My last article here was published on Thursday, November 23, and titled “Is our High Court interested in fairness or justice?” to which question I gave a resoundingly negative answer. I concluded by promising that my next article would be on Bennelong in which I might make a prediction. When I appeared on SWITZER on Monday, December 4, I gave my prediction to Peter – John Alexander will win Bennelong because his electors will come to the same view as those of New England. Both Barnaby Joyce and Alexander are clear-cut cases of unfair dismissal. Electors, therefore, will hire again those two men who were legitimately, convincingly and democratically elected in July last year.

As I have pointed out in several articles, these cases illustrate the beauty of our democratic system for electing the House of Representatives. To the unrepresentative swill of the Senate (with its truly appalling voting system) is left the power of the judges to confiscate seats from those who were legitimately and democratically elected to those seats. In this term so far there have been ten Senate seat confiscations. You read that correctly – TEN confiscations, and counting. If I wanted to be pedantic, however, I could have noted “or resignations in expectation of confiscation”.

The inherent nature of Bennelong is that it is a highly marginal seat. I knew that when I saw the present map which was published in 2006. I had no difficulty in repeatedly predicting that John Howard in 2007 would be defeated in that highly marginal seat. All the surrounding seats (originally Berowra, Bradfield, North Sydney, Lowe, Reid and Parramatta) have seen their boundaries changed by subsequent redistributions but Bennelong has remained unchanged.

When created in 1949 Bennelong was a blue ribbon Liberal seat. The original proposal was that it be called Lane Cove but the map-makers realised that the suburb of Lane Cove would be removed at a subsequent redistribution – so the permanent name of Bennelong was given. The seat was so blue ribbon in its character that there was a notional majority for the Liberal Party on the 1946 voting when Ben Chifley stormed home to a great Labor victory in Australia as a whole.

During its blue ribbon phase there was just one close result. The seat was saved for its incumbent, Sir John Cramer, in 1961 by the votes of the suburbs of Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Longueville, Northwood and Woolwich. All those polling places now vote in blue ribbon North Sydney, leaving Bennelong as the ultimate example of a marginal seat.

The great winner of 2007 was Labor’s Maxine McKew who turned out to be an inadequate member. Alexander, therefore, took it in 2010 on a swing of 4.5 per cent. He added to his 2010 majority a swing of 4.6 per cent in 2013, followed by a further swing in his favour of 1.9 per cent in 2016. Those three swings add together to create the impression of Bennelong returning to its status as blue ribbon Liberal but I can assure readers that it remains very much a marginal seat. In any circumstances but these ones Labor could easily win Bennelong. I would not object to that in any circumstances but these. Nor would I object if Kristina Keneally were to be a future member of the House of Representatives. However, not in these circumstances, thank you very much. Personally she is a delightful woman to meet.

The Greens will take from Labor the Melbourne inner-city seat of Batman at the next election, whenever it is held. That being the case it is probably best for Labor to get the pain over and done with by a Court-ordered by-election which would create two very safe adjoining seats for The Greens, Batman and Melbourne. Labor and, especially, Bill Shorten have been so cynical in their behaviour over the High Court’s recent rulings there will be no sympathy for them. Instead there will be a feeling that, given the high overall vote for the party of the far left, there really should be more than one Green in a House of Representatives of 150.

If there is any other Court-ordered by-election the result will be the same as in New England and Bennelong. The voters will say to themselves “this by-election is so totally and hopelessly un-necessary as to constitute a disgrace”. In all cases the member legitimately and directly chosen by the people in July 2016 will enjoy an easy win.

In three previous articles on this website (posted on Friday, September 8, Wednesday, November 1 and Thursday, November 23) I predicted the result of the Queensland state election would be 50 for Labor, 36 for the Liberal National Party, four for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, two for Katter’s Australian Party (Hill and Traeger) and one Green member in the seat of South Brisbane. The result is 48 for Labor, 39 for the LNP, three for KAP (Hill and Traeger retained and Hinchinbrook gained from the LNP), one for PHON (Mirani, taken from Labor) and one Green, not in South Brisbane but in Maiwar.

Over the holiday break I shall do a proper analysis and that will be my first article in the New Year. In it I shall explain why I think this is a pretty good result for the LNP, contrary to the current conventional wisdom of it being otherwise. In the meantime I wish all readers and viewers of SWITZER a happy Christmas and a bright and prosperous New Year.

(Malcolm Mackerras is Honorary Fellow of Australian Catholic University. malcolm.mackerras@acu.edu.au)