The election result – what does it mean for placemaking?

Kim Johnstone and Liam Walsh
May 27, 2019

A key tenet of any planning and decision-making about the future is that it must be evidence-based. The Federal election held on 18 May 2019 delivered a result widely reported as surprising.  But for those of us involved in planning, what the election gives us is a nation-wide evidence base of political views from people based on where they live. 

As we’ve been looking at the analysis of why the Coalition won the 2019 election, the question we’ve been asking ourselves is how much do those involved in planning and place-making think about these results?

This week, the Guardian reported some interesting correlates of election results. They showed that electorates that swung harder to the Liberal and National parties are more likely to have higher unemployment, lower income, lower levels of education and fewer migrants. But when we started looking at results by polling booths, the differences across each electorate became more nuanced.

We ran an initial analysis of the two highly marginal seats of Lindsay, in Western Sydney and Gilmore on the south coast of NSW. Lindsay saw a swing to the Coalition and the Liberals won the seat from Labor, whereas in Gilmore, Labor won, with the seat having been held by the Coalition since the electorate was formed except for one other term.

Simply mapping two-party preferred results by polling booth  for Lindsay shows a clear corridor of Labor wins through the middle of the electorate. Despite these wins, however, there were swings to the Coalition at all but one of the booths. This electorate sits just north of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, set to transform this part of the City. Undoubtedly, the increasing urbanisation that will take place over the next 25 years will see future changes to the voting patterns in this region.

Lindsay two party preferred by polling place
Lindsay two party preferred by polling place
Lindsay two party preferred swing by polling place
Lindsay two party preferred swing by polling place

We can also see that Gilmore is largely a coastal suburban electorate, rather than a mixed rural and coastal seat as some of the nearby north coast seats are. While not shown here, our analysis showed that swings to Labor in Gilmore were more likely at the larger booths.

Gilmore two party preferred by polling place
Gilmore two party preferred by polling place
Gilmore two party preferred swing by polling place
Gilmore two party preferred swing by polling place

These results show that people and place are important for understanding change. Each election gives us a national snapshot of sentiment across Australia. Future analysis of results and demographic data may strengthen the insights that can inform the evidence base to help with planning and place-making.

This article is the first in a series where we will analyse the results in this way.

Kim and Liam work together to ensure place-making is based on evidence to deliver better outcomes for the people who live, work and play there. Their strength is using spatial data to visualise key patterns and applying demographic data to understand what is driving those patterns.

Liam is Director at Sustainable East, a company focusing on the nexus between land use planning, infrastructure, transport and environment.



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