Miranda results wrap


Last night’s result was very dramatic, and something most people weren’t expecting.

Miranda isn’t exactly strong Labor territory, and the massive 22% swing in 2011 seemed to indicate a reversion to form for an area that’s mostly contained in the federal seat of Cook, a very safe Liberal seat.

There’s no way to read the result as anything but a sweeping victory for Labor and a major defeat for the Liberal Party, but it’s hard to know how much broader implications can be read into the result.

There’s no indication in statewide polling that Labor is close to competitive with the Coalition, which you’d expect if Miranda was an indication of broader trends.

The newly-elected MP, Barry Collier, previously held the seat from 1999 to 2011, but chose to retire in 2011. He would have been likely to lose in 2011, with only a small swing needed, but it is likely that his absence massively increased that margin, and his return on its own brought Labor closer to a win.

The by-election was also very unnecessary and in unsympathetic circumstances for the incumbent, who resigned after less than three years to move interstate to run a football team, giving up a ministerial career.

On election day, the Fire Brigade Employees Union targetted the electorate, with firefighters (partially dressed in firefighters’ uniforms) handing out leaflets urging voters to ‘Put the Liberals Last’. I have posted images of this leaflet below the fold.

This followed days of massive bushfires on the edge of Sydney, and took place under a pall of smoke. Early yesterday morning, there was no smoke in the inner west of Sydney, but once you drove down to Miranda the sky was covered in it.

Overall, I think it’s mostly the return of Barry Collier, the unnecessary nature of the by-election and local issues that were decisive, with the fires playing a secondary role. The ALP gained a 27.3% swing at prepoll booths, compared to an overall swing of 26.2%, despite the FBEU having no presence at prepoll.

I’m reposting here the two-party-preferred maps from last night – one shows the overall percentage, the other shows the swings to Labor, for each booth.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2013 Miranda by-election.
Two-party-preferred votes at the 2013 Miranda by-election.
Two-party-preferred swings at the 2013 Miranda by-election.
Two-party-preferred swings at the 2013 Miranda by-election.

Front side of FBEU leaflet handed out at Miranda by-election.
Front side of FBEU leaflet handed out at Miranda by-election.
Back side of FBEU leaflet handed out at Miranda by-election.
Back side of FBEU leaflet handed out at Miranda by-election.


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  1. Soldiers in uniform can’t hand out HTV card at elections so why are state employees in uniform (firemen) allowed too? Whats next the police in uniform? That said voters do not like by-election caused by an MP who leaves early for a “better” job offer. In this case the Liberals should have preselected a candidate who’s heart was in the job for the full term. I note that the former encumbent in 2011 (now elected in 2013) “retired” when it looked like he would loose the election. Both major parties seem to have to many “fair weather sailors” or “half hearted self servers”.

  2. There’s no reason to stop firemen, policemen or any other service group from lobbying or campaigning. Good on them for standing up for themselves and educating the public on Liberal party cuts.

  3. They didn’t say to vote labor or vote greens they said put liberals last that’s not telling them how to vote

  4. balmain – They can lobby or hand out HTV cards but they should not wear uniform when doing it; thats my point. They are government employees and should be neutral as far as uniforms are concerned.

    Observer – by saying put the Liberals last in most cases means the ALP will be placed higher up the ballot paper and will win the vote of the voter who followed that firemans HTV card. Effectively it is the same thing as saying vote ALP or Greens as the preference flow will generally go to the ALP. A rare exception was the federal seat of Melbourne were the Green won well on primary and preference votes. Some independents do well too.

  5. Military and civil servants who stand for parliament have to take leave from work and also cant were uniform at a rally or whilst campaigning.

  6. May this be a lesson to politicians of all colours who want to pull a “Screw you guys, I’m going home!”, to quote Eric Cartman from TV’s South Park, on their constituents.

  7. Guys/Girls
    Is there anyone who disagrees with me on this??. All pollies failing to serve their full term will be forced to pay for the resulting by-election from their retirement, & other entitlements. The only exception being death, or TPD (total, & permanent disability) Being elected is a contract.

  8. Wine diamond, I disagree with you. Let us consider the following situations:

    * A member of parliament has cancer. They have a 50/50 chance of surviving if they spend months taking chemo that will make them unable to perform their duties. If they do not take the chemo they have a 5% chance of surviving. This is not TPD, since if they do beat the cancer they may be perfectly well, but it will be over a year before we know that.

    * An MP has a serious mental breakdown. They have been committed to a mental institution. The doctors think that their prospects for eventual recover are good, but doubt they will be out of hospital for two months and able to work at even non-demanding jobs for several months after that. Their judgement would be questionable for an indeterminately long time.

    * The party of an MP takes a position the MP cannot support and they feel they must resign from the party. They acknowledge that they won the seat because of the party name, not their’s and do not consider it ethical for them to hold onto the seat as an independent.

    Maybe you think that we should force MPs to hold onto their seats in all these circumstances, rather than force by-elections, or make them pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. I do not agree with you. I think that in all cases our democracy is best served by having a replacement who is capable of doing the job elected. In the process, the residents of the electorate get the chance to send a message to the incumbent government, as occurred in this case, which may well be worth far more than the cost of running the election if it results in a change in decision making.

  9. Adrian we have independents, greens and CDP contesting, not just labor and we have optional preferencing so it doesn’t say if u vote independent put labor ahead of liberals. Most people would have made up their minds before they came to vote anyway so it probably had really little effect to voters although liberal MPs arguing with them infront of voters would not have helped. Just accept this defeat, the libs take their heartland for granted and didn’t deserve to win they have done nothing and if those saying Barry retired so he wouldn’t face defeat, every commentator said the libs would win so thats clearly not helpng those claims and even if they were true, he didn’t retire mid term and make his constituents go to the polls early. Pretty poor form from the libs.

  10. This is small change compared to the Labor and Liberal swings, but the Green vote halved despite them getting the donkey vote position – it’s their worst result in Miranda since 1999. Quite a lot worse than the result in Cook last month.

  11. Stephen Luntz
    Thanks for such a detailed, & thoughtful response.
    The first 2 examples you have cited constitute TPD. Anyone suffering these sort of situations covered by TPD insurance will be paid. Recovery from these type of crisis is subject to scrutiny long afterwards, & that is entirely appropriate. I speak from personal experience.
    The last example is very unusual, & frankly i would love to see any pollie take such a position !!. There have been plenty of opportunities, but i can’t recall any pollie taking this type of position. Perhaps you can !!??.
    If however this happened i’d rather see the party appoint an MP like in the senate. Or really what is the problem with a recent ex MP being appointed as an independent, to serve the remainder of the term ??

  12. Observer
    Thought you might like to comment on Adam Bandt’s comments on the bushfires being a portent of things to come, from Tony Abbotts policies. Isn’t it a shame that Lib preferences didn’t get Cath Bowtell over the line.

  13. As well as the FBU, there were Labor helpers prominently arrayed in old “Liberal Blue” t-shirts – not the current insipid blue, the one used until about 5 years ago.

    While neither side is innocent of the odd dirty trick, this sort of thing is pretty juvenile (if effective). Litigation in relation to a similar thing in SA – Labor’s “Put your Family First” campaign – is still, I believe, on-going.

  14. You really reckon a non-traditional/opposing colour shirt makes a difference? While I agree that parties should stick to their own colours, I don’t think that voters are such fools that they would be tricked by the colour of a shirt – afterall, they must see the big party logo on the HTV, hear the volunteer say ‘Labor for [electorate] (for example) and also see the party name on the ballot. I would be surprised if more than, say, two people mistook it on Saturday (and then there is that your own side’s supporters might miss you and not take your HTV).

    Bit long winded, but my point is that wearing the wrong colours wouldn’t make more than the slightest difference and if it did, I would think it would actually be against that party/candidate as some of their supporters may have not taken their HTVs and made a mistake.

    The “Family First” one though is of course ridiculous, though I haven’t heard anything about that beside the one booth on the day.

  15. What happens is that there will be a “red” Labor, “green” Green, “light blue” liberal, and then “dark blue” “phoney liberal”. While it may not matter much – certainly not to the extent of this swing – it increases the likelihood of absent-minded and accidental collection of the wrong HTV. If it didn’t do something, it wouldn’t be used.

  16. Some of the decisions by the Liberal Party dominated council and (unproved) allegations against some of the councillors have created a mood of distrust in the Shire which would have had a significant effect on the result

  17. Well winediamond, those comments wouldn’t have come to the public discussion if the liberals hadn’t preferenced him 2010 and they have to live with the fact that they are doing more to keep their ‘enemy’ the greens in parliament so thats pretty embarrassing for the liberals.

    In terms of the shirt comments, Barry Collier has actually always used Blue in his campaigns so he can use whatever colour he wants and what difference does it make when it says labor on the HTV and on the ballot paper, stop calling Miranda voters too stupid to differentiate on colour tshirts. The fact is the liberals are making pathetic excuses for the loss, they made a captains pick in this seat and never attempted to do anything for the electorate and they sent Barry a stern message in the form of a record 27% swing which now makes his margin safer then what it was in 2007.

  18. Observer
    Yeah, or maybe the ALP is so useless they can’t hold a heartland seat or recover it, given easy opportunity ?? Pissup, brewery. Root Brothel etc etc

  19. LOL! I love how you try and change this back to labor, federal labor. I don’t see how it was an easy opportuniy seeing as labor replaced a victorian PM and the state wide swing was massively against the ALP.

    Miranda is suppose to be a heartland seat for the liberal party seeing as it is based within Cook and produced a 62.3 margin for the federal electorate it encompasses. 27% swing is just embaressing especially in a seat like Miranda that should be a liberal heartland seat. Its shocking and shows how useless the liberal party is at campaigning in an electorate without a state or national stage. Libs have serious problems to adress with this result

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