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. Squiggle, it was a brilliant stroke of political genius alright both Howard and Brough lost their seats at the Federal election.

  2. 2) simply agreeing with someone else after they have shown leadership on an issue (eg the ALP on indigin????… on indigin????,,, on aboriginal issues)

    So, why did Howard refuse to help when Clare Martin, then Chief Minister of the NT, pleaded with him for assistance on the indigenous problems in 2006? Indeed, he wouldn’t even admit there was a serious problem, and had a long track record of ignoring indigenous issues.

    Who is following who?

  3. Hi Steve,

    Any predictions for the newspoll?

    Here’s my thoughts,

    The Australian is a biased newspaper and loves a chance to build a story with momentum..

    They ahve two stories they want ot run with just now

    1) Costel-low is the only way the LNP will return to power


    2) ALP support collapsing in NT/NSW/WA and therefore nationally

    What spin will they put on this fortnight’s results if its 54-46???

  4. C’Mon steve,

    Didn’t you see the Australian on the weekend? A whole page on Costel-low…

    surely there is no chance of impartial intepretation of the Newspoll this week?


  5. Beating th CLP Liberals by 100 voters is sweeter than a landslide

    Can one imagine how those Libs ar feeling today , its like an icecream given to a child and then its taken away , to see victory come so close , but it may as well have been a loss by 100,000 votes not by 100 votes , seeing when they come into th Chamber they still get to sit on there same irrelevant chairs as before election day

  6. One thing I have never done is read NT hansard to see how the CLP actually perform in parliament and I have never even heard any mention of it.

  7. Mr Squiggle

    “Hi Gary,
    Maybe after all these years, the electorate can tell the difference between on the one hand coming up with a BALLSY IDEA that no-one else would dream of putting forward (eg Mal Brough) ”

    I can see where your logic is going with Mal Brough’s great BALLSY IDEAS , since that great ballsy idea , Mal baby has lost his own Fed seat , AND since then lost his postion as Q’ld Liberal Party President !! ….and now Mal with th ballsy ideas has even managed to lose th whole Q’ld Liberal Party )folowing Pineapple Party’s take over of it) You just kepp following that great ballsy Mal Brough ideas…into oblivion

  8. I don’t think ALP people should crow too much. I expected Henderson to get back easily, and to come within a handful of votes of defeat is not a good result, even in a place as traditionally conservative as the NT. Sure a win is a win, but this was a close call, and it should be a warning to us both for WA and federally that the voters give and the voters taketh away, not always for the most rational of reasons to be sure.

  9. 57-43 – ho hum, the interesting newspolls will be the next WA and NSW State polls – then we will see if there is movement in any of the tectonic plates.

  10. Publicly crow to th born to rule set , privately to larn th lessons and mesages Getting out of touch (or perceived to be) with bread & butter issues is not ignord by swinging voters

    As to pro intervention effect or not and unhelpful Calare Martin dumping , guess subsequent Party private polling may answer , because anti uranium dump and anti Daly River development (when CLP were pro in both) should hav been a possitive but such a large swing suggests its had little postivve efect

  11. They continue to tell us of the failure of fuelwatch, when in reality it is being held up in a Senate inquiry forced by the Coalition. Polls as usual, the public cannot find fault with Rudd,

  12. Red Wombat , I’m color blind so your sugestion doesn’t help

    Gusface , in my #168 I suggested Labor definitively privately should learn from th ressult and perhaps look at 4 issues as starters , what does 40% non voting figure suggest to you

  13. This is a real problem. Of course the NT’s should not have presumed a win, under all the circumstances. The NT needed time to get over the defrocked, really, Clare Martin. The sheer cynicism, of going to the electorate, on spurious and even scary environmental grounds, is so far out of the thinking of a worried NT electorate. Which is reflected around Australia.

    Bad news, all. WA is the next domino. Sure, Labor may scrape in, but not looking fantastic, at all.

    Don’t think Kev gets it, nor does Penny Wong or Carlene Maywald.

    Just a reminder, I write from SA.

    My straw polls are not good for Kev.

    And I am less than delighted.

  14. Ron
    was listening to abc local radio which reported up to 40% non turnout

    the MSM didnt mention but that said ,the confusion and realtively short time may have thrown some people out

    2 things can be taken out of this in myopinion low voter turnouts the odds favour the conservatives so the clp should actually be worried that it didnt get the nod

    2.if a “anti rudd’ message was delivered,it has as much effect as a fart in a bottle, so shannas et el will only (as usual) preach to the converted

  15. This could also been seen as a total disaster for the CLP.

    They failed to sneak under the guard of the electorate and just failed to grab government. The ALP truly scared by this will no doubt work very hard to set things right with the electorate and put the CLP back out to pasture again at the next election. The CLP may not get the chance again for a long while.

    I can tell you environmental or some such had very little to do with this result.

    The previous election where the ALP thrashed the CLP was because the people still remembered the old corrupt CLP and, had become used to and supportive of Martin. That old CLP is now long gone – the memory is gone and the personnel gone, thus the pendulum swung back to a more normal state of affairs. I suspect the swing involves some part of people going back to their normal voting pattern plus some reaction against the knifing of Martin and the inability of Henderson to connect with the public. And a sundry bunch of smaller issues.

    In the same way it is good for Rudd Labor that the likes of Minchin, Andrews, Nelson and co are still around. By the next election people will still be able remember the negative old Howard govt and do to the LNP what NT Labor did to the CLP at their second election. Give them a real thrashing and clear out the nasty bits of trash.

  16. Gusface “in low voter turnouts the odds favour the conservatives so the clp should actually be worried that it didnt get the nod”

    Would alot of this low voter turnout be disapproving Labor swingers , not happy with NT Labor , but not angry enough to come out & vote CLP (against there preferred ‘left’ political preference)

  17. There was a distinct lack of emotion in this election campaign – could hardly raise a yawn. The ALP TV campaign was quite negative and I found it a real turn-off.

  18. Hmmm. Would not count on it. Thomas Paine. Gusface. Sure, the ALP will need to work very hard to regain any kind of solid support. I do not imagine for one moment that the ALP has the momentum required to win again. They need to work very hard and in tune with the electorate’s thinking. I am at a loss to understand why any kind of Labor is so, apparently, out of touch.

  19. Ron

    conventional wisdom holds that where the voter turnout (as a percentage of eligible voters) is low , the preference will be to the conservative or right wing

    “Would alot of this low voter turnout be disapproving Labor swingers , not happy with NT Labor , but not angry enough to come out & vote CLP (against there preferred ‘left’ political preference”
    quite possible ,in fact i think the final count will give a guide to actually who was really shanghaied

  20. 177
    Thomas Paine Says:
    The ALP TV campaign was quite negative and I found it a real turn-off.

    Agree. I didn’t like their TV ads. Very negative personal attacks on Terry Mills. Probably cost the ALP some votes.

  21. I am up in Darwin (and have been since 1977) and the LNG plant for the harbour or not doesn’t even make discussion.

    There is precious little noticeable difference between the ALP and CLP up here now the old crew are long gone. In fact the CLP seemed more like an ALP this time around. People up here generally don’t seem to be ideologically motivated (except for the usual core for both sides) in regard to local politics, not that you would find any between the parties here.

    I have been a Labor voter for the past number of years but really I would not have been that concerned if the CLP won.

    Nobody here equates Labor with the Feds or the CLP with the LNP. The rest of Australia is a long way away.

    It really isn’t ALP -v- CLP it is team in Red shirts versus team in Blue shirts.

    That nice Ms Martin is not here now so a natural attraction to the Red shirts is gone. The local media has been critical of the ALP (Govt) off and on for a long while and that Gerry Woods has been criticising them a lot too. That Mr Mills in the blue shirts seems like a nice guy. And the Red shirts have been in for a while too and it seems a bit boring and stale to have them there again.

    I am not joking that the CLP may have just missed out on unexpected prime opportunity – and if they hadn’t threatened the public servants jobs they may have won.

    This gives the govt here the lucky opportunity to fix things and become attractive again. It is all in their own hands.

    There was actually one issue that did strike a chord with many people – youth crime and violence.

  22. I thought Antony G. had in earlier posts refuted the low turnout assumption, by suggesting that after all the absentee votes, pre-polls, postals etc. are in the figure is likely to be within 2% of the 2005 election. As I recall, it was suggested that the changes of boundary in a number of seats meant that people may have turned up at what had been their regular booth, where they would have been obliged to vote absentee – thus inflating the number of such votes this time around.

  23. ron, your party line spruiking is perhaps at odds with the other somewhat intelligent comments here. but if you’re an ALP advisor, i suppose you are feeling desperate relief. perhaps you could answer: when will henderson take the blame?

    and boerwar – #130
    thankfully efficiency is not the only way we design our political system. fascism was also a very effective system of concentrating power – otherwise known as “doing things once only”.

    but we tell ourselves our system is also about representing people – and i don’t want someone in canberra empowered to think they know what is best for the top end. we are seeing now how little that gets us with the Ruddies. a national government is always likely to do things that attract votes in the most populous places. and that is not the NT.

  24. Dylan


    And which unhappy politcal Party do you represent

    Labor people ar delighted Labor won , thats 9 State/Territory & Federal Parliaments held out of 9 , why wouldn’t a labor suporter be happy scraping in
    Thats better than a CLP suporter claiming they ‘won’ , but finishing 2nd

    Had you taken th trouble to read my #168 post you would hav seen I noted all Partys privately look at reasons , large swings deliver a peoples message You’ve jumped gun wanting me to blame Henderson , however instead careful analysis of cause of swing is required (including Clare Martin’s dumping , campaign rsults , NT CLP’s pro intervention policy , style/policys of past government , low voter turnout etc ) rather than such knee jerk reactions Notwithstanding better to be in government with relief and happiness , than in opposition

    Ron Says:
    August 11th, 2008 at 10:41 pm
    Publicly crow to th born to rule set , privately to larn th lessons and mesages Getting out of touch (or perceived to be) with bread & butter issues is not ignord by swinging voters

  25. Thomas Paine

    I’m with you on all you’ve said. The knifing of Clare has not been taken well perhaps especially because it was wielded by the soulless and arrogant Hendo. Hendo’s speech on Saturday night convinced me that he has to go. Of course the problem then becomes who could possibly take his place.

    I hope that this next term allows both sides to develop and hone their skills as quality representatives so we can look forward to having some good people on both sides leading us into the future.

    At the moment, they’re both as bad as each other. The only matter raised in either’s campaign that connected with me was the CLP’s public sector attack.

  26. I’ve been meme-ing Antony’s debunking of the ‘low turnout’ hype.

    But consider Fannie Bay, at 74% turnout (close of play Monday evening, after counting of absentees). That’s not great is it, for a city electorate?

    How would the Territory as a whole approach even 80% – even allowing for the two uncontested seats – assuming lower turnout in some remote locations?

  27. “I am not joking that the CLP may have just missed out on unexpected prime opportunity – and if they hadn’t threatened the public servants jobs they may have won.”

    When will the conservative parties work out that sacking public servants is actually not the way to win an election? It didn’t work for John Hewson, and it didn’t work for Jeff Kennett, and it didn’t work for several state opposition leaders in recent years.

    Teachers, nurses and police all have families and votes, and also have a good deal of public support. Even cutting “head office bureaucrats” may sound good to the Libs, but usually that just means the burden of paperwork falls more heavily on the teachers and nurses.

    You can make the public service more efficient without sacking staff. Invoking fear in the public service will not help productivity.

  28. I agree Antonio at 190. And it is especially the case in the NT. We only have about 220,000 in the whole population – if you took 700 jobs from the public sector – that would have a major impact.

  29. Adam: I sincerely doubt the two McCarthys are related, considering that one of them is black and one of them is white.

    I’d been wondering about the spelling of Kezia Purick’s name myself…

  30. Boerwar (141),

    I will have to continue to disagree. There are functions which naturally fit with entities of a particular size, and three levels seems necessary to me, but I won’t go on about it on this thread.

    Adam (144),
    All I can say is what a strange world it is.

    J-D (145),
    Yes, you can have distribution of power without federalism, but federalism treats the subsidiary units as sources of power not creatures of the higher level.

  31. @195

    ‘Yes, you can have distribution of power without federalism, but federalism treats the subsidiary units as sources of power not creatures of the higher level.’

    I know. That’s what’s wrong with it.

  32. antonio at 190, kitty at 191

    I must admit that i do not know the facts of the northern territory situation. However there would be some instances in which such a policy to cut or streamline certain jobs the public service would be beneficial, such as if the state is struggling with the budget etc.

    My point is politicians should not shy away from making tough decisions is they are unpopular in the short term

  33. Ron #185
    Sorry for the late response.
    I don’t represent any political party and never have. It is not surprising to me that the highest vote in a seat was won by the independent Gerry Wood.

    you said:
    ‘Labor people ar delighted Labor won , thats 9 State/Territory & Federal Parliaments held out of 9 , why wouldn’t a labor suporter be happy scraping in’

    I think this is the problem: many party people seem to have trouble seeing past the ‘us v them’ battle mentality. in this case, Labor would not be smart if they were happy about this – happy about almost losing from a very safe position.
    if people are delighted at the Labor ‘win’ they’re missing the main point: the electorate gave them a resounding kick up the arse – largely, i think, for treating the electorate like fools with the early election and with the empty campaign. “just do nothing and they’ll put us back in” does not cut it.
    such people can be delighted all they like, delighting their delightful selves until the moment comes when the electorate kicks them out of their jobs. by then, it will be too late to listen.

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