Polls latest: Labor trails federally and in Queensland; Biden increases lead over Trump



AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted June 3-6 from a sample of 1,510, gave the Coalition a 51-49 lead, unchanged from three weeks ago. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (down one), 34% Labor (down one), 12% Greens (up two) and 4% One Nation (up one).

Scott Morrison maintained his high coronavirus crisis ratings. 66% were satisfied with his performance (steady) and 29% dissatisfied (down one), for a net approval of +37. Anthony Albanese’s net approval dropped four points to +3; his ratings peaked at +11 in late April. Morrison led as better PM by 56-26 (56-29 three weeks ago).

This Newspoll maintains the situation where Morrison is very popular, but the Coalition is not benefiting from his popularity to the extent that would normally be expected. Six weeks ago, when Morrison’s net approval was +40, analyst Kevin Bonham said the Coalition’s expected two party vote was between 54% and 60%.

Respondents were asked whether various organisations had a positive, negative or neutral impact on the coronavirus pandemic around the world. The World Health Organisation was at 34% positive, 32% negative and the United Nations was at 23% positive, 21% negative. Coalition voters were most likely to give the WHO and UN poor marks.

Xi Jinping and the Chinese government was at just 6% positive, 72% negative. Donald Trump and the US government was at 9% positive, 79% negative.

Seventy-nine percent thought the Morrison government was doing the right thing by pushing for an independent inquiry into the origins and handling of coronavirus against Chinese objections. By 59-29, voters thought Australia should prioritise the US relationship over China. There was more support for China from Labor and Greens voters.

Queensland YouGov poll: 52-48 to LNP

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A YouGov poll for The Sunday Mail, conducted last week from a sample of over 1,000, gave the LNP a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the LNP since the January YouGov. Primary votes were 38% LNP (up three), 32% Labor (down two), 12% One Nation (down three) and 12% Greens (up two). Figures from The Poll Bludger.

Despite Labor’s weak voting intentions, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings surged. Her approval was up 20 points to 49% and her disapproval down 11 to 33%, for a net approval of +16, up 31 points. On net approval, Palaszczuk’s ratings are the same as in a late April premiers’ Newspoll. However, that Newspoll gave Palaszczuk a net approval far lower than for any of the other five premiers.




Read more:
Coalition gains Newspoll lead as Labor ahead in Eden-Monaro; Trump’s ratings recover


Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington’s ratings were 26% approve (up three) and 29% disapprove (down four), for a net approval of -3, up seven points. Palaszczuk led as better premier by 44-23 (34-22 in January).

Biden increases lead over Trump

This section is an updated version of an article I wrote for The Poll Bludger, published on Friday. The Poll Bludger article includes a section on the UK polls following the Dominic Cummings breach of quarantine scandal.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 41.7% approve, 53.9% disapprove (net -12.2%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 42.3% approve, 54.1% disapprove (net -11.8%).

Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost about four points on net approval. His disapproval rating is at its highest since the early stages of the Ukraine scandal last November.

In the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has widened to 7.2%, up from 4.5% three weeks ago. That is Biden’s biggest lead since December 2019. Biden has 49.6% now, close to a majority. If he holds that level of support, it will be very difficult for Trump to win.




Read more:
When Trump attacks the press, he attacks the American people and their Constitution


Trump has over 90% of the vote among Republicans, but just 3% among Democrats. CNN analyst Harry Enten says Trump’s strategy of appealing only to his base is poor, as he has already maximised support from that section. Enten implies Trump would do better if he appealed more to moderate voters.

In the key states that will decide the Electoral College and hence the presidency, it is less clear. National and state polls by Change Research gave Biden a seven-point lead nationally, but just a three-point lead in Florida, a two-point lead in Michigan and a one-point lead in North Carolina. In Wisconsin, Trump and Biden were tied, while Trump led by one in Arizona and four in Pennsylvania.

This relatively rosy state polling picture for Trump is contradicted by three Fox News polls. In these polls, Biden leads by nine points in Wisconsin, four points in Arizona and two points in Ohio. Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016, and it was not thought to be in play.

Ironically, Change Research is a Democrat-associated pollster, while Fox News is very pro-Trump. Fieldwork for all these state polls was collected since May 29, when the George Floyd protests began.

Other state polls have also been worse for Trump than the Change Research polls. A Texas poll from Quinnipiac University had Trump leading by just one point. Trump won Texas by nine points in 2016. In Michigan, an EPIC-MRA poll has Biden leading by 12. In North Carolina, a PPP poll has Biden ahead by four.

Concerning the protests over the murder of George Floyd, in an Ipsos poll for Reuters conducted June 1-2, 64% said they sympathised with the protesters, while 27% did not. In another Ipsos poll, this time for the US ABC News, 66% disapproved of Trump’s reaction to the protests and just 32% approved.

US May jobs report much better than expected

The May US jobs report was released last Friday. 2.5 million jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell 1.4% to 13.3%. Economists on average expected 8.3 million job losses and an unemployment rate of 19.5%. An unemployment rate of 13.3% is terrible by historical standards, but it is clear evidence the US economy is already recovering from the coronavirus hit.

The employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Americans currently employed – rose 1.5% to 52.8%, but it is still far below the 58.2% lowest point during the global financial crisis.

US daily coronavirus cases and deaths are down from their peak, and stockmarkets anticipate a strong economic recovery. But it is likely that a greater amount of economic activity will allow the virus to resurge. A strong recovery from coronavirus would assist Trump, but unemployment is a lagging indicator that is likely to recover more slowly than the overall economy.

New Zealand Labour surges into high 50s in polls

I wrote for The Poll Bludger on May 22 that two New Zealand polls had the governing Labour party taking a massive lead over the opposition National, ahead of the September 19 election. New Zealand now has zero active (currently infected) coronavirus cases, and has had no new cases since May 22. It appears they have eliminated the virus.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.

Labor gains in Newspoll despite Morrison’s continued approval surge; Trump’s ratings slide



AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted April 22-25 from a sample of 1,519, had a 50-50 tie between the major parties, a one-point gain for Labor since the last Newspoll, three weeks ago. Primary votes were 41% Coalition (down one), 36% Labor (up two), 12% Greens (down one) and 4% One Nation (down one). Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

Despite Labor’s voting intentions gain, Scott Morrison’s ratings jumped again, following a record 38-point gain in net approval last time. 68% (up seven) were satisfied with his performance and 28% (down seven) were dissatisfied. That’s a net approval of +40, up 14 points. Morrison’s net approval is the best for a PM since Kevin Rudd in October 2009.




Read more:
Morrison sees massive ratings surge in Newspoll over coronavirus crisis; Trump also improves


Anthony Albanese also improved his ratings, with his net approval up two points to +11 after a nine-point gain last time. Morrison led as better PM by 56-28 (53-29 three weeks ago).

Ratings for the PM are correlated strongly with voting intentions, so having the PM’s net approval at +40 while voting intentions are tied is abnormal. Analyst Kevin Bonham tweeted this chart showing that this Newspoll is a major outlier.

The most likely explanation for the discrepancy between voting intentions and the PM’s ratings is that Labor and Greens voters approve of Morrison’s performance on the coronavirus crisis, but they distrust the Coalition in general.

Australia’s performance on coronavirus has been strong by international standards. I expect Morrison’s ratings to stay high if Australia continues to perform well, as long as the public thinks there is a crisis. Once the crisis is perceived to be over, Morrison’s ratings are likely to drop over normal partisan conflict.

South Korea is another country that has performed well on coronavirus. The left-wing Democratic party of the incumbent president was rewarded for this performance at April 15 parliamentary elections. They won 180 of the 300 seats (up 57 since 2016), to 103 for conservative parties (down 19).

In an additional Newspoll question, 54% said they would be prepared to install the government’s voluntary coronavirus tracking app, while 39% said they would not install it.

Trump’s ratings slide and Biden leads in key states

This section is an updated version of an article I wrote for The Poll Bludger, published on Friday.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 43.4% approve, 52.4% disapprove (net -9.0%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.8% approve, 52.5% disapprove (net -8.7%). Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost five points on net approval, returning his ratings to about their early March levels, before the coronavirus crisis began.

As the US coronavirus death toll increases to over 50,000, there has been far more criticism of Trump’s early response, and this appears to have punctured the “rally round the flag” effect.

Furthermore, there has been a massive economic impact from the virus and related shutdowns: in the past five weeks, over 26 million filed for unemployment benefits. In the latest week, over 4.4 million filed. While this is a slowdown, it is far ahead of the previous record of 695,000 weekly jobless claims. The April jobs report, to be released in early May, will be grim.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls gives Joe Biden a 5.9% lead over Trump, little changed from 6.1% three weeks ago. However, most of the polls in the average were taken in early April, when Trump’s ratings were better.

As we know from 2016, the US does not use the popular vote to elect presidents; instead, each state is allocated Electoral Votes (EVs). A state’s EVs are the sum of its House seats (population dependent) and senators (always two). There are 538 total EVs, so it takes 270 to win. With two minor exceptions, states award their EVs winner-takes-all.

In 2016, Trump won 306 EVs to Hillary Clinton’s 232, ignoring “faithless” electors, despite losing the popular vote by 2.1%. Trump won Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by 1.2% or less.

The three most recent Florida polls give Biden an average two-point lead. In Michigan, he has an eight-point lead in the only April poll. In Pennsylvania, Biden averages a seven-point lead in two April polls. In Arizona, which has trended Democratic at recent elections, Biden leads Trump by 9% in an April poll.

Despite noisy protests in Michigan and other states advocating an end to social distancing, polls show the vast majority of Americans want social distancing to continue. In an AP-NORC poll, just 12% thought distancing measures went too far, 26% said they didn’t go far enough and 61% said they are about right.

To have a realistic chance of winning the next election, Trump needs the US economy to be perceived as improving by November. While his base is loyal, lower-educated voters in general want a good economy, and Trump needs their support to offset losses among higher educated voters owing to his behaviour.

Despite the continued economic and coronavirus woe, the Dow Jones has rebounded from a low below 18,600 on March 23 to be currently above 23,700. Stock traders anticipate a V-shaped recovery, which would assist Trump. But since March 31, there have been 25,000 to 39,000 new US coronavirus cases every day. I am sceptical that the US can reduce the caseload to a point where economic activity can safely resume anytime soon.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.

Adam Bandt will be a tougher leader, but the challenge will be in broadening the Greens’ appeal



AAP/Mick Tsikas

Mark Kenny, Australian National University

Mad Monday usually describes sports teams “on the tear” at the end of season, not embattled governments embarking on a new parliamentary year.

But Monday, February 3, had that devil-may-care feeling when the two second-tier parties of the Australian parliament, the Nationals on the right and the Greens on the left, dropped depth charges into their respective electoral bases by putting their leaderships up for grabs.

For the junior Coalition partner, this occurred via an unsuccessful raid by Barnaby Joyce on the leadership of Michael McCormack.

That marked a woeful start to the parliamentary year for a Coalition already being hammered through its own policy indolence and the scandalous manipulation of public funds.




Read more:
The ‘sports rorts’ affair shows the need for a proper federal ICAC – with teeth


Things went more smoothly for the Greens, where “mad” Monday brought the unheralded resignation of the party’s well-liked leader, Richard Di Natale. The Victorian senator was swiftly replaced in an uncontested ballot by the party’s sole lower house federal MP, Adam Bandt, the member for Melbourne.

But the interest factor in the power transfer will not necessarily end there. Bandt’s selection raises important questions for the cross-bench party, ideologically, presentationally and functionally. And it may also prove to be a blessing for Labor, which has long bled green on its left flank, particularly in the inner cities.

Like his predecessors Bob Brown and Christine Milne, the outgoing Di Natale confidently predicted the Greens party was on the cusp of a significant expansion as voters opted for the only party not compromised by the fossil fuel industry, particularly coal.

Yet the imminent Green revolution never seems to come, suggesting there may be a natural ceiling on the party’s share of the non-conservative vote, almost all of which flows back to Labor as preferences anyway.

A large measure of the Greens’ electoral optimism derives from the view that, in trying to appeal to both inner-city progressives and blue-collar regional workers, Labor offers weak policies and confusing messages. The each-way bet on the Adani Carmichael coal mine at the 2019 election is most frequently cited.

But it is also possible there is effectively a cap on the Greens party expansion. This is because of its role as a party of progressive conscience rather than one that must appeal to a broad range of voters and offer policies that can be funded if elected.

As one Labor insider noted: “The Greens don’t need to talk to anyone outside the inner cities, and mostly they don’t try to.”

As a moderate type of Greens senator, Di Natale may have already maximised the party’s appeal among people who might otherwise find their natural home within Labor.

How Bandt performs remains to be seen, but he is widely regarded as more aggressive – purer in his orientation to, and reflection of, the party’s base, yet correspondingly “scarier” for mainstream voters.

“He’s a jump to the left, that’s for sure,” said the Labor functionary, who claimed Bandt is less disciplined and measured in his communication style than was Di Natale.

“He forgets who he is talking to – his base is not the same as the electorate and where Di Natale was ‘reassuring’, Bandt can be just plain scary,” the observer said.

When the young WA Greens senator Jordan Steele-John accused the major parties of being virtual arsonists during the bushfire crisis last November, Bandt leapt to his defence amid the furore. Bandt told ABC’s Insiders program:

I think he’s the youngest member of parliament, he’s part of a generation that is terrified and aghast with what they’re seeing with the climate crisis.

Scott Morrison has been put on notice, and his government has been put on notice for many years now, that if we keep digging up coal at the rate of knots that we’re doing at the moment, it is going to contribute to making global warming worse, and that is going to make bushfires like this more likely and more intense when they happen.

If Bandt’s angularity is to be tempered by the responsibilities of leadership, it was not evident in his first press conference, where he railed against climate inaction and inequality. He said:

I refuse to adapt to kids wearing gas masks.

Summer is going from being a time to relax to a time to fear for your life and health.
People are angry and anxious because the government clearly doesn’t have the climate emergency under control and has no plan to get it under control. But people are also angry and anxious because the basics of life are no longer guaranteed … even if you do everything they ask, people are no longer guaranteed a good life.

Finally, Bandt’s leadership has a structural peculiarity built in.

Like the short-lived Palmer United Party after the 2013 election, Bandt leads the Greens from the lower house while every one of his other party members is in the Senate.




Read more:
Remembrance of rorts past: why the McKenzie scandal might not count for a hill of beans


There were many reasons why that structure was disastrous for Clive Palmer, not least that his party had no clear idea of what it stood for, and Palmer himself was both mercurial and absent.

But having the members – on whose loyalty one’s leadership relies – located together in one chamber and the leader in another seems risky, especially in these times when mad Monday is a 365-day possibility.The Conversation

Mark Kenny, Senior Fellow, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University

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

There’s no evidence ‘greenies’ block bushfire hazard reduction but here’s a controlled burn idea worth trying


Locally managed hazard reduction could give communities greater ownership over prevention and leverage local knowledge.
David Bowman, Author provided

Jason Alexandra, RMIT University and David Bowman, University of Tasmania

The current bushfire crisis provides compelling evidence of the dangers posed by extremely dry landscapes and hot, windy conditions.

While there’s no evidence “greenies” precipitated the current crisis by blocking hazard reduction, it is clear that we need to explore new ways to manage fuel loads to reduce the severity of bushfires.

It is worth considering how local, self organised, place-based, community groups could be supported to conduct various types of strategic hazard reduction, including targeted grazing and prescribed or fuel reduction burning.

Using the Landcare model for bushfire hazard reduction

One model we could look to is Landcare, which has enjoyed 30 years of bipartisan support. Funded and supported by governments, local, semi-autonomous, self-directed groups aim to take a sustainable approach to land management through on-ground projects such as habitat restoration and improving biodiversity.

This model could be applied to prescribed or fuel reduction burning, carried out by local “GreenFire” groups. This would involve:

1. Developing and resourcing GreenFire groups.

These would be the equivalent of district Landcare groups, but focused on hazard reduction and fuel management. These groups could be encouraged to learn patch-burning techniques, and other landscape scale management practices, such as creating green firebreaks of non-flammable species.

If well coordinated, these techniques would reduce fire hazards across private and public lands. These groups could be an extension of existing Landcare groups combined with volunteer firefighting services. They would aim to increase capacity for fuel management at the landscape scale and provide opportunities for more people to learn skills and share knowledge, with and from professionals working in government forest and national parks agencies.

These kinds of activities, mostly in the cooler, green seasons would enhance the capacity of communities to prepare for future fires, and increase the capacity of traditional fire fighting to suppress dangerous fires.

2. These groups could work under the mentorship and authorisation of fuel management/reduction officers.

These could be public officers such as district fire officers or senior staff of public land management agencies who have had a long involvement in prescribed burning and fuel management on public lands.

3. In each district, fuel reduction periods could be officially declared.
With this declaration state governments would assume liability for fuel reduction fires, so long as they had the appropriate planning, approvals and resourcing (for example, they were undertaken by trained groups and certified by appropriate officials).

4. Fuel reduction burning should employ Indigenous fire rangers, drawing on Indigenous knowledge and celebrating Indigenous patchwork burning practices.

Involving Indigenous communities in such a program would combine traditional and modern burning practices. Blending cultural and modern burning techniques has proven successful in major savanna burning programs reducing carbon emissions from late season fires in Northern Australia.

Prevention is better than firefighting

Land use planning and management play key roles in shaping exposure to bushfire risks, and are therefore central to disaster mitigation.

Under conditions that favour wildfires, no amount of firefighting effort can protect all lives and property. Victoria’s Black Saturday Royal Commission – a comprehensive inquiry into the fires in which 173 people died, more than 5000 were injured and more than 2,000 houses destroyed – found that under extreme conditions, wildfires overwhelm the capacity of emergency services.

South-eastern Australia has long experience of intense fires, yet our population has spread into the bushlands of coastal hinterlands and urban fringes. This has occurred despite scientists warning for more than 30 years that wildfire risks were intensifying due to climate change.

There are no silver bullet fixes to reduce bushfires hazards. But pragmatic approaches based on extensive research have improved disaster responses, supported calls for stricter planning and building codes and quantified the benefits of strategically reducing fuel loads.

We must try creative new ways to reduce risk

Since the Stretton Royal Commission into the 1939 Black Friday bushfires, more than 16 major inquiries have called for greater use of integrated approaches to land use planning and management to minimise disaster risks.

With climate change increasing bushfire impacts and intensities, we need to build capacity in local communities to manage fire hazard. This requires education, training and adapting policies and landscape management practices to devise plans that suit local conditions.

Countless generations of Indigenous people have effectively managed fire risk through skillful burning. It is time to learn how to burn well and to share the techniques and methods that can enable us live well in our flammable landscape.The Conversation

Jason Alexandra, PhD candidate, RMIT University and David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania

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

Greens’ challenge aptly described by Paddy Manning, but with no solutions in sight


Marc Hudson, University of Manchester

Paddy Manning’s excellent account of the Australian Greens will not be the last word on Australia’s most successful third party, but will doubtless remain important and influential for many years to come.

Manning’s exhaustive (but never exhausting) Inside the Greens pulls the reader through almost half a century of battles over development that threatened the natural world. It spans Tasmania’s Lake Pedder battle in the 1970s to this year’s Galilee blockade over future coal extraction, including the proposed Adani mine – all while explaining the tensions between pragmatists and idealists.




Read more:
Greens on track for stability, rather than growth, this election


Inside the Greens should be read not just by those particularly interested in the issues, and the political tragics who buy all these sorts of books, but by anyone who feels the need to combat what veteran political journalist Laura Tingle calls “political amnesia”.

A well-informed perspective


Black Inc.

Manning has been working on this book for several years and some portions of the work have appeared in The Guardian and the Sydney Morning Herald. He has excellent access to archives and activists, and has interviewed extensively – including Bob Brown, Christine Milne and Richard Di Natale – and referenced sources such as writer Amanda Lohrey’s Quarterly Essay Groundswell and journalist Paul Kelly’s book Triumph and Demise.

Manning refers less to the broader academic literature, such as Tim Doyle’s Green Power and Hutton and Connors’ History of the Australian Environment Movement.

Manning is not the only writer to tackle the Greens of late. In the same way Shaun Crowe, author of Whitlam’s Children (astutely reviewed in Overland) was clear where his sympathies lay, so is Manning.

However Manning has not traded his critical faculties for access. While his sympathies are clear, both about the Greens party itself and within its ranks, you trust him not to soft-pedal. For example, he is perfectly happy to call out bad behaviour. Discussing the furore around Alex Bhathal, a perennial Greens candidate in Victoria, Manning says:

On a blunt assessment, Bhathal was a high-profile victim of a long-running feud between two Melbourne branches, the Darebin and Moreland Greens. Hardly anyone knows whence it started, or what it’s about.

The main strengths of the book are that Manning resists the temptation to merely handwave at the 1970s and ‘80s before diving into the gory (and much told) dilemmas of the Rudd-Gillard years (anyone looking for new juicy gossip about that period will be disappointed). Nor does he descend into blow-by-blow accounts of the tensions within the New South Wales Greens, and between the NSW and federal parties.

Inevitably in a book of this length and detail (and given that it was only completed after the recent federal election), some ambiguities and errors have slipped through. Among the more obvious, Australia did in fact sign the Kyoto Protocol (in April 1998), but only ratified it in November 2007 under Kevin Rudd. Far less importantly, Ben Oquist was strategic director, not executive director of The Australia Institute in 2014 when the bizarre Palmer-Gore deal saved the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, although he was involved in negotiations (I know, I know, I should get out more).

The first 11 chapters give a chronological account of the political pushes for sustainability in the 1960s and ’70s (without perhaps giving enough attention to pro-conservation Liberals and Labour at the time, or the tensions within the Australian Conservation Foundation) all the way through to the recent wars within the NSW Greens and the 2019 election.

The second, shorter half of the book is perhaps not quite as strong. Manning gives a serviceable account of the climate emergency, before an examination of tackling inequality in the “aspirational era”. A better chapter takes on the Greens’ defence and military policies – he approvingly quotes, but doesn’t cite, the defence expert Alan Carris.

Manning finally talks about the challenges ahead for the Greens. Herein lies the book’s greatest shortcoming. On page 398 Manning had already quoted Jonathan Moylan (he of a fake press release that temporarily wiped A$314 million from a coal company’s market value) saying “what we need is a movement powerful enough that it can’t be ignored by any politician”.




Read more:
The Australian Greens at 25: fighting the same battles but still no breakthrough


Indeed. And that is the great, largely unexamined, and seemingly unacknowledged failure of the green left, both inside and outside parliament. In the same way Denniss did a very good job of elucidating the problem with affluenza, Manning has diagnosed the problems for the capital G and lower-case greens without necessarily putting forward concrete or specific curatives. But nonetheless, this book deserves a very wide readership.


Inside the Greens is published by Black Inc.

This review was updated on Tuesday September 17. The original version stated Inside the Greens erroneously claimed the 20% greenhouse emissions reduction target was propounded by John Howard. In fact, the book said John Howard’s government renegotiated the 20% target.The Conversation

Marc Hudson, Researcher, University of Manchester

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

How much influence will independents and minor parties have this election? Please explain


Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

For some time now, Australian voters have rattled the cage of the political establishment. Frustrated with prime ministerial “coups”, political scandals and policy inertia, growing numbers have turned away from the major parties.

Does this mean minor parties and independent candidates will have a significant impact on the coming federal election?

Anti-major party sentiment doesn’t usually disrupt the numbers in parliament by much. Only five of 150 seats weren’t won by the major parties at the 2016 federal election, despite a national minor party/independent vote of over 23%. But a nationwide minor party Senate vote of over 35% in 2016 resulted in a record 20 crossbenchers – helped by a lower quota bar at a double dissolution election.

Familiar groups and faces are well placed to capitalise on this sentiment during the current election campaign.




Read more:
A matter of (mis)trust: why this election is posing problems for the media


Chasing the protest vote

Despite internal instability rocking its New South Wales branch, the Greens will hope to capitalise on growing progressive support (in Victoria especially) and an expected anti-Coalition swing to secure Senate influence.

Yet with recent Senate voting rule changes being tested for the first time at a normal half-Senate election, the Greens may in fact struggle to retain, let alone build on, their current nine Senate spots. Final Senate seats in most states will be fought over by a slew of (mainly right-wing) minor parties.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON), and – unlikely as it seems – Fraser Anning’s new Conservative National Party will chase the “protest vote” in all states and (apart from PHON) territories.

But intense competition for the conservative vote means they and other minor parties stand only an outside chance of winning lower house seats. One exception is Bob Katter likely holding Kennedy in north Queensland for his eponymous Australian Party.

Still, an expected high minor party vote will keep the major parties – and the media – focused on preferencing arrangements throughout the campaign. These preferences will likely play a key role in electing minor party candidates to the Senate, potentially returning familiar faces like One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts from Queensland.

Deference to preferences

Recent opinion poll results have unexpectedly placed Palmer’s party ahead of the field of minor parties on the right. Months of saturation advertising, it seems, have imprinted the billionaire’s messaging on voters’ minds. Yet this sudden poll prominence, like Palmer’s billboard pledge to “make Australia great”, is largely illusory.

Nevertheless, both major parties have responded to this seeming upsurge in UAP support. The Coalition has hurriedly concluded a preferencing arrangement that sees Palmer and Prime Minister Scott Morrison somewhat “reconciled”. The deal might deliver much-needed preferences to Coalition MPs in marginal seats, particularly in Queensland. It also increases the chances of Palmer candidates – and the man himself – winning a Senate seat.

But these are big “maybes”. Minor party voters are renowned for following their own preference choices. In 2013, voters’ preferences from Palmer’s United Party candidates split only 54% the Coalition’s way.

Clearly stung by the attention being shown to Palmer, Hanson has announced PHON will preference Labor last in some key marginal seats held by Liberal incumbents. That includes Peter Dutton, whose seat of Dickson is under siege. In 2016, PHON took a different approach when it preferenced against sitting MPs, costing the Coalition its hold on Queensland seats like Herbert and Longman.

As part of the same deal, PHON will exchange preferences with the Nationals – whose leader Michael McCormack claimed “it just made sense” – lifting the Nationals’ hopes in marginal and at-risk regional seats.

Labor has also sealed a deal to boost its chances in marginal Victorian seats, concluding an arrangement with Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. This will see Labor how-to-vote cards in tightly contested seats like Dunkley and Corangamite suggest second preferences go to Hinch’s Senate candidates ahead of the Greens (repeating Labor’s approach at the 2016 election).




Read more:
View from The Hill: Shorten had the content, Morrison had the energy in first debate


The reputational risks of preference deals

But doing preference deals with minor parties carries reputational risks, as former Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett has warned. As has often been the case with personality-driven outfits, choosing suitable or qualified candidates easily brings minor parties undone.

Anning’s party has already stumbled badly. A pair of candidates in Victoria and the ACT has been called into question, and a party supporter allegedly assaulted journalists in Sydney.

Hanson’s party, no stranger to this pitfall, is still hosing down the controversy of the Al Jazeera taped conversations with party insiders, which has likely cost the party some support. Freshly released video footage has now forced Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson, to resign in disgrace, in another blow to the often shambolic party’s standing.

Palmer’s candidates are similarly coming under scrutiny with doubts raised over citizenship qualifications, putting legitimate doubts into voters’ minds just as pre-polling has commenced.

Familiarity is key for independents

The best chances for independents are in lower house seats, yet there’s been only a dozen elected to parliament in the last several decades. Those who’ve broken through in election campaigns, like Kerryn Phelps at last year’s Wentworth byelection, typically benefit when there’s some controversy or ill-feeling towards an incumbent or their party.

But in the absence of full-on media glare of a high-profile by-election contest, Phelps might struggle to hold her seat – assuming the angst of local voters over Malcolm Turnbull’s deposing has dissipated.

Personal profile and high media interest puts Zali Steggall in with a chance to unseat Tony Abbott in Warringah. Likewise, a well-organised local campaign structure such as “Voices for Indi” behind Cathy McGowan’s hopeful successor, Helen Haines, can make the difference – though transition of support from one independent to another isn’t assured.

Newcomers on the ballot paper generally find the odds against them. Candidates with an established record and voter recognition, such as Andrew Wilkie in Tasmania’s Clark (like the Greens’ Adam Bandt in Melbourne and Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie in South Australia’s Mayo), enjoy an easier path to reelection.

Similarly, Rob Oakeshott is given a good chance of winning the New South Wales seat of Cowper from retiring Nationals MP, Luke Hartsuyker. He carries strong name recognition from his time as Independent MP for the neighbouring seat of Lyne.

But recognition alone mightn’t be enough for Julia Banks, the former Liberal MP for Chisholm in Victoria who is now challenging in Greg Hunt’s seat of Flinders. Her decision to preference Labor’s candidate above Hunt might turn away potential support from Liberal-leaning voters, yet could put the seat within Labor’s grasp.




Read more:
More grey tsunami than youthquake: despite record youth enrolments, Australia’s voter base is ageing


Minors and independents cloud the outcome

The chances of an “independent tide” sweeping several seats this election is unlikely, in part due to the ability of major parties to drown out the competition. And counter to long speculation about the “march of the minors”, there could in fact be a reduced crossbench in both the lower house and Senate.

But voter dissatisfaction with the major parties persists, and minor party preferences are likely to play a critical role in many seats.

The prominence of minor parties will maintain an air of unpredictability for the remainder of the campaign, clouding an election outcome many saw not long ago as a foregone conclusion.The Conversation

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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

Election tightens in Newspoll – Labor lead narrows to 51-49%


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Coalition has made up ground in Newspoll, now trailing Labor by just 49-51%, compared with 48-52% a fortnight ago.

The tightening of the May 18 race, coming after Scott Morrison was seen to out-campaign Bill Shorten early on, will boost Coalition morale as pre-polling begins on Monday.

But both sides have lost support on their primary votes in the Newspoll, published in the Australian, while Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is polling 5%, becoming the leading minor party behind the Greens.

Labor is down 2 points to 37%; the Coalition has fallen a point to 38%. The Greens remain on 9% and One Nation is static on 4%.

Shorten’s personal ratings are encouraging for him – he has had a 2 point rise to 39% in his satisfaction rating and reduced the gap on the better prime minister measure.

While Morrison still has a substantial lead as better PM, Shorten has increased his rating by 2 points to 37% and Morrison has fallen a point to 45%.

Morrison’s approval stayed on 45% while his disapproval was 46%, up 2 points, in the poll of 2136 voters taken Friday to Sunday.

Morrison and Shorten have arrived in Perth for Monday evening’s debate, their first face-to-face encounter of the campaign, which has under three weeks to run.

In a day of mega spending, Shorten on Sunday promised A$4 billion over three years to provide 887,000 families with relief on their child care costs; $2.4 billion over the forward estimates for a pensioner and seniors dental plan, and $537 million over the forward estimates to lift the pay of child care workers.




Read more:
Shorten promises $4 billion for child care, benefitting 887,000 families


Under Labor’s dental plan, age pensioners and those holding a Commonwealth seniors’ health card would be entitled to up to $1000 worth of free essential dental care every two years. Some three million people would be eligible under the plan, which would expand Medicare.

Shorten told a rally of volunteers in Melbourne: “Under a Labor government, after May 18 if you’re a pensioner or a seniors health care card holder your dental work will be backed by Medicare for the rest of your life. This is the fair go in action”.

Shorten said an ALP government over the next eight years would boost the average wage of child care workers by about $11,300. This would be on top of any rise in the award rate.

It would be “a 20% pay rise for the early educators because we value early education,” he said.

“This is an investment in quality early education, for good jobs and a strong economy of the future.

“And this is an investment in pay equity for a female-dominated industry. A fair reward for a workforce that has about 96% women, has been undervalued and underpaid for too long.”

Labor says the pay rise would not increase child care fees because the government would fully fund it.

In an initiative on cyber security the government is announcing it would to invest $156 million “to protect older Australians, small businesses and national security assets from the risk of cyber-attacks”.

A range of measures to combat cyber crime would include developing “a comprehensive online cyber security training program providing practical cyber advice for small businesses, older Australians and Australian families”.

The government says cybercrime costs the economy more than $1 billion a year.

In the vulnerable state of Victoria, the government is sandbagging the Liberal heartland seats of Higgins and Kooyong with a promise of $260 million to eliminate a level crossing on busy Glenferrie road in the suburb of Kooyong.

The project would take the train line under the road. The crossing is technically in Higgins but right on the border of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong. Frydenberg is being targeted by GetUp and various candidates especially on climate change.

In another Victorian seat, Flinders, Health Minister Greg Hunt has been dealt a blow by the decision of Liberal defector Julia Banks to preference Labor ahead of him.

Coalition campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham on Sunday accused her of walking away from her principles. “You’ve really got to wonder about the various positions of Julia Banks, who was until not that long ago urging people to vote Liberal and now is suggesting she will preference Labor. […] I think it shows gross inconsistency on her part”.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Palmer flypaper sticky for both sides


Clive Palmer on Monday is due to formally announce his preference deal with the Liberal party.

The debate about the debates has continued with Morrison wanting the third debate to be hosted by the ABC next week, on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights.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.

No matter who wins the election, many Australians think real leadership will be lacking


Samuel Wilson, Swinburne University of Technology; Jason Pallant, Swinburne University of Technology, and Timothy Colin Bednall, Swinburne University of Technology

With the federal election a little over a month away, it appears many Australians have little faith the winners will be able to provide the type of leadership that can change the country in a meaningful way.

According to our recent research, nearly a third (29.8%) of respondents believe that the Coalition shows no “leadership for the public good”, compared to just 5% who believe the Coalition shows such leadership to an extremely large extent.

Labor fared only slightly better – 24.9% of respondents believe it shows no “leadership for the public good”, compared to 7.3% who said it shows it to an extremely large extent.

Our findings revealed that minor parties, the Greens and One Nation, didn’t inspire confidence, either. About a third (32.9%) of respondents believe the Greens show no “leadership for the public good”, while just over half (50.3%) believe the same of One Nation.

Equally concerning is the collapse of Australians’ trust and confidence in their democratic institutions of government.

Just over a quarter (26.3%) of respondents believe that the federal government, as an institution, shows no “leadership for the public good”. This score is somewhat worse than perceptions of state governments (24.6%) and significantly worse than perceptions of local governments (16.2%).




Read more:
What can governments and leaders do when trust evaporates?


The findings come from the initial results of the Australian Leadership Index, a new quarterly survey from the Swinburne Business School that measures and tracks community perceptions and expectations of leadership across 12 institutions in the government, public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

These results were drawn from two nationally representative surveys of 1,000 Australians we conducted in March.

Taken together, the results provide more bad news for the Coalition in the lead-up to the federal election on May 18.

Accountability and ethics are key

We hasten to add that the disillusionment with the federal government does not extend to voters’ perceptions of the public sector. On balance, voters think the public health and education sectors show leadership for the public good.

This indicates that public disillusionment lies squarely with the people who make the policy, rather than those who implement it.

Consistent with other studies, our findings confirm the importance of transparency, accountability and ethics to perceptions of trust and confidence in leadership.




Read more:
Reforming our political system is not a quick fix. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to do it


From a community perspective, political leadership for the public good occurs when leaders demonstrate high ethical standards, prioritise transparency and accountability even when it could have a negative impact on their administrations, and are alive and responsive to the needs of the people they serve.

In other words, leadership for the greater good is reflected in what value leaders create, how they create this value, and for whom they create it.

Political leaders in Australia are currently lacking on all counts.

For whom is value created?

Our survey results shed light on where the public thinks the federal government is failing to create value and what the community expects of political leaders to serve the greater good.

Notably, creating economic value has no bearing on perceptions of politicians’ leadership for the public good. As former Liberal Party leader John Hewson recently observed, voters now take effective economic management for granted from governments.



The same could be said for the creation of social value through, for example, the provision of social services and the enactment of policies that enable people to flourish.

From the public’s perspective, the creation of social and economic value is essentially “core business” for the federal government.

In order to be seen as showing leadership for the public good, the federal government needs to go beyond business as usual.

What looms largest in the public mind when thinking about leadership for the greater good is how political leaders create value and for whom they create value.

Specifically, politicians need to behave ethically and demonstrate accountability for their actions. Australians have had enough of the opportunistic, short-term game of point-scoring and blame-shifting.




Read more:
Australians’ trust in politicians and democracy hits an all-time low: new research


Moreover, political leaders need to be seen as responsive to the people they serve, in addition to balancing the needs of different groups of stakeholders. Concern about the use of donations to gain access to, and exert influence over, politicians looms large in the public mind.

In the lead-up to the federal election, and in the wake of recent Royal Commissions into banking and religious institutions, it’s the ideal time for Australians to consider the kind of leadership we need for the Australia we want.The Conversation

Samuel Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Management, Swinburne University of Technology; Jason Pallant, Lecturer of Marketing, Swinburne University of Technology, and Timothy Colin Bednall, Senior Lecturer in Management, Fellow of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists, Swinburne University of Technology

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

Australia: 2019 NSW Election


NSW election neck and neck as voters face a 1950s-style ‘I’ll see you and raise you’ campaign


David Clune, University of Sydney

On Saturday, March 23, the people of New South Wales will head to the ballot boxes for a state election. It is looking increasingly close, with polls showing government and opposition neck and neck on about 50% of the two-party preferred vote. This is a decline in the Coalition vote of 4% compared to the 2015 election.

The current campaign is reminiscent of a 1950s “I’ll see you and raise you” one. Government and opposition are engaged in an auction to outbid each other in the amounts committed to schools, hospitals, transport and other basic services. The campaign is one of the quietest in a long time, with little excitement about the respective leaders and no major clash of visions for the future.




Read more:
Mark Latham in the upper house? A Coalition minority government? The NSW election is nearly upon us and it’s going to be a wild ride


Mike Baird’s victory in 2015 laid the foundation for this. The then Coalition leader won a mandate to privatise the state’s electricity network, although sacrificing seats his successor would be glad to have in reserve. The mountains of money produced by this and other privatisations have allowed Premier Gladys Berejiklian to go to the election with a massive war chest.

In addition, the NSW economy is in good shape, performing well compared to most other states. The budget is in surplus and predicted to remain there. Net debt is negative. Unemployment is at a record low.

The Coalition government has a large array of infrastructure projects in progress, including the Westconnex and Northconnex motorways, Sydney Metro – the largest public transport project in Australia – and the CBD and South East light rail. The amount committed for infrastructure over the next four years is just under A$90 billion.

Berejiklian’s pitch is: don’t jeopardise all this by electing Labor. She is keen to remind the electorate of the factional bloodletting, policy paralysis and corruption that marked the final years of the last ALP government in NSW. The release during the campaign of Ian Macdonald, another ex-ALP minister, after his conviction was quashed, assisted the government by putting their misdeeds back on the front pages.

The Coalition also has some significant problems. Overdevelopment is devastating many Sydney suburbs. Residents angry at the disruption to their lives are likely to turn against the Liberals. The premier will not be presiding at many opening ceremonies for infrastructure projects before the election. More apparent are cost over-runs, delays and short-term inconvenience.

The general unpopularity of the federal Coalition government is a handicap for its NSW counterpart. In rural NSW, a belief that the Nationals have neglected voters’ interests could cost the government seats.




Read more:
Low-key NSW election likely to reveal a city-country divide


Opposition Leader Michael Daley struggled at first to gain momentum and attention. His campaign ignited three weeks out from polling day when he took on influential radio commentator Alan Jones over the Sydney stadiums issue. This has been a festering sore for the government since November 2017, when Berejiklian announced that both Allianz Stadium at Moore Park and ANZ Stadium at Homebush would be simultaneously demolished and rebuilt at an estimated cost of A$2.5 billion.

The public outcry at what was seen as wasteful expense was so great that she quickly backed off. The rebuilding of Allianz would proceed, but ANZ would now be renovated, saving A$1 billion.

Labor quickly seized on the issue, opposing the demolition of Allianz and coining the effective slogan of “schools and hospitals before Sydney stadiums”.

Jones is a member of the prestigious Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, which controls Allianz and has lobbied strongly for its rebuilding. Daley attacked Jones and promised to sack him and most members of the trust.

Daley instantly became the people’s politician, unafraid to stand up to a powerful broadcaster and an elite board. He put the stadium issue back at the centre of the campaign. It crystallised the perception that the government is more concerned about developers and big business than the community.

But does Daley have anything more positive to offer? There is some policy differentiation.

Labor has promised there will be no more privatisations and will re-regulate the electricity industry. Labor also has stronger policies on the environment and climate change than the Coalition. It will be more generous to the public sector. But the main thrust of Daley’s campaign is: we will give you more of the same but do it better.

The government has 52 of the 93 seats in the Legislative Assembly. The opposition holds 34. A uniform swing of nearly 9%, just under what it achieved at the last election, would be needed for Labor to gain a majority in its own right.

A feature of this poll is the difference between Sydney and the bush. In 2015, Labor picked up most of the low-hanging fruit in Sydney and only a handful of seats are in play this time. In rural and regional NSW, the Nationals face a strong challenge from independents and minor parties.

If the government loses six seats, it will be in a minority. After appointing a speaker, its numbers would drop to 45. The crossbench would be in a crucial position.

Currently, there are seven crossbench MPs in the lower house: three Greens, a Shooter and three independents (Alex Greenwich, Joe McGirr and Greg Piper). The Greens have already indicated they would support the Coalition. Greenwich is on the left and has close links with his predecessor, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. The other three are more conservatively inclined. The election of additional crossbenchers would add to the unpredictability.

Daley is hoping the electorate has forgotten about Obeid and that accumulated dissatisfaction with the government will translate into a victory for him. The result hinges on whether voters have lost faith in the Coalition to the extent that they are prepared to trust Labor again.The Conversation

David Clune, Honorary Associate, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

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