With polling day fast approaching, the time has come for me to make my predictions for the eighth ACT Legislative Assembly general election on October 20.
Before I do that I should note that this is my third article in 2012 in The Canberra Times making forecasts for this event.
On February 10 I had an article published on the opinion page titled ''Predictions for elections around the voting globe'' to which the editor added: ''Many English-speaking nations go to the polls this year, Malcolm Mackerras writes.''
Discussing the ACT were these words: ''The most recent ACT election took place on October 18, 2008, and the result was seven seats for Labor, six for the Liberals and four for the Greens, in a Legislative Assembly of 17 members.
''My prediction for the October 20, 2012, election is eight seats for the Liberals, seven for Labor and two for the Greens.''
Then in the Sunday Canberra Times for July 29 (page 21) I had an article titled ''Moral vanity will kill off Greens'' in which I asserted the Greens had reached their high-water mark and would now start to decline. I describe that below as my ''July thesis''.
''If you combine all the houses of parliament of Australia and New Zealand there are 48 Greens politicians but 46 of them owe their places to the operation of some form of proportional representation (PR) electoral system.''
I then noted the exceptions were Jamie Parker in the NSW state seat of Balmain and Adam Bandt in the federal seat of Melbourne.
I predicted the re-election of Parker and the defeat of Bandt.
Then I went on: ''Most of the 46 PR Greens will stay in parliament but their number will gradually decline, beginning with Caroline Le Couteur (for whom I voted in October 2008) losing her Molonglo seat to a Liberal.'' I now wish to elaborate and modify these recent opinions, beginning with the February one. The result eight Liberals, seven Labor, two Greens is still possible, indeed it is the second-most likely result. It would happen if Brindabella split three Liberals and two Labor, and if each of Ginninderra and Molonglo split equally between the big parties and re-elected one each from the Greens.
However, I have now come to the firm conclusion that the most likely result is seven Labor, seven Liberals and three Greens.
Details of such a result are discussed below.
In the case of Le Couteur there are two ways in which she could be re-elected - but you would not put money on her unless you were given very good odds.
First, the overall result could see the status quo maintained. That is the third-most likely result. If that were the case all four current Greens would be re-elected and my July thesis would fall to the ground.
Second (but less likely), the Hare-Clark system might turn up a surprise. One of the features of Hare-Clark is that candidates from the same party compete with each other. Consequently it is possible Le Couteur will be re-elected and Shane Rattenbury defeated, leaving the Greens as an all-woman party.
I give Le Couteur only one chance in five of re-election. However, that is not a reflection on her personally. She is well-regarded in the community and around the Assembly building.
The reputation of Le Couteur is that she is by far the most entrepreneurial member of the Assembly. If the net worth of all 17 members were known she would (it is thought) easily top the list, making the ACT Parliament unique in Australia. In every other parliament the highest net worth member is from the Liberal Party. My predictions for the three electorates are as follows:
In Brindabella the retirement of John Hargreaves (Labor) will see Mick Gentleman reclaim his seat. Gentleman had been one of the members for Brindabella elected on October 16, 2004, when Labor secured three of the five Brindabella seats. So he was one of the 17 members of the sixth Assembly. He will be a member of the eighth, having missed out on the seventh.
In Brindabella, the Liberals will get two seats for sure with party leader Zed Seselja topping the poll. Brendan Smyth will also be re-elected. If they get three, the third man in will be Val Jeffery.
Contrary to my February opinion, I now think Amanda Bresnan will hold her seat for the Greens.
Ginninderra is the easiest to pick. The five incumbents will be re-elected. They are Chris Bourke and Mary Porter for Labor, Alistair Coe and Vicki Dunne for the Liberals and Meredith Hunter for the Greens.
In Molonglo the three Labor ministers will be re-elected, Katy Gallagher, Andrew Barr and Simon Corbell. Liberal member Jeremy Hanson will be re-elected. If, as is likely, the Liberals win three seats the other two would be Steve Doszpot and Giulia Jones.
However, what if the Liberals only have two seats? My guess is that the two would be Hanson and Jones.
The point is that Doszpot is not an incumbent in Molonglo and Jones is waging a strong campaign. (Last Monday public holiday, a canvasser for Jones came to my house so Jones became the only candidate to seek my vote so far. I am sure she will be elected.) As Chief Minister Katy Gallagher will get the highest vote in the whole election - in excess of 20,000 first preferences.
Malcolm Mackerras is visiting fellow in the Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University, Canberra Campus. firstname.lastname@example.org