Another Senate update

The only person who really knows what’s going on, Antony Green, offered an illuminating contribution to yesterday’s Crikey newsletter detailing the state of play in the Senate. In New South Wales, the huge accumulation of preferences by Liberals for Forests meant none flowed on to the Greens, who were eventually eliminated ahead of both Liberals for Forests and Labor. Greens preferences then gave the seat to Labor. Family First’s victory in Victoria is now confirmed, for reasons that have been widely canvassed elsewhere. In Queensland, no trend has emerged in late counting to suggest an outcome other than three Liberal, one National and two Labor. In Western Australia, the outcome of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens has never been in doubt. Antony Green refers to a "fevered hope" among the Democrats that they might win a seat in South Australia by overhauling their current 2,600 vote deficit relative to Family First, then making it home on Family First and Greens preferences. However, he can’t see this happening, which means Greens preferences will be deciding the issue between Labor and Family First rather than Labor and the Democrats – and thus that Labor as well as Liberal will win a third seat.

Only in Tasmania does the outcome remain entirely unclear, with below-the-line votes to determine whether the final seat is won by Family First or the Greens. Antony Green does not share the Poll Bludger’s previously expressed sentiment that the Liberals had "blundered" by not fielding a fourth candidate when they won more than three quotas: "If it was not their original intention, someone in the Liberal Party will be claiming great foresight in standing only three candidates. The result is that a full 0.29 of a quota goes straight to Family First rather than lingering with a fourth Liberal candidate". One possible scenario that might have unfolded had this not occurred is that the fourth Liberal would have knocked out Family First, whose preferences could have put incumbent Labor-turned-independent Senator Shayne Murphy into contention. Certainly it does not appear, as suggested earlier, that the Liberals might have been a chance to win the seat themselves.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.