Preferential treatment

Some brief insights into the horrid mess caused by our system of mandatory Senate preference dealings.

In a spirit of providing a new post every day during the campaign over and above things like the Senate of the Day entries, today I offer the following scattered assortment of bits-and-pieces relating to contentious preference deals.

• The biggest headline-generator has been the Wikileaks Party, whose most contentious choices have involved a New South Wales ticket which places the Greens behind both the quasi-fascist Australia First and, more consequentially, Shooters & Fishers, and a Western Australian ticket which has the Greens behind the Nationals. Responding to an immediate backlash on social media, the decisions were put down to “administrative errors”, which appeared to involve paperwork being lodged by activists with different ideas about strategy from the party executive. Three of the most noteworthy critics of the arrangement have been Julian Assange’s Senate running mate in Victoria, academic and ethicist Leslie Cannold, who resigned complaining that the party’s democratic processes had been bypassed (albeit that this happened too late to affect her inclusion on the ballot paper); Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, who said that if she lived in Western Australian she would vote for Scott Ludlam of the Greens, who has been the strongest parliamentary supporters of her son’s cause; and Julian Assange himself, who apologised for having “over-delegated” such matters to persons evidently less capable than himself. For all that, the preference arrangements have conferred tactical advantage on the party in some cases, such as in Western Australia where it will be fed preferences from Family First, the Katter and Palmer parties, and a lengthy list of smaller concerns.

• Four parties in Victoria remarkably failed to lodge preference tickets, which among other things offered a potent insight into the closeness of the relationship between them. This was further delved into by Andrew Crook at Crikey, who noted the same personages at work behind the Liberal Democratic Party, Stop the Greens, the Smokers Rights Party and the Republican Party. A source quoted by Christian Kerr of The Australian put the non-lodgement of the tickets down to matters having been “thrown into chaos as it became clear Labor would do a deal with the Greens”. This came as bad news to the Sex Party, which had dealt its way into a national arrangement with the parties concerned that also involved One Nation. To those angered to discover that the party had done Pauline Hanson a good turn in her bid for a New South Wales seat, the party weakly responded that “you have to put these lunatic parties somewhere”, while failing to acknowledge that in Hanson’s case “somewhere” was number 10 out of 110, ahead of Labor, the Coalition and the Greens.

• The complex of preference harvesters and opportunists willing to make deals with them has gifted Pauline Hanson with what occasional psephologist Polly Morgan describes as “an incredibly favourable preference flow”. However, Hanson faces the stumbling block that the Coalition have her placed last, so unlike other parties to the arrangement she does not stand to benefit from the surplus after the election of their third Senator, which in the context of the current election could be substantial. Indeed, Hanson’s candidacy may end up doing the left a good turn, as other right-wing candidates with the potential to be elected with help from Coalition preferences could instead get excluded at an earlier stage of the count by virtue of their failure to overtake Hanson. Should Hanson not poll quite so well as that, there are a range of potential scenarios for a seat to go to a micro-party. The most likely contender could be the Liberal Democrats, who have had a lucky break in being drawn as “Group A” on the enormous Senate ballot paper. Experience suggests this will substantially boost the number of votes they get from those confusing them with the Liberal Party, the Coalition ticket being a lot harder to locate (“Group Y” out of a listing the continues all the way out to “Group AR”).

• Labor has made the highly unusual decision to place the Liberals ahead of Andrew Wilkie in Denison. It presumably did so in the expectation that its preferences would not be distributed, the weakness of the Liberals in the electorate meaning the final count will most likely be between Wilkie and the Labor candidate, Jane Austin. However, the weekend’s ReachTEL poll of 563 respondents cast at least some doubt on this, showing the Liberal candidate leading Austin 23.1% to 18.0%. Wilkie’s position nonetheless appears strong enough to ensure his re-election regardless of how preferences are directed.

• Labor has entered a preference arrangement with Katter’s Australian Party in Queensland in which the latter will receive the former’s preferences for the Senate ahead of the Greens, in exchange for which the latter will direct preferences to Labor ahead of the Liberal National Party in Hinkler, Herbert, Flynn, Capricornia, Forde and Petrie. This could well entail the high price of having KAP Senate candidate James Blundell elected ahead of the Greens, a prospect that would be pleasing to an incoming Abbott government. As Steven Scott of the Courier-Mail reports, it has also caused some not unpredictable dissent in the KAP.

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.

1,340 comments on “Preferential treatment”

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  1. [Backflips!

    Flip a coin when you’re in the booth.]

    I fully support your dig on this. I supported a Rudd comeback and I was wrong.

  2. [6
    Posted Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:16 am | PERMALINK
    rummel – He’s an unhappy little vegemite. ]

    That was an unfair shake of the sauce bottle

  3. rummel

    What we’re faced with is two candidates who would say and do anything to win.

    F#uk knows what the winner will do when in … and their party has no idea ‘what’ either.


  4. [8
    Posted Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 6:22 am | PERMALINK

    What we’re faced with is two candidates who would say and do anything to win.

    F#uk knows what the winner will do when in … and their party has no idea ‘what’ either.



  5. rummel – What was really unfair was Kevvie at the BBQ with sausage sandwiches the other day.

    I was hungry at the time.

    Instant craving!

  6. Having now voted prepoll for the Senate in NSW, I would have to say that I’m far from convinced that drawing the Group A position continues to be advantageous. The ballot is far too big to fit in the voting screen, and when you drop it down, Group A is halfway up the left hand wall. My guess is that the “donkey” vote will therefore be spread over a few groups more or less in the middle of the paper. That is probably also the way it will work for people who vote by post: it’s easier to plonk a number in the middle than to reach up to the left hand corner.

  7. [Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm | PERMALINK
    the QLD L-NP is the gift which keeps giving

    CLIVE Palmer will issue a writ for defamation against Fisher LNP candidate Mal Brough, saying the former Howard Government minister needed to be brought to account.

    The Palmer United Party leader said he wanted the matter resolved in court where he was more than prepared to “swear on a Bible” that Mr Brough had come to him seeking money to fund James Ashby’s failed sexual harassment case against Fisher MP Peter Slipper.

    Mr Brough, who has previously denied the allegation and questioned Mr Palmer’s consistency in his recollections of a meeting between the pair at Palmer Coolum Resort last year, refused to comment yesterday.

    Mr Palmer said he was taking legal action against Mr Brough because the Fisher candidate was “a liar”.

    “I am prepared to protect my reputation,” he said. “I am prepared to protect Joe Hockey’s reputation.”

    Mr Palmer said the Judge Steven Rares, who heard the Ashby allegations of sexual harassment by Mr Slipper, had made it quite clear on what Mr Brough’s behaviour had been like.

    “It’s not a question of integrity,” Mr Palmer said.

    “I agree with the judge. I just really confirmed what the judge had already found that Mr Brough has been lying; that Mr Brough had been trying to cause damage to another Australian and trying to solicit funds from me to do that.

    “Would I swear on a Bible that I’m telling the truth?

    “Absolutely; there is no question about that. I will be looking forward to the opportunity in court to take that (oath) and to bring forward in court the evidence I’d produce that shows Mal Brough is a liar.

    “He’s opened his mouth and now he’s made his own bed. Let him lie in it.”

    A myth of the last three years has been the significance of court cases especially defamation suits.

    I would be as worried about being sued by Clive Palmer as if it was David Ettridge as John Setka

  8. rummel

    Maybe. Whatever it takes has been Abbott’s plan as we have seen for last three years.

    You are just upset that PMKR is better at it.

  9. ru HAS happened again

    my warning re twitter don’t tweet well known libs
    think there is some hackers
    out there.

    u lose your twitter account

    must be me of course I am paranoid lol

    please pass on to mark js and the other others RU

    have applied suppose I will get back

    only pays to make up your own tweets
    and talk to no one


    in your mind put a white light around kev and all our wonderful honest mps to give strength

    this 500 dollars is wrong re c price

    last year I ask our local lib to see catch him out

    how much will u be sending me in money

    if ta rolls back the carbon price

    HE TOLD ME 1 5 0 DOLLARS make pass on in an email so black and white in an email not on the phone

    S o they know how to tell whoopers but no matter
    the twitter account
    I can still see twitter I still can send all the things I see to face book and emails

    so its not big thing in my life but

    I feel something is going on this the third time now I ve tweeted a lib well known
    are account hacked who knows? by who would not have clue\

  10. also thee is alink to a site that is aust wide

    shows av, guytuar u may pick up on it

    coul you follow mark js just to let him know where I am pls

  11. Is it just ME, or were all the Rooty Hill questions about ME ME ME and What’s In It For ME from the People’s Republic of ME?

    Perhaps my memory is faulty…I dimly recall a hazy golden age when Australian voters gave a shit about things other than themselves. I might’ve been dreaming it.

  12. morgan had kev winning big time with their worm
    the other worm did all the up and down on cue lol

    I tweeted a lib who is catholic not tony

    time to go to conf, and mass

    twitter went yes I know I am paranoid silly me

    but at lol

    bye I like being active all over the place

    fin it a bit god forsaken here

    don’t ban me will for saying that I don’t mean u

  13. what do u mean guytyuar have to go in min to baby sit take 20 min to get there will check back with you

    also do u all remember rooty hill person with child with disability think back think think

    then the person was on the phone next day in 2010 forgot the text of it,

    rat smelling last night to smooth for me the man with son with disability if your child had a disability u would NOT even consider voting liberal

    they wouldn’t tell u even if their pants where on fire

  14. and the happy worm went up and down on cue

    the one at mr morgans well he is switched on worm

    had kev winning u can check it all out on the net
    its all to read
    sorry I post like tweeting

  15. my say

    You can get to your twitter account through their website. If you can access account there the problem is with the application you are using

  16. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    MUST READ. Mark Latham dissects Abbott and his methods and motives.
    Peter FizSimons calls out the Essendon penalties as a “whitewash”.–whitewash-20130828-2sqt2.html
    These journos hammer the gutlessness of Credlin’s campaign. It really is an appalling effort.
    So who would you like to win this spot?
    Mark Kenny calls out Hockey’s surplus retreat but doesn’t hammer it home. Surprised?
    Tim Colebatch also has a crack but he reckons that the public will take no notice.
    And more of the same form Hartcher. He seems to infer that Abbott will win the election by trickery.
    Paul Sheehan with a gratuitous article on Jason Li – he doesn’t mention the now invisible Jaymes Diaz though!
    As taste of what the Coalition’s “move to the centre” on IR might bring?

  17. Section 2 . . .

    Alan Moir on Rudd’s campaign so far. Not impressed.
    David Pope just LOVES the SkyWhale! I think it’s the breasts that get to him.
    David Rowe has a political peep show in this disturbing offering.
    A RIPPER from Ron Tandberg.

  18. Have you mentioned the Essential state breakdowns from yesterday anywhere William?

    They are giving a narrow victory to the ALP

    [A rise last week in Labor’s vote in Queensland would be enough to deliver victory to Kevin Rudd, the latest breakdown of Essential Research’s polling data shows.

    A state-based breakdown of Essential’s data over the last four weeks, including the first three weeks of the election campaign, shows Labor headed for a narrow win on a two-party preferred outcome of 50%. The sample size of the combined data is just under 3700.

    Compared to last week’s breakdown, there has been no shift in NSW (sample size: 1241), where a 1.8% swing would hand the Coalition four seats, in addition to their picking up New England and Lyne. In Victoria (sample 939), Labor has edged ahead of the Coalition 51-49%, but that is still a hefty 4.3% swing against Labor from the last election, which would see the loss of three seats. The Greens are on 11% in Victoria, the sort of vote that should see them pick up an extra spot in the Senate — and who knows, Adam Bandt might yet hang on in Melbourne.]

  19. And from the Land of the Free –

    Some cartoons on the Repugs and their reactions to the 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech.
    This week’s upchuck compendium.
    Here come the neocons out of their caves after a sniff of war appears.
    Idiot Pat Roberstson is surely losing his marbles!

  20. Gee ESJ Crikey Whitey did right thing for you last night and posted your silly comment for you to save you setting the alarm Sleep well now old man you would be exhausted :devil:

  21. Not long to wait now Mari, lots of things for you to tut tut over the knitting needles in the coming days, weeks, months and years.

  22. How the fuck can you stand in a polling booth and make decision to vote for these charlatens.

    abbott stands at a peoples forum and tells the forum point blank that the LNP will not abolish Medicare Locals.

    In the Australian on 14th March 2013

    [A COALITION government would run the ruler over primary healthcare, abolishing Medicare Locals in favour of new links between GPs and public hospitals as part of efforts to redirect hundreds of millions of dollars each year.]

    Dutton didn’t rule it out in his debate with Tanya.

    what a joke they are on the Australian people.

    Rummel, you are a proud supporter of the liars party, yes or no, Are medicare locals going under your rabble?

  23. Gaffhook

    Abbott and is cronies have been prolific in mixed messaging. On one hand, prudent economic managers, and on the other spending like drunken sailors

  24. Sorry ESJ is that supposed to be an insult I am left handed and can’t knit, admire people who can ! Polish up your insults old man 😀

  25. This was on the previous thread. Worth re posting

    ItDoesntAddUp Tony
    Posted Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 2:32 am | PERMALINK
    I’ve been playing with Youtube over the last few days. I’ve been creating Youtube videos based on PowerPoint slides. I’ve now created one that looks at who pays for Abbott’s PPL. Any feedback would be welcome.]

    Nothing Abbott says or does adds up

  26. Labot has its campaign launch on Sunday the 1st September which happens to be father’s day.

    On Monday, Rudd will appear on Qanda.

  27. You are right BK especially when I am looking after my grandkids today to give their parents a couple of days away for a special birthday

  28. sprocket

    I heard somewhere that Richard Fidler was going to interview Tom Watson today, but cannot find any mention of it on the ABC website

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