Casuarina by-election live

The first of our two by-elections today is for the Northern Territory seat of Casuarina, which is being vacated by the retirement of Labor’s Kon Vatskalis.

Election count

7.51pm. The Nakara 2PP was also better for Labor than my projection, so their raw two-party margin is now 5.1%. I’m projecting it to come down to 3.0%, but it will probably be a bit higher than that because there are no absent votes at a by-election, which is always a difficulty when you’re trying to project general election results on to a by-election. So I’m certainly calling it for Labor, but with a fairly solid swing to the CLP. Although that may tell you about Kon Vatskalis’s personal vote more than the overall standing of the parties.

7.38pm. The Tiwi 2PP result was better for Labor than my projection: 722-548, rather than 694-576. I’m now posting a 2.0% margin for Labor, but it should probably be slightly higher than that given that I’m still using the old preference projection for the Nakara primary vote result.

7.30pm. Actually, the 3.4% just cited is Labor’s raw lead. I’m actually projecting them winning by 1.5%. Which, with actual 2PP numbers not yet in and some postals and such still outstanding, means you wouldn’t quite write the CLP off yet.

7.22pm. Primary votes are now in from the two main booths, and based on my rough preference calculation (which gives Labor 80% of Greens preferences and 40% of everybody else’s), the large Nakara booth has swung to the CLP by 9.6% (2026 votes), and the smaller Tiwi booth has swung 3.9% (1270 votes). All told, I’m projecting a Labor win by 252 votes, or 3.4%, from a 7.8% swing. But the CLP wouldn’t be conceding yet.

7.03pm. When I said a 7.9% swing just now, that was only referring to the postals. Combining postals and the Darwin pre-poll, I make it 6.4%.

7.00pm. The 2PP from those postals is 64-62 in favour of CLP, not 67-59 as per my projection. Those three votes make a big difference to the swing calculation, putting it at 7.9% rather than 10.3%.

6.55pm. Ha! My preference distribution guesstimate from the Darwin pre-poll booth was exactly right: 127 votes to CLP, 124 to Labor. We’ve now also got 126 postals, and they’re very interesting – a 10.3% swing to the CLP, going off the preference distribution that served me so well last time. Given the 9.3% margin, this could prove very close indeed if the pattern is followed at the two main booths.

6.42pm. Antony Green has the swing at 4.6%, but we’re both guessing at this stage.

6.37pm. The Darwin pre-poll booth has reported its 251 votes, and it has Labor’s primary vote down about 14% on the election — although that’s partly because there were only two candidates at the election, and the 10.4% Greens vote in particular had to come from somewhere. The CLP vote is about unchanged, and based on my back-of-envelope preference calculation, there is a two-party swing to them of 3.7%. That wouldn’t be enough for them to win the seat, but it would be better for them than they might have expected.


Two by-elections today: one for the Western Australian seat of Vasse (on which you can read my thoughts here, as well as here if you’re a Crikey subscriber), where polls will close at 9pm eastern standard time; and one in the Northern Territory seat of Casuarina, where polls close at 7:30pm EST. Casuarina is being vacated by the retirement of Kon Vatskalis, the Labor member since 2001. It covers Darwin’s northernmost coastal suburbs of Tiwi and Brinkin, along with Alawa and Nakara immediately inland.

Casuarina has existed as an electorate since the parliament was established in 1974, and was held by the Country Liberal Party for the entirety of its history until Vatskalis’s victory in 2001. The member from 1974 to 1994 was Nick Dondas, who went on to federal parliament for a term after winning what was then the single Northern Territory electorate in 1996. The vacated seat was contested at the 1994 election by television newsreader Peter Adamson for the CLP and ABC Radio presenter Clare Martin for Labor. Adamson prevailed, and Martin would instead find a way to parliament in the Fannie Bay electorate in 1995.

Casuarina was among the seats gained by Labor for the first time when Martin led the party to its first ever victory in 2001, Kon Vatskalis prevailing with a 3.5% margin after an 11.4% swing. Katskalis consolidated with another big swing of 15.5% in the 2005 landslide, which was dented only slightly by successive swings of 4.8% in 2008 and 4.9% in 2012, leaving Labor with its current margin of 9.3%. Given the comfortable margin and the troubled history of the CLP government, the expectation is that Labor will retain the seat. The two by-elections held so far this term, in the Darwin seat of Wanguri and the Palmerston seat of Blain, have both produced double-digit swings to Labor.

Labor’s candidate is 27-year-old Lauren Moss, a 27-year-old health campaigner and youth advocate. Moss won the support of the locally dominant Right, which was seen as a snub to Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie, who favoured Darwin alderman Kate Worden. Also in the field was Matthew Gardiner, an organiser with United Voice, who was disadvantaged by his alignment with the Left. The CLP candidate is Harry Kypreos, a general practitioner from Lyons. Moss and Kypreos are joined on the ballot paper by a further five candidates, making for one candidate per 783 voters: Michael Connard of the Greens, Trudy Campbell of the Citizens Electoral Council, and independents George Mamouzellos, Trevor Jenkins and Jack Childers Henderson.

Updates on the results will be added to this post as they are published. Reflecting the small size of the territory’s electorates, there are only two polling booths for the by-election: Nakara Primary School and Dripstone Middle School, which are located within half a kilometre of each other.

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.

8 comments on “Casuarina by-election live”

  1. One thing that the swing seems to indicate is a considerable personal vote for the retiring member – as you would expect, in such a small electorate.

  2. NT electorates are so Micky Mouse that I wonder if the concepts of swings has validity. 200 people change their mind and we have a massive swing of 4 %
    It reminds me of an old Leunig cartoon.

  3. Which I can’t find on the internet but was from the times of J B-P. Two rural types are talking and on says “you may be right”. The caption is “massive swing in Queensland”

  4. So I’m certainly calling it for Labor, but with a fairly solid swing to the CLP. Although that may tell you about Kon Vatskalis’s personal vote more than the overall standing of the parties.

    To me, that says that Vatskalis chose the right time to retire – at a by-election with the CLP Government on the nose, the loss of his personal vote was sufficiently attenuated that the ALP look likely to keep the seat. This will give the new member time to build up a personal vote of their own before the general election.

  5. “there are only two polling booths”

    Looxury! When we lived in the electorate of Wanguri we had one – Wanguri Primary School or Preschool I think. But it was nice to have a chat to the Labor and CLP candidates who basically spent the whole day at the entrance.

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