With the New South Wales election now behind us, and the NSW Labor party having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, we’re getting to the number crunching part of the analysis. As I write, it’s still up in the air whether or not the Coalition will win outright or form a minority government. If the latter happens, then we’re going to see a lot more power fall to the minor parties than either of the major parties are probably comfortable with.
There are so many minor parties that it can get difficult to keep them all straight. Some of them are pretty straightforward single-issue parties, like the Animal Justice Party. Others are a bit more obscure, like the Flux Party, a party whose website I delved into at length yet still have no idea what they actually stand for. There seems to be an app involved? Also one of their candidates is a biohacker legally named Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow. Amazing.
One minor party that has crashed onto the scene over the last twelve months or so has been the Keep Sydney Open Party. Starting out as a movement protesting the Sydney lockout laws, Keep Sydney Open officially registered themselves as a political party in June last year. Unlike most of the other minor parties running, Keep Sydney Open had instant and powerful name recognition behind it – Up to 15,000 people had turned out for their first 2016 rally and the movement has only grown since then.
Despite the insistence of Tyson Koh – leader of Keep Sydney Open – that they are not a single issue part only focused on the city, the main party platform has always been overturning lockouts and improving Sydney nightlife.
Keep Sydney Open have been very vocal about their position as an alternative, and pushed hard for seats. They ran candidates in 42 lower house seats, although interestingly they didn’t have anybody run in the inner city seat of Sydney. Considering Sydney is the seat that encapsulates the CBD, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, and The Rocks, it’s the seat which would arguably be most affected by repealing lockouts and other Keep Sydney Open policies. But I digress.
Ultimately, despite hopes of getting up to three seats to their name, Keep Sydney Open haven’t managed to land a seat. To add insult to injury, the Sustainable Australia Party – the party Keep Sydney Open preferenced specifically because they expected to be able to beat them – has finished with a higher primary vote.
Keep Sydney Open did get 1.4% of the primary vote though, and because they had been specifically targeting left-leaning electorates, Labor and the Greens are not best pleased. Both of those parties saw a 1% swing against them, and are criticising Keep Sydney Open for vote splitting. Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has specifically pointed the finger at Keep Sydney Open and blamed them for taking votes from his party, saying that “there is no doubt that it had an impact across the state on our vote,” even though “it doesn’t look like that’s going to result in increased representation” in Parliament. Even renowned ABC election analyst, Antony Green, has said that he thinks Keep Sydney Open “might have intruded in the two-party preferred swing”.
Look, Keep Sydney Open may not have completely paved the way for a Coalition victory, but they’ve certainly contributed to their personal arch nemesis being re-elected. Who knows if we’ll see them again in four years time, but for now we should probably leave them to go to the pub and drown their sorrows. Just as long as they’re not drinking past 3am.