swings

Queensland By-elections since 1992

As well as voting in the Queensland local government elections this weekend, voters in the Labor-held seats of Inala and Ipswich West will vote at state by-elections to elect new MPs.

“Informed sources” are making predictions of big swings. There are hints from Labor at possible seat losses, from the LNP about falling short of the required swing. The sort of expectations management now common ahead of important by-elections.

The results of both by-elections, and the Brisbane City Council election, will be watched closely. On Saturday night you can follow my coverage of the elections at the ABC’s Brisbane City Council and By-elections live results site. I’ll also be joining Steve Austin on ABC Brisbane local radio analysing the results.

The election night dissections will be followed by the reports of the auguries on Sunday. What will they be able to divine about the fate of the Labor government and new Premier Steven Miles at the state election set for October?

The Inala by-election (preview here) is to select a replacement for former Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Inala has been Labor’s safest seat for three decades and its margin of 28.2% looks insurmountable.

At greater risk further along the Warrego Highway is Ipswich West (preview here). Former member Jim Madden has been followed by controversy before resigning and the seat’s margin of 14.3% is half that of Inala. It is a seat that both the LNP and One Nation have held in the past.

Looking back at Queensland by-elections since 1992, they provide a mixed bag of results to measure against this weekend’s results. There have been 21 by-elections since 1992, eight resulting in the incumbent party being defeated. Twelve of these by-elections were two-party preferred contests like this weekend’s pair, and six saw incumbents defeated.

In summary –

  • Of the 12 two-party preferred by-elections, the average swing against the government of the day was 6.5%.
  • The seven by-elections while Labor was in government saw an average swing of 5.0% against Labor government.
  • The five by-elections while the LNP was in government produced an average swing of 8.5% against the LNP government.
  • Of the seven by-elections in government held seats, the average swing against the government was 10.1% Five were in Labor seats in Labor governments and an average of 6.9%, the two LNP seats while the LNP governed averaging 18.2%.
  • The Beattie Labor government lost three seats after big swings at by-elections between 2005 and 2006. Labor lost Chatsworth in 2005 after a 13.9% swing, Redcliffe the same day with an 8.4% swing, and Gaven in April 2006 after an 8.3% swing. Despite the losses, Labor re-gained all three seats at the 2006 election.
  • The Newman LNP government lost two seats to huge swings at by-elections in 2014, losing Redcliffe to a 17.2% swing, and Stafford shortly after to an even bigger 19.1% swing. Both results accurately predicted the result of the next state election in January 2015.

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