Government falls further behind – Labor leads 55-45% in Newspoll


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Coalition has taken another knock in Newspoll, now trailing Labor 45-55% on a two-party basis.

Scott Morrison’s personal ratings have also worsened, in a poll that comes in the wake of his intensive week of campaigning in the key state of Queensland.

This is the second consecutive Newspoll in which the two-party vote has gone backwards: the previous poll had a 46-54% result.

The Newspolls have been consistently worse for the Coalition since the
leadership change – before that Labor had been cut back to a narrow 51-49% lead.

Morrison’s net satisfaction rating is now minus 8, compared with minus 3 in the last poll a fortnight ago. Bill Shorten had a slight worsening on this measure – he is on minus 15 compared with minus 13 in the previous poll.

The gap on “better prime minister” has narrowed in Shorten’s favor – Morrison leads 42-36% compared with 43-35% previously.

Labor’s primary vote is up a point to 40%; the Coalition has dropped a point to 35%. The Greens remain on 9%; One Nation is steady on 6%.

Newspoll also found that only 40% of people now favour Australia becoming a republic, compared with 48% against. Shorten has promised
an early vote on the issue if he wins government.

Support for a republic was 50% in April this year, with 41% against.
The dramatic change suggests the big impact of the highly popular tour
of the young royals, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Although Coalition MPs have argued that Morrison has a better “cut through” than Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison’s sliding ratings suggests his “ordinary bloke” style isn’t going across as well as some expected.

The poll was taken Thursday to Sunday, so the publicity around Turnbull’s performance on Q&A on Thursday would have fed into it. He
declared that former colleagues had not so far answered the question
of why they had dumped him and owed an explanation to the Australian
public.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Turnbull tells Liberals to answer that unanswerable question


This week Morrison begins the “summit season” with the East Asia
summit in Singapore followed by APEC in Papua New Guinea.

POSTSCRIPT:

Morrison, asked about the poll, told Sky: “It’s a big mountain, and
I’m still climbing it”. He said the poll showed there was “a big risk”
of a Labor government.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: Morrison’s ratings slump in Newspoll; Wentworth’s huge difference in on-the-day and early voting



File 20181029 7074 1xxtfnb.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
It took six months for Malcolm Turnbull to receive his first negative Newspoll net approval as PM; it has taken Scott Morrison just two months.
AAP/Joel Carrett

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted October 25-28 from a sample of 1,650, gave Labor a 54-46 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since last fortnight. Primary votes were 39% Labor (up one), 36% Coalition (down one), 9% Greens (down two) and 6% One Nation (steady). Rounding probably assisted Labor in this poll.

41% were satisfied with Scott Morrison (down four), and 44% were dissatisfied (up six), for a net approval of -3, down ten points. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up three points to -13. While Shorten’s ratings are poor, this is his best net approval this term. Morrison led Shorten by 43-35 as better PM (45-34 last fortnight).

58% thought Morrison should hold the election when due next year, while 33% thought he should call an early election before the end of this year.

Since Morrison became PM, his net approvals have been +2, +5, +7 and now -3. Turnbull’s first four net approvals were +18, +25, +35 and +32. It took six months for Turnbull to receive his first negative Newspoll net approval, it has taken Morrison just two months.

According to analyst Kevin Bonham, even if Morrison never receives another positive Newspoll net approval, he will still have more positive net approvals than either Tony Abbott (two) or Paul Keating (zero) did as PM.

Morrison’s slump could be caused by the Liberals’ loss of Wentworth, but it could also be due to increasingly bad perceptions of the Coalition over issues such as climate change. The falls in the stock market and house prices are likely to impact consumer confidence, and governments usually perform worse when the economy is not perceived to be doing well.

Essential: 53-47 to Labor

Last week’s Essential poll, mostly taken before the Wentworth byelection, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, unchanged from three weeks ago. Primary votes were also unchanged, with the Coalition on 38%, Labor 37%, the Greens 10% and One Nation 7%. This poll was conducted October 18-21 from a sample of 1,027.

Essential uses the previous election method to assign preferences, assuming One Nation preferences split about 50-50. Since December 2017, Newspoll has assumed One Nation preferences split about 60-40 to the Coalition. If Essential and Newspoll used the same method, there would probably be a two-point gap between the two. Since Morrison became PM, Newspoll has given Labor better two party results than Essential despite the One Nation adjustment.

60% (up nine since April) cited cost-of-living as one of their top three issues, while 37% cited health (up one), 29% housing affordability (steady) and 27% creating jobs (down five). Income and business tax cuts were at the bottom with just 12% and 5% respectively who thought they were important issues.

59% thought the change of PM had made no difference and the Morrison government was still the same government, while 20% thought it was a new government. By 35-28, they preferred Morrison to Turnbull as PM (57-29 among Coalition voters).

63% (down one since September 2017) thought that climate change was caused by human activity, while 25% (up one) thought we were just witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate. 56% (steady) thought Australia was not doing enough to address climate change, 23% (up three) thought we were doing enough, and 7% (down one) thought we were doing too much.

37% did not support a separate national day to recognise Indigenous Australians, 36% supported a separate day alongside Australia Day, and just 14% supported a separate day instead of Australia Day.

Massive difference between on-the-day and early voting in Wentworth

With probably fewer than 1,000 postal votes to come before Friday’s deadline for reception, independent Kerryn Phelps won the October 20 Wentworth byelection by a 51.2-48.8 margin over Liberal Dave Sharma, a vote margin of 1,783, and a swing of 18.9% against the Liberals. Primary votes were 43.1% Liberal (down 19.1%), 29.2% Phelps, 11.5% Labor (down 6.2%) and 8.6% Greens (down 6.3%).




Read more:
Wentworth byelection called too early for Phelps as Liberals recover in late counting


Early on election night, Wentworth was called for Phelps owing to her strong performance on election-day booths. Pre-poll and postal votes counted by October 21 were much stronger than expected for Sharma, as this tweet from the ABC’s Antony Green shows.

Green also tweeted that there has been a big drop in Sharma’s percentage share of the postals as later batches are counted. Sharma was at 64.4% on postals counted by the morning of October 21, but dropped to just 44.3% in postals counted October 25. Later postals would have been sent closer to the election date.

Later postals tend to be less conservative-friendly than earlier ones, but not to this extent. It is clear from this data that Wentworth voters shifted decisively against the Liberals in the final days.

I think the most important reason for this shift was Coalition senators voting with Pauline Hanson on her “It’s OK to be white” motion. This motion would have absolutely no appeal to an electorate with a high level of educational attainment relative to the overall population.

Victorian Galaxy poll: 53-47 to Labor

The Victorian election will be held on November 24. A Galaxy poll for the Bus Association, conducted last week from an unknown sample, gave Labor a 53-47 lead, unchanged since September. Primary votes were 40% Labor (down two), 39% Coalition (down one) and 12% Greens (up two). This poll was probably close to 54-46 to Labor.

44% approved of Premier Daniel Andrews (up four), and 35% disapproved (down seven), for a net approval of +9, up eleven points. Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s net approval was up one point to -18.

Since the change in PM, there have been two 53-47 to Labor results from Galaxy, and a 52-48 from ReachTEL. Labor is likely to win the Victorian election, though they could be forced into a minority government if the Greens take inner city seats.

US midterm elections, and far-right wins Brazil presidential election

US midterm elections will be held on November 6. I wrote for The Poll Bludger on Saturday that Democrats are likely to win the House, but Republicans are likely to retain the Senate. Trump’s ratings dropped from highs last seen in March 2017. The recent far-right terrorist events may shift public opinion.

The Brazilian presidential election runoff was held Sunday after no candidate won an outright majority in the first round on October 7. The far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, defeated the left-wing Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, by a 55.1-44.9 margin. Bolsonaro has made comments sympathetic to the 1964-85 Brazil military dictatorship. Corruption by the established parties and a recession are key reasons for this result.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.

Poll wrap: Coalition slumps to 55-45 deficit in Ipsos, and large swing to federal Labor in Queensland



File 20180820 30611 dfkhe0.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The latest Fairfax Ipsos poll has brought bad news for Malcolm Turnbul – and good news for Bill Shorten.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Fairfax Ipsos poll, conducted August 15-18 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a landslide 55-45 lead, a four-point gain for Labor since late July. Primary votes were 35% Labor (up one), 33% Coalition (down six), 13% Greens (up one) and 19% for all Others (up four). Ipsos consistently has the Greens higher than other polls.

The respondent allocated two party figure was also 55-45 to Labor. During this term, Labor has usually performed worse on respondent allocated preferences than using the previous election method, and the Ipsos July poll had a 50-50 tie by this measure.

46% approved of Malcolm Turnbull (down nine), and 48% disapproved (up ten), for a net approval of -2, down 19 points since July. This is Turnbull’s first negative net approval in Ipsos since December 2017; Ipsos gives him better ratings than other pollsters. Bill Shorten’s net approval was -11, up five points. Turnbull led Shorten by 48-36 as better PM, a big decline from a 57-30 lead in July.

By 47-44, voters supported cutting the company tax rate from 30% to 25% over the next ten years (49-40 in April). In an additional question from last week’s Newspoll, voters thought the Senate should block, rather than pass, the tax cuts for companies with a turnover over $50 million by a 51-36 margin.

56% thought the government is doing too little to address climate change, 28% thought they are doing about the right amount, and just 13% thought they are doing too much. By 54-22, voters supported the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), including over 59% support from both major parties’ voters.

In last week’s article, I referred to divisions within the Coalition over the NEG and the company tax cuts as an explanation for Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump. Since then, those divisions have became much worse.




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


In an attempt to fend off a potential challenge from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Turnbull on Monday abandoned the emissions target part of the NEG, in effect yielding to the 13% who say the government is doing too much on climate change.

This 13% of all voters is greatly over-represented within the parliamentary Coalition and among right-wing media commentators. By reserving their right to cross the floor on the NEG, some Coalition MPs have shown how out of touch they are with the electorate on climate change. This probably also contributed to the swing in this Ipsos poll.

Despite Turnbull’s current woes, I think it would be a mistake for the Liberals to replace him with Dutton. While Dutton would appeal to One Nation voters who have left the Coalition over dissatisfaction with Turnbull’s perceived moderation, more moderate Coalition voters would likely desert. About 60% of One Nation preferences will probably return to the Coalition, but if moderates leave, Labor is likely to benefit directly from the Coalition’s lost primary support.

Only three weeks ago, just before and immediately after the July 28 Super Saturday byelections, the Coalition and Turnbull had some of their best polling this term. Ipsos is more volatile than other pollsters, and it was taken at a time of great division within the Coalition. Now that Turnbull has dumped the emissions targets, the internal divisions may subside, and the Coalition’s polling could improve.




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


On August 15, the ABS reported that wages grew at a 0.6% rate in the June quarter. Continued slow wage growth is likely to be a crucial issue at the next election.

Fieldwork for the two polls below was taken before last week’s parliamentary sitting.

Federal Queensland Galaxy: 50-50 tie

A federal Queensland Galaxy poll, conducted August 8-9 from a sample of 839, had a 50-50 tie, a two-point gain for Labor since May. Primary votes were 37% LNP (down three), 34% Labor (up one), 10% One Nation (steady) and 9% Greens (down one). This poll was conducted from the same sample that gave state Labor a 51-49 lead (see last week’s article).

This poll represents a 4% swing to Labor in Queensland since the 2016 election, and such a swing would probably result in Labor gaining many seats. According to The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack, eight LNP Queensland seats are held by less than 4%, including Dutton’s Dickson (a 2.0% margin).

There was no One Nation candidate in Dickson in 2016, when Dutton suffered a 5.1% swing against. A redistribution slightly increased Dutton’s margin from 1.6% to the current 2.0%. If Dutton becomes PM, he will probably receive an extra personal vote boost in Dickson, which could enable him to hold it. Otherwise, Dutton is vulnerable to the Queensland-wide swing in this Galaxy poll.

56% of Queenslanders opposed tax cuts for companies with turnovers over $50 million, just 16% fully supported these cuts, and 12% wanted the big banks excluded from the tax cuts. Many pollsters are making mistakes by asking whether voters support tax cuts for “all” businesses; the issue is the tax cuts for businesses with turnover over $50 million, not all businesses.

National Essential: 52-48 to Labor

Last week’s national Essential poll, conducted August 9-12 from a sample of 1,032, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 39% Coalition (down two), 37% Labor (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady). Essential’s two party estimate uses 2016 election preference flows and it would probably be 51-49 using Newspoll’s new method.

Turnbull’s net approval dropped three points since early July to a net zero, while Shorten’s net approval increased six points to -10. Turnbull led Shorten by 41-27 as better PM (42-25 in July).

By 54-25, voters thought the current drought across eastern Australia is likely to be linked to climate change.

88% approved of drought relief for agriculture, 76% of subsidies for renewable energy and 73% of the private health insurance rebate. Just 33% approved of the fuel rebate for the mining industry and 36% approved of negative gearing.

Voters were not alarmed by the proposed merger between Nine and Fairfax. By 47-28, they thought the merger would be good for quality of news coverage, and by 42-34 they thought it would be good for diversity of news media.

In the context of large Internet company bans on alt-right speakers, 48% thought that an individual’s right to free speech does not mean these companies need to provide a platform, while 32% thought these companies should allow such people to speak even if they disagree with the speaker.

Electoral system not to blame for Fraser Anning

There has been much controversy following Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s speech to the Senate on August 14. There have been suggestions the electoral system is at fault as Anning won just 19 personal votes at the 2016 double dissolution election.

Anning was the third candidate on One Nation’s Queensland Senate ticket. One Nation won 1.19 quotas, electing Pauline Hanson immediately. They then performed very well on preferences from populist parties, earning a second seat for Malcolm Roberts, who had just 77 personal votes.




Read more:
Final Senate results: 30 Coalition, 26 Labor, 9 Greens, 4 One Nation, 3 NXT, 4 Others


In October 2017, the High Court disqualified Roberts over the citizenship fiasco, and Anning was elected to replace him.

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The Conversation

Other than in Tasmania and the ACT, whose state electoral systems encourage below the line voting in the Senate, over 90% of Senate votes at the 2016 election were above the line ticket votes, according to analyst Kevin Bonham. In most cases, the number of personal below the line votes received by a candidate is irrelevant to the electoral process.

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

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

FactCheck: has Pauline Hanson voted ‘effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government’ in 2018?


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This year [Pauline Hanson] has voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull government. Honestly you may as well vote LNP if you are voting One Nation because there is no difference.

– Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, doorstop interview, Caboolture, Queensland, July 10, 2018

In recent weeks, senior Labor Party figures have sought to draw attention to the voting patterns of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, arguing that a vote for the minor party is a vote for the Coalition.

At the Labor campaign launch in the Queensland seat of Longman ahead of Saturday’s crucial byelections, opposition leader Bill Shorten said it’s “a fact that if you vote One Nation, you are voting [Liberal National Party]. You are not protesting, you are being used to send a vote to the LNP.”

On the same day, shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers described One Nation as “the wholly-owned subsidiary of Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party”.

Earlier this month, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said that in 2018, Pauline Hanson had “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government”.

Let’s look at the records.

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, Tanya Plibersek said:

Pauline Hanson voted with the Liberals to cut school funding and voted to cut family benefits while she voted herself a massive $7,000 a year tax cut. Australian voters deserve to know the truth about Hanson’s voting record in Canberra.

Plibersek’s comment related to votes on second and third reading votes (including amendments) on legislation.

Plibersek’s office highlighted 20 such votes in 2018 in which Labor and the Coalition disagreed. Of those, Hanson abstained from one vote, and voted 18 times with the government. (The equivalent of 95% of the time, with the abstention excluded.)

A spokesperson told The Conversation Plibersek used the qualifier “effectively” in her original comment to indicate that Hanson voted with the Coalition almost all of the time.


Verdict

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said Pauline Hanson has “voted effectively 100% of the time with the Turnbull Government” in 2018.

Parliamentary records show the figure to be between 83-86%, depending on the measure used.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has cast 169 formal votes in the Senate to date in 2018. Of those, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

If we look at the 99 occasions where the government and opposition were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the minor party voted with the government 86% of the time.


Voting in the Senate

Votes in the Senate can be determined “on the voices” or “by division”.

For a vote to pass on the voices, a majority of senators must call “aye” in response to the question posed by the chair.

If two or more senators challenge the chair’s conclusion about whether the “ayes” or “noes” are in the majority, a division is called.

Bells are then rung for four minutes to call senators to the chamber. The question is posed again, and senators vote by taking their place on the right or left hand side of the chair, before the votes are counted by tellers.

Voting records are only published for votes passed by division.

How has One Nation voted in 2018?

We can look to parliamentary records to test Plibersek’s claim.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is represented in the parliament by party leader and Queensland senator Pauline Hanson, and West Australian senator Peter Georgiou. New South Wales senator Brian Burston was a One Nation senator until June 2018.

Plibersek’s comment referred to votes on the second and third readings of legislation in the full Senate, excluding procedural votes, motions and votes in Senate committees.

But votes that take place in Senate committees, after the second reading, but before the third, are also important. Much of the legislative process is done “in committee”, where various parties propose amendments to legislation, and these are voted on.

So counting only the full Senate votes on legislation as being significant, as Plibersek did, does not give the full picture.

Stages of consideration of bills in the Australian Senate.
Parliament of Australia, Brief Guides to Senate Procedure

In this FactCheck, I will consider all the divisions, from a number of different angles.

There have been 187 divisions in the Senate so far this year. Of those, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 141 occasions (or 75% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 28 occasions (or 15% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 18 occasions (or 10% of the time).

Of the 169 divisions where One Nation voted, it was in agreement with the government 83% of the time.

But it’s important to consider the balance of power.

When the Coalition and Labor vote the same way, minor party votes do not affect the outcome. When the Coalition and Labor are in disagreement, minor party votes are all important.

There have been 110 such divisions between the Coalition and Labor in the Senate in 2018 to date.

In these 110 divisions, One Nation:

  • voted with the Coalition on 85 occasions (or 77% of the time)
  • voted against the Coalition on 14 occasions (or 13% of the time), and
  • abstained from voting on 11 occasions (10% of the time).

If we look at the 99 divisions where the Coalition and Labor were in disagreement, and One Nation cast an influential vote, we see that the party voted with the Coalition 86% of the time.

By comparison, in the 110 divisions where Labor opposed the government, the Australian Greens supported the Coalition 5% of the time, and the Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) did so 56% of the time.

The calculations for the Greens and Centre Alliance above do not include abstentions and cases where the party vote was split. – Adrian Beaumont

Blind review

The author’s points and statistics appear to be all in order.

As the FactCheck shows, while One Nation has not voted with the government 100% of the time, it has supported the Coalition in a large majority of cases. – Zareh Ghazarian


The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

The ConversationHave you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

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

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

Longman result shows Queensland vote is volatile and One Nation remains potent



File 20180730 106521 s3d9se.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition.
AAP/Darren England

Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland

As expected, the Longman by-election was the contest to watch on “Super Saturday”. But, as it turned out, it was for reasons that weren’t all anticipated.

Observers had predicted a tight race in the marginally-held seat north of Brisbane, with high poll support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation adding to the unpredictability. Yet, Labor’s Susan Lamb defied the naysayers and secured a reassuring swing, regaining the seat she’d vacated owing to her former dual citizenship status.

For opposition leader Bill Shorten, the weekend’s byelection results provide a confidence boost and should dampen the leadership speculation that has animated sections of the media.

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, the Longman result especially (and South Australia’s Mayo to a similar extent) will prompt soul-searching in Coalition ranks ahead of the next federal election.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Malcolm Turnbull’s authority diminished after byelection failures


The most notable – and underestimated – aspect of the vote count in Longman was the fall in support for the Coalition. This flew in the face of opinion polls leading up to the byelection date, which suggested there was little between the major candidates. Warnings from election analysts about the reliability of single-seat polling might be heeded more closely in future.

The Coalition’s primary vote in Longman plunged 9.4% from the 2016 federal election, resulting in a two-party-preferred swing of 3.7% against LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg. While senior Coalition MPs have since put this down to an “average” anti-government swing at byelections, few in the party would have expected such a kicking in a historically conservative seat.

Ruthenberg came under scrutiny during the by-election campaign for a wrongly claimed military service medal. He also carried some baggage as MP for a nearby state seat during the single-term government of Campbell Newman. Combined, this probably turned away a number of potential voters, and contributed in part to Lamb increasing her primary vote from 35.4% to almost 40%. Queensland’s LNP faces fresh questions about its organisational and campaigning stocks following a disappointing showing at last November’s state election.

The bigger concern for the federal government is the extent to which its policies are on the nose with voters. Certainly, Labor focused much of its Longman campaign on the effects that penalty rate reductions and company tax cuts for big businesses would have on local job prospects and funding for hospitals and education services. ALP insiders were quietly confident of crafting a successful “class warfare”-style campaign in an electorate with higher than average unemployment and below average incomes.

In this respect, the Longman campaign offered a preview to the likely dimensions and key party messaging of the coming federal election campaign, expected in the first half of next year. Given the number of marginal federal seats in Queensland, this positions the state as the “battleground” where that election can be won and lost.

The fight for marginal seats

Byelection results shouldn’t, of course, be extrapolated to likely voting patterns at a general election. Many in Queensland remember John Howard’s Liberals losing a 2001 byelection for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, only to regain it comfortably at the national election later that year (aided by some notable external factors).

The Longman contest was fought on local as much as broader issues – with residents’ health, education and employment concerns front of mind for most. But these “bread and butter” issues, as well as Longman’s characterisation as a true marginal, urban fringe seat, make the fall of the votes here possibly indicative of wider trends. If the government’s intended tax cut package for large as well as smaller businesses turned off many Longman voters, it may well do so in marginal seats across the board.

In Queensland, where there is nearly a dozen such marginal seats – seven held by the Coalition – any inkling as to what might motivate voters in those electorates will be keenly sought by the major parties. The Coalition, in particular, stands to lose much if lessons can’t be drawn from voters’ messages.

After the weekend, MPs in the neighbouring electorates of Petrie (margin of 1.6%) and high-profile Dickson (held by Peter Dutton on the same margin), as well as Flynn (1%), Forde (0.6%) and Capricornia (0.6%), will be sitting more nervously in the Coalition party room.




Read more:
Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo


The issues animating many Longman voters also feature in seats alongside it. Anti-government sentiment could well seep across electorate boundaries and threaten incumbents there. Notably, Dutton’s late arrival on the Longman campaign trail warning of the immigration policy “perils” of Shorten’s Labor didn’t much seem to stem the flow of votes away from Ruthenberg.

With Labor also holding a handful of marginal Queensland seats, both major parties will be conscious of shoring up an unstable vote base. It is this landscape, as much as Labor’s campaign messages about “big end of town” tax cuts, that likely determines how much the government refashions its policy agenda ahead of the federal election.

One Nation vote hurts the Coalition

One Nation’s considerable vote in Longman – almost 16% compared to the 9.4% it gained in 2016 – underlines the current strength of the minor party protest vote. Indeed, the increase in One Nation’s support in Longman came mainly at the expense of the Coalition’s candidate. In a field of eleven nominations, the next best vote was the Greens’ 4.8%.

There is residual irritation in the wider electorate about voters’ circumstances and about a perceived disconnection from their elected representatives. This alienation was again apparent in the Longman result, and signals a warning to both major parties about volatile voter sentiment in Queensland and elsewhere.

The high One Nation vote came after a more concerted and less gaffe-prone campaign, despite candidate Matthew Stephen facing persistent queries over his business history. This was achieved in the conspicuous absence of Pauline Hanson’s “star power” (dozens of cardboard cut-outs of the party leader notwithstanding).

But these circumstances are possible at a byelection more so than a general election, where One Nation’s modest resources are typically stretched. It may be that the party concentrates its federal campaigning and nominations on fewer seats so as not to spread itself too thinly (as it found to its cost at the recent Queensland election).

The ConversationThe way the party suggests its voters direct their preferences is regularly a mystery, as is how closely its voters follow those recommendations. But if One Nation focuses on the marginal seats in Queensland, those preferences might place the party in an influential position with the government on policy negotiations ahead of the next federal election.

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland

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

FactCheck: is Australia’s population the ‘highest growing in the world’?


Liz Allen, Australian National University

We’re the highest growing country in the world – with 1.6% increase, and that’s double than a lot of other countries.

– One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, interview on Sky News Australia, May 9, 2018

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has proposed a plebiscite be held in tandem with the next federal election to allow voters to have “a say in the level of migration coming into Australia”.

Hanson has suggested cutting Australia’s Migration Programme cap from the current 190,000 people per year to around 75,000-100,000 per year.

On Sky News, Hanson said Australia is “the highest growing country in the world”.

The senator added that at 1.6%, Australia’s population growth was “double [that of] a lot of other countries”.

Are those statements correct?

Checking the source

In response to The Conversation’s request for sources and comment, a spokesperson for Pauline Hanson said the senator “talks about population growth in the context of our high level of immigration because in recent years, immigration has accounted for around 60% of Australia’s population growth”.

The spokesperson added:

Australian Bureau of Statistics migration data for 2015-16 show that Australians born overseas represent 28% of the population, far higher than comparable countries like Canada (22%), UK (13%) or the US (14%).

World Bank data for 2017 show that Australia’s population growth was 1.6%, much higher than comparable countries with immigration programs like Canada (1.2%), the UK (0.6%) and the US (0.7%).


Verdict

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was correct to say Australia’s population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017. But she was incorrect to say Australia is “the highest growing country in the world”.

According to the most accurate international data, the country with the fastest growing population is Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula.

Senator Hanson said Australia’s 1.6% population growth was “double than a lot of other countries”. It is fair to say that Australia’s population growth rate is double that of many other countries, including the United States (0.7%) and United Kingdom (0.7%), for example.

Since Hanson’s statement, Australia’s population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But Hanson’s number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesn’t change the outcome of this FactCheck.

In terms of the 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Luxemberg was the fastest growing country in 2016, with Australia coming in fifth.

Caution must be used when making international population comparisons. It’s important to put the growth rates in the context of the total size, density and demographic makeup of the population, and the economic stage of the country.


How do we calculate population growth?

A country’s population growth, or decline, is determined by the change in the estimated number of residents. Those changes include the number of births and deaths (known as natural increase), and net overseas migration.

In Australia, both temporary and permanent overseas migrants are included in the calculation of population size.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Australia’s population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017 – as Senator Hanson said.

Since Hanson’s statement, Australia’s population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But as said in the verdict, Hanson’s number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesn’t change any of the other outcomes of this FactCheck.

That’s an increase of 407,000 people in a population of 24.6 million.

All states and territories saw positive population growth in the year to June 2017, with Victoria recording the fastest growth rate (2.4%), and South Australia recording the slowest growth rate (0.6%).




Read more:
FactCheck: is South Australia’s youth population rising or falling?


Is Australia’s population the ‘highest growing in the world’?

No, it’s not.

There are different ways of reporting population data.

Population projections are statements about future populations based on certain assumptions regarding the future of births, deaths and migration.

Population estimates are statistics based on data from a population for a previous time period. Population estimates provide a more accurate representation of actual dynamics.

World Bank data for 2016 (based on population estimates) provide us with the most accurate international comparison.

According to those data, Australia’s growth rate – 1.5% for 2016 – placed it at 86th in the world. The top 10 ranked countries grew by between 3-5%.

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How does Australia’s growth compare to other OECD countries?

Comparison of Australia’s average annual population growth with other OECD countries shows Australia’s rate of population growth is among the highest in the OECD, but not the highest.

This is true whether we look at annual averages for five year bands between 1990 and 2015, or single year data.

Looking again at the World Bank data, Australia’s rate of population growth for 2016, at 1.5%, was double that of many other OECD countries, including the United Kingdom (0.7%) and United States (0.7%).

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Permanent vs temporary migration levels

Hanson has proposed a national vote on what she describes as Australia’s “run away rates of immigration”.

The senator has suggested reducing Australia’s Migration Programme cap from the current level of 190,000 people per year to 75-100,000 people per year. The expected intake of 190,000 permanent migrants was not met over the last few years. Permanent migration for 2017-18 has dropped to 162,400 people, due to changes in vetting processes.

The greatest contribution to the growth of the Australian population (63%) currently comes from overseas migration, as Hanson’s office noted in their response to The Conversation.

The origin countries of migrants are becoming more diverse, posing socioeconomic benefits and infrastructure challenges for Australia.

Sometimes people confuse net overseas migration (the total of all people moving in and out of Australia in a certain time frame), with permanent migration (the number of people who come to Australia to live). They are not the same thing.

Net overseas migration includes temporary migration. And net overseas migration is included in population data. This means our population growth reflects our permanent population, plus more.

Temporary migrants are a major contributor to population growth in Australia – in particular, international students.

In the most recent data (2014-15), net temporary migrants numbered just under 132,000, a figure that included just over 77,000 net temporary students.

The international student market is Australia’s third largest export.

Looking back at Australia’s population growth

Population changes track the history of the nation. This includes events like post-war rebuilding – including the baby boom and resettlement of displaced European nationals – to subsequent fluctuations in birth rates, and net overseas migration.

We can see these events reflected in the rates of growth from 1945 to the present.

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The rate of population growth in Australia increased markedly in 2007, before peaking at 2.1% in 2009 (after the height of the global financial crisis, in which the Australian economy fared better than many others).

Since 2009, annual population growth has bounced around between a low of 1.4% and a high of 1.8%.

The longer term average for population growth rates since 1947 is 1.6% (the same as it is currently).

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Interpreting population numbers

It’s worth remembering that a higher growth rate per annum coming from a lower population base is usually still lower growth in terms of actual numbers of people, when compared to a lower growth rate on a higher population base.

There can also be significant fluctuations in population growth rates from year to year – so we need to use caution when making assessments based on changes in annual rates.

Economic factors, government policies, and special events are just some of the things that can influence year-on-year population movements.

Other factors we should consider when making international comparisons include the:

  • total size of the population
  • population density
  • demographic composition, or age distribution, of the population, and
  • the economic stage of the country (for example, post industrialisation or otherwise).

Any changes to the migration program should be considered alongside the best available research. – Liz Allen


Blind review

The FactCheck is fair and correct.

The statement about Australia’s population growth rate over the year to June 30, 2017, is correct. The preliminary growth rate published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the time of Senator Hanson’s statement was 1.60%; the rate was subsequently revised to 1.68%.

It is also true that many developed countries have lower population growth rates than Australia, but some have higher rates. According to United Nations Population Division population estimates, Oman had the fastest growing population between 2014 and 2015 (the latest data available).

With regards to misinterpretations of net overseas migration, it should also be stated that some people think this refers to the number of people migrating to Australia. It is actually immigration minus emigration – the difference between the number arriving and the number leaving. – Tom Wilson


The Conversation FactCheck is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network.

The Conversation’s FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.

The ConversationHave you seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Liz Allen, Demographer, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University

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

Super Saturday: Labor holds Braddon and easily wins Longman, while Sharkie thumps Downer in Mayo



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Labor’s strong showing in its seats and the Liberals’ generally poor performance will be a huge fillip to Bill Shorten.
AAP/Dan Peled

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Federal byelections were held in five seats on Saturday, four Labor-held and one held by the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie. Labor and Sharkie retained all of their seats. I will go through these seats starting with the closest.

In the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, Labor’s Justine Keay defeated the Liberals’ Brett Whiteley by a 52.7-47.3 margin, a 0.5% swing to Labor since the 2016 election. Primary votes were 38.9% Liberal (down 2.7%), 37.0% Labor (down 3.0%), 11.0% for independent Craig Garland, 4.8% for the Shooters and 4.0% for the Greens (down 2.8%).

In the Queensland seat of Longman, Labor’s Susan Lamb defeated the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg by an emphatic 55.4-44.6 margin, a 4.6% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 40.7% Labor (up 5.3%), 28.6% LNP (down a large 10.4%), 16.1% One Nation (up 6.7%) and 5.0% Greens (up 0.6%). The LNP’s drop was 3.7% greater than One Nation’s gain.

In the South Australian seat of Mayo, Sharkie defeated the Liberals’ Georgina Downer by a massive 58.6-41.4 margin, a 3.6% swing to Sharkie. Primary votes were 45.2% Sharkie (up 10.3%), 36.3% Liberal (down 1.5%), 9.4% Greens (up 1.4%) and 6.0% Labor (down 7.6%). Sharkie is a popular incumbent, while Downer’s candidacy had problems.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Coalition’s record Newspoll losing streak, and Rebekha Sharkie has large lead in Mayo


With the Liberals not contesting, the Western Australian seats of Perth and Fremantle were easily retained by Labor with over 62% of the two-party vote against the Greens. Perth was the only Super Saturday byelection to be caused by the resignation of the sitting member; in the other four byelections, the sitting member successfully recontested after resigning due to the citizenship fiasco.

Postal votes have not yet been counted in any of the byelections, and they are likely to help the Liberals. In particular, the small swing to Labor in Braddon will probably become a small Liberal swing when postals are added.

Seat polls slightly understated the Labor vote in Braddon, and slightly overstated Sharkie’s vote in Mayo once postals are factored in. In Longman, there was a large error, with two polls taken in the penultimate week both giving the LNP a 51-49 lead. A Newspoll taken in the final days gave Labor a 51-49 lead, but Labor is likely to win at least 54% of the two party vote after postals.




Read more:
As Super Saturday nears, Labor gains poll lead in Braddon, but trails in Longman, while UK Tories slump


I believe Labor’s relatively poor performance in Bradddon is probably due to Tasmanian factors, in particular state Labor’s large loss at the March Tasmanian election.

These byelection results will be a huge boost for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has been under pressure owing to poor head-to-head polling vs Malcolm Turnbull, especially as Labor’s national lead has narrowed. Shorten is now very likely to lead Labor to the next election.

At the June 2017 UK general election and the July 2018 Mexican presidential elections, left-wing leaders, respectively Jeremy Corbyn and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), were well-known to the public before the election campaign began. Corbyn and AMLO both made big gains in the polls during the campaign, then outperformed their polls on election day.




Read more:
Conservatives suffer shock loss of majority at UK general election


In late May, Sky News ReachTEL polls gave the Liberals a 54-46 lead in Braddon and a 52-48 lead in Longman. The results in these byelections could be a sign that Australia may follow the UK and Mexico. Although Turnbull and the Coalition have substantially reduced Labor’s lead in the national polls, it could be a different story as the election approaches.




Read more:
ReachTEL polls: Labor trailing in Longman and Braddon, and how Senate changes helped the Coalition


National Ipsos: 51-49 to Labor (50-50 respondent allocated)

A national Ipsos poll, conducted for the Fairfax papers on July 18-21 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since late June. Primary votes were 39% Coalition (up four), 34% Labor (down one), 12% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady).

The respondent allocated preference measure showed a 50-50 tie, a reversion to the normal pattern where the Coalition does a point better in respondent allocated preferences than last election preferences. In June, respondent allocated preferences had Labor ahead by 54-46.

55% approved of Turnbull’s performance (up five), and 38% disapproved (down six), for a net rating of +17, up 11 points. Shorten’s net approval dropped three points to -16. Turnbull led Shorten by a massive 57-30 as better PM (51-33 in June).

Both Turnbull’s approval rating and his better PM rating were his highest since March 2016. While Ipsos gives Turnbull better ratings than other polls, these ratings for Turnbull are still very strong.

The ConversationLabor led the Coalition by 48-41 on health (50-35 in June 2016). Labor also led on education 49-42 (51-37 previously) and the environment 49-35 (46-28). The Coalition led on the economy 60-33 (58-29), and on asylum seekers 45-41 (47-32 previously).

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

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

Crucial Super Saturday Labor victories a major fillip for Shorten


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Bill Shorten has received a major boost from the Super Saturday byelections, retaining the crucial seats of Braddon and Longman and putting his hold on the Labor leadership beyond any doubt.

A triumphant Shorten, appearing on Saturday night with a victorious Susan Lamb in Longman, declared: “What a great night for the Labor party! What a great night for Labor women candidates!” Labor had won “four from four” of its seats in the Super Saturday contests.

Late Saturday night, on counting so far, Lamb led the Liberal National Party’s Trevor Ruthenberg by 55-45% on the two-party vote – a swing to Labor of about 4%.

The Liberal National Party primary vote plunged in the Queensland seat by around 10 percentage points, to about 28%, a big concern for the government in what will be a vital state at next year’s election. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation polled 15% – six percentage points higher than at the last election.

The ALP’s Justine Keay in Tasmania’s Braddon had a two-party lead of 52-48% over her Liberal opponent Brett Whiteley, almost no change from 2016.

The Liberals received a whipping in the South Australian seat of Mayo, where crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie held off a challenge from the Liberals’ Georgina Downer. Sharkie was leading 58-42% on the two-party vote, a swing towards her of about 3%.

In the other two contests, Fremantle and Perth in Western Australia, where the Liberals did not run, the ALP has predictably held its seats. Josh Wilson has been returned in Fremantle. Patrick Gorman, a one-time staffer to Kevin Rudd, is the new member for Perth, replacing Tim Hammond, who quit for family reasons.

Apart from Perth all the byelections were caused by the MPs having to resign in the citizenship crisis.

The Braddon and Longman outcomes dash the hopes of ALP frontbencher Anthony Albanese of wresting the opposition leadership from Shorten. Albanese had positioned himself in recent weeks in case the ALP had bad results.

The results also scotch any possibility of a premature election, although Malcolm Turnbull has always been adamant the poll will be next year.

Both government and Labor put enormous effort and resources into the battles in Longman and Braddon, with multiple visits by Shorten and Turnbull.

Despite it talking down expectations, the results are a deep disappointment for the government, which had hoped it might snatch at least one of Braddon or Longman, and at the start of the campaign had hopes of winning Mayo although it quickly gave these up.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen tweeted: “Malcolm Turnbull said these by-elections were a referendum on leadership. Labor is winning four and the Libs can’t regain the formerly safe seat of Mayo”.

The president of the Queensland Liberal National Party, Gary Spence said of the Longman outcome: “It wasn’t the result we were hoping for”; it was “somewhat of a disappointing result”.

He said it reflected that the Australian people were over the citizenship issues and wanted to pay respect to the 2016 election result. Other reasons included that byelection history was against the government, and Labor, with its leader under pressure, had spent a huge amount on advertising in the final week, Spence said.

Conceding in Longman, Ruthenberg said it had been “a strange election – in that while I have lost, the community will still benefit from the commitments I’ve been able to secure from the Prime Minister and his team of ministers.”

Liberal backbencher Trent Zimmerman, reflecting the government’s line, claimed on the ABC that the government had “done very well”, containing the swing.

In her victory speech Sharkie, from the Centre Alliance which was formerly the Nick Xenophon Team, said her win was “because of people power”. She said it showed “you don’t need huge wads of money”, “you don’t need huge political machines”. She had been “crushed” the day she resigned, “but today is really sweet”.

Among her thanks, she paid tribute to former senator Nick Xenophon, saying he had given her a chance in 2016, when she won the seat.

The ConversationDowner said that “a byelection is always tough for a government”. Liberals expect Downer to run again for the seat at next year’s election. Senator Anne Ruston told the Liberal campaign function: “ I have no doubt one day Georgina will be the member for Mayo”.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Byelection guide: what’s at stake on Super Saturday


Rob Manwaring, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, and Michael Lester, University of Tasmania

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have been criss-crossing the country for weeks to spruik their parties’ candidates in Saturday’s all-important byelections – a key test for both the Liberals and Labor ahead of the next federal election.

Here’s what you need to know about the five electorates up for grabs and, with a federal election likely in the first half of 2019, what’s at stake for Turnbull and Shorten.


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Longman

Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, University of Queensland

Longman’s very marginal status, held by Labor’s Susan Lamb by a slim 0.8% prior to her High Court-enforced resignation, makes this race the most tightly contested on Saturday.

Seasoned observers expect this to go the way of most byelection contests – largely distanced from broader federal concerns. Local issues are at play, dominated by arguments over funding for the Caboolture hospital in the electorate north of Brisbane, as well as for local education and employment support services.

Yet, the race is also being touted by some as a judgement on the major parties’ signature economic policies, and significantly on the performances of both party leaders. Labor has campaigned hard on the merits of the Coalition’s proposed company tax cuts. The Liberals, meanwhile, have fanned fears among retirees about Labor’s proposed investment savings changes.

Longman is a typical marginal seat in the outer suburban fringe, home to what a dozen years ago would have been called “Howard’s battlers”. The electorate provides a platform for the major parties to road-test policy differentiation and campaign messages on “average voters” ahead of the next federal election.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: ‘Super Saturday’ is not so super in Labor’s eyes


It’s also fertile ground for the growing distrust of mainstream politics. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has been prominent in the electorate, attempting to capitalise on negative voter sentiment toward the major parties. Her party even enlisted former Labor leader Mark Latham’s support, voicing robocalls to local residents attacking Shorten.

Lamb is attempting to be re-elected to the seat she won unexpectedly from the LNP’s Wyatt Roy in 2016. She benefits from recognition as the incumbent and has the strong backing of her party leader. Shorten made a beeline for Longman ahead of the announcement of the byelection date to spruik his candidate.

LNP’s Trevor Ruthenburg also enjoys recognition of sorts as a previous state MP for nearby Kallangur. However, he might have spurned some conservative Longman voters with fresh revelations of an incorrectly claimed military service medal in his Queensland parliament biography.

Among the minor party candidates, One Nation’s Matthew Stephen will also need to overcome questions regarding his business dealings to build on his party’s 9.4% primary vote in the 2016 election.

Labor’s concerted campaigning has Lamb a slight favourite to be returned. However, a Coalition win might convince Turnbull to call an early election. This then raises the question: could a poor result for Labor put enough pressure on Shorten to prompt the party to change leaders to better combat the PM’s standing?


Braddon

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

For an election that won’t change the status quo in parliament, the Braddon byelection is getting a great deal of attention.

Both Turnbull and Shorten have made multiple visits to campaign for their candidates, with support also coming from of a host of their cabinet and shadow cabinet colleagues.

Braddon is a notoriously fickle electorate, having changed hands four times since 1996, and the margins are always tight. This election is no different. All the polls indicate it is a close race.

In 2016, Labor’s Justine Keay won the seat with a 2.2% lead over then-sitting Liberal member Brett Whiteley. She was later forced to resign after her UK citizenship was revealed. Both candidates are standing again, but neither is considered to have strong personal followings.

Polls in the first week of July showed the gap between the parties has narrowed. This means the result will likely come down to the preferences of independents and minor parties, particularly the Greens’ Jarrod Edwards, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Brett Neal and independent Craig Garland. All three are likely to favour Labor.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the federal government’s tax package, the ABC and the ‘Super Saturday’ byelections


The differences between the campaign styles and tactics of the two major parties are striking.

The Liberals have used incumbency at both the state and federal level to frame their campaign around their economic records and budget infrastructure spending, holding photo opportunities around a series of project announcements.

Labor, meanwhile, is using the campaign to road-test a swag of policies and messages. Key among them are wage stagnation, the loss of penalty rates, the “scourge of labour hire companies”, the bad behaviour of banks and the Liberals’ support for corporate tax cuts.

Shorten took most by surprise by also promising an AU$25 million grant to support a Tasmanian AFL team at a time when the Aussie game is in crisis in one of its foundation states. However, Labor seems to be getting better traction with promises to restore funding for essential services like health care and education.

The real impact of the Braddon byelection is likely to be on the political future of the two party leaders, the timing of the next federal election and the choice of the policies they choose to run on.


Mayo

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University

The campaign in Mayo is symptomatic of a wider problem that has beset Liberals in South Australia – a failure to lock in so-called blue-ribbon safe seats.

Mayo is now a straight two-way fight between the incumbent Centre Alliance’s Rebekah Sharkie and Liberal Georgina Downer. Downer’s success or failure could well be a strong signifier of the strength of Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

Polling has Sharkie on track to hold onto the seat, despite her citizenship problems triggering the byelection. A late-June Reachtel poll had Sharkie leading Downer by 62% to 38% in two-candidate voting.

Sharkie’s surge in the polls is striking, given that a large part of her win over then-Liberal Jamie Briggs in 2013 seemed to rest on the personal unpopularity of Briggs.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


Yet, as has been proven in state-level races in South Australia before, voters in notionally safe “non-Labor” seats are often reluctant to give up strong local independents. Despite its disappointing showing in the recent state election, the Xenophon team retains deep residual support in South Australia.

The Mayo campaign is an intriguing confluence of local and national issues. Sharkie is pushing hard on a range of local issues, and her support to have the Great Australian Bight listed for World Heritage status to safeguard it from oil drilling also targets a perceived weakness of Downer’s – environment issues.

Downer, seeking to secure her family dynasty, is playing to different strengths – especially her close network with the Liberal hierarchy. (She is the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander.) Since announcing her candidacy, Downer has had notable visits from Turnbull and others. She boasts influence unavailable to her rivals, evidenced by her securing of federal funding for a new aquatic centre in Mount Barker.

Strikingly, immigration has become a new issue in the campaign. Downer’s comments about immigration may stoke local fears that the Inverbrackie site will be re-opened for mainland asylum seeker detentions.


Perth and Fremantle

Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, Murdoch University

Labor will win both races being contested in Western Australia in Saturday’s byelections. That’s not a brave prediction. The Liberals aren’t running candidates.

Some analysts believe it was the wrong decision by the Liberals, given that a minimal campaigning effort wouldn’t have cost that much and it’s unclear how voters will react when the Liberals do put up candidates in the federal election.

But the decision actually makes a lot of sense. Labor has held both seats – Perth and Fremantle – for much of their existence. (The electorates were created in 1901.) Labor even held on in Fremantle in the 1975 election, which was the last time it lost Perth.

On top of this, the WA Liberals had been swept from government last year as a result of a 20% swing against them across the state. And there were no signs of the federal Liberals doing much to change anything.

So, while Perth’s 3.3% margin looks close, the Liberals chose not to run a candidate there. Likewise in Fremantle, which is even less competitive, with a margin of 7.5%. The decision not only saves the Liberals money, it won’t expose their weak support in WA.




Read more:
Liberal rebel Dean Smith to fight party decision not to contest Perth byelection


Some Liberals may have regretted the move after the party won the byelection for the state seat of Darling Range last month, but Labor got a lot wrong in that campaign.

The Liberals’ decision not to run in Perth and Fremantle has brought the Greens more into the spotlight. With no other seats to talk about and no major party competition to drown them out, the Greens should be able to do something meaningful in these byelections.

Perth and Fremantle are exactly the type of inner metropolitan seat the Greens should be favoured to win, but their candidates have never gained more than 18% of first-preference voting in previous contests in the electorates. And nothing looks likely to change this time around.

The ConversationIf Greens candidates can’t put themselves in a position to win Perth and Fremantle in these byelections and demonstrate they are to be a meaningful political force, then they likely never will.

Rob Manwaring, Senior Lecturer, Politics and Public Policy, Flinders University; Chris Salisbury, Research Associate, The University of Queensland; Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer of Australian Politics, and Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

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

Leaders seek underdog status in byelection battle to be top dog


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have entered the final week of the high-stakes Longman and Braddon byelections both publicly cautious about their prospects.

Latest polls show close numbers in the two seats, held by the ALP by narrow margins. These are the crucial contests in the five Super Saturday playoffs. Labor has a clear run in the two Western Australian seats; Mayo (South Australia) is between crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie and the Liberals’ candidate Georgina Downer.




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Disillusioned voters find it easy to embrace a crossbencher like Rebekha Sharkie


In Longman (Queensland), a ReachTEL poll commissioned by the Courier Mail has the Liberal National Party leading Labor 51-49%. In Braddon (Tasmania), where Labor has become increasingly confident, a poll commissioned by the forestry industry and also done by ReachTEL shows Labor on 52% of the two-party vote, although its primary vote is only 34.3%.

But polling in single seats has to be treated with particular caution.

The outcomes in Longman and Braddon are vital for Shorten, who would face very serious leadership instability if he lost both seats, and a rough patch if the ALP were defeated in one. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has been positioning ahead of Super Saturday.

Shorten, speaking on Sunday in Longman at Susan Lamb’s formal campaign launch, said: “We are the underdogs”.

“The bookmakers have the other mob as the favourites. Now of course the LNP and the One Nation political party have teamed up again and are swapping preferences just to try to knock us off”.

In a strong attack on Pauline Hanson, Shorten said she didn’t like being called out for “pretending to be a friend of the battlers when all she wants to do is to get back on the plane to Canberra and vote with the big end of town”.

The size of the One Nation vote, where it comes from, and how its preferences split in practice will be critical in the Longman result.

One Nation has been targeting Shorten fiercely in its advertising. For example, he is depicted with a sheep and the message, “This year Bill Shorten and Susan Lamb voted with The Greens 100% of the time”.

Anti-Labor corflute in the federal electorate of Longman in Queensland.
Supplied

Asked on Sunday whether he was encouraged by the polling in Longman, Turnbull said that on all the evidence the byelections appeared to be “very close” but “Labor should be streets ahead”.

“By-elections historically always swing away from the government. Particularly if it’s an opposition seat. The last time a government won a seat in a by-election from the opposition was about 100 years ago and there’s a reason for that.”




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the Mayo byelection and crossbenchers in the parliament


He said people in Longman and Braddon, as well as in Mayo, had “the opportunity to say what they think about Bill Shorten’s plan for higher taxes and more expensive electricity and his plan for weaker borders”.

Turnbull was in the Queensland seat of Herbert ahead of a visit to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

On Saturday, campaigning in Longman with LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg , Turnbull said “Trev’s got the odds against him but he’s a great candidate. He’s a straight shooter. He’s as honest as he is big!”. He could “absolutely” win, although it was “tough”.

The ConversationBoth sides are throwing around the dollars in multiple promises in Longman and Braddon. Labor’s promises could only be made good if the ALP won the general election next year.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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