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Essential Research: 58-42

Labor’s two-party vote from Essential Research has a five in front of it for the first time since January, dropping two points to 58-42. The report also finds Kevin Rudd’s position on asylum seekers is favoured over Malcolm Turnbull’s by 45 per cent to 33 per cent; the Labor Party is thought better to handle immigration and border security by 46 per cent against 34 per cent; the government’s handling of climate change has 45 per cent approval and 30 per cent disapproval; “total concern” about employment prospects has risen 5 per cent since February; and approval of the government’s handling of the global financial crisis has steadily decreased from 63 per cent to 56 per cent since October. Most interestingly, 41 per cent believe the government would be justified in calling an early election if its “financial measures and other legislation” were “opposed” by the opposition, up from 38 per cent in February.

Other stuff:

• Submissions on the federal redistribution of Queensland have been published. Featured are minutely detailed proposals from the major parties. Interestingly, both Labor and the LNP want new electorates straddling the Warrego Highway between Ipswich and Toowoomba. However, the LNP’s proposed seat of Killen (in honour of Gorton-to-Fraser minister Jim) extends northwards from here, while Labor’s proposed Theodore (in honour of Depression-era Treasurer and party legend “Red Ted”) ambitiously sweeps around Boonah and Beaudesert to the Gold Coast hinterland. The LNP submission interestingly calls for Leichhardt to be drawn into Cairns and its Cape York balance to be transferred to Bob Katter’s electorate of Kennedy. Veteran observer Adam Carr says: “I don’t know why the parties bother with these submissions. They commissioners never take the least bit of notice, in fact they seem to go out of their way not to do what either of the parties want them to do.”

• If you feel like making a suggestion for the New South Wales federal redistribution, submissions are being received until May 1.

• The Liberals are complaining about the high number of people who are incorrectly enrolled, as revealed in the Australian Electoral Commission’s answer to a parliamentary question. The average error rate was 3.5 per cent, mostly involving failures to update enrolment following changes of address. Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson creatively notes this is “greater than the margin by which 33 seats were decided at the last federal election”. His line of logic has failed to impress Bernard Keane at Crikey.

• Dig Possum’s booth result maps.

• I recently had occasion to discuss Malcolm Mackerras’s concerns with New Zealand mixed-member proportional system, in which I noted its similarities and subtle differences with Germany’s election system. In doing so I erroneously stated that mid-term vacancies in German electorates are filled not through by-elections as in New Zealand, but by “unelected candidates from the party’s national lists”. In fact, the lists are not national, as Mackerras writes to explain:

My recent article in Crikey on the forthcoming by-election for Mount Albert in New Zealand seems to have created a minor confusion. Trying to limit my number of words I allowed you to write this précis in your Poll Bludger blog: “New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system is modelled on Germany’s, but departs from it in that vacated constituency seats are filled by unelected candidates from the party’s national lists – which New Zealand was obviously loath to do as it would randomly match members to electorates with which they have had no connection.” That is not quite right so I had best elaborate. Germany is a federation whereas New Zealand is a unitary state. In Germany there are no national party lists – there are Land party lists. A German Land is what we Anglos would call a state or province. Consequently if, for example, a constituency member for a Munich seat were to depart he/she would be replaced by the next unelected candidate of his/her party on the Bavarian list. Since New Zealand is more like a German Land than Germany as a whole I contend that any logical New Zealand MMP system would allow Labour’s Damien Peter O’Connor automatically to become the member for Mount Albert, rather than put the Labour Party to the cost of a by-election it might lose. O’Connor was, for several years, the member for West Coast-Tasman until he was defeated by the National Party’s candidate at the November 2008 general election. Since constituency members switching from the North Island to the South Island (and vice versa) is so common in New Zealand I can see no reason why O’Connor should not automatically become the next member for Mount Albert.

So, how did the present situation arise? It all goes back to the Royal Commission Report in December 1986. Because of my interest in these matters I took sabbatical leave in New Zealand for that semester so I could be there when the Report was published. I was shocked by it. The feature which most shocked me was the number of howlers I found in the Royal Commission’s Report. Among them was this recommendation on page 44: “Vacancies caused by the resignation or death of a sitting constituency member would be filled by a by-election as under the present system. List members would be replaced by the next available person on the relevant party list.” No further elaboration. No discussion as to why New Zealand should copy Germany in so many other ways but not in this way.

So I set about to find out how the Royal Commission could have written that howler, along with the others. The explanation I came up with (which I am convinced is correct) is that when Royal Commission members visited Germany they never thought to ask the German experts as to how Germany actually fills its vacancies. Meanwhile the German hosts did not think to inform their New Zealand visitors about this feature of German law. Both sides assumed their position to be self-evident. The difference is that the Germans actually understood their system. The New Zealanders never did – so the Royal Commission recommended to the people of New Zealand that they should vote for a system which the Royal Commission did not understand. That 54 per cent of New Zealanders actually voted for this ratbag scheme is easily explained. The issue of electoral reform was overshadowed by unpopular economic reform. The Business Roundtable was far too influential in economic policy making under both Labour and National governments. When the Business Roundtable asked the people of New Zealand not to vote for MMP the popular reaction was to say: “If they say vote against it that is the best argument to vote for it.”

Meanwhile John Key, now Prime Minister, promised during the election campaign that there would be another referendum on MMP. No details were given. So I took the liberty of seeking an interview with him to press my proposal which is that there should be two referendums. The first would accompany the next general election and be indicative only – the kind of legally non-binding vote which we in Australia would call a plebiscite. At that referendum, to be held in conjunction with the November 2011 general election, the people would be offered the choice of two alternative systems. The winner of that would then run off against MMP at a referendum to be held in conjunction with the November 2014 general election and that, of course, would be legally binding.

The two alternative systems would be the Single Transferable Vote (STV), what we in Australia call Hare-Clark. That is the one for which I would vote if I were a New Zealander – or a British Columbian for that matter. The other choice would be the Mixed Member Majoritarian (MMM) system, known in New Zealand for many years as Supplementary Member. That is quite simple to explain. The basic structure of MMP would stay. Every elector would get two votes, one for a constituency candidate, one for a party. The party list seats would be distributed proportionally between the parties. Under such a system by-elections would be quite logical because that would be a mixed system, not one of proportional representation. I have no idea which of STV or MMM would win in 2011. I am in no doubt, however, that the winning system of 2011 would easily defeat MMP in 2014.

927
  • 1
    bob1234
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Labor to retain power for a generation.

  • 2
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Glen’s comments about Essential being biased don’t make sense in this context, given Essential gives breakdowns on what party supporters for each topic.

    For example -

    87% of Labor voters agree with Kevin Rudd’s view that the Australian economy would be much worse without the stimulus packages and 62% of
    Coalition voters agree with Malcolm Turnbull’s view that the Government’s acknowledgement that Australia will enter a recession shows that the
    Government’s stimulus packages have not worked. 20% of Coalition voters agree with Kevin Rudd’s view that the Australian economy would be
    much worse without the stimulus packages.

    Even a significant number of coalition voters support Rudd’s economic policy. You can claim that Essential is biased towards Labor in its sample, but saying that on top of that it also has a bias in terms of coalition voters who support Rudd is a bit ridiculous.

  • 3
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Also, 41% think Rudd would be justified in calling an early election, 29% say he wouldn’t and 30% don’t give a stuff.

  • 4
    Diogenes
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    So the Libs have lost best economic managers and now best border security managers.

    Is there a single area they are ahead in?

  • 5
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I think we all by now that Glen’s comments on the validity of opinion polls are something less than scientific. He just dismisses any poll he doesn’t like as unreliable. Since Labor has led in every published poll, by every polling company, since sometime in early 2007, this means an awful lot of unreliable polls. Glen’s capacity to believe what he wants and ignore anything that contradicts it is indeed superhuman.

  • 6
    Tom the first and best
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Best infighters?

  • 7
    bob1234
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    The Libs infight way better in opposition than Labor does.

  • 8
    Greensborough Growler
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Adam,

    He does barrack for Melbourne. It’s apparently a great builder of character.

  • 9
    Greensborough Growler
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Diogs,

    Maybe this is something the Libs can take a lead in.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnews/20090427/ts_usnews/donatinganorganthroughyourbellybutton

  • 10
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that Essential Research negates a person’s indecision about voting intention, but doesn’t do so for any of the policy related responses they elicit? It’s OK to say you don’t know about how you rate the parties on their positions on the economy, but not about who you would vote for?

  • 11
    Gary Bruce
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    the government’s handling of climate change has 45 per cent approval and 30 per cent disapproval

    25% don’t care obviously but that is good support for the government’s ETS.

  • 12
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    For anyone that cares (probably only Socrates):

    The chairman of Infrastructure Australia says initial projects under the Building Australia Fund will focus on transport.

    [Sir Rod Eddington told the meeting that transport, particularly in capital cities, will be the focus of Infrastructure Australia's final recommendations to the government.

    "Public transport [and] the role that urban rail, light rail, buses might play in that,” he said.]

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/28/2555193.htm

  • 13
    The Finnigans
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Bule, are you white, black or yellow?

  • 14
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    GG, that’s true, and it means that Glen can’t be all bad (or conversely that I can’t be all good). His character must be very built up by now. At least I have one winner to barrack for – the Mighty Ruddster.

  • 15
    bob1234
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that Essential Research negates a person’s indecision about voting intention, but doesn’t do so for any of the policy related responses they elicit? It’s OK to say you don’t know about how you rate the parties on their positions on the economy, but not about who you would vote for?

    Voting is compulsory in Australia – so I agree with ER.

  • 16
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    The Finnigans, I’m not sure how that’s relevant.

    bob1234, maybe so, but not until election day. Surely people are allowed to be undecided until then? Surely, further, knowing the extent of undecided voters gives an indication of the size of the proportion of the electorate that parties have to convince?

  • 17
    Musrum
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    When are the Libs going to bite the bullet and put Truss in as Opposition Leader?

    You just know he will provide stablility…

  • 18
    vera
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Wong, Obama talk climate change

    Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has raised the importance of cleaning up the coal industry in talks with US President Barack Obama.

    Senator Wong is in Washington for a meeting of the world's major economies, convened to talk about climate change and energy.

    Our Penny teaching Obi and the yanks a thing or two :D

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/wong-obama-talk-climate-change-20090428-alt6.html

  • 19
    ShowsOn
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    25% don’t care obviously but that is good support for the government’s ETS.

    Just don’t ask the average punter to explain exactly how an ETS works! I think voters are banking “The Vibe”, but not the substance of the policy.

  • 20
    PAAPTSEF
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Bree can tell us how it will be possible to (a) build new buildings at every school in Australia and (b) lay fibre optic cable to every urban household in Australia, without employing anyone?

    And Bree, what’s the Liberals term for working at woolies if none of the 7000 new positions there count as “jobs”?

  • 21
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I believe that would be ‘purgatory’.

  • 22
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Dumb Turnbull ideas number 57 (actually has he had that many ideas?)

    The federal opposition wants an independent inquiry into the increase in cases of people smuggling into Australia.

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/807218/turnbull-wants-people-smuggling-inquiry
    I guess the UN High Commissioner for Refugees isn’t independent enough…

  • 23
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Our Penny teaching Obi and the yanks a thing or two

    I rather hope she’s learning some things from the likes of Waxman. Judging by the Democrats position in Congress, I doubt they’re taking much from Penny.

    Just don’t ask the average punter to explain exactly how an ETS works! I think voters are banking “The Vibe”, but not the substance of the policy.

    Pretty much.

    Also, given that the government structured their ETS around trying to please everyone rather than what made sense scientifically/environmentally, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that more people like it than don’t. But 45-30 is not quite as solid for the government as their position in other areas. Without a breakdown of how many people think it’s bad because it doesn’t go far enough or because it goes too far it doesn’t mean that much.

    I’m not sure how this poll weighs up against the last one on climate change.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/files/2009/02/essential-report_020309.pdf

    The question was different (Talking specifically about the ETS rather than “the government’s handling of climate change”) but in it 65% supported the CPRS (Half of those wanted higher targets), 19% wanted it delayed or abandoned and 16% didn’t know. It would be much more useful if there was some consistency to Essentials questions.

  • 24
    Greensborough Growler
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Oz,

    Still waving the flag of irrelevance. Good for you.

    Meanwhile Wong has a seat at the table where real decisions will be made.

  • 25
    ShowsOn
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Also, given that the government structured their ETS around trying to please everyone rather than what made sense scientifically/environmentally

    The Government obviously framed the ETS around putting forward something that had half a chance of passing the Senate.

  • 26
    The Finnigans
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Bule,

    Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."

    Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

  • 27
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    The Finnigans, you romantic thing, you.

  • 28
    Harry "Snapper" Organs
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Is this where we start running around in ever diminishing circles and shrieking “The Narrowing”?
    BTW, we should be O.K. with the Babe Bastard Flu. There is a high probability of a new vaccine in 10 weeks, specific to this flu. Meanwhile, the existing antivirals will likely prevent deaths as long as people get themselves screened and identified as have the Babe illness ASAP.

  • 29
    Harry "Snapper" Organs
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    as having, obviously

  • 30
    The Finnigans
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Bule, have i touched on a sweet spot?

  • 31
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile Wong has a seat at the table where real decisions will be made.

    Probably getting laughed at. =)

  • 32
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    The Government obviously framed the ETS around putting forward something that had half a chance of passing the Senate.

    If I was the government, I wouldn’t be pushing that line. The fact that everyone in the Senate besides Labor said they would oppose it and vehemently disagree with every aspect of it from the targets to the structure – not to mention the fact that there was no inter party negotiation whilst drafting (but a lot of business consultation) is a hefty indictment of that position.

  • 33
    Tom
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Musrum
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
    When are the Libs going to bite the bullet and put Truss in as Opposition Leader?

    So you think he would give them a much needed lift ;>)

    Tom.

  • 34
    PAAPTSEF
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Oz, I might have got it wrong but the US is after a 15% international carbon reduction agreement to be run by the UN aren’t they?

  • 35
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    The Finnigans, it would take more than quoting some cliched exerpt from Shakespeare to earn my affections, I assure you.

  • 36
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Oz, I might have got it wrong but the US is after a 15% international carbon reduction agreement to be run by the UN aren’t they?

    Henry Waxman, House Majority leader, has introduced a bill to reduce emissions 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

  • 37
    Glen
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Adam there is always John Key, Stephen Harper and Angela Merkel to look up to :)

  • 38
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    A recent ruling also means that the EPA has the ability to potentially regulate emissions without legislation.

    I’m not suggesting the US’ targets at perfect, but the fact that we’ve already been leapfrogged by them is pretty sad.

  • 39
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Waxman is not majority leader but Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

  • 40
    PAAPTSEF
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Apr. 24, 2009 (Reuters) — The United States hopes to take the reins of international efforts to battle global warming next week with a meeting of major economies aimed at facilitating a U.N. pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Obama hopes to cut U.S. emissions by roughly 15 percent by 2020 -- back to 1990 levels --

    http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre53n127-us-obama-climate/

    I guess that mean Obama at least isn’t laughing at Wong from his end of the table.

  • 41
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    If the US seriously commits to 20 by 20, that will change the whole international climate, so to speak, and everyone including us will be obliged to follow. I have to say, although Waxman is a legendary Congressional fixer, I will believe it when I see it. (And he’s not Majority Leader, he’s Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.)

  • 42
    Harry "Snapper" Organs
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Glen @ 37, I note you didn’t include Berloscuni.

  • 43
    The Finnigans
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Bule, it was a sore spot then.

  • 44
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    The only people who are allowed to criticise the bill for the fact that it’s only pending legislation are those who have actually passed their own legislation. So far, that’s only Britain.

    We have a bill that proposes to cut emissions by 5-15% by 2020 and 60% by 2050. The US have a bill that proposes to cut emissions by 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. That’s the only basis for comparison.

    But, as I already pointed out, the US is in a special position as the EPA ruled that they have the ability to regulate GHG emissions without legislation.

  • 45
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The draft bill echoes Obama's pledge to aggressively tackle greenhouse-gas emissions, lowering them by about 15 per cent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels and 80 per cent by 2050.

    Even Obama’s pledge is higher than ours! (the differential is the 2050 target, even if you ignore ours is 5-15 not an unconditional 15).

    So I really doubt Penny is teaching the Americans anything.

  • 46
    Bule
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The Finnigans, more a bored spot, actually.

  • 47
    PAAPTSEF
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Vale Richard Pratt

  • 48
    Diogenes
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure Obama and Waxman aren’t laughing at Penny Wong. They will be hoping she makes positive noises about bumping us up to 15% at Copenhagen if the US manages 20% by 2020. They will also be pointing out that Wong should consider increasing the 5-15% to 5-20%.

    If the US comes up with 20% (which I doubt), it will make it impossible for the Greens to back Rudd’s ETS.

  • 49
    Diogenes
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    bob

    Koutas keeping up the good work. Great front bench appointment by Mike.

    FORMER Road Safety Minister Tom Koutsantonis has revealed to Parliament his driver's licence was twice suspended temporarily for late payment of traffic fines.

    http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,25399446-5006301,00.html

  • 50
    Oz
    Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Koutsantonis belongs in NSW.

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