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reports Natalie Baini, who until recently was a cultural diversity manager at the Australian Football League, has withdrawn her preselection challenge against Liberal MP Fiona Martin in Reid and will instead run as an independent, complaining the party had failed to act on her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. Poliphili says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    While I am not quite as pessimistic as you I understand where you are coming from and think you have most things pretty correct. Your observations are appreciated, thank you.

    Cheers, Poliphili. (Great nym, btw).

  2. Women leading the teal Liberals isn’t a surprise because the Liberals have always been a women dominated party and that is something the reactionaries have overlooked in their rush into the cultural wars.

  3. ‘poroti says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Boerwar at 4:59 pm

    Morrison had two more floor crossers today: O’Brien and Christensen.

    Has Bullshitman booked them in for a quiet chat and ‘counselling’ yet, or is that reserved for the lady chaps ?’
    I imagine it is Christensen who would be doing the ‘counselling’ using special techniques learned in certain salubrious haunts in the Philippines.

  4. ‘lizzie says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Is there anything significant in that these resignation announcements are coming now?’
    Sinking ship. Rats.

  5. Sir Henry Parkes says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Have to disagree on a few points Bloos. Regarding Labor’s win in 1972, the ALP was in fact pretty united by then, despite some residual resentment in the Victorian branch about the 1970 federal intervention to remove the old socialist left-dominated executive. Whitlam was not embarrassed by any party members making ridiculous or inflammatory statements.

    Oh, I agree on this, SHP. I was thinking more of the residual effect of the Grouper schism, which continued to sap Labor’s support until Gough finally won. Divisions in the pro-Labor electoral plurality – and, at times, in the Parliaments – have plagued Labor throughout most of its history. This was not a significant factor when Hawke won, and nor when Rudd won. But it’s a factor now.

    The Reactionary hegemony is also divided against itself at present. This could help Labor to some extent, and perhaps offset the erosion of Labor support caused by ykw.

  6. Lizzie

    It’s possible the parliament may not sit again before a March election and I am sure that the faction ridden WA and Victorian Liberal organisations need as much time as they can to find candidates to replace Porter and Hunt and get campaigning.
    Labor’s candidate for Pearce has been at work for months.

  7. The Greens Sanctions amendement is stunting, of course. It failed. Of course.

    Has the Greens Secret National Policy General Meeting passed a motion condemning Aung Sung Suu Kyi yet?

  8. The prime minister would have you believe that social media is where people hide behind faceless avatars to cause harm. ​​​​​​

    But those who cause the most harm in our society do not need to hide. They vilify, harass and abuse in plain sight, and are often rewarded for their trouble. The worst bullies in Australia are not anonymous trolls but those in power who do not wish to be challenged, using every weapon in their arsenal to maintain the status quo.

    Trust me, I know.

    I know first hand what it’s like to be vilified and harassed, so naturally, I would welcome a genuine attempt to help.

    But this, no matter how the prime minister and his government try to dress it up, will not. Because here’s the kicker: Almost every single person who took part in the unrelenting tsunami of abuse and harassment against me did so using their real identity.

    The government’s proposed legislation, forcing social media companies to reveal the identities of anonymous accounts, is less about protecting the average citizen and more about the government’s singular obsession with control and power.

    Anonymity is not what protects bullies. Power is.

  9. Mavissays:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 1:26 pm
    [‘United States President Joe Biden personally raised China’s wave of trade strikes against Australia with Xi Jinping, as a top American official warned that Beijing wanted to drive Canberra “to its knees” and “break” it through economic coercion.”

    I don’t believe this story because the trade figures tell another story.

    The fervid declarations of US support for Australia amid China’s trade sanctions count for little: the data shows Australia stands alone in paying the costs. The US does not have our back. It is grabbing our markets in China, explains James Laurenceson.

  10. ‘Firefox says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    “I know that the Mighty Ant loves to prance about but he has 1 vote. It was Labor what done it.”


    It was a joint effort, comrade!’
    Not when you listen to the One Vote Angry Ant.

  11. It has been the appropriate result for Christian Porter, one which I predicted:

    ● No trial, because no evidence (an accusation is not evidence);

    ● No civil inquiry into criminal matters, because – again – no evidence, no witness (hearsay being weaker evidence than an eyewitness), and also no appropriate forum.

    ● A workplace investigation was inappropriate because there were no direct workplace issues, and no criminal convictions to work off.

    ● Some new kind of ad hoc style of investigation would have been even more dangerous.

    ● The defamation forum was used and resulted in a legal draw, but a financial, and eventually moral loss for Porter, culminating in a very lawerly, but ugly gambit to get around donation rules, as well as the corruption of the House’s own Privileges Committee.

    Porter simply became bad news, and a victim of his own poor judgement, as he was bound to, and had to go, without anyone having to invent new practices, procedures and forums to force him out.

    The System worked.

  12. Ven
    Our BFF have been doing it for a while. Early last year

    Published 28 Jan 2020 13:30
    Having admonished Australia (and Germany, Japan, and South Korea) for depending too much on the China market, the US is now elbowing Australia and other allies out of the way in a race for that same market.

    Earlier this year

    Following Beijing’s ban on a range of Australian products, the US has been steadily ‘backfilling’ the void left by its ally

    Thank goodness we have experts to spot this 😆

    Political observers say the US will prioritise its own economic needs ahead of its allies, including Australia, despite close ties

  13. Billie,

    BB thanks for your updates on Bubsy, hopefully lives happily to a ripe old age

    Apparently butcherbirds can live ’til their twenties.

    Seeing as Bubsy was basically on Death Row when I found him on October 29th, he’s done OK. He wants to be a proper bird but doesn’t know what that means yet.

    I can say that when he was perched 90 feet up a gum tree, the look on his face (via binoculars) was pure bliss.

  14. Greensborough Growlersays:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    So our bestest friends the USA have been pissing on our legs and telling us it is raining.

    Yeah. Looks like it. Infact they may be shitting on us and saying it is a new technique in mud bathing.

  15. Bushfire Bill @ #916 Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 – 6:19 pm

    It has been the appropriate result for Christian Porter, one which I predicted:

    ● No trial, because no evidence (an accusation is not evidence);

    ● No civil inquiry into criminal matters, because – again – no evidence, no witness (hearsay being weaker evidence than an eyewitness), and also no appropriate forum.

    Porter simply became bad news, and a victim of his own poor judgement, as he was bound to, and had to go, without anyone having to invent new practices, procedures and forums to force him out.

    The System worked.

    Porter, rightly or wrongly

    who knows

    found himself tagged with being the mascot of abuse against women and showed a considerable arrogance/lack of insight into the political perception of his ‘behaviour’ before, during and after the exposure of him as ‘that MP’ IMHO. Did the system work ? Personally, I am happy to see him walk the plank to clear air to a genuine debate and genuine changes to the way women are treated and viewed in this country, inside and outside of politics. As for Greg Hunt, don’t get me started.

  16. Boerwar says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:01 pm
    GDP down by 1.9% in the September quarter.
    I blame Frydenberg and Morrison.

    Quite right.

    If they had applied the right measures wrt vaccinations and delta in a timely fashion, there would have been no prolonged, widespread lockdowns. The contraction in GDP would not have occurred. Had they run a more trade-tuned line on China, the export sectors would have been stronger.

    As well, the supply-chain shocks that have jolted inflation and real wages were avoidable to some extent.

    They have failed to protect and foster the economy, jobs and household incomes.

  17. I note some reporting on St Basil’s at The Guardian

    But there appears no headline on the 9 Entertainment site – and Murdoch I do not know – as I do not know of any coverage on the TV networks

    The lack of coverage replicates the lack of coverage of the Aged Care Royal Commission

    Why no reporting?

    Noting the operation of these businesses is a Federal Government responsibility

  18. Great news about Porter. The campaign so far by Tracey Roberts for Labor must be gaining some traction. She is an excellent candidate. She knows how to campaign, how to run, how to win. Pearce is hard for Labor, but if anyone can take it she can.

  19. “Not when you listen to the One Vote Angry Ant.”


    Apparently you weren’t listening at all…

    We were together, comrade! United as one against a common foe! Fighting Tories!

    It’s a beautiful thing when Labor decides to side with the Greens and work together to defeat the Coalition!! It needs to happen far more often.

  20. What Lloyd Bridges of Sea Hunt fame leaves behind is a “botched” vaccine roll out (to quote Grattan Institute)

    But we will miss the second Friday announcements of another medicine (singular) on the subsidised medicines schedule

    Oh look, a camera

    See you again Friday week for another announcement

    How good am I?


  21. Somehow I prefer the Bagshaw version to the ABC one quoting the fellow from the Biden administration.

    [Bagshaw] Australia caught in an election trap as Washington and Beijing do business

    Australian cattle farmers and abattoirs lost half a billion in exports to China in the last two years, cotton producers were down $870 million, copper exporters $1.5 billion.

    But the Chinese importers did not miss those products. Australia’s great Indo-Pacific ally, the United States, was happy to make up for the shortfall.

    Compared with the usual insincere words of flattery from the US:

    US Asia adviser Kurt Campbell says Beijing likely to end trade war on Australia’s terms

    US President Joe Biden’s top Asia adviser says that China’s campaign of economic punishment against Australia has failed and has predicted that Beijing will re-engage with the federal government on Australia’s terms.

  22. So just how many rats does the SS Morrison hold? Do we send out a rescue boat or do we just let them swim for it like the victims of robodebt? The water looks like it will be alive with the jumping rats…

  23. [‘…Porter made no hint as to his future plans, only saying he would spend more time with his family.’]

    Porter’s family lives in the West. His latest love interest is criminal lawyer Karen Espiner, who’s based in Sydney – the tyranny of distance, but I guess there’s always Facetime.




    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    I don’t believe this story because the trade figures tell another story.’]

    Apart from a passing reference by Biden, nor do I. From memory, I merely reported it without comment. US interests will always trump everything else. Thanks for the link.

  24. Laboratory work to test the effectiveness of the vaccines against the omicron variant should begin to give early indication of the results in about 10 days time according to mRNA and virologists.

  25. Murdoch orcs know a lot, too much in fact. And it is leaking out now…

    Clennell: Quarantine contract given to PM’s friend without tender
    4 hours ago

    Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell has revealed Scott Briggs, a close friend of Scott Morrison, was given a contract without tender to establish private quarantine centres for skilled migrants across the country.

    “Scott Briggs is a regular at the Lodge and lobbyist about town in Canberra: he and Scott Morrison attend Cronulla Sharks games together,” Mr Clennell said.

    “David Gazard is another one tight with Mr Morrison, who is Scott Briggs’ business partner.

    “Lobbying, of course, is a legal activity, but there was controversy two years ago when Scott Briggs was in the running with a consortium for a $2 billion visa processing contract which he then pulled out of, and which ultimately failed; controversy because he was so close to the PM.

    “And controversy again here with Mr Briggs and Mr Gazard given $80,000 by the Department of Home Affairs to scope out a private quarantine system to replace the state-run quarantine system once skilled migrants and international students came into the country.

    “This $80,000 was given without tender as the Department of Home Affairs admitted in Senate Estimates in October.”

  26. A massive understatement – with Morrison in charge precisely zilch meaningful reform is likely.

    The sweeping reform of Parliament House, proposed in Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ landmark report, is unlikely to be implemented in full before the federal election.
    (Murdoch’s Oz)

  27. The System Works.

    A woman took her own life.

    The PM’s whole argument is that the system works and nothing needs to change.

    I disagree wholeheartedly and I see broken systems all over the place where people didn’t need to die, they shouldn’t have to live like that, we shouldn’t be traumatising our most vulnerable and shelling out millions to those who have so many goes they need to hire armies of accountants to keep track of them all.

    The system is broken and right now the polls predict that we will elect a government that will perpetuate the broken system.

    I am so glad to hear that the system works for you, if you happen to be like Mr Porter.

  28. So Jay Weatherill has just tested positive to COVID… here we go, local spread. Just in time for Xmas.

    He was seen having lunch with the state opposition leader on Monday, so it could spread through the Opposition and potentially the whole government.

  29. “The System worked.”

    Tell that to the woman, oh wait you can’t she is dead, perhaps then try telling how great the system is to the 1000s like her for whom the system works for in much the same way.

    White male privilege at its stupidest on all levels.

  30. “Ah, I see, so [X, Y & Z are] only a waste of money when the money isn’t going to your mates.”

    I’ve never such a transparent example of it.

    They are in the “shovel the money out as fast as you can” phase.

  31. Dandy Murray says:
    Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    “Ah, I see, so [X, Y & Z are] only a waste of money when the money isn’t going to your mates.”

    I’ve never such a transparent example of it.
    There’s probably a perfectly banal explanation for it but it looks bad.

  32. WWP,

    White male privilege at its stupidest on all levels.

    That statement presupposes Porter is guilty of the crime of rape, for which you have not the slightest scintilla of admissible evidence, or indeed ANY evidence.

    You THINK you have it, but whatever you THINK you have, you only got it out of a newspaper, or off the telly. Or from what someone on twitter reckons, or on a blog.

    The victim is supposed to have left a dossier of “evidence” with friends, but you haven’t seen or read it. Yet you are still convinced Porter must be guilty of something because somebody took her own life. Your attitude is absolute anathema to any idea whatsoever of justice.

    Porter sowed the seeds of his own destruction by first trying to use legal representation that had done work for the other side. Then he ran out of money, made a bad settlement because of it, then argued the point anyway about costs. Finally he paid his lawyers out of a quasi legalistic slush fund involving the Prime Minister in disciplining him. Nothing to do with who got raped 30 years ago, who lived, or who died.

    Porter brought it upon himself because he is just bad news.

    In that way the System worked with the very thin legal gruel it had to sustain itself. Porter’s political career is finished. He has had to resign from cabinet in disgrace, now from the parliament. He has lost his wife, his job and his income. He is back to square one, in his fifties. That’s a fitting result.

    This is about all that can be expected from case that has no evidence, and no complainant, just a dossier that about a dozen people have read, one of whom is NOT you, nor is it anyone here on PB, or any of the instant lynch mob on twitter.

  33. [‘‘I’ll throw you overboard’: Navy officer threatened bullied recruit, hearings told

    “Shut the f— up, get out of my office or I’ll break your other leg and throw you overboard.”

    Teri Bailey, who enlisted in the navy at the age of 18.
    That was the official response when a young navy servicewoman went to a senior officer to report physical and emotional bullying.

    The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has heard the tragic story of Teri Bailey, who took her life in December 2020 on the Gold Coast. It was her 25th birthday, five years after her chosen career ended in a dishonourable discharge.

    Not alive to give evidence herself, Teri’s story was instead told by her sister, Alexandra, who broke down in tears several times during her testimony on day three of the hearings in Brisbane on Wednesday.

    Teri enlisted in May 2014 when she was 18. Her sister described her as “athletic” and “kind”.

    Alexandra said that two months after Teri enlisted, she dislocated her knee during her service.

    This resulted in bullying from fellow sailors, who made her feel like she was weaker than the rest. She was accused of faking the injury and also labelled a malingerer. Sometimes, when standing in formation, other sailors would kick her injured knee from behind, or pinch or pull her hair.

    Alexandra said Teri had surgery on her knee in Sydney, but after the operation woke up in a psychiatric ward, confused and frightened.’]

    Bullying in the Services has a long history. I recall in ’71 when serving in HMAS Sydney (a former RN aircraft carrier and the & sister ship of HMAS Melbourne) en route to San Diego to pick up spares for Skyhawk & Tracker aircraft, Melbourne having picked the planes up in ’67, which I also served in at the time and where similar allegations were made.

    An ordinary seaman jumped overboard from Sydney and when recovered (luckily he had a lifejacket) he claimed he had been bullied. To get to the heart of the matter, Judge Rapke, of the County Court, Victoria, was dispatched to conduct an inquiry, the outcome of which was, from memory, yes, he had been bullied, but bullying was not systemic in the RAN.

    There have been many like inquiries since – eg, HMAS Leeuwin, a former junior recruit training establishment, in
    East Fremantle, and where some were paid ex gratia sums as long as they kept quiet, my best mate, now dead, receiving $50k, even though he didn’t claim he was bullied. It was hush money so as not to scare off new recruits.

    My point is, while the family & friends of those some 1200 ADF personnel who’ve committed suicide over the past twenty years may find the RC cathartic & who have my deepest sympathy, I don’t think much else will be achieved. Bullying unfortunately is and always will be a part of service life.

    Where the RC may prove useful, though, is to investigate the reasons why so many Vets have such serious problems readjusting to civilian life, and it’s this area where I think some good can be done. How does one successfully transition to civilian life from a place like Vietnam through to Afghanistan – with some difficulty, I’d suggest?

  34. I’m still not seeing much evidence of a system that’s working bushfire.

    Looks more like a dumpster fire from over here. Sure, if you’re well heeled you could, if the fancy take you, pause and warm your hands a moment, but seriously would you?

    The other actors in our little play are just fuel for the fire. Sure, Porter stopped unwisely and now his fingers are too singed to stay in the Parliament, which it turns out is yet ànother dumpster fire.

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