Grattan on Friday: Malcolm Turnbull’s NEG remains in snake-infested territory


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull had a party-room victory but a god-awful week, and it wasn’t because his approval plunged in Monday’s Newspoll. His energy policy is back in the mire, and Tony Abbott is being – as one colleague neatly describes it – the agent of chaos.

It’s nearly unimaginable how the Coalition chooses to replay that old self-destructive record. In Bill Shorten’s office they’ve been digging out the 2009 headlines, such as “Battered Turnbull faces mutiny” and “Abbott leaves leader in crisis”.

Well, Turnbull is not “in crisis” but things are quite a serious mess, as those who hate him, plus others who don’t, sharpen their attack in another round of the climate wars.

In Tuesday’s Coalition parties meeting, where Turnbull won strong support for his energy policy, several reserved their right to cross the floor on the emissions reduction legislation, and later more said they might do so. There was talk of up to ten.




Read more:
Turnbull beats Abbott over NEG, now Frydenberg has to win Victoria


Assistant minister Keith Pitt, from the Nationals, let rumours run that he might stand down from the frontbench to oppose the legislation (a cynical Nationals source said: “he’s made hollow threats before”).

Resources Minister Matt Canavan (also a National), asked in the Senate whether he’d attempted to persuade Pitt on the National Energy Guarantee, said he’d “tried to persuade all I’ve spoken to about the common sense of adopting” the NEG.

The Nationals’ federal council meets this weekend in Canberra, where there will be a lot of chatter about the NEG. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in his council address will emphasise the vital importance of lowering power prices – very safe ground – but given his divided ranks, he isn’t expected to come out with a passionate advocacy of the technology-neutral NEG. A motion on the council’s agenda calls on the government “to support the building of high-energy, low-emissions, coal-fired power stations”.

It’s one thing for backbenchers to talk about crossing the floor, quite another to do it. Turnbull is working hard on the rebels – though obviously not on Abbott – to try to bring them around.

They have wish lists, and Turnbull, the ultimate transactional politician, is seeking doable ways to mollify them. The government has already indicated it will accept the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendation to underwrite new dispatchable power projects.

On Thursday night a senior source said Turnbull was considering “heavy-handed intervention” to bring down prices. “The prime minister is not afraid to pull out the big stick on electricity companies if that’s what it takes,” the source said.

The stakes are clear. If everything went pear-shaped and there were enough floor-crossers in the House of Representatives to sink the package’s emissions reduction legislation, that would effectively (though not literally) amount to a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

Hard to imagine, and probably only Abbott is thinking that far ahead. When other dissidents contemplate what could happen, some can be expected to fold on that ground alone.

Meantime, things fray as pressure mounts.

Take Peter Dutton’s Thursday interview with 2GB’s Ray Hadley. Hadley challenged Dutton over the energy policy, demanding to know, “Are you blindly loyal [to Turnbull]?” Instead of mounting a full-throttle defence of the policy, Dutton said he gave frank advice in private as a member of the cabinet and didn’t bag out colleagues or the prime minister publicly. This just left a question mark over what Dutton actually thinks about the policy.

Turnbull is up against multiple obstacles, apart from the insurgents.

He needs to get the states and the ACT onboard for the NEG, but the Victorian Labor government has a particular interest in procrastinating, and may do so until it goes into caretaker mode in October. It is judging what’s best for itself electorally, especially given its battle with the Greens in Melbourne’s inner metropolitan electorates.

Impatient as the federal government is to get finality on the NEG, it could be risky for it to press the Victorians too hard before the November state election. That might just increase the chances of a firm “no”. As one federal source says, Victoria needs to be accorded some space.

After the state election, things would be easier. If the government changed in Victoria, the new administration would sign up. If Labor was returned – and had left open its position on the NEG during the campaign – it might be more readily persuaded to fall into line.

Then there is federal Labor. It is generally thought the government will need ALP support to pass the emissions reduction legislation in the Senate, and defections could mean Labor was needed in the lower house too.

The argument has gone: Labor would try to amend the emissions reduction target in the legislation but, assuming that failed, it could then pass the legislation in order to take the climate/energy issue off the 2019 election agenda. That would leave a Shorten government able to increase the target later.

If Labor sees Turnbull being wounded by the internal battle, however, it would have every incentive to hold out on the emissions legislation, leaving the prime minister unable to deliver it.

Another set of players in Turnbull’s energy problems comprise the media shouters: Alan Jones, Hadley, Peta Credlin, Andrew Bolt.

They direct their megaphones to the so-called Coalition “base” and their messages resonate particularly with the Liberal National Party’s grass roots in Queensland. This makes some backbenchers nervous, inclining them (in one description) to “virtue signal” to the base.

Coalition backbenchers generally, increasingly frightened for their seats, are caught in a swirl of pressures and emotions. Some are angry at Abbott. Some look for an unrealistic nirvana, where prices suddenly plunge in time for the election.

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The Conversation

Some just want the NEG out of the way, a policy in the kit bag, whatever they think of it. NSW Liberal senator Jim Molan, who describes the NEG as “sub-optimal” told Sky he supported the package on the basis that “we’ve got to focus on getting re-elected”, noting: “I’ve spent all my life making rubbish policy work.” An endorsement of sorts.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

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Turnbull beats Abbott over NEG, now Frydenberg has to win Victoria


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has secured a decisive party room victory over Tony Abbott, taking the government’s signature National Energy Guarantee policy another step towards implementation.

Tuesday’s Coalition party room, in a 155-minute debate, gave strong support to the plan. But sources variously said four or five MPs – Abbott, Andrew Hastie, senator Eric Abetz, Tony Pasin and George Christensen – had reserved their right to cross the floor when the federal legislation for the emissions target comes to parliament, and others expressed doubts and criticisms.

In a statement after the meeting, Abbott said at least a dozen had expressed “serious concerns about the NEG or about turning the non-binding Paris targets into law”.

During the debate, Abbott pointedly referred to “merchant bankers’ gobbledigook”.

Tuesday’s party room mood reflected that most Coalition MPs accept that to save marginal seats and give the government, embattled in the polls, its best chance of survival, they need to unite behind Turnbull and the government’s policies.

During the meeting, several MPs told the dissidents they should reconsider their position and show cohesion.

The fate of the NEG scheme now depends crucially on the Labor states – notably Victoria – giving consent to it, and on the parliamentary numbers for the federal emissions reduction legislation.

The government is likely to need Labor support to get the emission legislation through. The legislation will be introduced this parliamentary fortnight.

Labor’s position is that it does not want this legislation debated until the states have made their decision on the NEG. When it is debated, the opposition will seek to amend it for a higher target. It has not said what it would do if, as expected, its amendment failed.

The Victorian Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said after the Coalition party meeting: “We’ll study the Commonwealth NEG legislation thoroughly to see what concessions Malcolm Turnbull has given the climate sceptics in his party room.”

“We have said all along – we won’t let Malcolm Turnbull put our renewable energy industry and Victorian jobs at risk. We’ll continue to work through the COAG energy council to address our concerns.”

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has a phone hook up with state ministers late Tuesday. They are set to release draft state legislation for the NEG mechanism.

But the states are not due to consider their support for the scheme again for some weeks, after failing to sign up last Friday. It is a race against time for the federal government, because Victoria goes into caretaker mode in October for the November election.




Read more:
Labor states keep the National Energy Guarantee in play but withhold agreement


With Victoria the main obstacle, Frydenberg said: “It’s time Daniel Andrews stopped walking both sides of the street and put the interests of Victorians first and the businesses of Victorians first. And he would do that by signing up to the National Energy Guarantee before he goes into caretaker mode.”

The pro-coal MPs were reassured in the party room by the government’s acceptance of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendation for the federal government to underwrite new despatchable power projects.

After the meeting, Abbott released an angry statement in response to the “rampant hostile briefing of journalists while the meeting was underway.”

“Yes, as the Prime Minister said at its close, there was party room support for the minister’s position. Much of it though, was of the ‘yes … but’ variety: congratulating him for the work he’d done in difficult circumstances and saying that the NEG was the best way through a bad situation.

“But most then added that what really mattered was actually getting prices down – not just talking about modelling – and actually getting more despatchable power into the system via ACCC recommendation 4 [on underwriting].

“Unfortunately, most explanations of how the NEG (as it stands without price targets) might theoretically get prices down sound like merchant bankers’ gobbledigook.

“It was a real pity that the meeting broke up before the chairman of the backbench committee, Craig Kelly, was able to finish his contribution.

“Yes, there were lots of pleas for unity but as one MP said, we’ve got to be loyal to our electorates and to party members too, and not show the ‘unity of lemmings’”.

“Yes, there was lots of regard for the ‘experts’ and for ‘business leaders’ but as one MP said ‘I’m not here for the technocrats’.

“I heard at least four lower house MPs formally reserve their position on the legislation and at least a dozen express serious concerns about the NEG or about turning the non-binding Paris targets into law with massive penalties attached.

“This is the big question that the party room didn’t really grapple with: when the big emitters are not meeting Paris, why should we? Especially, as even the Chief Scientist said, the difference meeting our target would make is ‘virtually nothing’”, Abbott’s statement said.

The Business Council of Australia called on “state and territory leaders to now get on with the job of implementing the National Energy Guarantee by releasing the draft legislation.

“It’s up to Victoria and Queensland, along with the other states and territories, to stop playing political games with people’s power bills.

“COAG Energy Council must stop dithering and finally act to end the decade of dysfunction that has plagued our energy sector.”

UPDATE

The ConversationIn a phone hook-up on Tuesday night the COAG energy council agreed to release an exposure draft of the National Electricity Law amendments needed to establish the mechanism for the NEG.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Poll wrap: Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump; Labor leads in Victoria; Longman preferences helped LNP



File 20180813 2909 5dkqja.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
In this week’s Newspoll, 36% (down six) were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance, while 55% (up seven) were dissatisfied.
AAP/Richard Wainwright

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted August 9-12 from a sample of 1,607, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged on last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (down two), 35% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (up two).

This is Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition’s 38th successive Newspoll loss, eight ahead of Tony Abbott’s 30 losses and five ahead of the previous record losing streak for a government. Labor’s primary vote in this poll is its lowest since April 2017, and the Coalition’s primary is its lowest since March.

36% (down six) were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance, and 55% (up seven) were dissatisfied, for a net approval of -19, down 13 points, Turnbull’s lowest net approval since April. Analyst Kevin Bonham says this is Turnbull’s second biggest poll-to-poll net approval drop. Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -24, and Turnbull led Shorten by 44-32 as better PM, down from 48-29 last fortnight.

By 37-36, voters thought Turnbull and the Coalition would be better than Shorten and Labor at maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower, a narrowing from a 40-34 Coalition lead in June. 63% (steady since June) thought the government’s priority should be to keep energy prices down, 26% (up two) thought it should meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and 8% (down one) thought it should prevent blackouts.

A question on lifting restrictions on gas exploration is skewed because it asks, “Would you be in favour or opposed to the lifting of these restrictions if it would lead to lower energy prices?” The italicised part should not be part of a poll question.

In the past few months, Turnbull has benefited from a more united Coalition. The main issue has been the company tax cuts, which the right wing of the party strongly supports. With Shorten under pressure owing to Turnbull’s dominance of the better PM measure, last fortnight’s Essential, which I covered on my personal website, showed that the Coalition and Labor were perceived as equally divided; the Coalition had a 13-point lead in November 2017.

I believe Turnbull’s ratings have been damaged by Coalition disagreements in the wake of the Longman byelection. Some Coalition backbenchers would now like the tax cuts scrapped. Tony Abbott and other hard right Coalition MPs disagree with Turnbull on the National Energy Guarantee. Some of the drop for Turnbull may be caused by the awarding of $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Whatever the cause of Turnbull’s ratings slump, the Coalition cannot take much comfort from the still-close voting intentions. The PM’s net approval and voting intentions are strongly correlated. If Turnbull’s drop is sustained, the Coalition is likely to lose ground on voting intentions.

Victorian Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor

The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A Galaxy poll for The Herald Sun, presumably conducted last week from a sample of 1,095, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since a December Galaxy poll. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up one), 38% Labor (up two), 10% Greens (steady) and 5% One Nation (down one).

By 46-29, respondents thought Matthew Guy and the Coalition would be tougher on crime than Daniel Andrews and Labor. Andrews and Labor led by 37-35 on keeping the cost of living in check. Andrews led by 40-33 as better Premier (41-25 in December).

This is the third successive Victorian poll to give Labor a 51-49 lead, after Newspoll in April and ReachTEL in July. It will be a relief for Labor that they have a lead after 17 people were arrested on August 2 in connection with the “rorts for votes” scandal.

In July, I wrote that time is running out to abolish the group voting ticket system in the upper house. With less than six weeks until September 20, the last scheduled Victorian parliamentary sitting day before the election, there is still no proposal for upper house reform.




Read more:
Victorian ReachTEL poll: 51-49 to Labor, and time running out for upper house reform


WA Galaxy: 51-49 to federal Coalition, 54-46 to state Labor

A federal Western Australian Galaxy poll for The Sunday Times, conducted August 2-3 from a sample of 831, gave the Coalition a 51-49 lead, a three-point gain for the Coalition since July 2017, but still a 4% swing to Labor in WA since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 42% Coalition (up three), 36% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (down one) and 5% One Nation (steady).

By 50-36, voters opposed company tax cuts for all businesses, including those with turnovers over $50 million a year. Turnbull and Shorten were tied at 40% each on ensuring WA receives a fairer share of GST revenue.

State Labor had a 54-46 lead in the same poll, a 1.5% swing to the Liberals/Nationals since the March 2017 state election. Primary votes were 40% Labor, 32% Liberal, 6% National, 11% Greens and 5% One Nation.

Queensland Galaxy: 51-49 to state Labor

A Queensland Galaxy poll for The Courier Mail, conducted August 8-9 from a sample of 800, gave state Labor a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for the LNP since May. Primary votes were 37% LNP (up two), 35% Labor (down three), 11% Greens (up one) and 10% One Nation (down two).

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had a 41-38 approval rating (46-38 in May). Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a 31-26 approval (31-28). Palaszczuk led by 44-23 as better Premier (47-27 in May).

Super Saturday byelections: final results and analysis

This section gives final results and analysis of the three contested Super Saturday byelections held on July 28. Swings are compared against the 2016 election results.




Read more:
Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo


In Braddon, Labor defeated the Liberals by a 52.3-47.7 margin, a 0.1% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.3% Liberal (down 2.3%), 37.0% Labor (down 3.1%), 10.6% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% for the Shooters and 4.0% for the Greens (down 2.7%). Labor probably benefited from Liberal attacks on Garland, which increased his profile and made his voters more hostile to the Liberals.

In Mayo, the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie defeated Liberal Georgina Downer by 57.6% to 42.4%, a 2.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 44.4% Sharkie (up 9.5%), 37.4% Liberal (down 0.3%), 8.9% Greens (up 0.9%) and 6.1% Labor (down 7.5%).

In Longman, Labor defeated the LNP by a 54.5-45.5 margin, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor (up 4.5%), 29.6% LNP (down 9.4%), 15.9% One Nation (up 6.5%) and 4.8% Greens (up 0.4%).

We do not yet have the preference flows for each candidate, but we can make some deductions. In Longman, if 80% of Greens preferenced Labor (it was 80.7% in 2016), then the LNP received 58% of all Others preferences, up from 44% in 2016. In 2016, One Nation directed preferences to Labor, and Labor won 56.5% of their preferences; at the byelection, Labor probably won less than 40% of One Nation preferences.

As regards One Nation preferences, the Longman byelection validates Newspoll’s decision to assign One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the LNP, rather than the 50-50 split at the 2016 federal election.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor’s Newspoll lead narrows federally and in Victoria


There have been three vigorously contested byelections between the major parties since the last election: Bennelong, Braddon and Longman. At the December 2017 Bennelong byelection, there was a 4.8% swing to Labor, compared with a 3.7% swing in Longman and just 0.1% in Braddon.

The ConversationHowever, at the 2016 general election, there was a 7.7% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.8% swing in Braddon, but a 2.0% swing to the Liberals in Bennelong. Adding the byelection swings to the 2016 swings gives an 11.4% swing to Labor in Longman, a 4.9% swing in Braddon, but just 2.8% in Bennelong.

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

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

Polls update: Trump’s ratings held up by US economy; Australian polls steady



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If the economy does not perform well, Trump’s ratings are likely to suffer a large drop.
AAP/EPA/Mark Lyons

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Three months before the November 6 US midterm elections, the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate gives Donald Trump a 41.7% approval rating and a 52.5% disapproval rating, for a net approval of -10.8. Despite issues such as Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and immigration, his ratings have been fairly stable since rising to their present level in early May, helped by the good US economy.

Trump performs poorly when compared to other presidents at this stage in their presidencies. When comparing net approval, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate shows Trump is only ahead of Harry Truman, president from 1945-53. Presidents prior to Truman came before there was much scientific polling.

According to CNN analyst Harry Enten, the majority of presidents approaching a midterm had an overall job approval far higher than their approval of handling the economy. The two largest exceptions were Bill Clinton in 1998, owing to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Trump now. In both these cases, the president’s approval on the economy far exceeded his overall approval.




Read more:
Why the world should be worried about the rise of strongman politics


The implication of Trump’s economic vs overall approval gap is that the good US economy is holding up his approval. If the economy does not perform well, Trump’s ratings are likely to suffer a large drop.

Trump has bragged that his approval ratings with Republicans are higher than Abraham Lincoln’s. Lincoln died long before scientific polling started, so we do not know what his ratings were.

The Huffington Post Pollster aggregate has Trump’s approval with Republicans at a high 85%, but self-identified Republicans made up just 26% of all registered voters in 2017 according to the Pew Research Centre, down from 29% in 2016. This suggests that Trump is appealing to a diminishing base.

Trump’s popularity with Republican voters explains why criticism from prominent Republican politicians over issues such as Russia and tariffs has been muted. According to Enten, candidates endorsed by Trump have won Republican primaries, but Trump’s poor overall ratings are a negative for Republicans in a general election.

Republicans barely hold Ohio 12 seat at byelection, and midterm election polling

On Tuesday, the Republican, Troy Balderson, defeated the Democrat, Danny O’Connor, by a 50.2-49.3 margin in a byelection for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. Provisional votes are likely to narrow the gap, but not overturn the current Balderson lead.

Trump won this district by an 11.3 point margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Mitt Romney won by a similar 10.5 point margin against Barack Obama in 2012. This district is historically Republican; the Democrats have only won it once since the 1930’s, in 1980. A loss by less than one point is a strong result for the Democrats.

In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, Democrats hold a 47.4-41.2 lead over Republicans in the race for Congress. This aggregate has been more volatile than the aggregate of Trump’s ratings, and the recent move towards the Republicans could vanish soon.

All 435 House seats are up for election on November 6. Owing to natural clustering of Democratic voters and Republican gerrymandering, Democrats probably need to win the House popular vote by about seven points to take control.

35 of the 100 Senate seats are also up for election on November 6, including two Senate byelections in Mississippi and Minnesota. 26 of these seats are currently held by Democrats and just nine by Republicans. Democrats will be defending five states that voted for Trump by at least 18 points.




Read more:
ReachTEL poll 52-48 to Labor as party faces Perth byelection, and strong swings to US Democrats


Despite the tough Senate map for Democrats, RealClearPolitics gives Republicans just a 48-45 lead for the Senate including seats not up for election. Seven states are rated toss-ups; these occur when the polling average has a lead under five points. If toss-up states are assigned to the current leader, Republicans hold a 51-49 Senate lead, suggesting no net change from the current Senate.

Australian polls: Newspoll and Essential both 51-49 to Labor

Last week’s Newspoll, conducted July 26-29 from a sample of 1,700, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 39% Coalition (up one), 36% Labor (steady), 10% Greens (steady) and 7% One Nation (steady). Three of the four days of this poll’s fieldwork were taken before the Super Saturday byelection results were known.

This was the Coalition’s 37th successive Newspoll loss under Malcolm Turnbull, four more than the previous record of consecutive Newspoll losses for a government. However, the primary vote shift in this poll indicate the Coalition is closing in on a 50-50 Newspoll.

42% were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance (up one), and 48% were dissatisfied (down one), for a net approval of -6, equal with a Newspoll four weeks ago for Turnbull’s best net approval this term. Bill Shorten’s net approval fell one point to -25. Turnbull maintained an unchanged 48-29 lead as better PM.




Read more:
Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo


Last week’s Essential, also conducted July 26-29 from a sample of 1,022, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, unchanged since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 41% Coalition (up one), 36% Labor (steady), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady). Essential is using 2016 election flows, and this poll would be 50-50 by Newspoll’s new methods.

For more on Newspoll and Essential, including best to lead Labor and Liberal questions and party attribute changes, see my personal website. Turnbull and Anthony Albanese have gained in Liberal and Labor leadership polling.

Greenpeace ReachTEL poll: 52-48 to Labor

A ReachTEL poll for Greenpeace, conducted July 30 – two days after Super Saturday – from a sample of 4,000, gave Labor a 52-48 lead by respondent allocated preferences. Primary votes, after assigning undecided through a forced choice, were 37.3% Coalition, 34.4% Labor, 12.1% Greens and 7.9% One Nation. A Victorian breakdown of this poll gave Labor a 57-43 lead with the Greens on a high 18.0%.

The ConversationReachTEL always asks for voting intentions first, but other questions in these polls are skewed towards Greenpeace’s environmental agenda.

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

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

Victorian Labor government shapes up to Canberra over NEG


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Victorian Labor government’s cabinet will consider on Monday a raft of demands around the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) ahead of a crucial federal-state energy ministers’ meeting later this week.

This comes as a broad group of business and industry bodies appeals to “federal, state and territory leaders to put aside politics and ideology and support the implementation of the National Energy Guarantee.

“Business and industry need policy certainty and stability in the energy sector. There can be no further delays,” they say in a statement issued on Monday.

Like Victoria, the Labor governments in Queensland and the ACT are pressing for changes and guarantees on the NEG package, but the Andrews government is shaping up as particularly gung ho. It is under intense political heat, facing an election in November, with contests against the Greens in inner city seats.

The Council of Australian Governments energy council meets on Friday. The federal government wants approval given to the NEG mechanism there. That mechanism requires state legislation.

If he can get in-principle agreement on the NEG mechanism on Friday, federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will then take the planned federal legislation on emissions targets to the Coalition party room the following Tuesday, with the COAG energy council to sign off on the package after that meeting.

There would be a meeting about the final detail of the state legislation in September.

The Labor jurisdictions are discussing a range of demands.

These include that

… emissions targets could only be increased not reduced;

… increases in targets should be able to be made by regulation rather than requiring legislation that could be blocked by the Senate;

… the emissions reduction targets should be reviewed every three years. Frydenberg is proposing a five year review period, after initially planning for a ten year period.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Dutton and Frydenberg struggle with the currents in shark-infested waters


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday: “There is significant doubt that the Prime Minister can even get through his own party room the reforms that he would like us to sign up to.” Andrews said that Tony Abbott, who is highly critical of the NEG, had significant support for his views in the party room.

Victoria wanted the Prime Minister to show he had party room support and then come back to the states, Andrews said, repeating the position his energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio put last week. Frydenberg has said the states will get the chance for another look in the phone hook up after the Coalition party meeting.

Andrews said the federal government’s plan would in part see Victoria and other states “ceding to the Commonwealth the authority to set renewable energy targets, for instance, putting renewable energy jobs and putting additional supply into the grid into the hands of the some of those in the Prime Minister’s own party room”.

The ACT government last week said it could not support the NEG in its current form, with the territory’s legislative assembly passing a motion calling for improvements.

The Queensland Energy Minister, Anthony Lynham, will not be at Friday’s meeting – a surgeon, he is volunteering on a boat off Papua New Guinea. He will be represented by an acting minister. Queensland has expressed concerns about its renewables target – 50% of energy coming from renewables by 2030 – being compromised.

Federal sources are reacting sharply to the looming demands from the Labor states, saying that emissions targets are the responsibility of the federal government, not the states, and that nothing in the NEG restricts state governments’ renewable targets. They also say that Victoria has the second highest power prices.

As the NEG battle enters a crucial week, the statement from business and industry groups says: “Together our organisations represent businesses that employ millions of Australian workers. The business sector employs five out of six working Australians and contributes more than 80% of economic output in this country”.

The statement is put out by the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Council of Small Business Organisations, the National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and the Australian Energy Council.

It says “a decade of policy uncertainty has only resulted in higher electricity prices and a less stable and reliable energy system”.

“Now is the time to act in Australia’s national interest. Australian households and businesses cannot afford the costs of yet another cycle of political sparring, indecision and inaction”.

The CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, on Sunday made a forceful plea for the NEG to get support.

She said a “decade of dysfunction” needed to be ended and this was a scheme that businesses said could be made to work.

“Look, you can’t satisfy the extremes of this debate. If you took the extreme green movement, you do nothing because the community would not tolerate the deindustrialisation of the economy that basically they’re arguing for.

“You can’t satisfy the extreme right of this debate because again, you do nothing, ” she told Sky.

“So we keep dithering as a country and as we dither … prices continue to go up. Investment uncertainty continues to rise.

The Conversation“We’ll just have to get on with this and get some progress. If you’re trying to satisfy both ends of this debate … you will do nothing for another 20 years.”

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

FactCheck: has Pauline Hanson voted ‘effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government’ in 2018?


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This year [Pauline Hanson] has voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government. Honestly you may as well vote LNP if you are voting One Nation because there is no difference.

– Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, doorstop interview, Caboolture, Queensland, July 10, 2018

In recent weeks, senior Labor Party figures have sought to draw attention to the voting patterns of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, arguing that a vote for the minor party is a vote for the Coalition.

At the Labor campaign launch in the Queensland seat of Longman ahead of Saturday’s crucial byelections, opposition leader Bill Shorten said it’s “a fact that if you vote One Nation, you are voting [Liberal National Party]. You are not protesting, you are being used to send a vote to the LNP.”

On the same day, shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers described One Nation as “the wholly-owned subsidiary of Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party”.

Earlier this month, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said that in 2018, Pauline Hanson had “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government”.

Let’s look at the records.

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, Tanya Plibersek said:

Pauline Hanson voted with the Liberals to cut school funding and voted to cut family benefits while she voted herself a massive $7,000 a year tax cut. Australian voters deserve to know the truth about Hanson’s voting record in Canberra.

Plibersek’s comment related to votes on second and third reading votes (including amendments) on legislation.

Plibersek’s office highlighted 20 such votes in 2018 in which Labor and the Coalition disagreed. Of those, Hanson abstained from one vote, and voted 18 times with the government. (The equivalent of 95% of the time, with the abstention excluded.)

A spokesperson told The Conversation Plibersek used the qualifier “effectively” in her original comment to indicate that Hanson voted with the Coalition almost all of the time.


Verdict

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said Pauline Hanson has “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government” in 2018.

Parliamentary records show the figure to be between 83-86%, depending on the measure used.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has cast 169 formal votes in the Senate to date in 2018. Of those, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

If we look at the 99 occasions where the government and opposition were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the minor party voted with the government 86% of the time.


Voting in the Senate

Votes in the Senate can be determined “on the voices” or “by division”.

For a vote to pass on the voices, a majority of senators must call “aye” in response to the question posed by the chair.

If two or more senators challenge the chair’s conclusion about whether the “ayes” or “noes” are in the majority, a division is called.

Bells are then rung for four minutes to call senators to the chamber. The question is posed again, and senators vote by taking their place on the right or left hand side of the chair, before the votes are counted by tellers.

Voting records are only published for votes passed by division.

How has One Nation voted in 2018?

We can look to parliamentary records to test Plibersek’s claim.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is represented in the parliament by party leader and Queensland senator Pauline Hanson, and West Australian senator Peter Georgiou. New South Wales senator Brian Burston was a One Nation senator until June 2018.

Plibersek’s comment referred to votes on the second and third readings of legislation in the full Senate, excluding procedural votes, motions and votes in Senate committees.

But votes that take place in Senate committees, after the second reading, but before the third, are also important. Much of the legislative process is done “in committee”, where various parties propose amendments to legislation, and these are voted on.

So counting only the full Senate votes on legislation as being significant, as Plibersek did, does not give the full picture.

Stages of consideration of bills in the Australian Senate.
Parliament of Australia, Brief Guides to Senate Procedure

In this FactCheck, I will consider all the divisions, from a number of different angles.

There have been 187 divisions in the Senate so far this year. Of those, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 141 occasions (or 75% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 28 occasions (or 15% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 18 occasions (or 10% of the time).

Of the 169 divisions where One Nation voted, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

But it’s important to consider the balance of power.

When the Coalition and Labor vote the same way, minor party votes do not affect the outcome. When the Coalition and Labor are in disagreement, minor party votes are all important.

There have been 110 such divisions between the Coalition and Labor in the Senate in 2018 to date.

In these 110 divisions, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 85 occasions (or 77% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 14 occasions (or 13% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 11 occasions (10% of the time).

If we look at the 99 divisions where the Coalition and Labor were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the party voted with the Coalition 86% of the time.

By comparison, in the 110 divisions where Labor opposed the government, the Australian Greens supported the Coalition 5% of the time, and the Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) did so 56% of the time.

The calculations for the Greens and Centre Alliance above do not include abstentions and cases where the party vote was split. – Adrian Beaumont

Blind review

The author’s points and statistics appear to be all in order.

As the FactCheck shows, while One Nation has not voted with the government 100% of the time, it has supported the Coalition in a large majority of cases. – Zareh Ghazarian


The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

The ConversationHave you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

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

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

Longman result shows Queensland vote is volatile and One Nation remains potent



File 20180730 106521 s3d9se.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition.
AAP/Darren England

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

As expected, the Longman by-election was the contest to watch on “Super Saturday”. But, as it turned out, it was for reasons that weren’t all anticipated.

Observers had predicted a tight race in the marginally-held seat north of Brisbane, with high poll support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation adding to the unpredictability. Yet, Labor’s Susan Lamb defied the naysayers and secured a reassuring swing, regaining the seat she’d vacated owing to her former dual citizenship status.

For opposition leader Bill Shorten, the weekend’s byelection results provide a confidence boost and should dampen the leadership speculation that has animated sections of the media.

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, the Longman result especially (and South Australia’s Mayo to a similar extent) will prompt soul-searching in Coalition ranks ahead of the next federal election.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Malcolm Turnbull’s authority diminished after byelection failures


The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition. This flew in the face of opinion polls leading up to the byelection date, which suggested there was little between the major candidates. Warnings from election analysts about the reliability of single-seat polling might be heeded more closely in future.

The Coalition’s primary vote in Longman plunged 9.4% from the 2016 federal election, resulting in a two-party-preferred swing of 3.7% against LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg. While senior Coalition MPs have since put this down to an “average” anti-government swing at byelections, few in the party would have expected such a kicking in a historically conservative seat.

Ruthenberg came under scrutiny during the by-election campaign for a wrongly claimed military service medal. He also carried some baggage as MP for a nearby state seat during the single-term government of Campbell Newman. Combined, this probably turned away a number of potential voters, and contributed in part to Lamb increasing her primary vote from 35.4% to almost 40%. Queensland’s LNP faces fresh questions about its organisational and campaigning stocks following a disappointing showing at last November’s state election.

The bigger concern for the federal government is the extent to which its policies are on the nose with voters. Certainly, Labor focused much of its Longman campaign on the effects that penalty rate reductions and company tax cuts for big businesses would have on local job prospects and funding for hospitals and education services. ALP insiders were quietly confident of crafting a successful “class warfare”-style campaign in an electorate with higher than average unemployment and below average incomes.

In this respect, the Longman campaign offered a preview to the likely dimensions and key party messaging of the coming federal election campaign, expected in the first half of next year. Given the number of marginal federal seats in Queensland, this positions the state as the “battleground” where that election can be won and lost.

The fight for marginal seats

Byelection results shouldn’t, of course, be extrapolated to likely voting patterns at a general election. Many in Queensland remember John Howard’s Liberals losing a 2001 byelection for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, only to regain it comfortably at the national election later that year (aided by some notable external factors).

The Longman contest was fought on local as much as broader issues – with residents’ health, education and employment concerns front of mind for most. But these “bread and butter” issues, as well as Longman’s characterisation as a true marginal, urban fringe seat, make the fall of the votes here possibly indicative of wider trends. If the government’s intended tax cut package for large as well as smaller businesses turned off many Longman voters, it may well do so in marginal seats across the board.

In Queensland, where there is nearly a dozen such marginal seats – seven held by the Coalition – any inkling as to what might motivate voters in those electorates will be keenly sought by the major parties. The Coalition, in particular, stands to lose much if lessons can’t be drawn from voters’ messages.

After the weekend, MPs in the neighbouring electorates of Petrie (margin of 1.6%) and high-profile Dickson (held by Peter Dutton on the same margin), as well as Flynn (1%), Forde (0.6%) and Capricornia (0.6%), will be sitting more nervously in the Coalition party room.




Read more:
Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo


The issues animating many Longman voters also feature in seats alongside it. Anti-government sentiment could well seep across electorate boundaries and threaten incumbents there. Notably, Dutton’s late arrival on the Longman campaign trail warning of the immigration policy “perils” of Shorten’s Labor didn’t much seem to stem the flow of votes away from Ruthenberg.

With Labor also holding a handful of marginal Queensland seats, both major parties will be conscious of shoring up an unstable vote base. It is this landscape, as much as Labor’s campaign messages about “big end of town” tax cuts, that likely determines how much the government refashions its policy agenda ahead of the federal election.

One Nation vote hurts the Coalition

One Nation’s considerable vote in Longman – almost 16% compared to the 9.4% it gained in 2016 – underlines the current strength of the minor party protest vote. Indeed, the increase in One Nation’s support in Longman came mainly at the expense of the Coalition’s candidate. In a field of eleven nominations, the next best vote was the Greens’ 4.8%.

There is residual irritation in the wider electorate about voters’ circumstances and about a perceived disconnection from their elected representatives. This alienation was again apparent in the Longman result, and signals a warning to both major parties about volatile voter sentiment in Queensland and elsewhere.

The high One Nation vote came after a more concerted and less gaffe-prone campaign, despite candidate Matthew Stephen facing persistent queries over his business history. This was achieved in the conspicuous absence of Pauline Hanson’s “star power” (dozens of cardboard cut-outs of the party leader notwithstanding).

But these circumstances are possible at a byelection more so than a general election, where One Nation’s modest resources are typically stretched. It may be that the party concentrates its federal campaigning and nominations on fewer seats so as not to spread itself too thinly (as it found to its cost at the recent Queensland election).

The ConversationThe way the party suggests its voters direct their preferences is regularly a mystery, as is how closely its voters follow those recommendations. But if One Nation focuses on the marginal seats in Queensland, those preferences might place the party in an influential position with the government on policy negotiations ahead of the next federal election.

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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

View from The Hill: Malcolm Turnbull’s authority diminished after byelection failures


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Those looking for signs before Saturday that Labor was on track for government might have found one, beyond the polls, in what could seem an unexpected quarter.

After having to postpone its national conference because of Super Saturday, the ALP is holding its briefing for business observers next month. The party has been swamped with bookings, requiring a change of venue to accommodate the large numbers. Business may be cheering on the Coalition’s policies but it knows it needs to find out about Labor’s.

The weekend results, in particular the way they’re being read, haven’t only confirmed Labor’s trajectory but in doing so, have given the opposition, and Bill Shorten especially, a huge confidence boost.




Read more:
Crucial Super Saturday Labor victories a major fillip for Shorten


Poll analyst Peter Brent points out, in relation to Longman and Braddon, how prior expectations have influenced post-event interpretations. “The unexceptional results — on the low side of swings to oppositions — were made to look exceptional by the opinion polling, which allowed the media and party insiders to whip themselves into a lather of expectation that the Coalition would probably take one, maybe both. … Against these anticipations, the opposition leader looks like a miracle maker and a vote magnet,” Brent writes on the Inside Story site.

But even taking into account this reality check, Labor can be satisfied its messaging – focusing on health, education, fighting inequality, opposing tax cuts for the largest companies – is hitting the right spot. And the delivery of that messaging has for the most part been effective, despite Shorten’s unpopularity.

On the old adage of “winners are grinners”, there’s nothing Malcolm Turnbull can say about these results that will cut through at the moment.

“Bill Shorten is punching the air as though he’s won the World Cup. The reality is that the Labor Party has secured an average or conventional swing in a byelection to it in Longman and has not secured any swing at all in Braddon.” Turnbull said on Sunday, and, “I have always said that history was against us”.

The fact remains, however, that Turnbull tried very hard in seats the government thought it was possible to win, and he failed. He did talk down expectations, but not far enough. And he had admitted byelections are “a test of leaders” among other things.

In contrast with Labor, Turnbull and his ministers face tough decisions about policy and approach.

Labor’s line “stop giving big banks a tax cut, and start funding our schools and hospitals” resonates. So if, as expected, the Senate remains opposed to those company tax cuts in the spring session, does Turnbull take them to the election, or dump them?

The obvious answer might seem, jettison them. But whether that’s the best answer is more complex. After more than two years of spruiking them as vital, it would make Turnbull look (to borrow an Abbottism) the ultra weather vane. And the voters wouldn’t necessarily be convinced – Labor would say, “he’ll bring them back after the election”.

Asked whether the government’s policies needed to change, Turnbull said on Sunday: “We will look very seriously and thoughtfully and humbly at the way in which the voters have responded” while also saying byelections “have special characteristics”. As to whether he’d take the company tax cuts to the election if necessary: “We are committed to ensuring Australia has a competitive company tax rate”.

More generally, although the Coalition has been improving a little in the national polls while still behind Labor, Turnbull still isn’t finding the right pitch and tone when talking to the electorate.

Before the 2016 election it was all positive – innovation, agility, the age of excitement. That didn’t wash with a lot of people. More recently, he’s taken to hurling insults at Shorten, branding him a serial liar. Even on Friday, when Shorten wasn’t on the hustings, leaving his candidates maximum opportunity to talk to voters at the pre-poll places, Turnbull claimed the opposition leader was in hiding. It was childish. The story from Turnbull’s own campaigning in Longman that day was about a woman having a go at him.

Volatile Queenslanders deliver conservative leaders the bluntest rebukes.

In March 2001 Ryan voters gave John Howard, still struggling with the GST backlash, a mighty kick. The government lost that byelection; the Liberal primary vote fell 7 points (the Coalition vote in Longman is down 9 points). Howard had already made some policy adjustment in anticipation of the drubbing. Later he retained the Victorian seat of Aston in a July byelection and went on to win the general election that year.

The Howard government’s various efforts, including its budget, helped the turnabout, and so (greatly) did unforeseen events (the Tampa affair, and the September 11 attacks). Turnbull can’t expect the unexpected, and he’s a less canny politician than Howard.

For the 2019 election, the state of Queensland is chocker with marginal Coalition seats (including that of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton).

The byelections have underlined the folly of running horses unsuitable for courses. In Longman the LNP’s “Big Trev” Ruthenberg was a big target, even before the controversy over his defence medal. When he was preselected Labor rubbed its hands at an opponent who’d been an MP in the unpopular Newman state government.

In Mayo the Liberals staged their own Dynasty episode, importing from Victoria Georgina Downer, daughter of the seat’s one-time occupant, former foreign minister Alexander Downer. It was a serious misjudgement about how to campaign against a popular crossbencher.

The ABC’s Antony Green has tweeted that “it didn’t matter who the Liberal candidate was – they were not going to defeat Rebekha Sharkie. It was only a matter of whether the Liberal sacrificial lamb would put up a fight on the way to the altar or not”. By choosing Downer, rather than a strong local, the Liberals were ignoring the vibe of the electorate.

Now they seem set on letting Downer have another go, at the general election.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


The high primary vote for Sharkie in Mayo (45%), the substantial vote for One Nation in Longman (16%), and the notable support for an independent, Craig Garland, in Braddon (11%) are all manifestations of the strength of the protest vote against the large parties.

People are angry about their own circumstances and about the politicians; they’re distrustful and alienated. It should be said these voters comprise different streams. One Nation supporters in Longman may have little in common with Sharkie supporters in Mayo. But they share a desire to say “up you” to the major parties.

Super Saturday hasn’t changed the numbers in the House of Representatives, or in the Coalition party room. There is no indication it will stoke a threat to Turnbull’s leadership.

The ConversationBut it has undermined the Prime Minister’s authority, which was rebuilding. As he tries to deliver on energy and in other key areas, Turnbull’s party enemies and critics will be encouraged in their attacks – over the National Energy Guarantee, immigration and the like. They will inflict more scars on his hide. And others in his ranks, simply worried about their seats, will be restless. We’ll see in coming months whether all this shifts policy.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo



File 20180728 106499 1nsf1ky.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Labor’s strong showing in its seats and the Liberals’ generally poor performance will be a huge fillip to Bill Shorten.
AAP/Dan Peled

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Federal byelections were held in five seats on Saturday, four Labor-held and one held by the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie. Labor and Sharkie retained all of their seats. I will go through these seats starting with the closest.

In the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, Labor’s Justine Keay defeated the Liberals’ Brett Whiteley by a 52.7-47.3 margin, a 0.5% swing to Labor since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 38.9% Liberal (down 2.7%), 37.0% Labor (down 3.0%), 11.0% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% for the Shooters and 4.0% for the Greens (down 2.8%).

In the Queensland seat of Longman, Labor’s Susan Lamb defeated the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg by an emphatic 55.4-44.6 margin, a 4.6% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 40.7% Labor (up 5.3%), 28.6% LNP (down a large 10.4%), 16.1% One Nation (up 6.7%) and 5.0% Greens (up 0.6%). The LNP’s drop was 3.7% greater than One Nation’s gain.

In the South Australian seat of Mayo, Sharkie defeated the Liberals’ Georgina Downer by a massive 58.6-41.4 margin, a 3.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 45.2% Sharkie (up 10.3%), 36.3% Liberal (down 1.5%), 9.4% Greens (up 1.4%) and 6.0% Labor (down 7.6%). Sharkie is a popular incumbent, while Downer’s candidacy had problems.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Coalition’s record Newspoll losing streak, and Rebekha Sharkie has large lead in Mayo


With the Liberals not contesting, the Western Australian seats of Perth and Fremantle were easily retained by Labor with over 62% of the two-party vote against the Greens. Perth was the only Super Saturday byelection to be caused by the resignation of the sitting member; in the other four byelections, the sitting member successfully recontested after resigning due to the citizenship fiasco.

Postal votes have not yet been counted in any of the byelections, and they are likely to help the Liberals. In particular, the small swing to Labor in Braddon will probably become a small Liberal swing when postals are added.

Seat polls slightly understated the Labor vote in Braddon, and slightly overstated Sharkie’s vote in Mayo once postals are factored in. In Longman, there was a large error, with two polls taken in the penultimate week both giving the LNP a 51-49 lead. A Newspoll taken in the final days gave Labor a 51-49 lead, but Labor is likely to win at least 54% of the two party vote after postals.




Read more:
As Super Saturday nears, Labor gains poll lead in Braddon, but trails in Longman, while UK Tories slump


I believe Labor’s relatively poor performance in Bradddon is probably due to Tasmanian factors, in particular state Labor’s large loss at the March Tasmanian election.

These byelection results will be a huge boost for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has been under pressure owing to poor head-to-head polling vs Malcolm Turnbull, especially as Labor’s national lead has narrowed. Shorten is now very likely to lead Labor to the next election.

At the June 2017 UK general election and the July 2018 Mexican presidential elections, left-wing leaders, respectively Jeremy Corbyn and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), were well-known to the public before the election campaign began. Corbyn and AMLO both made big gains in the polls during the campaign, then outperformed their polls on election day.




Read more:
Conservatives suffer shock loss of majority at UK general election


In late May, Sky News ReachTEL polls gave the Liberals a 54-46 lead in Braddon and a 52-48 lead in Longman. The results in these byelections could be a sign that Australia may follow the UK and Mexico. Although Turnbull and the Coalition have substantially reduced Labor’s lead in the national polls, it could be a different story as the election approaches.




Read more:
ReachTEL polls: Labor trailing in Longman and Braddon, and how Senate changes helped the Coalition


National Ipsos: 51-49 to Labor (50-50 respondent allocated)

A national Ipsos poll, conducted for the Fairfax papers on July 18-21 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since late June. Primary votes were 39% Coalition (up four), 34% Labor (down one), 12% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady).

The respondent allocated preference measure showed a 50-50 tie, a reversion to the normal pattern where the Coalition does a point better in respondent allocated preferences than last election preferences. In June, respondent allocated preferences had Labor ahead by 54-46.

55% approved of Turnbull’s performance (up five), and 38% disapproved (down six), for a net rating of +17, up 11 points. Shorten’s net approval dropped three points to -16. Turnbull led Shorten by a massive 57-30 as better PM (51-33 in June).

Both Turnbull’s approval rating and his better PM rating were his highest since March 2016. While Ipsos gives Turnbull better ratings than other polls, these ratings for Turnbull are still very strong.

The ConversationLabor led the Coalition by 48-41 on health (50-35 in June 2016). Labor also led on education 49-42 (51-37 previously) and the environment 49-35 (46-28). The Coalition led on the economy 60-33 (58-29), and on asylum seekers 45-41 (47-32 previously).

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

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

Byelection guide: what’s at stake on Super Saturday


Rob Manwaring, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, and Michael Lester, University of Tasmania

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have been criss-crossing the country for weeks to spruik their parties’ candidates in Saturday’s all-important byelections – a key test for both the Liberals and Labor ahead of the next federal election.

Here’s what you need to know about the five electorates up for grabs and, with a federal election likely in the first half of 2019, what’s at stake for Turnbull and Shorten.


https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/287/78461d5072b825744d7c283b9901731f603a5d45/site/index.html


Longman

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, University of Queensland

Longman’s very marginal status, held by Labor’s Susan Lamb by a slim 0.8% prior to her High Court-enforced resignation, makes this race the most tightly contested on Saturday.

Seasoned observers expect this to go the way of most byelection contests – largely distanced from broader federal concerns. Local issues are at play, dominated by arguments over funding for the Caboolture hospital in the electorate north of Brisbane, as well as for local education and employment support services.

Yet, the race is also being touted by some as a judgement on the major parties’ signature economic policies, and significantly on the performances of both party leaders. Labor has campaigned hard on the merits of the Coalition’s proposed company tax cuts. The Liberals, meanwhile, have fanned fears among retirees about Labor’s proposed investment savings changes.

Longman is a typical marginal seat in the outer suburban fringe, home to what a dozen years ago would have been called “Howard’s battlers”. The electorate provides a platform for the major parties to road-test policy differentiation and campaign messages on “average voters” ahead of the next federal election.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: ‘Super Saturday’ is not so super in Labor’s eyes


It’s also fertile ground for the growing distrust of mainstream politics. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has been prominent in the electorate, attempting to capitalise on negative voter sentiment toward the major parties. Her party even enlisted former Labor leader Mark Latham’s support, voicing robocalls to local residents attacking Shorten.

Lamb is attempting to be re-elected to the seat she won unexpectedly from the LNP’s Wyatt Roy in 2016. She benefits from recognition as the incumbent and has the strong backing of her party leader. Shorten made a beeline for Longman ahead of the announcement of the byelection date to spruik his candidate.

LNP’s Trevor Ruthenburg also enjoys recognition of sorts as a previous state MP for nearby Kallangur. However, he might have spurned some conservative Longman voters with fresh revelations of an incorrectly claimed military service medal in his Queensland parliament biography.

Among the minor party candidates, One Nation’s Matthew Stephen will also need to overcome questions regarding his business dealings to build on his party’s 9.4% primary vote in the 2016 election.

Labor’s concerted campaigning has Lamb a slight favourite to be returned. However, a Coalition win might convince Turnbull to call an early election. This then raises the question: could a poor result for Labor put enough pressure on Shorten to prompt the party to change leaders to better combat the PM’s standing?


Braddon

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

For an election that won’t change the status quo in parliament, the Braddon byelection is getting a great deal of attention.

Both Turnbull and Shorten have made multiple visits to campaign for their candidates, with support also coming from of a host of their cabinet and shadow cabinet colleagues.

Braddon is a notoriously fickle electorate, having changed hands four times since 1996, and the margins are always tight. This election is no different. All the polls indicate it is a close race.

In 2016, Labor’s Justine Keay won the seat with a 2.2% lead over then-sitting Liberal member Brett Whiteley. She was later forced to resign after her UK citizenship was revealed. Both candidates are standing again, but neither is considered to have strong personal followings.

Polls in the first week of July showed the gap between the parties has narrowed. This means the result will likely come down to the preferences of independents and minor parties, particularly the Greens’ Jarrod Edwards, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Brett Neal and independent Craig Garland. All three are likely to favour Labor.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the federal government’s tax package, the ABC and the ‘Super Saturday’ byelections


The differences between the campaign styles and tactics of the two major parties are striking.

The Liberals have used incumbency at both the state and federal level to frame their campaign around their economic records and budget infrastructure spending, holding photo opportunities around a series of project announcements.

Labor, meanwhile, is using the campaign to road-test a swag of policies and messages. Key among them are wage stagnation, the loss of penalty rates, the “scourge of labour hire companies”, the bad behaviour of banks and the Liberals’ support for corporate tax cuts.

Shorten took most by surprise by also promising an AU$25 million grant to support a Tasmanian AFL team at a time when the Aussie game is in crisis in one of its foundation states. However, Labor seems to be getting better traction with promises to restore funding for essential services like health care and education.

The real impact of the Braddon byelection is likely to be on the political future of the two party leaders, the timing of the next federal election and the choice of the policies they choose to run on.


Mayo

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University

The campaign in Mayo is symptomatic of a wider problem that has beset Liberals in South Australia – a failure to lock in so-called blue-ribbon safe seats.

Mayo is now a straight two-way fight between the incumbent Centre Alliance’s Rebekah Sharkie and Liberal Georgina Downer. Downer’s success or failure could well be a strong signifier of the strength of Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

Polling has Sharkie on track to hold onto the seat, despite her citizenship problems triggering the byelection. A late-June Reachtel poll had Sharkie leading Downer by 62% to 38% in two-candidate voting.

Sharkie’s surge in the polls is striking, given that a large part of her win over then-Liberal Jamie Briggs in 2013 seemed to rest on the personal unpopularity of Briggs.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


Yet, as has been proven in state-level races in South Australia before, voters in notionally safe “non-Labor” seats are often reluctant to give up strong local independents. Despite its disappointing showing in the recent state election, the Xenophon team retains deep residual support in South Australia.

The Mayo campaign is an intriguing confluence of local and national issues. Sharkie is pushing hard on a range of local issues, and her support to have the Great Australian Bight listed for World Heritage status to safeguard it from oil drilling also targets a perceived weakness of Downer’s – environment issues.

Downer, seeking to secure her family dynasty, is playing to different strengths – especially her close network with the Liberal hierarchy. (She is the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander.) Since announcing her candidacy, Downer has had notable visits from Turnbull and others. She boasts influence unavailable to her rivals, evidenced by her securing of federal funding for a new aquatic centre in Mount Barker.

Strikingly, immigration has become a new issue in the campaign. Downer’s comments about immigration may stoke local fears that the Inverbrackie site will be re-opened for mainland asylum seeker detentions.


Perth and Fremantle

Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, Murdoch University

Labor will win both races being contested in Western Australia in Saturday’s byelections. That’s not a brave prediction. The Liberals aren’t running candidates.

Some analysts believe it was the wrong decision by the Liberals, given that a minimal campaigning effort wouldn’t have cost that much and it’s unclear how voters will react when the Liberals do put up candidates in the federal election.

But the decision actually makes a lot of sense. Labor has held both seats – Perth and Fremantle – for much of their existence. (The electorates were created in 1901.) Labor even held on in Fremantle in the 1975 election, which was the last time it lost Perth.

On top of this, the WA Liberals had been swept from government last year as a result of a 20% swing against them across the state. And there were no signs of the federal Liberals doing much to change anything.

So, while Perth’s 3.3% margin looks close, the Liberals chose not to run a candidate there. Likewise in Fremantle, which is even less competitive, with a margin of 7.5%. The decision not only saves the Liberals money, it won’t expose their weak support in WA.




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Some Liberals may have regretted the move after the party won the byelection for the state seat of Darling Range last month, but Labor got a lot wrong in that campaign.

The Liberals’ decision not to run in Perth and Fremantle has brought the Greens more into the spotlight. With no other seats to talk about and no major party competition to drown them out, the Greens should be able to do something meaningful in these byelections.

Perth and Fremantle are exactly the type of inner metropolitan seat the Greens should be favoured to win, but their candidates have never gained more than 18% of first-preference voting in previous contests in the electorates. And nothing looks likely to change this time around.

The ConversationIf Greens candidates can’t put themselves in a position to win Perth and Fremantle in these byelections and demonstrate they are to be a meaningful political force, then they likely never will.

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, and Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

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