In through the out door

Sarah Henderson returns to parliament via a Senate vacancy and a hotly contested preselection, as Coalition MPs blow bubbles on electoral “reform”.

Two brief news items to relate on Australian matters, as well as which we have the latest of Adrian Beaumont’s increasingly regular updates on the constitutional mess that is Brexit.

Sarah Henderson, who held the seat of Corangamite for the Liberals from 2013 until her defeat in May, will return to parliament today after winning preselection to fill Mitch Fifield’s Victorian Senate vacancy. This follows her 234-197 win in a party vote held on Saturday over Greg Mirabella, a Wangaratta farmer and the husband of former Indi MP Sophie Mirabella. After initial expectations that Henderson was all but assured of the spot, Mirabella’s campaign reportedly gathered steam in the lead-up to Saturday’s vote, resulting in a late flurry of public backing for Henderson from Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Jeff Kennett, Michael Kroger and Michael Sukkar.

Also, The Australian reports Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath will push for the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, of which he is the chair, to consider abolishing proportional representation in the Senate and replacing it with a system in which each state is broken down into six provinces, each returning a single member at each half-Senate election – very much like the systems that prevailed in the state upper houses of Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia in the bad old days before the advent of proportional representation.

Ostensibly motivated by a desire to better represent the regions, such a system would result in a Senate dominated as much as the House of Representatives by the major parties, at a time of ongoing erosion in public support for them. The Australian’s report further quotes Nationals Senator Perin Davey advocating the equally appalling idea of rural vote weighting for the House. The kindest thing that can be said about both proposals is that they are not going to happen, although the latter would at least give the High Court an opportunity to take a stand for democracy by striking it down.

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.

2,838 comments on “In through the out door”

  1. Rex

    Totally wrong time of the election cycle to be despondent. This is ‘we lost the election, so let’s look over everything’ time. Labor always gets accused of standing for nothing, having no policies, walking away from past commitments etc etc during this period, but it’s at least two years out from the next election so it doesn’t matter a hill of beans.

    Next year will be spent trying to come up with policies and testing them with stakeholders, election year is when Labor starts talking about what it will be doing.

    Patience, grasshopper. The time to decide Labor’s policies are misguided, misdirected, etc etc or the most brilliant set of ideas ever is at least eighteen months away. We’re in a holding pattern atm.

  2. I was only 11,000 votes from becoming the Member for Lyne. If only I had got Mark Latham to visit the electorate – it could have been so different.

    Such is life

  3. zoomster says:
    Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 7:33 pm
    Rex

    Totally wrong time of the election cycle to be despondent. This is ‘we lost the election, so let’s look over everything’ time. Labor always gets accused of standing for nothing, having no policies, walking away from past commitments etc etc during this period, but it’s at least two years out from the next election so it doesn’t matter a hill of beans.

    Next year will be spent trying to come up with policies and testing them with stakeholders, election year is when Labor starts talking about what it will be doing.

    Patience, grasshopper. The time to decide Labor’s policies are misguided, misdirected, etc etc or the most brilliant set of ideas ever is at least eighteen months away. We’re in a holding pattern atm.
    __________________________________________________________
    You mean like waving through income tax cuts for the wealthy?

  4. “Very good at raising cash from dubious sources?

    Being against Adani before being for Adani?

    Starving out the single mothers on a benefit?”

    On 1, the Coalition are better at not getting caught. And they have mates with very deep pockets. Federal ICAC now!

    On 3, (a), stop pretending you care and
    (b) the Coaltion are trying to recreate workhouses. The decision to restrict the single mother benefit to youngest child under 8 is debateable but the Coalition demonises and ruthlessly attacks single mothers, the unemployed and disabled while handing free money to wealthy retirees.

    On 2, Adani is a highly dubious venture. Labor’s position was that it should stand on its own financial merits. Had Labor won, the venture would have collapsed. It might anyway. Adani are out to milk the Australian taxpayer.

  5. The rainfall in NSW currently follows the Matthew Principle: to him that hath shall be given… Rain systems time after time focus on the central part of the coastline.

    Sydney is expecting 30-80 mm this week.
    Some places on the Day zero list might get 5-15 mm – if they’re lucky.

    Maybe the prayers need to be more targeted.

  6. There has been reports that Gladys Liu is a member of organisations sponsored by the United Front Work Department – is she a loner here? Or does this go more broadly in the Liberal Party Victorian ‘Ugly’ Faction? Maybe Rupert’s organs will shed more light this week

    Edit

    Some national intelligence agencies have expressed concern that the mandate and operations of the UFWD can constitute undue interference in other nations’ internal affairs.[15][7] In their book Nest of Spies: the startling truth about foreign agents at work within Canada’s borders, de Pierrebourg and Juneau-Katsuya allege that the United Front Work Department “manages important dossiers concerning foreign countries. These include propaganda, the control of Chinese students abroad, the recruiting of agents among the Chinese diaspora (and among sympathetic foreigners), and long-term clandestine operations.”[16] In 2007, the Communist Party increased the United Front Work Department’s budget by $3 million to further bolster China’s “soft power” abroad.[16] The UFWD is reported to have over 40,000 personnel.[17]

    An Atlantic writer stated China runs thousands of linked and subsidized pro-government groups across Europe, to “ensure that its overseas citizens, and others of ethnic Chinese descent, are loyal”, to “shape the conversation about China in Europe”, and to “bring back technology and expertise”, and that the UFWD plays a “crucial” role in this project.[18]

  7. It’s the year 2270 in Australia. Coal mining is dead, buried and cremated in this country and has been for at least a century and a half.

    Greens leader Richard di Natale XXVIII and his deputy Pasquale di Natale IV are fronting the Canberra press gallery.

    CPG: What is the Greens’ position on the govt’s debt reduction strategy?

    RDN/PDN: Adani!

    CPG: The govt has announced a significant boost to its national housing strategy. Does it go far enough?

    RDN/PDN: Adani!

    CPG: Oh…kay. Let’s turn to our obesity crisis. The health minister has convened a round table of state health ministers to respond to the latest UN data showing Australia’s life expectancy rates are now level with the US and down 15 years on where they were a century ago. Do you think more should be done on this front?

    RDN/PDN: Adani!

    Greens voters no longer have any idea what this Adani is, apart from being an almost coal mine from the early 21st century, but they keep voting Greens regardless. It’s the vibe of the thing.

  8. nath @ #1411 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 2:09 pm

    The cost of transporting desal water into the interior would create 2 things: increasingly briny oceans and the worlds most expensive fruit and vegetables.

    The first point is wrong on multiple counts:

    1. The oceans are legitimately vast; there’s no way desal plants in Australia (or anywhere else) can noticeably increase the salinity of the entire ocean.
    2. Even if they could, when salt is removed from seawater the salt is still in the plant. Unless the operators choose to collect and dump it back into the ocean the desal plants will make things less salty.
    3. Even if we ignore those things, pretty much all of the water will ultimately return to the ocean anyways as rain and/or by flowing through natural tributaries back into the ocean.

    As for the second, expensive produce is still better than no produce because the region dried out and everything died.

    And anyways, I’d bet that Labor would pick up more rural votes by campaigning on “drought-proof Australia” than they will campaigning on “coal is okay”. 🙂

  9. There has been reports that Gladys Liu is a member of organisations sponsored by the United Front Work Department – is she a loner here?

    Personally I reckon most people have no idea and are simply confounded by the various organisations offered up that Liu supposedly represented.

    I’m more interested in the 7 reported (by twitter it must be said) name changes. Were these official name changes, or were they simply a case of your bog-standard, boneheaded, culturally clueless Aussie using different variations of her actual name?

  10. a r says:
    Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    nath @ #1411 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 2:09 pm

    The cost of transporting desal water into the interior would create 2 things: increasingly briny oceans and the worlds most expensive fruit and vegetables.

    The first point is wrong on multiple counts:

    1. The oceans are legitimately vast; there’s no way desal plants in Australia (or anywhere else) can noticeably increase the salinity of the entire ocean.
    2. Even if they could, when salt is removed from seawater the salt is still in the plant. Unless the operators choose to collect and dump it back into the ocean the desal plants will make things less salty.
    3. Even if we ignore those things, pretty much all of the water will ultimately return to the ocean anyways as rain and/or by flowing through natural tributaries back into the ocean.

    As for the second, expensive produce is still better than no produce because the region dried out and everything died.
    ___________________________
    1. the salt does not stay in plant indefinitely. It either has to be stored on land or in the oceans. If enough nations get into it the oceans will of course become less hospitable to life.
    2. It depends on the natural topography. There is a chance the water could be deposited in natural aquifers beneath the ground.
    3. Having the most expensive produce in the world will matter because we won’t be able to sell it. So that just leaves the domestic market. What an increase to the cost of living!
    4. The infrastructure required to move vast amount of water, say, to the Murray Darling would be incredibly costly. Not just the pipes required but in the electricity required to pump all of it. Presumably over the Great Dividing Range. $20 tomatoes anybody?

  11. 2. Even if they could, when salt is removed from seawater the salt is still in the plant. Unless the operators choose to collect and dump it back into the ocean the desal plants will make things less salty..

    That is most definitely NOT true.

    The by-product of desal plants is super-saturated salt water. The salt is returned to the ocean.

    For every litre of seawater extracted, half a litre of drinkable water is produced. The waste water, at twice the salinity of seawater, is pumped back into the sea.

    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/game-on-what-happens-when-sydney-s-desalination-plant-gets-turned-on-20190124-p50tdl.html

    I thought a r was an authority on such things?

  12. Confessions @ #1566 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 8:06 pm

    There has been reports that Gladys Liu is a member of organisations sponsored by the United Front Work Department – is she a loner here?

    Personally I reckon most people have no idea and are simply confounded by the various organisations offered up that Liu supposedly represented.

    I’m more interested in the 7 reported (by twitter it must be said) name changes. Were these official name changes, or were they simply a case of your bog-standard, boneheaded, culturally clueless Aussie using different variations of her actual name?

    There’s no truth in the rumour that one of her nom de plumes was Sophie Mirabella.

  13. The HC sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns has a directions hearing this week on an exceedingly grubby exercise in Chisholm and Kooyong where AEC insignia was purloined by Liberal Party elements to fool low information voters to vote for Gladys Liu and Josh Frydenberg.

    Of course this has nothing to do with subsequent revelations of Gladys Liu sailing close to the wind, but the HC may take a dimmer view of this dodgy degrading of our polity..

    ‘Marque Lawyers has been confirmed as the legal representative acting on behalf of those who filed petitions in the High Court yesterday, alleging Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Liberal member Gladys Liu gained their seats of Kooyong and Chisholm, respectively, illegally.
    The petition against the election of Mr Frydenberg in the seat of Kooyong was filed by independent candidate Oliver Yates, while the petition against the election of Ms Liu in the seat of Chisholm was filed by Leslie Hall, an elector in that seat.

    Marque Lawyers is representing both Mr Yates and Ms Hall, and argues that the two petitions should be heard by the court together despite being filed separately.

    The firm noted both petitions have been brought under section 362 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, on the basis that the elections in the two seats were affected by illegal conduct committed by the Liberal Party, to the knowledge of both Liberal candidates, on the day of the election.

    “The alleged illegality was conduct that was likely to mislead or deceive voters in relation to the casting of their vote,” a statement from Marque Lawyers said.

    “The Liberal Party authorised a sign that was displayed at polling booths all over both electorates on election day, with very unusual features.”

    The features, Marque Lawyers said, include that: “it was in the Australian Electoral Commission’s official colours of purple and white; it had no Liberal branding at all and did not refer to the Liberal candidates or policies; it was in Chinese language, which translated into English said: ‘The right way to vote: On the green ballot paper, fill in 1 next to the candidate of Liberal Party, and fill in the numbers from smallest to largest, in the rest of the boxes’.”

    Michael Bradley, managing partner of Marque Lawyers, said the case “raises critical questions for the conduct of elections in our democracy”.

    https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/politics/26201-marque-lawyers-named-legal-rep-in-frydenberg-liu-saga

  14. We would be far better off developing storm water and grey water catchment and treatment systems near major cities and using irrigation there. A huge proportion of Victoria’s lettuce, cabbages etc is grown in Werribee South because of recycled water. Trucking vast amounts of produce from Deniliquin or wherever is just insanity.

  15. It’s been two full days since the latest of Littleproud’s total backflips on the cause of global warming.

    Littleproud’s Monday Pronouncement will be that global warming is NOT, after all, man made.

    All those towns which are running out of drinking and washing water, which are trying to survive ember attacks, and which are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land which are too dry to sow, will now be able to rest easy.

  16. I’m not sure there’s any connection between providing towns with water and growing fruit and vegetables.

    Firstly, town water and agricultural water are, under our present system, supplied separately.

    This is because water for human consumption gets treated twice – before it’s ingested and afterwards. Water for fruit and veggies doesn’t require the same amount of treatment.

    Inland towns may well be provided with desalinated water to top up their local town water supplies. They’re not going to be provided with it for growing crops.

    Secondly, areas with poor water supplies/expensive water are not viable – at the best of times – for producing fruit and vegetables. Fresh produce needs to be produced as near to the point of sale as possible (reflect on the costs of transporting a kilo of carrots, which sells for $2…). What would make fruit and vegetables from inland communities unviable would not be the cost of water (however provided) but the cost of transport.

    Our major cities are cited on reliable water sources. Vegetables (in particular) are usually grown not too far away from cities, using these sources.

    Victoria decided, in the last big drought, that no town should rely on one source of water. A whole heap of strategies to ensure this have been put in place, desalination being just one of them.

    We do need to look seriously at water recycling, which is perfectly acceptable in other countries (but again, unless we’re talking treated sewrage, there will be no connection between this and growing crops).

  17. thats pretty right zoomster. But some people, such as a r it seems, have big dreams that would put us all into poverty for generations. Fortunately there is no government crazy enough to fund this stuff. Although I’m sure Abbott thought about it. Credlin being a supporter of the Bradfield scheme and all.

  18. From the Marque Lawyers web site..

    ‘Separately from her new self-generated disasters, Liu is facing a case in the Court of Disputed Returns (along with Josh Frydenberg) challenging her victory at the May election.

    The case regards allegations of illegal misleading conduct by the Liberal Party in its posting of Chinese language signs in AEC colours that directed voters to give their first preference to the Libs. If she loses, her election will be declared void and there will be a byelection.*

    In the meantime, if the government can’t kill this scandal (which looks unlikely), then sooner or later it will have to address Liu’s issues rather more seriously than she has been able or prepared to do.
    Ultimately, while her situation is in part a muddled intersection between genuine concerns about Chinese government influence and mundane “yellow peril” xenophobia, there’s an actual question at its root regarding the integrity of the Australian parliament.

    Our constitution retains some anachronistic rules about who is or isn’t eligible to sit in parliament, exposed in recent years by serial section 44 cases over dual citizenship and pecuniary interests.

    However, there is a ground for expulsion that has never been successfully invoked but could come into play if Liu’s story isn’t adequately clarified’

    https://www.marquelawyers.com.au/assets/the-turmoils-of-gladys-liu-raise-a-genuine-question-about-citizenship.pdf

  19. …I see nath touches on stormwater.

    Yes, when we’re talking new developments, when it’s relatively straightforward.

    Not possible (I’m told) for most of our major cities, as it would mean a total redesign/rebuild of existing drainage systems – which would be prohibitively expensive.

  20. 28 days from the date of judgment 20 August 2019 to file an application for special leave. Which the High court if it is so minded can refuse “on the papers” , decline or grant special leave at a special leave hearing.

  21. Morrison is the only national leader currently sucking up to Trump. If they are looking for an agenda they could do worse than discuss:

    1. The going price for Greenland
    2. The threat of Dorian to Alabama
    3. The use of tweets in nuanced international peace negotiations
    4. Surrendering to the Taliban after 18 years and How Good is That!
    5. The best way to lie through their teeth.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/15/donald-trump-nuts-impeachment-25th-amendment-2020-election

  22. Perth has already started recycling water. It is pumped into aquifers rather than directly back into the water supply system. The aquifers are used to supply water.

  23. For those who missed this excellent insight into the United Front Workers Department, and its Guangdong and Shandong activities alleged, by Andrew Bolt no less, to have involved in some way Gladys Liu, here is the link again. A salient read for anyone concerned about foreign interference in Australia’s society..


    Merriden Varrall, director of the Australian think tank Lowy Institute’s East Asia program, argues that since Xi Jinping assumed office the Party has had “a sense that China must dictate how it’s perceived and that the world is biased against China.”32 To advance its narrative, the CCP has stepped up its United Front work to further stifle criticism of the CCP, spread positive views of China, and incentivize voters in foreign democracies to influence their domestic policies in ways favorable to China.§ 33

    According to Professor Groot, United Front work tells what President Xi has called Beijing’s preferred “China story”—or an interpretation of history that is flattering to the CCP—and encourages co-optees to promote CCP views.34 Since President Xi came to power the CCP has also cracked down on what it terms “historical nihilism,” or attempts to undermine Beijing’s official history, which an internal CCP memo in 2012 identified as one of seven existential threats to the Party.’

    https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China%27s%20Overseas%20United%20Front%20Work%20-%20Background%20and%20Implications%20for%20US_final_0.pdf

  24. Boerwar @ #1588 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 8:30 pm

    Morrison is the only national leader currently sucking up to Trump. If they are looking for an agenda they could do worse than discuss:

    1. The going price for Greenland
    2. The threat of Dorian to Alabama
    3. The use of tweets in nuanced international peace negotiations
    4. Surrendering to the Taliban after 18 years and How Good is That!
    5. The best way to lie through their teeth.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/15/donald-trump-nuts-impeachment-25th-amendment-2020-election

    The whole meeting is about China.

    Morrison will be given a pie and his riding instructions.

  25. zoomster says:
    Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    …I see nath touches on stormwater.

    Yes, when we’re talking new developments, when it’s relatively straightforward.

    Not possible (I’m told) for most of our major cities, as it would mean a total redesign/rebuild of existing drainage systems – which would be prohibitively expensive.
    __________________
    there’s been some work done on using stormwater to fill local aquifers which can be drawn upon. Perth has done some of this. But yes, moving it anywhere distant is not going to work.

  26. sprocket_ says:
    Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 8:32 pm
    ……….
    ______________________
    More spreading sprocket, its getting very stinky

  27. So Frydenberg faces two challenges. One under S44 for being a dual citizen and the other for using advertising material that mimiced the AEC with a view to trying to cheat the voters by deceiving them into thinking that the AEC barracked for Frydenberg.

    I don’t care which section nails him. He fucked over the environment and energy policies when a minister. He achieved worse than nothing. He speeded up our extinction event, speeded up global warming, was responsible for rising emissions, and then shonked a $444 million throw away deal to some tinpot Reef charity with about as much rigour as the Incredible Angry Hulk and Trump apply to telling the truth.
    As Treasurer he is running the economy and the growing underclass into the ground.
    Any excuse good enough to get rid of this pompous poseur is good enough excuse, IMO.

  28. If ever a political truism got a boost, it was after the last Federal election – that is, governments lose office rather than oppositions win them.
    However, when just ‘got at’ a little bit last week in Parliament, Morrison – that carefully manufactured Sloppy Joe, Smiley Uncle Scot, lovely all-forgiving good bloke, was exposed as an ugly snarling bull-headed, close-minded ex-Shire President.
    It did not take all that much to show underneath that veneer of being a dag, is what seems, a very unpleasant person. The unpleasantness does not matter but it should give Labor a clue or two.
    Labor should get under his skin as often as it can in the next year or two, and that happy-clapper facade should be attacked to expose what is underneath – not much other than a just another nasty Liberal politician – the like of which there has been dozens over the years.
    There is not that much special about Morrison at all. He is vulnerable and thin-skinned.
    Some may call this playing the man – I think not… If Morrison purports to be somebody he is not (like Joyce being the sober?, loving, faithful husband and caring father) or Morrison claiming to be a ‘compassionate conservative’ then such are fair game…………………….

  29. Speculation I know, but would any of the $1m allegedly raised by Gladys Liu for the Liberal Party been channeled from sources associated with this behaviour?

    “Subverting Unfavorable Narratives:

    United Font work in Australia aimed at both Chinese and non-Chinese communities has attempted to “influence the choices, direction, and loyalties of its targets by overcoming negative perceptions of CCP rule in China and promoting favorable perceptions,” according to Professor Hamilton and Mr. Joske.157 They argue that in the 2000s, “trusted individuals sympathetic to the CCP, encouraged by the [Chinese Embassy in] Canberra … and [Chinese] consulates, took over most of the established Chinese community and professional associations in Australia.”

    1They argued further that CCP officials “typically aim to guide … rather than directly control” these organizations.159 CSSAs have been very active in Australia, as well;‡ according to Mr. Joske, CSSA executives in Australia are “prolific in their output” of pro-CCP statements, and each year they travel to Canberra at the Chinese Embassy’s cost “to discuss the latest party doctrines and collaboration with the embassy.”160 In 2013, then Chinese Ambassador to Australia Ma Zhaoxu, in an act emphasizing the close connection, personally presented awards to CSSA members in recognition for being “outstanding cadres,” with the implication being that the recipients were essentially CCP officials.

    https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China%27s%20Overseas%20United%20Front%20Work%20-%20Background%20and%20Implications%20for%20US_final_0.pdf

  30. Tricot

    Voters don’t really mind pricks as long as they deliver.

    The problem for Morrison is not that he is a prick, which is a given, but that he can only control the narrative when he delivers on the economy.

    One of the shocks for the Liberals will be that the day after their blessed surplus is announced, NOTHING WILL HAVE CHANGED FOR A SINGLE VOTER.

    They will still be in record debt while on stagnant wages while living costs mount.

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