WA Senate 2014 – Liberal Party wins final seat


After the closeness of the 2013 election, we were all ready for a close contest in 2014, but that hasn’t eventuated. At the end of election night, the ALP’s Louise Pratt looked like she had a chance of overtaking the Liberal Party’s Linda Reynolds in the race for the final seat. After a full week of additional counting, Reynolds’ lead has grown, and she will be winning the final seat, for a total result of 3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green and 1 Palmer United Party.

Last Sunday, the day after the election, I wrote about the likely shifts in votes, which I predicted would help Reynolds win the final seat. The following day, I also outlined possible scenarios last Monday which could see Louise Pratt gain the lead. We now have a much clearer picture about how the result has gone.

According to the ABC Senate calculator, it now predicts Reynolds to win the final seat by a margin of 0.036 quota. In this post, I’ll run through some of the reasons why this has happened, and why Louise Pratt’s chances have disappeared.

We have been learning new information about votes in two ways. Firstly, special votes that hadn’t been reported on election night have started to be counted. Absent votes have been counted in nine out of fifteen electorates. Pre-poll votes (not including local pre-poll votes which were counted on election night) have been counted in eleven, and postal votes have been counted in twelve electorates. I believe that more votes are yet to be counted in electorates that have reported figures.

In addition, all votes counted on election night were counted as ‘unapportioned’ votes for each group, instead of being identified as either above-the-line ticket votes or below-the-line votes for a particular candidate. Approximately two-thirds of all ordinary votes have now been moved from the unapportioned line to be counted as either above-the-line or below-the-line.

As expected, postal votes make up close to a majority of all special votes counted, although I believe postal votes will increase as a proportion of the vote.

In postal votes, the Liberal Party polled 9.5% higher than amongst ordinary votes. The ALP and PUP polled only slightly lower, while the Greens vote is less than half of that from election day. Since Pratt was relying on Greens preferences to win the final seat, the poor Greens postal vote has impacted on Pratt’s position at the end of the count.

The Liberal Party and ALP both polled more poorly amongst absentee votes, while the Greens and PUP polled higher.

Over 30% of below-the-line votes counted so far were for Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, and this number reaches 32.8% for the entire Greens ticket, compared to 15.4% overall.

While Louise Pratt outpolled Joe Bullock below-the-line (9.3% vs 7.5%), overall the ALP polled less below-the-line than it did above-the-line. Over 40% of below-the-line votes were either for a Greens candidate or for Joe Bullock. The ABC calculator assumes all of these votes will flow to Pratt in the final race, but some of them will likely leak to the Liberal Party. This strong below-the-line performance may outweigh the fact that the Liberal Party would be expected to suffer preference leakage on below-the-line votes due to the Liberals relying on more preferences from other groups.

We won’t have the full picture for a couple of weeks, at which time we’ll have a full picture of below-the-line votes and how the parties performed across the entire state on special votes, but at this point in time it’s pretty clear that the Liberal hold has strengthened and is likely to strengthen further.

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  1. I don’t understand the comment about 40% of below the line being for either Greens or Joe Bullock, since Louise Pratt received a bigger percentage than Joe Bullock? What am I missing?

    Am really hoping something changes from the predictions and we don’t lose an excellent Senator!

  2. @Jandrews, approximately 33% of BTL votes were for the Greens, and about 7% were for Bullock. Another 9% were for Pratt.

    So 33% + 7% = 40%.

    Pratt isn’t going to win. We now have enough information to know this.

  3. Considering that, as of July 1, the Greens Senate team will be 70% women, including a woman representing every state, I think you can give them a pass.

    Also I think the ALP has a majority of women in the Senate, although it may be 50-50 now without Pratt.

  4. I feel sorry for Pratt with Bullock getting the 1st spot on the ALP group ticket. Bullock is worse than Shorten and that is saying something. Smart union leaders like Greg Combet and the Secretary of the AWU Howes have left the sinking ALP ship.

  5. This result also means that in this cycle the Coalition and conservative minor parties won 4 of 6 seats in 3 states, an unprecedented result, making it practically impossible for Labor and the Greens to regain control of the Senate at the next election regardless of what happens in the House of Reps. Barring a double-dissolution this is the Senate we’ve got for 6 years.

  6. What severely hurt the Greens’ chances of keeping the Senate balance of power in this cycle – 2010 was a fluke and they are a party of the left and cannot appeal to centrist voters – who are the majority of voters in Australia and always have been – like the Australian Democrats were able to.

  7. 2010 wasn’t particularly flukey. Here’s the recent 4/6 results for either right or left:

    right: Qld 04, Vic 04 (FF)
    left: Tas 07
    left: Tas 10
    right: Qld 13 (PUP), WA 13 (PUP), NSW 13 (LDP)

    Five of the seats the Greens won in 2010 were from Labor, so the total number of left seats stayed the same. The more flukey results were 2004 and particularly 2013.

    A nasty sting in the tail: If Labor manages to improve to the point they get a 3-all right-left result in every state in 2016, they’d still go further backwards, because they lose a seat in Tasmania.

  8. That’s the flaw of ticket voting – parties sure of a whopping share of the vote can put the most undesirable candidates at the top of their tickets in the knowledge that they’ll get there. But most voters would rather just vote ‘1’ and get the hell out of the polling booth as fast as they can.

  9. I am 61 but for Bullock to be elected to Parliament for the first time at age 59 or 60 is ridiculous. Physically, and perhaps mentally, people that age are not up to it and 60 is the time MHR’s or Senators should be long gone, not entering Parliament. I know this sounds a bit ageist but its true.

  10. Adrian: in the 1970s, Labor introduced a compulsary retirement age for their parliamentarians, to prevent “Billy Hughes” type situations where MPs or Senators were still in parliament in their 70s and 80s.

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