The ACT Election 2012

Elections Australia Australian Capital Territory
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The 2012 ACT Election held on October 20 was in many ways a mirror image of the previous election in 2008. In 2012 the ALP received a small swing to it after suffering a large swing against it in 2008. The Liberals achieved a large swing to them after a small adverse swing in 2008. The Greens lost most of what they gained in 2008. As a result the Liberals obtained 8 (+2) seats, the ALP 8 (+1) and the Greens 1 (-3).

After negotiations the Greens again formed an alliance with the ALP to form a Government; however, this time the one Green member (Shane Rattenbury) become a Minister in the ACT Government.

Election context

  •  The agreement between the ALP and Greens delivered stable and cohesive government for the past four years
  •  The ALP changed its leader (and Chief Minister) to Katy Gallagher from Jon Stanhope in May 2011, Jon Stanhope had been leader since 1998 and Chief Minister from 2001
  •  The Liberals enjoyed a greater level of unity and sense of purpose compared with the period between 2004 and 2008
  •  Manipulation of key performance indicator data by ACT health was a problem for Labor and misuse of public funds for political purposes dogged a couple of Liberal MLAs
  •  The Liberals used prospective rate increases as their main negative issue and Labor sought to scare voters with job cuts similar to those inflicted by newly elected Liberal Governments in New South Wales and Queensland
  •  Two new political parties were formed to contest the election (Bullet Train for Canberra) and (Marion Le Social Justice Party)
  •  A number of parties from previous elections appear to have faded away (Democrats), (Community Alliance), Richard Mulcahy Canberra Party) and Pangello Independents
  •  There was a mild “It’s Time” factor as Labor had been in office for 11 years. The Allan Jones saga re comments on the death of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father were reverberating around the nation


The electoral system used since 1995 is a variant of proportional representation known as Hare-Clark, candidates names on the ballot paper appear in party or independent groups but the names within those groups are randomly rotated for each ballot paper by a method known as Robson Rotation; a system devised and used in Tasmania.

The ACT is divided into three electorates Ginninderra (covering Belconnen and part of Gungahlin) Brindabella (covering Tuggeranong and parts of Woden) and Molonglo (covering Gungahlin, North Canberra, South Canberra, Woden and Weston Creek). The first two have five members and the latter seven.

There had been a redistribution since the last election to accommodate population changes, The suburb of Palmerston, in Gungahlin, was moved into Ginninderra from Molonglo. On the basis of past results this would slightly weaken Ginninderra for the Greens and Labor.

The main features of the election were:

  •  Both major parties enjoyed a swing to them, an unusual occurrence in Australian politics
  •  The swing to the Liberals was quite large (7.3 per cent) but lower than average (9.0 per cent), (see Table 3 below)
  •  The swing to the ALP was small (1.5 per cent) but was the first swing to an ALP State/Territory Government since March 2006 when the ALP received an 8.9 per cent swing in the South Australian election
  •  The Greens suffered a major adverse swing but their proportion of the vote was still higher than the average Green vote from 1995 to 2012
  •  The Australian Motorist Party failed to make any gains except in Ginninderra where their candidate was Chic Henry, the high profile former organiser of the Summernats car festival
  •  A single issue party based on providing a high speed train service between Canberra and other capitals (Bullet train for Canberra) received 4.0 per cent of the votes
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