Of plagues and houses

Results finalised on Queensland’s two status quo state by-election results, and COVID-19 question marks over looming elections in New Zealand, the Northern Territory and for two Tasmanian upper house seats.

Counting has concluded for the Currumbin and Bundamba by-elections of a fortnight ago, with Laura Gerber retaining Currumbin for the Liberal National Party by a 1.5% margin against a 1.8% swing to Labor, and Lance McCallum retaining Bundamba for Labor by a 9.6% margin ahead of second-placed One Nation (UPDATE: Make that a 1.2% margin in Currumbin and 9.8% in Bundamba). As noted previously, the flow of Greens preferences to Labor in Currumbin was relatively weak, though not quite decisively so. Deep within the innards of the ECQ’s media feed, it says that Greens preferences were going 1738 to Labor (72.8%) and 651 (27.2%), though this can’t be based on the final figures since the Greens received 2527 rather than 2389 votes. Had Labor received 79.17% of Greens preferences, as they did in the corresponding federal seat of McPherson last May, the margin would have been pared back from 567 (1.5%) to 215 (0.5%).

I have three tables to illustrate the results in light of the highly unusual circumstances of the election, the first of which updates one that appeared in an early post, recording the extent to which voters in the two seats changed their behaviour with respect to how they voted. Election day voting obviously fell dramatically, as voters switched to pre-poll voting and, to only a slightly lesser extent, outright abstention. What was not seen was a dramatic increase in postal voting, which will require investigation given the considerable anecdotal evidence that many who applied for postal votes did not receive their ballots on time — an even more contentious matter in relation to the mess that unfolded in Wisconsin on Tuesday, on which I may have more to say at a later time.

The next two tables divide the votes into four types, polling places, early voting, postal and others, and record the parties’ vote shares and swings compared with 2017, the latter shown in italics. In both Currumbin and Bundamba, Labor achieved their weakest results in swing terms on polling day votes, suggesting Labor voters made the move from election day to pre-poll voting in particularly large numbers, cancelling out what had previously been an advantage to the LNP in pre-poll voting. This is matched by a particularly strong swing against the LNP on pre-polls in Currumbin, but the effect is not discernible in Bundamba, probably because the picture was confused by the party running third and a chunk of its vote being lost to One Nation, who did not contest last time.

In other COVID-19 disruption news:

• The Northern Territory government has rejected calls from what is now the territory’s official opposition, Terry Mills’ Territory Alliance party (UPDATE: Turns out I misheard here – the Country Liberal Party remains the opposition, as Bird of Paradox notes in comments), to postpone the August 22 election. Of the practicalities involved in holding the election under a regime of social distancing rules, which the government insists will be in place for at least six months, Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison offers only that “the Electoral Commission is looking at the very important questions of how we make sure that in the environment of COVID-19 that we do this safely”.

• After an initial postponement from May 2 to May 30, the Tasmanian government has further deferred the periodic elections for the Legislative Council seats of Huon and Rosevear, promising only that they will be held by the time the chamber sits on August 25. Three MLCs have written to the Premier requesting that the elections either be held by post or for the terms of the existing members, which will otherwise expire, to be extended through to revised polling date.

• The junior partner in New Zealand’s ruling coalition, Winston Peters of New Zealand First, is calling for the country’s September 19 election to be postponed to November 21, which has also elicited positive noises from the opposition National Party. It might well be thought an element of self-interest is at work here, with Peters wishing to put distance between the election and a donations scandal that has bedeviled his party, and National anticipating a short-term surge in government support amid the coronavirus crisis. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be softening in her opposition to the notion, saying earlier this week it would “depend on what alert level we are at”. There has regrettably been no polling of voting intention in New Zealand in two months, although the government recorded enormously encouraging results in a Colmar Brunton poll on handling of the pandemic in New Zealand and eight other countries, conducted last week.

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.

1,986 comments on “Of plagues and houses”

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  1. “It’s Timesays:
    Monday, April 13, 2020 at 11:01 pm”

    The journalist at the Australian seems to have misunderstood Hunt.

    The Guardian has the quote below. Movements are at 13% of typical levels, not reduced by 13%

    “They have responded with the best sense of Australia imaginable. The hard data is that our transport movements have been below 13% over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Easter, with Easter Sunday data still to come.

    Below 13% of the average movements for this time in an ordinary year. That means that Australians are making a difference. They are saving lives and protecting lives with their own actions. Staying at home. Maintaining the distance. Responding to the requests.”

  2. “One difference is that if someone owns a holiday home it probably* wasn’t occupied by random (and possibly C19 positive) strangers the day before. Not so with hotel rooms and holiday rentals.”

    Pft. Make it a rule that hotels have to keep the room empty for a week before renting it out long term.

  3. It’s time

    Try not to be an idiot, Rex. The virtue of how someone came about having a holiday home is irrelevant. The danger posed to the community in general by people undertaking unnecessary travel is the issue.

    The travel may well reduce the danger to the community.

  4. What drives SfM is very different from what drives Gladys and the leader of the Nats, Barilaro.
    Scot wants to look like a leader, and wants to return to the desired economic order.

    For Galdys it’s fear. Fear of the consequences of an explosion of cases leading to city hospitals being swamped, and doctors having to triage patients’ access to ventilators. Not enough beds, equipment or doctors in hospitals is her vulnerability.
    For John Barilaro it’s the fear of city dwellers taking the virus to country areas, swamping country hospitals (and exposing their inadequacies). This is why he was strongly, if not aggresively, telling people to stay at home this weekend.

    Both know they have allowed NSW hospitals to run down. Not enough PPE, not enough ICU beds and generally poor bed to population ratios – this is their legacy after 9 years in power.

    I expect Galdys to resist Scotty’s push to open things up before she is satisfied she will be safe from blame.

  5. Griff

    Actually, without the Ruby Princess, perhaps we would have been more complacent and had greater numbers of community transmission? Human behaviour is a funny thing.

    You are almost certainly correct – a sort of felix culpa, as they say in the Church of Rome!

  6. Pegasus @ #1876 Monday, April 13th, 2020 – 8:43 pm

    Saying $200,000 isn’t rich is stupid –


    Obama set the threshold for “rich” as $250k USD in income, some number of years ago. At the current exchange rate that’s near $400k. And probably more than that if you account for inflation between whenever Obama said that and now.

    Not that Obama is necessarily any sort of authority on the subject. But does provide some basis for not thinking that anyone who says “AU$200k isn’t rich” is automatically stupid.

  7. Maude

    Agreed. Although there are also pressures on the other side – including some state bureaucrats who really don’t get the idea of elimination – who really do think in terms of it being inevitable that the virus will spread through the population however slowly. These people I do not like.

    There’s also pressure on Gladys from the right wing media. A lot of pressure.

  8. a r

    Obama was politically required to set the threshold high.
    While I don’t regard someone on 250k a year as filthy rich, they certainly aren’t struggling and certainly can afford to pay a decent share of tax.

  9. ar

    According to the Census ACS survey, the median household income for the United States was $60,336 in 2017, the latest data available. 2018 Census ACS data (including 2018 national household income numbers) will be released in September of 2019.


    So $250K was definitely well off!

  10. Maude Lynne,
    I have always said that the best doctors can be found working at least some of the time in the Public Hospital system. That’s where the challenging cases end up. So it’s just bone-headed for the NeoLiberals to pump up the tires of the Private Health system at the expense of the Public Health system.

    Because, and it was bound to happen sooner or later, something would come along to break through the boundaries that they had set up between the two systems and the nation would really, really need the Public Hospital and Public Health system and all that it has within its walls.

    I think that the Coalition is just very lucky they have had broad societal co-operation in squashing the curve and so those cases requiring the expert care needed to manage a bad case of Coronavirus have been able to be accommodated in the Public Hospital system, with a bit of overlap with the Private Hospitals.

  11. CC
    “There’s also pressure on Gladys from the right wing media. A lot of pressure.”

    Yes, that is becoming more obvious by the day.
    But she really has no choice but to hold the line against relaxing restrictions.
    Things can blow out very quickly, as she is probably very well aware.
    And the RW media will kick her to death if case numbers explode.

  12. I’m sure you will all be pleased that my chest infection and ongoing viral symptoms are not COVID19. I didn’t think it was. I’d just really like to get my sense of smell and taste back.

  13. “And that is apt to make you feel poorer than you are. As the social researcher Rebecca Huntley noted in a blog for MLC last year, the result is that 60 per cent of households with incomes of about $145,000 misidentified themselves as being middle class.
    That is two classroom school teachers at 1.2 range living together.


    Two nurses could clear $145k a year.

    What it shows is how well paid Australians are.

  14. Diogenes:

    There is corollary to the holiday hone argument; residents of seaside towns shouldn’t be allowed to visit the city for non-essential reasons.

    Absolutely right – by so visiting (or even returning to a normal city residence) the risk to both the person and community is increased. So don’t do it.

    We normally go to my parents have use at Victor Harbor over Easter but haven’t. It’s discouraged but not banned in SA. We’re leaving it free for if someone needs to self isolate.

    Victor Harbor has the oldest median age in Australia. My oncologist was told by his mother (who lives in VH) that he wasn’t to visit VH for any reason!

    Horses for courses!

  15. C@t

    I think that the Coalition is just very lucky they have had broad societal co-operation in squashing the curve and so those cases requiring the expert care needed to manage a bad case of Coronavirus have been able to be accommodated in the Public Hospital system, with a bit of overlap with the Private Hospitals.

    Agreed. Very, very lucky that Australians were ahead of our PM, having seen what was happening overseas. Co-operation has been high, and generally cheerfully given.
    Gladys needs to manage things carefully. She’s been good so far.
    I would be unsurprised if trust in her exceeded trust in our PM.

  16. Maude Lynne,
    shellbell is a big fan of Gladys. 🙂

    I do think we need to remember that she has done some things very poorly as well, and other things she did were at the urging of the NSW Labor Opposition.

  17. Buce,
    If it’s the flu I’ve had for the last 6 weeks then your sense of taste and smell comes back after about a month, but, of course, everyone is different. Just trying to give you some hope.

  18. C@t

    Overall I am not a fan of Gladys. The list of things I dislike about her is long.
    I am just glad that she has acted as she has re covid-19.
    I have actively campaigned against the state LNP in two previous elections, (supporting the local Labor candidate) and will do so again, provided I am vertical.

    I am very worried about what our PM will do if given the chance re relaxing restrictions, so Gladys remains my only hope.
    And that’s a worry, too.

  19. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/01/europe/iceland-testing-coronavirus-intl/index.html

    DeCODE, a subsidiary of US biotech company Amgen, has so far tested about 9,000 self-selected people.
    “The results of the additional tests performed by deCODE have given an indication that efforts to limit the spread of the virus have been effective so far,” the government wrote last week, adding “testing in the general population will continue to elicit a much clearer picture of the actual spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iceland.”
    Some of the revelations have been stark. Although fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive for the virus, the company’s founder Dr. Kári Stefánsson told CNN that around 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic, confirming multiple studies that show that asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, people have played an important role in spreading the virus.
    “What it means in my mind, is that because we are screening the general population, we are catching people early in the infection before they start showing symptoms,” Stefánsson said.
    “Keep in mind that the screening is now randomized, but voluntary so there is some bias in the data,” the Directorate of Health said in a statement, adding that a “randomized screening program has started and a blood serum screening for antibodies is planned.”

    Precisely what I’ve been bitching on about for weeks. Mass random testing is a powerful tool.

  20. Some of the revelations have been stark. Although fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive for the virus, the company’s founder Dr. Kári Stefánsson told CNN that around 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic, confirming multiple studies that show that asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, people have played an important role in spreading the virus.

    Which, of course, is the reason for everybody wearing masks when out in public.

  21. ABC radio show nightline on now. Talking about the “end game” and about elimination.

    First caller points out when Australia eliminated TB, every person was tested.

  22. ar

    Saying $200,000 isn’t rich is stupid –


    Let’s see how much more the $200k+ battlers think the need to be well off 🙂

    More than one-fifth of those earning more than $200,000 think they need an extra $10,000 a week to be “well-off”, while another fifth believe they need $20,000 or more per week to achieve that.


  23. Some ‘interesting’ developments out of UK Labour, involving Tom Watson and others, and a flurry of twitter activity complete with ‘leaks’

    One allegation is that Watson manipulated the NEC inquiry into Ken Livingstone to extend his suspension for 12 months – when Corbyn was pushing for expulsion – to drag out the anti-semitism furore to damage Labour and undermine Corbyn

    And a general campaign in the background – in the run up to the 2017 election – to undermine Corbyn from within

    As a Labour member I’m disgusted with it


    Shlomo #CorbynWasRight

    So Ken Livingstone was suspended for comments that offended Jewish people
    Tom Watson delayed the expulsion to make Corbyn look bad & make Corbyn look Anti-Semitic
    In other words Tom Watson used Jewish people as a football to hit Corbyn with

    Quote Tweet
    Mike (one of those Trots)
    · 19h
    This is the most damning quote I’ve found thus far: Emilie Oldknow saying she had Tom Watson delay the expulsion of Ken Livingston to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn, despite his demanding a resolution.
    Show this thread
    12:42 PM · Apr 13, 2020·Twitter Web App


  24. [‘Cardinal George Pell is being investigated over new child abuse allegations made by a different accuser according to reports.

    The Victorian Police have been secretly investigating the claims according to an exclusive report from the Herald Sun. The accuser is a male who works in a professional role who made claims about alleged child sex abuse that date back to the 1970s.’]


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