Canberra – Australia 2022

ALP 17.1%

Incumbent MP
Alicia Payne, since 2019.

Geography
The seat of Canberra covers the central suburbs of the city of Canberra, including Civic, the Parliamentary Triangle, the inner north and south and parts of Belconnen (Bruce, Cook, Kaleen, Lawson and Hawker) and Woden Valley (Curtin, Garran, Hughes and Lyons).

History

The Australian Capital Territory first elected an MP from 1949 onwards, although this MP was only given full voting rights in 1968. Canberra was created in 1974 when the ACT gained a second seat, and the existing electorate was divided into Fraser and Canberra. The ACT gained a third electorate, Namadgi, at the 1996 election.

At the 1996 election, Canberra was redrawn into an inner-city electorate, similar to its current arrangement. This arrangement was rewound when the ACT lost its third seat in 1998, so for most of the territory’s history it has only elected two members: one northern and one southern.

Both seats have been reasonably safe for Labor for most of their history. The only break in Labor’s control happened at the 1995 Canberra by-election, which was won by the Liberal Party. Labor won back this seat in 1996.

The redistribution prior to the 2019 election restored the ACT’s third electorate. The southern electorate was renamed “Bean” with the name Canberra applied to a new central electorate. This seat was won by Labor candidate Alicia Payne.

Candidates

Assessment
Canberra is safe as long as the race is Labor vs Liberal. If the Greens overtake the Liberal Party (the gap in 2019 was 4.5% on primary votes) the race would likely be closer, but the Greens are still some way away from beating Labor, and would be reliant on unreliable Liberal preferences.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Alicia Payne Labor 34,98940.5-2.0
Mina Zaki Liberal 24,06327.8-4.9
Tim Hollo Greens 20,14423.3+4.6
Tim BohmIndependent4,0624.7+4.7
Robert KnightProgressives1,7842.1+2.1
Greg De MaineUnited Australia Party1,3611.6+1.6
Informal1,9042.2-0.1

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Alicia Payne Labor 57,96167.1+4.1
Mina Zaki Liberal 28,44232.9-4.1

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Canberra have been divided into three areas: inner north, inner south and Belconnen. The inner south includes the parts of Woden Valley contained in this electorate.

The Labor two-party-preferred vote ranged from 65% in the inner south to 76.4% in the inner north.

The Liberal Party came second, with a primary vote ranging from 19.3% in the inner north to 30.1% in the inner south. The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 20.3% in the inner south to 32.9% in the inner north.

Voter groupGRN primLIB primALP 2PPTotal votes% of votes
Inner North32.919.376.418,20521.1
Inner South20.330.165.017,19819.9
Belconnen22.026.268.411,35613.1
Pre-poll20.731.063.732,01537.1
Other votes20.132.361.47,6298.8

Election results in Canberra at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party and the Greens.

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Labor Retain.

    Greens could beat Libs into second place on primaries. If Liberals decide (unlikely) reverse their how-to-vote card strategy could be a close race between Labor and Greens.

    But Labor should still retain the seat. But clearly the ACT Greens are putting effort in the electorate.

  2. Liberals preferenced Greens over Labor in the recent QLD and WA state elections, and in some (but not all) seats in the NT election.

    Another factor that might lead to Liberals preferencing Greens is Albanese being in a Labor vs Green seat. Liberals could soften his margin. We saw in QLD how a decision to preference Greens in a single seat led to an electorate wide decision.

    Labor likely would rather deploy Canberra based resources in Eden Monaro, but a Greens threat could divert resources away from the traditional marginal into an otherwise safe ALP seat.

    All that to say I don’t think it’s as unlikely as in 2019 that Liberals will preference Greens, putting this seat, Cooper and Wills in the frame. Greens also have much more to work with after their 2020 territory election result and I’ll be surprised if they cant push Labor into 2nd.

    The most interesting an ACT based seat has been in a long time.

  3. Why would the Liberals preference the Greens? That is a totally cynical move as it would be against the Liberals ideology. But then again” Faux Mo” Morrison isn’t ideological, and is interested much more in politics than principles.

  4. The Libs would preference the Greens to damage Labor, because I suppose they’d think a hypothetical Greens MP might vote with them more than a Labor person would, which is actually very much wrong, given the fact Labor support a lot of controversial LNP bills with the opposition of the Greens (think coal mines, minor party registration stuff etc.)

  5. Historically, the core Liberal reason for existence is opposition to the Labor party. Indeed up until maybe 2007 the Liberals usually preferenced Greens over Labor because the Greens weren’t so solidly entrenched yet as a left-wing party, and it made sense for them to just put Labor last.

    Nowadays it’s more complicated of course, but if I were a Liberal strategist I’d preference Greens over Labor in everything that looked like a Greens target seat. It sows no end of division among the opponents! Sometimes Labor supporters even start posting shit on social media about imagined Greens-Liberal preference deals, which wastes everybody’s time for a week. Meanwhile, every seat the Greens pick up is one less available for a Labor majority government.

  6. Van Badham said something along the lines of – the Greens, who weren’t going to come first or second, preferences a guy who also wasn’t going to win over Labor, who also weren’t going to win! The Greens shouldn’t exist!!! Meanwhile, Labor have supported tax cuts for the wealthy, and also removed a number of popular policies from their Medicare proposals, like breast cancer treatment subsidization. I suppose the Liberals are at least less ambivalent about climate policy than Labor, which in that party is a tug of war between two equally dominant forces, who end up having this compromise 43% target.

  7. Greens are targeting this seat and have opened a campaign office. They’ve campaigned hard before but never for the lower house.

    Only seat in their “top 8” where LNP are likely to come 3rd on primaries – the others are either Liberal held, or have Prahran type dynamics where it’s a battle to come 2nd and leapfrog LNP on preferences.

  8. If the Libs come third, which seems likely, then I don’t see what the path to victory is in Canberra that doesn’t exist in Wills or Cooper.

    Their general attitude seems delusional if not deceitful. One Nation might be down on 2019, but the rise in UAP, LDP and other anti-vax right-wing parties more than makes up for it, and preferences will flow between them, so the chance of Hanson not being returned are slim. Canberra has the same problem as Wills and Cooper, Richmond is a chestnut thoroughly cracked on its own thread, Kooyong looks to be going exactly the way Warringah and Wentworth did.

    The article for those interested: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/02/19/greens-reveal-their-target-seats/164518920013357#mtr

  9. @Furtive right wing preference discipline is actually quite poor – it’s how Animal Justice beat Leyonhjelm in NSW legislative council.

    I think PHON will get reelected with Hanson herself running but it’s not a sure thing.

    Agree on Kooyong – Greens will struggle to remain ahead of both Labor and Voices unless they secure a preference deal with Labor. Burnside was able to trounce Yates.

    Labor primary is lower in Canberra but agree it’s the same deal as Cooper and Wills.

  10. I’m not sure exactly how it all thrashes out but from memory, the flows from UAP and ON tend to be about 70% to the Coalition. Not quite as disciplined as GRN->ALP, but conservatives overwhelmingly benefit from each other’s preference flows.

    And although I didn’t rate it as a possibility worth mentioning even a few months ago, there’s at least a reasonable chance the LNP loses on 3PP in Griffith as well, given the way they’ve been getting slaughtered in the inner city lately.

  11. The Greens talk themselves talk themselves up like this before every election and there are sections of the media that swallow it hook line and sinker. The article is really lazy journalism – the Greens won’t win 12 senate seats – they might have 12 senate seats if they win six. Yes, Adam Bandt has a majority of 22% over the Liberals – and yes he would have won – but what would have the majority been if the ALP candidate had not been disendorsed? The “Voices of …” candidates are going to eat into the Greens vote so where are they going to pick up elsewhere?

  12. Furtive Lawngnome
    Totally agree that the LNP could come third in Griffith. In Canberra, the question is how the Libs preference. It is only competitive if they preference to the Greens over Labor.
    If the primary vote is like this
    ALP – 39
    GRN – 31
    LIB – 25
    OTH – 5
    Payne would be defeated if only 64% of lib/oth voters preferenced to the greens.

  13. Redistributed – ALP won’t win Melbourne. Maybe there’ll be a swing against Bandt, maybe a swing towards. But he’s consistently added to his margin at every single election. Even if the Libs’ HTV preferences against him the Labor candidate isn’t likely to get a lot more than 2/3 of those Liberal preferences anyway, and there’s still a ton of minor progressive party preferences that will flow a lot better for him. AFAIK Voices aren’t running against him.

    As for the senate, I think the implication is that they would have 12 senators in total, ie win one from every state this year, not win 12 *new* senators. The only states I see that conceivably being a problem are Queensland and NSW, NSW being a bit riskier than QLD (basically QLD gets 2 ALP senators but doesn’t keep enough preference flows to get PAP up, and Voices have a fantastic year in NSW, direct Senate preferences to ALP or the Libs, then Shoebridge misses out). But they’re both pretty unlikely scenarios when the Greens’ generic vote is still at or above 10%.

    Marko – yes that’s the point. For Canberra, Cooper and Wills, everything depends on the Liberal HTV.

  14. I would add that a 60% preference flow rate from Liberal to Greens is a reasonable target, and can be achieved comfortably if the HTV is assigned correctly. That was about the rate that Adam Bandt won using Liberal preferences in 2010.

  15. @Redistributed

    “the Greens won’t win 12 senate seats – they might have 12 senate seats if they win six”

    That’s… what having 12 senate seats means. The Green are hoping to win a senate seat in each state in May to increase their total sitting senate numbers to 12.

  16. Greens would have won Batman and Wills in 2016, and even Batman in 2013 with the Liberal preference flows Bandt got in 2010 (80/20 in his favour!)

    In Wills 2019 the Liberals withdrew and preferences were about 50/50, but Khalil’s primary was too high and Greens had a primary vote swing against them. Greens barely made top 2 in Cooper 2019, but they basically ran dead.

    The ALP primary in Canberra is low enough that it really will come down to the way Liberals preference. 3 party preferred was 43/31/26 (compared to 47/21/32 in Wills 2019). Hypothetically if Liberal votes split 80/20 in Greens favour, Greens win. Greens would be hoping for something like 40/28/32 with a favourable HTV. But the name of the game is flipping Liberals more than Labor – making the runoff is an achievable goal and will cement Greens as the competitors even if they don’t win.

  17. Alicia Payne came out today & advocated not the decriminalisation but the legalisation of all drugs . Whilst i agree with this CONDITIONALLY on the basis of it being a proven policy success overseas, this woman is a complete moron.
    Idiot Payne has failed to discriminate between drugs that cause psychosis & those that don’t. Nowhere has ice & PCP ETC BEEN LEGALISED. You have to wonder what kind of idiot would think this was a good idea. There is a huge difference between weed, opiates & chemical drugs that send people insane.

  18. @WD – you raise a number of good points particularly around drugs that cause psychosis but I was pleased to see Payne raise drugs as an election issue.

    No body else in the major parties seems to have the courage to do so. The problem with criminalization is that people who are caught possessing drugs get a record and have difficulty finding employment and obtain visas to enter foreign countries for a pretty trivial (and arguably largely victimless) crime. The punishment is disproportionate to the crime.

    The police (in NSW at least) have been strip searching minors at train stations on pretty flimsy pretexts for suspected possession.

    Drug dealers don’t file BASs or Income Tax returns meaning lost revenue to the Govt – without even considering the excise that should be imposed on a “bad” legal product.

    Drug dealers can’t go to court to get their agreements enforced so they resort to violence and illegal guns etc (and then tit for tat revenge killings) which leads to organised crime.

    And people won’t get medical help in case the police are brought in. Or don’t have a medicare card because they are of “no fixed address” after leaving prison.

    Drugs do destroy lives but after 50 years of “war on drugs” (I believe Nixon first coined the phrase) it is a bit hard to support the proposition that criminalisation of drugs has (ever) worked. How did prohibition of alcohol end in the US? And, indeed decriminalization for users (as opposed to dealers) seems to have worked overseas. My (and President Obama’s) favorite tv series – the Wire – is based in Baltimore and last year they effectively decriminalized possession for drugs by electing to not prosecute users. Excerpt of article from the Times:

    ——————–
    In the very first episode of The Wire one Baltimore narcotics detective turns to another and says that the war on drugs is a misnomer because “wars end”.
    Now the city’s real life police officers are facing exactly the working conditions that Ellis Carver and Thomas “Herc” Hauk were unable to imagine in the HBO drama.
    Baltimore’s top prosecutor has effectively decriminalised possession of all drugs, along with prostitution and other minor street crimes, arguing that the existing approach had failed to improve public safety in one of America’s most dangerous cities and was disproportionately punishing non-white people.
    “America’s war on drug users is over in the city of Baltimore,” said Marilyn Mosby. “We leave behind the era of tough-on-crime prosecution and zero tolerance policing and no longer default to the status quo to criminalise mostly people of colour for addiction.”
    Brandon Scott, the mayor of the east coast port city, applauded her decision, stating that “re¬imagining public safety in Baltimore requires innovation and collaborative effort”.
    ——————–
    Even the war on terror and Vietnam war ended. Both in defeat – although the jury is probably still out on the war on terror.

    The irony of course is that the criminalization of drugs is largely a State matter and would have to be dealt with through each State Parliaments. It is unlikely that Federal Parliament would legislate on this matter for the ACT or NT given both the Territories have their own self-governments and parliaments.

    I understand that Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs (although fines may still be levied it does not result in a criminal convictions). Drugs are also confiscated. But the point is drug usage is seen as a health issue not a criminal issue and the evidence suggests it leads to better societal outcomes.

    And if the cops aren’t chasing teenagers who have some weed in their pockets then they can spend some time chasing the people who abuse politicians, particularly females, on social media or other internet based “carriage” system (read e-mail). Or any of the other crimes that are not pursued – anyone else received a false invoice or internet scam?

    If nothing else, Payne has got herself on the front page in an election campaign (albeit faux) in an electorate that has a large university student population. And we are discussing…..

    Best Pollster

  19. Federal legislation would supercede state legislation, surely?

    Whatever the merits of total legalisation, I doubt the federal party even has the courage to legalise cannabis, let alone any of the more fun ones. And I don’t remember the last time an ALP MP had the courage to defy the whip.

  20. It depends what the policy is, and I think on issues like drug law reform particularly most politicians would prefer to remain inside the tent agitating for changes to Labor policy than to sacrifice their career over what is probably going to end up being a symbolic vote.

  21. Well it’s interesting how many Labor politicians seem to spend their lives ‘agitating’ while their party drifts further and further right. I have a feeling we’re not going to agree on this so I’ll leave it by reiterating that Payne probably won’t do anything about drug policy despite her rhetoric. The only way I see Australia’s drug laws being liberalised at the federal level is if the Greens basically make them do it, or Albo finds a way of blaming it on the Greens, even if the majority of Australians support it.

  22. Pollster
    Thanks for taking the trouble to fully ventilate the entire subject. I wholeheartedly agree with you on all points. If people want to fuck themselves up (completely !!) they have a right to. Why should we try to stop them ? Whenever a teenage (WD) Junior gave himself a well deserved hangover, i’d simply say (with a smirk) “Hurt yourself -again . didn’t you “!!? Didn’t stop it, but it might have encouraged consideration, perhaps moderation.

    As i said in my post i don’t think the voting public will tolerate drugs that cause psychotic violence. The mistake Payne & her moronic fellow travellers make, is that they are fanatical, & can’t conceive that their PURIST demands need moderation. Or exeptions , & sanctions for balance
    cheers wd

    Dryad & FL you would be alarmed at how much i agree with you both !!

  23. Victimless? Drug use is hardly victimless, just ask any woman who feels afraid walking home at night. And in an election where women are standing up and saying we’re tired of being ignored, especially having our safety concerns ignored, I wouldn’t suggest now would be a good time to be arguing for the decriminalisation of that “victimless” crime…

  24. If the Senate poll released today is anywhere near accurate, the Liberals are on the nose in the ACT and are highly likely to slip to third in Canberra.

  25. All the talk about drug decriminalisation etc really talks to the fact the Payne is the member for the Inner North, not Canberra. She’s a strong member of Parliament, but the only time she ever does anything in the electorate is to pander to Greens voters (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!). A good example is her petition against moving the Service Australia storefront from Braddon to Gunghalin (which is next to an accessible light rail station that actually travels through the Inner North?). Clearly she’s afraid of Hollo.

    Labor can comfortably rely on the Inner South ‘wet’ Liberals absolutely detesting Scott Morrison (Labor winning Yarralumla? who would have thought!). Ignoring the ‘inner ring’ of Belconnen feels ignorant as this area warms up to the Greens. On these borders Labor will always hold the seat, but if it becomes more marginal it may distract funds from Queanbeyan/ Tuggeranong i.e areas where Labor actually should direct money.

    On a seperate note, yes Zed will hold on to his Senate seat, but the Lib base in the Inner South will be devoured by Pocock and Rubenstein (for the past two months I haven’t been able to walk around Deakin or Manuka shops without seeing friendly Kim for Canberra volunteers!)

  26. Looking at the the 2019 votes the question is what happens to the Progressive votes as they won’t be running this time and the Independent if he does;st run – if a substantial percentage go to the Greens there is a chance of them heading the LNP candidate. Two things to note is that in 2019 the Greens candidate had a substantial swing 4.6% that didn’t happen for the Greens candidates in Bean & Fenner. Greens also snagged two seats out of 5 in Kurrajong the overlapping seat in the ACT Assembly.

  27. My old seat. I’m very, very biased, but the Greens’ campaign here is going to be the strongest of the three parties in terms of field, ad spending, and visibility with yard signs / office etc. It will have an impact.

    I’m curious to see where the Progressive / Ind vote goes from 2019, and I’m also curious to see what happens with the Senate voters who go for Rubinstein / Huynh or Pocock. If they’re voting on climate or integrity in the Senate you’d think they’d consider it in the House, too.

    Do any Canberrans have a sense of where the parties / indies are focusing their campaigns geographically?

  28. (This may be of interest @ Josh) I’m an Inner South resident, and so far I’ve received 5 political letters in the mail from Pocock, 1 Liberal about Seselja and 2 more from the Liberals accusing Pocock of being to the left of Mao.

    Driving on Yarra Glen it was only largely Pocock and Seselja signs, then about a week later some token Gallagher ones appeared (because they have to pretend they’re trying). Payne? Nothing. Hollo? Not even a sign (south of the lake).

    Pocock has a really interesting approach to selling himself. I can’t speak for Tuggeranong/ Gungahlin but he has been doing a lot of community forums in Denman Prospect and Phillip specifically. Unlike Rubenstein who seems to have limited herself to the inner suburbs, Pocock is really going all out in Labor areas that are pretty well off, but you wouldn’t traditionally think of as voting independent. Pocock will hurt the Liberals but will also bite into the Labor vote a little, so it’s hard to tell if this will translate a great deal to the seat of CBR itself.

  29. I believe the Greens don’t do roadside signs in the ACT which probably solves that question, however there are fence signs going out. If they won 6 seats at the territory election with this strategy, why not keep going with it?

  30. As with most of the green target seats the real key is getting to number two spot. Now if there is a big swing against the Liberals of which most lands with the Greens then combined with a general generational trend towards the Greens from the ALP, i the Greens might get ahead of the Liberals.

    In this case if the Liberal preferences go solidly to the Greens then they just might win it, but this is a very big call.

  31. @Bob: Deakin is a quiet, leafy, affluent area. The suburbs served by the Deakin booth (Deakin and Forrest) are as close to “old money” as you can get in Canberra. Other affluent areas are balanced out by apartment renters, but very little of that in Deakin.

    If anything it’s surprising that it isn’t stronger for Liberals. “Looks like Killara, votes like Cessnock”

  32. That part of Canberra (near the Deakin booth) is one of the most obscenely rich parts of the entire country. It’s a sprawl of mansions. It’s significantly more affluent than even Killara.

  33. @Nicholas – indeed, so compared to Toorak or Vaucluse, Liberals are surprisingly weak.

    It’s an even more pronounced effect in other areas. Aranda is an upmarket and established leafy suburb – 78% Labor 2PP (with 30% Green vote). Canberra is a weird place.

    Canberra is full of voters who don’t need to worry about money, but don’t have the business mindset. So they’re the least likely to vote on either hip pocket issues or taxes. All that to say if Greens win, they will keep it for the foreseeable future and will become very competitive in Bean and Fenner as well.

  34. I remember once doing a plot of median income against 2PP. Outside of a cluster of rural electorates with high Coalition vote but low income, the ACT electorates were the most notable outliers.

  35. The ACT electorates are indeed outliers this maybe due to the fact that unlike other super wealthy electorates it tends to Public servants including in the suburb of Deakin rather than those in the Corporate sector. Other outliers for affluent seats include Macnamara, Grayndler, Griffith and Jagajaga.

  36. I’d think that would almost entirely account for how the ACT votes. I’d find it very hard to vote for a party with a reputation of causing job losses and pay cuts in the sector I work in.

  37. I think this will be a Green gain.

    My pick for the biggest surprise of the election, as even the Greens have de-emphasised Canberra being “winnable” lately, and Labor don’t seem to have tried particularly hard on anti-Green messaging and electoral misinformation here (compared to Brisbane/Ryan/Griffith, and Richmond). Perhaps the claim that Pocock could take Gallagher’s seat rather than Zed’s seat is a proxy campaign to drive up ALP 1 votes in Canberra against Greens?

    I think Greens in the lower house will be the beneficiary of David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein’s campaigns, so I expect a decent primary vote swing to them at the expense of both majors. My prediction in the senate is that the Greens will do about as well as usual, even if Pocock takes a big bite out of the major parties (Rubenstein will be a fizzer).

    But more importantly Liberals are running open tickets. For some reason the Liberals are running open tickets in the ACT only, while they are preferencing Labor over Greens in every other relevant seat (e.g. Cooper, Wills). Preference flows from Liberals without an HTV go 50/50 between Labor and Greens, but they could be even stronger for Greens. This is both due to booth work, but also I have long suspected that Canberra Liberal voters do so more out of dislike for the ALP in particular, and they will appreciate the opportunity to have someone other than a Labor hack represent a Canberra seat for the first time in a long time.

    If the Greens don’t quite make it, my more confident prediction is that it will be an ALP vs Green marginal seat on the 2 Candidate Preferred.

    Anyway, it’s nice for the ACT to actually be electorally relevant for once.

  38. Fun fact… with the loss of Deakin (and I believe one in Gordon too), the entirety of the ACT is only Labor booths. Even for a city like Canberra that is an amazing result. Anecdotally, I voted at Bruce today and there was not a single Liberal volunteer at the booth for the ~20 minutes I was there.

  39. I got this one wrong. Greens did make it to 2nd but with such a small swing that the narrative is more “Liberals did badly” than “Greens are the 2nd party now”.

    I thought that Pocock and Rubenstein voters would also vote Green in the Lowe et house. Doesn’t seem like it (will need to check data).

    Liberal preferences don’t seem all that strong (will also need to check data after full distribution).

    In the end, Payne got a sophomore surge, Labor actually campaigned for once (due to the poll that suggested a possible Seselja/Pocock senate result), and public servants generally think a Labor majority government suits them just fine.

    Greens need to really build the case for having a member. Pocock will be a good indication of what a non major party MP can do for Canberra.

    Greens should at least be confident that the 2020 ACT result wasn’t a fluke and they should be able to hold all their seats.

  40. Greens didn’t win a single booth 2PP. They won the primary vote in some like Dickson and the City but lost after preferences.

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