Monday miscellany (open thread)

Return of the vexed question of expelling elected members of parliament, an improbable set of state voting intention numbers from Victoria, and more.

I would guess that Newspoll will return on the eve of the resumption of the parliament, which is still three weeks away. This is an off week for Essential Research; there may be a Roy Morgan poll, or there may not. Until then:

• Kylea Tink, the newly elected teal independent member for North Sydney, says she believes a new federal integrity commission should have the power to sack parliamentarians for sufficiently serious breaches of a parliamentary code of conduct; David Pocock, newly independent Senator for the Australian Capital Territory, says he would have “real concerns about an unelected body being able to dismiss elected representatives”. The federal parliament denied itself of the power to expel representatives through legislation passed in 1987, such power only ever having been exercised in 1920, when Labor MP Hugh Mahon made “seditious and disloyal utterances” regarding British policy in Ireland. Mahon then re-contested his seat of Kalgoorlie but was narrowly defeated, which remains the only occasion of a government party winning a seat from the opposition at a by-election.

• If you can’t wait another three years for my 2025 federal election guide, Robin Visser offers an online geospatial tool for examining polling booth results at the recent federal election.

Victorian state news to go with that related in last week’s dedicated post on the subject:

• Roy Morgan has results of a “snap SMS poll” of state voting intention in Victoria, showing Labor with a rather inplausible two-party lead of 59.5-40.5 from primary votes of Labor 43.5%, Coalition 29.5%, Greens 12%, United Australia Party 2% and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party 1%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1710. A similar poll in November produced the same two-party result.

• Morgan’s result is at odds with a detailed assessment of the state of play by pollster Kos Samaras, who expects Labor to struggle to maintain its majority in the face of four to five losses to the Liberals, two to the Greens and others yet to independents. However, it’s also “extremely difficult to see how the Coalition get anything north of 38 to 40 seats” in a chamber of 88.

• Jane Garrett, who held a seat in the Legislative Council for Eastern Victoria region, died on Saturday of breast cancer at the age of 49. Garrett moved to the chamber from the lower house seat of Brunswick at the 2018 election, which duly fell to the Greens. She resigned from cabinet in 2016 after a dispute with the United Firefighters Union in her capacity as Emergency Services Union brought her into conflict with Daniel Andrews. Garrett announced last December that she would retire at the election. Labor’s ticket in Eastern Victoria will be headed by incumbent Harriet Shing, who was last week promoted to cabinet, and Tom McIntosh, a former electrician and (at least as of 2019) electorate officer to federal Batman MP Ged Kearney, who is presumably well placed to fill Garrett’s casual vacancy in the interim.


• As detailed at length on my live commentary thread, South Australia’s Liberals copped a 6.0% swing in Saturday’s Bragg by-election to add to the 8.8% one they suffered at the March state election, leaving about 2% intact from a margin that was 17.4% after the 2018 election, and had never previously fallen below 12.8%. The next by-election off the rank is for the Western Australian state seat of North West Central, to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Vince Catania. The Nationals last week preselected Merome Beard, proprietor of Carnarvon’s Port Hotel, whose BLT comes strongly recommended. Labor is considered unlikely to field a candidate, but the Liberal state council voted last week to call for nominations.

Coming to our census

Some insights on electoral demographics from this week’s census data release, plus a look at how states’ House of Representatives seat entitlements might look when the matter is determined next year.

The first and best tranche of data from the 2021 census was released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, prompting an article by me in Crikey yesterday in which I examined how the demographics of various electorates had changed over the past two five-year census cycles, with an inevitable focus on the teal independent seats (which have actually changed very little in demographic terms, some reporting and conservative rhetoric to the contrary) and other seats that turned against the Coalition. The latter tended to be notable for having few old people and, in many cases, large Chinese populations.

For the purposes of this exercise, I supplemented the new census data for federal electorates with comparable figures from the 2011 and 2016 census, aggregating finely granulated Statistical Area 1 results to produce numbers based on current boundaries. From this I further offer the tables below, the first two of which identify the fastest and slowest growing electorates in population terms over the past ten years. The majority of the former are on the outskirts of Melbourne and, in one case, Geelong — although as will be noted below, the underlying population boom this reflects has hit the skids since the onset of the pandemic. The latter include fully urbanised seats in the big cities and remote electorates that tend to be stagnant at the best of times, but have particularly come off since a resources development boom that peaked over a decade ago.

The tables in the Crikey article show which electorates have changed the most in terms of age, income and multiculturalism. Those below simply list those which rank highest and lowest on these measures, and where they placed on the rankings based on the 2011 data. It is notable that all ten of the bottom ranked seats by household income, as well all being in regional areas, are held by the Coalition – this was not the case ten years ago, when Lyons, Richmond and Gilmore featured. Labor’s near lock on the most multicultural seats, marred only by the loss of Fowler, has been assisted by the gain of Reid, which in turn was symptomatic of the swing against the Coalition among voters of Chinese heritage. Bennelong and Chisholm are placed twelfth and fourteenth on the list, and first and second for Chinese language speakers. The “growth” figures are as compared with the 2016 census.

Talk of federal electorates and population growth naturally leads on to the important question of how House of Representatives seats will be apportioned between the states and territories after the next election, which will be determined on the basis of the latest available population figures in the middle of next year. This is a little hard to call at the moment given growth hit a wall in the year after the onset of the pandemic, the impact of which fell so heavily on Victoria that its population actually fell by 1.5% over 2021, but a compensating recovery is now projected by people whose business it is to project such things. With that in mind, the following table shows how the determination would have looked based on population figures from the end of the past three years.

So steep has been the fall of Victoria’s share of the national population that it would appear to be headed for an unprecedented loss of two seats, although I would presume that with the return to normal conditions it will now bounce back and in fact lose only one. New South Wales is also presently teetering on the cusp of 46.5, below which it will lose a seat. By contrast, population growth in Queensland and Western Australia proceeded apace over the past three years, such that Western Australia looks like it will recover the sixteenth seat it lost last time — a fact that would once have boded ill for Labor, but seemingly no more — while Queensland would gain a thirty-first if its quota growth rate were maintained. It’s also not impossible that South Australia will arrest over three decades of declining representation to gain an eleventh seat. Constitutional limits and vagaries of the calculation formula ensure the status quo will be maintained in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Polls: Morning Consult, Essential Research, Lowy Institute (open thread)

Anthony Albanese’s approval remains in the ascendant, plus further polling on the minimum wage, the gas crisis and foreign affairs.

American pollster Morning Consult’s current read on various international leaders’ domestic approval credits Anthony Albanese with an approval rating of 57%, up six on his debut showing last month, with disapproval up one to 26% and the balance accounted for by a drop in the uncommitted. It seems this poll is conducted on a daily basis and its published numbers are seven-day rolling averages – I’m not sure how often updates are published, but this one came out a week ago, from polling conducted between June 15 to 21.

In the absence of anything to tell us on voting intention or leadership approval, the most interesting finding of the fortnightly Essential Research survey for mine is that 67% support the Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase the minimum wage by 5.2%, with only 15% opposed. It appears Essential Research now has a regular question on whether Australia is headed in the right or wrong direction, the latest figures of 47% and 29% differing little from the result a fortnight ago, which registered a post-election surge of optimism.

The survey also features questions on the gas crisis and emissions targets, which to my mind are flawed by a lack of response options capturing anti-renewables climate skeptic sentiment. Forty-five per cent blamed the gas crisis on “years of neglect and of successive governments” when given a choice between that and “factors that couldn’t have been predicted, like the war in the Ukraine and the pandemic” and the “fossil fuel lobby and the LNP” having “deliberately fought against the transition to renewables”, which scored 35% and 20% respectively. Forty-nine per cent felt the government should implement the emissions reductions target it took to the election and 30% felt it should go further, with “unsure” the only option for those of neither opinion.

There were two questions on foreign policy, one of which found overwhelming majorities felt it important to have close relationships with the United States, Pacific nations and European Union nations, with a more modest 58% feeling the same way about China and 33% doing so about Russia. Sixty-two per cent believed “Australia should take a more assertive role in protecting our national interest”, compared with 38% who favoured the alternative option of “Australia should look for opportunities to increase global cooperation”. The poll was conducted Thursday to Monday from a sample of 1087.

For a lot more on the foreign policy front, the Lowy Institute has published its annual in-depth poll on the subject, which I haven’t had time to look at properly yet. It would seem declining confidence in Joe Biden is not a purely domestic affair, with 58% having confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs, down from 69% last year. This places him effectively level with Boris Johnson on 59% and behind Jacinda Ardern on 87%, Emmanuel Macron on 67% and Japan’s Fumio Kishidia (who I’m guessing respondents weren’t required to recognise by name) on 65%. Vlaidimir Putin was down ten points to 6%, placing him on par with Kim Jong-un on 5%. The survey was conducted March 15 to 28 from a sample of 2006.

Joshing around (open thread)

Josh Frydenberg and his well-wishers start plans for his comeback; strong support for political truth-in-advertising laws; research on social media advertising expenditure; and new election result analysis toys.

Still nothing from Newspoll; the fortnightly Essential Research should be along this week, but may not tell us anything too exciting if it’s still holding off on resuming voting intention; and who knows what Roy Morgan might do.

Recent news items relevant to the federal sphere and within the ambit of this site:

John Ferguson of The Australian reports on Liberal plans to get Josh Frydenberg back into federal parliament, which one party source rates as “only a matter of how and when”. However, finding a vehicle for his return is a problem with no obvious solution. While some are reportedly urging him to win back Kooyong, another Liberal is quoted saying an infestation of sandals and tofu in Hawthorn means the seat is now forever lost. Another idea is for him to win Higgins back from Labor, supposedly an easier task since Labor will receive weaker preference flows than an independent. There is also the difficulty that the local party is dominated by a moderate faction of which Frydenberg does not form part, despite efforts to cultivate an impression to the contrary as he struggled to fight off Monique Ryan. Suggestions he might try his hand on the metropolitan fringes at La Trobe and Monash are running into concerns that he might go the way of Kristina Keneally. Yet another source says he might sit out two terms, the idea being that conditions are likely to remain unfavourable for the party in 2025.

• The Australia Institute has published results from a poll of 1424 respondents conducted by Dynata from the day of the election on May 21 through to 25 which found 86% agreed that truth in political advertising laws should be in place by the time of the next election, with little demographic or partisan variation. Sixty-five per cent said they had been exposed to advertising they knew to be misleading at least once a week during the campaign.

• A further study by the Australia Institute found that Labor led the field on social media advertising with expenditure of more than $5 million, after its 2019 post-election review found its social media strategy had been lacking. The Coalition collectively spent around $3.5 million and the United Australia Party $1.7 million.

Election analysis tools:

• Jim Reed of Resolve Strategic has developed a three-pronged “pendulum” to deal with the limitations of the traditional Mackerras model, which entirely assumes two-party competition. Labor, the Coalition and “others” each get a two-sided prong, with margins against the other two recorded on opposite sides.

• David Barry again provides Senate preference calculators that work off the ballot paper data to allow you to observe how each parties’ preferences divided among the various other parties, which you can narrow down according to taste. The deluxe model involves a downloadable app that you can then populate with data files, but there is now a no-frills online version that is limited to above-the-line votes.

• Andrew Conway has a site that allows you to do all sorts of things with the Senate results once you have climbed its learning curve, such as conduct a double dissolution-style count in which twelve (or any other number you care to nominate) rather than six candidates are elected in each state (on a relevant state page, click the “recount” link, enter 12 in the vacancies box towards the bottom, and click “recount”. Its tools can be used not only on each Senate election going back to 2013, but also on New South Wales local government elections at which councillors were elected under the Senate-style single transferable vote system last December.

• Mitch Gooding offers a tool that allows you to replicate how you filled out your Senate paper and calculates exactly how your vote was chopped up and distributed through various exclusions in the count and which candidates it helped elect, if any.

Morgan: 53-47 to Labor (open thread)

The first published voting intention poll since the election credits both major parties with higher primary votes than they recorded last month, for one reason or another.

Roy Morgan has published the first poll of voting intention since the election, though in its typically unpredictable way it makes clear from an accompanying chart that it has continued conducting polling on a weekly basis. The primary votes from the poll are Labor 36%, which compares with 32.6% at the election and 34% in both Morgan’s poll last week and its pre-election poll; Coalition 37%, respectively compared with 35.7%, 37% and 34%; Greens 11%, respectively compared with 12.3%, 12.5% and 13%; One Nation 4%, respectively compared with 5.0%, 3.5% and 4%; and United Australia Party 0.5%, respectively compared with 4.1%, 1% and 1%. The two-party preferred result from the poll is 53-47 in favour of Labor, compared with about 52-48 at the election, 54-46 in last week’s poll and 53-47 in the final pre-election Morgan poll.

The two-party state breakdowns have the Coalition with an unlikely 53.5-46.5 lead in New South Wales, after losing there by 51.4-48.6 at the election; Labor with a scarcely more plausible 60.5-39.5 lead in Victoria, which they won by about 54-46 (here the two-party election count is not quite finalised); 50-50 in Queensland, where the Coalition won 54-46; Labor ahead by 50.5-49.5 in Western Australia, where they won 55-45 at the election; Labor ahead by 60.5-39.5 in South Australia, where they won 54-46; and Labor ahead 63-37 in Tasmania, where they won 54.3-45.7. It should be noted that sample sizes for the small states especially low, and margins of error correspondingly high. The poll was conducted online and by phone last Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1401.

This post is intended as the open thread for general political discussion – if you have something more in-depth to offer on the results of the recent election, you might like to chime in on my new post looking at the Australian National University’s new study of surveys conducted early in the campaign and immediately after the election, or the ongoing discussion of the Senate results.

Flying blind (open thread)

A Labor-eye-view of the election result from the party’s national secretary; the AEC’s response to social media misinformation; but nothing doing on the polling front, apart from some numbers on media trust.

Despite the polls not having failed as such, in that they uniformly picked the right winner, it seems we’re having another post-election voting intention polling drought just like we did in 2019. This is unfortunate from my perspective, as it would be interesting to compare Labor’s strength during its honeymoon period with that of newly elected governments past. It also means I have to work harder on material for regular open thread posts. Here’s what I’ve got this time:

• The Reuters Institute last week published its international Digital News Report 2022, the Australian segment of which was conducted by the University of Canberra, which asked questions on media consumption and trust. Respondents were asked to rank their trust in various media brands on a scale of one to ten. Typically for such surveys, this found the highest level of trust in public broadcasters, with ABC News ranking first and SBS News ranking second; television networks and broadsheet newspapers in the middle; and tabloid newspapers, specifically the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph, ranking last. The survey was conducted online in January and February from a sample of 2038.

• In an address to the National Press Club last week, Labor national secretary Paul Erickson dated a shift in voter sentiment in Labor’s favour from the announcement of the Solomon Islands’ pact with China on April 1. Erickson said voters were struck by the contrast between the Coalition’s “immature” warmongering rhetoric and attempts to associate Labor with the Chinese Communist Party and Labor’s promise to “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice” for Pacific Islands countries. He further noted that the rot set in for Scott Morrison amid COVID outbreaks in mid-2021, when Labor internal polling showed his net competence score fall by 14 points in two weeks over late June and early July. The Coalition was also damaged by cabinet ministers’ partisan attacks on state governments in Western Australia and Victoria, and it was rated lower by voters on housing and wages.

• Saturday’s Financial Review reported on the Australian Electoral Commission’s efforts to confront online disinformation about the election process head on, through the work of its election integrity assurance taskforce and a media unit that abandoned bureaucratic formality in engaging with social media on social media’s terms. Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers claimed they had a “70 to 80 per cent success rate in changing minds”, and that Twitter had been “a bit self-correcting as a result”: “Someone would say something and you’d see people say, ‘hang on, that doesn’t sound right, I heard the AEC say this or that’”.

• Tom Rogers also foreshadows possible changes to electoral laws to allow for faster counting of postal votes after election day by streamlining the existing process whereby ballots are sorted at a central location and then sent to the voter’s electorate before they are counted.

• Nominations for the South Australian state by-election for Bragg on July 2 closed on Thursday, drawing a field of six candidates who are listed on my by-election guide.

Other recent posts on the site:

• A post on the Queensland Senate result, which was confirmed on Thursday. The buttons will be pressed today on the results for New South Wales at 9:30am and, most interestingly, Victoria at 10am. That will just leave Western Australia – the post just linked to considers at length the remote possibility that Labor might not win a third seat, as is being generally assumed.

• Courtesy of Adrian Beaumont, a preview and live commentary of France’s legislative elections, plus news on British by-elections and American opinion polling.

• A post on Saturday’s Callide state by-election in Queensland, a safe conservative seat which the Liberal National Party has retained with a swing in its favour of 6.5% against Labor.

Essential Research: Albanese approval bounce, economic conditions, republic (open thread)

Essential Research records a surge in approval for Anthony Albanese in one of the few items of polling to have come down the chute since the election.

The Guardian reports on the latest fortnightly Essential Research poll, which it seems won’t be treating us to voting intention for the time being. However, it does provide us with leadership ratings, which record a bounce for Anthony Albanese impressive even by the standards of post-election honeymoon polling: his approval rating is now at 59%, up from 42% in the final pre-election poll, while his disapproval rating has plunged from 41% to 18%. However, nothing is reported on ratings for Peter Dutton or a preferred prime minister result.

The poll also finds an eight point increase since pre-election on the question of whether Australia is headed in the right direction to 48%, with the negative response down from 42% to 27%. It apparently shows “about a third” expect economic conditions will improve over the next year, which is up five points though I’m not sure when the previous question was asked, with 40% expecting things to get worse, with expectations evenly balanced with respect to personal finances. Thirty-five per cent thought the new government would be better for their personal finances compared with 18% for one led by Peter Dutton. Asked whether Australia should become a republic with an Australian head of state, 44% said yes and 34% no, the latter being six points higher than when the question was last asked in March last year.

More detail from the poll will become available when the full report is published later today. I am unable to offer any insight as to when Newspoll will be back, when Essential Research will resume voting intention polling, or what the enigmatic Roy Morgan organisation might do. However, I can relate that Ipsos’s and Resolve Strategic’s contracts ended with the election, though that’s not to say they won’t show up again in some form at some point.

Rich Liberal, poor Liberal

A beginner’s guide to debate on the conservative side of politics about how the Liberal Party should react to its election defeat, and in particular the loss of its traditional strongholds to the teal independents.

In the wake of the Morrison government’s defeat, a culture war has broken out within the Liberal Party between those who consider recovering the teal independent seats a necessary precondition for a return to power and those who believe they should be abandoned to the political left so the party might pursue different constituencies in seats that have been swinging away from Labor, notably Hunter, Werriwa, McEwen and Gorton. Support for the latter notion has been provided by former Morrison government adviser Mark Briers, who says the party “must move our party’s focus, talent and resources away from Camberwell and Malvern towards Craigieburn and Melton”, and right-wing Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith, who says his party should “stop obsessing with the woke concerns and obsessions with the inner-urban elites”, and “take the focus off Kew” – his own seat, until November at least – “and focus on Cranbourne”.

Repudiating his soon-to-be-former colleague, former Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien told The Australian there was “no path to 45 seats” at the November state election “that doesn’t run through Malvern, Kew and Hawthorn”, the latter of which was unexpectedly lost to Labor in 2018. Similarly, federal MP Paul Fletcher – who has an interest in the matter as member for the Sydney seat of Bradfield, one of only two out of the ten wealthiest electorates that remain with the Liberal Party – wrote in The Australian on Saturday that he has not heard notions to the contrary “seriously advanced by fellow Liberals”, by which I think he means he has not heard it advanced by serious fellow Liberals. However, his prescriptions for accomplishing took pains to avoid seriously criticising his own party and offered no suggestion of any policy reorientation.

Scott Morrison, who clearly isn’t kept awake at night by jibes about him being “from marketing”, proposes a middle course, seemingly based on the notion that brand damage from the Nationals had a lot to do with his government’s defeat. As reported by Sharri Markson of The Australian, Morrison proposes the solution of a re-forged coalition in which a Queensland-style Liberal National Party serves as the main brand, allied to a distinct “new progressive Liberal movement” to run in the kinds of seats lost to the teal independents.

The loss of those seats has prompted much talk about the demise of the socio-economic cleavage that has historically defined the Australian party system, including a claim in a Financial Review headline that “for the first time Labor voters earn more than Coalition voters” – later amended to “Labor electorates earn more than Coalition seats” after it was pointed out that the initial claim was wrong. The issue with such analyses is known as the ecological fallacy, whereby inferences about individual behaviour are drawn from aggregate-level data — in this case the notion that because the electorates held by the Coalition have declined in income, it follows that their support base has as well.

YouGov data scientist Shaun Ratcliff addressed this issue by drawing on the surveying for the pollster’s multi-level regression and post-stratification poll, which reached 18,923 respondents three to five weeks out from election day. Ratcliff found that while the traditional income cleavage was reduced at this election, it certainly did not disappear. Among home-owners on $150,000 a year or more, 44% voted Coalition, 31% Labor and 10% Greens; among those on $50,000 a year or less who did not own homes, 40% voted Labor, 27% Greens and just 16% voted Coalition. While the effect was somewhat weaker among those under 35, Ratcliff provides a series of charts illustrating the clear tendency of wealthier voters to favour the Coalition over Labor and “others” (Greens support did not appear contingent on income).

This was also true within the teal independent seats, with Kooyong and Goldstein in particular having experienced an influx of apartment-dwelling “young middle-income professionals”, as noted by Remy Vega in The Australian. Data from the YouGov poll suggests the Liberal vote in the twenty seats targeted by Climate 200 was around seven points lower among those on $50,000 or less than among those on higher incomes. More broadly, Ratcliff notes that “renters also swung away from the Liberal and National Party more than homeowners and the young more than the old”.