Archive for January, 2013

Seat of the day: #1 – Greenway

Greenway is the third-most marginal Labor seat in the country. The seat covers eastern parts of the City of Blacktown in northwestern Sydney. The seat is currently held by Michelle Rowland.

The previous member, Louise Markus, moved to the seat of Macquarie in 2010 after a redistribution transferred the Hawkesbury out of Greenway.

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Federal election: September 14

This afternoon, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the next federal election will be held on Saturday, 14 September.

Past practice in Australia is for the date of the election to be announced five or possibly six weeks out from the election – not more than seven months.

I’m not sure if this is beneficial to the ALP’s campaign to win back government but it’s certainly a positive step forward for the quality of political coverage. It brings to an end the mindless speculation about possible election dates before it had gotten underway.

It is unprecedented in federal politics but of course is now common experience in state politics. Every Australian state except Queensland now has locked in fixed term elections, meaning that voters, the media and poltiicians know in advance when the election will be held and can plan for that. It also eradicates the advantage governments have in calling an election at a time they think works for them.

There is one recent precedent for a Prime Minister announcing a non-fixed election date well in advance. In 2011, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced the date of the 26 November 2011 election in February, to avoid clashes with the Rugby World Cup.

The next step is to legislate for fixed-term elections for federal elections. Considering that every election from 1998 to 2013 will have been held between August and November, it probably makes sense to look at locking in future elections to be held in October or November.

This could be done simply by amending the Electoral Act, which already imposes restrictions on timeframes for calling elections. While a government could change this legislation, they would need to achieve a parliamentary majority to pass the legislation and couldn’t make the change on a whim.

One further step, however, may require a change to the Constitution. Constitutionally, Senators take office on 1 July, which means that elections timed for the second half of the year (as in the case of the last six elections) result in Senators-elect waiting on the sidelines for over six months while outgoing Senators continue to vote on legislation and hold their seats.

The original Constitution set the date for change of office to 1 January, and if we are to lock in recent history and hold all future elections in the latter months of the year, it’s worth considering reversing that constitutional change, passed in 1906.

The timing of the date makes a lot of sense. The last Australian federal election was extremely early and narrowed the window significantly. There was a need for the election to be held slightly later in the year to open up next year’s window and narrow the ridiculous ten-month gap between the last election and the date on which Senators took their seats.

If you’re interested in reading more about the election, the first twenty seat profiles for the Tally Room‘s guide to the federal election are now online and can be accessed from the right-hand column of this website.

You can also view the electoral pendulum, and a list of seats by state and in alphabetical order. I am currently working on my guide to the Western Australian election on 9 March, after which I will return to the federal election guide.

A new year: 2013 election guide

After extensive work, the first stage of the Tally Room‘s guide to the 2013 Australian federal election has now been posted.

The first twenty seat guides have now been posted. These twenty seats all have margins of 3.2% or less, including eleven of the twelve most marginal seats.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring some of these twenty seats on the blog, Facebook and Twitter, while I focus on preparing the guide to the Western Australian state election in March.

After March I’ll return to the guide and complete the remainder of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

You can comment on each page, if you have any tips about the local campaign, candidate announcements, or thoughts about what is likely to happen.

You can click on individual seats in the box on the right-hand side, or navigate to the pages at any of the three links below:

NSW – drawing a new map

I have an article in New Matilda today about the upcoming NSW state redistribution and I wanted to post some additional information here at the Tally Room.

The NSWEC has posted the enrolment data for December 2012 on the redistribution website. The following table breaks the enrolment data down by region, giving a sense of how much each region is above or below quota.

Region No. of seats Quotas
Central Sydney 10 10.44
Northern Sydney 11 10.85
Southern Sydney 6 5.86
South-West Sydney 10 10.09
Western Sydney 15 15.25
Sydney total 52 52.47
Far North Coast 4 3.96
Hunter & Central Coast 14 14.03
Mid North Coast 3 2.98
South-East NSW 9 8.90
Western NSW 11 10.66
Regional NSW total 41 40.53

Overall there are large over quotas in Western Sydney and Central Sydney. The over quota in Western Sydney (largely due to a massive over quota in Riverstone) will partly be used to bring the seats in Northern Sydney up to quota, while the surplus in the centre of Sydney will need to be shifted through South-West Sydney to make up for the shortfall in Western NSW.

Western NSW is 34% below its eleventh quota, and this will likely see Barwon and Murray-Darling take on territory from their neighbours and pretty major changes around Burrinjuck and Goulburn.

Most seats will change in minor ways, but the major changes will likely take place along a chain from Sydney to Burrinjuck.

The following maps show (in red) which seats are likely to have major changes as a chain reaction. As an example, Canterbury and Strathfield are likely to gain quite a lot of extra territory to absorb the excess quota in Marrickville, Balmain, Sydney and Heffron. This would result in even more territory having to be transferred to the next group of seats.

In terms of individual seats, Antony Green produced a map a few months ago showing which seats are above or below the quota.

The first round of submissions will close in early March, and I’ll return to the issue then.