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.

Summary

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.

Preview

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.

Bundambarama

A second by-election now looms in Queensland, in which One Nation may cause trouble in a traditionally Labor-voting working class seat. Elsewhere, Josh Frydenberg faces a contentious Section 44 challenge, and a Victorian Liberal aspirant regrets not paying his train fare.

At the top of the sidebar are links to guides I have up for three by-election campaigns currently in progress, including yesterday’s new addition:

• Queensland’s festival of democracy on March 28 looks set to receive a new attraction after Jo-Ann Miller’s announcement to parliament yesterday that she is resigning as member of the eastern Ipswich seat of Bundamba, effective immediately. After two decades as Labor member, Miller has grown increasingly estranged from her party over time, a particularly interesting manifestation of which was an appearance alongside Pauline Hanson on the campaign trail two days before the December 2017 state election. One Nation did not field a candidate against Miller in 2017, but has been quick to announce it has a candidate ready to go for the by-election, who will be announced on the weekend. Since Ipswich was the birthplace of the Hanson phenomenon, this could yet make the by-election more interesting than the 21.6% two-party margin suggests. Tony Moore of the Brisbane Times reports Steve Axe, Miller’s electorate officer, will contest the preselection, but Sarah Elks of The Australian reports the front runners are two candidates of the Left: Nick Thompson and Lance McCallum, who are respectively aligned with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Electrical Trades Union. I have a provisional by-election guide up and running which takes it for granted it will be held on March 28, though this is yet to be officially confirmed. Also on that day will be the Currumbin by-election and council elections, including for the big prizes of the Brisbane city council and lord mayoralty.

• Further on the by-election front, I had a paywalled piece in Crikey yesterday on the Greens preferences imbroglio in Johnston.

Legal matters:

• The Federal Court is hearing a Section 44 challenge against Josh Frydenberg relating to his Hungarian-born mother, which complainant Michael Staindl argues makes him a dual citizen. Frydenberg’s mother and her family fled the country in 1949 as its post-war communist regime tightened its grip on power, describing themselves as stateless on arrival in Australia. Staindl maintains that the whole family’s Hungarian citizenship rights were restored with the collapse of communism in 1949. Staindl is also pursuing defamation action against Scott Morrison over the latter’s claim that his action was motivated by anti-Semitism. The Australian ($) reports a decision is expected “within weeks”.

• In further legal obscurantism news, Emanuele Cicchiello has withdrawn from the race to fill Mary Wooldridge’s vacancy in the Victorian Legislative Council on the grounds that he once pleaded guilty to an offence carrying a prison term of more than five years – for improperly claiming a concessional train fare when he was 19. The Australian ($) reports that those remaining in the field are Asher Judah, former Property Council deputy director and Master Builders policy manager, and Matthew Bach, deputy director of Ivanhoe Girls Grammar.

Return of the frack

A contentious preference recommendation by the Greens brings a Northern Territory by-election to life, while the closure of nominations yields only a small field of candidates for the Queensland seat of Currumbin.

No Newspoll this week, owing to The Australian’s enthusiasm for unleashing them at the start of parliamentary sitting weeks, requiring a three week break rather than the usual two. However, we do have a extensive new poll on the bushfire crisis from the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre. It finds that fully 78.6% of the population reports being affected by the fires in one way or another, 14.4% severely or directly. Half the sample of 3000 respondents was asked how Scott Morrison had handled the bushfires, of whom 64.5% disapproved; for the other half the question was framed in terms of the government, with 59.4% disapproving.

Beyond that, there’s the two state/territory by-election campaigns currently in progress:

• I have posted a guide to next Saturday’s by-election in the Northern Territory seat of Johnston, which has suddenly became of more than marginal interest owing to the Greens decision to put Labor last on their how-to-vote cards (albeit that local electoral laws prevent these being distributed within close proximity of polling booths). This has been done to protest the decision by Michael Gunner’s Labor government to lift a moratorium on gas fracking exploration. The party has not taken such a step in any jurisdiction since the Queensland state election of July 1995, when it sought to punish Wayne Goss’s government in the seat of Springwood over a planned motorway through a koala habitat. This made a minor contribution to its loss of the seat, and hence to its eventual removal from office after a by-election defeat the following February. There’s acres of useful information on all this on Antony Green’s new blog, which he is publishing independently due to the ABC’s cavalier treatment of the invaluable blog he had there in happier times. There will also be a piece by me on the Greens’ decision in Crikey today, God willing.

• The other by-election in progress at the moment is for the Queensland seat of Currumbin on March 28, for which my guide can be found guide can be found here. With the closure of nominations last week, only two candidates emerged additional to Laura Gerber of the Liberal National Party and Kaylee Campradt of Labor: Sally Spain of the Greens, a perennial candidate for the party in federal and state Gold Coast seats; and Nicholas Bettany of One Nation, about whom the only thing I can tell you is that he recently deleted his Twitter account (what’s preserved of it on the Google cache reveals nothing particularly outrageous).

Casuarina by-election live

The first of our two by-elections today is for the Northern Territory seat of Casuarina, which is being vacated by the retirement of Labor’s Kon Vatskalis.

Election count

7.51pm. The Nakara 2PP was also better for Labor than my projection, so their raw two-party margin is now 5.1%. I’m projecting it to come down to 3.0%, but it will probably be a bit higher than that because there are no absent votes at a by-election, which is always a difficulty when you’re trying to project general election results on to a by-election. So I’m certainly calling it for Labor, but with a fairly solid swing to the CLP. Although that may tell you about Kon Vatskalis’s personal vote more than the overall standing of the parties.

7.38pm. The Tiwi 2PP result was better for Labor than my projection: 722-548, rather than 694-576. I’m now posting a 2.0% margin for Labor, but it should probably be slightly higher than that given that I’m still using the old preference projection for the Nakara primary vote result.

7.30pm. Actually, the 3.4% just cited is Labor’s raw lead. I’m actually projecting them winning by 1.5%. Which, with actual 2PP numbers not yet in and some postals and such still outstanding, means you wouldn’t quite write the CLP off yet.

7.22pm. Primary votes are now in from the two main booths, and based on my rough preference calculation (which gives Labor 80% of Greens preferences and 40% of everybody else’s), the large Nakara booth has swung to the CLP by 9.6% (2026 votes), and the smaller Tiwi booth has swung 3.9% (1270 votes). All told, I’m projecting a Labor win by 252 votes, or 3.4%, from a 7.8% swing. But the CLP wouldn’t be conceding yet.

7.03pm. When I said a 7.9% swing just now, that was only referring to the postals. Combining postals and the Darwin pre-poll, I make it 6.4%.

7.00pm. The 2PP from those postals is 64-62 in favour of CLP, not 67-59 as per my projection. Those three votes make a big difference to the swing calculation, putting it at 7.9% rather than 10.3%.

6.55pm. Ha! My preference distribution guesstimate from the Darwin pre-poll booth was exactly right: 127 votes to CLP, 124 to Labor. We’ve now also got 126 postals, and they’re very interesting – a 10.3% swing to the CLP, going off the preference distribution that served me so well last time. Given the 9.3% margin, this could prove very close indeed if the pattern is followed at the two main booths.

6.42pm. Antony Green has the swing at 4.6%, but we’re both guessing at this stage.

6.37pm. The Darwin pre-poll booth has reported its 251 votes, and it has Labor’s primary vote down about 14% on the election — although that’s partly because there were only two candidates at the election, and the 10.4% Greens vote in particular had to come from somewhere. The CLP vote is about unchanged, and based on my back-of-envelope preference calculation, there is a two-party swing to them of 3.7%. That wouldn’t be enough for them to win the seat, but it would be better for them than they might have expected.

Background

Two by-elections today: one for the Western Australian seat of Vasse (on which you can read my thoughts here, as well as here if you’re a Crikey subscriber), where polls will close at 9pm eastern standard time; and one in the Northern Territory seat of Casuarina, where polls close at 7:30pm EST. Casuarina is being vacated by the retirement of Kon Vatskalis, the Labor member since 2001. It covers Darwin’s northernmost coastal suburbs of Tiwi and Brinkin, along with Alawa and Nakara immediately inland.

Casuarina has existed as an electorate since the parliament was established in 1974, and was held by the Country Liberal Party for the entirety of its history until Vatskalis’s victory in 2001. The member from 1974 to 1994 was Nick Dondas, who went on to federal parliament for a term after winning what was then the single Northern Territory electorate in 1996. The vacated seat was contested at the 1994 election by television newsreader Peter Adamson for the CLP and ABC Radio presenter Clare Martin for Labor. Adamson prevailed, and Martin would instead find a way to parliament in the Fannie Bay electorate in 1995.

Casuarina was among the seats gained by Labor for the first time when Martin led the party to its first ever victory in 2001, Kon Vatskalis prevailing with a 3.5% margin after an 11.4% swing. Katskalis consolidated with another big swing of 15.5% in the 2005 landslide, which was dented only slightly by successive swings of 4.8% in 2008 and 4.9% in 2012, leaving Labor with its current margin of 9.3%. Given the comfortable margin and the troubled history of the CLP government, the expectation is that Labor will retain the seat. The two by-elections held so far this term, in the Darwin seat of Wanguri and the Palmerston seat of Blain, have both produced double-digit swings to Labor.

Labor’s candidate is 27-year-old Lauren Moss, a 27-year-old health campaigner and youth advocate. Moss won the support of the locally dominant Right, which was seen as a snub to Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie, who favoured Darwin alderman Kate Worden. Also in the field was Matthew Gardiner, an organiser with United Voice, who was disadvantaged by his alignment with the Left. The CLP candidate is Harry Kypreos, a general practitioner from Lyons. Moss and Kypreos are joined on the ballot paper by a further five candidates, making for one candidate per 783 voters: Michael Connard of the Greens, Trudy Campbell of the Citizens Electoral Council, and independents George Mamouzellos, Trevor Jenkins and Jack Childers Henderson.

Updates on the results will be added to this post as they are published. Reflecting the small size of the territory’s electorates, there are only two polling booths for the by-election: Nakara Primary School and Dripstone Middle School, which are located within half a kilometre of each other.

Blain by-election live

Will the Northern Territory’s Country Liberal government still have its majority by the end of the evening? Find out here.

7.35pm. Now, all in one hit, we’ve got both primary and pre-poll results from all three ordinary polling booths, together with results from the Darwin pre-poll booth. The raw two-party result shows the CLP leading by 3.2%, and my projection is hardly different at 3.7%, a swing to Labor of 9.5%. I have the CLP primary vote down 15.8% on a booth-matched basis, or 45.5% in raw terms, but Labor is up only 3.2% to 37.5% thanks to the 8.3% vote for independent Matthew Cranitch. The Greens and Citizens Electoral Council, who did not field candidates in 2012, are respectively on 7.3% and 1.4%. So to summarise: the CLP has suffered a large swing, but not sufficient to cost them the seat given the extent to which it was absorbed by candidates other than Labor.

7.22pm. “I think we’ve won,” says CLP president Ross Connolly, as related by Nine reporter Kathleen Bruyn on Twitter. However, I still have nothing more to go on than the aforementioned Palmerston pre-poll booth primary votes.

7.20pm. The media feed being deployed by Antony Green is evidently running ahead of the result being published on the NTEC website, as it has a two-party result from those pre-polls. These suggest that my preference guesstimates were spot on, or at least that the errors cancelled out. There’s also talk on Twitter that the Rosebery booth is likewise recording a big-but-not-big-enough swing to Labor.

6.55pm. 521 pre-poll primary votes have been added, and based on my very crude preference distribution, in which Labor gets 80% of Greens preferences and 40% of independents and CEC, the result is a 9.1% swing off a margin of 13.2%.

6pm. Booths – all three of them – have closed. I guess we might see a first result in 45 minutes or so.

Blain by-election: April 12

The Northern Territory’s Country Liberal government will fight to keep its parliamentary majority intact at Saturday’s by-election to replace former party leader Terry Mills.

UPDATE (Friday 11/4): The Northern Territory News has published a poll from a small sample of 200 voters, which going on past form I presume to have been conducted in-house with help from the Adelaide Advertiser. This suggests a very close result, with the Country Liberal Party leading 51-49 on two-party preferred from primary votes of 40.8% for the CLP, 39.2% for Labor and 12.5% for independent Matthew Cranitch.

The parliamentary majority of Northern Territory’s Country Liberal Party government will be on the line on Saturday when voters in the Palmerston seat of Blain go to the polls to choose a successor to Terry Mills, who led the CLP to victory at the August 2012 election only to be deposed by his party less than seven months later. The CLP won 16 seats out of 25 at the election, after indigenous candidates fielded by the party emerged surprise winners in four remote electorates. However, last week the party lost the services of three of those members – Alison Anderson, Larisa Lee and Francis Xavier – who had been at loggerheads with their colleagues since the Tourism Minister, Matt Conlan, reportedly told Anderson during a party room meeting to “do us all a favour and f**k off you c**t”. They will now sit on the cross-benches, putting the parliamentary numbers at 13 for the CLP and eight for Labor with four independents. Should Blain fall on Saturday, Adam Giles’ government will be reduced to minority status, although it will presumably be able to rely on the support of Gerry Wood, the long-serving independent member for the pastoral electorate of Nelson. While the CLP margin in the seat is 13.2%, swings in the Northern Territory tend to be large due to the small size of the electorates (about 5000 enrolled voters each) and consequent importance of sitting member effects.

Palmerston is a fast-growing satellite city located about 20 kilometres east of central Darwin, and is serviced by three electorates in the Northern Territory parliament. Blain covers its southern end, including the suburbs of Woodroffe, Moulden, western Rosebery and the new development of Bellamack. It has been held by the CLP since its creation in 1997, but the margin fell to 3.3% at a by-election held in 1999 after the mid-term retirement of Barry Coulter. It was thereafter held comfortably by Terry Mills, who had two stints as party leader – from November 2003 to February 2005, when he stood aside admitting he “wasn’t up to the job”, and from January 2008 when he emerged at the head of a party room that had been reduced to four members by the 2005 election debacle. His position was secured by a 9.2% swing to the CLP under his leadership at the 2008 election, which was followed by a 5.1% swing in 2012. However, his hold on the loyalty of the party room remained shaky, and a 12.4% swing to Labor at the Wanguri by-election in February 2013 was enough to precipitate his demise.

The CLP’s candidate for the by-election is Nathan Barrett, a port worker and former high school teacher. Labor is again fielding its candidate from 2012, police officer Geoff Bahnert. Running as an independent is Matthew Cranitch, the president of the territory branch of the Australian Education Union, which is not affiliated with the ALP. Cranitch has dealt Labor a blow by putting Barrett and ahead of Bahnert on his how-to-vote card. Other candidates are Palmerston councillor Sue McKinnon for the Greens and former naval officer Peter Flynn of the Citizens Electoral Council.