Morrison remains very popular in Newspoll as the Coalition easily retains Groom in byelection



James Ross/AAP

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll will presumably be the final one for 2020. It gives the Coalition a 51-49% two-party-preferred lead, unchanged from three weeks ago. Primary votes were 43% Coalition (steady), 36% Labor (up one), 11% Greens (steady) and 2% One Nation (down one).

This is One Nation’s worst result in a federal Newspoll since before the 2019 federal election. It comes after the party slumped by 6.6 percentage points at the recent Queensland state election.

Newspoll figures are from The Poll Bludger. This poll was conducted November 25-28 from a sample of 1,511 people.

Two-thirds of respondents said they were satisfied with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s performance (up two points) and 30% were dissatisfied (down two), for a net approval of +36. Morrison’s approval rating has consistently been over 60% since April, following the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese recorded a net approval of +3, down one point. Morrison led as better PM by 60-28% (58-29% previously).




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Coronavirus may be the only important issue for many voters at the moment, and Morrison is perceived to have handled that well. In normal times, issues less favourable to the Coalition would likely have gained traction, undermining Morrison’s ratings, but these times are not normal.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has enjoyed a similar polling boost in her state as well, due to her handling of the pandemic.

In a NSW YouGov poll taken after revelations of her affair with former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, she still had a 68-26% approval rating.

LNP easily retains Groom at federal byelection

There was very little media attention on Saturday’s byelection for the safe Coalition seat of Groom in Queensland.

Only four candidates ran, representing the Coalition, Labor, Sustainable Australia and the Liberal Democrats.

The LNP won by 66.6-33.4%, a 3.9% swing to Labor since the 2019 federal election.




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Final 2019 election results: education divide explains the Coalition’s upset victory


Primary votes were 59.0% for the LNP (up 5.6%), 27.8% for Labor (up 9.1%), 8.0% for Sustainable Australia and 5.3% for the Liberal Democrats. The major parties benefited from the absence of One Nation and the Greens, which respectively won 13.1% and 8.0% in 2019.

Analyst Kevin Bonham says the average swing against a government at byelections in its own seats is 6%, so this is not a great result for Labor.

Furthermore, there was a 5.2% swing to the Coalition in Groom in the 2019 election, as it romped to a 58.4-41.6% drubbing of Labor in Queensland.

If federal Labor had recovered support in Queensland since then, a much bigger swing would have been expected.

While Labor easily won the recent Queensland state election, state and federal voting can be very different.

Biden’s popular vote lead stretches

In the Cook Political Report tracker of the national popular vote in the US presidential election, President-elect Joe Biden leads incumbent Donald Trump by 51.1-47.1%.

Biden’s four-point lead is up from 3.1 percentage points on November 8 when the states of Pennsylvania and Nevada were called for him, making him the presumptive winner. Many mail votes are still be counted in New York, which will heavily favour Biden as well.

Biden came out on top in the Electoral College vote count, 306-232.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Biden’s popular vote margin now exceeds Barack Obama’s margin of 3.9 percentage points in 2012. But Obama won the “tipping-point” state that put him over the magic 270 electoral college votes by 5.4 points, while Biden won his tipping-point state (Wisconsin) by just 0.6 percentage points.

Trump performed 3.4 percentage points better in the tipping-point state in 2020 than in the national popular vote and this difference will increase further as more New York votes are counted. In the 2016 election, the difference was 2.9 points.




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In the House of Representatives, the Democrats lead the Republicans 222-206 in seats, with seven races uncalled.

Republicans lead in all seven of these uncalled races. If they hold their leads, Democrats will win the House by just 222-213. That’s a net gain of 13 seats for Republicans from the 2018 midterm election.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.

Daniel Andrews plans pilot for casual workers’ sick pay but Morrison government critical



Lukas Coch/AAP

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Victorian government plans a pilot scheme for up to five days sick and carer’s pay, at the national minimum wage, for casuals or insecure workers in priority industries.

Even though the initiative is at a very early stage, with $5 million in Tuesday’s state budget for consultation on the pilot’s design, the federal government immediately attacked the move.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said it “raises a number of major issues”.

Once underway, the pilot would run two years in selected sectors with high casualisation. It could include cleaners, hospitality staff, security guards, supermarket workers and aged care workers.

“The pilot will roll out in two phases over two years with the occupations eligible for each phase to be finalised after a consultation process that will include workers, industry and unions,” a statement from Premier Daniel Andrews’ office said.

Casual and insecure workers in eligible sectors would be invited to pre-register for the scheme.

While the pilot would be government-funded, any future full scheme would involve a levy on business.

Andrews said: “When people have nothing to fall back on, they make a choice between the safety of their workmates and feeding their family.

“This isn’t going to solve the problem of insecure work overnight but someone has to put their hand up and say we’re going to take this out of the too hard basket and do something about it.”

But Porter said a fully-running scheme would put “a massive tax on Victorian businesses”, which would be paying both the extra loading casuals receive and the levy.

“After Victorian businesses have been through their hardest year in the last century, why on earth would you be starting a policy that promises to finish with another big tax on business at precisely the time they can least afford any more economic hits?”

Porter said it would be better to strengthen the ability of workers to choose to move from casual to permanent full or part-time employment if they wished.

He said this was what had been discussed in the recent federally-run industrial relations working group process involving government and employee and employer representatives.

“It must surely be a better approach to let people have greater choice between casual and permanent employment than forcing businesses to pay a tax so that someone can be both a casual employee and get more wages as compensation for not getting sick leave – but then also tax the business to pay for getting sick leave as well.”

Porter claimed the Victorian approach would be “a business and employment-killing” one.

In the pandemic the federal government has made available a special payment for workers who test COVID-positive or are forced to isolate and don’t have access to paid leave. The Victorian government has provided a payment for those waiting for the result of a COVID test.

The Morrison government will introduce an omnibus industrial relations reform bill before the end of the parliamentary ar, following its consultation process.

A central objective will be to streamline enterprise bargaining. Scott Morrison told the Business Council of Australia last week: “Agreement making is becoming bogged down in detailed, overly prescriptive procedural requirements that make the process just too difficult to undertake”.

He said various issues needed addressing. “The test for approval of agreements should focus on substance rather than technicalities. Agreements should be assessed on actual foreseeable circumstances, not far fetched hypotheticals.” Assessments by the Fair Work Commission should happen within set time frames where there was agreement from the parties.

Morrison said key protections such as the better off overall test would continue but “our goal is to ensure it will be applied in a practical and sensible way so that the approval process does not discourage bargaining, which is what is happening now”.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.

Biden’s Electoral College win was narrow in the tipping-point state; Labor surges in Victoria



AAP/AP/Carolyn Kaster

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

With all states called by US media, Joe Biden won the Electoral College by 306 votes to 232 over Donald Trump, an exact reversal of Trump’s triumph in 2016, ignoring faithless electors. Biden gained the Trump 2016 states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia; he also gained Nebraska’s second district.

While Biden’s win appears decisive, he won three states – Wisconsin (ten Electoral Votes), Arizona (11) and Georgia (16) – by 0.6% or less. Had Trump won these three states, the Electoral College would have been tied at 269-269.

If nobody wins a majority (270) of the Electoral College, the presidency is decided by the House of Representatives, but with each state’s delegation casting one vote. Republicans hold a majority of state delegations, so Trump would have won a tied Electoral College vote.

Wisconsin (Biden by 0.6%) will be the “tipping-point” state. Had Trump won Wisconsin and states Biden won by less (Arizona and Georgia went to Biden by 0.3% margins), he would have won the Electoral College tiebreaker.

The national popular vote has Biden currently leading Trump by 50.9% to 47.3%, a 3.6% margin for Biden. This does not yet include mail ballots from New York that are expected to be very pro-Biden.

Biden is likely to win the popular vote by 4-5%, so the difference between Wisconsin and the overall popular vote will be 3.5% to 4.5%. That is greater than the 2.9% gap between the tipping-point state and the popular vote in 2016.

Prior to 2016, there had not been such a large gap, but in both 2016 and 2020 Trump exploited the relatively large population of non-University educated whites in presidential swing states compared to nationally.




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This article, written after the US 2016 election, has had a massive surge in views recently.

Relative to expectations, Democrats performed badly in Congress. In the Senate, Republicans lead by 50-48 with two Georgian runoffs pending on January 5. In the House, Democrats hold a 218-203 lead with 14 races uncalled. Republicans have gained a net seven seats so far, and lead in ten of the uncalled races.

Before the election, Democrats were expected to win the Senate and extend their House majority. The House would be worse for Democrats if not for a judicial redistribution in North Carolina that gave Democrats two extra safe seats.

US polls understated Trump again

New York Times analyst Nate Cohn has an article on the polls. Biden was expected to greatly improve on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance with non-University educated whites and seniors, but the results indicate that Trump held up much better with these demographics than expected.

Trump also had large swings in his favour in heavily Latino counties such as Miami Dade, Florida; polls suggested a more modest improvement for Trump with Latinos.

After the 2016 election, most polls started weighting by educational attainment, but this did not fix the problem. Cohn has some theories of what went wrong. First, Republican turnout appears to have been stronger than expected. Second, Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media may have convinced some of his supporters to not respond to polls.

A third theory is that coronavirus biased the polls’ samples, because people who followed medical advice and stayed home were more likely to respond to pollsters and more likely to be Democrats. Polls had suggested Biden would win Wisconsin, a coronavirus hotspot, easily, but he only won by 0.6%.

While US polls understated Trump in both 2016 and 2020, it is not true that international polling tends to understate the right. At the October 17 New Zealand election, polls greatly understated Labour’s lead over National. Polls also understated UK Labour at the 2017 election.

Victorian Labor surges after end of lockdown

In a privately conducted Victorian YouGov poll reported by The Herald Sun, Labor led by 55-45 from primary votes of 44% Labor, 40% Coalition and 11% Greens. Premier Daniel Andrews had a strong 65-32 approval rating, while Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien had a terrible 53-26 disapproval rating. The poll was conducted from late October to early November from a sample of 1,240. Figures from The Poll Bludger.

A Victorian Morgan SMS poll, conducted November 9-10 from a sample of 818, gave Labor a 58.5-41.5 lead, a seven-point gain for Labor since the mid-October Morgan poll. Primary votes were 45% Labor (up five), 34.5% Coalition (down 5.5) and 11% Greens (up two). In a forced choice, Andrews had a 71-29 approval rating, up from 59-41 in mid-October. Morgan’s SMS polls have been unreliable in the past.

Labor wins Queensland election with 52 of 93 seats

At the October 31 Queensland election, Labor won 52 of the 93 seats (up four since 2017), the LNP 34 (down five), Katter’s Australian Party three (steady), the Greens two (up one), One Nation one (steady) and one independent (steady). Labor has an 11-seat majority.

Primary votes were 39.6% Labor (up 4.1%), 35.9% LNP (up 2.2%), 9.5% Greens (down 0.5%), 7.1% One Nation (down 6.6%) and 2.5% Katter’s Australian Party (up 0.2%). It is likely Labor won at least 53% of the two party preferred vote. The final Newspoll gave Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead – another example of understating the left.

Labor gained five seats from the LNP, but lost Jackie Trad’s seat of South Brisbane to the Greens. Two of Labor’s gains were very close and went to recounts, with Labor winning Bundaberg by nine votes and Nicklin by 85 votes.

Federal Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition

In last week’s federal Newspoll, conducted November 4-7 from a sample of 1,510, the Coalition had a 51-49 lead, a one point gain for Labor since the mid-October Newspoll. Primary votes were 43% Coalition (down one), 35% Labor (up one), 11% Greens (steady) and 3% One Nation (steady). Figures from The Poll Bludger.

Scott Morrison is still very popular, with 64% satisfied with his performance (down one) and 32% dissatisfied (up one), for a net approval of +32. Anthony Albanese’s net approval jumped eight points to +4, but he continued to trail Morrison as better PM by 58-29 (57-28 previously).

A YouGov poll in former Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter had a 50-50 tie; this would be a three-point swing to the Nationals from the 2019 election. Primary votes were 34% Labor, 26% National, 12% One Nation, 10% Shooters and 8% Greens.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 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.




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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.




Read more:
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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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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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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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.

As the Queensland campaign passes the halfway mark, the election is still Labor’s to lose



Glenn Hunt/ AAP

Paul Williams, Griffith University

We’re at the mid-point of the Queensland election campaign.

Pre-polling opened on Monday, with about two million Queenslanders expected to vote before election day on October 31.

But with just 12 days to go, despite the Liberal-National Party (LNP) opposition stumbling a little more often than the Labor government, neither side has emerged as a clear front-runner. However, the ALP has its nose in front.

Pandemic conditions favour incumbents

Unusually, for a state that produced the likes of Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer, the campaign’s first two weeks have been notable only for a low-energy blandness. COVID-19 conditions and too few federal leaders appearing on the hustings have only added to a quiet air of sober austerity.

Fortunately for the Palaszczuk government, flavourless campaigns very often play into the hands of incumbents.

For example, the March 2020 election for the Brisbane City Council saw LNP Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner easily re-elected after a colourless campaign, despite early pandemic fears.

Indeed, it appears the pandemic has been a boon for incumbents everywhere. Between August and last weekend, Labor/Labour governments have been easily re-elected in the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand.

Voters, at least for now, appear to view leaders, parties and issues through a unique COVID-19 lens, and give governments free passes on such traditional vote-killers as debt, deficit and unemployment.




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Put simply, opposition parties are getting little traction when making the case for change. This phenomenon will not have escaped the attention of federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

Newspoll puts Labor ahead

The Queensland opposition’s own lack of traction was confirmed in a weekend Newspoll.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington at a press conference.
The Liberal National Party is trailing Labor, according to the latest Newspoll.
Cameron Laird/ AAP

Currently, Labor and the LNP are evenly pegged in their primary vote at 37%, with Labor enjoying a narrow lead, after preferences, of 52 to 48%. That’s a swing to Labor of about one percentage point since the 2017 state election. If uniform, that swing could see Labor seize three additional LNP seats.

Newspoll also revealed a slightly higher Greens vote, with One Nation’s vote down by about five points since 2017.

Role reversal

That lack of appetite for change has seen something of a role reversal between the major parties.

Where the LNP is spruiking a “vision” via costly infrastructure projects — a $15 billion “New Bradfield” irrigation scheme and a $33 billion Bruce Highway upgrade — Labor is painting itself as the party of steady growth and public safety amid the greatest health crisis in a century.




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Even so, the campaign is firmly aligned with the traditional pillars of Queensland political culture. In the words of political scientist Colin Hughes, this means it is about “things and places rather than people and ideas”.

It’s therefore hardly surprising that jobs, infrastructure, crime and frontline public service delivery are dominating.

But a theme of political stability also emerged during the first week. After eight decades of majority government, since the mid-1990s, Queensland has seen three hung parliaments.

Both Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and LNP leader Deb Frecklington warned of instability being brought about by a vote for minor parties, then pledged “no deals” with crossbench members. Few believed either leader.

Integrity issues distract second week

The campaign’s second week turned to integrity when the ABC reported Frecklington had been referred by her own party to the Electoral Commission of Queensland after attending a dinner in August hosted by a property developer.

Under 2018 legislation, political donations from property developers are illegal.




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Frecklington denied any wrongdoing. The LNP also denied reporting Frecklington, noting it “regularly communicates with the ECQ to ensure that [they] comply with the act.”

This came as the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CCC) took the unprecedented step of writing to every candidate with a stark warning,

[…] the lines between government and the private sector are blurring, with overlapping networks of association involving consultants, influencers, lobbyists and executives.

Labor briefly played up integrity questions last week, but the Frecklington story soon faded.

Even so, the issue robbed the opposition of a valuable campaign oxygen and made Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s (probably only) visit to Queensland something of a non-event.

Economic issues still dominate

Indeed, the fact that Morrison’s intervention caused few local ripples underscores the fact this campaign is very clearly about Queensland affairs.

That’s why Palaszczuk and Frecklington spent about half of their first two weeks in the regions, where economic pain is so often felt hardest.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington elbow bumps Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Queensland last week.
Cameron Laird/AAP

It’s also why the LNP is pledging an unemployment rate of 5% (down from the current 7.7%) and why Labor talked up its enthusiasm for coal mining via the approval of a $1 billion Olive Downs mine near Mackay.

Moreover, while Treasurer Cameron Dick insists Queensland must “borrow to build”, the LNP promises it could balance the budget by by 2024 without new taxes, asset sales or forced redundancies.

Last week, Labor jumped on Frecklington’s refusal to rule out “natural attrition” in the public service as a cost-saving measure — drawing comparisons with former LNP Premier Campbell Newman’s unpopular cuts. This is despite Labor’s own public service hiring freeze sounding remarkably similar.

Campaigns already ‘launched’

In a campaign already marred by vandalised corflutes and nasty tweets, the LNP has pledged to put Labor last on how-to-vote cards.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Labor and the LNP both had their campaign launches over the weekend.
Glenn Hunt/AAP

It’s a curious strategy that will have an effect only in a small number of seats where the LNP finishes third behind Labor and a minor party or independent. Later, the LNP said it would put the Informed Medical Options Party — an anti-fluoridation, anti-“forced” vaccinations group — last in the 31 seats the IMOP is contesting.

Will pre-poll voting beginning this week, up to 70% of electors could vote before October 31, when postal votes are also considered. This pressure to “front-end” their campaigns saw the major parties bring forward their campaign launches to Sunday, October 18.

Few surprises were offered, although Labor’s long-pledged euthanasia legislation and free TAFE for students under 25 years have generated headlines. The LNP’s $300 car registration rebate and plans for cheaper electricity for 16,000 manufacturing businesses will also provoke interest.

This election is still Labor’s to lose.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.