NSW 2019 – election day

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Polls have just opened across New South Wales. This post is just a placeholder and open thread to post comments during the day. I may post a few updates here if there are developments.

The final Newspoll was released last night, with the Coalition on 51% of the two-party-preferred vote, up one point on the previous poll. The poll suggests a drop in the Coalition primary since 2015 from 46% to 41%, but only a 1% increase in the Labor primary. Interestingly the poll has the Coalition winning 52-48 in Sydney but tied 50-50 in the rest of NSW, which translates to a bigger swing in regional areas, as predicted.

I’ll see everyone at 6pm tonight.

2pm – I voted this morning at Rosehill Public School in the seat of Parramatta. No democracy sausage there. I noticed when I looked at the Democracy Sausage website map that you can see what some have described as the ‘latte line‘ dividing Sydney from north-west to south-east (also known as the Red Rooster line) – there are a lot more booths registering food stalls across northern Sydney, the inner west and the eastern suburbs compared to the western suburbs.

NSW 2019 – what would a hung parliament be like?

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You can treat this as an opportunity to post your last-minute election predictions.

There’s a growing consensus that the most likely outcome in tomorrow’s election is a hung parliament. That’s certainly the opinion of the bookmakers.

But what would that hung parliament look like? The hung parliament’s results could vary wildly depending on tomorrow’s results.

NSW 2019 – will we see “Just Vote 1” on Saturday?

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New South Wales elections are different to the rest of Australia. In all other federal and state lower house elections featuring single-member electorates, we use compulsory preferential voting (CPV) – you need to number every box for your vote to count.

For NSW state elections, we use optional preferential voting (OPV). You can number multiple boxes if you wish, but a ‘1’ is sufficient.

Preferences matter under both systems, but they operate differently. In New South Wales, voters have the option to opt out of the preferencing game, which means that minor party votes can have less of an impact on the result – if those voters choose to opt out.

There is a long history of parties encouraging “just vote 1” tactics, but the purpose is often not to encourage their own voters to exhaust, but to promote the tactics to other voters who might otherwise preference against them.

In this post I will run through the history of this campaigning and how it might play out in NSW.

Podcast #20 – final week of the NSW election

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Ben was joined by social researcher Rebecca Huntley and the Poll Bludger’s William Bowe to talk about the key issues of the state election and the seats which will decide the result.

Thanks to 2SER radio in Sydney for the use of their studio.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

NSW 2019 – the race in the Hunter and the Central Coast

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The Hunter and the Central Coast is a region mostly dominated by Labor, who recovered most of their ground in 2015 after a disastrous election in 2011.

At the 2011 state election, the Liberal Party won all four seats on the Central Coast as well as the typical Labor seats of Swansea, Charlestown, Newcastle and Maitland.

Labor won back two seats in the Hunter at by-elections in 2014, and then won those other seats listed above plus three out of four Central Coast seats at the 2015 election. They also recovered Port Stephens, which had flipped in 2007.

This doesn’t leave much for the Coalition in this region. Out of thirteen seats in the region, ten are held by Labor, along with one for the Nationals, one for the Liberal Party and one held by an independent.

I’ve identified six seats worth paying attention to, which I’ll run through below the fold.

NSW 2019 – final how-to-votes released

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We received a flood of new information about the state election yesterday morning at 8am, when the NSW Electoral Commission published every piece of electoral material registered to be used on election day (mostly how-to-votes).

It’s taken quite some time to open all of the relevant how-to-votes and assemble a dataset (which I will share) which can be used to make broader statements about how parties are preferencing.

Many of these preference decisions align with what I said last week, but there are some surprises.

Here is the spreadsheet I produced when I was making this analysis, showing the main preference decisions for the bigger parties in each seat, plus Labor upper house preferences.

NSW 2019 – the race in eastern Sydney

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Today I’m focusing on a block of 29 seats in the eastern half of Sydney. This area doesn’t really identify as “eastern Sydney” but could be defined as a number of smaller regions: the inner west, eastern suburbs, north shore, northern beaches, St George district and the Sutherland Shire.

If you look across the whole of Sydney, there are three bands of electorates: Liberal seats along northern Sydney from Manly to the Hills district and Hawkesbury (let’s include Vaucluse as an honorary north shore electorate), Labor seats from Maroubra to Londonderry, and Liberal seats on the southern end of the city, in the Sutherland Shire, on the Georges River, and the south-western fringe of the city.

All but one marginal seat in the city lies on the edge of one of these bands. The only exception is Heathcote, which borders a block of Labor seats in the Illawarra region.

In the eastern half of Sydney, seats of interest tend to be most concentrated close to the city in the inner west and eastern suburbs. There are no seats of interest on the north shore, and then there is also Oatley in the St George district and Heathcote at the southern end of the Sutherland Shire.

Half of these seats of interest are non-classic electorates held by Greens or independents.

I’ll run through these seats one by one below the fold:

How many numbers is too many?

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I wrote yesterday about the Queensland government’s slate of reforms to Queensland local government elections, most of which I think are excellent. I focused on the shift to proportional representation for undivided councils (which is mostly synonymous with small regional councils).

I would love for the government to go for PR for Brisbane City and other big councils, but recognise that’s a much bigger step which affects much more powerful forces and also would require a redrawing of ward maps. Another fight for another day.

But there is one proposed change that would be completely unworkable and set proportional representation up for failure: compulsory preferential voting (CPV).

Compulsory preferential voting means that voters must number every box (or close to it) for their vote to be formal. In the interests of encouraging voters to “make their vote count”, we punish them with complete informality if they don’t comply.

The Queensland government’s report justified many of its reforms on the basis of aligning local elections processes with state and federal equivalents. While it is true that CPV is used for single-member elections in Queensland and federally, there is nowhere in Australia which uses full CPV with a proportional representation system in Australia.

We used full CPV for the Senate from the introduction of proportional representation in 1949 until the Senate reforms in early 2016. From 1949 until 1983, voters did not have any option to vote ‘above the line’, so had to number every box correctly for their vote to count. As the number of candidates increased, the informal rate continued to climb. Eventually the problem was solved by allowing voters to outsource their preferencing to their party of choice using group voting tickets. This post from Antony Green shows the informal rate in the Senate before 1984.

Help back in proportional representation for QLD councils

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The Queensland government has recently announced plans to introduce proportional representation to some council elections as part of a broad set of reforms. This proposal is a significant improvement to the local electoral system, but is facing a fierce backlash from self-interested groups, in particular the Local Government Association of Queensland. I’ll run through the reforms and explain why this particular change is so important.

These reforms strengthen integrity rules, introduce caps on expenditure, strengthen disclosure rules, and align a bunch of election laws to match state election laws. Most of these seem good, but I want to focus on one in particular. I’ll run through all of these reforms at the end of this post.

Most local councils in Queensland are undivided, meaning all councillors are elected to represent the entire council area. I say “most councils”, but this does not mean “most voters”. 22 out of 78 councils use local wards, but these councils cover 83% of the state’s population. This includes almost every council in South-East Queensland and most major regional centres. The only big towns which don’t use wards are Toowoomba, Mackay, Gladstone and Noosa. This map shows which councils are divided or undivided.

The rest of this post simply deals with the undivided councils. Every divided council in Queensland uses single-member electorates. These electorates will be shifting from using optional preferential voting to compulsory preferential voting, to use the same method as elections to the Queensland Legislative Assembly and the House of Representatives. In an ideal world these councils would also use proportional representation, but that’s an issue to discuss another day.

The existing system for undivided councils is first-past-the-post. This is bad enough when used for single-member electorates but it gets even worse when electing a large number of councillors. Say you are electing eight councillors. Voters get to vote for eight candidates on the ballot. You count up these votes, rank them and then elect the first eight. No preference flows. It’s possible (and indeed very likely) that a large proportion of the electorate will not contribute to electing a candidate.

NSW 2019 – join the conversation

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One of the most fun parts of this website in the lead-up to an election is the comments on each seat guide. Every seat guide has its own comment section where you can discuss that electorate and what is going on.

I thought it would be interesting to identify which electorates have the most comments, which gives an insight into which seats are most of interest. A number of these seats are marginal, but it also includes some safe seats where a conversation was sparked for some reason. East Hills is miles ahead in the lead.

There are also eleven seats where there haven’t been any comments so far: Canterbury, Davidson, Fairfield, LakembaMacquarie Fields, Mount Druitt, Swansea, Sydney, The Entrance, Willoughby and Wyong.

Most of these are reasonably safe but there’s a couple of surprises on the list.