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Monthly Archives: May 2019

This is Part 3 of my “Uninformed Speculation” series on the 2019 Federal Election. The other two parts being Why Rob Oakshott Will Be Speaker In The 46th Parliament Of Australia” and Why Tanya Plibersek Will Be Dumped For Nikki Savvas As Deputy Labor Leader”.

As I write on Federal Election Eve, all the polls consistently say that Labor will win with 51.5% of the 2PP vote. My prediction is that the ALP will gain a little less than that vote share but still win enough seats to form a minority government holding 74 of the 151 seats and govern with the support of two Greens plus Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie.

Here’s how the election issues have panned out:

Bill Shorten’s Personality  

Will not influence votes. Morrison relentlessly harped on about the horror of Shorten’s  unlikeability but in the end Shorten has come out well.

Noting his significant lead in the “Preferred Prime Minister” ratings, Morrison tried to make the election into a beauty content between Shorten and himself. To this end, Morrison insisted on having three one-on-one debates with Morrison, aiming to force Shorten into the spotlight and exposing Shorten’s supposed personality deficiencies as starkly as possible to the voting public. Morrison also hoped to KO Shorten in these debates using his own superior communication skills, mental agility and innate aggression.

To the surprise of most, Shorten carried himself well through the debates with the live audiences rating Shorten the winner of the first debate and scoring the other two as draws. Shorten proved effective at being able to engage audiences on his agenda and, in contrast to his reputation for being a wooden communicator, was often able to connect at a personal and empathetic level with the listeners. Conversely, Morrison, while definitely a far more assured communicator and having excellent recall of debating points and figures that he wished to quote, often came across as scripted and abstract, more of a political machine rather than a real human being. Oftentimes Morrison seems to operate in an endless jabber-mode kind of a non-stop hyper-charged babble much like Kevin Rudd with a short-circuit and the volume amped to 11. 

Here, for fun, is Annabel Crabb’s original description of The Ruddbot:

 Ruddbot, our “first android prime minister” with a Muppet-inspired smile…

There are essential triggers hard-wired into the Ruddbot cortex. Ask the android machine about the number of union officials on its front bench and it will also promptly divert into a charming reverie about a rock star, an academic and a Mandarin-speaking diplomat. Include a reference to Mark Latham in a question, and it will reply “I am not aware of those reports.” Ask it any difficult question and it has been programmed to reply by asking itself several of its own. It will then answer them all with mechanical precision.

In the end, the final Leader’s Debate was quite boring as it was apparent before it started that Shorten was Morrison’s equal in the debates and that no conclusive victory would be gained by either man. Morrison appears to lack his usual energy, seemingly resigned to being unable to KO Shorten. For his part Shorten seemed to have the glow of a man who, to his own amazement, survived a test he felt sure would overcome him.

In the debates, Morrison was hamstrung by being unable to unleash the full force of his aggression as the Christchurch Shooting tragedy which occurred just prior to the start of the election campaign made snarling aggression, a common feature of Morrison’s communication, distasteful in the public mind, forcing Morrison to curtail this instinct of his and robbing him of a natural advantage.

Towards the end of the campaign, Newscorp made an ill-considered attack on Bill Shorsten vis-a-vis his mother. Public revulsion at this tactic provoked sympathy for Shorten and a considerable improvement in his personal approval ratings, much to the chagrin of Newscorp and whichever executive gave approval to this distasteful over-reach.

Galilee Basin Coal Mines (Adani)

Important in Queensland. Labor’s luke-warm toleration of Adani imperils jobs in central Queensland and means that the Coalition will retain all their Queensland rural marginals and gain the seat of Herbert. But the city/country divide means that Brisbane Metro seats will lack the same affect and align with the general national swing of 1.5% toward the ALP.

Big Tax Scare Campaign

Has not cut through. The polls show only a minimal narrowing of the polls toward the incumbent LNP Coalition government since the campaign began. Indeed, the lack of movement in the polls indicates that no issue has particularly cut through from either side. Voters made up their minds before the campaign began and have not changed their views since.

Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years convinced the electorate that a change is required.

Caveat: Even now, 24 hrs before voting there are a great many undecideds out there. On Saturday Morning the phrase “Big Scary Tax” in the newspapers or at the polling booth could easily push that needful 1.5% Morrison’s way.

Franking Credits

Will not affect votes. This issue created a lot of heated talk but in the end this issue does not affect many people. Only self-supported retirees who do not receive a pension are affected by this measure and only a small sub-set of those.

The Franking Credits issue in the end merely energised rusted-on Liberal voters who would never swing to Labor anyway.

Other pensioners did fall for Morrison’s scare campaign initially but if this has changed voting intention then it is not reflected in the polls.

Negative Gearing

Will not affect votes. Like all the tax issues, endlessly hammered by Morrison, but did not cut through if the polls are correct.

Shorten’s appeal to fairness appears to have neutralised Morrison’s “price crash, rent spike” rhetoric. Shorten has been arguing the case for Negative Gearing for at least three years now. I think the issue is now familiar to the voters and has lost its heat.

For those interested, here is the research showing that the concept that Keating’s abolition of  Negative Gearing in 1985 caused a rental spike is a myth.

Climate Change

Will not change seats. I thought Morrison did very well at arguing his case that the Liberals have done enough on Climate Change. But Shorten did produce a great cut-through line on this in the second Leader’s debate. Whilst Morrison was eulogising the LNP achievement of meeting Kyoto and Paris Agreement Carbon targets, Shorten intejected to note that Australian Carbon emissions are higher than they ever were  and said  “Typical Surgeon’s response – the operation was a complete success but the patient died”

The Climate Change issue has shifted voters in some safe Liberal voting seats but not many in marginal seats. Some,  but not many.

I think Shorten made the tactically correct call not to give a total cost to his Carbon Abatement policy. I think Shorten has correctly judged that general community sentiment is present for Climate Abatement and so there is not pressing insistence that this policy be comprehensively costed. Giving a definitive cost to Carbon Abatement would merely have handed Morrison with another Big Scary Number in addition to the Big Scary Tax Number that he has been endlessly shouting at the electorate.

Liberal Party Too Right Wing

Meaningful in Victoria. The wrecking tactics of the right-wing of the Federal LNP has outraged moderate Liberal voters in Victoria who are simultaneously repelled by a takeover of the State Liberals by religious conservatives. Outrage at the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull caused  a huge backlash among moderate Libs in last year’s Victorian State Election and resulted in a landslide loss including shocking losses of blue-ribbon seats.

Three or four seats will ultimately go to the ALP over this issue in tomorrow’s Federal vote.

Jobs And The Economy

Important. This is why the LNP are still in the contest. Morrison has been able to say that the Budget is back in surplus (in fact it isn’t until next year on projections, but this year it is very close). The talismanic surplus speaks meaningfully to the electorate on the subject of economic management which is considered a traditional LNP strength.

In addition, while there is very little wages growth, most people have jobs and the unemployment rate is fairly low. While the economy is lacking vigour, most people are working. In conditions where the economy is acceptably good, governments mostly retain power. (Howard’s loss in 2007 a notable exception).

LNP Disunity

This is the election-deciding issue. Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years has persuaded the electorate that a change is required. Government  infighting has caused the Libs to depose two Prime Ministers and prevented them from finalising basic policy on Power and Energy. This is a basic failing of governance and this will cause them to lose tomorrow’s election.

Well, let’s see what happens…

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Following on from my uninformed speculation about the Federal Election result I would like to add some uninformed speculation about the new Labor Leader and Deputy Leader.

Anthony Albanese would appear to be favoured to win but I wonder if this might create a factional conundrum for the Labor Caucus. I am under the impression that Labor is required to balance factional, gender and State interests in the appointment of its senior officers. Albanese is from the Left faction, but so is current Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek. Would the Labor Right faction be prepared to tolerate the Left owning both leadership positions ? If not, would they require Tanya Plibersek to stand aside as Deputy Leader and cede that position to the Right ?

Plibersek would definitely resist any non-volitional incineration and refuse to step aside. In that case, with the Left owning Leader and Deputy Leader, the Right may have to be mollified by being given a large number of senior Shadow positions.

Could Plibersek end up getting dumped ? 

If so, who from the Right faction would replace her ? Kristina Kenneally is from the Right and also female. She was prominent in the campaign being employed as Shorten’s attack dog. But perhaps Kenneally would prefer not to displace her sister-comrade acrimoniously. But then again, why not ? If the ALP are going to make difficult leadership decisions they might as well do so as soon as possible. Plibersek is strongly associated with Shorten and may now be irredeemably tarred with the losing policy positions of this  election campaign and indeed the past two campaigns.

So there you go: Albanese for leader and Kenneally as Deputy.

Other Candidates

Jim Chalmers (Shadow Finance) is from the Right (factional balance) and would make a good option as Deputy if Labor decide to go for generational change and leadership renewal and completely move away from the familiar faces that have now lost two elections.. Thanks to Nikki Savvas who pointed out this generational change aspect on Insiders this morning. Savvas also says that Chalmers is a sharp communicator with a quick mind. Morrison is very quick-witted indeed and the ALP could use someone prominent with those skills.

Just quickly, Savvas is one of my favourite Insiders guests. Knowledgeable and concise. I wish bloody Malcolm Farr and Barrie Cassidy would stop interrupting her and let her talk. Her contributions are always excellent.

Plibersek would be disastrous as Leader in my view. Sorry, but left-wing feminists have zero appeal as leaders except to other left-wing feminists. Sometimes carries that scornful superiority which bedevils certain left-wing intellectuals. Can tend to scoff and derisively snort. Its electoral poison. Plibersek would reduce the ALP to 1 seat, her own, which she would hold with a 99% 2PP.

Chris Bowen, current Shadow Treasurer and from the Right faction, would be potentially worse as Leader than Plibersek. Morrison would eat him alive. Bowen would be a gibbering wreck in a fortnight. He’s the ALP version of Alexander Downer except wonked out on Theoretical Economics. I actually think Bowen is a very competent Economic mind, clearly superior to Frydenberg, but not the one for National Leader. Sometimes tends to gabble and protest when put under stress by questioning. But then again so do I. I think that’s normal. I’m not judging him. Well yes I am, but not in a bad way.

Chris Bowen (again) could be promoted to Deputy under Albanese to keep the Right happy. But then again it was Bowen’s Big Tax Plans he developed as Shadow Treasurer that have just been flushed by the great Australian voting public. Bowen might remind the public of BAD THINGS. Certainly Bowen will be a daily target for Morrison from now on as author of the so-called Retiree Tax, Housing Tax, Income Tax, Superannuation Tax and in general the loser who wanted to steal $400 Billion in Tax from honest hard-working Aussie battlers earning over $180K per year. And, like Savvas said, Bowen gifted the Libs a gilt-edged attack line on his own policies: If you don’t like Labor’s policies, don’t vote for them. Frydenberg sepulchrally intoned that line every day of the campaign. I think Bowen has to go. Not in a bad way.

Albanese: calm under pressure, relaxed, experienced, is authentic and liked. Good mind. Runs a reasonable attack line. Sense of humour. Should connect well with ordinary Australians. Closest thing to an ALP ScoMo. Should win the ballot in a canter.

Nikki Savvas: Lets herself get interrupted too often. Wouldn’t make her Deputy Leader of the ALP.

Miscellaneous – Who else of the female gender did Shorten have in his group of bodyguards during the campaign ? Maybe one of them would be the go for Deputy. Or all of them simultaneously. Maybe they could operate an an amalgamated cross-factional hive-mind. ? I’ve got one and I’ve never been happier.

The result will be: ALP 74 LNP 71 GRN 2 OTH 4 CLIVE PALMER 0

which means a ALP Minority Government supported by two Greens, Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott. Oakeshott will become Speaker. You heard it here first.

How We Will Get There

The 2016 result was LNP 76 ALP 69 GRN 1 OTH 4

Since then, the post-election redistribution made two Victorian seats notionally ALP (Corangamite and Dunkley), additional seats were created in the ACT and VIC which are both notionally ALP, a SA seat held by Labor was abolished and Wentworth was lost by the Liberals to the Independent.

So the starting position for the 2019 poll (tomorrow) is: LNP 73 ALP 72 GRN 1 OTH 5

Projected Outcome

The Swing will be 1.5%. ALP will get 51.1% of the vote, 2PP

QLD – Rural Qld needs jobs so the proposed Adani coal mine is popular. This means that the LNP will retain all their rural marginals and gain the ultra-marginal seat Herbert based around Townsville.  Brisbane Metro will align with the national swing and the ALP will gain Forde (Brisbane Metro, 0.6% swing required)

VIC – The anger over the Turnbull sacking has abated. But resentment among moderate Libs at the undue influence and instability engendered by the right-wing Dutton/Abbott group, along with the same resentment felt at the current takeover of the local Liberal State party by right-wing Libs will cause moderate Libs to swing to the ALP.

In addition to the seats that have become notionally Labor by redistribution, the ALP will additionally gain Chisholm (2.9%) where the incumbent candidate has also made remarks seen as anti-LGBT, which will pad the gain from the raw swing; GRN will gain Macnamara (1.2%) , formerly known as Melbourne Ports from the ALP.

Casey (4.5%) will be retained by Tony Smith who did a good job as Speaker in the last Parliament and is a respected traditionally moderate Vic Liberal. Deakin (6.4%) is a little out of range. Higgins and Kooyong will be retained despite significant swings. Flinders (7%) will be held by Health Minister Greg Hunt despite Julie Banks, the ex-Liberal MP, running in Flinders and directing preferences to Labor. LaTrobe (3.2%) too close to call.

WA – ALP are coming off a low base and the State Libs are a bit on the nose, so ALP will gain Swan (2.6%) and Hasluck (3.6%). Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce (3.6%) is said to be close but Porter’s profile as Attorney-General will help him to retain.

NSW – Latest indications are that NSW will swing to the Libs. But ALP will gain Gilmore (0.7%) where the Libs have been beset by infighting. Rob Oakeshott seems to be popular and will gain Cowper (4.6%) from NAT; LNP will gain Lindsay (1.1%) and regain Wentworth(1.0%) from IND.

TAS – The 2016 Mediscare campaign artificially inflated the ALP vote in Tasmania last time and the State Libs are popular. LNP will gain Braddon (1.7%)

SA –  I don’t expect SA to swing much. Libs will retain Boothby (2.7%) and polling indicates that the Centre Alliance will retain Mayo (2.9%) quite easily.

NT – No change. LNP said to be gaining a swing but the margins in both of the seats will be too large for the Libs to gain.

ACT – No change, except ALP wins the newly created 3rd seat.

So that’s how you get to ALP 74 LNP 71 GRN 2 OTH 4 CLIVE PALMER 0 and Rob Oakeshott as Speaker.

Biggish Calls

Largish swings in Victorian seats Higgins, Kooyong and Deakin will not deliver ALP gains. Same for Warringah (NSW – Tony Abbott); Dickson (Peter Dutton) will be retained by the Libs. Farrer (NSW) will swing hard but Libs will retain. Indi (VIC) will be retained by the Independent.

Pivotal Seats

There are many – but LaTrobe in Victoria (Lib 3.2%), Pearce (WA Lib 3.6% – Christian Porter, the Attorney-General), Warringah (Lib 11.1% see above) and Petrie (QLD Lib 1.6%) – could give the ALP majority government (though Warringah would be IND not ALP).

What Chance This ?

ALP win 75 seats on the night then two weeks later win Warringah by 10 votes after a full recount. Tony Abbott delivers govt. to Labor !

Just Quietly

Scott Morrison has studiously avoided assisting Tony Abbott in Warringah, hoping to rid himself of Abbott’s destructive destabilizing presence in the LNP Party Room. This is the second time Morrison has run dead on Abbott hoping for others to do his dirty work which is now an obvious ScoMo Modus Operandi.

The first time Morrison ran dead on Abbott was when Morrison failed to whip his numbers in support of Abbott in the leadership spill against Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott will not have forgotten this and, given Morrison’s current latest passive-aggressive effort to dud Abbott, if Abbott survives into the next Parliament (or even if he doesn’t) it will be Abbott’s sole raison d’etre to destroy Morrison. Ray Hadley’s too.