Peel by-election live

Sunday 3pm. Some perspective on this remarkable result. The table below shows the primary vote swing to the incumbent and opposition party and the two-party swing to (or, in this case alone, against) the opposition, at each comparable by-election going back as far as I could find. This is limited to instances where the major parties dominated both the by-election and the preceding general election, and excludes by-elections involving first term governments and those held in the immediate aftermath of general elections.

INC OPP 2PP
Peel, WA (3/2/07) -4.5 -4.8 -1.0
Gaven, Qld (1/4/06) -10.6 3.8 8.4
Victoria Park, WA (11/3/06) -7.9 3.2 4.8
Macquarie Fields, NSW (22/9/05) -13.2 9.9 12.4
Redcliffe, Qld (20/8/05) -10.5 5.6 8.3
Chatsworth, Qld (20/8/05) -13.8 13.3 13.9
Auburn, NSW (8/9/01) -12.9 2.6 11.1
Aston, Federal (14/8/01) -7.7 -1.5 3.7
Ryan, Federal (17/3/01) -7.2 8.4 9.7
Mitcham, Vic (13/12/97) -22.9 5.8 15.8
Parramatta, NSW (27/8/94) -11.0 10.6 9.5

POST-MATCH OVERVIEW. Like every by-election result, this one will open a torrent of speculation about federal implications, leadership implications and all the rest. This time, believe the hype. Today’s by-election was held almost exactly in the middle of the government’s second term, against the backdrop of a sitting member retiring in disgrace and a government that had every reason to fear a backlash. For the Liberals to lose more than one in six of their voters under these circumstances is an extraordinary result, for which nobody can escape blame.

The Prime Minister might claim that the result has no federal implications, as he has routinely done on the morning after each state election disaster. Most of the time he has been right; this time, it’s very hard to construct an explanation that doesn’t involve industrial relations policies and interest rate hikes. Peel may be a safe Labor seat, but it’s also an outer metropolitan electorate dotted with new suburbs rich with wage-earners and mortgage payers, so it scores high on most indicators of federal electoral sensitivity.

Closer to home, the result is an even bigger disaster for the state Liberal Party, and in particular for leader Paul Omodei. The Poll Bludger normally gets exasperated when parties (usually state Liberal parties) go through leaders like tissues, but this time the verdict is clear: Omodei is an electoral dud and must go before the next election. Expect to hear a lot of talk in the coming weeks about alternative leadership scenarios, such as the plan for Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Langoulant to parachute in by replacing Colin Barnett as member for Cottesloe.

As for the other parties, Labor should be feeling very pleased with its candidate selection procedures. The Greens have had a good result, though this is partly an indictment of the Liberals’ clear failure to win the confidence of disaffected Labor voters. Similarly, the doubling of the One Nation vote is unlikely to be the harbinger of a new wave of Hansonism. The Liberals can at least claim that 5.0 per cent of their vote went to pro-Liberal independent Gerard Kettle. But they were also spared opposition this time from Family First, whose 3.3 per cent vote in 2005 was not significantly harvested by the Christian Democratic Party.

. Primary Swing 2PP Swing
LABOR 50.5 -4.5 64.5 1.0
LIBERAL 24.2 -4.8 35.5 -1.0
Greens 9.1 2.7
CDP 4.0 0.2
One Nation 4.3 2.1
CEC 0.8
Kettle 5.0
Woodward 2.2 COUNTED: 79%

9.20pm. It’s actually worse for the Liberals than I thought. Turns out there WERE two-party results coming through, but they could only viewed in aggregate, not booth-by-booth. This count is more-or-less complete for this evening, and it shows a 1.0 per cent swing to Labor. Table now amended.

8.23pm. I guess the Liberals can say they had pro-Liberal independent Gerard Kettle to contend with this time, draining 5.0 per cent of the vote. The only independent in 2005 polled 0.4 per cent. However, there was Family First last time, who scored a pretty solid 3.3 per cent, which has not been absorbed by the CDP.

8.19pm. Did I say absent votes still to come? Silly me. You don’t get those at by-elections. That mitigates the high turnout a little, but only slightly – it’s nearly level with 2005, compared with a sharp plunge at the Victoria Park by-election.

8.18pm. I expect the two-party count will also come in as a flood, probably in about half an hour.

8.17pm. The trend on turnout was also maintained. Comparing like with like, we’ve got 22,082 today compared with 21,576 in 2005. That would have helped Labor a lot.

8.12pm. No mention of the by-election on the ABC radio news just now. I reckon they’ve missed a pretty big story.

8.09pm. Still to come: absent votes (about 2000 to 2500) and the actual two-party count. The above figures are based entirely on my own assumption as to where the minor party vote will go. BTW, the CDP and Gerard Kettle had Liberal ahead of Labor; Greens the other way around; others no recommendation, except the CEC for whom I couldn’t find an HTV card.

8.07pm. Matter of fact, all the remaining booth results came in at once. Way to kill the suspense, WAEC! It very much appears that the trend in the first batch of booths was borne out in the remainder – both parties down 6 to 7 per cent on the primary vote, translating into a very small swing after preferences.

8.06pm. Big flood of results in. Stay tuned.

8.04pm. Still nothing. Turnout so far is 5331 compared with 4952 from equivalent booths in 2005, a remarkable turn-around on last year’s Victoria Park by-election.

7.55pm. It’s also possible that my preference calculations flatter Labor a little, but nonetheless it’s a very encouraging two-party result for Labor. Unless these booths are aberrant, the remarkable feature of the count is that the Liberals seem to be shedding votes to minor parties and independents.

7.54pm. Still no more results, but my table now compares primary vote figures booth by booth. So Labor only appeared to be holding equal on primary votes because they were Labor booths coming in.

7.44pm. Apologies for those whose comments were in moderation. I’ll turn it off.

7.42pm. The count proceeds at a leisurely pace. We’ll probably get hit with seven booths at once in a few minutes.

7.38pm. None of these booths are from the Liberal-friendly southern end of the electorate, which might explain their poor performance on the primary vote. Remember, the swing figure above for the primary vote is compared with the overall total, whereas two-party only compares like booths.

7.31pm. Turnout actually appears to be up, which is a plus for Labor.

7.29pm. These results are so good for Labor I’m checking my spreadsheet for errors, but it all appears to check out.

7.25pm. Five booths now in, including tiny Special Institutions. Apologies for two-party glitch – working on it.

7.18pm. Reckon I’ve finally got my act together now. So yeah, pre-polls and postals actually accounted for 8 per cent in 2005. Perhaps Labor are doing better than expected here because they organised better this time, the seat not being a foregone conclusion.

7.04pm. I should stress that this is 3 or 4 per cent of the vote. Working on something to show the amount counted.

7.02pm. Pre-polls now in; table updated.

6.53pm. In case you’re wondering, only the two-party result is measured against comparable booths. The One Nation vote on postals is actually only up 2.9 per cent, if that comforts you.

6.50pm. That’s better. By the way, booth figures tend to come in three or four big spurts over the next 45 minutes or so.

6.48pm. There’s a problem with my non-Labor primary swing figures, obviously. Working on it.

6.38pm. Unusually, postal votes are in first. They’ve gone 45.5 per cent Labor, 28.5 per cent Liberal. By my reckoning that’s a 6.3 per cent two-party swing to the Liberals on 2005, although postals might behave differently at by-elections

6.26pm Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Peel by-election. No results yet, which is good because I still have work to do on my tables and such.

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.

47 comments on “Peel by-election live”

  1. McCARTHY – CEC 10 1.53%
    WOODWARD – IND 21 3.22%
    TREMAIN – CDP 11 1.68%
    KETTLE – IND 42 6.43%
    PAPALIA – ALP 297 45.48%
    BRADSHAW – ONP 40 6.13%
    JECKS – GRN 46 7.04%
    COLEMAN – LIB 186 28.48%

  2. I don’t know the seat of Peel so I’m guessing its an old blue coller ALP seat, if so would there be any federal implications or qwas this totally state based.

  3. Peel’s a funny seat. Not much of a ‘community of interest’ between Leda/Golden Bay/Warnbro but I suppose the boundary planners didn’t have much choice given the growth in Rockingham.

    Expect major changes come one-vote one value redistribution?

  4. I would have thought that Federally the most you could read into this is that Burkie and his mates are likely to be a complete non-event by the time a Federal election comes around. Of course, Labor would be overjoyed about that. Given this shows a very small swing against a sitting ALP government in an electorate vacated by a Minister who was up to his ears in dodgy behaviour.

    On one-vote-one-value, surely that would just about require a complete redrawing of electoral boundaries in WA? It’s a fairly massive change in seat distribution. Certainly it would logically be feasible to join the southern areas of this seat with bits of northern Mandurah to create a more viable community of interest, though I’d guess the Leg. Council regions might interfere with that.

  5. Or perhaps they all woke up this morning, read the paper and decided to vote on climate change.

    If labor can’t hold Brand there’s no way they can win the next federal election.

  6. Hi William,

    Given that you have agreed with the description of the electorate of Peel as “an old blue coller ALP seat” will you please, at your convenience, elaborate a little on what you see as the federal implications?

  7. No surprises in that result. The “news” is that the Liberals failed to make headway. It’s a real kick in the head for Omodei, whatever the spin they try to put on it.

  8. Am I right that WA still doesn’t have public funding? If it does I guess One Nation and CDP will be pretty happy with the way they squeaked over 4%

    Otherwise One Nation will be happy at doubling their vote, but the CDP might have expected to pick up more of Family First’s vote. Maybe it went to Kettle.

  9. I’ve just had a look at the preference distribution from 2005. When Family First were eliminated 31% of their preferences went to the Greens!

    Obviously a chunk of this had to do with the established trend of people giving their preferences to candidates who are nearby on the ballot, but it’s still a pretty amazing proportion given the hostility between the two parties (you can be sure their HTV card didn’t come to us) and the fact the CDP were still in the race.

    Goes to show the idea that Family First voters are highly directable and all follow the card is rubbish.

  10. According to the WAEC’s notional preference distribution, the ALP have 64.5% of the vote, which would be a 2PP swing to Labor of 1%. Certainly that would be an unexpected result.

  11. Or you could read into it the Federal implication that voters in WA are loving the resource boom and aren’t about to change horses when their house prices and wages are climbing rapidly.

    Is this a vote for Labor – or a vote for incumbency?

  12. I don’t see a Federal implication except for the coming by-election, which I expect Labor to win comfortably.

    The general election is a different matter and will be fought on Howard’s record, the Liberal succession, AWAs, etc.

    The State Liberals are failing to capture public support. That’s the clear message of this result.

    Bring back Birney?

  13. William, I just read your overview, spot on.

    The State Libs are destined for destruction unless there’s a complete overhaul.

    Oppositions traditionally poll well in by-elections. Add the controversial circumstances which caused the by-election and you would have thought the Libs were a chance of winning this seat.

  14. The WA Liberal Party have no-one to lead them, they wouldn’t risk it by bringing back Birney, he’s damaged goods, Troy Buswell is closely linked to Canal Rocks via his role as Mayor of Busselton, so he’s not in the equation either.

    Plus with the WA Nationals not being in coalition with the libs either in Opposition, or Govt, and the way the redistributions will be drawn (Birney’s seat of Kalgoorlie will go, as will Omodei’s seat of Warren-Blackwood, methinks the Libs in WA will be in opposition for a VERY long time (despite what The West would want you to believe) ­čÖé

  15. I feel the WA economy didn’t really start to roar ahead until the last couple of years, but I’m not confident enough to argue the point.

  16. Labor should be doing cartwheels over this result. In fact, I reckon they would have been doing them if they could keep a swing against them to below 5% let alone one to them.

  17. I’ll disclose that I’m the editor of the Kalgoorlie Miner. I’m interested in William’s prediction that John Langoulant might be drafted into the Liberal Party. I hadn’t heard that one before! Interesting.

    Frank, Birney will win a redistributed seat in the Goldfields if he decides to stand. Daylight savings hasn’t helped him though.

  18. According to the 2006-07 WA Budget, Gross State Product grew just 2.7% in 2004-5, 4.75% (estimated) in 2005-6, and projected to grow at 5.25% in 2006-7.

    Perth house prices surged a whopping 46% in the year to September 2006 as well.

    I think my hypothesis is at least arguable.

  19. Yep, great result for the Carpenter government. No one predicted this. (You’ll find my own expectations in this thread.)

    Waiting three months to stage the by-election – ensuring the controversy that triggered the by-election died down – has proven to be a masterstroke.

    Interesting analysis there William. It’s hard to recall you being so forthright on political (as opposed to electoral) matters. Were Omodei to be dumped it would mark the third change of leadership in the WA Liberal Party since the 2005 election. Not unheard of in Western Australia I suppose. Labor went from Lawrence to Taylor to McGinty to Gallop between the 1993 and 1996 state elections.

  20. Leopold, I have to confess to being slightly surprised that GSP growth was as low as that in 2004-5: there’s a graph here that suggests that year was an aberration. Though I will grant you that your numbers are something to think about.

    Michael, I wouldn’t quite grant it the status of a “prediction”. On November 25, Amanda O’Brien of The Australian reported:

    FORMER West Australian Liberal leader Colin Barnett could leave politics within months, paving the way for a new leader to be parachuted into the party.

    Senior Liberal strategists are manoeuvring to attract high-profile business leader John Langoulant, saying he could potentially lead the party to the next state election, due in 2009.

    With a by-election due on February 3 for the seat of Peel, held by sacked small business minister Norm Marlborough, they said Mr Barnett should reveal his hand immediately so a by-election for his blue-ribbon seat of Cottesloe could be held at the same time.

    Though obviously that didn’t happen.

  21. I am seeing it but I am definitely not believing it!
    Who would have thunk such a thing would happen??? Not me, that’s for sure.
    I was expecting something in the vicinity of a 5-6% swing to Lib – not a swing to ALP…
    Of course, I’m not ‘on the ground’ in Peel as it were.
    This will be devastating news to the Libs – don’t think that Omodei should be too badly hurt by it personally but it will definitely give some serious cause for reflection.
    As for federal implications I see virtually none. I didn’t hear any important federal issues making an impact in the campaign and a safe State Labor seat in a moderately safe Federal Labor seat showing virtually no change… how does that translate into big Federal impact?
    The Federal Election probably should be fought on IR grounds – I can’t see too many of the newly wealthy wanting to give up their AWAs. I’d only be guessing but I’d say that Peel would have more than its fair share of people on workplace agreements…
    However, although I don’t think its a result of this poll I do see a much closer race this time around for the Feds than the last couple.
    On the State level however I think that there clearly needs to be some real soul-searching done.
    I saw Michael’s comments re: a by-election. It sounded like he was talking about Brand? I understood Kimbo was staying until the general…
    If the Libs couldn’t make ANY inroads after what the good people of Peel have been through they need to take a good hard look at themselves.
    As for the impact of one-vote one-value, that’ll be a beauty! I have been hanging out for the new boundaries for ages!
    Oh, as for parachuting John Langoulant into Cottesloe; first, they’ll have to get rid of Colin first. Might be harder than some think. Although his canal plan sounded pretty wild at the last election it may still turn out to have been genius given the current water problems. Secondly, Colin was chief economist at the CCI (if memory serves) before he won the seat. That’s setting up a bit of a legacy for the CCI in Cottesloe. Oh, and my preference if talking about succession in Cottesloe is to see someone a bit younger and with real leadership potential. I really think that the Libs need to be putting serious leadership contenders into their blue-ribbon seats. They’ve got too many time-servers filling prime real-estate!
    I think that’s it. Will be very interested to see the final numbers in Peel.

  22. Thanks William.

    As to the rising house prices, their electoral benefit should be offset by rising rents.

    I can’t find a way to explain this result for the Libs.

  23. Surprisingly, the turnout was *a lot* higher than the VP byelection as well (close to 20% more), so this appears genuinely reflective of what people think in the area.

    The Liberals have been missing in action since the 2005 election. For three months or more their website didn’t even work. Rumours circulate about their parlous financial state. If we are to have a credible opposition in this state, something needs to change, and soon.

  24. When will the one-vote one-value legislation be implemented? I thought that there were still problems getting it through parliament…

  25. re: Josh – 1v1v legislation passed alright – the timetable was set for half way through the term or redistributions – so one is due this half of 2007 – the WAEC site has the info – http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/frames.asp?section=electorate&content=landing.asp

    As to Leopold and economy, this largely depends on whether the benefit is spread evenly. A lot of WA people I know aren’t seeing much benefit from the resources boom, and are being hurt by the property rises (as prospective buyers and renters). While people often feel pleased that they have a valuable property if they can’t sell and buy another its an unrealisable asset, so they are in fact no better off. Most of my friends don’t earn enough to be able to sell and buy again at present (where they might have considered it a 5-8 years ago). So, if you haven’t already bought, or have property but not a really well paying job, its no benefit.

    re Omodei as Lib Leader – he is a dud. Although the canal plan was silly, Barnett was a better leader for an increasingly urbanised Liberal Party. With 1v1v the Libs will win or lose elections in the metro area, and might even be able to form Govt without the Nats (a long term hope I would suggest?!). Given that he is on the nose however, the next generation of Lib leaders will need to be found soon to prevent long term Opposition…

    As for the Greens – increasing their vote by 1/3 is good, but will it translate next election to winning back the Leg Council seat (with new boundaries & quota) lost in South Metro?

  26. Woooohoooooooooooooooooo

    I’m not sure if or how strongly this fantastic result depicts a electoral current that will flow into Federal waters, but the whole wealth boom analysis I think is a bit shaky. Around Australia and in WA talk is more often of post-boom, surviving the slow-down etc etc. Doesn’t matter if this is real or not if people are ‘over’ the boom and don’t feel they’ve got what they deserve out of the boom then they’ll be looking to take it out on someone.

    Will be interesting to see how those with access to internal polling shape the Federal Election and very interesting that so far Howard is trying to make it about the States and water and education. The latest global warming wave wouldn’t have pleased him as it highlights how negligent the Government has been with the environment. Surely too that education and water has been an issue for the whole and at least half of Howard’s term respectively would seem to be a weakness for Howards ‘man of vision of Australia without States’.

  27. Laborites have been reading federal implications into state ALP victories since the Qld Hanson election in 1998. Likewise over-optimistic conservative commentators have read state implications into the federal Libs performance, especially in outer suburban areas. Yet the evidence suggests that there’s very little correlation between one and the other. How else can you explain the fact that the Coalition holds many federal seats comfortably, with corresponding state seats that have double-digit Labor margins?

    I think the federal opposition reads far too much into state election results, and vice versa. I think oppositions at both levels have become complacent by anticipating electoral trends that aren’t really there, and unfortunately for federal Labor, this result will probably be no different.

  28. It’s always hard to tell if an increase in Green vote in by-elections is a genuine enthusiasm for Greens policies or a symbolic protest vote – a pox on bothl your houses, sort of thing. In Pittwater we saw the opposite, our vote roughly halved by a high-profile Independent, who provided a protest vote and an opportunity to change the seat. A 1-Green 2-Indie would have had the same outcome, but nonetheless there it is.

    I’d say there has been a general upswing in Green fortunes of late, despite shrill noises from the Oz about our days being numbered because Rudd Labor was in their view leading the charge in terms of social and environmental policy. They’re doing well but not that well. Now that the fuss has died down, our vote has increased in state polls and plateaued or dropped 1 or 2 points federally depending on which poll you look at/like the most.

    Currently there is a general feeling in state politics (particularly here in NSW) that both major parties are terrible, and voters are looking for the alternative. The Greens are capitalising on some of this, though I would hasten to add that we don’t pick up all the protest vote. Hopefully our standing in the polls will increase in the leadup to March 24!

    In Peel-specific terms, though, I’m going to read the swing to the Greens as 3/4 genuine 1/4 protest. The independent, ONP and CDP took most of the protest vote, i would say, and i think that a rebound of 1-2% for the Gs sounds about right for the current climate in WA.

  29. Great result for Labor, although I don’t think that the Carpenter Government should be patting itself on the back. The way I see it, the electorate responded to the economic issues, primarily the rising interest rites, and the bizarre property prices. The IR laws are also starting to bite in what is primarily a manufacturing and primary industry electorate, in a mortgage-belt area. While the state ALP will clearly benefit from this result, I think they need to work very hard before the next state election and should not relax just because Peel came their way. The Federal Libs should be very worried indeed.

  30. The by-election result actually points toward a good federal coalition performance in the forthcoming federal election. A state Labor government bedeviled with scandal, managed to preform as well in a by-election as it did at the previous state election. Reflects how satisfied voters especially in mortgage belt feel towards their state and federal governments regard of party.

  31. Hi I think the main reason the libs lost is they never got out there to the people like labor did, libs had no adds were we never even seen the lib canadate I think that has a lot why they never won at all .I live in Peel and what was the lib name we were never told not like labor so its not all the bull like (Reflects how satisfied voters especially in mortgage belt feel towards their state and federal governments regard of party.) They always get that old saying out maybe if the libs did there job and not sat on there hands we might of had a real race and not this farce sham libs sham….

  32. Tristan
    I don’t think the result means a good result for the Federal Govt.
    Voters will change if they are disatisfied, the Qld, Vic and S.A. results show this. However to really grab the swinging voters there has to be a suitable alternative. The Libs at state level have not put themselves forward as viable leaders and IR is a bigger issue than many think. IR may not be affecting too many at the moment but many look at Tristar and worry if they will be next. Tristars behaviour is business at its most greedy and most cynical , but all perfectly legal under IR.
    Howard has stayed in due to a weak opposition, only the true believers could have voted for Latham and Beazely was so hopelessly outmanauvered by Howard that he and the voters did not know what he and labour stood for.
    Rudd offers a stable steady alternative, not a Latham or a Beazely, but also someone who will act on IR.
    One last point the IR proposed by Rudd does not mean workers on AWAs will suffer a wage drop, employers have always been able to and have paid above the award wage.

  33. House prices in Perth have gone up 136 per cent over the past four years – the 46 per cent of the past year is incredible, but Perth has been climbing high for some time.
    Says something about the importance of incumbency, that’s for sure. But if house prices started to fall, or even stop climbing, over the next six months – which the RBA would be hoping – then that may be a problem for the Federal Government in WA.

  34. The Liberal person, isn’t reflective of our community. The candidate did little to convince me to vote for Liberal. He whinged and whined about things, but nothing gave me a policy decision that said – Yep I will fight tooth and nail to oppose the 2nd Desalination Plant, I will deal with the problems besetting the working class regions in the Peel electorate, family break ups, lack of police recources and generally more economic benefit to the poor. This is a labor seat, and we got a conservative Liberal leader.

    If he had said, I will fight for stamp duty for first home buyers to be wiped out, that he will put extra police officers and pledge to fight the Carpenter Government to put a Train Station at Karnup and a Police Station for the Southern Suburbs of Rockingham (and in the area of the metropolitan area’s greatest growth).

    He did none of this, he stood up and said I will fight passionately to have tough sentences for vandalism.

    Sorry Liberal Party, harsher sentences has not proved to be effective in fighting crime across the world, which this ludicrous policy was the reason I put you last on my how to vote card.

    Get real Peel Candidates
    Get real Peel Policies.

    Not about getting harsher penalties and making Peel a conservative paradise, which it is nothing like…despite the growing wealth of the region.

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