Idle speculation about the federal election

Adam Carr asks: "William, could we have a thread dedicated to idle speculation about the federal election, as you have done for the NSW election?" His wish is my command. By way of a conversation starter, I note that the Australian Electoral Commission recently released an extensive list of parties that have been deregistered by virtue of last year’s electoral law "reforms", one of which sought to do away with minor parties taking the name of major parties in vain, principally Liberals for Forests. This was to be achieved by deregistering all parties that had never achieved federal parliamentary representation six months after the passage of the bill, then requiring them to register again under the new rules. I didn’t think this worth mentioning at the time, as I assumed it would be a fairly simple matter for parties other than Liberals for Forests, leaving aside the irritation of some added paperwork. However, those with their noses closer to the grindstone of minor party politics evidently don’t see it that way. Stephen Mayne, until very recently a principal of the People Power party, had this to say in today’s Crikey email:

The Howard government is known for its cynicism but the deregistration of 19 political parties when the nation wasn’t paying attention on December 27 must surely go down as one of its lowest acts. What sort of democracy allows a government to unilaterally and automatically deregister all political parties that don’t have an MP? Talk about abusing control of both houses … If this had happened before the 2004 election there is no way that Family First would have got up in Victoria because it relied on preferences from the likes of liberals for forests. The strangest part of this debacle is that the media has shown no interest whatsoever in reporting this assault on democracy. Imagine if there was some form of business where the regulator could get away with saying all small competitors were automatically deregistered. The big have got bigger in John Howard’s Australia and the corner store competing with Woolworths knows exactly how all these minor parties must feel.

The practical upshot is that most existing minor parties must provide renewed proof that they have at least 500 members. The exceptions are the Greens, other than the Queensland branch; Family First; the Australian Democrats; the Nuclear Disarmament Party; the NSW division of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (curiously, given that One Nation only ever won a seat in Queensland), and the Democratic Labor Party (which evidently persuaded the AEC it was the same party that existed prior to 1978). I personally am unclear as to how often parties are required to do this in the normal course of events; anyone who can enlighten me is invited to do so in comments.

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.

244 comments on “Idle speculation about the federal election”

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  1. William, for my (and maybe others) education, can you please explain why “The exceptions are the Greens, other than the Queensland branch…”

    If we are dealing with a national registration with the AEC (as I suppose) this makes no sense to me. (Equally so for the reverse situation with the NSW branch of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation).

    I agree with the sentiments of Mr Stephen Mayne, this is a shoddy bit of play.

    I suppose that it would also be too much to hope that the AEC could fulfill their ethical (if not legal) obligation, and do something constructive sometime soon, to try to get as many younger people as possible to actually enrol as electors? I have heard that the enrolment rate is abysmally low in the younger age group (18 – 19 etc)

    Best wishes for 2007…

  2. Geoffrey, the answer lies in the complex and decentralised organisation of the Greens, which has no formal national executive and considerable autonomy for state branches. However, there would be many readers of this site who are better equipped to answer that question than myself.

  3. The Liberal, Labor and National parties also all have separate registrations for their state parties too.

    Although, I’m wondering did the law also protect parties that had state representation?

    As the Victorian Greens (although I just noticed that the ACT, SA and Tassie state parties don’t have federal representation) were protected, as was the DLP, although I thought the DLP does not have a continous organisational link with the old DLP which used to elect MPs. The only way to explain that is if they counted the MPs elected in the recent Victorian election.

  4. Also, my understanding is that parties are always having to continually show that they have the requisite 500 members. I think the difference with this is that these parties have to go through the whole process of applying to become a registered party, which is more than just having 500 members.

  5. Idle speculation about the federal election …

    In Monday’s Adelaide Advertiser a fairly prominent report said that Labor were planning to direct resources towards Parliamentary Secretary, Chris Pyne’s seat of Sturt (leafy Eastern suburbs … and supposedly blue ribbon electorate), held by a margin of 6.8%. This decision comes ahead of a belief in the local state party that Pyne’s margin is soft and the ‘Doctor’s Wives’ theory which supposedly chopped 2% of his margin in 2004 could come rear its head again and wipe Pyne out. I deem this seat to probably have a bedrock of Liberal support which would cut the margin to no less than about 4%, but as the artcile said Pyne has become more known as a factional warrior than a local MP, he might be in danger …

  6. “What sort of democracy allows a government to unilaterally and automatically deregister all political parties that don’t have an MP?”

    One in which a government can write the electoral laws.

  7. I would love to see the AEC insist that all political parties demonstrate at least the basic tennants of democracy in their internal operational processes. This would prevent extremist groups headed by strong but deranged individuals leading the sheep astray.
    There are some parties not on the list that would be deregistered if this was a criteria. It should at least be a criteria for determining the allocation of public moneys to fund campaigns.

  8. How can “Democratic Labour Party” be allowed but “liberals for forests” not be allowed? The l4f party has never accidently received 40% of the vote. Indeed, their vote at the last election looked just like you would expect from a minor party that wasn’t confused with a major party.

    But I’m not surprised the Libs want l4f deregistered. After all, the l4f preferenced the ALP at the last federal election leading to the downfall of Ross Cameron (Parramatta) and Anthony jnr (Richmond).

  9. Not that I am defending the 500 member requirement, but spare a thought for the Germans who vote for minor parties, particularly those who secure less than 5% of the (primary, I believe) vote and do not make it into parliament. I believe this requirement was instituted to prevent the neo-Nazi parties from entering the legislature although it can equally debase the Revolutionary Workers International (for example).

    The affront to democracy (however shaky our democracy was pre-1996) posed by the current regime only grows ever larger. A good reading list on the ‘reform’ of electoral laws is provided at the Democratic Audit website at the ANU. I have been in the current affairs darkroom for the past 2 years or so, juggling full time work and part-time study, moving 3 states and starting a new job, but I did notice that the Democratic Audit have published a lot of analysis that may be of use here (I think or just Google)

  10. Re the democratic process.
    It is law that when a union decides on strike action a secret ballot must be held, to stop members being intimidated.
    Parliaments would be interesting if the secret ballots applied on legisaltion, surely there are members intimated by knowing they could be deselected if they don’t toe the party line.
    One interesting rort is in federal parliament where the National Party was in danger of losing party status when one of thier own, McGauran I think, defected to the Libs.
    This left the Nats without the required minimum number of representives and the prospect of reduced funding .
    The Nats got around it by claiming McGauran was elected as a Nat and was still a Nat even though he was now a Lib.
    Is McGauran the only person in Australia to simultaneously represent two parties at the same time?
    Can the Greens and the Democrats and/or other minor parties work this rort to achieve party status.

  11. Rod B, the Nationals were in fact able to maintain party status in the Senate by “adopting” the Northern Territory’s Country Liberal Party Senator, Nigel Scullion, who gave them the extra member they needed to cover the loss of Julian McGauran (to whom you are referring – not to be confused with his brother Peter, who is still with the Nationals). I gather that this slightly dubious arrangement was rubber-stamped due to the Coalition’s control of the Senate, on the basis that the CLP was effectively a branch of the Nationals. However, this goes against the situation in the House of Reps, where the CLP member David Tollner is counted as a Liberal. Were the Greens and Democrats to organise any sort of “merger”, the government would no doubt think of a reason to use its Senate numbers to deny them party status.

  12. Thanks William
    This arrangement has always puzzled me as to how they got away with it.
    Conspiracy to defraud, conspiring to obtain funds by mispresentation, obtaining a benefit by deceit, would any of these apply here.

  13. I was idly browsing Adam’s site the other day and noticed David Oldfield was a gnats whisker from winning a seat.. was it Manly ? for the Libs back in.. 95 ?

  14. Correct on both counts, Nora. He was then a staffer to Tony Abbott and a Liberal member of Manly Council.

    MANLY (37,946)

    Green, Brian ALP 4,666 13.5 (-02.2)
    Oldfield, David Lib 15,343 44.5 (-01.2) 49.6 (+00.3)
    MacDonald, Dr Peter * 13,092 38.0 (+03.0) 50.4 (-00.3)
    Swan, John CTA 516 01.5
    Dee, Peter AD 877 02.5 (-01.1)

  15. Concerning the NSW One Nation issue, the material at notes:

    “A party will be automatically de-registered on 27 December2006 unless:


    The party makes a claim that satisfies the AEC that it (or a related party) has previously been a Parliamentary party. By section 123 of the Act, parties are related where one is part of another (e.g. a State branch of a Federal party) or both are parts of the same party (e.g. two State branches).”

    Thus a state branch of a party that has previously held a seat in another state was eligible to escape deregistration.

  16. I haven’t got the original report on me, but from memory the de-registration of all these parties parties came about for one reason, to remove ‘Liberals for Forests’.

    Parties have two routes to registration, one that they have elected members of parliament, the second that they have 500 members. The government wanted to tighten the naming provisions to prevent party names like Liberals for Forests being registered. But the legal opinion was that they couldn’t change the rules retrospectively to remove the existing registration of Liberals for Forests. Hence adopting the method of abolishing all parties that relied on membership for registration, then making them all re-apply under the changed rules. A rather complex procedure but legally allowed as it treated all parties that relied on membership equally. Several other tightening of membership provisions were also implemented at the same time.

    Of course, the act still doesn’t include a definition of what exactly a party member is, which was at the heart of the whole mess over Pauline Hanson going to gaol. The Hanson matter, and the Labor party pre-selection rorts highlighted in 2001, have seen the Queensland Electoral Act substantially changed, with registered parties required to publish constitutions on the ECQ website, and the Queensland Commissioner given appeal oversight of party pre-selections.

    The NSW election legislation was also greatly tightened after the 1999 tablecloth Legislative Council election, with parties now required to have 750 members, to lodge deposits for registration, to have annual inspection of membership lists and also checks that voters cannot be counted to the registration of two parties.

    Despite all the wailing against Labor Party rorts, the Federal government has made no step to tighten up party registrations, apart from getting rid of Liberals for Forests. Still no definition of party membership, and the sort of constitution drawn up by One Nation where members had no rights is still allowed under the Commonwealth Act.

  17. As far as I can tell “party membership” would simply involve signing the piece of paper for the AEC saying you are a party member, wouldn’t it? No membership fee, not even a requirement that those 500 “members” are all actual paid-up members of the party.

    And with Liberals for Forests, not only did they preference the ALP, but I know a number of very active young members of the ALP Left who spent election day in 2004 handing out HTVs for L4F in Parramatta while campaigning for Julie Owens.

  18. The Tassie greens are well represented by Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne! The fact is that Howard has introduced these changes by stealth and has caught a number of minor parties out, particularly as they are run by volunteers and can barely keep up with normal workloads, let alone Howards swifties as well.

    The Greens, and many other parties, are not a national party. They have state parties, not state branches. The Greens have no state branches. The Qld greens are on the deregistered list, and I would assume this is because they failed to get the paperwork lodged in time. If your registered party officer has gone away when Howard changes the law, you first need to get a new party officer so you can apply for registration, and sometimes the party constitution requires a general election of that postition, so it can all take time and be a huge PITA.
    Anyway, many of those minor parties had party status in the recent vic state election, so they have shown they have the 500 members. It was only those parties that do not have a member of parliament or a senator who need to go through the 500 member test. So the reason Vic Greens and NSW one nation are not on the deregistered list is probably because they got their act together, not because they qualified under some exemption. The same probably goes for the DLP.

  19. Exactly why it should be defined Ben. The original gaoling of Pauline Hanson and her eventual release both turned on case law and past court interpretations of membership as it applies to unicorporated associations. With no guidance from the electoral act on what a member was, the Courts had to fill in the gaps left wide open by the Act.

    The registration of parties came about for two reasons. One was a mechanism for party names to appear on ballot papers, the second to do with public funding of elections, though not all states that register parties have public funding.

    The current commonwealth electoral act simply states that non-parliamentary parties must have members and must continue to have members. No definition of what a member is, and the Electoral Commissions have had to react to various court judgments, such as those involving Hanson and One Nation.

    When Queensland introduced registered parties, they simply copied the Commonwealth provisions. When One Nation was de-registered in Queensland after the original civil case, it was on the basis not that the party had members with no rights to vote, but on the basis it didn’t have members. When Hanson was eventually freed after her gaoling, it was on the basis of re-interpration of the contract law involved in someone signing a membership form, and also the higher standard of proof required in a criminal matter.

    The One Nation constitution registered in Queensland was exactly the same as the Commonwealth one, and the Acts at the time were the same. It was only invalid in Queensland because the party had a Federal Senator, not a state MP. If a party has MPs, it is fine to have a party without members, but not for parties with no MPs.

    While NSW has tightened party registration, to date Queensland is the only state to use the electoral act to intrude on the internal workings of political parties.

    You don’t have to be a conspirancy theorist to be suspicious of why Parliament’s have avoided legislating on the internal workings of political parties.

  20. So parties with MPs don’t need to show they have members? Or is the law different in NSW on a state level? Because I remember filling out a form saying I was a member of a party.

  21. Dave S. mentioned Monday’s report in the Adelaide Advertiser headed ‘Labor to target Pyne’s safe seat’.

    As a former Labor candidate for Sturt, I welcome this initiative. It didn’t happen in my day (1987) but our ragtag band still achieved a two-party vote of 43.3 per cent. Tony Barca probably didn’t get a lot of help in 2004, either, and his vote was almost identical, 43.2 per cent despite the Latham handicap.

    According to the Advertiser, figures from the 2006 state election, on federal boundaries, show Sturt with a 54.2 per cent lead for the Liberal Party. It should be remembered that 2006 was a very strong year for state Labor, which won most of the seats which make up federal Sturt. That last 4 per cent is the hard part. The south-eastern end of Sturt is tiger country for Labor candidates. The burghers of Burnside do not budge.

    Sturt emerged in 1949, stretched across the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. The western end has working class areas and a large Italian population. Most of the electorate is solidly middle class, like Don Dunstan’s old bailiwick of Norwood which is becoming more trendy and less Labor oriented by the minute.

    Over more than 55 years, Labor has had just two moments of glory in Sturt. In 1954, the veteran Labor statesman Norman Makin returned from ambassadorial duties in Washington and polled 53 per cent of the two-party vote to defeat the Liberals’ inaugural member, Keith Cameron Wilson. An unfavourable electoral redistribution had Makin scurrying to Bonython and Wilson easily regained the seat in 1955.

    Wilson cruised through the next three elections before accepting a knighthood and passing the seat on to his son, Ian Bonython Cameron Wilson, in 1966. Labor that year had a glamour candidate – Norwood footballer and soon-to-be psychiatrist Keith Le Page. But Vietnam War euphoria was overwhelming and Labor recorded a record low two-party vote for Sturt, 33.1 per cent.

    The next election, in 1969, was extraordinary. It was Gough Whitlam’s first election as leader and the Liberals were on the nose in South Australia because the Playford gerrymander had brought down the Dunstan Government the previous year. A savage backlash tipped the Liberals out of Adelaide, Grey, Kingston – and Sturt, where the larrikin watersider Norm Foster won by a few hundred votes. Labor also picked up the new electorate of Hawker for an 8-4 seat advantage in South Australia, reversing the 8-3 superiority previously enjoyed by the Liberals.

    Ironically, Foster was a rare Labor casualty in the 1972 It’s Time election. Ian Wilson was on his game this time and gained 53 per cent of the vote.
    Senator-to-be Graham Maguire polled 48 per cent for Labor in 1974, Don Dunstan’s elder son Andrew got 45.4 per cent in 1980 and Sergio Ubaldi, despite rather than because of his slogan ‘U beauty, Ubaldi!’, netted 46.7 per cent in 1983.

    Otherwise, Wilson was pretty much untroubled until Young Liberal upstart Christopher Pyne, 25, usurped him in a preselection coup and scored the first of his five easy victories in 1993.

    Labor has had 23 tilts at Sturt using 19 different candidates for just two successes. Only twice has Labor chosen a woman – Ann Pengelly (43.2 per cent in 1977) and Lindsay Simmons (41.8 per cent in 2001, and now state member for the previously Liberal seat of Morialta, which is within Sturt).

    We are now told that Labor is courting a high-profile footballer, a media personality and a young and successful Italian businesswoman as its new candidate for Sturt. Good luck. The party has tried a high-profile footballer, Italians and women before without success. Maybe now, under the Rudd-Gillard dream team, the time is ripe.

  22. Sean, as far as I can determine there was no provision for those parties up for deregistration to escape it by nominating their 500 members. Rather, those with 500 members would need to be deregistered and then re-register. So PHON (DNSW) would have had to make a claim to the AEC to show they were related to a former parliamentary party. “Queensland Greens” presumably could have escaped deregistration by the same method had they (a) wished to and (b) made such a claim in time. As far as I can tell the timeframe for making such a claim was at least three months from the passage of the legislation on 22 June to the cutoff on 25 September.

    However, aren’t Senators Brown and Milne not “Tasmanian Greens” (deregistered federally 2001) but “Australian Greens”?

  23. Phil, I enjoyed your wonderful analysis of the electoral history of Sturt. A good read. I have a vague knowledge of where SA seats lay back until the 80s, but beyond that I have no idea. It was great to see more than half a century of Sturt politics laid out neatly for digestion.

    Personally I see Pyne as being untroubled by anyone, high-profile or not, he has room to take a substantial swing and the bedrock of Liberal support in the southern end of the electorate is surely immoveable.

    SA will enjoy a much more interesting 2007 election than other states, and I don’t believe my state bias is the only thing to make me say that. Kingston is the Liberal’s most marginal seat nationally, but Kym Richardson has been working hard and local labor insiders have told me he may be very hard to budge despite the aspirational outer-suburban territory he represents being hardest hit by interest rate rises and the IR fallout. The ALP have picked a candidate who polled well against Independent Bob Such MP, in the state election battle of Fisher which includes some of the northern territory of the electorate.

    In Makin Trish Draper is retiring and Bob Day is taking over. It’s not my end of the city but from talking to colleagues Bob Day is a bit of a hero in the north eastern suburbs (he built most of the houses up there) and the battle between him and local Mayor Tony Zappia (the ALP’s candidate) will be both fierce and entertaining. Impossible to predict.

    Wakefield is another seat which should be Labor held but which was squandered by the Latham debacle. David Fawcett picked it up by a few hundred votes in 2004 and like Richardson in Kingston he has worked the electorate hard. Will this count on election day? Again it is probably far too early to even be making a guess.

    The two seats wooed by Latham in 2004, Hindmarsh and Adelaide, are painfully marginal, but should both be held. Hindmarsh is by Steve Georganas by just over 100 votes and he’ll shore that margin up with a positive swing. Adelaide is harder to predict, but I expect a similar result.

    Boothby in the inner southern suburbs is one to watch. A margin of just over 5% makes Andrew Southcott look safe … but I think his margin could be cut to maybe 1%. If I were Labor I’d be focusing efforts on this electorate rather than Sturt.

    Views anyone?

  24. If there is any sort of swing on Adelaide and environs will turn the colour of Howard’s embarrased face. Adelaide, Hindmarsh, Makin, Wakefield and Kingston are all so marginal, Labor will consider them won and put all efforts into Boothby and Sturt to paint the whole town Red.

    The key will be the ability of the major parties to woo the Family First vote now running at ~6% in SA. Unlike the Greens, the FFP vote is reasonably directable, and all those juicy conservative votes will be very attractive.

    The carrot will of course be Senate preferences, which I suspect are unlikely to be harvested by FFP, as I expect the the Liberal vote will drop below three quotas, which will mean there will be little conservative leverage to propell them past an increase ALP vote. But still such a deal will be attractive to them if it breaks the ALP nexus with the Greens, depriving them of a seat.

  25. Antony: “The One Nation constitution registered in Queensland was exactly the same as the Commonwealth one, and the Acts at the time were the same. It was only invalid in Queensland because the party had a Federal Senator, not a state MP. If a party has MPs, it is fine to have a party without members, but not for parties with no MPs.”

    The party had 11 MPs ?

    Timeline (I think)
    Early 1998, QLD Election 11MPs Elected
    Late 1998 Fed Election 1 Senator Elected

    I don’t see how the situations are different ?

    On another topic, The Liberals for Forests are a bogus preference harvesting party and their de-registration is a good thing. Hopefully they stay that way.

  26. Nora, they didn’t have 11 MPs when they were registered before the 1998 election. They had 11 MPs after the election. The civil case that de-registered the party was based on the party having no MPs and not having 500 members when first registered.

  27. Ben, NSW has abolished the seperate registration for parties with MPs. All parties under the NSW Act, whether represented in parliament or not, must have 750 members.

  28. Nora, one extra time-line element. Pauline Hanson elected 1996 and forms One Nation as an already sitting MP. That’s how they got registered Federally.

  29. In talking about Sturt, I forgot to mention that the main benefit for Labor of a strong challenge to Christopher Pyne is that it may force him to concentrate on his own turf. Pyne is a strong campaigner and last time backed Simon Birmingham to the extent that he failed by just over 100 votes in what otherwise could have been a comfortable win for Labor’s Steve Georganas in Hindmarsh. Georganas and Kate Ellis in Adelaide are excellent sitting members and should have few worries. As for Boothby and the more marginal Liberal seats, more later.

  30. I think that a few people are counting their chickens a little here, remember no one can stuff up quite like the labor party. If anything we are more likely to see Hindmarsh and Adelaide go Liberal than Wakefield and Makin go Labor. The ALP should care more about losing what it has rather than wasting money on sitting members in safe seats.

  31. The NDP got two MPs elected, as far as I know, Jo Vallentine in WA in 1984 (who later co-founded the Greens WA), and a guy in NSW in 1987 in the double dissolution.

    With the Greens, WA and NSW both can claim to have both previously-elected and currently elected MPs. In the case of WA, they had Senators at a time when they weren’t part of the Australian Greens. I’m still scratching my head over how Victoria got registered.

  32. Sacha, you are referring to Robert Wood, whose election was overturned on the basis that he was a UK citizen. The vacancy was filled by Irina Dunn. Adam Carr explains: “Dunn was nominated by the NDP on the understanding that she would resign her place when Wood had become an Australian citizen and thus eligible to be appointed to the Senate. When she declined to do so, she was expelled from the NDP and sat as an Independent”.

  33. Regarding the NDP it was Robert Woods who was elected. Jo Vallentine was a member of the NDP at her election, but became an Independent soon after (following the internal disputes who the SWP are often accused of bringing on – but thats another story!). In relation to the Vic Greens, it may well be that Christine Milne has decided to be a ‘Victorian Green’ for the purposes of the registration, as Senator Brown has always called himself “an Australian Green” (and run as such). Qld Greens would have lost their registration as they have never had a Federal MP, nor could they find one who would say they were. They may or may not seek registration.

    Another party caught in this is the Tasmanian Liberal-front party ‘Brendan Rayner’s Green Liberals’ who were seeking registration last year (having 500 “members”), but now will fail the registration test. Also, the Progressive Labour Party will not be able to re-register due to their name, even if they can muster 500 members. The Republican Party I understand will seek reregistration, and as they had over 500 (but not 750) qualified members when seeking to maintain NSW registration, so should be able to manage it. Socialist Alliance should also be able to manage the 500 as well, but I don’t think ‘No GST Party’ or ‘Custodial Parents’ will bother (or get over the line in time for the next Federal election).

  34. Irina Dunn was actually a member of a party after leaving the NDP – the “Irina Dunn Environment Independents” which were registered in 1989 and deregistered in 1992. This period of electoral history (around the mid-80’s to mid 90’s) is littered with small enviro parties, some friendly to each other, some not. The list on the AEC website makes fascinating reading –

  35. Targeting Sturt certainly seems a quixotic undertaking! If South Australian Labor can deliver Kingston, Wakefield and Makin, I’m sure all in the Federal Party will consider the State Branch to have done a very good job indeed. A net contibution of three seats (provided they hold Adelaide and Hindmarsh) to the 16 needed nationally is surely all that’s expected of them and maybe they’d do best to just make sure they achieve that! Those three pick-ups would give Labor a 6-5 advantage in SA seats, surely the best they can hope for given the State’s 2PP totals for Labor over the past few decades.

    As an aside, three seats will be more than two much richer State Branches are likely to contribute. The Victorian Party might win McMillan, but it’s next two most obvious targets, Deakin and Corangamite, are hardly Labor-friendly territory. The NSW Party will have two easy-to-spot targets, Greenway and Eden-Monaro. But where to then? Page without a candidate like Harry Woods is very unlikely; Lindsay, Bennelong and Wentworth impossible given the profile of the sitting Libs, no matter how much the redistributions in the latter two might make Labor think they’ve got a chance. So for NSW Labor to contribute a third pick-up to the national total, we’re looking at Dobell, Robertson or Macquarie, all requiring swings of 6% or more. Having to also defend post-redistribution Parramatta and coming off an expensive State election, I think NSW’s contribution might make three seats in much smaller South Australia look like a real bounty!

  36. Dave B, the redistribution has put Greenway beyond doubt – Malcolm Mackerras estimates that its margin is now 11 per cent (hasn’t Louise Markus done well for herself). Macquarie is now a notional Labor seat with a margin of 0.5 per cent; conversely, Parramatta is now a notional Liberal seat with a margin of 1.1 per cent on the boundaries as originally proposed, although these were altered slightly after the consultation process. The margin in Lindsay is now 2.9 per cent – not impossible, no matter how much we all love Jackie Kelly. The table I compiled on this post might interest you, despite being based on the original proposal.

  37. Thanks William, I hadn’t seen those figures on NSW. Maybe NSW Labor can go +4!

    I live in Cowper and despite my best hopes, Labor certainly won’t be taking this seat, so it’s hard for me to imagine pick-ups in any of the seats around or below it on your list. Will be interesting to see what happens to Morris Iemma’s grip on the Central Coast state seats in March, perhaps that will give us some indication on whether Dobell, Paterson and Robertson will really be in play for Rudd.

  38. The Changes to Parramatta were almost purely cosmetic.

    It just meant the City Office Space was back in the electorate, and would have only affected a few electors (and made marginal difference to the swing).

  39. Queenslander is right. The Labor Party certainly knows how to shoot itself in the foot. And no one really expects the Rudd-Gillard electoral honeymoon to last at current levels for more than a few months. But though it’s far too early to prognosticate, it’s probably fair enough to suggest that Howard is rather more tarnished than last time and that Rudd will do better than Latham. Interest rates won’t play so well for the Liberals in 2007; climate change is a big new issue; Rudd should be attractive to Family First voters (who tipped David Cox out of Kingston in 2004 and are a strong force in Makin); our Iraq involvement is on the nose; and petrol prices may well go up again. Against that, Labor now has to contend with Liberal sitting members in Kingston and Wakefield, as well as a cleanskin Liberal candidate in Makin (where the vulnerable Trish Draper was let off lightly last time). If there’s any kind of swing on, these three seats should go to Labor – but don’t put your house on it yet.

  40. I talked to Pyne not so long ago… in northern Sturt (working/middle class), he has been experiencing a small swing towards him, while in Southern Sturt (trendy Burnside), Greens votes (“doctors wives”) have saw a small swing against him.

    The seat is takeable and Pyne’s reaction, should it fall, would be priceless.

  41. I think Family First preferences may be key to winning the next federal election. You can see in the Victorian Election all the swinging ALP voters moved to Family First before moving on to the Liberals as preferences. I’m sure some conservative churn was involved but I think half the Family First result was ex-Labor, thus the 2% 2PP.

    John Howard may stay in power on the back of disgruntled Liberals voting Family First and coming back to JH as preferences.

    When people are ready/almost ready to throw a government out, there is often a rise in third party vote as voters choose to plump for a third party, such as the DLP in 1972, Dems in 1980, 1990 and 1996. (I’m probably a bit off the mark here).

    Thus Family First preferences could be critical.

    I’m not saying FF will set the world on fire, but 6% is quite possible. The Greens may get 10% but Family First is more of a stepping-stone party of left-right transition than the Greens (ALP -> Greens, prefs -> ALP = nil effect)

    Antony: On Pauline Hanson/One Nation, thanks, I’m with you now.

  42. According to the Advertiser, figures from the 2006 state election, on federal boundaries, show Sturt with a 54.2 per cent lead for the Liberal Party. It should be remembered that 2006 was a very strong year for state Labor, which won most of the seats which make up federal Sturt.

    As the second sentence quoted here suggests, the Advertiser had it back to front.

    I’ve crunched the numbers, and it was Labor who would have won Sturt on last year’s state election figures. With somewhere between 54 and 55 per cent of the two party preferred vote.

  43. Nora,

    There was no rise in the DLP vote in 1972. The vote fell from 6.0 per cent in 1969 to 5.3 per cent in 1972 (or from 11.1 per cent in the 1970 Senate election).

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