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Antony Green discusses upcoming election -

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TONY JONES: With me now is the ABC's election analyst, Anthony Green. Thanks for being here,


TONY JONES: Now as we've said, tomorrow's Newspoll shows some voters returning to the Government,
but in fact the figures seem to return back to where they were before the aberrant Newspoll two
weeks ago. Does the Government have any real reason to be optimistic over this?

ANTONY GREEN: Well, in the last three months this is the seventh for the Newspoll in that period,
and of the seven, six of them have had the Labor two-party preferred at either 55 or 56. The only
one that was different from that was the last one, which was 59 per cent. So I think I can say from
that is that too many people read too much into the last Newspoll. And this has just reverted back
to what the previous six, five or six, were. So there isn't a lot of shift if you take out the last

TONY JONES: OK. What does history tell us about whether the Government can really claw back to an
election-winning position?

ANTONY GREEN: Well, a lot of comparisons been made with 1993, and at the start of that campaign,
Paul Keating went into the campaign 8 or 9 per cent behind the Liberal Party, the Coalition.

TONY JONES: This is the one the Prime Minister himself likes to side, isn't it, oddly enough,
considering it's Paul Keating?

ANTONY GREEN: It certainly is. So Paul Keating called the election campaign the same time Newspoll
had the 9 per cent behind the primary vote. The difference is, in 1993, was five of the previous
seven Newspolls, Labor had led in, so that there was huge evidence throughout 1992 and 1993 of
volatility in the polls, and what happened between the start of the campaign and the end of the
campaign in 1993 is that volatility emerged and Labor clawed ahead.

TONY JONES: OK. Now we asked you to have a look at what's happened in past elections, at least the
last two elections, with the Newspoll. So we'll have a look at the graphs you've prepared for us,
2001 and 2004, and compare that to what's happening this year.

ANTONY GREEN: Well, the first one, 2001, Labor started high early in the year and then it fell off,
starting around the time of the Budget, and then trailed away once the Tampa and the September 11
incidents occurred. In 2004, we saw a similar pattern - Labor was well ahead early on and then
their votes started to trail away and Labor eventually lost that election. The difference this time
is Labor is much further ahead and at this stage, there's no particular evidence of it falling
away. At this stage. We've had one or two jumps, like the last Newspoll, but essentially those
Newspoll figures have shown no particular change all for this year, yet Labor's much further ahead
than the last two elections.

TONY JONES: Right. So in both of those previous elections, Labor's vote fell off earlier and didn't
recover. This time, that hasn't happened?

ANTONY GREEN: No evidence of that, and Labor's been much further ahead and above all, its primary
vote has been much higher this time.

TONY JONES: OK, Antony Green, one thing that I always look forward to in past elections was the
famous Malcolm Mackerras pendulum. You've actually updated that year. The ABC's opening its own
election website tomorrow. You've got a new electronic pendulum. Can you tell us how it works? And
if you can for us, live here, can you key in tomorrow's Newspoll figures and show us what that
would do on the pendulum?

ANTONY GREEN: It's always dangerous using computers live, but here goes.

The swing of about 4.5 to 5 per cent would deliver Labor government. So it's about 4.5 to 5 per
cent, Labor gets to 76 seats. The Newspolls you've been seeing so far have swing of nearly 7 per
cent. If you put our swing up to 7 per cent, we see Labor up to 91 seats and the Coalition on 57.
So if the 7 per cent swing, if we see that and Newspoll repeats it on election day, and a uniform
swing, then the current positions in the Parliament, Labor and the Coalition, will be reversed,
with Labor gaining about 36.

TONY JONES: Alright. That's a measure of what the Government's got to do to actually win this
election. But of course, the pendulum only measures uniform swings, and what may be expected here,
or what the Government's hoping for, is different swings in different seats, particularly in the
marginals that they're targeting.

ANTONY GREEN: That's certainly the case. If the swing was only 4 to 5 per cent, you could say that
a marginal seat could help the Government hold on. They would actually hold on to some of those key
marginals, make it harder for Labor to win. If the swing is still 6 to 7 per cent, then it's much
harder for the Coalition to hang on to some of those marginals, and any they do hang onto maybe
compensated for Labor by winning a seat beyond the uniform swing. So on these polls it's very hard
to see how the Government can possibly win, but if they can claw back another two to three points
and get the swing down to about 5 per cent, then you starting an election which will be much

TONY JONES: Would you expect to see a uniform swing, for example, in a seat like Bennelong, held by
the sitting Prime Minister?

ANTONY GREEN: Bennelong is the fifteenth seat in the pendulum Labor needs to win. It strikes me as
the sort of seat which is very reflexive of the whole of Sydney, it reflects the ethnic
composition, the age composition of Sydney. I don't see any reason why the swing would be any
different in Bennelong than the rest of the country, and in fact, today's Newspoll, which is 7 per
cent, is exactly the same as the 7 per cent that the Morgan polls showed in Bennelong over the

TONY JONES: OK. The seat that the marginal, the Prime Minister, sort of cited to his own party room
last Wednesday as bellwether as Eden-Monaro. The figures that he seemed to have showed that -
internal party polling - seemed to be showing they would win that seat, but the only published poll
we know is the last Morgan poll in Eden-Monaro, which is at odds with that.

ANTONY GREEN: Well, you know, I always tend to discount internal party polling. It's always said
for a reason, it always gets out into the public for a reason. Eden-Monaro, it tends to swing. It's
a coincidence it tends to go with Government. There's nothing that makes Eden-Monaro special. But I
think it will be interesting to watch, like many of those other 15 to 16 seats Labor needs to win
government. Which ones does Labor fail to get, and if they don't get them, which other seats beyond
the uniform swing do they need to win?

TONY JONES: Very briefly, the Morgan poll, reliable or not on that seat?

ANTONY GREEN: It was taken over a long period of time, it's like about an eight-month compilation.
So you don't know whether it started high, six or eight months ago and has trailed off since. But
you'd expect it to be relatively reflective of the electorate.

TONY JONES: Antony Green, thanks for that. We'll look forward to doing this again during the course
of the campaign. Thanks for joining us for the first time tonight.

ANTONY GREEN: Thank you, Tony.