Saturday, January 31, 2015

Time for electoral reform: reposted from 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

FNQ surrounded by unicameral majoritarian tyranny

At Club Troppo, Nicholas Gruen has posted the unexpergated version of an opinion by Mike Pepperday in last weeks AFR. This provides a perspective on the problematic instability of PNG politics. There is also some interesting background to the history of the political structure:
In 1975 the Whitlam government set up PNG with a single chamber of parliament (a “unicameral” system) to which MPs were elected from single-member electorates (so-called “majoritarian” representation). This design—a single chamber composed of electorates each represented by a single member—has never worked for any country.
Where did Australian officials get the idea? In 1975 the only Australian instance was Queensland. World-wide, there were only two democratic examples. One was New Zealand, at that time unicameral for 25 years and regretting it even more than they had regretted the bicameral parliament they had had for a century. The other was Northern Ireland, at that time in flames. In short, they had no model; they experimented. Other majoritarian, unicameral countries were Mauritius, then under a state of emergency, and some catastrophic African states.
Perhaps it had something to do with Gough's regard for the Senate as it couldn't possibly have been influenced by his respect for Joh Bjelke-Petersen (Note: I think the term was "bible bashing bastard")? It does however also place Queensland in an intersting position given the history and current lopsided parliament, with NZ and Northern Ireland having both since replaced the unicameral majoritarian structure. The NT was also established by Whitlam as a unicameral majoritarian structure, which means FNQ is surrounded!

Pepperday's comments on PNG also deserve at least some contemplation in context of the recent post here at Loose Change on PNG and political stability:
Australia and New Zealand have propped up Pacific countries since their independence. They can go on propping up the micro-states indefinitely but PNG, with its six million people and its resource wealth, is becoming independent of our handouts. Private security companies are moving in and guns are flooding in. A showdown looms. The prospect is for civil strife and take over by the colonels. They will bring order, Torrens title, ethnic cleansing, and refugee camps on Cape York.
Quite colourful and perhaps hyperbole, but we do appear to be quite sanguine and perhaps complacent about the possibility and consequences of  political dysfunction in PNG for the Far North?

Update: Failed statehood. Is it time for an(other) NT intervention?

Queensland unhinged: Polls, pundits and the odds (updated)

As the Queensland polls draw closer to closure may I reflect on my post of the first weekend of the campaign: Polls, pundits and the odds.
There was an excellent post yesterday at the Oz by Jack the Insider with an allegedly unique combination of polls and betting odds but who am I to doubt such an esteemed psephologist: Gambling on Queensland's Future
That leaves us with LNP 44, Labor 41, KAP 3, Independent 1 and a hung parliament. Minority government. Delicious chaos.
Don’t forget, this method comes with a five seat differential. It’s entirely possible the LNP can scramble to 45 seats or perhaps one or two more and govern in its own right but Labor most certainly cannot.

Jack came to a baseline 38 for the ALP with a further 9 vulnerable based on the odds: Springwood, Albert, Mirani, Pine Rivers, Everton, Pumicestone, Broadwater and Barron River and one held by an independent (the seat of Gaven). Jack has an excellent analysis of the oddball Queenslander seats such as Gaven and the ghosts of Pauline Hansen which may play a role in any hung outcome with potential for surprises. I will ignore these seats prone to insanity.
I only looked at the Sportsbet odds and managed to get the key seat odds there this morning before they closed the book. I did a quick tally of individual seats on Sportsbet yesterday which had LNP 48, ALP 37, Others 4. I compiled a Sportsbet list today where the odds were close enough for the outsider to be less than $5. I have Burleigh also in my vulnerable LNP list but now wondering if I got the odds the wrong way around on that? 
Anyway to go back to the first week of the campaign when I compiled the initial data the spread of seats now regarded as critical looked like this with odds translated to probabilities:

That was first weekend of the campaign. Red are the ones where odds currently favour ALP. The pattern there is exactly what you would expect. Now look at this for these electorates with the probability v the current margin derived from Antony Green at ABC:
Again what should be expected at an early stage with odds correlated with margin. The one most divergent there is Ashgrove again should be expected. So how has this changed between the first weekend and today for these critical electorates:
No longer an even curve and a distinct split with whoever is favourite opening a lead. What does the XY scatter look like:
Same again with a split between the two. No idea what it means but will be curious as to how the results and odds work out.
To get to a hung parliament the ALP need to get at least three of those nine or so most contested where the odds currently favour LNP. To get to an absolute majority would be something of a stretch.  This doesn't come out much different from Jack the Insider although there are several more caveats and uncertainties this time than may usually be so which could bring any scenario or analysis unstuck. 
Barron River and possibly Mundingburra are the ones in NQ that come into play here and where the odds have actually moved towards the LNP since the campaign started. Again, in FNQ Barron River and Cairns are also very different demographics and should be expected to diverge from a previously similar outcome.
However, what would I know. I gamble about once a decade and back in 2004 the odds and polls didn't seem to match so I was the mug who punted for Latham on Sportsbet! The odds turned out to be better than the polls then so I did my money but not always so. Who knows this time around o_O
Update: Queensland the unhinged state! Well I guess an outsider win in a stretch is probably good for the bookies? Bastards! Someone has done their money in Barron River anyway! Meanwhile down in NSW Coalition $1.01 Labor $17.00 *slap* No! No!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Well I guess they can't both be right?

"Labor has the only track record of delivery for the Bruce. The ALP was spending $116 million a year on the Bruce. Now the LNP have bundled it up nicely as $1 billion over 10 years but break that down and it’s around $100 million a year, $16 million a year less." ROB PYNE (ALP), Candidate for Cairns, Cairns Post

“The Bruce Highway funding includes $188 million of state funding in 2014-15, as we deliver our election promise to deliver an additional $1 billion over 10 years.” SCOTT EMERSON (LNP), Transport & Main Roads Minister, Media Statement 2014-15 budget.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cairns cargo cult turns cannibal

Media and tourism industry response was almost universally positive to the announcement on Friday of increased airline capacity from China: Australian, Chinese governments make landmark air services agreement
A landmark air services agreement between the Australian and Chinese governments will open the way for new routes. The cap on seats from China's largest cities to the Australian gateway cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth will triple to almost 67,000 seats each week by 2016. Routes to smaller cities, like Adelaide and Cairns, will have no limits.
Well almost universal with the Cairns Post reporting it this way: New capital city China flights blasted by Cairns business leaders
AVIATION and tourism leaders have blasted a federal government decision to add extra China flights to capital city airports at the expense of Cairns. 
How can additional capacity above current constraints at the major gateways be described as being at the expense of Cairns. There is nothing at all favouring those gateways over Cairns and no limitations if the economics of direct services to Cairns stack up. In fact provisions continue for the airlines to operate an additional 2,500 seats per week each way above the new major gateway cap if they stopover at Cairns en route.

There is no preferential access at all to the major gateways at the expense of Cairns. In fact what Kevin Brown (Cairns Airport) and Alex de Waal (TTNQ) are effectively demanding is that growth of the entire Australian tourism market be restrained to try and force airlines to fly to Cairns regardless of viability. The Cairns Cargo Cult has turned cannibal on the rest of the Australian tourism industry with a zero sum mentality.

This could never stack up as economically optimal for Australia. While not denying the benefit to TNQ and Cairns from direct international flights it was only last year that Brown was telling us:        
"We had direct China Eastern flights from Shanghai in place for most of 2013 and even without direct flights the Chinese visitor market shows strong growth trends with people willing to reach our destination via domestic services from other parts of Australia."
Growth in the entire Chinese market may increase the viability of direct flights longer term. Veteran aviation journalist Ben Sandilands doesn't seem so pessimistic at the Crikey Plane Talking blog:
It can expect to see a range of regionally focused carriers coming from parts of China outside of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, and given the capacity constraints at Sydney, some of them are likely to fly 787 or A330 sized jets to Canberra, or even Newcastle, if the access limitations of civil movements at a military airport can ever be fully addressed.
Australian can expect to see such second tier China carriers fly to Hobart, Cairns, and maybe in ten years time, even to Wellcamp (Brisbane’s far far far west airport). Gold Coast airport will be full before we know it, and Maroochydore could see regular flights by 250-350 passenger jets.
The influx will grow not just the hotel industry, including the construction side, but domestic air travel.
The response here from Cairns Airport and TTNQ only demonstrates everything that can go wrong with any Northern Australia policy as the rent-seekers subjugate the broader and national interest for their own self-interest. Alex de Waal continues to underwhelm at TTNQ.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Regional employment a drag on Queensland

Conus has updated the trend series for todays ABS regional labour force data with some local analysis: Regional jobs data is poor for Cairns

There are some interesting things happening around some of those numbers in Cairns and Townsville particularly the participation rates. However I thought I would stick to a broader state and regional perspective with a few graphs. This from last weeks national data showing the Queensland share of total Australian employment:

The Queensland share hit its highest level at 20.54% back in February 2009 and has since edged lower to 20.02%.
I recently posted a comparison of annual employment growth between SEQ and the Regions. This is compiled from the Conus Trend data amalgamating Greater Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast from the ABS regions to form SEQ. This has been updated and annual employment growth for the Regions remains negative at the lowest levels for the series. Gold Coast has been the biggest contributor to employment growth in Queensland over the past year.
Similar to the first graph this is then the Regional (ex SEQ) share of total Queensland employment derived from the Conus Trend data:
I think this last graph can also be added to the list of reasons why the population target in the Queensland Plan for 50% to live outside SEQ is *stupid*.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No turbulence at airport in December

Despite an exuberant, lengthy and number laden report at the Cairns Post the traffic numbers at Cairns Airport in December were so boring I almost wasn't going to post anything this month. There is not much different to last month, or the month before that, with consistent but somewhat slower growth from domestic routes than in recent years.

This is Y-o-Y monthly passenger growth over the last few years, domestic + international (ex transits), with a 12 month rolling average:

  Source: Cairns Airport

There is commentary this month that domestic passengers increased 4.2% despite slower capacity growth. This is consistent with reports elsewhere with Sydney also reporting improved load factors as the domestic airlines return to commercial sense and profitability.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Houses lead rents higher

Latest quarterly data from the Residential Tenancy Authority consolidates Cairns position at the top of the NQ rental costs table based on new rental bonds lodged. Median house rents in Cairns pushed higher in the December quarter while Townsville remains soft and Mackay continues to decline.

Not so much in the unit sector where the median rent in the December quarter was flat on the previous year in Cairns.

Mackay investors must be particularly disillusioned after their successful legal challenge was legislatively overturned by Crisafulli last year leaving them also with a highly unfavourable council rates structure.

Another example of significant demographic variation between the local state electorates with the proportion of rental households based on 2011 census:

Cairns            48.1%
Barron River  33.5%
Mulgrave       36.4%
Queensland    33.2%

Note: Cairns will also be far more heavily weighted to units. Previous post: Cairns rents fit for a King

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Drover's dog set to win Cairns

There is no shortage of material however I have found attempting to post anything during the election period a mentally difficult strain.

However HT to Conus with an update on the Small Areas Labour Market data. I posted on this previously with some concerns and had a good response from the DoE who compile the data. DoE have now compiled the series back beyond the 2011 census. I will post on this subsequently.

An overlay with state electorates and the SA2 data could also be interesting. This is the latest SA2 data for Cairns:

If I were to overlay this with the state electoral divisions and consider the demographics I could quite easily come to the conclusion that the win by the LNP in Cairns in 2012 was something of an anomaly. I would also suggest that someone in the ALP should be deeply embarrassed that the electorate was ever lost or even became marginal before 2012.

The proverbial drover's dog should be able to reclaim Cairns for the ALP!

Meanwhile some links on last weeks labour force data:

Qld Govt benefits from volatile jobs data – still vulnerable over bulk of jobs growth being part-time over first term

Very strong labour force data; QLD too good to be true?

The economy is not out of the woods yet

Australia's record jobs growth is a game-changer

Monday, January 12, 2015

Election 2015: We are all stupid now #1

The Newman employment announcement yesterday included a target of 209,000 over the six years to 2021. Queensland Economy Watch beat me to an intended graph of historical six year employment growth: Qld Govt’s new jobs target much more achievable than previous 4% unemployment rate target

This indicates that the target based on Treasury advice is conservative by historical standards and particularly when population and labour force growth are considered. I'm surprised this hasn't attracted more attention given that Treasurer Tim was still spruiking the 4% target until quite recently as the two are fundamentally inconsistent.

Conus has parsed a few parameters based on historical assumptions which could still hypothetically see an unemployment rate increase to 7.7%:  What does the LNP pledge for 209,000 extra jobs actually mean?

Another way to look at it I had a very quick preliminary look at the Queensland population forecasts by age group. These are supplied with medium / low / high projections. It would appear to require something close to the low forecast to stabilise employment to relevant population ratios around recent levels, even allowing for aging, if only 209,000 jobs are created over the period. Weak interstate migration has been particularly noted in recent years.

Pete again asks the question at Conus of why politicians persist with such specific targets and perceived promises over something where they have limited influence anyway. Sportsbet is still backing an LNP Premier Tim after January 31 so maybe the focus will then return to the more stupid 4% target.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Polls, pundits and the odds

The star of the 2012 USA Presidential campaign was actually a wonk named Nate Silver. His New York Times blog statistically aggregating polls turned out to be spot-on despite persistent accusations from Republicans right to the end that it was a flawed liberal conspiracy. Apparently even Romney believed this right up to drafting the concession speech.

So we come to Queensland where recent polls show a close contest on 2PP estimates while bookmakers odds currently LNP $1.14 v ALP $5.00 put the probability of an LNP win at 84%.  Polls v Bookies is a topic that has previously been addressed By John Quiggin: Polls and Punters.  Way back in 2009 Possum Comitatus provided an excellent guide on how to relate betting odds with polls: What are the Odds?

Efficiency of the betting market is a critical factor. With markets open and trading at Sportsbet current betting market today (Friday) for our regional electorates:

Cook: ALP 1.09- LNP 10.00 - KAP 12.00
Barron River: ALP - 1.50 - LNP 2.00
Cairns: ALP: 1.30 - LNP 3.30
Mulgrave: ALP: 1.01 - LNP 12.00

Translated to probabilities based on this market betting Cook would be lost and there is work to do for the LNP to save Barron River and Cairns. These are the probabilities of an ALP win based on those odds:

Cook 83.3%
Barron River 62.5%
Cairns 71.7%
Mulgrave 92.2%

However that is very early days before even all candidates are known in what would likely be an inefficient market for individual electorates. I have no idea how the bookies set the initial odds but suspect it would be related to the required swing and broad polls. Also this is very different from the Cairns Post last October: LNP in for election fight in Cairns and Barron River at Queensland election according to ReachTEL survey

The Post Pundits all rated Cook as safest for the LNP based on the poll despite being held on the finest margin. A clue here is a post by The Poll Bludger at Crikey who came to the entirely opposite conclusion re Cook based on the same poll: ReachTEL: 51-49 to LNP in Queensland.

The bludger points out that the margin for error of each individual electorate on that Post poll sample may be about 5% so not particularly useful in a close contest. What he then does is aggregate the poll on a regional basis for all and apply this to the required margins. The spread by Poll Bludger, at least between the electorates, more resembles the bookies but with lower probabilities overall for the ALP.

The most efficient betting market for any electorate would likely be Ashgrove which will obviously attract way more money than any other. The probability of an ALP win is currently at 54.7% here despite a relatively tight margin so it can't yet be given away on the odds. Despite that the probability of an LNP Government absent Campbell Newman becomes significant.

The aforementioned Possum Comitatus has been keeping a relatively low twitter profile of late given his role at the Together Union backed WQ4 but did tweet this graph of their Ashgrove polling when the election was announced.

If you add up a quick and nasty analysis of the Sportsbet odds for individual electorates the ALP would currently get to 40 out of 89 where they are currently being quoted over a 50% probability of winning. Pundits are anticipating about 5 or so from independents and minor parties. At this stage I would guess an outcome closer to 30 for the ALP based on the broader numbers consistent with the betting odds.

A more effective opposition in a unicameral parliament combined with a swag of highly marginal seats would be a welcome outcome. Meanwhile I will finish my wonky rant and leave the final word on the early status of the campaign to Possum:

Possum Comitatus @Pollytics  ·  22 hours ago
It's the end of Day 3 of the election campaign, and no one has been caught with their dick in a wine glass. Well done Qld

Update: Poll Bludger on the most recent polls Newspoll and Galaxy: 53-47 and 52-48 to LNP in Queensland; The ABC site compiled by Antony Green is also a useful resource Queensland Election 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Data by Region

Data by Region is an application on the ABS website that enables clients to search, browse, explore to find statistics about different regions in Australia. Available statistics are arranged under the broad themes of People, Economy, Industry, and Energy and Environment.

With this release, data for 2008-12 will be available for Local Government Areas, Australian Statistical Geography Standard regions (Statistical Areas 2, 3 and 4, and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas), States/Territories and Australia.

Updates will be released regularly as new data is incorporated, functionality develops and new regions are supported.

Explore the data in Data by Region.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Election unhinging predicted at Courier-Mail

An imminent snap election reminded me of an unfinished post on an editorial from the Courier-Mail on Boxing Day: We had a merry Christmas and can be confident the best is yet to come

This editorial is so blatantly biased, error-ridden and misleading I can only presume someone at the C-M perhaps let Des Haughton off the leash after an indulgent Christmas Dinner. Soviet era Pravda reports on the latest 5 year plan were more objective than this:
While more than half of all new Australian jobs in the past year were created in Queensland, the state’s unemployment rate still hovers around 6 per cent.
This statement may have been valid if it was written some six months ago. Much has changed over that period with the unemployment rate in Queensland now hovering up around 7%. Let me also update for the most recent data on job creation in the form of a pie chart showing the current Queensland percentage of National jobs growth. A pie being something which may be more easily comprehended even by the likes of Haughton:

Some way short of half but at least it's still positive, just. Whether it be wages growth, business confidence or retail sales the rest of the editorial is similarly more reminiscent of a drunken family political debate over the prawns and vino with dubious data and sauces(sic) being thrown around negligently and completely misrepresents the current position of the Queensland economy.

I expect further unhinging and degradation of journalism standards over the coming month. Meanwhile in the blogosphere Gene Tunny at Queensland Economy Watch has produced an excellent objective summary of the state of play: Queensland economic outlook for 2015