ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE SPECTATOR AUSTRALIA
Last weekend’s ACT election results have again revealed how out of touch our nation’s capital city is with mainstream Australians. While it is tempting to write off the ACT Legislative Assembly as little more than a glorified city council, ACT elections are one of the clearest indicators of elite opinion that we have – and the results are alarming.
ACT Labor will continue to govern, as it has done since 2001, but the big winners were the Greens, who have more than doubled there representation. The 25 seat ACT Assembly will have ten Labor members (down from 12), nine Liberals (down from 11), and six Greens (up from two). The Greens already have a seat in cabinet, in exchange for propping up the minority Labor government, and will now be even more influential. The radical Greens are a party of government in the ACT.
Overall, the ACT electorate is markedly out of step with the country. Labor, the Greens, and minor left-wing parties received more than 58 per cent of the first preference vote – a tally even exceeding the left’s primary lower house vote in Victoria’s landslide 2018 election (approximately 56 per cent).
Of course, this pattern diverges wildly from that seen in more conservative states. At the 2019 New South Wales election, left-wing parties received only 44 per cent of the first preference vote (in the lower house), and at the 2017 Queensland election, the figure was 45 per cent.
Many Canberrans are transplants who have moved to the city to work in the federal bureaucracy, so the political differences are quite striking. Canberra, it seems, both attracts a certain type of person and instils in people a certain set of beliefs and attitudes. These sorting mechanisms have gradually separated the capital from the country over which it rules, encasing it in a bubble of ideology.