The federal ALP is still consumed by angst over factionalism and Beazley’s leadership, but so far it doesn’t seem to be hurting the party electorally.

The most recent test was on Saturday, in the Western Australian state
seat of Victoria Park, with the by-election due to the retirement of
former premier Geoff Gallop. Labor held it comfortably
with 61.2% two-party-preferred, suffering a swing of just under 5%. New
MP Ben Wyatt led his Liberal opponent 49.4% to 31% on primaries; the
Greens were the best of the others with a disappointing 8.4% for former
senator Dee Margetts. (The Poll Bludger has comprehensive coverage).

Liberal leader Matt Birney is talking up
the result, but for a by-election caused by the loss of a popular
member that’s a reasonably good outcome for Labor. It suggests that a
year into its second term, the WA government is travelling OK.

Then yesterday the Launceston Examiner published a new poll
for this week’s Tasmanian election, showing a sizeable swing back to
Labor. It puts them on 48%, against the Liberals 31% and Greens 20%
(the last election was 53-28-19). The paper says “The results from this
survey were very close to the one held a week before the 2002 election”.

On those numbers, Labor must be a strong chance to hold its absolute majority in the House of Assembly. Centrebet’s odds on that happening have shortened considerably, but it’s still giving 2-1 against, which looks like good value.

Also on this Saturday is the South Australian election, where Labor is set for a landslide victory. The latest poll, in yesterday’s Sunday Mail,
has the Rann government maintaining its 55%-45% lead, representing a
swing of 6% from 2002. Factional warfare in Canberra doesn’t seem to
have done them any harm either.

PS Graham Allen now has his calculator
available for the South Australian upper house, where you can instantly
see the effect of the group voting tickets. Most observers expect Labor
to win 5 of the 11 available seats, Liberals 4, Family First 1, and the
last seat to either the Democrats or the Greens.

Peter Fray

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