Friday, March 09, 2007

Prediction for the State Election in Newcastle

Those of you who have been paying attention to the news over the last eight months have been aware of the ‘situation’ concerning the local labor party and the state election. Ostensibly we are at a momentous event in the history of Newcastle politics: it will not vote labor and instead elect an independent. Stateline last week had a story about this followed by another concerning the fact that it is not the liberal party that is posing any threat to the Iemma government, rather independents, with the outside possibility that if roughly ten independents get up, then we could see a hung government.

What we are hearing is the lead the labor party has over liberal in two party preferred terms, which is creating a skewed picture of where dissatisfaction with a corrupt government is heading. It rightfully points that it is not going to a clearly incompetent option: the Debnam led liberals, who face losing seats rather than closing the gap, which one would expect considering the fit hitting the shan spectacularly for a government that has long outstayed its welcome. What it does not show is that rather than increasing its representation, the labor party is likely to lose seats to independents including the safest of labor seats, Newcastle.

Roughly the local polls are as follows: McKay (labor) 24%, Gaudry (independent) 22%, Tate (independent) 20%, Osborne (greens) 12%, Babakan (liberals) 9%. Ultimately it will be decided by preferences, with greens going to Gaudry, liberals to Tate, and you would think Gaudry before labor. Labor will go to Tate over Gaudry, which will amount to a Tate win (basically equivalent to a labor win). This is assuming however that people will just send the preferences to where the local party decides, which clearly is not the reality. As such, to call the results Tate 53% to Gaudry 34% would be misguided, it does still hint at a Tate win (I am predicting 47% to 40%).

Liberals will almost universally send their preferences to Tate because despite having been considered by the labor party to be their candidate in place of McKay, it still stands that Gaudry is the ex-labor member for Newcastle, McKay is the labor candidate for Newcastle, the greens are the greens, and as such Tate is the least of three evils for them. As I said above a Tate win is basically a labor win, and as such their preferences should actually go to Gaudry; they won’t. Babakan was very reluctant to say that the higher powers had given him the orders to preference Tate, which he himself seemed uneasy with, presumably because he is aware of this irony.

Greens preferences will be with Gaudry because they are against the rampant development of Newcastle. Anyone voting for greens will not preference Tate or labor above Gaudry, and will probably only put Tate above labor to avoid having McPuppet (though Tate would amount to about the same thing, he will not be absolutely obliged to follow party lines).

Labor will not preference liberals obviously, nor the Greens because of their almost militant opposition to the corrupt development dealings shaping Newcastle over the last fifteen years. For the same reason they will not support their ex-member, who was removed as their candidate from above for this very reason. Tate on the other hand was considered as their candidate because his vision for Newcastle as Mayor was rampant development followed by even more rampant development.

If Tate’s reasons for running as an independent rather than for labor are to be believed, that Newcastle needs to cast off the shackles of labor who have ceased being able to adequately represent Newcastle’s interests, then he should preference Gaudry before labor, but I doubt it. Sadly for Gaudry, he will probably have to preference Tate above labor, though it amounts to only a symbolic gesture. Presumably where their preferences go will be irrelevant anyway.

Essentially the Newcastle election therefore is a referendum on development.

What we get is a rejection of labor because of their pandering to developers and a desire to make the green lights easier for further development by removing an obstacle for ‘tits and arse’ (apparently she is there to represent generational change, but Newcastle is quickly turning into a retirement village, so I suspect its more to do with sex appeal to the conservative aging fraternity). However, the likely winner represents the same developer interests, just with some Newcastle pork barrelling (read Tate and the Honeysuckle corporation pocket lining). It is sad to say then that a majority of Novocastrians are in favour of development at the expense of town and social planning. Hopefully I will be proved wrong.

Anyway, any thoughts or alternate predictions out there?


MH said...

Rowan, it’s a hung ‘parliament’ not ‘government’. The reason that it is an issue is that no particular individual can command a clear majority and thus form government. In such a situation a minority government is formed by one party, and usually requires the support of independents.

I have to say that from where I’m sitting (within walking distance of Macquarie Street) your analysis seems alright. I’m not sure about you’re figures, nor the reliability of Newcastle electoral polling. Have you factored in Gaudry’s assertion that he does not want to be involved in preference swapping?

And I think you’re right on the key point – this election is going to turn on independents.

Rowan Blyth said...

I guess I should really re-read and edit things before I post them, but isn't that what the internets all about: errors.

Regardless of Gaudry's position on swapping, the greens will almost all go to him.

Apparently Balmain has a good chance of electing a green candidate.

It will be interesting.

MH said...

Well, I was wrong on this one. Just thought people would like to read that admission.

Rowan Blyth said...

Well I was wrong as well, it came down to Mackay and Gaudry, and is a Mackay win unless something miraculous happens. Still, the prefences seem to have mostly followed where I thought they would go, Mackay just polled higher than I anticipated.

Samuel Douglas said...

No it came down to MacKay and Tate.