Define the boundaries in new phase of Australia-China relationship: Wong


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong says Australia needs to “define the boundaries” of its engagement with China now the relationship between the two countries is in a new phase.

Focusing on China policy in a Monday address – released ahead of delivery – Wong acknowledges the “substantial and growing differences” in the bilateral relationship.

“It is inevitable that Australia will make more decisions that China doesn’t like. This means that the way the relationship is handled will become even more important,” she says in the speech, to the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

“Although there continues to be convergence of interests, the divergences have become more apparent and acute – due to both Beijing’s increasing assertiveness and greater awareness in Australia as to the implications of the [Chinese Communist Party’s] behaviour and ambitions. We must look at how best to engage effectively with China while always standing up for our values, our sovereignty and our democratic system.”

Wong says where limitations around engagement are needed, the “boundaries should be as restricted as possible and as robust as necessary,” with opportunities and risks identified.

Boundaries and terms of engagement would differ between issues and between sectors.

Thus on research collaboration, engagement shouldn’t be ruled out across entire fields, but export controls and visa checks could be used for “a narrow set of the most sensitive defence oriented technology”.




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‘Developing’ rift points to growing divisions between Coalition and Labor on China


Wong says while the government has to provide the leadership all stakeholders, including the opposition, foreign policy community and business, “need to work together to identify those opportunities for deeper engagement where our interests coincide and to manage differences constructively”.

She puts the onus on the media “not only to hold the government of the day to account but to ensure they themselves don’t unthinkingly or inadvertently reinforce China’s tactics or narrative”, including by amplifying CCP claims.

Wong says Labor wants to engage in a bipartisan way on China policy, but the government isn’t willing to do so and Scott Morrison “has no plan for dealing with this new phase in Australia’s relations with China”.

“There’s no doubt Scott Morrison is the best political tactician in Australia right now… Is it enough to be a clever political tactician, when key relationships with our nearest neighbours are at stake? Is it enough to play short term political tactics on something so profoundly important as the integrity of our political system or the assertion of our national interests?

“Australia’s Prime Minister needs to look beyond the next manoeuvre, stop undermining his foreign minister and trade minister, and develop a serious long-term plan for Australia’s engagement in the region and the world.

“A serious and long-term plan that can proactively navigate us through the strategic competition between the US and China, and manage this new phase in our relationship with a more assertive China.”




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View from The Hill: To go to China you have to be invited: Morrison


In a series of sharp criticisms of Morrison’s handling of the government’s policy towards China and foreign policy more generally, Wong includes as examples the PM’s claim Labor was using racism in its attack on Liberal MP Gladys Liu, his labelling of China a developed economy, and his attack on globalism.

Wong’s speech follows the blunt words on China on Friday from Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, who said the government had a very important relationship with China, but it was going to “call out” instances where the wrong thing was done.

“We have a very important trading relationship with China, incredibly important, but we’re not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced. We’re not going to allow theft of intellectual property and we’re not going to allow our government bodies or non-government bodies to be hacked into,”he said.

Dutton stressed the issue was not with the Chinese people or the local Chinese community in Australia, but with the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese embassy reacted with an angry statement, saying that Dutton’s “irrational accusations” were “shocking and baseless”, and a “malicious slur on the Communist Party of China” and “outright provocation to the Chinese people”.

“Such ridiculous rhetoric severely harms the mutual trust between China and Australia and betrays the common interests of the two peoples,” the statement said.

Morrison at the weekend sought to play down the Dutton comments. “What Peter was talking about was the fact that there are differences between Australia and the People’s Republic of China. Of course there are,” he said. Australia was a liberal western democracy; China was a Communist Party state. “I would warn against any sort of over-analysis or over-reaction to those comments. Because I think they just simply reflect the fact that we’re two different countries”.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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‘Developing’ rift points to growing divisions between Coalition and Labor on China


Tony Walker, La Trobe University

At last, a healthy divergence of views between the Coalition and Labor about how Australia might manage its relations with its cornerstone trading partner and rising power in its own region.

It is a debate that is long overdue.

We now have contrasting narratives between the Coalition government and the Labor opposition.

That contrast was given sharp expression at the weekend by deputy Labor leader Richard Marles in an interview on the ABC’s Insiders program.

Marles accused the government of mismanaging a “complex” relationship. After visiting Beijing last week for conversations with a range of Chinese opinion-leaders, he described relations as “terrible”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he said, had engaged in megaphone diplomacy on his visit to the United States, insisting China be regarded as a “developed” country for trade and other purposes. This includes its climate change obligations.

What we saw was the prime minister in the United States in the context of there being trade tensions between the US and China, and from there, taking pot shots against largest trading partner. The context in which he has engaged in this megaphone diplomacy is absolutely the issue, and it’s not the way in which this issue should be dealt with in a respectful way.

These observations might be taken with a pinch of salt from an opposition spokesman. But it is true that relations are now at a low ebb for a variety of reasons, some of the government’s making, some not.

Australia did not initiate a trade war, but fractious relations with China are collateral damage.

Significantly, what is emerging in Australian domestic politics is an erosion of what has been a bipartisan consensus on how to relate to China in what are very challenging circumstances.




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This is, potentially, a watershed moment in the evolution of the Australian policy towards China. This policy has, more or less, been settled business since Gough Whitlam normalised relations in 1972 as one of his first acts as prime minister.

Morrison’s embrace of American calls for China to be declared a developed country under World Trade Organisation rules means there is now a sharp point of difference between the government and opposition.

This is the nub of what the prime minister had to say on the issue to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

China’s economic growth is welcomed by Australia and we recognise the economic maturity that it has now realised as a newly developed economy… The world’s global institutions must adjust their settings for China in recognition of this new status. That means more will be expected, of course, as has always been the case for nations like the United States who’ve always had this standing.

Labor does not regard China as a “developed” country under World Trade Organisation auspices, nor, for that matter, does most of the rest of the world. This is an American preoccupation, now signed onto by Canberra.

Why it should have been necessary for Morrison to take sides in this debate is not clear. On the face of it, his interventions have been unwise.

What should be understood about emerging differences over China’s “developed” country status, is that it represents, in an Australian context, a wider divergence of views between the government and opposition on how to manage China’s rise.

The government believes China should be pulled into line. Labor is more circumspect while acknowledging that Beijing’s behaviour is exerting considerable – and unwelcome – stress on an international rules-based order.

Whether he pretends otherwise or not, Morrison has aligned Australia with the Donald Trump White House view of China as a mercantilist power seeking ruthlessly to extend its power and influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

In its mirroring of the US position, the government is indicating it believes China needs to have its wings clipped.

Morrison’s visit to the United States may come to be regarded, therefore, as a watershed moment in Australian foreign policy in which a choice was made.

Whether the government pretends otherwise or not, Morrison’s interventions on his US visit have been interpreted in Beijing as hostile.

Enter the Labor Party into this debate in a way that represents its boldest intervention in a foreign policy question since then Labor leader Simon Crean detached his party in 2003 from supporting the ill-fated rush to war in Iraq.

The difference between then and now is that getting policy settings right in the great US versus China debate is far more important to Australia’s well-being than an ill-conceived decision two decades ago that turned the Middle East upside down and empowered Iran.




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The view promulgated by former Prime Minister John Howard that Australia did not need to choose between its historical alignment with America and its geographical proximity to China is no longer sustainable.

The question now is how Australia positions itself between the elephants in the jungle to avoid getting crushed. Conspicuously siding with one of the elephants, unless necessary, would not seem to be the wisest course.

In all of this, one might spare a thought for Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, whose role has been to try to ensure Australia’s trade in merchandise and services is not harmed by a trade war between China and the United States.

Birmingham has been doing his best. He has not been helped by his leader’s injudicious remarks to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.The Conversation

Tony Walker, Adjunct Professor, School of Communications, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Albanese slams Morrison for using a “loud hailer” to talk to China from US


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Anthony Albanese has attacked Scott Morrison for sending a message to Beijing while in the United States, and also split with him over the economic status of China.

Albanese accused Morrison of using “a loud hailer” to talk to China during a visit in which he was seen to be very close to the American President, including “being a partner in what would appear to be some of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign there in Ohio”. This was a reference to their joint appearance at billionaire Anthony Pratt’s new paper recycling factory.

The opposition leader’s comments open a partisan rift at a time when Australia-China relations are at a low point.

In his address on foreign policy in Chicago, Morrison described China “as a newly developed economy”, and said it needed to reflect this new status in its trade arrangements and meeting environmental challenges.

But Albanese told the ABC China quite clearly was “still developing”.

“It is still an emerging economy”, he said, pointing to the disparity between China’s per capita income and that of advanced economies such as the US and Australia.

Albanese, who made a series of comments, suggested it was not constructive “to send a message to China from the US in the way that it has occurred”.




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While there was a legitimate debate around the World Trade Organisation system, “the conflict between China and the United States [over trade] is one that is not in Australia’s interests. We want that to be resolved rather than be overly partisan about it,” he said.

“Of course our alliance with the United States is our most important relationship. That won’t change. But we need to, I think, be very measured in our comments particularly comments from the United States in the context in which they’ve been given.”

If Morrison was sending a message to China “it would have been better sent from Australia so that there was no confusion that the Prime Minister was advancing Australia’s national interests.”

Morrison had changed “the characterisation of the entire Chinese economy from Chicago,” Albanese said. “Does he think that will be well received and will reduce tension between China and the United States over trade?”

In fact, while Morrison’s language on China’s economic status went further than before, he had gone a considerable way down this path previously. In a major address in June he said: “China’s rise has now reached a threshold level of economic maturity”, with its most successful provinces sometimes exceeding the economic sophistication of global competitors. Yet they enjoyed concessions on trade and environmental obligations not available to other developed economies, he said.

In his Chicago speech Morrison said there was a need to reduce trade tensions that had developed in recent years.

“China’s economic growth is welcomed by Australia and we recognise the economic maturity that it has now realised as a newly developed economy,” he said.

It was important this was reflected in its trade arrangements, participation in addressing important global environmental challenges, transparency in its partnerships and support for developing nations.

“All of this needs to reflect this new status and the responsibilities that go with it as a very major world power,” Morrison said.

He also said: “The world’s global institutions must adjust their settings for China, in recognition of this new status. That means more will be expected of course, as has always been the case for nations like the United States who’ve always had this standing.”

Asked at a news conference what he wanted China to do that it was not doing now, Morrison said the objective was that “similar rules will apply to countries of similar capabilities”.




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Meanwhile in a speech in Beijing this week Richard Marles, Labor’s deputy leader and defence spokesman, urged a deepening of Australia’s relations with China, including even at the defence level.

“I firmly believe it is possible for Australia to maintain our strong alliance with the United States while also deepening our engagement with China. In fact, not only is this possible, it is vital,” Marles said.

“And that must be obvious. Because from the perspective of Australia, the world looks a lot safer when the United States and China are talking to each other and improving their relations.

“And if this is our view, then it stands to reason that Australia’s interest lies in having the best possible relations we can with both the United States and China.

“And from the perspective of Australia the world also looks a lot more prosperous when China and the United States trade with each other.”

“Our starting point has to be that we respect China and deeply value our relationship with China. We must seek to build it. And not just in economic terms, but also through exploring political co-operation and even defence co-operation.

“To define China as an enemy is a profound mistake. To talk of a new Cold War is silly and ignorant,” Marles said.

Asked about the defence reference, Albanese played it down.




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View from The Hill: To go to China you have to be invited: Morrison


In a Tuesday speech in Jakarta, Labor’s shadow minister on foreign affairs Penny Wong said: “It is clear that the United States and China now treat each other as strategic competitors.

“The strategic competition in our region means we need to think carefully and engage actively to avoid becoming collateral. Great powers will do what great powers do – assert their interests. But the rest of us are not without our own agency,” she said.

“What our region is looking for is less a contest about who should be or will be number one, than how we foster partnerships of enduring connection and relevance”.

Wong said the US should “present a positive narrative and vision about the future, by articulating and presenting what it offers not only what it is against.”

“A greater focus on the likely settling point will enable the United States to recognise – and embrace – the fact that multi-polarity in the region is likely to get stronger.

“And in the context of Beijing’s ambitions, this growing multi-polarity – with countries like Indonesia, India and Japan playing increasingly important leadership roles in the region – is beneficial to Washington’s interests.

“Defining a realistic settling point will also help the United States recognise and accept that decisions relating to China will vary depending on the issues and interests at stake.”

Albanese also criticised Morrison for not attending the United Nations leaders summit on climate.

Morrison said that when he addresses the UN General Assembly this week: “I’ll be focusing very much on Australia’s response to the global environmental challenges. Which isn’t just climate change … it’s about plastics, it’s about oceans, it’s about recycling”.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Albanese says Voice must be in the Constitution


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says an Indigenous “Voice” to parliament must be enshrined in the Constitution.

His position, spelled out in a speech to be given on Saturday to the Garma Festival, makes it difficult to see how he and Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be able to agree on a referendum question.

Albanese says in his address, released ahead of delivery:

With a Voice in place, there can be truth-telling, and there can be Makaratta. […] It is clear to me that enshrining that Voice in the Constitution is what must come first.




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Morrison has been adamant there should be no reference to a Voice in what is inserted in the Constitution to recognise Australia’s First Peoples.

Without bipartisan support, a referendum would not have a chance of success and, indeed, would not be put.

Indigenous leaders in the Uluru Statement from the Heart called for “the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution”.

Albanese says:

I want a Voice and Truth then Treaty to be part of our nation’s journey, part of our national life. It’s not just about respect and redress. It’s about progress and change. It’s about moving out of the darkness

Although there is a gulf between Albanese and Morrison over what should go into the constitution, Albanese says he still hopes for bipartisanship.

“We have not yet had true reconciliation, and a country that is not truly reconciled is not truly whole. And until we are whole, we will never reach our truest potential as a nation – and we have so very much potential,” he says.

But how can we have reconciliation when one side has no voice?

The Voice is the bedrock upon which we must build.

I will take the fight to the government on so many things; never have any doubt about that. But on this we must work together. We must be together. My hope we can have bipartisanship on this remains alive.




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Politics with Michelle Grattan: Ken Wyatt on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians


Albanese says he is encouraged by “the tentative moves towards constitutional change” by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt. “I hope he gets the support he needs and deserves from his colleagues.”

He says he is also encouraged by “the epiphany experienced by Barnaby Joyce.

“After being part of the chorus pushing the myth that a Voice would amount to a third chamber in parliament, Mr Joyce did something unusual. He stopped. He listened. He asked questions from people with knowledge. […]

“Mr Joyce then went on television to own up to his mistake, and to explain why he’d been wrong. And he encouraged others who’d made the same mistake to follow his example.”

At Tuesday’s caucus meeting Pat Dodson, the opposition spokesman on Indigenous recognition, said constitutional recognition had now been decoupled from everything that was in the Uluru statement. Uluru had now shifted to “co-design with select individuals”, he said.

Dodson said there was no structure for formal consultations with First Nations. “Apparently the minister has a plan for consultation with the Coalition backbench and apparently with Pauline Hanson”, he said.

The challenge now was to “assist the minister without walking away with all the fleas and ticks that would undermine a principled position”, Dodson said.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Grattan on Friday: Labor battles to keep warm in a cold climate



Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s approach is for Labor to pick carefully which issues it takes to the wire.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Although his circumstances are vastly different, Anthony Albanese is in sync with Scott Morrison in using the authority of leadership to the maximum.

In Albanese’s case, this has ranged from his determination to expel rogue union official John Setka from the ALP (a work still in progress) to new question time tactics and the opposition’s handling of the government’s wedge politics on legislation.

As Labor continues to absorb the consequences of its defeat, this week Albanese gave his caucus a sharp lecture about the harsh realities of this parliament.

Highlighting that the post-election Senate crossbench is much less pliable for Labor, he said the situation was effectively akin to when the Howard government won control of the upper house.

Unable to secure amendments to legislation, “we will often be confronted with circumstances where we have to vote on an issue which involves measures we agree with and measures we disagree with”, Albanese said. “The government is wanting to focus on us, with claiming every piece of legislation is a test for Labor”.

Caucus earlier had been debating a bill combining child protection and mandatory sentencing. It agreed to back it, despite ALP policy being against mandatory sentencing.

Albanese’s tough talk was timely. In the just concluded parliamentary fortnight, the Coalition has used every opportunity to corner Labor, and it will go on doing so. On Thursday, it foreshadowed bringing back after the winter break legislation from last term for a drug-testing trial for some Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients.

It tries to maximise the pressure on Labor with its endlessly repeated challenge, “whose side are you on?” Eventually, this prompted a detailed listing by Albanese of who and what Labor sided with.

Given the situation in which it finds itself, Labor can’t win – it can only try to cope as best it can.

When it attacks government measures, and then votes for them, its critics denounce it as inconsistent. If it turned everything into a last-ditch fight, it would be cast as the perennial naysayer, and mostly it would lose anyway.

Albanese’s approach is for Labor to pick carefully which issues it takes to the wire.

Labor will oppose the bill to repeal the medevac legislation, the outcome of which will depend on Jacqui Lambie. It will also maintain its stand against the legislation to toughen the rules against bad behaviour by unions and their officials. But it has been voting with the government on security measures, albeit with some concerns.

Despite the opposition’s general impotence, Albanese’s revised question time tactic – precise questions trying to force answers rather than get TV grabs – is an improvement, and scored some hits on Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

So far, Albanese has managed to keep a demoralised team united, when it wouldn’t have been surprising to have seen massive bloodletting after an election that Labor should have won.

But it is very early days and there’ll be lots of arguments ahead as Labor digs into the reasons for its defeat and looks to refashion its policies. That debate will start to crystallise when the party’s election review is finished later in the year and as the deep dives begin on whether particular policies should be filleted or scrapped entirely.

Kim Carr, Senate veteran and former minister, writing in the July edition of The Tocsin (put out by the John Curtin Research Centre), has rejected the “just wipe the slate clean and start again” prescription, warning against simply concluding Labor’s “redistribution agenda, paid for by reform of the taxation system, was a fundamental mistake”. Rather, Carr argues, there was “a massive failure of messaging”.

“Labor failed because its messaging essentially appealed to affluent voters rather than to the blue-collar voters who provide – though not as strongly as was once the case – its core support, and who typically decide federal election outcomes,” Carr says.

“We paid insufficient attention to the anxieties and insecurities that working-class families have about the future,” he writes. “We lost the trust of too many of our own people, while paradoxically winning the trust of many voters in seats that have long been Liberal heartland.”

Finding ways to re-engage with these voters will be harder than identifying their loss. It can lead to some strange contortions.

Take the issue of coal, which cost Labor dearly in Queensland. When Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly (one of the anti-NEG cabal that helped bring down Malcolm Turnbull) last week challenged Labor’s resources spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, to co-chair his new Parliamentary Friends of Australian Coal Exports group, set up “to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable contribution that Australian coal exports make to our nation”, Fitzgibbon immediately agreed.

From the vantage point of Fitzgibbon, who holds the coal seat of Hunter in NSW, this sends a signal, on high volume, about his commitment, as well as saying something more generally about the ALP’s post-election position. Nevertheless, while participation doesn’t contradict Labor policy on climate change and coal, the Kelly-Fitzgibbon alliance does seem an odd coupling.

As the Labor team shakes down, Bill Shorten – still deeply bruised – emerged briefly in question time this week. But he and last term’s frontliners Chris Bowen and Tanya Plibersek remain near invisible.

In contrast, one player coming strongly into focus in the new Labor firmament is former NSW premier Kristina Keneally.

After the election, Keneally crashed through the internal party processes to become Labor’s deputy leader in the Senate. She shadows Peter Dutton in home affairs, and seems to be everywhere. This week she was in the headlines calling for controversial British right-wing activist Raheem Kassam to be banned from coming to Australia to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney next week.

Keneally even attracted an attack from Donald Trump’s son, Donald junior, who tweeted his condemnation.

It is difficult to judge how Albanese will fare this term but you can bet Keneally will be making plenty of splashes.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Anthony Albanese on Labor’s hard times


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Anthony Albanese has a blunt message for critics who are accusing Labor of attacking government measures but then voting for them. They should “examine the world as it is rather than as they would like it to be,” he says.

In the post-election reality the Senate will mostly support the government. This severely limits the opposition’s capacity to alter legislation.

In this podcast episode, Albanese defends Labor’s backing for the government’s $158 billion tax package, supports an increase in Newstart, and strongly argues the need to take the superannuation guarantee to 12%.

He remains confident in his ability to force the expulsion from the party of maverick unionist John Setka, regardless of the outcome of the court action Setka has brought. “That will happen. His values don’t fit the values of the ALP. It’s as simple as that,” he says. But he stays implacably opposed to the government’s Ensuring Integrity legislation to enable tougher action against erring union officials, saying Labor will vote against it.

Despite its problems at the election, Albanese believes Labor can successfully appeal to both working class aspirational voters and its progressive supporters, maintaining they have common interests in an ALP government.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Anthony Albanese has taken over the leadership of Labor at a particularly difficult time – after an unexpected election defeat that’s left the party shellshocked and demoralised. He has to drive a major re-evaluation of policy and in the meantime navigate the party’s way through the legislative wedges set up by a confident government. Amid the challenges he needs to keep his troops united. Anthony Albanese joins us today during a busy parliamentary week.

Anthony Albanese, you’ve been a senior minister, you’ve been deputy prime minister, but it’s often said that the job of opposition leader is the toughest in politics. What do you already see as the main challenges?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the main challenge is of course overcoming the significant disappointment that’s there from May 18, when there was an expectation that we’d be sitting on the government benches. So, properly examining why it is that we’re still the opposition and then moving forward in a positive way.

MG: In caucus today you likened the [present] situation to when the Howard government won a Senate majority [at the 2004 election]. Now this government doesn’t have a majority in the upper house, but are you saying that Labor can’t expect to get much support from the non-Green crossbenchers?

AA: Well quite clearly [the government has] an absolute majority in the House of Representatives. And in the Senate what we’ve seen so far is the Centre Alliance senators explicitly say that they want to negotiate with the government, because in their view if the Senate passes amendments and it goes back to the House and the House rejects it, then it won’t become practice – it won’t become law. So that’s the explicit view that they’ve put.

Then you get to the One Nation senators who are obviously closer to the Coalition than they are to Labor. And then you have Jacqui Lambie who I think is a genuine person who’ll make judgments. But on a range of issues won’t vote with Labor either. And then of course there’s Cory Bernardi who’s not really an independent – who has basically folded up his own party and is voting with the government so far 100% of the time.

So given that we have to get four senators to make a positive difference and three senators to block[…]it won’t happen very often, I don’t think. We’ll put out our cases but we can expect that the government will have a working majority in the Senate on most occasions. 

MG: It will probably lose though, or it may well lose depending on Jacqui Lambie, in its effort to repeal the Medevac bill, won’t it?

AA: Well I hope so. But on that case we only need three. It’s clear from Centre Alliance that they’ll vote with Labor but we will need Jacqui Lambie. But that’s an example. Yeah.

The best case scenario for Labor is essentially rely upon Jacqui Lambie in order to block or defeat legislation, which is different of course from a positive initiative where it needs Jacqui Lambie and effectively, it needs One Nation and Centre Alliance because you need four. So Jacqui Lambie plus either the other combinations doesn’t get you there.

MG: You also told caucus the government will often be wedging Labor so you’ll have to choose whether to support a measure when you agree with part of it but can’t amend the part that you disagree with. The tax package was an obvious example. How do you answer those – including in your own party – who will be critical when you attack legislation but then vote for it? 

AA: Well that they have to examine the world as it is rather than as they would like it to be. We’ve been delivered a Senate where there is one Labor senator from Queensland got elected out of six. So five non-Labor senators out of six to put it another way.

Now the consequences of that are that the government is close to a working majority. As a result of that, take the tax package. We went to the election supporting stage one of the tax cuts – they’re the only part that take effect during this term of parliament. It provides for tax relief through offsets for low and middle income earners. So for every nurse, every council worker, every child care worker, every person working in retail or hospitality, up to $1080.

Now today I noticed in Question Time that the Treasurer said that there were something like 32,000 was the figure he used in one electorate alone were receiving the full $1080 dollars. Now the idea that we could say to a nurse: yes we told you we would do this if we’re elected to government but we voted against you getting this money – money that you need, money also that the economy needs you to get and spend to boost consumer demand and to boost economic activity, is quite frankly untenable.

So we were faced with the reality of either voting for what we’re in favour of – Stage 1 and indeed Stage 2 of the tax cuts we said we’d support as well – or being defined by what we were against which is stage 3 of the tax cuts that go to higher income earners but don’t come in until 2024-2025.

MG: Now you have reserved the right to try to repeal those if and when you are in government. But isn’t that unrealistic?
AA: Well what we’ve said is we’ll have our own tax policy that will take to the election that will determine prior to the election in 2022. And we reserve the right to certainly do that.

But again that was to make the point that to say to someone we tried to block your $1080 that you’re going to get today because we’re concerned about something that might happen in six years time, in my view would have been an incorrect decision.

And that was reinforced to me by the fact that as of last week some 750,000 more taxpayers have put in their tax return this year than had at the same time last year. What that is, is 750,000 people at least additional who have noticed that they’re eligible for this up to $1080, have gone about organising their affairs so that they put in their tax returns to get this money, because they’re desperate to get it. And that’s the reality that we were confronted with. And it’s a decision that I believe was absolutely the right one to make.

MG: Let’s turn to national security. It’s long been Labor’s position to act in lockstep with the government in this area – after in some cases winning concessions. Now that we’ve seen excesses like the raids on the media do you think the ALP has just taken bipartisanship too far?

AA: Well I’ve said way back in 2014 about some of the national security laws, and it was reported, that we needed to examine the measures on their merits. And I thought that some of the statements I made at the time[…]indeed in an article I was quoted in a breakfast television interview as saying that that we’ve gone too far in supporting the Abbott government’s national security agenda and I expressed my concern that what would happen in particular to journalists is that the rights of the media would be constrained. Now I’ve been consistent about that the whole way through.

I’m very concerned about press freedom. When the raids occurred on Annika Smethurst and the ABC, the Prime Minister dismissed concerns frankly was his first response and quite clearly we need to value freedom of the press as an essential component of our democracy. 

MG: So are you going to give less bipartisan support than we’ve seen over the last half a dozen years?

AA: Well we’ll examine things on their merits.

MG: But you’ll be tougher?

AA: So yes we’ll certainly examine things on their merits and we’re prepared to take stances. On the issue of foreign fighter legislation that we’re dealing with now, we had amendments. We weren’t prepared though – if our amendments aren’t successful — to uphold the joint parliamentary committee’s recommendations, that it was essentially to give the power to a judge rather than to the minister to determine these issues.

If that wasn’t successful we weren’t prepared to vote against that legislation because quite frankly the idea that we would be responsible for someone coming back to Australia who wants to cause Australians harm overrode our concern about giving the minister more power.

MG: But are you prepared to be tougher on other areas?

AA: Yes. Yes we are. We will make judgments based upon the merits of legislation that been put forward. But I have expressed the issue of media freedom I think is something that the legislation does need re-examination. And we need to make sure that journalists and indeed whistleblowers, which is the second part of it, are given the protections that they need to ensure that a functioning democracy can occur.

And I think that the real question behind these issues is, what in the information that was published by journalists [Smethurst, ABC] was not in the national interest? What should have been kept secret? And my view is that all of the information published is in the national interest, particularly plans to eavesdrop on Australian citizens without their knowledge.

MG: So are you saying that you would want a wide review of current national security laws to see whether they need to be modified? And what precisely are you saying about changes that are needed relevant to the media?

AA: Well look I think in terms of national security we live in times that are uncertain. We live in a world where people do want to give us harm. So I’m not talking about opening up the full range of issues, and we need to ensure that the government’s responsibility to keep us safe is an important one.

But it’s the government that’s broken with bipartisanship here. Previously all of the recommendations from the [parliamentary] joint national security committee, the PJCIS, have been adopted. It’s the government that have walked away from that because that model is important because that committee can get in the intelligence services, get the information in camera confidentially if need be, and then act in accordance with their knowledge of that information which is brought forward.

Now I’m concerned that the government has broken with that bipartisanship. I certainly want to be bipartisan on these issues because I don’t want them to be the subject of political wrangling. I want them to be the subject of what do we need to do to keep Australians safe.

When it comes to the media, quite clearly I think that the issues raised by the journalists concerned are in the national interest – that that be public and the fact that we’ve seen such quite draconian action really with these raids is of real concern. And if we need to examine legislation quite frankly we can’t do that from opposition.

MG: No but there is an inquiry now going on into this question of confidentiality following the raids by that very committee you referred to. So will Labor take a robust stance into that inquiry?
AA: Oh look we’ve made it very clear that we’re concerned about media freedom and we’ll take action consistent with the views we’ve put forward.

MG: You’ve been very critical of Peter Dutton for having essentially too much power. Isn’t the logic of that criticism that the home affairs portfolio should be broken up to an extent?

AA: Well this was a government decision to form this portfolio but the question is how much of it was driven by what was good governance and how much was driven by Malcolm Turnbull’s desperation to keep Peter Dutton happy? Now that didn’t work out so well for either Peter Dutton or for Malcolm Turnbull.

So what we need is appropriate government arrangements. I was of the view, for example, that having the transport security issues in home affairs has removed some of the expertise which is there relating to the people who actually run airports and run airlines. But I don’t seek to make those issues partisan. I hope that the government considers good outcomes should be what we’re concerned about here.

MG: But Labor does not regard the present structure of home affairs as immutable forever?

AA: No and the truth is that that would be the case for the government as well but it shouldn’t be about the individual, who the individual minister is. It should be about how do we get the best outcomes.

MG: Let’s turn to Newstart. Labor’s now supporting an increase in Newstart. Does it matter that this would reduce the projected surplus? Is it more important than the quantum of the surplus?

AA: Well with respect, that’s not the right question in my view. The question is because governments aren’t just about Newstart and everything else remained static for example which is the assumption behind that question. Should Newstart be increased? The question is, is it too low? Is it keeping people in poverty? Is it restricting people’s capacity to get off Newstart because they don’t have enough money to be able to search for jobs?

MG: So you’re saying yes is the answer to those questions?

AA: The answer is clearly yes. And we asked the Prime Minister in parliament, could he survive on $40 a day. And essentially he didn’t answer the question.

MG: Could you?

AA: No no. Quite clearly it’s too low and it’s too low for the people who are Newstart recipients to survive on it. And that’s what they’re telling us so missing out on meals. They’re missing out on being able to afford to catch transport and to get to job interviews. They’re missing out on being able to dress appropriately to get to job interviews. It’s having an impact on their health.

And what’s more, an important factor here is that an increase in Newstart wouldn’t be a zero sum game. The Newstart recipients spend every cent that they get. That creates economic activity. That creates jobs. That means less people on Newstart as well. So there’s a boost to the economy and that’s why you have everyone from the Reserve Bank to the Business Council of Australia, the trade union movement, John Howard, Barnaby Joyce, the National Party – everyone except for Scott Morrison – saying that we need to do something about this.

MG: Now in another area of incomes, there’s debate now about whether the superannuation guarantee should go up from 9.5% to 12%, be phased up. It’s already legislated but some in the government want that changed – some on their backbench. Lots of young families would in fact prefer any extra money being available to them in the form of a wage rise that they can use now when they need the money rather than being put away in superannuation. Yet your policy is to go to the 12%. What’s your response to those families?

AA: My response is that the whole concept of compulsory superannuation relies upon the first word, “compulsory”.

It’s about a national savings scheme that has served over the long term, served individuals and families, exceptionally well and is the envy of the world. It’s a great reform by the Hawke-Keating government.

And lifting it up to 12% is a practical reform that will make an enormous difference to people’s lives and once you start fiddling around with that concept then you undermine the whole superannuation agenda that’s so important for individuals.

But I’ll make this point too. It’s important for the national interest because of the amount of money that is in funds that could then be used to promote economic activity and growth through investing that in infrastructure projects and other activity.

MG: I want to ask you a couple of questions about Indigenous affairs. On Indigenous recognition, the government and opposition seem to me to be miles apart on the crucial detail. You back a reference to an Indigenous “Voice to parliament” being inserted into the Constitution. Scott Morrison won’t have a bar of that. This referendum is simply not going to fly, is it?

AA: Well I hope that you’re wrong and I believe it is possible that you are. That will be up to the government. But quite clearly you can’t have recognition of First Nations people in our Constitution – that’s so important for the unity of our nation going forward – without taking into account what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves say they want.

MG: And that’s a reference to the Voice in the Constitution. And you support that?

AA: They had that commitment. I do support that. I do support that because they supported it. I’m not seeking to impose it on them. They had a process and came up with the unanimous Statement from the Heart at Uluru and it doesn’t represent a third chamber.

The other thing is is that it’s a reference to it in the Constitution. The outline of how the voice would work is a legislative one and legislated by the parliament that is elected and indigenous people I think have been very modest in what they have put forward.

It’s a practical idea which is pretty simple that they should be consulted – they don’t get a final determination, just consulted about matters that affect First Nations people. And I think that is a very reasonable proposition. I hope that the government can support it over a period of time we have seen, including in the last week, people like Barnaby Joyce changing his position.

MG: Now you’re going to the Garma Festival at the weekend. What will be your message there?

AA: Look I’m going to listen and to pay respect to First Nations people. It’s an important forum as well as a celebration of Indigenous culture.

We are very very privileged to live in the land with the oldest continuous civilisation on the planet and I’m looking forward to engaging while I’m there with whoever wants to have a chat. I’ll be giving a speech there as well reaffirming our support for constitutional recognition and a Voice. And I’ll be proud to be going there as well with Pat Dodson who has played such a critical role in reconciliation, and with Linda Burney and with Malarndirri McCarthy.

I hope Ken Wyatt is going as well, I hope and I think it’s a very good thing that there has been substantial progress.

The truth is you’re right in terms of constitutional recognition can only occur with bipartisanship. And I was given some hope by the fact that when I met with the Prime Minister we agreed that Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney would work together to see if there can be a common position going forward.

MG: Now on the vexed question about coal. Labor’s ambivalence about coal caused it a great deal of grief at the election. The Adani issue in particular. Now we hear that a parliamentary friends group for coal exports has been formed with Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly and your resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon as co-chairs. Are you comfortable with this and won’t many of your supporters believe it looks very odd?

AA: Well it’s not surprising that the Member for Hunter with such a very large electorate of coal miners supports the economic interests of the people that he’s elected to represent.

MG: It’s an odd couple though you must admit.

AA: Well I will admit that Craig Kelly is an odd fellow on most issues, but Labor’s view is very clear which is that climate change is real, that we need to act, that we need to transition to a clean energy economy, that we need to be engaged with the global community to take global action through processes like the UNFCCC that will take a proactive role.

The last Labor government of course the first thing that we did was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. We then tried to have an emissions trading scheme that was comprehensive that would have applied by the way to fugitive emissions and therefore would have had an impact on mining, it would have applied to transport across the board and of course the Greens and the coalition got together to scuttle that not once but twice and had that not happened, I think we might never have seen Prime Minister Abbott but it did.

And then of course what we’ve seen after the change of government in 2013 is a government that doesn’t have an energy policy at all.
So renewables will play an increasingly important part. We had a strong policy going to the election on climate change. We’ll have a strong policy again. It will reflect the circumstances that we find ourselves in in 2022.

But Labor’s position is very clear which is that climate change is real. We need to listen to the science and we need to respond.

MG: Now on an internal problem that’s causing you a bit of difficulty. You’re committed to expelling maverick union official John Setka from the ALP. Are you still sure you can actually do this regardless of whether he wins or loses the court action he’s undertaken to try and stop you doing it?

AA: Well he’s been suspended …

MG: But can you get rid of him?

AA: Absolutely. And that will happen. His values don’t fit the values of the ALP. It’s as simple as that.

MG: Are there any amendments that would persuade Labor to support the Government’s legislation that’s aimed at toughening the law against bad behaviour by union officials like Setka?

AA: Well there are laws in place right now.

MG: But now the parliament is considering a law for tougher action.

AA: And we’ll be voting against it because there are laws there right now.

What this what this government is obsessed about is attacking the trade union movement, attacking its very existence. They don’t seem to care about occupational health and safety at work sites, they don’t care about the fact that wages are stagnant, they don’t care about stolen wages and we’ve seen some very significant cases particularly in the hospitality industry with very prominent people involved.

They don’t care about the fact that the wage stagnation is a real constraint on the economy that’s been identified by every economist. They don’t care about the fact that enterprise bargaining system isn’t really working properly in terms of wages being allowed to grow, and they are just obsessed by attacking trade unions.
I’d say to the government, what you should be bringing into parliament is legislation that will assist in growing wages and improving living standards. Legislation that treats people the same way whether they’re workers or employers.

This [Ensuring Integrity] legislation doesn’t provide any consistency with the behaviour of corporations or corporate executives with what is proposed for ordinary workers. The majority of people who would be impacted by this legislation aren’t people who are trade union officials – they’re volunteers who give up their time to participate to assist their fellow workers.

MG: Now just finally, you’ve been highly critical of Labor’s failure to appeal to aspirational voters at the election. What is your message now to your two key, but sometimes separate, constituencies – working class aspirationals and progressive voters?

AA: Well that there’s those common interests in having a Labor government. A Labor government’s all about creating opportunity, in lifting people up and making sure that what they want, regardless of whether there are blue collar workers or whether they’re lawyers or tertiary educated people.

To my mind they have a common theme to their life which is they want their kids to have more opportunities and better living standards than they ensured themselves.

They also want to have an environment that’s at least as pristine as the one that they got to enjoy.

So I don’t buy the the argument that there’s these two completely distinct constituencies of Labor. I think that as I go around the country I think that they have much more in common.

People who have an outlook which is one of caring about their community. And when I talk about aspiration as well people want to aspire to better living standards, to better jobs for themselves. But they want something more than that. They want better living standards and a better quality of life for their family, for their neighbours, for their community, and indeed for their country.

MG: Anthony Albanese thank you for talking with us today. And that’s all from this podcast. We’ll have another interview soon. Thank you to my producer Rashna Farrukh. Goodbye for now.

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AAP/LUKAS COCHThe Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labor sets up review into election loss as top official falls on his sword



Labor National Secretary Noah Carroll is stepping down following the party’s surprise election loss in May.
Lukas Coch/AAP

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Labor National Secretary Noah Carroll has resigned and the party’s national executive has set up a review to examine its election campaign performance and the reasons for the unexpected loss.

The post mortem will be jointly headed by former South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and former federal minister Craig Emerson.

Other members of the committee are Linda White, an official of the Australian Services Union; Queensland Senator Anthony Chisholm, a former state secretary; John Graham, a member of the NSW upper house and a former state assistant general secretary, and Lenda Oshalem, formerly an official in the Western Australian branch of the party.

The review will be wide-ranging but done quickly, reporting in October.

It will look at Labor’s campaign strategy and organisation, including digital campaigning, engagement with unions and third-party campaigns, fund-raising, policy, preference negotiations and strategy, polling, candidate selection, target seat campaigning, media strategy, gender diversity in the campaign, and the methods used by opponents that were particularly effective against the party.




Read more:
Labor’s election loss was not a surprise if you take historical trends into account


After the party’s shock loss in May, stories emerged of tensions in the campaign, with a good deal of blame shifting over the result. Carroll, who is from the right and as Victorian secretary had run the successful 2014 state campaign, had both detractors and supporters.

One issue of controversy revolved around party research. John Utting, who had a long record running polling for the party, was replaced by YouGov Galaxy for quantitative polling. Utting did just the qualitative (focus group) research.

Assistant secretary Paul Erickson will become acting national secretary until a replacement for Carroll is decided.

The Friday executive meeting had been due to consider the expulsion of construction union official John Setka, but he has been given until July 15 to prepare his defence. Meanwhile, he has launched legal action to try to stymie his expulsion.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Setka would not succeed in heading off his ousting.

Albanese began his move against Setka on the ground he had denigrated anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty at a private union meeting – a claim that is contested. But Albanese has also said Setka should be thrown out of the party because of his general behaviour. He recently pleaded guilty to harassing his wife with a plethora of offensive text messages.




Read more:
Setka furore opens division within the labour movement – and there is no easy solution


Albanese said on Friday he was not surprised Setka had started legal proceedings.

It always going to be the case given Mr Setka’s background in litigation. But the fact is that the Australian Labor Party has the right to determine who we want to be members, just like any organisation.

If a footy player, rugby league or AFL, had pleaded guilty essentially to two issues relating to harassment of a woman they’d be sacked by their club. We’ll sack John Setka and we’ll do it on July 15.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Difficult for Labor to win in 2022 using new pendulum, plus Senate and House preference flows



Unless Labor improves markedly with the lower-educated, they risk losing the seat count while winning the popular vote at the next election.
AAP/Dan Peled

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Australian elections have been won in outer metropolitan and regional electorates, but Labor did badly in swing terms in those types of seats at the May 18 election. In inner metropolitan areas, where Labor had swings in its favour, most seats are safe for one side or the other.

You can see this particularly in Queensland. The provincial seat of Capricornia blew out from a 0.6% LNP margin to 12.4%, the outer metropolitan seat of Forde from 0.6% to 8.6% and the rural seat of Flynn from 1.0% to 8.7%.

In NSW, the rural seat of Page went from a 2.3% to a 9.5% Nationals margin, and the provincial seat of Robertson from a 1.1% to 4.2% Liberal margin. Even in Victoria, the only state to swing to Labor in two party terms, the outer metropolitan seat of La Trobe, went from a 3.5% to a 4.5% Liberal margin.

Ignoring seats with strong independent challengers like Warringah and Wentworth, the biggest swings to Labor occurred in seats already held by Labor, or safe conservative seats. There was a 6.4% swing to Labor in Julie Bishop’s old seat of Curtin, but the Liberals still hold it by a 14.3% margin. The Liberals hold Higgins by a 3.9% margin despite a 6.1% swing to Labor.

After the election, the Coalition holds 77 of the 151 seats and Labor 68. Assuming there is no net change in the six crossbenchers, Labor will require a swing of 0.6% to gain the two seats needed to deprive the Coalition of a majority (Bass and Chisholm). To win more seats than the Coalition, Labor needs to gain five seats, a 3.1% swing. To win a majority (76 seats), Labor needs to gain eight seats, a 3.9% swing.

As Labor won 48.5% of the two-party vote at the election, it needs 49.1% to deprive the Coalition of a majority, 51.6% to win more seats than the Coalition, and 52.4% for a Labor majority. Mayo and Warringah were not counted in swings required as they are held by crossbenchers. Warringah is likely to be better for the Liberals in 2022 without Tony Abbott running.

It will be a bit harder for Labor than the 0.6% swing notionally needed to cost the Coalition a majority, as the Liberals now have a sitting member in Chisholm and defeated a Labor member in Bass. The Liberals will thus gain from personal vote effects in both seats.

There will be redistributions before the next election, which are likely to affect margins. But unless Labor improves markedly with the lower-educated, they risk losing the seat count while winning the popular vote at the next election.

Had the polls for this election been about right and Labor had won by 51.0-49.0 (2.5% better than their actual vote), they would have added just three seats – Bass, Chisholm and Boothby – and the Coalition would have had a 74-71 seat lead.




Read more:
Final 2019 election results: education divide explains the Coalition’s upset victory


House preference flows

The Electoral Commission will eventually release details of how every minor party’s preferences flowed between Labor and the Coalition nationally and for each state, but this data is not available yet. However, we can make some deductions.

Nationally, Labor won 60.0% of all minor party preferences, down from 64.2% in 2016. This partly reflects the Greens share of all others falling from 44.0% in 2016 to 41.2%, but it also reflects more right-wing preference sources like One Nation and the United Australia Party (UAP). Had preferences from all parties flowed as they did in 2016, Labor would have won 49.2% of the two party vote, 0.7% higher than their actual vote.

In Queensland, Labor’s preference share dropped dramatically from 57.9% in 2016 to just 50.2%, even though the Greens share of all others rose slightly to 34.8% from 34.1% in 2016. Of the 29.6% who voted for a minor party in Queensland, the Greens won 10.3%, One Nation 8.9%, the UAP 3.5%, Katter’s Australian Party 2.5% and Fraser Anning’s party 1.8%. The flow of these right-wing preferences to the LNP almost compensated for Greens preferences to Labor.

Parties like One Nation and the UAP would have attracted most of their support from lower-educated voters who despised Labor and Bill Shorten. As I wrote in my previous article, there was a swing to the Coalition with lower-educated voters.

Final Senate results: Coalition has strong position

In the Senate that sits from July 1, the Coalition will hold 35 of the 76 senators, Labor 26, the Greens nine, One Nation two, Centre Alliance two, and one each for Cory Bernardi and Jacqui Lambie. The final Senate results were the same as in my June 3 preview of the likely Senate outcome.




Read more:
Coalition likely to have strong Senate position as their Senate vote jumps 3%


The table below gives the senators elected for each state at this half-Senate election. A total of 40 of the 76 senators were up for election. The one “Other” senator is Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania. The table has been augmented with a percentage of seats won and a percentage of national Senate votes won at the election.

Final Senate results by state in 2019.

There was a small swing in late counting against the Coalition. When I wrote my previous Senate article, they had 38.3% of the national Senate vote (up 3.1%). They ended with 38.0% (up 2.8%).

The Senate results are not very proportional, but this is mostly a consequence of electing six senators per state. If all 40 senators were elected nationally, the outcome would be far more proportional to vote share.

The Coalition and Greens benefitted from having large fractions of quotas on primary votes, which Labor and One Nation did not have in most states. Lambie was the only “Other” to poll a large fraction of a quota, and so she is the only Other to win.

Changes in Senate seats since the pre-election parliament were Coalition up four, Lambie up one, Labor, Greens and One Nation steady, and the Liberal Democrats, Brian Burston, Derryn Hinch, Tim Storer and Fraser Anning all lost their seats.

Ignoring Bernardi’s defection from the Coalition, changes since the 2016 double-dissolution election were Coalition up six, Labor and Greens steady, One Nation down two, and Family First, Liberal Democrats, Hinch and Centre Alliance all down one.

Senate preference flows for each state

In the Senate, voters are asked to number six boxes above the line or 12 below, though only one above or six below is required for a formal vote. All preferences are now voter-directed.

With six senators to be elected in each state, a quota was one-seventh of the vote, or 14.3%. In no state was there a narrow margin between the sixth elected senator and the next closest candidate. Preference information is sourced from The Poll Bludger for Queensland, Victoria, WA and SA here, for NSW here and for Tasmania here.

In NSW, the Coalition had 2.69 quotas on primary votes, Labor 2.08, the Greens 0.61 and One Nation 0.34. Jim Molan won 2.9% or 0.20 quotas from fourth on the Coalition ticket on below the line votes, but was excluded a long way from the end. The Greens and third Coalition candidate each got almost a quota with One Nation trailing well behind.

In Victoria, the Coalition had 2.51 quotas, Labor 2.17, the Greens 0.74 and One Nation and Hinch both 0.19. Hinch finished seventh ahead of One Nation, but was unable to close on the Coalition, with the third Coalition candidate elected just short of a quota. The Greens crossed quota earlier on Labor preferences.

In Queensland, the LNP had 2.72 quotas, Labor 1.57, One Nation 0.71 and the Greens 0.69. One Nation and the LNP’s third candidate, in that order, crossed quota, and the Greens extended their lead over Labor’s second candidate from 1.8% to 2.7% after preferences.

In WA, the Liberals had 2.86 quotas, Labor 1.93, the Greens 0.82 and One Nation 0.41. The third Liberal, second Labor and Greens passed quota in that order with One Nation well behind. The Liberals beat Labor to quota on Nationals and Shooters preferences.

In SA, the Liberals had 2.64 quotas, Labor 2.12, the Greens 0.76 and One Nation 0.34. The Greens and third Liberal, in that order, reached quota well ahead of One Nation.

In Tasmania, the Liberals had 2.20 quotas, Labor 2.14, the Greens 0.87, Lambie 0.62 and One Nation 0.24. Lisa Singh, who won from sixth on Labor’s ticket on below the line votes in 2016, had 5.7% or 0.40 quotas this time in below the line votes. On her exclusion, Labor’s second candidate and Lambie were elected with quotas, well ahead of One Nation; the Greens had crossed quota earlier.

Analyst Kevin Bonham has a detailed review of the Senate system’s performance at this election, after it was introduced before the 2016 election. One thing that should be improved is the issue of preferences for “empty box” groups above the line. Such boxes without a name beside them confused voters, and these groups received far fewer preferences than they would have done with a name.

UK Conservative leadership: Johnson vs Hunt

On June 20, UK Conservative MPs finished winnowing the field of ten leadership candidates down to two. In the final round, Boris Johnson won 160 of the 313 Conservative MPs, Jeremy Hunt 77 and Michael Gove was eliminated with 75 votes.

Johnson and Hunt will now go to the full Conservative membership in a postal ballot expected to conclude by mid-July. Johnson is the heavy favourite to win, and become the next British PM. I will have a fuller report for The Poll Bludger by tomorrow.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Grattan on Friday: Those tax cuts test Albanese and provoke Hanson


The proposed 3 stage tax plan will cost $158 billion.
Shutterstock

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As hissy fits go, it was a beauty. Pauline Hanson was very cross indeed. Senate leader Mathias Cormann hadn’t called her, even though he was reportedly negotiating on the government’s $158 billion package of income tax cuts.

Venting on Sky on Wednesday night, Hanson said: “I don’t think he’s got the guts to pick up the phone and actually talk to me. And to turn around and say that he’s negotiating with crossbenchers is not the truth, because he’s not negotiating with me”.

She went on to rail about the Liberals preferencing One Nation below Labor, doing “grubby deals” with Clive Palmer and trying to destroy her.

The three-stage 10-year package, which promises an extra tax offset for low and middle income earners, is the big game in town for the first days of the new parliament, which opens the week after next, and it’s causing some grief.




Read more:
Frydenberg declares tax package must be passed ‘in its entirety’


Despite the government’s confident words during the election campaign, the Tax Office has declined to pay the offset of up to $540 until the legislation is passed. This means the July 1 deadline from when the offset was supposed to be available will be missed. (Although people will get from July 1 the tax cut in the pipeline from last year’s budget.)

If the tax legislation is passed quickly, a few weeks’ delay for the offset is no big deal, especially as many people won’t be putting in their tax returns for a while. But the pressure on the government to deliver the first stage of its plan ASAP – not least because the economy needs the stimulus – reduces its ability to hold out indefinitely on its insistence it won’t split the package to accommodate objections to the later cuts.

Labor is in even more of a bind. It is happy to tick off the first stage – worth $15 billion – but has yet to decide its position on stages two (costing $48 billion and starting 2022-23) and three (costing $95 billion and commencing 2024-25).

Its objections are particularly to the last stage, which delivers cuts for higher income earners. Both the later stages come after the next election, due early 2022.

Those urging Labor should try to block at least stage three argue, apart from the equity issue, that mounting economic uncertainty makes it irresponsible to lock in such big tax cuts out in the “never never”.

On the other hand, a strong case can be made on grounds of principle and practicality for Labor to wave the whole package through.

The question of when a party or politician has a “mandate” is vexed.

On one view an opposition can claim it possesses a mandate to stay faithful to positions it advanced before an election even after it has lost that election.

But when the Morrison government went to the polls with the tax package as its prime policy, it does seem to have a strong case to say the parliament should pass it.

The same point would have applied if Bill Shorten had won. He would have had a mandate for his proposed changes to franking credits and negative gearing – both opposed by the Coalition.




Read more:
Mine are bigger than yours. Labor’s surpluses are the Coalition’s worst nightmare


It doesn’t help maintain faith in the political system, or in election promises, for parties to try to govern from opposition, despite the Senate’s voting system sometimes facilitating this. Voters should be able to expect that major election policies of the winning side are implemented (perhaps with some alterations at the edges by parliament).

It is another matter when, as happened with the Abbott government’s 2014 budget, big new controversial initiatives are brought in soon after the election campaign, during which they were not flagged.

The practical reason against Labor going to the barricades on the tax package is that as it regroups, there is little to be gained by taking on this particular battle, especially when it is trying to reposition itself as appealing better to “aspirational” voters and leaving behind language attacking the “top end of town”.

Labor might be right that the proposed long term tax cuts could look irresponsible later, but if so, that is a fight to be had at the next election, when the ALP could highlight doubts it had previously registered.

There are divisions in Labor about what to do. Victorian MP Peter Khalil this week said if the government won’t split the package, Labor should vote for it all. Anne Aly, a backbencher from Western Australia, expressed concern about the package’s implications against a darkening economic outlook. The ALP has asked the government for more information. Anthony Albanese is consulting within the party before shadow cabinet decides the position it takes to caucus.

While the government is focusing the rhetorical pressure on Labor, it has an eye to the alternative route – to get the package through via the crossbench.




Read more:
Coalition likely to have strong Senate position as their Senate vote jumps 3%


For Cormann, the new Senate is easier than the last, partly because the non-Green crossbench has been slashed at the election.

To pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens the government needs four of the six non-Green crossbenchers. These include two from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, two from Centre Alliance, South Australia’s Cory Bernardi, and Tasmania’s Jacqui Lambie.

Bernardi will vote with the Coalition. He has said he wants to help the Morrison government as much as possible, and on Thursday he announced he is winding up his Australian Conservatives party. It’s not clear whether he’ll seek to rejoin the Liberals, from whom he defected in 2017, or even stay in the parliament.

Cormann has been in discussion with Centre Alliance about their push for lower gas prices, and an agreement on some action appears likely. While this deal is formally separate from the tax package, he and they both have that front of mind.

This would leave one vote to be collected.

Lambie refuses to comment on her position. Hanson said earlier this month she was “not sold” on the current package and “therefore not likely to support the measures” – and proposed some of the funds be used for a coal-fired power station and a water security scheme.

After Wednesday’s outburst, Cormann was (of course) on the phone to her at crack of dawn Thursday. On her account, he said: “I’m not negotiating with crossbenchers with this at all. We have our three stages. We’re going to pass that no matter what”.

The government aims to keep the heat on Albanese. By the same token, if the crossbench has to come into play, Cormann won’t want a repeat of last term, when he couldn’t muster the numbers to deliver tax relief to big companies.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Final 2019 election results: education divide explains the Coalition’s upset victory


The most important reason for the Coalition’s victory was that Morrison was both liked and trusted by lower-educated voters, while Labor leader Bill Shorten was not.
Mick Tsikas/AAP

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

At the May 18 election, the size of the lower house was expanded from 150 to 151 seats. The Coalition parties won 77 seats (up one since the 2016 election), Labor 68 (down one) and the crossbench six (up one). The Coalition government holds a three-seat majority.

Owing to redistributions and the loss of Wentworth to independent Kerryn Phelps at an October 2018 byelection, the Coalition notionally had 73 seats before the election, a one-seat advantage over Labor. Using this measure, the Coalition gained a net four seats in the election.

The Coalition gained the Queensland seats of Herbert and Longman, the Tasmanian seats of Braddon and Bass, and the New South Wales seat of Lindsay. Labor’s only offsetting gain was the NSW seat of Gilmore. Corangamite and Dunkley are not counted as Labor gains as they were redistributed into notional Labor seats.

Four of the six pre-election crossbenchers easily held their seats – Adam Bandt (Melbourne), Andrew Wilkie (Clark), Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo) and Bob Katter (Kennedy). The Liberals narrowly regained Wentworth from Phelps, but independent Zali Steggall thrashed Tony Abbott 57%-43% in Warringah. In Indi, independent Helen Haines succeeded retiring independent Cathy McGowan, defeating the Liberals by 51.4%-48.6%.




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Scott Morrison hails ‘miracle’ as Coalition snatches unexpected victory


The Coalition easily defeated independent challengers in Cowper and Farrer.

While Bandt was re-elected, the Greens went backwards in their other inner-Melbourne target seats of Wills and Cooper. Only in Kooyong did the Greens manage to beat Labor into second.

The final primary votes were 41.4% Coalition (down 0.6%), 33.3% Labor (down 1.4%), 10.4% Greens (up 0.2%), 3.4% United Australia Party (UAP) and 3.1% One Nation (up 1.8%).

The final two-party vote was 51.5% for the Coalition to 48.5% for Labor, a 1.2% swing in the Coalition’s favour from the 2016 election. It is the first pro-government swing since the 2004 election.

It was expected the Coalition would do better once the 15 “non-classic” seats were included; these are seats where the final two candidates were not Coalition and Labor. However, 11 of these seats swung to Labor, including a 9.0% swing in Warringah and a 7.9% swing in Wentworth. Eight non-classics were inner-city electorates that tended to swing to Labor.

The table below shows the number of seats in each state and territory, the Coalition’s number of seats, the Coalition’s percentage of seats, the gains for the Coalition compared to the redistribution, the Coalition’s two-party vote, the swing to the Coalition in two-party terms, and the number of Labor seats.

Final seats won and votes cast in the House for each state and nationally.

Four of the six states recorded swings to the Coalition in the range from 0.9% to 1.6%. Victoria was the only state that swung to Labor, by 1.3%. Queensland had a 4.3% swing to the Coalition, far larger than any other state. Labor did well to win a majority of NSW seats despite losing the two-party vote convincingly.

Official turnout in the election was 91.9%, up 0.9% from 2016. Analyst Ben Raue says 96.8% of eligible voters were enrolled, the highest ever. That means effective turnout was 89.0% of the population, up 2.6%.

Education divide explains Coalition’s win

Not only did Steggall thump Abbott in Warringah, the electorate’s 9.0% swing to Labor on a two-party basis was the largest swing to Labor in the country. Abbott’s two-party vote percentage of 52.1% was by far the lowest for a conservative candidate against Labor since Warringah’s creation in 1922; the next lowest was 59.5% in 2007.

While Abbott did badly, other divisive Coalition MPs performed well. Barnaby Joyce won 54.8% of the primary vote in New England and gained a 1.2% two-party swing against Labor. Peter Dutton had a 3.0% two-party swing to him in Dickson, and George Christensen had a massive 11.2% two-party swing to him in Dawson, the second-largest for the Coalition nationally.

According to the 2016 census, 42% of those aged 16 and over in Warringah had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 22% in Australia overall. Just 13.5% had at least a bachelor’s degree in New England, 19% in Dickson and 12% in Dawson.

In Victoria, which swung to Labor, 24.3% of the population had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016, the highest of any state in the nation.

The Grattan Institute has charted swings to Labor and the Coalition, taking into account wealth and tertiary education. Only polling booths in the top-income quintile swung to Labor; the other four income quintiles swung to the Coalition.

Areas with low levels of tertiary education swung strongly to the Coalition in NSW and Queensland, but less so in Victoria. There were solid swings to Labor in areas with high levels of tertiary education.

Some of the swings are explained by contrary swings in 2016, when the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull performed relatively worse in lower-educated areas and better in higher-educated areas. However, Queensland’s 58.4% two-party vote for the Coalition was 1.4% better than at the 2013 election, even though the national result is 2.0% worse. The large swings to the Coalition in regional Queensland are probably partly due to the Adani coal mine issue.

Morrison’s appeal to lower-educated voters

Since becoming prime minister, Scott Morrison’s Newspoll ratings have been roughly neutral, with about as many people saying they are satisfied with him as those dissatisfied. After Morrison became leader, I suggested on my personal website that the Coalition would struggle with educated voters, and this occurred in the election. However, Morrison’s appeal to those with a lower level of education more than compensated.

In my opinion, the most important reason for the Coalition’s upset victory was that Morrison was both liked and trusted by lower-educated voters, while they neither liked nor trusted Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Earlier this month, The Guardian published a long report on the social media “death tax” scare campaign. While this and other Coalition scare campaigns may have had an impact on the result, they did so by playing into lower-educated voters’ distrust of Shorten. Had these voters trusted Shorten, such scare campaigns would have had less influence.




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Labor’s election loss was not a surprise if you take historical trends into account


Labor also ran scare campaign ads attacking Morrison for deals with Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson. But I believe these ads failed to resonate because lower-educated voters liked Morrison better.

I think Morrison won support from the lower-educated because they are sceptical of “inner-city elites”. The Coalition leader emphasised his non-elite attributes during the campaign, such as by playing sport and going to church. Turnbull was perceived as a member of the elite, which could explain swings to Labor in lower-educated areas in 2016.

Parallels can be drawn to the 2017 election in the UK. Labour performed far better than expected in the election, reducing the Conservatives to a minority government when they were expected to win easily. Labour had adopted a pro-Brexit position, which may have sent a message to lower-educated voters that they could support the party.

This offers an option for Australian Labor to try to win back support from lower-educated voters: adopt a hardline immigration policy. Votes that Labor would lose to the Greens by doing this would likely be returned as preferences.

See also my similar article on how Donald Trump won the US 2016 presidential election.

The problem with the polls

The table below shows all national polls released in the final week compared to the election result. A poll estimate within 1% of the actual result is in bold.

Federal polls compared with election results, 2019.
Author provided

The polls did well on the One Nation and UAP votes, and were a little low on the Greens. The major source of error was that Labor’s vote was overstated and the Coalition’s was understated. Only Ipsos had Labor’s vote right, but it overstated the Greens vote by about three points – a common occurrence for Ipsos.

No poll since July 2018 had given the Coalition a primary vote of at least 40%. In the election, the Coalition parties received 41.4% of the vote.

As I said in my post-election write-up, it is likely that polls oversampled educated voters.




Read more:
Coalition wins election but Abbott loses Warringah, plus how the polls got it so wrong


Seat polls during the campaign were almost all from YouGov Galaxy, which conducts Newspoll. The Poll Bludger says these polls were, like the national polls, biased against the Coalition.

Analyst Peter Brent has calculated the two-party vote for all election-day and early votes. The gap between election day and early votes increased to 5.0% in 2019 from 4.6% in 2016. This does not imply that polls missed because of a dramatic late swing to the Coalition in the final days; it is much more likely the polls have been wrong for a long time.

Boris Johnson very likely to be Britain’s next PM, and left wins Danish election

I wrote for The Poll Bludger on June 14 that, after winning the support of 114 of the 313 Conservative MPs in the first round of voting, Boris Johnson is virtually assured of becoming the next British PM. Polls suggest he will boost the Conservative vote.

I also wrote on my personal website on June 6 about the left’s win in the Danish election. Also covered: a new Israeli election, the German Greens’ surge, and the left gaining a seat in the May 4 Tasmanian upper house periodical elections.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.