Pendulum points to 7% swing against Beattie
- Queensland decides
By Malcolm Mackerras
Edition 1 - All-round CountryWED 14
JAN 2004, Page 004
This is Malcolm Mackerras's Queensland election blurb as
published in The Australian.
Mandatory reading for any poll, not least to count the number of instances of
"predict" (11 here) and return later to assess them. Should be read in
conjunction with his pendulum; click
here for it in a new window [PDF] and toggle between there and here. It
Pendulum is normally based on a scale of Labor versus the Coalition. Then I
typically give the aggregate two-party preferred percentages for relevant
previous general elections.
The arrival of Pauline Hanson's One Nation in 1998, however, so disturbed the
normal pattern that the Electoral Commission in Queensland officially decided to
``give up'' on the concept of the aggregate two-party preferred vote.
By contrast, there is no reason why an independent
analyst should abandon a concept that is still useful.
My estimates of the aggregate two-party preferred
vote for Labor were 47 per cent for the July 1995 election, 51 per cent for June
1998, and 60 per cent for the most recent election on February 17, 2001.
Conversely, the Coalition shares were 53 per cent in 1995, 49 per cent in 1998
and 40 per cent in 2001.
So there was a two-party preferred vote swing to Labor of four per cent in 1998,
delivering minority government to Peter Beattie. Then there was a further swing
to Labor of nine per cent to produce the landslide of 2001, bringing the
combined swing from 1995 to 2001 to a whopping 13 per cent.
The same electoral boundaries applied for three general elections, in 1992, 1995
and 1998. A major redistribution of seats followed in 1999, though the number of
seats was left at 89. The February 2001 and February 2004 elections use these
If checking my pendulum against official statistical returns, you would notice
71 of my 89 seats are clearly based on the two-party preferred vote, Labor
versus National or Labor versus Liberal.
There are some cases where I have changed the actual scale of the seat into the
conventional (Labor versus Coalition) scale. While Inala is not Labor's safest
seat against independent candidate George Pugh, it is Labor's safest seat
against the Liberal Party.
Likewise, while Warrego was the weakest National Party seat against the
independent candidate Wally Gleeson, it was the strongest National Party seat
Of the six independent seats (all shown on the non-Labor side of my pendulum)
two were won at by-elections, Surfers Paradise in May 2001 and Maryborough in
April 2003. But in each case the swing figure shown is that based on the general
Surfers Paradise was won at the general election by then National Party leader
Rob Borbidge, who polled 55.3 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to
Labor's 44.7 per cent.
When Borbidge resigned from parliament in March 2001 and the May by-election
gave the seat to independent Lex Bell, I merely struck out ``National'' on my
then pendulum and inserted ``independent'' in its place. So the Nationals then
had 11 members.
At the February 2001 general election, Darling Downs went to independent Ray
Hopper, who switched to the Nationals in December that year, restoring them to
At the general election Gympie was won by Pauline Hanson's One Nation candidate
Elisa Roberts, but she became an independent in April 2002.
So, in the last parliamentary term Labor numbers remained at 66 throughout and
the Liberals at three. The National Party began at 12, dropped to 11 when
Borbidge resigned and went back to 12 when Hopper joined up.
Pauline Hanson's One Nation began at three but finished at two. The number of
independents began at five, rose to six, dropped to five and finished at six.
A Maryborough by-election in April 2003 was caused by the resignation of one
independent, John Kingston, but was won by another, Chris Foley, the present
However, my swing figure is based on the general election vote when Kingston
secured 50.5 per cent of the two-candidate preferred vote to Labor's 49.5 per
Now for some predictions. I believe Labor's share of the aggregate two-party
preferred vote this time will be 53 per cent to 47 per cent for the Coalition.
In other words, I am predicting a swing against Labor of seven per cent.
Pendulum theory tells me such a swing would reduce the Labor majority of 43
seats in 2001 to 15 seats in 2004. I do predict that.
My belief is that the effect of such a swing will be the same as if the swing
Let me begin with the non-Labor side. I predict all six independent members will
retain their seats of Nanango, Nicklin, Surfers Paradise, Gladstone, Gympie and
Maryborough. I predict that both the remaining members of Pauline Hanson's One
Nation will retain their seats of Tablelands and Lockyer.
Subject to one reservation, I predict the Nationals will retain their 12
existing seats and the Liberals their three.
The one reservation is Keppel, where the popular sitting member, Vince Lester,
is retiring. If Labor were to gain one seat, it would be Keppel.
Now to Labor losses. Because I think the swing is likely to be relatively
uniform I predict the Nationals will gain the following eight seats from Labor:
Burnett, Burleigh, Toowoomba North, Charters Towers, Broadwater, Thuringowa,
Burdekin and Redlands.
On the same basis I predict the Liberals will gain the following six seats:
Noosa, Clayfield, Kawana, Indooroopilly, Aspley and Mudgeeraba.
I am aware that the cancellation of deviations effect may overcome any uniform
swing effect, so it would not surprise me if the Nationals failed to win
Redlands but won Glass House instead. Likewise, it would not surprise me if the
Liberals failed to win Mudgeeraba but won, instead, either Gaven or Currumbin.
In any event, my prediction for overall numbers is 52 for Labor and 37 for non-Labor.
That would leave Labor with a majority of 15 seats.
On my predictions the 37 non-Labor members would be 20 Nationals, nine Liberals,
six independents and two for Pauline Hanson's One Nation.
Predictions are inherently dangerous but there is one I can make which is
totally safe. No seat will change hands between the National and Liberal
parties, given the Coalition agreement to field only one candidate in each seat.
Associate Professor Malcolm Mackerras
teaches in the school of politics at the Australian Defence Force Academy in