One of the most common jokes circulating during the slow-motion train wreck known as the 2011 NSW election concerns the size of the Labor Party team that will occupy the opposition benches in the Legislative Assembly after March 26.
Or, rather, the nature of the team.
Will they be an AFL team of 18 members? Or will there be barely enough to make up a cricket XI? (And remember, there's 50 of them currently in government.)
I've done my own estimate attempting to put names, or at least electorates, to the numbers, and my prediction is that Labor will win 17 seats at Saturday's election. That's an NRL team with a full four-player interchange bench.
Here's my fantasy Labor team, the 13 most likely in alphabetical order, with four less likely winners at positions 14-17 on the interchange bench:
10 Mt Druitt
Heffron is the seat of the current Premier, Kristina Keneally; Toongabbie that of her predecessor, Nathan Rees. Blacktown is being contested by the man with aspirations of being the next Labor leader, John Robertson.
If Heffron, Blacktown and Toongabbie were all to fall along with Maroubra (currently held by Police Minister Michael Daley) and Marrickville (Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt), then it would be fair to say that the state Labor leadership had been decapitated. It could happen.
My ballpark estimate of the makeup of the next NSW lower house, with 47 required for an absolute majority:
Liberal-National Parties 64, Labor 17, Greens 2, independents 10.
And to look at those numbers another way, that's about thirty faces on the government benches with no prior experience of State parliament. I'm not sure how healthy for democracy that really is.
The seats that Labor would lose on the basis of my prediction: Balmain, Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Cabramatta, Camden, Campbelltown, Cessnock, Charlestown, Coogee, Drummoyne, East Hills, Gosford, Heathcote, Kiama, Kogarah, Londonderry, Macquarie Fields, Maitland, Maroubra, Marrickville, Menai, Miranda, Mulgoa, Newcastle, Oatley, Parramatta, Riverstone, Rockdale, Strathfield, The Entrance, Wollondilly, Wollongong, Wyong.