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The polls predicted the Coalition win

By Peter Bowden - posted Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The media seem beside themselves in what they describe as inaccurate forecasting of the results of the recent Australian election, As one media source says in headline news:

2019 Political Opinion Polls Show Themselves to be Deeply Flawed.

There were two polls remember. These flaws were only in one set of polls. The second showed who was preferred Prime Minister. And this has consistently shown us that Scott Morrison was the preferred Prime Minister. Even after the debacle of the Coalition's ousting of Malcolm Turnbull, the polls showed us that Morrison was the preferred Prime Minister.


The media frequently confused the two polls.The media tells us that:

Pollsters 95 per cent unsure how they got it wrong The nation's pollsters are facing calls for greater transparency and an overhaul of their number-crunching after spectacularly missing the result of the federal election.

The Essential poll published by The Guardian and the Ipsos poll published by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, consistently pointed to the same outcome – a Labor victory.

In another example, the Asia Times reported just after the Turnbull replacement that "opposition leader Bill Shorten is still poised to win the May 18 election" that same news source reported that Morrison was chosen as Australia's "accidental Prime Minister" on August 24, 2018 and was polled as preferred Prime Minister then. He subsequently increased his lead as preferred PM to 13 points over Labor leader Bill Shorten by 45 to 32 per cent.

This polling difference is massive. The election was fought between the two leaders. As former Liberal leader John Hewson put it: "Morrison ditched the Liberal Party and ran on his own."

We are genetically wired to follow our leaders. We have been following leaders for thousands of years, usually to our advantage, but sometimes with massively disastrous results.Developments in both the natural and social sciences suggest that leadership and followership share common properties across humans and other animals, pointing to our ancient roots and evolutionary origins. Leadership with an evolutionary perspective is a new science. One finding was that the dominant or more powerful individual becomes the leader. Now, with democracy giving all of us an equal say we can now vote for our leader, or at least respond to a pollster asking who we preferred. We told those pollsters who we preferred. It is little wonder that Scott Morrison with a 13-point advantage, won the election. The polls had told us so. People told the pollsters that they were going to support the Labor Party, for its policies were their preferred options. Again, research by the bucket load tells us that we evolved as moral animals, wanting to care for our fellow human beings. Some examples of this research are Matt Ridley (The origins of virtue) , Neil Levy (What makes us Moral), Frans de Waal (Primates and Philosophers, How Morality Evolved), Richard Joyce (The Evolution of Morality) and E. O. Wilson (Sociobiology). So we supported the Labor Party's platform, and said yes to the pollster; but when it came to voting, many of us realised that meant supporting a leader we did not want.


There may have been other reasons for the swing away from the Labor party than a dislike of Bill Shorten. One was his dividend imputation scheme. Under such a scheme, tax paid by a company may be attributed, or imputed, to the shareholders by way of a tax credit to reduce the income tax payable on a distribution. Pensioners pay no tax, so for some years, have received a payment from the government equivalent to the credit. Shorten campaigned to end that payment on the argument that people who pay no tax should not get a payment. Pensioners strongly objected. This observer disagrees with the Labor argument. A company pays its dividends after the payment of its tax, so shareholder dividends are reduced by that tax, When pensioners are paid their dividends, tax had already paid. Pensioners, who pay no tax, have their dividends reduced by tax already paid. They were entitled to compensation.

The second issue was the Adani mine, a massive coal deposit in central Queensland, The Greens and Labor objected to it being opened for mining. Queenslanders wanted the jobs it would provide. Labor lost strongly in Queensland, and now has no seats North of Brisbane. The Adani coal would be exported, but it still does raise a difficult ethical issue: jobs versus the mining of coal. If you have a family with children to support, where would you stand on Adani and its jobs?

Adani and dividend imputation aside, a more demanding question is why Bill Shorten was so much on the nose. Asks the guests at your next dinner party and you will get a dozen reasons: He is not likeable, he is arrogant and a bully, has elements of a trade union thug about him. Remember it was only in2014 when we had the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, one of which was the AWU, of which Bill Shorten had been national secretary. The Commissiont recommended criminal charges against some unionists, although not Shorten.

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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