Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament.

news.com.au – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals.

news.com.au – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.

Electoral Commission ineffective again after advertising breach

The Electoral Commission as tut tutted a bit, nine months after the election, and not even slapped Patrick Hogan over the hand with a wet tote ticket after he claimed that he didn’t know the rules when advertising in support of NZ First during last year’s election campaign.

The rules are effectively a waste of time.

Stuff reported (in Officials warned against racing tax breaks):

Former Cambridge Stud owners Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan broke electoral rules by paying for a full-page advertisement in industry newspaper The Informant in September.

That earned them a slapdowns from the election watchdog this week.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “It is the Electoral Commission’s view that the advertisement was a ‘party election advertisement’ as defined in the Electoral Act. The advertisement should have had the written authorisation of the party secretary from New Zealand First prior to the advertisement being published. In addition, the advertisement should have contained a promoter statement. ”

She said the Commission accepted that the breach was unintentional and the Hogans were unaware of the rules.

Hogan has been around long enough, and I think promoting NZ First long enough, to have known there were electoral advertising rules. It could have been some sort of deliberate ignorance, but I don’t see how he wouldn’t have known what he was able to do within the rules.

“Having considered all the circumstances including the modest expenditure involved and the circulation of the publication, the Commission will not be taking the matter any further.  The Commission has explained the rules to Sir Patrick and The Informant and recommended that they seek advice on election advertising in the future.”

So breaking the electoral rules isn’t a big deal as long as you say that you will check them out before doing it again.

In the meantime the race horse breading industry has been given tax breaks in this year’s budget despite IRD recommending against it again.

Dan Bidois on his Northcote win

New MP Dan Bidois has a lot to learn now he has won the Northcote by-election. He will have that chance on the National back bench for at least two years.

Simon Bridges says he will give Bidois some minor responsibilities – his biggest task initially will be coming to grips with being an electorate MP and setting himself up in Northcote.

1 News interviewed Bidois before his win: ‘I have been a fighter my entire life’ – New Zealand’s newest MP Dan Bidois takes out Northcote by-election

“I have been a fighter my entire life. I dropped out of school at 15, found out I had cancer and beat it, completed my butchery apprenticeship, eventually getting mentored to go to University and falling in love with education. Ultimately I went on to win a scholarship and complete my Masters at Harvard.”

“I have had to fight for everything I have achieved in life, and so I want to bring that determination to Northcote and fight for the things that matter locally – improving transport, stopping the fuel tax increases, and getting more investment in local services like health and education.”

He said prior to his victory when asked what issues he would pursue in Parliament, that he was “passionate about education and making sure we’re getting more kids learning good trades. I would like to see more done around apprenticeships”.

The economy has been doing well the last few years, which has lifted incomes and meant the Government can afford to invest more in public services, but we can’t take it for granted. The new Labour-NZ First Government is making a range of changes that will slow that growth down, which is really bad for families. We can’t take good economic management for granted.

There is currently no scheduled vote on abortion or cannabis, but I haven’t seen evidence the current systems aren’t working properly. I would want to study the issues more before I made a decision on these two.

I haven’t read the proposed euthanasia legislation yet. I do have some concerns around it though, in that we have to make sure that there appropriate safeguards so our sick and elderly aren’t abused.

Sounds like he has been well indoctrinated with standard National responses in preparation for the by-election.

Time will tell whether he fights for his own voice and his own views.

 

Looking back at Northcote party polling

Claims were made by Labour, and National in response, about ‘party polling’ leading into the voting period for the Northcote by-election.

NZH: Simon Wilson’s Northcote Notebook: Labour closes gap in Northcote byelection

Labour Party polling for the Northcote byelection puts candidate Shanan Halbert just 2.1% behind National’s Dan Bidois. Sources close to the party confirmed that, in a poll conducted last week, Halbert was preferred by 46.3 per cent of those asked, and Bidois by 48.4 per cent.

That’s a change from a poll conducted by Labour in early May, which had Bidois leading Halbert by a more comfortable margin, 50.8 per cent vs 44.4 per cent.

National Party sources dispute these numbers. They say their polling shows a gap of about 8 per cent.

In the days before election day Labour candidate Shanan Halbert and leader Jacinda Ardern both said the election would go ‘down to the wire’. as did a party press release: It’s down to the wire in Northcote by-election

Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Northcote Labour candidate Shanan Halbert campaigned together today in Northcote, emphasising how important it was that people get out and vote for a strong local voice before 7 pm Saturday.

Shanan said “It was a pleasure hosting Jacinda in the Northcote shops today. We spent time encouraging locals to ensure their voice is heard by joining the thousands of others who have already voted in the by-election.”

“We know from the polling that this race is down to the wire. If everyone who voted for me in the 2017 General Election votes for me again in this by-election, Northcote will have a strong local voice in Government come June 10th.”

if everyone who voted for the National candidate in the general election voted National again Halbert wouldn’t have a chance.

It’s normal for parties to talk up their chances going in to an election, but quoting party polls without giving any details should be viewed with scepticism.

Halbert was running against a nine year MP and Cabinet Minister in the general election, while he was up against a virtual unknown from out of the electorate in the by-election.

Election night results for the National and Labour candidates in the Northcote by-election:

  • Dan Bidois (National) 10,147 – 50.98% (general election 52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 8,785 – 44.14% (general election 35.25%)

Election night majority 1,362 – difference 6.84%.

So that is nowhere near the 2% claimed by Labour. It is quite close to what National claimed.

There could be a number of explanations, like – Labour support faded late in the campaign. or more Labour supporters didn’t get out and vote.

It could also be that Labour bullshitted about their polling to try to talk up a close contest.

Or Labour’s polling is crap.

For all we know Labour’s poll asked something like “Will you vote for the local candidate SHANAN HALBERT, or the unknown out of electorate candidate with a foreign sounding name?”

Or the polling was done by Labour’s door knockers.

Whatever the reason it emphasises that caution should be taken about any polls – they are an approximate measure in the past, not a prediction of the future despite what media try to say.

And one-off party polling claimed during an election campaign, with no details given and no history of polls showing trends, should not be promoted by media as news, and should not be taken to seriously.

 

Northcote by-election result

Voting will have just closed in the Northcote by-election. Results should be known tonight.

In the first week of advance voting numbers were well ahead of the same period during the general election, but they slowed down inn the second week, finishing up just ahead.

Total advance votes:

  • 2017 general election 10755
  • 2018 by-election 11464

All this means is that a few more people have voted early this time. It may or may not favour any candidate.


Northcote – Preliminary Count

Electorate No. 34 – 33 of 33 results counted

VOTES COUNTED:
19,900
100.0%
LEADING CANDIDATE:
BIDOIS, Dan
10,147
2nd CANDIDATE:
HALBERT, Shanan
8,785
CURRENT MARGIN:
1,362
Candidates Party Votes
BIDOIS, Dan
NAT
10147
HALBERT, Shanan
LAB
8785
JAUNG, Rebekah
GP
579
BERRY, Stephen
ACT
157
KOLONI, Kym
IND
95
LYE, Jeff
ALCP
76
CHEEL, Tricia
NZDSC
30
WALSH, Liam
NAP
5
Candidate Informals: 26
TOTAL: 19,900

This is not the formal declaration of results.


So that’s the final election night result.

The general election results:

  • Jonathan Coleman (National) 19,072 (52.27%)
  • Shanan Halbert (Labour) 12,862 (35.25%)
  • Rebekah Jaung (Greens) 2,457 (6.73%

Majority 6,210

Northcote by-election doesn’t rate in celebrity stakes

For most people the Northcote by-election is a non-event. The outcome will make virtually no difference to Parliament, and neither of the candidates with a realistic chance of winning are particularly inspiring.

They are campaigning more as local candidates than party representatives, predictably for a by-election, but this leaves national issues, and therefore issues of wider interest, largely out of the contest.

Snippets of claims about internal party polling, without full details of the polls, are being used as a campaign tool and can’t be given much credence.

Advance voting began a week and a half ago, with ‘election day’ – the final day for voting – this Saturday. The only aspect of real interest is the unusually large number of advance voters:

Voting numbers are well ahead of the election advance voting numbers. This is probably due to two factors – the increasing preference for early voting generally, plus the concentration of party operators in one electorate working to get out their voters. It’s impossible to know what this means for the various candidates.

Pre-result claims are being made about what a win will mean for either National or Labour, and what the majority will mean, but the latter particularly is fairly meaningless.

If the Labour candidate wins it will buck a tradition of the governing party being hammered in by-elections so they would get some bragging rights.

Both the likely winners are bland party candidates, or that’s how they look from a barely interested distance.

Greens also stood a candidate, presumably to assert their independence of Labour despite it making it harder for the Labour candidate to win. She looks like a capable candidate, but in the unlikely case of her winning she would add to the gender imbalance of the Green caucus even more, as they already have six female to two male MPs – the excuse this anomaly as necessary to provide better gender balance in parliament overall, but that seems a bit lame.

The media is only giving the big party contenders any significant coverage. This is undemocratic but normal for the media in elections – their own interests are severed ahead of fair balance.

There was a grizzle on Whale Oil yesterday – Northcote by-election Media party bias?

Of course the media are biased for some candidates and against others, but it’s not a party specific thing.

The full article mentions ACT candidate Stephen Berry but he is missing from the image.

The article (and tweet) did mention all eight candidates and only featured three in their photo – but the political activist blog chose only to highlight that lack of balance for the sole candidate they have been promoting, which is more biased than the media.

SB seems unaware of her hypocrisy. And also unaware of the chances of the ACT candidate. In response to someone quipping “They know ACT won’t get more than 20 votes” she responded:

Or they are worried that they might actually have a chance?

The candidate’s minimal chance is unlikely to have been helped by WO campaigning for him. Probably the opposite. A waning party promoted by a politically toxic and largely irrelevant activist blog does raise some questions about ACT’s desperation to be seen.

Whoever wins on Saturday will get a whiff of publicity but the largely disinterested public will take no notice as the new MP disappears onto a back bench of one side or the other.

I note that the Labour PR machine has chosen to give the media details of opportunities for another result due this weekend.

The timing of births is less predictable than the result of by-elections, but that’s likely to get a lot more attention than the by-election.

None of the Northcote candidates look likely to fit the celebrity billing that media are increasingly obsessed with.

Northcote by-election polls

Early voting has opened in the Northcote by-election. ‘Election day’ is 9 June.

There have been claims from both Labour and National about polls leading into the voting period, however these are internal polls commissioned by the parties with no details made public, so should be viewed with scepticism. I’m posting about them here to put it on the record, so claims can be compared to results.

The Daily Blog on Thursday:

The latest internal polling by Labour astoundingly suggests that Labour could beat National in Northcote!

I’ve just seen the latest polling for the Northcote by-election and it’s much closer than we thought.

Going into this race we knew we were underdogs – and, if I’m honest, it looked like we had a huge mountain to climb to even get close given National’s huge majority.

But the latest polling we received yesterday reveals there are just a few points in it. There is a chance Labour could do well on June 9.

Labour have just sent this out to their Northcote support team, and if true could be one of the biggest upsets in a  safe National electorate since Winston took Northland!

Labour has emailed not just members but apparently it’s whole email list (someone I know in Dunedin with no connection to Labour got one).

Referring to a tweet that it had been posted on The Daily Blog:

We will just have to wait and see what the result is. A lot may depend on party ‘get out the vote’ organisation and voter motivation, which can be low for by-elections like this with little but party egos at stake.

Typically single electorate polls can have quite small sample sizes so have higher than normal margins for error.

And by-elections with nothing much riding on them can have very low turnouts. Turnout comparisons in Mount Albert (which Jacinda Ardern won early last year):

  • General election 2014 – 36,922 votes
  • By-election 25 February 2017 – 13,649 vote
  • General election 22 September 2017 – 38,760 vote

These are the by-election candidates in Northcote:

Candidate Name Party
BERRY, Stephen ACT New Zealand
BIDOIS, Dan National Party
CHEEL, Tricia Democrats for Social Credit
HALBERT, Shanan Labour Party
JAUNG, Rebekah Green Party
KOLONI, Kym Independent
LYE, Jeff Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
WALSH, Liam NAP

Hipkins clarifies Northcote school rebuild not by-election related

Labour’s candidate in the Northcote by-election, Shanan Halbert, tried to capitalise on a school rebuild announcement in his campaigning.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins clarified – albeit a day later – that the rebuild had nothing to do with campaign promises, it would have happened anyway.

Māori wards and democracy

Five regions have had or are having referendums on whether they should have Māori wards. Councils have decided to introduce wards but referendums have been forced.

Palmerston North result:

  • 68.7% AGAINST the establishment of a Māori ward or wards for Palmerston North City Council
  • 30.88% FOR the establishment of a Māori ward or wards for Palmerston North City Council

Initial voter return 37.21% so a majority didn’t vote, but of those who did a clear majority voted against.

Manawatu District result:

  • 77.04% Against
  • 22.76% For

Voter Return 44.47%.

Whakatane District:

  • Against Māori Wards 55.43%
  • For Māori Wards 44.33%

Voter return 44%.

That was closer but still a clear majority.

RNZ: MP surprised and disappointed Whakatāne rejected Māori wards

The MP for Waiariki says the rejection of Māori wards in Whakatāne is a huge disappointment.

Mr Coffey said the results meant Pākehā councillors would remain the voice of Māori in the Whakatāne District Council.

He said given the high percentage of Māori in Whakatāne, he was surprised at the result.

That suggests that he and the councils that tried to bring in Māori wards are out of touch with the electorates.

“I had thought if there was one place in New Zealand that was going to get it over the line it would be Whakatāne but sadly I was wrong.”

Mr Coffey said he was in talks with the mayor about other ways to have more representation for Māori in the area.

Instead of promoting separate wards for some voters, why not promote equal democracy for everyone?

All the time and effort put into trying to bring in an obviously unpopular ward system and campaigning for referendums might be better put towards encouraging greater Maori participation in democracy open to everyone.

I think it’s backward trying to give special democratic privileges to some people.

These referendum results may make other councils think more carefully before trying to impose privileged democracy on their constituents.