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.

2,479 comments on “Winners and losers”

  1. Labor would be very wise to regard at least some of their Victorian seats as being at risk. They really outperform in Victoria and the Liberals will be plotting to win a few. Labor have to figure out how to win seats in WA and Queensland while defending the ground they hold elsewhere. The Greens will do their utmost to prevent this.

  2. lizzie

    Something which has been a constant source of annoyance to me from the beginning of the carbon debate is the concentration on the cost of action “It will put power prices up”, endlessly emphasised by LNP speakers. The media has taken it up so that the cost of electricity is the only show in town.

    I run into the same issues with High Speed Rail, so one of the first things I do when I meet bureaucrats and politicians is I ask the question “what is the cost of doing nothing?”. In the case of HSR, the cost of doing nothing is spending tens of billions on roads that didn’t need to get built. It makes them think.

    With electricity, the cost of delay isn’t just the environmental costs – its the cost of deferred benefits. Australia could go back to being a world leading steel maker for instance, with sufficient build out of renewables and hydrogen production.

  3. “ Bass, Chisholm, Boothby, Swan, Braddon, Reid, La Trobe, Casey, Deakin, Brisbane, Lindsay, Banks, Sturt & Higgins.”

    As an outer stater I hesitate but suggest that both Sturt and Higgins are doubtful starters. I know that Brisbane is a no go zone now, unless there is an epic national landslide.

    I think Hasluck is a seat to target in WA and I’m not giving up on Forde, Petrie or even some regional seats like Herbert, Capricornia and Flynn in Queensland but serious fences need to be mended – perhaps over several Parliamentary terms.

  4. AE and AZ,

    Mine would be something along the lines of: Bass, Chisholm, Boothby, Swan, Braddon, Reid, La Trobe, Casey, Deakin, Brisbane, Lindsay, Banks, Sturt & Higgins.

    I can only speak to the Sydney seats, but Banks is a hard ask. It has undergone demographic change to push it more towards a “Shire” type seat – large Chinese Pentecostal /Christian Fundamentalist presence, who are now very rusted-on to the coalition, together with a big rise in house prices in the area.

    Lindsay should be possible, giving that Susan Templeman (ALP) kept the adjacent Macquarie this time. But I know there are people here who live in Lindsay, and so it would be interesting to hear what they think.

    Reid is an odd one. Very affluent these days, lots of water views, nice marina’s on the Parramatta river bays. However, it sits between Benelong and Grayndler, and has the sort of educated, professional population who swung towards Labor in seats such as Wentworth and Kooyong (should have made sure of that, but I think that is the case). Also, the state Liberal member for Drummoyne, John Sidoti, has recently been in the News for question property deals:

    NSW Sports Minister John Sidoti is under mounting pressure to explain his property investments as Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered an urgent review into his conduct.

    A parliamentary committee also voted to refer Mr Sidoti to the state’s corruption watchdog late on Thursday after the Minister’s appearance before a budget estimates hearing.

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/how-did-you-get-that-property-minister-grilled-over-links-to-70-million-development-20190912-p52qjp.html

  5. From Boerwars post linking the Guardian article on how unprecedented this years fires are…
    Of note….

    the 1974 fires burned through largely remote country mostly in the state’s far west, devouring green, non-woody herbaceous plants. The conditions were created by above average rainfall which produced ample fuel in outback grasslands.

    Bradstock says a range of published research has found escalating atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing the risk of the type of fires affecting NSW’s eastern forests, but reducing the likelihood of a similar fire to that experienced in 1974.

  6. RI
    says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 12:01 pm
    Labor would be very wise to regard at least some of their Victorian seats as being at risk. They really outperform in Victoria and the Liberals will be plotting to win a few. Labor have to figure out how to win seats in WA and Queensland while defending the ground they hold elsewhere. The Greens will do their utmost to prevent this.
    __________________
    Talking out your ass. Corangamite is the only Labor seat at risk to the Libs in Victoria.

  7. P1

    Yes, AE with his “verbotem scum” is just more of that colourful language or ott rhetoric he likes to use that some others might find endearing and persuasive.

  8. I suggest that the outcome will not be unicameral and that this matters when looking at the massive changes required.

    It is not enough to scrape in by a seat or two in the House.

    We need dominance in the Senate to get ambitious global warming programs through.
    In that light, even were we to forego (and/or piss off) the Bush, because we think we can scrape it in by way of the Inner Urbs and Outer Urbs, is not a wise strategy.

  9. D&M and nath

    Agree. Western Sydney and Tassie would be the more likely “soft targets” for Labor to win over.

    Despite the stuff going on about Gladys Liu in Chisholm, I can’t see it flipping to Labor though I still hope it might eventuate.

  10. The Rudd Government refused to use its popularity in 2009 to push for a strong scheme. It just wanted a scheme that would enable it to say that it had done something about climate change. The Greens didn’t want to go along with that.

  11. @Douglas and Milko….

    Lindsay is basically two halves……St Marys and Penrith with St Marys ALP and Penrith/Emu Plains Lib.
    To win Lindsay you have to get the McMansion vote from Penrirh/Glenmore Park…etc. Shorten did and got rid of Fiona Scott and took the seat but they went the other way with Morrison.
    St Marys and areas vote ALP…..if you go to the AEC website the figures will back me up. When David Bradbury lost the seat he carried the St Marys end but not Penrith.

  12. Yes, it was probably a largeish Antechinus. Not a Bush Rat.

    Did it have a bottle brush tail?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brush-tailed_phascogale

    I found a reference to “chidditches running across my roof”, which could fit Phascogales (or some other arboreal mammal.)

    The “Free stock photo of chiditch, eating, hand” (commas are important…) looks like a Southern Brown Bandicoot – definitely not a roof runner.

  13. Yep. A good feature of the article is that it is nuanced and uses various ways of defining and considering the issues.

    The climate is changing. Rainfall, temperature, wind – all changing. That will change ecosystems. It will change the environment, farming, townships, regional populations….. It will change a lot more. It will change things in small and very significant ways, some slow to materialise, some exponentially increase, others will be dramatic.

    For a relatively conservative bunch you wonder why right leaning politicians and their voters seem happy about that. They think reducing carbon emissions is a big change. Wait and see what climate change is going to do.

    If people in the bush, the regions, on farms and in country towns value their way of life – they should be supporting urgent and strong carbon emissions reductions.

  14. What was the exact makeup of the Senate before and after July 2008? If I recall correctly, in neither case did Labor+Green have the majority. But I’m happy to be corrected.

  15. I struggle to understand why Labor is not defending the Carbon Tax, which was supported by the Greens and Independents. Also it was a superior policy than the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (or CPRS).

    @Pegasus

    I argue if Labor had a platform along the lines of what Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are campaigning on. Then, I argue that Labor has a good chance of winning electorates, in Northern Tasmania, Central Coast of NSW, along with Northern and Central Queensland and working class dominated areas of Perth.

    However, Western Sydney is actually quite mixed, with the Liberals currently holding more Middle Class electorates, while Labor holds the more working class ones. So if Labor was campaigning on such a platform I have described, it’s vote would go up in Working Class suburbs, however not very much if at all in the Middle Class suburbs. I can see Labor winning Lindsay, however Banks and Reid would be tougher propositions.

  16. Pup Fiction
    @jjjove
    · 17m
    Using sophisticated ageing image software, computer scientists were able to determine what the two Gold Coast Young Liberals will look like in 30 years time.

  17. Simon Katich says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm
    ‘…
    If people in the bush, the regions, on farms and in country towns value their way of life – they should be supporting urgent and strong carbon emissions reductions.
    …’

    …instead of clubbing to death the very last Great Auk…

    The political problem seems to be that everyone thinks that everyone else should do the sacrifices for the good of the whole.

    For example. Probably the best systemic reduction in CO2 emissions would come from the Inner Urbs persons halving their consumption of transport and housing. They could halve their per capita floor space. They could get rid of their vehicles altogether right now. They could also halve their o/s and domestic travel. They could halve the amount of clothes they own. They could reduce their food miles by half. They could subsist off low CO2 foods. All these things are possible and practicable.

    But somehow or other the solutions offered by the Inner Urbs are to slay the regions instead.

  18. The political problem seems to be that everyone thinks that everyone else should do the sacrifices for the good of the whole…. But somehow or other the solutions offered by the Inner Urbs are to slay the regions instead.

    I would be ecstatic to see the regions demanding stronger action on climate change.

  19. Tristosays:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 12:47 pm
    I struggle to understand why Labor is not defending the Carbon Tax, which was supported by the Greens and Independents. Also it was a superior policy than the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (or CPRS).
    ———————–

    Yes Tristo,

    So many laborites still seem to be suffering Stockholm syndrome from the Abbott days.
    Still too gutless and useless to argue or point out the only time emissions went down consistently. The guy was smashed in his own seat but it feels like some Laborites are still acting as if they’re his proxy representative… certainly some of the so-called self-proclaimed laborites here act more as LNP spruikers than critics, running the LNP talking points again and again.

    Seems some think that a few days of desperate and demented posts about Teh Greens from the noisy minors here is somehow a cure a for the climate emergency we are facing.

    In that mental state, it seems to make more psychological sense to some to expend pointless energy on Teh Greens. Than take the opportunity during the globally significant COP25 meeting to actually say anything useful about what Australia should be doing today to end fossil fuel use and carbon pollution that is destroying the climatic and ecological circumstance that has allowed human culture to grow.

    Gutless and desperate is what I see here from many laborites. Hardly appealing for anyone to vote for.

  20. Brisbane and SEQ is seeing smoke like it has never seen before. Don’t write it off.

    Wanna know how the two houses of parliament would look if you take out QLD?

  21. Cud Chewer

    If wikipedia can be trusted they report the election result as….

    ………..37 coalition (32 Liberal, four National, one CLP), 32 Labor, five Green, one Family First, and one independent, Nick Xenophon. Senator terms are six years (three for territories), and took their seats from 1 July 2008, except the territories who took their seats immediately.

  22. Tristo

    I struggle to understand why Labor is not defending the Carbon Tax, which was supported by the Greens and Independents. Also it was a superior policy than the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (or CPRS).

    It would appear AE, Albanese and Wong haven’t persuaded you to their worldview.

    Their priority is to distance themselves from any association with the Greens as such an association is toxic to those voters who really matter in Queensland.

    Wong’s stunt of a motion yesterday is just the beginning of Labor’s political strategy to break asunder the conflation of Labor with the Greens in the minds of those voters who really matter. What motion? asks those voters who really matter.

  23. In 2008, Labor + Green did not hold a Senate majority. The balance of power was held by Stephen Fielding of Family First, a right wing religious party that could be depended upon by the Coalition. Think Cory Bernardi, but stupider and wackier.

  24. The Guardian

    The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, is addressing caucus. He says Labor is moving forward.

    After spending yesterday turning its laser-like focus on events that occurred a decade ago and concentrating on the real enemy, those evil Greens.

  25. Wanna know how the two houses of parliament would look if you take out QLD?

    Unconstitutional?

    Ah fuck it, that’s the best I can do.

  26. Steve777

    I had forgotten about Fielding. Ah the good old days of Family First 🙂

    during the Senate discussion on the proposed Paid Parental Leave Scheme, Fielding suggested “some women may rort the scheme by deliberately falling pregnant and then having a late-term abortion”……………………..Senator Fielding believes a provision in the laws which allows for mothers of still-born babies to claim leave could be rorted by “drug addicts” and “welfare cheats” who have had a late-term abortion.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/17/2929288.htm

  27. Wong’s stunt of a motion yesterday…

    There was a stunt in parliament yesterday?
    If an acorn fall in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, WGAF?

  28. Pegasussays:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    The Guardian

    The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, is addressing caucus. He says Labor is moving forward.

    After spending yesterday turning its laser-like focus on events that occurred a decade ago and concentrating on the real enemy, those evil Greens.

    No, just pointing out the Greens missed a chance to progress climate policy.

  29. Ok so the senate from July 1 2008 had Labor+Green at 37.

    Two votes shy of being able to pass legislation. And if I recall correctly the situation was worse for Labor before then. I do recall for instance the Liberals be quite obstructionist in the earlier part of 2008.

  30. SK

    Apparently, AE reckoned it was a master stroke by Wong.

    I certainly don’t’ give a rats but it amused me to riff off it to highlight the hypocrisy of the usual suspects when they regularly go on about those evil Greens’ stunts.

  31. Barilaro is using the Can the Plan Convoy to do some grandstanding.

    Not sure where this is going to end up being yet another blowhard posturing fit (he has form) or whether he succeeds in:

    (a) generating further rivers of cash flowing to irrigators
    (b) forcing the further diversion of environmental water to irrigators.
    (c) returning ‘saved’ water which has been paid for by the Feds (you&I) back to farmers.

    Watch this space…

  32. Chisholm will depend on the direction it gets any redistribution. If it heads to Glen Waverley, it stays blue. If it heads towards Nunawading/Forest Hill, it goes red.
    Same for Deakin, if it loses Croydon Hills or North Ringwood (pretty much anywhere in the green wedge) it turns red.

  33. Monash University political scientist Nick Economou said it was ironic that Senator Fielding had become a thorn in Labor’s side, because it was a Labor preference deal that saw him elected.

    “For some reason Labor decided it would be in their interests to court the religious right,” he said.

    “This is nothing less than Labor deserves. They put the guy there.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/fielding-first-one-man-one-vote-and-a-whole-lot-of-power-20080927-4pdz.html

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