On Elections

How people elect parliaments

The likely make-up of the new Australian Senate

The shape of Australia’s new Senate is coming into view, and it does not look to be an easy chamber for the Turnbull coalition government.

The overall position seems to be 30 Liberal-National coalition senators, 27 for the Labor opposition, 9 Greens, 3 NeXt party, 3 One Nation, 2 Liberal Democrats and two individual senators.

There is considerable vote counting yet to complete. On results published by the Electoral Commission to 13 July, the total number of votes counted between the parties in most states has reached between 73% and 76% of voter enrolments. If past elections are a guide just over 90% of enrolled voters will have voted, and will eventually be counted.

Counting of the Senate votes for Victoria is a little behind at 70% of enrolments, but Tasmania is quite advanced at 85% of enrolments. The ACT is at 81%, but the Northern Territory is at only 59% – the latter territory always has an noticeably lower voter turnout that the rest of the nation.

The counting work so far is only totalling ballot papers to the party groups, including the above-the-line first preference votes for each party group, together with any first preference votes for individual candidates marked below-the-line, which are being scored to that party’s total for the moment.

Eventually all the votes will be scored to individual candidates. The above-the-line votes will be counted for the leading candidates in the party’s column in order.

Notional seat-winning quotas won by each party can be calculated from these results, allowing estimates of which parties will win the 12 seats in each state. In each case the final 2 to 4 seats can only be estimated from the highest remaining quotas and from predictions of preference flows.

The new system of voluntary voter preferences enacted by Parliament earlier this year will make the preference predictions pretty speculative. Within like-minded clusters of multiple parties – such as christian parties, environmental and progressive groups, libertarian parties, and so on – some consistent cross-preferencing might be expected, as how-to-vote cards urged voters to do in various combinations.

But consistency of preference flowing will be low compared to the past above-the-line system, and in practice it is relatively unlikely that the initial order of quota shares will be changed by preferences.


Predicted outcomes

Two leading poll-watchers William Bowe (who posts at Crikey) and Kevin Bonham have attempted to work through the possible results. The following comments draw on their analyses.

In New South Wales, the Coalition will lose one of its former 6 seats to One Nation. The five sitting senators Marise Payne, Arthus Sinodinos, Fiona Nash, Concetta Fierrivanti-Wells and John Williams will return, but retiring senator Bill Heffernan will not be replaced by a party colleague. Instead, One Nation’s Brian Burston will enter the Senate.

image - Brian Burston

Brian Burston (NSW) has been a One Nation party member since the party’s founding in the 1990s
(image: One Nation party website)

Labor’s four sitting senators Sam Dastyari, Jenny McAllister, Deb O’Neill and Doug Cameron will return as NSW senators, as will the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.

In Victoria – noting that the count is at only 70% and therefore is more prone to late shifts –  the Coalition’s four sitting senators Mitch Fifield, Bridget McKenzie, Scott Ryan and James Patterson will be joined by a 5th in Liberal Jane Hume. Labor’s four sitting senators Kim Carr, Stephen Conroy, Jacinta Collins, and Gavin Marshall will be returned. Greens senators Richard di Natale and Janet Rice will return.

image - Jane Hume

New Liberal senator for Victoria Jane Hume, who has worked in the finance and superannuation sector
(image: Liberal party election website)


The former DLP senator John Madigan and the Motor Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir will not be re-elected, but in their place comes media figure and anti-peadophilia campaigner Derry Hinch.

image - Derryn Hinch.jpg

Media personality, anti-peadiphilia campaigner and new Victorian senator Derry Hinch (image: Derry Hinch Instagram page)

In Queensland the LNP will return only five of its previous six senators. George Brandis, Matthew Canavan, James McGrath, Ian McDonald and Barry O’Sullivan will return, but Joanna Lindgren will not. Labor will still have four senators as before, with Claire Moore and Chris Ketter returned, and with two retiring senators being replaced by new senators Murray Watt and Anthony Chisolm. The Greens’ Larissa Waters will be re-elected.

Independent Glenn Lazarus has failed to be re-elected, but into the Senate will come two new Queensland senators in One Nation’s leader Pauline Hanson and the Liberal Democrats’ Gabe Buckley.

pauline hansonThe racial views of One Nation founder and leader Pauline Hanson have been controversial in Australia since she was first elected to the national House of Representatives in 1996
(image: One Nation party website)

image - Gabe Buckley
Civil libertarian Gabe Buckley looks likely to be elected as a senator for Queensland with the Liberal Democrat party
(image: Liberal Democrat party campaign website)


In South Australia the Liberal party loses one of its five senators – Sean Edwards – but returns Simon Birmingham, Cory Bernardi, Ann Ruston and David Fawcett. Labor’s three sitting senators Penny Wong, Alex Gallacher and Anne McEwen are joined by a fourth in the return to the Senate of former senator Don Farrell.

The SA Greens will retain Sarah Hanson-Young, but lose senator Robert Simms.

Family First’s Bob Day – who lost a High Court challenge to the new Senate election voluntary preferencing rules – will also not return.

The two places will be taken by NeXt party’s two new senators Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore.

image - NeXt team
NeXt party’s newly elected members of the Commonwealth Parliament: Rebekah Sharkie (member for Mayo) and Senators Nick Xenophon, Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore
(image: Windsor Star)


Western Australia’s senate delegation will have two changes. Liberal Senator David Johnson will lose his seat, while the remaining five Liberals Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash, Dean Smith, Linda Reynolds and Chris Back will return.

Labor senators Sue Lines, Glenn Sterle and Patrick Dodson will return, and Labor picks up another seat with Louise Pratt. The Greens senators Scott Ludlum and Rachel Siewert will be re-elected.

One Nation’s Rodney Cullerton will be elected. [Update: Mr Cullerton’s eligibility to be chosen as a senator has been called into question, as outlined at the Conversation website. If he is ineligible than all the above-the-line One Nation votes will flow to the party’s second candidate Peter Georgiou, who is likely to be elected in Fullerton’s place.] Former PUP senator Dio Wang will not be re-elected.

image - Rodney Culleton
One Nation’s Rodney Cullerton, a likely new senator for Western Australia, has campaigned against bank foreclosures on farmers
(image: One Nation party website)


Tasmania’s five sitting Labor senators Anne Urquart, Helen Polley, Carol Brown, Catryna Bilyk and Lisa Singh will return, with Singh winning from 6th position on her party’s ticket on the basis of a large personal vote below-the-line.

The Liberals will return four senators as before, including Eric Abetz, Senate President Stephen Parry, and new candidate Jonathan Duniam. For the final place there will be an interesting contest between sitting senators David Bushby – placed 4th on the party’s order – and Richard Colbeck, who is placed 5th but, like Lisa Singh, is benefiting from a personal below-the-line vote. Kevin Bonham projects that senator Bushby will prevail narrowly.

Curiously, Labor will return an all-female team for Tasmania, while the Liberals have an all-male team.

In both the ACT and the Northern Territory the seemingly inevitable results of one Liberal and one Labor senators are repeated, with Zed Seselja, Katy Gallagher and Nigel Scullion now joined by new Labor NT senator Malarndirri McCarthy, a journalist and a Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria.


Possible alternative results

The  above predictions are the most likely results. The experts rate a few of them as potentially changeable.

The Greens have two senators at potential risk, with Rachel Siewert (WA) and Janet Rice (Victoria) both low chances of losing to Liberal or National alternatives.

There is also a slight possibility that if Liberal candidates David Bushby and Richard Colbeck in Tasmania finish very close to one another, they might both by marginally ahead of the Greens Nick Mckim, and therefore secure the 11th and 12 state seats by default, with McKim in the losing 13th place.

Obviously, any of these three changes would be very advantageous to the government.

In Queensland the election of the Liberal Democrat Gabe Buckley might be overtaken by another minor party candidate, but the alternative is hard to predict. Similarly it is conceivable that the NSW Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm might be overtaken.

In both cases the alternative winner would seem to be a minor party senator of the political right.







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This entry was posted on July 13, 2016 by in Australia, Current issues, Election results, Single transferable vote (STV).
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