NSW election: photo finishes

UPDATE: Results in: Greens 20, Coalition (Nationals) 21, Hanson 22. Final upper house result: Coalition 11, Labor 5, Greens 3, Christian Democratic 1, Shooters and Fishers 1.

Tuesday, April 12. I’ve allowed this post to go dormant since a week after the election, since when the last lower house seat of Balmain was decided in the Greens’ favour. The big news now is that the button will be pushed on the Legislative Council count this morning, and that Pauline Hanson’s chances have firmed considerably after she moved ahead of not only the third Green, but also the eleventh Coalition candidate. This leaves these three candidates battling for the last two places. The general expectation was that Labor preferences would put the Greens ahead of Hanson, but there now seems an even money chance that she will win a seat all the same. Antony Green explains all. I’ve changed the time stamp on this post to move it to the top of the page, to allow easier access for anyone who wants to comment on the events as they unfold.

Thursday. The NSWEC hasn’t updated the figures, but the ABC results and various news reports tell us absent votes have boosted the Greens to a 218 vote lead over Labor, which Verity Firth will now have to rein in on independent and minor party preferences. Another coat of paint has been removed from Nathan Rees’ lead in Toongabbie, but his lead may be enough.

Wednesday. Labor’s lead has narrowed in Toongabbie, East Hills continues to drift away from them and Balmain remains as much of a wild card as it always was. However, Noreen Hay now looks safe in Wollongong. Nothing today from Oatley.

Tuesday. No further progress in East Hills or Balmain, but Oatley has slipped from Labor’s grasp in today’s counting and the margin in Wollongong has been cut still finer. The latter will come down to absent votes, none of which have been added yet – a clear trend one way or the other would decide the result.

Monday. Late counting has seen any hope for Labor go in Monaro and almost certainly Swansea as well, and things are souring for them in Wollongong as well. East Hills and Oatley are still too close to call, and Balmain remains a wild card. The numbers are thus Coalition 67, Labor 19 and independents three with four in doubt, one of which could go to the Greens. The other turn-up today is that Legislative Council counting has put Pauline Hanson on to the ABC computer’s projection to win the final seat. Antony Green has written a post on why he thinks this unlikely but not impossible – more on this at the bottom of the page.

Sunday. Excluding seats where the ABC computer has the margin at less than 2 per cent, the numbers currently stand at Coalition 64 (Liberal 47 and Nationals 17), Labor 18 and three independents. That leaves eight seats “in doubt”, although in some cases not really. These will be dealt with in turn below. The tables show the two-candidate preferred counts using the most complete figures available, swings for each type of vote matched against the equivalent result from 2007, the number of exhausted votes, the total number of formal votes counted and – to give some sense of how many votes there might be outstanding for a given vote type – the total number of such votes from 2007.

The NSWEC publishes “election night” and “post-election night” figures of the polling booth results, with the latter being the re-checks. In some cases the latter are not fully completed, and it is these partly complete figures which show on the electorate summary pages on the NSWEC site (although the results table on the index page uses the election night figures). Where this is the case, I have used the complete election night figures rather than the incomplete post-election night ones.

EAST HILLS (Margin: 14.1%)

Wednesday. Continues to drift away from Labor, with 3742 absent votes increasing the Liberal lead from 207 to 303.

Sunday. The Liberals led by two whole votes on polling booth figures, but they have gained ground today with 1860 pre-poll votes breaking 954-741 their way.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 15,315 50.0% 15,318 50.0% -14.0% 2,970 33,603 34,578
Absent 1,483 48.4% 1,579 51.6% -19.3% 541 3,603 2,400
Postal 0 0 0 0 2,260
Pre-Poll 741 43.7% 954 56.3% -17.5% 165 1,860 1,916
Other 0 0 0 0 188
TOTAL 17,539 49.6% 17,851 50.4% -14.6% 3,676 0 188
Projection 49.5% 50.5% -14.6%

OATLEY (Margin: 14.4%)

Tuesday. Labor’s gain on pre-polls has been pretty much reversed by the addition of 3000 postals which have added 232 to the Liberal margin, now 321.

Sunday. The Liberal candidate had a 332 vote lead on polling booth votes, but Labor member Kevin Greene has chased down 243 with the addition of 3055 pre-polls.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 15,397 49.5% 15,727 50.5% -14.7% 2,218 33,342 33,965
Absent 0 0 0 0 2,947
Postal 1,333 45.9% 1,568 54.1% -17.8% 168 3,069 3,023
Pre-Poll 1,538 54.3% 1,294 45.7% -11.7% 220 3,052 2,348
Other 89 50.0% 89 50.0% -6.9% 16 99 125
TOTAL 18,357 49.6% 18,678 50.4% -14.7% 2,622 99 125
Projection 49.5% 50.5% -14.8%

SWANSEA (Margin: 10.8%)

Wednesday. Another 400 postal votes added, breaking 194 to 160 and increasing the very secure Liberal lead to 825.

Tuesday. Labor has picked up 43 votes from 3462 postals, which have gone 1544-1501, but it’s too little too late.

Sunday. Labor’s Robert Coombs trailed by 491 votes on the polling booths, and has gone a further 318 votes backwards with the addition of 1883 pre-polls and 43 institution votes.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 14,556 49.1% 15,064 50.9% -11.8% 5,528 35,148 35,360
Absent 377 49.5% 385 50.5% -8.7% 155 917 3,078
Postal 1,704 50.1% 1,695 49.9% -15.0% 463 3,862 3,209
Pre-Poll 660 40.5% 968 59.5% -16.7% 255 1,883 1,727
Other 12 35.3% 22 64.7% -32.0% 9 43 120
TOTAL 17,309 48.8% 18,134 51.2% -12.1% 6,410 43 120
Projection 48.6% 51.4% -12.3%

WOLLONGONG (Labor vs Independent)

Wednesday. Absent votes have indeed behaved different to pre-polls and postals, favouring Labor 615-445. This has increased Noreen Hay’s lead to 442, enough for her to claim victory.

Tuesday. Another 1406 postals have maintained the trend of the first 1783 in shaving 111 off the Labor lead, which is now down to 263. However, with pre-polls presumably done with and the addition of postal votes down to a trickle, most outstanding votes are absents, and these may well behave very differently.

Monday. The two-candidate count between Labor’s Noreen Hay and independent challenger Gordon Bradbery made Hay appear home and hosed, with a margin of 2.5 per cent off the polling booth votes. However, subsequent counting has gone disastrously for her: pre-polls have favoured Bradbery by a remarkable 2173-1300, and he has further gained 766-680 on postals. This has whittled Hay’s lead down to 389, with the trend running heavily against her.

LABOR INDEPENDENT Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 13,938 52.5% 12,605 47.5% 818 33,455 34,723
Absent 615 58.0% 445 42.0% 0 0 3,648
Postal 1,201 46.3% 1,393 53.7% 92 3,189 2,844
Pre-Poll 1,300 37.4% 2,173 62.6% 90 4,359 1,644
Other 27 54.0% 23 46.0% 0 0 622
TOTAL 17,081 50.7% 16,639 49.3% 1,000 0 622

MONARO (Margin: 6.3%)

Monday. With 674 pre-polls breaking 3578-2890 the Nationals’ way, John Barilaro now holds an unassailable of 1275.

Sunday. The Nationals have a 1 per cent lead which it would take something remarkable to undo. The addition of 4300 pre-polls haven’t provided it, going 2108 to 1957 the way of Nationals candidate John Barilaro, who now leads Labor member Steve Whan by 754 votes.

BALMAIN (Margin: 3.8% versus Greens)

Thursday. The Greens have reportedly moved to a 203 vote lead over Labor on the primary vote, but the NSWEC figures haven’t been updated. The ABC figure has the lead at 218. Their challenge now is to keep that lead with the distribution of independent and minor party preferences, including those of Maire Sheehan, a council rival of Greens candidate Jamie Parker who polled 1373 votes.

Wednesday. About 4300 more votes have been added, mostly postals, and they have very much reflected the overall trend in slightly favouring the Liberal candidate (1468 votes) with Labor (1303) just shading the Greens (1274) for second place. However, this does not reflect the trend of 2007 when Labor did much better on postals than on ordinary votes (44.3% compared with 39.6%), and the Greens much worse (24.1% compared with 29.5%). The two main types of vote yet to be added, pre-polls and absents, were much stronger for the Greens. However, any lead the Greens open with the addition of these votes will have to be defended against a probable flow of independent preferences to Labor. In any event, Labor are currently ahead of the Greens by 139 votes, up from 111.

Sunday. The Liberals hold a narrow lead on the primary vote, with Labor and the Greens mixing it on 30.4 per cent and 30.0 per cent respectively. Given the likelihood the Liberals will stay in front, the NSWEC’s Labor-versus-Greens count is of little use. What matters is who out of Labor and the Greens finishes second, as I would assume that whichever of the two makes it to second will then overtake the Liberals on the other’s preferences. The precedent of 2007, when post-election night counting saw Labor’s vote fall 0.3 per cent and the Greens hold steady, suggests there won’t be much in it.


Thursday. Pre-polls and “enrolment new votes” have gone 546-521 in favour of the Liberals, and Nathan Rees’s lead is now down to 194.

Wednesday. Absents and pre-polls have strongly favoured the Liberals with Nathan Rees holding his ground on postals; taken together, the Labor lead is down to 285.

Sunday Nathan Rees led by 409 with the counting of polling booth votes, but he’s down 16 with the addition of 945 pre-polls and institution votes.

Newcastle. With the Liberals 1.8 per cent in front, I won’t be making the effort to follow this one.


Monday. It is clear enough that the Coalition will win 11 of the 21 new seats, Labor five, the Greens two, and the Christian Democratic Party and Shooters and Fishers one apiece. The final seat is a tussle between Labor, the Greens and, improbably, Pauline Hanson. As of today the ABC computer projection has Hanson in front, but this projection assumes no preferences, which is a very unsafe assumption where Labor and Greens candidates are involved. The most likely result is that whoever out of Labor and the Greens is excluded will deliver the seats to the other on preferences – especially if it’s Labor which is excluded, given their how-to-vote card directed preferences to the Greens. However, as Antony Green notes, Pauline Hanson does uniquely well among minor candidates in polling strongly on the below-the-line votes that remain to be counted, so there is some chance she could get up thanks to exhausting Greens votes if Labor stays ahead of them.i>

Like wow — wipeout

Surveying the damage region by region:

  ALP L-NP GRN 2011 2007 2003
Inner Sydney 29.3% 36.9% 21.2% 47.4% 59.6% 64.1%
  -12.9% 12.0% 0.0% -12.2% -4.6%
Northern Sydney 12.2% 67.6% 14.0% 19.2% 35.5% 42.3%
  -8.8% 16.2% 2.5% -16.2% -6.9%
Western Sydney 41.3% 40.4% 6.9% 50.6% 68.3% 71.5%
  -16.3% 16.2% 0.9% -17.7% -3.2%
Southern Sydney 35.1% 49.6% 8.7% 42.5% 56.7% 62.2%
  -12.1% 13.6% 1.5% -14.3% -5.4%
Outer Sydney 24.7% 53.0% 8.1% 34.2% 57.8% 60.8%
  -23.5% 17.3% 1.3% -23.6% -3.0%
SYDNEY 28.5% 50.7% 11.1% 37.9% 55.3% 59.9%
-14.5% 15.7% 1.6% -17.5% -4.5%
Central Coast 28.7% 51.5% 12.0% 37.6% 51.9% 57.5%
  -12.9% 12.9% 4.8% -14.3% -5.6%
Hunter Region 30.9% 36.1% 8.8% 47.0% 59.8% 60.5%
  -12.9% 12.6% -0.3% -12.8% -0.7%
Illawarra 35.2% 34.5% 12.3% 51.5% 68.7% 69.6%
  -19.0% 12.0% 1.7% -17.2% -0.9%
North Coast 12.7% 60.7% 13.1% 22.9% 35.9% 41.5%
  -11.7% 12.4% 2.6% -13.0% -5.6%
Regional 16.5% 59.7% 6.1% 25.8% 36.8% 40.6%
  -11.0% 29.5% 0.5% -11.0% -3.8%
NON-SYDNEY 22.7% 50.8% 9.1% 34.2% 46.1% 48.5%
-14.5% 15.7% 1.6% -11.9% -2.4%

Inner Sydney (6 seats). All seats had been held by Labor except Sydney; now they have lost Drummoyne and Coogee to the Liberals and are tussling with the Greens for Balmain and Marrickville (though they are probably home and hosed in the latter). Labor got pummelled by a 23.9 per cent swing in Drummoyne, and in the mid-teens in Heffron and Coogee. However, their vote held up a lot better where the campaign had been framed in the Labor-versus-Greens terms. The method I’ve used for approximating Labor-versus-Liberal two-party results doesn’t work so well when non-major parties take a big share of the vote, which applies to most of this area.

Northern Sydney (15 seats). By this I mean “the Liberal area” (albeit that it includes Ryde, which Labor won in 2007 – but which now has a Liberal margin of 26 per cent), and to this end I’ve stretched the definition of northern Sydney to include Vaucluse. This area recorded Labor’s lowest primary vote swing simply because they had the least to lose here – a swing as big as in outer Sydney would have sent them beyond the twilight zone and into negative territory.

Western Sydney (19 seats). All were held by Labor going into the election: now they’ve lost Camden, Campbelltown, Granville, Londonderry, Parramatta, Smithfield and Strathfield, and are going down to the wire in East Hills. The two worst swings were in seats they retained: Cabramatta and Lakemba. The 9.1 per cent swing in Macquarie Fields was about 5 per cent better than anything else in the region, and probably has something to do with the unusually big swing last time.

Southern Sydney (6 seats). This includes Liberal-held Cronulla and five Labor held-seats in the St George/Sutherland/Maroubra area. Labor has lost Miranda, Rockdale and probably Oatley. Swings in the Labor seats were in the 13 to 15 per cent range except Miranda, where a very slight margin was annihilated by a 21.8 per cent swing.

Outer Sydney (6 seats). The new suburbs are always the most volatile, and the 23.6 per cent two-party swing reflects this. Four of the seats recorded swings in the 20s, peaking with Riverstone at a giddy 29.9 per cent. Labor won all six seats at the 2007 election – now there are Liberal margins ranging from 4.7 per cent in Blue Mountains to 24.8 per cent in Menai.

Central Coast (4 seats). Featuring Terrigal, which the Liberals already held, and Gosford, Wyong and The Entrance, which they didn’t before but do now. Labor suffered a tellingly smaller swing in Wyong (9.5 per cent), where member David Harris stood and fought, than in Gosford (16.5 per cent) and The Entrance (17.1 per cent) which were vacated by sitting members.

Hunter Region (8 seats). Previously six Labor seats, one Liberal seat and an independent seat, now five Liberal seats, two Labor seats are an independent. Newcastle, Charlestown, Maitland and Swansea went Liberal, while Cessnock and Wallsend stayed Labor. None of the independents who were being touted proved a serious contender: Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate managed less than half what he scored when he nearly won the seat in 2007 to finish in fourth place.

Illawarra (5 seats). All Labor before, now two Labor (Shellharbour and Keira), two Liberal (Kiama and Heathcote) with one going down to the wire between Labor member Noreen Hay and independent challenger Gordon Bradbery, who is the only potential new independent.

North Coast (7 seats). Six Nationals seats have become seven with Peter Besseling’s defeat in Port Macquarie.

Regional (17 seats). Previously accounted for two Labor (Bathurst and Monaro) and two independent (Tamworth and Dubbo) seats, now a conservative clean sweep. All four gains have been by the Nationals, most memorably Bathurst with its 36.3 per cent swing. Liberal held seats in this group are Albury, Bega, Goulburn, South Coast and Wagga Wagga).

The 2011 results in the table are based on almost the entire polling booth count, with a couple of booths still outstanding here and there. The swings are in comparison with the comparable figures from the last election. The two-party figures presented above are based on estimates in the many cases that were not Labor-versus-Coalition two-party contests, and are perhaps a little lacking in finesse. I have basically extrapolated the preference flows for the seats where there are Labor-versus-Coalition on to the ones where there aren’t. Independent and minor party preferences appeared to have divide about 24 per cent to Labor and 20 per cent to the Coalition, with 56 per cent exhausting. This compared with 30 per cent to Labor, 20 per cent to the Coalition and 50 per cent exhausting in 2007. The 2011 figure was determined with reference to 63 electorates where there were a) complete polling booth counts, and b) Labor-versus-Coalition preference figures available.

The upper house looks like 11 seats for the Coalition, five for Labor, three for the Greens and one each for Shooters and Fishers and the Christian Democratic Party, although Labor could perhaps yet poach the third Greens’ seat. If not, the numbers in the chamber will be Coalition 19 (12 Liberals and seven Nationals), Labor 14, Greens five, Shooters and Fishers two, Christian Democratic Party two.

New South Wales election live

11.33pm. The count in Granville is finally progressing, and the Liberals are staying in front: 39.7 per cent counted, 2.4 per cent ahead on the ABC projection, 3.0 per cent ahead on the two-candidate count of 19 out of 27 booths.

10.33pm. Oh yeah, the upper house. We’ve got about 37 per cent counted, and I think we’re looking at Coalition 11, Labor five, Greens three and one apiece for the Fred Nile group (on 3.1 per cent) and Shooters and Fishers (on 3.8 per cent). Pauline Hanson and John Hatton are falling short on 1.8 per cent and 1.2 per cent.

10.21pm. Seats still in play. Balmain, where Labor must first keep their nose in front of the Greens and then run down the Liberals on preferences – which I imagine they would. Macquarie Fields (Labor versus Liberal) and Wollongong (Labor versus independent) could go either way. The Liberals have their nose ahead in Oatley and Swansea, and late counting being what it is would probably be favoured to stay there. Labor with their nose in front in Toongabbie and East Hills. Snail’s pace count makes Granville impossible to call. That means I’ve got Liberal on 48, Nationals on 18, Labor on 16 and independents on two, plus eight doubtful. The doubtful seats include six Labor-versus-Liberal, one Labor-versus-independent and one Labor-Liberal-Greens.

10.02pm. Carmel Tebbutt looks home and hosed: 1.8 per cent ahead on the ABC projection, 1.9 per cent ahead on the two-candidate count of 24 booths out of 27: 13,109 to 12,162 in raw terms.

9.56pm. Slow count in Granville for some reason.

9.53pm. The ABC computer is projecting a 1.4 per cent win by the indepenent in Wollongong, but projections in Labor-versus-independent contests can be a bit speculative. On the raw two-candidate figure, with 22 booths added out of 29, he leads by 0.2 per cent. Against that, major parties tend to do better in late counting.

9.52pm. Wollongong: Luke Foley sounding optimistic about holding now.

9.28pm. Macquarie Fields: as the count has swollen from 50.5 to 71 per cent, the ABC projection has been locked on 50-50. No update for a while on the actual two-party count.

9.23pm. Monaro: lost sight of this one, but it looks like the Nationals are going to get up.

9.22pm. Toongabbie: I beg your pardon, my previous two mentions of this said he was behind – he is in fact ahead.

9.14pm. Macquarie Fields: the raw notional two-candidate count has the Liberals ahead by 2.0 per cent, but it’s lineball on the ABC projection.

9.05pm. Macquarie Fields: Labor has chased down a 0.6 per cent deficit as the count has risen from 35.6 to 50.5 per cent, with the result now lineball.

9.02pm. Kristina Keneally appears to make the mother of all concession speeches.

9.01pm. Oatley: Labor’s lead has shrunk from 1.7 to 0.6 per cent with only a small increase in the count, from 67.2 to 69.9 per cent.

8.57pm. Toongabbie: an increase in the count from 57.7 to 65.2 per cent has seen Nathan Rees’s deficit shrink from 0.8 per cent to 0.5 per cent.

8.55pm. Labor has made up a bit of ground in Swansea: count up from 69.3 to 72.5 per cent, Liberal lead down from 1.1 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

8.54pm. Labor’s lead in Kogarah has narrowed: count up from 52 to 60.2 per cent, lead down from 1.8 per cent to 1.2 per cent.

8.53pm. The Liberals have moved further ahead in Newcastle: count up from 62.9 to 70.3 per cent, lead up from 0.9 to 1.2 per cent.

8.50pm. Luke Foley confident Labor will win Marrickville, and Antony Green concurring. Interesting to see what Liberal preferences do.

8.34pm. Nathan Rees is apparently planning to speak: the ABC computer is actually projecting a 0.8 per cent lead for the Liberals in his seat of Toongabbie, although he has a 1.2 per cent lead on the raw two-party count of 11 booths.

8.26pm. It’s been noted the NSWEC site has Labor’s Matt Brown 4.5 per cent in front in Kiama, but this is the 2CP count from only four booths: based on the 19 booths that have submitted primary votes, the ABC computer is projecting a Liberal margin of 3.4 per cent.

8.25pm. The ABC computer has the Greens ahead in Balmain by 1.8 per cent, which I think is a projection from a primary vote count of 15 booths. There are 2PP results from four booths, and these add up to a 0.5 per cent Greens lead. However, this assumes Labor and the Greens will be the final two candidates, which looks unlikely: the figures are Liberal 33.3, Labor 30.4, Greens 30.0. I would assume that whichever out of Labor or the Greens finishes third will deliver the seat to the other on their preferences, but wiser heads than mine consider the Liberals still in the hunt.

8.19pm. The Greens really do have to ask themselves how, with Labor losing 13.3 per cent of their primary vote, they only managed to pick up 1.5 per cent.

8.15pm. Exit poll looking good. Phone pollsters seem to have again encountered the Labor-too-low, Greens-too-high issue we saw at the federal and Victorian elections.

8.13pm. Gladys Berejiklian was writing off the ABC results from Campbelltown earlier, but has evidently since been corrected. Peter Besseling has conceded defeat in Port Macquarie.

8.10pm. Labor at least has a high enough primary vote that it can hope for a sixth seat in the upper house.

8.09pm. Antony thinks the independent might still be a show in Blue Mountains.

8.05pm. Nationals margin in Port Macquarie now out to 6.9 per cent.

8.00pm. Hunter: Liberals still looking good in Newcastle, can add Charlestown as well now that significant figures are in, and are only slightly behind in Swansea. Yet Wallsend and Cessnock have swung very modestly and will stay with Labor.

7.59pm. Not sure what the story is in Campbelltown: with 21.2 per cent counted the ABC says 26.2 per cent swing and Liberal gain, but it appears that phenomenal swing will not be maintained when the figures are updated.

7.48pm. Labor has fallen into a hole in Monaro: Antony projects to 50.2-49.8. The raw figure of 55.1-44.9 has apparently inspired Sky News commentators to call it for the Nationals, but I believe they are jumping the gun.

7.46pm. Still early, but encouraging results for Nick Lalich in Cabramatta.

7.45pm. I thought Coogee was looking good for the Liberals, but the word is you won’t really be able to tell until Randwick booths are in.

7.44pm. Remarkably close three-way result in Balmain, with Labor on 33.1 per cent, Greens on 31.5 per cent and Liberal on 29.5 per cent. Projected Labor 2PP win by 2.1 per cent, if the Greens stay ahead of the Liberals (and I suppose there’s even a chance Labor could drop to third).

7.42pm. Nats still on track for a modest win in Port Macquarie. Tamworth and Dubbo in the bag. Torbay safe in Northern Tablelands, Greg Piper safe in Lake Macquarie. Another easy win for Clover Moore in Sydney. As far as I can see the only possible newcomer is Gordon Bradbery in Wollongong, and he is not home and hosed: Labor 36.4 per cent, Bradbery 29.7 per cent, Liberal 18.9 per cent. Bradbery will need strong preferences.

7.37pm. Labor retains: Auburn, Canterbury, Cessnock (amazingly small Nationals swing), Heffron, Liverpool, Monaro, Shellharbour, Wallsend. They are ahead early in Granville, Macquarie Fields, Maroubra and Marrickville. Cabramatta, Fairfield, Keira, Newcastle, Oatley, Kogarah, Swansea, Londonderry and Wyong are too close to call, in most cases leaning away from Labor. Nothing yet from Mount Druitt, almost nothing from Bankstown. I believe they’re looking at the high teens.

7.27pm. 34.6 per cent swing in Bathurst. 33.3 per cent swing in Ryde, compared with the election rather than the by-election. 27.3 per cent in Smithfield. 29.9 per cent in Strathfield. 22.1 per cent swing in Canterbury.

7.25pm. So your money would be on Labor in Marrickville, Liberal in Balmain and nothing for the Greens. Nathan Rees apparently looking set to hold Toongabbie. Massacre at Strathfield.

7.23pm. Nationals looking good in Port Macquarie: 51.4 per cent to Besseling’s 38.2 per cent with 13.7 per cent counted.

7.21pm. Gladys Berejiklian talking of unexpectedly high Liberal vote in Balmain, which would be encouraging for them because they were rated a chance. Luke Foley “excited” about Marrickville: swings of 3 to 5 per cent.

7.21pm. Maitland being called for Liberal.

7.17pm. Hunter: ABC calling Newcastle for Liberal: Lib 44.4, ALP 27.3, Grn 13.4, Ind 10.5. Liberals looking a big show on very early counting in Charlestown. Labor retains Wallsend and Cessnock; no votes from Swansea. Modest performance from touted independent in Wallsend.

7.16pm. A look of awe descends on Antony Green as he speaks of swings between 20 and 30 per cent.

7.15pm. Illawarra: ABC calling Wollongong for independent Gordon Bradbery; Libs gain Kiama and Heathcote; Labor retains Shellharbour; Labor retains Keira, though I’d want to see a few more votes.

7.13pm. ABC calling Port Macquarie for Nats on 4.1 per cent, but I’ll want to see more. Nats 48, Besseling 40.4.

7.11pm. Blue Mountains likely to go Liberal: their candidate well clear on 36.1 per cent with 4.1 per cent counted, Labor and Janet Mays mixing it on 22-23 per cent. Nationals take Bathurst with earth-shaking swing.

7.10pm. Limiting it to over 4 per cent counted, ABC computer calls Bathurst for the Nats, Blue Mountains, Heathcote, Menai and Mulgoa. Lower it to 3 per cent and add Kiama and The Entrance, as well as the Nationals gaining Port Macquarie. Labor seems to have retained Cessnock, though caution there should perhaps be advised. Luke Foley appears to believe Labor will win Marrickville.

7.04pm. No ABC computer results update in 10 minutes.

7.03pm. Steve Whan firming in Monaro.

7.00pm. Berejiklian not sounding confident about Keira. Luke Foley seems pleasantly surprised by the first booth from Marrickville.

6.58pm. ABC calling Oatley for Labor with 3.8 per cent counted, which would be a surprise.

6.58pm. ABC calling Port Macquarie for the Nationals with 3 per cent counted, but it also says “46.1 per cent swing”, so I think there might be a gremlin at work there. However, the Nationals have opened up a lead on the primary vote.

6.57pm. With over 2 per cent now counted, Greg Piper still looks in trouble from the Liberals – but Antony Green is advising extreme caution.

6.56pm. Early figures confirm expectations of John Tate bombing out in Newcastle.

6.55pm. Gladys Berejiklian talking confidently of a better than expected result for Labor, which is interesting as she has no ulterior motive now the votes have been cast.

6.53pm. ABC computer calling lots of Lib gains, but almost invariably with less than 1 per cent counted. I’ll be holding off on acknowledging them until I see 5 per cent counted.

6.52pm. Luke Foley apparently making dark prognostications about Balmain and Marrickville.

6.50pm. First Port Macquarie booth a lot more competitive: Peter Besseling 43.6 per cent, Leslie Williams 44.2 per cent. Projects to 1.3 per cent 2CP lead for Besseling. Only 164 votes counted though.

6.49pm. First booth in Dubbo shows Nationals candidate Troy Grant with a massive lead over independent member Dawn Fardell.

6.48pm. First Maroubra booth swings 13.6 per cent – Labor just in front.

6.47pm. Star performer in comments Eddieward calls Monaro for Labor.

6.46pm. General picture appears to be of a swing in the mid-teens; Labor might have feared worse. Swings: Mulgoa 15%, Heathcote 14%, Blacktown 12%. On that figure, John Robertson would be safe.

6.41pm. Richard Torbay apparently looking good in Northern Tablelands.

6.40pm. Only 100 votes, but the first booth in Londonderry has only swung 9 per cent.

6.36pm. Upper Hunter now merely “independent ahead” with 1.1 per cent counted. Moral of the story is that it takes reasonably solid figures before ABC projections settle down and become reliable.

6.35pm. The ABC computer is likewise calling Upper Hunter an independent gain off 0.7 per cent counted – again, don’t hold your breath. Mulgoa the first Liberal gain chalked up with 15.4 per cent swing and 0.5 per cent counted.

6.34pm. I feel the ABC computer might be jumping the gun a little in calling Blue Mountains an ALP retain on the basis of 0.1 per cent counted.

6.33pm. Antony Green reports only 1-2 per cent swing based on two booths in Monaro. Overall swing though about 12 per cent, recalling that these are small rural booths which are expected to swing relatively modestly.

6.29pm. I always say you know the fat lady is singing when spokespersons of one side or the other start complaining about the media. Julian Watson in comments reports Labor folk on Sky News doing so with a vengeance.

6.27pm. Apparently the exit poll “looked at seats in western Sydney, the Sutherland shire in southern Sydney, Central Coast and Lower Hunter”. I never know what to make of this – are the published figures what we should expect from a statewide result, or from the particular electorates targeted? If the latter, the figures are impossible to read unless you know which electorates were hit, and even then it takes a bit of work to calculate what swings they are pointing to.

6.25pm. I see the NSWEC has a straightforward table of main results for each electorate including swing figures, which is an awfully good idea. However, the swing results presumably won’t be booth matched, so the ABC remains the place to go.

6.20pm. Radio National is apparently reporting that Marrickville MP Carmel Tebbutt is working on her concession of defeat speach.

6pm. Polls have closed.

5.20pm. With 40 minutes to go before polls close, Sky News has published an exit poll which on two-party preferred maintains the iron rigidity of all polling conducted this year: the Coalition leads Labor 64-36. However, the primary vote has Labor at the higher end of market expectations and the Greens lower: Coalition 52 per cent, Labor 27 per cent, Greens 9 per cent. If accurate, that would maintain a pattern of recent polling, where the Labor primary vote tends to get underrated and the Greens overrated.

NSW election minus zero (no limit)

The final polls are in, and they say the same thing as all the others. Nielsen has the Coalition on 50 per cent, Labor on 22 per cent and the Greens on 13 per cent, with the two-party preferred at 64-36. Newspoll has also conducted another evening of polling to turn yesterday’s 1147 sample poll of March 21-23 into today’s 1488 sample poll of March 21-24. The voting figures however are unchanged: 50 per cent for the Coalition, 23 per cent for Labor, 12 per cent for the Greens, 64.1-35.9 two-party preferred (the decimal point being a contentious practice Newspoll has adopted for final pre-election polls).

Nielsen and Newspoll both offer metropolitan/non-metropolitan breakdowns, although Newspoll stingily limits it to two-party figures. Here we are told Labor faces an “approximate swing” of 20 per cent in Sydney and 11 per cent in the rest of the state, translating into respective two-party splits of 65-35 and 63-37. Nielsen has similar results but reverses the order: 63-37 in Sydney, 66-34 in the rest of New South Wales. Both tell a very different story from Essential Research, which had 71-29 in Sydney and 58-42 in the rest of NSW – which ended up producing a similar statewide figure because the differences cancelled out.

Hot off the press:

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian tips Labor to lose everything on a margin of 10 per cent or less with the “possible exceptions” of Swansea and Monaro; everything from 10 to 20 per cent except Lakemba, Fairfield, Campbelltown and Wallsend, and possibly Oatley, Toongabbie, Maroubra and Cessnock; perhaps also Cabramatta, Wollongong, Keira and very likely Newcastle; and set to lose Balmain and Marrickville to the Greens. As bad as this sounds, Salusinszky is actually making a “bullish” prediction of about 23 seats for Labor, owing to “some drift back by ‘true believers’ when they confront what Paul Keating called ‘the loneliness of the polling booth’”.

• My own very different view was published in Crikey yesterday. Please pretend that I included Granville in the list of possible Labor retains and Lake Macquarie as a second independent retain.

• A review of the contested seats by Andrew Clennell in the Daily Telegraph includes a few unorthodox calls, with Granville, Toongabbie and Monaro “set to fall”. John Robertson on the other hand is “expected to just hang on” in Blacktown.

Yesterday’s news:

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that while Kristina Keneally had been “trying to save Labor seats in Wollongong, Cabramatta, Fairfield and Bankstown”, Barry O’Farrell’s schedule was taking in Drummoyne, Strathfield, Kogarah, Rockdale and “other points in Sydney’s west”.

• Andrew Clennell in the Daily Telegraph: “Pessimistic senior Labor sources appeared to back the (Galaxy) poll yesterday, saying they were regarding only eight to nine seats as “safe” and a further 14 as ‘winnable’.”

• Drew Warne-Smith of The Australian sounded pretty confident that Labor would lose Balmain and Marrickville, but there are alternative viewpoints around if you’re in the market.

Michelle Harris of The Newcastle Herald reported “leaked Labor polling” of 400 respondents in Newcastle showed support for independent candidate and Lord Mayor John Tate had “collapsed”, and that Liberal challenger Tim Owen led Labor incumbent Jodi McKay 52-48. The primary vote figures were said to be 30 per cent for Owen and 25 per cent for McKay, with the Greens relegating Tate to fourth place with 18 per cent against 16 per cent for Tate. The Herald’s Labor source said Greens voters could be “handing the seat to the Liberals” if they didn’t preference Labor, which might well inspire you view the figures with suspicion.

Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper:

• In Tamworth, where independent incumbent Peter Draper is thought to be fighting a losing battle against the Nationals’ Kevin Anderson, David Humphries of the Sydney Morning Herald tells of “the anti-Draper campaign’s relentless efforts to portray him as being in the government’s pocket”. “Anecdotal evidence” suggests the message is getting through.

Andrew West of the Sydney Morning Herald foresees Nathan Rees retaining Toongabbie.

Trouble at the mill:

• Fresh from carrying on like a pork chop before the news cameras last week, Labor’s Cabramatta MP Nick Lalich has had the Liberals crying foul over efforts to link their candidate Dai Le with Pauline Hanson. The Liberals have been circulating a photo of Lalich taking a hands-on approach to disseminating the message among the Vietnamese community, and there have reportedly also been letterdrops. Josephine Tovey and Damien Murphy of the Sydney Morning Herald reckon “straw polls” in the seat run 60-40 in favour of Le.

Kogarah MP Cherie Burton has admitted she was fined for reversing into a car and failing to exchange personal details with the owner, after first threatening legal action against the Sunday Telegraph if it pursued the story. While Barry O’Farrell is calling on Labor to disendorse her, Burton is unconvincingly complaining of “dirty tricks”. I understand Burton to have been a target of much ire on talk radio over the past week.


Fred Nile declares “a Christian agenda will be easier to achieve under a Coalition government”. Meanwhile, Labor has been heard pleading for mercy from Greens voters, only a few of whom will be directed to preference Labor by their party’s how-to-vote cards.

• Pleading the dangers of conservative control, Labor will direct second preferences to the Greens in the upper house despite the lack of a quid pro quo.

• The Newcastle Herald reports “the Liberal Party has decided not to direct its preferences to independent candidate Shayne Connell in Wallsend after he refused to return the favour”.

Newspoll: 64-36 to Coalition in NSW; Galaxy: 66-34

GhostWhoVotes reports the final pre-election Newspoll provides yet more evidence that the campaign hasn’t changed a thing: the Coalition primary vote is at 50 per cent (unchanged on the last Newspoll), Labor is on 23 per cent (down three) and the Greens are on 12 per cent (up one). The two-party preferred result is 64-36, compared with 63-37 in the previous Newspoll. Kristina Keneally’s approval is down a point to 33 per cent, and her disapproval up one to 59 per cent; Barry O’Farrell is down a point on approval to 48 per cent and up two on disapproval to 39 per cent. O’Farrell’s lead as preferred premier is up from 48-35 to 48-32. More to follow, hopefully (metro and non-metro breakdowns in particular would be appreciated).

UPDATE: Full tables from GhostWhoVotes reveal nothing new. We will no doubt be hearing more from The Australian tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: It seems for every poll showing Labor getting away with 63-37 or 64-36, another has come along showing it at 66-34. Step forward Galaxy, which has Labor at 22 per cent of the primary vote (down one on three weeks ago), the Coalition at 51 per cent (steady) and the Greens at 12 per cent (down two). The poll was roughly Newspoll-sized, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday from a sample of 1000 with a margin of error of 3 per cent. Barry O’Farrell leads as preferred premier 53-33 – 20 points compared with Newspoll’s 16. The poll 53 per cent favouring Kristina Keneally as leader over John Robertson (13 per cent) and Michael Daley (11 per cent).

Essential Research: 66-34 to Coalition in NSW

Essential Research has produced a final poll for the NSW election, and while the scale of the Labor wipeout indicated is on the high end, it’s best viewed as yet another poll within the same range (62-38 to 66-34) that all polls have been registering throughout the year. The Coalition primary vote is up a point to a dizzying 55 per cent, with Labor down one to 23 per cent and the Greens down one to 11 per cent. The data comes from “three week averages”, which I take to mean part of the sample was covered in the previous Essential result. Regional breakdowns point to a result of biblical proportions for Labor in Sydney, where their primary vote is at 20 per cent compared with 42.5 per cent in 2007. Outside of Sydney the Coalition’s lead is 58-42 – pointing to a modest-under-the-circumstances swing of 6 per cent. The poll shows a remarkable consistency between the three designated age groups, except that the Greens poach an extra four points from Labor in the 18-34 bracket.

NSW election minus 4 days

Some reading (and viewing):

Roy Morgan has assembled one of its delightful “Reactor” measures of the effectiveness of major party advertising. At the very least this gives interstaters a succinct view of the parties’ television campaigns, on top of which can be viewed “wormed” responses which can be narrowed down according to respondents’ party support, age groupings and gender. The Liberal supporters among the sample betrayed little nuance, soaring during each Liberal ad and diving during each Labor one. Labor voters however were not impressed by their own side’s negative advertising, which they rated no higher than Liberal attack ads and lower than the Liberals’ positive ad.

Ben Smee of the Newcastle Herald reports on the strong challenge being put up by independent candidate and Newcastle councillor Shayne Connell in Wallsend, where Labor’s Sonia Hornery is defending a margin of 15.8 per cent. Antony Green is quoted in the article referring to Connell’s “strong campaign”, but it is noted that his task has been made more difficult by the candidacy of council colleague Mike Jackson, who has quit the ALP in order to run. The Liberals are directing preferences to Connell, while the Greens are directing to Jackson.

• An informed observer in comments is talking up the chances of independent Janet Mays in Blue Mountains, said to be “more connected than a millipede’s backbone” and on track for a formidable primary vote upwards of 30 per cent. Labor holds the seat on a margin of 11.1 per cent, but with the retirement of sitting member Phil Koperberg its primary vote is expected to go through the floor.

• Two independents challenging Nationals incumbents are generating chatter: Gunnedah Shire councillor Tim Duddy in Upper Hunter, and local hospital emergency department director Joe McGirr in Wagga Wagga. Conversely, the Nationals are expected to recover Dubbo and Tamworth from independent incumbents Dawn Fardell and Peter Draper. Opinion is divided as to whether Port Macquarie should be added to the list – one who think it should is Rodney Smith of The Australian.

Grahame Morris in the Sydney Morning Herald credits the Labor campaign with “an infamous record of drawing blood with punches to the face of a Liberal candidate’s spouse, slashing the car tyres of Liberal candidates, smashing Coalition campaign office windows, evil phone calls and campaign messages built on lies”.

Linda Silmalis of the Sunday Telegraph: “Some inside Labor are only prepared to claim 10 seats as wins, but others say the party is likely to win between 15 and 25 seats. Insiders say published statewide polls do not accurately reflect the extent of the potential bloodbath, with many Labor-held seats showing much worse results than the state average.”

Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Fears that it could be left with as few as 15 out of the 93 seats have been mitigated over the past week or so. Optimists now think Labor will hold about 25 seats, just over one in four.”

• Sportsbet is already paying out on a Coalition win, in what Phillip Coorey describes as “a nice little public relations exercise”.

Amanda Meade of The Australian reports on the networks’ election coverage plans. Seven will have two hours of Mark Riley, Graham Richardson and host Chris Bath; Nine an hour from 9.30pm summarising the damage, featuring Peter Overton and Laurie Oakes; Ten will have updates and save the detail for a 10.30pm news bulletin; Sky will begin live coverage from 5.30pm, starting with a steady feed of exit poll data; and ABC1 and ABC News 24 will begin its coverage at 6.30pm.

• The latest additions to the electorate guide focus on the Central Coast (Wyong, Gosford, The Entrance and Terrigal), Port Macquarie, and the two Labor-held seats I hadn’t done already (Bathurst and Monaro).

NSW election minus 7 days

Seven days before the axe falls, to the extent that the commencement of pre-polling at the start of this week hasn’t lowered it already. Local level intelligence from around the place:

• The Illawarra Mercury has published two more IRIS Research polls of local electorates, which I presume had samples of 400 and margins of error approaching 5 per cent. In Wollongong, Labor’s Noreen Hay is found to be headed for defeat at the hands of independent Gordon Bradbery, who leads her 54-46. In Keira however it’s 50-50, which compares with a 52-48 Liberal lead in the previous poll conducted early last month.

• Informed local observer Oakeshott Country relates in comments that a new publication by the name of The Port Paper has published a poll of 373 respondents in Port Macquarie conducted by Strategic Marketing. This found independent incumbent Peter Besseling on 34 per cent, Nationals candidate Leslie Williams on 40 per cent and Labor on 14 per cent, which panned out to 50-50 after preferences (although skepticism has been expressed about the methodology used here). Oakeshott Country notes the Nationals are putting a lot of effort into the seat with an emphasis on negative advertising, which is presumably not a sign of over-confidence.

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian on the Nationals’ hopes:

The rural and regional-based party is looking to add six seats to its kitty next Saturday. Three presently belong to Labor: Bathurst, in the state’s central west, held by popular retiring MP Gerard Martin; Monaro, on the far south coast, held by Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan; and Cessnock, held by another popular retiring MP, Kerry Hickey. Those would be sweet victories, but not nearly as sweet as defeating three popular rural independents whom the Nationals regard as interlopers: Dawn Fardell in the western seat of Dubbo; Peter Draper in the northern seat of Tamworth; and Peter Besseling in the north coast seat of Port Macquarie. Independent MPs will not feel the full force of the anti-Labor swing. What they might feel instead is their conservative constituents’ wrath at the actions of federal independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, whose seats of Lyne and New England overlap the state seats of Tamworth and Port Macquarie. Stoner plans to leverage Oakeshott’s and Windsor’s support for the minority Gillard government for every vote it’s worth.

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian further reports that Labor strategists are “cautiously confident” that Monaro MP Steve Whan can defend his 6.3 per cent margin, which would be an enormous achievement under the circumstances.

Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald reports a heavy duty campaigning effort has Labor increasingly confident that John Robertson can defend the 22.4 per cent margin in Blacktown.

• Stephen Bromhead, the Nationals candidate to replace the retiring John Turner in their safe seat of Myall Lakes, is in a stable condition in John Hunter Hospital after a car accident.

• Centrebet has issued a breathless press release saying its betting points to a result of Coalition 69, Labor 17, independents five and Greens two.

• Latest additions to the election guide have focused in inner and southern Sydney: Vaucluse, Cronulla, Coogee, Maroubra, Heffron, Drummoyne, Strathfield, Canterbury, Rockdale, Kogarah, Oatley, Parramatta, Sydney and Marrickville.