Bells and whistles

Many thanks to reader Graham Allen who has kindly gone to the effort of producing Java applet Legislative Council election calculators, modelled on those he developed for his own amusement at the Senate election. These are now available for public enlightenment on the Poll Bludger’s upper house election page. You may need to download a Java plugin to get them to work – you can get this here. The calculators allow you to enter voting figures for each of the grouped tickets in the relevant region, and then determine the flow of preferences based on the tickets lodged by each group and thus to project the final outcome. There are a small number of complications that are smoothed over here. Voters of course have the option of choosing their own preferences by numbering every square rather than accepting the party ticket through the above-the-line option, although less than 5 per cent of voters exercise it and they rarely if ever determine the result. Of even less significance is the fact that Allen’s model ignores non-major party candidates other than those at the top of the ticket, rather than accommodate the meaninglessly complex tickets that some parties submit for whatever reason.

With the help of these calculators, the Poll Bludger has been able to make more educated guesswork than that offered earlier. The following assessments have been added to the summaries for each region:

Agricultural: The first four seats are very likely to go two Liberal, one Nationals and one Labor, but the final seat is an absolute lottery between Liberal, the Nationals, Labor, the Greens, Family First and even the Christian Democratic Party. If the Coalition falls short the Nationals’ surplus will be a handy dividend for the Greens, who will also get preferences from Liberals for Forests. If that puts them ahead of Labor, they will gather their surplus in turn and perhaps win the seat. If it doesn’t, Labor could win with Greens preferences. Family First or the CDP could snowball into contention through preferences from One Nation, New Country, the Citizens Electoral Council and each other. Frank Hough?s hopes of re-election have been dashed by One Nation’s decision to put his New Country party last, while One Nation themselves would have needed major party preferences to be a chance and are predictably not getting them. Given the high quota required in five-seat regions, the smart money is probably on a Coalition candidate winning the final seat.

East Metropolitan: The Greens’ vote will probably need to increase to at least 8 per cent from their 6.4 per cent in 2001 if they are to win the fifth seat at the expense of Louise Pratt. Any improvement in the Labor vote of 44.2 per cent will probably put the seat beyond the their reach.

Mining and Pastoral: By the Poll Bludger’s estimation, a result of three Labor and two Liberal is all but certain. John Fischer and his high-profile running mate Graeme Campbell have done very badly on preferences, scoring last or near-last place from the Greens, the Democrats and their old friends One Nation. To win they would need to almost match One Nation’s 2001 vote of 13.9 per cent. The Greens will not have Tom Helm feeding them preferences this time, and have not been put ahead of the major parties by One Nation as they were in 2001. This gives Robin Chapple approximately no chance whatsoever. The Liberals? already high hopes of recovering a second seat have been boosted by One Nation’s decision to put them near the top of the pile.

North Metropolitan: By far the most likely result here is a status quo result of three each for Labor and Liberal and one for the Greens. Most of the plausible alternative scenarios involve a drop in the Greens vote of 9.7 per cent in 2001 to 8 per cent or below, which would have to be considered unlikely. If it does happen, their seat could fall to the Liberals or Family First. In the even more unlikely event that the collective major party vote does not substantially improve, there’s a chance that Family First could win a seat at the expense of Labor rather than the Greens.

South Metropolitan: Unless the Greens lose ground from the 9.0 per cent they recorded in 2001, the result here is certain to be two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens. For Labor to win a third seat at the Greens’ expense would also require an improvement on their 43.0 per cent vote from 2001 or an unforeseen resilience in support for One Nation, who have put the Greens last.

South West: In the likely event of a subsidence of the large non-major party vote from 2001, the result here will be three Liberal, one Nationals, two Labor and one Greens. Most alternative scenarios involve the Nationals missing out. If Labor perform particularly strongly they might win a third seat; if voters do not return to the major parties to the expected extent, the outcome is anyone’s guess. New Country and One Nation have ruled each other out through mutually hostile preferences, but their vote could allow micro-parties Public Hospital Support Group and Liberals for Forests to snowball into contention if they can manage at or near 2 per cent.

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.