Senate photo finishes

Crunching the numbers on a new Senate that looks no less problematic for the government than the one that preceded it.

Now that things are winding down, some overdue consideration to the Senate, with a table at the bottom outlining where I perceive things to stand.

New South Wales

If preferences don’t change the order, the result will be Coalition 5, Labor 4 and one each for the Greens, One Nation and the Liberal Democrats. However, the Liberal Democrats just barely have their nose ahead of the Christian Democrats, which could potentially be reversed on preferences. Analysis of below-the-line votes from 2013 shows strong performances on preferences for both Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats, but the Liberal Democrats would have the edge if nearly half of Labor’s voters follow the how-to-vote card, as they traditionally do for the lower house. Labor directed a sixth preference to the Liberal Democrats, and would have about 0.1 quotas distributed as preferences upon the exclusion of their fifth candidate. So it would seem that David Leyonhjelm is well placed to win the twelfth spot.


The Coalition and Labor have enough full quotas to elect four each, the Greens have one, and Derryn Hinch is close enough that he’ll clearly win the tenth seat. That leaves the following contending for the last two seats: Greens #2 (0.39 quotas), Coalition #5 (0.34 quotas) and One Nation (0.23 quotas). Nothing in the past record of preference behaviour says One Nation will close the gap, so I think we can call this Coalition 5, Labor 4, Greens 2, Hinch 1.


On full quotas, the Coalition elects four, Labor elect three and One Nation elects Pauline Hanson, while the Greens are close enough to a quota that Larissa Waters is assured of re-election. The front-runners for the other three seats are Coalition #5 (0.57 quotas), Labor #4 (0.49 quotas) and Liberal Democrats (0.35 quotas), unless Family First (0.25 quotas), Nick Xenophon Team (0.25 quotas) or the second One Nation candidate (0.17 quotas) achieve something extraordinary on preferences.

Western Australia

There are full quotas for five Liberal, three Labor and one Greens, with Labor #4 (0.70 quotas) and One Nation (0.50 quotas) assured of the next two spots. That leaves the last seat as a contest between the Nationals (0.34 quotas) and Greens #2 (0.33 quotas). The Nationals were outperformed by the Greens on below-the-line preferences in 2013, and the Liberals have very little to bequeath them in the way of a surplus, so the Greens seem the more likely winner at this stage unless their primary vote weakens significantly in late counting.

South Australia

A fairly clean result here, with four Liberal, three Labor and two NXT are elected off the bat, and NXT #3, Greens #1 and Labor #4 to follow shortly after.


The most fascinating contest is in Tasmania, given the very large number of major party voters who have gone below-the-line to give their votes to fifth-placed Liberal Richard Colbeck and sixth-placed Labor candidate Lisa Singh, who had been shafted by party powerbrokers in contentious preselection decisions. Ticket votes should be enough to elect the top four candidates on both Labor and Liberal tickets, with lead Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson and Jacqui Lambie also assured of seats, leaving two up for grabs at the end. Singh’s share of the Labor vote means that she rather than fifth-placed John Short will survive to the later stages of the count, and potentially emerge with Labor’s fifth seat. Colbeck’s vote may less consequential, since he holds fifth position on the ticket in any case, and would be just as well placed if most of his supporters had voted Liberal above the line. However, there is a potential scenario in which both Colbeck’s personal vote allows him to remain in the count concurrently with the fourth Liberal candidate long enough so that either McKim or Singh drops out ahead of them both, so that a fifth Liberal is elected at the expense of a fifth Labor or a second Greens. Such a result would deliver the Liberals a perverse benefit from giving Colbeck a low spot on the ticket and ensuring he received a vote base of his own.


Essential Research: 50-50

Results of a poll conducted concurrently with the election on the weekend, and a place for general discussion of the election aftermath.

Kind of old news now, but Essential Research didn’t let Saturday’s election stop them conduct their usual weekly poll, results of which were published on Tuesday and can be found here. I’m continuing to follow the progress of the count here, so you are invited to discuss count-related matters there while continuing discussion of a more general nature here.

State of confusion: day two

An extra cautious Australian Electoral Commission will not resume counting until tomorrow, allowing a helpful breather for those of us trying to keep on top of the situation.

The Australian Electoral Commission is dampening expectations about the progress of the count:

The initial sorting and collation of postal and other declaration votes already received by the AEC will finalise on Monday. The AEC will also check every declaration vote against the electoral roll and other requirements in order to include them to the count. Once this examination process is complete, the counting of declaration votes recently included in the count will begin. This is expected to be on Tuesday. Postal and other declaration votes will continue to be received, sorted and included in the count up until the deadline for receipt on 15 July.

What this amounts to is the AEC taking extra special care to ensure there are no repeats of the Senate fiasco from Western Australia in 2013. Many will grumble about the slow progress, but you can’t have it both ways. So no counting yesterday or today, which I’m personally relieved by as it’s giving me a chance to wrap my head around a complex situation. Here’s how I described it in response to a commenter’s query on the previous thread:

Barring some freaky late count development in a seat currently off my radar, I have the Coalition home in 70 seats, Labor home in 65, others home in five, and ten up in the air (though I haven’t yet absorbed Kevin Bonham’s notion that the Liberals could theoretically win Melbourne Ports, as may the Greens, although a Labor win seems most likely). So they would need to break 8-2 to Labor for them to win more seats than the Coalition (UPDATE: I beg your pardon — make that Coalition 69 and Labor 66, and Labor needing a break of 7-3). Out of the ten, I would, in descending order of degree, rather be in the Coalition’s position in Dunkley, Chisholm, Gilmore and Capricornia, and Labor’s in Herbert, Cowan and Hindmarsh. There are three seats I don’t even care to speculate about:

Flynn, because the LNP would make it home if they did as well on pre-polls and postals as last time, but that was apparently because they did well from fly-in fly-out workers, of which the electorate now has fewer with the end of the mining boom. It’s also possible that Labor has run a stronger postals campaign this time after abandoning the seat as a lost cause in 2013.

Forde, because there looks like being so very little in it.

Grey, because we don’t know enough about the preference flow yet, but the early indications are encouraging for the Liberals.

I’ll have a more detailed paywalled account of the situation in Crikey later today.

State of confusion

Seeking some clarity about the federal election result? Join the club.

At the end of the evening, a surprising election result hangs in the balance, with a remarkably long list of seats still up for grabs. What looked a slightly disappointing result for the Coalition early in the evening kept getting worse as the night progressed, with a number of seats that looked okay for them early on moving Labor’s way late in the night. Anything is possible, but I would now rate a hung parliament of some kind the most likely outcome, and it’s by no means impossible that it won’t be the Coalition forming the minority government.

At the 2013 election, the Coalition won 90 seats, Labor won 55, and others won five: one each for the Greens, Palmer United and Katter’s Australian Party, and two independents. Redistributions then took place in New South Wales, which lost a seat, and Western Australia, which gained one. In New South Wales, the Labor seat of Charlton in the Hunter region was abolished, but in the resulting reorganisation, Charlton’s neighbour Paterson went from Liberal to notional to Labor, as did Dobell on the Central Coast and Barton in southern Sydney. The three notionally Labor seats are now actual Labor seats, bringing the Coalition down to 87. In Western Australia, the new seat of Burt had a notional Liberal margin of 6.0%, but Labor blew the hinges off that with a 14% swing. Now let’s take a Coalition-centric look at what happened state by state.

In New South Wales, the Coalition has lost Eden-Monaro, Macarthur, Macquarie and Lindsay, and are going down to the wire in Gilmore. That brings them down to 83, with one on the endangered list.

In Victoria, there is little or nothing in it in Labor-held Chisholm and Liberal-held Dunkley. So that brings the endangered list up to two, but also brings one on to what I will call the opportunity list (which won’t be getting any longer).

In Queensland, Labor has won Longman and, following a late-evening turnaround, Flynn. Capricornia and Herbert look better for Labor than the Coalition, but I’ll nonetheless assign them to the endangered list, along with the genuinely lineball Forde, and Dickson where Peter Dutton will probably but not definitely make it over the line. Not surprisingly, Fairfax, which Clive Palmer won in 2013, goes back to the LNP. That brings them to 82, and intensifies the headache in trying to assess the situation by making it six on the endangered list.

In Western Australia, besides the previously noted Burt, Cowan could go either way. Now we have seven on the endangered list.

In South Australia, Mayo has gone to the Nick Xenophon Team as expected, bringing the best case scenario for the Coalition down to 81. Furthermore, the endangered list gets still longer with Hindmarsh lineball; Grey looking to me like a show for the NXT, with their candidate second and the Liberal member on an unconvincing primary vote of 41.6%; Boothby a less likely but still possible gain for NXT, if their candidate overtakes Labor by doing 4.6% better than him when the 13.4% Greens-plus-others vote is split three ways on preferences. Now our endangered list blows out to ten.

Tasmania at least is neat and tidy, with a surprisingly poor result for the Liberals costing them all of the three seats they gained in 2013, with Bass going on a second consecutive double-digit swing. And Labor won the Darwin seat of Solomon in a result that bodes ill for the Country Liberal Party government at their election in late August.

That brings the Coalition down to 77, which they can hope to push up to 78 if they win Chisholm. But then there’s that intimidatingly long endangered list of ten, and while they can hope to rely on the traditional tendency of postal votes to favour them, they would need to be very lucky to make it to a majority.

As for the cross bench, Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan and Bob Katter were easily re-elected; Adam Bandt retains Melbourne for the Greens, and the NXT wins Mayo; and both NXT and the Greens could gain an extra two seats each with a bit of luck (quite a lot of luck actually, in the Greens’ case).

Ultimately, the spread of possibilities for the Coalition ranges from 69 to 78, while Labor’s is only slightly weaker at 63 to 75. If Labor falls below 65, it will do so by losing seats to the Greens, who would assuredly favour them to form government.

Now for the Senate.

In New South Wales, the Coalition wins five, Labor four, the Greens one and One Nation one, with the last seat up in the air. Based on my somewhat speculative preference model, Labor gets enough preferences for their fifth candidate to compete with the Liberal Democrats for that seat, but that may be overrating the Liberal Democrats preference flow based on their strong performance from top position on the ballot paper last time. The other possibility is that it goes to the Christian Democratic Party.

In Victoria, the Coalition and Labor get to four; the Greens should make it to two; and Derryn Hinch has won a seat. The last seat is anyone’s guess, but I’m inclined to think it will be a fifth seat for the Coalition.

In Queensland, there should be five Coalition, four Labor, one Greens and Pauline Hanson, and another tough call for the last spot. The Liberal Democrats are a surprisingly good show, but I wouldn’t rule out Family First.

In South Australia, four Liberal, four Labor, three NXT, one Greens. Surprisingly, Bob Day of Family First doesn’t look like he’ll make it.

Western Australia I expect will be five Liberal, one Nationals, four Labor, two Greens. In Tasmania, five Labor, four Liberal, two Greens and Jacqui Lambie.

Federal election live thread

Here is a thread for you to discuss events as they unfold. I’ll be providing commentary this evening on ABC Radio, together with Fran Kelly, Marius Benson and Sandy Aloisi, together with Senator Scott Ryan in the blue corner and Jenny McAllister in the red.

Usual story with exit polling: we’ve got Galaxy saying it’s 50-50 in selected marginal seats, but without knowing what those seats are, it’s very hard to say what that means.

UPDATE: Bug in comments relates what we need to know from Galaxy: 5.4% swing in SA, 3.9% swing in WA, 3.4% swing in Queensland, 3.2% in New South Wales, 3% in Tasmania, 2.9% in Victoria. And there’s a ReachTEL poll for Seven showing 51-49.