ABC election watcher Antony Green has called the 2019 federal election for the Labor Party.
Acknowledging what is believed to be the earliest declaration of an election result by any political commentator in the world, Mr Green said he was confident of his call – made about 7.10pm AEDT last night at the ABC’s election studios in Sydney – despite 0% of votes having been counted by then.
“I have extrapolated the 0% of votes so far and run them through my computer model using preference flows from the recent Wentworth by-election and the earlier five by-elections in July,” he told viewers of ABC TV’s 2019 election broadcast live from Canberra.
“Even allowing for the zero votes cast and counted at this stage, I am confident enough to say Bill Shorten is Australia’s next Prime Minister. While at this stage I expect Mr Shorten to form government, the extent of his victory is unclear.”
Political commentators agreed that Mr Green’s call at the ABC’s Melbourne studios at Southbank was indeed a brave one, considering his early declaration of a Kerryn Phelps victory in Wentworth on October 20 almost went horribly wrong as postal and pre-poll votes rapidly eroded her 54-46 two-party-preferred margin after booth votes had been tallied on the day.
But last night, Mr Green had clearly regained his confidence and psephologistic mojo. He said: “On the results or lack of them so far, there are a number of interesting tussles including the seat of Warringah in Sydney where former prime minister Tony Abbott looks like he could be in trouble.
“But I won’t be able to say much more on that until more votes come in from key booths.
“With 0% of votes counted Warringah is really too close to call. I’ll need at least twice that amount to make a prediction with any confidence about Mr Abbott’s fate,” Mr Green said.
Panel guests Julie Bishop and Mark Dreyfus traded insults and pushed their respective party lines but in the long gaps between vote updates, they clearly becoming more frustrated and strident in their language as the night unfolded and votes continued not coming in from the 151 electorates nationwide.
The ABC has already copped criticism or its decision to start coverage of the 2019 election so early with Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz saying the early start would destabilise the Morrison Government. He called for the national broadcaster to be shut down, sold, or massively restructured.
“It is now so infected by leftie group-think that the only recourse is its total annihilation or a clean-out of staff from top to bottom,” Senator Abetz said. “I will be recommending to Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the government sacks the ABC board and all management personnel and replaces them with experts who have media experience but who are also genuinely independent.
“I believe Mr Rupert Murdoch would make a good ABC chair and independent thinkers like Paul Murray, Andrew Bolt, and Miranda Devine would make solid directors if not CEOs.”
But the ABC’s election night panel host Leigh Sales defended the national broadcaster’s decision to hold its federal election night coverage early.
“The ABC has always led the way with election-night coverage and we see our early start for the 2019 poll as further evidence of that,” Ms Sales said.
The ABC coverage so far out from the actual election day — still not set by Mr Morrison — prompted Channel 9 to begin its own election coverage last night.
Nine’s national director of news Jim Makeup told The Bug from Sydney: “I was on a national video linkup to all my news departments around Australia and I couldn’t help myself. Frankly I was livid. Screaming at the top of my lungs, I berated the journos, the technical floor staff, anyone in sight really – the tea lady, the office secretaries, anyone who came into vision – for their professional incompetence and rank stupidity. My language was pretty blue as I told the whole pack of useless cunts that my ageing Bassett hound with a bunged-up nose had more news sense than the lot of them put together and they should all be fucking ashamed of themselves for consistently being scooped by our rivals. And then when I saw on the monitors that the ABC had begun their election coverage, well, frankly, I then lost my cool, went ape-shit and really gave them both barrels.”
To be fair, Nine recovered quickly, and a feature of their cobbled-together coverage was the return from retirement of revered veteran political reporter and analyst Laurie Oakes (pictured). However, usual host of the Nine panel, Karl Stefanovic, was notable by his omission with Nine executives preferring to substitute his glamorous new partner Jasmine Yarbrough to helm the broadcast which is due to run non-stop for a possible seven months.
“We know what pulls in the viewers,” Makeup told The Bug on condition of anonymity. “Jasmine has that certain something that Karl once had but clearly doesn’t any more. Plus as a shoe designer she’s naturally streets ahead of him in her knowledge of Australian politics.”
The Nine coverage also saw the debut of new video graphics to replace the “boot” and “shredder” used in previous election broadcasts to dispose of unsuccessful candidates.
“We used a new graphic we’ve called the butt-fucker,” the anonymous executive disclosed. “Instead of putting their image through the shredder or giving their election signs the boot, new cutting-edge animation technology will allow us to show those who lose their seats taking it up the arse from the candidate who beat them.
“Although we didn’t get to use it last night, early feedback from viewers after a demo suggests it will not only entertain our audience but help them better understand our political system.”
A Channel Seven spokesperson was unusually frank and honest: “We didn’t see this [an early start to the 2019 election night coverage] coming but we will definitely be starting next Saturday and we’ll be all over it as votes progressively continue to not come in.
“Each Saturday from now on, we’ll just have to get Kochie into make-up and upload a few over-the-top fatuous or totally incorrect comments and predictions to his teleprompter that he can repeat in a really loud and annoying voice,” the spokesperson said. “In other words we’ll be doing what we always do for our coverage.”
A Ten Network spokesperson said that as soon as it saw the ABC’s coverage, it launched running back-to-back screenings of The Shawshank Redemption that would be shown every Saturday night until the 2019 election was over, with the occasional five-minute live cross to update viewers on results, possibly around the end of December, some time in early February 2019, and then again once a result was known on election night.