Queensland and Western Australia are more important than Western Sydney

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:

2013 Australian Electoral Pendulum
Labor (72)
Corangamite (VIC) ALP 0.3%
Deakin (VIC) ALP 0.6%
Greenway (NSW) ALP 0.9%
Robertson (NSW) ALP 1.0%
Lindsay (NSW) ALP 1.1%
Moreton (QLD) ALP 1.1%
Banks (NSW) ALP 1.5%
La Trobe (VIC) ALP 1.7%
Petrie (QLD) ALP 2.5%
Reid (NSW) ALP 2.7%
Lilley (QLD) ALP 3.2%
Brand (WA) ALP 3.3%
Capricornia (QLD) ALP 3.7%
Lingiari (NT) ALP 3.7%
Page (NSW) ALP 4.2%
Eden-Monaro (NSW) ALP 4.2%
Blair (QLD) ALP 4.2%
Parramatta (NSW) ALP 4.4%
Dobell (NSW) ALP 5.1%
Kingsford Smith (NSW) ALP 5.2%
Rankin (QLD) ALP 5.4%
Fremantle (WA) ALP 5.7%
Chisholm (VIC) ALP 5.8%
Oxley (QLD) ALP 5.8%
Perth (WA) ALP 5.9%
Hindmarsh (SA) ALP 6.1%
Bass (TAS) ALP 6.7%
Werriwa (NSW) ALP 6.8%
Barton (NSW) ALP 6.9%
Richmond (NSW) ALP 7.0%
Braddon (TAS) ALP 7.5%
Adelaide (SA) ALP 7.5%
Bruce (VIC) ALP 7.7%
McMahon (NSW) ALP 7.8%
Melbourne Ports (VIC) ALP 7.9%
Griffith (QLD) ALP 8.5%
Fowler (NSW) ALP 8.8%
Watson (NSW) ALP 9.1%
Canberra (ACT) ALP 9.2%
McEwen (VIC) ALP 9.2%
Bendigo (VIC) ALP 9.4%
Isaacs (VIC) ALP 10.4%
Wakefield (SA) ALP 10.5%
Franklin (TAS) ALP 10.8%
Jagajaga (VIC) ALP 11.1%
Ballarat (VIC) ALP 11.7%
Makin (SA) ALP 12.0%
Throsby (NSW) ALP 12.1%
Blaxland (NSW) ALP 12.2%
Lyons (TAS) ALP 12.3%
Chifley (NSW) ALP 12.3%
Hunter (NSW) ALP 12.5%
Newcastle (NSW) ALP 12.5%
Charlton (NSW) ALP 12.7%
Shortland (NSW) ALP 12.9%
Cunningham (NSW) ALP 13.2%
Corio (VIC) ALP 13.5%
Hotham (VIC) ALP 14.0%
Holt (VIC) ALP 14.0%
Fraser (ACT) ALP 14.2%
Kingston (SA) ALP 14.5%
Sydney (NSW) ALP 17.1%
Maribyrnong (VIC) ALP 17.5%
Calwell (VIC) ALP 20.0%
Grayndler (NSW) ALP 20.6%
Scullin (VIC) ALP 20.6%
Port Adelaide (SA) ALP 21.0%
Lalor (VIC) ALP 22.1%
Wills (VIC) ALP 23.5%
Gorton (VIC) ALP 23.6%
Gellibrand (VIC) ALP 24.1%
Batman (VIC) ALP 24.8%
Coalition (72)
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%
Dickson (QLD) LNP 5.1%
Hughes (NSW) LIB 5.2%
Gilmore (NSW) LIB 5.3%
Paterson (NSW) LIB 5.3%
Higgins (VIC) LIB 5.4%
Stirling (WA) LIB 5.6%
Wannon (VIC) LIB 5.7%
Goldstein (VIC) LIB 6.0%
Cowan (WA) LIB 6.3%
Fairfax (QLD) LNP 7.0%
Ryan (QLD) LNP 7.2%
Mayo (SA) LIB 7.3%
Kooyong (VIC) LIB 7.5%
Menzies (VIC) LIB 8.7%
Hume (NSW) LIB 8.7%
Forrest (WA) LIB 8.7%
Pearce (WA) LIB 8.9%
Indi (VIC) LIB 9.0%
Flinders (VIC) LIB 9.1%
Cowper (NSW) NAT 9.3%
Wright (QLD) LNP 10.2%
McPherson (QLD) LNP 10.3%
Hinkler (QLD) LNP 10.4%
Bowman (QLD) LNP 10.4%
Calare (NSW) NAT 10.7%
Grey (SA) LIB 11.2%
Moore (WA) LIB 11.2%
Gippsland (VIC) NAT 11.5%
Tangney (WA) LIB 12.3%
Cook (NSW) LIB 12.7%
Barker (SA) LIB 13.0%
Warringah (NSW) LIB 13.1%
Durack (WA) LIB 13.7%
North Sydney (NSW) LIB 14.1%
Fadden (QLD) LNP 14.2%
Farrer (NSW) LIB 14.5%
Wentworth (NSW) LIB 14.9%
Wide Bay (QLD) LNP 15.6%
Mackellar (NSW) LIB 15.7%
Curtin (WA) LIB 16.2%
Berowra (NSW) LIB 16.2%
Mitchell (NSW) LIB 17.2%
Moncrieff (QLD) LNP 17.5%
Riverina (NSW) NAT 18.2%
Bradfield (NSW) LIB 18.2%
Groom (QLD) LNP 18.5%
Parkes (NSW) NAT 18.9%
Murray (VIC) LIB 19.6%
Maranoa (QLD) LNP 22.9%
Mallee (VIC) NAT 23.3%
Others (IND 4, GRN 1, NAT WA 1)
Denison (TAS) IND 1.2% v ALP
O’Connor (WA) NAT WA 3.6% v LIB
Melbourne (VIC) GRN 6.0% v ALP
Lyne (NSW) IND 12.7% v NAT
Kennedy (QLD) IND 18.3% v LNP
New England (NSW) IND 21.5% v NAT

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:

ALP L/NP Total Swing
Votes % Votes %
New South Wales 1,958,077 48.84 2,051,241 51.16 4,009,318 -4.84
Victoria 1,758,982 55.31 1,421,202 44.69 3,180,184 +1.04
Queensland 1,069,504 44.86 1,314,675 55.14 2,384,179 -5.58
Western Australia 524,861 43.59 679,140 56.41 1,204,001 -3.15
South Australia 521,115 53.18 458,834 46.82 979,949 +0.78
Tasmania 198,322 60.62 128,830 39.38 327,152 +4.41
Australian Capital Territory 137,948 61.67 85,749 38.33 223,697 -1.73
Northern Territory 47,636 50.74 46,247 49.26 93,883 -4.67

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 14 seats. The only poll I’ve seen on the Tasmaian seat (Denison) shows the Independent MP Andrew Wilkie comfortably retaining it.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Queensland and Western Australia are more important than Western Sydney

  1. […] via Queensland and Western Australia are more important than Western Sydney | Gordons Thoughts. […]

  2. Heather March 3, 2013 at 4:47 am Reply

    Interesting. Food for thought.

  3. intuitivereason March 3, 2013 at 9:43 am Reply

    A swing gaining 5% from their current polling in QLD and WA nets the ALP one seat in each – Hasluck and Brisbane. Needs around a 9 point pickup from here to get to where you are discussing.

    The analysis is interesting from the perspective of what Labor has to do to win; that they are concentrating their efforts in Western Sydney is indicative that they are already working to stop losses rather than win outright.

    Locally, all three northern seats here in Tasmania are gone, two even with a nine point pickup from current polls.

    The other issue with Qld is the Rudd factor; not him taking back over, but the perturbations along leadership lines that will continue to occur if focus is placed on Queensland. A focus on Queensland is a focus on Rudd, which they can’t have.

  4. Polly March 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm Reply

    The ALP won’t win the election in western Sydney but if the worst case scenarios are correct they could easily lose the election there. You are correct the government is in an unusual position in having to win seats to retain government but it is highly unlikely that they could win enough seats in the other states to counter losses in western Sydney if they do eventuate.

  5. David brant March 4, 2013 at 3:58 am Reply

    Good analysis
    Next/better question is how many of the current seats the Alp can retain.
    My guess is that as of today they’d lose 8 of the most marginal top 12

  6. intuitivereason March 5, 2013 at 1:50 am Reply

    Part of the problem for Labor, given the swings of up to 17+% being reported in localised areas is that there are probably only about 20-25 seats they can actually consider safe. There is simply not the scope to shift focus away from seats that are ‘in the bag’ that there normally is, to focus on marginal seats.

  7. […] shopping malls and screaming with delirium because Abbott is there. Especially not in states with nine marginal seats under 5%. But they are with Rudd. Hockey’s insult reveals the soft nature of voter support for Abbott, […]

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