NSW election: photo finishes

UPDATE: Results in: Greens 20, Coalition (Nationals) 21, Hanson 22. Final upper house result: Coalition 11, Labor 5, Greens 3, Christian Democratic 1, Shooters and Fishers 1.

Tuesday, April 12. I’ve allowed this post to go dormant since a week after the election, since when the last lower house seat of Balmain was decided in the Greens’ favour. The big news now is that the button will be pushed on the Legislative Council count this morning, and that Pauline Hanson’s chances have firmed considerably after she moved ahead of not only the third Green, but also the eleventh Coalition candidate. This leaves these three candidates battling for the last two places. The general expectation was that Labor preferences would put the Greens ahead of Hanson, but there now seems an even money chance that she will win a seat all the same. Antony Green explains all. I’ve changed the time stamp on this post to move it to the top of the page, to allow easier access for anyone who wants to comment on the events as they unfold.

Thursday. The NSWEC hasn’t updated the figures, but the ABC results and various news reports tell us absent votes have boosted the Greens to a 218 vote lead over Labor, which Verity Firth will now have to rein in on independent and minor party preferences. Another coat of paint has been removed from Nathan Rees’ lead in Toongabbie, but his lead may be enough.

Wednesday. Labor’s lead has narrowed in Toongabbie, East Hills continues to drift away from them and Balmain remains as much of a wild card as it always was. However, Noreen Hay now looks safe in Wollongong. Nothing today from Oatley.

Tuesday. No further progress in East Hills or Balmain, but Oatley has slipped from Labor’s grasp in today’s counting and the margin in Wollongong has been cut still finer. The latter will come down to absent votes, none of which have been added yet – a clear trend one way or the other would decide the result.

Monday. Late counting has seen any hope for Labor go in Monaro and almost certainly Swansea as well, and things are souring for them in Wollongong as well. East Hills and Oatley are still too close to call, and Balmain remains a wild card. The numbers are thus Coalition 67, Labor 19 and independents three with four in doubt, one of which could go to the Greens. The other turn-up today is that Legislative Council counting has put Pauline Hanson on to the ABC computer’s projection to win the final seat. Antony Green has written a post on why he thinks this unlikely but not impossible – more on this at the bottom of the page.

Sunday. Excluding seats where the ABC computer has the margin at less than 2 per cent, the numbers currently stand at Coalition 64 (Liberal 47 and Nationals 17), Labor 18 and three independents. That leaves eight seats “in doubt”, although in some cases not really. These will be dealt with in turn below. The tables show the two-candidate preferred counts using the most complete figures available, swings for each type of vote matched against the equivalent result from 2007, the number of exhausted votes, the total number of formal votes counted and – to give some sense of how many votes there might be outstanding for a given vote type – the total number of such votes from 2007.

The NSWEC publishes “election night” and “post-election night” figures of the polling booth results, with the latter being the re-checks. In some cases the latter are not fully completed, and it is these partly complete figures which show on the electorate summary pages on the NSWEC site (although the results table on the index page uses the election night figures). Where this is the case, I have used the complete election night figures rather than the incomplete post-election night ones.

EAST HILLS (Margin: 14.1%)

Wednesday. Continues to drift away from Labor, with 3742 absent votes increasing the Liberal lead from 207 to 303.

Sunday. The Liberals led by two whole votes on polling booth figures, but they have gained ground today with 1860 pre-poll votes breaking 954-741 their way.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 15,315 50.0% 15,318 50.0% -14.0% 2,970 33,603 34,578
Absent 1,483 48.4% 1,579 51.6% -19.3% 541 3,603 2,400
Postal 0 0 0 0 2,260
Pre-Poll 741 43.7% 954 56.3% -17.5% 165 1,860 1,916
Other 0 0 0 0 188
TOTAL 17,539 49.6% 17,851 50.4% -14.6% 3,676 0 188
Projection 49.5% 50.5% -14.6%

OATLEY (Margin: 14.4%)

Tuesday. Labor’s gain on pre-polls has been pretty much reversed by the addition of 3000 postals which have added 232 to the Liberal margin, now 321.

Sunday. The Liberal candidate had a 332 vote lead on polling booth votes, but Labor member Kevin Greene has chased down 243 with the addition of 3055 pre-polls.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 15,397 49.5% 15,727 50.5% -14.7% 2,218 33,342 33,965
Absent 0 0 0 0 2,947
Postal 1,333 45.9% 1,568 54.1% -17.8% 168 3,069 3,023
Pre-Poll 1,538 54.3% 1,294 45.7% -11.7% 220 3,052 2,348
Other 89 50.0% 89 50.0% -6.9% 16 99 125
TOTAL 18,357 49.6% 18,678 50.4% -14.7% 2,622 99 125
Projection 49.5% 50.5% -14.8%

SWANSEA (Margin: 10.8%)

Wednesday. Another 400 postal votes added, breaking 194 to 160 and increasing the very secure Liberal lead to 825.

Tuesday. Labor has picked up 43 votes from 3462 postals, which have gone 1544-1501, but it’s too little too late.

Sunday. Labor’s Robert Coombs trailed by 491 votes on the polling booths, and has gone a further 318 votes backwards with the addition of 1883 pre-polls and 43 institution votes.

LABOR LIBERAL Swing Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 14,556 49.1% 15,064 50.9% -11.8% 5,528 35,148 35,360
Absent 377 49.5% 385 50.5% -8.7% 155 917 3,078
Postal 1,704 50.1% 1,695 49.9% -15.0% 463 3,862 3,209
Pre-Poll 660 40.5% 968 59.5% -16.7% 255 1,883 1,727
Other 12 35.3% 22 64.7% -32.0% 9 43 120
TOTAL 17,309 48.8% 18,134 51.2% -12.1% 6,410 43 120
Projection 48.6% 51.4% -12.3%

WOLLONGONG (Labor vs Independent)

Wednesday. Absent votes have indeed behaved different to pre-polls and postals, favouring Labor 615-445. This has increased Noreen Hay’s lead to 442, enough for her to claim victory.

Tuesday. Another 1406 postals have maintained the trend of the first 1783 in shaving 111 off the Labor lead, which is now down to 263. However, with pre-polls presumably done with and the addition of postal votes down to a trickle, most outstanding votes are absents, and these may well behave very differently.

Monday. The two-candidate count between Labor’s Noreen Hay and independent challenger Gordon Bradbery made Hay appear home and hosed, with a margin of 2.5 per cent off the polling booth votes. However, subsequent counting has gone disastrously for her: pre-polls have favoured Bradbery by a remarkable 2173-1300, and he has further gained 766-680 on postals. This has whittled Hay’s lead down to 389, with the trend running heavily against her.

LABOR INDEPENDENT Exhaust Formal 2007
Ordinary 13,938 52.5% 12,605 47.5% 818 33,455 34,723
Absent 615 58.0% 445 42.0% 0 0 3,648
Postal 1,201 46.3% 1,393 53.7% 92 3,189 2,844
Pre-Poll 1,300 37.4% 2,173 62.6% 90 4,359 1,644
Other 27 54.0% 23 46.0% 0 0 622
TOTAL 17,081 50.7% 16,639 49.3% 1,000 0 622

MONARO (Margin: 6.3%)

Monday. With 674 pre-polls breaking 3578-2890 the Nationals’ way, John Barilaro now holds an unassailable of 1275.

Sunday. The Nationals have a 1 per cent lead which it would take something remarkable to undo. The addition of 4300 pre-polls haven’t provided it, going 2108 to 1957 the way of Nationals candidate John Barilaro, who now leads Labor member Steve Whan by 754 votes.

BALMAIN (Margin: 3.8% versus Greens)

Thursday. The Greens have reportedly moved to a 203 vote lead over Labor on the primary vote, but the NSWEC figures haven’t been updated. The ABC figure has the lead at 218. Their challenge now is to keep that lead with the distribution of independent and minor party preferences, including those of Maire Sheehan, a council rival of Greens candidate Jamie Parker who polled 1373 votes.

Wednesday. About 4300 more votes have been added, mostly postals, and they have very much reflected the overall trend in slightly favouring the Liberal candidate (1468 votes) with Labor (1303) just shading the Greens (1274) for second place. However, this does not reflect the trend of 2007 when Labor did much better on postals than on ordinary votes (44.3% compared with 39.6%), and the Greens much worse (24.1% compared with 29.5%). The two main types of vote yet to be added, pre-polls and absents, were much stronger for the Greens. However, any lead the Greens open with the addition of these votes will have to be defended against a probable flow of independent preferences to Labor. In any event, Labor are currently ahead of the Greens by 139 votes, up from 111.

Sunday. The Liberals hold a narrow lead on the primary vote, with Labor and the Greens mixing it on 30.4 per cent and 30.0 per cent respectively. Given the likelihood the Liberals will stay in front, the NSWEC’s Labor-versus-Greens count is of little use. What matters is who out of Labor and the Greens finishes second, as I would assume that whichever of the two makes it to second will then overtake the Liberals on the other’s preferences. The precedent of 2007, when post-election night counting saw Labor’s vote fall 0.3 per cent and the Greens hold steady, suggests there won’t be much in it.


Thursday. Pre-polls and “enrolment new votes” have gone 546-521 in favour of the Liberals, and Nathan Rees’s lead is now down to 194.

Wednesday. Absents and pre-polls have strongly favoured the Liberals with Nathan Rees holding his ground on postals; taken together, the Labor lead is down to 285.

Sunday Nathan Rees led by 409 with the counting of polling booth votes, but he’s down 16 with the addition of 945 pre-polls and institution votes.

Newcastle. With the Liberals 1.8 per cent in front, I won’t be making the effort to follow this one.


Monday. It is clear enough that the Coalition will win 11 of the 21 new seats, Labor five, the Greens two, and the Christian Democratic Party and Shooters and Fishers one apiece. The final seat is a tussle between Labor, the Greens and, improbably, Pauline Hanson. As of today the ABC computer projection has Hanson in front, but this projection assumes no preferences, which is a very unsafe assumption where Labor and Greens candidates are involved. The most likely result is that whoever out of Labor and the Greens is excluded will deliver the seats to the other on preferences – especially if it’s Labor which is excluded, given their how-to-vote card directed preferences to the Greens. However, as Antony Green notes, Pauline Hanson does uniquely well among minor candidates in polling strongly on the below-the-line votes that remain to be counted, so there is some chance she could get up thanks to exhausting Greens votes if Labor stays ahead of them.i>

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.

530 comments on “NSW election: photo finishes”

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  1. Hi William

    Whilst I agree Newcastle looks difficult for Labor there remains some hope at this stage based on the fact that the McKay campaign performed well on postal votes and information that Green preferences are breaking strongly to Labor whilst the sampling indicates that a large number of Tate’s preferences were exhausting and not going past 1 (i.e. to Owen). On the other hand I expect pre-poll and absentees will be harmful to Labor.

  2. Balmain won’t be known for ages. Still heaps and heaps of absentees and postals to be counted. As it is only a hundred or so votes betweeen firth and parker, it still could go anyway. And with the ALP and the Greens not preferencing each other, Falk may just slide through., but that would take a strong showing in the postals and for the voters to have followed the htv’s.

  3. Not sure how relevant the inner city experience in Melbourne is my memory is that there the Green vote seemed to pick up across most categories of absentee and postal votes

  4. William,
    Your elucidation of In-doubters is greatly appreciated.

    Alas, I’ve had no luck with NSWEC site finding out # of votes which Hay leads over Bradbery in the Gong.

    If you can point me in the right direction, it will be an act of mercy for myself and many colleagues! 🙂


  5. An unexpected Liberal win in Balmain would certainly revitalize the vote back to Labor next election…no way are the people of Balmain having that kind of result.

  6. There is something very odd about the Oatley results as posted by the ABC. Total votes go backwards after preference distribution. I think they have put a minus where a plus should be.

  7. quantize,

    I lived in Balmain during the Unsworth bloodbath which resulted in Olympian Dawn Fraser winning the seat as a feckless Indie.

    Next election Labor regained it handily, but with different candidate than Labor bloke who lost to Fraser.

  8. More on rumours Balmain

    [rhysam Verity Firth’s peeps at count say “I’d rather be us than anyone else”. Looks like she’ll get it.]

    I am not sure if the previous post that said Parker is in front, was not the result of misreading a false 2PP from the NSWEC website.

  9. One wonders if we will see a re-election in Wollongong following revelations of Labour issuing fraudulent Liberal how to vote cards. Perhaps a second electuion woulod see Labour returned given the voters wuld see the size of the Liberal mandfate. Ah well, we will have to see if Hay will win the ‘Gong.

  10. @10, 12

    I think it’s a combination of two things

    a) As William said, the NSWEC is doing the recount/check in every seat, and in some cases the recount isn’t complete yet. So the numbers they have are only progressive tallies and NOT the final 2CP margin.

    b) I remember Antony saying that after election night, he changes the ABC computer to just take in the Electoral Commission’s raw data, instead of his Projected figures.

    So if the ABC is now taking data straight from the recounts, and the recounts aren’t complete, that explains why the count seems have gone “backwards” in some seats. It also explains why the 2CP margin in several seats has changed compared to election night: they’re the NSWEC Raw figures and not Antony’s Projected ones.

  11. Last time in Balmain. Verity got 3211 non-ordinary votes but the Greens got 2504 non-ordinary votes. By that I mean pre-poll, postal and absentees.

    However, if the ALP to Lib switch that occured in ordinary votes, also occurs in the non-ordinary votes (and the Greens poll the same), then Parker should win by 300-400 votes.

    Verity needs to hope that the ALP postal voters are more rusted on than the ordinary voters.

  12. Dr

    Some of the prepolls have now been counted. 33,543 votes counted

    10,923 falk
    10,229 firth
    10,217 parker

    So 12 votes in it.

    I now reckon Parker will definitely win it.

    It is now 10,229 1,026 10,923 308 485 205 10,217 150 33,543

  13. blue_green

    There’s also those 1026 votes for Maire Sheehan, which might just be very important. Any idea where they will go?

  14. According to my dreadful arithmetic, Rees is 351 votes ahead with about 2000 votes left to count. Will someone please confirm that I am correct?????

  15. I just have a look at the ABC website and it is giving the last seat to Pauline Hanson

    The Greens vote is on 2.4077 quota, while Pauline is on .4091, if this lead (.0014) holds up the Greens will only have 2 seats and loses 1 to Pauline

    Balmain: Firth led is 110

    Oakley Coure’s led down to 86 and trending toward Greene

  16. 34

    Apparently the 3rd Green is in line for preferences from the ALP (they advised their voters to preference the Greens above the line) and this may well get them over the line. This would be the first time since the post-tablecloth reforms that preferences had effected the election of a NSW MLC.

  17. I wish the ABC Calculator would show % of votes in the LC and what % the count is up to. If the Greens lose a seat to Pauline it will be REALLY funny!

  18. The ABC site is very confusing today, all over the place, as if they’re 2 days behind the electoral commission in some cases.

  19. Don’t look now, but the ABC projection now has Pauline Hanson winning the final seat. Both Labor and the Greens have faded, so the race for the final seat has Labor’s sixth candidate starting with 0.34 of a quota, the Greens’ third with 0.4 and Pauline Hanson with 0.41. However, the ABC projection for NSW upper house elections is cruder than usual in that it assumes no preferences will be passed on from one party to another, whereas you would expect whichever of Labor V or the Greens III which gets eliminated to direct a fair few votes the other’s way. I would also have assumed Hanson would do less well on late counting than Labor or the Greens, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happened so far.

    Also, there’s been a bit of a shock for Noreen Hay in Wollongong – 4359 pre-polls have gone 2173-1300 against her, cutting her lead from 2.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

  20. Rees should be OK, and Andrew McDonald is quite safe now in Macquarie Fields – why the ABC still thinks that result is in doubt is beyond me.

  21. If, heaven forbid, PH got in, she would presumably have no one courting her? I dont know if anyone knows (I don’t) but did anyone seek the assistance of David Oldfield when he was in the LC as the One Nation’s representative and then independent ie shooters, Fred Nile?

  22. Pauline could team up with the Shooters Party & the Christian Democrats – she’ll be right at home with the loons. 😀

  23. [Rees should be OK, and Andrew McDonald is quite safe now in Macquarie Fields – why the ABC still thinks that result is in doubt is beyond me.]

    Looks like it says “ALP retain” to me.

  24. In Balmain, Sheehan’s preferences would strongly favour Verity Firth. I imagine, even though it’s only 1.4% that Jane Ward’s will as well, she doesn’t poll extremely well despite being a constant candidate, but she is pretty anti-Parker and not shy about saying it to her band of supporters that have voted for her over the last 20 years. I suspect Firth will win the seat handily on Parker’s preferences in the end, but she’ll get fewer of those than would have gone the other way had Parker come second.

    Still shocked that John Hatton flopped so badly. Pauline will probably do better on preferences than most expect (less stigma these days, also, FF voters might have chucked a few her way) but it’s hard to divvy this up in a way that gives her a win as a couple of Labor votes will go the Greens’ way.

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