Burning questions

To keep things ticking over, some factless musings on the bushfire situation.

Time for a new thread. While I’m about it, two points about the bushfire crisis. To start with the obvious: it would be really interesting to see an opinion poll right now, but being what time of year it is, there are no polls to be had. Even if you remain skeptical-or-worse about the value of voting intention polling in the wake of last year’s debacle, some personal ratings on Scott Morrison would undoubtedly offer a helpful objective measure of how his image is bearing up after what has clearly been a tough couple of weeks. If you take your cues from social media, you may have concluded by now that Morrison’s career is as good as over. But if the last few years have taught us nothing else, it’s that that’s usually not a good idea. However, a News Corp pundit who generally doesn’t partake of the organisational kool-aid may have been on to something when he noted that this apprehension was “probably what tricked Morrison into thinking that all the outrage against him was confected and so he might as well go catch some rays”.

A second, less obvious point relates to an Eden-Monaro by-election that some readers of Canberra tea leaves assured us was on the cards, with one such ($) relating a view that Labor member Mike Kelly would be “gone by Christmas”. These reports asserted that the by-election would be used by state Nationals leader John Barilaro to enter federal politics with a view to deposing struggling party leader Michael McCormack. But if it’s the case that the government has suffered a bushfire-related hit to its standing, the thought of taking on a Labor-held seat at a by-election may have lost its appeal. The once-bellwether seat covers some of the worst affected areas, including the town of Cobargo, where Morrison met a hostile reception on Thursday from locals who — depending on your right-wing news source of choice — are either in no way representative of the town, or all too representative of it.

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.

3,738 comments on “Burning questions”

  1. BoerWar,

    I suspect Labor got killed in Rural Australia for a simple reason, it didn’t articulate or promote agricultural policy. NNF tried to spin a generic speech by Shorten into positive support for the rural sector but they could only go so far….

    https://www.nff.org.au/read/6371/labor-outlines-positive-ideas-for-agriculture.html

    The NFF cautioned however that despite a number of positive commitments, what went unsaid last night is of equal interest to farmers.

    “We heard remarks from Mr Shorten last night about agriculture – referencing drought, the Murray Darling, beef roads, and the dairy industry.

    “We know that the ALP supports Australian agriculture and the growth potential it has particularly in rural and regional Australia.

    “There are detailed policy areas where we need to get a clear understanding of the ALP’s plans.

    “On the Murray Darling specifically, we’re concerned that cracks are beginning to show in the bipartisanship that has underpinned the Murray Darling Basin Plan. We continue to urge Labor to tread carefully on this sensitive issue.

    “I’d encourage Labor to use the coming weeks before polling day to consult with industry on its plans for agriculture and regional Australia, and road test them with regional voters.

    “We look forward to working with all sides of politics as we advocate for the best interests of farmers in this year’s Federal Election,” Ms Simson said.

  2. guytaur says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Blobbitt

    Keating no raving radical leftie was able to sell tax and spend. That’s because Keating knew it was coming. So he played to the strength in that.
    ——————————————
    Hawke/Keating did introduce taxes but they also cut taxes and had bipartisen support for many of their reforms also the Liberals in the 1980s into the 1990s were seen as more hardline on IR and were more openly against Medicare. To show how far things have shifted there was little mention of IR or Medicare in the last campaign yet they were central issues back in the 80s and 90s.

  3. Not Sure @ #3347 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 2:04 pm

    Mexicanbeemer says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    * We have a lot of RW commenters now.
    * Bucephalus
    * Not Sure
    * Taylormade
    * davidwh
    * nath
    —————————
    …”Absolutely but several of the people on that list are only frequent visitors whereas there isn’t one that sits here for say 5 hours a day arguing the government’s case and while davidwh is identified as to the right but i can’t remember a time he has actually defended the government and I’m not sure nath is to the right but we differently know who he doesn’t like ;).”…

    …………………..

    Dontcha think that making lists of people based on political affiliation might be just a little bit Hitler-y?

    No, not at all.
    *Godwin’s Law

    Actually someone asked if we had any Liberals here on PB because it seemed to them that we didn’t. So I made a list of a few names I thought fit into that category. No more, nor less, than that.

    Mate, you’ve really got to stop trying to score points off me, it’s starting to look a bit OCD ( and, no, I’m not questioning your mental health per se).

  4. There is one more part of that reporting of the Kangaroo Island appearance by Scomo:

    “During his visit, Mr Morrison also pleaded with Australians not to scrap upcoming holiday plans as the island was still very much open for business.”

    Seriously, did he say that with a straight face? Did he hand the locals who lost homes any Hawaiian shirts? How many of his own cabinet have holidayed in Bali or France within the past fortnight?

    Its like getting a lecture on the dangers of child abuse from George Pell.

  5. Davidwh says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    MB I lean right on economic issues but left on most social issues. I support positive change but not change for change’s sake.

    Re supporting the government there hasn’t been a lot to support other than a few issues when MT was PM.

    Basically I’m in political limbo at present.
    ————————–
    That is how I understood it and guessing people’s politics online is thought with danger because one comment for or against the government or a particularly politician doesn’t tell us much yet there are some online that take comments too literally.

  6. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    …”Other than yet another glib, one-liner put-down, how so?”…

    Here is another:

    Talking to you today, will make me more stoopid tomorrow, than I was yesterday.

  7. C@t

    This guy really has got shit for brains. I was unsure at first as he’s such a relentless self-promoter, but to call it this far out from the next election is just nuckin’ futs.

    ______________________________________________

    I understand that the author of the screed you posted is a protected species. Dare to criticise it and the trolls and obsessives come out in force.

  8. ‘bakunin says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    BoerWar,

    I suspect Labor got killed in Rural Australia for a simple reason, it didn’t articulate or promote agricultural policy. NNF tried to spin a generic speech by Shorten into positive support for the rural sector but they could only go so far….’

    IMO this is at least partially right but not exclusively so. There were many contributions to Labor’s slaughter in the regions.

    A constant vulnerability is that Labor is seen as Greens Lite in the regions. One of the little appreciated features of the totality of Greens policies as they affect rural and regional electorates is the massive additional regulatory burden the Greens would add to farming activities. I know that most Greens would not really focus on this systemic aspect of their policies, but rural and regional people understand and fear this very well. The impact of the regulatory framework would be pervasive, and given the ideological impetus for much of the regulation, potentially draconian. Much of it is described casually in generalities.

    Take just one of myriad examples peppered through the Australian Greens policies. Under current Australian Greens policies, farmers will be forced by regulation to deliver ‘ecosystem services’. How long is THAT piece of string? Who pays? How would this regulation work? The Greens are not leaving this to chance. There will be a national regulatory body resourced to enforce those regulations. What are the potential sanctions on farmers? How will it impact on their farming practices?

    The Greens may not get this about themselves, but rural and regional people do. In this context, it is a disaster for Labor to be regarded as Greens Lite by rural and regional voters.

  9. I understood from the reports that the two people who died were in fact firies, driving back from a 2 day stint at the fire coal face.

  10. guytaur: “Corbyn failed to say I am not one of the elite. Thats why it was Brexit. Instead he and Labour were painted as the elite.
    Only able to happen when trust is broken.
    No amount of reality was able to overcome the fantasy.”

    Labour’s about turn when they decided to support a second referendum was devastating for them. I didn’t see it at the time, and I was on the conga line demanding they do it. But in hindsight it was flat out electoral suicide. Corbyn saw it, which is why he resisted so long, and why even after accepting the second referendum, he tried so hard to keep the leavers on side. The decisive impact of it is easy enough to prove – if you just look at how labour’s polling plummeted at virtually the exact moment they started prevaricating over honouring the decision of the referendum. And there is more than enough anecdotal evidence (eg Lewis Gooddal’s investigative piece in the labour red belt, as well as our own ABC’s report on “Workington man”) – to indicate that “getting brexit done” was *THE* cut-through message of the election – where it counted, and which single-handedly caused the carnage in the red belt, which decided the election.

    There was a powerful narrative around betraying the will of the people and surrendering to the out of touch chattering elites that a leader like Johnson, backed to the hilt by the conservative media, could really run with. There was nothing tangible in it of course – nothing that you could actually identify and explain how it will impact people’s day to day lives. It was a fanciful ideal – an entirely confected anger over an entirely confected cultural war. Its like the public just started screaming “give us something to be angry and fearful of!” – and Boris and the media gladly obliged. Or perhaps it was the other way around – the media and Johnson convincing the public to be angry and fearful of something. I suspect such confection was possible because there’s not really much tangible for the ordinary people to be trully angry about. While Corbyn tried to paint a picture of devastation due to Tory austerity, the reality was that per capita economic conditions had actually improved sine the last election.

  11. C@tmomma @ #3348 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 1:05 pm

    Or, the way it come out to my ears was that he was putting dead firies ahead of dead civilians in importance.

    That only works if you credit the retroactive explanation, and even then only without putting it alongside the original remark.

    If Morrison said “we’ve had no loss of life” knowing (as he claims) that two civilians and zero firefighters died, then he’s not merely putting citizens second behind firefighters, he’s saying they don’t even count as life.

    Admitting that he just wasn’t across the facts would/should be far less embarrassing than the lie he cooked up.

  12. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    …”Mate, you’ve really got to stop trying to score points off me, it’s starting to look a bit OCD ( and, no, I’m not questioning your mental health per se)”…

    I understand that the world orbits around you, but my question was directed at the person who agreed with the Gestapo list, not the idiot who collated it.

  13. ‘Fulvio Sammut says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I understood from the reports that the two people who died were in fact firies, driving back from a 2 day stint at the fire coal face.’

    They were traveling in a car away from fires that they had helped to fight when they were caught. One was a hand surgeon (a colleague of Bludger’s Dio). The other, the hand surgeon’s father, was a bush pilot.

    I am not sure of the exact words to use here. Were they people who casually became involved in fighting the fire? If so, they were not fireys. If they were part of the organized structure of volunteer fire fighting units then I suppose we would call them fireys.

    I am surprised that the Prime Minister’s briefing note for his Kangaroo Island visit did not include a point or two on the deaths. Maybe it did and he didn’t read it.

    Maybe being seen to be ‘leading the nation’ was far more important to him.

  14. Not Sure
    Dontcha think that making lists of people based on political affiliation might be just a little bit Hitler-y?

    Edit: presumed political affiliation
    —————————–
    LOL I wasn’t really making a list to single people out and reading online comments are not a good way of telling a person’s politics unless they declare it but the point was this site has several ALP supporters yet lacks a corresponding Liberal faction that is here defending the government then along comes Guytaur who is passionate about his policy ideas and defends them and by accident he becomes the government that resident ALP supporters can target.

  15. bakunin

    I agree that Labor has a problem with communicating with rural voters. However, those actually involved with farming are a very small minority these days. Most of the voters in “rural” seats are either in other industries or in the retail and service sector. The biggest problem Labor has is basic ideas/beliefs about economics and about how Labor isn’t safe. Its also a social phenomenon. In rural/regional seats that are heavily conservative a would be progressive voter has to deal with the noise from their social circle. I see this all the time when I’m in the upper Hunter dealing with the mining crowd. What passes for polite conversation would curl your toes.

  16. Not Sure @ #3364 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 2:23 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    …”Mate, you’ve really got to stop trying to score points off me, it’s starting to look a bit OCD ( and, no, I’m not questioning your mental health per se)”…

    I understand that the world orbits around you, but my question was directed at the person who agreed with the Gestapo list, not the idiot who collated it.

    Oh gee, smart arse insults me and someone who replied to me. Again.

    I mean, seriously, do you get off on belittling random people on the internet or something? And for no good reason when a rational explanation is given to you? If so, then I might need to start questioning your mental health after all.

  17. The UK election was pretty much all about Brexit. Looking at the polling before May was toppled the Labour Party were looking competitive and the Conservative campaign was mostly about Brexit.

  18. a r @ #3362 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 2:18 pm

    C@tmomma @ #3348 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 1:05 pm

    Or, the way it come out to my ears was that he was putting dead firies ahead of dead civilians in importance.

    That only works if you credit the retroactive explanation, and even then only without putting it alongside the original remark.

    If Morrison said “we’ve had no loss of life” knowing (as he claims) that two civilians and zero firefighters died, then he’s not merely putting citizens second behind firefighters, he’s saying they don’t even count as life.

    When we all know that the real reason is that Morrison’s been so frantically trying to repair his public image by getting about every fire site, multiple times a day, he’s forgetting the important stuff.

    Well, important to just about everyone else but him.

  19. BW

    I’m sure briefing would have been provided. He may even have read it, but marketing people are generally not details people – they are constantly only interested in what will sell a product and what the product does is not as important.

    That’s why organisations typically have salespeople who have enough info to talk you into signing the contract but not too little to actually expose the organisation to allegations of fraud (as the bank disaster showed, this can fail terribly without a solid infrastructure to check on what the seller is doing).

    He has no idea of policy whatsoever – it’s all about the message and only the message.

  20. Is there a legal definition of what constitutes being a firie or firey?

    Even spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word.

    I would have thought anyone involved in fighting a fire is a firey while he/she does so. And that includes travelling to or from the fire front.

  21. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    …belittling random people on the internet or something? “…

    C@tmomma says:

    …”This guy really has got shit for brains. I was unsure at first as he’s such a relentless self-promoter, but to call it this far out from the next election is just nuckin’ futs”…

  22. Not Sure @ #3374 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 2:35 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    …belittling random people on the internet or something? “…

    C@tmomma says:

    …”This guy really has got shit for brains. I was unsure at first as he’s such a relentless self-promoter, but to call it this far out from the next election is just nuckin’ futs”…

    Yes, I was waiting for that one. 🙂

    So, you would rather I use more ‘ladylike’ language?

    Okay. So. ‘This guy is such a relentless self-promoter’ (do you disagree or agree with that, Not Sure, because I can provide plenty of evidence to back that statement up if you like), ‘but to call it this far out from the next election is just…dumb.’

    There, happy now that I have removed the reference to ‘Joe Dirt’? 🙄

  23. Mexicanbeemer
    “Looking at the polling before May was toppled the Labour Party were looking competitive and the Conservative campaign was mostly about Brexit.”

    This just tells me that May was a terrible PM.

  24. Mexicanbeemer says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    …”LOL I wasn’t really making a list to single people out and reading online comments are not a good way of telling a person’s politics unless they declare it but the point was this site has several ALP supporters yet lacks a corresponding Liberal faction that is here defending the government then along comes Guytaur who is passionate about his policy ideas and defends them and by accident he becomes the government that resident ALP supporters can target”…

    …………….

    Fair enough.

    A person might then reasonably object to being put on such a list, particularly if the proto-fascist who compiled it has a long and sordid history of attempting to assassinate those that she/he considers to be a members of an out-group.

  25. Catching up so apologies if already posted…

    Forrest pledges $70 million of which:

    $10 million for “volunteer army of more than 1,200 people drawn from the mining and agriculture sectors to deploy to fire zones to assist in the rebuild of devastated communities.”

    $10 million for communities who need support in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross and the Salvation Army.”

    And $50 million for a “national blueprint for fire and disaster resilience to develop new approaches to mitigate the threat of bushfires.” This last is interesting as he claims “I think there’s a multitude of reasons why the fire extent has bene so devastating. I think a warming planet would be part of that — [but] the biggest part of that is arsonists”.

    So the usual arsonists etc but global warming is a mere incidental.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-09/andrew-forrest-pledges-$70m-donation-to-bushfire-relief/11854654

  26. Bill Palmer – Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted in 24 hours.

    His only public statement during that time was a nearly comatose speech in which he sounded like he’d been pumped full of uppers just so he could get through it.

    Who’s going to be the one to say it?
    The President of the United States gave a televised speech today in which he came across as 80% senile and 90% dead. His cognitive abilities appear to be just about gone, as he struggled to read and pronounce basic words off the teleprompter. His motor skills were alarmingly lacking, as he slurred his way through it. His physical condition was that of a guy who needs to be in the hospital.

    That’s not just one person’s take, either. Everyone can see it. Everyone is talking about it. Terms like “Adderall” and “Sudafed” began trending atop Twitter during Donald Trump’s speech, as people tried to figure out whether Trump was actually high on drugs, or if he was merely in such bad shape that he was coming across as if he were on drugs.

    Rick Gardner – It’s for the bone spur flare-up. He snagged it getting into his ‘Rocky” costume, on his way to beat up Iran…

    https://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/whos-going-to-be-the-one-to-say-it/24258/

  27. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    …”There, happy now that I have removed the reference to ‘Joe Dirt’?”…

    Not really.

    The person you were abusing is not on “the list”.

  28. Cud Chewer, its been quite a shock for me realising how big a deal silly and petty culture-war issues like SSM really are in many rural, less advantaged communities. Yeah I understand they are socially conservative, but it seems like they are less concerned about liberals screwing their economy and environment for big multinationals, as they are about gays getting the right to marry.

    But this is what I was talking about conservative leaders backed by the conservative media confecting outrage out of nothing. And then demanding that the ‘little man’ take a stand against the revolting inner-city latte city elites. It seems to be a worldwide phenomenom

  29. Why is BW a dissenter against all the leading Dutch scientists on GMO. He would be expelled from Wageningen University for his laissez faire approach to GMOs.

  30. IMO it is not good political judgement to make a statement that since farmers constitute only a small numeric proportion of the rural and regional electorate therefore, implicitly, they can safely be ignored, aggravated or threatened.

    Rural communities are heavily attuned to farm-based economies. They all know perfectly well, for example, that when drought smashes farms and farmers it inevitably smashes rural towns as well.

    Apart from that there is the formation of rural culture and the impact of rural culture on voting patterns. I suggest that farmers and farming organizations are far more important than their mere numbers would suggest.

  31. Not Sure @ #3382 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 2:55 pm

    C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    …”There, happy now that I have removed the reference to ‘Joe Dirt’?”…

    Not really.

    The person you were abusing is not on “the list”.

    And??

    Look, don’t reply, your logic escapes me. And maybe that’s a reflection on me, because you appear to have decided that I am stupid, as I don’t seem to get it. This is based upon thin gruel by you, but there you go.

  32. Boerwar says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    IMO it is not good political judgement to make a statement that since farmers constitute only a small numeric proportion of the rural and regional electorate therefore, implicitly, they can safely be ignored, aggravated or threatened.
    ———————-
    It is very poor judgement and shows an over reliance on statistics. In the country town where a few relatives live is basically a 50:50 town until the surrounding farmers are added which then tips the booth firmly the Liberals way with the ALP only winning it in a landslide and I think this might be the case for many towns. I use statistic everyday so I understand their importance but people really do need to look beyond the numbers to fully understand what those numbers are saying.

  33. In the early 1950s, Britain was an industrial giant. Today, it is an industrial pygmy. Manufacturing was industry’s bedrock. In 1952, it produced a third of the national output, employed 40 per cent of the workforce and made up a quarter of world manufacturing exports. Today, manufacturing in this country accounts for just 11 per cent of GDP, employs only 8 per cent of the workforce and sells 2 per cent of the world’s manufacturing exports. The iconic names of industrial Britain are history. In their place are the service economy and supermarkets selling mainly imported goods.

  34. Steve Davis
    It could be said that Britain has always relied on imported goods for use in its manufacturing sector. Britain has long been a trading nation which makes the whole Brexit situation laughable.

  35. C@tmomma says: Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Bill Palmer – Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted in 24 hours.

    He’s sleeping it off. Whatever ‘it’ was

    ****************************************************************************

    Ex-Apprentice Staffer Noel Casler Speaks Out: ‘Trump’s A Raging Drug Addict’

    Noel Casler, a former Apprentice staffer, did a radio interview where he provided some truly terrifying insight into Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump

    Noel Casler, a celebrity and comedian who used to work on the Apprentice, did a radio interview on CJAD with radio host Dave Kaufman and to say the interview was terrifying would be an understatement. He talked quite a bit about Donald Trump’s alleged drug habit, something that many people have openly discussed over the years. There was lots of buzz about him snorting Adderall and abusing Sudafed

    It has become common knowledge that Trump can barely make it to meetings or read a speech for even 5 minutes. He is degenerating fast.

    And now…Ivanka. The plastic, fake-throaty voice, daughter wife.

    “If you are scared of Trump, you should be terrified of Ivanka. I think she’s the brains behind the operation. I’ve seen her manipulate him. It’s all an act. Down to that phony voice she uses. That’s a put on. That’s how he likes her to sound. Her real voice is a lot lower and she curses like a sailor…she’s engineering herself to take over. Ivanka wants to rule us all someday and I’m not being…it’s not just hyperbole….she wants her face on money….so people should be very worried about her.”

    https://crooksandliars.com/2020/01/ex-apprentice-staffer-noel-casler

  36. MB
    It certainly relies on imports now.Brexit wont do nothing much at all for the working class towns of the North.They are in lala land.

  37. “guytaursays:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 2:43 pm
    Maybe Labor should argue for a mining tax to pay for the bushfire infrastructure needed for the new normal”

    Tried not responding to the trolling, but can’t do it.

    The LNP would love that.

    What might actually work is a tax on exported profits from the Oil companies. Through a whole lot of bad decisions they’ve not endeared themselves to the population as the mining companies have. All the majors being foreign owned, you could probably play “bash jonny foreigner” successfully. Since it’s money going overseas as profits, you could appeal to the nationalism as well.

  38. re Harry & Meghan leaving the UK Civil List

    Harry is never going to be king.

    The royal family is letting minor royals go, their son doesn’t have a title

    He and Meghan are wealthy enough to live comfortably and he has the contacts to have an interesting career
    Might have a more meaningful life rather than waiting around for your turn to reign.

    May have more privacy for paparazzi or greater ability to sue

    No guarantee that Britain will retain the monarchy, republican sentiment waxes and wanes there too as the British tax payer pays for their upkeep, security and for their palaces in lovely locations

  39. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    …”Look, don’t reply, your logic escapes me. And maybe that’s a reflection on me, because you appear to have decided that I am stupid, as I don’t seem to get it. This is based upon thin gruel by you, but there you go”…

    But I want to reply.

    And I will explain this to you again:

    Of all of the presumptuous and juvenile crap that you carry on with, the one thing that actually bugs me is the accusation that I am a Liberal/Conservative.

    For the record I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be and I have told you this multiple times.

    But you do it to EVERYBODY who disagrees with you and have been doing so methodically for years.

    It is probably not you who is “stupid” but your way of making a political point certainly is.

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