Next federal election pendulum (provisional)

A pendulum for the next federal election, assuming new draft boundaries in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT are adopted as is.

Following the recent publication of draft new boundaries for Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, we now have some idea of what the state of play will be going into the next election, albeit that said boundaries are now subject to a process of public submissions and possible revision. The only jurisdictions that will retain their boundaries from the 2016 election will be New South Wales and Western Australia, redistributions for Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory having been done and dusted since the last election.

The next election will be for a House of Representatives of 151 seats, ending a period with 150 seats that began in 2001. This is down to rounding in the formula by which states’ populations are converted into seat entitlements, which on this occasion caused Victoria to gain a thirty-seventh seat and the Australian Capital Territory to tip over to a third, balanced only by the loss of a seat for South Australia, which has now gone from thirteen to ten since the parliament was enlarged to roughly its present size in 1984.

The changes have been generally favourable to Labor, most noticeably in that the new seat in Victoria is a Labor lock on the western edge of Melbourne, and a third Australian Capital Territory seat amounts to three safe seats for Labor where formerly there were two. The ACT previously tipped over for a third seat at the 1996 election, but the electorate of Namadji proved short-lived, with the territory reverting to two seats in 1998, and remaining just below the threshold ever since. The Victorian redistribution has also made Dunkley in south-eastern Melbourne a notionally Labor seat, and has brought Corangamite, now to be called Cox, right down to the wire. Antony Green’s and Ben Raue’s estimates have it fractionally inside the Coalition column; mine has it fractionally tipping over to Labor.

The table at the bottom is a pendulum-style listing of the new margins, based on my own determinations for the finalisised and draft redistributions. The outer columns record the margin changes in the redistributions, where applicable (plus or minus Coalition or Labor depending on which side of the pendulum they land). Since I have Cox/Corangamite in the Labor column, I get 77 seats in the Coalition column, including three they don’t hold (Mayo, held by Rebekha Sharkie of the Nick Xenophon Team, and Indi and Kennedy, held by independents Cathy McGowan and Bob Katter), and 74 in the Labor column, including two they don’t hold (Andrew Wilkie’s seat of Clark, as Denison will now be called, and Adam Bandt’s seat of Melbourne).

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Friday free-for-all

As the wheels begin to turn ahead of a federal election that might be held later this year, a round-up of recent preselection news.

No BludgerTrack update this week as there were no new opinion polls, which might be an issue from time to time now that Essential Research has gone from weekly to fortnightly. Newspoll and Essential will presumably both report next week, followed by a week off for Easter. So in lieu of any polling to analyse, I offer one of my occasional updates on federal preselection action.

Most of this relates to Queensland, where a federal redistribution will formally take effect next week – not that you would notice, as my calculations at the time the draft was published last year found no seat’s margin had changed by more than 0.6%. Nonetheless, BludgerTrack will henceforth be using the post-redistribution margins for it seats result projections. Redistributions for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, which will each gain a new seat, and South Australia, which will lose one, are presently in their early stages, and are likely to be finalised around September.

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BludgerTrack: 52.4-47.6 to Labor

Little change this week on the federal polling aggregate. Also featured: preselection news, minor polling snippets, and the latest changes to the configuration of the Senate.

There were two polls this week, one a little better for the Coalition than usual (52-48 from ReachTEL), one a little worse (54-46 from Essential Research). These add up to not much change on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, albeit that the Coalition are up one on the seat aggregates for Victoria and Western Australia. No new numbers this week for the leadership ratings.

Latest developments on the ever-changing face of the Senate:

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New year news (week two)

A bunch of state polling, particularly from Victoria, and two items of preselection news.

Another random assortment of polling and preselection news to tide us over until the federal polling season resumes:

• Essential Research has broken the poll drought to the extent of releasing state voting intention results, compiled from the polling it conducted between October and December. The results find Labor ahead in all five states, with Tasmania not covered. This includes a breakthrough 51-49 lead in New South Wales, after they were slightly behind in each quarterly poll going back to April-June 2016; a 51-49 lead in Victoria, after they led either 52-48 or 53-47 going back to October-December 2015; a 52-48 lead in Queensland, from primary vote results well in line with the state election held during the period; and a new peak of 57-43 in Western Australia. In South Australia, Labor is credited with a lead of 51-49, from primary vote numbers which are, typically for Essential Research, less good for Nick Xenophon’s SA Best than Newspoll/Galaxy: Labor 34%, Liberal 31%, SA Best 22%.

The Age has ReachTEL polls of two Victorian state seats conducted on Friday, prompted by the current hot button issue in the state’s politics, namely “crime and anti-social behaviour”. The poll targeted two Labor-held seats at the opposite ends of outer Melbourne, one safe (Tarneit in the west, margin 14.6%), the other marginal (Cranbourne in the south-east, margin 2.3%). After excluding the higher-than-usual undecided (14.5% in Cranbourne, 15.5% in Tarneit), the primary votes in Cranbourne are Labor 40% (down from 43.4% at the last election), Liberal 40% (down from 41.3%) and Greens 7% (up from 4.2%); in Tarneit, Labor 43% (down from 46.8%), Liberal 36% (up from 26.4%), Greens 10% (up from 9.0%). Substantial majorities in both electorates consider youth crime a worsening problem, believe “the main issues with youth crime concern gangs of African origin”, and rate that they are, indeed, less likely to go out at night than they were twelve months ago. The bad news for the Liberals is that very strong majorities in both seats (74.6-25.4 in Tarneit, 66.5-33.5) feel Daniel Andrews would be more effective than Matthew Guy at dealing with the issue.

Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports on the latest flare-up in an ongoing feud between Ian Goodenough, member for the safe Liberal seat of Moore in Perth’s northern suburbs, and party player Simon Ehrenfeld, whose preselection for the corresponding state seat of Hillarys before the last state election was overturned by the party’s state council. The report includes intimations that Goodenough may have a fight of his own in the preselection for the next election, with those ubiquitous “party sources” rating him a “waste of a safe seat“, particularly in light of Christian Porter’s dangerous position in Pearce.

• Not long after Andrew Bartlett replaced Larissa Waters as a Queensland Greens Senator following the latter’s Section 44-related disqualification, the two are set to go head-to-head for preselection at the next election. Sonia Kohlbacher of AAP reports that Ben Pennings, “anti-Adani advocate and former party employee”, has also nominated, although he’s presumably a long shot. The ballot of party members will begin on February 16, with the result to be announced on March 26.

New year news

What’s next for Kristina Keneally; the trouble with Victorian Labor; George Brandis’s Senate vacancy; new hopefuls for a resurgent ALP in Western Australia; and more.

Ring in the new year with two months of accumulated news concerning preselections for the next federal election – not counting matters arising from Section 44, which will be dealt with in a separate post during the January lull in opinion poll news.

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Monday miscellany

An assembly of Section 44 detritus and recent federal preselection news.

Some Section 44 and recent preselection news to kick off a sorely needed new federal politics thread:

• The Australian Electoral Commission will today push the button on Senate recounts mandated by the High Court to determine replacements for Fiona Nash (New South Wales, Nationals), Larissa Waters (Greens, Queensland) and Scott Ludlam (Greens, Western Australia). It is a known known that this will result in the election of, respectively, Hollie Hughes, Andrew Bartlett and Jordon Steele-John. The first of these raises a complication in that Hughes is from the Liberals rather than Nationals, which upsets finely calibrated provisions of the coalition agreement.

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Sunday snippets

A whole bunch of preselection news, plus retrospective findings from an Australia Institute survey on the Rudd government’s handling of the global financial crisis.

Three bits of opinion polling news:

• As you can see in the post below this one, there is a poll of Queensland state voting intention in today’s Sunday Mail newspaper. This presumably means a result on federal voting intention from the same poll can be expected this evening.

• An in-house survey from The Australia Institute examines “public attitudes to the federal government’s handling of the global financial crisis, ten years on”. The Labor government of the time is remembered as having done a good job, with 57-24 breaking in favour of the proposition that “Australians should be proud of how its government handled the GFC”. Other findings are a 62-22 split in favour of the proposition that a recession would have unfolded without “large fiscal stimulus”; 48-31 considering borrowing to fund the stimulus was the right thing to do; 45-37 lining up against the proposition that it would have been better to go without stimulus to avoid further debt; and, more narrowly, 42-37 opposed to the notion that the fiscal stimulus policies were “poorly designed and excessive”.

• A ReachTEL poll for GetUp! on same-sex marriage, targeting six seats in Queensland and Western Australia with Coalition MPs with undeclared positions on the subject, finds support for same-sex marriage at over 50% in Hasluck, Moncrieff, Ryan, Swan and Tangney, and at 48% in Stirling with 42% opposed. Similar proportions of respondents favour a free vote being held in parliament “as soon as possible”.

And a whole bunch on preselection, where balls are already starting to roll ahead of a federal election still nearly two years away:

• Western Australia’s Liberal Party has confirmed Slade Brockman, former chief-of-staff to Mathias Cormann, to fill the casual Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Chris Back. Brockman won 89 votes out of 131 at a vote of the party’s state council held on July 22, from a field that also included former state MPs Michael Sutherland and Mark Lewis.

• The New South Wales ALP’s Left faction has endorsed Tim Ayres, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, to take a factionally reserved Senate position presently occupied by Doug Cameron, who will not contest the next election. The Australian reports the ballot was boycotted by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, who were apparently angered by the AMWU’s lock on a seat that stands to be filled consecutively by three of the union’s leaders (George Campbell, Doug Cameron and now Tim Ayres).

Samantha Hutchison of The Australian reports that Michael Danby, Labor’s member for Melbourne Ports since 1998, is “facing pressure to bow out” at the next election. Labor has held the seat since 1906, but Danby was given a two-pronged scare at the last election, only narrowly edging the Greens by 24,340 votes to 23,387 to survive to the final count, and then emerging with a 1.4% margin over the Liberals, down from 2.2% in 2013. According to the report, Ari Suss, a Linfox executive and former staffer to Steve Bracks who shares Danby’s Jewish background (together with Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, Melbourne is one of two seats in the country where over 10% of the population identifies as Jewish). The Greens have already preselected their candidate from 2016, Steph Hodgins-May, whom Danby placed last on his how-to-vote card after she pulled out of a debate organised by Zionism Victoria.

Katie Burgess of the Canberra Times reports preselection reforms in Labor’s Australian Capital Territory branch have been “criticised by the party’s right as a way for the left to gain control of a possible third federal seat”, which the territory stands to gain with the latest population-related entitlement determination. The changes have dispensed with requirements that members be branch members for at least 12 months and attend a certain number of meetings in a year to be eligible to vote in preselection ballots, which will reportedly triple the voter base. Kirsten Lawson of the Canberra Times earlier reported that the most commonly mentioned name for a new position secured by the Left was Angie Drake, staffer to Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry and unsuccessful candidate for Brindabella at last year’s territory election.

Sky News reports that John Ruddick, a prominent proponent of reforms to democratise the party’s preselection process, as endorsed a fortnight ago at a special party convention, will challenge Trent Zimmerman for preselection in his seat of North Sydney. Zimmerman is a moderate factional operative, and one of the Liberals’ four openly gay federal MPs.

• State upper house MP Mehreen Faruqi has announced she will seek preselection to lead the party’s Senate ticket at the next election, setting up a contest with Lee Rhiannon should she choose to nominate again, which is yet to be determined.

BludgerTrack: 52.3-47.7 to Labor

Another static reading of the BludgerTrack opinion poll aggregate, plus some preselection news.

This week’s reading of BludgerTrack, supplemented only by the usual weekly result from Essential Research, is another big load of nothing, the only movement being a gain for the Coalition on the seat projection in Western Australia, balanced by a loss in Victoria. One Nation has bumped downwards for the second week in a row, but this is very likely a statistical artefact. BludgerTrack is making no effort to bias adjust for One Nation, which is recording stronger numbers from Newspoll (11% in the last poll) than Essential Research (down to 6% this week). Since Newspoll hasn’t reported for three weeks, Essential’s numbers are presently carrying greater weight. If the Newspoll that will presumably be out tonight or tomorrow is true to form, expect One Nation to tick back upwards on BludgerTrack next week. Nothing new this week on leadership ratings.


Latika Bourke of Fairfax reveals that leaked nomination papers reveal the five contestants the Western Australian Liberal Senate vacancy of Chris Back, whose resignation took effect in the middle of last month. The front-runner out of an all male line-up is said to be Slade Brockman, a former staffer to local conservative heavyweight Mathias Cormann. Also on the list are David Barton, a physiotherapist; Gabi Ghasseb, a Lebanese-born and Bunbury-based businessman; and two entrants on the Liberals’ Battle of the Somme-length casualty list at the March state election: Michael Sutherland, former Speaker and member for the Mount Lawley, and Mark Lewis, former Agriculture Minister and upper house member for Mining and Pastoral region. Noting the absence of women, Bourke reports that Erin Watson-Lynn, a director of AsiaLink said to be aligned with Julie Bishop and the moderate tendency, was considering nominating but failed to find support.

• As the federal parliamentary term enters its second year, we’re beginning to hear the first murmurings about preselections for the next election. Tom McIlroy of The Canberra Times reports Liberal nominees for Eden-Monaro will include former Army combat engineer Nigel Catchlove, and that “international relations expert and Navy veteran Jerry Nockles is considering a tilt”. Nationals federal director Ben Hindmarsh says the party is considering fielding a candidate in the seat for the first time since 1993. State upper house MP Bronnie Taylor is mentioned as a possible contender, odd career move though that would be.

• With the retirement of Thomas George at the next state election, the Byron Shire Echo reports that the Nationals will conduct an open primary style “community preselection” to choose a new candidate in Lismore, which they very nearly lost to the Greens in 2015.

• The Australian Parliamentary Library brings us a review of last year’s election and a look at what would happen in the event that an early election required a mini-redistribution, both by Damon Muller.

• If you’ve ever been wondering what happened to content that used to be accessible on the website before the redesign removed the sidebar, you might find now an answer on my newly reupholstered personal website, At the very least you’ll be able to access the historical BludgerTrack charts, comment moderation guidelines and links to all my federal, state and territory election guides going back to 2004 (albeit that some of these have lost their formatting and are a bit of a dog’s breakfast). I hope to use this site a lot more in future for things the Crikey architecture can’t accommodate.