The questions we’re asking after the Federal Election result

Cannings Purple 21 May 2019
3 mins
Prime Minister Scott Morrision, Bill Shorten, Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson.

Saturday night answered one big question for the Australian populace – Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Coalition Government are now set to lead the country through the next three years.

But the opinion poll-defying result also threw up considerable discussion: about the winners, the beaten, the way our country evaluates voting intentions and what to make of the Jokers in the election pack.

Cannings Purple’s Government Relations team takes a look at some of the more interesting questions in the wake of this country’s 46th Federal Election.

Clive and Pauline – what did they actually achieve?

Much was made of how Clive Palmer spent $60 million without securing as much as a single Senate spot. And Pauline Hanson’s One Nation failed to win a seat in the House of Representatives, even though Malcolm Roberts appears destined to rejoin the Senate. But their impact on the election goes much deeper – in WA’s Brand, Cowan, Moore, Pearce and Perth, for example, the primary vote dipped for both Liberal and Labor and flowed to  One Nation and the UAP. But as result of preference deals these votes in turn flowed back to the Coalition, dashing Labor’s hopes of grabbing key WA seats.

Bold ideas, but were there too many?

Labor went into the election with a reformist agenda – including major policies relating to taxation, superannuation, health and climate change. But in the wake of the loss, commentators have suggested the platform was too big, too bold and too plentiful, especially given the Coalition’s comparatively minimalist approach.  WA’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan weighed in on the post mortem suggesting “because they (Labor) had so much to talk about, people couldn’t latch on to a single thing.”

Why were the polls so wrong?

This is the question that everyone has been asking since Saturday night’s result – and there is no easy answer. Unscientific thoughts on the vast disparity between pre-election opinion polling and actual voting results spanned everything from people no longer having home phones to the view posed on Sky News on Saturday night that conservative voters are cagey about telling pollsters who they are voting for. Other potential contributing factors raised by experts included: voluntary polling being largely confined to those of higher educational status and oversampling the politically engaged…therefore not being reflective of compulsory voting results across a much broader population. Whatever the cause, after similar results with Trump and Brexit, it’s hard to disagree with political scientist Andy Marks’ assessment of “a cataclysmic era of polling”. Whether the method of polling – or the faith placed in it – will change going forward, remains to be seen.

How will the Coalition flesh out its policies?

The flipside to the Coalition’s success with a stripped-back campaign is that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his team now have some substantial work to do – it’s difficult to envision them tackling the next three years without some expansion of the policies they took to the polls. In some ways, after the turbulence of three PMs in six years, Mr Morrison has the opportunity to start with a clean page but there are clearly policy challenges ahead. Watch this space.

When will we have answers in the energy space?

Energy and climate policy have been fiercely contested in the Coalition. With the National Energy Guarantee gone, there is no longer a mechanism for how electricity emissions might be cut by 26 per cent by 2030. This could prompt concern from WA LNG producers that more of the emission reduction burden will fall to them. The Liberal Party went into the election with a focus on lowering energy prices for consumers but only one commitment towards cleaner energy, in the shape of Snowy Hydro 2.0. It is not certain who will be the new energy minister and if climate change policy will be handled under the environment portfolio.. Fair to say, there will also be interest (and opportunities) for the business sector to engage with the government as it develops energy and climate policies in this new term.

And in Scott Morrison’s words … “How good is Queensland?”

It seems that Queenslanders were the only ones not shocked by the election results, especially in their home state. Jobs, the economy and Adani’s proposed Carmichael Coal mine were all seen as major election issues in Queensland, which has a state Labor government that will head to the polls itself in 2020. With the Adani mine still in limbo pending state government approvals, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her team will be watched with interest in the months to come.

Canning’s Purple’s Government Relations team members are experts at engaging with politicians and government departments – if you need help, contact one of the team.

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