There are no fewer than seven seats which are still too close to call a week after polling day, with less than 0.3 per cent separating the two parties. The AEC’s official Close Seats list further includes Flynn and La Trobe, but these are all but certain to respectively go with Labor and Liberal. Corangamite briefly popped on to the list a few days ago, but it’s gone now. Two other seats that could be of at least theoretical interest come the preference count are O’Connor and Calare. In O’Connor, Nationals candidate Philip Gardiner (18.37 per cent) has a vague hope of getting ahead of Labor (20.42 per cent) on preferences from, among others, the Greens (6.68 per cent), and then overcoming Liberal member Wilson Tuckey (45.25 per cent) on Labor preferences. Similarly, in Calare the independent candidate Gavin Priestley (23.73 per cent) might be able to overcome Labor (24.84 per cent) with preferences from the Greens (2.60 per cent) and the Citizens Electoral Council (0.94 per cent, which was boosted by a donkey vote that will flow on to Labor) and then, just maybe, within spitting distance of John Cobb of the Nationals (47.89 per cent). For some reason only ordinary votes have been counted to this point in O’Connor.
Bowman. Labor’s Jason Young narrowly led Liberal incumbent Andrew Laming from election night until Tuesday when Laming got his nose in front on pre-polls, but this has proved to be the only close electorate where postals have favoured Labor. Young recovered the tiniest of leads and has inched slowly ahead to his current lead of 116 votes.
Herbert. Liberal incumbent Peter Lindsay leads by just 60 votes, and I have unconfirmed reports that only provisional votes remain to be counted. Last time provisionals favoured Lindsay 279-257: if there’s the same number this time and they swing the same way as the rest, Colbran will close the gap by 45 votes and lose by 15.
McEwen. Another seat where Labor was ahead on election night, but postals put Liberal incumbent Fran Bailey a very handy 502 votes up on Monday. That looked like it might be enough, but a remarkably good partial count of absent votes pulled it into 111 yesterday. Further counting of pre-polls then pushed her lead out to 150.
Solomon. Labor’s Damian Hale was a full 1.0 per cent ahead on election night, but late factors such as overseas Defence Force votes have steadily whittled it down to 262 votes, or 0.3 per cent. That leaves some hope for CLP incumbent Dave Tollner, though Hale should probably get up.
Swan. Labor incumbent Kim Wilkie had a 134-vote lead on election night, but has since had to watch as each new batch of votes has delivered a few dozen votes to Liberal candidate Steve Irons, who currently leads by 239 and is looking increasingly likely to emerge as the only Liberal candidate to topple a sitting Labor MP.
Dickson. Labor’s Fiona McNamara had reason to feel confident about her 425-vote lead on election night, but a strong performance on postals by Liberal member Peter Dutton pushed him 268 votes ahead on Wednesday. The seat has since provided Labor with some rare late count good news, absents and pre-polls reeling in the lead in to just 106.
Robertson. This one hadn’t been on my watch list, with Labor candidate Belinda Neal holding a formidable 1094 vote lead on election night. However, Liberal member Jim Lloyd has kept whittling away Neal’s lead, once again being boosted by postals which have gone 58-42 in his favour. Neal’s lead is now just 273 too close to comfort, but probably just enough.
To illustrate the recurring theme of Liberal comebacks, here is a table comparing party support by type of vote cast for 2004 and 2007, bearing in mind that the 2007 figures are still incomplete. While there was a slightly better performance by the Coalition in declaration votes across the board, it does seem they have managed to produce their best results on postals where it has mattered most.