Fremantle 2009 Archive


Fremantle wrap

There has been a lot of commentary on the Greens’ victory in last weekend’s Fremantle by-election result. First of all, it is clearly a significant result for the Greens. It is the first time the Greens have come first on primary votes in a state or federal election, and the result is fundamentally different to the Greens’ win in Cunningham in 2002. While the Cunningham result was largely a fluke and depended on extremely strong preferences from voters who normally voted Labor, the Fremantle result appeared to have little to do with freak circumstances aligned with a by-election.

Even if there had been no by-election in Fremantle, the seat would have been a likely gain for the Greens at the next Western Australian state election. The Greens would have won the seat in 2008 if they had overtaken the Liberals, and they came close to doing so. There appears to be two memes being pushed by ALP spinners and anti-Green conservative commentators: that the by-election was a freak occurence, and that it was because Liberal voters sneakily voted for the left-winger to hurt Labor.

As I said above, the result is no freak occurence. The Greens were already on track to win Fremantle, and it is exactly the sort of area where the Greens are strong in general elections. Adele Carles is a strong candidate who has a good shot of holding on in the future. It’s also worth considering this result as part of a trend which has seen significant gains for the Greens at the WA and ACT elections in 2008, the Mayo by-election and local government elections in New South Wales and Victoria. Even the snap Northern Territory election saw strong results for the Greens. The Queensland state election was pretty much the only major election in the last 18 months to not see the Greens gain ground.

In the near future there are a number of opportunities for Greens to gain lower house seats in state Parliaments. Balmain and Marrickville look plum for the picking in March 2011, assuming no major shifts in NSW politics (Carmel Tebbutt becoming Premier may be the only thing that could save her seat). The state seats of Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick are all vulnerable in Victoria in late 2010, as is the federal seat of Melbourne.

I don’t think any other federal seats can fall at the next election, but Sydney could be vulnerable in 2013, and there are a whole tranche of seats that could fall if the Greens can raise their primary vote to 15-20%, such as Grayndler, Wentworth, Cunningham, Batman, Melbourne Ports, Denison, Fremantle, and, once Rudd retires, Griffith. If the ACT can get over the hump and regain a third seat, a central Canberra electorate would also be vulnerable.

If you look at the United Kingdom and Canada, you have third parties winning around 20% of the vote and winning a sizeable number of seats in their core areas. There’s no reason why, in a decade’s time, we could see the Greens holding 8-10 House of Representatives seats while comfortably electing a Senator in every state and the ACT at each election.

The other issue that has been raised is the idea that Liberal voters elected the Greens over the ALP, and somehow this makes it illegitimate. First of all, I don’t understand why it matters. If a majority of the electorate prefer the Greens to Labor, then that’s the whole ball game. Indeed, there is a problem in the preference system where a majority prefer Greens to Labor but end up with a Labor MP because the Greens fall just short of overtaking the Liberals.

But I don’t actually believe that is what happened. Considering Tagliaferri’s limited Labor credentials and conservative record, as well as the ALP’s terrible campaign effort which managed to alienate much of the union movement, I tend to think many Liberal voters would have switched to Tagliaferri, while Tagliaferri lost traditional ALP voters to the Greens. I tend to think that, if you were to simply disenfranchise all those who voted Liberal in 2008, the result would have been largely similar.

Elsewhere: other takes on the result at New Matilda, Inside Story, Alex Schlotzer and An Ononymous Lefty.


Fremantle By-election Live

8:45pm – There are currently 23 Greens MPs around the country. There were 24 Greens MPs from Ronan Lee’s defection to the Greens in late 2008 to his defeat in March 2009. There are three Greens waiting to take office in the WA Legislative Council after last year’s election, and they’ll take office next week (although one Green will lose his seat). Including all of these WA changes, there will be 26 Green MPs around the country.

8:42pm – This result is the highest primary vote the Greens have ever gotten in a state or federal electorate at a general election or by-election. The previous record was in the 2005 Marrickville by-election, when the Greens polled 38.96%. This is also the first time the Greens have polled over 40%. In contrast, the Greens polled 23% in the Cunningham by-election.

8:23pm – Okay, the WAEC has updated and things are back where we expected them to be, with Carles on 51.26%.

8:18pm – Hmm, the WAEC’s notional distribution of preferences has Tagliaferri just ahead of Carles, which doesn’t make much sense. Let’s see where this goes.

8:06pm – Antony Green just called Fremantle for the Greens, and I’m gonna do the same. This is over.

8:04pm – A number of booths have been added, bringing the total count up to 62.69%. Tagliaferri briefly took the lead on primary votes, but Adele Carles is now 7.5% ahead on primaries.

7:47pm – A strong Labor booth has just come in and Tagliaferri is leading Carles on the primary 42.7% to 41%. Still a projected win for The Greens.

7:33pm – “Independent Liberal” Carmelo Zagami is doing appallingly, sitting on 4%. There seems to be conventional wisdom that, when the Liberals don’t run, Liberal voters will seek out the hidden Liberal running amongst the random candidates. It reminds me of the 2005 Werriwa by-election, when the independent Liberal candidate was expected to get around 20%, but only got 8%. Most people don’t go beyond reading the how-to-votes and the party names on the ballot paper. When neither of those say “Liberal”, most Liberal voters won’t research enough to know  that you’re supposedly the party’s standard-bearer.

7:21pm – With almost a quarter of the vote in, Carles still leads over Tagliaferri by almost 4%, 44-40%. Remember, Tagliaferri needs to come first on primary votes to win.

7:16pm – We’ve now got almost 10% of vote in, and Carles is still above 46% of the primary vote with Tagliaferri just below 38%.

7:11pm – We now have prepolls in, and the Greens are leading with 46.8% of primary votes. This is very early.

7:07pm – The first handful of votes have come in. I assume they are from Rottnest Island, as there are only 88, and they overwhelmingly go for the Greens.

7:02pmWe’re yet to see any votes from Fremantle. It appears that they are counting the daylight savings first. Speaking of daylight savings, with 40% of the vote counted, the ‘no’ vote is sitting on just over 53%, and it appears that the referendum will be defeated. While I’ll try and cover both votes, the Poll Bludger is a Fremantle local and is covering the by-election. (Ben)

6:18pm – Your regular host at The Tally Room, Ben Raue, is currently in transit so I’ll be guiding you through the Fremantle By-election results until he gets back.

The election will be a Labor vs. Greens affair, with the Liberals deciding not to field in a candidate. Antony Green has recalculated the two-party preferred figures for each booth as a Labor vs. Green contest to allow for more accurate comparisons here. The WAEC will not be publishing two-party preferred figures for each booth, only the electorate as a whole, which makes it more difficult to analyse results. We’ve also got pre-poll and postal votes coming in so hopefully we’ll get a result tonight.

There’s 11 candidates in this election and it’s most likely going to come down to preferences so I’ll give a brief run down on who’s preferencing who.

Greens candidate Adele Carles will receive preferences directed to her from former Liberal candidate, now independent, Carmelo Zagami and independents Jan Ter Horst and Sam Wainwright, the latter of whom is affiliated with Socialist Alliance.

Labor candidate and current Mayor of Fremantle, Peter Tagliaferri will be picking up preferences from the rest of the candidates who include independent Nick Varga, Rob Totten from the Citizens Electoral Council and Andriette Du Plessis from Family First, amongst others. (Oz)


Super Saturday eve

Tomorrow is a big day for elections, and I thought it would be useful to lay out what we will be seeing tomorrow:

  • India’s election finished on Wednesday, and the results of the vote counting will be announced tomorrow. I don’t know how this information will roll out, but hopefully during the day we can report on individual state results and how it impacts on the national story. Exit polls released after voting concluded on Wednesday predict that neither major coalition will win a majority, forcing one of them to cooperate with left-wing and regional parties. These polls predict that the INC-led United Progressive Alliance will come out ahead of the opposition National Democratic Alliance, but the result will be determined by post-election negotiations.
  • Voters in Western Australia go to the polls to vote in a referendum on keeping daylight saving. This is the fourth attempt to implement daylight saving, after referendums in 1975, 1984 and 1992 were defeated by small margins. Polls close at 8pm AEST tomorrow night. Antony Green has created a guide, with past election results, on ABC Elections.
  • Voters in the state electorate of Fremantle will also elect a new member of the Legislative Assembly to succeed former Attorney-General Jim McGinty. The race is between Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri, running for the ALP, and Greens candidate Adele Carles. Most are picking a close result (as is traditional in these types of by-elections). Considering that Poll Bludger William Bowe is a local, I’ll defer to his wisdom.

World election news – April 7

We’ve got a bunch of global elections taking place over the next two months. I have posted an electoral calendar in the sidebar. These include elections in South Africa, India and Iceland, a parliamentary election in Indonesia, a referendum on Daylight Saving in Western Australia, and a state by-election for the seat of Fremantle in Western Australia. In order to cover the stories in all of these campaigns, I’m gonna start a regular post covering them all. I may go more indepth on each election.

  • Indonesia goes to the polls this Thursday to elect its national Parliament. Sitting president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party is leading in the polls on 27%, up from 7% at the 2004 election, which will make it easier for Yudhoyono to run on his own for President. Jakarta is three hours behind AEST, meaning that, if this story is correct, we should see most of the results come in on Thursday night. I’ll try and cover it on the night. The best story I have found to wrap up the state of the parties is this one in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Google has launched a fantastic website for the upcoming Indian election, including a brilliant Google Map (although I can’t find a way to download it into Google Earth). Have a play.
  • Fairfax’s WA Today has a great article from last week laying out the issues we have played out on the blog this week regarding the possible Liberal candidacy in the Fremantle by-election, as well as raising the issues Peter Tagliaferri may have in getting Labor preselection for the seat.
  • In South Africa, ANC party president and presidential candidate Jacob Zuma has dodged the latest criminal charges, with the National Prosecution Authority dropping charges against the embattled frontrunner just two weeks out from the election.
  • Less than three weeks out from Iceland’s parliamentary election, it’s worth looking at the polls. While one poll in January put the Left/Green Movement in first place, most polls since then have put the Social Democratic Alliance. Last week’s poll saw the SDA on 29.4%, Left Green on 27.2%, the right-wing Independence Party on 25.4% and the centrist Progressive Party on 10.7%.

McGinty resigns: Fremantle by-election is on

Thanks to Simon Copland in comments who has pointed out to us that former WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty has resigned as Member for Fremantle, triggering a by-election with the daylight savings referendum on May 16:

Mr McGinty’s decision, which follows months of speculation about his political future, allows a costly by-election to coincide with the May 16 referendum on daylight saving.

He said the timing of his resignation had been influenced by the referendum, though he acknowledged there could be criticism from within the party over his decision to leave at a time when the ALP needed his experience.

“It is really in everyone’s interest to get someone in who can benefit from the time in Opposition, rather than me simply staying there for the sake of it,” Mr McGinty said.

Fremantle is the best seat in WA state politics for the Greens, and the Greens have already endorsed Adele Carles, who ran in 2008 and was close to winning the seat, but failed to overtake the Liberals. I don’t expect the Liberals will run in the seat, making it easier for the Greens to win, while the ALP is likely to run Mayor of Fremantle Peter Tagliaferri.

There’s more over at Poll Bludger, who will also have a piece in Crikey’s daily email today.


By-elections in WA?

Via Pollbludger, reports out of Western Australia suggest that by-elections may be imminent in the seats of two of the former Labor government’s biggest figures: former Premier Alan Carpenter in Willagee and former Attorney-General Jim McGinty in the neighbouring seat of Fremantle. Pollbludger quotes from the Fremantle Herald, saying:

In the face of persistent rumours that veteran state Labor MP Jim McGinty is about to trigger a by-election for Fremantle by announcing his retirement, the Greens have called a war cabinet to talk tactics and anoint a candidate. It is all but certain they will choose South Fremantle’s Adele Carles, who came within a whisker of taking the seat at last year’s state election … Ms Carles says if the powerbroker is considering calling it quits he should do it so the by-election can coincide with the daylight saving referendum in May, saving thousands of dollars … The tom-toms have been beating for weeks that Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri was the shoe-in as Labor’s choice to replace Mr McGinty. But more recently a senior union figure has emerged as a front-runner, which a Labor insider says had Mr Tagliaferri threatening to run as an independent (Word around the campfire is that this refers to Dave Kelly, one of McGinty’s successors at the LHMWU – PB). The Herald’s Labor source said Alan Carpenter also had to be taken into account: If the former premier decides to quit politics the union figure may prefer Mr Carpenter’s safe Willagee seat, which is not threatened by the Greens. This would leave Fremantle open for Mr Tagliaferri. But both Mr McGinty and Mr Tagliaferri are denying a by-election is imminent. “It’s no more than rumour-mongering,” Mr McGinty barked down the phone, adding he stood by the Herald’s report last November that he had no plans to go early but was unlikely to run again in 2013.

Junkies will remember the experience of election night last September as Antony Green’s computer flicked back and forth between a Labor win and a Greens win, due to erratic data entry from the WAEC. Whenever the Greens overtook the Liberals, they were calculated to win the seat. With the Liberals likely to avoid running in a Fremantle by-election, the Greens would be in with a very strong chance to win the seat. Rumours suggest by-elections could be held in parallel with a statewide referendum on daylight savings on May 16.

Updates: Bird of paradox in comments has given some greater information about the layout of Fremantle, and fascinating prospect of a popular centre-left local mayor running as an independent in a seat where Labor, Liberal and Greens all have about 1/3 of support, producing a complete free-for-all. He’s done a notional two-party-preferred vote for each of the 11 booths, coming out with 5 Labor booths, 5 Greens booths and 1 Liberal booth. I’ve turned these into a map of the electorate, although I’ve excluded Rottnest Island (where very few votes are cast, with the Greens coming first with 26 votes).

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