By-elections review: What does it mean?

Over the weekend five by-elections were held, despite ongoing uncertainty in the polls leading up to the by-elections, the results saw little change, with Labor retaining all four previously held seats and Rebekha Sharkie from Centre Alliance retaining the South Australian seat of Mayo.

Given how close the polls were in both Queensland and Tasmania it was expected the Coalition Government could pick up one or potentially two seats, however, the result has already raised questions around the Coalition strategy that focuses on delivering company tax cut. Particularly in Longman and more broadly in Queensland, Labor’s messaging around ‘Big Business versus Battlers’ and capitalising on the negative sentiment towards the banks appear to have cut through.

Queensland is where the next Federal Election will be won and lost. Labor saw a 4 percent swing towards it in Longman, if replicated at the next Federal Election the Coalition would lose neighbouring electorates of Petrie (margin of 1.6%) and high-profile Dickson (held by Peter Dutton on the same margin), as well as Flynn (1%), Forde (0.6%) and Capricornia (0.6%).

The lesson for the Coalition is despite Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party preferencing the LNP ahead of Labor almost 50 percent of those votes came back to Labor. In Longman the One Nation vote increase from 9 percent in 2016 to 15 percent. This support came from a collapse in the LNP primary vote, down 10 percent from 2016. This will have to be of serious concern to the Coalition Government. They are faced with a double blow of its primary vote being eaten by One Nation and can’t rely on those votes flowing back to them in preferences, unlike Labor does with the Greens.

The by-election results have solidified Bill Shorten in his role as Opposition Leader and Leader of the Labor Party, and reaffirm the Labor Party’s messaging about putting health, education and pensioners before big business.

Across four States and five seats, nearly 400,000 people voted, by any standards that’s a significant poll for the political class to examine with plenty of insights into the outcome of the 2019 Federal Election.