Northern Territory election: late counting

This post will progressively follow the late stages of the count in the Northern Territory election, reckoned to hinge on the outcome in Fannie Bay where Labor leads by 57 votes. There are two seats where the CLP holds narrow leads: Fong Lim (83 votes) and Brennan (148 votes). Labor also aren’t conceding Port Darwin, but the 177-vote (3.5 per cent) difference suggests it’s a long shot. All are two-horse races except Port Darwin, where a Greens candidate has polled 393 votes (15.6 per cent) of which 151 (61.6 per cent) have flowed to Labor. The column on the right shows redistribution-adjusted figures for each type of vote from 2005, to give an indication of how many votes might remain outstanding – remembering there should be an unusually high number of absent votes this time due to confusion over the new boundaries.

UPDATE (11/8/08): Antony Green explains all about the timeline for late counting; counting of the all-important absent votes will begin tomorrow. It seems there might be a great many such votes in Fong Lim, as voters formerly in its predecessor seat of Millner would have carried on voting at the Coconut Grove booth which is now in Johnston (Clare Martin said during the election night commentary that she herself had done so). Antony also weighs in on informal voting, and writes on this site that the much-ballyhooed low turnout will prove less remarkable when all the votes are in.

Monday 2pm. Minor adjustments made to booth and pre-poll results after re-checking, which in Fannie Bay has added four booth votes for the CLP and one pre-poll vote for Labor.

Monday 4pm. Antony Green in comments says Labor has gained an invaluable 40 votes in Fannie Bay from counting of absent votes, which is evidently being fast-tracked. Another commenter says counting of 789 absent votes in Fong Lim has increased the CLP margin from 88 to 113.

Monday 6.30pm. Terry Mills concedes defeat after 374 absent votes in Fannie Bay split 206-168 in favour of Labor. However, absent votes have also put the CLP’s hold on Fong Lim, Brennan and Port Darwin beyond doubt.

Sunday. As you can see, I lost interest in this exercise after Mills conceded defeat. I have now brought the results below up to date with what I believe to be final figures, although there may be a handful of declaration votes outstanding. The final turnout figure proved to be 76 per cent compared with 80 per cent in 2005.

Booths 1384 1333 2717 2829
Pre-Poll 170 170 340 225
Postal 79 94 173 159
Absent 245 203 448 509
Declaration 0 0 0 21
TOTAL 1878 1800 3678 3743

Booths 1068 1166 2234 2565
Pre-Poll 135 155 290 213
Postal 64 80 144 144
Absent 418 430 848 676
Declaration 0 0 0 21
TOTAL 1685 1831 3516 3619

Booths 1312 1456 2768 2372
Pre-Poll 195 212 407 211
Postal 55 57 112 109
Absent 245 284 529 653
Declaration 0 0 0 32
TOTAL 1807 2009 3816 3377

Booths 960 1133 2093 2251
Pre-Poll 207 198 374 265
Postal 88 113 201 124
Absent 314 313 627 364
Declaration 0 0 0 22
TOTAL 1569 1757 3326 3026

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.

227 comments on “Northern Territory election: late counting”

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  1. Adam, if it came to touching the states (against any of their wills) then states-rights and federalist arguments alike would neatly align with conservative values, both methodological and ideological.

  2. I agree that the whole Federalism debate is a fascinating one – but I want to (selfishly) get back to the results of the NT Election.

    I was told this morning by a returning officer that at least a quarter of the votes from her booth were informal – many had lengthy notes & rationales written on them.

    I agree Burns would not be a good leader, but he is not nearly in the same category as Len Kiely. Kon’s a good local member but no leader in my view.

    I think Hendo is a dreadful leader (often overused term of ‘arrogant’ comes to mind) and though Clare didn’t always make the right decisions, at least you get a sense she genuinely wanted to improve things for all territorians.

    On Rudd and the national implications – don’t think there are any – Federal issues or any mention of the world beyond the Territory did not even enter the campaigns (both of which were totally dreadful by the way).

  3. I apologies if this is stating the obvious but has anyone on the LIb side joined the rather obvious dots around the relationship between the Fed governing party and the subsequent state party governing.
    When the Hawke Keating dictatorship was in full throw we had a beautiful blue map from one end of this great free land to the other.
    Then we had the Howard Howard government (Just making the point that it was never a Costello government, never will be, he will be forgotten in the mist of time. Peter who) the states all fell quietly to Labor and the socialist trotsyist stalinist russian imperialist pig dogs.
    Now I proffer no science to back it up but make the next 2 points for discussion.
    1) Watch out ALP states. (This theory explains somewhat the upsets such as Bracks over Kennett)
    2) Watch out Libs in the Fedreal parliament as it could show that the punters are going to have a long romance with the federal ALP.
    West Australia could give further clues re this, if WA goes to the forces of freedom and right thinking then watch out the other states.
    And then there will rise up a great freedom network of right thinking and truely patriotic idiotic co-olitions of believers. They will then cast a shodow over the pro-totalitarianism of the anti-capitalist running dogs. ( Sorry just wanted to use that line, capitalist running dogs againg. I don’t know who thought of it but it is a ripper.) Capatilist Running dogs, love it.

  4. Kitty, I don’t think that’s the case. There’s not one booth I can find with an informal vote above 10%. And as at past elections, the high informal vote is in contests with only two candidates, and if past research is anything to go by, a third to a half of those will be becuase ticks or crosses were used.

  5. I agree with Antony when he says it is not going to happen any time soon, if it is thought of as arising from a constitutional amendment requiring a popular vote. Apart from what most folk would want, there are enough legal issues to turn it into a lawyers’ picnic. But the main issue stopping it is that there are too many snouts in all the troughs. I do think I have detected in my various troubles that more and more folk would just like to get rid of the states, but that is very anecdotal.

    However, I think that it might be a more or less historical trend that that the practical scope and power of the Commonwealth has grown since federation. If this trend continues, the states will probably end up being minor outsourced service delivery agents for the feds. Might it be said that there is an inescapable logic of efficiency that is driving this trend? Or is it just vertical fiscal imbalance?

    The idea that: 8 parliaments, 8 health depts, 8 judicial systems with 8 sets of laws and 8 sets of courts, 8 education departments with 8 curricula, 8 transport departments, 8 infrastructure departments, 8 law and order departments are either necessary or efficient for 20 million people… These days with instant digital access, video conferencing, humungous data crunching power…

    As for turning them into independent nations, the thought of adding 8 depts of foreign affairs and trade, and 7 armies, airforces and navies? lol. I can just see the ACT wheeling out the old War Memorial .303s, Bren carriers, lancs and wirraways to mount frontline defence against the dreaded cockroaches.

  6. It was a Casuarina booth Antony and my source says that most of the informals were not the tick/cross issue but writing on the ballot paper that they were a teacher and inferred their discontent with both parties (colourful language being used for emphasis).

    Obviously there will be lots of analysis and also dribble coming from both parties in the wake of the election and a swag of reasons will be put up for the low turnout and the swing.

    From my perspective, I have never known so many people up here to be so disenchanted with both parties. The positive is at least there will be a better balance in the chamber which i’m hoping will mean some good government.

  7. So, is there any news on when we will hear something about this election? (as opposed to the ravings about states, constitutions high courts and such- William it seems there might have been enough interest in a thread for this on its own)

  8. And just a small comment on the Federalism thing – if the Federal intervention is anything to go by, I’m all for having local representation. On more than one occassion, I had Fed officers up here saying that the NT looked way smaller from their office in Canberra.

  9. Kitty – “From my perspective, I have never known so many people up here to be so disenchanted with both parties. The positive is at least there will be a better balance in the chamber which i’m hoping will mean some good government.It certainly can’t hurt. Politicians need to feel politically threatened to get their minds focussed.

  10. I forgot to add 8 olympic teams…arggh

    But in reply to Roger @ 60 on the Midday Report they were interviewing Mr Mills who said that himself and a certain person independent of party affiliation were good friends, that they had phoned to congratulate each other, but that it would not have been proper to hold further discussions at this stage…

  11. Casuarina, Nakara booth informal 4.6%, Tiwi 5.8%. Same booths last time, 2.8%, 2.1%. An increase, yes, but it happened in all seats with only 2 candidates.

  12. All that has happened today is a check count. Only minor variations on the figures from Saturday night. They are currently counting Absent votes to hand in the four key seats, Fannie Bay, Fong Lim, Brennan and Port Darwin. The will be available after 4pm central time today. There are about 500 votes to be counted in each of these electorates.

  13. Thanks for clearing that up Antony, it would seem my source was prone to some exaggeration.

    If Clare was still leader, I think (and hope in the interests of good government) there would still have been a number of seats turned over to the CLP, but not as many. Got to say though, after how haggard she was looking in her last year of being leader, she looked fabulous on Saturday night – and i’m glad she managed to subtley sink the boot into Hendo a couple of times.

  14. Kakuru @43

    ‘We citizens of NSW and Victoria have to bail out the Tasmanian Republic and its basket-case economy yet again, to prevent another military coup. Just another Pacific island intervention we have to fork out for! And don’t get me started on all those ricketty rafts heading across Bass Strait!’

    Why should New South Wales worry about Victoria’s problems?

  15. I think Antony’s probably right and Adam probably wrong about the referendum, but even if Adam’s right, I don’t see that only having to get a majority in favour of abolishing the States in four States instead of all of them is likely to be any easier for practical purposes. For practical purposes, it’s still a non-starter.

  16. Antony Green @26, my analysis is that the extra area from port Darwin cut the margin in Fannie Bay from 18.6 to 15.7% per your analysis.

    That means the new voters from Port Darwin was probably more CLP voting then the rest of Fannie Bay. Since both Fannie Bay and Port Darwin moved by 10+%. If the voter of this area move by 10+%, they are likely to fall in favour of the CLP than Labor

    Yes there is more ifs in it than a Peter Costello challenge.

  17. Ben, they have fallen slightly because they haven’t re-counted the postals. If that figure from election night is included, the lead is 54 votes. Labor lost 4 votes off its lead at Parap, gained two at Stuart park and gained one in the pre-poll.

  18. Dovif – the fall in margin was caused by the loss of voters to Fong Lim and Port Darwin as much as any gain from Port Darwin. Even then, these are incredibly rough calculations when you only have two booths. The Absent vote was the same as the booth vote and the argument you put was that people went to vote in their old electorate i.e. Port Darwin, but their old booth is actually now in Fannie Bay so they would have been voting in their new electorate, not as absents in their old electorate.

  19. Probably not a bad thing for the Feds if most of the States change hands.

    On something like IR and health I doubt many of the States will shed a tear in handing them over – with Liberal State governments more likely to happen without too much fuss.

  20. Fannie Bay latest is 397 absentee votes counted this arvo and ALP’s lead increased by 40 votes. Only declaration votes (traditionally favour ALP in NT) and approximately 220 Postals to be counted now.

    Fong Lim has approximately 800 absentee votes being counted now.

  21. Aggregate votes:

    ALP 28,593 (43.3)
    CLP 30,339 (46.0)
    Green 2,733 (4.1)
    Wood 2,103 (3.2)
    Others 2,233 (3.4)

    That of course is without Arafura and MacDonnell
    Last time the aggregate vote in those two seats was ALP 3,364, CLP 1,518, Green 562, Ind 206. To allow for the swing I have given 5% of the ALP vote to the CLP and 5% to the Greens. That gives ALP 2,692, CLP 1,854, Green 898, Ind 206. Add that to the totals above and we get:

    ALP 31,290 (43.8)
    CLP 32,193 (45.1)
    Green 3,631 (5.1)
    Wood 2,103 (2.9)
    Others 2,233

  22. “On something like IR and health I doubt many of the States will shed a tear in handing them over – with Liberal State governments more likely to happen without too much fuss.”

    Except, they won’t want to hand over IR to the “other side”.

  23. 789 Absentees counted in Fong Lim. ALP now 113 behind.

    Therefore final result almost certainly ALP 13, CLP 11 & 1 Independent.

  24. I think the Labor States would dearly love to hand over health and IR but for internal reasons (ie unions and public sector interests) will find it hard to do so. The Liberals would have no hesistation in handing these powers over to the Feds.

    After all for different reasons both issues are losers – On IR better to have it managed under the Federal Labor regime (which is less generous than the State regime) AND on health do you really need any explanation? Who wants to own every hospital tragedy?

  25. I think there’s a bit of relief in knowing we are closer to avoiding a hung parliament. There is something distinctly unhealthy in my view in having an individual (no disrespect to Gerry who I reckon is a great operator) holding so much power.

    Now that it looks like we might have a government, one has to wonder about who will be in the ministry.

    Will Aagaard want to ditch the speakers role and get a portfolio?

  26. Kitty,
    It’s not even that your source exaggerates. From my experience (scrutineering), you notice any informal that includes a written note – humorous, obscene or political comment. My inference is that your informant saw some number between three and ten (of 97 according to the NTEC website) informals that included such comments, and carried away the impression that there was “a lot”.
    If I could also throw in a comment about the division of powers, since the thread has de facto become a discussion of that issue:
    the problem is surely that the wording of the Constitution is virtually unchangeable, because of the restrictive referendum requirements and the irresistible temptation for one side or the other of politics to oppose referenda for short-term political advantage. Iirc, the Liberals with Peter Reith enthusiastically in the driving seat opposed four sensible referendum proposals in 1988, which were the product of an representative Parliamentary committee, and had the prior explicit endorsement of all parties.
    The consequence that the wording of the 1890s is resistant to change, is that the High Court has taken it upon itself to render the Constitution workable, by liberal interpretation. In an ideal world, we would have a root and branch review of how power should be distributed 120 years after the initial deliberations. The fact that it is very unlikely to happen means that the political system will continue to struggle with the consequences. I think the woes of the Murray-Darling basin are an excellent example of the defects of the existing division of powers.

  27. Yes PeterF, human nature huh.

    Apparently, a note on one of the informals was so lengthy, they’d actually written PTO with the essay continued on the other side – clearly some passionately held views.

  28. 63
    Adam in Canberra Says:
    What do Territorians think the outcome would have been if Clare Martin had still been leader?

    Tough question. Probably a couple of seats better, but hard to say. Too much an historical ‘what-if’ question. The real problem with interpreting (and predicting) NT politics is the small electorates, It only takes 2 or 3 hundred voters to change their mind in each electorate and there will probably be a change of government.

    As to Gerry Woods, he might seem on superficial assessment like a bit of a flake, but he is one of those people who believes you should take your work seriously, but not yourself, and is quite happy taking the piss out of himself. He is a pretty down to earth and rounded person, and I would not have any serious concerns about him holding the balance of power. I agree that he would have to deal with the Garrett syndrome (moving from criticising from the sidelines to making hard government decisions), but he would do a far better job of it than Garrett has (so far).

    A question for psephological historians: Woods currently has 77.4% of the primary vote. What is the Australian record for an independent in a seat where both major parties ran candidates?

  29. Indeed the narrowest of their 24th(?) successive state-and-territory election losses, in what was historically their strongest bastion, definitely shows that the conservatives are right back in the game on a national level.

    FWIW (not much) this non-lawyer agrees with Antony on S128. 🙂

  30. “What do Territorians think the outcome would have been if Clare Martin had still been leader?”

    Well, Labor would definitely still be in government, because they’d have definitely won Fannie Bay.

  31. Gerry Woods has reportedly ruled out being the Speaker, which makes it 12-11-1 on the floor. How well does parliament work if the Speaker continually has to cast the deciding vote? Won’t that mean that labor at least have to determine Woods’ position before every vote to avoid embarrassment?

  32. Martin, it’s actually not the narrowest Labor win. Labor has won by small margins when coming to govt, and in Vic, Qld and SA, they were originally a minority govt, before winning a crushing landslide at the next election. In the NT, it looks like Labor’s back to their original win margin of 1 seat in 2001; they won 59-41 in 2005, with 19 of 25 seats. In ’01, they actually lost the overall 2PP 52-48.

  33. 93
    Diogenes Says:
    Gerry Woods has reportedly ruled out being the Speaker, which makes it 12-11-1 on the floor. How well does parliament work if the Speaker continually has to cast the deciding vote?

    Only when Woods votes against them.

  34. Latest from ABC NEWS…

    Northern Territory Labor appears to have an unassailable lead in the crucial seat of Fannie Bay and is highly likely to form government with a majority of one seat.

    ALP officials say their candidate, Michael Gunner, leads by 92 votes.

    There are still about 150 postal votes to be counted, but the Country Liberals would need to win 80 per cent of them to succeed.

    The likely election outcome is now 13 seats to Labor, 11 to the Country Liberals, and one independent member.

    But NT Labor Party Secretary George Addison is still reluctant to claim victory.

    “We’re cautious because we saw that in Solomon, the federal campaign, big numbers coming against us, but we’re just confident, but it is just too close to call at this stage with a number of votes still outstanding.”

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