Senate – South Australia – Australia 2019

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2019Term due to expire 2022
David Fawcett (Liberal) Cory Bernardi (Conservatives)
Alex Gallacher (Labor) Simon Birmingham (Liberal)
Lucy Gichuhi (Liberal)1 Don Farrell (Labor)
Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens) Stirling Griff (Centre Alliance)
Anne Ruston (Liberal) Rex Patrick (Centre Alliance)3
Tim Storer (Independent)2 Penny Wong (Labor)

1Lucy Gichuhi replaced Bob Day on 19 April 2017 following the High Court ruling that Bob Day was ineligible to sit.
2Tim Storer replaced Skye Kakoschke-Moore on 16 February 2018 following the High Court ruling that Skye Kakoschke-Moore was ineligible to sit.
3Rex Patrick replaced Nick Xenophon on 14 November 2017 following Nick Xenophon’s resignation.


South Australia was represented by five Labor senators and five Liberal senators from 1951 until the 1961 election, when the ALP managed to gain a 6-4 majority. A 5-5 balance was restored in 1967.

Former Liberal premier Steele Hall was elected in 1974 on the ticket of the Liberal Movement, taking a seat away from the Liberal Party. Hall was re-elected in 1975, while the Liberals regained their fifth seat at the expense of the ALP. Hall retired in 1977 and was replaced by Janine Haines of the Democrats. The 1977 election saw the Democrats lose the seat, with the Liberals winning six seats to the ALP’s four.

Haines was returned to the Senate for the Democrats in 1980, alongside five Liberals and four ALP senators. The 1983 double dissolution saw the ALP win a fifth seat off the Liberals. In 1984, the Democrats won a second seat while each major party held five seats. This pattern continued until 1993, when the Liberals won a sixth seat off the ALP, producing a 6-4-2 pattern which was maintained until the 2004 election.

The 2004 election saw the former Democrats seat (belonging to Meg Lees) lost to the ALP, producing a 6-5-1 split. In 2007, Natasha Stott Despoja’s seat was lost. The Liberal Party also lost one of their six seats. The ALP and Liberals each now hold five Senate seats, along with independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens.

In 2010, the ALP lost one of their three seats to the Greens’ Penny Wright, producing an overall split of 5 Liberals, 4 Labor, 2 Greens and one independent.

2013 was a low-point for Labor, falling into third place behind the Nick Xenophon group. Sarah Hanson-Young, Nick Xenophon and the two Liberal senators were re-elected, but Labor only retained one of their two seats, with the final seat falling to Family First’s Bob Day.

The Liberal Party and the Greens both lost seats in 2016. The Greens lost one of their two seats, while the Liberal Party dropped from five seats to four. Both of these seats went to the Nick Xenophon Team, who won a second and third seat.

2016 result

Liberal 345,76732.6+5.14.2358
Labor 289,90227.3+4.73.5515
Nick Xenophon Team230,70321.7-3.12.8262
Greens 62,3295.9-1.20.7636
One Nation31,6213.0+2.70.3874
Family First30,4642.9-0.90.3732
Marijuana (HEMP)/Sex Party12,0911.1+1.10.1481
Animal Justice8,9810.8+0.20.1100
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers7,8150.7+0.20.0957
Liberal Democrats6,9130.7-2.90.0847

Preference flows
Nine seats were won on primary votes – the Liberal Party won four seats, Labor won three and the Nick Xenophon Team two.

Let’s fast forward to the last ten candidates competing for the last three seats. Most candidates haven’t advanced much since the primary vote counts, although the Greens had done the best. Kakoschke-Moore had actually lost ground compared to the NXT primary vote total, suggesting quite a few NXT votes had leaked away.

Hanson-Young and Kakoschke-Moore were both close to a quota, but the twelfth seat was wide open

  • Sarah Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.8827 quotas – up 0.1191 compared to primary vote
  • Skye Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.8190 – down 0.0072
  • Anne McEwen (ALP) – 0.5575 – up 0.0060
  • Steven Burgess (ON) – 0.4449 – up 0.0575
  • Bob Day (FF) – 0.4451 – up 0.0719
  • Sean Edwards (LIB) – 0.2574 – up 0.0216
  • Ryan Parker (HEMP) – 0.1869 – up 0.0388
  • Tania Noble (AJP) – 0.1528 – up 0.0428
  • John Hahn (SFF) – 0.1245 – up 0.0288
  • Roostam Sadri (LDP) – 0.1033 – up 0.0186

LDP preferences scattered, but particularly favoured the Liberal Party and Family First. This pushed Day ahead of Burgess.

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.8878
  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.8333
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.5643
  • Day (FF) – 0.4675
  • Burgess (ON) – 0.4532
  • Edwards (LIB) – 0.2840
  • Parker (HEMP) – 0.1908
  • Noble (AJP) – 0.1549
  • Hahn (SFF) – 0.1303

Shooters preferences favoured HEMP, One Nation and Family First:

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.8898
  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.8487
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.5722
  • Day (FF) – 0.4886
  • Burgess (ON) – 0.4793
  • Edwards (LIB) – 0.2981
  • Parker (HEMP) – 0.2210
  • Noble (AJP) – 0.1637

Animal Justice preferences particularly favoured the Greens and HEMP, but this still left HEMP in last place:

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.9291
  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.8692
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.5877
  • Day (FF) – 0.5103
  • Burgess (ON) – 0.4964
  • Edwards (LIB) – 0.3087
  • Parker (HEMP) – 0.2509

HEMP preferences flowed to most candidates, but particularly favoured the Greens and One Nation:

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.9758
  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.9069
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.6188
  • Day (FF) – 0.5501
  • Burgess (ON) – 0.5392
  • Edwards (LIB) – 0.3258

Liberal preferences strongly favoured Family First, pushing Day ahead of McEwen into the key twelfth place. NXT also did well, with Hanson-Young and Kakoschke-Moore very close to a quota.

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.9998
  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 0.9944
  • Day (FF) – 0.6740
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.6564
  • Burgess (ON) – 0.5627

One Nation was then excluded, favouring Family First and NXT. Both Hanson-Young and Kakoschke-Moore were pushed over quota:

  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 1.1694
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 1.0315
  • Day (FF) – 0.8350
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.7393

The distribution of the NXT and Greens surplus favoured McEwen, but Day won the final seat by a margin of about 0.04 quotas, which is equivalent to about 3500 votes:

  • Kakoschke-Moore (NXT) – 1.0000
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 1.0000
  • Day (FF) – 0.8868
  • McEwen (ALP) – 0.8434


  • Labor
    1. Alex Gallacher
    2. Marielle Smith
  • Liberal
    1. Anne Ruston
    2. David Fawcett
    3. Alex Antic
    4. Lucy Gichuhi
  • Jennifer Game (One Nation)
  • Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens)
  • Skye Kakoschke-Moore (Centre Alliance)
  • Rikki Lambert (Conservatives)
  • Kristian Rees (United Australia)

The Centre Alliance (formerly the Nick Xenophon Team) does not have any senators up for election at the next election. There will be three Liberals, and one each from Labor, the Greens and independent Tim Storer.

The ALP would be hoping to win at least a second seat, while the Liberal Party will have an uphill battle to hold all three of their seats.

The Centre Alliance won’t have any senators up for election. If Nick Xenophon decides to return to the Senate, he would have a strong chance of winning a seat. If he does not run, it’s not clear how well the party will do in his absence, but they’d have a real chance of at least one seat.

The Greens and Tim Storer will be squeezed on all sides. They will likely have a better chance of holding their seats if Centre Alliance does poorly, but the Greens have struggled to reach a half-Senate quota in South Australia, while Tim Storer has a low profile and not much of an organisation.
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  1. I thought that Sarah Hanson Young was doomed with the greens sitting at around the 6% mark in SA, but a Kevin Bonham post in the comments on his blog suggests otherwise:

    “On the SA Upper House figures [SHY] would have a shot. The SA Legislative Council figures convert for a half-Senate election to Lib 2.21 quotas, Labor 2.07, SAB 1.33, Green 0.42, Conservatives 0.25 etc. One of the majors or SAB could easily do better than that and beat the Greens, but the main point is that if what was NXT’s two quotas collapses to one point not very much, then the Greens might not need a high vote to win.”

    It all depends on how well Centre Alliance do (ie whether Nick Xenophon comes back). but with poor and inconsistent preference flows, the Greens might be able to pull a Bradbury.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Storer sits this election out and pops up on the Labor or Greens ticket next election. He has a good reputation but I can’t see him getting any voters that wouldn’t prefer Centre Alliance, Labor or Greens.

  3. How the NXT/Centre Alliance does will be interesting. Their vote seems to have collapsed according to Bludger Tracker and they didn’t do well in the SA election either. They did do well in Mayo recently but I’m thinking that’s more a local vote for a popular MP rather than a state voting intention. The Greens on the other hand are up +2.5% according to Bludger Track. SA is still a weaker state for them but the large increase in their vote will no doubt help a lot. Sarah Hanson-Young is also a very well known figure and will attract a large personal vote. The right hate her but the left love her. I think she’ll retain her seat but it may be close. She’s looking stronger than she did about a year ago though.

  4. Is Xenophon’s brand dead? His move to state politics was unsuccessful but he didn’t actually do that badly; it’s just incredibly difficult to win lower house seats especially with both major parties and even Greens preferencing against you.

    It seemed to be a classic Icarus case; he was actually getting so popular to the point where he actually had the votes to become premier and was winning preferred premier polls, and it became apparent he wasn’t up to the job. His campaign even tried to de-emphasise how much responsibility he’d have if he got elected.

    I wouldn’t rule out a comeback to the Senate or even the lower house for Xenophon – as long as it’s in a capacity where he wouldn’t have too much responsibility and where being a maverick is a positive.

    Really not sure how well a generic centre alliance senator would do, but “moderate Liberals” and centrists do far better in SA than elsewhere in the country, and Sharkie did stick to the party name and Xenophon style branding in the byelection.

  5. “Really not sure how well a generic centre alliance senator would do, but “moderate Liberals” and centrists do far better in SA than elsewhere in the country, and Sharkie did stick to the party name and Xenophon style branding in the byelection.”

    I feel the middle clause is key here- note that, firstly, the Democrats were stronger in South Australia than anywhere else, and, secondly, that the Greens have consistently polled far worse than the Democrats did. There has been a base in South Australia for small-l liberals operating outside the Liberals since the days of Steele Hall, and the coming election seems to be one where they especially will be wanting to spit the bit.

    Moreover, I would be careful in terms of exaggerating how far Xenophon’s declined- SA-BEST received 14% of the vote for Legislative Assembly and 19% for Legislative Council in March, and that would be more than enough to secure a Senate seat if maintained.

  6. I think Centre Alliance will do very well after the week that just transpired, and will easily get a seat. I also think they’re a reasonable chance to pick up Barker and Grey now.

  7. If SA Liberal voters do not like the Senate ticket, where one sitting Senator (Lucy) has been relegated to 4th spot, they can vote below the line numbering every candidate consecutively from 1 onward placing Lucy higher than the Liberal blow in (Alex) who is currently an Adelaide Councillor anyway.

    This is best done early at prepolling where there is less chaos and you can fill in the ballot paper carefully and double check it too.

    liberal voters sdo not like the Senate ticket they c

  8. Adrian Jackson

    It would be nice if more people voted below the line for their Senate tickets and carefully considered the candidates themselves as well as the parties, but outside Tasmania and the ACT, I have doubts any Senator would be elected off a strong BTL vote.

  9. Lucy Gichuhi Has not chance here, She was listed 4th place on the Ballot for the Liberal party Preselection, Its possible that there will be Labor Gain here, They could either Gain The Ex-Centre Alliance now Independent seat if they get enough votes, Or maybe take one off the Liberals, But for now Its too early to tell

  10. Hanson-Young was nearly defeated in 2013 and would have been defeated in 2016 if it had been a half-Senate election. The left love her because of Bring Them Here, but most voters don’t like her aggressive political style and regular brushes with controversy. They don’t like that in a Senator. That’s why she’s nearly been defeated twice.

  11. Paul, if “the left” is a large enough chunk of the voting bloc, that will be enough to get her elected.

    She isn’t trying to win a majority. She just needs to carve out a niche.

  12. Polllbludger’s state by state aggregation shows the Greens in South Australia quite strongly improving over the last year (currently at 9.8%) while Centre Alliance completely tank (7.6%). If that is even close to true Sarah Hanson-Young’s seat is quite safe.

  13. It was reported in the Australian that Nick Xenophon will not be campaigning for Centre Alliance and is no longer a member of Centre Alliance or SA Best. Centre Alliance will run candidates in a couple of seats at the next election which is bound to hurt their Senate vote. They are certainly a long way back from their hey day.

    It was also reported in the Advertiser after Australian Conservatives woeful result in the NSW state election (0.3%) theres a rumor going around Cory Bernardi wants to rejoin the Liberals.

    Tim Storer is bound to be voted out with the last two senate seats up for grabs which will be fight between Labor, Liberals, and the Greens in my opinion.

    Labor should definitely win at least two senate seats along with the Liberals.

  14. Tim Storer has announced he won’t be recontesting the Senate at the next election. Realistically he had no chance in winning anyway.

  15. Political NIGHTWATCHMAN

    What happened about Cory Bernardi’s Return to Liberals? As far as I can see he is still leading Australian Conservatives. Did he try to join and be rejected?

  16. Centre Alliance are going all in on Mayo (incumbent), Grey and Barker (where they either came 2nd last time). 3 electorates is actually 30% of SA so that’s not a complete write off, but I don’t think they’ll do anywhere near as well as last time. Still a chance to poach the 3rd Liberal seat off them.

    Sarah Hanson Young is very lucky.

  17. Andrew Jackson I have not read anything since I posted on Cory Bernardi. I wouldn’t have a clue.

    The Australian is reporting Sarah Hanson-young may struggle at this election. The Australian indicated Labor winning three senate seats in SA is not out of the question.

  18. The Moderates in the SA Liberal Party – Marshall, Pyne, Birmingham – would ,if they could, move heaven and earth to keep Cory Bernardi outside the party. Better to have outside and inconsequential than inside running riot with Abbott, Christensen, Andrews, Sukkar and co.


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