tip off

Andrews smacked Labor hacks, got Kanis over the line

Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews smacked down the coarse Greens assault from Labor heavyweights Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes during the Melbourne byelection campaign. Party officials were glad he did today, pointing to the more nuanced strategy as a core factor behind Jennifer Kanis’ victory on Saturday.

The approach — fermented by factional hardheads and rolled out in the wake of the NSW Right’s off-piste attack two weeks ago — hardened resolve among centrist voters considering a dalliance with the Greens’ Cathy Oke and Liberal voters marooned without a candidate.

The Greens primary vote jumped from 31.92% at the 2010 state election to 36.37% on Saturday (against a very low 33.32% for Labor), but that was influenced by an historically low voter turnout. Andrews’ call to run the line that only Labor can enact the progressive policies that both parties share pricked some Labor ears and helped corral the 25% Tory vote clustered around Docklands and East Melbourne.

Daniel’s strategy worked, and it’ll work again in 2014”, a senior Labor Left source told Crikey this morning.

The scene at the Labor celebration at Flemington-Kensington bowls club on Saturday night was one of cautious jubilation mixed with LBJ-style realism as the carefully-curated preference patchwork of minor parties filtered back into Labor’s pile.

Kanis was in a festive mood, with hubby Davydd Griffiths (smashing an official club tracksuit) working the bar offloading $4.50 VBs and connecting multiple kegs until after 2am. There was only one hitch — the lack of EFTPOS facilities — which sent some scribes scrambling to the Greens’ more maudlin shindig at North Melbourne’s Lithuanian Club.

Those that remained, including feisty Altona MP Jill Hennessy, were rewarded with rivers of pinot grigio at the dubious Doutta Galla hotel in Flemington Road. One Left wag noted the faction “finally succeeded in taking over Doutta Galla”, recalling the parade of right-aligned MPs that controlled the former upper house province from 1976 onwards.

The role of the S-x Party on Saturday — that garnered 6.6% of the vote and preferenced Labor — will be carefully watched in the lead-up to next year’s federal election. Greens sources claimed this morning that candidate Fiona Patten had admitted to a deal with Labor when they called to negotiate a preference arrangement, leaving two possible chop-outs on either policy or preferences.

As independent candidate Stephen Mayne reported yesterday, only 55% of S-x Party votes ended up in Labor’s tally (against probably 30% if it had fingered the Greens), equating to about 100 extra votes for Kanis. But don’t be surprised if the party’s enthusiastic serial candidate ends up with some preference largesse and perhaps a stronger bargaining position on Capital Hill.

Two of the p-rn party’s pet policy peeves are the internet filter, still in limbo pending the “restricted” classification review, and the proposal to track internet usage for two years, currently before Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

Patten is said to be very keen to ascend to the Senate, and will want to garner strong preference flows from Labor’s group voting ticket to stand any chance of success. Stephen Conroy, while all but ruling out preferencing the Liberal Party ahead of the Greens in Victoria, stayed mum on whether Patten could trump the Greens No. 1 Senate ticket candidate Janet Rice. If the Greens fail to achieve a quota in their own right, Rice could be tipped from the third left-leaning Senate position in favour of Patten.

Privately, some Greens loyalists are smarting over some of the policy scrambling that dogged their campaign the last few days when Age state politics scribe Tom Arup managed to extract some long-winded funding explanations from Cathy Oke.

Adam Bandt had backed rival candidate Rose Iser for preselection against Oke, and there was a suggestion that Iser — who has forged strong links with local housing commission groups as Bandt’s community liaison officer — may have managed to squeeze some facial recognition juice out of Flemington public housing tenants (even though the Greens vote at the Flemington booth actually jumped).

Without the Liberal preferences he snagged 2010, Bandt will also struggle to get over the line, leaving the curious scenario where Rice ascends to the red leather while Bandt is forced to return to a grey Slater & Gordon hot desk.

With the Greens yet to concede Saturday’s result, strategists are asking questions about the whereabouts of the 853 former North Melbourne Central booth votes recorded in 2010 (the booth was abolished for Saturday’s ballot). While the North Melbourne booth recorded a jump in voters of 484 and Hotham Hill soaked up 150, curiously 300 fewer voters rocked up at North Melbourne East. Despite the overall slump in voter turnout, numbers of actual voters on most booths were either up or down by a couple of percentage points.

Greens psephologist Stephen Luntz says that in the absence of an unopened box of ballot papers hidden behind a closed door “we have to choose between two unlikely things: that hundreds of people in North Melbourne alone chose not to vote, and that the VEC staff were so incompetent as to not notice a discrepancy. I can’t think of a third explanation.”

But locating a rogue box won’t change the overall result with the Greens only likely to pick up, at a stretch, 150-200 votes — not nearly enough to bridge the current Labor margin of about 750.

Rank and file Greens members are also eagerly awaiting the release of a Greens-commissioned YourSource exit poll, that may shed more light on why some voters decided to plump for or avoid the party.

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  • 1
    Andrew Chalmers
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s becoming increasingly evident that both Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes are political novices, foolishly handed the mantle by those who should know better.

    Both of them may as well be paid up members of the Liberal Party for all the good they’ve done. It’s time to get over the teen-ankle obsession and put some real experience in place.

    Well done Daniel Andrews. Dastyari and Howes should be both ashamed of themselves.

  • 2
    wilful
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    formented? Editor!!!

  • 3
    Bo Gainsbourg
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    If a poor result for the Greens ends up getting them an extra 5% of votes I’d hate to see a good one. The Greens will be disappointed, but what they have to look forward to is more hard graft, more getting into the community and getting their heads around local issues, more base building. They will eventually crack it. They will have to put together good campaigns with the right candidates, and they will have to work the preferences possibly better than they have. But the bottom line is that the only way they can really be kept out for a long time in the longer term is if Labor preference the Libs and other loony rightists first. When that starts to happen Labor will be in terminal trouble if its not already (yes it can get worse). Labor would be better off coming to an accommodation with the Greens across a broad social democratic agenda and focusing on their real enemies. Abbot and co. Lets not have another shoehorning of Family First into the Senate for years on the back of the genius preference deals of days gone by.

  • 4
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I think the ALP have to explain their deranged hysteria. And get rid of Dastyari and Howes, they are menaces.

  • 5
    Owen Gary
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I think Labor need to give an explanation as to how Shorten & Howes both union organisors are right wing members of the party ???

    They are both putting right wing agenda’s before the principles of the Labor party & against the interests of union movements??

    The rest of the right wing interlopers of the Labor party like Dastyari, Fitzgibbons & co are alienating labor voters because of their closeness to conservative ideals.
    The public are finally seeing through them & I hope hordes of voters flock to the Green’s at the Federal election. It seems both Labor & Liberal are colluding so much against the Greens lately that it has alerted the public, to their unholy alliance.

    I think these bi-& state elections need to be scrutinised more closely since ballot boxes seem to be also gooing astray??

  • 6
    Russell
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Prior to Saturday, the Greens were cock-a-hoop, and most of the media were slavishly reporting their imminent victory. Today many still can’t believe voters can count, and actually care about things like costings. Many don’t its true, but enough… Though Adam Bandt is still claiming the result as a “win.”

  • 7
    Sharkie
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    At least Andrews understands the correlation between the number of times Howes opens his mouth, and the decline in support for Labor. Why the ALP hasn’t culled some of their back room operators (especially from the NSW right) is beyond me.

  • 8
    Edward James
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    The way our elections play out would serve taxpayers much better if voters started making the effort to exercise their own votes by directing their own preferences! Edward James

  • 9
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    One aspect of this election was that despite the juvenile ravings of Howes and Dastyari and several more polished Labor legends, who should know better, that their tactics failed to turn the electorate against Ms Kanis.

    It appears common sense prevailed; namely that the only way to beat the Liberals was to give Labor the numbers in the Parliament, as opposed creating a pseudo coalition of Labor and the Greens that may or may not come together to unseat Mr Bailleau.

    But it was odds on that the NSW Right would be ignored in Victoria anyway as they are perceived as incompetent and out of touch; slagging the opponent is never the best way to win hearts and minds.

  • 10
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Sancho, it’s not sex or labor that’s the problem word in the title - it’s ‘Party’. The ALP is created by the union movement in its image, it’s not the other way around. Sex is everybody’s thing, party politics involves a lot more compromises.

  • 11
    CML
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    The funniest thing about this byelection result is Bandt and the Greens going on about the ALP (possibly, according to the Greens) winning the seat with a lower primary vote than their candidate. As I understand it, that is exactly how Bandt won his federal seat - on preferences (Liberal, etc), NOT on the primary vote. Pot, Kettle, Black - anyone???

  • 12
    Sancho
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s worse than that, Hugh. The Victorian ALP represents the interests of property developers, transport companies that are banned from doing business in Europe, and every other shonky business that will quietly funnel public money back to Labor under the guise of “public-private partnerships”.

    The point about the street staff is that Labor’s approach is, “Our policies and philosophy? It’s…uh…look! Tits and bums and vote while you’re there!”

    The Labor brains trust looked at that old Cougars advert and figured that’s the level of political discussion it favours.

  • 13
    eric
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Imagine how feral the Murdoch/News Limited lackeys would have feasted if Labor had lost!

  • 14
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    You’re probably right Sancho. Although, in many ways the parties in the contest don’t get to create the “level of political discussion” and therefore have to work with what they’ve got. Unusual, unexpected and dare I say counter-intuitive as it as they may seem to have been, the preference arrangements entered into by the ALP won them the election. There’s nothing ‘fair’ or ‘reasonable’ or sporting about the political shenanigans necessary to pull off a fully legal, democratic win. Other consequences and conclusions pale into insignificance (for now) when the first and highest priority is to actually win the election. Just as in the federal arena last time around, the electorate has spoken.

  • 15
    Gocomsys
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Simple political facts:
    1. There are “opportunists” on all sides of politics. A “clean up” is well overdue.
    2. Keeping the ALP (Alternative Liberal Party) in power federally is essential now more than ever. Main reason: good progressive policies.
    3. Aim at the next election: ALP majority in the lower house. Greens and Independents majority in the Senate.
    4. Liberals and Nationals have been hijacked by ultra conservative incompetents. Their agenda endangers our democracy, our economy and our way of life. The LNP must not be given a chance to form government.
    @Edward

    Voters making the effort to direct their own preferences?

    Sure, why not!

  • 16
    Sancho
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m a strong supporter of our electoral system, Hugh. Even though the Greens received the highest primary vote, a majority of voters didn’t rank the Greens highly enough to win the seat, and I respect that.

    What I don’t respect is Labor’s profoundly self-entitled anger at progressive voters who continue to vote for progressive parties instead of being dragged to the right by the ALP, and its willingness to blatantly sell out on principle for electoral gain.

    Labor put the Greens at fifteen on its how-to-vote, just ahead of the Christian fundamentalists.

  • 17
    Bobalot
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    The sour grapes from Green’s supporters is pretty amusing. They were so confident of victory, they had already planned their victory celebrations.

    A months worth of bragging about how they already had the contest in the bag and a mere $250,000 spent on the contest and the fact the Liberals were not running a candidate ended up in defeat.

    The icing on the cake was Adam Bandt whining that Labor came 2nd on the primary vote and won on preferences… despite the fact that’s exactly how he won his own seat.

  • 18
    Peter Keys
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    As a union heavy Howe’s judgement is not up to scratch…Gillard/Rudd and now the Greens attack.

  • 19
    Edward James
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    @ Peter Keys. Union members, Nationally are long over due to consider what their union fees are being used for ! Like voters, it is not acceptable for hard working people men and women to pay union fees or fill in a ballot paper and then forget about it! Our mandate always belongs to we the peoples. Take note Political allsorts you too Howes we the Australian Peoples own it! Not you! Edward James

  • 20
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Both hard working people and lazy slobs buy products from companies that then donate to both Liberal and Labor.

    You can choose to not join a union, but it is hard to not buy products from companies that donate to the main parties.

    Interesting to finally learn from the story above that the Greens DID talk to the Sex Party, but that the Sex Party had already done a deal with Labor.

    It seems that state Labor’s new campaign them will be don’t vote for the Greens because they can’t do anything (as they will not be the government).

    Or, to put it another way, don’t vote for the party that has policies that you want, but vote for a party which WILL TAKE ACTION on policies that you don’t want.

    If we applied this to the federal sphere then Labor would be saying don’t vote for us because all we will be able to do in the lower house of Federal parliament is talk, instead vote the party that will be able to do something - vote for Abbott.

  • 21
    Liamj
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    One thing the low turnout suggests is that the prospect of a Greens MP doesn’t much scare the nonvoters, presumably many of them usually LNP voters.

    The pavlovian green/fear conditioning still pushed hard by Anal Jones & the Murdocrats must be wearing off.. but is this only a local effect (its the bike paths!) or is that particular trance fading elsewhere too?

    Commiserations to Mr Stephen Mayne, but then maybe his destiny lies in the Senate..

  • 22
    Sancho
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Edward, you frame that as if union members would be disappointed.

    The large swing toward the Greens happened a few short months after the nurses’ unions won a dispute against the Liberal government, and right in the middle of the NTEU’s fight against the premier’s decision to shut down trade schools across the state.

    Of course, a Liberal government is the best recruiting tool a union can have.

  • 23
    AR
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Green vote rises, Labor vote drops but they win due to preferences from, among others, the Sex party though it has policies inimical to the ALP.

  • 24
    Ryan Moore
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps all the anti-Labor rage here should be directed elsewhere - it’s not very productive to play sour grapes and slam a party when they have won this seat with a majority of support from voters.

    If primary votes are such an issue, perhaps speak to Adam Bandt about whether you think the Greens’ one seat in Parliament won on conservative preferences represents a major issue.

    Furthermore, regardless of what many think of the ALP, hundreds of rank & file members - myself included - still feel it was a good campaign. We’re willing to put our voices, time & support behind it as well, and that means as much as the time of any other campaigner - and to dismiss that is naive at best.

    One point on booths - one of the new booths was literally a street back from a major public housing development. Those voters would have otherwise cast a ballot at a former booth, and therefore the votes pretty much pan out - especially when you factor in the substantial portion who didn’t vote. A “rogue box” sounds, at very least, to be a highly fanciful proposition.

  • 25
    Rob R
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Michael Wilbur-Ham - The ASP never denied that The Greens contacted them eventually: http://www.sexparty.org.au/enews/melb/20072012.html

  • 26
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    @ BOBALOT - I made the same point in a previous post as your last sentence. No one on here wants to admit that Bandt is a hypocrite when he talks about the ALP winning on preferences. You are correct - that is exactly what he did in the last federal election.
    The Greenies are unhappy that they lost. I’m not!!

  • 27
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    @ AR - Are you suggesting that the preferences Bandt received from the Libs and other so-called right-wing parties/individuals at the last federal election supported his policies? I don’t think so. Bandt didn’t seem to have any qualms about NOT supporting the Libs into government ahead of the ALP.
    So, let me get this straight - it is okay for the Greens to play fast and loose with anybody’s preferences when they help Bandt get a seat, but it is not okay for the ALP to do the same. Double standards wouldn’t you say? They are all the same.

  • 28
    FelineCyclist
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The seat of Melbourne (state and federal) have been determined by preferences (primarily whoever comes third) since 2010. Adam Bandt and Bronwyn Pike both won due to Liberal preferences. In the absence of a Liberal candidate, Jennifer Kanis won due to a combination of minor candidate preferences. It is likely that this trend will continue for many years to come.

    This is a significant trend for a seat that has been Labor dominated for 100 years. No longer can Labor take Melbourne for granted. The winner of this seat cannot just have regard to what his/her own voters want but need to have regard to broader interests, since broader interests got them the seat.

    In terms of preferences, a distinction needs to be made between passive and active preference flows. Bandt did not actively seek the Liberal’s preferences. The Liberals chose to preference Bandt because it suited their electoral goals, ie punishing Labor. This is to be contrasted with Labor’s preference deals, which actively traded preferences with minor candidates. Promises included policy issues (Ahmed) and future preference swaps (ASP).

    The concerning thing about ALP preference deals is that we don’t know what was promised/traded. The Federal Government’s deal with the Greens and independents is public and transparent, allowing debate on whether the trades were a good thing. We have no such opportunity in Melbourne - we are treated like mushrooms, never knowing what Labor had to promise to get into power. It makes me decidedly uneasy.

  • 29
    Gocomsys
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Good point raised by Felinecyclist.

    The Federal Government’s deal with the Greens and Independents is public and transparent,

    allowing debate on whether the trades were a good thing.

    It is high time to introduce a wide ranging public / national interest (disclosure) test!

  • 30
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    @ FELINECYCLIST - Total CR+P. The end result is exactly the same. I didn’t notice Bandt refusing to accept his seat because he won it on Liberal preferences.
    You Green lot are holier than thou when it suits you. This nonsense about not knowing what Labor
    promised these small parties/individuals is a red herring. Go read the Labor platform, and those of the others, and you will see where they are likely to reach consensus. Oh! I forgot - consensus is a
    dirty word to the Greens. You lot need to grow up and learn how the political game has been played for centuries.

    @ GOCOMSYS - Ditto!

  • 31
    Edward James
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    @ SANCHO
    Posted Monday, 23 July 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink Thank you for your comment. I note the first paragraph of work product from Andrew Cook in this string included the NSW button pushers, new boy short pants Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes big man in the union movement. Well let me remind you Mr Paul Howes bet his house on a political outcome. When Paul Howes lost he failed, very publicly to pay his gambling debt! What value can we the people put on the value of Paul Howes assurances ? Edward James

  • 32
    Edward James
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink Yeah red herrings. At some point taxpayers will need to start directing there own preferences. After all the value people put on their votes is the value they put on themselves. Voting the how to vote card is mindless and lazy. Edward James

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