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”

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  1. I see The Greens’ luvvies and bloviators like Quoll, are still saying that if only Labor would be more like us……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. They too would end up with 10% of the vote. 😆

  2. In the eary part of 2008 the Coalition still had their majority from 2004. From mid 2008 it was Labor + Green 37, Fielding 1, X 1, Coalition 37.

    Fielding could be regarded as a virtual member of the Coalition, giving them enough to block legislation but not a majority. If X sided with Labor it was 38-38 and deadlock. If he sided with the Coalition they won.

  3. Pegasus says:
    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.

    The more that Labor can do to distinguish themselves from the Greens the better it will go for Labor. Luckily, since the Greens campaign against Labor all the time, there are plenty of themes Labor can choose to accentuate the differences.

    The Greens are an anti-Labor outfit. This needs to be stated as often as possible.


    Labor will seek to force the government to change controversial encryption-piercing legislation, introducing amendments to the Senate in line with the findings of a bipartisan parliamentary committee.

    The government rushed the Assistance and Access Bill through Parliament late last year with Labor’s support. The opposition has since accused the government of breaking a promise to put in place a series of amendments to the legislation.

    How shocking! The Coalition has broken a promise!

  5. Of course nowadays there is no need for Labor to direct preferences to religious numpties. They preselect them:

    Labor senator Kimberley Kitching — a close ally and friend of Bill Shorten — is moving to create a bipartisan parliamentary group that will defend “Judeo-Christian” values.

  6. Tristo says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    I struggle to understand why Labor is not defending the Carbon Tax

    The carbon tax was Green-ware. It still is. Labor are not going to die win a ditch defending Greenery.

    The greater the distance between the Greens and Labor the better.

  7. “ I certainly don’t’ give a rats but it amused me to riff off it …”

    Of course, Little Pony, it was water off a duck’s back for you.

    Which is why you feel the need to remind us all 24 hours later …

  8. A letter to Crikey this morning:

    James Burke writes: The Coalition’s been in government for six years. So why is Labor attacking the Greens again? For ten years Labor’s been trying to summon the courage to stand up to the schoolyard bullies. Every morning it whispers into the mirror: “This time. Today’s the day I tell Rupert and Gina and Alan and the rest to piss off, and they’ll see I mean business and leave me alone!” Yet every day, year after year, it wets its pants and hands over its lunch money… then goes looking for a smaller kid to pick on.

  9. Peg and alpha Zero,

    Thanks for the information on Chisholm and Deakin.

    It sounds as though Chisholm has a lot in common with Banks, while Deakin may be similar to Reid.

  10. Sonar,

    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.

    Thanks for that. I thought it was you who had previously commented on this.

    Kingswood used to be, a few decades ago, white but poor.

    Werrington was where you started to encounter “New Australians” as my bigoted ex-MIL used to call them.

    On the other hand Penrith township was always pretty affluent. The local doctors and lawyers tended to live out at Mulgoa, on acres, but I think Glenmore Park is a compromise for those who do not want to drive too far to work. I think a lot of Polis and small business people can be found in Glenmore Park.

    It sounds like the Kingswood / Werrington line dividing east and west is as strong as it was in 1970. My father taught at St Mary’s hight at the time, and the contrast was notable.

    I am still gobsmacked at how white the Blue Mountains is when I visit after moving out two decades ago. Stuck in a time warp.

  11. Kronomex says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    What a pair of vile little turds.

    I expect the “disciplinary action” will be along the lines of a bit, “Tsk, tsk.” finger waving and a slap on the wrist with a piece of soggy spaghetti.
    And what a stupid argument. The wheel wasn’t invented by the English or any Europeans for that matter. The world’s knowledge was assembled from the vast array of cultures and peoples. Is there anything more nauseating than a Young Liberal?

  12. SK

    Recorder teachers are so underpaid.

    They would be immeasurably better off financially if they crowdfunded for money on the promise to stop teaching the recorder.

  13. Someone was commenting on Marriage Equality.

    A reminder the LGBTI community did not want a public vote on their rights. Labor and the Greens agreed.

    Any losses in Western Sydney due to this are because of the insistence of the likes of Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce.

    NONE of the true supporters of Marriage Equality wanted a debate damaging to mental health. This also means the Greens backing the community was not advocating a tactic that would put Labor Western Sydney seats at risk.

    Probably a serendipitous factor in Labor’s backing of the same position.

    I personally wanted the delay so Labor could just legislate it.
    Be in no doubt it was the LNP and only the LNP and their allies that made it into such an issue in conservative religious areas like Western Sydney.

    We don’t need to revise history. We should acknowledge that the people’s choice was final and got the backs up of a small minority in Labor marginal seats as a result.

    The LNP have been campaigning on hate the gays for years Labor had it sorted. Doubt me see Senator Abetz in Tasmania campaigning to keep homosexuality a criminal offence.

    Just like with Climate Change don’t revise history because the LNP won volatile voters enough to win by one seat. If you doubt the volatile I think it’s another term for unengaged voters. Susceptible to false claims in a campaign.

    Edit: Therefore Daniel Andrews approach is fine. Look at the vote he got in even LNP seats backing the human rights of LGBTI people.

  14. When they grow out of Frozen it gets worse. Then they want you to take them clothes shopping. For hours. And hours.
    Q How does this look?
    A Like a homeless prostitute.

    The clothing options for children in the big stores are a disgrace.

  15. SK I was in a large chain department store last night just chasing a plain white t-shirt for my youngest.

    The boys shirts were $3, the girls ones were $6. The differences in the cut were minimal, the girls one had smaller arm holes and were pulled in slightly around the waist.

  16. If Albanese is serious about Morrison not being able to tell the truth and just tell mistruth and misleads the parliament

    Then Albanese should instruct the Labor party in both houses not to support any legislation put by Morrison and his cronies until they are transparent .

  17. Sorry I forgot to add. The Marriage Equality survey was also a reason why there was such high confidence in the polls. The survey results run by the AEC were remarkably similar to the polls.

    The difference from the Federal election. Voters were engaged.

    Edit: So Labor pick an issue that can get voters engaged. WorkChoices did the same thing. That’s why I think an issue like a Wealth Tax could be engaging.

  18. Guytaur,

    It was me that raised ME and my point was that those advocating to wait would still be waiting.

    You need to grab things when they present themselves in politics, otherwise you can easily miss to boat.

  19. Alpha

    The Billionaires have attacked Warren on backing away from Medicare4all. Not her wealth tax. They have still not stopped Senator Sanders who has a clear position of their should be no billionaires and Universal Health Care.

    We shall see. The point is Labor can pick an issue to frame the narrative to engage voters. It can be very progressive and it can win.

  20. GBR Foundation – cash give away
    NBN -debacle
    MDB Authority – contorted compromise
    Banks – fraud
    Robodebt – persecution of the poor
    Health Insurance – unregulated on-going rorting
    Health Services – regulated corruption
    Taxation – hopelessly compromised
    Climate Change – strategic denial
    Australia has a corrupt government which has contributed willingly to create many undesirable outcomes, a divided, disillusioned voting public and is in urgent need of a change of direction.
    Any number of diversions is of benefit to the accidental PM.

  21. Barney

    ME had become inevitable under Labor. It would have happened just like the legislation when Rudd first got elected.

    Nary a murmur from voters over equality under legislation including social security.
    The ability of the LNP to divide society should not be underestimated

    Edit: As Senator Wong spot on the LNP in her pushback talking about China proved on Insiders.

  22. Compare NZ v England boredom fest drawn test match with Nepal v Maldives womens 20/20.

    Maldives all out for 16 (Anjali Chand 6-0) . Nepal got the runs in 5 balls.

  23. Those young Liberal bogans should be aware that it’s likely the wheel was invented in or around Mesopotamia and probably in China as well.

    The immediate ancestors of bogans probably stole the idea. 🙂

  24. With rabid supporters like Pegasus and her comments about Labor supporters that drip with contempt you can easily see why The Greens have internal problems. Alex Bhathal’s assessment was spot on. The Greens must be a nest of vipers.

  25. guytaursays:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 3:05 pm


    ME had become inevitable under Labor. It would have happened just like the legislation when Rudd first got elected.

    Ummmmm, Labor didn’t win.

    Could you see Morrison presenting legislation?

    I think it would be fair to say that if it had been postponed to after the election, ME would not be legislated now.

  26. frednk @ #67 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 9:45 am


    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.

    The ABC News report says this:

    Ms Plesman also took aim at Labor during her demonstration on Monday morning.
    “We’ve got no leadership, we’ve got no discussion, we’ve got no debate, we’ve got nothing,” she said.
    “We need a bipartisan approach.
    “I completely understand that the Labor Party are absent in this as well.”

    So why do you say Pegasus is spreading disinformation? Doesn’t read like that to me.

  27. swamprat

    Those young Liberal bogans should be aware that it’s likely the wheel was invented in or around Mesopotamia and probably in China as well.

    The immediate ancestors of bogans probably stole the idea.

    Even after stealing it there was a decades long period called the ‘Uni Age’. This was period before the bogans realised that having ‘a’ wheel is fine and dandy but you really need to use at least two of them.

  28. The purpose of a wealth tax would be to reduce inequality. It would not provide the federal government with increased spending power. Federal tax receipts control inflation, control inequality, or modify behaviour. They have nothing to do with the government’s financial capacity.

  29. Barney in Tanjung Bunga @ #242 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 3:29 pm

    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 3:05 pm


    ME had become inevitable under Labor. It would have happened just like the legislation when Rudd first got elected.

    Ummmmm, Labor didn’t win.

    Could you see Morrison presenting legislation?

    I think it would be fair to say that if it had been postponed to after the election, ME would not be legislated now.

    Barney, I’m wondering how much Morrison’s election was a reaction to SSM, i.e. a nominal (if not actual) christian fundamental blowback. As Trump is to Obama …

  30. Nicholas
    In other words it is a pointless exercise so people can fell good they did something without actually doing the hard work of actually helping the disadvantaged.

  31. poroti @ #130 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 11:35 am


    Elites sprouting latin; they speak just like us. What a vote-winner.

    Us hoi polloi became very aware of the ‘elite’ latin term ‘annus horribilis’ because it was ‘everywhere’ after Betty Windsor used it to describe a rotten year back in the 90s.

    ” rel=”nofollow”>

    The Sun newspaper rather cleverly headlined it as One’s Bum Year. Most of its readers probably wouldn’t have got the pun!

  32. Simon Katich @ #59 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 7:59 am

    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.

    The lack of genuine (and timely) accountability for our political class is destroying us.

    I would like the non-government Senators to present a united front and say to the government: ‘We will not pass any further (non-emergency) legislation, until the full enabling legislation for a properly resourced and empowered federal anti-corruption body has been passed.’

    Single most useful thing they could do for this country.


    ItzaDream @ #100 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 9:09 am

    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.

    Ducks are also superb cockroach controllers, and they don’t tear the garden up like chickens do.


    Boerwar @ #109 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 9:30 am

    My view is that he cumulative list of Greens plans to ban stuff in the bush is not just a philosophical issue. Nor is it simply a matter of competing policies. It is a matter of political suicide for team Labor/Greens. Just in case you have forgotten just what the Greens plan to do.
    Close down:
    Beef feedlots
    Poultry sheds
    Camp drafts
    Dog racing
    Live exports of beef
    Duck hunting
    Kennel breeding of dogs
    Kangaroo hunting
    Buffalo hunting
    Pig hunting
    All uranium mines
    Lucas Heights reactor/radiation medical production
    All uranium exports
    All conventional gas production facilities>
    Beef farming
    The three joint spy bases
    Around a dozen major fleet, air and army bases

    There is reason to believe that the following would be added to the bans list:
    Recreational angling
    Thoroughbred racing

    The NT has delivered Labor at least 2 (out of a possible 4) federal NT MPs since 2001, and 3/4 on three occasions, including the last two elections.

    If the items on that {edited} list above actually looked like standing a chance of being implemented, the centre-left could kiss goodbye to at least one of those 3 seats (a Reps), and probably 2 of them (both Reps), leaving them with just 1/4 federal seats (a Senate).

    The Greens have an interesting relationship with the NT electorate. In federal elections they score about their national average. But in local NT elections, they have never managed even 5%, let alone winning a seat, and have been trending consistently down for some years (currently on just 2.9%). For all practical purposes they are irrelevant to local NT governance.

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