Preferences and preselections

More data on One Nation voters’ newly acquired and surprisingly forceful enthusiasm for preferencing the Coalition.

The Australian Electoral Commission quietly published the full distributions of lower house preferences earlier this week, shedding light on the election’s remaining known unknown: how close One Nation came to maybe pulling off a miracle in Hunter. Joel Fitzgibbon retained the seat for Labor with a margin of 2.98% over the Nationals, landing him on the wrong end of a 9.48% swing – the third biggest of the election after the central Queensland seats of Capricornia and Dawson, the politics of coal mining being the common thread between all three seats.

The wild card in the deck was that Hunter was also the seat where One Nation polled strongest, in what a dare say was a first for a non-Queensland seat – 21.59%, compared with 23.47% for the Nationals and 35.57% for Labor. That raised the question of how One Nation might have done in the final count if they emerged ahead of the Nationals on preferences. The answer is assuredly not-quite-well-enough, but we’ll never know for sure. As preferences from mostly left-leaning minor candidates were distributed, the gap between Nationals and One Nation barely moved, the Nationals gaining 4.81% to reach 28.28% at the final distribution, and One Nation gaining 4.79% to fall short with 26.38%. One Nation preferences then proceeded to flow to the Nationals with noteworthy force, with the final exclusion sending 19,120 votes (71.03%) to the Nationals and 28.97% to Labor.

Speaking of, the flow of minor party preferences between the Coalition and Labor is the one detail of the election result on which the AEC is still holding out. However, as a sequel to last week’s offering on Senate preferences, I offer the following comparison of flows in Queensland in 2016 and 2019. This is based on Senate ballot paper data, observing the number that placed one major party ahead of the either, or included neither major party in their preference order. In the case of the 2016 election, this is based on a sampling of one ballot paper in 50; the 2019 data is from the full set of results.

It has been widely noted that the Coalition enjoyed a greatly improved flow of One Nation preferences in the lower house, but the Senate results offer the interesting twist that Labor’s share hardly changed – evidently many One Nation voters who numbered neither major party in 2016 jumped off the fence and preferenced the Coalition this time. Also notable is that Labor received an even stronger share of Greens preferences than in 2016. If this was reflected nationally, it’s a phenomenon that has passed unnoticed, since the flow of One Nation and United Australia Party preferences was the larger and more telling story.

Other electorally relevant developments of the past week or so:

Laura Jayes of Sky News raises the prospect of the Nationals asserting a claim to the Liberal Senate vacancy created by Arthur Sinodinos’s appointment to Washington. The Nationals lost one of their two New South Wales seats when Fiona Nash fell foul of Section 44 in late 2017, resulting in a recount that delivered to the Liberals a seat that would otherwise have been held by the Nationals until 2022. Since that is also when Sinodinos’s term expires, giving the Nationals the seat would restore an order in which the Nationals held two out of the five Coalition seats.

• Fresh from her win over Tony Abbott in Warringah, The Australian reported on Tuesday that Zali Steggall was refusing to deny suggestions she might be persuaded to join the Liberal Party, although she subsequently complained the paper had twisted her words. A report in The Age today notes both “allies and opponents” believe Steggall will struggle to win re-election as an independent with Abbott out of the picture, and gives cause to doubt she would survive a preselection challenge as a Liberal.

• Labor is undergoing a personnel change in the Victorian Legislative Council after the resignation of Philip Dalidakis, who led the party’s ticket for Southern Metropolitan region at both the 2014 and 2018 elections. Preserving the claim of the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, the national executive is set to anoint Enver Erdogan, a workplace lawyer for Maurice Blackburn, former Moreland councillor and member of the Kurdish community. The Australian reports former Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby has joined the party’s Prahran and Brighton branches in registering displeasure that the national executive is circumventing a rank-and-file plebiscite. Particularly contentious is Erdogan’s record of criticism of Israel, a sore point in a region that encompasses Melbourne’s Jewish stronghold around Caulfield.

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.

1,628 comments on “Preferences and preselections”

  1. Of course Conroy just pinched the idea of an internet filter from Alston, hardly a source of tremendous ideas. Of course Conroy is also the man who devised the NBN on the back of a beer coaster. Now he’s a shill for the gambling lobby. What a career!

  2. guytaur @ #1353 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 12:01 pm

    For those buying Cats it’s just a stunt argument a reminder. The traditional tradition is opposition needs to do vaudeville to get voters attention

    I see that you still haven’t got a clue, guytaur.

    Here, let me explain. The Senate cannot initiate Money Bills. Increasing Newstart would be a Money Bill. Ergo, it was just another attention-seeking pointless stunt by The Greens.

  3. guytaur @ #1355 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 12:04 pm


    Your delusional denial doesn’t help you at all.

    The fact is that as recently as last week the Greens callingbthemselves the real opposition was so laughable the Greens would not have attempted it.
    Today they are.

    I am not the one denying the political shift that represents

    Everyone, except for delusionals like you, laughed at The Greens when they did it.

    Enjoy your splendid isolation, guytaur. The other 90% of Australia isn’t interested. No matter how many snippy retorts you think of. 🙂

  4. Cat

    Let me explain it very slowly to you.

    It was a stunt. Labor and Greens together would not have won the vote. So it’s effects if passed are irrelevant. It’s called vaudeville. The Greens told people on Centrelink we have your backs Labor not so much.

  5. Of course after Conroy’s internet filter failure, he then tried to implement an authoritarian press censor:

    March 2013: Conroy as communications minister champions a Public Interest Media Advocate — a government watchdog that would oversee the regulation of newspaper content — and a new public interest test for significant mergers. The senator is likened to Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin over his effort to control press freedom and the plan is dumped.

  6. lizzie @ #1357 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 12:07 pm

    After the election, I had unblocked some posters who I previously felt were too negative, argumentative, or too hard to read.

    Over the past two days I have regretted this.

    I did that too. However, it’s just the same old, same old, as if trying for the last 9-odd elections to get Australia to see the Greens light and being rejected wasn’t enough to get through their thick heads that people aren’t interested in their radical Left agenda. So, they’re going to just keep banging away for another 3 years…until 90% of the electorate again tell them they aren’t buying what The Greens are selling. 😐

    However, I would also understand if you were talking about me, lizzie. I do get carried away trying to get them to see sense.

  7. C@t

    just another attention-seeking pointless stunt by The Greens.

    The problem is that this is not ‘pointless’, because the Greens count this vote as evidence of same-same and Labor voting against a Newstart rise. They plug this all over social media.

  8. guytaur @ #1362 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 12:13 pm


    Let me explain it very slowly to you.

    It was a stunt. Labor and Greens together would not have won the vote. So it’s effects if passed are irrelevant. It’s called vaudeville. The Greens told people on Centrelink we have your backs Labor not so much.

    And Labor aren’t interested in giving the Coalition one millimetre of an opening to tag Labor with an economically reckless tag. They also aren’t interested in governing from Opposition any more. If the government propose it, Labor will contribute constructively. It’s as simple as that.

    The Greens will never be in a position to govern, so they can be the Cirque Du Soleil of Australian politics.

  9. C@t

    Funnily enough, I have never blocked you, because although you can be a bit quick on the trigger, you are always interesting. 🙂

  10. Economically conservative = economically illiterate

    Cutting or neglecting productivity-enhancing factors is the essence of so-called economic conservatism. It is a dumb thing to do.

  11. guytaur @ #1371 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 12:22 pm


    Running scared from the inevitable LNP scare campaign three years before the next election is just pathetic.

    You got it half right. There WILL be ‘an inevitable scare campaign’ at the next election if Labor have anything to do with The Greens. 🙂

    I don’t think that’s pathetic, but clutching at the straws of condescension when reality doesn’t suit, I can understand why you would.

    Anyway, I don’t have all day to engage in your pointless whataboutery. Ta ta for now. 🙂

  12. guytaur says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 11:34 am
    You need to have a look at Labor history. Try starting with Medicare. The classic pay tax for the service
    I will repeat what I wrote yesterday.
    The ALP needs to show a cynical pubic how they will better manage the economy and services, just arguing for higher taxes or less concessions for people deemed to be rich wont win many federal elections. You keep bringing up Medicare and maybe someone who remembers the 72 campaign can comment but the ALP’s central theme was “its time” because the Libs were worn out after 27 years in office and the Vietnam war had turned many traditional Liberals against the Libs.

  13. Mexican

    Again I refer you to Paul Keating winning the unloveable election.

    Edit: damn autocorrect “ unloseable” election

  14. ” Enshrining people’s freedom to be asshole bovver boy douchebags. Sums up Morrison’s government perfectly.”

    It’s this kind of plenary, crude condemnation that gets a lot of people’s backs up.

    Israel Folau has a perfect right to believe and to state that homosexuals (and others) are destined for Hell.

    Anyone who went through, say, the Catholic education system in the 60s and 70s (and later, for all I know) would have been regularly consigned to fiery damnation in Hell by any number of brothers, nuns, priests, parents, or a random combination of all four demographics.

    But you had to believe in Hell first. And if you didn’t believe in it (or were skeptical), you probably didn’t believe in Heaven either. With Heaven and Hell gone, the Power Of Prayer went as well, and pretty soon you came out of the system cleansed of religion altogether.

    Most people got on with adult life, with no more harm done than a head-shaking wonderment that we *ever* took any of it seriously.

    But to condemn those who still believe in religion and all the Heaven-and-Hell baggage that goes with it as “asshole bovver boy douchebags” is counterproductive. You only annoy people with this judgementalism which, in its own way is just as intolerant as the beliefs and practices that it condemns. You make things worse, not better.

    Folau appears to have broken his contract of employment. Leave it at that and drop the rest. I feel that anyone who jumps off a bridge ostensibly because of what Folau said was probably going to do it anyway.

    Like it or not, agree with him or not, Folau has a perfect right otherwise to both hold and express his religious opinions, as long as he’s prepared to accept the consequences. We can’t insulate others from those opinions completely. Eventually people have to deal with the fact that there’s a lot of ignorance and intolerance out there, and then just get on with life.

  15. The biggest irony is that the ATO was inundated with calls regarding tax cuts that only give a possible at best, a maximum extra of 1,000 dollars.
    You gotta ask how dire are peoples finances these days that they are looking for such meagre amounts.
    Most peoples gas bill for winter will barely make a dent with this sort of refund.

    That is how Labor need to look at things.
    Their cohort of voters are the ones wanting whatever crumbs the govt has offered by way of tax cuts.

    That should be the red flag not the stupid notion by guytaur for Labor to oppose just cos.
    La la land stuff.

  16. BB

    Stop repeating the hate speech. Just because a religion has gotten away with it doesn’t mean it’s not hate speech.

    We know comments like that make young LGBTI people feel excluded. Destroying their self esteem leading to suicide.

    The do no harm has to win.

  17. guytaur says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 10:48 am
    Labor has to work out an alternative agenda that will win. Trying to be Liberal Lite won’t work.
    Daniel Andrews winning rejecting the LNP narrative saw him win government from opposition. No worries about Sovereign Risk claims from him.
    The problem with this comment starts with you referencing a state government, state elections are about schools, hospitals and police but federal elections are about the economy, jobs, welfare and foreign policy etc. Andrews never campaigned on “taxing the rich” or the “top end of town” he didn’t threaten retirees or middle class types with class based envy, he ran a fairly conservative state government agenda with a few social policies thrown in but nothing overly radical.

  18. Quasar

    A little ways back thanks for those World Cup snippets. USA/Netherlands was a game to watch even if the outcome was more or less a done thing. The Dutch did well to hold the USA off from scoring into the second half, they just couldn’t break the US back line sufficient to score.

    All in all it was an amazing tournament and and vindication for women’s sport. Let’s see them get some better pay.

  19. Victoria

    Not lala land stuff. Opposing bad policy that is proven by your example does nothing to say Labor should have voted for it

  20. Mex,

    The ALP needs to show a cynical pubic

    By that do you mean they should drop their trousers/hoist up their skirts at every opportunity?

    That will indeed be an interesting campaign.

  21. Guytaur
    1993 was to the Liberals what 2019 is to the ALP. The ALP ran the mother of all care campaigns against a detailed policy platform that in various ways was offering substantial changes to how the country would look.

  22. Guytaur
    And as I pointed out Andrews didn’t run a class based campaign, but he focused on how his policies are working, the ALP didn’t do that in the recent federal election.

  23. Mexican.

    We agree Labor’s campaign was woeful.

    As I have said of the policies keep them. Then just like Howard did after Fightback campaign on what you want to. We have had almost all the Fightback agenda put in place.

  24. Guytaur, I don’t believe any of it, but I wouldn’t deprive Folau of the right to believe it either. Or to express that belief.

    Like it or not there will always be “hate speech”. But unfortunately one person’s “hate speech” is another person’s sincerely held religious or moral belief.

    If Folau has gone against the policy of his employer by stirring up trouble, that is a completely separate matter.

    I don’t believe gay people (or any of the others listed) are going to Hell. I don’t even believe there IS a Hell. The best way to counter Folau is not to return his condemnation with a counter-condemnation, but to simply ignore him… and to not make the mistake of ever employing him in any position where he can be mistakenly identified as a spokesman for your company’s social and/or religious policies.

  25. Speaking to Guardian Australia after briefing more than 20 government MPs in Canberra on Friday, Porter said the legislation would include a clause relating to indirect discrimination, mirrored on section 7b of the sex discrimination act. He believed this would prevent employers from putting in place a binding condition on all employees – such as occurred with Rugby Australia – that restricted someone from expressing their religious views.

    “This would provide an overarching rule that places limitations on what an employer could do by way of general rules that affected all of their workforce, if those general rules, in an unfair and unreasonable way, had a negative – or what the legislation calls a disadvantaging – effect on a person of faith,” he said.

    “A bill like this would provide a very powerful avenue for someone who believed that a general rule in their employment especially disadvantaged them because of their religion, to argue that that rule was contrary to the act and unfair.”

    I needed this explained to me. For example, could a person insist on having their personal ‘religious’ day off, without losing their job?

    Porter is holding seminars with MPs over the next six to eight weeks and has already revised the legislation multiple times.

  26. My advice to Labor is to run on how cruel and lacking empathy the LNP have. They know it’s their weakness they have already started their defence with their we are not monster articles like that of Dutton.

  27. BB

    You have missed what the debate is about with you belief thing.

    Folau can believe what he likes. It doesn’t make it reality. When spouting that belief publicly has consequences that too is free speech. Especially when until you can come up with evidence their is a god harm caused by the speech has to be restricted. Otherwise we will see ISis terror suspects using freedom of religion as excuse to spout their belief

  28. So Muslims will be free to vilify their employers on Twitter or Instagram for not being ‘respectful’ enough of their beliefs too?

  29. guytaur

    Dutton was subjected to an intense amount of scrutiny and attack in the last election campaign. He won his seat.

  30. guytaur says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Labor have been in existence as a major party. They have lost voters and only won rarely.

    When they did win it was by having strong left wing policies.


    Curtin was opposed by the CPA, who ran strikes to oppose Labor. Gough was vilified as a Right-winger and only very narrowly survived a challenge from Jim Cairns, running for the Left. Hawke was reviled by the Left. Rudd came from the Right.

    Successful Labor leaders are always derided as Right-wingers while in office and revered as Left-wingers after they leave. This is the romanticisation of the past by the delirious.

  31. I wonder what stupid and immature name the Morrison government will come up with for the Religion Bill? The ‘You Better Believe This Is the Way Scott Wants Australia To Be’ Bill?

  32. Zoomster

    Yes. However Labor did not use him nationally to argue what lack of empathy the LNP had. It seems to me they took it for granted that message got out there and thouhgt avoiding immigration was better.

    Despite winning on Medivac.

  33. Briefly

    The policies I have talked about are listed here. Taxes were needed to pay for them.

    The Liberals to try and pretend they could not had to block supply.

    No matter what is said today until supply was blocked paying for them could have happened.

    The LNP have been milking the lie ever since.

    What is crystal clear are the policies Whitlam ran on.

    Edit: I think Labor could run on the two major ones and win again today. That’s how far backwards we have gone since.

  34. Israel Folau has a perfect right to believe and to state that homosexuals (and others) are destined for Hell.

    Sure, but…..
    I wont go into it, however you might be interested in last weeks episode of The Minefield on Radio National. Stephens and the guest had some interesting thoughts on the matter.

    Stephens makes the case that his right to free speech is limited and open to sanction in some circumstances; his fame and his use of social media creates the environment where stating his beliefs can cause significant harm. And, I would add, that as his fame is in part due to his contract with Rugby Australia, it opens up just grounds for them to terminate his contract.

    With free speech and a broad audience and the honour of representing your country in sport comes responsibility.

    And… with Waleed Aly trying to compare Folau with that SBS journo…. OMG! He really struggles when it comes to religious matters. The SBS journo was stating a justifiable opinion based on facts to try to open up debate .

    So I did go into after all.

  35. Pegasus says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 10:10 am
    The Greens have been in existence for 30 years now
    This “wise” person can not even get a basic fact right. The Greens party has existed as a federated party for 27 years.

    27 dismal years for social democracy, economic justice and the environment; 27 dismal years in which the Greens have dedicated themselves to ensuring Labor cannot win elections.

  36. Guytaur
    Whitlam nearly lost the ALP leadership for wanting to remove support for WAP from the policy platform. The rest of what briefly wrote is right, leaders like Hawke and Keating were at times hated by the left and both Hawke and Keating at times maintained tight controls on spending, they were not free spenders. You seem to not get it that while its true many people want services, but many people also see government as wasteful and don’t like paying taxes. If taxation was made optional then very few people would bother paying. A worker at a worksite at 7am in July isn’t doing it so he can pay taxes, he is doing it because he wants money for himself and his/her family.

  37. Mexican

    I get the not wanting to pay taxes thing. It’s not new.

    Remember this is all about Labor voting for the end of progressive taxation by voting for that third tier.

    Labor just rolled over and let it happen with no opposition

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