Philip Mitchell-Taverner, Managing director of Taverner Research, writes: Re. “Today’s polls” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 36, item 1). I wonder on what basis you make the comment… “Not so impressive is a Taverner poll of mortgage holders…”. The sample is sufficiently large for the findings to be a reliable representation of what the mortgage holders are saying and the basis for ascertaining voting preference meets all of the right criteria for objective analysis. The results stayed consistently the same each day of polling, including the propensity for the shift in party preference. For example, we found just 7 people out of 260 (less than 3% of them) who gave their vote to Labor in 2004 and have now changed their preference to Liberal or National.. By contrast, 74 (over ten times more) out of 320 people who preferred a Coalition party last time (representing a massive 23%) will no longer preference the Coalition. Further drilling into the data supports this large turnaround for reasons that the switchers have clearly delineated – for example, the verbatim responses (unaided in any way) all too often cited interest rates as a deciding reason well before there was any reference to such an issue in the questionnaire. This was well and truly backed up by direct concerns over Work Choices, which appears to be of even more particular concern to those shifting their loyalty, let alone the other references to concerns about Liberal leadership and succession and a desire for a fresh start that we were given. The Taverner Poll did not report a 57/43 Labor winning margin. We only said that the 57% to 43% two party preferred figures related to mortgage holders (across NSW and Victoria) – who are represented in around 32% of households. We did not sample voters without mortgages or renting. However, on the strength of our findings, together with the results from all the other prior polls that have been published, the scenario looks very bad for the Coalition as the shift in preference is almost all one way – and that shift seems far greater than the Coalition gained last time. Fortunes are reversed, only more so, as evidenced by our Taverner Poll. That is what the poll said – nothing less. We concentrated very heavily on finding and understanding the swingers and their impact and then extrapolation that evidence. Why is ours not an honest, useful and impressive finding?

Election bias:

Ian Pavey writes: Re. “The Age v The Oz: very different election coverage” (Friday, item 4). Bias? The Oz and The Age are feeble amateurs. Out here in the Wild West we don’t even need two newspapers to get our own supersized daily dose of anti-Labor bias. Just look at Friday’s headline “Labor in Turmoil as Reynolds Duo Quits”. Conveniently obliterating the fact that while the WA Labor Party is pretty much united behind Premier Carpenter over Shelley Archer’s forced resignation, the WA Libs are tearing themselves to shreds over Lib upper house member Anthony Fels’ predicament, with a possible challenge to Lib leader Paul Omodei on the cards any day. It’s the same in the West every day – Labor problems splashed over page one, while Liberal problems squeezed in on page 22 or totally ignored.

North Queensland social attitudes:

Jason Wilson writes: Re. “Bahnisch: ALP not out of the hunt in Dawson” (Friday, item 11). Mark is right to point out that I may have been too early to hand Dawson to the Nats. But I feel I need to correct him when he writes of the people of NQ that “they look on us Brisbanites as Mexicans”, and point out some gradations in NQ social attitudes. While no-one “down south” is above suspicion, at least we can make common cause with “Brizzos” at State of Origin time. New South Welshmen are a definite rung down from there, but the most profound contempt is reserved for Sydneysiders and Canberrans. Vics, Taswegians and South Australians are regarded more with pity than hostility, and since Perth is much further away than PNG or Vanuatu, we don’t feel obliged to have an opinion on Sandgropers at all.

Climate change:

Robert Bruinewoud writes: Re. “We have a decade, tops, to save the planet” (15 November, item 1). Watching the election campaign drag on, I often get that same sick feeling as I did when I saw a young Great Dane try to cross six lanes of traffic — it didn’t end well for the puppy and I fear the same for human civilisation. This election should be focused on just one thing, how best to deal with climate change. Instead we’re distracted by side issues or complete garbage. And, in turn, we are missing a huge opportunity to achieve a genuine mandate from the people of Australia to get serious about climate change. To quote a sticker I saw stuck on a phone booth: “Vote 1 Environment – everything else is just deck chairs.”

Geoff Russell writes: Re. John Bowyer (Friday, comments). Sorry John, but the Antarctic ice sheet is losing 150+/-80 cubic kilometers of ice each year. Up until 2004 there was net sheet growth, but now there is a net loss of ice (see Velicogna, Science, 24 March 2006, and a summary of many results in Science 16 March 2007, by Shepherd and Wingham). 150 cubic km isn’t really very much, but if the trend is exponential, then I wouldn’t leave your waterfront villa to your grand children.

Women voters and the Liberals:

Bruno Gelonesi writes: Re. “Comitatus: Females saving Howard from a three figure drubbing” (Friday, item 8). Don’t be fooled. The women who have fled the Libs have also severed their land lines so the pollsters don’t get to talk to them.

Flinders Uni and VSU:

Dave Liberts writes: Re. “Remember the $80 million to compensate for VSU? It’s pork” (Friday, item 1). In relation to the VSU compensation article from Friday, Flinders University is not located in an Opposition electorate, marginal or otherwise. It’s smack in the middle of long-time-Liberal-held Boothby. Every single Boothby candidate for the last 20 years has featured a photo of themselves in front of the Flinders Medical Centre (adjacent to the uni) in their campaign propaganda.

David Flint:

Peter Rosier writes: David Flint has the cheek to accuse Rudd of reading from an autocue! Good Lord, this automaton of a mind can’t see that he reads like an uncut and badly written (they mostly all are) Coalition ad. If Flint doesn’t read like a script written by Mark Textor, he sounds suspiciously like a dummy voiced by a Liberal Party ventriloquist. I watched the Labor launch and do admit that the delivery sounded a touch wooden. But I haven’t seen it written anywhere that Churchillian oratory is a pre-requisite for office of Prime Minister. On that basis it never struck me that any of Gorton, Snedden, McMahon, Peacock or Downer would qualify.

Robert Corr writes: I note that in Friday’s email David Flint referred to “Labor’s American spin doctors”. He is still trying to push the conspiracy theory he first raised on 12 November, when he claimed that because Labor is not listed on Vic Fingerhut’s client list, that means it’s trying to hide something. A more straightforward explanation is that Labor didn’t hire him! Flint’s evidence is a piece by the Liberal activist Graham Young, who in turn points to a union website that says the unions — not Labor — brought Fingerhut to Australia. And if that’s the case, why isn’t the ACTU listed on Fingerhut’s client list? Again, they didn’t hire him! The ACTU hired Essential Media Communications, who brought Fingerhut out to help develop the campaign. All of this is detailed on the EMC website, and took me about two minutes of Googling to piece together. But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory? Stay brave and true, David.

Stick with Howard:

John Shailer writes: Re. “Alas, the “narrowing” will be too late for Howard” (Friday, item 16). If the polls are correct, Australians are about to gamble away our financial security, and hand over the economy to a group of inexperienced ex-union heavies, using a slick, media-savvy chameleon, as their front man. Kevin Rudd believes he can coast into office by constantly repeating a few catchy slogans – “economic conservative”, “education revolution”, “working families”, “new leadership/future”, “crisis”. He operates in a policy-free zone, having pirated over 36 of John Howard’s policies. He ducks any serious issues, such as rising interest rates, grocery and petrol prices, jobs etc, and adopts the classic politicians’ excuse for doing nothing – announcing over 96 different enquiries, reviews, new bureaucracies etc. With the benefit of an extended honeymoon with most of the media, he has not been put under any serious scrutiny. Wake up Australia! – don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors! It’s your future prosperity you are risking. Stick with the tried and tested team – John Howard and Peter Costello!

Melanie Matthewson writes: Re. “Abjorensen: The real fun begins 25 November” (Friday, item 12). Do we really know what we are getting if a Labor government is elected next Saturday? While Kevin Rudd is currently lulling everyone into a sense of security with his plagiarism of Liberal policies, Peter Garrett has let slip that they will change all that after the election. What if there is even more subterfuge than even Kevin Rudd knows about? What if the unions are only laying low till after the election? Then they will expect Kevin Rudd to “grease their palm” for the support they have given him. If he doesn’t it is simply a matter of creating dissatisfaction with his leadership via disruption around the country. We all know how expert they are in this field. Then they install via Caucus majority a more cooperative “leader” as Prime Minister, e.g. Julia Gillard and Australia is the loser of our democracy, lifestyle, jobs, mortgages, houses businesses the list goes on.

A tough job:

Len Keating writes: Alison Hill (Friday, comments) has one of the toughest jobs in politics, trying to convince us that Morris Iemma is a competent, dedicated, hard-working politician, and I’m deeply sceptical of her assertion that Mocca is in the habit of calling colleagues “late into the night” to debate policy detail. Then again, it would explain why so much Iemma government policy sounds like it was formulated by people who were half asleep.


Nathan Quigley writes: I have a suggestion for David MacCormack (Friday, comments) as he sets about his task of bringing the NSW government to task for their shameless pork-barrelling subsidisation of City Rail. Why not let the finance and retail industries fund the trains, just as the cattle and mining industries are to fund roads in western Queensland? Surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander…

Where is Phillip Ruddock?

Sandra Burston writes: Where is Phillip Ruddock? What does he have to say? Where is he hiding? Is he actually standing for re-election? I have heard nothing in any of the media outlets for months! Kevin Andrews has also been very quiet?

Forgive me Crikey:

Malcolm MacKerras writes: Re. “Mackerras: Memo Fran Kelly, the psephologist always knows” (Friday, item 15). Forgive me Crikey for I have sinned. Having berated Fran Kelly for her failure to notice landslide predictions by two psephologists I neglected to mention one myself. He is Geoff Lambert of Sydney. For the record Lambert is predicting a 44-seat Labor majority, Peter Brent is predicting a 30-seat Labor majority while I have been predicting (and continue to predict) a 28-seat Labor majority. I should mention that I learnt this fact by consulting the site of William Bowe, for whom I gave a plug last time. I should also have noted that his site is called “The Poll Bludger”.

Louise Crossley writes: Re. Malcolm Mackerras’s insufferable piece on Friday. I wouldn’t mind him bragging “when my predictions turn out to be correct.” It’s bragging before they’ve even been tested that gets up one’s nose.

Drugs and the AFL:

Craig Cadby writes: Re. “A 1% chance: The stats on the AFL’s farcical drug regime” (Friday, item 32). Why do the sports writers in Crikey and everywhere else keep banging on about AFL and NRL drug policies not being tough enough when there is no problem of performance enhancing drugs in the sports? That players choose to use drugs outside of work, whether it is alcohol or tobacco or marijuana or cocaine or caffeine, has nothing to do with their employer unless it affects their performance on the job.


Steven McKiernan writes: Re. “Rundle’s morning haiku” (Early Campaign Edition: Day 36, item 6).

Guy Rundle desist
from making cross sentence jumps
with poetic words

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