Seat of the week: Page

UPDATE: Essential Research has primary votes unchanged on last week, at 32% for Labor, 49% for the Coalition and 10% for the Greens, although rounding has resulted in an increase in the Coalition’s two-party lead from 56-44 to 57-43. Also featured are questions on power prices, with 37% thinking power companies most responsible against 28% for the federal government and 23% for state governments; price increases under the carbon tax, which 52% (including 68% of Coalition voters) say they have noticed and 36% say they haven’t; and the various aspects of the Houston report recommendations, which find very strong support for limiting the ways boat arrivals can bring their families to Australia, opinion divided on increasing the humanitarian program and strong opposition to the Malaysia solution, but strong approval for implementing them all as per the new government policy.

Page covers the north-eastern corner of New South Wales, outside of the northernmost coastal stretch from Byron Bay to the Queensland border which constitutes Richmond. Its main population centres are Ballina on the coast, Lismore and Casino further inland, and Grafton in the south. Labor’s strongest area is Lismore, with the remainder generally leaning slightly to the Nationals. With a median age of 44, the electorate is second only to Lyne as the oldest in Australia, and it ranks in the bottom ten on all measures of income. There are correspondingly low numbers of mortgage payers and high numbers of unemployed, along with the fifth lowest proportion of residents whose main language is other than English.

Page was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984, from an area which had historically been divided between Richmond and Cowper. It was won in 1984 by Ian Robinson, who had held Cowper for the National/Country Party since 1963. Like his party leader Charles Blunt in neighbouring Richmond, Robinson was a surprise casualty of the 1990 election, when he was unseated by a 5.2% swing to Labor’s Harry Woods. Woods held on by 193 votes in 1993 before inevitably going out with the tide in 1996. The seat was then held for the Nationals throughout the Howard years by Ian Causley, who had previously been the state member for Clarence – which Harry Woods then proceeded to win at the by-election to fill his vacancy.

Page did not swing greatly on Causley’s watch, but the Nationals benefited from redistributions which added 1.0% to the margin in 2001 and 1.3% in 2007. This did not avail them when Causley retired at the 2007 election, with Labor’s Janelle Saffin picking up a 7.8% swing to defeat Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis (now the member for Clarence after retaining the seat for the Nationals at a November 2011 by-election). In swing terms, Saffin achieved the best result of any Labor member in New South Wales at the 2010 election by picking up a swing of 2.5%, the only other seats in the state to record pro-Labor swings being Robertson (0.9%), Dobell (1.2%) and Eden-Monaro (1.9%).

Saffin was a Lismore-based member of the state upper house from 1995 until the 2003 state election, when she withdrew from preselection after it became apparent she would not retain a winnable position on the ticket. In the period between her two spells in politics, she resumed work as a human rights lawyer and then took up a position in East Timor in 2006 as adviser to Jose Ramos Horta. Saffin publicly supported Kevin Rudd during his leadership challenge in February 2012. The Nationals have again nominated their candidate from 2010, Clunes businessman and farmer Kevin Hogan, who won preselection ahead of Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson.

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.

3,581 comments on “Seat of the week: Page”

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  1. Victoria

    They were bagging him. Don’t get me wrong, many here simply politely disagree with him. It might have been someone who doesn’t post here anymore

  2. [No one challenges his views on here with data or logic. Just intuition]

    MOre nonsense.

    There are frequently comments left here (even as recently as last night) comparing polling this far out from an election with previous election results when incumbents have been similarly positioned poll-wise.

    I have often remarked that changing leaders is govt is fool-hardy – just look at what happened last time – because it makes the govt look flaky and uncertain.

    The problem is you don’t like to read things you disagree with, and prefer instead to just conflate general sentiments to commenters without actually taking on board the things they have written. You aren’t alone in this regard either, btw.

  3. Confessions
    To a degree – Lyne has a large number of self funded retirees but it is still economically disadvantaged – 18th poorest electorate, Cowper is 17th and Richmond and Page are significantly better off.

  4. Confessions

    The only thing I’ve seen that was hard was Kevin Bonham tracking the Menzies government in the early 50’s to with where things are currently. It was quite an interesting graph but he added that it’s often much harder for progressive governments to effect such a turnaround. Besides that, it tends to be intuitive projecting of what might happen rather than anything hard

    As for myself, I used to believe what many on here still do about the PM’s chances. When I was in that train of thought, I didn’t want to look at anything that contradicted that position as it was too painful to look at. I know exactly when I’m conflating general sentiment and when I’m not. By contrast, those who call me a Liberal and an anti Labor traitor, the new TLM don’t bother to look at the detail of anything I write because I have already been pigeonholed. Same goes for most here who have believe “Leader Y” needs to return in order for the ALP to win

  5. Fran. In addition I believe that reducing the number of homes one person can own should be researched as a way of keeping housing affordable. making houses ‘homes’ not investments. I do recognise that some rental properties are always required for various reasons, but would like this looked at to ensure that more of those that would prefer to own can do so affordably.

  6. [Marian Rumens @mrumens 37m
    #RockhamptonBulletin: Would you vote for a Campbell Newman govt if election held today. Yes25% No 74% #auspol]

  7. dave @ 16

    Reporting standards since the 2010 election have gotten even worse.

    The dozzy is the meme that facts, data and proof no longer count.

    Perceptions rule we are told.

    Sadly, that last point tends to be true.

    People will vote according to what they have been (mis)led to believe, not on the basis of hard facts and reality which have been obscured in a fog of lies, distortions and misinformation.

    In the modern era, these techniques were largely perfected in Germany of the 1930s.

  8. [What is Labor’s problem in Lyne – bad candidates? Poor organization? A lack of care from Sussex st?]

    OC – not enough money poured in by Sussex St to help out and probably a bit of help organising campaigns wouldn’t go astray. Definitely too many old Nat voters around and a lot around Pt Macq now probably think the Coalition protects their property values better than Labor.

  9. Dr Turf just stated that he believes the long term future of The Age newspaper is in serious doubt. He said that the circulation of the paper is at such low levels, he cannot see it surviving past the next four years. He also said that the Murdoch papers are probably going to poach the best left at the Age.

  10. Mr Dusevic has an article in ‘The Weekend Australian’ headed, ‘How Would Abbott Govern?’

    Mr Abbott’s touts are beginning to confront their worst fears – being ruled by their monster. I particularly liked, ‘The danger is that Abbott will be as reform-shy as Malcolm Fraser, as fiscally lax as Gough Whitlam and as paralysed as Rudd.’

    In a remarkably honest assessment, for ‘The Australian’, at least, Mr Dusevic writes, ‘Abbott claims fiscal prudence is in the Coalition’s DNA… Perhaps he dozed through mining boom mark 1 when Howard splashed the cash on pernsion, super lurks, fuewl excise fiddles, baby bonues and family payments, damaging the structure of the budget.’

    The article presages the usual suite of what might be termed ‘easy’ projects for newly installed Coalition governments: chop the public service, devolve administration of government services and flog infrastructure. But then what? Mr Abbott has promised to cut income tax, company tax, the MRRT and the carbon tax. His spending programs can’t fit. The opening gambit of 12,000 public servant positions gone has been increased to 20,000. This is supposed to happen by attrition. It can’t, because the savings will be needed from day one of the forward estimates period – not dribbled throughout the forward estimates period. Nor will 20,000 be nearly enough to offset the melange of tax cuts and program spending.

    I do hope that Mr Dusevic is not having a go at us here when he writes, “‘A frugal welfare safety net’ is a stated goal for the Coalition. Bring on the war against bludgers!’

    This is a major article and is well worth reading, IMHO.

    The article fails in one major respect – it does not address Mr Abbott’s narcisism/sociopathy.

    IMHO, the article gives rise to this question: When will the libertarian/small government/Dries knock Mr Abbott off?

  11. Fran,

    The cost of housing in this country is driven up by the many hands that taxes its development and sale.

    My attitude is that the various taxes on homes need to be minimised and that first homes should be able to be tax deductable in some way.

    I would also limit all lending to be limited to repayments of no more than 25% of total income.

    The first would encourage people to own their own home which assists as these people move into pension age.

    It would assist in keeping the inflated housing bubbles we see to a minimum.

    Moving quickly past first home ownership would assist in seeing more investors in homes to assist in the shoring up of additional homes for the rental market and help the 50k deficit of homes we are currently experiencing which is forcing up the prices on rental homes.

  12. [Besides that, it tends to be intuitive projecting of what might happen rather than anything hard ]

    The same can be said for the ‘replace the leader’ argument.

  13. Good Morning

    Middle Man

    The solution to the Housing problem that would remain is one our country has used before. Public Housing. Not as it is now, but as it was ioriginally intended to do.
    That mean not taking any money from proprties and land sold into general revenue for starters.


    I hate the fact I have to agree with you on media. Not that I m agreeing with you but tht you have hit the nail on the head and that indeed Goabbels would be proud to see his propaganda techniques at play.

  14. SK. i reckon cutting taxes involved in housing would only give a very short term reduction in prices. the ease of funding would quickly gobble up that reduction, and would only result in those collecting the taxes with less revenue. especially as we know most of the price increases in property come from the wealthier/middle class suburbs closer to cities.

    its the demand side that needs work in my opinion. i’ve read arguments for and against the ‘shortage of housing’. often its the type of housing and in specific high demand areas, resulting in a more customised approach in those places.

  15. sk @ 42

    Possum is an independent thinker, whose opinions are based on facts and sound analysis. Now if we could only get him to teach his fine analytical skills and independence of thought to the rest of the press gallery, Australian media would be in fine shape.

    Yes, I agree.

    He could also spend some time teaching his skills on PB where they are equally sorely needed and notably absent in many posters.

  16. Confessions

    There’s data (both quantitative and qualitative) supporting that argument. The intuitive projection tends to be what would happen in the months after he regained the leadership (both pro and con. It’s probably somewhere in the middle). What we know is that Abbott personally is in the same category as Gillard in the electorate. Rudd and Turnbull by contrast have been put in the category above the rest of the malaise. They’re both respected. Swing voters want someone they can respect and trust and they’re not getting it from either side.

  17. rummel

    Im a bit thick before brandied coffee, there are 3 to nominate, marcus ,dan , …

    Your email has me wondering whether marcus or dan ?

    Not being difficult, just want to get it right

  18. middleman,

    I understand what you are saying but with a limit of repayments to 25% of total income it ensures that the prices don’t inflate beyond the ‘real’ price of the home is.

  19. not that i’m a massive bragg fan. i just remember the line sticking in my head when i first heard it as a teenager.

    although his work with Wilco doing the old Guthrie tunes was good.

  20. [Possum is an independent thinker, whose opinions are based on facts and sound analysis. ]

    I think it would be more accurate to say that he back up his opinions with a formidable barrage of data. But they are still opinions, and as fallible as anyone else’s opinions. We saw this at the 2007 election, when he ludicrously over-extrapolated Newspoll data to predict, incorrectly, that Labor would win a swag of safe Liberal seats. In that case his opinions were based on wishful thinking, not sound analysis. Maybe he has improved since; I haven’t looked at his blog for a while.

  21. spur212:

    There’s no doubt that Ruddstoration would deliver a poll boost for the govt. However you can’t ignore the reality of what would happen after that. Unfortunately the polls don’t tell us, we can only look to his past record for that, and it isn’t pretty.

  22. SK. i worked it out. i’m always in rush when i post here. as a result i have mistakes a plenty. needless to say i find the spelling and grammar nazis and their related wars kinda amusing. it’s all nice if you have the time! yet they’d also wonder why those with poor spelling and grammar sometimes feel marginalised and keep their written opinions to themselves.

  23. Macquarie news yesterday started with Assange’s mother whining that the Australian Govt. had not given Julian enough Consular assistance and were neglecting him and not helping at all. Immediately followed with Brandis whining that the Australian Government had been excessive in the amount of Consular assistance offered and the amount of time and Consular energy wasted in helping an accused Rapist.Which do the rightwing whackos believe?
    I predict that the after 9 weeks of Juliens company the whole issue will be resolved when the entire personnel of the Ecuador Embassy seek asylum in England.

  24. SK and middleman – I think the allowable small deposits on borrowing has inflated prices as much as the 1st home purchase grants did when they came in. A lot of young ones around here are really struggling and losing homes because they ‘overmortgaged’ themselves.

    When we bought our first home (1958) the deposits were huge in comparison with wages and the mortgage could not exceed 65% of the purchase price. It meant we all had to save like crazy to get that big deposit but nobody I know lost their homes in the downturns in 61, etc. Our interest rate was 2.25%

  25. BH. it would be interesting to see how a return to those kind of leveraging ratios would chnage the consumption patterns of the yoof.

  26. Abbott address to SA Libs on live on 24 now. He said he brings SA hope.
    Yes. Hope he smurfs off back to Canberra on the next flight.

  27. [yet they’d also wonder why those with poor spelling and grammar sometimes feel marginalised and keep their written opinions to themselves.]

    middleman – ignore them! and your mistakes. As long as the gist of your post is understood it’s fine.

    I see that odious Philip Bond is advising Abbott the same way he has David Cameron. Well it’s worked out really well there, hasn’t it .. not!

    Besides which I think we sort of offloaded stuff onto community groups yonks ago, didn’t we? Some of the accounting I’ve seen in different groups would make your hair curl so if Bond is all for community groups handling funds with no oversight we’ll end up in a right pickle with some of them.

  28. BH,

    Yep, keeping the amount of the loan in an appropriate relationship to real income really is important.

    I always laugh when you pop your numbers in the handy borrowing calculators on the internet and come up with some figure you can never possibly make payments on.

    But I know many ‘fit’ into this bizarre limit and rush to max themselves out.

  29. Since the GFC, first time borrowers require at least 20% deposit. Sometimes more. They are also required to purchase mortgage insurance. If they do not meet these requirements. A guarantor is usually sought.
    The days of little or no deposit are well and truly gone.

  30. [Abbott address to SA Libs on live on 24 now. He said he brings SA hope.
    Yes. Hope he smurfs off back to Canberra on the next flight.]
    I wonder if he’s been able to get any policies out of Isobel yet?

  31. spur212 @ 76

    Gillard and Abbott are in a symbiotic relationship. Each depends on the other much like the Soviet Military and the US Military depended on each other as a threat to justify their existence on the scale they did.

    They rival each other in the unpopularity stakes and neither can gain much more popularity than the other.

    As soon as one party changes leaders, the other will be bound to follow or be left behind.

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