Bits and pieces

• The only seat still in doubt in Queensland is Bundaberg, which looks likely to be won by Nationals candidate Jack Dempsey. Dempsey led 9,778 to 9,568 at the close of count on Saturday, but the ABC computer was pointing to a 0.3 per cent Labor win. This was based on comparison with results from 2004, when Labor did much better on the as-yet-uncounted declaration and pre-poll votes (55.3 per cent versus 36.7 per cent) than polling booth votes (50.4 per cent versus 41.4 per cent). However, that trend is being substantially reversed this time around. Most pre-poll and postal votes have now been counted (roughly two-thirds of the non-polling booth total, itself 16 per cent of the overall total), and Dempsey’s lead has widened to 11,161 to 10,821. Most of the remaining uncounted votes are absentee votes, of which about 5 per cent will be exhausting minor party votes. With similar figures this time, non-exhausting absentee votes will need to break about 920-580 in Labor’s favour (roughly 70-30) if they are to win the seat. Very, very unlikely.

Charles Richardson of Crikey has been good enough to invoke my words of wisdom while criticising the media for buying Labor’s late-campaign spin about worrying internal polling:

Governments worry obsessively about overconfidence – the twin dangers of (a) seeming arrogant, which puts voters off, and (b) looking invulnerable, which makes voters think they can safely punish them without risking an opposition victory. So when they seem to be getting too far ahead, out comes the famous "private polling" to play down their chances. The media obediently went along. Having spent the previous week reporting the collapse of Coalition support, they started to have second thoughts. As William Bowe, the Poll Bludger, put it on Friday, "momentum is building behind the idea, if not the reality, of a late Coalition revival". But there was never any real evidence for it. The final polls from both Newspoll and Galaxy picked the result almost exactly, while the punters who swung Centrebet’s odds back towards the Coalition in the last week all lost their money.

However, if Glenn Milne in The Australian is to be believed, the Liberals in particular did enjoy a late-campaign recovery that spared them from being reduced to one seat, maybe even less. This of course could be yet another example of journalists receiving selective intelligence designed to serve the ends of those providing it, and should perhaps be viewed in the context of Liberal leadership ructions. It should be noted that Milne is commonly faulted for serving the ends of particular elements in the Liberal Party, intentionally or otherwise.

• Across the border to the west, the by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Stuart will be held the Saturday after next. Labor’s candidate is Karl Hampton, a ministerial officer to the retiring member, Health and Justice Minister Peter Toyne. The CLP is adopting its favoured tactic of running both white (Lloyd Spencer-Nelson) and Aboriginal (Rex Granites Japanangka) candidates (CORRECTION: thanks to Kerry Gardiner in comments for noting both candidates are in fact indigenous), which is calculated to boost its vote in remote communities (a circumstance born of the Territory’s practice of including candidate photos on ballot papers to assist illiterate voters). The party’s candidate at last year’s election, Anna de Sousa Machado, is running as an independent, as is Gary Cartwright, the Labor member for Victoria River (now called Daly) from 1990 to 1994. Rounding out the ballot paper is a third independent, Peter Tjungarray Wilson.

A chart for your enjoyment

It occurs to me that a chart like this is a good way to illustate Queensland’s long, strange electoral history since the onset of the Joh era. Results obtained from the Australian Government and Politics Database, product of the world’s finest political science department.

UPDATE: Why stop there. This chart goes back to 1926, late in the life of the Labor government that came to power in 1915; before that the various conservative groups are too hard to categorise. The Queensland People’s Party and United Australia Party are counted as Liberal.

Break it down

Earlier in the campaign, I had occasion to divide Queensland’s 89 seats into 12 regions in order to compare variations in population growth. I will now use the same regions to compare the size of the two-party swing for and against Labor, after omitting seats where independents or exceptional circumstances interrupted the normal two-party contest. The number in brackets after the name of each region is the number of seats in the sample; the two sets of figures are mean and standard deviation. I will add further commentary regarding the outliers in these samples shortly. UPDATE: See below.

Sunshine Coast (4) -4.1 3.6
Gold Coast (8) 2.0 2.6
Northern Brisbane (7) -0.7 1.6
Urban Hinterland (3) 1.6 2.7
Southern Brisbane (13) -1.7 3.5
Central Coast (4) 0.7 4.1
Inner Brisbane (13) -1.9 2.4
Western Brisbane (6) -0.4 2.8
Cairns/Townsville (6) 4.6 2.6
Regional Towns (5) 1.1 3.5
Interior/North (5) 0.2 5.9
Weighted (7) 3.3 3.0

By the way, the regions are listed in order of their rate of population growth, a potentially interesting hangover from the last time I used the table.

Sunshine Coast. The mean figure here would be even more pronounced if you removed Pumicestone, which swung 0.5 per cent to Labor. That would leave Kawana (7.3 per cent), Maroochydore (6.5 per cent) and Caloundra (3.0 per cent). Independent-held Nicklin and Noosa have been excluded, although it’s notable the Nationals were up 6.9 per cent in Nicklin and Labor down 3.1 per cent.

Gold Coast. Most of the results here were roughly status quo compared with 2004, including Gaven, which swung 1.8 per cent where it needed to swing 5.0 per cent if the Nationals were to repeat their April by-election win. The exceptions were the big swings to Labor in Robina (6.5 per cent) and Burleigh (4.0 per cent).

Northern Brisbane. The wild talk about Kallangur amounted to nothing more than a 3.2 per cent swing; all other swings in this region were less than 2 per cent either side.

Urban Hinterland. Not much left of this after you remove Gympie and Nanango – Lockyer (2.8 per cent to Labor), Beaudesert (3.5 per cent to Labor) and Glass House (1.5 per cent to Liberal).

Southern Brisbane. There are two conspicuous outliers here: Chatsworth, where Michael Caltabiano still managed a 9.8 per cent swing compared with 2004, and Cleveland, which lived up to expectations with a swing of 8.0 per cent. Remove those two and you get a mean of -0.4 per cent and a standard deviation of 1.7 per cent. So in other words, an extremely stable picture with a small number of exceptions.

Central Coast. Gladstone and Maryborough are out because of independents, Whitsunday because its 11.0 per cent swing to the Nationals was an outlier born of one-off circumstances. That leaves an evenly mixed bag: Burnett (4.4 per cent to Nationals member Rob Messenger), Hervey Bay (0.8 per cent away from Labor member Andrew McNamara), Keppel (3.2 per cent swing to Labor member Paul Hoolihan) and Mirani (4.7 per cent swing against Nationals member Ted Malone).

Inner Brisbane. Ashgrove (6.7 per cent) and Brisbane Central (5.0 per cent) slightly boost the anti-Labor mean here. Interestingly, Peter Beattie’s margin in the latter has gone over two elections from 25.0 per cent to 14.6 per cent. Removing those two puts the mean at -1.2 and the standard deviation at 1.8.

Western Brisbane. A 4.6 per cent swing against Labor in Inala and a 3.6 per cent swing to them in Ipswich West (a slightly embarrassing outcome for retiring member Don Livingstone) cancel each other out and inflate the standard deviation; the other four seats hardly budged.

Cairns/Townsville. Uniformly excellent results for Labor, the outstanding figure being the 9.6 per cent swing in Thuringowa, partly explained by independents distorting the result in 2004. Removing that reduces the mean to 3.6 per cent and the standard deviation to 1.1. Other swings ranged from 2.2 per cent in supposedly vulnerable Mulgrave to 4.9 per cent in Mundingburra.

Regional Towns. By which I mean Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Mackay and Rockhampton. The only swing against Labor was the 5.0 per cent that has brought Bundaberg down to the wire; remove that and you’ve got a mean of 2.6 per cent and a standard deviation of 0.8.

Interior/North The figures here are not much use, as the results are a testament to the importance of candidates in these areas. First-termers Jason O’Brien (Labor for Cook) and Shane Knuth (Nationals for Charters Towers) picked up 7.6 per cent and 8.4 per cent swings, while the other seats hardly budged.

Weighted. By which I mean the seats that are allowed to have fewer voters than the others because they cover vast geographic areas. This covers eight seats, including Tablelands which is excluded because it is held by One Nation; of the remainder, Mount Isa is held by Labor and the others are held by the Nationals. There was a general swing to Labor throughout the area, only Darling Downs bucking the trend by going 1.8 per cent the other way. Hinchinbrook led the way with a 7.8 per cent swing to Labor, influenced by the retirement of sitting member Marc Rowell.

Queensland election live

9.42pm. As for my own predictions: going on the current ABC computer verdict, I made five wrong calls all pointing in the same direction: Labor leads in Gaven (3.1 per cent), Mudgeeraba (3.5 per cent), Barron River (6.0 per cent), Bundaberg (0.3 per cent), Toowoomba North (11.1 per cent). My last minute amendments ran 2-1 against me, perhaps 3-0 if Liddy Clark holds on in Clayfield.

9.30pm. I’m going out for a smoke. I’ll come back in 10 minutes and try to take a look at the bigger picture.

9.29pm. ABC site still no good for live audio.

9.24pm. Unless I am mistaken, the ABC computer has moved Currumbin from “LIB retain” to “LIB ahead”. However, Jann Stuckey is more than 2 per cent ahead after a full preference count and is surely home.

9.21pm. Here’s one that’s slipped under the radar: the Nationals are cutting it very fine in Burdekin, so no sophomore surge for Rosemary Menkens who won the seat in 2004 from Labor member Steve Rodgers, who is their candidate again this time. Menkens leads 47.1 per cent to 44.8 per cent on the primary vote: 51.2-48.8 after preferences. She should get home, but the ABC computer has revised it down from “NAT retain” to “NAT ahead”.

9.16pm. According to the ECQ, a Labor lead of 245 primary votes in Bundaberg turns into a 210 vote deficit after preferences. In answer to Geoff R’s query in comments, these are real figures and not projections.

9.09pm. News Radio’s have ended their coverage and the local radio broadcast on the ABC website is just producing a whining sound.

9.05pm. Antony Green in comments says he expects Liz Cunningham to hold on in Gladstone.

9.04pm. Noteworthy swings in otherwise unnoteworthy seats. Big swings to Labor in Townsville: 4.9 per cent in Mundingburra and 9.8 per cent in Thuringowa. Good 4.3 per cent swing to Labor in previously marginal Cairns. 8.8 per cent to the Nationals in Whitsunday, a correction after the Dan van Blarcom situation in 2004. Good 4.2 per cent swing to Labor in Springwood. Very strong showing for One Nation’s last survivor Rosa Lee Long in Tablelands, up 4.2 per cent on the primary vote. Good result for Labor’s Tim Mulherin in Mackay, with a 4.8 per cent swing – commenter Geoff Robinson comments on the distinction with Nationals-held Charters Towers which went 8.4 per cent the other way. 5.0 per cent swing against Peter Beattie in Brisbane Central, the second such swing in a row. 4.8 per cent swing to Labor in Nationals-held Mirani. Very good 5.0 per cent swing to Labor in Ipswich West, given the retirement of sitting member Don Livingstone. Another sophomore surge for Rob Messenger in Burnett: back with a 4.4 per cent swing. Huge win for independent Chris Foley in Maryborough with 70.2 per cent of the primary vote, up 5.3 per cent. Very good 4.0 per cent swing to Christine Smith in Burleigh and 4.6 per cent in Inala, where Anastacia Palaszczuk is replacing father Henry. 4.8 per cent swing against Lawrence Springborg in Southern Downs.

8.53pm. Antony Green in comments: “I’d call Chatsworth (for Labor), but can’t because my manual over-ride command won’t work. Only Brisbane City Hall booth to come”.

8.52pm. Since I last commented on Currumbin, the ABC computer has downgraded it from “Liberal gain” to “Liberal ahead’. Member Jann Stuckey leads 47.8 per cent to 42.8 per cent on the primary vote with 72 per cent counted, so probably final for the night. The Greens’ 9.4 per cent would have to flow extremely solidly to make the difference here – Stuckey looks safe to me.

8.50pm. Reader Andrew Owens, an astute observer of these things, points out the Liz Cunningham is not home and dry in Gladstone, although the ABC computer is calling it for her. She is marginally behind on the primary vote, but there’s also 6.0 per cent for the Nationals candidate and John Wanna says he expect a very disciplined flow to Cunningham.

8.49pm. John Wanna reckons Noosa is still in doubt, but I think he’s operating under the full-preferential voting assumption that getting ahead of Labor should be enough.

8.48pm. Dolly Pratt’s primary vote lead in Nanango has widened since I last commented – from roughly 40-all to 44.0 per cent to 39.7 per cent.

8.45pm. Labor did it easily in Redcliffe to complete the by-election revenge hat-trick. 74 per cent counted, they lead 49.5 per cent to 39.7 per cent.

8.43pm. Still only 39 per cent in from Gaven, but the booths are a pretty representative sample of the seat and Labor has a very big lead: 50.1 per cent to 41.2 per cent on the primary vote.

8.36pm. The ABC computer isn’t yet calling it for Labor in Chatsworth, but they lead by 1.6 per cent on the ABC projection and 1.3 per cent on the progressive preference count, which with 76.6 per cent counted (presumably final for the night) should be enough.

8.33pm. Going on the primary vote, I would have thought Labor would get up in Bundaberg – they lead 45.1 per cent to 43.9 per cent on the primary vote. But the Nationals are in fact slightly ahead on the progressive preference count, which is not lagging too far behind the primary vote count (of which there is 70 per cent counted).

8.30pm. The raw primary vote figures for Labor in Clayfield do not look at all good: 67.3 per cent counted, they trail 38.6 per cent to 46.8 per cent. But quite a few preferences have been counted and they only trail 5475 to 5366.

8.29pm. Beattie’s speech was a little on the brief side.

8.28pm. For what it’s worth, the Greens did not direct preferences to Labor in Robina.

8.26pm. Beattie claiming victory.

8.26pm. 61.4 per cent in Robina and it’s very close indeed. New Liberal candidate Ray Stevens has 46.9 per cent to Labor’s 44.5 per cent, which means its up to the Greens’ 8.5 per cent on preferences.

8.23pm. My first good look at Gympie. 54.1 per cent counted. Only 7.4 per cent for Elisa Roberts. Huge lead for the Nationals on the primary vote: 49.0 per cent, daylight second, ex-Labor independent Rae Gate third on 13.1 per cent. Not sure why this should be such a surprise.

8.22pm. John Wanna reckons Indooroopilly is still doubtful, but I do believe Labor have held it.

8.20pm. Still only 35.0 per cent counted in Noosa. Cate Molloy has taken second place, but she trails Liberal on the primary vote 36.7 per cent to 25.6 per cent. Labor preferences would have to flow very heavily to Molloy to get her ahead – it’s technically possible that there will indeed be unusual preference behaviour in this seat.

8.18pm. Let’s take those one at a time. A clear Liberal win in Kawana with a 7.5 per cent swing. As anticipated, there was a swing to the Liberals across the Sunshine Coast.

8.16pm. The ABC projections in brief: Libs gain Kawana and Noosa. Nats gain Gympie. Libs ahead in Robina and Clayfield. Labor ahead in Bundaberg and Chatsworth. Nats ahead in Lockyer. Labor gains Gaven and Redcliffe.

8.13pm. A late surprise in Lockyer – the Nationals are only ahead 1.1 per cent after 44 per cent counted, based on Antony Green’s preference estimate.

8.10pm. Poor old Lawrence is reduced to once again claiming that they have cut margins in important places.

8.03pm. Lawrence Springborg conceding defeat already.

8.01pm. Unexpectedly strong Labor win in Keppel – 6.0 per cent swing with 59 per cent counted.

7.59pm. Still only 36 per cent counted in Clayfield: after Antony Green’s preference estimate, the Liberals lead 1.3 per cent.

7.57pm. Little cheer goes up in the tally room as the ABC Radio presenter declared Caltabiano’s defeat. It may have been unrelated though. Perhaps we could ask Graham Young and Mark Bahnisch.

7.56pm. 2.6 per cent swing to Labor in Toowoomba North after 30 per cent counted. I didn’t have much luck calling to Toowoomba seats last time either.

7.54pm. Sorry, called that wrong. Big swing to LABOR in Robina, consistent with the Quinn effect. He’s only 1.2 per cent ahead.

7.53pm. Caltabiano gone in Chatsworth. Big swing to the Liberals in Robina, contrary to expectations – elsewhere commentators are talking about the “Bob Quinn effect” damaging the Coalition on the Gold Coast.

7.52pm. No swing at all in Aspley, a good win for Labor member Bonny Barry.

7.51pm. A swing of a few per cent to Labor in all Cairns seats, including the supposedly endangered Mulgrave.

7.50pm. A big 8.8 per cent swing against Labor in Whitsunday, but this is a correction after the Dan van Blarcom affair at the 2004 election. Not enough to cost Labor the seat.

7.49pm. Labor 1.3 per cent ahead in Cleveland with 40 per cent – they would be doing very badly to lose from there.

7.48pm. ABC has a 4.4 per cent swing to Labor in Barron River, an outstanding result.

7.47pm. The ABC computer says 61 Labor seats, which sounds a little high. We can say this much: Labor has had a very good win.

7.44pm. The ABC tells us both candidates in Nanango are on roughly 40 per cent. Progressive count after preferences has Dolly Pratt 4.1 per cent ahead so unless there’s some preference quirk here, she should hold. Indooroopilly being called for Labor.

7.43pm. 20.9 per cent counted in Noosa and the ABC has it as a Liberal gain, as I expected. Cate Molloy and Labor have about a quarter of the vote each and little change on the primary vote from 2004.

7.41pm. ABC gives Labor a 1.8 per cent lead in Indooroopilly with 57 per cent counted, which should be enough.

7.40pm. Elisa Roberts discussing the result on ABC Radio. Sounds like an honest Aussie sheila.

7.39pm. Santoro talking up Whitsunday, but he may be grasping at straws from early figures.

7.38pm. Very tight in Bundaberg, Labor slightly ahead.

7.36pm. If I hear right, John Mickel is saying Labor are a big show of beating independent Liz Cunningham in Gladstone, but his figures seem to be lagging far behind the ABC which has it as Independent retain.

7.35pm. Not clear to me why the ABC computer has Chatsworth as an ALP gain – the booth results are only slightly different from the by-election, and I would have thought it would have been very close.

7.33pm. ABC computer now has Clayfield as Liberal ahead.

7.28pm. Labor apparently home in Redcliffe.

7.21pm. ABC computer now has Chatsworth as an ALP gain. More on that shortly. Very early figures for Mudgeeraba but Labor apparently holding up.

7.20pm. ABC computer has Gaven as a Labor gain, but from only 6.3 per cent of the vote.

7.18pm. None of the Nanango booths are from Kingaroy, which you would expect to be big on the Bjelke-Petersen brand name. Kawana obviously lost to Labor.

7.17pm. ABC computer tipping Nanango for John Bjelke-Petersen.

7.16pm. Only 7.3 per cent counted, but a very close outcome looms in Indooroopilly.

7.15pm. Labor primary vote up in Cairns and holding in Hervey Bay, and “encouraging news” on Redcliffe.

7.15pm. A lot of Labor crowing already on ABC Radio.

7.14pm. The ABC computer has retracted its call of Labor holding Clayfield.

7.13pm. Liberals ahead in Cleveland.

7.12pm. There are four booths in from Chatsworth: in each case both parties’ minor votes are up very slightly on the by-election.

7.09pm. Gympie looking good for the Nationals, as I always expected.

7.07pm. Reader Marcus notes that the ABC computer’s Chatsworth call comes despite a primary vote of 54-39 in Labor’s favour. A lot of talk on the radio about this being from the Belmont booths.

7.02pm. Another Green machine news flash: Chatsworth called for the Liberals. Broadwater for Labor.

7.00pm. News flash: Antony Green’s computer calls Clayfield, Keppel and Pumicestone for Labor. More evidence of the anticipated swing to the Liberals on the Sunshine Coast courtesy of Caloundra.

6.59pm. Still only one booth in from Nanango.

6.56pm. Antony Green’s computer calls Currumbin for the Liberals.

6.54pm. Santo Santoro reports a huge swing to the Liberals in Kawana. This was Labor has been thought very unlikely to retain, regardless of what else happens.

6.51pm. Labor reportedly ahead in Chatsworth, although there’s only one booth up: Labor’s primary vote there is similar to 2004, which is a very good sign for them. The Nationals have picked up a big swing in Charters Towers, so things can’t be that calamitous for them.

6.49pm. John Mickel says scruitineers report small swings to Labor in Whitsunday; Labor’s primary vote “holding” in Toowoomba North. On early figures, Kawana falling to Liberal; Labor just in front in Clayfield; line-ball in Indooroopilly.

6.46pm. The Mulgrave results are an real eye-opener. There are big lifts in the Labor vote both in the good Labor booth of Innisfail and the bad one of Miriwinni.

6.43pm. News flash: Antony Green’s calculations on the ABC site call Mulgrave for Labor.

6.42pm. John Mickel on the ABC says there is a big swing to Labor in one booth in Toowoomba North. Still too early to read much in to any of this, but the trend of an anti-Nationals swing in small booths is worth keeping an eye on.

6.42pm. ABC Radio says a 2.7 per cent against Rob Messenger in Burnett, but the ABC website says for.

6.40pm. On the other hand, a 6.4 per cent swing to the Nationals in Whitsunday. The booths here are the touristy ones – Hamilton Island and Hayman Island. Worth noting that this was a disaster zone for the Nationals last time due to their candidate.

6.38pm. The ABC results show an interesting early pattern: swings to Labor in Nationals seats. In each case it’s a very small number, which means these will be naturally inclining Nationals booths in rural areas.

6.35pm. One booth in Broadwater shows a big swing to Labor.

6.34pm. The ABC Radio presenters are getting excited about the first tiny booth in from Nanango, which has a strong showing for John Bjelke-Petersen.

6.07pm. I said live blogging would start at 6pm, so here I am, although I won’t have much to say for about half an hour. Those of you with no idea can acquire one by reading the list of key seats directly below, or the similar outline at Currumbin2Cook.The latter site is busting my live election blogging monopoly this evening, with Graham Young and Mark Bahnisch reporting live from the tally room. Newcomers to the magic of the internet are advised that they can have both open and the same time and effortlessly switch between the two.

Seats to watch

With less than an hour to go before polls close, I am finally withdrawing a few of my predicted Labor victories from my election guide: Clayfield, Barron River and Toowoomba North. I thought long and hard about including Keppel but utlimately decided that Paul Hoolihan would be saved by "sophomore surge". The Labor seats mospt likely to fall would appear to be as follows:

Clayfield (Labor 1.2%):. Writing in the Courier-Mail, ABC Radio presenter Madonna King reports that Liberal insiders believe they will win the seat. The Liberals have been targeting the seat with pamphlets showing a picture of a cemetery with the message: "This is the reality of health care under Peter Beattie". Former Liberal leader Joan Sheldon said on ABC Radio she expected the Liberals to win the seat. The precedent of Currumbin in 2004 is instructive of the potential effects of ministerial controversy, and it has prompted me to change my tip here and give it to the Liberals.

Barron River (Labor 3.1%): My instincts always told me that the retiring incumbent factor should make the difference here, and I have now decided to follow them. Former Liberal leader Joan Sheldon said on ABC Radio she expected the Liberals to win.

Kawana (Labor 1.5%): It is generally thought that the Traveston Dam controversy and the government’s dithering over location of a new hospital will deliver this seat to the Liberals.

Mudgeeraba (Labor 1.9%): A number of reports emerged earlier that Labor had "all but written off " the seat, but it has not been widely discussed late in the campaign. Liberal insiders quoted by Madonna King in the Courier-Mail are "hopeful"; Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian say only that Labor research indicates they “could lose”.

Indooroopilly (Labor 2.1%): Indooroopilly is a natural Liberal seat that must surely return to the fold sooner or later, but there are mixed messages as to whether that time is now. The Poll Bludger hears that this is one seat where Labor’s superior campaign resources has not been apparent, as Liberal candidate Peter Turner has invested heavily in his own campaign. On ABC Radio yesterday morning, Madonna King asked her election panellists why it was more widely anticipated that the Liberals would win Clayfield than Indooroopilly, but failed to extract a response worth relating.

Keppel (Labor 3.8%): Keppel is not natural Labor territory, having been won for them in 2004 upon the retirement of a long-term Nationals member. If there is something in the talk that the Nationals are travelling better in the north than the Liberals in the south, there is a high chance Keppel will return to the fold. Former Labor Treasurer David Hamill was quick to nominate the seat as one that might change hands when speaking on Madonna King’s program.

Aspley (Labor 4.3%): This was specifically nominated by Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail as a seat that had Labor worried, reportedly due to sagging Labor support in the outer suburbs. Madonna King in the Courier-Mail reported bullish noises from the Liberal camp.

Bundaberg (Labor 5.3%): The balance of opinion is that the Coalition’s botched new hospital promise will save Labor’s bacon in the seat that delivered the Jayant Patel affair. My own hesitant judgement is that the apparent certainty of an overall Labor victory will fortify locals to deliver a protest vote.

Toowoomba North (Labor 7.3%): Toowoomba North is being much more widely discussed than other seats with similar margins. Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail says the "local hospital story is shocking and water issues are as hot there as anywhere". The latter are of particular significance given that the Nationals candidate, Toowoomba councillor Lyle Shelton, was the public spearhead of the successful "no" campaign at the referendum on treated sewage water in Toowoomba’s drinking supply.

Pumicestone (Labor 5.4%): Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian report that the seat is "at risk because of the water issue because of the water issue and troubles with Caboolture Hospital"

Going purely on margins, Cairns (3.9 per cent), Hervey Bay (4.0 per cent), Broadwater (4.1 per cent) and Burleigh (5.0 per cent) would look to be well in contention, but they have generated little discussion in the latter half of the campaign. By contrast, interest has been expressed in the following less likely looking seats:

Cleveland (Labor 8.7%): Labor is losing a member of 14 years’ standing in Darryl Briskey. Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian describe the seat as ‘at risk’; Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail named the seat as one of two in which Labor polling was picking up "significant swings"; Madonna King in the Courier-Mail says Labor believes the seat "could be lost".

Kallangur (Labor 13.5%): Madonna King in the Courier-Mail says many Nationals are optimistic about this unlikely looking prospect; Dennis Atkins in the Courier-Mail also refers to "optimistic talk" in the Nationals camp.

Mulgrave (Labor 7.7%): Dennis Atkins is still hearing "optimistic talk" from the Nationals, whose 20-year-old candidate Krista Dunford has proved a hit with the media.

Mansfield (Labor 8.6%): Steven Wardill’s report that this seat has been "targeted" by the Liberals, but says otherwise troubling Labor polling shows them doing better here than in Aspley and Cleveland.

Everton (Labor 11.6%): This seat is off most observers’ radar, but Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser of The Australian describe it as "at risk".

Redlands (Labor 8.6%) and Whitsunday (Labor 14.8%): Madonna King in the Courier-Mail includes these in a list of seats that many Nationals are "optimistic about".

Then there are the potential Labor gains, the obvious candidates being the three they lost at mid-term by-elections. I am maintaining my assessment that Chatsworth and Redcliffe, which were narrowly won by the Liberals in the context of a low-turnout by-election, will return to the Labor fold; whereas the more naturally conservative seat of Gaven will stay with the Nationals. The remaining omissions from my list are the independent-held seats of Noosa and Gympie, but there has never been much doubt in my mind that these would be won by the Liberals and Nationals respectively. Final tally: Labor 55, Nationals 19, Liberals 10, independent 4, One Nation 1.

Labor by how much

If there is any substance to the notion that the Coalition has staged a late fightback, Gary Morgan will emerge from an election with bragging rights for the first time in many a long year. What is most remarkable about yesterday’s Roy Morgan poll is how very different it is from every other Morgan Queensland poll of the past two terms. The Labor primary vote of 45 per cent is 4 per cent lower than their previous worst Morgan result since the 2001 election, while the Coalition’s 39 per cent is 3 per cent higher than their previous best. However, the results are not the only thing that distinguishes this survey from its predecessors. Firstly, the sample of 604 compares with the 1,500 normally polled by Morgan; secondly, the survey was conducted by phone rather than the usual face-to-face. Gary Morgan himself remains a vocal critic of phone polling, but nonetheless displayed characteristic confidence in his figures when speaking with Madonna King on ABC Radio yesterday.

Newspoll on the other hand has produced identical primary vote figures to those published yesterday by Galaxy Research, an agency founded by former Newspoll general manager David Briggs. Both have Labor on 48 per cent and the Coalition on 38 per cent, although Newspoll produced a two-party result of 55-45 compared with Galaxy’s 56.5-43.5. Newspoll provides at least some support for the idea of a Coalition recovery since last week, when it recorded Labor’s primary vote at 52 per cent. The following chart shows the Labor primary vote in the main agencies’ polls over the past two months; note that this only amounts to two polls in Morgan’s case.

One last poll before closing: yesterday’s Gold Coast Bulletin featured a survey by Thomas Direct of 433 voters in Currumbin. This is the paper’s second such poll of the campaign, the other being published two weeks ago. At the time I was unable to get hold of a detailed breakdown of the results, so here are figures from both polls after distribution of the undecided:

CURRUMBIN 26/8 8/9
Jann Stuckey (Liberal) 48 49
Michael Riordan (Labor) 44 44
Inge Light (Greens) 8 7

Highlights of week four

As the Queensland election campaign enters its death throes, momentum is building behind the idea, if not the reality, of a late Coalition revival. Centrebet has received a last-minute flood of bets on Labor losing more than 10 seats, bringing its shortest price Labor seat outcome down from 59 to 55. AAP reckons "internal party research from both sides shows the Labor vote softening, albeit in patches across a range of safe and marginal seats". Peter Beattie is predictably disinclined to scotch the idea, warning of "movement against the Government in the last week". But unless you count Tuesday’s unconvincing Roy Morgan poll, the only evidence anyone can point to is party polling which might well be, as Lawrence Springborg would have it, "constructed research from the Labor Party … to try to blunt what they would perceive as a protest vote".

This morning brings yet another published poll to give credence to Springborg’s claim. According to the Courier-Mail’s Galaxy Research poll, Labor’s primary vote is up 1 per cent from the 2004 election to 48 per cent, with the Coalition also up slightly from 35.5 per cent to 38 per cent. The slack has been taken up from the ongoing decline of One Nation and its splinter groups, while the Greens have reportedly made late gains. It may still be true, as many have said, that the picture across the state is "lumpy", with Labor holding up in some areas and fading in others. Two assessments of the situation are worth quoting at length, the first from Dennis Atkins in Tuesday’s Courier-Mail:

The Nationals went into this poll confident they would pick up at least seven more seats than the 16 currently held and senior strategists for the Opposition still believe they are looking at an outcome with a "2" in front of it. High on their list are the Labor seats of Bundaberg, Toowoomba North, Hervey Bay and Keppel and a pair of Independent-held electorates, Gympie and Nanango. There is also optimistic talk of taking Mulgrave in the far north and Kallangur in the metropolitan northeast. Putting those last two seats aside, the other four Labor seats are certainly in play and a case can be made for Labor losing one or all of them. Toowoomba North’s local hospital story is shocking and water issues are as hot there as anywhere, while Bundaberg is the epicentre of everything horrible about Queensland Health. In Hervey Bay there is a bad hospital record and Keppel is a seat Labor never expected to win in 2004 and could easily lose.

The second comes from Greg Roberts and Andrew Fraser in today’s Australian:

The seat of Pumicestone is at risk because of the water issue and troubles with Caboolture Hospital … Labor seats within Brisbane that are marginal, such as Indooroopilly and Clayfield, appear safe. But supposedly safer seats on the city fringe are at risk, such as Cleveland and Everton, which is held by senior minister Rod Welford. Labor research suggests the two seats picked up by the Liberals in mid-term by-elections – Redcliffe and Chatsworth – could be returned, while outside Brisbane, Labor could lose Toowoomba North and the Gold Coast’s Mudgereeba.

All of which might yet prompt one or two revisions to the Poll Bludger’s election guide, but it is unlikely more than one or two seats will be shifted out of the Labor column. Some final Campaign Update additions:

Currumbin (Liberal 3.2%): The government has effectively scotched a controversial housing project in Currumbin Valley linked to former Labor heavyweight Terry Mackenroth. The Devine Group’s Hideaway development, which had been approved by Gold Coast City Council and upheld by the Planning and Environment Court, will now be called in for "review" after the election. According to Greg Stoltz of the Courier-Mail, "Labor sources said the project was ‘dead’". The project had been opposed by both Liberal member Jann Stuckey and Labor candidate Michael Riordan.

Bundaberg (Labor 5.3%): The Liberal campaign to tar Labor candidate Sonja Cleary with the Jayant Patel brush went all the way to federal parliament yesterday, where Health Minister Tony Abbott called for her disendorsement. As a local nurse, Cleary served on the District Health Council when its chairman signed a supportive letter to Patel after allegations were first raised against him. It also discussed efforts to identify those who had released information concerning Patel, which Abbott portrayed as a "witch-hunt against whistleblowers".

Gaven (Nationals 3.4%): Former Liberal vice-president and Gold Coast party identity Jim MacAnally has made a well-timed repeat of his criticism of the Coalition deal that allowed the Nationals to take Gaven. MacAnally claims the Liberals had "five times the electoral support of the Nationals in Gold Coast seats", which will come as no surprise to anyone who looks at the corresponding federal election results.

Caloundra (Liberal 1.3%): Lisa Allen of the Australian Financial Review reports on local anger that Caloundra’s Tripcony Hibiscus caravan park has been exempted from the government’s promise to cease selling parks for development.

Before I go, allow me to promote the fact that I will as usual be live-blogging the election count from 6pm EST tomorrow. Do come along.

Storming back into contention

When a modern Australian political party enters the final week of a campaign with a big lead in the polls, it remains nervously mindful of two cautionary precedents: the 1995 Queensland election, which brought Wayne Goss back to earth with a thud, and the 1999 Victorian election, which saw off the seemingly invicible Jeff Kennett. Human nature being what it is, those who had blithely assumed these governments would be returned were not attracted to the idea that they might simply have got it wrong. A more popular explanation was that the voters had been mistaken – that they had gone against their real preferred party because they believed its victory to be inevitable, and thought they could safely lodge a "protest vote".

Of course, it’s easy for me to be cynical, because I wasn’t in the electoral commentary game at the time (and I would no doubt have called it for Goss and Kennett if I had been). There is no question that the two elections stand testament to the importance of managing expectations, a lesson Peter Beattie and Labor have learned well. What then to make of the news that "secret Labor research" has appeared in the cubby hole of Courier-Mail journo Steven Wardill, and that it shows – surprise, surprise – Labor not doing nearly as well as everybody thinks:

… the Coalition may win some safe Labor seats while a host of marginal seats are too close to call. Labor insiders are describing their own internal polling as "lumpy", with the party facing large swings for and against it throughout the state. In other areas, support has remained unchanged since the election began. In a shock result, Labor is at risk of losing the safe seat of Cleveland, which had a margin of 8.7 per cent under the retiring Daryl Briskey. In the marginal seat of Aspley, sitting member Bonny Barry’s primary support has fallen from 50 per cent to 44, a 1 per cent lead from Liberal’s candidate, Tracy Davis. However, the Labor vote appears much stronger in the seat of Mansfield, which had been targeted by the Coalition.

There is no question that Labor has released these results to promote the idea that the election is up for grabs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t genuine. In fact, there is one good reason to think that they probably are: the figures that are actually provided don’t quite match the claims made for them. All we are told for sure is that Aspley and Cleveland are closer than you might expect. Are these the only figures Labor provided, or has Wardill seen numbers for this "host of marginal seats" that are "too close to call"? And if the Coalition truly has "stormed back into contention", shouldn’t it be making a clean sweep of marginals, given the current numbers in parliament?