Northern Territory election live

Live coverage of the Northern Territory election count.


The links below lead to full displays of results for the 25 seats, updated live. Please excuse a few bugs that may still be evident, and also note that the calculations of booth swings and preference flows in cases where two-candidate preferred counts are not available are rather unscientific.

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 night

Robyn Lambley’s ever-precarious lead in Araluen ended the day at 13 votes, down from 17 yesterday. The NTEC says there are still 205 postals and 59 declaration votes outstanding, although not all of these will end up in the count. No new counting today in Namatjira and Barkly, and still nothing new in Blain.

Wednesday night

The CLP has hit the lead in Namatjira, where a strong trend on postals pushed them from 15 behind to six ahead, and slashed Labor’s lead in Barkly from 72 to 23, where both absents and postals added today favoured the CLP. All that would remain is a few dozen postals tops, which are unlikely to do Labor any favours, and maybe a dozen or two provisional votes, which might. In Araluen, what Robyn Lambley’s lead in Araluen has lacked in size it has made up for in consistency: extra postals and absents today left it at 17, to which it has progressed from 13 on Saturday to 26 on Sunday to 21 on Monday. Still no further counting in Blain, where Labor leads by 21. This leaves Labor with 13 confirmed wins and leads over the CLP in another two; the CLP with six confirmed wins and leads over Labor in one; and the Territory Alliance with a lead over Labor in another. Antony Green notes Labor’s primary vote is down 2.5% on the last election but the CLP’s has hardly changed, and that the CLP picked up only a small two-party swing and that even part of that could be accounted for by the switch to compulsory preferential voting.

Tuesday night

Everything that was in doubt yesterday remains in doubt today, although Labor’s 21-vote lead in Blain is handier than I thought it was: yesterday I said it would come down to the Coolalinga pre-poll booth, but Antony Green points out in comments that the votes here will have been entered as absents. No counting was conducted today for Blain or Araluen, where Robyn Lambley leads by 21. I’m not sure exactly what was counted in Namatjira today, but it has reduced Labor’s lead from 19 to 15.

Monday night

The five new two-candidate preference throws conducted today confirmed Labor wins in Fong Lim, Arnhem and Johnston and a CLP win in Katherine. They did not resolve the situation in Blain, where the distribution of Terry Mills’ preferences shows almost nothing between Labor’s Mark Turner and Matthew Kerle of the Country Liberals, with the former leading 2023-2002. This will be decided by the Coolalinga pre-poll booth, which recorded 148 votes from the electorate and still hasn’t reported for some reason.

Further counting today looked to confirm CLP wins in Braitling and Brennan, and they moved into a probably decisive lead in Daly, one of two seats they held in the previous parliament. In Barkly, Labor’s Sid Vashist’s held his lead at 72 votes, presumably thanks to rechecking, since absents broke 109-86 to the CLP. However, Namatjira is still up in the air, with Labor still holding on to a lead of 19 votes, although the strong trend to the CLP in postals seems likely to determine it in their favour. Robyn Lambley is clinging on to a 21-vote lead in Araluen, with absents breaking 142-131 but rechecking presumably cancelling it out, since she led by 26 votes yesterday.

This leaves Labor assured of a majority with no fewer than 14 seats, the CLP home in six and independents on two. The CLP could potentially win a further three, but those seats might equally go to Labor in two cases and Robyn Lambley in one.

Sunday night

The Northern Territory Electoral Commission will today conduct two-candidate preferred counts in five seats where its election night counts picked the wrong two candidates. This could potentially settle doubts about three close races: Arnhem, where the preferences of the CLP candidate and an independent will decide the result between Labor incumbent Selena Uibo and independent Ian Mongunu Gumbula, and Fong Lim, which looks a tight race between Labor and the CLP based on the primary vote, but where defeated Territory Alliance incumbent Jeff Collins was included in the preference count conducted on Saturday night; and Blain, where Terry Mills’s preferences will decide the result between Matthew Kerle of the Country Liberals and Mark Turner of the CLP. The other two seats are Katherine and Johnston, which will clearly be won by the CLP and Labor respectively.

Today’s counting widened Labor’s lead in Barkly from 71 to 102, which will probably be decisive — there are at most 600 votes outstanding for the CLP to turn the margin around. Braitling is now looking good for the CLP, as 108 postals split about evenly, leaving the 105 vote CLP lead looking too big for the outstanding votes to overhaul. The CLP has also taken the lead in Namatjira, where postals broke 81-26, turning Labor’s 30 vote lead into a 25 vote deficit, and they would also be hopeful that the trend on postals will deliver them Daly, where Labor’s lead has been cut from 28 to seven. Very much still in doubt are Brennan, where the CLP’s lead narrowed from 59 to 48 with the counting of 251 postals, with at least 400 votes still out there; and Araluen, where 179 postals increased Robyn Lambley’s lead from 13 to 26.

Barkly would give Labor a twelfth seat, from which it can hope to make it to a majority if either or both of the counts in Arnhem and Fong Lim go their way today. However, Braitling, Namatjira and probably Brennan and Daly are more likely to go to the CLP, adding to their clear wins in Spillett, Nelson and Katherine, with Fong Lim and Araluen at least potentially getting them to nine. There will be two independents from Goyder and Mulka, potentially a third from Arnhem, and perhaps also Robyn Lambley as a sole survivor of the Territory Alliance.

Continue reading “Northern Territory election live”

Northern Territory election minus one day

No polling to report, but some general musings on the state of play ahead of tomorrow’s count for the Northern Territory election.

Tomorrow is the big day of the Northern Territory election, which these days has to be regarded as the day when the votes are counted rather than cast. The campaign has been largely free of incident — certainly it’s been free of opinion polls, to which the closest approximations are betting odds (Labor at $1.35, CLP at $4, Territory Alliance at $8.50) and Burt the psychic crocodile (CLP to win). Today’s Northern Territory News editorial endorses the CLP in a roundabout sort of a way, but whatever extent that might have mattered has diminished almost to zero given that 47% of enrolled voters have already voted, and barely more than a quarter can be expected to do so tomorrow.

One point of interest is what will happen in the event of a hung parliament, which no Northern Territory election has yet produced, but is a substantial possibility tomorrow. The Territory Alliance goes into the election with three MPs, including two who started their careers with the CLP and one with Labor. It presumably says something that they are directing preferences to the CLP ahead of Labor in all but two seats, although players in their position have certainly surprised before.

Two independent incumbents are seeking re-election: Yingiya Guyula in Mulka (formerly Nhulunbuy) and Kezia Purick in Goyder, whose seats would be expected to be won by Labor and the CLP respectively in normal circumstances. It might be thought that Labor had won Purick over when they kept her on as Speaker after the 2016 election, but that calculus may have changed when she resigned after adverse findings against her by ICAC in June — as may her chances of defending the seat. Another independent, Gerry Wood, is retiring as member for Nelson, but he has endorsed a new independent, Beverley Ratahi, whose chances are rated very highly.

My trusty election guide remains in action here, and I will have a paywalled piece on the election in Crikey later today. I hope to have a live results facility tomorrow, but I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if it operates at 100% efficiency. This is a distinctly challenging election to be doing this with, given the huge shift from election day to pre-poll voting, large number of seats that will not have straightforward Labor-versus-CLP counts easily comparable with equivalent counts from last time, the emergence of a substantial new party on the scene, and a move from optional to compulsory preferential voting.

Northern Territory election minus one week

Six more shopping days left of the Northern Territory election campaign, which has so far proceeded in a generally uneventful manner.

One more week to go until the Northern Territory election, which from this remove seems to be proceeding uneventfully, unless you count the Northern Territory News’s targeting of Michael Gunner with a trademark News Corp Photoshop job after he confusingly asserted the territory would have “hard border controls in place for at least the next 18 months”.

The only whiff of polling that I’m aware of is a report in the Northern Territory News ($) last week that said MediaReach polling for the Territory Alliance had “Labor and Territory Alliance nearly neck and neck and ahead of CLP” in Drysdale and Braitling, respectively held by Labor on margins of 5.2% and 3.0%. These are the only two electorates in which the Territory Alliance is directing preferences to Labor ahead of the CLP apart from Port Darwin, where the party has had a late change of heart owing to its candidate Gary Strachan’s opposition to fracking. It has Labor last in all the other seats it is contesting, which is most of them.

Northern Territory election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s seat-by-seat guide to the Northern Territory election, to be held a fortnight from Saturday.

With polling day a fortnight from this Saturday, I finally have a guide to the Northern Territory election in business, consisting of an overview and guides to the 25 electorates. An except from the former:

The changes in the composition of parliament leave Labor in a position where it can lose no more than three of its existing seats without losing a majority, although it is presumably hopeful of recovering Fong Lim from Jeff Collins. Its position has been further weakened by a redistribution which, though generally limited in its effects, has caused the formerly remote electorate of Namatjira to absorb suburbs in largely conservative-voting in Alice Springs, turning it into a notionally CLP-held seat. However, the CLP’s cause has been gravely hampered by the emergence of the Territory Alliance, which demonstrated its potency by outpolling it at the Johnston by-election.

The next milestone on the road to polling day is the closure of nominations at noon today, to be followed by the draw of ballot paper positions.

Miscellany: NT poll, federal parliament seat entitlements, 2019 election book

Various recent electoral news happenings, including a new poll that suggests the looming Northern Territory election will be, if nothing else, more competitive than the last.

The Eden-Monaro by-election has naturally consumed my energies of late, and I’m continuing to follow the late count through the post below, although the result is no longer in doubt. There appears to be no Essential Research poll this week, which leaves me with the following to hang a new open thread off:

• A local environmental concern has published results of a uComms robo-poll of the Darwin area ahead of the Northern Territory election, to be held on August 22. Including responses to the forced-response follow-up for the 13% who were initially undecided, the poll records Labor on 39.3% and the Country Liberal Party on 31.0%, compared with 47.9% and 33.6% respectively in Darwin seats last time. The new Territory Alliance party of former CLP Chief Minister Terry Mills is on 13.7% and the Greens, who only ran in three seats last time, were on 7.2%. The poll was conducted on June 29 from a sample of 699.

• The determination of state and territory seat entitlements for the next parliamentary term was reached on Friday, with a conclusion that was long known in advance and discussed here at length: namely, that Victoria will gain another new seat while Western Australia and the Northern Territory will each lose one, bringing the total number of House of Representatives back to a more typical 150 from its current 151.

• The Australian National University’s regular post-election review of the federal election, entitled Morrison’s Miracle: The 2019 Australian Federal Election, contains 24 chapters of analysis of every facet of the campaign and result, and is available as a free download.

Democracy in the time of COVID-19

Queensland council elections and state by-elections to proceed in spite of everything; two polls on attitudes to coronavirus; and Josh Frydenberg off the Section 44 hook.

I had a paywalled article in Crikey yesterday considering the implications of coronavirus for the electoral process. For what it’s worth, the New York Times today reports that research finds no evidence that elections act as vectors for disease. Apropos next Saturday’s local government elections and state by-elections in Queensland, my article had this to say:

According to Graeme Orr, University of Queensland law professor and a noted authority on electoral law, it is still within the power of Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to postpone the council elections. The byelections for the state seats of Currumbin and Bundamba could also theoretically be called off if the speaker rescinded the writs. Since a state election will be held in October in any case, it might well be argued that filling the latter vacancies for a few months is not worth the bother. However, the official position is that neither pre-poll nor election day booths will experience activity amounting to a gathering of more than 500 people, as per the latest advice of the chief medical officer — advice that will surely be showing its age well before next Saturday.

In other by-election news, the Liberal National Party has put Labor last on its how-to-vote cards in Currumbin and Bundamba, and thus behind One Nation, a move that has evidently lost its taboo since the issue of One Nation preferences tore the state’s Coalition parties apart around the turn of the century. This could potentially be consequential in Bundamba, where it is conceivable that One Nation could outpoll the LNP and defeat Labor with their preferences.


• The Federal Court has dismissed a Section 44 challenge against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s eligibility to sit in parliament on grounds of dual Hungarian citizenship, to which he was allegedly entitled via his Hungarian-born mother. The petitioner, Michael Staindl, initially pointed to Australian documentation suggesting her family arrived in Australia in 1950 with Hungarian passports, having fled the country the previous year as the post-war communist regime tightened its grip. However, it was established that this arose from loose definitions used at the time by the Australian authorities, and that what the family actually had was “a form of single use emigrant exit passport”. This led Staindl to twice reformulate his argument, eventually settling on the contention that Frydenberg’s mother was left with the “shell” of a citizenship that had been emptied only by the communist regime’s arbitrary and capricious “pseudo-law”, a factor that ceased to apply with its demise in 1989. This did not impress the court, which dismissed the petition and ordered Staindl to pay costs.

• The Age/Herald has polling results from Newgate Research on which aspects of coronavirus are of greatest public concern. The results are reasonably consistent across the board, but top of the list is “the overall economic impact”, with which 41% express themselves extremely concerned, 36% quite concerned, 19% slightly concerned and 4% not at all concerned. “Regular health services not being available” produces similar results of 35%, 32%, 25% and 8%. There are slightly more moderate results for other questions on health impacts and “shortages of food, toilet paper and other essentials”, although in all cases the combination for extremely concerned and quite concerned is well above 50%. The poll is an “online tracking study of more than 1000 Australians, taken between Wednesday and Saturday last week”.

The West Australian ($) also has a WA-only coronavirus poll, which finds 66% supporting cancellation of large sporting events, 45% for night venues, 35% for cinemas and theatres, 34% for gyms and leisure centres, 29% for schools, 28% for universities, 22% for shopping centres and 16% apiece for restaurants and cafes and public transport. Fifty-one per cent of respondents agreed the government had been fully open and honest about the risks and implications of the virus, with 25% disagreeing. The poll was conducted Friday and Saturday by Painted Dog Research from a sample of 890.

• The count for the Northern Territory’s Johnston by-election was finalised on Friday, with Labor’s Joel Bowden winning at the final count over Steven Klose of the Territory Alliance by 1731 votes (52.6%) to (47.4%), in the absence of any surprises in the full preference count. With no candidate polling more than 29.9% on the primary vote, the latter was always an abstract possibility, but the result after the previous exclusion was not particularly close, with Bowden on 1275 (38.7%), Klose on 1110 (33.7%) and Greens candidate Aiya Goodrich Carttling on 907 (27.6%). It seems unlikely that preferences would have favoured the Greens even if it had been otherwise. My live results facility now records the final numbers – there will be more where this came from on this site with the Queensland elections on Saturday week, certainly with the state by-elections, and perhaps also for the Brisbane City Council elections, depending on how things go.

Note also two new posts below this one, one dealing with a new poll of state voting intention in Tasmania, the other being Adrian Beaumont’s latest contribution on the Democratic primaries in the United States.

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.