New South Wales
New South Wales has produced a range of Senate results since the era of six-year half-Senate elections began in 1990, with minor parties winning seats at six elections out of nine, and the balance dividing four times in the Coalition's favour and two times in Labor's. The Greens have had only limited success before the 2016 double dissolution they won seats only in 2001, with the help of One Nation preferences, and at their high water mark in 2010. The minor party seat in 2013 went to David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats, who polled 9.5% with considerable help from the party's first position out of 43 columns on the ballot paper, encouraging confusion between it and the Liberal Party.
The result at the 2016 double dissolution election was five seats for the Coalition, four for Labor, and one each for the Greens, One Nation and the Liberal Democrats. The division of these seats into short and long term seats gave the Coalition and Labor three six-years terms each, leaving an array of parties holding the three-year seats to be filled at the coming election: one each for Labor, Liberal, the Nationals, the Greens, One Nation and the Liberal Democrats. Two of the long term Senators have moved on: Labor's Sam Dastyari over a Chinese donations scandal, leading to his succession by Kristina Keneally; and Fiona Nash of the Nationals over a dual citizenship issue. The latter was particularly notable in that the countback gave the seat to Jim Molan of the Liberals, thereby altering the balance of representation within the Coalition.
The Coalition agreement grants the Nationals the second and third seats at alternating half-Senate elections in New South Wales, and gave them the winning third and fifth positions at the double dissolution election in 2016, alongside the three seats won by the Liberals. However, the recount and reallocation of short and long terms resulting from Fiona Nash's disqualification cost the Nationals a long term seat, with Liberal Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells promoted from a short to a long term, and her short term seat going to another Liberal, Jim Molan, who was elected in Nash's place on the recount. This leaves three Liberals incumbents Marise Payne, Arthur Sinodinos and Connie Fierravanti-Wells holding long term seats and not facing re-election. By contrast, the Nationals are in danger of losing even their one remaining seat, as they have been allocated only the loseable third position on the ticket. This led party leader Michael McCormack to contemplate the Nationals breaking away from the Coalition joint arrangement and running a separate ticket.
All of the top three positions are occupied by newcomers, the top-placed Liberal being Hollie Hughes, head of government at marketing company Salt & Shein and a former staffer to Senators Bill Heffernan and Connie Fierravanti-Wells. Hughes appeared set for a seat in 2016, when she was preselected to second position in anticipation of a normal half-Senate election. However, the double dissolution required the accommodation of two senior Liberals whose terms had been cut short, and the Coalition ticket granted two of the top five positions to the Nationals. This left Hughes relegated to number six, from which she failed to win election. She would have been elected on the recount caused by Fiona Nash's disqualification, but she had since been rendered ineligible after taking a position on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, an “office of profit under the Crown”. Hughes is aligned with the centre right faction of the New South Wales Liberal Party, which is associated with Mitchell MP Alex Hawke, and occasionally, with Scott Morrison.
In second position is Andrew Bragg, a director at the Business Council of Australia and campaigner for a yes vote in the same-sex marriage campaign. Bragg was initially rated a front-runner to succeed Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth, but publicly announced he was stepping aside after polling he commissioned showed the party would stand a better chance if it preselected a woman. This reportedly formed part of a bargain pushed by Scott Morrison, with support from the factionally influential Alex Hawke of the centre right and Paul Fletcher of the moderates, in which Bragg secured support for his Senate bid.
The Nationals' position is falling vacant with the retirement of John Williams, who has served in the Senate since 2008. The new candidate is Perin Davey, Riverina-based owner of a water policy consultancy. Also preselected at the time were a slate of Nationals candidates including Bathurst businessman Sam Farraway, Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey and Wagga Wagga businessman Paul Cocking, potentially forming the basis of a full Nationals ticket if the party opted to leave the Coalition arrangement. Fiona Nash resisted approaches either to return as Senate candidate and run in the lower house seat of Eden-Monaro.
The unwinnable fourth position has contentiously been foisted on Liberal incumbent Jim Molan, a former senior army officer who was heavily involved in the government's efforts against unauthorised boat arrivals. Despite his credentials, Molan has persistently failed to gain secure positions on the Senate ticket, having contested separate preselections before the 2016 election in anticipation of both half-Senate and double dissolution elections, and respectively managing only the unwinnable fourth and seventh positions. The latter eventually secured him a seat in December 2017 under the most extraordinary of circumstances, following both the disqualification of Fiona Nash and the ineligibility of Hollie Hughes to succeed her. He was narrowly unsuccessful on seeking a top two position for the coming election, recording 141 votes in the ballot against 199 for Hughes and 157 for Bragg, which intensified conservative complaints about a dominating factional alliance of moderates and the centre right. Conservatives called unsuccessfully for Scott Morrison to intervene on Molan's behalf, and have lately campaigned for Liberal voters to support Molan by voting below the line.
The three Labor Senators who are not up for election, holding seats that were allocated six year terms after the 2016 election, are Kristina Keneally, who filled the vacancy created by Sam Dastyari's resignation in January 2018, and Jenny McAllister and Deborah O'Neill, who had the second and third positions on the ticket in 2016. The Labor Senator who was given a three-year term, Doug Cameron, is not seeking re-election. Consequently, the Labor Senate ticket for the coming election consists entirely of newcomers.
At the head of the ticket is Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, who secured decisive support from the Right to become the factional candidate for the position. Sheldon reportedly prompted grumbling among some in the Right when he proclaimed he had its support before its vote was held, but it does not appear that any serious challengers emerged.
In second place is Tim Ayres, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who stands to maintain a succession of occupants of that position who have then progressed to the Senate, following George Campbell and Doug Cameron. The union's apparent lock on the position has reportedly aggrieved rival Left unions, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia.
Labor originally endorsed as its third candidate Mary Ross, a Right-aligned general practitioner from Wagga Wagga, but she withdrew at the last minute in what was only described as a personal decision, but which may have related to concerns over Section 44 complications arising from her receipt of government payments as a medical practitioner. She has been replaced by Jason Yat-sen Li, an Australian-Chinese lawyer for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal, and the candidate for Bennelong in 2013.
The lead candidate for the Greens is Mehreen Faruqi, who replaced Lee Rhiannon in the Senate last August after defeating her in a preselection ballot, reportedly by a final margin of 1301 to 843. This maintained a convention in the Greens where outgoing Senators relinquish their seats to their preselected successors ahead of the election, to give them the opportunity to raise their profiles. Faruqi had previously held a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council since June 2013. The preselection was held against a backdrop of conflict between Rhiannon's hard left base and the party's moderate environmentalist tendency, although particularly close observers of party affairs have identified Faruqi with a separate centrist faction.
The One Nation ticket will be headed by Kate McCulloch, a Riverina farmer who came to prominence in right-wing circles when she campaigned against an Islamic school being established at Camden in Sydney's outer south-west, to the extent of being described in media reports as the “next Pauline Hanson”. McCulloch later moved to Tasmania and ran as the party's lead Senate candidate there in 2016, coming within 141 votes of winning the last seat at the expense of Nick McKim of the Greens. The result was close enough that she could potentially have found her way to the Senate through the Section 44 crisis, since some scenarios for recounts arising from disqualifications would have overturned the result for the last seat.
The incumbents up for re-election include newly minted Senator Duncan Spender, who filled the Liberal Democrats' vacancy created in March when David Leyonhjelm resigned to make his unsuccessful run for the state Legislative Council. Spender spent five years as an adviser to Leyonhjelm and was once an analyst for the Department of Treasury.