The Super Saturday of five federal by-elections produced results which were wholly predictable.

During the eleven-week campaign I would often be asked for my predictions and I would always loudly reply that “all four sitting members will be re-elected.”

Of course, technically Susan Lamb was not the sitting member for Longman. Nor were the others in Braddon, Mayo and Fremantle. During a general election they would be called “sitting members” and keep their offices (both local and at Parliament House) until defeated.

These members were, by contrast, kicked out of their offices which excited my sympathy for them, just as I was sympathetic to Phil Cleary in 1993, Jackie Kelly in 1996 and Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander late last year. As a matter of democratic principle I would have voted for all eight members of the House of Representatives and am glad they were all easily re-elected, once in Cleary’s case and four times in Kelly’s case.

Equivalent senators were not so lucky. I have compiled a list of eleven senators who were kicked out of their offices with dim chances of getting back into them. A further two (Heather Hill, One Nation, Queensland, in 1999, and Hollie Hughes (Liberal, New South Wales, in 2017) were never allowed even to serve a single day of the term to which they had been elected.

A benefit conferred upon us by these eight registrations of the will of the people is that the apologists for the High Court may tone down the decibels of their propaganda. In any event I am entitled to assert that the people have spoken. They have agreed with me that the entire blame for the citizenship fiasco should be placed at the door of the grandiose and ugly High Court building by Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

In my article posted on Thursday May 31, titled “Who will win the Super Saturday by-elections?” I wrote this: “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.” I then gave the Liberal Party a 30% chance in Braddon and a 20% chance in Longman. That was followed by this paragraph:

“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.”

On Saturday night Lamb displayed a broader smile than Justine Keay – and well she might. Her party has given her a much better seat than was given to Keay. However, I think Keay deserves more hearty congratulations than Lamb who merely repeated the state vote federally. By contrast Keay raised the state vote substantially in a genuine rural seat. She is now one of the very few Labor members to hold a rural seat!

Super Saturday forcefully demonstrated Labor’s superior political skills. They are brilliant at expectation management. Anyone who knows anything about these seats knows that the seat now named “Fisher” is the seat Mal Brough once held as “Longman”. That is why Brough won Longman in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004 but, after his defeat in 2007 in Longman (by then a much weakened Liberal seat, due to successive boundary changes), returned as the member for Fisher in 2013. He won the same seat five times but with a different name. The seat now known as “Longman” is a natural Labor seat created, in effect, at the redistribution of Queensland federal electoral divisions in 2006.

Nevertheless, Labor spokespeopple were able to persuade ignorant commentators that they were terrified of losing Longman but were quietly hopeful of winning Braddon. They knew all along that Braddon was the more likely loss.

Looking back over my articles I notice that one was posted on Thursday January 25 titled “Who’s to blame for the citizenship scandal?” It contained this paragraph: “My strong advice to the federal Coalition is not to pursue by-elections in the Labor-held seats they presently contemplate asking the High Court to cause, Braddon (Tasmania), Fremantle (Western Australia) and Longman (Queensland). If by-elections were to occur it would do the Liberal Party no good whatsoever for the same reason that by-elections in New England and Bennelong did Labor no good whatsoever.”

So what do I think about the overall situation? I explained it in my article posted on Thursday April 19 titled “The race for Australia’s PM is becoming clearer.” It concluded with this paragraph: “The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency in November 2016 left egg on the face of virtually every pundit. It has made me more cautious about Australia also. Consequently, I shall predict our election date and make a probability statement about the result. My prediction is that the date will be Saturday 18 May 2019. Consequently, we shall know the name of the prime minister by July next year. My assessment is that there are three chances bill Shorten will be that prime minister for every one chance it will be Malcolm Turnbull.”

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