Redcliffe by-election: February 22

A week out from polling day, a Galaxy poll finds Queensland Labor all but certain to secure an eighth seat at next week’s by-election to replace former LNP member Scott Driscoll.

Saturday, February 22

Today’s the day, so I’m bumping this back to the top of the page. For a perspective on the campaign from someone who’s been following it more closely than I have, try Amy Remeikis of the Brisbane Times.

Friday, February 14

GhostWhoVotes reports that a Galaxy poll has Labor with a commanding 57-43 two-party lead from primary votes of 48% for Labor, 35% for the LNP, 6% for the Greens and 8% for “independents”, of which there are five. This is very likely an automated phone poll with a sample of about 500.

Wednesday, February 5

Time to bump this thread back to the top of the page for those wishing to discuss the campaign. The only particularly notable new information I have to provide is Antony Green‘s observation that the by-election timetable offers “the shortest period for postal and pre-poll voting that I have ever seen”, which is unlikely to have wholesome motivations.

Wednesday, January 15

Full results from the Lonergan poll: Yvette D’Ath (Labor) 53%; Kerri-Anne Dooley (LNP) 29%; John Marshall (Greens) 7%; Len Thomas (Independent) 5%; Gabriel Buckley (Independent) 3%; Talosaga McMahon (Independent) 2%.

Tuesday, January 14

The Guardian reports an automated phone poll of 891 respondents conducted from January 9-12 by Lonergan Research has Labor’s Yvette D’Ath headed for an easy victory with 53% of the primary vote. The only other detail provided in the report relates to questions concerning the most important issue, but I’ll hopefully be able to chase up the rest of the voting intention numbers tomorrow.

Monday, January 13

Antony Green on Twitter relates that February 22 has been set as the date for the by-election.

Thursday, December 19

I’m bumping this post up the batting order to bring news that a union-commissioned ReachTEL poll of 774 respondents conducted on Friday and Saturday had Labor on a handy lead of 42.1% to 35.3% on the primary vote, with the Palmer United Party on 8.6% and the Greens on 5.1%. That pans out to 54-46 to Labor based on the preference distribution from the 2012 election. This comes as the Liberal National Party announces its candidate will be Kerri-Anne Dooley, who was Family First’s candidate for the seat in 2012.

Thursday, November 28

Tony Moore of Fairfax reports that February 1 is looming as the likely date of both the Redcliffe state and Griffith federal by-elections, with Campbell Newman saying the election should be held after the Australia Day long weekend of January 26. Yvette D’Ath has confirmed she will run for Labor, while Jamie-Leigh Mason of the Redcliffe & Bayside Herald reports a number of names have been mentioned as possible Liberal National Party candidates, including Martin Hall, Hornibrook Bus Lines general manager and Redcliffe City Chamber of Commerce president; Michael Connolly, “organiser of a community rally for better government representation”; and Dean Teasdale, a property services company manager who run in Petrie at the 2010 federal election.

Wednesday, November 20

Hot on the heels of Kevin Rudd’s retirement announcement, Queensland voters are set to enjoy more by-election action courtesy of yesterday’s resignation from state parliament by Scott Driscoll, who won the northern Brisbane seat of Redcliffe for the Liberal National Party as part of the electoral landslide of March 24, 2012. Driscoll cited health reasons for his decision to resign, but it was obviously no coincidence that this followed immediately after a parliamentary ethics committee found him guilty of 42 counts of contempt of parliament, with the recommendation that he be expelled and fined $90,000. The charges relate to Driscoll’s failure to declare income received through his and his wife’s involvement in local retailers’ and community associations, and his claim in parliament to have ended his role as voluntary president of the retailers’ association, which the committee found “on the balance of probabilities” to be untrue.

The prospect of Driscoll’s expulsion, which Campbell Newman had called upon the committee to recommend in September, raises interesting questions about the right of a parliamentary majority to reverse decisions made by voters, particularly in circumstances where no criminal charges are pending. Expulsion of members is an ancient prerogative of the British parliament which its two houses retain to this day, but which our own federal parliament saw fit to deny itself through legislation passed in 1987. The only time the federal parliament had exercised such power was in 1920 after Labor MP Hugh Mahon made “seditious and disloyal utterances” in relation to British policy in Ireland. Mahon was nonetheless able to contest the ensuing by-election for his seat of Kalgoorlie, but was narrowly unsuccessful (which to this day remains the only occasion of a government winning a seat from the opposition at a federal by-election).

Numbers indicate 2012 state election booth locations and the size of the Liberal National Party two-party preferred vote. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Today’s Courier-Mail reports that the only precedent for expulsion from the Queensland parliament goes all the way back to 1869, and even that would seem to belong in the separate category of disqualification. This occurred after voters in the central Queensland district of Kennedy, who were still new to the practice of democracy, saw fit to honour the renowned English radical parliamentarian John Bright by electing him at a by-election by a margin of 79 votes to 78. The Queensland parliamentary website relates that Bright’s election had been championed by advocates of a separate colony for central and northern Queensland, who hoped he might pursue their cause in the House of Commons. Bright never visited Australia and was naturally unable to assume his seat, and indeed “probably was unaware of his connection with the Queensland parliament”.

More concrete examples of expulsion emerged from the New South Wales and Victorian parliaments resulting from bribery, electoral fraud and “seditious libel”, though none occurred more recently than 1901. However, a modern precedent with parallels to the present situation emerged in New South Wales in 2003, when Malcolm Jones of the Outdoor Recreation Party — who had foreshadowed the result of the recent Senate election by preference-harvesting his way to a seat with 0.2% of the vote — was found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have engaged in corrupt conduct relating to parliamentary entitlements. The chamber commenced proceedings to follow up on ICAC’s recommendation that it consider expelling Jones, who like Driscoll solved the problem by resigning. But whereas Jones’s position was filled by another member of his own party as a casual vacancy, Driscoll’s departure will entail the expense and inconvenience of a by-election.

Redcliffe booth results map from the seat of Petrie at the 2013 federal election. Teal and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for the LNP and Labor. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

This will be the first by-election held in Queensland since the election of the Newman government, and while the existing LNP margin in the seat of Redcliffe is 10.1%, Labor will be more than encouraged by the recent example of the Miranda by-election in New South Wales, at which Labor candidate Barry Collier swept to victory with a stunning 26.1% swing. Working in Labor’s favour will be the circumstances that brought the by-election about, and perhaps also a perception of an unhealthy imbalance in the parties’ parliamentary representation, with 74 government members facing seven from the opposition. The amount of slack awaiting to be taken up by Labor is indicated by the federal election result, at which Labor’s two-party preferred vote was about 11.5% higher in the relevant booths than it had been at the state election.

However, a complication might emerge in the shape of the Palmer United Party, whose principal could well give vent to its hostility against Campbell Newman by bankrolling another high-profile campaign. While by-elections generally present propitious circumstances for parties who thrive on protest votes, the bar for a PUP candidate would be raised under the state electoral system of optional preferential voting, which would have deprived the party of many of the Labor preferences that Clive Palmer relied upon to defeat the LNP in Fairfax. So far, the only potential candidate to be discussed in media reportage is Labor’s Yvette D’Ath, who was narrowly defeated in the corresponding seat of Petrie at the federal election after two terms as member.

The by-election could theoretically be held as early as December 21, but as in Griffith it will presumably be delayed until after the school holidays. What follows is an updated version of the entry for Redcliffe from my 2012 election guide:

Redcliffe occupies the peninsula 25 kilometres north of central Brisbane which bears its name, along with Moreton Island. The LNP is strong at the peninsula’s northern tip around Scarborough, while the remainder leans to Labor. The electorate was created in 1960 and held for its first 19 years by Jim Houghton, first as a Liberal and later with the National/Country Party. The Liberals did not take his defection lying down, and the electorate became a battleground between the two parties throughout the 1970s. Only with Houghton’s mid-term retirement in 1979 did the seat return to the Liberal fold, the ensuing by-election being won by Terry White. White became leader of the party in August 1983 at the head of the disastrous anti-Joh rebellion which cost most of his colleagues their seats at the election held two months later. He eventually lost the seat when it fell to Labor in 1989, and now lends his name to a national chain of pharmacies.

The incoming Labor member, Ray Hollis, retained the seat on uncomfortable margins in 1995 and 1998 before picking up a 13.7 per cent swing with the 2001 landslide, but he was nearly brought back to earth in 2004 when Liberal candidate Terry Rogers picked up a 10.5 per cent swing. Rogers was rewarded for his performance with an uncontested preselection when Hollis retired mid-term in July 2005, which along with Terry Mackenroth’s departure initiated the twin by-elections of Redcliffe and Chatsworth the following month. Both were won by the Liberals, with Rogers securing a 1.2 per cent margin after an 8.3 per cent two-party swing. As with Michael Caltabiano in Chatsworth, Rogers’ parliamentary career did not survive beyond the end of the term: Labor’s defeated by-election candidate, Lillian van Litsenburg, prevailed on her second attempt at the September 2006 election with a 5.4 per cent margin that represented a 6.6 per cent swing to Labor compared with the by-election, and a 1.7 per cent swing to the Liberals compared with the 2004 election.

Van Litsenburg was a former school teacher and Redcliffe councillor associated with the Labor Forum faction. Scott Driscoll, a former national president of the United Retail Foundation, defeated van Litsenburg at the 2012 election with a 15.7% swing, slightly above the statewide result of 13.7%.

South Brisbane by-election live

# % Swing 2PP (proj.) Swing
McKenzie (IND) 318 1.8%
Panorea (DSP) 662 3.7%
McCreery (FFP) 237 1.3%
Bragg (GRN) 3,602 20.3% 2.3%
Grehan (LNP) 6,549 36.9% -1.2% 48.1% 2.7%
Flenady (IND) 171 1.0% -1.0%
Trad (ALP) 5,860 33.0% -5.9% 51.9% -2.7%
Wardrop (KAP) 368 2.1% -1.2%
TOTAL 17,767
Booths counted 18 out of 18
Votes counted 57.6% of enrolled voters

Late Saturday. I’ve finally added the last two Labor two-party figures, from their strong booths of West End and St Francis, and they have added 1% to the Labor result and brought my figures into line with Antony Green’s. There has also been a second batch of 646 pre-poll votes added, which had the Greens about 4% higher and the LNP about 4% lower than the first batch. My guess is that the first batch came from the Woolloongabba office and the second from the Brisbane CBD office. Unlike the polling booth results, these haven’t come yet with two-party results, but when they do they should cut about 100 from Labor’s 822 vote lead. Presumably that’s it for pre-polls, which should leave about 2000 postals plus a couple of dozen odds and sods, which will need to split implausibly heavily to the LNP (approaching 70-30) to trouble Labor’s lead.

8.34pm. Perhaps I spoke too soon just now – a few more two-party results have dragged Labor’s lead back below 1%.

8.32pm. The last two primary vote results are in. The few remaining two-party results (four booths) are unlikely to make much of a change to the current projection, and I won’t be adding them until later. Nobody would be conceding defeat this evening, but I certainly am expecting Labor to hang on. Before I go, another pointer to an interesting aspect of the rate of exhausted preferences, which has gone from 36.7% to over 50%.

8.01pm. West End and Stones Corner have reported: the former gave Labor a fillip, but the latter took some of it back again.

7.52pm. Still to report: West End, far the electorate’s biggest booth at 2759 at the election; another West End booth, St Francis, 1704 votes; and smaller Brisbane and Stones Corner, 376 and 771 respectively.

7.50pm. Two-party results coming in at a fairly rapid clip, nudging the Labor lead down slightly. Four booths remaining to report primary votes, each one very important.

7.44pm. Big Kangaroo Point booth’s preferences added. Not much regional variation to speak of in the swing.

7.42pm. Three more booths in. I was a bit worried by the discrepancy between my result and Antony’s, but his projection seems to be coming into line with mine.

7.38pm. Another south-eastern booth, Thompson Estate, and it’s another 6% drop in the primary vote for Labor. I see Antony Green’s projecting a worse result for Labor than me.
7.31pm. St Ita’s goes against my hypothesis that West End might go easier on Labor, giving the same 4% swing as the rest of the electorate.

7.28pm. Greenslopes yet another booth from the south-east. West End very unrepresented in the count so far.

7.26pm. Greenslopes booth steadies Labor a little.

7.25pm. Coorparoo has reported its preference count, and a relatively good Labor split there means I’ve got them very slightly back in front.

7.16pm. Big hike in exhausted preferences damaging Labor, such that an extra booth’s 2PP numbers puts my projection back at exactly 50-50. Labor also seems to have shed 6% on the primary vote with the LNP more or less steady.

7.14pm. Booths reporting so far are from the “old Labor” south-eastern part of the electorate. As on election night, I expect the more inner city booths will be better for Labor, improving their position as the evening progresses. Just supposition at this stage though.

7.11pm. Annerley Junction, Kangaroo Point and Dutton Park now added. Picture now is of a swing to Labor, but not quite enough for them to lose, with two quirky results in PA (very good for Labor) and Coorparoo (very good for LNP). Two booths now in on 2PP.

7.09pm. Bad results for Labor from Coorparoo now has me projecting the LNP in front. Annerley not as bad for them: 3.2% swing rather than 13.7%.

7.01pm. I’m leaving it out of my calculation for now because there are too few votes, but the PA booth’s two-party count suggests a big increase in exhausted preferences: from 37% to nearly 50%.

6.54pm. Second booth reports (Mater Hospital), and it cancels out the other booth’s swing by going 3.3% the other way.

6.50pm. Antony Green calculates a 7% swing in PA booth, which is higher than mine. Still splitting hairs over not very much at this stage though.

6.47pm. 689 pre-polls added, and compared with the election pre-poll total they show a big swing to the LNP – but this mean that they may come from an LNP-friendly polling location. I am only using booth results to project primary vote swings and the 2PP, to the current numbers are still based purely on the PA booth.

6.35pm. Tiny P.A. booth (156 votes) swings 4% to Labor. Labor steady, Greens up a bit, LNP well down.

6pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the South Brisbane by-election count. I might also throw in the odd comment about the Brisbane council as well, and I encourage discussion of both events in comments. As results come in, as they should start to do a bit before 7pm, the table above will display the raw numbers and percentages of votes counted; primary vote swings obtained by comparing the booths which have reported with the same booths at the election; and a two-party result and swing likewise obtained by booth-matching. Until the first two-party preferred results are reported (and they generally lag about half an hour behind the primary votes), the preference distribution from the election will be applied: 49% to Labor, 14% to the LNP and 37% exhausted. When such results become available, the preference split will be calculated and projected across the primary vote results of all booths where two-party results have yet to be reported.

Queensland part two: April 28

UPDATE 2 (26/4): Another ReachTel poll, this time of a large sample of 1085, finds the lord mayoralty race set for a repeat of Campbell Newman’s landslide in 2008. Newman’s LNP successor, Graham Quirk, is on 58%, Labor’s Ray Smith on 25% and Andrew Bartlett of the Greens on 14%. Whereas sentiment in the South Brisbane poll (see below) was that the size of the LNP parliamentary majority was reason against voting for them again, nearly as many (31%) lord mayoralty poll respondents said the election result was more reason to vote LNP as less (35.5%).

UPDATE (24/4): ReachTel has published an automated phone poll for South Brisbane, and while the sample is small (300), the result is good news for Labor, putting their primary vote at 44% (up five on the election) with the LNP down three-and-a-half to 34.5% and the Greens up one to 19%. Tellingly, 56.5% say the size of the LNP’s majority makes them less likely to vote for them (against 19.5% more likely), with “size of the LNP’s majority” ranking second on a list of six issues rated as most important (less happily for Labor, cost of living ranks first). A ReachTel poll on the lord mayoralty will follow tomorrow.

Another trip to the polling booth for Queensland voters next week, this time to vote in local government elections and, for the lucky residents of the capital’s inner south, to choose a successor to Anna Bligh in South Brisbane, one of just seven seats in which Labor was spared defeat on March 24. Bligh survived a 10.3% swing to hold on by a margin of 4.7%, her primary vote down from 48.4% to 38.6% with the LNP up from 27.9% to 38.1% and the Greens up from 17.5% to 18.1%.

South Brisbane follows the southern bank of the Brisbane River from East Brisbane through South Bank, Woolloongabba and Dutton Park, also extending southwards to Stones Corner. Electorally speaking, it can be roughly divided into three parts: inner-city West End, where the Greens scored about a quarter of the vote, Labor about 40% and the LNP about 30%; the more conventionally working-class south-east of the electorate, where Labor and the LNP were slightly higher and the Greens vote was in the mid-teens; and East Brisbane, more affluent and less bohemian than West End, where the LNP vote was at around 50% compared with a little over 30% for Labor and a little over 10% for the Greens. It was the Labor heartland area of the south-east that swung most heavily at the election, and since these booths reported earliest, the ABC’s early swing projections made Bligh appear in more trouble than she was. The map below shows two-party preferred results by polling booth, with the size of the numbers varying according to number of votes cast (from below 500 to approaching 3000).

The by-election has attracted eight candidates, in ballot paper order: Jason McKenzie (who says his piece in comments), Penny Panorea (Daylight Saving Party), Penny McCreery (Family First), Jo-Anne Bragg (Greens), Clem Grehan (LNP), Liam Flenady (Independent), Jackie Trad (Labor) and Robert Wardrop (Katter’s Australian Party). Grehan, Bragg, Wardrop and Flenady were all candidates at the state election, respectively polling 39.2%, 18.1%, 3.4% and 1.9% to Bligh’s 38.6%. Jackie Trad is the party’s assistant state secretary and a former staffer to Anna Bligh, who reportedly had long groomed Trad as her successor. Trad won Labor preselection without opposition, after defeated ministers Andrew Fraser and Cameron Dick promptly declared their lack of interest in using the seat to return to parliament. Clem Grehan boasts that his “career has progressed from labourer and chainman to surveyor to lecturer to construction planner to project manager”. Jo-Anne Bragg is “director of a non-profit community legal centre that helps people with advice on planning, pollution, nature conservation, mining and gas”. Antony Green offers details on the other candidates, and much more besides.

Then there are the council elections, which are uniquely interesting in the case of Brisbane City Council owing to the municipality’s size, the extent of its powers and the partisanship of its electoral contests. They are also quite unlike elections at higher tiers of government in that voters separately elect an “executive” (the lord mayoralty) and a “legislature” (the council), as as the American custom, with victory in the former not ensuring control of the latter. Like the South Brisbane by-election, this election will also offer an interesting case study of voter psychology in the aftermath of an unprecedented electoral landslide. It’s worth remembering that Campbell Newman came to the lord mayoralty in a surprise win a few weeks after the Coalition parties were trounced at the 2004 state election (although conversely, the Nationals lost the state seat of Surfers Paradise to an independent at a by-election when Rob Borbidge quit parliament in the wake of the 2001 bloodbath).

The incument in the lord mayoralty is Graham Quirk, the former councillor for Macgregor ward who succeeded Campbell Newman in April 2011. Labor’s candidate is Ray Smith, chief executive of television production company Cutting Edge. Former Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett is running for the Greens, and the unregistered Australian Sex Party is behind the candidacy of independent Rory Killen. Labor goes into the election off a low base, Campbell Newman having been re-elected in 2008 with 60.1% of the primary vote compared with 29.0% for Labor’s Greg Rowell, following what had been a fairly desultory Labor campaign. At that time, Newman was famously the most senior Coalition politician in the country, with all federal, state and territory governments in Labor hands. The LNP won 16 of the 26 wards with the remaining 10 won by Labor, although one Liberal councillor, Nicole Johnston in Tennyson, has since quit the party to sit as an independent. The most interesting of the ward contests to lay observers is that for Labor’s most marginal ward, Central, which is being contested by Peter Beattie’s wife Heather. As for the others, the indefatigable Antony Green has come good with a ward-by-ward guide.

Brisbane Central by-election live

Vote Swing 2PP
Grace Grace (Labor) 50.7 0.2 61.1
Anna Boccabella (Greens) 33.2 14.9 38.9
Mark A. White (Family First) 7.9
Ian Nelson (One Nation) 2.1
Erik Olaf Eriksen 3.2
Ronald Davy 2.8 COUNT 76 %

7.54pm. Wilston added. Labor wins. That’s me done for the evening.

7.43pm. Kelvin Grove added, leaving only Wilston.

7.30pm. St Pauls Terrace booth added.

7.29pm. As for turnout: 14,893 formal votes have been counted compared with 15,698 at the same booths last year.

7.26pm. New Farm School added.

7.25pm. Brisbane booth added.

7.22pm. Merthyr booth added. I’m also now using a real-world preference split of 27 per cent Labor, 11 per cent Greens and 62 per cent exhaust. The exhaustion figure I cited earlier was obviously a miscalculation.

7.16pm. Windsor booth added.

7.13pm. I’ve changed the Labor and Greens vote from “raw” to “adjusted”.

7.10pm. New Farm added.

7.09pm. Although there are in fact only 38 per cent exhausting.

7.07pm. Two-party results from four booths at the ECQ suggest Stephen L’s preference guess was pretty much spot on.

7.04pm. Ballymore booth added.

6.59pm. Newmarket, Newmarket South and Swan Hill booths added.

6.57pm. I have installed Stephen L’s suggested preference distribution, and corrected an error that had my 2PP calculation flattering the Greens.

6.51pm. Slightly larger Fortitude Valley has the Labor vote up a little.

6.49pm. Tiny Herston booth indicates a quite strong performance by the Greens, but with Labor still on track for a primary vote over 50 per cent.

6.43pm. Once again, above figures are for test purposes.

6.35pm. I’m just going to split non-Labor and Greens preferences 50/50. Anyone disagree?

6.34pm. Figures above are for test purposes only.

6.22pm. Welcome to my live coverage of the Brisbane Central by-election. Results should start coming in in about 15 minutes or so, time I will need to spend debugging the above table.

Brisbane Central by-election preview

The by-election to fill Peter Beattie’s vacancy in the state seat of Brisbane Central will be held tomorrow. With the Liberals sensibly declining to field a candidate, it is unlikely to be terribly exciting, despite inevitable wild talk about the Greens’ chances. The Nationals were at one point making noises about filling the void with a candidate of their own, apparently convinced that this would add weight to their argument that they should still be considered a going concern in the urban south-east. However, the plan was abandoned when they failed to find a suitable candidate in time. More and better coverage from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo; tune in here tomorrow evening for half-hearted live coverage of the count. The candidates in ballot paper order:

Erik Olaf Eriksen. Beyond the fact that he polled 171 votes as a candidate for Clayfield at the state election last September, Eriksen’s identity is a mystery.

Mark A. White (Family First). Hoping to monopolise the conservative vote, White is described as a “telecommunications manager and father of six”.

Ian Nelson (One Nation). Nelson is also One Nation’s lead Queensland Senate candidate, and is presumably running to boost his profile. More on Nelson’s outlook on life can be ascertained from videos viewable here and here.

Anne Boccabella (Greens). The Greens website describes Boccabella as “a long-time community activist with 28 years experience as a successful small business owner”.

Ronald Davy. The other of the two independents in the field is no less an enigma than Eriksen.

Grace Grace (Labor). So good they named her twice (she in fact acquired the name through marriage, her maiden name of Grace Farfaglia bespeaking her Italian heritage), the Queensland Council of Unions general secretary was immediately mentioned as a possible replacement for Beattie along with Michael Dart, chief-of-staff to Sports Minister Andrew Fraser, and Milton Dick, party state secretary, who both promptly withdrew. Steve Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported that Grace’s nomination was fast-tracked by the party’s administrative committee after Anna Bligh chose a short time-frame for the by-election campaign, prompting familiar sounding grumbling from local party members. Wardill said it was “understood Ms Bligh and Mrs Grace posed together for candidate photographs in New Farm Park … before the by-election date was even announced”. The process was apparently driven by factional arrangements that effectively secured the seat for Unity (also known as the “old guard”), a sub-faction of the Right distinct from the AWU-dominated Labor Forum.

UPDATE: Still more from Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo, this time with videos.

Peter out

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced his intention to retire as of Thursday. He will hand the reins to long-established heir presumptive Anna Bligh, who will follow Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner to become Australia’s third female premier. This means a by-election looms in Beattie’s seat of Brisbane Central. While this is hard to get excited about (it is all but certain that the Liberals will not field a candidate), it’s interesting to note that Beattie’s margin fell from 25.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and then to 14.8 per cent in 2006. Of greater interest is the symbolism involved in two state premiers recently deciding to quit while at the top of their game, and the contrast presented by the present incumbent of The Lodge.

Gaven by-election live

. Primary Swing 2PP Swing
LABOR 36.8 -10.8 46.6 -8.4
NATIONALS* 42.5 3.7 53.4 8.4
Greens 7.8 -0.1
Others 12.9 7.1 95% COUNTED
* Nationals swings compared with Liberal in 2004

Monday 4.00am. A slightly puzzling article from Jamie Walker and Emma Chalmers in the Courier-Mail (join in the fun and suggest your own alternative title for the paper in comments), which tells us that the swing "is expected to blow out from 7.5 per cent", and that Labor is "bracing" for it to pass 8 per cent. But the ECQ’s two-party figures, which are correctly quoted in the article, already have it at 8.3 per cent. Another eyebrow-raiser is the assertion that there are "3500 postal and pre-polling votes still to be counted", which if literally correct will mean more than 6000 non-polling booth votes have been lodged, compared with 3198 at the Chatsworth by-election and 3455 at Redcliffe. It may be that they know something I don’t, but for the time being I will conclude that the 3500 figure includes the 2692 that have already been counted. The figure of 95 per cent in the table above is based on this assumption.

Sunday 1.30pm. Might as well keep going. Postals and pre-polls are in, leaving only about 200 absent and declared institution votes remaining. Postals accounted for more than 8 per cent of the total and have run badly against Labor, the 13.6 per cent two-party swing being worse than any booth. Pre-polls have gone the other way, swinging only 1.5 per cent, but there were less than a quarter as many. My calculations have done their job, because the 8.3 per cent swing now indicated by the ECQ compares with the 8.1 per cent projected on this site last night and the 7.3 per cent you would have heard about in the media.

8.42m. You don’t get rid of me that easily. Two points worth making: first, a uniform swing of 8 per cent at a general election would cost Labor 20 seats and reduce it to 43 seats out of 89, two short of a majority. Since by-elections are always a free kick for the opposition, it does not seem that the Beattie government’s plight is severe enough to cost it power at the election due early next year. Secondly, the turnout for this by-election has been quite remarkable: 23,217 votes lodged at polling booths compared with 22,418 at the 2004 election. How often does a by-election produce a turnout higher than at the previous general election? By way of comparison, 16,381 votes were lodged at the recent Victoria Park by-election in WA, compared with 22,911 at the state election of barely more than a year ago. No doubt this is testament in large part to the continuing population explosion on the Gold Coast. Beyond that, I wouldn’t care to speculate.

8.11pm. One more thing: great job by the ECQ. Granted that they had fewer booths to keep on top of than at any by-election I have seen, but this is the first time I have seen each booth come in one at a time, and not in unmanageable and suspense-destroying spurts.

8.09pm. The ECQ has “final for election night” in big red writing at the top of the page, so I guess that’s it for the evening. You have as always been a wonderful audience, and I will continue to keep an eye out for comments thread activity for another hour or so.

8.01pm. Not sure if we’ll be seeing any pre-polls or postals this evening (we did for the Victoria Park by-election in WA a few weeks ago). I’ll hang around a bit longer to find out.

7.59pm. Notional preferences now in from Pacific Pines as well, and this time I could be bothered. A further drift of preferences away from Labor has added 0.1 per cent to the swing.

7.55pm. Notional preferences at Nerang PYC have favoured Labor less than average, but not by enough that I can be bothered altering the table at this point.

7.51pm. Still waiting on notional 2PP in Nerang PYC and Pacific Pines, but you get the picture. The Nationals have won the seat with a swing of about 8.0 per cent, similar to that achieved by the Liberals in last year’s Redcliffe by-election (8.3 per cent) but substantially less than that from the Chatsworth by-election (13.9 per cent) held on the same day.

7.49pm. The ECQ seem to have docked the Greens a vote in favour of the Nationals in the Nerang booth. Wonder what happened there.

7.46pm. With notional figures in from all but two booths, preferences have swung back a little in Labor’s favour. They now favour Labor 15.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent, with 70 per cent exhausting (compared with 60 per cent in 2004).

7.41pm. Pacific Pines is now in and has registered a fairly typical 8.6 per cent swing against Labor.

7.4opm. Unless I’m doing something wrong here, further notional 2PP results suggests that preferences are actually favouring the Nationals. The table has been adjusted again and the swing has increased further.

7.33pm. First notional 2PP results are in, and they suggest 17 per cent of preferences are going to Labor, 16 per cent to the Nationals and 66 per cent exhausting. So Labor are doing less well than suggested by my initial figures, which have now been adjusted.

7.28pm. Nerang PYC, worth 8 per cent of the total, has swung 6.6 per cent on 2PP, lower than average but still enough to cost Labor the seat if uniform.

7.26pm. In answer to an earlier question to myself, Greens candidate Glen Ryman has chipped in in comments to say Daren Riley is broadly of the right, so it’s unlikely his preferences would rescue Labor. Both his and the Greens’ vote have faded a little from the 10 per cent ballpark mentioned early, and they’re now on more like 8 per cent.

7.24pm. The only outstanding booths are Nerang PYC (8 per cent) and Pacific Pines (11 per cent).

7.2opm. The biggest booth, Helensvale North, is now in, and if there was any hope left for Labor it’s probably gone now. The swing was 8.5 per cent. The one possible wild card is that preferences will fall very differently this time, although I don’t see why they would.

7.18pm. Bit of a delay in my table update there. Booths just mentioned are now up.

7.15pm. Gaven and Helensvale have also swung against Labor by enough to cost them the seat – 8.1 per cent and 7.4 per cent.

7.12pm. Two fairly large booths may have put it beyond Labor’s reach. Nerang West and Oxenford are both worth about 10 per cent and have swung against Labor by 7.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

7.10pm. Glen Ryman of the Greens and independent Daren Riley, of whom I know nothing, are both on about 10 per cent. Preferences of the latter could prove very important. One Nation and independent Phil Connolly (who was once a One Nation candidate) are doing less well, both on 2-3 per cent.

7.07pm. Not so good for Labor in Nerang, although it’s a small booth worth 5 per cent of the vote. Labor down 10.9 per cent and the Coalition up 7.0 per cent for a 10.1 per cent two-party swing, enough to put the Nationals back in the lead.

7.05pm. Bicentennial Hall was in fact the worst booth for Labor in 2004, with a margin of just 0.9 per cent.

7.02pm. Something to chew on: when will the notional 2PP from the Brisbane booth be in? How long can it take to count 29 votes?

6.58pm. The first substantial booth is in and unless my calculations are askew, it’s a very encouraging result for Labor. Bicentennial Hall was worth 7 per cent of the total in 2004 and while Labor are down 9.6 per cent on the primary vote, the Coalition are down 2.5 per cent as well. My two-party calculation is a swing of less than 3.9 per cent, less than the Nationals will need to win the seat.

6.55pm. Another clarification while we wait: until notional two-candidate details are in from the ECQ, calculations in the above table will assume the same preference distribution as 2004 – 22 per cent to Labor, 18 per cent to the Coalition and 60 per cent exhausting.

6.48pm. Teething problem number one now sorted.

6.45pm. The first figures in are actually those lodged in Brisbane, of which there are a mere 29. So it wouldn’t do to read much into the results above just yet.

6.42pm. A caveat to the bit about early results flattering Labor: I am referring to the raw figures you will get at the ECQ. The results in the table above will be adjusted to take booth variations into account.

6.40pm. A quick preview while we wait. There are nine booths in the electorate, the smallest number I have ever encountered. Labor recorded majorities in all of them in 2004, but its majorities were noticeably smaller at the far north end (Helensvale North and Oxenford) and the far south (Bicentennial Hall and the three Nerang booths). The three best booths for Labor were the three in between, at Gaven (15.8 per cent Labor majority), Helensvale (8.3 per cent) and Pacific Pines (10.8 per cent). The two largest booths, Helensvale North (15 per cent of voters) and Nerang West (12 per cent), were also two of the best for the Coalition, with Labor majorities of 2.1 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively. So it can be presumed that the early results will tend to flatter Labor.

6.10pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Gaven by-election. First results should be in at around 6.45pm.

These foolish things

Just one more sleep until the April Fools’ Day by-election for the Queensland state seat of Gaven, which as usual will be covered live on this site shortly after polls close at 6pm local time. The campaign period has been well-served for opinion polls, with today’s effort in the Gold Coast Bulletin adding to an overall picture of a likely Labor defeat, though with a less bruising swing than at last year’s Chatsworth and Redcliffe by-elections. No minor party figures are available in the online article, although the paper’s editorial refers to "the apparent collapse of the Greens vote" – though there is little doubt they are reading too much into results from a small sample (UPDATE: Gaps now filled thanks to Greens candidate Glen Ryman’s contribution in comments). The overall sample was 420, with 18 per cent of those surveyed failing to indicate a preference.

Labor 34 34 39 37
Nationals 11 41 43 43
Liberal 33
Greens 9 11 7 6
Others 13 14 11 14
Sample 230 300 265 345

Some recent developments on the campaign trail:

• Andrew Fraser reports in today’s Australian that Peter Beattie has indulged in a last-minute $50 million spending spree, designed to saturate the media with good news in the brief period after the end of the Commonwealth Games. The shopping list includes a new police precinct for the local area complete with 22 new officers; a new school; an upgrade of nearby Robina Hospital; and an announcement that $100 million will be spent on "power-related projects on the Gold Coast".

• Cyclone Larry, which has only dropped off Queensland’s front pages in the past few days, also fit in nicely with Beattie’s campaign media cycle. Furthermore, Mark Ludlow of the Financial Review reports that media monitoring data shows Beattie was mentioned 4165 times in the media in the past week, compared with just 86 mentions of Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg. Ludlow also reports that "predicted swings of 15 per cent against the government have now been scaled down to about 10 per cent, courtesy of Mr Beattie’s performance after Cyclone Larry".

• A Labor radio advertisement that uses barnyard animal noises to mock the Nationals has provoked an angry response from the party, no doubt because they are sensitive to its likely impact in the wholly urbanised electorate.

• After earlier hedging their bets, the Greens have decided to direct preferences to Labor after receiving an undertaking that the government will "do all they can" to purchase 70 hectares of environmentally sensitive land from building company CSR Hynix.

• Independent candidate Phil Connolly will face court next month after police allegedly found an unlicensed semi-automatic rifle on his property.

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