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. unless, of course, you think the early election was a masterstroke because Henderson would have suffered a heavy loss if the CLP had time to get organised.

  2. What are the odds that in a 25-member assembly, there will be two McCarthys, not related? They could of course be husband and wife.

    The fact that both Purich and Purick are renderings of Puri? still doesn’t explain why mother and daughter spell their surname differently.

  3. 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.

    Perfectly sensible, I’m sure, and I certainly hopee all ALP operatives think that way.

    But from where I’m coming from I can’t help feeling that anytime the CLP lose in the NT it is a bad result for the conservatives.

  4. I cannot help but laugh at some of the ALP’s spin that the CLP had a bad election

    1. CLP had almost a 9% swing
    2. CLP won the 2PP
    3. CLP more then doubled their representation in parliament 5-11
    4. ALP was thinking about taking Terry Mills seat
    5. CLP lost the election by 60 votes, if 31 people (public servants) changed their minds…….
    6. The NT economy was going well

    They did this despite the CLP ran a completely inept campaign
    1. Their own candidate was gunning for Terry Mills’ job
    2. They threaten to take away the job of 15% of NT workers (always a good way to get people to vote for you)
    3. They had no money

    Still, they might have won despite all this. The CLP did not do great, if they did some things properly, they would probably been governing.

    To call an election like this a bad result for the CLP is Ruddian.

  5. It really was a bad result for both parties in the sense that Labor put about the same effort in as their Brisbane City Hall campaign in March and the tories were so disorganised they couldn’t even run a candidate in every seat. A case of the disinterested almost rolled by the incompetent.

  6. Nobody has yet raised the possibility that push polling influenced the unexpected result in NT.

    Mark Textor, Australia’s push polling guru, who learned his methods in training with the US Republicans, is reported to have used push polling in an NT election in 1994.

    Push polling next surfaced in the 1995 ACT by-election, where the ALP candidate Sue Robinson was push polled out of contention by Mark Textor and Liberal Party luminaries like Andrew Robb (who was named in the legal suit). Sue Robinson eventually won a large defamation settlement but the damage was done and the Liberal Party won the constested position.

    Push polling operates below the media radar by definition, and is much more effective in smaller population pools, such as in the Territories. And many people are reluctant to come forward to say that they have been pushed polled, because it makes them look like dills.

    Guess we will never know.

  7. Grace, I think you can discount push polling. Every time someone pushed a letter into letterbox in Sanderson, it was in the ABC newsroom within two hours. You can’t do something like push polling in Darwin without it being known shortly afterwards. We would have heard about it by now if it had happened. The only seat where the swing was out of line was Sanderson, where all the letterbox drops were and where Len Kiely became an issue. The push polling in 1994 was known within 2 days and was done in only 2 electorates and the results in those electorates was totally anomolous with the rest of Darwin. We’re now 2 weeks after the election with not a hint of any push-polling having been heard, so I think the proposition that it didn’t happen is looking pretty strong.

  8. Having been telephone polled personally on the weekend of 1 August, someone was doing numbers.

    Who.. I dont know.. but it did seem legit.

  9. Thanks for your response Antony, and point taken, smaller communities spread such gossip faster, and the spread of possible anomolies is not there this time.

    Your professional opinion is valuable given your concentrated overwatch of the electoral process, but in the end, we cannot know…

    I heard Lynton Crosby tell the BBC on radio last week his organisation (once known as Crosby/Textor) had never been involved in push polling in Australia, and nearly lost my breakfast laughing.

  10. “his organisation (once known as Crosby/Textor) had never been involved in push polling in Australia, ”

    The key phrase is the once known, Howard used a similar phrase in his non-core promises such as “That was a promise of the previous (Howard) government.

  11. Antony, in Robinson’s 1995/96 successful defamation suit, both Andrew Robb and Mark Textor were the defendants, and the shelf name of the polling company involved was innocuous, as I recall. So yes, the name of the company does not necessarily indicate the prime movers. Textor’s involvement in the 1994 NT election (soon after he returned from the US) was detailed in the SMH later, and was quite probably a backroom organising job rather than actually making the phone calls, but again, I am working from memory.

  12. Fixed terms to be introduced in NT

    Good. The only person who should be able to call an early election is the relevant Administrator/Governor/Governor-General.

  13. Grace

    Interesting read re the polling.

    “Background Briefing has a number of statutory declarations from electors who say the company doing the poll identified itself as Apex. Company searches reveal that the name Apex was owned by a company known as Controlled Marketing Service, and a director of that company was Charles Porter, a former Director of the Liberal Party in Western Australia.”

    I take it he is the father of the shadow A-G in WA.

  14. Yes rod, that sounds a fair guess. The pollsters in the NT in 94 and the ACT in 95 were connected to, or commissioned by, the Liberal Party, when Andrew Robb was in charge. The whole charade of denial, including Lynton Crosby’s on the BBC, is beyond a joke. At the time, Crosby and Textor were Liberal Party apparatchiks, who later formed a commercial company together, which did its dirty business throughout the Howard Years, and then dissolved. Careful words indeed.

  15. Grace

    I think you may have a point re push polling and the NT, but in a round about way.

    That article you linked to mentions the effectiveness of the push polling in the NT especially in relation to fishing ” where half the population loves fishing for barra”.

    The push polling apparently said that labor was to give the aborigines land/ sea rights that would threaten this NT past time.

    Interesting about a week before this NT election the high court did just that.

    Push polling in the NT does not need a phone campaign, with such small electorates a whispering campaign in the pubs is just as effective. IE “See we told this would happen if labor got in”

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