Upper house call of the board

Labor’s landslide has carried over to a better-than-expected showing an upper house, but an assortment of micro-party cross-benchers promises to make life complicated.

Thursday night

For the second time, I’m withdrawing what had earlier been called a sure result, with a seat earlier attributed to the Shooters in Mining and Pastoral now credited almost certainly to Labor, with a trace chance for the Greens. This reflects the addition of remote booths to the count today, and makes it appear likely that Labor and the Greens between them will have 18 out of 36 seats. It’s significant that my earlier reversal was in South West, as these smaller non-metropolitan regions are more prone to dramatic movements in the count. I now have the Greens with the edge over Labor to take the seat that suddenly flipped to the left on Tuesday’s counting, although there’s still very little in it.

Wednesday night

Updated simulations below, with no fundamental change occurring anywhere on today’s counting. In South West, the key exclusion is at Count 20 on the ABC computer, at which the Greens are currently dropping out with 8.85% to Labor’s 9.20%. If the Greens were to finish ahead at this point, they rather than Labor’s #3 would win a seat.

Some idea on the progress count. Agricultural: 2760 counted today for a total of 69,793; 70.21% of enrolled voters counted, compared with a final total of 90.4% in 2013. East Metropolitan: 14,769 counted from a total of 276,487; 72.42% counted compared with 89.65% in 2013. Mining and Pastoral: 3124 counted today from a total of 37,644; 56.71% counted compared with 79.46% in 2013. North Metropolitan: 23,383 counted today from a total of 280,628; 73.66% counted compared with 89.69% in 2013. South Metropolitan: 15,195 counted today from a total of 285,401; 89.47% counted compared with 71.89% in 2013. South West: 7326 counted today from a total of 161,414; 73.72% counted compared with 90.67% in 2013.

Tuesday night

Yesterday’s bad day for the Greens has been followed by a much better one today. After being written off in South West yesterday, they have today roared back after a drop in the vote share for Labor, and are now rated a 46% chance of winning the last seat at the expense of Labr’s number three. They are also up from 77% to 92% in East Metropolitan, where a win over Fluoride Free depends on the latter dropping out behind One Nation at the key exclusion. At present, the ABC projection has One Nation leading at the relevant point by 9.60% to 8.86%. There was little change today in the race between the Liberal Democrats and the Daylight Saving Party in South Metropolitan, with the former still slightly favoured. The challenge for the Daylight Saving Party is to survive an exclusion ahead of Australian Christians, in which case preferences would push them past the Liberal Democrats. However, the ABC projection presently has Australian Christians leading 3.94% to 3.72%.

Monday night

Today’s run of my upper house count projections has produced a radical change in South West, where yesterday I had the Greens a 98% chance of winning the last seat versus 2% for Labor, but now I have it as all but a done deal for Labor. However, I now have the Greens slightly favoured in their race against Fluoride Free in East Metropolitan, which will come down to whether Fluoride Free can get their nose ahead of One Nation at the key cut-off point. I’ve arbitrarily halved the amount of variation I’m allowing for in randomising the results for purposes of my simulations, which has a lot to do with the fact that I’m listing clear-cut results in three of the six regions, and coming fairly close to doing so in Mining and Pastoral (though I’m told the Greens feel at least some cause for hope that below-the-line votes will get them up at the expense of Shooters).

As before, the table below lists “confirmed” seats in the left column and percentage changes of taking the remaining seat or seats (if any) in the second. The progress of yesterday’s count was as follows: 10,291 new votes in Agricultural, for a total of 60,682; 4476 in Mining and Pastoral, for 28,300; 15,426 in South West, for 126,801; 24,266 in East Metropolitan, for 234,477; 31,463 in North Metropolitan, for 236,862; 16,290 in South Metropolitan, for 236,885.

Sunday night

I’ve done another run of my simulations after today’s counting, of which there was a very great deal in Agricultural (from 13,315 votes counted to 50,391) but only modest amounts in North Metropolitan and South Metropolitan, with the other three regions coming somewhere in between (votes in the count increased by between 21% and 31%). I would probably have since this coming if I had done my homework carefully on where the outstanding votes were, but the Labor-Greens axis is looking weaker today due to a deteriorating position in East Metropolitan and Mining and Pastoral, with the latter now set to deliver a second seat to One Nation on top of their clear win in South West. The Liberals have gone from a weak chance for a second seat in East Metropolitan to a strong one, coming at the expense of either the Greens or Fluoride Free, both of whom looked strong yesterday and are now looking dicey. In Mining and Pastoral, yesterday it looked like Labor #3 or the Greens would win a third seat, but I’m now projecting that will likely go to One Nation instead, joining the Nationals, Liberals and Shooters on one seat apiece. This means a broadly conservative bloc of Liberal, Nationals, Shooters and One Nation stands to win exactly half the 36 seats, putting it in a position to win votes on the floor after Labor provides the President.

Saturday night

The Labor landslide looks to have carried over to a better-than-expected result in the Legislative Council, where Labor and the Greens seem likely to win half the 36 seats between them. Depending on how things pan out in Mining and Pastoral, that will be either Labor 15 and Greens three, or Labor 14 and Greens four. However, Labor will have to provide the President, who only gets a casting vote in the event of a tie on the floor, which tends not to happen because of the odd numbers once the President is taken out of the picture. So the government will need another vote on top of the Greens to get contentious measures through — including, perhaps, measures related to the reform of the chamber’s malapportionment and electoral system.

The Liberals look to have crashed from 16 seats to nine, while the Nationals are down from five to four. That leaves another five cross-benchers on top of the three or four Greens. As I write at the close of business, the ABC computer is crediting the Daylight Saving Party with a seat in Mining and Pastoral, but this is because it is misidentifying Stefan Colagiuri as the party’s candidate, when he is in fact from Shooters Fishers and Farmers, who appear set to win two seats. However, the Daylight Saving Party might yet win the seat the ABC is crediting to the Liberal Democrats in South Metropolitan. There are also non-trivial chances of other disturbances to the current picture. One Nation should at least win a seat in South West, and the micro-party preference network looks a good chance to deliver Fluoride Free a seat in East Metropolitan.

I’ve run simulations based on the current voting numbers with randomised variations to test for the likelihood that results will differ from those shown by the ABC calculator. These are shown below, with confirmed wins in the first column and probabilities of winning one of the outstanding seats in the second.

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.

64 comments on “Upper house call of the board”

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  1. So from this it looks like Daylight Savings would be the most likely path to fix malapportionment ? The Nats obviously wouldn’t , and the Shooters and One Nation are likely at least as baseline hostile and likely disadvantaged by it.

    Fluoride Free will almost inevitably be right wing conspiracy nutters given the premise so are unlikely to be helpful but also unlikely to be disadvantaged.

    Theoretically the Libs could also participate but given their current political fortunes I doubt they’d be willing to scorched earth their relationship with the Nats to do it at the moment.

    The above analysis seems to hold true for almost anything actually, except that the Libs or Nats might be more obliging on other legislation , as could the Shooters or PHON but it seems unlikely to occur in any case where at least one of the Nats / Libs were willing anyway and so is mostly irrelevant.

  2. Does anyone know the background and identity of the PHON candidate who got up in South West? They look highly likely to be the only PHON LC member in WA. If they split from Hanson, PHON in WA will hardly exist.

  3. I just can’t believe how badly PHON have done. Pleased though. Looks as if all the protest votes went somewhere else. Maybe that’s a problem for PHON – too many micro parties splitting the protest vote. Or maybe PHON’s disarray put people off. Be interesting to see if the same happens in Queensland.

  4. Liberal Democrats once again benefit from mistaken identity – South Metro is the only ticket where they drew a position ahead of the Libs and their vote is about 4X higher than the other five regions. Lack of logos or even column letters didn’t help here. This factor adds about (I would guess) 0.2-0.25 of a quota to Druery’s group and helps either LDP or DSP get up.
    No doubt an LDP stooge will once again suggest that people have been swayed by Leyonhjelm’s performance in parliament and that the higher primary vote is legit… bollocks. I’d like them to explain why they campaigned so much harder in SM instead of AG where their lead candidate was.
    We gotta fix this s**t.

  5. Socrates – Colin Ticknell certainly sounds like a more reasonable and rounded person than probably any previous elected One Nation member, so we can only hope. The Upper House has panned out much better for Labor than I expected even with a big Lower House win. Certainly makes the task of governing over the next term look a bit less daunting, especially if like in Victoria different groupings come on board for different strands of legislation.

  6. My take away is Labor + Greeens is 18 seats or Labor + Nats = 19 seats
    Either way the sane can defeat the nutters pretty easily.
    Better than we dared hope yesterday.

  7. Its hard to see where the extra vote will come from just looking at the parties.
    Its much harder to see 6 different parties all agreeing to block legislation, unless its really unpopular.

  8. This may also be the 1st time the Libs/Nats have never had absolute control of the LC in history. Through a gerrymander.

  9. Ausdavo

    It’s a possibility but given the salary, perks and prestige I can’t see Labor handing the job to anyone other than one of their own.

  10. silentmajority @ #11 #11 Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    This may also be the 1st time the Libs/Nats have never had absolute control of the LC in history. Through a gerrymander.

    I didn’t realise there was a gerrymander.

    I presume that with the help of the greens (and perhaps some of the cross benchers) that this can be rectified?

  11. The gerrymander is that the non-metro regions get far more representation per vote (the divisions are on geography not population).

    This means that the Nats, PHON and Shooters absolutely won’t agree to get rid of it, since those are the areas they get elected and their relative power would be decreased if 1 vote , 1 value.

    You need need to get 19 from parties that get more elected in Metro or are principled enough to change it even if it hurts them (hahahahaha).

  12. This may also be the 1st time the Libs/Nats have never had absolute control of the LC in history.

    They lost control of it briefly circa 1994 when Reg Davies resigned from the Liberal Party, and throughout the Gallop-Carpenter years.

    William is there any possibility of someone other than ALP (or Greens) taking the President’s position ?

    An excellent question that I wish I could properly answer. It’s merely by convention that the government provides the President, and I’m not entirely clear to me why they’re always happy to go along with it. Perhaps it really is just down to the baubles of the office, but it seems a lot to trade away for.

  13. If the current prediction by the ABC stands up, things may be a little harder for labor.
    WA Labor 14
    Liberal Party 10
    The Nationals 4
    The Greens 3
    One Nation 2
    Shooters, Fishers, Farmers 2
    Liberal Democrats 1

    Even with the speakers vote they would need either the support of either PHON or SFF, or LDP plus one from PHON or SFF.

  14. isaac logan @ #16 Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    If the current prediction by the ABC stands up, things may be a little harder for labor.
    WA Labor 14
    Liberal Party 10
    The Nationals 4
    The Greens 3
    One Nation 2
    Shooters, Fishers, Farmers 2
    Liberal Democrats 1
    Even with the speakers vote they would need either the support of either PHON or SFF, or LDP plus one from PHON or SFF.

    Wouldn’t giving the position of speaker to one of the other parties give them a majority?

  15. A majority is 19 , the chamber is even,. But thats usually countered by the speaker not getting a vote except in a tie , but since the chamber is odd without the Speaker ties are rare.

    That still means a government needs 19 though since the traditionally appoint the speaker, and they need 18 to avoid being a minority without the Speaker. The Speakers vote only really comes into play with absences or abstentions.

  16. Not such good news for ALP+GRN, but there’s some hope – the Nats aren’t exactly thrilled with their Lib buddies right now, so they may play ball with Labor to underline the point that the Libs *need* them. And the SFF may be willing to play ball on some issues, at least.

  17. The ABC prediction means there’s no path at all to fix the gerrymandering (beyond the Libs suffering from temporary insanity with regard to their relationship to the Nats).

  18. Mr Bowe,
    Must congratulate you for your efforts in providing much data to mine from.
    Many thanks & much appreciated.

  19. In terms of getting a majority with contentious legislation, like ending the gerymander i agree with others, it looks unlikely with this current outlook.
    PHONE, SFF and NAT will be strongly opposed as they are the current beneficiaries.
    GRN would be strongly in support as there votes are concentrated in major population areas. There is a small possibility they could win a seat of the libs in Southern Metro (they are 10% down at last count with 50% of vote counted)
    I wonder if Liberal Democrats could be tempted, they are a bit all over the place… If GRN won the extra seat and LDP where on board, that would be enough.
    Talking about longshots, would LIB’s support ending the gerymander, sounds crazy, but consider the current expected results in AGRI and M&P regions combined.
    ALP 4, NAT 3, SFF 2, LIB 2, PHON 1
    Libs are doing badly, they would be better off if there was another region near elsewhere, they dont have to help the NATs, in fact they might like to assert some authority and put them in their box, or at least threaten them.

  20. We know from history that Labor are the only party consistently capable of negotiating with the minor parties and getting good results and getting 18 seats was much better than expectations going into the election. There is plenty to be positive about.

  21. Will, please, what sort of random variations have you built into this? I understand Antony’s predictions are simply based on the registered GVTs, so he assumes that the rare BTL voters will have no effect and of course he assumes that the percentages for parties will stay the same as they are now for the rest of the count. Are you assuming random fluctuations in the voting levels in later stages of the count, random differences in the prefs of BTL voters, or what? How, f’rexample, do you get FF at a 58% chance in East Met when Antony has them being eliminated before PHON and Greens and Libs getting the last 2 places? Please?

  22. Yeah, they should be able to function day to day yeah, but fixing the malapportionment isn’t on the table without 19 people who don’t belong to parties who benefit from it (ie don’t have a majority of their seats out of the metro areas)

  23. Mining and Pastoral count at 40.7% has SFF getting up over both ALP+GRN for the last place with 18 votes to spare (1.9% of quota), one to watch.

  24. If the SFF get stranded just below a quota and greens get knocked out before ALP, their preferences are unlikely to go to SFF, best chance of getting an extra seat i can see.

  25. THe current Greens MLCs, in South Metro (MacLaren) and Mining & Pastoral (Chapple) are the best chance of Labor plu Greens getting the elusive 19.

    If you look currently on Antony Green’s LC Calculator:

    Mining and Pastoral
    Party Transfer Total Votes % Votes Quotas
    SFF +561 4,186 14.74% 1.0315
    Greens +956 3,924 13.82% 0.9669

    Party Transfer Total Votes % Votes Quotas
    Liberal +5,549 35,705 15.07% 1.0550
    Greens +1,156 31,974 13.50% 0.9448

    At both final exclusions, the 5% BTLs could upset things and elect those Greens. By no means definite or likely, but possible.

    14 Labor, 4 Greens and 1 of either from the South West would make 19.

    South Metro

  26. ABC calculator has just put Labor sneaking into the last seat in the South West at the expense of The Greens. Which is neither here no there, since it doesn’t do anything to improve the balance of power from the likely 17 seats combined. Still, it’s a far better result than could’ve been hoped for before the night. A chance of control of the council was almost more farfetched than gaining Geraldton or Murray-Wellington!

  27. Gap closed by 55 votes, down to 209 in MaP, count at 43.86%
    Shooters, Fishers and Farmers +559 4,264 14.64% 1.0247
    The Greens (WA) +984 4,055 13.92% 0.9745

  28. And just to keep track of Southern Metro, @ 65.44% Libs lead has extended by 450 to 4189.
    Liberal Party +6,329 39,190 15.09% 1.0563
    The Greens (WA) +1,298 35,001 13.48% 0.9434

  29. The margin in Mining and Pastoral for the Greens needs that because I don’t thin the small BTL advantage the Greens tend to get, would cover the current ABC calculator difference.

    The 0.07 difference for Lynn MacLaren is definitely within BTL range, however at a Liberal expense in South Metro.

    In South West at count 21(ABC prediction) , the difference between Labor and Greens is minute. That one is a BTL lottery really. In the ‘olden days’ I would predict it as Green because a lot of conservative BTLs would preference Greeen ahead of Labor. Despite the Liberals who vote Green BTL, I suspect these days its a much closer thing. So close ,that it will depend on the button.

  30. A question for the lawyers – is there any legal or constitutional avenue for a challenge to the WA upper house system? It is a gerrymander Bjelke-Petersen or Playford would have been proud of. Any kind of “one vote one value” principle applied would change them dramatically. As Perth grows, this imbalance will only increase.

  31. South Met: “89.47% counted compared with 71.89% in 2013”. You didn’t mean that did you Will?
    And are these figures still all ATLs? Am I right in thinking the BTLs are sent off to the data-entry desk/room/whatever, and they don’t appear in the numbers at all until button-press time? (So at that point the numbers will suddenly jump from 84-odd% to 89-odd.) Or do they at least look for a number 1 and include them in the count as they go?

  32. Soc – there is a possible argument about constitutionality, but outcome is very “either/or” on the current case law. In McKinlay (1975, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1975/53.html ) the HC said there was no one-vote-one-value rule, but there was probably some limit beyond which an election would not be “choice by the people”. In McGinty (1996, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1996/48.html ) 2 Justices said 1V,1V should be the rule and others repeated the “not too much deviation” dictum from McKinlay. Then in McCloy (2015, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2015/34.html ) the majority said “Equality of opportunity to participate in the exercise of political sovereignty is an aspect of the representative democracy guaranteed by our Constitution” (in the different context of restricting political donations from property developers). But whether they’ll extend that to insisting on 1V, 1V in a State “upper” house is the classic “moot question”. I’ll bet Jim McGinty will be revving the new A-G up to give it another try.

  33. Given the massive malapportionment in the Senate, which is much larger than the WA Upper House, it’d be a bit strange for the WA situation to be ruled unconstitutional.

  34. Yep, @ 63.71% M&P counted ALP got above Nationals, which i think is the critical point.
    WA Labor +2,864 6,356 14.98% 1.0484
    Shooters, Fishers and Farmers +154 5,766 13.59% 0.9511

  35. Well Andrew, there’s a reason for the unproportional numbers in the Senate, as you well know – price of federation and all that. Doesn’t really apply to State “upper” houses, which were invented in the first place to act as a brake on the “democratical spirit” of the crude colonials. But who can tell what the High Court might say? They’ve extended the freedom of political speech (derived from the Commonwealth Const’n) to the States, on the ground that State and federal issues are always intertwined. So far they haven’t extended the right to vote (derived from the same sections of the Constitution) to the States, and haven’t held that it’s a right to a vote of equal weight in any case – but there are hints. Biggish hints.
    Anyway, watch and see what the final numbers are in the LC, and then whether Labor can find an Alan Cadby or two (if necessary). They may get a 1V,1V amendment through the LC with an absolute majority sometime in the next 4 years.

  36. WA Electoral Act 1907, s 16M
    (1) A Bill that repeals or alters any of the provisions of this Part [the part about LA divisions and LC regions] , other than [some irrelevant bits], shall not be presented for assent by or in the name of the Queen unless the second and third readings of the Bill shall have been passed with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the whole number of the members for the time being of the Council and the Assembly, respectively.
    “…passed with the concurrence of…” – do you see an interesting possibility there, eh, Wakefield?

  37. Given that the Liberals are currently looking like having 3 out of 18 regional MLCs (worse than Labor last time!), I wouldn’t rule out them supporting an end to malapportionment, provided they were willing to escalate tensions with the Nationals (which they may well be).

  38. Liberals are doing about ok if they end up with 10 LC seats. Current votes to seats:
    Liberal Democrats 20,563 1 20,500 per seat
    Liberal Party 312,729 10 31,000
    Pauline Hanson’s One Nation 91,510 2 45,800
    Shooters, Fishers and Farmers 25,563 1 25,600
    The Greens (WA) 89,416 2 44,700
    THE NATIONALS 49,814 4 12,400
    WA Labor 473,643 16 29, 600

    It is a standout that the Nationals being basically a regional party are the winners.

  39. Well, Wakefield, 19 “concurrences” are needed, but if the motion is passed on a division by 18 to 17 with the President staying put in the chair, and then the Pres announces “I also concur with the motion” it seems to me it has (i) been passed, and (ii) has the concurrence of an absolute majority. Prof Alex Gardner wrote a learned article in 2005 suggesting the Pres could actually vote (as in take part in the division) in these cases, but when you read the rules I don’t think he/she needs to. I was going to just quietly tell the Labor MLCs about this, but since you’ve raised it…
    But it would only take a couple of Libs to have the nerve to take on the Nats, and there’ll be 19 without the Pres anyway. May become fun to watch…

  40. I expect the Libs are less concerned about what the NATs think now than they have been in a long time, but they might use this as opportunity that would have been much more dangerous previously.
    The Libs can divulge to the Nats that getting rid of malapportion is the right thing to do by democracy etc etc, without making a big deal about it being in their interest own long term best interest…
    Then point out that unless the WA Nats bend the knee and sign up to the coalition they have no reason to consider the Nats point of view.

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