The Lord taketh away

The verdict from the McEwen recount is in: Labor candidate Rob Mitchell’s six vote win has been overturned, and Liberal member Fran Bailey declared re-elected by just 12 votes. This gives the result level pegging with the Liberals’ 1974 win in Stirling as the closest federal electorate result of modern times. Labor is still considering a legal challenge, but it’s an open question as to whether a re-match would really be in their interests. It seems very likely that we can now settle on a final result of 83 seats for Labor and 65 for the Coalition plus two independents. Two other recount demands await adjudication:

• The Greens will reportedy call for a recount for the Victorian Senate, a contentious move given that nearly 3.3 million ballots would need to be rechecked. Antony Green’s projection shows both the Coalition and Labor winning third seats upon the exclusion of eighth placed Family First, the Liberals doing so with a surplus of 21709 votes (0.68 per cent) and Labor with 6088 (0.19 per cent). At this point Greens candidate Richard di Natale is left stranded on 13.4 per cent, 0.9 per cent or 27804 votes short of a quota. This of course assumes that all votes are cast above the line, when there are in fact 65101 (2.05 per cent) below-the-line votes for which we presently have only first preference results. These are unlikely to make much difference, as most are votes for parties whose preference tickets favoured the Greens ahead of Labor. Much of the leakage would come from Liberals going below the line to ensure the Greens did not get their vote. Against this can be weighed Labor voters who gave their first preference to a Labor candidate before switching to the Greens, but past experience suggests this is unlikely to account for more than 10 per cent out of 14123. If the assumption of all votes behaving as ticket votes were to hold, the Greens would need for Labor to finish around 2000 votes below the quota after Family First’s exclusion, which is roughly 8000 less than they presently appear to have. The distribution of the Liberal surplus would then be enough to give di Natale the narrowest of victories. In support of their recount appeal, Greens spokesman Jim Buckell provided The Age with an interesting list of claimed irregularities: “309 Greens Senate votes from one booth were not recorded at all; in Isaacs 150 votes were missed; in Dunkley 173 Greens votes were recorded as 17; and in Gellibrand, some Greens votes were attributed to another minor party”. However, it seems most unlikely that the required average of around 215 votes per electorate would be found to have wrongly favoured Labor over the Greens.

• Labor candidate Jason Young’s request for a recount in Bowman following his 64-vote defeat has been knocked back by the divisional returning officer. Young is continuing to pursue his recount request further up the Australian Electoral Commission hierarchy, but one suspects he is unlikely to find any joy.

On a completely unrelated note, here is a chart I knocked together showing each state’s deviation from the national Labor two-party preferred vote going back to 1949.

The first thing to note is the hyperactivity of Tasmania, which can in large part be put down to its small population of five seats. Nonetheless, the results tell a story of a natural Labor state which turned around temporarily following the Whitlam government’s tariff cuts and Labor’s opposition to the Franklin dam at the 1983 election. The largest state by contrast has stayed within a narrow 5 per cent band on the Labor side of the ledger, dipping below the line only in 1987 and 1998. Victoria’s long-lost standing as the jewel in the Liberal crown looks very much like a symptom of the 1954 Labor split and the party’s subsequent paralysis at state level, and its Labor vote has only once fallen below the national result since 1980. The exception was the 1990 election which also proved aberrant for reliably conservative Queensland, state government factors providing the explanation in each case. It can also be seen that the Coalition’s relative strength in Western Australia at the 2007 election was matched only by 1961, there is nothing new about its conservative leaning.

On another completely unrelated note, I have just had to pay a fee to renew the domain. This wasn’t hugely expensive ($50 to be precise), but it nonetheless offers a good excuse to pass the hat around among those of you who enjoy giving me money.

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.

489 comments on “The Lord taketh away”

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  1. 443 Rain- Perhaps Comrade Rudd was listening to us about $100M not being enough for the waiting lists.
    447 Mayoferal- Are you getting as pis%ed off as me with the continual weather bureau predictions of rain and showers while our state turns into a dustbowl of biblical proportions? Adam needs to send St Kevin here fast.
    Ed- Those AWB boys are going to squeal all the way to jail. Their type do not go down without a fight and the Nuremberg defense may be invoked. I hope they’ve got some memos to prove Dolly was aware. I’m definitely gonna buy Kickback as a Christmas present!

  2. Here in Hobart, Heavenly Kevinly is holding off the rain until the cricket finisheth and we regaineth the Chappell-Hadlee trophy. Well, it’s over now, the trophy is won, so send ‘er down Kev! With a touch of Kevinly thunder too, by the looks of it.

  3. But never the less the Perthite will be able to afford airconditioning and innumerable desalination plants, courtesy of the riches of the land of fire and heat.

    Can’t we make ‘em suffer a bit?

    Perhaps we could be isolated in a remote corner of the world with our untold riches and left alone? If at first you don’t secede try try again.

    Sorry I’m only kidding of course. And Arbie Jay you are right there was some support from right thinking people!

  4. Now that Rudd had the Labor Council of Australian Governments meeting today, i think we need a Conservative Council of Australian Oppositions meeting.

  5. On a biblical theme, the Book of Jeremiah predicts the plight of the Libs, God’s favoured party according to the Rodent.
    “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”

  6. [Now that Rudd had the Labor Council of Australian Governments meeting today, i think we need a Conservative Council of Australian Oppositions meeting.]

    Surely they could just call it the Australian Council of Losers.

  7. That is what the ALP would call it ShowsOn and to be fair they have been losers ever since 2002.

    I suppose they are too wound up about merger speculations to hold meetings like that….

  8. Congratulations to the ALP in Victoria and their clear undisputed win of 3 senators.

    Greens quick to try and blame the Shooters Party for their loss.

    The Shooters Party represents 15,000 votes. The margin of the ALP win being greater then 100% of the Shooters party I guess the Greens think the Shooters should have supported them.

    Thank God we still live in a democracy and people have a free choice of who they vote for. Be it Family First, shooters or the Greens.

    The Greens are of the view that every one should preference the Greens first. After all it was only as a result of the Liberal Party sweet heart deal that the Greens even came as close to stealing Family First votes as the did.

    I did not know the Greens were a protected political species.

    Had the shooters party preference The liberal Party before the ALP and the Greens the Shooters Party would have had their vote devalued and added “unfair” bonus points transferred to the Greens. Making it a close handicapped race.

    Would the Greens be complaining about the fact that they won due to the stolen value of the Shooters/Family First vote? I think not the Greens are hypocrites when it comes to policy and true democratic values.

    If you have any doubt Ask Antony Green to swap the Shooters Preferences around and have them preference the Libs before the ALP and then look at the way the Liberal Surplus Transfer value is calculated. lol lol

  9. Why am I not suprised.

    “Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive Peter Hendy is leaving the position to become the chief of staff for Opposition Leader Dr Brendan Nelson.

    Mr Hendy has been with the ACCI for almost six years and will begin his new role with the Liberal Leader in the new year.

    Chamber director of Workplace Policy Peter Anderson will be the acting chief executive from January next year until a permanent appointment is made.”

  10. Interesting that La Nina was officially declared just days after the federal election. Drought-breaking rains in Queensland and NSW, and even loads of rain coming down here in Victoria this week.

    Since 1972, there have been 16 “wet” years in Australia, 13 of which occurred under Labor governments. And all but 3 of the driest years occurred under Coalition governments. Labor has just been re-elected federally, and BANG, the rains start pouring down.

    I think the farmers had better give up their addiction to the National Party and start voting for Labor.

  11. 449 – Diogenes – Yeah, thought things might be better once Keith Martin retired, but… Beginning to wonder if the bureau has sub contracted the forecasting to Shanahan and his fellow travellers. You know how good they are at predicting the future! 😉

  12. Noocat there is no proof that the ALP winning means the end of droughts havent Labor been in power in the States for many years and no drought broken until now but somehow Rudd winning means that the theory is valid pulease.

    Noocat there is a reason Farmers dont generally vote Labor, because Labor don’t give a toss about rural Australia and never have they are a city/workers Party that hasnt had the time for these Australians. The day the Nats lose all their seats to Labor will be a very strange day indeed, though i dont dispute the Dawson/Page results…

    So Says Glen

  13. Glen @ 458 said:

    Now that Rudd had the Labor Council of Australian Governments meeting today, i think we need a Conservative Council of Australian Oppositions meeting.

    Please let us know the time and the location of the phone box it’ll be meeting in so we can come and watch, Glen. 😉

  14. “Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive Peter Hendy is leaving the position to become the chief of staff for Opposition Leader Dr Brendan Nelson.”

    I don’t think Peter Hendy’s support or advice is going to help Lord Nelson very much. Hendy seems to be one of the most radically neo-conservative of the Liberal Party, something that was on full display in the lead up to the election as he aggressively supported WorkChoices and led big business into an advertising war with the Labor Party.

    The more I see and hear of Nelson, the more I am convinced that this man is a fool.

  15. Glen, don’t get too worked about it. It’s just a correlation between rainfall rates and FEDERAL governments. As interesting and bizarre that it is, it is not necessarily causal. Unless of course God actually does prefer the Labor party to be in power federally, despite Howard declaring the opposite during the election campaign.

    Even so, the National party has done little for their constituents in recent years. And in Victoria, it seemed that the state Labor party were FAR more interested in looking after the state’s farmers than the federal National party in the face of Howard’s hasty back-of-the-envelope water plan.

  16. Glen, John Kerin, Hawke’s Primary Industry minister was very highly regarded by the farmer organizations.

    At least he didn’t stuff up AWB, nor did a Labor government hand our most valuable wheat customer to the Yanks on a platter by helping them invade and take over Iraq. There’s always a long line of Yankee bulk carriers lined up to discharge their wheat at Basra but its been a long time since one carrying our wheat has been sighted. Iraqis have traditionally prefered ours to the American red winter wheat because its better for the type of bread they bake, but it’ll probably be a cold day in hell before Iraqs overlords let a grain of ours into that country again.

  17. Mayo but how many farmers are in the 1st Rudd Cabinet?

    Nobody stuffed up AWB but AWB Mayo, and if they dont want our wheat any more too bad we’ll sell it elsewhere…

    In fact how many farmers were elected for the ALP in 2007?

    I do not doubt Kerin’s efforts but the only bloke with a farming background got rolled in a messy pre-selection battle…and there is not one person with a farming background in Rudd’s Cabinet.

  18. Oh we can save money and forget about democracy just count the rain fall. I guess farmers win either which way.

  19. 469 MF- On that, weren’t the farmers considering a class action against the AWB for loss of earnings due to losing Iraq as a customer. That must be costing hundreds of millions. Are they going ahead with it?
    BTW In an otherwise good article, CO says “The penalties are frightening: fines up to $200,000 and disqualification from managing a corporation.” Seriously, $200000 is bugger all to these guys and I imagine they haven’t been overwhelmed with offers to join too many boards since they left the AWB. I just hope the civil cases expose enough evidence to help with the criminal cases but of course the standard of proof is less in the civil cases. Perhaps Dolly could go into David Hick’s cell in Yatala.

  20. Diogenes its one thing to accuse someone of breaking the law but its another to do so without any shred of proof i strongly suggest you refrain from insinuating that Former Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer was behind the bribes to Saddam or had direct knowledge of them taking place.

    Slander is very dangerous Diogenes especially when you accuse people of breaking the law.

  21. Glen- There is such a thing as culpable and criminal negligence. Downer was responsible for overseeing the contracts which were illegal and his office was alerted on thirty occasions of irregularities. Due to his failings, a very strong case could be made for criminal negligence IMHO. And that is assuming he didn’t know about the bribes.

  22. Dolly should be afraid, very afraid.

    ASIC won’t put up with his nonsense of “I don’t recall” “I can’t remember” answers that he gave 276 times to the Cole Royal Commission.

    Williams, Bond, Rivkin and Adler (I’ve been a naughty boy) were all put away by ASIC, Doly’s giggles won’t work at an ASIC hearing.

  23. 475- If Dolly couldn’t remember 276 times what he did while he was the Foreign Minister, it seems he wasn’t really paying attention when he went to work does it.

  24. I think you’ll find this election proved what we already knew that the Nats are in gradual decline (losing Dawson, Flynn and Page), the election before it was Richmond, while the Libs have consolidated their position in Farrer, Groom, Hume et al. If they lose another two or three seats they are going to lack much of a force in any future Coalition government (they’ll get agriculture and something like veteran affairs if they are lucky). Also when the Liberals return to government even in a tight election, they will probably be able ignore Nats support to pass legislation in the HoR, and come close to having a Senate majority without the Nats (I think the Nats will have to fight for the 3rd Senate spot in Qld, and there may be split tickets in a few states where the Nats will struggle to get even near a full quota, and will be in a fight even with surplus Liberal Senate votes to get Senate spots)

    If I was to get my crystall ball out, these seats would all be in Labor’s targets:

    Hinkler (if it wasn’t for Neville’s popularity and the redistribution this seat would have fallen to Labor)
    Lyne (Will Vaile stay or go?)
    Cowper (Labor realised too late that this was a winnable seat)
    Gippsland (if McGauran retires, expect a Lib to pick it up, but it could still be a bolter if Labor finds a good local candidate)

    Parkes and Calare were close scrapes against an independent. Leaving the Nats with Maranoa, Wide Bay, Mallee and Riverina to count as a safe seats, and when you factor in future local member retirements the Nats will lose Maranoa and possibly Wide Bay to the Libs. Which reminds me of that Shawn McAllef sketch on “Newstopia” about the Young Nationals having to raise the age of the Young Nats to 60 to find candidates, which seemed a rather prescient observation about the lack of young talent coming through the party. To survive I think the Nats next time in government will be a lot more of the Barnaby Joyce/”Wakka” Williams rebellious populist mould, sort of like McEwen without the constituency, all of which is bound to drive the Libs mad when they have to work out a new forms of gumboot diplomacy.

  25. Glen, John Kerin was an economist, not a farmer. You don’t need to be a cockie to look after the Bush. Nor, as Nat ag ministers have proven repeatedly, does being one mean the Bush is any better off.

    PS: I was wrong about the US not letting us sell wheat to Iraq. Iraq bought 350,000 tonnes last year, though whether you could call it a sale is possibly a moot point. Seems we had to virtually give it to them:

    Trade Minister Mark Vaile led a mission to Baghdad and eventually Iraq bought some wheat from the Wheat Australia group. But it was at such a low price that AWB has refused to supply it with any more wheat.

    Anyway, 35,000 tonnes is small beer compared to the quantity we used to sell them, all at top dollar.

  26. Just returned from the Jaga Jaga Christmas Party.

    Would be correct to say that everyone is on very good terms with themselves and others in the great Labor diaspora.

    Jenny Macklin , made a terrific speech celebrating the win but focussing on the job ahead.

    Labor is certainly looking on the bright side of life.

    PS Macklin will be a star in Government.

  27. Phil Senior ar 316, I note that several other posters have taken you to task about the economics of health. Let me add a voice from within Health in Victoria: we do a fantastic job in public health, so sod off. I’m a clinician/manager in mental health and can provide hard facts and KPIs to back up my assertion(but won’t waste William’s bandwidth), and in fact the Board of the Health Organisation for which I work, is currently chaired by the former State Liberal leader, appointed by the State Labour government. Seems to be working O.K. Bracks appointed Kennett to chair Beyondblue. Seems to be working O.K. As long as you folk take an idealogically driven stance in relation to issues central to Australian life, you’re cactus. But go right ahead, make my day/decade/the rest of my life!

  28. The rain has been glorious in Melbourne today, first thunder and lightning for ages. Parts of the eastern suburbs (eg new Labor seat of Deakin) had 40mm. The weather bureau is suggesting really heavy rain is coming right across the state tomorrow and Saturday, possibly the heaviest widespread falls in years, and we even have flood warnings! North-west Victoria, in particular, has been bone-dry for nearly a decade. The lake the supplies Bendigo with water is dry. This could be the big turnaround.

    This is bad news for the farmers. They may lose their drought assistance. No wonder they don’t vote Labor.

  29. Glen #455, 458:

    Nice to see you’ve kept your sense of humour about you. I admire that in a person, and so do most Australians. If the LNP is ever re-elected, it will be due to the efforts of people like you making LNP politicians realise that they are human like the rest of us. Keep it up.

    MelbCity (or your sockpuppet du jour):

    We all get the point – the Greens are evil, the Greens are nasty, the Greens don’t deserve to win anything etc., etc., etc.

    Unless you actually have something to contribute, do us all a favour and shut up.

    William Bowe:

    Being as neither MelbCity nor any of his sockpuppets have done anything except bag the Greens incessantly, could you please ban his latest sockpuppet? Eventually, even he should get the point.

  30. Barry saysDovif,
    Welcome back – you have been missing for quite awhile.

    Actually wrong, I have posted over 30 post in the last 4 weeks

    “During the Howard years, income tax rates were reduced for high income earners. At the same time the income tax threshold hasn’t increased. Inflation over the last 11 years has resulted in low income earners having a larger proportion of their income taxable and hence paying more income tax. (If this doesn’t make sense, please study the difference between Average Tax Rate and Marginal Tax Rate).
    In addition to this, a 10% GST was introduced. The GST applies to most items including all essential services such as water and electricity, and thus is payable by everyone.”

    It is completely wrong, the Threshold had increase, 0 rate has increase from 5k to 6k, 20% rate had decreased to 17% and kick in from 22k as opposed to 15k.

    low income earner have more rebates than ever before, please know what you are talking about before posting garbage

    Barry says “The end result is those on multi-million dollar per annum incomes pay less tax, while the vast major of people pay much more tax. ”

    Again completely incorrect, the likes of Kerry Packer and Murdock already choosed to be US resident (where marginal tax rate is much lower) or they have vehicles to reduce tax. The high marginal tax rate have caused the high skilled and inventors to move overseas, leading to the “Brain drain” and Australian working in Singapore, HK, UK or USA. This can only be solve by making our tax rate more efficient

    GST have been found to be the most efficient tax by the World bank, it has not caused any hardship.

    Earlier this year, you claimed that you were too young to recall how bad the Sydney Public Transport system was under the Fahey Government. Unless you were part of some family trust (or other tax dodge) when Hawke (please note the correct spelling) was PM, you would not have been paying any tax at that time.

    Wrong again, I never said that, did you here about Staterail this morning? I did not notice how bad state public transport of under Fahey, because it was not bad. Complain to state rail had increase 500% from 1990 to today, Sydney population has nota

  31. GST has caused hardship! $8Bn unpaid GST from small businesses mainly. Low income earners have not received enough tax cuts to make up for the GST. People are hurting, grocery prices etc. Why do you think they voted Howard out??

  32. < ahref=”″#420 Antonio Said on December 20th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    #409 “my understanding is that the site is responsible, not the blogger”.

    Actually, if something is genuinely defamatory, anyone could go for a row – the blogger, the moderator, the editor, the publisher…

    But one needs to keep in mind international law. There is a lot you can do when you start farming out the server (or parts of the server logic) into different legal domains.

  33. …and then they all stopped and everyone looked at each other and thought, “in the great scheme of things, we are all but one and deep down, we all but care for the well being of each other and the wellbeing of all who sail in the ship of oz”

  34. “GST have been found to be the most efficient tax by the World bank, it has not caused any hardship.”
    taxes are about raising necessary revenue and about their redistribution effects
    as well. a consumption tax is charged at the same rate on the good or service
    purchased irrespective of the income of the person concerned so it is regressive.
    Also the GST is inflationary as it is largely passed on.
    I think there is a case for a cut in the GST however the problem is it is tied
    into state finances… as the GST goes to the states

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