It appears Western Sydney electorates have been designated the “key battleground” for the 2013 federal election by most in the political class.
The area is mentioned so often in relation to federal politics that it’s become a filter for everything important. What does Western Sydney think about XYZ issue? Politician X made a mistake, how will that be interpreted in Western Sydney?
In my opinion, the federal election won’t be decided in Western Sydney alone and the purpose of this post is to attempt to make that clear.
Firstly, we’ll start with the current numbers in the federal parliament. Here’s ABC’s election analyst Antony Green’s 2013 election pendulum:
The pendulum shows the ALP have 72 seats, the Coalition have 72 seats, the Greens have 1 seat, there’s 1 Western Australian National, 3 Independents and 1 seat for Katter’s Australian Party. Events during this parliament have made Dobell (ALP) and Fisher (LNP) Independent seats and O’Connor (WA National) formally a Coalition seat making the seat numbers:
- ALP: 71 seats
- Coalition: 72 seats
- Greens: 1 seat
- Independents: 5 seats
- Katter’s Australian Party: 1 seat
So before we go into any commentary regarding where the next federal election will or won’t be won, we need to confront the fact that the ALP government needs to win at least 4-5 seats in order to achieve victory!
This is an unusual situation because usually the government would have a majority and could afford to lose a few seats. In this case, the government can’t afford to lose seats and must win seats in order to remain where they are. For every seat lost, that’s an extra one higher up the pendulum that needs to be won.
Given these facts, lets look at what seats the ALP could possibly win. We’ll look at Coalition and Independent seats under a two party preferred margin of 5%. Whether the ALP can achieve that type of swing is debatable. This is a hypothetical exercise to see what’s potentially in range for the ALP.
|Boothby (SA)||LIB 0.6%|
|Hasluck (WA)||LIB 0.6%|
|Aston (VIC)||LIB 0.7%|
|Dunkley (VIC)||LIB 1.1%|
|Brisbane (QLD)||LNP 1.1%|
|Macquarie (NSW)||LIB 1.3%|
|Forde (QLD)||LNP 1.6%|
|Solomon (NT)||CLP 1.8%|
|Longman (QLD)||LNP 1.9%|
|Casey (VIC)||LIB 1.9%|
|Herbert (QLD)||LNP 2.2%|
|Canning (WA)||LIB 2.2%|
|Dawson (QLD)||LNP 2.4%|
|Swan (WA)||LIB 2.5%|
|Bonner (QLD)||LNP 2.8%|
|Macarthur (NSW)||LIB 3.0%|
|Bennelong (NSW)||LIB 3.1%|
|Flynn (QLD)||LNP 3.6%|
|Sturt (SA)||LIB 3.6%|
|Fisher (QLD)||LNP 4.1%|
|McMillan (VIC)||LIB 4.2%|
|Leichhardt (QLD)||LNP 4.6%|
|Denison (TAS)||IND 1.2%|
From that list we have:
- 9 seats in Queensland
- 4 seats in Victoria
- 3 seats in New South Wales
- 3 seats in Western Australia
- 2 seats in South Australia
- 1 seat in the Northern Territory
- 1 seats in Tasmania
The total number of Coalition and Independent seats under a 5% two party preferred margin is 23.
Next, we’ll look at the two party preferred figures for each state from the last election. These figures are from the Australian Electoral Commission website:
|New South Wales||1,958,077||48.84||2,051,241||51.16||4,009,318||-4.84|
|Australian Capital Territory||137,948||61.67||85,749||38.33||223,697||-1.73|
The question for the ALP is where can their vote be increased? The ICAC inquiry and other issues in NSW (3 seats) which are severely hurting the ALP have been mentioned to death so it’s fair to say the ALP are highly unlikely to increase their vote in that state.
Victoria (4 seats) and South Australia (2 seats) were excellent results for the ALP at the last election. Given this fact, It will be extremely difficult to increase their vote in those two states. Boothby (SA) might be winnable for the ALP under the right circumstances but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s put that to one side.
That’s 9 of the 23 seats under a 5% two party preferred margin we can eliminate from the above list.
That leaves 13 seats under a 5% two party preferred margin and guess where they all are? Queensland (9 seats), Western Australia (3 seats) and the Northern Territory (1 seat).
The political class is intensely focusing on the 10 marginal ALP seats in Western Sydney which apparently represent the “key battleground” in relation to electoral victory but in my opinion the 13 or so seats in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are just as important, if not more important!
13 seats is 8 seats more than the 5 seats necessary for the ALP to win the election from where things currently stand.
What we can conclude is that the ALP needs to win more than 5 seats in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. If that is achieved, the second part of the equation for the ALP is to hold as many seats as possible everywhere else … and when I say “everywhere else,” I mean every part of Australia! Not just Western Sydney!
If they can pick up seats in Victoria and South Australia, that makes the job easier.
Every seat the ALP doesn’t win in Queensland and Western Australia makes victory much easier to achieve for the Coalition.
If the ALP fails to win seats in Queensland, Western Australia as well as the seat in the Northern Territory, Western Sydney and other “key battlegrounds” in my opinion will become meaningless in terms of the end result.