Category Archives: New South Wales

New South Wales (Australia) 2011

A general election was held in New South Wales, Australia on March 26, 2011. If you’re a left-winger of any shade or a supporter of the Australian Labor Party, you are not recommended to read this post as it may harm your emotional health.

NSW Labor has been in power since 1995, and the state has seen four Labor Premiers since then. The incumbent Premier is Kristina Keneally, in office since 2009. Being in power since 1995 brings the usual slew of unpopularity for a government, with a share of scandal, unpopular decisions and a general mood for change. This is especially true in NSW, where the Labor Party is known for its intense factionalism and a whole lot of backroom dealings and shady faction bosses. The Labor Right is the dominant faction of the NSW ALP, and seemingly Kristina Keneally, albeit personally competent and talented, was in power as their puppet. Her other claim to fame is that her initials are KKK.

In this context, the opposition Coalition led by Barry O’Farrell didn’t need to do much to sweep into office. Polls have showed the Coalition ahead on 2PP since 2008 and Labor has been under 40% of the 2PP since early 2010 and going down as low as 23% of primary votes. Results are still provisional, but given tomorrow’s interesting elections I didn’t feel like waiting a month.

Liberals 38.9% (+11.9%) winning 51 seats (+29)
Labor 25.5% (-13.5%) winning 22 seats (-30)
Nationals 12.3% (+2.2%) winning 17 seats (+4)
Independents 13.1% (-2%) winning 3 seats (-6)
Greens 10.3% (+1.4%) winning 0 seats (nc)

The Coalition has roughly 68 seats. Here are shaded maps of Sydney, the Central Coast, Illawarra and rural NSW.

Labor’s defeat is about on par with what was predicted and there little to no underpolling for Labor which can be expected from unpopular governing parties. Labor held on to its safest seats in South Sydney (and did spectacularly badly in North Sydney, often finishing third behind the Greenies while the Libs won huge 2PP majorities) and a few other assorted safe seats in the Central Coast and Illawarra region. Still, some strongholds which should never have fallen such as Smithfield ended up falling. The Greens underperformed – again – and ended up winning no seats and polling only slightly better than last time.

This historic landslide defeat of the NSW ALP means that they really have work to do and must rebuild if not regenerate the party. However, O’Farrell must also understand that a lot of this huge victory for him comes from protest anti-government voting and perhaps not a vote for his party’s platform, and as such he must deliver. Though he’s undoubtedly in for a long honeymoon as a factionalized backroom deals party such as the ALP tries to regenerate itself – which is something they should have done ages ago.

In the upper house, the Legislative Council, it seems like the Coalition will get 19 seats (+4), Labor 14 (-5), the Greens 5 (+1), the CDP 2 (+1) and the Shooters and Fishers 2 (nc). Family First has lost its seat in the LC.

Canada: An election will be held in Canada on May 2 after the Harper government fell on an opposition motion of no confidence finding it in contempt of Parliament, unprecedented in Canadian history. As a sort of preview post, I intend to answer various questions regarding Canadian politics, political history, parties, electoral geography and current political events. As such, if you have any questions concerning these topics, please post them as comments on this blog, email them to me or tweet them @welections.

Penrith (NSW) by-election 2010

Map of Penrith electorate (source: ABC)

A by-election in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly division of Penrith was held on June 19, 2010 as a result of the resignation of Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano in May 2010. Penrith is located in the western suburbs of Sydney including the centre of the city of Penrith and parts of the lower Blue Mountains, as well as other suburbs. This seat is a traditionally middle-class seat, with a high household income, but contains few professionals but rather has a fair share of skilled manual workers, a sociological group which has aspirations to join the more professional higher middle-class. These voters provided Liberal Prime Minister John Howard with his winning electorate during his successive mandates in power federally, but these voters shifted back en-masse to Labor in 2007. At the state level, where Labor currently dominates, Penrith is held by Labor and has been Labor since its creation in 1973 with the exception of 1988-1991, when Penrith was held by the Liberals following a Liberal landslide in 1988. Paluzzano, who has held the seat for Labor since 2003, was forced to resign after a corruption scandal exploded and after she lied on the subject to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). New South Wales’ Labor government, led by Premier Kristina Keneally (or, known by her initials KKK), has been growing extremely unpopular and is embattled with voter discontent at tax hikes, corruption and financial troubles. Labor won 52 seats in the 2007 election against 35 for the Liberal and Nationals (plus 6 independents), though the numbers stood before the by-election at 50 for Labor and 36 for the coalition. In 2007, Labor won 48.7% of primary votes in Penrith against 32.6% for the Liberals, 6.2% for the Christian Democrats and 5.6% for the Greens. On 2PP, Labor won with 59.2% against 40.8% for the Liberals.

Labor nominated John Thain, the Liberals nominated Stuart Ayres and the Greens nominated Suzie Wright. Labor faced a very tough campaign, and, despite the personal likability of KKK, struggled to move away from the government’s unpopular policies. The ALP’s spin doctors tried to lower expectations considerably ahead of this by-election. Indeed, in 2008, Labor suffered a 22.7% swing in the Cabramatta by-election and a 23.1% swing in Ryde, which was gained by the Liberal Party. Here are the results in Penrith. If you support Labor, make sure there’s a Kleenex box next to you, and if you supports the Liberals, go buy champagne.

Stuart Ayres (Liberal) 50.9% (+18.3%)
John Thain (ALP) 24.4% (-24.2%)
Suzie Wright (Greens) 12.6% (+7.0%)
Andrew Green (CDP) 4.5% (-1.7%)
Noel Selby (Ind) 2.6%
Mick Saunders (Ind) 2.2%
David Leyonhjelm (Outdoor Recreation) 1.9%
Jose Sanz (Democrats) 0.9%

2PP result:

Stuart Ayres (Liberal) 66.3% (+25.5%)
John Thain (ALP) 33.7% (-25.5%)

There is absolutely no way to spin this for the ALP: it is an unmitigated disaster for NSW Labor. Not only has it lost a safe seat, it has suffered the largest swing in NSW history (25.5%), breaking the record in Ryde in 2008. This swing is unprecedented. These results provide proof that the ALP will be in deep trouble in 2011, and faces attacks on two fronts. The Coalition, which now holds 37 seats, needs ten more seats to win a majority and it is extremely unlikely that they won’t gain at least 10 seats in 2011 to give them a majority. Furthermore, a major boost in the Green vote here could spell danger for Labor in two inner-city Sydney seats – Balmain and Marrickville. Balmain only has a 3.7% Labor majority over the Greens on 2PP. On such a swing of 25.5%, Labor would be reduced to only 11 seats overall. Lastly, some Labor seats are won on Green preference transfers, and in Penrith the exhausted preferences rate according to ABC was 62%. A lot of extremely bad signs for Labor. However, people do tend to get over-excited with results in by-election and the media loves feeding these people with doomsday scenarios for so and so. Realistically, it is unlikely the swing will be this high in 2011, and while a Liberal majority in 2011 seems to be quasi-certain, such a massive defeat for Labor remains unlikely. A real electoral campaign could very well draw back some discontent Labor voters. The results are also bad for Kevin Rudd’s federal Labor cabinet, which could face elections as soon as this fall. Despite an unpopular federal Liberal leader, Labor under Kevin Rudd has seen its rating go in free-fall over rising anger with commodity costs and financial troubles. While Rudd has said that Penrith was mainly fought on state and local issues, he did admit that Labor faces trouble in west Sydney in any fall election.

Bradfield and Higgins (Australia) by-elections 2009

Voters in two Australian federal House of Representatives divisions went to the polls today to elect their new MPs. These by-elections were held in Bradfield (New South Wales) and Higgins (Victoria). Bradfield was held by former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson, who resigned his seat after losing leadership of the party in 2008. Higgins was held by former Howard government treasurer and government number two, Peter Costello. Originally a potential contender for the Liberal leadership in 2007, he did not run and subsequently resigned his seat.

These by-elections in two safe Liberal seats became of some interest a few days before the election after the Liberal Party dumped its leader, Malcolm Turnbull in favour of right-winger Tony Abbott over the party’s division over a cap-and-trade pollution reduction scheme proposed by the Rudd Labor government. These elections were spinned by the Greenies and Labor as a referendum of sort on the environment.


Division of Bradfield (NSW)

Bradfield is located in the upper-class heartland of North Sydney and includes the affluent suburbs of Chatswood, Killara, St Ives and Wahroonga. The seat, named after Dr. John Bradfield, designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was created in 1949 and has been held by the Liberal Party since its creation, notably by former Australian PM Billy Hughes between 1949 and 1952. Nelson was first elected in 1996 and easily held the seat in 2007, despite the Liberal defeat nationally. It is the second most affluent electorate in the country, and is a typical ‘blue-ribbon’ Liberal seat, the Liberals having always won the seat on first preference votes. Despite this, Labor has been slowly creeping up, in part due to the inclusion of less affluent areas in the electorate (parts of Hornsby in 2006) but also the slow gentrification of the Labor vote in upper-class Australia. They fell to 59.1% on the first preference vote in 2007, the lowest ever for the party.

As is usual with by-elections in safe seats, the Labor Party decided early on to not contest the by-election. The Liberals nominated former businessman Paul Fletcher. The Greens, who poll strongly in Bradfield (11.26%) and the region, nominated 2007 candidate and parliamentary adviser Susie Gemmell. In addition, 20 other candidates were nominated, for a total of 22 candidates – tied with Willis in 1992 for the most by-election candidates. 9 of the 20 other candidates are from the Christian Democratic Party, a nutty far-right Bible-bashing anti-Muslim outfit, which decided to go crazy and nominated 9 candidates in total (though they originally wished to nominate 11, the number of loyal disciples). Apart from them, others included a flurry of Independents, a Liberal Democrat (classical liberals), two other small environmentalist outfits, the far-right One Nation, the Sex Party and the Democratic Labor Party (a socially conservative economically left-wing outfit).

Here are the results, with all election day votes tallied. I haven’t broken down the CDP’s timewasters. Green 2PP are compared to Labor’s 2PP result in 2007.

Paul Fletcher (Liberal) 55.38% (-4.74%)
Susie Gemmell (Green) 26.18% (+14.72%)
9 Christian Democrats 3.45% (+1.71%)
Marianne Leishman (Sex) 3.40%
Simon Kelly (Ind) 2.09%
Simon McCaffrey (DLP) 2.05%
Bill Koutalianos (Ind) 1.83%
Deborah Burt (Climate Change) 1.09%
Goronwy Price (Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy) 0.99%
Brian Buckley (Ind) 0.82%
Philip Dowling (Ind) 0.78%
Lucy Gabb (LDP) 0.74%
Victor Waterson (ONP) 0.63%
Peter Hanraham (Ind) 0.54%

Paul Fletcher (Liberal) 63.56% (+0.11%)
Susie Gemmell (Green) 36.44% (-0.11%)


Division of Higgins (Victoria)

Higgins is located in the wealthy inner south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, including the suburbs of Armadale, Ashburton, Malvern, and Toorak as well as parts of Glen Iris, Camberwell, Prahran, and South Yarra. The seat, named after justice and politician H. B. Higgins, was created in 1949 and has been held by the Liberal Party ever since (excluding one Liberal MP who briefly sat as an Independent), and was the division of two PMs: Harold Holt and John Gorton. Peter Costello was first elected in 1990 and became treasurer of the Howard Liberal government in 1996, and was the government’s number two figure until Howard’s defeat in 2007. He was easily re-elected in 2007, taking 53.6% of first preferences. Like in Bradfield, the Liberals have always won on the first count in Higgins. It is slightly less Liberal than Bradfield, because it includes some more left-wing areas including hippie Prahran, less affluent Windsor, and the predominantly Greek area of Oakleigh. Labor won around a dozen polls in 2007.

Like in Bradfield, however, Labor announced that they wouldn’t contest the seat. The Liberals nominated Kelly O’Dwyer, parliamentary staffer; the Greens (10.75% in 2007) nominated Dr Clive Hamilton, a uni prof. Other candidates included 3 Independents, and candidates of the Sex Party, the AU Democrats, Democratic Labor, a Liberal Democrat and a One Nation candidate.

Here are the results, with all election day votes tallied. Green 2PP are compared to Labor’s 2PP result in 2007.

Kelly O’Dwyer (Liberal) 51.74% (-1.87%)
Clive Hamilton (Green) 34.96% (+24.21%)
John Mulholland (DLP) 3.91%
Fiona Patten (Sex) 3.53%
David Collyer (AU Democrats) 2.36% (+1.15%)
Stephen Murphy (Ind) 1.68%
Joseph Toscano (Ind) 0.82%
Isaac Roberts (LDP) 0.41%
Peter Brohier (Ind) 0.31%
Steve Raskovy (ONP) 0.28%

Kelly O’Dwyer (Liberal) 57.57% (+0.53%)
Clive Hamilton (Green) 42.43% (-0.53%)

The Liberals, thought to be in trouble over their opposition to cap-and-trade and their new more right-wing leader performed rather well, though their performances are nothing spectacular. They fell in first preferences in both seats and gained only little compared to 2007 in 2PP votes. It is a victory for them, but its’ far from a strong mandate for either their new leader or their policies in general.

The Greens are the real winners, winning 35% in Higgins and 26% in Bradfield, both excellent results for them. Their 35% result in Higgins is the party’s best first preference share in a federal division. I’m sure they can spin it as a strong result for the environment and a defeat for the Liberal’s opposition to cap-and-trade.