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. Turfing Roozendahl out of the Upper House would be a good idea, and we know he’ll leave anyway in a few months when he can collect that big fat pension.
    Then take the opportunity to replace him with Steve Whan(assuming they both come from the same faction).
    And eventually when a left vacancy comes up, give Borger another chance.

  2. @98

    It’s highly likely the new Labor Opposition Leader will get chewed up and spat out long before he/she has a hope of getting close to Government. So why not be happy that someone you hate gets the shit sandwich?

  3. Robertson is the perfect leader for the ALP atm, a person you can blame for the ALP woes and who you can “off” Iemma style at anytime you like …. kinda poetic justice

  4. Back on topic, where are people getting the updated Oatley figures from?

    Last I looked both ABC and NSWEC still had Greene only down by 86 votes, not 200+

  5. Dovif: true…………Robertson most likely will be only an interim short-term leader.
    Labor really needs another Bob Carr, although Carr was in a comparatively better position in 1988 – more seats in parliament, a talented team of people who’d been Wran & Unsworth Govt. ministers etc.
    The only talent left to Robbo is Tebutt, Rees, Firth(if she wins Balmain), Burney & McDonald.
    I daresay a couple of the new MPs – Ryan Park, Clayton Barr – will get shadow portfolios.

  6. yeah I saw that, but where did they get the info from is what I wondered. There’s nothing on the NSWEC about it.

    I thought they might have mixed up Oatley and East Hills, since the margin’s 220-odd in the latter.

  7. I doubt Labor has a hope of holding Oatley and East Hills – as Socrates said yesterday, they generally don’t fare well in close seats from postal/absentee votes.

  8. On this morning’s figures the Hanson-Green gap in the LC is slightly smaller. This needs to continue if the 3rd Green is to get up because preferences will be no help. On a reasonable assumption of preference flows from parties (except ALP) that are to be cut up (say 3% to their next available party of choice and 0% to the competitor), then Greens would need a 16% flow of ALP preferences. This is ridiculously impossible, even though the ALP put out a HTV recommending it (RATL or Random above the line vote as the SEC calls them). Scrutineers say the RATL rate for ALP is very low- certainly nowhere near 16%. The BTL vote is hardly likely to improve things. The only hope for the Greens #3 would seem to be the postals…. this could put them ahead of Pauline before the cut-up

  9. [Turfing Roozendahl out of the Upper House would be a good idea, and we know he’ll leave anyway in a few months when he can collect that big fat pension.]
    I wonder how many of the workers who will lose their jobs in the privatised industries will be similarly compensated?

  10. [I know this is not the NSW thread, but I am watching BOF presser. What the heck!
    BOF and the journos are very aggressive with each other. Is this NSW style generally?]

    I saw that. They were aggressive and disbelieving.
    Two good things about BOF though. He doesn’t like Hanson or duck shooting.
    I think he’s finding it hard to get out of campaigning mode though. Hell Bazz you’ve got a record majority and won’t face the people for 4 years. Give up the campaigning and get on with governing.

  11. Re supposed cooking of the books the figures relate to revenue projection for 12/13 I understand. We are currently in 10/11 financial year……… a projection for the future

  12. Latest count in Swansea – 1200 postals counted this morning with Robert Coombs getting 51% – however, he needs to keep an average of 54% of the 8000 votes left to count to make up the short fall – not looking good at this stage…

  13. It seems like the ALP and the Church both agrees that the Greens are evil

    I wonder if the Green says goodbye to each other and whether they know what “goodbye” actaully mean or stands for?

  14. evan 14

    interesting that the electoral commission website shows Hays leding 15922-15593 votes each while the ABC site shows Bradbery 17855-16636

    Could the ABC have more advance count and where is their info coming from, it also mean vote broke 2200 to 700 to Bradbery which would seem unlikely

  15. That leaves one vacancy to fill. Pauline Hanson has 0.4124 of a quota, the Greens 0.3965 beyond its second quota, and Labor 0.3449 beyond its fifth quota. Around 1.7 quotas in total lie with other minor party and Independent groupings, but on past election results, 80-90% of these will exhaust their preferences, and the rest will distribute relatively randomly, leaving the order of Hanson, Labor and the Greens untouched.

    If I assume, as the calculator has, that preferences will not change the ordering of candidates, then Pauline Hanson will win the 21st seat.

    However, we have not previously seen Labor or the Greens excluded in a count under the current Legislative Council voting system. As Labor actively directed preferences to the Greens, on Labor’s exclusion, I would expect enough preferences to flow to the Greens to elect a third Green MLC ahead of Ms Hanson.

    However, the count is not complete. Nearly a full quota of ballot papers are currently unallocated by party and not included in my calculations. These votes consist of all below the line votes, including votes for ungrouped candidates, plus an unkown number of potential informal votes, votes with some markings where a determination has yet to be made on whether the vote is formal.

    The NSWEC has included these votes in its quota calculation where I have excluded them. My assumption is that these will split in roughly the same proportion as the total of above the line votes. It is the difference in assumptions that creates a difference between the quotas shown on the ABC site and those on the NSWEC site.

    The question is who the below the line votes will help? Traditionally minor parties have a higher proportion of below the line votes and so do proportionally better than the major parties with below the line votes. And of all recent minor party candidates, Pauline Hanson has done better than anyone else with below the line votes.


  16. as an outsider what would life be like with Pauline having the balance of power for the NSW people and the MR O’farrell gov.
    would this be good for labor federally or the other

  17. as an outsider what would life be like with Pauline having the balance of power for the NSW people and the MR O’farrell gov.
    would this be good for labor federally or the other

  18. PH, heaven forbids she gets in, will not have the balance of power, because the Libs/Nat need only three votes for LC’s passing of legislation and there are four likely LC members already being two from fishers/shooters and two from Christian Democrats.

    I am not sure how interested PH would be in State politics – I suppose mandatory sentencing and getting rid of heroin injecting etc might be barrows she will push but not sure what else. Dont think she would like selling of government assets.

    I doubt Fishers/Shooters and Christian Democrats will get too much in the way of legislation. They may not like some of the legislation but they like greens/labor a lot less and will do nothing to support them.

  19. Pretty appalled at the abuse being dished out to Eddie at the SMH under his article (170 comments so far). I’m about half-way through and I can’t find one positive comment. Doesn’t he have family? Doesn’t he have friends? Have his staff all gone out to lunch?

  20. BIGBOB – Show’s no forward planning: should have had a platoon of back-packers ready and waiting to start typing in comments

  21. Barry O’F to Pauline: this is the lastest legislation

    Pauline looks confused

    Barry O’F: do you remember what the media did to u the last time you asked “Please explain”

    Pauline votes for legislation

  22. Dovif

    You are right – Wollongong is off the Seats in Doubt page – but if you check the list of seats with the latest count Wollongong shows an ALP win

  23. One thing I noticed looking through the results: about 50% of the remaining 20 or so Labor lower house MPs are women.
    In comparison, only 10 out of nearly 70 Coalition MPs are of the fairer sex.
    Which tells you one thing: on the whole, Labor women in vulnerable seats were better than the blokes at holding on to their jobs.

  24. The exceptions are Jodi McKay and Virginia Judge, BUT Carmel Tebutt, Cherie Burton and potentially Verity did well.
    Also new female Labor MPs in Bankstown and Shellharbour.

  25. Glad to see good representation of women amongst the survivors. However, any ALP member still standing was not in vulnerable seat – or if they were we need to redefine the term vulnerable.

  26. Only 10 out of almost 70 Coalition lower house MPs are women – that’s really a sad inditement on the lack of opportunities for conservative minded ladies to get ahead in politics.
    For example, only 2 new lower house female Liberal MPs and one new Nationals female MP – their landslide win was based largely on men.

  27. [Glad to see good representation of women amongst the survivors. However, any ALP member still standing was not in vulnerable seat – or if they were we need to redefine the term vulnerable.]

    Well……..remember that Tebutt & Firth were virtually written off by everyone, so the fact that at least one of them got reelected on the weekend was a stunning development, and a testament to Carmel’s campaigning skills.

  28. From their ABC: Whan concedes defeat in Monaro – huge shame!
    Labor’s going to miss him & Borger, assuming they don’t make room for them in the Upper House.

  29. Apologies – I meant to exempt those two seats as they were in a different category from the sort of seat I had in mind.

    I am not sure who counts as everybody in terms of writing them off. Certain media commentators who don’t look at actual voting figures and demographic trends certainly fall into that category.

  30. Imagine Robertson, one endorsed as leader, announced that Roozendahl and Obeid were leaving the LC at the end of the year to be replaced by Whan and Borger. Now that would show the world that the ALP had turned the corner.

  31. Update in Swansea – 3500 postal counted today – Coombs(ALP) only made up 43 votes of nearly 800 deficit he needed to make up to win. With about 7000 absentee and declaration votes to count in today’s trend ge has lost the seat – another to the Libs, but is now marginal…

  32. Balmain: “The results probably won’t be decided until Friday, a spokesman from the NSW Electoral Commission says.

    “They’re neck and neck,” he said.

    “The message is we must wait for absentee votes and postal votes to be entered into the count, and assuming they don’t make any obvious difference this is going to have to come down to a full distribution of preferences which will take place on Friday.””

  33. Would there be grounds for Bradbery to dispute the return if Hay won? Given there were 800 fake HTVs and the preferences are vital, the outcome could very much haved turned on a fraud.

  34. [PH, heaven forbids she gets in, will not have the balance of power, because the Libs/Nat need only three votes for LC’s passing of legislation and there are four likely LC members already being two from fishers/shooters and two from Christian Democrats.]

    That would actually give Hanson a share of the balance of power with CDs and S+Fs as the Coalition could then pass any legislation supported by two of these three forces. She would be relevant, but only if the Coalition wanted to do something that one of CD/S+F wanted and the other one opposed.

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