Western Australian upper house: final score

The conclusion of counting for the upper house leaves Labor and the Greens facing an equal number of members from various parties of the right.

The finalisation of the upper house count today has left Labor a seat short of where it would have liked to be, with Labor on 14 and the Greens on four accounting for exactly half the chamber’s 36 numbers. They will amount to a majority on the floor if Labor succeeds in its endeavour to persuade Simon O’Brien, a Liberal, to take the President’s chair. Otherwise, they will need an extra number out of the four Nationals, three One Nation, one Shooters Fishers and Farmers, and one Liberal Democrats. Substantial reform to the Legislative Council, such as would address Labor’s present situation of facing a shaky upper house after a landslide election win, would require nineteen votes on the floor. Featured below is commentary on each result together with links to the full preference distributions, which as yet have not been published on the Electoral Commission site.


1. Martin Aldridge (Nationals); 2. Darren West (Labor); 3. Jim Chown (Liberal); 4. Colin de Grussa (Nationals); 5. Laurie Graham (Labor); 6. Rick Mazza (Shooters).
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

There were 88,175 votes in the count and a quota of 12,597. The Nationals started with two quotas, Labor and Liberal with one apiece. The micro-party snowball didn’t amount to much, with the Liberal Democrats going out before the Greens. Labor was then elected with preferences not just from the Greens, but also the Daylight Saving Party, Flux the System and the enigmatic Family First. Presumably this reflected a partial deal with the Glenn Druery bloc, in which the Liberal Democrats and Fluoride Free refused to participate. That left One Nation on 10,777, Shooters on 8,752 and Liberal #2 on 4,241, after which preferences from elected Labor and excluded Liberal went to Shooters, who defeated One Nation at the final count by 13,299 and 10,820. In other words, Liberal preferences could have elected One Nation if they had gone that way, but they actually had them third behind Shooters.

East Metropolitan

1. Alanna Clohesy (Labor); 2. Donna Faragher (Liberal); 3. Samantha Rowe (Labor); 4. Matthew Swinbourn (Labor); 5. Tim Clifford (Greens); 6. Charles Smith (One Nation).
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

Labor elected three members from the primary vote, and the Liberals one. The Greens made it to the fifth seat with the Labor surplus and three of the Glenn Druery bloc (Fluoride Free, Daylight Saving and Flux the System). As explained in the previous post, One Nation then proceeded to win the final seat at the expense of the third Liberal due to a distinctive feature of the counting system, which meant that Labor and Greens votes were used up electing the Greens, while Animal Justice votes proceeded unmolested to the final count, at which point they went to One Nation ahead of the Liberals.

Mining and Pastoral

1. Stephen Dawson (Labor); 2. Jacqui Boydell (Nationals); 3. Ken Baston (Liberal); 4. Kyle McGinn (Labor); 5. Robin Scott (One Nation); 6. Robin Chapple (Greens).
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

Out of 49,311 formal votes, Robin Chapple’s win for the Greens in Mining and Pastoral came down to margins of 189 votes over Labor at the penultimate count, and 736 over Shooters Fishers and Farmers at the end. The quota was 7045, of which Labor had two off the bat, the Nationals and Liberals one apiece. One Nation got there when the exclusion of Australian Christians unlocked preferences from the Liberals, whose group voting ticket had the Christians second and One Nation third. The final seat came down to Shooters (3507 votes), Greens (2873), Labor #3 (2821), Nationals #2 (2380) and Flux the System (2478), who gathered the micro-party preference snowball. Nationals preferences then flowed to Shooters, and the Flux pinata scattered every which way, leaving the score at Shooters 6563, Greens 3854 and Labor 3665. Labor preferences then flowed to the Greens, who finished with 7389 to the Shooters’ 6653. A different Liberal preference strategy might have elected Shooters ahead of One Nation, or Labor #3 ahead of the Greens (though not both).

North Metropolitan

1. Alannah MacTiernan (Labor); Peter Collier (Liberal); 3. Martin Pritchard (Labor); 4. Michael Mischin (Liberal); 5. Alison Xamon (Greens); 6. Tjorn Sibma (Liberal).
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

Labor slightly outpolled the Liberals, with each electing two candidates off the primary vote. However, preferences from Family First and Liberal Democrats pushed the third Liberal, Tjorn Sibma, ahead of the third Labor, Kelly Shea, by 33,298 votes to 31,561. Had they not done so, Sibma would have dropped out and his preferences would have elected One Nation to the fifth seat, followed by Shea’s exclusion and Xamon’s election to the sixth seat. As it transpired, Xamon was elected to the fifth seat after Shea’s exclusion with a large surplus, which then flowed to Sibma ahead of One Nation.

South Metropolitan

1. Sue Ellery (Labor); 2. Nick Goiran (Liberal); 3. Kate Doust (Labor); 4. Pierre Yang (Labor); 5. Aaron Stonehouse (Liberal Democrats); 6. Simon O’Brien (Liberal)
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

Lynn MacLaren actually polled a greater share of the vote than three of her four elected Greens colleagues, and increased her vote from 2013. But she fell victim to a Goldilocks-in-reverse performance by Labor, who were neither strong enough to bequeath a big surplus to the Greens after the election of their third candidate, as they were in East Metropolitan, nor weak enough to fall below three quotas, as they were in North Metropolitan. Addition of below-the-line votes to the count added 0.6% to the Greens and took 0.3% from the Liberals, but it also took 0.7% from Labor, which flowed through to MacLaren. At the final count, the second Liberal, Simon O’Brien, led MacLaren by 51,332 to 47,591, with a quota of 49,570.

The most vulnerable point for the Liberal Democrats was the exclusion of the Daylight Saving Party, who had been given second preference by everyone in the Glenn Druery network. The Liberal Democrats had 14,105 at that point compared with 13,112 for Daylight Saving, and then received the latter’s preferences as the last party standing in the Druery network. That pushed them ahead of Australian Christians and One Nation, and the preferences of the latter put them well over a quota with 59,150. Their surplus of 9580 votes then went mostly to O’Brien ahead of MacLaren, deciding the result.

South West

1. Sally Talbot (Labor); 2. Steve Thomas (Liberal); 3. Adele Farina (Labor); 4. Colin Tincknell (One Nation); 5. Colin Holt (Nationals); 6. Diane Evers (Greens).
Click here for preference distribution spreadsheet

Labor elected two candidates off full quotas and the Liberals one, with first One Nation and then the Nationals building up to quotas as various parties’ preferences were distributed. The third Labor candidate, John Mondy, began with a slight lead over Diane Evers of the Greens in the race for the remaining seat, but preferences from Animal Justice and three of the Glenn Druery bloc parties (Daylight Saving, Fluoride Free and Flux the System) pushed Evers ahead, and Mondy’s eliminiation and preference distribution secured her the seat.

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.

15 comments on “Western Australian upper house: final score”

  1. In Agricultural, “Liberal preferences could have elected One Nation if they had gone that way, but they actually had them third behind Shooters.” So did the Libs do a double-cross on the ON preference deal, William, or was it just carelessness?

  2. Awesome analysis and compilation God.

    The ABC article was interesting. It is weird however, seeing the ABC describing the lack of Greens as balance of power in the LC as Labor missing out on an LC majority.

    A little confusement by the night editors methinks.

  3. Labor trying to attract a Liberal to take on the role of President highlights a common issue in many Australian chambers: When there is anything other than a clear majority, there is a clear disincentive for a party to provide a presiding officer.

    Obviously this is especially an issue in divided upper houses, but even the Liberals federally have been disadvantaged by this: They do not have an absolute majority on the floor due to providing the Speaker.

    Perhaps a bipartisan, cross-jurisdiction agreement on this?

  4. Labor may be able to take advantage of the fragile nature of the ON party to entice at least one of their members to vote with the Govt. on some legislation, esp. a voting reform package. Who knows.
    McGowan is probably intensely reading ‘The Art of The Deal’ at present.

  5. Thanks for the info William.

    Going to be relatively easy crossbench to deal with. 1 vote being all that is needed makes it much more tempting for ON to defect.

    I doubt Labor will try to enact LC voting reform – do it early and you piss off the crossbench, do it late and you piss of the voters in those areas.

  6. Voice Endeavour, if Labor doesn’t try to reform the Council here, then they deserve the decades of headaches it will continue to give them. I tend to think your concerns will cancel each other out – an end to group ticket voting will not bother One Nation much (they would probably have had the same number without GTV, albeit with Agricultural instead of East Metro) and it would be out of character for the Shooters to kick up a fuss, while sensible managing of one-vote-one-value (i.e. getting the Libs on board) would neuter any backlash there. As I said on the other thread, it is in the Liberals’ self-interest to support both of these reforms anyway.

    Much depends on whether they can get Simon O’Brien into the presidency. Ending GTV would undoubtedly put the Lib Dem off-side for probably the whole term, but if they get O’Brien in the chair then they wouldn’t need him for most stuff anyway (assuming the Greens are on board, and he’s no use to them without the Greens anyway). I think people are tending to assume that the Shooter will be more obstreperous than he actually will – in NSW the Shooters have tended to support the government of the day except on their pet issues.

  7. Nine liberals in the upper house, 13 in the assembly.

    That is what I call a train wreck.

    The big question is what will they do about it? leave the likes of Collier and Goiran pulling the strings on pre selection or try and for some reform.

    I suspect they are they type of people who would rather be in opposition and controllong the party than in government.

    Interesting times ahead

  8. That’s what he says now, Peg. Let’s see how he feels as May 22nd approaches (when the new LC members take their places) and he really starts to feel the utter futility of being a “Liberal” member of the WA Parliament. None of them Ministers, a caucus small enough to meet in a large cupboard, and even the ability to block legislation dependent on the co-operation of a rag-tag bunch of councillors from all around the political “compass”. Being the President of the Council might start to look good – to O’Brien or perhaps to one of the others.

  9. Can anyone confirm if the Below Line votes are now in the total votes for LC on the WAEC site. It seems odd that there is a 3.6% higher vote for HA cf LC.

    And what is the reason for the really low turnout in Pilbara (70%) and LC Mining and Pastoral (currently showing 74) – does the WAEC conduct mobile polling etc in isolated Aboriginal communities? Is there an end of mining construction issue with people changing abode?

  10. The ability to block legislation is only all around the political compass if you have a very weird compass. It starts with hyper-Libs and ends with super-Nats. With One Nation based on Hanson being the former pretending to be the latter. Its possible though that PHONs abysmal vetting accidentally elected some wildly different ones though.

    Yes, the Greens but if you have the Libs and Greens both opposed to legislation Labor is probably boned unless it’s a proposal for an Anti-Muslim Battle Coal Mine with Redistributed Profits.

    You might get a cross jurisdictional agreement on the President getting a deliberative vote (maybe) but it’s only likely to happen for the Speaker , for 2 reasons: the Speaker being politically neutral is far more entrenched and the Speaker is generally far more powerful (because the Speaker’s party has a majority on the floor nearly always it’s close to impossible to overcome standing orders and orders of business or to overturn the Speakers decision) whereas the Senate President is generally much weaker since they rarely have the numbers (and usually comes from the Government in any case).

  11. I wonder if the Liberals might be convinced now to do something about malapportionment given they won only one seat in each of the three non-metro regions (compared to two each for the ALP), but six in the three Metro regions.

    Personally, I’d like to see the Mining and Pastoral Region and Agricultural Region combined into one region, and then each of the five resulting regions assigned seven members. There is still a bias toward the regions ahead of Perth, but nowhere near as extreme (a reduction to 40% of the seats for 25% of the population).

    This could also get some minor party support as it would certainly make it more likely to see them elected with lower quotas as a result.

  12. I could be wrong but I think a referendum is required to reduce (but not increase) the number of MPs in either house, so WA is stuck with at least 36 MLCs short of a referendum.

  13. Full LC count is up on WAEC site. Plus good summary on ABC news site. Liberals down from 47.6% in 2013 to 26.7% – a small drop of 21% of all voters (or about 45% of all Liberal LC voters in 2013 went somewhere else). Nationals also down about 0.5%.

    Labor were up 8%, Greens up 0.4% to 8.6%, Phony got 8.2%, LDP, Shooters, Animal Justice, Daylight Saving & Microbusiness divvied up most of the rest.

    The turnout was also down about 2% so 30,000 or so extra people didn’t bother voting.

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