The results will represent a significant indication to the government, the opposition and the various independent parties who are contesting the seats about how they are faring. If history is an accurate guide, the odds are with Bill Shorten. It’s been almost 100 years since the government of the day has won a by-election from the opposition.
Four of the by-elections were triggered by the dual citizenship saga with the High Court ruling in May that the former NXT MP Rebekha Sharkie and Labor’s Susan Lamb, Justine Keay, and Josh Wilson, were all ineligible to sit.
The fifth by-election, in Perth, is taking place because of Labor MP Tim Hammond’s decision to resign because he couldn’t be the dad he wanted to be while sitting in parliament.
In two of the by-elections, in Perth and Fremantle, Labor is likely to win: the Liberal Party decided not to contest those seats. The two likely victors are Labor’s Patrick Gorman and Josh Wilson respectively.
In the three other by-elections however – in Queensland’s Longman, South Australia’s Mayo and Tasmania’s Braddon – the likely outcomes are less predictable.
These three seats impact the proportion of female representation in Federal politics.
In the seat of Mayo it is highly likely that a woman will win. The Centre Alliance’s Rebekah Sharkie is up against the Liberal Party’s Georgina Downer and the polls have Sharkie ahead by a decent margin.
In Longman the incumbent MP, Labor’s Susan Lamb, is up against the LNP’s Trevor Ruthenberg and he is tracking ahead.
In Braddon Labor’s Justine Keay is fighting for her seat against the Liberal Party’s Brett Whiteley. As in Longman this race is considered too close to call but Keay is slightly ahead.
With the five vacant seats women hold 41 out of 145 seats in the House of Representatives. Depending on the results on Saturday women will most likely hold either 42 out of 150 seats, or 44 out of 150. Given parity remains a long way off and every number counts, here’s hoping it’s the latter.