Wentworth by-election final result: Phelps 51.2, Sharma 48.8

With the last remaining postal votes counted, Kerryn Phelps emerges with a winning margin of 1851 votes.

There’s a fair bit going on on the blog right now, so for those of you focused on the top of the page, note the various threads below this one: the main discussion thread, Adrian Beaumont’s post on the US mid-terms, my comprehensive Victorian election campaign summary and the one where I plead for donations.

And now to the matter at hand: the last batch of postals have finally been added for the Wentworth by-election, for which my full accounting of the results can be found here. The late postals have broken 232-164 in favour of Kerryn Phelps, who emerges with a winning margin of 38,989 (51.2%) to 37,138 (48.8%), or 1851 votes. All that remains to be done is the formal distribution of preferences, which might yet turn up a few small anomalies.

BludgerTrack: 53.9-46.1 to Labor

One new poll and no change at all on the latest poll aggregate update.

Essential Research was the only new poll this week, and it has no bearing whatsoever on the voting intention numbers in BludgerTrack. However, there is a fair bit going on in the state breakdowns, with the Coalition losing a seat in New South Wales, but gaining one apiece in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. No new numbers this week on leadership ratings. Full results on the sidebar.

Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor

A new poll suggests voters want parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage if they can’t get their favoured option of a plebiscite, as the Coalition primary vote maintains a slow downward trend.

This week’s Essential Research finds the Coalition down a point on the primary vote to 37%, Labor steady on 37%, the Greens steady on 10%, One Nation up one to 6% and the Nick Xenophon Team steady on 4%, with two-party preferred unchanged at 52-48 in favour of Labor. The poll also finds 53% favouring a vote by parliament on same-sex marriage in the event that the Senate blocks a plebiscite, with only 29% opposed. Support for the proposed plebiscite question, “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, is at 60% with 30% opposed, compared with results of 57% and 28% when the same question was posed a month ago. Only 22% of respondents supported the goverment’s plan for $7.5 million of advertising to be provided for both sides of the argument, with 68% opposed. When asked about the biggest threats to job security in Australia, 31% nominated “free trade deals that allow foreign workers into the Australian market”, 23% companies using labour hire and contracting out, 18% the impact of technological change, and high wages in last place on 11%.

In other news, I mean to start shaking myself out of a spell of post-election laziness, so I’ll have BludgerTrack back in one form or another next week. In the meantime, I have the following to relate:

The Australian reports that factional arrangements ensure that Stephen Conroy’s own sub-faction of the Victorian Right will decide his successor when he vacates his Senate seat on September 30. That seems to bode well for his ally Mehmet Tillem, who previously served in the Senate from late 2013 until mid-2014, when he served out David Feeney’s term after he moved to the lower house seat of Batman at the September 2013 election. However, some in the party are said to be arguing that the position should go to a woman, specifically to Stefanie Perri, the former Monash mayor who ran unsuccessfully in Chisholm at the recent election.

• A draft redistribution proposal has been published for the Northern Territory’s two electorates, in which early 3000 voters are to be transferred from growing Solomon (covering Darwin and Palmerston) to stagnant Lingiari (covering the remainder of the territory). The transfer encompasses Yarrawonga, Farrar, Johnston and Zuccoli at the eastern edge of Palmerston, together with the Litchfield Shire areas around Knuckey Lagoon immediately east of Darwin. This is a conservative area, so the change would strengthen Labor in Solomon and weaken them in Lingiari.

• A redistribution for the five electorates in Tasmania is in its earliest stages, with a period for preliminary public suggestions to run from November 2 to December 5.

• The Liberal National Party announced last week it would not challenge its 37 vote defeat in the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, despite complaints from Senator Ian Macdonald that the Australian Eleectoral Commission had promised hospital patients it would take their votes on polling day without delivering, and that students outside the electorate were denied absent votes because the required envelopes were not available. The 40-day deadline for lodgement of a challenge closed on Saturday.

Draft federal redistribution of New South Wales

Draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales propose the abolition of Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter.


I’ve now tightened up the estimated margins, a full accounting of which can be seen in this spreadsheet, which also features primary vote results. I now have Labor coming up quite a bit stronger in Paterson, for some reason to the extent of having a notional margin there of 1.5%.

Banks 47.4% -0.8%
Barton 57.5% +7.8%
Bennelong 42.2% +0.0%
Berowra 31.0% +0.0%
Blaxland 59.6% -1.8%
Bradfield 28.7% -0.5%
Calare 35.3% +1.3%
Chifley 61.1% +0.6%
Cook 32.8% -0.8%
Cowper 37.0% -1.2%
Cunningham 61.8% +1.9%
Dobell 50.5% +1.1%
Eden-Monaro 47.3% -2.1%
Farrer 28.5% -4.1%
Fowler 67.7% +0.9%
Gilmore 46.1% -1.3%
Grayndler 64.2% -6.1%
Greenway 52.7% -0.3%
Hughes 38.2% -1.1%
Hume 38.1% -0.4%
Hunter (Charlton) 56.1% +2.5%
Kingsford Smith 52.7% +0.0%
Lindsay 47.0% +0.0%
Lyne 35.9% +0.7%
Macarthur 46.7% +8.0%
Mackellar 31.2% +0.0%
Macquarie 45.5% +0.0%
McMahon 52.1% -3.3%
Mitchell 28.7% +0.7%
New England 29.8% +0.5%
Newcastle 59.3% +0.5%
North Sydney 34.6% +0.4%
Page 47.0% -0.5%
Parkes 30.4% +2.8%
Parramatta 52.3% +1.7%
Paterson 51.5% +11.3%
Reid 49.0% -0.1%
Richmond 51.8% -1.1%
Riverina 31.0% +2.1%
Robertson 46.8% -0.2%
Shortland 57.2% +0.0%
Sydney 63.3% -1.4%
Warringah 34.5% -0.1%
Watson 59.2% +2.4%
Wentworth 32.1% -0.2%
Werriwa 56.7% +4.5%
Whitlam (Throsby) 56.9% -0.8%

Original post

The AEC has just published long-awaited draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales, which reduces the state’s representation from 48 seats to 47. The seat proposed for the chop is Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter – although the name will be kept alive by renaming the neighbouring seat of Charlton. Notably:

Paterson (Bob Baldwin, Liberal). The abolition of the Hunter region seat causes Paterson to be drawn into a strongly Labor area, turning a 9.8% Liberal margin into a 0.5% margin.

Barton (Nick Varvaris, Liberal). The other big Liberal loser is Nick Varvaris, who did well to win the inner southern Sydney seat of Barton in 2013. The seat stands to lose the Liberal-voting area around Sans Souci at the southern end, and be pushed into Labor-Greens voting Marrickville and its surrounds closer to the city.

Eden-Monaro (Peter Hendy, Liberal). This seat is to be very strikingly redrawn, losing territory at the northern coastal end to Gilmore and gaining areas to the west and north of the ACT.

Macarthur (Russell Matheson, Liberal). The Liberal margin in this outer south-western Sydney seat has been slashed by the exchange of semi-rural areas for outer suburban territory around Minto and Eagle Vale.

Grayndler (Anthony Albanese, Labor). Albanese’s seat has been drawn towards the inner-city, gaining the Rozelle area and losing southern Marrickville and surrounding suburbs to Barton in the south, along with Summer Hill and surrounds to Watson in the west. This cuts his margin against the Liberals by 6.2%, but the greater threat here is from the Greens, and the changes have presumably intensified it (UPDATE: Apparently not, actually – the Greens vote in Balmain especially was curiously subdued at the last election).

Parramatta (Julie Owens, Labor). The changes here are modest, but Labor’s Julie Owens will enjoy the 0.8% boost to her 0.6% margin.

Page (Kevin Hogan, Nationals). Loses Ballina to Richmond at its northern coastal end, and gains the coast north of Coffs Harbour from Cowper in the south. Kevin Hogan won this seat for the Nationals from Labor in 2013, and he’s now had a helpful boost to his margin from 2.5% to 3.8%.

McMahon (Chris Bowen, Labor). Bowen was cut a little fine in this typically safe Labor seat in western Sydney in 2013, and now he’s been damaged by the transfer of Fairfield to Fowler, taking his margin from 5.3% to 2.4%.

BludgerTrack: 52.7-47.3 to Labor

Despite all the fuss over Newspoll, this week’s reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate finds only incremental improvement for a government that continues to rise slowly from the canvas.

Another week in which the BludgerTrack aggregate has essentially shrugged its shoulders in response to a headline-grabbing opinion poll surprise, in this case the narrow 51-49 lead recorded for Labor by Newspoll. With Roy Morgan and Essential Research both going fairly solidly the other way, the Coalition records a gain of only 0.3% on two-party preferred, yielding a dividend of one seat in Western Australia on the seat projection. The Coalition and Labor are both up on the primary vote at the expense of the minor parties, with Palmer United notably hitting a record low in the wake of Glenn Lazarus’s resignation. Interestingly enough, both Labor’s two-party vote and seat projection are exactly as they were at the 2007 election.

Newspoll provided a new set of numbers for the leadership ratings, and as usual the trend reading is highly responsive to the latest seat of results. That means another improvement for Tony Abbott’s net approval rating, which is now back to what had previously been his career-worst result before the Prince Philip knighthood. Bill Shorten is down too, and it’s now clear that the change in dynamics after the Liberal leadership spill vote has taken a bite out of his approval rating. On preferred prime minister, Tony Abbott is now rating very slightly better than he was prior to Australia Day. Full results on the sidebar, further down from the very similar looking display for the New South Wales state election.

Newspoll: 51-49 to Labor

Newspoll continues its recent volatile form to deliver the Coalition its best result since September.

The latest fortnightly Newspoll in tomorrow’s Australian gives the Coalition its best result since September, with Labor’s two-party lead of 51-49 comparing with 55-45 last time. The Coalition is up three on the primary vote to 41%, Labor is down two to 37%, and the Greens are down one to 11%. Amid a general picture of weakening personal ratings for Bill Shorten, Newspoll has him down three on approval to 36% and up five on disapproval to 47% after a spike in his favour a fortnight ago. Tony Abbott is up one to 29% and down two to 61% – dismal as those figures are, they’re his best since Australia Day. Bill Shorten’s lead as preferred prime minister has closed from 44-33 to 41-36.

Also today, Morgan’s latest poll combining face-to-face and SMS polling from the past two weekends has Labor up on last fortnight and level with the fortnight before, leaving the intervening poll looking like something of an aberration. On the primary vote, Labor is up two to 40% with the Coalition down one to 38%, while the Greens and Palmer United are both down half a point to 11% and 1.5%. There’s a big shift to Labor on respondent-allocated preferences, their lead widening from 53.5-46.5 to 56-44, but a surprisingly modest one on previous election preferences, from 53.5-46.5 to 54-46, some of the difference evidently being obscured by rounding.

UPDATE (Essential Research): To reinforce the point that polling moves in mysterious ways, the normally sedate Essential Research fortnightly rolling average has moved two points to Labor, putting its lead at 54-46. Labor is up two on the primary vote to 41%, with the Coalition steady on 40%, the Greens up one to 10% and Palmer United down to an all-time low of 1%. The poll also finds a big downturn in the assessment of Joe Hockey’s performance as Treasurer even since the months after the budget, with approval at 27% (down eight points since August) and disapproval at 51% (up seven). Chris Bowen has all but caught up with him as preferred Treasurer, Hockey’s 34-23 lead in August now at 26-25. Relatedly, there is a poor result on economic sentiment, with 27% describing the state of the Australian economy as good (down 10% since last August) and 33% as poor (up 7%).

A question on data retention suggests dissatisfaction with the protections provided in the government’s policy, with 58% believing a warrant should be required to access data in any case, only 10% considering it should only apply to journalists and 12% believing no warrant should be required. Also featured are a semi-regular question on climate change, thought to be caused by human activity by 54% (down three since December) with 31% favouring the skeptical option (up two); 52% professing greater concern than two years ago (up one) with 8% less concerned (down one); 45% favouring incentives for renewable energy in response (up five since September), 12% an emissions trading scheme (up two), 10% the government’s direct action policy (steady) and 11% believing no action is required (steady). The 20% renewable energy target is thought too high by 8% (down five since last July), too low by 33% (up four) and about right by 32% (down four).