Games people play

Close analysis of the Senate voting tickets is, as always, like lifting up a rock and gazing in revolted fascination at what slithers beneath. I have only examined the New South Wales tickets to this point, but this has been enough to make clear that two minor parties which clothe themselves in sanctimony have been playing the lowest political games imaginable. The first culprit is Family First, which has cut deals with the Liberty and Democracy Party (whose policies include “re-legalisation of recreational marijuana use by adults”) and Pauline Hanson’s new party (representing a strain of right-wing politics from which Family First has always been very keen to distance itself), both of which have been placed higher than Family First’s natural philosophical ally, Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

The other is the Climate Change Coalition, which has put the Fishing Party higher than everybody except the Democrats and What Women Want. One wonders how those taken in by the Climate Change Coalition brand name would feel if they knew they were voting against the extension of marine parks. There is a very real chance they will end up finding out the hard way – the Fishing Party has been tightly preferenced by a range of right-wing micro parties as well as Family First, which also has them ahead of the CDP. When all these votes are added together, it’s entirely possible that the Greens will be overtaken by the Fishing Party’s Garth Bridge. Throw a Coalition surplus into the mix, and the Fishing Party could very well win a seat that would otherwise have gone to the Greens. I hope Patrice Newell has a good time explaining that one to her fellow travellers on the arts-luvvie cocktail party circuit. And I say all that before I’ve even gotten around to considering the situation in Queensland, where the Climate Change Coalition has put Pauline Hanson ahead of Labor.

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.

83 comments on “Games people play”

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  1. Thanks Will. take another look at the ACT and provide a followup on your previous story if your can now that the Above-the-line preferences are available…

    if you can influence the pollsters to do a state by state Senate breakdown showing all parties that would be helpful also…

    Keep up the good work love your commentary. Its up there with landeryou’s blog (Which you have not provided a link to… …shame on you …)

    Seriously you provide the best election round-up in the state of the polls.

    Well done..

  2. I kind of like the look of that Liberty and Democracy party. As with most parties of this type, they’re not overly concerned with the consequences of their policies , just doing what they think is right. Ron Paul is another good example of that. I agree with most of their ‘victimless crimes’ that shouldn’t be crimes at all. Although they seem to think that anyone should be able to do whatever they want on public as well as private property. The whole point of public property is that it’s for everyone, and so standards should be observed. If you want to do drugs, run a brothel, and drive at 200KPH without a seatbelt on your own property, then you should be free to do so, I say.

  3. William

    I no longer read the polls before I have read your blog. And then it is only to collect the details that could be of interest. Maybe you should have a progressive poll graph widget displayed in the site bar.

    The main stream should engage you ion a regular column. But then if most people are like me I get my news source from the Internet and Google feeds…

    The dailies beware…

    How about publishing a summary of the Senate percentage thresholds thread … Using the calc… Only data number crunching and related comments no policy arguments… This could prove interesting…

  4. i’m sorry, i must comment. william, for the record it is incomprehensible to even mention your blog and landeryou’s in the same sentence. rest assured that quality and depth of your work vastly exceeds the literary chook scratchings of that entity. i only wish i’d stumbled across your blog earlier.

  5. “If you want to do drugs, run a brothel, and drive at 200KPH without a seatbelt on your own property, then you should be free to do so”

    It is not unlawful to drive at 200kmh without a seatbelt on private (not open to public) property, so go ahead and enjoy yourself without guilt.

  6. Are these preference deals set in stone or is there a “cooling off” period for late adjustments? Expertise, please?

  7. #6

    Thanks Antony, I can go to bed safe in the knowledge that ALP still on track for victory. 54/46 for the PM’s fav pollster is good news for us hopong for the end of the government.

  8. These preference deals would not be needed if they allowed preferential above the line voting so you can rank each of the groups in the order of your choice.
    It’s not that hard is it?

  9. Does anyone have Phillip Adams’ email address? I’m in the mood to fire off an email to Bazza McKenzie and his sheila to have a bit of a whinge.

  10. I used to think Patrice Newell was just ignorant about how upper house voting worked (she felt that not allocating preferences in NSW was “liberating” because it was being outside the ugly political process, or words to that), but now it seems she’s just Machiavellian.

    Their second preference in some states, The Democrats, were the first party to talk about climate change, but there’s really no excuse for not putting The Greens next.

  11. I’m surprised you’re all so shocked. In an earlier thread Adam made a comment about the worst election site – the Fishing Party’s. But if you read the info on that site you would have found a note that Glenn Druery, of micro-party prefernce games fame, was advising the Fishing Party on preferences. So, much is explained about the strategy they’ve put together by this fact!

  12. You can read into preferences way to much. It has little to do with policy and more to do with maximising outcomes.

    It is all in the order of exclusion (and level of support of course)

    A party that is serious about seeking representation as opposed to influencing the outcome has to cut the best deal with those that they think will poll less then them at the various stages of the count.

    It is the order of exclusion that will decide the fold-up.

    A good example of this is the 2004 Victorian Senate and the 2006 Western Victoria Regional ballot.

    Family first last time did a deal with the ALP they were the ones to beat. This time it looks like being the Liberal Party but I think that the two main parties are polling too close to create an upset in the preferences..

    In the end it is the parties that you think will still be standing at around the time your party is likely to be excluded Fromm the count that you need to consider. You want to receive the person who is going to be excluded before you to preference you ahead of those still remaining above you.

    You have to do deals and betray those closest to you, if you are to climb above the pact. A preference for a minor party means nothing if they are excluded before the party giving the preference. I

  13. Thanks for telling us the bleeding obvious MelbCity. But you ignore the point, which is that a party like CCC is blatently hypocritical if it preferences a fishing party above the Greens.
    What you are saying is that everyone is and shold be machiavellian in the way they allocate preferences. some readers are saying that they would prefer to vote for a party that has higher morality and purpose. The fact that CCC are betraying their stated principles suggets strongly they are just stooges for one of the major players, and you get an idea who that might be by looking at who they preference.

  14. Hey, wait, I don’t have a problem with Machiavellian schemes to get elected. It’s just that the CCC’s seems particularly wacky given that 8 months ago Patrice was singing a very different tune.

  15. The lets kill fish for fun party scored 0.04 quotas in NSW in 2004. As sleazy as it might be preferencing them, I don’t see it making much difference.

  16. Mad Cow, Glenn Druery of Liberals for Forests scored ever fewer votes than the Fishing Party, but he ended up being the second last candidate eliminated. That was in a context where both major parties won three seats each. This time we might reasonably expect that the Liberals will only win two, which means they will have a big surplus available as preferences for anyone who isn’t Labor or the Greens. And guess who’s popped up as the Fishing Party’s “election campaign strategist and organizer”? Why, none other than Glenn Druery. And going by these Senate tickets, he hasn’t lost his touch.

  17. It’s also worth examining the huge number of preferences that end up with the CCC. I did my own run-through where the CCC ended up winning over the Greens, and that was with a quite optimistic Green figure.

  18. Speaking of, Games People Play.

    On SA Radio 891, as I drove home, listened to a woman, representing herself as an aggrieved Ex Ex wife, forever excluded, The Brethren.

    I am absolutely sure that I have heard this person on radio, in the recent past.

    The ABC commentator, Rod Quinn probably, was taken in entirely, it seemed, by the nonsense this person was proposing.

    It is so weird. What, exactly, could she be suggesting?

    She seems to be representing the same peculiar and puzzling point of view that the likes of Glen hold.

    Loves but hates the EB. Loves her husband, who has left her forever, for the EB.

    What do these people hope to gain?

  19. Correction, maybe.

    It was likely not Rod Quinn, but John, a little earlier, late night ABC radiol

    And guess what?

    Perhaps what may be said on this site may attract the attention of the ABC.

    It is pretty difficult to have the ABC sit up and take notice, of any critique of their broadcast, unchallenged, rubbish.

  20. So I’m gonna keep focusing on NSW.

    There’s three microparties who I could see getting somewhere at first glance on their preferences. These are the Fishing Party (as William has already indicated), Climate Change Coalition and the Carers Alliance. Out of the three I can only see the CCC having a substantial (say, more than 1%) vote, having a bit more public profile and a nice-and-shiny name.

    I did this analysis of each ticket running, and how many parties their preferences pass through before getting to the Fishing Party.

    Socialist Alliance, Greens, WWW, the Democrats, Woldring, Labor, SEP and Carers all put them so far down that they won’t go that way.

    Lib/Nats – CDP, FF, Carers Alliance
    CEC – Libs, Dems, CDP, ON, Pauline
    FF – Carers, LDP, CCC, CCE
    Pauline – ON, Shooters, LDP, CCC, Carers
    CCC – Dems, WWW
    LDP – HoV, Bryce
    Bryce – Straight to Fishing Party
    HoV – LDP
    SOL – Carers, CCE, CCC, WWW, LDP, HoV
    CCE – SOL, HoV, LDP, CCC, FF, Bryce
    DLP – CDP, FF
    CDP – FF, DLP, Shooters, Carers, HoV, ON
    ON – Pauline
    NCPP – Pauline, Carers
    Shooters – CDP, Pauline, ON, FF, Libs, CCC, CCE, Carers, Tinyow
    Tinyow – Libs, ON, Shooters, Carers

    So I’m gonna categorise them into groups:
    Class 1 – CEC, LDP, Bryce, Hear Our Voice, Senator On-Line, Conservatives for Climate and Environment, the DLP, the NCPP and Tinyow – people with really no voter base or chance.
    Class 2 – FF, Pauline, CCC, CDP, ON, Shooters, Libs/Nats

    If you knock out the whole first group, you come up with this:
    Lib/Nats – CDP, FF
    CEC – Libs, Dems, CDP, ON, Pauline
    FF – CCC
    Pauline – ON, Shooters, CCC
    CCC – Dems
    LDP – Fishing
    Bryce – Fishing
    HoV – Fishing
    SOL – CCC
    CCE – CCC, FF
    DLP – CDP, FF
    CDP – FF, Shooters, ON
    ON – Pauline
    NCPP – Pauline
    Shooters – CDP, Pauline, ON, FF, Libs, CCC
    Tinyow – Libs, ON, Shooters

    So the microparties end up with these parties:
    Libs/Nats – CEC, Tinyow
    Fishing – LDP, Bryce, HoV
    CCC – SOL, CCE
    CDP – DLP
    Pauline – NCPP

    Which really isn’t that much in the way of preferences for the Fishing Party.

    It’s always possible they could get ahead of a couple of these parties, but my judgement is that it really isn’t enough to get ahead. Even if they get ahead of the CDP, their votes go to Family First. If Shooters ge knocked out they go through a whole bunch of stages before they get to Fishing.

    There’s a lot of “what if”s here. I think the decision of Labor and Democrats to opt out of these wheelings and dealings has really hurt them.

    I’ll try and have a stab at the chances for the CCC, which I think is a lot stronger.

  21. Crikey, perhaps the relationship between Liberal voters (the kind who aren’t rich and don’t own a big business) and Liberal Governments is a bit like that of wives and abusive husbands. They know they should leave, but…

  22. Ben @28, The way that looks to me is, the surplus from the liberals which might be large (lets say the libs get 2.6 quotas) might end up electing either a FF or a CCC, and the difference lies in the subtleties of order of elimination.

    God help us if we end up with another FF 🙁

  23. Yet another reason to abolish the ludicrous and undemocratic practice of allowing unelected hacks to direct a voter’s preferences.

    I think the ATL system is an international embarassment. Its our Florida Supreme court.

    Optional BTL now!

  24. Thanks for giving me another reason not to preference CCC high up ;-). While they have put Labor above the Libs, they are still not very nice are they? …

  25. Am I right in thinking the Greens have put One Nation ahead of the Liberals in SA? Seems extraordinary, but maybe I’m just naive.

  26. People have been asking me whether they should vote for Climate Change Coalition or the Greens. It’s an easy choice. They might put in a loony if the preferences flow from CCC.
    In the end the CCC have almost no chance of getting someone in but they will steal votes from a party genuinely concerned about global warming (not the Republican PR phrase “climate change”).

  27. The Climate Change Coalition lied to a lot of the Micro parties to secure preferences, the chief negotiator, a John Harvey is a very sweet talker and a multi-millionaire with interests in the Hunter Valley (mmmm Coal mines).
    Can’t help but wonder what this group is really about.

    Have another look at the preferences, no one as suggested the CDP for a chance yet.

  28. Lefty E at 31 – I totally agree with you about optional BTL voting for the senate. People should make a really serious push for this to be introduced, and above the line voting to be abolished, regardless of what happens in this election.

  29. Polly Morgan @ 36, Lefty E @31:

    I find our senate voting system a ridiculous state of affairs.

    The crazy thing is, hardly anyone in the general public realises that they might end up passing their vote to a party they heartily disagree with (eg. Greens -> Family First in 2004).

    If the whole ‘above the line’ thing is to be allowed, the parties preferences should be listed clearly on the ballot paper so people can see the grubby little deals they have done. This always annoys me greatly, and whenever I point it out to family or friends that are likewise horrified.

  30. The Fishing Party have next to no chance. The Climate Change Coalition are favourites to pool the micro vote and the CDP are the next best bet. Having said that Marise Payne remains the hot favourite but The Greens will give her a run for her money if the polls remain as they have all year.

    The fact that the CCC have put The Greens ahead of CDP and other micro right wingers (except The Fishing Party) pretty much ruins the CDPs chances unless the Liberal vote collapsed in a big way – but its hard to see Libs getting less than 2.5 quotas.

    The most likely outcome then is that the CCC amass the micro vote but still fall short of The Greens+ALP over quota and the Libs. CCC’s pile is then excluded and will deliver CCC, Dems, Pauline, and some very small micros to The Greens whilst the Libs get the rest. If The Greens + ALP vote is high enough (say 11% ish) then it could be enough – otherwise its another 3 – 3 split between the majors in NSW.

  31. “hardly anyone in the general public realises that they might end up passing their vote to a party they heartily disagree with (eg. Greens -> Family First in 2004).”

    What are you suggesting?? That greens vote flowed to family first in 2004?? How absurd. It was the ALP ABL vote that went to Family First while the Greens were hung out to dry by almost every party ‘cos all the others did deals based on short term expediency rather than securing desirable outcomes.

  32. Sorry, that was a typo. I meant ALP -> Family First. The ALP sold out and hardly anyone was any the wiser (happily, I voted for the Greens in 2004).

  33. Dyno @ 33, yes, but below Dems, ALP, and Xenophon. The vote won’t get to either. And, by the way, do you know Corey Bernardi, the Lib SA #1 Senator? If not, check him out. He’s worth putting last…

  34. By the way, the Climate Change Coalition have also preferenced Family First and Libs ahead of the Greens in WA. Although, with a very strong primary vote, and prefs from Labor, Scott Ludlam shouldn’t have much trouble there.

    2 other things to check out – note that in the ACT only the LDP have preferenced the Liberals above the Greens. Looks very good indeed for Kerrie Tucker over Gary HUmphries.

    Secondly, look closely at the Conservatives for Climate and Environment. They are sending preferences strongly to Libs and FF. Looks like a nice channeling strategy there…

  35. Thank you so much for pointing out what the CCC is up to, William. I’m going to yell and scream that from the rafters to all my friends and colleagues of a greenish hue–and I suggest everyone who feels likewise does the same.

    You can contact the Climate Change Coalition on their website at, by phone on 02 4998 6286, or by mail at PO Box 1008 CESSNOCK WEST NSW 2325.

    MarkTwain, Phillip Adams’ email address is: .

  36. Lefty @ 32

    Along with compulsory preferential voting, this has been one of my major bugbears for ages. I can’t understand how a system where you just say “I don’t feel like voting, I’ll just let a political party do it for me” is considered democratic. This election’s round of dodgy deals is absurd.

    [Optional BTL now!]

    I reckon if you have ten vacancies to fill, then it should be compulsory to number up to ten, after that it’s your choice.

  37. I still prefer the choice of OPV above and below the line. Number the boxes for the parties ATL and go BTL if you’re a tragic with strong/any opinions on the order of candidates on the parties’ tickets.


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