Australia is likely to go to the polls in a few months – the shortest odds are for a May election.
After the Coalition’s internal disarray and leadership swaps, many have assumed Moonee Valley will find itself hosting Australia’s next Prime Minister – Maribyrnong member, Bill Shorten.
But the latest Ipsos opinion poll – putting the ALP at 51% to the Coalition’s 49% – has challenged this assumption. (Notably, this poll of 1200 voters has a margin of error of 2.9%.)
My records tell me that the last Ipsos poll before the July 2016 election recorded a similar result – and the Coalition narrowly won a few days later.
For those of us in Moonee Valley perhaps a little excited about hosting our first Prime Minister (or maybe excited about a future government that believes in climate change and doesn’t want to deny refugees medical treatment … author’s honesty breaking through), it’s worth looking at just what it will take for the ALP to win the next federal election.
In 2016, Labor won 14 seats – taking it from 55 to 69 seats out of the 150 in the House of Representatives. The Coalition’s representation dropped from 90 to 76. After a number of by-elections and resignations, the current split in the House is:
|INDEPENDENT||4||2 (Wilkie, McG.)||4 (+ Phelps, Banks)|
A redistribution of electorates last year by the AEC resulted in two new seats being created (Bean and Fraser) and one being abolished (Port Adelaide). The ALP is expected to win Bean (ACT) and Fraser (VIC), and drop one seat in the removal of Port Adelaide (sitting ALP MP Mark Butler has become the candidate for Hindmarsh).
ALP 70 + Coalition 74 + 7 other = 151
With a new total of 151 seats, the magic number for majority government (with a speaker) is either 77 or 76. If a party wins 76 seats, the nomination of a speaker reduces the number by one, but I believe the speaker can cast a deciding vote in the case of a 75/75 tie. Obviously, winning 77 seats would provide for a more comfortable majority.
So to form a majority government, the ALP needs to win another 6 or 7 seats – as well as retain the seats won in 2016.
The seats they will be working hard to retain probably include:
- NSW – Lindsay, Eden-Monaro, Macquarie, Barton, Macarthur, Dobell
- QLD – Longman
- TAS – Braddon, Lyons, Bass
- NT – Solomon
Provided they hold on to all 68 seats, and collect Fraser and Bean, they will have to win six or seven of any of the following seats to win majority government (the notional margins from the AEC based on new boundaries and previous election results are in brackets).
- Corangamite (0.03% in favour of ALP) VIC
- Dunkley (1.03% in favour of ALP) VIC
- Capricornia (0.63% in favour of Coalition) QLD
- Forde (0.63% in favour of Coalition) QLD
- Gilmore (0.73% in favour of Coalition) NSW
- Flynn (1.04% in favour of Coalition) QLD
- Dickson (1.69% in favour of Coalition) QLD
- Chisholm (2.91% in favour of Coalition) VIC
- La Trobe (3.22% in favour of Coalition) VIC
Note the concentration of seats in Victoria and Queensland – two very different states. Of course, there are other electorates the ALP could try to win from the Coalition or independents, but these are some of the seats with the smallest nominal margins.
(NB – I’m not exactly sure how the AEC calculates these notional margins and whether they are affected by the high numbers of people now voting early and away from local polling booths. These margins may prove to be guesstimates).
The Age has reported that Labor is also targeting the seats of Casey (4.54%), Deakin (6.44%), Flinders (7.01%) and Aston (7.41%) – margins in brackets.
GetUp is also believed to be targeting Menzies, Warringah, Dickson and possibly Kooyong – although GetUp is not aligned with any political party.
Of course, the ALP could form a minority government with the support of the Greens (unlikely to lose Melbourne) and possibly Andrew Wilkie if he wins the newly named seat of Clark (previously Denison), but this is probably not their preferred option.
Additionally, there are other very marginal seats that the ALP will have to work hard to retain including Herbert in Queensland, which the ALP won by 37 votes in 2016, and Cowan in Western Australia.
There are also the challenges to fend off from the Victorian Greens in Macnamara (formerly Melbourne Ports – 1.21%), Cooper (formerly Batman – 1.27%) and Wills (4.93%).
At the Victorian state election in November 2018, we saw the sitting Labor government win in a landslide. This seemed to be the result of a huge advertising spend, and a lacklustre opposition with no money and even fewer policies. The Liberal campaign on fear in Victoria failed spectacularly.
All indications are that the current federal government still believes it can win elections based on (unfounded) fear of refugees and migrants. It seems to continue to ignore the growing constituency who are much more afraid of catastrophic climate change.
Moonee Valley may well play host to Australia’s next Prime Minister, but only if the battles on the ground in about two dozen electorates fall Labor’s way, and if the good people of Australia aren’t seduced by fear mongering and race-based politics that continues to stain our international reputation.
UPDATE: In fact, as we now all know, the ALP lost the election.
Of the seats it was trying to retain, it lost Braddon, Bass, Lindsay, Longman and Herbert.
- NSW – Lindsay
- QLD – Longman, Herbert
- TAS – Braddon, Bass
The ALP gained Gilmore in NSW, and Corangamite and Dunkley in Vic, resulting in only 68 seats.
Electorate pendulum (targeted or marginal seats possibly targeted by ALP, GetUp, Greens or Independents in bold):
|Margin (AEC)||Held by ALP||Margin (AEC)||Held by Coalition|
|Kingsford Smith||8.57||NSW||ALP||New England||8.52||NSW||NP|
- ALP = Australian Labor Party
- LP = Liberal Party
- LNP = Liberal National Party
- GRNS = Greens
- NP = National Party
- KAP = Katter Australia Party