New South Wales election: open thread

New reader "Politically Correct" has weighed in at my last Peel by-election post with some unrelated thoughts on the New South Wales Liberal Party, mostly concerning the state election that will be held on March 24. I have relocated it to this post to give it a more suitable home, and hopefully to stimulate further election-related discussion among the Poll Bludger community. A form guide to the February 3 Peel by-election will follow either tomorrow or the day after, depending on how good a time I have this evening. I am also making good progress on my seat-by-seat New South Wales election guide, which is optimistically scheduled for launch at the end of January.

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.

104 comments on “New South Wales election: open thread”

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  1. Hi All

    New to this site. Here’s my two-cents. Ruddock will retire/leave/whatever in 2008, along with Howard.

    I don’t believe Ruddock has a great deal of loyalty to either Tony Chappell who comes across as genuinely as imitation processed cheese or Berman who would sell his own mother to gain a seat somewhere.

    The NSW Liberal party is being ruined by a group of individuals who are consumed by their own egos and have no interest in developing meaningful policy.

    Maverick MP for Hornsby, Judy Hopwood, is a dying species. A true Liberal who actually wants to help people by working hard and making decent policy. She was only saved by the general public from being rolled by a group of right-wing nasties who I believe have agendas involving subdivisions in Dural and other pecuniary interests. One individual who I will not name is heavily involved in rolling people left right and centre, including Steven Pringle in Hawkesbury. This man calls himself a lobbyist. He is quoted in the local papers as a high-ranking Liberal, but the truth is, he is just a big-noter who sets up meetings between his customers and MPs under the guise of fundraisers. In other words, lines his own pockets while supposedly helping pollies raise funds for their campaigns.

    Watch what happens to Hornsby after the next State election….I believe these people will try to roll Hopwood again. They are determined to get their man in so that they can subdivide!

  2. I was hanging for Steve Russell to knock off Judy in the preselection – had that happened, Labor would have stood a good chance of picking up the seat. The fact the numbers were finely balanced for the redistributed state seat (which takes in part of Galston and Dural now) leads me to think the numbers in Berowra must tilt towards the right. Of course, who knows what the impact of the preselectors drawn from the central preselection panel would be??
    Another certainty is that Nick Berman will never, ever win preselection for any state or federal seat in the area.

  3. Honestly. So much of the 2007 NSW state election is a forgone conclusion. Labor will be re-elected easily.

    They don’t deserve to be, but they will be.

    Their media management is far superior to the coalition. Their organization is more organised. Their candidates are more electable. Their fundraising is more serious.

    Therein lies the problem. All of the commuter suburbs *should* be swinging against the ALP at this election, but they won’t.

    For the Liberals, 11 of their 18 seats are on the harbour or north shore. They hold zero seats in western Sydney. There are no signs that will change this time.

    Only a complete idiot would vote to elect a hardline right-wing Liberal candidate – as when you walk down the streets of Sydney and realize 40% of the population don’t share the narrow conservative anglophone background of the Liberal-right faction, the contrast couldn’t be more stark or unrealistic.

    Bligh has been re-named Sydney and is shockingly over-quota. Whilst many National party seats seem well below quota.

  4. If NSW had Hare-Clarke then there would be a more even geographical distribution of party representation.

    The Greens would also be represented.

    And factional problems would be reduced because the parties would probably put up a broad selection of candidates for voters who would choose who is elected for each party rather than back room deals.

  5. Hare-Clarke is a method of counting votes and has nothing to do with geographical representation. And, the Greens are already represented in NSW with 3 MLCs.

  6. Hare-Clarke is a system of counting for multi member electorates that ends up with a generally proportional result (I am also incuding Tasmanian add ons such as countback and Robson Rotation).
    It would mean that in strong Labor voting areas that the Liberal voting minority would get a seat or two* and in the strongly Liberal areas the Labor voting minority would get a seat or two*.
    *depending on their percentage of the vote and number of members per electorate.

    The Control of supply and the executive should be controled by a more diverse group than single member electorates provide because it is more democratic and as a check and ballance on the Government so if it becomes to corrupt, authoritarian and/or extreem then any part of the governing coalition (Lab/Grn, Lib/Nat or other coalition).

  7. Sure, but I think what you’re arguing for is a multi-member electorate rather than a group of single-member electorates, and if so I agree. Bring it on…

    Nevertheless, though, you could easily argue that the NSW Upper House is about as diverse as it can get – such small quotas = quite a bit of minor & micro party representation. I have mixed thoughts here:

    +) Better representation for those who are unrepresented by the majors
    +) People still actually have to vote for someone to get into parliament – and people deserve who they elect
    -) Voter education is insufficient and a lot of voters don’t really know how their votes flow, particularly in multi-member electorates – so we can end up with “accidental” and “unintentional” (but nevertheless legitimate) results

    This last point is a real bugbear of mine, I believe both majors have made minimal effort to educate the voting public, which to me is unacceptable considering we have compulsory voting. The “two-party” system is entrenched in the public psyche but not in the constitution!

  8. I agree Scott, both majors make no effort to educate the public re: how their voting preferences affect the end result. Many people are completely ignorant about where their votes end up. So-called ‘protest’ votes for “indepedents” or alternative parties still end up supporting one of the big guns in the end.

    Allegory, you are right about the result in Hornsby being of concern to Berowra.. Ruddock is watching the surrounding branches very closely I am sure!

  9. Greetings from Mexico.

    NSW Used Hare-Clark for three election, 1920, 1922 and 1925. Apart from Tasmania, it is the only state to ever use the system to elect its house of government. The system was abandoned because members viewed the electorates were too big and because it didn´t produce clear majorities.

    On current numbers, five member districts would produce electorate of more than 220,000 each, which is larger than three Tasmanian districts combined.

    Anyway, the whole point is academic. Single member districts are entrenched in the constitution. The only way Hare-Clark can be introduced is by a government, or an opposition with support from the cross-benches, introducing a bill which would then go to a referendum. Would such a bill be introduced, and would such a referendum pass?

  10. The Liberals biggest failing was that in an attempt to have broad appeal they chose a prince charles look alike from vaucluse of all places. Really really stupid.

    How can you win in western and southern Sydney when the leader is as far from the typical suburbanite as the Liberals could find?

  11. Long time reader, first time poster.

    Labor will be returned with a reduced majority. I have a feeling independents might be the surprise packets of the NSW election.

    Politically correct, as a member of the Hawkesbury community I have been watching intently the outcome of the Liberal preselection of its candidates in Londonderry, Riverstone and Hawkesbury. Hawkesbury certainly was a shock and Pringle’s words in parliament are an insight into the dubious workings of internal politics of the Liberal Party.

    I am certainly interested to see what the poll bludger community thinks of the chances of Pringle winning Hawkesbury as an independent. Personally, I think he has a chance but it all depends on his preference deals with Labor and the Greens.

  12. I grew up in Hawkesbury. It doesn’t have the small-l liberalism of the North Shore, less ethnically diverse I would think. Such a heartland conservative area that the official Liberal would be very difficult to beat.

  13. Ray Williams – the chosen one by Liberals for Hawkesbury will win.

    Steven Pringle was stabbed in the back by the members of his party who elected him. He may get the sympathy vote, but he wasn’t actually a very good local member, and most of the general public won’t have much loyalty to him as a result. It was members of Pringle’s branches who tried to roll Hopwood by moving across the gorge. They only failed because of general public outrage which resulted in a march of more than 100 people in support of Judy Hopwood, who as I have said, is a hard-working local member. The Liberals had to pressure Russell to withdraw, as the media would have had them on toast if he had challenged Hopwood.

    Those renegade members then moved back across the gorge where they ousted Pringle, who supposedly hadn’t delivered on ‘promises’, according to a senior Liberal quoted in the Hills News. What were those promises I wonder?

    Ray Williams is a local. He looks the part. I reckon he will push for development. If you live in Hawkesbury, I hope you have acreage.

  14. Some of the comments previously posted suggest the Libs in NSW have a toff from Vaucluse. Seems similar to the suggestion made by John Thwaites in Victoria that Ted Baillieu is a toff from Toorak. Ted actually lives in Hawthorn, several Ks from Toorak, and it isn’t the Libs safest seat. Hawthorn was won by the ALP in 1952 and almost won in 1982. New boundaries move the seat further east and that helps the Libs as there is fewer rental accommodation there, as those areas are better for Labor. If the Liberal candidate is promoting development he might be promoting long term gains for the ALP on the North Shore!

  15. Have a nice holiday in Mexico Antony Green. Thanks for you comments about Hare Clark PR in NSW.

    The reference to the size of the electorates is a furphy. Its used by opponents of PR in local government in Victoria when the population involved is in the low thousands, not the tens of thousands in state government. PR probably worked well in the 1920s, but unfortunately what may have been an attempt to rig the system by the Holman Nationalist government who introduced it in 1920 has not been picked up, even by Holman’s biographer H.V. Evatt. Evatt won in Balmain in 1925 under the last NSW Legislative Assembly PR election, and won Balmain as an Independent Labor candidate in 1927 when single member electorates were re-introduced.

    Rural electorates in NSW had three members in 1920. Metropolitan electorates had five members. This meant a party winning most of the rural electorates, gaining two of the three members, got more bang for its buck (or quid in the currency of the day), and Holman’s Nationalists may have cottoned on to this. It is also possible they didn’t. The Victorian Electoral Commission, in respect of representation reviews in Victorian local government, has in most cases tried to act fairly in its implementation of pr in multi member wards, but in a couple of cases it stuffed up badly by not realising the consequences of its distributions, and I’ll cover these later as I don’t want to write too much on this topic, and I’ve probably written too much anyway.

    To give an example using fictional figures this point can be best illustrated.

    Say there are five metropolitan electorates returning five members each. That’s 25 members in total. Say the ALP gets 60 per cent and three members in all of them and non-Labor gets 40 per cent and two seats in all of them. Wouldn’t happen in practice of course but this is just to illustrate my point. The ALP has 15 metropolitan members and non-Labor 10. Assume each electorate has 5000 voters, and the metropolitan total voters number 25,000. The ALP has 15000 metropolitan votes and non-Labor has 10000 metropolitan votes.

    Say there are ten rural electorates returning three members each. Each electorate has 3000 and there are 30000 voters in total in all of the rural electorates. We now assume non-Labor gets 55 per cent of the vote in each electorate and two of the three seats in each electorate. We assume the ALP gets 45 per cent and one seat in each electorate. That’s 20 seats for non-Labor and 10 seats for the ALP. The ALP has 13500 rural votes and non-Labor has 16500 rural votes.

    In terms of parliamentary representation the ALP has 25 seats our fictional legislature. Non-Labor has 30, or a majority of five. The ALP has 45 per cent of the seats with almost 52 per cent of the votes. PR will normally produce representation similar to the proportion of votes cast, but uneven numbers of electorates, as in our fictional example, can result in an unfair result.

    Best practice under Hare Clark or stv pr requires all electorates to return an odd number of members, and all electorates to return the same number of members. NSW in 1920,1922 and 1925 complied with the first rule of best practice, an odd number, but not the second, as metropolitan electorates returned 5 members and rural electorates returning 3.

    It was Jack Lang who got rid of PR in NSW. He was a megalomaniac. Arthur Calwell so described him and he was right. Like the factional bosses in the contemporary ALP in Victoria (in making submissions to the Victorian Electoral Commission advocating single member wards in local government) Lang wanted single member electorates because they helped him get lopsided majorities when he won elections. If PR had continued in NSW it might have prevented the excesses of the Langite government in 1932, which caused it to be sacked by the NSW Governor.

  16. Actually, both sides agreed to the abolition of PR. It wasn’t imposed by Jack Lang. He tried to impose first past the post but the Legislative Council insisted on optional preferential voting.

    PR was originally, as you say, introduced as a rig. After the introduction of second ballots had failed to prevent Labor winning the 1910 election, PR was the second attempt. With the First World War over, the Nationalist Party was splitting into two parties, the Nationalists and Progressives. A long story best covered by an excellent Masters thesis done in the 1950s but largely forgotten. If I get time, I’m hoping to try and get it re-published this year as it is the best source of the development of the NSW electoral system between 1856 and 1930.

    Anyway, all academic. As I said, it would require abill through parliament and a referendum to abolish single member electorates.

  17. Thanks Antony. The Masters thesis should be good reading, and I hope it is re-published.

    You are right. It is all academic but very interesting nevertheless.

  18. I can’t wait to see the Mackerras and Green pendulums for this coming NSW election. How on earth do they work out seat margins after electoral redistributions, especially when Independents or minor parties are in the picture? I wish that I knew the “secret”.

  19. If Holman introduced Hare-Clark to keep Labor out, it didn’t do him any good, because Labor beat him in 1920. The demographics of NSW, in 2007 as in 1920, mean that a Labor majority is the “default” result of a NSW state election, whatever the election system. Recall that since 1910 Labor has won majorities at every election except 1917 (Holman), 1922 (Fuller), 1928 (Bavin), 1932-35-38 (Stephens), 1965-68-71-73 (Askin, and 1971 was very close) and 1988 (Greiner). Thus Labor has to really, really stuff up to lose, and even then they are seldom out for long. As a mere Victorian it is difficult for me to tell whether Iemma’s determined efforts to lose in 2007 will succeed, but I suspect they will not. Incidentally the “Toorak Toff” tag did hurt Ted Baillieu, however unfair it was, and no doubt NSW Labor has noticed this, although the politics of class probably play differently in Sydney to Melbourne.

  20. Holman also failed to be re-elected in 1920, despite the fact that he was the outgoing Premier. This fate has only been equalled twice to my knowledge by a leader seeking re-election. In South Africa in 1948 United Party PM Smuts was defeated in his own constituency by a Willie du Plessis, a hardline Afrikaaner who as National Party candidate supported apartheid. Neither Google nor Wikipedia have much information on South African politics pre majority rule. It is not something anyone wants to know about. In Australia in 1929 Nationalist Party PM Bruce was defeated by the ALPs EJ Holloway in the seat of Flinders. Holloway went on to become a Minister in several ALP governments.

  21. Sir James “Moo-cow” Mitchell lost his seat (Northam, I think) while Premier of WA in 1933. Similar things have happened several times in the UK. Gladstone was defeated at Greenwich in 1868, an election his party actually won, so he had to find another seat. Balfour lost his seat in 1906, although he had resigned as PM shortly before the election.

    You are right about South African politics. I have been trying to locate election statistics for the minority-rule period for my website but have not been able to.

  22. Canadian Prime Minister McKenzie King was twice defeated at elections at which his party won government. On both occassions, a member of his party stood aside to let him into Parliament.

  23. Adam,

    Encyclopedia Britannica yearbooks have had, until the last few years, election results throughout the world, sometimes under “Political Parties”, sometimes under “World Affairs: Political Parties”. There won’t be the detail you want, but it is a starting point. You can also try “A Cricket in the Thorn Tree Helen Suzman and the Progressive Party” by Joanna Strangwayes-Booth (Hutchison & Co, London, 1976).

  24. John Howard conceivably might just cap an astonishing political career with defeat in Bennelong later this year.

    Des Corcoran was deputy premier of South Australia when he held on to the country seat Millicent by just one vote in 1968. There followed a Court of Disputed Returns, where it was revealed that the returning officer had broken with convention and voted in the election. A new election was ordered and Corcoran won comfortably. Martin Cameron, the Liberal candidate, always claimed he was beaten by his aunt in the original election in which there were three candidates. She told him “I gave you three votes, Martin” – meaning she put a 3 against his name!

  25. Just like Ted Baillieu, who was beaten by his mother-in-law!

    Chris, no, I want constituency level figures. No doubt there is a library somewhere in South Africa that has them, but I haven’t got round to asking.

    Phil, I think it likely that *if* Labor wins or comes close this year (and I say if), then Howard will be in real danger, because the North Shore has been going steadily soft on the federal Libs for some time. Even Mad Mark got swings in all the North Shore seats, so imagine what the Careful Kevin the Christian can do. On the other hand the more the possibility is talked up, the less likely it is to happen. This was the situation with McMahon in Lowe in 1972, when media crowing about how he would lose his seat produced a sympathy vote that saved him.

  26. Iemma in NSW in similar to Unsworth when Wran resigned.
    Unsworth had the smell of defeat about him and the Libs had a likeable candidate in Greiner.
    When Iemma took over from Carr there were many paralells to Unsworth and the same smell of desperation and defeat.
    However the Libs big mistake was to crucify Brogden and replace him with Debnam who is not a Greiner.
    The Libs would have made this a very close race or possibly a walkover if they had stuck with Brogden.

  27. Rod, this has become normal behaviour for the state libs. I looked on in horror as Bruce Flegg was installed as leader of the libs in Qld and sparked a disasterous election campaign which would previously have led to a photo finish had the familar, likeable and reasonably proven Bob Quinn remained in the job. The NSW libs have me shaking my head in dismay, Iemma will be awarded another term, perhaps losing only 4 or 5 seats, but Debnam’s demise will, I hope, be halted for a year or so before the rise and rise of Pru Goward.

  28. It is rare that I visit this site but as a NSW constituent in a safe nationals seat that usually votes against the nats, why should I vote at all when it wont make a difference?

    It is worth noting though at this stage, the nats are the only ones game to show their policies –

    I all ready know where my vote will go this time but its up for grabs in the upper house for all parties except the Liberal party. I’ll be happy to hear arguments for the way I should vote there.

  29. Dave I agree with you, I don’t know why they do it. But as soon as they seem to have a decent leader, decent as in policies and humanity they seem to get rid of them.
    Brogden had his faults but he was likable and appeared half trustworthy, same with Quinn, but their replacements appear aloof and incompentent.

    Vee as for your vote, the best governments that NSW has had has been when the government of the day has had to rely on the independents to pass legislation.

  30. I agree with Rod B “the best governments that NSW has had has been when the government of the day has had to rely on the independents to pass legislation”.

    I would same the same thing based on recent Qld history, comaring the Gov’t when it had to rely on Peter Wellington, compared to the present and past two parlaiments… provided that the independent(s) have the intelligence, decency and responsibilty of someone like Mr Wellington, who had a distinguished career in local Gov’t prior to entering the Qld parlaiment.

  31. Pre-1948 South African politics is interesting, especially the strange career of the South African Labor Party which initially aligned itself with the Afrikaner’s on anti-imperialist and racial grounds. W K Hancock has an interesting chapter on the 1919-48 elections in his Perspective in History. He notes that electorate size variations accounted for the Nationalist victory in 1948 as the Nationalists swept the low enrolment rural seats, the Smuts-Labor alliance had more votes. Smuts and Balfour both lost their seas and were both philosophers.

  32. I think all those Quinnophiles better check their memory. His greatest quality was that noone knew who he was even after five years as liberal leader. A dunce or a dud is a more accurate description of the man and his ability as leader.

  33. It seems people forget so quickly how it was Brogden himself who caused his own demise by comments made to journalists of all people.

    There is no need to leak anything that is said to the press themselves.

  34. Dave S, after the Libs have lost this coming election (which we all seem to assume very probable), they’d have to strongly fancy their odds in 2011, given that Carr-Iemma will by then be 16 years old. Surely even a half-way stable Liberal leader and a modicum of unity will be enough to see an ‘it’s time’-style campaign over the line by that stage, especially if they draw some of those margins down at this coming election.

    That being the case, I can’t see David Clarke and the freshly-minted hard-Right majority in the Party acquiescing to Pru Goward getting anywhere near the leadrship. If they think any Lib nutter can win, I think they’ll insist on it being one of their own, ideologically pure, nutters.

  35. Re Brogden-nostalgia. I can’t check my sources here in beautiful Penang, but I do seem to recall that Brogden brought about his own demise by calling Bob Carr’s wife a “mail-order bride” because she made the serious mistake of coming from this country, and then making druken sexual advances at two female journalists (which shows remarkably poor taste as well as poor judgement). Were the Liberals seriously supposed to retain him as leader after that?

  36. The famed 1920 NSW Election, not only saw Labor win in a PR system, it also saw Holman lose his own seat as Premier and Member for Cootamundra. His own party was unwilling to allow him to return to Parliament, and we dont hear of him again untill he is elected as UAP MHR for Martin in 1931-34. On another point, who do you think will be the next NSW MP to announce they are not contesting the election?

  37. Holman was a conscriptionist and parted company with the ALP in 1917. He remained premier as a Nationalist and lost his seat to a Progressive (forerunner to the Country Party). He did return as a UAP member in 1931 – the UAP being the successor party to the Nationalists following the 1931 ALP meltdown. So he was effectively in the same party.

  38. Despite being an ALP man, I think Labor will lose around 15-18 seats. Debnam is a turkey but I fear the government has overstayed its welcome. The only thing that may reverse this prediction is if Debnam does something even more stupid than the whole Debus incident a few weeks back (and given how unstable the guy seems to be this can’t be ruled out).
    Nominally Labor has some big margins but the Australian electorate has proven itself to be volatile and capable of big swings. Don’t forget Labor’s 1999 NSW results. If there can be big swings to build up margins, they can be demolished just as easily.

  39. I’m not sure how many yet.

    I think the Libs may pick up about 8, and the Nationals around 3 from the ALP.

    I also think that three independents (Hawkesbury, Pittwater and Manly) will lose their seats to the Libs.

    That would lead to a knife-edge result, but if the government is really on the nose, it could be bigger especially in Sydney and the Central Coast.

  40. Adam
    Re Brogden,
    After the incidents came to light Brogden denied them and was supported by others present who said it never happened.
    The press has many secrets on our politicians but for various reasons chooses not to disclose them.
    The Evans Kernot affair was only disclosed baecause Oakes said that Kernot was being misleading in her autobiography for her reasons in changing parties.
    The matter where the democrat leader had a go at Ferris came to light becasue Ferris complained.
    I don’t believe there were any complaints made re Brogden but the impression was that it was a right wing liberal sanctioned go ahead for the press to report it. It seems this would have remained one of the press secrets but for the go ahead.
    Brogden would still be leader and Iemma would be facing a tougher opponent and battle in the election.

  41. For what it’s worth I believe the ALP will run a scare campaign against the unpopular IR laws. I’m not sure that political commentators have picked up on the fact that Labors vote in opinion polls always climbs when IR rallies etc come to the fore. Don’t underestimate the impact these laws will have on the election result. I can’t prove this but I believe the state elections Labor has easily one in the last 12 months have had a substantial anti IR component to the way people voted. I do know that Labor in each state used the IR laws as part of their election strategy. Bear in mind that not all of those Labor governments deserved to get back in the manner they did. Take Queensland with the Health issues, Tasmania with Lennon’s indiscretions and Bracks with cost blow outs etc. Something was working for them. Iemma and Labor will make a feast of this issue. They will lose seats but I’m convinced they will be far from losing government.

  42. The scare campaign and IR focus are already confirmed, check out for proof (adding a .au at the end will get you to Debnam’s actual site).

    I tend to agree with Gary that the strategy is going to work. It’s going to be hard for Debnam not to argue back on WorkChoices, what with the NSW ALP machine being so effective in getting its own media stories up and with reports Federal Liberals intend to play a big role in the campaign ( Yet as soon as Debnam takes the bait and does start arguing about IR, the Govt’s failings in transport and health take a back seat. And only in campaigning hard on transport and health does Debnam have a chance to pick up the needed seats on the Central Coast and in Southern and Western Sydney.

    The other factor is Iemma’s general likeability compared to Debnam’s stuffy pompousness. I think Labor will be throwing around ‘Member for Vaucluse’ quite a bit.

    I see Labor losing at most 4 seats and possibly even winning the new (well, renamed) seat of Terrigal.

  43. I agree with Gary that (a) Labor will run on IR, and that (b) they will benefit by doing so. Anyone who thinks that the full political effect of the IR laws have yet been felt is kidding themselves. Whether this will be enough to save the NSW Govt from its own very obvious inadequacies remains to be seen. I don’t see enough NSW media to know how Debnam is coming across, but as I said earlier the “Toff from Toorak” tag did do Ted Baillieu a lot of damage in Victoria.

  44. My reading of the pendulum is that a 4% swing is required for Labor to lose its first seat. Having looked at, Labor is obviously running on Debnam’s promise to sack 20,000 public servants (while increasing the number of police and nurses) and IR in general. In the radio and TV ads the point that he is the member for Vaucluse is heavily laboured. Labor will lose 5 at most and may make some gains. The trend of former mayors becoming members at the expense of the National Party may continue – Myall Lakes and Coffs Harbour are two that are possible – although both failed to turn last time.

    One final word on PR in NSW. The split in Labor that continued from 1925 until Lang was deposed in 1939 was started (if you believe Jack Lang “I Remember” (?) 1956) by Lang’s attempt to manipulate the parliament after the close election under PR rules of 1925. Lang caused an independent member, A D E Kay, to resign by appointing him as the consumer member of the Meat Board. Under the electoral act he was replaced by a candidate from the party which he had most supported in divisions. The resultant uproar (shades of Terry Metherall) was the pretext for a revolt in Caucus. However Lang won the spill motion. I only mention this because Lang’s comment is one of the best I have read in a political autobiography. “The rebels now became worried about their endorsments – they had every reason to be worried”

  45. Someone’s interested in my electorate! At the last State election, the sitting Nat in Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, a nutter, won just 40% of the primary vote. (I say ‘just’ because this is a strong Nat area). Unfortunately the preferences of the two independents (both local councillors), ALP and Greens didn’t arrange themselves neatly and Fraser was returned with 62% 2PP over one of the indies.

    This time there will only be one significant independent candidate, current mayor Keith Rhoades (incidently, the weaker of the two indies last time round, before he was mayor). If he outpolls the ALP (and Green preferences from the hippy-heavy hinterland don’t accidently push the ALP ahead of him) he’ll receive a very strong majority of ALP second preferences and it could be very close. (If the ALP does finish ahead of him it’s unlikely more than 50% of his preferences will go to the ALP, so the scenario doesn’t work in reverse.)

    Rhoades isn’t the most eloquent candidate, but he comes off as hard-working to those few who follow politics here. more importantly, he’s absolutely ubiquitous, and in a very switched-off electorate like this one, where most people can’t name the Premier (you think i’m kidding?), his name recognition factor at least matches Fraser’s and that could help.

    Instructively, the ALP are doing nothing to promote their candidate. And Fraser claims the Government have assisted Rhoades as mayor win some highway safety changes he says he’d tried to get for ages.

    I’d rank us as a mid-level seat-to-watch. But maybe i’m just desperate for some political excitement up here!

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