The federal LNP certainly seized upon Longman as its best chance on Super Saturday.
Cheered on by initially favourable opinion polls, Prime Minister Turnbull persisted with his enthusiasm for the LNP’s Tax Packages. Most of the tax redistribution favours privileged income earners, large corporations and banking institutions.
Just a week out from Super Saturday, Brisbane’s Sunday Mail was confident enough to claim victory for the LNP in Longman. ReachTel Polling results from 19 July 2018 were offered without qualifications about the high error rate in automated telephone polling.
Under the banner of Longman Backs Big Trev, the Sunday Mail (22 July 2018) overstated the LNP’s primary vote by 7.95 per cent at 37.9 per cent. This was translated into a two-party result of 51 per cent for Trevor Rutherberg based on assumptions of a disciplined allocation of preferences from One Nation (ONP) and other minor parties.
The close result in the ReachTEL Polling invited great caution from responsible voters in Longman.
Although Susan Lamb ultimately won the seat with a 55-45 per cent margin after preferences, not one of the voters in the Sunday Mail’s colourful photo mosaic of six constituents really supported Labor.
The Sunday Mail’s editorial used the anticipated close result from the literal interpretation of ReachTEL Polling to warn readers about the dangers of a Labor victory in Longman:
Voters have a golden opportunity to reject the Socialist policies of Shorten and put him on notice that his comfortable relationship with sluggish unions is not what we expect in 21st century Australia.
The official line from the federal LNP was less clear-cut. Invoking the LNP’s underdog status, the federal LNP noted that conservatives in government had not clawed back a federal Labor seat at a by-election since two irregular victories in Kalgoorlie and Maranoa in 1920-21 in the 8th Parliament (1919-22):
Buoyed by sensational reporting of ReachTEL Polling, the federal LNP was still confident that it had a good chance in Longman on 28 July 2018. There was a nostalgia for conservative victories in by-elections in Kalgoorlie and Maranoa almost a century ago.
The federal LNP’s Tax Plans to restructure personal and corporate taxation rates carried the possibility of a repeat performance in Longman to excite the electorate with a real paradigm change to a more aspirational Australian society.
Failed LNP Taxation Paradigms in Longman
Longman voters were simply not inspired by the federal LNP’s plans to restructure personal and corporate taxes in the interests of privileged sectors of society.
The initial personal tax changes in Phase 1 (2018-22) carried a manipulative short-term sweetener for the most naïve aspirational voters.
For taxable incomes of $50,000 to $90,000 range, the LNP’s tax package offers an immediate $530 per annum or $10.20 a week in tax relief. Short term tax relief was as low as $3.80 per week for income levels of $30,000 and $5.58 per week for taxable incomes of $40,000. The token levels of tax relief for Longman constituents are of course more than offset by the abolition of penalty rates from 1 July 2018.
It was clearly anticipated that more aspirational voters in Longman would not read the fine print of the Tax Plan which gave immediate tax relief for corporations over specific gains for short-term tax relief to wage-earners at all income levels.
The real injustices come years later in Phases 2 and 3 of the Tax Plan. Tax relief for taxable incomes below $80,000 were still in the $200-$540 per annum range after 2024-25. Only a tiny section of taxpayers in Longman will scoop $7,225 per annum after 2024-25. Less than 5 per cent of personal incomes in Longman makes a taxable income of $100,000, let alone $200,000.
For voters in Longman who were still not inspired by such token tax concessions, the second arm of the federal LNP’s election strategy in Longman was the anticipation of more substantial preference flows from the One Nation Candidate, Matthew Stephen. His vote was underestimated by 2.02 per cent in ReachTel Polling and reached 15.9 per cent on polling day.
The ONP preference votes in Longman could have been more decisive if the appeal of the LNP’s tax plan had worked.
However, a federal LNP primary vote of 29.7 per cent was too low to deliver the results anticipated in the ReachTEL Poll.
Apart from the Caboolture South Booth, all major booths recorded a two-party swing to Labor. In the Caboolture South Booth, Labor’s primary vote declined by 1.49 per cent. Here the federal LNP’s vote was a dismal 21.59 per cent. For some local reasons, there were gains by One Nation (+5.11 per cent), a high informal vote of 8 per cent and better than expected results by minor candidates including Liberal Democrats, Labour DLP, the Australian Country Party and an Independent Candidate. All minor candidates scored over 2 per cent and ONP managed 16.22 per cent.
Despite these anomalies, Caboolture South was one of Susan Lamb’s best results after preferences with a 61 to 39 per cent divide to Trevor Ruthenberg.
Across the Longman electorate, voters coped with a field of eleven candidates and achieved a lower informal vote (6.05 per cent) than at the 2016 federal election.The swing to Labor after preferences was remarkably consistent across Longman. The LNP hoped that voters in the Bayside Suburbs and Northern Greenbelt Areas of Longman would warm towards its Tax Packages. For the traditionally Labor-voting suburbs along the Transport Corridors from Caboolture to Dakabin, there was the possibility of a strong ONP vote.
Labor’s Engagement with Longman
The LNP’s Tax Packages offered immediate gains for businesses of all sizes. Even the most privileged families had to wait until 2024-25 for their promised tax rebate of $7,225 while median salary earners were left to cope with a rebate of $455-540 per annum.
There were no real concessions for retirees. The means test for part-pensions had already been tightened in 2017. Single pensioners with assets of $561,200 beyond the first home and $844,000 for couples receive no entitlement to part-pensions.
For infirm seniors, access to nursing homes required Lump Sum Payments of $250,000 to $550,000. With the approval of the Minister for Social Security, aged care providers can extend the Lump Sum Payment to $800,000.
In aged care facilities demanding a Lump Sum Payment of $550,000, the annual fee amounts to $32,780 plus the standard daily rate of $50.16 per day or $18308.40 per annum. The total amounts to $51,088. In aged care centres requiring a Lump Sum Payment of $800,000, the fees would increase to $65,984 per annum based on the 5.96 per cent levy of $47,680 on the cost of Lump Sum Payment.
Moving into a nursing home facility even for a few short months usually required the sale of a family home. This caused real problems if one partner wanted to continue to reside at home perhaps with access to aged care support services.
Few families could sustain payments to combine a continued homestay with the transition to an aged care facility for the more infirm partner unless resources were carefully tucked away years ago in a family trust or Caribbean tax haven.
Federal Labor’s commitment to improved public health services was undoubtedly well received even in more comfortably off parts of Bayside Longman. Bill Shorten provided the specifics on one of his campaign visits to Longman about the extension of chemotherapy services at Caboolture Hospital (25 May 2018).
The rising cost of private health insurance is an enduring burden. The federal government’s lack of supervision of irregular discounts to private hospitals for the installation of particular brands of pacemakers has received recent media attention (7.30 Report 3 July 2018). These healthcare anomalies come at the expense of policyholders and their funds.
Susan Lamb can now expect heroine status for her commitment to improved living standards and fair wages across Longman.
The current going rates for buying or renting houses in Narangba is available from the real estate sector (realestate.com.au):
For retirees and families with more assets, there is always the possibility of moving pleasant localities near Bribie Island with its bridge connection to the mainland. Median property prices have been documented by real estate providers.
The federal LNP’s campaign was misplaced appeal to small business entrepreneurs. However, most voters in the Longman electorate work for wages and are in some highly unionized sectors in health, education, public administration, manufacturing and construction.
Employment profile in the Moreton Bay Council (Including Petrie and Longman Electorates
Commitment to Top Hat Polities which widen the income divide should be a recipe for the defeat of all LNP members in the six federal seats between Longman and Forde on Brisbane’s Southside in 2019. Continued attention to campaign initiatives such as mobile displays and street theatre can repeat the gains made by Labor in Longman on Super Saturday against federal LNP in its current unholy alliance with the ONP and other far-right minor parties.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in advancing pragmatic public policies that are compatible with contemporary globalization.