In conclusion then, the Poll Bludger’s reputation as a person who gets things right sometimes has taken a hit with what would appear to be dual victories for the Liberals in today’s Queensland by-elections. My defence is that the margin in each case looks to be below 2 per cent, which I have always used as my rough margin for permissible error. Normally I like to avoid making partisan judgements, but I must confess to being pleased with the result. Firstly, Peter Beattie needed another two backbenchers like he needed a hole in his head; secondly, I consider a Liberal ascendancy in Queensland conservative politics to be an essential precondition to a return to normal two-party system, difficult though it may be to imagine how this might come about. With two more seats in parliament they can now bring seven seats to bear against the Nationals’ 15 and will have more clout in the crucial negotiations over which party contests which seat at the next state election.
Tonight’s results in summary, bearing in mind that postals, pre-polls and absentees remain to be counted:
8.16pm. With preferences in from the last booth, it’s a 1.1 per cent ball game in Redcliffe.
8.11pm. Results from Clontarf have eased the Liberal lead in Redcliffe to 1.5 per cent. The Redcliffe booth should clip it further, though probably not enough.
8.09pm. My first look at the ECQ’s notional prerefence distribution has a 1.7 per cent lead to the Liberals in Redcliffe, although this is without results from the Clontarf and Redcliffe booths where the primary vote figures lean slightly towards Labor. Figures from all booths are shown in Chatsworth where Caltabiano has an almost identical lead of 1.8 per cent.
7.55pm. The final booths for Chatsworth may well have delivered Labor a knockout blow. Belmont, easily the biggest booth in the electorate with 5,600 voters, has delivered the Liberals a huge 19.5 per cent swing; Carina Heights, with 2413 voters, has swung 14.1 per cent; Tingalpa South, with 2629 voters, has swung 9.5 per cent. With all booths in, the Liberal primary vote is up 12.2 per cent and Labor is down 13.1 per cent. The margin going in was 11.4 per cent, so Labor will have to do extremely well on pre-polls and postals and preferences from the Greens (who have eased from 8.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent) to stay in contention.
7.47pm. The last booth for Redcliffe, Clontarf (1787 votes), shows a swing of 7.5 per cent on my reckoning – that’s based on half the minor party/independent vote exhausting and the rest splitting evenly as preferences. This has barely impacted on the total scores noted below. Time will tell how accurate that is – it will need to be biased in the Liberals’ favour if Labor are in the hunt here.
7.44pm. Stepping back and looking at aggregate figures, I gather I might be writing Labor off too soon in Redcliffe. With one booth still to come they trail 39.5 per cent to 41.0 per cent, with a substantial 19.6 per cent vote for minor parties.
7.36pm. Some overdue good news for Labor in Redcliffe. Woody Point, with 1341 voters, only swings 4.0 per cent. Probably too late though.
7.34pm. Another nail in the Redcliffe coffin: the Redcliffe booth, with 2642 voters, swings 10.1 per cent.
7.33pm. If Labor still had hope in Redcliffe, the large Scarborough booth has probably ended it – 2390 votes and a swing of 10.0 per cent.
7.29pm. Carina Central in Chatsworth, with 887 voters, swings to the Liberals 11.5 per cent.
7.25pm. Results from Redcliffe continue to be show swings of between 7 and 10 per cent, enough for a narrow Liberal victory. Just in: Clontarf Beach (1882 voters, 8.8 per cent); Humpybong (2248 voters, 7.0 per cent); Kippa-Ring (1957 voters, 9.4 per cent).
7.21pm. Continuing mixed news for Caltabiano. The biggest Chatsworth booth so far, Gumdale (3016 votes), gives him a handsome 14.0 per cent swing. But Tingala, with 1721 votes, is a big disappointment – 4.5 per cent.
7.19pm. The Bayside booth in Chatsworth, good for 1447 votes, shows a below par 7.2 per cent swing to Caltabiano.
7.14pm. The biggest booth yet in Redcliffe, Woody Point South, shows a swing of 8.7 per cent – at the lower end of the current range but still on the Liberal side of the seat’s 7.1 per cent margin.
7.12pm. The drought breaks in Redcliffe with four medium sized booths. Swings range from 8.3 per cent to 11.2 per cent, suggesting the Liberals should get over the line.
7.05pm. Another good booth for Caltabiano, although a smaller one this time: Whites Hill with 609 votes has recorded a 15.7 per cent swing.
7.01pm. Much better news for Michael Caltabiano from Carina, the biggest booth yet with 2260 votes. By my reckoning he’s got a 13.4 per cent swing. My ignorance of local geography could be a factor here – it could be that Carina is in Chandler ward and the other two are not. On these indications it looks like it’s going to be close. Only one tiny booth in so far in Redcliffe.
6.57pm. The Camp Hill booth in Chatsworth, with 1079 votes, also shows a slightly disappointing swing to the Liberals – 8.9 per cent. These results will probably lean slightly in Labor’s favour because they are based on the 2004 preference distribution when there was a Greens candidate but not one for One Nation, who are polling at about 2 per cent.
6.43pm. The first substantial booth is in from Chatsworth, with 1199 voters. By my somewhat clumsy reckoning, the swing against Labor is only 6.3 per cent.