Photo finish: Macarthur

With Liberal member Pat Farmer now 723 votes ahead, this post will not be further updated. Results below are not final. For up-to-date results visit the Virtual Tally Room site.

2007 2004
Booths 31,694
Pre-Poll 2,162
Absent 1,985
Postal 800
Provisional 262
Total 33,856
ALP (adjusted) 49.6
LIB (adjusted) 50.4

Saturday evening. This post will be used to follow the final stages of the count in Macarthur, where at the close of election night counting the ABC computer has Liberal incumbent Pat Farmer 0.1 per cent ahead of Labor candidate Nick Bleasdale. On raw figures from the AEC Farmer is 0.2 per cent ahead.

Sunday evening. 1641 out of what should be more than 4000 pre-poll votes have been counted, and they have increased Farmer’s lead from 225 to 320. So far this is a different pattern to 2004, when pre-polls produced around the same swing as the booths. I don’t have a table for this seat because the redistribution creates difficulties with non-booth votes, but I’ll cobble something together in due course.

Monday 9pm. No new figures available, but I’ve added a table which includes cobbled-together post-redistribution estimates of non-booth vote figures from 2004. Comparing votes counted so far with comparable figures from last time, the Labor swing is falling 0.3 per cent short (little different from the raw figure, for all that effort).

Tuesday 5pm. The addition of 1027 more pre-polls has boosted Farmer’s lead by 185 votes.

Tuesday 11pm. Labor has recovered 35 votes through the addition of a further 513 pre-polls.

Wednesday 11pm. A further 2034 pre-polls have favoured Farmer by 98 votes.

Thursday 4pm. A batch of absent votes has widened the gap to 723 votes, which is good enough for me. There will be no further coverage on this post.

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.

45 comments on “Photo finish: Macarthur”

  1. Looks like we’ll fall just short this time, but boy oh boy did Labor give Pat a fright. Shame, but I suppose Rudd will have some seats to aim for next time. Pencil this one in.

  2. I live in Macarthur. I was expecting the ALP to win the election with around 90 seats but thought the Libs would still retain Macarthur. The ALP did very well here, better than a lot of people expected. I think Farmer will win marginally on postals but this was a very large swing to the ALP.

  3. Hey all,

    I’m really pumped at the figures in Macarthur, Nick worked hard and really earn’t this mega-swing.

    A tip to consider: a stuff-up by a polling clerk at Rosemeadow (a public housing area and thus strong Labor) meant all the votes he issued at one table from 8am to 10am (roughly – I don’t know the exact detils) were invalid – he forgot to initial all of those ballots. I estimate a couple of hundreds would have been cast during that time.

    I don’t know whether it’s possible to look at the numbers in a close race and put them back in the count, but if that isn’t I’d expect a very narrow Liberal win would see the seat go to the Court of Disputed Returns and a possible by-election.

  4. I am a fellow Macarthur resident and was very disappointed that the ALP didn’t get over the line (well yet anyway) once I saw that it was close, but before yesterday I didn’t expect it to be this close.

    I don’t know if everyone has read this on Pat Farmer’s response to the results but they are in an article here. How out of touch and arrogant can one man be? He’s basically scathing of the electorate for being ungrateful for even THINKING of voting him out.

  5. Well done on your result Ben, I thought that was decent vote for a Green in a seat like Macarthur (although I didn’t vote for you….voted for Bleasdale…).

    I didn’t know about that stuff up but it definitely could influence the vote if the seat was close….Rosemeadow split 65-45% according to the website, plus I guess voters wanting to get rid of the government tend to vote early.

    It was a pity about the redistribution. The ALP would have won easily on the old boundaries, but taking out parts of Campbelltown like Woodbine and Claymore and replacing them with parts of Wollondilly hurt.

  6. Those comments from Farmer are just Un-effing-believable! Well actually they are very believable coming from him. I always knew he was a complete lightweight prat, but if those quotes are even half correct then he really is suffering delusions of adequacy.

    “Are they voting for substance or just a name or just a trend?”

    How do you think a political novice with the square root of zero actual ability like yourself got in the seat in the first place you tool?

    “I don’t know what more you have to do to please people.”

    Maybe you could start by voting against assaults on your constituents like WorkChoices moron.

    “To think that someone can be in the job for six years and somebody else comes into the job for six weeks and there is a huge amount of people thinking that this guy should be looking after the area federally – it just makes me rethink the whole scenario.”

    Well go ahead and rethink it clown. If you were half the local advocate you dream you are you wouldn’t be in this position. I’m sure Nick Bleasdale won’t say no to having another crack at a by election. I also doubt he’ll take his position for granted and treat his constituents as contemptuously as you have. Sod the hell off.

  7. Well, I live in the Campbelltown City Council area…the booth I voted at was around 65-35 against Farmer. At least we can say he does NOT speak for the people of Campbelltown!

  8. No David he sure doesn’t. Not many booths giving Pat the Love in our side of the electorate. The rural cousins around Camden have held the line for him as I knew they would.

    Some of the biggest swings though came from those in between though. I wasn’t sure Labor would make too much ground around Mt Annan and Narellan Vale but looks like 6 straight interest rate rises were noticed.

    On Camden not swinging as hard, I wonder if Farmer’s support for the ‘No Muslim School’ protests (we’re only concerned about the traffic, honestly) might not make the difference in the end?

  9. Rosemeadow has been a booth which has gone to Pat strongly compared to much of Campbelltown in the past few elections.
    The swing there was huge. It will be interesting to see what happens with the particular issue.

  10. These comments fit with his approach for the whole campaign. I got told I apparently rolled my eyes at a Christian forum when Pat said “I’d hope Labor voters, and Green voters, will vote for me on the day”. He just clearly had no idea what was going on.

    I’ve also heard someone who thought the comments in that article came from a media release he’d written in the afternoon BEFORE any votes were being cast and someone saying they were standing next to a booth worker for the Libs who was on the phone consoling Pat, clearly quite upset. He didn’t see it coming, despite the front page stories in local papers saying that it was knife-edge (picking it perfectly!).

  11. I handed out for the Your Rights at Work team at Ruse on Saturday and was very happy with the mood of the public there. It was clear that they had had enough of the Libs and especially of the NoChoices IR legislation and their arrogance. Pat Farmer turned up with his secretary to hand out and he was quite confident – but I got the impression he was really sh%tting himself. His secretary couldn’t understand how I was meant to be Your Rights at Work (and why I would even contemplate handing out for those evil unions) and why I ended up handing out for ALP when they had a few workers leave – some people don’t get it do they? She was one of those born to rule types that get up my goat….and from reading your link there Ben it’s obviously a thought that prevails within Pat’s office from the top down!

    Sorry mate but I voted ALP 1st this time as I had to send a strong message to the Government…and I know a few people that did that as well (I voted Green last election)…I hope the people of Macarthur now realise Pat is not the good bloke that they thought he was and he portrays himself as but rather an arrogant one!

    Very happy with results in Mt Annan/Narellan etc as well – from 70/30 last election to 55/45 – and ALP even won Currans Hill!

    I hope those votes at Rosemeadow are the difference – that way the thought of a byelection can still be on the cards (I dont expect Bleasedale to fall over the line on postals – they’ll go the other way)

  12. The counting done today was mostly the re-count. Particular interest in that irregularity at Rosemeadow.
    There was an amazing swing at this booth to the ALP and interestingly this was as I undersatand were Pat Farmer chose to to cast his vote. Really thought that he would have chosen an area were he was more well regarded… Then again I gather from the comments he made today in the local press that he really had no idea of the mood of the electorate.

  13. Nice to see Ben Raue here. I helped your primary vote, by one at least.

    Absolutely appalled at the arrogance of Pat Farmers comments. Hardly surprising though.

    It seems to much to hope though that he will lose the seat to Nick Bleasdale.

  14. Well, worse case scenario we scared the bejesus out of him. I can’t see Pat running in 2010, he may well even quit before then. Howard’s pretty much the only Liberal who had any time for him, and now he’s gone I’d expect Pat would notch up his pension and call it quits.

  15. Looks like the creepy marathon man is pulling away with the postal votes – he now has a 0.4%lead….here’s hoping there are heaps of absentees and they come on side for bleasdale

  16. and well they did!!….disappointing that it didnt swing further but I think you’ll find it was the greatest swing in NSW…..I thought ALP would win nationally but had no thoughts that ALP could get Farmer…

  17. As you said Ben, “I don’t know whether it’s possible to look at the numbers in a close race and put them back in the count, but if that isn’t I’d expect a very narrow Liberal win would see the seat go to the Court of Disputed Returns and a possible by-election.”

    How can one contest the current outcome in light of this situation????

    What’s the process???

  18. I don’t know, but they challenge the results on the grounds of technicalities like not having nominated properly and send them to a by-election, surely they could do it when there is a real reason why the vote could be invalidated?

    Can someone who knows maybe elaborate? Being a candidate who just finished uni I’d really like to know if I might face a by-election before I go look for work. A more unusual dilemma than most face.

  19. I think it is the first time in a few years that we have had a decent ALP candidate who is not from local politics and actually has some experience as an employer and in a union (a rare combination) so I think that could have been an additional factor in the large swing. Pat has also acted quite arrogantly over the last 3 years so I think that some of his personal vote would have been lost, contributing even more to the swing. As a third factor, the mortgage stress in the area can’t have helped it. With it put out like that I am surprised he held it to what he did.

  20. Hmmm. Does your Party know Ben?

    Also…how did you hear/find out about the Rosemeadow situation???
    As I only heard it here…and i only came across this site purely
    because I was interested in my own electorate.

    A kind of off the rail question as well:

    In the redistribution of electorate lines…
    Who makes that decision?

    An independant body OR the current (as in the recent liberal) government???

    Just curious to find out.

  21. it must be a bitter loss for you .. biggest swing in NSW and the articulate Liberal candidate obviusly had nothing to do with it.. No one is claiming superstar status just dont be bitter about it and accept what has happened..loser

  22. Pat Farmer – articulate Liberal candiate LOL

    This was a safe Labor seat and is a labor seat is the state, so I do not think Pat did that poorly

  23. Pat used to be very popular, what this indicates is people are beginning to realise he’s done sweet f’all for the last six years.

    I think Nick is quite a decent candidate. He clearly wasn’t someone they picked as a star candidate but came across to people as an ordinary guy, and that worked for him.

    Adrian: I don’t know if people in the Greens office know, more importantly the ALP know and they’d be the ones to launch an appeal if it happened.

    Dovif: as someone who was very involved: Pat performed very poorly. They didn’t campaign like it was a marginal seat. Pat always just assumed everyone would vote for him. If they had campaigned properly Nick wouldn’t have come close.

    Also there is massive growth in those living in the north-east of Camden (Narellan, Harrington Park etc) and they’ve swung enormously from Pat to Labor. I’ve loaded all the booth results into Google Earth, and if someone can give me advice on how to load the file onto the web I’ll post it here.

    It’s interesting to see how divided the electorate is. All Campbelltown booths except for Glen Alpine, Kentlyn, Wedderburn and Menangle Park went with Labor. Apart from Glen Alpine, the other three are very small, effectively rural booths on the edge of Campbelltown. On the other hand, Labor only won two booths outside Campbelltown, being Currans Hill and Mount Annan Central (where they won by 4 votes). They won none in the old parts of Camden or Wollondilly. In some parts of Harrington Park, Mount Annan, Narellan etc there were swings in the mid-teens and Labor STILL lost the seat. That shows how strong they used to be for the Coalition.

  24. Oh, and Adrian, the AEC is an independent body and they sort out the borders. Because the seat in NSW abolished was in the country, all the other seats shifted in the direction of the country. So Macarthur gave up territory in Kearns, Eagle Vale, Eschol Park, Claymore etc to Werriwa and instead received massive swathes of land including Picton etc in compensation.

  25. There may be more to play out yet.
    I have heard whispers from outside either party about discrepencies at a booth in the Camden region. No real info yet, I’ll check my sources and let you all know if its legit, ASAP.

  26. Re the alleged AEC bungle: I am wondering whether to challenge a result with Disputed Returns, you not only have to prove there was a stuff-up, but that it cost you election (ie you wouldn’t even bother if the electorate was Grayndler or Mitchell)?

    Or is the result overturned purely on the principle that an error has been made?

    From my calcs:
    Rosemeadow had 3000 formal votes, so assuming an even spread of electors 500 of them arrived between 8-10am. They split 65-35 to Labor, so that’s 325 vs 175, a gap of 150. So does this mean that if the final margin is less than 150 votes, it might be overturned, and if it’s greater than 150 it probably won’t??

  27. Whoops

    Actually it’s 600 votes that split 390-210, a gap of 180….

    Same question applies: is 180 votes a magic figure that may determine whether to overturn the result or not?

  28. no dovif it is not a safe labor seat. I just want a sticker that say’s “Belt me spank Me” instead of Pat me. Geeze that was some fantastic marketing, who thought of that.. Or the one that stated I love Pat… well I love thai.. Pat thai..lololooolo

  29. Oh god, that one is horrible – Pat me …. maybe he really should go into acting instead, Forest Gump 2 maybe.

    Rudd won the election already, if they force the people to vote again, there will be a big swing back to the Liberal, I do not think the ALP will want to force a byelection through the disputed return. It would not make sense and create ill-will at the electorate

  30. Is there evidence to suggest that by-elections have the swing effect you speak of Dovif? Without evidence, thats just an opinion.
    If one labels a by-election as ‘forceful’ well there should be more information out there, to describe WHY a by-election takes place. In this case…stuff up(s) with a polling booth. As a resident of this electorate, id say…forcing a by-election is the right thing to do under the circumstances.

    It would only really create ill will…if people believe the posturing of participants like Pat, who might just go ahead with an attempt to shame the process of the by-election. If it creates ill will….because people beyond the polling booth that stuffed up dont believe those lost votes really matter, well then, something is wrong with peoples attitudes.

    If i had a friend, whose vote didnt count…id care. Simple.
    Same should go for a complete stranger.

    On a side note, I wonder how the next few years pan out in our electorate. Considering at this point, we have a liberal seat…in a federal labour government.
    Why would the government in power want to give funding to our area? If its not self serving via a pat/liberal seat.

    Just wondering is all.
    Especially as (a weekago?)
    The auditor general released a paper/report
    detailing thats what the liberal government was doing…
    with its own seats around the country.

  31. I do not think the Alp would go for a new election , only if Pat resigned which I dont think he would, but sitting on the other side with no protection and with inquiries from the auditor general, who knows what will happen..
    Pity the seat did not fall into govt hands as the current member will have no support or respect from either side as the former PM has goooonnnnnnneee.,
    This seat is too close to call

  32. adrian Griffith

    The election is already decided, why force the voter to vote again just to decide one seat. I know if I was force to vote again in 2 weeks, I will definitely vote against the person who caused me the pain.

    There has been many bi-election that had been forced on the people by one party or the other, in some cases the swing is about 10% against the party who forced the by-election.

  33. see Rockdale which I belong to around 1994, Labor tried to parachute someone in, the swing in the safe labor sear was about 14% and the Lib who noone knew won the seat

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