Biden remains strong favourite for US election; Queensland Labor set for increased majority


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Two days before Wednesday’s US election (AEDT), the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden an 8.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.0% to 43.4%). In the key states, Biden leads by 8.3% in Wisconsin, 8.2% in Michigan, 4.8% in Pennsylvania, 3.1% in Arizona and 2.2% in Florida.

Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is almost four points below his national lead, and that gives Trump hope of pulling off an Electoral College/popular vote split, as occurred at the 2016 election. Pennsylvania is the most likely “tipping-point” state that could put either Trump or Biden over the magic 270 Electoral Votes.

If Biden loses Pennsylvania, but wins Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he would have 269 Electoral Votes, one short of 270. Either Maine’s or Nebraska’s second Congressional District could in that scenario give Biden the narrowest of Electoral College wins. These states award one Electoral Vote to the winner of each of their districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states are winner-takes-all.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the tipping-point state (Wisconsin) by 0.8%, while winning the popular vote by 2.1% – a difference between the tipping-point and popular vote of 2.9%.

Analyst Nate Silver says while Trump can plausibly win, he would need the polls to be wrong by far more than in 2016. At this stage in 2016, the FiveThirtyEight forecast gave Trump a 35% chance; he currently has just a 10% chance. Trump only has a 3% chance to win the popular vote.

Trump had one very good poll result from a high-quality pollster: a Selzer Iowa poll gave him a seven-point lead in that state. But most high-quality polls have been far better for Biden: Siena polls for The New York Times gave Biden six-point leads in Arizona and Pennsylvania, a three-point lead in Florida and an 11-point lead in Wisconsin.

In FiveThirtyEight aggregates, Biden leads by 2.0% in North Carolina and 1.5% in Georgia. He trails by 0.3% in Ohio, 1.2% in Texas and 1.7% in Iowa. If Biden won all these states, he would win over 400 Electoral Votes. Florida is now in this group of states when it had previously been better for Biden.

Trump’s net job approval ratings have jumped three points since last week. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -8.5%, and -7.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, while Trump’s is -13.

I wrote for The Poll Bludger on October 22 that there are two key measures where Biden is doing far better than Clinton. First, Biden is over 50% in national polls, which Clinton never achieved. Second, he has a net positive favourability rating, whereas both Clinton and Trump were very unpopular in 2016.

The US election results will come through on Wednesday from 10am AEDT. You can read my wrap for The Poll Bludger of when polls close in the key states and results are expected. A key early results state is Florida; most polls close at 11am AEDT, but the very right-wing Panhandle closes an hour later.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 79% chance to win control. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats.

Labor set for increased Queensland majority

With 68% of enrolled voters counted at Saturday’s Queensland election, the ABC is calling Labor wins in 50 of the 93 seats. The LNP has won 30 seats, all Others seven, and six seats are in doubt. Labor won 48 seats at the 2017 election, so they have already improved on that.

Current statewide primary votes are 40.2% Labor (up 4.8% since 2017), 35.8% LNP (up 2.1%), 9.0% Greens (down 1.0%), 7.0% One Nation (down 6.8%), 2.6% Katter’s Australian Party (up 0.3%) and a paltry 0.6% for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

In Saturday night’s article, I wrote that the Greens could win four seats. They won Maiwar and South Brisbane, and appeared to have good chances in Cooper and McConnel. However, postal counting has pushed the Greens into third in both Cooper and McConnel, and they are now too far behind the LNP in both seats to realistically hope to overtake. Labor will win these seats on Greens preferences.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.

View from The Hill: Victoria’s pain reinforced Pałaszczuk’s winning message


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In an election victory driven by her management of COVID, the dire second wave in Victoria likely helped Annastacia Pałaszczuk. Defending her tough border policy and her message about keeping Queenslanders safe, she had a real life example to illustrate what happens when the virus gets away.

Her win reinforced the accepted wisdom that this crisis favours incumbents – provided people think they are doing the right thing.

The Queensland outcome might at one level be galling for the federal government – which has been sniping at Pałaszczuk’s border policy for months – but at another it is also reassuring for Scott Morrison, who has so far managed the pandemic response well.

That said, Morrison has a rockier road to navigate to his election. The federal poll is a year and a half away, and (assuming the virus now stays under control) the challenge for him is economic, which will be complicated as he juggles withdrawing the current massive fiscal support without any disaster.

While some details of the Queensland result are yet to be finalised, Pałaszczuk is set for an increased majority, with Labor securing a swing towards it. For a government seeking a third term, and one which had been – pre-COVID – under criticism for its performance, this is a remarkable achievement.

Despite some pre-election speculation, and the plight of the tourist industry, Labor’s seats in the north of the state did not collapse.

The difficulties of the Queensland economy and its high unemployment did not translate into electoral damage for the government.

And nearly a week’s campaigning by the prime minister produced not the slightest sign of a Morrison “miracle” for the Liberal National Party. On the other side, the absence of Anthony Albanese could have been a bonus for Labor.

The Pałaszczuk government was helped by its opposition, with recent fighting between the LNP organisation and the parliamentary party. On the main issue of this COVID election, LNP leader Deb Frecklington could only say she too would follow the health advice. She may not have not been believed, given the attacks on the closed border coming from the conservative side.

Apart from the result, the big story of Saturday was the collapse of the One Nation vote. What was left of that vote favoured Labor via preferences, probably reflecting older voters’ COVID fears.

Pauline Hanson was low profile during the election; whether she can gear up her party when the federal contest comes remains to be seen. It’s clear how “all about Pauline” is Pauline Hanson’s One Nation – if she’s not going flat out, there’s nothing much there.

Just as the Victorian wave played into Pałaszczuk’s story line, so did the federal pressure on the premier. The smaller (in population) states are parochial: Palaszczuk benefitted by being seen pushing back against the “open up” brigade.

The benefit was in net terms – she lost skin when some hardline decisions hurt interstate families who needed health care or who wanted to visit sick relatives or to attend funerals.

Apart from the warm glow of a fraternal success, the Queensland result doesn’t bring a lot that’s positive for federal Labor.

For it, the message about incumbency is not encouraging.

The ALP also knows Queenslanders are quite comfortable with federal and state governments being of different stripes. The voters can judge who’s who, and just because they trust Pałaszczuk Labor doesn’t mean they are more likely to embrace Albanese Labor.

Morrison goes down well in Queensland when he’s campaigning for his own government.

Federal Labor must work out its detailed positions on key policies – climate, energy and resources – and more effectively sell its leader, before its fortunes can improve in that state.

Both will be difficult. Attempts to paper over the internal differences on climate and energy won’t cut it, but forging genuine agreement is a struggle.

Albanese is up against it when the times are suiting Morrison.

Post Saturday’s result, the premier has indicated Queensland’s border ban on people from greater Sydney and Victoria won’t be reviewed for another month. That would still leave time for Christmas reunions, but it could be a tight-run thing.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday: “we’re now, I think, in a position where we would like to see New South Wales and Queensland be able as soon as possible to have free movement between the jurisdictions. And once everybody is comfortable that Victoria does have its contact tracing to gold standard levels, then I think we’ll see a single national bubble in due course.”

With Victoria on Sunday recording zero new cases and community transmission in Australia virtually stamped out, Australia is at this moment in an extraordinarily good place on the health front.

But with COVID rampaging again in Britain and many other countries, and the memory of the Victorian experience fresh, there can be no complacency.

Update: In an about-face, Frecklington says she won’t seek to stay leader

Deb Frecklington announced on Monday she will not seek to remain as LNP leader – after on Saturday night declaring firmly “I will continue as the leader”.

Her Saturday statement surprised observers, coming not only after a devastating loss but against the background of an automatic spill of leadership positions post-election, when she would have faced a challenge.

Asked what had changed her mind, she said probably her husband and daughters. While “my first instinct is always to fight on”, she’d had a great day with her family on Sunday and reflected on her future. “Family is really important to me,” she said.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.

‘Three-peat Palaszczuk’: why Queenslanders swung behind Labor in historic election



Darren England/AAP

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

Queensland’s state election was always going to deliver an outcome for the record books.

This was Australia’s first poll at state or federal level contested by two female leaders. It was also the first state general election conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic.




Read more:
Labor wins Queensland election, as Greens could win up to four seats


Counting continues after record numbers of pre-poll and postal votes, and a handful of seats remain in doubt. Regardless, the Labor government has been returned with what looks like an increased majority in a history-making third term for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

This shores up her political stocks in the continued battle with federal and state governments over border closures.

A tick of approval for Palaszczuk

The election campaign was run of the mill in many ways. It wasn’t so much dominated by the pandemic as framed by aspects of it, such as borders and plans for economic recovery.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk waving, claiming victory
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is back for a third term.
Darren England/AAP

But Queenslanders, by and large, appear to have given Palaszczuk’s government a tick of approval for its health and economic responses to coronavirus. Swings to the government were recorded in most parts of the state, with some surprising shifts towards Labor in areas like the Sunshine Coast.

The result reinforces the theory pandemic conditions favour incumbents and, similarly, the major parties. Western Australia’s Mark McGowan, who like Palaszczuk was a target of Coalition criticism over closed borders, will take heart ahead of a state election early next year.

However, this was not a straightforward repeat of recent election outcomes in the Northern Territory, ACT and New Zealand. Rather, this election panned out in ways particular to Queensland’s regional diversity, but still with ramifications for outside the state.

One Nation, Palmer barely register

The expected battleground over government-held marginal seats around Townsville and Cairns didn’t eventuate, with these seats holding firm against a concerted effort to get rid of Labor incumbents.

The LNP opposition’s pitch for a “crime crackdown” in the state’s north and plans for a youth curfew didn’t resonate, as at the last state election in 2017.




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The headline story of the election was a dramatic collapse in the One Nation vote. The party nominated an unprecedented 90 candidates, yet leader Pauline Hanson was barely sighted during the campaign. What messages did emerge from Hanson’s camp — largely criticisms of COVID-19 measures — didn’t wash with an electorate seeking leadership and protection through the crisis.

Notably, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party hardly registered, with about 0.6% of the popular vote. This follows another big spend on often misleading advertising. The electorate may have woken up to Palmer’s “spoiler” agenda, with his investment perhaps only resulting in a push for stricter truth in political advertising rules.

There are now realistic doubts over the ability of either Palmer or Hanson to recover electorally from these setbacks. For its efforts, One Nation did hold on to its sole seat in north Queensland. Katter’s Australian Party, likewise, retained its three northern seats.

Clive Palmer walks away from a press conference.
Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party failed to pick up a single seat.
Darren England/AAP

The single biggest upset result — although widely expected —– came in South Brisbane, where Labor’s former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad lost the seat she’s held since 2012. A rise in Greens support in inner-Brisbane suburbs, as seen in other capital cities, was long viewed as a threat to Trad’s grip on the former Labor stronghold.

This result shows there are subtexts to this election result, and it is not all about the pandemic. For 30 years, Labor has often won state elections on its ability to hold onto “fortress Brisbane”. However, the party can’t take that position for granted now.

Even with the LNP’s continuing inability to bridge the Brisbane bulkhead, Labor can’t rest on its laurels after this win. Inner-Brisbane electorates like Cooper and McConnel will be next targets for the Greens, whose support at this election was concentrated in the capital where they now hold two seats.

On track to beat Beattie

Palaszczuk is now the most successful female leader in Australian history, as the first to win three elections. If she serves the full four-year term, she’ll be Labor’s second-longest serving premier in this state, surpassing Peter Beattie. Labor by then will have governed Queensland for 30 of the past 35 years.




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Why this Queensland election is different — states are back at the forefront of political attention


This win cements the premier’s authority in her party, which is particularly important when it comes to relations between her administration and the federal government. Discussions over states border closures and other pandemic responses at the National Cabinet will be watched with renewed interest.

At the same time, the election result raises pressing questions for defeated Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and the LNP. After recent inner-party turmoil agitating against Frecklington’s leadership, it’s expected there will be jostling for new party leadership.

Queensland LNP leader Deb Frecklington.
Deb Frecklington has signalled she wants to stay on as LNP leader, but may not get that chance.
Glenn Hunt/AAP

As now seems ritual after state elections, calls are expected for the unsuccessful LNP to de-merge. The often uneasy marriage of Queensland’s Liberals and Nationals — apparently at risk of a lurch to the arch-conservative right — appears incapable of broadening its support in both the state’s capital and the far north simultaneously.

As the final results come in, they will continue to provide important lessons for both the federal Coalition, as well as federal Labor, in how best to appeal to Queensland’s varied constituency.The Conversation

Chris Salisbury, Research Assistant, School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland

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

Labor wins Queensland election, as Greens could win up to four seats



AAP/Darren England

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

With 48% of enrolled voters counted in Saturday’s Queensland election, the ABC is giving Labor 47 of the 93 seats (a bare majority), the LNP 33, all Others seven and six seats remain in doubt.

Statewide vote shares are currently 39.6% Labor (up 5.3% since the 2017 election), 35.2% LNP (up 1.2%), 9.7% Greens (up 0.1%), 7.8% One Nation (down 6.7%) and 2.3% Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) (down 0.1%). Other seats are three KAP, two Greens, one One Nation and one independent.

There are many more votes still to be counted from pre-polls and postal votes. It is clear the LNP has no viable path to a majority (47 seats). Labor is likely to win a small majority, as occurred in 2017. They have gained Pumicestone and Caloundra from the LNP, and all current doubtful LNP vs Labor contests are LNP-held.

The Greens have retained Maiwar and defeated Labor’s Jackie Trad in South Brisbane. They are third, just behind the LNP in Cooper, and in a close third in McConnel. The LNP recommended its voters preference against Labor in all seats. If the LNP finishes third in Cooper and McConnel, the Greens are likely to win on LNP preferences.

Labor had been behind in Queensland polls until early October, when a YouGov poll gave them a 52-48 lead. The swing back to Labor was likely attributable to the state’s handling of coronavirus, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recording strong personal ratings.

The final Newspoll gave Labor 37%, the LNP 36%, the Greens 11% and One Nation 10%. Currently, this is understating Labor’s advantage over the LNP, but Newspoll will be relieved it did not have a Queensland failure like at the 2019 federal election.

At federal level, state election victories tend to assist the opposite party. So the federal Coalition is likely to do a little better in Queensland at the next federal election than it would had the LNP won this election.

Ipsos state polls: NSW and Victoria

Ipsos last week conducted polls of NSW and Victoria for Nine newspapers, each with samples of about 860. The Victorian poll was taken before Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state would reopen on Monday. Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

In NSW, Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a 64-16 approval rating, while Opposition Leader Jodi McKay was at 25% disapprove, 22% approve. Berejiklian led McKay by 58-19 as better premier. Nationals leader John Barilaro was at 35% disapprove, 18% approve. Berejiklian’s personal relationship with Daryl Maguire has had no negative impact for her.

In Victoria, Andrews had a 52-33 approval rating, while Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien was at a dismal 39% disapprove, 15% approve. Andrews led as better premier by 53-18. By 49-40, voters were satisfied with the state government’s handling of coronavirus, but they were dissatisfied by 44-16 with the opposition. The chief health officer, Brett Sutton, had a 57-20 approval rating.

Greens won six of 25 seats at ACT election

At the October 17 ACT election, Labor won ten of the 25 seats (down two since the 2016 election), the Liberals nine (down two) and the Greens six (up four). Vote shares were 37.8% Labor (down 0.6%), 33.8% Liberal (down 2.9%) and 13.5% Greens (up 3.2%).

The ACT uses the Hare-Clark system with five five-member electorates. The Greens won two seats in Kurrajong after overtaking the Liberals’ primary vote lead, and one seat in each of the other electorates. Analyst Kevin Bonham has more details of how the Greens won 24% of the seats on 13.5% of the vote.

US election update

The US election results will come through next Wednesday from 10am AEDT. You can read my wrap of when polls close in the key states and results are expected for The Poll Bludger. A key early results state is Florida; most polls close at 11am AEDT, but the very right-wing Panhandle closes an hour later.

In the FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate, Joe Biden continues to lead Donald Trump by 8.8% (52.1% to 43.2%). Biden leads by 8.8% in Michigan, 8.6% in Wisconsin, 5.2% in Pennsylvania, 3.2% in Arizona and 2.2% in Florida.

The Pennsylvania figure gives Trump some hope. Pennsylvania is currently the “tipping-point” state that could potentially give either Trump or Biden the magic 270 Electoral Votes needed to win. It is currently almost four points better for Trump than the national polls.

Owing to the potential for a popular vote/Electoral College split, the FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 10% chance to win the Electoral College, but just a 3% chance to win the popular vote.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 politicians need not fear: Queenslanders are no more attached to coal than the rest of Australia



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Bruce Tranter, University of Tasmania and Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, Griffith University

It’s written into electoral folklore that Labor was wiped out at the 2019 federal election because Queensland didn’t like its position on coal. As the story goes, Labor’s lukewarm support for the Adani coal mine and its ambitious climate policies antagonised Queensland’s mining communities and cemented another Coalition term.

But our recent research casts doubt on this conventional wisdom. Our findings challenge claims that the issue of new coal mines in Queensland was largely to blame for Labor’s election loss.

We examined how support for coal mines was linked to voting at the last federal election. We found Queensland voters supported new coal mines, and this was definitely a factor in the federal election. But the influence of coal mines as an election issue in Queensland was similar to that in most other mainland states.

Queenslanders head to the polls tomorrow to decide the state election. Throughout the campaign, the Palaszczuk Labor government has vocally backed expansion of the resources industry – but our research suggests the issue will not necessarily decide the election result.

Annastacia Palaszczuk being heckled
Annastacia Palaszczuk has strongly backed the Queensland resources industry.
AAP/Darren England

A shock loss

After Labor lost the election in May 2019, many analysts and commentators – not to mention the party itself – were left scratching their heads. Labor had been thumped in what was billed as the climate change election, despite its policy on cutting greenhouse gas pollution being far more ambitious than the Coalition’s.

Labor had pledged to cut Australia’s emissions by 45% between 2005 and 2030. It wanted renewable energy to form half the electricity mix by 2030 and would have implemented an emissions trading-type scheme to limit pollution from industry.

During the campaign, Labor was accused of fence-sitting on the Adani coal mine. Leader Bill Shorten had stopped short of saying it shouldn’t proceed, instead insisting it should stack up environmentally and financially, and should not receive Commonwealth funding.

On election night, Labor received an electoral walloping in Queensland, and its messaging on coal and climate was widely blamed.




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New polling shows 79% of Aussies care about climate change. So why doesn’t the government listen?


Several commentators, and even Coalition MPs, said the government owed its re-election to a convoy of anti-Adani protesters, led by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which travelled through Queensland and purportedly alienated voters.

While the Coalition strongly supported the construction of new coal mines, Labor struggled to articulate its position – wedged between its blue-collar base in regional areas, and urban voters concerned about the environment.

After the election, Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon conceded Labor’s positioning on the Adani mine overlooked the importance of investment and jobs, and left coal miners worried.

But does the empirical evidence support the view that Labor lost Queensland – and the election – over the issue of coal?

Bill Shorten and wife Chloe Shorten
Bill Shorten’s election defeat was largely attributed to the Queensland coal issue.
David Crossling/AAP

Our surprise findings

To answer this questions, we examined data from a 2019 national survey, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). The data indicated 46% of Australians supported the construction of new coal mines, and 52% were against.

On average, people who favoured new coal mines tended to be Coalition supporters, less likely to have a tertiary education, more likely to be men than women and were older than average. In contrast, those who accept that human-driven climate change is occurring tend to be tertiary-educated Greens or Labor supporters. They are more likely to be women than men and are younger than average.

Support for new coal mines declined as interest in politics increased in NSW and Victoria. Yet in Queensland and (to a lesser extent) Western Australia, the pattern was very different. In these so-called “mining states”, support for new coal mines increased with political interest.




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Why this Queensland election is different — states are back at the forefront of political attention


What’s more, as interest in politics increased among Labor identifiers, support for new coal mines decreased. However as political interest increased among Coalition identifiers, support for new mines increased.

These results suggest coal mines influenced voting behaviour in regional and remote areas of Queensland in the 2019 election.

However, our research also suggests the issue was no greater a factor for voters in Queensland than in other states. Those who supported new mines were more likely to vote for the Coalition than for Labor. But the association between new coal mines and voting was not stronger in Queensland than in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia.

Coal mine
Queenslanders support for new coal mines is not greater than anywhere else in Australia.
AAP/Dave Hunt

Labor should not abandon climate ambitions

Just days after federal Labor’s 2019 electoral rout in Queensland, Palaszczuk swung into action. Obviously fearing for the electoral prospects of her own government, she ordered state officials to give a “definitive timeframe” on approvals for the Adani mine within days.

The Queensland state election campaign has been dominated by the issues of economic recovery, job creation and infrastructure. Early in the campaign, the Palaszczuk government signed off on a new metallurgical coal mine in the Bowen Basin, further affirming its support for Queensland’s resources industry. Climate action, and the need to move away from coal, has been mentioned in the campaign, but it’s not at the fore.

Federal Labor is still struggling to regroup after its election loss. It has not revealed the emissions reduction targets it will take to the next federal election, and reportedly this month resolved to support the Morrison government in developing new gas reserves.

But at both a state and federal level, Labor should not hasten to back fossil fuels, nor should it abandon an ambitious climate policy agenda. The issue of new coal mines may not be a huge election decider in Queensland after all.




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The Conversation


Bruce Tranter, Professor of Sociology, University of Tasmania and Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University

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

Why this Queensland election is different — states are back at the forefront of political attention



Glenn Hunt/AAP

Graeme Orr, The University of Queensland

On October 31, Queensland will become Australia’s first state to go to the polls during the pandemic.

Normally, state elections pass amiably. They matter to the MPs, ministers and senior public servants concerned. But aside from what the tea leaves might imply for national electoral politics, they cast few ripples.

This year is different. State governments matter now, in ways they have not for decades.

Expect a Labor victory

This does not mean the Queensland election will produce any shocks. On the contrary. The pandemic has been good for incumbents.

Leaders, Australia-wide, are enjoying high approval ratings during the pandemic. During the tumult of the first wave, a Liberal National Brisbane City Council was returned with not a single ward changing hands.

In the past two months, Labor governments have been re-elected in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory.




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The Palaszczuk government will, I bet, be similarly returned. Whether it deserves to, after five quiet years and given a challenging economic climate, is another matter. But it has one trump card: north of the Tweed, barely one person in a million has died of COVID-19.

This puts Queensland in a select group of democratic jurisdictions of any significant size. Only Taiwan and East Timor have done better on that metric, and they are more communal and less individualistic than Queenslanders.

There has been a fundamental shift

Why then is 2020 different? In all the focus on statistics — health, economic and electoral — we’ve paid little attention to a fundamental shift. State governments, long relegated to second or third order by our escalating focus on international and national politics, have soared back to prominence.

Alex Ellinghausen (Pool)/AAP
States have important powers and have had to use them during the pandemic.

This reminds us that we live within a federal system of government, and this affects our daily lives. Not just in the lofty and indirect sense — how the Commonwealth carves up GST amongst the states, for example — but in an everyday sense.

The cause of all this should be obvious. States have what constitutional lawyers call the “policing power”. Not only can they police individuals under criminal law, they can also make movement and gathering orders.




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Have our governments become too powerful during COVID-19?


States also have the power to license (or limit) businesses and other organised activities. In the pandemic, those powers have been front and centre of the public health response.

Previously, we had come to see state borders as fusty lines from colonial times. Yet right now, the sorest issue in Australian politics involves those lines being taken seriously.

The High Court, at the behest of Clive Palmer, may yet unwind such controls. But it will be years before we return to conceiving of state borders as merely lines on a map.

More than just service providers

Pre-COVID, states had come to be seen as mere service providers, akin to local government in the UK with their local health boards and educational authorities.

Constitutional lawyers have a term for this — “vertical fiscal imbalance”. The federal government collects about 80% of tax revenue, so it can play puppeteer, in everything from education to roads.




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It is not that money is unimportant in the pandemic. Indeed, money has reinforced the Commonwealth government’s focus on macroeconomics and social security during COVID-19. Meanwhile, its other great leitmotif is national security.

So, we came to see the states as service deliverers and the federal government as holding the purse strings and looking after defence. This is even reflected in a more “blokey” politics at national level and a more nurturing one at state level, where female leaders are much more common.

Since a post-industrial Labor Party emerged 40 years ago, Labor has held office almost 60% of the time at state and territory level. Whereas the conservative Coalition has held office 56% of the time at national level.

Premiers Mark McGowan, Daniel Andrews and Steven Marshall hold a press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison
States have traditionally been viewed as the service deliverers, with the federal government holding most of the money.
Mark McCormack/AAP

However, the “social-democratic states”/“conservative nation” contrast can be taken too far. Palaszczuk has positioned herself as a resolute Border Queen. This invokes the ghosts of parochial predecessors, like Peter Beattie and Joh Bjelke-Petersen, as much as it appeals to the trope of the mother figure, worrying about her constituents’ health.

The states are back

In short, the states are back at the forefront. While this may wane as we transcend the pandemic, it will also recur as other natural disasters become more common, thanks to global warming.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
States and their leaders have taken centre stage during COVID-19.
Mark McCormack/AAP

Alongside the rebound in the role of the states, national attention has also fallen on the style of leadership that is more common at state level.

Palaszczuk, like her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, is ideologically centrist but presents a velvet glove over an iron fist.

That style may yet infuse national politics. That will depend on whether a communal spirit, of pulling together, survives from the pandemic to counterbalance interest group warfare.

Meanwhile, Queensland is about to decide whether to endorse Palaszczuk’s leadership, or embrace a different one.




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Remember Quexit? 5 reasons you should not take your eyes off the Queensland election


The Conversation


Graeme Orr, Professor of Law, The University of Queensland

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

Labo(u)r easily wins in both New Zealand and the ACT, and leads in Queensland



AAP/David Rowland

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

At Saturday’s New Zealand election, Labour won 64 of the 120 seats (up 18 since the 2017 election). This means a Labour eight-seat majority. The opposition National won 35 seats (down 21), the right-wing ACT ten (up nine), the Greens ten (up two) and the Māori party one (up one).

Vote shares were 49.1% Labour (up 12.2%), 26.8% National (down 17.6%), 8.0% ACT (up 7.5%), 7.6% Greens (up 1.3%) and 1.0% Māori (down 0.2%).

Under New Zealand’s system, parties are entitled to a proportional allocation of seats if they either win at least 5% of the overall vote, or win a single-member seat. The Māori party entered parliament by winning one of the seven single-member seats reserved for those on the Māori roll. The Greens and ACT also won single-member seats.

Since the 2017 election, Labour has governed in coalition with the Greens and the populist NZ First. NZ First will not be returned to parliament, as their vote slumped to 2.7% (down 4.5%), and they failed to win a single-member seat.

This will be the first single-party New Zealand majority government since the adoption of proportional representation in 1996.

In February, two polls had National ahead of Labour. But Labour recorded massive poll leads in May owing to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s handling of coronavirus. Labour’s lead narrowed somewhat as the election approached, but final polls understated Labour’s lead; they won by 22 points, not the 15 in final polls.

Greens could win six of 25 ACT seats

With 78% of enrolled voters counted at Saturday’s ACT election, vote shares were 38.4% Labor (down 0.1% since 2016), 33.1% Liberals (down 3.6%) and 13.9% Greens (up 3.6%).

The ACT uses five five-member electorates, with candidates elected using the Hare-Clark system. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. Preference distribution sheets have been released based on votes cast electronically. Paper ballots will be manually entered.

In Brindabella, Labor has 2.5 quotas, the Liberals 2.3 and the Greens 0.7. The Poll Bludger’s analysis of preferences has it very close between Labor and the Greens for the final seat.

In Ginninderra, Labor has 2.4 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 0.8. Labor leads the Liberals for the final seat, but it could be overturned on late counting.

In Kurrajong, Labor has 2.3 quotas, the Liberals 1.6 and the Greens 1.4. Preferences from Labor and minor parties give the Greens a solid lead over the Liberals in the race for the final seat. So Kurrajong is likely to split two Labor, two Greens and just one Liberal.

In Murrumbidgee, Labor has 2.2 quotas, the Liberals 2.1 and the Greens 0.7. This is a clear two Labor, two Liberals, one Green result.

In Yerrabi, the Liberals have 2.4 quotas, Labor 2.1 and the Greens 0.6. This will be two Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

In summary, Labor is likely to win ten of the 25 seats, the Liberals eight and the Greens five, with two in doubt, one Labor vs Greens and one Labor vs Liberal. In 2016, the result was 12 Labor, 11 Liberals, two Greens. The current Labor/Green coalition has easily retained power.

Queensland Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A Newspoll, conducted October 9-14 from a sample of 1,001, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a three-point gain for Labor since a late July Newspoll. Labor’s lead is the same as in a YouGov poll that I covered in early October. YouGov conducts Newspoll, so it is effectively the same pollster.

Primary votes were virtually identical to that YouGov poll, at 37% Labor, 37% LNP, 11% Greens and 9% One Nation; the only difference a one-point drop for the Greens.

63% were satisfied with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance and 33% were dissatisfied, for a net approval of +30. These figures are identical to a September Newspoll of the Victorian and Queensland premiers’ ratings.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a net approval of -7, up one point since the late July Newspoll. Palaszczuk led Frecklington as better premier by 57-32 (57-26 in July).

More state polls: NSW and Victoria

Channel 10 commissioned a uComms NSW poll after revelations of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s affair with former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire. 63% said Berejiklian should not resign, and just 28% thought she should go.

The only information provided on voting intentions was that the Coalition led Labor by 38-30. William Bowe says that uComms includes undecided in the initial table, and that this implies little change from the 2019 election result.

A YouGov poll for The Sunday Telegraph gave Berejiklian a 68-26 approval rating. By 49-36, voters did not think she had done anything wrong. By 60-29, they wanted her to stay as premier.

A Victorian SMS Morgan poll, conducted October 12-13 from a sample of 899, gave Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead, unchanged since late September. Primary votes were 40% Labor (up one), 40% Coalition (up 0.5) and 9% Greens (down one). Premier Daniel Andrews had a 59-41 approval rating (61-39 previously).

Trump still down by double digits nationally

The FiveThirtyEight national polls aggregate currently gives Joe Biden a 10.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.4% to 41.8%). It’s somewhat closer in the key states with Biden leading by 7.9% in Michigan, 7.8% in Wisconsin, 6.8% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania has returned to being the “tipping-point” state, and is currently polling 3.8% better for Trump than nationally. But Trump needs to get within five points to make the Electoral College competitive.

There appears to be a new surge of coronavirus in the US: over 70,000 new cases were recorded Friday, the highest since late July. Trump is perceived to have handled coronavirus poorly, so the more it is in the headlines, the worse it will probably get for him.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.

Biden increases lead after debate and Trump’s coronavirus; Labor gains Queensland lead



AAP/Ap/Julio Cortez

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

With four weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of US national polls gives Joe Biden a 9.0% lead over Donald Trump (51.4% to 42.4%). Biden’s lead has increased 1.4% since an October 1 article I wrote for The Poll Bludger.

In the key states, Biden leads by 7.5% in Michigan, 7.0% in Wisconsin, 6.6% in Pennsylvania, 4.3% in Arizona and 3.4% in Florida. If Biden wins the states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the election with at least 278 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

Pennsylvania is still the “tipping-point” state that could potentially put either Trump or Biden over the 270 EVs required to win. But it is polling closer to Wisconsin and Michigan than in the recent past. The current difference between Pennsylvania and the national vote is 2.4% in favour of Trump.

There are five states where Biden is either just ahead or just behind: North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. If Biden won all of them, he would win a blowout victory with over 400 EVs.

In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, Trump still has a 17% chance to win, though only an 8% chance to win the popular vote. Trump’s chances have declined 4% since last week. Still, a 17% chance is the probability of rolling a six on a six-sided die.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in theFiveThirtyEight aggregateare 43.4% approve, 53.0% disapprove (net -9.6%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.7% approve, 53.0% disapprove (net -9.3%). His net approval has declined about one point since last week.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 70% chance to win, up 2% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 55 seats after the election.

Trump’s coronavirus

Perhaps there would have been some public sympathy for Trump had his coronavirus appeared to be bad luck. But it is likely Trump and other prominent Republicans’ coronavirus infections occurred at a September 26 event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

The footage shows people sitting close together, without face masks. This created an impression of reckless conduct by Trump and other Republicans in ignoring medical advice.

In a CNN poll taken after Trump’s coronavirus, 60% disapproved and 37% approved of Trump’s handling of coronavirus; his -23 net approval is a record low on that issue. 63% thought Trump had acted irresponsibly and just 33% thought he had been responsible.

An additional problem for Trump is that coronavirus is back in the headlines. As Trump is perceived to have been poor on this issue, that helps Biden. New US daily cases have plateaued between 30,000 and 50,000.

Biden wins first presidential debate

The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump occurred on September 29. A CBS News post-debate scientific poll gave Biden a narrow 48-41 victory, while a CNN poll gave him a far more emphatic 60-28 win. Trump needed a clear win to change the current polling. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15 and 22, and a vice presidential debate Thursday AEDT.

The major headlines from the debate were that it was a shouting match, and Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists. I have said before that the US economy’s fast recovery from the April coronavirus lows is Trump’s best asset for re-election, but he did nothing during the debate to tell a positive story about the economy.

Concerning the Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg’s replacement, a Morning Consult poll found a record 62% supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while 24% were opposed. In March, this was 55-29 support. There is clear danger for Trump and Republicans in appointing a judge who may overturn Obamacare.

US employment growth slows

The September US jobs report was the last before the November 3 election. 661,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate dropped 0.5% to 7.9%. This was the first month with fewer than a million jobs added since the April nadir.

The unemployment rate has almost halved from April’s 14.7%. But the gain in September was mainly attributable to a 0.3% slide in the participation rate, to 61.4%. The employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Americans who are employed – increased just 0.1% to 56.6%. It is 1.6% below where it was at the lowest point of the recovery from the global financial crisis (58.2%).

Trump may have undermined his relative advantage on the economy, compared to other issues, by withdrawing from negotiations with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a new stimulus bill. An article by analyst Nate Silver says stimulus spending was very popular: in a September Siena poll for The New York Times, voters supported a $US 2 trillion stimulus by a 72-23 margin.

Queensland YouGov: 52-48 to Labor

The Queensland election will be held on October 31. A YouGov poll, conducted September 24 to October 1 from a sample of 2,000, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a four-point gain for Labor since the last such poll in June. A Queensland Newspoll, which is conducted by YouGov, gave the LNP a 51-49 lead in late July.

Primary votes were 37% Labor (up five since the June YouGov), 37% LNP (down one), 12% Greens (steady) and 9% One Nation (down three). Figures are from The Poll Bludger.

The overall shift in this poll is a 1% swing to Labor since the 2017 election. Regional breakdowns gave Labor a 57-43 lead in Brisbane (1% swing to the LNP), the LNP a 54-46 lead on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (3% swing to Labor) and the LNP a 53-47 lead in regional Queensland (1% swing to the LNP).

57% (up eight) approved of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance and 27% (down six) disapproved, for a net approval of +30, up 14 points. Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had a net approval of -3, up six points. Palaszczuk led as better premier by 48-22 (44-23 in June).

The movement to Labor is likely a result of Queensland’s handling of coronavirus. But polls greatly overstated Labor’s Queensland performance at the 2019 federal election, although they were accurate at the 2017 Queensland state election.

New Zealand: latest poll has Labour short of majority

Last week’s Colmar Brunton New Zealand poll had Labour on 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and the Greens 7%. If repeated at the October 17 election, Labour would win 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. You can read more at my personal website.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.

Queensland’s unpredictable election begins. Expect a close campaign focused on 3 questions


Paul Williams, Griffith University

The Queensland election campaign officially begins this week, with the government entering caretaker mode on Tuesday, and the election set for October 31.

But the crystal ball for this election, which will see a number of significant firsts, is frustratingly cloudy.

Palaszczuk vs Frecklington

This is the state’s first election for a four-year fixed term of parliament since 1893. It’s also the first occasion at which the leaders of the two major parties — Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Liberal-National Party’s (LNP) Deb Frecklington — are women.

People voting at polling booths in school hall.
Queenslanders will be voting in a government for four years.
Albert Perez/AAP

Meanwhile, apart from August’s Northern Territory election, Queensland’s poll will be the first major electoral test of any Australian jurisdiction since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of this makes the election extremely difficult to forecast, especially given the marked difference in how voters rate the parties, as opposed to their leaders.

That’s before you throw in the pull of four significant minor parties and their unpredictable preference flows.

A change of government is possible

Even so, we might say Labor is Queensland’s “natural” party of government, given it has held office for 26 of the past 31 years, and for 70 of the past 105 years (since the birth of the modern party system).

This stands in sharp contrast to Queenslanders’ predilection to back conservative parties at federal elections. In 2019, for example, the state swung toward the Morrison-led Coalition at a rate about four times the Australian average.




Read more:
Queensland to all those #Quexiteers: don’t judge, try to understand us


Heading into the election, Labor holds a razor-thin buffer, with just 48 seats in the 93-seat parliament. A tiny after-preference swing of 0.7% would see Labor lose two seats and its majority.

The LNP, currently on 38 seats, must win nine additional seats, via a 3.4% swing to form majority government.

Ironically, that’s virtually identical to the 3.5% swing against the NT Labor government last month.

In June, a YouGov poll had the LNP in front of Labor, 52% to 48%, two-party preferred. In July, Newspoll had the LNP ahead, 51% to 49%.

The implications are clear: victory for the LNP is eminently possible.

A hung parliament is also on the cards

With polls putting Labor’s primary vote as low as 32%, preferences will be crucial and minor parties will once again play a significant role.

Because of recently introduced election spending caps, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is expected to walk away empty-handed. This comes after Palmer donated almost $84 million to his own campaign during the 2019 federal election.

But with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation likely to maintain its lone seat, Katter’s Australian Party its three, and the Greens almost certain to double their representation to two, a hung parliament – a repeat of the 2015-17 term – is also a real possibility.

Referendum on three questions

For these reasons and more, the political eyes of Australia will be on Queensland on October 31. And it will invariably be a referendum on three questions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Annastacia Palaszczuk has been premier since 2015.
Darren England/AAP

The first is whom Queenslanders trust more as their premier for the next four years.

In late July, Newspoll found 81% of those surveyed approved of Palaszczuk’s handling of the pandemic, with 57% preferring her as premier. Just 26% preferred Frecklington.

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington.
Deb Frecklington took over as opposition leader in December 2017.
Dan Peled/AAP

But a late September, Newspoll saw a marked dip in Palaszczuk’s ratings, with 69% of respondents saying the premier was performing well over coronavirus.

Health vs economy

A second question is which public policy frame — public health or economic buoyancy — do Queenslanders rate more highly? This comes down to simple arithmetic.




Read more:
Did someone say ‘election’?: how politics met pandemic to create ‘fortress Queensland’


If those angry at hard border closures and damaged hospitality, tourism and other small businesses outweigh those grateful for a government that has overseen just 1,160 coronavirus cases and six deaths, then Palaszczuk has a problem.

But with border and pub relaxations introduced last week, even that anger might be quelled by election day.

COVID recovery

If not, these concerns would be compounded by a third question: which party do Queenslanders trust more to navigate the state out of the COVID-19 economic quagmire?

Hand sanitisers on a table at a polling booth.
Queensland will be voting in the middle of a pandemic.
Albert Perez/AAP

Labor has reason to feel secure here, despite state debt nearing $100 billion and an unemployment rate above the national average. In June, a YouGov poll found Labor enjoyed an 11 point lead on the question of preferred economic managers. That figure alone has panicked LNP strategists.

But since then, the LNP has come out with economic guns blazing. It has re-embraced the 1930s Bradfield Scheme — a largely debunked populist dream to divert northern rivers westward. More pragmatically, the LNP also launched a $33 billion plan to upgrade the entire Bruce Highway from Gympie to Cairns.

Given more than half the state’s seats are outside Greater Brisbane, this policy pays the sort of regional homage that wins elections in Queensland.

The Prime Minister will be watching

Beyond Queensland, who will be watching the Queensland poll most closely?

Morrison found his way back to government last year via regional Queensland, which is now torn between border closures and economic survival. He will certainly be keeping a close eye on the contest, even if it is impossible to visit in person.

There are just four weeks to go.The Conversation

Paul Williams, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Griffith University

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

View from The Hill: COVID response helped NT Labor, encouraging Palaszczuk and McGowan to stick to their scripts


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Both those pressing for states to re-open borders, and defenders of their resistance to doing so, will look for arguments to support their cases in Saturday’s Northern Territory election results.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has taken a tough line on the NT border. With the NT COVID-free, people can’t go to the territory from COVID “hotspots” without quarantining at their own expense.

Labor’s loss of seats – while retaining government whether in majority or minority – is seen by the “open borders” urgers as carrying lessons about putting all (or most) eggs in a keep-safe basket.

It’s accepted that if he hadn’t had COVID to run on, Gunner would have been much worse off, given the NT’s pre-COVID economic problems.

But if he had taken a softer approach to the border, and there’d been a major COVID outbreak, he would have worn serious blame. With indigenous people – who, like the elderly, form a high risk group for COVID – forming about 30% of the NT community, a big outbreak could have been catastrophic.

And while the NT economy remains in poor shape, especially the tourist sector, the state is open internally (they were all hugging at those party functions on Saturday night).

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan are unlikely to see the NT result as sending a signal their border policies will be a political handicap.

That doesn’t mean Palaszczuk and McGowan can afford to rely on their performances on COVID alone when they go to the polls in October and early next year respectively. Their voters will expect more. But as things stand, restrictive border policies are popular and the NT hasn’t said otherwise.

Scott Morrison’s relative powerlessness on the border issue was illustrated at Friday’s national cabinet.

Progress is being made on specific problems, such as the needs of agriculture in border areas, and health matters.

But on the basic question of opening or closing, the premiers remained firm. Only NSW is Morrison’s ally in this battle.

While commentators see the war over borders as a sign of the federation’s dysfunction, voters in particular states read it differently.

Morrison announced at his Friday news conference national cabinet had asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), including state and federal health advisers, to define a “hotspot” and consider movement restrictions relating to these spots.

He hopes such a definition would put pressure on premiers and chief ministers to limit border closures.

It is apparently trodden and tricky territory. Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told the news conference: “It is a piece of work we have had an attempt at before. And we’ll continue to try to get consensus there in AHPPC about a definition of a hotspot.”

It remains to be seen whether this committee can agree. And if it does, whether that would make any difference to what leaders do.

But when parliament resumes on Monday, it won’t be borders that will be the front of mind issue – it will be aged care.

With a majority of COVID deaths being people who lived in aged care facilities, and an absolute shocker of a performance from Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck on Friday, the opposition has a lot of ammunition.

Colbeck, appearing before the Senate COVID committee, was asked two simple questions. How many deaths had there been of residents of facilities, and how many COVID cases were there among residents at present. He could neither remember, nor find the numbers immediately. This was appalling preparation.

Forced to defend Colbeck, Morrison said, “on occasion, I can’t call every figure to mind”.

But the PM knew such a lapse has an impact beyond its strictly objective importance.

An example from long ago makes the point. Late in the Hawke government, then treasurer John Kerin at a news conference was unable to explain an economic term. It was hardly a hanging offence. But it damaged Kerin, and the government.

With the Colbeck clip shown over and over, it quickly becomes a symbol of both the minister’s failure, and the failure of the government to do enough to protect aged care residents.

The odds are short that Morrison will move Colbeck from aged care when he reshuffles his ministry following the departure of Mathias Cormann late this year.

But Colbeck is only one player in the aged care crisis, and not the most important. He’s the junior minister in the health portfolio. The Health Minister Greg Hunt, the prime minister, the government regulator of the industry (the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission), and advisers to government share responsibility. And it is important we don’t forget the private providers: did some of them not heed warnings?

Ultimate political responsibility belongs to the federal government.

Faced with questions about the Victorian aged care disaster, Morrison has tried to unload some of the blame onto the state government by saying the states have responsibility for public health.

That’s true and the Victorian government must be accountable, both for unleashing community transmission with the quarantine breach and for inadequacies in its health reaction. But the fact the federal government is responsible for the sector means Morrison, Colbeck and Hunt need to both admit the Commonwealth’s mistakes and also lay out a convincing roadmap for the future.

Some actions are being undertaken, and there is the complication that the report of the royal commission into aged care is still months away. But the issue is urgent.

The Morrison government is always reluctant to be seen to be pushed, and Friday’s national cabinet provided an interesting insight into this.

When the royal commission less than a fortnight ago suggested, based on evidence from Monash University geriatrician Joseph Ibrahim, that the government should set up an advisory unit including people with expertise in aged care, infection control and emergency responses, Morrison was publicity dismissive.

But the statement from Friday’s national cabinet said: “A time-limited AHPPC Aged Care Advisory Group will be established to support the national public health emergency response to COVID-19 in aged care. The Advisory Group will bring together expertise about the aged care sector, infection control, emergency preparedness and public health response.”

Take a bow, Professor Ibrahim and the royal commission.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.