Second thoughts

Labor’s routine late-campaign line that the result will be closer than expected has been delivered with an extra urgency in the past few days. All-conquering Kevin Rudd was enlisted to warn voters "not wake up on Sunday morning, having engaged in a protest vote, a protest vote which went wrong, with a state Liberal government elected as a result". John Watkins just told Steve Price on 2UE that he expected a swing against Labor of between 5 and 7 per cent. Their concern is understandable, as Labor faces the situation campaign managers dread the most: a universal expectation of victory for a government that deserves to lose. Some might argue that Peter Beattie performed well in similar circumstances last year, but his government was eight years old rather than 12, and had a shorter (though by no means insubstantial) list of disasters for which it could not escape responsibility. It also had a more talented leader, which makes it all the more remarkable that Morris Iemma has built an apparently successful campaign on his superiority to the alternative.

I have thus made a slight reassessment to my predictions, based on the premise that today’s opinion polls will boost the anti-Labor protest vote. The Hunter seat of Port Stephens and the new seat of Wollondilly in Sydney’s outer south-west have been moved into the Liberal column; I would also be surprised if they did not win one out of Penrith, Drummoyne, Menai and Miranda, but I rate Labor’s chances at a little over 50 per cent in each case. However, I have also been shamed into a change in the other direction by Charles Richardson of Crikey and Geoff Robinson of the South Coast (in comments), who both think it odd of me to have picked Tweed for the Nationals in an otherwise grim assessment for the Coalition. Charles notes I have tipped "Nationals in Tweed and Labor in Murray-Darling, but if incumbency is powerful enough to keep Murray-Darling Labor I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in Tweed as well, where the demographics are better". The answer is that I think Peter Black might prove popular with the new voters brought into his electorate by the redistribution, but this might be due to my cartoon-ish view of rural life. However, I am persuaded that changing demographics will be enough to give Labor’s Neville Newell a very narrow win in Tweed.

Taken together, this puts my prediction at 51 seats for Labor, 23 for the Liberals, 11 for the Nationals and six for independents.

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.

40 comments on “Second thoughts”

  1. On WorkChoices, 85% of the working population is already covered by the Federal system so whatever Debnam does is irrelevant.
    There are only 2 categories of people who are in the remnant State system who could be “handed over” to the Federal Government

    1: Those who work for a partnership or a sole trader (Not very many – maybe people working on a farm)

    2: Those who work for State Government.

    As I understand the Liberal policy was to hand over group 1. The essence of the Labor scare campaign which was brilliant was that somehow Debnam was going to hand over the 85% who are already under WorkChoices (and which the Liberals didnt refute)
    So all those people who are voting on WorkChoices tomorrow are voting on a false premise ie that there vote will actually have any impact whatsoever.

  2. You are missing the point with Port Stephens. The same Kiwi (insult deleted at the discretion of the management; Jason, this is a warning – PB) who authorised the ineffective ads and ran the poor campaign in Maitland in 2003 is doing the same job on the Liberal candidate in Port Stephens this year. While you may not see exactly the same size swing to the ALP, there will be one, none the less.

    And please stop carrying on like a bogan in reference to Newcastle, which swang Independant in 1988.

  3. 51 Labor, 34 for the Coalition and 6 independents only makes 91, and there are 93 seats in play. Or have I missed something?

  4. Edward Edward Edward

    Surely you are not being a tad deceptive, I understood the state awards still operated until a request to change to them was put or until the agreement that covered the employees expired.

    Work Choices is a big issue, which is why so many people are scared about it, which is why Debnam campaign against it.

    Tristar changed it’s employees from the state negoitiated award to an agreement under Work Choices, which is why the labor government initiated the inquiry into Tristar avoiding paying redundancy under the old state award which is why so many are worried it will hapen to them.

    As a side point Tristar at the inquiry allege Hockey, the Federal Minister encouraged them to break the law by sacking and reemploying the workers. Another Howard minister to bite the dust?

  5. Someone who thinks the past tense of swing is “swang” has no right to call anyone else a bogan.

    Edward misses the political point about Work Choices. If the great aspirational upper-working and lower-middle classes in the middle-to-outer suburbs and the regional towns, the stratum which DECIDES ALL AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS, thanks to our single-member electoral system and class-based voting pattern, have decided that Work Choices is harmful for their aspirations, for themselves and their children, then not only is Debnam dead and buried, but so is Howard.

  6. Rod B,

    you are wrong

    all state awards were transferred to workchoices on 27 march 2006, one year ago. It’s been such a bad thing for working people no one even noticed.

    tristar has been under a federal award since before workchoices.

    i hope that clears up your confusion.

  7. Well Adam,

    I accept your hypothesis but what is the proof for it? Can you suggest a objective test from tomorrow’s poll?

  8. Please accept my apologies if the common Liberal Party terminology for a particular woman who authorised campaign radio advertisements in Maitland 2003 and Port Stephens 2007 is offensive to the ALP supporters and the general public.

    She will suffer the same fate as John Ryan before 2011, so we need not talk about her again.

  9. That such a staggeringly incompetent government as Iemma’s should re-elected at all, let alone with its majority almost intact, as seems likely, cannot be attributed solely to the hopeless inadequacy of the opposition – equally hopeless oppositions have been elected before, when voters really wanted to punish a government. The real reason NSW voters are sticking with Iemma despite his appalling record is that they rightly fear that the Liberal Party wants to enslave them and their children forever and turn Australia into a nation of casualised low-wage peons, and they don’t want to give them any encouragement. Choosing between being run by the NSW transport unions and being run by David Clark and Alan Jones is indeed a hard one, but as Captain Aubrey said, we must always choose the lesser of two weevils.

  10. Definition of “Swang”

    7. Swang

    Swang – Something that is oppurtune is swang, something fortunate. An unlikely but fortunate occurence.

    Swangin’ – To be lucky or fortunate

    It was very fortunate that Keegan won Newcastle as an Independant in 1988, just swangin’.

    I fear the Green Preferences distributed through to the end, without exhausting, will put a “Kindergarten Teacher” like Jodi McOC into Parliament. Even if you oppose Gaudry and the resigned left ALP members (some whom are Proud Communists) who are backing him, you have to respect them for believing in SOMETHING. Jodi does not.

  11. Edward

    You added to the confusion.
    Why did Debnam promise to protect the nurses and teachers from Work Choices if they were already under Work Choices. Debnam specific promise was that he would not move the nurses from the state award.
    Why did Costello accuse Iemma of being deceptive in not ackowledging that Debnam had promised to keep nurses and teachers on the state award.

  12. Jason Briggs Says:

    Even if you oppose Gaudry and the resigned left ALP members (some whom are Proud Communists)

    Dont start Adam on Communists strange though that i am suppose to be one yet your party has REAL ones

  13. My Party?

    Everyone knows about the worthless political whores and deadwood Hoares in various parties, yet I am backing the Independents in this election.

  14. Don’t play word games with me, Jason. You wrote “please stop carrying on like a bogan in reference to Newcastle, which swang Independant in 1988.” You clearly used the word as the past tense of swing, not in the sense given above. As for Hoares, I think you’ll find that Kelly The will be getting the boot come October. There will be a cross-factional deal to axe her, Irwin and Hatton – no great loss any of them.

    Topic for today: Does affirmative action merely replace male logs with female logs?

  15. Would you be offended about word games involving Adam and Steve? Do the gay ALP right and left wingers do unconstitutional intercourse between the States?

    The more axes for that Hoare the better, as this Nation needs decent and mentally-sufficient elected representatives.

  16. To the OC: No.

    I am sure there are plenty of far more significant maritime incidents in Port Macquarie and Port Stephens.

    Remainder of comment deleted – PB

  17. * After 30 years of gay activism, nothing offends me, darling.
    * Whatever else Hoare might be, she isn’t a lesbian.
    * To quote a great labour leader August Bebel: “Anti-semitism is the socialism of fools.”

  18. Port Drinker Stephens obviously finds bigotry under every bed, and under every hat.

    If you dare mention beds or hats you will be automatically named a bigot.

    I miss the old days when being called a racist was thrown around with gay abandon.

  19. Rod B,

    State government employees are protected by something called the intergovernmental immunities doctrine which basically means the feds cannot regulate the working conditions of state government employees without the agreement of the state government.

    Of course even before WorkChoices many state government employees were already regulated federally ie, electricity and rail employees.

    Sorry for being a little legal at this time.

    BTW – I wouldnt have thought sexuality was the problem in the Hunter more nepotism, its kind of nice that both words have there antecedents in the ancient greek.

  20. I wanted to take the time to make some broader predictions, but last minute campaigning has meant my time is running out, so I’ll just make a few.

    In the upper house: Fred Nile will get in again, as will 8 Coalition and 9 Labor. The Greens will get two, but I believe (solely on the basis of today’s polls) that we will get two full quotas, so that some votes flow on to Ben Oquist, but not enough to give him a chance of winning, say if we get 9.5-10%. This, however, should be enough to put us in a position to contemplate winning three next time around.

    So that leaves one spot. I reckon there’s always a chance Shooters or Democrats, or the 10th Labor might have a chance, but people have made pretty good points about AAFI, and I would pick them to win the seat.

    They’ve been around for a while, they’re running in a lot of lower-house seats, and they’re near the start of the ballot paper.

  21. Can anyone think of any FM radio station that would be broadcasting results tomorrow night? I’ll be scrutineering and wanna follow it, but my MP3 doesn’t do AM. I’m sure it would be inferior to ABC or 2UE, but anything is better than nothing?

    I doubt there is.

  22. Edward

    Thanks for the reply re state awards, but why would Debnam and Costello only want to protect just the nurses and the teachers from Work Choices.
    What about the admissions staff, orderlies, interns, not to mention the police, firies, ambo’s.

    Why protect just a select few from Work Choices?

  23. I’m not far off agreeing with you, Charlie. I have now deleted one of his comments and edited two others.

    Jason: this is your last warning. One more racial or misogynist insult and you will be banned – something I have never done before.

  24. Here is a nomination. Dr Tonkin’s Liberal opposition in SA in1979. One of the very few state govts. to last only one term

  25. Well William, when people try and suppress legitimate comment and debate, and whine about misogyny, you shouldn’t be suprised when the general public eventually reacts with more active expression than words.

  26. Jason I don’t think you understand the difference between public and private space.

    I will defend people’s right to say things I find offensive in public, or their own homes. However, I reserve the right to tell them to get out of my house if they make the same comments in my living room. This site is effectively William’s lounge room and we are here as his guests – he’s entitled to kick any of us out if he doesn’t like what we have to say. If Jason or anyone else doesn’t like it they can set up their own site and try to lure some commentators across.

  27. Perhaps what Adam means is that oppositions *almost* as hopeless as Debnham’s have been elected, and Tonkin is one example – Tasmania might provide some others. However, I don’t think that post-war Australia has ever had an opposition party as pathetic as the current NSW Liberals, other than the conservative forces in QLD in the last 10 years.

  28. Stephen – Jason’s remarks also leave himself open to charges of defamation/slander among other things if i remember correctly. I would support a perma-ban.

  29. If Tonkin was so bad how come Labor only got back about half of the 1979 swing in 1982? Tonkin’s 1979 campaign along with Bracks in 1999 and Borbridge in 1995 are good examples of how an opposition can win campaigns.
    A thought on Murray-Darling, the fall in the ONP vote in 2003 means that Black’s performance was more impressive than it looks, as ONP was a big help to him in 1999. Will Iemma be attractive to the Italians in Griffith?

  30. Yeah, right Jason – “slut”, “whore” and “hook-nosed Jew” are “legitimate comment and debate”. Read what Stephen L says. This is my site, which I pay for. I also expose myself to the possibility of legal action as a result of what is published here, and I have been taken to court before, which set me back $15,000 in legal costs even though I had done nothing wrong. I am NOT curtailing your freedom of speech – you are absolutely entitled to start up your own website and talk whatever crap you like, to an audience of zero. You do not have a God-given right to barge on to my turf to broadcast to my audience, which I would never have built up if I did not demand bare minimum standards of maturity and civility which you seem to be incapable of meeting. This is the first time in the history of this site that anybody needed to be told this.

  31. Perhaps you lead a sheltered life, away from some of the real and unpleasant people actively involved in politics.

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