Our expert number cruncher takes you through the likely state by
state outcomes from tomorrow’s election and also finishes with a biting
commentary on Australia’s political leadership.

Political commentators are sometimes accused of a bias in favor
of tipping close results: partly because that’s more exciting (and
therefore sells more subscriptions), but also because it gives them
more of an excuse if they get it wrong. There is probably some truth in
this. I hope I am less suspect than most, since I have tipped
landslides at my last three outings (Victoria, NSW & Queensland)
and been right each time.

Sometimes, though, elections just
are close. Three of the last four federal elections have been
touch-and-go, and it looks as if this one is as well.

who say that Labor cannot win, that it’s all a foregone conclusion, are
wrong. All the polls say that it is still very tight, and Labor’s very
favorable position on the pendulum makes it a serious chance. There are
half a dozen Coalition seats in each of the big states, plus a few
elsewhere, that are winnable for Labor, as compared to only a handful
of Labor seats under threat. If there is movement, Labor is better
poised to benefit.

The thing running in the government’s
favor is that there appears to be very little movement out there. As an
analyst I am mystified by that, but as an observer I must record it.
That is why, although I hope I am wrong, I am predicting a narrow
Coalition victory. Details follow:

New South Wales:
Six marginals within reach for Labor, but none of them looking like
clear gains. I still think Labor will scrape in in Richmond, but I now
expect Ross Cameron to hold Parramatta for the government. Of the other
four, Dobell is probably the best chance for Labor, but on the latest
polls one has to favor the Coalition to hold them all. On the Labor
side Greenway is in real danger, but I expect it also to hold.

most interesting seats in New South Wales are nominally safe ones:
Sydney and Cunningham (Labor vs Greens), Bennelong (Liberal vs Greens),
and Wentworth (Liberal vs ALP vs independent). My feeling is that Labor
will win back Cunningham but lose Sydney, that the short man will hold
Bennelong, and that Turnbull will just hang on in Wentworth. The
independents in Calare and New England are both safe.

As I said two weeks ago, more interesting than commentators would have
us believe. McMillan still looks like a solid Labor gain, and it is
competitive in another five. I’m tipping it to pick up one of them,
let’s say Deakin, but La Trobe, McEwen and Corangamite are all
possibilities. Labor’s marginals all look secure, but it is threatened
by the Greens in Melbourne. Definitely one to watch, but I expect
Lindsay Tanner to hold it for Labor.

Despite early doubts, Newspoll has flagged this for two weeks as
Labor’s best state. The possible gains, roughly in order of likelihood,
are Herbert, Moreton, Bowman, Dickson, Hinkler, Longman and Petrie. My
prediction is that the first three of these will
fall. The Liberals
are a rough chance in two Labor seats, Brisbane and Bonner, but neither
looks likely. Independent “Mad Bob” Katter will also hold Kennedy,
despite claims by the Nationals that they have a chance against him.

Western Australia:
Really only four marginals here: Canning on the government side, and
Swan, Hasluck and Stirling on the opposition side. All of them could go
either way, but the general lack of movement leads me to think there
won’t be much change. I’m still tipping Swan as a Liberal gain, but
don’t count on it.

South Australia: The
polls now suggest Labor’s early lead here has evaporated, although poll
numbers for small states should be viewed with extreme caution. I still
think Labor will win Hindmarsh, while Adelaide is neck and neck.
Perhaps endorsement by pro-refugee groups will just get Liberal Trish
Worth over the line. Makin now looks unlikely for Labor (although still
possible); Labor’s two marginals of Wakefield and Kingston also look
like holding.

Tasmania: I think Latham’s
forest policy has doomed Michelle O’Byrne in Bass, given that she was
looking unsteady to start with, but I expect the other four to hold.

Territories: Only one marginal, Solomon in Darwin, which Labor should take from the entertaining Dave Tollner.

the House of Representatives, that’s a net gain of six seats for Labor
(NSW +1, Vic. +2, Qld. +3, SA +1, WA -1, Tas. -1, Terr. +1), which
would leave the Coalition with a small but workable majority.

the Senate, I stand by my predictions of last week, with one change: I
now think that Family First will be locked out of NSW by the
micro-parties’ preference deals, and I expect the sixth seat there
instead to go to the liberals for forests fixer, Glenn Druery.

equates to a new Senate (from July 2005) of 31 Liberals, 4 Nationals, 1
Family First, 1 liberal for forests, 26 ALP, 8 Greens, 4 Democrats, and
1 independent (Shayne Murphy, Tasmania).

What does it all mean? It means that, like the United States, Australia is a deeply and very evenly divided country.

my comments on the 2001 election I described Howard as “a Prime
Minister who has chosen to side with the enemies of civilisation &
pander to the dark forces of hatred & bigotry.” That description
still stands, and I am appalled that so many of my fellow-Australians
are still prepared to support him.

To people who say (in the title of today’s editorial in The Australian),
“No convincing reason to kick out Coalition”, I can answer in one word:
“Tampa”. Those who don’t see the relevance of that answer seem to
inhabit a different country from me, and I fear for what that
polarisation means for our future.