Flat White

Can incumbents lose in the age of Covid-19?

23 February 2021

11:31 AM

23 February 2021

11:31 AM

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan is about smash the opposition in the March 6 state election. A thoroughly iffy, whiffy Queensland state government was returned last year. So were Labor governments in the territories. Across the Tasman, Saint Jacinda romped home. Daniel Andrews maintains a constant dominating lead in the polls, despite the 800 bodies at his feet.

It’s no wonder that there’s constant chatter Prime Minister Scott Morrison will go to the polls as early as he can; chatter only amplified by this morning’s news that he is attempting to neutralise the JobKeeper/JobSeeker conundrum — a genuine threat — by supporting increases in the dole.

Can incumbents lose in Australia in the age of Covid-19? The PM is taking out insurance, but political events of the past 122 months or so suggest not.

Now we have some statistical support for the proposition.


Each year, the long-established public relations and marketing consultancy firm Edelman, one of the largest in the world, publishes its Trust Barometer.

The Australian report, out last Friday, shows our herd mentality under Covid-19. As the executive summary states:

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust across all Australian institutions has reached an all-time high, resulting in significant gains for business (+11 points), government (+17 points), NGOs (+8 points) and media (+12 points). At the same time, Australia’s composite trust index recorded the largest gain globally (+12 points) among the 28 countries surveyed.

There’s more detail in the table below, but look at that increase in trust for government; 17 points, almost a third greater than the (surprising) second-best result for media.

We’re clinging to government. It’s like the Hilaire Belloc “cautionary verse”:

Always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

Incumbency is it.

Footnote — Ironically, given current debates, the Trust Barometer also finds:

The national increase in trust has also been felt across all industry sectors, with the exception of technology… which fell by 5 points.

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