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Seats to fall but Victorian Labor safe

Malcolm Mackerras
9 November 2022

We have reached the stage in Victoria’s state election on 26 November where it is safe to make a prediction of results for the Legislative Assembly. Labor will lose a significant number of seats but will, I predict, finish up with 47 seats compared with 41 for the combination of everyone else, Liberals, Nationals, Greens and independents. That would be an absolute Labor majority of six seats.

At the landslide victory for Dan Andrews in November 2018 the result was 55 Labor, 21 Liberals, six Nationals, three Greens and three independents, for a total of 88 seats. Of those three seats two (Mildura and Shepparton) used to be strong for the Nationals but will be retained by sitting independents on 26 November. However, I believe the third independent seat, Morwell, will be won by Labor consequent upon the retirement of the sitting member, Russell Northe. So, I am predicting the election of just two independents, Ali Cupper in Mildura and Suzanna Sheed in Shepparton.

To understand the position of the parties the best idea is to look at the Mackerras Election Pendulum as published in the Melbourne Herald Sun on Saturday 29 October, attached. The point is that there has been a redivision of electoral boundaries implemented by the Electoral Boundaries Commission. Only eight seats were left unchanged in boundaries meaning 80 saw their maps changed, some with different names.

The pendulum is mine but is based on calculations done by the Victorian Electoral Commission. Some of these calculations are disputed, most notably Caulfield, held by the deputy Liberal leader, David Southwick. My original calculations (shown on my website) had it as still Liberal on the boundary-adjusted figures, but I defer to the VEC in this detail.

Anyway, I confidently predict the Liberal party will win the three Liberal seats that are notionally Labor on the pendulum (Caulfield, Hastings and Ripon) as well as winning the Labor-held seats of Bass and Bayswater that are notionally Liberal on the new boundaries.

My pendulum works on the principle of cancellation of deviations, so I begin by noting that Labor’s share of the two-party preferred vote in November 2018 was 57.6 per cent. The latest Newspoll has that on 54 per cent with 46 per cent for the Coalition. Therefore, on a uniform swing of 3.6 per cent Labor would lose these ten seats to the Liberal Party, Caulfield, Hastings, Hawthorn, Nepean, Ashwood, Pakenham, Ripon, Box Hill, Ringwood and South Barwon.

I’m not necessarily saying that the Liberal Party will gain precisely those ten seats but, due to the cancellation of deviations, I do think it will gain ten seats, lifting its number from the notional 19 it now holds to 29. (Of course, one could say the Liberal Party presently has 21 seats so if it finished on 29 it has gained eight seats.)

Labor begins with an actual 55 seats, but boundary changes mean it now has 57 notionally. The loss of ten seats to the Liberals would reduce that to 47 which is the number of Labor seats I predict. I say that because I expect Labor to gain Morwell but lose Richmond to the Greens. That would give the Greens four seats in the Legislative Assembly, Brunswick, Melbourne, Prahran and Richmond.

Although I am brave enough to make the above predictions for the Legislative Assembly, I am not willing to undertake a similar exercise for the Legislative Council. Its electoral system makes Victoria a joke Australia-wide and must be replaced by a decent system.

Essentially, all I can do is give the numbers elected in November 2018. They were eighteen Labor, ten Liberal, three for Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and two for the Liberal Democrats. These seven minor parties won a seat each: Nationals, Greens, Animal Justice, Reason, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Sustainable Australia and Transport Matters. That adds up to forty seats.

I am willing to predict that the Greens will win a second seat, so in future having a seat each in the regions of Northern Metropolitan and Southern Metropolitan.

The incoming term will be known as the 60th Parliament. I am willing to predict that the major reform done by the 60th Parliament will be of the electoral system for the Legislative Council. The new system will comply with proper democratic principles and will be designed jointly by yours truly and the Proportional Representation Society of Australia.

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