Victoria 2018 – can below the line voting wind back the minor party wave?


The Legislative Council result at the moment looks like a big victory for Labor and the small parties, and a bad result for the Greens and the Coalition, but the impact of late counting and below the line votes is yet to be made clear.

We only have about 40-50% of the vote counted so far, and the remaining votes could change the result. Lower house results do suggest the Liberal Party has done relatively well on the pre-poll votes, so we could see the Libs come back a bit as the counting continues.

Labor is currently on 40.8%, which is a swing of 7.4%. The Liberal/Nationals vote has dropped by 7.9%, to just over 28%.

The Greens have suffered a 1.6% swing down to 9.2% – the worst result for the party under the Legislative Council voting system introduced in 2006. Meanwhile the vote for other parties has increased from 19.7% to 21.7%.

Let’s start by looking at the predicted seat outcomes from the two prediction tools I’m following.

Antony Green’s calculator takes all primary votes for each group cast so far and conducts a preference distribution based on the party’s group voting tickets, and it estimates that Labor will win 19 seats, the Coalition will win 10, and the Greens will win one. The calculator also predicts ten other crossbenchers.

Tom Clement at Geeklections, who calculates probabilities for each party to win seats, has produced a similar result. Labor and the Greens are still on 19 and 1 respectively, while he has predicted 12 seats for the Coalition and eight other crossbenchers.

The predicted crossbenchers at the moment include:

  • East Metro – Transport Matters
  • East Victoria – Antony Green predicts Aussie Battler, Geeklections predicts Shooters, Fishers & Farmers
  • North Metro – Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
  • North Victoria – both methods predict Liberal Democrats, while Antony Green also predicts Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
  • South-East Metro – Transport Matters
  • South Metro – Sustainable Australia
  • West Metro – Antony Green predicts Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Geeklections predicts Aussie Battler
  • West Victoria – both methods predict Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, while Antony Green also predicts Animal Justice Party

If you follow Antony Green’s calculator, that would be four seats for Derryn Hinch’s party off 3.37% of the statewide primary vote, which was the highest vote for any of the small parties.

We’ll have to wait for the vote-count to increase, and this could easily change a number of these outcomes, but we should also discuss the below the line vote. At the time of writing, the below the line vote is 9.7% of the total formal vote, compared to just over 6% in 2014 and 4% in 2010. It does suggest a growing trend of voters choosing to control their own preferences and opting out of the discredited group voting ticket system.

There are some interesting trends in terms of who has voted below the line. When you look at the fourteen parties who’ve cooperated in preference deals (the cabal), these parties have tended to have higher rates of below-the-line voting than Labor or the Coalition. This applies in all eight regions, where the combined vote for the 14 cabal parties had a higher below-the-line vote than the combined vote for the rest (most of which was votes for the major parties and the Greens, as well as the Socialists and some independents).

Micro-party candidates, particularly those from really small parties like Transport Matters and Aussie Battler, will need strong preference flows from the rest of the cabal to have a chance of winning – high below the line voting rates could mess that up, as you’d expect below the line votes to scatter, both to other cabal parties but also to the bigger parties. Voting data from the 2016 Senate election suggested that the bigger parties did relatively well from voter-determined preferences.

Considering this rate, and the small numbers of votes which could significantly change the outcome, I don’t think we can rely on the calculators, but they are a useful start.

This table shows the below the line rate for the parties, as well as their share of the total upper house vote at the moment.

PartyLC %BTL rate
Hinch Justice3.48.8
Animal Justice2.413.6
Liberal Democrats2.36.5
Voluntary Euthanasia1.117.0
Aussie Battler1.07.8
Sustainable Australia0.823.6
Health Australia0.713.6
Country Party0.79.2
Transport Matters0.614.7
Liberty Alliance0.615.6
Hudson 4 NV0.213.3

It’s particularly remarkable that a majority of Reason voters voted below the line, while we also saw very high rates for the Greens, Voluntary Euthanasia and Animal Justice – all progressive parties. Even amongst right-wing parties the rate increased. Only the Coalition had a BTL rate lower than the statewide average in 2014.

Now I’ll quickly run through the state of some of these races:

I was going to run through the state of each LC race but it’s pretty complex so I’ll simply refer you to Kevin Bonham’s blog post. I plan to return to this topic as the vote-count progresses.

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  1. Not all that remarkable that the majority of Reason voters went BTL – Fiona was very vocal about her anger at the preference cabal. It was her complaint that saw Druery referred to the police – it will very interesting to see what decision is made regarding the legality of cash-for-votes. As it stands, if all the micros agreed to the $50,000 per member elected figure, Druery may have just earned himself half a million bucks.

  2. So who are the Aussie Battler and Transport Matters parties?

    And it doesn’t surprise me the Greens vote is dropping with their drug apologism. I’m left wing but pushing them further and further down the ballot, trying to work out who I’m supposed to vote for without my left wing vote being taken as support for amoral pro-drug policies. Any suggestions?

  3. Aussie Battler are a populist-type group. Google Vern Hughes for details on him, he’s been around on the fringes of conservative politics for a long time.

    Transport Matters are basically a taxi/bus lobby group. They’re angry at Labor for deregulating the taxi industry, and about Uber etc.

  4. Aussie Battler Party – working class anti-immigration party. Transport Matters – founded by taxi drivers advocating mainly for: 1. equal treatment in policy between taxi operators and ride-sharing operations ie Uber 2. greater investment in public transport infrastructure.
    I would regard your assertions that the Greens engage in drug apologism and pro-drug policies as misguided. The Greens advocate treating addictive drugs as a health rather than a criminal issue. Is leaving disadvantaged communities behind economically and not investing in them particularly regarding recreational options/facilities to the point that illicit drugs become the main form of recreation and/or escape from miserable lives a moral thing to do? Is punishing and criminalising unfortunate people who become hopelessly addicted to drugs a moral thing to do? The health impacts of addictive drugs, possibly as serious as death, are often due to poor manufacture, not knowing safe dosages or one substance being mis-sold as another. These problems mainly being the result of an unregulated black market. Addictive drugs only became illegal because doing so served a nexus of racism and corporate interests in the USA. Cocaine was once sold as a medicine and used as an additive in beverages. The US then dictated to the rest of the world that these addictive drugs must be illicit. However, we have the absurdity of the most dangerous and lethal addictive drugs currently being legal in both Australia and the US, namely opioids such as fentanyl and oxycontin. Opioids are chemically altered forms of heroin cooked-up by multi-national pharmaceutical corporations. They can be up to 100 TIMES more virulent and addictive than ordinary heroin, can kill you in a matter of seconds if you take a high dosage and can be easily/carelessly prescribed to you by a doctor as pain killers! Yet marijuana, which has never killed anyone and which evidence suggests humans have been smoking for thousands of years, is illicit.
    However, I have also become disenfranchised with the Greens, so I can relate to your sentiments. As alternatives to the Greens and Labor I would suggest Democratic Labour, Sustainable Australia, Centre Alliance, Katter’s Australian Party, Jacqui Lambie Network, the Australian People’s Party and/or the Australian Workers Party to park your vote with in no particular order. Whether these parties will field candidates at future elections in your electorate is another matter altogether. Wikipedia is a good resource to check for further brief details on these or any other political parties.

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