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Tag Archives: Polls

For The Sake Of Unity Why Don’t You All Agree With Me?

A couple of months ago, I read an amusing post on Facebook which basically said that the Left should stop fighting among themselves and work together to defeat the Abbott Agenda. The writer then went on to say that Bill Shorten was hopeless and the Labor was gutless for not forcing a DD.

Presuming that by “DD” he meant Double Dissolution, I calmly pointed out that there was no way that Shorten could “force” a Double Dissolution and that it seems strange that a call for unity should be followed by an attack on the Labor leader.

To which he replied that it was people like me who just posted on Facebook who were the problem and that we needed to do something instead of just talking about it. I resisted the temptation to point out that he was also posting on Facebook, and decided that I’d do my bit for unity by ending the discussion there before he ended up telling me that I was a nazi who was trying to limit his free speech by disagreeing with him.

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone criticising any of our politicians. As far as Shorten is concerned, I think the jury is still out. As Leader of The Opposition, there’s always going to be a limit to what you can do. Some will argue that he should be making more of a fuss about this or that. Even when he’s said quite a lot about this or that, but it’s been buried on page 9 of the newspaper and not reported on the nightly news at all. Even when Labor is riding high in the polls.

Whether it’s fair or not, I think Shorten can expect to be criticised for whatever he does or doesn’t do over the next few months.

However, when people start to suggest that Labor is “gutless” for not forcing a Double Dissolution, I start to worry about the general public’s knowledge of our parliamentary system and the history of 1975.

I’ll start with the idea that Labor (with help from other parties in the Senate) could block supply. Let’s ignore the obvious hypocrisy of Labor blocking the Budget after their rhetoric when Fraser did it 1975 and argue that was a long time ago, so who cares? When it happened in 1975, it didn’t immediately force an election. Whitlam tried to tough it out, and it was only when Kerr dismissed Whitlam and appointed Fraser as caretaker PM that Fraser was able to go back to Parliament and dissolve both Houses. There is an argument that if Labor had acted quickly they could have gagged Fraser – they still had the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives – and moved a motion of confidence in Whitlam.

At the time, the Murdoch press was pushing for an election and supporting Fraser, arguing that these were “extraordinary circumstances”. Can you imagine the media today supporting a Labor blocking of supply? Or would it be blamed for a downturn in consumer confidence or jobs, the shutting down of shops, increased obesity and any droughts or flooding rains in the weeks after?

Even if supply had been blocked by the previous Senate, Abbott would have still had the option of waiting for the Senate that took control from today. Palmer’s PUPpets and the Independents would have no wish to go to an election any time soon. After all, they do have considerable bargaining power at the moment. Would they be prepared to risk it? Can you imagine Ricky Muir giving up his moment in the spotlight? Mm, wrong example…

But even assuming that the Senate did continue to refuse supply, that alone wouldn’t force Abbott to an election. In all likelihood, he’d just blame Labor for any problems and wait for someone else to blink. The idea that Labor or any combination of the minor parties could “force” the government to the polls is just wrong.

Frustrating the government’s legislative agenda to the extent that they choose to call an election, however, is a possibility. But given the government’s standing in the opinion polls it’s fairly unlikely at the moment.

As many of you already know, a double dissolution requires a trigger. A Bill must be rejected by the Senate, then after three months rejected again. Bills that are rejected can then be used as the basis for the double dissolution, and if they are rejected again after the subsequent election, the government can call a joint sitting of parliament and try to get them through that way. (This was how Whitlam succeeded in setting up Medibank and passing a number of other things which had been blocked, until after the 1974 Double Dissolution). While there may be others in the near future, at the moment, the only trigger that I’m aware of is the Clean Energy Bill.

Abbott would only be likely to call a double dissolution under two circumstances:

  1. If there were a number of Bills he wanted passed AND he thought he was a good chance of winning the election.
  2. If Turnbull looked like getting the numbers to oust him.

So, by all means, criticise Bill Shorten and the Labor Party for their policies, for their lack of cut-through, for their hairstyles, for their poor behaviour in Parliament (they’ve been thrown out a hundred times more often), or their factions.

But please don’t criticise them for not calling a double dissolution. It’s just not something that’s in their control.

Let’s ignore the polls for now.

Just in case you missed this, the latest Roy Morgan opinion poll puts Labor ahead 51.5% to 48.5% two party prefered.

Now, I know it could be argued that a poll this far out from the possible election is hardly worth commenting on. This seems to be the view of much of the mainstream media, because I certainly haven’t heard much about it. Last week we had the Nielsen poll putting Labor in front one day, but Newspoll the next day, supposedly affirming that voters hadn’t changed the election. A couple of feature writers went as far as suggesting that the Neilsen poll was an outlier.

To quote “Australia’s most read columnist”, He Who Must Not Be Named, (Boltemort)”:

Which polls? The Newspoll which has the Government 52 to 48 ahead of “Labor? Or the Essential Media poll which has it ahead by even more – 53 to 47?

Oh, let’s base this analysis on the one clear outlier with suspicious results particularly in Queensland – the only poll which has Labor ahead.”

Strangely though, there doesn’t seem to be seem to be much comment on the second “outlier”.  I certainly haven’t noticed anything about it in today’s “Herald-Sun”, but maybe I was too busy looking at their letters page, where I discovered this gem:

Image

In fact, the poll doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in any of the other papers I’ve read today. Neither have I heard it mentioned on the ABC.

Although, I did read that Malcolm Turnbull was giving the ABC a “lashing”:
Malcolm Turnbull accuses ABC of shocking error of judgment on spy story
Interesting that the Murdoch press who were say scathing about the need for any controls on the freedom of the press, now have no problem with the Communications Minister telling the ABC what they shouldn’t be publishing.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so little about the Morgan poll – it’s been deemed an operational matter and therefore it would be an aid to terrorists and/or people smugglers if it were published.

Poll woes for Julia Gillard – the solution, possibly the final solution!

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The polls don’t look good for Julia Gillard (image from heraldsun.com.au)

Newspoll is suggesting that the Julia Gillard Labor Government is heading for a thumping. It seems hopeless, and there is speculation that it may start a fresh round of leadership speculation.

Ok, I guess I should nail my colours to the mast here and say that I’ve never really been a whole-hearted Julia Gillard supporter. I always thought that her voice was too nasal and that her hairstyle so unlike previous leaders, so I doubted that she’d ever become PM, but she somehow managed to get there, and slowly she’s won me over by her focus on good policy and getting things done, rather than the politics.

But it seems I’m in the minority. So I have to concede that instead of concentrating on silly things like the NBN, which apparently causes asbestos to appear in the street, or disability insurance, she should have been concentrating on keeping our borders safe. While Julia Gillard has been twiddling her thumbs, the Opposition have been working on a deal with Indonesia to stop the boats, and pretty soon they’ll have that in a form where they can let the Indonesians know about it.

I know that the only way that Labor can defuse this boat issue is to come up with a better policy. All right, they did try the Malaysian solution, but the Liberals complained that was inhumane. They did try the Pacific Solution, which the Liberals complained was their policy – until it hasn’t worked. Now the Liberals are suggesting that the only way is to tow back the boats. But I suggest that Labor should go one step further and have a “Sink the Boats” policy – in a totally humane way, of course. We’d only be sinking them to discourage other people from taking that risky voyage in a leaky boat.

Of course, we know that Julia Gillard won’t do this, so the only thing to do is to replace her as leader. Kevin Rudd would be divisive and make it appear as they Labor didn’t know what it was doing. They could offer it to Malcolm Turnbull, but I hear a rumour that he’d have a problem with sinking innocent women and children, so that only leaves one option. They should offer the leadership to Gina Rinehart. (Although Turnbull no longer has a problem with rising sea levels, since he got rolled as Opposition Leader for endorsing an emissions trading scheme!).

I know that it may seem a little strange, but I don’t see anyone else who’d have enough money to counter Rupert’s push to install Tony. And I know some of you would say that she wouldn’t be prepared to stand for the Labor Party, but I’m sure that if they promised to abolish the Mining Tax, the Carbon Tax and slash the minimum wage to $5 a day, she’d consider it. An agreement that they’d re-introduce Work Choices should just about clinch the deal.

Of course, they’ve already got a problem with the Budget not balancing this year, so rather than restricting spending and trying to raise revenue before the election, they could offer tax cuts to all and re-introduce the Baby Bonus retrospectively for anyone who’d ever been a baby.

In an effort to reduce the damage of Craig Thomson, all union officials should be jailed pending investigation. Once they can prove that they’ve never done anything wrong, they can be released, of course, but only after they’ve won the election. (Anyone who confesses to the theft of a pen could be released for time already served, in the hope that it’d encourage others to admit to crimes also).

With these simple steps, Labor may again be a winning chance at the election. And surely, winning the election’s what counts. In forty years, no-one will care that Julia Gillard introduced the NDIS. After all, who remembers that Gough introduced Medicare (Medibank) or that he bought “Blue Poles” for a fraction of its value today. But we all remember who won the 1974 election…

Don’t we?

Predicting the future is hard, but predicting the past is an oxymoron

2013

Predicting the future is hard, but not so with the election result

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”      Donald Rumsfeld

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”  Yogi Berra

Ok, the future is a strange country which we presume looks just like now apart from the different bits. Now that the Mayan Calendar didn’t accurately predict the end of the world we can all get back to normal, and leave prediction to the experts.

Of course, one wonders why, in a supposedly rational age, that the Mayan Calendar received so much attention. I don’t recall reading about the Mayans special relationship with soothsaying. There was no list of amazing accurate Mayan prophecies of the Nostradamus variety. Yet, here we were in the the 21st Century, being asked to consider that 2012 might just be the end of it all.

Some of you are probably smugly sipping your coffee and saying, well, there are still superstitious people in this world who read the horoscopes and such nonsense. And you’re right, there is still a great deal of superstition out there. But it’s not the beliefs of the people who find their futures in their tea leaves or the entrails of chickens that bother me. When it comes to the prediction, one superstitious method is as good as another. No, what bothers me is the serious lack of accountability for people being wrong.

I’m not too concerned about the daily horoscopes, and I don’t suggest that we be given the right to sue the “astrologers” because Gemini did not have a good day, and this enormous rash demonstrates that it was clearly wrong to “try new experiences”. My concern is more to do with the supposed rational thinkers that use their capacity to argue that they weren’t really wrong, but there was just an event they didn’t quite predict which stopped their perfectly accurate prediction from being perfectly accurate. Someone once said that an economist is a person who is paid a large amount of money to explain why they were wrong. But I don’t just want to pick on economists here. I want to pick on everyone who enters the area of making definitive statements about the future, only to argue that, in fact, while the world didn’t end in 2012, that was only because they misread the calendar, or certain events happened in a slightly different order.

Of course, I’ve spent enough times on racetracks and in TABs to know that no punter ever gets it wrong. The horse just needed one more run. That jockey must have backed the winner because he rode mount – the one  they backed – so badly, and that was why it didn’t win.It didn’t get a clear run at them. Yep, Black Caviar isn’t really a 1000 metre horse – this thing will be too speedy for it. After we’re wrong there’s always an intelligent explanation, and we can re-write history any way we like.

I’m not going to predict that Julia Gillard will win the next election. However, I would like to remind everyone who keeps talking about the impending Abbott victory that not a single vote has been cast yet. This is not like GP motor racing where drivers rack up points and then of them may draw away to an unbeatable lead. This is more like the final of a tennis match where all the points are decided on one day. (Or a couple of days in the case of a rain interruption – in case any pedants out there want to comment on a minor inaccuracy which has little to do with the overall blog). It’s highly unlikely that I’d be able to beat Bernard Tomic in the final, but I will start on the same score, and who knows, he might have a bad day. Or be disqualified for his behaviour when I make a comment about using his head for that point…

Yes, I’ve seen the opinion polls, but as I said to my wife after I heard on the radio that Labor would be wiped out if an election was held today, “If an election was held today, they wouldn’t have any of the ballot papers printed.”  I then went on to say that opinion polls are a bit like asking a man if I’d leave his wife for Scarlett Johansson – lots of men would say yes without thinking but when the actual reality hit, they may not be so keen on a Hollywood lifestyle. Or, it’s like asking who you’ll support in the AFL Grand Final – apart from actual supporters of a club a lot of people will change their mind at the last minute. I started to explain that historically people can drift back toward a Government when the Opposition starts actually releasing policies, but at this point, my wife said that Scarlet was welcome to me.

The opinion polls have helped divide Labor, creating the impression that nothing of note is being done. They’ve given Abbott momentum, and made him look like a winner. He’s been able to lose some of his negativity, because Labor politicians and supporters themselves have been critics of Gillard. Every achievement – for example, dragging Abbott onboard with the NDIS – is viewed cynically, as though everything is poll driven. It’s possible that Gillard may see these last few months before the election as perhaps Labor’s last chance to actually put in place some things that will be – like Medicare (Medibank) in the 70s – hard for the Conservatives to completely dismantle. Just as it’s possible that she may play “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John every morning and convince herself that she’s a winner no matter how many times she’s been written off.

Whatever the faults of this Government, whether Gillard lied or not (no Liberal lied about Children Overboard, of course, that was just a factual inaccuracy), I find the rhetoric about “the worst government ever” ridiculous. We can despair about the mainstream media seemingly singing in chorus, or we can start to fight back. And belief is a powerful weapon. Optimism can create momentum.

Perhaps Abbott will be Prime Minister come September. But if one looks at past predictions that is no certainty. In 2010, Sportsbet had Gillard at long odds to last till 2013. Of course, they may have looked at the Mayan Calendar and factored in the end of the world in 2012.

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