Narrow Turnbull win could be a nightmare

While it is far too early for polls to be genuinely predictive, a new crunching of the numbers has produced a plausible scenario where the crossbench including Xenephon will simply be irrelevant, and the Greens alone will hold the balance of power in the Senate if numbers are fairly even in the HoR.

Metapoll intends to do polling of voters intentions for the senate, as will no doubt other pollsters. Meanwhile they have analysed recent polls by other organisations and inferred from them a senate result using the NSW upper house election data as a proxy for preference flows, as its voting system is most similar to the new senate voting laws. This is how it came out:


Both major parties fail to win a majority.

    The Coalition would have lost two seats, from 33 seats to 31 seats. Labor would have gained three seats, from 25 seats to 28 seats.

    On the cross-bench, the Greens would have gained one additional seat, bringing their total to 11 seats. The Nick Xenophon team would have quadrupled their current representation, picking up a total of 4 seats (one third of the SA seats). MetaPoll predicts that Jacqui Lambie (TAS) and Glenn Lazarus (QLD) will be the only other crossbenchers to retain their seats

To pass legislation needs 39 votes. The LNP together with the crossbench only make 37. Labor with the Greens would have 39. In such circumstances the media would not be interested in what Nick Xenephon, Jacqui Lambie or Glenn Lazarus think about contentious legislation, but would be knocking down Di Natale’s door. This is how the present and predicted senates look:



The polls they used have Labor and the LNP pretty much even on two-party preferred terms. Recently Roy Morgan has Labor ahead 52.5-47.5 and Essential 51-49. I understand, though, the LNP vote is holding up where it counts, in the marginals.

The polls are likely to swing to the LNP as a result of the kerfuffle over asylum seekers. In brief Peter Dutton reacted to the Greens policy of increasing the humanitarian refugee intake to 50,000 per annum from the present 13.750 by saying many rewfugees would be illiterate and innumerate in their own language, but would take our jobs while also clogging up the dole queue. Turnbull responded by praising his immigration minister.

The press has been dumping on Turnbull:

  • Michelle Grattan said that if returned Turnbull should dump Dutton as a minister, and that Dutton’s comments were crude and inflammatory. But Turnbull’s own comments praising his “outstanding minister” were “a combination of shocking and ridiculous”.

Thing is, Ms Grattan, chances are it wasn’t a gaffe from Peter Dutton, rather from the Crosby/Textor playbook on how you run election campaigns.

Yes, probably it will work electorally. All he has to do is get a few people in a hundred to change their vote.

This is a complex issue, which deserves a separate post. My point here is that it highlights why a ‘deal’ between the Greens and Labor to form government if they have the opportunity won’t happen.

Turning back the boats was a ruggedly contested policy that came out of the 2015 Labor national conference. They won’t change it to form an agreement with the Greens, and the Greens won’t get into bed with them unless they do.

In 2013 when Gillard changed her position on the ‘carbon tax’ she could have told the truth, and said it was a condition of gaining the support of the Greens. She equivocated and it didn’t work. Longer term, though striking a bargain with the Greens gives rise to the current situation where a scare campaign can be mounted, saying that what Labor promises can’t be taken seriously because if push comes to shove they’ll ditch their policy to gain power through the support of the Greens.

If the Greens take a couple of seats off Labor, say Batman and Wills to add to Melbourne, it could happen that Labor falls just short of government. Unlikely, but possible. Labor can’t retain any integrity as a party where 70 or so representatives have their promises to electors undercut by a handful with a different mandate.

In the Gillard government, Wilkie cancelled the agreement, and then, in early 2013 from memory, Christine Milne did likewise. Legislation kept on flowing, including Gonski and the NDIS. Labor learnt from this experience that it is better in a minority government to legislate your own policies and then bargain or amend in the senate.

A narrow loss for Labor, and there could still be a functional government.

Meanwhile if Turnbull wins narrowly, he will probably need 80 or more of the HoR seats to get anything through in a double dissolution sitting. And then on an ongoing basis he could well face a fundamentally hostile senate.

Turnbull’s baseline task is to win well. He decided early this year that he could not compete on policy, so it’s classic Crosby/Textor scare campaigns on house prices, asylum seekers, a coalition with the Greens and union power. People, and the media generally, keep waiting for the real Turnbull to show up. They are surprisingly slow to realise that the real Turnbull is right there before us in the flesh, a charming, articulate hollow man who will, as Michelle Grattan says, do “whatever it takes”.

11 thoughts on “Narrow Turnbull win could be a nightmare”

  1. AFP raids for NBN documents, politicians with memory lapses, border control dog whistling on steroids it is turning into a crazy week – probably net impact on voting intention somewhere close to zero?

  2. Yes, it’s a schmozzle, but the one result is that Feeney may have lost his seat to the Greens, with the stuff about living in his wife’s unit in Canberra and claiming an allowance, while within the rules, a bad look.

    The the Greens candidate went to his negatively geared house in his electorate and asked the tenant if he’d mind putting a Greens sign in the front yard. The tenant said, “Go for your life!”

    Laura Tingle thinks Turnbull/Dutton finally overcooked the asylum seeker scare campaign and turned it into a negative for them. Possibly.

  3. NBN raids are certainly sucking oxygen from the media space this morning – Dreyfus is going for all he’s worth – Your word Schemozzle is a fair call

  4. The most noticeable thing is that Shorten seems to be having a good time campaigning.

  5. John, I’d noticed that and it can only do him good in the long run. Contrast Julia Gillard who was charming in person, but never comfortable when there was a camera around.

  6. Apparently there is an Fairfax/Ipsos poll out which is saying the Turnbull’s rating is now lower than Gillard’s in 2010:

    Mr Turnbull’s approval now stands at a net rate of plus 10 per cent derived from 48 per cent of voters approving of his performance as prime minister, minus the 38 per cent who disapprove. Ms Gillard had been at plus 12.

    It’s still positive, of course, but some of the shine is obviously coming off.

  7. Yeah, TPP it’s 51-49 to the LNP and unchanged, but still problematic for Turnbull if he wins narrowly.

  8. Yes, indeed. I’m working on a post about some of the more hidden meanings of those two polls. Then I reckon it’s back to climate stuff. We are only a quarter of the way through the campaign, and it’s impossibly long!

  9. It would appear the Australian populace is fed up with the Abbott government, even when it’s led by Malcolm Turnbull.

  10. Kristina Keneally: Is the real Malcolm missing in action, or hiding in plain sight?

    Why does a man who apparently made such great financial deals make such lousy deals in his political career?

    And who has a history of reaching desperately for the “gotcha” moment when the chips are down? Turnbull. Who gets desperate when he isn’t feeling the love? Turnbull. Who will do whatever it takes to be PM? Turnbull.

    Maybe the real Malcolm isn’t missing after all. Perhaps he’s been there all along, hiding in plain sight.

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