2022 Post-Election Analysis

Words by Sebastian Andrew

How it played out, state by state

Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash

Western Australia:

Labor’s best results were saved for last, when after hours of polls closing in the East, results finally came in from the West.

  • Commentators (and myself) expected the ‘Mark McGowan’ factor to evaporate a year out from his landslide state-election win.The opposite turned out to be true.
  • Labor flipped Swan, Pearce, Hasluck, and Tangney, with swings from 10% to 14%. The affluent seat of Moore, thought safe for the Liberals, was nearly gained.
  • The safest seat for the Liberals is currently the seat of Durack, and is now held by a margin of 6.5.
  • The loss of four seats and transformation of all their seats into either safe or marginal Labor seats, or marginal Liberal seats, puts WA Liberals at a severe disadvantage when it comes to clawing back ground in 2025.

South Australia:

The Liberals avoided disaster in South Australia but came close to a wipe-out.

  • The marginal seat of Boothby was finally gained by Labor.
  • Although for a while it looked like it would flip, the seat of Sturt was narrowly retained by the Liberals. Both incumbent senators won and the Liberals are currently set to win the third seat, despite polls previously indicating they could win only one or two. Grey MP Rowan Ramsey easily fended off an Independent challenge.
  • In contrast to WA, the effects of the recent state election were less pronounced, and incumbent Labor MPs only experienced mild swings in their favour.

Victoria:

Conservative commentators had expected a revolt in Melbourne against ‘Dictator Dan’ but nothing of the sort emerged.

  • Labor gained Chisholm and Higgins, while coming within points in three other Melbourne seats (Deakin, Menzies, and Casey).
  • The biggest story out of Melbourne was the defeat of treasurer and future-Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg. I expected it would tilt in Frydenberg’s favour. But no. The Liberal prince was dethroned by a 9.5% swing against him, and he conceded defeat the next day.
  • Moderate Liberal Tim Wilson was also easily defeated.
  • A few swings to the Liberals in Melbourne’s western and northern suburbs. The United Australia Party has a slim chance of gaining a Senate seat. So a rather puny revolt it has turned out to be.

New South Wales:

Australia’s biggest state, New South Wales, was where most of the action happened.

  • Anti-China rhetoric from the Liberals and quality Labor candidates helped flip the seats of Reid and Bennelong to Labour. Both seats are home to significant Chinese Australian populations.
  • Seat of Robertson on the central coast flipped to Labor, continuing its streak as the longest-running bellwether seat.
  • The Teal wave swept over Northern Sydney. Warringah MP Zali Steggall easily retained her seat against a terribly flawed candidate.
  • Independents Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink and Sophie Scamps easily flipped the seats of Wentworth, North Sydney, and Mackellar. The very safe seat of Bradfield, despite receiving no media attention, came relatively close to being won by an Independent. Here’s a tip — watch this seat next election.
  • Kristina Keneally’s attempt to transfer to the southwestern Sydney seat of Fowler failed. As a white woman from the affluent northern beaches, her candidacy in a less-affluent and heavily Vietnamese electorate was controversial from the beginning, but many had expected that partisan loyalty would prevail.
  • Liberals had hoped to flip the seats of Gilmore, Parramatta, Macquarie, Hunter, and Dobell. None of these seats flipped.

Queensland:

If a wave of teal swept over Sydney and Melbourne, then inner-city Brisbane was bathed by a sea of green. Ironically, the seat that killed progressive hopes in 2019 was the source of their greatest gains.

  • The Greens gained the seats of Brisbane and Ryan off the Liberals, and Griffith off Labor, and a Senate seat. These flips have been credited to an extraordinarily strong ground game.
  • Labor meanwhile failed to break through and although they experienced swings towards them, they gained no marginal seats. Similarly, the Liberals failed to pick up any of Labor’s marginals in Brisbane’s northeast and southwest.
  • A conservative exodus to One Nation did not materialise, and despite a 1.5% swing to them nationwide, they actually lost votes in Queensland compared to 2019. Hanson herself only reached half of a Senate quota, and for a short while, looked as if she would lose to either Clive Palmer or the Legalise Cannabis Party.

Tasmania:

Tasmania was a rare state where the trend was bucked.

  • The ultra-marginal seat of Bass was won by the Liberals on an increased margin, as was the seat of Braddon.
  • Labor came close to losing the rural seat of Lyons and to only holding one seat in a state it won the two-party preferred vote in.
  • This was likely due to a) the popularity of Bass MP Bridget Archer due to independence on issues of integrity and trans-youth, b) the popularity of former Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein, and c) a natural political realignment where regional electorates like Braddon and Lyons naturally trend towards conservative parties.

The aftermath

After losing a swath of moderate Liberals in inner-city seats in a rejection of climate denialism and anti-transgender rhetoric, Liberals proved they’d learnt nothing and selected hardliner Peter Dutton as their leader. At least the Nationals realised the unpopularity of Barnaby Joyce and ditched him in favour of the more moderate-appearing David Littleproud. Regardless, it once again demonstrates that the Liberals either have their heads in the sand, or that factional politics has once again won over the desires of the electorate. Either that, or it’s a strategy on Dutton’s part to ditch the metros and focus on regional seats like McEwen, Lyons, and Hunter. Which itself is a very risky gamble.

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