View from The Hill: The uncivil Mr Jones


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The row over shock jock Alan Jones and what will be displayed on the Sydney Opera House sails about The Everest horse race involves two sets of issues.

One is around whether it is appropriate to use this Sydney icon as an advertising hoarding.

The other is the appalling, but typical, behaviour of Jones and the weak, but probably not surprising, capitulation of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to the pressure of the racing industry, which had its arm strengthened by this bullying presenter from 2GB.

The details of the row are now familiar. Racing NSW wanted a full ad for The Everest’s Tuesday barrier draw on the lit-up sails; the Opera House resisted, saying it would only show the jockeys’ colours; Jones abused Opera House CEO Louise Herron on air on Friday; the Premier later that day overrode Herron and gave Racing NSW and Jones most of what was being demanded.

The broad question of ads on the Opera House seems to me less important than Jones’ behaviour and the state government’s abject falling into line with the demands made by Racing NSW.

Some people have no problem with the Opera House being used for advertising. They don’t subscribe to the view that it’s low rent to turn this World Heritage structure to commercial purposes, nor do they comprehend the fuss about having it as part of the promotion of a particular (mega rich) horse race – as distinct, say, from an Australian national team.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said on Friday that “people should chill out a bit. The fact is that this race is beamed around the world. People do associate Sydney with the Sydney Opera House”.

On a unity ticket with “Albo”, “ScoMo” doesn’t understand “why people are getting so precious about it”. For the man remembered for the “So where the bloody hell are you?” campaign, this is “just common sense”.

“This is one of the biggest events of the year,” Morrison said on Sunday. “Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has? These events generate massive economic opportunities for the state, for the city.”

There may be room for argument about the promotional issue but not about Jones’ interview.

The full horror of that tirade has to be heard to be believed – with its haranguing, denigration, abuse and threats.

Jones, with close personal connections to the racing industry, injected into it maximum nastiness and minimum civility. Herron probably should have told him to call back when he’d found his manners and hung up. But she didn’t.

It was of course Jones displaying one aspect of his trademark. He and others of his ilk use insult and aggression as part of their “brand”, whether in interviews or in commentary.

Over the years, Jones has got away with an extraordinary amount –
although recently a court caught up with him when he and 2GB lost a
huge defamation case
over claims he made about the Wagner family being responsible for deaths in the 2011 Grantham floods.

Imre Salusinszky, who was press secretary to former NSW premier Mike Baird, has written about how the shock jocks and the tabloid media wield their power at NSW state level.

The Howard government felt it had to manage Jones as best it could (as does the present NSW government). There was a Howard staffer whose remit included dealing with the Jones demands and complaints.

I recall a minister who’d been in that government later telling me how he’d given in to Jones on a certain matter just to get him off his back (after checking with advisers that to do so wouldn’t create any harm).

Jones insulted Malcolm Turnbull when the latter was communication minister, but Turnbull fought back and then refused to go on air with him. Until the 2016 election campaign, that is – when then prime minister Turnbull felt he had to have a brief rapprochement with his bete noire.

By her action on Friday, Berejiklian reinforced the perception that the politicians are scared of a bully who rages from his studio pulpit.

But according to social researcher Rebecca Huntley, they have less to fear than often thought. “15 years of research and I haven’t found Alan Jones to be that much more influential with voters than ABC radio or the SMH. He is only powerful because politicians think he is, ” she tweeted.

Berejiklian on Sunday defended the outcome, saying it was “at the back end of the decision-making process” – Racing NSW had earlier reportedly wanted to drape banners from the Harbour Bridge – and a “good compromise”.

The NSW government claims that Friday’s decision was not a reaction to Jones’ diatribe but the culmination of negotiations that had been underway for some while.

Nevertheless, it represented the premier’s cave-in to Racing NSW and came across as a victory for Jones’ bullying.

Now that a discussion of “bullying” in various situations is the flavour of public debate, isn’t it time that the media who run Jones’ programs (2GB is majority owned by Fairfax) imposed some standards and the politicians who listen to him grew some spine?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.

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Poll wrap: Phelps slumps to third in Wentworth; Trump’s ratings up after fight over Kavanaugh



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Independent Kerryn Phelps has slumped in the polls ahead of the Wentworth byelection, which was likely caused by changing her position on preferences.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

The Wentworth byelection will be held on October 20. A ReachTEL poll for independent Licia Heath’s campaign, conducted September 27 from a sample of 727, gave the Liberals’ Dave Sharma 40.6% of the primary vote, Labor’s Tim Murray 19.5%, independent Kerryn Phelps 16.9%, Heath 9.4%, the Greens 6.2%, all Others 1.8% and 5.6% were undecided.

According to The Poll Bludger, if undecided voters were excluded, primary votes would be 43.0% Sharma, 20.7% Murray, 17.9% Phelps, 10.0% Heath and 6.6% Greens. Compared to a September 17 ReachTEL poll for GetUp!, which you can read about on my personal website, primary vote changes were Sharma up 3.7%, Murray up 3.3%, Phelps down 4.8%, Heath up 5.6% and Greens down 6.0%. Phelps fell from second behind Sharma to third behind Murray and Sharma.

Between the two ReachTEL polls, Phelps announced on September 21 that she would recommend preferences to the Liberals ahead of Labor, backflipping on her previous position of putting the Liberals last. It is likely this caused her slump.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor drops in Newspoll but still has large lead; NSW ReachTEL poll tied 50-50


While more likely/less likely to vote a certain way questions always overstate the impact of an issue, it is nevertheless bad for Phelps that 50% of her own voters said they were less likely to vote for her as a result of the preference decision.

This ReachTEL poll was released by the Heath campaign as it showed her gaining ground. Heath appears to have gained from the Greens, and the endorsement of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore could further benefit her.

Despite the primary vote gain for Sharma, he led Murray by just 51-49 on a two candidate basis, a one-point gain for Murray since the September 17 ReachTEL. The Poll Bludger estimated Murray would need over three-quarters of all independent and minor party preferences to come this close to Sharma.

At the 2016 election, Malcolm Turnbull won 62.3% of the primary vote in Wentworth. While the Liberals’ primary vote in this poll is about 19% below Turnbull, it is recovering to a winning position.

Trump, Republicans gain in fight over Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation

On July 9, Trump nominated hard-right judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring centre-right judge Anthony Kennedy. The right currently has a 5-4 Supreme Court majority, but Kennedy and John Roberts have occasionally voted with the left. If Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, it will give the right a clearer Supreme Court majority. Supreme Court judges are lifetime appointments.

Although Kavanaugh is a polarising figure, he looked very likely to be confirmed by the narrow 51-49 Republican majority Senate until recent sexual assault allegations occurred. Since September 16, three women have publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when he was a high school or university student.

On September 27, both Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On September 28, without calling additional accusers, the Committee favourably reported Kavanaugh by an 11-10 majority, with all 11 Republicans – all men – voting in favour.

However, after pressure from two Republican senators, the full Senate confirmation vote was delayed for a week to allow an FBI investigation. The Senate received the FBI’s findings on Thursday, and the investigation did not corroborate Ford. Democrats have labelled the report a “whitewash”, but it appears to have satisfied the doubting Republican senators, and Kavanaugh is very likely to be confirmed.

Since the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh began, Trump’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate have recovered to about a 42% approval rating, from 40% in mid-September. Democrats’ position in the race for Congress has deteriorated to a 7.7 point lead, down from 9.1 points in mid-September.

Midterm elections for all of the US House and 35 of the 100 Senators will be held on November 6. Owing to natural clustering of Democratic votes and Republican gerrymandering, Democrats probably need to win the House popular vote by six to seven points to take control.

While the House map is difficult for Democrats, the Senate is far worse. Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats and Republicans just nine, Five of the states Democrats are defending voted for Trump in 2016 by at least 18 points. Two polls this week in one of those big Trump states, North Dakota, gave Republicans double digit leads over the Democratic incumbent.




Read more:
Polls update: Trump’s ratings held up by US economy; Australian polls steady


The FiveThirtyEight forecast models give Democrats a 74% chance of gaining control of the House, but just a 22% chance in the Senate.

Republican gains in the polls are likely due to polarisation over Kavanaugh. In a recent Quinnipiac University national poll, voters did not think Kavanaugh should be confirmed – by a net six-point margin – but Trump’s handling of Kavanaugh was at -7 net approval. Democrats led Republicans by seven points, and Trump’s overall net approval was -12. Kavanaugh was more unpopular than in the previous Quinnipiac poll, but Trump and Republicans were more popular.

The hope for Democrats is that once the Kavanaugh issue is resolved, they can refocus attention on issues such as healthcare and the Robert Mueller investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. However, the strong US economy assists Trump and the Republicans.

In brief: contest between left and far right in Brazil, conservative breakthrough win in Quebec, Canada

The Brazil presidential election will be held in two rounds, on October 7 and 28. If no candidate wins over 50% in the October 7 first round, the top two proceed to a runoff.

The left-wing Workers’ Party has won the last four presidential elections from 2002 to 2014, but incumbent President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August 2016, and replaced by conservative Vice President Michel Temer.

Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad and far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro are virtually certain to advance to the runoff. Bolsonaro has made sympathetic comments about Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. Runoff polling shows a close contest.

In the Canadian province of Quebec, a conservative party won an election for the first time since 1966.

You can read more about the Brazil and Quebec elections at my personal website.The Conversation

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

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

Privatising WestConnex is the biggest waste of public funds for corporate gain in Australian history



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Gladys Berejiklian’s government will pay for much of WestConnex construction, give away other toll roads, guarantee annual toll increases and force motorists to use the toll road.
AAP Image/Joel Carrett

Christopher Standen, University of Sydney

The NSW government has confirmed it will sell 51% of WestConnex — the nation’s biggest road infrastructure project — to a consortium led by Transurban, the nation’s biggest toll road corporation.

NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet described the A$9.3 billion sale to one of his party’s more generous donors as a “very strong result”.

I would describe it differently: the biggest misuse of public funds for corporate gain in Australia’s history.

Let’s examine how much public funding has been or will be sunk into WestConnex, a 33km toll road linking western Sydney with southwestern Sydney via the inner west.

Privatising Westconnex will return the NSW government 30 cents for every dollar of public money spent.
WestConnex Business Case Executive Summary

To date, the NSW and federal governments have provided grants of about $6 billion. Much of this was raised through selling revenue-generating public assets, including NSW’s electricity network.

Hiding privatisation by stealth

As well, the NSW government is bundling three publicly owned motorways into the sale: the M4 (between Parramatta and Homebush), the M5 East and the M5 Southwest (from 2026). Together, Credit Suisse values these public assets at A$9.2 billion. The government is privatising them by stealth. Leaked NSW cabinet documents suggest the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be next.

Then there is the A$1.5 billion bill for property acquisitions and the millions spent on planning, advertising, consultants, lawyers and bankers.

The government is funding extra road works to help prop up WestConnex toll revenue. It will increase the capacity of road corridors feeding into the interchanges. But it will reduce the number of traffic lanes on roads competing with WestConnex, such as Parramatta Road.




Read more:
Modelling for major road projects is at odds with driver behaviour


It will also pick up the bill for building a A$2.6 billion airport connection and the complex underground interchange at Rozelle. It will even pay compensation if the latter is not completed on schedule.

To further bolster toll revenue, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian introduced a vehicle registration cashback scheme for toll-road users.

Her government has also committed to continuing the M5 Southwest toll cashback scheme. The cost of these incentives to the public purse is likely to exceed A$2 billion every ten years.

In total, I estimate the NSW government is pumping more than A$23 billion worth of cash, public assets, enabling works and incentives into WestConnex — though efforts to shield the scheme from public scrutiny mean the figure could be much higher.

Finally, as part of the deal with Transurban, the government has agreed to plough A$5.3 billion of the sale proceeds back into WestConnex. It’s recouping just A$4 billion by selling majority ownership.

This translates to a financial return of 34 cents for every dollar spent.

Government expenses and receipts.

Of course, governments don’t always spend our money with the intention of making a profit. Usually there are broader social benefits that justify the expenditure. However, past experience shows inner-city motorways do more harm than good — which is why many cities around the world are demolishing them.

Given its proximity to residential areas, WestConnex will have serious impacts on Sydney’s population. Construction is already destroying communities, harming people’s health and disrupting sleep and travel — with years more to come.

Motorists who cannot afford the new tolls on the M4 ($2,300 a year) and M5 East ($3,100 a year) will have to switch to congested suburban roads. This will mean longer journey times — especially with the removal of traffic lanes on Parramatta Road.

New tolls on existing motorways.

Those who do opt to pay the new tolls may enjoy faster journeys for a few years — until the motorways fill up again.

Costs outweigh the benefits

But this benefit will be largely cancelled out by the tolls they have to pay — with low-income households in western Sydney bearing much of the pain. As such, the ultimate beneficiary will be a corporation that pays no company tax and employs very few people.

Traffic and congestion on roads around the interchanges will increase significantly. Moreover, with tolls for trucks three times those for cars, we can expect to see them switching to suburban and residential streets — especially between peak hours and at night.

The extra traffic created by WestConnex will lead to more road trauma, traffic noise and air pollution across the Sydney metropolitan area. With unfiltered smokestacks being built next to homes and schools, more people may be at risk of heart disease, lung disease and cancer in years to come.




Read more:
Big road projects don’t really save time or boost productivity


On any measure, the WestConnex sale is not in the public interest. The billions of dollars ploughed into the scheme would have been better spent on worthwhile infrastructure or services that improve people’s lives.

Is the WestConnex acquisition a good deal for Transurban? A$9.3 billion may sound like a high price, given the past financial collapses of other Australian toll roads.

However, with the Berejiklian government agreeing to fund most of the remaining construction, giving away the M4 and M5, guaranteeing annual toll increases of at least 4%, and bending over backwards to force motorists under the toll gantries, it can only be described as a “very strong result” for the consortium, though not for taxpayers.The Conversation

Christopher Standen, Transport Analyst, University of Sydney

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

Poll wrap: Labor drops in Newspoll but still has large lead; NSW ReachTEL poll tied 50-50



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Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to be enjoying a honeymoon period, with the Coalition up two points on two-party preferred in the latest Newspoll.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted September 20-23 from a sample of 1,680, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 39% Labor (down three), 36% Coalition (up two), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady).

This is the Coalition’s 41st successive Newspoll loss. In Malcolm Turnbull’s last four Newspolls as PM, the Coalition trailed Labor by just 51-49. In Scott Morrison’s first three as PM, Labor has had two 56-44 leads followed by a 54-46 lead. This Newspoll contrasts with last week’s Ipsos, which gave Labor just 31% of the primary vote and the Greens 15%.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor’s lead shrinks in federal Ipsos, but grows in Victorian Galaxy; Trump’s ratings slip


44% were satisfied with Morrison (up three) and 39% were dissatisfied (steady), for a net approval of +5. After rising ten points last fortnight, Bill Shorten’s net approval slumped eight points this week to -22. Morrison led Shorten as better PM by 45-32 (43-37 last fortnight). Morrison also led Shorten by 46-31 on who is the more “authentic” leader.

Morrison is currently benefiting from a personal ratings “honeymoon” effect, while Shorten’s honeymoon is long over. However, Morrison’s ratings are far worse than for Turnbull’s first two Newspolls as PM, with Turnbull’s net approval at +18 then +25, compared with Morrison’s +2 and +5. Honeymoon polling is not predictive of the PM’s long-term ratings.

On September 5, the ABS reported that the Australian economy grew by 0.9% in the June quarter for a 3.4% annual growth rate in the year to June. On September 13, the ABS reported that 44,000 jobs were created in August in seasonally-adjusted terms, with the unemployment rate remaining at 5.3%.

Greg Jericho wrote in The Guardian that these figures are very good for the government. The narrowing of Labor’s lead to 51-49 in Turnbull’s last four Newspolls as PM probably reflected good economic news as well as a period where the Coalition was relatively unified.

Given Morrison’s relatively good personal ratings and the economy, the Coalition is performing far worse than would be expected on voting intentions. In the US, Donald Trump’s ratings are far worse than they should be given the strength of the US economy. Perhaps being very right-wing is not a vote winner.




Read more:
Polls update: Trump’s ratings held up by US economy; Australian polls steady


Essential poll: 53-47 to Labor

This week’s Essential poll, conducted September 20-23 from a sample of 1,030, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, a one-point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up one), 36% Labor (down one) 12% Greens (up two) and 5% One Nation (down three).

Essential is using 2016 election preferences for its two party estimates, while Newspoll assigns One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the Coalition. Essential has probably been rounded down to 53% to Labor this week, while Newspoll has been rounded up to 54%.

70% in Essential had at least some trust in the federal police, 67% in the state police, 61% in the High Court and 54% in the ABC. At the bottom, 28% had at least some trust in federal parliament and in religious organisations, 25% in trade unions and just 15% in political parties. Since October 2017, trust in local councils is up four points, but trust in political parties is down three.

By 61-21, voters would support the Liberals adopting quotas to increase the number of Liberal women in parliament. By 37-26, voters would support a new law enshrining religious freedoms, but most people would currently have no idea what this debate is about.

45% thought corruption was widespread in politics, with 36% saying the same about the banking and finance sector, 29% about unions and 25% about large corporations. The establishment of an independent federal corruption body was supported by an overwhelming 82-5.

By 78-14, voters agreed that there should be laws requiring equal pay for men and women in the same position. However, voters also agreed 47-44 that gender equality has come far enough already.

53% approve of constitutional amendment to separate government and religion

The NSW Rationalists commissioned YouGov Galaxy, which also does Newspoll, for a poll question about separation of government and religion. The survey was conducted from August 30 to September 3 from a national sample of 1,027.

The question asked was, “Australia has no formal recognition of separation of government and religion. Would you approve or disapprove of a constitutional amendment to formally separate government and religion?”

53% approved of such an amendment, just 14% disapproved and 32% were unsure. Morrison advocates new laws to protect religious freedom, but this poll question does not suggest there is any yearning within Australia for more religion. The same-sex marriage plebiscite, in which Yes to SSM won by 61.6% to 38.4%, was a huge defeat for social conservatism.

More results and analysis are on my personal website.

Phelps to preference Liberals in Wentworth

The Wentworth byelection will be held on October 20. On September 21, high-profile independent candidate Kerryn Phelps announced that she would recommend preferences to the Liberals. Just five days earlier, Phelps had said voters should put the Liberals last.

Until her preference decision, Phelps had appeared to be a left-wing independent candidate, but Wentworth is unlikely to be won from the left. This decision will cost Phelps left-wing support; the question is whether she wins over enough right-wing voters who dislike the Liberals or the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma, to compensate for the loss of left-wing voters.

By backflipping on the “put the Liberals last” message, Phelps has made an issue of her preferences that may dog her for the rest of the campaign.

Phelps’ preferences will not be distributed if she finishes first or second, and Labor preferences will still assist her against the Liberals. If primary votes have Sharma well ahead, and Labor and Phelps in a close race for second, Phelps is now more likely to be excluded owing to Greens preferences. If the final two are the Liberals and Labor, Phelps’ preferences will help the Liberals, relative to her previous position of putting them last.

NSW ReachTEL poll: 50-50 tie

The New South Wales election will be held in March 2019. The first state poll in six months is a ReachTEL poll for The Sun-Herald, conducted September 20 from a sample of 1,630. The Coalition and Labor were tied at 50-50 by 2015 election preference flows, a two-point gain for Labor since a March ReachTEL.

Primary votes were 35.1% Coalition (down 6.8%), 31.5% Labor (down 1.0%), 10.2% Greens (up 0.8%), 6.1% Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, 4.2% One Nation (down 0.9%), 7.0% for all Others and 5.9% undecided. If undecided voters are excluded, primary votes become 37.3% Coalition, 33.5% Labor, 10.8% Greens, 6.5% Shooters and 4.5% One Nation.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley had a very narrow 50.2-49.8 lead over incumbent Gladys Berejiklian as better premier, a 2.5% gain for Foley since March. ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM/Premier questions usually give opposition leaders better results than polls that do not use a forced choice.

It is likely that the federal leadership crisis had some impact on NSW state polling, but we do not know how much, as the last NSW state poll was in March.

As I wrote last week, independent Joe McGirr defeated the Liberals in the September 8 Wagga Wagga byelection by a 59.6-40.4 margin. The Labor vs Liberal two party vote gave Labor a narrow 50.1-49.9 win, a 13.0% swing to Labor since the 2015 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.

View from The Hill: Morrison faces the challenge of community-based candidate in Wentworth


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Now that Kerryn Phelps has confirmed she’s running as an independent in Wentworth, the battle is set up as a fascinating test between the campaigning skills of a tyro prime minister and the attraction of a community-based candidate.

The backdrop is a disillusioned, sour electorate – in the seat itself and in the wider Australian voterland, with people fed up with politicians, especially those from the big parties.

Phelps enters the contest with a lot of advantages. She has a medical practice in Wentworth (she lived there for most of the past 20 years until the 2016 redistribution pushed her a stone’s throw outside the
boundary). She has strong brand recognition as a Sydney city councillor, a former president of the Australian Medical Association, and an activist in the marriage equality campaign.

Morrison has a well-qualified candidate in Dave Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, but not the female candidate he’d have preferred, nor someone with local ties. There will be plenty of money behind the Liberal campaign. But Morrison faces voters who, even more
than the nation, are asking the “why?” question – why was Turnbull, their local member and their PM, tossed out?

For Phelps the byelection is obviously important but for Morrison, it is critical. If Wentworth is lost, there goes the Coalition’s majority. There could
be some paralysis and the fear in the ranks will increase enormously.

Morrison can talk down expectations all he likes – and he has learned from Turnbull’s failure to do so in Longman. But whatever dampener is applied, if this always-Liberal seat with a whopping 17.7% margin were to fall, it would be a devastating blow.

The contest will have a dress rehearsal aspect. Morrison’s style of campaigning and how well he goes over on the ground will be carefully watched for indications of his potential strengths or weaknesses come the main game next year.

In her first press conference Phelps stressed: “I’m not here as a destabilising influence. I’m here to bring integrity and stability to the political processes in Canberra.

“What I think is very important is that I say right from the outset – my intention is not to block supply.” (Though when asked by The Conversation about her attitude on the matter of confidence, she said that “depends on the government’s behaviour”.)

She told the news conference: “My intention is to give an independent voice to a lot of the concerns that the Australian people have, particularly about the policies that might come from the hard right of the Liberal party and the Coalition. What we need to hear is the voice of the people”.

Phelps is a version of the community candidates we have seen winning and retaining house seats in the last few years: Cathy McGowan (independent) in Indi, Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance, formerly called the Nick Xenophon Team) in Mayo, and Andrew Wilkie
(independent) in Denison.

While there are differences among those MPs politically, their electorates have continued to embrace them because they are seen as effective voices for their communities, people to be trusted in an age of distrust.

Phelps on Sunday articulated grievances Wentworth voters will have and their likely policy priorities. They were angry about what happened to Turnbull, and sick of the revolving door of leadership, she said.

She called for more action on climate change, a fast tracking of renewables and a more humane treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

“We need to see the people’s voice represented and not politicians who are simply spouting a party line or a party slogan”.

While the Liberals are worried about Phelps, ABC electoral analyst Antony Green casts some doubt on her prospects. “She has to get aquarter of the vote to even be in the race, and end up above Labor,who has picked a strong candidate,” he says.

As the Wentworth campaign gets underway a Fairfax Ipsos poll published in Fairfax papers on Monday has Labor leading the Coalition nationally on the two-party vote by 53% (down 2 points since August, when the government was under Turnbull) to the Coalition’s 47% (up 2
points).

Morrison is preferred as PM by 47% (down a point since August, when it was Turnbull), compared with 37% who prefer Bill Shorten (up one point).

It’s the familiar story: the public is supporting Labor but when it
comes to the leaders, they prefer anyone but Shorten – whether it was Turnbull or is Morrison.

Morrison, operating in the most difficult of circumstances with a divided party, is trying to get on the front foot in relation to issues of community concern and where possible jump ahead of them.

On Sunday he announced a royal commission into aged care.

Let’s put aside that this came a day ahead of an ABC’s Four Corners expose, and despite his minister Ken Wyatt telling Four Corners he would rather spend the money on front line services than a royal commission.

The royal commission is overdue and fully justified. Some of the stories coming out of aged care facilities are horrific.

The terms of reference have yet to be worked out, but Morrison said the inquiry would run at least until the second half of next year.

Shorten told the ABC Labor would support the royal commission but it had to cover “everything”, including staffing, training, and funding.

The public will want the inquiry to be wide, and the politicking to be minimal.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.

Grattan on Friday: Wentworth preselectors’ rebuff to Morrison caps week of mayhem


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Liberal preselectors of Wentworth delivered their new prime minister a humiliating public slapdown.

In selecting Dave Sharma, 42, former Australian ambassador to Israel and now a partner in an accountancy firm, as the candidate for the October 20 byelection, the preselectors have on all accounts chosen the best candidate.

But Scott Morrison had made it known he wanted a woman, a preference that’s been embarrassingly rejected. Katherine O’Regan, who was supposed to come out the winner, ran fifth.

Moreover, on Thursday it was learned that John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull were both encouraging Sharma to stay in the contest. So the two former prime ministers managed to do over the current prime minister.

The Wentworth Liberals, whose local member and PM was cut down, have had their revenge. The question now is whether the electors will also take theirs. Sharma has the potential to be an excellent MP. But he lives way outside the electorate, so he’ll start with a disadvantage against the high profile Kerryn Phelps, who is set to run as an independent.




Read more:
Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20


This week has recalled the worst of Labor’s days. Morrison’s attempt to move things on from the coup didn’t cut it, just like Julia Gillard found her wheels spinning when she tried to dig her government out of various bogs.

In a highly provocative move, Turnbull has been busy from New York lobbying to have cabinet minister Peter Dutton’s parliamentary eligibility referred the High Court, to determine whether an interest in a child care business through a trust could see him in breach of the constiution’s troublesome section 44.

Turnbull explained in a tweet:

Morrison brushed this aside, saying the public didn’t want the “lawyers’ picnic” to continue. But wishing it away won’t resolve a legitimate question that needs to be answered.

Never mind that Turnbull can be accused of malice; that he wasn’t worried about Dutton’s situation months ago, or that his government voted against referral.

Post coup, we are in a new era. A spurned Turnbull is off the leash. So is former Liberal deputy Julie Bishop who, when asked about her stance, was coy.

“If there’s a vote on that matter then I’ll make my mind up at that time, but of course we want clarity around the standing of all the members of parliament,” she said. Backbencher Bishop has been reborn as outspokenly independent.

An unhappy “ex” is dangerously liberated to cause trouble, whether they’re inside or outside parliament. Tony Abbott has been the model.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was also freelancing, accusing Turnbull of “an active campaign to try and remove us as the government”.

Turnbull quitting parliament has already delivered a major blow to his successor by triggering the byelection that, at worst, could put Morrison into minority government.

The legal opinion that Turnbull commissioned from the Solicitor-General during the leadership crisis has left sufficient uncertainty about Dutton’s eligibility to enable Turnbull to pursue the man who moved against him.

As we saw in the citizenship cases, this High Court takes a narrow view of section 44. Dutton might be on solid ground – as he insists and the Solicitor-General’s opinion supports. But doubt remains – as that opinion also concedes.

Labor is set to have a fresh try next week to refer Dutton to the court. The Herald Sun reports that two Liberals are considering voting with the opposition, a threat they’re making to push the government to take the matter into its own hands. The internal unease will be hard for Morrison to manage.

Bloodied by his unsuccessful power grab, Dutton is also still locked in an altercation with former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg about ministerial interventions on visas.

Holes have been shot in Quaedvlieg’s claims. But Dutton went over the top when he used parliamentary privilege to accuse Quaedvlieg – sacked for helping his girlfriend get a job – of “grooming” a girl 30 years his junior. Even his colleagues did a double take at the term.




Read more:
Dutton accuses Quaedvlieg of “grooming” a young woman, in new angry clash


Dutton’s Canberra troubles can’t be helping him in his battle to hold his very marginal Queensland seat of Dickson, where GetUp has him in its sights.

All in all, Dutton is a marked man. If he survives to serve in the next parliament, it will be remarkable. That he remains in cabinet in this one is notable.

Normally someone who’d caused so much damage to the party and himself would now be on the backbench. But Dutton had hardly warmed a seat there, after the first challenge, than he was back in Home Affairs following the second one.

Here is a paradox: he is damaged goods, but too powerful to cast aside. Or rather, his right-wing support base is too strong for him to be relegated.

If Morrison wasn’t able to keep the lid on the controversies around Dutton, he was a little more successful in containing the insurgency from some of the women over bullying and low female representation.

He headed off backbencher Lucy Gichuhi’s threat to name the bullies. “The Prime Minister has taken up the issue,” she tweeted after their meeting.

Morrison’s pitch to the women was that he’d work with them and the whips internally. It is believed some complaints about behaviour have been made to the whips. The Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, has proposed the Liberal party organisation should have an independent and confidential process to operate when concerns are raised.

The recent events have sparked a few calls in the party for quotas, but there is minimal chance of the Liberals following Labor down that path.

But the Wentworth outcome could produce another round in the war over gender representation.

All week, the Liberals struggled to answer the key question: why was Turnbull deposed? It took Nationals leader Michael McCormack to give the brutal response on Thursday. McCormack identified three factors – ambition, Newspolls, and opportunity. “People take those opportunities and we’ve got a new prime minister,” he said.

And the view from the voters? As one Liberal MP says, they’ve got the baseball bats out.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.

Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The byelection for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat, will be held on October 20.

The announcement by the Speaker, Tony Smith, came ahead of the Liberals choosing their candidate on Thursday. Rolls will close on September 24 and nominations will close September 27.

The byelection is crucial for Scott Morrison who will face a very difficult test in the initial days of his prime ministership. The outcome in the byelection will set the political tone for the rest of the year.

Morrison will encounter a lot of anger in the electorate at the removal of Turnbull as prime minister. Turnbull was very popular and had grown the Liberal vote substantially, to a 17.7% margin in 2016. On what is known of his arrangements, Turnbull would be back from New York in the final days of the byelection – whether he would campaign for the Liberal candidate is not known.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Wentworth looks scary for Liberals having trouble explaining why they sacked its PM


Labor’s candidate, Tim Murray, has already been campaigning, and high-profile Kerryn Phelps, who has a medical practice in the electorate, is set to run. Phelps could attract a strong vote from disaffected Liberal supporters.

In the Liberal preselection all eyes will be on whether a woman is selected, after one of the frontrunners, Andrew Bragg, pulled out, saying the candidate should be female.




Read more:
Bragg drops out of Liberal preselection battle, calling for woman candidate


The two leading women in the field are Katherine O’Regan, who has been a political staffer and is chair at Sydney East Business Chamber, and Mary-Lou Jarvis, a vice-president of the NSW Liberal Party.

Earlier this week Morrison, asked on 2GB – in the context of the push for a female candidate – whether he was “a merit person or not”, said: “I’m a merit person and the party members will decide our candidate in Wentworth.

“It’s [the preselectors’] choice … Just like it has to be, in every single seat in the country.”

Wentworth is a well-educated, well-off electorate.

In the 2016 census, of those aged 15 and over, nearly half (46.8%) had attained the level of bachelor degree or above, compared with 23.4% for NSW as a whole.

Professionals made up 40.7% (NSW, 23.6%) and managers 20.8% (13.5%, for NSW).

The median weekly income was $1,242 for a person ($664, for NSW); for a family it was $3,231 ($1780 for NSW).The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Poll wrap: Labor retains big Newspoll lead; savage anti-Liberal swing in Wagga Wagga; Wentworth is tied


File 20180911 123110 w6mk80.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The latest polls show Morrison is relatively popular, but the Coalition is trailing Labor badly on two-party preferred.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,650 gave Labor a second consecutive landslide 56-44 lead. Primary votes were 42% Labor (up one), 34% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (down one).

This is the Coalition’s 40th successive Newspoll loss. It is also Labor’s highest primary vote since Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as PM in June 2010. Labor and the Greens combined have had a majority of the primary vote in the last two Newspolls. Under Malcolm Turnbull, the highest Labor/Greens vote was 48%.

Scott Morrison’s first Newspoll ratings were 41% satisfied, 39% dissatisfied, for a net approval of +2. In his last Newspoll as PM four weeks ago, Turnbull’s net approval was -19, but in the poll before that his net approval was -6, his equal highest this term. Bill Shorten’s net approval jumped ten points to -14 since four weeks ago. Morrison led Shorten by 42-36 as better PM (39-33 to Shorten last fortnight).

The Coalition and Morrison led Labor and Shorten by 40-36 on maintaining energy supply and keeping power prices lower (37-36 four weeks ago). A question on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is skewed right.

This question asks if pulling out “could result in lower electricity prices”, which is a dubious proposition. It also presents Donald Trump’s reasons for pulling out as a statement of fact. In last fortnight’s Essential, voters opposed withdrawing from Paris by 46-32, while in Newspoll’s skewed question, they favoured pulling out 46-40.

Morrison is currently relatively popular, but the Coalition is trailing badly. This indicates that perceptions of the Coalition have crashed since the leadership spill, and the last two weeks of claims about bullying have not helped.




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


In January to February 2010, new NSW Labor Premier Kristina Keneally had a +15 net approval in Newspoll, while her party trailed by 57-43. At the March 2011 state election, Labor was crushed by 64-36 on two party preferred votes. The key question is whether perceptions of the federal Coalition recover before the next election.

Morrison’s positive ratings are likely due to a honeymoon effect, with people giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, Morrison’s +2 net approval is weak compared to most new PMs in their first Newspoll ratings.

According to analyst Kevin Bonham, only Paul Keating (a -21 net approval) had a net approval much worse than Morrison. Rudd’s second stint as PM began with a net zero approval, and all other new PMs had a far better net approval than Morrison.

I have conducted analysis based on The Poll Bludger’s review of the 2016 election, and aggregated data from Turnbull’s final three Newspolls as PM. As explained on my personal website, the Coalition under Morrison appears most likely to lose support among the well-educated, the young and in Victoria.

The federal Coalition’s woes almost certainly contributed to bad results for the state Liberals in the Wagga Wagga byelection and in a Tasmanian state poll.

Over 28% primary vote swing against Liberals at Wagga Wagga byelection

A byelection was held on Saturday in the New South Wales state seat of Wagga Wagga, following the resignation of Liberal MP Daryl Maguire over allegations of corrupt behaviour. The Liberals have held Wagga Wagga since 1957.

Primary votes were 25.5% Liberal (down 28.2% since the 2015 election), 25.4% for independent Joe McGirr, 23.7% Labor (down 4.3%), 10.6% for independent Paul Funnell (up 0.9%) and 9.9% Shooters. McGirr will almost certainly win on preferences from all other candidates, but we do not yet have a two candidate count as the electoral commission selected Labor and the Liberals as its two candidates on election night.

The Labor vs Liberal election night two candidate count gave Labor a 51.4-48.6 lead, though not all votes were entered before it was pulled. So if the Liberals and Labor had been the final two candidates, Labor would have won on about a 14% swing. NSW uses optional preferential voting for its state elections, and the swing to Labor would be higher with compulsory preferential.

The NSW state election will be held in March 2019, but I have seen no NSW state polls since a March ReachTEL poll, which had the Coalition ahead by 52-48.

Wentworth ReachTEL: 50-50 tie

A byelection is likely to be held in Wentworth in October. A ReachTEL Wentworth poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted August 27 from a sample of 886, had a 50-50 tie between the Liberals and Labor, an 18% swing to Labor since the 2016 election.

There were two primary vote scenarios. In the first, the Liberals had 41.9%, Labor 31.5%, the Greens 15.6% and One Nation 2.3%. The second scenario included two prominent independents, who each had 11-12%, with the Liberals on 34.6%, Labor 20.3% and the Greens 8.9%.

While seat polls are unreliable, the loss of Turnbull’s personal vote, and the anger of well-educated voters at his ousting, could make Wentworth close (see my previous article).

By 67-24, Wentworth voters thought the national energy guarantee should include an emissions reduction target. By 69-10, they thought Scott Morrison would do less to tackle climate change than Turnbull, rather than more.

National Essential: 54-46 to Labor

This week’s national Essential poll, conducted September 6-9 from a sample of 1,050, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a one point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Labor (down two), 36% Coalition (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 8% One Nation (up one).

Essential still uses the 2016 election preference flows, where One Nation preferences split evenly, while Newspoll assigns One Nation preferences about 60-40 to the Coalition. If both pollsters used the same preferencing method, there would be a three point gap between Newspoll and Essential. The Labor primary vote is five points lower in Essential than in Newspoll.

Morrison’s initial ratings in Essential were 37% approve, 31% disapprove, for a net approval of +6; Turnbull had a net zero approval in August. Shorten’s net approval was up two points since August to -8. Morrison led Shorten by 39-27 as better PM (39-29 last fortnight).

By 47-35, voters disapproved of the change from Turnbull to Morrison (40-35 last fortnight). By 69-23, they thought it important that the government agree to a policy for reducing carbon emissions.

Over 57% agreed with four negative statements about the government, but voters disagreed by 41-34 with the proposition that Tony Abbott and his conservative supporters are really running the country now.

Over 2/3 of One Nation preferences went to LNP at Longman byelection

A political eternity ago, five byelections were held on July 28. On August 30, the electoral commission provided detailed preference flow data.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump; Labor leads in Victoria; Longman preferences helped LNP


Labor won Longman by 54.5-45.5 against the LNP, a 3.7% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 39.8% Labor, 29.6% LNP, 15.9% One Nation, 4.8% Greens and 9.8% for all Others. 67.7% of One Nation voters preferenced the LNP ahead of Labor, a massive increase from 43.5% at the 2016 election.

Labor also had weaker flows from the Greens, winning 76.5% of their preferences, down from 80.7%. However, Labor won 59.0% of preferences from Other candidates, including 81% from the DLP.

At the 2016 election, One Nation recommended preferences to Labor ahead of the LNP in Longman; at the byelection, they reversed their recommendations. However, I believe the largest factor in the One Nation shift is that they were perceived as an anti-establishment party in 2016, but are now clearly a right-wing party.

One Nation’s preference flows in Longman vindicate Newspoll’s decision to assign about 60% of One Nation’s preferences to the Coalition, rather than the 50-50 split that occurred at the 2016 election.

Final results and preference flows for the other four July 28 byelection seats are available at my personal website. Overall, Labor had strong performances in Longman and Fremantle, but did not do very well in the other seats. The Greens failed to benefit from the Liberals’ absence in Perth and Fremantle.

Tasmanian EMRS poll: 36% Liberals (down 11), 34% Labor, 16% Greens

A Tasmanian state EMRS poll, conducted August 29-31 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 36% of the vote (down 11 since May), Labor 34% (up four) and the Greens 16% (up two). Labor leader Rebecca White led incumbent Will Hodgman as better Premier by 46-38 (47-41 to Hodgman in May). This is the largest poll-to–poll drop for a party in EMRS history.

Bonham interpreted this poll as 39% Liberals, 36% Labor and 13% Greens. If the poll is correct, the Liberals are likely to lose their majority under Tasmania’s Hare Clark system.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: Wentworth looks scary for Liberals having trouble explaining why they sacked its PM


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As the government faced its first post-coup parliamentary day, the enormous gamble the Liberals have taken was obvious.

It isn’t just that big “transaction costs” of felling a prime minister are coming back to be paid.

It’s that leading Liberals can give no half-way convincing rationale for an upheaval that has pushed the Coalition’s two-party vote substantially backwards in Newspoll, and further baked in the community’s anger with politicians.




Read more:
Labor leads 56-44% in Newspoll, but Morrison rates better than Shorten


We talk about “narratives” in politics. This coup does not have a presentable public “narrative”.

In parliament and the media, everyone this week is demanding answers to the “why?” question. No doubt Liberal MPs have been belted with it in their electorates during their short break among the voters.

Scott Morrison talks about the new (post coup) generation of Liberal leadership. As they struggle to explain the inexplicable, this looks more like the old generation heavily bandaged after a bar room brawl.

Some are not even pretending.

Deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg was up front on Sunday about the National Energy Guarantee being ditched. “No one is more disappointed than I am”, he told the ABC. As to why Turnbull was sacked: well, he’d just leave that to the commentators to discuss.

On Monday, arguing the government’s defence against Labor’s (unsuccessful) attempt to launch a censure, Leader of the House Christopher Pyne made the frank admission that “changing the leader is not the right thing to do.

“The Australian public are quite rightly most disconcerted with what’s occurred”, he said, but it was Labor’s fault because they’d started the process. “I agree with the Australian public that what they want is stability,” Pyne said.

After dodging and weaving, Morrison told parliament: “The party chooses the person they want to lead to ensure that we can put the best foot forward at the next election and to ensure that we are connecting with Australians all around the country.”

Insofar as there can be any hygiene in such a business, Morrison has been able to claim relatively clean hands. But Senate leader Mathias Cormann. whose withdrawal of support delivered a fatal blow for Malcolm Turnbull, clearly soiled his hands on the way through and struggles to explain.

When his shifting positions were put to him in Senate question time, his defence was one of I-meant-it-when-I-said-it. “All of these statements were, of course, entirely accurate at the time,” he maintained.

Boiled down to its essence, the core answer to the “why?” question is that the Liberal party’s right – surely it is time we called them “the right” rather than “the conservatives” – made a grab for power that killed Turnbull, although they didn’t have the numbers to install their man Peter Dutton.

There were other important factors but that was at the heart of it.

Morrison and his colleagues can’t, however, say that. They have to indulge in non-answers or fudges until the media get sick of asking the why question.

One of the coup’s back stories has been about the media, because it has highlighted the growing power of the shouty commentators, and the move of Sky’s evening programming towards the Fox News model.

The always-forthright Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch called out the role of certain media commentators who, he suggested, became players in the coup.

Asked about the actions of some sections of the media applying pressure during the coup week, Entsch said: “I thought it was an absolute disgrace. I don’t think Sky News in particular wrapped themselves in glory.”

He told the ABC: “I actually saw texts coming through to colleagues encouraging them to get rid of the prime minister, from some of these commentators. And to me, that’s overstepping the line.”

Their “absolute dislike” of Turnbull was obvious, he said: “There was nothing that the former prime minister could have done to satisfy their obvious hatred of him. And they took every opportunity to actively have him removed”.

If the past is beyond explanation, the future is looming increasingly scary for the Liberals. The Wentworth byelection – despite a 17.7% buffer – is shaping as a close-run thing.

If any Liberals were complacent about Wentworth, they won’t be after the weekend Wagga Wagga state byelection, where a community-based independent, Joe McGirr, took the seat after a massive 28 point drop in the Liberal vote.

How much damage could a similar candidate do in Turnbull’s old seat? Probably a great deal.

Kerryn Phelps, who is set to run in Wentworth, is (like McGirr) a doctor. She is well known, with a local practice in the electorate. Most recently she received plenty of publicity during the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

On Monday Andrew Bragg, who had quit his Business Council of Australia job to seek Liberal preselection and had been considered one of the frontrunners, withdrew. Whatever influences were at work there, Bragg’s public explanation was that the party should choose a woman.

The leading females in the preselection race are Mary-Lou Jarvis, a NSW party vice-president and president of the NSW Liberal Women’s Council, and Katherine O’Regan, chair of the Sydney East Business Chamber.




Read more:
Bragg drops out of Liberal preselection battle, calling for woman candidate


Whoever becomes the Liberal candidate, this is potentially one of those byelections for the history books.

It will be hugely expensive, just when the Liberals face a NSW election and the federal election. The cost will only be exceeded by the stakes. If the Liberals don’t hold the seat Morrison goes into minority government, with the angst that would bring.

In the meantime, in the campaign the Wentworth voters will want better answers than we’re hearing now on why the party deposed their man.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.

Labor MP Emma Husar takes personal leave as party investigates conduct towards staff


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Labor’s member for the NSW marginal seat of Lindsay, Emma Husar, has announced she is taking personal leave, after a long-running party investigation into allegations she misused and bullied staff members became public.

Husar said in a statement that she had received threats of violence.

The NSW Labor party probe, led by barrister John Whelan, into the claims against Husar, who is in her first term, has been going on for some time but the story only broke publicly with a BuzzFeed report last week.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has said he first heard of the allegations last week.

They include that Husar had members of her staff perform baby sitting and dog walking chores, and that she had been abusive towards staff. Her office has had a big turnover. There has been speculation that she could lose preselection if the investigation finds against her.

In her statement late Tuesday Husar said: “The past few days have been incredibly difficult for my family. I’m a single mum and my first priority is the safety and wellbeing of my children.

“I have received threatening messages including threats of violence and have referred them to the Australian Federal Police.

“The best thing for me and my family right now is for us to be out of the spotlight so I can access support.

“I look forward to returning to my duties as the Member for Lindsay very soon. I love my community and there is no higher honour for me than representing the people of Western Sydney in Australia’s parliament.

“As I said last week, I respect and am co-operating with the independent process that is underway”.

Shorten said on Tuesday Husar had “been a hard-working member in her electorate” but he didn’t want to further comment until the inquiry was finished.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said: “I’ve always found her very passionate about Western Sydney, about the issues she cares about deeply, and entirely professional, but these serious matters should be dealt with through that independent investigation.”

Labor frontbencher Mike Kelly defended Husar, saying the use of staff members for some personal help was “a small price to pay for having a truly representative democracy and facilitating the ability of women to participate in our parliament.”

“You’ve got a hard-working young woman here, a single mother with three kids, having to juggle a very tough electorate in Lindsay with a lot of diverse issues and then of course do the commute to Canberra,” he told Sky.

The ConversationRecently former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce took a stint of personal leave after a furore over his paid TV interview about his affair with his former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion, with whom he has a baby.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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