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ACT election headaches ahead for candidates

By Greg Cornwell - 12 January 2016 11

election vote

The 2016 ACT Assembly election obviously will be a watershed, not least because the legislature finally has increased to a properly representative 25 members.

I say ‘not least’ because there are a number of sleeping issues (headaches?) that candidates and successful MLAs will face.

Whomever forms government next October will need 13 of the 25 elected representatives, either by a simple majority – achieved only once in the Assembly’s history – or by a coalition.

Assuming the new government opts for six ministers and a speaker – it cannot afford more because the Assembly’s committees have to be covered – there is sufficient experience on either side to (just) make a ministry. That is not to say all sitting and continuing members would automatically join their front bench.

So what happens to the balance of government backbenchers and the opposition members? Do they assume the electoral duties of their ministers and shadow ministers?

I doubt it. Not if the senior representatives have any sense of survival because the breakup into five electorates of five members each has changed the dynamics of service to the constituency.

Previously it was possible and indeed still is in Molonglo to have all government members in the ministry and while I am not suggesting anybody, government or opposition, neglects their responsibilities to the electorate the sheer size and the suburbs where members live puts a strain upon servicing.

The smaller electorates will make such duty in central Canberra much easier and hopefully we won’t find all MLAs living in the same area.

However the break-up into the smaller electorates of Kurrajong and of Murrumbidgee and, to a lesser extent suburb adjustments to Brindabella, Ginninderra and Yerrabi, will see significant loss of personal votes, maybe up to 50 percent in the central electorates, and it will be interesting to track – if possible – any Party loss of support as a result and frustrating to those sitting members who have put in the hard work in what is now another electorate.

Parties will need to be careful in campaigning where they allocate their candidates. In the smaller electorates the risk of clashing with the opposition or even your own candidates at shopping centres or worse, doorknocking increases, so coordination is essential.

With up to 11 seats available to candidates in four of the electorates without challenging sitting members, the 2016 Assembly election will be much more than a political Party contest.

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
ACT election headaches ahead for candidates
Steven Bailey 10:46 am 16 Jan 16

Nilrem said :

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

Wouldn’t the constituents in Gentleman’s electorate benefit from the improved parking in the City resulting from people catching the tram instead of driving?

Possibly, but I think that would be a complicated political message to convey.

Steven Bailey 10:43 am 16 Jan 16

bj_ACT said :

I think the new Electorate Boundary shift of Kambah out of Tuggeranong (Brindabella electorate) could have a heavy impact on the election results in the new Woden/Weston Creek (Murrimbidgee electorate).

The Unemployment Rate for Kambah has more than Doubled since 2008 and there has been a 28% increase in Newstart numbers for Kambah over the last 18 months. Considering Kambah’s population is decreasing at the same time, these numbers must be pretty concerning statistics for ACT Labor. Interestingly the Financial review listed Kambah as the highest ranked area for Mortgage stress in all of Australia. The suburb has low incomes (for Canberra), has blue collar and nurses/teachers who are losing jobs, but high mortgages like other Canberra suburbs.

I think these events usually wouldn’t matter because Gallagher/Barr have strategically ignored the Kambah, Wanniassa areas for years (because these areas had no impact on overall ACT Election results – as stated by John Hargreaves himself).

Kambah with its working class demographic normally votes Labor (more so than other parts of Tuggeranong). But the job losses mentioned above, a 41% hike in Rates, reduced bus services and continued lack of Government investment into this pocket of Canberra, makes me expect a big voter shift to Liberal. This would have mattered less if the 16,000 residents of Kambah were part of Brindabella (Tuggers Electorate) but now they are in Murrimbidgee (Woden – Weston Creek).

It will be very interesting to see what happens at the election, for the first time in memory the key to winning the ACT election may come from Tuggeranong not from Canberra’s North and north west.

Very true, and an adroit insight. Cheers

miz 8:40 pm 13 Jan 16

Kim F said :

I think this is the worst thing to happen since we got self government. A bunch of new and extra snouts lining up for the trough with their associated hanger-ons. Does anyone honestly think this will give us “better government” ?

Not me.

rubaiyat 5:48 pm 13 Jan 16

Back when I still unhappily dabbled in the dismal arts I had an intriguing chat with an Italian developer grumbling about some dodgy development that was going nowhere, because “there were too many people to pay off”.

Sometimes there is safety in numbers. Also it allows you to keep some of the duds on the backbenches. In this Government you really have to pull the short straw not to be a Minister with 3 portfolios.

Kim F 1:14 pm 13 Jan 16

I think this is the worst thing to happen since we got self government. A bunch of new and extra snouts lining up for the trough with their associated hanger-ons. Does anyone honestly think this will give us “better government” ?

rommeldog56 11:30 am 13 Jan 16

Nilrem said :

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

Wouldn’t the constituents in Gentleman’s electorate benefit from the improved parking in the City resulting from people catching the tram instead of driving?

Probably not. Its widely held that many of the tram users will be ex ACTION bus passengers – who already don’t drive to the City & park. Also, parking spaces in the City are becoming absurdly expensive for a population the size of Canberra”s and some parking spaces are being replaced by development. Even a carpark on London Circuit in the City will be closed or have greatly reduced capacity while the Tram is being built.

So, any “benefit” to Tuggeranong residents – or residents in Woden, South Canberra, Weston, Molonglo and the further reaches of Gunners & North Canberra, who need to drive into the City, will be marginal at best.

Raging Tempest 9:05 am 13 Jan 16

Wouldn’t the constituents in Gentleman’s electorate benefit from the improved parking in the City resulting from people catching the tram instead of driving?

Not everyone in Tuggers works in the city, many of us live, work and play locally.

gooterz 2:59 am 13 Jan 16

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

So do the libs go for a whitewash down south or try to claw back votes from the wildlings, leaving the south to rise against on its own.

Nilrem 2:54 pm 12 Jan 16

MERC600 said :

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

Wouldn’t the constituents in Gentleman’s electorate benefit from the improved parking in the City resulting from people catching the tram instead of driving?

bj_ACT 2:33 pm 12 Jan 16

I think the new Electorate Boundary shift of Kambah out of Tuggeranong (Brindabella electorate) could have a heavy impact on the election results in the new Woden/Weston Creek (Murrimbidgee electorate).

The Unemployment Rate for Kambah has more than Doubled since 2008 and there has been a 28% increase in Newstart numbers for Kambah over the last 18 months. Considering Kambah’s population is decreasing at the same time, these numbers must be pretty concerning statistics for ACT Labor. Interestingly the Financial review listed Kambah as the highest ranked area for Mortgage stress in all of Australia. The suburb has low incomes (for Canberra), has blue collar and nurses/teachers who are losing jobs, but high mortgages like other Canberra suburbs.

I think these events usually wouldn’t matter because Gallagher/Barr have strategically ignored the Kambah, Wanniassa areas for years (because these areas had no impact on overall ACT Election results – as stated by John Hargreaves himself).

Kambah with its working class demographic normally votes Labor (more so than other parts of Tuggeranong). But the job losses mentioned above, a 41% hike in Rates, reduced bus services and continued lack of Government investment into this pocket of Canberra, makes me expect a big voter shift to Liberal. This would have mattered less if the 16,000 residents of Kambah were part of Brindabella (Tuggers Electorate) but now they are in Murrimbidgee (Woden – Weston Creek).

It will be very interesting to see what happens at the election, for the first time in memory the key to winning the ACT election may come from Tuggeranong not from Canberra’s North and north west.

MERC600 1:15 pm 12 Jan 16

I suspect one sitting member who would be worried is Mick Gentleman.

Poor old Mick has been lumbered with the job of selling the tram. Probably no worries if you happened to be in the same electorate as Mr Barr. But unfortunately Mick has to sell the idea to his southern electorate, who will gain absolutely nothing from the thing, except paying for it.

What a juicy target he will be for the opposition.

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