Slowing the flow

A detailed look at what optional preferential voting might mean at a federal election.

This post delves into wonkish matters arising from last week’s report by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters into last year’s federal election, and can thus be seen as a sequel to my earlier post on that subject. That post has a stimulating comments thread that I would like to see continue if anyone has anything to contribute specifically concerning the matters covered in this post. However, the comments thread below this post will serve as the usual open thread for general political discussion, it being past time for a new one.

On with the show. Among the more surprising recommendations of last week’s JSCEM report was the introduction of optional preferential voting. Whereas committee recommendations very often die on the vine, the chances of something becoming of this one shortened last week when both One Nation and the Centre Alliance indicated it would have their support, potentially giving it the numbers in the Senate over the opposition of Labor and the Greens. This prompted me to dig into data from last year’s state election in New South Wales, which offers the most proximate and generally useful pointer to how such a reform would play out at a federal election.

The New South Wales Electoral Commission is the only electoral authority that conducts full data entry of lower house ballot papers and publishes all the data, something the AEC only does for the Senate. The broader utility of this has been limited by the fact of New South Wales’ peculiarity of optional preferential voting, but as noted, there is a chance that may shortly change. I have aggregated this data to determine how each party and candidate’s preferences flowed between the Coalition and Labor, which no one else had done so far as I could see.

For those with a professional interest, this spreadsheet lays it all out seat by seat and party by party — for the lay person, the following table should suffice. It shows the aggregated statewide results from the state election, inclusive of the rate of exhaustion (i.e. voters who availed themselves of optional preferential’s opportunity to number neither Coalition nor Labor boxes), and the equivalent results from New South Wales from the federal election.

The reform’s attraction to the Coalition lies in the 40.0% exhaustion rate for the Greens vote, which split 82.2-17.8 in Labor’s favour federally. That alone would have sliced nearly 1% from Labor’s two-party preferred vote. However, the high exhaustion rate among all other minor parties, whose preferences in aggregate tend to favour the Coalition over Labor (think Hanson, Palmer and the religious parties) would have pared that back by around 0.3%. Such a change would probably have made a decisive difference in Macquarie (which Labor held by 0.2%) and Lilley (0.6%, and with an above-par Greens primary vote of 14.0%), and made life still more uncomfortable in Cowan (0.8%) and Eden-Monaro (0.8%, followed by 0.4% at the by-election).

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.

3,329 comments on “Slowing the flow”

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  1. β€œ Interesting rumour coming out of America that Donald Trump is also going to pardon Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

    I know Assange hasn’t been convicted in America yet but these things can be pre-emptive I believe.”

    As long as he pardons the Tiger King all will be well with the world.

  2. While I was in hospital I told some stories about times in the Emergency Department over 20 years ago. The ladies and my favourite nurse liked this one.

    Drunken, bear gutted, bombed to the eyeballs, foul mouthed, aggressive louts – completely unlovable – Of course that was just the Doctors – the patients were another matter entirely.

  3. “I thought the numbers would be down because of the prospect of self isolation on Christmas day while awaiting test results”
    Maybe for a lot of people it’s an excuse to get out of Christmas with the family. Probably half the population don’t observe Christmas anyway.

  4. GB has asked Sydney residents to hold their Christmas lunch outside but the weather is not amenable.

    It was not responsible to base the risk calculations on a variable that you have no control over.

  5. Morrison gov spent $128m on advertising in 2019/20.

    Paul Barratt
    @phbarratt
    Β·
    2m
    It would be good to see a breakdown of how much of that was legitimate public-interest advertising (how to keep COVIF-safe, how to apply for a Robodebt refund etc) and how much was β€œlook what a great job we’re doing” (effectively money stolen for political advertising).

  6. ‘I WILL NEVER FORGET’: Trump officially announces war against Republican Party

    President Donald Trump spent Christmas eve on the golf course and then turned to vengeance mode as he returned to Mar-a-Lago.

    Lashing out on Twitter, Trump officially announced his war against the Republican Party. He has been furious that the Republicans in the Senate acknowledged that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

    “I saved at least 8 Republican Senators, including Mitch, from losing in the last Rigged (for President) Election,” tweeted Trump. “Now they (almost all) sit back and watch me fight against a crooked and vicious foe, the Radical Left Democrats. I will NEVER FORGET!”

    https://www.rawstory.com/trump-war-against-republicans/

  7. Wargaming fail.

    The House of Representatives on Thursday failed to advance a measure that would increase direct payments to Americans under a certain income level to $2,000 — up from the $600 level passed earlier this week — bringing lawmakers back to square one as they search for a way to appease President Donald Trump’s demands.

    House Democrats tried to quickly pass the bill by a unanimous consent request Thursday morning, but Republicans rejected the move, leaving the future of the $900 billion stimulus package — and whether any changes will be added to it — in doubt. That stimulus package was attached to a spending bill for the entire federal government, and a deadline for government funding expires Monday at midnight.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html

    Republicans (predictably) oppose the higher stimulus checks that Trump (unpredictably) demanded. Optics are terrible for the GOP. Dems win this exchange. Perhaps it’ll even help them in Georgia?

  8. C@tmomma says:
    Friday, December 25, 2020 at 10:25 am

    And a merry Xmas to you, Andrew_Earlwood

    Oh joy to the world….the gift of yet more sinophobia from C@t, and recycled too.

  9. Merry Christmas every one. And for those less imbued with the festive spirit, just remember, it’s only one week until the next Cabinet papers release.

  10. lizzie @ #3268 Friday, December 25th, 2020 – 9:13 am

    Gladys announced that masks are “a fourth line of defence”.
    Is that because she rarely wears one?

    Cheap, effective, less uncomfortable than ties or heels, so yeah you’d definitely make them an optional 4th line. If you were a politics before the lives of your citizens type leader. Trump is a symptom not the cause and the likes of Morrison and GB are very bad symptoms of whatever disease we’ve inflicted on ourselves in this the most stupid of all timelines.

  11. a r @ #3265 Friday, December 25th, 2020 – 11:52 am

    Wargaming fail.

    The House of Representatives on Thursday failed to advance a measure that would increase direct payments to Americans under a certain income level to $2,000 — up from the $600 level passed earlier this week — bringing lawmakers back to square one as they search for a way to appease President Donald Trump’s demands.

    House Democrats tried to quickly pass the bill by a unanimous consent request Thursday morning, but Republicans rejected the move, leaving the future of the $900 billion stimulus package — and whether any changes will be added to it — in doubt. That stimulus package was attached to a spending bill for the entire federal government, and a deadline for government funding expires Monday at midnight.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/24/politics/house-vote-stimulus-checks-government/index.html

    Republicans (predictably) oppose the higher stimulus checks that Trump (unpredictably) demanded. Optics are terrible for the GOP. Dems win this exchange. Perhaps it’ll even help them in Georgia?

    Yes.

    1. Nancy Pelosi is seen by the gen pub as being on their side and doing what she could to carry out, RINO Trump’s request.

    2. Real Fiscal Conservative Republicans knocked the increase back. At Christmas.

    3. It’s now up to the Senate for them to work out a solution.

    4. Good luck, Mitch. (He who is being punished by Trump for calling Joe Biden, President Elect).

  12. Merry Christmas everyone.
    My Christmas celebrations went well even though the power went out at 4 pm and only came back on at 10 am.
    Christmas by candlelight and Ryobi fans for cooling. No internet meant no peeking at phones and lots of lovely conversation in and around the pool.
    Unfortunately minimal light meant the dishes are all waiting for me to do as everyone else is at work or the in laws.

    I expect that Western power will get a big bill from all those whose Christmas food is now inedible. We are lucky that we have a couple of Waccos and can run them off a generator and then car batteries overnight.
    Decision made last night by son that batteries for his solar system will be a priority, no aircon was a bit of a killer for his pregnant wife and elderly dad.

  13. I wonder if anyone, anywhere will make a NON POLITICAL remembrance of the 900 people we lost to COVID this year…and a special hug to their families and friends at this difficult time.
    The victims seem to be forgotten in all the hoopla, self interest and politicking.

  14. Hi everyone. I just wanted to pop-in and wish every one of you (including those who hate me) a very joyful Christmas. Thank you all for the riveting interaction this year, especially during the most stressful points and I genuinely hope 2021 is much better for everyone than this plague-filled train-wreck of a year was.

  15. Hi guys, just wanted to take a minute to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy year, most of all good health! These days people don’t spend much time or thought on some personal words to their friends and family, they just copy and paste some random message and send it on. So after all we’ve been though together this year I want to thank you for your friendship and wish you a happy and fulfilling 2018 – you’re the best gymnastics group anyone could ask for. Best wishes, Helen

  16. Rational Leftist @ #3282 Friday, December 25th, 2020 – 2:23 pm

    Hi everyone. I just wanted to pop-in and wish every one of you (including those who hate me) a very joyful Christmas. Thank you all for the riveting interaction this year, especially during the most stressful points and I genuinely hope 2021 is much better for everyone than this plague-filled train-wreck of a year was.

    merry Christmas, Rational leftist πŸ™‚

    Come back! I’ll even gift you an Ugly Christmas Sweater! πŸ˜†

  17. Diogenes @ #3283 Friday, December 25th, 2020 – 2:47 pm

    Hi guys, just wanted to take a minute to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy year, most of all good health! These days people don’t spend much time or thought on some personal words to their friends and family, they just copy and paste some random message and send it on. So after all we’ve been though together this year I want to thank you for your friendship and wish you a happy and fulfilling 2018 – you’re the best gymnastics group anyone could ask for. Best wishes, Helen

    Have you been at the Cooking Sherry, Dio!?! πŸ˜†

    Who cares!?!

    Merry Christmas!

  18. My sister, who lives a few km away, finally arrived.. at 3:35pm!
    That’s a new record.

    You’ve heard of optimisation algorithms? My sister has a pesimisation algorithm. One that finds the slowest and least efficient possible way to do something πŸ™‚

    Merry Xmas πŸ™‚

  19. C@tmomma
    I spent 25 years working and studying anything related to aaged I knew my husband was developing alzheirs and it is of course progressing as expected. What I did not expect was some of the day to day irritants. Currently it is his propensity to wonder in and out leaving doors open behind him. Bad enough for maintaining heating and cooling but even worse are the flies.
    It has become second nature for the grand girls, on seeing him exit to the patio to pop up and close the door behind him. Ironically fly spray affects him more than anyone else and so is used very sparingly.
    If anyone had asked what I would find difficult about caring for someone with this insidious disease I would not have thought of flies.

  20. Assantdj,
    As I lived in Western Australia for 15 years I know intimately of which you speak! I can still, to this day, see the WA flies, when swatted from wherever they had landed on you, go up, around in a graceful arc and then land straight back where you had just shooed them away from! πŸ˜€

    I gave up my aversion to putting chemicals on my skin in Perth and started applying Aerogard to give myself a break from their annoying presence. Though it did propel me to try all of the insect repellents, because I don’t like spraying it around either, and that was how I found the much more pleasant smelling ‘Off’. I also remember that it was virtually impossible on the hottest of hot Perth summer days, to keep all the windows and doors closed to keep the flies out. If you did then you felt, especially if there was an Easterly blowing, that you were in a fan-forced oven! The flies were the lesser of two evils, though, even with the windows open, if an Easterly was blowing, the best you could hope for was the Fremantle Doctor. That was back in the day when Air Conditioning was still prohibitively expensive. I’m just grateful that, in my dotage, I can be the happy recipient of free sea breezes where I am now. And not enough mozzies, yet, to really bother me. Though I know that the killer humidity is just around the corner and with it the killer swarms of mozzies. Oh well, I’ll have my Off for that. πŸ™‚

  21. KayJay,

    ALL of us at our Christmas dinner found something to laugh at in that song.

    Except me ole Irish Ma.

    She said the Ireland she and her friends knew was nothing like that, and thought we were all a bunch of sacrilegious Calathumpians for laughing ourselves silly over the Dropkick Murphy’s Chrissy song.

  22. Also KayJay,

    Glad to hear that your stay at the Mater in Waratah (?) was good.

    My dad taught at Newcastle Boy’s High (which became Waratah High?) in the 1960s, when I was young, and we went to Mass at the Catholic Cathedral in Hamilton. I went to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart school attached to the Cathedral. The priest once preached a sermon against people turning up to mass in beach clothes. At the age of 8 I earnestly tried to understand why it was a problem. It appeared that the priest was taking against those who had a normal Sunday, but fitted in their Holy Obligation around their Sunday.

    Does the Catholic Church look ever look back on those happy days when your average Catholic (like me and my family) tried to be good people , and went to mass on Sundays and days of Holy Obligation, but also lived our life?

  23. A lovely Christmas Story from a friend and colleague of mine: https://theconversation.com/the-worlds-oldest-story-astronomers-say-global-myths-about-seven-sisters-stars-may-reach-back-100-000-years-151568?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=bylinefacebookbutton&fbclid=IwAR0hTCiJd-xZsSpIbhGza7gPfBiVjI-9cTwdIx090GnMhIOl6o2LPSoluCs

    I used to tell my children when they were young that the Pleiades showed Santa and his sleigh, in the heavens, on Christmas Eve, contributing to the magic of Christmas Eve.

    It will always be a magic night for me – Midnight Mass when I was young, but now just waiting for the promise of a lovely family day, where presents are exchanged between the children, and we have good food and good craic.

    But please note: Expectations are definitely not always lived up to, and Christmas can be very disappointing.

  24. Douglas and Milko (Block)
    Friday, December 25th, 2020 – 5:58 pm
    Comment #3297

    Also KayJay,

    Glad to hear that your stay at the Mater in Waratah (?) was good.

    My stay was fabulous apart from when my bowel blockage let go and we need not discuss the finer details of this event.

    I had a TIA some years ago which brought about a personality change – from smart arse nasty – to smart arse want to be better.

    The nurses were wonderful and learned to pay no attention to my ridiculous offers of weekends away at their expense. All the staff were excellent. The coffee was awful. The senior doctors got together a good plan and so it went.

    Sadly I can’t speak to the Catholic Church aspect of your post. The religious “brains of the outfit” departed for Heaven eight years ago – leaving me alone but not lonely.

    My wife at the last was quite unimpressed with the Pells’, the ordinary priests etc and detested the dickhead who/m was selected by my senior step/daughter to run the memorial service. I attended that service but being quite deaf I fortunately missed just about everything said and even managed to sing the wrong verse of a hymn. The togetherness and peace of churches is a bonus whether or no carried into out daily. Life.

    To finish – being a better person is like running a continual maze and ending where you started..

    Friday night for me – fish and chips. Yay.

    I had something clever to say about one of your post but forgot it before the fingers hit the keyboard. Does it matter ❓ No – she’ll be right me old mate.

    Goodnight. Please forgive effups. I’ll prolly get better. I enjoy your posts along with very many of other folks informative missives.

    E&OE

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