Macro and micro

Those who were hoping yesterday’s national accounts figures might breathe some life into a moribund New South Wales election campaign have again been disappointed. This had been looming as a red-letter event because the previous quarter’s state final demand figure had been in the negative, which if repeated would have left New South Wales in a technical state of recession. The government has dodged this bullet in fine style with a growth rate of 1.4 per cent, enough for Westpac’s Matthew Hassan to tell the Sydney Morning Herald that the state "finally looks to be shaking off its malaise". Such interest as the election has to offer thus remains at the local electorate level:

Maitland (Labor 10.3%): A poll of 300 Maitland voters in Monday’s Newcastle Herald suggests Labor is in danger of losing the seat to independent candidate Peter Blackmore. After distribution of the 11.3 per cent undecided, Blackmore was in second place with 26.7 per cent to Liberal candidate Bob Geoghegan’s 22.2 per cent, with Labor’s Frank Terenzini on 37.2 per cent. Under full preferential voting, such figures could be expected to see Blackmore overrun Labor on Liberal preferences; New South Wales’ optional preferential system makes it a closer call, because many Liberal votes will exhaust. Blackmore was the seat’s Liberal member from 1991 until 1999, when a punishing redistribution combined with a small swing to deliver it to Labor’s John Price, who is now retiring. Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday that voters were being "bombarded with testimonies", "not the least by the Liberal stalwart Milton Morris, Maitland’s longest-serving state member, who has risked party expulsion by publicly declaring support for Blackmore".

Manly (Independent 0.6% versus Liberal): Manly’s "goat lady", Penelope Wynne, has announced she will run as an independent. Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald informs us she is so called because "two goats starred in a stunt she used to draw attention to a development fight with Manly Council last year". Wynne’s disputes with council have been the subject of considerable coverage in the Manly Daily; the Herald’s Anne Davies tells us this is "often the only newspaper people read" in an area "sometimes disparaged as the insular peninsula" (a distinction it shares with Pittwater, and probably every other outcrop of land in the English-speaking world). She could thereby muddy the waters for sitting independent David Barr, who faces a stiff challenge from a strong Liberal candidate in Michael Baird.

Newcastle (Labor 15.4%): Forty members of the ALP’s Carrington branch resigned en masse on Monday, announcing their support for Bryce Gaudry’s campaign to hold the seat as an independent. The media delighted in noting that those resigning included Arthur Wade, a member of 72 years. Gaudry was turfed aside for preselection last year in favour of former newsreader Jodi McKay, at the behest of Morris Iemma and the party’s head office. Also running as an independent is the highly fancied lord mayor of Newcastle, John Tate.

Monaro (Labor 4.4%): Steven Scott of the Australian Financial Review yesterday reported that Labor strategists were "confident of retaining Monaro, particularly after the scuttling of the planned Snowy Hydro sale, which was unpopular with local communities" – and also with Labor member Steve Whan, who had been a vociferous critic. Iemma visited the electorate’s main centre of Queanbeyan on Monday for the so-called "Country Labor election campaign launch".

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.

23 comments on “Macro and micro”

  1. Even I had to feel sorry for Debnam yesterday: those economic growth figures would have been his worst nightmare. He might as well retreat back to Vaucluse, and lounge about in his speedos for the next 2 and a half weeks.

  2. Hurry along for the draw

    Nominations closed half an hour ago, the ballot draws will be made soon.

    These are worth going to, because a lot of preference trading is done on the premises immediately after.

    And, you can participate in the draw as a member of the public- they let you spin the barrel with the marbles in it. You can even do so dressed up in a dolphin suit, as the Democrats once did.

    In Manly, the draw will finally resolve the rumour that a dog was going to be nominated as a candidate.

    Get down to your Electoral Office ASAP (address at

  3. I went to the draw in Balmain, where I am the Democrats candidate. I drew top of the ticket. My mum will be so proud of me.

  4. I think the AFP is overstating Labor’s chances in Monaro – and claiming that the Snowy Hydro issue is likely to help Whan is bizarre, seeing as Whan’s reluctance to actually say much about it and contradict the party’s leadership was obvious and well-known down this way at the time.

    I’m a bit surprised that Labor isn’t playing down its chances in that seat. Whan is hardly a good local member, generally comes across as a bit of a prat whenever he’s interviewed, and is up against a well-organised campaign with a good National candidate who (from just over the border) seems to be significantly out-advertising him. Really, if any Labor seat falls to the coalition, my guess is that it will be Monaro.

  5. Edward O – why is any Democrat bothering running?? I’d be prepared to bet not even the donkey vote will help you crack 100 votes.

  6. The short answer is that the vote in a division for the upper house goes up when there is a lower house candidate. It’s the same reason the Greens or CDP (or, back in the day, One Nation) run in seats they’ve got no chances of winning – to maximise the upper house vote.

  7. Good luck Edward and all the Democrats candidates in the face of ridicule and derision from armchair experts that seem prepared to tolerate the erosion of standards and humanity in this country and do nothing about it except have cheap shots at well meaning, principled people.

  8. Paul Kavanagh, you’re a goat. How silly of you to assume that because I think the Democrats are a waste of time, that I endorse the erosion of standards in society. I have had no respect for the Democrats since they joined with the Liberals to give us the GST. They deserve to die, in fact they are a dead party and I’m astonished anyone would want to represent that carcas, however well meaning they are.
    The only party that will deliver social justice in government is the ALP, and this is something that will be reflected in the next Fed election.
    But thanks for your opinion Paul, thats what democracy is all about, I endorse your right to make a goat out of yourself.

  9. Ah Jack,

    an cacophony of bleeting Capretto! Thanks for sharing your embrace of the human condition with ALPesque hypocrisy. The DLP in Victoria have demonstrated that extinction is not for ever. All the ALP has to do is give the Democrats a little air, too.

    Its fine to bulk up a psephelogical blog with some playful partisanship. Still a little focus on the purpose of this blog from yourself, Paul, edward o and even me might be good. 🙂

    As a piece of crude pedantry; democracy is all about rule by the people. Liberty is all about opinions and the right to make a goat out of yourself.

    More on topic
    has the candidate list. Is my assumption that the order is “as drawn” correct? Or do we really need to wait till Saturday?
    I’m becoming skeptical abou the existance of much significant Donkey voting.
    I suspect that there is a little bit of “first noticed sympathetic group” voting in the LC. Are there any prognoses on the LC results from the polling at this stage/ Are any of the opinion polling companies likely to do a slightly significant LC poll?


  10. And Jack, I’m willing to take you up on your 100 votes bet. Contact the Bludger if you want my email address.

    I’m a touch skeptical about the donkey vote too, but I can tell you that the candidates who will draw significant primary votes all wanted to be higher than the others judging by their expressions. It was kind of fun.

  11. on donkey votes i think that most people who go to the effort of coming all the way down to vote at least think they may as well make a choice.

    on the gst the democrats were doing the right thing , taking the harsh edges off government legislation, thats called being a sensible centre party (and broad based flat consumption taxes are better than progressive income taxes and selective tariffs and duties)

  12. It is far easier for a third party candidate to win a so called safe seat that is notionally around 60% Then it is to win a marginal seat. The reason is simple mathematics. It a candidate can manage to attract 26% of the vote and peg back their main opponents to below 50%, negotiate good preferences with other opposing candidates chances are they will be reflected. The odds of achieving such an upset are odds on in favour of the challenging candidate in a by-election and less odds on in a full election.

    The other issue of interest is if there was to be a by-election in Queensland would the Prime-minister call a fresh election.

    Holding a federal election now would be out of the question as the federal Government are not doing so well in the polls and more time is required to sear down the “honey manners” limelight. the other factor that bears consideration in John Howard’s thinking is the Liberal Parties control of the Senate. An election before July would reduce the Liberal Party’s control of the senate by one year should the electorate seek to punish the Liberal Party and remove its mandate in the Senate. A Liberal Party pegged back to winning two seats in each state would severely impeded the liberal Parties control of the upper house in the event they lost government

  13. Disaster Boy./ I think the donkey vote is real particular where voters vote below the line or in a full preferential ballot. Analysis of the Victorian Upper house below-the-line ballot papers definitely shows a series of donkey voters. (Copies available on my web site Many vote for their nominated party of choice then proceed to allocate votes down the page. A lessor number reverse donkey vote. I estimate it to be anything between 1 to 2%. In a tight election every vote counts. Be it a donkey or an ass. The introduction of above the line voting and optional preferential voting has reduced the percentage of donkey votes in upper-house electorates but it is still prevalent in the single member electorates.

  14. The Victorian upper-house preference data shows that most people voting below the line voted one to five for the party of their choice or next came the donkey vote. The donkey vote was the highest polling vote where all boxes were filled following the registered above-the-line-ticket vote. In terms of the overall election it was not significant but in a close election every vote counts As I mentioned above in a single member electorate it is considerable.

  15. Unfortuneatly unlike the AEC (which is far more professional) the VEC scrubs the data and only published preferences that are valid. As a result it is impossible to scrutinise or analysis the informal vote. It would be far preferable if the VEC adopted the AEC approach and faithfully reproduced the recorded preferences.

  16. One of the issues that the will befall Victorian voters in the next federal Election is the confusion that might arise from voters voting below the line who will be mistaken into thinking that the rules have changed and that they no longer have to number every square (except the last square). We can expect that the number of informal votes in Victoria will go up. This is a challenge for the AEC to correct any misunderstanding that exist between the two systems.

  17. Melbcity, this is a NSW election thread, can you please keep your obsessing on the unrelated Victorian election to a minimum? Thankyou.

  18. I have a feeling that the opinion poll to be released next week along with Liberal internal party polling will reveal what most realistic people seem to be assuming; that the election loss will be devastating for the Coalition, and far worse than one would expect when faced with a tired, old government.

    My suspicions are aroused by a number of factors (including party rumblings) and the complete lack of confidence displayed by both the Opposition Leader and Deputy. I refer to the opening phrase of Peter Debnam’s Blog for Friday 9th:

    “As the election approaches, Morris Iemma and Labor are becoming increasingly cocky by the day. Just imagine what Labor will be like if they win this election – and even worse win easily.”

    Debnam is not just hinting at an election victory to the ALP, but to one that will embarrass the Liberal Party to the core. Sure, it’s fairly unfounded inductive reasoning, but I’d put my money on a result of that nature, as oppose to one that includes a swing to the Coalition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *