Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Coalition set to lose the ACT Senate

... for the first time.

That's the view of Malcolm MacKerras, who gets it right much more often than he gets it wrong.

It is ungrateful of the ACT after all the Coalition has done to boost the size of government. But that is how it looks:

Veteran election watcher Malcolm Mackerras has declared the ACT Senate campaign lost for the Liberals in the wake of a preference deal hammered out between Labor and the Greens.

Under the deal announced yesterday Labor will direct its Senate preferences to the Greens in every state and territory.

In return the Greens will direct their preferences to Labor in every important seat in the House of Representatives except for those in Tasmania.

The deal puts most of Labor’s excess votes after the reelection of its Senator Kate Lundy at the service of the Greens candidate Kerrie Tucker...

The latest Morgan poll has Kate Lundy easily winning the quota of 33.3 per cent of the vote needed to take one of the ACT’s two Senate seats.

With a predicted 47 per cent of the primary vote she would have 13.7 per cent left over, most of which would go to Kerrie Tucker who is expected to receive 17 per cent of the vote in her own right.

That total of around 30 per cent of the vote, plus the bulk of preferences from the Democrats should put Kerrie Tucker ahead of the Coalition’s Gary Humphries who is expected to win 24 per cent.

The Greens are helped further by Friday’s draw of positions on the ACT Senate paper. Labor has scored first position followed by the Democrats and then the Greens. The Liberal Party is third-last.

Canberra’s psephologist Malcolm Mackerras of the University of NSW said yesterday it seemed that Gary Humphries would be well short of a quota and would be defeated by Kerrie Tucker giving the Greens seven seats nationwide, Labor 33 and the Coalition 34. The Greens and Labor combined would gain the numbers to outvote the Coalition.

However he said that the ACT result would be “touch and go”. The Greens might win a Senate seat in Queensland instead.

“But for what it is worth I have decided not to give the Greens a Senator in Queensland, but to give them a senator in the ACT,” he said.

“I think it is quite a nice thought that we in the ACT are actually going to have a serious vote in this election. It will be the first time.”

Mr Mackerras said he expected voters to turn against the Coalition because of a widespread perception that it had abused its Senate majority by ramming through WorkChoices legislation that it did not put to the electorate.

“Menzies on two occasions, 1951 and 1959 was able to gain to Senate majority and on both occasions he simply reintroduced previously defeated legislation for which he claimed a mandate.”

“Nobody ever accused him of abusing his Senate majority. I think John Howard would have won this election easily if he had behaved in a similar manner.”

The Green’s Kerrie Tucker welcomed Mr Mackerras’ assessment saying that if the polls were accurate she “had a chance, definitely”.

The Liberal’s ACT campaign director Andrew Heath said that Gary Humphries had nothing to say because he was busy campaigning and “doesn’t comment on procedural issues”.