View from The Hill: Peter Dutton – Labor’s not-so-secret weapon against Hunt and Sukkar



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Screenshot from Labor Party advertisement linking Peter Dutton to Liberal candidates.
Australian Labor Party, Author provided

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

While Peter Dutton is fighting for his political life in his marginal Brisbane seat of Dickson, he is being “weaponised” by Labor in its efforts to defeat two of his strongest Victorian supporters, Greg Hunt and Michael Sukkar, despite their relatively solid margins.

Last August, a clutch of Victorian Liberals including Hunt and Sukkar thought the government collectively, and in some cases they individually, would be better off with the rightwinger from Queensland as prime minister.

Greg Hunt aspired to be Dutton’s deputy. If he and Dutton had won their respective ballots Hunt, rather than Josh Frydenberg, would now be treasurer.

Instead, he remains health minister and is facing a tough contest in Flinders, made more difficult by crossbencher Julia Banks running there as an independent. Banks, the Liberal defector who formerly occupied Chisholm, was particularly angered by the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull and has made a feature of Hunt’s disloyalty.

Sukkar, the member for Deakin, a hard line conservative who was an assistant minister before the coup and a backbencher after it, did numbers for Dutton.

On Monday Labor launched a social media campaign weaponising Peter Dutton in the fight to unseat Hunt and Sukkar in Flinders and Deakin.



The targeting is based on internal tracking research showing Dutton is especially toxic in those two seats.

Quotes from the Labor focus groups included:

Even though I normally vote Liberal I’d love to see Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott stitched up

I am a Liberal voter but this time I can’t because of what Peter Dutton did to Malcolm Turnbull

In usual circumstances Deakin (on 6.4%) and Flinders (7%) should be safe. But after the November state rout of the Liberals – when the overthrow of Turnbull was a major factor and Dutton’s face had been on billboards – nothing is certain.

The Liberals think some of this anger has abated but the Victorian situation remains grim, with a number of seats at risk in a state John Howard has called the Massachusetts of Australia.

Labor has around ten seats on its “target” list for attention. While Dutton may be featured in other seats, there is less of a “hook” for him than in those of Hunt and Sukkar.

When Scott Morrison announced the election last Thursday, Bill Shorten delivered his speech later from a suburban home in Deakin.

On Monday Morrison was campaigning with Sukkar – who was anxious to leave most of the talking to the Prime Minister.

Asked how much Sukkar’s support for Dutton had contributed to the problems the government was facing in Deakin and Victoria, Morrison stonewalled: “That is such a bubble question, I’m just going to leave that one in the bubble”.

One of the Labor posters that will appear in the Victorian seats of Deakin and Flinders.

In the video Labor targets Dutton over a broad range of issues, including his support, as health minister under Tony Abbott, for a proposed $7 Medicare co-payment, which was later dumped.

His co-payment history is expected to get a wider outing in a campaign in which Labor is running heavily on health.

The video asks

How much will Peter Dutton and the Liberals stand up for Victoria? Let’s check. He tried to give a $17 billion tax cut to the banks, cut $14 billion from Australian public schools

It says

Peter Dutton was the health minister who tried to cut more than $50 billion from public hospitals and also tried to introduce the $7 GP tax. He made fun of climate change victims and voted against the banking royal commission 24 times.

And with the other right-wing Liberals he plotted to dump Malcolm Turnbull and voted to make himself prime minister, twice.Right-winger Peter Dutton for the top end of town and himself.“

There are also customised posters in Victoria featuring Dutton, especially for Deakin and Flinders.

Dutton has played into Labor’s hands in the early days of the campaign, with his remark last week attacking his opponent, amputee Ali France, for not moving into Dickson, accusing her of using her disability as an excuse.

“A lot of people have raised this with me. I think they are quite angry that Ms France is using her disability as an excuse for not moving into our electorate,” he said.

“Ali has been telling people that even if she won the election she won’t move into our electorate. She has now changed that position, but I don’t think it is credible.”




Read more:
View from The Hill: Dutton suffers reflux after tasty Chinese meal


Morrison initially defended Dutton, claiming he was taken out of context and was just reflecting what his constituents had said to him.

Subsequently Dutton apologised.
On Monday Morrison too had changed his tune. “Peter has made his apology appropriately. What I don’t want to see happen in this election campaign is, I don’t want to see people playing politics with disabilities. I have very strong personal views about this topic”.

Nationally, Peter Dutton will have a big footprint in the campaign. It won’t be a helpful one for Morrison.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

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



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Most Australians did not want Malcolm Turnbull to be deposed as prime minister.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

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

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




Read more:
Labor Seizes Double Digit Poll Lead


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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wentworth byelection in October

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

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

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

Hung Parliament Likely in Australian Federal Election


Greens and Independents to Hold Balance of Power in Both Houses

It would seem that the likely outcome of the 2010 federal election in Australia is that of a hung parliament, with government going to the party that gains the support of one or two possible Greens members of parliament in the lower house, and three other independent members of parliament in the lower house. It seems likely that the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate.

The Greens have now clearly become the third major political party behind the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party (Lib) – National Party (Nat) coalition. They have now gained a representative in the lower house with the seat of Melbourne in Victoria falling to Adam Bandt. It is possible that the seat of Grayndler in New South wales (NSW) could also fall to the Greens, with ALP member Anthony Albanese in a close fight with Sam Byrne of the Greens.

The three other certain independents, all former National Party members, are Bob Katter (Kennedy – Queensland, Tony Windsor (New England – NSW) and Rob Oakeshott (Lyne – NSW)

The ALP has also lost large numbers of seats in Queensland ( QLD – Flynn, Leichhardt, Forde, Bonner, Dickson, Herbert, Longman, Brisbane and Dawson) and seats in NSW (Bennelong, Macarthur, Macquarie and Gilmore), one in the Northern Territory (Solomon), one in Western Australia (Hasluck) and possibly one in Tasmania (Denison) to independent Andrew Wilkie. It would seem that a total of 18 or 19 seats have been lost by the ALP. They have gained two in Victoria, winning La Trobe and McEwan.

The ALP’s greatest hope would seem to be the seat of Boothby in South Australia, which still appears too close too call. At this stage Denison in Tasmania remains an ALP seat, but it also remains too close to call.

It seems to me that there will be 73 seats to the ALP (possibly 72 if Grayndler falls to the Greens in NSW), 73 seats to the Coalition, one seat to the Greens (possibly 2 if they pick up Grayndler in NSW – who would lean to the ALP) and 3 to the Independents (all formerly National Party members who would likely lean to the Coalition). If these predictions prove to be true, it would seem that the Coalition will be able to form a minority government with the support of the Independents.

After the promise of the ALP in the previous election and the result that occured, the ALP should have held office for at least two terms. However, the ALP has failed to deliver and instead gave Australia a very lazy, poor and mediocre government. Under Kevin Rudd the ALP successfully steered Australia through the financial crisis, for which Australians should be very thankful. However, there has also been poor management of ecomomic stimulus projects, environmental issues and other projects, which have left many Australians disillusioned with the government. This of course led to the downfall of Kevin Rudd prior to the election and the elevation of Julia Gillard to the Prime Ministership of the country. This was too little too late to save the ALP from electoral disaster and the Australian people have delivered swift punishment for their failure to deliver what we had hoped for under the Kevin Rudd led ALP government.

Perhaps the experience of a hung parliament and a minority government, from whichever side of politics, will result in someone or some party standing up with a real commitment to governance and leadership in Australia. At the moment there seems little of both and the Australian people are largely disillusioned with both major parties. The ALP should prepare itself for major defeats in state elections over the next couple of years, especially in New South Wales and Queensland, where voters are fed up with poor government – not that the alternatives are much better.