Archive for October, 2009


Pat Farmer rolled by Matheson in Macarthur

Former Mayor of Campbelltown Russell Matheson has defeated sitting Liberal MP Pat Farmer in preselection for the seat of Macarthur. Farmer has become the first federal Liberal MP to be defeated for preselection in five years, since Malcolm Turnbull defeated Peter King for Wentworth before the 2004 election.

Matheson defeated Farmer by a margin of 22-9, which was a surprise to none. Farmer has become increasingly unpopular since the 2007 election, when he suffered a 10% swing against him, barely held on, and then proceeded to attack Macarthur voters and move his family to Mosman.

You’d have to think Matheson will struggle to hold on to the seat. While Farmer’s popularity has taken a hit through his antics and his closeness to the Howard government, Macarthur was one of the only seats in 2007 where the ALP polled higher in the Senate than in the House of Representatives he would still have his own personal vote. Considering that his party has turned on him and turfed him out, you would have to think Matheson will miss that substantial personal vote that can be exploited by the ALP.


Profiles of key Adelaide seats

I’m still slowly making my way through writing my guide to the federal election. I have now finished 13 House of Representatives seat guides, with the latest being the four most marginal seats in Adelaide: Boothby, Hindmarsh, Kingston and Sturt.

Now that redistributions have concluded in New South Wales and Queensland, I will start working from the top of the pendulum, starting with supermarginal Bowman, in order to ensure that marginal seats are finished in case an early election is called. It’s quite time-consuming to write these guides so I’m prioritising the more interesting seats. So keep an eye out on the pendulum page for new guides to be posted.


Tasmanian council results

Local government election results have now been posted on the website of the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, showing primary vote figures from election night. I don’t know about most of the races, but a few key points of interest:

  • Mayor of Hobart Rob Valentine has been reelected with over 80% of the vote.
  • Greens councillor Helen Burnet was 80 votes ahead on the election night preference count for Deputy Mayor of Hobart. Burnet polled 41% of the primary vote to 38% for Peter Sexton, and she polled 50.22% after preferences. I don’t know if that is the final result.
  • The four Greens council candidates collectively polled 1.67 quotas in Hobart, with 1.37 quotas received by Burnet herself.
  • In Burnie, incumbent mayor Alvwyn Boyd has survived a challenge from Steve Kons of the ALP, with Boyd polled 51.26% after preferences.
  • In Dorset, incumbent mayor Peter Partridge only managed 13% of the primary vote, with Barry Jarvis polling almost 57%.

Post any other interesting results you have seen in the comments thread below.

Update: The Greens haven’t made any major gains in terms of council representation, although the election of Helen Burnet as Deputy Mayor of Hobart is an achievement for the party. Five incumbent councillors elected in 2005 were up for election: in Clarence, Hobart, Huon Valley, Kingborough and Southern Midlands. Four of these seats have been retained, whilst the Greens have lost their seat on Southern Midlands council. So far the party has won no extra seats, but is in with a good chance of electing a second Green on Hobart council and outside chances of a second councillor in Kingborough and a councillor in Launceston. The Greens polled much less in Launceston than in 2007, despite narrowly missing out on the Deputy Mayoralty. If the Greens win a second seat in Hobart it will give them a total of 4 seats and the Deputy Mayoralty, which puts them in a strong overall position on that council. As it currently stands, the party should win 11-14 seats, compared to 12 since the 2007 elections.


Northern Ireland maps finished

I have today finished electoral maps for Northern Ireland. I have completed boundaries for the period 1997-2007 and the new boundaries for the 2010 general election. Northern Ireland uses the same 18 constituencies for both Westminster elections and Legislative Assembly elections. When electing the Legislative Assembly, each constituency elects six MLAs for a total of 108.

I have completed two sets of maps. The first set of maps covers the 1997, 2001 and 2005 general elections and all three elections for the Legislative Assembly in 1998, 2003 and 2007. The new boundaries will be used at the next UK and Northern Irish elections, due in 2010 and 2011 respectively. These maps posted below show how much Northern Irish politics has changed since 1997, with the first map showing the results of the 1997 election, while the second map shows the notional 2005 results using the 2010 boundaries. It shows how the Democratic Unionist Party (dark orange) and Sinn Fein (dark green) have come to dominate Northern Irish politics at the expense of the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party.

Results of the 1997 general election in Northern Ireland. Parties shown are the Ulster Unionist Party (blue), Social Democratic and Labour Party (light green), Democratic Unionist Party (orange), Sinn Fein (dark green) and the UK Unionist Party (purple)

Results of the 1997 general election in Northern Ireland. Parties shown are the Ulster Unionist Party (blue), Social Democratic and Labour Party (light green), Democratic Unionist Party (orange), Sinn Fein (dark green) and the UK Unionist Party (purple)

Results of the 1997 general election in Northern Ireland. Parties shown are the Democratic Unionist Party (orange), Sinn Fein (dark green), Social Democratic and Labour Party (light green) and the Ulster Unionist Party (blue)

Notional results of the 2005 general election in Northern Ireland using redistributed boundaries. Parties shown are the Democratic Unionist Party (orange), Sinn Fein (dark green), Social Democratic and Labour Party (light green) and the Ulster Unionist Party (blue)

Most boundary changes have been relatively minor, with all eighteen constituencies keeping their existing names and no seats changing hands on a notional basis following the redistribution.

From 1997 until 2005 there was a complete reversal in Northern Ireland political fortunes. In 1997 unionists won 13 seats while nationalists won 5 seats, and the UUP won ten seats all in their own right. Sinn Fein and the DUP each held only two seats while one seat was held by the anti-home rule UK Unionist Party, who won a seat in the 1996 North Down by-election and retained it in 1997. In 2001, following the Good Friday accord and the establishment of the Legislative Assembly, the UUP won back North Down but lost five other seats: three to the DUP and two to Sinn Fein. The UUP remained the largest party with six seats, but were closely followed by the DUP, who held five seats.

In 2005, the UUP was almost wiped out, losing five of its remaining seats. They lost four seats on the outskirts of Belfast to the DUP. In a shock result, the SDLP won Belfast South, despite unionist parties winning a majority of the vote, due to an unexpectedly high DUP vote lowering the UUP’s vote. Sinn Fein also won a fifth seat off the SDLP.

You can download both the 1997-2007 and 2010-2011 maps from the maps page and from right here. As a policy, I colour in maps with the most recent election results, but you can download the 1997 maps and change colours to see the changes over the last decade.


Final boundaries determined for next federal election

The AEC yesterday released the final electoral boundaries for New South Wales for the next federal election. While they are planning to commence a Victorian redistribution early in 2010, it won’t be done in time for the election, meaning that all seats in Australia have now had their final boundaries determined. I have now completed the new electoral boundaries for all states, although I plan to make some minor changes to the WA map which most people would not notice. You can download the 2010 New South Wales map here, and all maps can be downloaded from the maps page.

MDMConnell in comments summarised the changes:

A few fairly minor nips and tucks to several seats, but no radical re-invention.

* Exchange of Forbes/Parkes for Wellington/Midwestern between Parkes and Calare (Nat objection- assume it benefits them in Calare).

* Re-uniting a few thousand electors in some rural shires (Tenterfield, Gwydir, Lachlan, Central Darling)

* Very minor touch ups to a handful of rural and urban seats.

* Most significant change is the proposed ‘McMahon’ being re-named ‘Reid’, with the existing division of Prospect being given the new name of ‘McMahon’.

Antony Green has also posted a completed pendulum, and I will complete the pendulum on the 2010 federal election guide when I get a chance. Finally, I’ve posted below an image of the electorates for the next federal election:


Click to enlarge.


Hazem El Masri to run for the Liberals?

The Daily Telegraph this morning reports a story that the NSW Liberal Party have approached recently-retired rugby league player Hazem El Masri as a candidate for the state seat of Lakemba at the 2011 state election.

It’s a fascinating story indicating how ambitious the NSW Liberal Party has become. El Mazri is a popular figure in the Lakemba area, as a former Bulldogs player, and if elected would be the first Muslim MP in the NSW Parliament, and possibly in all of Australia. Update: Nathan Lambert in comments points out that “Adem Somyurek in Victoria is a Labor MLC and an Australian Muslim.” Rockdale councillor Shaoquett Moselmane has regularly been considered next in line to take a Labor seat in Parliament, but has been repeatedly pushed aside for more prominent figures.

Of course, we have no idea has El Masri would perform as a campaigner in an election environment, but it’s safe to assume that he would grab attention like no other Liberal candidate in that part of Sydney and massively increase the Liberal Party’s presence in inner south-western Sydney. Lakemba is one of the most Muslim seats in the state. The 2003 seat boundaries were used for the 2006 census, which showed just over 15% of the population are Muslim, as well as a large number of Eastern Orthodox residents.

On the other hand, it’s worth recognising the scale of the task for El Masri to win the seat. Lakemba is not any old safe Labor seat, it is incredibly safe. At the 2007 election, the ALP polled almost 84% on two-party-preferred terms. Even after a large swing away from them at the 2008 Lakemba by-election following Morris Iemma’s resignation, the ALP still managed to outpoll the Liberal Party by more than two-to-one.

While you would expect El Masri to poll quite well, he would need a 20.5% swing as well as keep hold of the 14% swing to the Liberal Party gained in last year’s by-election.

On reflection, you would have to say that El Masri would probably not be able to win the seat, although it may be impossible to judge what could happen if the Labor Party continues to be as dysfunctional as they are now come March 2011. Rather than the Liberals trying to use El Masri to gain an extra seat in Parliament, it seems more likely that the party is using El Masri to open up another front on the ALP and force them to focus their limited resources on a heartland seat like Lakemba.


Matheson challenges Farmer in Macarthur

Former Campbelltown mayor Russell Matheson has begun a preselection challenge against Pat Farmer, Liberal member for Macarthur, nominating for the party’s preselection, which will take place in the next few weeks.

Matheson has been a Campbelltown councillor since 1991, and in that time has served numerous terms as Mayor, generally through a power-sharing alliance with the Labor Party.

The ALP generally wins a large number of seats on Campbelltown council, but usually short of a majority. In recent times they have kept a lock on the Campbelltown mayoralty by forming an alliance with a small number of independents, including Matheson since at least the 1999 election.

Matheson’s ticket won a second seat on Council at the 2004 election, with Paul Lake joining him on the council. After the 2004 and 2008 elections Matheson struck a deal to share the mayoralty with the ALP with each party having the mayoralty for two years. Matheson was most recently Mayor in 2008-9.

First of all, I think it is very unlikely that Farmer will beat off Matheson for preselection. The local party in the area has little fondness for Farmer. Charlie Lynn MLC basically runs the local Liberal Party in Macarthur, and he has openly stated that Farmer would not regain preselection in 2010. Farmer’s move to Mosman in late 2007 additionally put him offside with a lot of locals.

Assuming Matheson wins preselection with the support of Lynn and his ally Campbelltown councillor Jai Rowell, he’s going to face an almighty challenge to hold onto the seat for the Liberal Party. The redistribution has made the seat notionally Labor, and current trends would suggest a swing towards the ALP can be expected.

In addition, while Farmer’s popularity has declined, there is surely a sizeable proportion of the electorate who continue to vote for him personally as a likeable local celebrity seemingly above day-to-day politics. While they may be willing to consider a new Liberal candidate, if Farmer is pushed out in a preselection coup, Matheson will suffer from that.

There also seems to be an assumption that Matheson’s status as former Campbelltown mayor will be of benefit to his federal candidacy, but the evidence doesn’t bear that out.

Matheson’s ticket only polled 10.6% at the last Campbelltown Council election. He polled highest in Raby (my own suburb) with 26.5%, with the next two best booths in nearby Eschol Park and Eagle Vale. None of these booths are in Macarthur on either 2007 or draft 2010 boundaries. On the other hand, the worst booths for Matheson are also in Werriwa, while his more average booths lie in Macarthur, so overall he polled about the same in Macarthur and Werriwa (10.8% in Macarthur, 10.6% in Werriwa). Campbelltown City is evenly divided between the two federal electorates.

So while Matheson has his own constituency, it has never been particularly large and his most loyal supporters are outside the electorate. It seems likely that Matheson will struggle to match the personal profile of Pat Farmer and will have little impact on the likely swing to the ALP which should give them the seat, even if Matheson’s profile is much higher than a Labor candidate such as Nick Bleasdale.

Update: Matheson insists he will remain an independent councillor before admitting that he will be closely aligned to the three Liberals. I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. It seems very likely this is a ploy by Liberal council leader Jai Rowell to gain a fourth vote on council by giving away a poisoned-chalice preselection.


New Queensland federal boundaries finalised

Last Friday the AEC released the final Queensland electoral boundaries for the next federal election. These boundaries include a small number of changes from the draft boundaries, and Antony Green has posted updated notional margins for each seat based on the 2007 election results. You can download the new boundaries as a Google Earth map here. I will also update the pendulum on the federal election guide tonight to include Queensland electorates.


Click to enlarge and see seat names


CDP only running eleven candidates in Bradfield

Because twelve would be silly.

This week’s North Shore Times reports that Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party plan to nominate multiple candidates in the Bradfield by-election. Why? Well, why not? Apparently they have already chosen two candidates and could choose as many as nine more:

Campaign manager Michael Darby said the party would run multiple candidates, with the maximum of 11 being chosen because it was “the number of loyal disciples”

“We don’t want a Judas,” he said.

It’s an ingenious strategy. If one CDP candidate can poll 4%, imagine how much eleven candidates can poll.

Meanwhile, One Nation aren’t falling for the mainstream media bait. It might be typical for candidates to be announced to allow them to get media attention and campaign, but One Nation are smarter than that. They don’t want the media to ‘crucify’ their candidate, so they aren’t telling anyone who their candidate is. Genius.

Article over the fold.

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Higgins by-election guide posted

Primary vote for the Greens, 2007 election, by booth. Below-median booths are coloured yellow.

I’ve just posted my guide to the upcoming Higgins by-election, including booth maps. Go comment.