Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

The One Nation Effect – temporary or structural?

Posted by Possum Comitatus on August 13, 2008

Continuing on from the other day where had a bit of a squiz at a chart of the Coalition primary vote and the havoc One Nation seemed to wreak on it, today we might have a closer look at how the One Nation effect has played out on both parties. We know that One Nation caused the Coalition enormous chunks of grief throughout their brief cameo appearance on the national political stage, to the point where the 1998 election result itself was determined by One Nation preferences rather than silly myths about well targeted marginal seat campaigns. If a handful of One Nation branches decided to preference the other way, or preference at all (or even consistently) in many cases, Australian politics could have had a rather different face over the last 10 years.

To start with, some basic facts would be handy; in the 1998 election, one Nation ran in 135 seats, picked up 8.4% of the national vote and their preferences flowed 53.7% to the Coalition and 46.3% to the ALP.

The tricky bit about identifying the One Nation effect is trying to nail the period of time it was operating while also controlling for any longer term trends that may have been running, as well as trying to pick out any permanent structural change that One Nation may have caused on the primary and two party preferred votes of the majors.

What follows isn’t a definitive look by any means, more of an exploration of the data so feel free to request any equations or relationships that you think might be pertinent here.

Firstly, there’s a big quadratic time trend running through the primary and TPP votes of the majors since Newspoll started back in 1985.


Dunno :mrgreen:

Could be lots of reasons, demography being one of them. But we know it’s there.

So first we’ll run a series of basic regressions where we’ll regress the primary and TPP votes of the ALP and Coalition against a quadratic time trend and a One Nation dummy variable that starts in April 1997 (when the party was created) and continues through to the present. Essentially this dummy variable assumes that the One Nation effect was permanent on the vote levels of the ALP and Coalition. That’s not to say that this assumption is purely or even partially correct, just that it’s what we are assuming for now and we have to start somewhere. The equation for each of the vote types of the majors is given, followed by the visual represnetation. These series are all serially correlated up the wazoo so we can adjust the standard errors to accommodate, but removing the serial correlation itself is an impossible mugs game in survey time series because the underlying human behaviour is in large part driven by it. As usual, all the charts can be blown up by clicking on them.

Coalition Primary Vote:

Coalition Two Party Preferred Vote:

ALP Primary Vote:

ALP Two Party Preferred Vote:

From this, since One Nation was created (and after controlling for the quadratic time trend), the Coalition has lost an average of 6 points on their primary vote, but only 4.3 on their TPP vote. Yet, the ALP has gained 2.8 points on their primary and 4.3 on their TPP.

One possibility that fits well, is that the 2.8 points the ALP gained came directly (over the longer term)  from the LNP. That would leave the ALP needing 1.5 points of the TPP vote to pick up (The 4.3 they gained in TPP minus the 2.8 they gained on the primary). If we then look at the Coalition vote, they lost 6 points. If 2.8 of those went to the ALP, that leaves 3.2 going elsewhere (initially to One Nation, but to other parties since), of which 1.5 of those (46%) flowed back to the ALP in preferences. That would be consistent with the original1998 One Nation preference flows mentioned earlier, which may have anchored the broader pattern after 1998 as the One Nation vote dissipated elsewhere.

The other problem here though is that the One Nation effect may have only been temporary, and that any permanence of it may have simply washed into the larger prevailing quadratic time trend. For instance, if we limit the One Nation variable to operate only through the period of April 1997 when they were created, through to the 2001 election (after which they effectively ceased to be a force) and run the regressions again, we get:

Coalition Primary Vote:

Coalition Two Party Preferred Vote:

This looks visually interesting – with the Coalition losing 4.4 on the primary and 3.9 on the TPP. However, this specification of the One Nation effect throws up something a little weird for the ALP primary vote.

The TPP regression results for the ALP are the same (but opposite sign) to the Coalition (obviously) with an ALP gain of 3.9 on the TPP – but the primary vote ends up like this:

ALP Primary Vote

The ALP gained 4.4 points on their primary vote but only 3.9 on their TPP, suggesting that they were pulling primary votes off the Democrats and Greens without boosting their TPP vote.

The big question is trying to determine how much of the One Nation effect was structural (as in the first set of equations) vs. how much of the One Nation effect was temporary (the second set of equations)?

Finally, it was asked in comments of a recent post if the Coalition controlling the senate had an impact.

The Coalition took control in July 2005. It’s hard to tell if the decline started then, or at just after the 2004 election. You’ll notice a big drop just before January 2006 – Workchoices entered parliament in November 2005.


42 Responses to “The One Nation Effect – temporary or structural?”

  1. steve said

    It will be interesting to see if the Pineapple Party suffers from this same phenomenon at the next Queensland election now that the moderate Liberals have been usurped by the Nationals and the religious right of the Santo Santoro faction.

    The new shadow cabinet announced yesterday is dominated by Santoro hopefuls and old tried and failed hayseeds. I can’t remember what the average age of the Joh cabinet was but this one would not be much different. One Nation supporters also tended to have a bit of age on them too.

    The Qld conservatives look to have set themselves up for a drubbing by younger independent conservatives in both the city and the bush.

  2. steve said

    Seeing Queensland parliament was where the One Nation push was strongest Possum is it possible to do a graph on the effect of One Nation on the Queensland political situation?

  3. Possum Comitatus said

    Unfortunately it’s not Steve as there isn’t enough Qld polling data. I originally started having another look over the One Nation effect a few weeks ago, purely because of the Qld election and the Pineapple Party – but the data I need and the amount of it just doesn’t exist.

    Outside of party polling circles anyway.

  4. Steve 1 said

    Looking at the graphs there seems to be more of a Paul Keating effect on the ALP TPP vote than a One Nation effect.

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    Steve 1,

    Keating’s leadership certainly seemed to have a bit of an effect on the primary vote – food for thought!

    Sounds like another post – Ta.

    Looking at the ALP One Nation bounce, it didnt really happen until August-September. If we look at the primary vote swings of the opposition, by month, using Newspoll we get:

    (the One Nation period between April 97 and the 1998 election is shaded)- The ALP bounce didn’t really start until August – after the Coalition started playing tootsies with them.

    So the One Nation effect was definitely there – I’ll have to go and measure the PK Effect.

  6. Labor Outsider said


    Very interesting stuff

    On the quadratic trends, the proximate reason seems quite obvious to me – it is a function of the time period of the regressions. 1983 to 1985 and 2006 to 2008 represent the peaks of Labor support (1983 followed a deep recession and unpopular Fraser government) while 2006 to 2008 was the fag end of the Howard years. Similarly the period from 1991 to 1996 represent the fall out from the early 1990s recession and the deeply unpopular Keating premiership. If you had a time series going back to say 1975, a quadratic trend would no longer fit the data, and so on as you go further back in time. We could argue about what actually explains the relative popularity of the parties over the period, but all your trend is doing is picking up the relative fortunes of the parties over the survey sample period.

    There is of course an irony in this analysis – the coalition’s longest period of governance since the early 1970s occurred while the one nation effect (negative) was in operation. Thus, an even that benefited the ALP according to the regressions and disadvantaged the coalition, did not translate into government for the ALP. That is obviously because the ALP was operating from a very low base in 1996.

    Finally, the graphs also show how freakish the 1993 election really was. Labor was deeply unpopular both beforehand and after – yet it still won that election – Hewson really has no business offering political advice to anyone!!!

  7. David Richards said

    ah – if only PK had been hit by a bus in 1994, we might never have had to endure the Howard Horror.

  8. John said

    How important could the GST have been in providing the drop in Coalition support? I can’t remember exactly when it became clear that the Howard Govt would introduce it, but it certainly would have caused some drop in coalition support. The GST may well have become less of an issue around 2001 as well as it had been in place for about a year then. It would be interesting to see some attitudinal polling towards the GST throughout the time period, though I wonder how much there is. Could it be possible that the proposal of the GST encouraged a significant number of disgruntled former coalition voters to support One Nation?

  9. Antony Green said

    I’d have two caveats on the analysis. First, One Nation had a habit of doing better at elections than in Newspoll. One Nation’s 23% at the 2008 Queensland election was twice what opinion polls reported.

    I’d also throw another variable if you are trying to explain vote shifts between 1996 and 1998. The biggest single shift in Labor primary and two-party preferred vote between 1996 and 1998 occurred when Cheryl Kernot switched parties. Entirely from memory, that one event kick started the Labor vote in that period and it should be taken account of to explain change in Labor vote.

  10. Possum Comitatus said


    At the Federal level, the Newspoll estimates for One Nation weren’t so much underestimated, but just highly variable. In the June to October period leading up to 1998 election, their vote estimate swung between 13 at the highest and 7 at the lowest before ending up around 8 and a half on election day.

    In the States it was massively underestimated for every Newspoll except the last 2 or three before each election day itself, where the One Nation vote jumped dramatically in those last few polls to get much closer to the actual election result, but still generally a few points behind. The growth in the One Nation vote over the last 4 polls before the 98 QLD election is pretty funny to look at.

    The other pollsters tended to do worse than Newspoll in picking up One Nation voters – which is interesting in itself.

    The Kernot defection certainly spiked the ALP primary from October 97, pushing it from 39 to 45 overnight. But from October through until the election, that ALP primary vote became highly variable, wandering – funnily enough – between 39 and 45 over the period. The TPP vote was a little different – a spike of 3 points overnight that had washed out of the system by February of 1998.

    The TPP behaviour of the ALP was parallel to the effect of Kernot on the Libs primary – they lost 4 points from the Kernot defection in October, but had gained that back by February.

    I agree though that the One Nation effect on the ALP primary has a bit more uncertainty to it.The TPP vote though probably not as much. So saying, Kernot’s defection occurred at a pretty awkward place in the time series for trying to measure any One Nation structural effect on the major party vote.

    I might go have a squiz at the Newspoll quarterly breakdowns and see if anything interesting happened over there with the demographics of the major party votes during the period that might help.

  11. Possum Comitatus said

    OK, I created a Kernot dummy variable that starts at the beginning of October 1997 and ends at the 1998 election. I regressed the ALP Primary against a quadratic time trend, the Kernot dummy and a One Nation dummy that ran from April 97 through to the 2001 election.

    Kernot is statistically insignificant and has a coefficient of 0.87.

    Doing the same but this time using a One Nation dummy variable that starts in April 1997 and goes through to today, we end up with the Kernot being significant and having a coeff of 2.35 while the One Nation dummy is also significant and has a value of 2.0, giving us this for the visually inclined.

    Doing the same with the ALP TPP, both the permanent ON effect and the Kernot effect are significant:

    As is the Kernot effect running with a temporary ON effect that spans April 97 through to the 2001 election.

    And the results graphically

  12. Xercius said

    Poss at 3 . . . Dr Paul Reynolds has done some work on this and has an occasional paper on it (if I recall) tucked away in either the Fryer or Duhig Library at UQ. If I recall, the thrust of his findings was that the ‘strength’ of the ONP vote increased proportionally to the distance away from a metro area (and that it was almost measurable in 5km increments). PLR also noted the ‘ill-discipline’ in preference allocation.

    If I might offer a slight criticsm as well (which I keep harping on about and yet which, in this instance, you also almost posit yourself)? Impressive though the data is, it still fails to address (what I call) the Julius Sumner Miller question of, “Why is it so?” Demographics will only partly answer that question (it will fill in a lot of the blanks, but not all).

    But, a comprehensive ‘electoral analysis’ utilising some understanding of aspects of, for instnce, political socialisation would pinpoint an answer (particularly at a seat level). I really don’t think that’s the sort of thing that ‘secret squirrel (possum?)’ internal party polling will pull out for you either (by my own personal observations of it). Just something to mull.

  13. Possum Comitatus said

    How’s this Xercius, for the next post:

    Why Is It So – the Please Explain these damn curves edition!

    I’m as interested as you are in trying (and unfortunately – it will probably only ever be trying!) to get to the bottom of the long curves that we see since 1985. We’ll have a free for all and see what turns up.

  14. Xercius said

    LOL . . . deal. Sounds good.

  15. Labor Outsider said

    Sorry to harp on about this – but I really think time series regressions aren’t a great way to explain polling results. There are just too many variables that influence things, most of which are not independent of one another, and whose affect on the variable of interest probably changes over time.

    Take One Nation. You make a convincing case that the emergence of One Nation was bad for the coalition primary and 2pp vote. However, think about the factors that led to the emergence of One Nation – the underlying sociological and economic factors – concerns concerns about indigenous land rights, ooncerns about multiculturalism, the effects of widening inequality and regional economic decline, etc – and you could argue that they were the same factors that Howard exploited to bring down the Labor government in 1996. So, the story is a little more nuanced than dropping in a dummy variable during the period in which One Nation was around.

    Overall, this is what makes empirical political analysis more problematic than empirical economic analysis – the factors that influence the variables of interest are harder to measure and even more likely to be endogenous.

    That said – I still find all the work you do on these things interesting and provactive. As much as anything, it throws up questions and puzzles that aren’t otherwise discussed in the mainstream press.

  16. Possum Comitatus said

    LO – I 100% agree that time series analysis of headline quantitative polls rarely explains the underlying human behaviour of “why?”.

    But it does, as you say, find provocative relationships that then *need* to be explained. I’m probably biased in this regard, with my inner stats nerdiness coming to the fore, but just like empirical economics, once a relationship is found – far from ending the debate, the real beauty of the analysis is that it starts one!

    And although the relationships we find cant explain the cause of a given phenomenon in and of themselves, often the cause doesnt need to be found in order to reach obvious conclusions about the existence of certain relationships, conclusions that then need to be accounted for in any credible attempt to explain what is actually going on.

    And that’s what, hopefully, separates us (and by us I just don’t mean me, I mean me and you and the readers and the fellow participants of the blog) from most of the political commentary around the place – our navel gazing starts after the data, not before it or even without it! :mrgreen:

    This site has never been about saying “this is the truth:period” – but about pushing the data around in different ways, experimenting with the observable reality we can actually measure as a means to help us look at political events and politics generally from a different, and hopefully more informed perspective (that’s the aim, anyway). I’m just as happy being wrong about pushing data around as I am being right about it- the point is, we’ve explored it.

    This One Nation thing is a good example. We can see that the Coalition vote has never really recovered as a trend from One Nation rampaging across conservative Australia. We can empirically measure it in a number of ways to give backing to that view. We can measure in a rudimentary way the apparent movement of a small amount of the Coalition vote moving permanently to Labor as part of the One Nation effect.We can also measure in a rudimentary way both the temporary and structural changes that One Nation inflicted on the Coalition vote. We can also see that other events, such as the Kernot defection that Antony raised had major short term impacts as well on top of that One Nation effect.

    Which makes for a far better starting gun than the usual paint by numbers media analysis.

    But *as always* – the next thing to do, and the big question to answer is “why?”

    And a large part of the reason I do this is because (as you also mentioned) the MSM business model isn’t equipped to approach politics from this perspective.

    I know I stir the pot for all concerned in terms of orthodoxy – from political scientists through to journos through to economists, stats folk and econometricians – but that’s the point!

    Throwing the data around might lead nowhere 4 times out of 5 (well, hopefully not that often!), but it’s the hypothetical 5th time that hopefully injects new food for thought from a different, and maybe unexpected angle into the debate.

    And that can only be a good thing in the broader scheme of things.

    Especially with the audience here – we cant bullshit the readers. If I get it wrong on the pseph stats Antony is quick to give me a clip round the ears, if my stats or model specs are wrong my mail box gets inundated with angry pointy headed types, and if my facts are wrong you lot crucify the bejesus out of me :mrgreen:

    Which all makes for a different kind of look at politics, and which hopefully introduces a few new things or perspectives into the debate occasionally.

  17. gusface said

    “Which all makes for a different kind of look at politics, and which hopefully introduces a few new things or perspectives into the debate occasionally.”

    I call it reality 🙂

  18. HaHa said

    Labor Outsider,

    That’s always been my theory. The One Nation success does have to be put into context of when it happened.

  19. ChrisPer said

    The poll history are fascinating, especially in light of other contemporary events. For causes, what are the public issues that aroused the most interest through that period? The creation of One Notion took voters from the Coalition, but part of the question has to be WHY. Was it:
    1) A major part of Australia who felt disenfranchised by the political correctness around issues of immigration and race?
    2) A major part of Australia disgusted by the refugee and detention policies?
    3) Something else that really grabbed a lot of Australians where they personally hurt?

    Number 1 certainly was a lot of it, judging by the framing of news articles at the time. How many pensioners and working class people personally identified with PH and ON, as the media piled disgust and contempt on them for their very ordinary ideas? How many people joined One Nation? Did they ever have 50,000 members? These members had to have come from former Coalition voters to have the effect they did.

    Number 2 does not account for the timing of the fall. The Howard refugee policies were partly a response to ON, and public disgust was dominant in people who were unlikely to vote Coalition anyway.

    So what about Number 3? What event at the time of that fall in support caused many thousands of peole to try and join the Liberal Party, only to have their applications rejected as though morally contaminated? What event caused as many as eight hundred thousand people to feel vilified by the media in a campaign that lasted until the Olympics turned made AUstralia happy to be one nation not One Nation? What event resulted in almost four hundred thousand people to have their valued private possessions confiscated and publicly destroyed and saw the event as symbolic of media-driven public contempt for their selves and their values? What led a hundred thousand people to cough up $50 each to join a national organisation, quadrupling its size to more than three times as large as the paid membership of real people in either major political party at the time? And same event resulted in 40% of the Queensland Nationals leaving the party?

    And twelve years later, what event has still got hundreds of thousands of people living in festering resentment over offensive legislative controls framed by their political enemies and passed by John Howard?

    Buggered if I can think what such an event might have been. What do you think, if such an event had occurred would it produce that lasting effect?

  20. ChrisPer said

    Oh I forgot, such an event would have resulted in the largest public marches since the Moratorium days, tens of thousands in every major city of Australia, yet media reports would have downplayed them astonishingly while playing up tiny activist groups calling for action approved by the media.

  21. JP said

    And you guys have voted Labor ever since? Pull the other one.

  22. ChrisPer said

    One Nation, independent, Labor – anyone but Howard for many.

  23. ChrisPer said

    Interesting comment JP. Almost as though you assume that hateful people (like the ones those 1996 laws smacked down), must vote for John Howard because many of them did before. Whereas hateful racists like the pensioner hit in the head with a brick by a protestor outside a One Nation meeting COULD change their vote.

    Projection and moral status display are the roots of politically correct hatreds.

  24. ChrisPer said

    Of course, many of those hundeds of thousands were working class people and Labor voters. The overall group is really a cross-section of Australian society, never able to be ‘owned’ by any one party or ideology. Because the events of 1996 were so closely identified with Howard, they had no trouble continuing to NOT vote Liberal.

  25. JP said

    So now that Howard has gone, wouldn’t you expect those ex-Coalition voters who held a grudge on the gun issue to come flooding back? Ain’t happening.

    I’m not assuming anything about the way gun owners voted prior to 1996. You’re the one who talked about “many thousands of people [trying to] join the Liberal Party, only to have their applications rejected” and “40% of the Queensland Nationals leaving the party”. Indeed loss of Coalition primary support is all this debate is about, and I think gun control laws would have had a minor effect on that at best.

    I’ve noticed in my other discussions with gun ownership advocates a monomania that assumes that all changes that occur around the time of gun law reform (changes in crime levels, or voting intentions, for example) are automatically seen to be caused purely by gun law reform, and the importance of any other variables discounted to zero.

    I’ve also experienced the rhetorical style of “I wonder what the cause could be?” to hint at some dark conspiracy of silence to be a common theme amongst the pro-gun lobby. Maybe gun advocates are drawn to conspiracy theories, but more likely it’s because hinting at things rather than coming out and saying what you mean makes it harder to criticise the argument, as nothing has really been said. I guess gun advocates really do understand the “small target” strategy 😉

    In this case you portray gun laws as the elephant in the room, whereas I see their impact on voting intention as dwarfed by the change of Federal government, the change of Labor leadership, and the formation of the Greens and One Nation. I’m not saying the gun law reforms didn’t change anyone’s vote, but I think the net effect was much smaller than you imply.

  26. ChrisPer said

    JP, I apologise for rhetorical excess, but I note that you had no trouble identifying the issue of which I speak. The numbers of people directly and personally offended by the form of the ‘gun debate’ and the symbolic meaning of the legislative interventions is pretty hard to equal with any other issue.

    Regarding conspiracy theories, I have always been a debunker of such nonsense, and so have all my colleagues in the gun law research field. I certainly agree that a few nitwits promote them but they are not to be taken seriously.

    As for ‘monomania’ in post-hoc fallacy perhaps you could look into research conducted by the activists FOR gun control under the cloak of academic positions, such as Prof Simon Chapman, Assoc Prof Philip Alpers, Prof Kate Warner and Whatshername Ozanne-Smith. The literature is badly contaminated by activist research, both here and internationally. Or note the Greens, Democrats and Gun Control Australia, who don’t appear to know or care what the existing restrictions are, but just keep demanding more.

    In regard to ‘the elephant in the room’, I agree with you that all mentioned measures of SIZE of the demographic hurt do not correlate to the SIZE of change in voting intentions. Many are professional, business, contracting and self-employed people who are too responsible to let even an important issue like this allow them to vote detrimentally to the welfare of all Australians. Many are tribal Labor voters, and wouldn’t change. But the ones that DID change, were many and they are still offended. The Nationals in Queensland lost 40% of their membership on this issue. Are you going to tell me that was over the change in Labor leadership?

    However, the vehemence of their

  27. ChrisPer said

    attitudes over this issue remains very strong. Strong enough to put TWO Shooters Party members in the NSW upper house because no party has a platform which includes re-appraising the extremist gun laws.

  28. ChrisPer said

    So lets move to something practical. HOW could we accurately test the source of the Liberals loss of voters over time? So much of the writing on the matter is personally invested.

  29. Phil said

    JP, you seem awfully quick to dismiss ChrisPer’s argument out of hand.

    Possum, your putting this down to a ‘one nation effect’ has one major problem. If you look at one of your graphs, here;

    You can easily see that your data (blue line) shows the collapse in Coalition support starting in early 1996 (very soon after the election it appears).

    One Nation wasn’t formed until April ’97, Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech was September ’96;


    So, how can you put it down to One Nation when the collapse in support predates One Nation’s existence, or even that of the speech that kicked it off by several months to a year?

    ChrisPer’s ‘Gun Laws Effect’ argument starts to make much more sense than ascribing the effect to ON.

  30. Phil said

    Possum. Would it be possible to expand your window of data for the late ’95 thru to election ’98 time frame?

    Polls and especially any bi-elections (State or federal) would be of interest, with any bi-elections predating ONP formation being of particular interest.

  31. JP said

    Indeed, I was probably too harsh, but ChrisPer used the same rhetorical device – the “I know something you don’t” style – as another gun advocate I’ve debated, and if I was projecting anything, it was my lack of respect for the accuracy of the claims made by this other person.

    But even after accusing gun control advocates of falling for the post hoc ergo propter doc fallacy, ChrisPer continues in the same post to say of the impact of gun control: “The Nationals in Queensland lost 40% of their membership on this issue.” This was the year that One Nation formed, and attracted its heaviest support in Queensland. Are we to believe that the formation of an ultra-right party took NO members from the party that was previously furthest to the right? Putting the fall entirely down to gun control is exactly the sort of monomania I was talking about. Or did the Nats lose even more than 40% of their members, with 40% on account of guns, and even more to One Nation? Seems less than credible to me, but perhaps ChrisPer could provide the numbers on which his 40% figure is based.

    I’m sure that disaffection amongst shooters with Howard cost him votes. As ChrisPer notes, the election of Shooters Party senators is testament to that. And I’m equally sure Howard’s “tough” stance won him votes from non-shooters, if only by boosting his image as a decisive leader (one he hadn’t had up until then). I think that in the scheme of things it’s just one of many factors operating in the mid-90s, and probably a fairly minor one at that.

    I’m not sure we can pin it down from just things like polling data on voting intention, because so many of these things happened at roughly the same time. I’m still not particularly convinced on One Nation either, especially on a TPP basis. I think a lot of the pre-1996 Coalition support was support for “anyone but Keating”, and with Keating’s depature some of that was bound to fizz away.

  32. ChrisPer said

    I was just trying to find a source for the assertion that the Nats lost 40% of their members over guns. DIdn’t find it but I got this:

    Many still feel Telstra shouldn’t be sold at all and they worry how that decision will go over with voters.

    They still remember the divisive gun laws debate, when their supporters told them they opposed the laws and then made it clear at the ballot box.

    LISA MILLAR: It decimated support for the National Party, didn’t it?

    RUSSELL COOPER: Yes, it did. It brought on One Nation in big numbers and wiped us out, in that sense, and so, you know, I hope sincerely that there is a way to resolve the Telstra issue, I really do. But certainly there are parallels there, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    ELEANOR HALL: Queensland’s former Police Minister Russell Cooper speaking there to Lisa Millar.

  33. ChrisPer said

    I have to agree that the votes won FOR Howard by his gun laws were a “fairly minor one(ie factor in the 90’s) at that”, given the feral hatred dished out to him over reconciliation, refugees and so on seemed to mean that he could not be credited with any good in the eyes of the non-Liberal voter.

    The ‘decisiveness’ and ‘balls’ factors associated with it probably got him heaps of votes, I think.

  34. Xercius said

    I think, however, that we all have to consider the broader factors at play in the electorate (in particular, Queensland) at the time. ONP support was particularly strong in rural / semi-rural / regional areas, which were:
    possessed with an ‘older’ demographic;
    characterised by relatively high structural unemployment (due to);
    the ‘deterioration’ on those areas monoeconomies (upon which they were largely dependent).

    Any connection with those areas at that time or in the time prior would reveal a great deal of (long running) ‘resentment’ and hostility towards the Nats anyway. The Nats were seen as those area’s ‘natural’ and, perhap, logical party of choice, yet it had ‘betrayed’ it’s constituency in the manner in which it had conducted itself (in policy terms) in recent years. If you think about it a bit, this also explains the decision of the Member for Kennedy to become an independent. He was frustrated and angry at what he say as the Nat’s policy betrayal of ‘it’s people’.

    As an aside, this situation was largely out of the realisation by the Nats that the world was no longer flat (especially in Qld) and that the only way to get your hands on the keys to the Treasury was to do whatever was possible to remain attractive to urban voters (who have a totally different needs hierarchy to people in the regions / remote areas).

    The rise of Pauline Hansen and, eventually, ONP was essentially a manifestation of a large groundswell of silent frustrations that PH and ONP merely gave voice too. in short, it represented a sort of collective, ‘I’m-as-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-gonna-take-it-anymore’ phenomenum . . . that’s all. Naturally, there were miriad strands to this.

    That it did drag a pile of folk away from the Coalition is no real surprise . . . they had failed these folk, remember? That it also led to an increase in ALP preferences is also no real surprise if you look at things from the right angle.

    Electoral behaviour is a bizarre thing. And, as I have alluded to in the past, matters such as political socialisation, ideology and circumstance can all weave into a strong affect on that behaviour (not that any one individual self-recognises this . . . it’s virtually subliminal in its operation). It’s really only in the analysis of that behaviour that political scientists (and political sociologists in particular) use these ‘sophisticated’ terms (such as ‘ideology’) in an effort to explain that behaviour.

    Let’s return to the ONP / Nats / ALP intersection for a moment, as that provides an example easily simplified in terms of ‘ideology’.

    Most reasonable analysis of these parties using a ‘checklist’ of ideology identifiers / markers / characteristics would easily pick the intersection pionts. In the broad, however, these are worker / battler representation / collective issues. The Nats were and remain essentially a left-wing agrarian party. The ALP has (cough) long been the champion of the worker and is (at least a little) politically left of the Libs. ONP stood to represent the interests of ‘the battler’, who had really been disenfranchised from (and powerless within) society through — largely — (un)employment related / industry-in-death-throw issues (for example, my analysis of the actual structural unemployment rate in places like Caboolture in the period of the late to mid 90s led me to conclude it to be in the order of 20 – 32 percent).

    So, from this it is not a large leap to see that these three seemingly disparate entities actually had a massive common underpinning: the interests of the many before the interests of the individual (unlike the Libs who resolutely stick to the view of society as a number of rights bearing ciphers). That ONP possessed little rigour, basis or reality underpinning their enunciations was irrelevent. They were getting lots of ‘Yeah!’out there. They were expressing empathy and understanding of and for a large, grumpy, cleavage in society. Ultimately, however, it was this that was to be their downfall.

    The hitherto-Nats supporters dragged into the ONP fold eventually found themselves marooned in a political no-mans land when ONP began to fade away. The anger had been expressed, the frustrations had been given voice and the majors (and ONP critics) had been smart enough to either:
    use ONP enunciations as an opportunity for robust debate on issues and, with it, conduct an ‘education’ of the electorate on some policy actualities and underpinning realities (as distinct from its uninformed conceptions), or;
    subsume the ONP position and claim it as one of its own.

    But, with ONP withering on the vine and with ex, jaundiced, Nat supporters having had the spell of committment to that party broken, they could now vote as per their conscious would allow. They had gone through the flirtation, the separation and, ultimately, the divorce and were now truly free. And, when looking around subsequently at the party that best expressed — through policy — the protection of their interests and what they consider to be dear, they fell predominately to the ALP. At the end of the day they are both at about the same point of the political ideology spectrum.

    Now . . . very little of this happens consciously. It’s subtle and occurs on many levels. But, that’s my brief version of what I consider to be the ‘why’ factors at play here.

  35. ChrisPer said

    So Xercious, I like that ‘only now we are betrayed do we become free to vote’ analysis. I know the Nats are interventionists of the more self-interested stripe, but saying that makes them akin to Labor is a stretch. Have the losses to the Libs been allocated among others, in measurable ways that follow your analysis?

    So help me out in my private issues… a widespread, whiny, furious monomania capable of lasting twelve years did, or did not, make a big difference to the permanent loss of Lib voters in early 1996?

  36. Xercius said

    Hi ChrisPer

    I’ll take it in parts.

    What I’m arguing is that the intersections between the Nats and the ALP are a lot closer and numerous then you might think. Particularly, though, IF you are evaluating them through the filter of attribution to a particular ideology. It’s when you look at ideological characteristics and identifiers such as: conceptions of knowledge; world view; views on environment; conceptions on society and ‘humans’, for instance, that you see the similarities more clearly. So, the similarities are a lot more in deep-down basis and reasons for their individual reasons for existance (and this can be seen with application of a bit of discourse analysis around policy positions as well) than them both being ‘interventionist’.

    It is true that the losses to the Libs — post ONP and in Queensland at least — did flow to Others to some extent. But, those Others (who might have been considered as ONP diehards with no harbour to call ‘home’) have since returned to either the ALP (in the main: let’s not forget that there was a lot of leakage from disaffected ALP voters to ONP as well) or the Nats. And, the clues to that eventuality were always there, with only about 50 per cent of ONP voters ‘following the ticket’ with their allocation of preferences (if they preferenced at all under Queensland’s OPP system).

    With respect to your ‘private issue’? I don’t think so. Certainly it hasn’t been contenanced or identified as a (pardon the pun) smoking gun by any of the literature that I have been privvy to in the last 10 years or so.

    Rather (and I’m confining my observations to Queensland here) it was factors such as the insistance on running three cornered contests across the state and the Libs. Or, at the party level, failing to gain any ‘patronage’ on the ground in rural and regional areas due to them reverting to type (ie, the ‘Merchant Princes’ of the Urban / Regional Urban areas) that plumped them head to head with the ALP in the towns and cities . . . where they were slaughtered.

    The ‘furious monomania’, while real and indeed resiliant, would only represent a minority of the vote within a constituency that has broadly moved on and is in agreement with all that happened. No . . . the seeds of the Libs reduction to being a PO Box for the Federal party were planted long before then (probably in the 80s circa Fitzgerald).

  37. Xercius said

    It occurs to me, however, that none of this really answers the question of: The One Nation Effect — Temporary or Structural?

    Despite this, I think there are some clues available that can lead us to an answer. In my mind, the answer irrespective is actually ‘neither’. If anything, the ‘ONP effect’ — such as might be identifiable — might be arguable as being more ‘correctional’. Yes it was temporary, but it has also had structural affects. These affects could be (and have been) argued as precipitating (in Queensland) a return to a more ‘natural government’ for the state.

    Maybe, then, it’s the question itself that is wrong. Perhaps it needed to be, “The One Nation AFFECT: reality or myth?” But, even then, I don’t think there’s a truly definative answer.

    It’s a bit like the difference between truth and fact. Fact is generally immutable and irrefutable, while truth is usually in transition due to the context within which it resides. In my mind, then, ONPs affect and effect are / were more truth than fact and both were manifested and promulgated with the assistance of an electorate that was already engaged in some form of ideological transition.

  38. Phil said

    Xercius. I see the ‘One Nation Effect’ as temporary.

    It couldn’t have started before ON as an entity was formed, and it wasn’t even a concept before PH’s maiden speech.
    However, the collapse in coalition support predates both of these. Your argument to start with doesn’t fit with those observed facts.

    You argue several general issues. The graphed support level drops abruptly, that suggests one large issue, not many.

    And if ‘the ON effect’ was more permanent, ipso facto, ONP would have had more ongoing support, measured by the polls, and even by seats held. It isn’t there, hasn’t been for some time.

    What fits is that ONP was merely the temporary residence of a large protest vote.

    Could denial (NO! – it couln’t, MUSTN’T be that!) on the part of the coalition hierarchy (and that of the chattering class) be based on ideology? If it is, then I argue the slump in coalition electoral support is not being objectively assessed.

    There is precedence – that of the drubbing Labor received at the hands of the shooters in 1988. I further argue is that it matters not just how many have a position on an issue, but how important it is to them (a #1 issue held by 5% probably outweighs a #10 issue for 60% of the electorate – a weighting factor).

  39. Xercius said

    Phil, I agree with you that the ONP effect is / was temporary. But, I still think that it has nevertheless preciptated some structural change in electoral behaviour. And, again, I stress that my observations are within a Queensland context only, as I assume yours are as well.

    I would also suggest to you that my argument does fit in with the observable reality. ONP’s rise did not happen in a vacuum, nor did it alone galvanise the masses into marching into their arms. The sentiments, views and opinions in the electorate that ultimately underpinned ONP support were long there. It’s just that those views were previously BEST expressed (no matter how egregiously) by, say, the Nats.

    You have to consider, also, that politics in Queensland is not so much about Labor Vs ‘Conservatives’ in a directly head-to-head, combatative sense. Rather it is a contest of Labor and non-Labor. That’s a subtle distinction.

    You also have to consider the affects of Fitzgerald in this era. It wasn’t just the political upheaval that occurred circa ’87 – ’89, but the aftermath, including Mike Ahern’s ‘Lock Stock and Barrel’ implementation of the Fitzgerald recommendations (and the EARC reforms attendant to that). There was also the ineptitude of the short running ‘Bob and Joan’ show immediately after Goss. From all of that, though, it’s a case of ‘pick an issue’. There is no definative ‘one’. But, the combination of all these things damaged conservative support in hitherto unforseen or predicted ways . . . and it was ongoing.

    The reason ONP did not have ongoing support is also for a variety of reasons. First, they were — as I suggest — something of a ‘pop-off’ valve. Once the pressure has been released, the momentum in the electorate slowed. Second, their very existance led to an explosion of rigourous debate: cognitive dissonance will only hold out so long against demonstratable reason and logic. Third, they failed to capitalise on prior electoral success. For instance, in the ’96 (? I think) state election they very nearly won the seat of Ipswich on prefs. Next election, they didn’t even field a candidate. Finally, you have to recognise the extent to which the majors adopted ONP policies — albeit better gift wrapped and perhaps expressed — within their own policy platforms. This had a very effective nullifying effect on anything they attempted to get up.

    I agree, however, that ONP did provide a temporary residence for a ‘protest’ vote. This then shifted to ‘others’ to some extent. But, by the time two more elections had passed (and ONP were well on the ropes) most of the ‘others’ vote had sulked off to Labor. This circumstance has been confirmed by independent and expert electoral analysis conducted on behalf of the QEC.

    I would also question your assertion that Labor received a ‘drubbing in ’88 at the hands of the shooters’. That’s not my recollection of that particular election. And, while I do think that importance of issue is a factor, it does the aggregated expressions of those folk little good if they are dispersed far and wide throughout the realm. Rather, they need to be concentrated (I’m thinking Gympie here) for there to be any real electoral-result affect resulting.

  40. […] Nation posed for Howard is that not only did One Nation significantly reduce the LNP primary vote, almost half of the One Nation vote went to Labor via preferences. So for every 1% of One Nation Vote the 2PP Coalition primary vote was reduced by approx. 0.5%. […]

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