New South Wales election guide

The Poll Bludger’s New South Wales election guide is now operational – all 30,000 or so words of it. Virtue is of course its own reward, but if you think my labours deserve a little extra you are invited to follow the directions here. Further embellishments, like candidate photos and local issue summaries, will be added in due course. Please drop me a line if you spot any errors, particularly if they’re of a kind likely to invite ridicule. With that out of the way, I really am going to be keeping a low profile around here in the next four weeks or so; heavy duty state election coverage will commence thereafter.

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.

197 comments on “New South Wales election guide”

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  1. The official Greens line about prospects for the Vic election was:
    Win one possibly two UH seats and make a third winnable, and Melbourne was a possibility, none of the others were, except to people outside the party.

  2. Antony said…(re 1991)….The Labor Party’s confidence in the result can be revealed by the fact that they only bothered to order in two cartons of beer for head office on election night. No one was expecting a celebration. And there was certainly lots of un-drunk champagne at the Liberal function at the Intercontinental Hotel.

    Aahhh…. but 1988… now, THAT was a night to remember… in the Tally Room at least. I remember seeing a very drunk John Singleton chase a equally drunk Richard Farmer down Harris St, wielding a chair from the TR patio. Earlier in the night, Richard Farmer had threatened us (Wilderness Soc.) that he would “kick your bloody heads in”.

    They don’t have them like that any more

  3. Re Hugo’s comment

    Can anyone point out to me where a Green predicted we would win multiple lower house seats in Victoria? I want to know so I can jump on the person in question. I believe that Antony Green predicted we would win Melbourne and Richmond right at the end (after being fairly skeptical for most of the campaign) but I am talking about a Green party member, not someone Green by name.

    Throughout the campaign I said that we had some chance of winning Melbourne, but could not be considered favorites, and we were outsiders at best in the other three top seats. I heard some people overstate our chances in some upper house regions, but all the comments I heard from the party were pretty much along those lines.

  4. Without the Greens and Bob Brown, Peter Garret would never have been anointed as “hit man” or Malcolm Turnbull been able to buy the water portfolio.

    Remember the false accusations that the Greens were a “one issue” party, well how the wheels have turned. Now look at “the issue”, GLOBAL WARMING, and how the LIB/LAB are in such a panic to catch up to the Green .

    As usual the Green lead the way and LIB/LAB try to catch up. The voters are showing there support to the Green despite the presses total bias in favour of big money. See democracy4sale web site.

    So to those who say the Greens are ineffective “wake up and open your eyes” the Green have arrived long time ago, and have been setting the agenda, here and across the world, for quite some time.

    The Green are the future “you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing”

  5. Stephen L said:
    “Can anyone point out to me where a Green predicted we would win multiple lower house seats in Victoria? I want to know so I can jump on the person in question. I believe that Antony Green predicted we would win Melbourne and Richmond right at the end (after being fairly skeptical for most of the campaign) but I am talking about a Green party member, not someone Green by name.”

    If the amount of heat and light generated by Gurm Sekhon in the wake of the Steve Brown “Roundhouse-kick-a-Green Day” fiasco was anything to go by, I’d reckon he considered himself a shoo-in for Richmond (with Melbourne being a formality) up until that point.

  6. Re Greens chances in Balmain, I agree with others that we are the underdog. A well-organised Labor machine will always out-spend the Greens by a factor of ten. A Greens win will always be against the odds.

    And to avoid the debates that Stephen and Hugo are referring to, let’s be clear: no-one in the NSW Greens is predicting that we will win LH seats. We are saying that we’re in with a chance in a couple. If anyone hears bold predictions of Greens MLAs this campaign it won’t be from the Greens.

    But the assertion that we’re in with a chance in Balmain is clearly sustainable. A margin of 7 odd per cent, no incumbent member to leverage public entitlements, a Labor govt that is generally on the nose and a Greens candidate who is a high-profile, successful local councillor. All those factors are pertinent. At least until the tidal wave of Labor money crashes down on the electorate.

  7. I can do this, I suppose. “Mally” has left the following comment:

    Without the Greens and Bob Brown, Peter Garret would never have been anointed as “hit man” or Malcolm Turnbull been able to buy the water portfolio.

    Remember the false accusations that the Greens were a “one issue” party, well how the wheels have turned. Now look at “the issue”, GLOBAL WARMING, and how the LIB/LAB are in such a panic to catch up to the Green .

    As usual the Green lead the way and LIB/LAB try to catch up. The voters are showing there support to the Green despite the presses total bias in favour of big money. See democracy4sale web site.

    So to those who say the Greens are ineffective “wake up and open your eyes” the Green have arrived long time ago, and have been setting the agenda, here and across the world, for quite some time. The Green are the future “you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing”

    Oakeshott Country says:

    As Gough Whitlam allegedly said to the Victorian executive: “Yes comrades, the impotent are always pure”

  8. Alex C
    At no stage that I am aware of did Gurm think he was a shoo-in, the closest he got was talking about Richmond as a ‘winnable’ seat.
    Winnable means the Greens have a ever so sleight chance of getting over the line, as in: Richmond was more winnable then Mildura.

  9. Ben Raue – Your comments re Macq Fields are interesting. Why do you think the Party machine seems to not be helping him out? I have not seen one candidate poster or leaflet at all?

  10. Mally neatly summarises the point that the Greens habitually over-state their case. I personally feel that the Greens do serve a useful purpose, of being a conscience on the body politic and being a genuinely annoying gadfly bringing up inconvenient topics. However, to argue that the Greens are solely responsible for the emergence of the environment as a political issue (and it remains to be seen just how far people are willing to change their votes over this) is a bit much. Teddy Roosevelt, for example – a Republican no less – was showing green tendencies a century ago. The Greens have quite a history of over-dramatising their case and of over-stating their influence. This is not so surprising, as the Greens struggle to attract more than 5% of the vote in any given election, and obviously feel the need to keep themselves relevant, and “in the game”.

    The irony is that even though climate change will seemingly be a big issue at this year’s poll, I’d be surprised to see the Greens do that well in this year’s Federal poll, as both the major parties have high-profile and articulate spokesmen in the environment portfolio. As for the State election, they may well do well in certain seats (such as Balmain, Marrickville or Tweed, though I’d be genuinely surprised to see them win anything), which would only underline the inconvenient truth that they are largely a middle class, university dilettantes’ party.

  11. Dear Hugo

    I don’t know where you get your information, but to bring you up to date, the Greens easily achieve over 5% of the vote on a shoe string budget and with a hostile media, constantly telling lies about them. For example lying about Bob Browns ADOPTING a PLAN in the next 3 years to PHASE OUT COAL MINING OVER NEXT 15 YEARS. Imagine if we had a free press in Australia and the Greens got a fair coverage?

    Second point the Greens won’t “sell out” to the highest bidder, just because the current LIB/LAB practice is so corrupt doesn’t mean the Greens have to fall into that trap. Have a look at ‘democracy4sale’ web site and you can learn about who is running our country.

    Sorry , The Greens have the high moral ground but the view is good from up there. The Greens are the future Hugh weather you like it or not so why don’t you join us?

  12. I think Hugo misunderstands the nature of the Green polity. To argue that it is just about the environment really does only touch the surface. Yes, the environment is critically important, but that doesn’t mean human rights, social justice and economic wellbeing aren’t critical as well. It is just that emphasis is shifted from people being social beings living in an an economy to social beings living in an ecology. The economy then becomes a means of describing transfer between people, but does not itself take on a persona – the ‘invisible hand’ of the market is no more, but the marketplace itself remains.

    So yes, Teddy Roosevelt thought of himself as a ‘conservationist’ – his biography makes interesting reading – but he did believe that nature existed to benefit mankind. This is a fundamental difference to modern day Greens. Some commentators on the right like to make much of the fact that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, but that doesn’t make him ‘Green” either!

    The issue for me is that greens have been very effective in bringing together extra-parliamentary activity (protest, petition, blockade etc) with parliamentary action. This is led to Greens in parliament but also the acceptance of ‘green’ issues by the mainstream. The ALP has equally always had a strong social justice focus, so it is natural that on such issues Greens and ALP can agree.

    The point remains that people often have strong attachments to the politics they grew up with. As more people grow with the ‘Greens’ or with greenish sympathies, then the Greens can grow from what was a quite well-educated beginning. And I think it is education, rather than ‘class’, that it is the distinction here. The growth in tertiary education over the past 30 years HAS assisted the Greens – as much as it has assisted the ALP – electorally, and has of course assisted the country has a whole.

    As to over-dramatising their case – I remember M Latham coming down to the Illawarra (during the Cunningham byelection) and stating ‘10,000 jobs will be lost if a Green is elected in Cunningham’. Other parties too have a history of over-stating their cases, over-dramatising their position (John Howard comments on Barak Obama), so maybe its more a feature of politics, but we accept it from the major parties but not from others.

    As for winning anything, well, there’ll be good votes in Marrickville and Balmain, and quite possibly in Sydney too (I don’t think Clover is doing as well as previously), but most will be in the 5-20% mark, including the bulk of seats in western Sydney. But lets consider that ALP & Coalition parties poll 20-50% in most seats, so this isn’t so bad!

  13. I was reading in the SMH today in the “on this day” section and they were talking about the 1971 NSW election, where (from what I garnered in the brief article) the election result was close and a natural disaster (flooding, I think) prevented 25000 voters in a few seats from voting on the day and thus were delayed. Due to the closeness of the result there was no final result about which party would win the election until the supplementary election in those seats.

    I was wondering if Antony or anyone else knew more about that? It seems pretty interesting.

  14. Stewart J, you do take all the fun out of things when you reply so eloquently and reasonably. Despite earlier posts, I am not anti-Green, and indeed I find I am in agreement in many policy areas (and not only the environment), and you’re right to point out that the Green movement has had no shortage of extra-parliamentary successes. However, I can’t help feeling that the Greens will remain a fringe group (in terms of party politics) until they learn how to compromise their ideals (with the idea that half a reform is better than none), and when they do that, they will lose a lot of their appeal to some people.
    A bit damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  15. Hugo, that a arguament that goes on a lot in the party, the big issue is that the German Greens became factionised over it (idealists: remain pure, and realists: compromise) and it hurt them for a while. I dont think the Oz Greens will do any compromising until they are more established. To many voters, the Democrats were the main voice of the left, so now they are gone I think there will be more tendency to compromise.

    But then look what happened when they compromised to form government with the ALP in Tas. The ALP did a backflip on a core agreement between the parties and the Greens got blamed.

  16. Just thought I’d mention that I read in the Wentworth Courier on the weekend that John McInerney, one of Clover Moore’s Ind Councillors on the City of Sydney, is considering running in Heffron as an Independent.

    I suspect he’d have buckley’s chance in winning, but it may help build a “local” profile for the City of Sydney elections in March or September 2008. The Council area has to be split into wards, and it’s possible that John McInerney may consider running in a ward roughly in the same area as Heffron. It’s unlikely that Clover Moore’s team would win more than 1 seat in each ward if there are 3 wards each returning 3 councillors, and so he may be positioning himself to be the Clover Councillor in the south of the City of Sydney.

  17. Ben, Don Harwin has this to say in his chapter on the 1971 election in The People’s Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century NSW, bearing in mind that Labor utlimately won 45 out of 96 seats:

    As the results in polling booths were counted across the State, it became clear that the outcome of the election would be extremely close. On Monday, the newspapers were still reporting that the governnment’s return was in doubt, as counting of postal and absent voters continued. The floods delayed the finalisation of the results in four seats. On the following Saturday, polling in certain areas of the seats of Armidale, Castlereagh and Temora confirmed that these seats had been held by their sitting members, while the Country Party retained Barwon when receding flood waters enabled the election to be held on 6 March.

  18. I think it was mentioned in the federal thread, not here, but the “leaked ALP internal polling” showing the ALP trailing 49-51 in twelve marginal seats looks to me a classic case of something identified after the Queensland election – namely that leaks of internal polling usually bear at least a passing resemblance to the truth, but in such a way as to downplay the prospects of the party producing them as much as possible.

    In this case, assuming that the 12 marginal seats in question were the 6 most marginal Labor and 6 most marginal coalition seats (and leaving out ones where independents/Greens are the nearest challengers), the 2003 2PP result for those seats combined for the ALP was a little under 52%, so a 49-51 result in a poll of them would indicate a swing around 3% (or a statewide 2PP result around 53-54). On a uniform swing that would gain no seats at all.

    (An interesting sidelight on the political psyche in the two countries is that in the United States polls commissioned by parties/candidates are not taken seriously for the opposite reason – they routinely exaggerate prospects).

  19. I just finished watching a replay of the NSW debate.

    A few things struck me. Firstly, it didn’t seem to be as much of a non-debate as most recent election debates like recent federal ones. There actually seemed to be some decent to-and-fro and was decently interesting. I remember turning off the Howard-Latham debate as little more than simultaneous press conferences.

    Iemma didn’t actually seem to be above Debnam like most Premiers/PMs are over their opposition. They seemed to be truly on an equal footing. Iemma also seemed to be more desperate to attack Debnam on every point. Of course, these are all just imagery. I’m not saying what is actually an accurate representation of reality.

    I found the one point on which Iemma really knocked down Debnam, and why I reckon he won the debate, was over Debnam’s “20,000 jobs” promise, and I’d predict that this could be the big blow that will sink Debnam’s campaign. Mind you, Iemma did look silly as they argued over whether it was 18 months or 12 years that Iemma had been in government. Debnam was clearly making a lot more sense, and it didn’t seem like it did Iemma any good to try to pretend his government is completely divorced from the Carr government.

  20. It would be interesting to see what would happen if more Independents and a few Greens got up and ended up with the ballance of power then decided to try and form a minority government.

  21. My thoughts on the debate was that Debnam looked very nervous in the beginning but improved as the debate got into full motion. Iemma looked over-rehearsed and unnatural in his opening and final comments, while looking desperate to counter Debnam on everything during the debate (as Ben said above).

    I agree with Ben that Debnam’s failure was his inability to clearly explain the 20,000 job loss. I feel that it could have easily been deflected but he failed. Iemma is already pushing that issue and now Labor will see Debnam’s lack of conviction in the policy and they will go even harder now.

    Iemma was made to look very silly over the coal export to China issue when he was pushed by Dempster. Yet Debnam barely followed through with an attack. Gee, I wonder why.

    The other thing that annoyed me was the comment at the beginning by Dempster regarding the exclusion of minor parties and independents by saying, “it’s all about executive power”. I believe that this underestimates the power of minor parties and independents and further cements institutional inertia.

    Nevertheless, election debates are useful and should be encouraged if not mandated.

  22. I didn’t see the whole debate (I was watching the replay on Sky), so I didn’t hear that comment from Dempster, but I’d say it’s particularly wrong because of the heightened possibility of a hung parliament, considering how many credible independents are running, the large number already sitting, and the enormous difficulty for Debnam to win a majority.

    And I’d say that most debates I’ve seen are a waste of time, but that one wasn’t, and it’s a pity there aren’t more of them closer to the poll, and maybe with a greater audience.

  23. There are only two men who can possibly be Premier following next month’s election. That was the thrust of Dempster’s remarks, which were perfectly fair. And obvious.

  24. Excellent and v useful Bludger Bowe. As a historical footnote: You say that in Davidson the newby Adrew Humpherson suffered a historic swing not so much against him but against the Liberal Party because of a protest vote over Terry Metherell.

    This is only partly true.

    The swing would have been truly massive and possibly gone to the Independent Julie Sutton had it not been for a redistribution which took in Roseville environs, a very very safe rusted on Liberal bailiwick and excised the Houso/fibro areas of Narraweena and Beacon Hill.

    Sutton was (and remains) a local personality who was a teacher at three of the local high schools, a marriage celebrant, a long-time councillor at Warringah and Warringah mayor. She knows a lot of people and a lot of people know her. She ran for the seat in 1981, 1984 and 1988. (She’s also the sister of Jeanette McHugh the ex-federal MP (first woman MP from NSW).

  25. Interesting to read Sacha’s comments comment about John McInerney standing as an Independent in Heffron. I don’t wish to be unkind to him, but not only has he no chance there but he will have extreme difficulty in the 2008 council elections. Whilst his political naiveity may may be attractive, he must realise his election to Council in 2004 was due entirely to Clover – and the reason she had him on the team was to give her team credibility with his planning expertise. I think he now has had a taste for power, and like so many pollies start to believe its because of “themselves”- not because of other factors. The bottom line he is not a good people person – and thats what electors vote on – not on how much expertise a person has.

  26. A pretty ho-hum debate I thought – no one really got the upper hand, which I guess means Debnam won by default. However, election day is still five weeks away, and I can’t imagine that many people outside the political junkies of the type who populate sites like this are taking the slightest bit of notice at the moment. The ascent of Rudd in Canberra is probably taking a lot of oxygen from the campaign, and that will probably help Iemma. Let’s also not forget that the NRL starts the weekend before the election, and that will also eat up a lot of media (and probably interest a lot more people).

    However, I can’t help thinking that this election is ripe for a “protest vote gone wrong” (such as in NSW 1991, Qld 1995 & Vic 1999). The margins are such that Labor should be returned, but I suspect they’re going to have a bit of a fright on election night.

  27. It’s interesting to note that some commentators are simultaneously saying that Debnam can’t win because the swings required are so big, while simultaneously arguing that Rudd CAN win DESPITE the big swings required. In fact Rudd’s task is in the same order of difficulty as Debnam’s – the overall swing required isn’t as high, but the 16 seats he needs are scattered all over the country – but Rudd has most of the intelligentsia-commentariat urging him on, while Debnam does not.

  28. Adam, I’d have to agree with Gary Bruce. Rudd requires a swing of 3.3% to govern in his own right. Debnam, meanwhile, will need a swing in the order of 10% and more.

  29. I also agree with Hugo’s comments. The fact that Iemma is the favourite to win will no doubt assist in a larger than average protest vote. My guess is that Labor will sneak in with a bare majority of the 2PP but there seat buffer will only be slightly reduced, 5 seats perhaps?

  30. Adam may have the math wrong (thank you Gary Bruce for pointing out the obvious) but the thrust of Adam’s comment has some merit and should not be dismissed so easily by Labor well wishers.

  31. David, without wanting to sound a smart alec about this can you explain to me the “some merit” in what Alex said. They are really two very different situations in issues, numbers and political landscape. Debnam’s task is much tougher than Rudd’s given these factors.

  32. Gary, I do not think you are a smart alec and I thank you for inviting me to expand on my view. Yes, of course Debnam’s task is tougher than Rudd’s because of the “numbers”. However, relative to Federal politics, I would not say that Debnam’s task is “much tougher” than Rudd’s because of the “issues” and the “political landscape”. On those matters, the State government is as vulnerable if not more so than the Federal Government. I deliberately qualified my opinion on the “merit” of Adam’s view with the word “some”, in recognition that commentators and/or partisan supporters of one side of politics, are apt to write off too easily the chances of any opposition (including an opposition led by Kevin Rudd). It is quite possible Debnam might win in spite of himself, and because of the inadequacies of the incumbent government and the man who leads it. To put it another way, there may yet be a nasty surprise for Morrie if enough of the “low invovement” voters (who ultimately decide the contest), with blunt pencil in hand, think “enough is enough” at the various polling stations around (our once prosperous) State on Saturday, 24 March. That is a scenario many of Labor’s barrackers in the commentariat and elsewhere do not seem willing to entertain.

  33. Thanks David – let me expand on my contention that “Debnam’s task is much tougher than Rudd’s given these factors”. My understanding, and I may be corrected here by those who are better informed on these matters, is that the Liberals have to win more than 50 percent of the vote to win government in NSW. That is that there is a slight gerrymander favouring the government. This doesn’t apply Federally. Secondly up to this point in recent times I have not seen an opinion poll placing the Liberals in front of the ALP in NSW. This doesn’t apply to the ALP Federally.
    Thirdly, Debnam is as popular as the well known in a swimming pool. Certainy Iemma has the advantage here. Again Rudd has the advantage over Howard right now. Lastly, from what I have observed from Victoria, the ALP has some scare campaigns in there kick. I admit the opposition have some pretty good ammunition but, I’ll tell one thing, nothing beats a good scare campaign as Howard can attest to last election with his interest rates campaign.
    I assume you are a conservative supporter, which is your right of course but let’s not over look the facts and figures when hoping for the outcome you seek. Debnam may win but it would be a bigger surprise to me, given the reasons stated above than if Rudd won the Federal election.

  34. And to add to other thoughts… the mood is different to that found in NSW in 2003. I’m not sure exactly how different it is, but it is definately different.

  35. I clearly said that Debnam’s task was statistically harder than Rudd’s. And Psephophile, the 2-party swing Rudd needs is 4.8%, not 3.3%.

  36. Gary, I am not a “conservative supporter” and I have no hopes of an outcome favouring the Liberal party. Thank you for telling me about facts and figures but I can’t help thinking you are stating matters of opinion as truths. You are in good company! Cheers for now.

  37. David, please tell me where I’m wrong. I’ll certainly be happy to change my mind if you can convince me otherwise. I’m very open to debate.

  38. I apologise David if I have misrepresented your position regarding your political leanings, that certainly wasn’t my intention but you seem to have a strong feelings against those stating their opinions here. This is afterall a blog dedicated to discussing ones opinions.

  39. I’ve looked at Malcom Mackerras’ lower house
    predictions in the Australian
    they suggest a swing against labor of in excess of 5% , However the
    upper house predictions are indicating labor plus green vote approx
    4-5 % higher than lib-np plus call to Australia(Mr Nile) this suggests
    a 1-2 % swing against Labor. These 2 sets of figures do not add up.
    Also it is possible that NONE of his predicted seat changes may occur.

  40. Mackerras was SPECULATING that if Labor got a swing of 3.3% and won 14 seats, then the three independents would support a minorty Labor government. Well, they might, but they might not. To win 16 seats and form a majority government Labor needs 4.8%.

  41. First a question: Can anyone remember a union advertising directly during a campaign? I can’t but that does not mean a great deal. The reason for the question is the NSW Nurses Federation ad. Has anyone else seen it? It’s dynamite – if this is a trial run for the Federal election – we are in for an emotional time.

    Second a comment: Despite the above I am left with the impression of election, what election. Rudd and Howard seem to be the only game in town and at the moment that has to be in Iemma’s favour. I don’t know if this will change- not only is the weekend before the start of the NRL but there will also be major celebrations for the 75th aniversary of the bridge. Arguably the one thing Sydney people get emotional about – expect to see the ghost of Jack Lang.

    Third a request: The argument about whether the Greens will or won’t seems to be degenerating and despite being a fairl minor side show is taking up more than 50% of this excellent site. Could it be hived off into a new thread?

  42. Is anyone willing to write off any Labor Seats?
    Let’s take Miranda – waterfront suburbs, traditional liberal seat last held for the ALP by Michael Egan – surely the rusted on liberal vote is going to come home this election? I would think the ALP will win but it seems unlikely seats like Miranda could realistically stay with the ALP?
    I would also nominate Ryde and Strathfield as seats to watch – were up until the last 2 elections seats with a liberal bias, unlikely to go to the coalition but i would anticipate big anti-government swings nonetheless setting them up to be the must win marginals of 2011.

  43. oakeshott being in Victoria I haven’t seen the ad to which you refer but wait until the Federal election and the unions get going there and they will believe me. It will be the mother of all scare campaigns. I hope the ALP run with the anti IR theme in NSW. I want to see if it has the effect on the poll I believe it is capable of. As for the Green argument I’m with you.

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