16 thoughts on “late early election in Australia (confirmed)

  1. Rudd’s now denied 7 September or that he has even made a decision. I suspect e are now looking at October.

    A certain section of the Labor Right would like Rudd to call an early election, save the furniture (restrict seat losses without actually winning) and then hopefully move on from politics leaving the ALP to its natural masters, that is to say, themselves. Rudd would like to win the election.

    The result is a stream of leaks suggesting Date X where that date is as soon as possible.

    Rudd’s denial means Fairfax, which is usually more careful, has been sucked in by one of these leaks. In turn I was sucked in by Fairfax.

  2. There are 150 MHRs. The Coalition starts on 73 seats, effectively on 75 because the 2 country independents are not recontesting so those have to be regarded as certain Coalition gains. Labor starts on 71 and needs to win seats to take a majority.

    It is just possible that Labor could win 6 seats in Queensland, where Rudd is massively popular and there is an unpopular state government. The question then becomes the Coalition taking seats elsewhere, most likely in NSW where Labor is being murdered (deservedly) by the corruption issue.

    There could be some swapping of seats in WA and SA, but not enough to effect the result. Victoria, Gillard’s home state, probably maxed out for Labor in 2010 so you’d have to expect the pendulum to swing back a little. Tasmania is hard to predict either way and in any case only 5 seats are in play there.

    Abbot has declared that he will not form a minority government, but that is fairly predictable given the remaining independents are quite anti-LNP.

    My first preference will go to the Bullet Train Party. One of the excellent things available to you in STV/AV is throwing a first preference to an issue party and then getting on to the serious choices between candidates who can actually be elected.

    The fate of the independents is quite hard to pick. I’d hope the Greens retain Melbourne and they could just possibly take a seat in inner Sydney where they already hold the state seat of Balmain. Katter’s new party could possibly take 1 or 2 seats in Far North Queensland from the Coalition. Katter himself is certain to be re-elected.

    The senate is hard to read at this stage, although the prospect of the LNP having a majority (the expected result when Gillard was prime minister) is now almost nil.

    Note to MSS
    I don’t seem to be able to use the Paste function in comments.

  3. Former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has just announced he’ll be the Labor candidate for Forde. These State/Federal hops are rarer in Australia than in Canada and (especially) the USA, but if Beattie gets in, he’ll join former NSW Premier Bob Carr on the ALP frontbench.
    Territory Chief Ministers – Paul Everingham (NT CLP) and Gary Humphries (Lib, ACT) – end up going into federal politics more often than do Premiers of actual States.

    • In the USA, the number of governors who go on to serve in the House must be tiny. The Senate is a different matter, and the mode of election makes that unsurprising: a governor has already won a statewide plurality, and might expect a decent chance of being able to do so again in a Senate election. Therefore, I assume the reference Tom makes to these moves from state executive to national legislator being common in the USA refers to Senators.

      Another reason why running for the first chamber of the federal legislature might be more common in parliamentary systems is that it’s a potential path to being a member of the federal executive. Not so (or only very indirectly) in a presidential system.

      I actually was not aware that premiers becoming national legislators was common in Canada, as Tom implies.

  4. Contra Tom (but hoping to avoid a contretemps) Antony Green counts 31 premiers and 2 chief ministers who have gone to Canberra. Admittedly a third of those were at Federation and another third between Federation and WWII, so it has become much rarer in the last 70 years.

  5. This more or less seals Step 1 of the Rudd strategy which is to parlay Rudd’s personal standing in Queensland into 6 seats in that state. The big question now is whether Labor can hold its seats in NSW, despite the corruption issue in the NSW branch.

    I wouldn’t expect any former premiers of NSW to get the same eager welcome as Beattie.

    I am working on a post on anti-corruption agencies, but meanwhile the true political junkie may be interested in the ICAC report on the NSW mess.

  6. No contretemps sought. For Australia, I was quoting from memory and the past 68 years: for Canada, I was thinking of the prominent cases of Tommy Douglas, Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh but hadn’t particularly crunched the numbers.

    It does seem odd, though, that in Australia the lure of “upgrading” from a State government to the Federal Parliament has faded since Federation, especially since World War II. One would assume all else being equal that as the Commonwealth grows in power and influence (especially financial) over the States, it would attract those who seek power, especially if they get to hand out more and bigger giant-sized novelty cheques to schools, hospitals and local councils around the country instead of facing talkback listeners angry about traffic jams or crime rates.

    By contrast, despite the ever closer union taking place in Europe, Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Nigel Farage all seem to have regarded their service as Euro-MPs as a warm-up for their main act back home in Westminster. (The Ashdowns and Ashtons, who regard Brussels as a promotion, seem to be the ones who were widely viewed as failures in British domestic politics).

    I suppose that when a federal legislature is newly formed, it’s inevitable that for the first decade or two its members will be politicians who cut their teeth in politics in the member States. This would slow off over time as federal politics builds up its own pool of talent and State politics branches off into its own world. Perhaps this factor balances the attraction of a more powerful central parliament.

    As for translating “entered federal politics” from Australian into US terms: any former head of a State government who seeks a legislative seat is not going to be content with a downgrade to lowly backbencher. (Mark Sanford is an exceptional case: winning back his old seat was about the furthest he can now get in his career). For a US State Governor, US Representative is a step down, true. But Senator is approximately equal in status, for the reasons MSS outlines; federal Cabinet secretary seems to be a position attractive enough to entice Governors like George Romney, John Sununu, Bill Richardson and Paul Cellucci to swap the mansion for a seat in the White House table; and, of course, President or Veep is the ultimate prize. In Australia, you don’t get a chance at Cabinet unless you have a seat in the House or Senate, nor at PrM or Treasurer (the top two political positions in Australia) unless you’re in the House. (Bob Carr seemed happy with a Senate seat but (a) he didn’t have to face an election for it, and (b) Carr – a cerebral, intellectual type a` la DP Moynihan [and also, curiously, a doppelganger of the beardless Abe Lincoln] – is probably happier as Foreign Minister). So: in the US, the House of Reps is a diversion from the path to executive power as H Gov, Deputy H Gov or Cabinet member; in Australia, it’s a normal way station along that path.

  7. Even more striking that Governors seem happy to become federal Cabinet secretaries given that this means resigning a position with a fixed term or two or even four years in exchange for a position dismissible at will by the President. Not only is the former number #1 executive officer now number #3 (at most) but unlike number #2 (the Veep), Sebelius, Napolitano, Todd Whitman, and Toms Vilsack, Ridge, or Thompson (interesting how many names come to mind just since 2001 alone!) no longer enjoy tenure.

    • Very interesting discussion here on federal-state career paths! I actually do not know, but I would guess that the governors who give up their tenured elected post for a cabinet position are usually in their second term, and hence know they will be looking for a job within the next two years anyway.

      Work by Peter Ordeshook and Olga Shvetsova on parties in federations is quite relevant here. The point, as I recall it, is that the US is fairly unusual in federal systems in having a lot of cross-level mobility in career paths. I am thinking of either, or perhaps both, of the following:

      “Federalism and Constitutional Design,” The Journal of Democracy, 8(1): 27-42, 1997.

      “If Hamilton and Madison Were Merely Lucky, What Hope is there for Russian Federalism?” with Peter Ordeshook, Constitutional Political Economy, 6(2): 107-26, 1995.

  8. @ Tom, 11, while what you said about governors becoming cabinet members is true, how often are they really fired? Though I will admit that many of what I call “resignations” may have come from a president saying “Hold a press conference announcing your retirement, or else.”

  9. @Tom

    I was a tad surprised to read the Antony Green article. I’d understood, like you, that it was very rare.

  10. Alan, I’m kicking myself that I’d forgotten Fahey and Lawrence who (unlike Lang and Gair) transferred within the past two decades.

    On the other hand, Antony Green seems to have omitted John Olsen. It’s true that Olsen’s two-year stint as a (never-elected) South Australian Liberal Senator occurred before – not after – his time as South Australian Liberal Premier: on the other hand, it did occur after his first, unsuccessful stint in State politics as South Australian Liberal Opposition Leader. So Olsen followed the Jon Corzine rather than the Angus King route.

  11. It is fair, if unkind, to suggest that during the second Bush Administration (or, more accurately, the first and second Administrations of the second Bush), fear of presidential sacking was not a Damoclean sword over the heads of many Cabinet officials and other high-level nominees (Rumsfeld, “Brownie”, Mineta, and Harriet Miers spring to mind). Compared to being Governor of, say, Illinois (4 of the last 7 now in the big house), it would seem like quite comfortable tenure…

    (PS: Possibly there are analogous cases in the Obama Administration but the jury is still out. Whereas the verdict of history on the Bush figures named is already in. Hence the selection of those examples…)

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