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.