Affairs of state

One finely crafted electoral news item for every state (and territory) that is or might ever conceivably have been part of our great nation.

A bone for every dog in the federation kennel:

New South Wales

Gladys Berejiklian has backed a move for the Liberal Party to desist from endorsing or financially supporting candidates in local government elections, reportedly to distance the state government from adverse findings arising from Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations into a number of councils. Many in the party are displeased with the idea, including a source cited by Linda Silmalis of the Daily Telegraph, who predicted “world war three” because many MPs relied on councillors to organise their numbers at preselections.


The second biggest story in the politics of Victoria over the past fortnight has been the expose of the activities of Liberal Party operator Marcus Bastiaan by the Nine newspaper-and-television news complex, a neat counterpoint to its similar revelations involving Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek in June. The revelations have been embarrassing or worse for federal MPs Michael Sukkar and Kevin Andrews, with the former appearing to have directed the latter’s electorate office staff to spend work time on party factional activities.

Together with then state party president Michael Kroger, Bastiaan was instrumental in establishing a conservative ascendancy with help from Bastiaan’s recruitment of members from Mormon churches and the Indian community. Having installed ally Nick Demiris as campaign director, Bastiaan’s fingerprints were on the party’s stridently conservative campaign at the 2018 state election, which yielded the loss of 11 lower house Coalition seats. Religious conservatives led by Karina Okotel, now a federal party vice-president, then split from the Bastiaan network, complaining their numbers had been used to buttress more secular conservatives.

The Age’s report noted that “in the days leading up to the publication of this investigation, News Corporation mastheads have run stories attacking factional opponents of Mr Bastiaan and Mr Sukkar”. Presumably related to this was a report on Okotel’s own party activities in The Australian last weekend, which was long on emotive adjectives but short on tangible allegations of wrongdoing, beyond her having formed an alliance with factional moderates after the split.


There are now less than two months to go until the October 31 election, which is already awash with Clive Palmer’s trademark yellow advertising targeting Labor. Thanks the state’s commendable law requiring that donations be publicly disclosed within seven days (or 24 hours in the last week of an election campaign), as compared with over a year after the election at federal level (where only donations upwards of $14,000 need to be disclosed at all, compared with $1000 in Queensland), we are aware that Palmer’s companies have donated more than $80,000 to his United Australia Party. Liberal National Party sources cited by The Guardian say a preference deal has already been struck with Palmer’s outfit, although others in the party are said to be “furious” and “concerned” at the prospect of being tarred with Palmer’s brush.

Western Australia

I have nothing to relate here, which is worth noting in and itself, because the near total absence of voting intention polling from the state since Mark McGowan’s government came to power in 2017 is without modern historical precedent. This reflects the demise of the aggregated state polling that Newspoll used to provide on a quarterly basis in the smaller states (bi-monthly in the larger ones), and an apparent lack of interest in voting intention polling on behalf of the local monopoly newspaper, which offers only attitudinal polling from local market research outfit Painted Dog Research.

The one and only media poll of the term was this one from YouGov Galaxy in the Sunday Times in mid-2018, showing Labor with a lead of 54-46, slightly below the 55.5-44.5 blowout it recorded in 2017. With Newspoll having recorded Mark McGowan’s approval rating at 88% in late June, it can be stated with confidence that the gap would be quite a bit wider than that if a poll were conducted now. The West Australian reported in late July that Utting Research, which has conducted much of Labor’s internal polling over the years, had Labor leading 66-34, which would not sound too far-fetched to anyone in tune with the public mood at present. The next election is to be held on March 13.

South Australia

I have been delinquent in not covering the publication of the state’s draft redistribution a fortnight ago, but Ben Raue at The Tally Room has it covered here and here, complete with easily navigable maps.

These are the first boundaries drawn since the commissioners were liberated from the “fairness provision” which directed them to shoot for boundaries that would deliver a majority to the party with the largest two-party vote. This proved easier said than done, with three of Labor’s four election wins from 2002 and 2014 being achieved without it. The commissioners used the wriggle room allowed them in the legislation to essentially not even try in 2014, before bending other backwards to tilt the playing field to the Liberals in 2018, who duly won a modest majority from 51.9%.

By the Boundaries Commission’s own reckoning, there would have been no difference to the outcome of the 2018 election if it had held under the proposed new boundaries. Nonetheless, the Liberals have weakened in three seats where they are left with new margins of inside 1%: Elder, where their margin is slashed from 4.5% to 0.1%; Newland, down from 2.1% to 0.4%; and Adelaide, down from 1.1% to 0.7%. Their only notable compensation is an increase in their margin in King from 0.8% to 1.5%, and a cut in Labor’s margin in Badcoe from 5.6% to 2.0%.


Local pollster EMRS has published its quarterly state voting intention poll, which reflects Newspoll in finding voters to be over the moon with Premier Peter Gutwein, who came to the job just in time for COVID-19 to hit the fan when Will Hodgman retired in January. Over three polls, the Liberal vote has progressed from 43% to 52% to 54%; Labor has gone from 34% to 28% to 24%; and the Greens have gone from 12% to 10% and back again. Gutwein now leads Labor’s Rebecca White by 70% to 23% as preferred premier, out from 63-26 last time (and 41-39 to White on Gutwein’s debut in March). The poll was conducted by phone from August 18 to 24.

Northern Territory

With the last dregs of counting being conducted from now through Friday, fully our of the 25 seats in the Northern Territory remain in doubt following the election the Saturday before last, with current margins ranging from seven to 18 votes. However, the actual election result is well and truly done and dusted, with Labor having 13 seats in the bag. You can follow the action on my dedicated post, which includes live updating of results.

Australian Capital Territory

Not that I have anything particular to say about it at this point, but the Australian Capital Territory is the next cab off the election rank with polling day on October 17, a fortnight before Queensland.

New Zealand

Do Kiwi nationalists complain of being treated like the seventh state in Australia? Well, they can now, as I have a new Roy Morgan poll to relate ahead of their election which will, like that of the ACT, be held on October 17, with the originally anticipated date of September 19 being pushed back due to its recent COVID-19 flare-up. If this poll is any guide, this may have knocked a coat of paint off Labour without in any way endangering Jacinda Ardern’s government.

Labour is now at 48%, down from 53.5% last month, with National up two to 28.5%. The Greens are up from 8% to 11.5%, and do notably better out of this poll series than rivals Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, which show them struggling to keep their head above the 5% threshold that guarantees them seats in parliment under the country’s mixed-member proportional representation system. New Zealand First remain well below it at 2.5%, albeit that this is up a point on last month, while the free-market liberal ACT New Zealand party is clear of it on 6%, down half a point. The poll was conducted by phone from a sample of 897 “during August”.

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.

1,590 comments on “Affairs of state”

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  1. Well, GG there quite possibly could have been an Irish mercenary fighting in Tyrol or Northern Lombardy in the 17th Century who had his way with an ancestor, but apart from that, I don’t think I can claim that descent.

    Is it important?

  2. Danama Papers @ #1552 Friday, September 4th, 2020 – 9:38 pm

    C@tmomma @ #1532 Friday, September 4th, 2020 – 6:47 pm

    Nicholas on his other hobby horse, UBI, tonight. Something that has to be said no government will want to do in our lifetimes. That is, give money to people to ‘do nothing and live frugally’.

    This government is quite happy to give money to people to do nothing and live high off the hog, ie franking credits, handouts to maaates, sports rorts, etc.

    I could go into why that is okay with the general public and why giving it to people to do nothing is not, but I won’t because I am going to bed.

  3. Mavis says:
    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 6:39 pm


    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    [‘…Lawyer X, politicising the force and now this he has left quite a legacy from his time in the top job.’]

    Nicola Gobbo is a disgrace to the legal profession; who’d rat to the police or have confidence in the way justice is dispensed in Victoria henceforth? She failed her very basic duty of legal professional privilege albeit she was set up for it.

    To be fair they were killing each other at the time, I do wonder how many lives she saved.

  4. Fulvio Sammut @ #1555 Friday, September 4th, 2020 – 9:43 pm

    Well, GG there quite possibly could have been an Irish mercenary fighting in Tyrol or Northern Lombardy in the 17th Century who had his way with an ancestor, but apart from that, I don’t think I can claim that descent.

    Is it important?

    My alleged history is that I am related to the Kaiser from WW1.

    My family has been allegedly upsetting paradigms for many decades.

  5. I think a UBI should be seriously considered. I know it seems counter-intuitive to some, but like Nicholas, I don’t believe there would be a rush of people out of the workplace for a life of idleness.
    For one thing, most people would not want to subsist at the relatively low living standard a UBI would provide. For another, I believe most people, at least when they’re young, actually want to work at something; to participate in society and experience a career of some sort.
    A UBI would also take some pressure off people who’ve lost jobs and might also allow people the opportunity to pursue alternative careers.
    We should also remember that at no time in human history, except possibly during World War II, has any economy been able to provide everyone with a job. There is always going to be more people able to work than there are jobs for them to fill. This will be even more the case as computers continue to replace jobs done by humans.
    Allowing those with the least motivation to work to drop out and make way for those with more motivation would be better than constantly harassing people to look for work that doesn’t exist.

  6. What I outlined is not a UBI. A UBI goes to everyone, hence the word “universal”.

    I am saying that even with a Job Guarantee in place, and full employment, there would be a small number of people who would decline to do paid work. If those people don’t qualify for the Age Pension, DSP, Carer’s Payment, Sickness/Injury Payment etc., then offer them the option of a Basic Income that is set at half of the full-time minimum wage. Set the Age Pension and all the other social security payments at 100% of the full-time minimum wage.

    A small number of people would take the federal government up on that offer. The vast majority of people would choose to do paid work because they value the non-financial benefits of doing interesting and fulfilling paid work, and because they want more income that just half the full-time minimum wage.

    It wouldn’t be a burden for society to support the small number of unconventional people who choose to live very frugally and opt out of paid work even though they are capable of work and decent jobs are available.

    It is not a bad thing to have some unconventional people, free spirits, hippies etc. who grow some vegetables and are content with a low income. Those people do contribute to society and we should value them.

    We should promote freedom and choice wherever we can. And we should refute the false claim that a Job Guarantee would be coercive.

  7. C@tmomma
    Sorry but I cheered Melbourne Storm to win because I had an all up bet Knights into Storm.
    Head rules over heart at times.
    This comes from a very long term Dragons supporter.
    I share your pain.
    At least the Bunnies are in the finals mix.
    Happy days!

  8. Fulvio Sammut:

    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    [‘Mavis, I am genuinely pleased to hear your explanation, which I accept.

    To a large extent you are the author of that wrong perception, though, but enough of that.

    Let’s all move on.’]

    Thanks. I thought at the time it would be seen to be a parody of the legal profession which it was meant to be. That some took it literally is almost beyond my comprehension, though in hindsight I can understand why some were taken in. Misappropriation of monies by others followed my careers in both the RAN and the law. Just to provide a little background, the person who I replaced as supply officer pay in Russell Offices in the early-’80s stole upwards of $1M. He had a gambling problem & some heavies put the heavies on him. When I replaced him I was subjected to many uncertain audits, which really pissed me off, though I understood the reason thereof. And when I started to practice, my predecessor had knocked off a similar amount from his trust account, which led to regular visits from the Queensland Law Society, and many abusive calls & visits from angry clients, though all were eventually compensated. It’s due to these incidents that I made light of theft, misappropriation, though some will no doubt still see fit to think otherwise, which is a matter for them.

  9. I still don’t understand why there’s any important difference between a UBI and a government pension like Jobseeker but without the current over the top job seeking requirements.

    Why pay money to people who don’t need it in order to support those who do?

    I’m also not sure of the ethical grounds for accepting money from society whilst not wanting to contribute to it. So yes, if you’re a struggling artist or actor or author, or someone who is running a local sporting club as a volunteer, raising your kids, or spending a couple of days a week at the local school, or whatever, then you’re making a contribution and society acknowledging that is a nice gesture.

    If you’re sitting at home watching TV and ranting about The Man, then you’re choosing not to make any contribution to society and shouldn’t expect any contribution from it in return.

  10. ‘It is not a bad thing to have some unconventional people, free spirits, hippies etc. who grow some vegetables and are content with a low income. Those people do contribute to society and we should value them.’

    What contribution do they make?

    I do understand that there are some people who we should support because they can’t support themselves – which includes alcoholics and other drug addicts.

    I don’t understand why we should support people who are capable of making a contribution and don’t.

  11. “Hey, I’m a free spirit…give me money.”

    “I’ve thrown off the shackles of your capitalistic society…give me money.”

  12. I didn’t see your original post, only what were obviously subsequent posts, which appeared to suggest some involvement.
    I can see how some people (including myself) may have been confused.
    I said nothing. After all, it’s not the kind of subject you can ask direct questions about in the context of this site. Perhaps if I had, the air would have been cleared much sooner.

    I’ve been in the profession continuously for 48 years now, and I’ve heard and seen a few horror stories where partners, professional staff and accounts staff have sent honest hardworking lawyers to ruin, because they were too trusting and too busy doing their job to check on what their rogue colleagues were up to.

    Very few of us become bad apples, but when someone does, it adversely affects us all as a profession, not just the offender.

    Bon chance.

  13. zoomster
    “Hey, I’m a free spirit…give me money.”
    “I’ve thrown off the shackles of your capitalistic society…give me money.”
    Do you use all of our public facilities?
    “I don’t understand why we should support people who are capable of making a contribution and don’t.”
    My thoughts?
    You need to have a good look at yourself!

  14. ‘It is not a bad thing to have some unconventional people, free spirits, hippies etc. who grow some vegetables and are content with a low income. Those people do contribute to society and we should value them.’
    Of course they contribute to society. Often they are the most tolerable members of society. Did The Big Lebowski teach us nothing? But then again I am most sympathetic to the marginals in society, the dole bludgers, the shoplifters, the addicts. Often I think they are the sanest amongst us. They often see the absurdity of life and act accordingly.

  15. Nicholas:

    It is not a bad thing to have some unconventional people, free spirits, hippies etc. who grow some vegetables and are content with a low income. Those people do contribute to society and we should value them.

    I’m delighted to see something new here – a self-unravelling argument! (I mean this as a compliment)

    The people you describe are like those living in Kibbutzes—growing vegetables, living without money (and without Internet porn)—many more mainstream people would value the living of such a lifestyle as a contribution to society (as far as I know Kibbutzes still exist) and would have no problem with this being supported (not everyone who has been financially successful has the attitude of Mr Palmer)

    However, the support is not in terms of money, and indeed those who prefer such a lifestyle would not want it to be, because the whole lifestyle choice is principally defined by its opposition to money and the earning thereof. So, the state should support this, but with communal land and in-kind (healthcare and education), not with money.

  16. guytaur says:
    Friday, September 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm


    You are correct. However maybe that’s just what Labor needs to do.

    Payback for the LNP destroying Labor’s government for daring to pay attention to science.
    The lesson is you are the incumbent you own the chaos.
    A few weeks ago you argued to do what the states were doing was wrong and was ideological and now you are saying its science. 😉

  17. A UBI could be treated as taxable income then it would remove the stigma of money for nothing. The aged penson doesn’t need to be has high as the minimum wage because most retirees have lower cost of living and other income for that reason it would make more sense to set DSP to the minimum wage than the aged pension.

  18. Even SBS who do reasonable news sniped the bit about about Abbot[t]

    If only they’d sniped, instead of snipped.

    SBS are the only TV news service worth watching – but keep it under your hat.

  19. And he got the job:

    Meet former prime minister Tony Abbott, the dinosaur who ran Australia’s economy into a wall in just 23 months and whose record, you might think, best qualifies him for panto. Yet despite being flayed by repeated scandals as PM, he is about to be given one of the most important jobs in Britain: handling post-Brexit trade negotiations.

  20. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Another early edition!

    George Megalogenis writes that the primary lesson of the pandemic hasn’t changed: there can be no viable national economy until the virus is suppressed in every state and territory. He says Menzies would be rolling in his grave at Morrison’s failure to defend every job.
    David Crowe writes that state premiers split over the roadmap to reviving social and economic activity in a fundamental dispute over whether the peak group needed to reach a consensus on how to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
    The national consensus on coronavirus is over, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying no government had an “excuse” to maintain a border restriction with NSW. I see some very interesting definitional issues ahead!
    Paul Kelly pontificates that parochial premiers are pushing their states’ interests at the expense of Australia’s wellbeing.
    The wild west channels those old secessionist dreams by refusing to get on Scott Morrison’s COVID bus says Michelle Grattan.
    The rampaging virus could change us forever as a vaccine is not guaranteed warns Greg Sheridan in a reasonable contribution.
    The virus has provided cover for the government to avoid parliamentary scrutiny on aged care, universities, and the environment laments Laura Tingle who says policy is going in the wrong direction at the worst moment.
    In a very good contribution Sean Kelly says that to restore the nation’s fortunes, Morrison must not only appear humble, but he must also BE humble.
    Ross Gittins thinks we’re in for a long haul to get the economy working properly.
    Lives come before jobs, but the economy needs to restart urges the SMH editorial.
    Morrison is running a risk with the tapering of JobKeeper and the cutting of the JobSeeker unemployment benefit. The hardship being suffered by the unemployed and their families could be visited more on him than the virus. This is the dynamic that has seen governments historically fall in times of deep recession, writes Paul Bongiorno as he examines the long path out of the recession.
    Shane Wright explores the tough decisions ahead of governments as we try to climb out of the recession.
    And David Crowe says Morrison has to choose whether to force the economy open.
    The Saturday Paper’s Anna Krien explains how, from healthcare staff to cleaners, counsellors and childcare workers, the story of the coronavirus front line is one of anxiety, diligence and largely invisible labour.
    Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn says the economy faces its biggest test next year when taxpayer-funded income support measures are removed as he called for ongoing stimulus measures and predicted a long and uneven recovery.
    Victoria’s stubborn tail of coronavirus cases should not prevent Premier Daniel Andrews considering reopening the state after next weekend, a number of leading epidemiologists have said, because it was largely healthcare and aged care workers now getting sick.
    Crowe tells us about the latest wish list from business bodies.
    While the members of the senate’s coronavirus watchdog are working well across party lines, its chair, Labor senator Katy Gallagher, says the government is delaying and obfuscating to avoid scrutiny says Paddy Manning.
    Parliamentary Question Time has become an example of Australia’s political failures, made worse by a compliant mainstream media, writes Grant Turner. He’s not wrong!,14276
    The federal government may be undermining its own efforts to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading in aged-care homes by only paying some workers in the sector to relinquish second jobs, while others can claim bonuses from multiple employers. A third group is receiving no extra support at all writes Karen Middleton.
    The reason Australia doesn’t have a death tax – when almost every other developed nation does – can be traced back 40 years to a fear that old people would move to the Gold Coast to avoid paying one. On such absurd grounds, Australia has forfeited hundreds of billions of dollars and inequality has deepened explains James Boyce.
    Environmental groups and scientists have warned that ending buybacks of water in the Murray-Darling basin will be a disaster for the river and will deprive the government of its most effective way of retrieving water, writes Anne Davies.
    Adele Ferguson, who has been on this story for ages, tells us that he scandal-ridden icare was in turmoil yesterday as it scrambled to announce the sudden departure of its second most senior executive. She wants to know how many more people need to start screaming before real change happens.
    Julie Power reports that the NSW pricing regulator is recommending all cemeteries should offer affordable burial plots. IMHO the whole funeral industry is a rip off.
    Jenna Price asks who should pick our Australia Day honourees.
    The British government has defied a growing backlash over plans to appoint Tony Abbott as a trade adviser by formally approving the former Australian prime minister’s new position. They can HAVE him!
    Van Badham tells the Brits that if Tony Abbott is your solution, they’ve got big problems.
    And Amanda Meade looks at Sky After Dark’s take on the Abbott appointment.
    A key recommendation of the Productivity Commission was for a Best in Show list of super funds that represented great value. The sector hated the idea because it threatened their gravy train. MPs duly fell into line and instead last week passed legislation that, on its own, could worsen the problem of fund underperformance. Harry Chemay investigates.
    In another thoughtful contribution from Julia Baird she wonders if the Falwells’ fall from grace will hurt Trump’s evangelical vote.
    The Trump administration has raised concerns with Australia’s competition regulator about proposed legislation that would force powerful US tech companies Google and Facebook to pay publishers for news. Morrison should tell them to f**k off!
    The ACCC thought it was leading the world in pushing major reforms – but the result might harm journalism explains Mike Seccombe.
    US deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute has forecast.
    The Washington Post’s Tim Craig writes that a report from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project finds the US is in crisis but of thousands of protests, most are not violent.
    Idiot Trump has been condemned for reportedly calling US war dead ‘suckers’. Maybe they had bone spurs.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Pope

    Alan Moir

    Mark Knight

    Andrew Dyson

    Matt Golding

    Jon Kudelka

    A gif from Glen Le Lievre
    Johannes Leak

    Joe Benke

    Jim Pavlidis

    John Shakespeare

    Simon Letch on Falwell’s voyeurism

    Matt Davidson

    From the US

  21. Thanks BK for the Dawn Patrol.

    I haven’t had a look at the Canberra Times for a while –
    this looks like the “Pope” – he’s a very good artist.

    P.S. I trust that you are as well (if not better) than can be expected this morning. My recommendations – ☕☕

  22. “Hey, I’m a free spirit…give me money.”

    “I’ve thrown off the shackles of your capitalistic society…give me money.”


    Why should people be forced to slave away in a system that is designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many? Why are the most vulnerable in society always the targets, rather than all the huge corporations who refuse to pay their fair share of tax? Capitalism has failed all but the rich elite. So yes, since the establishment imposes their failed and structurally unfair system upon people against their will, it is their responsibility to ensure that everyone who lives under their system has a decent quality of life. UBIs are just common sense, especially as we continue to move into a world where more and more jobs are being done by machines and AI.

  23. We live in strange political times…Great White Father, Leader of the Nation, Defeater of the Usurper Shorten, has had plenty of bouquets for seeming to cope with CV19. On the other hand he cannot seem to convince more than 40+% of the electorate to give their primary vote to his party and his hay seed mates, the Nationals.
    Meanwhile, seemingly colourless, lack-lustre Mark McGowan – has become Mr Stern, don’t mess with me. He has forced GWF to capitulate on WA border closures……The West newspaper, in its pathetic way, has sought to put the decision yesterday as a win for both Morrison and McGowan………….just plain wrong….Late yesterday, I heard the jocks on 6PR bemoan the ‘Morrison has given in………………”

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