NT election dispatch 3

Over the fold you’ll find my latest (and possibly last before Saturday’s election) obervations on the NT election. I’ve been lazy (because I’m swamped with exam marking), and have just copied my notes provided to CDU’s media people as part of my job as one of the University’s 3 designated election pundits (the others being historian Professor David Carment and political scientist Bill Wilson).

Likely winner: Party and possible swing, plus possible majority. You don’t have to give a firm figure!!

ALP – swing of around 5-6%. I predict Labor to win 14-15 seats, Independents 2-3, CLP 7-9. If pushed to give a precise prediction I would say ALP 14, CLP 8, Independent 3.

What this means: If it’s a big Labor win, hung Parliament, or CLP win, what the Territory can expect for the next four years, in brief!!

A victory of the magnitude I predict above would certainly enhance Clare Martin’s power, and would also spell the end of Denis Burke’s leadership. It isn’t obvious who would take his place among existing CLP members (Jodeen Carney?). I don’t expect the CLP to cease to exist as a discrete entity and the main NT conservative party. Shane Stone has said he would not promote a NT Liberal Party, and there’s no reason to doubt him. There is certainly residual enmity between Stone and Burke (and their respective supporters), but Burke will be gone. I expect Stone will re-assert behind the scenes authority as the party’s “elder statesman” (given that his term as Federal Liberal President is expiring/ed).

Wins/losses: Seats which you think CLP might lose; seats Labor might lose, seats to watch. Just a list will do.

CLP seats in danger – Goyder, Daly, Greatorex, MacDonnell. I don’t actually expect Daly now to be at great risk, because Indepednent candidate Dale Seaniger (who should pull a few votes) is giving his preferences to the CLP candidate. That should be enough to get her over the line despite the loss of the incumbency factor of previous long-time CLP MLA Tim Baldwin. I expect Goyder to be won by Independent (and Litchfield mayor) Mary Walsh, and I think Labor will pick up one of Greatorex or MacDonnell (most likely MacDonnell), but could conceivably win both these seats.

In fact, on the Newspoll figures, the CLP seats of Araluen and Port Darwin are also at risk. However, I don’t really expect either to be lost by the CLP.

Millner is still a seat to watch as a conceivable ALP loss, especially given a strong Independent candidate in Phil Mitchell giving preferences to the CLP. Nevertheless, the combination of Matthew Bonson’s incumbency advantage and the strong Newspoll results for Labor in the northern suburbs would now suggest Bonson should hold the seat fairly comfortably.

Party leaders and how they went: A sentence or two (no more plse) on Clare and Denis

Clare Martin has performed solidly thoughout the campaign, though looking tired, uninspired and uninspiring most of the time. Denis Burke has been full of sound, fury and bluster, but doesn’t seem to have made much ground and has made far too many gaffes (see below). I doubt that very many voters would have been impressed by his performance.

Campaign positives: A sentence or two on CLP and ALP positives

The CLP negative campaigning (both TV ads and letterbox flyers), especially the “not good enough” theme, was quite effective (I suspect), though unlikely to have swung very many voters to the CLP in view of the poor performance of Denis Burke as leader.

Labor’s promise to reduce stamp duty for home purchasers is a campaign positive in electoral terms, although very dubious indeed in policy/economic terms. Labor’s promise to boost education spending is also a strong positive politically, although to what extent it is good economic policy on top of the existing deficit budgeting for Darwin Cove (not to mention huge pre-existing State debt) is another question.

Campaign mistakes/negatives: A sentence or two on CLP and ALP cock-ups

I don’t think Labor has made any major mistakes. I disagree with David Carment on the political impact of Labor’s anti-social behaviour (lock up serial drunks) announcement. It is a dreadful initiative in policy terms, but electorally appears to have been successful in negativing any northern suburbs fears about Labor being soft on crime (see the Newspoll results).

The CLP’s power line from Qld, Alice Springs lake promise, Burke’s statement that he doesn’t want the “redneck” northern suburbs vote, are all negative campaign factors, as is Burke’s refusal to match Labor’s stamp duty reduction promise, and scaremongering on the trans-Territory gas pipeline and Darwin Cove development. The latter portray an opposition bereft of ideas and simply opposing for the sake of it.

Opinion polls: Was the Newspoll valid? What about the large number of uncommitted voters?

The uncommitted percentage is actually quite low for a poll conducted in week 2 of the campaign. Newspoll is generally considered the most reliable of the long-term major polling organisations. A sample size of 1200 is quite large, with an error margin of plus or minus 3%. That still gives Labor a strong lead even on the most pessimistic error margin assumptions. However Newspoll didn’t cover Alice Springs or rural seats. Given that this is mostly where we could expect to see any CLP seat losses, the poll isn’t quite as illuminating as one might have hoped. Also they haven’t published a breakdown as between seats (probably because the sample size wouldn’t be big enough for any such breakdown to be terribly reliable). Thus we can’t tell whether (say) Goyder or Port Darwin are consistent with the overall trend.

Late trends: Anything startling this week that might affect the result?

Burke has again performed poorly (in fact increasingly erratic), which probably counteracts any slight pro-CLP bounce from people who might want to register a protest vote given that Labor seems safe on the evidence of the Newspoll.

Clare Martin’s late-ish announcement of stamp duty reductions to homebuyers and a major boost to education spending was smart politics, and should help to guard against any late swing back to the CLP (no doubt that was the purpose). With 3 days until polling day it’s looking like a pretty convincing Labor victory (indeed more convincing than I initially expected).

Cautionary note: Who did you tip last time???

CLP with reduced majority (like most others).

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2024 years ago

ken ,
This just goes to show that what I said some two years ago when you were on a swimming pool gran nark that the NT is no different to the States.
When there is a new government after some time there is USUALLY a large swing to them at the next election.

Interesting to see Newspoll in the NT.
Why has newspoll come to the NT now after all these years?

David Tiley
2024 years ago

Ken seems to have invented a whole new meaning for the word “lazy”.

2024 years ago

Yeah if that’s lazy. I’d hate to see you at full bore. And if that was a lazy prediction, the actual results suggest you were spot on too.

Does this mean you guys are a one party state now?

2024 years ago

yes I think we are.
In the state of sheer bliss on a balmy redrenched evening of great friends and talented children and election mudslides.

the children? – Jes at 10 years and Thea and Dom (not so childish anymore)all performed in plays staged by the growing and fabulous Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre company – who are worth an entire post – but later, now, I must pat Parish – it is my job.

Richard Ackland
2024 years ago

I’m trying to send Ken Parish an email, but the address I have keeps bouncing. Could he please send me his current email address. Thanks.