Final counting latest: Herbert recount and Tasmanian Senate result

Labor ends a Herbert recount process 37 votes ahead with one more check of preference votes to go, and the Greens sneak over the line for a second Senate seat in Tasmania.

Saturday, July 30

The preference distribution process in Higgins has resulted in tiny changes, never more than one vote in either direction per polling booth, that have collectively added three votes for Labor and taken three from the Liberal National Party, increasing the Labor margin from 35 to 41. The last word from the AEC was that this would be finalised tomorrow.

In other late counting news, One Nation candidate Lynette Keehn has overtaken Labor to reach the final count in the regional Queensland seat of Maranoa. This is a feat no party candidate other than Hanson herself was able to achieve at the party’s high-water mark election of 1998. However, the Nationals-aligned Liberal National Party candidate, David Littleproud, has 49.2% of the primary vote and will easily win the seat, which is vacated by the retirement of Bruce Scott. Labor edged One Nation on the primary vote by 18.3% to 17.8%, but One Nation pulled ahead after distribution of preferences. The Greens achieved in a similar feat in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, pulling ahead of Labor after trailing 14.8% to 12.2% on the primary vote, with Tony Abbott on 51.6% and independent James Mathison on 11.4%. A two-party count has now been completed in the seat, giving Abbott a winning margin over the Greens candidate of 11.6%.

In seats where non-traditional two-party outcomes were correctly anticipated by the AEC, we are now at the stage where Labor-versus-Coalition preference counts are being conducted, which will ultimately allow a national two-party preferred result to be determined. Such counts have been completed for Denison (a 15.3% margin for over Liberal) and Kennedy (a 6.9% margin for the Liberal National Party), and are in progress in the three Labor-versus-Greens seats in Victoria, Melbourne, Batman and Wills (barely started in the first case, nearly finished for the second and third).

Both factors have caused an illusory surge for Labor in the published national two-party preferred tally published by the AEC. Warringah and Maranoa are excluded from this tally for the time being, but we know the results favoured the Coalition by 52,923 to 33,743 in Warringah and 60,771 to 29,228 in Maranoa, and that these numbers will ultimately be added back into the count. Furthermore, the seats awaiting to be counted on a Coalition-versus-Labor basis are almost all conservative (Barker, Grey, Higgins, Indi, Mayo, Murray and New England), the sole exception being Grayndler. When all votes are added to the count, the Coalition should have a final two-party preferred total approaching 50.5%.

Thursday, July 28

Latest:

• The early stages of the preference distribution in Herbert, which is expected to be completed over the weekend, has resulted in Labor losing a vote at the Kelso booth and the LNP losing one at Riverside, leaving the Labor lead unchanged at 35 votes.

• I’m hearing that the button the Senate count in Western Australia will be pressed on Monday.

• Psephologists are having a field day with the publication of complete preferences for all Senate ballot papers from Tasmania, my own contribution being a paywalled Crikey article observing patterns of voter behaviour and their implications for yet-to-be-determined counts in other states. Money quote:

Particularly striking is the failure of voters to have followed how-to-vote cards, even in the case of the major parties who had the base of volunteers needed to disseminate them … fewer than one-in-ten Liberal voters chose to be guided by the party’s card — which, remarkably, recommended a sixth preference for Labor — while the share of Labor voters that did so barely even registered. It should not be presumed, however, that voters reluctant to toe the party line instead gave expression to finely calibrated rational choices. Ballot paper ordering had a substantial influence on preferences, leading to a kind of “soft” donkey voting, in which those who find their favoured party near the front end of the ballot paper tended to remain there when allocating subsequent preferences.

Part of my homework for the article included the development of this spreadsheet (note there are separate worksheets for the total result, above-the-line votes only and below-the-line votes only) which identify the frequency with which voters for each party (in rows) included each other party (in columns) in their top six. Kevin Bonham has put precise figures to the meagre rate of how-to-vote card adherence for the various parties, and David Barry has a nifty tool for exploring preference flows with greater precision than my own spreadsheet.

Wednesday, July 27: Tasmanian Senate result

The Tasmanian count ended with Richard Colbeck dropping out, and the final result being determined in favour of Nick McKim over One Nation by 141 votes. Result: 1.Abetz (Lib), 2.Urquhart (ALP), 3.Whish-Wilson (GRN), 4.Lambie (JLN), 5.Parry (Lib), 6.Polley (ALP) 7.Duniam (Lib), 8.Brown (ALP), 9.Bushby (Lib), 10.Singh (ALP), 11.Bilyk (ALP), 12.McKim (GRN).

The full distribution of preferences can be viewed here. Above-the-line votes alone were enough to elect the top three Labor (Anne Urquhart, Helen Polley, Carol Brown) and Liberal (Eric Abetz, Stephen Parry, Jonathan Duniam) candidates, and the lead candidates for the Greens (Peter Whish-Wilson) and the Jacqui Lambie Network (Jacqui Lambie) had a quota when their first preference below-the-line votes were added to the above-the-line total. That left four seats outstanding, which were not determined until the final stages of the count, which are summarised thus:

2016-07-27-tasmanian-senate-count

Richard Colbeck’s below-the-line support wasn’t quite enough to keep him ahead of One Nation’s Kate McCulloch after preferences. Colbeck began the count with 13474 votes to McCulloch’s 8641, but McCulloch was the direct beneficiary of above-the-line preferences to One Nation, whereas above-the-line preferences to the Liberals were soaked up by David Bushby, who held the place above Colbeck on the Liberal ticket. By the key point in the count, McCulloch’s vote had swollen to 18136, whereas Colbeck had to rely entirely on below-the-line preferences to reach 16918, 1218 astern of McCulloch. Colbeck’s exclusion then unlocked a flood of preferences that were easily enough to elect Bushby, but also to just push Lisa Singh over the line with a gain of 2171 – evidently she garnered substantial support even from right-of-centre below-the-line voters.

Then came the distribution of the fairly substantial Liberal surplus, from which Labor did remarkably well, gaining 4412 votes compared with 2242 for One Nation and 1269 for the Greens, with 2816 exhausting. Presumably the Liberals’ remarkable decision to recommend a sixth preference to Labor had a fair bit to do with this. However, this was not decisive, and purely influenced the size of Catryna Bilyk’s margin over Nick McKim and Kate McCulloch in taking the eleventh seat (notably, fourth-placed Bilyk was elected later in the count than sixth-placed Singh – fifth-placed John Short lost out altogether). That left the twelfth seat as a race between McKim and McCulloch that began with McKim leading by 43 votes, ahead of the distribution of Labor’s 593-vote surplus. Those votes went 234 to McKim and 136 to McCulloch with 221 exhausting, and McKim carried the day by a margin of 141.

Tuesday, July 26

The recount of the primary vote and the indicative two-party count has now been completed with the latter showing Labor 37 votes ahead, after adjustments to nine polling booths cut Labor back by 34 votes while reducing the LNP by one vote; the pre-poll count added four for the LNP and reduced Labor by three; and two was added to Labor’s total on postals. Now the count will proceed to a full distribution of preferences, beginning with the last placed Palmer United, who were pretty bold fielding a candidate given the local circumstances (he polled 316 votes, or 0.36% of the total). In theory, this should end by confirming the result of the indicative count, but the process of reviewing preference votes will surely turn up further minor anomalies. Should Labor’s win be confirmed, the Coalition is gearing up for a legal challenge based on suggestions up to 85 defence personnel stationed in the electorate were deprived of a vote because insufficient voting facilities were provided during an exercise being conducted South Australia, and 39 Townsville Hospital patients were denied a vote when they attempted to do so during the final hour of what should have been the polling period on election day. Michael Maley, a former Australian Electoral Commission official, has noted in comments that Section 367 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act would set a high bar on the defence personnel issue especially. The hospital issue could prove more problematic, depending on what the circumstances prove to have been.

Equally excitingly, it appears we are now finally to get to the business end of Senate counting, with Kevin Bonham hearing informally that the button will be pressed on the Tasmanian result tomorrow afternoon – although the AEC is being a little more circumspect publicly. The intricacies of the count have been explored in headache-inducing detail on Kevin’s blog – to cut a long story short, there look sure to be five Labor, four Liberal, one Greens and Jacqui Lambie, with the last seat up for grabs. He deems, without huge confidence, the order of likelihood for the final seat to be a second Green, a fifth Liberal, and One Nation. It appears almost certain that below-the-line votes will overturn the order of Labor’s ticket to deliver a seat to sixth-placed Lisa Singh at the expense of fifth-placed John Short. Richard Colbeck, the fifth-placed Liberal candidate, has also benefited from a backlash against his party’s ticket order, but not to the extent of overtaking fourth-placed David Bushby. However, it’s on the strength of his own votes that Colbeck will linger to the final stages of the count and leave the Liberals in the hunt for a fifth seat. The question is whether he finishes ahead of the One Nation candidate, in which case he could potentially end up ahead of the second Green, Nick McKim, if a generally right-of-centre pool of micro-parties preferences favour him with sufficient force – although it would be a tall order. If Colbeck drops out, it comes down to McKim versus One Nation, to be determined mostly by Liberal preferences, which would need to flow massively to One Nation for McKim to be defeated.

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.

237 comments on “Final counting latest: Herbert recount and Tasmanian Senate result”

  1. Valerie Kay, in Batman the 2PP count is lagging behind the primary (89.68% to 92.22%), as it is in most seats – I guess maybe because the margin is only 1,853 there is a mathematical possibility of the Greens overtaking Labor? (I stress the word “mathematical” there – there is of course no actual chance of that happening.)

    In any case, the schedule of declarations has Batman, Farrer, Fadden, Lilley, Cowper, Forrest, Ryan and Melbourne Ports scheduled for Monday; Durack and Pearce for Tuesday; and Parramatta for Wednesday. That leaves Blair, Boothby, Forrest, Grayndler, Grey, Herbert, Indi, Kingston, Leichhardt, Makin, Maranoa, Melbourne, O’Connor, Port Adelaide, Sturt, Sydney, Wakefield and Wright.

  2. @KB: It’s a load of BS, of course, but I think that Abetz’s argument is that had the BTL campaign for Colbeck not been run, and instead resources put into helping the Liberal vote at large, the Liberal brand wouldn’t have taken the hit that it has, leading to MORE total votes for Liberal candidates. That is, more voters would have voted ATL Liberal who did *not* vote for the Liberals in the Senate.

    It’s extremely dubious, but that’s how I interpreted his argument.

  3. Kevin Bonham
    Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/eric-abetz-and-2016-tasmanian-liberal.html

    Eric Abetz And The 2016 Tasmanian Liberal Result
    While psephologists predicted this election rather well Australia-wide, we did quite badly for Tasmania. I don’t think any of us forecast that the Liberals would completely wipe out here. It was on the cards they could, but it seemed more likely (even at the end) that they’d lose just one or two Reps seats. Some analysts expected Bass to fall (because of its history of dumping incumbents and because of economic and health issues), but nothing like as heavily as it did.
    ———–
    Thank you for the excellent analysis of the Liberal wipe out and Abetz influence in Tasmania. I am no psephologist, just an arm chair hack with an interest, but I did predict a Liberal wipe out in Tasmania on PB before the election, albeit based on unsophisticated grounds which principally were —

    – A bounce back to Labor from the anti Gillard/Rudd rejection vote in 2013;

    – A similar bounce back after the on-the nose State Labor Government had been dealt their punishment;

    – The Liberal State Government being in long enough to be recognised as no solution to increasing UB in the top of Tasmania {see post Caterpilla job losses etc}; the Bass power cable fiasco, the draining dams, suggesting incompetence and excuses’

    – The lucky meshing of ‘mediscare’ on a Federal level with State health being a basket case particularly up north {see 13 0f 16 specialists quitting Lonny Hospital in one hit etc} – I think this was the big one, and

    – The GetUp campaign against Andrew Nickolic in Bass.

    Finally, convinced that Bass would go, the voting history of Bass, Braddon and Lyons since the 1970s told me two things. 1. You don’t win or lose Bass without Braddon, they have historically stuck together consistently and 2. Their close cousin has followed the same voting pattern as Bass and Braddon except on two occasions when Lyons supported Labor instead of switching to the Libs.

    Conclusion _ All 3 seats would go or 3 seats would stay with the Libs – given the weight of indicators that Bass would go, I argued the probability that they would all go in my Three Amigo’s post before the election.

    No doubt Abetz is widely despised down here- we don’t like arrogant, do-as-I-say preachers of any political persuasion any more than we do Green extremist zealots- what we hate more is people blaming someone else when things go wrong- Abetz will never get that reality.
    —-

  4. joe @ #208 Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    @KB: It’s a load of BS, of course, but I think that Abetz’s argument is that had the BTL campaign for Colbeck not been run, and instead resources put into helping the Liberal vote at large, the Liberal brand wouldn’t have taken the hit that it has, leading to MORE total votes for Liberal candidates. That is, more voters would have voted ATL Liberal who did *not* vote for the Liberals in the Senate.
    It’s extremely dubious, but that’s how I interpreted his argument.

    This is how I interpret it (to a degree) as well but I do address that, mainly by noting that their bad Senate result was compatible with their bad Reps result, and that the same argument could be applied to Labor who did very well in both.

  5. Kirwan in and no change@ 41. There are another 30 booths to go at this rate the count will not be finished before mid-week

  6. Looks like they have updated Kirwan twice in the last 16 hours; sounds like some obsessive scrutineering is happening

  7. Interesting that there was only 24 minutes between the last 2 booths despite Northern Beaches having over 2ooo votes – maybe they are speeding up or perhaps they don’t update the site immediately

  8. Now lets see if they decide to take the results to the CDT. My money is still on yes even though it has a real danger of ‘backfiring’. Bet they have been running some electorate specific polling too.

  9. Turnbull is screwed.

    Any policy that any Liberal lunatics don’t like they will just threaten to cross the floor or abstain.

  10. Was it 38 people who are alleged not to have been able to vote in the hospital between 5 and 6pm? I was hoping the margin would stay higher than that figure. Even though we know it’s incredibly likely they all would have voted LNP, I don’t think the law takes probabilities into account in cases like this.

  11. My understanding is that if the CDR orders a by-election, the seat would become vacant at that point. That would give the Coalition a couple of months with an absolute majority in the House (75/149), even if O’Toole is subsequently re-elected. Perhaps another small consideration.

  12. The claim re the hospital ward involves 39 votes, the army exercise one involves up to 85, and numbers involved in the absent-ballots shortage in Kennedy are unknown.

    It’s interesting territory if it is a by-election because we’d have a government asking voters to throw out an Opposition MP who had only been there for a few months. Seems to run counter to the idea of a fair go.

  13. Kevin Bonham @ #225 Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    The claim re the hospital ward involves 39 votes, the army exercise one involves up to 85, and numbers involved in the absent-ballots shortage in Kennedy are unknown.
    It’s interesting territory if it is a by-election because we’d have a government asking voters to throw out an Opposition MP who had only been there for a few months. Seems to run counter to the idea of a fair go.

    Kevin, would that mean that O’Toole would have a personal vote (AKA a soft ‘sophomore surge’) in this by-election, or is the timeline too short?

  14. If there is a by-election, will the rolls be opened again so that we can send Rod Hagen up north to recruit (sorry, I mean “register”) Aboriginal voters?

  15. Anyway, what is this rubbish about a nursing home not being able to vote betwen 5pm and 6pm on election day? Could they have voted earlier?

    All these AFAIK pre poll early. Eg I helped my near-blind mother vote the week before?

  16. millennial @ #226 Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Kevin Bonham @ #225 Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    The claim re the hospital ward involves 39 votes, the army exercise one involves up to 85, and numbers involved in the absent-ballots shortage in Kennedy are unknown.
    It’s interesting territory if it is a by-election because we’d have a government asking voters to throw out an Opposition MP who had only been there for a few months. Seems to run counter to the idea of a fair go.

    Kevin, would that mean that O’Toole would have a personal vote (AKA a soft ‘sophomore surge’) in this by-election, or is the timeline too short?

    Probably not much of one. It would depend on how much of an impression she managed to make quickly. Most likely the personal vote effects would be similar to at the election, and swamped by whatever else was going on.

  17. Politically it is pretty hard to imagine Turnbull really wanting to go to a by-election in Herbert. A shellacking would be a strong probability, and, if it occurred, would be well nigh fatal to his leadership. Still, maybe the conservatives in the party have the wood on him enough to force the issue and make him try to get the CDR to endorse one.

    No doubt the poor electors of Herbert are going to be opinion polled within an inch of their lives over the next couple of weeks while the Lib factions decide on their plays!

  18. Couple of issues Palm, K17.
    There are far more people registered to vote there than saw any purpose in it and got to the polls. The ALPs acceptance of “Intervention Light” in the NT , the lack of follow through by Rudd or his successor on the pretty “apology”, and a lack of any real positive movement on Indigenous stuff until the appointment of Dodson etc in recent weeks, have left a lot of Aboriginal voters everywhere, Qld included, pretty jaundiced about party politics. Still, at least the ALP seem a little more involved with this stuff than they have for a couple of pretty ordinary decades!

    There are a heck of a lot of people, too, who, for the same reasons simply aren’t registered. The ALP used to be good at helping make sure they were, both with real policy support and real “on the ground” legwork to get the registrations in.

    Build on the very recent more positive policy moves and get those people on the ground to help with registration and the vote impact will be real & substantial.

  19. ROD – Thanks. I’ve been wondering if Turnbull might want a by-election to distract those in his party wanting his head!

  20. Will, Kevin, residents of Herbert, anyone who knows – is it at all usual to have a polling booth in a hospital that’s open till 6 on polling day? AFAIK (and I readily admit there are hy-uge gaps in my knowledge here) a “Special Hospital Team” visits hospitals in the days leading up to polling day and spends long enough at each place to find everyone who wants to vote and moves on. The list of polling places in Herbert does not show one AT a hospital, and there were 2 Special Hospital Teams. Was one perhaps scheduled to stay at the hospital in question until 6? Or are the complaints coming from people who just hadn’t read the schedule and assumed that, like a normal PP, they could vote until 6? (If nobody knows, I guess we’ll find out from the evidence presented to the CDR. I wait with bated breath (or “baited” for those who spell like the average journo) .)

  21. The 1996 Lindsay by-election was held in the Australian electorate of Lindsay in New South Wales on 19 October 1996. The by-election was triggered by a ruling of the Court of Disputed Returns that the election of the Liberal Party candidate Jackie Kelly was invalid, due to her citizenship status and employment by the Royal Australian Air Force. The writ for the by-election was issued on 16 September 1996.
    Jackie Kelly won the seat of Lindsay from Labor’s Ross Free at the 1996 federal election – a surprise win as Lindsay was considered a safe Labor seat. However, Kelly’s election was challenged on two counts: that she had not renounced her New Zealand citizenship (Section 44 of the Australian Constitution states that “a subject or citizen of a foreign power” is ineligible to stand for federal parliament),[2] and that at the time of her nomination as a candidate she was employed as a legal officer for the Royal Australian Air Force (s. 44 also prohibits any person who “holds any office of profit under the Crown” from election to parliament). The Court of Disputed Returns ruled on 11 September 1996 that Kelly’s election was indeed constitutionally invalid, and a by-election was called several days later. Kelly, by this time, had resigned from the RAAF and renounced her New Zealand citizenship, and was eligible to stand as a candidate in the by-election.
    Jackie Kelly won the by-election with an even larger majority – a swing of 4.97% in her favour.

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