Return of the frack

A contentious preference recommendation by the Greens brings a Northern Territory by-election to life, while the closure of nominations yields only a small field of candidates for the Queensland seat of Currumbin.

No Newspoll this week, owing to The Australian’s enthusiasm for unleashing them at the start of parliamentary sitting weeks, requiring a three week break rather than the usual two. However, we do have a extensive new poll on the bushfire crisis from the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre. It finds that fully 78.6% of the population reports being affected by the fires in one way or another, 14.4% severely or directly. Half the sample of 3000 respondents was asked how Scott Morrison had handled the bushfires, of whom 64.5% disapproved; for the other half the question was framed in terms of the government, with 59.4% disapproving.

Beyond that, there’s the two state/territory by-election campaigns currently in progress:

• I have posted a guide to next Saturday’s by-election in the Northern Territory seat of Johnston, which has suddenly became of more than marginal interest owing to the Greens decision to put Labor last on their how-to-vote cards (albeit that local electoral laws prevent these being distributed within close proximity of polling booths). This has been done to protest the decision by Michael Gunner’s Labor government to lift a moratorium on gas fracking exploration. The party has not taken such a step in any jurisdiction since the Queensland state election of July 1995, when it sought to punish Wayne Goss’s government in the seat of Springwood over a planned motorway through a koala habitat. This made a minor contribution to its loss of the seat, and hence to its eventual removal from office after a by-election defeat the following February. There’s acres of useful information on all this on Antony Green’s new blog, which he is publishing independently due to the ABC’s cavalier treatment of the invaluable blog he had there in happier times. There will also be a piece by me on the Greens’ decision in Crikey today, God willing.

• The other by-election in progress at the moment is for the Queensland seat of Currumbin on March 28, for which my guide can be found guide can be found here. With the closure of nominations last week, only two candidates emerged additional to Laura Gerber of the Liberal National Party and Kaylee Campradt of Labor: Sally Spain of the Greens, a perennial candidate for the party in federal and state Gold Coast seats; and Nicholas Bettany of One Nation, about whom the only thing I can tell you is that he recently deleted his Twitter account (what’s preserved of it on the Google cache reveals nothing particularly outrageous).

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.

1,591 thoughts on “Return of the frack”

  1. Um, people have died. On a high speed inter city train. In Australia:

    Two people have died after the Sydney to Melbourne XPT train believed to be carrying about 150 passengers came off the tracks near the town of Wallan about 45 kilometres north of Melbourne.

    One of the dead is believed to be the driver, another passenger is being flown to Melbourne and Ambulance Victoria said in a statement that a large number of people were being assessed but were not believed to be seriously injured.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/sydney-to-melbourne-train-derails-north-of-melbourne-20200220-p542vz.html

  2. I had a bit of a chuckle today reading the Oz, in which the old (91) warhorse and arch-conservative John Stone (former Treasury Secretary and senator) called on the majority in the Love, Thoms case to resign, and if it didn’t, it should be impeached under s.72(ii) of the Constitution on the ground of judicial activism. Of course, the High Court has never been activist in its interpretation of the common law. Wait a bit, was it not the Mason Court that ditched the doctrine of terra nullius (Mabo No 2), leading to native title legislation, and the Wik decision that held that native title rights could co-exist with statutory pastoral leases? The fact of the matter is, those of the Right fell over themselves to condemn Mabo, including many who should’ve known better – eg, the then leader of the Country Party, Tim Fischer. And of course, the Legal Affairs editor of the Oz (Chris Merritt) was in complete agreement with Stone, saying that a ‘future court needs to find a way of discarding what could eventually be seen as a politically correct decision.’

    It’s the exception to the rule that the High Court discards precedent, the majority’s decision now the settled common law of the land, which brings to me to my next point. The Morrison Government will have the opportunity to appoint at least two High Court justices: Nettle, J in December; Bell, J in March next year. There’s little doubt that they will not appoint big “C” conservative judges. But there’s no guarantee that the appointees will toe the line once ensconced (guaranteed tenure until age 70), witness, for instance, the appointment of Mason, who was seen to be a black-letter jurist. Now, that worked out well – didn’t it?

  3. Careful P1 – your pseudo name is likely to be added to the definition of obtuse in the next edition of the Macquarie Dictionary.

  4. Now David Jones going down the gurgler…

    “David Jones will axe 31,000 square metres of floor space by the middle of 2022 as part of its longer goal to cut its 486,000 square metres of floor space by 20 per cent to 390,000 by 2025. Mr Moir would not specify how many stores closures that would entail.

    For the December half, operating profit at the upmarket department store continued to plunge, falling 57.4 per cent down to $20 million due to increased discounting, weaker sales, and lower foot traffic.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/david-jones-in-robust-discussions-to-close-stores-as-profits-plunge-over-50pc-20200220-p542vi.html

  5. P1

    ‘We should frack more. Because that way we know where the methane is coming from. So then we can apply regulations to try and reduce it. ‘

    Wow. You really, really didn’t understand a word I wrote – let alone the article.

    And I tried really hard to dumb it down for you.

  6. Andrew_Earlwood @ #1506 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 9:56 pm

    Careful P1 – your pseudo name is likely to be added to the definition of obtuse in the next edition of the Macquarie Dictionary.

    No chance. They had to close that entry. It got too large since it had to include the names of all the PB Labor partisans who support increasing our extraction of fossil fuels.

  7. Jesus Cuddy, my contributions to the Democratic Primary “debate” have been about 4 posts, asking basically “Why are youse all getting your knickers in a knot?”

  8. zoomster @ #1508 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:00 pm

    P1

    ‘We should frack more. Because that way we know where the methane is coming from. So then we can apply regulations to try and reduce it. ‘

    Wow. You really, really didn’t understand a word I wrote – let alone the article.

    And I tried really hard to dumb it down for you.

    You never know when to give up, do you?

  9. “ No chance. They had to close that entry. It got too large since it had to include the names of all the PB Labor partisans who support increasing our extraction of fossil fuels.”

    And there we have it folk. Months of misunderstanding wrapped up in one sentence. The publishers of the Macquarie should probably pay you something for their next edition.

  10. Priti Partel (aka Priti Vacant), the UK Secretary for the Home Office in the Boris Circus, has announced by the end of the year workers from the EU will not get a UK visa for any job earning below £25,600 per year.

    This will have significant adverse impacts on staffing the NHS and other services.

    I wonder what leave voters will think of low paid work being reserved for UK citizens but higher paid jobs, earning more than £25,600 p. a., can be filled by foreigners!! 🙂

  11. A_E

    Oh, I worked P1 out long ago.

    There are people who have a sneaking suspicion they’re not as clever as they think they are.

    Unlike the rest of us, who know that there’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t understand something, or that you’ve got something wrong, they are terrified that if they’re wrong about one thing then that means they may be wrong about everything else.

    So they can’t admit error, and thus they can’t learn.

    The amusing thing is that this series of posts started with me basically agreeing with P1!

  12. Boerwar says:
    Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    ” even if it were nice for everyone to have free health, free education, free social services, it won’t work because it can’t work. ”

    ———————————————————————————

    Perhaps BW in his infinite wisdom can explain to us why it is that it works in Canada.

    This $30 trillion canard is a typical response from the anally-retentive “it won’t be sustainable” crowd. It’s over 10 years and doesn’t include the savings by eliminating the private insurance industry from basic hospital and physician coverage. As others have pointed out, it could actually end up costing taxpayers less.

    Given the incredible benefits for the American people involved, the cost would be peanuts. The U.S. has been spending between $500 billion and a trillion dollars a year for defense alone in recent years. You’ve seen how well all that spending worked out on Sept. 11, 2001 when 19 guys with box-cutters brought the U.S. to its knees.

    BW can tell us how we can’t afford the Canadian “everything-bulkbilled” model, but can afford to spend $500 billion on a dozen submarines that will be unable to bring down intercontinental ballistic missiles. And when the last one is delivered in the 2050’s, I’ll be 120 years old.

    Those armchair and keyboard warriors never ask whether we can afford to give the ADF such expensive toys, but they snap to attention whenever programs that really help people are advanced.

  13. Andrew_Earlwood @ #1513 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:05 pm

    “ No chance. They had to close that entry. It got too large since it had to include the names of all the PB Labor partisans who support increasing our extraction of fossil fuels.”

    And there we have it folk. Months of misunderstanding wrapped up in one sentence. The publishers of the Macquarie should probably pay you something for their next edition.

    Right. Because opening new coal mines and fracking are both really great ways to reduce our extraction of fossil fuels!

  14. a r

    Overreach. Some of the people here have both a vote and a direct interest due to being U.S. citizens.
    ————-

    I’ve always assumed that most posters on PB, given the dominance of the topics and that they all seem to have swallowed Webster’s dictionary, are U. S. Citizens! 🙂

  15. zoomster @ #1508 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:00 pm

    P1

    ‘We should frack more. Because that way we know where the methane is coming from. So then we can apply regulations to try and reduce it. ‘

    Wow. You really, really didn’t understand a word I wrote – let alone the article.

    And I tried really hard to dumb it down for you.

    Not hard enough, obviously!

  16. If two people are dead, as reported, and no other vehicle was involved, it is the first death on the railways in Victoria due solely to a railway cause, since the Laverton accident in July 1976, when one passenger died. A sad end to a remarkable record.

    The V/Line website has the most extraordinary euphemism: that trains are not running on the Seymour/Albury line, “due to an investigation with NSW Train Link service near Wallan”. *Investigation*?

    The track on north-east line from Melbourne to Albury and Sydney has been trouble-plagued for years, and no amount of fiddling around by the ARTC seems to have made much difference.

  17. zoomster @ #1515 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:08 pm

    The amusing thing is that this series of posts started with me basically agreeing with P1!

    Oh really? Because this is what you posted:

    You’ve cherry picked the article, which sees all forms of fossil fuel extraction as the problem, not one, and is basically optimistic, because identifying where methane emissions are coming from allows them to be dealt with, and indeed should result in reducing emissions more quickly than first thought.

    I will repeat what you so often say to others – Did you read the article? Because if you did, you either didn’t understand it or you’re being dishonest. Deliberately so.

    Gosh, I’d really hate it if you ever disagreed with me!

  18. Bushfire Bill @ #1496 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 6:42 pm

    The vehemence, passion and tribalism shown here for one Democratic candidate or the other – when no-one here has a vote, or anything other than indirect interest in the Primary elections – is funny.

    Minute-by-minute rebuttals, triumphant quoting of polls, fanciful costings, and conclusive denunciations abound as if the results on the night depended on it.

    They don’t.

    That’s just Guytaur though, who has an opinion about everything, isn’t afraid to share it repeatedly, and has been known to wind up arguing against points he was making only hours previously, such is the obsession with which he hectors other commenters.

  19. Remember former WA Liberal Treasurer Troy Buswell?

    His claims to fame were smashing up cars whilst drunk, dry humping business men at fund raisers, and luring a Greens parliamentarian to his boudoir. And now this…

    “Former WA Treasurer Troy Buswell is facing six serious assault charges in an alleged case of domestic violence.

    The former Liberal MP was reportedly arrested by cold case detectives overnight, accused of carrying out the attacks against his partner between 2015 and 2019.

    The charges include three counts of aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm, three counts of aggravated common assault and one count of unlawful damage.

    Mr Buswell has yet to plead to the assault charges and is due to be in court next month.”

    https://thewest.com.au/politics/state-politics/former-state-treasurer-troy-buswell-arrested-for-alleged-domestic-violence-charges-ng-b881468514z

  20. Some more from Troy Buswell’s less than illustrious career..

    “The 53-year-old is no stranger to controversy and is most remembered for the 2008 chair-sniffing scandal, which he initially denied, then admitted to.

    It involved allegations he sniffed the chair of a female staffer in late 2005 while pretending to groan in sexual pleasure. Mr Buswell described the allegations as an unsubstantiated rumour 13 times before admitting to them.

    He also admitted to snapping a Labor staffer’s bra strap in 2008, and that year a Liberal backbencher also claimed Mr Buswell had grabbed his crotch – but said the incident had been resolved between them.

    Two years later, revelations of an extra-marital affair with then-Greens MP Adele Carles emerged, along with allegations Mr Buswell had used his ministerial car three times to meet Ms Carles and got taxpayers to foot the bill for hotel stays.

    He resigned from politics in September 2014, saying public life and managing his mental illness was too hard to balance and he had lost his passion for the job.

    The resignation came six months after he was forced to step down as WA Treasurer after he had his license suspended when he allegedly left a wedding intoxicated and crashed into a series of cars on the way home.”

  21. Corio

    ARTC are 100% responsible for tonight’s tragedy.

    Incompetent engineers with no idea about running trains. Bastards the lot of them.

    V/Line and Transport for NSW were at their wits ends dealing with these absolute useless bastards.

    ARTC have ruined what was one of Australia’s premier railway lines. They should be charged before the courts.

  22. Corio @ #1520 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:16 pm

    If two people are dead, as reported, and no other vehicle was involved, it is the first death on the railways in Victoria due solely to a railway cause, since the Laverton accident in July 1976, when one passenger died. A sad end to a remarkable record.

    The V/Line website has the most extraordinary euphemism: that trains are not running on the Seymour/Albury line, “due to an investigation with NSW Train Link service near Wallan”. *Investigation*?

    The track on north-east line from Melbourne to Albury and Sydney has been trouble-plagued for years, and no amount of fiddling around by the ARTC seems to have made much difference.

    So, does that mean it was the responsibility of the federal Transport Minister to provide funds for maintenance, or the State?

  23. Greensborough Growler @ #1518 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:14 pm

    zoomster @ #1508 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:00 pm

    P1

    ‘We should frack more. Because that way we know where the methane is coming from. So then we can apply regulations to try and reduce it. ‘

    Wow. You really, really didn’t understand a word I wrote – let alone the article.

    And I tried really hard to dumb it down for you.

    Not hard enough, obviously!

    Player One specializes in being wilfully obtuse.

  24. The commentary around Buswell is interesting but indicative of broader community attitudes.

    Yesterday, a woman and her three children were horribly murdered by their husband and father who suicided. I’m not across the motivation. But, I’m happy to guess that mental illness will be a feature. Only because you’d have to be insane to do what he did.

    Yet, Buswell is a figure of fun and derision because of his antics and his previous political affiliations.

    When do we as a society wake up and do something more than normalise the appalling behaviour of some men?

  25. Thank you, Steven. Haven’t our politicians seen the statistics that say a lot more people are choosing to travel by train? So you need to put in the appropriate amount of taxpayer $$ to keep those people safe. How much is a life worth, fcs!?! It’s worth more than a bloody surplus to boast about, that I know!

  26. Just catching up on the Dem debate earlier. Sounds like Bloomberg had a shocker with his non disclosure agreements coming back to haunt him. And hardly any questions on Trump’s pardonpalooza and the politicisation of the DoJ.

  27. Greensborough Growler @ #1534 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:43 pm

    The commentary around Buswell is interesting but indicative of broader community attitudes.

    Yesterday, a woman and her three children were horribly murdered by their husband and father who suicided. I’m not across the motivation. But, I’m happy to guess that mental illness will be a feature. Only because you’d have to be insane to do what he did.

    Yet, Buswell is a figure of fun and derision because of his antics and his previous political affiliations.

    When do we as a society wake up and do something more than normalise the appalling behaviour of some men?

    As a Queensland Senator who has made the play to feel sorry for men over women in family crisis situations, I wonder has any journalist asked Pauline Hanson what she thinks? I, for one, would be interested to know.

  28. Fess

    Some feedback on the debate…..

    The Hoarse Whisperer
    @HoarseWisperer
    ·
    9m
    Yup. Another largely useless night which ensures the least electable candidate will continue leading while a half-dozen others split votes.

    We’re doing a fantastic job of helping usher in Trump’s re-election.
    Quote Tweet

    Morning Joe
    @Morning_Joe
    · 15m
    “Nobody laid a glove on [Trump]. They were too busy tearing each other to shreds…” –@JoeNBC on #DemDebate

  29. More information about the train derailment:

    It is unclear how the train derailed, but VLine had warned earlier on Thursday that the service to Albury was delayed by up to an hour because of an ongoing rail equipment fault near Wallan.

    The train was gaining speed after being stopped due to a signalling issue.

    The train was going about three-quarters speed, according to passenger Rob Jennings.

    Mr Jennings said passengers were tossed around the carriage during the approximately minute-long period from when the train began to derail to when it came to a halt.

  30. C@t

    I would rather not know what Pauline thinks. Cos it would probably make me even more angry.

    Meanwhile in response to what GG said, FWIW, the guy wasnt insane. Just evil.

  31. Vic:

    My nightmare about the election is coming true: Dems are again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I was so hopeful after the midterms, but it’s looking like another omnishambles where they end up talking about themselves and handing the Republicans the election.

    And it isn’t just failing to regain the WH but losing their House majority as well.

  32. Victoria @ #1541 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:54 pm

    C@t

    I would rather not know what Pauline thinks. Cos it would probably make me even more angry.

    Meanwhile in response to what GG said, FWIW, the guy wasnt insane. Just evil.

    That was the point. People need to put Pauline Hanson in the hot seat so as to bring into stark relief what an opportunistic politician with zero empathy for the real victims she is. While the tragedy is fresh in people’s minds.

  33. One of the things that makes me lol is the naivety from the right-whingers that the repubs have a big ol’ dirt file on Bernie and he will be “D00M3d” cos of it.

    If you haven’t been paying attention, I’ll give you a tip…

    Trump doesn’t care about the truth and will slander whoever the nomination is. If you think the truth matters to him I have some nice magic beans for sale.

  34. This thing about the nastiness of the Bernie Bros seems to be gaining traction.

    Early in the debate, one of the chief lines of attack on Sanders was the nastiness of his supporters, particularly online. “Why is it especially the case among your supporters?” Buttigieg asked Sanders. Sanders, though, wouldn’t grant the premise. “I don’t think that’s especially the case, by the way,” he said. Any political journalist could tell you that’s the case. Sanders supporters may not have a monopoly on such tactics, but it’s 100 percent more of an issue with his supporters. And to deny there’s anything unusual about them is to skirt the issue. It plays into the idea that Sanders isn’t taking this particularly seriously.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/19/takeaways-nevada-debate/

  35. Roger Stone is due to be sentenced overnight:

    Roger Stone, a longtime ally of Donald Trump and a self-described political dirty trickster, is set to be sentenced on Thursday for his attempts to sabotage a congressional investigation that posed a political threat to the president.

    The sentencing will go ahead despite an 11th-hour request by Stone’s defense team for a new trial following Trump’s claim that the conviction “should be thrown out”.

    The judge, Amy Berman Jackson of the US district court for the District of Columbia, on Tuesday refused the motion, determining that postponing the sentencing would not be “a prudent thing to do given all the circumstances”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/20/roger-stone-sentence-judge-refuses-new-trial-request

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