Place your bets

The Northern Territory is the only Australian jurisdiction that the Poll Bludger has never graced with his presence, and it must be conceded that the election guide predictions are a little wanting for first-hand local knowledge. The laughter from up north can be heard already – Ken Parish had this to say at Troppo Armadillo:

I’m a bit surprised that Poll Bludger William Bowe is apparently so sanguine about Labor retaining Millner. Maybe he doesn’t quite realise that the CLP has a long and quite successful history of running dummy independents in close marginal seats to maximise the party’s vote. The "independent" is invariably a close CLP associate and proceeds to swap preferences tightly with the official candidate. Phil Mitchell is very much in that tradition, and with a margin of around 90 votes I expect him to have a significant influence. I reckon Millner is a lineball proposition; I wouldn’t want to call it either way. As for the Pollbludger’s prediction that Labor will win the seat of Araluen in Alice Springs from the CLP, I don’t think so sunshine. Do you want to put money on it? Alice Springs is injun country for Labor, and I don’t see anything in the tea-leaves likely to change that scenario. I’d give Labor’s Fran Kilgariff (current Alice Springs mayor and daughter of a legendary former CLP federal member) a very rough chance of unseating the CLP’s Richard Lim in Greatorex despite a margin of some 9%, but I certainly wouldn’t have her as favourite. Generally I’d be surprised to see any seats change hands in Alice Springs.

I had perhaps naively assumed that Phil Mitchell was running because he thought he might win, and concede that I might have understimated the impact a high-profile dummy independent candidate can have in a concentrated Darwin electorate. But Parish’s opinion that the seat is a "lineball proposition" encourages me to maintain my assessment that the seat will stay with Labor, since I expect them to enjoy a bigger-than-anticipated overall swing. As for Araluen, I never wanted to put money on it, but am now persuaded that Labor’s traditionally low primary vote here makes it a long shot. The 134-vote two-party margin from 2001 was influenced by a CLP dissident running as an independent and directing preferences to Labor, and this scenario does not look like it’s about to be repeated. With the adjustment of this prediction, this site’s current projection is that Labor will win 14 seats, the CLP nine and independents two. For what it’s worth, the punters appear to share my rosy view of Labor’s prospects – Centrebet is offering $1.30 for a Labor win and $3.15 for the CLP.

The following snippets from Parish’s post were news to me:

• The CLP candidate for Millner, Paul Mossman, "has found himself in all sorts of trouble over some appallingly sexist statements he made on an Internet political discussion board". Mossman posted on an Inside Politics thread regarding a 13-year-old girl in Florida who had been denied an abortion, saying she "should have just kept her legs closed in the first place". The comment has since been removed but the cached Google page remains. Other comments on the site by Mossman include one stating that there are "plenty in line waiting their chances" to assume the CLP leadership, and several supporting views expressed by fellow commenter Philippe Gregoire, a man with far too much to say.

• It is rumoured that Goyder MP Peter Maley, who was dumped first from the CLP front bench and then from the parliamentary party, is considering running as an independent. Maley’s actions in returning to his lucrative legal practice while still serving as a parliamentarian do not bespeak a man who is keen to continue in politics, but the word is that he might nominate "purely to screw Burke and deny the seat to the CLP".

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.