The social complexion of the seats Labor must get to save us all from a descent into substance abuse.

Boothby: Adelaide no-place. Makes Deakin look like Vienna, c. 1900. Hasn’t been held by the ALP since 1949 with Sheehy, T – or “young Tim” as he’s known there – who is contesting the seat again this year.

Page: a northern NSW coastal and hinterland seat including Hernani (Hindu for a female body part) and Alstonville (same definition, if you ever worked for the ABC). Since proclamation in 84 has been held by NP except for Labor 90-96.

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Effectively, Page is the new class’s next domino, after Richmond, the Anthony family fiefdom around the more high-profile Byron Bay. That fell to Labor in 1990 and again last time, despite a late 15th brumaire by young prince Larry between ’96 and 2004. On to Page. Lismore, Page’s capital, used to be a place people from Nimbin went to get their narcan – now it’s a university town, with a lot of people moving there for affordable housing. As industries, the AEC lists every primary produce except the dope which stops the place from turning into the Mallee.

After those of course there’s two Victorian outer eastern swing seats – McEwan, containing Diamond Creek the electoral perineum of the nation, to continue the metaphor – and LaTrobe, taking in the Dandenongs and the tea-shop mafia. Classic old swinging seats, where for decades people to vote for Labor for their wage packet, or against them because they had dirty fingernails. They’ve changed too, but the effect is only to take them from being uncertain to being uncertain squared.

But if Rudd’s Victory Alley is in NSW, then Landslide Pass is Queensland, where five seats – Blair, Herbert, Longman, Petrie, Flynn – lie within a 2PP range (51%) that would, anywhere else, have Labor romping it in. But of course it’s Queensland, and every seat is a Stalingrad.

However what may swing it is demographic shift – as m’esteemed colleague Mark Bahnsich noted earlier, seats like Blair are no longer “regional” in the old sense. They’re ex-urbs, with a different mix of people and values than a decade ago, and utterly transformed since ’83.

Indeed what it significant is that most of these seats are not merely swinging seats, but changing ones – ones where social and class identity is shifting in ways whose ultimate result only a fool would try and predict. So this election isn’t just a vote about Australia – in these seats it’s our first chance to see what a new Australia thinks and feels.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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