The Greens got a very positive result in the by-election held today for the Brisbane City Council ward of Walter Taylor. The Greens candidate, Tim Dangerfield, came in second with 23.5 per cent of the vote, with Labor at 16.8 per cent and the Liberal Nationals on 57.1 per cent. The Greens outpolled Labor in every booth (apart from a tie at the Kenmore South booth), with their best result being 30.4 per cent at Taringa booth.
This is an increase for The Greens of around 8.5 per cent from the 2008 result, while Labor’s vote is down about 4.5 per cent and the Liberal’s primary vote is down about 6.5 per cent. (Note: These figures are from polling day only – postal and pre-poll votes still have to be added to the count, so the final figures may vary. The turnout thus far is, not unexpectedly, quite low at under 58% – it will probably end up around 65%).
Walter Taylor is in Brisbane’s western suburbs on the northside of the river, and is very strong Liberal territory. The by-election was held because the sitting member, Jane Prentice, was elected to the seat of Ryan at the recent federal election. She gained 71% of the two party preferred vote at the City Council general election in 2008.
The two party preferred figure for this by-election isn’t available yet, as the Electoral Commission had assumed Labor would come in second, rather than the Greens, so their indicative preference count on election night will have to be redone. With our optional preferential voting system, it is hard to guess the exhaust rate (Labor’s how to vote card explicitly preferenced the Greens), which makes it harder still to guess the likely final two party preferred figure.
I handed out how to votes for about four hours at the Ironside booth. Former Labor Lord Mayor Jim Soorley was there doing the same, and local LNP state member Scott Emerson spent some time there, as did Jane Prentice and Labor’s Deputy Opposition Leader in the Council, Milton Dick. It was much quieter than the federal election, and many times there were more people handing out how to votes for the three parties than there were voters.
This isn’t the highest percentage of the primary vote the Greens have achieved in Brisbane City Council elections, but it might be the first time the party has outpolled one of the two major parties in a Council seat – I can’t recall any other, but I can only find results going back to 2004, so I may be wrong.
As a piece of historical trivia, the first time I ever ran as a candidate was in the Brisbane City Council elections of 1991 (when Jim Soorley unexpectedly beat Liberal incumbent Sallyanne Atkinson). This was as a Democrat candidate, but as part of a wider group of candidates called the Green Alliance. The Council ward I ran in was Taringa. This ward no longer exists, but a fair part of the area it covered now sits within Walter Taylor (including – not surprisingly – the suburb of Taringa). It was a strong Liberal seat back then too, and from memory I polled around 18% primary vote.