I have heard some talk lately that Labor’s slight resurgence in the polls and the fact that every Australian besides Wayne Swan knows a budget surplus is impossible for this government that Gillard may decide to call an election for early next year.
In my view this is simply not reality. Gillard knows that even despite deceptively close polling she will be annihilated if an election was to be called in the current climate. So if, like me, you reach uncharted levels of elation when thinking that the worst government in our nation’s history may be within four months of coming to an end I am sorry to tell you that this motley crew is in no rush to give up the golden goose. In fact, I predict that the Gillard government will be around as long as possible and will not leave the Lodge until the last possible day.
To come to this conclusion one needs to look at what the two party polling (2PP) data is telling us and understand what actually needs to happen in an election for the government to fall. 2PP numbers that we see from places such as Newspoll and Nielsen are generally a broad spectrum national average. It looks at Australia as a whole. A poll telling us that 52% of people will be voting for the Coalition is one thing but what is far more important than that is finding out what people in a certain area think.
There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives. To hold government you need to be able to appoint one person as The Speaker and hold the support of the majority of the remaining 149. As it stands the Government holds 76 (Labor-71, Greens -1, Independents [Thomson, Windsor, Oakeshott, Slipper]-4) and the Opposition 74 (Coalition -72, Independents [ Katter and Wilkie]-2). On those figures the Opposition needs to gain just two seats to hold a majority outright. Any amount the Coalition wins over this is cream, 2 or more seats and Tony Abbott is the next Prime Minister.
The question then remains, where are the seats that the Coalition are likely to win? Does the polling in those areas reflect the national polls or are the figures a lot different in these areas?
I come from Sydney which is a great thing if you are into politics. Living in Sydney means you naturally live your life with a feeling of self-importance and arrogance. The whole essence of living in Sydney is your appreciation that you are more important than everyone else. In most walks of life this self adoration is unfounded however in politics it is actually true. In the 2013 Federal election don’t worry about what happens in Melbourne, Cape York, Coober Pedy, Geraldton or Darwin. If you are looking to see who will be the next Prime Minister of Australia then get a map of Western Sydney and forget about the rest of the nation. That is where elections are won or lost.
There are five key seats in NSW, four of them in Western Sydney, that the Labor party currently holds. If the Liberal Party can take just two of them then that’s the ball game. The seats in question, the swing required and the area they cover are as follows:
1) Greenway (0.88% – 701 votes) – In North Western Sydney, the seat more or less covers the Blacktown area.
2) Robertson ( 1.00% – 850 votes) – The southern half of the Central Coast (NSW), including areas like Gosford and Terrigal.
3) Lindsay (1.12% – 933 votes) – Again the promise land of Western Sydney , this seat focuses on the Penrith area.
4) Banks (1.45% – 1216 votes) – The Southern part of Western Sydney, predominately around the Revesby-Padstow area.
5) Reid (2.68% – 2135 votes) – The edge of the Inner West and the start of Western Sydney. This diverse seat travels from Drummoyne – Auburn.
Those five seats are where the election will be won and lost. The national 2PP can do what it likes, the real question to be answered is what do the people living in these areas think of the Labor Party?
A great way to answer this question is by looking at the results of the local government elections that were held in NSW in September of this year. By taking a look at these results you can realise that the Labor Party is in trouble quicker than Julia Gillard can say “sleaze and smear misogynist.”
At the Blacktown Council elections the Labor Party suffered a 6% swing against it and the Liberal Party gained an 8% swing towards it (keep in mind there are minor parties and independents in council elections so the percentages don’t always stack up neatly) suggesting that the mere 701 votes that Labor needs to hold to avoid defeat are all but gone.
In the Gosford City Council election there was actually better news for Labor. The Liberal Party suffered a 1.2% swing against it and the ALP gained 2.7% of the vote. In saying that the Liberal party still holds four seats on the council to Labor’s 2.
In the Penrith City Council Election the Liberal Party did not run candidates although some Liberal Party members ran as Independents. The Labor Party candidates received an 8% swing against them, similar to the figure in Blacktown.
A lot of the seat of Banks sits inside Hurstville council. The Labor party was decimated in Hurstville with a 12% swing against it.
There are several councils that make up the seat of Reid which make it more interesting to look at but again all of the voters in these council areas told the Labor party that they were no longer welcome. The Liberal Party gained fairly consistent swings of 8 – 10% across the board.
All five of these key NSW seats seem to be in grave danger for the Gillard government. Whilst we might see a 52-48 poll on a national average the figures are much more dire for the Prime Minister in Western Sydney. The people pulling her strings will be aware of this and will not be rushing to any election until they can work out some miraculous way to stop the Labor rot that has set in out west.
So why is the Labor Party so toxic in these areas compared to the national average? In my opinion it is because the issues facing a voter in Western Sydney are extremely different to the issues facing a voter in Redfern, St Kilda or Glenelg.
Cost of living issues are important to people in Western Sydney (myself included). Whilst all of academia land can jump on tv and tell us how lucky we are to have a PM focussing on climate change this is not what voters in these seats care about. They want to know that there is going to be a job for them and money coming in to put dinner on the table for their family. This is something that this current Labor Government has proven unequivocally that they don’t understand. The ALP has retreated from its blue collar base under its current socialist leadership. They will pay dearly for this at the next election.
So despite all the spin and dribble that this government puts out about how they are doing well there is no way that the Prime Minister will be heading for the polls anytime soon, these figures will not allow her to. In order to call an election the ALP will need to significantly improve in the eyes of Western Sydney. Something that this Prime Minister is incapable of.