Going south

The big news from yesterday’s deadline for registration of how-to-vote cards was the Liberals’ change of heart regarding the Greens, whom they now propose to put ahead of Labor in seats including Melbourne (which the Greens came within 1.9 per cent of winning in 2002), Richmond (3.1 per cent), Northcote (7.9 per cent) and Brunswick. Throughout the week, the party’s website carried a how to vote card that had the Greens last in every seat other than the aforementioned, where voters were instructed to make up their own minds. The Poll Bludger can only speculate as to what prompted the change of heart; the most intriguing possibility is that the Liberals have ratted on a deal which gave Labor the better half of the bargain, in exchange for an alternative arrangement with the Greens. The Age plays up the impact of the Greens’ decision to distribute split tickets in Morwell (4.9 per cent), South Barwon (5.0 per cent), Ripon (7.4 per cent), Ballarat East (7.6 per cent), Mitcham (7.7 per cent), Monbulk (8.3 per cent), Ballarat West (9.0 per cent), Bendigo West (16.0 per cent) and Footscray (24.9 per cent), although this is only to be of consequence where the result is extremely close. The real dividend for the Liberals is that Labor resources will be diverted to once safe inner-city seats. Duncan Hughes of the Australian Financial Review reminds us that "parties can register any number of cards to be distributed on polling day, which means haggling between parties can continue until the eve of the poll", although last-minute indecision would presumably carry political costs.

In other news, the Geelong Advertiser today follows up on its South Barwon survey of October 16 with a second poll, albeit of only 254 respondents (of whom 67 are reported as undecided). It nonetheless backs up the thrust of the earlier poll in having Liberal candidate Michael King leading Labor incumbent Michael Crutchfield 49 per cent to 38 per cent after distribution of the undecided.

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.

39 comments on “Going south”

  1. When I read Antony’s comment in the earlier thread on this, I thought his cynicism a bit misplaced. Turns out he was on the money.

    What exactly was the point of the Liberals releasing that earlier HTV PDF?

    Melbourne and Richmond are back in play.

    I do believe you’ve made a factual error in the first sentence though. From my reading of that latest Liberal HTV PDF (if they are the officially lodged ones), Labor still gets placed above the Greens in all the seats that don’t matter.

  2. an excellent result for Greens – even call of the card gives them donkey vote over alp – not to be sneezed at. Carlo Carli, ineffectual SL has been seen door knocking and has asked central office for assistance to man booths in Brunswick – once taken for granted by hacksville now a possible Greens gain if the wind blows right on the day.

  3. Its earlier days still ands what the Greens are back in play in Melbourne and Richmond it is not home. What’s on the website is not necessarily what is handed out on the day. The Liberal Party as well as the Labor Party have to watch out for the complacent vote. The vote were people think one party is a shoe-in and as such they park their vote on a minor party and then preference back to the main party. IN theory Hawthorn and Kew are vulnerable as the Labor party primary in those seats is low and on 2002 figures the Liberal party was pegged back to just below 50%. If the complacent vote outweighs the expected increase in Liberal Party support and the Greens are the benefactor and they poll above the ALP then we could see the same situation occur in these seats too. Its easier to win a so called safe seat then a marginal. As long as the third party group can secure more votes then the second party and they peg the first party back below 50% and preferences of minor parties hold. Family First we not a player in the lower house in Victoria they now are. This should peg back the Liberals expected swing in the first instance but when it comes to preference distribution this will come back to the Liberals or the ALP. It is the complacent vote that did Jeff Kennett government in and with the ALP riding high in the public polls there is an expectation that the will win with that expectation comes a rise in compliance. Minor arthritis and other will betray this as a protest vote but in reality it is just complacency as they do not expect their vote would do in their preferred choice to win Government. You will not see the full extent of this complancency show up in the polls until the very last week or even just days before the election. As long as the ALP is seen top be the winner then they run the risk of being tripped up. Voters wake up to the news that the their expectations are not reality.

  4. I forgot to mention that Family First i a strange round about way will actually help the Greens as they are expected to peg back the Liberal vote which allows them the chance to get on top of the Liberals party vote which is a must for any chance for the Greens to win in Melbourne and Richmond. Much of the result will not be decided until the voter actually walks into the polling booth. So much will depend on how hard the Liberal Party campaign. A number of ALP members may actually vote Liberal then preference to Labor as a form of insurance..

  5. You have mentioned Duncan Hughes comments and whilst I am not sure of the so called political costs (I do not think there is any to the Libs) there is an obvious logistic costs. Do they print two HTV cards for these seats or just one? A quick look at who is printing the HTV cards and a story to the printing press might give advance warning. No doubts security at the printing office will be stepped up. Tighter then the winner of the Brownlow.

  6. The Herald-Sun McNair Gallop poll shows a complete reversal in support for the majors bringing the result closer to the 2004 Senate result with the Greens consolidating their vote at around 9% statewide.

    Much of the Green vote is locked up in the inner-city region and whilst this places increased pressure on Labor in Melbourne and Richmond it will not effect the projected outcome for the Greens in the upper-house who are poised to win two out of 40 seats (Northern and Southern Metro).

    If the greens win Melbourne and Richmond in a major upset – (Still depends on the Liberal party’s support in these seats) and Labor loses more seats then the 15 previously predicted then Victoria is in for a period of instability something that will weigh heavily on business and place further pressure on the Liberal party to act to ensure that then Greens do not hold the balance of power.

  7. If teh McNair poll and reversal of ALP forrunes was replicated in the Upperhouse The Liberal party would pick up from in both Western Metro and Western Victoria putting an end to teh DLP’s pipe dream. The Greens also could have a chance at South Eastern. But such a reversal is difficult to seem, but then it is a third term and punters are under the belief that Labor is a shoe in.. that would leave the ALP with 18, Liberal with 17, Grn with 3 and NP 2.

  8. The Herald Sun reports that the Liberal Party have opted for opportunism ahead of Victoria’s business and economic interests in striking a preference deal with the Greens to place the Greens ahead of Labor in exchange for the Greens issuing a split ticket in a number of rural seats. This deal places the Greens back into contention for the seats of Melbourne and Richmond and possibly Northcote. This deal shows up the Greens for what they are and also brings tension within the Liberal Party/Business relationship.

    The Herald Sun also has published a recent McNair Gallop poll which reports a major shift in voter intentions and an unexpected reversal of voters intentions. If the Herald-Sun McNair poll is true then this is going to be a very close election indeed with the unexpected possibility that, as a result of the Liberal Party’s preference deal, the Greens could play a major role in the formation of the next State Government.

    Labor’s Bill Shorten publishes an opinion piece on the need to elect a Labor State Government as the only means of ensuring necessary checks and balances against a Howard Liberal Party dominated Federal Government.

  9. Sample size too small, and I will be shocked if the Liberals obtained a 7% swing, not because they can’t, but I just don’t see that level of anger toward the Government.

  10. Your either in denial or not looking very hard bmwofoz, cos it is there. Then again the Libs are still seen in a bad light too.
    Melbcity, why is it automatic disaster for everyone, mainly business, if the Greens held the balance? Are you on Andrew Bolt’s pay roll or something?

    Speaking of Bolt, does anyone wander when the H-Sun will produce their usual end of the world scenario about the Greens or when the Exclusive Brethren are going to come out to play?

  11. bmwofoz is right about the McNair poll. McNair managing director Matt Balogh seems to be questioning his own findings. He says there could be a swing back and that this could be a warning shot. He also believes Labor will win. On his own poll figures this would be in doubt big time. The mood for change is just not out there unless people are quietly simmering but I doubt that.

  12. The more research I read about McNair Polls the more I begin to question it. I am happy to see two Greens elected to the upper-house (I was one of the main advocates of reform of the Upper-house having undertaken extensive research into various proposals when Labor fist adopted its reform agenda) but I would be very concerned if they every held the “balance of power” in the lower house. Government would be paralyzed and so would the state. Loss of confidence big time. I have heard many different things when it comes to polling and voters intentions some I can not go public on. My main interest is in seeing an effective and representative and hopefully responsible upper-house elected. I believe it has a role to play in providing good governance. If it turns out to be a circus then the other option is abolition which I do not favour.

    Only a State Labor Government can hold a Liberal Howard federal government who has absolute control in check. To me this is the most fundamental issue and not just on the issues highlighted by Bill Shorten.

    I look at some of the policies coming out in the City of Melbourne, policies that are discriminatory and economically disastrous. If taken in isolation with the rest of Australia. I have a lo of respect for David Risstrom but I can not say the same of others in the Greens. Maybe I am getting to conservative as I grow older… but the powers that be that are outside the parliament are far stronger then some realise. Revolution is not the way forward. Evolution is.

    My role is to look at the data and try and interpretation what is presented. I am concerned that people are being mislead and that they will be complacent in the belief that the result is a hands down surrender. Its not. Jeff Kennett lost in the same way and it was a government that was hated. The same can not be said for the Bracks government.

    Yes I have a bias in that I do not want to see the return of the Liberal Federal Government and a unexpected loss in Victoria would serve no-one well.

  13. Depends on your definition of instability, melbcity. A Green-Labor Accord government in Tasmania, where the Greens held the balance of power in the Lower House (and I might add helped Labor to 3 more years of power – the Libs had only 1 less than a majority), created a period of progressivity that created many of Tassie’s national parks and comprehensive FoI legislation. Neither of these had a bad effect on business.

    What has a bad effect on a state is business making large donations to and lobbying the major parties, which we can see in Tassie and QLD at the moment. Victoria doesn’t have many of these factors, but I believe would still benefit from a Green-Labor Coalition or Accord in the Lower House. Of course, if only one Green is elected and Labor gets back in with a clear majority (a likely scenario, and very good for the state) then the Green can function as an Independent and use mechanisms like Private Members’ Bills to raise awareness of Green policies – and hopefully achieve them, too.

    The Greens ARE NOT fundamentally anti-business. They are often lumped in with the anarchists we saw in Melbourne at the G20 yesterday, but the truth is the vast vast majority of members are people that are genuinely concerned about the Howard Government’s policies and want to see a more open and accountable gov’t, with better environmental policies and better social justice. One of the tenets of the Greens is non-violence at all times – those protests weren’t about what we stand for.

    Even the Tasmanian Greens forestry policy is geared towards creating jobs in value-added industry and tourism. It’s not about ruining the economy – why would that benefit people or the environment? It’s about gearing the economy towards sustainable industries with our natural advantages – sun, wind, coastlines for tidal energy etc.

    Finally, Labor and the Greens are on the same side here: the Greens are often forced to criticise the Gov’t of the day, whether it be Labor or Liberal. Electorally they compete, but in policy terms they are natural coalition partners, more logical than the Libs and Nats.

    I’ll admit to a pro-green bent, but I’m with melbcity on this one. Hopefully we’ll see a Labor Gov’t continue in Vic and be elected federally in a year.

  14. I do see a swing against the Government but not 7%, for this to happen the Government would need to be more on the nose than Kennett whom in 96 and 99 suffered combined swings of around 6%,

    I don’t see the same level of anger at Bracks and members of his Government, sure there are issues which may make many angry, but is that enough to change Government.

  15. The Greens, while still only a protest party, has their vote grows and there membership does, the Greens like any Party will change.

  16. It was interesting on the radio this morning. Two of the commentators are conservative, in fact one was an editor at the Sunday Herald Sun at one stage and one worked for Jeff Kennett as a political adviser. They discussed the McNair poll and later gave their own predictions for the election. Neither thought the Liberals could do any better than 10 seats and one thought that 10 was pushing it, that 5 to 7 was more likely. So much for the McNair poll as far as they are concerned.

  17. Yeah dave , I saw it and I thought stiff shit really. The Hun has the perfect choice – Bracks and Ballieau are just tweedle dee and dum – Duds who conform to the mediocre.

  18. The Greens would be more of an influential party if the Assembly/House of Reps electoral system was more proportional (maybe if the Greens win the balance of power in the Assembly then it might be put to referendum (possibly in exchange for single member upper house)). This may happen happen in both Vic and NSW.

    If we went proportional then the Greens would get a higher vote along Tasmanian lines where the Greens have got up to 18-19% (is this a world record jurisdiction-wide Green vote for any state provintial or nation election?).

    I favour 13 7-member electorates.

  19. Knowing virtually nothing about Victorian politics(I live in N.S.W), I can only make an uninformed prediction, but here it is –
    Bracks is reelected, with the loss of 6 seats to the Liberals, and one seat(Melbourne) to the Greens, so it’d still be a healthy majority at the end of the day.
    As for the Upper House, no idea!
    I’d guess there will be at least one more Newspoll before November 25.
    William, thanks again for all your hard work! This site is always informative for us political junkies.

  20. The bretheren leaflets are out in the eastern metro region.

    Melbcity. You read too much of the Herald-Sun. You might as well read a comic book.

  21. Is tough to predict, but the ALP have a ‘safe’ buffer of lots of seats over the 4.5% mark and nothing in the 2.5-4.5 region

    Anyway a week out …

    LIB Gains

    Ferntree Gully
    Mount Waverley
    South Barwon
    Forest Hill

  22. if the inner city falls to the Greens as a result of an over confidence complacent votes then both Richmond and Melbourne will fall. (Richmond more so then Melbourne) much depends on the Liberal/Green race to see who is eliminated first. It is commonly known that the conservative editors push up the polls to create a sense of overstated confidence. I think this is whats happening here. it is always the Sunday Herald sun that makes these outrageous misleading statements such a reversal of fortune would see the ALP lose government and Victoria fall into a period of serious uncertainty. I do not share the views or even think Tasmania is a good example to make comparisons. Tasmania in my book is nothing more then a large local council. It is well and truly over represented and over subsidized. Whilst I am a string advocate for proportional representation and multi-member parliaments I am not convinced that a Proportional Multi-member representation is a good option for both houses. Yes to PR if their is one house only. Also I think Tasmania has it back to front having a PR lower house and a single member constituency in the upper house. But that is Tasmania a small provincial state. I should be amalgamated with new Zealand and become one sate of Australia :)) The South Eastern Island State.

  23. Tasmania has it the correct way round.
    The house the government comes from is elected by PR to represent the views of the voters accuratly and the upper house to represent local interests.

    Single member systems are very distorting of the votes in relation to seats.
    In the 2002 state election the Nats got 3-4% and 7 seats but the greens got 9-10% and no seats.
    All single meber systems are Gerrymanders.

    The NZ Greens got 6-7% and the German Greens got 9% last year (and 13% in Berlin City-State earlyer this year) so Tasmania`s 18% is highest.

  24. Melbcity is clutching at straws if he thinks the Greens are a chance to win Hawthorn or Kew. Even with the (minimal – remember they polled 1.9% at the last Federal Election) effect of Family First, I would expect the Liberals to poll 53-55% primary in Hawthorn and Kew on Saturday.

  25. If the South Barwon poll is taken to a 2pp, that would indicate an 8 – 9% swing to the libs. Obviously there some degree of discontent there. If this sort of swing was carried into other Geelong seats, it would put both Geelong (8.1%)and Bellarine (8.3%) in play as well. These were labor wins in 99 and 02, but are a long way up the pendulum. Could we be in for a more interesting Saturday night than we had previoulsy imagined?

  26. Just to contribute a little to the above debate on balance of power… the WA economy has been booming for years, even with 5 Greens holding the balance in the upper house since 2001 and 2 keeping it since 2005. Very little evidence of governmental paralysis.

  27. The problem with your theory, blackburnpseph, is that it relies on too many “ifs”. Now “if” you can supply solid stats in those seats you mention backing your theory, not a poll of 250 people, then maybe you could be justified in thinking it could be close. Personally, I’m yet to be convinced, although some swing will take place.

  28. The Greens were threatening to run split tickets in those seats if the ALP preferenced Family First. The ALP has been screwed. They should have taken the Family First prefs because the Greens were going to do it anyway.

  29. MUA — but if ALP pref FF again, then it would be a disaster from their voters perspective, given evidence of that. ALP voters have not forgiven their party for letting Steve the Peeve in balance of upper house.

  30. Half the ALP members prefer FF over the Greens. Esp the shoppies/SDA.

    I thought we would have gotten something out of supporting the Greens, but instead we get this betrayal.

  31. MUA, where are you pulling your “Half the ALP members prefer FF” from? There is no evidence of that at all. There have been massive complaints from the member base about preferencing FF over the greens in the last federal election.

    The ALP wins many, many, seats on green preferences and you repaid 250,000 green voters in the federal senate by redirecting your surplus to a fringe loonatic christian party which then proceeded to vote against your party and help Howard numerous times. You’d best not talk of betrayal so boldly. You betrayed the greens, and you betrayed your own members with that little knife in the back. Don’t expect anybody to play nice from now on. You owe tons of seats to the greens and you do nothing on climate change other than token actions. So this action now is only a betrayal by the greens if you have the memory of a goldfish.

  32. MUA, if by Greens you actually mean Country Alliance (Shooter’s and Logger’s Party) and DLP (basically now a single issue anti-abortion party) then yes, I understand what you mean. The ALP have yet again screwed their constituents and screwed the Greens.

  33. When Labor was eliminated from the Vic senate count, about 80% of below-the-line votes transferred to the Greens.

    Now that figure could be a little bit inflated as a reaction to the lodged ticket. But nonetheless, like the two posters above, I see little evidence for MUA’s claim.

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