Tag Archives: Tingle_Laura

Saturday Salon 10/3

1. Getting better all the time

On the whole, that’s how it is on just about everything, according the Gregg Easterbrook in his book It’s Better than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.

Readers here will be happy to know that there is more burnable oil and gas available now than ever before, gun homicide has been declining in the US, the masses in American have been getting richer in terms of purchasing power by a steady 3 per cent each year, plus life expectancy is increasing everywhere. Our good fortune began with the industrial revolution and there is no good reason why it should end. Continue reading Saturday Salon 10/3

Angry voters and the question of mandate

Nielsen and Newspoll both currently have Labor ahead 53-47 in two-party preferred (TPP) terms. This is almost the exact reverse of the 2013 election result which the LNP won 53.5-46.5.

This is how Nielsen is tracking:

Nielsen 23.6.14_cropped_600

This image from the AFR shows how the Coalition vote is trending in six polls:

AFR Je14_6e420e70-fa5f-11e3-80cb-3fa822d151bf_23p00 news poll of polls 600

Laura Tingle says voters are still angry over the budget:

Six weeks on from the budget, the rage is maintained: the majority of voters still think the budget is unfair and the task of confronting ever deepening voter hostility towards Prime Minister Tony Abbott is only growing.

It says something about the quality of the government’s budget sales job that, in the period since the budget, the number of Coalition voters who believe the budget is fair has actually fallen more sharply than the number of Labor voters who think it is fair.

The latest Nielsen poll figures suggest little the government has done has changed voters’ initial hostile reaction to the budget and, if anything, has only eroded its own base as the details of the budget’s impact on traditional constituencies like pensioners and families has become clearer.

Arguments about the budget crisis; that working people are working a month a year just to fund welfare recipients; that the government is not really cutting pensions – none of these seem to be cutting through.

John Quiggin in commenting on Hockey’s statement about “lifters” and “leaners” had this to say:

The hostile reception given to these Romneyesque arguments is unsurprising. The fact that Hockey is relying on talking points that failed even in the US is indicative of the level of delusion under which the government is operating. Having run a disciplined and entirely negative campaign, Abbott and Hockey ought to understand that they were elected by default. They owe their jobs to the fact that voters were sick of Labor’s leadership shenanigans.

The fiasco of the Senate election is a pretty clear indication of a “plague on both your houses” view. Instead, they appear to be under the impression that they were granted a mandate for radical change – and long after the budget is off the front page, the electorate will punish them for it.

Some of the hacks are finding comfort in the fact that the LNP has clawed back some support. In fact they’ve improved from a prospective landslide defeat to one that would just be demoralising. Of course much can happen suddenly in politics and the election is a long way away.

There can’t be much comfort, however, in Abbott’s approve/disapprove rating of 35-60, up from 34-62. The slide from November last year when it was 47-46 should be telling him something.

Shorten’s numbers are 42-41, down from 47-39. He was 51-30 in November, but most of the time since he has been about evens.

In the preferred prime minister stakes, Shorten leads 47-40.

The LNP support comes from the old, men, NSW and WA. Strangely Labor slipped in NSW from 58-42 to 46-54, well beyond the nominated margin for error of 4.6%. The numbers for the state break-up are small and one or both may be rogue results.

Overall, though, one might say that the voters are telling Abbott and Hockey that they do not in fact have a mandate for much of what they are attempting to do.

I’ll leave you with this Tandberg from a few months ago:


Lost in a mid-winter Canberra fog

Laura Tingle’s Friday AFR column ends with:

The despair in Coalition ranks is extraordinary. As thick as a mid-winter Canberra fog.

At the beginning:

“What on earth does the government think it is doing?” was the mystified question du jour in Parliament House. You might expect it from business executives who don’t have time to focus day to day on politics. It’s just a little more alarming coming from government backbenchers and even ministers’ staff.

The latest kerfuffle is over the use or non-use of the term “occupied” to refer to East Jerusalem and occupied West Bank territories. Apparently the term “disputed” preferred by Israel has been used. Rural Liberals are seething over Attorney-General George Brandis’s remarks about East Jerusalem, accusing him of “intellectual arrogance”.

They have very real concerns over live cattle exports. In Jedda, 57 Arab foreign ministers condemned the Federal Government’s decision not to use the term “occupied” when referring to east Jerusalem.

Their statement, issued in Jeddah, also calls on member states to “take necessary measures” in response.

The declaration was made as the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sought to assure ambassadors from many of those countries that Australia’s position hasn’t changed.

It’s not clear if her efforts will have the desired effect.

Tingle says that Bishop apologised. No-one seems to know whether there has been a considered change in position, or whether it was a Brandis stuff-up. Bishop claimed on Insiders that there had been no change in position, claiming that practice is to use “East Jerusalem”, “West Bank” or “occupied territories”, but not in combination. She claims that they were verballed by Lee Rhiannon. Nevertheless they seem to have gotten themselves into a twist.

Beyond the East Jerusalem dispute Tingle says:

the government is under deadly attack from those communists at the Australian Medical Association. Its new president, associate professor Brian Owler, wrote this week the health measures in the budget “add up to bad health policy”.

“The health of Australians is too important for healthcare to be an ideological toy,” he said.

“The AMA is supportive of some co-payments, but not the one proposed by the government.”

This is the AMA leading the fight against a co-payment, an organisation that fought Medicare for decades.

Then business is reconsidering their relations with government finding Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen “are open to talking and that there are some Labor policies that are actually more pro-business than those of the government.”

Then there are all the welfare bludgers, the people Joe Hockey refers to as parasitic “leaners”. Tingle continues:

Liberal MPs report the outrage of aged voters who will lose their $800 seniors supplement.

But what is striking is that these voters aren’t angry about losing the $800 as much as they are about feeling they have been portrayed as welfare bludgers.

The feedback about an anger that is not going away is it is very different to what MPs have felt before because it isn’t just about hip pockets but a sense the budget has broken something at a community level, particularly universal healthcare and access to education.

What causes despair on the Coalition backbench is that the senior ranks of the government don’t seem to recognise that something has been genuinely broken that the Coalition team will never be able to get back. That an electorate that never quite got a handle on Tony Abbott has one it will now never let go.

You will recall back in May the fearsome grilling Abbott suffered from ABC talkback radio callers who accused him of lying, fearmongering and endangering the health of pensioners. Photographers can be cruel. This was the occasion of Abbott’s famous wink, but take a look at this shot by Penny Stephens:


This post can serve open thread on politics.