Around the grounds
Elections aren’t as easy as plugging in a result that applies to the entire country. There are races being run across the states and territories, and they will dictate where PM Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese spend their time during the campaign. So let’s get acquainted with the thinking behind where – and how – this election will be fought.
How do we know where the key battlegrounds are?
The best way of doing that is just watching where they go. In this day and age, you’d think there would be a better way of reaching thousands of people quickly, but nothing replaces an in-person visit with a media pack, a series of tightly managed events and some social media posts showing how much you enjoyed meeting the locals – and more importantly, how much they enjoyed meeting you.
So what’s the first cab off the rank?
Let’s start where their most marginal seat is, and that’s in Tassie. Expect to see Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese there a lot this election campaign – particularly in Northern Tasmania. It’s where the Labor leader spent the first couple of days of the campaign The Liberals’ most marginal seat is Bass – its home base is Launceston.
What’s special about Bass?
It’s the definition of a swing seat – it’s changed hands in each of the last 4 elections. It’s currently held by Bridget Archer – she’s been in the national spotlight a lot in recent months for being at odds with her party on issues like an integrity commission and religious discrimination.
Is it just Bass?
Next door is Braddon. Bass and Braddon come in a pair – they tend to do the same thing at elections. There are only 5 seats in Tassie, and just those 2 are contestable for the Liberals – the others are locked in with Labor and independent Andrew Wilkie.
So they are in the Labor Party’s sights?
Yes, and remember we said Labor needs to pick up 7 seats to win this election – and Bass and Braddon are 2 on their list.
Let’s go to Victoria...
Roger that, and it’s home of the Coalition’s 2nd most marginal seat. That’s Chisholm, and it’s held by Gladys Liu. She won it from Julia Banks in 2019, who you might remember was a Liberal who was unhappy about Malcolm Turnbull losing his leadership and she became an independent.
I didn’t know that…
Take our word for it… Liu did well to win that seat last election, she holds it with a 0.5% margin, which is just 1,090 votes. She was born in Hong Kong, she’s the first ethnically Chinese woman ever elected to the House.
How does Victoria vote generally?
Victoria is a state that generally supports Labor. At the last election, the state supported Labor 53-47, which was not at all in line with the national result.
And this election?
Well, Labor’s benefited from a redistribution making a couple of its danger-zone seats safer. So let’s see…
That’s where the Coalition’s 3rd most marginal seat of Boothby is up for grabs.
What’s the story there?
Liberal MP Nicolle Flint is leaving parliament – she has said the harshness of politics is not for her. She won that seat after Liberal Andrew Southcott retired after 20 years, but Flint struggled to keep it in the Coalition’s hands – her margin is just 1.4%.
And the South Oz election wasn’t great for the Coalition either…
Labor’s massive win was a shock to the Coalition. And questions about Morrison’s standing with South Australians is also definitely a thing… And that means we may not see a lot of Morrison in South Australia if they decide he won’t help their chances of re-election.
OK, let’s head to NSW.
Things start to get safer for the Coalition from here – Labor will need a big swing of more than 3% to pick up seats in NSW – which is doable if the swing is on… Labor won a majority of NSW seats in 2019, but Labor’s overall vote wasn’t as strong as they would have liked.
And what if the Coalition can get a swing towards it?
Well, it could win a couple of seats from Labor. Labor’s most marginal seat is Macquarie, it’s the country’s most marginal seat at 0.2%.
Interesting… And what about Coalition safe havens in Queensland and Western Australia?
They are key states for the Coalition – at the last election, they won 34 of the 45 seats in the two states. That leaves Labor with 11 seats and there’s one minor party member – that’s Bob Katter from Far North Queensland.
It sounds great for the Coalition, right?
But the thing about that is if the Coalition loses any seats in Queensland and Western Australia, it has to win them in other states that haven’t been as supportive of the Coalition in the past.
And this is where local issues, like those states’ handling of COVID and how they’ve played with Team Morrison are really important. For example, Coalition supporters were angry with Morrison because he didn’t have a go at Labor Premiers Mark McGowan and Annastacia Palaszczuk for keeping their borders closed.
Why didn’t he?
It seems that residents were supportive of their premiers, so Morrison and his colleagues decided to be careful about that so as not to create friction, and damage their standing with the state’s electors.
So what’s the go in WA?
In 2019 a trend was confirmed – that Western Australians might vote for a state Labor government, but they hesitate at voting Labor at the federal level. And what happened a year ago in WA state politics was incredible. The McGowan Government was reelected in a landslide of gargantuan proportions.
There are 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly – the Liberal Party won just 2, and the Nationals won 4.
And its handling of COVID was so different to the rest of the country…
Yeah, and so there is uncertainty in unusual times…
Give me a seat to watch?
Cowan – it’s affected by a redistribution… The neighbouring seat of Stirling was abolished, it was held by Liberal Vince Connelly. So he’s having a go at the Cowan, which is held by Labor’s Anne Aly.
Of course, its rep Christian Porter has resigned. He was the Attorney-General who was accused in late 2020 of a historical sexual assault.
It’s another state that has voted in a Labor state government but goes in the direction of the Coalition at the federal level. Queensland has a major impact on Federal election results because its voters have given stronger support to the Coalition than voters in other states. The last time Queensland preferred Labor to the Coalition was at the 1961 election…
Back that up with numbers, please…
In 8 of the 9 elections since 1996, the Coalition/LNP has won 19 or more Queensland seats, which is more than double Labor’s representation. One incredible story from the last election was the 4.3% swing towards the Coalition leaving Labor with 6 seats out of the 30 up for grabs there.
Why is that?
One theory is that in Queensland, a higher proportion of voters live distant from the state capital than in any other state.
Look, we can’t go without covering the territories…
That would be outrageous… The ACT – its 3 seats are safely held by Labor, and there’s no thinking that’s a situation that will change anytime soon.
And the Northern Territory?
It’s a bit more interesting. Long time Labor MP Warren Snowdon is retiring from Lingiari, which covers most of the NT apart from Darwin. He’s been there for more than 20 years and has a strong personal following. So there’s a question about whether the CLP – the Coalition aligned Country Liberals – can have a go there. Their candidate is the former Alice Springs mayor Damien Ryan. He’s up against Marion Scrymgour – she’s an Indigenous woman who was deputy chief minister of the territory between 2007-09.
So we’ll see the leaders in Alice?
It’s doubtful the leader will spend much time there because it’s a big time commitment, but Lingiari might see some action in this campaign.
And that’s our trip around Australia done?
It is, but stay tuned for some key seat information…
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