Liberals’ victory in Tasmanian election is more status quo than ringing endorsement


AAP/Sarah Rhodes

Michael Lester, University of TasmaniaThe Tasmanian Liberal government has been returned for a record third term, vindicating premier Peter Gutwein’s decision to go to an election a year early.

However, rather than the big swings to the incumbent governments seen in recent elections in Queensland and Western Australia due to their management of the pandemic, the result in Tasmania maintained the status quo.

While benefiting from Gutwein’s high personal popularity due to his management of the pandemic, the Liberal vote fell slightly from 50.3% at the 2018 election to 48.8% at the close of counting late on Saturday night. However, Labor’s vote fell 4.5% to just 28%.




Read more:
Liberals likely to retain majority in Tasmania; Biden’s ratings after 100 days


The Liberals are poised to win 13 seats in the 25-seat House of Assembly, Labor nine, the Greens two and one independent.

Under Tasmania’s Hare Clark proportional electoral system, five members are returned from five seats. These are Bass in the state’s north, Braddon in the north-west, Clark and Franklin in the greater Hobart area and southern region, and Lyons, which sprawls across the state’s centre and east coast.

To win a seat, each candidate needs to win 16.6% of the formal vote but, based on the percentage of vote for each party group, it is clear the Liberals will win three seats in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, two seats in Franklin and most likely two seats in Clark.

Labor’s nine seats include two in Bass, Braddon, Franklin and Lyons but only one in the party’s former stronghold of Clark. The main reason for this is the loss of votes to two high-profile independents – Glenorchy City Council mayor Kristie Johnston and the former Liberal speaker Sue Hickey – one of whom is predicted to win a seat on preferences.

The Greens vote is up 2% to 12.3% statewide, securing the two seats they held in the previous parliament in Clark and Franklin, but not enough to win further seats.

Labor leader Rebecca White conceded defeat on Saturday night, congratulating Gutwein on winning the election and for his high personal vote after securing almost half the available votes in his electorate of Bass. This is among the highest individual votes in the modern era.




Read more:
As Tasmanians head to the polls, Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein hopes to cash in on COVID management


Gutwein claimed victory but stopped short of declaring he had secured a majority, saying only it appeared “increasingly likely”.

The election outcome means a return to the one-seat majority his government held just prior to the election. He also made history by securing the Liberals a record third term in office in Tasmania.

While the balance of seats remains much the same, there will be a turnover of members with some new faces replacing former MPs.

In the government line-up, Hickey, who was ousted from the Liberal Party a few days before the election was called, looks likely to be replaced by former Labor MP turned independent Madeleine Ogilvie, who switched to the Liberals just days after Gutwein announced the election.

In Braddon, first-term MP Felix Ellis lifted his vote by 6.1% while scandal-prone former MP Adam Brooks has edged ahead of housing minister Roger Jaensch and may replace him in the Liberal team.

On the opposition benches, Kingborough Council mayor Dean Winter, who was the subject of a fierce factional battle to prevent him standing for Labor, will replace Labor frontbencher Alison Standen in Franklin.

In Bass, former Launceston mayor Janie Finlay is poised to replace Jennifer Houston in Labor’s line-up.

Tasmania also saw elections in two of the Legislative Council seats of Derwent in the state’s south and Windemere in the north. Labor MLC Craig Farrell defeated his Liberal rival, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw. In Windemere, where the sitting independent retired, Liberal candidate and television presenter Nick Duigan is leading Labor’s Geoff Lyons and independent Will Smith. That seat will be decided by preferences.

It will be 10 days before the final distribution of preferences can commence in the House of Assembly election due to the need to wait until all postal votes are counted. But only in Clark is there potential for this process to affect the election result.

Either way, it is either a Liberal majority or a Liberal minority government.The Conversation

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

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

Liberals likely to retain majority in Tasmania; Biden’s ratings after 100 days


AAP/Chris Crerar

Adrian Beaumont, The University of MelbourneWith 79% counted in Saturday’s Tasmanian election, the ABC is calling 12 of the 25 Tasmanian lower house seats for the Liberals, eight for Labor, two Greens and three undecided. Vote shares were 48.7% Liberals (down 1.5% since the 2018 election), 28.4% Labor (down 4.3%), 12.2% Greens (up 1.9%) and 6.3% for independents.

Tasmania uses the Hare-Clark system, with five electorates each returning five members. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%.

In The Poll Bludger’s projections, the Liberals are on 3.6 quotas in Bass, Labor 1.6 and the Greens 0.6. The Liberals will win three, Labor one and the last is Labor vs Greens.

In Braddon, the Liberals have 3.4 quotas, Labor 1.6, the Greens 0.3 and an independent 0.4. The most likely result is three Liberals and two Labor.

In Lyons, the Liberals have 3.1 quotas, Labor 2.0 and the Greens 0.5. A clear three Liberals, two Labor.

In Franklin, the Liberals have 2.5 quotas, Labor 2.0 and the Greens 1.1. The Liberals will win two, Labor two and the Greens one.

Finally in Clark, the Liberals have 1.9 quotas, Labor 1.3, the Greens 1.2 and Independents Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey 0.7 and 0.6 respectively. If this projection holds up, it is hard to see the Liberals not getting two Clark seats and a majority.

Adding it up, the most probable result of the Tasmanian election is 13 Liberals (steady since the 2018 election), eight Labor, two Greens, one Labor vs Greens in Bass and one independent in Clark (Hickey or Johnston).

Premier Peter Gutwein had called this election ten months earlier than scheduled, hoping to take advantage of high ratings attributable to COVID. A June 2020 Newspoll gave Gutwein an astonishing rating of 90-8 satisfied, almost certainly the best approval polled by any premier or PM in Australian polling history.

Gutwein gambled that his COVID popularity would get the Liberals to a majority while it remained an issue. It looks as if his gamble has succeeded. The Liberals are likely to retain government in Tasmania for a third term, while the same party is in power federally. This is a big achievement in a state that voted for Labor by 56.0-44.0 at the 2019 federal election.

The last publicly released poll, an EMRS February poll, gave the Liberals 52%, Labor 27% and the Greens 14%. In my election preview, a uComms poll for The Australia Institute gave the Liberals 41.4%, Labor 32.1%, the Greens 12.4%, Independents 11.0% and Others 3.1%.




Read more:
Tasmanian election preview: commissioned poll has Liberals likely short of majority


This commissioned poll was too low on the Liberals and too high on Labor and independents.

Liberals likely to gain Windermere in upper house, but Labor retains Derwent

Two of the 15 upper house seats were up for election for six-year terms. In Derwent, which Labor has held since 1979, they led the Liberals by 48.7% to 41.2%, with 10.0% for Animal Justice. In Windermere, held by a retiring conservative independent, the Liberals had 37.7% to Labor’s 26.8% with 21.2% for an independent.

Preferences have not yet been distributed for either seat, but Labor will clearly retain Derwent while the Liberals are likely to gain Windermere. The upper house will retain its 9-6 left-right split.

After first 100 days, Biden has 54% approval rating

It is 101 days since Joe Biden began his term as US president on January 20. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his ratings with all polls are 53.9% approve, 41.4% disapprove (net +12.5%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Biden’s ratings are 53.8% approve, 42.0% disapprove (net +11.8%). For the duration of his presidency, Biden’s approval has been between 53% and 55%.

FiveThirtyEight has ratings of presidents since Harry Truman (president from 1945-53). At this stage of their presidencies, Biden’s net approval is only ahead of Donald Trump and Gerald Ford (who took over after Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974).

The US economy, boosted by stimulus payments, appears to be recovering very well from COVID, but attempted illegal immigration has surged since Biden became president. The key question is how Biden’s ratings look at the November 2022 midterms, when the president’s party normally loses seats.The Conversation

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

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

Tasmanian election preview: commissioned poll has Liberals likely short of majority


AAP/Sarah Rhodes

Adrian Beaumont, The University of MelbourneThe Tasmanian election will be held on Saturday, with polls closing at 6pm AEST. A uComms poll for the left-wing Australia Institute, conducted April 21 from a sample of 1,023, gave the Liberals 41.4%, Labor 32.1%, the Greens 12.4%, Independents 11.0% and Others 3.1%.

This poll is in marked contrast to the last publicly available Tasmanian poll: an EMRS poll in February that gave the Liberals 52%, Labor 27%, Greens 14% and 7% for all Others.

The uComms poll is likely to be the only poll of the election campaign. There will be no pre-election EMRS poll, and Newspoll did not do a pre-election survey in 2018.

Analyst Kevin Bonham says there are many reasons to doubt this uComms poll. If previous uComms polls in November 2019 and 2020 are benchmarked against comparable EMRS polls, the Liberal vote is well below EMRS – and EMRS understated the Liberals by an average 1.8% at the last four Tasmanian elections.

Another reason to be sceptical is that Labor’s vote is only so high owing to the 7% who said they were initially undecided. When pushed, 67% of them backed Labor, implying a soft Labor vote. Polls that are not media-released should be treated cautiously, whether the commmissioning source is left or right-wing.

Bonham’s seat model has the Liberals winning around 12 of the 25 Tasmanian lower house seats if the uComms poll is correct, denying them a majority.




Read more:
As Tasmanians head to the polls, Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein hopes to cash in on COVID management


Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system

Tasmania uses the same five electorates for federal and state elections. At state elections, five members are elected per electorate using the Hare-Clark system, for a total of 25 lower house members.

If ordered from most Liberal to least at the 2019 federal election by Liberal vs Labor two party vote, the electorates are Braddon (53.4% to Liberal), Bass (50.4%), Lyons (44.8%), Franklin (37.8%) and Clark (33.8%). Independent Andrew Wilkie won Clark, but the two party vote ignores independents. The Liberal vote in Lyons would probably have been higher if not for candidate issues.

At the 2018 Tasmanian election, the Liberals won 13 of the 25 seats, to ten for Labor and two Greens. The Liberals won three seats in each of Bass, Braddon and Lyons, and two in both Franklin and Clark (called Denison then). Statewide vote shares were 50.3% Liberal, 32.6% Labor and 10.3% Greens.

With five members per electorate, a quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. Tasmania uses the Hare-Clark system with Robson rotation, which randomly orders candidates within a party group on ballot papers. This means there is no advantage to being the top candidate for your party.

Hare-Clark is a candidate-based system; people vote for candidates, and there is no above the line box to vote for your party. A formal vote requires at least five preferences in Tasmania.

For the distribution of preferences, all candidates who achieve a quota at any stage are elected, and their surplus over one quota transferred. When nobody remaining has a quota, candidates are eliminated, starting with the person with the lowest vote. Owing to exhaustion, final candidates elected often have less than a full quota.

Votes can leak out of a party’s ticket, costing them seats where they appeared ahead on first preferences. If votes split evenly among a bigger party’s candidates, those candidates can defeat a smaller party even if the smaller party was closer to quota. For instance, one party could have 1.8 quotas, but their two candidates have 0.9 quotas each, beating another party that had 0.85 quotas.

At this election, most electorates will feature Liberal vs Labor vs Greens contests, but Clark has two prominent independents: former lower house Speaker Sue Hickey, who sometimes opposed her Liberal party’s positions, and quit the party when she was not preselected; and local mayor Kristie Johnston.

These independents could explain the high vote for independents of 11% in the uComms poll, but Bonham is still sceptical. Polls that ask specifically for independents draw voters who will back independents if one that suits their politics stands. But as suitable independents don’t usually exist, they underperform their polling.




Read more:
Coalition and Morrison gain in Newspoll, and the new Resolve poll


Upper house elections

Two or three of Tasmania’s 15 single-member upper house seats are up for election every May for six-year terms, and this time the upper house elections will occur concurrently with the lower house.

This year, elections will occur in Derwent and Windermere. In Mersey, left-leaning independent Mike Gaffney was re-elected unopposed. That means nobody else nominated to run, so Gaffney was declared elected without an election.

Derwent has been held continuously by Labor since 1979, and they outpolled the Liberals 45.4% to 41.9% in 2018, despite the statewide thrashing. Windermere was held by retiring conservative independent Ivan Dean; in 2018, the Liberals won 54.6%, Labor 30.6% and the Greens 7.5%. The most likely outcome is Labor retaining Derwent while the Liberals gain Windermere.

According to Bonham, the upper house currently has five Labor, three Liberals, four left independents, two centre-right independents and one conservative independent. The 9-6 left majority could be reduced to 8-7 if the Liberals upset Labor in Derwent.

Bonham’s Tasmanian election guide, with links to both the lower and upper house electorates, has been of great assistance for this article.

Federal Essential poll and additional Newspoll questions

In this week’s federal Essential poll, conducted April 21-26 from a sample of 1,090, 42% said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible (down five since March), 42% said they would get vaccinated but not straight away (up two) and 16% said they would never get vaccinated (up four).

The bad publicity for the AstraZeneca vaccine over the blood clots issue has had an impact, with 27% saying they would be willing to get the Pfizer vaccine, but not AstraZeneca.

43% thought the vaccination rollout was being down efficiently (down 25 since early March), 63% thought it was being done safely (down ten) and 52% thought it would be effective at stopping COVID (down 11).

In Newspoll, 70% approved of Scott Morrison’s handling of the COVID pandemic, while 27% disapproved. That’s down from 82-15 approval last June. By 53-43, voters were satisfied with the vaccine rollout.The Conversation

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

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

As Tasmanians head to the polls, Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein hopes to cash in on COVID management


Sarah Rhodes/AAP

Michael Lester, University of TasmaniaTasmanian Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein is gambling on an early election to cash in on his government’s popularity due to its management of the COVID pandemic. It is a reasonable strategy, given how voters in Queensland and Western Australia have rewarded their governments in recent months.

Gutwein announced the May 1 election on March 26 – a year earlier than it is due. This was possible because, while Tasmania has a four-year maximum term, it does not have a fixed term, unlike all other states and territories.

In 2018 the Liberals, under then-Premier Will Hodgman, were returned to government with a bare majority of 13 of the 25 members of the lower house. Gutwein took over the premiership following Hodgman’s resignation in January 2020.

Over the past three years, the majority government has at times looked shaky. This was typified by maverick Liberal Clark MP Sue Hickey winning the speakership ballot with the support of Labor and the Greens against her party’s candidate. She has since voted against government legislation and policy on a number of policy and social reform issues.

Five days before calling the election Gutwein informed Hickey she would not get Liberal re-endorsement for the next election. She resigned from the party, putting the government into minority.

Having engineered a minority government and, despite written assurances from Hickey and ex-Labor, independent MP Madeleine Ogilvie on confidence and supply, Gutwein then called the election to secure “stable majority government”. His reasoning was that this would keep Tasmania in safe hands for ongoing management of COVID.




Read more:
Morrison’s ratings take a hit in Newspoll as Coalition notionally loses a seat in redistribution


A few days later, Ogilvie was endorsed as a Liberal candidate for Clark. This underlined the artificiality of the minority government argument.

Under Tasmania’s Hare-Clark proportional electoral system, five members are elected to each of five multi-member seats. These are Bass in the north, Braddon in the north west, Clark and Franklin in the greater Hobart and southern region, and the sprawling Lyons across the middle of the state.

Going into this election, the Liberals had 12 seats, Labor nine, Tasmanian Greens two and there were two independents.

In March 2020, before the pandemic, Labor leader Rebecca White was matching first Hodgman and then Gutwein as preferred premier.

However, that changed after Gutwein declared a state of emergency and the “toughest border restrictions in Australia”.

Like his counterparts in Queensland and WA, the hard-line stance was widely interpreted as keeping the state safe. Gutwein polled as high as 70% as preferred premier in opinion polls throughout 2020.

The election announcement caught Labor unprepared. The start of its campaign was sidetracked by factional battles over preselection of high-profile Kingborough Mayor Dean Winter for the seat of Franklin. It also had to deal with the resignation of state ALP president Ben McGregor from the campaign over crude text messages he sent to a female colleague some years ago.

The Liberals also have had their share of problems. Franklin candidate Dean Ewington was forced to resign when it was revealed he had attended anti-lockdown rallies against Gutwein’s policy. Ex-minister and now Braddon candidate Adam Brooks also faces police charges over alleged contraventions of gun storage law.

Tasmania has has three minority governments in the modern era. These are the 1989 Labor-Green Accord government, the 1996 Liberal minority government and the 2010 Labor-Green quasi-coalition government. In each case voters punished the major governing party at the following election.

Consequently, the prospect of a hung parliament is always a central election issue in this state. Both Labor and the Liberals have pledged to govern in majority or not at all. However, in their one campaign debate to date, both Gutwein and White indicated they would resign the leadership rather than lead a minority government. This seems to leave open the door for their replacements to take up negotiations to form government.

Federal issues and federal political leaders have had a minimal impact on the Tasmanian election. So far, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not visited the state during the campaign, even for the Liberal campaign launch. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has visited twice, including for Labor’s launch.

While Tasmania’s economy has held up surprisingly well during the pandemic – due in no small part to Commonwealth JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments – the end of those payments is likely to have a negative impact on the state’s economy. Some have pointed to this as an underlying reason for going to an election early.

Concerns about delays to the roll-out of COVID vaccinations and the possible distraction from the key state Liberal campaign theme of management of the pandemic may be another reason for keeping federal ministers away.




Read more:
WA election could be historical Labor landslide, but party with less than 1% vote may win upper house seat


For its part, Labor has campaigned on state Liberal failure to reduce hospital and housing waiting lists and the lack of action on a range of key infrastructure development promises made at the 2018 election. The opposition has also raised concerns about future budget spending cuts to fund high-cost COVID economic stimulus measures, TAFE privatisation and delays in replacing the Spirit of Tasmania ferries, which are vital for interstate transport, tourism and freight.

The Greens and key high-profile independent candidates such as Hickey and popular Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston in Clark have raised concerns about government secrecy, ministerial accountability and the state’s weak laws on political donations and, associated with that, poker machine licensing reforms.

There have been no public political opinion polls so far during this campaign. However, successive surveys by Tasmanian pollsters EMRS throughout 2020 placed the Liberals as likely to win more than 52% of the vote state-wide.

Since, historically, a party winning anything over 48% is likely to secure majority government in Tasmania, if those polls are reflected in the election outcome on May 1, another majority Liberal government seems likely.The Conversation

Michael Lester, PhD candidate, University of Tasmania

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

View from The Hill: New Zealand arrivals inject new irritation into federal-Victorian tensions


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews’ angst at the weekend about the multiple New Zealanders who arrived in Victoria via the travel bubble from New Zealand to New South Wales is, as much as anything, a pointer to the pressure the premier is under.

Andrews says his state chose not to be part of the bubble at this stage and he didn’t know these people were coming to Victoria. Now, he says, 55 have “turned up” from NZ.

The federal government counters that Victoria was at the meeting of the federal-state health officials committee where issues of New Zealanders travelling on were canvassed.

Andrews claims when Victoria asked the feds for details of the arrivals they were slow to pass it on. The feds deny a delay but say dealing with internal border issues is up to the states anyway.

The point is, this is a dispute of little consequence. New Zealand doesn’t have community transmission – the visitors are at the very bottom end of risk.

Andrews might be annoyed that these New Zealanders, and thus the Morrison government, have found a way to circumvent his refusal to sign up to the COVID “hotspot” definition and become part of the (one way) trans-Tasman bubble.

But Victoria has an open border for people going in (it’s a different matter for those exiting, for whom other states make the rules). So provided they’re told to abide by the current state restrictions, the presence of the New Zealanders is neither here nor there.

Western Australia is also complaining about New Zealand arrivals – it is in a rather different position because it has a hard state border.

The overall takeout is that those travelling from New Zealand in the “bubble” – which also involves the Northern Territory – might need to be given more information about the restrictions in particular states and internal borders before they leave NZ.

The micro takeout is that Andrews is picking an unnecessary fight. The verbal Victorian-federal tennis match over the New Zealanders is another indication of the tensions between the two governments.

Federal ministers tried to twist Andrews’ arm ahead of Sunday’s announcements about the next stages of opening in Victoria.

Andrews announced a range of restrictions would be relaxed from midnight. People can travel 25 kilometres from their home for shopping and exercise (widened from five). Groups of up to ten from two households will be able to gather in an outdoor places for exercise or a picnic.

Hairdressers can open, but people can’t have visitors over to watch next weekend’s AFL final (played in Queensland).

Retail isn’t scheduled to reopen open until November 2, when restaurants will be open to diners (with limits), and people will be able to leave home for any reason.

With new cases in single figures for the last five days, Andrews indicated the timetable could move faster than outlined.

The politically embattled premier is determined to minimise risks in bringing the state out of lockdown. The federal government and business community continue to rail. Andrews may judge that he’s taken the attacks from those quarters and the greater immediate danger to him is the possibility of a fresh tick-up in virus numbers.

The eventual fallout – in lost businesses, in the public’s judgement of Andrews – will be months, possibly years, in the coming.

In the meantime, whether his ultra-caution is excessive or well-judged will be fiercely debated.

He maintains it’s all on the health advice.

When asked how come his advice was at odds with the position of the federal government and epidemiologists who disagree with him, his edginess was obvious.

“I will put it to Minister [Greg] Hunt and anybody else
who has a view about these things, I don’t accept that anybody has a more complete picture of what this virus is doing in Victoria than the Victorian chief health officer, the Victoria deputy chief health officer, the Victorian health minister and the Victorian premier.” And so he went on.

Some Victorians will welcome the timetable as tangible hope in a bottle. More than a few small business owners will see the hairdresser across the road opening and ask, why not us?

The Australian Industry Group described the announcement as “plodding steps in the right direction”, while raising a nightmare scenario, saying businesses “still have no certainty that [they] will not be forced to shut again after they have been allowed to reopen”.

The federal government’s impatience with Victoria was on show again in a Sunday statement from Prmie Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt, which highlighted economic and mental health costs.

“Victoria’s three-day rolling average is now below two cases per day. Maintaining this result will make a strong case for the retail and hospitality sectors to reopen before the next review date in November,” they said.

“The continued health, mental health and financial impacts of these restrictions will be profound on many Victorians. That is why we encourage Victoria to move safely and quickly towards the NSW model of strong contact tracing and a COVID-Safe but predominately open economy.”

As Morrison and the ministers say, “the national picture is a positive one” in terms of case numbers and handling them. Yet politically, the national handling of COVID continues to fray.

The conflicts around the blunders and inadequacies that led to the Victorian second wave, the imminent Queensland election in which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is relying substantially on her COVID record, with its tough border policy, and WA’s semi-secessionist mindset are all straining the federation.

The national cabinet initially managed dissent among the various governments. But presently the disunity is swamping the unity.
To the extent possible, it is important Morrison keep together what has become an unwieldy beast.

While COVID in Australia may be substantially under control when we say a thankful goodbye to 2020, 2021 will be a challenging year that would only be made more difficult by excessive fractiousness within the federation.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.

Coalition regains Newspoll lead; time running out for Trump



AAP/Dean Lewins

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Newspoll, conducted September 16-19 from a sample of 2,068, gave the Coalition a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for the Coalition since the previous Newspoll, three weeks ago.

Primary votes were 43% Coalition (up two), 34% Labor (down two), 12% Greens (up one) and 3% One Nation (steady) – all figures from The Poll Bludger.

65% were satisfied with Scott Morrison’s performance (up one), and 31% were dissatisfied (down one), for a net approval of +34. Anthony Albanese’s ratings fell into negative territory: his net approval was -1, down three points. Morrison led Albanese as better PM by 59-27 (58-29 last time).

The last Newspoll had the Coalition’s lead dropping from 52-48 to a 50-50 tie, while Morrison’s net approval was down seven points. This Newspoll implies movements in the previous Newspoll may have been exaggerated.

It is also possible the federal Coalition is benefiting from restrictions to fight coronavirus becoming less popular in Victoria. A Morgan Victorian state poll (see below) gave Labor a narrow lead, but that lead was well down on the November 2018 election result. In other state polls, there was a clear surge to the incumbent government.

Australian state polls: Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania

A Victorian SMS Morgan poll, conducted September 15-17 from a sample of 1,150, gave Labor a 51.5-48.5 lead over the Coalition, a six-point gain for the Coalition since the November 2018 state election. Primary votes were 38.5% Coalition, 37% Labor and 12% Greens. Morgan’s SMS polls have been unreliable in the past.

A South Australian YouGov poll, conducted September 10-16 from a sample of 810, gave the Liberals a 53-47 lead over Labor, a six-point gain for the Liberals since March, likely due to the state’s handling of coronavirus. Primary votes were 46% Liberals (up seven), 35% Labor (down three) and 10% Greens (down one).

Liberal Premier Steven Marshall had a massive surge in net approval, to +52 from -4 in March. Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas had a +22 net approval.

A Tasmanian EMRS poll, conducted August 18-24 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 54% (up 11 since the last publicly released EMRS poll in March), Labor 24% (down ten) and the Greens 12% (steady). Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein led Opposition Leader Rebecca White by 70-23 as better premier (41-39 to White in March).

Time running out for Trump

This section is an updated version of an article I had published for The Poll Bludger last Thursday.

Six weeks before the November 3 election, FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 6.8% lead over Donald Trump (50.3% to 43.5%). This is an improvement for Trump from three weeks ago, when he trailed by 8.2%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.6% in Michigan, 6.6% in Wisconsin, 4.6% in Pennsylvania, 4.5% in Arizona and 2.0% in Florida.

In my article three weeks ago, the difference in Trump’s favour between the Electoral College tipping-point state and the national vote had widened to three points, but this difference has fallen back to about two points, with Arizona and Pennsylvania currently two points more favourable to Trump than national polls.

If Biden wins all the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he gets exactly 269 Electoral Votes, one short of the 270 required for a majority. Maine and Nebraska award one EV to the winner of each of their Congressional Districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states award their EVs winner-takes-all.

Under this scenario, Biden would need one of either Nebraska’s or Maine’s second CDs for the 270 EVs required to win the Electoral College. Nebraska’s second is a more likely win for Biden as it is an urban district.

The US economy has rebounded strongly from the coronavirus nadir in April. Owing to this, the FiveThirtyEight forecast expects some narrowing as the election approaches. Every day that passes without evidence of narrowing in the tipping-point states is bad news for Trump. Biden’s chances of winning in the forecast have increased from a low of 67% on August 31 to 77% now.

While Trump has improved slightly in national polls, some state polls have been very good for Biden. Recently, Biden has had leads of 16 points in Minnesota, 21 points in Maine, 10 in Wisconsin and 10 in Arizona.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 43.2% approve, 52.7% disapprove (net -9.5%). With polls of likely or registered voters, his ratings are 44.0% approve, 52.8% disapprove (net -8.8%). In the last three weeks, Trump has gained about two points on net approval, continuing a recovery from July lows.

The RealClearPolitics Senate map has 47 expected Republican seats, 46 Democratic seats and seven toss-ups. If toss-ups are assigned to the current leader, Democrats lead by 51-49, unchanged from three weeks ago.

Coronavirus and the US economy

The US has just passed the grim milestone of over 200,000 deaths attributable to coronavirus. However, daily new cases have dropped into the 30,000 to 50,000 range from a peak of over 70,000 in July. Less media attention on the coronavirus crisis assists Trump.

In the US August jobs report, 1.4 million jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell 1.8% to 8.4%. The unemployment rate has greatly improved from its April high of 14.7%.

The headline jobs gained or lost are from the establishment survey, while the household survey is used for the unemployment rate. In August, the household survey numbers were much better than the establishment survey, with almost 3.8 million jobs added.

It is probably fortunate for Biden that the September jobs report, to be released in early October, will be the last voters see before the election. The October report will be released November 6, three days after the election.

I believe Trump should focus on the surging economy in the lead-up to the election, and ignore other issues like the Kenosha violence and culture war issues. Particularly given the Supreme Court vacancy, Biden should focus on Trump and Republicans’ plans to gut Obamacare.

Implications of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

On Friday, left-wing US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. While Democrats control the House of Representatives, only the Senate gets a vote on judicial appointments, and Republicans control that chamber by 53-47.

Even if Democrats were to win control of both the Senate and presidency at the November 3 election, the Senate transition is not until January 3, with the presidential transition on January 20.

There is plenty of time for Trump to nominate a right-wing replacement for Ginsburg, and for the Senate to approve that choice. That will give conservative appointees a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court.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.

Can I visit my boyfriend or my parents? Go fishing or bushwalking? Coronavirus rules in the Northern Territory and Tasmania


Shutterstock

Michael Lund, The Conversation; Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

Editor’s note: The following is current as at April 3, 2020. Things are changing quickly so best to keep an eye on the latest information from the NT government, the Tasmanian government and the federal government.

This article adds to the information we’ve published for New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, on South Australia and the ACT and Western Australia. We will bring you more information as we collect it.

According to Google Trends, some of the top coronavirus searches nationally in the past few days include “can I visit my parents coronavirus Australia?”, “can I go fishing during coronavirus?” and “can I go for a drive during coronavirus Australia?”

“Can I visit my boyfriend during coronavirus Australia?” was also a common one.




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We asked legal experts Ros Vickers at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory and Brendan Gogarty at the University of Tasmania to help shed some light on what the new rules might mean for residents of their state and territory.

Can I visit my parents?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Ros Vickers, NT: The short answer is yes, provided you comply with the social distancing being less than 10 people inside or outside with 4m² available to each. The Chief Minister has announced the NT will not be enforcing the two-person gathering rules.

The answer differs if your parents are in an aged care facility. If you classify as, “a person providing care and support to a resident of the facility” you can visit for up to two hours per day.

But you must meet the other criteria of health and non-exposure to COVID-19.

Brendan Gogarty, Tas: It depends.

If they live in their own home, the policy answer is no; there is a stay at home declaration. However, this has been written on the fly and there are some significant gaps in it that suggest maybe you can.

The exceptions are to provide social support, which is not defined. The other exception is provision of care to attend to another person’s compassionate needs – well, care is a really broad word; it could mean a lot of different things.

If you are going to your parents house to provide “social support” and “care” you can probably do it.

If they live in a care facility, the owner of the facility is under strict public health rules so it depends on the facility. That includes, at the least, restricting the number of visitors in a room, the distance between them, and other measures intended to stop the transmission of COVID-19. These override a family member’s right to visit the relative.

The general policy is don’t do it.




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Can I go bushwalking/fishing?

Ros Vickers, NT: Most national parks are now closed, although you can still go bushwalking on local trails provided you practise social distancing.

Campgrounds, multi-day walks, swimming spots and high-use day areas are closed.

The NT chief minister Michael Gunner said you can go fishing with your family or your housemates and maintain social distancing with other people.


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Fishing in remote communities is not allowed as you are not able to get a permit to enter Remote communities in the NT. The following places are open for fishing:

  • Darwin Harbour
  • Dundee
  • Leeders Creek
  • Bynoe Harbour
  • Channel Point
  • Adelaide River (mouth)
  • Cox Peninsula
  • Shoal Bay

Brendan Gogarty, Tas: No and no. But also maybe yes.

All national parks and state reserves are closed by law in Tasmania. That means no camping, walking, or any recreational activity – some research and volunteering exceptions exist, but these are limited – and all gates and access points are shut. Some smaller parks do fall under local council authority and those may be on a case-by-case basis.

Fishing is not an exception to the stay at home declaration, so technically this is not permitted (unless you count it as “exercise”).

However, there is conflicting policy (not law) advice from the department that regulates recreational fishing in Tasmania, which says you can do it so long as you respect social distancing rules. Of course, departmental websites aren’t law, but it could be seen as a “reasonable excuse” under the present stay at home declaration.

For the minute, it is better not to do it, although you probably could make an excuse to do it.




Read more:
Can mosquitoes spread coronavirus?


Can I go for a drive?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Ros Vickers, NT: Essential travel is allowed, being travel to work, education, grocery shops or medical help.

At present there are no police checks regarding movement, and no indication that this will be monitored by police. You can ride a bike within certain restrictions.

Border restrictions apply at the NT borders.

Brendan Gogarty, Tas: You can drive to and from whatever essential service you need to get to like work, going to the vet or to get food. But no recreational driving.




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If coronavirus cases don’t grow any faster, our health system will probably cope


Can I visit my girlfriend/boyfriend?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Ros Vickers, NT: Yes, you can visit their private residence or exercise with them. Essential travel does not clearly include visiting partners, however visiting others and allowing guests in your house is allowed while practising physical distancing. It is also recommended that to reduce the spread of germs in households, handshaking and kissing be avoided.

Brendan Gogarty, Tas: That’s the same as your parents. The policy is you shouldn’t do it. You should both stay in your homes for the period of the crisis. But you have the same exceptions – provision of social support and care and attending to a person’s compassionate needs.

Again, I don’t think the police would necessarily stop you but its contrary to the policy behind the law – reducing people’s movement outside of their “primary” residence to only those journeys which are absolutely essential to sustaining life and health.




Read more:
The coronavirus lockdown could test your relationship. Here’s how to keep it intact (and even improve it)


Can I go for a walk around my neighbourhood or sit on a park bench?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Ros Vickers, NT: Yes, as long as you maintain social distancing of 1.5m with those who are not part of your household.

You can also go for a bike ride alone or with one other person, or with the people that you live with. (See Michael Gunner, chief minister of NT’s Facebook page.)

Brendan Gogarty, Tas: Yes, you can go for a walk if it is exercise. Sitting on a park bench is not exercise so I’d avoid doing it.




Read more:
Coronavirus: tiny moments of pleasure really can help us through this stressful time


The Conversation


Michael Lund, Commissioning Editor, The Conversation; Sunanda Creagh, Head of Digital Storytelling, The Conversation, and Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

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

Jacqui Lambie mixes battler politics with populism to make her swing vote count



Jacqui Lambie has signalled she will play hardball on a number of key issues to get what she wants in exchange for her vote.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Mark Kenny, Australian National University

In the hit biopic Rocket Man, the ambitious young Reginald Dwight is counselled to hide his working-class roots if he wants to make it in “showbiz”:

You gotta kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be.

Arriving in Canberra in 2013, Jacqui Lambie carried just that kind of baggage – the burden of tough starts, frequent setbacks, of being a fish out of water.
The former soldier is now back in the Senate for a second stint.

Her parliamentary reprise was not just something of a surprise, it lent the May 18 federal election a sense of restorative justice after her admittedly gaffe-prone first term was cut short in 2017 by a Section 44 citizenship hitch.




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She’d arrived in 2013 as a total unknown under Clive Palmer’s eponymous PUP.
Impulsive, frequently angry and clearly ill-prepared, Lambie soon cut ties with the irascible mining magnate, leaving him muttering about her ingratitude and a breach of promise.

Yet in 2019, when the eccentric millionaire ploughed upwards of A$60 million into a gaudy, winless nationwide campaign, Lambie triumphed on a shoestring, boosted by Tasmanians to fill the last available Senate spot.

But there was no Elton John-style artifice involved. Forming the Jacqui Lambie Network, she would defiantly trumpet her own name and working-class roots, parading herself as the real deal, pure battler, core-Apple Isle.

It was an exercise characterised by a brutal frankness about her past. Disarmingly so.

“I was a bloody wrecking ball,” she recently told Nine Newspapers, about why she was so controversial and had flamed out in her first period in Canberra.

I just had no idea what idea what I was doing. I’d come from ten years, basically between the bed, the couch and a couple of years in the psych ward.

Now she’s back. Better, stronger and wiser for the journey.

Already, the proudly rough-edged advocate for the battler state has had a significant impact while signalling to Prime Minister Scott Morrison that her vote for future government bills will carry a price.

How much? A fortnight ago, it was A$230 million to be forgiven for the state’s social housing debt.

The concession followed Lambie’s swift post-election support for the Morrison government’s signature A$158 billion election pledge of income tax cuts for low, middle and high-income earners.

The housing debt waiver was a solid victory for the frail Tasmanian economy. It was reminiscent of the fiercely parochial Brian Harradine – a conservative Catholic independent who used his pivotal vote through the Howard years to get special deals for the smallest state.




Read more:
View from The Hill: Jacqui Lambie plays the Harradine game


But Lambie’s response in the moment of victory betrayed her continuing lack of political polish.

Rather than hammer home the full weight of her achievement, she remarked that she should have asked for more, driven a harder bargain. Is this a harbinger of her approach in future fights? Probably.

What is clear is that the government’s concession, and the intent in her response, together underscore the importance of Lambie’s so-called swing vote.

With 35 senators and Cory Bernardi more or less in the bag also, Team Morrison needs a further three to reach the required majority of 39 votes in the Senate – assuming Labor and the Greens are offside.

That is, three out of the five crossbench votes comprising either the two Pauline Hanson votes plus Lambie, or the two Centre Alliance votes plus Lambie. A number of crucial bills loom.

Eager to scrape together a third-term agenda from the parched policy landscape of its unexpected victory, the Coalition is reheating ideas proposed and defeated in previous terms.

Two of them are the Ensuring Integrity Bill, which seeks to impose harsh new restrictions on unions and give the government unprecedented executive power to deregister them, and the expansion of drug testing for welfare recipients.

Lambie’s support is likely to be pivotal – depending on what the other two micro-parties do.

Another issue is the proposal to expand the cashless welfare card to reduce the incidence of welfare being spent on non-necessities.

All are controversial.

On drug testing for Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients, Lambie is playing hardball.

After initially signalling some sympathy for the plan – having seen her own son descend into ice addiction – she has since made it clear she will not support the measure unless, first, politicians agree to random drug and alcohol testing, and second, there are adequate rehabilitation facilities on the ground.

Ministers have raised no objections to being drug-tested, but rolling out enough beds for an estimated half-a-million Australians with drug-dependency issues (many of whom would not be on welfare it must be noted) is no small thing, especially as Lambie has said she wants the beds in place before she supports the testing.

Lambie’s abrasive style is such that predicting her attitude to legislation is not straightforward. This is because it is a mixture of working-class battler politics (not unlike traditional Labor values), tinged with a resentful outsider populism that tends to be more right-leaning.

Overlaid on that is Lambie’s adoption of Harradine’s successful Tasmania-first model.

Her emergence as a swing vote in the Senate puts her in a direct contest with Pauline Hanson, who already owns the populist right.

Either woman can potentially hold the whip hand on government legislation depending on the issue, but Lambie has more room to move.

For the government, that means treading carefully, keeping the lines of communication open, copping the odd spray, and hoping for no dramatic changes of opinion. This is never easy with Hanson, and even less predictable with Lambie.

Politics is often derided as show business for ugly people. Lambie seems intent on making it real business for real people – but with a touch of show business for good measure.The Conversation

Mark Kenny, Senior Fellow, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University

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


https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/287/78461d5072b825744d7c283b9901731f603a5d45/site/index.html


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.




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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.




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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.




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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.




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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.




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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.”




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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.