June 11, 2016

Horse 2123 - Turnbull To Be The Next Prime Minister

For 76 of the 115 years of federation, the Commonwealth of Australia has been governed by centre-right governments. From the Protectionist to Commonwealth Liberal; to the United Australia and Liberal Parties, with help from the Country and National Parties, two thirds of the time, Australians will vote for mostly conservative and it must be said, timid government.
When Australia does end up voting in Labor governments, it is almost always as the result of some major disaster or political doom bomb. The most obvious examples were, Scullin's government which was voted in a fortnight before the Great Depression, Curtin's government which was voted in during the Second World War, Whitlam's government which was voted in during the Vietnam War, Hawke's government which was voted in following the period of stagflation, and Rudd's government which was voted in following the period of malaise after the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.
Labor governments aren't voted into power in Australia because the public necessarily likes them but because the centre-right governments have managed to mess things up royally.

The media though, likes to talk about a 50-50 narrative because it helps to sell copy. Not that this even makes an iota of difference because the popular vote does not decide governments. In 1998 Kim Beazley failed to take the Labor Party to government, even with a 4.6% swing and winning 50.98% of the total votes. The margin was still 80-67. To win government in Australia, you need to start flipping seats over.
According to the ABC's House of Representatives Swing Calculator, there needs to be a uniform swing of 4.1% to Labor to give them the necessary 19 seats to claim government. However, if the story is about flipping seats, then I think a very different algorithm is needed.

Instead of looking at a uniform swing of 4.1%, I looked at the last five election results for the central thirty electorates because you can generally assume that seats neat the edges, are as safe as houses. The seat of Batman, has been Labor in not only the last five elections but all elections since 1972. Likewise the seat of Mallee, has been in National (Country) hands for not only the last five elections but all elections since 1972.

In Australian Rules football, a good rule of thumb is to look at the last five results.
Five wins usually indicates that the team is on a roll and will probably win the next as well.
Four wins usually indicates that the team is on a roll and that that one loss was a blip.
Four lossses usually indicates that the team is stuck in a rut and that that one win was lucky.
Five lossses  usually indicates that the team just plain hopless and you may as well just give up.
Three wins or losses is tricky. This is going to sound absurd but if you look at the second to last result, looking back over the past 30 years gives you a very good chance that that will be the next one, irrespective of what the majority of those results was.

If you apply these rules to those central thirty electorates which need to flip, then they fall as follows; with the seats that I predict would change hands in bold:

Swan - AALLL - L
Casey- LLLLL - L
Boothby - LLLLL - L
Longman - LLALL - L
Dickson - LLLLL - L
Flynn - AAANN - N
Herbert - LLLLL - L
Burt - ALALL - L
Hasluck - ALALL - L
Leichardt - LLALL - L
Dunkley - LLLLL - L
Cowan - AALLL - L
Macquarie - LLALL - L
Forde - LLALL - L
Brisbane - AAALL - L
Bass - ALAAL - A
Latrobe - LLLAL - L
Corangamite - LLAAL - A
Gilmore - LLLLL - L
Bonner - ALALL - L
Macarthur - LLLLL - L
Reid - AAAAL - A
Deakin - LLAAL - A
Page - NNAAN - A
Robertson - LLAAL - A
Lindsay - LLAAL - A
Eden-Monaro - LLAAL - A
Banks - AAAAL - A
Braddon - ALAAL - A
Hindmarsh - LAAAL - A
Solomon - LLALL - L
Lyons - AAAAL - A
Capricornia - AAAAN - A
Petrie - LLAAL - A
By my reckoning, 14 seats are going to change hands at the next election and that probably the rest of the seats outside those 30 are safe.

This leaves us with a conundrum. If 14 seats change hands (not including the seat of Fairfax which if you don't include Clive Palmer, has been an only Liberal seat since 1972) then this leaves Labor on 71, the Coalition on 75 and 4 independent seats. They would be Denison, which is Andrew Wilkie's, Cathy McGowan's seat of Indi which is unlikely to return to the Liberal's Sophie Mirabella, the seat of Kennedy which is Bob Katter's and Melbourne which is almost certainly going to sure up for Adam Bandt.
71 seats means that Labor would not win government; even with the support of all the independents.
75 seats means that the Coalition would not win government in their own right and would need the support of at least one the independents - Bob Katter would probably support the Coalition on matters of supply.
I think that there'd probably have to be at least a swing of 7.5% to unseat the current government. The last time that we had anything that wild was after the destructive double dissolution following The Dismissal. Quite frankly, that sort of thing happens only in exceptional circumstances and the 2016 election as far as I can tell, is far from exceptional.

Three years ago, I predicted the last election². Nobody saw what was coming in 2010 and everyone could see what was brewing in 2007 from a mile away. The 2016 election race is less exciting than watching paint dry but not as exciting as waiting for it to peel.

So then, here are my predictions:
1. There will be a hung parliament 71-75 in favour of the Coalition.
2. Bob Katter will give his support to the Coalition by 10am on July 5th.
3. Malcolm Turnbull will be returned as the Prime Minister.

Bill Shorten will not be elected Prime Minister because the public doesn't like him but because Turnbull's government hasn't yet had time to mess things up royally. At least in tone, Turnbull's government has been a return to mostly conservative and timid government and Australia mostly likes that. Two-thirds of the time, it's who we've voted for since federation.


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