Upper house results: take two

Andrew Landeryou reports that the upper house recount for Northern Metropolitan has indeed overturned the shock DLP win and delivered the final seat to Labor’s Nazih Elasmar, putting the upper house numbers at ALP 20, Liberal 15, Nationals 2, Greens 2, DLP 1. However, the roller-coaster ride might not be over yet – Landeryou also reports that the recount in Western Metropolitan, where the provisional result was decided by a 76-vote margin at a vital point in the count, might yet deliver a seat to the Greens’ Colleen Hartland at the expense of Labor’s fourth candidate Henry Barlow. This should be resolved within the hour (for the record, it’s currently 2.46am EST).

UPDATE (4.09am): I’m off to bed, so those seeking the late mail on Western Metropolitan will have to look elsewhere.

UPDATE (12.53pm): I’m awake now, and Colleen Hartland indeed bumped out Henry Barlow after the margin at the key point in the count shifted 100 votes the other way. So the scorecard reads ALP 19, Liberal 15, Greens 3, Nationals 2, DLP 1. Nazih Elasmar’s win notwithstanding, the net effect of the recount is not good for Labor – unless you take the view that what’s good for the Greens is good for Labor (or at least the broader Labor cause), which it seems many do. Before they could have got legislation through with the support of the Greens, the DLP or the Nationals. Now only the Greens or the Nationals can give them more than a blocking majority. Bragging rights go to blogger Aaron Hewett of Urban Creature, who tipped the result perfectly on November 16. I wrongly tipped Liberal 3, Labor 2 in Western Victoria, and Labor 4, Liberal 1 in Western Metropolitan.

Re-Groupers

The button has been pressed on the Victorian upper house election, producing a shock result: the DLP has won TWO seats, in Northern Metropolitan as well as Western Victoria. Evan Thornley has just got over the line in Southern Metropolitan. So the final numbers are Labor 19, Liberal 15, Nationals 2, Greens 2, DLP 2. The defeated Labor hopefuls are Elaine Carbines in Western Victoria and Nazih Elasmar in Northern Metropolitan, while Thornley’s seat comes at the expense of the number three Liberal candidate, David Southwick. Hat tip to Antony Green and Andrew Landeryou.

UPDATE (6.25pm): I am informed that the ALP doesn’t think the Northern Metropolitan result looks right and have called for a recount, whatever that might entail.

UPDATE (10.02pm): Andrew Landeryou reports: "ALP strategists are convinced now that the VEC has made a serious error in the northern metropolitan count. It appears that there might be an issue with the calculation of Democrats preferences. VEC sources tell the OC they have hired hundreds of people for re-counting tomorrow".

UPDATE (13/12/06): Alternatively, Antony Green notes the apparent last-minute counting of 8000 above-the-line votes that overwhelmingly favoured the Liberals. This would have increased the quota and reduced the size of the Greens surplus flowing to Labor, leaving them just short of a third quota and allowing the DLP to mop up the remainder.

UPDATE II (13/12/06): Antony Green again, with a potential explanation for those last-minute Liberal votes: "The VEC believes up to 6,000 Liberal votes in Northern Metropolitan may have been double counted. With the integrity of the count in doubt, an entire re-count is being undertaken".

UPDATE III (13/12/06): Via Andrew Landeryou, the following memo to Northern Metropolitan candidates from electoral commissioner Steve Tully:

Following a thorough check of the count sheet for Northern Metropolitan Region, I am sufficiently concerned about the underlying integrity of the Liberal vote in that region to require a recount of all ballot papers.

It is my preliminary view that the Liberal Party vote is overstated by about 6,000 votes and that such an overstatement could have a profound effect on the result.

In order to give parties and candidates time to arrange scrutineers, this recount will commence at 6:00 pm at MECC and will probably conclude around 3 am. The result following the recount will be recalculated.

This recount is in addition to the recounts where arrangements are already in place for Western Victoria and Western Metropolitan Regions.

I have scrutinised the count sheets and ballot paper reconciliations for the other 5 Regions and consider that there are no issues to consider. These will proceed with the current declaration arrangements.

Further, it remains the intention that the recounts will be conducted in time so as not to delay the previously arranged declarations.

Steve Tully
Electoral Commissioner

UPDATE IV (13/12/06): I have heard rumours of a VEC data entry error which saw a 0 entered as a 6, explaining the mysterious late surge in the Liberal vote in Northern Metropolitan; and also of another problem with the original distribution of preferences that had no bearing on the result. However, the ABC reports that "Commissioner Tully has rejected suggestions the Northern Metropolitan result has come from a computer error". But an explanation of some sort is required for those 8000 votes, three-quarters of which went to the Liberal Party, appearing in the count on the final day. The recount is expected to be completed very late this evening, perhaps in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

Full house? (part three)

With another Victorian upper house thread having extended beyond 200 comments, a further update would appear in order. At the time of the last post, Labor’s hopes for an upper house majority appeared to hinge entirely on Southern Metropolitan. Since then, the chances of a DLP win at Labor’s expense in Western Victoria – always possible, but somehow too bizarre to contemplate – have increased considerably. The DLP scored 2.6 per cent of the primary vote in this region, which is subsequently engorged by preferences from the Country Alliance and People Power, putting their candidate Peter Kavanagh fractionally ahead of Family First. Family First preferences in turn get Kavanagh ahead of the Nationals, unlocking enough Coalition preferences to get him ahead of both the Greens and Labor. At this point of the count, the Greens hold the narrowest of leads over Labor (130 votes, according to Antony Green); if they stay ahead, Labor will go out and their preferences will push Kavanagh over a quota. Otherwise, the Greens will go out instead and their preferences will deliver the seat to Labor incumbent Elaine Carbines. Another alternative scenario that might thwart the DLP is if what Antony describes as "a big whack of postals from a seat contested by the Nationals" put them ahead of the DLP at the earlier point of the count.

Southern Metropolitan remains on a knife edge, except that the Greens’ position has firmed in late counting – so it now looks like a contest between Labor (Evan Thornley) and Liberal (David Southwick) for the final place, rather than the three-way contest for the last two places that was in play earlier. According to Antony Green, the ticket votes alone leave Thornley 3844 short of a quota after the addition of preferences from Democrats, People Power and independent Rita Bentley, which the distribution of the Greens surplus should cut to around 2500; while David Southwick is 2934 votes short after receiving preferences from Family First and the DLP. However, there are more below-the-line primary votes for Liberal than Labor (5602 versus 4961), and in particular, there are more for Southwick than Thornley (1683 versus 633). Then there are the 5,275 below-the-line votes for parties other than Labor, Liberal and the Greens. The destination of these preferences look set to decide the issue, bearing in mind that many will exhaust given that voters are required only to number five boxes.

Full house? (part two)

By popular demand, I hereby open a new thread for discussion of the extraordinarily tight three-way race in the Victorian upper house region of Southern Metropolitan. Earlier expectations that the final seat would come down to a race between Labor’s Evan Thornley and the Greens’ Sue Pennicuik have been undone by an unexpectedly strong performance by the Liberals on postals, which has strengthened the hand of their third candidate David Southwick. Remarkably, the current result in quota terms is 3.00 for the Liberals, 1.99 for Labor and 1.00 for the Greens, making it a near-perfect three-way tie in the race for the final seat. The Greens have suffered the worst in late counting, such that the possibility has emerged of the Liberals winning the seat with a tiny surplus that helps elect Thornley, who will receive it as preferences ahead of the Greens’ Sue Pennicuik. The irony of Liberal preferences delivering Labor an upper house majority is being widely remarked upon, though their decision to put the Greens last always meant it was a serious possibility. Antony Green explains in comments that this is a rare occasion where below-the-line votes will prove decisive, so that "the models where you treat below-the-line votes as ticket votes" – such as the calculators at Upperhouse.info – "are too crude in such a close count":

What you need to do now is break the count into above and below the line votes. Add the tickets of Family First and the DLP to the Liberal vote. Add the Democrat ticket to the Greens, and People Power and Group C tickets to Labor’s vote. At this point, none of these three totals reaches a full quota, though the Greens are the closest. The balance is determined by the below the line votes. Unless the relative percentage of Labor, Liberal or Green increases against the other, none of these totals will reach a quota. The real unknown is what happens if enough BTL votes drift to the Greens. If this happens, then the Democrat ticket will elect the Green, and release a small number of ticket preferences for Labor … What Labor needs to win the last spot is for as many BTL votes to drift to the Greens before the Democrat ticket is distributed. Unless the relative %’s of the party change again, on the current count Labor will need a surplus from the Greens to win the last spot.

Full house?

The Poll Bludger’s lower house predictions left a bit to be desired – I underestimated the Nationals, failed to spot Labor’s troubles in Gippsland, missed Russell Savage’s defeat in Mildura, punted on some roughies that failed to come home (Eltham and South West Coast) and got suckered in by some faulty conventional wisdom (South Barwon and Melbourne). However, I can claim to have salvaged some pride with my upper house predictions, all of which are looking good except my call of three Liberal and two Labor in Western Victoria, which will likely be the other way round (UPDATE: See below). Given that my prediction was for a total of 20 seats for Labor, the Western Victoria bonus would give them the magic 21 seats and an absolute majority in the 40-seat chamber. Bearing in mind that the VEC still only has results in from 1744 out of 2416 voting centres, the picture appears as follows in the eight regions listed in rough order of interest (if any).

SOUTHERN METROPOLITAN

1. David Davis (Liberal)
2. John Lenders (Labor)
3. Andrea Coote (Liberal)
4. Sue Pennicuik (Greens)
5. Evan Thornley (Labor) leads David Southwick (Liberal)

Labor is coming perilously close to having its star candidate Evan Thornley lose to the third Liberal. The Greens have a quota without much room to spare after preferences from the Democrats boost them from 15.64 per cent to 17.31 per cent, above the magic number of 16.67 per cent. Similarly, Evan Thornley starts out with Labor’s 14.98 per cent surplus over the first quota and just gets there with preferences from independent Rita Bentley (0.38 per cent) and People Power (1.37 per cent), boosting him to 16.73 per cent. He will further get the Greens surplus if he needs it, which on current figures will boost him 0.60 per cent to a total of 17.33 per cent. That gives him an uncomfortable lead of 0.66 per cent; if this lead evaporates, Family First preferences will put the Liberals’ David Southwick over the line. It is interesting that Rita Bentley is giving Thornley such a valuable boost, as her preference ticket singles him out for special treatment – Thornley is in third place behind Bentley’s running mate Geoff Taylor, while the other Labor candidates are behind the Liberals.

WESTERN VICTORIA

1. Jaala Pulford (Labor)
2. John Vogels (Liberal)
3. Gayle Tierney (Labor)
4. David Koch (Liberal)
5. Elaine Carbines (Labor) leads Peter Kavanagh (DLP)

With Labor and Liberal winning two seats each, the final seat has emerged as a contest between Labor and the Greens with the tide continuing to flow to Labor. At the critical point of the count, Labor leads 9.13 per cent to the Greens’ 8.46 per cent (their 8.17 per cent primary vote plus preferences from the Socialist Alliance). Whichever of the two emerges in front will get to a quota on the preferences of the other, leapfrogging either the Nationals or the DLP. (UPDATE: The previous statement was based on the erroneous assumption that Labor preferences would go to the Greens rather than the DLP. In fact, if Labor falls behind the Greens – which is reckoned to be at least possible by those in the know – their preferences will deliver the seat to the DLP).

WESTERN METROPOLITAN

1. Justin Madden (Labor)
2. Khalil Eideh (Labor)
3. Martin Pakula (Labor)
4. Bernie Finn (Liberal)
5. Henry Barlow (Labor) leads Colleen Hartland (Greens)

After the first four seats go three Labor and one Liberal, Labor is leading the Greens in the race for the fifth seat. Labor has 9.31 per cent over the third quota against the Greens’ total of 9.14 per cent. Labor is then boosted by preferences from People Power (1.24 per cent) and the DLP (0.99 per cent), while the Greens get preferences from the Democrats (0.94 per cent) – leaving Labor with a lead of 11.54 per cent to 10.08 per cent at the critical point of the count. Whichever of the two ends up behind here will propel the other over the second Liberal candidate (7.80 per cent boosted to 11.72 per cent after Family First preferences).

EASTERN METROPOLITAN

1. Richard Dalla Riva (Liberal)
2. Shaun Leane (Labor)
3. Bruce Atkinson (Liberal)
4. Brian Tee (Labor)
5. Jan Kronberg (Liberal) leads Bill Pemberton (Greens)

After the election of two Liberal and two Labor candidates, the fifth place emerges as a close contest between Liberal and the Greens. The Greens appeared to have the edge earlier in the count, but the tide has continued to flow in the Liberals’ direction. The Liberals are currently on 11.72 per cent above their second quota, with the Greens on 10.30 per cent. With the Liberals further boosted by 4.36 per cent from the strongly performing Family First, the current result at the final count is Liberal 17.48 per cent and the Greens 15.86 per cent – surely an unbridgeable gap.

NORTHERN METROPOLITAN

1. Theo Theophanous (Labor)
2. Jenny Mikakos (Labor)
3. Matthew Guy (Liberal)
4. Nazih Elasmar (Labor)
5. Greg Barber (Greens)

The remarkable thing about the DLP’s near-miss was that it was not entirely down to the strength of their preference arrangements, which were inferior to those of People Power and the Democrats. Their vote of 4.85 per cent may well have been boosted by their position on the far left of the ballot paper, echoing their strong 2.3 per cent Senate vote when they were similarly placed in 2001. It was suggested on that occasion that they had benefited from confused Labor voters. However, the miracle ultimately failed to eventuate because the Greens vote has steadily increased to 16.09 per cent as counting has progressed, lifting them above a 16.67 per cent quota with the addition of 1.13 per cent from the Democrats as preferences.

NORTHERN VICTORIA

1. Candy Broad (Labor)
2. Wendy Lovell (Liberal)
3. Damian Drum (Nationals)
4. Donna Petrovich (Liberal)
5. Kaye Darveniza (Labor)

The collective Coalition vote was 50.54 per cent, or a clear three quotas. With the Liberal vote on 28.65 per cent (11.98 above the first quota) and the Nationals on 21.89 per cent (5.22 per cent), these seats went two Liberal and one Nationals. Labor polled 30.05 per cent (13.38 per cent over a quota) to the Greens’ 6.86 per cent; to that the Greens could add only a tiny Coalition surplus plus further preferences from some surprising sources, with the Christian Democratic Party and the DLP both putting the Greens ahead of Labor. That still left them well short of a quota, with Labor coasting home on preferences from Family First (3.66 per cent) and the Country Alliance (2.32 per cent).

EASTERN VICTORIA

1. Philip Davis (Liberal)
2. Matt Viney (Labor)
3. Edward O’Donohue (Liberal)
4. Peter Hall (Nationals)
5. Johan Scheffer (Labor)

A straightforward result with a clear two quotas to Labor (35.36 per cent) and three for the Coalition after the addition of Family First preferences. The Nationals polled 9.70 per cent against the 4.65 per cent Liberal surplus over the second quota, and thus emerged with the third Coalition seat.

SOUTH-EASTERN METROPOLITAN

1. Gavin Jennings (Labor)
2. Adem Somyurek (Labor)
3. Gordon Rich-Phillips (Liberal)
4. Bob Smith (Labor)
5. Inga Peulich (Liberal)

Another refreshingly straightforward outcome with Labor on just over three quotas (50.72 per cent) and the Liberals just over two (33.50 per cent).

Swings and roundabouts

UPDATE: A seat I had initially overlooked in the summary below, Morwell, has undergone a very interesting turn in late counting. Where the ABC’s end of night figure had Labor 2.2 per cent ahead, the current VEC figure has them 2.4 per cent behind. Unless I am mistaken, this is because a notional Labor versus Liberal two-party count was conducted last night when in fact it was that Nationals that came second; a Labor versus Nationals count was conducted today, and the Nationals did considerably better on preferences than the Liberals. With Morwell, Mildura and three upper house seats in the bag, the strength of the Nationals’ performance has possibly been the election’s biggest surprise.

A quick whiz through noteworthy seats in the short time available before my internet allocation expires. A similar effort for the upper house will hopefully follow later today.

Bayswater (Labor 2.8%): Clear Liberal win with a 5.7 per cent swing.

Bentleigh (Labor 4.8%): Outstanding result for Labor member Rob Hudson, who picked up a 2.4 per cent swing.

Eltham (Labor 4.8%): Contrary to the Poll Bludger’s prediction, Steve Herbert picked up a 1.9 per cent swing and won easily.

Evelyn (Labor 0.3%): Liberal Christine Fyffe, who lost her seat in 2002, returns to parliament after picking up a 3.1 per cent swing.

Ferntree Gully (Labor 2.3%): At the end of last night, the Liberals led by 0.3 per cent; the latest figures have it at just 0.1 per cent, or 75 votes.

Gembrook (Labor 1.6%): Labor’s Tammy Lobato doggedly holding on to a narrow lead, which has widened fractionally from 0.3 per cent to 0.4 per cent (251 votes).

Hastings (Labor 0.9%): A Liberal gain with a 2.5 per cent swing.

Kilsyth (Labor 2.1%): Still very much in doubt, with the Liberal candidate leading by 0.2 per cent (139 votes).

Melbourne (Labor 1.9% versus Greens): I believe the ABC computer’s early prediction of a clear Greens win here last night was due to the fact that it was unable to account for the influence of new voters in the Docklands; older booths that came in first swung to the Greens, and the projection was extrapolated from these swings (UPDATE: A more considered analysis from Anthony van der Craats in comments). Now that the dust has settled, Bronwyn Pike has in fact picked up a 0.5 per cent swing and is well and truly out of the woods.

Mildura (Independent 18.5% versus Nationals): Russell Savage’s vote fell from 52.1 per cent to 34.2 per cent; Nationals up from 25.3 per cent to 40.3 per cent; Liberals up from 10.0 per cent to 11.5 per cent; Labor down from 9.2 per cent to 6.5 per cent. Nationals win by 6.1 per cent on two-candidate preferred.

Mount Waverley (Labor 2.3%): This seems to have swung the Liberals’ way in recent counting – after narrowly trailing late in the evening, they now lead by 0.2 per cent (104 votes).

Narracan (Labor 6.8%): A clear and unexpected win to the Liberals following an unheralded revolt against Labor in Gippsland, perhaps due to water issues. Liberal candidate Gary Blackwood leads by 1.8 per cent on two-party.

Prahran (Labor 4.4%): The ABC computer shifted this back into the doubtful column at one point fairly late in the count, but current figures indicate there has been no swing at all.

Richmond (Labor 3.1% versus Greens): Richard Wynne has widened his margin over the Greens to 6.4 per cent.

Rodney (Nationals 10.0% versus Liberal): Labor preferences helped deliver the Liberals a 5.9 per cent swing, but not enough to cost Paul Weller the seat.