ACT election: late counting

Sunday 26/10. Final result: Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4.

The count has now been finalised and the Greens have indeed won a fourth seat in Molonglo, their candidate leading 9457 to the third Liberal’s 8536 at the key point in the count. As I should have noted in the previous entry, there was also a close race between the second and third Greens candidates which has in fact been won by Caroline Le Couteur, who overtook Elena Kirschbaum late in the count. Kirschbaum had 4203 votes at the point where she was excluded to Le Couteur’s 4285.

Saturday 25/10

In Molonglo, we now have a preference count for 62,577 out of 88,291, and Antony Green’s assessment is that “the Greens are starting to be favourite for the final spot”. On the present projection, second Greens candidate Elena Kirshbaum leads third Liberal candidate Giulia Jones 6660 to 6166 at the relevant count. The Liberals are likely to close the gap in what remains of the count – the primary votes that have been admitted to the preference count have gone 31.3 per cent Liberal and 18.5 per cent Greens compared with 31.4 per cent and 18.2 per cent from the total – but my back-of-envelope calculation tells me they will only be able to close the gap by perhaps 200 votes.

Tuesday 21/10

The count in Molonglo is getting progressively more interesting, with second Greens candidate Caroline Le Couteur just 49 votes behind third Liberal Jeremy Hanson at the crucial point in the count. Le Couteur herself leads the third Greens candidate, Elena Kirschbaum, by 49 votes at the relevant earlier point of the count. So the result could yet be Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4, rather than 7-7-3.

Sunday 19/10

This post will be updated progressively with details of late counting in the ACT election. Two results remain in play: in Molonglo, which could either go Labor 3, Liberal 3, Greens 1 or Labor 3, Liberal 2, Greens 2, and in Ginninderra, which could either go Labor 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1 or Labor 3, Liberal 1, Greens 1. The most likely results will produce an outcome of Labor 7, Liberal 7, Greens 3, but other possibilities are for the Liberals to win as few as five, Labor to win eight or the Greens to win four.

In Molonglo, the Liberals are on 2.48 quotas on the primary vote and the Greens are on 1.48, so whoever does better on preferences will win the final seat. The problem for the Greens is the 2.7 per cent recorded by Liberal-turned-independent Richard Mulcahy, which based on pre-poll votes looks likely to go about 35 per cent to the Liberals and maybe 10 per cent to the Greens. Against that is that the Greens can hope for a strong rate of preference leakage from Labor. There is also an outside chance that independent Frank Pangallo could sneak through and take the seat if he receives enough preferences from minor candidates, but it would have to be rated a long shot.

In Ginninderra, Labor are on 2.41 quotas and the Liberals are on 1.64, the risk for the Liberals being that Greens preferences after the election of their candidate will push them ahead. However, the gap is probably wide enough to get endangered Liberal incumbent Vicki Dunne home.

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.

326 comments on “ACT election: late counting”

Comments Page 1 of 7
1 2 7
  1. More precisely The Greens are on 1.4756958055664445315562524500196

    and Liberals 2.3908271266170129361034888279106

    Ok that doesn’t make sense? Green vote is lower, by percentage, on ACT website vs. ABC site from yesterday and Liberal vote is higher.

    I’m dividing number of votes by the quota, on the ACT site and that’s the quota’s it’s giving me. Why are the Libs actually lower, than on the ABC site?

  2. It’s so close, in fact, that I’d argue there’s no point looking at the party totals. A significant minority of people didn’t vote on the party line and I expect that will have an effect. It’s more important to watch the primary totals for “Giulia with a G” (which I always like to pronounce with a hard “G”), Caroline, Elena and Pangallo. When you look at it that way, Caroline is leading. I expect Giulia will get plenty of preferences from Zed, but Zed will also give a lot to Jeremy Hanson.

  3. “ALP founders in a sea of Greens” – By Christian Kerr,25197,24521423-5013871,00.html

    LABOR is struggling in a rising Green tide around the nation, with the minor party now laying claim to being a mainstream player after ousting the ALP from majority government in the ACT.

    Greens victories in three of the ACT’s 17 seats in Saturday’s election came amid strong showings in NSW weekend by-elections and will force Labor’s Jon Stanhope into a minority government.

    The strong showing follows the Greens reaching a record high of 13 per cent support in the latest federal Newspoll – a result mirrored in state-based polls. As Labor strategists began considering how to counter the attack of the Greens from the political Left, the Greens’ federal leader, Bob Brown, said the results showed Australians were becoming greener and thrusting his party into the mainstream.


    Another one of Kerr’s rants. The ACT are about to do what Tasmania did a decade ago, that is the Greens holding the lower house balance of power and being able to decide who forms government. Federal/remaining states and territories all use instant runoff voting in single member electorates. They are unlikely to win a lower house seat at a general election, and even if they did it would only be 1 or 2 or 3, with Tanner’s Melbourne the most obvious first division off the block, given that it was the only electorate in 2007 to have the Greens on the two-party figure.

    The only thing that Australia-wide growing Greens support will do is put more Greens in to upper houses, and whether (for arguments sake) an upper house has 49 ALP, 49 Lib and 2 Green, or, 44 ALP, 44 Lib, and 12 Green, it won’t make a difference in terms of outcomes, being that the Greens would hold the balance of power in both theoretical scenarios. It will make future federal Liberal governments very interesting however.

    Don’t get me wrong, I put Greens above Labor at the 2007 fed election, only because Labor seems to be closer to the Liberals on social issues than ever before. But Kerr is still seriously overdramatising.

  4. Is there any possibility of both Labor and Liberal forming a broad coalition to lock out the Greens? From what I recall Stanhope was quite pro-development and might find himself hamstrung by the Greens.

    Alternatively is it likely that- since Labor are the government-in-residence- they will not form any agreements at all and simply sit in a minority, forming temporary alliances with either Greens or Liberals when necessary? There doesn’t seem anything the Greens or Libs could do about this apart from a no-confidence motion, which the Greens wouldn’t do.

  5. The third seat in Ginninderra is really pretty safely Liberal at this stage, which, given the primary votes from both major parties, seems a bit of a joke, 41% ALP, 27% Libs and they both end up with 2 seats each. But that is the way of things, I suppose.

    The interesting race will be the last seat in Molonglo – If the Greens win it, then the Libs will have gone backwards at this election, despite their leader claiming a victory when there was a swing agains them in the polls.

  6. Australia Votes, the ACT Election site was last updated:

    19/10/2008 6:01:58 PM

    MDMConnell, I floated that idea in the last thread. In fact, there’s a letter in the Canberra Times today raising it as well. The thing is, even though Labor and the Libs have more in common with one another than The Greens, they’re so used to fighting each other that they couldn’t even contemplate it. Not to mention it would be particularly worrying if they went into coalition at territory level but were fighting at Federal level. ‘Grand coalitions’ are not unprecedented, but this is not the kind of situation where you would expect them to take place.

    On your second point – Labor would need to guarantee supply. That’s why they need The Greens.

  7. Oz

    “it would be particularly worrying if they went into coalition at territory level but were fighting at Federal level”

    This is the ACT government, which is regarded by many non-Canberrans as a puffed up local council. I’m sure these sorts of alliances are more common in local government. It wouldn’t have the same impact as the NSW or Vic state governments forming a grand alliance, for example.

    “Labor would need to guarantee supply”

    Suppose the greens blocked supply out of spite, what then? Labor would have to resign, meaning the greens would have to either
    a) Back the Liberals, which they probably wouldn’t do for ideological reasons
    b) force the people back to another election, and face a public backlash.

    No, there’s nothing the Greens could do if Labor snubbed them and sat in a minority. They’d have to pass supply and give general confidence support. Unless they really did want to support the Liberals.

  8. MDM – I agree with your conclusion about a Lib-Labor coalition, but I don’t think Labor and Liberal Party HQ see it that way so I think it’s not going to happen.

    Stanhope already has an issue problem with him being considered arrogant. If he tried to govern without consulting The Greens, who have already picked up the votes of disenchanted Labor voters, and there was another election, the backlash would go against him not against The Greens.

    I really don’t think the ‘negotiations’ will be that difficult. Guarantee light-rail, maybe some other ‘green’ initiatives and there you go. It would be very unlikely that The Greens supported the Libs but they have to make it out as though they are seriously negotiating lest they look like Labor stooges.

  9. I think the Greens are probably leaning towards Labor, but if Labor completely locks the Greens out and tries to go it alone then the Greens would not have trouble supporting a Liberal government. I’m sure Stanhope understands that. And I’d point out that, while the Labor Party in Tasmania is probably the most anti-Green ALP in the country (hence so much difficulty in the Accord), you’d have to say the ACT ALP is the closest to the Greens. It would be easier to have a Labor-Green alliance here than in, say, NSW, VIC, QLD, WA or SA (lets throw in NT for good measure).

  10. I think Stanhope should just continue to govern, without doing any deals with anyone. If the Greens block legislation and frustrate government, it will be on their heads. But if they play nice they will probably get most of what they want – except banning cars and making tofu compulsory

  11. In the ACT Executive power is vested in the Chief Minister. The Assembly elects the Chief Minister who then appoints a cabinet – so the first order of business is: “will the greens vote for Stanhope as Chief Minister?”. The answer is almost certainly ‘yes’, what is less certain is what the greens will want in exchange for that support. In the first Stanhope government he claimed a mandate by having eight seats and the Green accepted that without demur and supported him for CM and didn’t block any budgets – however she did frequently vote against the government on other bills and propose amendments.

  12. When you say “the Assembly elects the CM” – what does this mean? In a Westminster system the Crown or its representative appoints the head of government, and that person then retains office unless their term expires or they lose the confidence of the legislature. In the context of the ACT, when the results are finalised I presume Stanhope will go to the GG and say, I believe I can form a government, and if the GG accepts that proposition she will then recommission him. On the other hand the GG is free to consult with all party leaders in deciding whom to commission, and presumably if the Greens tell her that they will not support a new Stanhope government, then the GG will explore other options. Is that a correct description of the process, or does the ACT have a different process?

  13. Adam, in the ACT, the Assembly elects the Chief Minister. The GG has no role in the ACT. The self-government Act is written without an Adminstrator/Governor position. The Chief Minister in the ACT is always elected, not appointed. After an election or a passed vote of no-confidence, the Assembly’s first order of business is to elect a Chief Minister.

  14. There is no Executive Council either. Once bills are passed through the assembly, they are signed as passed by the speaker and come into force once published in the register of legislation.

  15. The G-G overturning ACT laws, such as the gay relationships laws, has been done by the Commonwealth exercising its power to over-turn any ACT law. It does this by instructing the G-G to overturn the law. Someone with a better knowledge of the technicalities can better explain the process.

    The Scottish and Welsh assemblies have adopted a similar process of electing First Ministers. Avoiding having to bother the Queen with such provincial matters.

  16. The GG does have the power to dissolve the Assembly though, via Section 16 of the Self Goverment Act if it ” a)is incapable of effectively performing its functions; or (b) is conducting its affairs in a grossly improper manner”. The ACT doesn’t have a constituition, self government is set out through the Act – which makes it easy for crusading Tories to come in a la Kevin Andrews and amend the act so the Assembly could no longer enact legislation relating to euthanasia.

    As Executive power is vested in the Chief Minister, it is technically possible for minister to be appointed who are not members of the Assembly.

  17. Antony, section 35 details how the GG can disallow an enactment – pretty much as you describe it, although it is not explicitly stated that the GG needs to be directed to do so by the Australian Parliament and she can also recommend amendments.

  18. And to think we’d have to deal with these fragile minority government situations if we actually did introduce multimember electorates in to the federal lower house…

  19. Yes, heaven forbid we collapse into the chaos which PR has wrought in New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, Tasmania and many other countries. What a disaster!

  20. Australian Capital Territory Self-Government Act 1989 (Cth), section 41 Ministers for the Territory, subsection 1: ‘The Chief Minister must appoint Ministers for the Territory from among the members of the Assembly.’

    So it is not possible to have ministers who are not members of the Assembly.

    To my mind, the interesting question is this one: Suppose the final result is, as seems likely 7-7-3. Then, when the Assembly comes to elect a Chief Minister, the Greens can either vote to put Stanhope in, or vote to put Seselja in, or abstain. What if they abstain? The Assembly will be unable to elect a Chief Minister.

    For that very reason, I expect that the Greens will not abstain. In that case, what if neither Labor nor the Liberals offer them anything? They will still have to make the choice.

    I don’t expect that will happen either, though.

  21. Yes, Antony, I know that the Assembly cannot proceed if it does not elect a Chief Minister.

    And (as I said) I know that in practice the Greens will vote to elect a Chief Minister so that there will be no deadlock.

    But in theory there is no mechanism to force them to vote to break a deadlock. If the vote comes out tied, all the Assembly can do is vote again. And if there’s still a deadlock they can vote again. And again. And (in theory) the Greens (or anybody else for that matter, if they held the tiebreaker votes) could keep on abstaining indefinitely.

  22. Since the assembly elects the Chief Minister, is it possible for the Greens to choose which ALP or Liberal will be Chief?

    As in, “We support the ALP but not Stanhope, pick someone else.” Not saying this might happen just wondering if its possible?

  23. The Chief Minister ballot is conducted by secret ballot. The abstaining option was tried back in 1989. The anti-self government Independents had hoped to join with the Liberals to oppose Rosemary Follett as Chief Minister, and so make the Assembly unworkable to have self-government canned. At the last minute, Labor agreed to an amedment to allow an election for Opposition leader. Then Labor and Liberal combined to elect a Chief Minister and Opposition Leader. Self-government went ahead.

    If the Greens were silly enough to try abstaining (I doubt they would be that silly), the Liberals at some point turn around, vote for Labor and accuse the Greens of being obstructionist. You can be sure the Greens won’t fall for that!

    Combining with the Liberals to get a different Labor Chief Minister might be interesting. But if Labor refused to budge, again you get a deadlock.

    It is in the interest of all three parties to make the Assembly work, so assume it will all be negotiated before any nastiness appears come the vote.

  24. Thanks J-D for the correction at 25 – not sure where I got it from, probably a frustrated Chief Minsiter wishing he could appoint ministers from outside the Assembly.
    The other question of course is who gets the ‘consolation prize’ of becoming Speaker. Tradition in the ACT is that it goes to either the biggest idiot and/or most dangerous maverick of the dominant party. The Greens have been aggrieved in the past by Speakers’ rulings – they may be tempted to accept the role of independent umpire.

  25. I have a question about distribution of preferences.

    Lets say I voted 1 for Katy Gallagher in Molonglo, who is on 1.26 of a quota. That means her excess 0.26 needs to be redistributed.

    How is the excess 0.26 determined?

    Lets say I’m an idiot and voted Motorist Party 2nd. I’m probably the only Gallagher voter who did that. Is it a matter of chance whether my vote falls in the 1.00 Gallagher quota that is not redistributed, or the 0.26 that is?

    Or is the redistribution done proportionally? Eg. is 0.206 of my vote sent to the Motorist Party?

    Thanks in advance.

  26. Random – the short answer is that all the preferences of the 1.26 quotas are distributed at a fractional value – so your 2nd preference lives on as a fraction – if no one else voted AMP 2 then it won’t go anywhere.

  27. To use the simplest explanation random, the answer is yes, 0.206. The Transfer Value on votes is 0.26/1.26 = 0.206. The actual transfer value calculation is done using votes, and exhausted preferences would not be included in the calculation, but in simplest terms, the above calculation is essentially right.

    The rules for transfer are still based on manual procedures and only integer value votes would be transferred. So if 10 of Gallagher’s preferences were to a Motoroist candidate, the transfer value is 0.206, so 2 votes get transferred. You get the odd ‘loss by fraction’ vote in this process.

  28. Thanks Antony – I imagine the fractions become even more complex when AMP drops out and the 2.06 Gallagher votes have to be redistributed again (assuming the 10 votes went differently on 3rd and subsequent preferences).

    No wonder ACT is trialling electronic voting.

  29. Hey Jimbo

    Check out

    What would happen in your case (and everyone else who voted KG 1st pref) would be:

    A transfer value is calculated by dividing the number of KG surplus votes by the number of papers expressing a 2nd preference.

    Counting the number of votes for each candidate for whom a 2nd preference is listed

    Multiplying that no. by the Transfer Value (and rounding down to the nearest integer) to get the no. of votes to be transferred.

    Adding those votes to the totals of each receiving candidate.

  30. ^There, found it.

    Antony, judging by preference flows, which I’m sure you’ve analysed, how do rate the chances of The Greens picking up a second seat in Molonglo?

  31. The ACT doesn’t need electronic voting it needs a better electoral system. Hare-CLarke with Robinson Rotation and a 100m exclusion from polling places on election day is not a good system and needs to be scrapped.

    (that said, I support secure, open source, paper-supported, electronic voting – Ivoted electronically this time and it was quite good.)

  32. I think the 100m rule might go. What they were really trying to stop was parties issuing tickets with suggested preferences, though the only party I actually saw doing this with newspaper ads in the ACT was the Greens. The ban works in Tasmania, but voters have a longer history of using Hare-Clark, and Tasmania isn’t a city-state like Canberra. Voters have much more knowledge of local candidates through the strongly regional nature of Tasmania, as well as the existence of local government.

    In New Zealand, any form of campaigning on polling day is banned. On the Friday before polling day, all advertising hoardings have to be taken down, all posters is gardens, all bunting removed. Might be a good idea here to get oll the signs taken of power poles.

  33. Oz, the Greens best chance is that the Liberals have 7 candidates for their 2.51 quotas, the Greens only 3 for their 1.47 quotas. That means there will be more leakage out of the Liberal ticket. However, I think the Liberals were getting more minor party drift to their ticket than the Greens. One to watch but I think the Liberal chances are slightly better.

  34. Now I’ve had a second look, I think the Green chances are not that good in Molonglo. Seselja has 1.5 quotas. On his election, the 0.5 quota gets distributed, leaving the Liberals with about 1.4 quotas split across 6 candidates. The Greens have 3 candidates, Rattenbury 0.88, and the Le Couteur on 0.30 and Kirschbaum on 0.29. When Kirschaum is eventually excluded, Rattenbury is elected, which leaves the Greens with about 0.4 to 0.5 quotas with a single candidate, le Couteur.

    The Liberal ticket is evenly spread, which means at some point, only two candidates remain splitting 1.4 quotas between them. So each of them has above 0.6 quotas, higher than the only remaining Green. So even if the one remaining Green has 0.5 and the two remaining Libs have only 1.4 quotas, the greens still can’t win the last seat because the only reamining Green has less than either of the two remaining Liberals.

    I won’t say the Greens can’t win the last seat, but their chances would be better if the Liberals had had two candidates with full quotas in their own right.

Comments Page 1 of 7
1 2 7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *