Betting on politics: elections down under

One country that we haven’t yet covered in this column is Australia. Since the last election was in July 2016, the next one isn’t due until 2019 – they are held every three years in Oz.

However, there are two upcoming by-elections for the seats of New England and Bennelong. The first one is New England, prompted by the discovery this summer that Barnaby Joyce, then deputy prime minister in the Liberal government, was also a citizen of New Zealand through his father. Because the Australian constitution bans dual citizens from being MPs, the courts ordered him to step down from parliament.

Having relinquished his Kiwi passport, Joyce is now free to stand for Saturday’s contest. While there are 17 candidates, the two frontrunners are Joyce and Rod Taber, an independent. Paddy Power is offering 4/9 on Joyce (69.2%) and 7/2 (22%) on Taber. At the last election in July 2016, Joyce carried his district of New England with a majority of first-preference votes (equating to a majority of 16,186 counting preferences). I’d therefore suggest that you bet on Joyce. I’m going to put a token bet of £1 on Joyce myself just to track what happens.

However, Joyce wasn’t the only person caught up in the dual nationality scandal. Liberal John Alexander was forced to confess that he was also a UK national, prompting a by-election in Bennelong, which is due to vote on 16 December. There are 12 candidates in this contest, but the only ones of any note are Alexander and Labor’s Kristina Keneally. The latter was the premier of the state of New South Wales between 2009 and 2011.

Paddy Power is offering 1/2 (66.7%) on Alexander, 8/5 (38.5%) on Keneally and 20/1 (8.3%) on the Greens. In last summer’s election Alexander won on first preferences, with just over half the vote. Counting all the preferences he won by 17,923 votes. While the polls suggest this contest will be narrower, Alexander should win. I recommend you bet accordingly.

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