Election 2013: The Background, The Battle, And Polls Say: Lib Win

SO IT BEGINS…Australia will have a federal election on 7 September, ending three tumultuous years of minority government, and — in all likelihood — six tumultuous and inept years of Labor in office. Today we look at the election backdrop, the battle to be fought, and polls pointing to a win by the Coalition.

I’m including one of my YouTube picks today; it’s a little obscure in a sense, and certainly not an obvious selection. But it’s Australian, and its message is entirely applicable to the combatants about to face off before voters. Enjoy this while you read on…

The 44th federal general election since Federation will occur on 7 September, in five weeks’ time; it will be for all seats in the House of Representatives and for half the Senate (plus the four Senate vacancies from the Territories) as required by the Constitution.

It will either see Kevin Rudd re-elected as the country’s 26th Prime Minister, or Liberal leader Tony Abbott become Australia’s 28th Prime Minister on his second attempt.*

At the 2010 election — which ultimately (and spectacularly) ended in stalemate and minority Labor government — the Coalition won 73 seats to Labor’s 72; there was one Green (Adam Bandt in Denison) and four Independents (Messrs Windsor, Oakeshott, Katter Jr, and Wilkie).

The walkouts of Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson from the Coalition and ALP respectively bring those tallies to 72 Coalition, 71 Labor, one Green and six Independents.

Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are retiring, however, and disgraced former Speaker Peter Slipper has been disendorsed by the LNP in Queensland; commentators on all sides are virtually unanimous in the assessment that all three seats will return to the Coalition.

Conversely, Adam Bandt in Melbourne and Andrew Wilkie in Denison seem likely, but by no means certain, to be re-elected; Thomson — standing in Dobell as an Independent — is certain to be beaten, and probably by the Liberal Party, but this too is less certain than the other seats being scored off to the Liberals and Nationals ahead of polling day.

Accounting for all of this, then, the notional starting state of the parties is Coalition 75 (Liberals 61, Nationals 14), ALP 71, Independents 3, and the Greens 1.

Clearly, the Coalition needs a net gain of just a single seat to form a government with the narrowest possible majority; the first seat on the electoral pendulum is Corangamite in Victoria, which will fall to the Liberals’ Sarah Henderson on a swing of 0.3%.

Labor, on the other hand, must make five net gains to reach the 76 required; there is a range of plausible paths to assemble 76 ALP seats, but if we assume Wilkie and Bandt are re-elected — and Labor holds its existing seats, including Dobell — we look for the first five Coalition seats on the pendulum (Hasluck, WA; Boothby, SA; Dunkley, Vic; Brisbane, Qld; Macquarie, NSW) which are all held by Liberals, and would all fall on a swing of 1.3%.

And this brings us neatly to the problem faced by the ALP: it is almost impossible for it to win Boothby, Dunkley and Macquarie, and highly unlikely it will win Hasluck or Brisbane, and so if Labor is to win, it must find the seats somewhere else — all the while hanging onto what it already holds.

The resurrection of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister five weeks ago has, as I expected, produced a rapid and sharp spike in the ALP’s polling numbers across the reputable polls, and whilst I’ll come back to polling a little later, that effect is already beginning to wear off.

It means that whilst Labor may not be on course for the mother of all beltings it would almost certainly have received under Julia Gillard, its fortunes are again beginning to slide — and it means some of the state-based trends recent polls have masked will re-emerge.

NSW — when it comes to the crunch, and voters are in the polling booths — is likely to swing heavily to the Coalition.

This was Labor’s best-performed state in 2010 in terms of the efficiency of its vote, winning 26 of the 48 seats with a minority of the two-party vote.

Since then it has seen a Labor state government obliterated in 2011, and its Coalition successor continuing to poll near the record support it achieved at that election; it has also seen a procession of ALP figures through an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into misconduct that occurred during the former state government, with a torrent of sordid revelations culminating a week ago in recommendations that criminal charges be laid against two former Labor state ministers.

Despite the rhetoric about cleaning the party up from Rudd, I can’t see voters being impressed by this; anger against the ALP in NSW continues, and it is hard to see the party holing on to what it has there — let alone winning in places like Macquarie.

Queensland is trickier, being Rudd’s home state; it swung strongly to the ALP in 2007 and strongly against it three years later. How much of this was attributable to the presence and absence, respectively, of Kevin Rudd? Time will tell. Queenslanders are a notoriously parochial (and anti-southerner) bunch: I should know, I was one of them for 25 years.

Complicating any evaluation of Queensland’s likely behaviour is the performance of the conservative state government that was elected there 18 months ago.

Like its NSW counterpart it too smashed the Labor Party to pieces, winning 78 of the 89 seats in Queensland’s unicameral Parliament.

But Premier Campbell Newman has lost ministers and backbench MPs to scandal and to minor party raiders, and — unlike NSW — faces a concerted and vocal campaign against it not from the parliamentary ALP, but from Labor activists and allied forces outside Parliament through the mainstream press, social media and on the streets that has been nothing if not noticeable at the very least.

Even so, talk of up to four and perhaps as many as eight additional seats in Queensland for Labor would seem fanciful; take away the noise over Newman’s government, and its polling figures remain solid.

Further, Queensland has shown for decades that it separates state and federal politics, and then votes accordingly: the one exception in living memory was in 1974, when Joh Bjelke-Petersen won a thumping re-election by campaigning exclusively on the issue of the Whitlam federal government.

And the insecurely seated Wayne Swan, in the Brisbane electorate of Lilley, would have to be regarded as a likely casualty of this election: nobody, apart perhaps from Swan himself, has been remotely impressed by his performance as a government minister.

Victoria is troublesome for Labor; the best-performed state in 2010 in terms of its vote and proportion of seats, it contains at least three seats (Deakin, Corangamite and La Trobe) that have all but been written off by the ALP as losses.

Like Queensland and NSW, it has a first-term Liberal government that has not been free of problems.

Yet these appear to have been resolved, and the state Coalition seems increasingly likely to be re-elected next year; coupled with the dumping of Melbourne-based Gillard as Prime Minister, it’s still feasible the state will yield additional seats beyond the three already pencilled in.

Tasmania is home to a 15-year-old Labor state government, the past three and a half of which have — like Labor federally — been served in minority and in coalition with the Greens, despite a promise at the 2010 state election not to serve with the Greens.

It contains two usually marginal seats — Bass and Braddon — that are considered likely to fall to the Liberal Party this year, and a huge anti-Labor vote that has been building for some time in Tasmania may deliver an extra seat or two to the Coalition as well.

The rest of the country and its 28 seats — already split 18-10 in favour of the Coalition — seem harder for either side to make significant inroads into.

However, slight movement to Labor in WA could yield a seat; moderate movement to the Coalition across WA, SA and the NT could yield three or four.

I would say, however, that on balance it is unlikely that we’ll be waiting for results from Perth on election night: I expect the eastern states to deliver about 20 seats to the Coalition in total, with possibly half a dozen offsetting gains for the ALP, and a majority for the Coalition of somewhere between 20 and 30 seats as a result.

It is important to note that John Howard’s thumping election win in 2004 — whilst less emphatic than the one that swept the Coalition into office in 1996 — was achieved on a two-party preferred vote of 52.7%.

The 2004 election also delivered the Coalition control of the Senate, although in 2013 this would be exponentially more difficult for Abbott to achieve on account of the composition of the Senators elected in 2010 who do not face the voters this time around.

I raise the example of 2004, though, simply to illustrate the fact that even a much more modest outcome in terms of votes cast than polls have shown this term can nonetheless translate into a resounding election victory.

And whilst election swings are never uniform, the premise of the pendulum is that if the overall swing is, say, 2.8% (the swing needed by Abbott for a 52.7% result) the movements in individual seats will cancel each other out, and the pendulum should still predict the actual number of seats with reasonable certainty.

A 2.8% swing to the Coalition at this election (based on the pendulum) would see the Coalition make a net gain of 10 seats for a total of 85 and a majority of 20 seats — and a Coalition result just two seats short of what Howard won in 2004.

The other reason I am talking about 2004 is because of the polls since Rudd returned to the Prime Ministership.

The average of these has been roughly a 52-48 split in the Coalition’s favour; that average has arrived at that point by peaking for Labor and then beginning to fall back.

There are two polls out today that confirm the trend; a ReachTel poll showing a 52-48 split to the Coalition (up a point for the Coalition since the previous survey) and a Newspoll for The Australian that shows an unchanged 52-48 result for the Coalition from its previous findings a fortnight ago.

Both polls show Kevin Rudd’s personal numbers slipping; indeed, Newspoll has his personal approval down four points to 38% and his disapproval up six to 47%: not the numbers of someone you would call “popular.”

Abbott’s personal numbers are terrible, but then they have been for years; and they were no bar to his efforts to get rid of Rudd the first time, or running Gillard almost out of office in 2010, or to destroying her Prime Ministership in the years since.

On the “preferred Prime Minister” question, ReachTel favours Abbott; Newspoll favours Rudd.

But the only number in any of these polls that really matters a squirt of shit is the two-party preferred voting number; all the other factors might feed into it, and boost or reduce it, but ultimately popularity on its own does not win elections: votes do.

And right now, Tony Abbott and the Coalition would appear to have them.

I think this election campaign is likely to be pretty grimy; voters already weary of politics are likely to be fed up to the core with it in the end, and this can only help Tony Abbott.

The Coalition’s arguments about stability and competence are likely to resonate.

And a big problem Labor faces — irrespective of whatever it says otherwise, and no matter how sincere its assurances — is the lingering question of whether Kevin Rudd will remain Prime Minister longer than the metaphorical five minutes after the election if he manages to win.

Nobody should delude themselves: the Labor Party viscerally despises Rudd; it made him leader because it was backed into a corner by circumstance and permitted no other viable choice.

It will not thank him, should the party win on 7 September; and far from honouring the man or his word to voters is likely to jettison him as Prime Minister as suddenly as it resurrected him.

In the end, spin, empty denials, and verballing and blocking tactics aimed at conservative rivals will get Rudd and Labor so far — indeed, they will get them nearer to a win than Gillard ever could this time around.

But on their own, these methods are not enough.

Rudd is standing on a shocking record of Labor governance that he seeks to hide; the Liberals will remind him — and the country — of this record at every opportunity.

With the economy deteriorating, the budget in disrepair, and fundamental questions on basic competence as administrators and managers likely to bedevil Labor, it is probably going to be fortunate to record the defeat I think it will.

Abbott and the Coalition by 20 seats for me, give or take a couple.

And thus begins — as everyone will know too well at the end — the five weeks that will determine who will lead Australia for another three years.

But then again, in politics, nothing is ever so cut and dried.

See you all tonight.


*The 27th Prime Minister was Julia Gillard, who is retiring from Parliament.


The Argument About Illegal Boat Arrivals The Left Doesn’t Want You To Hear

CHARDONNAY SWILLERS, compassion babblers and the Left believe in their own moral superiority on the issue of unlawful boat arrivals; even after the failure of ALP policy since the abolition of John Howard’s Pacific Solution, their rectitude is unswerving. Here’s a scenario which proves they are wrong.

I’m tied up tonight on international phone calls, so this is a quick comment (and a link) on an issue that has played out over the past few days, involving yet another boatload of unauthorised asylum seekers from Sri Lanka that landed in Geraldton, Western Australia, apparently undetected and undisturbed, last week.

Something that irritates the hell out of me (and a lot of other good conservative folk) is the insidious and sanctimonious insistence by Lefty types — be they the chardonnay guzzlers who fancy themselves, or those who make a living off government money and charity in the bleeding heart industry, or the more sinister hardcore Lefties sitting in the Senate under the Communist Greens banner — that anyone who disagrees with them is a heartless, thoughtless, penny-pinching bastard.

(Or bitch).

There are good reasons why the silent majority in Australia doesn’t want to see its borders (or coastlines) overrun by an open-ended, never-ending stream of people seeking asylum in Australia and arriving by sea, unheralded and uninvited.

In some of their cases the reasons of those asylum seekers for leaving their homes may be genuine, and motivated by tyranny or the fear for their lives; in others, it can be a simple case of trying to “jump the queue” and circumvent what can be a wait of several years to come to Australia through legitimate channels.

Yet this is the point: our country has generous provisions and procedures in place to take thousands of refugees each year — legitimate refugees — as part of an overall immigration intake that, despite recent cuts, still numbers some 200,000 persons per annum.

It is not xenophobic or unreasonable — or heartless — for people perfectly prepared for taxpayer monies to be spent on such programs to then resent the additional arrival of thousands more who refuse to come through the established legitimate channels.

And that includes some genuine refugees; those who sail through ports, en route to Australia, in a number of other countries which are signatories to the United Nations charter on refugees — countries in which asylum would be forthcoming.

But no, they want to come here: and the way they choose to do so is not the way it ought be done.

Inflammatory argument (on both sides of the issue) aside, however, I’m posting an excellent column by Piers Akerman on this issue, given the constraints on my time I face tonight. Readers can access this article here.

I simply say this is precisely the type of incident the chardonnay drunks and the bleeding heart bullshit lobby don’t want anyone to know about; it not only humanises the supposedly draconian measures the Howard government introduced to stop boats coming and to deal with the occupants of those which did, but it actually illustrates — by highlighting real and realistic ramifications — the potential consequences of adopting an open-border, merry-free-for-all approach to this most fraught of political issues.

This is the side of the issue people like the Greens will do anything to bury, and at any cost: it’s a hell of a lot easier to yank at the heart strings of the gullible and the stupid if they are denied the knowledge on which to base an informed decision in the first place.

And make no mistake, people, the Greens prey on gullibility and stupidity, because without those attributes virtually every policy on the Greens’ slate is indefensible.

And they know it.

I’ll be interested in feedback from those who have read and considered the attached article.


Oh, and another thing: note where the people on the boats wanted to go. In the end, it wasn’t to come to Australia at all…

Lunatics On The Loose: Greens Scupper Pact With Labor

In a typically histrionic act for which it refuses to even take responsibility, the Communist Party Greens today ended its alliance with the ALP in name, but not in practice; these fruitcakes may well be free to “advance” their causes, but the charade will change little for Labor and Julia Gillard.

Even so — early in week three of a month in which Gillard and Labor seem hellbent on self-destruction — the announcement by Greens leader Christine Milne that her party was calling time on its alliance with the ALP is probably something Labor could do without.

Yet Milne — a figure utterly devoid of charisma and electoral appeal, and a pious and sanctimonious specimen to boot — characteristically blamed the ALP for the actions of her own party, saying that Labor had “walked away” from the deal.

Painting a bizarre picture in which she was simply announcing the end of the ALP-Greens coalition on behalf of the ALP, Milne claimed Labor had ended its alliance with her party.

“Labor has effectively ended its agreement with the Greens,” she told the National Press Club. “Well, so be it.”

“I thought it was time we just cleared the air, said they’ve walked away and frankly the response from some of them shows they have walked away.”

The Greens would still support supply bills and oppose no-confidence motions, Milne added.

And there’s the devil in the detail: the pompous and portentous announcement made by Milne, in the wider scheme of things, amounts to nothing.

It’s well-known that sections of the ALP have long been unhappy with what they perceived to be a destructive and largely unnecessary formal agreement with the Greens, given lower house MP Adam Bandt had pledged never to support the Liberals, and in light of the fact the Greens’ senators are largely disinclined to vote with the Coalition either.

Today’s announcement shows that, to some extent, similar sentiments have been brewing over at the Greens for a while, too.

I think the Greens saw their agreement with Gillard and Labor — call it a coalition, accord, pact or what you will — as carte blanche to inflict some of the more extreme and less reasonable elements of their agenda on the wider populace.

To some extent, of course, they have succeeded, with sometimes disastrous consequences; the hundreds of drowned asylum seekers are a direct consequence of a soft policy on illegal immigrants that was insisted upon by the Greens as the price for Senate support in abolishing the Howard government’s so-called Pacific Solution.

The fact a carbon price even exists — let alone the fact it is legislated at nearly six times the internationally accepted price — is another case in point; a stoush between the Greens and Labor erupted last year when the Greens wanted the price increased at the very time some ALP MPs were contemplating the prospect of lowering it to bring it more in line with international parameters.

And whinny she may about the mining tax being evidence of Labor’s “support for the mining industry,” but I am certain that had the tax been on track to generate the $4 billion in revenue it was intended to, rather than prove the unprofitable and abject joke it has, Milne would be lining up for her share of the “credit.”

“Credit” for a tax that — whilst raising next to nothing — has nonetheless managed to kill investment and confidence in the minerals and resources sector, destroy profits and jobs, and still hobble the one branch of the economy holding the rest out of recession.

Then again, if you’re Christine Milne and her mad band of dangerous adherents, anything short of a total shutdown of the mining sector is a sellout, a failure, and a national tragedy.

In political terms, today’s development will change nothing; certainly, in the eyes of the voting public the damage has already been done: the Labor Party has been widely and correctly perceived to have yielded to the Greens and their agenda, and any formal separation between the two probably comes too late in the political cycle to remedy that.

And the Greens, whilst rattling on with their usual moral indignation, will always attract the same rump following in the future that they have done at elections past.

Milne has said that her party’s main priorities, moving forward, were a transition to renewable energy, reforming the mining tax, raising the dole, boosting public school funding and implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Those priorities could as easily be represented as driving energy prices higher, inflicting further damage on the country’s main export industry, rewarding indolence, throwing money at an inefficient but critical sector with no emphasis on value for money, and legislating a worthy but unfunded and totally unaffordable initiative.

The list of the Greens’ gripes goes on.

Yet irrespective of the legitimacy or otherwise of those gripes — and frankly, not much of what the Greens obsess over is rooted in any real-world considerations of common sense — today’s announcement will have the psychological effect of letting some of the more extreme elements within Milne’s party off the leash.

Luminaries such as NSW senator Lee Rhiannon — a one-time propaganda writer for the USSR, now a mainstay of the Greens’ extreme Left — have effectively been given the green light to advocate whatever they like.

Truly nasty individuals, such as SA senator Sarah Hanson-Young, will now be free to say whatever they see fit about anyone who disagrees with them, not that they hold back anyway; free to back Palestine and its militants, for example, over Israel, with what I would wager to be no first-hand experience whatsoever of either the issues involved or of the relative contributions made by the Jewish community in Australian society.

And the truly well-meaning (I’m not being sarcastic) but naive members of the Greens’ ranks, such as lovely Larissa Waters from Queensland, can promise endless buckets of money in the name of “social justice” with nary a care about the fact that to pay for their largesse, it’ll be “someone else” — the taxpayer — who foots the bill.

There isn’t a lot of emphasis on responsibility over at the Greens.

But on one level, why would there be? The party scored just 11% of the vote at the 2010 election, and have spent the better part of three years since then seeing to it that the other 89% of the electorate have had large doses inflicted upon them of policies they never voted for, and in all likelihood never would.

So much for the lamentable Christine Milne and her “principled” show of outrage.

Yet the Greens still have the temerity to complain about this, or to take a pot shot at the Labor Party for allowing it to occur?

Far from being let down, the Greens have secured far more from the present government than 11% of the vote could or should have ever entitled them to expect or imagine.

And the rest of us are paying for it — literally.

Still, in an ideal world, the Greens would have us live in a country (and a world) with open borders; no effective military; no cars; higher taxation; limitless public services, especially in healthcare; boycotts on Israel (concurrent with a pandering to Muslim extremists and terrorists, coupled with support for fundamentalist regimes abroad); an end to mining and most agriculture; and a spiral into the ominous, terrifying world of communist Nirvana.

If anyone can spot a word of concern for the environment in that list — or any of the other lunar policies the Greens’ platform advocates — they’re doing better than I can.

The Communist Party Greens is a frightening organisation; the most frightening thing about them, frankly, is that so many of their supporters think they’re parking a harmless protest vote with a group of concerned environmentalists in voting for them, when the Greens are nothing of the sort.

And self-indulgent victim statements, like the one delivered by Christine Milne today, do nothing at all to change that.

Ultimately and regrettably, however, the only winner from today’s proceedings is the Greens; the ALP will wear the opprobrium and political consequences of allowing itself to accede to so many of the Greens’ demands whilst the Greens themselves, quietly, skip off in search of new ways to further their insidious agenda.

Preparing For Opposition? Labor Contemplates Tossing Greens Overboard

Suicidal or crazy-brave? It was reported at the weekend that senior ALP figures are advising Julia Gillard to cut the party’s ties with the Greens; some of them apparently see this course of action as a masterstroke, when in reality it will simply hasten Labor’s return to opposition.

In what must rank as one of the most delusional political news stories to appear in print in this country in some years, Samantha Maiden reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph yesterday that pressure was being brought to bear on the Prime Minister to abandon Labor’s coalition relationship with the Communist Party Greens, and to “distance” the Labor Party from them.

Readers well know what I think (or more accurately, how lowly I think) of the Greens; little more than communists masquerading as democratic socialists, their hard-left policy prescriptions are at best downright dangerous, and at worst, a recipe for uncontrolled economic and social chaos.

And despite the fact the ALP — as a party of the mainstream centre-left — obviously is and was always far closer to the ALP in ideological and philosophical terms to the Coalition, “closer” does not equal similar.

“Democratic Socialism” and Social Democracy are not the same thing.

Julia Gillard has many problems to contend with, including some of her own making; her alliance with the Greens falls into that latter category, with the resultant unreconstructed, hard-core left-wing policies she has been forced to implement at the behest of the Greens contributing to the disintegration of the ALP’s electoral support.

It was primarily for these reasons — along with the lack of foresight as to the consequences — that I was surprised when Gillard announced Labor had signed a coalition agreement with the Greens.

Aside from anything else, it was unnecessary; the Greens have voted to water down and defeat anything they either haven’t liked or have felt didn’t go far enough for them, which they would have done anyway; at virtually all other times they have sided with the ALP.

Maiden reports in her piece in the Tele that Labor figures believe the government should cut its ties with the Greens and call an election “if parliament becomes unworkable.”

Despite an apparent concession that the ALP is not ready to fight a campaign for a snap election, these unnamed figures believe Gillard has — and I quote — “prepared an insurance plan if Labor is forced to the polls by a no-confidence motion or a by-election loss.”

This beggars belief and defies all conventional wisdom, but that insurance policy — and you may not have guessed it — just happens to be the carbon tax.

As the story goes, the “cash splash” from the budget (read: carbon tax-funded largesse in the form of pork-barrelling bribes) means that certain groups in the community will begin receiving lump sum payments as early as next month; come 1 July, there will be lots of extra money for just about everyone.

At least, that seems to be the thinking.

The Labor Party appears to at least be exhibiting enough of a sense of realism to finally contemplate the very real possibility that an election may become unavoidable.

However, the logic seems to become confused when applied to a specific course of action, and when a timeframe is canvassed.

According to Maiden, some figures in Labor’s NSW Right indicated there was a “real question” about whether the parliament would become so unworkable an election was the only option. One apparently offered the pithily rhetorical question that “why do you put a dog down that could live in pain for another two years?”

Others, as mentioned earlier, speak of an election arising from a by-election defeat or the loss of a confidence vote; other figures again — displaying a more cautious contemplation of an early election — talk of the “risk” of an election that a return to Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister would entail.

And still others again are reported as suggesting an election would, essentially, be a good idea; holding on to office by the proverbial fingernails at the whim of “conservative independents” is apparently enough for these types to actively consider taking their chances at the ballot boxes.

Yet the only thing that seems to be viewed as a positive heading into such an election campaign — irrespective of who or what is ultimately the trigger for it — is the money about to be shovelled around from the carbon tax.

And this is dangerous ground indeed.

Just as there is unimpeachable evidence of the fury within the electorate over Gillard’s breach of her promise that there would be “no carbon tax under the government I lead” and her subsequent legislation of precisely such a measure, there is also ample evidence that not one cent promised under so-called “compensation arrangements” has yet swayed a single vote toward the Labor cause.

Yes, there is a Newspoll out tonight for tomorrow’s Australian (which we may look at in detail tomorrow night, depending on what the day brings) which shows a slight recovery in Labor’s polling numbers.

But this poll also shows the ALP nonetheless losing to the Liberals, 45-55 after preferences; still enough of a swing for the Coalition to capture almost half of Labor’s seats at an election. The 3% movement to the ALP in tonight’s Newspoll is also within the margin of statistical error for this poll, which means it may well be overstated.

And this particular Newspoll also comes at a time when Essential Research and Nielsen have both also published post-budget opinion findings that put the Coalition two to three percentage points further ahead of Labor after preferences; it is possible tonight’s Newspoll is a rogue.

The simple truth — based on an objective reading of the current political landscape and taking into account every aspect of all relevant issues — is that the ALP cannot and will not win the forthcoming election by campaigning either on a carbon tax directly or on the supposed “benefits” that are set to flow from it in the form of fists full of dollars.

Which brings up, rather neatly, the key question: is Labor being suicidal, or crazy-brave? Of course, if it’s forced to an election involuntarily, the question becomes moot.

But to be sitting, consistently, between ten and twenty percentage points behind the Liberals in every reputable opinion poll in the country, and to then contemplate going early, and voluntarily, to face the electorate says to me that the ALP is either desperate to get to the opposition benches to begin the long and painful task of rebuilding, or it is suicidal.

For reasons partially based on integrity and the principles of responsible government, and partly through personal political preference with an eye on the polls, I’d love a federal election to be announced. Forthwith.

But I am as far removed from the ALP, on every conceivable level, as anyone involved in mainstream politics in this country could ever be.

Does the Labor Party have a death wish?

It seems like a rather odd discussion to be going on inside that party; and it seems a little strange that it has been so openly available to be reported upon.

I think Labor is merely trying to ensure its bases are all covered, but in the end, it really won’t matter.

If the carbon tax and its ghastly goodies are all the ALP has left to fight with, then whenever the inevitable election comes along, it will be headed for a flogging.

And it won’t matter a jot whether the Greens remain in harness at that point or not.

The damage, deliciously, has already been done, and it’s too late to turn back now.

What do you think?

Something In The Water? Unbelievable New Poll Floats Gillard’s Boat

There’s a new poll, out tonight — a Nielsen one — which has the ALP rapidly closing the gap on the Coalition, and within striking distance of winning an election. With some thanks to other quarters for the prompt, this stinks of being a “rogue poll.”

This is…well…it’s frankly unbelievable; Gillard and Labor closing to within 53-47 of the Coalition is completely implausible after the week and a half that has just played out in federal politics.

Yet that is precisely what Nielsen’s latest survey is reporting.

This is after a week in which the Prime Minister’s office was directly implicated in a plot to foment a riot on Australia Day; after a week in which the ALP has bordered on ripping itself apart over the question of its own leadership; the first Nielsen poll since Gillard underlined her fundamental dishonourability and trustworthiness by giving Andrew Wilkie a two-fingered salute; and after a summer break which has ended — by near-universal consensus in mainstream journalism and commentary — that Tony Abbott has had his most positive-looking and Prime Ministerial month since the 2010 election.

According to Nielsen, primary votes are now ALP 33% (+4%), Coalition 45% (-4%), Communists Greens 13% (+2), and “Others” 9% (-2%).

Gillard’s approval is now 40% (+5%) and disapproval at 55% (-3%).

Abbott’s approval is at 41% (unch) and disapproval at 54% (+1%).

Strangely, Nielsen finds Gillard at 48% (+6%) on the “preferred PM” measure to Tony Abbott on 46% (unch).

But most ridiculously, it records the federal ALP’s two-party vote in Victoria at 55% (+7%) to the Coalition’s 45% (-7%).

Er…what is wrong with this picture?

Far be it for me to attack a set of numbers posted by a reputable polling company (and AC Nielsen is reputable); but there is something very wrong here.

It isn’t the movement to Labor that has attracted my attention; rather the complete flatlining of Abbott’s numbers in terms of leadership approval and “preferred PM” whilst his disapproval rises on both counts.

It seems a bit convenient.

Viewed against the backdrop of the goings-on of the past week or two, these numbers don’t make sense.

Can it seriously be suggested that after the lies, the stumbles, the mismanagement and the sheer volatility in its own party in the last month that voters are now suddenly switching on to the ALP?

I don’t believe for a minute Nielsen has simply published the numbers Labor would like to see.

For a start, their poll still has the Coalition winning an election.

But I find it inconceivable that this could be accurate; I speak to hundreds of people each week in my various roles and — with a few notably staunch exceptions — the mood toward the federal government has been hardening since Christmas.

But I would question where this poll has been conducted; it smells a little of the Broadmeadows/Blacktown/Woodridge bouquet that will always put a little rosy cheer into a Labor cheek.

And if that doesn’t explain it, I’d view the motives of the respondents with deep, deep suspicion — perhaps there’s an emerging trend of game-playing going on, in the same way for example that voters in the UK are well aware of the concept of “tactical voting” and behave accordingly.

Having said all of that, I don’t for a minute believe Nielsen’s poll is accurate.

Before anyone attacks me as spouting Liberal Party propaganda, or trying to spin these numbers favourably toward the conservatives, just ask a simple question: has the performance of the Gillard government, Gillard herself, the shenanigans of Kevin Rudd or the performance of her office done anything in the last month to merit the most favourable opinion poll Labor has seen in more than a year?

I didn’t think so…


Flipping The Bird: Angry Wilkie Dumps Gillard

“That Sir which serves and seeks to gain/ And follows but for form/ Will pack when it begins to rain/ And leave Thee in the storm.” — from King Lear, by William Shakespeare

At the risk of mixing metaphors — or at the very least, classical authors — the events of the past couple of days could almost be described as Machiavellian.

Yet the little speech of sage advice from the Fool in King Lear sums it up for me.

Developments over the weekend that Julia Gillard has abandoned her agreement with key Independent Andrew Wilkie to introduce mandatory pre-commitment legislation to govern poker machines, and that Wilkie in turn has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government, smack of political expediency in the most hypocritical and noxious of fashions.

18 months ago, Australia ground to a halt for 17 days whilst it waited for Gillard — supposedly Bob Hawke’s heir when it came to building consensus — to cobble together a hotchpotch of alliances to bridge the gap between the pitiful 72 (of 150) seats Labor garnered at its first attempt at re-election and the 76 in total required for the barest of functional majorities.

75 votes on the floor of the House is good enough: the body in the Speaker’s chair makes the total number of voting MPs 149, so 75 wins.

It’s an important point.

But back to the deals that kept Gillard and the ALP in office.

Everyone was bought off with something: for the Communist Party Greens, it was effective control of the government’s operational agenda, along with a number of specific undertakings to indulge their lunatic Stalinist platform; for conservative Judases Oakeshott and Windsor, it was barrels of cash for their electorates; and for Andrew Wilkie, it was the implementation of mandatory pre-commitment at poker machines around the country in an attempt to tackle problem gambling.

Thus far, Gillard has kept the faith with Messrs Oakeshott and Windsor, but they must be wondering uneasily when their turn will come. Certainly, they are all too aware that this government and this Prime Minister do not act in good faith when it comes to their supposed allies.

Having realised how electorally lethal the Greens and their God-forsaken agenda are to the mainstream majority in this country, yet beholden to its alliance with them out of sheer numerical necessity, the ALP has gone out of its way in recent months to distance itself from, belittle, frustrate and betray the Greens in an attempt to differentiate itself from its Coalition partner.

Completely innocent of any principles rooted in decency or propriety, Labor exercised the miniscule degree of persuasion required to convince Liberal Party turncoat, serial non-performer and generally contemptible excuse for an MP, Peter Slipper, to abandon his Party (which he abandoned the National Party for some 25 years ago) and accept a hefty pay rise — tarnishing the august role of Speaker in so doing — to buy another vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And to enable the right and royal shafting of Wilkie and his poker machine reforms.

I’ll be honest — I have always thought Wilkie’s approach to this issue was characterised with more than a little of the “light in the eyes” syndrome; even so, I fully concur that the issue itself is one that requires something to be done, and urgently.

More to the point, I’m old-fashioned: a deal is a deal, and I take a dim view of people who do not operate on the same basis.

Gillard’s excuses, and her “reasoning,” are not only wrong, they are inexcusable.

“There is inadequate support in the House of Representatives to pass the reforms Andrew Wilkie was seeking,” she droned.

Really? Then why do the deal in the first place?

Methinks it has more to do with the fact nervous Labor MPs, facing outrage from the services clubs and sporting clubs that often constitute the hubs of the communities they represent, are more concerned with their seats.

And let’s look at the numbers: there are 72 Labor MPs, all with a vote given Slipper now sits in the Speaker’s chair; the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Wilkie are an additional, guaranteed two more.

For Gillard’s assertion of “insufficient support” to be true, what she is really saying is that she couldn’t round up a single extra vote from Oakeshott, Windsor, Coalition-inclined but independently minded Bob Katter, or WA National Tony Crook.

Or, put another way, she’s so poor a leader she literally couldn’t convince one person to vote for the laws, given the ruthlessness with which the ALP caucus is bound to support parliamentary policy.

Of course, as a leader Gillard is abysmal, but we’re talking about a sales job here with the odds stacked in her favour: two of the four gentlemen I have mentioned are in alliances with her!

And a third — Crook — confirmed today that he had only ever been approached once on the issue of pre-commitment: once, once, after 18 months of the issue being canvassed.

Clearly, little or no serious attempt was ever made to honour the deal.

It was all about keeping Labor bums — I use the term advisedly — in ministerial jobs, holding onto ministerial salaries and perks, and bugger anyone who got in the way.

In other words, standard Labor Party operating procedure.

Gillard claims her “compromise solution” (read, two-tenths of nothing) is superior: it replaces a mandatory, legislated national reform with a trial confined to Canberra and not due to be further proceeded with until 2016 — thus effectively kicking the issue a term and a half down the electoral road, by which time Labor will likely be attempting to regain a handful of the dozens of seats it lost on its way into Opposition.

Or in short, a “solution” providing a clear road map to doing nothing.

I have very little time for Andrew Wilkie; others can make their judgements about his party-hopping and lack of integrity, but for once I feel for him.

He is angry, and rightfully so; and he has conducted himself with quite some dignity on having discovered, to quote Richard Nixon, the exact length, depth and breadth of the shaft.

Certainly, his attempt to be neutral (not supporting no-confidence motions unless misconduct is involved, maintaining good relations with the government and so forth) is noble, but unconvincing; and he has already warned the government of “consequences” should it attempt to shaft him a second time.

Any idiot can see Wilkie is livid, and justifiably so.

But it gets worse.

Labor MPs have been issued with what is known politically (and elsewhere) as a “shit sheet” offering direction on how to deal with the issue of Gillard’s latest act of betrayal.

“Say that politics isn’t perfect,” the shit sheet says. “Say that often compromises need to be found.”

Er…no, not in this case. It is a lie, and it is a flagrant breach of a written contract.

It suggests talking about John Howard needing to remove GST on food to deliver most of the GST package.

Dangerous ground here:

  • Howard was actually delivering on a promise (as opposed to running away from it);
  • Removing food was the only way politically possible to deliver the other 85% of the GST package;
  • Far from running away from something he promised, Howard did everything he could to honour that commitment; and
  • The example is completely flawed in any case — in any meaningful sense, Gillard is delivering, effectively, none of what she committed to deliver.

You have to shake your head and laugh…not from amusement, mind, but out of sheer cynicism.

And remembering Gillard is increasingly obsessed with threats to her leadership, it’s pretty obvious she’s more concerned about the stormy weather she has wilfully headed into over the past 18 months than she is with anything of any real consequence to anyone except herself.

Here in Australia, we have a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless government, led by a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless Prime Minister.

But we have more than that.

We have a government — not merely content with spin, glib slogans, smug stunts and empty rhetoric — that is fundamentally dishonest, wilfully deceitful, inherently untrustworthy, and downright dangerous.

Add into that the fact that whilst it can’t honour any good faith shown to it by others — be it the voters who trusted Gillard and Labor, the MPs who re-installed it in government on what should have been binding undertakings, or anyone else — Gillard and Labor are happy to loyally protect and entertain folk from other quarters.

Folk like Craig Thomson, accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from an employer to feed a penchant for hookers, and who is the subject of multiple criminal investigations.

(To say nothing of a Fair Work Australia investigation that has mysteriously taken years not to be finalised…join the dots…)

Folk like Peter Slipper…we all know the stories — if I go down that track again, I’m going to lose my temper.

It’s one thing for there to be “honour among thieves;” it’s another matter altogether to operate under the watchword of “dishonour among murderers.”

Perhaps the ALP slogan at the next election should be “Treachery Is Everything.”

It would neatly sum up Labor’s approach to government.

Wilkie, whichever way you cut it, has flipped the PM off — and rightly so, in my view.

This tawdry little episode is further proof (if any were required) of an intellectually and morally bankrupt government that must be shown the door at the earliest available opportunity for the good of the country.

What do you think?

Back In The Saddle! First Poll for 2012 — Essential, 54-46 Coalition

Happy New Year! Before we get back into it, I would like to wish all of my readers and Twitter followers a safe and prosperous 2012…and so here we are: The Red And The Blue, barring illness or impediments like ISP issues, returns for 4-6 articles per week.

The first federal opinion poll for the year has appeared this afternoon; Essential Research shows an unchanged two-party lead of 54-46 to the Coalition.

Interestingly, the poll records a 1% increase in the Coalition primary vote since the previous survey in December, to 48%; this could reflect a trendline increase in Coalition support, or it could simply account for the fact that all other parties/independents see their primary support unchanged according to this particular survey, in which primary votes add up to 100% for a change.

Perhaps unsurprisingly — given the silly season tends to treat politicians fairly nicely — both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott see their personal approval ratings increase slightly, and their disapproval ratings slightly abate.

And on the question of “preferred PM” Gillard holds her ground at 39%, with Abbott gaining one point to 36%.

I wouldn’t read too much into these numbers.

Clearly, the overall trend of the past 18 months — the Coalition being on course to record a crushing election win — is undisturbed by Essential’s findings.

And in that context, the rest of the figures don’t mean very much. Yes, Gillard is unpopular, but it’d doubtful whether any of her colleagues would do better; Abbott’s ratings aren’t flash either, but it’s his job to tear this government down, and he is doing it by opposing rather than glib slogans and smarmy stunts, which is the ALP’s traditional approach to opposition.

And just remember, when Abbott took the Liberal leadership on two years ago, it was the Coalition staring down the barrel of 60/40 electoral Armageddon — and that should be remembered in any wholistic assessment of his tactics and strategy.

I don’t in any way seek to mitigate this poll — but it is the first one for the year; clearly in the next few weeks, we will hear from Newspoll, Galaxy and Nielsen. We may, in fact, hear from them very soon; my point is that it will take a little time to re-establish the trend line to make the findings of all of these polls meaningful in a qualitative sense.

Having said all of that, I’d be happier with these numbers if I was Tony Abbott than if I was Julia Gillard. The voting figures favour the Liberals, movement on the preferred PM count favours Abbott despite his continued (albeit narrowed) deficit here, and the personal approval figures are a zero net sum game.

We will see…

And now that we’re all back for 2012, as I said at the outset, The Red And The Blue is also back for a big year; I will be having a preliminary look at the imminent Queensland state election tomorrow, and we will keep an eye on the Republican primaries in the US.

Assuming, that is, that there aren’t interruptions like scandals, other polls, or breaking news stories. But those of us who are interested in, or involved with, or addicted to, political life know that anything can simply happen at any time…

A big welcome back to all. Thanks for the growing support in 2011. I think we’ll have a great year in 2012 chewing the fat.