Use your collusion

Talk of a Labor-Liberal deal to shaft the Nationals and the Greens on preferences was ridiculed in some circles, and Labor’s upper house tickets did indeed suggest that the Liberals had some other motive in putting the Greens behind Labor. However, Labor’s lower house how-to-vote cards have now been unveiled and they indeed point to the nightmare scenario for the Nationals: in contrast to their upper house tickets, Labor has put the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in every seat where it’s likely to matter. Earlier speculation about such a scenario suggested it would almost certainly deliver the Nationals-held seats of Shepparton and Rodney to the Liberals, and would put Swan Hill, Lowan and party leader Peter Ryan’s seat of Gippsland South at varying degrees of risk. Only Benalla and Murray Valley look safe for them, as Labor are sure to run second and thus their preferences will not be distributed.

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.

33 comments on “Use your collusion”

  1. Gippsland South strikes me as a real longshot. The 2002 3-candidate count was Nat 41.3% ALP 35.3% Lib 23.4%.

    Benalla, on the other hand, was ALP 45.6% Nat 27.7% Lib 26.7% for a final result of Nat 52% ALP 48%. Sure Labor prefs are irrelevant; but it’s still a (potentially) genuine 3-way race.

  2. Yes, but who says they’ll hand out how to votes. Labor directed preferences to the Liberals in Mallee in 1993 and, even with the benefit of the donkey vote, Labor’s preferences only flowed 59% to the Liberals. Of course, the Nationals would want to make sure they have a higher primary count than Labor.

    Labor has defeated Victorian Nationals before by directing preferences to the Liberals, but the tactic has been better at by-elections, such as Warrnambool in 1985.

  3. Just getting off Victoria for one moment, I see Centrebet has the Coalition in NSW at $1.80 and Labor $1.90. Is that a fair reading of how that election is likely to end up do you think? Personally I think the Libs are still up against it.

  4. IMHO those odds are just a reflection of the current media storm, which has to blow over in due course. Iemma has taken out the garbage (admittedly, there was rather a lot of it – call it spring-cleaning if you like), and a lot can happen before election time. People won’t just vote against Iemma unless they have someone to vote for, so all eyes now will be on the opposition. Just look at what happened in the 04 US presidential election.

  5. Gary – I concur. Labor is the value bet there. As tired and spent as the Iemma govt looks, the Liberals still require some big swings. And the opposition isn’t exactly united and disciplined. Labor might well lose an election held today, but they’re every chance of putting the current lot of scandals behind them by the March election.

  6. In a close fight yes of course distributing HTV cards will count on election day. I fully support the ALP decision to place the National Party last on all seats. Not much different which McGauran is elected.

    What is important is Where have the Liberal Party distributed their preferences n Melbourne and Richmond? This is the difference between a potential hotspot or game over.. When is the deadline to register HTV cards? Internet HTV cards can change but registered HTV cards can not.

    Yes voters are more likely to determine where their preferences flow in the lower-house (Did they change the rules and do you still need to preference every candidate but the last?). I agree the Greens will not be able to effectively direct preferences but ALP/Liberal preferences will count.

    Donkey vote is getting smaller every year. Maybe around 0.5% at tops. What is more important is the inverse donkey vote. Where a person vote for their main candidate and then fills in the ballot from top to bottom.


    Looks like they are not directing preferences at all in Melbourne. Richmond and Northcote. This will make it much harder for the Greens to have a chance of electing a lower house candidate. Of course what is on the internet is not necessarily what will be on election day. You need to examine all the HTV cards that have been registered as more then one card can be registered. Community groups and individuals can also register cards.

  8. One thing that concerns me about the Liberal HTV card as published on their Internet site is that they do not include the details of their registered above-the-line preference allocation. So much of being able to make an informed decision. Voters wishing more information should look at the VEC web site to obtain information that the Liberal Party do not want to publish.

  9. That’s par for the course for upperhouse HTVs. How-to-vote cards issue instructions, nothing more.

    Wouldn’t this discussion be a better fit in the thread beneath?

  10. Another quick question re the NSW political landscape … now Ork has resigned from parliament will we see a by-election in his seat of Swansea? One would expect a catastrophic swing to the Libs if this were to be the case, almost to the point that the ALP might as well not stand in the seat. Is it normal for a seat to be left vacant for 5 months leading up to a state election?

  11. IMO if I was a Labor strategist I’d hold the byelection ASAP and get the protest vote out of people’s systems. That being said, there’d be resentment in that electorate having to vote twice in 6 months.

  12. Won’t be a by-election. In 1998, when his predecessor Jill Hall, Alby Schultz in Burrinjuck and Peter Cochran in Monaro resigned in September 1998, no by-elections were held. I’d imagine that’s the precedent.

    There are new electoral boundaries at the next election. Conducting a by-election on old boundaries using old rolls would be an administrative nuisance. Anyway, after next week, parliament will not meet before the next election, so whoever won a by-election would not be sworn in before the election.

  13. The VEC site is not clear, but the Section 77 of the Electoral Act states that registration of how-to-vote material ends at noon on the 6th working day before polling day. I presume that is Friday this week. That material will tell you who is directing preferences to who.

  14. I agree with Anthony Green that Labor’s ability to direct preferences is limited in the National seats as many booths will be unstaffed by Labor. Remember too that when the Labor vote is distributed some of this vote will be Green 1st preference voters. Will the Greens put the Nationals last?

  15. Antony., Thanks for that. I was not sure when the registration of on the day HTV cards for the lower-house closed. In the end it is the card that is handed out at the booth that counts not the one on the internet. What is your take on the de stanino groups support in Northern Victoria and whaht is your LIB/Nat split for each of the three rural seats? South Eastern Metreo is out of contention thanks to the Liberal party preferences.

    I have read a few people are dobouling Family Firsts senate vote, I can not see that happening either am i missing something?

    Currently I have labor on 19-21 seats in teh upperhouse, Greens and Nationals with 2 seats each the balance held by the Liberal party. Forth seat possible in the Western Metro for Labor.

  16. The situation appears to be this in three cornered contests – the only way the Nats can win seats is if the ALP beats home the LIB for 2nd, or if the NATs get 48-49% of the primary vote.

    Personally, after looking at the results from 2002, I can see the Nationals being all but wiped out in the Assembly with a fall in the ALP primary vote of around 3-4%. This would leave the ALP struggling to beat home the LIB for 2nd spot, even with the help of the Greens.

  17. Even if Labor does direct preferences to the Liberals (and that is not confirmed until Friday with the close of HTV registration), don’t bank on more than 70% of Labor preferences flowing to the Liberals Howard.

  18. no greens most probably wouldn’t preference nationals last. it’d be family first or liberals..

    The liberals asking their voters to number their preferences on their own in Melbourne at al is a good idea, but maybe they’ll just do the donley vote.

  19. It’s so rare to be able to catch out Antony Green that I can’t resist the opportunity: 1983 was the by-election where the Liberals won Warrnambool on Labor preferences. At the 1985 general election Labor switched and preferenced the Nationals, giving them the seat, which they held until McGrath retired in 1999.

  20. I knew it was the by-election, I had to guess the year. I knew it was caused by Ian Smith’s resignation, I thought to contest the 1984 Federal election. Now I’m home I’ve had the chance to check the detail, Smith resigned to contest Wannon pre-selection following the resignation of Malcolm Fraser.

    I like to refer to the Warrnambool by-election and subsequent general election to show that despite all the arguments that parties use optional preferential to corrupt the electoral system, compulsory preferences can just as easily be corrupted. Despite the Liberal primary vote rising at the 1985 election, and the Labor and National primary votes falling, the Nationals won in 1985 simply because of Labor’s strategic decision to reverse its preferences.

  21. Anthony,

    I’m wondering is there a website which contains seat by seat results for elections past, I know the VEC has figures back to 99, and Adam Carr’s website, but are there any others.

  22. There isn’t. I’ve got a set of just about every result since 1985, and before 1985, I rely on the venerable Hughes, Graham and Aitkin publications.

    In the first half of next year, I will be publishing a website for the NSW Parliament which will inlcude every election result since 1856. That’s 53 general elections, 667 by-elections, 5,083 individual contests, 16,055 candidate records. Trying to find the results prior to 1894 has been a swine, as there were no statistical returns until 1894. It’s been hard-slog newspaper searches. Hope historians appreciate the effort.

  23. Antony, are you going to solely publish it as a website? I’m sure if there was sufficient detail it would have much value as a book.

    By the way, congratulations and thanks for the work you’ve put in over the years with your election guides and whatnot, it’s very interesting stuff.

  24. Re Benalla

    The last election had a Labor incumbent. This time that is not the case. The ALP vote could drop 10% and witht the primaries going to the Nats and Libs. This could make it interesting.

    In relation to how booths the ALP staffs this election in the counrty, my quess it will be higher as the new Upper house system means getting every booth staffed.

    In the Central Highlands by election in the 1990’s the ALP managed to staff every booth and in the ones it staffed for the first time managed to pick up 10% in the small booths (this meant 3 or 4 people in the booth). When the large booths came in the result was a massive swing to the the Liberals.

    Of course if the Nats preference the ALP in the Wodonga seat that could make it ALP if the Nats carry out their threat.

    The other option is tactical voting. Apparantly in the 1999 state election there was a rumor that in the old seat of Portland, the Liberals organised for up to 500 people to vote ALP in order for it to finish second and not third to the Nats.

    However as I siad on this site a year a go if the ALP prefences the Libs over the Nats the Nats might only have 2 lower house seats and in Victoria, the Nats once they have lost the seat to the Liberals have never won it back in the last 20 years

  25. Michael, unfortunately a book is estimated to be in the order of 5 to 6 volumes. There may be a limited number of hard copies for major libraries. There is likely to be a CD-Rom version.

  26. Peter yes that tactic works. I remember suggeting that ALP members vote Liberal one then ALP in Melbourne.

    Also you need to reaslise that a party or indivual can register more then one ticket but only hand out one on the day. I recall suggesting to teh ALp in Balmain that they should splikt their ticket for the City Council and that way they would maxi mise their potential of getting two out of three up. Sadly they did not do this as the Left ALP person was afraid that teh second number could beat them at the poll. But figuars showed otherwise.

    I have puiblished my Upperhouse assessemnt based on the newpoll dated Nov 11. It shows three seats in the close range. Eastern and Western metro and Western Victoria are all close and could go either way. Thje Greens lost the chance of winning South Metro thanks to the Liberal party preference deal.

    The newspoll shows a 3% consolidation of the major players support which leaves little left for teh minor parties to divide up.

    My Lib/National Part split was that provided by the analysis. I very slightly on who will win the close seats. Comments welcomed.

  27. Melbcity Southern Metro will be a win or a close win for Greens. The Greens will come close to quota here.

    Liberals preferences would have helped but not that crucial when we came close to a quote on last elections figures. I know you would rather rely on newspoll, but seriously 8% statewide does not translate to 8% in every seat does it? This area is voting Green in larger numbers.

    I’m not just saying that becasue I’m a Greens member. I’m saying that becasue I have over ten years experience in Politics in the area and can see the change on the ground. Don’t expect the vote to go down in this seat.

    Although expect the Liberals to get a bit of a thumping in Prahran for preferencing Family First and the right wing in general. Not the brightest thing to do if your aiming to win a seat with a large GLBTI population now is it?

  28. Thanks for replies to my question.

    I think people are overplaying the potential backlash in Prahran again Liberals for deal with Family First, after all this area would have elected a Liberal at the last federal election.

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