Senate – New South Wales – Australia 2019

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2019Term due to expire 2022
Brian Burston (One Nation) Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal)
Doug Cameron (Labor) Kristina Keneally (Labor)2
David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats) Jenny McAllister (Labor)
Jim Molan (Liberal)1 Deborah O’Neill (Labor)
Lee Rhiannon (Greens) Marise Payne (Liberal)
John Williams (Nationals) Arthur Sinodinos (Liberal)

1Jim Molan replaced Fiona Nash on 22 December 2017 following the High Court ruling that Fiona Nash was ineligible to sit.
2Kristina Keneally replaced Sam Dastyari on 14 February 2018 following Sam Dastyari’s resignation.

Dating back to 1951, when the Senate for the first time was entirely made up of Senators elected by proportional representation, Senate representation from New South Wales has been relatively stable. Up until 1958 the numbers remained steady with 5 ALP senators, 4 Liberal senators and 1 Country Party senator. 1958 saw the Country Party win a seat off the ALP, giving the Coalition a 6-4 majority amongst NSW senators. The ALP gained two seats in 1961, giving them a 6-4 majority. The Country Party recovered a second seat in 1964, restoring an even balance of ALP and Coalition senators. In 1970, the sitting Country Party senator was defeated, as was the Country Party senator who had filled a casual vacancy, meaning that the party lost both its seats, while the Democratic Labor Party won a NSW senate seat for the only time. The result produced a 6-4 majority for the ALP over the right-wing parties.

The 1974 double dissolution restored the 5-4-1 balance between the Labor, Liberal and Country Party, which was maintained in 1975. 1977 saw the ALP lose one of its five senate seats to the Australian Democrats. This 4-4-1-1 balance was maintained in 1980. The 1983 double dissolution saw the Liberal Party lose a seat to the ALP, seeing five ALP senators, three Liberals, and one senator each for the Democrats and National Country Party. This result produced a 6-4 majority for parties of the left for the first time 1970. The ALP and Democrats collectively maintained a majority in the NSW senate delegation for the entirety of the Labor government.

The 1984 election saw the Senate’s size increased, with New South Wales gaining an eleventh and twelfth senator. The Democrats and the National Country Party each maintained a single senator whilst the ALP gained a sixth and the Liberals a fourth. The 1987 double dissolution saw the ALP lose its sixth senator to the Nuclear Disarmament Party. The 1990 election saw the ALP and Democrats each gain a senator, at the expense of the Liberals and NDP, producing a result of 6 ALP, 3 Liberals, 2 Democrats, 1 National. This gave the ALP and Democrats an 8-4 majority. In 1993 the Democrats lost a seat, with the Nationals gaining a second senator in NSW for the first time since 1970.

In 1996, the ALP lost a senate seat to the Liberals, producing an even split between the ALP and Democrats and the Coalition. The left gained a majority again, however, in 1998, when the Nationals lost a senator to the Democrats. In 2001, Democrat Vickie Bourne was defeated by Greens candidate Kerry Nettle, maintaining a 7-5 left-right split.

The last Democrat, Aden Ridgeway, was defeated in 2004, replaced by Nationals candidate Fiona Nash, restoring a 6-6 split between the ALP and Greens and the Coalition. The 2007 election saw the ALP win a sixth senate seat at the expense of the Greens. This was the first election since 1975 to result with NSW having no minor party senators, with a 6-6 split between the ALP and the Coalition.

In 2010, the Greens won back a single Greens seat, with former state MP Lee Rhiannon moving to the Senate. The ALP lost one of their three seats to the Greens, while the Liberal Party maintained their three seats.

In 2013, the Coalition maintained their three seats, while Labor lost their third seat to the Liberal Democrats’ David Leyonhjelm. The LDP benefited from a massive donkey vote thanks to a good ballot position on an extremely large ballot, polling 9.5%. Labor was reduced to four NSW senators for the first time since the Senate was expanded.

The 2016 double dissolution only produced one change in the party balance. Labor maintained four seats, while the Greens and the Liberal Democrats held on to their single seats. The Coalition lost one of their six seats, which went to One Nation.

2016 result

Liberal/Nationals 1,610,62635.9+1.74.6610
Labor 1,405,08831.3-0.34.0662
Greens 332,8607.4-0.40.9633
One Nation184,0124.1+2.90.5325
Liberal Democrats139,0073.1-6.40.4023
Christian Democratic Party121,3792.7+1.00.3513
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers88,8372.0+0.70.2571
Nick Xenophon Team80,1111.8+1.80.2318
Health Australia Party53,1541.2+1.20.1538
Family First53,0271.2+0.80.1535
Democratic Labour Party51,5101.1-0.40.1491
Animal Justice37,9910.8+0.40.1099
Sex Party30,0380.7-0.40.0869
Liberty Alliance29,7950.7+0.70.0862
Marijuana (HEMP)29,5100.70.00.0854
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party26,7200.6+0.60.0773

Preference flows
Eight seats were won on primary votes – Labor and Coalition each won four seats.

The Greens’ Lee Rhiannon came very close to a quota, and passed a quota when lead Arts Party candidate Barry Kerdoulis was excluded, with twenty-two candidates still in the count.

The count was very long, but we can fast forward to the final ten candidates in the count for the last three seats:

  • John Williams (NAT) – 0.7399 quotas
  • Brian Burston (ON) – 0.7078
  • David Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.4543
  • Nella Hall (CDP) – 0.4015
  • Karl Houseman (SFF) – 0.3421
  • Aidan Dalgliesh (NXT) – 0.3106
  • Phil Jobe (FF) – 0.2263
  • Lynda Stoner (AJP) – 0.2159
  • Ross Fitzgerald (SXP) – 0.2132
  • Andrew Patterson (HAP) – 0.2112

Patterson had the donkey vote, and half of his preferences flowed to Family First, who were quite close on the ballot. Following the exclusion of Patterson and Fitzgerald, this is where they stood:

  • Williams (NAT) – 0.7724
  • Burston (ON) – 0.7368
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.4747
  • Hall (CDP) – 0.4076
  • Houseman (SFF) – 0.3777
  • Dalgliesh (NXT) – 0.3332
  • Jobe (FF) – 0.3257
  • Stoner (AJP) – 0.2835

Stoner’s preferences scattered, with One Nation doing the best:

  • Williams (NAT) – 0.7958
  • Burston (ON) – 0.7651
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.4858
  • Hall (CDP) – 0.4162
  • Houseman (SFF) – 0.3963
  • Dalgliesh (NXT) – 0.3533
  • Jobe (FF) – 0.3524

Family First preferences scattered amongst a range of conservative candidates, with Leyonhjelm doing best:

  • Williams (NAT) – 0.8446
  • Burston (ON) – 0.7996
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.5468
  • Hall (CDP) – 0.4447
  • Houseman (SFF) – 0.4389
  • Dalgliesh (NXT) – 0.3587

Xenophon Team preferences favoured the Nationals:

  • Williams (NAT) – 0.9290
  • Burston (ON) – 0.8480
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.5681
  • Hall (CDP) – 0.4645
  • Houseman (SFF) – 0.4526

Shooters preferences favoured One Nation, and slightly expanded Leyonhjelm’s lead for the twelfth seat:

  • Williams (NAT) – 0.9992
  • Burston (ON) – 0.9717
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.5963
  • Hall (CDP) – 0.4847

Hall was excluded, and the other three candidates were elected.


  • Mehreen Faruqi (Greens)

Most major party senators elected in New South Wales in 2016 are not up for election until 2022. The remaining senators include the incumbents from One Nation, the LDP and the Greens, along with only one Labor senator and two Coalition senators.

You would expect that Labor would regain a second seat, possibly at the expense of the Greens, but more likely at the expense of a conservative candidate.

The Greens failed to win a seat in 2013 and would have been very close to losing in 2016 if there were only six seats up for election. They still have a decent chance at winning a seat. If they don’t, it’s conceivable Labor could win three (an increase of two). The Greens have replaced their incumbent senator Lee Rhiannon with state MP Mehreen Faruqi, who could inject a different dynamic into the Greens campaign.

It seems likely that Leyonhjelm and Burston will be competing for a single seat, although it is also possible both could lose and a third Coalition candidate could win.
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  1. With One Nation falling apart I’m expecting Leyonhjelm may have an easier time retaining his seat.

    I’m also expecting Labor to pick a seat off the Greens.

  2. Leyonhjelm won’t get re-elected, as the senate reforms mean the ballot paper will continue to shrink over time. The Liberals will be desperate to get a 3rd seat and I expect them to be very vigilant with how to vote cards specifically designed to avoid voter confusion.

    I doubt Burston will still be in One Nation by the time the election comes up, and I don’t think the brand will be strong enough outside of Queensland to get anyone running for PHON elected either way.

  3. “They still have a decent chance at winning a seat. If they don’t, it’s conceivable Labor could win three (an increase of two)”

    I disagree Ben, I don’t see Labor out-primarying the Greens by the required 2 quotas to exclude them (I don’t think Labor would gain vs Greens on left micro preference flow).

    This will be your standard 3 left-3 right split. The left will be 2 ALP and 1 Green, the right will be 2 Lib/Nat and 1 wildcard, most likely to be another Lib but ON is possible.

    I don’t think Leyonhjelm could possibly get up unless he has incredible luck once again (2013 excellent position on a tablecloth ballot and then 2016 full senate election reducing the quota to 7.7%).

  4. The ALP would only need a swing of about 4-5% to outpoll the Greens for the third seat on primary votes. Quite plausible in current circumstances.

  5. Would say….onp loses a seat…..greens in a weakened posn …..ldp…. Given his misbehaviour in the senate will be endangered too….. Alp 2 lnp 2………..maybe a 3/3 split with no crazies

  6. ALP 2
    LNP 2
    Greens 1

    Leyonhjelm, Shooters or PHON would have won the last seat under the old system, but in the new system I could imagine their votes not flowing to each other well enough. Could easily be a third seat for a major party.

  7. Using the 2016 results as the baseline:

    -Barring a record collapse, ALP will gain a second seat.

    -The Coalition will retain its seats, also barring a record collapse.

    -How the Greens will fare depends on their performance relative to the ALP. Assuming their support stays roughly where it is, they should keep their seat if the ALP polls below 34% on primary vote, will lose it if the ALP polls at 36% or above, and will be a toss-up if the ALP is between 34% and 36%. If their vote drops, the ALP can win on a lower primary vote; if it increases, the ALP will be far less likely to get their third.

    -The minor parties will clearly lose one seat. What happens to the other depends on the Coalition’s performance. If they stay roughly at their current level, the Coalition gains a third seat. If the Coalition plunges, it depends on both the depth of the plunge and if any group can consolidate (which, in terms of NSW, doesn’t seem likely). If the Coalition gains, the question is moot.

    -For a good hunk of this, it would be best to wait for the state election results for the Legislative Council (assuming the state election is before the federal one), as it will be more telling concerning the state of the minor parties relative to one another.

  8. High profile always helps, So even if Labor win a landslide nationwide i still see, Payne and Sinodinos, If the Liberals lose a senator from NSW it will be Jim Molan most likely. Labor Likely to hold all seats that are up, Including Keneally, she is high profile

  9. Daniel what are you on about? Payne and Sinodinos are not up for re-election, neither is Keneally.

    One point of interest emerging is will the Nationals run on a split ticket? Strategically it would make sense for the Coalition. Split ticket would considerably improve their chances at winning 3 seats.

  10. Actually if they call a double dissolution if the requirements are met, They can call one, But it has to be at a certain time.

  11. There’s no trigger for a double dissolution, it’s too late to manufacture one, and it’s sheer madness to call one if you are trailing in the polls. It’ll be a half senate election.

  12. There won’t be a double dissolution. I don’t even think they have the triggers available? Why would they do that? They don’t need to do it for timing, and it would be much better for the minor parties while there’s a lot more Lib senators not up for election.

    My understanding is that Jim Molan will be first on a joint coalition ticket, with another Liberal (Andrew Bragg possibly?) second followed by the Nationals candidate third.

  13. I just don’t see the Greens winning a Senate seat in NSW at this election unless they substantially increase their vote. At the last half-Senate election in NSW in ’13, they failed to win a seat, and Rhiannon would have likely been defeated had 2016 been a half-Senate election.

  14. Paul the Greens have been quietly gaining in the polls over the last 4 months.

    All polling numbers are lower house primary vote though so it’s a bit tricky to estimate the senate vote. Currently in NSW they are polling +1.5% from what they achieved in 2016, which would imply a senate primary vote of ~8.9% which under the new preference rules is quite a strong starting point.

  15. Father Rod Bower says he is running as an independent which is could be a forlorn hope in the largest state in Australia, massive campaign required up get him up.

    I reckon he’d be best served registering a party, for example “Christians for refugees” or something. As an ungrouped candidate he’d stand no chance at all.

    I doubt he could get in ahead of 2 ALP and 1 Green senator, but it would be interesting to see if he can colonise some wet Liberal vote (that Kerryn Phelps showed was open to voting on refugee issues) and some CDP vote that is voting for the word “Christian” to make this into a “4 left, 2 right” state, he’d need maybe ~5% of the vote and then strong flows from Labor voters, and for the right wing minor party voters (LDP, PHON, UAP, AC, CDP) to fail to be disciplined in feeding each-other with preferences.

  16. Lee Brown (“Rhiannon”) is always good for a laugh, claiming that “tens of thousands” belonging to the CPA in the forties and fifties is significant (um, no, not in a country with a population of millions), or that her parents and others who joined socialist and communist parties during the Cold War were altruists (um, no, they knowingly ignored the oppression and atrocities of the Communist bloc).

  17. Paul, it’s disgusting isn’t it. Those of us who are descendants of people that fleed Cold War era Eastern European Communism will never forget the atrocities.


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