What "what it all means" means

Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson has written in to say he essentially agrees with my assessment of the Legislative Council; his own in-depth reading of the tea leaves will be featured in Crikey tomorrow. Once again, that assessment is that the Coalition will win 17 seats, as will Labor and the Greens combined. This differs from the current state of affairs in that the Coalition will recover all three states currently held by ex-One Nation independents as well as one from the Greens. In terms of electoral reform that will put Labor and the Greens two rather than one short of the floor majority required to pass one-vote one-value legislation, assuming the Greens keep refusing to back an amendment to allow the President a deliberative rather than casting vote.

The big question for election night is whether Labor or the Greens can defy the odds to win two extra seats, but the only alternative likely scenario in their favour is a 3-2 rather than 4-1 split in Agricultural. Reader Graham Allen has kindly set to work amending the Java applet Senate election calculators he developed during the federal campaign to accommodate the WA upper house, which will shortly be available through this site. One of the three he has so far sent through is for Agricultural, and it is not hard to plug in plausible scenarios where the fifth seat falls to either Labor or the Greens, providing the Labor vote can improve to at least 25.0 per cent from 20.2 per cent in 2001. It also appears that Family First might win a seat here at the Coalition’s expense if everything lands in the right place. The calculator for South West is even more intriguing – apparently Liberals for Forests or the Public Hospital Support Group stand a chance of getting elected ahead of a fourth Coalition candidate from as little as 1.5 per cent of the vote, providing the non-major party vote holds up quite a lot better than it did at the federal election. If this happens, it is at least possible that a re-elected Labor government might be able to cut a deal with the newcomer to get electoral reform through.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Martin Gordon for pointing out a miscalculation in the original version of this post, which had Labor and the Greens likely to fall one rather than two seats short of the numbers required to pass one-vote one-value legislation.

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.