What the papers say

Random notes on coronavirus and opinion poll response rates, election postponements and a call to give counting of pre-poll votes a head start on election night.

No Newspoll this week it seems – which is unfortunate, because a report in New York Times ($) suggests coronavirus lockdowns are doing wonders for opinion poll response rates:

Even in online surveys, pollsters have also seen an increase in participation over the past few weeks. At the Pew Research Center, which does most of its polling through the online American Trends Panel, many respondents filled in a voluntary-comments box in a recent survey with expressions of gratitude.

It is inferred that “a wider variety of people are willing to tell pollsters what they think, so it’s more likely that a poll’s respondents will come closer to reflecting the makeup of the general population.”

Coronavirus is rather less conducive to the staging of actual elections, the latest casualty being the May 30 date that was set for Tasmania’s Legislative Council seats of Huon Rosevears, which was itself a postponement from the traditional first Saturday of the month. The government has now invoked a recently legislated power to set the date for a yet-to-be-determined Saturday in June, July and August. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has expressed the view that a fully postal election, as some were advocating, did not count as an election under the state’s existing Electoral Act.

Tasmania and other jurisdictions with elections looming on their calendars might perhaps look to South Korea, which proceeded with its legislative elections on Wednesday. As reported in The Economist ($):

All voters will have their temperature taken before entering their polling station (those found to have fever or other symptoms will be directed to a separate polling booth). They will also have to wear a face mask, sanitise their hands and put on vinyl gloves before picking up a ballot paper and entering the booth. Election stewards will ensure people keep away from each other while queueing and voting. Door knobs, pencils and ballot boxes will be sterilised often.

Other than that, I can offer the following in the way of recommended reading: Antony Green’s post calling for pre-poll votes to be counted under wraps on election day starting from 2pm. This would address issues arising from the huge imbalance between election day booths, only one of which processed more than 4000 votes at the May 2019 federal election, and the three weeks’ accumulation of votes cast at pre-poll booths, of which 901 cleared 4000 votes, including 208 that went above 10,000 and ten with more than 20,000 (UPDATE: Make that 370 of more than 4000 and 208 of more than 10,000 – turns out the numbers in the table are cumulative). The result is that the largest pre-poll booths are not reporting until very late at night, many hours after the last trickles of election booths runs dry.

This has sometimes caused election counts to take on different complexions at the end of the evening — to some extent at the Victorian state election in November 2018, which ended a little less catastrophic for the Liberals than the election day results suggested, and certainly at the Wentworth by-election the previous month, when Liberal candidate Dave Sharma briefly rose from the dead in his struggle with the ultimately victorious Kerryn Phelps. It is noted that pre-poll votes in New Zealand are counted throughout election day itself, which is made practical by a ban on any election campaigning on the day itself, freeing up party volunteers for scrutineering who in Australia would be staffing polling booths.

Antony also argues against reducing the pre-poll period from three weeks to two, for which there has been quite a broad push since last year’s election, as it will lead to greater demand for the less secure option of postal voting, stimulated by the efforts of the political parties.

Also note my extensive post below on recent events in Wisconsin – you are encouraged to use that thread if you have something to offer specifically on American politics.

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.

769 comments on “What the papers say”

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  1. Judas Morrison is on a roll. Virgin, next cab off the rank?
    Disaster follows this bloke around.
    ‘Cause I’m going down in history
    Hey, yeah, whoa-ho, I’m on a roll
    Ridin’ so high, achieving my goals
    Hey, yeah, whoa-ho, I’m on a roll
    Ridin’ so high, achieving my goals
    I’m stoked on ambition and verve
    I’m gonna get what I deserve
    So full of ambition and verve
    I’m gonna get what I deserve
    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Trent Reznor
    On a Roll lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

  2. William Bowe says:
    Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7:01 pm
    So Andrew Bolt has a track record of supporting paedos-politicians, priests – still Murdoch gives him a megaphone in the RWNJ firmament.
    I’d leave that argument well alone if I were a Labor partisan.


    Are you suggesting that Murdoch provides a megaphone for paedo-politicians and priests in the LWNJ firmament?

  3. Someone correct me if wrong but from recollection if you buy 20% or more of an entity listed on the ASX then you have to launch a takeover bid – pretty sure that no government wants to do that right now.

  4. Though on the SK thing

    Ketan Joshi
    One important thing to watch here is what happens to the seven new coal-fired power stations the country has planned

  5. imacca says:
    Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7:30 pm
    “Now would be a time for all those Industry Funds to put their Union Money where their mouth is and buy an airline. ”

    Spend peoples super money on buying a business that habitually makes a loss?? buce…you are an idiot.


    Do the Industry Funds have union money? I thought they just had the money of superannuation contributors, being individuals in the workforce and that unions had union money. Who knew?

  6. Of course Bolt has his own group of Labor people he is close to. Bill Shorten, Andrew Landeryou and his favorite guest ever:

  7. BK,

    Ansett were great on Domestic when they had the ADF contract – upgrades for everyone! and the Cabin Staff were so very attentive.

  8. imaccasays:
    Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7:30 pm
    ““Now would be a time for all those Industry Funds to put their Union Money where their mouth is and buy an airline. ”

    Spend peoples super money on buying a business that habitually makes a loss?? buce…you are an idiot.”

    It appears we are in complete agreement. you obviously don’t do irony.

  9. “ But your efforts to downplay his involvement in the ALP as ‘handing our HTVs’ is spin quite in the tradition of the ANIMALS! ”

    Ill take that as a complement, but the truth is that my ignorance was due to me giving zero fucks about how Blot spent his youth …

    Here’s a far more interesting fun fact: Tony Abbott’s favourite trans person (until they had a bust up of sorts, I think I recall), Catherine was originally Malcolm McGreggor and a ‘made man’ of the NSW Right …

  10. BB:

    They are only in discovery mode when you are on the Bluetooth settings page trying to pair to another device. Once two Bluetooth devices have gone through the pairing process (e.g. car stereo and phone), they can discover each other without needing discovery mode.

    In my experience Bluetooth devices don’t have to pair with each other simply to know that each other exist. they onl;y have to do that when trying to share information.

    Of course they don’t need to be paired to know they exist – if they did it would lead to a impossible situation where they needed to be paired to know they exist but couldn’t pair since they couldn’t know each other exists

    You are correct that only paired devices can share information.

    However there are three cases:
    – paired with given other devices – can exchange information with devices
    – discoverable – can be discovered (and “pinged”) by devices with which it is not paired; can pair with discoverable devices
    – non discoverable – cannot be discovered by devices with which it is not paired; can be pinged by and share Information with devices with which it is paired.

    If the only information being “shared” is that the other was close enough to ping the world, and that your phone was close enough to receive that ping, with or without confirming passwords, then that is enough to establish proximity.

    The “pinged” device in this case is discoverable (but not paired) it’s not nondiscoverable. Most devices are permanently discoverable, phones can be locked to being discoverable but typically aren’t.

    There are tools (one of which is called ”redfang”) that can discover devices in non discoverable mode.. These take a few seconds if one knows the address of the device. Can also be used in a search to find arbitrary devices, but the effective search range is 2^24 addresses after some tricks are applied (otherwise 2^48). Someone built a scanner with 79 Bluetooth radios and it can find arbitrary non-discoverable devices in about a day.

    The aim of the app is not to get the phones exchanging data. Just for them to acknowledge each other’s existence.And that can only be done if the two phones are within infection range.

    Only if the other device is discoverable. Even then one needs to know the ID of the other phone (could use the address, but that is traceable back to the owner).

    TraceTogether/BlueTrace doesn’t work like this. It requires both phones to be running the app, and the app to be in the foreground (making the phones discoverable). Also they appear to exchange TempIDs, which would seem to imply temporary pairing…

    It’s a dud.

  11. OK AE. I will accept that your HTV comment was just made up on the spot bullshit rather than any attempt at spin. Fair enuff.

  12. lizzie @ #512 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 5:58 pm

    Early predictions of 60,000 coronavirus deaths panicked our politicians into imposing extreme bans, several of which are now clearly way over the top, writes Andrew Bolt.

    In fact if we had completely closed our borders at the first hint of the virus, we might have escaped the deaths that have resulted from the cruise ships and some plane flights.

    Surely he just does that as clickbait. No one could be that stupid and breathe on their own.

  13. Bolt is a nobody trying to be a somebody.
    Turnbull is a somebody who, despite his best efforts, is making a successful transition into a nobody.

  14. For fuck’s EGT, you are a negative person.

    The best programmers (probably in the world) are working on this, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: the health and economy of an entire nation.

    And all you have to say is, “It’s a dud”. This is based on what?

    “This requires both phones to be running the ap”

    Which is EXACTLY the aim of the app and the public relations campaign in favour of it.

    My prediction is that the app will romp home in a canter, with major uptake, while old hippies like yourself will still be hiding in their bathroom, feverishly washing their hands, wondering who they’ve been standing next to in the supermarket today, mumbling under their breaths about ScoMo’s police state.

  15. The objective in relation to both QANTAS and Virgin should be to try to use the Virus and kill both off. Never waste a crisis.

    99% of air travel is unnecessary.

    The aviation industry is decades away from being carbon neutral.

    Instead of doing the sensible thing, governments have put $115 million plus $715 million plus $200 million on the table. This is to support a thoroughly destructive and unnecessary industry at a time when air travel has fallen by 97%. Ridiculous policy making on the fly.

    One of the incidental benefits of the Virus is that many businesses and individuals have grown used to using digital comms effectively.

  16. EGT:

    Re. your post last night, I do think that lawyers are more pompous than doctors. But that is, of course, a sweeping generalisation.


    I feel a little sorry for Trump. Until the advent of C-19, the US economy was going gangbusters, the stock market bullish, unemployment relatively low. Granted, he’s the most uncouth president ever, but folks would have forgiven him if they had a job. Now, though, one in seven of the US workforce has applied for benefits; for most, the first time in their life. Trump knows that his chance of re-election is finely tuned to the state of the economy, that’s why he’s calling for restrictions to be lifted, even going to the extent of impliedly promoting insurrection, placing the responsibility back on the governors, after declaring he’s numero uno. I think he’s stuffed by an agent that can only be seen under an electron microscope.

  17. Turnbull. A foreign national operating a foreign company to overthrow the sitting Australian Prime Minister.

    The right wing of the LNP operating like terrorists with bullying and intimidation

  18. Henry

    Rudd and Turnbull agree about Murdoch. I think we can believe both of them about his role.

    That’s like saying Trump is Putin’s puppet.

  19. If Virgin does go, there will be another player entry the market. Australia is too big for a airline monopoly and nature abhors a vacuum.

    PS. Vacuum is one my favourite words because it has a double U.

  20. I think Turnbull has a doppelganger.

    One is brave and forthright with a great mind, a clear foresight and surpassing social conscience.

    The other is a politically tin-eared gutless wonder who couldn’t bring himself to stick up for his own values if they up and bit him on the arse.

  21. It’s a dud.

    Entirely possible. I was thinking that the Apple/Google collaboration is probably what will need to happen to make it feasible as you’d need to have some fairly deep control over the OS to fine tune phone behaviour without the normal use-case restrictions for apps. That Apple/Google work should probably make the current app work irrelevant. That would add a few months.

    We’ll see, I guess.

  22. I agree with Rudd there should be a Royal Commission into Murdoch.

    It should have been started the day after the Leveson Inquiry ended.

  23. WTI oil is in free fall at moment. It is down 26% so far today to $13.50 a barrel. Basically the markets got excited about 10% cut from OPEC forgetting that the world is needing about 25% less oil at the moment. The world will run out of oil storage within weeks at this rate. Then the price will be close to zero.

  24. Mexicanbeemer @ #168 Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 4:58 pm

    The planes are mortgaged.

    This is what i was nervous off, get the existing investors to cover part or all of those mortgages then the government would be more secure in offering financial support to the airline.

    Most planes are leased, rather than mortgaged. Virgin plane lease costs for 2020 are around $380 million for the year, which would imply an initial cost of the planes of around $3.6 billion. Their loans secured by aircraft (ie mortgages) are around $1.6 billion, of which $620 million are denominated in US dollars, very nasty considering the exchange rate nosedive.

    The leased planes are owned by the lessors. In the event that Virgin doesn’t pay its lease instalments they will cease to be able to use the planes, but it is the lessor that gets stuck with them. They will have to get in line with other creditors to be paid outstanding lease instalments, and the residuals due at the end of the lease term.

    The lessors are basically stuffed. They get to repossess a bunch of planes that have no effective resale value for at least a couple of years, and will have to store them.

    Of interest, maybe, is the fact that Rupert Murdoch was heavily into leasing planes, via a seriously messy arrangement with Ansett Airlines and others, in the early 90’s. After a near death experience in 1990, which Newscorp barely survived, the company nearly went under again when the worldwide aviation sector went into a tailspin in 1992/93. I got involved in building a model to work out the ‘real’ rates of return accruing to the various participants in leveraged leases. A nightmare. Interest rates were about 8.5%, inflation dropping rapidly from about 3.5% to almost zero, and corporate tax rates were 39%. Top personal rate was 47%. Those providing the ‘principal’ in these transactions were being right royally screwed.

  25. B.S.F.

    Yep. I thought that the Saudis and the Russians showed a remarkable lack of insight when they started doing oil biffo a couple of months ago.

    I believe that at $13.50 there is only one producer in the world that can make a couple of bucks a bbl: the Saudis. Every other oil producer in the world is under water.

  26. guytaur:

    [‘I agree with Rudd there should be a Royal Commission into Murdoch.’]

    He’d be dead before its completion but it might scare his devoted successor?

  27. One of the incidental benefits of the Virus is that many businesses and individuals have grown used to using digital comms effectively.

    Shame it hasnt forced parliament to do the same. Set up MPs in their local libraries and do all parliament by zoom.

    As for flights, they are so culturally tied to the image of success that it will be hard to pull that back. I felt it back when I was travelling a lot for work. Doing the regular flights, lounges, upgrades, points, etc. Then, when I got a grip and grew up a little and stopped travelling, I watched execs proudly striding, chest puffed, out of the office into lifts to catch a plane to an insignificant conference (that they should have been sending a technical person on) or an exec team building exercise or meetings they could be doing on a phone or whatever, weakly complaining about having to spend more time away from family…. yadda yadda. I realised how much of it is just glorified fluffing. It was status.


  28. Bucephalus:


    .buce…you are an idiot.”

    It appears we are in complete agreement. [elisions]

    Don’t be so hard on yourself!

    (Brought to you by Selective Elisions ‘R’ Us!)

  29. Yeah, nah. liberals love love love a private monopoly. Apparently that’s fre enterprise at its finest.

    Next they’ll likely privatise The RAAF and on sell it to Qantas before allowing it all to fall into foreign ownership.

  30. I’m loving this interview with Turnbull..

    He minces no words about the evil that is Murdoch and the sheer insanity of the right wing of his party.

  31. Bushfire

    I’m waiting for her to put Turnbull on the spot about wasting $50 billion on a temporary network and does he now regret doing so.

    Probably not going to happen.

  32. It is not even going to be case of making a profit, to close a well actually costs money, so often producers will produce at a loss for some time in the hope of prices going back up. So it is going to be a case of nowhere to put the oil.

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