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. Breaking news.

    Stephen Chaytor has been found guilty of assault and will be sentenced later today. I expect that to be the end of his career.

    Chaytor polled a 2pp of 60.1% in the 2005 by-election, down from 72% for Knowles in the 2003 election.

    You’d normally expect a general election to see a swing back away from the protest vote, but Nola Fraser is running again, and is one of the Liberal Party’s stronger candidates. So I expect the Liberals will do well in this seat, but a 10% swing on top of a 12% swing is a bit much.

  2. With the N.S.W. goverenment seeming a bit unpopular and the opposition seeming to be in a similar state the Greens might do well maybee even pick up those 2 seats they came second in last time plus another member or two in the Legislative Council (what is parlimentary party status in N.S.W.?).

  3. Dave B
    My impression is that Labor is running dead in the coastal electorates – presumably to maximise the mayhem that independents can cause the National Party. The candidates in Oxley, Coffs and Myall Lakes are all very low profile and so far they have been unable to name a candidate in Port Macquarie.

  4. Dave B, my view from afar is that Andrew Fraser made himself a local hero through his confrontation with Joe Tripodi and is now pretty much unassailable. That’s the thrust of the Coffs Harbour entry in my draft election guide, which will go online in about two weeks. I’d be interested to hear you elaborate on why this isn’t so.

  5. The chief complaint against Fraser, whether warranted or not, has for a long time been that he’s a do-nothing, ineffective Member. That’s what the independents campaigned on against him in 2003 and he had a lot of trouble pointing to any achievements to refute the claim. And the anti-Fraser first preference vote was in the order of 54%.

    Among the large swathes of the disinterested here, the ‘altercation’ with Tripodi in Parliament may have helped Fraser somewhat, firstly in that it made the news and therefore increased his name recognition, but more importantly in that it showed he actually did something! And a bit of biffo in State Parliament is the type of something that does go down well up here. Shoving it up the democratic process is quite popular.

    But among the mildly-to-actually interested, the story came across as not Fraser himself doing something, but getting angry that someone else had succeeded in doing something. The whole incident brought even more attention to the point that Mayor Rhoades had achieved something where Fraser had not. In that sense, the reason people voted against Fraser in 2003 was strongly reinforced.

    I’m aware the SMH reported that the Coffs Harbour Advocate was “flooded” with letters to the editor supporting Fraser, but it should be noted that receiving a couple of letters from anyone but the usual five or so prolific letter-writers would be considered a flood. The editorial line of the paper itself was not particularly flattering to the Member.

    I certainly wouldn’t agree that Fraser achieved local hero status as a result, if anything, Mayor Rhoades did for the actual achievement which thanks to Fraser’s antics was well publicised. Anyone interested enough to be able to correctly identify Fraser as the local member probably knows enough about the story to have gained an overall negative impression of him from it. The problem is, those who know enough about the story are probably not quite enough in number to see him defeated, though i do still maintain that it will be closer than the 62% he ended up on in 2003.

    Qualification: i saw the whole episode through ALP-voting eyes!

  6. Sorry, if you’ll allow me to make one more comment on a topic i realise very few people are interested in…

    I’m certain that a well-funded, well-organised conservative independent could easily take Fraser out. Rhoades is definitely conservative and his management of the Council gives the impression of a decent level of political skill. But it’s not yet clear how committed he is to the race, both in terms of putting some of his own money up and really working the electorate hard. I think the eventual outcome will depend on how invested he becomes in the race.

  7. Thanks to all of you for your insightful and rational comments. In regard to a possible Independent balance of power in the Legislative Assembly, you might consider the Shellharbour seat which has Wollongong’s Mayor Darling running as Independent against a Sussex St. appointee for Labor. Mayor Darling has high local profile and considerable popularity (don’t ask me why he’s so well regarded, as I’ve always found that unfathomable). Many in the Illawarra union movement have publicly expressed that the Labor candidate, a Bluescope Steel Human Resources Officer, is an inappropriate appointment because of anti-union activities she has performed as part of her HR duties. If the coalition parties preference Darling #1, he’s got a good chance.

  8. Well, Andrew McDonald, a local paediatrician (who also happens to be my father; coincidence, since I’ve been a long-time lurker) has been given the go-ahead for preselection to Macquarie Fields.

  9. Good Point Douglas about the redistribution – It should adjust the margin by a percent or two…

    Hope your dad does a good job for the area if he gets in.

  10. Yeah, I heard Andrew McDonald is on track for preselection in MacFields. I was quite surprised, he seems really good and totally unlike the usual mediocrity the ALP preselects in places like MacFields, Campbelltown, Camden (Geoff Corrigan, Craig Knowles, Steven Chaytor, a bunch of useless party hacks).

  11. People really should think about the likelihood of independents controlling the balance of power.

    There’s seven independents (eight if you include Steven Pringle). Most of them should get re-elected (I doubt all of them will), but there seem to be good chances of independents being elected in all sorts of places (hardly any in Sydney).

    The only way, as I can see it, that Debnam gets elected is if there is a massive number of independents elected (say over 10) who then lean towards him.

    And while I reckon we’ll have a decent chance of getting a Green elected in Balmain, and outside chances in Marrickville and Newcastle, the impact of any elected Greens will have much more significance for the Greens in the long-term, improving our credibility as a party able to elect lower house MPs, than any impact on a hung parliament, alongside a very diverse group of independents including 1 or 2 Greens.

  12. with the retirements, Labor is on about 43 Seats, so the question is, how many of the 12 or 13 vacant seats can it retain? also, who will be game enough to predict which Ministers will lose their seats?

  13. Yes, but how many of the vacant seats are marginal? This isn’t like the US where “open seats” are one of the central factors in the change of party. It can make a difference, but not the most important factor.

  14. Most sitting members have hardly any personal vote in Australian electorates. Of those who do a large number represent marginal electorate.

    Quite different in the USA where people often vote for the person rather than the party,

  15. When will you Greenies and your fans in the media learn not to over-hype your prospects before every election? You do it every time, and then even quite respectable results (federal 2004, Vic 2006) get painted as disappointing because they don’t match your predictions. Sensible political parties, as opposed to apocalyptic sects, don’t make this mistake.

  16. When will you Greenies and your fans in the media learn not to over-hype your chances before every election? You do it every time, so that even quite respectable results (federal 2004, Vic 2006) are seen as disappointing when they don’t match predictions. This is a mistake which serious political parties (as opposed to apocalyptic sects) don’t make.

  17. Adam, as an ex-green, I know that the Vic Greens have never said they’d win anything close to what is reported. Bob Brown has been known to overstate things. Its more the media doing it so as to report a lessening of our vote.

    As for friends in the media, who are you talking about? Wasn’t aware we had any

  18. Don’t make me laugh – the ABC and the Fairfax press just love the Greens. I agree that it is usually your media groupies rather than your candidates who do the overhyping.

  19. Yes, our ‘fans’ in the media are overhyping our chances and laying the groundwork for our respectable results to be seen as failures. With friends like that…

  20. It is the Greens ‘media groupies’ reporting what comes out of Bob Brown’s mouth. Perhaps, some of the Greens media minders should tell Bob to put a sock in it!

  21. The Greens do not have media groupie! The media hates the Greens. You’d have to be blind, deaf and stupid to think otherwise.

    Which one are you?

  22. What? change my name because I’ve got older? whats the point.
    Or are you one of those people that don’t listen to young people because they are young?

    Why dont you try growing up yourself, I’ve never seen a sorrier excuse for an insult in my life.

  23. I am going to have to agree and say the media hits the greens with kid gloves. If anyone ever bothered to look at them at any depth they would realise the Greens are a super permissive quasi communist pack of loons.

  24. “It is the Greens ‘media groupies’ reporting what comes out of Bob Brown’s mouth. Perhaps, some of the Greens media minders should tell Bob to put a sock in it!”

    I am probably wasting my time trying to correct this but here goes. During the last Federal election, when Bob Brown was asked about the Greens chances, usually along the lines of “You could win six Senate seats” he *always* responded with “we could win between zero and six, the half-way point between those possibilities is three, so let’s talk about winning three seats, which would be a great result”. Some of the breathless media columnists wrote of the Greens winning 6 (or 7!) seats, but still, somehow, ‘everyone’ remembers *Bob* boasting of winning six seats.

    The big claim he did make was “one million people will vote 1 Green at this election”. In the end 916,431 did, which I don’t think can really be classed as ‘overhyping’. We didn’t do quite as well as we hoped in 2004, but we never claimed we would do much better than we did.

    Everyone agrees that there is a problem with expectations management and that unreasonable expectations before an election hurts us after the election. So why do you think the ‘media groupies’ who create the unreasonable expectations in first place are our friends? Surely if they wanted to help us, they’d downplay our prospects before the election, then go triumphant about our astonishing breakthrough after the election. You know, that ‘underdog’ advantage everyone talks about. I can’t follow the logic in the argument, but I’m eager to be illuminated.


  25. What Darryl is saying is fair enough, but when I think about the media and the Greens, I think about something else – they are at least given coverage and face-time. One could be forgiven for thinking there are no other minor parties. People who might be thinking about a protest vote in NSW, for instance, would be aware that the Greens are out there, but other minors and independents don’t get as much acknowledgement for their successes (or failures, mentioning no names of particularly evil MLCs for instance).

  26. OK enough about the Greens for now. Some questions from an ignorant Mexican: is Family First well organised in NSW? Will they win Leg Council seats? Will they displace Nile as the voice of Christian conservatism in Sydney?

  27. To register a party in NSW, you need 750 members, and those members cannot be members of more than one party. You must pay $2,000 to register a party. Your list of registered members must be made available for inspection by the Electoral Commission every year to maintain registration. You must have membership to be a party, simply having a member of Parliament does not qualify you for party status. Above all, and I think this is the problem Family First ran into, you must be registered for 12 months before you can nominate candidates for election under your party label. So the parties registered for this years election had to be registered by March 2006.

    To run for the Legislative Council parties or groups must nominate at least 15 candidates. For technical reasons to do with the way the electoral system is embedded in the constitution, you must stand 15 candidates or you cannot have a group ticket voting box above the line. The deposit to nominate a full ticket of candidates is $10,000.

    Again for constitutional reasons, all parties must lodge a ‘second group preference’ which can apply if death or disqualification results in a group having less than 15 candidates.

    However, group ticket votes do not apply. If you vote ‘1’ for a party above the line, your vote only applies to that party’s candidates. There are no preferences, unless half a dozen candidates die in which case the lodged second preference would come into play.

    However, voters can fill in the boxes above the line, and these are interpreted as being a 1st preference for the ordered list of your first party, then preferences for the ordered list of your second party, and so on.

    At the 2003 election, 80% of voters simply voted ‘1’ above the line, about 19% voted using preferences above the line, and about 1% voted below the line. The election is to fill 21 vacancies, and 15 preferences are required below the line for a formal vote.

  28. I’m fairly confident Fred Nile will be re-elected.

    Most of the current swathe of upper house crossbenchers will probably lose. They were elected in 1999 under ticket voting, and the new system introduced in 2003 makes it much harder for microparties.

    In 2003 the four crossbenchers elected were two from the Greens, one from the Christian Democrats and one from the Shooters Party.

    The seven elected in 1999 are:
    -David Oldfield (Ind, ex-One Nation)
    -Lee Rhiannon (Greens)
    -Fred Nile (Christian Democrats)
    -Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (Democrats)
    -Peter Wong (Unity)
    -Jon Jenkins (Outdoor Recreation Party)
    -Peter Breen (Ind, briefly ALP)

    I’m not sure which of them are running, but I can say confidently that Oldfield, Wong, Jenkins and Breen all stand no chance of being re-elected.

    I’d say with the Democrats chances they will lose their seat too.

    And if you look at the list of parties registered in NSW, the only parties with any chance, as I see it, are the Greens, CDP and the Shooters Party. I expect Nile to be elected along with two Greens, with the outside chance of a third Green. I doubt that the Shooters Party can do it. They’ve only won when running John Tingle, and he has since retired.

    PS. Family First were never going to run in NSW. They announced it about a year ago.

    PPS. Antony, your website still lists Steven Chaytor as running in MacFields.

    PPPS. Not meaning to resurrect the debate, but my experience visiting Melbourne in November was that the Greens were actually working really hard to dampen down expectations. While it’s true that occasionally we’ve gotten excited and made claims, I don’t think we’ve done that in any of our recent elections. Indeed, media who exaggerate Greens prospects are often not pro-Greens, they just like to see a more interesting political climate, or indeed want to hurt us by then being able to spin a “greens fall short” line, or scare people into not voting for us. I remember the SMH reporting that the Greens were looking at 15% in Werriwa (after reporting we were gonna win), and god knows we didn’t feed them that rubbish.

  29. Note that the link Antony provides above to the ABC website doesn’t work because he has linked the full stop. Press the link, delete the full stop, and it works.

    On a MUCH more serious note, don’t they teach syntax at the ABC?

    “First created ahead of the 1973 election, Penrith has been held by the Labor Party since, with the exception of a single term 1988-91 when it was won by the Liberal Party’s Guy Matheson. Defeated at the 1991 election by Labor’s Fay Lo Po, she was succeeded in 2003 by current MP Paluzzano, when Labor suffered a 10.6% swing, the largest in the state.”

    In the second sentence, who was defeated by whom? Who succeeded whom? The word after the comma must be either “Matheson” or “he.”

  30. And again:

    “Held by Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt, Labor will need to maintain the high primary vote it recorded at the by-election if it is to avoid losing this seat to the Greens.” What does Carmel hold?

  31. “Last represented by the Liberal party 1988-91, current MP Paul Mcleay was first elected in 2003.” McLeay was represented by the Liberal Party?

  32. Two in a row! “Son of former Federal MP and Speaker Leo McLeay, the Liberal Party has polled much better in this district at recent Federal elections.”

  33. Another double: “Gained by the Labor Party’s Kevin Greene in 1999, he increased his majority substantially in 2003. A hard working local MP, the Liberal Party will need to work hard to dislodge Greene.”

  34. “Imposed on the seat by Labor head office, it is reported local party branches are disgruntled at being denied a pre-selection ballot.”

    “Held by Labor’s Cherie Burton since 1999, the margin looks highly inflated, so this is a seat Labor cannot assume they will hold.”

    “Held by senior Liberal frontbencher Chris Hartcher, he should increase his majority substantially at the 2007 election.”

    “Normally a safe conservative seat, interest in this contest has been created by the Liberal pre-selection of former journalist and Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward as its candidate.”

    “Gained for the National Party by Gerry Peacocke in 1981, he held the seat until his retirement in 1999.”

    I’m sorry to be a dreary pedant, and I don’t wish to denigrate Antony’s excellent work, but this repeated sloppy syntax becomes very annoying and distracting after a while. This many identical errors on one webpage shows a lack of understanding of basic English grammar which is unbecoming in a respected and erudite commentator. Simply, the rule is that if you start a sentence with a subordinate clause, as Antony seems fond of doing, the words after the comma must complete that sentence, not wander off and start a new sentence. Thus, if I begin a sentence “Gained for the National Party by Gerry Peacocke in 1981,…” the next word must be name the of seat gained by Peacocke, or a phrase such as “this seat.”

  35. Hi Anthony,
    Some local information on Myall Lakes. The Mayor of Great Lakes, John Chadban, has announced he will not stand. The only major independent will be local chicken shop owner and mayor of Taree, Eddie Loftus. Lisa Clancy will be the ALP candidate again. Normally I would think a strong independent would have a good chance against the Nat’s Turner but Eddie is not particularly popular and is relatively unknown in the Forster end of the electorate.

  36. I’m an English teacher too (pre-post-modernism, pre-critical literacy, pre-deconstructionism, pre-jargon, pre-Kleenex box as a “text”), and Adam is right: the examples he gives are grammatically deplorable. A descriptive phrase or clause goes next to that which it describes. I think it fits with the ABC’s total decline in the art of captioning of people shown on its news. Sometimes, the caption is missing and there is no information about who is talking or what relation he or she has to the story. At other times, the caption is simply wrong, wrong in name or wrong in title.

  37. Adam makes a valid point, though I’m more concencerned about the examples that are confusing rather than ungrammatic. Some of the above examples aren’t so bad when read in conjunction with the preceeding sentence.

    I was confused where these examples came from until I realised Adam was talking about the key seats page. That page does begin life as a cut and paste from the full page for the seat, which explains some of the linguistic clutter. But you make a valid point about sentence structure which I’ll try to keep in mind.

    Mind you, its a bit hard to make the key seats page read like great literature. The whole lot is kept in fields in a database and generated as a page. It’s not something I write as a single page, so I suppose it suffers when someone else reads it as a single page. Something I do in a single paragraph in a record for a seat becomes magnified when read as multiple uses of the same sentence structure in multiple paragraphs.

  38. Enviroyouth, somehow this revelation does not surprise me. You need a new English teacher prontissimo.

    Antony, in retrospect this all looks rather bitchy on my part, and I appreciate the constraints you work under. Nevertheless, it should be as easy to write grammatical sentences as it is to write ungrammtical ones. Bad grammar generates confusion and makes your work less effective. Really the ABC should provide you with a subeditor.

  39. Adam stop trying to act superior. Just because I (might) be younger then you does not mean I’m inferior. In fact, looking at your posts, your just a petty small-minded git who resorts to insults instead of arguaments.

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