New year miscellany (open thread)

Two minor bits of federal polling news, a change in party representation in the House of Representatives, and looming electoral events in the Northern Territory and Victoria.

‘Tis the season to be silly, but there is at least the following to relate:

• Roy Morgan published an SMS poll a fortnight ago that found 53% would vote yes in a referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament, with 30% for no and 17% for undecided. A yes majority was recorded in five of six states, the exception being Queensland with 44% for yes and 38% for no. The poll was conducted December 9 to 12 from a sample of 1499.

• The Age/Herald reported last Wednesday on a quarterly analysis of Resolve Strategic polling, though since the pollster provides breakdowns for the three largest states with each poll result, this was less illuminating than the similar exercise performed for Newspoll. However, it did provide results for Western Australia, showing Labor up a point from its strong performance at the election to 38% and the Coalition down a further five to 30%.

• Calare MP Andrew Gee has quit the Nationals to sit as an independent over the party leadership’s opposition to an indigenous voice to parliament. This reduces the Coalition to 57 seats in the House of Representatives and increases the cross bench from 16 to 17, with Labor still on 77.

• A by-election looms for the Northern Territory seat of Arafura, which covers the Tiwi Islands along with mainland territory around West Arnhem, following the death last month of Lawrence Costa, the Labor member since 2016. A defeat would not imperil Natasha Fyles’ government, with Labor holding 14 out of the Legislative Assembly’s 25 seats, not including Blain MP Mark Turner who was expelled from caucus in February 2021.

• The Narracan supplementary election will be held on January 28, finally bringing resolution to the Victorian state election. The election for the seat was not conducted on November 26 after Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist died in the period between the close of nominations and election day.

• The Victorian Election Commission has announced it will conduct full preference counts through to the final counts in February, having previously only conducted the counts to the point needed to determine the winning candidate.

Fannie Bay by-election live

Live coverage of counting from the Northern Territory’s Fannie Bay by-election.

9.08pm. The two-party numbers from Parap look better to me for Labor than the primary votes did, breaking 805-640 their way for a swing of 8.6%. That puts Labor ahead 1745-1597, and I don’t believe there’s more to come than a trickle of late postals and a handful of provisionals. In raw terms, which are as good as any other by this stage, that gives Labor a winning margin of 2.2% after a swing of 7.3%, which is roughly par for the course for a by-election result — maybe a little worse.

8.01pm. Parap has indeed swung heavily against Labor, and with much more votes cast than last time — 1445 compared with 895 formal votes. So we have likely seen a move among conservative voters from pre-poll to election day voting. Labor is down 16.0%, the CLP is up 6.9% and the Greens are up 7.7%. So we’re still looking at a tight result.

7.57pm. The postals broke 120-113 to the CLP on two-party, so they still have a tight 957-940 overall lead. However, the big outstanding factor is the Parap booth, which broke 576-319 to Labor in 2020. For the CLP to get home, the swing there will need to exceed what we’ve seen so far.

7.53pm. 233 postal votes have been added to the primary vote count, and they have swung heavily against Labor — down 21.0% on the primary vote with the CLP up 13.5% and the Greens up 9.7%.

7.36pm. I made a bit of data entry error on the Darwin pre-poll booth: Labor’s primary vote was indeed down 10.2%, but the CLP was only up 4.3% with the Greens up 6.6%. So in other words, the swings there were much like Ludmilla and Labor still looks like it has an advantage. Now the two-party is in from the pre-poll booth, and while the CLP won the booth and has a raw lead of 837-827, they did much better on pre-polls in 2020 than other kinds of vote. If that’s the case again this time, Labor should pull ahead from here. However, that may not entirely hold this time because there was only one pre-poll option this time compared with three, and it appears voters may have taken their business to election day booths.

7.19pm. With 1664 votes in from the Darwin pre-poll booth, it would seem we’re looking at a very close result here: Labor is down 10.7% and the CLP is up 9.1%, suggesting a two-party swing bang on the Labor margin of 9.6%.

7.05pm. The Ludmilla two-party result is 248-210 in favour of Labor, which is a 7.3% swing to the CLP compared with 2020.

6.39pm. Eleanor in comments dispels my earlier confusion about “Urban Voting Darwin”, which is mobile hospital voting (and sometimes prisons, but not on this occasion). It’s 16 votes broke 9-7 to the CLP on two-party preferred.

6.38pm. The Ludmilla booth is in, with 458 formal votes this time compared with 282 last time, presumably due to there being fewer pre-poll voting places this time. There is a solid 11.6% drop in the primary vote to 30.6%, but most of it has gone to the Greens, who are up 8.2% to 24.2%. The CLP is up 5.1% to 37.6%, which is less than it would need to rein in the 9.6% margin, but not by so much that you could call the result at this point.

6.22pm. Results are in for something called “Urban Voting Darwin” — whatever this is, it is not the pre-poll booth. It accounts for all of 16 formal votes, of which the CLP has seven and Labor four.

6pm. Polls have closed. There were only 282 votes cast at the Ludmilla booth in 2020, so we should expect primary vote numbers from there at least inside the hour.

4pm. Two hours before the close of polls, here is my live thread for the Fannie Bay by-election count, which will choose a successor to former Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner in an electorate that covers suburbs just north of central Darwin. Labor is defending a seemingly solid margin of 9.6%, but such measures can be deceptive in the territory’s tiny electorates, in which candidate factors weigh heavily. There are three independents in the field along with Labor, the Country Liberal Party and the Greens, and I will have competitive they might be until results are in. There won’t be terribly many of these: there are only two election day polling booths, plus a pre-poll booth that operated in central Darwin. The Labor government, now headed by Natasha Fyles, holds 14 seats out of 25, so defeat would leave it one away from minority status.1

Preference flows and by-elections (open thread)

A look at preference flow data from the 2019 and 2022 elections, and the latest on looming by-elections in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and (sort of) Western Australia.

Something I really should have noted in last week’s post is that the Australian Electoral Commission has now published two-candidate preferred preference flow data from the election, showing how minor party and independent preferences flowed between Labor and the Coalition. The table below shows how Labor’s share increased for the four biggest minor parties and independents collectively (and also its fraction decrease for “others”) from the last election to this and, in the final column, how much difference each made to Labor’s total share of two-party preferred, which was 52.13%.

Note that the third column compares how many preference Labor received with how many they would have if preference flows had been last time, which is not the same thing as how many preferences they received. Labor in fact got nearly 2% more two-party vote share in the form of Greens preferences at this election because the Greens primary vote was nearly 2% higher this time.

State and territory by-election:

• Six candidates for the August 20 by-election in the Northern Territory seat of Fannie Bay, in ballot paper order: Brent Potter, described in a report as a “government adviser, army veteran and father of four”, for Labor; independent George Mamouzellos; independent Raj Samson Rajwin, who was a Senate candidate for the United Australia Party; Jonathan Parry of the Greens; independent Leah Potter; and Ben Hosking, “small business owner and former police officer”, for the Country Liberals.

• Following the resignation of Labor member Jo Siejka, a by-election will be held for the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Pembroke on September 10. Siejka defeated a Liberal candidate by 8.65% to win the eastern Hobart seat at the periodic election in 2019. There will also be a recount of 2021 election ballots in Franklin to determine which of the three unelected Liberals will replace Jacquie Petrusma following her resignation announcement a fortnight ago. As Kevin Bonham explains, the order of probability runs Bec Enders, Dean Young and James Walker.

• Still no sign of a date for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election.

Daly by-election live

Live coverage of the count for the Daly by-election in the Northern Territory.

7.51pm. Mobile Team Daly 3 is in, and Labor ends the night with an insurmountable lead of 1856 to 1424, a margin of 6.6% from a swing of 7.8%. CORRECTION: Mobile Team Daly 3 is not so much in, as removed from the NTEC’s list of booths. In any case, we’ve seen everything we’re going to see this evening.

7.31pm. 104 votes from pre-poll and election day centres in Darwin don’t change anything. Apart from declarations and postals, we’re still just waiting on Mobile Team Daly 3.

7.15pm. Now we’ve got Berry Springs EVC and all booths reporting so far in on the two-party, and all of a sudden it looks a great night for Labor. Jennings did better at Berry Springs EVC as expected, but it amounted to little — she’s still on only 15.1%. That reduces it to a traditional CLP-versus-Labor contest, on which Labor leads 56.4% to 43.6%. I’m only projecting that to narrow slightly, with Labor winning by 5.3% from a swing of 6.5%.

7.12pm. Another twist in the tale from two Mobile Team booths that have reported. They account between them for 1807 votes with one of three results still outstanding, whereas the two Mobile Team booths in 2020 totalled only 1651. So clearly these have had more use this time. The results are a body blow for Jennings, who now looks certain to finish third, and a giant fillip for Labor, who got fully 64.5% of the primary vote from the two between them. They have now bolted to a lead of 45.8% to 33.9% over the CLP. Still waiting on the two-party results from the two booths.

7.02pm. It’s pointed out in comments that Jennings’ home town is Berry Springs, where she got 39.1% compared with about 21% elsewhere. One of the outstanding booths is the Berry Springs pre-poll centre, but it should only account for about 20% of the outstanding total. That presumably shortens the odds for the CLP. If the 2020 results are any guide, the one we’re waiting for is Mobile Team Daly 1, which should account for nearly half the outstanding votes. This happened to be a strong booth in 2020 for the Territory Alliance, for which Jennings ran as a candidate in a different seat.

6.52pm. A much better result for the CLP from the Coolalinga early voting centre leaves them with 44.8% of the primary vote, and also narrows Jennings’ lead over Labor to just 12 votes. This is a particularly strong booth for the CLP: they got 56.9% last time and 52.9% this time. Since they remain down on the primary vote on a booth-matched basis, and their primary vote was only 35.8% last time, they remain in trouble if Jennings can stay ahead of Labor. Otherwise, it looks clear now the CLP will retain the seat, as they have a two-party swing of 5.9% against Labor.

6.50pm. The issue for Jennings is whether she stays ahead of Labor to take second place. She currently leads them by 156 votes to 128. The 22 votes of the other independent, Wayne Connop, would presumably widen that. But later reporting votes may be stronger for Labor. If Jennings does drop out, it seems likely the seat will stay with the CLP: they lead the two-party count 267 to 214. This amounts to a 1.4% swing to the CLP, from which a 3.2% winning margin can be projected. There are so many votes outstanding though that that could not be thought decisive. So at present, the only candidate who can be ruled out is Connop.

6.40pm. The CLP has pulled ahead on the primary vote with the other election day booth in the electorate, Wagait Beach, reporting. These are small numbers of votes though so presumably the pre-poll voting centres did very good business. As things currently stand, Jennings still looks well placed to win on Labor preferences.

6.35pm. The Berry Springs booth, one of only two operating on election day, has recorded a rather spectacular result for independent candidate Rebecca Jennings, who has 116 votes to the CLP’s 113 and Labor’s 50. The CLP is down 6.6% on the primary vote and Labor is down 10.4%. Unless this is a local peculiarity, it suggests Jennings will win comfortably on Labor preferences. Results from the NTEC here.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Northern Territory by-election for the seat of Daly, covering pastoral areas to the south of Darwin. The by-election is being held after Country Liberal Party member Ian Sloan, who won by a 1.2% margin at the election last year, retired due to ill health. The candidates are Kris Civitarese of the CLP, Dheran Young of Labor and two independents, Wayne Connop and Rebecca Jennings.

Liberals by any other name

Electoral law changes rammed through parliament, New South Wales state boundaries finalised, and some by-election news.

Significant electoral developments of the past few days:

• The federal government’s package of four electoral bills, which were explained in this earlier post, whizzed through parliament this week with the support of Labor (UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that one of the four, dealing with the threshold for registering as a political campaigner, was in fact not considered). Most contentiously, this will give the Liberal Party exclusive rights to the word “liberal” in their registered party name, with the effect that the Liberal Democrats and the New Liberals will have to change names before the next election. It is unclear what the former plans to do, but Victor Kline, leader and registered officer of the New Liberals, says the party will simply identify itself as TNL.

• The new laws also mean that parties will need to have 1500 members to maintain their registration unless they have a sitting member of parliament, which by the reckoning of Kevin Bonham could affect as many of 24 out of the 45 currently registered parties. Those privy to the sitting member exemption include Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, thanks to former Liberal MP Craig Kelly’s decision join, along with the Centre Alliance, Jacqui Lambie Network, Katter’s Australian Party and Rex Patrick Team.

• The state redistribution for New South Wales has been finalised, without much change to the draft boundaries that were published last November. Antony Green has a pendulum with estimated margins for the final boundaries.

Two minor by-elections coming up:

• For the Northern Territory parliament: a by-election will be held on September 11 for the Darwin hinterland seat of Daly, where Country Liberal Party member Ian Sloan has retired due to ill health a year after an election at which Labor was returned to power. Sloan held out against Labor by 1.2% at the election, at which he succeeded retiring CLP member Gary Higgins. The CLP’s candidate is Kris Civitarese, a Barkly councillor; Labor’s is Dheran Young, a former advisor to Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

• For the Tasmanian Legislative Council: a by-election will be required for a yet-to-be determined date early next year for the seat of Huon, encompassing the southern edge of Hobart and its hinterland, after Labor member Bastian Seidel announced he would quit parliament at the final sitting for the year in December. Seidel has complained of a “toxic environment” and “obvious problems” in the party, which would appear to refer to the sexual harassment allegations against David O’Byrne, who was compelled to resign as party leader in July after just three weeks in the job and is now facing calls from within the party, including leader Rebecca White, to quit parliament.

Northern Territory election live: the final stretch

Regularly updated coverage of the final stages of the Northern Territory election count, where four seats are still up for grabs, although Labor’s majority is assured.

Friday evening: conclusion of count

The count is now wrapped up, and despite my repeated suggestions that Labor would win 15 seats and the CLP seven, the CLP in fact seized victory in Barkly at the last. Postals broke 53-26 the CLP’s way, turning Labor’s 20-vote lead beforehand into a CLP winning margin of seven. There was a similarly one-sided result in the last batch of postals in Araluen, in this case to the advantage of Robyn Lambley, who get 43 to the CLP candidate’s 18. This put her 42 votes ahead at the post, quite a bit further ahead than she had been through a nail-biting late count. Postals continued to flow strongly to the CLP in Namatjira, 44-28, leaving them with a 22-vote winning margin, out from six yesterday. In Blain the small final batch of postals went 13-11 to the CLP, bringing the Labor winning margin in from 15 to 13. Final score: Labor 14, CLP eight, Territory Alliance one, independents two.

Arafura Braitling Fannie Bay Karama Nightcliff
Araluen Brennan Fong Lim Katherine Port Darwin
Arnhem Casuarina Goyder Mulka Sanderson
Barkly Daly Gwoja Namatjira Spillett
Blain Drysdale Johnston Nelson Wanguri

Thursday evening

No counting today, but the NTEC advises the whole thing will be wrapped up tomorrow evening, preference distributions included. Aside from whatever handfuls of postals arrive by tomorrow’s noon deadline, there are 58 votes still to be counted in Araluen, where Robyn Lambley leads by 17; 23 to count in Blain, where Labor leads by 15; 75 to count in Barkly, where Labor leads as 20; and 66 to count in Namatjira, where the CLP leads by six (but where three-quarters or previous postals went to the CLP).

Wednesday evening

Today’s recounts changed very little: Robyn Lambley’s lead in Araluen went from 18 to 17; Labor’s lead in Barkly went from 15 to 20; Labor’s lead in Blain went from 13 to 15; the CLP’s lead in Namatjira went from 7 to 6. The NTEC, which has done an excellent job of providing information on the count, says there are 457 postals yet to be counted, with two more days left for late stragglers to arrive. That suggests about 20 votes per seat, which leaves very little prospect for the leads to be overturned. While it’s mathematically possible in Namatjira, the fact that 75% of postals there have gone to the CLP suggests it’s extremely unlikely. So unless some further anomaly shows up when the full distributions of preferences are conducted, it looks very much like a parliament of 15 Labor, CLP seven, Territory Alliance one and two independents.

Tuesday evening

Ahead of tomorrow’s big recount, we still have four seats with margins of between seven and 18 votes. In today’s counting in Araluen, declaration votes broke 23-17 in favour of Robyn Lambley, but she lost a vote on rechecking of absents, so her lead increased from 13 to 18. In Barkly, declaration votes broke 70-65 to the CLP, contrary to their usual form of favouring Labor; rechecking of absents produced a net gain of three for the CLP; and there was also rechecking of ordinary votes, which made no net difference. All of which reduced the Labor lead from 23 to 15. In Blain, postals broke 43-36 to the CLP and declaration votes broke 17-16 to Labor, plus a handful of new absent votes broke 9-7 to the CLP. Taken together, this narrowed Labor’s lead from 21 to 13. In Namatjira, the CLP lead went from six votes to seven as declaration votes broke 21-19 to Labor, but rechecking of postals produced a net gain of three to the CLP. Follow the links below for full results.

Arafura Braitling Fannie Bay Karama Nightcliff
Araluen Brennan Fong Lim Katherine Port Darwin
Arnhem Casuarina Goyder Mulka Sanderson
Barkly Daly Gwoja Namatjira Spillett
Blain Drysdale Johnston Nelson Wanguri

Tuesday morning

A new post for the conclusion of the count for the Northern Territory election, for which question marks remain over four seats. Labor has confirmed wins in 13 seats, guaranteeing it a majority in the chamber of 25, and holds leads over the CLP in another two; the CLP has six confirmed wins and leads Labor in another one; and what’s left of the Territory Alliance leads Labor in one further seat. The results displays for each of the seats below are updated live as new numbers are added to the count.

The NTEC has devoted the past few days to book-keeping without adding any new votes to the count, but this will change today with the addition of declaration votes (what in the federal sphere would be called provisional votes) and, in the case of Blain, 23 postal votes. Even smaller parcels of postal votes will be added to the other seats at some later time, together with whatever postals may still arrive between now and Friday, which will presumably be very few. All seats with margins of less than 100 votes, which certainly includes those mentioned below, will have their votes recounted on Wednesday.

To summarise the situation in the undecided seats:

Araluen. Territory Alliance incumbent Robyn Lambley, who if successful will be the only one of the party’s three incumbents to win re-election, clings to a lead of 13 votes over Damien Ryan of the CLP. Forty-five declaration votes will be added today, and there are further 14 confirmed postal votes to be added at some later point.

Barkly. Labor’s Sid Vashist holds a 23-vote lead over Steve Edgington of the CLP in a seat vacated by the retirement of Labor’s Gerry McCarthy. An uncommonly large parcel of 156 declaration votes will be added today, with at least 15 postal votes to be added later.

Blain. With the defeat of Territory Alliance leader Terry Blain, Labor’s Mark Turner holds a 21-vote lead over Matthew Kerle of the CLP. Thirty-four declaration votes and 23 postals will be added today.

Namatjira. Bill Yan of the CLP holds a six vote lead over Labor’s Sheralee Taylor in a formerly Labor-held indigenous majority seat that has been transformed by the addition of Alice Springs territory in the redistribution, causing incumbent Chansey Paech to move to the remote seat of Gwoja. Forty-six declaration votes will be added today, and there are at least another 17 postals to be added later.

Two things

Some rare insights into how preferences behave in unusual circumstances courtesy of the Johnston by-election, and yet more data on issue salience, this time from JWS Research.

Two things:

• At Antony Green’s prompting, the Northern Territory Electoral Commission has published breakdowns of the various candidates’ preferences flows at Saturday’s Johnston by-election, providing measures of the impact of highly unusual preferencing behaviour by the Greens and the Country Labor Party — remembering that the Northern Territory prohibits dissemination of how-to-vote cards is the immediate vicinity of polling booths. Having done the unthinkable and put Labor last, the Greens’ preferences split 56.9-43.1 between Labor and the Territory Alliance, compared with my own rule of thumb that Labor gets 80% of Greens preferences when they are so directed and 75% when no recommendation is made. Note that this is the Territory Alliance rather than the Country Liberal Party, and that Labor’s flow would presumably have been somewhat stronger had it been otherwise. The CLP no less unusually put Labor second, and their preferences went 52.9-47.1 in favour of the Territory Alliance.

• JWS Research has released its latest quarterly True Issues report, confirming the impression of other similar polling that the salience of the environment and climate chnage spiked over summer. Respondents were separately asked to name three issues off the tops of their heads and to pick the five most important issues out of a list of twenty, with confusingly different results – environment reigned supreme in the first case, but in the second it trailed cost of living (which ranked low when unprompted) and health (second in both cases). Perhaps the most revealing point is that environment increased in the prompted question from 33% a year ago to 42%, while immigration and border security fell from 36% to 25%. The federal government was reckoned to be performing well by 28% of respondents, down two since the November survey, and poorly by 35%, up two. The survey was conducted online from a sample of 1000 from February 20-24.

Johnston by-election live

Live coverage of counting for the Northern Territory’s Johnston by-election.

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.

Live commentary

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.