Click here for full display of results.
Labor’s Joel Bowden finished the evening with a lead of 170 votes (2.6%) over Steven Klose of the Territory Alliance on the preference count, with probably only a few dozen votes outstanding. The Country Liberal Party humiliatingly finished in fourth place, with the Greens doing well to maintain their 17% share of the vote despite the expansion of the field from three candidates to seven. Together with the 21.4% slump in the Labor primary vote, the result is another illustration of the pronounced appetite voters have developed for minor parties when given a sufficient range of options. Another candidate, Braedon Earley, polled 10.4% on an anti-fracking platform, presumably benefiting from a considerable constituency hostile to both fracking and the Greens.
Labor was clearly buoyed by the strength of its candidate, a former Richmond AFL player and general secretary of Unions NT. While the Greens’ preference recommendation may have cut as much as 4% from the Labor margin, this was negated by the CLP’s equally curious decision to put Labor second, reflected in a near 50-50 split of their preferences (going off scrutineering figures obtained by Antony Green). A more normal CLP preference split would almost certainly have delivered the seat to the Territory Alliance — a result that perhaps scared the CLP more than a Labor win, potentially threatening their status as the main conservative party.
The result makes it very hard to determine how the August election might look. For all the strength of the Territory Alliance’s performance, its challenge in actually winning seats remains formidable — though perhaps not insurmountable if their near-success at the by-election inspires a bandwagon effect. The other notably strong performer, the Greens, do not enjoy the localised critical mass of support needed to win seats. However, it is clear both that voters are willing to turn away from the government, and that a CLP that can boast only two members of parliament is not seen as a credible alternative. The likeliest possibilities are either a bare Labor majority or a hung parliament with the Territory Alliance and independents as kingmakers or perhaps even coalition partners.
8.14pm. Eighty postal votes have been added — a bit more than Antony figured — on both the primary and two-party vote, breaking 47-33 to Labor.
8.11pm. My probability estimate assumes 304 outstanding votes, which is somewhat arbitrary. To the extent that that’s an overstatement, the remaining 1.9% probability of a Labor defeat disappears.
8.05pm. Rapid Creek EVC now in on two-party preferred, paring back my projection of Labor’s winning margin to 2.0%. They have a raw lead of 156 votes, with only 50 votes outstanding plus whatever the Darwin area mobile team will amount to, which probably isn’t much (and which I don’t expect will be favourable to conservatives).
7.57pm. Possible wild card: anti-fracking independent Braedon Earley’s preferences flowing heavily to the Greens, putting them ahead of the Territory Alliance, and after that who knows. But a long shot on both counts.
7.53pm. On Twitter, Antony relates there will only be about 50 postals, and a Northern Territory News reports Labor is about to claim victory.
7.47pm. Antony Green and I are of one mind: “I have three different methods for predicting the Johnston by-election result, and all three are predicting Labor to win with 52.6% after preferences.”
7.46pm. Rapid Creek EVC primary vote in, resulting in little change to the overall picture.
7.39pm. Moil booth has reported on two-party, behaving as my model expected to, leaving the Labor winning margin all but unchanged on 2.3%. Labor win probability now up to 98%, with the Rapid Creek EVC the only substantial unreported booth. However, this is a new booth that I’ve dealt with by dividing the results of the Casuarina EVC between the two, and it can’t be ruled out that its behaviour won’t quite be the same.
7.25pm. Millner two-party result in, with a slightly weaker preference flow from elsewhere bringing the projected Labor margin back from 3.0% to 2.4%. But because there are fewer votes outstanding now, this hasn’t changed my model’s estimation of a Labor win probability around 95%.
7.19pm. Moil booth added on the primary vote, and while it has the biggest primary vote swing against Labor so far, it hasn’t fundamentally changed the situation, projecting a 3.0% Labor winning margin. But for what it’s worth, the Labor win probability is back inside 95%.
7.00pm. The Casuarina pre-poll booth is in, on primary and two-party, and it’s firming up as a Labor-versus-Territory Alliance contest with the CLP still in fourth place. These numbers haven’t rocked my preference projection too hard, which is to say that Labor looks to be retaining a solid flow of Greens preferences despite the how-to-vote card. My model says Labor are very likely to win, with a projected 3.5% winning margin, but I’d still be conservative about interpreting it.
6.55pm. With that said, the Greens are doing well — their vote is up despite the fact they were the only minor party option in the field in 2016, compared with five this time, and they’re actually ahead of the CLP. So that slump in the Labor primary vote could partly be votes going to the Greens and coming back to them on preferences.
6.52pm. The Millner booth is now in — Territory Alliance continues to outpoll the CLP, while Labor’s primary vote has slumped by 20.7%. My projections remain rosy for Labor, but that assumes they will get 56% of preferences which I’m pretty sure won’t happen, because that’s calculated off a Darwin EVC result that had the CLP on 7.6%, whereas the Millner result is twice as much. So treat it with a grain of salt until we get the Millner two-party count.
6.49pm. Sorry, I had that the wrong way around — it’s Labor leading 40-26. And I think by results display is working now, and while it’s almost giving it to Labor, obviously you would want more numbers. Part of the equation here is that Labor got 16 minor party and independent preferences and the Territory Alliance got 11, which needless to say isn’t much to go on.
6.40pm. The two-party count for Darwin ECV bodes well for the Territory Alliance, who lead 40-26 — but not for my results display, which has tanked under the pressure of having the parties other than I expected them to be. Will see if I can fix.
6.28pm. The NTEC’s results are on display now here, and we have 66 votes from the Darwin pre-poll centre. Obviously that’s not much to go on, but it’s interesting that the Territory Alliance has 15 votes to the CLP’s five. So far so good for my own results display — I’m projecting a 36.6% primary vote for Labor, which suggests they’re in trouble in less preferences behave in an unanticipated fashion.
6.20pm. Hopefully the plan is for the NTEC results display to come to life when there is actually a result to report. I will try to just swap Territory Alliance for CLP in my two-party calculations, so the latter’s historic results are used to calculate the swing for the former, but I don’t know how smoothly that’s going to run. That’s assuming that the NTEC is planning on publishing anything …
6.16pm. Still no sign of any results facility on the NTEC site, and no media feed in operation. I asked Antony Green on Twitter where he would be getting his results from, and his answer was “I don’t know yet”.
6pm. And they’re off. Antony Green relates on Twitter that the Northern Territory Electoral Commission have surprisingly decided to make their indicative count between Labor and the Territory Alliance, which means I won’t be able to calculate two-party swings. There’s also no sign of any results display on their website.
Today is the day of the Northern Territory’s Johnston by-election, which also happens to the first election of any kind in Australia above local government level since the federal election last May. Labor holds the northern Darwin seat by a margin of 14.7%, but the seat is less secure for them than this makes it appear owing to the scale of the Labor landslide in 2016 and the importance of local and candidate factors in the territory’s boutique electorates, which have only around 5000 voters.
A very substantial swing against Labor can be anticipated due to the departure of sitting member of Ken Vowles and his estrangement from the party, together with the general difficulties that have beset Michael Gunner’s Labor government since it came to power in 2016. There is also the fact that the Greens are instructing voters to put Labor last in protest over the government’s lifting of a moratorium on gas fracking exploration, although the effect of this is limited by a prohibition on disseminating how-to-vote cards near polling places.
All of this bodes well for the opposition Country Liberal Party, although they face opposition for the conservative vote from Territory Alliance, a new party founded by former CLP Chief Minister and now independent MP Terry Mills which is making its electoral debut. For what’s it’s worth, the latter’s candidate is the $1.70 favourite at Sportsbet, which is offering $1.90 for Labor and $2.75 for the CLP.
Live coverage will follow here upon the closure of polling at 6pm, encompassing analysis on this post and a detailed display of results that is ready to go here. Naturally though, in an electorate this small there are only so many results to follow – two election day polling booths plus two pre-poll booths, with the latter accounting for an ever increasing share of the action.
96 comments on “Johnston by-election live”
That’s 205 Greens voters, though probably some donkeys
Antony Green @AntonyGreenABC
If Labor wins the Johnston by-election, it will only be because they had a very high profile candidate in Joel Bowden. And because voters can avoid having to receive a how-to-vote. It is a terrible result for the CLP. August’s Territory election could be wild.
What can we say? Fracking is not popular, Greens retained their support despite a one issue party running on a key platform for them, CLP is not popular, conservatives are split, ALP government is not popular – unhappiness all round in the electorate
In NSW where we have optional preferential, only about 50% of greens preferences flow to Labor.
FWIW the CLP card had Labor second.
We don’t actually know how Greens preferences are splitting.
Being a bit lazy here, but can anyone give me a brief history of Territory Alliance?
Also why have they had a 22% swing towards them?
Also, why does it take so long to count 5 K votes? I am sure I have scrutineered booths with votes of around 1 K.
Clearly, from this result Scott Morrison must be looking over his shoulder.
If it’s a ALP / Green 2cp: with TA and Earley both putting Labor last on their HTV’s, the CLP could end up saving the day for Labor. Funny sort of thing for the (nominal) opposition to be doing. Considering their HTV was almost a donkey vote (7 1 2 3 45 6), it looks like they didn’t expect to be outside the top two. Imagine trying to spin that: “Labor’s vote was CRUSHED! But they still won because… uhh… we helped them.” However it ends up, they’ll be feeling pretty stupid after tonight.
Its a party formed by former Chief Minister Mills who was depised by Giles very shortly inti the term of the last parliament. Mills was on a trade mission to Japan when it happened iirc.
Klose, the TA byelection candidate, was the CLP candidate in 2016.
So basically, thr CLP with a new logo. And a seething mutual hatred.
For thay wild card situatiomn to work, wouldn’t the Greens have to maintain a lead over Territory Alliance afterr thw CLP is distributed? I think that’s very unlikely.
The CLP’s preferences (assuming the card gets followed, of course) go straight to Labor, so they’re neutral with respect to a TA / Green tussle for second. It’s Earley’s vote that’ll make the difference. He got 10.5%, and the Greens are 5% behind TA. (Small fry independents got another 4%, but that’ll probably scatter every which way.). It’d be strange, but far from impossible.
The greens need to be thanked for distancing themselves from labor.
I appreciate that BoP, but that requires those CLP voters to get the HTV and even when they do, put a lifetime of putting Labor last-ish behind them.
Stranger things have happened, but I’d be very surprised.
How often do candidates win with < 1000 primary votes?
Shellbell: Ricky Muir? 😛
Considering there’s less people in Johnston than my local council ward, it’s just a side effect of the NT being small. 30% for a winner happens enough to not be an oddity (any time the vote gets really split). 20% and/or doing it from third place (like Andrew Wilkie in Denison the first time round): now you’re talking.
It looks as though the number of people who actually voted in the by election will be less than 4 000. That would be only an 80% turnout.
Am I missing something? Or is this about what you expect in these circumstances?
God knows why the NT has a 25 seat Parliament … I reckon that 9 to 13 seats would be more than sufficient.
Andrew_Earlwood @ #68 Saturday, February 29th, 2020 – 11:22 pm
Politics by Geography is always a pain.
Check this out:
Maximum 4000 electors to service. $156K base salary (Indexed), plus between an additional 10% if the MLA is a mere member of a ‘scrutiny committee’ (the booby prize that everybody who doesn’t do better gets) scaling up to a 100% salary loading for the chief minister plus a car (or if you don’t want one another $25-40K car allowance), plus electorate allowances, extra travel allowances, staff.
Wow. Just … wow …
Politics by Geography is always a pain.
Shenanigans. The federal seat of Lingiari only has one MHR. The NT outside Darwin and Palmerston could be serviced by 5 to 7 territory MLAs. Easily.
Having just checked the map, there are currently 8 seats, plus two for Alice Springs, outside Darwin/Palmerston: a total of 10. That could comfortably be reduced to 5 max. The greater Darwin-Palmerston area could be reduced from 10 to 6 seats.
Andrew_Earlwood @ #71 Saturday, February 29th, 2020 – 11:38 pm
I’m excited that you agree with me.
I’ve seen figures from prepolls that had CA prefs ultimately splitting roughly evenly between Labor and TA, which suggests that less than half of them are going straight to Labor, leaving the rest to presumably favour TA to at least some degree over Greens. Even assuming CLP split evenly between Greens and TA, Greens would currently need 50 points more from Earley than TA were getting and that in a four-way split. Seems implausible especially given Earley is another ex-CLPer.
NT has rules especially conducive to weak HTV card following.
Kevin Bonham @ #73 Saturday, February 29th, 2020 – 11:50 pm
Everyone l0ves a very long sentence.
“ Having just checked the map, there are currently 8 seats, plus two for Alice Springs, outside Darwin/Palmerston: a total of 10. That could comfortably be reduced to 5 max. The greater Darwin-Palmerston area could be reduced from 10 to 6 seats.”
Sorry, I mucked that up a bit. Looking at the division map, there are 15 seats in the greater Darwin-Palmerston area (some electorates do take in a fair bit of the rural surrounds as well), there are 8 rural seats (including Katherine) and 2 seats in Alice.
The size of the parliament could and IMO should be reduced by at least 10-12 seats: ie.
The Greater Darwin-Palmerston area gets say 9, rural NT (excluding Katherine) gets 4, plus there would be a seat based in Katherine (like now but with expanded territory) with city Alice getting a seat as well = 15 seats. I’m being generous in suggesting 15 seats frankly.
Around 21,000 NT voters are public servants out of a total population of around a quarter of men, women and children.
The public service cuts are not popular.
It would be interesting to see the proportion of Indigenous/Non-Indigenous in those who refused to vote at all.
Fracking is not popular.
Personalities are important.
The Greens running on single look at moi populist issues are doomed to eternal minor party status.
The reactionaries in the NT are hopelessly fractured by bitter inter-personal hatreds. It is not policies. It is personal. They hate each others’ guts.
Increasing Defence vote may build the conservative base vote in the NT.
The NT has no foreseeable sustainable economic future other than a cash-strapped snouter on the federal public tit.
“ The NT has no foreseeable sustainable economic future other than a cash-strapped snouter on the federal public tit.
Scrap self government altogether?
Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 9:06 am
“ The NT has no foreseeable sustainable economic future other than a cash-strapped snouter on the federal public tit.
Scrap self government altogether?’
It sucks up huge amounts of scarce cash for no particular added value.
The Greens were a net drag on Labor and advanced from nowhere to nowhere themselves.
The general result was a scramble to the right in the NT.
If the Greens repeat this performance in the NT general election, the Territory will be condemned to a feckless and unstable government saddled with a BOP held by a grab bag of right wing nutters.
Can’t see the ALP getting back in August. Swing of 10% or so likely.
Their own fault, stupid austerity-lite policies. Never works for left wing governments.
Actually, Historyintime, I reckon Labor will be pretty satisfied with the result last night. There is clearly no appetite for a return to the CLP and I doubt enough Territorians will trust the emerging breakaway ‘Territory Alliance’ either at the General Election. Gunner to hold on with a reduced majority, but who will be the official opposition? TA, CLP or Greens?
The federal government (i.e. Australia’s taxpayers) certainly gave the NT a somewhat extravagant parliament building for self government. I wonder how many MPs they expected it to accommodate.
Got to love the passion of Greens supporters however the reality is in the NT Election 2016 they got 17.2% and yet this by-election they got 17% and this is when the vote collapsed for both the ALP and CLP.
Got some bad news for you, those votes that left the two major parties didn’t go to the Greens no matter how one wants to spin it or how there were more candidates. How on earth one can see this as a win I’ve got no idea!
“ The federal government (i.e. Australia’s taxpayers) certainly gave the NT a somewhat extravagant parliament building for self government. I wonder how many MPs they expected it to accommodate.”
I accompanied Gough to Darwin for the Grand Opening.
The highlight of the trip was going to Charles Darwin university and having afternoon tea with Nugget Coombs.
Gotta look at the seats. The ALP has 16 and should win one of the two remaining defectors sears back. That’s a starting point of 17 out of 25. They have 5 marginals on swings up to 3%, and another 2 on swings up to 5%.
So they start with 17 seats, with 7 at severe risk. Could be more. Yesterday they suffered a more than 20% drop in first preferences, even with an apparently good candidate.
Being from Qld I get a Campbell Newman vibe about this Government’s chances. But maybe it’s not that bad on the ground.
Does the NT have no economic future apart from being on the public purse? If the anti-fracking mob get in we don’t. If we do fracking carefully with checks and balances it is safe. Thats what the science says. We are sitting on a massive gas field which, if managed carefully could make this place very prosperous indeed.
The Supreme Court in Darwin is another magnificent building. Maybe the best in Oz.
Majority of the courts are used for storage.
What a shame for firefighting services in the NT, imagine if Jeff the Fireman held the BOP – no firefighting toy would have been denied the NT Fire Brigades.
Howzat @ 7:24 pm
Does the NT have no economic future apart from being on the public purse? If the anti-fracking mob get in we don’t.
If the future of the Northern Territory hangs on whether fracking is permitted or not, it’s got a very poor prospects.
Overall, not a bad result for Labor. Given the by-election circumstances, it could easily have been much worse. Territory Alliance did well enough, but with the CLP implosion, would be disappointed with the outcome. Terry Mills had high hopes of winning this one, though I am not too sure about the candidate selection… Obviously a disaster for the CLP, and a moderately good outcome for the Greens – but I find it hard to see how the Greens could come close to winning any seats in August. But stranger things have happened! The result will buoy Territory Labor so in that sense it was a good outcome all round for Labor. Murdoch via the NT News is going hard against Gunner – but the situation for NT Labor is nowhere near as dire as Murdoch would have you believe. Nevertheless, election night in August will be fascinating, and despite Saturday’s disappointment, it remains possible that Territory Alliance, CLP and other independents might yet deny Labor a majority – but it’s hard to see them being able to form government. My long-range tip: minority Labor government, with confidence and supply support from 1 or 2 independents.
The world-weary cynic reads that and knows that “checks and balances” might as well be “rainbows and moonbeams”, because Pfunds First Law of Governance is “Regulators will be captured by the regulated”.
In 15 years time when it becomes plainly obvious that everything has turned to custard, the responsible parties will all be standing around with butter-wouldnt-melt looks saying “but how could we have known?”.
On election night I asked the NT Electoral Commissioner if he could release the indicative preference count tallysheets so that I could calculate some preference flow information. With the Greens recommending preferences against Labor, and the CLP to Labor, there was interest in how the preferences would flow. He was happy to send me copies of the early voting centre sheets on hand.
The Commissioner has now published the data on its website, including the check count and the two static polling places. It is published at https://ntec.nt.gov.au/elections/2020-LA-by-election-Division-of-Johnston/results/full-tcp-test
There is very little difference from voting centre to voting centre.
While I enjoy the Jeff Collins/Firie theme I should point out that he was a guy who started off with not much in life who became a successful barrister. Surely a Labor success story who could well have won Lindsay except that Della Bosca/Arbib et al screwed him for reasons that I will never know
Did you know him A_E?
Monday, March 2, 2020 at 1:02 pm
‘…a moderately good outcome for the Greens –’
They ran against a Government that is unpopular because of public service cuts, because of being blamed for a growing street crime/house break in law and order problem in the main centres and because of fracking.
The Greens went backwards in percentage terms (just) even though they advantage of the donkey vote – worth perhaps anywhere between 1 and 3%.
The Greens managed to establish at least one of the populist agendas for the by-election: fracking. But an Indi anti-fracker got 10% of the vote.
With their usual lack of discipline the Greens failed to ensure that Labor lost the election.
Not only that, but the Greens’ preferred Party, the Territory Alliance (of utter right wing nutters, racists and bigots) failed to get up with Greens direct support.
The Greens failed miserably at everything they touched in this by-election.
Although he has been invisible since the election, the Bush Rat went public with his support for the NT Greens during the height of the election campaign. He thought it would be a fine thing to get a right wing nut job up in Johnston. The Bush Rat is already soiled goods. The Greens’ bragging before the election was that they were going to teach Labor a lesson.
The Greens taught themselves a lesson instead: it was the Bush Rat’s first election as leader… and the Greens went backwards.
Ah Boerwar, I never disagree with you! Perhaps I’m a gentler soul… I certainly don’t see the Greens being in a position to win any seats at the general election in August. My observation was simply based on the arithmetic of holding on to 17% primaries, whilst achieving nothing overall. I share your general disdain for the Greens as a political movement – a surfeit of symbolism and an absence of substance. Especially in the NT!
The constant, reflexive, viciously toxic Green-bashing by Labor trolls is the reason I hardly ever go near the comment section of PB these days. The state based threads tend to be better, but even they get infected eventually by the unreadable slop of Graham Richardson wannabes.
Knowing nothing about the suburbs of Darwin, I was surprised the Greens got 17% in the first place (last election), and more surprised when they held their ground. Dropping to 10% would have been expectable considering there was four more candidates and one was particularly trying to poach their ground. (Maybe they lost a few points to Earley but also picked up a few points from Labor?) They certainly won’t win Johnston later this year, but they might have their eye on Nightcliff. Anyone wanna try some character assassination of that suburb?
Also, Earley seems to have a certain fraction of people who’ll vote for him. If he runs for Katherine again (as in 2016), without a sitting CLP MP, he’ll have a chance.