Feb 4, 2014

Brace yourself for a Liberal whitewash, from east to west

A fresh poll shows the Liberals on track to win the Tasmanian election in March. Will the Coalition hold every state and federal government from March 15?

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Australia is on track for wall-to-wall Liberal governments -- in every state and at the federal level -- in March, for the first time since 1970. A poll released today shows the Liberals are likely to wrest power from Labor in Tasmania at the state election on March 15. South Australians go to the polls the same day, and analysts are tipping a change from Labor to the Liberals there too. That would leave the ACT government (an overgrown territory / town council) as the Australian Labor Party's feeble last stand. The tide has turned quickly; just six years ago Labor held government federally and in every state. Before conservatives rejoice too loudly at the possible Liberal whitewash, it's worth remembering that it doesn't always help a prime minister if every state is on his or her team, because there's no one else to blame. And voters can get skittish at such dominance by any party. To Tasmania, where the besieged Labor minority government of Premier Lara Giddings is limping towards likely defeat. Labor has been in power since 1998 in Tasmania, which invented its own complex Hare-Clark electoral system based on proportional representation in the lower house. This lends itself to minority governments. Four years of governing with the Greens, the slow draining of talent from Labor, a poor state economy and anger in the north about Labor's actions to restrict forestry have translated into toxic polls for the ALP for some time. Some ALP figures are publicly unloading on their own party. Today, the Hobart Mercury carries the first publicly available poll of state voting intentions since November, and the first since the election date was named. It was commissioned by the Liberals, taken on January 20 and dropped to the Merc, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it is a fairly respectable ReachTEL poll of almost 2000 people, so it tells us something. The results are up on local psephologist Kevin Bonham's blog. The poll shows the Liberals are likely to win 13 or 14 seats in Tasmania's lower house of 25 members (13 is a majority), while Labor would be cut back to seven or eight, and the Greens might win four. It shows a slight softening in the Liberal vote, while Labor's woeful vote has picked up a bit. It's closer than the polls have been for some time, but not that close. Tasmania has five electorates, which each elect five members (upper house elections are held at a different time). This election will be won or lost in the north (Bass and Braddon are the northern electorates and Lyons is in the centre), where anti-Labor sentiment is much stronger. Here are the ReachTEL results.

Question: at the upcoming state election to be held on the 15th of March, which of the following will receive your first preference vote? If you are undecided to which do you have even a slight leaning?

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9 thoughts on “Brace yourself for a Liberal whitewash, from east to west

  1. Malcolm Street

    “…some privately say they are sensing strong personal sentiment against Giddings, seen by some as being too young, too female, too Hobart, too Green-friendly and too much like former prime minister Julia Gillard”

    Ah well, here in the ACT it looks like we’ll be not only the last Labor stronghold but the only one for which a female leader isn’t electoral suicide…

  2. David Hand

    Speaking as a Liberal supporter, it gives me no comfort to have wall to wall right of centre governments. I believe in the robust contest of ideas and our democracy does best where there are electable choices.

    The real tragedy in my view is that it’s not superior coalition activity, vision, policies and leadership ability that is bringing this about but the abject failure of the left, the loss of the Labor party’s soul, the utter short termism of the Rudd / Gillard / Rudd administrations, the rampant corruption in NSW Labor and now the sense of entitlement by Don Farrell that has so damaged Labor’s South Australian campaign.

    I look forward to a re-invigorated ALP, something we need. But with a union hack like Shorten in charge, the self destruction goes on.

  3. Cathy Alexander

    This has not escaped my notice Malcolm. Not only will all state / fed leaders be Liberals, they’ll be male (and white, and middle-aged). It’s different in the NT and the ACT, as you point out, where Giles is indigenous and Gallagher is female.

    So not a big change since 1970, then …

  4. AR

    Definitely an electoral problem, “being…too female,”.
    Future to the back?

  5. Jimmyhaz

    As a supporter of right of centre governments David, you should have loved the federal ALP of the last few years.

  6. CML

    I wouldn’t write Jay Weatherill off in SA just yet. A lot of people here see the Premier’s stand against Farrell as coming from a strong leader. Naturally the Libs are trying to paint the whole episode as a disaster, but if Weatherill wins office, not even Farrell will be able to touch him.
    I also do not see the ‘blue’ Australia lasting for long. Victorians go to the polls later this year, and I will be gobsmacked if the Tories win that one. The shenanigans going on over there for the past twelve months or more make it likely that they will be a one-term government. Then there is WA, were the Tories are also on the nose, albeit a bit longer before the next election.
    What goes around comes around these days, with voters much more likely to dispense with governments they dislike, in double quick time. If the rAbbott and his motley crew don’t improve, they will be chucked out in 2016 as well!

  7. Malcolm Street

    CML – the comparison of the federal government denying funding to Holden while throwing money at Tasmanian companies (Cadbury and an aquaculture company) isn’t going to the Coalition any favours in SA.

  8. Cathy Alexander

    CML, yes, absolutely right. There is a pretty good chance Victoria will swing back to Labor at the state election in November (see Geoff Shaw saga). So even if all states and the feds are Coalition from March, that situation may only last 8 months.

    Not sure I agree with you on WA though. However we continue to hear whispers here that Barnett is tiring of the job and would like to hand over, and if he leaves, that might give Labor more of a chance.

    Interesting what you say about Weatherill.

  9. John Hall

    This link a bit confusing in connected article – given Labors crushing victory in WA? Uncoupling link is suggested.

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