NSW local government elections thread

I have nothing to contribute on the subject myself, beyond a vague understanding that Clover Moore is regarded as a shoo-in for another term as lord mayor of Sydney, but here is a thread for those wishing to discuss the results. Background aplenty from George Hasanakos of Poliquant.

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.

79 comments on “NSW local government elections thread”

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  1. Putting the Greens’ vote in the Sydney mayoral election a different way, their vote has halved (currently 6.6%, after a 6.8% swing against them)

    On that happy note, Mr Sandman beckons.

  2. [What is the only council and indeed the only government in Australia to ever have a Communist majority?]

    I don’t know, but it must be either (a) on the NSW coalfields, somewhere like Kurri Kurri, or (b) in north Queensland, perhaps around Collinsville. They were the only two areas where the CPA ever built a genuine base of electoral support.

  3. The Communist Party once won a seat in the QLand Pa’ment during WW2
    A Man called Patterson…who was critically bashed while supporting striking railways workers by the Brisbane Police just after the war
    Paterson had been a great worker for Qland cane growers and workers in a north QLand seat especially on heath and safety issue
    I think he was a lawyer

  4. Too good for me. It was actually Kearsley which like Kurri Kurri is now part of Greater Cessnock. The years were 1944-7. I will have to look at your site but I think the CPA vote in Hunter got over 10% in the late 40s/early 50s.

  5. The fall in the Green vote in Sydney would I think be partly due to a fear that Clover Moore might be beaten and many Greens voted for her for that reason

    I have a friend there and I spoke to her recently while in Sydney and that was her opinion and she was voting for Moore…though a Green voter herself

  6. The Qld government was not thrown out for being a dysfunctional shambles, it was thrown because Bligh broke her promises in a very cynical way. With Bligh gone, Qld Labor can put that behind it and rebuild. NSW Labor is still a dysfunctional shambles, and will remain so until all the blockheads who brought down Iemma are purged.

    One could reasonably accuse Morris Iemma of exactly the same cynicism.

    Mr Iemma went to the 2007 election insisting that NSW electricity assets would not be privatised. Which incidentally was NSW Labor policy.

    Immediately after the election he announced that NSW electricity assets were to be privatised. If you want to pick a point at which NSW Labor threw away its legitimacy and squandered its trust with the electorate, then that would be it.

    To compound the misery, Michael Costa was appointed NSW Treasurer by Iemma. He subsequently brought down a budget with an immense infrastructure component. When asked if all that spending was predicated on the proceeds of privatisation, he insisted that it was not.

    However, in his parting press conference, his middle finger to the people of NSW just about to the second after he qualified for his generous full parliamentary pension, he spat out that the people of NSW were going to get nothing because all that infrastructure spending was, in fact, predicated on the proceeds of electricity privatisation.

    So spare us the rewriting of history and the attempted canonisation of Morris Imema.

  7. deblonay
    [The fall in the Green vote in Sydney would I think be partly due to a fear that Clover Moore might be beaten and many Greens voted for her for that reason]
    There could be something in that. Compare mayoral votes:
    [Clover 51.6%
    Liberal 15.8
    Labor 10.3
    “Living Sydney” 9.7
    Greens 6.6]
    With their councillor teams. Looks like a fair degree of personal Clover vote (Liberal mayoral candidate was pretty uninspiring guy as well)
    [Clover 47.6%
    Liberal 18.1
    Labor 11.3
    “Living Sydney” 8.0
    Greens 9.3]


  8. I had a look at the results for Willoughby (Sydney lower North Shore, about 10-12 km NW of the Sydney CBD). I note that the rate of informal votes was about 15% in the Councillor elections in three of the four wards and about 11% in the remaining ward, compared with a typical rate of maybe 3% in State and Federal elections. The informal rate for the Mayoral election (a simple two horse race) was about 5%, still a bit high.

    This high informal vote is a bit of a worry. Is there something wrong with the design of the process? I did find the ‘how to vote’ cards from the Mayoral candidates a bit confusing, listing the would-be Mayor’s preferred councillor groups in all wards. Separate cards for each ward might have been better. Was it voter apathy? Did many voters feel didn’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice and submitted blank forms in the Councillor election? Perhaps it was a protest, but against what? These elections were very low key in Willoughby, so I don’t think that was the case. I spot-checked a few other councils and it seems that the informal vote in Willoughby is typical, although one I checked (Glen Innes, a small rural council) had an informal rate of 5%.

    What’s going on? It warrants looking into.

  9. [This high informal vote is a bit of a worry.]

    Aint that electors putting little messages on their ballots about their views of having to vote at local elections when they have no idea who any of the candidates are or what they stand for?

    Any scrutineers have any inside info they want to share about the reasons for the high informals? Am I right or is it just a sudden rise in people unable to count during local elections?

  10. I find it hard to read local election results (Antony’s site doesn’t have swings)….but this is how it looks to me:

    6% swing ALP to Lib (according to poliquant)
    Besseling (Oaky lite) doing well in Port Macq at 34% of the primary vote (although Oaky got 47% in Lyne in 2010)
    Clover storms home in Sydney Mayoral race
    Blacktown council: is it 8 seats each for ALP and Libs (which is a bit confusing as there appear to be only 15 councillors!)

    For those in the know, did I get this right?

  11. [To compound the misery, Michael Costa was appointed NSW Treasurer by Iemma. He subsequently brought down a budget with an immense infrastructure component. When asked if all that spending was predicated on the proceeds of privatisation, he insisted that it was not.

    However, in his parting press conference, his middle finger to the people of NSW just about to the second after he qualified for his generous full parliamentary pension, he spat out that the people of NSW were going to get nothing because all that infrastructure spending was, in fact, predicated on the proceeds of electricity privatisation.]

    I met Costa once. He is a pig.

  12. The Greens went backwards everywhere, not just Sydney city. Many councils that have had Greens councillors the last couple of terms will have fewer, or none this term. This will worry the federal Greens. The Liberals did well which was to be expected as they did poorly at the 2008 council elections throughout the state. There has been a national resurgence of the Liberals since 2008 when they were out of government in every Parliament. Their resurgence will probably peak at the 2013 Federal election when reality sets in that changing governments does not solve all problems.

  13. Oh, great.

    The new Lord Mayor of Newcastle, a University town, is an anti-science crusader who declared climate science to be “unjustified, worldwide idiocy”, and who threatened to sue a neighbouring council because their CSIRO-developed sea-level maps would have an impact on his property developments.

    I wonder how this will turn out, especially with the University (apparently full of “worldwide idiots”) looking to expand and create a new campus.

    It seems his main platform is rejuvenating the old main street of the city, which has been basically abandoned for decades. Coincidentally, he has property interests there.

  14. Peter Black (former ALP MP and mayor of Broken Hill) ran for that council again. He came second in the mayoral election with 28.3%, behind the incumbent with 37.7% (the Labor candidate got 24.4%). I dunno what that makes his chances look like, but he seems to have been elected to council along with a running mate.

  15. ModLib:

    [Any scrutineers have any inside info they want to share about the reasons for the high informals? Am I right or is it just a sudden rise in people unable to count during local elections?]

    There was a generally apolitical/hostile mood from the voters coming into the polling booth which translated into a subsantial net improvement in the votes for the Libs — who are less identified with compulsory voting.

    In the booth I was one there were roughly 550 votes of which 43 were clearly informal (and others may subsequently be ruled informal later). About 10 of these clearly informal votes may well have been through carelessness rather than aggro but the other 33 were either entirely blank or in the case of about 10 or 11 of them had rather aggressive imprecations on them along the lines of those of “@invisibleobama”.

    Interestingly, of the probably accidental informals or doubtful/contested votes (about 65), about 75% seemed to be attempts to vote for the Liberal team. None were for the Green and the remainder of course spread arounf the independent and ALP teams.

    The instructions were clearly printed in big characters on the ballot, so it may well have been that a disproportionate number of Liberal voters were NESB/had limited literacy and couldn’t understand the instructions and didn’t realise they could get a replacement ballot. If my polling booth was anything to go by, the Liberals swing may have been understated.

    That said, I doubt that this is as strong a guide to Fderal politics as some would have it. People who would rather not vote and have little idea about the issues confronting councils (most people AFAICT) are likely to use council elections as their protest vote. Right now the Libs are well ahead (and in 2008 it was the ALP/Greens who were well ahead). When they are forced to confront the reality of a coalition regime in circumstances where the state government may have become unpopular, the press is scrutinising the opposition and likely new government and north of us in Queensland the gulf between pre-election reassurances and post-election action is large, they will probably vote differently.

  16. Had a great time on Saturday, handing out for a team in the North Sydney election (travelled from Canberra to help a friend out). 6am to 7pm – full on and heaps of fun. And at my booth, so much more civilised than Federal and State.

    Two reasons for the high informal rate:

    1) A lot of spoiled ballot papers – our scrutineers reported heaps of votes for written-in joke names (“Rasputin” appeared a couple of times, which made a change from “Jamie Whincup and Mark Skaife at the last Federal election in the ACT). Probably resulting from aggro about compulsory LG voting. I say ‘suck it up sweethearts’ – don’t bother complaining about the bunch of tossers representing you if you didn’t have a go at selecting your own tossers.

    2) BTL voting. In North Sydney you needed to number at least TWO boxes BTL for a formal vote. None of the HTVs I saw there pointed this out. So if you voted “1” for your Councillor of choice and no more, out you went.

    Biggest frustration – untrained scrutineers not reporting on ATL and BTL preference flows. But that’s what you get when you are an independent without party affiliations – ring in as many keen and friendly ppl as you can. All we had to go on Saturday night was FPVs, which look encouraging, but some booths had up to 20% of papers with >=2nd preferences expressed. Didn’t get our friend up as Mayor, but look like getting 1/3 of the seats on Council. Nth Sydney looks like being absolutely fascinating for the next four years . . .

  17. While Local council election are a pain in the butt, and most people cannot be bothered to vote or want to vote. There were a lot of worrying signs or very worrying signs for the Green/ALP

    Green’s vote has been collapsing for the last year, since the introduction of the carbon tax legislation All 3 election had shown the collapse of the Green vote (Qld, NT and NSW Council). For me, I call this the doctor’s wife’s returning effect, where the doctor’s wife through the environment was such a great idea, but when they actually have to pay for it and the doctor’s wife found out they have to reduce their shoe shopping from 10 to 9 every month, the Greens does not seem such a great idea.

    It is also not very good news for the ALP, when places like Liverpool, Auburn and Rockdale are showing the Liberal vote being higher then the ALP and the Liberals have decisive leds in places like Ryde, Stratfield, Parramatta, Kogarah, Randwick, Hurstville, all traditional ALP areas

    These trends are very bad for the ALP, and are showing traditional working subrubs leaving the ALP decisively. When Liverpool votes by 44%-30% for a Liberal Mayor, the ALP cannot be very happy with that election

  18. Few other things worth noting are that, in my opinion, the Greens candidate for Lord Mayor was poor, didn’t cut through and received what many constituents would consider poor press when the Herald revealed significant drug problems in her past. She’s a lovely woman, but I am not surprised that the Green vote went down across the city.

    Elsewhere, few bright spots for Labor or the Greens. Marrickville was a good Labor result that will cheer Albo and Carmel.

    Mentionable is the Labor mayor of Lismore getting over 50% of the mayoral vote and Labor easily topping the council vote with about 35%. With Labor winning the council and getting close to 60% 2pp in the Lismore area for the member of Page, Janelle Saffin, I’d love to see Labor take a shot at winning the state seat of Lismore (the state seat of Lismore should by rights be easier than the federal seat of Page). They’ve never made a slight bit of effort and correspondingly get smashed, but there is progressive sentiment that will back Labor if they put up good candidates.

  19. Phil
    I caught the morning Sydney – Lismore plane on Friday. Thomas George (Nat member for Lismore) was aboard and he literally worked the plane at the airports and on the shuttle to the plane. He even smiled at me and shook my hand and I was only going up to do some relief work for the weekend. I was impressed. With a local member like that the Labor campaign/candidate would have to be special. Still the local result and her incumbency is all to the good for Saffin.

  20. I hope I’m not the only election nerd obsessed with the stunning mayoral election for Eurobodalla, which Antony Green’s site drew to my attention. Can I have some help on whether we have 2 all-time records here?:
    1. 9.4% first pref polling for the winning candidate. And it’s not like he came from a mile back solely due to strong preference flows, because…
    2. The highest poller of first prefs got 10.59%.

    It’d be quite some election that defeated those two in their ‘worst ever winner’ category. Seriously, the whole thing reads like an elaborate and very successful prank that the whole electorate was in on. If you’re going to get even more nerdish, there’s probably at least one more candidate for an all-time record there:
    3. Seven other candidates polled first prefs within 5% of the first prefs leader.

  21. I had a look at the results for Eurobodalla Shire and it seems to have been a pretty bizarre Mayoral election. Refer ..votensw.info/eurobodalla-shire-council/mayoral

    There were twenty one candidates for Mayor. The highest vote was 10.6%, three got over 9%, eight got over 5% all but one got at least 1%. Support was therefore fairly evenly spread among the candidates with no real standouts. It seems they all had a supporter base.

    There were nine candidates from the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association, which seems very odd. Why didn’t they agree on one Mayoral candidate? They garnered 35.6% of the vote between them, although the eventual winner was not one of them.

    It makes me wonder if there some sort of spoiling operation was going on.

  22. Curiously the one place the Greens appear to be more successful (one Councillor elected) is Pittwater, a.k.a. Tony Abbott country, where Labor didn’t even bother to field a candidate. Maybe people living around Narrabeen Lakes have a greater appreciation of the problems associated with rising sea levels, local flooding and zoning approvals than their Federal member.

  23. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZE_DOn9DQVw.

    Well our local election here in Yass is done and dusted and we have quite a few new faces on Council. I am hopeful that they will be willing and able to do something about certain Council staff that have caused many headaches in the community.

    I became so frustrated in dealing with the lack of accountability, incorrect information and butt-covering mentality that I started a Facebook page late one night (www.facebook.com/ProblemsWithYassValleyCouncil). The “likes” on the page has steadily grown and more and more people are starting to post issues and concerns.

    My latest tool in the fight is a video on youtube that expresses one of our tales of woe with the Council in song. Whilst this is about one of our issues I am sure that the sentiment will resonate with others – and not just those in the Yass Valley I’m sure!

    If anyone is interested in the video you can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZE_DOn9DQVw.

  24. Is there any record of a local council election result being disputed on the grounds that successful candidates conducted their campaigns outside the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912? Usually we all witness the proliferation of illegal flutes on power poles and public property by all those who stand. While it is in conflict with the PE&EA and the Local Government Act those with money and influence get away with it each election. In Gosford the Greens and two first time Independents were conspicuous because they had no obvious illegal and non complying placement of campaign material. Putting them at a distinct disadvantage to those running for re election who conducted their campaigns outside the law. I have advice from the Elections Commissioner telling me they won’t investigate which is strange because I never asked for an investigation. I have already published complaints supported with photos of illegal and non complying use. Edward James

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