’. 🙂

  5. Bowe:

    “Snap” YouGov poll on the prorogation: 27% think it acceptable, 47% not acceptable.

    It’s good to see the correct noun being used.

  6. A UK blog I follow has included a suggestion that Johnson Government will Immediately ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament for an election should BoJo lose a no confidence next week.

    But, following the 1975 Australian precedent the Queen would be entitled not to follow BoJo’s recommendation and appoint an alternative PM!

    “ITV’s political editor Robert Peston reported earlier that a government source had told him: “If MPs pass a no confidence vote next week, then we’ll stay in No10, we won’t recommend any alternative government we’ll dissolve Parliament and have an election between 1-5 November — and that means no time for legislation.”

    If the government goes down that route of temporary, outright dictatorship, then the Queen can stop them. She has the power to sack Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with immediate effect if she concludes that he no longer has the confidence of the House – and if he’s just lost a vote of no confidence, such a conclusion would be a no-brainer. Convention does not prevent her from taking action, and the modern precedents are clear. In 1975, the Governor-General of Australia sacked the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and replaced him with the opposition leader. The Governor-General exercises exactly the same powers on behalf of the Queen that she exercises on her own behalf in the United Kingdom. And within her own reign, there’s an example of her using her discretion on the selection of a Prime Minister – in 1963, she went ahead and appointed the Earl of Home as PM, ignoring advice from Harold Macmillan to wait until further soundings had been taken among Tory MPs.

  7. Pegasus re Wave Energy 3.10PM

    I would have been pleased if the Carnegie concept was a goer.

    I visited the Carnegie premises about 9 years ago and was shown the prototype power piston and associated float chamber and given the accompanying technical sell-job .
    I came away absolutely certain that, while it could produce energy, it was inherently incapable of being upscaled to achieve commercial viability. Capital costs would always remain far too high for its meagre output. This fundamental shortcoming was further compounded by the operational costs when operated in a marine environment.

    Very disappointed to find that the company received significant government funding – the inevitable consequence of the hollowing-out of engineering skills in this sector, I guess.
    There may be ways of exploiting wave energy but sadly this was not one of them.

  8. ‘Firefox says:
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    “Yeah. Like a certain flouncing convoy.”

    ***

    The Greens received very healthy swings of +1.49% and +3.12% in the QLD House and Senate, respectively.

    Labor received terrible negative swings in Queensland of -4.23% in the House and -3.81% in the Senate.’

    I acknowledge that Labor got an electoral pizzling. IMHO, Labor has accepted the verdict of the Queensland voters.

    I note that the Greens’ dizzy climb in Queensland in the last Federal election was off a base of around 6-7% in the previous Federal election after a showing of 11% in the election before that. In other words, you NEARLY got back to where you were six years ago.

    You do need to accept that the Greens are flatlining around 10%. You do need to accept that is all there is. Because, until you do, you are caging the environmental vote where it will do no good at all.

  9. William
    True.
    I make the highest Greens vote in the Queensland state and federal voting at 11% some years ago and currently at around 10%.

  10. NSW Labor, icac and Dastyari

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/icac-nsw-labor-inquiry-live-sam-dastyari-to-front-commission-over-donations-scandal-20190829-p52lv3.html

    “If there was ever a case for a federal ICAC it’s certainly this,” he said

    “The Labor Party can’t and shouldn’t be beyond reproach.”

    He directed a second message towards the NSW branch of the party, saying “enough is enough” and called for a ban private donations.

    “Maybe it’s time to have a serious look about a proper, full statewide ban on private donations because we’ve been through this rubbish enough.

    “As someone who has seen the end of my own career as a result of it, I think it’s something that is well overdue.”

  11. If the government goes down that route of temporary, outright dictatorship, then the Queen can stop them. She has the power to sack Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with immediate effect if she concludes that he no longer has the confidence of the House – and if he’s just lost a vote of no confidence, such a conclusion would be a no-brainer.

    A Prime Minister who has been defeated on confidence is within their rights to advise an election, but the monarch or viceroy should not grant one if they judge there is someone in the existing parliament who can “govern for a reasonable period with a working majority” (as per the Lascelles principles).

    Due to the ambiguity involved here, this is the trickiest part of the monarch/viceroy’s job, and the likeliest path to them being embroiled in political controversy. The classic illustration of the pitfalls involved is Canada’s King-Byng affair (sometimes called the “King Byng thing”) in 1926, in which the Governor-General refused an election to a Prime Minister facing defeat in parliament, and swore in the leader of the opposition party, who was then able to retain the confidence of parliament for only a short time.

    There is a widely held view that Byng judged wrongly about the potential for a stable government to be formed in the existing parliament, and that in refusing a dissolution to King he had only succeeded in handing incumbency from one party to the other ahead of an election that was going to happen anyway.

  12. “Until there is a successful No Confidence Motion the Monarch has no basis to act against the current PM.”

    Listen bukake phallus, my comments were made before William pointed out that Parliament will get to sit for 3 days before prorogation takes effect. Assuming that is correct then obviously given that parliament still a chance to pass legislation and pass a no confidence motion then there is no real problem.

    On the other hand if the prorogation takes effect before parliament has a chance to consider legislation to block ‘no Brexit’ or even no confident motion, then my points stand.

    Parliament is supreme and the speaker is the key office holder under Britain’s unwritten constitution. That’s what the civil wars and the act of settlement were all about. I recall my Dicey. You clearly do not.

  13. The UK Parliament should legislate that it is the prerogative of the the House of Commons to choose an election date and to decide when a parliamentary session will begin and conclude. Parliamentary supremacy is more democratic than letting one person make those decisions for their own convenience. Alternatively, the Parliament should legislate that these dates be fixed.

  14. Nicholas @ #1876 Thursday, August 29th, 2019 – 5:45 pm

    The UK Parliament should legislate that it is the prerogative of the the House of Commons to choose an election date and to decide when a parliamentary session will begin and conclude. Parliamentary supremacy is more democratic than letting one person make those decisions for their own convenience. Alternatively, the Parliament should legislate that these dates be fixed.

    Nicky,

    Should’ves and could’ves are irrelevant. This is a deal with the Is!

  15. WA relaxes emissions curbs on new projects, despite its gas plants driving national rise

    Gas industry welcomes policy change as state Labor government backs ‘aspirational’ target of zero emissions by 2050

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/29/western-australia-loosens-emission-reduction-requirements-for-new-major-projects

    The Western Australian Labor government says it will back the federal government’s 2030 climate targets, rejecting attempts by the state’s Environmental Protection Authority to introduce tougher measures for new major projects.

    Proponents of major projects will be given the freedom to propose their own timelines for cutting carbon emissions as well as setting their own targets.
    :::
    The director of the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program, Richie Merzian, said the timing of Wednesday’s announcement looked like another attempt to override the EPA before it had had a chance to consider submissions from the fresh round of consultation.

    “At the behest of the WA government, it’s revisited and consulted on this policy and before it can even report back to the minister for the environment, the minister for mines comes back with carte blanche for the gas companies,” Merzian said.
    :::
    “At present, WA is the only state with rising pollution. Emissions growth in the WA LNG industry is cancelling out the gains that have been made in all other states,” he said.
    :::

    The Greens’ federal climate change spokesman, Adam Bandt, said the federal Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, should “condemn” the WA policy.

    “Anthony Albanese needs to stomp on WA Labor and join the Greens in fighting the Liberals,” he said. “We are in a climate emergency, yet WA Labor has capitulated to the fossil fuel giants and adopted the weak climate targets of the coal-loving Liberals”.

  16. Josh Butler @JoshButler
    · 56m

    2.49pm: journo tweets pic of a sign saying “use the bathroom that best fits your gender identity”

    4.35pm: PM Scott Morrison gets on the blower to 2GB, says the sign is “not necessary” and will be “sorted out”

    @EddyJokovich
    4m
    I have an inclusive toilet at home, anyone can use it: Men, women, kids, trans, gay, straight. The cat used it once. I’d even offer it to Scott Morrison if he was busting outside. It’s just a toilet, get over it.

  17. lizzie @ #1882 Thursday, August 29th, 2019 – 5:51 pm

    Josh Butler @JoshButler
    · 56m

    2.49pm: journo tweets pic of a sign saying “use the bathroom that best fits your gender identity”

    4.35pm: PM Scott Morrison gets on the blower to 2GB, says the sign is “not necessary” and will be “sorted out”

    @EddyJokovich
    4m
    I have an inclusive toilet at home, anyone can use it: Men, women, kids, trans, gay, straight. The cat used it once. I’d even offer it to Scott Morrison if he was busting outside. It’s just a toilet, get over it.

    My dog drinks from ours.

  18. The troubles in GB has me wondering about the health of The Queen? Her age by itself would be a concern. Then, who advises her? This soap has all the ingredients. (My prediction is still for a No-Deal Brexit. The personal fortunes of PM Johnson will play out in good time.)

  19. GG

    Yes twitter is busy attacking Uhlmann whose politics seems to be about photographing bathrooms.

    I wonder if like most of us Uhlmann has a gender neutral bathroom at home or he has two?

  20. I hesitate to point this out but there is a certain congruence between the handler’s left hand and the wombat’s privy parts.
    No wonder the wombat is smiling.

  21. Use of the term ‘chaos capitalism’ on the Drum. The other day there was a non eulogy of David Koch. It used the term ‘anarcho capitalism’.

  22. ‘Big A Adrian says:
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    BW: “There is no point in attacking Greens policies, whatever they are.”

    Thats funny, you do that all the time.’

    I do. I point out that they are electoral death.

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