Sunday, March 24, 2019

2019 New South Wales Postcount: Legislative Council

Legislative Council NSW Summary:

Seats assumed won based on incomplete count Coalition 7 Labor 6 Green 2 One Nation 1 Shooters Fishers and Farmers 1

Multi-party contest for remaining four seats.

Parties in the mix (in current order of expected live count position): Coalition #8 (currently with large lead), Christian Democrats, One Nation #2, Animal Justice, Labor #7

Parties inferred as potentially in the mix from Lower House results: Keep Sydney Open, Sustainable Australia, Australian Conservatives

Party suspected of being in the mix by elimination of other votes: Liberal Democrats

Some others (eg Buckingham) might be competitive but no way of knowing.


Updates will be posted here scrolling to the top.  Because of work commitments I can't guarantee any more than a daily run of comments on this.

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Intro (Sunday 3:30 pm)

It's still early days in the Legislative Council count but here's a post to try to start making sense of what incomplete information we have.

Let me start by saying that this count is an absolute mess and there are at least three seats we are nowhere near being able to call and will not be near being able to call for a long time.

Concerned about OHS risks associated with working long hours, the NSWEC came up with the following decision: In the on-the-night count, votes counted for the Legislative Council would be classified to:

1. Above the line number 1 votes for Liberal-National, Labor, Greens, One Nation, Shooters Fishers and Farmers, Christian Democrats and Animal Justice.

2. Blank informal votes

3. All other votes.  The others pile includes all votes for the remaining 13 grouped tickets as well as all the below the line votes for individual candidates.  It also includes informal votes that are not blanks.

While I understand the OHS aspect as concerns work on the night, what I don't get is why we have to wait til the check count from Wednesday on for this "others" pile to be sorted even roughly to party.  Especially now when there are fewer close Legislative Assembly seats than would have been expected.

Here's what we know.  2.57 million ballot papers have so far been counted; this is 48.8% of enrolment.  Current primaries excluding blank informals are:

Liberal/National 34.16%
Labor  28.18%
Green 9.04%
One Nation 6.11%
Shooters Fishers and Farmers 4.89%
Christian Democrats 2.09%
Animal Justice 1.71%
Others 13.82%

In 2015, non-blank informals were about 1.5% of all votes that were not blank informals, so on that basis the Others vote contains about 1.5 points of informals.  After removing these from the count, all the party totals including the remaining Others will increase (ignoring further vote movements based on which seats and vote types have been counted).

The Others votes also include below-the-lines, some of which will be for the seven separately counted parties.  Here the 2015 below-the-line rates can be used to determine how much the party totals for these seven should be expanded by to account for below-the-lines.  Thus I multiply Animal Justice by 1.03, Liberal-National by 1.008, Labor by 1.012, Shooters by 1.022 and Greens by 1.037.  For Christian Democrats their multiplier was 1.039 in 2015, but 1.028 in 2011 when Paul Green rather than Fred Nile was the candidate.  I will use the Paul Green figure.

Unfortunately the party I don't have a multiplier for is One Nation.  In 2011 One Nation ran as an unnamed ticket with Hanson herself as head candidate, and the multiplier was a whopping 1.258.  However that seems to have been down to the lack of a party name.  If we look at the 2016 Senate election, the multiplier for One Nation in Queensland where Hanson was the candidate was slightly lower than for the Christian Democrats and slightly higher than for the Shooters.  In NSW the multiplier for One Nation was only very slightly higher than for the Shooters.  Mark Latham is a prominent candidate in his own right so I've decided to use a multiplier of 1.03 for One Nation in this case.

It's possible below the line voting could have become more common following the Senate changes, but there are not many reasons to suspect this.  There are two minor special reasons it might be the case though - firstly, faction-fighting within the Greens over their ticket order, and secondly, the minor cult phenomenon (as seen on Twitter) of voting below the line all the way to put Mark Latham 346th.  However I doubt either of these will have a significant impact.

After adding all this in, this is what the count looks like:

Liberal/National 34.96% (7.69 quotas)
Labor  28.85% (6.35)
Greens 9.52% (2.09)
One Nation 6.39% (1.41)
Shooters Fishers and Farmers 5.07% (1.12)
Christian Democrats 2.18% (0.48)
Animal Justice 1.79% (0.39)
Others 11.15% (2.45)

Bear in mind that these are estimates of the live count and do not account for whether where the votes are from might be unrepresentative.   These totals will move around substantially as more votes are counted.

On raw quotas the current seats are seven L-NP, six Labor, two Green, one ON, one SF+F, leaving four undecided.  These are then decided by the remainders after preferences - and usually in NSW there are not that many of those.

At present of the listed parties the order for the remaining four seats is L-NP, CDP, One Nation, Animal Justice, Labor.  But these last four are all rather close together and the order will shift around as more votes are counted.

The first question then is whether, among the 11.15% split between 13 remaining parties, there is anyone who has polled enough to get into this mix.  Currently, the target figure based on just primaries is to beat Animal Justice, which means getting about 1.8%.

The parties/groups whose votes we do not know are:

Socialist Alliance
Sustainable Australia
Advance Australia
Group G (Seniors United)
Group H (Monaghans)
Group L (Jeremy Buckingham)
Australian Conservatives
Keep Sydney Open
Liberal Democrats
Voluntary Euthanasia Party
Small Business Party
Group S (James Jansson)
plus ungrouped independents

We can get some clues about the competitiveness of Sustainable Australia and Keep Sydney Open.  Both these parties ran in many seats in the Lower House, as did Animal Justice.  We know that Animal Justice is a contender in the Legislative Council.  The current ABC-projected state lower house votes for these parties are:

Sustainable Australia 1.48% (55 seats - average 2.50)
Animal Justice 1.46% (48 seats - average 2.83)
Keep Sydney Open 1.38% (44 seats - average 2.79)

Small parties do not poll as well in the Upper House as in the seats they contest, because there are more small parties, and because they tend to contest favourable seats.  This at least suggests that Keep Sydney Open are competitive with AJP for a possible seat, and that SA could be vaguely competitive, but if Labor lifts there may not necessarily be a seat for any of them. 

Preferences could also come into play here, with an attempt by Glenn Druery to network how-to-vote card preferences between these groups that will probably not have much impact - but in a close race any impact at all could make a difference.  It may be that KSO are more successful than AJP in outperforming their Lower House vote in the upper house.  On the other hand, their vote could be negligible outside Greater Sydney (see comments).  On the other other hand, they didn't run at all in the lower house in their single most prospective seat of Sydney.

The Australian Conservatives are also attracting an average Lower House vote to suggest they might be in the mix - in the 19 seats they're contesting they are on an average 2.59%.  However there may be an aspect of cherry-picking in their seat selection, and also their average is obviously skewed upwards by a few seats where there were only 4 or 5 candidates.

I suspect that SA, KSO and CON between them account for something like 4.5-5% out of the missing 11.15%, leaving about 6.5% for the remaining parties.  Socialist Alliance, Monaghans and Jansson are likely to get very little, Flux are never big scorers, VEP got nearly 1% last time.  There might be something approaching 5% between Advance, Seniors, Small Business, Buckingham and Liberal Democrats.  It seems plausible based on all this that the Liberal Democrats might have enough votes hiding in this mysterious others pile to get David Leyonhjelm over the line, but we will have to wait - a long time - to see!

2019 New South Wales Postcount: Lismore

(Link to main postcount thread)

LISMORE (2015 margin Nat 2.9% vs Green 2CP, Nat 0.2% vs Country Labor 2PP)

Key questions:

1. Who will be second after preferences between Janelle Saffin (Country Labor) and Sue Higginson (Greens)

Outlook: Probably Saffin

2. If Saffin is second after preferences, who wins between Saffin (Country Labor) and Austin Curtin (Nationals)?

Outlook: Almost certainly Saffin

3. If Higginson is second after preferences, who wins between Higginson (Green) and Curtin (Nationals)?

Outlook: Probably Curtin, but there are no direct data on this

Overall outlook: Saffin (Country Labor) should win

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Updates will be added here scrolling to the top.

5:00 iVotes have been added.  They broke 556-406-417 (Nationals-Labor-Green) compared with 1066-610-682, so actually that's a weaker break for the Nationals compared to 2015 and doesn't help their projected position.  Saffin's 2PP has come down to 52.96% but this includes the large Lismore prepoll where Saffin got a 2.5% 2PP swing.  There is no sign of trouble for Labor on the 2PP front and it is looking more or less certain they will win if they make the final two - meaning the Nationals' main hope is they don't.  On that front too, Labor is now further ahead (1.39 points) though this is likely to come down on absents and enrolment votes.

11am Sunday Greens concede: Sue Higginson has posted the following on Facebook:

"We just missed out but it seems almost certain Janelle Saffin - of the Labor Party - is up as the first female and non-National (for many many years) to represent the Lismore Electorate in the NSW Parliament."

Conceding has no impact on the result and there have been cases of candidates mistakenly conceding elections but winning.  However this is a fair sign that they don't see anything that can turn it around for them.  On that history, Labor last held Lismore 1959-1965 after picking up the seat in a by-election after the original contest was voided.  It was also in independent hands 1982-1988 after Bruce Duncan quit the Country Party when it rebadged as the Nationals.

Intro: Background

The northern New South Wales seat of Lismore has served up another three-cornered cracker after being also the most interesting NSW seat in 2015.  (See my 2015 Lismore postcount thread).  To recap, in 2015 the Nationals' long-serving incumbent Thomas George polled 42.5% of primaries, the Greens' Adam Guise 26.4% and Labor's Isaac Smith 25.6%.  After preferences, Guise's lead over Smith expanded from 379 votes to 417 and Smith was eliminated.  George then defeated Smith comfortably with 52.86% of the two-candidate vote.

The sting in the tail was that the wrong candidate finished second in terms of prospects of unseating George, because had Smith been second it would have been a lot closer.  Often preference flows from Labor to the Greens and vice versa are more or less the same (sometimes Labor flows are slightly stronger because their voters follow how-to-vote cards a lot more) but for whatever reasons Lismore was a big exception.  The two-party vote between George and Smith was a mere 50.23%, just 192 votes in George's favour.

Roll on 2019 and George has retired after twenty years in the saddle, and as we all know, the loss of a long-serving regional MP spells trouble.  There was some thought that the waning of outrage over coal seam gas - a major cause of monster swings to the left that delivered Ballina and nearly Lismore in 2015 - might have subsided enough to return both seats to sender comfortably, but that hasn't been the case.

Intro: 2019

At present Austin Curtin has 39.5% of primaries, Country Labor's Janelle Saffin 25.66% and the Greens' Sue Higginson 24.68%.  There is 5.37% for an independent, Greg Bennett, and the tiddlers are Animal Justice 2.35%, Sustainable Australia 1.40% and the Australian Conservatives on a sterling 1.02%.  Saffin is a well-known name in the area, the former two-term Labor federal MP for Page 2007-2013.  After being defeated by the Nationals' Kevin Hogan in 2013, Saffin recontested in 2016, so her profile in the area is very high.

The votes counted to primary in Lismore include all the prepoll centres except Kyogle, The Kyogle prepoll returned 1322 formal votes in 2015 but there has been a 28% total increase in prepoll voting across the other major prepoll centres.  On this basis, about 1670 formal votes might be expected from this prepoll.  In 2015, Kyogle was about ten points better for the Nationals, 6 points worse for the Greens and 1 point worse for Labor than the division average.  Also still to come are absent votes, provisionals, iVotes, enrolment votes (where someone enrols on the day) and remaining postals.  In 2015, these categories excluding postals favoured the Greens by 267 votes (1509 to 1242).  Adjusted for Labor's slightly better primary vote performance relative to the Greens, they might be expected to do so by about 177 votes, but on the other hand Kyogle should help Labor by about 100 votes.  Labor is beating the Greens by about 10% on postals so far.  The sample of postals counted is small, but in 2015 Labor beat the Greens by 8%, so 10% is likely to be about right.  Labor might get another 140 votes here, although not if the postal count is down.

All up I do not see the Greens closing the primary vote gap significantly on the remaining primaries.  If anything things might get slightly worse.

The Labor vs National 2CP count is currently at 53.94% to Saffin, but this includes only the booth votes and some postals, and not the prepolls.  The ABC projects Saffin to win this 2CP count with 51.5% once all votes are in.  I have not looked at this in detail but see no serious reason to doubt that Saffin wins the 2CP.

The key question then is: can the Greens get into second after preferences from the minor candidates, thereby keeping their hopes alive but also giving the Nationals a leg up into probable victory if the 2015 preference flow difference repeats?

The only recontesting party that can be modelled directly off 2015 is Animal Justice.  In 2015 Animal Justice polled 1.5% and AJP votes (including a few from an earlier-excluded candidate) split 23.6% Green, 8.5% Labor, 7.0% Christian Democrat, 4.5% to National with 43.6% to exhaust.  The same gain rate in 2019 would see the Greens claw back 0.35% from their preferences, leaving them perhaps 0.7% shy depending on what happened with the postals.

Because of optional preferencing, the Animal Justice preferences flow much more weakly between Labor and Green than they do in a compulsory preferencing election (in Victoria the Greens gained at .45 votes/vote on AJP preferences in retaining Prahran).  Perhaps with a slightly higher AJP vote this time their vote will be a little less random and the gain rate might be .2 rather than .15 as in 2015, but on the other hand with a high-profile Labor candidate this might not be the case.  The Sustainable Australia preferences may also help the Greens slightly (this party had a .2 votes/vote gain rate for the Greens in Prahran) but even so it seems that the Animal Justice and Sustainable Australia preferences are not enough to put the Greens into second.

The wild card then is the 5.37% for the independent Greg Bennett.  Bennett, a macadamia farmer and local councillor, didn't recommend preferences for anyone on his how-to-vote card, but is a known supporter of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (in one case bringing a successful Press Council complaint after being incorrectly claimed to be a candidate for the party).  Bennett also claims to be a "common sense" candidate supporting "preserving our Christian traditions" - I think it's safe to assume the Greens won't be getting help here (if anything the reverse).  For this reason I am currently pessimistic about the Greens' chances of getting into second, and I think Saffin will win the seat.

2019 New South Wales Wrap And Lower House Postcount

Seats apparently won Coalition 46 Labor 35 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3
(Apparent wins are not necessarily all confirmed)

Expected final result Coalition 48 Labor 36 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3

Seats assumed to have changing hands
Barwon (Nat to SF+F) - subject to confirmation
Murray (Nat to SF+F)
Coogee (Liberal to Labor)

Assumed retained but being monitored: 
Wollondilly (Liberal vs IND - no 2CP count available)
Penrith (Liberal leading Labor)

Seat expected to change hands but in some doubt
Lismore (Nat vs Green vs ALP) - Labor expected to win - link to Lismore thread

Seats expected to be retained but in some doubt
Dubbo (Nat leading IND and should win)
East Hills (Liberal leading Labor but gap likely to close significantly)


This thread will give some summary remarks about the NSW Lower House count (which may be updated if necessary) and will also follow the postcount in a few undecided seats where only two candidates are in contention.  Lismore has thrown up another three-cornered contest that is of special interest and it will get its own thread.


The Coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian has won a third term in office and at the end of the first night of counting appears to have won a very small majority, although this remains to be confirmed.  This is the first case of a state Coalition government winning a third or later term since the Queensland National government of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen won an eleventh term in 1986.  If the result is a majority win, it will be the first time since Tasmania in 1979 that a party has won a majority under its third Premier in the same spell in office.

The election seems to have seen a very low turnover of seats, with the government apparently dropping two rural seats to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and one city seat to Labor, with a fair chance of losing a regional seat (Lismore) to Labor or, less likely, the Greens.  Currently, the two-party preferred swing on the ABC's projected totals is running at only 1.5% to Labor in the 77 seats for which there are classic (Coalition vs Labor) 2PPs.  That would leave the Coalition with an impressive 2PP vote in the high 52s (say 52.8) but I expect that to come down to maybe 52-48 once the non-classic seats are included.

The anger in the bush that saw seats fall to the Shooters is so bad that the Nationals have lost Murray with an 8% swing from the mid-term by-election that they won.  Normally by-elections have amplified swings compared to the main event so this is quite extraordinary.

There is currently a high degree of swing variation between seats (a standard deviation of 3.9%) and the Coalition currently has projected swings to it in 26 seats.  On average this would have delivered Labor three or four Coalition seats and the Coalition one Labor seat.  However the swings may have been larger in safe seats as Labor hasn't lost any seats that I can see, while the Coalition has so far only dropped one or two to Labor.  As well as there being very few seats changing hands, there are also very few in serious doubt at this stage, though if something odd happens with the prepolls that may change.

The result is better for the Coalition than any of the campaign polling and supports the view that gaffes by the Labor leader Michael Daley in the final week either blew the election or else made it a lot less close than it should have been.  One could draw a line through the Galaxy (ALP 38% primary) to the Newspoll (35%) to the projected final primary (33.3% according to the ABC) and suspect that Labor's vote was still falling in the final days.  As for that Newspoll, as the only pollster to actually bother with a final-week poll, YouGov-Galaxy carried a heavy burden and will be breathing a big sigh of relief since it looks like they did pretty well here.  More on that when all the numbers are in.

At the previous election Labor was up against Mike Baird, one of the most popular leaders the Coalition has had at state level.  Berejiklian's government is four years older and faces federal-government drag factors that are perhaps even more severe than those provided by Tony Abbott in 2015.  It is also not enough to say that the impression of xenophobia on Michael Daley's part was itself the cause, because Labor was also attacked for much more systematic  "yellow peril" campaigning in Luke Foley's 2015 defeat, so that too was baked into the baseline.  Labor's performance here was just simply bad, and the search for Reasons may commence.

As for the government, its re-election despite being supposedly unable to sell itself to save itself does show that Coalition parties can govern from somewhere near the centre without dooming themselves.  It also raises the question of whether the ability to sell a message is as big a deal as many commentators think, or whether a good economic performance sells itself.

Despite being involved in infighting for much of the term, the Greens have come up with a decent result.  They are tracking for a swing of less than 1% against them, have retained their three seats with good swings, and are vaguely in the mix for a fourth.

Postcount: various seats

Some notes will be added here on seats I'm keeping an eye on but that I don't think need a foldout section is needed.

Wollondilly (Liberal vs Ind) sees independent Judy Hannan trying to catch Liberal Nathan Smith.  However Hannan is about 16% behind and currently needs to gain at a rate of 0.417 votes/preference to win.  This might be achievable if the preferences were all Greens and Labor but they also include 11% One Nation, which are likely to exhaust and/or scatter.  Also as prepolls are added the mountain is likely to steepen as independents tend to do badly on prepolls.  So my view is this is unrealistic.

Penrith is currently projected to 51.2% to Stuart Ayres (Lib) off a current 52.1% 2PP.  I don't think that's going anywhere but will keep an eye on it.

Postcount: Dubbo

In the seat of Dubbo (Nat, 20.4%), Troy Grant has left the building and his successor as Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders has faced a massive challenge from independent Matthew Dickerson, the former mayor of Dubbo.  As I start this section, Saunders has 35.7%, Dickerson 28.5%, the Shooters 14.3%, Country Labor 15.6%, and the Greens, Conservatives and Flux have barely bothered the scorers.  This pans out to a 50.56% two-candidate vote for Saunders at the moment.  However, only 38.5% of the vote has been counted.

Dubbo had a huge prepoll (29.6% of total) in 2015 and looks like it will do so again; none of the prepolls in Dubbo have been counted yet, though some postals have.  Grant did very well on prepolls in 2015, but more to the point, indies tend to do notoriously badly on them.  Let's see some prepolls but I reckon this will be retained.  Updates to follow.

Sunday 5:30: Dickinson has won iVotes cutting Saunders' margin to 125 votes (50.35-49.65).  However the huge Dubbo prepoll has as expected come in strongly for Saunders.  I project that when it is added to 2CP, Saunders' margin will blow out to about 864 (about 51.5-48.5), a lead which I'd expect to be insurmountable.

Postcount: East Hills

Well, the Galaxy seat poll was right!  East Hills (Lib, 0.4%) should have been one of the first against the wall in 2015 but was held with the assistance of a vicious smear campaign against the Labor candidate Cameron Murphy.  With any decent statewide swing it should have been one of the first to drop this year as well, but there wasn't a decent statewide swing, and the Liberal candidate Wendy Lindsay leads Murphy.  The current margin is 52.4% to 47.6% (1121 votes) but the count is more advanced on the primaries than the 2PP because of prepolls and one booth that are still to be counted to 2PP.  Once these are included I have Murphy about 750 votes behind, and the gap may close further with further prepolls, but he is still a rather long way behind.  The ABC projects the count to finish at about 50.8% to Lindsay.

Sunday: There are also currently two uncounted booths to primary, Bankstown West Public and Padstow Park Public.  In 2015 Labor gained 216 votes in these booths, and with relatively little shift in the primaries one would expect similar this time.  Of the prepolls, we are yet to get anything from East Hills EM.  In 2015, the East Hills prepoll did nothing.  However in 2015 the Bankstown prepoll favoured Labor by 9.7% (primaries) while in 2019 it did so by 19.5%.  So the hope for Murphy is that this sort of superior performance is also seen in the East Hills prepoll, which if so doesn't put him into the lead, but puts him close enough that he might just get there off absents.   On the other hand, there could be nearly 2000 postals to go, and while early postals tend to be more conservative than later ones, the later ones will still probably help Lindsay.

Labor scrutineers have been making confident noises about the seat based on the incomplete prepolls. The question is whether the sample of prepolls this was based off was representative or not, and I suspect the latter.  We will know much more when the prepoll count is finished at least to primary level.

Sunday 5:20: iVotes were added and favoured Labor by 106 votes, a few dozen better than last time.  The ABC's projection has come down to 50.7.

Threads for Lismore and the Legislative Council will be added on Sunday.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019 NSW Election Live Comments


Coalition has won the election - probably with a small majority 

Apparent wins Coalition 45 Labor 35 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3, 4 in doubt
(Apparent wins are not necessarily all confirmed)

Apparent seat changes:

Barwon (Nat to SF+F) - but need to wait for Broken Hill booths
Murray (Nat to SF+F)
Coogee (Liberal to Labor)

In serious doubt:

Lismore (Nat vs Green vs ALP - long postcount ahead)
Dubbo (Nat vs IND - close)

In some doubt:

East Hills (Liberal leading Labor)
Upper Hunter (Liberal leading Labor)

Assumed won but at low doubt levels: 
Wollondilly (Liberal vs IND - no 2CP count available)
Penrith (Liberal leading Labor)

Commentary appears below the double line with latest comments scrolling to the top - refresh frequently for new comments once count starts.  Comment clearance during commentary will be slow and comments may not be replied to until very late.

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11:40 Out for a walk for a bit - will come back and start writing some more stuff about midnight.

10:50 More on Legislative Council - the 13% counted as "Others" will apparently not be unrolled until Wednesday.  This includes non-blank informals, votes for the remaining 13 parties not counted on the night, and below the lines.  There may be as much as 10% of the vote for the remaining 13 parties combined, including Keep Sydney Open, Liberal Democrats etc, so there could be a winning ticket in this pile somewhere!

And more on Lismore - Janelle Saffin has moved into second on primaries, but it's not clear she will stay there.  Based on 2015 in this seat the Nationals will be praying that she doesn't, because Greens preferences will flow more strongly to her than hers will to them.   A further complication is the Animal Justice Party preferences, which may well help the Greens.

10:25 Legislative Council - people have been quoting some high figures for One Nation and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, but these were from unrepresentative rural booths that favoured both parties.  One Nation are now just below 6% and the Shooters on 5.18%, so currently each is on for one seat with One Nation some chance of two.  Even off half their current vote they would still win, so I'm confident each has one seat.  We still don't know what the breakdown of other parties looks like and who else might be in the mix.

Ben Raue has mentioned that Wollondilly is unclear between the Liberals and the independent Judy Hannan.  Hannan is clearly second and currently needs a gain rate of about .44 votes/preference to win.  On the surface this isn't impossible (similar rates were seen in Ballina last election when the Greens won for example) but it's likely to blow out once prepolls and postals are added, as indies tend to do badly on those.  We should keep an eye on this seat.  In Coffs Harbour there's also an Independent who should finish second but the gap there is in my view too great.

9:40 Labor's Janelle Saffin is catching the Greens in Lismore, so this is a very exciting three-cornered contest (again!)

9:15 The projection giveth and taketh away - Labor just jumped ahead further in Coogee (which has been given away) but fell behind in East Hills.

8:57 Lismore - Antony has indicated problems with the ABC's modelling.  Currently the Greens would win based on the last-election preference flow.  We need to see if the primary vote gap (currently 7.7%) holds near where it is.

8:25 Cabramatta is under control for Labor so far against the ex-Liberal independent Dai Le.

8:05 Swing to Greens in Balmain so far.  It is looking like all the current crossbenchers will be re-elected.

8:01 Labor thinks the Greens will retain Ballina - this looks very likely on current figures which have them well ahead.

Labor are failing to win Goulburn - if they can't win that, that isn't very good for them.

7:55 It's a bit hard to post much detail on some of the seats because the ABC is not booth-matching.  Dubbo is tightening to about a 12% primary gap from National to independent, if it comes down to 7-8% the independent (Mathew Dickerson) will be more of a threat.

7:50 Swings being reported to Liberals in Oatley, which I considered off the table to Labor off the Daley gaffe.  Kogarah is still shaky; Labor have claimed Strathfield.

7:47 Liberal lead rising towards the too-hard level in Wollondilly.

7:41 Nationals are 8% behind the Shooters in Murray and look to be losing by more than that on preferences.  This is going to take a lot to bring back.

7:32 Let's check all the non-classic seats I haven't checked yet:
Dubbo - Nats 20% ahead of an independent, that would need to close up a lot given OPV.
North Shore - Swing 8% to Felicity Wilson in first booth counted, so I expect her to retain.
Wollondilly - Liberals currently lead by 13% from independent Judy Hannan but are a long way short of 50% with a very complex count.  PHON and Shooters have 10% and Labor have 15% so if the preferences of the minors help Hannan she might win. Haven't looked at HTV cards for the seat yet.

Labor has claimed to have won Port Stephens, a seat targeted by the Liberals.

7:30 There is a suggestion that the early Kogarah booth is unrepresentative (high Chinese population even by seat standards.)

7:22 Calling Lake Macquarie for Greg Piper.  Joe McGirr just moved into the primary lead in Wagga Wagga so is looking OK there at this stage.

7:17 Antony Green calls Newtown for Jenny Leong off 2.3% of the count and I agree.  So the Greens will be in the parliament.

7:14 Barwon may become three-cornered between Labor, SF+F and the leading Nationals once the Broken Hill booths come in there.  Liberals claiming a swing to them in Terrigal and hoping to pick up The Entrance.  However early Labor booth figures don't agree on the latter.

7:12 The Nats' Kevin Anderson looks to have Tamworth under control with 59% with over 1000 counted, so I think we can take that one off the crossbench menu.

7:10 Labor saying they are close to the mark in Seven Hills, but not in Heathcote.

7:05 Nick Casmirri reports an error in the Ballina Hospital booth where figures appear switched between the Nationals and Sustainable Australia.

7:03 First Kogarah booth in (where Labor has issues caused by Michael Daley's Asians-with-PhDs pre-gaffe) has a 6.2% swing against Labor and a 10% swing to the Liberal candidate.  If continued across the electorate this would be trouble for Labor but we need to see more booths.

6:57 Antony Green has called Orange for incumbent Phil Donato (SF+F) and I agree.

6:52 5% primary vote swing against Nationals in Clarence in the first booth, which I had my eye on in case of possible regional trashings of the Nationals vote.  Nothing to see there yet.

6:49 The swings on the ABC site don't seem to be booth-matched at this stage; they just seem to be matched against the overall result.  That's a nuisance.

6:46 Nats doing better in Murray now with the Euston booth in where their primary and the Shooters primary are down by similar amounts, and they have taken the primary lead.  Time to look at other seats til this one settles down.

6:41 The figures at the second Murray booth are so extreme that I can only suspect an error in the Bunnaloo booth which has a supposed 47% swing against the Nationals.

6:33 Hello hello, trouble for the Nationals in the first booth in Murray with a swing worth about 8% compared to the by-election which they won with only a 3.3% margin!  Perhaps small booths will swing more.

6:25 A few figures coming in from small booths - Labor off to a champagne start in Lismore with 8 of the 12 votes counted!

6:17 Dinner break finished; here we go! No figures yet.

5:57 Virtual Tally Room (NSW) page is up:

5:34 The following issues were cited by respondents as influencing their vote (HT: Bevan Shields)

Heath and hospitals: 43%
Education: 35%
Roads and congestion: 23%
Rail: 23%
Economy: 20%
Power prices: 18%
Federal factors: 15%
Stadiums: 12%

We've barely heard a peep about health in this election; that said I think voters are prone to include it as important whether they are following the issue or not.

5:24 pm: The Galaxy exit poll with a 50-50 result is confined to marginals. It has a 2.7% swing to Labor in city marginals, a 3.5% swing in non-city marginals.  So it does not show a tightening compared to the Newspoll as there is no statewide figure (but the average marginals swing is the same as Newspoll).  Hence the interpretation of it as pointing to a Coalition minority, though it's also consistent with a small Coalition majority.  We'll see ...

5:21 pm: The Galaxy exit poll is 50-50.  Could be in for a long night ... one could not rule out a Labor minority government on this 2PP if accurate.

5:13 pm: Reports the Galaxy exit poll points to a Coalition minority, have not seen figures yet.

5:03 pm: There is a bizarre irregularity in Strathfield where votes have been quarantined, apparently after a paid campaign volunteer started ticking off voters and handing out votes as if they were a polling official.  Affected votes have been quarantined with their status to be determined.  Comments on Poll Bludger suggest around 300 votes involved and that there is a "very funny" story.

5:00 pm Galaxy exit poll incoming soon on Nine.

4:50 pm Something novel - Greenpeace have commissioned a Lonergan exit seat poll of Coogee, a Liberal inner-city marginal said to be unusually susceptible to climate change concerns, with a huge sample size (1481).  This has Labor winning massively, off primaries of 41 to 31 for Liberals. Coogee had a huge Green vote last election so this would pan out to about 58-42, which would be an 11% swing.  Huge if true - but is it true? Can it be true?  We'll find out soon enough ...

Intro (3 pm)

Welcome to my live comments on the NSW state election.  As usual my comments will aim to complement, and perhaps now and then correct, the ABC's coverage which many readers will be watching, and especially to keep an eye on a number of seats of interest (mostly of the non-classic variety).   Comments will start from 6 pm, or earlier if there is exit polling.

Regarding election night, it's going to be messy.  William Bowe has noted that the NSWEC does not expect to have full prepoll counts even to primary level tonight.  Also, in following days the NSWEC is likely (as in the past) to only continue 2CP counts for close seats, counting the rest at primary level only until the full entry of ballot papers into computers followed by the "button press".  More detail on that as counts unfold through the following weeks.  I will select various seats to follow in the post-counting threads which will be unrolled either very late tonight or tomorrow.  Clearly classic-2PP seats (Coalition vs Labor) will probably be covered on a single thread, with other threads for interesting seats.

I'll be especially keeping an early eye on non-classic contests in crossbench-held Orange and Wagga and Coalition-held Barwon, Dubbo, Murray, Tamworth, North Shore and Wollondilly, and just for variety Labor-held Cabramatta.  The three-cornered contests in Ballina and Lismore are likely to be interesting again but I expect them to take time to stabilise.

There are bound to be seats where the NSWEC will select the wrong two candidates for the final 2CP.  Fortunately the ABC has recently improved its performance in noting when its projections in these cases are estimates and not real votes, but this is always something to be cautious of.

Prepoll voting has increased significantly at this election, from about 642,000 in 2015 to "more than one million".  Prepolls will be over 20% of the total, so more seats than usual are likely to finish tonight still up in the air.  Also, the NSWEC has said it won't release individual electorate prepoll figures immediately.  Almost 83,000 postals have already been received (the 2015 tally was around 204,000; there will be many more to come) and the embattled iVote system has received over 207,000 votes but will receive more today (in 2015 it reached almost 284,000.)

Regarding the Legislative Council it appears the NSWEC will be producing a primitive partial count confined to above-the-line votes for " the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, Shooters, the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and One Nation", with the rest lumped as others.  This is unsatisfactory. The count will be incomplete and likely to be skewed anyway so don't expect too much understanding of the last few seats in the Legislative Council tonight.  I will be focusing on the Lower House for most of the evening.

My summaries of late polling matters can be seen at NSW: Final Day Roundup.  Despite the perception of a horror final week for Labor, capped by a movement to the Coalition in the final Newspoll, matters remain very uncertain.  Firstly there is a serious shortage of statewide polling data: only six statewide polls by three different pollsters have been seen in the past three months, compared to 22 polls by seven different pollsters in 2015.  There has been no poll by anyone except YouGov Galaxy (which also administers Newspoll) since a ReachTEL over two weeks ago!  If the final Newspoll's reading of the primary votes is correct, then the Coalition is very likely to win, but majority status is touch and go.  However both the Coalition hanging on in majority with only a few seat losses, and Labor forming minority government are well within the range of normal polling errors (as seen in YGG's final polls in SA, WA and on the 2PP in Queensland) - to say nothing of abnormal ones such as in Victoria.  A Labor majority government would be a big surprise, but a Coalition majority, a Coalition minority and a Labor minority are all well and truly on the table.

If you're looking for the case that Labor will win, Peter Brent's early case didn't present all that much evidence (beyond that pendulums can't be trusted, which is certainly the case at this election because of the weird distribution of Coalition seats).   But there is also a more thorough piece by Tim Colebatch which points out the historical factors against the Coalition, including the strong record of Labor at state elections generally in the past 38 years - a record that exists despite the roughly equal share of federal power (and hence federal drag impacts) in this time.  I'd note that while Newspoll had Labor too low in Victoria and WA, it also had the Coalition too low in SA and on the 2PP in Queensland, and also that while no "conservative" state government has won a third term since 1980, Joh's Nationals in Queensland won an eleventh term in 1986.  Concerning betting odds, Colebatch suggests that they have a house effect in favour of the Coalition and incumbent MPs. While the former isn't always the case (eg a Liberal majority in Tasmania was at $15 and happened by a margin of 6%), as a general principle I can think of easily more than enough cases to suspect that he is right.

Friday, March 22, 2019

NSW 2019: Final Day Roundup

SUMMARY: Polls imply likely Coalition victory, but if so, majority status is still touch and go.

This thread will cover anything I think is of interest re Saturday's election, starting with a pre-Newspoll look at where things might stand (but there is some weird stuff going on, so who knows) and followed up with anything I want to add once Newspoll (or any other late polls) come out.  I'll be working in the afternoon, so don't expect updates between about 11 am - 6 pm.

There will be live coverage here on election night from 6:00 pm and going through til very late, and the live thread may be started earlier in the day if there is anything of special interest going on.

Statewide polling and modelling

Since the previous post there's been just one more statewide poll, a YouGov-Galaxy with a 50-50 two-party preferred result (barely enough to move the dial).  The primaries were Coalition 41 Labor 38 Greens 9 Shooters, Fishers and Farmers 3, One Nation 1 and others 8.  The SF+F and One Nation figures clearly reflect that the pollster has adjusted for these parties not running in many seats, but I have not seen any confirmation on whether they polled these parties only in the seats they were contesting, or used some other adjustment method.  The poll was a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty exercise for Labor.  To one degree it showed at least that the party was getting a primary vote swing, which it desperately needs to win seats in the Sydney metro area and avoid a scenario of the 2PP swing being wasted on rural seats where Labor finishes third.  On the other hand, the 2PP swing just didn't look to be quite enough.  (There was some good news for Labor at the time in a close 38-36 result in Gladys Berejiklian's favour in the preferred Premier question.)

In an aggregate, this poll could only move the dial by tenths of a percent.  Pending any further polling, I'm using 50.3 to Labor, based on which the projected results in my model are about the same as the previous update - so close that I don't see any point in posting fresh conditional seat probabilities.  Two seat polls (Goulburn 50-50 and Penrith 51-49 to Liberal) also didn't add a lot of action to my model.  If all this was all we knew, I'd say that the Coalition deserved to be very slight favourites, but were likely to fall a seat or two shy of majority.

However, it's been a strange week.  Labor's final campaign week has been regarded as a shocker, partly off the release of Michael Daley's September 2018 comments about "young people from typically Asia with PhDs" causing "Our young children" to "flee" from areas with rising house prices.  Daley has apologised for these comments.  However Daley also had a very poor appearance in the People's Forum debate (though the Premier's performance was hardly spotless either), mixing up figures from areas of Labor policy strength and generally being attacked as not up to it after the election.  The "vibe" is suddenly that the Coalition will not only win but could cut its losses enough to do so with a small majority.

The Asians-with-PhDs preheated gaffe has resulted in bizarre scenes in the final days as Labor is forced to sandbag Kogarah (which it ought to be winning 62-38) on account of the electorate's very high Chinese population.  What is not getting so much attention in all of this is that there are a pack of rural and regional seats where nobody cares about inner-city housing prices or whether or not Michael Daley can remember what he's spending on TAFE.  As Peter Brent has observed, within weeks Labor's final week of shockers will be either "forgotten" or the obvious reason for the result.

Both sides have done enough to lose this election and the post-election narrative about causes and issues will probably be very different to the one we're hearing now.  William Bowe is amusing about how this played out in Victoria (about nine minutes from the end of this Tally Room podcast.)

The Newspoll will be very interesting in terms of whether there has been any late movement to the government or not.  


Betting odds are not reliably predictive but they give some good examples of how expectations are shifting.  The implied chance of a majority government on one of the major exchanges has grown from 24% (which was always too low anyway) to 42% over the last few days.  The markets still have the Coalition favoures to lose in East Hills, Coogee, Tweed, Lismore and Upper Hunter and have now added Barwon to the mix (the Shooters are narrowly favoured to grab it).  However, there are only four LNP occupied seats where Labor are now at $3 or less, while on the Labor side, Kogarah (can such things be true?) has been added to the close-seat list.  Ballina is the only seat where there is nobody under $2 because of the three-cornered nature of the contest.  The Coalition are also rapidly firming statewide, with their implied chance of winning up from 54% a few days ago to 64% now [edit Friday morning: now 68%].

Minority scenarios

One of the odd aspects of this election is that if it does come to a minority government situation, the independents won't necessarily support Labor (despite two of the three current independents being recognisably left-wing) while the Shooters, who one would have thought of as a conservative party, won't necessarily support the Coalition.  Indeed the Coalition has said it will not accept Shooters support.  This is all among the oddities of political life in NSW where the Liberal Party at state level is very moderate, and is also up against a rather moderate Labor Opposition.

There has been some canvassing of a possible Labor-Greens-Shooters alliance.  

Upper House

Unfortunately I have not found the time I was hoping to to have a good look at the Upper House so I refer readers to Ben Raue (whose overall in-depth preview coverage of NSW has been terrific), William Bowe and Antony Green.   The Liberal Democrats' David Leyonhjelm faces a challenge because he has drawn to the right of the Liberals on the ballot paper, which normally results in LDP candidates polling less than 2% of the vote.  I may have time to post some further comments tonight.

Update: Newspoll

The Newspoll has come out and it is 51-49 to Coalition, off a 41-35 primary vote lead.  The primary vote for Labor is a problem if this poll is accurate, and Michael Daley's netsat (never all that high) has been damaged by the events of this week, knocking him down to -15.  When I feed the 2PP into my seat model, it gives the Coalition 47 or 48 seats on 2PP, but that includes seats (most seriously Barwon but potentially a handful of others) that it could drop to indies or Shooters.  However the weak Labor primary suggests this could be conservative.  The model only wants to give Labor Lismore, East Hills, Monaro (which I'd be inclined to override) and Coogee, with Upper Hunter and Tweed tossups and also Goulburn close to that status.

There is a breakdown into Sydney seats (52-48 to Coalition) and the rest of NSW (50-50).  Those are swings of about 2.1% and 4.5% respectively.  This fits with the view (it's the sort of election where I have to stop myself from saying "vibe" all the time) that the government and its campaign have been Sydney-centric.  If I throw in a Sydney vs non-Sydney factor into my model using this poll then the government wins the 2PP in 47 seats, which all else being equal puts it one loss to the Shooters or an indie away from minority government.  With the Sydney/non-Sydney factor in play, the model now gives Labor Lismore, East Hills, Monaro (caution), Upper Hunter, Tweed and by a whisker Goulburn, but not Coogee.  But it gives the Coalition 47 not 46 despite the six projected losses because of the small chance a Labor seat drops, and because outside of the seats being mentioned here, it doesn't see all that much else as in play.

Even a 51-49 Newspoll is at best marginal for the Coalition in terms of majority status.  Factoring in previous polls there is still not an objective data basis for the view that the Coalition will win a majority, but following this poll a lot of people are bound to expect that they will.

Using the weights of my federal polling model, an aggregate of 50.3 to Coalition gives a seat reading of 46 Coalition and 40 Labor, with the seven crossbench seats not included in the model and assumed to be held by their owners absent of any indication otherwise.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Poll Roundup: Medevac Fails To Shift The Dial

2PP Aggregate: 53.4 to Labor (+0.4 since last week)
52.9% with One Nation adjustment
Labor would easily win election "held now" with about 90 seats.

In the wake of the Coalition's 50th consecutive Newspoll 2PP loss, here's another roundup of the state of federal polling, and I also include some comments about the state of seat betting, which I track in the approach to each federal election.

A few weeks back, just after the last roundup, there was a lot of hot air about a possible "Tampa moment" for the Coalition in the form of a close Ipsos poll immediately following the passing of "medevac" legislation by Labor and the crossbench.  Since that Ipsos 51-49 (with the Coalition lucky to get 49 on the published primaries anyway) we've seen Newspoll at 53-47 and 54-46, Essential at 52-48 and 53-47 and a commissioned ReachTEL at 53-47.  There was also a Queensland-only YouGov-Galaxy with a 6.1% swing to Labor in that state.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Token Post About Modelling The 2019 NSW Lower House Election

Recent state polling suggests a hung parliament (approx 44 Coalition 41 ALP 3 Green 3-4 Ind 1-2 Shooters) - but there's hardly been any of it!

Update Monday 11/3: Polls over the long weekend (a uComms/ReachTEL at 51-49 to Labor and a Newspoll at 50-50) have been completely consistent with the assessments below.  

Rinse and repeat ... another state election is only weeks away and there's been virtually no public polling.  At this stage in the 2015 election cycle there had been five statewide polls, but so far this year there have been just two.  Perhaps they will come thick and fast in the next two weeks, but I have so little hope of that that I think the best I can do is write an article complaining about the lack of polling in the hope that my article becomes out of date as soon as possible.

Anyway, to briefly poke my head through a gap in what is often a very busy few weeks of the year for me (the dreaded "AGM season"), I thought I'd post some comments about where things might be at if the very limited public polling we've seen this year is anywhere near accurate - which it may not be.

State polls this year and late last year have either shown the 2PP contest as even, or shown Labor with slight leads.  The two this year were a Newspoll (50-50) and an Essential (51-49 to Labor).  For the purposes of this article I'll split the difference and call it 50.5 to Labor.  With the Essential poll the youngest, and it nearly a month old, this might well be totally wrong by now, but the feeling from the noises being made by the parties is they don't think all that much has changed.

The Daily Telegraph had a couple of YouGov-Galaxy seat polls of East Hills (50-50, 0.4% swing to Labor) and Ryde (53-47 to Liberal, 8.5% to Labor).  A great deal was made of very little with the report trying to read something into a 35-31 lead in voters saying they were more likely (rather than less likely) to vote Liberal on account of Scott Morrison's performance as PM.  Aside from this being not even reliable evidence (given margin of error issues) if seat polls behaved like random samples (and they're not that good anyway), these sorts of questions are generally useless.  Voters often respond to them in a partisan fashion, or even if answering honestly often aren't much more or less likely to change their vote based on the factor, or are mistaken in thinking they will end up giving it a moment's thought.  However, the Coalition have been making upbeat noises about East Hills off the back of migration concerns, though holding it last time seemed remarkable enough.

The standard model I use for trying to work out state elections is a conditional probability model.  It asks, for a given 2PP, what would appear to be the chance of each side winning the 2PP contest in a given seat.  Of course there are many seats where a non-classic contest either excludes the seat or means that the output is of dubious value.  Because the model only knows about objective factors (margin, sophomore effects, retirements, public seat polls at a very low weighting), it will often be inaccurate in specific seats.  It also assumes that the swing per seat will be random but normally distributed around the state swing (in contrast to the pendulum model, which assumes the swing will be the same everywhere.)  At this election, there's a strong expectation that the swing will be bigger in the bush where the Nationals are apparently in so much trouble that they have run away from their branding - however, there are some areas (like the far north) where this might not apply.  I've kept the variation in seat swings at a relatively high 4% for this reason.

For now, I'm just going to show what the top side of the Coalition part of the seat model currently looks like for an assumed 2PP of 49.5%:

The columns are, respectively, the current Coalition vs Labor 2PP, the predicted 2PP for a statewide 2PP of 49.5%, and the predicted probability of the Coalition winning the 2PP on that basis.

A number of seats where the probability is especially likely to be misleading have been flagged as having one or more caution factors:

* Lismore: because there is a view that coal-seam-gas related anger at the Coalition, seen in the 2015 election, might have gone away now, and hence the monster swings seen at the past election might be followed by below-average swings or a swing back.  (If not, this vacant seat is toast, but the model's output should be seen as overconfident).

* East Hills: for reasons discussed above and also because of the scandal-prone reign of the retiring incumbent (though that sort of thing often doesn't affect a replacement)

* Monaro: because of John Barilaro's rise to the leadership, as a result of which one would expect the seat to be porkbarrel central.

* Barwon: because the Nationals appear to be savagely on the nose in this seat, though the big threat appears to come from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

* Coffs Harbour: because of reports of high swings in internal polling.

This model may help make sense of one of the issues noticed in the Sportsbet betting odds.  Although Labor have been very competitive on the headline market, there have been few seats where they are favourite to win seats.  The reason for this is that while a small number of seats on small margins look likely to go, there are a swag of Coalition seats that are vulnerable.  Currently the Coalition is slated to lose Coogee, East Hills, Lismore, Tweed and Upper Hunter, all of which are also losses in my model, though more confidently so in some cases because the model is conditional on the swing being of a certain size.  The Coalition is also seen by the markets as at serious risk (Labor at $3 or under) in nine seats, while Labor is only seen as at such risk in one seat it holds (Port Stephens).

The main reason the Coalition has a lot more seats at risk is the unusual nature of the pendulum, which has that brace of twelve seats on 6% to 10% margins.  If the state swing is approaching 5%, random variation suggests that some of them will go, but we cannot know which ones.  As a result, adding up seats on a betting exchange to see who is favourite in how many seats is not an accurate guide to "what the market thinks".

For a 2PP of 49.5%, my model has the Coalition losing about seven of their 52 2PP seats to Labor (or perhaps in the case of Lismore, the Greens) leaving them with about 45.  It has Labor possibly losing one somewhere, but probably not, pushing Labor up to 41 (assuming Labor, not the Greens, would win Lismore).

From here some comments could be made about the seven seats held by other parties or independents:

* There is no evidence of risk to the independents in Sydney or Lake Macquarie and both are on big margins so I assume they will retain.

* The 2PP shift to Labor is mainly a result of the Coalition losing votes to Ind/Others, and to a lesser extent to the ALP.  Although the Greens' primary vote is down a bit on last election, it's hard to see anything dislodging them in Newtown; Balmain (4.7% Green vs ALP) is less safe but doesn't seem like

* There are two seats that have been disrupted by the Coalition losing them to a third party and an independent.  The previous safe nature of these seats on a 2PP basis is completely useless in modelling the margin because of this.  The arguments for Orange returning to sender are stronger than Wagga Wagga because of the very narrow by-election margin in Orange, but we don't have enough evidence to say that seats won by minor conservative parties behave the same way as seats won by opposing major parties at by-elections.  With the Nats being so much on the nose, there's a general view that the Shooters might hold Orange, but I don't think we can be too confident on that one.

* The biggest chance of a government gain from the crossbench appears to be Ballina, on the basis of the size of the swing there last time and the view that it was caused by temporary factors, and the problems the Greens are having in NSW.  But Ballina is not only underwater against the Greens, but against Labor as well (Labor won the 2PP there 53-47).  The Greens also have a history of doing better in seat defences than the state or federal swing implies, and are yet to lose a single-member seat anywhere that they won at a previous general election.

While the government might on balance recover, say, one seat from the crossbench if it's lucky, it is also in enough trouble in others to suggest that on average there will be losses elsewhere.  The main problem is Barwon (Shooters) but there is also risk in Murray (Shooters), Tamworth and Dubbo (rural independents) and North Shore (independent Mayor campaigning against a weak incumbent - though I'm not sure Felicity Wilson's credibility issues are that interesting to voters generally).

So off a 2PP of about 49.5-50.5 a possible outcome would be a parliament with about 44 Coalition, 41 Labor, 3 Green, 3-4 indies and 1-2 Shooters.  Given that the Greens will not support the Coalition, that would be basically a tie, and someone would probably end up taking government with a crossbench agreement that gave them confidence and supply by 1-2 seats.  So there's good reason to believe that this is very close.

What does an easier Labor win look like?  It probably looks like getting a bigger swing, or else getting lucky in the Coalition's 6-10% range, and then most likely forming a minority government that depends on the Greens or one or two indies (but doesn't need both).  Even if there is a blowout to, say, 53-47 in Labor's favour, my model still doesn't think that's enough for majority government unless they can rope in Ballina and Balmain.

What does an easier Coalition win look like? Probably it looks like the huge decline in Coalition primary vote since 2015 (see Bludger Track) going mainly to Shooters, One Nation and indies in rural seats that are unloseable to Labor.  It would also require the swing in the Liberal seats in the crucial 6-10% range being kept down because they are not where the primary vote action is.  If the Coalition can save one or two of the six very close seats, and get run close by indies and Shooters in bush seats without losing too many of them, then it might come out still in or only just short of majority.  If it can hold losses to, say, seven - and lose to Shooters in preference to independents - the Coalition could be in a strong position, since it is hard to see how a Labor/Greens/Shooters alliance would be stable.

Of course, things might have shifted - let's see what we get by way of state polls this week!

(As for the Upper House, I hope to have a look at that this coming week sometime too.  The most interesting aspect of the ballot draw was the Liberal Democrats drawing to the right of the Liberal-National ticket, meaning that David Leyonhjelm will have to fight for a seat.  Beyond that, the impacts of the ballot draw are probably being overstated.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another One's Gone: Rene Hidding Resignation And Replacement

Just another post to cover off on another Hare-Clark recount coming up for the Tasmanian House Of Assembly.

Former Opposition Leader Rene Hidding has resigned from parliament in dramatic circumstances. This comes days after Matthew Denholm in The Australian published reports that an unnamed woman had made historic sexual abuse claims and various related claims against an unnamed man (who could be identified by elimination, based on the details provided, as being Hidding).  Hidding has very strongly denied the accusations and has counter-claimed that his accuser has fabricated the claims in order to cause him damage as part of a family dispute.  He also says he intends to seek redress against The Australian, though the article did report that he had denied all aspects of the allegations.

Whatever the truth of these matters (a subject on which I have no information) Rene Hidding is entitled to be presumed innocent.  Having to fight these accusations is obviously a major distraction, and he was expected to retire from politics at the end of this term if not before anyway.  The claims also have a political dimension because Denholm reported the accuser as having claimed to have reported the matter to police in 2014, but Denholm also said the police had no record of this.  For much of 2014, the Police Minister was Rene Hidding - so had he remained in parliament it is likely the Opposition would have hammered the government about this aspect of the claims, and conspiracy theories would have flourished. [Update: The woman involved now says she first contacted police in 2013, when Labor's David O'Byrne was Police Minister.]

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Nelson

I've decided to start my 2019 guide to the Legislative Council division of Nelson early this year.  Firstly, I need to clear some decks for other things ahead of a very busy period ahead.  Secondly there is great interest in the contest already, and thirdly I don't have to wait until the final pre-election sittings to tell you anything about the voting patterns of the incumbent, since (i) the incumbent is the current President and doesn't vote (ii) the incumbent is retiring.  I will be updating my Legislative Council voting patterns assessment (last edition here) but for the time being there's not much to add, as there were only eight contested votes in all of 2018.  I will also have pages for the other two seats, Montgomery and Pembroke, some time not later than early April.  And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election, expected to be Saturday May 4th.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

Seat Profile

The now rather oddly-shaped Nelson (see map) is an urban and urban-fringe electorate in Hobart's south.  Nelson includes the Hobart suburbs of Sandy Bay, Mt Nelson,  Waimea Heights, Taroona and parts of Dynnyrne, and the Kingborough suburbs of Kingston, Maranoa Heights and part of Blackmans Bay.

Historically, the winners of this seat and its main predecessor Queenborough have been conservative independents, some of them in name only and linked to the Liberal Party.  That's no surprise as  Nelson used to be a rather conservative seat, albeit one with a high Green vote.  However, that's changed a bit recently, and at the last state election, the Liberal Party polled 46.5% (about four points below the state average) in Nelson booths.  Labor polled 32.9% (about the state average) and the Greens 18.8% (eight and a half points above).  It's still a conservative and Green-leaning seat compared to the rest of what is now Clark (ex-Denison) but that's really not saying much.

Nelson has some very "blue" booths (a mix of affluence around Lower Sandy Bay and bible belt at Maranoa Heights).  But it also has some very Green booths, notably Taroona, and also Dynnyrne and Mt Nelson.  The Greens finished a distant second in both 2007 and 2013, though in 2007 they were the only opposition.

Retiring Incumbent

Jim Wilkinson is retiring after four terms.  A former VFL footballer, state cricketer and well-known broadcaster, and also a lawyer, Wilkinson was very strongly connected within the electorate and probably unbeatable at all times in his 24-year career.  Wilkinson has generally been a moderate conservative, which made him one of the council's more left-leaning members when he first arrived, but placed him slightly to the right of centre later on.  Political leanings became irrelevant when he took over the Presidency soon after his 2013 re-election, since when he's only voted to break ties.  An affable MLC, Wilkinson has rarely been controversial.

In the three cases where a final two-candidate margin involving Wilkinson was obtained, he got between 58.3% and 62% of the vote, and he probably would have been somewhere around the lower end of that range in 2013 had all preferences been thrown.  In 2013 a determined attempt by left-wing "third-party" groups to unseat the incumbent forced him to make an effort but it was ultimately all to no avail, with opponents left to boast about a primary vote swing against him that was meaningless given he had three opponents instead of just one low-profile Green.

Wilkinson was personally endorsed by Premier Will Hodgman on Twitter prior to the 2013 election, but never ran as a party candidate.

Candidates (9)

The following candidates, in order of announcing that they were at least considering running, have announced their intention to contest.  (If a candidate has a website, then their name is a link to their website.) All candidates are running as independents unless specified otherwise, but candidates may have party backgrounds. The only parties to have endorsed a candidate so far are the Liberals and Greens.

(Note: candidates may contact me once only to request a change to the link their name goes to, or additional links which will be added, or not, at my discretion.  No other changes will be made on request except to correct clear factual errors.  Candidates are welcome to comment in the comment section. Differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material.)

Blair Brownless (candidacy announcement, linkedin) is a teacher, sports commentator and former Clarence footballer.  He is currently Director of Organisation at Guilford Young College, a Hobart school, and has also worked in careers awareness for the Education Department and as a sporting administrator.

Little is known of Brownless' political views beyond his statements on the campaign trail, and I am not aware of him having any party background.  His initial pitch included commuter ferries, a satellite hospital at Kingston, and openness to supporting a cable car on kunanyi/Mt Wellington. He currently lives at Seven Mile Beach, well outside the electorate, though says he has lived "all over Hobart".

Richard Griggs (candidacy announcement, Twitter) is a lawyer and board member of the Hobart Community Law Service.  He is state Director of Civil Liberties Australia and a former state public service advisor and policy officer.  He was fairly briefly head of office for Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor in 2015-6 and was also an advisor to the ACT Greens' Shane Rattenbury. He is not currently a member but received support from many Greens in his 2018 run for the seat of Hobart, in which he finished a distant but more than respectable second behind Rob Valentine, polling 25.6% on primaries and 39% two-candidate preferred.

Griggs is a well-known campaigner for a state Human Rights Act, a proposal that is supported by the Labor and Green Opposition parties but rejected by the Government.  Griggs has promoted free bus transport between Hobart and Kingston during peak hour to attempt to ease traffic congestion.  Griggs works in the electorate but lives outside it in New Town.

Madeleine Ogilvie (candidacy announcement, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) was a Labor MHA from 2014 to 2018.  Ogilvie was elected to state parliament for Denison at the second attempt in 2014, polling 2156 primary votes, with Green preferences giving her the nod ahead of veteran Julian Amos.  In 2018 she polled 4340 votes but was ousted by within-party challenger Ella Haddad.  Ogilvie's single term was rather turbulent, with some surprisingly heated public exchanges (example) with the left of the party. These were mostly over her comparatively conservative positions on social issues of Catholic concern.  However she is also noted for pro-refugee positions and was an early mover within Labor on poker machines.

Ogilvie is a practising barrister and solicitor and a Masters candidate in Space Law, and has a classically Generation-Xish collection of unusual career achievements.  An always quirky and different candidate in terms of campaigning style, Ogilvie has resigned from Labor and says she is running as a "true independent" with an intention to review/improve rather than block government legislation.  Ogilvie lives in South Hobart and is just outside the electorate as a result of a previous redistribution.

Deborah Brewer (Tasmanian Greens) (candidacy announcement, Facebook) is the endorsed Greens candidate.  Brewer was a minor Greens candidate for Franklin at the 2010 state election, polling 478 votes.  She has a background in social work and education and recently submitted a PhD thesis "looking at youth-at-risk and ensuring young people have opportunities in education." according to the Mercury. She has worked as a social worker in East Timor (as a volunteer), the Northern Territory  for the Defence Department and Christmas Island and has been a teacher of community work in Hobart for over fifteen years.

Brewer currently works in Children and Youth services for the state government and has stressed climate change, housing and transport issues. She is also a former teacher at TasTAFE.  Brewer lives in Sandy Bay, within the electorate.

Meg Webb (candidacy announcement, Facebook, linkedin, Twitter) is the head of Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre and a prominent campaigner for poker machine reform. Webb has also worked for the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCoSS) and in community aged care for the Salvation Army.  I am unaware of her having any party background.

Webb is high-profile and has had dozens of media mentions in recent years, including being rated in the Mercury's 2017 list of 100 most powerful people in Tasmania (one place ahead of Ruth Forrest MLC!) and even appearing as a statistically typical Tasmanian (which will cease to be the case if she wins this.)  She doesn't appear to have any past political form, and has given her priorities as "future-proofing Tasmania", "transparent honest government" and "lifting the basics above politics".   Webb has tweeted in strong support of the "Tasmanian Electoral Inquiry" coalition which maintains that the 2018 state election may have been stolen as a result of pokies-related donations and third-party spending.  I believe that Webb lives in West Hobart, outside (but not far outside) the electorate.

John "Polly" Farmer (candidacy announcement, Facebook) is a regular cartoonist for The Mercury newspaper, in an unusual case of a cartoonist running for the office they often caricature.  He has been one of the Mercury's most regular cartoonists since the early 1990s.  Farmer has stated he is particularly motivated by the lack of action on restoring the Tasmanian House of Assembly to 35 seats.  (The House was cut from 35 to 25 members in the late 1990s to curb either costs or the Greens, depending on who you listen to.)  Farmer says he has been accused of bias by all parties at some time or other and I am unaware of him having any party background.

Farmer has also cited "health, education, voluntary assisted dying and poker machine legislation" as areas of concern and describes himself as centrist, while also supporting "progressive" government.  He has continued cartooning for presumably no pay on his Facebook page while on leave to contest the election, and has been especially scathing about Labor's recent move away from the poker machine policy it took to the 2018 state election.  Farmer lives within the electorate.

Vica Bayley (candidacy announcement, Facebook, Twitter) is one of Tasmania's highest-profile environmentalists as the state campaign manager for the Wilderness Society.  Bayley was especially prominent during the forests "peace deal" of the Labor-Green government in 2010-4.  He has long worked in conservation, but is also a trained teacher and property valuer.  Although his politics obviously resemble those of the Greens, he he has never been a member of a political party.  Bayley has also supported the "Tasmanian Election Inquiry" group.

Bayley has highlighted trust in politics and climate change as major priorities and has also raised health, traffic congestion, education and poker machines and several other issues (see "priorities" section of website) as issues.  Bayley is a long-term resident of the electorate.

Nic Street (party pagecandidacy announcementTwitter, ACL questionnaire response)  is the endorsed Liberal candidate.  Street is a former Kingborough councillor who ran for the Liberals in 2014 polling 1122 votes.  In March 2016 he was elected on a countback when Paul Harriss resigned his seat.  In the 2018 election Street polled 1907 primary votes (the Liberal vote was very concentrated with Premier Hodgman).  He was defeated by fellow casual-vacancy filler Rosemary Woodruff (Greens) by 226 votes in an exciting cutup.  He has since worked as a staffer for Franklin Liberal MP and minister Jacquie Petrusma.

Street is noted for his outspoken, by Liberal standards, social liberalism on euthanasia and same-sex marriage (see sheep speech) - and was willing to go it alone on such issues on conscience votes.  However, he was a reliable supporter of his party's line on other issues.  His Lower House career was largely uncontentious though a multiply inappropriate tweet sent while a councillor required a string of profuse apologies.  Street ran a family IGA grocer in Blackmans Bay prior to his parliamentary career and is a lifelong resident of Kingston (entirely within) and Blackmans Bay (mostly within) the electorate. 

Robert Manning (candidacy announcement) is a senior associate at Hobart law firm Murdoch Clarke.  Manning specialises (firm page) in "wills, trusts, powers of attorney, estate planning and domestic and commercial conveyancing" and has said that his legal skills would be valuable to the Legislative Council as the departure of Wilkinson means it no longer has a lawyer on board.  Manning is also President of Diabetes Tasmania and on the board of Diabetes Australia.

Manning has stated he is "passionate about fundamental liberties and reflecting community values" - we will have to see how his campaign develops to see if this refers to any particular issues.  He has also said he is a moderate and concerned about the tribalism of party politics and to preserve the independence of the Upper House.  Manning has lived in Nelson for most of his life.

Unconfirmed Candidates

Labor, which is defending Pembroke and contesting Montgomery, is believed not to be contesting Nelson.

Other independent candidates may emerge.


Some issues that have featured or may feature in the campaign are as follows.  Whether they are all actually issues that will affect people's voting intentions to the slightest degree is another matter, but they are subjects candidates could make noise about:

* Traffic congestion and transport:  While announcements surrounding the City Deal as concerns the Kingston CBD and bus interchange may take some heat out of this, traffic congestion has been a major problem around Hobart in recent years.  You can see Brownless, Griggs and Ogilvie on the issue on Win TV here.  Ogilvie also had a large op ed in the Mercury proposing tunnels.

* Poker machines: Labor's apparent abandonment (6:45 onwards) of its 2018 election policy has vacated the field on this issue to the Greens and independents, but Labor doesn't have a candidate (so far) anyway.  The government will have to pass whatever it chooses to do with poker machine licenses through the Legislative Council, probably sometime later this year, so the new member will have a big influence on the issue.

* kunanyi/Mt Wellington cable car: While this doesn't appear to be still a state legislation issue (being in the hands of Hobart City Council to assess once an application is assessed) it is likely to be topical through the election period anyway.  The proposed cable car, of which the Government has been generally supportive, is likely to be disliked in Dynnyrne in the far north of the electorate, but probably plays much better in Kingborough.  The greener candidates in the field are all likely to oppose the proposal.  Currently the company appears to be about to commence drilling works to assist with a long-awaited development application.

* Electoral reform: While many of the complaints can be put down to sore loser syndrome from an opposition that failed to strike when the iron was hot, the 2018 lower house election did highlight the lack of regulations on donation disclosure and third-party campaign spending in the state.  The new MLC is likely to have to consider legislation on these issues but may also eventually have to consider opening up Legislative Council elections to more spending and freer third-party participation following the Unions NSW decision.  Prominent pokies opponent Pat Caplice has tweeted that "an abundance" of Nelson candidates turned out at a rally for the "Tasmanian Election Inquiry".

* Anti-protest laws: After the Hodgman Government's first attempt to bring in anti-protest laws to target obstructive green activists was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court, there's been a sequel, but it's been panned by Utas constitutional lawyer Brendan Gogarty.  Griggs has criticised the laws, suggesting they could unwittingly criminalise "an extraordinarily wide range of actions".

* Water quality: The southern half of Blackmans Bay Beach (technically outside the electorate, just) has been closed on and off to swimming in recent months because of contaminated water.  While this sounds more like a local council issue, it is common for these kinds of issues to surface in LegCo campaigns, which often have a "parish pump" feel, albeit less so than they used to.  This issue was the subject of some comments by Griggs to which TasWater responded; others are likely to weigh in if they haven't already.


Campaigning incidents, issues and colour will be noted here. Impressions of strength and activity of campaigns will also appear over time.

Many candidates are active early and have been seen doorknocking, probably aiming to get a jump in before the federal election takes over the news cycle, and also given that there is so much competition in this high-profile field.

Mercury columnist Greg Barns criticised Ogilvie on Twitter for failing to change her Twitter handle from @OgilvieMP, despite not being a current MP.  Within half an hour of Barns making this criticism for the third time (following two previous such comments several days earlier) Ogilvie's account disappeared, but it has since resurfaced.


While it may seem that the Liberal Party is on a hiding to nothing here with the loss of Wilkinson, (unless Street can win) in practice Wilkinson had not voted except to break ties while they were in office. So if someone even vaguely conservative wins this, the government will be relieved.   Indeed it's rumoured that one of the northern left-wing independents is likely to take the Presidency following the election, so if that's true, the best the broad left can effectively do here is break even, in a seat the left has never won.


As a vacant seat that offers something for everyone politically, Nelson was always likely to attract a big field, and might yet attract one of the largest fields ever (the record is held by Huon in 1986 with 15, followed by Queenborough (1968 and 1983), Mersey (1990) and Prosser (2018) all with 13.) 

While the obvious winner profile would be that of another Wilkinson (a slightly conservative high-profile independent with strong links to the electorate), at the time of writing no-one running for the seat ticks all the boxes, so the seat seems very open and difficult to predict.

At Legislative Council elections since coming to government, the Liberals have tended to hold just over half their state vote.  If that holds up, Street could poll in the mid-20s.  That might prove a little optimistic given the size of the field, but I will still be surprised if the Liberals do not lead on primaries (absent of any late entry by an unexpected major challenger). However, who will make the final two is very hard to say.  The Liberals will be aiming to get a huge primary vote lead to avoid being run down on preferences.

In adjacent Huon, Peter Hodgman (Liberal) led Robert Armstrong by 5.7% in 2014 but lost by 13.7%, with preferences splitting 59-25 to Armstrong and the rest exhausting.  There is as yet no Robert Armstrong in this field but the seat is similar in terms of having a high Green vote, and there could be a lot of voters voting all the way to put the Liberals last.  Anything less than a double-digit lead could well be blown away if the final two are Street and Brownless, and Street could also need a big jump if Ogilvie is his final opponent.  However, enough polarisation and pooling of preferences between the many left-wing candidates might see one make the final two from a modest primary of 10% or so. This is probably the Liberals' preferred scenario, but they will need to find better tactics than the ageist attack on their main opponent in Pembroke in 2017.

If the Liberals fail to make the final two, which is possible, their preferences should hand it to the most moderate candidate who does.

The election will be the sternest possible test for the Greens, coming off a lacklustre state result and with all of Griggs, Bayley and Webb likely to abscond with their votes.  Brewer is a well-credentialled candidate but the independent left candidates are high profile so for the Greens to hold even half their 2013 primary vote would be impressive.  Greens are very prone to having their party vote gouged by even vaguely likeminded independents and in this field there are two very likeminded ones in Griggs and Bayley.  The normal Labor vote may scatter between Ogilvie, Webb, Farmer and Brownless or it may concentrate with Ogilvie to some degree based on her profile as a recent MP.

The large size of the field is likely to lead to some degree of vote exhaustion.  As I start this article, this looks likely to disadvantage candidates with left-wing appeal, because there are many of them.   There will be a lot of preferences pooling between the left-leaning candidates, but if any one of them is to win, that person will probably still need at least a double-figures primary vote in their own right.

The federal election will overshadow the contest to a high degree, but may also provide opportunities for candidates to highlight federal issues.  It may also make life more difficult for the Liberal campaign, as federal politics could be a drag on the Liberal vote.

I may say more about how I see it after nominations are announced on April 12.

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