Winners and losers

Reading between the lines of the Liberal Party’s post-election reports for the federal and Victorian state elections.

In the wake of Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill’s federal electoral post-mortem for Labor, two post-election reviews have emerged from the Liberal Party, with very different tales to tell – one from the May 2019 federal triumph, the other from the November 2018 Victorian state disaster.

The first of these was conducted by Arthur Sinodinos and Steven Joyce, the latter being a former cabinet minister and campaign director for the conservative National Party in New Zealand. It seems we only get to see the executive summary and recommendations, the general tenor of which is that, while all concerned are to be congratulated on a job well done, the party benefited from a “poor Labor Party campaign” and shouldn’t get too cocky. Points of interest:

• It would seem the notion of introducing optional preferential voting has caught the fancy of some in the party. The report recommends the party “undertake analytical work to determine the opportunities and risks” – presumably with respect to itself – “before making any decision to request such a change”.

• Perhaps relatedly, the report says the party should work closer with the Nationals to avoid three-cornered contests. These may have handicapped the party in Gilmore, the one seat it lost to Labor in New South Wales outside Victoria.

• The report comes out for voter identification at the polling booth, a dubious notion that nonetheless did no real harm when it briefly operated in Queensland in 2015, and electronic certified lists of voters, which make a lot more sense.

• It is further felt that the parliament might want to look at cutting the pre-poll voting period from three weeks to two, but should keep its hands off the parties’ practice of mailing out postal vote applications. Parliament should also do something about “boorish behaviour around polling booths”, like “limiting the presence of volunteers to those linked with a particular candidate”.

• Hints are offered that Liberals’ pollsters served up dud results from “inner city metropolitan seats”. This probably means Reid in Sydney and Chisholm in Melbourne, both of which went better than they expected, and perhaps reflects difficulties polling the Chinese community. It is further suggested that the party’s polling program should expand from 20 seats to 25.

• Ten to twelve months is about the right length of time out from the election to preselect marginal seat candidates, and safe Labor seats can wait until six months out. This is at odds with the Victorian party’s recent decision to get promptly down to business, even ahead of a looming redistribution, which has been a source of friction between the state and federal party.

• After six of the party’s candidates fell by the wayside during the campaign, largely on account of social media indiscretions (one of which may have cost the Liberals the Tasmanian seat of Lyons), it is suggested that more careful vetting processes might be in order.

The Victorian inquiry was conducted by former state and federal party director Tony Nutt, and is available in apparently unexpurgated form. Notably:

• The party’s tough-on-crime campaign theme, turbo-charged by media reportage of an African gangs crisis, failed to land. Too many saw it as “a political tactic rather than an authentic problem to be solved by initiatives that would help make their neighbourhoods safer”. As if to show that you can’t always believe Peter Dutton, post-election research found the issue influenced the vote of only 6% of respondents, “and then not necessarily to our advantage”.

• As it became evident during the campaign that they were in trouble, the party’s research found the main problem was “a complete lack of knowledge about Matthew Guy, his team and their plans for Victoria if elected”. To the extent that Guy was recognised at all, it was usually on account of “lobster with a mobster”.

• Guy’s poor name recognition made it all the worse that attention was focused on personalities in federal politics, two months after the demise of Malcolm Turnbull. Post-election research found “30% of voters in Victorian electorates that were lost to Labor on the 24th November stated that they could not vote for the Liberal Party because of the removal of Malcolm Turnbull”.

• Amid a flurry of jabs at the Andrews government, for indiscretions said to make the Liberal defeat all the more intolerable, it is occasionally acknowledged tacitly that the government had not made itself an easy target. Voters were said to have been less concerned about “the Red Shirts affair for instance” than “more relevant, personal and compelling factors like delivery of local infrastructure”.

• The report features an exhausting list of recommendations, updated from David Kemp’s similar report in 2015, the first of which is that the party needs to get to work early on a “proper market research-based core strategy”. This reflects the Emerson and Weatherill report, which identified the main problem with the Labor campaign as a “weak strategy”.

• A set of recommendations headed “booth management” complains electoral commissions don’t act when Labor and union campaigners bully their volunteers.

• Without naming names, the report weights in against factional operators and journalists who “see themselves more as players and influencers than as traditional reporters”.

• The report is cagey about i360, described in The Age as “a controversial American voter data machine the party used in recent state elections in Victoria and South Australia”. It was reported to have been abandoned in April “amid a botched rollout and fears sensitive voter information was at risk”, but the report says only that it is in suspension, and recommends a “thorough review”.

• Other recommendations are that the party should write more lists, hold more meetings and find better candidates, and that its shadow ministers should pull their fingers out.

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.

2,754 comments on “Winners and losers”

  1. Thanks guys for all your kind words.

    It has been a rollercoaster ride over the past 10 days. Feels surreal that my dad is actually recovering. Fingers crossed things continue on an upward trajectory

  2. President Trump enters a perilous phase of the impeachment inquiry with very limited help from his personal lawyers, who remain largely on the sidelines and in the dark about evidence at the heart of the probe gathered by the White House, according to two people familiar with the situation.

    As the House begins discussing specific articles of impeachment, the president is relying almost exclusively on White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his in-house team of attorneys, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

  3. More from The Australian.

    When Nationals leaders have travelled to France, their party has been described as a “peasant” party.

    Well, the peasants are revolting, they want water, bread and the heads of the Nationals.

    Not even Barnaby Joyce is seen as a saviour.

    Mr Bugge held a sign at the Parliament House protest that suggested the former Nationals leader — the sign referred to him as “Barn-a-bye baby”— wouldn’t be able to bail his party out of its crisis.

    All of this in one moment of unalloyed passion combined with a political blandness so determined and without answers it was totally negative.

    Difficult to know whether to be really angry, just pissed off or busy making a new improved Tin Foil Hat. 🥳

  4. Why would Biden put Harris on the ticket, or appoint her AG if he wins the election, given the shade she’s thrown at him during the debates? I’m not sure that she brings anything to the table for as Biden campaign.

  5. Fess

    Thanks for that.

    Definitely no self awareness as usual by the Mango Mussolini!
    But you gotta wonder what Macron is playing at himself. Starting to wonder about his motives as well.

  6. A_E,
    Biden would realise that Kamala Harris was just doing political kabuki towards him and would be able to turn on a dime and focus her lasers on the Repugs very, very well as AG.

  7. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Chris Uhlmann explains how a perfect storm is brewing for a Coalition that lacks coherent policy.
    Well how would you be! Liberal MP Gladys Liu secured access to the federal government for a company and Liberal Party donor endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party and later implicated in a major organised crime probe into $1 million in suspected drug money. Oh Gladys!
    Michael Pascoe, after yesterday’s decision to hold interest rates steady, says that it’s common to talk of the RBA running low on ammunition but now the quality of the ammunition needs assessment as well.
    According to Rob Harris Kristina Keneally was to be appointed Australia’s ambassador to the US if Labor had formed government this year.
    It was hardly the venue for violence, the Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into Regulation of Audit in Australia. The Committee transcripts have now dropped and we can report on an extraordinary day in the history of audit, the day when, finally, there were calls for violence. Michael West reports.
    Ross Gittins expresses his opinion that as long as girls continue making themselves better educated than boys it’s only a matter of time before women are calling the shots.
    Euan Black writes that leading economists have warned low interest rates aren’t enough to give Australians a decent pay rise, after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held interest rates at 0.75 per cent.
    Educational professor Geoff Masters tells us how the declining performance of Australian school students is in the spotlight again and he wonders what government can do to arrest the decline.
    Shane Wright looks underneath the expected headline trade figures and doesn’t like what he sees.
    NSW has outlined its demands for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan but remains committed to walking away if they are not met reports Alexandra Smith. And the federal government has responded using the dreaded word “flexibility” and we all know what that means!
    A leading medical journal is launching a global campaign to separate medicine from big pharma, linking industry influence to the pelvic mesh scandal that injured hundreds of women.
    Katie Burgess reports that the Coalition is set to press reset button on its union-busting bill.
    The national energy market operator has warned extreme heatwaves, a heightened bushfire risk and the deteriorating reliability of ageing coal-fired power stations will imperil the energy grid and raise the threat of blackouts this summer, especially in Victoria.
    Charlie Lyons says that China’s leadership is making the country unsafe for many. It’s time that Australia publicly recognised this unfortunate reality.
    The lawful but “barbaric” use of chemical and mechanical restraints on people with disability should spark public outrage, but instead their use is widely overlooked, a royal commission hearing has been told.
    Dana McCauley reports that thousands of Australians with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bipolar have taken advantage of changes to health insurance rules to fast-track their hospital psychiatric treatment.
    Meanwhile fewer than 40% of the population will be covered by private health insurance by 2030 unless reforms are made, according to a report from the public policy thinktank the Grattan Institute.
    Rob Harris reports that none of the 180 asylum seekers transferred under the contentious medevac legislation are currently being treated in a hospital, with the majority now living in community detention in Australia.
    Dozens of Iraqi interpreters who have served the Australian Defence Force alongside Australian diggers battling Islamic State are seeking to come to Australia, but say they have been prevented from applying for visas.
    Matthew Kott writes on how the democrats have laid out the case in a scathing landmark report before the forthcoming articles for Trump’s impeachment.
    A US appeals court has handed President Donald Trump another defeat in his bid to keep his financial records secret. Will Trump try to hang out until it gets up to the Republicans’ stacked Supreme Court?
    Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a former educator accused of sexually abusing students in Australia, paving the way for a new psychiatric evaluation to determine her fitness to stand trial for extradition. What a shocking effort from Israel for all these years.
    A day after more allegations about his links with Jeffrey Epstein were aired on the BBC, Prince Andrew was a notable absentee from the first royal gathering since the sex scandal that has seen him exiled.
    Today’s nomination for “Arsehole of the Week” goes to this little darling.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe with Trump descending on the UK.

    From Matt Golding.

    A cracker from Alan Moir.

    I think Mark David might be having a go at News Ltd here.

    Another from Mark David.

    Fiona Katauskas and the government’s priorities.

    Zanetti with Morrison’s senate problems.

    From a dispirited Glen Le Lievre.

    Johannes Leak and the very worst of the rag he works for!

    From the US

  8. The Impeachment Report really nailing Trump on obstruction and witness tampering – for example it catalogs Trump’s modus operandi…

    “When the three investigating Committees began reviewing the President’s actions as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry, President Trump repeatedly challenged the investigation’s legitimacy in word and deed. President Trump’s rhetorical attacks appeared intended not just to dispute public reports of his misconduct, but to persuade the public that the House lacks authority to investigate the President and the inquiry is therefore invalid and fraudulent. For example, the President described the impeachment inquiry as:
    • “a COUP”48
    • “illegal, invalid, and unconstitutional”49
    • “an unconstitutional power grab”50
    • “Ukraine Witch Hunt”51
    • “a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time”52
    • “a total Witch Hunt Scam by the Democrats”53
    • “bad for the country”54
    • “all a hoax”55
    • “the single greatest witch hunt in American history”56
    • “Democrat Scam”57
    • “just another Democrat Hoax”58
    • “a fraud against the American people”59
    • “A Witch Hunt Scam”60
    • “a con being perpetrated on the United States public and even the world”61
    • “ridiculous”62
    • “a continuation of the greatest Scam and Witch Hunt in the history of our Country”63
    • “Ukraine Hoax”64
    • “No Due Process Scam”65
    • “the phony Impeachment Scam”66
    • “the phony Impeachment Hoax”67

  9. Shanahan’s article is interesting.

    It simply bypasses the poor management behaviour of the farmers themselves. It ignores issues such as global warming. It ignores bad behaviour by the NSW governments in over allocating licences.

    It refers to corporate water holders, notes that the Nats are hapless with the politics, and notes that there is a split between NSW and Fed govts. It also omits the forthcoming stoush between SA and NSW.

    Pisspoor journalism?

  10. The Nats are an absolute disgrace. Seems a lot of people who’ve only ever voted Nats their entire lives are headed down the road to Damascus, so to speak.

  11. Guy Ballard @DingoResearch
    Nov 26
    The iconic brush-tailed rock wallaby is suffering considerably from #drought and #bushfire. This is one of a few we found yesterday. Others died in the fire. Survivors have little water. There are predators to worry about too. This little pouch young is unlikely to survive.

  12. Thanks BK.

    Interesting criticism from Uhlmann. Has he been asleep for the past 5 years, and not realised that the absence of coherent policy hasn’t hurt the coalition at all really?

  13. lizzie
    Rock Wallabies can go for long periods without water. (Roo poo contains extremely little moisture). So a ‘little’ water is a lot of water.

  14. There’s Gladys Liu and there’s….


    Crossbench unites on China threat

    “The entire Senate crossbench united on Tuesday to call for a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s relationship with China, amid growing concern about China’s influence and interference in Australian politics, universities and infrastructure.

    Liberal and Labor have resisted a formal inquiry and voted against it last night. Labor was to jointly sponsor an inquiry with the Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick in August, but changed its mind at the last minute and has resisted since.

    But the crossbenchers, One Nation, Jacqui Lambie and Independent Cory Bernardi, plus the Greens, united behind Senator Patrick.”

    Why did Labor change its mind?

  15. Thanks BK for the Dawn Patrol.

    David Rowe with another masterpiece.

    The quality of the “Arsehole of the Week” contenders seems to be declining. Never mind – I expect the young, inexperienced Arsehole will go on to bigger and better in the way of bastardry.

    Time to read through your items – then exciting house cleaning. Wow – the excitement. 🥳☕

  16. Vic:

    Macron was criticising the US albeit in a roundabout way by saying its disengagement from NATO was essentially diminishing its effectiveness.

    Trump with his trademark lack of irony obviously took umbrage, completely overlooking the fact that he himself has argued for NATO to be dismantled.

  17. Boerwar

    This researcher has said that he has almost turned into a wildlife rescue service after the fires. He’s supposed to be researching predators, not victims.

  18. Queensland 2011 flood victims won a landmark class action but could still wait years for payouts

    The victims of the 2011 Queensland flood disaster won a major class action against the State Government and dam operators Seqwater and Sunwater last week.
    Here is what you need to know about the decision and what it means for, not only the flood victims, but also taxpayers.
    The case was heard in the New South Wales Supreme Court because of an “accident of time”, Justice Beech-Jones said.

    Class actions weren’t able to be brought to the Supreme Court of Queensland until March 2017 when new legislation was introduced.

    Fortunately, a claimant who lived in New South Wales and lost a business in the floods meant the case was able to progress through the NSW courts.

  19. Scientists have used underwater loudspeakers to entice fish to move back into the dead parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

    The unorthodox strategy was concocted by a team of UK and Australian scientists, who played healthy reef audio recordings in patches of dead coral over a six-week period.

    The results were promising, with twice as many fish arriving and staying where the sound was played, compared to areas where there was no noise.

    While playing noises to fish won’t fix the whole reef, it’s a step in the right direction, lead author Tim Gordon said.

    “We see it as a promising technique for local restoration, but it remains a band-aid on a problem that needs action on a global scale,” Mr Gordon said.

  20. Richard Marles was interviewed on ABC RN Breakfast this morning:

    Controversial Liberal MP Gladys Liu is once again at the centre of foreign interference allegations.

    Nine Media are reporting that Gladys Liu secured access to the Coalition Government for a company backed by the Chinese Communist Party.

    And according to the papers, the firm, which is a donor to the Liberal Party, has been implicated in a police investigation into money laundering.

    I was surprised how poor a performance he put in.

  21. It’s interesting to note that the Green on this forum this morning is all about denigrating Labor politicians, having a sly go at the Queensland Labor state government over delays in payments, and regurgitating a piece of news from the USA that had already been discussed, but not ONE comment about the environment issue the Labor supporters are discussing here this morning.

    Typical. They only care about the environment in so far as they can use it as a stick to beat Labor with.

  22. Jacqui Lambie

    Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has accused both major political parties of lacking the courage to protect Australia from the “existential threat” of Chinese foreign influence.

    “It’s about time the people in this place woke up to China’s attempts to infiltrate our economy and our democracy,” Senator Lambie declared in an impassioned speech to Parliament.
    Senator Lambie also praised the work of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption and pointed to recent revelations that Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo allegedly gave a senior NSW Labor Party official $100,000 in an Aldi bag as proof of its success.


    A West Australian coroner investigating the deaths of four people on the state’s south coast says climate change is undoubtably intensifying bushfires nationwide, dismissing all political claims to the contrary.
    “Despite the rhetoric of many politicians today, who would have us believe that climate change is not the cause of increasing bushfires in Australia, I am satisfied from the evidence before me that the climate is changing and the timing, number, duration and severity of fires in this country is increasing, in part as a result of climate change,” she said.
    In concluding her report, Ms Linton reiterated her concern about rising bushfire risks and called on the State Government to act.

    “The people of Esperance, the staff of DFES and DPaW, and many others, have all contributed to the outcomes in this finding,” she said.

    “I hope their work is not in vain and the State Government gives due regard to what the people who actually fight these fires say they need to save lives in the future when the next bushfire inevitably rages in Esperance.”

  24. And the Green on this forum this morning would prefer to focus on Labor’s links to Chinese donors than the more current news about the Liberals:

    Liberal MP Gladys Liu secured access to the federal government for a company endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party and later implicated in a major organised crime probe into $1 million in suspected drug money.

    What we SHOULD be discussing is China’s influence on the current federal government, not rehashing old news about Labor for its hoped-for sensational value that benefits The Greens’ project to strip votes away from the ALP.

    I won’t hold my breath that that will happen.

  25. Andrew Plumley @ajplumley
    · 29m
    Daughter’s public school played rugby against a private school in front of the private school’s 100m four-storey sports complex. Why taxpayers subsidise this I don’t know.

    Peter Lewis @PeterLewisEMC
    Because there’s a class war and we are losing

  26. One of the reasons Harris’ campaign failed.

    Harris’s second obstacle was that she has never run for office outside California. There, she is a mainstream Democrat, a strong crusader for gay rights and defender of immigrants, legal and otherwise. She is comfortable in her milieu and excels at the intra-Democratic politics in a state that essentially has only one major party.

    California, of course, is not the totality of America. Especially in the early primary states, successful Democratic candidates must show they are as comfortable in and with the heartland, as accessible to small-town Iowans as to San Franciscans. The media does not get why Biden holds onto his voters or why a “no malarkey” tour may work in Iowa; they too often bring the coastal elite mind-set to a race that in the early going is decided by people who do not naturally embrace urban progressives. Harris never quite made the leap from San Francisco to Des Moines.

  27. lizzie @ #497 Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 – 9:03 am

    Andrew Plumley @ajplumley
    · 29m
    Daughter’s public school played rugby against a private school in front of the private school’s 100m four-storey sports complex. Why taxpayers subsidise this I don’t know.

    Peter Lewis @PeterLewisEMC
    Because there’s a class war and we are losing

    And that response by Peter Lewis points to why we are losing. Because the Coalition do deflection and projection very well. They appropriate the criticism that should be directed at them and use it against their critics.

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