NSW 2011: general wrap-up


I’ll be writing a number of posts today about the result’s of yesterday’s NSW state election, covering the seats in doubt, the race in the Legislative Council, and the scale of the defeat for Labor.

As far as general trends are concerned, some things are clear.

Firstly, Labor was absolutely crushed statewide, as was predicted. For much of the last few months, the worst case scenario saw them fall below 20 seats and be wiped out everywhere except the central part of Sydney. That is exactly what has happened.

Labor has retracted to a core between Mount Druitt, Macquarie Fields, Kogarah and Auburn, with the exception of two seats in the east of Sydney, two in the Hunter and two in Wollongong.

In some areas, local trends appear to have protected strong local members. In Macquarie Fields, local Labor MP Andrew McDonald, generally renowned as a good local member, survived with a much smaller swing of under 10%, while in neighbouring Campbelltown, Labor lost the seat with a swing of over 20%.

The result was nothing to write home about. It certainly wasn’t a disaster. The Greens vote went up and currently they are the frontrunner in the race for the last seat in the Legislative Council, which would give them an extra MLC. They cracked 10% for the first time in both houses.

Yet the Greens didn’t get the large result they were looking at getting in polling before the last few weeks. Marrickville looks like staying in Labor hands, and Balmain is too close to call. There were local factors in these seats, particularly the impact of the Israeli boycott on the debate in Marrickville. Overall, however, there still wasn’t a great swing to the Greens. It does seem a bit rich, however, for any Labor supporters to be gloating about there being no huge swing to the Greens when the ALP has suffered their worst defeat in a century and the Greens have polled a record vote.

For independents, too, the result wasn’t great. Three independents lost to the Nationals, while three others retained their seats. While independent Gordon Bradbery is leading in Wollongong, all the other prospective independent challengers fell by the wayside. Independents running in Newcastle, Charlestown, Swansea and Blue Mountains were all tipped to win their seats, yet none of them came in the top two. Independents came second in Clarence, Upper Hunter and Wagga Wagga, but part of this is due to the complete collapse of the Labor vote.

Overall, the number of independents coming in the top two declined. Last time, there was 11 Coalition-independent races and six Labor-independent races. While there are still 11 races with the Coalition, there is only one race between Labor and independent, in Wollongong. This is partly due to the ALP falling into third place in seats like Lake Macquarie and Sydney, where the Liberals came second to strong independents.

The number of seats where the Greens came second increased substantially. While the number of Labor-Greens has fallen from two to one, the number of Coalition-Greens contests increased from two (North Shore and Vaucluse) to between 11 and 13.

This is mainly driven by the complete collapse of the Labor vote on the north shore. The Greens came second to the Liberal Party in all seats to the east of Lane Cove and Ku-ring-gai. This also happened in the far north coast of seats of Lismore and Ballina. The Greens may also come second in Oxley to the Nationals, and the Greens are currently competing with Labor for second place in Balmain.

Why the middling performance for independents and Greens? I think the main reason is that the campaign was completely dominated by the Coalition’s defeat of Labor. Voters were desperate to remove the Labor government, and for most the Coalition was the most clearcut way of getting rid of Labor.

Standing on a polling booth I was asked a number of times where the Greens were preferencing. Understanding of preferences is limited, and years of Labor-Greens preference deals and the agreement on a federal level does create an image of Labor and the Greens being in alliance. The bitter fighting between the parties and the lack of preference deals in this election doesn’t undo all that. I believe many voters didn’t vote Green because they thought it help Labor get re-elected.

In the end the Coalition’s campaign was just too strong, and swept away everything in its path, whether it was independents in the Hunter, the Greens in Balmain, or Labor in Western Sydney.

Finally, here are some maps.

2007 election results in New South Wales.
2011 election results in New South Wales.
2007 election results in Sydney.
2011 election results in Sydney.
2007 election results in the lower Hunter and Central Coast.
2011 election results in the lower Hunter and Central Coast.
2007 election results in the Illawarra region.
2011 election results in the Illawarra region.
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  1. I’d love to see those images again with the colours mixing the percentage of first preference votes. Shades of Red, Blue, Green and Yellow as it were

  2. I know I keep banging on about Balmain, but Ben, if the “coalition’s campaign was too strong, and swept away everything,” that does NOT explain the result in Balmain. Labor’s primary did not decline as badly as just across the bridge (look at Drummoyne, an absolute disaster), and the Greens far out-spent everyone else. From where I sit (in the media) I’d estimate the Greens out-spent the Libs and Labor by 5:1 while at the same time propagating a myth that there were up against a “formidable machine.”

    The Greens got a tiny rise in the primary in Balmain, less than one percent (likely to totally evaporate with the postals).

    I am not “crowing” because I am not partisan Labor (or Liberal). But something went very badly wrong for the Greens here and I’m hoping someone will post an explanation beyond what you have suggested.

    I’ve got my own interests in this electorate. But I don’t want to be accused of “barrow pushing”. I am genuinely interested in what everyone thinks.

  3. I respect you Ben but I completely don’t agree with your explanation of the poorer than expected Greens performance. (As for why Labor supporters are gloating in the face of massive defeat, it’s because we expected the massive defeat and we got a massive defeat, but with the pleasant surprise of keeping Carmel and maybe Verity, whilst all the punters were expecting Fiona and Jamie to take it home and the Greens failed on that, they also didn’t get their ~15% poll reported vote, not too hard to explain mate) It’s all just TOO easy and comfortable to blame Greens middling on Labor.

    From what I saw in Balmain, the campaigns were actually reversed. Greens ran a high budget machine campaign and Labor (and Liberals) ran a low budget grassroots one.

    Understand that the Verity Firth Campaign had a very limited budget. Enough money for corflutes and t-shirts, that was all. No bus stop ads, no giant billboards on the side of Broadway shopping center, no real media buy. Sussex St. withdrew funding from all seats under 10% swing on day one. What Verity had were hundreds of volunteers willing to doorknock and call every single voter living in the electorate. This was retail politics. I volunteered for a while on Verity’s campaign before being moved to Toongabbie, where we were one of the few campaigns to look at what Balmain was doing and go “okay, let’s try that”. Of course we had the blessing of financial backing from the ALP.

  4. re: ‘I believe many voters didn’t vote Green because they thought it help Labor get re-elected.’

    Greens preferenced Labor in:

    Toongabbie: small swing away from the Greens
    Granville: small swing to the Greens
    Riverstone: small swing to the Greens
    Coogee: swing to the Greens (which was one of the best out of the inner city seats)
    Wallsen: substantial swing away from the Greens (but there was a big independant vote).

    Then we have places like Balmain where there was a tiny swing to the Greens and Heffron where there was a swing away.

    Now preferences aren’t the same as people’s impressions on who they are voting for, but I think it might be an overstretch to say that voters thought a vote for the Greens was a vote to reelect Labor. It may be true, but I can’t see it in any stats.

  5. Ben Raue: well Greens tear down as many Labor corflutes in every inner city seat and last year in the Vic elections Labor offices in central Sydney were smashed and Labor billboards torn down whilst Green ones stayed intact. So don’t try to play the victim there.

  6. I imagine that some of those seats in Newcastle and Wollongong will be 1-term seats but for the rest of the wins, you could well see a “Class of 2011” forming within NSW now, similar to the “Class of 1996” for John Howard.

    What you have seen in this election is the re-birth of the National Party of Australia. Long-suffering at a federal level, and having now merged with the Liberal Party in Queensland, this election has breathed new life into the Nats and could help pave the way for a re-surgance for the party at a Federal level.

    For the Greens, I believe that part of their problem is that they have allowed some of the members that could be compared with Lee Rhiannon to have a voice and I think this will keep some progressive voters away from the party. I have met some very well-meaning Greens Volunteers and I have extremely pro-active conversations and debate. But the conduct of Fiona Byrne leaves a lot to be desired. The lesson I would recommend for the Greens is that a lot of people with progressive thoughts want to vote Greens. But the problem is that they are stuck with excessive macro-thinking and not enough micro-thinking. Good charity and good governance begins at home and policies regarding Israel in an area that is smaller than the country (and about 1/3 of the way around the world) shows a complete lack of focus on the people of Marrickville. I do believe you could actually take a further chunk away from the ALP if you can show that you can focus on micro-issues effectively.

  7. It seems to me that the Labor campaigns in Balmain and Marrickville were effectively targeted at likely Greens voters. Also in Balmain Verity had the advantage of incumbency this time, which should’ve helped reduce the swing from 2007 when it was a vacant seat.

    Regarding the Greens result more generally, firstly, polls have over-estimated the Greens vote at every state and federal election over the past year. The 15%+ polls should always have been taken with a grain of salt, and I was under the impression most people involved in running the Greens’ campaign did just that.

    Secondly, it is always tougher for third parties at elections which are clearly about voters wanting a change of government. This election was about booting out Labor, and thus people voted for the Coalition for the change of government and didn’t look to other candidates. Given the context of the campaign, it’s hard to see what the Greens could’ve done differently that would’ve made a great deal of difference. Ben’s point about preferences is a good one, and I think people would’ve been discouraged from voting Green because they wanted to ensure they got a change of government, and may have felt they’d get Labor re-elected by default if they voted for the Greens or independents.

    Thirdly, we should put the Greens performance into context with the two previous state elections. The great surge in Greens support came in 2003, which was the ‘perfect’ election for the Greens, coming at the time of the Iraq war and following the implosion of the Democrats. NSW is a tough state for the Greens given the demographics, and you could argue that the context of the 2003 election meant that the growth in the Greens vote in NSW was ahead of the curve nationally. 2007 was also a good electoral climate for the Greens, with both Labor and the Coalition being fairly unpopular, but there was arguably no great surge in Greens support because the surge had already happened in 2003. The context of the 2011 election, with such focus on changing government, is by far less advantageous for the Greens than those previous two. Some of us probably did get a little too confident of a surge in Greens support, but really we should have kept the political reality in mind – at ‘change’ elections, third parties get squeezed out.

    Clearly there are some things that the Greens can learn from this campaign. There are things that worked well both in state-wide and local campaigns, and perhaps we need to do more to spread that knowledge and build campaign organisational capacity and expertise across the party. There may be some questioning of whether some of the big budget campaign techniques in Balmain and Marrickville were worthwhile, but I’m not convinced there’s any big issues or any magic bullet there.

    I don’t really see what our local or state-wide campaigns could have done differently which would have overcome the prevailing unfavourable electoral climate. I don’t think it’s fair to say the result was caused by those running our campaigns lacking perspective on how things were being received in the ‘real world’, as some have suggested. It’s certainly true, and I know from personal experience, that it is inherent to the nature of political campaigns that those heavily involved in running them can suffer from a lack of perspective on what’s happening outside the campaign, but I believe the way the Greens run our campaigns incorporate good processes to counter this, and it simply doesn’t make sense to me that this was an issue that could’ve made a significant difference here. I also tend to think that the methods often suggested to provide information on how the campaign is being received in the electorate have their own flaws and can cause worse problems. I may be considered biased, but I think this was quite a well-run campaign by the Greens, just turned out that the electoral climate was more unfavourable than some hoped.

  8. Nick C, ” the big budget campaign techniques in Balmain and Marrickville…” backfired badly. It was overkill, so blatant and so OTT that inner west voters got scared.

    There’s also the candidates factor. Jamie Parker is too well known in Balmain, and the voter impression is not favourable. Then Fiona Byrne (who once seemed more attractive) showed she couldn’t handle any media scrutiny.

    Look at you pre-selection processes, Nick You have just lost the “unlosable election”. It was not the tidal wave of BOF which swept through Balmain and Marrickville. The poor showing of the Greens there is all their own doing.

  9. With all due respect Russell, most people I know involved in the Greens campaign were never confident of winning Balmain and Marrickville and always believed it would be a very tough contest. It’s the commentators who expected Greens wins, and it was partly to address these expectations that motivated the high level of resourcing of those campaigns.

    I think it is fair to say that some will question if there was an ‘overkill’ effect that might have hurt our performance, and I’m sure that will be something the party will look at in the wash-up, but it’s hard to know objectively if that is really the case or not. We knew we were up against two Ministers who were amongst the better respected members of the government, and thus believed we had to try some different things.

    As for the candidates. Six months ago everyone was saying Jamie and Fiona were excellent choices. Our opponents may criticise our selection of candidates, but I don’t think that’s an issue. People aren’t going to vote for us if we put up robots who stand in front of a camera repeating “I’m very proud to be part of Bob Brown’s team”, they want ‘real’ people who aren’t afraid to say something controversial and who actually stand for something. Our candidates are selected by the grass-roots membership in their electorate, and we aren’t going to be changing those processes. There will in fact probably be more people who will say we didn’t win because our campaigns didn’t take enough bold, controversial stances.

  10. If Verity Firth wins in Balmain, you also have to consider her position on the ballot paper. Being first on the ballot has to help in such a close contest. Does anyone have any idea of the size of the donkey vote in NSW elections?

  11. Crazedmongoose – I agree with what you have written. As a Liberal, I am astonished that the Greens could not win Marrickville and may not win Balmain. In addition, they didn’t win a lower house seat in Victoria and only won one at the Federal election. They may control the upper house in the Senate, but I’d suggest they have historically a bit of a reputation for blocking rather than negotiating.

    My view on the Greens (regardless of politics) is as follows:

    Firstly, if they can’t win a seat in this NSW election (given the factors against the ALP), then what hope is there for the Greens to be a major political force in the lower house of any parliament other than Tasmania? None, I would have thought. Would they do better in elections which are not seen as controversial or where there is no great mood for change? Maybe, but in saying this, I suspect they will also do quite poorly at the next Federal election in terms of lower house seats as there will be a lot to be lost on both ALP/LNP sides.

    Secondly, published polls tend to overstate Green support. At the end of the day, people go back to the ALP, regardless what the polls suggest. We saw a 16% swing overall and the Greens only managed to pick up 1% of this.

    Thirdly, Gillard represents a big risk to the Greens future. If she continues to assault them, where do they go? Can they continue to support the ALP if Gillard keeps calling them ‘extreme’. This is the Greens biggest issue in my opinion in the next 2 years.

    Fourthly, I reckon support for the Greens will just about erode once Bob Brown retires. Bob Brown is seen to be “The Greens” and when he goes, I personally think they will head the way of the Democrats. This is their best time. It won’t get any better.

    Fifthly, once an ETS is in, I think that will further spell the end for the Greens. Perhaps there will be another fringe party to take its place at that point. At the end of the day, most ‘non- Green supporters’ see the Greens as a one-party issue.

    In saying all of that, I really like Ben’s work and he has done a great job at Tallyroom. This is no personal view of mine on the Greens, but does reflect the fact that we basically have a two-party system which I really can’t see changing in the near future.

  12. On education and health Greens rank well behind Coalition or Labor as best qualified party. Cath Bowtell observed that in Melbourne Greens won votes of traditional Labor supporters to whom education and govt services were key issues not just those concerned about greenhouse/refugees etc. I don’t think this happened in NSW.
    A combination of environmentalism + committed left = 10-15% of the vote. This is a strong base that will not go away but ultimately a limited one.

  13. Re: Nick C again, who writes, ” It’s the commentators who expected Greens wins” and yes that’s true. I couldn’t count the times that I heard “The Greens are expected to pick up Balmain and Marrickville” on TV, radio and in print. It was the almost universal assumption. Even here amongst almost all the Tallyroomers who posted predictions, those two electorates were ALWAYS coloured green.

    I have spoken to people today who are in a state of shock. “What happened!” they ask….

    But when I published over two weeks ago my expectation that the Libs would lead in Balmain, I earned a stern rebuke from the Greens campaign manager, who essentially called me an idiot for accurately predicting what happened. Around the same I received a press release from Fiona Byrne (after that Marrickville poll) more or less claiming victory.

    That expectation of the media was fed by the Greens themselves, Nick. And Malcolm Mackerras (“Marrickville, possibly Balmain”) and Antony Green (who said “if the Greens can’t win here in these conditions they can’t win anywhere.”{

    Indeed Antony, that bit is true…

    The rest of the media just follow the experts and what the party spruikers themselves claim. The mainstream media are not (usually) very close to the ground. Nor do they have any local knowledge, especially of the candidates. Many journalists also look to Tallyroom for guidance too, so a lot of what was written came from people posting here – expecting the Greens to win 2 seats.

    My feeling is that party insiders live in a bubble of their own making. Not just the Greens, but they in particular do seem incredibly insular, especially in the inner west. They should get out more.

  14. Geoff Robinson speaks the truth. The Greens simply didn’t coherently speak to disenchanted left-leaning ALP voters on “economic” (class) issues. The lack of preferencing the ALP was symptomatic of not seriously targeting that group, who would be most worried about the prospect of a Tory government.

    Sorry to be so old-fashioned by mentioning material interests, but the “post-materialist” thesis is increasingly looking like a naked emperor.

  15. Predictions of the Greens going the way of the Democrats are now starting to become a staple du jour. The assumption is it all depends on Bob and the vote will go when he goes. There is no further analysis underlying the argument.

    Let me offer a devil’s advocate critique of that easy assumption:

    1. the issues that have driven the Greens as a central issue arising from environmental pressures are not going to go away and the major parties are not handling them well – people for whom these are matters of high concern are not going to vote for the major parties any time soon.

    2, The Greens have established a reasonable base of representation at local government level giving them in some areas at least a presence and demonstration of engagement with those issues at the community level. this the Democrats never did.

    3. There is some sociological evidence supported by patterns of electoral behaviour that suggests Green voting is linked to some broader cultural and values change. The least you can say is that there seems to be some linkage between levels of education and engagement in information and science based industries and the Green vote. For evidence of this see the patterns of voting for the Greens in the ACT both in absolute numbers and in the booth locations, In NSW outside the inner city seats of Balmain and Marrickville, and to a lesser extent Coogee, there is a swathe of seats including Vaucluse and 8 North Shore seats where the two party count this time will be between the Greens and the Liberals and in several of those seats the ALP vote is getting very small.

    If this line of argument has any grounding it would suggest that the Greens are more likely to manifest continuing incremental growth over time rather than fade away.

    Only time will tell and the future is never surprise free etc etc – if pressed though I would reckon that the scenario I have sketched above is probably more likely than the following the Democrats and fade away scenario. The difficulty so far is that people offering that scenario haven’t really spelled out in detail how and why that will happen – all that we have been offered is ananlogy.

  16. Perhaps Green support has peaked as a result of them gaining the balance of power. They’re movement from irrelevance to significance in the hung parliament has perhaps resulted in more scrutiny of their policies and a greater understanding in the general public that they are not just “the soft option”. If the Greens can’t pick up any significant protest vote in an election with this much popular dissatisfaction with politics, I think it’s time to start questioning whether the relatively uninterrupted rise of the Greens over the last decade or so is coming to an abrupt end.

  17. There is everything to play for in this result.

    The Labor Party left doesnt want to surrender its patch to the Greens – no surprise in that. The Greens will have to get tougher and smarter in their politics without sacrificing principle.

    That’s achievable. One of the things holding up the ALP is the old right wing Labor migrant vote in these electorates, that’s only going to get smaller not bigger.It wont happen straight away but it will happen.

  18. An excellent result for the Liberals. I’ve still got a big grin on my face, regarding the fact that there is a Liberal member for Smithfield.

    As for my predictions about 2PP:

    I pretty much got Hawkesbury, Fairfield, Granville, Cabramatta, Blacktown and Macquarie Fields spot on, or close to it. My prediction for Liverpool wasn’t too bad under the circumstances, but still wrong. Smithfield, Riverstone and Menai I got badly wrong.

    Anyone wishing to look up these predictions can do so in the reckless predictions blog. How did you all go?

    One more prediction: Ashton by 43 votes. Don’t know why, but I have a feeling he’ll come back and win.

  19. Dunno where this fits, so I might as well throw it in here for the interest of Green folk – your comrades did a bit better in Germany this weekend. In Baden-Württemberg, they look like leading a coalition govt with the SPD (centre-left), after the CDU (centre-right) got booted out for the first time in 60 years. That state is bigger than NSW, so this is reasonably major. Meanwhile in Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD lost their majority and now will have to form their own red-green coalition (the Greens there went from 5% to 15%). A good weekend’s work for them, then.

  20. Did anyone stop to consider that people have finally opened their eyes in relation to the real agenda of the Greens and thats why they didnt get a good showing…

    Not only that but NSW votes have delivered a somewhat conservative upper house…

    I think the Greens vote has peaked… The resurgence of the Nationals also points to the “silent majority” finally making their voices heard against the socialist agendas of labor and the greens both federally and at state level…

    People has decided that Progress is not about social re-engineering but about better hospitals, schools and economy… simple…

  21. Boutros thinks that the Green vote in NSW has peaked, What we can say is that there was a small increase this time at a state level, 0.9% in the lower house and nearly 2% in the Legislative Council. If that represents the peak in their vote we won’t know that that is the case till after the next election.

    My best guess based on an attempt to look at empirical realities, rather than what I might want to happen, is that the most likely scenario in the near future is for continuing incremental increases in the Greens level of support at a state wide level in NSW.

    There is some evidence of a continuing increase in the Green vote in the eastern and northern suburbs of Sydney to the point where the Greens are likely to become the major opposition party ahead of the ALP in electorates in that area.

  22. I think there is more room for the Greens to go but they shot themselves in the foot by allowing supporters of Lee Rhiannon to achieve the role of candidates for seats. I think Fiona Byrne was precisely the wrong candidate and while she may have made some gains around Sydney Uni (picking up the student vote)and into Newtown and Enmore (with the alternative crowd), Carmel Tebbutt maintained her strong connection with the people further out west, into Petersham and Lewisham (lots of inner-west ethnic voters). Byrne is too divisive as a candidate and the Greens need to learn from this lesson that if they are serious about winning a seat like this, they are going to have to learn to stand on their own two feet and start pitching some-what more mainstream policies. Like in Melbourne, they cannot simply reply on taking Liberal Preferences to get them over the line. Will they achieve this? I don’t think they will when they don’t even have a state leader.

  23. “Socialist agendas of Labor” – seriously Boutros, the ALP is not a socialist party – certainly not in any economic sense (and that’s how how socialism is applied). Never forget that it was Hawke and Keating that de-regulated the Australian economy – Howard just finished the job. If you are worried about a left or progressive social agenda, maybe you might consider that is what we call ‘liberal’ – in just the same way as it is used in the economic sense, meaning tending towards lessening of restrictions on personal behaviour. The DLP always stood for social-conservatism and economic-nationalism – the same as One Nation but without the racist overtones. But perhaps it might surprise you that the Greens are also described (by that doyen of the neo-liberal right, the IPA) as economic nationalists – we might not be so far from you as you think…
    As for Carmel maintaining her strong connections – she engaged in a straight out smear campaign – don’t forget, her own party supported the BDS in Council. That’s the way the ALP operates where-ever it feels threatened – note the Parramatta campaign. I wouldn’t draw too much into this election result other than the NSW people had had a gut full of the NSW Labor Right faction shenanigans and wanted a big change – voting Liberal was going to deliver that, so they did.

  24. Doug – Greens going to be the main opposition party in the Eastern Subs and Nth Shore? They already are aren’t they? But the Greens will never win seats on the North Shore. Perhaps in the Eastern Suburbs but very unlikely. If you analyse their vote, the North Shore areas were basically where their biggest marginal increase was in the State Election. So the 1.2% or whatever is false indication (0.6% of it would have been from the North Shore). Sure, they might increase their vote in the future, but it will be at a decreasing rate. If they can’t win a lower house seat in this election, they probably never will.

    The Greens must be horribly disappointed. A 16% swing against Labor and all the Greens could pick up was a paltry 1% and 2 (maybe 3) upper house seats, which means that most people don’t seriously consider the Greens as a viable alternative and just a fringe party. I’d suggest this will be near the high point for the Greens given they couldn’t have had a better opportunity to increase their vote at the state election. It may not be the high point for them, but any further increase will be minimal. If they couldn’t get ALP voters across this time, then they’re gonna struggle in future. When the ALP next wins in NSW, the Green vote will be down.

    And God help the Greens when their Leader Bob Brown retires. It will be exactly the same as what happened to One Notion – the radical party on the other side. Within a decade I reckon the Greens will be hovering around mid single digits across Australia. If this Carbon thing gets passed, they won’t have any leverage issues that any average voter will particularly care about. In Australia we don’t generally give much of a care for social justice because we know that social justice is better in Australia than just about any other country in the world.

    Federally, another nail in the coffin for the Greens will be Gillard’s attempt to claw back that support at their expense. Did she not call them ‘radicals’ last week in an attempt to improve the ALPs primary support? She can’t get what she wants from conservative voters.

    The other nail in the coffin is that the Liberals will never ever preference the Greens ahead of the ALP again in my opinion, which will cost them. Why would they unless the Greens preferenced the Liberals ahead of Labor? And that ain’t going to happen.

    In other words, the 2 party system is alive and well in Australia. And it will never change while we have either OPV or CPV. The only hope for the Greens therefore will be in Tasmania where they have that unfortunate proportional voting system that will most likely be scrapped at some point when the Liberals regain power there.

  25. Thanks for a considered response – I have been trying to get one for a while.

    Not being a member of the Greens party I cannot speak for them and their expectations of the election. I am simply trying to dig into the entrails of the results to see if I can figure out what is happening.

    I agree that they are unlikely to win Lower House seats under the current electoral system. No argument there. Though they are now represented in the upper house in Victoria, NSW, South australia and Western Australia along with the Senate which remains a powerful chamber.

    You forget the ACT – where the electoral system like Tasmania allows representation of views outside the oligopolistic two party system provided that they get over quite a hig hurdle, 12-16 %. The resulting improvement in accountability where the major parties have to argue their case and build coalitions is highly desirable and likely to prevent the sort of outcome where the executive becomes completely dominant.

    I happen to think this is a good thing and so do the people of the ACT. They entrenched it in a referendum. It reduces the power of the party machines – again good for democracy and will prevent the excesses that the peopel of NSW have rightly revolted against occuring here.

    I disagree with the comparison of the Greens with One Nation in terms of their likely fate and trajectory.Their representation across the nation is I think a refutation of that comparison. One nation blew up out of nowhere and has blown away again, largely having reabsorbed itself into the Coalition. it remained a largely rural/regional event with a narrow geographic reach.

    The Greens have been around for a good deal longer and have been building much more slowly which is I think a signal that something different is happening andwhy the comparison is not helpful. I think assumptions that when Bob Brown retires they will fade away is wishful thinking. We shall have to see but I strongly doubt it.

    On the issues of sustainability, climate change and the environment if you think that settling the issue of a carbon tax will deal with the concerns about sustainability and the future of human community and take away the GReens reason for existence you are again I think that the issues will be with us in all sorts of ways and will continue to press upon our political process and be a source of continuing controversy.

    We agree that the Greens will remain a minority the question is how much of a minority. My suspicion is that they will be a slowly growing minority – with some bounces up and down around a slight upward trend.

  26. DB assessment is correct, if Greens couldnt take advantage of this election then when can they ever take advantage? Didnt they say this was the biggest swing in history or something? The NSW Labor government was probably the worst govt in Australian history. Look at all the scandal and corruption… If Australia was a country in the middle east we would of thrown these people out a long time ago…

    Why did the people vote for Liberal in labor heartlands instead of the Greens?

    I think the Labor left is too blame just as much as the Labor right. In seeking to please the Greens, Labor alienated a lot of conservative labor voters in western sydney and this contributed to the result… I have lost count of the number of people that have said to me – “this is the first time I have ever voted Liberal”… mostly working class ethnic conservatives…

    I think the next few years will be tough for NSW Labor and this provides an opportunity for minor parties to take advantage.

  27. The Greens didn’t perform as well as many of us had hoped given the unpopularity of Labor, however this doesn’t mean anything is drastically wrong with the Greens or how we campaigned. Of course you guys who don’t agree with our values, policies and principles are going to tell us that we’re doing everything wrong, but we can’t measure ourselves by the judgments of our opponents or the media. The Greens aren’t going to become a major party or smash the two party system any time soon, indeed maybe never, incremental growth is the reality for us, and our primary reason for existence is to promote our values and principles, not simply win elections.

    People were desperate to change the government, and the Greens aren’t seen as a ‘party of government’, particularly given the context of a two party system. O’Farrell was effective at presenting a moderate image which made him appear palatable to many progressive leaning voters, especially given how disgusted they were with the former government.

  28. 2015 could be an better opportunity for the Greens than 2011, actually. There’ll be the rebuilding of a decimated left-of-(parliamentary)-centre to happen, which could benefit the Greens plenty if they manage to look better than Labor to the many disgusted Labor voters who voted straight Lib this time to boot out the govt. That’s IF, guys…

    Here’s my perspective from Perth. If I lived over there, I’d’ve probably voted Green 1, Lib 2 (despite my love of OPV and wish that my state had it), as the first vote gets a potential Greens MP (not gonna happen in 95% of seats), and the second vote helps get rid of NSW Labor. I remain slightly more fond of Labor than the Libs here, even though they’re complete non-entities (hands up, who can tell me who the WA opposition leader is without googling it?), but I think of your Labor branch as the nearest thing Australia has to the mafia. I’m very glad they’re gone.

    The exception to that hypothetical voting pattern would’ve been if I lived in Marrickville – I would’ve quite possibly voted 1 Lib and nothing else there. I generally like the Greens more than Labor, but trots annoy me and so do people who bang on about Israel and Palestine when they’re supposed to be talking about the place where they are. I don’t like some things the Israeli govt does either, but surely it’d be better to talk about issues like, say, how Sydney’s train network is totally stuffed and how the Greens would run it better? (I’ve been to Sydney once, several years ago for a few days, and my main memory was how hard it was to get to Kellyville after 5pm without somebody’s car to pick me up, and getting stuck on a creaky old broken-down train somewhere near Strathfield for half an hour.) Look at another Green, Scott Ludlam – one of his pet topics is a light rail network for Perth. Some his ideas are quite pie-in-the-sky, but at least it relates to something very obviously local. Buying oranges imported from Israel grown by a farmer who might or might not have voted for the hard-line Zionist parties really isn’t a massive issue to me. (Plenty of people with questionable politics come from the Riverina, too.) I do know the issue was overblown by the Australian with their intent of destroying the Greens, but it still annoyed me that it was allowed to be an issue at all. The NSW Greens need to kick some of those Green Left Weekly pet causes out and leave them for Socialist Alternative et al.

  29. BoP’s view from Perth is a pretty good one, and it looks pretty similar here from where I sit (inner west). I have a long memory and some knowledge of the destruction the Trots and their fellow travellers (now there’s an old fashioned term) have inflicted on our Councils and Labor branches over many decades.

    I’m not sure why views formed in the 60s and 70s (and have zero relevance in 2011) have hardened into an implacable dogma and are still driving the way politics are conducted in the NSW Greens. Step into a Leichhardt or Marrickvile Council meeting today and you are immediately transported back to your SRC and university politics circa 1975 – 1985.Look around the gallery at the sea of grey hair, or go to any of the Nimby property protest rallies that the Greens organise and you’ll even spot the same people

    The Cold War is over. Capitalism won. The Nimbys are all property millionaires anyway.

    And I’ve just looked over all the predictions posted here in the 17 Days To Go and Reckless predictions threads. Did anyone NOT give Balmian and Marrickville to the Greens?

    I’m not “crowing”. I gave Balmain to the Greens myself– on Labor prefs, which could even still happen. Though on a much more slender margin that I ever imagined. Marrickvile I was always pretty confident of (for Tebbutt) because of the BDS. But in the face of the overwhelming certainty posted here, I was wavering…

  30. I live in the Balmain electorate and could see the lack of enthusiasm for Parker. Its interesting that the PV was split three ways, along a geographical split (from the polling booths figures. The three way split: Glebe and the east of the seat for Firth (ALP), Balmain/Rozelle/Birchgrove for Parker (probably payback to Labor for the Rozelle Metro and Iron Cove duplication), and the west (Haberfield/Annandale along the border with Drummoyne) for the Liberals. When is it time for a redistribution?

  31. Greens will keep on doing alright for the polls. I merely think their rise has been arrested, I don’t think they’re going away any time soon.

    There’ll always be progressives, there’ll always be environmentalists, these aren’t movements which you eliminate by passing a legislation or two, though I expect after Gay Marriage is passed (Sorry Boutros and other social conservatives, it’s the way the wind is blowing and the demographics are heading, even a considerable amount of Liberals now support gay marriage. This is an issue where the electorate has moved past both the major parties and I think it’s one of the big reasons the Greens are gaining so much ground) social progressives will take a back seat for a while as equal marriage rights is one of the last battles in terms of civil rights.

    But none the less, barring some kind of huge Democrat style factional infighting or wholesale betrayal of their base, Greens will be alright.

    BoP: well being from Perth you are blessed with Scott Ludlum who is one of my favorite Greens members, for many of the reasons you listed, he is an ideologue who pragmatically works for the betterment of genuinely everyone. However I daresay if you took a closer look at East Coast politics you’d see that the trots in Green disguise you rail against are actually the overwhelming majority of Greens in the East Coast.

    Boutros: honestly I have no idea why you don’t just straight up join the Liberal Party. All your time here all I’ve heard you rail about is NSW Labor, social progressives and then some vague one liners against social engineering and socialism (which as people have correctly pointed out, no parts of the ALP has been socialist in like…three decades).

    What is it that you believe that makes you confident you should belong in the DLP (which at the end of the day, is a Labour/Social Democratic Party) over the Liberals? Do you believe in social justice? Do you believe in more economic equity? Do you believe that government should be an active force for good? Do you believe that the most vulnerable members of the society need to be taken care of socially and economically? Even at the cost of economic freedom/market efficiency?

  32. Crazed mongoose

    Probably should omit ACT Greens from your account of Greens on the East Coast – elected Greens representatives are proving a highly pragmatic bunch in the ACT Assembly and their selection of the Senate candidate for the 2010 election in the ACT, Lin Hatfield-Dodds – former President of ACOSS and Director of Uniting Care national office, brought out a strong community response – not quite enough to topple the Liberal senator – but enough to get him very cranky during the campaign.

  33. Crazedmongoose… In response to your question, I think I do not agree with most things the Liberals say or do…. i believe in social justice which I also call Christian charity. Govt should be a force for good not so much social welfare but just implementing policies that support the common good – infrastructure, health, education. The most vulnerable in society including unborn babies and elderly should be protected. I believe in better economic equity not just in terms of wealth allocation but capital allocation as well. Every person should have the means of production not just wealthy or the state aka small business and co-operatives. I do not support monopolies or oligopolies which the Libs seem to prop up… Market efficiency works but sometimes it can be manipulated by big business and govt should legislate protection for consumers and families.

    However unlike socialism, I believe in subsidarity which means that decisions should be made at the lowest possible level of govt or association when it comes to implementing economic and social policies… for example, NGOs and charities is a better model than the “Welfare State” model currently adopted by both major parties…

  34. Okay fair enough Boutros. I can respect that answer. Sorry if I offended before, but I get plenty of Labor bashing from all quarters and a lot of it is quite misplaced.

    Doug: Well when I was talking East Coast I meant NSW and Vic. Haven’t looked into ACT and I quite like Larissa Waters (or what I’ve seen of her) in QLD.

  35. Lopo: well haha I asked because I am involved in organizing Young Labor, which is for under 26′s, and we always need good people in the North. However I wouldn’t have any jurisdiction/resource/right to organize for the senior party.

    However if you want to be involved in the rebuilding at all, tomorrow there’s something potentially big (potential being a key word, nobody really knows what it is, I’ll certainly be there to check it out) going on at AMWU near Central Station in the afternoon, after the pro-climate action rally. It’s a bunch of rank and file/more local level Labor members, branch presidents, councilors, organizers and activists meeting about rebuilding and reforming NSW Labor.

    So if you want to get involved in reforming NSW Labor, this may be the place, again I make no promises because I, and nobody really, knows what this meeting is going to be like.

    You can get more details here: http://ouralp.net/

  36. @Crazedmongoose, I would love to attend your meeting tomorrow, unfortunately having kids & being trainer for his Rugby League team, I am occupied tomorrow afternoon (I gave up playing soccer this year as so I could assist with his Footy team)

    I like the fact that members of the ALP are willing to hold a meeting (and when I say members I say the REAL members, the ones who no one really appreciates). It’s the everyday members/supporters who unfortunately are left to ponder & group together to pick up the pieces.

    I have always said that the ALP needs to get back to being the party that it was first formed to represent. Their would be quite a few ALP members/leaders/supporters who would be turning in their graves to see what this once strong party is becoming. After what we all ensured over the past 4 years in NSW, what we lived through last Saturday & what the Federal ALP has & is wanting to put forward is enough for members/supporters to stand up & say “Enough is Enough” it’s time we all put our ego’s aside & get back to what we should be doing, that is doing what is best for all Australian’s, we need to look back at the great work Bob Hawke did as PM, & from both sides of politics, Bob was a well respected PM who did what was best for the Australian Public. No wonder he was much loved by the people of Australia, he did what was RIGHT for the people of today & the future, he did not let the power get to his head & he needs to be honoured for that.

    I get so upset when I read about the ALP Right has the numbers or the ALP Left wants to do this. Right, Left, centre or whatever has to take a BIG backward step & all have to get together to REBUILD trust, loyalty & importantly RESPECT with it’s memebrs/supporters & the everyday voting & future voting Auatralian’s. Factions & getting your members to support you is not what is best for the party, what is best is who is best to lead, the one who can bring all sides (within the party) together to work as ONE TEAM with the ONE GOAL!

    I would be happy to get correspondance from tomorrow’s meeting & read as to what was discussed. Or be free to pass on what I have written above. If you have an external email I would be happy to get emails/updates from you with relation to what progresses are happing in the party. You seem to be a member who has his head screwed on & want to do what is best for the party. Their needs to be more good people like yourself.

    Again, I am sorry if I expressed myself in a way that may offend some, but from an outsider you can see what is happening to a once great party!

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