The New South Wales election again

The dust has settled on the lower house count, but we must wait until Friday to learn if, among other things, David Leyonhjelm’s career in politics will continue beyond the end of the week.

I haven’t had much to contribute on late counting in New South Wales for two reasons, the first of which is that I’ve been busy labouring over my federal election guide (stay tuned). The second is that the process hasn’t excited much interest – the result of the election was clear on the night, almost down to the last seat; that result involved remarkably little change on 2015, with Labor gaining just two seats (Coogee and Lismore), and another two lost by the Nationals to Shooters Fishers and Farmers (Barwon and Murray); and there were no late count surprises, the nearest exception being an unexpectedly close final result in comeback, where Labor candidate Cameron Murphy can now add a 429-vote losing margin to go with the 372-vote one he suffered in 2015.

Seventy-three out of the 93 seats produced Labor-versus-Coalition results at the final count, and their combined result showed a two-party swing to Labor of just 1.0%. We will require a full accounting of preference data to know the final result for certain (and these are, eventually, produced with exquisite detail in New South Wales), but as the final result in 2015 was Coalition 54.32% to Labor 45.68%, we can presumably expect it land somewhere around 53.3-46.7. This is solidly better for the Coalition than was generally anticipated – the last Newspoll had it at 51-49, although it did well enough at predicting the primary vote (41% for the Coalition compared with an election result of 41.6%; 35% for Labor compared with 33.3%; 10% for the Greens compared with 9.6%).

All that remains now is to determine the final result for the Legislative Council, on which the button will be pressed on Friday. The best places to look here are Kevin Bonham’s regular updates and the Twitter account of Ross Leedham. Even at this late stage, it would seem that the raw primary vote figures are an unreliable guide, because most of the outstanding votes are either absents or concentrated in non-Sydney seats or some combination of the two. Furthermore, Antony Green has related from party sources that twice as many voters have taken the effort to go beyond a first preference vote at this time, and we can only guess at this stage where they are likely to go.

Based on the progress primary vote totals, you would think the most likely result was seven seats apiece for the Coalition and Labor, two each for the Greens and One Nation, and one each for Shooters Fishers and Farmers, the Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party. However, Ross Leedham’s efforts to fill the gaps in the count suggest the Coalition should win an eighth seat, and the experience of preference flows in 2015 suggests Animal Justice should be well in contention as well. Keep Sydney Open seem to my eye to dropped out of contention, but it appears the current numbers may be selling them short as many of the outstanding votes are absents, most of which come from the party’s home turf in Sydney.

As to who might get squeezed out, my reading of the situation is that preferences should ensure Labor’s seventh seat; that One Nation’s second candidate should make it, based on my presumption that their high name recognition will translate into a solid flow of preferences; and that the last seat is a three or maybe four horse race in which David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats is the front-runner, ahead of the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and, maybe, Keep Sydney Open. However, there’s a fair bit of speculative guesswork in all this, so only time will tell.

The table below shows the latest raw results from the progress count, in percentages and quotas; the most recent projection from Ross Leedham; Kevin Bonham’s calculation of how many quotas the various contenders gained on preferences in 2015, where party-equivalent figures are available, and keeping in mind that we can apparently expect about 60% more of these this time; party seat counts for 19 seats that seem definite to me (it’s possible that I’m being generous to Labor here); and a marker for parties in contention to win the two final seats.

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.

33 comments on “The New South Wales election again”

  1. Certainly a tough one and the button press will be interesting.

    Not sure what use prior years gains from preferences is, as it all depends on what leftover others have as to how they get distributed (and how much people follow HTV – seemingly not much). At best it’s a guide as to the maximum amount a party can gain.

    Suspect also some confusion on preference with the requirement to only list 1 in NSW but 1-6 Federally.

    I think you possibly need to look a little more on left v right preferences to understand how the button press may work.

    On the left, Greens might have 0.1 leftover and preferenced HTV to VEP, AJP, KSO then Labor. VEP no-one. SUSA had KSO, AJP. AJP had KSO. Labor had Greens then KSO.
    So as things roll-up KSO might get a boost, particularly from SUSA to get back above AJP- but I’d think it’s between AJP and KSO.

    Open question as to how the minor left votes flow to Labor but they might get help from ON if they fall.

    On the right, SFF at 0.2 didn’t list prefs but I’d expect some flow to ON and LNP. CDP and LNP listed each other so if CDP is excluded that will likely flow to LNP and deliver the 8th. ON didn’t list anyone but generally favours the LNP versus Labor (about 55-45 in prior elections)

  2. I have a question. Hypothetically speaking, IF someone was to become a NSW MP, then be found guilty of a crime such as defamation after taking office, would that be grounds for dismissal from the NSW parliament, either automatically by disqualification or by a vote of the parliament? From my understanding, it is much easier for someone to be removed from the NSW parliament than it is to remove them from the federal parliament.


    The Houses of the Legislature of New South Wales have inherent or implied power to exclude temporarily or permanently by suspension or expulsion members whose conduct is resolved to be such:

    (1) As to render them unfit to perform their high responsibilities and functions in the Council as Members.

    (2) As would prevent the Council and other Members thereof from conducting its deliberations and exercising its functions with mutual respect, trust and candour

    (3) As would cause to be suspect its honour and the good faith of its deliberations.

    (4) As would tend to bring the Council into disrepute and would lower its authority and dignity unless it was so preserved and maintained (at 396).

    If, hypothetically, someone was to be found guilty of a crime such as defamation, then I would argue that that would satisfy sections 2 and 4 above as it would bring the parliament into disrepute and greatly diminish it’s dignity.

    Whether the parliament would act in such a hypothetical situation is a totally different story.

    Just a random question I had for no particular reason…

  3. Extremely messy count. It may be that the Others count in the initial count is a slight overcount and contains a few ATL votes for the big 7, which would explain (for instance) CDP so far never quite coming down to their initial count total. If that’s the case ALP and PHON are a bit better placed, CDP should start with a bit of a lead over LDP (but I’m going to look at Senate 2016 to see how durable that might be), and AJP should start in front of KSO unless the latter get a big preference surge.

  4. Three things from William Bowe analysis:
    1. In 73 out of 93 seats, it is a contest between ALP Vs LNP i.e straight contest is only in about 75% of seats which is pathetic from ALP point of view.
    2. 2PP is 53-47 in favour of LNP, which is again pathetic from ALP point of view after all the blunders by LNP government.
    3. ALP gained only 1% gain after 2 terms and its PV is 33.2, which are really pathetic.

  5. Don’t like Leyonhjelm’s position at all now. Think it’s probably now CDP vs AJP for the final seat. Unless they tank in the final 300K, both these parties seem to have been disproportionately undercounted as a result of errors in the initial count. Easy to see how it occurs – you don’t see votes for them often, you forget they’re one of the big seven maybe, and the odd vote for them winds up in the Others pile.

  6. Tetsujin, I’m no expert on the NSW parliament’s rules, but from what I read at their website linked above I understand that someone (note I deliberately made no reference to any specific case) wouldn’t actually need to be guilty of a crime for the parliament to be able to remove them. “Bringing the parliament into disrepute” seems to be all that is required. Of course, the parliament would have to actually vote to remove someone, which would be very unlikely to happen, especially if, hypothetically, the person in question was a right winger and the right controls a majority in the parliament. Still, it seems the option would be open to them.

  7. “Don’t like Leyonhjelm’s position at all now. Think it’s probably now CDP vs AJP for the final seat.”

    Excellent. Go AJP! Hope my preference helps them get over the line.

  8. Firefox,

    No matter what you have read, parliament voting to remove a member would be highly controversial, and likely to be perceived as undemocratic. You (and I) may not like Leyenholm (or Latham), but a (small) section of voters voted for him, and their votes should be respected (and no, I have no interest in any sophistry that LDP or ON voters did not expect their votes would elect the top person in their ticket). Democracy means we need to respect that people will elect worthless spongers – their voters probably would claim the same for other candidates.

    There will be some history and/or jurisprudence on that section, but any incidents will be old (and incidentally highly likely to be directed at people on the ‘left’ of the spectrum). Defamation, which is in any event a civil matter, probably won’t cut it.

  9. The last person expelled was the Country Party MLC Alexander Armstrong in 1969. It was alleged he had threatened to kill his business partner the Gold Coast property spiv, Alexander Barton. The allegation came out in a civil rather than a criminal case which was fought all the way to the Privy Council. Armstrong was escorted from the chamber by Black Rod.

  10. I’m just going off what it says on the NSW parliament’s website. If bringing the parliament into disrepute is grounds for dismissal then that’s that. Many people had a problem when all the federal parliamentarians who were ruled ineligible by s44 in the citizenship drama were removed, but whether we like it or not, those are the laws that govern the parliament. If someone brings the NSW parliament into disrepute then they can be removed from parliament. It won’t happen but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen or shouldn’t happen when warranted.

  11. “Bringing into disrepute” is vague wording, so any action will be based on precedent & the precedent is that parliamentarians are only expelled for serious offences (like threatening to kill someone).

    The civil dispute between Leyonhjelm and Hanson-Young won’t be considered serious enough for Leyonhjelm to be expelled if he loses the court battle.

    Regarding the S44 cases, both the ALP and the Coalition took great care to respect parliamentary norms and there were clear lines that both parties were unwilling to cross.

  12. I do definitely agree that “bringing into disrepute” is quite vague and open to wide interpretation. That’s why I think it could be applied in some cases. Whether an issue is serious enough to warrant expulsion is equally open to interpretation.

    Women have the right to be able to do their job without being subjected to degrading comments about their sexuality. Were someone to violate that right, I most certainly think that constitutes bringing the parliament into disrepute.

    Labor and the Coalition only became careful with one another during the S44 drama after they discovered they both had a lot to lose. At first when the sole focus was on Ludlam and Waters of the Greens it was open season. I remember being mercilessly trolled and laughed at about how the Greens were supposedly incompetent for allowing something like that to happen. The trolling ended as quickly as it began. As it turned out, the two Greens ended up being the ones who acted with integrity. They put the Australian constitution ahead of their own careers, owned up straight away, and then resigned immediately. They didn’t desperately try to cling to their jobs like those from the other parties did.

  13. I made a calculation error last night that led me to conclude Leyonhjelm had basically no chance, but even so he’s probably at best 50-50 to get over CDP and not that good to hold off AJP. I haven’t done super-detailed modelling on it yet but I suspect AJP may beat both CDP and LDP as both these parties have a history of poor performance and poor transfer to each other on preferences. Also the preference pool is larger, preferencing rates have doubled and the preference pool is quite left-wing. As against that, the Green vote is down just a little bit and they were really good for AJP last time.

    In terms of my own biases, I’d prefer LDP to CDP or PHON, but LDP vs AJP I’m not sure about; both have some serious negatives. I’d greatly prefer KSO to win to any of these but that currently looks highly unlikely.

  14. Kevin, does the fact that the Coalition and Labor’s 8th and 7th candidates respectively will remain in the count for a long while (even though their seats aren’t really in doubt) mean that they’ll soak up a lot of the preferences that might be going around?

    I thought we’d seen from the Senate election under the new rules that a lot of preferences from all sources tend to go to the majors?

  15. Yes. The majors will keep soaking preferences and Labor especially should get more than the smaller parties. With the rate of exhaust I’m doubtful either of them will actually cross quota.

    One Nation did really well on preferences in the Senate 2016 but apart from SFF they don’t really have any friends in this cutup so I don’t think they’ll be so amazing here. But SFF should give them enough to cancel out losing whatever they lose off Latham’s leakage and keep them in front of CDP.

  16. Monday but unsure of the time. (The button is actually just a click or return on a computer. Then it spits out the result. Many versions of this software can do the calculation more or less instantly but are programmed to spit out the results more slowly for extra drama for those watching!)

  17. LC button press has happened. Last four seats went to Liberals, Labor, One Nation, Animal Justice (so both the CDP and Leyenholm miss out).

    Liberal 8
    Labor 7
    Greens 2
    One Nation 2
    SFF 1
    AJP 1

  18. @Simon: So, by my count, that translates to these changes between old and new LCs:

    L/NP: -3 seats (to 17)
    ALP: +2 seats (to 14)
    GRN: -1 seat (to 4)
    ONP: +2 seats (to 2)
    CDP: -1 seat (to 1)
    AJP: +1 seat (to 2)
    SFF +/- 0 (to 2)

    A less friendly LegCo for Gladys, to be sure! Two of the Coalition’s losses can be made up for with One Nation (who may as well be Coalition, for all PH’s blathering), but the third, combined with the CDP losing a seat to the AJP, leaves them in trouble. Now they need One Nation (easy), CDP (easy) AND SFF (less easy) to get to a majority for their wrecking; before, they only needed the CDP.

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