Just because the election is all but a foregone conclusion doesn’t mean there still aren’t some exciting contests happening. I’ve put together a list of electorates to watch on the evening of the 26th. They won’t change the result of this election but could set up an interesting contest in 2015 with the rise of Independents and minor parties in traditional Labor heartland. I’m going to categorise these contests more broadly by which parties they are between.
Labor vs Green
Deputy Premier and health minister Carmel Tebbut holds this seat with a 7.5% margin against the Greens. The Greens candidate is the Mayor of Marrickville, Fiona Byrne. A low Liberal primary vote and lack of other front-running candidates would indicate a Green win, however bad press relating to Marrickville Council’s boycott of Israel as well as claims of some dirty tricks muddy the waters somewhat. One to watch closely.
Labor education minister Verity Firth holds this seat with a margin of 3.7% against the Greens whose candidate is also a local Mayor. The Green candidate, popular Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker, is tipped to win with the crash in the Labor vote. The Greens face more challenges in Balmain than in Marrickville, with the Independent, former Mayor Maire Sheehan, potentially splitting the green/left vote and the Liberals polling higher in Balmain than Marrickville. There’s an outside chance the Liberals could win on first preferences and steal the seat or of Labor retaining it – making Balmain a seat to watch.
Labor vs Independent
Labor holds this seat by one of the biggest margins in the State (25.3%) but the sitting member, Noreen Hay has been embroiled in a number of scandals including corruption at Wollongong City Council. She was cleared of any wrongdoing but damage to the Labor brand and a lack of any local government elections for the electorate to express their displeasure could narrow that margin significantly. Well known local minister Gordon Bradbery is running as an Independent and is polling quite highly, but would need preferences from Green and Liberal voters to get over the line. The how-to-vote strategies from the Greens do preference Bradbery, but the Liberals don’t lower his chances. Nevertheless this could be the only seat in the State which goes from being safe Labor to marginal against an Independent at this election.
Independent and Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney holds this seat with what appears to be a comfortable margin, 16.6%. Moore should retain the seat however voter dissatisfaction with her mayoral performance may reduce her primary vote. A split on the left and a large number of exhausted votes could give the Liberals an outside chance at victory.
Independent and Mayor Lake Macquarie Council holds the seat with a very narrow margin, 0.1%, over the ALP. Although he needs Green and Liberal preferences to hold the seat it’s highly unlikely he’ll lose to Labor in this election.
Former local news reader and current sitting Labor member Jodi McKay battles Newcastle Mayor and Independent John Tate. McKay holds the seat by 1.2%, so Tate has a reasonable chance of winning if the 17% swing against Labor at the 2007 election continues.
Independent vs National
Sitting Independent Dawn Fardell holds this seat by 0.9% over the Nationals candidate of Troy Grant. With dissatisfaction at the rural independents federally and a desire by the locals to have their member in government this seat is tipped to fall to the Nationals.
Peter Besseling has held this seat since a 2008 by-election after the move by Rob Oakeshott to Federal Parliament. He holds it by a fairly slim margin, 4.5% and dissatisfaction with Oakeshott and a desire by the locals to have their member in government could mean a loss to the Nats.
Independent Peter Draper holds this seat by 4.8%, although holding the seat since 2003 is in similar circumstances to Peter Besseling in Port Macquarie.
Liberal vs Independent
Hornsby Mayor Nick Berman got passed over for pre-selection and has decided to challenge the Liberal candidate Matt Kean as an Independent. The sitting Liberal member is retiring so Berman has a decent chance at splitting the Liberal vote. However votes for the right side of politics are quite high, making it unlikely that Berman will win.
There are a number of other seats where high profile Independents or Greens could narrow margins considerably however any change in those seats (aside from Labor to Liberal) is unlikely. I’m not going to discount any bolts from the blue though.