I’ll be writing a number of posts today about the result’s of yesterday’s NSW state election, covering the seats in doubt, the race in the Legislative Council, and the scale of the defeat for Labor.
As far as general trends are concerned, some things are clear.
Firstly, Labor was absolutely crushed statewide, as was predicted. For much of the last few months, the worst case scenario saw them fall below 20 seats and be wiped out everywhere except the central part of Sydney. That is exactly what has happened.
Labor has retracted to a core between Mount Druitt, Macquarie Fields, Kogarah and Auburn, with the exception of two seats in the east of Sydney, two in the Hunter and two in Wollongong.
In some areas, local trends appear to have protected strong local members. In Macquarie Fields, local Labor MP Andrew McDonald, generally renowned as a good local member, survived with a much smaller swing of under 10%, while in neighbouring Campbelltown, Labor lost the seat with a swing of over 20%.
The result was nothing to write home about. It certainly wasn’t a disaster. The Greens vote went up and currently they are the frontrunner in the race for the last seat in the Legislative Council, which would give them an extra MLC. They cracked 10% for the first time in both houses.
Yet the Greens didn’t get the large result they were looking at getting in polling before the last few weeks. Marrickville looks like staying in Labor hands, and Balmain is too close to call. There were local factors in these seats, particularly the impact of the Israeli boycott on the debate in Marrickville. Overall, however, there still wasn’t a great swing to the Greens. It does seem a bit rich, however, for any Labor supporters to be gloating about there being no huge swing to the Greens when the ALP has suffered their worst defeat in a century and the Greens have polled a record vote.
For independents, too, the result wasn’t great. Three independents lost to the Nationals, while three others retained their seats. While independent Gordon Bradbery is leading in Wollongong, all the other prospective independent challengers fell by the wayside. Independents running in Newcastle, Charlestown, Swansea and Blue Mountains were all tipped to win their seats, yet none of them came in the top two. Independents came second in Clarence, Upper Hunter and Wagga Wagga, but part of this is due to the complete collapse of the Labor vote.
Overall, the number of independents coming in the top two declined. Last time, there was 11 Coalition-independent races and six Labor-independent races. While there are still 11 races with the Coalition, there is only one race between Labor and independent, in Wollongong. This is partly due to the ALP falling into third place in seats like Lake Macquarie and Sydney, where the Liberals came second to strong independents.
The number of seats where the Greens came second increased substantially. While the number of Labor-Greens has fallen from two to one, the number of Coalition-Greens contests increased from two (North Shore and Vaucluse) to between 11 and 13.
This is mainly driven by the complete collapse of the Labor vote on the north shore. The Greens came second to the Liberal Party in all seats to the east of Lane Cove and Ku-ring-gai. This also happened in the far north coast of seats of Lismore and Ballina. The Greens may also come second in Oxley to the Nationals, and the Greens are currently competing with Labor for second place in Balmain.
Why the middling performance for independents and Greens? I think the main reason is that the campaign was completely dominated by the Coalition’s defeat of Labor. Voters were desperate to remove the Labor government, and for most the Coalition was the most clearcut way of getting rid of Labor.
Standing on a polling booth I was asked a number of times where the Greens were preferencing. Understanding of preferences is limited, and years of Labor-Greens preference deals and the agreement on a federal level does create an image of Labor and the Greens being in alliance. The bitter fighting between the parties and the lack of preference deals in this election doesn’t undo all that. I believe many voters didn’t vote Green because they thought it help Labor get re-elected.
In the end the Coalition’s campaign was just too strong, and swept away everything in its path, whether it was independents in the Hunter, the Greens in Balmain, or Labor in Western Sydney.
Finally, here are some maps.