North and south

The CLP has launched a challenge against the June 18 Northern Territory election result for the seat of Goyder, won by Labor with a margin of 124 votes (1.6 per cent). The party purports to be concerned that the seal on a package of votes was broken en route to Darwin after the polling booth officer was asked to check that the bundles were sorted correctly, leaving open the very unlikely possibility of vote tampering. Frivolous as the complaint may be, the Poll Bludger has three reasons for hoping it gets up. Firstly, a CLP win would bring his predicted outcome one seat closer to accuracy. Secondly, Labor’s success in winning 19 seats to the CLP’s four was (all together now) bad for democracy. Thirdly, and relatedly, it would be interesting to see how the dynamics of the by-election would play out.

Normally voters who are dragged to the polls outside of a general election are prone to react violently against the initiating party. An obvious example is the by-election for Lindsay that came six months after Jackie Kelly’s shock win at the 1996 federal election that dumped the Keating government. Labor couldn’t believe that the voters had meant to wield the baseball bat quite so forcefully, and launched a challenge against the result on the grounds that Kelly, as an RAAF officer, held an "office of profit under the crown" that disqualified her from taking her seat. The High Court agreed and the voters of Lindsay, an electorate overflowing with young families, had their Saturday interrupted for a second time. Nobody should have been surprised when Labor’s Ross Free suffered the insult of a 5.0 per cent swing to add to the 11.9 per cent injury he sustained at the general election. Moreover, the seat has stayed Liberal ever since. It would be interesting to see if the same scenario would play out in the face of Clare Martin’s bloated majority.

In other news, the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission proposing boundaries for the newly reformed Victorian Legislative Council is released today. The Poll Bludger will need time to get his head around it before commenting, but Charles Richardson at Crikey tells us that the commissioners have ignored the major parties and "followed almost exactly the submission made by the Greens, with only three of the 88 districts (all in the eastern suburbs) allocated differently".

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.