No seats in the inner-Sydney area will change hands as a result of the March state election, electoral analyst Antony Green has predicted.
The ALP will retain Port Jackson, Marrickville, Heffron and Coogee, while Clover Moore will hang on to Bligh, he told Sydney Star Observer last week.
No one’s going to defeat Clover Moore, Green said. The ALP couldn’t win with Vic Smith [in 1999], and they’re not going to win this time around. Clover’s a good local member, it’s as simple as that.
But Bligh is not quite the same seat it once was, he said, noting the high turnover of residents.
In the last five years, almost half, or 48 percent of residents, have moved in Bligh, he said. The electorate has also seen a significant increase in the number of young couples, many of whom are heterosexual, he said.
A similar increase has occurred in the neighbouring seat of Port Jackson, which tourism minister Sandra Nori holds for the ALP.
Some commentators have suggested that Nori would face a tough fight to retain the seat in 2003, but Green said the flashpoint issues in the electorate (such as the redevelopment of Callan Park and Ballast Point) have been nullified by the government.
In the past, Nori has defeated Frank Sartor, Dawn Fraser and No Aircraft Noise, Green said. She’s always had strong battles to win.
Although Green is not predicting any Liberal victories in the inner-city area, he said Coogee could be a seat to watch. Waverley Mayor Paul Pearce is campaigning for the ALP, but he could be hampered by a big sitting member factor, he said. Coogee MP Ernie Page has held the seat since 1981 and before that was mayor of Waverley for nine years.
Although most commentators are predicting a return of the Carr Labor government, there is more at stake for all political parties in this election.
The Liberals head in to this poll with John Brogden at the helm, and the election is viewed as a test of his leadership and popularity in the electorate.
Brogden would need to win at least a couple of seats in the March poll to maintain favour within the party, Green said. He cited Clarence, South Coast and Miranda as the three seats most likely to fall to the Liberal or National parties, with Menai and Tweed as outside chances.
The election will also be a test of strength for the Greens, after their strong showing in inner-city electorates in last year’s federal election. That poll gave the Greens their best ever results, with 13 percent of the primary vote in the Federal electorate of Grayndler and 15 percent of the primary vote in the Federal seat of Sydney.
The Greens’ candidate for Sydney, Jamie Parker, is now contesting the seat of Port Jackson in this election, and is viewed by the party as their best chance to win a lower-house seat.
Antony Green predicted the Greens would secure eight to nine percent of the state vote, which could rise as high as 20 to 25 percent in seats such as Marrickville -“ but this was still not enough to win the seat, he said.
But winning is not everything for the Greens. The party’s campaign director, James Diak, said the party’s strategy in a seat such as Heffron would be to significantly dent the ALP’s majority.
Heffron could be a sleeper seat, Diak suggested. Although it has always been a Labor stronghold, the ousting of local member Deidre Grusovin (famous for her campaigns against supposedly high-profile pedophiles, which led to the setting up of the Woods Royal Commission) in favour of Christina Keneally could stir up resentment among traditional voters -“ resentment which Greens candidate William Smith could benefit from, Diak said.
While this election will be significant for the Greens, it will be absolutely crucial for the Australian Democrats, still reeling from a year of leadership upheavals and internal crises. This election will be a real test of the power of their political brand.
While the Democrats have only just announced their candidates for lower house seats, their upper house ticket has been in place for some time. James Lantry heads up the ticket and, according to Green, the Democrats stand a good chance of returning a member of the Legislative Council. Openly gay South Sydney Councillor Peter Furness is ranked second on the ticket.
In addition to the one Democrat seat in the Legislative Council, Green predicts the Greens will win two seats, Labor nine, the Coalition seven, and Fred Nile’s group one.
That leaves one seat outstanding: Green’s not laying bets on which party it will go to.
It’s not all a completely foregone conclusion in this state election, it would seem.