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. “Confessionssays:
    Monday, April 13, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I believe that is satire.”

    Are you sure…. 🙂

    ““I can see why they have a problem with renters swarming beach towns… But in Portsea, most of us are owners.

    “We are as good as locals… Even if the Mornington locals don’t recognise us… It’s like Sorry Jayden I know you don’t remember me from high school but my caffeine addiction is basically keeping your family afloat””

  2. Instead, he then starts talking about his “Goldilocks” approach, which really amounts to keeping the lockdown going as long as you can stand it, even if the case numbers remain low, in the hope that maybe you’ll reach elimination before you feel compelled to lift it.

    Evidently, meher didn’t actually read the article, or if he did, he skimmed so quickly as to fail to comprehend it.

    What Daley actually wrote

    Was this..

    Under the Goldilocks strategy, we could afford to relax at least some restrictions. But events where one person can infect many others would probably remain out of bounds – such as live sport and entertainment, large parties, religious services (at least those that have large congregations), eating out, and socialising at the beach. Domestic tourism would probably also be out, because tourists can spread the virus from area to area. There’s a good chance that many workplaces and university classes would have to stay closed. And a number of activities would have to remain in the “wait-and-see” category, such as schools, domestic air travel, general community socialising, and non-essential retail, except in their current alternative online forms.

    Whatever is required to keep infection rates close to one would need to remain in place until there is a cure or a vaccine – and that probably means for as long as 18 months, assuming either happens.


    That’s a long time to be living a severely restricted life. It is also economically very unattractive. Even for activities that are permitted, businesses would know that if infection rates drift up, they may be shut again. This is unlikely to breed the confidence that is essential to business investment. And most of the businesses that are shuttered for so long are unlikely to restart – imposing big longer-term economic costs.

    This is actually Daley describing the government’s approach, not his own approach. And you might have guessed from the naming that he isn’t approving of the Goldilox approach.

    You know the story of Goldilox don’t you? This one sees too many people killed.. but this one sees too much damage to the economy.. but THIS one is JUST RIGHT!

    Except, no such beast. For a start, Daley is pointing out two things (and I hope you are reading this meher, because there will be an exam later). Firstly he’s saying that the list of things that might plausibly be counted as potential relaxations of current restrictions leave out a lot of big, economically important activities, like tourism. Secondly, he’s saying that under the Goldilox scheme, there is the constant threat of the virus going out of control again. As a result you’ll see lower business confidence and lower investment.

    There’s another reason why Daley is being scornful of the Goldilox approach, meher. This is because (and I’ve described the approach myself as the “magic knob”) that we just don’t have the “control authority”. We don’t have a knob that we can adjust that has instant and fine grained control. We may well take a decision that seems fine for a few weeks, then sees an exponential rise of infections and then we have to turn the knob down and wait weeks for it to have the desired effect.

    This is disaster waiting to happen and Daley is right in pointing it out.

    The only sane, stable end game is elimination. This has been Daley’s approach all along.

  3. The National cabinet has got most things right.

    Yes, Rex, this may be so, but its despite rather than because of Scomo and his bullshit artist Chief Medical Officer.

  4. I hope the police examine the crew movement records of all the staff on the Ruby Princess. How many had been on the other Carnival Princess lines in the month before? How many had been redeployed off the Diamond Princess in Japan, or the Grand Princess in California?

    Someone or some group of people closely associated with this dodgy outfit knows a lot more than what has been revealed to date.

    By Alexandra Smith
    April 13, 2020 — 6.29pm

    A Ruby Princess crew member serving food in the galley is the likely source of the coronavirus outbreak that spread through the embattled cruise ship, infecting as many as 700 people.

    As NSW recorded two more passenger deaths from the ship, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said patient zero was probably a crew member.

    “At this stage we would think that it was probably a crew member working in probably the galley, someone who is serving food, someone who would get across a number of passengers for it to spread like it has,” Mr Fuller said on Monday. “But again, that is not proven as fact yet, but that would seem to be the most obvious point of transmission is someone who is handling food on behalf of multiple hundreds of people.”

    A criminal investigation, led by NSW homicide detectives, is underway into the cruise ship, with hundreds of witnesses expected to be interviewed.


  5. Blovvit

    Indeed. The issue though is how long. I don’t know. If it were a month, then great, go for it.

    If it’s 60 months of everything we’re doing now, then no.

    Both aspects need to be considered. I think we’re getting to the point of soon needing to consider relaxing SOME constraints.

    Check out this article
    And the attached research and modelling

    In answer to your question, we are talking about 1-3 months for elimination.
    New Zealand’s own modelling suggested 11 weeks from now, but they’re actually ahead of target.
    My modelling, for what its worth, suggests 5-11 weeks depending on testing and dumb shit luck.
    Check out the paper above which is a far more precise model (but generally agrees with my own conclusions).

    We are going to have a much better answer to these questions in the next couple of weeks. New Zealand will soon be going into single figures and we may do so not long after.

  6. Rex:’not everyone who owns a 2nd home is rich.’

    If you are hoarding houses when you are poor, you are doing it wrong. You don’t need to be scum, you probably shouldn’t be scum , but yet you persist.

  7. My family’s holiday home at Bateau Bay, 400 metres from the beach, was built by my uncles and aunts, and parents and cousins and me, from hand mixed concrete, and mostly second hand materials, on a block of land which my uncle George won in a NSW Land Commission ballot in 1956 (99 year lease at peppercorn rent). After we had built a 100 quid garage on it, and cleared about half of it, he was able to buy the block outright for 560 pounds. The whole family chipped in. (Basic wage 12 pounds 6 shillings a week) It took about 3 years to build the house, which, after extension and recladding, my sister still lives in. It is still the family go-to place for celebrations. Over 80 from 4 generations turned up for my 70th. The little fibro over the road sold for $1.25 million in January.

    The whole extended family used it for school holidays, long weekends, and often ordinary weekends for forty years or so. Before the expressway it was a 2 1/2 hour trip, minimum, from Concord West, in Sydney, with extra allowed for car sickness. We often had 20 or more people staying; there were beds and lounges everywhere, 3 double bunks in the garage, and a four berth caravan. Meal times were fun. Three (sort of) sitting/standings for breakfast, make your own lunch of bread (delivered hot by a man with a horse and cart) and whatever was on the platters, and lots of charcoal barbecues or enormous casseroles for dinner.

    Early morning swim at sunrise, before breakfast. Then more swimming and surfing, rock or beach fishing, walking in the National Park, or around the rocks to Forresters, or up Shelly Beach to Toowoon Bay and back. Enormous card games after dinner. Utter bliss.

    And we were poor. So, so poor.

  8. BB

    No mathematical function will counter human stupidity, Cud.

    But compulsory testing of critical care workers before they can enter their place of work might. I also saw that story on TV and I was stunned that they hadn’t done this.

  9. PeeBee says:
    Monday, April 13, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Rex:’not everyone who owns a 2nd home is rich.’

    You have to be rich to run one house let alone 2. You have to be rich to pay rates, insurance and maintenance on a second house. You have to pay to have the utilities connected, and you have to have another house of furniture. You have to be rich to stock a second pantry when there are plenty of people who can’t stock one.

    You are rich if you have a second home, because you can sell It and live on the proceeds for decades.

    Poor people can’t do that.
    You don’t need to be rich to run one house because two thirds of Australians do and they cannot all be called rich. A person with a second property might better off selling one property to free up the capital and to cut down on expenses and it is possible to stock two pantry’s on a modest income.

  10. Oh when I was a lad.. well 18..

    My parents decided to get rid of me for the New Years break. Sent me off on the train to a small village on the coast near Coffs Harbour, where relatives had a caravan and I got to sleep on the ground, under the annex.

    Slept in every day.. wandered the beaches listening to the radio for hours.. body surfed any time I felt like and lived on choc chips. Had the time of my life 🙂

  11. What this debate does show is what is rich and what isn’t rich because for a while i have felt the left sets the bar too low. If the first house is in Toorak and the second is in Portsea then the chances are the owner is rich but if the house is in Preston and the second house is in Hastings then the person probably isn’t rich.

  12. Not a log cabin but fibro: we used to spend a couple of weeks in January in a small shack in Bateau Bay owned by an Aunty in the 60s.

  13. CC
    “ But compulsory testing of critical care workers before they can enter their place of work might.”
    I think pretty much all the staff in critical care at the RAH have been tested and all are clear.

  14. The Chinese government is suffering a setback to its efforts to befriend countries of Africa, due to the treatment of their nationals in some Chinese cities.

    (CNN)Beijing is facing a diplomatic crisis in Africa after reports of alleged coronavirus-related discrimination against African nationals in China sparked widespread anger across the continent.

    African students and expatriates in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou were last week subject to forced coronavirus testing and arbitrary 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of recent travel history, amid heightened fears of imported infections.

    Large numbers of African nationals were also left homeless, after being evicted by landlords and rejected by hotels in the city.

    Having reportedly contained the virus within China, concerns have grown in recent weeks over a so-called second wave, brought into the country by overseas travelers.

    In Africa, however, governments, media outlets and citizens reacted angrily to the apparent rise in anti-foreigner sentiment, as videos of Africans being harassed by police, sleeping on the streets or being locked into their homes under quarantine circulated online.


    Unfortunately for the US, Trump’s behaviour is unlikely to mean China’s misfortune becomes America’s good fortune.

  15. Greg Jericho

    Saying $200,000 isn’t rich is stupid – and Labor should know better


    “The latest two-year survey of household incomes and wealth from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that over the past two years inequality has increased. The wealthiest 25% of Australians have increased their income by nearly double that of median income households, while the wealth holdings of the poorest 20% of households has actually declined.

    The passing of the recent tax package – including stage three, which overwhelmingly benefits those earning over $120,000, has effectively ensured inequality is going to grow over the next decade.

    Whether or not the ALP was correct to support the package, it is clear the cause of equality is not helped by Anthony Albanese saying that he does not “regard someone who’s earning $200,000 dollars a year as being from the top end of town”.

    The latest Survey of Housing and and Income, released by the ABS today, shows that belief is complete bollocks.”

  16. Bushfire Bill @ #1830 Monday, April 13th, 2020 – 7:09 pm

    Cuddly wrote:

    The virus needs a host. We have seen it last without a host for up to 17 days on the Diamond Princess

    Lead story on ABC TV News: sick worker (who probably couldn’t afford to lose her job) stays at work and spreads virus throughout a Western Sydney nursing home. Multiple staff and patients infected.

    We’ve seen what can happen with situations like this in Burnie. Now Sydney.

    No mathematical function will counter human stupidity, Cud.

    ‘Sick’ worker could have been totally asymptomatic, casual, employed less than twelve months, single mother. Three kids and a parent to support. Already behind on rent because the fridge broke down. Pimply bum. All sorts of things, some relevant, some perhaps not.

    Not necessarily stupid, though.

  17. frednk

    If you heard a public official dismissing the idea of elimination by saying that if we eliminated the virus in Australia then we’d have to maintain very tight borders for a long time to come, you’d have to be worried about the implication, right?

    Because the “Goldilox” solution that the government is pushing and which the media are drunk on entails also having a fraction of percent of the population having been exposed for “a long time to come”, right? So we’d still have to maintain very tight borders. No change.

    I really can’t help but suspect that some people, privately or subconsciously desire a “easing of restrictions” because deep down they want herd immunity to take effect. Not saying the CMO thinks this, but I’m sure some of the people around him do.

  18. Peg
    That article is from last year but a couple with a household income of $200k is what i call comfortable instead of rich. grog identifies them as the top 25% which they certainly are but the problem with using income is a job can disappear overnight.

  19. Nicholas says:
    Monday, April 13, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Saagar Enjeti does a great job of explaining why Joe Biden is an extremely weak candidate to pit against Donald Trump.


    Nicholas clearly you don’t understand swift boating. You have to make unfounded accusation of rape when it is too late for the candidate to discredit the accusation.
    As things stand you have discredited yourself.

  20. sprocket_ @ #1871 Monday, April 13th, 2020 – 8:35 pm

    Can we have some more log cabin stories?

    This misses the point altogether. It doesn’t matter whether your “holiday home” is a bush block with a lean-to, or a multi-million dollar waterfront mansion – it is utterly unnecessary for you to travel there, so you should not have done so. And if you did, I sincerely hope you get caught and fined.

  21. Cud Chewer says:
    Monday, April 13, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I really can’t help but suspect that some people, privately or subconsciously desire a “easing of restrictions” because deep down they want herd immunity to take effect. Not saying the CMO thinks this, but I’m sure some of the people around him do.

    25,000,000*0.6*0.01 is not a hard number to calculate. It is a lot of people to die for a hard right dream.

  22. By the numbers: Australian home ownership & tenancy


    Owning housing for non-residential purposes

    According to the 2017-18 stats, one in five Australian households – that’s 1.86 million – own property besides the one they’re residing in.

    This includes those that own investment properties and/or holiday homes.

    Of those:

    71% (1.3 million) owned one property (besides their current place of residence)
    18% (343,100) owned two properties
    5.8% (108,000) owned three properties
    4.6% (86,000) owned four or more properties

  23. Some people should remember that if you do own a second house, for use as a holiday home for example, that it is not exempt from taxation and other regulations. It is counted as an asset under welfare rules, unlike the main home, and is subject to capital gains unlike the main family home. So it is the same as any other class of asset. I’ve found that those people who hate those with a second house would quite like one of their own if possible.

  24. I wondered if Fauci would get blowback for his appearance with Jake Tapper earlier. #ETTD

    President Trump publicly signaled his frustration on Sunday with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, after the doctor said that more lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the country had been shut down earlier.

    Mr. Trump reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci” as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 Americans.


  25. The average annual full-time earning in Australia is a bit short of $90 K. The median would be about $70 K. Anyone on $200 K p.a. isn’t a plutocrat but they’re doing pretty well. No sad violins for their plight.

    Cancel the tax cuts.

  26. Surely the US must be running short of capable liars willing to front up and make excuses for Trump…
    (the attrition rate must be horrendous).

  27. CC

    SA officially going for eradication.

    Deputy chief public health officer Mike Cusack said while the state has recorded some “very positive” results, the virus has not been eradicated.

    “It would be wrong to imply [that] we’re over the back of this and we’ve seen the worst,” Dr Cusack told reporters.

    “We’re determined to try to clear the virus [from] South Australia.”

  28. 25,000,000*0.6*0.01

    It’s worth spelling out.

    It’s 150,000, per capita roughly equivalent to the impact of WW2 on Australia.

    And looking at numbers for other countries, including some developed Western nations, the 0.01 may be optimistic.

  29. MB

    Released a year ago – so what….article is based on data from….

    6553.0 – Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2017-18
    LATEST ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/07/2019

    …. is released every 2 years….

    “The principal objective of the survey is to facilitate the analysis and monitoring of the social and economic welfare of Australian residents in private dwellings. The main users are government and other social and economic analysts involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of social and economic policies.”

  30. Yabba, haven’t seen (or heard of) a Longicorn beetle before, so will go up and investigate the bark and trunk tomorrow.

  31. Cud

    Had a skim of that article.

    One thing though, it rather begs the question of what needs to be done to achieve that R=0.25.

    “People have an average number of close contacts per day of around 0.75 pre policy implementation and 0.25 post policy”

    It’s easy to say just keep going with what we’re doing, but there are serious non-economic consequences to the choices we make now. Remember, hairdressers were going to kill us all. Liked like that didn’t happen.

    Even aiming for elimination I still think it’s worth questioning what restrictions we might be able to reduce, given the benefits the changes may bring.

  32. “I’ve found that those people who hate those with a second house would quite like one of their own if possible.”

    I don’t hate them, and would quite like one. I just don’t see the substantial difference between letting people visit their holiday home and letting them go on holiday.

  33. One in eight people in Australia living in poverty, report finds

    More than 700,000 children among those below the poverty line, with low rate of Newstart, lack of jobs and rising housing costs the main drivers


    “Some 3.2 million people including more than 700,000 children in Australia are living in poverty at last count, according to a new report.

    The Australian Council of Social Service and University of New South Wales’s Poverty in Australia report, released on Friday, found that more than one in eight people (13.6%) lived below the poverty line after housing costs were taken into account.

    Acoss’s chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, said the low rate of Newstart, a lack of jobs and unaffordable housing were “locking people in poverty”.

    “Not only has poverty remained consistently high in our wealthy country, the depth of poverty is getting worse, with households in poverty on average living 42% below the poverty line, up from 35% in 2007,” she said.
    Child poverty trends were impacted by the Howard and Gillard governments decisions to move single parents with children aged eight and older on to Newstart and another Labor government move in 2009 to index family tax benefits to inflation, rather than the faster-growing wages index.

    Noting separate but similar data collated by the OECD, the report said Australia’s poverty rate was above average among OECD nations.
    The government and departmental bureaucrats have faced criticism in parliament from the Greens senator Rachel Siewert over its failure to adopt an official measure and definition of poverty.

    Past Labor governments also did not refer to such a measure, although the opposition said on Wednesday it would introduce an annual nation’s wellbeing, from life expectancy to child poverty.”

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