ACT 2020 – Friday morning update


Six days after the ACT election, we now have a fairly good sense of the shape of the Assembly. The Assembly will be led by an enlarged Labor-Greens majority, with Labor and Liberal both losing seats and the Greens gaining seats. There are two seats left in play.

I haven’t been closely following the count for this week – you can see how things have moved at Antony Green’s blog or Kevin Bonham’s blog.

Just to quickly summarise the state of the race: the Greens have gained seats from the Liberals in Kurrajong and from Labor in Yerrabi. The Greens have gained a seat from either Labor or Liberal in Ginninderra, while either the Greens or Labor have gained the third Liberal seat in Brindabella. This leaves the Assembly with 10 Labor, 8 Liberals and 5 Greens.

The two seats in play are in Brindabella, in the Tuggeranong area, and Ginninderra, in the Belconnen area.

Brindabella was the only electorate to elect three Liberals in 2016. The Liberals have definitely lost that seat, with the race between a third Labor candidate Taimus Werner-Gibbings and Greens candidate Johnathan Davis. At the key stage in the count, Davis is now 23 votes ahead of Werner-Gibbings. Whichever of them ends up on top will defeat the third Liberal, Andrew Wall. This remains too close to call.

Ginninderra elected three Labor candidates and two Liberals in 2016. The Greens have gained a seat, with the third Labor candidate and the second Liberal fighting to retain their party’s seats. The gap between Labor MP Gordon Ramsay and Liberal candidate Peter Cain is currently 98 votes in favour of Cain. Antony Green suggests the remaining votes to come should favour Cain, although Kevin Bonham points out that a batch of votes added to the primary count but not yet included in the preference count is very favourable to Ramsay and should improve his position.

I suggest paying attention to Bonham and Green if you want to follow the count closely. I’ll return with further analysis once the vote count has concluded. But for now I also wanted to zoom out and look at the overall trends in the five electorates.

The story on the night was of swings to Labor and Greens and away from the Liberals, but that’s not an entirely universal story.

The Labor vote across the territory is now down 0.3% after the addition of extra votes since election night. The Liberal vote has crashed further, down 3.3%, while the Greens are up 3.4%.

The picture is not consistent across the five electorates. The Greens vote did go up everywhere. It’s up by 5.8% in Brindabella, which has traditionally been their weakest electorate. It was up just 1.1% in Murrumbidgee, where sitting MLA Caroline Le Couteur retired. The other three electorates saw Greens swings between 3% and 4%.

The Liberal vote did drop in four electorates, but went up in the other. These swings can partly be explained by the location of the party leader. The Liberal swing varied between 2.5% and 6.3% in three of the electorates, but it was the worst at 8.8% in Murrumbidgee, where Jeremy Hanson was running as Liberal leader in 2016. Hanson still ran in 2020, but didn’t seem to carry the same cachet. This electorate had the highest Liberal vote in 2016, and was judged as the party’s best prospect of gaining a twelfth seat. Yet it’s now only the third-best electorate.

The Liberal vote looks entirely different in Yerrabi, where current Liberal leader Alistair Coe brought in a 4.6% swing towards the Liberals. The Liberal primary vote has cracked 40% and it’s the only electorate where the Liberals topped the vote.

Labor gained swings in two electorates, suffered small swings in two others, and suffered a huge swing in one electorate. The vote went up in Brindabella and Murrumbidgee. There was a tiny 0.6% swing against Labor in Ginninderra, and a slightly larger 1.3% swing in Kurrajong.

The Labor vote crashed in Yerrabi by 10.3%. This could be explained by numerous factors: a rising Liberal vote led by Coe, the light rail being less important as an issue than in 2016, and the strengthening Greens. But it does stand out like a sore thumb amongst the five electorates and it’ll be worth exploring why the Labor vote crashed so hard in this northern electorate.

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  1. Important to note that in Murrumbidgee an Independent – running on planning issues received nearly half a quota – largely from the Liberals. Gininnderra the Belco Party made life difficult for the Liberals & got over half a quota – with a lot of votes exhausting

  2. What’s actually going on with Ginninderra is that there are votes that favour the Liberals that were in the primary count but now are not, presumably some data entry issue. The votes that are still in the primary count but not yet data-entered favour Labor, but I now have clear evidence that the current primary count is incomplete and I’m expecting that when this is fixed and a few thousand Liberal-leaning votes are restored to the live count, Cain will be looking better. Still close enough that it is not clearcut just yet.

  3. Small error: the Greens seat in Murrumbidgee is either a retain, or a notional gain from Liberals (depending on how you look at the redistribution).

    And while the primary swing to Greens in Murrumbidgee was tiny, it was distorted by Carrick (independent) getting a strong showing. I suspect the 3 party preferred numbers will show Greens got a decent swing

  4. Other factors in Labor’s lower primary vote in Yerrabi were probably the loss of the personal vote of the popular Meegan Fitzharris and ‘Labour DLP’ getting column A on the ballot paper (4.7%). The DLP also ran in Ginniniderra, where they were also very fortunate in getting column B (2.4%), which may have also contributed to Labor’s slightly lower primary vote in that electorate.

  5. I wonder if Labor’s decline in Yerrabi and Ginninderra was in part due to the DLP. The DLP got a decent share of the vote – almost 5% in Yerrabi – which is a bit odd because they didn’t seem to do much campaigning (although maybe I just didn’t see it). Maybe they peeled off some more conservative Labor voters, or maybe some Labor voters just mistook the Democratic Labor Party for Labor.

  6. The loss of the popular and high profile Meegan Fitzharris also hurt Labor’s primary vote in Yerrabi. She received close to a quota in her own right at the 2016 election.

  7. The selection of Lee as the new leader of the ACT liberals was a very good one and I can tell you Labor is the underdogs going into 2024. A moderate pro-women iberal diverse liberal leadership team is certainly going to put Labor on notice even as an ALP person myself if I lived in the ACT I would definitely consider voting Liberal. Could 2024 be the It’s time factor for them? And with a new generational team the answer could be a yes.

    Obviously allot can happen in 4 years and the ACT liberals would need to win 13 to govern. Although if the Liberals are going centrist in the ACT then I wouldn’t rule out the Greens working with them on some concessions. But assuming the Liberals make no major gaffes. Elizabeth Lee could very well be the next Kate Carnell.

    It would boost them even further if Morrison loses 2022 considering the ACT liberals came dead close to winning in 2012 under a conservative leader and part of that was likely of backlash of the Gillard government. There is allot to play for in 2024 and if I was daring, I would say the LIBS are slightly favourable in 2024 of winning.

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