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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Mayo by-election, then WA « Previous | |Next »
September 6, 2008

I expect that the Liberals will get a bit of a shock in the Mayo by election as both The Greens and Di Bell, an independent supported by Nick Xenophon, will poll more strongly than expected by either major party. Though the Liberals --Jamie Biggs, an ex-Howard staffer----- will hold onto the seat with preferences and postals, water (the state of the River Murray) will play an influential role in this by election. it will reduce their traditional margin.

My judgement is that the Greens, on preferences from the independent candidate Di Bell will push the Liberals to a very close contest, with the Liberals dropping their primary vote significantly. Di Bell is attracting around 17 per cent of the primary vote after campaigning almost exclusively on the issue of the plight of the river Murray and the lower lakes.

And Western Australia? Labor could well face defeat there. If so, that would send shock waves through to Canberra. At best the Carpenter Government is fighting for its survival. The ALP has a buffer of nine seats whilst a uniform swing of 3.6% would put the Liberals in power. By all accounts it may not be enough. Green preferences in the key marginal seats could determine the outcome. How could the ALP lose so many votes during an historic minerals boom against an opposition that was until recently dysfunctional?

It doesn't look good for Labor. There's been a big swing against them--- more than 6% in some seats, whilst statewide, the swing was 5.5%. Labor look to have lost 9-10 seats and its fate may be decided by a handful of independents and Nationals.he best scenario for the ALP is a hung Parliament.Labor appeared unlikely to be able to gain more than 27 seats in the 59-seat parliament, while the Liberals were likely to take 25 and the Nationals four, with two independents and another seat to be decided.

Update:7 September
The Liberals suffered a near 11 per cent swing on the primary vote in the Mayo by-election. On the two candidate preferred tally, Briggs (LIberal) led with 51.7 per cent of the vote to Vonow's (Green) 48.3 per cent. The preferences from Family First flowed back in sufficient numbers to ensure a victory for the Liberal Party. The Liberals are confident that margin would be enough for victory with 10,000 pre-poll votes to be counted this week. The real story is that a historically deep blue Liberal seat has now become pale blue. One that The Advertiser will ignore in favour of celebrating a Liberal victory.

In WA it looks as if the Labor government could only stay in power with the support of two independents or if they can get to 29 seats, if they win 2 of the doubtfuls. Another (more realistic) possibility is that West Australian Liberals can form government after some tough negotiations with the Nationals, that would to enable them to form a Liberal-National Coalition. This may look this: 24 Liberal +2 Liberal (Ind) Sue Walker and Liz Constable + 4 National

The significance of the WA election is that state Labor cannot blame the Liberals for their failure to govern competently since Labor is now in power in Canberra. We have wall-to-wall Labor. So state Labor will be seen for what it is ---bad government. A corrupt NSW Labor is the next linchpin to fall.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:22 PM | | Comments (20)


The Nationals are history in Mark Vaile's old seat of Lyne. Robert Oakeshott wins comfortably. The decline of the Nationals continues.

Antony Green's ABC site seems to indicate a pretty hung parliament.
Young Nathan Rees will probably looking on at these proceedings with not a little angst and a good thing if that's so, 'cos he's going to need all the time he can find, to avoid a similar fate.

the story in Mayo is that The Greens came so close. The political ground has shifted.

I saw bits of the insiders on ABC this morning. I was curious to see how the Sydney journalists would interpret the results.

They dismissed the high Green Vote as the work of crazies protest voters coming out of the woodwork because of a no show by the ALP; crazies obsessed with local issues. So the Greens were dismissed without needing to talk about the issues.

The River Murray is a local issue? That highlights their ignorance doesn't it. They---Brian Toohey, Annabel Crabbe + Malcolm Farr) had no understanding of the River Murray issue and no interest in it. They were more comfortable in bouncing off Brendon Nelson's empty comments. Of the three, Brian Toohey was the most analytical and he cut through the political spin more than the others. They showed little interest in undermining spin by the publicity machine.

Looking at Insiders I can see that political propaganda works well because we do not have an aggressively adversarial knowledgeable press that counters the way that News Ltd spins the falsehoods behind the image that is being created around issues by the party noise machines?

the other story is the demise of the Democrats. In Mayo they lost votes with no Labor candidate in a seat which they used to regularly attract over 10% (sometimes over 20%) of the vote.

The Greens must be chuffed. You'd expect them to do well in Mayo and Lyne without a Labor candidate, but they've done very well in WA as well. At this rate they'll soon be making up the numbers lost with the demise of the Nationals.

Over at Salon Glenn Greenwald writes:

The standard journalistic model of "balance" means that the TV journalist asks a few questions, lets the interviewee answer, and then moves on without commenting on or pointing out false claims, i.e., without exposing propaganda

The media are involved in the spin -boosting process works. They are part of the spin. The main reason why the spin thrives -- predominates -- in our democracy is that we don't have the sort of journalist class devoted to exposing it.

It looks to be a hung parliaiment. Chalpat Sonti at Fairfax's WA Today site says that:

With the two major parties running neck-and-neck, Independent member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler has emerged to hold the whip hand if a hung parliament materialises.Both Labor and the Liberals are set to fall just short of an absolute majority, giving the former Labor MP a key role.Mr Bowler, who was sacked from cabinet over his association with lobbyist Julian Grill, said he would vote with whatever party delivered for his electorate.

It's the Nationals who appear to be the powerbrokers. Both major parties need the Nationals for a coalition.

The Greens are doing very well inFreemantle.

the WA result wasn't a judgment on Kevin Rudd. This was a vote dictated by state issues, and it was a failure by state Labor.

Why isn't the minerals boom leading to improved public services? Why is only those in the minerals sector benefiting from the mining boom that is carrying the nation?

Paul Kelly argues that the vote in WA highlights the national dislike of the coast-to-coast dominance of the Labor Part and the disposition of the Australian voter for political balance.

I''m not so sure. It was mostly about politics in WA and state Labor: the outer suburbs of Perth were resentful about the lack of services (health, education law and order) whilst regional Australia was downright angry about being ignored.

It would seem that positioning the Nationals as an independent political force in WA is paying off.

The Nationals say that the money from the mining boom should be spent on infrastructure in the regions that are producing the wealth.They want the big ticket items in Perth cut back or delayed to help fund the investment in the regions.

On the other hand, the Liberals under Colin Barnett seem to be more pro-development and free market (less regulation for miners) and cutting taxes rather than investing in social infrastructure.

The most fascinating aspect of the WA election, at least for me, Gary, is that it shines the spotlight on the unpredictably non-utilitarian nature of our constitution. With Grylls in the driving seat, we could well see the burghers of metropolitan Perth funding some extensive and expensive rural projects as Labor and Liberal parties try to accommodate his demands and form a coalition government.

I think this is good (And I live in inner city Perth!) The debate about what is equitable resource allocation will be the better for it, I hope. Plus the whingeing from the western suburbs is delicious. ‘The bush’ has had a raw deal in WA and I for one have no problem with some resources being diverted towards regional infrastructure and community development. Any patriots out there who love singing ‘Watzing matilda’ at the rugby or whose lips quiver on ANZAC day who don’t agree with this are hypocrites - the bush is a pivotal part of this country’s history and its mythology. It will be good to see Rio Tinto and BHP coughing up a bit more on rural development.

So much for one vote one value – Jeremy Bentham will be rolling in his grave. Love it!

I see that the news is that both Carpenter and WA Opposition Leader Colin Barnett are both seeking to form government by joining forces with the Nationals. Currently, they are the kingmakers after provisional counting Saturday's state election resulted in a hung parliament.

The Nationals have made the royalties for regions plan the non-negotiable starting point for their support of either major party. Bot Barnett and Carpenter, would send Grylls written submissions on their proposals for country WA.

I'm basically working off the Four Corners Money Pit program. It was a shock. Nothing had been done by way of infrastructure, services or housing . What is the ALP doing with all the money?

So I am with the Nationals.

The latest judgement in WA is this projection: 28 ALP, 24 Lib, 4 Nat and 3 Ind, at least two of whom are prepared to support a Barnett Government. The ALP projection is heroic and closer to wish fulfillment. It remains, at best, a technical possibility. Two independents may support the ALP as they are ex-Labor.

More realistic is 24 Lib+2 Ind+ 4 Nat gives 30 and so government.

Nan is right about Kelly's argument. And I don't buy the 'it's the end of Rudd's hopes for federalism' theme either. Barnett would have to be a fool not to cooperate if it means negative funding consequences.

The possibility of an ALP/Nationals negotiation is an interesting one, if unlikely. The Nationals would likely gain more power with the ALP than just getting swallowed up by the Libs, as they usually do.

it is unlikely that the Nats will go with the ALP in WA ---too much history for them to overcome. Plus the Liberals will probably pip Labor after the final vote count is complete.They would retain their independence and identity more by supporting Labor.

What is right about Paul Kelly's argument is this bit:

The new toxic brew is more lethal than Labor anticipated, and offers fresh hope for the Liberal Party.It constitutes a sudden fusion in national politics. This is the combination of ineffective state ALP governments, the absence of any Liberal incumbent on which to cast blame, and the disposition of the Australian voter for political balance.
The voters are less forgiving of state Labor mistakes, less tolerant of the party's introspective culture and less fooled by its media spin. This message should resound loudly in NSW, where Labor's tribalism, scandal, vested interests and ideology offer an ugly picture of governance.

State Labor governments have to perform as well as spin and manage the media.

The Rann Govt in SA is already talking in terms of a 25% regional investment from the proceeds of the SA mining boom over the next decade. More media management and spin.

The vote counting in WA is very slow, very slow. The WA Electoral Commission is not doing a great job.

Of the six seats in doubt it appears that the Liberals are ahead in Morely, Wanneroo and Riverton, whilst the ALP is ahead in Forrestfield, Albany and Collie -Paterson. If the Liberals win the three seats then they have 24 seats

If the ALP wins these three seats it is would end up with 27--one short of the 28 it would need to form a minority government with the support of the two independents. So they need a deal with the Nationals to retain their grip on power. Alan Carpenter is finished no matter what happens.

Kim Beazely has an interesting op-ed on Fairfax's WA Today. He says that:

In practical terms, this means the Labor party or the Liberals need 26 seats - neither is there yet...What a two-party 30-plus seat number means is that key legislation, from the budget downwards, is massaged through a manageable two groups. That is in the state interest, it is also in the National Party's interest. The Nationals' demands are large but achievable, provided they are usually the only ones on the table that must be accommodated ...... Assuming that the ALP gets the 26 seats, an alliance with it is probably the Nationals' best shot at continuing the forward momentum, though this does fly in the face of history. The National Party cannot afford to stall at four or they will soon be two.

He adds that the Nationals will get what they want in terms of ministries and resources from either side. What they need is flexibility to continue their run. With the Liberals it will be the same old coalition. With Labor it will be an alliance only. There is much more flexibility in an alliance.

Does anybody know what the Nationals plan to do with their royalty for the regions? How do they plan to spend the money once they forge a power-sharing arrangement?

I have seen reference to expanding the Ord River irrigation scheme in the Kimberley ($200 million); extending the Dampier-to-Bunbury gas pipeline to Albany ($200 million; installing underground power lines in the Plibara ($300 million).

I have seen nothing about better education or health services in the regions. It's all about using the 25% of WA's mining and petroleum royalties for infrastructure in the regions.