27 November 2018

Is the Victorian election an omen for Zed?

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Moderate Canberra Liberals far that Senator Seselja will lose his seat. File photo.

The Victorian Liberal wipeout has heightened fears among Canberra Liberals that Zed Seselja may lose his Senate seat in the forthcoming Federal election. Moderates say many in the party are “distraught” at Senator Seselja’s death grip on internal party politics, in a jurisdiction with strong similarities to the prosperous Melbourne seats conceded by the Liberals on the weekend.

Gary Kent is the former president of the ACT Liberal Party and the longest standing office holder. He says that the ACT is, if anything, more progressive than Victoria and that includes many Liberal voters. “Zed Seselja barely held the seat last time. It’s difficult to see how he would increase the vote. He’s done exactly what the Victorian Liberals did by trying to survive on issues that appeal to this non-existent hard-right based.

“Here we have someone who was intimately involved in the coup that overthrew Malcolm Turnbull, apparently more worried about saving Liberal seats somewhere in Queensland when he has run the Liberal Senate vote down in the ACT,” he said. Mr Kent now belongs to the Victorian Liberal division of Higgins having, by his own admission, left before the local branch could move him on.

“The feedback about Zed’s role in the Turnbull affair and his lack of representation on matters of concern to Canberrans is becoming extremely worrying. I include in this issues like same-sex marriage, the right to die legislation, a whole range of areas where Zed doesn’t represent the people who vote for him in any way.”

Longtime ANU political analyst Dr Norman Abjorensen agrees that the poor fit between Senator Seselja’s beliefs and the local Liberal demographic means that many Liberals “vote for Zed while holding their noses,” but he’s less certain this will presage electoral defeat.

“He is a fish out of water in this electorate, but over the years there’s always been more hope than evidence that the Liberals could lose their Senate seat. The reality is that alternative candidates like the Greens are taking votes from Labor, not the Liberals. The only thing that could dislodge Zed would be an insurrection within the party.”

Dr Abjorensen points to the possibility that a high-profile independent candidate could divide the Liberal vote, but says that would require time, money, expertise and a very clear message about the candidature. And, he says, “ruthless tactics” are likely from the Right faction given Senator Seselja’s effectiveness in dispatching the previous incumbent, Garry Humphries.

“The Liberal vote will never fall below the low 30’s and you only need to get 33 per cent or 34 per cent to get a quota. If we had more senators like the states do, voters could choose from a longer list of names and the results might be different. I think the reality is that Zed will probably get re-elected.”

Gary Kent says there’s been no female candidate for the Senate since Margaret Reid’s time. He believes that there are plenty of women in the ACT division who would potentially fit the bill but describes the hard right as “very blokey” and not female-friendly. Beyond that, he’s looking for “someone with a demonstrated commitment to the values of the Canberra community, someone who is able to speak the language of people in the ACT who don’t want a left-wing Labor government or the Greens, but a good old-fashioned Liberal party that represents Liberalism the way it used to be.

“If you translate the people who voted for Menzies to the current ACT Liberal voters, they are focused on issues like climate change and how to give people equality of opportunity. They are generally interested in the welfare of the ordinary person, they believe climate change is real, and they’re not primarily motivated by divisive issues like law and order or immigration.”

Is there a message in the Victorian election results for the ACT Liberals?

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He did not represent the people who voted for him. he’s a right wing conservative god botherer who will do anything to push his own agenda.

He will get in comfortably, because too many people do the old ‘I’ve always voted for x so will vote x’ trick – not helped by above the line voting in the Senate. If you got rid of above the line voting in the Senate and made people direct at least a few of their preferences, then things might get more interesting…

I think that the article really says it all. Zed’s a bit out of touch with the ACT but he’s backed by some ruthless Libs, and the realities of the ACT Senate voting is that it’s one Lib, one Lab, and that’s all there is to it.

The way to go to find a more representative Lib Senate candidate is to have a more representative local Liberal branch. Stack it with “small-l” liberals. That’s something where a few people could have a big effect. As opposed to voting.

74% ACT support for the marriage survey and Zed was dead set against it. Indications are ACT support for assisted dying is similar and maybe higher. The ACT disliked Tony Abbott as PM and Zed not only supported him when he was PM, which could be understood, but participated in pulling down the more popular Turnbull and was a front man for Dutton who is possibly held in even lower regard here. And there is still no real explanation for tearing down Turnbull other than the apparent opposition of Libs like Zed to doing anything about reducing carbon emissions. I believe in Victoria there were signs depicting Dutton’s & Abbott’s faces flanking Matthew Guy and that sort of tactic here could work well against Zed as well. If its apparent that the Libs will lose the next federal election in a big way, there may be a significant minority of normally Liberal voters hold their nose and vote Labor or Green in the hope the Libs come up with someone better than Zed next time around. If the ACT is ever going to dump a Lib senator, it’s hard to see a more favourable confluence of factors than we’ll have at the next election.

Jackson Bond10:59 pm 26 Nov 18

It only takes 33% of the electorate votes to get a ‘quota’. Because there are only two Senate seats both major parties should always get that just off first preference, let alone relying on the complicated Senate vote preference flow.. Until we get more Senators the status-quo of One Coalition, One Labor will remain.

I’m well aware of that, and just so you’re aware, Zed did not manage a quota on first preference votes in 2013 or 2016. It would probably only take 2-3% of voters changing from preferencing the Liberals ahead of the Greens for Zed to lose. If it was to happen, the Greens shouldn’t get too comfortable as the odds would be stacked in favour of the Libs winning it back again in 2022, as long as they selected a better candidate than Zed.

they received 0.9923 and 0.9964 of a quota on first preferences at the last two elections. 300 votes off a quota on first preference at the last election.

The Greens got around 0.4 and 0.5 at both.

It would take a significant shift of voters for the Libs to not retain the seat, and as below, the only way I could see it happening is if there was a relatively strong independent conservative candidate to split the Libs vote. Otherwise it’s almost certain that they’d retain the seat even without getting the quota on first preference.

In 2016 Zed was 2001 votes short of a quota on first preferences, the other 1683 Liberal votes being for their other candidate. The second Liberal was excluded on count 25 and of the 1764 votes she had at that time, only 993 went to Zed, still leaving him 74 votes short of a quota. When he was elected on count 29, the remaining candidates were LDP with 8251, ALP2 with 12593, AJP with 5419, GRN with 42,682, CDP with 3883 and ASXP with 11857. If we say the CDP & LDP preferences went to the Libs and the others went to the Greens, that may be close to a full distribution of preferences. That would give Zed another 12134 votes of 254767 cast, so that’s close to 5% rather than the 2-3% I suggested above. In very rough terms, that would mean if the Liberal first preference vote dropped from 33% to 28% it would be on a knife edge and any lower he’d probably lose. If we go back to the Greens poll from August, the rough numbers I looked at suggested a 7% swing against the Liberals in an area that was already fairly poor for them. If that poll was close to accurate, then he could be in danger of losing the seat.

Jackson Bond6:16 pm 26 Nov 18

The simple fact is that there are more than enough people in the ACT who will never vote for anything other than the party they have always voted for. This enables both of the major parties to get a quota. Unless we get more senators that is unlikely to ever change.

Every couple of years this gets trotted out and every couple of years the Libs win the seat.

It’s pure fantasy mainly from Greens supporters that think they’re a chance of winning this Senate seat.

Without a significantly high profile, relatively conservative independent running to split the Libs vote, Zed will win again comfortably.

I’m no fan of Andrew Barr and ACT Labor (as evidenced by many of my responses). But I’m even less a fan of Zed and his total disconnect to the real world issues of every day Canberra.

I just want:
. A fairer and more equitable Canberra and Australia,
. ‘Evidenced based’ progressive policies that take us towards a better future.
. Less Left v Right, less Conservative v Liberal, and much less political Opinion dressed up as researched facts and analysis.

The things I want, are the exact opposite of what Zed brings to the table. Time for the major political parties to provide candidates who stand up for Canberra and all her residents. Not just pollies who continue to toe the party line, no matter what the policy is.

We don’t always agree BJ, but on this one you are spot on!

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