Senate photo finishes

Crunching the numbers on a new Senate that looks no less problematic for the government than the one that preceded it.

Now that things are winding down, some overdue consideration to the Senate, with a table at the bottom outlining where I perceive things to stand.

New South Wales

If preferences don’t change the order, the result will be Coalition 5, Labor 4 and one each for the Greens, One Nation and the Liberal Democrats. However, the Liberal Democrats just barely have their nose ahead of the Christian Democrats, which could potentially be reversed on preferences. Analysis of below-the-line votes from 2013 shows strong performances on preferences for both Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats, but the Liberal Democrats would have the edge if nearly half of Labor’s voters follow the how-to-vote card, as they traditionally do for the lower house. Labor directed a sixth preference to the Liberal Democrats, and would have about 0.1 quotas distributed as preferences upon the exclusion of their fifth candidate. So it would seem that David Leyonhjelm is well placed to win the twelfth spot.

Victoria

The Coalition and Labor have enough full quotas to elect four each, the Greens have one, and Derryn Hinch is close enough that he’ll clearly win the tenth seat. That leaves the following contending for the last two seats: Greens #2 (0.39 quotas), Coalition #5 (0.34 quotas) and One Nation (0.23 quotas). Nothing in the past record of preference behaviour says One Nation will close the gap, so I think we can call this Coalition 5, Labor 4, Greens 2, Hinch 1.

Queensland

On full quotas, the Coalition elects four, Labor elect three and One Nation elects Pauline Hanson, while the Greens are close enough to a quota that Larissa Waters is assured of re-election. The front-runners for the other three seats are Coalition #5 (0.57 quotas), Labor #4 (0.49 quotas) and Liberal Democrats (0.35 quotas), unless Family First (0.25 quotas), Nick Xenophon Team (0.25 quotas) or the second One Nation candidate (0.17 quotas) achieve something extraordinary on preferences.

Western Australia

There are full quotas for five Liberal, three Labor and one Greens, with Labor #4 (0.70 quotas) and One Nation (0.50 quotas) assured of the next two spots. That leaves the last seat as a contest between the Nationals (0.34 quotas) and Greens #2 (0.33 quotas). The Nationals were outperformed by the Greens on below-the-line preferences in 2013, and the Liberals have very little to bequeath them in the way of a surplus, so the Greens seem the more likely winner at this stage unless their primary vote weakens significantly in late counting.

South Australia

A fairly clean result here, with four Liberal, three Labor and two NXT are elected off the bat, and NXT #3, Greens #1 and Labor #4 to follow shortly after.

Tasmania

The most fascinating contest is in Tasmania, given the very large number of major party voters who have gone below-the-line to give their votes to fifth-placed Liberal Richard Colbeck and sixth-placed Labor candidate Lisa Singh, who had been shafted by party powerbrokers in contentious preselection decisions. Ticket votes should be enough to elect the top four candidates on both Labor and Liberal tickets, with lead Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson and Jacqui Lambie also assured of seats, leaving two up for grabs at the end. Singh’s share of the Labor vote means that she rather than fifth-placed John Short will survive to the later stages of the count, and potentially emerge with Labor’s fifth seat. Colbeck’s vote may less consequential, since he holds fifth position on the ticket in any case, and would be just as well placed if most of his supporters had voted Liberal above the line. However, there is a potential scenario in which both Colbeck’s personal vote allows him to remain in the count concurrently with the fourth Liberal candidate long enough so that either McKim or Singh drops out ahead of them both, so that a fifth Liberal is elected at the expense of a fifth Labor or a second Greens. Such a result would deliver the Liberals a perverse benefit from giving Colbeck a low spot on the ticket and ensuring he received a vote base of his own.

2016-07-12-senate-counting

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.

96 comments on “Senate photo finishes”

  1. Kevin Bonham

    All the calculations of the Singh vote that people have posted since my last post are incorrect.

    Happy to be wrong since you have Singh doing much better than I calculated. I take your points about booths and categories, but is it right that yesterday’s update shows her doing better than before, or are the latest figures in line with your previous best estimates? (On the AEC’s bare figures her share of the Labor vote improved.)

  2. Nick Xenophon’s 3rd SA senate candidate Skye Kakoschke-Moore in an interview on ABC radio has claimed the NXT could get 4 senators from SA.
    I am struggling to see how this is even a slim possibility. Am I wrong?

  3. Skye Kakoschke-Moore needs a reality check. Absolutley no chance. 4th NXT will be eliminated very early on after the quota candidates are elected along with most other candidates with next to zero votes.

  4. It is a very, very, very, (very, very) remote chance assuming the majority of micro-party preferences go to the NXT, giving not only a 3rd candidate, but with enough leftover to tip the 4th candidate above Labor’s 4th, and assuming the majority of Labor and Liberal voters preference NXT.

  5. I’d scratch that as a near impossible chance though, because this candidate will have to beat the 4th Labor candidate, and Greens.

  6. You’ve got to say that it is at least theoretically possible… if a large number of the as-yet unapportioned NXT votes turned out to be BTL votes for NXT#4, and that number exceeded the ticket votes of the smallest micro, and that pretty much every micro up the chain sent preferences to NXT#4, to the point where NXT#4 shot past the others on large fractional quotas, then theoretically it’s possible.
    It’s also theoretically possible for me to open the window, stick out my arm, fire a pistol into the air in a random direction, the bullet of which hits a passing hot air balloon, the basket of which plummets to earth landing in the back of an open truck driven by the NXT#4 candidate.
    Theoretically.

  7. Indeed, so now I’m even more puzzled where Skye Kakoschke-Moore would be getting that information, or perhaps just being overly optimistic.

  8. There’s been another update in Tas. Singh now has 6,954 votes, but the AEC table says there’s only 16,049 unapportioned Labor votes remaining. I don’t have a clue what it all means for her chances.

  9. The Nick Xenophon Team contains exactly one Nick Xenophon and thirty-odd folks with nothing in common other than the desire to get into parliament using Nick Xenophon’s name. That is why I wouldn’t go anywhere near them with any single one of my preferences, no matter how highly I might rate NX himself as a Senator.

  10. Skye Kakoschke-Moore said the exact same thing about a week ago. It was about as silly then with NXT having about 2.8 quotas.

  11. Apparently today’s update is further good news for Singh, regardless of what the AEC website says or how to decipher it. Kevin’s Friday update says in booth voting she’s averaging 6.14% statewide, or 0.8 quota, but whether that holds up depends on booths yet to be included.

  12. Re Tasmania, the remaining Unapportioned votes appear to be almost all if not all BTLs (at least in Denison and Braddon they were all BTLs except for possibly one booth). Furthermore there are some post-count categories in some divisions for which there are still no BTL categories included at all, or if they are included they may be underrepresented.

  13. You’re all being a bit hard on poor Skye Kakoschke-Moore. She’s clearly looking at the same figures that told Richard Di Natale that the Greens were in the hunt for a second seat in Queensland on election night.

    (I have never understood the impulse to talk up your potential wins AFTER the election. The Greens, NXT and One Nation have all been in on it this election; the Liberals tend to do it as well; Labor’s characteristic pessimism tends to exclude them from this particular stupidity. Why set yourself up for embarrassment?)

  14. OK, Richard’s call on election night was indeed premature and whoever passed him the figures might have neglected to tell him that only a fraction of a % of Qld Senate papers had been counted at the time.
    However… it’s now 13 days after the election and the count is not so very far from complete, an extra quota (or three quarters of one) are not likely to materialise for NXT.

  15. Colbeck is slipping in Tasmania mainly because early Braddon booths were unrepresentative. I’m projecting that he could slip further and might even get cut before One Nation, which improves their chances from very slim to slim if so.

  16. According to AEC as of this time, Lisa Singh has received about 11,048 of the votes (0.4375 quotas), compared to 83,329 going to the group (3.2995 quotas). There is still 10,970 votes still unapportioned.

  17. Will, Kevin, Antony, anyone who’s been inside the Fuji-Xerox bunkers: I notice that the number of ‘unapportioned’ Senate votes is now only about 10-15% of the total, even in NSW. At what stage do they get ‘apportioned’ between the ATLs and BTLs – is it based on some further eyeballing of them before they go into the input pile for the scanning/OCRing process, or does it only happen as the scanned votes are checked by the manual operators and scrut’eers (in which case it would seem the data input is about 85-90% done)? And if not the latter answer, is there a page somewhere on which the AEC reports the progress of the data input process? If not, there should be – but, failing that, if anyone knows please update us. (I had a friendly Senate candidate lined up to appoint me as a scrutineer so I could see it all for myself but the Fuji-X centre in Brisbane is so far south it’s really not in Brisbane, so I canned the idea. )

  18. Oh, and Will, now that we have the benefit of Kevin’s observations from inside the bunker, that a lot of minor party votes preference one major or another and that otherwise preferences are generally ‘splattered’, how much credence should we (do you?) give to your original predictions about 3 Hansonites, and a tussle between LDP and CDP in NSW? Still reasonable, or is it all now totally up in the air?

  19. Re #71 (I posted the same on my site) I understand a vote can’t go up as BTL for a specific candidate before all votes from that booth have been completely through the manual checking process by data operators on the screens. In the case of Tasmania this was happening with some booths from a very early stage – I was watching particular booths go through the process and by the end of the day or the next day those booths had appeared in the VTR in full.

    What I am not at all clear on is the process by which a given booth appears in the system, either temporarily or permanently, with a breakdown into ATL and Unapportioned, but without the Unapportioned being sorted into BTLs for specific candidates. Initially several booths were appearing in this form and then being removed, but at the end all the outstanding booths returned permanently.

  20. tpof @ #72 Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 11:45 am

    William and Kevin
    This article in the SMH says that Lisa Singh is “all but certain” to get re-elected to the Senate.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tasmanians-teach-alp-factions-a-lesson-by-installing-lisa-singh-back-in-the-senate-20160718-gq8m4l.html
    Given the propensity for the MSM to get almost everything technical wrong, can one of you comment on the accuracy of the article please?

    In general alarm bells should go off any time one sees Heath Aston commenting on electoral matters and referencing either some “expert” you might not have heard of or insider gossip.

    But in this case I find it hard to disagree. The fact that Short would be knocked out has not been news since about July 4, and it’s very difficult to argue a case now for Singh losing.

  21. So, Kevin, does mean that all the votes now listed as “unapportioned” are BTLs that haven’t yet been scanned and checked, or are there still unconsistencies in the way it’s being handled? I note that in your little State the “unapp’d” are now less than the total apportioned BTLs in each party group, while in huge (population-wise) NSW there are lots of “unappd’s” and only a few apportioned to particular candidates. Can we draw any conclusions from this as to how long the process is going to take? Do we have any direct info from the AEC itself about how many % of the way through the process they are, or are they so focussed on just getting it done that they’re forgetting to communicate?

  22. Highlight of this election. Lisa Singh up, Louise Pratt returns and Penny Wong (in 2013) asserting themselves against the machine and winning. And Anne Aly against News Ltd. More power to them.

  23. raaraa @ #78 Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Hope to see more of this BTL votes putting some candidates ahead of those prescribed by parties in the future.

    I think we will, especially if parties are seen to be unfairly demoting a popular candidate. The voters for Lisa Singh have shown the way to the rest of the country, and voters will be more familiar with the new rules in future elections and be more prepared to do it anyway.

  24. jack a randa @ #76 Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    So, Kevin, does mean that all the votes now listed as “unapportioned” are BTLs that haven’t yet been scanned and checked, or are there still unconsistencies in the way it’s being handled? I note that in your little State the “unapp’d” are now less than the total apportioned BTLs in each party group, while in huge (population-wise) NSW there are lots of “unappd’s” and only a few apportioned to particular candidates. Can we draw any conclusions from this as to how long the process is going to take? Do we have any direct info from the AEC itself about how many % of the way through the process they are, or are they so focussed on just getting it done that they’re forgetting to communicate?

    As far as I can tell all the Unapportioned are now unallocated BTLs, but not all the unallocated BTLs are Unapportioned! Non-ordinary BTLs aren’t necessarily shown as unapportioned, they just appear in the count fully fledged, though they often lag the non-ordinary ATLs in doing so. For Denison and Franklin the postal BTLs have just become representative compared to the booth ones but in the other electorates they are lagging.

    NSW is obviously very slow and I am receiving quite a few emails with detailed analysis of how slow they are and whether they can actually finish in time. I haven’t been following this closely enough to comment usefully. One of these referred to a Work In Progress figure of 70% complete but I don’t know the source of that yet. It seems only about 16% of votes in NSW are fully through the system at this stage – but that could be an underestimate if a similar issue applies to what was mentioned in Tas (ie the booth is not uploaded to candidate BTLs until every vote from it is processed).

    I notice there’s really not that much to see in BTLs in states outside Tasmania. At least I can’t see them causing any interesting issues, unless maybe they alter the order of election here or there.

  25. Will it be a problem if the Senate count isn’t fully conclusive when the writs are returned?

    What will the procedure be if it comes really close to the first time Senate sits?

  26. Labor’s failed Tasmanian Senate candidate John Short can’t hide his resentment towards Lisa Singh.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-19/tasmanian-alp-senate-candidate-john-short-urges-unity/7642984

    The Tasmanian union leader who looks likely to lose the race for a Senate seat because of Lisa Singh’s vote below-the-line campaign says his party’s Senate team needs to work together.

    Senator Singh ran a prominent campaign to encourage Tasmanians to vote for her below the line, which they appear to have done in their thousands.

    Speaking to ABC News, Mr Short – who is the Tasmanian Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union – pointed out it was not consistent with Labor policy.
    “Our role as a team is to get as many people up as we can,” he said.

    Well, it looks as though they got five up. Does he think all six would have been elected if not for Singh’s BTL campaign?

  27. raaraa @ #81 Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Will it be a problem if the Senate count isn’t fully conclusive when the writs are returned?
    What will the procedure be if it comes really close to the first time Senate sits?

    There was a fair bit of talk about Ministers potentially having to be temporarily replaced if not re-elected by the return of the writs (Aug 8) but I haven’t foll0wed the fine details of that.

  28. triton @ #83 Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Labor’s failed Tasmanian Senate candidate John Short can’t hide his resentment towards Lisa Singh.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-19/tasmanian-alp-senate-candidate-john-short-urges-unity/7642984

    The Tasmanian union leader who looks likely to lose the race for a Senate seat because of Lisa Singh’s vote below-the-line campaign says his party’s Senate team needs to work together.

    Senator Singh ran a prominent campaign to encourage Tasmanians to vote for her below the line, which they appear to have done in their thousands.
    Speaking to ABC News, Mr Short – who is the Tasmanian Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union – pointed out it was not consistent with Labor policy.
    “Our role as a team is to get as many people up as we can,” he said.

    Well, it looks as though they got five up. Does he think all six would have been elected if not for Singh’s BTL campaign?

    He can cry us all a river. The fact is that a lot of the Singh vote is at the expense of the Greens and without Singh’s BTL campaign Labor would have very little if any chance of winning five even with their very strong preference flow.

    I do feel for him to a degree though as Labor’s incorrect handling of the Hare-Clark quota for their original preselection ballot robbed him of any chance of knocking off Polley for second position, which would have put Polley in the position he is now in if it happened. (Whether it would have happened or not I don’t know as I’ve never seen the full preference distribution for that ballot.)

    It would have been good to have a new face in Labor’s Senate team instead of some of the invisible ones who will be returned. The worst thing about it all is that Labor looks like not only getting away with their dodgy preselection but benefiting from it by winning five.

  29. Kevin Bonham

    The fact is that a lot of the Singh vote is at the expense of the Greens and without Singh’s BTL campaign Labor would have very little if any chance of winning five even with their very strong preference flow.

    I hope Singh and the rest of the party are aware of this, in case anyone else is thinking of criticizing her or punishing her when they should be thanking her. But I wonder how they’ll view her position on the ticket next time. Even without the influence of factional power plays they might decide they are better off keeping her in a vulnerable position.

  30. Or, perhaps to add a completely different angle to the story: LOTS OF PEOPLE VOTED FOR SINGH. Is that not what democracy is?

  31. Raaraa, as far as I understand, when the writs are returned they’re endorsed with the names of the winning candidates – it’s the official counting people’s formal notification to the official head of government of who the new MPs are. So the writs can’t be returned until the count is complete. If the count hasn’t been completed by the due date they’ll have to ask for an extension.

  32. Kevin @2:59pm:

    “There was a fair bit of talk about Ministers potentially having to be temporarily replaced if not re-elected by the return of the writs (Aug 8) but I haven’t foll0wed the fine details of that.”

    I shouldn’t imagine that to be a problem, at least for those confident of re-election – the Constitution does provide a grace period for any Minister to become a Member of Parliament, after all. For those whose seats are on the line, it would be a little different, but even then they’d remain as Ministers at least until it was clear if they’d win re-election or not.

    Aug 9 is the deadline provided for by the Constitution (three months from the dissolution of Parliament, on May 9), and by then all the seats should have been given out.

  33. Re: Lisa Singh.
    I’m heartened to see that my fellow ALP members have made their wishes clear via the ballot box. Sen. Singh is an excellent member of the Senate, and that blowhard apparatchik John Short should take the lesson with grace.

  34. matt @ #91 Friday, July 22, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Kevin @2:59pm:
    “There was a fair bit of talk about Ministers potentially having to be temporarily replaced if not re-elected by the return of the writs (Aug 8) but I haven’t foll0wed the fine details of that.”
    I shouldn’t imagine that to be a problem, at least for those confident of re-election – the Constitution does provide a grace period for any Minister to become a Member of Parliament, after all. For those whose seats are on the line, it would be a little different, but even then they’d remain as Ministers at least until it was clear if they’d win re-election or not.
    Aug 9 is the deadline provided for by the Constitution (three months from the dissolution of Parliament, on May 9), and by then all the seats should have been given out.

    It appears that the issue is that the grace period does actually expire at that time so they would cease to be Ministers; see http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2016/03/senate-electoral-reform-double-dissolutions-and-section-64-of-the-constitution.html but substitute August 9.

  35. Greens and Nats still have roughly the same distance between them (0.35 of a quota for the Greens compared to 0.32 for the Nats). Still pretty tight.

  36. Re #93 it’s also been suggested to me that they might be just formally reappointed every 3 months until the count concludes so it may just be a non-issue.

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