Skip to content Skip to main navigation


Canberra’s Leading
Relationship Lawyers

Who will win the 2020 ACT Election?

Paul Costigan 19 March 2018 45

2016 election signs. Photo: Paul Costigan.

Observing the current government and its attitude towards the electorate, it does make you wonder about the 2016 election results and whether this will be repeated in 2020.

Looking back at that last election, Labor should have lost it for many reasons. High on the list were questions emerging around land deals being done within the Chief Minister’s portfolio – along with the rotten way that so many residents were being treated over questionable developments under the guise of Urban Redevelopment.

Despite these issues that so many people were angry about, the reality was that the Liberals did not present a plausible case that they were the alternate government.

How could we forget all that screaming and ranting about the tram? I was sure the sky was going to fall as well.

Too many swinging voters were scared off by all that noise. It was not what you should expect from a mature incoming government. Let alone that so much of it sounded like another version of rants and spin that we had suffered from the Abbott-led Federal government.

In short, the Liberal lost that election and left the incumbents in place. As for the list of independents – there were some good people standing but it was no surprise that the voting system worked against them and so none made it through. A shame.

With 18 months having passed since the 2016 election, have things changed on the hot topic of planning and development? Political watchers were amused that much was made of the fact that a few new jobs were established and some of the deck chairs were shuffled. Nothing but a good chuckle was the polite response to all the spin.

Sadly the reality is the culture of how the government deals with residents is much the same. Maybe it has even worsened given the populist rhetoric from the Chief Minister.

How a government embraces transparency is an important sign. Again not much has changed. The most recent example of this was the Planning Minister’s response to the Auditor-General’s look into the mysterious deal with the Tradies over land swaps in Dickson. The Minister responded that all this was now behind us – nothing to see here.

Somehow this does not match up with the millions lost to the taxpayers. And so on transparency – the race to the bottom continues. They seem not to understand how the electorate is viewing them. Not good!

Recently I was in at the Legislative Assembly and could hear the Transport Minister responding to the question we all would like to hear about – why is there no tram stop in Mitchel? The response was nothing short of an insult to the electorate.

The Minister spun out a five-minute answer about how she Googled something and attempted really dumb jokes about the responses she got. It was very apparent that her understanding of how Google works was naïve at best – or better put – downright silly.

Is this a mature government? I do not think so.

Things have possibly worsened, despite the rhetoric and media releases to the contrary.

On the other side, we recently saw the intervention from the ACT Liberal senator that he was going to ask a question in the Senate Estimates about the plans for the tram to go to Woden. I shuddered when I heard that bit of stupidity.

So here we go again – the Liberals are about to bang on again about the tram. Have they not learnt anything from how they conducted the 2016 election? Apparently very little based on this announcement.

At this point in time, the ACT Labor neo-liberal Government is carrying on with the same arrogance that they had going into the 2016 election. So I expect that they will carry on like this for the next two and half years.

One dramatic change could be the departure of the current Chief Minister. Will he or won’t he depart for that great vineyard in a southern state? If that did happen, then that could change the game going into the next election, as it would remove a face that has been identified with most of the issues residents see not being taken seriously. But who would replace him?

On the other side of the assembly, has the opposition started to act like an incoming government? I have seen a sign that two or three Liberals members are doing some in-depth work on several issues, but as yet I don’t think that they have been able to create a profile that would be convincing and bring across enough of those swinging voters.

It will take an enormous amount of intelligent, people-friendly policy profiles and statements to deal a blow to this current government’s hold on power – despite all their shady goings-on.

So back to my question: Who is to win the October 2020 ACT Elections?

The present Labor Government remains on the nose. The Greens seem to be a part civilizing influence that works some of the time. Meanwhile, the alternative still does not look ready especially given the occasional ultra conservative statements from a couple of them.

If the election was held today, I suggest that the Labor/Greens would scrape through but not because they are liked – more because of the lack of a positive sounding and a well-led alternative.

I guess we will be watching this space over the next year or so to see which individuals and which groups can sound more likeable, trustworthy, relevant and more ‘government-like’.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Share them with us by commenting below.

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
45 Responses to Who will win the 2020 ACT Election?
gooterz gooterz 11:10 pm 21 Mar 18

Is it true they ripped down the 2018 signs from the tram?
No progress on the unfunded super liability of billions, which is going to start to draw out.

Assuming tram construction and delays will travel into 2019 I don’t believe they’ll have the numbers.

Sadly I think libs are too broke to run any kind of campaign.
The assembly definitely needs new blood.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:31 am 22 Mar 18

    Perhaps you should actually read the ACT budget before talking about the unfunded super liability? And the way it’s clearly being addressed and funded each year?
    Here you go:

    Sure it will be a big drain on the budget for the next 15 years or so but it’s not like it hasn’t been modelled and planned for. They’ve currently got $3.7 billion in assets put away for the liability.

buttermaker buttermaker 8:52 pm 21 Mar 18

The elephant in the room of course is the total unelectability of Liberal leader Alistair Coe. Paul Costigan was too polite to mention Coe by name but his reference to the lack of ‘a well-led’ alternative government speaks volumes.

Coe is totally out of his depth. He is dot-point driven and unable to speak confidently and passionately about any issues of concern to most Canberrans. Virtually his whole working career has been spent in the Assembly and boy does it show. After more than years in the Assembly he has nothing to show in terms of policy direction. As Shadow Treasurer he was invisible.

Few in the Canberra Liberals, MLAs included, believe they can win under Coe, and speculation is rife about potential replacement ‘dream teams’. Some MLAs don’t wish to spend another 7 years in Opposition and are already considering jumping ship at or before the next election.

One MLA describes Coe as a ‘campaigning machine’ but the awful performance of the Canberra Liberals in the last election reflects badly on Coe and the party hacks he has selected to run the party machine. There has not been an experienced party professional running the Liberals’ campaign effort for years. Unless the Party makes radical changes it is will still be in Opposition in 2030.

If Coe is pushed or jumps before the election it will be interesting to see what he does next. I can’t see Zed standing aside in a hurry!

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:52 am 22 Mar 18

    As a past Liberal Party member I totally agree with all that.

    Belconandonandon Belconandonandon 10:49 am 22 Mar 18

    I was honestly baffled when they made Coe their leader unchallenged – did they WANT to lose the next election?

    Garfield Garfield 12:46 pm 22 Mar 18

    Who else could they have chosen right after the election? It must be a huge ask for a newly elected MLA who’s never served as a politician before to assume the leadership. Despite losing, and seeing the vote go backwards a little, I think they should have stuck with Hanson in the short term. That would have given the party room the chance to see if he could learn from his mistakes while letting the new MLA’s demonstrate their talent or lack thereof. I’d have to say that since the last election, I’ve seen more of Parton than any other Liberal, with Wall & Coe tied for second. As leader Coe should be seen much more than anyone else and the fact he hasn’t been is really indicative he’s not up to the job. He might do ok as a minister, at least compared to the ministers on the other side of the chamber, but he’s not a chief minister.

Geoffrey John Randal Geoffrey John Randal 6:03 pm 21 Mar 18

‘Things have worsened ‘? Really? Canberra is a very liveable small city with a well educated population which is mostly very well off.

Tracy Hancock Tracy Hancock 5:17 pm 21 Mar 18

There is no one decent to vote for in Canberra. Nowadays I vote for independent candidates.

Jackson Bond Jackson Bond 4:49 pm 21 Mar 18

Seriously, is this even in question? Canberra would elect a broken toaster if it ran under the Labor/Greens ticket.

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 4:49 pm 21 Mar 18

Paul, I believe your somewhat benevolent assessment of Light Rail as an issue casts you as somewhat Labor-leaning. What about an alternative take? You could perhaps excuse Stage 1 as it is triggering a real estate boom along its Northbourne Ave route, with the resulting explosion in apartment numbers feeding into what is shaping as Barr’s “rivers of gold” budget repair strategy. But Light Rail was still the lowest returning of the options assessed in the initial study conducted by and for the government. As for Stage 2, if ever I’ve seen a project desperately in search of a business plan, this is it. Because of Stage 2, I see Light Rail as a long-term drain on ACT finances, thus presenting an opportunity for the Libs to say how they’d do it better.

Planning and development is set on one path only, that is of turning large parts of Canberra into concrete jungles, leaving little room for affordable family homes with backyards. What is the Liberals’ vision?

We’re all groaning under stupendous rates increases as well as being run dry by the excessive increases in other fees and charges in recent years. At the same time, at least in my area, our municipal presentation is both shabby and shameful. What is the Liberals’ alternative budget vision and, within this, do they have a strategy for helping us feel proud of our city once more and also to feel we can actually afford to live here?

Finally, why put all the pressure on the Liberals? They haven’t been in power for 17 years now, yet people seem to be able to say unambiguously they’re a bad bet for vague ideological reasons. We’ve become effectively a one-party state and need to start resolving to vote for change.

    JC JC 7:03 am 22 Mar 18

    Everything I’ve read of Paul on this board says to me he leans right not left.

    And why put pressure on the Libs? Simple they won’t get voted in unless their is a major stuff up by Labor OR they present themselves and an electable alternative.

    All they do at present is try to muk rake in the vain hope of finding a failing rather than be positive about what they can offer as an alternative.

Mac John Mac John 2:09 pm 21 Mar 18

The Liberals need to show that they can be an effective Government. Also Mr Barr should resign effective immediately given he was Chief Minister that the time nearly two million dollars of public money was given to the Tradies Club and indirectly to the CFMEU and the Labor Party May benefit from future CFMEU donations through the land deals. #canberratimes #barr #canberraliberals. #greens

Maddison Farrawell Maddison Farrawell 1:26 pm 21 Mar 18

Need to watch more Friendlyjordies

Luke Kalkman Luke Kalkman 1:25 pm 21 Mar 18

I honestly think that no one should show up to vote.

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 12:09 pm 21 Mar 18

Glorified local council and just as amateurish....

Jared James Jared James 10:56 am 21 Mar 18

I think the reality is that the people of Canberra know exactly what would happen if the LNP got their fingers in the ACT pie. I mean take Zed Seselja he's the most baffling individual I've ever had the chance of not meeting. I've written his office 5 times and all I got was a return email saying thanks we'll get back to you in the fullness of time.

Grail Grail 10:26 am 21 Mar 18

The Liberals are the ones so concerned about excessive spending that they want to closely examine the cost of painting lines on roads. In the meantime they supported increased election funding (dollars per vote given to candidates) and MLA salaries.

They are so busy attacking the Labor Party’s policies and having internal crises that they have no time to formulate meaningful policies of their own.

Belconandonandon Belconandonandon 10:20 am 21 Mar 18

The reality is that Canberra is a prosperous place, and for all its faults Labor does have a clear policy platform and a vision for Canberra. If the Liberals ever want to get elected, they need to actually give people a reason to vote for them rather than expecting to get elected by default.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:03 am 22 Mar 18

    If you mean “profitless prosperity” I will agree with you.

Shell Keogh Shell Keogh 10:17 am 21 Mar 18

No one to vote for!

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 9:53 am 21 Mar 18

The next election result may depend on whether Andrew “I hate journalists” Barr is still Chief Minister.

Drew Reis Drew Reis 9:26 am 21 Mar 18

Canberra is thriving!! And getting much better. Everything the voters wanted from the election is going ahead. This is wonderful that the ACT Government has integrity by getting what they promised done ✅

Well done Andrew Barr. You’re doing great, keep inspiring! ✅

Alan James Alan James 8:57 am 21 Mar 18

Unfortunately there is no effective opposition. The ACT LNP gets no coverage in the media and is virtually invisible to the Electorate. I have seen nothing of them since the last election campaign. So we will probably end up with a continuation of the Barr Property Development Party. Any change would be good for Democracy.

    Phill Wall Phill Wall 10:33 am 21 Mar 18

    I saw a lot of them (too much in fact) - but it was just about all the all the same 2 messages - Opposing Same Sex marriage and the Tram. "No" as a platform may have got Tony Abbott elected but I think they need to actually do a lot better.

    Tim Primmer Tim Primmer 11:18 am 21 Mar 18

    So true Phill no new policy from the Liberals, but what’s new..

Garfield Garfield 8:10 am 21 Mar 18

Let’s start with the contention that the Liberals should have won 2016. In 2012 they won 38.9% of first preferences vs the Labor-Green coalition on 49.6%, a deficit of 10.7%. In 2016 it was 36.7% vs 48.7%, a deficit of 12%. Rather than the needed swing, the Libs went backwards.

On the tram, polling reportedly showed that significant numbers of Labor voters had serious reservations about it, so it was a legitimate area to target, but those reservations didn’t result in a swing to the opposition, probably meaning that too much emphasis was placed on it and not enough on other areas. I’d suggest the conservative coup against Humphries and Liberal policies federally probably accounted for the drop in the Liberal vote.

Looking at the figures it would appear that the government was not really on the nose in 2016. If they had been, surely there would have been a bigger drop in their primary vote that would have gone to minor parties if not to the opposition. I struggle to see how the Libs could have won government in 2016 given the resilience of the government vote even in the face of the problems mentioned, but it certainly could and should have been closer. The Libs didn’t do enough in 2013-2015 to reassure the public they were a safe alternative.

Since the election the government has provided lots of ammunition, but the opposition haven’t used it effectively. I wonder if Coe, as a young social conservative whose career has been all politics, can appeal to enough voters. Especially if Barr goes and takes some of the stink with him. I vote Liberal but have reservations about him, so how will swinging voters choose him? Right now the government should still be 10% in front of the opposition.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:46 am 22 Mar 18

    You can’t really look at the overall election results in isolation of the results in each electorate which is what matters.

    Sure, many people were worried about the tram and you claim it didn’t result in a swing against Labor/Greens which is true overall but when you look at the electorate breakdown, it’s mainly because the electorates that would significantly benefit from the Tram (Kurrajong and Yerrabi) voted heavily Labor/Greens.

    If you look at Murrumbidgee and Brindabella, the two electorates least likely to benefit from the Tram, they had large swings against Labor/Greens.

    The ALP basically gambled that their vote buying in the northern areas of Canberra would see them home in the election and they were correct. The general apathy in some areas was matched and exceeded by the support of getting “free” stuff in others.

    However, how long that kind of play can last long term before the residents in other areas are sufficiently annoyed to boot them out?

    Belconandonandon Belconandonandon 4:17 pm 22 Mar 18

    chewy- I just had a look at the election results and there was actually a bigger swing against the Liberals in Brindabella (along with Ginninderra, Yerrabi and Kurrajong).

    Plus, if your theory is correct won’t stage two of the light rail to Woden result in a swing to Labor in Murrumbidgee and any electorate they extend it to after that? If so, isn’t there an argument that isn’t so much a cynical gamble but rather building infrastructure people want?

    chewy14 chewy14 11:44 am 23 Mar 18

    firstly I’ll preface this by saying that it’s difficult to compare between these elections because we went from 3 electorates to 5 in 2016 but you can make general observations on the areas.

    Did you look at why the Liberals seem to have gone down in Brindabella? It’s because Zed Seselja ran for them in Brindabella in 2012 and had such a massive personal following as leader that their vote was abnormally high there.

    In 2016, Jeremy Hanson as leader, ran in Murrumbidgee which is why they seem to have a swing against them in Brindabella but they still had a very high vote and won three seats.

    And yes, if the ALP could miraculously find the money for Light Rail stage 2, they might see a bump in their vote in the Woden area at the next election. The problem is that the likely excessive cost of this infrastructure will start severely hitting all ratepayers and the apathetic people that I mentioned previously will begin to turn on them.

    Think about it, how are people in Gungahlin going to vote after the Tram is built and their rates start ballooning to pay for the Tram elsewhere? You can only buy votes with other people’s money for so long.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 7:54 am 21 Mar 18

Any decent independent candidate? Now’s your chance.

Spiral Spiral 7:49 am 21 Mar 18

The Liberals will lose again. For three reasons:

1) Canberra usually votes Labor.
2) The Liberals in the ACT rarely seem to be able to portray themselves as a credible alternative. They can’t seem to do anything really positive and don’t even exist until an election is close (getting them to attend community council type meetings is almost impossible).
3) In the Labor/Greens coalition we actually have both sides of politics leaving little room for the Liberals. Labor has a track record of jumping into bed with the big developers (i.e. a traditional Liberal trait) regardless of the cost to the community and the Greens are driven by their ideological left wing agenda. In theory the Liberals could do well by picking a path down the middle, but that would require skill and effort.

It would be nice to see a Liberal government in. Even if they don’t do a good job it may make Labor improve their act. If the Liberals lose the next election they should consider officially changing their name to “The ACT Opposition”.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Copyright © 2019 Region Group Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. | | |

Search across the site