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Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008

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Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008

Elections to the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly were held on Saturday, 18 October 2008. The incumbent Labor Party, led by Jon Stanhope, was challenged by the Liberal Party, led by Zed Seselja. Candidates were elected to fill three multi-member electorates using a single transferable vote method, known as the Hare-Clark system. The result was another hung parliament with Labor winning seven seats, the Liberals six seats and the Greens finishing with four seats, giving the Greens the balance of power in the 17-member unicameral Assembly. On 31 October 2008, after almost two weeks of deliberations, the Greens chose to support a Labor minority government. Consequently, Labor was re-elected to a third consecutive term of government in the ACT. Stanhope was elected Chief Minister at the first sitting of the seventh Assembly on 5 November 2008.

Contents

  • Last day to lodge applications for party register: 30 June 2008
  • Party registration closed: 11 September 2008
  • Pre-election period commenced and nominations opened: 12 September 2008
  • Rolls closed: 19 September 2008
  • Nominations closed: 24 September 2008
  • Nominations declared and ballot paper order determined: 25 September 2008
  • Pre-poll voting commenced: 29 September 2008
  • Polling day: 18 October 2008
  • Scrutiny completed: 25 October 2008
  • Poll declared: 29 October 2008
  • Legislative Assembly formed: 5 November 2008
  • Overview

    The incumbent centre-left Australian Labor Party, led by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, attempted to win re-election for a third term after coming to power in 2001. They were challenged by the opposition centre-right Liberal Party of Australia, led by Zed Seselja, who assumed the Liberal leadership in December 2007. A third party, the ACT Greens, held one seat in the Assembly through retiring MLA Deb Foskey.

    The election saw all 17 members of the Assembly face re-election, with members being elected by the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation. The Assembly is divided into three electorates: five-member Brindabella (including Tuggeranong and parts of the Woden Valley) and Ginninderra (including Belconnen and suburbs) and seven-member Molonglo (including North Canberra, South Canberra, Gungahlin, Weston Creek, and the remainder of the Woden Valley). Election dates are set in statute to occur once every four years; the government has no ability to set the election date.

    Following the 2004 election outcome, Labor held 9 seats, becoming the first majority government in the territory's history. The opposition Liberal Party held 7 seats, with the Greens holding a further one. The Liberal numbers in the Assembly dropped to six in December 2007 when former Shadow Treasurer Richard Mulcahy was expelled from the party and began sitting as an independent. The opposition thus would have needed to win a further three seats, on top of regaining Mulcahy's seat, to hold government in its own right.

    The Liberal campaign suffered early problems in February 2008 when a number of prominent Liberal Party and business figures, including popular former Chief Minister Kate Carnell and high-profile businessman and former party finance director Jim Murphy, relaunched the 250 Club, previously a Liberal fundraising group, as the independent Canberra Business Club. The new organisation pledged to support minor party and independent pro-business candidates in the election, citing their disillusion with both major parties and the need for a third political force in the Assembly. At the same time, their best prospect for winning Mulcahy's seat of Molonglo, the Liberal Candidate for Fraser in the previous Federal election, withdrew.

    Polling

    Conducted by Patterson Market Research, and published in The Canberra Times, polling released on 4 October suggested the Green vote had doubled to tripled since the last election, at the expense of Labor, with the Liberal vote relatively unchanged. Commentators predicted the Greens would hold the balance of power and decide who forms government. The Greens stated they were willing to court both major parties.

    Scanning of ballot papers

    In the 2001 and 2004 elections, after the first manual count of paper ballots the preferences were data entered for distribution. For the 2008 election, paper ballots were scanned and character recognition software used to identify preferences. Any preferences that could not be identified by the software were entered manually.

    Candidates

    Sitting members at the time of the election are in bold. Tickets that elected at least one MLA are highlighted in the relevant colour. Successful candidates are indicated by an asterisk (*).

    Labor

  • Wayne Berry (Ginninderra)
  • Karin MacDonald (Brindabella)
  • Liberal

  • Bill Stefaniak (Ginninderra)
  • Greens

  • Deb Foskey (Molonglo)
  • Brindabella

    Five seats were up for election. The Labor Party was defending three seats. The Liberal Party was defending two seats.

    Ginninderra

    Five seats were up for election. The Labor Party was defending three seats. The Liberal Party was defending two seats.

    Molonglo

    Seven seats were up for election. The Labor Party was defending three seats. The Liberal Party was defending three seats. The Australian Greens were defending one seat.

    Results

    At the close of counting on election night 18 October 2008, with 82.1 per cent of the vote counted Labor had obtained 37.6 per cent of the vote across the ACT, with the Liberals at 31.1 per cent and the Greens at 15.8 per cent. Swings were recorded against both the Labor (-9.3 per cent) and Liberal (-3.7 per cent) parties with a +6.6 per cent swing towards the Greens. Labor won 7 seats, the Liberals won 6 seats, while the Greens won 4 seats, giving them the balance of power, and negotiated with both major parties for the formation of a minority government. After almost two weeks of deliberations, the Greens chose to form a minority government with Labor. The ACT Electoral Commission determined and announced the election's final results on 25 October 2008 after distribution of preferences.

    In Brindabella, Labor lost one of its three seats to Greens candidate Amanda Bresnan. Government minister John Hargreaves was re-elected, but Labor backbencher Mick Gentleman was beaten by another Labor candidate, Joy Burch. For the Liberal Party, former leader Brendan Smyth was re-elected, but shadow minister Steve Pratt lost his seat to Steve Doszpot.

    Labor also lost a seat in Ginninderra, where Greens candidate Meredith Hunter was elected. Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Labor MLA Mary Porter were both re-elected, and on the Liberal ticket sitting MLA Vicki Dunne was joined by Alistair Coe.

    In seven-member Molonglo, the Liberals lost one seat to the Greens. Labor ministers Katy Gallagher, Andrew Barr and Simon Corbell all won re-election, as did Liberal leader Zed Seselja. Sitting MLA Jacqui Burke lost to Jeremy Hanson for the second Liberal seat. The Greens increased their representation in this seat to two, electing new MLAs Shane Rattenbury and Caroline Le Couteur, the latter at the expense of Liberal-turned-Independent MLA Richard Mulcahy.

    References

    Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008 Wikipedia


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