WA Senate election minus five days

Some updates on the campaign trail for Saturday’s Western Australian Senate election, to go with the publication of the Poll Bludger’s election guide.

A Poll Bludger guide to Western Australia’s Senate election is open for business and accessible from the sidebar, providing a review of electoral history, the candidates and preference tickets. To mark the occasion, here’s an assembly of news nuggets as the campaign enters the home stretch:

• According to today’s West Australian, advertising monitoring firm Ebiquity estimates the Palmer United Party has spent “10 times more than Labor and 20 times more than the Liberals on television advertisements”. The substance of the advertising is that Palmer United will reduce the flow of Western Australian money to the eastern states, which may have proved counter-productive to its endeavours in the recent Tasmanian election, at which a similarly intensive advertising blitz failed to yield any dividends. Former Fremantle Dockers player Des Headland, who holds the unwinnable number two position on the party’s ticket, features prominently in the advertising; the number one candidate, Zhenya “Dio” Wang, does not.

• Labor appears to have picked up the tempo of its television advertising, matching Palmer United for air time during last night’s news bulletins, or exceeding it if additional anti-government advertising from the MUA and CFMEU is taken into account. Featuring prominently are Alannah MacTiernan, who not coincidentally was promoted to the position of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for regional development, infrastructure and Western Australia as the campaign began, and Colin Barnett, whose example in delivering “too many cuts” is allegedly set to be followed by Tony Abbott with respect to “Medicare, education, even penalty rates”.

• The Liberal campaign has so far been far more low key so far as television advertising is concerned. Its one advertisement seeks to take advantage of the confusion of the September result, warning of the “crazy deals” which sent votes “all over the place”, and throwing in for good measure the loss of the ballot papers (leaving unstated any argument as to why this might cause one to vote Liberal in particular). The party has also taken advantage of suggestions Help End Marijuana Prohibition might preference-harvest its way to victory, with a radio advertisement castigating the Palmer United Party in particular for directing preferences its way. The West Australian joined in the counter-offensive against Palmer United on Saturday, its front page headline reading “SOLD A PUP” atop a report that rounded on his promise to deliver Western Australia more GST revenue.

• The focus on Help End Marijuana Prohibition drew more publicity than one might have anticipated to the HEMP campaign launch, fuelled by media concern about the local credentials of its candidates, James Moylan and his daughter, Tayla Moylan. Both live in Lismore, and when pressed by journalists the former offered that the Premier of Western Australia might be called “Barrett”.

• The Monte Carlo simulations of Original Truth Seeker suggests Palmer United will be unlikely to win a seat if it only retains its 5.0% vote share from September, and will need to approach 7% to be a better-than-even chance. None of the scenarios played out suggests HEMP is as much of a chance as some of the commentary suggests.

• If you’re a voter in Western Australia, please take the short amount of time required to fill out the University of Western Australia’s Senate election survey, so that you may do your bit for electoral behaviour research and perhaps win “a voucher for $500 on iTunes, Apple Store or Google Play”.

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.

101 comments on “WA Senate election minus five days”

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  1. [146
    Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm | PERMALINK
    This post from Sprocket about the senate is worth a repost –

    Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    The senate numbers from 1 July 2014 as they now sit are:

    LNP 30
    ALP 23
    GRN 10
    TOT 70

    with 6 to come from WA. If ALP/GRN can claw back a 3-3 result, it will mean

    LNP 33
    ALP 25
    GRN 11
    TOT 76

    Which leaves ALP/GRN needing 2 of the OTHERs to block, and LNP needing 6 of the OTHERs to pass anything.

    This post from an earlier thread is important to highlight what is at stake here, and for the next 3 years.

    And yes, FFS is the correct acronym for Bob Day’s Family FirSt Party

  2. Numbers are obviously wrong; Centre has already told us that Greens will get less than 9% of the vote. It’s not entirely clear whether, through rounding, less than 9% could include anything below 9.4% but whatever…

    IMO Liberal advertisements much more compelling than PUP or Labor; anecdotal evidence is that my family/friends are repeating the “minor party votes caused a mess in the last election….” type arguments that are the cornerstone of Liberal advertising.

  3. hahaha


    How much more clearer do you want it?

    Let me go back and get the post number just for you from the prior thread.

  4. I fear my fellow West Aussies are to blind to see the farce this Abbott Govt is.

    How can so many to so blind?

    Or is it a case none are so blind as those who refuse to see?

  5. Actually AA you can help us answer your question.
    What is the media like over the other side of the Nullarbor?
    Are the public informed, or misinformed by the newspaper, the TV channels, radio, what’s local ABC, tv and radio, like?

  6. Most likely result: 3 Lib, 2 ALP, 1 Green
    Next most likely: 3 Lib, 3 ALP
    Next most likely: 2 Lib, 1 PUP, 2 ALP, 1 Green
    Next most likely: 2 Lib, 1 PUP, 3 ALP

  7. @ Psephos 11

    Agreed on the first and third results there. As for the second and fourth ones – no way. Not a chance.

  8. The only real question here, IMO, is whether Palmer can outpoll the Liberal surplus after two quotas.

    If he does, he’ll benefit from the flow of preferences over Labor and the Greens and very likely pick up a seat.
    If he can’t, the Liberals will benefit from his preferences over Labor and the Greens and will retain their third seat.

  9. [The only real question here, IMO, is whether Palmer can outpoll the Liberal surplus after two quotas.]

    I see the Liberals getting close to a 3rd quota in their own right, and their campaign which is aimed at trying to get people to first preference the Liberals rather than a minor Party is probably going to ensure this.

  10. 100 divided by seven equals 14.28571428571429% (according to my computer`s calculator). Multiply by three and the result is 42.85714285714296%.

  11. [Labor polls 42.9%, wins three seats.]
    Phew, that’s optimistic.
    Newspoll quarterly has ALP in WA at:
    election 29
    Oct-Dec 36
    Feb-Mar 29
    Even the best of them plus moe just squeezes into 43% range.

    Are you that optimistic, and if so , based on what?

  12. Labor barely cracked 27 percent last time. Even in the Ruddslide they couldn’t reach 37. What earthshatter will push them near 42 this time?

  13. Going on the most likely result of Lib 3, Lab 2 and Grn 1, the tories will still need 6 of the 7 others to pass their leglislation.

    Surely a big ask on the more controversial stuff?

    Looks like a very hard road for abbott & co who are not known for negotiating. Imtimidation is more their forte.

    They had also had better have plenty of pork on offer.

    Even then needing 6 out of the 7 won’t be easy.

  14. I may have missed something in another thread but is there any precedent for assessing just how the voters are likely to view a Senate re-run of this nature? Has there ever been a Senate re-run election?

    Are the voters likely to see, unusually for Senate voting, see this as an opportunity to give the incumbent government a bit of a kick? I’m fascinated to know what is likely to be in voters’ minds (other than plain annoyance at having to vote again I suppose).

    How high is the level of awareness in the general population at how much is at stake in this election?

  15. Thanks Tom

    So I wonder how the average voter is going to approach the task. Hopefully he/she will see it much as voters often regard HoR by-elections – as a rare between-general-election opportunity to give the incumbent a boot in the pants.

  16. 28

    Well I think that it will get more voter attention than a normal HoR by-election (i.e. not on a balance of power seat). It has actual balance of power influence, far more publicity and boundaries that re much harder to be ignorant of (a large proportion of the population are ignorant of the electorate, a very small portion are ignorant of their state).

  17. dave @25,

    Well we haven’t dealt with this issue yet but I can see a whole long series of debates on PB over the topic of which Senator will support what.

    The Lib Dems are basically the Tea Party so the only thing they’ll object to is anything that involves more tax.

    Family First had a written statement that supported the NBN. But how will the behave when offered a deal?

    Is Xenophon as intelligent as he makes out to be? Will he act to stop the Libs doing stupid things with regards to the NBN?

    Does anyone know how the DLP guy will behave?

    Didn’t the Motoring Enthusiasts guy sell his ass to PUP?

    All I can say is it will be a hard ask but there may well be two Senators to block the most egregious acts.

    But who will stand in defense of the Clean Energy Investment body?

    Will Palmer take exception to the treatment of refugees?


  18. dave @ 25
    [Imtimidation is more their forte.]

    A double dissolution is going to be pretty intimidating to all the one-termers on the cross benches.

    Given the results in September, I don’t know why you’re all so certain that Lib/Lab/Grn/PUP are the only possibilities.

  19. Yeah, Labor’s vote won’t have a 4 in front of it. Not even the most optimistic reading of the polling would suggest that.

    They’ll be lucky to get 36%.

  20. If Labor and the Greens can squeeze out the minors and get 2 + 1 elected that will be a good result. If the Libs drop a seat to PUP that would be even better. No chance Labor will get 3.

  21. The Abbott government has only been in office for half a year. That isn’t time for the average voter to get angry with them. And no, a few thousand progressives marching in the streets are _not_ the average voter.

  22. cud_chewer, dave:
    Palmer has said he is against privatisaion (which is a big headache for libs).
    If they try and porkbarrel their legislation through their ‘economic emergency’ message they have been spinning us goes out the window.
    I believe DLP is conservative and economically center right.

    I suspect the Liberal democrates will always be in disagreement with other independents on social policy, so the Libs wont be able to touch that.

    Unfortunatly they are all right of center economically so they might get some extremist legisaltion through there. But never overestimate their ability to negotiate, it will be a big deal to get anything through the senate, they will be seen as a ‘do nothing’ government and it wont be the ALP/GRN to blame.

  23. 2% Christians
    4% Left of centre Micros
    5% Nats
    6% PUP
    6% Fishing/Outdoor/Motoring etc Micros
    9% Greens
    28% Labor
    40% Lib
    Plays out as 3 Lib, 2 Lab with the last place going to either PUP or a right micro party.

  24. Whig:

    [The Abbott government has only been in office for half a year. That isn’t time for the average voter to get angry with them. And no, a few thousand progressives marching in the streets are _not_ the average voter.]

    I concur, on both scores. There is a general unease about Abbott, but not outright anger – yet.

    Although well-meaning, the protests struck me as very unfocused – the marchers were railing against everything and nothing at the same time. And I say that as a card-carrying ALP member.

  25. It has probably been mentioned but yesterday i was polled with a dodgy ALP State / Senate voting intention phone poll. I had a lot of trouble hearing the start of the next question while pushing the button on my phone so I may have given entirely incorrect answers on a couple of questions.

    It was all in all quite annoying.

  26. Of the expected “Others” this is a stab at how they might vote –

    PUP @ 2 – All over the place? Support repeal of carbon tax but with conditions the tories unable to meet (ie refund of carbon tax payments already made).

    On other issues he has made noises of not likely to vote Yes.

    Said if he didn’t get extra staff etc, abbott gets nothing.

    MOT – Who knows what pork he wants ?

    Mr X – A former Lib, but would still expect him to want stuff abbott will not want a bar of, eg gambling reform as a price for support. Also may be hard to budge of various issues as well.

    DLP – Conservative but not likely to agree to everything abbott wants. Has said he will not support various things.

    LDP – Comment above saying they are close to a Tea Party mindset. If so, maybe they want even more radical changes then abbott ?

    FFS – Agree with abbott on most stuff but will want something for it?

    Getting 6 out of the 7 on every bill the tories want to pass won’t be easy and I cannot see the threat of a DD being effective over time particularly if abbott struggles in the polls as he does the nasty stuff he always intended and burns up more political capital.

    In a normal DD minor parties generally improve their position at the expense of the majors so thats not necessarily the answer either and historically DD’s have seen government worsen their positions.

    The other thing is the greens. They have said they will support the gold plated PPL and should be expected to deal themselves into everything else possible. They won’t necessarily vote against abbott on everything. They might be abbott’s best hope on some matters but he will in turn have to compromise – something he has said no to.

    All in all the tories look like being frustrated to hell for the next two and a half years.

  27. A further ‘complication’ in securing PUP’s senate votes.

    [ Government agencies are aiming to force Clive Palmer’s Queenland Nickel out of business due to a $36 million carbon tax bill, The Australian reported.

    The original carbon tax bill was $6.2 million in the 2013 financial year, but interest and penalties applied since have lifted the amount to $35.8 million.

    Mr Palmer has launched a High Court case to have the carbon tax declared unconstitutional.

    Queensland Nickel is the only company, of the 370 the carbon tax was applied to, that has not paid.

    The Clean Energy Regulator is exploring a plan to sue for the cash, which would capture Queensland Nickel and its directors, including Mr Palmer.

    Mr Palmer has dismissed concerns about a conflict of interest between his role as federal MP for the Queensland seat of Fairfax and a private business owner who refuses to pay the carbon tax.

    Companies that do not pay their carbon tax bill on finish with a debt of 130 per cent of the original, with 20 per cent interest added annually.

    Even if the Abbott government is able to repeal the carbon tax, Queenland Nickel’s bill will continue to increase unless the repeal is applied retrospectively as Mr Palmer is trying to achieve. ]


  28. Psephos

    “I was under the impression that the LDP are social libertarians, not Tea Party theocrats.”

    Indeed they are. That said, unlike the Tea Party they can’t use divine inspiration as an excuse for their whack economic and workplace relations policies. Unless one views Ayn Rand as divine that is.

    I find myself fervently hoping the HEMP Party gets in. It would just make my week.

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