Upper house results: take two

Andrew Landeryou reports that the upper house recount for Northern Metropolitan has indeed overturned the shock DLP win and delivered the final seat to Labor’s Nazih Elasmar, putting the upper house numbers at ALP 20, Liberal 15, Nationals 2, Greens 2, DLP 1. However, the roller-coaster ride might not be over yet – Landeryou also reports that the recount in Western Metropolitan, where the provisional result was decided by a 76-vote margin at a vital point in the count, might yet deliver a seat to the Greens’ Colleen Hartland at the expense of Labor’s fourth candidate Henry Barlow. This should be resolved within the hour (for the record, it’s currently 2.46am EST).

UPDATE (4.09am): I’m off to bed, so those seeking the late mail on Western Metropolitan will have to look elsewhere.

UPDATE (12.53pm): I’m awake now, and Colleen Hartland indeed bumped out Henry Barlow after the margin at the key point in the count shifted 100 votes the other way. So the scorecard reads ALP 19, Liberal 15, Greens 3, Nationals 2, DLP 1. Nazih Elasmar’s win notwithstanding, the net effect of the recount is not good for Labor – unless you take the view that what’s good for the Greens is good for Labor (or at least the broader Labor cause), which it seems many do. Before they could have got legislation through with the support of the Greens, the DLP or the Nationals. Now only the Greens or the Nationals can give them more than a blocking majority. Bragging rights go to blogger Aaron Hewett of Urban Creature, who tipped the result perfectly on November 16. I wrongly tipped Liberal 3, Labor 2 in Western Victoria, and Labor 4, Liberal 1 in Western Metropolitan.

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.

164 comments on “Upper house results: take two”

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  1. >
    Had they [Greens] not ran hard in lower house seats they could have secured 5 maybe six upper-house seats.

    What a load of crp. The ALP panicked when the Libs refused to preference ALP in Melbourne. Lib prefs to greens in melbourne caused the ALP to play hardball in that seat. It was beyond the Greens control. The greens were by-standers waiting to see what the libs would do there. And all of this happened 4 days after the ALP had locked in its preferences to the DLP and Country Alliance in upper house seats, so don’t treat us all like fools suggesting that had the greens not tried to win in Melbourne then the ALP would have helped them win 5 or more upper house seats. If the ALP wanted to avoid a fight for Melbourne, it could have surrendered either Northcote or Richmond to the greens on condition they don’t stand in Melbourne or any other green marginal.

  2. Sean you fail to acknowledge that the ALP had their doubts about supporting the Greens long before the Liberals decided their position.

    The last thing Victoria needs is the Greens holding the balance of power. As I have said before their Senate Candidate is someone worthy of consideration, I broke ranks and helped Risstrom get elected to the City Council in 1996, but I have my doubts about the other candidates. And when =Frazer Bradley mpved a motion to refer Councillor expense reports to an illegal meeting behind closed doors to avoid public scrutiny (Total against the green published policies) I realized that they were not about good open and transparent governance. Costs associated with the lord Mayor and Deputy lord May’s Limos are still with-held from the Cochinillo expense statement along with the cost of internal catering. THEN there was the issue fo the City Council funding Frasers expenses related to his membership of a third party intentional con fest, What is the City of melbourne funding the executive costs of a third party organization. It most certainly is not directly related to his role as a councillor… I fully support comments made in respect to the DLP being preference ahead of the Greens. The more minor parties that hold seats as opposed to the Greens only the better for the government. I am also of the view that the Western Metro seat should be recounted until the result is confirmed twice. Too many errors in the counting. Will the Greens be taking up electoral reform. I doubt it. The Greens went backlward in teh lower house and I falt o see how you can claim that this election as a win for the Greens. The test of support will come in next years senate? WHo should the ALP preference. Not the Greens thats for sure.

  3. Sadly there will not be a double dissolution. Even if the ALP wins the Federal election and three of the senate seats in ech state, the Liberal Party will still hold the balance of power in the Senate. The other interesting fact is that Family First helped the Greens win in Western Metropolitan.

  4. Tom the media have reported a 0.3% increase overall in the Greens vote. Thats hardly a step forward. The Greens went backwards overall in Melbourne and Richmond with both seats recording a swing to the Government. I

    f it was not for Family first the Greens would not have won in Western Metroplotian. Still not sure what happened to the votes that went missing. Did they not check the total number of votes recorded with the number issued? It appears not and they still do not tally. Could someone have removed ballot papers from the count? Why was the crucial information, the checks and balance not made public?

    The VEC is always finding that elusive bundle of votes that is added or gone missing. Without an open and transparent election we will never know the truth and real facts. If we had the polling place breakdown that is normally published (Thanks Antony) then we would have a better idea of what went wrong an where.

  5. Melb City, I’ve thought that the best chance for a federal Labor govt after the next election to counter the likely Coalition control of the Senate or its ability to vote down any resolution in the Senate vote is to hold a double dissolution election. It would be unusual for a re-elected labor govt to find the coalition holding half or more of the Senate. What do you think?

    This raises the question of the extent to which the senate should reflect how people voted most recently. For example, should all senators be elected each election? Should a govt with a (say, large) majority in the lower house find it easier to obtain a majority in the upper house? I don’t have answers to these questions although I think that the Senate composition should reflect the most recent way in which people voted, and perhaps it should be easier to gain a majority in the Senate reflecting how people voted rather than the half/half general split there has been in much of the last 20 years.

    I’d suggest that all senators be elected be election, and that each state elect an odd number of senators, say 13.

  6. melbcity,

    The more the ALP supports getting right wingers into power the more votes the Greens will attract. Nice to hear that you would prefer DLP and family First over Greens. I doubt you represent many of the ALP voters.

    It is downright scary that some ALPer’s like you are quite content with selling out to the right wing.

    By the way, why can’t supposed electoral analysts like you understand this-

    The Greens are financially not as well off as Lab/Liberal. Greens had to split finances between about 8 winnable seats this time. As for Melbourne and Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote there are going to fall eventually, it’s only a matter of time. or as they say, it’s a slow burn.

    Now for NSW.

    Oh and do you see any of the Greens not happy with the result. The election of the DLP will only help the Greens convince ALP voters that the ALP does not represent their ideals.

  7. Sacha,

    I see nothing wrong with the rotational method for electing the Senate: it evens out the wild and temporary swings in public opinion. We certainly could’ve done with a Legislative Council resistant to the Liberal swing of 1992. Someone once said that tradition is very democratic because it gives votes to the dead. I wouldn’t go that far, but given the way public opinion changes from opinion poll to opinion poll, there is nothing wrong in my mind with an 8-year term for upper house members. It is better in most cases for change to proceed incrementally: it helps people digest it.

    I would like to see a smaller quota in Victoria, but you can blame the Liberals for not delivering one way backing 1973 after they promised to do so.


    On tis issue, MelbCity may not represent many ALP voters, but he certainly represents the elected administrative committee of the ALP. How many of them – Left, Right, or the Marching Faction – voted against the decision to preference the DLP?

    I think you are probably right in thinking that many ALP voters would not support preferences going to the DLP (even though it was public knowledge before the event and all those ALP voters could have voted below the line if they wished). However, I also think it is probably more the older voters with bitter memories of the Split who think that way, while most younger voters had probably never even heard of the DLP.

    I see no “selling out to the right wing” in any of this. The DLP is not even right wing, while Family First are probably more centre right, if Steve Fielding’s votes in the Senate are any thing to go by. The ALP did what it had to do to maximise its chances of getting its program through. Note that on the only vote so far held, the DLP voted with the ALP, while the Greens abstained.

    As the DLP gains a public profile (assuming the press which so misrepresented and censored it in its earlier incarnation has a change of heart about its public responsibilities), more ALP voters will see the sense in the ALP’s preferencing strategy.

    In the long run, more voters will vote below the line, and the power of parties to make deals which work will reduce a little.

    The record third-party vote remains Frank McManus’s 1970 Senate result of 19.1 per cent. I do not say the Greens have plateaued, but I do not think they will reach that level.

  8. Enviroyouth,

    Sorry. You are right. Nick Xenophon’s No Pokies Party got 20.5 per cent (according to the ABC website) – and he gains the record. My memory is obviously slipping. I could pretend I just meant in Victoria, but I didn’t.

  9. Update on the Victorian Electoral Commission’s response to the Freedom of information request seeking copies of the below the line preference data files and summary reports and addition information.

    The Victorian Electoral Commission has responded to the FOI request in part but has failed to provided copies of the information requested. Missing are:

    1. Copies of the below the line data preference data files as requested – No response given. Copies of below the line preference data was provided free of charge during the 1999, 2002 an 2004 Melbourne City Council Elections. this information is readily available and would be no more then 1mb for electorate and would take approx. 2 mins to copy. this information should be published in the Victorian Electoral Commissioners web site. Without access to the below the line data files it is impossible to effectively scrutinise of verify the results of the election. The below the line preference data is a public document and precedence has been set in a ruling of the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal requiring that this information be made available.

    2. Copies of all summary count sheets. (Although this information has been obtained via a third party – copies published on my web site http://melbcity.topcities.com)

    3. Copies of polling centres return results (Similar to the polling place return data provided for the legislative assembly – lower house) The Victorian electoral commission has claimed that the cost of providing this information would be in excess of $600.00 which is very dubious and highly questionable. The information is stored in electronic format and the cost of copying that information would be less then $2.00. Polling place data for the Legislative Council is normally available and published on election night and updated through the count. in the 2006 State Election the Victorian Electoral Commission failed to make this information available instead only provided an electorate wide summary. This oversight was due primarily to the advice and request provided by various media interests. Access to the polling place summary data is fundamental in proving a check and balance as to the number of ballot papers issued and returned. There were a number of substantial errors recorded during the conduct of the count of the Victorian State Election that had this information been readily available could have and should have been avoided. This information is still outstanding.

    Te Victorian Electoral Commission has provided limited information on the certification of software used to conduct the Victorian State Election count. Copies of certification certificates have been provided (but not yet received) for the electronic ‘Kiosk’ voting centres and the algorithm used in the calculation of the proportional representation results. Missing is the detailed supporting certification document and reports and certification of the actual software related to the data-entry, front end, data and reporting software that utilises the algorithm used. Either the software used by the Victorian Electoral Commission has not Ben fully certified of the Victorian Electoral Commission has withheld access to this information.

    In summary the Victorian Electoral Commission again is seeking to avoid open and public disclose of the detailed results of the 2006 Victorian State Election. A number of serious errors in the counting of the election have occurred and questions related to the discrepancy in the number of total votes record between the preliminary count and the recount in Western Metropolitan region have north been fully explained or verifiable based on the public documentation provided. There is a discrepancy of over 350 ballot papers between the two count. Without access to the polling place data as requested and the below the line preference data files it is impossible to verify the results. I am informed that copies of the below the line data files were not made available to scrutineers.

    It is fundamental that our elections are open and transparent and subject to public review and analysis. With the utilisation of electronic computer based technology all relevant information and data files must be readily available to scutineers and the public.

    One can only ask

    The actions of the Chief Electoral Commissioner continues to bring Victorian State Election into disrepute.

  10. UPDATE: Victorian State Election FOI – Election Results

    I have received a response form the Victorian Electoral Commission three months after the State Election dated 27 February 2007

    I am concerned that information as requested is missing namely:

    1. Copies of the below-the-line (BTL) preference data for the preliminary counts for Western Victoria, Northern Metropolitan and Western metropolitan.

    2. Copies of the polling place/voting centre statistics in electronic format.

    This information is similar to that which was provided by the Victorian electoral commission in XML format during the election period but which did not include polling place break-down showing the number of above the line votes and first preference primary votes allocations, informal votes and total number of ballot papers issued for the upper-house.

    I had requested a copy of statistical return data for EACH polling place in relation to the Victorian Legislative Council and a complete/final data copy of polling place data for the Legislative Assembly

    This information is maintained by the Victorian Electoral Commission but not provided in the VEC response.

    I have request that copies of this information be forwarded via return email without further delay or that the VEC provide an indication as to why the Victorian Electoral Commission has failed to provide this information as requested.

    If need be I will make an application in the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal for a review.

    The delay and failure of the Victorian Electoral Commission in providing a timely response to the request for details of the 2006 State Election is an abuse of process by the Victorian Electoral Commission. This information should have been published in a timely fashion on the Victorian Electoral Commission’s web site.

    The fact that polling place statistics for the upper house are still not available continues to bring the conduct of the state election into disrepute.

    Those wishing a copy of the BTL preference data can pull down a copy on http://melbciy.topcities.com/vec01.htm or click here


  11. Victorian State Election: Publication of details of the election results update:

    I have received a further response (dated February 28, 2007) from Mr Steve Tully, Victorian Electoral Commissioner, in relation to the FOI application required to obtain copies detailed copies of the election results.

    The Victorian Electoral Commission continues to avoid accountability and publication of all the requested information.

    Steve Tully false claims that he has provided copies of all BTL preference data file. Missing from the data requested is a copy of the below the line preference data file for the preliminary count undertaken for Northern Metropolitan, Western Metropolitan and Western Victoria.

    The Victorian Electoral Commission has also refused to provide a copy of the polling place return results for the Legislative Council in electronic format. This information is normally available and forms an important part of the public record, review and scrutiny of the election results.

    In past state and federal elections polling place statistics have been published.

    The Victorian Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, is claiming that in order to obtain this information it would cost $5,000 for what should be a copy of a 1mb data file. Polling place return data is published for the Victorian Legislative Assembly (Lower house).

    Analysis of what information has been provided indicates a discrepancy of up to 470 ballot papers in the total number of ballot papers recorded and accounted in relation to the Western Metropolitan Legislative Council region.

    The situation where the Victorian Electoral Commission refuses to publish details of the election results is extra-ordinary and it would appear that the VEC is prepared to go to extraordinary efforts to avoid accountability and public review. Question is why?

    In discussion with various people I am informed that this information as not made available to scrutineers.

    Those who wish to obtain copies of what information has been provided by the Electoral Commission can do so via my web site http://melbcity.topcities.com/vec01.htm

    In the meantime we have written back to the Victorian Electoral Commissioner requesting an explanation as to why the requested information has not been provided. – 3 Months after the State Election detailed elections results for the Upper-should still has not been published.

    Addendum: The Victorian Electoral Commission has also written back indicating that they will not be publishing a copy of my submission to the Victorian Local Government Representation Review. The submission is critical of a number of aspects related to the conduct of the Victorian State election and the Victorian Electoral Commission which is relevant to the current Municipal Representation Reviews. Copies of the submission are also available on our web site. http://melbcity.topcities.com

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