Call of the board: outer Melbourne

The latest instalment in our slow-moving journey through the 2022 federal election result covers 17 seats in Melbourne’s suburbs and outskirts.

The latest instalment of Call of the Board takes us to Melbourne’s outer suburbs and hinterland, complementing the previous episode on inner Melbourne. Earlier entries covered New South Wales in four parts (inner Sydney, outer Sydney, the northern coast and the remainder) and the Northern Territory in one.

As always, the results are illustrated with colour-coded maps indicating the pattern of polling booth results both in terms of the two-party preferred vote and swing, which you can click on to view enlarged images. The first of these shows the seats that can plainly be regarded as part of Melbourne proper, including those covered in the previous post so as to illustrate the broader themes that will emerge throughout the seat-by-seat review below, namely that the wealthier parts of Melbourne moved to Labor and the less wealthy parts went the other way. The second of the two map images, and the second part of the post, covers six seats further afield on the fringes of Melbourne.

As will repeatedly be noted below, the two-party preferred results represented in the maps obscure various broader trends on the primary vote, on which both major parties tended to lose ground. Absent the teal independents who devastated the Liberals in inner urban areas, this manifested in higher votes for the Greens and, particularly in lower-income parts of Melbourne where the effects of the lockdowns were felt most keenly, what I will repeatedly lump together as the “right-wing minor parties” – the United Australia Party, whose anti-lockdown message found an audience in Melbourne like nowhere else, together with One Nation and Liberal Democrats, who contested many more seats this time than last.

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Call of the board: inner Melbourne

A detailed look at the results of the 13 seats in and around central Melbourne from last year’s federal election.

Welcome to the latest instalment of Call of the Board, where we move on from New South Wales (see preivous entries on inner Sydney, outer Sydney, the northern coast and the remainder, together with the entry on the Northern Territory) to Victoria, specifically the 13 electorates that most readily suggest themselves to an entry on inner Melbourne.

This was particularly interesting to put together, as the area marks a convergence point for some of the election’s most interesting under-currents: the epochal turn away from the Liberals in the wealthy inner metropolitan areas that were once their foundation, contributing not only to teal independent wins in Kooyong and Goldstein, but also to Labor’s first ever win in Higgins; the Chinese community’s rebellion against the Liberals, evident through a swathe of eastern Melbourne, and the prime mover behind Labor’s gain of Chisholm; the broadening movement from Labor to the Greens in inner urban bohemia, which didn’t flip any seats here but came very close to doing so in Macnamara; and, in suburbs further afield, a swing against the tide that seemed to be the principal manifestation of Victoria’s particularly difficult experience of the pandemic, which was reflected at the state election without doing Labor serious harm on either occasion.

The analysis is broken into three parts, first looking at the “classic” two-party contests between Labor and the Liberals, then at the seats where teal independents or Greens featured in the occasion. The former are accommodated with the following map display, showing colour coding of two-party preferred vote shares and swings at booth level, which you can click on to view larger images. Maps further below offer similar representations of how things played out in Labor-versus-Greens and Liberal-versus-independent contests.

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Call of the board: southern and central New South Wales

The latest in a series examining seat results from the 2022 election cleans up the leftovers from New South Wales: marginal Gilmore and Eden-Monaro, safe Labor seats in the Illawarra, and safe Coalition seats in the interior.

So far the Call of the Board series has applied the microscope to seat results in northern New South Wales, outer Sydney, inner Sydney and the Northern Territory. This week’s instalment deals with the unfinished business in New South Wales, namely the coastal seats south of Sydney and the conservative strongholds in the state’s interior.

The maps below represent two-party preferred vote shares and swings at booth level, which you can click on to get larger images. The scale is such is that all the two-party preferred map really demonstrates is that the Coalition dominates the interior and Labor does better in the south-east (these things are a more instructive in city areas, where the population is fairly evenly spread), while the swing map points to strong Coalition performances in Calare and Parkes and a mixed picture elsewhere. For this reason there’s another map further along than offers a closer look at the two most interesting seats under consideration, namely Gilmore and Eden-Monaro.

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Call of the board: northern New South Wales

Resuming a region-by-region series looking in detail at seat results from the May 2022 federal election, with a journey along the coast north of Sydney to the Queensland border.

Welcome back to Call of the Board, in which we take a region-by-region look at the results in every seat at last year’s federal election. This got us only as far as the Northern Territory, inner Sydney and outer Sydney last year before the Victorian and New South Wales elections got in the way. The plan now is to finish off New South Wales in two stages, the first of which takes us through the Central Coast and Hunter region and then along the northern coast to the Queensland border. A common theme throughout is that Labor scored strong swings in urban concentrations, gaining them Robertson and padding out a number of margins elsewhere, but made little or no headway in rural and mining areas.

The maps below represent two-party preferred vote shares and swings at booth level, which you can click on to get larger images. To provide a closer look, the analysis is broken into two parts, starting with the populous southern end encompassing the Central Coast and Hunter Valley.

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Victory lap

A run-through of the findings of the ALP’s post-match review of its May 2022 federal election campaign.

The looming election drought means there will be a lot more long form analysis on this site going forward, including the return of the Call of the Board series, which only got so far in its region-by-region analysis of seat results at the federal election before Victoria and New South Wales intervened. First though, some unfinished business to follow on from a post in January that combed over the public version of the Liberal Party’s election post-mortem. Now comes the turn of Labor’s post-election review, conducted for the party by Greg Combet, Lenda Oshalem, Linda White and Craig Emerson. This naturally had a happier tale to tell than the Liberal report, but still had to reckon with the party’s lowest primary vote since the Great Depression.

The report says Labor’s tracking and seat polling proved broadly accurate this time, after being scarcely less off the mark than published polling in 2019. It showed Labor’s biggest problem going into the election to be the perception of the Coalition as better economic managers, and its greatest opportunity a feeling that Labor would do better on cost-of-living pressures by lifting wages. Labor responded to these insights with a “sound” campaign of broadcast advertising in which “attacks on Scott Morrison were most effective in his own voice”, and a research-backed online campaign that contrasted with an under-resourced and unplanned Liberal effort that “posted strange content”.

The fall in Labor’s primary vote was attributed to declining trust in government, tactical voting in some seats, a small-target strategy that necessitated a campaign focused on Coalition negatives, and a proliferation of minor party and independent candidates. A purposefully vague campaign theme of a “better future” succeeded in giving the Coalition little to attack, but at a cost of failing to energise soft Labor voters. The report says Labor’s strategies have not traditionally emphasised the primary vote, resulting in a failure to “call out the reckless policies and hollow rhetoric of third parties and communicate the risk of voting for a third party”.

The danger posed by a weak primary vote even in the context of a winning result was illustrated by Dai Le’s win in Fowler, which the report attributes in large part to the support Le received from Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone, who rose to prominence locally in the pandemic and scored 70% in his council re-election bid. Research was needed into why Labor’s vote had also softened in traditionally strong areas of Sydney and Melbourne, and care taken lest they go the way of Fowler.

However, Labor’s biggest weak spot was Queensland, which the report attributes to a failure to get a handle on the state’s regional complexities. The breakthrough in inner Brisbane of the Greens, who gained one seat from Labor and two it was hoping to win, was aided by their deft response to local concerns over aircraft noise and urban infill, although climate change was the main driver of the party’s support. Labor also lost ground in Tasmania, which presented a reverse image of Western Australia in having a Liberal Premier riding high on pandemic management, whom the federal government had not sought to antagonise.

The report tellingly begins with a bullet point summation of where Scott Morrison went wrong during his government’s last term, in recognition that this goes a long way towards explaining the result. The wheels began to fall off in mid-2020 with Morrison’s “major strategic error” of abandoning the bipartisanship of the early pandemic by attacking Labor Premiers more popular than he, which left him badly exposed by the subsequent failures of the vaccine rollout. Labor’s stand-alone campaign in Western Australia exploited the government’s disastrous backing of a legal challenge to the state’s closed borders with election day banners linking Anthony Albanese with Mark McGowan and Scott Morrison with Clive Palmer.

The Liberals’ widely noted problem with women went beyond sexual harassment scandals, the restoration of Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison’s impolitic assertion that protesters such as those of the Women’s March for Justice were “being met with bullets” in other countries. Women also bore much of the impact of government decisions including the early termination of free childcare during the pandemic and the exclusion of early childhood educators from JobKeeper. Another own goal by the government was to alienate the Chinese community, who “felt that the actions and rhetoric of Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton meant they were not welcome in Australia and that their businesses would be affected”. By contrast, Vietnamese voters swung against Labor, and not just those in Fowler.

Going forward, the report says the government must prepare for Coalition efforts to defeat it in outer suburban and regional seats, which must be done by providing economic opportunities through Australia’s transition to a “global renewable energy superpower”.

Coronial inquest

A precis of the Liberal Party’s Review of the 2022 Election, one of two major party federal election post-mortems published last month.

Both major parties published reviews of their federal election campaigns last month, the Liberal Party’s being conducted by former federal director Brian Loughnane and current Victorian Senator Jane Hume, and Labor’s being the work of Greg Combet, Lenda Oshalem, Linda White and Craig Emerson, the first two being listed as chairs and the latter two as panel members. To the best of my recollection, the publication of such reviews started to become standard some time in the noughties, although it was then generally made explicit that parts of the reports – presumably the most interesting bits – were redacted for internal viewing only. This post offers a summary of what the Liberal Party’s report had to say, and will be followed by a similar effort on the Labor report when I can find an idle moment for it.

In contrast to suggestions that Liberal internal polling had performed poorly during the Victorian state campaign, the report states that the party got its money’s worth out of its “benchmark” polling during the campaign, which it notes did not employ robo-polling. This polling showed the Coalition two-party preferred “improved at least 3-4% over the campaign period in the key seats polled”, although there wasn’t much evidence of this in published polling. Further detail that is provided tells a familiar story of weak support for the Liberals among young women, compounded at this election by a heavy swing among middle-aged women.

On this basis, the review reaches the uncontroversial conclusion that a perceived unresponsiveness to issues important to women was “not sufficiently and effectively addressed”. As is often the case with these reviews though, it does a more convincing job of identifying problems than solutions. The report rejects following Labor’s example by introducing quotas, calling only for “targets” for parliamentary representation and party membership with no mechanism for meeting them. It notes the difficulty of a membership becoming ever less representative of the electorate as it declines in numbers, a problem with deep causes that the listed recommendations are unlikely to overcome.

What remained of the party membership was said to have been further demoralised by widespread denial of rank-and-file preselection ballots. Delays to the process arising from factional disputes discouraged strong potential candidates from nominating and in some cases caused the wrong ones to be chosen, which was “a particularly problem in New South Wales”. State party administrations in general are said to have become dominated by factional warlords who had failed to build networks in the community. Once again though, the scope of the recommendations offered is limited: the federal executive is advised to set preselection timelines to be followed by the state divisions, and to implement a code of conduct for those involved in party affairs, “collegial and professional standards” having been found wanting in some quarters. The report rejects the notion of a US-style primary system, as advocated recently by Dominic Perrottet.

While Scott Morrison’s unpopularity is noted, the report to some extent paints the government as a victim of the pandemic, which allowed it little leeway to pay due regard to “political management” and elevated the profile of Labor Premiers to the Coalition’s disadvantage. This was accompanied by a failure to “define Labor and its leader before the campaign”, causing Anthony Albanese to appear as a “low-risk alternate Prime Minister”.

Perhaps constrained by a lack of authority to address policy issues, the report has little more to offer on the teal independent challenge than suggesting a well-resourced campaign of personal attacks might make the problem go away, notwithstanding the abject failure of such efforts during the campaign and the enthusiastic co-operation they received from News Corp (here some credit is due to The Australian columnist Katrina Grace Kelly, who in the wake of the Victorian result wondered if “sections of the electorate now conflate the party with sections of the media, which they regard as toxic, and perhaps they are voting to reject both this type of media as well as the party they think it represents”).

Other points of note: waiting until late in the campaign to announce major policies encouraged a perception that the government lacked a fourth-term agenda; the government’s initial support of Clive Palmer’s High Court action on border closures was an unforced error contributing to the party’s Western Australian debacle; and the party needs to pay closer attention to emerging social media platforms.

Call of the board: outer Sydney

Episode three in a series that will go deep into the results for all 151 lower house seats at the May 21 election, this week moving from inner to outer Sydney.

You might do best to read this post in tandem with the previous entry on inner Sydney, which in several respects produced interestingly different electoral dynamics from the seats covered here. As before, I am going off the Australian Electoral Commission’s electoral classifications here, these being the seats it designates “outer metropolitan” – except that, for the table below, Cook has been reassigned as outer metropolitan and Mackellar as inner. Note that the One Nation swings are inflated by the fact that the party contested all eleven outer metropolitan and fifteen inner metropolitan seats this time, after doing so in only three and one respectively in 2019.

Inner Sydney Outer Sydney
% Swing % Swing
Primary vote
Labor 35.2% -0.9% 36.1% -3.6%
Liberal 33.5% -7.8% 37.5% -6.2%
Greens 11.4% +1.1% 8.2% +2.1%
UAP 3.6% +1.7% 5.6% +2.7%
One Nation 2.6% +2.3% 4.7% +2.8%
Independent 12.0% +8.9% 4.8% +4.6%
Others 1.8% -5.4% 3.1% -2.5%
Labor 56.5% +5.1% 50.6% +2.6%
Liberal 43.5% -5.1% 49.4% -2.6%

As with last week, we begin with colour-coded representations of their booth results, with two-party preferred on the left and the swing on the right. Being two-party measures, these boil the contests down to Labor-versus-Liberal, including where the final preference counts involved independents (which get maps of their own further below). Click on the image for a closer look.

Now for the blow-by-blow account.

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Call of the board: inner Sydney

A detailed seat-by-seat look at the results for the 15 seats of inner Sydney at the May 21 federal election.

Way back on June 9, I launched the Call of the Board series that promised to progressively shine a light on the results for all 151 seats at the May 21 election. This started with the target of opportunity of the Northern Territory, then in the news because Anthony Albanese had blamed a gutting of Australian Electoral Commission resources for low turnout and a consequent near-defeat for Labor in Lingiari (not coincidentally, the just-launched parliamentary inquiry into the election will pay special attention to “encouraging increased electoral participation and lifting enfranchisement of First Nations People”). Since then though, I’ve done nothing. But now the ball starts rolling for real, starting with the core of the Australia’s premier (for now) city.

The Australian Electoral Commission classifies fifteen of Sydney’s seats as “inner metropolitan”, and these will be the focus of this post. The image below shows colour-coded representations of their booth results, with two-party preferred on the left and the swing on the right. Being two-party measures, these boil the contests down to Labor-versus-Liberal, including in the four seats where the final preference counts were between independents and Liberals (which get a map of their own further below) and the two that were Labor versus the Greens (Sydney and Grayndler).

Going into the election, Liberal and Labor held seven of these seats apiece, the other being Warringah, which independent Zali Steggall won from Tony Abbott in 2019. Coming out, the Liberals were reduced to three after losing Bennelong and Reid to Labor and Wentworth and North Sydney to independents. As shown in the map on the left, Labor continues to dominate a swathe of Sydney’s inner south, while the Liberals lost their grip immediately to the north. But as future instalments will more fully reveal, the picture further afield was more complicated, a premonition of which is provided by the small Liberal swings indicated by patches of blue at the westward end of the swing map.

This post will first consider the classic Labor-versus-Liberal contests out of the fifteen in alphabetical order, then turn its attention to the four seats in which the final preference counts were between Liberals and independents.

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