Senate cliffhangers

Apologies for the Poll Bludger’s silence over the past 10 days. After taking about a week off your correspondent has been hard at work reupholstering his federal election guide to add summaries of the outcomes for each electorate, and will eventually do the same for the Senate guide. Speaking of which, two Senate seats are going right down to the wire and depending on how they pan out, the Coalition will either attain its absolute majority or fall one short, while the Greens might add two more new seats to their one clear win in Western Australia. At some point today the Electoral Commission will "press the button" on their vote-counting gizmo which will spit the Tasmanian result out the other end. Whether the sixth seat goes to the Greens or Family First is anybody’s guess. The latest from the ever-helpful Geoff Lambert is that "there is sufficient below-the-line vote and sufficient leakage away from the tickets in the below-the-lines to see the Greens elected by a margin of about 2800, it seems. The progress of count sometimes surprises though".

The count in Queensland has been a bit of wild ride over the past week, and the final result will not be processed until Thursday. The Nationals had long had their neck just in front of One Nation at a crucial point of the count where they would be able to overrun the Greens on preferences if they held on. But on Friday there was what Antony Green described as "a dramatic change to the count" suggesting they had "counted something quite specific which had caused that change". The result was to put One Nation ahead of the Nationals, which would mean victory for the Greens since One Nation had been frozen out on preferences by all and sundry. Since then however the trend has gone back the other way, but Geoff Lambert reports that a "big parcel" of below-the-line votes added today gives One Nation "a whisker more than the Nats (by 40!) – based on the tickets, of course". Another correspondent, Chris Maltby, says that "it’s certainly swung back in (Greens candidate) Drew Hutton’s favour, but I reckon One Nation are still behind the Nats by 650 or so". If all voters had gone above-the-line this lead would be about 2500, suggesting a number of minor party below-the-line voters were specifically putting the major parties (or perhaps the Coalition in particular) last. Maltby also notes that One Nation will need all of Pauline Hanson’s preferences to threaten the Nationals, whereas her below-the-line voters might not have any specific attachment to the party she has since abandoned.

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.