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. After all the votes had been entered into the Riverwood computer, there were 127,039 more above the line votes than had recently been recorded on the central computer (a 0.9% increase over what everybody had assumed). Hanson has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this- her ATL vote increased by 4,008.

    This has made a big difference and Group I (Hanson) is, as Antony has reported, 15,468 votes ahead of Group H The Greens and is now also ahead of the Libs (as above post says). On a candidate level, Hanson leads Buckingham by 11,122 and Johnston by 3,112.

    On the 2003 preference flows, The Greens would still pip her “relatively” comfortably, probably by about 8,000 votes. If she benefits from preferences in the way that One Nation did in the past (2003, 2007), she would still be about 3,000 votes behind them. This is also dependent on strong flows from King Arthur of The Democrats. This is far from a given in 2011.

    Since the number of votes to be cut-up this morning (before we get to any of these guys) is about 310,000 …. ANYTHING could happen.

  2. As to the “when”, a “source in the Government”, has just told us that the button is to be pressed at 11 AM.

    If I were the Electoral Commissioner, I would have pressed it just after the final tallies were posted around midnight.

    The original pre-election schedule had the election being “declared” this morning…. but they did run a bit late on data entry.

  3. Cool!

    I was there (Rosebery warehouse) at the 1999 count, standing among the ballots shredded by the big hailstorm. The count went on all day and didn’t look like this at all. The count was actually done at Kent St and, periodically, a man would emerge from an mezzanine office and read out the latest count results- there were about 400 counts, as I recall…. it was like watching grass grow. One of the candidates was there too, biting his nails- he was the last to be elected (ORP guy- he phoned his main rival and crowed).

  4. This news is all over the grapevine, but is not on the web-site so far as I can see.

    Anybody got the numbers, especially the margin? Would have a big influence on the prospects of a re-count.

  5. Twitterverse predictably happy about this, though they’re forgetting that #21 is now a parasite from the National Party, a group whom want to privatise everything if the money goes to farmers so some of their richest can continue their earth-molesting and on some issues, Pauline was probably LESS distant from the Inner City concerns than you’d think.

    But who wants to be the killjoy to bring THAT to the party, eh.

  6. edward o @ 460

    [they’re forgetting that #21 is now a parasite from the National Party, a group whom want to privatise everything if the money goes to farmers so some of their richest can continue their earth-molesting]


  7. It would have been entertaining having Pauline Hanson instead of another faceless National in parliament for the next 8 years. Very happy Jeremy Buckingham got 20th instead of 21st.

    Ehh… 2 out of 3 Greens objectives ain’t bad.

    Bring on the NSW redistribution, it’ll make the Balmain-Marrickville-Heffron-Coogee belt more winnable for the Greens as the boundaries move closer to GPO to take in increased density of voters in the Sydney electorate.

  8. Hyperbole doesn’t come across well on the net, evidently!

    The poiint I’m making is that for the average leftie Twitterer, rejoicing that Hanson didn’t get in and a Coalition MP did is frankly bizarre.

  9. edward o @ 465

    [Hyperbole doesn’t come across well on the net, evidently!]

    Sorry dude! Many leftists actually refer to farmers as “earth-molesters” and land rapists, so not happing read your previous posts, I assumed post 460 was for real.

  10. I was told by a friend who has helped out Tasmanian forest protesters (the ones who go all the way by chaining themselves to trees etc) that they eat roadkill

  11. No offence taken, Frankie. There’s a natural area of interest between greenies and farmers but damned if you’d be able to tell sometimes. I didn’t vote for any of the 3 in the running for the last spot so I had no ticket in the raffle….

  12. Psephos What these leftists eat? Nuts and berries? Roadkill?

    Not including yourself among the ranks of the left any longer?

  13. Lots of people who voted FF 1 preferred the Greens to Hanson or the Coalition.

    Why? Well. The CDP mops up the hard Christian Right. FF at least looks like the Christian left, and Moyes is no fire-and-brimstone candidate so he would definitely attract more leftish votes than you’d expect from a typical FF candidate. Some may have hoped that given that one “religious” candidate was going to get up, better him than the CDP dude.

    Secondly, not everyone who votes has a clue about policy platforms. You like your family? And the environment? Totally plausible you might go FF 1 Green 2 or something while knowing absolutely nothing about what the candidates stand for.

    Thirdly, Pauline Hanson’s name didn’t appear above the line, even though she had a box there. It’s not impossible to speculate that people who wanted to vote above the line may not have realised putting a 2 in her column was a second preference for her.

    Finally, Pauline Hanson is not really a magnet to people who vote on religious lines. People seem to forget her election in 1996 in the seat of Oxley was on the votes of people in blue collar Labor-voting Ipswich. When the new seat of Blair was created, she did pretty well in the Ipswich parts of the electorate, but not so well west of there in Queensland’s, er, rather Bible-ish area between Ipswich and Toowoomba.

  14. I’ve always regarded you (Psephos) as a hard centre.

    Nah he ain’t Quality Street – more like a fruit and nut.

  15. If you look at FF prefs in the federal election, in most seats 20-30% went either to Labor or the Greens. I think this shows that FF is appealing to a slightly different constituency than the CPD’s constituency. Fred Nile has made his career as an old-fashioned wowser, obsessed with sex-related issues. His voters are mainly older Protestants in wealthy suburbs or in the country who share his wowserism. FF’s appeal is to young Christian families concerned about social and economic issues, and they don’t bang on about sex very much. FF polls better in marginal Labor seats than in safe Liberal ones, and quite a few of their voters are more Labor than Liberal, although they are Christians first.

  16. The following appear to have been the preference flows (some of these have passed through other candidates on the way [like drinking water]):

    PARTY to GRN to HAN
    ALP 8.62% 0.36%
    FAMILY FIRST 4.94% 0.88%
    THE FISHING PARTY 1.39% 0.45%
    JOHN HATTON (GROUP C) 11.34% 4.13%
    SAVE OUR STATE 2.96% 0.56%
    SOCIALIST ALLIANCE 15.55% 0.52%
    BUILDING AUSTRALIA 1.45% 0.43%

    As someone above remarked- the FF flow to GRN seems hard to explain. So also is the HATTON flow to HANSON. The flows from the conservative parties to Hanson were every bit as low as Antony predicted. Well done.

    The final GRN-HAN gap was 2437
    The final GRN-LIB gap was 1131
    The final LIB-HAN gap was 1306 (of course)

    If the distribution was re-run, these three numbers would change because of the random sampling effect, but this would be hardly likely to be greater than 200, so the result is not challengable on that basis.

  17. 477

    You have been writing about German politics too much. Fred Nile`s party is the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) which has its initials as CDP. It is not the Christlichdemokratische Partei Deutschlands.

  18. This means that the Greens have achieved 2 thirds of their realistic seat change objectives. Which is not bad. The lack of vote bigger gain is still not so great.

  19. [Fred Nile has made his career as an old-fashioned wowser, obsessed with sex-related issues.]
    Well, that and being anti-gay. Is it just a coincidence that FF seem to take the anti-gay position on so many issues?

  20. Psephos,

    Good observation that the “Christian” vote is not locked up in the safe Liberal seats. Have a look at William’s analysis of the exit vote at the last election over on the main thread.

    The Christian vote is alive and well and policies and personell that are rampantly anti Christian are likely to alienate this vote switching sub group in the community.

  21. [Good observation that the “Christian” vote is not locked up in the safe Liberal seats.]
    How could it be when 2/3 of catholics vote Labor? Labor is the party of atheists, agnostics, and catholics.

  22. http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDownloadsMenu-15508-csv.htm

    Surprised at how close this was (but still glad I was right that Hanson didnt get up).

    The flow of preferences is really quite interesting (this is from the 2010 federal election only but I imagine its not vastly different from year to year) and the source is above in case you want the exact details, but in summary:

    Preferences to ALP vs. Coalition:

    One nation 45:55
    Family First 40:60
    Christian Democrat Party 30:70


    Greens 80:20

    What I take from this is that those claiming the One Nation, Family First and CDP are extreme right parties is not as well founded in the stats as claiming that the Greens are an extreme left party (in other words ON FF and CDP voters are for more centrist than you may initially think). I may have read these data incorrectly so feel free to point this out if I have misread (was certainly surprised when I first looked at this)

  23. Just another quick note:

    this further electoral failure by Pauline Hanson is yet another vindication of the quality and intelligence of the Australian electorate. They just keep getting it right! Pauline has failed on so many occasions with so much media attention and women’s magazine covers that it is truly astonishing she cant get 4% of the vote!!

    I bet 80% of the NSW electorate knew she was running for the council
    80% couldn’t name a single other council candidate
    80% would know who she was / something about her history
    >97% still didn’t vote for her!

  24. Hanson gets disadvantaged by preferences because she is so divisive. They cost her Blair in 1998 and this seat today assuming the votes would not have been different enough with a non-preferential system.

  25. I’m feeling extremely pleased tonight …

    – The loony Tony Abbott and his One Liberal Nation party are not our Federal Government.

    – The loony NSW Labor Right are not our State Government.

    – The loony Pauline Hanson is not in the NSW Legislative Council.

    For those of us who live in NSW, that’s three bullets dodged so far this year – and the year is still but young!

    I think I’ll go out and buy a lottery ticket.

  26. [Gusface
    Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    just dont let everyone know]

    …don’t worry, nobody reads this blog.

  27. Particularly under the circumstances of Gordon Moyes leaving the CDP, I’m not surprised so many of his preferences went left instead of right. Family First aren’t established in NSW, so a lot of their vote would’ve been a straight personal vote for Moyes, quite possibly pinched off the Greens / Democrats / etc. Elsewhere, they’re either the main god-bothering party ahead of the CDP (SA and Vic) or the destination of failed ex-Liberals (Dan Sullivan and Anthony Fels in WA, Robert Brokenshire in SA).

    Just wondering… will this be the last election the Democrats ever run in? Apart from <1% in the LC, they ran in one seat, Albury, and came last with 1.4% despite getting top of the ballot. There must be a few people at Dem HQ thinking "enough is enough". We now cross live to Aaron Cheviot of the Australian Democrats……………

  28. Hanson gets disadvantaged by preferences because she is so divisive.

    Hanson gets disadvantaged because she is so obviously a fool who stands for nothing except herself. She can’t even articulate right-wing slogans competently. Her candidacies are no more than pleas to “vote for me because I enjoy being famous”.

  29. Why does NSWEC not produce a set of statewide party totals? Why doesn’t it provide a statewide enrolment figure? Why do I have to add up 93 sets of individual figures?

  30. paradox: as a former member, I can tell you the insane people in ‘charge’ of the Democrats will never, ever, ever, let it die, and there’s a steady supply of new loonies who are if anything even more zealous than the long-time crazies. I suspect the draconian NSW registration requirements (750 members) will put paid to them having a named box above the line in 2015 but the rump of the party will keep running federally to no effect whatsoever. Meanwhile anyone with a brain has gone and joined whichever of the 3 major parties is closest to their beliefs and used their skills to do useful things in a party which might be able to legislate their beliefs at some point.

    I have met the Albury candidate and he’s… um.. an interesting character, even by the standards you’d use to judge someone running for a dead party in what what never have been one of their good seats. I’d guess nearly all of that 1.4% was the donkey…

  31. “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.”

    Am I misreading that or did Hanson win 22 seats in the lower house??? Give a guy a heart attack…

  32. 495

    Do they not provide enrolment figures for the legislative council (which wouls save you at least 1 lot of addition)?

  33. 494

    There is a view that she only missed out because a significant number of voters voted 1 only for her BTL and this is informal so she lost that way and that if her group had had “Pauline Hanson independents” written about it she would have been elected.


    (you have to scroll down to paragraph 14 for the relevant bit)

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