Yvette D’Ath Wins Queensland Redcliffe By-Election For Labor With 16% Swing

Yvette D’Ath has reclaimed the Queensland Legislative Assembly district of Redcliffe for the Labor Party with a 16.1% swing in today’s by-election.

D'AthShe defeated the Liberal National candidate, Kerri-Anne Dooley, who stood in place of the former LNP member, Scott Driscoll.

D’Ath was the former Labor member for the federal electorate of Petrie for two terms from 2007 until her defeat last year.

The ALP’s primary vote rose 12.9% to 43.6% whilst the LNP’s fell 14.1% to 35.1%. The Greens vote fell 2.8% to 4.0%. An independent candidate polled 10.6%.

The ALP’s two-party-preferred vote is 56% to the LNP’s 44%.

Redcliffe is an electorate to the north and northeast of Brisbane. It includes the suburbs of Clontarf, Margate, Kippa-Ring, Redcliffe and Woody Point, as well as Moreton Island. Since its creation in 1960, it was held by the Liberal Party until the ALP won it in 1989 and retained it until 2005. The Liberals briefly held it again in 2005-06, before the ALP won it again.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of the former Liberal National member, Scott Driscoll. Elected in the LNP landslide of 2012, Driscoll was accused of misleading parliament over his business interests. He resigned last November.

With all polling booths reporting their results tonight, the two-party swing to the ALP is 16.1%. The ALP won 11 of the 14 polling booths. The swing to the ALP is roughly equivalent to the statewide swing against it in 2012.

D’Ath’s victory increases the ALP’s parliamentary representation to 8 members in Queensland’s 89-member Legislative Assembly. The party lost 44 seats in 2012 and its primary vote fell to 26.66%.

The ALP will portray the result as a vote against Premier Campbell Newman’s administration and its budget cuts. It will also say the result is a warning to the Abbott government ahead of its first Budget. Whilst a win is a win and the swing is substantial, in reality it is foolish to read too much into by-election results.

The next Queensland state election is due early next year, although Newman could opt to go towards the end of this year. The LNP won 78 seats in 2012 but defections and tonight’s loss means it now holds 74 seats. It can afford to lose up to 28 seats without losing government.


Terri Butler Wins Griffith By-Election For ALP; Status Quo Result Sees 0.68% Swing To Liberals

Terri Butler will become the new Labor member for Griffith, following her by-election victory in the Brisbane-based electorate vacated by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Butler

At the close of counting tonight, Butler had recorded a two-party-preferred vote of 52.33%. This is a swing against the ALP of 0.68% since the September 2013 general election.

The ALP’s primary vote fell 1.38% to 38.98%, the first time it has ever fallen below 40% since the electorate was created in 1934.

The Liberal National Party candidate, Dr. Bill Glasson, polled 43.57% of the primary vote, an increase of 1.35%. He received 47.67% of the two-party-preferred vote.

The Greens candidate, Geoff Ebbs, polled 10.19% of the primary vote, an increase of 0.01%.

The other eight candidates polled poorly, amassing a total of 7.25% between them.

Claiming victory, Terri Butler told supporters that the result “sent a strong message” to Tony Abbott to keep his “hands off our Medicare”. She said voters had also reacted to budget cuts by Queensland’s Newman government.

Glasson

Accompanied by Attorney-General Senator George Brandis and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Bill Glasson told LNP supporters: “We’re not conceding tonight but it’s obviously going to be difficult to get across the line.” However, his long, rambling speech to campaign workers had concession and valedictory written all over it.

There are reportedly around 10,000 or more postal and pre-poll votes which will not be counted until next week. They may narrow the result further but are unlikely to change the outcome.

  • Listen to Senator George Brandis, Campbell Newman and Bill Glasson (22m)

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  • Listen to Terri Butler’s victory speech (15m)

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The Meaning Of The Griffith By-Election

by Malcolm Farnsworth

Liberal and Labor spokespeople were quick to “spin” the result of the by-election tonight.

The ALP claimed victory and said the result was a warning to the Abbott government. The new Labor member for Griffith, Terri Butler, told reporters that voters had told her the Abbott government wasn’t what they expected.

Liberals, on the other hand, said Abbott would be buoyed by the result which saw a further swing against the ALP in the aftermath of difficult decisions on the car industry and SPC Ardmona.

The truth is that in politics a win is a win is a win. Elections are about getting bums on seats and the ALP has ensured that it will still have 55 bums on the green leather when the House of Representatives meets next week for the first session of 2014.

We have been told ad nauseum in recent times that a government has only once taken a seat off the Opposition in the history of what is now 147 by-elections since 1901. That was in 1920 under highly unique circumstances. Oppositions have occasionally lost seats to independents and minor parties but overall it is absolutely true that a win for Glasson tonight would have been a big story indeed. Instead, memories of the by-election will fade quickly.

The swing against the ALP of 0.68% is statistically insignificant. The result is best viewed as a repeat of last year’s result. Both elections had 11 candidates, yet the two results are remarkably similar. Overall, it was a vote for the status quo.

The result is also not surprising because the electorate has basically been a Labor seat since Ben Humphreys won it in 1977. The ALP has now won Griffith at 14 of the past 15 elections, losing it just once in 1996 when the Keating government was defeated.

However, the ALP has little to crow about. There was a swing to the Coalition. On current figures, the ALP’s primary vote has fallen 14.11% since 2007. Its two-party-preferred vote has fallen 9.99% in the same period.

For the first time ever in Griffith, the party recorded a primary vote of less than 40%. At the close of counting, it was 38.98%. This is the third successive decline in the ALP’s primary vote since Kevin Rudd won the seat with 53.09% in 2007. It fell to 44.08% in 2010 and then to 40.36% last year.

The ALP’s national primary vote last year was 33.38%, its lowest since the 1930s. The Griffith result is not as bad as that but the the trend is in the same direction. And this comes after a federal election in which the ALP managed to win just 7 seats on the primary vote, compared to 51 seats for the Coalition. The existential issue for the ALP remains the question of its declining base vote.

It’s intriguing to note that the Greens vote fell 5.21% last year to 10.18%. Tonight, it sits on 10.19%, whilst the ALP shed a further 1.38%. The electorate seems to have confirmed its general election decision in the case of both parties.

The government is correct to point out that it is unusual for an opposition to go backwards in a by-election. Given recent polls show the Coalition struggling, it’s worth asking why the ALP slipped back further tonight, albeit whilst still winning.

The reasons are unclear. It may be the result of losing Kevin Rudd’s personal vote – a mere 1%? It may be annoyance at being forced back to the polls by a member who resigned just nine weeks after being re-elected. On the other hand, a defeated prime minister is likely to be forgiven for departing the political scene.

The swing may be related to the decreased turnout. Whilst we don’t have an accurate figure as yet, it appears that the voter turnout rate may be around 75-80%, compared to the average 93-95%.

The ALP will claim its win is a warning to Abbott but this is nonsense. When it had every reason to expect a swing against it, the government has improved its position.

But a victory is always better than a defeat. If Butler turns out to be a diligent local member she may be able to lift the primary vote in future elections. Better to be an incumbent in these circumstances.

The Labor strategist Bruce Hawker repeatedly pointed out tonight that Griffith is now in the top 20 of the highest income electorates in the country. He said the electorate is gentrifying. That may be so but it simply highlights the difficulty Labor faces with voters across the nation. This by-election provides no evidence that the ALP knows how to stem the tide.

The Labor supporters who have sought comfort in the “one-term Tony” slogan and portray the Abbott government as struggling and at risk are, at the very least, utterly premature. The electorate cast its judgment on the Rudd-Gillard years five months ago and there’s no sign in this by-election that they regret their decision. It’s reasonable to assume that voters will continue for some time to cut the government some slack as it goes about its business.

The ALP will return to parliament next week with 55 members and a new face. They won.

The Coalition will not see Bill Glasson sitting on the government backbench. They lost.

But the ALP will still be confronted by a government with a floor majority of 29. And long after the Griffith by-election has been forgotten, the real electoral battle for this year will be shaped by what Treasurer Joe Hockey produces in his May budget.


Swan Continues Attacks On Campbell Newman Cuts

For the second day running, Treasurer Wayne Swan has focussed on Queensland government budget cuts and their effect on unemployment and the national economy.

Swan

At a Brisbane media conference, Swan quoted from Queensland Budget papers which itemised $3 billion worth of cuts to health funding and 2,754 full-time job losses.

  • Listen to Swan’s media conference – transcript below (14m)

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  • Listen to Swan’s media conference yesterday on the CPI figures (19m)

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Transcript of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s Brisbane media conference.

TREASURER:

I wanted to say a few things about the World Economic Outlook which has been released by the IMF overnight. They have expressed cautious optimism about future growth in the global economy and certainly cautious optimism is justified if policy makers get the big decisions right over the next 12 months. And in particular, policy makers in the United States when it comes to the conclusion of the negotiations surrounding the debt cap there and the other issues associated with the fiscal cliff. [Read more...]


Kevin Rudd’s Plans For 2013

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has spoken about his plans for election year 2013.

Rudd was interviewed by David Koch on Channel 7′s Sunrise.

The former Labor leader said he would be working in his local community in his Griffith electorate as well as in the wider community in Brisbane, particularly on the question of public sector job losses under the Newman government.

Rudd said he would also be going around the country to support “my Labor colleagues” in their electorates.

Rudd also spoke about his fundraising efforts with Twinings Tea in aid of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RPCA).



Queensland Government Electoral Reform Discussion Paper

The Queensland government has released a discussion paper on electoral reform.

Media attention has focussed on the issue of compulsory voting. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have attacked the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, over compulsory voting.

In fact, it is more likely that the government is keen to make changes to the political donations and public funding rules. [Read more...]


Gillard Claims Progress On NDIS And Power Prices Following COAG Meeting

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has claimed progress on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reform of the electricity market following today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and the state and territory leaders reached agreement to establish a new Standing Council on Disability Reform. Gillard said: “The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.”

On electricity market reform, COAG agreed to: rule changes to ensure no over-investment in networks; giving consumers a voice in the electricity market; a strengthened independent regulator; more choice for consumers; actions to reduce electricity peaks; and to provide for greater demand-side participation to make it easier for consumers to reduce demand, particularly at peak periods.

  • Read and download the COAG Communique
  • Listen to the COAG leaders’ press conference (46m)

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Earlier in the day, state and territory leaders spoke to the media before attending the COAG meeting.

  • Listen to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell (7m)

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  • Listen to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu (5m)

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  • Listen to Queensland Premier Campbell Newman (3m)

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  • Listen to Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills (2m)

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Text of media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

COAG Progresses The National Disability Insurance Scheme

At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra today, all governments took a major step towards giving people with disability the care and support they need over their lifetimes by signing an Intergovernmental Agreement for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.

The Agreement also sets out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme and establishing arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage.

The Agreement will be overseen by a new Standing Council on Disability Reform, which will have representation from Ministers and Treasurers from all jurisdictions. The Standing Council will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and the transition to a full scheme. [Read more...]


Campbell Newman: Caveat Emptor

Another fine offering from Clarke and Dawe.