NATIONAL OVERVIEW

1 NationalAt the 2013 election, Kevin Rudd’s Labor government was defeated by the Coalition and Tony Abbott was elected Australia’s 28th Prime Minister. The Coalition won 90 seats of the 150 seat parliament, reducing Labor to just 55 seats. Of the remaining 5 seats, 2 went to independents while The Greens, Katter’s Australia Party, and Palmer United Party each won 1 seat. Less than 2 years later, Malcolm Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott’s leadership and succeeded him to become Australia’s 29th Prime Minister. But after just 8 months in office, he called a double dissolution election for 02 July and in so doing, began the second longest election campaign in Australia’s history.

The electoral landscape in 2016 is somewhat different to what it was after the 2013 election. Following a redistribution of electoral boundaries in NSW, WA and the ACT by the Australian Electoral Commission, the total number of seats in NSW has reduced from 48 to 47 while the number in WA has increased from 15 to 16. In NSW, the Labor held seat of Charlton has been abolished while in WA, the newly created seat of Burt is notionally a Liberal seat. The redistribution has also affected seat margins, quite significantly in some cases, and 3 seats have changed hands as a result. The Liberal held seats of Paterson, Dobell, and Barton are now notionally Labor seats with margins of 0.2%, 0.3% and 4.4% respectively. Aside from redistributions, the Queensland seat of Fairfax which is currently held by Palmer United Party (PUP) is now notionally a Coalition seat since PUP is not recontesting the seat. Taking into account these changes, the starting point for the 2016 election is as follows.

Party

Seats

Changes from 2013 election

Coalition

89

The Coalition lose the seats of Paterson, Dobell, and Barton but notionally gain the seats of Burt and Fairfax

Labor Party

57

The Labor Party lose the seat of Throsby but notionally gain the seats of Paterson, Dobell, and Barton

Independents

2

No change

Greens

1

No change

Katter’s Australia Party

1

No change

Palmer United Party

0

Palmer United Party notionally loses the seat of Fairfax which it currently holds but is not recontesting

When factoring in all changes of margins following redistributions, the electoral pendulum for seats with margins of less than 10% is as follows.

Coalition
Seats

Margin

Margin

Labor
Seats

Petrie (QLD)

0.5%

0.2%

Dobell* (NSW)

Capricornia (QLD)

0.8%

0.2%

McEwan (VIC)

Lyons (TAS)

1.2%

0.3%

Paterson* (NSW)

Solomon (NT)

1.4%

0.9%

Lingiari (NT)

Hindmarsh (SA)

1.9%

1.3%

Bendigo (VIC)

Braddon (TAS)

2.6%

1.3%

Parramatta (NSW)

Banks (NSW)

2.8%

1.3%

Lilley (QLD)

Eden-Monaro (NSW)

2.9%

1.6%

Moreton (QLD)

Lindsay (NSW)

3.0%

1.6%

Chisholm (VIC)

Robertson (NSW)

3.1%

1.6%

Richmond (NSW)

Page (NSW)

3.1%

1.8%

Bruce (VIC)

Deakin (VIC)

3.2%

2.2%

Perth (WA)

Macarthur (NSW)

3.3%

2.7%

Kingsford Smith (NSW)

Reid (NSW)

3.3%

3.0%

Greenway (NSW)

Bonner (QLD)

3.7%

3.0%

Griffith (QLD)

Gilmore (NSW)

3.8%

3.1%

Jagajaga (VIC)

Corangamite (VIC)

3.9%

3.4%

Wakefield (SA)

Bass (TAS)

4.0%

3.6%

Melbourne Ports (VIC)

La Trobe (VIC)

4.0%

3.7%

Brand (WA)

Brisbane (QLD)

4.3%

3.8%

Oxley (QLD)

Forde (QLD)

4.4%

3.9%

Adelaide (SA)

Macquarie (NSW)

4.5%

3.9%

Isaacs (VIC)

Cowan (WA)

4.5%

4.4%

Barton* (NSW)

Dunkley (VIC)

5.6%

4.6%

McMahon (NSW)

Leichhardt (QLD)

5.7%

4.8%

Rankin (QLD)

Hasluck (WA)

6.0%

4.9%

Ballarat (VIC)

Burt (WA)

6.1%

5.1%

Franklin (TAS)

Herbert (QLD)

6.2%

5.1%

Makin (SA)

Flynn (QLD)

6.5%

5.3%

Blair (QLD)

Dickson (QLD)

6.7%

5.4%

Fremantle (WA)

Longman (QLD)

6.9%

5.7%

Hunter (NSW)

Boothby (SA)

7.1%

6.5%

Werriwa (NSW)

Casey (VIC)

7.2%

6.9%

Whitlam (NSW)

Swan (WA)

7.3%

7.3%

Hotham (VIC)

Dawson (QLD)

7.6%

7.4%

Shortland (NSW)

Bennelong (NSW)

7.8%

7.5%

Canberra (ACT)

Aston (VIC)

8.2%

7.7%

Corio (VIC)

Ryan (QLD)

8.5%

8.9%

Watson (NSW)

Bowman (QLD)

8.9%

9.1%

Holt (NSW)

Hinkler (QLD)

9.0%

9.4%

Newcastle (NSW)

Stirling (WA)

9.0%

9.7%

Kingston (SA)

Pearce (WA)

9.3%

 

 

Fisher (QLD)

9.8%

 

 

Higgins (VIC)

9.9%

 

 

Indi
(VIC)

0.3%

(IND vs
LIB)

5.3%

(GRN vs
ALP)

Melbourne
(VIC)

Kennedy
(QLD)

2.2%

(KAP vs
LNP

 

 

In order to win government in its own right, the Labor Party requires a net gain of at least 19 seats at this election. This would require a uniform swing against the government of more than 4% nationally. For the Coalition, they can afford to lose up to 13 seats and still retain majority government. This means they could tolerate a uniform swing of up to 3.2% nationally. Swings are rarely uniform however, with local issues, changing demographics, and candidate’s personal profiles all helping to shape the outcome of individual seats. Ultimately, the election will be determined by the size of the swings in seats with small margin.

National opinion polling throughout the election campaign has been indicating that support for the Coalition and Labor is broadly split at around 50/50, which would translate into a swing against the government of 3-4% at this election. When broken down at a state level, the swing appears to be strongest in WA and QLD, moderate in NSW, VIC, NT, and the ACT, whereas SA and TAS may even experience a swing towards the government. More importantly, a series of seat based polls in key electorates have suggested the Coalition is holding its ground in most marginal seats, pointing to the government being returned. There is however a huge threat emerging from minor parties that could prevent either the Coalition or Labor from forming government in their own right.

Anonymous crowd of people walking streetThe Greens have seen a consistent rise in their lower house vote since the 1996 election, peaking at 11.8% at the 2010 election culminating in the capture of Melbourne, their first ever lower house seat. The Greens retained Melbourne in 2013 despite the Liberal Party choosing to preference Labor ahead of them. At this election, they will be looking to increase their representation by winning inner city seats in Sydney and Melbourne. But a bigger threat to the major parties is emerging from the newly formed Nick Xenaphon Team (NXT). Led by popular South Australian Senator Nick Xenaphon, the NXT will be running candidates in every SA seat, as well as a handful of electorates around the country. It’s in SA where their support is strongest though, and there is every possibility that this new party could win several seats there and ultimately hold the balance of power in the lower house.

In addition to the Greens and NXT, former independents Tony Windsor and Robert Oakshott will be running in the NSW seats of New England and Cowper respectively. With votes for independents and minor parties increasing in recent elections, and with leaders of both major parties struggling to engage the electorate during a marathon campaign, winning majority government may prove extremely difficult at this election.

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