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


• 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:


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”

Comments Page 4 of 5
1 3 4 5
  1. There was a Tweet from the AEC on the 26th:

    Herbert Recount of votes concluded this evening with a margin of 35 votes in favour of the ALP candidate.
    Electoral Act next requires full distrib of prefs, prepare Wed, distrib Thurs & takes at least 2 days. Confirms final margin

  2. Oh it turns out we’re arguing about nothing in the case of the Sex Party HTVs and whether the voter went on past 6. Although the Sex Party were actually handing out at the booth I voted at, only five of 3722 ATL Sex/HEMP voters statewide followed the card to 6. The Renewable Energy Party who were also handing out at my booth didn’t get a single follow to 6 in my electorate, and only two follows to 6 statewide.

  3. It hadn’t actually struck me till I read the ABC’s account of the declaration of results – but after all the campaigning, huffing, puffing, expenditure of money, etc, the Tasmanian Senate result is NO CHANGE – except that one Lib (Colbeck) is replaced by another (Duniam). Gee Malcolm, that was a lot of bother for nothing. Lends force to tonight’s Clark and Dawe where Malcolm is our contestant in Rio for the running on the spot event.

  4. And yes Kevin I though the Sex Party’s ticket was so silly nobody would bother to follow it. You say 5 did? Must have been the party executive members who wrote the ticket.

  5. So SEX – 7% got their second preference as per HTV and by position 6, 0.14% had followed the full 1-6. Family First nearly got their as well with 0.25% following the HTV fully to 6 – not sure where God is these days but clearly the Assembly of God Church and rebadged versions seems to have missed out on getting the Word. ON on 0.4% also not a good look.

    Parties that did better – Liberal 12% followed HTV to 6, Greens 7%, Labor 3%, ALA 3% AJP 2%.

  6. Good grief some of you spend a lot of time here.
    Ok last night I asked tersely if Tasmania Senate result was representative to the rest of the country. Given the 1. The TAS BTL voter “boycotts” in support of Colbeck (IMHO another good one gone) and Singh and 2. Tas (and ACT) lower house voting is proportional what is the likelihood the TAS result under the new system is representative of the entire country? I guess we will see in time wont we.

  7. According to the Schedule of HoR declarations on the AEC website the following are due to be declared tomorrow (Friday), Dickson, Chifley, Kennedy, Kingsford Smith, Robertson, Page and Hinkler, and Cowper, Lilley, Farrer and Batman,
    are due to be declared Monday, and Parramatta due to be declared Wednesday. I expect others will be added to the declaration Schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday, as there are 40 seats still to be declared, and the return of the writs must be by Monday 8 August. We are closing in on the final stages.

  8. jack a randa @ #159 Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    And yes Kevin I though the Sex Party’s ticket was so silly nobody would bother to follow it. You say 5 did? Must have been the party executive members who wrote the ticket.

    I’m thinking they were BDSM types who wanted to submit to their party and have it whip them into line.

  9. tom the first and best @ #146 Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I have never seen booth by booth full distribution of preferences published.

    I don’t see how there can be any such thing. Surely the order in which candidates are eliminated and their preferences distributed can only be done on the totals from all booths.

  10. Triton: yes a ‘booth by booth’ full distribution of preferences would require tabulating cross booth totals after every each individual distribution step to decide which candidate to eliminate. would be very very slow.

  11. Looks like there’s a preference redistribution underway in Melbourne, ALP seems to have lost out to the Libs. Currently the margin is 65-35 to Bandt.

  12. Nothing getting reported on Herbert preferences. Does that mean that other booths that have been sorted haven’t changed the total – that would not be a surprise.

  13. That’s my guess, Wakefield. If they go through a booth’s votes and nothing changes, there’s nothing to update. They said it would take at least two days, which I’m guessing means probably less than three days, so they must be a fair way through the process now. I think this is a case of no news is good news.

  14. The thing William notes with the tendency of preferences to flow to closely placed groups is something I have also noticed with Tasmanian council elections which typically have long vertical lists of candidates. I call it “proximity preferencing” and it was a big part of the case I put in the 1990s for Robson rotation of Council ballot papers (which was adopted). As a result of rotation it is now a non-issue. I’d like to see rotation before any future Senate double dissolution though it would be a nuisance to implement.

    Keyman: from what I can tell the impact of BTL voting seen in Tasmania will not be seen in any other state. There will be an across the board increase in BTL but it won’t significantly impact on any other results – this time. In the future it may, though my guess is this thing will always be easier to mobilise in Tasmania because of our experience with multi-candidate voting, and because it is easier for a small team of people to run a successful campaign in Tasmania than almost anywhere else.

  15. Tim Colebatch has been counting the Senate possibles and probables


    8 decided
    4 Liberal/National (Marise Payne, Arthur Sinodinos, Fiona Nash, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells)
    4 Labor (Sam Dastyari, Jenny McAllister, Deborah O’Neill, Doug Cameron)

    4 to go: those most likely
    1 Green (Lee Rhiannon) now on .96 of a quota
    5th Liberal/National (John Williams) .67
    1 One Nation (Brian Burston) .53
    1 Liberal Democrat (David Leyonhjelm) .40

    Rough outside chances
    1 Christian Democrat (Nella Hall) .35
    1 Shooters Party (Karl Houseman) .26


    9 decided
    4 Liberal/National (Mitch Fifield, Bridget McKenzie, Scott Ryan, James Patterson)
    4 Labor (Kim Carr, Stephen Conroy, Jacinta Collins, Gavin Marshall)
    1 Green (Richard di Natale)

    3 to go: those most likely
    1 Derryn Hinch .78
    2nd Green (Janet Rice) .40
    5th Liberal/National (Jane Hume) .33

    Rough outside chances
    1 One Nation (Simon Roylance) .24
    1 Animal Justice (Bruce Poon) .23


    8 decided
    4 Liberal National (George Brandis, Matt Canavan, James McGrath, Ian Macdonald)
    3 Labor (Murray Watt, Anthony Chisholm, Claire Moore)
    1 One Nation (Pauline Hanson)

    4 to go: those most likely
    1 Green (Larissa Waters) .89
    5th Liberal National (Barry O’Sullivan) .59
    4th Labor (Chris Ketter) .44
    1 Liberal Democrat (Gabe Buckley) .37

    Rough outside chances
    1 Xenophon (Suzanne Grant) .26
    1 Family First (Rod McGarvie) .25
    2nd One Nation (Malcolm Roberts) .19


    9 decided
    5 Liberal (Matthias Cormann, Michelle Cash, Dean Smith, Linda Reynolds, Chris Back)
    3 Labor (Sue Lines, Glenn Sterle, Pat Dodson)
    1 Green (Scott Ludlam)

    3 to go: those most likely
    4th Labor (Louise Pratt) .68
    1 One Nation (Rod Culleton) .52

    Serious contest
    2nd Green (Rachel Siewert) .36
    1 National (Kado Muir) .33

    Rough outside chances
    1 Xenophon (Luke Bolton) .28
    1 Shooters (Andrew Skerritt) .24


    9 decided
    4 Liberal (Simon Birmingham, Cory Bernardi, Anne Ruston, David Fawcett)
    3 Labor (Penny Wong, Don Farrell, Alex Gallacher ok)
    2 Xenophon (Nick Xenophon, Stirling Griff)

    3 to go: those most likely
    3rd Xenophon (Skye Kakoschke-Moore) .82
    1 Green (Sarah Hanson-Young) .75

    Serious contest
    4th Labor (Anne McEwen) .55
    1 Family First (Bob Day)* .37

    * Day can expect the bulk of preferences from the 5th Liberal, who has 0.27 of a quota.

    Rough outside chance
    1 One Nation (Steven Burgess) .39

  16. I would say that there is now some very good analogue evidence to suggest that Day *can’t* expect the bulk of preferences from the 5th Liberal…

  17. Peter van Onselen on the risks for Turnbull in going for a byelection:

    The biggest risk for Turnbull is that defeat in a Herbert by-election defines him as a failure, immediately after winning a majority at the election. It would give his detractors the narrative they need to continue to undermine his authority.

    That’s the last thing the PM can afford after an election that saw the government lose so many seats and much of its mandate to be bold.

  18. @ Airlines – that’s very interesting about Melbourne. It was updated about 3pm, still Greens-Liberal 2pp, with Bandt about 68.

    It’s very interesting because although the Libs were a tiny bit ahead of ALP on first prefs (25.25 vs 24.46), you would have expected them to get ahead on preferences. The minor parties were Drug Law Reform (1.26), Animal Justice Party (1.84) and Sex Party (3.45). Possibly the bulk of their preferences went to the Greens and there just wasn’t enough going to the ALP to get them ahead of the Libs. Certainly again makes you wonder how many Sex Party voters followed the HTV which had Labor before the Greens.

    It could be I suppose that the minor parties did preference Libs more than Labor, but that just doesn’t seem likely. It would be intriguing to see the full distribution.

  19. Sorry I meant ‘you would have expected the ALP to get ahead of the Libs on preferences’ in my previous comment.

  20. I suppose re SA it might be that the flow to Labor from micros is significantly weaker than in Tasmania (after all we did have a 57-43ish Reps result) but even so I don’t see how Day makes massive gains on the micros, and if he doesn’t do that then he needs about 80% off the Liberals, which won’t happen.

    Nick X has a thumping personal vote in his own right which will likely leak a lot, pushing Kakoschke-Moore down a bit and allowing her to sop up even more of the micro vote before getting elected. That’s even less helpful for Family First.

  21. Does anyone know why the turnout in Sydney is showing 85% when similar areas are 90 plus. Is it that they are recounting as a Lib/Labor 2pp when it was expected to be a Labor/Green 2pp earlier.

  22. Must be, Wakefield. The primary vote turnout is 94.01%.

    Looks like most of the undeclared seats (now only 28) are ones where it is theoretically possible for third place to overtake second to the 2CP (although in most of them this won’t get even close to happening). Still, not many to go now.

  23. Also fun: the Liberals as a group have slipped below a quota in the ACT Senate count (now at 0.9964). Obviously they’ll still win, but at least we’ll get to see a bit of preference action first. Also it appears all BTL votes have been apportioned there, so a button press must be imminent.

  24. Speaking of third overtaking second, One Nation has apparently overtaken Labor to make the two-candidate-preferred count in Maranoa. This is only the second time One Nation has made a federal 2CP (after Blair in 1998 with Hanson herself).

  25. (One Nation did come second on primaries in the 1998 Newcastle re-run when the Liberals didn’t bother contesting, but were overtaken by the Greens on Democrat preferences.)

  26. Herbert back out to 39 Labor lead. Getting close now. Any one taking bets on whether Libs will challenge the result? My view is that despite the risks they may well, especially as they have spent a lot of time raising questions about how some were not able to vote.

  27. Best to assume LNP will challenge. The born to rule mentality seems to rule. Can the electoral roll be updated prior to a new election? Someone mentioned earlier that only about 1/3 of adults on Palm Island are on the roll for example.

  28. @Frickeg
    “Looks like most of the undeclared seats (now only 28) are ones where it is theoretically possible for third place to overtake second to the 2CP (although in most of them this won’t get even close to happening). Still, not many to go now.”
    I guess that’s right but it can’t be the case in eg Batman, where it’s not possible for the third placed candidate (Lib) to get ahead of either of the first two (Greens followed by Labor). But I notice there there are three “envelopes not yet processed” so maybe they have to wait for rulings on some votes or something? Very puzzling – nothing seems to have happened since Monday.

  29. You would have to have extremely poor judgement to countenance a court challenge, and by election in Herbert.

    So it’s odds on Turnbull will insist it proceeds.

Comments Page 4 of 5
1 3 4 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *