Six days after the ACT election, we now have a fairly good sense of the shape of the Assembly. The Assembly will be led by an enlarged Labor-Greens majority, with Labor and Liberal both losing seats and the Greens gaining seats. There are two seats left in play.
Just to quickly summarise the state of the race: the Greens have gained seats from the Liberals in Kurrajong and from Labor in Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi. The Greens have gained a seat from either Labor or Liberal in Ginninderra, while either the Greens or Labor have gained the third Liberal seat in Brindabella. This leaves the Assembly with 10 Labor, 8 Liberals and 5 Greens.
The two seats in play are in Brindabella, in the Tuggeranong area, and Ginninderra, in the Belconnen area.
Brindabella was the only electorate to elect three Liberals in 2016. The Liberals have definitely lost that seat, with the race between a third Labor candidate Taimus Werner-Gibbings and Greens candidate Johnathan Davis. At the key stage in the count, Davis is now 23 votes ahead of Werner-Gibbings. Whichever of them ends up on top will defeat the third Liberal, Andrew Wall. This remains too close to call.
Ginninderra elected three Labor candidates and two Liberals in 2016. The Greens have gained a seat, with the third Labor candidate and the second Liberal fighting to retain their party’s seats. The gap between Labor MP Gordon Ramsay and Liberal candidate Peter Cain is currently 98 votes in favour of Cain. Antony Green suggests the remaining votes to come should favour Cain, although Kevin Bonham points out that a batch of votes added to the primary count but not yet included in the preference count is very favourable to Ramsay and should improve his position.
I suggest paying attention to Bonham and Green if you want to follow the count closely. I’ll return with further analysis once the vote count has concluded. But for now I also wanted to zoom out and look at the overall trends in the five electorates.
The story on the night was of swings to Labor and Greens and away from the Liberals, but that’s not an entirely universal story.
The Labor vote across the territory is now down 0.3% after the addition of extra votes since election night. The Liberal vote has crashed further, down 3.3%, while the Greens are up 3.4%.
The picture is not consistent across the five electorates. The Greens vote did go up everywhere. It’s up by 5.8% in Brindabella, which has traditionally been their weakest electorate. It was up just 1.1% in Murrumbidgee, where sitting MLA Caroline Le Couteur retired. The other three electorates saw Greens swings between 3% and 4%.
The Liberal vote did drop in four electorates, but went up in the other. These swings can partly be explained by the location of the party leader. The Liberal swing varied between 2.5% and 6.3% in three of the electorates, but it was the worst at 8.8% in Murrumbidgee, where Jeremy Hanson was running as Liberal leader in 2016. Hanson still ran in 2020, but didn’t seem to carry the same cachet. This electorate had the highest Liberal vote in 2016, and was judged as the party’s best prospect of gaining a twelfth seat. Yet it’s now only the third-best electorate.
The Liberal vote looks entirely different in Yerrabi, where current Liberal leader Alistair Coe brought in a 4.6% swing towards the Liberals. The Liberal primary vote has cracked 40% and it’s the only electorate where the Liberals topped the vote.
Labor gained swings in two electorates, suffered small swings in two others, and suffered a huge swing in one electorate. The vote went up in Brindabella and Murrumbidgee. There was a tiny 0.6% swing against Labor in Ginninderra, and a slightly larger 1.3% swing in Kurrajong.
The Labor vote crashed in Yerrabi by 10.3%. This could be explained by numerous factors: a rising Liberal vote led by Coe, the light rail being less important as an issue than in 2016, and the strengthening Greens. But it does stand out like a sore thumb amongst the five electorates and it’ll be worth exploring why the Labor vote crashed so hard in this northern electorate.