Hawker Britton Occasional Papers and Media

Federal Election Occasional Paper

November 2007

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Introduction

Hawker Britton’s Election Guide is designed to provide clients with up to date information on the key issues of the 2007 Federal Election.

This paper provides an overview of the 2004 election results, as well as subsequent by-elections and electoral redistributions.  It also outlines background information and commentary on the key seats of interest on election night.

Sources for this paper include:

Please be aware this guide is not exhaustive, and Hawker Britton cannot guarantee the accuracy of all included information. 

2004 Election Results at a glance

House of Representatives
Party Votes Primary Vote (%) Swing (%) Seats Won
LIB 4,741,458 40.47 3.39 74
NP 690,275 5.89 0.28 12
CLP 39,855 0.34 0.02 1
Total Coalition 5,471,588 46.71 3.70 87
ALP 4,409,117 37.64 -0.20 60
Greens 841,734 7.19 +2.23 -
Family First 235,315 2.01 +2.01 -
Democrats 144,832 1.24 -4.17 -
Independents 343,845 2.94 -0.76 3
Two Party Preferred
Party Votes Percentage Swing
Coalition 6,179,130 52.74 +1.79
Labor 5,536,002 47.26 -1.79
Senate
Party Primary Vote (%) Seats Won
ALP 35.0 16
LIB 45.1 (combined with NAT) 17
NAT 45.1 (combined with NAT) 4
GRN 7.7 2
DEM 2.1 -
FF 1.8 1

Electoral Division Redistributions since 2004

The Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Queensland have been subject to electoral redistributions since the 2004 election.

The redistribution in the ACT was triggered by the passage of time, as a redistribution must be held in each state and territory every seven years. However the number of divisions in the ACT remains the same.

The NSW and Queensland redistributions came about by a change in the two States’ entitlements to representation in the House of Representatives as per the 2005 determination of the Australian Electoral Commissioner.  The redistributions have resulted in the creation of a new seat, Flynn in Queensland, and the abolition of the seat of Gwyndir in NSW.

Both the seats affected by the ACT redistributions, Canberra and Fraser, remain notionally ALP seats.  Canberra increased its two-party preferred margin by 0.3 per cent to 9.9 per cent.  Fraser’s margin remained at 13.3 per cent.

The NSW redistributions resulted in NSW losing the northern rural seat of Gwydir, safely held by the Coalition.  This reduced the number of seats in NSW to 49.  Two seats in NSW also changed their notional party status because of the redistributions.  The inner metropolitan Sydney seat of Parramatta changed from a marginal Labor seat to a marginal Liberal seat, and the outer metropolitan seat of Macquarie changed from a fairly-safe Coalition seat to a marginal Labor seat.

The Queensland redistributions resulted in Queensland gaining an extra seat of Flynn in central Queensland.  Flynn is a notionally safe Coalition seat with a margin of 7.7 per cent.

Retiring MP’s and Senators

Retiring Members of House of Representatives
Name Seat Party Details
John Anderson Parkes, NSW NAT Former National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister.
Peter Andren Calare, NSW INP Peter Andren died in early November 2007, having already announced he would not contest the 2007 election.  Independent MP for Calare since 1996.
Bruce Baird Cook, NSW LIB Member for Cook since 1998.  Former NSW State Parliament MP.
Kim Beazley Brand, WA ALP Member for Brand since 1996; previously Member for Swan since 1980.  Leader of the Opposition from 1996-2001, 2005-2006.
Alan Cadman Mitchell, NSW LIB Member for Mitchell since 1974.
Ian Causley Page, NSW NAT Member for Page since 1996.  Former NSW State Parliament MP.
Ann Corcoran Isaacs, VIC ALP Member for Isaacs since a by-election in August 2000.  Corcoran lost her endorsement for Isaacs to Mark Dreyfus QC.
Trish Draper Makin, SA LIB Member for Makin since 1996.
Graham Edwards Cowan, WA ALP Member for Cowan since 1998.  Former WA State Parliament MLC.
Kay Elson Forde, QLD LIB Member for Forde since 1996.
Warren Entsch Leichhardt, QLD LIB Member for Leichardt since 1996.
Michael Hatton Blaxland, NSW ALP Member for Blaxland since June 1996, winning Paul Keating’s seat in a by-election.
Kelly Hoare Charlton, NSW ALP Member for Charlton since 1998.  Lost pre-selection to Greg Combet.
David Jull Fadden, QLD LIB Member for Fadden since 1984.  Previously Member for Bowan 1975-1983.
Jackie Kelly Lindsay, NSW LIB Member for Lindsay since 1996, where she was a surprising winner against Labor’s Education Minister Ross Free. 
Carmen Lawrence Fremantle, WA ALP Member for Fremantle since 1994, following John Dawkins retirement.  Former West Australian Premier.
Geoffrey Prosser Forrest, WA LIB Member for Forrest since 1987.
Harry Quick Franklin, TAS ALP Member for Franklin since 1993.  Unhappy with proposed successor Kevin Harkins.  As a result, Harkins has stepped down and Julie Collins will now contest Franklin. 
Rod Sawford Port Adelaide, SA ALP Elected Member for Port Adelaide in the 1988 by-election to replace Mick Young. 
Bob Sercombe Maribyrnong, VIC ALP Member for Maribyrnong since 1996.  Defeated for Labor endorsement by Bill Shorten.
Barry Wakelin Grey, SA LIB Member for Grey since 1993, winning the seat from the ALP for the first time since 1969.
Retiring Senators
Name State Party Details
George Campbell NSW ALP Elected to the Senate in 1997.  Replaced on ALP Senate ticket by Doug Cameron.
Rod Kemp Victoria LIB Elected to the Senate in 1990.
Linda Kirk South Australia ALP Elected to the Senate in November 1991.
Ross Lightfoot Western Australia LIB Elected to the Senate in 1997.  Former WA MLC.
Sandy Macdonald New South Wales NAT First elected to the Senate in 1993; defeated in 1998 as a result of rise in One Nation support.  Re-appointed to the Senate in May 2000.
Andrew Murray Western Australia DEM Elected to the Senate in 1996, winning the Democrats’ first West Australian seat since 1987.
Kay Patterson Victoria LIB Elected to the Senate in 1987. 
Robert Ray Victoria ALP Elected to the Senate in 1980.
Natasha Stott Despoja South Australia DEM First elected to the Senate in 1995 to fill John Coulter’s Senate Vacancy.
John Watson Tasmania LIB Elected to the Senate in 1977.  Currently the Senate’s longest serving member. 

Key Issues

The Economy

The Coalition is campaigning hard on their traditional strength, the economy.  Polling continues to suggest Australians believe the Coalition would handle the economy better than Labor.

However, Rudd has consistently campaigned on the fact he is an “economic conservative” and is committed to a balanced budget and keeping downward pressure on interest rates.  This has diffused some of the traction the Government has previously gained on the issue of the economy.

Labor has also positioned the Government as “out of touch” with working Australian families, seizing on Howard’s comments that “working families have never been better off”.  By responding to concerns about housing affordability and the high price of groceries, Labor has gained some ground on the economy issue.

Interest Rates

John Howard’s 2004 promise to keep interest rates at historic lows has come back to haunt him this election, as interest rates have risen 6 times since the last election, including the latest rate rise on Melbourne Cup day.  Despite this broken promise, the Coalition has continued to campaign that interest rates will always be lower under a Coalition government.

Labor, in contrast, have stressed their commitment to managing the economy responsibly by curbing their election spending.  The Coalition’s election spending has given Labor the chance to criticise the Government, arguing such “reckless” spending is driving up inflation and putting pressure on interest rates.

Industrial Relations

Concern exists within the electorate about the impact WorkChoices is having on job security particularly for young people and working families.  There remains a prevalent feeling that Howard’s WorkChoices have “gone too far”.  Rudd has committed to abolishing WorkChoices and to ensuring a strong safety net for all employees through legislated minimum standards and negotiable award conditions.

Labor has also successfully campaigned on uncertainty about whether a re-elected Coalition would take WorkChoices even further.

Environment

The strong showing of the Greens in the last election has increased the major parties dependence on Green preferences, ensuring environmental concerns a front row seat for the election show.

There is no doubt the Government has been slow to act on the issue of climate change, and Labor is campaigning hard on the Government’s inaction on this vital issue.  Rudd and Labor have successfully positioned Howard as a man of the past who is not prepared to address the challenges of the future, as exampled by his failure to ratify the Kyoto protocol.  Labor has signalled that if elected, it will immediately ratify the agreement.

Education

At the end of the first week of the campaign, Labor announced a $2.3 billion education tax rebate. This rebate for families with primary and secondary school children will be means tested and spent on computers, internet connections and education software.

The rebate is available to parents regardless of whether they send their children to public or independent schools but it excludes spending on school fees.

Howard announced in the second last week of the campaign a $6 billion response – an education rebate for a similar amount but one that was not means tested and applied to a wider range of education costs including school fees and school camps.

Health

The Coalition moved early on health, intervening in Tasmania’s health system by taking over Devonport’s Mersey hospital, which was slated for downgrade by the Tasmanian state Government.  The Commonwealth will spend up to $45 million a year funding the Mersey buyout.  Unsurprisingly, the hospital is situated within the marginal Liberal seat of Braddon, leaving commentators to label the measure as “cynical pork-barrelling”.

Labor’s health policy, in contrast, is calling for greater co-operation between the Commonwealth and the states through its ‘National Health Reform Plan’.  Rudd has argued that the unique situation of having Labor Governments state and federally will promote better cooperation, towards ending the cost-shifting and funding disputes that characterise health policy.  However if such co-operation doesn’t occur, Rudd has committed to holding a referendum on the issue of federalising health.

Liberal Party Leadership

While Howard has confirmed he will hand over the Liberal party leadership to Peter Costello “well into the next term”, there remains speculation about when exactly the hand over will take place, and who exactly Howard will be handing over to.  Howard is being coy about when he will hand over, refusing to give a specific date.  And despite Costello being the natural successor of the leadership, ultimately the decision lies with the party room.

The Coalition’s equivocalness on this issue has given Labor some traction.  Labor has strongly campaigned on the fact that unlike Howard, Kevin Rudd will see out a full term, and that a vote for Howard is a vote of Costello – whose policy positions are unknown.

Federal and State Labor Governments

The Coalition has mounted a fear campaign around the potential for Labor to hold power both federally and every state and territory across the country.  The Coalition has argued this situation would mean there would be no checks or balances on Labor’s power.

Labor has successfully diffused this issue by pointing out how the Government’s control of the Senate is tantamount to no checks or balances on their powers, and highlighted the potential for cooperation between Labor Commonwealth and state Governments.

Key Seats (State by State)

NSW
Electorate Held By Margin Odds* Details
Bennelong LIB 4.2% ALP $2.40
LIB $1.50
Held since 1974 by current PM John Howard, electoral redistributions have changed a once safe Liberal seat into a nominally marginal one.  ALP’s decision to run high profile candidate Maxine McKew in the seat has bolstered their chances. 
Dobell LIB 4.8% ALP $1.20
LIB $4.15
The NSW Central Coast seat was previously Labor until won by Ken Ticehurst in the 2001 election.  The Labor candidate is Craig Thomson.
Eden – Monaro LIB 3.3% ALP $1.15
LIB $4.50
Since 1972, whichever party has won Eden-Monaro has won government.  Labor’s Mike Kelly is polling well against Liberal incumbent Gary Nairn.
Lindsay LIB 2.9% ALP $1.05
LIB $8.00
Jackie Kelly’s retirement has guaranteed this always marginal electorate will be fiercely contested.
Macquarie ALP* 0.5% ALP $1.15
LIB $4.50
Previously a safe Liberal seat, the recent redistribution has changed Macquarie into a nominally Labor seat.  A former Labor NSW Attorney General, candidate Bob Debus is a strong challenger to sitting member Kerry Bartlett.
Page NAT 5.5% ALP $1.60
NP $2.20
The retirement of MP Ian Causley has opened the competition for this seat.
Parramatta LIB* 0.9% ALP $1.06
LIB $7.00
Parramatta has been pushed north and west of redistribution.  Sitting member Julie Owens, who defeated Ross Cameron in 2004, needs a swing to recover her seat. 
Wentworth LIB 2.5% ALP $2.30
LIB $1.50
A strong Green primary vote is threatening to turn Malcolm Turnbull’s safe Liberal seat to Labor’s George Newhouse. 
VICTORIA
Electorate Held By Margin Odds* Details
Bendigo ALP 1.0% ALP $1.08
LIB $6.50
Liberal Peter Kennedy is hoping to increase the 2.6% swing against Labor in the 2004 election to defeat sitting member Steve Gibbons.  A possible concern for Labor.
Corangamite LIB 5.3% ALP $1.85
LIB $1.85
Held by Stewart McArthur since 1984, Labor’s best chance to win a seat from the Liberals in Victoria.
Deakin LIB 5.0% ALP $2.00
LIB $1.72
If a consistent national swing to Labor occurs, Deakin could be won.
Isaacs ALP 1.5% ALP $1.00
LIB $7.00
Swing against Labor in 2004 election and retirement of sitting MP Ann Corcoran mean this seat is vulnerable. 
McMillan LIB 5.0% ALP $1.90
LIB $1.80
Long shot for Labor. 
La Trobe LIB 5.8% ALP $1.57
LIB $2.30
Held by Jason Wood since 2004.  Labor candidate is former Victorian of the Year Rodney Cocks.
McEwen LIB 6.4% ALP $2.25
LIB $1.60
Held by Fran Bailey since 1996.  Labor candidate is Rob Mitchell, who was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council from 2002-2006.
QUEENSLAND

Electorate
Held By Margin Odds* Details
Blair LIB 5.7% ALP $1.18
LIB $4.25
 An electoral redrawing since 2004 has halved Liberal Cameron Thompson’s majority to 5.7%. 
Bonner LIB 0.5% ALP $1.05
LIB $7.00
With such a small margin, sitting member Ross Vasta will struggle to hold Bonner.
Bowman LIB 8.9% ALP $1.75
LIB $1.95
Local issues again open this seat up for contention.  Sitting member Andrew Laming was recently investigated for alleged MP printing allowance rorts.
Flynn NAT 7.7% ALP $2.35
LIB $1.55
A new seat with a strong coal industry presence.  Likely to be picked up by the Nationals.
Herbert LIB 6.2% ALP $1.50
LIB $2.40
Regional seat which is likely to go with the government.  A Queenslander as leader could help the ALP with this seat.
Longman LIB 6.7% ALP $2.35
LIB $1.50
Mal Brough’s increased profile makes this seat tough going for Labor.
Moreton LIB 2.8% ALP $1.10
LIB $5.50
New electoral boundaries have decreased sitting member Gary Hardgrave’s margin to 2.8%. 
Petrie LIB 7.4% ALP $1.95
LIB $1.75
A relatively safe Liberal seat, and the Liberals may capitalise on dissatisfaction in the electorate with the local council being amalgamated with the much larger Pine Rivers and Caboolture councils.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Electorate
Held By Margin Odds* Details
Cowan ALP 0.8% ALP $1.33
LIB $2.95
Labor’s Graham Edwards is retiring at this election, making this seat vulnerable for Labor.
Hasluck LIB 1.8% ALP $1.40
LIB $2.65
Labor needs to win this seat.  Hasluck was created in 2001, and has been won by both parties in the subsequent elections since that time.
Stirling LIB 2.0% ALP $2.15
LIB $1.60
Stirling was won by the Liberal’s Michael Keenan at the 2004 election after two terms of Labor.  Could be a key seat to watch if the election result is determined in the West.
Swan ALP 0.1% ALP $1.30
LIB $3.25
Labor’s Kim Wilkie won Swan in 2004 by 104 votes.  Again, a key seat to watch if the election result is determined in the West.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Electorate Held By Margin Odds* Details
Boothby LIB 5.4% ALP $3.00
LIB $1.33
Capitalising on Adelaide’s anti-Government sentiment, Boothby may fall if there is a strong state-wide swing.
Hindmarsh ALP 0.1% ALP $1.03
LIB $8.50
Despite the tiny margin, Labor should comfortably hold this seat.
Kingston LIB 0.1% ALP $1.03
LIB $9.00
The most marginal seat in the country, the Liberal Party will have difficulty holding this seat.
Makin LIB 0.9% ALP $1.06
LIB $6.50
With sitting member Trish Draper retiring, and the anti-government feeling in South Australia, Labor is likely to win this seat.
Wakefield LIB 0.7% ALP $1.05
LIB $7.50
Again, Labor is likely to gain this seat given the strong opinion poll results in SA.
Sturt LIB 6.8% ALP $2.10
LIB $1.58
SA Young Person of the Year Mia Handshin is capitalising on SA’s swing against the Government to put up a strong challenge to Howard Minister Christopher Pyne.
TASMANIA
Electorate Held By Margin Odds* Details
Bass LIB 2.6% ALP $1.20
LIB $4.25
The Government’s approval of the Gunns Pulp mill, which is to lie within the seat of Bass, seems to have had no significant impact on the electorates vote.  Labor’s candidate, former Deputy Mayor of Launceston Jodie Campell, is polling strongly in this notoriously close seat.
Braddon LIB 1.1% ALP $1.12
LIB $5.50
Biggest local issue has been the Federal Government’s intervention to save the local Mersey Hospital, which was being downgraded as part of Tasmania’s new health plan.  Time will tell if the Coalition’s blatant pitch for votes will work.
NORTHERN TERRITORY
Electorate Held By Margin Odds* Details
Solomon LIB 2.8% ALP $1.60
LIB $2.20
One of the 16 seats Labor needs to win to form government.  The Labor candidate is football coach Damien Hale.

Seats of Interest on Election Night

Battle of the Bell Weather Seats - Eden Monaro vs Macarthur

Since 1972, every party who has won Eden Monaro (NSW rural) has gone on to form Government.  However while Eden Monaro is the popular choice of most commentators as the nation’s bell weather seat, the unrecognised and more deserving of this tag is the seat of Macarthur (outer Sydney). After all, since Macarthur’s creation in 1949, it too has gone to every government that has won office.

Macarthur’s margin is 11.2% and currently held by the ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer. Eden Monaro’s margin is just 3.3% and held by Gary Nairn.

Pat Farmer is in a contest with a carpenter who runs his own building company, Nick Bleasdale. Gary Nairn faces Mike Kelly, a former Colonel in the Australian Defence Force.

Wentworth (NSW)

The Liberals have held Wentworth since Federation and the print media of Sydney have treated it as the Big Brother seat of 2007. A recent redistribution towards inner city Sydney has seen Wentworth become one of the gayest and greenest electorates in the country. It remains one of the wealthiest.

As a former Mayor of Waverly, Labor’s candidate George Newhouse is well known in the area.  Malcolm Turnbull’s environment portfolio has made him a target for the anti pulp mill activists, including former Liberal Party friendlies such as Geoff Cousins. An ex girlfriend of Newhouse, and former merchant banker, Dani Ecuyer has hosted beefcakes at Bondi Beach and kicked off a debate about the ethics of a journalist promising a front page in return for directing preferences to Turnbull.

There remains the argument that Wentworth is a true blue ribbon seat only brought into play in 2007 by the King vs Turnbull contest in 2004. King drew a vote of 18% in 2004 as an Independent. A big turnout for the Greens is expected in this seat.

Bennelong (NSW)

If Howard loses Bennelong, he will be the first Prime Minister to lose his seat since Stanley Bruce in 1929.  Howard has held this seat for 33 years however electoral boundaries have shifted west and the margin is 4.2%, well within the projected swing for NSW by published polls.

In addition Howard faces a high profile candidate in Maxine McKew. All this has meant Howard is returning every week-end to campaign locally.

The office of Prime Minister would, one might think, render him unassailable in his electorate. Relentless publicity is of course showered on Howard as PM, however in this campaign precious little paid television advertising has been spent by the Liberal party which promotes Howard in a positive light. Bennelong may not prove resilient to the swing of the night. Published polls have pointed to Maxine McKew having a real chance.

Sturt (South Australia)

All the published polls have pointed to a big swing in South Australia – however a poll published in late October showed the Liberal party just ahead in this seat. Labor’s candidate Mia Handshin has a profile as a commentator and former Young South Australian of the Year. She is an enthusiastic campaigner with nothing to lose. The incumbent Chris Pyne (Minister for Ageing) is defending a seat with a margin of 6.8% and not returned for Labor since 1969.  Pyne is considered a Costello supporter who has come late to a Ministerial post under Howard.

Ryan (Queensland)

Although it has a margin of 10.4%, this is another blue ribbon Liberal seat worth looking at on election night. Briefly held by Labor after a bi-election in early 2001, constituents are said to be unhappy with Commonwealth plans to funnel traffic into Ryan in an attempt to shore up the more marginal seat of Blair.

La Trobe (Victoria)

This outer Melbourne seat is a contest between a former police officer (Jason Woods - Liberal) and a former UN Security adviser (Rodney Cocks- ALP).

With a 5.8% margin La Trobe is one of five Victorian seats requiring a swing in the range 5-7%.  Most published polls have the swing in Victoria just under five per cent, so it’s possible that a handful of Victorian seats will be too close to call on Saturday night.

Cowan (Western Australia)

Labor polled poorly in 2004 in Western Australia (34.7% of primary), and published polls point to a recovery significantly less than seen in other states. Cowan is held by Labor’s Graeme Edwards, a war veteran, who is retiring at this election. Cowan has a margin of just 0.8% and together with another ALP seat, Swan (0.1%) they are most at risk of falling against the trend on Saturday night.

Others

Costello’s seat (Higgins) is considered safe at 8.8%, but some may like to draw comparisons on the night with Turnbull’s popularity in Wentworth. Solomon (CLP held 2.8%), largely a Darwin and Palmerston seat in the Northern Territory, is widely expected to fall to Labor, although no published polling backs this up. It has the highest defence force vote (8.3%) in the country. Bass and Bradden in Tasmania are both under 3% and are considered Liberal wins in 2004 that characterised Howard’s anti-Latham success in that election. In Queensland, the new seat of Flynn has a notional National Party margin of 7.7%, but the strength of that margin will be road tested by the Gladstone solicitor, Chris Trevor, while the National Party candidate, Glen Churchill, will be talking up the impact of local council amalgamations.

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