NSW government moves to end random sampling in council elections

Last year I testified before the NSW state Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) about the issue of random sampling in NSW local government elections. You can read my submission, the transcript of the hearing, and the committee’s report.

TLDR: The random sampling system used to conduct NSW council elections is broken. The state government has accepted some great recommendations from the state JSCEM to fix this problem, and make some other improvements to instil more faith in our electronic counting systems, at least in NSW.

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The latest seat guides

I’ve been keeping up a regular schedule of seats for the three election guides which are gradually being posted now.

For the federal election, all of these seats have been published since last time I posted about them:

I’ve also published a guide to the Victorian state seat of Bass, and today I posted a guide to the NSW Legislative Council.

Bass, Lingiari and the NSW upper house were all requests from donors. If you’d like to prioritise a seat, you can do so if you donate $5 per month via Patreon.


Five (5!) federal by-elections on their way with latest s44 blow

The High Court this morning ruled that Senator Katy Gallagher was ineligible to sit in the Senate, making her the 13th federal politician to be undone by section 44 of the constitution in this current parliamentary term. The Court clarified that, while there is room for a person with dual citizenship to be eligible to sit in the parliament if they have taken ‘reasonable steps’, that is only excusable if it is not possible for them to renounce their citizenship. And delays are not enough to invoke that exception.

So Gallagher is out, because her British citizenship was not renounced in time. It also meant that it was no longer tenable for four lower house MPs to stay in parliament.

Labor MPs Justine Keay, Susan Lamb and Josh Wilson, along with Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, all resigned from parliament this afternoon, triggering by-elections in four different states. This is in addition to the Perth by-election, called following Labor MP Tim Hammond’s retirement last week. Presumably all five will be held on the same date.

Four of these five seats are held by Labor. It will be up to the government as to which seats they contest. Presumably they will contest some and avoid others. The Greens may also have ambitions in Perth or Fremantle, but both are probably out of reach.

I’ve now posted the seat guides for all five races. In Braddon, Longman and Perth, where I had already posted guides for the general election, those pages have now become by-election guides, including all of the pre-existing comments. The comments are now open:

This will be a busy period, just when we were expecting some quiet time before three big elections coming up at the end of this year and early next year, so if you’d like to support this website’s work please consider signing up as a patron.


Darling Range by-election coming up

I discovered last night that a by-election is pending for the WA state seat of Darling Range.

Labor candidate Barry Urban won the seat in 2017 with a massive 18.9% swing. He subsequently quit the party after he was exposed wearing a medal (for police service overseas) which he had not been awarded. He is expected to resign from parliament as early as today.

Read the guide

The guide is now up, and I’ll update it with candidate information when that comes. Remarkably, it appears that Labor, despite holding the seat, plans to abandon the seat to the Liberal Party.

If you wish to comment, please do so on the guide, where the conversation has already started.


Tasmanian Legislative Council live

10:33 – If you found this liveblog helpful, why not consider chipping in with a regular donation?

9:37 – And finally, here is a similar map for Hobart, showing the primary vote for Valentine and Griggs. Valentine did better in the north of the seat, and Griggs in the south.

9:13 – Here is the map showing the primary votes by booth for the three leading candidates. The Liberal vote is shown by default, but you can toggle.

9:06 – It’s worth noting that Sorell and Brighton were Labor’s best areas at the recent lower house election. Mav’s vote in that area has presumably done serious damage to the Labor vote, but it could suggest that his preferences would favour Labor if he doesn’t make it to the top two.

8:47 – This table shows another perspective on the vote distribution. I split up ordinary election-day votes into the six LGAs. While Mav is currently coming third, he won a plurality of votes in the two most populous LGAs at the southern end of the electorate, and won by quite a bit in Sorell, which is the most populous part of the electorate by some distance.

But Mav came a distant third (or possibly fourth) in the other four council areas, with no area polling more than 13.3%. This explains why Mav’s vote caught up late in the night. He did much better in the bigger, more urban booths.

LGALIB %ALP %Mav %Formal votes
Southern Midlands30.619.613.32542
Glamorgan/Spring Bay31.620.811.22061
Northern Midlands31.028.711.2868
Other votes27.420.817.84380

8:43 – This map shows which of the three leading candidates won each booth. Howlett (Liberal) won most booths in the centre and north of the seat. Labor pretty much only won booths on the Tasman and Fleurieu peninsulas, while Mav won a series of booths closer to Hobart.

8:22 – There isn’t much more to report, but I’m putting together some maps of the Prosser election results.

8:02 – The gap between the top three in Prosser is now only 5.7%, so all three candidates are in with a shot. It appears likely that, in a race between Labor and Liberal, Mav and Mulder’s preferences will both shore up the Liberal lead. But who knows what will happen if Mav can get ahead of Labor. It’s hard to see Labor winning.

7:46 – Steve Mav has been surging in support in the last few booths. He was at 18% a little while ago, and now he’s on 20.2%. This is just behind Labor on 21.7% and the Liberal on 25.6%. He’s well and truly in the contest.

7:37 – Only four ordinary booths are yet to report in Prosser, and the gap between Liberal and Labor has narrowed to just over 6%. But Steve Mav is also narrowing the gap. He’s now polling over 15%.

7:22 – Valentine leads 43.4% to Griggs on 27.6% in Hobart. It looks very likely he’ll win. Kevin Bonham (who is running a model) has projected that he will win.

7:20 – Quite a lot more counting has been finished. In Prosser, 19 out of 27 booths have reported, with Howlett (LIB) on 27.65% and Lambert (ALP) on 20.73%.

7:06 – Six booths have reported in Hobart, with another nine to come. Valentine has fallen back to 44.2%, with Griggs on 26.6%.

7:03 – Fourteen booths have reported in Prosser, with another fourteen to go. The pattern is similar, with Liberal candidate Howlett leading on 29.5%, followed by Labor candidate Lambert on 19.4%, then Mav on 12.3%, then Mulder on 10.1%.

6:53 – We have three booths in Hobart, and incumbent MLC Rob Valentine is leading with 46.1% of the primary vote, followed by independent candidate Richard Griggs on 28.4%. Those numbers look very good for Valentine.

6:46 – With seven booths in, Labor has jumped slightly while the Liberal candidate has dropped. Independent Steve Mav is third on 10.6% – I must have missed him in the first count.

6:41 – We now have five small booths in from Prosser (none from Hobart), for a total of 951 formal votes. There are 13 candidates in Prosser, so we can’t expect a clean result on primary votes. Liberal candidate Jane Howlett leads with 33.4%, followed by Labor candidate Janet Lambert on 20%, former independent MLC Tony Mulder on 8.6% and Shooters candidate Lorraine Bennett on 8.1%.

6:00 – Polls have just closed in two Tasmanian Legislative Council electorates. The Tasmanian upper house faces annual elections, with two or three out of fifteen electorates voting each year. The whole chamber is renewed every six years. This year the inner city seat of Hobart and the new south-eastern seat of Prosser are up for election.


The latest guides – May 4

The front of this website has been quiet recently, but I’ve been regularly posting a new federal seat guide every day, so be sure to check in occasionally. The ten most recent guides are listed on the right-hand side of the front page.

Remember, if you’d like me to prioritise a particular seat (including any seat in the Victorian or NSW state elections) you can do so by pledging to donate $5 or more per month via Patreon.

I’ll be back tomorrow night with the coverage of the Tasmanian upper house election tomorrow night. See you then!


Tim Hammond resigns, triggering by-election in Perth

We are inching ever closer to a potential federal election, but some news today means we will soon have a federal by-election, in a seat no-one expected.

First-term Labor MP Tim Hammond, who represents the federal seat of Perth, announced he would retire less than two years after winning the seat, apparently for family reasons.

The earliest possible by-election date would be in June 2018.

I’ve conveniently already published my guide to the federal seat of Perth for the general election. So that guide has now been redirected to be the guide to the by-election. A new guide, adding in the results of the by-election, will become the Perth guide for the general election at a later date.

Hammond held Perth by a 3.3% margin at the 2016 election. His predecessor, Alannah MacTiernan, had served one term in parliament, succeeding former senior minister Stephen Smith in 2013.

It’s likely that Labor would win such a by-election, but it would be silly to rule out the possibility of Labor losing to a strong Liberal candidate.

Read the guide to the Perth by-election


This week’s guides – April 21

There are eight new seat guides up on the website since I last updated last Friday.

These will continue to pop up, one per day, for the next few months.


SA federal redistribution – here is the map

I’ve now finished the draft boundary map for the SA federal redistribution, following on from the draft boundaries released the previous week for Victoria and the ACT.

Download the Google Earth map for the draft SA federal boundaries.

Remember there is a wide range of electoral maps – federal, state and local, dating back at least a decade – on the maps page.

And here is an interactive map. You can toggle on and off the 2016 and 2019 boundaries.


New federal pendulum after recent redistributions

Following the release of the draft South Australian redistribution boundaries yesterday, we can now put together a pendulum of all seat margins for the next election. This pendulum uses the actual election margins for New South Wales and Western Australia, and the final post-redistribution margins for Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, as well as the post-redistribution margins for the draft boundaries for Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

I’ve included this pendulum below the fold, but you can also find it at this link. I’ve now posted the pendulum, along with a list of seats in alphabetical order and a list of seats by state, on the federal election guide. There are now twenty seat guides posted there, and I will keep posting at least one per day for the foreseeable future. The pendulum below won’t keep getting updated with fresh links but does include the twenty so far.

The only update since yesterday’s post is that I calculated two-candidate-preferred margins between the Liberal Party and the Nick Xenophon Team in Barker, Grey and Mayo. In these three seats, I calculated what proportion of primary votes for all other parties flowed to either of these two parties in the final count in those parts of the seat where NXT made the top two. Some areas were swapped back and forth between Grey and Barker, so they were included as if they had always been in the seat. This proportion was then applied to the remaining primary votes.

The figures are:

  • Barker – LIB vs NXT 4.2% (down from 4.7%)
  • Grey – LIB vs NXT 1.9% (down from 2.0%)
  • Mayo – NXT vs LIB 5.3% (up from 5.0%)

These are all shifts towards the NXT, but they should come with a grain of salt. They fit with the overall trend of the Liberal Party not losing any seats but having all of their seats become more marginal.

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