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”

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  1. I think the Administrator of the NT behaves like a state Governor, although since the NT is not a constitutional entity he/she can’t have a direct relationship with the Crown as the state Governors do. I assume he/she is appointed by the GG on the advice of the NT CM, and operates under some sort of delegated power from the GG.

  2. No hard ref, albatross: but my understanding is that this is not in any way controversial. Bob Brown was there on duty at the hospital when Hendrix arrived, dead.

  3. Thats my understanding too: NT is more ‘parallel’ to the states than ACT apparently is. Now, if someone can just explain where Norfolk Island stands these days since the review in 2000- ish, I’ll be across most shit.

  4. This Green growth around the country is a big problem that isn’t good for Australia’s future. Bring on a referendum and abolish compulsory voting. I want Australia to have voluntary voting by the 2010 federal election.

  5. Let me get this right Bree. Because the people of Australia are voting for someone you dont like, you want to change the rules?
    Petty much?

  6. It wasn’t even close – Le Couteur beat Jones by 921 votes. And it wasn’t a result of the split between the surviving Liberals – their combined vote wasn’t enough to get them both up with an even split.

  7. [I’d like to see what makes Bree think the Greens would do worse under voluntary voting.]

    I’d say the opposite would occur, due to the demographic of Greens voters.

  8. I’m not sure where, but there have been news articles which have mentioned Bob being in the room when Jimi Hendrix came into hospital. But I don’t know where.

    Please, Bree, let’s abolish compulsory voting, that’d be fantastic!

  9. 209

    [Canberra is a city full of what I call crazy left-wing looneys].

    Bree, just curious. What for you represents a “crazy left-wing looney”?

  10. If compulsory voting were abolished before 2010, it would make almost no immediate difference, because the habit of voting in Australia is so ingrained. In the long run the level of voting would decline, because a certain proportion of young people would not acquire the voting habit as they reached 18. In the US voting is strongly related to age – the older you are, the more likely you are to vote (particularly if you’re white). The same would be true here, but because we are a better-integrated society than the US (thanks to a century of social-democratic politics), the voting rate would stay higher than it is in the US. I think it would fall to maybe 80% over time. The longterm losers would be Labor, because it would be mainly low-income, low-education and NESB people who dropped out of voting. The winners would be the Greens, whose voters tend to be affluent and well-educated and thus much more likely to vote.

  11. There is very little chance that compulsory voting will be abolished in Australia. Past surveys show that a large majority of Australians support it.

  12. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of a discussion on the Greens taking the last seat in Molonglo. It means that Labor is on 7, Liberals 6, Greens 4. Labor has around 6% more of the vote than the Liberals.

    The ACT has spoken – they want a Labor/Green minority government.

  13. [Labor is on 7, Liberals 6, Greens 4.]

    Who would be the opposition if lib and Green got 5 each? as may happen at the next ACT election.

  14. Well the most you can say is they don’t want either a Labor or Liberal majority government and would probably prefer Labor in government overall.

    Of course the people who voted Green entrust the Greens to make the decision as to what way to vote to produce the best outcome for Canberrans. If they do decide to back a Liberal Government it will be their role to explain why to the people and demonstrate that this will lead to better outcomes for those that trusted them with their vote.

  15. Castle, the ACT Legislative Assembly votes for the Leader of the Opposition. I’d imagine Labor and Liberal would reach a decision among themselves to keep the titles of official Government and Opposition away from the Greens.

  16. @220

    Doubtful. I don’t see the Greens and the Liberals on a near equal vote next election. This election was the perfect storm due to the dissatisfaction with Stanhope Labor, and even moreso for the Zeselja Liberals.


    It’s a PR house, what do you expect? Only once has the ACT had a majority government, Labor, last election. It’s business as usual now.

  17. In Tasmania after the 2002 election the numbers in the House of Assembly were: Labor, 14; Liberal, 7; and Green, 4. It may have started informally earlier, but certainly at this time the Government began to refer to the parties as ‘the Liberal opposition’ and ‘the Green opposition’. Of course, this is slightly at odds with the Westminster convention of one opposition but it drove the Liberals mad which is maybe why Labor pushed it so much! The Greens certainly didn’t mind the added status. So the case of having two similarly sized opposition parties has happened before, and that is how it was resolved in Tasmania in 2002. It’s different in the ACT this time though; with two of the three parties needing to form a coalition of some description.

  18. Well, I’m sure the Greens would take the title “the Green opposition”, if they were in opposition, but they won’t be, they’ll be in some relationship with the government.

    But it doesn’t really mean anything. I’m sure if you had an even Lib-Green split and somehow Labor got a majority (say it was increased to 21 and it was 11-5-5) then they would probably be given equal status and resources.

    With voluntary voting, I think our vote wouldn’t fall to US levels, but would probably settle to 60-70% without electoral reform. There’s clearly a tendency that countries like the US and UK, where most people’s votes genuinely are irrelevant to the outcome, where people understandably don’t care. Our system is a bit better, but it remains that most people live in safe seats where their vote doesn’t matter (there is the Senate, but most people wouldn’t consider that), and the turnout would plummet in those seats. Voluntary voting would work a lot better if we fixed the system so people actually had more of an incentive to vote (ie. PR).

  19. If the Greens support a Liberal government in the ACT they will do themselves immense damage in the rest of the country. At the federal level and in all states except Tas, the Green objective is to take votes from the Labor left, trading on the belief that Labor governments aren’t left-wing enough. These voters won’t defect to the Greens if they fear the result will be a Liberal-National government.

  20. They wont Adam. (“Zed’s dead baby”).

    But they’re hardly going to roll over upfront, are they? Or they wouldn’t get anything from the ALP.

    As a Green voter, I cant tell you I expect my party to extract maximum concessions – in line with the platform – from the other governing party for this sort of support. Thats what I expect to see.

    First Green Ministers in AU are now a lay-down misere after. Its a big moment.

  21. Labor could of course call the Greens on their bluff and refuse them a ministry. The Greens would certainly know it is in their best interests to have a Labor government.

  22. Adam, since you’ve expostulated twice about the use of a ‘republican’ system for the formation of a government in the ACT, I thought you might be interested in the system codified in Chapter 6 of Sweden’s 1974 Instrument of Government. The responsibility is placed on the Speaker of the Riksdag to consult with all parties in the Riksdag, confer with the Deputy Speakers, and place a proposal for the appointment of a Prime Minister before the Riksdag. The Riksdag must vote on the proposal and it is adopted unless more than half the members of the Riksdag vote against it. If four proposals in a row from the Speaker are rejected, new elections for the Riksdag are held. The Speaker, on behalf of the Riksdag, issues a Prime Minister’s letter of appointment. A Prime Minister’s request for discharge is acted on by the Speaker. If the Riksdag carries a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, either the Speaker discharges the Prime Minister or new elections are called. All these functions are vested in the Speaker and not the King, even though Sweden continues to be a monarchy.

  23. Yes I remember when Olaf Palme brought that constitution in. He said he was a republican, but recognised the historical status of the House of Bernadotte in Swedish history, so instead of abolishing the monarchy he proposed separating it entirely from the system of government, leaving the King purely as a symbol of state. As I recall, the King doesn’t approve legislation either.

    Does that mean that after each election the Riksdag must meet and elect a Speaker before there can be a government? Or does the Speaker of the previous Riksdag retain office until there is a new government in place?

  24. Adam, as far as I can make out:
    (a) the Speaker holds office until the new Riksdag meets (Article 5 of Chapter 3 and Article 2 of Chapter 4);
    (b) the government holds office until a new one takes office (Article 8 of Chapter 6).

    Since the Speaker’s proposal for a new Prime Minister must be placed before the Riksdag for approval (Article 2 of Chapter 6), it would seem to follow that the usual sequence at election time is this:
    new Riksdag convenes, automatically terminating tenure of outgoing Speaker and obliging Riksdag to choose a new one (or, of course, the same one for another term);
    if Prime Ministership vacant (as it would be if the outgoing Prime Minister has resigned, although still continuing in ‘caretaker’ capacity), Speaker (thus, the new one) initiates procedure for appointment of new Prime Minister.

    You can see the whole document here:

    It might also interest you to know that I have heard ACT Labor people talk about the republican structure of the system there as if it was a conscious choice.

  25. @234

    No, they’ll argue for policy outcomes to the left of what both parties are used to, which is a good thing.

    That doesn’t make them communists. Put down your ALP card for a few moments and you might see that.

  26. Tbh, I’d prefer they didn’t get into bed with Labor. Unless they are given freedom to speak out against issues they don’t believe in.

  27. Adam: It’s sad to see you drifting further toward loony conspiracy theory territory. The ongoing Green-baiting trolling makes no sense (unless you’re high, perhaps, in which case you might want to drop back on the weed), and just means that we have someone who comes across like Paddy McGuinness back from the grave repeatedly talking crap through these threads. I think it’s interesting, though – since it’s this sort of crap from Labor hacks that is making many in the Greens wholly more sympathetic to the Liberals (just as the reverse happened with the Nationals).

    I also think you’re very wrong about the Greens existing to take votes from Labor Left. I see the Greens as being a party of concern about the environment and social welfare – and thus just as able to take voters from the moderate end of the Liberal Party, as well as anywhere in Labor left of the SDA. There is absolutely no reason we shouldn’t support the Liberals in exchange for social and environmental reform, especially when (as at the federal level) Labor is pretty hopeless on those.

    While I ultimately expect that Labor and the Greens will come to an accord here and return Stanhope as Chief Minister, in the event that Labor follows the lame Green-baiting course that Adam suggests, I would wholeheartedly endorse throwing Labor out on their arse and installing Zed Seselja as Chief Minister in exchange for taking a couple of key related portfolios (infrastructure, transport, housing, environment perhaps).

    I also think Hunter was a good choice for Greens leader, having met her out campaigning on election day, and after hearing the thoughts of others in the party. It’s a good sign for us keeping the focus on social welfare issues and not ditching them for a harder focus on environmentalism, considering her background.

    As for ministries – I think this would be a very bad idea in a Labor government, but a good idea in a Liberal one. In a Liberal one, taking portfolios in our core areas would give us some control over their handling, and result in better outcomes down in the line; in a Labor government, we’ve got nothing to gain except from being tarred with the brush of Stanhope’s next stuffups.

  28. Rebecca, I try to keep reminding myself that Greens have no sense of humour, but, you know, I have a lot of other things to remember, like who won East Sydney in 1934 and stuff, and sometimes I forget.

    I stand by my view that the Greens take most of their votes from the Labor left – I know this because I know most of their names.

    If you want to go into government with the Libs, go right ahead. Two things will happen: they’ll screw you over, like Borbidge did when you foolishly put him into government in Qld in 1995; and your voters will desert you in droves, or at least in old VWs painted funny colours.

  29. Oh come on, Adam. That’s about as “funny” as Andrew Bolt’s latest rantings, albeit less coherent. And you know the names of…who exactly? That doesn’t make any sense.

    The Queensland example was a cock-up from all sides. The Qld Greens didn’t extract enough for the price they paid, and without parliamentary representation, didn’t have any means to enforce their policies when it came time to actually implement them. Here, we have the numbers to force the Liberals to enact elements of our policy agenda – and I dare say our supporters here are a lot more open to the concept of us backing the Liberals. (Try attending a Greens fundraiser here and see the crowd it attracts and you’ll know what I mean.)

    Just as we did in 1995-98, and as the Tasmanian Greens did in the same period, we can work perfectly well the Liberals – and survive just fine for it.

  30. LTEP: Absolutely – most of the swing against the government for the various screwups and unpopular decisions of the last four years went to us. It’s all the more reason why we shouldn’t instantly turn around and get into bed with them, and if it comes to it, work with their opposition.

  31. But if the Greens support the Liberals for government you don’t acknowledge that it’s most likely a fair chunk of those voters will return to Labor at the next election?

  32. Perhaps. But I think we’ve reached a point where we need to seriously consider that risk, and stop the party and our policies being jerked around by the Labor Party. While it’d risk some potential hurt in 4 years, I suspect we’d still manage to hold at least 3 of those 4 seats, and it’d send a powerful message about where we stand.

  33. You’re both right – the Greens DO take ALP left votes. Thats obvious enough from the lower house seats they are competitive in. However, numbers heads at the Greens tell me a full 10% of their vote is ex-Tories who’d never vote ALP in a fit.

    So thats a full 1.0-1.5% of the electorate voting progressive, who otherwise wouldn’t. And that, my friends, in a close preferential system is called: “winning the election”, aka, GOVERNMENT.

  34. I honestly think Green voters would care more about progressive policy outcomes than any inherent fear of the Liberals. It’s Labor that has the irrational fear of the Liberals, and vice versa.

    The logical extension of the argument that The Greens should join Labor rightaway because they are closer in policy terms is that the actual government should be Labor/Liberal.

  35. I’m sorry I voted Green and have a ‘fear’ of the Liberals. The nonsense we put up with for 11 years under Howard is enough to scare anyone. The Greens siding with the Liberals is about the only thing I can think of that would make me think twice about voting for them again next time.

    The best option would be to support Labor and wait until they do something to offend the left spectrum and then kick them out with a no-confidence motion.

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