Northern exposure

A by-election looms in the Northern Territory, plus not much else of psephological interest going on right now.

With the excitement of the British election over and done with, now begins the extended nothingness of the silly season. A few points worth noting to keep things ticking over:

• A by-election looms in the Northern Territory for the Darwin seat of Johnston, not far out from a territory election scheduled for August 22. This follows the retirement of Ken Vowles, who has held the seat since 2012. Vowles served as a minister after Labor came to power in 2016, but was one of three members expelled from the party caucus in December 2018 over a feud with Chief Minister Michael Gunner. Labor held the seat with a 14.7% margin in 2016, an election at which it won the two-party vote 58.5-41.5. A heavy swing at the by-election seems inevitable, but the Country Liberal Party to this point appears to be dragging its heels on naming a candidate. Labor has chosen Unions NT general secretary Joel Bowden, a former Richmond AFL player who says he’ll be putting in a 100% team effort. Former Chief Minister Terry Mills’ CLP breakaway party, Territory Alliance, is running Steven Klose, who according to the Northern Territory News held the curious position of “political adviser at the Northern Territory Electoral Commission”. Also in the field will be Braedon Earley of the Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water Party.

• In other by-election news, there isn’t any. Confident speculation a month or so ago that Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly would be gone by Christmas has less than a fortnight to bear fruit, and there also are no visible signs of progress on suggestions that Mark Dreyfus and Brendan O’Connor would be pulling the plug in Isaacs and Gorton.

Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald reports on jockeying for the Liberal preselection in Warringah, where the party faces the difficulty of its branches being dominated by conservatives in a seat whose voters gave Tony Abbott the flick in favour of independent Zali Steggall. Included on the watch list are “NSW upper house member Natalie Ward, Menzies Research Centre manager Tim James, Downer EDI executive and former Scott Morrison staffer Sasha Grebe, as well as management consultant and NSW Liberal Party state executive member Alex Dore”, along with Manly barrister Jane Buncle. Mike Baird, former Premier and now senior executive at NAB, set the hares running when he declined on opportunity to seek the position of chief executive at the bank, but “several Liberal sources doubted Mr Baird would want to take the pay cut to go to Canberra”.

• A number of victims of the Liberals’ 2018 Victorian election disaster are identified in The Age as potential successors for Mary Wooldridge’s Eastern Metropolitan seat in the Victorian Legislative Council, following her retirement announcement last week: John Pesutto, Heidi Victoria and Michael Gidley, respectively the former members for Hawthorn, Bayswater and Mount Waverley.

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.

5,091 comments on “Northern exposure”

  1. Nicholas:

    I think that under the 2011 (?) act, an early election requires a supermajority, perhaps even as high as 75% and that the above is not correct

    The Bill that was passed on 29th October was a new Bill that merely needed a simple majority to pass. You are forgetting that the Act of Parliament that created fixed terms is just an ordinary Act of Parliament that can be amended or replaced at any time by another Act of Parliament.

    I think this is probably wrong, though of course it is now impossible to know as it was not tested.

    It is clear that Mr Corbyn’s provision of the super-majority required under the Act rendered the point moot.

    Your subsequent post notes that the Lords and indeed Her Majesty are involved. It’s quite possible that:
    – the Lords would object as they were (and are) wholly sick of Mr Johnson’s execution of tricks devised by Mr Cummings;
    – Her Majesty does not appreciate Mr Johnson’s behaviour (again instigated by Mr Cummings) and in particular does not appreciate that was (and still is) Mr Cummings running the show, and might consequently have done something to delay things
    – the Supreme Court (as they now call themselves) might find grounds to intervene (they would certainly want to) – there is still a question as to whether the Long Parliament is validly dissolved (and if not, whether it can be, given all are now long dead) and it would be quite interesting to have this explored.

    The most obvious rule one could follow is to have a (fundamental) electoral act come into force by the following process:
    1 – in Parliament N, the Government passes the change
    2 – the Government then (at some point) goes to election and wins
    3 – the change then comes into force for Parliament N+1

    Repeal (including by super-session) involves the same two step arrangement. There is of course an issue in determining whether the Government at step 2 is the same as that at step 1, which would be a requirement.

    in short, I do not accept that the Act is “just an ordinary act” becuase the nature of the “unwritten” constitution is that these things are determined by reaction. That is, it is the reaction that determines whether something is ordinary or extra-ordinary.

    However, as I said we shall never know!

  2. How good is Queensland!!!
    Labor didn’t win a few seats it could have and lost a few it shouldn’t have. And there went Government.
    What happened? Bob Brown and the convoy started it. Then Pauline Hanson told Qlders that to have billions spent on infrastructure projects all over the State was not the way to go because Labor would tax rich people. She has never apologised to the families and small businesses who have to endure another 3 years of Scummo and Co. Will they be dumb enough to listen to her again?
    Will the L/NP do a direct deal with her for preferences if Clive Palmer is not on the scene.
    Time will tell. Meanwhile Australia goes up in smoke.

  3. nath says:
    Monday, December 23, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    …”She’s even influenced Not Sure, a cranky old timer if ever there was one”…

    If you are not “cranky” at the current state of affairs, then there really is something wrong.

    Also, I’m not even remotely old.

  4. Player One:

    Yup. Carbon tariffs are currently being discussed in various forums as a real possibility.

    If it eventuates, the Australian economy will be severely impacted.

    Great idea.

    Now in the case of Australia selling coal to India, who imposes the tariffs and at which border?

  5. Dear Cat: the only solutions are, like me, is to get on the piss, with a smattering of anti-histamines. Indeed, when I feel a turn coming on, I take 8 tablets of 180 mg of Telfast, well above the recommended dosage but it works a treat, not necessitating a trip to A & E.

  6. Are you on the piss right now?

    Otherwise why the fuck would you advise someone to take an above recommended dose of a drug and mix it with booze?

  7. “How useful in the Global Warming Fight is Ms Thunberg?”

    Classic… I guess if Boerwar thinks she’s useless, she should just STFU?

  8. Five sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    The country’s top prosecutor said three more people were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years. Saud al-Qahtani, an aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the most senior official implicated in the plot to kill Khashoggi, was investigated but cleared of wrongdoing.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2019/12/23/saudi-arabia-sentences-five-to-death-for-killing-journalist-jamal-khashoggi-inside-turkish-consulate/

  9. E. G. Theodore @ #5058 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 9:27 pm

    Now in the case of Australia selling coal to India, who imposes the tariffs and at which border?

    This is not quite so simple. This is not really my area of expertise, and I am not sure about India specifically, but imagine this scenario … Country X does not want to impose carbon tariffs on Australian coal imports, because they depend on our coal which they import in significant volumes … but Country X also relies heavily on their exports to the EU. The EU does impose carbon tariffs … but, more than that, the EU also insists that any countries who participate in trade agreements with them must do the same, or have tariffs imposed on their exports. So country X does the sums and decides that the amount of money they would lose if the EU imposes tariffs on their exports are more than they would lose by imposing carbon tariffs on their imports. So they do so. This makes Australian coal more expensive … so their electricity generators look for cheaper alternatives.

    Who is the ultimate loser here?

  10. It was mentioned earlier that people like Trump, Morrison, Murdoch et al would probably intensify their attacks on Greta as she gets older (you can’t really attack a 16yo!)

    Two things seem apparent about Greta and the movement she has inspired:

    1. She is highly intelligent and has not faltered in her year long campaign. She is now to return to school and will probably fade into the background a little (although her snappy tweets in response to people like Trump will surely continue).

    2. She almost certainly has a lot of support from people of influence who oppose the rantings of blowhards like Trump (and Morrison). Some of those people would be well known, like Obama, but other benefactors would be among the “quietly rich and powerful”. Her supporters are certainly not restricted to school children and some adults.

    It’s not just Greta but other people attacked by Trump will be encouraged by the fact that he appears to be entering the zone of derangement as the impeachment process bears down on him.

  11. Mavis @ #5058 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 9:27 pm

    Dear Cat: the only solutions are, like me, is to get on the piss, with a smattering of anti-histamines Indeed, when I feel a turn coming on, I take 8 tablets of 180 mg of Telfast, well above the recommended dosage but it works a treat, not necessitating a trip to A & E.

    Only problem with that is,
    1. I don’t drink, unless in a social situation I have one to go along to get along.
    2. Antihistamines like Telfast don’t work on food allergies. Famotidine( which works on the H2 receptors in the stomach) works for me and I have taken one.

    I’ll be fine. I’m used to it. At least I’m not pregnant. When I was I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum and ended up weighing less at the end of the pregnancy than at the beginning! 🙂

  12. Another Rugby player Tweeting his opinion about religion (but in a good way):

    Wellington: Sonny Bill Williams has tweeted his support of the minority Uighur ethnic group, mirroring the stance of soccer star Mesut Ozil which drew an angry response from China.

    Cross-code star Williams may further provoke Chinese officialdom with his social media post, which denounces the treatment of Uighurs.

    In his tweet on Monday, Williams echoed the belief of Arsenal playmaker and fellow practising Muslim Ozil that more countries should speak out against China’s reported actions of detaining Uighur people in “re-education camps”.

    “It’s a sad time when we choose economic benefits over humanity,” Williams wrote, accompanied by an image illustrating oppression against the Muslim minority group.

    Good. On. Him.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/sbw-risks-incurring-china-s-wrath-by-backing-ethnic-minority-group-20191223-p53mk6.html

  13. C@tmomma says:
    Monday, December 23, 2019 at 10:18 pm
    Not Sure @ #5060 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 9:33 pm

    …”Don’t worry. I’m a qualified pharmacist and I can treat myself sensibly.”…

    Yes I knew that, just doesn’t seem a very clever thing to be advising.
    Don’t most antihistamine medications have a may cause drowsiness/do not take alcohol warning on the pack?

  14. Evening all. I just caught up with the news that John Cain died yesterday. What a loss – a true reforming leader of great personal integrity. My respects to his family. We could certainly use a few more like him now.

    Merry christmas to all bludgers. It has been a difficult year in many ways for those who care about progressive politics, or even humanity. I hope next year will be a better one. Australia needs to remove Morrison from power, now that he has been seen through. Australia and the world need to implement a serious policy to halt climate change. No more excuses, whether from coal mine owners, or coal mine workers. Good evening all.

  15. Player One:

    This is not quite so simple. This is not really my area of expertise, and I am not sure about India specifically, but imagine this scenario … Country X does not want to impose carbon tariffs on Australian coal imports, because they depend on our coal which they import in significant volumes … but Country X also relies heavily on their exports to the EU. The EU does impose carbon tariffs … but, more than that, the EU also insists that any countries who participate in trade agreements with them must do the same, or have tariffs imposed on their exports. So country X does the sums and decides that the amount of money they would lose if the EU imposes tariffs on their exports are more than they would lose by imposing carbon tariffs on their imports. So they do so. This makes Australian coal more expensive … so their electricity generators look for cheaper alternatives.

    1 – Coal contracts are long term – the Indians will pay Australia the agreed price for the term of the contract (unless they breach). If they in addition impose a tariff on top of that price then Australia will still be paid the same and the Indians will have harmed only themselves.

    2 – If some special government power is used to terminate the contract (i.e. making the breach immune to remedy in Indian courts), the Indians have a coal fired power station, for which they need to find coal. Most obviously, they will get it domestically*, this will entrench the Indian domestic coal suppliers as a political force, and is likely to lead to India continuing to burn coal for hundreds of years. In contrast, Australian coal producers (as foreigners) can’t entrench themselves in the same way (though they could try ity on for a while), and India can thus wind down its coal burning without interference, as an when viable alternatives arrive.

    I do agree that supply measures (synchronised to demand measures) are needed to achieve a fast enough wind down. These need to occur in the Indian market (in this case), for example by the introduction of renewable supplies. AU government could for example use foriegn aid budget to build renewable supply in India.

    * Perhaps sourced from the “Indian coal Mafia” so it burns poorly and is even more polluting?

  16. Greta Thunberg was the best thing that happened to world politics this year. An authentic leader is always a threat to the ancient regime, who fear leaders’ ability to overturn the existing structures that have become their sinecures. Political structures in most western democracies badly need a shake up. They are not doing their jobs.

  17. Not Sure @ #5071 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 10:34 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Monday, December 23, 2019 at 10:18 pm
    Not Sure @ #5060 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 9:33 pm

    …”Don’t worry. I’m a qualified pharmacist and I can treat myself sensibly.”…

    Yes I knew that, just doesn’t seem a very clever thing to be advising.
    Don’t most antihistamine medications have a may cause drowsiness/do not take alcohol warning on the pack.

    No, they have fallen out of favour. Generally they are non-drowsy, such as Claratyne and Telfast, but also the stomach ones like Famotidine. I wouldn’t drink alcohol while taking them anyway. As I say though, it’s generally not advised to drink alcohol by way of self-medication either. 🙂

  18. Citizen, while your mentioning those pieces of shit who can’t handle the existence of Greta. You may as well throw BW into the same pile. He sounds like peas in a pod with Smoko and Bolta much of the time.

  19. C@tmomma says:
    Monday, December 23, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    …”As I say though, it’s generally not advised to drink alcohol by way of self-medication either”…

    But delicious beer eases the pain.

  20. Quoll @ #5078 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 10:44 pm

    Citizen, while your mentioning those pieces of shit who can’t handle the existence of Greta. You may as well throw BW into the same pile. He sounds like peas in a pod with Smoko and Bolta much of the time.

    The world just moves too fast for some people. Some call themselves “conservatives” while others do not … but what they all have in common is that they just can’t keep up with the pace of change.

  21. nath says:
    Monday, December 23, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    …”Looks like Not Sure’s tantrum against Mavis was uncalled for”…

    Really?
    Sensible thing to go around telling people they should mix drugs and booze is it?

    What’s your favorite blend?

  22. it is now impossible to know as it was not tested.

    We do know. An Act of Parliament can be amended or repealed by a subsequent Act of Parliament. A Bill only needs a simple majority to pass.

    You are confusing two completely different things – a motion for an early election under the FTPA of 2011; and a Bill to amend the FTPA of 2011. The Johnson Government initially tried the former – a motion – and failed to get the two thirds majority required for the motion to succeed. So then the Johnson Government proposed a Bill to amend the FTPA in a manner that would permit an election on 12th December. This Bill only needed simple majorities in the House and the Lords to succeed. It wouldn’t have made a difference if Labour had voted against it because the Lib Dems and the SNP voted with the government to amend the FTPA.

  23. Tristo@ #4955 Monday, December 23rd, 2019 – 6:27 pm

    I am expecting the possibility of international trade sanctions to be imposed on Australia, for failing to reduce it’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Australian scope 3 emissions are falling – albeit only slowly – with the exception of emissions related to LNG production. LNG exports are rising in part because Australia’s trading partners are reducing their uptake of coal and replacing it with LNG, which is generally considered to be a GHG-favourable substitution. It would be perverse to tax Australian exports (which are mostly crude materials and minerals) because its customers were reducing their coal imports but increasing their gas imports (in order to reduce their scope 3 emissions) while Australia’s own scope 3 emissions were also being eliminated.

    Australia can and will become GHG-net zero with respect to the domestic economy. This would happen a lot faster with a long-lasting Labor Government. However, it’s quite clear the anti-Labor voices (including ON, the Greens, the LNP and the other outfits) will do their utmost to ensure the LNP are not removed from power. So we will probably not get to net-zero in the domestic economy until late this century. By this time it will be far too late to avert self-propelling global heating – featuring escalating anoxia in the oceans – and economic collapse will be unfolding.

  24. Australia’s largest trading partners buy crude materials, minerals and metals from us. It would make no sense whatsoever for these economies to tax their economic inputs.

    It might make sense for Australia to tax its imports of manufactures from foreign net-GHG-emitters on environmental grounds. In this case, however, we would be reducing the real incomes of Australian households. We would be hurting incomes, jobs and output in the Australian economy without necessarily affecting GHG emissions in exporting economies. I can’t see that getting up.

  25. Nicholas:

    We do know. An Act of Parliament can be amended or repealed by a subsequent Act of Parliament. A Bill only needs a simple majority to pass.

    Where’s that rule written?

  26. Richard Willingham @rwillingham
    now
    Petitions from Yates and Garbett to challenge election results in Kooyong and Chisholm have been dismissed by the court of disputed returns. #auspol #springst @abcnews @abcmelbourne

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