The pace has quickened noticeably as the New South Wales triple-M by-election campaign has entered its final week – at least in Marrickville, the only one of the three seats where anything is at stake. For those who have a particular interest in the outcome, you could do worse than to log on to this site Saturday evening and hit "refresh" every minute or so. Booth results will be plugged into the Poll Bludger’s patented psephometer as they come through, so that adjusted swing results may be calculated and quick-time commentary maintained along the lines of my Queensland by-election coverage.
Marrickville (Labor 10.7% vs Greens): It was earlier believed that Carmel Tebbutt’s upper house seat was being left vacant so she could resume it if worst came to worst, but she has now announced that she will leave parliament if defeated on Saturday. There is nothing the Poll Bludger enjoys less than being perceived as cynical, but he can’t help interpreting this as a sign that Labor does not expect to lose. The pecularity of Tebbutt’s current position is starting to attract attention – she is still serving as Education Minister despite having resigned from her upper house seat on August 26. Political opponents and talk radio populists are making an issue of the ministerial salary she continues to receive, and of her absence from Parliament while a spate of arson attacks hits state schools – some of which are located in Macquarie Fields.
Macquarie Fields (Labor 23.5%): Something I hadn’t considered: Macquarie Fields is largely contiguous with the federal electorate of Werriwa, where voters were dragged back to the polls in February following Mark Latham’s retirement. Presumably the aggravation factor among those who do not care to have their weekends interrupted will be even more pronounced here, at the expense of Labor candidate Stephen Chaytor. This gives further reason to expect that both major parties will shed votes to independent and minor party candidates. They include: Greens candidate Ben Raue, 20 years old and already a veteran of two campaigns for Werriwa – first for the October 9 federal election, then for the February by-election; Janey Woodger, who has run in various elections over the past 10 years with Australians Against Further Immigration, doing well enough in the Werriwa by-election to get her deposit back; One Nation candidate Bob Vinnicombe, whose past efforts have been closer to the city in Blaxland (federal) and Auburn (state); independent Ken Barnard, who is running to protest against four-storey flats in Ingleburn; and Denis Plant of Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, who appears to be an Anglican pastor.
Maroubra (Labor 22.5%): Who cares. Keep your eye open for my concluding summary of Saturday’s New Zealand election which I hope to post tomorrow evening.