And now for a newsflash: politicians actually do keep their promises



File 20190415 76846 1grnyk8.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Gillard government kept 87% of its promises, though some had to be compromised to navigate a hung parliament.
AAP/Alan Porritt

Andrea Carson, La Trobe University; Aaron Martin, University of Melbourne, and Andrew Gibbons, University of Texas at Austin

A quick scan of political headlines over recent election campaigns will tell you that there is a trust deficit in Australian politics. Alarmingly, surveys uniformly find that public trust is falling in Australia.

The Murdoch tabloids (Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail) posed this question on their front pages with the headline “ScoMo vs Shorten: Who do you trust?” on March 28, perhaps implying trust was a one-sided political proposition.

But by the following week, the headline read: “Aussie voters short on choice” after their commissioned YouGov Galaxy poll revealed low public regard for both political leaders.

The poll showed 30% of respondents believed Scott Morrison to be “untrustworthy”, compared to Shorten on 34%. And when asked if they believed the leaders to be “well-intentioned”, the results were grim: just 34% believed Morrison to be well-intentioned, and 30% for Shorten.




Read more:
Trust in politicians and government is at an all-time low. The next government must work to fix that


Why is this? One oft-cited reason is that politicians from all sides of politics don’t keep their promises. Veteran columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins, summed it up after the defeat of the Liberal National party in the Queensland state election in 2015. Then-Premier Campbell Newman was unceremoniously ousted from office after record wins in the previous election. Gittins wrote:

The biggest problem, of course, is decades of broken promises by both sides.
Gillard broke her promises to balance the budget and not to introduce a carbon tax. Campbell Newman promised not to sack public servants. Abbott campaigned on the restoration of trust and high standards, but also made promises he can’t have intended to keep – and didn’t need to make to win.

But are broken promises really to blame for falling levels of public trust in politicians?

We know from extensive research about other western democracies, that political parties make serious efforts to keep their political promises and, despite popular rhetoric, the majority of promises made are kept. Our latest research tested whether this was also true of the Australian experience.

Using the same methods of the Comparative Party Pledges Project (CPPP), which has examined over 20,000 election promises made in 57 election campaigns in 12 countries, we analyse the fulfilment of election promises in six policy areas by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Julia Gillard during the 43rd Parliament.

Among the reasons why we chose to analyse the Gillard government’s performance was the common criticism that it had broken its much-publicised pledge not to introduce a carbon tax, creating a perception that the government could not be trusted.




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If politicians want more trust from voters, they need to start behaving with civility and respect


Sections of the media and political rivals openly called Julia Gillard a liar following the policy backflip. Also, the Gillard government was the first minority federal government since 1941. When the 2010 election produced a hung parliament, many commentators predicted chaos, as Brenton Prosser and Richard Denniss have reminded us. Some argued the government would be unable to fulfil its mandate or that the government would be forced into an early election.

We collected 232 promises (from party documents and the media) at the official start of the election campaign in 2010 until polling day. To measure if a promise was kept, we used sources like Hansard, official political communications, budget papers and, as a last resort, media reports.

We found most promises made were specific rather than general, and most – 87% – were kept (see table below). But, some of those needed to be altered in some way and were only partially kept. This reflected the compromise required to get bills through the two houses, neither controlled by the Labor party.

Table 1.
Authors. Notes: N=232 promises. Note: the outcome of three promises could not be determined. Hence, the percentages in the table do not add to 100 per cent.

That the Gillard government was able to keep the majority of its pledges but be tarred with perceptions of deception is what some academics label the “pledge puzzle”.

So why is there a disconnect between perceptions and reality? One reason is that not all promises are equal. Implementing a carbon tax was seen as a big promise to break. Other famous examples include Bob Hawke promising at his 1987 election launch that no Australian child would live in poverty by 1990, and John Howard promising in 1996 to “never ever” introduce a goods and services tax. Measuring the importance of a promise to voters (salience) is an important aspect that may help us better understand the “pledge puzzle” and mistrust of politicians.

The pledge puzzle also suggests that broken promises are only one aspect of how voters regard their politicians. it also tells us that there are other factors to consider – such as media coverage, negative campaigning and political infighting and rorting – to better explain why public trust in Australian politicians is falling. We also know that citizens who are more trusting of politicians are more trusting individuals generally and vice versa.

Overall, our findings give cause for optimism about the role of election promises in representative democracy. We found that politicians do take promises seriously, and that they do try to keep them. Yet, this finding by itself is unlikely to bolster Australians’ trust in their elected representatives at this election until politicians’ report cards improve on other measures.


Dr Andrea Carson will be available for a Q+A from 1pm – 2pm, AEST on Tuesday, April 16 to take questions on this topic. Please post your questions in the comments below.The Conversation

Andrea Carson, Associate Professor at La Trobe University. Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, La Trobe University; Aaron Martin, Senior lecturer, University of Melbourne, and Andrew Gibbons, Postdoctoral Fellow, Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies, University of Texas at Austin

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

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How much do sedentary people really need to move? It’s less than you think


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As little as 20 minutes of exercise a day can offset a sedentary lifestyle. And that exercise can include walking the dog.
from www.shutterstock.com

Emmanuel Stamatakis, University of Sydney; Joanne Gale, University of Sydney, and Melody Ding, University of Sydney

People who spend much of their day sitting may need to move around less than we thought to counteract their sedentary lifestyle, new research shows.

Our research, published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found about 20-40 minutes of physical activity a day seems to eliminate most health risks associated with sitting.

That’s substantially lower than the one hour a day a previous study has found.




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Health Check: in terms of exercise, is walking enough?


We spend almost all our waking day sitting, standing, or moving. The health impact of each one of these can be complex.

For example, too much standing can lead to lower back problems and even a higher risk of heart disease. But sitting for too long and not moving enough can harm our health.

Then there are people who sit for many hours and also get in reasonable amounts of physical activity. For example, someone who has an office job but walks to and from work for 20 minutes each way and runs two to three times a week easily meets the recommended level of physical activity.




Read more:
Why sitting is not the ‘new smoking’


While we know moving is better than sitting, what is far less clear is how much of a good thing (moving) can offset the harms of a bad thing (sitting).

That’s what we wanted to find out in our study of almost 150,000 Australian middle-aged and older adults.

We followed people enrolled in the 45 and Up Study for nearly nine years. We looked at links between sitting and physical activity with deaths from any cause, and deaths from cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, over that time. We then estimated what level of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity might offset the health risks of sitting.

This kind of activity is strenuous enough to get you at least slightly out of breath if sustained for a few minutes. It includes brisk walking, cycling, playing sports or running.

What we found

People who did no physical activity and sat for more than eight hours a day had more than twice (107%) the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to people who did at least one hour of physical activity and sat less than four hours a day (the “optimal group”).

But it wasn’t enough just to sit less. People who did less than 150 minutes of physical activity a week and sat less than four hours a day still had a 44-60% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than the optimal group.

We also calculated the effect of replacing one hour of sitting with standing, walking, and moderate and vigorous physical activity.

Among people who sit a lot (more than six hours a day) replacing one hour of sitting with equal amounts of moderate physical activity like strenuous gardening and housework, but not standing, was associated with a 20% reduction in dying from cardiovascular disease.

Replacing one hour of sitting with one hour of vigorous activity such as swimming, aerobics and tennis, the benefits were much greater, with a 64% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

What does it all mean?

The great news for people who sit a lot, including sedentary office workers, is that the amount of physical activity needed to offset the health risks of sitting risks was substantially lower than the one hour a day a previous study found.

Even around 20-40 minutes of physical activity a day – the equivalent of meeting the physical activity guidelines of 150 to 300 minutes a week – seemed to eliminate most risks associated with sitting.

For people who sat a lot, replacing sitting with vigorous physical activity was better than replacing it with moderate activity; and replacing sitting with moderate activity or walking was better than replacing it with standing.

What’s the take-home message?

Our study supports the idea that sitting and exercise are two sides of the same health “coin”. In other words, enough physical activity can offset the health risks of sitting.

Should we worry about sitting too much? Yes, because sitting takes up valuable time we could spend moving. So too much sitting is an important part of the physical inactivity problem.

We also know only a minority of adults get enough physical activity to offset the risks of sitting.

For those who sit a lot, finding ways to reduce sitting would be a good start but it is not enough. The most important lifestyle change would be to look for or create opportunities to include physical activity into our daily routine whenever possible.

How to widen our activity ‘menu’

Not everyone has a supportive environment and the capacity to create opportunities to be active. For example, lack of time and physical activity being low on people’s list of priorities are the main reasons why inactive adults don’t exercise. Also, many do not have the motivation to power through a strenuous workout when they are juggling many other life challenges.

There are no known remedies to a lack of time or low motivation. So, perhaps we need to add new approaches, beyond exercising and playing sport for leisure, to the “menu” of physical activity options.




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Don’t have time to exercise? Here’s a regimen everyone can squeeze in


Incidental physical activity like active transportation – think walking fast or cycling part or all of the way to work – or taking stairs are great ways to become or stay active without taking much extra time.The Conversation

Emmanuel Stamatakis, Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health, University of Sydney; Joanne Gale, Research Fellow Biostatistician, University of Sydney, and Melody Ding, Senior Research Fellow of Public Health, University of Sydney

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

Indonesia isn’t the only country planning new cities. Why not Australia?



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Indonesia plans to relocate its capital from the sprawling city of Jakarta – and it isn’t the only country with plans to build whole new cities.
AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

Wendy Steele, RMIT University

The announcement that President Joko Widodo’s government will move Indonesia’s capital to another location, due to the severity of human-induced degradation in Jakarta, highlights a key tension for cities today. In the face of increasingly unsustainable urban environments, do we retrofit existing cities, or relocate and build new cities to achieve greater sustainability?

The answer is both. But each has its challenges.




Read more:
New cities? It’s an idea worth thinking about for Australia


Creating new cities

The goal of turning cities from sustainability problems to solutions is driving a suite of “future city” innovations. These include the planning and development of whole new cities.

An increasing number of countries are planning to build cities from scratch using technological innovation to achieve more sustainable urban development. Forest City in Malaysia, Belmont smart city in the United States and the Sino-Oman Industrial City are just some of the examples.

Forest City is Malaysia’s biggest development project.

The urban ambition includes creating carless and walkable cities, green cities able to produce oxygen through eco-skyscrapers, high-speed internet embedded in the urban fabric, the capacity to convert waste into energy, and reclaiming land to create new strategic trade opportunities.

However, striking the right balance between innovative ideas and democratic expectations, including the public right to the city, remains a challenge.




Read more:
Will Habitat III defend the human right to the city?


The Minnesota Experimental City offers a cautionary tale. The aim was to solve urban problems by creating a new city. It would use the latest technology including nuclear energy, automated cars and a domed roof enclosure.

Despite significant government and financial backing, including its own state agency, the Minnesota project failed due to a lack of public understanding and local support for a top-down futuristic project.

Who gets left behind?

In 1960, Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to the futuristic city of Brasilia. While the city was designed to accommodate both rich and poor, it quickly became unaffordable for the average family. Half a century on, it was reported:

The poor have been shunted out to satellite cities, which range from proper well-built cities to something more like a shanty town.

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is part of a larger mega-city.
Rainer Lesniewski/Shutterstock

In Indonesia, more than 30 million people – a fifth of the nation’s urban residents and more than a tenth of the 269 million population – live in Greater Jakarta. The capital city Jakarta is just one part of a larger mega-city agglomeration, the world’s second-largest after Greater Tokyo. This vast connected urban meta-region is known as Jabodetabek, from the initials of the cities within it: Jakarta (with a population of 10 million), Bogor (1 million), Depok (2.1 million), Tangerang (2 million), South Tangerang (1.5 million) and Bekasi (2.7 million).

A key reason for moving the capital is that Jakarta is prone to serious flooding and is rapidly sinking. Jakarta also suffers overpopulation, severe traffic gridlock, slums and a lack of critical urban infrastructure such as drainage and sanitation.




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The sea isn’t actually ‘level’: why rising oceans will hit some cities more than others


Relocating the capital away from the crowded main island of Java offers the opportunity to better plan the political and administrative centre using the latest urban design features and technology.

Two key questions arise. If environmental degradation and overpopulation are the key issues, what will become of the largely remaining population of Greater Jakarta? At a national scale, how will this relocation help overcome the socio-economic and spatial disparities that exist in Indonesia?

Egypt, for example, is building a new capital city to overcome severe urban congestion and overcrowding in Greater Cairo. But there is no guarantee the new capital will resolve these issues if the emphasis is solely on technological innovation, without adequate attention to urban equity and fairness.

More of the same in Australia

The Australian population is projected to grow to 36 million in the next 30 years. This is focusing political, policy and public attention on what this means for the future of the nation’s cities.

Despite all the advances that have occurred in technology, the arts, architecture, design and the sciences, there is surprisingly little innovation or public discussion about what might be possible for 21st-century Australian settlements beyond the capital cities.

Future Australian city planning and development focuses largely on enlarging and intensifying the footprints of existing major cities. The current urban policy trajectory is in-fill development and expansion of the existing state capital mega-city regions, where two-thirds of the population live. But what is lost through this approach?

In Australia only two ambitious “new city” plans have been put forward in the last 50 years: the Multifunction Polis (MFP) and the CLARA Plan.

In the late 1980s the MFP was envisaged as a high-tech city of the future with nuclear power, modern communication and Asian investment. It failed to gain the necessary political, investment and public support and was never built.

The current CLARA Plan proposes building up to eight new regional smart cities connected by a high-speed rail system linking Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra. Each of these cities is designed to be compact, environmentally sustainable and just a quick train trip away from the capital cities.

CLARA has outlined a “value capture” business model based on private city land development, not “government coffer” funding. How these new cities propose to function within the constitutional framework of Australia is as yet unclear and untested.

The privately funded CLARA plan is to build up to eight compact, sustainable, smart cities connected via high-speed rail.



Read more:
High speed rail plan still needs to prove economic benefits will outweigh costs


A bipartisan challenge

Are we thinking too narrowly when we talk about future Australian cities?

The “future city” prompts us to rethink and re-imagine the complex nature and make-up of our urban settlements, and the role of critical infrastructure and planning within them.




Read more:
What’s critical about critical infrastructure?


The future of Australian cities will require creativity, vision (even courage) to respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development.

This will not be the remit of any one political party, but a bipartisan national urban settlement agenda that affects and involves all Australians.The Conversation

Wendy Steele, Associate Professor, Centre of Urban Research and Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, RMIT University

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

How much influence will independents and minor parties have this election? Please explain


Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

For some time now, Australian voters have rattled the cage of the political establishment. Frustrated with prime ministerial “coups”, political scandals and policy inertia, growing numbers have turned away from the major parties.

Does this mean minor parties and independent candidates will have a significant impact on the coming federal election?

Anti-major party sentiment doesn’t usually disrupt the numbers in parliament by much. Only five of 150 seats weren’t won by the major parties at the 2016 federal election, despite a national minor party/independent vote of over 23%. But a nationwide minor party Senate vote of over 35% in 2016 resulted in a record 20 crossbenchers – helped by a lower quota bar at a double dissolution election.

Familiar groups and faces are well placed to capitalise on this sentiment during the current election campaign.




Read more:
A matter of (mis)trust: why this election is posing problems for the media


Chasing the protest vote

Despite internal instability rocking its New South Wales branch, the Greens will hope to capitalise on growing progressive support (in Victoria especially) and an expected anti-Coalition swing to secure Senate influence.

Yet with recent Senate voting rule changes being tested for the first time at a normal half-Senate election, the Greens may in fact struggle to retain, let alone build on, their current nine Senate spots. Final Senate seats in most states will be fought over by a slew of (mainly right-wing) minor parties.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON), and – unlikely as it seems – Fraser Anning’s new Conservative National Party will chase the “protest vote” in all states and (apart from PHON) territories.

But intense competition for the conservative vote means they and other minor parties stand only an outside chance of winning lower house seats. One exception is Bob Katter likely holding Kennedy in north Queensland for his eponymous Australian Party.

Still, an expected high minor party vote will keep the major parties – and the media – focused on preferencing arrangements throughout the campaign. These preferences will likely play a key role in electing minor party candidates to the Senate, potentially returning familiar faces like One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts from Queensland.

Deference to preferences

Recent opinion poll results have unexpectedly placed Palmer’s party ahead of the field of minor parties on the right. Months of saturation advertising, it seems, have imprinted the billionaire’s messaging on voters’ minds. Yet this sudden poll prominence, like Palmer’s billboard pledge to “make Australia great”, is largely illusory.

Nevertheless, both major parties have responded to this seeming upsurge in UAP support. The Coalition has hurriedly concluded a preferencing arrangement that sees Palmer and Prime Minister Scott Morrison somewhat “reconciled”. The deal might deliver much-needed preferences to Coalition MPs in marginal seats, particularly in Queensland. It also increases the chances of Palmer candidates – and the man himself – winning a Senate seat.

But these are big “maybes”. Minor party voters are renowned for following their own preference choices. In 2013, voters’ preferences from Palmer’s United Party candidates split only 54% the Coalition’s way.

Clearly stung by the attention being shown to Palmer, Hanson has announced PHON will preference Labor last in some key marginal seats held by Liberal incumbents. That includes Peter Dutton, whose seat of Dickson is under siege. In 2016, PHON took a different approach when it preferenced against sitting MPs, costing the Coalition its hold on Queensland seats like Herbert and Longman.

As part of the same deal, PHON will exchange preferences with the Nationals – whose leader Michael McCormack claimed “it just made sense” – lifting the Nationals’ hopes in marginal and at-risk regional seats.

Labor has also sealed a deal to boost its chances in marginal Victorian seats, concluding an arrangement with Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. This will see Labor how-to-vote cards in tightly contested seats like Dunkley and Corangamite suggest second preferences go to Hinch’s Senate candidates ahead of the Greens (repeating Labor’s approach at the 2016 election).




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View from The Hill: Shorten had the content, Morrison had the energy in first debate


The reputational risks of preference deals

But doing preference deals with minor parties carries reputational risks, as former Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett has warned. As has often been the case with personality-driven outfits, choosing suitable or qualified candidates easily brings minor parties undone.

Anning’s party has already stumbled badly. A pair of candidates in Victoria and the ACT has been called into question, and a party supporter allegedly assaulted journalists in Sydney.

Hanson’s party, no stranger to this pitfall, is still hosing down the controversy of the Al Jazeera taped conversations with party insiders, which has likely cost the party some support. Freshly released video footage has now forced Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson, to resign in disgrace, in another blow to the often shambolic party’s standing.

Palmer’s candidates are similarly coming under scrutiny with doubts raised over citizenship qualifications, putting legitimate doubts into voters’ minds just as pre-polling has commenced.

Familiarity is key for independents

The best chances for independents are in lower house seats, yet there’s been only a dozen elected to parliament in the last several decades. Those who’ve broken through in election campaigns, like Kerryn Phelps at last year’s Wentworth byelection, typically benefit when there’s some controversy or ill-feeling towards an incumbent or their party.

But in the absence of full-on media glare of a high-profile by-election contest, Phelps might struggle to hold her seat – assuming the angst of local voters over Malcolm Turnbull’s deposing has dissipated.

Personal profile and high media interest puts Zali Steggall in with a chance to unseat Tony Abbott in Warringah. Likewise, a well-organised local campaign structure such as “Voices for Indi” behind Cathy McGowan’s hopeful successor, Helen Haines, can make the difference – though transition of support from one independent to another isn’t assured.

Newcomers on the ballot paper generally find the odds against them. Candidates with an established record and voter recognition, such as Andrew Wilkie in Tasmania’s Clark (like the Greens’ Adam Bandt in Melbourne and Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie in South Australia’s Mayo), enjoy an easier path to reelection.

Similarly, Rob Oakeshott is given a good chance of winning the New South Wales seat of Cowper from retiring Nationals MP, Luke Hartsuyker. He carries strong name recognition from his time as Independent MP for the neighbouring seat of Lyne.

But recognition alone mightn’t be enough for Julia Banks, the former Liberal MP for Chisholm in Victoria who is now challenging in Greg Hunt’s seat of Flinders. Her decision to preference Labor’s candidate above Hunt might turn away potential support from Liberal-leaning voters, yet could put the seat within Labor’s grasp.




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More grey tsunami than youthquake: despite record youth enrolments, Australia’s voter base is ageing


Minors and independents cloud the outcome

The chances of an “independent tide” sweeping several seats this election is unlikely, in part due to the ability of major parties to drown out the competition. And counter to long speculation about the “march of the minors”, there could in fact be a reduced crossbench in both the lower house and Senate.

But voter dissatisfaction with the major parties persists, and minor party preferences are likely to play a critical role in many seats.

The prominence of minor parties will maintain an air of unpredictability for the remainder of the campaign, clouding an election outcome many saw not long ago as a foregone conclusion.The Conversation

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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

How the major parties’ Indigenous health election commitments stack up



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Government policies on Indigenous health have so far largely failed in closing the gap.
From shutterstock.com

David Coombs, UNSW and Diana Perche, UNSW

Eleven years after Australia adopted the Closing the Gap strategy, many pressing First Nations health issues remain unresolved.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy, currently 10.8 years for men and 10.6 years for women, is actually widening.

Similarly, the target to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous child mortality has not been met. The Indigenous rate of 164 deaths per 100,000 children aged 0-4 years is still 2.4 times the non-Indigenous rate of 68 deaths per 100,000 in this age group.




Read more:
Indigenous health programs require more than just good ideas


The causes of Indigenous health inequality are complex. They stem from social determinants such as employment, education, social inclusion, and access to traditional land, rather than strictly biomedical causes.

Government policies have a critical role to play here. But funding cuts, policy incoherence, and governments retaining control over resources and decision-making explain why the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes are not closing.

Regardless of who wins the federal election on May 18, these enduring health issues affecting Indigenous Australians will require sustained and concerted policy attention.

A look at the major parties’ policy promises reveals some signs of hope, but also plenty of room for improvement.




Read more:
Three reasons why the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians aren’t closing


The Coalition’s commitments

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups criticised the lack of Indigenous-specific health measures in the Morrison government’s first budget detailed in April.

The budget did include A$35 million for First Nations solutions to family violence, and A$10 million for the Lowitja Institute for health research.

Indigenous youth suicide remains an urgent policy concern, with Indigenous children five times more likely to die in this way than non-Indigenous children. A coronial inquest recently identified complex causes including intergenerational trauma, poverty, and problems stemming from the home environment.




Read more:
Indigenous health leaders helped give us a plan to close the gap, and we must back it


The Coalition’s budget committed A$5 million over four years to address Indigenous youth suicide. This figure has since been increased to A$42 million following criticism from First Nations organisations and advocates.

Meanwhile, the budget directed A$129 million towards the expansion of a cashless welfare card system that operates in a number of Aboriginal communities. The card quarantines 80% of welfare recipients’ income for use in government-approved stores, and on government-approved items, to prevent spending on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. This decision was taken despite a lack of evidence these cards reduce social harm or public expenditure.

The government also made some pre-budget commitments around Indigenous health. These included:

The Coalition also honoured a previous commitment of A$550 million for remote housing in the Northern Territory.

The Morrison government deserves some credit for its part in reaching an agreement between the Council of Australian Governments and a coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations in December 2018.

This agreement commits governments and Indigenous peak bodies to shared decision-making and joint accountability in devising and working towards new Closing the Gap targets.




Read more:
Budget 2019 boosts aged care and mental health, and modernises Medicare: health experts respond


Labor’s commitments

In keeping with its election campaign emphasis on health spending, Labor recently announced a A$115 million Indigenous health package.

The package includes almost A$30 million to reduce Indigenous youth suicide and mental ill-health.

It also offers A$33 million to address rheumatic heart disease, a preventable condition that disproportionately affects Indigenous children. The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) highlighted rheumatic heart disease as one of ten Indigenous health priorities for this election.

Labor has also promised A$20 million for sexual health promotion in northern Australia, A$13 million to combat vision loss, and A$16.5 million for the “Deadly Choices” initiative, which aims to prevent chronic disease through education.

Further, the opposition has announced a compensation scheme and healing fund for surviving members of the Stolen Generations and their families. This could help manage the effects of intergenerational trauma.

What’s lacking

Both parties’ funding commitments must be assessed in the context of the 2014 budget cut of more than A$500 million dollars to Indigenous affairs by the then Coalition government, which only the Greens have committed to restoring.

Impacts have been severe for specific programs, especially those run at the community level. These include youth services in Maningrida (NT) and employment and training programs in Inala (Queensland).

Funding for crucial Indigenous health infrastructure and capital works is also lacking, with the current shortfall estimated at A$500 million. Many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are run from old buildings in desperate need of upgrades to accommodate increasing patient numbers and rising demand for services. The Coalition recently announced an incremental increase to infrastructure funding, but much more is needed.




Read more:
Antibiotic shortages are putting Aboriginal kids at risk


Neither the Coalition nor Labor has made any substantial commitment to a national Indigenous housing strategy. Inadequate, insecure and poor quality housing worsens physical and mental health through overcrowding, inadequate heating and cooling, injury hazards, and stress.

Similarly, both parties have been silent on reducing poverty in Indigenous communities. Poverty is another social determinant that contributes to Indigenous physical and mental ill-health, as well as high incarceration levels.

What about self-determination?

Labor has stated it will prioritise Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as the vehicles for delivering much needed health services.

As the Close the Gap steering committee’s shadow report emphasised, “when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in the design of the services they need, we are far more likely to achieve success”.

The Coalition has been silent on the issue of community control, and funding reforms under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme have destabilised the position of Aboriginal organisations.




Read more:
The Coalition’s report card on health includes some passes and quite a few fails


Community control is threatened by the government’s focus on competitive tendering, where First Nations organisations compete with “mainstream” service providers trying to secure contracts to deliver Indigenous health services.

Neither the Coalition nor Labor has outlined a response to these structural issues.

A final verdict

It’s difficult to identify major differences between the two parties’ Indigenous health promises. The likely impact of these polices is also hard to gauge given the significant role played by state and territory governments in service delivery.

Labor has promised to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations but specific details have not been announced. Labor’s significant funding pledge for rheumatic heart disease, though, makes their Indigenous health offering perhaps slightly more likely to achieve health gains than the Coalition’s.




Read more:
Why are Aboriginal children still dying from rheumatic heart disease?


The Conversation


David Coombs, PhD candidate in Nura Gili Indigenous Studies, UNSW and Diana Perche, Senior Lecturer and Academic Coordinator, Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Unit, UNSW

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

Explainer: how does preferential voting work in the Senate?


File 20190501 142962 1uylkic.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Shutterstock

Stephen Morey, La Trobe University

Editor’s note: This is an updated version on an article that was published in 2016 when the new Senate voting rules were first introduced.


The voting system for the Australian Senate combines both preferential voting and proportional representation counting.

This system produces an upper house comprised of eight electorates (six states and two territories), each represented by multiple senators. As a group, these senators much more fairly represent the diversity of opinions in their electorates than the system in the lower house, where each of 151 electorates is represented by only a single member.

The election for the Senate on May 18 will be the world’s largest-ever election using this system, known technically as “proportional representation using the single transferable vote”. We will elect six senators in each of the states, and two senators in each territory.




Read more:
How the major parties’ Indigenous health election commitments stack up


The key features of Senate voting

  • you have one vote

  • you can express preferences for candidates in the order you prefer them, writing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on

  • if the candidate for whom you vote “1” is elected with more first preference votes than the quota needed for election, the surplus votes received are transferred to the next chosen candidate at a value that ensures as much as possible of your voting power of one vote counts towards electing a senator

  • a quota is the number of votes a candidate requires to be elected. In each of the states, in this half Senate election, the quota is 1/7 of all the formal votes plus 1

  • if the candidate for whom you vote “1” fails to be elected, the full value of your vote passes to the candidate to whom you gave your “2”. And if that candidate fails to be elected, to your “3” and so on

  • the number of candidates elected for each party is, as closely as possible, directly proportional to the support that party’s candidates receive after preferences

  • a big majority of voters will be represented by either a senator they voted “1” for, or a senator they gave an early preference to.




Read more:
A matter of (mis)trust: why this election is posing problems for the media


So, what do Australians need to know when they go to vote to choose their senators in this year’s federal election?

The ballot paper requires you to choose from one of two ways of marking it. Voting above-the-line means that you let your vote support parties’ candidates in the order on the ballot paper, whereas voting below-the-line means that you decide the order in which you support candidates.

The order is important because the chance of a candidate being elected decreases the later his or her name appears in that order of priority.

Voting above-the-line

The instructions on the ballot papers will tell you that a valid above-the-line ballot will show at least six party boxes, numbered 1 to 6, for at least six party groupings. However, your vote will have potentially more effect if you number more boxes.

In the example below, if you put a “1” in the Liberal box, the first Liberal to gain from your vote will be Malcolm Turnbull, then secondly Alexander Downer, then Tony Abbott, and so on. If you are a Liberal voter that wants to put Tony Abbott first, you can do this, but you have to vote below-the-line (read on for how to do that).

The example we show here is a formal (valid) vote that places the major parties last. This voter supported first the “Climate Sceptics”, but then ranked other minor parties and then the larger parties in the order: Liberal, Labor, Green.

Click to zoom.
CC BY-ND

It could happen that when this voter’s preferences are finally transferred, all the candidates for the first six parties chosen had been elected or excluded. Their vote is then used to help decide the final contest, between Labor and the Greens – in this case favouring Labor. But if the voter had not numbered all the boxes, their vote would have become exhausted: in other words, not further counted towards the election of a candidate.

An above-the-line “vote savings provision” means that even if you mark only one box, your ballot will still be counted. But (for example) if you had marked “1” in the square for Climate Sceptics – and only that square – and the Climate Sceptics candidates had failed to get enough votes to remain in the count, your ballot would have become exhausted, meaning your vote did not count towards electing a senator.

That is why it is best to number as many squares as possible.

Voting below-the-line

Below-the-line voters rank individual candidates in the order such voters prefer. You will be instructed to number at least 12 boxes below-the-line.

Suppose you are a Liberal voter, but you don’t like the order of the Liberal candidates on the ballot paper. You may number the boxes of the six Liberal candidates in any order – provided the numbers are sequential and each numeral is different.

If you then want to preference the Shooters and Fishers candidates (numbering 7 to 12), then Palmer United candidates (numbering 13 to 18), but dislike the remaining parties, you may leave their candidates’ squares blank. Your ballot is still formal and will be counted – as in the mock voting paper below.

Click to zoom.
CC BY-ND

Suppose you want to support particular candidates from different parties – and want to rank Penny Wong, Sarah Hanson-Young and Jacqui Lambie ahead of all the other candidates. You may certainly do that – again provided your ballot includes 1 to 12 and those preferences are sequential.

Click to zoom.
CC BY-ND

You might want to rank everyone except the main parties first. Let’s say that you also prefer the Hemp Party and Socialist Alternative first, but then want to vote for the Shooters and Fishers. If you then think Labor is the least bad of the main parties, the best way to use your ballot is to preference all of the small parties’ candidates and then Labor’s. That way, even if all the smaller parties’ candidates are excluded from the count, your next choice gains the value of your vote.

Note that you can rank the candidates of a particular party in any order. In the example below, the voter prefers Donald Trump to the other Shooters and Fishers candidates.

The more genuine preferences you express, the more likely a candidate you favour will be elected rather than one you disfavour.

Click to zoom.
CC BY-ND

The rules allow a vote to be counted provided that the first six consecutive numbers are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. If you omit or repeat a number, the ballot will still be counted. So a ballot that has the preferences 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 would be formal – but only preferences one to nine would count.

Your vote is most effective when you express as many preferences as you can or want to – either below or above the line.The Conversation

Stephen Morey, Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University

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

Now for the $55 million question: what does Clive Palmer actually want?



File 20190502 117607 1cgupes.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
While Clive Palmer is often lumped in with other right-wingers, in fact he espouses a range of populist ideas and is quite progressive on some issues.
AAP/Kelly Barnes

John Wanna, Australian National University

As head of the United Australia Party, Clive Palmer is no classic right-winger nor crotchety conservative. He is no angel either. He is often wrongly lumped in with Pauline Hanson and One Nation, and maybe even with the more recent retreads like Fraser Anning and Cory Bernardi.

But he is not like them. He is a big-spending, eccentric, brusque businessman espousing a strange mixture of populist musings. He is also eager to end the strangulation the major parties exert over policy options. On some issues he is more progressive than Labor (asylum seekers); on others he is more adventurous than the Coalition (taxation) – he is a protectionist nationalist without the xenophobic baggage.

So, just what is Palmer up to in this election campaign? After a fairly desultory campaign in 2013 when he won a single lower house seat and initially three senators, he sat out the 2016 federal election. Now, he’s back in full force, spending upwards of A$55 million before the election comes to an end. He’s standing candidates in every electorate and running a team in every senate constituency. Polling is showing him “influential” in many swing seats with support running into the mid-teens in some electorates.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Can $55 million get Clive Palmer back into parliamentary game?


Why is he spending so much of his own money on what looks like a pyrrhic campaign, even if he is elected to the Senate for Queensland?

Many people say Palmer has no policies, he stands for nothing except himself, and is just fanning a protest vote.

It’s true that Palmer tends to campaign with hackneyed slogans: “Make Australia Great”, “Aussies aren’t going to cop it any more” and “Let’s get something done for a change”, being the main three. He also authorises crass advertising – his prominent billboards and full-page poster-style advertisements feature himself, curtained in canary yellow, with the implicit message that the Liberals and Labor “don’t fight for you”. He is partial to hyperbole, and in the media often lives in a world of denial.

At the 2013 federal election, Palmer’s United Party released a slender raft of policy proposals. He opposed the carbon tax and supported tax reductions, but he also proposed a more compassionate policy towards asylum seekers, a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, free university places for residents, tax relief for mortgagees, regional wealth retention, and smaller government. Many of his 2013 policies reappear in recycled form in 2019.

He claims as his achievements to have stopped many of the “zombie” measures Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tried to impose in the 2014 budget. These include: stopping GP co-payments of $7 per visit, opposing cuts to universities, preventing more social security cuts, opposing an increase in the eligible age for the age pension to 70 years, supporting climate change and renewable energy proposals, and supporting a ban on lobbyists and the removal of boat-arrival children from offshore detention. He also claimed credit for supporting the abolition of the carbon tax and the mining tax, and for bringing down Campbell Newman’s LNP government in Queensland.

This election, the UAP is proposing to increase pensions by 20% immediately (or $4,000 a year for each pensioner). It is advocating an extra $80 billion spending on health and a further $20 billion for education over the next parliament. Palmer continues to support mining development (with more onshore processing of commodities) and a zonal taxation system, with wealth generated in regions remaining in regions. He wants immediate investment in very fast trains.

The UAP is also fiercely criticising other mainstream party policies. For instance, Palmer opposes the “sell-off” of agricultural land to foreign buyers, targeting in particular Chinese government-owned companies for their aggressive purchasing strategies. His position is not xenophobic: he detests Chinese Communist Party business practices because of first-hand experience, but he is not against people of Chinese descent coming here or doing well.

He opposes the ALP’s tax policy, regarding it as insufficient and mostly deferred until after 2024. He wants all income tax rates reduced by 15% now, and for companies and small businesses to pay their tax bill at the end of the financial year once their earnings are finalised (thus abolishing the pernicious provisional tax paid quarterly in advance).

He also wants mortgagees to be able to get a tax offset for the first $10,000 of repayments to help first-home buyers. Furthermore, the UAP is campaigning for the abolition of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and ending the public profligacy of water buy-backs. Palmer claims that spending on the national broadband network has “wasted” $55 billion “and it still doesn’t work”.

Palmer’s revival in his electoral stocks has occurred despite him being embroiled in many controversies and untrustworthy business practices. These include the debacle over the Coolum Resort, which closed under his management, costing 600 jobs and leaving over 300 investors without their assets.

He was widely blamed for the collapse of his nickel refinery in Townsville (which he took on to “save”) and for not paying workers their redundancy entitlements. He has also been linked to a stalled Titanic II project, killed off a Gold Coast A-League soccer team, complains of Rupert Murdoch’s influence over the Australian media, and been charged by ASIC with violating the Corporation Act. He has also transferred some of his business interests to the tax haven of Singapore.




Read more:
How much influence will independents and minor parties have this election? Please explain


Many commentators who highlight Palmer’s record believe the preference deal with the Liberals and LNP could perhaps damage the Coalition vote. But although Labor will whinge to the closing of the polls on May 18, I expect the cross-preferencing arrangement to benefit both the LNP and the UAP.

Palmer may not win any lower house seats, but his preferences might determine who does in up to 20 seats. If his electoral support continues to grow, he may well secure two or three senate positions, almost back to where he was in 2013.

But he is coming under widespread attack as an illegitimate player by many commentators and media outlets as well as his political opponents. Most of the major papers and TV news outlets regularly slam his antics (Google “Clive Palmer’s Criticism”).

The key perhaps to understanding Palmer’s gravity-defying electoral support is that he is a “positive populist” rather than a largely negative populist along the lines of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, who has based her own protectionist stance much more explicitly on race and xenophobia. Indeed, Palmer eschews the racist policies and dog-whistling his rival right-of-centre competitors have delivered, including One Nation and Fraser Anning’s Conservatives.

Palmer carefully tailors his positive populist messages to appreciative audiences: his line that “something must be done” has resonated.

Certainly, some of Palmer’s electoral support at the ballot box will be simply a protest vote (and he will be aware of that). But perhaps some greater proportion will be voting for more genuine diversity from what the cartelised major parties are offering. Australia seems ripe for a more serious positive populism offered by Palmer and his UAP. The ultimate question will be whether the wheels will again fall of the wagon.

And what after the election? Palmer’s boast that he will form government is fanciful. He has long been anti-Labor and in this election is not directing preferences their way, so he may be well and truly ostracised by Labor if it wins office.

Alternatively, if the Coalition scrapes back in it will be partly obligated to his preferences and will have to accommodate whoever the UAP manages to get into parliament.

The last time Palmer held this power his influence quickly waned as his “team” mostly abandoned him. We will soon see if he has learnt from bitter experience.


This article is adapted from an earlier piece published in The Machinery of Government.The Conversation

John Wanna, Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration, Australian National University

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

Explainer: how does preferential voting work in the House of Representatives?


Stephen Morey, La Trobe University

At the May 18 federal election, voters in every electorate of Australia’s House of Representatives will have a choice of multiple candidates. Preferential voting means that we rank candidates in the order that we prefer them.

So, how does preferential voting work?

Voters must number every box on the ballot paper. You can number them in any order, but you must number each of them. So if there are eight candidates, you must number one to eight inclusive.




Read more:
How much influence will independents and minor parties have this election? Please explain


You don’t have to follow how-to-vote cards

Supporters of political parties hand out “how-to-vote” cards that advise voters how to fill out their preferences, but you certainly don’t have to follow them. You can still vote “1” for that party’s candidate, but change the order of your later preferences.

For example, suppose you want to vote for the candidate of the Liberal Party, and it recommends that you vote “1” Liberal and “2” for the candidate of the United Australia Party (UAP), led by Clive Palmer. If you don’t like the UAP, you can still vote Liberal “1”, and mark your other preferences in any order you choose.

As long as each candidate receives a different preference, your vote is formal (valid). And as long as you vote “1” for the Liberal party candidate, your vote is still a full vote for the Liberals.

What a valid vote looks like

Let’s take an imaginary electorate that has the following candidates.

Below are a number of possible ballots:

  • in column A we show a ballot for the Liberal Party candidate that next preferences the National Party, then the United Australia (Clive Palmer’s party), and then the Christian Democrats. Note that all eight boxes must be marked

  • in Column B we show a ballot for the ALP candidate

  • in Column C a ballot for the Greens candidate that next preferences the Animal Justice candidate, and then the Liberal candidate.

All those ballots are formal, because they mark all the numbers on the ballot paper in sequence.

If a ballot paper repeats a number or does not number each of the boxes, then it is informal and cannot be counted. So all voters are advised to be careful, and number each of the boxes on the ballot.




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More grey tsunami than youthquake: despite record youth enrolments, Australia’s voter base is ageing


Key mistakes to avoid

Here are some examples of informal ballot papers that cannot be counted.

  • in Column D, the numeral “5” is repeated, so the ballot is informal

  • in Column E, two boxes are unmarked, so that ballot is also informal

  • in Column F, there is gap in what should be a sequence of consecutive numerals, so that ballot is also informal.

Why do we have preferential voting?

The basis for preferential voting is that the winning candidate must receive at least 50%, plus one vote, to be elected. In other words, the winning candidate is supported by at least half the voters.

The candidate who has the highest number of votes at the first stage of the count (first preferences) does not necessarily win. It can happen that a candidate with fewer first preferences, nevertheless goes on to win. The most notable case was at the 1972 election in the federal division of McMillan, in rural Victoria:

Although the Labor candidate had received the highest number of first preference votes, he did not reach 50% and was not elected.

Because of that, the candidate with the smallest number of votes, Buchanan, was excluded from the count, and the second preference of each of his ballot papers was transferred, with the same effect as first preferences, to the candidate marked “2”.

This left four candidates in the count. If, at this point in the count, the cumulative total of one of the candidates continuing in the count had exceeded 50% of all ballots, that candidate would be declared elected.

That did not happen, so the continuing candidate with the fewest votes, Houlihan, was excluded. That led to the transfer of Houlihan’s ballots to the candidates marked as the next available preference.




Read more:
A matter of (mis)trust: why this election is posing problems for the media


When both Buchanan and Houlihan had been excluded and their ballots transferred, the third count was as follows:

Because Barrie Armitage was now the lowest-polling candidate, he was excluded from the count, and his ballots were transferred to the two continuing candidates, according to the next available preference on each ballot. The final result was:

Note that the winning candidate is not necessarily the same as the candidate that received the most first preference votes. The preferential system ensures that the candidate elected is the one preferred by the majority in each electorate.

In the case of McMillan in 1972, Henry Hewson was the candidate preferred by the majority. The full details of this count can be found on the excellent Psephos website

In Australia, thanks to preferential voting, our House of Representatives members are each elected by an absolute majority of the voters in the electorate they represent.The Conversation

Stephen Morey, Senior Lecturer, Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University

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

Facebook videos, targeted texts and Clive Palmer memes: how digital advertising is shaping this election campaign


Andrew Hughes, Australian National University

This year’s election will be the first in Australia where the parties will be advertising more on social and digital platforms than traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines).

There are a few key reasons for this. First, cost-wise, social media is far cheaper, sometimes as low as a few cents per click. Unlike heritage media, digital and social is extremely targeted, and can be done in the “dark,” so your opponents may not even be aware of the message you are pushing out.

Digital and social advertising can also be shared or even created by users themselves, further increasing the reach of a party’s messaging. This gets around the Australian Electoral Commission rules on advertising – technically they are not ads since no party is paying for them to be shared on people’s feeds.

Throw into the mix laws on political advertising – which allow parties to advertise up to and on election day on social media, but not traditional media – and we are likely seeing the first largely digitally driven election campaign in Australian political history.




Read more:
Election explainer: what are the rules governing political advertising?


Here are a few ways the parties are using advertising in the campaign so far and what makes this election unique:

What you can do with A$30 million

Among all the candidates running this year, perhaps no one has used political advertising as prolifically as Clive Palmer. This shows what money can buy.

The most recent Nielsen figures put the cost of Palmer’s ads since September at around A$30 million, though Palmer says himself he’s spent at least A$50 million. This compares to just A$16 million spent in total advertising during the last federal election, with Labor and the Coalition accounting for more than 90% of that.

From a campaign perspective, Palmer is ticking many of the right boxes: a mix of different platforms on digital and social; heritage media ads for mass market awareness featuring candidates selected from the middle; the use of memes and user-generated content; and even text messaging.

This United Australia Party ad has over 2.4 million views on YouTube thus far, making it the most viewed election ad on the platform.

Despite the ubiquity of his ads, though, Palmer is still struggling to connect with most voters. This demonstrates a very important aspect to any advertising campaign: the actual brand still needs to be seen as offering real value to voters.

The UAP has used text messaging like this one below, for example, to try to change its negative perception with voters by delivering positive campaign promises.

UAP text message advertisement.
ABC

The ‘Grim Reaper’ strategy and micro-targeting

One of the most effective ads ever done in Australia was the “Grim Reaper” AIDS awareness campaign in 1987, which showed how well “scare campaigns” and negative messaging can work, given the right context and framing. The ad’s micro-messaging was another aspect that worked so well: it personalised the issue and made it tangible to anyone sexually active.

Basically, negative messaging works on the theory that what you fear, you will avoid – or the “fight or flight response”. Negative political ads highlight the level of risk and consequence of a certain party’s policies – and then emphasise how to avoid this by not voting for them.




Read more:
Why scare campaigns like ‘Mediscare’ work – even if voters hate them


Trouble is, most ads on TV are losing their potency. As attitudes towards political messaging and brands become increasingly negative, voters are less likely to watch ads in their entirety. Many people also don’t see them as being personally relevant.

Social media, though, provides an excellent delivery mechanism for these types of messages. Digital ads can be personalised and focused on issues that voters have already expressed an interest in and therefore find relevant to their lives.

Personalised messaging from the LNP on Facebook, targeting voters in the seat of Ryan in western Brisbane.
Facebook Ad Library

Social media ads can also be altered to be even more targeted as the campaign goes on, based on voter responses. And their speed of production – only taking a matter of hours to produce and place online – allows digital advertising to do what heritage no longer can and provide a more fluid, grassroots dynamic to campaigning.

This ad by Labor featuring Prime Minister Scott Morrison in bed with Palmer, for example, was released on social media within 24 hours of the preference deal struck between the Coalition and Palmer’s UAP.

Labor’s Facebook ad depicting Scott Morrison in bed with the UAP’s Clive Palmer over their preference dealing.
Facebook/Click here to watch the video

That said, even on social media, negative advertising is not as effective if it just comes from the party itself. But when combined with information from third-party sources, such as from the media, this can increase the effectiveness. For example, the Liberal Party used the 10 Network image in this ad to support its claims on Labor’s tax policies.


Facebook Ad Library

Youth engagement

Youth voter enrolment is at an all-time high in Australia, driven, in part, by engagement and participation in the marriage equality plebiscite in 2017.

The major parties are aware of this and are creating ads specifically targeting this demographic on Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram. Some of these are “dark social” ads (meaning they can only be seen by the target market) or are user-made so not to be subject to disclosure rules.

For more general audiences, Labor has created ads like this one on Facebook that highlight issues young voters are concerned about, such as wage increases and penalty rates. Ads like this also attempt to engage with these voters by asking them to sign petitions – a form of experiential marketing that’s proved highly effective with young audiences, as seen through platforms such as Change.org.

Labor Facebook ad inviting voters to sign a petition demanding a higher wage.
Facebook Ad Library

Groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition are tapping into experiential marketing by combining online advertising with a call for offline action on issues that appeal to young voters, such as climate change. Part-rock concert, part-protest, these events might remind some of the rallies that proved so popular during the Gough Whitlam era.

The AYCC is using a combination of online and offline strategies to engage with young voters.
Facebook Ad Library

The increasing influence of lobbying groups

One of the more interesting developments of this election so far is the increasing sophistication, knowledge and strategies of political lobbying groups, or Australia’s equivalent to America’s PACs.

GetUp! is one such group, collecting A$12.8 million in donations in the last 12 months alone. Among the group’s tactics are direct phone calls to voters, partly achieved through “phone parties” where volunteers freely offer their time, phones and other resources to call people in targeted electorates. GetUp! has a goal of making 1 million phone calls in the lead-up to the election.

A GetUp! video ad encouraging voters to host ‘calling parties’

Other well-funded groups, such as the right-aligned Advance Australia, are also seeking to influence the narrative in the election, particularly in electorates like Warringah, where it has released ads against Tony Abbott’s challenger, Zali Steggall.

In part to counter the influence of lobbying groups, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has launched its own advertising campaign featuring working Australians describing how hard it is to make ends meet.

The ACTU’s “Change the Government, Change the Rules” campaign.

The rise of these groups in Australian politics opens a Pandora’s Box on just who can influence elections without even standing a single candidate – an issue that’s becoming part of politics now in many Western democracies. As many in politics would know, where there is money, there is power, and where there is power, there are those who are seeking to influence it.The Conversation

Andrew Hughes, Lecturer, Research School of Management, Australian National University

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

View from The Hill: Victorian Liberal candidates find social media footprints lethal


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Whether or not it’s some sort of record, the Liberals’ loss of two Victorian candidates in a single day is way beyond what Oscar Wilde would have dubbed carelessness.

Already struggling in that state, the Victorian Liberals managed to select one candidate who, judged on his words, was an appalling Islamophobe and another who was an out-and-out homophobe.

The comments that have brought them down weren’t made in the distant past – they date from last year.

Jeremy Hearn was disendorsed as the party’s candidate for the Labor seat of Isaacs, after it came to light that he had written, among other things, that a Muslim was someone who subscribed to an ideology requiring “killing or enslavement of the citizens of Australia if they do not become Muslim”. This was posted in February 2018.

Peter Killin, who was standing in Wills, withdrew over a comment (in reply to another commenter) he posted in December that included suggesting Liberal MP Tim Wilson should not have been preselected because he’s gay.

Scott Morrison rather quaintly explained the unfortunate choice of Killin by saying “he was a very recent candidate who came in because we weren’t able to continue with the other candidate because of section 44 issues”.

Oops and oops again. First the Victorian Liberals pick someone who didn’t qualify legally and then they replaced that candidate with one who didn’t qualify under any reasonable test of community standards.




Read more:
Politics with Michelle Grattan: Tim Colebatch on the battle in Victoria – and the Senate


It’s not just the Liberals with problems of candidates with unacceptable views, or bad behaviour.

Labor’s Northern Territory number 2 Senate candidate Wayne Kurnoth, who shared anti-Semitic material on social media, recently stood down. Bill Shorten embarrassed himself on Wednesday by saying he hadn’t met the man, despite having been filmed with him.

Then there’s the case of Luke Creasey, the Labor candidate running in Melbourne, which is held by Greens Adam Bandt, who shared rape jokes and pornographic material on social media. He has done a mea culpa, saying his actions happened “a number of years ago” and “in no way reflect the views I hold today”. Creasey still has his endorsement. Labor Senate leader Penny Wong has defended him, including by distinguishing between a “mistake” and “prejudice”.

It should be remembered that, given the post-nomination timing, these latest candidates unloaded by their parties have not lost their spots or their party designations on the ballot paper.

As Antony Green wrote when a NSW Liberal candidate had to withdraw during the state election (after a previous association with an online forum which reportedly engaged in unsavoury jokes) “the election goes ahead as if nothing had happened”.

It won’t occur this time, but recall the Pauline Hanson experience. In 1996, the Liberals disendorsed Hanson for racist remarks but she remained on the ballot paper with the party moniker. She was duly elected – and no doubt quite a few voters had thought she was the official Liberal candidate.

What goes around comes around – sort of.

This week Hanson’s number 2 Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson, quit all his party positions after footage emerged of his groping and denigrating language at a Washington strip club. But Dickson is still on the Senate ballot paper.

While the latest major party candidates have been dumped for their views, this election has produced a large number of candidates who clearly appear to be legally ineligible to sit in parliament.

Their presence is despite the fact that, after the horrors of the constitution’s section 44 during the last parliament, candidates now have to provide extensive details for the Australian Electoral Commission about their eligibility.

Although the AEC does not have any role of enforcing eligibility, the availability of this data makes it easier in many cases to spot candidates who have legal question marks.

Most of the legally-dubious candidates have come from minor parties, and these parties, especially One Nation, Palmer’s United Australia Party and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party are getting close media attention.

When the major parties discovered prospective candidates who would hit a section 44 hurdle – and there have been several – they quickly replaced them.

But the minor parties don’t seem too worried about eligibility. While most of these people wouldn’t have a hope in hell of being elected, on one legal view there is a danger of a High Court challenge if someone was elected on the preferences of an ineligible candidate.

The section 44 problems reinforce the need to properly fix the constitution, as I have argued before. It will be a miracle if it doesn’t cause issues in the next parliament, because in more obscure cases a problem may not be easy to spot.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Section 44 remains a constitutional trip wire that should be addressed


But what of those with beyond-the-pale views?

At one level the fate of the two Victorian Liberal candidates carries the obvious lesson for aspirants: be careful what you post on social media, and delete old posts.

That’s the expedient point. These candidates were caught out by what they put, and left, online.

But there is a deeper issue. Surely vetting of candidates standing for major parties must properly require a very thorough examination of their views and character.

Admittedly sometimes decisions will not be easy – judgements have to be made, including a certain allowance in the case of things said or done a long time before (not applicable with the two in question).

But whether it is the factional nature of the Victorian division to blame for allowing these candidates to get through, or the inattention of the party’s powers-that-be (or likely a combination of both) it’s obvious that something went badly wrong.

That they were in unwinnable seats (despite Isaacs being on a small margin) should be irrelevant. All those who carry the Liberal banner should be espousing values in line with their party, which does after all claim to put “values” at the heart of its philosophy. The same, of course, goes for Labor.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.