Why Adani may still get its government loan


Brendan Gogarty, University of Tasmania

Even though Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would be vetoing the around A$1 billion loan to Adani for a rail link to its proposed Carmichael coal mine, funds could still flow to the company.

Currently in caretaker mode for the Queensland election, the premier would need the consent of the opposition party to exercise such a right. That is very unlikely given the LNP’s longstanding support of Adani’s mine.

This means any veto could not be exercised until late November, or more realistically, December 2017.

As the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan doesn’t need state approval (but rather explicit veto) it could also mean the money will make its way to Adani, without any direct action by the state government.

How would Commonwealth money make its way to Adani?

The NAIF body was established in 2016 and administers A$5 billion in Commonwealth funds. It’s been empowered to award grants to the northern states and Northern Territory for infrastructure projects. Practically, however, these jurisdictions are used as financial conduits to pass this money to large corporations operating in northern Australia.

The NAIF is established under the “tied-grants” provision of the Constitution, Section 96, which states:

…the [Commonwealth] parliament may grant financial assistance to any state on such terms and conditions as the [Commonwealth] parliament thinks fit.

This section was intended to provide for a short-term (around ten years) mechanism for central funds to be granted to the new states affected by the restructuring of national public finances, after federation. However, the Commonwealth parliament continued to use this section well into the 20th century (and increasingly today) to grant funds to cash-strapped states.

Over time, the Commonwealth started to impose terms that required the states do things that were outside of the Commonwealth’s legislative power – such as education or, indeed, infrastructure development.

The early-20th-century High Court concluded that this was acceptable, as long as the state technically consented to the terms and conditions of the grant.

While the NAIF legislation does not require such consent, under rules issued by the Commonwealth minister the NAIF has to:

… commence consultation with the relevant jurisdiction as soon as practicable after receiving an investment proposal

In Adani’s case, the Investment Rules indicate that the “jurisdiction” is the “state or territory the infrastructure project is located”, namely Queensland. The state government after reviewing project and investment may provide:

… written notification that financial assistance should not be provided to a project.

If that is the case then the NAIF is not permitted to provide the grant money to the applicant (Adani). But that doesn’t mean the state hasn’t consented to the loan.

The problem is that the High Court has never really addressed what the word “state” means in Section 96. Specifically who should the money be paid to: the “parliament of the state”; “government of the state” or, as seems to be implied in the Palaszczuk statements the “premier of the state”?

Conventionally, when we talk of “state consent” to funds, we envision a complex process by which money is paid into a central state fund under the control of state parliament. However, the NAIF legislation appears to allow for merely the state government to consent in a very minimal way, simply by passing the money directly to Adani without the state parliament ever reviewing or approving the transaction.

The NAIF legislation also doesn’t specify who in the government might consent. To date, it is the treasurer who seems to have been most actively involved in working with the NAIF, and indeed Adani. It seems that, so long as the state has been “consulted”, unless it takes active steps to stop the loan, it will go ahead.

Does Palaszczuk have a ‘veto’ power?

The premier’s reasoning for the veto is a continuation of her government’s legacy of having “no role to date in the federal government’s NAIF Loan Assessment Process for Adani” and no “role in the future”.

These statements seem to be contrary to earlier ones by the Queensland treasurer, Curtis Pitt, that the government would “do what is required” to facilitate Commonwealth funds going to Adani. In fact, as early as November 2016, Pitt declared in state parliament:

Since we came to office, we have been working very closely with the Commonwealth government to facilitate … the NAIF – in North Queensland… It is through the NAIF facility, which the state wholeheartedly supports, that Adani can get the infrastructure support that it needs.

As a result, it would seem that everything needed to pass the NAIF funds to Adani is provided for. The only thing to actively stop it is a formal, written statement by Palaszczuk to the NAIF refusing the loan (not to the prime minister as she claimed). Given Palaszczuk’s statement that she intends to write this statement, it is clear that no formal notice has yet been issued to the NAIF.

However, it would seem that a “Master Facility Agreement” between Queensland and the NAIF has already been agreed to and set up. This agreement seems to envision the treasurer of Queensland passing the money to Adani, without it ever going into the state’s bank accounts. Hence, in May this year, the Queensland treasurer confirmed that:

Our role, for constitutional reasons, is the legal financing contract, the loan agreement including the drawdown and timing, repayment of interest — all of those things have to have state involvement constitutionally.

So, unless the Queensland opposition takes the very unlikely step of agreeing to a veto, Palaszczuk would appear to lack the power to issue one herself until after the election.

The ConversationIn the interim, NAIF has no legal restrictions on issuing the loan and, with the apparent agreement of the Queensland treasury, this money is likely to flow through to Adani. While Palaszczuk can say her government gave no active assistance to Adani, without active measures to block the loan, it would certainly be a silent partner in the process.

Brendan Gogarty, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Tasmania

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

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Coalition loses majority after Alexander resigns. Qld polling and preferences


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 of 4 Senate vacancies filled, but questions over Hughes

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

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

Qld Galaxy seat polling and preference recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Coalition will be watching the Queensland election anxiously



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

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postscript

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/g8gar-796795?from=site&skin=1&share=1&fonts=Helvetica&auto=0&download=0

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

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



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

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

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

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

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

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

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

A typical contest?

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

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

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

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

Adani and voting changes add to unpredictability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The One Nation question mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labor should head left to win 25 November Qld election


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspoll 54-46 to Labor as Turnbull’s ratings slump. Qld Newspoll 52-48 to Labor


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted 12-15 October from a sample of 1580, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, unchanged from three weeks ago. Primary votes were 37% Labor (down 1), 36% Coalition (steady), 10% Greens (up 1) and 9% One Nation (up 1). This is Turnbull’s 21st consecutive Newspoll loss as PM.

32% were satisfied with Turnbull’s performance (down 3) and 56% were dissatisfied (up 4), for a net approval of -24, down 7 points. Shorten’s net approval was -22, down two points. According to Kevin Bonham, this is Turnbull’s worst net approval since July, and Shorten’s worst since June.

By 63-23, voters favoured continuing renewable energy subsidies. However, 58% said they would pay nothing more for electricity or gas to implement a clean energy target. In a mid-September Essential poll, voters thought renewables better for electricity costs than fossil fuels by a 41-27 margin.

The general public would like more investment in renewables, and expects that renewable energy would not increase current power prices. However, the Coalition backbench is strongly opposed to renewable energy. By siding with the backbench, Turnbull is undermining his standing with the public.

Labor should ferociously attack the Coalition’s new energy policy that was announced today. In recent global elections, major left-wing parties have performed best when they have clearly distinguished themselves from conservatives. Where the left has become close to the conservatives, they have performed dismally, with Austria (see below) the latest example.

While Newspoll was good for Labor, Essential and YouGov below are not as good. All three polls this week agree that One Nation’s vote is up by 1-2 points.

Last week, The Australian published the July to September quarter Newspoll breakdowns by state, region, sex and age. Since the 2016 election, there has been an 8 point swing to Labor in Queensland, WA and outside the five capitals, but milder swings elsewhere.

SSM plebiscite turnout and polling

As at Friday 13 October, the ABS estimated it had received 10.8 million same sex marriage forms (67.5% of the electorate). The turnout is up from 62.5% on 6 October and 57.5% on 29 September. Weekly updates will be provided until 7 November, the final day for reception of SSM envelopes.

In this week’s YouGov poll, 67% of respondents had already voted, a very good match for the ABS. Among these, Yes led by 61-35. The remaining 33% favoured Yes 54-28, including 13% who were very likely to vote.

Wednesday morning update 18 October: In Newspoll, 65% said they have already voted and another 19% definitely will, implying an 84% turnout. Among those who have already voted, Yes led by 59-38, and by 49-37 among those who have not yet voted. For the whole sample, Yes led by 56-37 (57-34 three weeks ago). By 50-43, voters were opposed to the postal plebiscite (46-44 opposed three weeks ago).

Essential 52-48 to Labor

This week’s Essential, conducted over the last two weeks from a sample of 1850, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a 2 point gain for the Coalition since last week. As Essential uses two week rolling averages, this implies that this week’s sample was close to 50-50. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up 1), 36% Labor (down 2), 9% Greens (down 1), 8% One Nation (up 1) and 3% Nick Xenophon Team (up 1). Additional questions are based on one week’s sample.

Voters approved 65-15 of the Clean Energy Target, 74-10 of renewable energy subsidies and 62-18 of Labor’s 50% renewable energy target. These questions can be said to be “pony polls”, in that the voter is asked whether they approve of something that sounds nice, without considering cost or other issues.

61% (down 10 since February) thought the government was not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy, 15% thought it was doing enough (up 3) and 5% that it was doing too much (up 2).

42% thought Abbott should resign from Parliament (down 1 since April), 14% that he should be given a ministry (down 4), 16% remain a backbencher (up 2) and 9% challenge Turnbull (not asked in April).

In contrast to Newspoll, last week’s Essential gave Turnbull a net -1 rating, up from -5 in September. Shorten had a net -7 rating, up from -11.

Essential asked which people’s interests the major parties best represented, with expected results. Labor was seen as best for low-income working people (+33 vs the Liberals), people on welfare (+28) and students (+22). The Liberals were best for big business (+51) and high-income working people (+49).

By 55-36, voters thought it likely there would be a war between North Korea and the US. 33% said terrorism was the biggest concern for their personal safety, with 20% selecting a car accident and 13% nuclear warfare.

YouGov primary votes: 34% Coalition, 32% Labor, 11% Greens, 11% One Nation

YouGov continues to have Labor much lower than other polls. Primary votes in this week’s YouGov, conducted 12-16 October with a sample of 1067, were 34% Coalition (steady), 32% Labor (down 1), 11% Greens (steady), 11% One Nation (up 2), 3% Nick Xenophon Team (down 1) and 4% Christian parties (steady).

As usual, YouGov’s two party result, using respondent allocation, is skewed to the Coalition; they lead 51-49, though the previous election method would give Labor about a 52.5-47.5 lead according to the Poll Bludger.

56% thought Australia should have stricter gun laws, 34% thought they should remain about the same and just 7% thought they should be less strict. By 45-37, voters thought the Constitution should not be changed to allow dual citizens to run for office.

Qld Newspoll 52-48 to Labor

A Queensland Newspoll, conducted 10-12 October from a sample of 917, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one point gain for the LNP since the July to September Newspoll. Primary votes were 37% Labor (steady), 34% LNP (steady), 16% One Nation (up 1) and 8% Greens (steady). The next Queensland election must be held by early 2018.

42% were satisfied with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance (up 1), and 45% were dissatisfied (down 1), for a net approval of -3. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls had a net approval of -11, up five points.

The narrowing in Labor’s two party lead is partly because Newspoll are now assuming that One Nation preferences flow to the LNP at a 60% rate, up from 55% previously. Unlike most state Newspolls, this poll was taken over three days last week, rather than a period of months.

Austria election: conservative/far-right coalition likely outcome

The Austrian election was held on 15 October. The conservative OVP won 31.5% of the vote (up 7.5 points since the 2013 election), the centre-left SPO 26.9% (steady) the far-right FPO 26.0% (up 5.5), the liberal NEOS 5.3% (up 0.3), the Greens breakaway party PILZ 4.4% and the Greens 3.8% (down 8.7). Turnout was 79.4%, up 4.5 points.

Seats are awarded roughly proportional to vote share with a 4% threshold. The OVP won 62 of the 183 seats (up 15), the SPO 52 (steady), the FPO 51 (up 11), the NEOS 10 (up 1) and PILZ 8. Thus the FPO holds the balance of power, and will probably join the OVP in a conservative/far-right coalition government. Although a few votes remain to be counted, the Greens appear to have missed the threshold, losing all 24 of their seats.

The centrist parties, the SPO and OVP, had been in coalition for the last two terms. According to this article in The Guardian, both parties became more right-wing in an attempt to appeal to FPO voters. From what we have seen in other countries, this strategy only helps the far-right.

In the December 2016 Austrian Presidential election, Greens candidate Alexander Van der Bellen defeated the far-right Norbert Hofer 53.8-46.2, showing that a left-wing candidate could win. However, the SPO did not embrace a left-wing agenda.

The ConversationThis election was an utter disaster for the Austrian Greens. The Greens won 12.4% in 2013. With the major parties becoming more right-wing, this should have been an opportunity for the Greens to increase their vote. However, the Greens split into the PILZ and Greens before the election, and only the PILZ made it back into Parliament.

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

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

Ipsos 53-47 to Labor, but Shorten’s ratings slump; Qld Newspoll 53-47 to Labor


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

An Ipsos poll, conducted 6-9 September from a sample of 1400, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, unchanged from the last Ipsos poll, taken after the May budget. Primary votes were 35% Coalition (down 2), 34% Labor (down 1), 14% Greens (up 1) and 17% for all Others (up 2). Ipsos has given the Greens higher votes than any other pollster.

42% approved of Turnbull’s performance (down 3), and 47% disapproved (up 3), for a net rating of -5. Shorten’s net approval slumped 11 points to -16. Usually Ipsos gives both leaders better ratings than Newspoll, but not so much for Shorten this time.

Reflecting other polls, Labor’s lead was reduced to 52-48 when respondents were asked for preferences. In 2016, all Others preferences split roughly 50-50 between the major parties. Currently, it appears that Others will be more favourable to the Coalition, as some Abbott-supporting voters have deserted the Coalition, but will probably return after preferences.

Scott Morrison had a 42-38 approval rating as Treasurer, much better than Joe Hockey’s 58-33 disapproval rating in April 2015. Morrison led Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen 38-29 as better Treasurer, and the Coalition led Labor 38-28 on economic management, with 3% opting for the Greens.

By 56-25, voters thought Turnbull had provided better economic leadership than Abbott, another result showing the electorate overwhelmingly prefers Turnbull to Abbott.

Economic management has always been a strength for the Coalition, so their leads on preferred Treasurer and the economy are expected. However, while voters may prefer the Coalition to manage the overall economy, low wages growth is a key reason to vote Labor for personal economic reasons.

Shorten’s ratings may have been damaged by the Coalition’s attacks on him, and also by his negative parliamentary tactics. However, most people do not focus on the opposition and its policies until the election campaign.

In a March UK poll, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump were almost equally unpopular, with both at less than -40 net approval. Corbyn and UK Labour’s popularity surged in the election campaign, and the Conservatives suffered a shock loss of their majority at the June UK election.

65% of Ipsos’s sample said they were certain to vote in the same sex marriage plebiscite. Of certain voters, there was a 70-26 margin in favour of same sex marriage. Ipsos is a live phone pollster, so it is likely to be biased against politically incorrect views.

Essential 54-46 to Labor

This week’s Essential, conducted over the last two weeks from a sample of 1830, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a one point gain for Labor since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Labor, 36% Coalition, 10% Greens, 9% One Nation and 2% Nick Xenophon Team. These primary votes are virtually the same as last week, but rounding helped Labor this time. Additional questions are based on one week’s sample.

Turnbull’s net approval was -5, up 3 points since August. Shorten’s net approval was -11, down four points.

Nine measures were proposed to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy. 86% supported regulating electricity and gas prices, and 81% supported increasing investment in renewables. At the bottom were stopping coal-fired power stations from closing (51-30 support), more onshore gas exploration (48-26 support) and building new coal-fired power stations (48-34 support).

By 73-8, voters thought renewables were better than fossil fuels for the environment. Renewables were also thought better for electricity costs (41-27), the economy (40-28) and jobs (34-26). There has been movement towards fossil fuels in the last three categories since May 2015.

Labor was thought more likely to deliver lower energy prices by a 28-19 margin over the Coalition, with 35% opting for no difference.

Queensland Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor

A Queensland Newspoll, conducted from July to September from a sample of 1335, and released 6 September, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a 2 point gain since the May-June 2016 Queensland Newspoll. Primary votes were 37% Labor (down 1), 34% LNP (down 6), 15% One Nation (not asked in 2016) and 8% Greens (steady). The next Queensland election must be held by early 2018.

41% (down 3) were satisfied with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and 46% (up 4) were dissatisfied, for a net approval of -5. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls’ net approval fell 11 points to -16.

Labor changed the electoral system from optional preferential to compulsory preferential voting, and this could disadvantage Labor if One Nation’s vote is high. For its two party calculations, Newspoll is assuming that 80% of Greens preferences flow to Labor, 55% of One Nation preferences go to the LNP, and that Others split 50-50.

The ConversationThis good Newspoll for Labor contrasts with a Galaxy poll in early August that had Labor just ahead 51-49, with the LNP leading 36-35 on primary votes.

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

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

Queensland Galaxy: 52-48 to Labor as One Nation slumps


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

A Queensland Galaxy poll has Labor leading by 52-48, a one point gain for Labor since early February. Primary votes are 36% for Labor (up 5), 34% for the Liberal Nationals (up 1), 17% for One Nation (down 6) and 7% for the Greens (down 1). The Conversation

Given the large increase in Labor’s primary vote, the one point gain after preferences is low, probably due to rounding. This poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 850. The next Queensland election is due by early next year.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings are 47% approve (up 6) and 35% disapprove (down 2), for a net approval of +12, up eight points. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls has a net rating of -18, down six points. Palaszczuk’s performance during Cyclone Debbie and associated floods was rated good or very good by 76%, and poor by just 16%.

Polling and election results from Australia and Europe indicate that support for far right parties has fallen since Donald Trump became US President. One Nation, Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom and Marine Le Pen all underperformed polls taken a month before the election at the WA election, Dutch election and French election first round respectively. French polling has Macron thumping Le Pen in the runoff, and UK polling has the UK Independence Party (UKIP) slumping into single figures.

It is likely that the far right’s performance is related to Trump, who is very unpopular in the rest of the world. Globally, far right parties are closely associated with Trump, but some far right supporters dislike him, and these are deserting.

Update Monday morning: The Federal component of this Galaxy poll has been released. There is a 50-50 tie in Queensland, a one point gain for Federal Labor since February, and a four point gain since the 2016 election. Federal Queensland primary votes are 35% Coalition (steady since February), 33% Labor (up 4), 15% One Nation (down 3) and 7% Greens (down 1).

Essential at 53-47 to Labor, and more Newspoll questions

In last week’s Essential, Labor led by 53-47. Primary votes were 37% Coalition, 36% Labor, 10% Greens, 8% One Nation and 3% Nick Xenophon Team. Voting intentions are based on two weeks’ fieldwork with a sample of 1810, while other questions are based on one week’s sample.

39% thought the changes to 457 visas are about right, 28% thought they do not go far enough in regulating foreign workers, and 16% thought they go too far. 59% approved of allowing workers on visas to apply for permanent residency, and 23% disapproved. 78% agreed that people applying for permanent residency should be put on a probationary visa before being granted citizenship, and just 10% disagreed.

40% (up 3 since August 2016) thought Tony Abbott should resign from Parliament, 17% (down 8) thought he should be given a ministry, and 17% (down 4) thought he should remain a backbencher.

48% said they had voted for the Coalition parties in at least one Federal or State election in the last decade, 47% had voted Labor, 18% for the Greens, 8% for One Nation, 5% for the Nick Xenophon Team and 11% for an Independent.

The 8% for One Nation is clearly too high, as the party barely existed before last year’s Federal election, winning 4.3% in the Senate – this is an example of false recall. In contrast, only 1% recalled voting for Palmer United Party, which won more votes in 2013 than One Nation did in 2016.

Additional questions from last week’s Newspoll have been released. 70% supported spending cuts to balance the budget, with just 20% for increased taxation. However, when asked about welfare cuts, 61% were opposed and just 30% in favour. While spending cuts in the abstract are far more popular than increased taxation, specific cuts can become very unpopular.

By 49-42, voters were opposed to allowing young people to access their superannuation to buy their first home. By 54-28, voters favoured reducing tax breaks for investors.

Last week, Family First merged with the Australian Conservatives (Cory Bernardi’s party). This will have no impact on the Senate balance of power, as Family First’s new Senator, Lucy Gichuhi, is not part of the merger, and will sit as an Independent. Two Family First members of the SA upper house will become Australian Conservatives.

French Presidential runoff: 7 May

In the first round of the French Presidential election held on 23 April, centrist Emmanuel Macron won 24.0% of the vote, followed by the far right Marine Le Pen on 21.3%, conservative Francois Fillon on 20.0% and the hard left Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19.6%. The top two vote winners, Macron and Le Pen, qualified for the runoff next Sunday 7 May. Polls close at 4am Monday 8 May Melbourne time.

Since the first round, there has been a small movement to Le Pen in runoff polling, but Macron still leads by about 60-40. Fillon and Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, who won 6.4%, have both endorsed Macron, but Mélenchon has not endorsed yet.

A key reason for Le Pen’s gains is that the abstention rate among Mélenchon’s supporters has risen from 30% at the start of the runoff campaign to 40% now. As with the US Presidential election, some on the hard left consider an established centrist candidate (Macron or Clinton) to be as bad as the far right Le Pen or Trump. However, Macron is far enough ahead that abstention from the hard left is very unlikely to cost him the election.

I will be doing an article on the runoff for the University of Melbourne’s Election Watch late next week.

UK general election: 8 June

In polls taken in the days following UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of the election, the Conservatives surged at the expense of UKIP. The Wikipedia poll graph has the Conservatives on 47%, Labour on 26%, the Liberal Democrats on 10% and UKIP dropping to 7%.

Recent polls have been better for Labour. A YouGov poll published today has the Conservative lead at 13 points, down from 23 points last Sunday. Another poll published today has the lead at 11 points. Both these polls have Labour at 31%, which would be unchanged on the 2015 result.

If the Conservatives fail to win a thumping majority, May’s authority is likely to be dented, in much the same way as Turnbull’s authority has been dented by the Coalition’s unexpected narrow win in 2016.

Jeremy Corbyn may ironically have Donald Trump to thank for Labour’s gains. A late March poll gave Trump an 18% approve, 60% disapprove rating with the UK public. Being perceived as an anti-Trump may work for Corbyn.

UK local government elections will be held on Thursday, with most results in by Saturday Melbourne time. Governments do much worse at local elections than at general elections, so any overall Conservative national popular vote projected win would imply that the Conservatives are headed for a large general election victory.

As UK polls have not had a good record, these local elections, which tally real votes, will be seen as an alternative guide to the general election.

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

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

Tracking the storm: the science behind Tropical Cyclone Debbie


Liz Ritchie-Tyo, UNSW

Tropical cyclone Debbie has made landfall in Queensland as a category 4 cyclone with winds of more than 150 kilometres per hour. The Conversation

The cyclone crossed the coast near Airlie Beach on Tuesday afternoon. Reports of wind gusts in excess of 200km per hour and rainfall of more than 200mm of rain have been made in some areas along the central Queensland coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasted an average to above-average number of Australian cyclones in its October severe weather outlook. Australia receives 11 cyclones on average each year, with about four of those in Queensland. Debbie is the fifth cyclone of the season for Australia as a whole and the most intense of the season so far.

Anomalously high moisture, warm ocean temperatures, and low environmental pressures seem to have created the conditions that allowed TC Debbie to form and grow in intensity.

Perfect storm

Tropical cyclones are low pressure systems that form over warm tropical oceans. The warmth and moisture of the oceans are what gives a cyclone its energy. The low pressure, which meteorologists measure in “hectopascals”, draws in the surrounding warm, moist air, which then rises into deep thunderstorm clouds. As the air is pulled into the centre of low pressure, Earth’s rotation causes it to spin cyclonically and it continues to intensify.

TC Debbie formed at the eastern end of an active monsoon trough extending from the Indian Ocean across the top of Australia and into the Coral Sea. The monsoon trough is a region of low air pressure and thunderstorms that forms over northern Australia in the summer months, bringing with it the wet season. On March 22, a large region of active thunderstorms began to organise into a weather disturbance off the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea.

Over the following two days the thunderstorms organised about a circulation centre as sea level pressures began to drop and moist air converged into the area. By late on March 24 a tropical depression, a forerunner of a cyclone, had formed and begun to drift south, making a long S-shaped track.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie was named on March 25. It then came under the influence of the subtropical ridge, a zone of stable high pressure that gives much of Australia’s fine weather during the summer. This drove Debbie west-southwest towards the Queensland coast while it gradually intensified further.

Because of the relatively high amounts of moisture in the atmosphere, and relatively warm ocean waters, Debbie intensified to category 4 by 10 pm on March 27, with the strongest wind gusts reaching 225-280km per hour. On Tuesday afternoon Debbie was a strong category 4 cyclone with a central pressure of 943 hectopascals and surface sustained winds of 185 kilometres per hour. The Bureau of Meteorology downgraded TC Debbie to a category 3 at 4:00 pm EST.

To put Debbie in context, there has been only one cyclone since 1980 to have made landfall in Queensland with a lower central pressure. That was Yasi in 2011.

Of the 46 cyclones to have made landfall in Queensland since 1980, only three others arrived at the coast with pressures of less than 960 hectopascals: Dominic in 1982, Winifred in 1986, and Ingrid in 2005.

Predicting cyclones

Tropical cyclone forecasters use a variety of tools to forecast the storm’s track, intensity, storm surge, and rainfall. Because it is difficult to obtain observations of wind at the ocean’s surface under a cyclone, meteorologists have developed tools based on satellite imagery to estimate a storm’s intensity, location, and where the strongest and most destructive winds are found.

Several models are also used to aid in making forecasts – from the complex numerical weather prediction models, to statistical models. Models start by using observations of the atmosphere, and then use these data to make a forecast.

Depending on their level of complexity the models can predict the future track, intensity, rainfall, wave height, and/or storm surge. The forecasters access all of this information to then make their forecast.

Cyclone forecasts have improved considerably over time. In particular, track forecasts have improved so that the 48-hour forecast is now more accurate than the 24-hour ones were back in the early 1990s. Track forecasting has become so reliable that the US National Hurricane Centre now produces 120-hour track forecasts.

Intensity forecasts have improved more slowly, but as models have become more refined and satellite technology has improved, the ability of forecasters to accurately estimate and predict intensity is also getting gradually better.

The prediction of rainfall, the extent of the damaging wind field, and storm surge forecasts are also slowly improving. Now that they are receiving more attention, we can expect considerable improvements in these over the next decade.

Liz Ritchie-Tyo, Associate Professor, School of Physical, Environmental, and Mathematical Sciences, UNSW

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