Call of the board: inner Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “Call of the board: inner Sydney”

Hawks and doves (open thread)

A new poll from the Australia Institute poses many a hard question on the potential for conflict with China.

The Australian has today published a Newspoll result of state voting intention in Victoria, which I have added as an introductory note to my earlier post covering general electoral developments in the state. I am not sure what the deal is with Newspoll’s federal polling – plainly it has not returned to its earlier schedule of a poll every three weeks, as there would otherwise have been one on Monday.

We do have two new attitudinal polls from the Australia Institute, one posing an array of stimulating questions on the potential for conflict with China. This encompassed both an Australian sample of 1003 and a Taiwanese sample of 1002, the survey work being conducted by international market research firm Dynata.

Among many other things, the Australian end of the survey found 47% expecting a Chinese armed attack on Australia either soon (9%) or “sometime” (38%), with only 19% opting for never and 33% uncommitted. Twenty-one per cent felt Australia would be able to defend itself from China without international assistance, compared with 60% who thought otherwise, and 57% anticipate such support would be forthcoming from the United States compared with 11% who didn’t and 19% who opted for “it depends”. Thirty-five per cent would back the US and Australia to win such a conflict compared with 8% for lose and 26% for a draw of some description.

Thirty-seven per cent felt the Australian people would be prepared to go to war if China threatened military action against Australia, effectively equal to the 38% who thought otherwise. Twenty-six per cent were prepared for Australia to go to war to help Taiwan gain independence compared with 33% who weren’t and 41% for uncommitted. Framed a little differently, 14% strongly agreed and 23% less strongly agreed that Australia should “send its defence forces to Taiwan to fight for their freedom … if China incorporated Taiwan”, compared with 20% for disagree and 9% for strongly disagree.

The Taiwanese end of the survey is beyond this site’s scope, thought it’s interesting to note that 41% felt optimistic with respect to the future for Taiwan compared with 40% for neutral and only 20% for pessimistic. The survey was conducted between August 13 and 16 – Nancy Pelosi’s visit was on August 2 and China’s military exercises followed from August 4 to 7.

A second report from the Australia Institute provides results of a poll conducted back in April on the seemingly less pressing subject of “wokeness”, a concept that meant nothing to 43% of those surveyed, ranging from only 22% of those aged 18 to 29 to 59% of those aged 60 and over. Forty-nine per cent of the former cohort owned up to being woke, decreasing with arithmetic precision to 9% for the latter, while around 30% for each of the five age cohorts identified as “not woke”. Interestingly, Coalition and Labor voters produced similar results, with Greens and One Nation voters deviating in the manner you would expect. The poll was conducted from April 5 to 8 from a sample of 1003, so the sub-sample sizes for the results cited above are not great, however intuitively likely the results might be.


Anthony Galloway of the Sun-Herald identifies possible successors to Scott Morrison in Cook: Mark Speakman, moderate-aligned state Attorney-General and member for Cronulla; Melanie Gibbons, state member for Holsworthy, who unsuccessfully sought preselection for the Hughes at the federal election; Carmelo Pesce, the mayor of Sutherland Shire; and Alex Cooke, identified only as a “party member”.

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has called for submissions to its inquiry into the 2022 federal election. Matters specifically touched up on by the terms of reference include political donation and truth-in-advertising laws, enfranchisement of New Zealand citizens living in Australia and “proportional representation of the states and territories in the parliament”, the latter seemingly referring to the possibility of adding extra seats for the territories in the Senate.

• The Australian Parliamentary Library has published a “quick guide” on the technicalities of when the next federal election might be held, together with a handy calendar showing when state and local elections are due through to 2006.

• No fewer than twelve candidates have nominated for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election on September 17, with Labor not among them, for a seat with only 11,189 voters. As well as the Nationals and the Liberals, there are two candidates of the Western Australia Party, one being hardy perennial Anthony Fels, plus the Greens, One Nation, Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, No Mandatory Vaccination, the Small Business Party and two independents. My guide to the by-election can be found here.

Victorian election minus three months

As independents proliferate, polls and insider talk continue to add to an impression of a Coalition too weak to capitalise fully on Labor’s difficulties come November.

UPDATE: The Australian has published a Newspoll state voting intention poll with a set of numbers very like that of the 2018 election, with Labor leading 56-44 (compared with 57.3-42.7) from primary votes of Labor 41% (42.9%), Coalition 36% (35.2%) and Greens 13% (10.7%). Daniel Andrews has 54% approval and 41% disapproval while Matthew Guy is on 32% and 49%, with Andrews leading 51-34 on preferred premier. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday from a sample of 1027.

Before we dive in, let it be noted that beneath this post lies post covering recent polls of state voting intention in Tasmania and one of the few federal voting intention polls since the election.

Roy Morgan produced another of its SMS Victorian state polls a week-and-a-half ago, and it produced another eye-popping two-party lead for Labor, this time of 60.5-39.5 (out from 59.5-40.5 in early July), from primary votes of Labor 40.5% (down three), Coalition 27.5% (up two), Greens 14% (up two) and 5% for “a teal independent” (up two). The poll was conducted Thursday, August 11 to Saturday, August 13 from a sample of 1097.

Further on the independent candidate front:

Annika Smethurst of The Age reports Kate Lardner, a doctor at Frankston Hospital, former Greens member and co-founder of a group that “mobilises doctors to address climate change”, will run in Mornington, and quotes an unidentified Labor source saying their polling indicates she will outperform them. Another starter identified in the article is Sarah Fenton, co-owner of the Bellarine Smokehouse, who will run in Labor-held Bellarine, to be vacated with the retirement of Lisa Neville.

• Nomi Kaltmann, a legal interpretation analyst in the Commonwealth public service with a background as a staffer to state minister Marsha Thomson and electorate officer to Mark Dreyfus, has announced she will run as an independent against deputy Liberal leader David Southwick in Caulfield, a week after quitting the ALP. Kaltmann told the Financial Review she became alienated from Labor after its national executive installed Enver Erdogan to fill a Legislative Council vacancy in South Metropolitan region in 2019 without reference to the party membership with backing from the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, despite him living in Melbourne’s north. However, The Australian reported on Friday that Kaltmann nominated for party office-holder positions as recently as February. The Financial Review further quoted Climate 200 convenor Simon Holmes a Court saying Kaltmann “had been in touch”.

• Jacqui Hawkins, a former adviser to federal Indi independent Cathy McGowan, will again run against Liberal member Bill Tilley in the northern Victorian seat of Benambra, having come within 2.4% of toppling Tilley on her first attempt in 2018.

The Age reports two former Bayside mayors appear likely to enter the ring: Clarke Martin in Sandringham, where he managed a modest 8.4% on his first attempt in 2018, and former Liberal preselection aspirant Felicity Frederico in Brighton.


Patrick Durkin of the Financial Review reported a fortnight ago that “confidential independent polling” put the Coalition “well short of the 18 seats it needs for victory”, but suggested Labor would lose up to six seats in “Victoria’s growth corridors”.

• Despite heavy publicity from the Herald Sun, which asserted the party was likely to feature in a massively expanded lower house cross-bench after the election, the Victorians Party has announced it will not contest the election “due to the limitations on new political parties raising campaign funding under Victoria’s electoral laws introduced after the last state election”. This presumably refers to laws that cap donations to political parties, old and new alike, at a rate presently set at $4320 over four years. The party was launched by Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang and sought to attract support from lockdown opponents.

• In the regional seat of Euroa, which will be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Steph Ryan, the new Nationals candidate is Annabelle Cleeland, editor of Fairfax Media title Stock & Land, while the Liberal candidate will be Brad Hearn, principal of the Flexible Learning Centre in Benalla.

• A Victorian Liberal upper house preselection I missed when summarising them in my previous post: Anne-Marie Hermans, a former Family First candidate, will lead the ticket in South Eastern Metropolitan, replacing the retiring Gordon Rich-Phillips.

• Tom McIntosh, an electrician and former staffer to federal MP Ged Kearney, has been sworn in to replace the late Jane Garrett as Labor’s member for Eastern Victoria region in the Legislative Council. McIntosh had already been preselected to succeed her at the election after she announced her intention to retire in December.

• The Victorian Electoral Commission has calculated its own two-candidate preferred margins for the newly redistributed electoral boundaries, which make use of its data recording which voters voted at which polling booths. It identifies Caulfield, Hastings, Pakenham (formerly Gembrook) and Ripon as having flipped from Liberal to Labor, Bass and Bayswater as having done the reverse, and Mildura as flipping from independent to Nationals. Labor-held Keysborough and Mount Waverley and Liberal-held Ferntree Gully are counted as abolished, and it credits Labor with margins of 22.0% and 23.4% in the new seats of Greenvale and Laverton, and Liberal with a 1.3% margin in Berwick.

UPDATE: The Age reports Resolve Strategic asked the 500 Victorian respondents from this week’s poll further questions about state political issues, and found 42% crediting Labor with greater integrity and honesty compared with 21% for the Coalition, and 53% expecting Labor to win the election compared with 18% for the Coalition.

EMRS: Liberal 41, Labor 31, Greens 13 in Tasmania

A poll finds Tasmania’s Liberal government still well ahead of Labor, but no longer by so much as to maintain its parliamentary majority.

The latest quarterly-or-so poll of Tasmanian state voting intention from EMRS records a two-point increase for the Liberals to 41%, with Labor up a point to 31% and the Greens steady on 13%. Preferred premier is all but unchanged with Jeremy Rockliff leading Labor’s Rebecca White by 47-35, out from 47-34. The poll was conducted August 8 to 11 from a sample of 1000.

As well as that, there is a fair bit of significant electoral news to report from the state:

• A well-rounded by-election looms for the eastern Hobart Legislative Council seat of Pembroke on September 10, candidates in ballot paper order being Deborah Brewer (Greens), Gregory Brown (Liberal), Carlo Di Falco (Shooters Fishers and Farmers), Luke Edmunds (Labor) and Hans Willink (Independent) (UPDATE: Kevin Bonham reminds us in comments that ballot paper order is Robson rotation, so this list is actually alphabetical order). The by-election follows the resignation of Jo Siejka, who gained the seat for Labor by an 8.6% margin at the periodic election in 2019.

• The recount to replace outgoing Liberal member Jacquie Petrusma in Franklin was won by Dean Young with 5808 of her preferences (51.1%) to 5281 for Bec Enders (46.5%) with the remainder going to non-Liberal candidates. Young is a Bellerive news agency owner who ran at the March 2021 election as a late substitute for Dean Ewington, was disendorsed early in the campaign after criticising the government’s COVID-19 restrictions on Facebook.

• Tasmanian’s Electoral Commissioner has published advice to the government on its plan to restore the state’s House of Assembly to 35 seats, from which it was reduced to 25 in 1998. It recommends a straightforward restoration of the old system in which five electoral divisions sharing the federal boundaries returned seven members each, rather than an alternative in which seven divisions would return five members each.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 42, Coalition 28, Greens 12 (open thread)

The third pollster to chance its arm at federal voting intention since the election gives the new government its best set of numbers yet.

The Age/Herald today brings its first Resolve Strategic poll federal poll since the election, which I count as the third set of fully published federal poll results since the election, together with one Newspoll and one Roy Morgan (so not counting various sketchily reported Roy Morgan results over the last few weeks). This is by some distance Labor’s best result of the three, crediting them with 42% of the primary vote (compared with 32.6% at the election, 37% from Newspoll and 36% from Morgan), the Coalition with 28% (35.7% at the election, 33% from Newspoll, 37% from Roy Morgan), the Greens with 12% (12.3% at the election), One Nation with 5% (5.0%), the United Australia Party with 2% (4.1%), independents with 8% (5.3%) and others with 3%.

Resolve Strategic does not provide two-party preferred results, but my calculation based on flows from the recent election, matched by that of Kevin Bonham, has Labor with a lead of 61.3-38.7, compared with 52.1-47.9 at the election, 56-44 from Newspoll and 53-47 from Roy Morgan (which is also about where Morgan’s sketchily reported recent polls have had it). As with its pre-election polling, Resolve provides breakdowns for the three largest states, which by my calculation produce Labor two-party leads of 60.1-39.9 in New South Wales (51.4-48.6 at the election), 64.2-35.8 in Victoria (54.8-45.2) and 59.1-40.9 in Queensland (reversing a 54.0-46.0 advantage at the election).

Anthony Albanese records an approval rating of 61% (combining responses of very good and good), the same as his result from Newspoll, and a disapproval rating of 22% (very poor plus poor), compared with Newspoll’s 26%. Peter Dutton respectively comes in at 30% and 37%, whereas Newspoll had it at 37% and 41%, consistent with its tendency to produce lower uncommitted ratings. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 2011.

The Guardian reports the fortnightly Essential Research poll asked voters to rank both leaders on a ten-point scale, which found 43% scoring Anthony Albanese between seven and ten, 23% rating him between zero and three and the rest rating him between four and six. Peter Dutton was ranked positively by 26%, negatively by 34% and neutral by the rest. The poll also found 80% believed governments should take an active role in the economy compared with only 20% who believed who believed it should leave things to the market, reflected in further findings of 70% support for government-imposed limits on prices for essential services such as energy, with only 7% opposed, and 61% in favour of taxes on companies that make additional profits due to rising inflation, with unopposed specified. It also found 47% in favour of higher skilled migration, with 18% opposed. The poll had a sample of 1065 and was, I assume, conducted from Wednesday to Sunday – the full report should be published on the pollster’s website later today. UPDATE: Full results here.

We have also had from Ipsos a global poll on attitudes to abortion, which finds 45% of Australians believe abortion should be legal in all cases and 25% legal in most, compared with 6% for illegal in all cases and 9% for illegal in most. The respect combined results for the 27 countries surveyed were 30% and 29%, and 10% and 16% – Australians were roughly as Liberal as those in most European countries except Sweden and France, and more so than Americans, Latin Americans and Asians.

Fannie Bay by-election live

Live coverage of counting from the Northern Territory’s Fannie Bay by-election.

9.08pm. The two-party numbers from Parap look better to me for Labor than the primary votes did, breaking 805-640 their way for a swing of 8.6%. That puts Labor ahead 1745-1597, and I don’t believe there’s more to come than a trickle of late postals and a handful of provisionals. In raw terms, which are as good as any other by this stage, that gives Labor a winning margin of 2.2% after a swing of 7.3%, which is roughly par for the course for a by-election result — maybe a little worse.

8.01pm. Parap has indeed swung heavily against Labor, and with much more votes cast than last time — 1445 compared with 895 formal votes. So we have likely seen a move among conservative voters from pre-poll to election day voting. Labor is down 16.0%, the CLP is up 6.9% and the Greens are up 7.7%. So we’re still looking at a tight result.

7.57pm. The postals broke 120-113 to the CLP on two-party, so they still have a tight 957-940 overall lead. However, the big outstanding factor is the Parap booth, which broke 576-319 to Labor in 2020. For the CLP to get home, the swing there will need to exceed what we’ve seen so far.

7.53pm. 233 postal votes have been added to the primary vote count, and they have swung heavily against Labor — down 21.0% on the primary vote with the CLP up 13.5% and the Greens up 9.7%.

7.36pm. I made a bit of data entry error on the Darwin pre-poll booth: Labor’s primary vote was indeed down 10.2%, but the CLP was only up 4.3% with the Greens up 6.6%. So in other words, the swings there were much like Ludmilla and Labor still looks like it has an advantage. Now the two-party is in from the pre-poll booth, and while the CLP won the booth and has a raw lead of 837-827, they did much better on pre-polls in 2020 than other kinds of vote. If that’s the case again this time, Labor should pull ahead from here. However, that may not entirely hold this time because there was only one pre-poll option this time compared with three, and it appears voters may have taken their business to election day booths.

7.19pm. With 1664 votes in from the Darwin pre-poll booth, it would seem we’re looking at a very close result here: Labor is down 10.7% and the CLP is up 9.1%, suggesting a two-party swing bang on the Labor margin of 9.6%.

7.05pm. The Ludmilla two-party result is 248-210 in favour of Labor, which is a 7.3% swing to the CLP compared with 2020.

6.39pm. Eleanor in comments dispels my earlier confusion about “Urban Voting Darwin”, which is mobile hospital voting (and sometimes prisons, but not on this occasion). It’s 16 votes broke 9-7 to the CLP on two-party preferred.

6.38pm. The Ludmilla booth is in, with 458 formal votes this time compared with 282 last time, presumably due to there being fewer pre-poll voting places this time. There is a solid 11.6% drop in the primary vote to 30.6%, but most of it has gone to the Greens, who are up 8.2% to 24.2%. The CLP is up 5.1% to 37.6%, which is less than it would need to rein in the 9.6% margin, but not by so much that you could call the result at this point.

6.22pm. Results are in for something called “Urban Voting Darwin” — whatever this is, it is not the pre-poll booth. It accounts for all of 16 formal votes, of which the CLP has seven and Labor four.

6pm. Polls have closed. There were only 282 votes cast at the Ludmilla booth in 2020, so we should expect primary vote numbers from there at least inside the hour.

4pm. Two hours before the close of polls, here is my live thread for the Fannie Bay by-election count, which will choose a successor to former Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner in an electorate that covers suburbs just north of central Darwin. Labor is defending a seemingly solid margin of 9.6%, but such measures can be deceptive in the territory’s tiny electorates, in which candidate factors weigh heavily. There are three independents in the field along with Labor, the Country Liberal Party and the Greens, and I will have competitive they might be until results are in. There won’t be terribly many of these: there are only two election day polling booths, plus a pre-poll booth that operated in central Darwin. The Labor government, now headed by Natasha Fyles, holds 14 seats out of 25, so defeat would leave it one away from minority status.1


A summary of views on where the Governor-General stands, or should have stood, in relation to Scott Morrison’s secret adoption of ministerial posts.

That Scott Morrison’s secret assumption of various ministerial offices in 2020 and 2021 was a bad thing is matter of uncommonly unanimous agreement. It violated many of the precepts of our system of government, even if they were not the ones that are legally enforceable by virtue of being written down. While most of the powers he assumed were not acted upon, Morrison did scuttle a gas project off the coast of Newcastle against the wishes of Keith Pitt, whom the public and parliament understood to be the one and only Minister for Energy, and his colleagues in the Nationals. This Morrison was able to do without going through the appropriate channel of overruling Pitt in cabinet, making it distinctly the act of a President rather than a Prime Minister.

The more contentious question is the extent to which the Governor-General, David Hurley, erred not only in signing the instruments that conferred the ministerial offices upon Morrison, but in passively acquiescing to Morrison’s determination to keep the matter quiet even from the affected ministers. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Hurley said he had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”. A common sense response would seem to be that this might have made sense when Morrison was appointment to the health and finance portfolios in March 2020, but not when he further assumed industry, science, energy and resources in April 2021 and home affairs and Treasury a month after.

However, Anne Twomey, professor of constitutional law at the University of Sydney, stressed in the Financial Review that the publication of ministerial appointments is a convention rather than a legal requirement, however unfortunate a state of affairs that may be. The Australian quoted another academic authority on constitutional law, Greg Craven, offering the orthodox view that Hurley was “bound by constitutional convention” to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, with whom the responsibility lies entirely.

Anthony Albanese would seem to concur, although it might be thought he is doing so with a view to keeping the heat concentrated on the Coalition. For what it’s worth, it seems clear to me that Gough Whitlam would agree if he were alive today, given his vehemence about the Governor-General’s duty to act exclusively on the advice of the Prime Minister. A former Prime Minister with a contrary view is Malcolm Turnbull, who said he was “astonished that the Governor-General was party to it”.

Writing in The Guardian, Jenny Hocking, emeritus professor at Monash University and author of multiple books on Gough Whitlam and his dismissal, describes Hurley’s actions and inactions as “troubling” and says he “must now consider his position”. Hocking draws attention to the following passage from the parliamentary handbook:

The approval of the Governor-General to the composition of the Ministry, the creation of departments, the allocation of portfolios and any ministerial and departmental change is notified publicly and announced in the House. The principal areas of departmental responsibility and enactments administered by the respective Ministers are notified publicly by order of the Governor-General.

The first of these sentences unhelpfully lacks a direct subject, but Hurley is evidently of the view that it falls to the government to follow through here. A footnote clarifies that the second sentence refers to the Administrative Arrangements Order, which lays out in general terms which ministers have which powers derived from various acts of parliament. A more transparently minded Prime Minister might have availed himself of the powers he desired through a change to this instrument, but Morrison’s adoption of already established ministerial powers left it undisturbed. In any case, Hocking indicates that Hurley would have been correct not to have made a public announcement if directly advised to that effect by the Prime Minister, and says he “should now make this clear”.

More Roy Morgan and post-federal election research (open thread)

One of only two pollsters currently in the federal game continues to show Labor with a more modest lead than Newspoll.

Roy Morgan’s weekly update reveals that its latest voting intention figures have Labor’s two-party lead out from 52.5-47.5 to 53-47, but does not treat us to primary vote numbers on this occasion. If I’m reading the blurry fine print correctly, the polling was conducted from August 8 to 14. Assuming Newspoll has resumed its previously established schedule of a poll of every three weeks, that should be along with us on Sunday evening.

Also of note:

• An article in Crikey last week provided details from YouGov’s Co-operative Election Survey panel survey, conducting during the campaign from May 2 to 18 from a sample of 5978. It indicates that the cohorts most likely to defect to Labor were the well educated, those with few assets, those identifying as having no religion, and those from non-English backgrounds. Also featured were those aged 18 to 34, although this cohort was the most volatile across the board – the voters least likely to defect from Labor were the oldest. Similarly, high income earners were both more likely to those on low and middle incomes both to defect to and from Labor.

Michael Koziol of the Age/Herald explores the impact of young inner-city renters on the Morrison government’s defeat. Kos Samaras of Redbridge Group is quoted saying such voters are keen to get into the property market but “do not want to relocate to the outskirts of western Sydney or Melbourne”, and have “really looked down on conservative politicians mocking them on their lifestyle choices”. Such voters were attracted to the teal independents over Labor because they favour “a modern solution to their hunger for a different form of politics”, and over the Greens because of their “positions on housing and development at a local level, where ‘not in my backyard’ attitudes constrain supply”. The latter is particularly an issue at state level, to which the New South Wales government has responded by providing the option to pay annual land tax instead of upfront stamp duty and unveiling a plan for 4500 new homes around a railway station in Hornsby.

• The by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Fannie Bay, vacated by the retirement of former Chief Minister Michael Gunner, will be held tomorrow. Labor’s Brent Potter will defend a 9.6% margin against Country Liberal Party candidate Ben Hosking and four others.