The Western Australian election will be held on Saturday, March 13. Polls close at 9pm AEDT. I am not aware of any WA polling conducted since the blowout 68-32 lead for Labor in a Newspoll that I covered two weeks ago.
If replicated at the election, a 68-32 two party result would be over ten points better for Labor than at the November 2018 Victorian election, which was regarded as a Labor landslide.
In recent Australian electoral history, Labor was crushed at the March 2011 NSW election, and at the March 2012 Queensland election. In NSW 2011, the Coalition under Barry O’Farrell won the two party vote by 64.2-35.8, and Labor won just 20 of the 93 lower house seats.
A more extreme seat wipeout occurred in Queensland 2012, despite a slightly narrower two party margin. Labor was reduced to just seven of the 89 seats on a two party result of 62.8-37.2 to the LNP under Campbell Newman.
The fortunes of Queensland and NSW Labor have diverged since these elections. Queensland Labor won the 2015 election, and has held office since with wins in 2017 and 2020. In NSW, the Coalition decisively won both the 2015 and 2019 elections.
In February 2001, Queensland Labor under Peter Beattie reduced the Coalition parties to 15 of the 89 seats on primary votes of 48.9% Labor to 28.5% for the Coalition. At the December 1974 Queensland election, Labor won just 11 of the 82 seats; that election was in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era.
The most recent Newspoll gave WA Labor a primary vote of 59%. Once the two major parties would win over 90% of the primary vote between them, but the rise of the Greens, One Nation and other small parties has seen the major party share decline.
It appears the last time a party came close to 59% of the primary vote was at the 1978 NSW election, when Neville Wran led Labor to 57.8%. At the 1974 Queensland election, the combined vote for the Nationals and Liberals was 59.0%.
A 68-32 two party result with a Labor primary vote of 59% would be a historical result in Australia.
Group voting tickets could see micro-party elected to upper house
Analyst Kevin Bonham has conducted simulations using the ABC’s upper house group voting ticket calculators. He says the biggest danger of a micro-party winning is in the conservative Agricultural region, which spans four lower house electorates – Central Wheatbelt, Geraldton, Moore and Roe.
As I covered previously, the WA upper house has six regions that each return six members. Three of those regions are in Perth, so that Perth has just half the upper house seats on almost 80% of the state’s population. The Agricultural region only has 6% of enrolled voters, but will elect one-sixth of the upper house.
In Bonham’s scenario, Bass Tadros, the lead candidate of Health Australia Party in Agricultural region who has put forward debunked theories about a linke between 5G and vaccines, could win through a preference snowball on as little as 0.2% of the vote. Tadros Greens’ preferences are going to Tadros ahead of Labor in that region, so they will be partly responsible if he wins and costs Labor a seat.
This is a very conservative region, and the Greens have no chance of winning a seat themselves. It would be better for Greens voters in that region to vote Labor than risk electing Tadros and costing the left a seat that could see Labor and the Greens fail to win an upper house majority.
SA poll: 51-49 to Liberals
About a year before the next South Australian election, a YouGov poll has given the Liberals a 51-49 lead, a two-point gain for Labor since September. Primary votes were 43% Liberals (down three), 36% Labor (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% SA Best (up one).
Incumbent premier Steven Marshall led Labor’s Peter Malinauskas by 50-30 as better premier (54-26 in September). This poll was conducted February 24 to March 1 from a sample of 843. Figures from The Poll Bludger.
Tasmanian poll: Liberals over 50%
A Tasmanian EMRS poll, conducted February 15-23 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 52% (steady since November), Labor 27% (up two) and the Greens 14% (up one). Incumbent Peter Gutwein led Labor’s Rebecca White as preferred premier by 61-26, unchanged since November.
The next Tasmanian election is likely to be held in early 2022. Tasmania uses a proportional system with five electorates each returning five members that are elected using the Hare-Clark method. With a majority of the vote, the Liberals would easily win a majority of seats.
The EMRS polling suggests a big COVID boost for the Liberals, from 43% in March 2020 to a peak of 54% in August.
The pre-election polls suggested it might happen. But the fact that Labour and Jacinda Ardern have provisionally won an outright majority and the mandate to govern New Zealand alone is more than an electoral landslide — it is a tectonic shift.
You can see the full results and compare them with the 2017 election here.
This is also not a result the mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system was designed to deliver. The challenge for Ardern and Labour now will be to translate that mandate — and the fact that their natural coalition partner the Greens have performed strongly too — into the “transformational” agenda promised since 2017.
For now, there is much to digest in the sheer scale of the swing against National and the likely shape of the next parliament. Our panel of political analysts deliver their initial responses and predictions.
Labour rewarded for its COVID response
Jack Vowles, Professor of Political Science, Te Herenga Waka/Victoria University of Wellington
It’s an historic MMP result, and that is down to one thing: COVID-19. Labour and Ardern made the right calls. Comparative analysis of COVID responses internationally shows it’s not just a matter of what you do, it’s a matter of whether you do it soon enough. Labour did that and have been rewarded electorally.
The polls were largely in line with what looks like the final result will be — the Greens have done a bit better, as has Labour, and National appreciably worse. It’s unlikely they can claw that back to where earlier polls had them. Special votes will be roughly 15% of the total and they are likely to go more in Labour’s and the Green’s direction, as they did in 2017.
The swing away from National is pretty dramatic. If it is indeed the first single party majority under MMP it’s very unlikely to happen again for a long time. The big question is whether Labour wants to do a deal with the Greens when they don’t have to.
It might be in their interests to do so in the long run — in 2023 Labour probably won’t be in such a strong position. If they have a good relationship with the Greens it might stand them in better stead, but it’s a tough strategic call.
As for New Zealand First, according to analysis of the Reid Research polls over the past months, most of their vote has gone to Labour. And that is simply another reflection of this being a COVID election. Labour was rewarded for protecting New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable — and that is in the traditions of the Labour Party.
Labour win masks smaller victories
Bronwyn Hayward, Professor of Politics, University of Canterbury
With a record 1.9 million people casting an early vote, this was always going to be an election with a difference. Younger voters also enrolled in historic numbers, with a significant increase in those aged 18 to 29 enrolling across the country. A generation’s hopes and aspirations now hang in the balance.
Labour’s victory offers the party command of the house, an unprecedented situation in an MMP government. But it masks some other remarkable achievements. The Māori Party’s fortunes have risen, with very little national media coverage.
ACT has been transformed from a tiny grouping of 13,075 party votes in 2017 to win an astonishing 185,723 party votes this year.
The Greens defied a dominant mantra that small parties who enter governance arrangements are eclipsed in the next election. They maintained their distinctive brand and should bring ten MPs into the House.
The epic struggle for Auckland Central by Chlöe Swarbrick (Green) and Helen White (Labour) has pushed up both the Green and the Labour vote — a microcosm of the wider shift to a progressive left electorate bloc.
The challenge now is for Labour to decide to open this victory to support parties. What happens next matters as much as the election itself. Will a Labour government led by the most popular prime minister in New Zealand’s history be incrementalist or transformative in tackling the biggest challenges any government has faced in peacetime?
The Māori Party returns
Lindsey Te Ata o Tau MacDonald, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Canterbury
Tonight demonstrates that Māori voters continue to waver between the Māori Party via its electorate MPs and Labour via the party vote.
On one side there is the legacy of Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, and the founding generation of “by Māori, for Māori, with Māori” in the post-settlement era. Rawiri Waititi, who may well take Tamiti Coffey’s seat in Waiariki, is the living embodiment of the success of that struggle.
The other side is exemplified by Koro Wetere’s triumph in 1975 in creating the Waitangi Tribunal. These two stories — struggle via protest and gradual legislative change — were deeply intertwined in Labour’s grip on the Māori seats until 2003. Then, in one grand racist gesture, Labour proved itself a colonial government by taking the last Māori land, the foreshore and seabed, by statute.
Māori voters have not forgotten the deep betrayal of that removal of their property rights. Hence the close races tonight for those who truly inherit the mantle of the Māori party’s founders, such as Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.
John Tamihere’s close run in Tāmaki Makaurau is more just politics, Auckland style, as usual. He may be wondering why he didn’t go with ACT, which has brought in interesting new Māori talent.
What happened to the ‘shy Tories’?
Jennifer Curtin, Professor of Politics and Policy, University of Auckland
Two aspects are interesting in this post-MMP history-making election. The first is that Labour has made significant gains in the regions. It is now not solely a party of the cities — it looks to have claimed seats that have long been forgotten as bellwethers (Hamilton East and West), as well as those provincial hubs in Taranaki, Canterbury, Hawkes Bay and Northland.
This suggests that while New Zealand First had been gifted the Provincial Growth Fund to deliver regional economic growth to the regions, it was Labour that reaped the rewards of this largesse.
While COVID-19 is definitely part of the reason for Labour’s success, the support is likely to have come from across the political spectrum, bringing its own challenges.
This leads into the second interesting point. Judith Collins reportedly did not share internal polling with her caucus, but public polls suggested National support was in the 30% region. Collins argued the result would be higher, that there were shy Tories who would turn out for National.
In fact, this result suggests it was “shy lefties” the polls had failed to capture. And it appears undecided voters decided National was not for them this time.
Richard Shaw, Professor of Politics, Massey University
The Prime Minister asked for a mandate and she got it. Final numbers won’t be known for a couple of weeks, but the headline result was one last seen in New Zealand in 1993: a political party in possession of a clear parliamentary majority.
All the same, Jacinda Ardern will be chatting with Green Party leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw (and perhaps the Māori Party, depending on events in Waiariki) about how Labour and the Greens might work together in the 53rd Parliament. Perhaps a formal coalition, but more likely a compact of some sort.
She doesn’t need the Greens to govern and their leverage is limited. But a lot of people who voted for Labour would not have done so under other circumstances (no Ardern, no COVID). At some point they will return home to National. Labour will already be thinking about 2023 and Ardern knows she will need parliamentary friends in the future.
But right now Ardern has a chance to consign the centre-right to the opposition benches for the next couple of electoral cycles. There is a chasm between the combined Labour/Green vote (57%) and National/ACT (35%). ACT had a good night but the centre-right had a shocker. National now has a real problem with rejuvenation. With a low party vote, and having lost so many electorates, their ranks will look old and threadbare in 2023.
This election is tectonic. Ardern has led Labour to its biggest victory since Norman Kirk, and enters the Labour pantheon with Savage, Lange and Clarke. Once special votes are counted, Labour could be the first party since 1951 to win a clear majority of the popular vote.
It has won in the towns and in the country. It won the party vote in virtually every single electorate. Labour candidates, many of them women (look for a large influx of new women MPs), have won seats long held by National.
Tonight Labour is looking like the natural party of government in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ardern has her mandate — now she needs to deliver.
Labor has won the 2017 Western Australian election in a landslide, sweeping aside the long-running Barnett government and installing Labor’s Mark McGowan as the state’s 30th premier.
The ABC is predicting Labor will win 40 seats, doubling its current number of seats held and providing it with a clear majority.
The Liberals look to have held only 14 of their 30 seats, while the Nationals appear to have held five of their seven lower house seats. Several seats technically remain in doubt.
Labor’s victory is Perth-based. Thirty-five of the 40 predicted seats it won are based in the metropolitan area. Within the three non-metropolitan regions, Labor has held Kimberley and Albany, and likely picked up only three seats – Bunbury, Collie-Preston, Murray-Wellington. All, except Kimberley, are in the state’s south-west.
State-wide, the One Nation vote in the Legislative Assembly is only 4.7%. It looks like One Nation could win two seats in the Legislative Council, one in Mining and Pastoral and the other in the south-west. This is below the results expected prior to Pauline Hanson’s disastrous trip to WA.
A drover’s dog type of election?
This was an election where the vote was driven by dislike of the sitting government, rather than attraction to the opposition.
It’s rare for a party to gain a third term in WA, and the Barnett government has been trailing in the polls for some time. In particular, as the face of his government, Premier Colin Barnett is deeply unpopular across the state.
The election day ReachTEL poll of 2,573 voters, published in The West Australian, had Labor on a two-party-preferred vote of 54% to 46%. Of those planning to vote Labor, 27.2% said their main reason was that “It’s time for a change of government”, and 16.3% said “I don’t like Colin Barnett”.
Mark McGowan: WA’s new premier
McGowan will become premier after surviving a somewhat bizarre challenge on his leadership last March by former federal Labor minster Stephen Smith.
In the strained economic circumstances in which WA finds itself, it is difficult to run a campaign full of expensive promises. The most high-profile of Labor’s policies was its declaration that it would not sell Western Power, which the government hoped to use to reduce state debt by around A$8 billion.
The Metronet rail network plan gained a place in the public imagination during the 2013 campaign. The basics of the plan survived Labor’s defeat at the last state election as it remained popular within the electorate, providing a clear alternative plan to the changing positions of the Barnett government.
Labor cleverly claimed it would fund Metronet by cancelling the Perth Freight Link, which includes the deeply unpopular Roe 8 extension, and diverting the federal funding from that project to Metronet.
Colin Barnett’s defeat is a tale of a tin ear
The key issues in this election have tended to be economic in nature. WA’s unemployment rates, high state debt, high cost of living, and predicted budget deficits, have not instilled confidence in voters.
The outgoing premier’s last appeal to voters was “please don’t vote for a return to Dullsville” that ended with the old argument that the unions would be in control under Labor.
Given the economic uncertainty, it was a strange plea. Many voters are more concerned with being able to pay their mortgage than take advantage of the improvements to city.
Barnett’s fundamental problem is that while his government has transformed Perth over the last eight years, voters are more concerned with their own economic circumstances, and the benefits of large infrastructure projects have not resonated.
It’s a hard sell to convince people that while the significant economic downturn over the last four years is due to circumstances the government can’t control, the government can nonetheless be trusted to turn the state’s fortunes around.
Brendan Grylls distinguishes the Nationals from the Liberals
Outside of Perth, Brendan Grylls appears to have saved the Nationals from oblivion.
Grylls is responsible, through the Royalties for Regions program, for differentiating the Nationals from the Liberals. While the swing against the Liberals is projected to be around 16%, the swing against the Nationals is projected to be less than 1%.
The fact the Nationals have held their ground is impressive on two fronts. The first was the threat One Nation posed outside the metro area.
The other is that the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy spent around $2 million campaigning against Grylls’ proposal of raising the 25 cent per tonne production rental fee on iron ore to $5, which would deliver an estimated $7.2 billion over the next four years.
Grylls is the member for Pilbara, having moved from the seat of Central Wheatbelt in the 2013 election. The tax policy was high risk, particularly for Grylls himself given that much of WA’s mining happens in his seat.
While the plan seems to have worked in the agricultural parts of the state, the count will continue in the mining seats of Pilbara and Kalgoorlie, which are too close to call.
What the eastern states can learn from the result
In terms of the WA election having federal implications for the Turnbull government, this really was an election determined by local issues.
During the campaign Bill Shorten visited three times, while Malcolm Turnbull made only one fleeting visit, where he failed to deliver a plan to get WA a “fair” share of the GST.
While it is generally not opportune for a national governing party to lose at state level, only internal mischief-makers would try to blame the loss on Turnbull’s leadership.
The most significant issues that will resonate across the country will be the outcome of the preference deal with One Nation, and the ability of the Nationals to differentiate themselves so convincingly from the Liberals.
With 67% of enrolled voters counted in yesterday’s Western Australian election, the ABC’s election computer was giving Labor 36 of the 59 lower house seats, to 11 Liberals and 5 Nationals. Of the seven doubtful seats, I expect the Liberals to overtake narrow current Labor leads in two seats on late counting. If that happens, Labor will win 38 seats to 21 for the Liberals and Nationals, a reversal of the 2013 result (38 Liberal/Nationals, 21 Labor).
Primary vote shares were 42.8% for Labor (up 9.7 points since the 2013 election), 31.4% for the Liberals (down a massive 15.7 points), 5.4% for the Nationals (down 0.7), 8.5% for the Greens (up 0.1), a disappointing 4.7% for One Nation and 7.2% for all Others (up 1.9). As post-election day votes are processed, I expect Labor’s share to drop slightly, and the Liberals and Greens to slightly improve.
No statewide two party result has been provided by the Electoral Commission, and this will not be known until after all other results are finalised.
At the time of One Nation’s last peak from 1998-2001, they won 9.6% at the 2001 WA election. After polling in the 12-13% range early in the campaign, One Nation’s vote slumped to 7-9% in the final polls. Polls may have overestimated One Nation as they were only standing in 35 of 59 lower house seats.
There were two reasons for One Nation’s loss of support late in the campaign. First, the preference deal with the Liberals damaged their brand: it is hard to be an anti-establishment party if you deal with an established major party. Second, One Nation’s policies received more exposure in the closing days, causing some One Nation supporters who disagreed with the party’s far right agenda to desert.
The preference deal with One Nation also had dire consequences for the Liberals. While the Liberals were behind prior to the deal, it did not appear that Labor would win a landslide before the deal was announced. The fallout from this deal will mean that the Coalition parties and One Nation, in other states and federally, will be more reluctant to trade preferences.
Barnett was deeply unpopular, WA’s economy was weak, and the unpopular Federal government was a drag. These factors made a Labor win probable, but the deal with One Nation probably exacerbated the Liberals’ losses.
This will be Labor’s first true landslide in any state or federally since 2006, when Labor had landslide wins in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. By “landslide”, I mean not just defeating the opposition, but thrashing them in both seat and vote terms. That Labor won a big victory in the most conservative state at Federal level will make it even sweeter for them.
Polling appears to have underestimated the Greens and Labor’s primary votes a little, and overestimated One Nation. Galaxy and Newspoll had the Liberals and Nationals about right, but ReachTEL overestimated their vote.
Fluoride Free could win a seat in WA upper house
While 67% of enrolled voters for the lower house have been tallied, only 47% has been counted in the upper house. The WA upper house is severely malapportioned, and still uses the group voting ticket system that was abolished in the Senate.
Using the group voting tickets, the ABC is currently predicting Labor to win 15 of 36 upper house seats (up 4 since 2013), the Liberals 9 (down 8), the Nationals 4 (down 1), the Greens 3 (up 1), Shooters 2 (up 1) and One Nation, Liberal Democrats and Fluoride Free are currently predicted to win one seat each.
The ABC currently gives one seat to Daylight Saving, but Kevin Bonham spotted an error. The Daylight Saving candidate in Mining and Pastoral region is actually the Shooters candidate.
With the upper house count well behind the lower house count, these results may change. However, currently Fluoride Free is winning a seat in East Metro region on just 0.35%. A quota is 1/7 of the vote, or 14.3%.
Previously beaten in a mosque, evangelist has faced opposition for more than a year.
DHAKA, Bangladesh, January 6 (Compass Direct News) – The torture and harassment that a Christian pastor in Meherpur district has faced for more than a year loomed anew last month when a 4,000-strong crowd of Muslims celebrating Islam’s largest festival accused him of “misleading” Muslims.
Jhontu Biswas, 31, said residents of Fulbaria town, 270 kilometers (168 miles) west of Dhaka, accused him of misleading Muslims by distributing Christian booklets. They confronted him en masse on Dec. 9 as they gathered for the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice.
“They also accused me of converting poor people by offering money,” said Biswas. “They called several local journalists in that massive assembly to publish news against me and my activities. They took my photograph and interviewed me but did not publish anything in their respective newspapers.”
Biswas denied the accusations against him, and the Muslims threatened to harm him and others who converted from Islam to Christianity, especially in the event of a hard-line Islamic government coming to power following Dec. 29 elections, he said.
“They said, ‘You will be in great trouble at that time,’” Biswas said.
Fortunately for Biswas, the left-leaning Awami League-led Grand Alliance won a landslide victory in the election, and it does not include Islamic fundamentalist parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami. Prior to Bangladesh’s national election on Dec. 29, the country was ruled for two years by an army-backed, caretaker government that imposed a countrywide state of emergency.
Had the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party coalition government including Jamaat-e-Islami come to power, area Christians said they would be in even greater danger.
“We hope that we can work our religious activities properly during the tenure of this government, and also hope that this government will ensure all of our constitutional rights regarding religious activities,” Biswas said.
Beaten in Mosque
The pastor has been under continuous pressure to give up his faith and not spread Christianity since he was baptized on Feb. 14, 2007, he said. He was in a meeting with members of his church on Dec. 31, 2007, he said, when police suddenly surrounded the building and dragged him out.
A drug peddler, a 36-year-old woman named Fulwara Begum, had left a bag full of illegal drugs behind his church in accordance with a plan hatched by area Muslims, he said. They informed police, and officers arrested him for drug possession and sale – but instead of taking him to the police station, they took him to a nearby mosque.
“It was a trick to arrest me and slander my reputation so that I cannot do evangelical activities here,” said Biswas. “They told me, ‘If you accept Islam after confessing to Christianity and ask forgiveness of Allah, we will not do anything against you and release you.’ They beat me with sticks in the mosque after my vehement denial to their proposal.”
Police called on a Muslim cleric to encourage Biswas to seek forgiveness for embracing Christianity.
The following day, Jan. 1, 2008, police sent him to Meherpur central jail on drug charges, but the jailer would not admit him because of his battered condition. Police took him to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for five to six hours. He was subsequently put into jail.
“Whenever I did not agree with them, police beat me inhumanely in the police station,” he said. “They tried to brainwash me into accepting Islam throughout almost the whole night. But I did not agree with them. Then they tortured me.”
After 20 days in jail, Biswas was released on bail.
Elderly Shop Owner Struck
On Aug. 16, Muslim extremists had vandalized a grocery store near Biswas’ church. The 78-year-old owner of the shop, Abdus Sobhan, told Compass that he was beaten and his shop was looted. They also hurled stones and bricks at the nearby church.
“My angry Muslim neighbors did it,” Sobhan said. “Around seven to eight people came on that night and vandalized the shop. I am a poor man. That shop was my only source of living. They demolished it and looted stuffs of around 30,000 taka [US$443].”
Area Muslims put a sign near the shop that designated it as that of a Christian and stating, “Do not buy anything from here.”
Sobhan went to police to file a case. Instead, officers asked him barrage of questions about why he became a Christian. Resigned, he left the police station.
The father of nine daughters and two sons, Sobhan said he became a Christian on Feb. 24, 2007 along with his wife.
The president of the Assembly of God church in southern Khulna division, Jonathan Litu Munshi, told Compass that Biswas was the first Christian in the area. Through him 200 to 230 people have received Christ as their redeemer in the predominantly Muslim area within the past year and a half.
“Local people filed a false case against him to torture him so that he does not continue his religious activities,” said Munshi. “Unfortunately a septuagenarian convert was also beaten in that area for his faith in Christ.”
The Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami is influencing the area residents, Christians said, adding that party workers have persuaded Muslims not to hire Christian converts, who are largely day-laborers eking out a living.