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The House Of Cards Falls

17 August 2013 973 views No Comment

Although political prediction this far out from a federal election is often regarded as a mug’s game, for this September 7 election I’m prepared to go out on a limb.

In the House of Representatives (which has 150 seats) I’m forecasting the Coalition to win 86 (including six of them in western Sydney)to Labor’s 63.

Plus I predict that the long-term political maverick, Bob Katter (from Katter’s Australian Party) will win the vast North Queensland seat of Kennedy.MNIR Story Ad

But, because almost all other parties will now preference against him, I forecast that Adam Bandt, the current Greens MP for the inner city seat of Melbourne, is unlikely to get over the line.

The disgraced ALP, now independent, MP, Craig Thompson, has absolutely no chance of being re-elected to the NSW central coast seat of Dobell, where former Test cricketer Nathan Bracken — bankrolled by the unpredictable John Singleton — is standing as an independent.

I think it is unlikely any independents will be elected to the lower house. In western Sydney, which is the key to this federal election, I predict that the Coalition will not only win Labor’s most marginal NSW seat — Greenway, based in Blacktown — but also convincingly win four other western Sydney seats held by Labor. They are the seats of Lindsay, Banks, Reid and Parramatta — which require swings of 1.1 per cent, 1.5 per cent, 2.7 percent and 4.4 per cent respectively.

Although it may be more difficult, I think the Coalition will win Gough Whitlam’s old seat of Werriwa, which requires a 6.8 per cent swing.

Even at this stage of the election campaign most voters in Australia have made up their minds.

This is especially the case in western Sydney, where the majority of citizens are not only sick to death of the increased number of boat arrivals and Labor mismanagement and waste, but are furious about practical economic issues, including the Rudd government’s recent announcement about substantially increasing the price of cigarettes.

This is a matter the importance of which should not be underestimated. While the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates only 16 per cent of Australians still smoke, the percentage is likely to be much higher in areas like Blacktown and Parramatta.

Also the citizens of western Sydney are, in the main, socially conservative. This especially applies to members of the sizeable Muslim community, who are not at all taken by the PM’s recent statements about legislating gay marriage.

With Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison and Joe Hockey in particular performing well, Tony Abbott deserves to win this election.

As the campaign continues, Kevin Rudd seems increasingly strangled by his past and is finding it difficult to gain traction with swinging voters. Whether after 7 September Mr Rudd decides to remain in the House of Representatives, as member for Griffith in suburban Brisbane, is anyone’s guess.

While I forecast that Tony Abbott will be our next prime minister, I predict the Coalition won’t have a majority in the Senate — which may be no bad thing because an upper house not controlled by the Coalition may be able to keep the new Abbott-led federal government on its toes.

The battle for Senate seats will be fascinating , With up to 50 parties registering a senate ticket in some states, the notion of citizens spending half an hour in a polling booth, voting below the line, seems remote.

This means party preference are much more likely to be adhered to this election. The makeup of the Senate and the balance of power in that house could lie with the last Senate seat in each state, and possibly in the ACT.

These six or seven seats will be determined largely by the way preferences are distributed — not so much on primary votes.

Watch Pauline Hanson heading the One Nation ticket in the NSW Senate election. It is possible that she could rise phoenix-like again.

In contrast, Julian Assange’s chances of winning a senate seat in Victoria are greatly overrated. It would be mind-boggling if either of the major parties, after declaring him persona non grata, would decide to preference him favourably.

There are some traditional preference alliances that may be subject to last minute modifications. The Coalition would do well to look around for an alternative preferencing partner to Family First and the DLP.

In the same way that he has engaged the Muslim and Aboriginal communities, Abbott needs to show the electorate that he can also work with small parties with good ideas that are not necessarily ones his party would initiate.

With candidates running in most marginal seats and in every state and territory for the Senate, the rapidly expanding Australian Sex Party, with a power base in small business, might have something to offer.

Over the past four state by-elections they have contested, the Sex Party has averaged 7 per cent of the vote. This is on par or better than Family First and the DLP.

Ross Fitzgerald is emeritus professor of History & Politics at Griffith University.

The Daily Telegraph, August 17, 2013, p 60.