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. sprocket_ says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    I see nath is putting in another Trojan effort posting here all day.

    Don’t you have anything better to do? Other than telling us about how awful Shorten/unions/ALP/other contributors to this blog are?
    Its no biggie to fire off a few posts throughout the day. I’m far from being in the top 20 prolific posters. Also, tracking someones activity on PB does not indicate a very active day for yourself. I mean, I’ve never counted/cared about how many times someone has posted. Unless it was to guess that C@t may have beaten a personal record or something.

  2. lizzie @ #1554 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 6:23 pm

    Off topic but I am watching The Drum and Bornstein has just provided an excellent summary of the effect the LNP govt has had (over the years) on Unions, their declining membership and their bargaining power.
    But Stan Grant just loves the sound of his own voice.

    Stan Grant is a Liberal. Nearly stood in Reid.

  3. sprocket_ says:
    Don’t you have anything better to do? Other than telling us about how awful Shorten/unions/ALP/other contributors to this blog are?
    The self entitlement of some of the ALP stooges on here is beyond amusing. They actually believe that this is their blog and how dare anyone appear on here who does not share in their hive mind.

  4. Wondering, we do have workplace laws that protect us from harassment and bullying in the workplace. If a colleague posts something nasty about, say, your skin colour on social media and nobody notices (as it is restricted to that persons friends and family) then that would be fine. But if the post is read by other colleagues, bosses, junior staff and clients…. what then? Can they be sacked if they kept doing it despite warnings?

  5. I think it is true that the Greens’ Adani convoy was a form of virtue signalling that aimed to mobilise existing supporters. It was not an exercise in persuasion or community education.

    It would have been better to visit the communities affected by the Adani project in a spirit of humility and learning.

    The Greens should have spent months engaging with those communities to learn about their fears, hopes, and needs.

    The Greens should have researched the numbers and types of jobs that would be relevant and helpful to these communities.

    Then they could have campaigned on federal government job creation so that many of the required jobs are created directly by the government. They could have used economic modelling to estimate how many private sector jobs would be crowded in by the public sector spending. The fiscal multiplier would be significant. There should be some analysis of what kinds of jobs the private sector would likely create.

    If you just swan about in a fleet of electric cars and denounce a coal mine and talk vaguely about renewable energy and green jobs, that isn’t very persuasive.

    For most people the phrase “green jobs” conjures images of installing solar panels and erecting wind turbines.

    We need to create more of those jobs but we also need to create more jobs of all kinds. Including conventional jobs that are not directly related to the environment.

    The Greens don’t hammer this point enough when they address the jobs aspect of opposing new thermal coal mines.

    The Adani coal mine will create a small number of jobs. It will contribute to destroying the planet. It should be opposed.

    The federal government should be using its fiscal powers to carpet bomb these communities and many others across the nation with large numbers of jobs that protect, nurture, develop, and help people.

    There are vast unmet needs in these communities. Federal government job creation is a must.

  6. C@t

    He has, my scroll wheel is smoking through reviewing the otherwise useful contributions today, and having to get it spinning with the blog carpet bombing of nath. Fair Dinkum!

  7. C@t

    I am not always brilliant at picking the political leanings of panel adjudicators, as I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt (yes of course he/he’s being neutral), but Grant brings every flippin contribution back for his own chance to give a dissertation on the question, making sure that the Lib’s view is displayed. On other panels, the conversation can be more free-flowing and interesting. Grrr.

  8. Equality Australia’s view:

    A government push to prevent “indirect” religious discrimination needs to be matched with new federal protections against hate speech and vilification, LGBTQI advocacy group Equality Australia says.
    But amid calls from conservative MPs for a religious freedom bill rather than just a “defensive” bill that protects against discrimination, LGBTQI advocates are warning of “panic” among minority groups of the potential for the bill to do harm.

    Equality Australia’s director of legal advocacy, Lee Carnie, also raised concern that proposed new laws could override existing state legislation aimed at protecting minority groups against vilification.

  9. Psyclaw, if you weren’t such a pompous twit it’d be sad.

    I think that Folau’s point is that gay people are NOT born gay, and that they CAN unlearn their sinful ways if they apply themselves to prayer and repenting. Otherwise it’s off to Hell for them.

    I’m not saying that I agree with Folau. I’ve never looked into, nor cared about the subject of what makes men gay all that deeply. I don’t know whether that makes me a sinner, or not.

    But what I DO know is that Folau seems to believe what HE says, just as you seem to believe what YOU say. Your disagreement is therefore clearly fundamental.

    So there we have it: two people with irreconcilable differences, you and Folau, and someone – me – in the middle, not taking either side, but wishing the aforementioned antagonists could respect each other’s right to hold an opinion (and preferably keep out of each other’s way, because pouring hellfire and brimstone on each other only brings out the culture warriors and head-kickers from both sides of the moral swamp).

    And yes, I AM an old white man (by your immature, adolescent estimation anyway). I have no choice about being in that state. So why do you bring it up, as if I DO have a choice about it? You say it as if you think it will insult me. But I thought you were all for defending people who had no choice but to be what God and/or Gaia made them be?

    I’m confused. You don’t appear to apply the same test to us Old Hetero White Men as you do to our hard-done-by Gay Brothers and sisters.

    I apply no test to either. Accepting all people as simpky human beings, full of faults, goodness and fallibility is the best way to get ahead in my book.

  10. I’m in a talkative mood today. Many days I hardly post anything. I will leave now, as your aim of driving people away from the blog coincides with my dinner and night time activities.

  11. lizzie

    Agree, Grant is a bit of a bore isn’t he. Remember he was summoned by Morrison to join the Libs at the last election but turned the it down. You’d have to wonder how the offer came about.


    The attempts to pressure charities into political silence don’t happen in isolation

    While charities must pass a ‘public benefit’ test, corporations can spend billions on lobbying for their vested self-interest
    The reality is that in Australia a charity who states their opinion about what potential government will be better for the people, communities or environment they serve or represent risks deregistration – which means the people and organisations with the most insight, the closest relationships and the most accurate data being unable to clearly state which party they think will deliver the best outcomes in the area of their expertise.

    In our democracy, an environmental group can quietly plant trees but cannot say: “If you want to save this forest you will need to vote for The Forest Saving Party” – even if the published policy platforms and public statements of the various political parties demonstrate this as an objective truth. Charities cannot donate to political parties, cannot support a candidate, cannot support a political party, cannot hand out how to vote cards. They may campaign for people to “vote to end homelessness” but not say which party’s policies they believe will lead to that outcome.

    There are no such restrictions on corporations, industry groups, the Pharmacy Guild, the Minerals Council of Australia or the gambling industry who are able to influence public policy, voter intentions and donate to parties and candidates freely. While charities must pass a “public benefit” test to maintain their tax-deductible status – and maintain fierce non-partisanship, corporations can spend billions on lobbying for their vested self-interest, claim it as a tax deduction and freely donate to the candidates and party that will advance their interests.

    And who supports the status quo?

  13. guytaur says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm
    Sir Henry.

    What policies were the campaign policies?

    That’s whats at issue. Not what faction Whitlam was in.
    C@tmomma says:
    Monday, July 8, 2019 at 3:41 pm
    Sir Henry Parkes,
    I’m guessing one of those Victorian Lefties was Moss Cass, plus various Left Union bosses?
    In the 1972 election Whitlam campaigned on universal health (Medibank; precursor of Medicare), free university tuition, abolishing conscription and White Australia, to name the ones I can remember.
    The point is, the far Left didn’t seem all that impressed. They wanted him to abolish all funding for private education, which would almost certainly have lost Labor the election, and to talk more about the great workers’ revolution, which only they could see coming and which terrified most Australians, including most workers.
    C@t, I wasn’t aware that Moss Cass was part of this crowd. He later became a minister in the Whitlam government after all. I was thinking of such luminaries as Bill Hartley and George Crawford, who were part of the ALP’s organisational wing and ran a cosy little Socialist Left cabal. A cabal which often delighted in making embarrassing comments about Labor just before an election.

  14. lizzie @ #1505 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 6:36 pm


    Some days, a puppy photo is needed to bring us all down to earth.

    My daughter visiting last night had not a puppy or bunny picture on her phone for me. My pretended dismay fooled nobody.
    On the other hand when the also visiting Labrador found her way to my bedroom I annouced that she obviously loved me and wants to book in.
    Not so – Gracie had just found an open packet of tater crisps.
    :sad and disappointed emoji:

  15. Sir Henry.

    That’s my point. It’s just Labor going back to what worked. Not reinventing the wheel.

    Kind of like the Democrats going for the Green New Deal.

    All they did there was marry Green with Infrastructure. I think Labor can manage it if it works in the US and has worked here. Of course we have retained Medicare. It would be nice to add free public education too.
    My point being as this election proved. No tax increases yet voters thought Labor had them anyway.

  16. Meanwhile in corporate land, Trump’s banker Deutsche are sharpening the knife..

    “Deutsche Bank has made the first of the 18,000 job cuts announced on Sunday as part of a radical reorganisation.

    Teams of share traders in Tokyo and other offices in Asia were told on Monday that their jobs were going.

    Shares in Deutsche Bank were about 3% higher in Frankfurt as investors reacted to the shake-up.
    A spokesperson said the aim of the changes, which will shrink its investment banking business, was to make the bank “leaner and stronger”.

    Deutsche Bank is yet to specify exactly where the rest of the jobs will be lost.

    But it will exit activities related to trading shares, much of which takes place in London and New York.
    With almost 8,000 staff, Deutsche Bank is one of the biggest employers in the City of London.
    “We will retain a significant presence here and remain a close partner to our UK clients and to international institutions that want to access the London market,” it said in a statement on Monday.

  17. Z
    But would you agree to the state government putting a clause in your teaching contract saying you couldn’t make or “like” the comments Folau did after work? That’s the main question.

  18. sprocket

    ‘Will the Greens review into the election debacle be made public?’

    Of course. The Greens will present it at their next conference, which is, of course, in the interests of transparency, honesty and openness… oh, sorry, forget I spoke.

  19. Greens vote went up nationally in both Senate and Reps. Record vote in Qld I think.

    Seems to have been a bump in interest and members since then too it seems

    Renewables roll on, issues of drought and climate, extinctions don’t stop

  20. If lobby groups (of all colours) were unable to contribute to political parties and the amount allowed to be spent on campaigns was capped, this would not prevent a maverick like Palmer from throwing rules to the wind (as he has just done).

  21. Diog

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that it’s quite common for someone to be expected to trade away aspects of their freedom of speech/action for their work.

    Not being allowed to say something because your doing so impairs their right to privacy is still an impingement on my freedom of speech.

  22. guytaur
    I think a similarity with Whitlam’s times and our own is the incessant demand from “pure hearts” that Labor should adopt policies or positions which are unpopular and which they have no hope of implementing.
    Just as the Socialist Left was insisting that abolishing state aid for private schools was the most important issue of the day, some are now insisting that Labor should have voted against the ENTIRE tax package in the Senate, even though that would enable the government to forever tag Labor as opposing tax relief for low and middle income earners. The fact that Labor, even with the Greens, would not have had the numbers to do it makes it an even more pointless, empty gesture.

  23. Sir Henry

    Nah the argument is the top tier should have been a deal breaker. That is under no circumstances would Labor vote for it. Just like May’s red lines but a better outcome.

    As it was Labor voted for the end of progressive taxation

  24. BB

    The former poster Bemused had you summed up. You will recall what he called you, I’m sure.

    So glad to see you have claimed Old White Hetero Man victimhood.

    BTW, in this your third ignorant post you have missed the point. Totally.

    Suggesting in any way that the path hetero persons walk as children as their sexuality emerges is equivalent to the path walked by gay children is pig ignorance in the extreme.

    But to suggest that Old White Hetero men need to be supported, justified, protected or defended is just pathetic.

  25. If you work at a Bakers Delight and one day the franchisee notices a Greens sticker on your car, and he terminates you while fulminating against the perfidy of Lib-kin, is this a lawful termination in Australia?

  26. Another perfect day in Morristan draws to a close and not a creature was stirring, not even her majesties opposition the you beaut newly minted Labor leadership.
    Shhh, careful you might wake them.

  27. Meanwhile in corporate land, Trump’s banker Deutsche are sharpening the knife..

    “Deutsche Bank has made the first of the 18,000 job cuts announced on Sunday as part of a radical reorganisation.

    Some of those Deutsche Bank sackings were in Sydney today.

  28. C@t


    As many have said on all social media platforms, it is ordinary people who should be protected from the imposition of religious nuttery on us. And especially in the form of legislation.

    If Porter’s legislation is to be in anyway fair to people committed to secular government it will be a miracle (insert paradox emoji).

    I just can’t conceive of a form of words that protects these so called religious rights which are democratic and truly secular.

  29. Psyclaw @ #1538 Monday, July 8th, 2019 – 7:22 pm


    The former poster Bemused had you summed up. You will recall what he called you, I’m sure.

    So glad to see you have claimed Old White Hetero Man victimhood.

    BTW, in this your third ignorant post you have missed the point. Totally.

    Suggesting in any way that the path hetero persons walk as children as their sexuality emerges is equivalent to the path walked by gay children is pig ignorance in the extreme.

    But to suggest that Old White Hetero men need to be supported, justified, protected or defended is just pathetic.

    bemused was scum and your endorsement of his views is more a reflection of you than BB.

    Remember, the recipe for your perpetual ignorance is to be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.

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