Newspoll: 53-47 to Liberal-National in WA

Newspoll offers a very interesting result in its latest quarterly reading of state voting intention in Western Australia, with the Liberals’ two-party lead shrinking dramatically since the previous quarter from 59-41 to 53-47. Labor’s primary vote is up six points to 35%, the Liberals are down seven to 39%, the Nationals are up two to 6% after what looks like an aberration last time, and the Greens are down one to 11%.

There is further good news in the personal ratings for Mark McGowan, who took over from Eric Ripper as Labor leader on January 23. His approval ratings are 43% approval and 17% disapproval, although inevitably for a debutante there is a very high uncommitted rating of 40%. Colin Barnett is respectively down seven to 51% and up five to 33%, although these figures are similar to those he was recording in the middle of last year – it was noted at the time of the previous poll that he was probably enjoying a spike from his photo opportunities at CHOGM.

On preferred premier, McGowan is doing very much better than Ripper ever did: he trails Barnett 43-30, compared with 59-18 in Ripper’s final result from October-December last year, and his best-ever result of 56-22 at the poll before in July-September.

With the countdown to the next election ticking away, there’s plenty happening on the preselection front:

Pilbara looms as one of the game to watch at the state election next March, with Nationals leader Brendon Grylls confirming his intention to move on from his existing party stronghold seat of Central Wheatbelt (formerly Merredin). This has not impressed Colin Barnett, who rates the move as “risky”. Labor meanwhile has secured the services of Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett, an environmental scientist and until recently member of the Greens. Despite opposition from “long-term Hedland resident Bob Neville”, she will presumably go untroubled at the May 21 preselection vote. It is expected that Grylls’ vacancy as Nationals candidate for Central Wheatbelt will be filled by Mia Davies, upper house member for Agricultural region. UPDATE: Beatrice Thomas of The West Australian further reports that Wendy Duncan, upper house member for Mining and Pastoral, will run in Kalgoorlie, and that local councillor Rob Sutton will run in Albany.

• Brendon Grylls’ designs on Pilbara are part of an ambitious scheme to dominate the traditionally Labor-leaning Mining and Pastoral region, which accounts for most of the state’s land mass but only a small share of its voters. After not even bothering to field candidates in the region in 2005, the Nationals won an upper house seat in 2008 with 21.4 per cent of the vote, and emerged on equal footing with the Liberals in the lower house seats. In Pilbara they ran second and slashed the two-party margin against Labor from 10.5 per cent to 3.6 per cent. They also fell a handful of votes short of overtaking the Liberals in North West, which had they succeeded would have meant victory over Labor on Liberal preferences. They later gained the seat anyway, with sitting member Vince Catania defecting to the party from Labor in July 2009, and then enjoying the good fortune of a redistribution which moved the seat to the conservative side of the electoral pendulum. The Nationals also have high hopes that Kimberley can be gained from Labor upon the retirement of Carol Martin, and there have also been suggestions that John Bowler, the Labor-turned-independent member for Kalgoorlie, might not seek another term. Bowler has become very close to the Nationals in any case, and collaborated with them during the minority government negotiations which followed the 2008 election.

• Grant Woodhams, parliamentary speaker and Nationals member for Greenough and then Moore since 2005, announced last week that he will retire at the next election.

• A raft of Labor preselections were confirmed at a state executive meeting on March 29. UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk emerged without opposition in Fremantle after the late withdrawal of Maritime Union of Australia candidate Adrian Evans. In Belmont, the party’s assistant state secretary Cassie Rowe will succeed Eric Ripper. “United Voice” powerbroker Dave Kelly has been confirmed in Bassendean in succession to Martin Whitely, who evidently jumped before he was pushed. Reece Whitby, former Channel Seven reporter and unsuccessful candidate in 2008, was confirmed for a second run in Morley, and Bob Kucera gets another shot at Mount Lawley where he lost preselection (as member for its predecessor seat of Yokine) at the instigation of Alan Carpenter before the 2008 election. Other candidates include Kim Beazley’s daughter Hannah Beazley in Riverton, Wanneroo councillor Brett Treby in Wanneroo and Cockburn councillor Lee-Ann Smith in Jandakot.

• Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports that “Kate Lamont has emerged as a surprise late contender in the race to be the Liberal candidate for Churchlands”, where independent Liberal Liz Constable is retiring. Lamont is “a chef and author who is behind food and wine outlets, was an inaugural inductee to WA’s Women’s Hall of Fame”, and reportedly has Colin Barnett’s backing. She is seeking late consideration after the closure of nominations, the existing field consisting of “Jim Bivoltsis, Bruce Butcher, Sean L’Estrange, Andres Timmermanis and Richard Wilson”. Richard Wilson, the chief-of-staff to Energy Minister Peter Collier, was mentioned earlier as a possible starter by Peter Kerr of the Australian Financial Review – along with Tap Oil founder Paul Underwood, who appears not to have come forward.

• The ABC reports the Liberal ticket for North Metropolitan will be unchanged on the 2008 election, with incumbents Peter Collier, Michael Mischin and Liz Behjat holding the top three positions. Peter Katsambanis, who held a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council from 1996 to 2002, evidently failed in his bid to unseat Behjat.

• The Augusta-Margaret River Mail reports two Liberal members for the South West upper house region will switch places on the party ticket at the next election, with Barry House promoted to number two and Nigel Hallett down to number three. Robyn McSweeney, the Community Services and Women’s Interests Minister, will retain top place. There were suggestions Hallett might be dumped to fourth at the expense of Bunbury barrister Ian Morison or Bunbury City councillor Michelle Steck, but they will respectively fill the unwinnable fourth and sixth places with Paul Fitzpatrick at number five. Augusta-Margaret River shire president Ray Colyer withdrew after failing to secure a winnable position.

• Shelley Archer is seeking Labor preselection for the Mining and Pastoral upper house region, where she previously served from 2005 to 2009. This is despite her not having been a member of the party since she and her husband, former CFMEU state secretary Kevin Reynolds, resigned from it during the 2007 federal election campaign. The ABC has reported that Archer and Reynolds are claiming the party has been stalling on their applications for readmission to thwart Archer’s preselection bid.

• Norman Moore, Liberal upper house veteran and Mines and Fishries Minister, has confirmed his intention to retire at the next election. There were reports late last year he was about to take up the position of Agent-General to London, and that his vacancy in the Mining and Pastoral region would be filled by Mark Lewis, a Carnarvon-based public servant who was number three on the ticket in 2008.

• The ABC reports three candidates have nominated for Liberal preselection in Labor’s most marginal seat of Albany: local café owner and Chamber of Commerce president Trevor Cosh, farmer Douglas Forrest and real estate consultant John Hetherington. Late withdrawals included Sheena Prince, a school teacher and the wife of former Liberal member Kevin Prince, and Alana Lacy, an electorate officer to the late Senator Judith Adams.

• Daniel Emerson of The West Australian reports Nathan Morton and Christopher Hatton, both school teachers, emerged uncontested as the Liberal candidates for Forrestfield and Balcatta. Morton fell 98 votes short of winning Forrestfield when the seat was created at the last election. Balcatta was retained for Labor on a margin of 2.3% by John Kobelke, who recently announced he will not seek another term.

• The Joondalup Times reports the Liberals have endorsed Jan Norberger, group general manager of resources industry recruitment firm Richards Mining Services, as their candidate for Joondalup. Another candidate for the preselection was Murray McLennan, who ran unsuccessfully in Mindarie in 2008.

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.

43 comments on “Newspoll: 53-47 to Liberal-National in WA”

  1. I don’t think the WA ALP should get too excited about this until it continues. Obviously we are seeing some honeymoon factor here, but I’d be surprised if it has actually swung back quite that much.

  2. I wonder if Barnett will also blame the Gillard government for his rapidly diminishing poll numbers !

    Seriously though this is evidence of two things I reckon. A new energetic labor leader taking the fight up to the government particularly on cost of living pressures and the realization by a growing number of WA punters that this is a government which with the exception of one or two members is hopelessly incompetent on just about all fronts and prefers to blame Canberra rather than address issues.

  3. Some honeymoon nemspy !

    You may be right to some extent but to buck the trend to this extent I think is evidence that governments who continue to show an inability to deliver get punished regardless of their party.

  4. I had the idea that the Liberals would be able to attract a badly needed influx of new talent at the next election now they’re in government, but it doesn’t seem to be playing out that way. There was a report in The West this morning that they’re having trouble filling their many federal vacancies – Moore and Pearce and now the Senate seats of Alan Eggleston and, sadly, Judith Adams – because prospective candidates would prefer to stay with the money in the private sector. I note the late emergence of a Barnett-backed candidate in Churchlands, which suggests a bit of head-hunting out of dissatisfaction with the existing field of candidates.

  5. Three and a bit years methinks ……election in march 2013

    The problem is Barney wanted to be another Charlie Court in mining and development terms but all his pet projects look shaky to say the least. In the meantime the only “boom” more and more people are experiencing from mining is from the afterburners on electricity prices and other areas

  6. Yes, the boom isn’t translating well for ordinary people except for higher energy prices.

    Another factor is the obvious incompetence of one or two ministers and their departments who won’t accept responsibility for their failures (eg bushfires started by said departments).

    Add on top of this the Libs backing of certain mining entrepreneures with family problems and who wants to import thousands of migrant workers on $3/hr makes for a disaffected voter

  7. Power, water and gas prices have soared under Barnett’s government, and this is no doubt a factor in this result.

    Barnett made the stupid statement, on gaining office: “I will never lead a government with a budget deficit.”

    People are starting to wake up to the fact that their utility bills have shot up in order to save the budget bottom line and hence Barnett’s political skin. As the first Liberal to eat into the ALP’s ‘wall to wall’ state and federal governance, Barnett has lost a lot of skin now that the ALP has a half-way electable leader.

    Liberal leader-in-waiting Christian Porter must be looking at these figures and smiling as broadly as Mark McGowan who is, apparently, the most popular ALP leader since the long ago days of Carmen Lawrence.

  8. Woeisme

    [realization by a growing number of WA punters that this is a government which with the exception of one or two members is hopelessly incompetent on just about all fronts and prefers to blame Canberra rather than address issues.]

    I’m a eastern state ‘foreigner’ and sat next to a guy from Perth on a plane last week. He was saying that all Barnett does is go on about the big miners, fight with the Feds and has done nothing useful about state services. As a regular traveller he didn’t, of course, miss Perth Airport out!

  9. Wait on!

    Something very fishy about these figures.

    I know on good authority that there are no more than 10 live Labor voters in WA and they all live in Balga.

    Look, we have our own mouthpiece in Paul Murray every day from 8.30 to noon spreading the good word for the Liberals on 6PR and then good old Howie Sattler comes on at 3 pm until 6 for those of us who like our politics more raw and to the right.

    Are you telling me now that 6 1/2 hours of good Liberal news on 6PR in the daylight hours is not enough?

    Okay, what about the two columns per week Paul has in the West in which he also tells us how bad Labor is, and especially how bad M/s Gillard and her government is?

    And most of all, are you telling me that the only daily paper in Perth, its editor and owner along with Channel 7 still can’t do better than 53% of the TPP vote?

    What about all our local billionaires – Twiggy and Gina – the two most famous? They are always singing a good song for the Liberals.

    At the height of the mining tax furore last year I saw Julie Bishop and Twiggy on the front page of the West in ecstatic embrace. Surely this tells you everything you need to know about the Liberals? Mind you, others less charitable those 10 Labor voters out in Balga – have put another interpretation on this embrace – a less flattering one.

    Clearly this poll is crap and I don’t believe it.

    You are trying to tell me that our lovely Colin is within 3-4% of being a one term Liberal government? You are telling me that the Premier of this powerhouse state which carries the rest of Australia on its back is within four seats of losing office?

    I say to you sir this just can’t be right.

    No poll can be trusted this far out from an election and there is still a long way to go.

  10. In all seriousness though………

    *New and more proactive leader for Labor
    *Liberals are weak in office and carry a lot of poor members with only CB himself holding it together along with Porter and a couple of others
    *A 57% increase in electric prices is all down to the the Liberals – or at least they have to wear it.
    *Many are not convinced the mining boom is doing anything for them.
    *Public transport – especially the trains are stressed to the max
    *Many roads, not only the freeways, are car parks for hours every day. For Perth-ites used to getting anywhere in Perth in 20-40 minutes, the Eastern States road problem is not one to their liking
    *Despite all the pie in the sky stuff about financial rectitude, the State deficit has gone from 9 to 22 billion.
    *Barnett himself is lampooned as being “The Emperor” and rightly so. In one of his more stupid comments he kind of said that people should do without air conditioning here in the height of summer and that being without it was not that difficult.
    *Barnett is seen as reactionary and in the hands of the Nationals – of course – as they keep him in power
    *Despite all the promises, few of the big ticket items – such as the new football stadium have actually progressed far and many big projects were started by Labor. Big projects under way are those with a big slab of federal funds – such as the sinking of the rail line. A point rarely acknowledged by the Liberals.

    Apart from the fact that the Liberals have to carry all the debris of any kind of State government, it needs to be remembered that Labor, under Alan Carpenter, lost what should not have been lost. As a result, the Liberals are in power by default to some degree.

    As an earlier blogger pointed out, a bit too soon yet for Labor to get too excited, but the polls do show that nothing is locked in stone – a lesson for both Federal Labor and the Conservatives at the federal level.


    [Nationals eye 10 seats
    Beatrice Thomas, The West Australian
    Updated April 11, 2012, 3:12 am

    The WA Nationals have made a play to double their number of Lower House seats at next year’s State election in a move that could cement their role as kingmakers.

    Banking on the popularity of the Royalties for Regions program to lure country votes, Nationals president Colin Holt said yesterday the party was aiming to win 10 seats to guarantee the future of the fund.

    As part of the quest, Nationals leader Brendon Grylls will move from his safe Central Wheatbelt seat and contest the Labor-held seat of Pilbara.

    Upper House MP Mia Davies will run in Central Wheatbelt and fellow Upper House MP Wendy Duncan in Kalgoorlie.

    Mr Holt said the Nationals would also target the Labor-held seats of Kimberley, Albany – to be contested by local councillor Rob Sutton – and the former Nationals seat of Collie-Preston.

    He said Eyre, held comfortably by the Liberals’ Graham Jacobs, was also in its sights.]
    more in the article

  12. [If these figures were replicated at a federal election, Labor would gain at least one seat.]

    Quite. Seems it’s only bad Labor figures that get journalists excited about replication.

  13. Yes, and the gaining of one seat is not to be sneezed at.

    In actual fact, Labor came within a ace of getting two extra seats here – Hasluck being the hard-luck story. Instead of 3 there would be 5. This is still a 10-5 split to the conservatives, but like Queensland, a progressive majority at the federal level in seats in nigh on an impossibility. I would think, in very good times, 7-8 would be the split. However, at 3 with two possibles, the 7 gets ever closer.

    What a difference those two seats would have made to the whole atmospherics at the Federal level – as it now transpires.

    As many have commented in the past, the closer the pendulum swings to 50-50 the more marginal Liberal seats come into play.

    At this stage two early but one can speculate as every msm commentator loves to do.

  14. One aspect of the “boom” that is hitting home is massively over-inflated property prices. Many of those who were so chuffed to see the value of their homes rise massively are now seeing their kids emerge from school/uni and struggling to find anywhere to live. They can’t afford to rent and buying a home is decades out of reach.

    The only realtively affordable homes are in linear developments snaking 20 – 50 kilometres from the CBD with either a long drive in gridlocked peak hour traffic, a bus/train ride or trying to park your car at stations. These people are also far from proper shops, medical facilities and government services.

    The Nats have successfully diverted billions into the regions as the price of Barnett being in government, thereby stripping any chance of promising metropolitan projects to address these issues such as extended freeways or rail lines. If Labor identify this and promise big changes where the votes are they could well have a real chance in 2013.

    Contrarily, many people are hugely over extended on their mortgages and live with the fear that even a slight dip in the mining boom will bring prices crashing down leaving them with a negative equity.

  15. WOW , Colin looks like he is Free-fall . 6% in a 1/4 . By xmas , the Liberals will be looking around for their next premier? The voters have got their Baseball bats out already , how long before the ” We need a election NOW ” voters start voicing their disapproval of “Cost of Living ” and pensioners dying because Colin said to turn off the A/C’s in summer ?Like they say , Liberals are never good with money , even in a BOOM. Debt up , electricity up , water up , gas up, trains not running on time , work travel time up etc etc. Federally the Liberals are toast , going by this.

  16. Colin Barnett is the Liberal Govt in WA,no ifs no buts,none of his ministers will open their mouth with getting the OK from Capt Col,Sattler is a FW and there are rumors he will be replaced by another failed West Australian Editor,will 6pr become a retirement home for failed editors of the West.
    The ABC bloke who opposes Murray’s Liberal 3 hrs is such a nice chap,6prs demographic is the over 55s people who appear to have lost the ability to think critically,the letters pages online are dominated by Liberal staffers and members hammering Labour,most of what they write is crap.
    But the local versions of the online papers wont print letters if critical of Capt Col Abbott and the Nats,and NEWS LTD dont print letters that show them for the lying bastards they are.

  17. Just wild speculation but it will be interesting to see how well the Nationals do with a hopeless Liberal Govt and brand labor being less than sparkling.

    Any talk of them running in outer metro semi rural seats, certainly weren’t on there hit list of 10 seats all bar one of which were either existing national seats or Labor seats, including the one that is a national seat but a seat that elected self proclaimed labor rising star.

  18. It’s hard to see the Nats doing well in outer metro seats unless there is the royalties for regions pump priming assisting their cause and even then I’m not so sure. I even think the pilbara isn’t a shoe in despite the money being spent. From what I’ve heard it’s exacerbated problems up there rather than solving them and is seen as the government subsidizing accommodation and services for mining companies.

  19. Pilbara will be a three way contest between Lib, Lab and the Nats. Grylls is certainly well known, but so is the Lab candidate, a local mayor.

    I heard a commentator on the ABC this afternoon suggesting that in an even three way contest Grylls would lose, although I can’t remember why this must be so, something to do with preference distribution.Personally, I can’t imagine the Libs not predominantly preferencing the Nats, and vice versa.

    However the interesting part of his comments was his assertion that Grylls was then guaranteed to stand for the Nats in the next Federal election.

    Which seat, I wonder.

  20. Fulvio – heard the same program. Guy making them was ex-Liberal party staffer who worked for Collier. However, he sounded even-handed enought.

    I also couldn’t quite work out the preference arithmetic. I don’t care at all about BG it is whether Labor can retain the seat itself which is important.

    Who cares where BG goes?

    Also, I did hear that 6PR would have a shakeup in the pm session with Murray taking Sattler’s place, though where they would bury the latter is anyone’s guess. Maybe a swap with him spitting in the morning?

  21. The only other Federal seat at risk to the WA Nationals is Durack, which holds the state seat of Pilbara, so I imagine Grylls would probably go for that if he loses.

    And Labor’s margin in Pilbara increased to 7.2% after gaining Karratha and losing Ashburton shire in the last redistribution, so things will have to go fairly wrong for Labor to lose it.

  22. William: Brendon Grylls is the member for Central Wheatbelt these days… Merredin ate the old seat of Avon in 2008.

    I’ve heard friendly things about Mia Davies from Young Labor friends of mine, particularly to do with the stop and search laws – she was one of the upper house Nats who killed one of those bills via the boring old committee thing. I wouldn’t mind seeing her become more high-profile in the lower house… I like the possibility of a National Party that isn’t afraid to speak for people under 50 (apparently several of them still live in the wheatbelt).

    Whoever it was who wrote about Paul Murray: he’s always been a tory, but bloody hell have his columns become tedious in the last year or two. Every week he vomits bile all over the opinion page of the West about Julia Gillard… meanwhile it gets left up to the boring unaligned types like Andrew Probyn to write about state politics (Rob Johnson is a fool, etc). That could be a downside of the obsessive hategasm against federal Labor… completely ignoring state Labor and letting them sneak up the middle like Steve Bracks did. (And remember how his first term came about… McGowan might have to eat his words about not working with the Nats.)

    One other thing: Pearce could potentially be vulnerable to the Nats. It’s notable for having one of the last moderate Libs as MP, and she’s retiring. If the Libs pick a Tony Abbott soundalike, and the Nats play their cards really right, they could get it.

  23. BofP

    It was me earlier on.

    I just get fed up with his one dimensional bash at Labor be it in the West or on 6PR.

    I dislike his snide attempts to be even-handed. He is not. He is nothing more than a Liberal party mouthpiece.

    He has described the three or four Independents at Federal level as “carpet baggers” but one wonders, if they had opted for Abbott they would then be seen as conservative heroes.

    He is a total hypocrite.

    He claimed on one occasion that because he had said something to upset John Howard, Howard would never talk to him again.

    He uses this as some kind of evidence of his balance.

    On air he tends to give a bland offering of what say the government is going to do and the gets the opposition spokesperson to go to town on it.

    He seems to have free rein at the West to say what he likes.

    There is some talk of shifting him to Sattler’s afternoon segment to bolster that segment of 6PR’s market. I don’t know why they would bother.

  24. Oh yeah, Pearce does have a few state National seats in it. And the Liberal primary vote is below 50% there. The Nationals seem to be coming off a very low base there though.

    On that note, Forrest could be up for grabs too. Nola Marino seems like a typical nasty Abbott clone and according to her Wikipedia page she’s been snapping and snarling about the NBN. One day she says it’ll facilitate super-fast crime, another day she says it’s not being rolled out fast enough and she feels her electorate is not getting enough of it.

    WA Regional Liberals should be very afraid that their voters may be watching how O’Connor goes with Crook and might be thinking that they want a crossbench National of their own.

    On the whole, I do hope Barry Haase is booted out of Durack the same way as Wilson Tuckey next election, after that plain nasty speech he made on same sex marriage.


    12 April 2012 by AAP

    Premier Colin Barnett has conceded new Labor Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has received a bigger lift in the polls than he anticipated, predicting a tight election next year.

    Mr Barnett told ABC radio in Perth he wasn’t surprised Labor had started to reel in his coalition government’s lead, but admitted the six-point jump in a recent Newspoll was bigger than expected.]

  26. How would shifting Murray boost listeners in the Afternoon bracket,they both appeal to the over 55 and Gods Waiting room crowd,I just wish the ABC would get rid of Geoff the kind and sweet and put some one on who would stick it up Murray and his Liberal lies.
    I had a vigorous debate via e mail over his bs but he don’t reply any more and I,m persona non Grata on the 6PR phone,but that started with Beaumont.

  27. JR

    That’s my point – it does not make a blind bit of difference where either of them are.

    One is oily poison while the other is just poison.

    One is the “acceptable” face of the conservative for the over 55 cohort as you say, while the other is just a nasty, inconsistent, racially motivated soul.

    Why we are inflicted with either of them is beyond me but we don’t have to listen to them and thankfully, only about 10% of the listening audience is tuned in when they are on air, so I suppose even the conservative barking dogs have to be heard in a democracy.

  28. [zoidlord
    Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink
    Isn’t WA Liberal been in power for while now ?]

    This is the first term. Barnett only won minority government in 2008.

  29. Whats with the ALP winning 28 seats with 35.8% of the vote compared with the combined Liberal and National party winning 28 seats with 43.3% of the vote?

  30. Whats with the ALP winning 28 seats with 35.8% of the vote compared with the combined Liberal and National party winning 28 seats with 43.3% of the vote?

    The same thing that caused Labor to win 33 seats with 46.8% of the vote compared with the National and Liberal party winning 47 seats with 42.2% of the vote in Queensland in 1972.

    And furthermore when Labor won 67 seats with 40.1% of the vote compared with the Liberal and National party winning 80 seats with 39.2% of the vote in the federal election in 1998.

    It’s a flaw in the electoral district voting system. In theory, it is possible for 1 party to win every single district with 50.1% of the vote. Of course it never happens in practice, but it is possible in theory if that party secures a bare majority in all electorates. The other parties would get nothing.

    With single member district voting, it’s impossible to enforce that the parties win the exact proportion of seats that they earned in the vote. In a fairly distributed system, it can normally get to get within about 5-10%, but any closer than that and it can fall one way or the other.

    Even with the redistribution last year (conducted under a Liberal government in case you’re implying that the 2007 redistribution caused malproportion), Labor still holds a majority in 27 seats, while the Liberals and Nationals hold a majority in 28 seats.

  31. [Von Kirsdarke
    Posted Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink]

    Fair enough, not as bad as Qld!

    For all its flaws I still prefer our system, although I would tweak it a little and have diminishing value for each level of preference vote (I cannot see how voting for a party on your 8th preference is weighted the same as someone who votes for them on first preference).

    What would you think of leaving the HOR system as is and just allocating senate seats proportionately based on the HOR vote distribution?

    Would remove the need to vote for a thousand different senate candidates you have never heard of below the line!

    Every government would need to negotiate passage of bills with representatives, representing > 50% of the electorate then…

  32. I don’t know, allocating senate seats just by HoR proportion could get a little messy. Especially when minor parties and independents are concerned.

    For example, say Katter’s Party only runs candidates in 5 out of 15 seats in Western Australia. The votes they get in those 5 seats would be all they get for their senate seat allocation. Meanwhile, Labor, the Liberals and the Greens run candidates in all 15 seats, therefore getting a higher vote count toward their allocation, and winning all of the senate seats, since the votes they get in 15 divisions outnumber the votes KAP gets in 5, even if a large number of voters in the other 10 divisions would like to vote for them but can’t.

    And then there’s Independents. Most voters would prefer to specify exactly which Independent they would rather vote for – for example the popular and charismatic rural mayor or the crazy pothead anarchist that calls himself The Wizard of Woolloomooloo. If they vote Independent for the HoR, it’d be a difficult process to try and determine exactly what other Independent should be put in the Senate.

    But yes, the current system is a bit ridiculous, those enormous Senate ballot papers are an embarrassment. Perhaps it could be reduced so that if you want to vote below the line, you can just number each party rather than every single candidate (the exception for Independents of course).

    And furthermore, optional preferential voting could work nicely for below the line. A voter in NSW could just put 1. Labor; or 1. Greens, 2. Labor, or 1. Liberal/National and have their votes exhaust and be done with it, rather than go 87. Crazy Pothead Independent; 86. CEC; 85. One Nation, etc.

    On the whole, I’m okay with the Senate voting system because it does usually reflect the same proportion of seats as the electorate voted for. Although it’d be good if somehow those backroom party deals were stopped, preventing Senators being elected with tiny amounts of votes and ending up holding the balance of power.

  33. [A voter in NSW could just put 1. Labor; or 1. Greens, 2. Labor, or 1. Liberal/National and have their votes exhaust and be done with it, rather than go 87. Crazy Pothead Independent; 86. CEC; 85. One Nation, etc.]

    Have you been looking over my shoulder while I vote?

    [Although it’d be good if somehow those backroom party deals were stopped, preventing Senators being elected with tiny amounts of votes and ending up holding the balance of power.]

    Amen to that.

    There is something unsettling about a candidate that receives 0.08% of the electorate’s vote ending up having the deciding vote in the Senate.

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