New England by-election live

A New England by-election discussion thread, and (later) live commentary of the count.

9.25pm. Most booths in now. Labor’s primary vote swing has limped to 4%, while Joyce’s has remained in double figures and the two-party swing has settled at around 6%.

8.10pm. Now up from 66 to 74 booths counted out of 104, and Labor’s position seems to be slowly improving as larger booths report, their two-party swing now nudging up to 3.8% and the projected two-party swing to the Nationals now below 7%.

8.06pm. The ABC site has been a while updating.

7.31pm. The vote tally remains dominated by rural booths, but so far this is a remarkable result for Barnaby Joyce, and a troubling one for Labor, who have so far gained 1.9% with 24.1% available from Tony Windsor.

7.21pm. Actually, we do have the Hillvue booth from Tamworth, where Joyce’s swing is a below average 1.6%. The spread of non-Nationals votes is about the same though.

7.18pm. The only outstanding point of interest is whether we will see different patterns when results come in from Armidale and Tamworth.

7.11pm. It would seem a surprisingly high share of the Tony Windsor vote is going to Joyce, which it might have been thought would go to Rob Taber or Labor.

7.07pm. With 15 booths reporting out of 112, it’s rather impressive that Barnaby Joyce is projected to pick up a 10% two-party swing against Labor.

7.00pm. Antony Green now projecting Labor to run second, with a mere 8.2% of the primary vote, such is Joyce’s dominance. Surely though Labor couldn’t fail to improve on 2016 with Tony Windsor’s 22.6% up for grabs.

6.55pm. Turns out I wasn’t looking hard enough for the ABC’s booth level numbers, which are here.

6.52pm. There are now 12 booths in on the primary vote, and in the four I’ve looked at, Barnaby Joyce’s primary vote is up in all them, from a little to a lot. Antony Green is projecting 70.7% for Joyce on the primary vote, so I think it’s safe to say he’s not in trouble.

6.41pm. With two booths to work with, Antony Green projects a 71.6% Nationals 2PP, which inflates to 85.4% if he extracts a result from a third booth with primary vote numbers only by assuming preferences will flow as they did in the other two booths. So either the swing to the Nationals in the third booth is very strong, or the Nationals have done extremely well out of preferences in the first two booths – as it figures they would, since this is a strong Nationals area. All of which amounts to a lot of analysis of not very much.

6.36pm. Now there are two booths in on two-party, and the AEC is projecting a 71.55-28.45 win for Joyce over Labor, although Labor are actually running fourth though. Tiny booths though that will behave differently from the ones in the big towns.

6.33pm. Two very small rural booths in, and apparently Barnaby Joyce’s vote is up 8.1%. Beyond that there’s no booth-level reporting available anywhere, so I’m not going to be able to offer much depth of analysis.

6.17pm. An ALP activist on Twitter reports a 22% drop in turnout in Armidale South.

6pm. Polls have closed. Rural booths should start reporting very shortly indeed, probably inside half an hour.

6am. Barnaby Joyce’s moment of truth arrives today in the form of the New England by-election. Despite a certain amount of late campaign excitement, the by-election has not attracted much interest on the betting markets, with Ladbrokes continuing to rate Joyce an unbackable $1.01 favourite. My summary of the situation is here; live coverage of the count will commence at 6pm. Until then, here’s a thread for discussion.

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.

167 comments on “New England by-election live”

  1. It’s hard to call the voters of NE stupid. They know that with the Deputy Prime Minister representing them, they are going to get bags and bags of pork. End of …

  2. ab11
    They are doing extremely well: free loans to farmers, the infrastructure fund, a free railway to boost their land values and commodity values, the chemicals organization, lots of rural tax breaks, heavily subsidized NBN, backpackers and students ripped off mercilessly with no restraint for rural labour, and so on and so forth.

  3. I would expect a significant if not strong sympathy vote for Joyce due to a perception of unfairness in his term having been cut short.

  4. Tetsujin,

    Actually there have three by-elections caused by s44 – Wills (1992), Lindsay (1996), now New England (2017), and so “a few” is a valid description. However, I will concede that that is still a small sample size.

  5. My point, though, was to suggest that voters don’t seem to much like being made to go and re-elect their local member before they would normally have to, and whenever the voters have had an opportunity to voice their concerns, they have re-elected the incumbent with an increased majority.

  6. The Wills by-election was caused by Hawke resigning after his dumping. Phil Cleary was eventually disqualified but a “S.44 byelection” was not held due to the proximity of the 1993 general election.
    So the number stands at 2

  7. > “My point, though, was to suggest that voters don’t seem to much like being made to go and re-elect their local member before they would normally have to, and whenever the voters have had an opportunity to voice their concerns, they have re-elected the incumbent with an increased majority.”

    Maybe that’s true & if Bennelong & a couple more byelections give similar pro-incumbent swings then it will be confirmed.

    On the other hand, both Lindsay & New England have special circumstances.

    Lindsay happened soon after the 1996 change in government, when Howard was in his honeymoon period, so a pro-government swing was not unexpected.

    The New England result is affected by things such as Tony Windsor not running and Barnaby’s pork-barreling of his electorate.

    That said, I did expect some anti-government swing & am surprised there wasn’t. Perhaps New England is doing well economically & is just happy with the current government.

  8. Lots of people clutching at straws a bit here. It gives me no joy to say it but this was clearly a very strong result for Barnaby. No it’s not a seat Labor could realistically win, but that doesn’t make 11.5% in any way an acceptable result with no serious third-party competition. At the 2016 election there were only two seats where Labor did worse than that: New England and Indi, both of which had strong independents. They did better in Maranoa (where they had One Nation). They did better in Kennedy (where they had Katter). They did better in Cowper (where they had Oakeshott). I doubt this has much relevance for the next election and think it’s more likely to be a personal victory for Joyce than for the National Party, but it’s still a thumping win and playing that down is pretty futile.

    Also: Labor’s Senate vote at the last election? 18.8%. That they couldn’t make it to 20% after a beyond-chaotic week in politics and with a flailing and deeply unpopular government is not great.

  9. Also interestingly: while recent evidence strongly supports the idea that voters will support incumbents in by-elections due to some sort of disqualification, in very early elections this was not the case. In the first twenty years after federation there were five by-elections where the incumbent re-contested. They were:

    *East Sydney, 1903. George Reid resigned over the redistribution in NSW and was easily re-elected (no one significant ran against him). Turnout for this by-election was tiny, at 15% (possibly the lowest ever federally?).
    *Melbourne, 1904. Incumbent Protectionist Sir Malcolm McEacharn had been re-elected in 1903 with a 77-vote majority, but this was disallowed due to irregularities in ballots. He was defeated by his 1903 opponent, Labour’s Dr William Maloney, with a 2.86% swing.
    *Riverina, 1904. Free Trader Robert Blackwood had defeated incumbent Protectionist John Chanter in 1903 by 5 votes. Unsurprisingly this was voided, and Chanter defeated Blackwood in the by-election with a 1.7% swing. In both of 1904’s by-elections, turnout went up.
    *Echuca, 1907. Anti-Socialist Albert Palmer had defeated Thomas Kennedy, Protectionist MP for the abolished Moira, by 32 votes. Palmer was re-elected with a 1.7% swing.
    *Ballaarat, 1920. Nationalist Edwin Kerby famously defeated Labor MP Charles McGrath by a single vote in 1919. After a successful challenge, McGrath easily won the vote.

    After Ballaarat, an incumbent didn’t recontest again until Jackie Kelly, and Joyce is the first since that. Would be interesting to look at state results.

  10. Don is very knowledgeable about New England, but I couldn’t let the suggestion about the rusted on National vote pass unchallenged because I don’t think that it’s supported by history.

    Just nine years ago the National Party seemed on its beam ends in what had been its Northern NSW Heartland. The New England independents controlled a swath of territory from the Hastings River (Lyne Oakshott, Port Macquarie Besseling) onto the Tablelands and Slopes (Northern Tablelands Torbay, New England Windsor, Tamworth Draper). When Peter Bailey ran for the National Party in Northern Tablelands in 2003 , he got just 15.4% of the primary vote. The National Party machinery was aged, dispirited and short of funds.

    When you look at specific areas over time, you find the same patterns of change. Tamworth, now National Party heartland, has been Country or National Party held for just 47 of the last 100 years. Here the main competition has come from the Liberal Party equivalents or independents. On the Liverpool Plains and some of the Slopes grain areas, Labor was very competitive for much of the early period and especially in 1941.

    On the Tablelands, Labor had a seat from 1920 to 1927 in the then multi-member seat while later holding Armidale/Northern Tablelands from 1953 to 1956 and then from 1978 to 1987.

    So things change.

  11. Hi Jim
    And it seemed the same on the North Coast with Richmond (formerly the personal fief of The Anthonys) now strong Labor – this one is due to demographic change and Page becoming a swing seat. There is even a state Green in Ballina and Labor has held some of the state seats in recent times- this would have been unbelievable before 1990. The only labor representation before that federally was Cowper 1961-3 when Frank McGuren beat earle Page but the old bastard died before he could be told. (Old Mate Paul Sekfy came within 1100 votes in 2007)

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