Beware the Ides of March (or May)

Odds shorten on a May federal election; Morrison threatens a nuclear option for preselections in New South Wales; plus news on state by-elections, actual or potential.

Yesterday’s tabling of a proposed parliamentary schedule for new year resulted in another spin of the election date speculation wheel, the consensus being that it will be held on either May 7 and 14. The government has, as they say, pencilled in March 29 as the date for the budget, although “sources close to Mr Morrison” tell The Australian he may make use of his eraser if his polling improves over summer, such that March is “still a live option” for the election. That would presumably lead to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall exercising his option to delay the March 19 state election by up to three weeks in the event of a March federal election, a matter Scott Morrison denies having discussed with him.

Other election news, federal and state:

• Scott Morrison told the Liberal federal executive he was considering asking it to exercise powers to override state divisions in preselections to impose his preferred candidates in key New South Wales seats, including state MPs Andrew Constance in Gilmore and Melanie Gibbons in Hughes (Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports state Police Minister David Elliott is resisting entreaties to run in Greenway). Such a move would be “seen as a declaration of war by key members of the NSW state division”, specifically its conservatives and moderates.

Sarah Martin of The Guardian reports Natalie Baini, who until recently was a cultural diversity manager at the Australian Football League, has withdrawn her preselection challenge against Liberal MP Fiona Martin in Reid and will instead run as an independent, complaining the party had failed to act on her complaint against “inappropriate conduct of some senior members of the party and the government”.

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Labor will yield to the insistence of local party branches and field a candidate in John Barilaro’s seat of Monaro, despite Labor leader Chris Minns rating it an “impossible task”.

John Ferguson of The Australian reported last week on “intense speculation” that a Victorian state by-election could be on the cards in Kew, whose embattled Liberal member, Tim Smith, had been “linked with potential job prospects in Britain, where he once lived”. Sunday Herald Sun columnist “Backroom Baz” rates that Smith will linger until the election if the preselection goes to his ally David Davis, the Shadow Treasurer and Opposition Leader in the Legislative Council, but would be disposed to inflict the by-election on the party if it instead goes to Jess Wilson, a former staffer to Josh Frydenberg and current policy director at the Business Council of Australia. Also in the field are Lucas Moon, former soldier and commercial manager of construction company Winslow, who has been endorsed by Tim Costello; Monica Clark, a family lawyer; Felicity Sinfield, a police officer and Boroondara councillor; and Michael Sabljak, a former electorate officer to federal MP Michael Sukkar.

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.

976 comments on “Beware the Ides of March (or May)”

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  1. Omicron as our COVID saviour?

    “Could the emergence of Omicron, possibly a more infectious, less virulent variant of coronavirus, be a good thing for public health? Some of our leading infectious disease experts, while stressing it is too early to make a call, are daring to hope.

    Since the start of the pandemic, epidemiologists have thought this might be our way out, that the virus could eventually mutate into a more benign form that continues to spread but kills fewer people and sends fewer of us to hospital.”

  2. I was only thinking the other day that JBishop hadn’t been seen nor heard throughout the diplomatic scandal with France, but she’s popped up now and is speaking out.

    “The manner in which it came about is now rather unfortunate because it appears we have really alienated a very strong partner and friend in France,” Ms Bishop told her former colleague Christopher Pyne on his podcast Pyne Time.

    “I’m quite distressed about it because diplomacy seems to be missing in action.

    “Australia is renowned for its diplomacy. We, I believe, conduct ourselves exceedingly well on the world stage and we have a very keen eye to maintaining relationships.

    “In this instance, I am quite distressed that France feels it can’t trust Australia, and President Macron has said some very harsh things about the Prime Minister.”

  3. pukka says:
    Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 6:49 am
    Lib quits preselection to run as indi in Reid.
    Unless she can co-opt the Voices movement, or has a very high community profile in Reid, her run as an independent is unlikely to bring much joy. Might achieve payback against the Libs though, and on an optimistic scenario, channel preferences to the ALP.

  4. RN reporting that a modified Vic Pandemic bill has secured cross bench support, with Rod Barton of Transport Matters signing up after requiring stronger controls. In my opinion this is an example (relatively uncommon it has to be said) where an independent legislator can make a positive difference. The new legislation will have stronger human rights protections and provide for greater scrutiny than either the original Andrews bill, or the version that had been negotiated by the 3 Andrews-sympathetic crossbenchers, before Somyurek crashed the party (pun intended) – again.

    Independents can be a mixed bag, and the Victorian Group Ticket Voting system that enabled the current clutch of micro parties (including 2 Liberal Democrats) to be there is an abomination. On this occasion the presence of independents has produced a better outcome, in my opinion.

  5. A reminder to Victorian bludgers that 90% of eligible people double dosed means 23% of Victorians not vaccinated

    population 6.6 million
    guess of kids under 12, 15% ie 990,900
    adults population 6,600,000 – 990,900 = 5609100
    10% adults unvaccinated = 560091
    total unvaccinated Victorians is 560091 +990900 = 1550990
    % unvaccinated Victorians is 1551K / 6.6 m = .2349 or 23%

  6. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Paul Karp has the scoop and tells us that a report by the privileges committee following an investigation into Christian Porter’s disclosure that he’d received funds from the “Legal Services Trust” calls for the rules to be changed to uphold the “intent and integrity” of the register of interests.
    According to Paul Bongiorno, the signs are the Morrison government is decaying before our eyes. A very good read.
    Scott Morrison’s personality and style has infected the whole government — he sclerosis and the lack of flexibility on general positions is now built-in, writes Jack Waterford who tells us how Scott Morrison is trashing the Liberal brand.
    In spite of the Liberal party’s small-government rhetoric, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is running the most expensive government in recent memory with departmental expenses outstripping both tax revenue and Australia’s GDP; and dwarfing Labor government. Callum Foote investigates.
    Julie Bishop has urged Australia and France to fully disclose what they told each other about the dumped submarine contract, saying Canberra’s diplomacy had been “missing in action”, writes Anthony Galloway. She said Australia “really alienated a very strong partner and friend in France” and it needed to be doing everything in its power to repair the relationship.
    The AFR’s editorial says that Australia’s security would be better served by a defence minister who spoke more softly and carried a bigger stick – and a foreign minister who spoke about our strategic challenges.
    Last week Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton competed to confirm the conclusion previously reached by Paul Keating, Max Suich et al: Domestic political purposes are running our China policy, opines Michael Pascoe.
    Alan Kohler agrees that China fits the domestic political need for an enemy.
    Katherine Murphy tells us that the Australian Human Rights Commission has agreed to brief the former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins before it hands over the much-anticipated review into whether parliament house has a toxic workplace culture to the Morrison government. I wonder when the government will see fit to release the report to parliament.
    Scott Morrison’s transactional government seems merely to want to return to the rut of slow economic growth with no ideas for the future, writes Craig Emerson who wonders where Morrison’s ambition for Australia is.
    Strict lockdowns to stop the spread of the Delta strain of COVID-19 may have hit the economy harder than expected, fuelling fears the recovery from the pandemic could be derailed by the new Omicron variant, explain Shane Wright and Jennifer Duke.
    When reflecting on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s statements in Federal Parliament last week, one could be forgiven for thinking he does not want the Coalition to win the forthcoming election, writes Colleen Lewis.
    Independent politicians, particularly women, are becoming a strong voice against the ineptitude of our Federal Government, writes Professor Kerryn Phelps.,15799
    Sarah Martin reports that a high-profile NSW Liberal woman is quitting to run as an independent at the next federal election, partly to protest the handling of an internal complaint in which she alleged “inappropriate” behaviour by some senior men within the party and government.
    Cara Waters reports that the head of the Accountability Round Table is concerned the federal government is putting its political benefit over the merits of building commuter car parks and is issuing “implied threats” on funding. Ouch!
    Peter van Onselen looks at the potential leadership contenders for both sides post-election.
    Royce Millar explains the origin and content of the religious discrimination bill.
    Kaye Lee begins this Contribution with, “ScottyfromMarketing is doing the media rounds to assure us that political games will not distract his laser-like focus from dealing with the very serious issues facing this nation. Like voter fraud. And the ABC. And protecting the rights of religious people to be selectively nasty.”
    Paramedics who drove a year-long human rights inquiry after they blew the whistle on workplace bullying at Ambulance Victoria say the fearmongering and bastardisation they still face was so bad that some have thought of suicide, writes Wendy Touhy.
    Lucy Cormack reports that the NSW Ombudsman has found the state’s debt-collection agency unlawfully used an automated system to claw back unpaid fines from financially vulnerable people, in some cases emptying bank accounts and leaving them unable to buy food or pay rent. Nice.
    Adele Ferguson provides us with yet another horror story from the cosmetic surgery industry.
    Tony Wright asks, “Does a calendar mean anything in PM Morrison’s world?”
    The Australian share market was bracing for the worst as fears of the latest COVID-19 strain – Omicron- gathered pace. But traders haven’t let their anxieties get the better of them, yet, says Elizabeth Knight.
    The federal government has been ranked last behind all Australia’s states and the Northern Territory in the move toward clean energy, with a new report showing Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia are leading the transition to renewables, explains Lisa Cox. This is hardly surprising!
    Meanwhile, Peter Hannam reports that Tesla, Snowy Hydro and other big suppliers of storage capacity on Australia’s main electricity grid warn proposed rule changes amount to a tax on their operations that will deter investors and slow the decarbonisation of the industry.
    A taxpayer-funded community legal centre model could be used by the federal government to back defamation actions launched by private citizens under proposed anti-trolling laws to be released this week.
    Clancy Yeates reports that banks will be required to set aside more capital for higher risk interest-only and investor mortgages, under long-planned changes to regulation that are aimed at making the sector more resilient to future shocks.
    “The economy is getting back to normal? We don’t even know what that looks like any more”, writes Greg Jericho.
    Greg Baum writes about the Tim Paine issue with eminent sense.
    Nick McKenzie and Lucy Cormack report that a NSW police blitz on money laundering through poker machines has identified more than $5.5 million in suspicious transactions in the past six weeks alone as the state emerges from lockdown.
    Legislation scheduled to be debated in federal parliament this week would shield Australia’s Future Fund from freedom of information requests such as the one that revealed the sovereign wealth fund is investing in weapons manufacturers that sell arms to the Myanmar military.
    Johnson insulting France over Channel crossings will only make things worse, writes Simon Jenkins.
    Good and persistent policing resulted in this guy being nabbed for a string of rapes fifteen years ago and earned him nomination for “Arsehole of the Year”.
    The Adelaide bubble tea bar where two women were assaulted after one complained to her boss about unpaid wages has gone into liquidation allegedly owing $186,000 to 20 workers. They were previous nominees for “Arsehole of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Pope

    Andrew Dyson

    John Shakespeare

    Matt Golding

    Cathy Wilcox

    David Rowe

    Warren Brown

    Peter Broelman

    Glen Le Lievre

    Mark Knight

    John Spooner

    From the US

  7. Rod Barton seems like a very sensible individual. I’m glad that an adult government, prepared to negotiate in good faith, was in charge.

    ps Prepare for outraged, ginned up Freedumb Marchers to react negatively. This includes Peta Credlin and Craig Kelly. 🙂

  8. C@t

    The negotiations over the Pandemic Bill seem to have ended with more power to the Vic Opp when making decisions. Considering their completely negative attitude over restrictions I’m not sure that this is a good outcome.

  9. Lizzie

    These are the amendments to the pandemic bill.

    Bridget Rollason
    6. Remove the aggravated offence clause

    Show this thread

    Bridget Rollason
    5. Clarify that complaints about detention can be made to the Ombudsman and clarify parliament or committee can refer a matter to the Ombudsman for investigation.
    Show this thread

    Bridget Rollason
    4. Provide a new detention appeal panel for detention orders to replace the current Detention Review Officer Panel.
    Show this thread

    Bridget Rollason
    3. Commence 2 year review within 18 months of commencement of the pandemic declaration and for that review to be carried out by independent people with legal and health expertise.
    Show this thread

    Bridget Rollason
    2. – Enable Parliament to disallow pandemic orders by an absolute majority in a joint sitting of both Houses, if a recommendation is made by the Oversight committee and after consultation with the Independent Pandemic Management Advisory Committee.
    Show this thread

    Bridget Rollason
    The Vic Gov has agreed to 6 amendments after securing vote on its pandemic bill from
    they include
    1.Establish a cross-parliamentary committee ASAP after a declaration is made. The committee will have the power to recommend disallowance of pandemic orders.

  10. Virginia Trioli interviewed this MP yesterday. He did not give me any confidence. Not surprised he is not going to vote for the bill.

    Bridget Rollason
    After all the negotiations with the other key crossbencher the government was focused on
    , the Sustainable Australia Party MP says he’s not happy with the amendments and will vote against the bill

  11. Shout out to


    Have you heard anything through the grapevine about the high country murders?

    I’m hearing that there are other unsolved missing persons from the area and
    Suggestion is that they could be connected insofar as the killer is concerned.

  12. Can’t say I am surprised.

    Patrick Murrell
    Liberal MP Bernie Finn says he’s received no instruction from OL
    not to attend protests. Won’t be going this Saturday but won’t rule out going to any future demonstrations.

  13. Bushfire Bill @ #2116 Monday, November 29th, 2021 – 10:04 pm

    Makes you realize just how dumb Labor thinks the voters are, doesn’t it? Or is it just their own supporters that they think are that dumb?

    Says the apparently dumb P1, who assured us last night she voted Labor.

    P1 is an outright liar, so mixed up about her own fairy stories she can’t even keep one of her bullshit yarns going for 24 hours.

    As usual, you just make stuff up whenever you get caught out.

    I said, as I have said many times here, that I voted Labor in the last election. Because that’s what you asked, remember?

    I haven’t decided who to vote for in this election, because we don’t even know who the candidates are yet. I realize that might be hard to understand by those who blindly vote for a party without even bothering to find out what their policies are.

    Clear enough for you?

  14. The Bonge:

    It’s not surprising as the Coalition is about to enter its ninth year in office, three prime ministers later and after the resignation of some of its most competent ministers over that period, the Morrison government is tired, and it is running scared.

    I do not make this claim lightly.

  15. “Cat”, in response.

    I note that a contributor has provided an answer to your question of me and that answer has validity.

    I will frame my response in a different format, drawing on my life.

    I was born, educated and commenced my working life in the City of Churches.

    The exception to residing in Adelaide was 2 years Conscripted to National Service.

    In my mid 30’s I left the City of my birth for improved employment opportunity (same vocation).

    I fathered children later in my life.

    I put Application to the Family Court of Australia when my children were still young, and I was successful in that Application.

    My employer’s were not supportive of my life decision so I resigned, at under 50 years of age (and seeing my former employees at Court, successfully).

    I have not been employed since, ex some consultancy work where the circumstances suited me (and sometimes minus remuneration as the circumstances of others dictated).

    I re-married, and with my wife have raised 5 children.

    And there are now young Grand-children who are the delight of our lives.

    I look at the Adelaide of my younger days, Kelvinator, Simpsons, Pope, Lightburn, GMH, Chrysler, Fauldings, Sola Optical et al.

    The list went on and on.

    So what happened to those employed in manufacture in Adelaide?

    I look to those 2 years of National Service, that over 200 were killed in Vietnam and numerous others (including some I still know) suffering mentally and physically, reliant on pension support from government.

    I look at my friends no longer with us.

    And I look at those still with us, some occupying the most senior positions across industry and commerce.

    The gist is that you do not get to choose in life, as this virus of unknown source has confirmed, people across the World now dead and others suffering the after effects.

    What you do do is persist and you survive.

    You stay true to your life values.

    Your life is the reward of your contribution and effort.

    You are owed nothing (acknowledging that in a civilized society there need to be safety nets because life is not always fair both in regard personal circumstances and health so we are not all equal and never will be – and I did not receive support over and above Family Payments Part 1 and Part 2 as a single parent, Property Orders falling as they did so I did not qualify, of which I was proud – and remain proud because I – and now my wife – have no association with government as fully self funded retirees)

    So, people in highly remunerated occupations putting that their highly remunerated occupation should not be disrupted?

    Well, I was in a highly remunerated occupation.


    It is not what happens to you, it is how you respond.

    And there is always opportunity – where resilience and ability will deliver an outcome.

    I have educated my children and my step-children that education is the pivot, the reason being that in an evolving World they will not do as I did and spend a working life in a particular vocation.

    Education will position them to move from vocation to vocation.

    That is life.

    There are no guarantees.

    For any of us.

    So the self same answer of the prior respondent just presented in a more personal way.

    Opportunity will always knock.

    Never be blinkered to opportunity.

  16. Player One @ Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Actually no PlayerOne, it is not clear. While you said you voted for Labor in the previous election, you also said you were voting independent first and Liberal before Labor in the upcoming election.

    But hey, you are welcome to change your mind of course! It does, however, suggest that your mind isn’t clear to you either 😉

  17. Thank you for a beautiful, thoughtful reply to my question, Observer.

    Now, how do you get such worthy sentiments through to the less-enlightened thinkers in the electorate, who may have to take a pay cut for the good of all? And they vote.

  18. A Google search for “It’s not surprising as the Coalition is about to enter its ninth year” reveals that a “Bonge” is not a funny cigarette but is in fact Paul Bongiorno (New Daily article linked by BK above).

  19. I guess the feral protestors will be out in force

    Bridget Rollason
    says a vote on the pandemic bill will be held later today after the government agreed to six amendments.

  20. Thanks BK. Reading this story I had an idea for how the Liberals could improve their appeal to women.

    I propose they release Liberal Party Barbie, who comes complete with:
    – ash blond dyed hair
    – designer business suit
    – Law or Business degree
    – non functional rape whistle
    – medieval social values

    Predatory Ken and personal leadership ambitions sold separately.

  21. John Major 1992
    Keating 1993
    Howard 2004
    Morrison 2019

    – four tired governments due to be kicked out, predicted to be kicked out but gifted one more term in miraculous elections – only to be turfed out one election later in a landslide.

  22. God that report into bullying, victimisation and discrimination in Ambulance Victoria is bad
    No wonder they won’t release the one into Fire Services Victoria

  23. Victoria records 918 new COVID cases and six deaths

    There are now 11,417 active COVID cases in the state and 512 people have died during the current Delta outbreak.

    The new cases were identified from 45,658 test results.

    There are 305 COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals, with 41 active cases in ICU and 19 patients on ventilators.

    The Health Department said there were a further 53 patients in intensive care whose COVID infections had cleared.

  24. Victoria

    We’re the other side of the hills from all the excitement, whether it’s situated at Mansfield or Licola.

    Only know what I’ve read in the media, various stories about multiple disappearances (which can often be accounted for in less sinister ways) but over reasonable time frames.

  25. ‘Scott Morrison told the Liberal federal executive he was considering asking it to exercise powers to override state divisions in preselections to impose his preferred candidates in key New South Wales seats..’

    Cue outrage re lack of diversity, robbing the locals on the ground of choice, etc etc etc.

  26. @danilic
    If only the National COVID19 Coordination Committee recommended dedicated quarantine facilities and not A GAS PIPELINE.

  27. Griff @ #34 Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 – 8:26 am

    Actually no PlayerOne, it is not clear. While you said you voted for Labor in the previous election, you also said you were voting independent first and Liberal before Labor in the upcoming election.

    I also said that I would decide whether to put Liberal above Labor or vice-versa based on the local candidates in the next election. Which were not known at the time, and are still not.

    No wonder Labor has trouble attracting swinging voters – they apparently can’t understand that such a thing could even exist.

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