October 19 A
little more on Marky Mark
I've now finished the diaries. The last part of the book, post-election, has
a different style. One humorous passage describes dinner with Tom "Schieffer
US Ambassador to Australia:
The Ambassador dropped three clangers:
He reckons that Bush would have beaten
Clinton in 2000 if Clinton had been allowed to run for a third term. (Were
we supposed to laugh?)
He reckons that Bush would have been
okay if he had lost in 2000, and got on with things in a carefree way,
whereas 'Al Gore has been destroyed by this defeat. His life is a wreck.'
(How would he know?)
He acknowledges that Bush comes across
poorly on television but reckons, 'He is absolutely brilliant in small
groups; his ability to master detail is amazing'. (Did someone mention a
But for someone who can't stand spivs, Latho greatly admires Dick Morris,
whose main claim to fame is his self-alleged responsibility for Bill Clinton's
electoral successes. (More likely, Ross Perot (under preferential voting Bush
Snr would probably have won in 1992), the recession and Clinton himself had more
to do with them.) [Update: a reader corrects
me on the Perot part.] This is related to Latho's fondness for gimmicks like
"The Third Way" and "triangulation", the latter being, as
far as I can tell, a fancy way of saying left of centre politicians must avoid
coming across as captured, bleeding-heart lefties, and it doesn't hurt them to
say something interesting and a little complex from time to time.
Latham's Werriwa prowess
On the trivial side, Latham kids himself about his electoral success in his
own seat. Of 1996, the Lad writes:
Some of the seats lost were similar to mine
in socioeconomic profile, such as Lindsay in outer Western Sydney with a 12
per cent swing against Labor. So I was happy to retain Werriwa with a margin
of 6.2 per cent. My hard work had paid off.
Latho's correct about the socioeconomic similarities: the outer parts of his
seat border with the outer suburban terrible trio of Macarthur,
which swung by 12, 11 and 12 percent respectively. But to see heroism in his own
performance requires calculating the swing from the 1994 byelection result that
saw him enter the house, rather than from the 1993 election (as the other three
are). The 1993-96 Werriwa
swing was 10 percent, slightly better than the three outers. On the other hand,
Werriwa's two other neighbours, Fowler
only went by only 4 and 5 percent respectively. Werriwa also shares
characteristic with those two; you could say it is a half-way house
between/combination of outer suburban four-wheel drive land, and low-income,
traditional Labor voting western Sydney.
Two points to this: local members like to overestimate their personal
contribution to their seat's margin, and (once again) the idea that "blue
collar voters"/"Howard's battlers" provided the backbone of
Howard's win is nonsense. It was the wealthier, self-employed "aspirationals".
Hughes, for example, - just a stone's throw from Sylvania Waters - drips with
October 17 Ridgy
A late starter, I'm now four-fifths through. Quick comments:
Everyone says ignore the rubbish and address his serious points, so I'll
start with the big one: there's plenty of dills, deadwood, factional hackery
and political timidity in them there Labor ranks. As the Lad might say:
Hooley Dooley, I never would have guessed. Peter Walsh lamented same in his Confessions
of a Failed Finance Minister over a decade ago, which stretched back to
the Whitlam era. But let's concede Latham has a point (which probably
applies to all state Labor governments and the current Coalition federal
On less substantial issues (ie 90% of the book)
His assertions that he was relatively sparse leaker/backgrounder, more
willing than most colleagues to put his name to his public interventions
("like an Australian male"), do have credibility.
He hates Beazley, but makes a couple of perceptive points: (1) Bomber is
at his worst discussing economics, at his best drawing on an ethical well.
(2) Contrary to received wisdom, his prolixity is probably part of what
punters like about him.
A diary is of course a lazy format, as the author doesn't have to bother
with stringing themes together or any sort of narrative or even extracting
clunky sentences. But these diaries are highly readable. Much of the
colloquialism seems forced to me, as it tended to be in person (on the box).
Some seems deliberately and consciously Keatingesque, eg about "the
There is evidence of retrospective rewriting.
Everyone in the ALP apart from our hero is either treacherous or stupid.
His one or two mates aren't exactly policy wonks, but they share his puerile
sense of humour.
Only two Australian journalists/commentators are worth feeding, and they
happen to be the two who only say nice things about our man. (Alan Ramsey
and Michael Duffy.) Anyone who criticises him at any level, even tactical,
has an agenda of some kind or other. (Of course, paranoid people can
Every 6 months Latham rediscovers how two-faced Matt Price is. Matt must
be pretty charming to suck him back in repeatedly.
For someone highly intelligent, Latham is an emotional toddler in what
he expects his readers to buy into. It was the same in the recent round of
interviews. There must be a medical term for where he positions his self in
the universe and his total inability to either understand that it doesn't
all revolve around him or to take responsibility for anything. As a
layperson, I'll stick with psychopath for now.
That's all for the time being.
More on above the line senate voting
Meaty discussion includes several heavy-hitters at Pollbludger.
Pretty detailed stuff. (Insofar as I understand it all, I'm with Simon and Antony.)
October 13 Antony
Green on above the line voting
In case you missed it, here
October 12 South
Australia: Kerin challenged
Some poor South Australian schmuck
wants to be opposition leader. What sort of person fights for the honour of
presiding over possibly the biggest Liberal loss (or the largest Labor win) in South
Australia's history? Anyone who doubts a thumping Labor victory in March 2006
(with little anyone can do about it) hasn't been watching state elections
recently. Victoria's Robert Doyle is similarly masochistic in hanging on,
determined to make it two in a row. But the NSW Liberal leader Peter Debnam has
a good chance in 2007, and Queensland's Larry Springborg a fair one.
October 11 Newspoll
I have a dream: that political journalists
interpret Newspoll via their own noggins, rather than regurgitating whatever Dennis
Shanahan reckons is important. And what Dennis means by the following is
first anniversary of the election, the ALP's primary support is the same as when
Labor had its worst primary vote in 98 years and lost nine seats.
Labor lost a net three seats in 2004.
My other dream is that Newspoll gets their
preference distribution together.
October 10 Latham
sighting: depleting social capital
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was playing with his
son on a beach on the Illawarra coast, near Wollongong. A half hour drive from
Campbelltown, it's a popular spot with western Sydneysiders. Another boy is on the beach, and he kicks
friend's son's ball into the ocean and ball is swept away, never to be seen
again. Friend had been subliminally aware that second boy's parents had been sitting on the grass
watching, and was a little peeved that they didn't do what was the socially done
thing - make some acknowledgement of what had just happened, say something,
apologise, offer to buy another ball (which he of course would have refused) etc. Just
do something, one of the myriad of reflexive rituals that glue
communities everywhere. He looks towards them, and woman is looking elsewhere,
possibly actually oblivious to the scene - maybe not - but hubby has certainly
witnessed it and is almost belligerent, half-heartedly looking away but also
with an attitude that says: "who gives a shit about you and your son and
his stupid ball, arsehole?"
The couple on the grass were, as you've guessed, Mr and Mrs Latham. Not
really consistent with all that stuff about community-mindedness you couldn't
shut the Lad up about for twelve months. He's a multi-layered fellow, to be sure.
Select Committee on Electoral Matters
As you know, Senator Abetz's proposed changes to the Australian Electoral
Act arise from the JSCEM, the Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2004 Federal
Election and Matters Related Thereto (
here). I've been reading some of the public hearings (here)
which are often enlightening and even interesting if you're that way inclined.
the PDF from 8 August 2005, which includes evidence from Labor National
Secretary Tim Gartrell. Panelists include two of the Liberals' higher profiles,
George" Brandis and Sophie Panopoulos. Gartrell is complaining of
government spending on IR advertisements and Panopoulos is accusing him of
hypocrisy in remaining silent on Victorian ALP government's ads, on the same
topic, in Albury/Wodonga's Border Mail.
PANOPOULOS—Would you not criticise
the Victorian Labor government more for using funds on an issue over which they
have ceded the jurisdiction?
Gartrell—Firstly, I would say that
one ad in the Border Mail does not add up to the $100 million that will
possibly be spent by the government on this debate—unless I have some really
skewed understanding of the cost of putting an ad in the Border Mail, a
paper which has created some very good journalists and even a former national
secretary to the Labor Party.
PANOPOULOS—I take your point; you
have answered the question.
Gartrell—You took a while to get to
the point yourself.
PANOPOULOS—I have to say that you are
very consistent with other senior members of the
Labor Party in ridiculing country newspapers and in ridiculing people that live
in non-metropolitan areas. You may not think—
Gartrell—I just said that the Border
Mail produces incredible journalists. What are you talking about?
BRANDIS—That is because the Labor
Party does not like country people.
And so on. Well, I said it was often enlightening.
Closing the rolls
Anyway, one of the government's proposed changes is in closing of the rolls
when the writs are issued. There is some confusion over the issue, and even Mike
Steketee was less than clear on this the other day:
[proposed change] would close the electoral roll on the day writs are issued for
an election. Last year this was two days after Howard announced the election,
whereas now the rolls stay open for seven days after the writs are issued. The
change would prevent potentially several hundred thousand people from voting.
What he meant was this. The electoral rolls currently stay open for seven
days after the writs are issued. During this time people can get on the roll or
change their details. Last year the writs were not issued until two days after
the election date was announced, which was unusual, as the rule in recent
years has been for the writs to be issued on the same day. So last year people
had nine days (seven working days) from the day the election was called to get
on the roll or change their details. The government now wants (well, it always
has, but hasn't had the Senate numbers) to close the rolls the day the writs are
issued, which is the day the election is announced.
There's also a bit of misunderstanding of the pre-1984 situation. It is true
that before then the rolls were closed on the same day the writs were issued.
However, with the exception of the 1983 election, the writs were not issued on
the day the election was called, there was always a decent gap, generally longer
than a week, for changes to be made to the electoral roll. Like Howard's two day delay last year,
(I'm open to being corrected on all this.)
There's a new Commonwealth Electoral Commissioner in town, who professes
sanguinity about these proposed changes, but (and I'm open to persuasion on this
too) there seems no doubt that the new laws are designed for party political
[Update: Antony Green elaborates:
"On the close of rolls, the government tends to announce the election up to two or three days ahead of the issue of the writs. The main reason for this is it usually takes a day or two to arrange for the State Governors to sign the Senate writs. But the writ is always issued on the Monday five weeks out from polling day, the minimum 33 days of the campaign. There are all sorts of legal issues that click over on the status of MPs and Ministers once the writ is issued, so government always issue the writ as late as possible, whenever they announce the election. Since the 1990 the election has always been announced a day or two earlier, but the writs were always issued on the Monday.
"Prior to 1990, the elections tended to be announced in Parliament, and it may have been some time before the writ was issued. In the usual way that the Executive has usurped the traditional roll of Parliament, this has not occurred since 1987. Of course, 1983 was also an odd one out, being a snap double dissolution. Note that with the recent New Zealand election, the date was announced 10 weeks out in a statement to Parliament, but the formal writ was only issued for the minimal election campaign about six weeks later."]
Finally, in an edited transcript of Senator Abetz's Sydney Institute talk he
27,000 voters who cast provisional votes at the 2004 federal election - and had
their votes accepted into the count - were subsequently unable to be put on the
electoral roll because they failed to qualify. There are nine seats in the House
of Representatives held by a margin of less than 1 per cent."
This does sound alarming, and I'm trying to work out what he's on about, but
in the meantime I'm sceptical. For one thing, if any votes
are discovered that shouldn't have been cast, and that, in theory (assuming they
all voted this way or that), could have changed the result in an electorate,
then the Electoral Act mandates a supplementary election in that seat. This has
never happened. If anyone can tell me what Abetz is referring to I'd appreciate it.
This is getting convoluted, so I'll stop for now.
Above the line: credit where due
However, credit where due:
the government's proposed changes to the Senate voting - the voter allocating preferences above the
line - are a jolly good idea. For a refresher on why, see my PDF paper
for the Democratic Audit. (Last par suggests something along the lines of
what is proposed.) Optional preferential - not having to number every
square - would have been better, but the Coalition believes (wrongly in my
opinion, because of high Green support) that OPV still benefits the ALP.
[Update: Antony Green has convinced me that I hadn't really thought
this one through. This solution, with CPV, is almost the equivalent of going
back to pre-ticket days, pre 1984, and is likely to see a jump in informal
voting. Up-update: others (eg Simon
Jackman) have helped convince me further - it will be dreadful. I hadn't
anticipated the large numbers above the line (plus was possibly trying to find
something nice to say about this government's approach to electoral matters).
But with OPV it would be ok, wouldn't it?]
October 8 Poll
He's gone all techno. Watching
October 6 More
to Electoral Laws
Excellent piece by Mike Steketee in the
Oz on electoral law changes and how both sides can't
help but play
politics with them. (Pity he includes the furphy about "the
Liberals progressively increasing their vote among traditional Labor
Steketee hints at a reason the Coalition is rather distrustful of the
Australian Electoral Commission and election management bodies in general.
All else being equal, right of centre parties tend to see their electoral
interests served by having as few people voting as possible, while left of
centre parties reckon the more registering a vote the better. The
reasoning is that young/ poor/ underclass/ disaffected etc people are more likely to
drop off with tighter restrictions, and/or less state proactivity in
vote-gathering, and these are more likely, in the Australian
context, to vote (after preferences) ALP.
The AEC, meanwhile, sees part of their role in society as getting as many people
on the electoral register (of those who are entitled to be) as possible and
making voting convenient. They think enrolment drives etc are pretty good
stuff, for the health of democracy and so on. So in a general sense they share
some aims with the ALP (of course in some specifics, eg getting postal votes to
farmers, the two would have different interests), and this helps explain the current government's antipathy towards the
AEC. (Disclosure: I think the AEC helps fund my
PhD research (not sure really); in any event, I have little to do with them
and these views are mine and not
Australian Election Study: young voters
Mike reports Senator Eric Abetz telling the Sydney Institute the other
night that more
young people voted Liberal than Labor at last year's election. Abetz was presumably
using a portion of the 2004 Australian Election Study which got a media run several weeks ago.
AES is a rather detailed survey
asking how and why people voted (plus various socio-economic demographics),
respondents in the days after a federal election and mailed in. Below is table
of 18-24 age cohort that's been widely quoted, which shows Liberal 42.5
percent and Labor on 32.3. At first blush Abetz is
However, some points
The sample size for this subset is 127, which is pretty bloody small,
(about a ten percent error margin).
There's no weighting (as far as I know).
These numbers include those who didn't vote. Extracting the non-voters
gives the following:
As you might expect with young people, the Green vote is very large;
it actually puts the total left-of centre vote at over 50%. At the last
election 80% of Green preferences went to Labor (AES only gets primary
votes), and a reasonable estimate
from the above numbers of a two party preferred comes to about 50
This AES, as with most in the past, in totality overstates the
winner's lead. The whole sample (all age-groups), extracting the non-voters, gives the
Coalition 50.4 percent of the primary vote
(they actually got 46.7) to Labor's 36.9.
(Labor got 37.6). Calculating two party
preferred for the whole sample gives you 54.4 to
45.6, compared with the true election result of
52.7 to 47.3
Using this discrepancy to adjust the 18-24 two party preferred gives about 52
to 48 in Labor's favour. That is, according to
these numbers, if everyone in Australia had voted as 18-24 year olds did last
would now (probably) have a Labor government.
But the main point is the first one: a sample size of 127 is too small to
make much sense of.
October 5 Abolish
Crikey's newsletter yesterday noted that Steve
Lewis was misinformed about the 1988 referendum including fixed terms and Glenn
Milne's supposed compromise solution (the "hybrid model") is just
the same old same old: minimum of three maximum of four years, ie what the PM's
in favour of. As the national broadsheet seems incapable of non-partisan analysis
of the topic, I've reproduced the two crikey items below, by Charles Richardson
and Malcolm Mackerras.
14. Will Beazley sell out again?
Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson writes:
Tonight Eric Abetz will present his manifesto on electoral reform in a speech to the Sydney Institute (excerpted here). The future of most of his plans, good or bad, will depend only on whether they have enough support in the newly-fractious government parties to get them through the Senate.
The founders, however, did remember to put three-year terms in the constitution, so any move to four years would require a referendum. Bob Hawke attempted one in 1988 and was defeated by a margin of two to one. John Howard, however, is being encouraged to try again, notably by Costello cheerleader Glen Milne in yesterday's Australian, who in turn draws on a 2000 research paper by Scott Bennett of the parliamentary library.
A few years earlier, in his book Winning and Losing: Australian National Elections (MUP, 1996), Bennett seemed confused about the 1988 referendum, saying (p. 73) that it "included a fixed parliamentary term question." That was probably just a slip of the pen, but it was repeated last Friday by Steve Lewis: "the referendum failed because it included fixed terms." No, it didn't: Hawke's proposal was for fully-flexible four-year terms.
Milne, citing Bennett, is now pushing "a hybrid model. This would see the term of the Lower House set with the first three years fixed, and with a four-year maximum." But that's just what John Howard has already proposed, as Milne points out: "[Howard] is in favour of four-year terms. But only if the prime minister has the flexibility to call an election in the fourth year."
Apparently without realising that this puts paid to the idea that Bennett's proposal is some sort of "middle way," Milne then says "Labor is also in favour of four-year lower house terms – but wants those terms fixed. There is not much difference between the parties here." He can't blame Bennett for the stupidity of that remark; it's a Milne original.
Governments almost never want to cut their term short by more than a year; flexibility in the last year is all they need. The difference between that and fixed terms isn't a side issue, it's the whole issue.
17. Tony Smith puts one over on Lewis and the Oz
Leading psephologist and academic Malcolm Mackerras writes:
In yesterday's Crikey Christian Kerr made this comment under the heading "Spinning, leaking and the debate on four year terms": "Steve Lewis seemed well across the detail of reports last week, going by his report in Friday's Australian."
Maybe, but one error in the Lewis article struck me: "Labor tried in 1988 to increase parliamentary terms but the referendum failed because it included fixed terms and changes to the Senate."
It is true that the 1988 proposal included changes to the Senate, but it is not true that it included fixed terms. So why did Lewis insert this error? My theory is that Tony Smith (who chairs the powerful joint standing committee on electoral matters) briefed Steve Lewis. In his desire to sell the Liberal Party's preferred position Smith put one over Lewis.
Liberal Party propaganda has it that the inclusion of a fixed term reduces the chance of voter acceptance. Consequently they are keen to sell the idea that the 1988 proposal failed "because it included fixed terms." Quite false. It would be more accurate to say it failed because it did NOT include a fixed term.
So my question to Steve Lewis is a simple one: "Why did you fall for that trick?" If Lewis had rung me I could have told him the real reasons why the 1988 proposal failed so dismally.
Quite so. Fixed terms might scare pollies but
why would the public object? And on Australian Constitutional
referendums generally, here
here and here
are me from a few years ago. Australia is one of the few countries in the world
silly enough to have this device built in to their constitution, and that last
piece calls, a little tongue in cheek, for a referendum to get rid of the bloody
thing altogether. It'll never happen, of course, and would fail if it did.
A loopy suggestion
The referendum is the in the constitution, but
who gets to vote is in the hands of parliament (federal and state ones). They
could conspire to once and once only allow to vote only people who promise to
support the 'yes' case (perhaps a hand-picked dozen or so), get the referendum
change through, and then change the franchise back afterwards. Yes,
imagine the outcry, but how else to get rid of this turkey, Section 128
of the Australian Constitution?
October 3 Four
Mr Milne today in
Oz quotes this
Parliament House Library Research Paper on prospects of a four year term
referendum, with reference to the 1988 experience. The bits Glenn uses deal with
aspects of the referendum question (such as simultaneous election etc) which supposedly
made things difficult for voters and led them to vote 'no'.
Rights & Freedoms
I don't believe the content of the question had much to do with the
result at all. It was part of a set of four put by the Hawke government in
1988, on hugely unrelated topics, shown in the table at left in
ascending order of national 'yes' vote.
Support levels for all four proposals were at a similar (dismal) level, in the 30s.
Now, unless you believe each was roughly of equal obnoxiousness to the common
sense of the average Aussie,
the logical conclusion is that consideration of the question ran a poor second
to other factors. Chief among these was, of course, the opposition of the Coalition (the federal Coalition
has never, when in opposition, supported a Labor-sponsored referendum),
and others would include a heap of other electoral intangibles, such as the (lack of) popularity of
the Hawke government at the time. Yes, the variance that exists indicates some voter
discretion, but not enough to make the difference between success and failure.
Now, those who see our PM as a conviction politician! will expect him
to press on with this reform, because he knows it's right for the nation etc, but
sensible heads will anticipate his natural timidity leading him to cut and run.
Yes, the opposition would probably support it, but that would just muddy
the campaign waters.
On the other hand, Howard might enjoy lumping his successor with a
tricky obstacle, so watch
out for that bit of engineering. But if Howard is still PM at the next
election, we'll get no accompanying referendum on anything, don't you worry
about that. Accentuating the positive ain't his strong suit.
the vault: states' relative support.
Been re-visiting this
page from several years ago. Immediate responses: did I really do all that?
(it's messy and hard going); and I must have had time on my hands.
The graphs were constructed before the last election, but some of the points
remain, such as that unpopular state governments can be disastrous for federal
counterparts of same party colour. But it is a bit of a slog, so enter at own
September 30 A
referendum on four year terms
"Likely", according to the
Oz. Is it my imagination, or does the PM suggest these things about once a
year before sending them nowhere? It's called making contact with (gullible)
parts of your support base. [Update: it was gone
Fixed three (or four) year terms would be a better idea (for everyone in the
country except whoever's in government at the time), but Howard's not in
On "reforms" that can be enacted in parliament, closing the rolls the
day an election is called and tightening eligibility requirements are nothing
but partisan vote-maximising exercises and would probably be highly effective.
People recently turned 18 and those who move a lot would be especially hit and,
despite nonsense you might have read, they still predominately vote left of
centre (which means they vote Labor after preferences). Voluntary voting, it is widely believed, would favour the Coalition, but
in Australia's electoral architecture that ain't necessarily so. Consider the
typical outer suburban swinger- self-employed young families etc - who usually
vote Liberal but occasionally Labor. The seats they live in usually largely
decide elections. Would they necessarily vote, or might they be more likely than
the wage/salary earner to be too busy on a Saturday?
See also the always worth reading Malcolm Mackerras at Crikey.
Napalm in the Morning: biographer and subject
a weird Michael Duffy SMH analysis/glorification
of his former biographical subject's Diaries.
Duffy buys into a corner of Mark's World that curiously few commentators
have pulled the diarist up on: the delusion that leaving the Labor
leadership in January this year was his idea, that he'd had enough of the
hopeless, undeserving rabble and so, for once in his life, was putting himself
and his family first. Writes Michael:
remains the most extraordinary thing about Latham that he voluntarily walked
away from the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, it is one of the
most unusual actions ever by any Australian politician.
("No no Mark, don't go!", they cried. "I must", replied
Folk back on Planet Earth will recall nothing "voluntary" about
the whole dismal episode. Calls for Latho's head were coming left, right and
centre, caucus support had crumbled and his resignation, which had been all but
inevitable, simply put everyone out of their misery.
The columnist also deeply interprets the Lad's private video-watching
habits, seeing in them a reflection of his view of his party, rather than just
his general mindset or perhaps even simple entertainment. The ALP as a fat
Marlon Brando, scoffing sweet and sour in Chinatown? An ok idea, but doesn't
really go anywhere.
Let's face it, Apocalypse Now has long been a favourite of yobby
Aussie blokes of a certain age-group. Mark's probably especially keen on the
Robert Duvall bits, and indeed there was a report several years ago of the
larrikin leaving a funny and well judged message to a Canberra Vietnamese
restaurant, something like "Charlie can't surf, but he sure can cook."
September 21 Tim
Colebatch on what doesn't swing elections, ...
... in The
Age, is worth a read. Oppositions bearing tax-cuts not necessarily
winning isn't new of course, otherwise practically every Australian
federal poll in the last three decades would have seen a change of
government. (1987 and 1993 particularly spring to mind.) And the idea some are
putting around that Latham should have promised radical tax-cuts last year is
On "race", it's probably one of those things that you can only do
really effectively from incumbency. Howard played the card dismally in his first
opposition leadership stint (1988), Peacock had a go with the MFP in 1990. But
it worked in 2001 because Howard was PM, and so possessed legitimacy. Imagine an opposition leader
behaving as Howard did during that campaign: they'd be viewed as desperate, a
little grubby and perhaps a little unhinged. OK, so the first two applied
anyway, but it's difficult to fit up someone who's been in power for five years as
unhinged/unworthy/too much of a risk. (This difference was a problem
with Lathamites who thought callisthenics the ticket to the Lodge.)
On proportional representation: it has its pluses and minuses. Personally, I
would love to see it in the Australian House of Representatives, but
opponents say it produces unstable government. However, it might also induce our major
parties to grow up a little: they've long been the most partisan in the
democratic world, maybe it's time to give those childish games away.
September 20 Marky
This is the guy who always thought Labor would have won in 1998 and/or
2001 if he, rather than the ticker-deficient flip-flopper, had been leader. But with
2004 the worst result since 1996, his alleged strategic nous and whole political
raison d'être are absolutely nullified. No wonder he
September 19 Opposition
leaders' satisfaction ratings
Here's Saturday's Fin Review
Lies and Statistics (with a subbing error fixed: a
number returned to negative status).
more on the subject, in technicolour. See for example Mark Latham's record high
approval ratings, moderating before the election and then sinking afterwards.
September 16 Boofhead
Diaries that read like they were written for public consumption are pretty
sus. (Bob Carr's was like that.) Or maybe Latho's inner life really is as thin
and cliched as his public persona. Is that a psychopath?
This man is possibly the only remaining Latham devotee in the country.
Looking forward to tomorrow's column. [Update: there wasn't one.]
Centrebet's odds for Labour have blown out to a distressing $2.10 against
Nationals $1.65. I still reckon Clark will probably form
government. If she does, it should put paid to those silly articles about
betting punters always getting it right.
September 15 Fush'n
With two days to go, certain online agency has
both Nationals leader Don Brash and Labour leader Helen Clark on $1.85 to be next
PM (nice profit margin), the longest odds for Labour since books opened. This
disappoints for two reasons:
The odds I got for a Labour win weren't as good as that
The main reason for betting behaviour change
is a Nielsen
poll that has the Nationals six points ahead. Makes me nervous.
September 13 Herr
Been waiting for a certain online agency to open books on German
election, but still waiting. Like most, I expect Gerhard Schroeder and his
SDP/Green government to go down. The Christian Democrats should form
government with others, but no 'grand coalition'. [Update: wrong call.] The Mackerras law
"they who win the unwinnable election hit the wall the next time"
doesn't always work, but should in this case.
in the Oz again says 51 to 49.
Kim's belly-aching on everything under the sun over the
last couple of weeks might be reflected in his improved satisfaction rating
(which, as I've said before, has little to do with electability). Speaking of
September 12 Approval
Currently composing for next week's 'Lies and Statistics' column in
the AFR, on, for want of better term, over-rated opposition leaders'
approval/satisfaction ratings. Beazley's, it is often pointed out, have been
crook lately. I've made a quick graph of Newspoll net approval/satisfaction ratings
(satisfaction minus dissatisfaction) for both PM and opposition leader from Howard's election in March 1996 to
last fortnight's Newspoll. (Another one due tomorrow.) Below is a shrunken version; click it or here
for full enchilada.
September 7 Foreman
It is a curious thing: there appears to be zero average correlation
(or perhaps even a negative one) between the strength of people's self-proclaimed religiosity
and their actual exhibiting of what we might think of as"Christian values". You know,
things like empathy with fellow humans, concern for people in distress,
acceptance of others' foibles ...
Anyway, Mr Abbott obviously remains the best press
gallery-handler in the business. In the Tele, Malcolm
Farr explains that this was really out of character for the sensitive Tony,
and perhaps Brogden even asked for it by mentioning that adoption at a
function last year. Wrote Malcolm, "[i]t was not until earlier this year
that Abbott discovered he had not fathered a boy, a loss almost as deep as that
felt after the death of a child." Oh please. Matt
Price was also rather understanding, as was - no surprises - Gerard
From my point of view it just makes a Nelson prime ministership a smidgen
more likely - good for my nine to one bet.
25 Nelson and his donkeys
The donkeys are in the Liberal partyroom,
to whom the good doctor plays. Brendan's chances of becoming leader just get
better and better. Poor Peter: must try