Late counting: Legislative Assembly

A post for ongoing coverage and discussion of doubtful seats for the Legislative Assembly.

Tuesday, December 9

8.20pm. The VEC confirms Greens victory in Prahran by 261 votes.

8pm. In keeping with my unblemished record of getting everything wrong this week, reports are emerging from all over the place that the Greens are in fact receiving around 88% of preferences, with some sources saying they have in fact won the seat by 128 votes. Labor is calling for a recount • as Kevin Bonham notes, if such a recount overturned Labor’s 38-vote deficit against the Greens at the second-last count, it would likewise overturn their 25-vote deficit against the Liberals in the final count.

5.45pm. Courtesy of Eleanor Bloom on Twitter, we learn that the preference distribution in Prahran has seen Labor drop out at the second last exclusion with 9953 votes to Greens candidate Sam Hibbins’ 9991. Had it been otherwise, the notional two-party count tells us that Labor’s Neil Pharoah would have fallen short by just 25 votes – 18,580 to 18,555. It now stands to be established whether the preferences of Pharoah and all other candidates enable Hibbins to overcome Liberal member Clem Newton-Browne. He will need 85.7%, and while he will doubtless get a very large majority of them, this seems too much.

17,097 – Clem Newton Brown (LIB)
9,991 – Sam Hibbins (GRN)
9,953 – Neil Pharoah (ALP)

Hibbins needs 85.7% of Labor preferences

Monday, December 8

The anticipated Prahran preference distribution today has instead been put off for tomorrow as a few outstanding postals and provisionals are finalised. The last skerricks in Frankston are being cleaned up, amounting to 24 votes today, and with Labor 334 votes in the lead it is clear they have won here. So Prahran is the only question mark. That makes the overall score 47 seats for Labor, 38 for the Coalition, one each for Greens and independents, and one in doubt. I’ve changed the time stamp on this post to put it at the top of the page, in anticipation of potential excitement from Prahran tomorrow.

Close of Friday night.

Short version: Labor has bolted down Bentleigh, Carrum and probably Frankston besides, making for a clean sweep of the sandbelt four, and Prahran remains as fascinating as ever, with the issue to be determined on Monday.

Prahran. This remains the big excitement of the late count, with the full preference distribution to determine the issue on Monday and the outcome between Liberal, Labor and the Greens anyone’s guess. The Liberal-versus-Labor count appeared to be slipping away from Labor until today’s addition of 1076 absents, 529 provisionals and 223 pre-polls favoured them heavily, despite 226 postals going the other way. This count down the Liberal lead from 273 to just 41, but given only a handful of postals remain, that’s still likely to be enough unless an anomaly emerges during the preference distribution.

That result will be a moot point of the preference distribution leaves the Greens ahead of Labor, which will require them to close a 426-vote gap as the other candidates are excluded in turn. The strongest prospect by far for the Greens is the 827 votes for Animal Justice, who directed their preferences straight to the Greens and would presumably have had most of their supporters do so anyway regardless of what the card had said. However, the bar will be raised by the 278 votes of Family First, who invariably direct preferences to the Liberals but had a surprisingly high leakage rate to Labor in the area’s electorates at the 2013 federal election of around 40%. There are also three independents with 564 votes between them, none of whom registered how-to-vote cards, but will probably give the Greens a slight boost by virtue of expressing anti-major party sentiment.

If the Greens can indeed close the gap, it will come down to the known unknown of Labor’s preference split between the Greens and the Liberals, and whether Labor voters favoured the Greens more heavily than vice-versa.

Frankston. Provisionals have given Labor a handy fillip by breaking 294-202 in their favour, which together with small handfuls of other votes pushes their lead out from 255 to 336 and makes victory look extremely likely.

Bentleigh. Labor has claimed victory here as the last stages of the count continue to go its way, today’s progress consisting of 152 absents and 82 postals which have added 30 votes to the Labor lead, now at 387.

Carrum. The VEC finally got stuck in here today, confirming Labor’s victory with 8941 pre-polls, 2801 postals and 1983 absents paring back Labor’s lead from 1029 to 464, but still leaving more than enough intact to withstand whatever provisionals and the few outstanding postals might have in store.

Close of Thursday night.

Antony Green notes that there has been a spike in below-the-line voting in the upper house from around 4% to around 8%, so clearly we shouldn’t be taking those projections for granted. I haven’t updated my dedicated upper house post since Sunday, but will hopefully find time to do so over the weekend. On to the business at hand:

Prahran. The two-party count continues moving in the Liberals’ favour, with 2586 breaking 1320-1125 and 217 pre-polls going 106-100, which increases the Liberal lead from 72 to 273 and doesn’t leave too much outstanding. The issue of whether this is indeed the relevant result, or if the Greens will finish second ahead of Labor, will not be known until the final preference count is conducted.

Frankston. The first batch of 1760 absent votes were good news for Labor, breaking 852-732 their way, although this was blunted a little by 528 postals breaking 259-230 to Liberal. The net impact is a 91-vote increase in Labor’s lead to 255.

Bentleigh. A further 1446 absents and 312 pre-polls have broken 838-800 to Labor, increasing the lead to 357 and making a Liberal victory now look very unlikely.

Close of Wednesday night.

Prahran. This one is going right down to the wire, with 1550 absent votes (perhaps about three quarters of them) combined with re-checking and a further 2000 pre-polls and postals turning a narrow Labor lead of 14 into a Liberal one of 72. It’s still too close to call, but the trend of the count is favouring the Liberals – postals heavily so, absents very slightly. Outstanding postals will no doubt continue to favour the Liberals, so Labor’s best shot is a batch of absents coming in from a strong area for them.

I have throughout proceedings been failing to give due credence to how close the Greens are to finishing second, as the reported view in the Liberal and Labor camps had been that they would fail to do so. But with Labor’s lead on the primary vote is just 4928 to 4831, and the Greens sure to get a good flow of preferences from the 432 Animal Justice votes, I’m starting to wonder. This raises the question of whether the Greens would do better on Labor preferences than vice-versa, on which the historical record isn’t much guide, as you can see from discussion in this post’s comments thread. Given that the prospect of a Greens victory is still not being widely discussed, my guess is that scrutineers have concluded that enough Labor votes are leaking to the Liberals that they will fall short. Whatever the truth, Prahran clearly remains a very interesting contest.

Frankston. After the Liberals moved ahead at one point to a 60-vote lead, things have swung back to Labor somewhere along the line, who are up 734 on the count as recorded on Monday night while the Liberals are up only 510, so that Labor now has a lead of 164. The recent activity has included checking and the first sign of absent votes, of which 381 out of what should be about 2000 have been added to the count, breaking evenly between Labor and Liberal.

Melbourne. The Greens lead now stands at 849 after rechecking, some more postals and pre-polls and the first 748 absents, which is the last I’ll have to say on the subject.

Bentleigh. Rechecking and a further 1441 pre-polls and 404 postals have increased Labor’s lead from 298 to 319. The main outstanding item is around 2000 absent votes, which are very unlikely to turn things around.

Carrum. The VEC aren’t making a priority of this, the only action since election night being rechecking. This hasn’t extended to the published two-party result, which still puts Labor’s lead at 1029.

Close of Tuesday night.

Today’s count was dedicated to rechecking, causing much consternation among election watchers as the VEC chose to remove the existing numbers from its website and media feed and start from scratch. Among other things, this means the projections you can currently find on the ABC site are based on incomplete counts. The one noteworthy news today was Labor’s concession of defeat in Melbourne, notwithstanding that counting of a further 681 pre-polls caused the Greens lead to narrow by 37 votes to 644.

Close of Monday night.

Note the italicised updates that have been added for Bentleigh and Frankston in the entry below.

Monday 6.30pm.

Bentleigh. The VEC has counted 5565 early votes out of 6482 issued, which have broken 2715-2652 in favour of Liberal and narrowed the Labor lead from 610 to 547. Only about half of 4004 postals received have been counted, the first batch of which narrowed the lead by about 345. But there should also be at least 2000 absent votes, which slightly favoured Labor in 2010. Verdict: Labor ahead. END OF NIGHT UPDATE: Most of the outstanding postals have been counted – an extra 1795, pushing the count to 3893 received out of 4004, remembering that a few more should trickle in over the coming days. This batch is slightly less bad for Labor than the first, breaking 1022-773 and narrowing the lead by 249 to 298.

Frankston. A good day of counting for the Liberals here, who have pared the Labor lead back from 581 to 192. The counting has included 6357 out of 8067 pre-polls, and another 1532 postals to boost the total counted to 3391 out of 4257 received. It’s the postals that have been making the difference, collectively breaking about 1925-1465 to Liberal, while the pre-polls have gone about 3230-3125 in their favour. There should also be about 2000 absents, which favoured Labor in 2010, although the boundary changes may cause them to behave differently this time. Verdict: too close to call.

Melbourne. The counting of most of the postal votes late on election night (1933 out of 2424 received) took a big bite out of the Greens lead, breaking about 1190-745 in Labor’s favour. But the Greens are doing better on pre-polls, of which 4409 out of 8777 have been counted today, breaking 2224-2185 to Labor and reducing the lead from 545 to 506. Furthermore, Melbourne gets a lot of absent votes, which in 2010 broke over 54-46 the Greens’ way. Verdict: likely Greens win.

Prahran. Labor has recovered the lead with the addition of 6780 pre-polls out of 9718, breaking 3645-3135 their way and turning a 397-vote deficit into a lead of 113. There have also been 505 postals added to the primary but not the two-party count, which will presumably send things back the Liberals’ way a little (UPDATE: They have broken 302-203 to Liberal, and cut Labor’s lead to 14). But only a handful of postals will remain after this, and it’s these that put the Liberals back in the hunt. The issue should be decided by maybe 3500 to 4000 absents, which were slightly above average for Labor in 2010. Verdict: Labor ahead.

Shepparton. There has been talk of a tightening here, but that may have been before the addition of 12,066 pre-polls, which is more or less all of them, behaved very much like the election day votes. It’s been a hugely different story on postals, 711 of which have gone 46.3% to the Nationals and 16.9% to Sheed, compared with 35.1% and 34.2% on polling day. But postals in Shepparton are few, and that should be nearly all of them, leaving Sheed with a lead of 2221 (20137-17916). Verdict: independent win.

South Barwon. Pre-polls have bolted this down, opening the Liberal lead from 809 to 2302. Verdict: Liberal win.

Close of Sunday night.

The second batch of postals in Prahran behaved almost identically to the first, breaking 539-320 to Liberal and boosting with the lead from 178 to 397. History suggests the Liberals will need some sort of a buffer from postals to survive a reversal when pre-polls and absents are added. The rest of today’s activity involved sorting of absents and pre-polls in preparation for counting. Counting tomorrow will focus on Shepparton, Bentleigh, Frankston, Morwell and Ripon, together with Prahran.

Sunday 3pm.

The VEC has started counting 1000 postals in Prahran, which is the only counting that will be conducted today.

Close of Saturday night.

Listed below are seven seats which I plan to track in late counting. The ABC computer isn’t quite calling Ripon for Liberal or Carrum for Labor, but I’m going to. That leaves us with 45 seats for Labor, 29 for the Liberals, seven for the Nationals, one independent, and six doubtful. Adding in the leading parties in the doubtful seats, the result is Labor 47, Liberal 31, Nationals eight, Greens one, independents one. Note that Melbourne, where the Greens were claiming victory earlier this evening, is on the watch list, so I don’t regard it as established yet that they have indeed broken their lower house drought. Certainly it seems established now that they have fallen short in Richmond and Brunswick.

The outstanding vote totals assume there will be 62% more pre-polls than last time, based on the statewide total (the VEC does have electorate-level totals of votes cast, which I’m presently trying to track down); 6% more postals, based on the increase in statewide enrolment; and an increased or decreased number of absent votes based on the number of ordinary votes that were cast in the electorate. There are problems here in that the baseline figures are from different electoral boundaries, but it will have to do. One way or another, there are a lot more outstanding votes than we’re used to.

Bentleigh. Labor leads by 610 with 23,343 ordinary and 1920 postal votes counted. Estimated 9,922 votes outstanding, with the Liberals needing 53.1%.

Frankston. Labor leads by 581 with 20,655 ordinary and 1859 postal votes counted. Estimated 11,618 votes outstanding, of which the Liberals need 52.5%.

Melbourne. Greens lead by 545 with 20,010 ordinary 1933 postal votes counted. Estimated 15,497 votes outstanding, of which Labor needs 51.8%.

Morwell. Nationals lead by 818 with 23,341 ordinary and 779 postal votes counted. Estimated 16,908 votes outstanding, of which Labor needs 52.2%.

Prahran. Liberals lead by 178 with 18,958 ordinary and 1872 postal votes counted. Estimated 16,794 votes outstanding, of which Labor needs 50.5%.

South Barwon. Liberals lead by 809 with 21,016 ordinary and 1939 postal votes counted. Estimated 15,414 votes outstanding, of which Labor needs 52.6%.

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.

419 comments on “Late counting: Legislative Assembly”

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  1. About Prahran Family First voters. Seeing there aren’t more of them, I wonder if most of those voters are aware of Family First’s policies.

    It could be literally a pro-family person thinking that they’re tired of all this studio apartments sprouting all over Prahran and want a more pro-family development in place. Pure speculation though.

  2. 397

    I think that the Greens do badly in Albert park because there are not enough of the most Green voting demographics and the Liberals do well enough not to be overtaken by the Greens but not well enough to get the ALP into a position where the Greens can pass them.

  3. 398

    At the last redistribution the initial plan was to bring Prahran and South Yarra into Melbourne Ports and put Caulfield into Higgins. Danby and the ALP, understandably, put up resistance in the responses and got Caulfield kept in Higgins. We shall just have to see what the redistribution does for Melbourne Ports.

  4. 401

    There are some studio and single bedroom flats in the area, mainly in Prahran and Windsor (because of all the singles and couples there for the nightlife), but much of the flat construction in the seat of Prahran is 2 and 3 bedroom flats. In the inner-city an inner suburbs younger family home buyers are mainly buying flats not, because they are cheaper and attitudes have changed towards flats.

  5. Some in the Labor movement will think the Greens’ success a wonderful development, for the following reason. The Libs have smugly (and maybe correctly) thought that the Greens are Labor’s problem – splitting the vote, wagging the dog and so on.

    Now it’s very clear they are a problem for the Libs. How will they deal with it? They can’t out-green the Greens. That, at the risk of shocking some contributors here, could have been Labor’s strategic mistake all along, in particular allowing little and too often no wriggle room.

    The interesting question is how soft the Greens’ vote is. At its intellectual core and vanguard, it seems Frankfurtian and elitist. But its voters are predominantly bien pensant bourgeois, very concerned about what their peers think of them. A contradiction somewhere there, comrades?

    How well would the Greens go against some hard, nasty attack ads — Neville Wran’s famous blowtorch on the belly? That would put a big dose of bitters in the Campari. The Greens are just asking for someone to take the p*** out of them. Try ’50 Years of Green Humour’ for a start.

  6. [Some in the Labor movement will think the Greens’ success a wonderful development, for the following reason. The Libs have smugly (and maybe correctly) thought that the Greens are Labor’s problem – splitting the vote, wagging the dog and so on.

    Now it’s very clear they are a problem for the Libs. How will they deal with it?]

    By urging the ALP to put the GRNs last for one thing – which is what they did in the VIC election.

    The ALP would be wise not to accept advice from the LNP.

  7. About Greens taking seats off the Libs. I believe the Ballieau / Napthine position of putting Greens last and convincing Labor to do the same reflects that of them doing the same to extremist parties like Rise Up Australia.

    Of course, the ironic point here is that in some situations they actually preference RUA ahead of the Greens.

  8. I’ve had a go at modelling the 2PP now that the votes are hopefully just about all counted at least roughly to 2PP level. I get a swing of 3.2% to Labor on average across the 82 classic seats, so I think it will come out somewhere around 51.6%. (For the non-classics I think the Lib to ALP swing might be slightly muted in the ALP-Green seats but on the other hand it should be large in Shepparton.)

  9. 2PP swings were 12.7 to Labor in Shepparton, 6 in Melbourne, 7.4 away in Mildura. Melbourne stronger than I thought, suspect Brunswick, Richmond and Northcote might be too. Might make 51.7 yet.

    (I am averaging across seats; when we have all of them can add up the primaries and do it properly.)

  10. Yes, not sure what’s going on there. ALP might have just run dead.

    Brunswick 4.2% to Labor Northcote 3.9%. Still waiting for Richmond. Based on averages the 2PP could still make 51.7 but not sure what impact (if any) enrolment and turnout variations between seats have on that.

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