Miranda by-election live

Live coverage of the NSW state by-election for the seat of Miranda, located in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney’s south.

# % Swing 2PP (proj.) Swing
Murray Scott (Greens) 1,729 4.3% -4.0%
Lisa Walters (Independent) 825 2.1%
Barry Collier (Labor) 18,504 46.5% 24.1% 55.3% 26.3%
George Capsis (CDP) 2,791 7.0% 3.4%
Brett Thomas (Liberal) 15,567 39.1% -22.0% 44.7% -26.3%
John Brett (Independent) 328 0.8% -3.9%
FORMAL/TURNOUT 39,744 81.7%
Informal 812 2.0% -0.7%
Booths reporting: 18 out of 18


Some morning-after observations on this remarkable result.

• The O’Farrell government appears to have pulled off a worse by-election swing than any suffered by Labor in its final term, the currently projected 26.3% swing comparing with 25.7% in Penrith, 23.1% in Ryde and 21.8% in Cabramatta. In the government’s defence, the comedown from the 2011 landslide is off an enormously higher base than Labor’s modest re-election in 2007. Some insight into this is provided by the 16.3% swing Labor picked up in November 2011, just nine months after the O’Farrell government was elected, at a by-election for the rural seat of Clarence. This passed largely unremarked at the time, as the Nationals retained the seat by a margin of 15.1%.

• It would be fascinating to know the precise impact of Labor’s polling booth volunteers from the Fire Brigade Employees Union, who looked for all the world like they had come direct from the front line but for t-shirts reading “stop O’Farrell’s fire station closures” and “firefighters say put the Liberals last”. The union had been using the campaign to castigate the government over the state of local fire services, so the coincidence of the by-election with the present bushfire emergency was highly inopportune from the Liberals’ perspective.

• Voters’ lack of appreciation at having their weekend interrupted to accommodate an outgoing politician’s career move seems to be intensifying, and is presumably much sharpened if it’s their second trip to the polling booth in as many months.

• Barry Collier may well be very popular, and he certainly gave Labor some name recognition lacking from the Liberal opposite number. However, I suspect this to be the least of the contributing factors listed here.

• Hopefully the result will serve as a corrective to the hyperbole that has been inspired by Labor’s epic defeats of the past two to three years. Labor unquestionably finds itself at a low ebb, which only looks set to get lower when the South Australian and Tasmanian elections are held in March. However, the unprecedented scale of some of Labor’s recent drubbings tells us less about the party’s competitiveness over the medium to long term than it does about the increasing volatility of the electorate. This is a sword that cuts both ways, as state Coalition parties learned on a number of occasions in the early 2000s, and the NSW Liberals were reminded today.

Election night

9.06pm. Two-party results for those pre-polls now added, together with 666 primary votes from “iVotes” for the visually or otherwise impaired.

8.52pm. Primary votes from 5460 pre-polls now added.

8.31pm. All booth results are now in, but I believe we should get some pre-polls and postals counted before the evening is done. The NSWEC’s results reporting improved considerably late in the count, so I’m guessing there were technical problems for the first two hours.

8.14pm. Another seven booths in with two-party results, leaving two to come.

8.06pm. All booths now in on the primary vote, with nine still to come on two-party preferred. The two-party preferred result above projects the preference flow from booths which have reported two-party results on to those that haven’t, so it’s very unlikely to change much.

8.03pm. Another two booths reporting on the primary vote find the Labor margin ticking below 5%, but this race was over a long time ago.

7.57pm. Two more booths have reported two-party preferred, the Labor margin being resolute in sticking between 5-6%.

7.54pm. Big round of applause to the NSWEC, which has finally gotten around to publishing some results.

7.52pm. Four more booths in on the primary vote leave the picture essentially unchanged.

7.45pm. Wasn’t looking hard enough – Antony does have the two-party numbers at booth level, so now my 2PP is based on the four booth results with preference flows extrapolated to booths with primary vote counts only (which has made practically no difference, so my preference modelling was doing its job). On top of which, another two booths have reported primary vote results.

7.39pm. Antony now has two-party results from four booths, but without raw numbers at booth level I can’t put them to use. The NSWEC has … nothing.

7.34pm. Two more booths added, now up to eight, and swing holding firm. All results courtesy of the ABC owing to a spectacularly bad performance by the NSWEC. Two-party projection still based on preference modelling.

7.31pm. I’ve now copied the result over from the ABC site, and it appears the Liberals’ concerns were real – Labor look to be romping it in. So far though the two-party result is based on my own modelled preference distribution.

7.28pm. Loads of results at the ABC, but the digit at the NSWEC remains firmly implanted.

7:26pm. Antony Green is able to tell us that “six polling places have Labor strongly placed to win”. Why the NSWEC is not able to bring us any actual results, I must leave to your imagination.

7:10pm. Someone on Twitter says there are “big swings” at the Kirrawee Primary School booth. Not very helpful I know, but all we’ve got at this stage.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Miranda by-election (full background here), with first results to come through in maybe 45 minutes to hour. Official results will be published here, but the above display will lag only very slightly behind. The table will show raw primary vote numbers and percentages, with all other figures (primary vote swing and two-party numbers) booth-matched against the 2011 election result.

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.

193 comments on “Miranda by-election live”

  1. [Sean

    What is a real man’s job?]

    Well our ST obviously makes a distinction between that and other less worthy occupations. I’d be interested to hear that myself actually.

    What is the optimum occupation for the manly man who wants his manly man-ness on display ST?? 🙂

  2. mexicanbeemer

    Posted Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1:40 am | Permalink


    What is a real man’s job?
    Liberal party/LNP/Nationals ‘real jobs”

    Journalist – TALL (Tony Abbott Liberal Liar)
    Lawyer – Hockey Bishop Turnbull and others
    Policy Advisor employed by Liberal Party
    Employee IPA
    CEO – Tourism etc

  3. imacca

    Posted Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 1:48 am | Permalink


    What is a real man’s job?

    In Shorn’s case – the hurly burly of queuing for Centrelink and choir boy at the local catholic Church?

  4. [What is a real man’s job?]

    I suspect Sean would apply for a janitorial position collecting dropped soap in prisons and consider it a manly occupation.

  5. Morning all. Amazing result. Is it possible to compare this result with the booth by booth results from the Federal election? Annersley has to take a lot of the blame on this, but well done Barry Collier!

    As Psephos said this is a very middle class area, so gives NSW Labor great hope if it can distance itself from the past.

  6. BTW for the record I am very happy to be very wrong about this result. I did not see it coming. I happened to be in the area a few weeks ago and perceived no mood for change like this. I suppose the Annesley decision came after that. He must have annoyed a lot of people.

  7. If William is right then this would make yet another election in which politicians get themselves bitten by AGW. Here are some of the AGW-specific contributing factors that may have had a bearing on Miranda:

    (1) A record hot year for Australia. Bushfire smoke over the electorate on the day would have been noticed by the majority of the electors.
    (2) Unusual weather patterns have created highly unusual fire conditions. The RFS keeps talking about ‘uncharted territory’. The whole of AGW is uncharted territory.
    (3) AGW adaptation risks and costs and responses have been badly miscalculated. Increased fire risks over the past forty years have been both modelled and in for areas (the US) well-documented. Interestly, opportunities for fuel reduction burning have been sharply circumscribed by hot and dry conditions. If ADF exercises have triggered one of the fires then an implication is that Defence is going to have to improve its fire risk management.
    (4) Rather than put in additional fire response resources the politicians miscalculated AGW and took some out.
    (5) AGW as a phenomenum in and of itself is apolitical. Depending on the CO2 inputs it will come, regardless of who is premier or prime minister.

    Nurse Credlin had better take note.

  8. BW,

    I’ve often wondered about the impact of natural disasters on voters. In recent times we’ve had major disasters in Victoria (Black Saturday) and Queensland (The Floods). In both instances the incumbant Governments seemed to handle the crisis well. Yet in both cases both these Governments were tipped out at the next election. I should say this also happened in 1983 in Victoria (Ash Wednesday).

    Now, sure the crowd always attribute other mundane reasons like popularity and incompetence as the reasons for these losses. However, there may be a sense of people wanting to blame someone for these events and choosing their elected representatives as the the target.

    I’m sure the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times” comes in to play somewhere.

  9. frednk,

    Perhaps our AS should be forced to wear a yellow star whenever they go out in public.

    That way we would know that they are less than human and have no human rights.

  10. This reporter loves Tanya


  11. [
    Greensborough Growler
    Posted Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink


    Perhaps our AS should be forced to wear a yellow star whenever they go out in public.

    That way we would know that they are less than human and have no human rights.

    Gas chambers will fix the issue, I wonder, amy good designs left from world war 2.

  12. Re Miranda by-election

    The firies had something to do with the size of the swing but the swing was evident in the pre-polls and based on other local issues.

    Barry Collier said on radio this morning there were five reasons for Labor’s win.

    1a. Overdevelopment, high density housing.
    1b. Allegations of favours and windfall profits from re zoning and Lib connections to developers.
    2. Miranda Fire Station closing
    3. Cutting the heart out of TAFE, this is really hurting people.
    4. Hospitals unable to cope with increasing patient load
    5. Train Services being cut.

    O’farrell was interviewed on the radio this morning and the interviewer pressed him on the idea that local anger about overdevelopment was more important.

    O’Farrell sidestepped this by blaming Labor and saying previous planning decisions by Labor caused voter anger. So he partly agreed with the idea but said he had little to do with it. That is as delusional as it gets.

    O’Farrell pushed the line that the by-election loss was expected and victory in the seat was “beyond reach once Barry Collier was preselected.” To quote him, “the experience and profile of Barry Collier made a huge difference, along with anger about the previous member “breaking his contract with voters”.

    O’Farrell said there are concerns around the activities and behaviour of the local council. He specified the problem was about “allegations” about Liberals on the local council.

    When a Liberal Premier blames Liberal local council corruption rather than admit the Shire doesn’t want high rise, it is clear he not listening to the locals.

    This result seems to be about the usual NIMBY stuff, as people do not want increased density of housing. Yes the voters are concerned about corruption but they are more concerned about what came first; redevelopment and more people coming to live next door to them.

  13. Greensborough Growler @ 159

    “I should say this also happened in 1983 in Victoria (Ash Wednesday).”

    No, it didn’t. The Thompson Liberal government lost office in Victoria in April 1982.

    When the Ash Wednesday fires occurred, the 1983 federal election campaign was underway and the Fraser government was subsequently defeated.

  14. Given this is a record swing, I don’t think one can describe it as party of some normal cycle. You cannot link it to an unpopular government either (given the O’Farrell Govt is not yet more unpopular than Labor when they suffered the next worse swing in Penrith).

    So what is it? NSW in particular is the centre of Australia’s Murdochracy and whingeocracy. Nothing is ever good enough – despite record material weatlh, too many folks are still not happy and want to blame all woes on Government.

    Abbott and O’Farrell (ably assited by hate radio and Murdoch) rode on the backs of anti-government sentiment. But has it now got to the point when their anti-government attacks have resulted in an attack on governance itself? BB foreshadowed this and I now fear his predictions are correct.

    Are we entering a period of Italian-style polility, where governments are turfed at every occassion?

    Have the famous baseball bats returned and will they now almost always be wielded?

    The volitity in places like Queensland and NSW where they ferrally swing in double digits at elections is quite scary.

    Good luck to governments of all stripes!

  15. The Abbott effect? SA Labor hasn’t given up, despite a lousy few weeks, and the SA Libs are spooked. I don’t recall a new government that has had such a poor start as Abbott’s. It’s too easy to blame Miranda solely on local factors. I would hazard a guess that the Pollie perks saga has had an impact as well which combined with other factors translated to this extraordinary result.

  16. @Phil Vee So he partly agreed with the idea but said he had little to do with it. That is as delusional as it gets.

    I suspect BOF was telling the truth given that he is allowed by the cabinet to be the affable and harmless face of the government whilst they get on with divvying up the spoils.

  17. Trying to extrapolate any significant messages for either State or Federal politics is frankly a waste of time without supporting evidence that proves what voters were thinking when voting.

  18. I had a look at a map of Miranda and noted that it included the suburbs of Jannali and Como, both of which were badly affected by the 1994 NSW Bushfires. Jan nail lost about 100 homes, with no doubt many more being affected. A look at the map shows that it borders the Royal National Park, which was nearly burnt out in 1994. So any cutbacks to Emergency Services, especially when brought to voters’ attention by the fires would have gone down very badly with many in the Miranda electorate. That may have been a major contributor to the extraordinary swing.

  19. Has O’Farrell changed planning laws to allow greater housing density in Sydney? If so, good on him. One of the reasons so many houses are lost to fires is uncontrolled sprawl on the fringes of the cities. We should be trying to contain the spread of suburban areas and encouraging higher density housing in older parts of the cities. Australian cities are ridiculously low-density compared to almost anywhere else.

  20. Psephos@177

    Has O’Farrell changed planning laws to allow greater housing density in Sydney?

    The previous Labor government had already done this, but BOF has gone further taking some approval powers away from local councils and allowing the mates and shonks to get approvals at the state level – trampling local concerns.

    As many downside aspects to this as benefits. Resented locally in even tory strongholds in some parts of the North Shore and also more widely.

  21. Local councils will never allow greater housing density. Our current model of local government, with local governments looking after areas a few kilometers across in the inner suburbs, seems to be just too parochial and too much hostage to NIMBY activists to be able to make sensible decisions on housing density, transport or many other issues. Perhaps if we amalgamated the 40-odd councils covering Sydney to about 8 to 12 we might get some better decision-making.

  22. 177

    The Liberals are in favour of development, often wherever. I have some memory of the current NSW government being in favour of fringe land release.

  23. Steve777@179

    Local councils will never allow greater housing density.

    Its already happening. Some of the councils throughout Sydney have been given “quotas” of what additional high density dwellings they are expected to allow to be developed. This just didn’t happen with the arrival of BOF – it was happening before.

    Look at the kerfuffle when some modest apartment developments where recently approved in the Lindfield area.

    Drive down the Pacific Highway from St Leonards Station to North Sydney and count the number of additional new apartment blocks going up. Also in the streets around St Leonards Station itself and nearby Crows Nest – multiple projects.

    The old high rise hotel opposite North Sydney Girls high on Pacific Highway is another example, it was gutted and rebuilt as apartments, three separate developments on the same block of land with the main tower block 16 or so levels.

    Then there are the apartment blocks approved where work hasn’t yet started.

    Then the developments in the Chatswood area etc.

  24. The Tea Party in the USA gets ready for a counter-attack on fellow Repubs who” surrendered “to Obama

    a sure sign of their growing extremism…but great news for Obama and the Dems
    I notice the Tea Party’s once admirer Sen Bernardi is keeping a very still tongue…and nothing on Menzies House site

  25. Re: Sydney medium/high density infill and planning laws

    The funny thing is that I seem to recall when BO’F was elected that the previous ALP policy of having a mandated percentage of inner city infill to meet new housing demand was scrapped or watered down almost immediately with promises of more outer suburban greenfields sites being released – presumably an election promise of some sort.

    But yes, they seem to have been converted to pushing density (as it is inevitable in keeping/making Sydney, or any of our large cities, functional of course).

    And the infamous ‘part 3a’ of the planning laws was repealed, which was the mechanism the ALP implemented to override objections to projects of state significance (ie above a certain monetary threshold presumably).

    But the LNP has replaced the old planning process with its part 3a ‘escape clause’ with what seems to be a shonky system of ‘pre-approvals’, as I understand it, where a local panel – not even necessarily involving the councils or community representatives – specify the criteria that should be met for development in a particular area, and then all developments that meet those criteria are basically automatically approved.

    Now, I think this kind of idea shows some lateral thinking which is to be commended – and the idea of getting stakeholders (the community, council, etc) to sign off on what they will accept beforehand is a noble idea – but I think as an approach it is doomed to failure because the point at which communities become engaged is when there are concrete proposals for a specific building to go in a specific place. Abstract notions of what general criteria might apply aren’t going to motivate people, but by the time the community is aware of specific proposals being approved it is too late for them to have any input, and of course they are going to then be unhappy with the process.

    I don’t have too much time for NIMBYism in general, but a process that seems to be using a failure of the way humans prioritize issues and how they process information to sneak development through seems like a bad idea, not to mention that the approving authorities for this plan are, as I understand it, poorly specified and thus open to abuse/stacking/vested interests, destroying the whole concept of getting the ‘community’ to pre-commit to what they will accept. That only works if the community is genuinely involved in developing the guidelines in the first place.

    And on top of that the planning minister seems to have had no problems in basically railroading whatever his thought for the day is through regardless of not having part 3a anymore…

  26. [Has O’Farrell changed planning laws to allow greater housing density in Sydney? If so, good on him. One of the reasons so many houses are lost to fires is uncontrolled sprawl on the fringes of the cities. We should be trying to contain the spread of suburban areas and encouraging higher density housing in older parts of the cities. Australian cities are ridiculously low-density compared to almost anywhere else.]

    I agree with you completely Adam and would add that the very people who don’t want the ‘high density’ still want all the services and quality of life etc that people who do the right thing and live in high density get.

    It is absurd that politicians pander to them.

    Yeah you’d have more trains if there were more people here. The parks would be better looked after, the community facilities would be better … etc etc etc.

  27. Psephos@177

    Has O’Farrell changed planning laws to allow greater housing density in Sydney? If so, good on him. One of the reasons so many houses are lost to fires is uncontrolled sprawl on the fringes of the cities. We should be trying to contain the spread of suburban areas and encouraging higher density housing in older parts of the cities. Australian cities are ridiculously low-density compared to almost anywhere else.

    I agree with this from an ecological impact perspective too. Urban sprawl has serious and avoidable impacts on the area and integrity of remaining native bushland.

  28. The problem with planning laws sidestepping local councils is not higher density per se, but the risk of corrupt deals. Medium density has more impacts and means developers should be paying contribution $ per apartment for the cost of local parkland, parking, paving footpaths, bus stops, local services (power and water upgrades) etc.

    If sidestepping local Council means also sidestepping the mechanisms by which Council gets the developers to pay for the supporting infrastructure and services then the locals are correct to complain – they are getting ripped off. Anyone can put units on the market cheaply if they get someone else to foot the bill for all the supporting works.

  29. The analysis that Barry Collier’s personality wasn’t so important is dead wrong. Barry is well known by the electorate as a good person and therefore for not being an ALP head office corrupt Obeid stooge. For the voters of Miranda it’s the result that they always wanted – Barry but certainly minus Obeid, McDonald, the Terrigals and Sussex Street and with an O’Farrell Government.

  30. I think this assessment by William is the take-home message:

    [ However, the unprecedented scale of some of Labor’s recent drubbings tells us less about the party’s competitiveness over the medium to long term than it does about the increasing volatility of the electorate.]

  31. I am still in awe over the 26% Swing. I have never seen this in all my time watching polls. Certainly not in a by-election from a first term government. There still does not appear to be any definitive answer. one on four people changed their mind. This means that Farrell has a real task ahead of himself if he is to remain in government. Clearly the electorate feels they have kicked ass and that the ALP has learned its lesson.

    Well done NSW..

  32. This suggests to me Labor if united can win again.
    also it appears that the electorate is very volatile.
    did rough sums of Cook using the Miranda by election figures
    with no swing in the rest of the electorate… get 53% lib vote against 47% ALP

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