Is The Ground Shifting?

With the Federal election now only months away, speculation about the likely result is taking on a distinctly different tone from that which has prevailed for much of the year.

In the words of Laurie Oakes in the latest edition of The Bulletin, “you can feel the ground moving. Things are looking better for John Howard, shakier for Kim Beazley.”

The year began with opinion polls showing the coalition struggling federally and in all States. Since 1998, the ALP has won government in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. It has been overwhelmingly re-elected in New South Wales and Queensland. [Read more...]


Howard Says He Has Listened To The Voters But Maintains Government Direction Is Sound

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has held a press conference in Canberra this afternoon in which he has accepted responsibility for the Ryan by-election.

HowardHoward says he has heard what the voters have to say, but he maintained that the result was more akin to the by-elections in Adelaide and Port Adelaide in 1988, and Oxley in 1989. In these elections, the Hawke government suffered large swings, up to 14%, losing the previously safe Adelaide electorate.

Howard argued that the swing of 10% against his government in Ryan was less than the swings against the ALP in its by-elections and denied that the result meant he could not win this year’s general election.

The Prime Minister argued that he would need to explain his government’s policies better and said that the nation could not pull back from its involvement with the rest of the world. [Read more...]


A Night Of See-Saw Counting In Ryan By-Election

Counting in the Ryan by-election showed a strong swing to the ALP from the outset, but a close result was also evident from the earliest figures.

At one stage, the Australian Electoral Commission website reported that counting in all 32 booths had been completed and gave the Liberal candidate, Bob Tucker, a narrow lead of 50.13%. Around an hour later, the site was updated with fresh figures showing the Labor candidate, Leonie Short, with a lead of 50.64%.

This is how the night unfolded: [Read more...]


The (Former?) Liberal Party Stronghold of Ryan

The Queensland electorate of Ryan was created at the redistribution of 1948.

The first election for Ryan was held in 1949 and resulted in the election of Nigel Drury of the Liberal Party. Drury held the seat until the 1975 election when John Moore, also from the Liberal Party, was returned.

Ryan

The seat has never been held by the Australian Labor Party.

The ALP has never polled more than 42.37% of the primary vote in Ryan, a performance it achieved in the large swing to Labor in the 1969 Federal election.

The Liberal Party has consistently polled between 50% and 60% of the primary vote, except on those occasions when there was a three-cornered contest with the National Party, or the Democratic Labor Party. [Read more...]


By-Election: Day Of Reckoning In Ryan

A seminal moment in the life of the Howard government will come today with voting in the by-election for Ryan in Brisbane’s western suburbs.

TelegraphOpinion polls continue to predict a large swing against the Liberal Party, enough to deliver the seat to the ALP for the first time in its history.

Most polls put the swing around the 13% mark. The government needs to lose only 9.5% to be defeated.

The by-election is being compared to those in Bass in 1975 and Canberra in 1995. In each case, safe Labor electorates recorded large swings to the Liberals and heralded the demise of the Whitlam and Keating governments.

In a week which has seen the value of the Australian dollar fall below 50 U.S. cents and unemployment increase to 6.9%, the government has also been battling the growing belief that Australia is headed for an economic recession. Last week, the December quarter economic growth figures showed a decline of 0.6%. [Read more...]


The Politics Of The Exchange Rate

The overnight news that the Australian dollar fell below 50 U.S. cents on international money markets is a significant symbolic political event.

Herald-SunIn the aftermath of a decline in economic growth in the December quarter, and with the latest unemployment figures due to be released today, the news could not come at a worse time for the Howard government.

Indeed, media reports today suggest that the Liberal Party has all but written off its chances of winning the Ryan by-election on Saturday. [Read more...]


How Will Beazley Fund Rollback?

This is the text of a statement issued by Prime Minister John Howard in the lead-up to the Ryan by-election.

The G.S.T. has emerged as a major issue affecting the electoral support of the government.

Earlier, Howard had claimed that the ALP would raise the rate of the GST if elected to office, despite the fact that the ALP has consistently opposed the GST and voted against it in both houses of parliament in 1999. [Read more...]