Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How we voted - the big city divide

LABOR won almost 60 per cent of the two-party vote in metropolitan Melbourne at last month's election, its highest share since World War II.

But the Liberals scored a rare win in Sydney, polling 51 per cent of the two-party vote and creating the widest gap in political views between the two cities for decades.

Results issued by the Australian Electoral Commission show an unusually wide division between Australia's regions. Labor won the south-eastern states with its highest share of the vote for more than 60 years. Yet the north and the west voted just as overwhelmingly for the Coalition.

The contrast was massive. In Hobart, Labor won 63 per cent of the two-party vote, a swing of 3.6 per cent, and 59 per cent in the rest of Tasmania, up 5 per cent. Is it a coincidence that Tasmania is where the national broadband network is now being rolled out?

In round figures, Labor also won 62 per cent of the vote in Canberra, 60 per cent in Melbourne, and 58 per cent in Adelaide. But in terms of seats, it ended up no better off. It lost inner-city seats in Hobart and Melbourne to independents or Greens, and gained just two outer-suburban seats in Melbourne from the Coalition.

By contrast, Labor's vote plummeted in the north and the west. In rural Western Australia, it ended up with just 35 per cent of the two-party vote. In Perth, it won less than 46 per cent, and just three of the West's 15 seats in the House.

Labor did only slightly better in Queensland, suffering a swing of 5.6 per cent against it in Brisbane, and 5.5 per cent across the rest of the state. It lost nearly all the seats it won in 2007, leaving it with just eight of Queensland's 30 seats.

But in the 25 elections since 1949, Labor has won on the votes only three times in Queensland and four in WA. What was unusual was the size of Labor's win in the south-east and the Coalition's win in Sydney.

New South Wales, normally Labor territory, went for the Coalition this time. In metropolitan Sydney, it won a 6.6 per cent swing. But one of the keys to the election result was that this huge swing saw it gain only two new seats: Bennelong and Macquarie. Four other Labor marginals in NSW swung to Labor against the trend.


Two-party preferred vote and swing



HOBART 63.3 36.7 3.6

CANBERRA 61.7 38.3 1.7

MELBOURNE 59.7 40.3 1.3

REST OF TASMANIA 58.8 41.2 5.0

ADELAIDE 58.0 42.0 2.1

REST OF NT 53.8 46.2 7.4



SYDNEY 49.0 51.0 6.6

BRISBANE 48.7 51.3 5.6

REST OF NSW 48.7 51.3 2.8

DARWIN 48.2 51.8 1.9

REST OF VICTORIA 46.6 53.4 0.7

PERTH 45.7 54.3 2.4

REST OF SA 45.0 55.0 1.3

REST OF QLD 41.9 58.1 5.5

REST OF WA 34.8 65.2 6.5

AUSTRALIA 50.1 49.9 2.6