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.

2,478 comments on “Winners and losers”

  1. I’m pretty sure he was a strong climate change denier, but can’t find a link.

    There was a doco where Minchin, as a climate denier, travelled with a young woman who wanted action on climate change. The premise was to bring people on opposing sides of the debate together but also for them to try to convince each other in a polite intimate forum of their point of view.

    Hilarious. Yes, they chose Minchin to do this.

    It was called something like – I Can Change Your Mind.

  2. Can anyone suggest the name of a competent minister in ScoMo’s government? Must also be able to answer in QT without lying, blaming Labor, or just making up their own facts.

    @broomstick33
    13m
    because Morrison’s mob has vacated the field, we now have government by Royal Commission .. the upside for these clots in charge? time .. time to dismantle the remnants of our public institutions and complete the #privatisation of our commonwealth

    @ricklevy67
    6m
    Minister For The Pacific @D_LittleproudMP on #qanda last night . On The Issue Of #ClimateChange ” “If New Zealand is thinking ahead and well into the future, that’s a matter for them.” The
    @ScottMorrisonMP Government is utterly useless and appalling.

  3. “If New Zealand is thinking ahead and well into the future, that’s a matter for them.”

    Littleproud is maned well. A truly appalling performance by an genuine idiot . But, they dont care. The electorate have proven they are stupid enough to vote for this kind of oxygen thief so How Good Is That??

  4. “ If Labor listened to you Medibank would never have become Medicare.

    Instead we would have the US Private Health system.

    Ditto Marriage Equality
    Ditto WorkChoices.”

    This is all false equivalence. However, looking at the history of Medibank/Medicare and today’s political climate one does wonder about the extent to which ‘big plans’ can be sold in these days of cynical social media driven propaganda campaigns.

  5. All these climate denying politicians, now obviously and overwhelmingly wrong, paid no price for ignoring facts and instead playing on peoples fears through lies for political gain. No price. No accountability. No responsibility. This is our political system and we wonder why we get liars, admen, toadies, narcissists and bullies.

  6. “A carbon price has been defeated politically. Emphatically to the point where the mere spectre of it repulses the very people that the Labor + Greens plurality need to defeat the LNP on any issue …”

    ***

    So because Abbott repealed it after being gifted power that means we should just give up? Really? You can raise the white flag if you wish but we won’t be.

    For those going on about the majority not supporting Greens’ policies or words to that effect, may I remind you that it was the Greens who spent decades campaigning in support of Marriage Equality. For a long time SSM was not supported by a majority, either in Parliament or in the wider public. Nevertheless, we persisted. Did we give up when Labor repeatedly sided with the Coalition to block Marriage Equality all those times we introduced legislation to make it legal? Hell no! Did we give up because a large number of Australians were opposed to it? Hell no! We kept fighting and campaigning to make it legal until it happened.

    Climate change and taking action to reduce emissions is no different. We won’t give up. Just as we didn’t give in to the homophobes who tried to stop us legalising SSM, we won’t give in to the climate deniers either.

  7. AE

    Nope. It’s called having a bottom line that you fight for.

    Credlin has admitted to the lie.
    There are results that prove the success.
    Just do a compare contrast.

    Run with the election slogan Lower Emissions Lower Power Costs.

    It’s not rocket science.

  8. Malcolm Fraser wound back Medibank over a period of 5 years, finally abolishing it in 1981.

    It’s taking longer with Medicare but it will die the death of 1,000 cuts over the next decade or less if the Coalition retain power. Ditto the ABC.

  9. The revolving door and the fossil fuel lobby

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/revolving-doors-how-the-fossil-fuel-lobby-has-governments-ensnared/

    How did it even get this far? That such a white elephant is still staggering about, not quite dead yet, and still hopeful of more taxpayer subsidies, is testament to the power of the coal lobby in Australia. It is testament to the prolific connections between the resources lobby and government, the “revolving doors” between industry, the major political parties and the bureaucracy. Adam Lucas and Joel Rosenzveig Holland have built a database of this network of fossil fuel influence: the people, the insiders. Here, they discuss the major players as they unpack the web of self-interest which undermines democracy and favours corporate agendas above the welfare of ordinary Australians.
    :::
    The industry’s role in sowing doubt and confusion over the science of climate change is by now well-known and widely documented. What is less well-known is its preoccupation with infiltrating democratic governments by providing financial, logistical and personnel support to those political parties, governments and individuals which are most likely to serve its interests. Indeed, as public awareness of fossil-fuel driven climate change and the need for action has grown, the fossil fuel lobby appears to have ramped up its efforts to gain control over government policy and favourably influence public opinion.

    Concerned at the hollowing-out of democracy, which these trends clearly demonstrate, we began last year to consolidate and extend the work of journalists and researchers who had chronicled some of this revolving-door activity in an attempt to determine just how extensive the influence of the fossil fuel industry has been on the nation’s policy-makers.

    We admit to being shocked at the extent of this influence at multiple levels of government. So far, we have managed to compile a list of well over 150 former and current politicians, political advisors and bureaucrats who have either moved from the fossil fuel and mining industries into public office or vice-versa over the past decade. These constitute a veritable army of lobbyists, senior executives, spin doctors and consultants acting with a single aim in mind: political and policy support for the fossil fuel industry and its allies in business and industry.

    Martin Ferguson and Ian Macfarlane feature prominently.

  10. You have to wonder what influence Nick Xenophon retains over Centre Alliance. Having been bought and paid for by Huawei, you’ve got to hope that he doesn’t hold sway over the CA Senators should a vote about admitting Huawei to future tenders for government tech build contracts occurs.

  11. I sense that the impacts of climate change inaction (regardless of who did or didn’t take action when and how, and all the squabbling) are, completely appropriately, being laid at the Coalition’s door. I say that mindful that this event or that catastrophe may not necessarily be able to be directly linked. But yesterday, seeing the national coverage the woman, partisan or not, at Parliament House got with her burnt out house remains and a piece of corrugated iron

    is telling. She personalised it.

    Likewise the farmers in the Senate yesterday focusing on Bridgit Mckensie calling her ‘fucking useless’. Very personal, to say the least.

    I reckon the perception is permanent, and accurate. Whatever else, Labor tried. The Greens tried. But the Coalition blocked, denied, obfuscated, and lied. And still do. This will be their ultimate legacy. It’s as big a chapter in our history as anything. And probably the biggest, as time will tell. Totally Fucked. Somewhere in there is Abbott’s book title.


  12. Pegasus says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Has there been any coverage on the news / mainstream media about Wong’s masterful stunt of a motion?
    ..

    What is fake about reporting the Greens voted against Penny’s motion calling for all parties to deal with this problem instead of playing political games. The Greens have done what the Greens have done, calling it fake does not relieve the Greens of their responsibility.

  13. ItzaDream

    The sign is pretty clear but did you note the ABC report Pegasus linked to said “both major parties” miss information that Pegasus delighted in spreading.

  14. Whatever else, Labor tried. The Greens tried. But the Coalition blocked, denied, obfuscated, and lied.”

    A neat summary of how we found ourselves here in 2019.

  15. @ricklevy67
    ·
    9m
    Q&A: former #Tuvalu PM says @ScottMorrisonMP denies #ClimateChange is happening in Pacific . With minister for the Pacific @D_LittleproudMP sitting pale faced next to him.
    All the leaders of the Pacific Islands condemned the governments climate failure.

  16. Young Libs slinging off at aborigines because they didn’t invent the wheel (these bright boys have nothing original to say).

    Response: have you ever tried hitching a cart to a kangaroo?!

  17. “ It’s called having a bottom line that you fight for.”

    I agree. Labor has had an epiphany. No more Greens wunderwaffe. Good.

  18. Katharine Murphy
    @murpharoo
    ·
    1m
    .
    @AlboMP
    in the final caucus meeting of the year has dubbed
    @ScottMorrisonMP’s year Angus Horribilis
    #auspol

  19. “Young Libs slinging off at aborigines because they didn’t invent the wheel “

    A standby of racists everywhere.

    Another great technological advance was the aerofoil (wing). Western civilisation invented it around the turn of the 20th century, the Aborigines in ancient times (the boomerang).

  20. Yet another example of Taylor being more than slightly careless with the truth:

    [‘Mr Taylor also came under fire on Monday from feminist and author Naomi Wolf over his account six years ago of his time as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in 1991, when he recalled that Dr Wolf “lived a couple of doors down the corridor” at a time when some students were opposing a Christmas celebration.

    Dr Wolf called that account a “fever dream” when it was circulated on Twitter on Monday, pointing out she was at Oxford several years earlier. “I was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford 1985-88. Angus Taylor recalls me in a fever dream at Oxford in 1991 among those warring on Xmas,” she wrote.’]

    Dr Naomi Wolf
    @naomirwolf

    I was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford 1985-88. Angus Taylor recalls me in a fever dream at Oxford in 1991 among those warring on Xmas.(I was in NYC). (Plus I love Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa.) Flattered to be on this mythological hate list. Imaginary “war on Xmas” worked in US too.

    1,243
    12:52 PM – Dec 2, 2019′]

  21. Please allow yourselves to imagine, for a moment, what could have been if Erik Locke hadn’t gotten his way in the Victorian Senate preference negotiations in 2004.

  22. Indigenous Australians didn’t need to invent the wheel. They lived here successfully for 40000 years without it. In fact, you could say that they were ahead of the walking for health curve that a lot of Whitefellas have adopted due to overuse of wheeled vehicles. 🙂

  23. lizzie says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Katharine Murphy
    @murpharoo
    ·
    1m
    .
    @AlboMP
    in the final caucus meeting of the year has dubbed
    @ScottMorrisonMP’s year Angus Horribilis
    #auspol

    -0-

    Didn’t someone on PB coin that excellent title last week? Albo must be a follower of PB.

  24. @AlboMP
    in the final caucus meeting of the year has dubbed
    @ScottMorrisonMP’s year Angus Horribilis
    #auspol

    Wasnt that poroti’s line?

  25. Albanese says Labor will continue to pursue Scott Morrison over his “Angus Horribilus”

    That’s next level Zinger material. I don’t think Shorten could ever have reached the giddy heights of that one…

  26. @ewster
    ·
    12m
    Decades ago we were told about the brain drain that would result from cutting funding to academics, universities and science.

    Today we have Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. You were all warned.

  27. Comparative civilization analyses that are based on the assumption that the degree of a civilization’s worthiness is partly determined by the degree of its technical developments are, IMO, analyses based on assumptions about values and usually that one set of values is superior to another set of values.

    One such value is longevity. There is no particular value in a civilization lasting for either a long time or for a short time, IMO.

  28. KJ
    Your Spit seems to have a call sign ‘Up..U’.
    Doubtless an accident.
    There is a famous WW 2 photo in which Admiral Cunningham, wearing a broad grin, is artfully arranged so that his body hides the ‘W’ from ‘Warspite’

  29. When Donald Trump is onto a #winning formula, he sticks to it:

    The Trump administration has quietly released more than $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon after months of unexplained delay, the Associated Press reports.

    The White House has yet to offer any explanation for the delay, despite repeated queries from Congress. Officials familiar with the matter told the Associated Press that, unlike Ukraine, there has been no suggestion that President Donald Trump is seeking “a favour” from Lebanon in exchange for the aid.

    (Courtesy of the UK Guardian)

    I mean, how do we know Trump wasn’t doing a favour for someone else? Like Erdogan, for instance? And getting the correct information out of this White House is like pulling teeth.

  30. A week or so ago I ventured the opinion that there were some, at least, among Greens supporters who were biding their time on being open about banning recreational angling and thoroughbred horse racing. And that the Greens elites had sensibly formed the political judgement that this would be a bridge too far for many potential Greens voters.

    (In this context I made an allusion to wealthy Inner Urbs ‘Compleat Anglers’ but this either flew over everyone’s heads or below their disdains).

    Has the Greens Deputy Mayor of Randwick Council just behaved in a way that supports this theory?

  31. The Coalition and the Greens routinely used ‘zinger’ as a way of pouring condescension on Shorten in their team effort to Kill Bill.

    This meme was enthusiastically taken up by sections of the MSM. Some of the latter were among those who, without the slightest sense of irony, decried vanilla, blancmange, pre-programmed, dead bat responses from politicians.

    It absolved them all from having actually to parse the substance of what Shorten was saying.

    It was just one of the many and varied assaults for six years on Shorten by that cack-handed bunch of bastards – Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison, Di Natale, Hanson, Palmer, McCormack and Hanson – who Killed Bill and delivered us Morrison and subsidized fossil fuel burning.

    It must be time to Assassinate Albo because the old ‘zinger’ routine is being exhumed by the same set of arseholes who delivered us Morrison.

  32. Stemming from his service in the Falklands War, Andrew claims to have contracted hypohidrosis. Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims he sweated profusely when dancing with her, and there’s other photographic evidence showing that he perspires naturally. If Andrew is to be believed, he should release evidence that he’s been diagnosed with an inability to sweat and when the diagnosis was made. Also, his dairies at the relevant times and those of his security detail should be released:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/dec/02/prince-andrew-accuser-virginia-giuffre-asks-uk-public-to-stand-by-her-in-bbc-interview

  33. Firefox @ #60 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 9:31 am

    “A carbon price has been defeated politically. Emphatically to the point where the mere spectre of it repulses the very people that the Labor + Greens plurality need to defeat the LNP on any issue …”

    ***

    So because Abbott repealed it after being gifted power that means we should just give up? Really? You can raise the white flag if you wish but we won’t be.

    For those going on about the majority not supporting Greens’ policies or words to that effect, may I remind you that it was the Greens who spent decades campaigning in support of Marriage Equality. For a long time SSM was not supported by a majority, either in Parliament or in the wider public. Nevertheless, we persisted. Did we give up when Labor repeatedly sided with the Coalition to block Marriage Equality all those times we introduced legislation to make it legal? Hell no! Did we give up because a large number of Australians were opposed to it? Hell no! We kept fighting and campaigning to make it legal until it happened.

    Climate change and taking action to reduce emissions is no different. We won’t give up. Just as we didn’t give in to the homophobes who tried to stop us legalising SSM, we won’t give in to the climate deniers either.

    I heard the author of the latest report in Australia on CC this morning cite government inaction on reducing emissions over a couple of decades.
    Seemed to have forgotten we had falling emissions during the two years of a price on carbon.
    Actually, everyone seems to have forgotten.
    Even Labor.
    Strange.

  34. Boerwar
    Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 10:23 am
    Comment #89

    There is a famous WW 2 photo in which Admiral Cunningham, wearing a broad grin, is artfully arranged so that his body hides the ‘W’ from ‘Warspite’

    I’m constantly amazed at the “stuff” that posters to Poll Bludger can recall – seemingly at the drop of a hat – or the cry of a cockatoo – or the imaginary sound of a Merlin Engine.

  35. I think what some would call left extreme views – like completely banning this or that – are a worthwhile balance for the polar opposites – like shooting elephants to make up for having a tiny dick. The counterweight argument works for me, keeping things pulled toward some sort of central position. Disclaimer: I am increasingly trying to not kill anything. But I eat chicken and fish. Flies are a problem still. What to do. Cockroaches are OK around here. Spiders in the house get a free pass unless they’re deadly, and haven’t seen a nasty for years. Ducks help. Ducks like baby spiders apparently. Then there’s fungi. They help the trees talk to each other. I did read that they are the true intelligent life on this planet. No trees …

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