The Nationals had candidates in 14 seats where three-cornered-contests existed, with 87.34% of preferences favouring the Liberal Party.
The Democrats contested 145 electorates with preferences favouring Labor (64.13%)
The Greens contested 145 electorates with preferences strongly favouring Labor (74.83%)
One Nation contested 120 electorates with preferences slightly favouring the Liberal/National Coalition (55.87%)
Seats changing hands
The following table indicates seats that changed hands from one party to another at this election. It compares the election results with the previous margins, taking into account redistributions in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and both territories. As a result, it includes the seats of Macarthur and Parramatta, which were held by Liberal members but had notional Labor margins. The table does not include the new seat of Hasluck (retained by Labor); the abolished Northern Territory, which was divided into Lingiari (retained by Labor) and Solomon (retained by the CLP); or Paterson, a Labor seat made Liberal by the redistribution
ABC news report of the Tampa affair and its political context, October 2001.
Throughout much of 2001, the Coalition had been trailing Labor in opinion polls, thanks to dissatisfaction with the government's economic reform programme and high petrol prices. The opposition Australian Labor Party had won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote at the previous election and had won a series of state and territory elections. Labor also recorded positive swings in two by-elections, taking the Queensland seat of Ryan and coming close in Aston.
The 11 September attacks and the so-called Children Overboard and Tampa affairs were strong influences in the minds of voters at this election, focusing debate around the issues of border protection and national security. Polls swung strongly toward the coalition after the "Tampa" controversy but before the 11 September attacks. Another major issue was the collapse of the country's second biggest airline Ansett Australia and whether it should be given a bailout; the Coalition was opposed to the bailout because it was not the government's fault. However, Labor was for a bailout because the company's collapse was about to result in the biggest mass job loss in Australian history, whilst also arguing that the government was partially responsible for allowing Ansett to be taken over by Air New Zealand who had caused Ansett's failure. Although the two-party preferred result was reasonably close, the ALP recorded its lowest primary vote since 1934.
Political scientists have suggested that television coverage has subtly transformed the political system, with a spotlight on leaders rather than parties, thereby making for more of an American-presidential-style system. In this election television news focused on international issues, especially terrorism and asylum seekers. Minor parties were largely ignored as the two main parties monopolized the camera's attention. The election was depicted as a horse race between the Howard, who ran ahead and was therefore given more coverage than his Labor rival.
^David Denemark, Ian Ward, and Clive Bean, Election Campaigns and Television News Coverage: The Case of the 2001 Australian Election. Australian Journal of Political Science. (2007) 42#1 pp: 89-109 online
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