Essential Research: Coalition 56%, ALP 44%; More From Galaxy

There’s a new Essential Research poll out today, with findings that federal voting intention is unchanged from their survey last week at 56% to the Coalition as opposed to 44% for Labor.

As is often the case with Essential’s research findings, questions relating to approval and disapproval of the respective leaders, as well as a question on the preferred PM measure, appear not to have been asked this time around.

One interesting aspect of this poll is the “question of the missing point”: its findings (Liberals on 46, Nationals on 3, Labor on 32, Greens on 10 and “Others” on 8 ) add up to 99%, not 100%.

I wonder where the misplaced point was from?

Still, this survey simply reinforces the Herculean task Labor faces if it is to even be competitive at the next election, with support for the Coalition across the major polls stuck at 56-57% after preferences.

Speaking of that, more details from the Galaxy poll we looked at on Saturday are now available.

Galaxy — in addition to its questions on voting intention for the forthcoming Queensland state election — also asked its respondents about their intentions at the federal level.

According to its findings, Labor now registers just 23% of the primary vote — in consideration of a federal election — in Queensland.

After preferences, the figures are 63% to the Coalition and 37% to the ALP.

This represents a swing away from Labor in Queensland of 8% since last year’s federal election and — according to a lot of other commentary posted on the poll — would leave Kevin Rudd as the sole Labor MP in the House of Representatives from Queensland were the figures to be replicated at an election.

Certainly — if the swing were uniform and Galaxy’s findings accurate — Rudd (currently sitting on an 8.5% margin in Griffith) would just scrape home. Swings, especially larger ones, are rarely uniform, though.

However, I’m very wary about accepting that sort of prediction — Griffith did fall to the Liberals in 1996 (when Rudd stood the first time); personal vote in more recent times notwithstanding, there’s no guarantee Rudd will be re-elected in Griffith if a swing of that size is really on.

Indeed, the ALP could be wiped out altogether in Queensland; or one of the other traditional Labor seats on smaller margins (Oxley or Rankin) might hold for Labor as Rudd is swept away.

Oxley — then held by Bill Hayden — was the only seat that stuck to Labor in 1975, and even then only by a few hundred votes over a National Party candidate.

And in 1996, Rankin held whilst Oxley and Griffith were both lost; the seat of Brisbane at the time was also retained by the ALP, despite being a marginal seat before the 1996 election (whereas Oxley and Griffith were supposedly rock-solid).

So we’ll stick with headline figures rather than seat runs for now, as interesting as they might be!

Although if the polls stay in the proportions they are it could make for good sport to speculate which might go where as the election draws closer, and not just in Queensland.

Queensland Galaxy Poll: LNP 63%, ALP 37%

A new Galaxy Poll has appeared in today’s Courier-Mail; let’s look at the figures, and then analyse what they might mean.

The latest poll in advance of the pending state election in Queensland shows primary vote numbers of 52% for the LNP, 28% for Labor, 10% for the Greens, and 10% for “Others.” After preferences, this translates into a 63-37 lead to the conservative party.

With Campbell Newman well ahead on the preferred Premier measure (55 to 38), well-endorsed in his own approval ratings (55% approve, 28% disapprove) and Premier Anna Bligh on the nose (40% approve, 56% disapprove, and a tiny 4% undecided) it is clear that barring a miracle, the ALP’s hold on Queensland is likely to be broken at the election due by March 2012.

Figures from the Galaxy poll equate to a swing of 14.2% after preferences from the previous state election held in 2009; the article in the Courier-Mail accompanying the poll states that if replicated at an election, this would leave Labor with 10 seats in Queensland’s 89-member unicameral Parliament.

A quick check of the Queensland electoral pendulum suggests a swing of that magnitude, if uniform, would actually leave the ALP with nine seats (the tenth — Logan, the electorate of former Premier Wayne Goss — is held by 14.1%).

Even so, these figures suggest nothing less than a wipeout.

For comparison purposes, the last Newspoll conducted in Queensland for The Australian — three months ago — showed the LNP ahead by 57% to 43%; even that would only see 20 Labor members returned if replicated at an election.

I suspect there will be a Newspoll from Queensland in the next couple of weeks, given their state surveys there are quarterly.

I was originally a staunch opponent of the Liberal and National parties merging in Queensland; in many ways I still am, and view the pending return to government of the conservative parties there as largely the consequence of a turn in the electoral tide.

(Readers may like to see what I had to say at the time hereĀ http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/mergers-all-smoke-and-mirrors/story-e6frerdf-1111116272850 ).

The first observation I would make is that were the LNP not led by a Brisbane Liberal (or at least a Liberal from south-east Queensland) then it’s unlikely that party would be contemplating a return to government.

Since the final election win of Joh Bjelke-Petersen in 1986, the only conservative leader to win an election in Queensland was Rob Borbidge in 1995 (or 1996, after the Mundingburra by-election if you like).

Borbidge — a small businessman from the Gold Coast, and representing the uber-urban, uber-urbane electorate of Surfers Paradise — despite his familial National Party heritage, could just as easily have been a Liberal as a National.

The days of rigged boundaries in Queensland are gone, and with them went the days of cow cockies winning elections with a quarter of the primary vote.

I believe the LNP will win in Queensland — by a landslide — and that Campbell Newman will be Premier of Queensland by Easter next year.

Yet I maintain this will be in spite of the merger, not because of it.

Moving along, what I also wanted to talk about in relation to the Galaxy poll today is the Queensland state election result of 1974.

The parallels are stunning.

The state election held in Queensland in December 1974 occurred at a time when the then-most unpopular federal government in Australia’s history — Gough Whitlam’s Labor administration — was in power in Canberra.

The coming state election in Queensland will be held against the backdrop of the most unpopular federal government since Federation — Julia Gillard’s Labor administration.

In 1974, old Joh was determined that the state election that year was to be a referendum on the Whitlam government.

In 2012, the Queensland state election will be viewed across the country as a referendum on the Gillard government.

In 1974, Labor was in Opposition in Queensland; at the state election it lost 22 of its 33 seats (in an 82-member assembly at the time).

In 2012, Labor is in government, but of its 51 current seats, it stands to lose 40.

In 1974 — before the rise en masse of minor parties and independents — Labor won 11 of 82 seats with 36% of the primary vote (as opposed to 30 seats with 31.1% for the Liberals, and 39 seats with 28.9% for the Nationals).

And in 2012, Labor looks to be going in at this stage with 28%; the LNP 52%. Redistributing out the Greens (and remembering preference allocation in Queensland is optional) my best guesstimate of an underlying primary vote is LNP 56%, ALP 34%, “Others” on 10% — or overall, not much different to 1974.

Labor has attempted to make much of the fact Campbell Newman is contesting as leader from outside Parliament, and that the incumbent in his selected seat of Ashgrove — ex-Environment minister Kate Jones — has been an effective local member since replacing the long-serving Jim Fouras.

But Newman has been one of the most popular Lord Mayors Brisbane has seen, and certainly the most popular since Sallyanne Atkinson in the 1980s and early 90s; in a way, Brisbane generally is already his electorate.

And as capable as Jones may be, the historical reality is that she sits in a traditional Liberal electorate lost to that party in the disaster of 1983, recovered briefly in 1986, and lost again in the Goss landslide in 1989.

Fouras was run close in what should have been a conservative landslide in 1995, had the electoral boundaries been updated prior to that election; but he held on against the tide — and here we are.

The state seat of Ashgrove is overlapped by the safe Liberal federal electorate of Ryan, and largely covers the ultra-safe Liberal Brisbane City Council ward of The Gap.

There are various reasons as to why Ashgrove fell to Labor in 1983 in the first place, and why it has largely remained there.

As with other traditional Liberal electorates like Mount Ommaney, Mount Coot-tha, Mansfield and so forth, good candidate selection combined with a favourable electoral climate means 2012 is an excellent opportunity for Liberals to recover many of these seats — and with them, government.

My belief is that Labor will not be reduced to 10 seats, but will nonetheless be thoroughly enough smashed as to virtually ensure three terms in Opposition.

Yet if next year’s election is as dire as 1974, I can’t wait. Not just on account of my membership of the Liberal Party and personal conservative inclinations, but because as a keen watcher of politics, I’ve never seen an electoral mauling like that close-up. I was 2 at the time of the 1974 election, and thus too young to possibly recall it.

But as an ex-Queenslander and former member of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party prior to coming to Melbourne in 1998, I retain a very keen interest in the political goings-on of the Sunshine State.

Rest assured that come election night, if not fortunate enough to attend any of the local functions on the ground in Brisbane, I will be in front of the television here in Melbourne, watching every update in the count, and constructing my own analysis of the emerging trends and overall outcome.

We will revisit Queensland politics again in the run-up to next year’s election there.

It’s A Perfect Storm

Has a federal government in Australia faced such a perfect alignment of risk factors in the last 40 years as currently confronts Julia Gillard? Let’s do a short stocktake.

At the end of another tumultuous week in federal politics, I thought a quick review of the fortunes of the Gillard government might be in order.

There’s a new opinion poll out today — a Morgan poll, showing the Coalition ahead after preferences by 58.5% to 41.5%.

This simply caps off a run in the polls which by any reading suggests the Labor Party is headed to a massacre whenever the next election is called.

The saga over Craig Thomson bubbles on; most people have now likely formed a view, although these matters — properly, finally and belatedly — will be tested by the constabulatory and most probably in the Courts.

An excellent opinion piece appeared in today’s edition of The Australian: written by former Hawke government minister and NSW ALP Right strongman Graham Richardson, its summary of the situation befalling federal Labor — from a pro-Labor perspective — is breathtakingly honest and devastatingly effective.

You will find the article here.

Something we haven’t spoken about this week has been the “Convoy of No Confidence” — a ragtag assortment of truckies who descended on Canberra, demanding to be heard, and demanding a double dissolution election.

Whilst a double dissolution is consitutionally impossible at present, those involved in the Convoy sought to exercise a democratic right to be heard.

And they wanted an outcome: an election. Does it matter these people aren’t professors in constitutional law? Their intent was clear enough.

The response? To be dismissed by the government of the day — a political outfit dependent on votes from people just like these, and in enough trouble already — as the “Convoy of No Consequence” and other similarly insulting descriptives.

It’s little wonder the federal ALP is so reviled these days.

All the while, cost of living pressures continue to rocket, but the government is not for turning insofar as its proposed taxes on mining activity and carbon pollution are concerned — irrespective of the economic costs or damage.

And that damage is likely to be significant, at a time when the industrialised world is sliding into a global recession; never mind the mass unemployment such policies might engineer in this environment.

No, the obligations of federal Labor to the Greens — a neo-Communist outfit with marginal claims of legitimacy based on a defective system of proportional representation in the Senate — override any consideration of the common good.

Indeed, unemployment in Australia is already beginning to rise; consumer confidence is at historic lows; business confidence is flat; and investment in Australia is falling away apace.

Outside the minerals and energy sector — which Gillard and her communist mates over at the Greens are committed to kill — there’s not much happening in Australia in terms of positive economic activity.

The housing market — deflating e’er gently — remains poised to crash, taking the net worth of hundreds of thousands of Australians with it; paradoxically, housing remains in short supply, in no small part due to the ridiculous “reform” undertaken by the Rudd government which allowed non-residents to buy residential stock and which “reform” remains in place to this day.

And a taste of what may occur on the stock exchange was recently experienced, when Australian markets gave up tens of billions of dollars in the space of a few days on the back of an economic sneeze abroad — only to regain their losses when the international situation stabilised.

That event was a warning, not a hiccup, and should not be misinterpreted.

And courtesy of profligate government spending uder the ALP, Australia now carries sovereign debt of some $200 billion.

Low by international standards, yes; but given it was basically nil four years ago, that isn’t a defence. And especially in light of the experience of British Labour, which in thirteen years went from negligible debt to near-bankruptcy.

This is the logical end-consequence of a long-term “modern” Labour/Labor administration; there is a precedent in the example set during the four years of ALP government under Paul Keating.

We don’t need to follow the trend line nor the example in Australia.

And away from the headline federal polling, around the states the situation is dire for Labor.

The Liberal government in WA is likely to be re-elected in a landslide next year; its move from minority to majority a mere formality.

SA will fall heavily to the Liberals at the time of the next election there in 2014. As will the NT next year.

Queensland is poised to record an election triumph for the conservatives reminiscent of 1974, sweeping the ALP from office for a generation — the red herring of its new minority parties notwithstanding.

And in Victoria and NSW, new Liberal governments — despite early stumbles — are by all measurable accounts far more popular than their Labor opponents.

Tasmania is difficult to quantify owing to the dearth of research conducted there, but all indications suggest they too are fed up with their Labor government.

And federally, every state in the country is ready to savage the ALP. Given a uniform swing of 0.9% would deliver the Coalition a majority at the next election, current poll aggregates showing an average movement of 7% (and a 62-seat majority for the Liberals and Nationals) must surely be costing ALP strategists many a night’s sleep — even this far from a scheduled election.

Whichever way you cut it, things aren’t good for federal Labor.

And, if you’re a Labor person — like Graham Richardson — it’s fairly clear that the outcome will be, whenever that is, that it will all end in tears.

Did She Know? Gillard Directly Linked To Thomson Sex Saga

Explosive allegations published in the Murdoch press this evening have linked Julia Gillard directly to the gathering storm that threatens to destroy the ALP’s tenure in government.

Brisbane’s Courier-Mail reports that Gillard’s Chief-of-Staff, Ben Hubbard, rang the Industrial Registrar in 2009 in an attempt to ascertain whether Craig Thomson was under investigation for some of the alleged misdemeanours currently under public scrutiny.

The then-Industrial Registrar, Doug Williams, told Hubbard he was legally prevented from divulging information in the case, but the revelations raise significant questions.

Julia Gillard was deputy PM at the time; widely regarded (as unbelievable as it might seem today) as the brains trust and epicentre of competence in the Rudd government.

Why was her Chief-of-Staff sniffing around to discover whether Thomson was under investigation?

And — given most of the allegations against Thomson were briefly aired in public in 2009, before the gag of defamation proceedings against Fairfax extinguished scrutiny — what specific alleged offences did Gillard’s office wish to know were in play?

The Empress has had very few clothes to wear this week, and most of those in which she has been clad have been borrowed.

For example, her charges of “stinking hypocrisy” levelled at the Liberal Party over the issue of Senator Mary-Jo Fisher smack of desperation.

Senator Fisher is facing shoplifting and assault charges, but quietly and voluntarily stepped aside from her parliamentary committee duties — without the need for a public circus.

Gillard has accused Senator Brandis, the NSW Police Minister, and the NSW Police Commissioner of improper conduct — simply because Brandis rang his Sydney counterpart to advise he was sending information to the Police Commissioner.

And all the while — as we have discussed here at The Red And The Blue — Gillard has not only remained silent on the subject of Craig Thomson, but she and her cronies have gone out of their way to ensure the subject is not discussed, meaningfully, in any way, shape, or form.

One interesting factor in the material published in the Murdoch papers reflects the fact that at the time Gillard’s staffer made his inquiries, the Rudd government enjoyed majority status and its existence — electorally or otherwise — was under no perceived threat whatsoever.

Had there been a time to get rid of Thomson — safely, clinically, and with a solid majority in Parliament — it was then, in 2009, with Rudd riding high in the polls and a public still prepared to give the benefit of the doubt.

If there is any doubt on that point, remember Belinda Neal’s seat of Robertson was retained by the ALP in 2010 despite a lay-down misere hand being gifted to the Liberal Party in that electorate which — coincidentally — neighbours Thomson’s.

However, all of this is background. Let’s look to the meat in the sandwich.

The smug, self-assured denial that has characterised Gillard’s, and the government’s, response to these matters has in the 24 hours since it became inevitable that they would become the subject of Police scrutiny given way to shrill and hysterical attack.

It is inconceivable that the making of inquiries by Gillard’s Chief-of-Staff on such sensitive issues in 2009 were not directed by Gillard herself or — at the very least — that the feedback from those inquiries were not conveyed to her.

There would be no point in making them otherwise. Clearly, such a senior ministerial staffer does not make phone calls of that nature to while away his time.

And this convenient denial, again quoted from the Courier-Mail, insults the intelligence of even the averagely-intelligent citizen:

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “There is regular communication between ministerial chiefs-of-staff and senior public servants to confirm facts. Mr Hubbard has no specific recall of the conversation.”

How very, very convenient.

The trail is now leading to the door of the Prime Minister’s Office.

What until now has been an obvious fraud and criminal cover-up — by a person or by persons whose identities will be formalised by the official inquiries that will now take place — may very well end up to be shown as a conspiracy to evade the laws of the land on a far wider scale than has thus far been suggested.

The time for obfuscation, stalling, giving smart answers and blaming other people has now passed.

Australian people are sick of this scandal; the “elected” government has a debt to its public to provide full transparency and full disclosure on these issues.

Rather than saying that “any statement by the member for Dobell is a matter for him,” Julia Gillard should force Thomson to account for himself — in Parliament — in relation to these allegations.

Julia Gillard herself must also now explain to the Australian people what she knew, when, and what she sought to do about it — if anything.

The silence of Thomson is deafening, if expected.

But in the case of Gillard — someone who, on objective reflection, has much to offer — adolescent giggling, flicking hair, fluttering eyelids, cute denials and glib words do not cut the mustard.

People knew about this years ago; that we already know.

But it appears that none of this is news to Gillard: indeed, it’s more likely ancient history than breaking headlines.

The Red And The Blue — despite a wish to have something else to post about (I’m sick of it too!) — will nonetheless pursue this issue.

Honesty, probity, accountability and full disclosure…is it too much to ask?

One of the spin lines Gillard keeps rattling on about is that she seeks to be a traditional Labor Prime Minister with traditional Labor values.

Once upon a time — and I’m thinking well earlier than Whitlam — Labor values involved honesty, probity, accountability and full disclosure.

If you want to talk about stinking hypocrisy, look no further than Julia Gillard.

And if the PM wants to be a traditional Labor Prime Minister, it’s time to put her money where her mouth is.

Her government is at risk of falling, and her party is facing electoral oblivion.

It’s not too late to start, but the little Three Monkeys act that passes for Labor government is bleeding votes at a fearsome rate.

Gillard, for the love of God, it’s time to publicly level with the Australian electorate.

Gutless, Gormless Gillard Loses Control Over Charade

It had to happen sooner or later…

The announcement today by Health Services Union Secretary Kathy Jackson — Craig Thomson’s successor in the role — that the union would formally refer the credit card misuse scandal to the NSW Police is welcome, and long overdue.

It also means that attempts by the Prime Minister to ignore the issue are now at their end, and that any control she may have had over these matters has now been permanently lost.

And that’s a very good thing.

In a meeting that one account described as “tense,” the union’s executive agreed to refer the allegations to Police, which means that following the submission of some material to Police by shadow Attorney-General George Brandis early this week, they now appear certain to investigate Mr Thomson to ascertain whether charges can be laid against him for criminal misconduct.

The cynic in me is very surprised; there are powerful links between the HSU and the Labor Party, and on one level, the “cone of silence” and solidarity culture the ALP operates under might well have been expected to prevail.

Even so, I made the point last night that the allegations swirling around regarding the member for Dobell at present are no PR coup for the HSU or for the union movement generally; perhaps today’s decision was influenced by just such considerations.

We will never know, of course. Jackson did make the point today that the interests of her union were of greater importance to her than those of the ALP, although given she is the head of the HSU that should be her overriding position in any event.

The decision means that finally — one way or another — this whole episode, which has dragged on in some form for years, will now be thoroughly and rigorously examined, and charges laid against anyone who has committed a criminal act during its course.

It’s very true — as has been observed in other media today, notably by Laurie Oakes in his weekly segment on 3AW this morning — that any legal proceedings arising from investigations undertaken by Police and/or Fair Work Australia could drag on for months, or even a year or more.

But justice must run its course, and these matters must be fully probed.

Of course, if charges are laid against Thomson, then he is quite entitled to remain a member of Parliament until they are heard and finalised; irrespective of the length of time any proceedings take, and irrespective of whatever ongoing political damage they inflict upon the incumbent Labor government if, indeed, it remains in office.

It may be that the one remaining shot in the Labor arsenal to try to combat this is to simply expel Thomson from the ALP for bringing it into disrepute and to gamble that he wouldn’t support a no-confidence vote against Labor from the cross-benches.

And perhaps Labor, on balancing the political risks involved, should do just that.

Yet whatever happens from here in the matters involving Thomson, irrespective of whether or not charges are laid, or guilt established, or his disqualification from Parliament occurring upon a conviction being recorded, there is a permanent stain on the ALP.

The ALP has done everything humanly possible to protect Thomson, to prevent scrutiny of the allegations at hand, and to evade the consequences of any wrongdoing that may have occurred.

Its Sussex Street machine has funded Thomson to prevent his bankruptcy — shelling out between $90,000 and $150,000 depending on which report you believe — to avert a by-election in his Central Coast electorate.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly expressed full confidence in Thomson — despite the allegations being untested — and has told us what a “fine” job he is doing.

Now that a Police investigation is pending, she doesn’t even want to say that.

The parliamentary ALP has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure Thomson is not called to account for himself in the House of Representatives, despite these issues going to the very heart of whether he is a fit and proper person to hold a seat in Parliament at all.

Various ministerial colleagues of Thomson all “believe” his story; I cited Anthony Albanese’s explanation last night that if told something and he believes it then he sees no need to question it further.

Today we have Bill Shorten — a former union boss himself — saying that if it occurred in his union he would have referred the matters to Police. But he added that he couldn’t comment on Thomson as it was “a hypothetical” and that in any case, he believes Thomson too.

But really, really, nobody in the ALP has been prepared to utter a single meaningful syllable on these issues, and for that they are culpable.

It has been a case of survival at any cost, dig in, stand firm, hope the whole thing goes away — and consequently stripping bare the party’s absolute obsession with power and the nihilistic lengths to which it is prepared to go to hold onto it.

For two weeks, the charade worked well enough for things to go, in round terms, nowhere.

But no longer.

The problem with playing the silly games Labor has been playing on this issue — in the face of the inevitable — is that sooner or later, one link in the chain was bound to break.

And so it did this morning: an ALP-affiliated union has decided its own interests are preferable to the ALP’s.

And so it begins. Innocent or guilty, however long it takes, it seems just a matter of time now before the world learns what Thomson really did with his credit card, the prostitutes, and the blame apportioned to an unnamed (and possibly non-existent) third party to cover everything up.

But remember, whichever way it plays out, the Prime Minister, her colleagues, and their faceless cronies in the depths of the backrooms of the Labor Party, have done everything conceivably possible to evade the scrutiny, and the possible consequences, of what will now unfold.

It has been a gutless, gormless little exercise.

And, very happily, it has finally amounted to nothing.

UPDATE (5.39pm) — An article has just appeared in the online edition of The Australian, detailing coaching ALP MPs have been given in relation to handling the Thomson saga…surprise surprise…still, to see it, copy and paste http://bit.ly/rtMe4B into your browser…

Putting A Bit Of Stick About: Dealing With Sex Scandals, FU-Style

Have a look at this short video from YouTube. Then have a think about the way our government and Prime Minister are dealing with the scandal which threatens to bring down the government.

It’s the scandal that keeps on giving, isn’t it?

ALP insiders knew about it prior to Craig Thomson’s entry to parliament in 2007, and desperately tried to have him barred from being preselected; it reared its head again in 2009 which led to an unsuccessful challenge to Thomson’s preselection and to a defamation case against Fairfax that was withdrawn; it led to a large payment by the Sussex Street headquarters of the NSW ALP, to pay his legal debts and keep him out of bankruptcy; and now it has exploded: a genie to be rebottled no more.

As it seems we will be intermittently discussing this issue for a while, the clip I alluded to last week from House Of Cards just had to be thrown in. Yes, it’s fictitious, but FU and his sidekick Tim Stamper are ruthlessly brutal in dealing with the merest whiff of scandal.

It’s true, they swept the matter involving backbencher Stoat under the carpet, but the issue was killed off once and for all.

Compare and contrast this with the vapid, implausible and entirely inappropriate response from Julia Gillard and her parliamentary colleagues to the present scandal.

The Prime Minister — in the face of the increasing volume of evidence to suggest her backbencher has, at the minimum, been involved in misconduct — says that he is doing “a fine job” and that she foresees him remaining the member for Dobell for “a long, long, long time.”

Frontbench colleague Anthony Albanese defended Thomson by effectively saying that if he’s told something, and “believes” it to be the truth, there’s no reason to think any differently.

That, my friends, is putting one’s head in the sand. Good old-fashioned naivety.

Utterances from other government identities have been just as worthless as Gillard’s.

I’ve been monitoring some of the comments being placed in response to articles appearing on the websites of various outlets of the mainstream press.

For example, one such commentary theme seems to run the line that as the alleged incidents occurred prior to Thomson entering Parliament, the scandal therefore has nothing to do with Parliament and that as such, Thomson should not be hounded out of Parliament.

Excuse me? Spare me.

These events haveĀ  everything to do with Parliament and, specifically, the worthiness of the member for Dobell as a fit and proper person to hold elected office.

The alleged events surrounding the member for Dobell, as they filter out into the public arena, raise serious questions about the improper misappropriation of monies from a union Thomson was the head of; the possibility of fraudulent and criminal operation of a credit card, forgery of signatures, or — if none of this transpired — a perjurious cover-up which would pervert the cause of justice.

Revelations that Mr Thomson’s union credit card was used to draw in excess of $100,000 in ATM cash advances alone — in isolation to any other factor in these matters — is enough on its own to suggest misconduct.

And revelations published today in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph — that Thomson allegedly tried to cover up payments for prostitutes by reversing charges then processing them on a different credit card — are hardly suggestive of the actions of somebody with nothing to hide.

It’s not as if Gillard and Labor can seize the high moral ground here: there isn’t any to seize. Not now. Not given they way things have been handled thus far.

Labor refuses to disendorse Thomson or to even stand him aside from the parliamentary committee he chairs; it has refused to have him put on the stand in Parliament to explain its actions; it has given him a large sum of money to keep him from bankruptcy; there are allegations HSU funds were used for political purposes by Mr Thomson in contravention of electoral laws; and the only response that seems to be forthcoming from the government is to simply stand firm, say nothing of substance, and hope the whole thing blows over.

Let’s not forget, too, that this mucky episode isn’t exactly a PR coup for the Health Services Union or the union movement in general, and as long as key people in those quarters continue to sit on their hands, they will suffer the collateral damage from these events as a consequence.

I’m not at all naive — I am very cogniscent of course of the political stakes involved — but the time has arrived for Gillard to be the leader she purports to be, and to take the only appropriate course of action open to her.

And that is to stand Thomson aside from all duties bar those emanating from his role as a backbencher; refer all allegations concerning Thomson to the NSW Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions, co-operate fully with all inquiries into Thomson, and to seek to have these matters expedited.

A formal complaint from the HSU would be helpful, given it’s HSU funds that have been rorted in the first place — and let’s face it, someone has rorted union funds by the admission of Thomson himself. It appears to simply be a question of who.

If Thomson is innocent of all alleged wrongdoing, then let open investigations show it: the damage is already done in one sense, given the explosive publicity the issue has now generated. If his name is to be cleared, he should have the opportunity to do so.

If however Thomson is the perpetrator of all that is alleged, and criminal charges and prosecution ensue, then he should be involuntarily removed from Parliament at the earliest opportunity for his constituents to elect a successor.

There’s nowhere for Gillard and Labor to hide. And one way or the other, the truth will out in the end.

Ironically, if this is the issue that does bring down the government, it’s better for the ALP for it to happen sooner rather than later: the longer it drags on, the more damage it will inflict upon Labor, and the greater will be the retribution extracted at the ballot box by angry voters.

And not just in Dobell.

By all means, have a laugh at FU bringing an errant backbencher into line in the clip I have posted; the circumstances may be somewhat different, and the obvious solution even more so; but it’s an indictment that a character in a TV drama can deal with something like this, whereas an Australian Prime Minister can’t.

UPDATE: (6.53pm, 23 August) — Craig Thomsom has resigned the chairmanship of the parliamentary committee he held. It’s a start, but by no means sufficient in addressing these issues. His statement continues to deny any wrongdoing in these matters.

Newspoll: Coalition 57, ALP 43; Essential 56 Coalition, ALP 44

The week’s polls are in: Essential Research shows the Coalition at 56% (-1% from last week) and Labor at 44% (+1%).

As we have discussed, there aren’t any other findings from Essential; they don’t ask the approval questions of the leaders/preferred PM questions every week.

The slight movement back to Labor is — again — wholly inside the margin of error for these polls, which means the movement could well be meaningless.

That brings us to Newspoll, to be published in tomorrow’s edition of The Australian, which on the two-party vote shows the Coalition on 57% (+1% over the fortnight) and the ALP on 43% (-1%).

Including the polls last week, we now have Nielsen at 58/42, Newspoll at 57/43, and Essential at 56/44. It surely doesn’t take Einstein to see that these polls clearly point to the Coalition at 57% of the vote after preferences, especially given the three polls have recorded slight movement in both directions, yet wholly within the margin of sampling error.

This in turn translates to a swing of 6.8% since the election last year. If repeated uniformly at an election, the composition of the House of Representatives would be Liberal/National Coalition 102, Labor 47, and Independents (Katter) 1.

I’m presuming that the seats of Windsor and Oakeshott would both return to the National Party, and that those of Bandt (Greens) and Wilkie would return to Labor.

Even so, we’re talking about the second-largest win at an election in Australian history, behind only the landslide scored by Malcolm Fraser in 1975. And depending on how the votes might fall in individual electorates, it could well be the biggest.

This voting pattern is getting to be very settled now; clearly, it is going to take something monumental to shift voter sentiment back towards Labor — if, indeed, such a shift is even possible now.

My call some weeks ago that the polls would bounce around in a narrow band seems vindicated, although the band they’re bouncing in is slightly more advantageous to the Coalition than I had anticipated.

Breaking Newspoll down a bit, it isn’t hard to see what the problem is: Labor is again recording a mere 27% of the primary vote, as opposed to 47% for the Coalition and 14% for the Greens.

On the measure of the underlying vote, this equates to 51% for the Coalition, 37% for Labor, and 12% for “others” — which again means that Labor has already lost outright at the election even before non-Green preferences have been distributed.

And I gather Newspoll also shows Abbott continuing to head Gillard on the preferred PM question, 39-38, as well as recording slight deteriorations in both their personal standings.

It’s hard to see — in this case — how Abbott’s ratings have deteriorated, given he has been in Europe on holiday; still, that’s the finding.

Gillard, on the other hand, has been around: her attempted change of agenda, combined with the Craig Thomson scandal, have obviously hit the government.

As expected.

It’s fairly clear voter sentiment, as measured in the reputable polls, is now settled.

And with the whiff of scandal around the government now becoming a malodorous stench, it’s hard to see that changing.

ALP hardheads are bargaining on the introduction of their carbon tax next year as a circuit-breaker; the story goes that when the sky fails to fall in subsequent to that event, people will rush back to the Labor Party in retaliation against a Coalition scare campaign.

The problem for Labor is that it may not be in office on 1 July next year.

It may not be in office by Christmas this year.

And if it’s gone at any time in the next six to nine months, its carbon tax-inspired revival will be wishful thinking.

These poll numbers won’t be, though. They’ll be Labor’s worst nightmare come true.