Empty chairs

Victoria’s Greens gear up for a party vote to fill Richard Di Natale’s Senate vacancy, plus similar developments for the state Liberals in Tasmania and Victoria.

As you can see in the post below this one, the Courier-Mail yesterday had a YouGov Galaxy state poll for Queensland that found both major parties stranded in the mid-thirties on the primary vote. State results from this series are usually followed a day or two later by federal ones, but no sign of that to this point. If it’s Queensland state politics reading you’re after, I can offer my guide to the Currumbin by-election, to be held on March 29. Other than that, there’s the following news on how various parliamentary vacancies around the place will be or might be filled:

Noel Towell of The Age reports two former state MPs who fell victim to the Greens’ weak showing at the November 2018 state election are “potentially strong contenders” to take Richard Di Natale’s Senate seat when he leaves parliament, which will be determined by a vote of party members. These are Lidia Thorpe, who won the Northcote by-election from Labor in June 2018, and Huong Truong, who filled Colleen Hartland’s vacancy in the Western Metropolitan upper house seat in February 2018. The party’s four current state MPs have all ruled themselves out. Others said to be potential starters include Brian Walters, a barrister and former Liberty Victoria president, and Dinesh Mathew, a television actor who ran in the state seat of Caulfield in 2018.

• Former Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman’s seat in parliament will be filled by Nic Street, following a preference countback of the votes Hodgman received in the seat of Franklin at the March 2018 election. This essentially amounted to a race between Street and the other Liberal who nominated for the recount, Simon Duffy. Given Street was only very narrowly unsuccessful when he ran as an incumbent at the election, being squeezed out for the last of the five seats by the Greens, it was little surprise that he easily won the countback with 8219 out of 11,863 (70.5%). This is the second time Street has made it to parliament on a countback, the first being in February 2016 on the retirement of Paul Harriss.

The Age reports Mary Wooldridge’s vacancy in the Victorian Legislative Council is likely to be filled either by Emanuele Cicchiello, former Knox mayor and deputy principal at Lighthouse Christian College, or Asher Judah, who ran unsuccessfully in Bentleigh in 2018. Party sources are quoted expressing surprise that only four people have nominated, with the only woman being Maroondah councillor Nora Lamont, reportedly a long shot. Also in the field is Maxwell Gratton, chief executive of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

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.

1,209 comments on “Empty chairs”

  1. Our local member, Fiona Phillips gets a guernsey …

    Fiona Phillips to Scott Morrison:

    A local business in my electorate, Rob’s Bait and Tackle, has lost 80% of their income for the year as a direct result of the fires. This small family business and many others are reluctant to pile on debt at a time when they have very little income.Will the government provide grants for businesses like this, instead of loans that increase their debt?


    That is is a devastating loss of income for that business. I would be very pleased if you can pass on their details. I make them available to the head of the national bushfire recovery agency and see what measures, additional measures, they may not be able to be aware of, to assist them specifically to their circumstances.

    A range of questions put forward by the Opposition today that are seeking a change to the assessment for these grants. I note that’s what you’re suggesting. There should be a change.

    I would invite the Leader of the Opposition to write to me and set out the changes to the grant guidelines that he is proposing, Mr Speaker.

    And I will happily have those assessed by the Department of Finance and I’ll be able to advise the house about the outcome and we can assess the feasibility of the proposal they are making. I invite them to put that proposal in writing to us.

    Either there is a new spirit of bipartisanship in the chamber, or the prime minister just asked the opposition to come up with policy for him.

    Seems only fair that Labor should write the Liberals small business bushfire grants policy. After all, Albo is letting the Liberals write Labor’s energy policy!

  2. Guytaur
    Trying is one thing but the senate has repeatable blocked so there isn’t an austerity policy in place which is what i wrote.

  3. bakunin

    Private sector investors in plantation forestry can expect a multitude of additional and tighter regulations, controls, bans, limits, and unquantifiable threats their investments under a Greens Government. The policies are unclear about who pays for all the additional bureaucracy that goes with the regulatory and planning frameworks.

    Inter alia, they will have to deliver high quality jobs and social sustainability in regional communities. What the latter means is any investor’s guess.

    If they invest on the basis of tax arrangements under one government they can be sure that the Greens will withdraw those tax breaks when they gain power.

    Investors may not know what ‘world’s best practice plantation forestry’ is but they will be forced to deliver this under a Greens government.

    Certification costs are predictable and rational.

    Investors can expect general environmental laws to be equally applicable to plantation forestry. This means that plantation investors will be regulated to provide unspecified ecosystem services. The provision of these services will be regulated by a National Regulator with enforcement capabilities (see relevant Australian Greens policies on ecoystem services). Delivery of clean water is an ecoystem service that might be disrupted by clear felling of a plantation forest. What happens then?

    The policy is clearly targetted at ‘farm forestry’ scale rather than corporate investment in plantation timber.

    A further investment concern is what happens when species listed under the EPBC Act colonize plantation forests. They will certainly lead to additional costs and they may render the plantation operation totally unworkable.

    Finally, a troubling lack of clarity about what is meant by ‘regrowth’ forest is clearly an investment risk.

    Here are the policies:

    ‘The Australian Greens want:

    Recognition of the essential role played by mature forest ecosystems in wildlife habitat, carbon storage, water supply, soil quality and retention, recreation and tourism.

    A sustainable and productive wood products industry from plantations and farm forestry that creates long-term skilled jobs and social sustainability in regional communities.

    The immediate protection of all old-growth and high conservation value forests.

    A prohibition on use of native forests for electricity generation.

    An end to the export of woodchips and whole logs from native forests.

    An end to tax arrangements which advantage plantations over other crops.

    World’s best practice, certified, farm-scale plantation forestry.

    The tighter regulation of timber tree plantations, the wood production industry and their associated activities under planning and environmental law.

    Plantations with a diversity of species rather than monocultures.

    Plantations and farm forestry practices where the use of pesticides and fertilisers are minimised and controlled.

    Nomination of Australia’s qualifying high conservation value forests for listing on the National or World Heritage registers.

    Abolition of the Regional Forest Agreements and equal treatment of forests, plantations and the wood production industry with other activities under environmental law.

    To complete the transition from native forest logging to plantations, including retraining and other assistance for workers, and the development of sustainable alternative fibre industries.

    An immediate end to broad-scale land clearing to protect biodiversity and to arrest soil loss, river degradation and salinity.

    The management of re-growth forest to an old growth state to maximise biodiversity, carbon uptake and water yield, and for recreation and tourism, which are more valuable outcomes than logging.

    The revegetation of land, including salt affected land, with biodiverse native vegetation which can provide carbon sinks, hydrological management and biodiversity restoration.’

  4. Mexican

    You are not giving Labor enough credit.

    We don’t have Austerity because Labor rejected it during the Financial Crisis. Saving us from Recession.

  5. It seems that the most exciting thing to happen in QT was that Barnaby walkked out rather than listen to McCormack.

    Other than that it was Morrison justifying all failures in bushfire community support by saying that its was (a) NSW responsibility and (b) the rules were the ones put in place by Labor.

    No care no responsibility, only crocodile tears.

  6. More polls. Amy with all the momentum.

    Josh Jordan@NumbersMuncher
    Suffolk New Hampshire tracking poll:

    Sanders 27 (+3)
    Buttigieg 19 (-3)
    Klobuchar 14 (+5)
    Biden 12 (+2)
    Warren 12 (-1)

    Buttigieg has dropped six points since the debate while Klobuchar is up at least six.

    Would be something if the perceived Klobuchar momentum materializes…

  7. bakunin

    There are some interesting statistics on commercial forests in the attached link. )What is not known is the impact of the 2019-2020 fires on the commercial forest estate.) What is interesting is the very large areas of native forests burned on average per annum.

    What is clear is that the commercial forest estate is nowhere near the size of the native forest estate.

    The Greens proposed immediate ban on all native forestry is likely to have at least one unintended consequences: substitution by concrete and steel because there is not enough commercial forests to substitute the loss of native forest timber.


  8. ‘bakunin says:
    Monday, February 10, 2020 at 3:46 pm


    Get back to me when Labor has a forestry policy.’

    Run, rabbit, run.

    One the one hand the Greens propose to reduce CO2 emissions by substituting timber for concrete and steel. On the other hand the Greens propose to reduce the amount of available timber.

  9. Fusion power is going to happen. Its just not going to be economic. What I find interesting is that in your original scenario which was finding enough energy to geo-engineer the planet you dismissed using solar energy which is available today.

    Thanks for the replies Cud et al.

    I didn’t say that alternative energy sources should be abandoned at all. The most I suggested was that some of the research money now going into alternatives be put over to getting thermonuclear going sooner.

    I don’t see how a clean technology like thermonuclear that has unlimited fuel resources can be classed as “too expensive”.

    I agree it’s expensive now, in the development/experimental stages, but most technologies reduce in cost as they become ubiquitous. There are literally thousands of examples of this, and few counter examples.

    For just one thing, the main problem with fission reactors is eliminated with thermonuclear: waste disposal and technologies associated with keeping workers and the public isolated from fallout.

    With infinite energy capacity comes huge economy of scale. With infinite energy capacity the need to be efficient is greatly reduced. The example of computer memory comes to mind. As memory became cheap and abundant, and processors became faster, the need for elegant code became less. While I’m “old school” on this (I’ve written hundreds of thousands of lines of sub-16mHz clock rate 6502 and Z80 assembler code in my time), my liking for elegant code is mostly an aesthetic preference nowadays.

    So too – as the kind of power needed to terraform the Earth away from CO2 pollution and the greenhouse effect by brute force extraction becomes cheaper – so will that power source become cheaper.

    BTW, a hopefully unnecessary request: please don’t mock the use of the word “terraform”. In my opinion, it’s exactly what needs to be done. It’s the perfect word for the process required. And we’ve already done it (albeit unintentionally) to get our planet into the greenhouse mess it’s already become. We can do it again. The trick is to speed up the process by applying new technologies to the problem. Growing more trees is not one of them, no matter how pleasant. It”s too slow, and it takes up space we don’t have.

    Unlimited power also brings us closer to the end of water shortages, both for drinking and agriculture. Also we can manufacture portable fuels – such as for aircraft – where substitutes eitger don’t provide enough energy on the spot, or their production by agricultural means takes too much away from food production. There is more than one string to the thermonuclear bow.

    Frankly, with the potential that thermonuclear power promises, and the problems it can solve, we’re crazy not to be ramping up research. It’s clean and non-polluting. Unlimited fuel is available. It can rectify major issues facing humanity which have not been rectified due to cost. Like all new technologies, once it is mature its cost will plummet.

    At local levels, sure, alternative and fossil fuel technologies will still be vital parts of the mix. But don’t reflexively apply current objections to “baseload” energy production (mostly centred around pollution) to thermonuclear. Don’t hold thermonuclear guilty by association.

    That would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

  10. Your conclusion is not true. In your post Sanders has +3

    Yes Klubachar is in MOE territory of being a viable candidate.

    Someone sounding a tad worried.
    There there.

  11. Despite desires of many, I really don’t think the American’s will vote for Sanders over Trump.

    They are terrrified of the word socialism … even if most wouldn’t know what it actually means.

  12. Humans are already terraforming the planet.

    With the possibly exception of endoliths, all living species have already been impacted to some extent by human activities.

  13. bakunin
    Par for the course.
    Substituting personal abuse for policy debate occurs 100% of the time when the Greens embarrass themselves with their policies.

  14. To the surprise of no one, I agree with jenauthor. The Trump campaign is salivating at the prospect of taking on Sanders. And socialism is anathema to the majority of Americans, even if they don’t actually know what it is.

  15. Nah. The voting is within 24 hours Sanders at around 30% will qualify as a candidate. No worries about reaching that 15%

    Klobuchar doesnt need to win NH. She just needs Biden to wain, Buttigieg to fall away, Bloomberg to give up before he starts and Warren to pull out and back her.

  16. Confessions @ #917 Monday, February 10th, 2020 – 3:50 pm

    More polls. Amy with all the momentum.

    Josh Jordan@NumbersMuncher
    Suffolk New Hampshire tracking poll:

    Sanders 27 (+3)
    Buttigieg 19 (-3)
    Klobuchar 14 (+5)
    Biden 12 (+2)
    Warren 12 (-1)

    Buttigieg has dropped six points since the debate while Klobuchar is up at least six.

    Would be something if the perceived Klobuchar momentum materializes…

    Umm… I see it a bit differently 😆

  17. haha

    Damien Drum just lost the Deputy Speaker bikkies!

    There will be spitting of chips!

    O’Brien walked from Morrison and got the lollies.

  18. Klobuchar doesnt need to win NH. She just needs Biden to wain, Buttigieg to fall away, Bloomberg to give up before he starts and Warren to pull out and back her.

    The word “just” is doing an awful lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, Mr Katich.

    (You also forgot “and not run out of money herself”).

  19. Pete Buttigieg called on Democrats to get more serious about lowering the national debt, portraying himself as the biggest fiscal hawk in the presidential field and taking a shot at chief New Hampshire rival Bernie Sanders for being too spendthrift.

    Asked at a town hall here how important the deficit is to him, Buttigieg said it’s “important” and vowed to focus on limiting the debt even though it’s “not fashionable in progressive circles.”

    “I think the time has come for my party to get a lot more comfortable owning this issue, because I see what’s happening under this president — a $1 trillion deficit — and his allies in Congress do not care. So we have to do something about it,” Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in a packed middle school gym, drawing cheers.

    “We’ve figured out how to deliver health care to every American without a $20-, $30-, $40 trillion price tag. Or according to one of my competitors, an ‘I don’t know’ price tag,” he said.


  20. guytaur
    Are you a Greens Climate Emergency ZeroHero?
    Have you got your personal net emissions to zero yet?
    I would be interested to know what methods you used to achieve it.

  21. The highest polls I’ve seen for Bernie in New Hampshire (Emerson) in the last 24 hours has him on 30%. Others have him as low as 22-23%.

    While the Boosters will point to the fact that he is consistently ahead the fact remains that in a state that he won in 2016, that is next to his home state, that has similar demographics he cant shake a field of not very good opponents. More than 7 out of 10 likely democrat primary voters in New Hampshire prefer someone other than Bernie.

    This is not a sign that Bernie has any momentum.

    If turn out tomorrow is at the same America levels as Iowa then it is a disaster for democrats, including Bernie if he wins by a narrow margin, especially if that number is under 30%. I am actually astonished he isn’t tracking in the 40s in New Hampshire.

    This is not looking good for anyone who wants Trump beaten in November.

  22. Kronomex
    There is a hint of prop about the way that article is framed.
    OTOH, the notions that (a) NK would not get cases and (b) would be in an excellent position to manage a national epidemic defy belief as well.
    The interesting thing is that all the illegal workarounds necessary to survive in a totalitarian society are the workarounds which will spread nCoV19.

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