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Australian federal election, 2007

Federal elections for the Parliament of Australia were held on Saturday 24 November 2007 after a 6-week campaign, in which 13.6 million Australians were enrolled to vote. All 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 seats in the 76-member Senate were contested in the election.

The opposition centre-left Australian Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd and deputy leader Julia Gillard, defeated the incumbent centre-right coalition government, led by Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister John Howard and Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile. The coalition had been in power since the 1996 election.

Results

House results

See also: State-by-state lower house results and maps
See also: Post-election pendulum
See also: Members

At 8.00pm, the first personality to call the election was former Labor leader Bob Hawke on Sky News. At 10.29pm AEST on 24 November 2007, approximately two hours after the last polls in Western Australia closed, Liberal Deputy Leader Peter Costello conceded that the Coalition had lost government. At 10.36pm, John Howard delivered a speech at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel in Sydney to concede defeat. He accepted full responsibility for the coalition's defeat. At 11.05pm, Kevin Rudd delivered his victory speech.

Labor won 83 of the 150 seats in the incoming House of Representatives. This represented a 23 seat swing to Labor. The Liberals won 55 while the Nationals won 10, with two seats retained by independents. Labor finished with a 52.70 per cent two party preferred figure, a 5.44 per cent swing from 2004. On preferences, 79.7 per cent of Green votes flowed to Labor, 60.3 per cent of Family First votes flowed to the coalition, with 62.5 per cent of Democrat votes flowing to Labor. Considering two party estimates going back to the 1949 election, the swing to Labor in 2007 is the third largest two party swing, behind Malcolm Fraser and the coalition in 1975 on 7.4 per cent, and Gough Whitlam and Labor in 1969 on 7.1 per cent. The swing is the largest since 1983, when full preference counting was introduced to create an exact two party figure, and the largest swing to occur in the absence of a recession, political or military crisis.

Western Australia went against the national trend, with the Liberals suffering only a 2.14 per cent swing against them — lower than all except Tasmania and the ACT — but yet gaining one net seat. The weaker Labor performance was attributed to the strong economy and voters' unwillingness to do anything which might risk their present prosperity — a sentiment played to by Liberal campaigning strategies — and also the behaviour of union officials Kevin Reynolds and Joe McDonald who had made headlines during the campaign.

Defeat of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Howard lost his own seat of Bennelong to Labor candidate Maxine McKew, becoming only the second sitting Prime Minister, and the third party leader, since Federation to be defeated in his own electorate. (Prime Minister Stanley Bruce and National Party leader Charles Blunt lost their seats in 1929 and 1990 respectively). Howard had held the seat since 1974, and it had been in Liberal hands ever since its creation in 1949. After much speculation, McKew finished with a primary vote of 45.33 per cent, and a two party preferred figure of 51.40 per cent, a 5.53 per cent swing from 2004. This swing is within the current boundaries; Bennelong was redistributed after the 2004 election. In his concession speech, Howard said it was "very likely" that McKew had defeated him, though he and McKew both agreed the margin was very tight. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation listed Bennelong as a Labor gain on election night, and ABC election analyst Antony Green said there was "no doubt" McKew had won. McKew did not claim victory until a week after the election; a few days earlier, Rudd named her as a parliamentary secretary (assistant minister) to be appointed on 3 December.

Three other Howard ministers were defeated — Mal Brough, Gary Nairn and Jim Lloyd.

Senate results

See also: State-by-state upper house results
See also: Members

Labor and the coalition won 18 seats each in the half-Senate election. The Greens won three seats, with independent Nick Xenophon being elected on primary votes alone. This took the 76-member Senate total to 37 coalition, 32 Labor, 5 Green, 1 Family First, and 1 independent. With a majority being 39 senators, when the new Senate met after 1 July 2008, the balance of power was shared between Xenophon, Family First's Steve Fielding and the five Greens. Xenophon, although reported as left-of-centre, indicated plans to work closely with renegade Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce. If sufficient coalition senators vote for government legislation, support from the crossbench will not be required.

Compared to the previous Senate, the Greens gained one (losing Kerry Nettle in NSW but gaining Sarah Hanson-Young in SA and Scott Ludlam in WA), a new Independent was elected (Xenophon), and Labor gained four seats. The Coalition lost two, and the Democrats lost all four of their seats.

After preferences were distributed, the Coalition had 41.5 per cent to Labor's 40.6 per cent, with the Greens on 11.7 per cent, while the fourth parties, mostly from the right, had 6.2 per cent.

The informal rate of 2.55 per cent ties with the 1993 election as the lowest informal rate in the Senate since federation. The introduction of the group voting ticket at the 1984 election saw the number of informal votes drop dramatically.

Post-election

See also: First Rudd Ministry
See also: Shadow Cabinet
See also: Current pendulum
See also: Next Australian federal election
See also: 2007 Liberal leadership election
See also: 2008 Liberal leadership election
The Labor caucus met on Thursday 29 November 2007 to confirm the First Rudd Ministry, which was sworn in on 3 December. In a departure from Labor tradition, the ministry was selected by Kevin Rudd as the Prime Minister, rather than by Caucus.

Following his loss at the election, Howard announced that he would retire immediately, and the Liberal Party began the process of nominating a new leader. The morning after the election, Peter Costello, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, and long regarded as Howard's natural successor, stated that he would not run for Liberal leadership. The day before the ballot, former Health Minister Tony Abbott withdrew from the leadership after initially indicating he would stand. The leadership ballot was held on Thursday 29 November. The previous Defence Minister Brendan Nelson and former Environmental Minister Malcolm Turnbull both stood for the leadership. Former Education Minister Julie Bishop contested the deputy leadership position, as did Andrew Robb and Christopher Pyne.

Brendan Nelson was elected leader by 45 votes to 42, and Julie Bishop was elected deputy leader. A Newspoll survey taken after the Liberal leadership change revealed a Preferred Prime Minister rating of Rudd 61 per cent to Nelson 14 per cent, with Turnbull twice as popular as Nelson. Newspoll's subsequent polling saw new Newspoll records set, at 70 per cent for the best rating for Preferred Prime Minister, to 9 per cent for the worst rating for Preferred Prime Minister, with the next poll results revealing another record of 73 to 7 per cent. A new two party preferred record was also set, at 63 to 37 per cent Labor's way.

Post-election, ALP secretary Tim Gartrell commented on pre-election campaign billboard ads featuring a picture of John Howard stating "Working families in Australia have never been better off", which looked like Liberal Party advertisements, were actually paid for by the Labor Party. Liberal leader Brendan Nelson declared that the Liberal Party had listened and learned from the Australian public and declared WorkChoices "dead".

In 2008, former ministers Peter McGauran, Alexander Downer, and Mark Vaile resigned seeking other career options, sparking Gippsland, Mayo, and Lyne by-elections. The Lyne by-election resulted in an independent being elected, reducing the total number of coalition seats to 64.

In September 2008, Malcolm Turnbull replaced Brendan Nelson in a leadership spill, and Barnaby Joyce replaced CLP Senator and Nationals deputy leader Nigel Scullion as leader of the Nationals in the Senate, and moved the party to the crossbenches. Joyce stated that his party would no longer necessarily vote with their Liberal counterparts in the upper house.

Seats changing hands

The following table indicates seats that changed hands from one party to another at this election. It compares the election results with the previous margins, taking into account the redistribution in New South Wales and Queensland. As a result, it includes the newly created electorate of Flynn, and the existing Parramatta, which was retained by Labor despite becoming a notional Liberal seat due to boundary changes. The table does not include Gwydir, which was abolished in the redistribution; Macquarie, which was reclassified from safe Liberal to marginal Labor and was subsequently won by Labor; or Calare, the seat of Independent MP Peter Andren, which was reclassified as a National seat by the redistribution and was won by the National Party.

Seat Incumbent party Incumbent member Margin Swing % New margin New member New party
Bass, Tas   Liberal Michael Ferguson 2.63 3.63 1.00 Jodie Campbell Labor  
Bennelong, NSW   Liberal John Howard 4.13 5.53 1.40 Maxine McKew Labor  
Blair, Qld   Liberal Cameron Thompson 5.69 10.17 4.48 Shayne Neumann Labor  
Bonner, Qld   Liberal Ross Vasta 0.51 5.04 4.53 Kerry Rea Labor  
Braddon, Tas   Liberal Mark Baker 1.13 2.57 1.44 Sid Sidebottom Labor  
Corangamite, Vic   Liberal Stewart McArthur 5.32 6.17 0.85 Darren Cheeseman Labor  
Cowan, WA   Labor Graham Edwards (retired) 0.78 2.49 1.71 Luke Simpkins Liberal  
Dawson, Qld   National De-Anne Kelly 9.99 13.20 3.21 James Bidgood Labor  
Deakin, Vic   Liberal Phillip Barresi 4.97 6.38 1.41 Mike Symon Labor  
Dobell, NSW   Liberal Ken Ticehurst 4.84 8.74 3.90 Craig Thomson Labor  
Eden-Monaro, NSW   Liberal Gary Nairn 3.27 6.67 3.40 Mike Kelly Labor  
Flynn, Qld   National notional - new seat 7.72 7.88 0.16 Chris Trevor Labor  
Forde, Qld   Liberal Kay Elson (retired) 11.52 14.43 2.91 Brett Raguse Labor  
Hasluck, WA   Liberal Stuart Henry 1.82 3.08 1.26 Sharryn Jackson Labor  
Kingston, SA   Liberal Kym Richardson 0.07 4.49 4.42 Amanda Rishworth Labor  
Leichhardt, Qld   Liberal Warren Entsch (retired) 10.26 14.29 4.03 Jim Turnour Labor  
Lindsay, NSW   Liberal Jackie Kelly (retired) 2.92 9.70 6.78 David Bradbury Labor  
Longman, Qld   Liberal Mal Brough 6.75 10.32 3.57 Jon Sullivan Labor  
Makin, SA   Liberal Trish Draper (retired) 0.93 8.63 7.70 Tony Zappia Labor  
Moreton, Qld   Liberal Gary Hardgrave 2.83 7.58 4.75 Graham Perrett Labor  
Page, NSW   National Ian Causley (retired) 5.47 7.83 2.36 Janelle Saffin Labor  
Parramatta, NSW   Liberal notional - Julie Owens 0.83 7.71 6.88 Julie Owens Labor  
Petrie, Qld   Liberal Teresa Gambaro 7.45 9.50 2.05 Yvette D'Ath Labor  
Robertson, NSW   Liberal Jim Lloyd 6.87 6.98 0.11 Belinda Neal Labor  
Solomon, NT   CLP David Tollner 2.81 3.00 0.19 Damian Hale Labor  
Swan, WA   Labor Kim Wilkie 0.08 0.19 0.11 Steve Irons Liberal  
Wakefield, SA   Liberal David Fawcett 0.67 7.26 6.59 Nick Champion Labor  

Key dates

  • Prorogation of 41st Parliament: 12 noon, 15 October
  • Dissolution of House of Representatives: 12 noon, 17 October
  • Issue of electoral writs: 17 October
  • Close of rolls (if not currently on roll): 8 p.m., 17 October
  • Close of rolls (if currently on roll and updating details): 8 p.m., 23 October
  • Close of nominations: 12 noon, 1 November
  • Declaration of nominations: 12 noon, 2 November
  • Polling Day: 24 November
  • Territory senators begin their terms: 24 November 2007
  • Return of writs: 21 December
  • First meeting of the 42nd Parliament: 12 February 2008
  • New state senators begin their terms: 1 July 2008

Under the provisions of the Constitution, the current House of Representatives may continue for a maximum of three years from the first meeting of the House after the previous federal election. The first meeting of the 41st Parliament after the 2004 election was on 16 November 2004, hence the parliament would have expired on 15 November 2007 had it not been dissolved earlier. There must be a minimum of 33 days and a maximum of 68 days between the dissolution of the House of Representatives and the day of the election. Prime Minister Howard opted for a 39-day campaign.

The Prime Minister of the day chooses the election date and requests the Governor-General to dissolve the House and issue the writs for the election. On 14 October, John Howard gained the agreement of the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, to dissolve the House of Representatives and hold a general election for the House and half the Senate on 24 November 2007.

During the last term of parliament before the 2007 election, the deadline for new voter enrolment was brought forward from 7 working days after the issue of the writ to the same day. When the election was announced, the writ was not issued the next day, but on the following Wednesday. This kept the roll open for three days, during which 77,000 enrolment additions were processed.

Election campaign

Week 1

John Howard announced the election at a press conference in Canberra on Sunday 14 October, after meeting the Governor-General at Government House. His theme concentrated on leadership, stating that the nation "does not need new leadership, it does not need old leadership. It needs the right leadership". He also stated that his government would strive to achieve full employment, something he argued was less likely to eventuate under Kevin Rudd. In his response, Rudd also concentrated on leadership, outlining his case for "new leadership”. He argued that the government had 'lost touch' with the electorate, and that his party was best suited to deal with challenges that lie ahead.

Polls during the week varied in terms of the scale of Labor's lead. Galaxy showed a Labor 53-47% Coalition 2PP result, with a 2% gap on primaries, while ACNielsen saw a 2% swing to the coalition, reducing Labor's lead to 54-46. Rudd dropped 5% as preferred Prime Minister. However, a Newspoll sampling 1,700 voters taken over the weekend prior to the leaders' debate saw a swing to Labor, increasing their 2PP lead to 58%, a rise of 2%. Labor's primary vote was up 3%, to 51%, with the Liberals down by 2%, to 34%. Rudd extended his lead by 2%, to 50%, with Howard down by 2%, to 37%.

On the first full day of the campaign, Howard and Costello announced a 'major restructuring of the income tax system' with tax cuts worth $35 billion over three years and a tax cut "goal" for the next five years. A few days later, Rudd released his alternative policy which supported the reform measures, however offered education and health tax rebates instead of immediate cuts to the top rate as proposed by the Liberal Party, instead favouring a slower progression for the top rate.

The Liberals slogan, "go for growth" was launched after announcing the largest tax cut in Australian history. Media and political commentators questioned the suitability of the slogan in the context of rising inflation and interest rates.

During the latter part of the week attention was drawn to the question of union influence over the ALP after the launch of the Liberal party's first campaign ads. Labor responded with commercials attacking the Liberals' campaign as 'smears'. This was disputed by John Howard. One of the Liberal Party election commercials had to be corrected after it falsely claimed Wayne Swan and Craig Emerson had previously been union officials.

Leaders' debate

A debate between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister, under the moderation of the National Press Club, was shown live on ABC TV, the Nine Network, and Sky News Australia at 7.30 p.m. on 21 October. A total of 2.4 million Australians watched the event, with Nine averaging 1.42 million, the ABC averaging 907,000, and Sky News averaging 62,000. Nine's program was the third most watched show of the night after National Bingo Night on Seven (1.56 million) and a repeat episode of Kath and Kim, also on Seven (1.48 million.) The last election debate in 2004 pulled in 1.77 million on Nine and the ABC, while in 2001, average audiences on Nine, Seven and the ABC totalled 2.44 million.

David Speers, Sky News's political editor, moderated the debate which was held in the Great Hall of Parliament House. The debate audience was 400, with the Coalition and Labor each selecting 200. Nine had a separate group of 80 purportedly 'swinging' voters (chosen by McNair Research) in its studio to control 'the Worm'. Steps were taken to ensure equal numbers so as not to taint the Worm. At one point, Peter Costello was asked to cease interjecting.

The Nine Network, which broadcast the debate as an extended edition of 60 Minutes, attracted controversy for using the Worm in its broadcast despite prior objections from the Liberal Party and action from the National Press Club to cease its video feed. As a result, the Nine Network's feed was cut part of the way into the broadcast, which it replaced with Sky News's coverage. The Nine television network's live audience, via the Worm's average, scored the debate 65 to 29 in Rudd's favour, with 6 per cent remaining undecided. Both sides, however, claimed victory.

Kevin Rudd used part of the debate to argue that the Liberal Party was being influenced by the H. R. Nicholls Society to make further reforms to industrial relations, citing Nick Minchin's attendance to last year's H. R. Nicholls Society conference, where he told the audience that the coalition "knew its reform to WorkChoices were not popular but the process of change must continue", and that "there is still a long way to go... awards, the IR commission, all the rest of it... Countering the Liberal Party message that 70 per cent of Labor's front bench is made up of former union officials, Rudd stated that 70 per cent of Liberal Party ministers were either lawyers or former Liberal Party staffers. On the same day, Peter Costello was tripped up by ABC's Insiders, admitting that the 70 per cent figure was in reference to union members rather than union officials.

Week 2

Inflation figures were released on Tuesday, showing stronger than expected underlying inflation of 3 per cent, a key indicator for the Reserve Bank. In arguing that there was no case for an increase in interest rates, Treasurer Peter Costello described underlying inflation as one of several "technical measures", and that the overall annual headline CPI increase of 1.9 per cent showed that the economy was running smoothly. However, some economists criticised this outlook for glossing over the underlying inflation figures.

Controversy arose over the Coalition's climate change policy, with The Financial Review citing "government sources" who claimed Turnbull told Cabinet six weeks ago it should sign the Kyoto Protocol. Neither Howard nor Turnbull denied the story. The story said that "internal critics" are claiming Turnbull is "selfishly positioning himself for a Coalition defeat" and a "possible post-poll leadership battle with Treasurer Peter Costello". The story led to claims of major splits in Cabinet.

Labor also suffered from mixed messages. Kevin Rudd was compelled to clarify Labor policy on climate change after an interview in which Peter Garrett suggested Labor would sign up to the post-Kyoto agreement at 2012 even if carbon-emitting developing countries did not. Rudd's comments, which he described as having "always been [Labor's] position", saw Labor's policy move closer to Liberal policy, insofar as Labor would ratify the agreement only after persuading all major carbon emitters, developing and developed, to ratify. Rudd also committed Labor to a target of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, a 5 per cent increase on the Liberal target, assisted by the use of renewable energy, but without the use of clean coal, arguing that it would ultimately be a benefit, not a detriment to the economy.

Week 3

Debate on climate change policy continued, with John Howard stating the Coalition would not match the Labor's promise of 20 per cent renewable energy target. Howard claimed Labor's policy "imposes too many additional costs to industry". Peter Garrett replied that lack of government action has cost jobs. It was also reported that a recommendation by Howard's Environment Minister in 2005 for higher renewable energy targets, on the basis that 15 per cent was insufficient, was rejected at the time. Howard declined to confirm or deny this.

The Coalition announced a promise to open 50 new emergency medical centres around Australia if re-elected. Adding to the campaign trend of both major parties criticising their opponent for plagiarism and "me-tooism", Labor responded that the government had copied its policy.

Peter Garrett drew criticism from the Coalition when radio announcer Steve Price, revealed Garrett said, in conversation with a third party, "once we get in we'll just change it all" in reference to copying Coalition policies. Garrett acknowledged making the comment during a "short, jocular and casual" conversation. The third party to the conversation, Richard Wilkins, supported Garrett's view, saying that it was a "light-hearted throwaway line".

Tim Costello, director of World Vision Australia and Peter Costello's brother, criticised Australia's overseas aid ranking at 19th of 22 OECD countries and government unwillingness to match Labor's commitment of overseas aid of 0.5 per cent of national GDP. Howard said his party planned to lift the rate to 3.5 per cent, despite the Coalition's policy of 0.35 per cent.

Commentators pronounced Peter Costello and Wayne Swan's debate on 30 October as ending in a draw. Costello focused mainly on the government's past record, advocating the need for Australia to build into the future, while Swan said Labor were interested in "investing in people". Howard said he believed Costello "creamed" his opponent, while Rudd said Swan did a "fantastic job".

Liberal Tony Abbott and Labor's Nicola Roxon publicly debated health at the National Press Club on ABC television. Abbott's character and ministerial capacity were questioned by Roxon for insulting dying asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton and arriving 35 minutes late to debate. At the end of the debate, Abbott's swearing at Ms Roxon drew attention when she claimed he "could have arrived on time" if he had "really wanted to", a comment which Abbott described as "bullshit". Former Liberal campaign strategist Sue Cato stated "you just don't run late for things like that". Abbott did apologise to Mr Banton but refused to apologise to Ms Roxon.

Week 4

On 10 November, the Australian Democrats held their campaign launch in Melbourne.

In an election campaign first, the Reserve Bank of Australia adjusted the interest rate upwards by another 0.25 per cent, the sixth rise since the last election, to a 10-year high of 6.75 per cent. The Coalition used the figures to argue that that only the current government had the proper experienced team to manage the economy in future, less prosperous years. Costello argued that the inflationary reasons for the rate rise were "outside the control of a Government". In response, Labor accused the Coalition of having "hauled up the white flag in the fight against inflation", saying that they had backflipped from their past statements that they could keep interest rates low. Howard stated that he was sorry for the negative consequences for and burden on Australian borrowers, but subsequently denied that this constituted an apology for the rate rise itself.

On 7 November, Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey and Labor's Julia Gillard debated industrial relations including WorkChoices at the National Press Club in Canberra. After an interest rate rise of 0.25 per cent earlier in the morning Hockey argued that Labor's policy to scrap Workchoices was the Australia's biggest threat to inflation. On 8 November, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition spokesman Peter Garrett debated environment issues at the National Press Club in Canberra. Garrett attacked the government's record on climate change to which Turnbull retaliated that Garrett's current claims betray his previous career as a political activist.

Week 5

Both major party election campaign official launches took place in Brisbane, Queensland, with the Liberal Party on Monday 12 November and the Labor Party on Wednesday 14 November.

The coalition pledged a rebate for education costs, including private school fees, of all Australian children, totalling $9.4 billion. Primary school students will be eligible for $400 whilst secondary school students will be eligible for $800. Also offered were tax breaks worth $1.6 billion over four years in attempts to encourage people to save for first homes, $652 million for child care, and $158 million to support carers.

The Labor Party committed to a quarter of the $9.4 billion spending in an attempt to keep inflation down, accusing the Howard government of being "irresponsible". Rudd committed Labor to an additional 65,000 apprenticeships, all schools to be migrated to new high speed broadband, and all year 9-12 students to have access to their own computer, in addition to previous education reimbursement funding announcements. Also announced were a doubling of the number of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships available at a tertiary level, as well as re-iterating the party's view on climate change and WorkChoices.

The Labor Party released footage on Thursday 15 November to Lateline, showing amateur civilian footage of Tony Abbott addressing a room of people, stating "I accept that certain protections, in inverted commas, are not what they were" in reference to the contentious WorkChoices legislation. In reference to award structures, Abbott went on to say "I accept that that has largely gone. I accept that." Abbott stands by the comments that WorkChoices means "certain protections" are not what they used to be, but at the same time denied ever conceding workers had lost protections, and denounced the video released by Labor as a "cut-and-paste job".

A report by the National Audit Office found that the coalition had been interfering in the $328 million regional grants program, with a bias toward their marginal seats, where projects under the Regional Partnerships Program were apparently approved without proper assessment, or none at all, and that there was a surge of approvals prior to the 2004 election.

Week 6

With Newspoll revealing Labor's 2PP vote down one to 54 per cent, former Liberal Party campaign director Lynton Crosby said that the coalition was "closing in on Labor" in the final week and could "still win a tight election" on a campaign of defending marginal seats, declaring a win still possible on 48.5 per cent of the 2PP vote.

On 20 November, John Howard was forced to defend the federal government's substantial advertising spending in the months prior to the campaign, paid for with public money. Such advertising, covering topics including the controversial "Workchoices", cost some $360 million in less than 18 months. An article in the 20 November issue of the Herald Sun suggested that spending could have been even greater, up to $500 million, though this took a broader view of what was included in that sum. Mr Howard also came under fire for hiding documents written by his department about possible further amendments to the government's WorkChoices legislation. The Seven Network had attempted to obtain the documents under Freedom of Information but were denied access. A key issue in the 2007 election is the possibility of WorkChoices being expanded, a possibility that the Coalition denied. Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce stated that the possibility of him crossing the floor to support Labor's amendments to WorkChoices remained open, stating he would judge all legislation on its merits, before he was lambasted by Nationals leader Mark Vaile.

On 21 November, three days before the election, in what became known as the Lindsay pamphlet scandal, five people were caught in the electorate of Lindsay distributing fake pamphlets purporting to be from a nonexistent Islamic group, thanking the Labor Party for supporting the Bali bombers and encouraging people to vote for Labor. They included a member of the Liberals' state executive, Jeff Egan; Gary Clark, husband of retiring MP Jackie Kelly; and Greg Chijoff, the husband of Lindsay candidate Karen Chijoff. Kelly tried to dismiss the incident as a "Chaser-style prank but John Howard condemned the statement. Egan and Greg Chijoff were immediately expelled from the Liberal Party a day before John Howard's address to the Australian Press Club; nevertheless, Egan denied any wrongdoing. Court cases are progressing.

Government frontbencher Andrew Robb announced that up to 13 Labor candidates standing in the election may be ineligible for nomination, citing a clause of the Constitution which states that parliamentarians are not permitted to hold an "office of profit under the crown". Robb claimed that a "search of public records" indicated that the 13 candidates may have still been employed by government agencies, boards or offices, and that the Liberal Party may consider legal challenges to their election. Labor Senator Penny Wong dismissed the claims, asserting that all Labor's candidates were eligible to stand, and that the Liberals had obtained the information from outdated websites.

Election day was Saturday 24 November.

Television coverage

Election night was covered extensively, mostly commercial-free, by three of the Australian free-to-air networks: ABC Television, the Nine Network and the Seven Network. Network Ten and SBS Television included brief updates and news bulletins through the night, but not to the other networks' extent. Sky News offered extensive coverage on Pay TV.

Pre-election issues

Roy Morgan polling in June 2007 revealed WorkChoices as the biggest reason behind the Labor vote, with a fear of union dominance and support for coalition economic management policy as the biggest reasons behind the coalition vote. Attempts by the Liberal Party to have business groups fund advertisements to counter anti-WorkChoices advertisements suggested that industrial relations would be a key battleground at the 2007 election. The share of voters concerned about industrial relations grew from 31 per cent to 53 per cent in the two years to June 2006, with around three fifths of voters backing Labor's ability to handle the issue over the Liberal Party.

A Newspoll released in June 2006 identified health and Medicare as the most important issue for voters, with 83 per cent of respondents rating it "very important". Other key issues included education (79 per cent), the economy (67 per cent), the environment (60 per cent) and national security (60 per cent). Taxation and interest rates, key issues in previous campaigns, were rated very important by 54 per cent and 51 per cent respectively. Immigration, a key issue in 2001, scored 43 per cent. The poll showed that voters considered Labor better-placed to handle health and education, albeit by a small margin, but gave the government strong backing on the economy and national security.

Climate change and water management were prominent environmental issues during the campaign. Kevin Rudd committed Labor to introducing a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 60 per cent by 2050, ratifying the Kyoto protocol and introducing a mandatory renewable energy target (MRET) of 20 per cent by 2020. In contrast, the Howard government stuck to their position of not ratifying the Kyoto protocol, setting "voluntary aspirational emission reduction targets" and introducing a carbon emissions trading scheme by 2012.

Labor's pledge to spearhead construction of a $4.7 billion fibre-to-the-node broadband network suggested that infrastructure would also figure prominently on the campaign trail.

On 7 June in a speech promoting the government's handling of the economy, Treasurer Peter Costello recalled the Ac.liberalad.jpg of the 2004 election: "This [the economy] is like a highly engineered racing car and I tell you what, I wouldn't be putting an L-plate driver in the cockpit at the moment". August 2007 saw, for the first time during an election campaign, a 0.25 per cent interest rate rise to 6.5 per cent by the Reserve Bank, the sixth rise since the last election in 2004. Labor used the news to argue that the Coalition could not be trusted to keep interest rates low, while Costello argued that interest rates would be higher under Labor. Inflation figures released on 24 October indicated underlying inflation was higher than expected, which resulted in seven of eight financial companies believing there will be an interest rate rise when the reserve bank met in the middle of November, the first during an election campaign.

Rudd advocated four-year fixed terms for federal parliaments if elected. Howard supported four-year terms but opposed fixed election dates. Any change would require approval by referendum. Another referendum was suggested by John Howard on the eve of the election campaign, in order to include a statement of reconciliation to be included in the preamble of the constitution.

Polling

Roy Morgan, Newspoll, ACNeilsen and Galaxy timegraph polling showed Labor leading the coalition in overall opinion polling from mid-2006 onward. Labor also led on several key questions. Labor consolidated its lead after Rudd assumed the Labor leadership from Kim Beazley, at which point Rudd also assumed the lead on the question of preferred Prime Minister--an unusual feat for an Opposition leader. Even with Labor ahead in opinion polling, Howard led Beazley on this question by a wide margin.

According to Australian political analyst Adam Carr, the public turned against Howard largely because of WorkChoices. The new industrial relations program, Carr said, angered the "Howard battlers"--the traditional Labor voters who had supported Howard for most of the last 11 years--because they saw it as a direct attack on their livelihood.

ACNielsen polling in March 2007 had Rudd's personal approval rating at 67 per cent, which made him the most popular opposition leader in the poll's 35-year history, with Newspoll (News Limited) 2PP polling the highest in its history. The largest 2PP election result for the ALP in its history was at the 1943 election on an estimate of 58.2 per cent.

A weighted collaboration of all polling since Rudd assumed the ALP leadership shows an average Labor 2PP figure of 57 per cent compared with the coalition's 43 per cent, and Rudd's consistent outpolling of Howard as preferred Prime Minister, something not achieved under previous leaders Mark Latham, Kim Beazley or Simon Crean.

By the time the writs were issued, the Coalition was well behind Labor in opinion polling, which showed Labor winning government "in a canter," as Antony Green put it. According to Green, this was a nearly exact reversal of the run-up to the 1996 election. The Coalition was running ahead of Labor in two-party opinion polling for much of 1995 and 1996, with the mantle of preferred Prime Minister regularly switching between Howard and Paul Keating.

Possums Pollytics, an anonymous weblog, stated that due to the uneven nature of the swings, where safe Liberal seats were swinging up to 14.6 per cent with safe Labor seats swinging around only 4.1 per cent, the Labor party stood to potentially end up with a maximum of 106 of the 150 lower house seats.

Polling consistently showed that the economy and national security were the Coalition's strong areas. In August 2007 an Ipsos poll showed 39 per cent of voters thought Labor was a better economic manager, compared to 36 per cent for the coalition, with 25 per cent undecided.

The morning of the election announcement, a special Sun-Herald Taverner survey of 979 people across New South Wales and Victoria had been released, indicating a Labor 2PP of 59 per cent, with the 18-29 year old category voting at 72 per cent. The fortnightly Newspoll was released the day after the election was called, showing the 2PP remaining steady at Labor 56-44 Liberal. Howard increased his Preferred PM rating up one per cent to 39 per cent, while Rudd increased his rating up one per cent to 48 per cent. On the day after the election was called, Centrebet had odds of 1.47 on Labor, with 2.70 on the coalition. Half way through the campaign, with no overall change in the polls, saw Centrebet odds for Labor shorten to 1.29, with the Liberals on 3.60. Centrebet odds two days out from the election were at 1.22 for Labor, with 4.35 for the coalition.

Newspoll a week out from the election of 3,600 voters in 18 of the coalition's most marginal seats revealed an ALP 54-46 coalition 2PP, a swing to Labor of 6-9 per cent. A uniform swing would see 18-25 seats fall to Labor, The Australian said.

Former Labor number-cruncher Graham Richardson, who news.com.au (News Limited) claims to have correctly picked the winner of every election for the past three decades, tipped Kevin Rudd and Labor to win with a 6-7 per cent two party preferred, 20 seat swing.

Peter Day, a journalist (ex-The Australian), stated two days before the election that, if the coalition were re-elected, it would be "the biggest polling embarrassment in any developed country since Truman beat Dewey in 1948".

The election-eve Newspoll and Galaxy poll reported the ALP on a 2PP of 52 per cent, Roy Morgan on 54.5 per cent, with ACNielsen on 57 per cent. Seven News reported that TAB had updated their odds for the election, with Labor having safe odds of $1.20 and the Coalition an outside chance on $4.60.

Sky News-Channel 7-Auspoll exit polls on election day of 2,787 voters in the 31 most marginal seats suggested a 53 per cent two-party preferred figure to Labor, 53 per cent to Labor in Bennelong, and 58 per cent to Labor in Eden-Monaro. Key issue questions swung Labor's way.

Candidates and seats

See Australian federal election, 2007/Candidates and Seats

See also

References

External links

Official

Media

Unofficial Sites

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