Is it a personal battle between two leaders?
In large part, yes, because they certainly want to talk about each other, and the media do not want to talk about policy, having settled on the notion that neither side has any, although any journalist who is interested can find Labor’s policies here, the Liberal Party’s story book (plan) here. The Nationals’ Plan is much the same, but slightly different. For The Greens, it depends what you click on when you go to their site, but this is headlined as their Election Policy Platform.
All this is happening in an environment where trust in government, politics and politicians has largely been destroyed.
For example, see:
- The New Daily reports New research reveals Australians’ distrust of Scott Morrison is turning them off government.
The research is from the Roy Morgan poll which turned up this amazing list:
Followed by this one:
Anthony Albanese is now in second place, up from eighth in their 2020 research.
However, the real effect of what the Morrison mobsters have done is restore Australians distrust in government, which goes back to the time when Julia Gillard unseated Kevin Rudd, with a brief interlude of trust after the COVID response, only to be broken by parliamentary sex scandals and COVID vaccination delays from about the middle of last year.
I’m not sure that rorts make any difference anymore. Morrison, Joyce et al have normalised politicians making decisions to favour their friends.
This graph shows the pattern from when Roy Morgan started the series in 2007:
I wish to point out that the Australian people twice returned a government with the same party in power when they had little trust in government, Turnbull in 2016 and Morrison in 2019.
Richard Denniss It’s Official: Scott Morrison Has Given Up On Trying To Win Over Young Voters says that the 2022 budget clearly showed who Morrison thinks will vote for him:
- The prime minister clearly thinks that the federal election in May will be decided by voters who are older than average, richer than average, and more likely to live in regional Australia than average. As a result of that cynical calculus, he has aimed an enormous amount of our money at his target voters, while doing little to address the major concerns of young people.
Australians earning over $200,000 will soon receive tax cuts of more than $9000 per year. People who drive the biggest cars are about to get the biggest benefits from cuts to fuel excise. And business owners who employ a new apprentice will get a $15,000 subsidy for doing so. So, if you’re a builder who earns more than $200,000 per year, drives a big ute, and employs a few apprentices then this is a great budget for you. But for students, renters, casual workers, young parents, and those worried about climate change… not so much.
The budget was about winning the election, nothing else.
There was a smidgen of hope in Newspoll. Read the story in Morrison government receives minor budget bounce, but ALP leads 54-46 in latest Newspoll.
The LNP vote went up from 35 to 36. Labor dropped from 41 to 38, and the Greens went up from 8 to 10.
Morrison has a performance rating of -12 (42/54), Albanese comes out at 43/44. The difference is that only 4% are doubtful about Morrison, compared to 13% for Albanese.
For better prime minister it’s only 43/42 in Morrison’s favour.
BludgerTrack2022 has some interesting information, a special Election overview, and demographic information on individual seats, like ours at Ryan, which shows higher average levels of education and income.
I’d like to bring you a poll conducted by The Australian Financial Review Ipsos in PM starts the election race from well behind: poll on the Wednesday to Saturday after the budget (30 March – 2 April). Here’s the main table:
The whole poll has a margin or error of 2.03 per cent. No doubt the MOE is greater for each of the demographic components, but the trend shows that Richard Dennis was probably right. Morrison and Frydenberg were shoring up their political base by spraying their money around. The only demographics where they lead Labor are the 55+ and males. They are competitive in the regions.
The Greens have done well by regaining the 14% they had in 2019. This is problematic on one front for Labor, but the larger problem is the Other and Undecided, which amount to 21%. This is where the advertising dollars of Clive Palmer, and the advertising guile of Morrison may leave a regular, decent bloke like Albanese standing.
Struggling for air through COVID, the media decided Albanese and Labor were irrelevant. Morrison and gang simply occupied the whole space that was left by the state premiers. Now the COVID has subsided from media view, the premiers have also subsided, leaving Morrison, in typical fashion, claiming success.
Albanese’s budget reply speech provided a salutary example. In his 4347-word speech (transcript here). Around three quarters of the words were not about aged care. Early on he said Australia had been through hard times and needed to be reconstructed, in an inclusive way, based on five pillars.
He chose one part of one pillar to expand in detail – institutional aged care as part of Care (aged care, childcare, medicare, NDIS etc). There again he made five points, but a few words, saying the registered nurses would be introduced 24/7 by 2023, was all anyone wanted to talk about in the media.
This is extraordinarily difficult, probably impossible, and it was a political mistake to say so. 2023 has in fact been culled from the transcript.
Then on Q&A last Thursday (see Election countdown on Iview) Virginia Trioli continually cut Clare O’Neil off, passed her by, and made sure someone else had the last say, and corrected her on the cost of climate change. What Trioli said was simply wrong.
When it came to aged care, which is one of O’Neil’s shadow responsibilities, Trioli became a prize bully rather than the program moderator, cut her off and told her her answer was completely unsatisfactory before O’Neil actually gave her answer (“I would have thought you’d have a better answer worked out on that one.”). What O’Neil was trying to say was:
- We need to bring in somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 additional nurses into the sector. There are 10,000 nurses that left the sector between 2019 and 2020, left the sector or left their current employer. Now, we believe, and we’ve worked up this policy really carefully with the sector and with nurses… (Emphasis added)
O’Neil was then cut off, giving the floor to Anne Ruston and then Sam Maiden, with no right of reply to O’Neil.
After Jim Chalmers’ talk to the National Press Club, it was clear that everyone went to sleep, and Laura Tingle started with a question that Chalmers had just answered.
On Insiders today, Patricia Karvelas worried the bejesus out of Richard Marles (“Where is the money coming from?”) when it is not possible to give numbers in opposition, and Frydenberg as treasurer shifts debt around in the tens or even hundreds of billions, wastes billions on companies that needed no help during COVID and paid the French to go away rather than make submarines, and claims credit for extraordinary increased revenue coming from increased prices of mineral exports.
Journalists forget that they are roughly the same in public esteem as politicians and used car sales-persons (usually men). They pick up LNP talking points and use them to attack Labor, amplifying them in the process. Trioli, however, was way beyond that. She should be taken off the program.
Albanese is perfectly right in reckoning himself as the underdog. It’s going to be a seat by seat dogfight. Former Labor Senator John Black explains why in Don’t order sympathy cards for Morrison just yet (probably pay-walled) based on the state polling from the Newspoll quarterly aggregate.
Labor has to win seven seats to win outright. Its basic problem is that many of the marginal seats are held by Labor, so it has to defend as well as attack. Labor needs four to get ahead of the Libs, and have first shot at forming government. Black says:
- The poll summaries for the last quarter show the biggest state swings against the Liberals are in Western Australia and South Australia, at 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.
Uniform swings of this size produce three seats for Labor in WA (Hasluck, Pearce and Swan) and Boothby in SA.
The uniform swings in NSW and Victoria yield only Reid and Chisholm.
The uniform swing of 2% in Qld yields exactly nothing, hence the election could be won or lost in Tasmania.
I know that other polls tell different stories. The two major parties determine their effort by professional seat by seat polling. Exactly which seats are realistic targets is closely held within the party. In Queensland The Courier Mail says watch Flynn (Central Queensland), Leichhardt (Far North Q), Longman, just north of Dickson, north of Brisbane, and Brisbane (central city). I think Labor ambition spreads a bit further than that.
Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper reveals that The Greens, while contesting all seats to boost their senate vote:
- consider eight [in the lower house] to be realistic possibilities. Four are currently held by the Coalition: the electorates of Ryan and Brisbane in Queensland, and Kooyong and Higgins in Victoria. Four are Labor: Griffith in Queensland, Macnamara in Victoria, Richmond in NSW and Canberra in the ACT.
They can concentrate their major effort on a very small proportion of the 151 seats, relying on Labor to do the business in the rest.
Brisbane and Ryan on the numbers are also gettable by Labor. Currently Labor is ahead of the Greens in both in primary votes.
The Coalition needs to worry about 20 candidates supported by Climate 200. One of them is left-leaning independent Andrew Wilkie, and one is more conservative Rebekka Sharkie. Three are senate candidates.
I addition we have Bob Katter, Helen Haines and Zali Steggall.
There has been talk of conservative independents doing a deal with the Coalition on confidence and supply. However, I would rate that unlikely, because they would make demands on climate and a national integrity commission which would be unacceptable to some Liberals and the Nationals as a party. Part of the deal would be to shed Morrison and Peter Dutton as leaders. Josh Frydenberg may not be there if one out of the Greens, Labor and independent Dr Monique Ryan get up on preferences. The seat is considered marginal by Antony Green.
So a lot of balls may go up in the air.
One thing is certain. I can’t see Labor doing a deal with the Greens, as per Gillard, in return for supply and confidence. Nor should a small proportion of voters (apart from Adam Bandt, less than 30% in a handful of seats would do it) determine the policy we all live by. If their arguments are good, and politely put, that would be a different matter.
If a small minority of voters can determine policy for Labor in power by coercion, then Labor can never be taken seriously on policy again.
Seccombe does point out that the Greens only have three senators retiring, six continuing, with a good chance of electing six more to make 12, and possibly the balance of power in the house of review.
I haven’t looked at the senate, except in Queensland it looks like two each from Labor and the LNP, plus a Green, then the final spot is fought out by Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer, Campbell Newman, or the Liberal Amanda Stoker.
I’d put a bit on Clive Palmer if I were a betting person.
Finally I’m told on good authority, Albo’s opening speech Australians deserve better was inspiring. So far I’ve just gotten past seeing the back of someones head for nine minutes.
Let us hope Australians do get it.
Update: Sorry, Albo’s speech is here.
Update 2: The AFR has an article What polls tell us about the race.
Pollsters have sharpened up their methodology since 2019, are more cautious and more humble, and have agreed to always give information on sample size and margin of error. The article has this compilation:
William Bowe says with those numbers Labor would win. The polls can’t be that wrong. If the election was held on those polls.
John Black has done further analysis based on demographics and such. He reckons Labor will pick up 11 and lose one on present polling. He likes the prospects of about five of the Climate 200 candidates, reckons they could end up with two or three. He doesn’t see any success for the Greens, pointing out that there is a drift of young Greens to Labor once they pass 40.
I think he underestimates their capacity to knock doors, phone, and blanket the target seats with pamphlets and corflutes.
Update 3 (27 April 2022): AFR-Ipsos has a poll dated 20-23 April.
In the article Phillip Coorey says:
- The Coalition’s belief it will hold all or most of its seats in Queensland has been buttressed by the latest poll which shows it is the best-performing state for the Morrison government at this stage.
He’s wrong. In 2019 the LNP blitzed Labor 58.4/41.6.
Whichever way you cut the latest poll it’s pretty much even, which would have to mean something in terms of seats. They have been acting like a bunch of crazies.
Meanwhile the Greens would be encouraged by their 14% showing, compared to 10.3 at the last election, although the margin of error tempers any conclusions that might be drawn.