Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cataclysm at Pittwater!

In what can only be described as a major, major, MAJOR upset, the NSW Liberal Party has lost John Brogden's former seat of Pittwater to independent candidate Alex McTaggart, on a whopping swing of 25%. The seat was previously the party's third safest seat with a margin of over 20%. Official results are available at the State Electoral Office website, as are the results of the 2003 NSW Election for comparison.

During its 7:00pm TV news, the ABC were reporting that with two minor booths counted, the swing against the Liberal Party was 15% - a very large swing, but still enough to keep Liberal candidate Paul Nicolaou in safe contention. Now, just after their 8:30pm news update, they're reporting its all over for the Libs in this, the very definition of a blue ribbon seat. I'm not Antony Green, but this result would have to be be nearly unprecedented. (And speaking of Antony Green, this appears to be a rare case in which he got it wrong - but I wouldn't hold it against him, it appears the only people who predicted this result were Centrebet).

I'm quite gobsmacked by this result. Will the ALP party machine be kicking itself for not fielding a candidate? Probably not - in fact, McTaggart's victory shows it was the right decision; otherwise, votes might have been split between an independent and a Labor candidate.

Nevertheless, this does alert us to the fact that the NSW political climate is still a very volatile one. On one hand, it demonstrates that Labor's performance in the Triple M by-elections was stronger than many gave the party credit for. Had voters really wanted to give the ALP, Craig Knowles, or the NSW Government, a major kick in the pants in Macquarie Fields, they could have done, but it appears they didn't. In Pittwater, on the other hand, voters have clearly exhibited their disgust at the Liberal Party machine's treatment of John Brogden, and more power to them. That's democracy. The power of incumbency, safe seats and so forth sometimes leads to complacency, but if the people want to make a statement, they'll damn well make a statement, loud and clear.

With that in mind, this result is also a reminder to the NSW Government that the cosy margin of 10.2% on which it currently sits is not insurmountable. The next state election would be bloody difficult to lose, but as this result demonstrates - anything is possible.

Ah, politics ... always a surprise round the corner ....


At 5:50 pm, Anonymous Guy said...

I didn't pick it either!

I hope this result doesn't make Iemma and Co cocky. I think there are a lot of people out there just itching to flip the bird at NSW Labor - even if that means voting for the other ragged mob.

At 10:12 am, Blogger Minotaur said...

I don't think this result was much of a comment on the Iemma government - most of the people who voted McTaggart were demonstrably rusted on Liberal voters who will go right back on voting Liberal in the next State election - just like Labor voters did in Cunningham.

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