With polling day less than a fortnight away, a journalists’ thoughts turn to preference recommendations. Today we have Greg Roberts and Michael McKinnon reporting in The Australian that the Greens will not recommend a preference to Labor in "key marginal Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and southern Brisbane seats". This is apparently significant because "a similar strategy by the Greens in the 1995 poll helped force the Goss Labor government from office". However, this is only true because the Goss government’s fortunes were decided by one seat, and the Greens’ preference decision cost Labor Mulgrave by a margin of 0.5 per cent. An article in Saturday’s Australian Financial Review by Peter Brent of Mumble covered the familiar topic of Greens voters’ reluctance to follow how-to-vote cards, but noted that the same did not appear to be true of Family First voters according to a South Australian Parliamentary Library analysis, their votes split 65-35 in electorates where preferences were directed to Liberal, and 39-61 where directed to Labor. By Peter’s reckoning, that could have made the difference in four seats at the federal election. Consequently, Family First’s direction of preferences to Labor in Burdekin, Glass House, Mudgeeraba, Logan and Ipswich West is likely to be more consequential than the Greens’ decision, despite their smaller field of candidates. Family First preferences will be directed to the Coalition in Gympie, Ferny Grove, Sandgate, Toowoomba North, Toowoomba South, Cunningham and Lockyer, and to independent member Dorothy Pratt in Nanango. UPDATE: Antony Green notes there are special circumstances in South Australia which partly explain Family First’s capacity to influence preferences at the state election.
A few more Campaign Updates to be added to the election guide when I get my act together:
Currumbin (Liberal 3.2%) and Mudgeeraba (Labor 1.9%): Suzanne Lappeman of the Gold Coast Bulletin writes that while Labor has "all but written off" Dianne Reilly in Mudgeeraba, the party is increasingly hopeful its 2004 defeat in Currumbin will prove to have been an aberration born of the Tugun Bypass and the troubles of defeated member Merri Rose. Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail also refers to "wild talk" about Labor winning Currumbin, and concurs that Labor sources describe Mudgeeraba as "next to hopeless".
Noosa (Independent 8.7%) and Kawana (Labor 1.5%): Dennis Atkins also reports from a "Labor insider" that the Sunshine Coast looms as a "wipe-out" for Labor, with Noosa returning "quite strongly" to its traditional Liberal-voting ways. The only other Labor-held seat on the Sunshine Coast is Kawana, where the government has been having ongoing troubles over the location of a new hospital. Atkins notes that "deep antagonism to the Mary River dam" is also damaging Labor in the region.
Clayfield (Labor 1.2%) and Indooroopilly (Labor 2.1%): Dennis Atkins one more time: contrary to other reports elsewhere, "Labor strategists" quoted by Atkins are pessimistic about Clayfield "the party hasn’t bothered to poll the electorate" and "not confident" about Indooroopilly. Labor’s other Brisbane seats are believed to be safe.