Thursday, August 26, 2010

Election counting enters the home stretch

A THIRD day of counting votes from Saturday's election passed yesterday with relatively few counted. More than 2 million votes remain to be counted, and the result of Saturday's election is little clearer.

Last night three seats were too close to call: Corangamite in Victoria, Hasluck in Western Australia, and Brisbane, where Labor MP Arch Bevis halved his deficit with a surprisingly strong haul of postal votes.

At this stage, Labor looks better placed to win Corangamite. The Liberals look better positioned to win Hasluck. And, in Brisbane, the strong swing to the Coalition on Saturday is being offset by a small swing to Labor in postal and absentee votes.

If Labor wins Corangamite and the Coalition wins Hasluck, the two sides will have 72 seats each, with the result in Brisbane deciding which will end up with more seats.

With Green MP Adam Bandt already declared for Labor, victory in Brisbane would, in effect, give Labor a 74-72 lead. But conversely, victory for the Coalition in Brisbane would make it 73-73, leaving the four independents with a tough choice.

Last night, former Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro led Mr Bevis by only 382 votes, down sharply from a lead of 870 on Monday. But with as many as 15,000 pre-poll, postal, absentee and provisional votes still to be checked, it is too early to pick a winner.

The trend was moving the opposite way in Corangamite, where Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson polled well on the postals to claw back another 64 votes, narrowing the lead of Labor MP Darren Cheeseman to 573 votes. But with most postals now counted, and absentee votes favouring Labor, Mr Cheeseman will probably just squeeze back.

Postal votes in Hasluck also ran well for the Liberals, with former Aboriginal health director Ken Wyatt lifting his lead over Labor MP Sharryn Jackson to 704 votes. The Liberals are also doing better in absentee votes than in 2007, and there are 6000 of them left to count.

Liberal frontbencher Bruce Billson is now out of danger in Dunkley, after postal votes swelled his lead to 1500 votes. The Liberals have also kept Boothby, the only close seat in South Australia, and won the Blue Mountains seat of Macquarie.

Barring bizarre shifts in late counting, only two other seats remain in doubt, Greenway and Lindsay, both in the outer west of Sydney.


BRISBANE (Qld) votes %

Teresa Gambaro (Lib) 33,233 50.29

Arch Bevis (ALP) 32,851 49.71


Darren Cheeseman (ALP) 42,087 50.34

Sarah Henderson (Lib) 41,514 49.66


Ken Wyatt (Lib) 37,805 50.47

Sharryn Jackson (ALP) 37,099 49.53


Michelle Rowland (ALP) 34,808 50.80

Jaymes Diaz (Lib) 33,708 49.20


David Bradbury (ALP) 38,287 50.83

Fiona Scott (Lib) 37,037 49.17



Bruce Billson (Lib) 39,383 50.97

Helen Constas (ALP) 37,883 49.03