Patterson: Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4 in ACT

The Canberra Times has published a poll of voting intention for the October 18 Australian Capital Territory election, covering 400 respondents in each of the three multi-member regions. The poll appears to confirm what might have been ascertained from anecdotal evidence and recent elections elsewhere: that Labor’s primary vote is down by as much as 10 per cent since the last election; that it has no chance of retaining its majority; and that the dividend from its decline is set to be reaped by the Greens, who have a quota in their own right in each electorate and are looking good for a second seat in the seven-seat Molonglo region. The table below shows results from both the poll and the 2004 election, with the number of quotas indicated in brackets.

2004 Election
Molonglo (7) 33% (2.6) 29% (2.3) 23% (1.8) 16% (1.3) 45.3% (3.6) 32.6% (2.6) 11.5% (0.9) 10.6% (0.9)
Brindabella (5) 38% (2.3) 37% (2.2) 18% (1.1) 7% (0.4) 45.7% (2.7) 40.0% (2.4) 7.3% (0.4) 6.6% (0.4)
Ginninderra (5) 34% (2.0) 34% (2.0) 16% (1.0) 16% (1.0) 50.1% (3.4) 32.4% (2.2) 8.2% (0.6) 7.6% (0.6)

Labor and Liberal seem assured of two seats in Molonglo and the Greens of one, but the remaining two are hard to pick. With seven seats on offer, the electorate has proved attractive to independent candidates including Liberal-turned-independents Richard Mulcahy (an incumbent) and Helen Cross (defeated in 2004), along with high-profile Queanbeyan mayor Frank Pangallo. The poll respectively has them on 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent, meaning there would need to be tight mutual preference flows if any of them are to be in the hunt (for what it’s worth, Pangallo has been approached by Labor in the past to run in Eden-Monaro). If the figures are accurate, the most likely result would be that the minor candidates’ preferences would spray around enough to deliver one of the final seats to Labor and another to the Greens. The figures from the five-member electorates point to straightforward results of two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens. That means the most likely outcome of the election is that Labor will survive as a minority government with Greens support (assuming a coalition of some description isn’t on the cards). The current numbers are Labor nine, Liberal seven and Greens one.

Further discussion at The-RiotACT.

UPDATE: Remiss of me not to have noticed the accompanying Canberra Times article which reports: “The Greens have made no secret that they would consider forming a coalition with either side of the political equation”. Hat tip to Oz in comments.

UPDATE 2 (5/10/08): The Sunday edition of the Canberra Times provides further figures on leadership perceptions, finding Jon Stanhope is preferred as leader by 41.6 per cent against 40.0 per cent for Zed Seselja. This compares with Stanhope’s 63 per cent to 19 per cent lead over then-Liberal leader Brendan Smyth shortly before the 2004 election. “Just over half” reckon Stanhope suffers from the foible du jour, arrogance.

UPDATE 3 (6/10/08): Adam Carr has some lovely maps at his Psephos website with colour-coded booth results for Labor, Liberal and the Greens.

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.

175 comments on “Patterson: Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4 in ACT”

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  1. When assessing the ACT election you need to take into consideration that the ACT uses a last bundle counting system which is not fully proportional. It was`designed to facilitate a manual counting process. The system used seriously distorts the proportionality of the vote Added to the distortion of the last bundle process is the method and formula used to calculate the Surplus transfer value. For Every vote that exhausts in a surplus transfer increases disproportionaly the value of votes that express a continuing preference. As a result the system does not reflect the voters intentions. The last bundle system gives undue weight to party tickets at the expense of minor ticket votes.

    Review of the Queensland Senate vote has revealed that the Greens were denied representation as a result of the system used. The extent of distortion represents over 50,000 votes added. The ACT system has its own level of distortion

  2. It’s true territorians hated self government, but that is (as Adam notes) because they had previously been subsidised by the rest of the country, and self-government was part of a package where that was lost. They would have hated it even more if they had lost the subsidy and had no opportunity to have a say in what was done with the reduced pie.

    Having the capital in Canberra has been expensive, but its about to come into its own. Sydney is getting close to the capacity it can hold without major loss of amenity. Melbourne has further to go, but will still inevitably feel the strain. In a world where population continues to grow Australia can’t expect to hold its population stable, so to avoid turning Melbourne and Sydney into unnavigable nightmares it needs to create more cities of medium size. Canberra’s good in that way, and it will likely grow faster than the national average (as I suspect will Newcastle and various others).

    Of course the Capital could be part of NSW, but why should it? It’s healthy to run a few experiments. Many people have pushed the idea of abolishing states and giving some of their powers to regional councils. ACT self government has given us a chance to see whether it works and should be adopted more widely.

  3. Feral, fair points. What a pity short-sighted conservatives sabotaged Whitlam’s plan to develop Albury-Wodonga (“Whitlamabad”), and Don Dunstan’s plan to develop Monarto. No to mention Whitlam’s proposed airport at Galston, which would have been a godsend to Sydney by now.

    (“Short-sighted conservatives” is of course a tautology.)

  4. Can somebody explain why the Liberal primary is down. It just seems odd that with such a big swing appearing against Labor that the Liberals have not only not picked up any but also lost some.

  5. Doesn’t the National Capital Authority effectively run the area around the Parliamentary Triangle independently of the ACT Government anyway? You should just reduce the ACT to the area of the parliamentary triangle and abolish self-government (since very few people would reside in the area). Canberra would have a sizeable influence on the NSW government, being bigger than any other regional centre, and you could institute a Canberra City Council elected along similar lines to the current LA.

  6. …because the idea would go down like a ton of bricks?

    The ACT is culturally a million miles away from country NSW, which is why we have a parliament that’s so very different to our neighbours to the east. It’d make the outcry against self-government back in the 80s look like nothing at all. Alas, I’m not surprised in the least that Adam wants to abolish the one jurisdiction in the country that reliably votes actual left.

    also, pokelyle@36: This wouldn’t be the first time we’d had minor party ministers in the ACT. There were Residents Rally (think a local 80s version of the Democrats and Greens) and No Self-Government Party ministers in the Liberal government 1989-91, and we also had an independent as Heath Minister in the late 90s.

  7. Great news for the Greens from Queensland! If only a few more of the Labor MPs had balls or whatever! Sorry Dr Adam to spoil your Sunday night! I am celebrating!

  8. I give this Patterson poll the same amount of credence as the one they produced (under the Westpoll name) a similar time before the WA election. “Westpoll: 54-46 to Labor”.

    Patterson tend to get things spectacularly wrong. 🙂

  9. Adam 61, probably never “69”! So MANY are so AMUSED at your CONSERVATISM! Free yourself from your “educational” experiences! YOU might liberate yourself FINALLY!

  10. ‘Great news for the Greens’… ‘First Green Cabinet Minister’… yeah, it’s easy sniping from the grassy knoll, but being part of the government will probably be a little more challenging – even if the hard decisions confronting the ACT are not quite those Joschka Fischer had to grapple with.

  11. There is a chance that there could possibly be a number of Green cabinet ministers in the next few years. The ACT soon, Tasmania 2010 and Victoria 2010.

    Of course none of these are anywhere definite because the Greens may not (or in the case of Victoria probably not) get the balance of power or there might be a grand coalition between Labor and Liberal or in the case of Victoria the National might do a deal with Labor to keep the Greens out.

  12. #55: considering the Liberal leader seems reasonably popular, the Libs are unlikely to go backwards. However I don’t see them going forwards, either, as it looks too difficult to win a third seat in Brindabella or Ginninderra (they won’t win 4 in Molonglo, surely).

    Any ideas why ‘Zed’ has such a (relatively) good approval rating?

  13. MDMConnell: Seselja’s actually run a surprisingly good campaign. His TV ads are on the mark, he comes across as likeable and fresh, and a lot of the areas he does well are in stark contrast to the increasingly perceived as arrogant Stanhope. He’ll never win because his party’s a basketcase and his current caucus is too right-wing for the left-leaning territory, but to the extent anyone could actually pull off the David Cameron/John Key “nice conservative” sort of thing here, he’s doing it.

    Adam: Honestly, I’d love to see one of the major parties here try proposing that. It’d be great political theatre, and the other party would be in majority government before you could say “oops”. Canberra has a very distinct identity; people who actually live here would no sooner be governed from Sydney than Melburnians would. Why do you think Stanhope’s parochial “defender of the territory” antics go down so well?

    Tom: I’d be surprised if there was a Green cabinet minister in Tasmania anytime soon, as the two parties hate each others guts. I think they’re more likely to sit on the crossbenches and annoy a Labor government while supporting them on confidence and supply motions. Victoria’s a fair way off too – they’d actually have to get someone in government first.

    However, the ACT’s a different story. The ACT Greens are pretty well organised (if strategically stupid at times), they have good support from normal Liberal voters, and I think they’ve got every chance of becoming the official opposition here in the long term if the Liberals can’t get their act together. The ACT Liberals have got to realise (as Kate Carnell did in the ’90s) that the sort of conservatism that plays well in Sydney or Melbourne goes down like a ton of bricks here, and that they’re going to doom themselves to irrelevancy if they keep appealing to such a small segment of the population.

  14. I would appreciate it if people stopped using this post as an open thread for whatever they feel like discussing. It’s acceptable to discuss Queensland politics on the Morgan thread, but not here.

  15. If you want something done, do it yourself.
    I have made some ACT booth maps
    It’s striking how evenly distributed the ALP vote is, a tribute to the ACT planning authorities who wanted to create a socially homogenous city. The ALP vote is strongest in Woden and Belconnen, weakest south of the lake and in parts of Tuggeranong. The Liberal vote is weakest in the centre and Woden, strongest in Gunghalin and Tuggeranong. The Green vote is strongest around ANU, and gets weaker the further out you go.

  16. A couple of points for Adam in Canberra:
    1) ACT MLAs do not get “get driven round in big white cars” – no Comcars in the ACT Legislative Assembly, they drive themselves (although they get privately plated cars as part of their salary package.)
    2)Perhaps you could enlighten me as to which Australian town councils have responsibility for primary, secondary & tertiary education systems; primary, secondary and tertiary health systems;magistrates, supreme and appeals courts; criminal justice system; public transport system; disabilty and carers; public housing etc?
    3) Are you aware that the “T” in ACT stands for “Territory”, hence the need for a Territory government with responsibility for State/Territory functions noted in point 2)?
    4)Why does the NT get to have a Legislative Assembly (and a bunch of shire councils) without quibble from you when its population is barely two thirds of the ACT’s and the whole place is subsidised by the rest of the country?
    Just curious

  17. I was just saying that there is a chance of Green ministers.

    There is a chance that the Libs could take 9 or 10 seats of Labor (55) and the Greens up to 3 seats which could leave the Greens with the Balance of power (unless Labor came to an agreement with the Nationals or Liberals) in which case the Greens could support a minority government or join with Labor in a coalition in which a would guess they could expect 1 minister in each house.

  18. And indeed the ACT got it’s port – see the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915…I came across this while working for a Community Legal Cenbtre on the NSW south coast a few years ago and acting for someone who had committed an offence inside the JBT…makes for the odd messy situation that lawyers love…see also the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986 – a ‘mirror’ of the NT’s Land Rights Act

    And further to the NT reference by Jimbo Cool above – will TPB have a look at the upcoming NT Local Government elections? – I’ve done a short intro post on it over at The Northern Myth…

  19. Jimbo, I stand corrected on Comcars. Your other points are completely circular. The ACT and the NT exist, therefore they need governments, therefore they have to run schools etc, therefore they need to exist. As I said earlier, I am in favour of abolishing both of them. The NT is sufficiently far from everywhere else to merit statehood, if it wants it and is willing to pay for it. The ACT should become part of NSW.

    Ruawake, the ACT has a port, Jervis Bay. That’s why it’s part of the ACT.

  20. Actually, Jervis Bay is Commonwealth Territory, not part of the ACT. While Jervis Bay is included in the ACT Federal electorate of Fraser, it is not administered by the Stanhope government. It is the same as Christmas Island being in the Federal electorate of Lingiari but not part of the Northern Territory.

  21. The Commonwealth, in 1915, bought Jervis bay off of the NSW Govt. So Canberra would have a port. Since self Govt. in 1989 it has been the Plaything of the Minister for Territories

    I assume that is Albanese?

  22. Jervis Bay was part of the ACT until 1989, when it was separated and became a Commonwealth territory in its own right, presumably to stop pinko ACT politicians having jurisdiction over the naval facilities. It was acquired by the Commonwealth from NSW in 1915 so that the new national capital could have its own port. I presume there was going to be a Jervis Bay – Canberra railway (or maybe there is one? I don’t know). This sort of territorialist thinking is also the reason why the ACT includes all those nice mountains to the south, now the Namadji National Park – so that Canberra would control its own water supply, and malevolent NSW politicians couldn’t cut it off.

  23. Adam @ 73,

    According to your maps, Chisholm is 45 to 50% Liberal so almost even up. I will look at my polling location in Chisholm and see what we get when counting on Election night ….

    Anyone else here working a polling booth? (for the Election side, not scrutineering side(s)) …..

  24. Adam, Fadden has a sub division known in estate agent speak as “Fadden Hills” which was snapped up by those same real estate agents, and second hand car dealers etc such as make up the local membership of the Liberal Party. Despite the founding fathers and the former NCDC policy of a homogenous social make-up of the city, there are a few such enclaves of developer driven estates within suburbs that are marketed as being for a better than average class of person. Gleneagles estate within the decidedly blue collar suburb of Kambah is a good example (just don’t tell them that it is built on a rubbish dump!).

  25. Common wisdom has it that the Green vote is driven by disillusioned lefties deserting the ALP in protest at the lack of lefty policies from those ALP governments. How does this explain the ACT situation where the ALP is undoubtedly the most left friendly govt in the nation?

  26. No, ruawake, I’ve just checked the Administrative Arrangements order, and territories now come under the Attorney-General’s portfolio, so it’s Debus or McClelland, not Albanese.

  27. Adam, I’ve lived here only since January this year so don’t know enough (voting wise) beyond my immediate area of Chisholm in Tuggeranong to be able to answer your question. Fortunately, #86 bailed me out 😉 ….. his answer sounds knowledgeable to me ….

  28. I think the drift of inner-urban elite voters from the ALP to the Greens is “vibe” driven, not personality or issue driven. (What’s the elite word for vibe? Zeitgeist? Weltanshauung?) Since Canberra’s elite is the elite of elites, it’s probably as much driven by the federal vibe as the local one.

  29. Its interesting to note that this massive increase in the Green Vote is about a “Vibe’, not personality or issue driven. HaHaHa HA you are just fishing for a response but this is to much. Ha Ha Ha if you even think for one moment that the increase vote, across the whole country, at every level of government, including local, is about Vibe, well I hope that you have influence in the ALP as they are proving that they never got Climate Change, all the spin about the environment is meaningless. Here we are faced by a challenge greater than anything we have ever faced before, its about the way we think, the way we make decisions, and the way we argue. You can’t argue with the environment, you can’t try and spin the realities of the health of the planet. Inputs result in outputs and there is no other way of seeing it. But where are the ALP in this debate, running around making totally sycophantic comments about ‘our friends in congress’ and 700 billion packages. Should I go on.

  30. How arrogant. People are flocking away from the major parties in droves as shown both by polling and recent election results right around the country, the major issues of the time are climate change and infrastructure (particular public transport), the main recipient by a large margin of the disillusioned voters is to a party with strong policies in both areas yet it’s not “issue” driven, it’s an “elitist vibe”.

  31. Oh by the way should we have a thread on the Vic local election William, The Mayoralty in Melbourne could be quite interesting and will have meaning for the inner Melb seats at the next state and fed. Just a thought, There are more voters in these elections than the ACT?

  32. That “vibe” is the shaking of the foundations of the LIB/LAB Club, by the very pissed of voters.
    The Greens know how to rock and roll.

    If I had gram of gold for ever time some one said “the Greens will never…”, or “the Greens are irrelavent…”, or the Greens have to get dirty like the big boys”, I’d be very rich.

    Feel the vibe it’s comming to an election near you. hahaha.

  33. FTP, where the ALP is in this debate is in government, driving Australia’s response to climate change, balancing powerful competing interests, trying to produce an outcome that deals with the issue responsibly without driving the country broke. It’s a very difficult challenge but I think Rudd and Wong are doing a very good job so far. I don’t think this is an issue which is driving people to the Greens.

    Oz, people are not “flocking away from the major parties in droves.” In WA the three main parties got 79% of the vote between them, a drop of only 2%. In the NT the two main parties got 89.6%, actually an increase of 1.1%. The Greens are being used as a handy recepticle for a protest vote, just as the DLP and the Dems were before them, but it’s a drift rather than a stampede. And it is coming mostly from the inner city elite. Look at my ACT map and see where the Green vote is concentrated – most of it’s within a short bike ride of the ANU coffee shop. In the NSW local government elections, yes the Greens did well in various places across the state, but mainly in Marrickville and Leichhardt, the strongholds of the inner city cosmopolitan elite.

  34. Adam says

    “In the NSW local government elections, yes the Greens did well in various places across the state, but mainly in Marrickville and Leichhardt, the strongholds of the inner city cosmopolitan elite.”

    If you have a look you will see the proportional increase in Green votes was higher in country areas.

  35. That’s because they were starting from a very low base. Green stength is overwhelmingly clustered in the inner city areas.
    Look, I’m not denying that the Greens did well. But as I said before, it was mostly a protest vote, in this case against the NSW Labor government, rather than a sudden conversion to Green policies.

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