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. Rosa

    Fair guess.

    As I have said before – her once colleague/chaperone, David Oldfield would have brought the same politics to the LC and best as I can recall did nothing which his parliamentary record seems to confirm.

    Maybe PH wants to follow his steps into 2GB/2UE land?

  2. Clover Moore’s people were recommending a vote for him in the upper house, but they weren’t handing out his yellow HTVs unless specifically asked “What about the Upper House?”, at least at the Notre Dame booth in Sydney. Could have been a lot of lost votes for him in that one seat alone if that was the pattern across all the booths.

  3. [William Bowe
    Posted Monday, March 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
    Don’t look now, but the ABC projection now has Pauline Hanson winning the final seat.]

    I was listening to Antony Green on ABC radio on the way home and he said that although the website has Pauline possibly taking the seat she wont and it will be a fight between the ALP and Green (so the right wingers are at 23, at worst 22, which is enough anyway).

  4. Mod Lib,
    On both ABC and NSWEC sites, it shows Hay ahead by 380 votes. Please provide a link to what appears to be a more current count.

  5. Yep 389 lead to Hay now. It was 123 a few minutes ago promise…

    It says check completed (without town hall), not sure why though? Declaration votes going strongly against her but I cant see how many there are/will be. I remember the FEC reported postal votes which were expected.

  6. Thanks, ML
    Yes, I saw the “without town hall” thing, and it totally mystifies me.
    There were no voting booths at Town Hall on Saturday, as it’s only just reopened after major refurbishment.

    The pre-polling booths and counting centre are, as in the past, at a rented office next to Woolies on Burrelli St..

  7. Our scrutineers in Swansea say there us up to 8000 votes to count – Im doing it tomorrow so will report during the day…

  8. Someone above asked:
    Can anyone tell me the fate of Ms P Hanson?

    Fate is dealing kindly with her.

    As of tonight, she has pulled ahead of The Greens in the race for the 21st seat, with a lead of 2,300 votes.

  9. This was posted on my Facebook news feed today by an ALP scrutineer in Oatley:

    “voting story of day – ballot paper had PENIS written over Kevin Greene’s name – fortunately the I was in the box next to his name and i successfully had it recorded as a vote for KG! Right back at you penis voter!”

    So close right now, but Mark Coure went from 86 votes ahead to about 233 votes ahead at last update.

  10. The late counts are not favoring Labor. They rarely do, but this is particularly bad. PVs are favoring Libs in almost every undecided seat. I don’t see Labor pulling back any of those that are listed as doubtful. Even Rees is in big trouble.

  11. [Fate is dealing kindly with her.]

    Great, I hope she holds the balance of power in the LC, best of all she will have a voice in parliament and parliamentary privilege.

  12. Jarama

    I erred in saying PVs; I was only commenting on the counts reported by William above.

    That being said, my gut feeling is that PVs won’t help Labor this time. This result was decided too early, so I think people voting against Labor will have decided that early, including many PVs. Happy to be wrong, for Whan and Rees’ sake if nothing else.

  13. (I posted this on the other thread, but as William said it belongs here.)

    There are still a lot of ifs and buts in Hanson getting elected, as Antony Green points out.

    But I find it depressing that she even gets that close. It shows that appealing to racism is still a viable career option for an Australian politician. Even a politician as stupid as Hanson can nearly get into parliament on it. A smarter politician, like Howard, can use it to extend his stay in the lodge by two terms.

  14. Pauline’s platform at this election wasn’t racist in the slightest. Whatever her past, she didn’t run on racism this time (though her association with the climate rally is highly worrying). Her themes were anti-privatisation, increased funding for health and some, well, populist themes of security vis-a-vis law and order, education and public transport… if anything I’m surprised she only polled 1.8%. Her base was always disaffected Labor voters and I thought she might pick up a few of them, but I suspect she really will get more BTLs than you think.

  15. I shudder to think that Hanson gets a platform like the NSW Parliament to promote her racism and her dopey economics and that this will inspire the rednecks out there – we will need a Ron Boswell type person from the coalition to attack her credibility… it irks me that some of my tax dollars will go to her salary if she gets up…

  16. Plebisek said on Q&A that there are better candidates than Robbo to be Opposition Leader like Carmel and Della said Robbo would be good… the old Left-Right tussle…

  17. steamroller @ 67

    That is the funniest vote I have heard of in 25 years of elections. Mrs IT laughed so much she fell out of bed! Thanks.

  18. My friend in Balmain voted for Marie Sheehan and preferenced Parker but was told by the Sheehan hander outerer (I can’t think of the right word now) that they were hoping Firth got up over Parker. She says this is what the HTV card said. Any number of these going to Firth will kill off Parker. Balmain will remain ALP – just.

    Rees will be safe. Oatley and East Hills I’d say will be won by the Libs. The rest will go with the current majority. Pity about Whan. I was sure he’d win. Darn.

    If I was Rev Bradbery I would do the ‘we wuz robbed by the illegal how to vote cards’. It didn’t work in SA as the number of votes in question was far less than what was needed to change the result in the relevant electorates.

    In Wollongong, that just might be a different thing, especially as the NSWEC ordered their withdrawal (not the case in SA – they were unethical but legal) and the difference in votes is so close in the ‘Gong. My friend there says he had voted Labor his entire life until he moved to Wollongong and met Noreen Hay.

    This is probably the most interesting seat of all, bar perhaps Balmain.

  19. Socrates: Unless I’m mistaken(and I usually am), I think Rees improved his lead a little in Toongabbie today to 400 votes +(2PP).
    I’d guess that East Hills & Oatley will stay with the Liberals, but Labor can win them back in 4 years time.
    Balmain and Wollongong – still up in the air!

  20. A lot of gloating from the radio shock jocks about the big swing against Clover in her electorate – I guess now the likes of Jones & Hadley have seen off the Keneally Government, Clover is next cab off the rank for them in their drive to impose Liberal administrations on every facet of government. 😉

  21. How much of a swing there was vs the Lib is something we don’t know, Lib making the 2PP cut is very unusual! While she’s closer to defeat vis-a-vis the Libs than she was vs the ALP before, it’s only a theoretical marginal now, because this was a high watermark for the Libs and if she’s perceived to be in trouble, the ALP and Greens will recommend preferences to her next time which I don’t think they did this time.

  22. Meanwhile the spin is still going on in some parts of NSW Labor: Eddie Obeid thinks Morris Iemma was to blame for the defeat, and says not to blame factions. ROTFL 😀

    So the whole State party now lies in smoking ruins and Obeid still can’t accept that it was a rejection of the brand of politics he personified. Who does he think he is fooling?

  23. Evan14

    Thanks; glad to hear Rees improved. I think that does reflect well on his personal vote considering the circumstances.

  24. [Barry O’Farrell, has announced the discovery of a $4.5 billion hole in the budget hours after taking office, ]

    A fair bit of that is from forward estimates which are just that, estimates. The announcement gives the impression that the 4.5 billion relates to this years budget.

    But as you said, datsun, ooohhh, so quick so quick.

  25. Socrates

    Re Pauline, she got 1.8% of the vote, most of them are probably on the name factor, she is no chance in any other election. I think Australia is ok. Althrough I still prefer an ALP, then a green getting elected first


    Not 100% sure that Oakley and East Hill will go straight back to the ALP in 4 years, the Federal seat of Banks which covers Oakley and part of East Hill have a 1.5% margin, I guess it will depend on whether O’F will do anything for the area. the ALP both federally and state had done little for the area. The area did not swing as much to the Liberals in this election, because transport and infrastructure is not as big an issue in the area

  26. Castle

    The NSW ALP cooking the books is something we in NSW expected. This is a government who did the following
    – When they could not get trains to run on time, they changed the definition of an on-time train, and makes trains stop for a extra 4-6 minute at certain stops to give them time to catch up
    – when they could not control hospital waiting list, they changed the definition of the waiting list, so that people who won’t receive surgery for a year is removed from the list.


    “The budget black hole was revealed by Mr O’Farrell following briefings by Treasury officials yesterday, shortly after he was sworn in as Premier by the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir.

    ”We all expected the finances to be worse than Labor portrayed but I am angry at the level of deception and incompetence,” Mr O’Farrell said last night. ”They have cooked the books like never before and treated the public like fools.”

    The updated briefings show a steep decline in the state’s finances of $1.3 billion by 2013-14 compared with figures published in December. It is being attributed to a sharp drop in revenue from GST receipts, transfer stamp duty, payroll tax receipts and dividends from the electricity businesses that were sold by Labor early this year.

    In 2012-13, GST is forecast to fall by $224 million, payroll tax by $66 million, stamp duty by $217 million and dividends by $418 million.

    Mr O’Farrell said Treasury officials told the meeting that if the figures were revealed by the former treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, to the ratings agencies during his trip to New York in December they would have triggered a review of the state’s Triple-A credit rating.”

  27. News Radio jumped the gun slightly with their assumption this morning that Hanson will win the last spot in the Upper House.

  28. Looks like Robbo will win the poisoned chalice without the need for a ballot.
    Luke Foley asked Tebutt to put her hand up, but she declined.

  29. How surprising that O’Farrell has discovered a black hole in the budget. When an ABC interviewer suggested to him last week that this would be his first announcement after the poll, O’F said: “You’ve been in this job too long.”

  30. Dovif now takes on the unfamiliar role of spinning for an incumbent government instead of sniping from opposition. He’s not very good at it so far but I expect he’ll improve over time.

  31. Psephos

    It was the NSW treasury which came up with the figures, all of them employed by the ALP.

    Not much spin involved, except OB has added 3 years of deficit together to give a big number

  32. By the same token it will be fun to watch Labor supporters who have been making excuses for a decade of incompetence suddenly start frothing with manufactured anger when O’Farrell doesn’t implement every promise and fix every problem in two weeks.

    Poor old Big Ted, and before him Colin Barnett, got about one week before some commenters here started blaming them for everything, so let’s see if Bazza can beat the record.

  33. I think there is an independent audit proposed of the finances. The Auditor-General in NSW comes across as fearlessly independent. If he was involved, I would take his word for it.

  34. Labor haters, don’t worry, your lot have a 3 term mortgage on government in New South Wales, so why get upset over any criticism of Fatty from a few Labor supporters here? 😀
    I’m more concerned at the prospect of the State Opposition being led by someone who’s part of the problem, not the cure.
    Robertson doesn’t inspire me with any confidence, he’s just the latest imposed fix imposed by Sussex Street.
    Very much inclined to agree with Frank Sartor that the next Labor Premier isn’t in parliament yet – a long road ahead.

  35. If Labor have “cooked the books”, I reckon the new leader should just come out and fess up to it.

    It’s not like Labor’s reputation can sink any lower at the moment, so they don’t need to worry about a backlash. It provides a genuine opportunity for them, right from the start, to distance themselves from the dodgy dealings and corruption of the past, and to turn over a new “open and accountable” leaf. And it neutralises one of the Liberals’ main hit pieces on them.


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