Home > Oz Politics > Saving the Senate

Saving the Senate

March 25th, 2013

Discussion over the Labor leadership, and the government in general, is now academic, in the pejorative sense of the term. Barring a shock on a larger scale than that of 2001, Abbott is going to win the election, whenever it is held, and win it easily. Nothing Labor does or doesn’t do can make any real difference now.

At this point, the only issue to be considered is whether he can be stopped from gaining control of the Senate. Labor and the Greens have 21 seats from 2010, and Labor can be assured of 1 each in the territories (there’s a perennial hope that a Green or independent will win the second ACT seat, but I’m not counting on it. That means they need to win a combined 3 seats in every state for a majority, and can block legislation if they win 3 in at least five states.

Appalling as Labor’s situation is, they should still muster enough support for two senators in each state, but have (AFAICT) no realistic chance of getting three anywhere. So, what’s needed is to elect a Green in every state.

What can be done to achieve this? The first requirement is that the geniuses who run Labor’s preference strategies should not pull the stunts they have in the past, cutting deals with rightwing independents in the futile hope of adding one to their numbers. If anyone reading this has any influence in this respect, they should exercise it now.

The second is to make a positive case for the Greens that will appeal to people who don’t like Abbott, but can no longer justify a vote for Labor. In my view, the Greens are now the real inheritors of the best traditions of Labor, as opposed to the kind of hardhat/HiVizVest posturing that passes for “Labor values” in the ALP. But that case needs to be spelt out for voters who are understandably turned off by the entire political scene.

Suggestions welcome

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  1. Pete Moran
    March 25th, 2013 at 14:07 | #1

    This gets to the heart of it I think.

    The lower house is gone, but the Senate has to be the battle ground. The Greens need support to do it however, big time.

  2. Doug
    March 25th, 2013 at 14:35 | #2

    An acknowledgement by the ALP that people voting Green are fellow Australians with substantive policy concerns would be a nice start, not abused as a group of unAustralian weirdos because they don’t accept the divine right of the ALP to rule and as the source of all policy wisdom.

  3. Ken_L
    March 25th, 2013 at 14:47 | #3

    ‘ …academic, in the pejorative sense of the term …’

    Once the conservatives get in, that will be the only widely accepted sense of the term.

  4. Jim Rose
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:09 | #4

    see http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2013/03/could-western-australia-deliver-the-coalition-control-of-the-senate.html for a great post showing that the WA Nats could win the 4th senate seat in WA. Libs should get 3 quotas, and Labor 2.

    In 2010, the greens and Christian democrats fought it out for the last seat!! the Christian democrats are separate from family first.

    what labour does is of little importance because their vote is so low that there will be little surplus over 2 quotas for them to direct many preferences

    These parties and Nick No Pokies will end up with the balance of power because they appeal to social conservatives and economic nationalists across the spectrum.

    Three libs senators elected in each state will put them at 36 after 2013. DLP and Nick No Pokies is a tie already.

    all hinges on a WA Nat getting the 4th seat in WA or katter’s mob taking the loast seat in Qld from the greens.

    the cross-benches controlling the senate is real chance and a 38:38 tie is almost assured.

  5. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:20 | #5


    Droll, Ken_L, very droll. Also true.

  6. may
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:32 | #6

    here in the west, talking to people who attended public debates,

    the story emerges that the liberal and national candidates were conspicuous by their absence.

    the libnat policy was ‘no public utterances whatsoever”.

    the broadcasters take on election issues were the stadium for packer and transport.

    ad nauseum repetition.

    the possibility of public concern having visibility and discussion in many,many areas was quite simply,


    at the booths, labor,green and independents were manned by volunteers and the libnats had,according to unsubstantiated word,paid agents coming from as far away as the eastern states.

    did they really have to pay people to do what everybody else did gratis?
    if so,how many?
    how much?

    the booths were plastered with posters in red,gold and black picturing devastation overlain with the words,
    labor is a mess.

    as far as the greens go,elevating the mideast mess and minority kinship contracts to the top of the policy priority list is not what people who vote green are looking for.

    the ready availability of fresh,local unpoisoned food from people who can actually make a living supplying it.
    lets face it,when the oranges from usa and the asparagus from peru have competed the locals into non existance,where is our freedom of choice then?

    labelling food so at least we can see if there is any patented genetically modified componant.
    being a guinea pig is something people generally volunteer for.
    being an unknowing guinea pig in the name of “commercial in confidence” and (so called)free market ideology is like something out of a totalitarian nightmare.

    the protection and maintainance of clean water systems.

    ensuring the existence of flora and fauna under the predatorcorp pump.
    farmland integrity–a huge area from salinisation to soil remediation to—–


  7. Hermit
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:43 | #7

    An increased Greens vote seems unlikely given the trend in state elections and the departure of Bob Brown. My inclination would be to vote for pragmatic independents. However if this kind of vote is spread too thin it might gift Senate seats to the acolytes from the major parties. I suspect a great many people don’t want Abbott getting control and will consider all voting options.

  8. David Allen
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:44 | #8

    Gillard’s labor have spend months bagging the greens as ‘worse than hitler’ and you think they will promote them now?

  9. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:45 | #9

    Well may God save the Queen, because nothing will save this country now.

  10. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:48 | #10


    Yeah, who is making our food now? Weyland-Yutani, Stark Corp or Cyberdyne?

  11. michaelfstanley
    March 25th, 2013 at 16:33 | #11

    John I hope you’re advice filters to Labor’s powerbrokers, but I’m not convinced a lot of them share your concern.

    I think there’s still a healthy component within Labor’s senior ranks who’d rather see an Abbott government have the Senate than have to co-ordinate a resistance to it with the Greens. Partly ideological preference*, but also from tactical considerations. Spare Labor the internal fight over voting to end the ETS and maybe even get an early Coalition overreach to campaign against in 2016 (Workchoices II?).

    * – Today a founding member of the Lavoisier group was made resources minister, so it goes

  12. paul walter
    March 25th, 2013 at 16:55 | #12

    If we agree with the thread starter, what can we say or do?
    A huge turn off is politics and the cabinet reshuffle didn’t help.
    It’s true my visa for Finland isnt ready yet, so had better make sure am up to speed re Prozac scrip in the meantime

  13. March 25th, 2013 at 17:33 | #13

    The Lib/Nats currently have 34 seats. In both SA and Tas, they only have 2 incumbents coming up for re-election, so if they win 3 out of 6 iin both these states (and retain 3 in the rest) they willl be up to 36, 2 short of a tie which can block but not pass measures. The DLP guy is not up for election this time, while Senator Xenophon is.

    I think the Libs are highly to get 3 seats in Tassie this time around. Xenophon was the reso they only won 2 out of 6 seats in 2007, and it’s possible that that may be repeated if Xenophon gets a similar vote as last time, as he clearly takes votes from both Labor & Libs.

    If the Katter Party win a seat in Qld, which is a real possibility, then the Libs could have enough to get control of the Senate in conjunction with DLP and Katter Party. Despite Bob Katter’s reputation as a maverick, his record shows a very consistent rightward lean.

    So in the context of the Senate numbers, the real challenge in stopping the Lib/Nats having effective control of the Senate, needing only to occasionally appease a couple of arch-conservatives is to ensure Katter doesn’t win a Senate spot in Qld and the Libs don’t win 4 out of 6 in WA or 3 out of 6 in SA.

    Whilst their supporter bases have very little overlap, in a real sense the Greens are competing directly against Katter in Qld for Senate balance of power – a bit like the Democrats were competing directly against Pauline Hanson in the Senate in 1998.

    Speaking of which, there have been reports that Hanson is planning to have another tilt at the Senate in Qld. Whilst presumably the Libs – along with ALP & Greens – will still put her close to last, it is quite lausible that the Katter Party will treat her favourably with regards to preferences. She could well get around 4 or 5%. If she can get preferences of some of the minor right wing parties like Shooters & Fishers she might be able stay in the count long enough to get ahead of the Katter Party and surf in on their preferences.

    Having said all that, I think Katter Party is the real risk in Qld when it comes to right-wing control of the Senate. I’d be surprised if the Katter Party does very well in any other states.

  14. Totaram
    March 25th, 2013 at 17:45 | #14

    “Discussion over the Labor leadership, and the government in general, is now academic, in the pejorative sense of the term. Barring a shock on a larger scale than that of 2001, Abbott is going to win the election, whenever it is held, and win it easily. Nothing Labor does or doesn’t do can make any real difference now.”

    Any evidence for this view from historical data, so far out from the election? I have hearsay evidence that some who won previous elections were in a similar situation.

    And, if a founding member of the Lavoisier group (is this true? I can’t find the evidence) is now resources minister what’s left? Only the Greens! Is labor really so far gone? Or will the leopard (Gary Gray) change spots?

  15. March 25th, 2013 at 17:55 | #15

    The good news is that rooftop solar is a genie that isn’t about to go back in the bottle. The bad news is any further delay in reducing fossil fuel use will cost lives. Most of those lives will lost in poor countries, but I think human life is worth preserving even if the lives being preserved are of those of people who don’t make very much money. I guess that makes me some sort of communist or something? (I’m not really up to date on the terminology.) Anyway, if at the very least the Senate could be controlled by people who understand that there are significant externalities to the use of fossil fuels instead of peple who try to make the existence of externalities disapear via a triumph of the will, that would be nice.

  16. rog
    March 25th, 2013 at 17:57 | #16

    Greens are copping a lot of flak from all quarters but if it wasn’t for the Greens sticking to the guns there woud be no ETS.

    I like this idea of a minority govt and I would be happy if Abbott was made to deal with the indies and minorities to form govt.

  17. March 25th, 2013 at 18:01 | #17

    I should have mentioned that there is an outside chance the Greens could win a seat off the Libs in the ACT. In effect, this contest comes down to whether or not the Libs can get a quota (approx 33.3%). They have always managed this, although on a couple of occasions only just.

    I would normally think it would be unlikely, but if the Libs go ahead with replacing incumbent Gary Humphries with the much more rght-wing Zed Seselja, its a bit more likely that enough Libs will defect to someone else (it doesn’t matter much who they defect to, as it still has the effect of dropping their primary vote lower than a quota).

  18. John Quiggin
    March 25th, 2013 at 18:10 | #18

    “Any evidence for this view from historical data, so far out from the election?”

    Sure – look at other governments that have been this far behind in the polls, consistently for two or more years, and see how they did. Qld and NSW provide recent examples. Six months out (if the government lasts that long) polls aren’t usually as far off as they would need to be in this case.

    And that leaves out the catastrophic state of the government. Can you recall a government that’s had a mass sacking of ministers in an election year and won?

  19. John Quiggin
    March 25th, 2013 at 18:14 | #19

    @Andrew Bartlett

    Even with Katter in Qld and 4/6 in WA, 3/6 in SA and Tas, they would not be able to pass (or repeal) legislation. I guess they will be held to 3/6 in Victoria, as well as SA & Tas, so NSW becomes critical, as does the outside chance you mention in the ACT

  20. Salient Green
    March 25th, 2013 at 18:27 | #20

    I agree with may #6.
    Assylum seeker policy is banging head against the brick wall of bigotry. We fought a good fight alongside the best QC’s, psychologists, social workers, documentary makers etc and nothing could shift the major parties execrable policies and we suffered for it.
    Gay marriage is inevitable and the majors look silly in their stance against it. We have more important fights.
    Fair trade as opposed to ‘free’ trade is our policy and underpins everything may said about locally produced, safe, nutritious, sustainable, food, creating local jobs and local wealth.
    Our environmental achievements and goals need to be front and centre again.
    Labour is good at hypocrisy and so I’m sure they could cheerfully support the Greens at such endeavours if they could see a few votes in it for themselves but I can’t see them doing it for the good of the nation.

  21. Paul Norton
    March 25th, 2013 at 19:42 | #21

    John and Andrew B are right about the importance of trying to ensure 3 combined Labor/Green in as many states as possible, and that this amounts in practice to trying to get Greens Senators elected.

    It also needs to be remembered that the Senate vacancies up for election this year are those that were elected in 2007, so the benchmark for assessing the Greens’ prospect is not 2010 (which the Greens are slightly down on in the polls) but 2007 (which the Greens are well up on, especially in Victoria).

    Michael @11, I think it is true that there are no shortage of people within the ALP with tinpot plans to restore Labor’s place as TEH ONLY ALTERNATIVE to the Coalition, and that some such plans envisage the choreographing of a Great Polarisation of absolute right-wing dominance to which people will “inevitably” respond by running back under the Labor umbrella. If signs of such an exercise emerge, I think it will be necessary for us to have historically and psephologically informed arguments to put to decent Labor people as to why such plans will fail in their own terms, and will bring much woe and affliction besides.

  22. Chris Warren
    March 25th, 2013 at 20:22 | #22

    @Andrew Bartlett

    This is right except the primary vote is not critical. Liberals can get a quota later in the count by a combination of receiving a flow of surplus (at proportionate values) and preferences from other excluded Tory candidates (at full value).

    So if the Liberals get 25% primary vote but a Katter-candidate gets 10%, then it is possible that Liberals retain their seat, if their 25% is greater than ALP’s remaining candidate. In September the ALP candidates are Kate Lundy (Left) and Chris Sant (Right).

    I expect that Sant will be excluded quickly or half way through the count even after receiving Lundy’s surplus.

    It would be worthwhile for the Liberals to pay Bob Katter to run a candidate in the ACT to protect their candidate and thereby shut the Greens out.

  23. Mel
    March 25th, 2013 at 21:18 | #23


    “In my view, the Greens are now the real inheritors of the best traditions of Labor, as opposed to the kind of hardhat/HiVizVest posturing that passes for “Labor values” in the ALP.”

    Do you mean the anti-GMO policy? I think I’d prefer the hardhats over tinkerbell. You’ve argued yourself against this anti-GMO nonsense. Are you now backtracking?

    I agree with 90% of Greens policy but no one should vote for them while they have anti-science policies and run anti-science candidates. As I noted on another thread, they are still even running anti-fluoride candidates at the state level for God’s sake. They have it right on AGW, but one out of three is not good enough (1).

    (1) The anti-fluoride activism doesn’t extend to the federal sphere AFAIK but since fluoridation is a state issue it does not matter.

  24. Pete Moran
    March 25th, 2013 at 21:28 | #24

    @ Mel

    “(The Greens) are still even running anti-fluoride candidates at the state level for God’s sake.”

    Can you back that up? I’m in Western Australia and am familiar with just about every individual Green member who ran in the recent State Election and not one of them was anti-fluoridation.

  25. Chris Warren
    March 25th, 2013 at 22:23 | #25


    So are you in the business of selling fluoride products to children?

  26. paul walter
    March 25th, 2013 at 23:00 | #26

    @Paul Norton
    That would be the reshuffle, an example of never a bad deed unrewarded.

  27. Chris Harris
    March 25th, 2013 at 23:08 | #27

    Mel, if you don’t want to support parties with anti-science policies that would rule out voting for the coalition parties and Labor since neither seem prepared to back the science of climate change with any degree of sincerity. Half the coalition are firmly opposed and Labor pays only lip service – if you believe the science you wouldn’t be allowing a single new coal mine….so how far does your commitment to science go. Besides since when did science (GMOs) involve releasing untested substances into the environment? You only have to look at all the instances to contamination, let alone things such as increasing pesticide resistance to understand why people oppose GMOs. And what do we need it for? To feed the world. Hardly most starvation is caused by (a) wars (b) developed world greed (c) inadequate infrastructure such as in India.

  28. campidg
    March 25th, 2013 at 23:59 | #28

    This is indeed the task the Greens face in the coming election. It’s as fustrating as ever to see people in the comments list who generally like our policies and say they would vote Greens but pick out a hand full our policies as justification for not doing so. Do they place such demands for universal policy perfection on the old parties? What are we supposed to do when even our potential supporters show such irrational thinking?

  29. Mel
    March 26th, 2013 at 02:04 | #29


    Christine Milne is rabidly opposed to GMO, seemingly much more so than Bob Brown. This is a serious black stain on the Greens. It is simply unforgiveable to oppose a technology that may (or may not, we can’t tell yet) yield benefits approximating the Green Revolution.

    I’ll be putting the ALP first on my ticket at the ballot box after 10 years of flirting with the Greens. I’ll put the Libs last, as I have done all my life.

  30. paul walter
    March 26th, 2013 at 02:21 | #30

    You’re missing the point, Mel.
    As with so many things the major parties have not only avoided science but at times actively worked to stifle scientific information when it conflicts with Greed.
    Secondly, people are aware that Dow and Monsanto work actively to promote gen mod to the point where a monopoly is established, establishing a capacity to dictate price and product to fit with their profitability, if necessary against the well being of those billions of souls you claim they apparently work so selflessly for.

  31. Alan
    March 26th, 2013 at 02:40 | #31

    Newspoll now has the labor primary at 30%. The accepted rule of thumb is that it takes a couple of weeks for an event to reflect fully in the polls, so this does not fully reflect the latest Gillard frolic.

    The 2PP is 58/42. If that figure repeated in September it would be a massacre with Labor struggling to hold 37 seats in the house. It’s worth noting that in NSW and QLD the polling actually understated the extent of the swing to the Coalition.

    But there’s no need to worry because Kevin Rudd is a flawed man.

  32. Mel
    March 26th, 2013 at 04:23 | #32


    “Secondly, people are aware that Dow and Monsanto work actively to promote gen mod to the point where a monopoly is established, establishing a capacity to dictate price and product to fit with their profitability, if necessary against the well being of those billions of souls you claim they apparently work so selflessly for.”

    At the moment poor farmers don’t buy seed. The evil Monsanto can’t make them do so, all they can do is offer a product. Stop reading silly Greenpeace propaganda.

  33. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 04:53 | #33

    @Mel I agree with you on these issues and will post again when I get a bit of time, but they simply aren’t important enough in the context of Oz national politics, to influence my vote. GM crops are already a fact on the ground, as are labelling requirements, which I support. Green senators aren’t going to change this, and I think the same would be true even for a hypothetical Green government. Also, I think the tide of opinion will resolve this problem soon enough, as witness the overwhelmingly hostile reaction to the Greenpeace vandalism stunts here and in the UK (BTW, I just discovered Greenpeace had to pay a $280k fine imposed on the CSIRO vandals, and apparently lost of a lot donations as well – that’s good news).

    As you say, fluoride is a state issue – the Queensland LNP is a much bigger problem here than the Greens.

    On the big questions of climate change, social justice, economic policy, the Greens are more deserving of a vote than Gillard Labor.

    Further discussion of these issues to sandpit/message board please

  34. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 06:03 | #34

    John, the libs will get 3 quotas per state so that is 36 plus the DLP. Katter will get near a quota in qld so he will get in on liberal preferences. That makes a 38 to 38 tie.

    Nick no pokies will get a quota so that makes 39 to 37.

    A wa nat winning the 4th seat makes 40.

  35. Chris Warren
    March 26th, 2013 at 06:49 | #35

    @Jim Rose

    That is possible, but Australians tend to vote differently in the Senate than in other elections.

    For some reason you have ignored the ACT.

  36. J-D
    March 26th, 2013 at 07:01 | #36

    I don’t know why you think it would help the Greens to have the ALP saying nice things about them.

  37. Alan
    March 26th, 2013 at 07:15 | #37

    @Chris Warren

    Split votes are an Australian habit, but they declined considerably in the O’Farrell landslide, which is what you’d expect when so many Labor voters were voting 1 Coalition for the first time in their lives. In the NSW legislative council, the Coalition now holds 19 seats out of 42 and only needs 2 votes from the crossbench to pass legislation.

    Because QLD is unicameral we don’t have any similar data from there.

  38. March 26th, 2013 at 07:20 | #38

    Interestingly, there was lots of negative comment over at Catallaxy threads on Sunday about the performance of Abbott on an interview with Andrew Bolt. (Didn’t see it myself.) While there are strong grounds to be pessimistic about Labor’s electoral prospects, there is also strong reason to expect some significant swing back towards Labor when Coalition policies finally start to be properly announced, analysed, and Abbott has to start promoting and defending them.

    It’s not as if the Coalition is full of media star performers either.

  39. March 26th, 2013 at 07:27 | #39

    The problem with these discussions is that it is hard to see who is voting Greens who is not either switching a vote from Labor, or who will always vote for one or other left-of-centre party. That shuffles around existing 2PP, but does not cut back the LNP’s 2PP margin.

    During 2011, the ALP went from 39 per cent in March to 28 per cent in September. That was roughly the loss of about one million votes. Of those, perhaps 50,000 (one per cent) went to the Greens. The rest went to Tony Abbott. While Labor periodically claws back some of those voters – with the Sept-Dec 2012 performance particularly strong in that respect – they are always at risk of losing them again.

    Given that the “big switch” of 2011 occurred at the time that the carbon tax was introduced, i think it unlikely that much of that constituency would move from the Libs to the Greens.

  40. rog
    March 26th, 2013 at 07:31 | #40

    @Mel From what I can gather the Greens pos on fluoride and other issues is to let voters decide and not be rolled by party machine.

    On this topic NSW govt has just passed a bill removing one’s right to silence, which sits oddly with LNP bleating over freedom of speech wrt media laws.

  41. March 26th, 2013 at 08:54 | #41


    Apparently Gray was at Lavoisier’s “inaugural” meeting and agreed with them but now he’s suddenly discovered that human industrial activity increases carbon pollution.


  42. March 26th, 2013 at 09:56 | #42

    If the Queensland Greens ran a genuine grassroots campaign they could win another senate seat – even in the face of suffocating derision from the elites and/or a media blackout.

    Yesterday, Bob Katter MP popped up at Southport SLSC with KAP Queensland senate candidate Keith Douglas. Crashing the Mayor’s Beach Strategy event, they made it clear KAP oppose a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast Spit or in the Broadwater. This kind of action may not get any mainstream media coverage but it has an effect.


    Where were the Greens?

    What’s happening with the Rainbow Warrior visit? Gladstone/Prof Callum Roberts’ talk at UQ last night? A comment re yesterday’s Bowen to Gladstone CSG pipeline announcement by the Queensland government? The train derailment and zinc spill near Townsville?

    While handing out how to vote cards for the greens at the last state election (I am not a member), many voters said they wanted to join/get involved but when they tried to do so it was too hard.

    I was also told that the booths where the greens maintained a physical presence had an elevated greens vote.

    How is the Katter Party more “right-wing” than either of the major parties in Australia?

    Why is it that the convenor of the Queensland Greens can appear on 612 ABC Brisbane [20/3] to discuss music, but having Queensland Greens senate candidate Adam Stone http://qld.greens.org.au/content/lnp-looks-breach-rights-child on to discuss policy is impossible?

    [Former Senator has done something for the first time in 20 years!: Howson]


    Queensland’s media establishment are laughing at anyone who cares about the environment and social justice.

    Mind you, they’re only doing that because wilful detachment from reality is rendering them increasingly irrelevant. Tony Windsor MP doesn’t even speak to the Murdoch Press anymore.

    If the Greens don’t even bother running a flag up the flagpole in Queensland how can they hope to get any senate votes? Maybe they’re not serious?

    In any case, there are 5 months until the election. Perhaps people ought to consider what damage Gillard/Abbott are going to get away with until the election farce?

  43. Alan
    March 26th, 2013 at 09:59 | #43

    More happy, happy, joy, joy, the tide will turn at any moment news. Nielsen has the primary vote in NSW at 23%. It’s a poll of state voting intention and I don’t have access to a state-by-state breakup of the Newspoll federal voting intention, but this makes it seriously hard to see Labor winning 3 seats in NSW when the quota will be 14.3.

  44. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 10:03 | #44

    And now we have Gillard doing a photo-op with Kyle Sandilands. Words fail me

  45. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 10:04 | #45


    That’s also pretty much the LNP position here in Qld – local option on fluoride. Unsurprisingly, a string of LNP-aligned councils are taking it out

  46. Chris Warren
    March 26th, 2013 at 10:26 | #46


    Forget Mel vs fluoride. It appears Mel has an undeclared conflict of interest.

  47. tgs
    March 26th, 2013 at 11:24 | #47

    @Chris Warren

    What gives that appearance?

  48. TerjeP
    March 26th, 2013 at 11:59 | #48

    I’ll do my bit by voting for the Liberal Democrats (LDP) and promoting them as hard as possible.

  49. TerjeP
    March 26th, 2013 at 12:03 | #49

    On this topic NSW govt has just passed a bill removing one’s right to silence, which sits oddly with LNP bleating over freedom of speech wrt media laws.

    It’s a bit amazing that this hasn’t got any substantial attention. The NSW ALP opposition actually criticised the reform on the basis that it didn’t go far enough.

  50. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 12:58 | #50

    @Chris Warren

    Anything more like that, and you’ll be banned. That includes backchat on this warning.

  51. Chris Warren
    March 26th, 2013 at 12:59 | #51

    Baseless attack deleted – final warning on this, and apology required: JQ

  52. sunshine
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:06 | #52

    Maybe the Aust public has gone too far down the road (the one that goes off to the right ) and things still have to get worse before they can get better . Perhaps we should just prepare for Abott to complete the process, and have faith that people can change quickly when they have to . Some faith in the Earths regenerative abilities woud also be good .

  53. sunshine
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:23 | #53

    40 years of neolib social engineering is hard to shift as long as the vast majority feel relativley “relaxed and comfortable ” . Old media makes it harder . Labor should give up chasing them to the right .
    Maybe in 10 years when half a generation of people has died off with the newspapers , internet news still wont be controlled by big money and the global western stagnation will have been here long enough to allow significant change .

  54. David Barry
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:41 | #54

    I think it’s more likely than not that the Libs will win three Senators in SA, even if Xenophon is re-elected (as seems to be expected). Against Xenophon in 2007, they won 2.5 quotas on primaries, and the polling suggests a large swing to the Coalition in SA this year — that would get them close to or past 3 quotas on primaries. Labor gets 2, and Sarah Hanson-Young misses out.

    Zed Seselja won a pretty handsome swing to the Liberals in last year’s ACT election, so I’m not confident that the Greens can pinch his Senate spot, though they may as well try harder than usual.

    I think Qld could go in any number of ways. Katter’s party polled the equivalent of 0.8 quotas at last year’s state election, so I think they’ll comfortably get a Senator. But are they getting votes from mostly disaffected Labor voters, mostly disaffected LNP voters, or an even combination of both? In terms of swings from the 2010 result, Labor is stronger in Qld than anywhere else, so I think there’s a decent chance of ALP+GRN winning 3 Senators, though perhaps that’s just optimism on my part that Katter will take votes mostly off old LNP supporters. I won’t be surprised either if there’s 3 LNP 1 KAP or even 2 LNP 1 KAP 1 Shooters and Fishers or something.

  55. Mel
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:48 | #55

    PrQ, can you please delete Chris Warren’s claim that I am a toothpaste salesman. Chris Warren might also want to man up and apologize for being dick.

  56. tgs
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:53 | #56

    Absolutely nothing that this “Mel” has posted, so this is the problem.

    Oh I see, the burden of proof is on him to refute your accusations rather than for you to produce any supporting evidence.

    That seems fair.


  57. tgs
    March 26th, 2013 at 13:54 | #57

    *or her!

  58. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 14:01 | #58

    Chris, in the absence of an unqualified apology you will be banned immediately and permanently. I remind everyone, but particularly Chris, FB and Mel that personal attacks on other commenters are prohibited

  59. Jill Rush
    March 26th, 2013 at 14:13 | #59

    A tactic would be to have a separate Senate campaign focussing on the individual senators, some of whom really bear little scrutiny without provoking alarm and also look at the preferencing arrangements.

    Labor would need to agree to exchange preferences with the Greens if that was possible. It seems however that Simon Crean’s strategy is now apparent – he never wanted Kevin Rudd to be leader last week; he wants that role for himself and will work against anything that will save Labor in the House of Reps or the Senate as per the statements about superannuation today.

    I doubt that Labor can overcome this persistent race to the bottom. That Crean thinks he has a chance at the leadership shows how delusional the dinosaurs of the party are.

    The Greens strategy should be to gather preferences and to market themselves as responsible and reasonable human beings and eschew candidates with crazy hairstyles and wild ideas. One of the main impediments that the Greens face is that so many of their supporters like to present edgy images which alienate many who might otherwise vote for them.

  60. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 14:23 | #60

    John, with your permission, saving the senate should include will the greens elect any senators north of Tasmania?

    the greens will fight the WA Nats for the last seat in WA.

    Nick no pokies will take the last seat in SA with a quota on his own right.

    Katter will take the last seat in Qld with a little help from LNP.

    the greens have no retiring senators in NSW or Vic. they may win the last seats in those 2 states from Labor on Liberal preferences? will the Liberals put the Greens last?

  61. Jenny Stirling
    March 26th, 2013 at 14:34 | #61

    I totally agree with Quiggins- the only hope is if the Greens can block Abbott in the Senate.

  62. Sam
    March 26th, 2013 at 14:43 | #62

    I don’t think we should listen to what David Barry says because he sells chemtrails to the UN.

  63. ratee
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:18 | #63

    The Greens need a political thrashing by the ALP and ex-ALP voters – they were the ones who by refusing to deal with Rudd on the ETS – caused the ETS to hinge on the LNP support.
    Result – the carefully worked ETS package was dumped. The ALP implosion can be traced to that decision of the Greens to be “pure”. They can’t be rewarded for this.
    The Greens need to mature before they can participate in a democracy – true they can be a block but at what price – continuing marginalisation.
    Abbott is just the latest in the radical right’s slow project to re-make Australian society in their image, people aren’t like that and they will kick back eventually.
    The Greens are not the inheritors of the best traditions of the ALP unless you mean years in the wilderness failing to be relevant to the political discourse.
    Like it or not most people who decide elections are reasonably middle of the road who might get all tribal about their football club – but will not give a fig about the political tribes. Seeing them for what they do not for their rhetoric.

  64. paul walter
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:33 | #64

    @John Quiggin
    Well, you used to write for the Fin, why shouldn’t Gillard employ Sandilands?

  65. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:34 | #65

    @ratee the Libs had 37 senators after the 2007 election and with family first had 38 which is enough to block any carbon tax and other legislation.

    the views of the greens did not count in the senate between 2007 and 2010 unless they, family first and nick no pokies all agreed to sum to a vote of 39:37..

  66. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:39 | #66


    The Greens need a political thrashing by the ALP and ex-ALP voters

    Actually, we will be OK in the election. Our core support will remain, though I suppose we might lose a few ‘tactical’ voters. We are a party with coherent and abiding principles, so for us, whether we do a little better or a little worse is neither here nor there.

    they were the ones who by refusing to deal with Rudd on the ETS

    That turns the history on its head. Rudd quite deliberately refused to deal with us, instead, deciding to play cute with the Libs, in the hope of crafting a deal that would split the Libs and prevent us from supporting it — allowing the ALP to claim all of the credit and to weaken Turnbull. It was all a game to him, but that said, it was stunningly artful — and it very nearly worked. Turnbull was rolled — by one vote. But the coalition ranks largely held on the issue and then, having tried to outmanoeuvre us, the ALP appealed to us — whom he’d tried to marginalise — to help him salvage some respectability by voting for a deal only a fossil fuel apologist could support.

    Unsurprisingly, we said no thanks. Even then, Rudd might simply have played his last card — a s57 dissolution — and run on “who has the mandate. He’d almost certainly have won — saving his Carbon Polluters Reward Scheme and his leadership — but as has now become clear, he had no stomach for a serious fight and eventually gave up the moral ascendancy and therewith the leadership. From then on, he was apologising for his policies.

    That his supporters blame us for his opportunism, cowardice and cravenness is ludicrous.

    Like it or not most people who decide elections are reasonably middle of the road who might get all tribal about their football club – but will not give a fig about the political tribes

    It’s the job of political parties to shake people out of apathy and ignorance rather than pander to it. The preference of the ALP for the latter over the former course explains most of their current predicament. They just can’t get enough ignorant, malign or foolish people — or people likely to indulge such folk — to vote for them — and they want us of all parties, to cover them as they try. LOL …

  67. Alan
    March 26th, 2013 at 18:34 | #67

    @Fran Barlow

    The Greens just did not have the numbers in the senate to pass the CPRS. Before denouncing Rudd for either taking the same line as Gillard or accepting advice from Gillard, you really need to consider the state of the parties. All you’re doing is giving aid and comfort to the Labor Right who are fast developing the Greens as the main culprit in a ‘We was robbed’ narrative for after the election.

    And you’re doing that by describing a state of the world that did not exist between 2007 and 2010.

  68. Chris
    March 26th, 2013 at 19:13 | #68

    Terry, the allocation of ALP preferences could make a difference – as they have in getting fringe conservatives like fielding elected at the expense of the greens.

    I think there’s one important argument that I haven’t seen anyone make. The libs have started to float proposals to change voting rules (which naturally would disadvantage ALP). If Abbott gets control of both houses, stand-by for a campaign for the oz and conservative commentariat. The temptation would be overwhelming.

    How about appealing to the ALP to pref greens this time around – or run the risk of losing votes when Abbott changes the rules of the game

  69. Ikonoclast
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:01 | #69

    @John Quiggin

    Well it’s interesting that Mel made baseless and nasty attacks in the past on several people including me. Mel was the original attacking offender who stirred the hornets’ nest up and got several people, including me, seriously angry. We pushed back because we were not going to take that sort of rubbish lying down. Mel appears not to have suffered any reprimand or threat of ban for his initiating role in this imbroglio, at least so far as I can see.

    Prof. J.Q. if you want to let the original offender off scot free and ban those who defended themselves vigorously then I am baffled at your sense of proportion and justice. If you do proceed to ban targets of Mel who pushed back then you better ban me too. I will exit in sympathy and solidarity with those others who exercised self-defence and proportionate response.

  70. March 26th, 2013 at 20:13 | #70

    We’ve started a Facebook page here for anyone who shares our objectives – https://www.facebook.com/Sos13SaveOurSenate

  71. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:20 | #71

    @Chris labour preferences will not matter because the greens and labor will be competing for the last senate seat in nsw, vic and tasmania.

    Katter and nick no pokies will win the last seats in qld and sa

    The greens will need labor preferences to keep their seat in WA out of the hands of the WA nats.

    The libs will get a quota in the ACT. The libs got 40% in the assembly elections while the greens lost threevof their 4 MLAs

  72. March 26th, 2013 at 20:26 | #72
  73. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:31 | #73


    The Greens just did not have the numbers in the senate to pass the CPRS.

    Irrelevant. In July 2009, Abbott was arguing for the Libs to roll over and give the regime what it wanted. Rudd only had to ask and he would have received. He could have said that he was implementing Garnaut and the Libs, to avoid a split, would have yielded. He didn’t need the Greens. He also had s57 up his sleeve. On the downside, we would have supported the deal, and the Libs could simply have abstained. Rudd wanted to split them and marginalise us — and so he couldn’t take yes for an answer.

    All you’re doing is giving aid and comfort to the Labor Right who are fast developing the Greens as the main culprit in a ‘We was robbed’ narrative for after the election


    Unlike you, I have zero interest in the cant uttered by the Labor right, or the Labor “left” for that matter. The ALP is a centre-right party, squabbling with another centre-right party that is somewhat to their right on a number of issues. If the ALP want to delude themselves to salve their pain — and recent events suggest they do — that’s scarcely a problem for us.

    And you’re doing that by describing a state of the world that did not exist between 2007 and 2010.

    You seem to prefer the notional world to the living and breathing world of winter 2009. Why is that?

  74. John Quiggin
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:35 | #74


    The fight was already well under way by the time it came up on my radar, so I don’t know who started it. I’ve advised all participants that further attacks will merit a ban, but, despite his offering what appears to be a totally baseless slur, I’m giving Chris anohter chance.

  75. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:43 | #75

    @Fran Barlow so all them communists who infiltrated the ALP could have just as easily joined the other central right parties? The unions could have just as easily joined other centre right parties. Bob hawke, ben chifley and bob menzies arm in arm?

  76. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2013 at 20:47 | #76

    @Jim Rose

    so all them communists who infiltrated the ALP could have just as easily joined the other central right parties?

    In the 1950s, there was a clear and organic link with organised labour. That link has now atrophied. That said. it was Chifley who used troops to smash the coal strike of 1949, ushering in 23 years of coalition rule. The DLP was pro-Menzies.

    Bob Hawke did suppress the BLF, expressed his solidarity with Reagan around the airline pilots dispute.

  77. paul walter
    March 26th, 2013 at 21:22 | #77

    @Fran Barlow Absolutely concur, Fran Barlow.

  78. paul walter
    March 26th, 2013 at 21:24 | #78

    And what is the this garbage about about “communists infiltrated the Labor party”.
    GROW UP, Jim Rose.

  79. paul of albury
    March 26th, 2013 at 21:33 | #79

    This is heresy but I’m starting to think the only thing that will stop the ALP from dragging the leftmost edge of the Overton window further and further right is optional preferential voting so they can’t take Green preferences for granted. Until the Greens or another left of centre party become sufficiently established to govern, Labor will go on being just slightly better than the Libs. Abbott may be obnoxious and scary but maybe we need destruction to get rebirth.
    I think optional preferential woud be attractive to the Libs as it would probably instantly remove 5% of Labor’s 2pp. I don’t think this requires a referendum, so maybe something to hope for if the senate isn’t saved.
    Perhaps this is just being fed up with Labor, I criticised Rudd as Howard lite and now find Gillard more conservative, and the tribal nature of the Labor defences really annoys me.
    I know this reads as a concern troll but I’m starting not to care.Think I’ll sink into political apathy 😉

  80. Chris Warren
    March 26th, 2013 at 22:20 | #80

    John Quiggin

    You are being unfair. I do not and have never made any baseless slur and I certainly never make baseless attacks.

    The post you deleted was ENTIRELY factual in every detail, and I am quite willing to link to the source. I deliberately did not include the company name, and product serial numbers purely because this was not relevant. Not because there was no such ‘base’.

    While of course, evidence is not proof – it is however grounds for seeking clarification.

    I am quite happy to provide the detailed basis for seeking this clarification.

    I have no view over fluoride – but I do not accept the type of crude jibing we have witnessed at those who are seeking to expose concerns they rightfully have.

    The jibes were continual and exaggerated.

    In fact I made no claim, I only sought clarification.

    However I am quite happy to let the matter rest, provided there are no more attacks on those querying fluoride.

    That may be the best course of action.

  81. Mel
    March 26th, 2013 at 22:31 | #81

    FB: “That said. it was Chifley who used troops to smash the coal strike of 1949, ushering in 23 years of coalition rule.”

    Chifley did the right thing. What alternative did he have?

    The claim that Chifley ending the strike put the conservatives in power for 23 years is simply false. If the working class was behind the Communists who were employing their union power to use industrial action to smash democracy, they would have drifted off to the left not the right. How is that not obvious?

  82. Mel
    March 26th, 2013 at 23:09 | #82

    CW has accused me of selling a particular range of fluoride based products and he further claims I have sold them directly to children.

    He now also claims that he has evidence to support his allegations.

    Chris Warren can either retract his accusation and apologise or the matter can be pursued in the courts. FTR, I have said nothing to CW that justifies this attack.

    Sorry for wasting your time with this, PrQ.

    Please also note that I have commented on this blog since 2006 (back in the Dogz v Katz days) without a problem such as this arising.

  83. Chris Warren
    March 26th, 2013 at 23:29 | #83


    OK if there is some error by all means email the clarification privately at:

    [email protected] and I will sort it out.

  84. March 27th, 2013 at 00:05 | #84

    @Chris Warren

    Please email me on the ‘contact’ info at my website because I’m also intrigued by the hateful and dishonest vitriol that has been directed at me, too.

  85. paul walter
    March 27th, 2013 at 01:14 | #85

    Can I congratulate Mark Bahnisch on the Save the Senate idea?
    There are compelling reasons for the Senate, with its quota system, to be kept in place free of tinkering with by the major parties.
    Its voting system allows for representation of viewpoints often purged of the major (neolib) parties for ideological reasons; legitimate critiques but ones unpalatable to the majors, usually involving civil liberties and environment and science/rationalism.
    The Australian People have much to thank the Democrats, then the Greens and also several independents, over time, for allowing suppressed takes on issues that can often deeply affect Australians, but are not presented always accurately by the majors.
    Nor should people resent conservative independents once in a while taking a seat in the Senate, they represent views that progressives often find anathema, yet whose presentation often provides an inadvertent means for clarifying leftish views themselves.

  86. Mel
    March 27th, 2013 at 01:19 | #86

    Chris, I have no intention of contacting you in an unprotected setting given that you’ve engaged in a stalking exercise and falsely surmised that I am someone I am not. If you say sorry I will accept it and never mention the matter again and promise to treat you respectfully in future.

  87. Mel
    March 27th, 2013 at 01:47 | #87

    PrQ offered a warning on 22/3/2013:

    “OK, everyone has had their say for and against Mel. I’m now going to ban Mel if he (I assume) makes any personal criticism of Megan, Chris or Ikonoklast, and vice versa. This policy is in effect immediately and permanently.”

    Can we please all respect it.

  88. Alan
    March 27th, 2013 at 03:58 | #88

    @Fran Barlow

    At #16 you had the Greens refuse to help Rudd with the CPRS.

    At #23 the state of the parties in the senate is grandly declared irrelevant.

    How, in your account, did Rudd turn to the Greens for support as you claim at #16 and what help could the Greens give as you claim at #16?

    This stuff matters because after the prime minister you want to retain delivers a defeat that makes 1975 look cheerful, the subsequent analysis must not be dominated by invented historical facts like Rudd inventing the phrase ‘breaking the business model of the people smugglers’ and Rudd could have passed the CPRS with Green support.

    I’ve always said that Rudd should have taken the CPRS to a double dissolution without the loopholes required to try and get a deal from the Coalition and from his deputy. He should have taken the CPRS to caucus when his deputy and treasurer advised him to drop it. I’ve also said that Rudd was wrong to isolate himself from the Greens and from his own backbench.

  89. John Quiggin
    March 27th, 2013 at 06:38 | #89

    Chris, you’re banned. This is not the venue to make accusations like the one you’ve made. I gave you the chance to retract and you declined.

    To everyone else, can we please get back on topic and avoid personal attacks completely.

  90. Judy Cameron
    March 27th, 2013 at 06:50 | #90

    I am so tired of the Greens being bashed over Rudd’s ETS. It was a stupid package that locked in a bad target and would have achieved nothing. He was to blame.

  91. Judy Cameron
    March 27th, 2013 at 06:52 | #91

    Sorry, that should have been Rudd’s ‘CPRS’.

  92. Alan
    March 27th, 2013 at 07:13 | #92

    @Judy Cameron

    I couldn’t agree more. Rudd could not pass the CPRS with Greens support and isolated himself from the Greens anyway. Mind you, Gillard has also isolated herself from the Greens and is entirely capable of deciding to drop the ETS before the election. It’s all part of elevating ‘tough as nails’ to an art form.

  93. Jim Rose
    March 27th, 2013 at 07:52 | #93

    green support in NSW and Vic should be enough to take the last senate seat from Labor in 2013.

    Labor just got 2 quotas in Qld and WA in 2010 so they and the greens may compete for the last seat in 2013 in a close run thing in Qld. katter’s mob may be elected 5th.

    for the greens to stop a WA Nat taking the 4th WA senate seat, that will be interesting.
    most senate above the line preference flows will be to the Nats with the exception of the australian sex party. there are the shooters, christian democrats, DLP and liberal democrats all garnering votes for wider spectrum than the coalition can.

  94. Vegetarian
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:17 | #94

    I have a suggestion of how Greens policies (or anyone else’s for that matter,) can reach voters: present your arguments in graphic form! As a teacher, I know that most people struggle to understand basic statistics. If Barnaby Joyce confuses millions and billions, what hope does the average punter have?
    A simple diagram, say comparing debt to GDP ratios of various countries, or the proportion of mining companies’ profits paid in tax, might cut through.

  95. Jim Rose
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:35 | #95

    Wa upper house quotas were libs 3.35, nats 0.34 and christian democrats, family first and shooters 0.34. A 4th Nat in WA seems likely.

    the senate will be 36 coalition, 1 WA Nat, 1 katter, 1 DLP and Nick no pokies. Anything less is the less likrly senate outcome.

    Repeal of the carbon tax is assured

  96. may
    March 27th, 2013 at 14:42 | #96

    repeal ct?


  97. Fran Barlow
    March 27th, 2013 at 15:19 | #97

    @Jim Rose

    Repeal of the carbon tax {price} is assured

    I’d regard this as unlikely. Even allowing that a house and senate hostile to carbon pricing is elected, it won’t be seated until July of 2014. By that time most of the 249 or so organisations with liqability will have had to buy permits (and may have bought forward permits). Some will have spent money based in part on carbon pricing. In practice, there would need to be a phase out, possibly running into 2016 when there would need to be a new election held in circumstances sharply different from those obtaining now.

    Gillard and Rudd would be distant memories. The Abbott regime will almost certainly have proven inept and unable to carry out anything like its programs of blood oaths. It would also have had to reverse the tax threshhold changes for low income earners and if we believe it, be paying out compensation to businesses and getting a surplus and raising defence spending and taxing companies for extravagant PPL — in short — there would be no place to hide. By then, the shine should have come off Barry O’Farrell and the memory of Obeid somewhat dimmed. Newman should be back in the field.

    Undoing carbon pricing would not be easy and it might be that it prejudices Australia’s trade position since other jurisdictions with carbon pricing — South Korea, large parts of China, Europe — will be looking for equivalence.

  98. March 27th, 2013 at 15:27 | #98

    If Assange wins the 6th senate spot in Vic that might help “save” the senate.

  99. Alan
    March 27th, 2013 at 15:40 | #99

    @Fran Barlow

    You are assuming the tough as nails faction of labor will not simply dump the ETS as they have on two previous occasions. Perhaps they’ll ask for a citizens assembly first.

  100. Russ
    March 27th, 2013 at 16:10 | #100

    @David Barry
    David, don’t be too sure about Zed – he may not be the candidate! There is a Liberals meeting tonight at which the preselection will be challenged, because Zed took advantage of party members being relaxed and comfortable to spring an ambush on Gary Humphries. Whatever the outcome, it may well leave the ACT Liberals with a significant proportion disillusioned, and provide an opening for Simon Sheik.

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