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NT & WA elections, a portent of the ACT election outcome?

By Jonathon Reynolds - 8 August 2008 3

ACT Legislative Assembly - ChamberBoth local major parties will be keenly watching and ultimately picking over the bones of both the Northern Territory election tomorrow and Western Australian election on 6 September.

Whilst it is a (very) long bow to draw that elections at opposite ends of the country from the ACT could be predictors of the local outcomes, there are some interesting observations to be made:

  1. These will be the first Territory/State elections since the change of government at the federal level last year. Aside from the fact that local issues will have the greatest influence on voter sentiment and intention, this will be the first real indicator (excluding by-elections) of flow-on voter satisfaction/confidence of the Rudd ALP federal government.
  2. Will these elections reflect a general trend that state governments tend to reflect the reverse situtation of whomever is power federally. Obviously there have some been notable exceptions, however at the end of the Howard Liberal federal government, all state and territory governments were firmly in ALP control.
  3. Like the ACT, both the NT and WA currently have majority government.
  4. Like the ACT, both the NT and WA have had recent changes in their opposition leaders. The CLP (NT) has Terry Mills who has held the leadership position since 29 January 2008, after first being elected to parliament in a 1999 by-election, this is the second time he has been the opposition leader. In WA the newly appointed leader is Colin Barnett, appointed on the 6th of August 2008, first elected to parliament in 1990, previously he held the opposition leadership position between 2001-2005. The contrast with the ACT situation is that these are both mature politicians (both in age and experience as elected representatives) and both have previously held the senior role of Leader of the opposition.

For a more authoritive prediction of election outcomes I prefer to defer to experts such as Antony Green who on occasion himself graces these pages.

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3 Responses to
NT & WA elections, a portent of the ACT election outcome?
miz 9:27 am 12 Aug 08

People just shift their gaze from fed to local, once a fed election is done and dusted – and if the local govt is found wanting, the community is going to try to ‘send a message’. I doubt if there are any fed issues involved in NT, though it’s unsurprising that the fed Libs desperately wish there were (look at the polling for federal lib leadership today!) and therefore that’s the way their opinions are spun.

Given the local law and order issues in WA, I predict there will be some ALP pain there also – not that WA voted for Kev in a big way, anyway, at the fed election . . . they’ve been unhappy for a while.

Jonathon Reynolds 2:02 am 12 Aug 08

The election outcome in the NT was a lot tighter than anticipated by the the media with NT CLP conceding (11 seats) to the NT ALP (13 seats) retaining majority government. A sole independent holds the remaining seat. Depending on who’s figures you want to use there was approximately a 9% swing against the NT ALP.

Crikey has a good aggregation (of media links) to most of the main media and psephological pre-poll predictions: http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20080811-NT-result-bad-for-the-ALP-even-worse-for-pundits.html

Manually tracking through the main media sources there is still no clear definitive post-mortem on what the main factors were that determined the outcome in the Northern Territory (and thus the ability to accurately extrapolate to local circumstances) – http://news.google.com.au/news?ned=au&ncl=1234569452

* via multiple sources: Federal Liberal (Turnbull) is indicating that the result is in reaction to the new Federal ALP government
* via multiple sources: Federal ALP (Gillard) is indicating that the result is a reaction to local NT issues and the way the NT ALP handled them
* via the ABC – Professor David Carment says that the ALP running on hard on leadership given the lack of experience of the leader was a clear error – which could have implications for the way the ACT Liberals are currently campaigning. The professor also cites political opportunism in timing of the poll, but given fixed electoral term locally that can’t be a major factor that plays here in the ACT.
* via Mumble – it is being indicated that nobody really knows the reasons for the result were!

Megan Doherty of the Canberra Times is running a story where it appears she did a telephone ring around and asked the various various players what they thought the outcome would be for the ACT Election – so unfortunately there is no real “in-depth” analysis to actually be garnered from this article (as would be expected everyone is talking up their own chances): http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/assembly-power-shift-tipped/1241198.aspx

With 4 weeks until the WA election it will be interesting to see if an results pattern starts to emerge (even if 2 elections really doesn’t constitute a statistically valid sample).

bd84 10:27 pm 08 Aug 08

You would need an extremely long bow to try and draw comparisions between the three.

Yes there are three majority Labor Governments –

In WA they do not have a majority in the Legislative Council (upper house). Yes I’d expect the Labor party to win in that state, but only on the back of the Government calling an election within a week of the (slightly odd) opposition leader resigning, but I don’t know enough about the WA Govt to say much more.

In NT the Labor Party hold 19 of the 25 seats, CLP hold 4 and 2 Independents. They have a history of big swings in small electorates but again a snap election – anyone would think they were worried.. Labor will probably lose seats but not enough.

Here in the ACT there is a totally different electoral system. There are 9 Labor, 6 Liberals (plus one for Mulcahy) and 1 Green. The Government have an approval rating of around 20%, but do have a slightly disfunctional opposition like the other states.

Not sure how reliable any comparison would be, besides bits and pieces. But, I’d take a educated guess that the Government here will have a tougher time getting re-elected here than in the other electorates.

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