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NSW Politics

Oct 19, 2013


# % Swing 2PP (proj.) Swing
Murray Scott (Greens) 1,729 4.3% -4.0%
Lisa Walters (Independent) 825 2.1%
Barry Collier (Labor) 18,504 46.5% 24.1% 55.3% 26.3%
George Capsis (CDP) 2,791 7.0% 3.4%
Brett Thomas (Liberal) 15,567 39.1% -22.0% 44.7% -26.3%
John Brett (Independent) 328 0.8% -3.9%
FORMAL/TURNOUT 39,744 81.7%
Informal 812 2.0% -0.7%
Booths reporting: 18 out of 18


Some morning-after observations on this remarkable result.

• The O’Farrell government appears to have pulled off a worse by-election swing than any suffered by Labor in its final term, the currently projected 26.3% swing comparing with 25.7% in Penrith, 23.1% in Ryde and 21.8% in Cabramatta. In the government’s defence, the comedown from the 2011 landslide is off an enormously higher base than Labor’s modest re-election in 2007. Some insight into this is provided by the 16.3% swing Labor picked up in November 2011, just nine months after the O’Farrell government was elected, at a by-election for the rural seat of Clarence. This passed largely unremarked at the time, as the Nationals retained the seat by a margin of 15.1%.

• It would be fascinating to know the precise impact of Labor’s polling booth volunteers from the Fire Brigade Employees Union, who looked for all the world like they had come direct from the front line but for t-shirts reading “stop O’Farrell’s fire station closures” and “firefighters say put the Liberals last”. The union had been using the campaign to castigate the government over the state of local fire services, so the coincidence of the by-election with the present bushfire emergency was highly inopportune from the Liberals’ perspective.

• Voters’ lack of appreciation at having their weekend interrupted to accommodate an outgoing politician’s career move seems to be intensifying, and is presumably much sharpened if it’s their second trip to the polling booth in as many months.

• Barry Collier may well be very popular, and he certainly gave Labor some name recognition lacking from the Liberal opposite number. However, I suspect this to be the least of the contributing factors listed here.

• Hopefully the result will serve as a corrective to the hyperbole that has been inspired by Labor’s epic defeats of the past two to three years. Labor unquestionably finds itself at a low ebb, which only looks set to get lower when the South Australian and Tasmanian elections are held in March. However, the unprecedented scale of some of Labor’s recent drubbings tells us less about the party’s competitiveness over the medium to long term than it does about the increasing volatility of the electorate. This is a sword that cuts both ways, as state Coalition parties learned on a number of occasions in the early 2000s, and the NSW Liberals were reminded today.

Election night

9.06pm. Two-party results for those pre-polls now added, together with 666 primary votes from “iVotes” for the visually or otherwise impaired.

8.52pm. Primary votes from 5460 pre-polls now added.

8.31pm. All booth results are now in, but I believe we should get some pre-polls and postals counted before the evening is done. The NSWEC’s results reporting improved considerably late in the count, so I’m guessing there were technical problems for the first two hours.

8.14pm. Another seven booths in with two-party results, leaving two to come.

8.06pm. All booths now in on the primary vote, with nine still to come on two-party preferred. The two-party preferred result above projects the preference flow from booths which have reported two-party results on to those that haven’t, so it’s very unlikely to change much.

8.03pm. Another two booths reporting on the primary vote find the Labor margin ticking below 5%, but this race was over a long time ago.

7.57pm. Two more booths have reported two-party preferred, the Labor margin being resolute in sticking between 5-6%.

7.54pm. Big round of applause to the NSWEC, which has finally gotten around to publishing some results.

7.52pm. Four more booths in on the primary vote leave the picture essentially unchanged.

7.45pm. Wasn’t looking hard enough – Antony does have the two-party numbers at booth level, so now my 2PP is based on the four booth results with preference flows extrapolated to booths with primary vote counts only (which has made practically no difference, so my preference modelling was doing its job). On top of which, another two booths have reported primary vote results.

7.39pm. Antony now has two-party results from four booths, but without raw numbers at booth level I can’t put them to use. The NSWEC has … nothing.

7.34pm. Two more booths added, now up to eight, and swing holding firm. All results courtesy of the ABC owing to a spectacularly bad performance by the NSWEC. Two-party projection still based on preference modelling.

7.31pm. I’ve now copied the result over from the ABC site, and it appears the Liberals’ concerns were real – Labor look to be romping it in. So far though the two-party result is based on my own modelled preference distribution.

7.28pm. Loads of results at the ABC, but the digit at the NSWEC remains firmly implanted.

7:26pm. Antony Green is able to tell us that “six polling places have Labor strongly placed to win”. Why the NSWEC is not able to bring us any actual results, I must leave to your imagination.

7:10pm. Someone on Twitter says there are “big swings” at the Kirrawee Primary School booth. Not very helpful I know, but all we’ve got at this stage.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Miranda by-election (full background here), with first results to come through in maybe 45 minutes to hour. Official results will be published here, but the above display will lag only very slightly behind. The table will show raw primary vote numbers and percentages, with all other figures (primary vote swing and two-party numbers) booth-matched against the 2011 election result.


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193 thoughts on “Miranda by-election live

  1. ruawake

    Interesting to see people in firefighter’s gear protesting about NSWRFB cuts at polling booths.

  2. Psephos

    That should be very potent. If only NSW had an Opposition Leader…

  3. Nate The Great

    Psephos, I think Luke Foley needs to find himself a lower house seat

  4. ruawake

    From the could bite you on the arse Dept.

    [Sam Dastyari ‏@samdastyari 1m
    The ALP Miranda campaign was Labor’s best ever by-election campaign. Congrats to the brilliant NSW Labor team. #nswpol]

  5. Psephos

    A tad premature. We judge campaigns by the results, I think. Maybe Sam knows something we don’t.

  6. William Bowe

    Antony Green with info not available on either the NSWEC results page or the media feed:

    Antony Green ‏@AntonyGreenABC 53s
    #mirandavotes – 19.3% counted – LIB Projected First Prefs=38.6% -22.2% change – results at http://ab.co/19Sqi8z #nswpol

  7. Oakeshott Country

    This could be the shock of the decade

  8. docantk

    The Firies must’ve been very potent campaigners with the smoke still in the air…

  9. Rebecca

    God, this is a hell of an upset with such a dead fish of an opposition leader in place. Looks like Dastyari wasn’t wrong.

  10. Psephos

    A 26% swing? That would be some kind of record against a first-term government, especially one that has done nothing much wrong and with a hopelessly tainted Oppo Leader. O’Farrell must wonder what he has to do to keep the suburbs happy.

  11. Psephos

    Did not the poll predicting this come out before the fires?

  12. J341983

    Yes… but people weren’t really reading too much into a Lib internal when most thought they were playing the expectations games.

  13. jim_pocket

    At Kirrawee Public where I voted, I counted 15 Libs handing out HTV and 3 ALP. I did speak to the (one) fire fighter there and he was off duty after a very long shift the night before. The size of the swing does surprise me.

  14. Oakeshott Country

    Where is Mcguire Bob? This could have been his finest hour

  15. Sean Tisme

    How could this happen????!

  16. outside left

    Suck it Up, princesses! Tsunami alert

  17. Oakeshott Country

    Is it cynicism about Annessley wasting the electorate’s time ?
    (I always thought he was a cheat)

  18. Jackol

    Well. Didn’t expect a swing like that.

    It’s a by-election, so reading too much into it is a fraught exercise – the punters could be punishing the LNP for putting up a candidate that ups sticks and says “yeah, didn’t really want to do that after all”.

    It could be about the fires and LNP cuts to fire fighter funding.

    It could be a general boot-the-government-up-the-arse-without-there-being-any-repercussions to keep the government on its toes.

    It could be approval of Fed ALP appearing to get its leadership under control.

    It could be “we’ve hammered the ALP enough, they seem to have learnt something”.

    Who knows.

  19. docantk

    Liberal candidate Brett Thomas now a 3 time loser (1999 and 2003 in Menai, now 2013 in Miranda). I wonder if the Liberal Party corruption at the Sutherland Council had anything to do with it?

  20. J341983

    In my mind, this is a combination of a) a massively disproportionate swing in 2011 b) a sense that O’Farrell, while not having done much bad… hasn’t really don’t much at all c) the anti-ALP venom has now largely been purged d) a fairly well-known former member being in the mix.

  21. Jackol

    More silly possible explanations:

    * Collier’s personal vote is actually around 20%… ok maybe not.

    * The voters still feel like having a whinge and they can’t whinge about any ALP government so they have to have a sook and throw things at the LNP. This wouldn’t bode well for the stability of governments in general in Australia into the future.

    * Tony Abbott really has shaken people out of their complacency…

  22. jim_pocket

    As a local, many people seem to be irritated about Annesley. But also, concerns about over-development (Libs on local council raised height restrictions on new developments and changed residential densities). Plus Barry Collier has a good profile (in spite of his previous comments about the electorate).

  23. BH

    Why hss John Robertson already called it for Labor on Twitter?

  24. outside left

    Anyone who knows Sydney will tell you, this is the Shire! Quite white with a rightwing aura [definitely not Haloes]

  25. Sean Tisme

    By-Elections often result in punishing the previous members party for making them go back to the polls

  26. Psephos

    To be fair, William, it’s not actually NSWEC’s job to keep the world informed. It’s their job to count the votes. In the UK, let us recall, there are no progress figures issued at all. Constituency figures are announced only when the count is complete.

  27. outside left

    Jackol #3 ,with a bullet

  28. J341983

    I know you’re trying to search for explanations ST… but that doesn’t explain A 27% SWING…

  29. Edward StJohn

    Robbo’s cut through …. in Bonnett Bay !! Its the start of the comeback.

  30. Psephos

    What’s really weird about this is that Miranda is solidly middle-class suburbia. If this was a by-election in Smithfield, say, you could explain it as Labor’s alienated base vote coming home. But there’s almost no Labor base vote in these suburbs. Even Collier’s original win was seen as something of a fluke. This is positively supernatural.

  31. Jackol

    Oh, and the Greens have suffered terribly again.

    Perhaps the Greens, in general, have lost the sense of being a protest vote. If the punters were having a general whinge I would have thought the Greens would have picked up votes.

    Or did the Greens just not devote much resource to this by-election?

  32. Psephos

    [I know you’re trying to search for explanations ST… but that doesn’t explain A 27% SWING…]

    OK, so what DOES explain it? That 55% people in middle-class Sydney suddenly want Labor back?

  33. J341983

    I did put my guesses down @20 Psephos

  34. Edward StJohn

    People dont like by-elections. Indulgence of quitting 2.5 years in – for another career.

    Collier is a good protest vote choice – into his 60’s not going to be a long term holder of the seat.

    Poor choice of Liberal candidate.

    Robbo – the people have spoken. Talent this good – he needs to be found a federal seat pronto!

  35. Oakeshott Country

    The CDP – a long way ahead of the Greens. I know this is The Shire but that still looks bad for the Greens

  36. Jackol

    ESJ –

    People dont like by-elections. Indulgence of quitting 2.5 years in – for another career.

    Yeah, that does seem like the most likely explanation.

    Robbo is still a dead-opposition-leader-walking.

  37. Sean Tisme

    The good news is that the Greens lost

  38. Edward StJohn

    Hmmm – will this make Robbo’s leadership more or less secure?

    Signs of a pulse might actually encourage a challenge?

  39. C@tmomma

    As per usual,your opinion is based upon your own inflated opinion of your opinions.

    The O’Farrell government moved, not one, but two Censure Motions against John Robertson this week in NSW State Parliament in order to try and tarnish him and the ALP in the run-up to this By-election, and it obviously didn’t work if these results are anything to go by. So, even though, yes, Luke Foley is doing good work, as are all the Labor team, they must be being led by Robertson better than your jaundiced view suggests.

    Not to mention that the campaign team, battle-hardened from the federal election, and under the capable auspices of our new State Secretary, Jamie Clements, a personal friend, have, yet again, out-campaigned the Liberals.

    So, just showing that, when the Liberals don’t have a full court Murdoch press behind them, with the lapdogs in the ABC and other media singing their tune, and they have some very dodgy runs on the board that voters can use to compare their fly-blown rhetoric with, then they don’t come off half as well.

    Or, to put it another way, when the NSW Labor Party, and, by extension, the Labor Party as a whole, do stop the bickering, get their act together and perform as political professionals, then the electorate flocks back to them.

    Or, to put it in a way that Tony Abbott should take heed of: Labor are the natural party of government, and the Liberals only get voted in if the ALP do not have their act together.

    Tonight’s result is proof of that.

  40. BH

    [If this was a by-election in Smithfield, say, you could explain it as Labor’s alienated base vote coming home. But there’s almost no Labor base vote in these suburbs. Even Collier’s original win was seen as something of a fluke. This is positively supernatural.]

    OC I’m amazed too. Can’t believe that electorate has forgiven NSW Labor even tho thd Lib

  41. Psephos

    I guess the next state-wide poll will answer these questions for us. If there’s no change, we’ll know this was just a local fluke.

  42. Psephos

    C@tmomma, thanks for your free character assessment. It is of course a widely held view. 🙂

    All I can say is that is that I sincerely hope you are right.

  43. BH

    Sorry OC – this tablet hates me sometimes.

    The Lib bloke was a twit but that can’t explain such a big swing while Obeid etc are back in headlines

  44. J341983

    I think local factors were at play… so even if the state-wide result isn’t that reflective, I wouldn’t get too excited. Plus consider that when there’s a by-election, people tend to pay more attention.

  45. Compact Crank

    An impressive result for the ALP.

    Incongruent, though.

  46. docantk

    In this optional preferential vote, is the exhaustion rate today less than the state election?

  47. ruawake

    Maybe voters don’t like Parties in Power?

  48. William Bowe

    So far, Labor has 28.4% of preferences and the Liberals 19.0%, with 52.6% exhausting. At the 2011 election it was 24.5%, 23.2% and 52.4%.

  49. Henry

    I think the firies presence at polling booths today was very potent.
    People in NSW in particular love the firies and for many, today would have been the first time they had heard of O’Farrells shocking cuts to emergency services.
    Having a firefighter, fully kitted out handing out HTV cards against the govt is a very powerful message. Don’t underestimate it.

  50. outside left

    C@tmomma, Purrrrrr! Blowback is now firmly in place


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