Welcome to part two in a behind-schedule seven-part series on the various Senate contests.
Along with Western Australia and South Australia, Victoria is one of three states where the Coalition has never failed to win three Senate seats since six-seat half-Senate elections began in 1990. Labor has fallen short on four of six occasions, the remaining seat going to the Democrats in 1990, 1996 and 2001 and to Family First in 2004. The latter outcome was one of two extraordinary Senate results from 2004, the other being the Coalition’s fourth seat in Queensland. Family First’s 1.8 per cent share of the vote was substantially lower than in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, but in Victoria the party was privy to hugely significant preference deals with Labor and the Democrats (which also applied in Tasmania, where their candidate narrowly failed to squeeze Greens candidate Christine Milne out of the sixth seat). Preferences from One Nation and others put Family First’s Steve Fielding clear of the DLP (1.9 per cent), the Democrats (1.9 per cent) and Liberals for Forests (1.8 per cent), whose preferences he absorbed in turn. That was enough to put him clear of Labor’s third candidate, incumbent Jacinta Collins, who was left with a disappointing 9.2 per cent surplus over Labor’s second quota. At this point Labor’s deal with Family First activated in the opposite direction, delivering Fielding a seat at the expense of Greens candidate David Risstrom.
With no single minor party emerging a clear winner from the preference harvesting game, this year’s election is likely to be a more straightforward affair. Labor is giving preferences directly to the Greens, and the Democrats have both major parties ahead of Family First. There is still an outside chance of Family First winning a seat if it matches its 4.3 per cent lower house vote from the state election, and if the Coalition vote sinks into the low to mid-thirties, but it is more likely to be a question of who out of the Greens, the Coalition and Labor will miss out on one of the last two seats. On 2004 figures, this contest would start from 8.7 per cent for the Greens, 17.1 per cent surplus for the Coalition (their surplus over the second quota) and 9.2 per cent for Labor. From this point the Greens will be boosted by preferences from the Democrats, the Climate Change Coalition, the Socialist Alliance and What Women Want; the Coalition by Family First, the DLP, the Christian Democratic Party, the Citizens Electoral Council and the Non-Custodial Parents Party; and Labor by One Nation, the Shooters Party, the Liberty and Democracy Party and Senator On-Line.
This election is certain to see the return to the Senate of Jacinta Collins (left), who lost her seat to Steve Fielding in 2004. Collins came to the Senate in 1995 after 15 years with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which dominates the Catholic Right faction with which she remains associated. Collins assumes the top position on the Labor ticket left vacant by the retirement of Robert Ray, following a turf war which delivered a win for the SDA over the Right sub-faction associated with Bill Shorten. The latter group supported assistant national secretary David Feeney, who ended up winning the number three spot at the expense of National Union of Workers hopeful Andres Puig. Michael Bachelard reported in The Australian that some in the Right believed Collins won backing from the NUW in exchange for promised SDA support for Martin Pakula’s unsuccessful bid to oust Simon Crean in Hotham.
The Coalition runs joint tickets in Victoria by a long-standing arrangement in which the Nationals take the second and fourth position at alternating elections. This election gives the Nationals fourth place, meaning only Liberal candidates can be regarded as serious contenders. The precarious long-term future of the arrangement was indicated when the Nationals Senator, Julian McGauran, defected to the Liberals in January 2006. None of the three Coalition Senators elected in 2001 is seeking re-election: Richard Alston retired in March 2004, and Rod Kemp and Kay Patterson will depart when their terms end in the middle of next year. The Coalition ticket will be headed by former Peter Costello adviser Mitch Fifield (left), who filled the casual vacancy created by Alston’s departure. Fifield won preselection on that occasion ahead of former Menzies Research Centre director John Roskam, after brief speculation that Michael Kroger or even Jeff Kennett might be contenders. The next two positions have gone to Helen Kroger (centre), former state party president and ex-wife of Michael Kroger, and Scott Ryan (right), party vice-president and government affairs manager at GlaxoSmithKline. An unsuccessful contender was Bev McArthur, wife of Corangamite MP Stewart McArthur and a member of the party faction associated with Kennett. The preselection of Fifield, Kroger and Ryan marked a clean sweep for the rival Costello-Kroger forces.
The remaining incumbent seeking re-election is Democrats leader Lyn Allison (left), who was elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2001. With the future looking extremely dim for the Democrats, it is far more likely that the final seat will be won by the Greens, who have never previously won a Victorian Senate seat. Their lead candidate is Richard di Natale (centre), a humanitarian doctor who spends much of his time on HIV prevention work in India. Di Natale came within a few per cent of defeating Labor’s Bronwyn Pike in the state electorate of Melbourne in both 2002 and 2006, winning Senate preselection ahead of the narrowly unsuccessful candidate from 2004, David Risstrom. The Family First candidate is Geelong financial planner Gary Plumridge (right).
The substance of the various parties’ preference arrangements can be distilled as follows:
CLIMATE CHANGE COALITION: Democrats; Greens; Family First; NCPP; Shooters; CCE; LDP; Carers; Labor; WWW; SOL; SEP; DLP; Coalition; CEC; SA; CDP; One Nation.
ONE NATION: Family First; DLP; CDP; Shooters; NCPP; LDP; CEC; CCE; SOL; WWW; Carers; CCC; SEP; SA; Democrats; Labor; Coalition; Greens.
DEMOCRATS: Carers; CCC; WWW; Greens; SA; half (Labor; Coalition), half (Coalition; Labor); CCE; SOL; LDP; DLP; NCPP; SEP; Family First; Shooters; CEC; CDP; One Nation.
WWW: Greens; Democrats; SA; Labor; SOL; CCC; SEP; LDP; CDP; Carers; DLP; CCE; Coalition; NCPP; Shooters; One Nation; Family First; CEC.
SENATOR ON-LINE: Carers: CCE; CCC; WWW; LDP; NCPP; Democrats; Labor; Greens; Coalition; DLP; Family First; SEP; SA; One Nation; Shooters; CDP; CEC.
LABOR: Greens; CCC; SOL; LDP; Shooters; SEP; SA; Carers; WWW; DLP; Democrats; Family First; CCE: CDP; Coalition; NCPP; One Nation; CEC.
SHOOTERS: Labor; CDP; Family First; One Nation; DLP; Carers; Coalition; CCC; CCE; NCPP; CEC; LDP; SOL; WWW; Democrats; SEP; SA; Greens.
COALITION: Family First; DLP; CDP; Carers; CCE; CCC; Democrats; LDP; NCPP; Shooters; WWW; SOL; Greens; Labor; SEP; SA; One Nation; CEC.
FAMILY FIRST: CDP; LDP; LDP; CCE; CCC; One Nation; NCPP; Shooters; Carers; WWW; Coalition; Labor; SOL; SA; CEC; Democrats; Greens.
LIBERTY AND DEMOCRACY PARTY: CCE; One Nation; Labor; Family First; Coalition; Shooters; Democrats; DLP; SOL; WWW; CDP; Labor; CCC; Carers; NCPP; Greens; CEC; SA.
DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY: CDP; Family First; Shooters; NCPP; CCE; LDP; Coalition; Labor; One Nation; SOL; Carers; Democrats; CCC; SEP; WWW; Greens; CEC; SA.
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: DLP; Family First; Shooters; Carers; Coalition; NCPP; One Nation; SOL; CEC; LDP; Labor; CCE; WWW; CCC; Democrats; SEP; SA; Greens.
CITIZENS ELECTORAL COUNCIL: Coalition; Carers; One Nation; Shooters; DLP; CDP; NCPP; SOL; WWW; Democrats; LDP; SA; SEP; Family First; CCE; CCC; Labor; Greens.
NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS PARTY: Carers; One Nation; CDP; Family First; CCC; CEC; SOL; Shooters; LDP; DLP; CCE; Coalition; Democrats; Labor; WWW; SEP; SA; Greens.
SOCIALIST ALLIANCE: Greens; WWW; SEP; Labor; Democrats; Carers; CCC; SOL; Coalition; LDP; DLP; CCE; Shooters; NCPP; Family First; CDP; CEC; One Nation.
GREENS: Democrats; Carers; WWW; SA; CCC; SOL; Labor; CCE; SEP; half (Coalition; DLP; Family First; LDP; NCPP; CDP; Shooters; One Nation; CEC), half (DLP; Family First; LDP; NCPP; NCPP; CDP; Shooters; One Nation; CEC; Coalition).
CARERS: WWW; SA; CCC; SEP; SOL; NCPP; CCE; Shooters; LDP; Democrats; Greens; Family First; Coalition; Labor; One Nation; CDP; DLP; CEC.