Victorian election upper house finale

Seventeen days on, the precise configuration of a bewildering Victorian upper house election result will be determined later today.

UPDATE: Results confirmed in the following table. See region entries below for more detail.

The Victorian state election is to reach its final resolution this afternoon when the proverbial button is pressed on the Legislative Council counts. The broad outline of the result is clear in that Labor stands to win probably 17 seats (UPDATE: actually eighteen), up from 14 in 2014, but this will not make their life any less complicated owing to the poor show by the Greens, who went in with five seats and will come with one, or two if they’re lucky. The Coalition, which went in with 16 seats and held 21 seats and a majority when it gained office in 2010, will emerge with a miserable showing of perhaps ten seats (UPDATE: make that eleven). In the middle: a giant herd of micro-party members, the precise identify of which remains to be discerned.

Picking winners from the primary vote tallies and some help from Antony Green’s calculators is less straightforward than it has been in the past, owing to an increase in the below-the-line voting rate from around 5% to 10%. Seemingly assured of victory are three candidates of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, who stand to triple the Greens’ representation, and may win four; and one each from Shooters Fishers and Farmers, Transport Matters, Sustainable Australia, the Liberal Democrats and Animal Justice. On top of that, Fiona Patten of the Reason Party will win if the Justice Party can’t get a fourth seat, and either Transport Matters or the Liberal Democrats will make it to two.

The following review of the situation owes a very great deal to Kevin Bonham, who has been covering the late counting in exhaustive detail.

Eastern Metropolitan

With Greens incumbent Samantha Dunn out of contention, this looks to be a matter of two seats apiece for Labor (Shaun Leane re-elected, Sonja Terpstra gaining a second seat) and Liberal (Mary Wooldridge and Bruce Atkinson re-elected) and the last seat going to a micro-party snowballer – which appears all but certain to be Rodney Barton from Transport Matters.

UPDATE: This has gone expected.

Northern Metropolitan

The one region where the Greens have scored a full quota – a feat that has eluded the Liberals, although they appear set to retain a seat all the same. Labor’s Jenny Mikakos and Nazih Elasmar will retain their seats, leaving one spare for a minor player. That could either involve Fiona Patten of the Reason Party being re-elected, or the seat instead going to Carmela Dagiandis of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. As Kevin Bonham explains, Patten is depending on preferences from Victorian Socialists, and will only get them if Ratnam reaches a quota before they are excluded.

UPDATE: Patten wins.

Southern Metropolitan

This is the one looming Greens defeat that clearly reflects the injustice of the electoral system, rather than the party’s slide in support in the suburbs. Labor’s Nina Taylor looks set to pick up a second seat at the expense of Greens incumbent Sue Pennicuik, joining a re-elected Philip Dalidakis. Of the three Liberal incumbents, David Davis and Georgie Crozier will be re-elected, but Margaret Fitzherbert appears set to lose her seat to Clifford Hayes of Sustainable Australia.

UPDATE: Confirmed.

South-Eastern Metropolitan

On the left, Labor will gain a third seat from the Greens, with incumbents Gavin Jennings and Adem Somyurek to be joined by newcomer Tien Dung Kieu, and Greens member Nina Springle losing out. On the right, only lead Liberal candidate Gordon Rich-Phillips stands to be re-elected, with second-placed veteran Inga Peulich set to lose to either Ali Khan of Transport Matters or David Limbrick of the Liberal Democrats.

UPDATE: It’s David Limbrick of the Liberal Democrats.

Western Metropolitan

Huong Truong of the Greens appeared to have some chance of clinging on her seat here in a favourable trend in late counting emerged, but it hasn’t. The result here in 2014 was Labor two and one apiece for Liberal, the Greens and the DLP; this time Labor will gain a seat from the Greens, with incumbent Cesar Melham to be joined by newcomers Ingrid Stitt and Kaushaliya Virjibhai Vaghela; Catherine Cumming of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will take the micro-party seat off the DLP; and lead candidate Bernie Finn will remain the only Liberal.

UPDATE: All correct.

Eastern Victoria

This will likely be a status quo result of Labor two (Jane Garrett making her move from the lower house, Harriet Shing winning re-election), Coalition two (Edward O’Donohue of Liberal and Melina Bath of the Nationals, both incumbents) and Shooters Fishers and Farmers (Jeff Bourman) one. The ABC projection has the Shooters seat instead going to the Aussie Battler Party, but its assumptions involve ideal scenarios for the small players, and the realities of below-the-line voting are likely to thwart them.

UPDATE: And so it has proved.

Northern Victoria

With the Coalition, Labor and the Greens accounting for barely more than two-thirds between them, this region looks set to elect two micro-party candidates, who look like being Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democrats and Tania Maxwell of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. The other three seats are likely to go two Labor (Mark Gepp and Jaclyn Symes re-elected) and one Liberal (Wendy Lovell re-elected), although there’s an outside chance it will be the other way around, in which case the Luke O’Sullivan of the Nationals will retain his seat.

UPDATE: No late save for Luke O’Sullivan of the Nationals, with Labor gaining a second seat.

Western Victoria

This too looks likely to end with two micro-party winners. The result in 2014 was two apiece for Labor and Liberal and one for Vote 1 Local Jobs; now the Liberals look all but certain to drop a seat, with Stuart Grimley of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and Andy Meddick of Animal Justice taking the last places. Jaala Pulford and Gayle Tierney will be re-elected for Labor; Beverley MacArthur will enter parliament as the head candidate on the Liberal ticket, with second-placed incumbent Joshua Morris losing out.

UPDATE: Confirmed.

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.

90 comments on “Victorian election upper house finale”

  1. The current above the line voting system for the Victorian Legislative Council is an assault on our democracy. It is simply unacceptable for a candidate polling 0.6% or something of that order to gain a seat over another candidate polling 9/10 or even 13% as appears likely to happen in a several instances at the 2018 Victorian state election. It is time the “secretive” registered party how to vote tickets are manipulated (for individual monetary gain) to allow representatives of various micro parties – lacking any extensive electoral support – was replaced by a simple. Vote for 5 or more individual candidates ballot paper. In this way, each voter takes full responsibility (as they should in a healthy democracy) for expressing their personal preferences as to who they wish to see as a member of the Legislative Council. Will the Andrews Labor government – with its much professed progressive approach to government – have the will to reform our “broken” Upper House voting system?

  2. The current above the line voting system for the Victorian Legislative Council is an assault on our democracy. It is simply unacceptable for a candidate polling 0.6% or something of that order to gain a seat over another candidate polling 9/10 or even 13% as appears likely to happen in a several instances at the 2018 Victorian state election. It is time the “secretive” registered party how to vote tickets which are manipulated (for individual monetary gain) to allow representatives of various micro parties – lacking any extensive electoral support – was replaced by a simple. Vote for 5 or more individual candidates ballot paper. In this way, each voter takes full responsibility (as they should in a healthy democracy) for expressing their personal preferences as to who they wish to see as a member of the Legislative Council. Will the Andrews Labor government – with its much professed progressive approach to government – have the will to reform our “broken” Upper House voting system?

  3. Agreed the system is broken, but hopefully they don’t take the federal approach and make it worse than it already is.

    Atl should instruct people to number all boxes above the line.

    There should be a savings provision, poorly advertised, that fills in any unfilled boxes based on the htv of whoever you voted ‘1’.

    This is preferable because it uses the best possible information to provide ordered preferences while minismising disenfranchisement through votes being exhausted or deemed invalid.

  4. The prospect that SFF voters elect an AJP MLC because of GTVs is both amusing for its irony and the TLAs.
    Or are they the rump votes in Western Victoria?

  5. I understand the benefits of PR but doesn’t a voting system have to understandable to the general public? If I asked 10 random people in the street to explain PR I would get 10 blank looks. (I know our education system has some responsibility here) I’m an intelligent, savvy, handsome guy, (obviously, I enjoy the Poll Bludger!) but I still can’t get my head around it. I know FPTP has its detractors, (with the parties ‘vote splitting’ to dilute their opponents votes, etc) but its readily understandable. The person with the most votes wins. Is the credibility of UK politicians any less than here?

  6. A voter is simply not, by definition, “disenfranchised” by their vote exhausting. The voter in a Senate-style system had the right to fill as many boxes as they liked, and if parties failed to convince that voter to fill more boxes for those parties then that is those parties’ problem. In any case at the 2016 Senate election 5.1% of the value of all votes exhausted at a point before all seats were determined – far less than many critics predicted – and much of this exhaust consisted of remaining partial values for votes that had already helped elect somebody.

    People might want to criticise the exhaust rate and look for solutions to it but to say the Senate system is worse than GVTs is just not even remotely tenable. It might be that under the new Senate system someday some candidate with 8% fails to catch some candidate with 10% in a situation where under full preferencing they would have done so. (That said predictions that One Nation would win because of this were garbage as One Nation outperformed parties it was competing with on preferences.) But we are comparing that sort of thing with what happens under GVTs in which a candidate on 1.3% beats a candidate on 13%, not because of ideological differences but because nobody wanted to do preference deals with the candidate on 13% because they had too many votes to be worth dealing with!

  7. Re FPTP it forces some kinds of voters to vote strategically in order to avoid their vote being ineffectual, while voters for leading candidates are not confronted with this problem. For this reason alone, without even considering other problems with it, it is discriminatory and wrong, no matter what quality of politicians it may or may not elect. It is better even that voters have a fair system that they don’t understand than an unfair system that they do.

    What we have in the Victorian upper house is the worst of all possible worlds: an unfair system that virtually nobody understands, with the same features that make it more complex also making it more unfair. There is no point even talking about it as an example of PR because Group Voting Tickets have corrupted it to the point that it is no longer a valid example.

  8. disasterboy: In W Vic the Shooters actually have the AJP dead last. They have done some funny business with the ordering of candidates for the big three parties, as a result of which their preferences look set to flow to the Greens in preference to the Coalition and AJP.

  9. I think this upper house will be significantly easier for Labor to manage. I have to disagree with William’s assertion that loss of Green seats will make it difficult for Labor. On the contrary it will help Labor because Greens have a history of voting with Libs often.

  10. From the VEC Website

    Calculations for all 8 Regions will occur at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Tuesday 11 December according to the below schedule. Declarations will be made at 6.00 pm.

    Estimated time
    Acknowledgement of Country 2.00 pm
    Eastern Metropolitan Region Calculation 2.10 pm
    Eastern Victoria Region Calculation 2.20 pm
    Northern Metropolitan Region Calculation 2.30 pm
    Northern Victoria Region Calculation 2.40 pm
    South-Eastern Victoria Region Calculation 2.50 pm
    Southern Metropolitan Region Calculation 3.00 pm
    Western Metropolitan Region Calculation 3.10 pm
    Western Victoria Region Calculation 3.20 pm

    Declarations at 6pm

  11. Note declarations won’t be necessarily made today for any region for which cause for a recount is identified. That said I am not sure there will be any.

    Labor are going to have a pretty cushy time of it. It looks like they will be able to pass anything supported by DHJP alone. They’ll have various alternative paths to pass stuff supported by the left or to route around DHJP if necessary.

  12. And when the wheel eventually turns and the coalition sooner or later manages to win an election, they will have an even cushier time of it.

  13. Maybe not

    They had a majority in their own right in 2010 (21 out of 40)

    However as the right of center vote has split since then they may not get the fellow travelers they need

    In the last Parliament the LNP and the Greens voted to suspend a labor MLC for 6 months, so maybe they don’t need small right wing parties at all.

    ( I believe this was the first ever suspension made by he Legislative Council)

  14. Eastern Metro

    Successful Candidates


    Eastern Victoria

    Successful Candidates


    Metro North

    Successful Candidates

  15. The micro party preference whispering is an absolute joke. Thank …. the Greens implemented those Senate reforms federally. Victoria should fix their system ASAP. Labor is also going to suffer greatly from this result as it means they won’t have an easy way to pass progressive legislation in the upper house.

  16. Northern Victoria Successful Candidates


    South East Metro Successful Candidates


    Southern Metro Successful Candidates


  17. Metro West Successful Candidates

    FINN, Bernie, LIBERAL

    One more to come in about 10 minutes

  18. The coalition LC majority in 2010 was at least partly due to the long gap between redistributions, with the intervening populations shifts disadvantaging Labor. Nevertheless, the coalition’s vote at its peak is usually a little higher than Labor’s at its peak, so when the wheel does turn we can expect the coalition to get at least as close to a majority as Labor has this time. A crowded crossbench will make their lives a breeze.

  19. Western Vic Successful Candidates

    McARTHUR, Beverley, LIBERAL

  20. Kevin Bonham is absolutely bang on with everything he’s said above.

    That said, if the Andrews Government did want to reform the upper house voting system they would need the Opposition to support it, because the micro party turkeys aren’t going to vote for Christmas.

  21. The trouble for the micros who were elected this time is that they will need exactly the same preference deal to be re-elected next time. Imagine Druery asking 5k from new hopefuls to help him elect the same lot again. Or imagine him asking 5k from those who missed out this time to help re-elect the ones who succeeded.

    Surely there’s a limit to human stupidity somewhere. At least, I cling to the hope against all available evidence.

  22. Am I missing something here?

    Let’s say the battle for the 5th seat is a three horse race:
    Candidate A has 0.99 of a quota
    Candidate B has 0.4 of a quota
    Candidate C has 0.6 of a quota

    Candidate B is eliminated and 0.4 is transferred to Candidate C and then Candidate C is elected with 1.0 of a quota. Candidate A’s votes/preferences go nowhere.

    But let’s say Candidate A preferences candidate B second but candidate B preferences candidate C well down the order. Then isn’t candidate B (preferred by 1.39 quotas worth of the remaining votes) more preferred than candidate C (preferred by 1.0 quotas)?

    I get the system doesn’t work this way, but shouldn’t there be a mechanism to allow the distribution of the left over votes so the most preferred candidate is elected?

    A few years ago the major parties used to say voting for a minor party was a wasted vote but I haven’t heard this recently. But in this scenario you could say voting for candidate A is a wasted vote. I voted for the Greens in Eastern Metropolitan but in retrospect I should have voted for someone else. Also as a Greens voter I’m pretty disappointed with the overall upper house result which strikes me as neither proportional nor preferential (even when accepting the group ticket preferences lodged with VEC).

  23. @caf

    If Labor want to reform it – they will have support of at least *one* micro (Patten).

    Plus Ratnam. That gives them 20. So not the required majority.

    But if Cesar Melhem was telling the truth and there’s bipartisan support for doing it, then we’re all good anyway. The Libs got screwed as much by this as the Greens did, so I can’t see them being opposed. Unless they see the proliferation of right-leaning minors such as LDP, Shooters being useful?

    With regard to Druery’s greed – he’s just made himself half a million bucks. However, I’m wondering if the police investigation currently simmering means that he will commit a crime by accepting the cash?

  24. Happy to see Peulich gone. Not sure that the Lib Dem replacement would be better though.

    Very happy to see Vern Hughes not get a seat. I wouldn’t usually say a gun-toting ex-cop like Bourman is the better option, but in this case…


    So the final numbers are:

    Labor: 18
    Green: 1
    Liberal-National: 11

    – Hinch: 3
    – LDP: 2 (quasi Liberals)
    – Shooters 1 (quasi Nationals / One Nation)
    – Animals 1 (quasi Greens)
    – Reason 1 (formerly Sex – centrist?)
    – Hinch 3 (centrist)
    – Transport 1 (?)

    Labor plus Green plus Animals would need at least one more vote to pass stuff.
    Labor plus Hinch could pass stuff.

    Liberals and Nationals plus LDP and Shooters would need 6 more votes to block.

    Doesn’t look too bad for Labor.

  26. Alex C.

    There is no perfect system. In a tight race between three or more candidates for one spot, there’s no unequivocal means of determining the “most preferred” candidate. At least we don’t have first-past-the-post where it’s possible for the unequivocally least preferred candidate to win (as would have happened in Prahran, for example).

  27. What pretty much every micro is doing is paying to play, with odds of winning a well paying job in the LC for four years and no performance reviews a vastly superior deal to buying $5k worth of scratchies.

    Although in any case, Druery isn’t quite a simple dice spin, some onus still remains on the micros to get at least enough first preferences to avoid elimination through the first couple of rounds before the snowball starts.

    All up, until the voting system changes there’s more than enough incentive for someone with a few spare grand to try their luck with Druery again next time. Hell, it’s a smaller investment than most successful local government councillors spend on their election campaigns.

  28. Ante Meridian

    I know one person who was involved in negotiations in one of the micros. There was a lot of disagreement and fighting within their own ‘party’ about the whole process and payments. And yes they are now feeling like they were just bunnies in a bigger scam where certain groups were favoured in certain regions, perhaps because they paid more for ‘gold class service’.

    So I think any preference whisperer will have a hard time getting similar agreements going for cash next time if the same system is in place.

  29. Best result possible for Labor short of a majority themselves.

    They can pass legislation with any number of combos, playing the minors off against each other.

    They can go left (Green + animals + Patten. They can centre (Hunch + SA).

  30. I predicted 10-12 micros. Looks like it’s 10 after all.

    The Northern Victoria region was a good result for Labor. Kept their two seats from a ‘primary’ of 141662 compared to LNP ‘primary’ of 140522 who got one seat.

    In Northern Metro, Stephen Jolly got 18200 primary votes, but when eliminated after round 178 (out of 192) he had only progressed to 20311.

  31. Did the ALP gain anything by encouraging voters to vote 1 above the line

    Living in Southern Metro I am disgusted that a micro party with less than 4% of the vote pipped the Greens on 14% of teh vote

  32. Congrats to Mr Bowe, Mr Bonham and all the knowledgeable Bludgers who have contributed to the Victorian election threads. It has been particularly illuminating for NSW folks like me. In any case, psephological insights and speculations such as these are preferable to a merry-go-round of repetitiveness regarding the encryption bill that’s prominent on the main Federal thread this week.


  33. The cross bench should be manageable for Labor.

    For any issue they need 3 votes – e.g.
    Socially progressive interventionist (limiting abortion protests) – Greens, AJP, Patten
    Socially progressive libertarian (legalising/decriminalising drugs) – Greens, LibDems
    Populist (Law and Order) – DHJP

  34. It will be interesting to see how long the Derryn Hinch mob hang together before they splinter. What causes them to actually hang together?
    BTW, Derryn in Canberra has been much better than I would have expected. He has been deliberative in his decision making and been committed to making it work.

  35. Labor has governed fairly successfully with a truly difficult upper house over the last four years; it will be interesting to see what (if any) change there is to their governing style now that there is a much easier LegCo to deal with.

    Of course, if they do go ahead with fixing the electoral system, that will infuriate most of the crossbench – unless the smart ones have realised their best chance of re-election is actually by building a profile in these four years since they won’t get a golden run of preferences again.

  36. Kevin and William, do you have any thoughts on what the composition of the Victorian upper house would be if it had the same voting system as the Senate i.e. if there were no group ticket voting and voters had to actually express preferences themselves?

  37. Did the ALP gain anything by encouraging voters to vote 1 above the line

    Possibly – most voters are pretty disengaged, and prefer simplicity. Just voting 1 is the simple solution and is thus chosen by the vast majority of voters.

    Labor went from 14 seats to 18 seats, which was a definite improvement. It would be hard for Labor to ever get to 19 or 20, but given that the Coalition went from 16 to 11, it makes Labor’s position much better in the upper house. The Coalition in the last term were able to join with just one other party (The Greens with 5 members) to have an absolute majority in the upper house which they used to some effect. That is no longer possible – the Coalition would now have to wrangle ten of the other eleven non-Labor members to achieve such a majority in the new upper house, which seems highly unlikely in any circumstance.

  38. Adrian Beaumont:

    Labor won 45% of upper house seats on 39.2% of votes, and the Coalition 27.5% of seats on 29.4% of votes. The Greens won just 2.5% of seats despite 9.3% of votes, while Hinch Justice won 7.5% of seats on 3.8% of votes, and the Lib Dems 5% of seats on 2.5% of votes. Transport Matters and Sustainable Australia combined won 5% of seats on 1.4% of votes. This was not a good advertisement for democracy.

    It is deeply disappointing that Labor made no effort during the last term to reform the flawed group voting ticket system.

    Although the result is a bad outcome for democracy, Labor will probably be happy.
    The table below shows the actual results and what I believe the results would have been had the federal Senate system been in place. Under the Senate system, the most likely outcome would be 19 Labor, 14 Coalition, four Greens, two Shooters and one Hinch Justice. The actual results would probably match the federal Senate results in just two of the eight regions.

  39. And I agree with Adrian’s assessment. Something like that, anyway. With some of the seats where the Greens would have had a primary lead over right-wing micros it is hard to say what would have happened. Probably under a different system not so many micros would have run, and that would have had its own impact.

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