NSW Redistribution Wrap


After today’s announcement of the draft boundaries for New South Wales’ federal redistribution, I thought I would summarise the consequences of the election.

It appears that this result has clearly benefited the ALP in its attempts to increase the size of the majority, although, as Antony Green points, the uniform swings needed for the ALP to lose its majority or for the Coalition to gain a majority remains steady.

Assuming no significant changes in the final reports in New South Wales and Queensland, Labor will have gained five seats without increasing its vote: Swan in WA, Dickson and Herbert in Queensland and Macarthur and Gilmore in New South Wales. They also have notionally gained Greenway, but since Labor seat Reid was abolished, and Greenway was radically redrawn, I’m going to count Greenway as simply balancing out the loss of Reid. This gives Labor 88 notional seats. Counting the loss of Lyne to an independent, the Coalition’s seats fall from 65 to 59.

There are a lot more ultra-marginals on the new boundaries. At the last election, Labor held Robertson by 0.1% and the Liberals held Macarthur by 0.7%. On the new boundaries, Labor holds four seats on margins of 0.2% or less (Robertson, Macarthur, Gilmore and Macquarie, which was previously a relatively safe Labor seat, but lost all of it’s Central West NSW territory to be replaced by Hawkesbury territory). Paterson is now held by the Liberals by 0.4%.

Indeed, Labor would gain four more Coalition seats (for a total gain of 6) with a 1.3%. Ominously for the Nationals, those four seats include Cowper and Calare, half of the Nationals’ dwindling NSW delegation.

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  1. So Ben, now that there’ll be intense interest in what happens with Greens prefs in Macarthur has the lobbying started yet? You’ll have every community group pressuring you to extract some commitment on their behalf in exchange for the Greens preference recommendation. Oh, and Labor will try to bully you with threats of not preferencing the Greens in the Senate or something similar (Surely after the Fielding experience they’ll realise they have to pref Greens in the Senate regardless of what Greens do in Reps seats, and Greens voters seem to pref Labor in similar numbers regardless of what the HTV says, so Greens really have to start calling Labor’s bluff more often).

    Anyway, I don’t want to wade too far into that, but I would advise that you at least want to appear as though you’ve tried to extract some concessions. Announcing in your first media interview as a candidate that you’re directing prefs to Labor without extracting anything in return (and before your local group has even made a decision), as one candidate I know did, really pisses off community groups and activists, and does nothing to help establish the Greens’ independence.

  2. The Greens will always preference Labor in the lower house with compulsary preferencing because it would be an ideological betrayal to preference the Libs.

    Bit of horse trading never hurt anyone though.

  3. Hamish, I don’t think the alternative is to preference the Libs, I think it’s to run a split ticket or just tell voters to number all the squares in their own order of preference. The Greens didn’t direct prefs in Tasmania at the last federal election.

  4. The issue will be which seats the Greens decide to pref the ALP, starting with the base of an open ticket. So, do the ALP want all 150 seats? (including all those delicious marginals)? Then maybe a watertight committment on ghg reductions, and end to the ABCC, withdrawal of all troops etc etc, as well as Senate #2 pref’s…we then take it from there.

  5. Lol Stewart. Wishful thinking.

    The thing with compulsory preferencing and Greens voters is that there will probably only be a small deviation between the amount of the vote that goes to Labor when The Greens recommended preferences compared to when they don’t.

  6. Actually in rural areas Green preferences drift much more than urban areas in the absence of Green campaigners or pro-Labor HTVs, same with the Nats on the other side.

  7. Anyone got an explanation for this?

    Last federal election the proportion of Greens prefs flowing to the Coalition in NSW seats was generally in the 15-25% range. There were three seats however which stood out with over 40% of Greens prefs going to the Coalition. The first two were Fowler (45.8%) and Blaxland (44.1%), where in both cases the Green was first on the ballot paper and the Lib second, and both areas with high NESB populations and expected higher rates of donkey voting. The third however was Hunter (41.4%) – why? Did Green voters just really hate Joel Fitzgibbon?

    And FYI whilst I’m looking at my notes on that, the four NSW seats with the lowest proportion of Greens prefs going to the Coalition were Grayndler, Macquarie, Sydney and Richmond (the latter despite a concerted effort from Nationals candidate Sue Page to appeal for prefs from Greens voters).

  8. They did.

    As an former Hunter man I can only speculate, but I think my reasoning is true.

    A lot of the Green vote in the Hunter is from the wine growing regions, irrigators or winery workers. In the old Hunter, Labor represented the miners and the Nats represented the farmers, wine makers etc – which was often in competition to the miners – and this remains to a large extent. So while people may vote Green first, to make a point about the environment or whatever, the same mine v vine allegiances remain.

  9. Hunter? Think coal mines – a small work force these days, but an industry reliant on digging big holes in the ground. The impact would be wider than just mine vs vine, to include the horse breeders & tourism operators.

  10. It is, of course, but it doesn’t have the same ring as mine vs vine.

    Both the mines and the vines have a lot of associated industry, tourism, manufacturing etc, so even though both are relatively small, the associated jobs/votes are pretty significant and the divide is more stark than most would imagine.

    It’s interesting politics there.

  11. Yeah, and I was thinking that the horse stud area was in a different seat, but that was the 2004 boundaries, so I guess that all adds up. I am still surprised at how big a difference it makes, especially when you could argue that the Coalition’s policies going into the election were more pro-coal industry than Labor’s. Perhaps it’s a good example of how voters are guided far more by identity than any ‘rational’ analysis of the policies.

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