Sydney or the bush

Media tart par excellence Peter Brent writes to ask my opinion on independent Calare MP Peter Andren’s chances in his ambitious tilt for a Senate seat, the answer to which is that I haven’t really formulated one. He also suggests I open a thread on the topic, and I can certainly do that. My first instinct was that Andren didn’t stand a chance. The only independent ever to win a Senate seat in the era of six-seat half-Senate elections (the first of which was in 1990) has been Brian Harradine, who notably did so in the nation’s smallest state as opposed to its largest.

Then I remembered that I would never have credited Nick Xenophon with an ability to pull 21 per cent of the statewide vote for the South Australian upper house, which the “No Pokies” MP managed to achieve at last year’s election. Does Andren have an even remotely comparable profile across the premier state, particularly in Sydney? Personally, I wouldn’t have thought so. Does he need one? Not necessarily. There is no doubt he has enough vote-pulling power to be worth doing business with when the time comes for preference negotiations; he will certainly get the Coalition’s preferences ahead of the Greens, and very likely Labor’s also. Let’s say he gets 5 per cent of the vote. If either major party polls less than 38.3 per cent (Labor got 36.4 per cent last time, though this would be augmented slightly by preferences), he will defeat their third candidate and pick up their surplus as preferences. That would probably put him ahead of the Greens, who polled 7.3 per cent last time. Greens preferences would then decide the outcome.

UPDATE: Whoops – thanks to Chris Curtis for pointing out that two quotas is 28.6 per cent, not 33.3 per cent. So if Andren gets 5 per cent, the lowest major party vote will have to be 33.6 per cent, not 38.3 per cent. Which places a slightly different complexion on things.

There is no doubt that the Greens will put Andren ahead of the Coalition, and little doubt they will put him ahead of Labor – he won brownie points (greenie points?) by opposing to the Iraq war and the government’s stance on asylum seekers in 2001, and was second on the Greens how to vote card in Calare in 2004. Suddenly his tilt doesn’t look so quixotic after all. The decisive factor is likely to be whether his vote can exceed the worst performing major party’s surplus over 33.3 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.

121 comments on “Sydney or the bush”

Comments Page 2 of 3
1 2 3
  1. Edward, you seem to be going on the attack over ONE dubious poll. I’ll tell you how confident I am next week when other polls have had a chance to shed some light on the trends. I wonder Edward, have you studied the galaxy poll closely? Do yourself a favour and take a close look at the latest contribution and see what the Libs are getting hot and sweaty over. It’s just a pity the heading and rhetoric doesn’t reflect what the poll actually indicates.

  2. Personally, I’ll take the protection of a state Labor government over this federal government any day of the week. If Labor gets elected federally that’s a bonus.

  3. Gary its the trend my friend not the actual figures. Clearly on the Galaxy figures Rudd would win 9 seats in Qld. However I think there is still air in the deflating balloon to come out.

    Watch the recriminations in the ALP if Newspoll supports the trend though…

    Its still not too late for him to ditch the ACTU – maybe 4-6 weeks left to do it before he gets accused of being a flip flopper if he does though.

  4. As a matter of interest Edward are you predicting the trend to continue downward? My prediction is that both Newspoll and ACNeilsen will show a slight fall but nothing like Galaxy. If that proves to be the case Galaxy will have some questions to answer. Already Morgan has at least put a question mark over the downward trend. How on earth does one poll give a party a primary vote of 44% while another poll taken on the same weekend gives that party 51%. Clearly, one is way off. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

  5. Could be Gary, Whatever happens in October/November it will good if Rudd is put under some pressure and earns it rather than just having it fall into his lap.

  6. Mr Speaker, Barnaby said words to that effect at the last election. Not impressed with the burning lesbians at stake controversy.

  7. Speaker, Hanson is past her peak. She was white hot in 1998 and is now only in it if she gets more back from public funding than she puts in. Again, you overestimate the power of commercial media and would suggest you listen to the ABC more often to see why Andren has it all over Hanson. United Australia – hmm, worked so well for John Siddons.

    She will have lost a lot of her support base for three reasons: first, because she has modified her views a bit (or at least been less gratuitously offensive) which her base will interpret as “selling out”. Second, her base is made up of geriatrics who are not able to spend ten hours standing outside a polling booth. Third, One Nation won’t lie down and will create a spat that will shun support.

    Her preferences could be important for he conservatives in tight contests, such as Dawson (Q). Boswell will have to get preferences from Hanson, One Nation, a coalition of militant Christians/gun owners/conspiracy freaks, FF and that mate of Barnaby’s who lost preselection. If those three lock him out or direct preferences to the Libs, whose vote will go to Rudd, Boswell is finished.

  8. Sorry Andrew E I don’t believe there is a dormant political constituency awaiting Andren’s clarion call. I also do think that there is a relevance to ad-spend, just as there is a need for HTV’s. I’m sure that having someone handing out HTV’s can affect your vote by anything up 3% of total vote (yes, I’ve tried to do empirical studies, but the best you can get is a guestimate) – which would, in the instances I was examining a doubling of the vote. Evidence for ad-spend making a difference? The $250k spent by the Shooters Party at the last state election – they had almost no media coverage but performed much better than expected. They ad advertising across the state (not tv though) and access to registered shooters across the state – which they would have had to pay to contact. The money can make a difference in letting people know you exist. And I agree with others that te so-called ‘doctor’s wives’ syndrome may or may not turn consider Andren – but they are much more likely to turn out for Rudd.

    And Adam is quite right – at present the polling is showing that both ALP and Libs are sitting at or just under 3 quota’s apiece. There is every likelihood that this wont change so significantly – and there’ll still be 20% of the vote washing about for minors and indi’s to gather up – the trick is getting to NOT flow to either of the majors, and thats going to be the hard part.

  9. Stewart J,

    I’m relying on my memory, but in 1970 we handed out HTVs at Midhurst for the first time. The DLP vote went from a single digit to 25 or 30 per cent. HTVs make a difference. Okay, a small sample – maybe I should work for Galaxy.

  10. Stewart, there are only seven quotas to be had, and only six of them elect Senators, so if Labor and Coalition get three quotas each, there is only 14.3%, not 20%, left for the minors, and preference flows won’t matter. I have tried to explain this piece of simple arithmetic about ten times here and people keep making the same errors. It won’t matter if Andren or Nettle poll 10 or even 12% (which they won’t), they CANNOT be elected if the major parties have six quotas between them.

  11. In a double dissolution the quota is 7.69%.

    The Coalition will probably retain the abillity to block bills in the Senate (they only have to win 19 out of 40 this year to do so) so a DD is likely next year if Labor wins.

    The Greens could get that in each of the states and aproaching enough for 2 (including preferences) in Tasmania.

  12. Except that DD elections tend to be polarising and the minors are likely to be squeezed out – as per the DLP in 1974. This was not so true at the last DD in 1987, when the Dems won 7 seats, but that was a pretty phony DD. If we have a DD on IR in 2008, it won’t be phony, it will be very bitter and very polarising and I doubt the Greens will do nearly as well as you suggest.

  13. Adam fumed: Stewart, there are only seven quotas to be had, and only six of them elect Senators, I have tried to explain this piece of simple arithmetic about ten times here and people keep making the same errors.

    The formula for the quota for V votes for N seats is actually Q = 1+ V/(N+1). To many, it does seem illogical that the quota for 6 seats is one-seventh of the vote. But, think of this analogy: The quota for a single-member seat is one half of the vote plus 1, not all of it. Plug in 1 for N and see what happens. Another way of looking at it is to see that when 6 Senators each have a quota, then by definition, there is less than 1 quota left unaccounted for, so no further Senators can be elected.

    The counting system for a single member constituency is actually the same as for the multi-member Senate. You can actually test this on the myriad of proportional distribution programs that float about these days. Well, at least mine doesn;t fall over if I tell it to calculate for the election of 1 member.

  14. I see Bryan has just closed down the comments section of his blog due to the amount of time he has had to spend to moderate partisan comments. By “partisan” I think he meant nasty and abusive. I hope this site can mainain a civilised level of debate.

  15. Chris, if Bryan had meant abusive I think he would’ve said so. More likely he was unhappy with zealotry IMHO. Unfortunately, not only has he blocked comments, we can’t even read commetns that were posted prior so it’s hard to say what if anything pushed him over the edge. All a bit unseemingly sudden IMHO again.

    As for Andren, his reputation may see him through but it’s a tough ask and I don’t envy him.

  16. Amber, I think you owe Bryan a bit more grace than that. He paid for the bandwidth all those comments of yours have chewed up over the years. Whatever reason he wants to close comments for is his own business. Probably he just couldn’t be stuffed with it any more, which is entirely his right.

  17. William, what, it’s graceless to give him credit that he would call a spade a spade? Or to opine that he was unhappy about zealotry? You also give me too much credit, I was there only a year or so.

    Yes, Bryan paid for bandwidth and I did my bit to try to add value to his site by trying to be objective or at least semi-rational. But IMHO he and all hosts have a responsibility to their guests of not just suddenly disappearing into the night. “I’m thinking of closing all comments completely next week” would not have gone astray. There were some worthy contributions by various posters and those contributions deserved more respect than they have now received.

    No disrespect intended to the host of The Poll Bludger in only my second post here, banging on about someone else’s site. I did try in my first post to stay on topic but I couldn’t let William’s post go unanswered. Also, while responsibilities of guests to hosts are fairly well known, responsibilities of hosts to guests are rarely discussed so here was an opportunity to raise it. Don’t wish to hijack the thread, though.

    Difficult decision by Andren. He must’ve seen the writing on the wall. I guess he thought Senate was his out. If he’s out, he’s out and gets on with another life; if he gets in, he’s set for some time.

  18. I must admit, I am saddened by Bryan’s decision. I posted on that site for over 2 years and really enjoyed the lively and very amusing discussions I got into with other people. I find myself in agreement with Amber here (this is very rare ;), that sudden decision which occurred without any notice and completely unexpectedly was very harsh, bordering on impolite. It also completely ignored the intelligent and worthy contributions of many posters which I found a pleasure to read. Yes, it is Bryan’s site and it is his property – but it is also my right to state my opinion.

    My two cents.

  19. hmm, William is the host, after looking around a bit more. Sorry for talking to two different people and for not realising you are the host, William. I agree Bryan has the right to close comments if he wishes. I stand by what I said.

  20. Amber,

    Bryan more than once asked posters to cut the abuse. He then introduced log-ins as a step to reducing it. He then introduced the red and yellow card system. I rarely posted there in the end because I couldn’t be bothered wading through the abuse. I am still a little disappointed that the comments on the site have gone, but that is Bryan’s right. What I fear is an influx here of those who think personal nastiness and hyperbole are the way to conduct political discussion.

  21. It’s a sad loss, whatever the reason. There were a few interesting posters, some with specialist knowledge of polling and stats, others with inside local info, and it was always hot out of the blocks with the latest polls. Let’s hope that Bryan’s own interpretations continue.

    This one has less tranparent partisanship from posters and very prudently avoids the personal, mostly. I suspect Bryan despaired of some of this.

    Back to topic. I’d love to see Andren survive for the sake of parliamentary integrity. But it seems a big ask in the big sea of the Senate. Would probably need lots of volunteers at booths around the state, and a bit of luck with the preference fall.

  22. Andren should ditch his bid for the senate and try to hold Calare.

    What’s the point in running for the senate anyway when you already have a federal seat ? With lower house BOP, he has a chance of deciding who wins government, an incredibly powerful position.

    Maybe he would prefers the senates review role ?

  23. Bryan in my view persevered for far longer than he had to. I would have cut out comments long ago.

    He repeatedly attempted to get people to obey his rules and they repeatedly did not. He was well entitled to shut it down.

  24. “Except that DD elections tend to be polarising and the minors are likely to be squeezed out – as per the DLP in 1974. This was not so true at the last DD in 1987, when the Dems won 7 seats, but that was a pretty phony DD.”

    Nor at the previous one in 1983. Which means that minors have done well in exactly half of the four DDs in the last 50 years, so your first statement is a bit stronger than what is really supported by history.

    It’s a pretty big call to say that the Greens wouldn’t be able to get >7% in most states at a DD, even if it was a bitterly divisive one (which at this stage is something of an assumption. Would an ALP government risk going to a DD if it was likely to be genuinely divisive?)

    On the Andren matter I would have to agree that it seems a pretty long shot. As Adam suggests, he would have to drag enough primaries off the coalition to get them well below 3 quotas ie down to something like 38% at most (or the Greens do the same to the ALP but Andren outpolls the Greens, which seems to me less likely).

    However without changing that assessment I do wonder if there will be any increase in split voting, particularly from swinging coalition voters, resulting from the ‘surprise’ result last time.

  25. The results of a DD were covered in another Pollbludger thread but I’ll summarise what I said at the time:

    – The quota would be 7.7% (100/13)
    – Any party who can get more than 4% will probably win a seat.
    – The Greens would get a seat in every state, and two in tassie
    – Family First would win 2-4 senate seats (Sa, Qld, Vic maybe Tas)
    – The CDP would win 1 or 2 (Nsw, maybe WA)
    – Pauline Hansen would become a senator (Pauline + One Nation was 7% in 2004)

    A new point:
    – Andren still wouldn’t win a senate seat. 1-2% isn’t enough.

  26. Speaker, I don’t agree. At a DD, 5 quotas is 38.5% and 6 quotas is 46.2%. In every state, both Labor and the Coalition will get 5 quotas, and in most states one side or the other will get 6 quotas. In a polarised DD, it is quite possible that both sides will get 6 quotas in some states. There will thus only be at most one spot left in each state for minor parties. The Greens would probably get three or four, Fielding might get back. I’d be very surprised if the CDP or Hanson got up.

  27. Speaker- Do the Greens need the Senate ticket of one of the major parties to have a shot of getting up -(thats if they dont get 3 a peice on primary votes) ? ie Are they going to nee ALP help, I would think so. Happy to be corrected given my limited maths and L plate status. Cheers.

  28. The Speaker – do you really think there would be three cross-benchers in Queensland (Hanson, Greens and FFP)? It’s hard for me to see minor party and independent candidates getting 23% of the vote, even distributed after preferences.

  29. What exactly *is* the procedure for an enlargement of parliament? Is it as simple as legislating for more seats?

    Also, what is the seating capacity of the House of Representatives? You’d think they would have designed it with a substantial potential increase in mind, but there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of room left.

  30. On television you can sometimes see there are quite a few unused seats to the ALP`s left (just to the the Speaker`s left of opposite the Speaker).
    I gess the extra space to be for around 50 extra (200 total) with coresponding spare capacity in the Senate.

  31. Thanks Tom. I found the House of Reps seating guide. You’re quite correct in that there is indeed space for 200 MHRs, although it would be quite cosy if the Parliament was that size and you had MPs from diferring parties stuck sitting next to each other.

    The Senate only has 90 seats, although they are seemingly quite spread out so I guess there’s space available for a refit if necessary. It’s curious that they didn’t design it with 100 Senators in mind, seeing as how the Senate is required to be as close to half the size of the House as possible.

  32. Charlie, the new parliament house was designed to allow substanital expansin for both Houses. I think it was to have a 200-year lfespan, but that seems a bit short to me. the constitution requires that theSenate be half the size of he House. A referendum held to remove this nexus in order t dilute the power of the Senate in a DD was defeated in 1967, the DLP being the only party to campaign against it, though individual Lberal senators like ian Wood and Reg Wright also did.

  33. So I presume there must be space available to expand the House and Senate chambers (ie the rooms themselves) then.

    Incidentally I just checked on Adam Carr’s archive the typical size of electorates in 1983. Although the range was massive (from about 65,000 up to just over 100,000) across the five mainland states (remembering that Tasmania is a special case) the typical electorate was around 80,000.

    In 2004 the range was 75,000 to just under 101,000. Only two electorates across the mainland states have less than 80,000 electors and the typical electorate is around 90,000.

    It appears to be time for another enlargement, on that basis. Perhaps to 180 MHRs and 90 Senators (14 per state, 3 per territory).

  34. Further, with 180 electoral divisions the average size across the country would be about 73,000 (based on enrolment at the 2004 election). That works out to at least:
    NSW: 59
    Vic: 45
    Qld: 34
    WA: 17
    SA: 14
    Tas: 5
    ACT: 3
    NT: 1

    I have left two of the 180 seats unallocated, because NSW, Victoria, SA and NT are all entitled to approximately one extra seat. NT would certainly get one of those and presumedly the other would go to the state, of those three, whose population growth rate is currently fastest. My guess is that this would be Victoria?

  35. If those states have the population for over half a seat then they would get a whole seat. So if they all had just over half then they would all get an extra seat

    14 senators per state would mean 84 state senators and the seat allocation is based on the number of senators from states so it would be 168 divided by 21 millionish.

  36. Thanks for the clarification Tom.

    Whilst waiting for the QT replay for the HoR I started to jot down some potential names for new electorates. Here’s what I’ve come up with. Incidentally, note that I’ve ignored the custom that only deceased people have divisions named after them in the case of Prime Ministers.

    NSW: (William) McMahon, (Gough) Whitlam, (Paul) Keating, (Donald) Bradman, (Fred) Hollows, (Charles) Perkins, (Doc) Evatt, (Henry) Lawson, (Neville) Wran, (Garfield) Barwick, (Roden) Cutler.

    Victoria: (Malcolm) Fraser, (Bob) Hawke, (Henry) Bolte, (Margaret) Guilfoyle, (Weary) Dunlop, (John) Monash, (Tom) Roberts, (Sydney) Nolan, (John) Latham.

    South Australia: (Douglas) Nicholls, (Howard) Florey, (Douglas) Mawson, (Don) Dunstan, (Thomas) Playford.

    ACT: Ngunnawal (after traditional owners of Canberra), (Manning) Clark.

    The two states I’m struggling with are…
    WA: (Charles) Court, (Kim E. and Kim C.) Beazley, Nyoongar (after traditional owners of Perth)

    Qld: (Eddie) Mabo, (Bill) Hayden, (Jim) Killen.

  37. If you were going to enlarge parliament, adding 4 senate seats per state would be the way to go.

    So instead of 6 senators per state per half senate, you’d have 8.

    8 * 2 * 6 states = 96 State Senators
    + 2 NT + 2 ACT = 100 Senators
    The constitution says the HOR must be roughly 2 * Senate
    so HOR now has 200 members.

    Nice round numbers.

  38. SA has state seats named after Florey and Playford. Nicholls does not register in SA (he was a Victorian). Bradman spent most of his life in SA even though he came from NSW.

  39. I left out Bjelke-Petersen (and Theodore for that matter) on the basis that someone who was so blatantly corrupt should not be honoured by having an electorate division named after them. I thought Ted Theodore was a line ball choice, but Joh should certainly not be honoured.

    Gair was one I thought of – would be a rather controversial choice, though. 😉

    Do you mean Elizabeth Kenny? That’s a good get. So is P.L. Travers (I had no idea the author of Mary Poppins was an Australian).

    Steele Rudd is a difficult one, as it could preclude naming an electorate after a likely Prime Minister. For that same reason I should have noted above that I imagined abolishing the ACT division of Fraser and creating a new division of Fraser named after Malcolm. Prime Ministers should get precedence. Although I agree he would be a deserving candidate, perhaps it should wait until a Qld electorate could be named after both Rudds.

  40. If 4 senators were added to each state then there would be 96 state senators and so there would be around 192 state MHRs plus probably 5 terratorial MHRs (territorial representatives do not get counted in the twice the Senate calculation).

Comments Page 2 of 3
1 2 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *