Final 2PP: 50.12-49.88 to Labor

The Australian Electoral Commission has finalised the last of its two-party preferred Labor-versus Coalition counts, and it confirms Labor has won a narrow victory on the national total of 6,216,439 (50.12 per cent) to 6,185,949 (49.88 per cent), a margin of 30,490. If distinctions to the second decimal place are what matters to you, Labor did about 0.05 per cent worse than last time due to the arbitrary fact of the Nationals finishing ahead of Wilson Tuckey in O’Connor, meaning the AEC finalised a two-party result on a Nationals-versus-Labor basis where the 2007 Liberal-versus-Labor result was more favourable to them. So while I think it reasonable to cite the published figure as the definitive national result, a slight discount should be factored in when considering the matter of the swing, which should properly be rounded to 2.5 per cent rather than 2.6 per cent.

Whatever the specifics, the result leaves quite a few people looking foolish:

Barnaby Joyce: “We’d won the two-party preferred vote by the time the independents made their decision.” (Lateline, 7/9).

Andrew Bolt: “Labor won fewer votes, fewer seats of its own and less of the two-party preferred vote.” (Herald Sun, 8/9).

Alan Jones: “Is it a healthy democracy when a party wins the majority of the two party preferred, wins the majority of the primary vote and wins more seats in the Parliament than the other party but the other party forms government?” (2GB, 8/9).

Sarah Martin: “Yesterday, Julia Gillard’s Labor Party won government despite losing the primary vote and the two-party-preferred vote, or securing a majority of seats.” (The Advertiser, 7/9).

Kerry Chikarovski: “The Coalition won the primary vote, they won the two-party preferred …” (The Drum, 7/9).

Lateline: “Labor loses two-party preferred vote” (report headline, 30/8).

Kenneth Wiltshire: “It is probable that the Coalition will win more third-party preferences.” (NB: This of course is absurd – Labor got 65 per cent of third party preferences, much as they always do – but I think we know what he’s trying to say.) (The Australian 6/9).

Lisa Wilkinson (to Wayne Swan): “Now, you won fewer primary votes, fewer two-party preferred votes and fewer seats.”
(Swan explains to her that she’s wrong.)
Wilkinson: “But in the end you got 49.9 per cent of the vote and the Opposition got 50.1.”
Swan: “No, I don’t think that’s … Lisa, that is not a final count.”
Wilkinson: “Well, that’s what the AEC is saying and that’s what Australia said at the polls.” (The Today Show, Nine Network, 9/9).

No doubt there were others.

Our troubles here began on August 30, when the AEC removed three electorates from the national total on the basis that the Labor-versus-Liberal counts there had been discontinued after election night, as it became apparent the Greens (in the case of Batman and Grayndler) or Andrew Wilkie (in the case of Denison) rather than the Liberals would face Labor at the final count. As three of the weakest seats in the land for the Liberals, these were by extension among the strongest seats for Labor in two-party terms. The resulting adjustment in Labor’s two-party vote from 50.4 per cent 50.0 per cent led to a great many uncomprehending reports of a “surge” to the Coalition, which had an added edge due to Julia Gillard’s post-election claim that Labor had, apparently, won the two-party vote. Those who wanted a clear and accurate exposition of the news had to ignore, say, The Australian, and look to an evidently more reliable source of information in Bob Brown, who explained the absence of eight electorates from the published result and correctly concluded: “If you look at the whole of Australia and you treat every seat equally, when you do that Labor’s ahead and is likely to keep that lead right the way through to the finishing pole.”

Antony Green defends journalists on the basis that they were within their rights to take an official AEC figure at face value, but I’m not so kind. Even if awareness of the missing electorates was too much to ask, those quoted above should at least have been aware that the count was incomplete. As it stands, we have a result that leaves those of us who had done the sums with exactly what we were expecting, and a lot of dopey pundits and dishonest politicians with egg on their faces.

UPDATE: Morgan has published results from a phone poll of 541 respondents conducted on Wednesday and Thursday evening which has Labor leading 52-48 on two-party preferred from primary votes of 35.5 per cent for Labor, 42.5 per cent for the Coalition and 15 per cent for the Greens. The margin of error on the poll is about 4.2 per cent.

UPDATE 2: As Peter Brent points out, the 52-48 result comes from the less reliable two-party measure based on respondent-allocated preferences – going on previous elections, which the most recent election has again vindicated as the superior method, Labor’s lead is only 50.5-49.5.

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.

2,186 comments on “Final 2PP: 50.12-49.88 to Labor”

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  1. [I did hear of an emperor who didn’t believe he was naked once…

    That scene in Return of the Jedi was cut…]

    you want this, don’t you? *shudder*

  2. A very short little article in the AFR:
    [Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has backed down on his public criticisim of the NSW Liberal Party over delayed preselections of candidates and warned colleagues against destructive recriminations about the federal election results…]
    It seems to me not uncommon for strictures against some behaviour to be the best evidence that some undesired behaviour is flourishing – so perhaps those “destructive recriminations” are indeed in full flight.

    But could there be another reason for Abbott’s conciliation? It’s not like it is actually his character. Well a few paragraphs on, behold…
    [NSW Liberal party sources have accused Mr Abbott of delaying some preselections by personally intervening over the choice of candidates.]

  3. [No he didn’t, to either.]

    Okay I must be a stupid fool. Remind me again why Rudd got stabbed in the back by his own party in his very first term, and why Gillies lost 17 seats.

    Either Abbott was a very effective opposition leader, or Labor are bloody useless, so which one is it?

  4. Ah truthy, the first term Prime Minister was already taken out before the Rabbott went to the election campaign he lost. Near enough ain’t good enough when it comes to coming second in a two horse race. Next!

  5. Socrates,

    [It will stop kooky solutions to peak oil, like some biofuels, or shale oil]

    missed the coal to liquid fuel (oil, diesel) etc projects proposed for 4 sites on the Darling Downs, inc the one which affects the Condamine Affluvium (Darling Headwaters); some claiming to be clean coal projects. I haven’t checked the “carbon/ CO & CO2” issues yet; just the threat to the GAB.

    Some of the Greens who followed Larissa Water’s & Bob Brown’s intervention in the farmers v miners dispute might like to add to this “little sleeper” (note, “coal-to-liquid-fuel” projects are not included in “coal-seam gas” projects). I know they need a great deal of water in a low-rainfall region; past that, nothing about th technology.

  6. [Of course you exclude LNP from the numbers in QLD.


    Ok, include it then.



  7. Oz Pol

    Yes you are right; unless the laws of chemistry have been repealed coal to oil is a disastrous process for greenhouse emissions too. You get all the emissions from burning the coal or oil, plus a lot more energy losses during the conversion process than if you just burnt straight coal or oil. More CO2, less energy 🙁

    The only reason people are pushing coal to oil is that it allows low grade coal deposits that are not viable for coal power to be exploited. They should be left in the ground.

  8. Digging further into the claims about compensation for asylum seekers covered by ABC News ( ) and the News Ltd papers I’ve managed to track down the actual Senate Estimates committee answer on notice on which Morrison based his (outageous) claims, reported as “soaring” costs of compensation by the News Ltd papers.

    The answer was actually provided prior to the election (back in early July it seems), on the basis of a question asked by The Greens Hanson-Young in May. You can find it at

    The first thing to note is that ALL of the claims related to people who were in immigration detention prior to 1 August 2007. In other words, they all relate to the period when the Howard government was in power, and to events relating to the treatment of Asylum seekers which the Howard government, not Labor, were responsible for. They include, for example, matters such as the payouts to Cornelia Rau, Vivian Solon, the 11-year-old Iranian boy Shayan Badraie (whose case Vanstone spent $1.5m fighting before paying $400,000 in compensation)!), and Van Phuc Nguyen who was granted refugee status in 1989, but in 2002 mistakenly thrown into Villawood Detention Centre where he was incarcerated until 2006

    The second thing to note is that the actual amounts paid were not “soaring” after Labor came to power. The total payments (though still for actions that occurred during the Howard years) were actually a little lower in 2008-2010 than they had been for the 2006 to 2008 period.

    By far the largest amounts here involved cases of wrongful detention – situations where people with legitimate rights to be in Australia were unlawfully incarcerated. Such money was NOT paid out to “Asylum seekers”, as claimed in the ABC headline, but to “immigration detainees” – people like Cornelia Rau and Vivienne Solon, neither of whom were “asylum seekers”.

    The Howard Government’s Immigration Dept annual report for the 2006-7 financial year indicates that the Ombudsman had referred some 247 other similar cases for compensatory action, and it is these old cases which have been flowing into the recent payments.

    The increase in payments has nothing to do with Labor and next to nothing to do with Asylum seekers. The simple fact is that we are still paying for the Howard government’s appalling neglect of proper process when it comes to immigration detention compensation.

  9. Morning all

    Rod Hagen

    Thanks for your follow up information regarding the asylum seeker compensation issue. Have you considered sending your post to the ABC?

  10. [Truthy is the definition of “a very effective opposition leader” now one who loses an election?]

    Well Bob Carr did much better than expected at the 1991 NSW state election, bringing them back from a shocking result at the previous election to a hung parliament. He then went on to win the next election. I’d say he was an effective opposition leader regardless of the fact he lost the first election.

    Abbott’s done very well to come so close, the test will be whether he can finish off the job at the next election. Too soon to tell whether he can.

  11. [the test will be whether he can finish off the job at the next election.]

    You don’t really believe that Abbott will still be Opposition Leader at the next election do you Ltep or do you subscribe to Chris Pyne’s line on Insiders yesterday that Rabbott can become Prime Minister without another election?

  12. steve, I’m saying I don’t know. I don’t think Abbott will become PM without another election and 99.9% of what Pyne said in that interview was nonsense (either outright lies/distortions or illogical garbage). At this stage I think it’s more likely than not he’ll still be leader at the next election but as victoria says, 3 years is a long time.

  13. Morning victoria, rod H

    Good work, Rod. Perhaps your material should be sent to the Minister for Immigration, in case he hasn’t had time to trace the background of the report!!

  14. If you look at the recent record, all 1st term Oppositon leaders federally have clawed back considerable ground on the government.

    Abbott’s swing was far from being anywhere near some of the swings achieved by other opposition leaders.

    The problem for the ALP was a smaller buffer than other previous first term governments had, in terms of the majority and seats with relatively safe margins.

    People have come to consider the periods of Rudd’s extraordinary polling as some sort of baseline to judge Abbott’s performance on, I prefer to look at the historical evidence.

    On this, his effort was mediocre.

  15. [The simple fact is that we are still paying for the Howard government’s appalling neglect of proper process when it comes to immigration detention compensation.]

    Rod, thanks for this.

    Will anybody call the opposition to account for their shoddy practices when in government?

  16. [Have you considered sending your post to the ABC?]

    That’s to assume the ABC is still interested in or capable of bringing substance and background to its coverage, as opposed to merely being a platform of easy virtue for the Coalition’s daily talking points, whatever they may be on any given day.

    [The Federal Opposition says …]

  17. Ron said:
    [… BEFORE they is assessed if they got health issues danger to oz public or our fauna , and BEFORE they is assessed for National security]
    Simply not true.
    [· house asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa in publicly owned and managed open reception centres, where entry and exit to these centres are unrestricted except where prohibited for medical or security reasons specified in clause 28.

    · grant asylum seekers an asylum application visa (AAV) and assist without delay their move into the community provided medical and security checks are satisfied or after 14 days has passed, whichever occurs first.

    · deny an AAV if security checks demonstrate the person poses a serious criminal threat to the Australian community or if the person has not remained housed in the reception centre while the medical and security checks were completed.]

    Zoomster said:
    [The Greens appear to be the only group of any political colour who are arguing against regional processing.]
    You must have missed my earlier posts regarding asylum seekers. Here is part of one:

    Media release by S H-Y, 9/7/2010
    [* Push Australia to take a leading role in the region by hosting any regional processing centre.]

  18. I have noticed online that unflattering photographs of Tony Abbott are appearing in news reports . I expect there to be a skew to these by following links in PB, but photos are appearing that seemed absent during the election period. I wonder if the media lovefest is starting ever so slowly to shrivel up for Tone.

  19. [I wonder if the media lovefest is starting ever so slowly to shrivel up for Tone.]

    It’s infuriating that, apparently in the interest of “giving us a contest”,, they loved-in with the Abbott so light-headedly that he almost managed to slither into power.

    And there would we have been, eh? Country in the grip of right wing radicals with a knuckle-dragging flat-earther leading the charge.

    Actually, the description ‘infuriating’ doesn’t do what happened to this democracy justice. To give a dodgy and know-to-be dishonest Opposition leader the softest media ride of any OL in history was a pernicious undermining of democracy that must never be allowed to recur.

  20. Cuppa the Teaparty doesn’t like the ABC it seems.

    Becoon AusTeaParty’s post “We’re all sick of the smirking lefties of the ABC..If complaints don’t work, it’s time to march on ABC offices..”#auspol 13 minutes ago via web

  21. Cuppa, hear, hear. And as I watch Rudd very comfortably travelling on the world stage, I wonder where the international relations commentariat, such as Paul Sheehan, were when there was a very real possibility that Abbott and Bishop would be our international representatives. Not one word about what sort of disaster that would have been.

  22. Steve,

    That sort of twaddle allows the likes of Ltep the to say, “Well, both sides complain about the bias, so it must mean they ABC is right in the middle.”

  23. Peg, I did read those posts, thank you.

    I think we differ on what a ‘regional processing centre’ is.

    Like most refugee groups, when I use the term I use it to mean one in a country closer to where the refugees are ‘sourced’ from – otherwise you don’t cut out the ‘dangerous trip by sea’ option.

  24. [ABC lefties are like cockroaches and they hate the light. Shine some on them.]

    Eloquently put.

    Also love these comments which must surely be made in jest:

    [There is no doubt that the ABC lean to the left.
    What I am starting to be more worried about however is that SKY NEWS and the AGENDA crew seem to love the left just as much.]

    [Exactly right, SKY, brought to you by GetUp!, are as bad as the ALPBC!]

    Wait… the whole site is a parody?

  25. Pegasus,
    It seems sensible to me for Australia to host the regional processing centre, except that people will try to cross the sea to get here. Is there anywhere else in the region we can put an RPC so that people do not have to sail across the ocean? Who knows how many of them have drowned trying to get here. There must be a better way than that.

    On the topic of asylum seekers, I do not know how we can send any female back to places like Afghanistan. (I know we sent one young woman back to a country with Sharia-type laws who had lived most of her life in Australia. I can’t envisage that turning out well, she is probably dead by now.)

    How about the UN flying the whole female population (with their children) out of the place and leave the men to fight it out.

    Same for Democratic Republic of Congo where there is so much rape and mutilation of women and girls as a act of war. Take all the women and kids out; the women do not come back until there is a safe and respectful place for them to live in.

    Instead of a womens’ refuge house, we need a womens’ refuge country.

  26. Kit,

    [I wonder where the international relations commentariat, such as Paul Sheehan, were when there was a very real possibility that Abbott and Bishop would be our international representatives. Not one word about what sort of disaster that would have been.]

    They were probably rubbing their hands together in journalistic self-interest. Anticipating all the stories they’d have been able to write about faux pas and ineptness coming from the (Coalition) government.

  27. I understand being the OL in a minority govt, the desire to keep Abbott on. Stability is the best thing for the Coalition right now, as they are just 4 seats away from winning a majority government, so I will not question the logic of keeping him on.

    However, I will point out the bullshit of claiming he is some great leader for bringing about what was a 7 seat gain on a 2.5% swing. That makes him just slightly below par for your OL (who has faced an election.) Combined with the fact that there was clearly dissatisfaction with the government, a good opposition leader would’ve won this election handily. No amount of spin is going to change that fact. Abbott has a lot of work ahead of him if he is to win the next election (he won’t have the NSW Labor govt, or probably the QLD to scapegoat by then – and forget the Rudd factor as well. Not to mention Julia Gillard having had established herself as the incumbent – and thus having all the benefits thereof.)

  28. Cuppa
    [It’s infuriating that, apparently in the interest of “giving us a contest”,, they loved-in with the Abbott so light-headedly that he almost managed to slither into power. ]
    I think that only explains some of the behavior, eg Fairfax & Oaks on Channel Nine.

    For the rest, especially ABC and The Oz, it was naked self interest: turfing Labor before they could either build an NBN that harm’s your owner’s monopoly profit (the Oz), or remove from the board the right wing plants that supported your appointment (ABC).

  29. [If we sold all the copper in the network the return would be between 9-14 billion

    stick that in your pipe


    I posted that on peter martins blog

    the reality is that part of the cost of the NBN will be funded from the asset being replaced

    not the other way around

  30. [For the rest, especially ABC and The Oz, it was naked self interest: turfing Labor before they could either build an NBN that harm’s your owner’s monopoly profit (the Oz), or remove from the board the right wing plants that supported your appointment (ABC).]

    I think this is critical for everyone to understand. No matter the party politics, ideology, or anything else at the time, the continued uninterrupted profit and control by big business is either upheld by whomever is in power, or they will come down on you like a sledgehammer. And a nice “bucket-o-sh*t” served up daily through the MSM if you try and stare them down.

    The NBN is a particularly dog-poo sandwich for the likes of News/Fox. They know that the control over media and bandwidth is paramount to their continued profits. They won’t be going away, but the NBN will be akin to opening up TV/Radio broadcasting to the masses, no matter the size of the broadcaster.

  31. ABC online
    [The Opposition says Prime Minister Julia Gillard needs to approach Papua New Guinea about re-opening the detention centre on Manus Island instead of planning to build more detention centres on Australian soil.
    The governor of the Manus province wrote to PNG’s prime minister last month to raise the issue, saying the reopening of the centre would revitalise the local economy.
    The Federal Government is negotiating with East Timor’s government to open an offshore processing centre in the country.
    But Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says Ms Gillard would approach the PNG government if she was serious about offshore processing.
    “Papua New Guinea has a centre that was used under the previous Coalition government,” he said.
    “It is a signatory to the refugee convention, which the Prime Minister said was an important criteria for her.
    “The province of Manus Island is very happy to re-open the centre and there is an opportunity I think to hold discussions with the PNG government.”]

    Does anyone agree with me that it is making trouble for the Oppn to be rushing making pseudo policies with other countries?

  32. [brought to you by GetUp!,]
    The neo-cons hate GetUp it seems. GetUp targets issues, not parties, they advocate for issues that are a problem for Labor as easily as for Lib/Nat coalition.
    The fact that Howard attacked democracy and vulnerable groups put issues the issues out there for an online organisation like GetUp to go into bat for change. Interestingly it is still the Howard legacy which is providing big wins for GetUp, the enfranchisement rights of Australians.

    In the olden days, people who were affected by these issues either wrote letters, joined the opposite party, marched in the streets (and got arrested) or sat at home seething. The likes of Howard could do and did what they liked, by just throwing money at voters at election time. Now it is different, and we all know how.

  33. Where do the Taliban get their weapons from right now.
    Haven’t seen that.
    Those they captured from the Russians would be worn out.
    Except those the Yank’s gave them later on.

    Who are we fighting?
    It’s tremendous be naive until someone tries to kill you.

  34. [Thanks for your follow up information regarding the asylum seeker compensation issue. Have you considered sending your post to the ABC?]

    I have sent the following as a formal complaint to them, victoria:

    Yesterday (19th September, 2010) ABC News ran a story misleadingly headed “Asylum seekers get $5.4m in compensation” in which the Shadow Minister Scott Morrison alleged this indicated a blow out in future compensation payments – see

    The headline for the story is highly misleading. The Senate Estimates answer mentioned in the story (which was readily available to your journalist on line at ) relates to “alleged injury to immigration detainees or alleged wrongful detention of immigration detainees ” NOT to “Asylum Seekers” . Examples of the sort of matters which are included in the figures are the highly publicised Solon and Rau cases, neither of which involved “Asylum Seekers” in any way.

    It should also be noted that the figures include at least some of the Government’s legal costs involved in the cases. The headline is therefore misleading about not only the recipients of this expenditure, but also the actual quantum of moneys received by them.

    The article accordingly breaches clause 3.2 of the ABC’s Code of Conduct which states: “3.2 Every reasonable effort, in the circumstances, must be made to ensure that the factual content of news and current affairs is accurate and in context.”

    The ABC, I would suggest, needs to exercise far greater care in a highly contentious area of public debate such as this. I draw your attention to Section 5 of the ABC Code of Conduct in this respect.

    Errors of the kind contained here are also likely to re-inforce negative stereotypes of asylum seekers as a group, implying pecuniary factors rather than a need to escape from dire circumstance, as the primary motivation for their actions. This would appear to contravene aspects of section 2.7 of the ABC Code of Conduct.

    The story also suffers from the omission of a matter of the greatest importance in understanding the matters referred to, and as a consequence further contravenes the Code of Conduct 3.2 provision concerning “context”.

    The Senate Estimates answer referred to makes it abundantly clear that the events from which the compensation and related costs accrued all occurred during the period when the Howard government was in power. No mention whatsoever is made of this in the ABC story.

    Instead it speaks only of a period ” over the past two years”. The clear implication is that the events being compensated for also occurred during this time period, when in fact they ALL relate to events occurring prior to the 1st August 2007!

    No attempt appears to have been made by the journalist concerned to balance the claims of Mr Morrison by seeking responses from any other party (whether it be from government, from refugee advocates, or even from the actual Senator whose Senate Estimate question prompted the answer, Hanson-Young (see at L&C 37).)

    I ask that the ABC formally investigate this matter and as a matter of priority publish an article correcting the serious errors and contextual omissions which it contains.

  35. Here is an interesting article about a paper, “The Psychology of Global Warming”, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

    The two authors, psychology lecturer Ben Newell and climate scientist Professor Andy Pitman, identified normal psychological phenomena, such as “sampling issues” and “framing” that can tend to turn people into climate “deniers”.

    [”Simply presenting the facts and figures about global warming has failed to convince large portions of the general public, journalists and policy makers about the scale of the problem and the urgency of required action,” the paper says.]

    Methinks a “community consensus” regarding climate change might prove to be rather difficult.

  36. Pegasus

    Yes, I read that. One of the points seemed to be that as soon as info becomes “technical’ (such as 0.2 instead of 20% or 2 in every 10 🙂 ) people tend to tune out as the number seems so small.

    Scientists, I believe, do not recognise how science-illiterate most ordinary people are.
    For eample, a report stating that a degree of warming is “significant” has a more specific statistical meaning than “I’m writing this to show you something”.

    Trouble is, as soon as a paper is translated into ordinary-speak, it tends to lose its “significance”.

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