Just a regular Joe (or Bill or ScoMo): how our leaders work hard at being ‘ordinary’



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Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National University

Is it sufficiently dignified to call a prime minister, as distinct from an immigration minister or treasurer, ScoMo? Is this part of Scott Morrison’s “ordinary bloke” persona? It does sound a bit like Joe Shmoe, which Wikipedia tells me means “no one in particular” and “is one of the most commonly used fictional names in American English”. But it also sounds a bit Hollywood, evoking JLo.

So it may well be the kind of game that virtually every politician with serious leadership aspirations has to play. They need to convince us that they are not so far above us that they are out of touch. (“How much is a litre of milk, Prime Minister?”) Yet when they do present themselves as just like us, we can’t really take them seriously. We do, in the end, expect our leaders to be different.

Each leader plays the game differently. William Shorten is, of course, Bill – who tweeted about doing the shopping with his young daughter on Father’s Day.

Minus the shopping trolley, Robert Menzies and Robert Hawke were both Bob, and William Hughes and William McMahon were Billy. Curtin was Jack to his mates but John to the public. Chifley was Ben to all, and the unassuming Lyons was happy enough with Joe. It was hard to do much with Gough or Paul, and Malcolm Fraser only became Mal when he was being ridiculed. Everyone knew he was no Mal, and nor was Turnbull. “Johnny Howard” was almost never complimentary, especially when preceded by “Little”, and Kevin might have been from Queensland and here to help, but he never became Kev – not even when worrying over the shaking of sauce bottles – any more than Julia became Jules.

Politicians have long fretted over these matters. When Stanley Melbourne Bruce became prime minister in 1923, he issued a note to the press:

Mr Bruce would be very glad if the newspapers would not refer to him by his Christian name, as Mr Stanley Bruce, but always as Mr S.M. Bruce.

Today’s journalists, cartoonists and comedians – to say nothing of one’s political opponents – would be in raptures if a newly minted prime minister issued such a notice. And it was clearly unthinkable that the golf-playing, spats-wearing Bruce would be just plain Stan.

Here is a reminder that there is more than one way of performing the role of Australian prime minister. The late political psychologist Graham Little used to give a set-piece lecture on political leadership at Melbourne University, whose major details I can still recall 30 years later – so it must have been good.

Little thought there were broadly three types. Margaret Thatcher was a “strong leader” – the children’s TV program that demonstrated the style was Romper Room. Boys wore boys’ clothes and looked like boys. Girls wore girls’ clothes and looked like girls. Miss Helena dressed conservatively and had a mirror through which she could keep an eye on us at home. Moral codes were strictly defined, with the help of Mr Do Bee (“Do be an asker. Don’t be a help yourself”). Good conduct included being able to walk around with a basket balanced on your head.

“Inspiring leadership” was exemplified by Gough Whitlam – and Play School. Each, in turn, went out of their way to demonstrate good, inclusive citizenship, and creative, inclusive play, yet without pretending to become an ordinary citizen, or an ordinary child.

Like Miss Helena, Play School leaders were grownups. But unlike her – and like Whitlam – they spoke to their audience of children as intelligent equals, dressed a bit like kids (possibly in overalls, not skirts, for women) and played along with them rather than laying down the law. Big Ted was a more gentle soul than Mr Do Bee – who presumably had a sting. Gender differences are more frankly acknowledged, but explored rather than taken for granted.




Read more:
What kind of prime minister will Scott Morrison be?


And then there were “group leaders”, like Bob Hawke – and Humphrey B. Bear. Humphrey, seemingly male yet somewhat ambiguously defined, runs around without trousers (any resemblance here to an Australian prime minister, living or dead, being purely coincidental). He is also a child, not an adult, and to this extent he shares a common identity with his audience. But they are not entirely deceived: Humphrey’s not really the same as the kids watching at home. In short, he’s rather like Hawke, who at his best convinced us that he was one of us even while being unmistakably “special”.

Not all have even attempted this balancing act. Neither Bruce nor Menzies ever pretended to be everyman, although Menzies occasionally pointed to his humble origins as the son of a country storekeeper. Keating barely made the effort; his adoption of Collingwood Football Club when he became prime minister was widely ridiculed for its cynicism, coming as it did from a man whose interests ran more to classical music and French clocks.

Malcolm Turnbull’s leather jacket, never entirely convincing, did not survive his elevation to prime minister. His persona in the job more resembled a Renaissance Florentine merchant-statesman – albeit without the art or culture, which may well have been Turnbull’s major concession to the common folk.

Like Keating, the very Sydney-ish Morrison is looking south for an AFL club, and he has cultivated what journalist Phillip Coorey calls a “daggy ordinariness”. But his everyman act is already running up against his evangelical Christianity. The classic Australian plain man is not an evangelical.

Russel Ward sketched the “the typical Australian” most influentially in The Australian Legend 60 years ago. He is, Ward writes, “sceptical about the value of religion and of intellectual and cultural pursuits generally”. The latter certainly fits Morrison, but not the former.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Worst reaction to midterm PM change in Newspoll history; contrary polls in Dutton’s Dickson


That said, he leads Shorten as preferred prime minister in Newspoll. It is worth pausing to ask why Shorten, former Australian Workers’ Union leader, has never been able to break through as a personally popular figure. He has clearly modelled aspects of his career on Hawke, but no one would ever accuse him of possessing Hawke’s charisma. He will never approach his stratospheric approval ratings. Perhaps there are too many stories around of his cosy relations with filthy rich businessmen.

He became a national figure on the back of his media profile during the Beaconsfield mine disaster and rescue in Tasmania in 2006, and he campaigned most effectively in the 2016 election. Yet he often seems wooden in front of a camera, as distinct from when talking with ordinary voters. On the couple of occasions I’ve witnessed him deliver prepared speeches, he was engaging if not magnetic, and improved as he warmed to the message he was delivering.

Hawke moved in similar business circles to Shorten, and had his deficiencies as both a public speaker and parliamentary performer. But he was brilliant if unpredictable in a TV interview, before he cut the drinking and learned better to control his temper. His media image in the 1970s, while ACTU president, overwhelmed any popular suspicion that he was in the pockets of the top end of town, although there was a growing chorus of complaints about rich mates during his prime ministership.

Shorten, much more than Hawke, has been damaged by the perception of backroom dealing; with bosses, while a union leader, and over the internecine warfare within the Labor Party. Voters might have a sneaking respect for his doggedness – think John Howard – but they don’t love him and probably never will. Nonetheless, they may well elect him.The Conversation

Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

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

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Poll wrap: Labor’s lead shrinks in federal Ipsos, but grows in Victorian Galaxy; Trump’s ratings slip



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The latest Fairfax Ipsos poll gives Labor a 53-47 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since mid-August.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s federal Ipsos poll for the Fairfax papers, conducted September 12-15 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since mid-August. Primary votes were 34% Coalition (up one), 31% Labor (down four), 15% Greens (up two), 7% One Nation (steady) and 13% for all Others (up two). The respondent allocated preference figure was also 53-47 to Labor.

Newspoll and Essential last week respectively gave Labor 42% and 37% of the primary vote, with the Greens at 10% in both polls. At the 2016 election, Ipsos consistently had the Greens higher than other polls, and the election results were in line with the other polls, not Ipsos.




Read more:
Final House results and a polling critique


Ipsos is the only Australian pollster that still uses live phone interviews (mobile and landline) for its polls. All other pollsters now use either robopolling, online methods, or a combination of the two. However, live phone polling cannot be the only explanation for the high Greens vote, as Newspoll and Ipsos’ predecessor in Fairfax, Nielsen, once used live phone polling without a persistently high Greens’ vote.

While Ipsos’ primary votes are weird, the two party vote is more volatile than other pollsters, but it usually tracks other polling well. There may have been a decline for Labor because voters are no longer focused on the chaotic events leading to Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting as PM.

The last Ipsos poll (55-45 to Labor) was released on August 20, and four days later, Turnbull was gone. While this poll was not the reason for Turnbull’s downfall, it may have been the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. Two ReachTEL polls taken in the week of Turnbull’s ousting gave Labor a 51-49 and a 53-47 lead, so the 55-45 Ipsos lead was probably an outlier.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Coalition slumps to 55-45 deficit in Ipsos, and large swing to federal Labor in Queensland


Scott Morrison debuted in Ipsos with a 46% approve, 36% disapprove rating, for a net approval of +10. The August Ipsos gave Turnbull a net -2 approval, but the July poll gave him a net +17 approval. Shorten’s net approval rose seven points to -4. Morrison led Shorten by 47-37 as better PM (48-36 to Turnbull in August).

Wentworth candidate poll

We now know that Dave Sharma is the Liberal candidate for the October 20 Wentworth byelection, and that former AMA President Kerryn Phelps will stand as an independent. A ReachTEL poll conducted August 27 correctly listed Sharma as the Liberal candidate, and asked for two prominent independents, Phelps and Alex Greenwich; Greenwich is not running.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor retains big Newspoll lead; savage anti-Liberal swing in Wagga Wagga; Wentworth is tied


The results in this ReachTEL poll were 34.6% for the Liberals’ Sharma, 20.3% for Labor’s Tim Murray, 11.8% for Phelps, 11.2% for Greenwich, 8.9% Greens and 13.3% for all Others.

This poll was taken on the Monday after Turnbull was ousted, and the Coalition’s polling could improve by the byelection date. Sharma could also lift his profile before the byelection.

Victorian Galaxy poll: 53-47 to Labor

The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A state Galaxy poll for the bus industry gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a two-point gain for Labor since an early August Galaxy for The Herald Sun. No fieldwork dates, sample size or primary votes have been released yet.

Going back to April, there have been three successive Victorian polls with Labor just ahead by 51-49 from Newspoll, ReachTEL and Galaxy. It is likely Labor’s larger lead in this poll was due to a backlash over the dumping of Turnbull. On my personal website, an analysis suggested that the Coalition under Morrison was vulnerable among the well-educated, the young and in Victoria.

40% approved of Premier Daniel Andrews and 42% disapproved for a net approval of -2. Just 25% approved of Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and 44% disapproved for a net approval of -19.

In July I wrote that, unless legislation to abolish the group voting ticket system for the Victorian upper house passed both chambers by September 20, group voting would be used at the state election.




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


With just three days until the final sitting date of parliament before the election, there is no proposal for upper house reform. It is very disappointing that a left-of-centre government has not even attempted to improve the upper house voting system.

Wagga Wagga final result: independent McGirr defeats Liberals 59.6-40.4

As I reported last week, a byelection in the NSW state seat of Wagga Wagga was held on September 8. The Liberals held Wagga Wagga continuously since 1957.

Primary votes were 25.5% Liberal (down 28.3% since the 2015 election), 25.4% for independent Joe McGirr, 23.7% Labor (down 4.4%), 10.6% for independent Paul Funnell (up 0.9%) and 9.9% Shooters. After preferences, McGirr defeated the Liberals by 59.6-40.4, a 22.5% swing against the Liberals. 47% of preferences from the other candidates flowed to McGirr, 15% to the Liberals and the rest exhausted under NSW’s optional preferential voting.

Trump’s approval rating falls from 42% to 40% since late August

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen from about 42% in late August to 40% now. Trump’s ratings are their lowest since February.

I wrote a detailed analysis on the November 6 US midterm elections for The Poll Bludger on Saturday. Trump’s ratings are highly correlated with Republican performance in the race for Congress, so worse ratings for Trump will result in larger Democratic leads in the race for Congress.The Conversation

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

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

Party leaders need to address federal parliament’s intolerable workplace culture: Phelps


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

High-profile activist Kerryn Phelps, who is considering whether to join the battle in the Wentworth byelection, has condemned federal parliament’s toxic political culture and called on all major party leaders to address it.

As the fallout from Liberal MP Julia Banks’ condemnation of bullying continues, Phelps told The Conversation: “Some of the behaviour in the Australian parliament of late would not be tolerated in any other workplace”, saying it seemed to have gotten worse. This made for an unhealthy workplace which was ill-suited to getting the best performances from MPs.

Phelps, a City of Sydney councillor who was very active in the same-sex marriage debate, practices as a GP in the Wentworth electorate, and could be expected to attract a substantial vote if she ran as an independent.

The seat, formerly held by Malcolm Turnbull, who had a strong personal vote, is on a 17.7% margin but the Liberals are worried about a big protest vote.

The fallout from the leadership coup is already being felt there with Turnbull’s son Alex encouraging people to donate to the campaign of Labor candidate Tim Murray.

The younger Turnbull tweeted: “Best bang for the buck you’ll get in political donations in your life. Tight race, tight margin for government, big incremental effect whatever happens. If you want a federal election now this is the means by which to achieve it.”

While the focus in the bullying debate last week was on women, Phelps said some men suffered equally and “don’t perhaps get recognised in terms of the emotional cost [to them].”

She said the “toxic nature of parliament as a workplace” needed to be addressed, and she rejected the message sent by some Liberal players that people should toughen up or, in the words of backbencher Craig Kelly, “roll with the punches”.

If any business leader said “just toughen up”, they wouldn’t be there for long, Phelps said.

She said that a quantitative improvement in the political culture had to be generated by the leaders of the large parties. “You have to have the leaders of the major parties draw a line in the sand,” and say that bad behaviour would not advance people’s careers. At present, the opposite seemed to be the case, she said.

Earlier on Sunday, Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil said “there’s a level of aggression, of conflict, of egocentrism that dominate parliament house and I think that that is quite hard to handle”, in particular for women.

O’Neil, spokeswoman on financial services, told the ABC her experience as an MP was “that there’s increasingly a culture in Canberra and in parliament house that feels really toxic”.

Attention is coming on the Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer, who issued a general statement last week condemning bullying, to take a stronger stand. O’Dwyer is expected to say more this week.

Some current and even former Liberal MPs women are reluctant to speak out for fear of blowback.

Labor has had its own controversy centred on one of its female MPs: Emma Husar has said she will not run again, after allegations of her bullying staff and other misbehaviour. A Labor inquiry upheld some allegations but not others.

Labor’s spokesperson on women, Tanya Plibersek, said that while the way parliament worked was adversarial, debates should be conducted with decency and respect.

“A positive culture is critical, and each one of us has the duty to help foster that both within parties and across the parliament.

“I believe the closer the parliament reflects our community – a more equal representation of women and men, and a greater diversity of backgrounds – the better that culture will be.

“I actually think something that really helps is more people working on issues in a bipartisan way, for example on committees,” Plibersek said.

Meanwhile, Christine Forster, Tony Abbott’s sister, has dropped out of the race for Liberal pre-selection for the Wentworth byelection.

She said in a statement the commentary about her candidacy “has focused on the suggestion that it was a proxy for division within the Liberal party. That is not the case, but to avoid any such perception, I will be standing aside and giving my full support to the successful candidate.”

Forster had not been regarded a frontrunner in the contest, which is considered to be between a former ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, and Andrew Bragg, who was briefly acting Liberal federal director.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Grattan on Friday: The high costs of our destructive coup culture


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Australia’s “coup culture” has become so entrenched that it now holds serious dangers for our democracy. Not that the politicians seem to give a damn. For all the talk of “listening” and being “on your side” the voters have once again been treated as little more than a gullible audience for a low-grade reality show.

A decade or two ago, many commentators advocated four-year federal terms, to encourage better policymaking. Now we can’t even count on a prime minister lasting through the three-year parliamentary term after the election they win.

In less than a decade, we’ve had four prime ministerial coups: from Rudd to Gillard (2010); from Gillard to Rudd (2013); from Abbott to Turnbull (2015); and, last week, from Turnbull to Morrison.

A couple of these seemed politically savvy. I admit to thinking them so. In 2013, Kevin Rudd was reinstated to “save the furniture”, and he did. In 2015, Tony Abbott’s government appeared headed for certain oblivion. Malcolm Turnbull was installed as a better prospect; in the event, he won in 2016 by the skin of his teeth.

The Gillard coup, driven by a panic attack and colleagues’ frustration with Rudd’s style, was ill-conceived. The botched assault by Peter Dutton, that elevated Scott Morrison, was fuelled by a cocktail of revenge against Turnbull and a policy push to the right. We’ll see how it ends, but likely it won’t be well.

While a particular coup may have its justifications, when you look at a clutch of them, they’re bad for the country and for the political system.

Some will point to history for precedent – Paul Keating overthrew Bob Hawke in 1991. But we didn’t in those days have a “coup culture”.

We may chuckle on hearing Australia referred to abroad as the “coup capital” of the world. But it’s not a joke. Although this country will continue to be seen as a safe place to invest, a rolling prime ministership must eventually test the faith of outsiders.

The coup culture works against the sort of decision-making that requires serious policy bravery. Time frames shorten – ironically, just when governments fancifully cast programs as stretching over ten years.

Thinking for the future is difficult enough with continuous polling and the shrill media cycle. But if a prime minister can’t rely on their troops guaranteeing their leadership through tough patches, or standing up against guerrilla insurgencies, public policy is reduced to the lowest common denominator or falls victim to the worst of internal power struggles.

Ditching opposition leaders is different from tossing out prime ministers. It has its own problems, but doesn’t undermine the system the way assassinating a PM does. Voters feel (and are entitled to feel) they elect the prime minister; it’s not technically true but it is effectively so, as campaigns are so leader-focused.

Fundamental in this revolving door is the cost to trust. As in other democracies, Australians’ trust in their system and its players has been eroding over decades.

Research from the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis found fewer than 41% of Australians are currently satisfied with the way our democracy works. This compared with 78% in 1996.

Generation X is least satisfied (31%); the baby boomers most satisfied (50%). Women are generally less satisfied with democracy and more distrustful of politicians and political institutions.

According to this data – which preceded the leadership crisis – only 21% trust politicians and 28% trust journalists.

The yet-to-be-released research concludes: “Politicians, government ministers and political parties are deeply distrusted and media of all kinds and how they report Canberra politics are viewed as a key part of the problem.”

The research also found strong public support for reforms to ensure greater political accountability of MPs and to stimulate more public participation.

The coup culture further alienates an already disillusioned public, unable to comprehend the appalling behaviour they often witness from their politicians.

Recently I spoke to members of a community leadership program who’d come to Canberra for a couple of days of briefings from politicians and others. They’d been to Question Time a few hours before I met them.

To journalists, it was a pretty standard QT. For these people, what they witnessed was shocking. They had trouble getting their heads around how the goings on – the shouting, the insults – could be so dreadful. They’d looked over at the schoolchildren in another part of the public gallery and wondered what those youngsters were thinking.

They asked: why do our politicians act like this and what can be done? All 72 decided to write to their MPs to say this wasn’t the type of conduct they wanted to see from them.

My hunch is that this group of ordinary, well-educated, interested citizens would probably be even more put off by subsequent events.

One thing I suspect would have particularly disturbed them is the way the players in last week’s coup expect the public to just move right on. Everyone was back to work, they said.

Gillard in 2010 tried to explain and justify her deposing of Rudd by saying “I believed that a good government was losing its way”. It didn’t wash.

We know for ourselves the reasons for the latest coup – hatred of Turnbull and a desire to force a sharp turn to the right. But have the main coup-makers and their allies (as distinct from their noisy backers in the media), and the windfall beneficiaries, felt the need to properly account for their actions?

This hit-and-run attitude is contemptuous of the public.

The coup culture, especially in this instance, is also accompanied by an “anything goes” view of tactics. Again, it is a matter of degree – the extent to which the hardball, which we always see at such times, crosses a line.

For some of the Liberal women, it undoubtedly did last week.

Julia Banks, announcing on Wednesday that she’ll resign her Melbourne seat of Chisholm at the election, has cited bullying. Western Australian senator Linda Reynolds went to the lengths of telling the Senate: “I just hope that … the behaviours we have seen and the bullying and intimidation, which I do not recognise as Liberal in any way, shape or form, are brought to account.”

But Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger saw it as par for the course, saying, in response to Banks: “This is politics. People do speak strongly to each other. You just need to look at Question Time. If you think Question Time is not full of bullying and intimidation then you’ve got another thing coming.”

Well, anyone who bullied or was fine with such conduct should do this: go to your local high school and explain to the kids why bullying shouldn’t be in their tool kit but is needed in yours.

Some Liberals flirt with the idea of rules to curb the coup culture, a path Labor has gone down.

It depends on the model: as with so much in politics, what looks good at first sight may hold dangers. Giving a party’s rank and file a say in electing the leader, as the ALP does, might eventually advantage those harder to sell to voters, because party memberships are small and unrepresentative.

A higher-than-50% threshold for a spill, which Labor also has embraced and Reynolds suggests, holds some merit. But when Anthony Albanese was stalking Bill Shorten before the Super Saturday byelections, Albanese’s supporters insisted the rule could be circumvented.

What’s really critical is the culture – in a party and in the political system generally. Once that’s been corroded, it’s a devil of a job to scrape the rust off.

There are no easy ways to rid ourselves of the coup culture, or to force tin-eared politicians to lift their game. But it wouldn’t hurt for more people to follow the example of those in the community leadership program and remind their MPs of their KPIs.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Grattan on Friday: Wentworth preselectors’ rebuff to Morrison caps week of mayhem


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Liberal preselectors of Wentworth delivered their new prime minister a humiliating public slapdown.

In selecting Dave Sharma, 42, former Australian ambassador to Israel and now a partner in an accountancy firm, as the candidate for the October 20 byelection, the preselectors have on all accounts chosen the best candidate.

But Scott Morrison had made it known he wanted a woman, a preference that’s been embarrassingly rejected. Katherine O’Regan, who was supposed to come out the winner, ran fifth.

Moreover, on Thursday it was learned that John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull were both encouraging Sharma to stay in the contest. So the two former prime ministers managed to do over the current prime minister.

The Wentworth Liberals, whose local member and PM was cut down, have had their revenge. The question now is whether the electors will also take theirs. Sharma has the potential to be an excellent MP. But he lives way outside the electorate, so he’ll start with a disadvantage against the high profile Kerryn Phelps, who is set to run as an independent.




Read more:
Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20


This week has recalled the worst of Labor’s days. Morrison’s attempt to move things on from the coup didn’t cut it, just like Julia Gillard found her wheels spinning when she tried to dig her government out of various bogs.

In a highly provocative move, Turnbull has been busy from New York lobbying to have cabinet minister Peter Dutton’s parliamentary eligibility referred the High Court, to determine whether an interest in a child care business through a trust could see him in breach of the constiution’s troublesome section 44.

Turnbull explained in a tweet:

Morrison brushed this aside, saying the public didn’t want the “lawyers’ picnic” to continue. But wishing it away won’t resolve a legitimate question that needs to be answered.

Never mind that Turnbull can be accused of malice; that he wasn’t worried about Dutton’s situation months ago, or that his government voted against referral.

Post coup, we are in a new era. A spurned Turnbull is off the leash. So is former Liberal deputy Julie Bishop who, when asked about her stance, was coy.

“If there’s a vote on that matter then I’ll make my mind up at that time, but of course we want clarity around the standing of all the members of parliament,” she said. Backbencher Bishop has been reborn as outspokenly independent.

An unhappy “ex” is dangerously liberated to cause trouble, whether they’re inside or outside parliament. Tony Abbott has been the model.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was also freelancing, accusing Turnbull of “an active campaign to try and remove us as the government”.

Turnbull quitting parliament has already delivered a major blow to his successor by triggering the byelection that, at worst, could put Morrison into minority government.

The legal opinion that Turnbull commissioned from the Solicitor-General during the leadership crisis has left sufficient uncertainty about Dutton’s eligibility to enable Turnbull to pursue the man who moved against him.

As we saw in the citizenship cases, this High Court takes a narrow view of section 44. Dutton might be on solid ground – as he insists and the Solicitor-General’s opinion supports. But doubt remains – as that opinion also concedes.

Labor is set to have a fresh try next week to refer Dutton to the court. The Herald Sun reports that two Liberals are considering voting with the opposition, a threat they’re making to push the government to take the matter into its own hands. The internal unease will be hard for Morrison to manage.

Bloodied by his unsuccessful power grab, Dutton is also still locked in an altercation with former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg about ministerial interventions on visas.

Holes have been shot in Quaedvlieg’s claims. But Dutton went over the top when he used parliamentary privilege to accuse Quaedvlieg – sacked for helping his girlfriend get a job – of “grooming” a girl 30 years his junior. Even his colleagues did a double take at the term.




Read more:
Dutton accuses Quaedvlieg of “grooming” a young woman, in new angry clash


Dutton’s Canberra troubles can’t be helping him in his battle to hold his very marginal Queensland seat of Dickson, where GetUp has him in its sights.

All in all, Dutton is a marked man. If he survives to serve in the next parliament, it will be remarkable. That he remains in cabinet in this one is notable.

Normally someone who’d caused so much damage to the party and himself would now be on the backbench. But Dutton had hardly warmed a seat there, after the first challenge, than he was back in Home Affairs following the second one.

Here is a paradox: he is damaged goods, but too powerful to cast aside. Or rather, his right-wing support base is too strong for him to be relegated.

If Morrison wasn’t able to keep the lid on the controversies around Dutton, he was a little more successful in containing the insurgency from some of the women over bullying and low female representation.

He headed off backbencher Lucy Gichuhi’s threat to name the bullies. “The Prime Minister has taken up the issue,” she tweeted after their meeting.

Morrison’s pitch to the women was that he’d work with them and the whips internally. It is believed some complaints about behaviour have been made to the whips. The Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, has proposed the Liberal party organisation should have an independent and confidential process to operate when concerns are raised.

The recent events have sparked a few calls in the party for quotas, but there is minimal chance of the Liberals following Labor down that path.

But the Wentworth outcome could produce another round in the war over gender representation.

All week, the Liberals struggled to answer the key question: why was Turnbull deposed? It took Nationals leader Michael McCormack to give the brutal response on Thursday. McCormack identified three factors – ambition, Newspolls, and opportunity. “People take those opportunities and we’ve got a new prime minister,” he said.

And the view from the voters? As one Liberal MP says, they’ve got the baseball bats out.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The byelection for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat, will be held on October 20.

The announcement by the Speaker, Tony Smith, came ahead of the Liberals choosing their candidate on Thursday. Rolls will close on September 24 and nominations will close September 27.

The byelection is crucial for Scott Morrison who will face a very difficult test in the initial days of his prime ministership. The outcome in the byelection will set the political tone for the rest of the year.

Morrison will encounter a lot of anger in the electorate at the removal of Turnbull as prime minister. Turnbull was very popular and had grown the Liberal vote substantially, to a 17.7% margin in 2016. On what is known of his arrangements, Turnbull would be back from New York in the final days of the byelection – whether he would campaign for the Liberal candidate is not known.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Wentworth looks scary for Liberals having trouble explaining why they sacked its PM


Labor’s candidate, Tim Murray, has already been campaigning, and high-profile Kerryn Phelps, who has a medical practice in the electorate, is set to run. Phelps could attract a strong vote from disaffected Liberal supporters.

In the Liberal preselection all eyes will be on whether a woman is selected, after one of the frontrunners, Andrew Bragg, pulled out, saying the candidate should be female.




Read more:
Bragg drops out of Liberal preselection battle, calling for woman candidate


The two leading women in the field are Katherine O’Regan, who has been a political staffer and is chair at Sydney East Business Chamber, and Mary-Lou Jarvis, a vice-president of the NSW Liberal Party.

Earlier this week Morrison, asked on 2GB – in the context of the push for a female candidate – whether he was “a merit person or not”, said: “I’m a merit person and the party members will decide our candidate in Wentworth.

“It’s [the preselectors’] choice … Just like it has to be, in every single seat in the country.”

Wentworth is a well-educated, well-off electorate.

In the 2016 census, of those aged 15 and over, nearly half (46.8%) had attained the level of bachelor degree or above, compared with 23.4% for NSW as a whole.

Professionals made up 40.7% (NSW, 23.6%) and managers 20.8% (13.5%, for NSW).

The median weekly income was $1,242 for a person ($664, for NSW); for a family it was $3,231 ($1780 for NSW).The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Poll wrap: Labor retains big Newspoll lead; savage anti-Liberal swing in Wagga Wagga; Wentworth is tied


File 20180911 123110 w6mk80.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The latest polls show Morrison is relatively popular, but the Coalition is trailing Labor badly on two-party preferred.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,650 gave Labor a second consecutive landslide 56-44 lead. Primary votes were 42% Labor (up one), 34% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (down one).

This is the Coalition’s 40th successive Newspoll loss. It is also Labor’s highest primary vote since Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as PM in June 2010. Labor and the Greens combined have had a majority of the primary vote in the last two Newspolls. Under Malcolm Turnbull, the highest Labor/Greens vote was 48%.

Scott Morrison’s first Newspoll ratings were 41% satisfied, 39% dissatisfied, for a net approval of +2. In his last Newspoll as PM four weeks ago, Turnbull’s net approval was -19, but in the poll before that his net approval was -6, his equal highest this term. Bill Shorten’s net approval jumped ten points to -14 since four weeks ago. Morrison led Shorten by 42-36 as better PM (39-33 to Shorten last fortnight).

The Coalition and Morrison led Labor and Shorten by 40-36 on maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower (37-36 four weeks ago). A question on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is skewed right.

This question asks if pulling out “could result in lower electricity prices”, which is a dubious proposition. It also presents Donald Trump’s reasons for pulling out as a statement of fact. In last fortnight’s Essential, voters opposed withdrawing from Paris by 46-32, while in Newspoll’s skewed question, they favoured pulling out 46-40.

Morrison is currently relatively popular, but the Coalition is trailing badly. This indicates that perceptions of the Coalition have crashed since the leadership spill, and the last two weeks of claims about bullying have not helped.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Worst reaction to midterm PM change in Newspoll history; contrary polls in Dutton’s Dickson


In January to February 2010, new NSW Labor Premier Kristina Keneally had a +15 net approval in Newspoll, while her party trailed by 57-43. At the March 2011 state election, Labor was crushed by 64-36 on two party preferred votes. The key question is whether perceptions of the federal Coalition recover before the next election.

Morrison’s positive ratings are likely due to a honeymoon effect, with people giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, Morrison’s +2 net approval is weak compared to most new PMs in their first Newspoll ratings.

According to analyst Kevin Bonham, only Paul Keating (a -21 net approval) had a net approval much worse than Morrison. Rudd’s second stint as PM began with a net zero approval, and all other new PMs had a far better net approval than Morrison.

I have conducted analysis based on The Poll Bludger’s review of the 2016 election, and aggregated data from Turnbull’s final three Newspolls as PM. As explained on my personal website, the Coalition under Morrison appears most likely to lose support among the well-educated, the young and in Victoria.

The federal Coalition’s woes almost certainly contributed to bad results for the state Liberals in the Wagga Wagga byelection and in a Tasmanian state poll.

Over 28% primary vote swing against Liberals at Wagga Wagga byelection

A byelection was held on Saturday in the New South Wales state seat of Wagga Wagga, following the resignation of Liberal MP Daryl Maguire over allegations of corrupt behaviour. The Liberals have held Wagga Wagga since 1957.

Primary votes were 25.5% Liberal (down 28.2% since the 2015 election), 25.4% for independent Joe McGirr, 23.7% Labor (down 4.3%), 10.6% for independent Paul Funnell (up 0.9%) and 9.9% Shooters. McGirr will almost certainly win on preferences from all other candidates, but we do not yet have a two candidate count as the electoral commission selected Labor and the Liberals as its two candidates on election night.

The Labor vs Liberal election night two candidate count gave Labor a 51.4-48.6 lead, though not all votes were entered before it was pulled. So if the Liberals and Labor had been the final two candidates, Labor would have won on about a 14% swing. NSW uses optional preferential voting for its state elections, and the swing to Labor would be higher with compulsory preferential.

The NSW state election will be held in March 2019, but I have seen no NSW state polls since a March ReachTEL poll, which had the Coalition ahead by 52-48.

Wentworth ReachTEL: 50-50 tie

A byelection is likely to be held in Wentworth in October. A ReachTEL Wentworth poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted August 27 from a sample of 886, had a 50-50 tie between the Liberals and Labor, an 18% swing to Labor since the 2016 election.

There were two primary vote scenarios. In the first, the Liberals had 41.9%, Labor 31.5%, the Greens 15.6% and One Nation 2.3%. The second scenario included two prominent independents, who each had 11-12%, with the Liberals on 34.6%, Labor 20.3% and the Greens 8.9%.

While seat polls are unreliable, the loss of Turnbull’s personal vote, and the anger of well-educated voters at his ousting, could make Wentworth close (see my previous article).

By 67-24, Wentworth voters thought the national energy guarantee should include an emissions reduction target. By 69-10, they thought Scott Morrison would do less to tackle climate change than Turnbull, rather than more.

National Essential: 54-46 to Labor

This week’s national Essential poll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,050, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a one point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Labor (down two), 36% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 8% One Nation (up one).

Essential still uses the 2016 election preference flows, where One Nation preferences split evenly, while Newspoll assigns One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the Coalition. If both pollsters used the same preferencing method, there would be a three point gap between Newspoll and Essential. The Labor primary vote is five points lower in Essential than in Newspoll.

Morrison’s initial ratings in Essential were 37% approve, 31% disapprove, for a net approval of +6; Turnbull had a net zero approval in August. Shorten’s net approval was up two points since August to -8. Morrison led Shorten by 39-27 as better PM (39-29 last fortnight).

By 47-35, voters disapproved of the change from Turnbull to Morrison (40-35 last fortnight). By 69-23, they thought it important that the government agree to a policy for reducing carbon emissions.

Over 57% agreed with four negative statements about the government, but voters disagreed by 41-34 with the proposition that Tony Abbott and his conservative supporters are really running the country now.

Over 2/3 of One Nation preferences went to LNP at Longman byelection

A political eternity ago, five byelections were held on July 28. On August 30, the electoral commission provided detailed preference flow data.




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


Labor won Longman by 54.5-45.5 against the LNP, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor, 29.6% LNP, 15.9% One Nation, 4.8% Greens and 9.8% for all Others. 67.7% of One Nation voters preferenced the LNP ahead of Labor, a massive increase from 43.5% at the 2016 election.

Labor also had weaker flows from the Greens, winning 76.5% of their preferences, down from 80.7%. However, Labor won 59.0% of preferences from Other candidates, including 81% from the DLP.

At the 2016 election, One Nation recommended preferences to Labor ahead of the LNP in Longman; at the byelection, they reversed their recommendations. However, I believe the largest factor in the One Nation shift is that they were perceived as an anti-establishment party in 2016, but are now clearly a right-wing party.

One Nation’s preference flows in Longman vindicate Newspoll’s decision to assign about 60% of One Nation’s preferences to the Coalition, rather than the 50-50 split that occurred at the 2016 election.

Final results and preference flows for the other four July 28 byelection seats are available at my personal website. Overall, Labor had strong performances in Longman and Fremantle, but did not do very well in the other seats. The Greens failed to benefit from the Liberals’ absence in Perth and Fremantle.

Tasmanian EMRS poll: 36% Liberals (down 11), 34% Labor, 16% Greens

A Tasmanian state EMRS poll, conducted August 29-31 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 36% of the vote (down 11 since May), Labor 34% (up four) and the Greens 16% (up two). Labor leader Rebecca White led incumbent Will Hodgman as better Premier by 46-38 (47-41 to Hodgman in May). This is the largest poll-to–poll drop for a party in EMRS history.

Bonham interpreted this poll as 39% Liberals, 36% Labor and 13% Greens. If the poll is correct, the Liberals are likely to lose their majority under Tasmania’s Hare Clark system.The Conversation

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

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

Labor leads 56-44% in Newspoll, but Morrison rates better than Shorten


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Newspoll has the Coalition still trailing Labor 44-56% in two-party terms, as government members return to parliament with wounds remaining raw from the leadership coup and tighter numbers in the House of Representatives.

The Liberal party is also reeling after a massive swing has cost it the previously safe seat of Wagga Wagga in Saturday’s NSW state byelection.

In Newspoll Scott Morrison has, however, gone ahead of Bill Shorten as better prime minister, leading him 42-36%. A fortnight ago, immediately after the coup, the two-party vote also had the ALP leading 56-44% but Shorten was in front of Morrison as better PM 39-33%.

This is the 40th consecutive Newspoll the government has lost. Labor’s primary vote increased one point in the fortnight to 42%. The Coalition’s primary vote is up a point to 34%.

The poll, published in Monday’s Australian, has Morrison with a satisfaction rating of 41%, with 39% dissatisfied, a net rating of plus 2. Satisfaction with Shorten was 37%; his dissatisfaction rating was 51%, giving him a net rating of minus 14.

The poll comes as parliament meets for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted. With Turnbull gone the government has lost its majority on the floor. The Nationals’ Kevin Hogan is now sitting on the crossbench, in the wake of the government’s recent turmoil but has guaranteed confidence and supply – and also continues to attend party room meetings.

The government’s survival is not at risk, but conduct of the house will be difficult.

While Morrison is trying to unify his party, debate about federal factors in the loss of the state byelection, the continuing row over allegations of bullying, and the Dutton au pair affair mean the Prime Minister is facing strong head winds.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on changing the pension age, women in parliament and the au pair saga


A 28.4% plunge in the Liberal vote in Wagga Wagga was driven by state issues – the previous MP resigned in a corruption scandal – but it obviously also included a voter backlash over the federal chaos. The Liberals have held the regional seat since 1957.

With nearly 87% of the vote counted, ABC electoral analyst Antony Green said the independent candidate Joe McGirr, a doctor and an academic, is set to clinch the seat, ahead of Labor. On counting so far McGirr has 25.4%, the Liberals 25.3%, Labor 23.8%, and the four other candidates collectively 25.5%.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, while accepting the voters’ message for her government, said on Sunday that the timing of the byelection, coinciding with “other major political events” provided “the perfect storm.”

The Liberals are now bracing for a big swing in the coming federal byelection in Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth, which is on a margin of 17.7%.

The strength of McGirr’s showing indicates that if, as expected, the high profile local doctor Kerryn Phelps runs as an independent, she could be expected to attract a big protest vote. Turnbull had a very large personal vote in the electorate.

The Speaker, Tony Smith, is expected to announce the byelection date any day and the Liberals will choose their candidate on Thursday.

Preselection contestants include Andrew Bragg, who was briefly acting federal director of the party, former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, and barrister Peter King, the one-time member for the seat, who Turnbull beat for preselection in 2004.

Others are Mary-Lou Jarvis, a vice-president of the NSW Liberal party; Michael Feneley, a leading cardiologist; Carrington Brigham, a digital communications specialist; Katherine O’Regan, a commercial board director; Richard Shields, who works for the Insurance Council of Australia, and Maxine Szramka, a rheumatologist..

In parliament, eyes will be on Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi, who has threatened to name people who have engaged in bullying.

Meanwhile senior Liberal figures have been working to ensure that Julia Banks, who has denounced bullying and said she will quit parliament at the election, doesn’t leave early. Banks holds the Victorian marginal seat of Chisholm.




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Politics podcast: Judith Troeth on the Liberal party’s woman problem and asylum seekers


Treasurer and Liberal deputy leader Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday that he had been speaking to Banks regularly and he was confident she would remain in parliament until the election.

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton will be under pressure in parliament this week in the au pair affair, with the Senate committee inquiring into it due to release a clarifying letter from former Australian Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg, whose account of an alleged intervention from Dutton’s office in a visa case has been denounced by Dutton as a “fabrication”.




Read more:
Dutton and former Border Force chief trade accusations in au pair affair


The cabinet will ratify Morrison’s decisions, already announced, to drop the planned rise in the pension age to 70, and kill off the National Energy Guarantee.




Read more:
Morrison does about-face on age pension eligibility rising to 70


Frydenberg, who worked doggedly over a long period to try to achieve the NEG, which in the end was sunk by the right in the Coalition, admitted that “no one is more disappointed than I am” that it was now dead.

“But as Bismarck said … ‘politics is the art of the possible’ and it was very clear that the legislation [on the emissions target] couldn’t proceed,” he told the ABC.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Poll wrap: Worst reaction to midterm PM change in Newspoll history; contrary polls in Dutton’s Dickson



File 20180828 75999 et3ypa.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Most Australians did not want Malcolm Turnbull to be deposed as prime minister.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted August 24-26 – the days following the leadership spill – from a sample of 1,780, gave Labor a massive 56-44 lead, a five point gain for Labor since last fortnight. Primary votes were 41% Labor (up six), 33% Coalition (down four), 10% Greens (steady) and 7% One Nation (down two).

This is Labor’s biggest lead and highest primary vote in Newspoll since Tony Abbott knighted Prince Philip in January 2015. It is also the Coalition’s 39th successive Newspoll loss, and their lowest primary vote since 2008, when Kevin Rudd was dominant. Since July 2015, Newspoll has been a very stable poll, so a five-point swing is remarkable.




Read more:
Labor Seizes Double Digit Poll Lead


There have been four previous midterm changes of PM in Newspoll’s history. In December 1991, Paul Keating ousted Bob Hawke. In June 2010, Julia Gillard deposed Rudd. In June 2013, Rudd returned Gillard’s favour. In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull replaced Abbott.

According to analyst Kevin Bonham, in the poll following the change of PM, the governing party gained two points after preferences in 1991, one point in 2010, six points in 2013 and five points in 2015. The five-point drop in 2018 is by far the worst reaction to a midterm change of PM.

Turnbull and Rudd were both far more popular than the incumbents when they won leadership spills; the public wanted them to be PM. Keating and Gillard were both very well-known, and the incumbent PM had lost his popularity when toppled.

Just four weeks ago, in the Newspoll taken over the weekend of the July 28 byelections, Turnbull’s net approval was -6, his equal best this term. Polls taken in the week of the spill showed Turnbull leading as best Liberal leader with all voters and Liberal voters. The public did not want to replace Turnbull.

The public’s choice for a replacement would have been Julie Bishop, but she won just 11 votes in the spill. Bishop’s resignation as foreign affairs minister on Sunday damages the Coalition by depriving it of a popular figure.

Turnbull was forced out by the hard right’s hatred of him, not due to public opprobrium. Peter Dutton, who led the challenge, did not become PM, and Scott Morrison, who barely registered in Liberal leadership polls, is now PM owing to his ability to win the numbers in the party room.




Read more:
How the hard right terminated Turnbull, only to see Scott Morrison become PM


I believe the public see Turnbull’s downfall as being the result of a right-wing coup, and this has greatly damaged the Coalition’s standing. On Sunday, Dutton was reappointed as home affairs minister. I think this was a mistake by Morrison, as the public would like to see Dutton punished.

This Newspoll was taken in the immediate aftermath of a week of vicious internal politics. But memories of that week will fade, helping the Coalition. Morrison starts with low expectations. If he exceeds those expectations, the Coalition is likely to benefit. A big question is whether Morrison can appeal to moderates without angering the hard right MPs and media commentators who destroyed Turnbull.

In other results from Newspoll, Bill Shorten had a 39-33 better PM lead over Morrison (44-32 to Turnbull last fortnight). This broke Shorten’s run of losses under Turnbull; the last time he won a better PM poll was under Abbott. Morrison has had no time to establish himself. The usual approval ratings questions were not asked this week.

Morrison led Shorten by 44-34 as best economic manager (48-31 under Turnbull in May). The economy is regarded as a Coalition strength, and Morrison was the former treasurer.

On best Liberal leader, Bishop had 29%, Morrison 25%, Turnbull 14%, Abbott 11% and Dutton just 6%. Morrison has benefited from a victory bounce, while the opposite has happened to Turnbull.

Essential: 55-45 to Labor; huge increase in Liberals’ divided perception

This week’s Essential poll, conducted August 24-26 from a sample of 1,035, gave Labor a 55-45 lead, a three point gain for Labor since last fortnight. Primary votes were 39% Labor (up two), 35% Coalition (down four), 10% Greens (steady) and 7% One Nation (up one). Essential continues to use 2016 election preference flows, and this poll would probably be 54-46 by Newspoll’s methods.

Since late July, there has been a 23-point increase in perception that the Liberals are divided, a 14-point decrease in “has a good team of leaders”, a 12-point decrease in “clear about what they stand for”, and an eight-point decrease in moderate. The only large change for Labor is a ten-point decrease in divided.

The Liberals now lead Labor by 33 points on divided (tied in late July), by 31 points on “too close to big corporate interests” and by 18 points on “out of touch”. Labor leads by 23 points on working people’s interests and by 14 points on “clear about what they stand for”.

By 40-35, voters disapproved of Morrison replacing Turnbull as PM. By 57-27, voters agreed that the Liberals are divided and no longer fit to govern. Voters thought Morrison the better PM against Shorten by a 39-29 margin (41-27 to Turnbull last fortnight).

23% (up seven since July) thought Bishop the best Liberal leader, 15% Turnbull (down 13), 10% Morrison (up eight), 9% Abbott (down one) and just 4% Dutton (down one). Bishop had 25% with Coalition voters, Morrison 22% and Turnbull 18%.

By 46-32, voters opposed withdrawing from the Paris agreement on carbon emissions, and there was a 41-41 tie on funding more coal-fired power stations. Cutting tax rates for big businesses and people earning over $200,000 per year had over 62% opposed. Cutting immigration numbers was supported 62-27. Over 60% supported seven proposed measures to reduce gambling.

Contrary polls in Dickson; 9% swing to Labor in Deakin

Dutton holds the Queensland seat of Dickson by a 2.0% margin. A Newspoll, conducted August 22-23 – Turnbull’s last two days as PM – from a sample of 1,850, gave Labor a 52-48 lead. Primary votes were 37% LNP, 37% Labor, 10% One Nation and 9% Greens. If Dutton were PM, there would be a 50-50 tie in Dickson, owing to a five-point gain for the LNP at One Nation’s expense.

ReachTEL has conducted polls for Fairfax media in Dickson, Reid in NSW and Deakin in Victoria, on August 25-26, each with samples of 1,050. In Dickson, Dutton had a 54-46 lead. In Reid, the Liberals led by 52-48, a 3% swing to Labor since the 2016 election. In Deakin, Labor led by 53-47, a 9% swing to Labor.

These seat polls indicate that the Coalition’s problems with the transition are particularly severe in Victoria, as One Nation does not do well there and there are many moderates. Queensland is One Nation’s strongest state, and a switch to a more right-wing PM may help the Coalition gain One Nation votes.

Seat polls are unreliable, and it is better to use the latest national and state polling as a guide to seats. Given the national swing in Newspoll of over 6% to Labor, I think the Newspoll Dickson poll is more likely to be accurate.

Morrison led Shorten as better PM by 52-48 in Deakin, 55-45 in Reid and 59-41 in Dickson. ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM question is assisting Morrison; most people do not know enough about him for an opinion, and are giving him the benefit of the doubt over the still-unpopular Shorten.

In the three seats polled by ReachTEL, over 53% disagreed with the removal of Turnbull and less than 38% agreed. Over 61% thought Abbott should remain on the backbench, while under 33% thought he should return to Cabinet. Over 51% thought Australia should not withdraw from the Paris agreement on reducing emissions, and under 40% thought Australia should withdraw.

Wentworth byelection in October

Malcolm Turnbull will resign as the Member for Wentworth on Friday, and a byelection is likely to be held in October. While Turnbull holds Wentworth by a 17.7% margin, the tweet below from the ABC’s Antony Green shows he massively increased his vote from 2007 to 2013. Without Turnbull’s personal vote, Wentworth may be vulnerable, but it is still a big ask for a non-Liberal to win.The Conversation

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

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

View from The Hill: Furious voters deliver their verdict, with government’s huge Newspoll plunge


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The voters have screamed their anger about the Liberals’ self-indulgent bloodletting in the first Newspoll after the coup. Labor’s two-party lead over the Coalition has jumped to 56-44%, a massive change from the 51-49% margin only a fortnight ago.

While Bill Shorten could never get his nose in front of Malcolm Turnbull as “better prime minister”, the opposition leader holds a 39-33% lead over the new prime minister, Scott Morrison. Two weeks ago Turnbull had a 12-point advantage as better PM. This is the first time since February 2015 that Shorten has led on this measure.

The Coalition’s primary vote has plunged four points to 33%; Labor’s vote has increased from 35% to 41%, in The Australian’s poll, which comes as Morrison moved quickly to announce his ministerial team.

The new line-up sees the man who swung the wrecking ball to destroy a prime minister restored to cabinet, while on the backbench, by her own choice (and within cooee of Tony Abbott, who didn’t get the call to a ministry), will sit the Liberal woman who is highly popular with the public.

Many would believe Peter Dutton’s inclusion defies decent political standards after the damage he inflicted. Julie Bishop’s absence squanders political advantage. We are indeed living in strange times.

Normally an unsuccessful challenger would put himself, or be put, onto the backbench. But the strength of the hardline conservative forces would have made it impossible to exclude Dutton from the cabinet, even if Morrison – who denied him the prime ministerial prize – had wanted to.

So Dutton returns to Home Affairs. But the immigration section of the portfolio has been hived off to another minister. The “mega” department that Turnbull constructed to keep his ambitious minister happy won’t be quite so “mega” now.

By the change, Morrison has partially clipped Dutton’s wings while also signalling his own belief in the economic benefits of immigration.

But he has also put “population” explicitly into a ministry, with cities, urban infrastructure and population, to be held by Alan Tudge, and declared that Tudge will be dealing with “congestion”.

So we’ll see where the immigration debate goes from here. The conservatives are not likely to give up their battle to lower the intake as much as they can.

It was Bishop’s decision to leave the frontbench, and maybe it was always going to be this way once she lost her bid to lead. But she might have also been influenced by being humiliated – she polled very badly because of the push by the anti-Dutton forces to make sure Scott Morrison finished second, not third, in the first round.

In the end, Bishop’s argument that her popularity, demonstrated in the polls, could hold seats counted for nothing in the ballot.

The new cabinet has one more woman than the old one, bringing the number to six. But of course there is no woman in the Liberal leadership team now. Once again, the Liberals find themselves short on the gender front.

The absence of Bishop leaves a gaping hole, both in Australia’s foreign profile and in the Liberals’ domestic firepower.

Her energy, style and years in the job maximised Bishop’s role internationally. Just as importantly, she did a great deal of the heavy lifting domestically – in the media, in party fundraising and in campaigning in marginal seats.

However adequately Marise Payne performs abroad, she is not going to fill Bishop’s shoes at home. Since she has been in cabinet, Payne has been rarely heard publicly outside her portfolio (and seldom on that), carrying none of the government’s general campaign in the media.

Morrison’s ministry and his comments when announcing it tell us his orientation in the energy area. He has split energy and environment, and put the conservative Angus Taylor – who recently said “the obsession with emissions at the expense of reliability and affordability has been a massive mistake” – in charge of energy.

Morrison said the priorities are reliability and despatchable power, and that Taylor is to be minister for bringing down prices. But this surely is only the beginning of the story. Morrison will need to have a position sooner rather than later on emissions, and he will have to respond to the conservatives’ push for Australia to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

If anyone had any doubt that the wrangling will continue, Nationals backbencher George Christensen quickly tweeted: “Looking forward to @ScottMorrisonMP & @AngusTaylorMP getting baseload underwriting scheme underway ASAP to develop new coal-fired power stations, inc one in Nth Qld. More is needed: major equity fund for new coal-fired power & abandon costly green treaties, mandates & subsidies.”

Meanwhile, Morrison is beginning to broaden his image and fashion his leadership persona in a rather unexpected way – via the drought.

On the day he was elected he said the drought was his top priority. On the following day he was pictured meeting the co-ordinator of the drought effort. On Sunday he was on the Australia All Over program (when was the last time a PM did that?). He also named former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce “special envoy for drought”. On Monday he visits Queensland areas in drought.

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The Conversation

Struggling farmers may be impressed by this attention, or they may be cynical about it.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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