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reports Natalie Baini, who until recently was a cultural diversity manager at the Australian Football League, has withdrawn her preselection challenge against Liberal MP Fiona Martin in Reid and will instead run as an independent, complaining the party had failed to act on her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. Coronavirus “local transmission” cases appear in South Australia.

    ABC news reported this afternoon that

    South Australia recorded three new cases of COVID-19, including two cases of local transmission since the state opened its borders to New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT last week. Two men aged in their 50s are believed to have caught the virus from an interstate traveller at an event.

    SA Police Commissioner and state coordinator Grant Stevens raised the option of borders closing again, amid cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant in New South Wales.

    “People want to be able to make plans, they want to be able to stick to their plans,. I’m hoping this Omicron plays out how some of the observers are speculating, and that is that it’s less severe — more contagious but less severe, I think that’s the best scenario for us. I’m keen to hold the line in terms of what our current border restrictions are-

    “but the fact is this is a pandemic and it’s throwing us curve balls every single day and we don’t know when the next one is coming”.

    It is strange that none of the State Premier’s have gone out their way to comment about the outcome of the National Cabinet meeting aimed at discussing the Omicron virus and how it is going to be responded to at a National and State level.

    According to this ABC report, at least one State Coordinator [SA] was prepared to use the dirty words “borders closing again”. Christmas holiday planning was a basket case already before Omicron came along. Think I will just take my dog to the beach and play catch.

    Maybe no political party wants their brand attached to the word ‘lockdown’ during the holidays.

  2. Greeting card company Hallmark has released a range of festive cards that replace the word ‘Christmas’ with ‘Holiday’ just to get on fuck around with the woke-obsessed presenters at Sky News Australia.

    The news network, which has 7138 stories on its website that include the word ‘woke’ (not even joking), has put all of its regular programming on hold to discuss the issue.
    The greeting card company confirmed it doesn’t expect to sell any of the cards – including versions that say ‘We Wish You A Merry Holiday Season’ and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Holiday Season’ – but says it was worth the investment just to see Chris Kenny, Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and others totally lose their little minds.

    “We know no-one actually says ‘Happy Holidays’ in Australia, but we heard it would drive Andrew Bolt absolutely fucking insane, so we thought it was worth it,” a spokesperson for the company said.

    Courtesy of the Shovel

  3. No news on which variant Weatherill has. Nor which state the original case is from (SA Health has stopped reporting it). Let’s hope it’s not Omicron.

    That school reunion is probably going to be a massive superspreading event. Will be ironic if many members of the government catch it – Malinauskas was actually in Parliament when he heard the news, then left to get tested and isolate.

  4. The Morrison Government have dumped the proposed voter ID bill, because it was doomed to fail in the Senate after Senator Lambie voiced her opposition to it today.
    Another example of Morrison clearing away the barnacles

  5. Loris
    There is an argument it would be better if it was Omicron as that seems to rapidly spread a less harmful version of the virus so it might immunise the rest of the population. Obviously we don’t know enough to say that with any certainty yet.

  6. On the other hand, Scomo wants the lower house to pass the religious discrimination bill before parliament rises for the year. 4 Liberal moderates have been won over, another 3 are holding out.

  7. Loris
    SA Health don’t know yet where the original case came from. They are hoping it was one of the interstate visitors but if it was a local person, we will have had community spread which notches us up another Covstat level and shuts down mist elective surgery.

  8. I don’t buy the argument that Omicron is milder. It’s still early days yet. South Africa has rapidly increasing hospitalisation rates 🙁

    Unfortunately since it’s displacing Delta in South Africa, it must be at least more contagious. And maybe more able to evade vaccines -but still too much is unknown. Let’s hope vaccination still protects against serious illness and death.

    I think the whole “it’s mild” is wishful thinking on behalf of the world.

  9. The facts are that some making allegations do so for a perceived advantage (so, by way of example, in Family Court proceedings – and where the validity of such allegations can be tested by Court Counsellors interacting with the children in attending a Family Report. So a defence of x number of people lived in that home so please ask because I have nothing to hide The allegations are false)

    Then you get allegations which result in similar allegations coming forward from others

    And you get allegations where there is no apparent reason for the allegations being made because there is no perceived advantage in making the allegation and, to the contrary, only attracting attention to the person making the allegation

    As a bystander with no knowledge of the individual from WA (except other reporting of his life style) the question I ask is why the lady would make such an allegation?

    In life you generally do things for a reason

    What was her reason?

    Noting that, as a private person, she put herself in the spotlight by making such allegation – and the impact on her of being in that spotlight so taking her own life which was distressing beyond compare

    One person’s word against another person’s word

    And one party was dead, by her own hand

    Regardless of how you construe the foregoing, who you support because it is about sides, I am pleased to see the exit of this individual from WA

    And the damage done is to all males

  10. Diogenes @ Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    Good to see you!

    Early days on severity. Omicron is starting up like a wildfire at the end of a 5 day heatwave in South Africa, but hospitalisation increasing at the same rate as previous delta wave. Better safe than sorry in my book for now.

  11. “That statement presupposes Porter is guilty of the crime of rape”

    No it does not, and if you are stupid enough to say the system works it is unsurprising you are stupid enough to build a fake dishonest cowardly strawman like this. You are beneath contempt. I can rest my case.

    Stay classy … oh wait …

  12. Loris @ Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    Beaten to the punch! Also, a lot of stock is being placed on clinician reports on the ground saying that it is milder. Excellent observers and well placed, but one must still be wary of availability bias.

  13. Diogenes, I hope the healthcare system can take a COVID outbreak in SA. I think they are bracing themselves at the Lyell Mc, with lower vaccination rates and more disadvantaged groups there.

  14. Griff – yes they need population level data for a few more weeks yet to determin Omicron characteristics, hospitalisations lag infections by a week or two, and deaths by another couple of weeks.

    Speaking of which, NSW has half the hospitalisations of Victoria, but only 1/4 of the cases. I suspect there are a whole bunch of people (probably young) catching COVID in NSW who aren’t getting tested.

  15. If the event was a 40th school reunion, then most of the 50 something guests won’t have had their booster shot yet I would say. They are probably in that period between 4 to <6 months after the second shot, when vaccine effectiveness starts to wane but too early for a booster. And probably a mix of Astra Zeneca and Pfizer. So far there are at least 3 fully vaccinated people who caught COVID at that event. I'm willing to guess that there will be more in the coming days.

  16. Not only not getting tested but not getting tested when they have symptoms

    Then a spouse saying their partner is ill but continuing to associate – and not telling those they associate with of the illness of a spouse

    Because they view the virus is a left wing conspiracy to deny them of their “freedom”

    So it does not exist

    Until they are so ill they call an ambulance – and are admitted to hospital in a very serious condition (both)

    Then contact tracing – and others having to isolate

    And testing positive

    This scenario is out there

    They may now be vaccinated but the result is long Covid and the impact on lungs which are now severely damaged – so impacting their lives into whatever future they have

    This is a true story

    Friendships shattered – for ever

    And toxic recriminations because of the risk to others

    And just to add there is a reunion during the Adelaide Test, which would be magnificent these many years later (and it has been a number of years since our last reunion – noting we had all progressed to Legend status at that time, so what is the elevation past that?)

    But I have tendered my apology

    From what I hear from SA, the government there is viewed as was the NSW government which introduced the virus to SA previously

  17. Loris
    There will definitely be more.
    The SA Health service is not ready for a fast Covid outbreak. As you say, the Lyell Mac is the epiecentre of the unvaccinated and they are not going to take any Covid patients. The RAH takes all Covid patients apart from children (WCH) and pregnant women (FMC). The rate limiting step could be ambulancec numbers to transfer patients from Lyell to RAH as the ambulances need to be deep cleaned after every suspected Covid patient. The Lyell won’t be taking patients for six months at least due to ventilation problems (ICU air ends up in Admin I heard) and FMC has a similar but not as bad problem. The RAH was the only hospital built with a pandemic in mind. I will get ugly very fast if we get exponential quickly but if the curve is flattened (and SA Health have made SA less free now than before we “opened up to Covid”) we will probably follow a similar trajectory to NSW/Vic. Quite a few people died unnecessarily in NSW as they stufed up looking after them at home properly and knowing the incompetence of most of our hospital bureaucrats, I’m sure we will too (our CovidHealth app doesn’t work and we don’t have any workforce to run it anyway).

  18. “The Morrison Government have dumped the proposed voter ID bill, because it was doomed to fail in the Senate after Senator Lambie voiced her opposition to it today.
    Another example of Morrison clearing away the barnacles”

    I had read it wouldn’t have even passed the lower house because George Christensen and Llew O’Brien are digging their heels in demanding the Prime Minster to overturn state vaccine mandates before passing other legislation. I’m sceptical they would have gone through with their threat on voting against the bill though.

  19. “That statement presupposes Porter is guilty of the crime of rape”

    No it does not…

    It assumes the woman’s suicide has something to do with Porter, with the only relevant allegation being that he raped her when they were teenagers. WWP is angry because he or she assumes Porter caused the woman to take her own life. That’s near enough to presupposing Porter raped her. The rest is unconvincing weasel words.

    As far as I know there was no note left or explanation given for her suicide. WWP and others just assume it was connected to what the woman alleged happened to her 30 years ago. But at the end of the day the reason for her suicide is unknown.

    As to Observer’s point about why she would make such an allegation, the Police Inspector who handles such matters in NSW made the point that all kinds of allegations are made, even pressed, even genuinely held, when in reality they have no substance. This is why the Police have set processes for dealing with rape allegations. The final determinant has to be testable evidence.

    Porter’s statement is that he had virtually nothing to do with the dead person, beyond some common acquaintances and a few isolated meetings over the three decades. He outright denies there was any sexual assault of any kind.

    A criminal trial was impractical, as there was no formal complaint, even from the victim, even when she was urged to make one. There were no witnesses of any real substance, particularly no eye witnesses. The Police had no option but to close the case, no matter what they may have believed privately. There was no chance of a conviction that would have stuck.

    A one-off, ad hoc or special civil inquiry, which some had called for, nevertheless had no precedent. Using civil evidence rules and standards as a “back door” method of determining a criminal matter would be an outrage, opening the door to all kinds of future outrages, every time twitter whipped up enough anger against an unpopular person, a government decided to silence a critic, or the Police wanted to run a vendetta.

    A workplace style inquiry also fails, on two grounds.

    Firstly there is no incident alleged that happened in Porter’s or the alleged victim’s workplace.

    Secondly, even if there was a qualifying workplace incident, as soon as it became apparent that the matter was criminal the workplace investigation would have to cease, with the matter handed to the Police. We would be back to square one.

    The only option open to formally assess the allegations in a courtroom was the one Porter took: a defamation action. He didn’t, as some say, “lose” this action. But he didn’t win it, either. The ABC didn’t retract its story, or pay damages. They did acknowledge however that their program and the accompanying web site write-up of it did not establish Porter’s guilt.

    The real result of the defamation trial was to financially cripple Porter, mainly through his failed attempt to use a barrister who was in some way professionally acquainted with one of the defence witnesses, and the case, and who might therefore have inside information.

    This last aspect is why I say that the System won. No new form of half civil, half criminal trial had to be invented to get around an inadequate criminal case. And a workplace inquiry was always inappropriate.

    Eventually the rules of the System tripped up Porter, who then compounded his mistake by bending the ministerial disclosure rules with a smartarsed legalistic ruse to get around them. The leaked, critical Privileges committee determination and polling trouble in WA were the final nails. All part of the System.

    I have little doubt that Porter is in for more trouble, because it is becoming apparent, most importantly to his colleagues, that he is just Bad News. He attracts trouble. Whether he is a rapist or not, he is definitely a liability.

    You don’t have to be “stupid”, some kind of Old White Male, or a misogynistic relic to hold similar views to the above. A simple commitment to the justice system we have, without inventing a new one just to get people we don’t like is sufficient.

    Porter destroyed himself, which is a satisfying way to see him go.

  20. On the Submaries.. The Shire Liar has seeded Australian Sovereignty to the UK .. Nuclear Submarines reactors built there NOT here.. of course that’s the only solution ( they never were going to be built here..impossible) to The Liars self inflicted wound… stupid idea in the first place..

    So now the UK has him by the short & curlies .. do as Mad Boris says or they turn the subs OFF, to sit at dock & rust.

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