From the moment prime minister Kevin Rudd called the election on August 4, The Conversation has kept you up-to-date and informed with the best political analysis from Australia’s sharpest academic minds.
In federal election campaigns, it is often the case that the nuances of each region are lost in the whirlwind of campaigning, promises, debates and gaffes. So, The Conversation took a closer look and profiled every state and territory, along with a number of key seats that will decide Saturday’s election. Curated highlights follow.
The home state of the prime minister, Queensland has the highest number of marginal seats in the nation. Previewing the state, Professor in Political Science at Queensland University of Technology Clive Bean argued that it is Queensland’s changing demographics that result in its swinging nature.
Queensland’s population is not only growing, it is also more dispersed than in other mainland Australian states. As a result, the state has a disproportionate number of marginal seats and significant numbers of seats change hands when support swings from one major party to the other.
In Queensland, perhaps more than in some states, support for regional areas continues to be an electoral issue, consistent with the state’s more broadly distributed population. This is one reason why political parties such as Katter’s Australian Party and the Palmer United Party are more optimistic about their chances of success in this state than some others.
The Conversation also profiled Forde, where former state premier Peter Beattie is the high-profile ALP candidate; Pauline Hanson’s former seat of Oxley; the intriguing battle in former speaker Peter Slipper’s Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher; and the inner-city seat of Brisbane.
New South Wales
If one area has been said to be crucial to electoral success this year, it is the ever-growing region of western Sydney. However, Mark Rolfe, Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at UNSW, wrote that New South Wales is divided along more than just one line in suburban Sydney: different issues affect voters in the north and south coasts and in regional and rural areas.
The higher-income, higher-skilled, university-educated “knowledge workers” in the producer services, such as finance, law, accounting, banking, tend to live in the north shore, eastern suburbs and inner west.
opposition leader Tony Abbott is hoping to attract the socially conservative types here and elsewhere in western Sydney with his stance on same-sex marriage, favouring a conservative version of multiculturalism. Unlike the 2010 election, neither party has mentioned limiting migration, in order to avoid alienating these voters.
In addition, we honed in on the key western Sydney seats of Lindsay and Greenway; the rural seat of New England, which is almost certain to be won by the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce; deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese’s inner-city seat of Grayndler; and the Central Coast seat of Dobell.
Generally considered a Labor stronghold, the state of Victoria has been somewhat absent from the federal campaign, wrote Nick Economou, Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University.
With a total of 37 seats, the state of Victoria should figure as a major battleground in federal elections. The reality, however, is that the second-largest state in the Commonwealth (in terms of population) tends to be bypassed in national election campaigns for the simple reason that, for all its divisions, Victoria has comparatively few marginal seats.
Victoria is a strident sort of place – the product, presumably, of an electorate in which 80% of the lower house seats are safe for the three main parties.
From a seat perspective, we examined the Greens’ sole lower house seat of Melbourne; the Labor-held outer suburban pair of Hotham and McEwen; the contest of personality in Sophie Mirabella’s rural seat of Indi; and the nation’s most marginal electorate, Corangamite.
The “golden state” of Western Australia has also largely been ignored in the election campaign in terms of targeted policy, advertising and campaign trips, noted Narelle Miragliotta, Senior Lecturer in Australian Politics at Monash University and Visiting Research Associate in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Western Australia.
In fact, features of the WA-Canberra relationship are often thrown into sharp relief during federal elections. It is reflected in the comparatively modest financial investment by both major parties to woo WA voters. It is underlined by the minimal time that prime ministerial aspirants spend campaigning in the state. And it is also reflected, thankfully, in the amount spent on paid election advertising in WA.
With unemployment on the rise in Tasmania, the mantra of “jobs, jobs, jobs” will improve the Coalition’s chances in the Apple Isle and may lead to an electoral wipeout for Labor, reported Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Tasmania Tony McCall.
Leading up to the September 7 federal election, one of the multiple three-word slogans of the campaign has particular resonance for Tasmanian voters: jobs, jobs, jobs. Tasmania’s unemployment rate was at a national high of 8.4% in July.
At the social and political level there is constant political tension. Some describe it as war where there can be no peace. This war is fought around the extent to which “green activism” and minority government uncertainty has resulted in Tasmanians being unwilling victims of an out-of-control social experiment.
We also analysed the chances of military veteran Andrew Nikolic wresting the seat of Bass from the ALP; and examined the “Shakespearean” contest in Denison, currently held by independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
According to Haydon Manning, Associate Professor in Politics and Public Policy at Flinders University, Labor faces an unexpected annihilation at the ballot box in South Australia this weekend.
It’s always difficult to assess the electoral mood in any community. But subtle indicators suggest South Australian voters could be about to repeat the 1990s banishment of Labor members when, over two elections in 1993 and 1996, the party lost four seats.
The sense of disappointment pervades politics in South Australia. This may prompt swinging voters, and even a proportion of rusted-on Labor voters, to express their frustration on polling day. Notwithstanding reservations about an Abbott-led government, many will vote for the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives, rendering greater-than-expected swings against those Labor MPs sitting on “safe” margins.
Labor also looks unlikely to overcome a 0.6% margin to claim the Liberal-held, inner-Adelaide suburban seat of Boothby.
Government is the central economic entity in the singular, indigenous-dominated demography of the Northern Territory. But there’s more to the NT than just rednecks and red sand, wrote Rolf Gerritsen, Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University.
Australians see the NT as a place of rednecks, red sand, Uluru and Aborigines. This is an incomplete picture. The NT is a modern – if curious – economy. The major city, Darwin, even looks like a Parramatta transported to the northern coast of Australia. But urban similarities aside, the NT has a deep dependence upon the Commonwealth.
In the seat of Lingari - which comprises 99% of the land area of the Northern Territory - Labor MP Warren Snowdon may find it difficult to retain his seat unless the ALP can restore its Aboriginal vote.
Australian Capital Territory
Against the likely national trend, we should expect an increase in the ALP vote in the nation’s capital, given opposition leader Tony Abbott’s proposed cuts to the public service, wrote Robin Tennant-Wood, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business and Government at the University of Canberra.
Canberra revolves around two levels of government and three universities. The three largest employers in town are, in order, the federal government, the territory government and the Australian National University. This makes the territory highly vulnerable to political change and to cuts to the public service or higher education funding.
Due to the nature of being the national capital, however, the ACT population is politically aware and engaged, and any decisions taken at national level do, inevitably, have an effect on the local population.
Stay tuned to The Conversation for the best post-election news, analysis and comment as we bring you all the wash-up from the big day on Saturday.