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 comments on “Return of the frack”

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  1. Victoria @ #1547 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 11:04 pm


    Pauline Hanson is a useless reactionary.
    Nothing can help her or anyone who believes in her shtick

    I just keep hoping that something will break the spell she has cast over a lot of Australians. Like Paul Parker the RFS Firey, for example. Surely if such people saw what sort of human beings she makes a point of supporting, then maybe they may have second thoughts about supporting her.

  2. Confessions: This blog pretty much blows that argument out of the water haha.

    And I say I’m a billion percentage points more correct than what you quoted.

    Which is wrong btw. 😉

  3. Victoria @ #1555 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 11:13 pm

    a r

    Good point. The negative energy about at the moment is quite draining. Whatayoudo

    Personally, I see it as pre-season footy. Lot’s of meaningless wins. But, the main players have yet to unleash their prowess.

    However, it’s hard to see how any one Democrat will win enough votes to carry the Nomination. So, there may be a lot of wheeling and dealing at the end. If so, Bloomberg has a lot of clout because of his money. Maybe Schiff emerges up the middle as either a Candidate or Powerbroker.

  4. Good healthcare, education policies, environmental policies etc. etc.

    Big rallies where ordinary people feel engaged in the political process.

    Such a dearth of joy.

    What a horrible man.

    110% true. 😉

  5. GG

    I wanted Schiff to be the nominee from the get go, but I understood his focus was elsewhere. And of course he did a stellar job under difficult circumstances, due to a corrupt Senate.

  6. Queensland police spark anger with ‘open mind’ comment on murder of Hannah Clarke and children

    Domestic violence campaigners appalled force wants to consider suggestions Rowan Baxter was ‘driven too far’ when he set fire to his family in their car in Brisbane

    “Renee Eaves, a victims’ advocate who has worked extensively with domestic abuse sufferers in their interactions with the Queensland police, said she could not believe the comments.

    “This … is nothing short of a flashing billboard about the mindset by some police around domestic violence,” she said.

    “This narrative is the most dangerous thing that exists for victims who doubt themselves after an attack that maybe they were partly responsible. Police seem to think women make up complaints or are complicit, and as a result they fail to protect them.

    “If police are now implying that a murdered woman might be at fault, then that to me raises critical questions about whether they took the threat to her safety seriously enough.

    “A calculated monster has killed a woman and her children in the most abhorrent way anyone could imagine. Even when the worst has occurred, they’re still questioning the woman, and still looking for reasons to justify this man’s behaviour.”

    Angela Lynch, the chief executive of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland,
    said: “for police to be buying into that kind of rhetoric is very concerning.’’

    “It’s giving legitimacy to what has occurred. It’s victim blaming. It’s saying that she might have caused this through her own actions. It plays into very dangerous ideas in the community around victim blaming and a whole range of myths about the family law system.”

    Lynch said police often say domestic violence cases as “tit for tat between two parties, rather than an abusive pattern of violence”.

  7. Brisbane mother dies after three children killed in car fire

    “A major crime investigation is underway into a horrific case of domestic violence in the Brisbane suburb of Camp Hill.
    It comes just weeks after government figures revealed Queensland courts were dealing with a growing backlog of domestic violence claims, now exceeding 70,000.”

    Guest: Professor Kerry Carrington, Gendered Violence expert; director, School of Justice at the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology

  8. Boerwar:

    He also inherits $24 trillion debt.
    Say, cost of debt, $1 trillion a year.

    Effective cost of T-Bills is at worst zero; it might currently be negative (though obviously this would not scale).

    US spends 18% on health (Norway is 16%); US could in principle reduce to 15% (saving $600bn / annum) with a Swiss or Australian system, whilst improving quality.

    The problem is the practical politics of actually getting this done; this would require an absolutely masterful politician. Mr Obama was nowhere near good enough to do it, and Sen. Sanders isn’t even in the ballpark (nor are any of the rest).

  9. I can’t help wondering about the houses owned by the other competing candidates and Trump himself.

    As a landless peasant myself, I spose they’re all much more propertied than I’ll ever be. Quite obviously, owning property in and of itself doesn’t disqualify anyone. How much is too much? I don’t think there’s an easy answer.

    What I do reckon is that Sanders has a lot more in common with working people than Bloomberg will ever have. If the choice were B or S, I’d take S every time.

    Trump is odds on to win. To that extent, who really gives one for the Dem? If you’re gonna lose, lose well.

  10. Player One:

    What would surprise me – in a good way – is if Labor commits to winding back fossil fuel subsidies.

    Is this likely?

    What would surprise me (and perhaps some others here) would be if you prioritised actions over ‘commitments’.

  11. RI

    What I do reckon is that Sanders has a lot more in common with working people than Bloomberg will ever have. If the choice were B or S, I’d take S every time.

    What I do reckon is that Sanders has a lot more in common with working people than Roosevelt ever had. If the choice were R or S…

  12. One in three Australian MPs own an investment property

    “The registers show 56 MPs owned 90 investment properties between them, not counting properties declared as residential homes or commercial businesses.

    Twenty-nine lower house Coalition MPs have declared interests in a total of 49 investment properties, compared with 26 Labor MPs, who declared 40 properties.
    The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, declared two investment properties in Marrickville and Dulwich Hill in Sydney.”

  13. RI.

    It’s fine that they own lots and lots don’t you know?

    They aren’t actually trying to make the U.S a better place, so it’s fine to go the wine caves, pay for the NDAs etc. etc.

    If they wanted things to be better for the average American then they would be HYPOCRITES I tells ya, and trying to make things better for other people unless you live in a sewer like a Ninja Turtle is bad.

    Real bad.

  14. RI

    Actually being serious for a second. FDR is one of the presidents I admire the most (the interment stuff was horrible though).

    And that’s partially why I’ve been having a bit of laugh on Pollbludger tonight. Sanders to me is not a radical but someone (along with Warren) who is going back to policies that made that country better.

    The U.S is still powerful enough that a change in direction from them can change the whole world for the better. *

    * But if i’m being realistic, probably not 🙁

  15. Nicholas

    “The larger more important point is that everybody is part of the current system, whether they like the system or not, and it is not necessary for a person to renounce all aspects of that system while they campaign for big changes to it. Trying to nail people for hypocrisy because they don’t set the most extreme personal example that they could possibly set is a deliberate distraction – and a common tactic by people who simply want to discredit systemic and structural change altogether . By shifting the focus to individuals, the aim is to distract attention from the need to change the systems that people are embedded in. It is an effort to demoralise people by claiming that there is no point in campaigning for structural change unless you personally are prepared to stand outside of the system in all aspects of your personal life.”

    Well said. Spot on.

    And congrats on another well written published article.

  16. nath:

    I see that Oscar the grouch is still periodically popping up out of his trashcan to give cranky one liners.

    The first flowering of self awareness in youth is always a wonderful thing!

  17. What a stupid thing it is that the Commonwealth subsidizes the property acquisitions of politicians.

    Mr Abbott was in a sense right in his preference to stay in the police college (though him being PM is actually the (only) exception to the otherwise correct rule).

    We should establish residential colleges for the Pollies (maybe five around Canberra), fitted out as managed apartments (with security) and allocate by lot. This would some reintroduce some desperately needed collegiality into the system.

    Only the PM would be permitted to live outside a college – no other exceptions and if someone doesn’t like it (perhaps due to being Clive Palmer) then fucking off is the available alternative.

  18. a r says:
    Friday, February 21, 2020 at 12:09 am
    Sigil @ #1578 Thursday, February 20th, 2020 – 10:48 pm

    and trying to make things better for other people unless you live in a sewer like a Ninja Turtle is bad.

    Real bad.
    Same goes for trying to make anything happen on climate change, too.

    Nothing of any substance can happen while the dysfunction in Australian politics persists. With this in mind, the Greens owe it to themselves, their values and the chances for future generations to dissolve themselves.

  19. Regarding the XPT derailment.

    The track is leased from the Victorian Government and maintained and operated by ARTC.
    ARTC is a Federal Government owned corporation and its main source of revenue is selling access to freight trains.

    The XPT is a fast train on good track. Its not a high speed train. That distinction belongs to trains that operate at 250 km/hr and over, whereas the XPT operates at up to 160 km/hr and it definitely wasn’t dong anything like this in the derailment.

    My gut feeling so far (I could be proven wrong) is subsidence of the track brought on by recent rain and poorly maintained drainage. It just has that feel about it. Its a nearly straight section of track and there’s a creek running nearby.

    Oh and for C@t. This is a good example of why I prefer fast passenger trains to have their own track and not share track with freight. Freight messes up tracks. The Japanese will not allow sale of their high speed trains unless they are to be used on dedicated track.

  20. Greensborough Growler.
    No, that man did not ‘have to be mentally ill’ to incinerate his ex and their children. There are many mentally ill people and they are not doing those sorts of terrible things. The mentally ill are more disposed to hurting themselves than other people.

    I know why this man did it. His abhorant personality, his history of family violence, his need to control and bully his partner and to own her and their kids like one owns an animal, his high levels of vindictiveness and cruelty, his anger at having his will thwarted by his ex female-partner, and his need to win any cost allowed him to plan and carry out this unforgiveably henious act.

    And this answers the question:’Why don’t women just leave violent partners?’

    Because it is an incredible act of personal bravery, in which the woman risks her life, and that of her children.

    How do I know?

    Because I successfully did it.

  21. This horrible crime is a big trigger for me. To make it worse I just want to talk to my Mum for reassurance and understanding but she is now dead.
    Believe me when I say family violence damagrs you across your whole lifetime

    I am having flashbacks of hiding in the bush from gunfire, being beaten with a lump of wood, getting black eyes or punched in the gut (no marks then). If you have not lived through it, it is hard to understand. Of going to hospital with obvious injuries and no-one caring. I gave birth to a baby in a major hospital, when I was bruised and with a swollen eye, and not one person said a damn thing about it. It was not recorded on my medical file nor one question asked.

    This was in the 1970’s. Nothing much has changed.

  22. “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.”


    Yep Warren really got him. She got her chance and really went for it. Bloomberg or someone on his campaign team should have seen that coming. Wasn’t it obvious that he was going to face those questions? That debate may go down as one of the most costly gambles ever to take place in Vegas, and that’s saying a lot lol.

  23. I have been reflecting a lot on Anthony Albanese, I don’t deny Bill Shorten would have been a good Prime Minister on the level of Julia Gillard (who I respect a lot). However, Anthony Albanese can be as great of a Prime Minister as John Curtin or Bob Hawke were. In that of a truly transformative leader. Not to say I have criticisms of his leadership of the Labor party so far, particularly that of trying to all things to all people on the issue of the future of the fossil fuels industry.

    This is because Albanese I argue has an ability (a quite rare one) to relate to different sorts of people, speaking at their particular level. Along, with readily willing to engage and debate people who hold different opinions to himself. These groups range from inner-city, middle-class progressives, to financially aspirational working and middle-class people in the suburbs and regional cities, to even conservative religious people who oppose marriage equality on the basis of their faith.

    As a consequence Albanese has a certain amount of respect from some in the News Corporation stables, such as Joe Hilderbrand. I would not be surprised if some News Corporation outlets at the 2022 election endorse Labor and ask their readers to elect a majority Labor government. Even if prevents the Greens or even a truly socialist minor party having the balance of power.

    I really want to meet Anthony Albanese and have at least a brief chat, I suspect we would share the same systematic thinking.

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