Essential Research should be breaking the New Year polling drought this week. Until then, three things:
• I have taken a look at state population growth trends to ascertain what the states’ House of Representatives seat entitlements are likely to be when the matter is determined a year after the next election. The table below shows how the numbers looked at the determinations following the 2013 and 2016 elections, how they are right now, and where they are headed according to current trends. Note the exact size of the House of Representatives depends on the vagaries of how these numbers are rounded: it will increase to 151 at the next election, because the last round decreed extra seats for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory while penalising only the ever-declining South Australia. Note also that Tasmania is constitutionally entitled to five seats come what may.
It appears quite certain Western Australia will lose the sixteenth seat it gained in 2016; that Victoria could potentially gain a seat for the second electoral cycle in a row; that the Northern Territory is in big danger of reverting to one seat after eighteen years with two; and that it’s touch-and-go for the third seat the Australian Capital Territory will gain at the coming election. Western Australia was lucky not to lose a seat last time, and has since fallen well below threshold, while Victoria’s growth rate of 0.3 seats a year leaves it projected to just make it over the line. Northern Territory’s entitlement fell below two after the 2001 election, but parliament came up with a legislative fiddle to preserve its second seat. Its population then went through a period of growth on the back of the resources boom, which has lately been in reverse. The ACT’s numbers tend to wax with Labor governments and wane with Coalition ones, owing to the parties’ respective attitudes to the public service, so the result of the coming election may have a bearing here.
• The Australian reports that Cathy McGowan, the independent member for Indi, “will make an announcement about her political future on Monday morning”. One senses the announcement will be that she is not seeking re-election, as the Voices for Indi group that was behind her successful campaigns in 2013 and 2016 has seen fit to anoint her successor: Helen Haines, a Wangaratta-based midwife and rural health researcher. However, McGowan’s position was that she would wait to see who the group chose before deciding, and Haines says she will happily leave the field clear for McGowan if she wants to continue. The unsuccessful candidates included McGowan’s sister, local lawyer Helen McGowan. It is anticipated that Senator Bridget McKenzie, who recently relocated her electorate office to Wodonga, will run for the Nationals if McGowan retires.
• The Nine Network reports Liberal internal polling shows it headed for a near total wipeout in Melbourne, with only Tim Wilson in Goldstein looking good to hang on. However, this was reportedly conducted at the time of the state election, which raises two issues: whether its proximity confused respondents, and why it whoever leaked it should be doing so now in particular.