Senate of the day: New South Wales

The first in a six-and-a-bit part series which will, hopefully, get the whole Senate covered by polling day.

New South Wales has consistently produced conventional results since the era of six-seat half-Senate elections began in 1990, with either the Greens or the Democrats winning a seat on five of eight occasions and the seats dividing evenly between the major parties on the other three. The Liberals and Nationals have consistently run joint tickets throughout the modern era with the Nationals alternating between second and third position, giving them a safe seat at every second election and a less safe one in between. The minor party seats came at the Coalition’s expense in 1990 and 1998, and Labor’s in 1996, 2001 and 2010.

Kerry Nettle became the Greens’ first Senator for the state at the 2001 election when preferences from minor left-wing parties engorged her 4.3% base vote by enough to overtake One Nation on 5.6%, whose preferences then favoured her over both major parties and Democrats incumbent Vicki Bourne. The fading of One Nation and the Australian Democrats at the 2004 election caused Labor, the Coalition and Greens votes to increase, but in the latter case it was not enough to put them ahead of Labor’s surplus over the second quota, and the final seat went to Labor’s third candidate. The surge to Labor in 2007 likewise precluded the possibility of the Greens winning the third left seat, and Kerry Nettle failed to win re-election. Lee Rhiannon achieved a breakthrough for the party in 2010 when a surge in support for the party combined with a swing against Labor in New South Wales allowed her to achieve victory conventionally by overtaking the third Labor candidate and winning on their preferences, and not by the philosophically uncomfortable transfusion of One Nation preferences which had occurred in Nettle’s case.

The two main factors in assessing the likely outcome at the coming election are whether the collective Labor and Greens vote falls low enough to allow the “right” to win four seats rather than the usual three, and whether a third “left” seat, if there is one, goes to Labor or the Greens. The chances of this happening increase where parties order their preferences in such fashion as to potentially cause their votes to cross the ideological divide. Potential examples of this include Wikileaks and the Sex Party, who have dealt their way into a preference harvesting operation involving such catchily named entities as Stop the Greens and Smokers Rights, the provenance of which has been delved into by Andrew Crook of Crikey. The most likely beneficiary is Shooters and Fishers, which polled 2.3% in 2010, although another is Pauline Hanson, who is now back with One Nation. However, Hanson has been placed last by the Coalition, and thus does not stand to absorb the surplus after the election of their third member. In fact, she may have reduced the chance of a four right, two left result, as other micro-parties with the potential to win a seat with Coalition preferences could find themselves excluded due to a failure to overtake her.

Labor’s ticket is headed by Bob Carr, Foreign Minister and former Premier of New South Wales from 1995 to 2005, who entered parliament in March 2012 upon filling the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Mark Arbib. Arbib was a former secretary of the state party and Right faction warlord whose considerable muscle allowed him to enter parliament from the top position on the ticket at the 2007 election. However, Arbib was one of the key initators of the coup against Kevin Rudd in June 2010, and he struggled to live down his reputation as one of the party’s pernicious “faceless men”. It was nonetheless a great surprise when he announced his resignation immediately after Kevin Rudd’s first failed leadership challenge in February 2012, saying he wished to spend more time with his family and allow the party to recover from the division in which he had played a key role. Julia Gillard saw in Arbib’s departure an opportunity to enlist Bob Carr to fill the vacancy created by Kevin Rudd’s resignation as Foreign Minister, and boost her political stocks in the process. However, this provoked resistance from Stephen Smith, who hoped to recover the portfolio he had ceded to Rudd after the 2010 election, and Simon Crean, who hoped to replace Smith in defence. Gillard appeared at first to have made a politically damaging backdown, before reasserting herself with a surprise media announcement with Carr at her side that he would indeed be taking the job.

The second and third positions on the Labor ticket remain unchanged from 2007, reflecting an arrangement which reserves the first and third positions for the Right and the second for the Left. In second position is Doug Cameron, who made his parliamentary debut at the 2007 election when George Campbell, his predecessor as national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, made way for him rather than face defeat at preselection. Cameron emigrated from Scotland in 1973 at the age of 22, and has retained his distinctive accent. He has maintained a high profile as a factional spokesman, and as a supporter of Kevin Rudd’s leadership bids. After Kevin Rudd’s return at the end of June, he won promotion to parliamentary secretary for housing and homelessness. Number three on the ticket is Ursula Stephens, an Irish-born practising Catholic who before entering parliament was a school teacher and adviser in the NSW Premiers Department during Bob Carr’s tenure. Stephens secured the top position on the Senate ticket at the 2001 election, but was obliged to take the Right’s number three position in 2007 to make way for Mark Arbib. She served as a parliamentary secretary through Labor’s first term in government, but was dropped after the 2010 election.

The Coalition ticket is headed by Marise Payne, a generally low profile figure whose preselection ahead of Arthur Sinodinos was seen by some as an affront by the state party to Tony Abbott. Payne has been in the Senate since March 1997 when she filled a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Bob Woods, who left under a cloud over allegations of misuse of parliamentary privileges, and was re-elected from the number three position in 2001 and 2007. She faced down a preselection challenge on the latter occasion from the party’s rural vice-president Scot Macdonald, which was knocked on the head at John Howard’s direction through a creative rejection of McDonald’s nomination by the body designed to vet candidates on grounds of character or ethics. Payne was promoted to shadow parliamentary secretary after the 2007 election defeat and then to the shadow ministry in December 2009, holding the housing portfolio since after the 2010 election. In the second position reserved for the Nationals is John “Wacka” Williams, a former Inverell businessmen who defeated incumbent Sandy McDonald for preselection before the 2007 election. This result was reported in terms of a desire to follow the example of Barnaby Joyce, who had demonstrated the electoral value of an image of independence from the Liberal Party, although Williams has failed to match Joyce’s profile. That has left number three for Arthur Sinodinos, who served as chief-of-staff to John Howard from his election in 1996 until 2006 when he took up a position with Goldman Sachs JBWere. Sinodinos entered the Senate in November 2011 after the resignation of Helen Coonan, a senior Howard government minister who had served in the Senate since July 1996. He has so far won promotion only to the position of parliamentary secretary, achieved in September 2012, and it has often been said he has bene a victim of Tony Abbott’s determination to maintain a stable front-bench line-up at the cost of maintaining the positions of lesser lights.

The lead Greens candidate is Cate Faehrmann, who filled the vacancy in the New South Wales Legislative Council when Lee Rhiannon was elected to the Senate at the 2010 election. Faehrmann is said to be part of the environmentally motivated tendency within the state party, as distinct from the “hard left” faction associated with Lee Rhiannon. After the party’s disappointing performance at the 2011 state election she wrote a newspaper column criticising the party’s focus on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. She resigned from her position in the Legislative Council to embark on her Senate campaign in June.

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.

29 comments on “Senate of the day: New South Wales”

  1. Hi William

    If the ALP/Green vote (at 44% 2PP in NSW) does fall under the 42.5% quota in the senate. Do you know which of the minor party have the best chance to get the last senate seat?

  2. An interesting race for the final seat here. Any conventional wisdom on the combined ALP/Greens vote that would likely see a 2 ALP, 1 AG, 3 Coalition split?

  3. 3

    If the combined ALP and Greens votes are near, at or in excess of 3 quotas then there will be that combination. I do not think that the NSW ALP will get enough vote for 3 Senators in NSW this election.

    There is also a change, apparently, that the Greens could be elected on Coalition preferences if it comes down to Greens versus One Nation, for the final seat.

  4. [If the ALP/Green vote (at 44% 2PP in NSW) does fall under the 42.5% quota in the senate. Do you know which of the minor party have the best chance to get the last senate seat?]

    I tend to think Shooters and Fishers. One scenario I plugged into Antony’s calculator gave it to Stop CSG, although it may have been based on an over-estimate of their base vote, which is an imponderable.

  5. Why do you keep up this ‘hard left’ Lee Rhiannon BS? Who was the first NSW politician to stand with the farmers on the Liverpool Plains? Not a Nat, not a Lib, not ‘the environmentally motivated Cate Faehrmann, but that bloody commo lee Rhiannon. Lee is one of the hardest working and most decent politicians in the country, and about as hard left as my fat black cat

  6. Hard to see a combined ALP/Greens vote fall below 42.9% (the amount required for three quotas). Labor will pick up the first two quotas easily (28.6%), but any residual votes should fall below the Greens expected vote of 9 – 10%. This means Labor’s vote will then go to the Greens. Cate Faehrmann from the Greens should then get to 14.3% and be elected. But it’ll be close as it always is.

  7. Disappointing that you should just repeat News Ltd’s spin about the Greens and its MPs. The 2011 NSW state election result was the best ever for the party – a record NSW vote with 3 Greens elected to the upper house and 1 to the lower house. Lee Rhiannon does have left wing views and her track record demonstrates she is a committed environmentalist too.

  8. My own view, which I like to think was formed independently of News Limited, is that the Greens would have hoped to have done better out of a 13.4% drop in the Labor vote. And it is evident that this view was shared by some in the party.

  9. 9

    The NSW Greens, had they campaigned better, should have been able to get enough vote for 1 MLC and 1 MLA more than they gained.

  10. 6

    Senator Riannon does come across as hard working and committed to the community but she does have communist baggage that she has not fully dealt with.

  11. She’s also an utter bore and one of the realms of parliamentary readers. You’d think with her experience she’d be able to at least give a couple of off the cuff speeches.

  12. Come off it Tom, the only people who feel she “does have communist baggage that she has not fully dealt with” are journalists from the Murdoch Press because they are looking for a stick to whack her with.

  13. More “useful idiots” than fellow travellers.
    At least we are all agreed that the woeful Ursula is a goner.

  14. The NSW senate promises to be the most interesting (anti-democratic) senate election of all. I have plugged in the preferences into excel which then runs 1000 monte-carlo style repetitions by altering each party’s vote by between 50% (for the small parties forecast to get 0.05%) and 15% of vote. So, the ranges used for the micro parties are 0.025% to 0.075%, and for the liberal party from 42% +/- about 6% for the purpose of a wide simulation.

    The results are that LNP gets 3 seats 80% of the time – this is unsurprising. Half of this 80%, the LDP gets a 4th “right” seat off 2% primaries. Again, this is quite likely given they’ve got the Group A ballot draw.

    On the left, the greens are about 50-50 to get a seat off labor preferences. Surprisingly, it’s the Democrats who are also 10% likely to get elected assuming their primary vote is just 0.50%. Note that 46/52 tickets go to the dems ahead of the greens, and 43/52 tickets go dems before LNP – this gives the dems an outside chance with 0.5% primary, and a better chance with 1.0% primary…

    For the smaller parties, my inputs gives a 3.4% likelihood of election to the Shooters and Fishers, 1.6% to KAP, 5% to the CDP, and <1% to No Carbon Tax, No Coal Seam Gas, Building Australia, S-x party and the Stable population party.

    And yes, I have tested my excel vs Antony Green – for any given set of primary inputs, my output matches the guru. 🙂

    Can't wait for future senate analysis here, Will.

  15. PS – my main inputs are
    LNP: 42% +/-6%
    ALP: 33% +/-5%
    GRN: 8% +/-2%
    These are consistent with swings and consistent with an expectation that major party vote will be 83% in this election where there are a confusing number of candidates.

  16. OK, I’ll pre-write my response 🙂 (I’ve done the numbers on all the states and the NT. I think ACT will just be a one-liner…)

  17. For Hanson to get elected, I calculate One Nation would need a primary vote of 2.5%. Regardless of their far right position on the ballot, I consider this extremely unlikely. Where elected, Hanson replaces LDP, or LNP to a lesser extent.

  18. I feel One Nation may well be above 2.5%. P.H. won 2.4 % as an independent in the 2011 NSW LC election and due to the small quota almost took a seat.

  19. OC: I disagree somewhat. I don’t think Hanson will win anywhere near 2.5%.

    What is significant about this ballot compared to the NSW LC one is that there are 40+ tickets here – much harder to find any particular ticket. There were only about 15 in the NSW LC. Analysis of senate votes in previous elections shows that the greater the number of tickets the lower percentage vote for the 3 major parties, but the greater the splintering of the “other” vote. In my modelling I’ve assumed 83% major vote, with the 17% split between 1-2% for each of KAP, PUP, CDP, LDP, ONP, S-x, Shooters/Fishers, but this means the other 30 parties share only 8% of the vote. However, with harvesting, this will be good for LDP to have a 50-50 shot of winning.

    However, Hanson does occupy the extreme right fringe of… the ballot paper – this may increase her vote a little, but not to 2.5% IMHO.

  20. Sex Party has the potential of being elected in NSW based on analysis of the Group ticket preferences

    The Liberal party is expected to win three Senate seats and the ALP should hold on to two seats,  The battle for the last seat will be determined on preferences with the Greens falling below quota. The Greens do not favour well on the preference flow with Wikileaks and Sex Party place a head of the Greens if the Greens are unable to secure a quota in their own right and the ALP surplus is low then Sex Party is best placed to win its first Senate seat in NSW

    Analyses undertaken using the ABC Senate calculator based on 2010 Figures with adjustments to take into consideration new parties and shift in support from the ALP to the  Liberal Party.  Support for Wikileaks is expected to come primarily from the Greens Primary vote which explains why thw Greens are hell bent on attacking Wikileaks where possible.

    See ABC State Seat Historical voting statistics used as a base in analysis

    If you allowed HTM table format I would post a crucia preference flowtable summary

    Copies can be found here.

  21. I started writing an extended comment here about the methods and assumptions I use in my model. But instead of taking over this blog, I have provided this additional information elsewhere. I encourage those with a big interest in senate prediction to read my new blog, and I’ll be happy to engage in conversation about my methods, calculations and estimates.

  22. This is my regular “above the line” guide for voting in the senate. It shows you where your vote is likely to end up if you vote above the line, based on a limited set of candidates who have a chance of winning.

    Thanks to truth seeker for the info on which parties are in with a chance (and please contact to me to discuss some ideas I have). Thanks also to the AEC for issuing the tickets in csv form.

  23. I have tried to consider the impact of Katter and Palmer on NSW. I do not get One Nation elected in any of my models But I have seen KAP get elected from a low base. This makes two states that could produce strange results QLD and NSW..

    I do not think I have seen an election that is so unpredictable as this one in terms of Senate results

    Its mainly due to the fact that all minor parties have predominately placed the main three at the end.

  24. NSW Group ticket preference flow with PUP and KAP added to list Coma delimited

    ID, Group Name, GroupPref
    A, Liberal Democrats, , WKP, KAP, PUP, DLP, FFP, LPNP, ASP, ALP, GRN
    B, No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics, , ASP, DLP, FFP, WKP, KAP, PUP, ALP, LPNP, GRN
    C, Democratic Labour Party (DLP), , DLP, KAP, FFP, PUP, ASP, ALP, LPNP, WKP, GRN
    D, Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues), , ASP, FFP, WKP, PUP, KAP, DLP, ALP, LPNP, GRN
    E, Voluntary Euthanasia Party, , WKP, GRN, PUP, KAP, DLP, ASP, FFP, ALP, LPNP
    G, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, , WKP, KAP, GRN, ALP, ASP, FFP, DLP, PUP, LPNP
    G, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, , WKP, KAP, ALP, GRN, ASP, FFP, DLP, PUP, LPNP
    G, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, , WKP, KAP, GRN, ALP, ASP, FFP, DLP, PUP, LPNP
    H, Carers Alliance, , LPNP, WKP, DLP, FFP, ALP, ASP, PUP, KAP, GRN
    I, The Wikileaks Party, , WKP, ASP, GRN, ALP, FFP, DLP, LPNP, PUP, KAP
    J, Rise Up Australia Party, , DLP, FFP, ASP, LPNP, PUP, KAP, ALP, WKP, GRN
    K, Future Party, , WKP, GRN, ALP, LPNP, PUP, ASP, KAP, DLP, FFP
    L, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group), , ASP, KAP, DLP, FFP, PUP, LPNP, ALP, WKP, GRN
    M, Labor, , ALP, GRN, ASP, WKP, KAP, DLP, FFP, PUP, LPNP
    N, Katter’s Australian Party, , KAP, DLP, PUP, WKP, ASP, FFP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    O, Australian Voice, , ASP, FFP, WKP, DLP, PUP, KAP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    P, Sex Party, , WKP, ASP, GRN, ALP, KAP, PUP, LPNP, FFP, DLP
    Q, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, , ASP, FFP, DLP, KAP, PUP, ALP, LPNP, WKP, GRN
    R, The Greens, , GRN, WKP, ALP, PUP, KAP, LPNP, DLP, FFP, ASP
    S, Palmer United Party, , PUP, FFP, LPNP, DLP, WKP, KAP, GRN, ASP, ALP
    T, Building Australia Party, , FFP, ASP, WKP, DLP, KAP, PUP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    U, Uniting Australia Party, , ASP, WKP, FFP, DLP, KAP, LPNP, ALP, GRN, PUP
    V, Stop The Greens, , WKP, KAP, PUP, DLP, FFP, LPNP, ASP, ALP, GRN
    W, Smokers Rights, , WKP, KAP, PUP, DLP, FFP, LPNP, ASP, ALP, GRN
    X, Bullet Train For Australia, , WKP, DLP, ASP, FFP, KAP, PUP, GRN, ALP, LPNP
    Y, Liberal, , LPNP, ASP, DLP, FFP, PUP, KAP, ALP, WKP, GRN
    Z, Australian Protectionist Party, , KAP, ASP, DLP, FFP, PUP, WKP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    AA, Animal Justice Party, , FFP, WKP, PUP, GRN, ALP, LPNP, DLP, KAP, ASP
    AB, Australia First Party, , FFP, ASP, WKP, KAP, DLP, PUP, ALP, LPNP, GRN
    AC, Australian Independents, , ASP, FFP, WKP, DLP, KAP, PUP, GRN, LPNP, ALP
    AD, Drug Law Reform, , WKP, GRN, ALP, LPNP, DLP, KAP, PUP, FFP, ASP
    AE, Socialist Equality Party, , ALP, KAP, GRN, PUP, LPNP, FFP, ASP, DLP, WKP
    AE, Socialist Equality Party, , GRN, PUP, LPNP, FFP, ASP, DLP, WKP, ALP, KAP
    AE, Socialist Equality Party, , LPNP, FFP, ASP, DLP, WKP, ALP, KAP, GRN, PUP
    AF, Australian Democrats, , KAP, WKP, GRN, PUP, DLP, ALP, LPNP, FFP, ASP
    AF, Australian Democrats, , KAP, WKP, GRN, PUP, DLP, LPNP, ALP, FFP, ASP
    AH, Family First Party, , FFP, ASP, KAP, DLP, PUP, WKP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    AI, Stable Population Party, , FFP, WKP, KAP, GRN, ALP, LPNP, DLP, ASP, PUP
    AI, Stable Population Party, , FFP, WKP, KAP, ALP, GRN, LPNP, DLP, ASP, PUP
    AI, Stable Population Party, , FFP, WKP, KAP, LPNP, GRN, ALP, DLP, ASP, PUP
    AJ, Shooters and Fishers, , ASP, FFP, DLP, KAP, PUP, ALP, LPNP, WKP, GRN
    AL, The Australian Republicans, , LPNP, WKP, GRN, ALP, KAP, PUP, FFP, ASP, DLP
    AM, Socialist Alliance, , GRN, WKP, ALP, LPNP, DLP, KAP, PUP, ASP, FFP
    AN, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting), , WKP, FFP, DLP, ASP, PUP, KAP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    AO, Pirate Party, , GRN, WKP, DLP, ALP, ASP, LPNP, KAP, PUP, FFP
    AP, Secular Party of Australia, , WKP, GRN, ALP, LPNP, PUP, KAP, ASP, DLP, FFP
    AQ, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, , ASP, FFP, WKP, KAP, PUP, DLP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    AR, One Nation, , KAP, DLP, FFP, ASP, PUP, WKP, LPNP, ALP, GRN
    AR, One Nation, , KAP, DLP, FFP, ASP, PUP, WKP, ALP, LPNP, GRN

  25. Tony Abbott is running with the Carbon Tax issue as a threat for a double dissolution. I guess it is also a last minute pitch to ask voters to give the LNP mandate in the Senate.

    I can not see the Greens getting 13% in NSW

    I did get one situation where One nation did get up but they had to have over 2% which I think is unlikely. If the ALP falls just below quota then the Greens are in a losing position at 10% primary

    William is right Greens success in NSW is dependent on a combined ALP/Green vote reaching 42% if they fall below then the Greens are twice as likly to end up the wasted quota

    But for the first time I find the thought of One Nation being elected ahead of the Greens to be scary. BUT That is dependent on One nation polling over 2% which I think with Katter and PUP running to be highly unlikely.

    Looking forward to getting aces to the full BTL data entry preference data file for post analysis.

    This is one where the distortions in the method of counting will have an effect…

  26. Last week of campaign has seen a consolidation of votes, as expected, KAP is not doing as well as Clive Palmer who is predicted to attract around 6%

    The Greens >10% will be in contest with PUP but expected to cross the line on the back of ALP Surplus and Sex Party preferences

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