The fridge is stocked, the television set is tuned in, the air is thick with sexist crudity — in short, almost everything is in place for your very own Don’s Party Redux 2016.
All that’s needed to complete the picture is some idea of what seats to track as the numbers start flooding in.
To help make sense of a complex situation, Crikey offers the following chronologically ordered blaggers’ guide to election night:
1. Page (NSW, Nationals 3.1%)
Since results are reported in the form of completed booth counts, the earliest numbers are mostly from country towns with only a few hundred voters. In most cases, this means rural seats that are perpetually held on big margins by the Nationals. One exception is the north coast New South Wales seat of Page, which combines conventionally conservative rural territory with a base of Labor and Greens support around Lismore. Janelle Saffin gained the seat for Labor with Kevin Rudd’s election victory in 2007 but was unseated in 2013 by the current Nationals member, Kevin Hogan. In the style of Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers in Rocky II, Hogan and Saffin are weighing in for a rematch — or rather, a rematch of a rematch, since Hogan also ran unsuccessfully in 2010. If the portents in Page are encouraging for Labor, we could be in for a long night.
2. New England (NSW, Nationals 20.0%) and Cowper (Nationals 13.1%)
Unless the result is very surprisingly on the up side for Labor, Bill Shorten will require a hung parliament and the grace of the crossbench to make it to The Lodge. So a very great deal depends on how many seats the Coalition loses to challengers other than Labor. For the same reasons just noted with respect to Page, it should be apparent quite early if Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott really are competitive in their comeback bids in the regional seats of New England and Cowper — and, in the former case, whether the Nationals still have a leader at the end of the night.
3. Corangamite (Victoria, Liberal 3.9%)
Another seat Labor won in 2007 then lost in 2013, the Victorian seat of Corangamite encompasses outer Geelong, the Great Ocean Road and rural territory around Colac. Small booths in the latter areas mean we should get early indications of the size of the swing, if any, and whether it will be sufficient to return the seat to the Labor fold. We will also learn if the state government’s ill-timed clash with the Country Fire Authority is biting as a federal election issue, since the electorate played home to the bushfires that devastated Wye River and Separation Creek just after Christmas.
4. Lyons (Tasmania, Liberal 1.2%)
Three highly marginal seats cover central and northern Tasmania, each of which went from Labor to Liberal in 2013. These electorates are very different from your average middle-income marginals in the big city mortgage belts, being among the three poorest in the land. If the Labor class warfare we keep hearing so much about is doing its job, all three might well fall to Labor, with Lyons being rated the most likely to fall.
5. Capricornia (Queensland, Liberal National 0.8%)
Opportunity knocks for Labor in central Queensland, where the mining industry has been hit hard by the end of the resources boom. Centred around the Labor town of Rockhampton, Capricornia should be a particularly strong show, having been lost to the party in modern times only with the landslide evictions of the Whitlam, Keating and Rudd governments in 1975, 1983 and 1996. If Labor can’t reel Capricornia back in, they will be in big trouble. But if they’re winning big, the Coalition could equally be menaced in the safer but still loseable neighbouring seats of Flynn and Dawson.
6. Banks (NSW, Liberal 2.2%)
Around 7.30 or so, numbers will start flooding in from larger urban booths. One of the disappointments of a winter election is that the entire seaboard is in the same time zone, meaning the majority of the nation’s electorates start their counts simultaneously. In Sydney especially, it might be an idea to identify one seat as a barometer of the city at large. Banks stands out because it was lost by Labor in 2013 for the first time since its creation in 1949 — a reflection of the dismally low ebb the party had reached in Sydney at both federal and state level. If it turns out that Labor is still stuck there today, it will be a grim night indeed for Bill Shorten.
7. Batman (Victoria, Labor 10.6% versus Greens)
It wasn’t immediately obvious at the start of the campaign that the seat of Batman in Melbourne’s inner north was the Greens’ best opportunity to expand its lower house empire. Labor member David Feeney soon saw to that, through the revelation he had failed to declare a negatively geared $2.3 million property in Northcote. Batman is an electorate of two halves, and the issue will be determined by which weighs more heavily in the balance — the Greens-voting latte belt around Northcote in the south, or the Labor-voting working class and migrant areas of Preston and Reservoir in the north.
8. Mayo (SA, Liberal 12.5%)
Formerly held by Alexander Downer — who very nearly went down to the Australian Democrats in 1998 — the Adelaide hinterland seat of Mayo is the Nick Xenophon Team’s strongest show for a lower house seat, and, by extension, for a crossbench large enough to threaten the Coalition majority. Liberal member Jamie Briggs did his bit by behaving inappropriately towards a female DFAT official in a Hong Kong bar late last year, prompting his resignation from the ministry. Betting markets suggest Briggs will be seen off by NXT candidate Rebekha Sharkie — if this happens in sufficiently convincing style, there will be little telling who else will be under the pump among the state’s ten other lower house MPs, on both sides of the fence.
9. Cowan (WA, Liberal 4.0%)
For the dedicated election junkie, the dream scenario is a result that’s still up in the air when Western Australia starts reporting two hours after the eastern seaboard. The new seat of Burt in the southern suburbs is one must-win for Labor, and Cowan at the other end of town is another. Beyond purely electoral considerations, the seat is fascinating as a proxy for the culture wars. In the blue corner: Liberal member Luke Simpkins, a former federal and military police officer who believes that “unwittingly eating halal food” is sending Australians “one step down the path to conversion”. In the red: Anne Aly, an Egyptian-born Muslim and academic specialising in strategies to combat radicalisation. Labor has taken a gamble in preselecting Aly for an electorate that covers fairly white-bread suburbs in Perth’s middle and outer north, and much may depend on whether it comes off.