Senate call of the board

Senate results sliced and diced as the final determinations are reached, starting with the first two: Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The first two Senate results were determined today, for Tasmania and the Northern Territory. No further results will be decided until at least next week, with the possibility of some having to wait until a week subsequently. This post will review the results as they emerge.

Western Australia (October 2)

The one we’ve all been waiting for: it’s Louise Pratt and PUP, rather than Scott Ludlam and Sports, possibly pending an unprecedented Senate recount. 1. David Johnston (Liberal); 2. Joe Bullock (Labor); 3. Michaelia Cash (Liberal); 4. Linda Reynolds (Liberal); 5. Zhenya Wang (PUP); 6. Louise Pratt (Labor).

The result was decided by a difference of just 14 votes, that being the margin at the key point of the count between Shooters & Fishers (23,515) and Australian Christians (23,501). Going on the ABC computer projection, the margin at that point in the count was 23,395 for Shooters & Fishers against 22,967 for Australian Christians. So below-the-line votes cost van Burgel 534 vote and Bow 120 – not quite enough to make the difference. Had Shooters & Fishers dropped out, their preferences would have gone to the Australian Sports Party, sustaining them at a point in the count where they would otherwise have been excluded. There would then have come a later point in the count where the Palmer United Party would have been excluded on account of being behind the Sports Party, and their preferences would have flowed to the Greens giving Ludlam the seat at the expense of Pratt.

New South Wales (October 2)

As anticipated, 1. Marise Payne (Liberal), 2. Bob Carr (Labor), 3. John Williams (Nationals), 4. Doug Cameron (Labor), 5. David Leyonhjelm (LDP); 6. Arthur Sinodinos (Liberal).

Queensland (October 2)

No surprises here either, except that it’s come sooner than anticipated. 1. Ian Macdonald (LNP), 2. Chris Ketter (Labor), 3. James McGrath (LNP), 4. Claire Moore (Labor), 5. Glenn Lazarus (PUP) & 6. Matt Canavan (LNP).

Victoria (October 1)

1. Mitch Fifield (Liberal), 2. Gavin Marshall (Labor), 3. Scott Ryan (Liberal), 4. Jacinta Collins (Labor), 5. Janet Rice (Greens); 6. Ricky Muir (Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party).

Also confirmed today, and also in line with what all models were projecting.

South Australia (October 1)

1. Cory Bernardi (Liberal); 2. Nick Xenophon; 3. Penny Wong (Labor); 4. Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens); 5. Bob Day (Family First); 6. Simon Birmingham (Liberal).

Confirmed today, with no surprises. More to follow.

Australian Capital Territory (October 1)

1. Kate Lundy (Labor); 2. Zed Seselja (Liberal).

Confirmed this morning. No surprises here.


1. Richard Colbeck (Liberal); 2. Carol Brown (Labor); 3. David Bushby (Liberal); 4. Catryna Bilyk (Labor); 5. Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens); 6. Jacqui Lambie (Palmer United).

Liberal and Labor both scored a clean two quotas off the primary vote (2.63 and 2.30 respectively), with Labor’s surplus enough to ensure election for Peter Whish-Wilson (0.82) after the exclusion of the third Labor candidate, Lin Thorp. The race for the final seat ended up a three-way contest between the ultimately successful Jacqui Lambie of the Palmer United Party, third Liberal candidate Sally Chandler, and Robbie Swan of the Sex Party. The ABC calculator had been giving it to Swan because a strong performance on preferences, including from some unlikely sources, would have helped him stay ahead of Lin Thorp by 15,145 to 14,449 at a key point of the count. However, many of those preferences were perversely to come from conservative parties (Shooters and Fishers, Country Alliance, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party) whose supporters were not of a mind to direct preferences to the Sex Party consciously (UPDATE: Kevin Bonham in comments points out the Sex Party in fact got more below-the-line preferences than Labor from Shooters and Fishers voters – however, on the ABC calculator projection they were getting all of them). That caused 653 below-the-line votes for those parties to leak away, while below-the-line votes gave Thorp a net gain of 287. The closure of the gap meant the exclusion of Swan, followed by the exclusion of Thorp and the election of Whish-Wilson. At this stage, Jacqui Lambie emerged with a 31,142-29,866 vote lead over the Liberal Democrats, whose exclusion unlocked the flood of preferences which elected her. Had Lambie failed to stay ahead of the Liberal Democrats, her own preferences would have decided the result in favour of Chandler.

Northern Territory

1. Nigel Scullion (Country Liberal); 2. Nova Peris (Labor).

Labor finished just short of a quota with 0.9824, but would presumably have got over the line on below-the-line preferences on any scenario. Even if it were otherwise, the combinations that might have put Nova Peris in jeopardy were not in place. The one party with the potential to absorb the entire non-Labor vote was First Nations, but the combined vote for it and its immediate preference feeders amounted to only 2.18%, giving its candidate no chance of overtaking Australian Independents or Shooters and Fishers as required to keep the snowball rolling. Peris made it to a quota when Sex Party preferences were distributed, and stood to receive the 8.7% Greens vote if the count had proceeded further.

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.

308 comments on “Senate call of the board”

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  1. SgtThursday

    Every electorate gets representation, they just elect 1 candidate. Unless you are suggesting that Abbott should be joint PM with Gillard after the last election and Rudd and Abbott joint PM now, almost 1/2 of Australia never gets the PM they want. We might as well do without elections.

    D@W if we set the Quota of election to 50% in the ACT, the Greens would have been eliminated and the ALP and Liberal elected (since at election both Liberals and ALP had >33.33% and the most the Greens could get is less then 33%. It changes nothing, the droop quota’s vote was counted. What you are proposing is rather silly, that Family First was not elected in the ACT and their vote did not count? Their vote did not elect anyone, because not enough people want them in parliament. If enough people wanted the Greens (in ACT) in parliament, they would have voted for them, In the ACT, the electorate select 2 people to represent them, that is the ALP and Liberal candidate, unless we decide that the ALP candidate will sit 70% of the time, the Liberal 60%, Greens 30%, Sex party 10% etc. We can never have 5 people filling 2 seats in parliament

  2. Sprocket, more precisely, without the ALP, Greens or PUP the Coalition cannot pass legislation.

    I remember reading somewhere that if Bob Carr resigns, there could be the potential that, if the NSW Parliament delays appointing a replacement, the numbers may be slightly different for a period of time. In practice, the parties pair casual vacancies (except for secret ballots) so unless that convention was breached it wouldn’t do much.

  3. sprocket_

    you do know that Palmer is a conservative and his politics is quite conservative, ie No carbon tax under a government I supports?

  4. There was criticism before the election of Wikileaks’s shabby treatment of Ludlam in the ABL preferences after all the support he has given them. Could they have got him elected if they’d put him higher?

  5. [AEC ‏@AusElectoralCom 1m WA Senate result: 1. Johnston (Lib), 2. Bullock (ALP), 3. Cash (Lib), 4. Reynolds (Lib), 5. Wang (PUP) & 6. Pratt (ALP). #ausvotes #auspol]

  6. [dovif
    Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    you do know that Palmer is a conservative and his politics is quite conservative, ie No carbon tax under a government I supports?

    No shit Sherlock.

    Clive Palmer, however, may be the loose cannon which brings QLD LNP shennanigans to the stability craved by Menzies House.

  7. Without wanting to bog a count thread with too much political discussion – it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen during this term with PUP. If Palmer is not elected, there’s a good chance he’ll lose interest in the party and we’ll end up with 3 additional independent senators. If he is, there may be infighting, which may lead to the same result. Alternatively, they may consider their best chances at the next election rest upon building up a protest vote against the Abbott Government – and this can be achieved by selectively blocking controversial legislation.

  8. Also, ltep, if Abbott is forced to a DD election to repeal the carbon price it can only help to get more PUP senators elected (assuming they don’t lose too much of their vote from an electoral backlash).

  9. SgtThursday

    I just laugh at the Left trying to claim Palmer as one of their own and using PUP, ALP and Green party in the same sentance.

    Palmer got into politics because he had the money and he did not think the Liberals are conservative enough

  10. Problem with a reiterative count is taking the cake that you’ve thrown out, and then giving it to someone to eat again. Also, after someone’s already eaten it you have to give it to others.

    Much better to just discard 1/7 of the cake to begin with! 🙂

  11. There will be the same number of women in the new Senate as the old – 30 (39.5%).

    Average term of service for a senator will go from ~8 years to ~6.3.

    The Senate will lose around 120 years of experience.

  12. I expect we’ll see the PUP “team” go a similar way to the One Nation “team” after the 1998 election. 11 elected to begin with, 0 carried the ONP badge at the end of the term.

    What unifying force brought the PUP team together?

  13. If there were enough irregularities in the count to call the result into suspicion could the Court of Disputed returns order a fresh Senate election for WA?

  14. truth seeker
    [I’m happy with getting it wrong by 14 votes ]

    But that’s 50% out!! 😛

    If that margin is correct, could there be a recount, or does the AEC’s tweet make it final?

  15. Well, I hope for Pratt’s sake it’s final, because she thinks it is:
    [Senator Louise Pratt ‏@Louise_Pratt
    Humbled and pleased to be able to continue making a difference as a WA Senator and part of the Labor team. Lot’s of work to do! ]

  16. Maybe we should call Clive? He wanted a fresh election in WA due to the influence of incorrect Eastern States 2PP predictions (i.e. for him) available prior to the close of the WA ballot. That sounds like as sensible a reason as any.

  17. I’ve added the following update to the post, based on the preference distribution which has been made available to me:

    [The result was decided by a difference of just 14 votes, that being the margin at the key point of the count between Shooters & Fishers (23,515) and Australian Christians (23,501). Going on the ABC computer projection, the margin at that point in the count was 23,395 for Shooters & Fishers against 22,967 for Australian Christians. So below-the-line votes cost van Burgel 534 vote and Bow 120 – not quite enough to make the difference. Had Shooters & Fishers dropped out, their preferences would have gone to the Australian Sports Party, sustaining them at a point in the count where they would otherwise have been excluded. There would then have come a later point in the count where the Palmer United Party would have been excluded on account of being behind the Sports Party, and their preferences would have flowed to the Greens giving Ludlam the seat at the expense of Pratt.]

  18. SgtThursday @ 245

    Tis is a common mistake and misrepresentation that people fall into when considering Droop. The 50% is a tipping point and not a quota, As William pointed out it is in theory possible to conclude the count to 100%. Wit the Droop quota this is not the case. The Wasted quota is denied representation, as was the case in the 2012 City of Melbourne Team Doyle election. IN that case 8% of the electorate had not say in who represented them. Team Doyle had 38% support and elected 3 candidates., The Greens had 14% and elected 2 candidates. If the quota was pure proportional (x/y) Doyle;s surplus would have been redistributed and elected an independent community community candidate as opposed to the Greens being over represented with two. The should have only secured 1

  19. The WA result is a good result Looking forward to the publication of its BTL preference data file. Do we know what happened with the LDP-PUP junction?

    One would think that the main players will be demanding access to the BTL preference data file if it goes to recount. If need be they should seek an injunction against the AEC to ensure that the data is provided.

    Happy to assist in this task and can point to various experts who can testify the importance to provide scrutineers with this crucial data.

  20. Western Australia Senate is definitely one that will be determined by the flaws in the calculation of the surplus transfer value and segmentation. It just demonstrates that the AEC and the parliament should address these issues as a matter of urgency.

    The surplus transfer MUST be be based on the weighted value of the vote not the number of ballot papers. Segmentation should be abolished and a single transaction reiterative count adopted. And we need to consider do we want to retain the Droop Quota?

    All these flaws were designed to facilitate a manual count and with the use of computer technology can not longer be justified.


  21. William what about the BTL preference data file?

    The AEC DOP count sheet really lacks detailed information which in such a close election is crucial

    Time to injunct them I think.

  22. d@w – any re-count will concentrate on checking the totals of above the line votes by polling place. These votes were tallied in the office of each Returning Officer and were largely counted without any interest from scrutineers. These votes represent 96.2% of ballot papers and checking errors on these manual tallies will be the most important part of any re-count if undertaken. These toals would then have to be audited against the totals entered into the computer system.

    Below the line votes were all data entered once and then re-entered by a different operator for verification. In total these represent just 3.8% of ballot papers. It is highly unlikely that the below the line data files will be of much interest to a re-count unless an argument is put that there is a software error in either the program that checks for BTL formality or the programs undertakiing the distribution of preferences.

    Unless there is an error with computer software, the major area that needs to be addressed in a re-count is the manual part of the count concerning ATL votes.

  23. Still a puzzle as to why they have included two copies in the one Zip file. If someone want a copy in a smaller file size let me know.

  24. The sudden triumph of the micro-parties has created consternation across the land and predictable calls to “reform” the system. Some are thoughtful but most are knee-jerk, designed to advantage one particular party and/or deeply undemocratic.

    To eliminate from the count and distribute the preferences of “the lead candidate of a senate group or an ungrouped independent” unless he or she “secures in excess of 4 per cent of the first vote” (Now it’s urgent: why we need to simplify voting for the Senate) would be a disgrace. This proposal, which is being pushed ad nauseam at the moment because the “wrong” people got elected to the Senate, is profoundly undemocratic. That it is so is on plain display in the wording for the number two and number three candidates of the major parties and of the Greens who do not secure the 4 per cent are not to be eliminated.

    Stephen Conroy of the ALP (with 780 votes or 0.03 per cent), Julian McGauran of the National Party (with 1190 or 0.04 per cent) and Judith Troeth of the Liberal Party (with 829 or 0.03 per cent) were all elected in 2004 (Psephos’s Election Archive for the Commonwealth of Australia), yet no one objected to those three getting into the Senate on preferences. Bridget McKenzie of the National Party was elected in 2010 from an initial 1045 votes (or 0.03 per cent of the vote). No one objected to that. The fact that their preferences came from within their own group is irrelevant. The single transferable vote is designed to elect individuals, as required by Section 7 of the Constitution, which states senators must be “directly” elected. Under STV, all votes are equal. The vote of someone who supports a minor candidate is not of less value than the vote of someone who supports a major candidate. That voter is entitled to have his or her vote remain in the count until the end. To exclude it or discount it because it went to a minor party candidate is the antithesis of democracy.

    It is also an infringement of the democratic rights of other voters to have candidates excluded because they fall below a certain threshold as those other voters may prefer them to others allowed to remain in the race and yet would be denied the right to have their true preferences counted. Once candidates with quotas are elected and their surplus votes distributed, the process is a contest to reach a quota of 14.3 per cent (just as in single-member seats the contest is to reach 50 per cent plus one). The candidates are ranked from the highest to lowest in votes and the lowest is eliminated because, obviously, the lowest has the least support. The votes of the lowest then move to their next choice. This may mean that the second-lowest jumps ahead of the third-lowest, which is telling us that the originally third-lowest actually has more support than the originally second-lowest. To eliminate the second-lowest because of an arbitrary threshold would thus distort the result.

    The party system has been grafted onto the STV system. Years ago, Tasmanians understood the full power of the Senate voting system. In 1949, they elected the No. 4 Liberal candidate before the No. 1 Liberal candidate and the No. 4 Labor candidate before the No. 3 Labor candidate.

    If anyone suggested a threshold for single-member seats, it would be immediately obvious that it was undemocratic. The suggested Senate threshold for a six-member seat is 4 per cent. The equivalent threshold for a single-member seat would be 24 per cent. No one has yet suggested that we deny the right of a candidate with 24 per cent of the vote to stay in the race for a House of Representatives seat. If you say no one could ever win from such a low vote, I point you to the seat of McMillan, in which the winning candidate scored an initial 16.6 per cent in 1972.

    There would be nothing undemocratic even for a person to win a seat from an initial zero per cent. No one wins a Senate seat until they reach a quota – 14.3 per cent for everyone. The vote they start on is immaterial, as is whether or not they get their preferences from their own party or another one. The micro-parties got around 20 per cent of the vote in every state, so it is perfectly democratic that they end up with a senator from every state. If they had scored 5 per cent in total, no number of preference swaps would have seen any of them elected.

    There is no problem whatsoever with a candidate’s election to the Senate on a tiny initial vote as no one gets there until they reach the quota, 14.3 per cent. The issue is not the size of the initial vote. The issue is the difficulty of voting below the line. I believe it is the duty of every citizen to vote and consequently to vote al the preferences there can be. However, this has become unrealistic with Senate ballot papers with 97 and 110 candidates (and 150 (?) in 2016).

    The solution is to make preferences below the line optional after a certain number. Some suggest this should be the number of candidates to be elected, but that number is too low. The earlier votes become “exhausted” in a the single transferable vote system of proportional representation, the less proportional the system becomes and later seats are filled by people who do not even reach a quota. In the Victorian Legislative Council, where that rule applies, parties typically run five candidates (the number of seats to be filled) even though they have no hope of winning five. This locks up below-the-line votes inside the party and means the above-the-line group voting ticket has more influence on the result.

    It is possible to be faced with two or three or four unpalatable candidates on a ballot paper; yet, the voter is required to vote for one of them (it’s a furphy that turning up at the polling place is all that is legally compulsory, though the secret ballot makes strict enforcement of the law impossible). It follows that every stage of the count, there is a set number of candidates remaining to choose from. The compulsion to choose at each stage is no different from the compulsion to choose in the first place. The only reason I have moved away from insisting on this principle is the huge number of candidates and the practical reality that the overwhelming number of voters will not make any effort to distinguish between them all. I suggest a relatively high number of preferences to decrease the number that exhaust and thus the likelihood of the last or the last two candidates being elected on less than a quota.

    Some have suggested that the number should be six in a normal half-Senate election and 12 in a double dissolution election. I thought it better to have the same number in both cases. Then I thought the Senate would be increased at some stage to 14 senators per state, so let us prepare now. Then I thought preferences should not be locked up inside one party, so we should have a least 15. The reason they should not be locked up is that they would end up playing no role in the result. Then I thought that 15 really would leave almost all locked up in one party in a double dissolution election, so I suggested 20. If it were too low, you would still see the micro-party candidates elected, not from low initial votes as now, but from low final votes because preferences would be exhausted early and the winner of the final position would become truly random. I would seek the states to amend their laws to require the same 20 preferences in elections for both Houses and for local councils.

    I have no problem with above-the-line votes remaining, as this has reduced the informal vote and people are free to choose it (because they trust that their party has done the best deal) or not choose it, but I would consider restricting the number of preferences a group ticket can have to 20. That would be an incentive not to create phoney parties that last one election and are heard no more because parties would not be able to control the preferences all the way to 97. However, it may also lead to too many preferences exhausting and thus make the final result unrepresentative.

    I do not support preferences above the line, which is the NSW Legislative Council system and which is favoured by the Greens, as it simply entrenches parties rather than individuals and stops you voting ‘1’ for the number 2 candidate of a party, when you ought to have the right to do so. The Greens like it for one reason: they well remember that the Victorian branch of the ALP used preferences to put Family First into the Senate in 2004 and the DLP into the Victorian Legislative Council in 2006, and they think they will get preferences from labor voters who think the Greens are Labor’s friends.

    We have grafted a party list system on top of it with the above-the-line system, but we cannot constitutionally remove the right to elect individuals. It would be confusing to have two sets of options involving optional preferences (which would have different sets of numbers in any case), so I support the system that is most in line with the integrity of the system, which is to have preferences below the line. It would also have different effects in that one set of six preferences above the line would result in preferences to 30 candidates below the line while another set of six preferences above the line would result in preferences below the line to only 12 candidates.

    Having preferences below the line allows a voter to go 1, 2, 3 for one party, 4, 5, 6 for the next, and so on, but it also allows the voter to go 2,3,1 for the first party and so on. Having preferences below the line incorporates preferences above the line, but vice versa does not apply. I also think this is where we will end up because both major parties will not want to favour the Greens, and Labor has surely learnt by now that the Greens are not its friends.

    The knee-jerk reaction to the Senate having people elected to it whom other people do not like is to reduce the voters’ democratic rights, via thresholds or above-the-line preferences. There are several steps that can be taken outside of the voting system itself to reduce the number of candidates without reducing voters’ democratic rights.

    Groups run more candidates than can ever be elected. I suggest a sliding scale of nomination fees: $2,000 for one candidate in a half-Senate election (i.e., an independent not in a group and without the right to issue a group voting ticket), $10,000 for a group of two candidates, $200,000 for the third candidate in a group (meaning only the Coalition and the ALP would run one as they the only two parties ever to get a third candidate elected), $300,000 for the fourth candidate in the group and $500,000 for the fifth and sixth candidates each. This move would stop parties padding their ticket with people they know will never be elected. This move alone would have cut 13 candidates from the Victorian ballot without removing a single party.

    Parties should have to be registered for at least two years to run as a group. This move would cut out phoney parties that appear for one election and then disappear. I hesitate to say how many groups this would have cut out this year. I stress this is not to stop individuals from standing. It is to stop pretend parties.

    These steps combined with optional preferences below the line would make it easier for voters to have a meaningful say.

    However, the debate is not really about giving voters a say. It is about a political and media elite wanting to ensure that outsiders do not get elected.

  25. Thanks for that post Chris, which contains some quite good points. I’d personally like to see some reform to the system to ensure transparency of where people’s votes go. However, I’d urge caution on any change – changes could have a huge impact on the country’s future. I also don’t trust a deal doctored up by the two major parties not to attempt to rig the system in their favour.

  26. The decsion will be made by the ALP and LNP

    Any proposal of a representation threshold will be based on 4% Group vote. Not a candidate.

    The problem is not so much the possibility for micro parties to snowball and be elected the problem is there ability to influence the outcome of the election by gaming the preferential system

    An increase in the amount of deposit would also be required ti minimise the advantage of micro parties running.

    As it stand a micro party for the sum of $2000 for two candidates can run. Multiply that by 5 at the cost of $10,000 you have the possibility of polling a combined vote of 3% as long as the micro parties cross preference each other before the Major/Minor parties.

    Not a bad investment when you rely on your group name to sell your message. If you do not get elected you can influence the last seat.

    If we increase the cost of the deposit then the cost of influencing the outcome is much greater

    $5,000 per candidate, refunds only available one candidate per 4% of the overall vote. get 8% you get two refunds. 12% three. This would reduce the Greens running six candidates when at they could only elect one or outside chance two

    The micro party can only be elected if all other micro parties preference each other. In 2013 this was made possible because all micro groups (The Christian Groups in particular) subscribed to the gaming of the vote.

    I can not see ATL group voting being abolished., I expect that a form of optional preferential voting will be introduced but this may come with a saving provision based on the registered ticket of the Primar6y candidates Group

    The reforms will be fast tracked in case there is a double dissolution.

  27. If anything the system is rigged in favour of minor parties. Major parties need to restore equal opportunity without being handicapped.

    Segmentation favours minor parties. The rule that a group has to preference in the same order their candidates further disadvantages major parties.

    A reiterative counting system where the count is reset and restarted in each exclusion restores the balance and corrects distribution order.

  28. Western Australia

    Below the line voting has not effected the outcome of initial analysis.

    The surplus value calculation and segmentation all play a role in the outcome of the election results

    In fact I have a 40 vote difference in the only crucial pivot point in the count

    The Greens fortunes is dependent on Sorts Party surviving the count pushing out PUP

  29. Under the current system, 1/7 of the cake is thrown out before the count.

    Under an alternative reiterative system, cake that was thrown out is brought back again and fed to different people. Further, cake that was already fed to some is re-fed to other people several times.

  30. The ALP would improve its position in a double dissolution. The Greens would go backwards and some of the minor parties would lose out also. I need to apply BTL votes to the other states and using the 2013 vote elect 12 candidates

  31. The Greens have been gaming the preferential system from day one and now they are the loser from it the complain. They should have addressed the distortions in the way the vote is counted. They missed out in QLD 2007 and did nothing to address the way the vote is counted.

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