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Everything has changed in the Australian electoral landscape. Kevin Rudd has been returned to the Prime Minister-ship by the same Labor party that deposed him three years ago. In doing so Rudd becomes only the 4th Australian Prime Minister to become Prime Minster for the second time. The most recent returning Prime Minister before Rudd was Robert Menzies who, having also been forced out of his first Prime Minister-ship by his own party, returned in 1949 and held the post for a further 16 years.

Since the last election in 2010 Labor have trailed constantly and by large margins in the polls. And until a couple of weeks ago it seemed certain that Prime Minster Julia Gillard would lead Labor to a defeat ranging somewhere between heavy and catastrophic. However...

Polling now indicates the race is neck-and-neck. The model's prediction in the moments before Rudd became Prime Minister saw Labor retaining only 38 seats in the 150 seat House of Representatives. Now, two and a half weeks later, the model predicts a second consecutive hung parliament (no party has a majority in their own right).

Currently Australia is governed by the Labor party (centre-left, loves unions) with the support of a number of independents (3 conservative, 1 Laborish, 1 idiosyncratic but left-leaning) and the Greens (progressives). The opposition is known as the Coalition, with an uppercase C as their coalition is permanent, and is composed of the Liberals (centre-right, hates unions, loves free markets) and Nationals (conservative agrarian socialists, loves protectionism). The Labor party need the independent and Green support as they do not have enough seats to govern in their own right (and in fact have less seats (71) than the Coalition (72)).

Kevin Rudd has not announced when the election will be held, but the constitution dictates that it must be a Saturday some time between the 28th of August and the 30th of November.

A fair number of Labor members announced they would be retiring at the election in the days after Rudd was reappointed as Labor leader and I'll be discussing the effects of these retirements, and all other retirements, in this diary.

Voting in Australia is compulsory and uses a preferential ballot (this means that in certain seats the way parties direct their supporters to allocate their preferences will be crucial) in single-member seats for the House of Representatives.

Finally before we get to the numbers I'll just mention a few details in regards to the model I am using. The model takes into consideration the prior voting history of the electorate, incumbent strength (where applicable), and public polling. It doesn't account for potential asymmetric swings within states (not enough polling data available). I'm interested to see how much that ends up mattering.

Tables in this diary are colour coded. Shades of red reflect Labor held seats and predictions, shades of blue represent Liberal held seats and predictions (the occasionally different party names and abbreviations are courtesy of local party branches having inconsistent names), independents are grey, Greens are light green (shocker), and Nationals are dark green.  

New South Wales

Labor holds a lot of seats in New South Wales by narrow margins (10 by less than 6%). Indeed it was Labor's ability to hang on in seat after seat in New South Wales that gave them the chance to form government in 2010. However now that it is 2013 even a minor swing against the government in NSW could lead to a massive loss of seats. Conversely whilst there is somewhat less upside for Labor should they receive a swing toward them there is a non-trivial chance Labor could end up winning seats in New South Wales.

Independents Rob Oakeshott in Lyne and Tony Windsor in New England have both announced they will not be running for reelection this year and the model now rates both these seats as safe for the Nationals. Both Independents supported Labor in the current hung parliament and the Coalition gain of these two seats is a first step toward the Coalition retaking government.

Scandal soaked Laborish MP Craig Thomson (union money, hookers) is technically running for reelection as an independent, for pension related reasons, though he will be receiving, within the margin of error, zero votes. Nevertheless Labor hopes to retain Thomson's central coast seat of Dobell with a less awful candidate.

The retirement of literal rock star Peter Garrett in the wake of Labor's leadership change has had almost no effect on the model's rating of his seat of Kingsford Smith. The model considered Garrett a weak incumbent and if Labor nominate Senator Matt Thistlethwaite as their candidate, as is expected, their chances of holding Kingsford
Smith have in all likelihood increased (though the model considers Thistlewaite no stronger than a generic candidate).

Retirements of Sharon Grierson  (Newcastle), Greg Combet (Charlton) and Robert McClelland (Barton) are not rated by the model as presenting a particular risk to Labor's hold on these seats at this stage.

The model actually sees a little danger for the Liberals in Hume with the retirement of popular MP Alby Schultz.  

The model is very bullish on Labor's chances of finally taking Gilmore from the Liberal party now that ultra-popular incumbent Joanna Gash is retiring. However currently no other New South Welsh seats are considered particularly likely to change parties at this point.


Victoria voted rather strongly for Labor at the 2010 election, more strongly than at any other time since World War II, so Labor don't hope to pick up many more seats here. Indeed Victoria is a state where the Coalition will hope to make gains.
Polling still suggests a swing away from Labor and the model considers the Liberals to have the edge in Corangamite and Deakin but Labor holding on everywhere else.

Melbourne is the sole house seat held by the Greens and predictions will depend on which party the Liberals choose to preference. I currently regard Melbourne as lean Greens but if the Liberals preference the Greens it will move to safe Greens. Conversely if the Liberals decide to preference Labor Melbourne will become a tossup.

Whilst Martin Ferguson's retirement in Batman offers no chance to the Liberals the Greens are talking about their prospects in this seat. The model isn't calibrated to deal with Labor-Greens contests but based on current polling I wouldn't expect the Greens to have any chance in Batman this year.

Nationals MP John Forrest is retiring in Mallee and the Liberals are running a candidate in the seat as well. It's unclear as to which of the Coalition partners will be winning Mallee, but it certainly won't be Labor.

Retirements of Simon Crean (Hotham), Harry Jenkins (Scullin), Nicola Roxon (Gellibrand), and deposed Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Lalor) shouldn't effect Labor's ability to hold their seats however the model considers Steve Gibbons' retirement in Bendigo to put that seat in a bit of danger.


Queensland is an interesting state at this election. Two new minor parties have been established on the right that seek to shake up the established order.

Katter's Australian Party currently holds the seat of Kennedy (which they will retain) and may be a threat throughout rural Queensland with their locally popular brand of agrarian socialism.

Palmer's United Party (or whatever it is called this week) has been established by mining billionaire Clive Palmer to... do something. I'm not inclined to think that it will matter much.

We really need to wait and see how Katter's Australian Party plans on allocating it's preferences to know what effect it might have in seats where it gets a significant vote but doesn't win. For now I've assumed it will preference the LNP (Coalition local name) in every seat and win nowhere except Kennedy, pending press releases or public polling (there is tell that this may be an assumption subject to change in future).

Queensland is the state where Rudd's return has boosted Labor stocks the most. The night of the leadership spill Labor were in serious danger of losing every seat in the state. Now Labor looks more likely to win seats, and indeed will have to win seats if they are going to retain government. Nevertheless the model doesn't currently have Labor favoured to win any specific Queensland seat, though they are very close in a large number of seats and it wouldn't take much extra movement in the polls for the model to favour Labor in as many as 8 or 9 LNP held seats.

The seat of Fisher is listed as currently held by the LNP as Peter Slipper, its turncoat MP, was elected as a member of that party. Slipper is not recontesting his seat. The Liberals are running former Howard government minister Mal Brough who is under a bit of an ethics cloud for allegedly conspiring to ruin Peter Slipper's career by helping to bring false charges of sexual harassment against him.

Craig Emerson's sudden retirement in Rankin isn't considered by the model to be a problem for Labor given the statewide swing toward them but the retirement of Kirsten Livermore in Capricornia could be more of a concern given her very strong local popularity.

The model doesn't consider Alex Somlyay (Fairfax) to be a particularly strong representative and his retirement shouldn't make the situation worse for the Liberals in his seat.

Paul Neville's retirement pulls Hinkler just onto the edge of competitive.

South Australia

South Australia was a very strong state for Labor at the 2010 election but is still polling as if it will swing against the government this year.
The model considers that Labor is still ahead, though under threat, in Hindmarsh and Adelaide. The Liberals will still have to keep an eye on extremely marginal Boothby.

Western Australia

Western Australia voted strongly for the Coalition at the 2010 election and currently hold 12 of the states 15 seats. Both sides of politics hope to win seats in Western Australia this year.

Liberal Barry Haase in Durack and National Tony Crook in O'Connor are both retiring from their vast rural electorates (Durack is about the size of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado put together, O'Connor is larger than Texas and Oklahoma combined) and as the Western Australian Nationals and Liberals don't get on very well
at all (though they do govern the state of Western Australia in a coalition) both parties will be running candidates in both seats. The results should be close but as the model doesn't do Liberal/National match-ups both seats are labeled as safe for their incumbent parties to reflect that Labor will not be winning either.

Long-time Perth MP Stephen Smith is retiring and this will make the seat tough for Labor to hold. Fortunately for Labor they have popular former state minister Alannah MacTiernan running in Smith's stead.

Moderate and popular Liberals Judi Moylan (Pearce) and Mal Washer (Moore) are retiring and the Liberal party are running considerably more conservative candidates in their place. Probably this won't matter except to the margins but particularly Pearce could start to look very close if Labor can get a statewide swing in Western Australia.


With a population of only around half a million Tasmania should be entitled to only 3 seats based on population. However constitutional stipulations guarantee Tasmania five seats. All five seats voted heavily to the left in 2010 and Labor now hold four of the five seats with margins of at least 13.4%. The remaining seat of Denison is actually the most left leaning of all the Tasmanian seats and in 2010 elected independent (and former Green) Andrew Wilkie, with 21% of the primary vote.

However whilst polling in Tasmania looks grim for state Labor (which together with the Greens governs Tasmania at the state level) polling now suggests the federal swing against Labor may not be particularly bad.

The model currently has Labor favoured in each of the four seats it currently holds (more so in the southern seats of Lyons and Franklin than in the northern seats of Bass and Braddon).

The model can't really handle the unique situation in Denison but I have Wilkie listed as likely to win Denison once again based on the assumption that both the Greens and the Liberals will preference him once again and that he will beat the Greens on primary vote. Should either party announce that they will be preferencing Labor instead then Denison's rating will move to safe Labor.    


The Australian Capital Territory consists of two completely safe Labor seats (Canberra and Fraser), whilst the Northern Territory has two very marginal seats.
Solomon makes up the city of Darwin and will probably be retained by the Country Liberal Party (The local Liberal branch) but patchy and poor quality polling makes this a seat one that I don't feel as comfortable with as my model does.  

The rest of the territory lies within the Labor held division of Lingiari. The model considers it to be a slight lean to Labor and that seems about right to me.


This pie chart graphically represents the model's current prediction of the composition of the Australian House of Representatives after the election. Numerically, assuming all leaning seats fall their predicted directions and tossups split down the middle there would be a second consecutive hung parliament in Australia with Labor winning 73 seats and the Coalition 74 seats. The three other winners would have to determine which side of politics would govern for the next three years, or force a fresh election to be held.

Of course there is still plenty of time for either major party to convince the electorate and secure a vote that will allow them to govern in their own right.

Originally posted to Alizarin Indigo on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Had to do it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:47:19 AM PDT

  •  I was intrigued by the term 'hung parliament' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fabucat, Louisiana 1976, WI Deadhead

    as I had not heard it before despite growing up with a parliamentary government in Canada.  The term minority government was always used in this context.  A quick trip to google confirmed that this is a widespread term in other countries but not in Canada.  So I'm not going crazy and I learned something new.

    thanks for the very detailed and informative diary

    "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

    by matching mole on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:49:06 AM PDT

  •  Wow... You are very optimistic... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WI Deadhead, Level Ten

    Great diary though. A lot if seats that you have for Labor that I am very worried about... For K Rudd to have made every seat in NSW Likely Labor at worst appears unlikely to me.

    As for Alby Schultz, the reason he stayed until he was dying was to stop the Nationals from getting the seat. A lot of conservatives forget that disunity between the Nats and Libs was what gave us Rob Oakeshott in the first place (because local Libs didn't want the Nats to win). So it will be real interesting to see if the Nats can win back from the indies and Schultz and keep Mallee and O'Conner.

    Very entertaining read (I will probably do a Qld one). Which state are you from?

    Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad - Absent for a few months. Got me a woman and a house now. New comments is [back]... Mark Sanford is what now ? sawolf is Stephen Wolf, & DKE have all the pres results... First!

    by CF of Aus on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 01:24:23 PM PDT

    •  I (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CF of Aus, Alizarin Indigo

      believe he's from New South Wales because he mentioned working the booths in the state electorate of Newcastle and he recalled how he and his fellow booth workers were shocked the Liberals were able to win that seat off Labor back in 2011. (My memory could be wrong though.)

      The Republican party is now an extreme right-wing party that is owned by their billionaire campaign contributors. - Bernie Sanders

      by ehstronghold on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 01:41:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cheers. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Newcastle is still going to remain Labor I hope... But yes it is no longer the safe region it was.

        Acting Assistant Vice Chair of the DKE international cheer squad - Absent for a few months. Got me a woman and a house now. New comments is [back]... Mark Sanford is what now ? sawolf is Stephen Wolf, & DKE have all the pres results... First!

        by CF of Aus on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 01:52:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm actually a little less optimistic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Level Ten

      on Labor than the consensus I think. Mostly because I don't have Labor making big gains in Queensland yet (ever?).
      The Nationals are not going to run in Hume (I believe they did a deal where the Libs wouldn't run in Lyne), but it really is more of a Nationals seat than a Liberal one.
      How well the Nationals do this year will be a big story out of the election I agree!
      Like ehstronghold's memory suggests I'm from Newcastle in New South Wales. The Liberals were making a big push for the seat prior to Rudd's return. They probably won't keep that up though demographics probably do favour them long term here.
      Looking forward to your Qld analysis!

  •  It's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alizarin Indigo, Level Ten

    interesting you're so bullish on Adam Bandt's chances in Melbourne. Personally I think it's probably a foregone conclusion the Liberals will preference Labor ahead of the Greens.

    But even under the best of circumstances I think Bandt is going to have a very hard time retaining his seat. Even when the Liberals gave the Greens a clear shot at Labor during last year's by-election in the state seat of Melbourne, the Greens fell just short of winning the seat.

    Conversely Bandt is very visible since he's the only Greens MP in the lower house so that should help him. And the Greens will be throwing a lot of resources into holding Bandt's seat which also should help their chances of winning a senate seat in Victoria.

    The Republican party is now an extreme right-wing party that is owned by their billionaire campaign contributors. - Bernie Sanders

    by ehstronghold on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 01:58:30 PM PDT

    •  I'm not really (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      all that bullish on Bandt. The Liberals will probably preference Labor. But Bandt is getting a lot of money and support (including union support) thrown behind him. And a swing of just 5% would probably be enough to win without Liberal how-to-vote cards.
      Honestly I'd be happy to label it as "tossup" instead.

  •  Fundraiser menus (0+ / 0-)

    Is the sexist menus scandal going to affect the LNP's prospects significantly in Fisher?

    •  If accusations of illegal conspiricies (0+ / 0-)

      against the incumbent don't hurt Mal Brough then a menu he probably didn't know about ahead of time isn't going to either, in my opinion. And Labor probably aren't going to campaign on anything Gillard related, so that issue is probably neutralized.  

  •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

    Likely Lab in Dobell? At least 1-2 seats should fall in Tasmania. And I think Rudd coattails will have a greater effect in Queensland.  

    •  Dobell (0+ / 0-)

      The model doesn't and can't know that Thomson left the Labor party over a scandal. So if you want to deduct ratings for that I wouldn't blame you. That said, the incumbent in neighbouring Robertson retired due to scandal in 2010 and her replacement picked up a swing to Labor and held the seat in the face of all predictions. Maybe enough Dobell voters will blame Thomson personally and not the Labor party in general?
      I think personally Bass and maybe Braddon will fall in Tasmania. The post-leadership change polling possibly isn't powerful enough in that state to demonstrate to real swing against Labor. Or maybe Tasmania really, really loves Rudd. Time will tell.  
      Same for Queensland. Maybe future polling will show a bigger swing in Queensland. And it really wouldn't need to be much bigger, another 2 points and the model would give nine Coalition seats to Labor.

  •  How about the Senate? (0+ / 0-)

    It won't determine the leadership, but interesting races there, too.

    •  Absolutely! (0+ / 0-)

      The senate is a pretty complicated system that depends heavily on the decisions that parties make with their preferencing. I'll write up a diary after the election is called and these decisions are made (public).

      Obviously though, the parties of the left (Labor, Greens) have a significantly higher chance of retaining control of the senate (even if the Coalition win government) then they did three weeks ago.

  •  Hhhmmmmm (0+ / 0-)

    You are more than a little over optimistic for Labor here alas. The Libs will definitely win seats in NSW and probably TAS. What is the model you use btw? Personally i think there are a lot more tossups.

    •  I presume (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you feel Labor's current strong polling is temporary (I don't entirely disagree).
      If it turns out to be the case and the Coalition regain their national lead in the polls then they will definitely win seats in NSW and Tasmania.
      I use a model based on historical federal results by polling booth (both house and senate).
      The model gives expected results to two decimal places, the boundaries between what constitutes a lean/likely/safe/tossup are a little arbitrary. You could widen the ranges and make more seats tossups. Maybe just assume all seats I have as leans should be considered tossups?

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        Assuming the polling doesn't change then i think you are being too optimistic. Nobody but nobody thinks labor will hold all current seats in nsw. I think if you moved the lean to toss ups and the toss ups to lean lib it wouks be getting closer. Oh and the libs have already said no prefs for bandt.

        Nice diary still. Australian politics done american blog style.

        Maybe the current margins for seats to fall should be included?

  •  what's the main factor in north sydney being lib? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    and by north sydney, is that generally everything north of the harbor?


    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:00:21 AM PDT

  •  Does Australia have any real "bible belt"? (0+ / 0-)

    Just curious if they have any real fundie region like we do in the U.S.  And what's the deal with Queensland being so conservative?

    •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alizarin Indigo, ChadmanFL

      Not in a recognisable region like in the US but certain towns or clusters of suburbs are recognisably more religious than the norm here. Important to remember that Australians are a lot less religious than Americans.

      •  Conservative areas (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Queensland and Western Australia are noticeably more conservative than the south-eastern states but that's much more down to a urban/regional/rural divide than a religious thing.
        Religion isn't really a bit deal in the Australia polity.
        One other interesting thing about Australia is both Labor and the Liberals (not Nationals or Greens) hold seats that are socially conservative, moderate, and liberal.
        Both parties win their seats based primarily on economic issues.

  •  Thanks for this (0+ / 0-)

    I'm very impressed by the fact that you've managed to form such a comprehensive model for the forthcoming election and your in-depth analysis of the electoral prospects in each of the states and territories is very insightful. You're certainly giving Antony Green a run for his money!

    Rudd's return to the leadership has certainly made this race much more competitive than it once was but it's still an uphill battle for Labor since it needs to win -in addition to retaining seats -to remain in office. It's a difficult ask but it's not impossible and I think Labor's biggest asset could be Abbott. Abbott has never been particularly liked by voters but he's received an enormous fillip over the last few years by the fact that voters seemed to like Gillard even less. Now that Gillard is gone and he has a much more formidable opponent, the focus will be back on him and his negatives will come more into play. It doesn't pay to underestimate Abbott -indeed Labor have done so before at their peril -but he is a polarizing character and this could very well factor in

    Your hung Parliament scenario certainly could make for some fascinating political times. If such an outcome occurs, it will be interesting to see which parties or independents hold the balance of power. If it falls into the hands of one or more of the representatives from Bob Katter's or Clive Palmer's party (I think the former party has much more chance of getting into Parliament than the latter), it could be very interesting to see how it plays out. Palmer will almost certainly give his support to the Coalition but Katter is more of a wildcard and I could actually see him supporting a Rudd Labor government (although he would have to take into account there could well be a divide in his party between the traditionally conservative-leaning types who would otherwise support the LNP and the more protectionist types who might be more inclined toward Labor). If people like Wilkie (if he gets back in) and the Greens (if Bandt gets back in -I don't see them gaining another seat elsewhere) hold the balance of power, Labor will almost certainly return to government but this will create its own problems since Labor's coalition with the Greens was widely considered to have been problematic for the party in the last parliamentary term (with issues like the carbon tax et all) and Wilkie can be unpredictable at times. Of course the election result could bring in parties and/or independents from unexpected places and this will establish another unknown dimension

    Another thing will be interesting to see is whether the political affiliation and/or performance of state governments comes into play in the way that voters cast their ballots. There has been evidence to suggest that it can play a role. At the 1990 federal election, for instance the Hawke Labor government lost a swag of seats in Victoria coinciding with the Cain Labor government's financial and political woes, but these were offset by gains in New South Wales (where there seemed to be a backlash against the Greiner coalition government) and Queensland (where the Goss Labor government -the first Labor government in 32 years in that state -was enjoying an electoral honeymoon). In 1993, the Keating federal Labor government experienced losses in South Australia which were largely attributed to the toxicity of the state Labor government of the time but this was at least partially offset by making significant gains in Victoria due to a backlash against the right wing state coalition government there . One of the factors that was seen as boosting the Howard coalition government's electoral fortunes during the 2004 elections was the fact that Labor held power in all the states (although not in the territories). Against this all this historical precedent, however, is the fact that the first Rudd Labor government won office even though all the state and territory governments were held by the Labor Party and the Coalition retained federal government the 1960s with most of the state and territories also being controlled by the Coalition

    This time around, the coalition holds power in all the states except Tasmania and South Australia and it also. When the Gillard Labor government was in office, it looked like the unpopularity of her government was going to overwhelm state issues as a factor during the federal election campaign. With the change of leadership and the resurgence of Labor's vote (providing it lasts), it could be possible that voters will once again be more inclined to consider state factors when casting their federal ballots.  Even in states where the state governments of one party are popular, people will sometimes be inclined to vote for the opposite party at a federal level to balance this out.

    I've got some additional comments to make about the electoral politics in each of the states but this post is long enough as it is so I'll hopefully get around to making them later in a subsequent post.

    •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

      I agree with everything you have to say.

      Kevin Rudd is a very good politician, which is not to say he is either a good person or necessarily implements good policies. The Coalition don't have anyone, particularly Tony Abbott, who can compete with him on popularity.

      My initial thoughts when Rudd replaced Gillard was that he would keep the election close and lose by 2-3 points and 10 seats or so.

      But his policy announcements have been very strong.

      Abbott is as popular as sepsis and Rudd had robbed the Coalition of their main lines of attack (Gillard, carbon tax, asylum seekers).

      The next couple of week's polling are key but I suspect Labor might move ahead into a winning position.

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