Pardon me that I should say this myself, but I have made a pretty good collection of Australian election predictions since I became the Politics Expert for Switzer. Consequently I am emboldened to make another collection for the Super Saturday of by-elections on July 28. However, before I do that I wish to make a pair of two-way classifications of these by-elections. 

The more important classification is between the normal by-election in Perth (WA) and the highly unusual collection of by-elections for Longman (Queensland), Braddon (Tasmania), Mayo (SA) and Fremantle (WA). Those four have the unusual distinction that the sitting member is seeking re-election. The less important classification is between those contested by the Liberal Party (Longman, Braddon and Mayo) and those where the contest is effectively between Labor and The Greens. 

My prediction is that Patrick Gorman (Labor) will win Perth and the other four will follow the pattern of New England and Bennelong in that the sitting member will be re-elected. However, before I stick my neck out too much, I make a probability statement by way of clarification. 

I give the Liberal Party a 40% chance in Mayo, a 30% chance in Braddon and a 20% chance in Longman. I give The Greens a 10% chance in Fremantle and a 5% chance in Perth. 

Readers may be surprised that I should rate Braddon a better chance for the Liberal candidate than Longman. My explanation is simple: on the most recent state election vote Braddon is solid for the Liberal Party while Longman is solid for Labor. 

How one reads these results depends on what one thinks these contests are about. To me, the voting public will answer this question – and voters will see themselves as answering that question: did the judges of the High Court judge fairly the sitting members who have been forced to contest totally and hopelessly un-necessary by-elections? 

To me the answer to that question lies firmly in the negative, and I have history on my side. In all of the cases of Wills in March 1993, Lindsay in October 1996 and New England and Bennelong in December last year the sitting member has stormed back to another easy victory. 

If I am right then we shall have eight cases of the same phenomenon. Ordinary people do not react favourably to the highly-paid Pharisees meanly laying down the law from the grandiose and ugly High Court building in Canberra. Opinion polls may say otherwise, but when it comes to the point, that is what happens when voters give any serious thought to this question. It happened spectacularly in Bennelong. Even on polling day itself opinion-poll-induced pundits proclaimed it “too close to call”. I knew otherwise: John Alexander was always going to win easily. 

In all of this business I have one regret. Georgina Downer is an impressive young woman. She would make a fine addition to the federal parliamentary Liberal Party. I hope that one day she will become a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. However, the odds are against her election on July 28. I would not vote for her in this circumstance. For exactly the same reasoning as I would have voted for Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander, I would feel compelled to vote for Rebekha Sharkie – and all of the sitting members in the eight cases so far discussed. 

In fact I do believe that something sublime will come out of this ridiculous situation. It will discourage vexatious litigation.

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