As always our team here at Gravis Insights Australia releases the election predictions list. Some say its mad, some say its courageous and others just think we must be off our heads. However, after months of work through multiple states and multiple clients – here is our predictions.
Firstly, we believe that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister. But let’s be really clear – Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) has only ever had one real opponent from day one and that has been time. We note the failure of the Labor Party to largely cut through NSW and North Queensland and the ability of the Coalition to win back seats from rural Independents. Due to ScoMo’s now widely acknowledged campaigning ability, the Coalition began the long climb back to Basecamp to at least start to win back the outer suburban ‘battler’ vote which Turnbull destroyed for the LNP in 2016. ScoMo has out-campaigned Shorten and whilst he had enough time to win the battle he simply ran out of time to win the war.
Firstly, we believe that Bill Shorten will become Prime Minister. However, we note the failure of the Labor Party to largely cut through NSW and North Queensland and the ability of the Coalition to win back seats from rural Independents and thanks to ScoMo, the ability of the Coalition to atleast start to win back the outer suburban ‘battler’ vote which Turnbull destroyed for the LNP in 2016.
However, we just see Victoria as being too bigger obstacle to overcome and as well as individual gains in NSW and suburban Queensland and WA, Labor will get home with a maximum of 80 seats.
The LNP pathway would involve holding everything in Queensland and adding Herbert and Longman, holding the line in WA and adding in Cowan. Hoping not to drop too many in Victoria, win Indi, split even in NSW (via Wentworth and not losing Warringah), not lose Sturt or Boothby in SA and win one back in Tasmania.
The ALP pathway is wider to victory. They can do this through a Victoria combined with Liberal seats that have been redistributed to nominally Labor status going Labor, winning seats like Gilmore in NSW and winning Hasluck in WA, winning seats in suburban Brisbane and cheering on Zali Steggal in Warringah, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth and Rob Oakeshott in Cowper while hoping that the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers pull off an unlikely win in Calare.
The results as we see it are a mix of the two.
We see the Libs losing 3 in Victoria (Chisolm, Dunkley, Corangamite), Gilmore, Farrer and Robertson in NSW. Petrie and Forde in Queensland with a possibility of Brisbane in Queensland and Hasluck in WA all to Labor. We also see Cowper going to Rob Oakeshott.
However, we see the Libs picking up Indi in Victoria from the retiring Independent. Then we see the Liberals winning atleast one in Tasmania (maybe 2), Herbert in North Queensland with a shot at Longman on Brisbane’s northside and Lindsay in NSW.
This would see Labor gain net 6 before we head into the too close to call seats in suburban NSW, suburban QLD and the preference-based lotteries in Central, Northern and Far North Queensland. Our team just can’t see a situation where Labor can’t win one of those that fall in those categories despite the UAP preference deal and the copious amounts of advertising he has taken out with random candidates spouting cliches.
We also don’t see the Greens adding to Melbourne in the House of Representatives.
We will take you through our thinking as we go state by state as to how we get to where we are.
Firstly though, it should be noted that if Shorten doesn’t become PM and we are wrong about the end result (which some of our team obviously hopes we are); this will be a bigger boilover than 1993 when Paul Keating defeated John Hewson. For an Opposition Leader to be in the lead in the polls for so long and lose the election would in effect, end Bill Shorten as a political force in the same way 1993 ended John Hewson as a force in the Liberal Party.
The two big things we would start with in Queensland is this. The Labor Primary vote in our view is very two-tired between regional Queensland and South East Queensland and is centred from inner-city Brisbane and radiating outwards from there. The work of the PM to bring back the ‘battler’ vote is holding the line in many places in Queensland where Labor looked certain to win 3 months ago (polling had them winning Petrie, Dickson, Bonner, Forde and Brisbane at that stage).
This trend spells the reverse of the danger for Brisbane that occurred in 2016. While Malcolm Turnbull was a net negative to the LNP vote everywhere else in Queensland where LNP members were recontesting, he was a net positive to the Brisbane vote (and also Griffith/Ryan). However, the removal of Turnbull could see some ‘reverse swing’ come into play in Brisbane. Whether or not there is 6% is quite another thing.
This has been a ‘sleeper’ seat for Labor for quite some time (in much the same way Longman was in 2007 for Labor) and they have done everything they can to not draw attention to it.
Labor has also been betting on an element of ‘leakage’ of preference from the United Australia Party UAP), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) and Fraser Annings Conservative National Party (FACNP) as there is a fracturing of the right wing vote here which hasn’t happened for some time.
Trevor Evans is quite a popular local member who has championed many ‘younger’ causes. However, Labor are confident that a reverse swing effect of removing Turnbull plus record youth enrolment will catapult them to victory here.
Prediction: LNP retain
Griffith, Moreton, Rankin (for future Labor leader - Jim Chalmers), Oxley and Blair will all remain in Labor hands.
Ryan stays LNP (just) but suffers the same trend as Brisbane.
Lilley will get a new Labor MP in Anika Wells, replacing Wayne Swan. However, the ad below goes down as one of the best of the campaign for a single candidate.
Then we go to the four marginals Labor is trying to win in South East Queensland and realistically, needs to win atleast 2 of in order to win government.
The first pack we look at is the Moreton Bay marginal pack on the northside of Brisbane: Dickson, Petrie and Longman. With the putting together of the battler vote, all three of these seats will be close results (despite no one wanting to admit Longman was close in the Labor camp but shown by the ScoMo visit on the final day).
Some of the predictions here have been wild. We don’t see a situation where these three seats go in different directions fundamentally. While we think Labor could go net zero from this section - it is going to be close in all three.
Petrie is the seat based in the outer metropolitan northside of Brisbane in the Moreton Bay catchment area. Traditionally, this seat along with Dickson and Longman have gone together before the 2010-2013 chaotic era and this cycle there is a strong chance that this could be bought back together to historic trends.
This is a clash of the titans as it were between the LNP’s best grassroots campaigner in South East Queensland, Luke Howarth and Labor’s star performer in Queensland, Corinne Mulholland. Mulholland is a former staffer for long term Mayor of Moreton Bay Allan Sutherland, who from all of us agree, is probably the best political brawler in that part of the world. This follows to the observation our team has made for many months that she is not the “standard Labor candidate” in this field.
PHON and the UAP are playing here but are minor actors.
Labor need to run up the score in the centre and southern end of Redcliffe this time though if they have any chance of winning. They cant afford the battler vote in the centre of Redcliffe to be bleeding away from Labor or they will be in trouble. Labor also cant afford to get whacked at the Scarborough/Southern Cross booths at the northern end of the Peninsula or lose places like North Lakes which swing with the seat.
This is the centre of the universe for South East Queensland for Labor. While everyone is focused on Dickson and the tussle there, this is the seat that really shows whether it is on for Labor in SEQ and it will need to be because the other three seats in contention are all harder to win than Petrie.
Prediction: Too close to call
Longman has been a sleeper seat for the LNP for quite some time that no one has drawn any attention to by the fact no one has gone there, spent any cash there or done anything to make anyone else think its in play. This seat has come down from its byelection high and is suffering from a fall in the PHON vote in the seat as well as this time there is not as many candidates on the ballot paper.
With the ScoMo rebuilding of the ‘battler’ Liberal vote, this is what has driven the LNP back into contention in this seat. Our team here isn’t prepared to call it for the LNP yet but we are prepared to mark it as too close to call and one to watch on the night for a shock.
Prediction: Too close to call
Dickson is the big money tussle in Queensland between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and United Voice backed Labor Candidate Ali France. This is a seat that has had millions of dollars in advertising spent on it and has had every third-party campaign group possible in the group, from the Unions to GetUp on the left and Advance Australia and RiteON on the right.
However, we feel that the Labor campaign in Dickson has been way too focussed in on the inner-city green type issues and has forgetting that Dickson has been an LNP seat since 2004 and the claims of Keating of Duttons “dark heart” wont be enough to wash the seat over. This is a seat where Labor needed to campaign more industrially in order to win over the blue-collar, working class belt of the seat that vote Labor overwhelmingly at state and have voted Dutton federally.
If Labor lose this, they will have lost it at the alter of a poorly targeted campaign and for preselecting the wrong candidate. Our team all agree, Linda Lavarch would have won this seat comfortably.
Prediction: Wont have a result on the night. Too close to call
In Bonner we see Ross Vasta come up against Jo Briskey, daughter of former Labor State MP Darryl Briskey and the second of the darlings from the left faction of the Labor Party in this cycle (the other being Ali France in Dickson).
This is a seat that three months ago Labor were ‘measuring the drapes’ in with reports of Vasta being behind on the ground and in terms of cash and bodies with Labor’s generation of the 90s/2000s trying to install another child of the generation into Parliament.
In Forde, we see the rematch of the 2016 election between Bert van Manen and Des Hardman which was supposed to be the match-up in 2013 before Labor punted Hardman for Beattie in a spectacular failure which boosted van Manen’s margin and has delayed this marginal election bout one election cycle.
Labor must win both of these seats and Petrie to win government in any meaningful way and we don’t see it happening.
Prediction: Labor gain Forde, LNP retain Bonner
Everything else in South East and South West Queensland stays the same.
Once we get north of the LNP retains in Hinkler and Wide Bay we start to head into the preference lotteries. Now, despite the Galaxy seat polls which have been dropped, we warn people to be careful of 2PP polls which will need to come from long preference distributions.
Flynn is a seat that is based majorly on the Gladstone Regional Council area and has been held by Ken O’Dowd since 2010. Labor are standing Zac Beers (again) for the seat after he contested the seat last time, declared victory on the night then a few days later had to concede defeat after postal vote counting gave the seat back to the LNP.
Zac Beers is seen as the future of the regional AWU in regional Queensland and has been visited by Shorten in the middle of the election campaign. His campaign has been all about trying to reverse the last result but instead has been dogged by questions about the Adani mine and the CFMMEU pledge on coal mining.
The moment of this seats campaign will be the image of Beers and Shorten at the Gladstone Port with journalists asking Shorten whether or not he would sign the pledge and whether or not Beers had signed the pledge and trying to explain that there wasn’t a difference between the two.
This is a seat though that Labor has to get to in order to win anything in regional Queensland. If they aren’t winning Flynn, they certainly aren’t winning Capricornia or Dawson from the National party room or Leichhardt from the Liberals.
Prediction: LNP retain
Capricornia sees the perennially predicted to lose Michelle Landry up against Russell Robertson for this seat which stretches from Rockhampton to the Capricorn Coast, through the Bowen Basin coalfields and into the southern suburbs of Mackay.
Landry is the first non ALP member in 100 years to win the seat twice consecutively so the concept of writing her off is something that the Labor Party has done very well with poor outcomes.
For all the pronouncements of her death by the likes of Robert Schwarten and company she has survived and is one of the best regional grassroots MPs going around.
The complicators for the ALP campaign this time around have been immense. From the preferred Brisbane candidate not winning endorsement, local splits in the party, the Schwarten factor and the failure to deal with the coal mining issue and Adani early in the campaign has allowed the LNP to run the campaign on the issues they want to run the campaign on at a local level.
The macro complicator is the combined 20%+ minor party vote will mean a long preference count.
On the night, watch the booths from the outer suburbs of Rockhampton through to the Capricorn Coast and southern Mackay to see if the swing is on here.
Going into this, I would rather be the LNP than Labor.
Prediction: Too close to call
Dawson is the seat where the Labor Party is desperately trying to win it back from the controversial LNP MP George Christensen. Labor are standing cleanskin candidate Belinda Hassan who is being backed up by the Gilbert faction of the Labor Party in Mackay.
This is a place where the vote split to the minor parties is even higher than in Capricornia or Flynn.
We have the localised issue of the ‘Member for Manila’ tag being bandied about on Christensen but also the failure of the Labor campaign to hit the LNP with the tag on a local level.
Then there is now-Independent MP Jason Costigan endorsing the Katters Australian Party (KAP) Candidate for Dawson, Brendan Bunyan but then that candidate campaigning heavily in the Burdekin end of the seat but failing miserably to campaign in the canefields in the southern end of the Whitsundays and the northern end of Mackay. Also his campaign has been allergic to the City of Mackay all the way through. For us, this has all looked like a test run for his KAP candidacy for the State seat of Burdekin in 2020 (and a bad one at that, despite the scandal about his social media feed).
We also note though that it isn’t the canefields of Burdekin or the southern canefields north of Mackay that will decide it. It is urban voters in Mackay’s northern beaches who hold the key. This gives Labor a stronger chance than in other regional seats.
This campaign though has been dogged by Adani and coal mining just like in Capricornia and Flynn and the Hassan campaign hasn’t handled the issue as well as the ALP in Capricornia and Flynn (which isn’t a low standard) and hasn’t even signed the CFMMEU pledge as cover. Also, the lack of ability of her campaign to take George on directly hasn’t done her campaign justice on a strategic level.
Prediction: LNP retain from a long preference count
Herbert is a seat where the minor party vote has been consistently between 29%-31% as a combination of the UAP + PHON and KAP. The leading party has been changing between UAP and KAP in this seat with PHON a clear third. While we are not as confident about KAP winning as Bob is in the clip below, KAP has done well.
Cathy O’Toole at the last election only won the seat by 37 votes to start with and the preferences of the minor party combination will decide the winner here. However, with the primary votes in the low 30s for the majors it will be a very long preference count.
For everyone watching, one of the minors won’t win the seat here as the leakage from outside these parties will ensure that the votes don’t congeal behind one of the candidates in the pack, despite the hopes and dream of KAP and the UAP. We see a flow from the UAP straight to the Liberals which will stop this.
However, with some polls having Radeck as high as 14% she is getting dangerously close the ‘Dametto zone’ of being able to use preferences from below her to leapfrog the people above her in the count (PHON and FACNP will flow to KAP before UAP).
Prediction: Possible LNP gain
In Leichhardt, long term sitting MP Warren Entsch is against Elida Faith (Labor) and Dan McCarthy (KAP) as the smokey from the minor party pack. The odd thing of this being that Dan McCarthy was driven from the LNP and now presents a real threat to the LNP in this seat with the backing of KAP who now has been getting more and more media coverage in the Cairns media market as Kennedy has moved further into the southern and western suburbs of Cairns.
The Labor campaign has been poor and has missed a beat by not preselecting Cr. Richie Bates to be the Candidate. In our view this piece would be a completely different if he were the candidate. For Labor to win here, they need a convincing macro-result to flip the seat and we just don’t see that coming.
This is another seat where we expect a nice long preference count with minor parties accounting in some polls for up to 28% of the vote. This means that predicting a winner is a very difficult thing. However, considering this and the campaign Labor have run – we just cant see a Labor win here.
Prediction: LNP retain
Kennedy: KAP retain
New South Wales
In NSW, we head to a state where the predictions and the polls have been all over the place. At the start of this campaign, this was looking like a bad state for ScoMo. However, aside from Gilmore and Robertson going one way and Wentworth and Lindsay going the other. We can see a net zero performance in NSW as a possible best case scenario.
We don’t believe that the Greens will win any of their target seats in NSW despite valiant efforts.
We believe that Calare will go close for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers but wont get the seat from the Nationals.
We believe that Farrer will go from Sussan Ley to the Independent.
This is a state where UAP preferences will decide many of these seats in their bid to get Brian Burston re-elected to the Senate.
This makes the ‘battleground’ of urban NSW: Robertson, Banks, Gilmore, Reid and Lindsay.
Firstly, our team sees the seat being vacated by Emma Husar after her disendorsement over bullying claims. The seat is a contest between Melissa McIntosh for the Liberals and Diane Beamer for Labor.
The claims of the ‘Western Sydney’ vote are always diverse depending largely on the people proffering the concept. However, the reality is in our view that Western Sydney is so rapidly changing in its demographic composition that both major parties are struggling to keep up.
Lindsay is a more traditional marginal seat in its demographic makeup and thus why its on the table here this time.
It is because of these reasons and the vacancy that we agree with the polling out in the public space that this is a seat there for the taking for the Liberals.
Prediction: Liberal gain
As we turn to the south coast for Gilmore, we see a seat where the seat is likely to go to Gilmore on the alter of split votes, leakage and a clash of conservative egos.
The fact is, every time the parties of the right run against each other, there is always leakage which prevents the result from falling to a candidate from the right.
We are concerned that this will happen here for the Liberals in their bid to get Warren Mundine into the Parliament as a Liberal as they are relying on preference flows from Katrina Hodgkinson from the Nationals, the United Australia Party and Grant Schulz running as an Independent.
From all of the polls viewed, Labor to win the seat will need something around the 8-9% mark of preference leakage from those candidates after Green preferences are distributed. This puts it on the edge of the capacity of the vote.
There is also an equation here where the National could skip ahead of the Liberal (all be it unlikely) on Independent and UAP preferences. However, the flow would have to be a lot tighter than our team believe is likely.
Prediction: Too close to call.
Banks in our view is the marginal seat that wont go to Labor. Our research and the publicly available research shows that there is very little by way of a swing on the ground.
David Coleman is one of several Coalition ministers in serious danger of losing their seats, making Banks a key election battleground.
The Immigration Minister is on the unenviable list of ministers in jeopardy.
This was a Labor stronghold before 2013 when he won the seat for the Liberals in the Abbott swing.
Labor will run Chris Gambian, a former CFMEU official, against Coleman in a rematch of 2016.
This is the sole seat in NSW the CFMEU are devoting resources to. However, we see a situation where the seat is reacting badly to some of Labor’s policies on franking credits and the tough on borders rhetoric works here better than in other places in NSW.
Prediction: LNP retain (just)
In Robertson, we see Lucy Wicks with her 1.1% margin being in the firing line and we believe that when this seat goes to Labor, this seat will feature in stories about the number of Liberal women in the Parliament which, if things go badly tomorrow for the Liberals, could be at their lowest levels since the 1990s.
Wicks won Robertson by just 2179 votes against Labor’s Anne Charlton in 2016. This election will be a rematch between the two.
Charlton got a 1.95% swing to Labor last time and is coming back for the other 1.1% and we believe this time she will get there.
Prediction: Labor gain
While we have seen the Fairfax press, ABC and Labor sources all claim that they have Reid in the bag, we just don’t see it panning out that way for Labor so easily.
It should also be noted that Reid has the lowest prepoll numbers of any seat in NSW according to the SMH yesterday (16th).
This is a seat that has been vacated by Craig Laundy and it is our view that the handpicked Liberal candidate to replace Laundy, Dr Fiona Martin will fall short here.
Reid was won by Mr Laundy by 4.7 per cent at the 2016 election, though it had been held by Labor almost continuously prior to 2013.
An early voting report compiled by the AEC shows 9.8 per cent of the Reid electorate had voted. Another marginal Sydney seat, Banks, also had a relatively low turn-out, with 12.3 per cent of electors having voted.
Prediction: Too close to call
At this point, we should also mention we see everything in SA and the NT staying as is, despite Labor hopes of winning back Boothby (on the umpteenth try) and CLP hopes of rolling Warren Snowden in Lingiari.
As we move to Victoria we see a repeat of the Queensland swing pattern. A swing that is based in the centre of Melbourne and emanating out from there. This is why there are polls out there showing big swings against the Liberals in places like Kooyong and Higgins (where coincidentally Climate Change ranks as a much higher order issue) and falls away to the places where its needed.
However, before we get into the grim news for the Liberals, we believe that Indi will come back to the Coalition this time. Independents almost never get to pass their seats from Independent to Independent at the same level and the chances of this working here in Indi just is too remote.
Firstly, we can see the notionally Labor seats of Corangamite and Dunkley electing Labor members on very small margins.
If Labor can’t do this - Bill Shorten should write out his resignation speech as the Leader of Opposition tomorrow night.
The only other seat in Victoria we can see going to Labor is the seat of Chisholm. After the Julia Banks saga, Gladys Liu will contest the seat for the Liberals against Jennifer Yang who will contest it for Labor after her failed run for Mayor of Melbourne.
Critics believe Banks’ decision to switch seats was partly because both major party candidates are Chinese-Australian in a seat where almost 20 per cent of voters have Chinese heritage.
Liu, a maverick campaigner and prominent member of the Chinese community, will benefit from a recent electorate redistribution which boosted the party’s margin from 1.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent.
But the controversy over Banks’ exit, Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting and the perception of ongoing division will hurt her chances.
Prediction: Labor gain
The seat, which Liberal MP Jason Wood holds on a 3.2 per cent margin, has been heavily targeted by Labor during the this campaign. Polling has showed the Liberal primary going statistically no where but a rising Labor primary.
The strong primary vote here plus the fact that YouGov polling released today has the primary at 43% means you cant rule the Libs out of this seat.
Labor has to win here to win government as it needs minimum 4 seats in Victoria.
Prediction: Liberal retain
With recent reports that Michael Sukkar is in trouble, it means that the Speaker Tony Smith would be in trouble as well. While we don’t see Casey going red this time around, Deakin is more likely.
Sukkar is part of the Coalition’s far-right faction and was one of the key forces behind last year’s chaotic attempt to install Peter Dutton as prime minister.
Labor has seized on anger in the electorate, distributing materials reminding voters there of Mr Sukkar’s alliances with former PM and fellow hard-right figure Tony Abbott.
Climate change has emerged as the key issue in Deakin too, with Mr Sukkar a prominent climate sceptic.
For these reasons we see Deakin as in trouble for the Liberals.
Predictions: Casey Liberal retain, Deakin Liberal retain
Everything else in Victoria stays the same.
Going to Western Australia, which like Queensland, is often seen as the ‘weird’ states in the country and has been a state of reliably conservative seats which the Coalition cant afford to have eaten away at.
Firstly here we believe that Ken Wyatt will lose in Hasluck. Its always been a tight seat and last time it nearly fell to Labor and this time we just don’t see Wyatt being so lucky to dodge the bullet.
His personal popularity saved him last time but the Liberals are coming off the high water marks of 2013 and 2016 and this is the first in the firing line.
Prediction: Labor gain
The other seat we as in contention here is Hannah Beasley (daughter of Kim) trying to win the seat of Swan from Steve Irons on a margin of 3.6%. This is the best case scenario for Labor and we just don’t see it coming off for Labor here.
Despite her fathers popularity in the state, the Libs falling popularity and the multitude of visits from luminaries on both sides – just see this as too far, especially without a big statewide swing to back it up.
Prediction: Liberal retain
When we head to the final state in the equation. This is where the final piece of the puzzle comes together. ScoMo is trying to repair the damage that Turnbull caused in this state when he lost everything in 2016. At this election, Braddon and Bass is play for the Liberals in a state where the State Government is doing well and the space between the popularity of the state government and the federal government is being filled up.
Bass has changed hands four times in the last six elections. Labor won in 2016 with a 10 per cent swing in their favour. Two of the parties which contested the 2016 federal election are not fielding candidates this time around: the Renewable Energy Party and the Christian Democratic Party. They took around 5 per cent between them. The Nationals are newcomers, as are the United Australia and Animal Justice parties. The Palmer United Party scored 5.3 per cent of the vote at its sole outing in 2013.
At the last federal election, Justine Keay defeated Liberal Brett Whitely, with a swing of 4.8 per cent on a two-party preferred basis and was re-elected in a byelection.
Prediction: Bass and Braddon too close to call