ACT 2008: Ginninderra and Brindabella


More election-eve coverage from Poll Bludger and Decomposing Trees.

Voters will go to the polls on Saturday in the Australian Capital Territory to elect their Legislative Assembly. I’ve already covered the race in Molonglo. Unfortunately due to the Canadian election I haven’t had time to fully preview all of the races being fought tomorrow, so I’ll cover them briefly here.

I’ll be scrutineering tomorrow night in Campbell in the ACT electorate of Molonglo for the Greens. I’ll take my laptop with internet there and hopefully I’ll be able to put some updates in.

The ACT election tomorrow will almost certainly result in Jon Stanhope’s Labor government deprived of its majority. It also looks likely that the Greens will gain ground and will likely hold the balance of power, which suggests that Stanhope will be much more likely to form the next government, over Liberal leader Zed Seselja. The chances of a Labor government supported by Greens was boosted with today’s Canberra Times Patterson poll. When asked who they would prefer as Chief Minister, Greens supporters backed Stanhope over Seselja with 52% for Stanhope and 20% for Seselja.

Ginninderra covers the north-west suburbs of Canberra, centred on the major suburb of Belconnen. Prior to the 2004 election, when three Labor MLAs and two Liberals were elected, there had always been one crossbench MLA, with the seat changing hands at every election. Greens MLA Lucy Horodny was elected in 1995. She retired in 1998 and Greens candidate Shane Rattenbury failed to hold the seat, which went to conservative Dave Rugendyke, elected on Paul Osborne’s ticket. Rattenbury was narrowly beaten by Democrat Ros Dundas in 2001. In 2004, Greens candidate Meredith Hunter again came close, but missed out.

A large number of votes in Ginninderra are up for grabs this time. Highly popular former Liberal leader Bill Stefaniak will not be standing again after being appointed to a tribunal by the ALP government. Wayne Berry, the current Speaker and the most left-wing of the sitting ALP MLAs, is also retiring. Some of his vote will likely flow to the Greens simply by his retirement, outside of any broader swing. The top polling candidate in Ginninderra in 2004 was Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, who polled over two quotas. While Stanhope will be re-elected, he will provide less assistance to his fellow Labor MLAs. It looks likely that the three MLAs running for re-election will be re-elected, along with Meredith Hunter and one of the new Liberals.

Prediction: 2 Labor, 2 Liberal, 1 Greens

Brindabella covers the southern suburbs, centring on Tuggeranong and including the rural south of the ACT. The first Hare-Clark election in 1995 saw two Labor, two Liberals and independent Paul Osborne elected. A similar result was repeated in 1998. In 2001 and 2004 Labor won three seats and two Liberals. The Greens have never come close to winning here, with 0.4 quotas in 2004.

With Labor’s popularity dropping, the recent Patterson poll put the Greens on an incredible 18%. While that seems high for the Greens, it does suggest that the Greens are on track to win the seat. Greens candidate Amanda Bresnan is definitely going to struggle in comparison to Hunter and Rattenbury, but will have a strong shot.

Prediction: ALP 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1

Total prediction: ALP 7, Liberal 6, Greens 3, Richard Mulcahy 1

Postscript: as a light-hearted conclusion to the campaign, RiotACT has been getting candidates to prove their abilities by playing three hours of Sim City. While no sitting MLAs participated, a number of new Labor and Liberal candidates competed. Greens Ginninderra candidate James Higgins, as well as Shane Rattenbury, both competed as well, trying to put their policies into practice. I’ve posted the YouTube videos showing Shane and James’ performances. You can look at all the other competitors here.

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