NSW election minus zero (no limit)

The final polls are in, and they say the same thing as all the others. Nielsen has the Coalition on 50 per cent, Labor on 22 per cent and the Greens on 13 per cent, with the two-party preferred at 64-36. Newspoll has also conducted another evening of polling to turn yesterday’s 1147 sample poll of March 21-23 into today’s 1488 sample poll of March 21-24. The voting figures however are unchanged: 50 per cent for the Coalition, 23 per cent for Labor, 12 per cent for the Greens, 64.1-35.9 two-party preferred (the decimal point being a contentious practice Newspoll has adopted for final pre-election polls).

Nielsen and Newspoll both offer metropolitan/non-metropolitan breakdowns, although Newspoll stingily limits it to two-party figures. Here we are told Labor faces an “approximate swing” of 20 per cent in Sydney and 11 per cent in the rest of the state, translating into respective two-party splits of 65-35 and 63-37. Nielsen has similar results but reverses the order: 63-37 in Sydney, 66-34 in the rest of New South Wales. Both tell a very different story from Essential Research, which had 71-29 in Sydney and 58-42 in the rest of NSW – which ended up producing a similar statewide figure because the differences cancelled out.

Hot off the press:

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian tips Labor to lose everything on a margin of 10 per cent or less with the “possible exceptions” of Swansea and Monaro; everything from 10 to 20 per cent except Lakemba, Fairfield, Campbelltown and Wallsend, and possibly Oatley, Toongabbie, Maroubra and Cessnock; perhaps also Cabramatta, Wollongong, Keira and very likely Newcastle; and set to lose Balmain and Marrickville to the Greens. As bad as this sounds, Salusinszky is actually making a “bullish” prediction of about 23 seats for Labor, owing to “some drift back by ‘true believers’ when they confront what Paul Keating called ‘the loneliness of the polling booth’”.

• My own very different view was published in Crikey yesterday. Please pretend that I included Granville in the list of possible Labor retains and Lake Macquarie as a second independent retain.

• A review of the contested seats by Andrew Clennell in the Daily Telegraph includes a few unorthodox calls, with Granville, Toongabbie and Monaro “set to fall”. John Robertson on the other hand is “expected to just hang on” in Blacktown.

Yesterday’s news:

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that while Kristina Keneally had been “trying to save Labor seats in Wollongong, Cabramatta, Fairfield and Bankstown”, Barry O’Farrell’s schedule was taking in Drummoyne, Strathfield, Kogarah, Rockdale and “other points in Sydney’s west”.

• Andrew Clennell in the Daily Telegraph: “Pessimistic senior Labor sources appeared to back the (Galaxy) poll yesterday, saying they were regarding only eight to nine seats as “safe” and a further 14 as ‘winnable’.”

• Drew Warne-Smith of The Australian sounded pretty confident that Labor would lose Balmain and Marrickville, but there are alternative viewpoints around if you’re in the market.

Michelle Harris of The Newcastle Herald reported “leaked Labor polling” of 400 respondents in Newcastle showed support for independent candidate and Lord Mayor John Tate had “collapsed”, and that Liberal challenger Tim Owen led Labor incumbent Jodi McKay 52-48. The primary vote figures were said to be 30 per cent for Owen and 25 per cent for McKay, with the Greens relegating Tate to fourth place with 18 per cent against 16 per cent for Tate. The Herald’s Labor source said Greens voters could be “handing the seat to the Liberals” if they didn’t preference Labor, which might well inspire you view the figures with suspicion.

Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper:

• In Tamworth, where independent incumbent Peter Draper is thought to be fighting a losing battle against the Nationals’ Kevin Anderson, David Humphries of the Sydney Morning Herald tells of “the anti-Draper campaign’s relentless efforts to portray him as being in the government’s pocket”. “Anecdotal evidence” suggests the message is getting through.

Andrew West of the Sydney Morning Herald foresees Nathan Rees retaining Toongabbie.

Trouble at the mill:

• Fresh from carrying on like a pork chop before the news cameras last week, Labor’s Cabramatta MP Nick Lalich has had the Liberals crying foul over efforts to link their candidate Dai Le with Pauline Hanson. The Liberals have been circulating a photo of Lalich taking a hands-on approach to disseminating the message among the Vietnamese community, and there have reportedly also been letterdrops. Josephine Tovey and Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald reckon “straw polls” in the seat run 60-40 in favour of Le.

Kogarah MP Cherie Burton has admitted she was fined for reversing into a car and failing to exchange personal details with the owner, after first threatening legal action against the Sunday Telegraph if it pursued the story. While Barry O’Farrell is calling on Labor to disendorse her, Burton is unconvincingly complaining of “dirty tricks”. I understand Burton to have been a target of much ire on talk radio over the past week.


Fred Nile declares “a Christian agenda will be easier to achieve under a Coalition government”. Meanwhile, Labor has been heard pleading for mercy from Greens voters, only a few of whom will be directed to preference Labor by their party’s how-to-vote cards.

• Pleading the dangers of conservative control, Labor will direct second preferences to the Greens in the upper house despite the lack of a quid pro quo.

• The Newcastle Herald reports “the Liberal Party has decided not to direct its preferences to independent candidate Shayne Connell in Wallsend after he refused to return the favour”.

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.

233 comments on “NSW election minus zero (no limit)”

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  1. evan14 and guiface, I have some good news!

    People asking for ALP HTV’s in Singleton this morning. No ALp staff on the booth though, so they got a Tim Duddy HTV.

    Souris is home, my source there was handing out for Duddy and says a lot of his mates from Bayswater were saying they’d give Duddy their number 2, after voting for George.

    See, they’re tactical!

  2. Steve

    It is a great thing about Australia that you get people like Joe Hockey and Andrew Upton just getting in there and doing it. A few months back, I was on Camberwell Station, and there was Geoffrey Rush just down the platform, catching the train like anybody else. And a friend of ours has had the vision of Matt Preston helping out at Auskick.

  3. Tim Holding……..yes, that’s who I was thinking of. 😀

    Funnily enough, there were more Labor posters and volunteers at my polling booth this morning than for the Federal election last year, which is a surprise, as Epping is an extremely safe Liberal seat.

  4. @28

    Labor spinning 14 and Liberals talking up 30 suggests 22-23 is probably where it’s at.

    There are any number of seats where the Liberals *could* win, but it’s a tall order to get every single one of them. They might pull off a couple of Campbelltown, Keira, Maroubra, Blacktown, Cabramatta, Toongabbie, Mac Fields….but winning all of them looks too much to ask. Add to that Labor’s certain wins plus one or two holds against the tide and there’s your 20-odd seats.

  5. If a voter is dumb and stupid enough to put their Legislative Assembly paper in the Legislative Council ballot box by mistake will that render the ballot paper invalid? Or will the polling officials put the paper in the correct pile after polling closes?

    Does anyone know?

  6. benno89, they just put it in with the LA votes. You can have a kid and vote, but you need a license to have a dog or a gun. I give up.

  7. Benno

    AEC and VEC veteran polling official Mrs Pseph has walked in the door…

    She thinks they move them across but it may be noted.

  8. Seats I am interested in, for various salacious and actuarial reasons:

    Blue Mountains
    East Hills
    Macquarie Fields.
    Upper Hunter

  9. Ha, ha Evan 14 … Amy Smith was in my youngest daughter’s year … you can take it from me that her vote didn’t go that direction.

    Saw Emma Heyde, Greens candidate, outside PP centre with two wee kiddies .. will pull a healthy vote here but as you say it is the LC that counts.

    BTW … Sausage Sizzle web site fail … Epping West hogging the limelight.

    Local Hornsby Shire ‘Independent Deputy Mayor handing out for Greg Smith … I must ask the ‘which faction mate?’ question at next community meeting.

    Time perhaps for a ‘tell all’ run-down on the Libs and Nats who will infest Macquarie Street for the next 4 years? Faction count?

  10. “Benno

    AEC and VEC veteran polling official Mrs Pseph has walked in the door…

    She thinks they move them across but it may be noted.”

    What do you mean by “it may be noted”?

  11. [I for one can’t get my head around how bad NSW Labor is.]


    Of all NSW Labor’s evildoings, amongst the most destructive is promoting Labor cronies and toadies into virtually the entire senior Public Service management. The ALP hasn’t just rorted all the departmental head offices’ plums (like Keira ALP candidate, 33 year old Ryan Park’s $250K appointment in our woeful Dept. of Transport). This cancer has spread to every nick and cranny of the state.

    One of Australia’s leading social scientists, Tony Vinson, wrote a scathing report on the regional management no-hopers culpable for disgraceful dereliction of duty in the South West Sydney Health Network. Vinson exposed that all the senior administrators wasted their time “managing up” to their Minister and her/his mob of spin doctors. Scant, if any, of their time was devoted to the actual delivery of services.

    My partner works in TAFE, in which the regional “Institutes” have hundreds of cushy pseudo-corporate admin positions filled by overpaid careerists who suck up an exhorbitant proportion of TAFE’s ever-shrinking budget, but who have zero interest in education and take umbrage when staff dare to request the bare minimum sufficient resources for on-campus students.

    If Charles Dickens was alive and living in NSW, he’d write a novel about it. Actually Stephen King would be perfect!

  12. evan14, you have more chance of being LOOP than Whan. The fix is in. Keneally will announce her resignation this evening and we’ll all go “awwww, aint she purty”, and Barry O’Farrell will look like he’s killed a dove. They’re good this bunch.

    One thing I’m looking forward to is that this is the first election since NSW ’81 where I haven’t scrutineered. YEEEE HARRR! Bake them cookies! Happy to field any questions on polling procedure, including what exactly constitutes a ‘Macedonian one’.

  13. Atticus, that is a brilliant summation of where public administration is at in NSW. Socrates, yourself and I should have dinner and port one evening. I think we’d need Dostoevsky to write the book.

  14. Two litres of Vodka, Two cases of Baron’s lager. Vickers Gin. Mezcal, port, home brew and my mate Spiros’ home made bourbon.

    To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, once you start an alcohol collection it can easily get out of hand.

    Sun’s over the yardarm Sliante!

  15. Atticus, I am recently a retired NSW Public Servant of senior but thankfully, and by my own design, just below ‘political’ level. Believe me the PS is stuffed, rooted, gutted of talent – and will take (if BoF has the will) at least a decade to re-build.

    I got out early once the $ in super got to a reasonable figure as I just couldn’t be part of it any more. I wished my staff good luck guys and gals, you’ll surely need it! Haven’t looked back.

  16. Well Wollongong is hardly actuarial.

    Has the story about Park’s meteoric rise been doing the rounds in the Thirroull street?

    The Green’s candidate in Wollongong looks about 14 years old!

  17. Handing out HTV in one of the Balmain electorate polling booths today; very mixed Lab Lib Grn, certainly no anger at the sitting member (Verity Firth). She seems well liked, and may hold on.

  18. No drinking tonight unless it’s for the F1 or the cricket.

    Speaking of which, should I watch Formula 1 qualifying tonight (Go Webber!) or the election?

  19. Still not sure what food to have with the bottle of red – only me and one young pseph home for most of the night, mrs pseph taking one of the other young psephs to a concert, and third young pseph off to a sleepover.

    When Mrs Pseph if off working for the AEC or VEC, the young psephs and me have a food election, call for nominations, make ballot papers,vote, distribute preferences .

    Colonel Sanders won the federal election food election, Fish and Chips wone at the state election.

    There can be no cooking or washing up as these distract from the election night TV coverage!!

  20. Ed,

    I have done my far share of scrutineering but I have never come across a ‘Macedonian one’. However I would love to know…

  21. Scrutineer,

    I’m glad you asked.

    During the Wran era Wollongong was held by Frank Arkell, in a fierce contest with the ALP. In those days you had to ‘number’ at least one square. Voters’ intention wasn’t in then. There were ballot papers in the ‘gong that had an X placed next to the ALP candidate’s name. The ALP scrutineer insisted this was a ‘Macedonian one’ and therefore a valid vote. Arguments to the contrary were rebuffed with claims of racism and the dire future of Australian democracy if members of our rich and diverse multicultural communities were disenfranchised, etc, etc. From memory the vote was included, but Arkell still got up.

    The scrutineer involved may or may not of been Thane Eathonn.

  22. benno89

    The vote will be picked up and put in the correct pile! Dont worry the AEC officers and the Party scrutineers will make sure of that!

  23. http://www.news.com.au/national/the-lies-and-fall-of-a-most-despised-empire/story-e6frfkvr-1226028415818

    This has probably already been discussed but NSW is about to elect as premier someone who thinks this is fair and reasonable. It is appalling I hope he gets nothing too from the next labor premier regardless of how long he serves. It is appalling disrespect for the system and the office of premier (well i guess it is his admission if he will hold it, it is a joke office in a joke state).

  24. kevrenor

    I share your pain!

    Demoted myself down below the “political level” in Carr’s first term, which required a move from Sydney to Newcastle. As a reward for good judgement, met my partner there.

    Tonight, now semi-retired, I can dance on the graves of the donkeys and clowns who cost the state PS a plethora of competent managers because we wouldn’t toady to the Minister’s minions.

  25. eddieward
    Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    mytwobobs, but the Party scrutineers can’t touch the ballot paper! I can’t believe one of the bubbly Young Liberal types did exactly that in one of the South Australian seats last August, with the camera’s rolling!

    When I’ve scrutineered we have never touched them whether 100 fall on the floor or look like they might blow out the door.

  26. One of the reasons that I believe that the ALP swing won’t be as bad as polling suggests is, ironically, because of polling. Polling I have been informed of that shows only a third of voters thinks O’Farrell deserves to win. That shows a bit of softness to the coalition vote.

    This is, of course, within the context of a hoodaddy shellacking of riotous degree.

  27. I really can’t wait to see the effect of this (if any) on federal polling.

    Oh well, there will be an election in Baden-Wurttemberg this weekend, where there’s a very good chance of a Green-SPD coalition (you read that right) in a state the CDU has dominated for decades.

  28. Jasmine,

    In internal ALP ballots it’s filling them all in that’s the hard part.

    I’ve never had to fill one in, someone always did it for me!

  29. nsw-election-sausage-sizzle-map

    Well! they left us off the map! How rude is that?
    We had great sausages too provided by the sausage king GG hello amigo 😀

  30. Jasmine
    Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


    In internal ALP ballots it’s filling them all in that’s the hard part.

    I’ve never had to fill one in, someone always did it for me!

    Although there was that one time I sat next to the wrong person and had to fill in 80 exactly the same one after the other.

  31. Does anyone know how the Nsw electoral commission handles complaints about non -authorised election material? I received some which could have only been written
    by a liberal staffer or some on in liberal party head office

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