South Australian By-Election Analysis and a summary of the week in politics

This week has been another busy one politically with stuff happening on a local and global stage that is of interest. Locally you had the by-election results finalise for Cheltenham and Enfield with two comfortable wins for the Labor Party. Also locally you had the Federal Parliament return for it’s first of two sitting weeks before the April Budget, there you had the Government lose a substantive vote on the floor of Parliament for the first time since 1941. You then had the government filibuster question time for the longest time ever to avoid a vote on having a Royal Commission into the treatment of the Disabled. Internationally you had the May Government lose another vote on Brexit and Donald Trump declare a state of emergency on building the Mexican wall. This blog will cover each of these issues in depth.

First I will cover the by-election results. The first seat covered was the seat of Enfield. That was a reasonably safe Labor seat of around 8 percent. The final by-election result is given by (1): So the Labor vote increased by about 7 percent which is a positive result for them. I thought Saru Rana would do better as effectively the stooge Liberal candidate but to finish third by such a comfortable margin would be disappointing for Liberal HQ. Gary Johanson would be pleased with getting 20 percent of the vote as a former mayor in the area. The Greens basically stayed put in this electorate which they would be disappointed by with SA Best and Liberal votes up for grabs.

Candidate Affiliation % Ballot Papers
JOHANSON Gary IND
20.3 3,811
THANDI Amrik IND
2.6 483
MICHAELS Andrea ALP
47.5 8,945
RANA Saru INDLIB
14.4 2,716
HASHIMI Mansoor IND
2.3 431
HUMBLE Stephen LDP
4.6 868
KONYN Sebastian GRN
8.3 1,562
Total Formal: 93.9 18,816
Total Informal: 6.1 1,228
Total Ballot Papers: 20,044

Two Candidate Preferred

Candidate Affiliation % Ballot Papers
JOHANSON Gary IND
38.4 7,232
MICHAELS Andrea ALP
61.6 11,584

In the Cheltenham by-election the Labor Party held this seat on a safe as nails 16 percent margin. The by-election result is given by (2). Again the Labor vote increased with the lack of a Liberal candidate with their vote going up 6.2 percent. The Liberal Democrats did well to get into second although some of that vote would be people confusing the Liberal Democrats with the Liberals. It does also match the performance in WA where the Liberal Democrats picked up the slack of Liberal voters when they didn’t run in the federal by-elections last year. The Greens did have a good showing in this seat with their vote more than doubling from 6.5 to 14.6 percent.

Candidate Affiliation % Ballot Papers
MILLER Peter LDP
18.8 3,615
LESIW Mike IND
3.5 675
SZAKACS Joe ALP
58.6 11,295
MEDROW Steffi GRN
14.6 2,815
DE JONGE Rob IND
4.5 877
Total Formal: 93.5 19,277
Total Informal: 6.5 1,338
Total Ballot Papers: 20,615

Two Candidate Preferred

Candidate Affiliation % Ballot Papers
MILLER Peter LDP
25.3 4,872
SZAKACS Joe ALP
74.7 14,405

Now on a federal level the Government lost a vote on the floor of government on the Medivac bill. (3) has an explainer on what the bill is, essentially it allows doctors and not the Minister to have ultimate say over who enters the country for medical attention. How this works is if Peter Dutton wants to veto a refugee coming from Nauru to Australia on medical grounds then a medical panel can veto that from happening and allow the refugee to come to Australia for medical care. Now this bill looked like it might apply to all current refugees and to future refugees who come to Nauru and the government ran an effective scare campaign over the summer that this bill would restart the boats. That made the Labor Party skittish and so they proposed a number of amendments to try and make the bill tighter. The amendments from Labor were to allow the bill to only apply to current refugees not future ones, allow the minister to stop the transfers from people convicted of serious criminal cases, lastly the Minister gets 72 hours to make the decision on whether to grant approval to the refugee getting medical attention. Now the Liberal’s have a few arguments against this bill in amended form. Firstly the bill was unconstitutional as it was a money bill that started from the Senate when they generally start from the Lower House. This was avoided by the Labor Party making the panel voluntary meaning there wasn’t a money aspect to the bill. I would think doctors willing to voluntarily work on this panel are probably more likely to agree to more compassion on refugee treatment is an attack on the bill that the government could make. Secondly the Liberal Party believe that there are currently refugees on Nauru that are being charged with serious offences and they could now come to Australia under this bill as a current member. Lastly the Liberal’s are trying to run a nuance argument saying after the election the Labor Party will change the bill to apply to all members and that will restart the boats and allow anyone in who are currently charged with a serious offence. To me the government are running an unnecessary scare campaign and the politics have moved on since 2013! I think the government talking so much about boats restarting may actually become a self fulfilling prophecy that may cause some boats to start coming again. Now I am in favour principally with a strong border protection policy because I don’t want to see deaths at sea but I think the Coalition are over playing this issue probably because everything else has failed and they have run out of tricks.

Also in Federal Parliament was the call for a Royal Commission on disability abuse in the Disability sector. The government voted against the motion in the Senate but then when it went down to the Lower House (the message from the Senate never actually came) the Government decided to run the longest ever question at over 2.5 hours to run down the clock on action being able to be taken to vote on such a motion. Now this Royal Commission according to the government at first is not needed because the Royal Commission into aged care facilities is already covering the treatment of disabled people in aged care facilities. That doesn’t cover the whole cohort of people with a disability and so I think a Royal Commission into the disabled care sector is very much needed, even in my limited knowledge on the area I have heard personal stories of people being abused in disabled communities that would be beneficial to have the light shone on in a Royal Commission. The government are now flagging they will pass the motion next week but they will not necessarily act straight away to call a Royal Commission meaning they don’t want to lose another substantive vote in Parliament but don’t want to call a Royal Commission yet, this is going to lead to a well deserved protest on the steps of Parliament House next week.

Moving onto International Politics and I will first cover the Brexit vote in the UK Parliament. The new proposed deal was essentially the same as the deal that was voted on previously except with an implicit mention of ruling out a no deal Brexit. This you would have thought would have been more acceptable to Labor MP’s as a no deal Brexit is what they want but they for the large part stuck with playing the negative opposition of just opposing everything. What hurt the government though was the Pro Brexiteers who abstained from the vote because they don’t want a delayed Brexit and aren’t afraid of leaving the EU with no deal. So what happens next, well Theresa May goes back to Brussels to continue to argue her case of a change to the backstop. The problem for May is she has no negotiating power now with a lack of a majority of her party backing the deal and with them still not wanting to negotiate on the removal of a backstop.

Meanwhile in the USA Donald Trump has finally declared a State of Emergency on getting funding for his wall. From (4) what declaring a State of Emergency does is allow the president to shift appropriated money from Congress to another area of funding in this case shifting 8 billion dollars from other measures and the State of Emergency to building his wall which is more than the 5.7 billion dollars he initially asked for. Now this drew opposition from a few places. On the Democrat side they complained about the abuse of power and separation of powers from the Presidential level to the Senate level, they are planning on setting up litigation measures against the Presidents actions. On the Republican side of the ledger they are worried about the separation of powers too as well as the precedent for a President of a different persuasion to do the same thing in the future. For me it is a worry that the President has not got his way and declared a State of Emergency on such a small issue, something not used since 9/11 and this is certainly not an issue of 9/11 proportions. I am also concerned about the precedent it sets for a Democrat President to do the same thing on an equally minor issue. It will however play well to his base and I sense Donald Trump’s strategy at this point is to just ensure those who voted for him last time do so again because he knows he isn’t getting a large amount of voters to vote for him this time that did not do so in 2016.

Thank you for reading my blog. I will be back at the end of next week to sum up the second sitting week of Federal Parliament.

References

(1): https://results.ecsa.sa.gov.au/dr?id=813

(2): https://results.ecsa.sa.gov.au/dr?id=813

(3): https://junkee.com/medivac-bill-nick-mckim/193805

(4): https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/02/16/donald-trump-national-emergency-border-wall-fight/2876668002/

 

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Cheltenham and Enfield By-Election Preview

The first test for the Marshall government since their convincing 2018 State Election win is not going to be a test as the Liberal’s are not choosing to run candidates in either of the electorates of Enfield or Cheltenham. On the surface, this looks like two easy wins for the Labor Party however things can always throw up surprises on election night.

Cheltenham

Jay Weatherill the former Premier of the State was the first to resign before being quickly followed by John Rau. From (1) the seat of Cheltenham has had four members under its current seat name and formerly the seat of Price. Jay Weatherill is the seat’s most famous member being first a Minister in the Rann government and then the Premier. The first member for Price John Ryan was speaker under the Don Dunstan government from 1973 to 1975.

The area of Cheltenham covers the North West of Adelaide going from Rosewater to Woodville and Findon prime manufacturing and lower socioeconomic areas that are prime Labor voting hot spots.

There are five candidates standing in Cheltenham (2) being Peter Miller a Liberal Democrat which is the party for free rights on speech, guns, drugs, sex and rock and roll! Mike Lesiw an independent who is a factory worker who acquired brain damage from a workplace injury, Robert De Jonge who is an Onkaparinga Councillor and stands at a lot of different elections, has previously applied for Liberal candidacy so may get some proxy Liberal votes. Then you have the two candidates likely to finish first and second being Joe Szakacs a Labor member who is a former union rep and then Steffi Medrow who has the advantage of standing for the Greens in the last election for Cheltenham.

Prediction: Safe Labor retain

Enfield

John Rau as I mentioned above very quickly followed Jay Weatherill out the door and stood down as the member for Enfield after a long run as Deputy Premier and also the states Attorney General. Enfield has had a few iterations as a seat with it first being named Prospect from 1938 to 1956, then Enfield from 1956 to 1970 where it was then named Ross Smith from 1970 to 2002 before going back to Enfield from 2002 onwards. John Rau is the most famous member for Enfield having taken on several ministries alongside his Deputy Premiership. John Bannon was the 39th premier of South Australia and was the member for Ross Smith from 1977 to 1993. No-one of real note held Prospect throughout its history.

The area of Enfield covers the suburb of its own name taking in the area’s of Kilburn, Blair Athol, Clearview, Lightsview and Sefton Park taking in the inner north of Adelaide. Unlike Cheltenham, this seat is not quite as safe as nails for the Labor Party and has previously been held the Liberal Party albeit not since 1953.

This electorate is garnering a lot more interest from potential candidates with 7 candidates standing. The candidates are perennial candidate Gary Johnson who has stood as an independent, a Liberal and an SA Best candidate. He does have experience as Port Adelaide Mayor for 12 years and his platform on local issues particularly on the closure of the Service SA centre in Prospect. There are two other Independents in Amrik Singh Thandi and Mansoor Hashimi who are standing on increased accountability for governments and increased community funding which is honourable but light on details for how they propose to do that. Then we have Stephen Humble another serial candidate standing for the party of freedom Liberal Democrats. Then we have the three intriguing candidates, the Liberal Independent Saru Rana who is unashamedly still a Liberal Party member and would be the Liberal candidate if they were running one. There’s a good article on Saru Rana in (3) I would expect her to finish second in the seat although the Service SA cut to Prospect is a biting issue in Enfield and a bad showing for her may open the door for the Greens candidate Sebastian Konyn. They are all trailing the Labor candidate though in Andrea Michaels who is a financial lawyer by trade.

Prediction: Safe Labor retain

Thank you for reading my blog, my next blog will be on the Analysis of the By-Election results as well as the Federal Parliament week recap and any updates on Brexit.

 

 

References

(1): http://www.tallyroom.com.au/cheltenhamby2019

(2): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Cheltenham_state_by-election

(3): https://indaily.com.au/news/politics/2019/01/10/liberal-independent-puts-up-hand-after-party-shuns-by-elections/

Brexit update and Theresa May Leadership Challenge

Things have become very exciting in the UK the last week with a vote on Brexit being delayed and Theresa May facing a leadership challenge. In this blog, I will start by discussing the Theresa May leadership situation and then discuss Brexit, both in terms of the options from here and also what each of the options would entail.

So yesterday my time Theresa May reached the threshold for facing a vote of confidence. In the Conservative Party that threshold is reached when 48 backbenchers write in letters of no confidence. The party then have a spill of a secret ballot where members vote whether they have confidence still in the leader or not. Theresa May was able to survive the no-confidence vote 200 votes to 117. That may look like a convincing vote but it means that more than a third of her colleagues wanted her to lose her leadership. If Theresa May had of lost the confidence vote it would have triggered a leadership search for a new leader as Theresa May would have needed to resign. As it is the Conservatives will have a new leader for the next election as Theresa May has promised to step aside before the next election. That would clear the way for a new leader like Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid or David Davis to take a fresh mandate to the people.

Just before the no-confidence vote was called Theresa May pulled her Brexit plan from the Parliament as it was going to be voted down comprehensively. (1) has a good article detailing the latest Theresa May Brexit deal that she has struck with the EU. The deal essentially is split into 2 parts. A Withdrawal Agreement which keeps many of the current rules dictating the UK EU relationship in place until 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement focuses on the financial settlement that the UK will need to pay to leave the EU and it allows Britons living in the UK and EU’s living in the UK and their family members to stay living in their respective countries. The deal also creates an Irish backstop. This is the most controversial part of the current deal and (2) sets up what the Irish Backstop is namely a way for goods and services to still pass through the Northern Ireland border if the two halves of Ireland are under different jurisdictions post-Brexit. The problem Brexiteers have with the backstop is that the EU will have to agree with when the backstop ends meaning the UK may stay with a backstop indefinitely. The Political declaration that comes with the deal talks about maintaining UK sovereignty while keeping close ties to the EU.

The divide in the political spectrum has led to both the Conservatives and the Labour Parties offering alternative Brexit deals. One option that was floated by Amber Rudd who is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is the adoption of a Norway like Brexit bill. (3) has information about the Norway model of Brexit, it involves Norway being part of the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area. This membership would allow the UK to stay part of the single market meaning continued trade between the UK and the EU and continued single market access for services. It would also mean that the UK was no longer part of some of the more contentious groups of trade that Brexiteers don’t want to be part of such as the EU fisheries market. The big problem with this model though is the Freedom of movement of people and Immigration control was a big reason that Brexit happened in the first place.

I have to say that the contribution of Brexiteers to an alternative Brexit is minimal which makes their constant opposition to each deal slightly weird as they can’t come up with a better deal. The only deal I could find that seems to have won the Brexiteers support from the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg is outlined in (4). The main differences to Theresa May’s deal lie in Trade where they want to create individual free trade deals with multiple countries and leave the UK to decide the terms of trade deals. They want to remove tariffs on all non-UK items. On Ireland, they want to keep checks on goods and keep random checks for certain goods and services. They also want to make Immigration a more economically sound principle as opposed to allowing free movement. Again all these things sound good in principle but why would the EU just agree to all of these things.

Labour are laughing in the backgrounds at the instability the Government is facing but they are not without their issues on Brexit. Labour seems to have three policies on Brexit currently. One is to test Brexit on a six-point plan as outlined in (5). Those are:

(1) Will it maintain a strong relationship with the EU
(2) Does it contain the same benefits as currently exists from being a member of the Customs market?
(3) Does it treat migrants fairly
(4) Does it prevent rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom
(5) Does it tackle crime particularly crime that takes place from a cross-border
(6) Does it deliver for all regions and countries of the UK
Again these are fair questions to ask of a policy but they require a policy first and that seems to be lacking from the Labour Party. Secondly, there are calls for a general election if the Brexit plan of May fails, i.e call a no-confidence motion in the government and hope that passes as that would result in a general election. Again this would then involve a plan needed for Brexit by Labour and would put at risk the March 29th deadline for Brexit to take place. Lastly, there are some Labour members who wanted a second referendum with the option for Britain to remain in the EU. This is the sort of elitist crap that the general population hate, they make one decision and then the Parliament says no you are in the wrong, vote again because we don’t like the result.

What all sides of the debate are hoping to avoid is a No Deal Brexit. That would be devastating for the country and would impact the Economy a great deal. (6) outlines what a No Deal Brexit looks like and it is ominous reading. Essentially the only positive that people can come up with is no divorce bill of 40 billion dollars and even that could be contested in court. In the case of a No Deal, the future of EU citizens in the UK or vice versa would be up in the cloud. Border checks would be reinstated and that would impact the transportation of goods and people between countries, indeed people have been told to stock up on medication because the transportation of medicine could be impacted by border checks. The UK would become a third country with less access to the EU single market. Most importantly there would need to be the set up of a hard border between the Northern Ireland and Irish border which would then need to be policed somehow.

At this stage as bad as the scenario would be I think the UK is heading fast towards a no deal Brexit. This is because the current May deal is going to be blocked by Parliament and the EU have been very firm in saying the current deal can’t be changed. Sure we could have a second referendum but the ability to do that before March 29th is very unlikely.

Thank you for reading my blog, keep tuned for my next blog on a topic yet to be determined.

References

(1): https://www.euronews.com/2018/12/07/what-is-in-theresa-may-s-brexit-deal-and-why-is-it-so-unpopular

(2): https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-44615404

(3): https://www.businessinsider.com.au/what-is-the-norway-model-brexit-2018-4?r=US&IR=T

(4): https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/24/iea-brexit-proposals-the-main-points

(5): https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45640548

(6): https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44904619

Review of the final week of Parliament

As everyone starts to wind down for the year and focus on Christmas the Parliament had its final sitting week of the year. As is so often the case the last week of Parliament was eventful with threats of more Liberal members becoming Independents and several policy issues threatening to rear its head. In this blog, I will talk about the policy issues that raised their head in this sitting week and also talk about some of the non-policy issues that have played a hand in the federal sphere this week.

So the biggest issue of the week was the Nauru processing bill put up by the Independent Dr Kerryn Phelps in order to process sick asylum seekers in Nauru. The bill passed the Senate but not in time for the Lower House to consider the bill as the House had adjourned. What the bill does according to (1) is firstly it would remove all remaining kids and families from Nauru and it would move to Australia any kids and adults who according to two independent treating doctors are psychologically or physically ill. This is a change from previously where the minister would have power over the movement of people from Nauru. The reason for this bill not getting back to the House in time is due to some political tactics where Corey Bernadi and other right-wing Independents joining with the LNP to filibuster and go slow on the passing of the legislation to get past the 4:30 PM deadline. The reason the government give for going slow on the legislation is that they are worried about the legislation change starting the boats again but the true reason was that the Government didn’t want to lose a vote on the floor of the house on a policy front something that hasn’t happened in close to 90 years. When that last happened the government went to an election the following day.

What the go slow on Nauru did almost cost is action on the Encryption bill. The Encryption bill effectively allows Federal and State Police access to people who have been imprisoned for three or more years to private encryption messaging to try and increase national security from such things as terrorist rings and child paedophile rings. I’m not completely around the encryption debate but my understanding is the main changes are that state police forces can access encryption services and also it can be accessed for any criminal charged for more than 3 years rather than only serious charges. Originally it looked like Labor would pass amendments and make the bill go back to the House but they capitulated and agreed to pass the bill without amendment meaning it didn’t have to go back to the House. (2) has a good explanation of the bill as well as some of the risks of the bill namely that if the information is breached it could end up in the wrong hands of people who could cause Australia harm.

There are two other bills that didn’t make it through the Parliament this week because of the go slow on Nauru. The first of those bills is the Government’s forced divestiture legislation otherwise known as the “big stick” on Energy. So what is divestment, (3) says divestment is the partial or full disposal of a business sale through sale, closure, exchange or bankruptcy. In this case, the government want to use divestment to get power companies to sell assets to other companies to increase competition. That big stick now looks more like a small brush as the government have outsourced those decisions to the courts rather than the hands of the government. As far as an energy policy is concerned it’s more like a damp squib and it opens the government up to privatisation attacks. For the government’s part, they have rubbished these claims and have opened themselves up to a Bob Katter amendment to ensure any divested companies energy supply would not be privatised. The privatisation scare campaign would work as generally to run a profit margin electricity companies will make electricity costs higher when they are privatised.

The other bill that has been put on the back burner is the anti-child discrimination laws for children who are same-sex attracted being kicked out of schools. The proposed laws would stop schools from being able to discriminate against kids who were same-sex attracted by not being able to expel them from schools. The government have moved some amendments to this bill to make the line clearer that schools can still teach to their religious beliefs even if students now can longer be expelled for being same-sex attracted or being a different gender to their birth gender. The argument still to come is in teaching whether schools can continue to sack teachers who are same-sex attracted. That argument still has a way to run because teachers know the religious views of the School they are seeking to teach at and so it seems odd that they would take work in a place that taught doctrine opposite to their lifestyle choice.

From a non-policy point the main issue of the week was Craig Kelly’s ongoing membership of the Liberal Party. There were some indications that Craig Kelly would move to the cross-bench if he did not win re-endorsement for his seat. When it looked like Craig Kelly would be saved Malcolm Turnbull intervened to say this was a cowardice move to give in to threats and blackmail. Now I would make a few points on Turnbull’s intervention, firstly he didn’t stand up to the likes of Craig Kelly on energy policy in relation to the NEG, secondly his intervention put him in contrast with the sitting Prime Minister and from there on in the Liberal State branch voted to re-endorse all sitting members.

So what will happen from here? Well, last week I neglected to mention that the Government effectively locked into an election date in May with an early April Budget. Now there are some thoughts that the government are so worried about the Nauru issue and losing that vote in Parliament which they will come February once the house sits again that they are contemplating an early March election to avoid having to sit as a government again.

Thank you for reading my blog, my next post will be if there is something important from the Labor conference next week or if things get exciting with the Brexit vote next week.

References

(1): https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-29/kerryn-phelps-crossbench-mps-senators-children-nauru/10566626

(2): http://theconversation.com/the-governments-encryption-laws-finally-passed-despite-concerns-over-security-108409

 

Victorian Election Results summary and another crazy week in Parliament

I’ve been sitting on writing a blog on the Victorian Election for a while but wanted to wait for the Results to be clearer in a number of close seats. I then also wanted to wait for the end of what has been another eventful week in Parliament. In this blog I will discuss the Daniel Andrew’s landslide Labor win as well as why it happened, then I will discuss the defection of Julia Banks to the cross-bench and some of the other things that happened in Parliament this week.

So currently according to (1) Labor have won 53 seats, the LNP have won 24 seats, Greens have won 1 seat and Independents have won 2 seats. That leaves 8 seats in doubt with the Labor and LNP in front in 3 of those seats each and then the Greens and Independents in front in one seat each. The in-doubt seats are:
Bayswater: Labor are in front by 266 votes and that is likely going to hold.

Benambra: Liberals are in front by 226 votes and generally late voting favours the Liberal Party.

Brunswick: Greens are 420 votes ahead and absentee votes which tend to come last tend to favour the Greens.

Caulfield: Liberals are ahead by 26 votes and this vote is genuinely too close to call. Absentees could favour the Labor Party.

Hawthorn: The real shock result from the night where Labor on an 8.8% swing looks set to take the seat now being in front by 154 votes. Late voting here is favouring the Labor Party.

Mildura: Late counting here has really favoured the Incumbent but a 332 vote lead might be too much too overcome.

Prahan: Labor currently holds a 1% lead over the Greens for the second spot and whoever finishes second will win on the other parties preferences over the Liberal Candidate who is currently in first. You’d probably favour the Labor candidate at this point.

Ripon: One of the best results for the LNP this election restricting their 0.8% lead to a 0.7% swing against them. They currently hold a 71 vote lead and have been doing better on late counting than what was at first projected.

So if the leads in the seats listed above hold then Labor will end up with 56 seats, LNP 27 seats, Greens 2 and Independents 3. For the Labor Party that represents them picking up 11 seats since the last election, the LNP losing 10 seats, the Greens losing a seat and Independents staying in the same position gaining Mildura but losing the Labor seat that was held by a Labor turned independent. The Upper House has been a dogs breakfast with Labor gaining 3 seats from the Liberal National Party, 2 Shooters Fishers and Farmers, The Greens have gone from 3 to 1, Fiona Patton Reason Party formerly known as the Sex Party has 1 seat and then 9 Independent micro parties have won seats thanks to preference harvesting and Above the Line voting. Those 9 micro party seats are made up of 2 Transport Matters Party which is a party opposed to the deregulation of the car-sharing industry allowed hire companies like Uber to compete with taxis, 2 Animal Justice Party which are an extreme version of the Greens, 3 Derryn Hinch Party members who are pro tough law and order parties and all for the publication of sex offenders members, 1 Liberal Democrat who are an extreme right party who want guns, sex and drugs! and 1 Sustainable Australia member who is an anti-population growth party.

So why did the Labor Party do so well at the Election? Well, I think there are a number of factors. Firstly the leaders, Daniel Andrews was a popular Premier who had campaigned well and knew how to connect to the people. Meanwhile, Matthew Guy came across as a tough guy and aloof and just never cut through to the public. On the Liberal policy front, they tried to run a Law and Order policy front when Hospitals and Education were the focus of the public’s mind. On those fronts, the Government had made big funding contributions and they also contributed strongly to Transport and Infrastructure spending which provides visual signs of what the Andrews government had achieved in their term of government. The Federal Liberal Party’s instability also would not have helped with the leadership turmoil of going from Turnbull to Morrison hurting the Liberal’s particularly in their heartland. It didn’t help that Matthew Guy has a lot of similarities to Peter Dutton in that he is strong on Law and Order and strong on Social Conservative issues but you don’t hear enough about their economic credentials, indeed what you do hear is almost protectionist which is not core Liberal values. I think it is also fair to say that Victoria is now a progressive state and so Daniel Andrews running a progressive policy went down well with the voters. A worry for the Liberal Party now is Victorian Federal seats and all of the sudden the seats that now are in play for the Labor Party. Seats like Kelly O’Dwyer seat of Higgins is a real seat in play for Labor now and that would be a huge generational loss for the Liberal Party.

Federally it has been another disastrous week for the Liberal Party with Julia Banks announcing her move to the cross-bench from the Liberal Party. A full copy of her speech can be found in (2) but essentially she sighted the change of the Liberal Party from being one of a centre-right party to one that is protectionist and just chases the latest reactionary right value.  Julia Banks was the leading member of Parliament who had called out the bullying that occurred in the leadership spill that toppled Malcolm Turnbull. She invoked that spirit in her speech to say that only when there are more women in Parliament can culture change, she also said women are strong and resilient and able to put up with the cut throatiness of politics despite what others might imply.  Having moved to the cross-bench and with Tony Paisin kicked out of Parliament Banks and the other centrist Independents decided to abstain from a suspension motion which shows that she is not just going to vote with the Government. The Government won this particular suspension motion but with only 74 seats out of 150, it only seems a matter of time before they lose a vote.

There were two other bits of major news this week Parliament wise, one was the release of the Parliamentary sitting calendar for 2019 and one was the passing of an intention to have a Federal ICAC. So the sitting calendar was released as a draft volume by Christopher Pyne and assuming the Election is held on the 18th of May the House will only sit for 10 days in the first half of the year. Labor went straight on the attack and said the Parliament was going to be a part-time Parliament and that MPs were not owning their pay. Now that ignores all of the local work an MP does when they are back in their electorate but I don’t think the Government need all of March to prepare for the budget. In the Senate, the Opposition and most of the cross-bench voted together to add a few extra days of estimates to make sure the Opposition and cross-bench could properly scrutinise the budget. On Monday this week, the Government voted to pass a private members motion to have a debate on Cathy McGowan’s bill to introduce a Federal Anti-Corruption Bureau. Now the Liberal Party may have voted to pass the motion but they have issues with the bill saying that under the proposed bill Andrew Probyn an ABC employer would be technically found in breach of the act. (3) has a good summary of the bill which would have retrospective powers to compel witnesses to give evidence to the commission even if they are ministers. The commission would also provide protection to whistleblowers who wish to come forward with evidence against corrupt bodies. The Government for their part are claiming to be working on their own Anti Corruption body and so it will be interesting to see if they look to introduce that measure sooner rather than later to be seen as leading on this issue rather than following.

Thank you for reading my blog, stay tuned next week for my take on the final sitting week of Parliament for the year.

 

References

(1): https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/vic-election-2018/results/

(2): https://twitter.com/jacksongs/status/1067231273012224000/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fnews%2F2018-11-28%2Fpatricia-karvelas-julia-banks-australian-parliament-liberals%2F10560914

(3): https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/23/build-culture-integrity-coalition-urged-to-adopt-federal-icac-proposal

Victorian Election Preview and Gerrymandering in the US

With the Victorian Election less than one week away I thought now was a good time to write about what I think will happen. Also from my last blog post, there was a question on Gerrymandering in the US so I will talk about that as well and Gerrymandering in general.

On the 24th of November Victorian’s head to the polls to determine if the Andrew’s government will be reelected. Going into the Election the Labor Party have 45 seats, the Liberal’s have 37 seats and the Greens have 3 seats, in an 88 member House that means there are 3 Independents (1). Since the last election that represents a change in the numbers that Labor, Liberal and the Greens had as 1 Labor member had to resign because of travel expenses regarding to Living outside his electorate when he actually had a property within his electorate as well (Politicians are able to claim extra Travel Allowance if they live outside their electorate). Another Labor MP sadly lost their battle with cancer and the Labor Party lost their seat in the by-election to the Greens. On the Liberal side, an MP moved to the cross-bench after it was revealed he was battling mental health issues.

The key issues for this election are the Economy where Daniel Andrews can trumpet a growing Economy and strong jobs numbers. Indeed according to (2) the Victorian Government can now boast having the strongest Economy in Australia largely thanks to a strong Housing and Construction market. The Andrews government can also point to more funding in Education and Health with more funding for new schools to keep up on population growth, more special schools to help educate those with special needs and a spending boost for kindergartens which will be important with the Federal Labor plan to introduce schooling for three-year-olds. On the Health front, there is more spending for Hospitals and a particular spending boost to treat Mental Health particularly with the Ice and drug addiction scourge. Infrastructure is something that Labor can also point to as they have started a number of new projects for Rail and road building as well as the introduction of the Thirty-year plan. The Infrastructure thirty-year plan can be found in (3). Cost of living continues to be an issue for Victorians particularly for first home buyers and there is a battle between how much more do you invest to make city living more affordable versus making rural areas more liveable to disperse some of the population sprawl. Aside from cost of living pressures, the main issue in the Election is crime. Here the Liberal Party think they are on a winner with a number of violent crimes since the last Election. The Liberal Party particularly have focussed on African gang crime and while the numbers bear out that there is an overrepresentation of crime by that ethnic group I am always uneasy with focussing on one group and not on crime in general. On the crime front, the recent Terrorist attack has unfortunately been politicised by some to again call out for Muslim leaders to control their own. Now as the profile of terrorists changes for a younger generation it is questionable how much reach leaders have to stop the extremism of would-be terrorists. (3) lays out some of the plans Liberal have to fight crime and while they look good at dot points, being able to implement any of these policies is another matter altogether. An issue that Labor is also trying to push is the Federal dramas that the Liberal Party have faced with advertising linking Matthew Guy to some of the more unpopular decisions of the Federal Liberal Party. Certainly, the leadership spill has meant that Matthew Guy has not had the clear air often enough recently to get his policies out with more focus going on the Federal Party. I also think the experience that Daniel Andrews has gained from 8 years as Labor leader counts for something against Guy who is still relatively unknown.

Looking at the lay of the policies and where the Election is being fought it would be hard to predict anything other than a Labor returned government. Indeed that is what I’m predicting and I’m following the various polls that are predicting between a 2-4 percent swing to Labor in this Election. If that occurred and if the swing is uniform then that would leave 5 seats in play. There is also a mood for change in the rural areas that are being picked up which leaves a further three seats at least up for grabs by Independents off the Liberal Party. That would mean that the Liberal Party would have to get more seats off Labor to win a majority government. (4) provides a very good Election preview by Electoral Yoda Antony Green, specifically that the Liberal Party need a 3% uniform swing to win office and Labor need to avoid a 0.7% swing to the Coalition or 2.2% swing to the Greens to avoid minority government. A few of the key seats from either side of the Parliament are Frankston the Labor Parties most marginal seat which has been polled per (5) with the Labor and Liberal vote close and then the Greens taking the Labor Party to a narrow lead. Frankston was a controversial seat in 2014 when the Independent Geoff Shaw stood in that seat after being expelled by the Liberal Party. On the Liberal side is the seat of Morwell which is a dog’s breakfast of a seat with A Nationals member, Liberal, Labor, Independent and former Palmer and Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir now standing for the Shooters and Fishers Party all trying to win the seat. Betting agents have the current Nationals turned Independent as the favourite to win this seat. On the Greens front is the seat of Prahran help by the Greens over the Liberal Party by 0.4%. Per (6) polling suggests the Liberal vote has crashed and the Labor candidate is well in place to win the seat. As for a prediction of seats, I think Labor will win 3 seats from the Liberal Party, 1 seat from the Greens and I think the Independents will win 2 seats from the Liberal Party, I expect Labor will rewin Don Nardella’s seat back. That would leave a seat count of 50 Labor, 32 Liberal, 4 Independents and 2 Greens.

Onto Gerrymandering and before I move onto the US example of gerrymandering I will first give a definition and some Australian examples. So Gerrymandering is one party manipulating the boundaries of the political voting map to favour one party or class of people. Two examples of Gerrymandering in Australia are the South Australian government in the mid-1900’s and the Queensland Government under Joh Bjelke-Petersen. From (7) is a good article on the Playmander as it was referred to that weighted the country seats 2 to every city seat which given where the Liberal vote was strongest ensured a Playford government in perpetuity. After the gerrymandering was reversed the Liberal Party struggled to win office with a constant ability to win the 2PP vote but that not be reflected by winning office as they over-performed in rural seats. In Queensland Labor gerrymandered seats to favour their Party in their time of office in the 1940’s but when Joh Bjelke-Petersen took office he Gerrymandered seats in the Nationals favour creating new seats in the Country and changing boundaries of his seats to stay National inclined by making Labor seats bigger and more Labor inclined and shrinking the size of National’s seats to make sure they stayed in his hand. Per (8) the worst example of gerrymandering occurred when Joh only won 20% of the vote but managed to win 26 rural seats and alongside the Liberal’s 21 inner city seats well outmatched the Labor Party even though they won more votes.

Gerrymandering in the USA has its roots set by 1812 Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry who redrew his electorate too heavily favour his Republican Party (9). In America, Gerrymandering is more easily done than Australia because Congress has control of determining Electoral boundaries rather than the Independent Electoral Commission that now governs The Australian electorate boundaries. Americans typically use two strategies of gerrymandering either squeezing all voters in one area and thus leaving the other areas clear for the other side to win those seats or they disperse them thinly amongst many areas leaving them to not be widely represented enough to win any seats. In 2010 per (10) the Republican’s did their own version of Gerrymandering by winning key marginal seats and then redrawing the states in such a way that they were almost guaranteed to win the next election. An example of this was in Pennsylvania where the Democrats won 50% of the vote but only captured 30% of the house seats on offer. Now some will argue that this is because there is a divide in how Democrats vote and the big cities will always out of proportion vote Democrat as opposed to the smaller areas that will vote more Republican. Another example given by (11) is North Carolina where in 2016 Republican’s won 53% of the statewide vote but they won 10 out of 13 house seats.

Related image

So how do the 2018 Midterms change the game for Gerrymandering? For some states, they had a direct say in the future of gerrymandering where the states of Michigan, Missouri and Colorado voted to either introduce independent boundary drawers or severely limit the ability of one party to draw up boundary lines. That is a key timing for these rule changes as in 2020 there is a US Census and from that Census new electoral boundaries will be drawn for the 2022 Midterm Election. Obviously, the Democrats gaining control of the house now and assuming they do well in 2020 (Usually the case when the President is of the opposite Party persuasion) then they will have a say in more of the state distribution for that 2021 boundary redrawing.

Thank you for reading my blog. Look out in just over a week for my review of the Victorian Election.

References

(1): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_state_election,_2018

(2): https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-30/victoria-displaces-nsw-as-nations-strongest-economy/10050678

(3): http://infrastructurevictoria.com.au/sites/default/files/images/IV_30_Year_Strategy_WEB_V2.pdf

(4): https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-04/election-preview/10143824

(5): https://www.pollbludger.net/2018/11/13/yougov-galaxy-52-48-labor-mordialloc-51-49-frankston/

(6): https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/labor-on-track-to-ride-to-victory-in-prahran-after-bike-lane-pledge-20181023-p50bgj.html

(7): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playmander

(8): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjelkemander

(9): http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/5600/5688/gerrymander_1.htm

(10): https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/a-cancer-on-democracy-the-battle-to-end-gerrymandering-in-america-20181116-p50gdk.html

(11): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/01/10/how-north-carolina-republicans-almost-got-away-with-their-egregious-gerrymander/?utm_term=.7f336c50443d

US Midterm Election Results Analysis

Wednesday our time and Tuesday over in America saw the American people go and vote. While the result did not see the blue wave of results that Democrat supporters hoped for it did see a comprehensive result in the House of Representatives with a swing of 8%. Meanwhile in the Senate, the Republicans have maintained their majority and might even improve on their position having won Senate seats off the Democrats. In this blog, I will break down the results of the US Midterm Elections and then some of the analysis as to what these results mean for the future particularly in 2020.

So as of today the results in the House of Representatives are 226 seats to the Democrats and 198 seats to the Republicans and the Senate is 51 Republican seats to 46 Democrat seats per (1). That leaves 11 seats in doubt in the House and 3 seats in the Senate still to be determined. (2) gives a good summary of the current race position. So in the 11 seats in doubt in the House, the Democrats are ahead in 8 of them meaning they can probably get to a 17 seat majority. In the Senate, the Democrats are ahead in one of the races and the Republicans are probably favoured in the other 2 races meaning they will probably keep their plus 2 seat gain that they are currently projecting to gain. So how did the Democrats win the House? One answer also from Nate Silver is the suburban-rural divide from (3). So the vast majority of the Democrat gains came from more Suburban areas to go along with the seats in the Urban areas that already go very heavily to the Democrats. Indeed the popular vote being won so heavily by Democrats is mostly explained by the Democrats running up the vote in the highly populated cities of America such as LA, Philadelphia and New York. Another issue for the House particularly was how white people voted. One of the surprises in 2016 was despite the outlandish statements of Donald Trump women as a whole were not repulsed by those comments and still voted for Trump in high amounts particularly if they were not college educated. With that in mind, the breakdown offered in (4) is intriguing. 4 really does show a country divided by education level and gender in that if you are a college educated female you voted for the Democrats in droves while if you were an uneducated male then you voted for the Democrats in droves. Again though amongst female uneducated they also voted for the Republicans slightly more than the Democrats apart from the South where the divide was clearer in Republican favour. The last divide to look at in the House race is the ethnic divide. In an ever-increasing African American community in some states particularly I think the Republican’s should be concerned about (5) which shows them breaking 90%!!! in favour of the Democrats. Hispanics who famously helped win Trump Florida in 2016 again broke largely in favour of the Democrats and the demographic that is also growing that is undersold to most is the Asian American community who also broke in favour of Democrats. Again I would be interested in the correlations between ethnicity and some of the earlier breakdowns I mentioned because I would not be surprised if there was some intercorrelation at play, i.e Asian Educated Females are even more likely to vote Democrat than a White Educated Female for instance. The last thing to look at is the voter turnout and as expected voter turnout increased by 30 million people. I think the breakdown of voter turnout in (6) by state is interesting.

BEFORE AFTER
CITYLAB CATEGORY DEM. SEATS GOP SEATS DEM. SEATS GOP SEATS TBD DEM. PICKUPS SHARE OF DEM. PICKUPS
Sparse Suburban 35 51 50 35 1 +15 42%
Dense Suburban 56 27 68 15 0 +12 33
Urban-Suburban 41 7 46 1 1 +5 14
Rural-Suburban 21 93 24 90 0 +3 8
Pure Urban 33 1 34 0 0 +1 3
Pure Rural 9 61 9 60 1 0 0
Total 195 240 231 201 3 +36 100

Race

White (72%)
44%
54%
Black (11%)
90%
Hispanic/Latino (11%)
69%
29%
Asian (3%)
77%
23%
Other (3%)
54%
42%

As to how the Senate was won, the simple fact is that it was always going to be a hard night for the Democrats. Going into the night the Republicans had 42 of their 51 seats not up for contest meaning they had less ground to lose than the Democrats who had to defend 26 of their seats. Now in those 26 seats, 10 of them came in states that Donald Trump won in 2016. Given (7) outlines that 86% of people chose to vote the same in Senate races versus how they voted in 2016 it was always going to be hard for the Democrats to win those seats and indeed it looks like they may lose 5 of those defended states that Trump won in 2016. What is of slight concern to Trump though is that the Senators for the Democrats defending their rust belt seats that Trump won in 2016 such as in Pennsylvania and Ohio managed to keep their seats which maybe of some comfort to the Democrats that they can retake these states in 2020.

So in terms of what can be taken from these results it was an interesting night in that Democrats can point to a healthy House win to say it was a good night for them while Republicans can point to a good night in the Senate and say it was a good night for them. The Republicans can also say their results are comparable to Obama in 2010 and Bill Clinton in 1994 who went onto win comfortable second terms in office. By winning the House the Democrats have won some powers to be able to start impeachment processes and go after Donald Trump on issues like Russia and his tax returns but the Republicans keeping the Senate limits what the Democrats can do long term. They can also block some of Donald Trump’s planned legislation on some of the more contentious policy issues such as Immigration and Health care. They can also frustrate the Republican’s progress on the Economy and cause a government shutdown if the debt passes the debt ceiling again. My caution to that is that you may be playing into Trump’s hands by giving somebody to blame if he doesn’t get progress done. (8) is a good article that goes through the Election result and has a good point in that there’s nothing Trump has done in the last two years to change the minds of the 227 electoral voters who went with Hilary Clinton. My obvious counter to that is what has the Democrats done in the last two years to convince the 304 electoral voters that they are a better choice than Donald Trump. In many ways, this was a status quo election where the Blue States either stayed the same or went bluer and Republican States stayed roughly the same. For what its worth I’ve said since Trump won in 2016 that I think Trump is staying in office for the full eight years and I haven’t changed that prediction in the last 2 years.

Thank you for reading my blog, stay tuned next week as I preview the Victorian Election and give my prediction for what will happen.

 

References

(1): https://ig.ft.com/us-midterm-elections/

(2):https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-16-races-still-too-close-to-call/

(3): https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-suburbs-all-kinds-of-suburbs-delivered-the-house-to-democrats/

(4): https://twitter.com/b_schaffner/status/1059942613766361090/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1059942613766361090&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2Fmidterm-elections%2F2018%2F11%2F7%2F18068486%2Fmidterm-election-2018-results-race-surburb

(5): https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2018-election/midterms

(6): https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/09/heres-how-your-state-turned-out-to-vote-in-the-midterm-election.html

(7): https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-republicans-made-gains-in-the-senate/

(8): https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/10/donald-trump-midterm-elections-2020-democrats-republicans