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Analysing Griffith like trying to explain a platypus

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Paul Osborne

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Butler did it

Labor's Terri Butler says she "will not let you down" after her likely victory in the Griffith by-election but the result is seen as a positive for the LNP. Nine News

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If the Griffith by-election was an animal, it would be a platypus.

Just as the platypus can be a mammal and lay eggs - much to the bafflement of scientists - the result in the by-election to replace Kevin Rudd can be seen as a win for Labor and a positive for the coalition.

As it appeared almost certain Labor's Terri Butler would take the Brisbane seat, Liberal Party strategists pointed to a number of "wins".

Griffith byelection candidates Bill Glasson and Terri Butler.

Griffith byelection candidates Bill Glasson and Terri Butler. Photo: Glenn Hunt

The primary swing of about 1.4 per cent to the Liberal candidate Bill Glasson is the first swing to a government in a by-election since 1996.

Labor's primary vote in what should be its southeast Queensland heartland has dropped to below 40 per cent.

Historically, by-election swings average five per cent against governments.

Kevin Rudd, Shayne Sutton, Troy Spence and Terri Butler at the Labor function for the Griffith byelection. Click for more photos

Griffith byelection February 8, 2014: in pictures

Griffith voters head to the ballot box to select a replacement for former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd who quit politics. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

So the result has many Liberals thinking Dr Glasson fared pretty well and Labor didn't impress.

On the flipside, Labor retained the seat.

And the opposition managed to keep the swing almost within the average for a by-election during the first term of a federal government - about 1.7 per cent.

Labor wanted it to be a referendum on the first months of the Abbott government and the prospects of health and education services being slashed via the dreaded commission of audit.

Opposition Leader Shorten campaigned heavily in Griffith on fears of a Medicare co-payment and an end to penalty rates, as well as Prime Minister Tony Abbott's rejection of industry support for Holden and SPC Ardmona.

However, while these issues resonated among voters, the strength of feeling was not enough to give Labor a confidence-boosting swing heading into the first week of federal parliament for the year.

On balance, it could be seen as a combination of some unrest with the early days of Mr Abbott's government, Labor putting up an articulate local candidate, Griffith's demographics becoming a little more conservative and some residual disenchantment with Rudd.

It's a bit like trying to describe an animal with a duck's bill, a beaver's tail and an otter's foot.

AAP

59 comments so far

  • You didn't mention the voter turnout. If the figure I heard was correct (60%) you can't say much about any swing without working out who didn't show up.

    Commenter
    NorthQ
    Date and time
    February 10, 2014, 1:41AM
    • NorthQ so true. I hear it was in the staggering region of 15000 who didn't vote. What were their reasons? Others point to it being labor voters who didn't vote and undoubtedly they account for some. How many disenchanted LNP supporters didn't vote and why? I do know from speaking with people who voted for Abbott at the Fed election they wouldn't vote for him again but wouldn't want to vote either Labor of a Green.Not voting would have been a softer option. Until any feedback emerges we cannot draw any positive conclusions. What we can say is that considering theLNP brought all their 'big guns ' to Griffith it wasn't sufficient to make a significant difference and Labor won-a relatively unknown against a high profile candidate.

      Commenter
      Dovis
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 9:28AM
    • No mention of the personal following of a member of 15 years and a former PM either.

      Commenter
      cycloniq
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 9:34AM
    • And highly likely that ALP voters didn't really give a $#!t about it, so didn't turn up. Whereas, the LNP were desperate to get their man across the line this time.
      Net result is that as at this morning, Glasson has over 6,000 votes less than he got last time.

      Commenter
      Scotty
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 10:12AM
    • According to the AEC, voter turnout on the day was 72.45%. That's before any postal and pre-poll votes are counted.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 10:55AM
    • A loss is a loss. Nothing good for the Liberal Party here. They should have won easily as QLD is very conservative generally and perfectly fertile ground for Mr Abbott's brand and style, policies etc.

      Commenter
      Cobbs
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 11:39AM
  • The LNP had a candidate who had been in the field for over 12 months and had a high profile. I would have felt sorry for him given he had missed out first time around, except he belonged to a Party who's mindset is about destroying the community rather than building it.

    Commenter
    Sam
    Location
    Hawthorne
    Date and time
    February 10, 2014, 6:12AM
    • Agree - Coalition can take little comfort from the result as Glasson has been campaigning for the last 18 months and every weekend there were supporters in blue shirts waving placards.

      Against that the Labor candidate Butler had a low profile prior to the by election and following a high profile person like Rudd would always be difficult.

      The comparison between this and other by election swings is difficult as a major factor is how soon after the election was the by election .
      In this case the Abbott Govt is still in a Honeymoon - although they are doing their best to spoil the honeymoon , but if the vote was held in say 2 years there would probably be a protest vote .
      This appears to be the case in Redcliffe where the LNP are obviously worried although the seat has a 10% margin

      Commenter
      GT101
      Location
      Highgate Hill
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 8:57AM
    • I guess that's why he got 3000 plus votes more than the ALP candidates well as a swing towards him.

      Commenter
      Oscar
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 9:55AM
    • @ Oscar, but did he win? No. Should a government, if they are doing such a great job and while still in a honeymoon period win a by-election in an area where a) the demographic is changing to be more conservatve, b) an extremely strong local member with a personal vote of about 20 percent isn't running (K-Rudd) and c) having a high profile, likeable candidate (Glasson) running against a virtual no name? That's a big fat yes. The fact the Liberals still could not win, despite sending in all their big guns to campaign and outspending Labor 4-1. Add to the fact there was about a 40 percent bracket of people who didn't vote. The primary vote means nothing.....the reason 2PP exists is because more people didn't vote Glasson than did. If any Liberal Party supporter can sit here and say there's a positive in this, well I guess you'd fit in well with some diehard Parramatta Eels supporters (who's club are currently the basket case of the NRL) who last year got excited if they lost a game by 2 tries as opposed to 5 or 6. The Liberals SHOULD have won this by-election given all the circumstances, the fact they didn't should concern them.

      Commenter
      Luke
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 10:19AM

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