Australian Capital Territory election guide

A belated in-depth look at Saturday’s election in the Australian Capital Territory, where Labor is hoping to make it six in a row.

With less than a week to go, I finally have an Australian Capital Territory election guide for your reading pleasure, consisting of an overview and reviews of the contests for the territory’s five five-member electoral districts. Labor has been in power since 2001 and is aiming for its sixth successive victory – a tall order in normal circumstances made quite a lot easier by the local Liberal Party’s determination to tack far to the right of the capital’s ideological median.

That at least is my limited reading of the situation, which is based on a bare minimum of opinion polling. The only credible poll I’m aware of was conducted by uComms for the Australia Institute back in early August, which had Labor on 37.6%, compared with 38.4% at the 2016 election; the Liberals at 38.2%, compared with 36.7%; and the Greens at 14.6%, compared with 10.3%. Clubs ACT published results from an online survey it conducted of 1300 respondents, which you can read about on page 26 of its September newsletter, but it presumably didn’t involve any of the techniques that can make such a poll credible. For what it’s worth, it had similar numbers to the Australia Institute for the major parties – 36.1% for Labor and 38.4% for Liberal – but only 9.6% for the Greens.

The numbers in the 25-member Legislative Assembly are Labor 12, Liberal 11 and Greens two, after the 2016 election gave Labor three seats and Liberal two in the northern suburban electorates of Yerrabi and Ginninderra, the reverse in the southern suburbs electorate of Brindabella, and two each for Labor and Liberal plus one for the Greens in each of the central Canberra electorates of Kurrajong and Murrumbidgee. Labor’s likeliest path to defeat would involve losing seats in any two out of Yerrabi, Ginninderra and Murrumbidgee. The Liberals could perhaps win a third seat in Murrumbidgee with a 2% swing, but Yerrabi and Ginninderra would require major breakthroughs. However, an opportunity could arise courtesy of Bill Stefaniak, a former Liberal MP who is running in Ginninderra under the banner of the Belco Party – albeit that he has not been in parliament since 2008 and memories of his good works will have faded.

Antony Green is tracking the progress of pre-poll voting on his blog, and the numbers are rather startling, with 28.8% of enrolled voters already having cast their vote, compared with 7.3% at the same point in 2016. All of the pre-poll voting centres allow for electronic voting, a contingency all but unique to the Australian Capital Territory, and Antony Green reports that nearly 90% of pre-poll voters are availing themselves of it. This could potentially take some of the drama out of election night, as results from electronic voting arrive in a flood within the first hour after polling booths close.

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.

17 comments on “Australian Capital Territory election guide”

  1. If the bounce that other State governments that have handled Covid19 well is repeated in ACT, you would expect Labor to do well in this?

    Its a pity we do not get mroe polling of the ACT, given that its population is approaching the size of Tasmania’s.

  2. Redistribution means that the Liberals could win the final seat in Murrumbidgee without a swing – Ben Raue who crunched the numbers on this

  3. I could never vote for him, but Allistair Coe seems like a nice lad. He’s made a real effort to get involved in the local muslim community since becoming leader, and I assume with other religious/ethnic communities too. So I have to give credit for that.

  4. Another maybe-notable independent: Helen Cross in Yerrabi, who was a Lib MP in Molonglo 2001-04, left the party, ran as an independent and bombed out with 3%. Sixteen years later, she’s back for some reason.

  5. There is a chance the Liberals could even go backwards by getting no gains and loosing a seat in Yerrabi.

    With a 7 year old Coalition Commonwealth Government likely putting downward pressure on the Liberal vote, they are more likely to loose than win. The Liberals are most likely to win in the final term of an ALP Commonwealth Government, particularly if it is a Green backed minority government, through voters treating it as a by-election against the Commonwealth Government/balancing jurisdictions.

  6. “Labor on 37.6%, compared with 38.4% at the 2016 election; the Liberals at 38.2%, compared with 36.7%; and the Greens at 14.6%, compared with 10.3%.”

    So, Labor + Greens = 52.2% according to the opinion poll. This sounds much better for them than the combined result of the last election: 48.7%….

  7. Big A Adrian,

    LOL. He’s been milking the demographics for all they are worth, but the take away message has been “if you don’t like our candidates, we have others…” Chaotic.

    I expect he’ll “do a Zed” the moment an opportunity arises.

  8. Alpo
    “So, Labor + Greens = 52.2% according to the opinion poll. This sounds much better for them than the combined result of the last election: 48.7%….”

    Exactly. With a PR system if those numbers hold I do not see how they can lose.

  9. Socrates – Territory wide figures don’t help you much if there is not an even distribution of parties across all electorates, which there isn’t & there is a differential swing between electorates (which happened in 2016) – you might be right but no way of knowing for sure

  10. When there are only 5 electorates and they are proportional and comparatively politically even, there is much less scope for wrong winner elections compared with a larger number of more diverse electorates.

  11. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe there has ever been a majority government in the life of the ACT parliament. Or if there has, only very briefly. When liberals formed government previously, its been with the help of conservative independents. These inependents seems to have disappeared, and the only non-liberal/labor representatives has been Greens for a decade or more.

    I haven’t studied the candidates this election to see if there are any 3rd party contenders that would support a liberal minority government. Also I wonder what would happen if both labor and the libs are able to muster up a majority – labor with the greens and libs with belco party or something? I mean who decides? Its not like we have a governor here.

  12. The ALP won a bare majority in the 2004 election (9 out of 17) and held it until the 2008 election. https://www.elections.act.gov.au/elections_and_voting/past_act_legislative_assembly_elections/2004_election/list_of_elected_candidates_2004_election

    2004 was after over 8 years of Coalition Commonwealth Government. The Coalition has been in Government at Commonwealth level for over 7 years now, so the ALP may be able to get a majority, although the collapse of the Democrats (previous providers of one or more ACT crossbenchers) may have been a factor in 2004.

    It is not possible for both sides to have a majority. Crossbenchers must decide one way or the other. The Chief Minister is elected by the Assembly. The ACT Constitution appears to have been written with a mind to preventing a repeat of the Whitlam Dismissal (and the Lang Dismissal) in the ACT.

  13. The ACT Liberal’s talking points
    (1) 1 Million trees using the residue of Abbott’s green army to plant them perhaps.
    (2) Freeze rates for 4 Years how much revenue lost there.??
    (3) Lower taxes and increase services oxymoron statement if ever I heard one.
    Liberal governments everywhere DNA is cut services outsource everything to mates and bugger everyone else.
    They opposed the light rail at the last election and it is up and running oops,I have not heard ONE original idea from them nor their Federal mates for years. the only boat they should have stopped the Ruby Princess allowed in.
    Would not trust them to run a Bunning’s sausage sizzle and I have helped out at many of them.

  14. Bilko,
    The Liberals always promise ‘Lower Taxes’ but they never mention Fees and Charges, which always go up after they are elected and affect those who can least afford to pay.

    And it’s those Fees and Charges that aren’t imposed by them, so they can say they won’t be doing it, but by the privatised business owners they outsource service delivery to.

  15. C@tmomma says:
    Friday, October 16, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Bilko,
    The Liberals always promise ‘Lower Taxes’ but they never mention Fees and Charges, which always go up after they are elected and affect those who can least afford to pay.

    And it’s those Fees and Charges that aren’t imposed by them, so they can say they won’t be doing it, but by the privatised business owners they outsource service delivery to.
    Momma
    never a truer word spoken and not in Jest.
    I worked in the IT industry with Steve Dospot now passed away nice chap met up with him later when he was handing out HTV tickets said to him I would not vote Liberal in a pink fit, but we still remained friends one of the few good ones on their side.RIP
    We need a triple win NZ and ACT then QLD here holding my breath for the Trump demise over there.

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