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”

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  1. From the could bite you on the arse Dept.

    [Sam Dastyari ‏@samdastyari 1m
    The ALP Miranda campaign was Labor’s best ever by-election campaign. Congrats to the brilliant NSW Labor team. #nswpol]

  2. A 26% swing? That would be some kind of record against a first-term government, especially one that has done nothing much wrong and with a hopelessly tainted Oppo Leader. O’Farrell must wonder what he has to do to keep the suburbs happy.

  3. Yes… but people weren’t really reading too much into a Lib internal when most thought they were playing the expectations games.

  4. At Kirrawee Public where I voted, I counted 15 Libs handing out HTV and 3 ALP. I did speak to the (one) fire fighter there and he was off duty after a very long shift the night before. The size of the swing does surprise me.

  5. Well. Didn’t expect a swing like that.

    It’s a by-election, so reading too much into it is a fraught exercise – the punters could be punishing the LNP for putting up a candidate that ups sticks and says “yeah, didn’t really want to do that after all”.

    It could be about the fires and LNP cuts to fire fighter funding.

    It could be a general boot-the-government-up-the-arse-without-there-being-any-repercussions to keep the government on its toes.

    It could be approval of Fed ALP appearing to get its leadership under control.

    It could be “we’ve hammered the ALP enough, they seem to have learnt something”.

    Who knows.

  6. Liberal candidate Brett Thomas now a 3 time loser (1999 and 2003 in Menai, now 2013 in Miranda). I wonder if the Liberal Party corruption at the Sutherland Council had anything to do with it?

  7. In my mind, this is a combination of a) a massively disproportionate swing in 2011 b) a sense that O’Farrell, while not having done much bad… hasn’t really don’t much at all c) the anti-ALP venom has now largely been purged d) a fairly well-known former member being in the mix.

  8. More silly possible explanations:

    * Collier’s personal vote is actually around 20%… ok maybe not.

    * The voters still feel like having a whinge and they can’t whinge about any ALP government so they have to have a sook and throw things at the LNP. This wouldn’t bode well for the stability of governments in general in Australia into the future.

    * Tony Abbott really has shaken people out of their complacency…

  9. As a local, many people seem to be irritated about Annesley. But also, concerns about over-development (Libs on local council raised height restrictions on new developments and changed residential densities). Plus Barry Collier has a good profile (in spite of his previous comments about the electorate).

  10. To be fair, William, it’s not actually NSWEC’s job to keep the world informed. It’s their job to count the votes. In the UK, let us recall, there are no progress figures issued at all. Constituency figures are announced only when the count is complete.

  11. What’s really weird about this is that Miranda is solidly middle-class suburbia. If this was a by-election in Smithfield, say, you could explain it as Labor’s alienated base vote coming home. But there’s almost no Labor base vote in these suburbs. Even Collier’s original win was seen as something of a fluke. This is positively supernatural.

  12. Oh, and the Greens have suffered terribly again.

    Perhaps the Greens, in general, have lost the sense of being a protest vote. If the punters were having a general whinge I would have thought the Greens would have picked up votes.

    Or did the Greens just not devote much resource to this by-election?

  13. [I know you’re trying to search for explanations ST… but that doesn’t explain A 27% SWING…]

    OK, so what DOES explain it? That 55% people in middle-class Sydney suddenly want Labor back?

  14. People dont like by-elections. Indulgence of quitting 2.5 years in – for another career.

    Collier is a good protest vote choice – into his 60’s not going to be a long term holder of the seat.

    Poor choice of Liberal candidate.

    Robbo – the people have spoken. Talent this good – he needs to be found a federal seat pronto!

  15. ESJ –

    People dont like by-elections. Indulgence of quitting 2.5 years in – for another career.

    Yeah, that does seem like the most likely explanation.

    Robbo is still a dead-opposition-leader-walking.

  16. Psephos,
    As per usual,your opinion is based upon your own inflated opinion of your opinions.

    The O’Farrell government moved, not one, but two Censure Motions against John Robertson this week in NSW State Parliament in order to try and tarnish him and the ALP in the run-up to this By-election, and it obviously didn’t work if these results are anything to go by. So, even though, yes, Luke Foley is doing good work, as are all the Labor team, they must be being led by Robertson better than your jaundiced view suggests.

    Not to mention that the campaign team, battle-hardened from the federal election, and under the capable auspices of our new State Secretary, Jamie Clements, a personal friend, have, yet again, out-campaigned the Liberals.

    So, just showing that, when the Liberals don’t have a full court Murdoch press behind them, with the lapdogs in the ABC and other media singing their tune, and they have some very dodgy runs on the board that voters can use to compare their fly-blown rhetoric with, then they don’t come off half as well.

    Or, to put it another way, when the NSW Labor Party, and, by extension, the Labor Party as a whole, do stop the bickering, get their act together and perform as political professionals, then the electorate flocks back to them.

    Or, to put it in a way that Tony Abbott should take heed of: Labor are the natural party of government, and the Liberals only get voted in if the ALP do not have their act together.

    Tonight’s result is proof of that.

  17. [If this was a by-election in Smithfield, say, you could explain it as Labor’s alienated base vote coming home. But there’s almost no Labor base vote in these suburbs. Even Collier’s original win was seen as something of a fluke. This is positively supernatural.]

    OC I’m amazed too. Can’t believe that electorate has forgiven NSW Labor even tho thd Lib

  18. Sorry OC – this tablet hates me sometimes.

    The Lib bloke was a twit but that can’t explain such a big swing while Obeid etc are back in headlines

  19. I think local factors were at play… so even if the state-wide result isn’t that reflective, I wouldn’t get too excited. Plus consider that when there’s a by-election, people tend to pay more attention.

  20. I think the firies presence at polling booths today was very potent.
    People in NSW in particular love the firies and for many, today would have been the first time they had heard of O’Farrells shocking cuts to emergency services.
    Having a firefighter, fully kitted out handing out HTV cards against the govt is a very powerful message. Don’t underestimate it.

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