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.

2,481 comments on “Winners and losers”

  1. Not Sure

    Back in the day at the Wisdom Bar in Darwin one of the barmen used to go through quite a ritual when serving a bottle of the Sparkling. Deftly rolling it back and forth across the bar as he ‘prepped’ it for pouring out 🙂

  2. If you age a box of coopers long necks for a year, stored upright and carefully decanted into a jug, leaving sludge behind, you get a pretty good beer. Having said that I don’t drink it anymore for ideological reasons. Too much good German beer out there to be bothered with those nutbags…..

  3. pica says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    …”If you age a box of coopers long necks for a year, stored upright and carefully decanted into a jug, leaving sludge behind, you get a pretty good beer. Having said that I don’t drink it anymore for ideological reasons. Too much good German beer out there to be bothered with those nutbags”…

    Every time you walk into a shop you are putting money in the pocket of a capitalist and probable Liberal voter.

  4. Nicholas:

    No. A wealth tax doesn’t do that. If there are profitable productive investment opportunities available, people will invest in them now, regardless of whether or not there is a wealth tax.

    You have conflated profitable and productive and neglected to consider the tax effect. People will of course make investments (resulting) in assets that are profitable after tax is applied. The effect of Australia’s current tax system is to favour unproductive assets (for example certain financial securities and real estate) over productive assets (for example factories – anything that produces goods and non-finnacial services in such a way that they can be sold at a profit over the cost of productio). There is no general preference for productive over unproductive, instead any preference arises from the tax treatment and its effect on profitability. An “idle wealth” tax would operate in the opposite direction to Australia’s current tax system and implement a tax preference for productive asset holding over unproductive asset holding. This will be output maximising and (at least historically) tends to be labour demand maximising (which reduces insequality by strengthening the bargaining power of labour).

  5. C@tmomma @ #333 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 6:59 pm

    I’ll never drink Coopers again. They happily aided and abetted Tony Abbott’s ‘Carbon Tax’ campaign. ‘Oh what will it cost us to pay the Carbon Tax! What will it cost the Hoteliers to keep our beer cold in their refrigerators! Liberals, through and through.

    Too right. Coopers are big donors to the Liberal Party and big donors to the Bible Society and make their donation money making beer, even a special beer commemorating 200 years of Bible Societing. The last time I checked alcohol was listed as the most dangerous drug in Australia. *

    Then Abbott rocks on down to Coopers with the press in tow, to preach the need to limit renewables so good businesses like Coopers could keep up their drug making without blackouts while overlooking the not irrelevant fact that Coopers have their own gas fired power plant, and kept the wheels of business rolling while the rest of SA was blacked out. Duh.

    *Note: legality doesn’t make something safe, nor illegality make something dangerous.

  6. ItzaDream says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    C@tmomma @ #333 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 6:59 pm

    I’ll never drink Coopers again. They happily aided and abetted Tony Abbott’s ‘Carbon Tax’ campaign. ‘Oh what will it cost us to pay the Carbon Tax! What will it cost the Hoteliers to keep our beer cold in their refrigerators! Liberals, through and through

    -0-
    .
    While I heartily agree, I suspect that we might be subject to prosecution under the Gulag’s proposed secondary boycott legislation if we did anything to affect the sales and profits of supporters of the LNP.

  7. And on the subject of renewables, some homes on Sydney’s North Shore have been without power for a week following severe storms. Aren’t our virile coal-fired electrons up to the job? Or was it those pesky renewable electrons again.

  8. N,

    “No. A wealth tax doesn’t do that. If there are profitable productive investment opportunities available, people will invest in them now, regardless of whether or not there is a wealth tax.”

    Ted didn’t say profitable, he said productive. I would interpret that as having a broad rather than narrow meaning too (i.e. not purely monetisable productive activity).

    You do understand what economic rents are, right?

  9. Steve777 @ #357 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 8:25 pm

    And on the subject of renewables, some homes on Sydney’s North Shore have been without power for a week following severe storms. Aren’t our virile coal-fired electrons up to the job? Or was it those pesky renewable electrons again.

    But the Electrical Trades Union said the length of the large-scale blackout highlights the impact of job cuts, claiming the workforce at NSW’s three electricity distributors had been slashed by 40 per cent.

    “Ausgrid alone has seen approximately 2000 jobs go with another 315 people made redundant earlier this year,” union secretary Justin Page said in a statement.

    https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/6519311/storm-hit-sydney-homes-wait-days-for-power/?cs=9397

  10. Oh poo I’m drinking some Coopers celebration ale right now – I quite like it. Coopers will be added to my boycott list though (when I’ve finished my supply) Up yours the Cooper family……

  11. Steve777 @ #357 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 8:25 pm
    And on the subject of renewables, some homes on Sydney’s North Shore have been without power for a week following severe storms. Aren’t our virile coal-fired electrons up to the job? Or was it those pesky renewable electrons again.

    But the Electrical Trades Union said the length of the large-scale blackout highlights the impact of job cuts, claiming the workforce at NSW’s three electricity distributors had been slashed by 40 per cent.

    “Ausgrid alone has seen approximately 2000 jobs go with another 315 people made redundant earlier this year,” union secretary Justin Page said in a statement.

    https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/6519311/storm-hit-sydney-homes-wait-days-for-power/?cs=9397

    (Reposting in the hope of more clarity.)

  12. frednk:

    [‘I do not understand this Virginia Giuffre – Prince Andrew thing, she was 17, is that below the age of consent in the location in question?’]

    Yes, the age of consent in England is sixteen years, since around 1885. That said, there’s an offence in the statute books known as sex-trafficking (vide Sexual Offences Act 2003). You could have done a simple search to have avoided making a fool of yourself.

  13. Ted didn’t say profitable, he said productive.

    If an activity is productive but not profitable, it needs to be done by the public sector. The private sector won’t touch it – and why would it? And why would we need it to? That is what the public sector is for. That is outside the scope of what we were talking about.

    We were talking about private sector investment. A private sector firm will only invest if it expects to profit. Both Ted and I favour a big shift away from purely speculative investment that serves no productive purpose. Hence my use of two adjectives- profitable and productive. At present there are plenty of profitable speculative activities available to the rich – which neither of us thinks is good.

    A wealth tax doesn’t create or remove profitable opportunities to invest. It reduces the wealth and power of the rich. That is its entire function. It is a laudable function. There are many other instruments for reducing inequality – predistribution measures are the main game here, not wealth taxes. But wealth taxes are not a bad idea.

  14. Steve777,

    And on the subject of renewables, some homes on Sydney’s North Shore have been without power for a week following severe storms. Aren’t our virile coal-fired electrons up to the job? Or was it those pesky renewable electrons again.

    I have just found out a relative in Pennant Hills is among those affected. It seems a long time for a first world country to take to fix some downed power lines.

  15. This is Helmet Cam, and it is pretty full on graphic stuff. (From ABC 7:30)

    “David Savage was almost killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2012. Working for AusAid at the time, Savage was the first civilian casualty of Australia’s war in Afghanistan. The injury has left him wheelchair-bound and unable to work, after a storied career as a United Nations war crimes investigator and an Australian Federal Police officer. Savage has spent the last eight years trying to make the Government recognise a series of failures in the lead-up to the attack, but he says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has stonewalled him.

    A helmet camera — worn by the US soldier assigned to protect him on the patrol between a scheduled meeting and the base — shows us what really happened. That includes the signs that were observed but then disregarded before the blast.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-03/helmet-cam-footage-shows-afghanistan-suicide-bomb-blast/11757108

  16. Itza,
    Thanks for you post at 8.36 pm:

    But the Electrical Trades Union said the length of the large-scale blackout highlights the impact of job cuts, claiming the workforce at NSW’s three electricity distributors had been slashed by 40 per cent.

    “Ausgrid alone has seen approximately 2000 jobs go with another 315 people made redundant earlier this year,” union secretary Justin Page said in a statement.

    https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/6519311/storm-hit-sydney-homes-wait-days-for-power/?cs=9397

    I thought it was likely lack of resources (staff and funding cuts) that had caused the long duration blackouts, rather than any physical limits in the system.

  17. I know nothing about submarines but the US Navy is paying a lot less for theirs ($US22b for nine subs) than Pyne’s purchase for Australia :

    The US Navy on Monday awarded its most expensive shipbuilding contract ever, more than $22.2 billion worth of the world’s most advanced submarines.

    The massive contract for nine nuclear-powered, Virginia class attack submarines comes just months after the head of the US Navy in the Pacific warned of a massive Chinese naval buildup and his trouble in getting enough submarines to counter it.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/03/politics/us-navy-submarines-contract-intl-hnk/index.html

  18. Itza,

    The Australian Energy Regulator determines the network companies’ levels of expenditure each 5 years, through a torturous cost-benefit process called the Regulatory Investment Test (for Distribution or Transmission, resp.).

    At the last determination, the AER wanted to do something to reduce DNSPs rate of return on their assets. So they cut Ausgrid’s allowed expenditure on linesmen and vegetation management (remarkably big ticket items for DNSPs), saying they should be more productive.

    Both Ausgrid and the union said this would cause trouble, one way or another.

  19. Douglas and Milko @ #371 Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 – 8:50 pm

    Itza,
    Thanks for you post at 8.36 pm:

    But the Electrical Trades Union said the length of the large-scale blackout highlights the impact of job cuts, claiming the workforce at NSW’s three electricity distributors had been slashed by 40 per cent.

    “Ausgrid alone has seen approximately 2000 jobs go with another 315 people made redundant earlier this year,” union secretary Justin Page said in a statement.

    https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/6519311/storm-hit-sydney-homes-wait-days-for-power/?cs=9397

    I thought it was likely lack of resources (staff and funding cuts) that had caused the long duration blackouts, rather than any physical limits in the system.

    D&M, we’re getting more like the USA I fear, in more ways than one. MOH is dead set certain that all this will only get much worse as climate disasters increase, and services are slashed in the name of profit. He’s waiting for batteries to come into a reasonably cost effective range so we can end up with solar (up and running) feeding into some decent storage capacity.

  20. I should add that the AER were trying to make up lost brownie points for cocking up the previous round of determinations that led* to allegations of “gold plating” by the networks.

    * For Lizzie

  21. D&M, we’re getting more like the USA I fear, in more ways than one.

    Yes, Trump wants to penalise California for going against his Emissions Increasing policies, and Morrison wants to do a similar thing to the States like Victoria who have banned Fracking.

  22. Privatisation = staff cut, corners cut, maintenance cut, with savings going to rent-seekers. Meanwhile prices for end users go through the roof. The worst possible thing for the stability of the power system.


  23. Mavis says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Yes, the age of consent in England is sixteen years, since around 1885. That said, there’s an offence in the statute books known as sex-trafficking (vide Sexual Offences Act 2003). You could have done a simple search to have avoided making a fool of yourself.

    That is interesting, you consider that trying to understand an issue is to make a fool of yourself.
    Is this a fair summary?
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/jun/01/sexual-offences-act-2003
    1) What is the difference between sex trafficking and prostitution.
    2) Is the issue that she was 17 and not 18?

  24. Dave LevitanVerified account@davelevitan
    7h7 hours ago
    They knew, in 1965, that the 1885-1940 increase in CO2 likely led to half a degree C of warming. Which uh, maybe should have raised a few more alarm bells?

    Dave LevitanVerified account@davelevitan
    7h7 hours ago
    It would take 4,000 years to melt the Antarctic ice sheet. But a 25% increase in CO2 concentration (see previous “ah well shit” tweet) could reduce that to 400 years. Also we’re past that 25% mark. So.

    Dave LevitanVerified account@davelevitan
    7h7 hours ago
    “Through his worldwide industrial civilization, Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment.”

    Okay yes but what’s the cutoff for “unwittingly” can we at least say that past 1965 it was wittingly.

    https://twitter.com/davelevitan/status/1201703710113460231

  25. citizen

    I am not sure whether the figures are like for like. The following are possible reasons:
    1. Whole of life including maintenance and upgrades
    2. The number of boats.

    I understand that the Virginia class boats were not considered for Australia basically because of fears of domestic opposition to nuclear-powered boats.

  26. “The conduct of Tracey Spicer has come under renewed scrutiny after it was revealed on Monday that she had threatened three women with legal action including a woman whose confidence she had betrayed in the most appalling fashion”

    Lawyer question . Why wouldn’t the women being threatened by Spicer take legal action against her, the ABC and the production company ?

  27. Thanks A M. Boning up on AER now; a politicised body?

    Not particularly. Tough gig, to be honest. Everyone hates the regulator. They made some mistakes, particularly regarding load forecasts, but only the same mistakes that everyone else made. We could ask William how that feels…

    The real problems are in the rules, as administered by the AEMC; and more precisely, the processes for changing the rules.

  28. When it comes to a wealth tax, I don’t care so much about it’s existence but my issue is that it is all good and well to increase government revenue and spending but from my experience of how government services operate has they were well explained in the original productivity commission report into the NDIS requested by Nath’s favorite polly 😉 we really need to fix how government services are delivered, if that were to happen then I wouldn’t object to then raising taxes to pay for better run systems but Its also true that government’s can tap the massive amounts of capital floating around the debt markets. It might be easier to simply add an income tax bracket rather than a stand alone wealth tax.

  29. Steve777

    Privatisation = staff cut, corners cut, maintenance cut, with savings going to rent-seekers. Meanwhile prices for end users go through the roof. The worst possible thing for the stability of the power system.

    It also means politicians relieve themselves of responsibility and boy is that attractive to our pollies. Problems with power/water/phone delivery and prices ? Well by golly the electorate could and would have a bone to pick with you the politician. Solution ? Privatise and wash your hands of responsibility. BONUS open up post carerr sinecure opportunities and or get lovely donations in “appreciation” from the winning tenderers.

  30. Bipartisanship

    Crossbench unites on China threat

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6525081/crossbench-unites-on-china-threat/?cs=14350

    “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.”

  31. I am staying out of the Virginia Giuffre issue but wasn’t the alleged act in 2000/2001.

    I.e a Bill passed in 2003 would not of been around at that point.

  32. And the Trump donor and Ukrainian identity Lev Parnas has flipped.. Turning over his collected works to the Feds.

    ‘Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman face charges of conspiracy, false statements and falsification of records in connection with two alleged schemes to violate U.S. election laws. But it’s their work helping Giuliani dig up dirt in Ukraine that has put the pair under intense public scrutiny.

    And a superseding indictment — which could add to or modify the existing charges — is likely, prosecutors said on Monday, but also adding that they’re continuing to evaluate the case.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and FBI investigators are making their way through what prosecutor Douglas Zolkind called a “voluminous” amount of evidence in the case — around 9 gigabytes’ worth.

    Clearing their way through that material — which includes electronic devices, phone records, bank records and more — would set the stage for the next steps.”

    https://www.npr.org/2019/12/02/784164817/prosecutors-more-charges-possible-in-case-of-giuliani-associates-parnas-fruman

  33. Not Sure says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    pica says:
    Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    …”If you age a box of coopers long necks for a year, stored upright and carefully decanted into a jug, leaving sludge behind, you get a pretty good beer. Having said that I don’t drink it anymore for ideological reasons. Too much good German beer out there to be bothered with those nutbags”…

    Every time you walk into a shop you are putting money in the pocket of a capitalist and probable Liberal voter.
    ————-
    Yet only the other day it was pointed out that two thirds of the ASX is now owned by the industry funds, the workers now dominate. It could be said that most people are capitalist because most people are investing their money into something.

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