Undecided Queensland voters disillusioned with Palaszczuk, suspicious of Nicholls


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Queensland “soft” voters are deeply disillusioned with both the Palaszczuk government and the Nicholls opposition, with many predicting a hung parliament from the November 25 state election, according to focus group research.

These voters are dismayed by the quality of Queensland’s political leadership, and struggling to find reasons to vote for the Labor government or the Liberal National Party alternative. Their votes are drifting somewhat toward minor parties and independents. If there’s a hung parliament, the majors will have themselves to blame.

Soft voters’ feelings about the controversial proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine – a high-profile issue in the campaign’s early stages – are complicated, with many believing the mine will be economically beneficial, but doubts about a publicly funded loan for its railway, and deep cynicism about Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s backflip on the issue.

Federally, many of these voters see Malcolm Turnbull’s ability to turn a “yes” result on same-sex marriage – if that’s the outcome of the postal ballot – into legislation quickly as a decisive test of the prime minister’s leadership.

The groups, two in each of Brisbane and Townsville, were conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. The participants hadn’t yet decided how they would vote. Ages ranged from 18 to 75, with a mix of gender and socioeconomic backgrounds. Landscape Research conducted the research for the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis.

Brisbane participants were predominantly drawn from the Queensland marginal electorates of Ferny Grove (ALP 0.82%) and Everton (LNP 1.77%), in the marginal federal LNP electorate of Dickson. Townsville participants were predominantly drawn from the marginal electorates of Mundingburra (ALP 2.76%) and Townsville (ALP 5.69%) in the marginal federal Labor electorate of Herbert.

The participants’ criticism of the big parties and their interest in small players reflect trends shown in recent quantitative polling.

“Major parties concentrate too much on negatives and not new policies,” complained a retired Brisbane retail worker; a Townsville worker said: “everyone’s going to independents. They’re sick of lies.”

“No matter what happens here, the independents will have a louder voice,” said a Townsville police officer.

Despite their criticisms of the major parties and the state’s leadership, these voters are more optimistic than pessimistic about Queensland’s future, seeing at least small signs of economic improvement, more jobs, and hospitals and schools being built. “The economy is starting to turn around, we’ve been through the worst of things,” said one.

The main issues of concern shared by soft voters in both places are the cost of living, including power prices, roads and traffic congestion, and crime. In Townsville water security is a particular priority.

On Adani, there are some worries about possible environmental implications, including for the Great Barrier Reef. But many are attracted to the potential economic benefits – wealth and direct and indirect jobs.

Nevertheless, these voters hesitate about funds from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) helping an overseas company make a profit, when the money could be used for other things, such as Townsville’s water.

People were scathing about Palaszczuk’s about-turn, in announcing a re-elected Labor government would veto NAIF funding for the mine’s railway. They see her pandering to “greenies” at the expense of hard-working Queenslanders. Some regard the fallout as “disastrous” for her, who’s also criticised for calling the election immediately after she denied she’d do so.

“She’s a straight bare-faced liar,” was the acerbic assessment of one Townsville participant.

For many, Palaszczuk hasn’t done enough to get their vote again; some pointed to her rocky start in the campaign, and concerns lingered about union influence on Labor.

But despite her perceived drawbacks, many of these soft voters are still leaning toward voting Labor. Their reasons include that Palaszczuk is better than the alternative; they like their local MP; and they want this time to have majority government and believe the ALP has a better chance than the LNP of achieving that. “Better the devil you know,” a Brisbane female executive assistant felt.

For some, Tim Nicholls embodies the ghost of Campbell Newman, the former premier dispatched in the massive swing of 2015. Nicholls and his team carry the baggage of the past. “I don’t trust the LNP because those people are still there,” one participant said.

But others favour the LNP on economic grounds; they “potentially manage the economy better,” in the view of a Townsville small-business-owner.

Given their negativity toward the major parties, some soft voters are looking seriously at minor party and independent alternatives. In Townsville, One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) are appealing. One Nation and KAP have done a preference deal.

In Brisbane, some older voters are also considering One Nation; some younger Brisbane voters are looking at the Greens.

Senator Pauline Hanson, who was overseas when the election was called, had started to hit the Queensland election trail when the focus groups were meeting.

A Brisbane retired public servant was “leaning towards One Nation for a change. I’m sick of the childlike behaviour of the major parties.”

For a Townsville electrician, it’s about sending “a message to the major parties that we’re not happy with them. I’m leaning towards KAP for a change. They’ll be a strong voting block with One Nation.”

The soft voters differ dramatically about One Nation and Hanson. “I appreciate that she doesn’t think she’s King Shit,” said a Townsville property developer, “she seems more humble”. But a Townsville stay-at-home mum believed “someone like that would just set us back decades,” just when “as a society we’re just getting to the point where we’re being more inclusive”.

“I would be quite positive if Katter had the balance of power, but I’d be absolutely devastated if One Nation had the balance of power,” said a Townsville participant.

While many are predicting a hung parliament/minority government, people see pros and cons in that sort of outcome. The downside would be instability and chaos; “It sounds like a continuation of the political shit storm,” said a young Townsville occupational therapist.

On the other hand, having crossbenchers holding the untrustworthy majors to account is a positive. “It might make the major parties wake up a bit to what the realities are,” a retired Brisbane small-business-owner said.

For some, a hung parliament puts too much power in the hands of a few, elected by a minority of voters. The government can be held to ransom by the whims of an unrepresentative “looney” minority. “It takes the power off your vote again because you voted for someone and they could go and form a coalition with someone that you very strongly disagree with,” said a personal trainer from Brisbane.

At this stage of the campaign, younger undecided voters in particular admitted they were still disengaged and lacked enough information to make informed choices.

Mostly, these soft voters don’t see significant implications flowing federally from the Queensland result. But they do caution the LNP that the federal Liberals’ performance won’t help them; they also think the federal Liberals fortunes couldn’t be worsened by whatever happens here.

“I wouldn’t let Malcolm Turnbull anywhere near the place,” said a retired Brisbane solicitor; a Townsville participant described the federal government as “a lame duck”. Some believe the rise of independents in Queensland is a wake-up call for the federal Coalition.

Unprompted, these voters cite as top-of-mind federal issues dual citizenship -–which they see as politics at its worst, “farcical”, “ridiculous” – Manus Island, and same-sex marriage.

On the Manus crisis they are polarised (“we should be ashamed”; “they’re illegal immigrants”), at a loss to suggest a solution, and unsure what the federal government is or should be doing.

Despite the Manus crisis, which was escalating as the groups met, some Dickson voters remain enthusiastic about their local member, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (“I think he’s great”; “he’s doing an excellent job”).

But his popularity among some is being tested by their dislike of the Turnbull.

A retired printer said it was a question of who one was voting for. “If I’m looking at my federal electorate, I’m looking at Dutton, who just happens to be a Liberal guy, but I really don’t like the leader of the party and if there’s a choice to vote another way I’ll be voting against Liberal because of him, Turnbull, and not liking the consequences of dumping Dutton.”

On same-sex marriage, these voters are critical of the cost of the postal ballot (one chose not to vote in protest). But if a “yes” win is announced on Wednesday, they want Turnbull to deliver a parliamentary result – otherwise it will confirm their view that he is weak and beholden to the conservative part of his party.

As a Brisbane female small-business-owner bluntly put it: “This is the litmus test. I feel like this is going to be: how much do you actually listen to us? And if you don’t listen to us, you can go get stuffed.”

The ConversationThese groups will meet again in the last week of the campaign, when we will bring you their views. Meanwhile, watch for The Conversation’s FactChecks on the Queensland election.

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/k3zus-7afe23?from=site&skin=1&share=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=0

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Coalition loses majority after Alexander resigns. Qld polling and preferences


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Liberal John Alexander today resigned as the Member for Bennelong, owing to concerns he had British citizenship by descent through his father. As Barnaby Joyce has also been ousted pending a 2 December by-election in New England, the Coalition now has 74 of the 148 occupied lower house seats, not quite a majority. Since the Speaker cannot vote except to break a tie, they have 73 of 147 votes on the floor. If all five cross-benchers vote with Labor, Labor would win divisions.

The Senate alone sits next week, with the full Parliament to hold a two-week sitting from 27 November. Joyce is likely to be absent for both these weeks. Even if he wins convincingly, the electoral commission will take some time to formally declare the New England result.

If the Coalition does not want to attempt minority government for these two weeks, Turnbull could ask the Governor-General to prorogue (suspend) Parliament until after the New England and Bennelong by-elections are held.

At the 2016 election, Alexander won Bennelong by 59.7-40.3 vs Labor, a 2 point swing to the Liberals. Alexander said he will re-contest Bennelong at the by-election, and this makes Labor’s task more difficult. In most by-elections, the incumbent party loses the personal vote of the sitting member, but not in either New England or Bennelong.

Labor’s Maxine McKew famously ousted incumbent PM John Howard from Bennelong at the 2007 election, but Alexander regained it for the Liberals in 2010, and has held it since.

17 candidates have nominated for the New England by-election, likely increasing the informal vote. Many of these candidates will forfeit the $1000 deposit for failing to win at least 4% of the vote. The most original candidate name was “MEOW-MEOW, Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma” from the Science Party. Joyce is the overwhelming favourite, with Independent Rob Taber and Labor’s David Ewings likely to contest second.

3 of 4 Senate vacancies filled, but questions over Hughes

Following recounts of Senate votes for four ousted Senators, yesterday the High Court declared Greens Andrew Bartlett elected to replace Larissa Waters, Greens Jordan Steele-John elected to replace Scott Ludlam and One Nation’s Fraser Anning elected to replace Malcolm Roberts. These Senators will be sworn in when the Senate resumes Monday.

Nationals Fiona Nash’s replacement has been complicated as Liberal Hollie Hughes, the next on the joint Coalition ticket in NSW, took up public service work following her failure at the 2016 election, and may be disqualified under Section 44(iv) of the Constitution. The full High Court will consider Hughes’ case next week. If Hughes is disqualified, Liberal Jim Molan is next on the Coalition ticket.

Qld Galaxy seat polling and preference recommendations

The Queensland election will be held in two weeks, on 25 November. Galaxy conducted seven electorate polls, presumably on 9 November from samples of about 550 per seat. The seats polled were Logan, Mundingburra, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Cairns, Bonney and Glass House.

In only one seat, Logan, was One Nation second on primary votes with 32%, but they were losing to Labor 52-48 after respondent-allocated preferences. In the other seats, One Nation’s vote was at most 25%.

Mundingburra was the only seat shown as changing hands on this polling, with the LNP leading 52-48, a 4 point swing to them. However, Glass House and Bonney were both tied 50-50, representing swings to Labor. Labor-turned-Independent candidates in Cairns and Rockhampton were not a threat.

Labor and the Greens will put One Nation last on their how-to-vote cards in all seats. One Nation will put sitting members second last ahead of the Greens, with a handful of exceptions, primarily for the two Katter party MPs. According to the ABC’s Chris O’Brien, the LNP will recommend its voters preference One Nation ahead of Labor in at least 50 of the 93 seats.

The ConversationI think the LNP’s preference decision is likely to be a negative in south-east Queensland, where well-educated conservative voters may be unhappy with their party preferencing a perceived racist party.

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

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Turnbull and Shorten haggle over detail of citizenship disclosure system


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are inching toward an agreement on the form of a citizenship declaration that each MP would have to make within weeks.

The two met in Melbourne on Wednesday, with Turnbull hoping they would finalise the declaration. But Shorten, who was accompanied by Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, had two objections to the proposal outlined by Turnbull earlier this week.

Shorten told a news conference later that Labor believed the declaration should outline what steps a person whose parents or grandparents had been born overseas had taken to investigate whether they were a dual citizen. Also, Labor wanted a shorter timeframe for MPs submitting the declaration.

Under Turnbull’s plan, an MP would state the details of where they were born and where their parents were born, and their belief that they were not a dual citizen. The declarations would have to be submitted 21 days after the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively passed a motion approving the new decoration system.

The government plans to move motions for the declaration in the Senate next week and when the House of Representatives meets on November 27.

It emerged on Wednesday that the government was proposing to bring the parliament back in late December to consider the declarations, which would open the way for any MPs who were thought to be dual citizens to be referred to the High Court. But Shorten seized on the point that a special sitting of parliament would be very costly for the taxpayer.

Shorten said the statements should be in by December 1, five days after the lower house resumes, and a week before parliament rises for Christmas.

“This would allow the disclosures to be checked out and then if there are any problems requiring referral to the High Court, that could be done in the last week of parliament,” Shorten said.

On Labor’s proposed tougher test, Shorten said: “Mr Turnbull’s resolution only goes to what the actual individual MP might believe, but I think that we require, and the High Court set, a higher test of us. Labor is not going to support watering down the High Court decisions to help a few MPs scrape back into parliament.”

Late on Wednesday the government and opposition were exchanging proposals for changes to the wording of the motion.

Both Turnbull and Shorten described the talks as “constructive”.

“We are certainly agreed on the need for disclosure of the kind that I’ve set out in the resolution,” Turnbull told a separate news conference.

“We’ve also agreed that the matter must be dealt with before the end of the year.

“By that, I mean that the disclosures should be made before the end of the year and the House and the Senate should have the opportunity, having considered those disclosures, whether any members or senators should be referred to the High Court … of course it may be that nobody needs to be referred to the High Court.”

Meanwhile, Liberal backbencher John Alexander, the member for Bennelong, is waiting for British Home Office advice on whether he is a dual British citizen. The issue revolves around whether Alexander’s father, who was born in Britain, renounced his citizenship – as Alexander believed.

If Alexander turns out to be ineligible to sit in parliament the government would face a byelection in a seat it would be vulnerable to losing.

The government is homing in on Labor MP Justine Keay, from Tasmania, who moved to renounce her UK citizenship before she nominated but did not receive confirmation until after the election. Labor insists that Keay met the requirement to make every reasonable effort to renounce a foreign citizenship.

Issues are being raised about several other MPs. The crisis has already claimed half-a-dozen victims.

Postscript

Four Liberal senators including a minister have nominated for Senate president – but the Nationals New South Wales senator John “Wacka” Williams has said he will not contest. Special Minister of State Scott Ryan has nominated to be the government’s candidate, as have David Fawcett, Dean Smith and Ian Macdonald. If Ryan were successful that would open up a vacancy in the outer ministry.

The government’s candidate will be chosen before the Senate meets on Monday.

Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson will contest the position against the government candidate but has no hope of success.

The ConversationThe Nationals have never held the position. Williams’ bid was seen as part of the tensions between the Coalition partners in the wake of the citizenship crisis which has claimed two Nationals ministers, forcing Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to a byelection and ending – at least for the foreseeable future – the political career of Fiona Nash.

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/k3zus-7afe23?from=site&skin=1&share=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=0

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Shorten urges MPs all disclose citizenship to parliament



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Bill Shorten has said Labor would support a ‘universal disclosure to the parliament’ on citizenship.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has proposed a compromise to deal with the citizenship crisis, saying Labor would support a “universal disclosure to the parliament”.

Labor has been on a unity ticket with the Coalition in opposing an audit, but as the crisis continues to unfold it has moved to a position that falls short of bringing in an outside auditor, while putting pressure on the government. The ALP argues an outside audit would undermine the High Court, which judges eligibility cases.

Shorten said the opposition accepted that more needed to be done to restore confidence in the system. The ALP had the strictest vetting system and so “nothing to fear from greater transparency and disclosure”.

Earlier, the government spent Friday warding off suggestions that Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg might be a citizen of Hungary, via his Jewish mother who was born in Budapest in 1943 and as a child came to Australia, stateless.

Shorten offered to co-operate with the government to come up with an agreed process for clarifying MPs’ citizenship.

“Whatever the ultimate process is, it must adhere to clear principles. It must be accountable to the people through the parliament. It must have bipartisan agreement prior to implementation. It must be sufficiently robust to give all Australians confidence in the process.

“But it must not be allowed to create more legal problems, or in any way undermine the supremacy of the High Court on these matters,” he said, adding that “one thing is clear – the situation as it stands cannot be allowed to continue”.

Frydenberg was drawn into the citizenship affair after The Australian highlighted the background of his mother.

Under a Hungarian law to address the stateless status of Jews persecuted in the war, anyone born in Hungary in 1941-45 is automatically a Hungarian citizen. The Hungarian citizenship act gives citizenship to the children of citizens, the paper reported.

Frydenberg said it was “completely absurd” to think that retrospectively, and against her will, his mother could be made a Hungarian citizen, and that that would flow through to him.

Turnbull, who has just returned from Israel, sounded emotional as he hit back strongly against any suggestion Frydenberg could be Hungarian.

“If any member of the House of Representatives wants to stand up and say – and move – that Josh Frydenberg is a citizen of Hungary, the country that were it not for the end of the war, would have killed his mother and his grandparents, if somebody wants to stand up and allege that, fine.

“Let them do that. They can do that. We’ll see if they persuade the House to refer the matter to the High Court,” he said.

Turnbull continued to resist calls for an audit: “We must not allow ourselves to be dragged into a sort of lynch mob, witch-hunt, trial by innuendo and denunciation.

“There is an established process here. There is a court, the highest in the land, that has the constitutional authority to deal with it and the parliament has the ability to make references to it.

“It’s about time we all returned to the land of common sense and the rule of law.”

Shorten said the government had no plan to resolve the citizenship crisis, and Turnbull had been incapable of providing leadership on it.

Shorten said he was deeply concerned that, following the resignation from parliament this week of Senate President Stephen Parry, stories had emerged about senior ministers being aware of the situation. This “cover-up” was alarming.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has confirmed that Parry spoke to him some weeks ago about his situation, which Parry kept secret until this week.

Parry has indicated he spoke to various colleagues, and the feeling was he should not do anything before the High Court decisions on the multiple cases before it, which came last week.

In these decisions, Nationals Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash were disqualified. Parry then sought clarification on whether he, like Nash, was a British citizen and was told by the British authorities that he was, prompting his parliamentary resignation.

The ConversationTurnbull said he wasn’t party to any conversation Parry had had with Fifield, but the responsibility to comply with the Constitution was with Parry.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Qld Galaxy: 52-48 to Labor but One Nation up. Why Labor’s Adani support a vote loser


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

A Queensland Galaxy poll, conducted probably on 1-2 November from a sample of 900, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one point gain for Labor since an early August Galaxy. Primary votes were 35% Labor (steady), 32% LNP (down 4), 18% One Nation (up 3) and 9% Greens (up 2). The Queensland election will be held in three weeks, on 25 November.

41% approved of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (up 2), and 42% disapproved (down 2), for a net approval of -1. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls had a net approval of -12, up two points.

This poll is bad for the LNP, not just in vote shift terms, but because it undermines perceptions that the LNP can win a parliamentary majority without One Nation. There are likely to be many normally conservative voters in south-east Queensland who will vote Labor if they believe the only alternative is an LNP/One Nation government.

Labor has other advantages. Palaszczuk is relatively popular, the Federal Coalition is unpopular, and Nicholls was the Treasurer during Campbell Newman’s government, in which there were drastic job cuts to the public service.

Why I believe Labor’s Adani support is a vote loser

Labor’s support for the Adani coal mine is a vote loser for them on both the left and right. On the left, Adani is a high priority issue for the Greens and Labor’s left-wing activists. That means activists will be less enthusiastic about on-the-ground campaigning.

While Newspoll assumes Greens preferences will flow to Labor at an 80% rate, some Greens will be so disappointed with Labor over Adani that they will preference the LNP. If Labor only wins 70%, not 80%, of Greens preferences, their two party vote will be about a point lower.

The LNP and One Nation will always be able to outflank Labor from the right. People who want the Adani coal mine are likely to trust these two parties over Labor. Had Labor rejected Adani soon after winning office in early 2015, the Adani issue would probably be dead now; instead, it has continued to fester.

While working class voters in general prefer jobs to environmental concerns, Adani is likely to create far fewer jobs than the 10,000 advertised, and will cost tourism jobs. Had Labor opposed the mine, they could have forcefully made these arguments. Jobs created through renewable energy projects would be far better politically for a left-wing party.

One Nation is an anti-establishment party, which will perform best when the two major parties appear close. By sticking with Adani, Labor is playing into One Nation’s hands. One Nation’s preferences are likely to assist the LNP on cultural grounds.

Palaszczuk announced yesterday that she would veto Commonwealth funding for the Adani mine through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. This announcement should encourage left-wing activists, and ensure a strong flow of Greens preferences to Labor.

As the LNP will not veto the NAIF funding, there is now a clear distinction between Labor and the LNP over Adani, so it is possible that the two major parties will regain support from One Nation.

The ConversationMany commentators think Palaszczuk’s announcement will cost Labor in regional Queensland, but those people who like Adani are unlikely to trust Labor on this issue no matter how pro-Adani Labor is.

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

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Newspoll 54-46 to Labor as Turnbull’s ratings slide further. If Parry DQ’d, a Green may be unelected


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted 26-29 October from a sample of 1620, gave Labor its third successive 54-46 lead. Primary votes were 37% Labor (steady since last fortnight), 35% Coalition (down 1), 10% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (steady). This is Turnbull’s 22nd successive Newspoll loss as PM.

31% were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance (down 1) and 59% were dissatisfied (up 3), for a net approval of -28. In the last five weeks, Turnbull has lost 11 points on net approval, and Kevin Bonham says this is Turnbull’s worst net rating since early April. Shorten’s net approval was down two points to -24. The two leaders combined have a net approval of -52, which Bonham says is the third worst of this term.

According to Newspoll, the Michaelia Cash affair and the ousting of Barnaby Joyce by the High Court have had little impact on voting intentions. In Cash’s case, the general public is less concerned with political scandals than the political media and partisans.

If the Coalition were reduced to a minority government, there would probably be a public reaction. But the Coalition still holds 75 of the 149 occupied House seats, and Joyce is very likely to retain New England.

If pulling out of the Paris climate agreement “could result in lower electricity prices” (a dubious proposition), voters would favour pulling out 45-40.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry’s possible dual citizenship could unelect Green Nick McKim

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Stephen Parry’s father may have been a British citzen, in which case Parry is probably a British citizen by descent. Update afternoon on 1 November: Parry is indeed a British citizen, and will resign from the Senate.

Given the High Court’s ruling on 27 October, Parry would be disqualified if he is a dual citizen, and his seat would be taken by Liberal Richard Colbeck. However, there were many more below the line votes in Tasmania than in other states at the last Federal election. If Parry is excluded from the count, slightly different preference flows flip the 12th and final seat from a 141 vote Greens win to a 227 vote One Nation win according to @angrygoat.

The question is whether the High Court will unelect a sitting Senator who has done nothing wrong himself. If they do, McKim will be replaced by One Nation’s Kate McCulloch, changing the Senate balance of power for the remainder of this term.

SSM plebiscite turnout and polling

As at Friday 27 October, the ABS estimated it had received 12.3 million same sex marriage plebiscite forms (77.0% of the electorate). Turnout increased from 74.5% on 20 October. This is the second last turnout report, with the final one to be released on 7 November, the last day for envelopes to be received. The result will be declared on 15 November.

Update Wednesday morning 1 November: In Newspoll, 76% of respondents have already voted, and another 10% say they will definitely vote. I am dubious that 10% are going to vote at this late stage. Of the 76% who have voted, Yes leads 62-35 (59-38 last fortnight from the 65% who had voted then). The remaining 24% support Yes 47-34. For the whole sample, Yes led by 59-35 (56-37 last fortnight).

Essential 54-46 to Labor

After a bad sample for Labor last fortnight, Essential has returned to 54-46 to Labor, a two point gain for Labor since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Labor (up 1), 36% Coalition (down 1), 10% Greens (up 1), 7% One Nation (down 1) and 3% Nick Xenophon Team (steady). This poll was conducted over the last two weeks from a sample of 1820. Additional questions are based on one week’s sample.

By 54-23, voters did not agree that the NBN would meet Australia’s future Internet needs (47-22 in October 2016). By 43-24, they supported the Labor NBN plan over the Liberal NBN (42-27 last year). By 39-19, voters blamed the Turnbull government over the previous Labor government for the NBN’s problems.

43% said their home was connected to the NBN, and 12% their workplace. Of those with an NBN connection, 52% said their service was better than the old one, and 17% worse.

By 50-30, voters disapproved of giving $50 billion in tax cuts to medium and large businesses. By 46-31, voters agreed with a negative vs a positive statement about these tax cuts.

YouGov primary votes: 36% Coalition, 33% Labor, 10% Greens, 9% One Nation

Update 1 November: According to the Poll Bludger, primary votes in YouGov were 36% Coalition (up 2 since last fortnight), 33% Labor (up 1), 10% Greens (down 1) and 9% One Nation (down 2). So once again Labor’s primary vote is much lower than in Newspoll or Essential. The two party result, from respondent allocated preferences, was an unchanged 51-49 to the Coalition.

Voters backed legalising voluntary euthanasia 69-10. By 58-33, they thought the gender pay gap a problem. By 64-27, they thought sexual harassment widespread. By 58-32, voters thought the government is not very serious about cutting carbon emissions.

Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections: 7 November

US Federal elections are held every two years, and most states hold their elections concurrently with Federal elections. Two exceptions are Virginia and New Jersey, which hold their elections for state governor in the year following the Presidential election. These elections will be held on 7 November, with results from 11am 8 November Melbourne time.

In Virginia, there is a one-term limit, so incumbent Democrat governor Terry McAuliffe cannot seek re-election. The contest is between Democratic candidate Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie. There is wide variety in the polls: some have Gillespie barely ahead or tied, some show Northam leading by 7 points, and Quinnipiac gives Northam a 17-point lead.

In New Jersey, incumbent Republican governor Chris Christie cannot seek re-election as he has served two terms. Democrat Phil Murphy leads Republican Kim Guadagno by double digit margins in all polls.

There is also a US Congress by-election in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District on 7 November. Trump won this district 47-23 with third party candidates performing best in Utah. In 2012, Romney crushed Obama 78-20, so the Republican should win easily.

The ConversationAs well as gubernatorial elections, there will be legislative elections in Virginia and New Jersey. At the 2018 midterm elections, governors of many populous states will be up for election.

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

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Federal Coalition will be watching the Queensland election anxiously



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Any appearance in the Queensland campaign by Malcolm Turnbull can be expected to be minimal.
Joel Carrett/AAP

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

People distinguish between levels of government when casting their votes. Nevertheless, a state result can reverberate federally, whether it is sending a protest or for other reasons.

We only have to remember 2015 to understand that the outcome of the November 25 Queensland poll carries implications for the Turnbull government.

Queensland is notable for big swings. In 2015 the shock defeat of Campbell Newman, who had won in a landslide against Labor, delivered an enormous blow to the then prime minister, Tony Abbott, and was a factor in the first (“empty chair”) move against his leadership.

Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the state election as the Turnbull government is reeling from Friday’s High Court judgment, which knocked out of parliament Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, now campaigning in a New England byelection, as well as Joyce’s deputy Fiona Nash, who has no immediate way back.

While being careful to sound respectful of the High Court – after earlier (wrongly) anticipating its decision – the Coalition is smarting from a judgment that adhered to black letter law rather than accepting the more creative interpretation of the Constitution’s Section 44 that the government urged.

Attorney-General George Brandis on Sunday described it on Sky as “almost brutal literalism”. Well, it’s the Coalition that has always railed against judicial adventurism.

One question in the judgment’s wake will be whether the ministerial decisions that Joyce and Nash took are challenged. Labor’s Tony Burke suggested on the ABC that “vested interests” could consider contesting, for example, decisions Joyce made in quarantine matters.

Surely the risk would be highest in relation to decisions taken when the pair knew the constitutional ice could break under them. That was always an argument for their standing aside, as Matt Canavan did (in the end he survived and has been restored to the cabinet).

To clean up untidy ends, Turnbull delayed until Sunday night his departure for Israel to attend the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba.

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop is acting prime minister while he’s away, with Turnbull insisting the acting parliamentary leader of the Nationals, Nigel Scullion, was “absolutely in support of this arrangement”. That assertion followed suggestions of some tetchiness between the parties on the matter.

Just in case Bishop might get any inflated opinion of her situation, Turnbull pointed out that “when I’m overseas, I continue to discharge all of my duties as prime minister. All decisions that are taken by the prime minister are taken by me.

“The acting prime minister is a role that is really designed to cover circumstances where, for example, it was urgent for a document to be signed, with my consent, obviously, but I’m not in the country to sign it. Or, of course, in the event of some disaster occurring while I was travelling.” There will be no deputy prime minister while the New England byelection is on.

Turnbull has a busy schedule of international travel in coming weeks, including APEC and the East Asia summit. Any appearance in the Queensland campaign can be expected to be minimal. As Newman told Sky: “Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t go down well in Queensland”. Newman also noted Joyce would have been good there, but he is tied up south of the border.

No wise person would bet too heavily on the Queensland result. Insiders on both sides of politics are predicting One Nation is likely to hold the balance of power. The parliament has been hung – the ABC’s analyst Antony Green says that given Queensland is moving to fixed terms the ALP will run hard on the importance of avoiding minority government. “Stability is a big issue in Queensland,” Green says.

Queensland is a critical state for the federal Coalition and so for its fortunes at the next election. A serious rebuff to the Liberal National Party there would create deep alarm in the Coalition.

A lot of variables make the state election particularly hard to read. The parliament’s size has been increased and boundaries redrawn. Voting will be a compulsory preferential system rather than the previous optional preferential.

Green says: “Both sides of politics need to increase their vote to win … But both have lost first preferences since One Nation came back on the scene”.

One Nation is a significant player, in terms of both how many seats it could pick up and what will happen with its preferences.

This is Pauline Hanson’s stamping ground – though she got caught out by being overseas when Palaszczuk called the election, despite it having been much flagged beforehand.

Green predicts One Nation could win five or six seats but not the 11 it secured in 1998. “It can win seats off the LNP. It’s tougher for it to win them off Labor.”

Much will depend on what the LNP does with preferences, Green says. The LNP has ruled out any across-the-board preference deal. One Nation has said it will put sitting members last. Labor will preference against One Nation.

While the strength of the One Nation state vote won’t be a accurate guide to the minor party’s influence in Queensland federally, it will be a pointer to how much momentum Hanson has.

Postscript

Labor has maintained a 54-46% two party lead in the Newspoll in Monday’s Australian – the 22nd consecutive Newspoll in which the Coalition has been behind.

Both leaders lost ground on their net approval, although the Prime Minister took the bigger hit. Malcolm Turnbull has gone from a net satisfaction rating of minus 24 to minus 28, while Bill Shorten’s net rating has deteriorated from minus 22 in the last poll to minus 24.

Turnbull’s lead as better prime minister is unchanged at 41-33%.

The Coalition primary vote has fallen a point to 35%; Labor is steady on 37%. Greens on 10% and One Nation on 9% were unchanged.

The ConversationThe poll of 1623 was taken from Thursday to Sunday, amid controversy around Employment minister Michaelia Cash, as well as Friday’s High Court decision.

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Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Palaszczuk must grapple with One Nation, and history, in unpredictable Queensland election



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Annastacia Palaszczuk is seeking a second term as premier when the state goes to the polls on November 25.
AAP/Darren England

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

Queensland’s state election has been called for November 25. The outcome is, at this stage, anyone’s guess.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk cited her disendorsement of sitting MP Rick Williams, and the resignation for health reasons of minister Bill Byrne, as triggers for an election months before it was due.

Williams’ subsequent resignation from the ALP to contest his seat as an independent leaves the Labor minority government and Liberal National Party opposition both holding 41 seats in the 89-seat state parliament.

Polling has typically had the government slightly ahead in two-party-preferred terms. But narrowing poll margins and the major parties’ shrinking primary vote share point to a tight result – and potentially another hung parliament.

In this scenario, the election “winner” could be forced into tricky negotiations with minor parties to form government. Yet Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls have both pledged not to govern in coalition with the likes of One Nation and Bob Katter’s Australian Party. So where will that leave the make-up of Queensland’s next government?

A typical contest?

On one hand, this election looks set to be a conventional state contest, fought over economic, employment and cost-of-living issues.

With ink still drying on the federal government’s new energy policy, the main parties in Queensland have all made recent announcements playing to voters’ worries of rising power bills.

Campaign attention is expected to focus on regional voters’ concerns – especially in the many marginal seats – over local employment opportunities and industry downturns. Memories are still fresh in and around Townsville of painful job losses from the closure of the Yabulu nickel refinery.

Meanwhile, attracting votes – and Greens preferences – in the state’s southeast corner will be critical. Population pressures have given rise to transport infrastructure projects (like Brisbane’s Cross River Rail) and school building proposals that, in some cases, have become political footballs.

Adani and voting changes add to unpredictability

On the other hand, this election shapes as unpredictable and intriguing.

Uncertainty looms over key economic projects – principally the Adani Carmichael coalmine and state-federal financing arrangements for the proposal.

The Adani mine has dominated Queensland’s political landscape – and divided community opinion – like few other recent issues. Party positions on the mine’s approval could prove decisive in many areas.

Similarly, the state and federal governments’ management of the Great Barrier Reef has contributed to volatility in public sentiment.

This, along with the Adani proposal and the state government’s inability to reinstate tree-clearing restrictions, has been an environmental sore point for Queensland’s left-dominated ALP caucus. Negative public reaction has even fed speculation that Deputy Premier Jackie Trad could face a realistic challenge from the Greens in her South Brisbane seat.

Adding to the unpredictability is a handful of “unknowns”. These include the introduction of four-year fixed parliamentary terms, a redrawing of the state’s electoral map from 89 to 93 seats, and the reintroduction of compulsory preferential voting. The latter especially makes predicting results in most electorates fraught with difficulty.

Even the swelling of numbers on the electoral roll (primarily of younger voters) as a result of the national same-sex marriage survey adds an unpredictable element.

The One Nation question mark

On top of all this is the presence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

Since bursting back onto the political stage at last year’s federal election, One Nation’s popularity in its “home” state has again seen the major parties in Queensland and federally jumping at shadows.

It did not go unnoticed when Pauline Hanson recently announced federal-government-funded projects in Ipswich and elsewhere. This reportedly prompted a furious rebuke from federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

One Nation even enters this election defending a seat, after the defection of former LNP MP Steve Dickson in January this year.

The party’s wildcard quality was made more stark after the announcement that Malcolm Roberts – having had his Senate election ruled invalid by the High Court – would stand in the seat of Ipswich at the state election.

One Nation has variously polled between 10% and 15% across Queensland, even exceeding 20% in some of the 50-plus seats in which it will field candidates.

Regional areas in particular, where high unemployment has fed voter dissatisfaction with the major parties at state and federal levels, is where One Nation’s presence will be felt most. Yet it is uncertain how preferences from the party’s voters will play out in different seats.

What to expect in the campaign

The Palaszczuk government will highlight its high-profile job-creating projects in Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf development and Townsville’s new sports stadium. Recent jobs growth figures and statewide unemployment falling below 6% have provided the government with positive economic news.

The LNP will focus on government missteps, such as train system malfunctions and ministerial blunders. It will also pursue a message of the Labor government as indecisive and “do nothing”, after ordering numerous reviews and overseeing a stubbornly high unemployment rate relative to the national average.

Voters will be asked whether Nicholls has done enough as opposition leader in the last 18 months to warrant a crack at the top job.

Labor will be keen to remind voters of Nicholls’ role as treasurer in the Newman government, particularly with the electorally poisonous public asset sale agenda and his supposed unpopularity in bush areas.

Ultimately, Palaszcuk will look to benefit from incumbency and her lead as preferred premier. Her Labor team will also benefit from an incumbent federal Coalition government that is dealing with the fallout from High Court rulings that ousted the Nationals’ leader and deputy from parliament.

The ConversationHistory may be against Palaszczuk, though: she would be the first female Australian state premier to defend an election win.

Chris Salisbury, Lecturer in Australian Studies, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Labor should head left to win 25 November Qld election


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today called the state election for 25 November, about two months before the three-year anniversary of Labor’s shock win in January 2015. There will be 93 single-member electorates at this election for the lower house; Queensland has no upper house.

There have been two recent polls by reputable pollsters. A mid-October Newspoll gave Labor a 52-48 lead from primary votes of 37% Labor, 34% LNP, 16% One Nation and 8% Greens. However, a late September ReachTEL gave the LNP a 52-48 lead from primary votes of 34.8% Labor, 33.2% LNP, 19.6% One Nation and 8.1% Greens.

The major difference between Newspoll and ReachTEL is that Newspoll assumes that Labor will win 80% of Greens preferences, 40% of One Nation preferences and 50% of all Others. ReachTEL uses respondent-allocated preferences, and is clearly finding a strong flow of One Nation preferences to the LNP.

On current polling, four outcomes are plausible. There could be a Labor or LNP majority government, a Labor minority government with Independent or Katter Party support, or a LNP minority government with One Nation or Katter support.

In recent overseas elections, UK and NZ Labour greatly increased their vote share from the previous election by offering a clear left-wing agenda, emphasising their differences from the conservatives. However, at the German and Austrian elections, far-right parties performed well partly because the major centre-left party was perceived as too close to the conservatives.

It appears that many voters want a major change from the prevailing orthodoxy. If the major centre-left party does not offer such a change, these votes are likely to go to right-wing populist parties.

In my opinion, Queensland Labor’s strong support for the Adani coal mine is a major negative. Not only does this anger environmental activists, it also means Labor is perceived as close to the LNP on this issue. It would have been better for Labor if they had rejected Adani at the start of the current term.

I think Labor can win over some of the One Nation voters if they advocate populist left-wing economic policies. If Labor’s primary vote rises into the 40’s, they would be assured of winning. If Labor does not advocate left-wing policies, One Nation is likely to win a high teens primary vote, and their preferences will probably assist the LNP on cultural grounds.

Earlier in the current term, before One Nation’s rise began, Labor changed the Queensland electoral system from optional preferential to compulsory preferential voting, in an attempt to ensure strong Greens preference flows. With One Nation winning at least double the Greens in the polls, this change looks like a mistake.

In its attacks on One Nation, Labor should target their right-wing economic policies, not their perceived racism. As at August, One Nation had voted with the Coalition in 79% of Senate divisions where Labor was opposed. This record is more likely to dissuade working class voters from One Nation than calling Hanson and co racists.

Labor has never been far ahead in the Queensland polls during the current term, and this can be attributed to the hung Parliament, particularly having to rely on Labor defectors such as Billy Gordon.

The unpopular Federal Coalition government will be a drag on the state LNP. If state Labor wins, they are likely to be a drag for Federal Labor at the next Federal election. From the viewpoint of maximising its chances at the next Federal election, Federal Labor would prefer an LNP/One Nation Queensland government.

The ConversationIn 2016, a referendum for fixed four-year terms was passed, with the election on the last Saturday in October; this did not apply to the current term. If this election had been held after 1 January 2018, the next election would have been in October 2021. As it is, the next election will be in October 2020, just under three years after this election.

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

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Turnbull’s government must accept responsibility for delivering an equitable NBN for all Australians



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NBN delivery is variable across different states, but also within the same local council areas.
from www.shutterstock.com

Tooran Alizadeh, University of Sydney

On Monday night Four Corners asked Australia to consider “What’s wrong with the NBN?”.

Prior to the episode airing, a lot of the debate focused on the NBN’s business model, and that it may not be profitable.

I, however, am not sure if the financial returns need be our biggest concern when referring to public service and critical infrastructure. My answer to the question “what’s wrong with the NBN?” is quite simple: the NBN is inequitable.


Read more: The NBN: how a national infrastructure dream fell short


A “train wreck”

This week started with a fiery speech delivered by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. He said the NBN was a mistake, blamed the former Labor government for the set up, and described the NBN’s business model as a “calamitous train wreck”.

Turnbull’s remarks triggered a number of responses, including one from former Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. He attached responsibility of NBN’s failure to the current government, as they “changed the model completely” compared to the original design.

More broadly, the Four Corners program itself created mixed reactions on social media. It was criticised for being “weak”, and not “challenging enough”, but also praised as “exceptional”.

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I find it incredibly frustrating to see a national critical infrastructure project diminished to political ping pong. In my opinion, bipartisan commitment is required in order to deliver an equitable NBN for all Australians.

Inequity from the start

Introduced by Labor, the original NBN was announced in April 2009. The plan was to provide terrestrial fibre network coverage for 93% of Australian premises by the end of 2020, with the remaining 7% served by fixed wireless and satellite coverage. In other words, Labor’s NBN was mainly equitable in terms of the advanced technology adopted across the board.


Read more: Three charts on: the NBN and Australia’s digital divide


However, research on the early NBN rollout pointed out the issue of timing. Even under the most optimistic estimations, it was going to take over a decade to build the nation-wide infrastructure. So, there were always questions about who was going to get the infrastructure first, and who had to wait over a decade for a similar service.

The results of the 2013 Federal election changed the fate of the NBN. The elected Coalition government decided the NBN rollout should transition from a primarily fibre-to-premises model to a mixed-technology model.



Various/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

FTTP = fibre to the premises; FTTN/FFTB = fibre to the node/basement;
HFC = Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial


This added to the complexity of the NBN, and created new layers in the inequality concerns around the NBN. In the Coalition’s NBN, many could be waiting quite some years and yet still only receive a lower quality level of access to the service.

Inequity in 2017

Now we’re past the halfway point of NBN delivery, and inequality of the service is clear at two levels.

Large scale

Recent research shows there is a clear digital divide between urban versus regional Australia in terms of access to the NBN. Regional Australia is missing out, both in terms of pace and quality of delivery in the mixed-technology model. This pretty much means that WA and NT are the worst off parts of the nation, because of the spread and dominance of regional and remote communities within them.

“Fine grain” scale

As described on Four Corners, mixed-technology NBN within local government areas and neighbourhoods means some people are better off than others.

Some receive fibre-to-premises service while others have fibre-to-node. The quality of the service also depends on how far someone lives and works from a node, which basically suggests even people on the same fibre-to-nodes service could have varied level of (dis)satisfaction with their internet and phone services.

Research published in 2015 captured some of the frustrations on the ground at the local government level. Differing qualities of internet services available were perceived to have direct implications for local economic development, productivity, and sense of community at the local level.

The two layers of NBN inequality mean that while some customers may be happy with their NBN, many experience a frustrating downgrade of service after moving to the NBN. This may help explain the increase in the number of NBN complaints across the nation.


Read more: Lack of internet affordability may worsen Australia’s digital divide


Let’s start moving forwards

Politicising the NBN and blaming one party over another has been part of the national misfortune around the NBN. But, I believe, the inequality of the NBN is part of a bigger trend in infrastructure decision making in Australia that fails to fully account for the socioeconomic implications. Other examples of this trend are seen in major (controversial) transport projects around the nation (e.g. East West Link in Melbourne, WestConnex in Sydney).

Current and future Australian governments must accept responsibility, and find a way forward for the NBN that is built on the notion of equitable service.

We can start with questions such as who needs the service the most, and who can do the most with it. These two questions refer to the social inclusion and productivity implications of the NBN.

The ConversationThe NBN, as a publicly funded national infrastructure project, has to be equitable to be a truly nation building platform. As long as it is failing some, it is failing us all as a nation.

Tooran Alizadeh, Senior Lecturer, Director of Urban Design, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.