Category Archives: Politics & Government

Work categories and voting patterns

Roy Morgan have done some interesting research on voting patterns according to how we earn our living. This table shows the work categories most likely to vote for the three major parties:

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To me there is a vague shape of a class analysis, with workers voting Labor and bosses voting Liberal, but one has to be careful about the actual numbers. If Labor gets a first preference vote in the low 30s there is plenty of scope for workers to vote Liberal.

There is interesting detail in the accompanying text. Primary school teachers are split down the middle. With the Greens we have to remember that the vote is low. While social workers are the profession most likely to vote Green only 33% of them do so. I would be interested in how many vote Liberal.

It’s now well known that Green voters earn more on average than other voters. Clearly they have spent more years in education.

I’m wondering what you make of it all.

From hero to zero politically: Campbell Newman shows how

Doctors_1800187_670334396358324_809804344_n-250All during the 2013 election campaign Kevin Rudd warned voters that Abbott would “Cut, cut and cut to the bone” just as Campbell Newman had done in Queensland. Commentators have remarked on Abbott’s lack of a honeymoon period. Campbell Newman certainly had one, but has now spectacularly squandered his political capital in various ways.

Dominating headlines for weeks on end the doctors’ dispute seems to have become something of a tipping point. Mark at his new blog The New Social Democrat has published an excellent link-filled post Newman v the doctors: a political fight that is poisoning the LNP, originally published at Crikey.

Mark sees the changes proposed in doctors’ conditions as carrying a broader warning for Australian health policy:

The contracts, read in conjunction with changes to the Industrial Relations Act, deny salaried doctors unfair dismissal protections, control over work location and timing of shifts, and require doctors to take direction on appropriate medical care from hospital and health service administrators.

The suggestion is that, having failed to find private operators for public hospitals that could actually provide cheaper services, the government’s agenda is to substitute bureaucratic cost controls for clinical judgement. That’s something the federal policy shifts towards paying hospitals for the “efficient price” of a procedure encourages. (Emphasis added)

The ground is shifting politically:

None of this is a good look for a government that recently lost the Redcliffe byelection to Labor with a massive swing. Polling conducted by ReachTEL for the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation in Ashgrove (the Premier’s seat), Cairns, Ipswich West and Mundingburra shows massive public opposition and significant impacts on the LNP’s vote. Newman would easily lose his seat to the ALP on these numbers, and it could be reasonably inferred that the LNP’s majority would be in danger.

Readers may recall that in 2012 Anna Bligh spectacularly crashed and burned, losing 44 of 51 seats to be left with seven in an 89-member parliament. With a walloping majority “Can do” Campbell may do the impossible and become a one-term government. A tweet from Possum Commitatus quotes a ReachTEL poll which says that if an election were held now the LNP would lose 36 seats and government.

Newman has looked gone in his own seat for some time. If people think he’s not OK as leader let them ponder the alternatives!

Elsewhere Kiwi doctors stand in solidarity with their Qld colleagues and are being advised to stay well away.

The electorate is volatile. Abbott be warned!

WA Senate election result

Now to work!

You can follow the WA senate election results at the AEC tally room or I think preferably at the ABC. There is seat by seat counting at Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Poll Bludger is here.

At time of writing (just after midnight EST) it seems that about 25% of the vote has been counted. It’s looking like two seats for the Liberals, one for Labor, one for the Greens, one for the Palmer United Party and the final seat a tussle between Liberal and Labor, with Liberals the more likely.

I’m not sure exactly what this means for the final balance of power in the Senate, but I think it means that Abbott will have a choice of coming to terms with Labor and the Greens, or assembling a combination of “others” which must include PUP. If anyone knows, please share.

It looks as though Scott Ludlam will be elected comfortably, which is good to see.

Update: This morning Antony Green has Labor slightly ahead for the last seat with just over half the vote counted.

For Senate composition go here.

So for the LNP it’s a choice between needing 6/8 extras or 7/8. See also my comment here.

If a tree falls in the forest…

…does anybody hear?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the past few days you will have heard/seen Joe Hockey say that the budget is in terrible shape and he’ll have to clean up Labor’s mess. You see it’s all Labor’s fault.

Chris Bowen has been saying that $20 billion of the $17 billion budget deterioration since Labor’s pre-election statement is due to Hockey’s own decisions, that Hockey is setting us up for swingeing cuts in the budget in May next year.

I think the $20 billion is across the forward estimates (four years) and the $17 billion is just this year – it’s confusing.

Anyway, the AFR provided this helpful graph, which was sourced from Treasury, but I can’t find there:

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Laura Tingle says the budget has been mugged by the deteriorating economy as well as alarming spending blowouts. There is a need, she says, not to “crunch a soft economy facing a continuing decline in national income, yet in the medium term there is a need to profoundly re-engineer the budget – and voters’ expectations.”

Yet there is so far a complete lack of what she calls “fiscal rules” to measure Hockey’s performance. There are no yardsticks or performance indicators. The future is completely open. We await the National Commission of Audit and the Government response with some trepidation.

Bruce Cockburn’s song If a tree falls sees vast swathes of forest felled. Yet single trees falling also go unnoticed. What’s happened in Queensland in the last couple of years foreshadows what we can expect. Ben Eltham’s report on the massive cuts to small and medium arts organisations in Queensland, for example, warns of worrying reverberations through the entire national arts sector. Cuts of that kind may not impinge directly on my experience, but I feel the life blood is being sucked out of the place. Yet the Newman government are now telling us how worthwhile the whole exercise has been. They are very proud of themselves. Continue reading If a tree falls in the forest…

Analysing the polls

Dr Kevin Bonham has a post Abbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead with this helpful advance summary:

  • 1. Following the recent Newspoll, the new Abbott Government has lost the two-party preferred polling lead.
  • 2. This does not necessarily mean the government would lose an election if one was held now.
  • 3. The Abbott Government has lost the 2PP polling lead much faster than any other new government elected from Opposition in federal polling history.
  • 4. Tony Abbott has also recorded negative personal ratings much faster than any new PM elected from Opposition in federal polling history.
  • 5. While polling taken at this stage has very little if any predictive value, governments that have lost the lead very early in their terms have a historically greater risk of defeat at the next election.
  • 6. Bill Shorten’s polling as Opposition Leader appears good, but is nothing unusual by the standards of other Opposition Leaders at the same stages of their careers.
  • 7. Furthermore the strength or otherwise of an Opposition Leader’s personal polling after only two months in the job has no relationship with their success at later elections.

I’ll leave you to read the rest. Continue reading Analysing the polls

The General goes

holden21_275Abbott, Hockey et al would have you believe that GM have made a decision to cease manufacturing in Australia. Kim Carr and Jay Weatherall have been saying that GM were willing to continue and had specified exactly what was required. My recall is that Weatherall said they wanted the Government to chip in $130 million. Carr told Waleed Aly that the price was significantly less than $150 million. Carr said further that the hectoring and bullying by Hockey, Abbott and others clearly let GM know they were not wanted.

I think Carr is right. The Government wanted to make the decision look as though it was made by GM alone and to a degree they have succeeded.

Tim Colebatch, in a column written before the decision was announced (sadly, his last) was clear that the decision was made by Abbott. He thinks it could precipitate a recession. And:

car programs cost $400 million a year, nothing like the $3 billion a year for diesel fuel rebates to mining companies, or the $5 billion to subsidise negative gearing. The budgetary cost of losing this industry will dwarf the cost of keeping it.

Continue reading The General goes

Keating the maddie

Politicians come in three types – straight men, fixers and maddies. … I am certainly a maddie!

That or something like it was the grab used on radio to promote the final episode of the Keating interviews with Kerry O’Brien.

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I was left wishing for more. I’d be interested in what he has to say about anything, but his comments on Labor since his time would have been especially interesting – even on Gillard/Rudd!

Laying the groundwork for the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will be an enduring achievement.

We were left with a haunting glimpse into the personal cost to Keating’s family life.

The earlier post is here.

I can still remember the fateful day on 2 March, 1996. I was mowing a lawn in Milton. There was daylight saving and by 5.20pm our time it was clear that an era had ended. Labor retained only 49 seats though the 2PP ended up 46.37/53.63. This time it was 46.51/53.49. The furniture disappears very quickly when you get into that zone!

Christopher’s Crisis

Pyne_vd-gonski-gone-pyne-275Christopher Pyne said he was expecting a warm reception from education ministers yesterday. Seems it was heated to the point of being downright explosive. According to The World Today, Tasmanian Education Minister, the Greens Nick McKim, says Mr Pyne had thrown a stick of dynamite into the discussions.

(Image via SMH.)

He also spoke of a “bombshell revelation that will rock the public education system to the core”.

Other ministers were similarly unimpressed. According to the AFR:

“All in all ministers are very disappointed,” Coalition NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who chaired the ministerial meeting, said.

McKim again:

“Here’s a unity ticket for you right here – a Labor minister, a Greens minister, National ministers, Liberal Party ministers, sticking up and unified behind Australian schools and behind funding certainty for Australian schools”

Pyne said “no-one should assume they will get less money”. Seems the government school sectors in the states that signed up to Gonski deals with Labor are expecting exactly that. Pyne seems to be strongly implying that if extra funds are needed for the states that didn’t sign up or for other aspects of his new scheme then it will come from the government school sectors of those states that did sign up.

Adrian Piccoli, the NSW minister, points out that this means that everything that is done in schools in 2014 will have to be done on the assumption that it may not flow through to 2015. McKim says we have “Christopher’s Crisis” rather than a “Shorten Shambles”.

Barrie Cassidy says that the Government assumed that it has a store of goodwill. He warns that it doesn’t.

Geoff Kitney in the AFR asks What is going on with the Abbott government? Continue reading Christopher’s Crisis

Gonski gone

Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There’s no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.

That’s Tony Abbott before the last election.

“you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

That’s Christopher Pyne, from the Brisbane Times piece, which is probably the clearest account of what is going on.

In simple terms, Pyne is going to honour the 2014 agreements, plus give the share owing to Queensland, WA and NT without expecting reciprocal commitments, but from 2015 there will be a “flatter, simpler, fairer” formula, within the same envelope of funding, but again without reciprocal commitments from the states and territories.

The LNP’s commitment on funding has only ever been for four years.

Presumably the LNP will have to change the law. Bronwyn Hinz at Crikey:

Another obstacle for Pyne is that the increased funding for school systems that signed up to Labor’s National Plan for School Improvement have been legislated for the period 2014-2019. The complexity of this legislation and a hostile Senate means that the Abbott government cannot just back away from these legislative commitments, and certainly cannot prevent the first additional funds from flowing before the start of the new school year.

Pyne claims that the Better Schools plan was incomprehensible an un-implementable. Certainly he declined a briefing from the Gonski panel and has never shown the slightest interest in Gonski’s findings. He plans to work from the old Howard scheme as a base.

Funnily enough, none of this is a surprise to me. It’s exactly what I expected from what was said before the elections. The statements by Abbott and Pyne back then were always a transparent snow job. Unlike Gillard’s “no carbon tax” statement, they intended to mislead. Continue reading Gonski gone

Hartcher on Rudd and Gillard

RuddGillard-240My attention was drawn to a series of articles under the heading The Meltdown by Peter Hartcher by Mark and then this post by John Quiggin. I thought them well worth a read, but found the links from Quiggin’s post less than straightforward to access. My purpose here is to facilitate such access rather than put a point of view. So here goes:

Actually if you click on the last on you get the links to the previous four.

This comes towards the end of Part 5:

Before the 2010 coup against Rudd, Anthony Albanese had presciently warned colleagues: “If you do this, you will destroy two Labor prime ministers.”

Penny Wong adds this postscript: “They were two extraordinary politicians. The great sadness of this time was that they were both in the same generation with the same ambition. Together they should have been invincible.”

Together they were essentially invincible, but Hartcher details quite convincingly how things fell apart after Rudd came back from the schmozzle of the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, apparently a changed man. A strategy meeting was held and it was agreed that they would press forward with the CPRS and take it to a double dissolution election ASAP after Australia Day. Instead Rudd went off and wrote a children’s book and came back in a mood of paralysis and avoidance, which persisted. Continue reading Hartcher on Rudd and Gillard

Indonesian spying affair

Indonesia has recalled its ambassador after leaked documents reveal Australia spied on president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, amongst others. Dr Natalegawa:

“It’s impossible for an ambassador in foreign country to do their duty in the midst of an unfortunate situation like this,” he said.

“The summoning of the ambassador is not considered a light step, but it’s a minimum step we can do to consolidate situation, and to show our firm but measured act.”

You have to wonder what the endgame is in this matter. Seasoned foreign affairs commenters seem to think these matters can be managed, everyone knows that everyone spies on everyone else. Behind the scenes all can be settled down and we continue as before.

Well that hasn’t worked so far for the US when Angela Merkel found that her cell phone was not off limits. The issue is still very much alive, though it’s not clear that the US will agree to a legally binding ‘no spy’ agreement.

It seems to me that Indonesia has all the leverage it needs to get whatever it wants, especially as Crikey’s editorial suggests, Abbott is pursuing an asylum seeker-based foreign policy.

Nevertheless the US may not allow us to enter a ‘no-spy’ agreement. Against that, the Chinese are taking an interest.

There’s more at The Guardian and The Conversation. Continue reading Indonesian spying affair

They don’t make them like Paul Keating anymore

8.30 pm is the absolute worst time in the 24 hour cycle for me, but of course it is prime TV time and last night we were treated to the first of four interviews of Paul Keating by Kerry O’Brien.

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Are there any other politicians who could sustain our interest over four hours? I’d have to agree with Evan Williams: They don’t make them like Paul Keating anymore.

He’s right, the scheduling shows up the current mediocre lot now gathering in Canberra.

The 1990 Australian election was a close run thing. The ALP under Bob Hawke won by nine seats with 49.9% of the vote. Mark once told me Australia would have been a much better place now if Peacock had won. Peacock would have been a one-term time minister, followed by PJK for three terms, followed by some-one other than John Howard. We can but dream!

Elsewhere Keating was in fine form in the Remembrance Day address. He reworked the folly of the First World War in a way that enhances us all and makes us grow in spirit.

He made some fine speeches but was also the master of the one-line insult. Here too there was a rawness and honesty that shades the current lot, who often use one-liners thought up by their spinmeisters.