Albanese’s $10bn pledge pushes housing needs back into the limelight


Hal Pawson, UNSWOpposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s budget reply speech last night highlighted Australia’s huge unnmet need for social and affordable housing. It’s once again shaping up as a major election issue. Labor is proposing a A$10 billion program to build 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years.

The immediate backdrop for the pledge is a post-COVID house price boom, and a continuing dearth of Commonwealth investment in new non-market housing. That is, rentals affordable to low-income Australians and provided by government agencies or non-profit community housing organisations.

Amid the many new spending plans revealed in Tuesday’s budget, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg maintained the government’s resistance to an ever-wider coalition of voices calling for social housing stimulus.




Read more:
Why more housing stimulus will be needed to sustain recovery



Conversation Economic Society of Australia survey, September 2020

Just how big is the problem?

With borders largely closed since March last year, it’s true that sharply reduced migration has temporarily dampened rental housing demand over the past 15 months. That in turn has generally subdued increases in rents. However, that national norm masks the rapidly rising rents seen in many regional markets during 2020-21.

And despite some local price reductions, Anglicare’s recent survey of 74,000 “lease ready” property listings identified only three (0.004%) affordable to a single person on the JobSeeker payment. More strikingly, for every household income type included in the survey, Anglicare found the availability of affordable lets even lower in early 2021 than a year earlier.

The broader and longer-term picture in the private rental market has been one of shrinking numbers of tenancies that low-income Australians can afford to rent. Specifically, we saw a 50% increase in the national deficit in private lets affordable to low-income renters (in the bottom 20% of incomes) in the decade to 2016.

A decade of negligible investment in social housing construction has only made this situation worse. The result has been a continued decline in availability as public and community housing has dwindled from 6% to only 4% of all housing since the 1990s. In fact, proportionate to population, social rental lettings have halved over this period.

A clear point of difference, but not a game-changer

Tuesday’s budget marked a continuation of the Morrison government’s near-exclusive housing focus on efforts to assist aspirational first-home buyers. Most significantly, this policy stance inspired the $2.1 billion HomeBuilder program as an economic recovery measure during 2020-21.




Read more:
Why the focus of stimulus plans has to be construction that puts social housing first


The ALP has pointedly backed both HomeBuilder and the smaller measures to assist first-home buyers announced on Tuesday. But Albanese’s new announcement seemingly extends Labor’s housing pitch beyond the Coalition’s comfort zone.

Anthony Albanese pledges $10 billion to build social housing in budget reply speech.

So is this the “major initiative” hailed by some headline writers? A “fix for house prices” it certainly is not. If unwisely attempted purely through public spending, the funding required to get into that territory would need to be many times as great.

Opposition housing spokesperson Jason Clare more defensibly describes the ALP pitch as “a significant start” in tackling Australia’s “housing crisis”.

The current national stock of social and affordable rental housing totals just over 400,000. In recent years annual additions have amounted to only 2,000-3,000. That’s barely enough even to offset continuing sales and demolitions. In these terms, Albanese’s pledge to expand the supply by 6,000 a year would indeed be significant.

At the same time, as our previous research has shown, a net increase of 15,000 units a year is needed just to keep pace with “normal” population growth – that is, to halt the decline in social rental as a share of all housing. Even under a post-pandemic scenario where migration rules are tightened as far as imaginable, that figure would not be substantially smaller.

So, like the Victorian government’s recently launched social housing stimulus, the ALP’s proposed national program would mark a promising break with the recent past, and a platform for further measures. But it would be hard to describe it as a game-changer.




Read more:
Victoria’s $5.4bn Big Housing Build: it is big, but the social housing challenge is even bigger


While greatly expanded social housing provision would be an essential part of any credible package to seriously address Australia’s housing affordability challenge, a far wider program of action is needed. Most importantly, such a program must also tackle our grossly unbalanced housing tax settings, boost renters’ rights and diversify the available choice of housing.

What the country needs above all is a Commonwealth commitment to assembling the national housing strategy that is so long overdue.




Read more:
Australia’s housing system needs a big shake-up: here’s how we can crack this


The Conversation


Hal Pawson, Professor of Housing Research and Policy, and Associate Director, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW

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

Australia: Budget 2021


View from The Hill: a budget for a pandemic, with next year’s election in mind


Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraTreasurer Josh Frydenberg calls this a “pandemic budget” – one to sustain the economy in times that are still uncertain – but it also has a substantial element of an election budget.

That’s not to suggest Prime Minister Scott Morrison will rush to the polls this year. But given the election has to be held by May 21, 2022, this is likely to be the last budget of the cycle. Another could be squeezed in, as in 2019, but it would have to be brought forward from the normal time.

Last year the treasurer said budget repair and debt repayment – otherwise known as the hard and unpleasant decisions – wouldn’t be undertaken before unemployment was “comfortably” below 6%.




Read more:
Vital Signs. The RBA wants to cut unemployment, and nothing — not even soaring home prices — will stand in its way


Now unemployment is 5.6% (the March figure) but Frydenberg has shifted the goal posts, so the emphasis remains on recovery, with more difficult reckonings a way off – beyond the election.

Given a grim COVID picture internationally and a long way to go with the vaccine program locally, that is sound – and also politically convenient.

In this budget, the government’s policy approach is firmly aligned with that of the Reserve Bank, with Frydenberg embracing the bank’s objective of pushing unemployment well below pre-pandemic levels, which means to a rate with a 4 in front of it.

Two central spending areas in the budget have been, in effect, imposed on the government.

It had to respond to the damning findings of the aged care royal commission. The fact most Australian COVID deaths occurred in aged care underlined how unfit for purpose the system is. Frydenberg told the ABC there will be more than $10 billion spending on aged care over the forward estimates.

The budget’s “women’s” focus — a sharp contrast to last year — has drivers that go beyond the urgent need to do more to combat violence against women, and other imperatives.

Morrison’s “women problem”, which exploded with the demonstrations following the high-profile allegations of rape, most obviously increased the attention on women in this budget, which will include a women’s statement with initiatives on health, safety, and economic security.

Also, Labor’s decision to make childcare one of its main policy pitches, promising a big spend, reinforced economic considerations pushing the government to produce its own childcare policy (which doesn’t start until July 2022).

Even in the middle of the pandemic last year, few would have thought that by now we’d still have no firm idea when our international borders will re-open.

Morrison is cautious about it, and judges that’s in line with the thinking of the Australians public at the moment. He can read those state electoral results as well as anyone — he knows people put health safety above all else.

“International borders will only open when it is safe to do so”, he said on Facebook at the weekend. “Australians are living like in few countries around the world today.”

On the other hand, the pressure for students to come, migration to resume and people to be allowed to travel must build sooner or later.

The budget’s assumptions will put the reopening in 2022, Frydenberg told the ABC at the weekend.




Read more:
Frydenberg promises housing breaks in ‘pandemic budget’


Economist Saul Eslake says while keeping the country closed to the outside world is obviously not sustainable in the long run, it has, in a perverse way, some short run plusses for the government’s economic objectives.

“It’s very easy to get unemployment down when the border is closed. You only need to create 5000 new jobs a month to prevent unemployment rising.

“Previously [with migrants coming] you needed 16,000 new jobs a month. Currently we’re creating 60,000 a month,” Eslake says.

Migrants stimulate growth. But so does having Australians unable to travel overseas, Eslake says. They can only spend domestically – or save – the $55 billion they would normally be spending abroad. They appear to be spending quite a deal of it on things like home equipment, furnishings, renovations, cars, and even clothing.

While fiscal repair is formally delayed, the budget will show it is gradually, to a degree, repairing itself.

The quicker-than-expected bounce back of the labour market, which reduces welfare costs and boosts tax revenue, and the similar rebound in corporate profits, help the bottom line. Frydenberg says that, despite JobKeeper coming to an end, 105,000 people came off income support in April. High iron ore prices are also a godsend to revenue.

Chris Richardson, from Deloitte Access Economics, has forecast a deficit for this financial year of about $167 billion, compared with the December budget update figure of $198 billion. For 2021-22 , the Deloitte forecast is a deficit of about $87 billion compared with the update’s forecast of $108 billion.

Still, a balanced budget will be some years off, Richardson says.

He gives four reasons: substantial structural spending on aged care, mental health, childcare, disability and the like; low wage and price inflation (inflation helps budgets); missing migrants; and interest payments on debt (helped by low interest rates but still significant).

On what we know, the budget will be safe rather than adventurous. And while budgets can always unexpectedly trip over their own feet, and inevitably have plenty of critics, this will be the sort of benign one that doesn’t go out of its way to hurt or offend voters.

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.

Liberals’ victory in Tasmanian election is more status quo than ringing endorsement


AAP/Sarah Rhodes

Michael Lester, University of TasmaniaThe Tasmanian Liberal government has been returned for a record third term, vindicating premier Peter Gutwein’s decision to go to an election a year early.

However, rather than the big swings to the incumbent governments seen in recent elections in Queensland and Western Australia due to their management of the pandemic, the result in Tasmania maintained the status quo.

While benefiting from Gutwein’s high personal popularity due to his management of the pandemic, the Liberal vote fell slightly from 50.3% at the 2018 election to 48.8% at the close of counting late on Saturday night. However, Labor’s vote fell 4.5% to just 28%.




Read more:
Liberals likely to retain majority in Tasmania; Biden’s ratings after 100 days


The Liberals are poised to win 13 seats in the 25-seat House of Assembly, Labor nine, the Greens two and one independent.

Under Tasmania’s Hare Clark proportional electoral system, five members are returned from five seats. These are Bass in the state’s north, Braddon in the north-west, Clark and Franklin in the greater Hobart area and southern region, and Lyons, which sprawls across the state’s centre and east coast.

To win a seat, each candidate needs to win 16.6% of the formal vote but, based on the percentage of vote for each party group, it is clear the Liberals will win three seats in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, two seats in Franklin and most likely two seats in Clark.

Labor’s nine seats include two in Bass, Braddon, Franklin and Lyons but only one in the party’s former stronghold of Clark. The main reason for this is the loss of votes to two high-profile independents – Glenorchy City Council mayor Kristie Johnston and the former Liberal speaker Sue Hickey – one of whom is predicted to win a seat on preferences.

The Greens vote is up 2% to 12.3% statewide, securing the two seats they held in the previous parliament in Clark and Franklin, but not enough to win further seats.

Labor leader Rebecca White conceded defeat on Saturday night, congratulating Gutwein on winning the election and for his high personal vote after securing almost half the available votes in his electorate of Bass. This is among the highest individual votes in the modern era.




Read more:
As Tasmanians head to the polls, Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein hopes to cash in on COVID management


Gutwein claimed victory but stopped short of declaring he had secured a majority, saying only it appeared “increasingly likely”.

The election outcome means a return to the one-seat majority his government held just prior to the election. He also made history by securing the Liberals a record third term in office in Tasmania.

While the balance of seats remains much the same, there will be a turnover of members with some new faces replacing former MPs.

In the government line-up, Hickey, who was ousted from the Liberal Party a few days before the election was called, looks likely to be replaced by former Labor MP turned independent Madeleine Ogilvie, who switched to the Liberals just days after Gutwein announced the election.

In Braddon, first-term MP Felix Ellis lifted his vote by 6.1% while scandal-prone former MP Adam Brooks has edged ahead of housing minister Roger Jaensch and may replace him in the Liberal team.

On the opposition benches, Kingborough Council mayor Dean Winter, who was the subject of a fierce factional battle to prevent him standing for Labor, will replace Labor frontbencher Alison Standen in Franklin.

In Bass, former Launceston mayor Janie Finlay is poised to replace Jennifer Houston in Labor’s line-up.

Tasmania also saw elections in two of the Legislative Council seats of Derwent in the state’s south and Windemere in the north. Labor MLC Craig Farrell defeated his Liberal rival, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw. In Windemere, where the sitting independent retired, Liberal candidate and television presenter Nick Duigan is leading Labor’s Geoff Lyons and independent Will Smith. That seat will be decided by preferences.

It will be 10 days before the final distribution of preferences can commence in the House of Assembly election due to the need to wait until all postal votes are counted. But only in Clark is there potential for this process to affect the election result.

Either way, it is either a Liberal majority or a Liberal minority government.The Conversation

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

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

Liberals likely to retain majority in Tasmania; Biden’s ratings after 100 days


AAP/Chris Crerar

Adrian Beaumont, The University of MelbourneWith 79% counted in Saturday’s Tasmanian election, the ABC is calling 12 of the 25 Tasmanian lower house seats for the Liberals, eight for Labor, two Greens and three undecided. Vote shares were 48.7% Liberals (down 1.5% since the 2018 election), 28.4% Labor (down 4.3%), 12.2% Greens (up 1.9%) and 6.3% for independents.

Tasmania uses the Hare-Clark system, with five electorates each returning five members. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%.

In The Poll Bludger’s projections, the Liberals are on 3.6 quotas in Bass, Labor 1.6 and the Greens 0.6. The Liberals will win three, Labor one and the last is Labor vs Greens.

In Braddon, the Liberals have 3.4 quotas, Labor 1.6, the Greens 0.3 and an independent 0.4. The most likely result is three Liberals and two Labor.

In Lyons, the Liberals have 3.1 quotas, Labor 2.0 and the Greens 0.5. A clear three Liberals, two Labor.

In Franklin, the Liberals have 2.5 quotas, Labor 2.0 and the Greens 1.1. The Liberals will win two, Labor two and the Greens one.

Finally in Clark, the Liberals have 1.9 quotas, Labor 1.3, the Greens 1.2 and Independents Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey 0.7 and 0.6 respectively. If this projection holds up, it is hard to see the Liberals not getting two Clark seats and a majority.

Adding it up, the most probable result of the Tasmanian election is 13 Liberals (steady since the 2018 election), eight Labor, two Greens, one Labor vs Greens in Bass and one independent in Clark (Hickey or Johnston).

Premier Peter Gutwein had called this election ten months earlier than scheduled, hoping to take advantage of high ratings attributable to COVID. A June 2020 Newspoll gave Gutwein an astonishing rating of 90-8 satisfied, almost certainly the best approval polled by any premier or PM in Australian polling history.

Gutwein gambled that his COVID popularity would get the Liberals to a majority while it remained an issue. It looks as if his gamble has succeeded. The Liberals are likely to retain government in Tasmania for a third term, while the same party is in power federally. This is a big achievement in a state that voted for Labor by 56.0-44.0 at the 2019 federal election.

The last publicly released poll, an EMRS February poll, gave the Liberals 52%, Labor 27% and the Greens 14%. In my election preview, a uComms poll for The Australia Institute gave the Liberals 41.4%, Labor 32.1%, the Greens 12.4%, Independents 11.0% and Others 3.1%.




Read more:
Tasmanian election preview: commissioned poll has Liberals likely short of majority


This commissioned poll was too low on the Liberals and too high on Labor and independents.

Liberals likely to gain Windermere in upper house, but Labor retains Derwent

Two of the 15 upper house seats were up for election for six-year terms. In Derwent, which Labor has held since 1979, they led the Liberals by 48.7% to 41.2%, with 10.0% for Animal Justice. In Windermere, held by a retiring conservative independent, the Liberals had 37.7% to Labor’s 26.8% with 21.2% for an independent.

Preferences have not yet been distributed for either seat, but Labor will clearly retain Derwent while the Liberals are likely to gain Windermere. The upper house will retain its 9-6 left-right split.

After first 100 days, Biden has 54% approval rating

It is 101 days since Joe Biden began his term as US president on January 20. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his ratings with all polls are 53.9% approve, 41.4% disapprove (net +12.5%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Biden’s ratings are 53.8% approve, 42.0% disapprove (net +11.8%). For the duration of his presidency, Biden’s approval has been between 53% and 55%.

FiveThirtyEight has ratings of presidents since Harry Truman (president from 1945-53). At this stage of their presidencies, Biden’s net approval is only ahead of Donald Trump and Gerald Ford (who took over after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974).

The US economy, boosted by stimulus payments, appears to be recovering very well from COVID, but attempted illegal immigration has surged since Biden became president. The key question is how Biden’s ratings look at the November 2022 midterms, when the president’s party normally loses seats.The Conversation

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

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

Tasmanian election preview: commissioned poll has Liberals likely short of majority


AAP/Sarah Rhodes

Adrian Beaumont, The University of MelbourneThe Tasmanian election will be held on Saturday, with polls closing at 6pm AEST. A uComms poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted April 21 from a sample of 1,023, gave the Liberals 41.4%, Labor 32.1%, the Greens 12.4%, Independents 11.0% and Others 3.1%.

This poll is in marked contrast to the last publicly available Tasmanian poll: an EMRS poll in February that gave the Liberals 52%, Labor 27%, Greens 14% and 7% for all Others.

The uComms poll is likely to be the only poll of the election campaign. There will be no pre-election EMRS poll, and Newspoll did not do a pre-election survey in 2018.

Analyst Kevin Bonham says there are many reasons to doubt this uComms poll. If previous uComms polls in November 2019 and 2020 are benchmarked against comparable EMRS polls, the Liberal vote is well below EMRS – and EMRS understated the Liberals by an average 1.8% at the last four Tasmanian elections.

Another reason to be sceptical is that Labor’s vote is only so high owing to the 7% who said they were initially undecided. When pushed, 67% of them backed Labor, implying a soft Labor vote. Polls that are not media-released should be treated cautiously, whether the commmissioning source is left or right-wing.

Bonham’s seat model has the Liberals winning around 12 of the 25 Tasmanian lower house seats if the uComms poll is correct, denying them a majority.




Read more:
As Tasmanians head to the polls, Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein hopes to cash in on COVID management


Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system

Tasmania uses the same five electorates for federal and state elections. At state elections, five members are elected per electorate using the Hare-Clark system, for a total of 25 lower house members.

If ordered from most Liberal to least at the 2019 federal election by Liberal vs Labor two party vote, the electorates are Braddon (53.4% to Liberal), Bass (50.4%), Lyons (44.8%), Franklin (37.8%) and Clark (33.8%). Independent Andrew Wilkie won Clark, but the two party vote ignores independents. The Liberal vote in Lyons would probably have been higher if not for candidate issues.

At the 2018 Tasmanian election, the Liberals won 13 of the 25 seats, to ten for Labor and two Greens. The Liberals won three seats in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, and two in both Franklin and Clark (called Denison then). Statewide vote shares were 50.3% Liberal, 32.6% Labor and 10.3% Greens.

With five members per electorate, a quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. Tasmania uses the Hare-Clark system with Robson rotation, which randomly orders candidates within a party group on ballot papers. This means there is no advantage to being the top candidate for your party.

Hare-Clark is a candidate-based system; people vote for candidates, and there is no above the line box to vote for your party. A formal vote requires at least five preferences in Tasmania.

For the distribution of preferences, all candidates who achieve a quota at any stage are elected, and their surplus over one quota transferred. When nobody remaining has a quota, candidates are eliminated, starting with the person with the lowest vote. Owing to exhaustion, final candidates elected often have less than a full quota.

Votes can leak out of a party’s ticket, costing them seats where they appeared ahead on first preferences. If votes split evenly among a bigger party’s candidates, those candidates can defeat a smaller party even if the smaller party was closer to quota. For instance, one party could have 1.8 quotas, but their two candidates have 0.9 quotas each, beating another party that had 0.85 quotas.

At this election, most electorates will feature Liberal vs Labor vs Greens contests, but Clark has two prominent independents: former lower house Speaker Sue Hickey, who sometimes opposed her Liberal party’s positions, and quit the party when she was not preselected; and local mayor Kristie Johnston.

These independents could explain the high vote for independents of 11% in the uComms poll, but Bonham is still sceptical. Polls that ask specifically for independents draw voters who will back independents if one that suits their politics stands. But as suitable independents don’t usually exist, they underperform their polling.




Read more:
Coalition and Morrison gain in Newspoll, and the new Resolve poll


Upper house elections

Two or three of Tasmania’s 15 single-member upper house seats are up for election every May for six-year terms, and this time the upper house elections will occur concurrently with the lower house.

This year, elections will occur in Derwent and Windermere. In Mersey, left-leaning independent Mike Gaffney was re-elected unopposed. That means nobody else nominated to run, so Gaffney was declared elected without an election.

Derwent has been held continuously by Labor since 1979, and they outpolled the Liberals 45.4% to 41.9% in 2018, despite the statewide thrashing. Windermere was held by retiring conservative independent Ivan Dean; in 2018, the Liberals won 54.6%, Labor 30.6% and the Greens 7.5%. The most likely outcome is Labor retaining Derwent while the Liberals gain Windermere.

According to Bonham, the upper house currently has five Labor, three Liberals, four left independents, two centre-right independents and one conservative independent. The 9-6 left majority could be reduced to 8-7 if the Liberals upset Labor in Derwent.

Bonham’s Tasmanian election guide, with links to both the lower and upper house electorates, has been of great assistance for this article.

Federal Essential poll and additional Newspoll questions

In this week’s federal Essential poll, conducted April 21-26 from a sample of 1,090, 42% said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible (down five since March), 42% said they would get vaccinated but not straight away (up two) and 16% said they would never get vaccinated (up four).

The bad publicity for the AstraZeneca vaccine over the blood clots issue has had an impact, with 27% saying they would be willing to get the Pfizer vaccine, but not AstraZeneca.

43% thought the vaccination rollout was being down efficiently (down 25 since early March), 63% thought it was being done safely (down ten) and 52% thought it would be effective at stopping COVID (down 11).

In Newspoll, 70% approved of Scott Morrison’s handling of the COVID pandemic, while 27% disapproved. That’s down from 82-15 approval last June. By 53-43, voters were satisfied with the vaccine rollout.The Conversation

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

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

Coalition and Morrison gain in Newspoll, and the new Resolve poll


AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, The University of MelbourneThis week’s Newspoll, conducted April 21-24 from a sample of 1,510, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for the Coalition since the previous Newspoll, four weeks ago. Primary votes were 41% Coalition (up one), 38% Labor (steady), 10% Greens (down one) and 3% One Nation (up one). Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

59% (up four) were satisfied with Scott Morrison’s performance, and 37% (down three) were dissatisfied, for a net approval of +22, up seven points. Anthony Albanese’s net approval fell five points to -3. Morrison led as better PM by 56-30 (52-32 four weeks ago).

In my article last fortnight, I suggested a backlash against political correctness was making sexual misbehaviour more acceptable. The Coalition and Morrison’s recovery in this poll appears to validate that argument.




Read more:
Has a backlash against political correctness made sexual misbehaviour more acceptable?


The adverse publicity regarding vaccination problems may have been expected to damage the government. But as long as there are very few local COVID cases, it appears the general public will forgive the rollout issues.

There is likely to be a strong economic recovery from COVID, and this is a problem for Labor. The new Resolve poll had the Coalition and Morrison ahead of Labor and Albanese by over 20 points on both the economy and COVID. In March, the unemployment rate was 5.6%, well down from the peak of 7.5% last July.

Many on the left want Albanese to resign in favour of a more left-wing candidate like Tanya Plibersek. But the polling indicates Labor’s leadership is not the problem, Morrison’s popularity is. In fact, given Morrison’s ratings, the Coalition would normally be expected to lead by a substantial margin.

Outside election campaigns, most voters pay little attention to the opposition. So it’s what the government does that drives voting intentions and the PM’s popularity.

New pollster for Nine newspapers

The Resolve Strategic poll will be conducted monthly for Nine newspapers from a normal sample of 1,600 interviewed by online methods. The first sample included an additional 400 live phone interviews. Fieldwork will be conducted during the month.

Every two months, state polls of Victoria and NSW will be released. Since Newspoll stopped doing regular state polling in 2015, there have been virtually no polls of either state outside election periods.

No two party vote is given, but primary votes in the first Resolve poll, with fieldwork up to April 16, were 38% Coalition, 33% Labor, 12% Greens and 6% One Nation.

One Nation’s vote is far higher than in Newspoll, but analyst Kevin Bonham says Newspoll is only asking for One Nation in seats they contested at the last election. Bonham estimates the two party vote from these primaries as a 50-50 tie.

Respondents were asked to rate the party leaders’ performance in recent weeks. Morrison had a 50% good, 38% poor rating (net +12), while Albanese was at 35% good, 41% poor (net -6). Morrison led Albanese as preferred PM by 47-25.

Voters were asked which party and leader would be better at various issues. However, offering “someone else” as an option disadvantages Labor, particularly on environmental issues where the Greens do best. The Coalition and Morrison led Labor and Albanese by 43-21 on economic management and by 42-20 on handling COVID.

Essential and Morgan polls

In last fortnight’s Essential poll, Morrison had a 54-37 approval rating; his +17 net approval dropped five points from the late March poll.

The large gender gap in Morrison’s ratings that I discussed last fortnight remained: his approval with men was 61%, but 46% with women. This gap was 16 points in late March.

Albanese’s net approval was down four points from mid-March to +5, and Morrison led as better PM by 47-28 (52-26 in mid-March).

The federal government had a 62-17 good rating on its response to COVID (70-12 in mid-March). This reverts to about where its COVID response was before a spike in November. State governments also saw falls in their COVID ratings. If Labor had been in power federally, by 44-37 voters were confident that they would have dealt well with COVID.

While Essential continues to give the federal government strong COVID ratings, a Morgan SMS poll, conducted April 9-10 – after Morrison announced the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be recommended for those under 50 – had voters disapproving of Morrison’s handling of COVID by 51-49.

Less than a week before Tasmanian election, poll has Liberals at just 41%

The Tasmanian election will be held on Saturday. A uComms poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted April 21 from a sample of 1,023, gave the Liberals 41.4%, Labor 32.1%, the Greens 12.4%, Independents 11.0% and Others 3.1%.

This poll is in marked contrast to the last publicly available Tasmanian poll: an EMRS poll in February that gave the Liberals 52%, Labor 27%, Greens 14% and 7% for all Others. I will have more details of the Tasmanian election in a post on Wednesday.

WA election upper house final results

At the March 13 Western Australian election, Labor won 22 of the 36 upper house seats (up eight since 2017), the Liberals seven (down two), the Nationals three (down one), Legalise Cannabis two (up two), the Greens one (down three) and Daylight Saving one (up one). One Nation (three seats in 2017), the Shooters (one) and the Liberal Democrats (one) all failed to return to parliament.

This is the first time Labor has won a majority of seats in the WA upper house. They won 60.3% of the vote in the upper house, slightly higher than their 59.9% in the lower house. Labor won 21 of their 22 seats on raw quotas, and needed very slight help for their fourth seat in Mining and Pastoral region.




Read more:
Labor obliterates Liberals in historic WA election; will win control of upper house for first time


Labor lost two seats they should have won to Legalise Cannabis under the Group Ticket Voting (GTV) system. That gave Legalise Cannabis double the seats of the Greens despite less than one-third of the Greens’ statewide vote (2.0% vs 6.4%).

The most ridiculous result occurred in the Mining and Pastoral region, where Daylight Saving were able to win a seat on just 98 first preference votes and 0.2% of the statewide vote. This occurred owing to both GTV and malapportionment. Every one of WA’s six regions elects six members, even though the Agricultural region has just 6% of enrolled voters and the Mining and Pastoral region 4%.

ABC election analyst Antony Green’s final lower house two party estimate is that Labor won by an Australian record for any state or territory of 69.7% to 30.3%, a 14.1% swing to Labor from what was already a thumping 2017 victory.The Conversation

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

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

Here’s why the Coalition favours optional preferential voting: it would devastate Labor


Benjamin Reilly, University of Western AustraliaCould a change be afoot in the way Australians vote in federal elections?

The Coalition government may be eyeing a shift to optional preferential voting — as used in New South Wales — which allows voters to simply vote “1” or allocate only a partial list of preferences on their ballot, instead of a full ordering of preferences for every candidate.

The proposal was included in a series of potentially revolutionary changes to our electoral system that were quietly released by a parliamentary committee in December, when few people were paying attention.

The joint standing committee on electoral matters claimed a shift to optional preferential voting would help address rising rates of “informal voting” in NSW caused by the differences between the state and federal systems. The reason: a valid vote at the state level with less than a full list of preferences would be invalid if repeated at a federal election.

What the committee did not say is that based on current voting patterns, a shift to optional preferencing could also cement the Coalition in government.

As a follow-up to a newly published study, we have modelled how recent federal elections would have changed if an optional preferential system had been used. We found the results would have been devastating for Labor.




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Labor supported by Greens preferences

The reason the Coalition would benefit from an optional preferential voting system is simple.

In recent decades, Labor’s primary vote has slumped in federal elections, but full preferential voting has kept its two-party preferred vote high.

This is because Labor benefits from consistent preference flows from parties to the left, in particular the Greens. Approximately 80% of Greens preferences at federal elections go to the ALP at present.

A significant proportion of this preference flow is the result of Greens voters being forced to choose between Labor and the Coalition at some point – even in their final preference markings on the ballot – so their votes are valid.

Labor and the Greens oppose changing the current voting system, but the proposal from the joint standing committee reportedly has support from some Senate cross-benchers.




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How Labor would have fared under optional preferences

Data collected by the ABC’s election analyst, Antony Green, at the 2015 NSW election shows the rate of Greens preferences transferring to Labor declines precipitously from 82.7% under full preferential voting to just 37.4% under optional preferential voting.

In our study, we extrapolated how past election outcomes would have been affected if this was repeated nationally. We were conscious of the challenges that come with generalising in this way, and comparing one state’s data to the country as a whole.

We found that in most seats, switching to optional preferential voting would have partisan effects that are sharply skewed to the right.

This is best illustrated by looking at the seats Labor has won in recent elections by overtaking the Coalition after trailing on first preferences. These would be the seats most affected by a shift from full to optional preferential voting.

These “come-from-behind” victories would become much rarer under optional preferential voting. By our calculations, Labor would have won somewhere between five and eight fewer seats at each recent federal election, as the graph below shows.



Author provided

This means Labor would have lost the 2010 election outright and suffered heavier defeats in the 2013, 2016 and 2019 elections if optional preferences had been in use. Labor would also have lost the byelections in 2018 and 2020.

In 2010, the fragile Labor minority government would have likely won independent Andrew Wilkie’s and The Greens’ Adam Bandt’s seats under optional preferential voting, but would have lost four others to the Liberals, including Treasurer Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley. Labor would not have had enough seats to form government.

Labor won a total of 36 come-from-behind seats in the 2013, 2016 and 2019 elections. Our analysis suggests Labor would have won less than half (17) of these seats under optional preferencing.

Minor parties and independents would also be shut out

Our model also suggests minor parties and independents would struggle to win under optional preferential voting.

As mentioned before, Labor would have won the seats of Melbourne and Dension from Bandt and Wilkie in 2010.

And the Liberals would have triumphed over Cathy McGowan (independent), Clive Palmer (Palmer United Party) and Bob Katter (Katter’s Australian Party) in 2013; Rebekha Sharkie (Nick Xenophon Team/Centre Alliance) in 2016 and 2019; Kerryn Phelps (independent) in 2018 and Helen Haines (independent) in 2019.

Our modelling suggests Independent MP Cathy McGowan would have lost the 2019 election for the seat of Indi under optional preferential voting.
Lukas Coch/AAP

With fewer independents and minor parties, the House of Representatives would be a less diverse and colourful place, and the crossbench less politically influential.

Given this, it is striking that both Centre Alliance and One Nation will reportedly back the government in the Senate if it decides to push for a change to optional preferential voting.




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Whether the government pursues reform before the next election probably comes down to the Senate numbers, given Labor and the Greens will bitterly oppose any change.

It will also depend on internal Coalition management considerations, with the National Party traditionally opposed to optional preferences, and the government’s more precarious numbers in the House since Craig Kelly’s move to the crossbench.

The government response to the joint standing committee’s report is currently being prepared by the assistant minister for electoral matters, Ben Morton, a former party secretary.

While tightly guarded, we can say with confidence that the reason advanced by the committee for the change – that it will reduce informal voting – is unlikely to feature highly in his calculations. Instead, raw political calculations must make this a highly tempting reform for the government.


Jack Stewart, a Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons) student at the University of Western Australia, compiled the data for this study.The Conversation

Benjamin Reilly, Professor, University of Western Australia

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

With the government on the ropes, Anthony Albanese has a fighting chance


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National UniversitySome promising polling for Labor in recent weeks has inevitably raised that perennial question for a party whose national triumphs since Federation 120 years ago have been rare: can it win the next election? And in the manner of modern elections, the question soon becomes a more personal one: can it win under its present leader, Anthony Albanese?

My punditry in such matters is likely to be no better or worse than anyone else’s. Apart from polling, the limitations of which have become all too well known, there’s little for most of us to go on.

One place we might look is the quality of an opposition leader’s performance. They really have two jobs, which is one of the reasons no one much likes being opposition leader.

First, they need to keep government accountable, scrutinising its behaviour using parliament, committees such as Senate Estimates, and the media to draw attention to government failings or worse.

Their other job is to make themselves look like an alternative government. They do so by preparing policies, crafting an attractive image, and attending to problems such as weaknesses in the party organisation.

Taking these two roles into account, how well has Labor been doing this under Albanese?




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In the aftermath of the 2019 election, as is usually the case after an election defeat, it’s hard for an opposition to get a hearing. The government will usually have an agenda that it pursues aggressively in the flush of an election victory. Few wish to listen to the leader of a party only recently repudiated at the polls.

The months that followed the 2019 election had some of these features. The government pursued massive tax cuts, which Labor supported. But given Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s lack of an agenda – his policy at the 2019 election was to win the 2019 election – there was little for Albanese and Labor to get their teeth into.

That soon changed. Summer is usually a quiet time for both government and opposition. It was on this basis, that Morrison, “Jen and the girls” headed for Hawaii. But the Black Summer bushfires provided Albanese and the Labor opposition with their first chance to lay a glove on Morrison.

While Morrison’s performance was so poor that Albanese needed to do little to look good by comparison, the crisis did damage the government sufficiently to raise Labor’s hopes that the shine gained from “Morrison’s miracle” was wearing off.

Morrison’s absence for a Hawaiian holiday during the Black Summer of 2019-20 provoked community outrage, and an opportunity for Albanese.
AAP/Instagram/Scott Marsh

Then came sports rorts. This scandal provided Labor with opportunities to build an argument that this was a mean and tricky government that put winning elections ahead of integrity or fairness. It claimed a ministerial scalp.

Sports rorts was soon overwhelmed by the pandemic. This was very bad news for Labor. Parliamentary sittings were reduced. Worried citizens attended to their private affairs. National cabinet provided a sense of Labor state governments being drawn into the tent with Morrison, while the federal Labor opposition was rendered irrelevant. Morrison even courted the unions with some success.

Governments almost invariably benefit from major crises because they are seen as doers. There are strong pressures to place an increasing range of issues “beyond politics”, a boon for those intent on looting the treasury and bad for public accountability.

The government’s massive spending stimulus made Labor seem particularly irrelevant. There can be no doubt that if a Labor government had tried anything similar, it would have been subjected to the mother of all campaigns by right-wing media.

So, if Albanese and much of his front bench seemed invisible during this period, this is not a matter for which they can be much criticised. And to be fair, several Labor shadow ministers used this period productively to explore what a post-pandemic order might look like.

We complain about our politicians spending too little time reading and thinking. We should notice when they do. This was Labor performing the second of those functions of opposition: crafting an alternative government.

With the pandemic largely under control, Albanese has a better chance to present himself as an alternative prime minister.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

The gods have been kinder to Labor during 2021. The government has been mired in crisis, scandal and sleaze. Labor, meanwhile, has benefited from its slow and steady achievement of greater gender equity during decades in which the Coalition’s performance in this area has deteriorated.




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Labor has admittedly had to do little to keep the government accountable in these matters – Morrison’s ineptness and an enterprising group of mainly female journalists have done its job for it – but the party has benefited enormously from having capable women in leadership positions. Albanese has been able to avoid looking like another well-meaning mansplainer when the issues of sexual assault and harassment are in the spotlight.

The blatant failures of the vaccination program have provided new opportunities for the Labor Party to criticise a government that likes to present itself as the saviour of the Australian people in its hour of need – as Psalm 46 would have it, “a very present help in trouble”.

Electors seem less certain. They have returned two state Labor governments in Queensland and Western Australia widely perceived to have kept their populations safe. Other state governments remain popular, even that of Daniel Andrews, despite Victoria’s ordeal of a second wave of infections.

It is not clear how much credit the Morrison government will be able to claim. Dealing competently with the Global Financial Crisis in 2008-9 appeared to win the Rudd government limited credit among voters in the medium term. It was persecuted for a few failures instead.

Albanese’s place in these considerations remains an ambiguous one. Tanya Plibersek seems to have emerged as the most likely alternative and, if Albanese were to falter at the next election, his successor.

The rules adopted by the Labor Party during the second Rudd prime ministership in 2013 make it difficult to remove a leader between elections unless he or she agrees to go. In any case, and leaving aside the party’s split under Billy Hughes in 1916 and the interim leadership of Frank Forde in 1945, Labor has still only once removed a leader without giving him the opportunity to fight an election: Simon Crean in 2003.

Tanya Plibersek is the most logical alternative Labor leader.
AAP/Dean Lewins

As the son of a single mother raised in public housing, Albanese has a backstory that might be attractive to may voters, if they only knew it. He is a consummate political professional in an age of political professionals, admired for his management of parliamentary business during the challenging minority government of Julia Gillard.

Albanese would not have been among the front rank of ministers in the best Labor governments of the modern era — those of Bob Hawke in the 1980s. But that probably isn’t a large mark against him. After all, the general quality of our political leaders has deteriorated since then, too.

At the very least, the turn of the political dial seems to give Labor, and Albanese, a fighting chance.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.

Labor’s plan for $15 billion ‘reconstruction fund’ to promote post-pandemic manufacturing economy


Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraA Labor government would set up a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to promote manufacturing in Australia’s post pandemic economy.

The fund, to be announced on Tuesday as Labor begins its national conference, would partner with private investors and superannuation funds, which have access to large reserves of capital.

It would be aimed at helping build new industries and boosting existing ones. The $15 billion would be provided through a combination of loans, equity, co-investment and guarantees.

In a statement on the plan, Anthony Albanese and shadow minister for national reconstruction. Richard Marles, say the pandemic has highlighted the serious deficiencies Australia has in its manufacturing capabilities and its ability to be globally competitive in innovation and technology.

“If there is anything that COVID has taught us, it is the need for Australia to be a place which makes things – to have our own industrial and manufacturing capabilities, our own sovereign capabilities,” they say.

“From commercialising our historic capacity in science and innovation to boosting the development of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, through to reviving our capability to make cars, trains and ships, today’s announcement will support the businesses in these industries to secure the capital and investment to grow and prosper,” Albanese and Marles say.

The fund would concentrate on a range of strategic industries. These would include resources value adding; food and beverage processing; transport; medical science; renewables and low emission technologies; defence capability, and enabling capabilities across engineering, data science and software development.

Objectives of the fund would be to:

  • reduce the risk of investment in innovation
  • help firms grow by support for new investment especially in regional areas
  • strengthen self-sufficiency and industrial diversity in Australia by assisting businesses build national sovereignty and decrease the risks in their supply chains
  • support regional developoment by enhancing private sector investment in industries of the future.

Labor would model the fund on entities such as the successful Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which was set up by the Labor government. It has invested billions to promote the transition to renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies.

Labor’s proposed fund would have an independent board.

Assistance it provided would need to return rates above the government borrowing rate.

The $15 billion capital provided would be off-budget.

Labor points out that according to the OECD Australia ranks last in manufacturing self-sufficiency among industrialised countries. It produces just over two thirds of what it uses.

The pandemic as well as the deepening Australia-China tensions have increased debate over the past year about the need for greater self-sufficiency especially in certain key areas, such as medical supplies. The pandemic led to supply chain problems which are still being experienced for some products.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.