Senate – Western Australia – Australia 2019

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2019Term due to expire 2022
Slade Brockman (Liberal)1 Michaelia Cash (Liberal)
Pat Dodson (Labor) Mathias Cormann (Liberal)
Peter Georgiou (One Nation)2 Sue Lines (Labor)
Louise Pratt (Labor) Rachel Siewert (Greens)
Linda Reynolds (Liberal) Dean Smith (Liberal)
Jordon Steele-John (Greens)3 Glenn Sterle (Labor)

1Slade Brockman replaced Chris Back on 16 August 2017 following Chris Back’s resignation.
2Peter Georgiou replaced Rod Culleton on 27 March 2017 following the High Court ruling that Rod Culleton was ineligible to sit.
3Jordon Steele-John replaced Scott Ludlam on 10 November 2017 following the High Court ruling that Scott Ludlam was ineligible to sit.

History

Western Australian Senate races were dominated by the Coalition from 1951 until the beginning of the 1980s. The 1951 election produced a result of four ALP senators, four Liberal senators and two Country Party senators.  The 1953 election saw the ALP win a seat off the Country Party, but the previous result was restored in 1955. The 4-4-2 result was maintained at every election throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The 1970 Senate election saw the Liberal Party lose one of its four seats to independent Syd Negus, who was elected on a platform of abolishing death duties.

The 1974 double dissolution saw Negus defeated and the Country Party lose one of its two seats. The result saw five Labor senators alongside four Liberals and one Country senator. The 1975 double dissolution saw the Coalition regain its majority in Western Australia, with the ALP losing its fifth senate seat to the Liberals. The 1977 election saw the National Country Party lose its senate seat to the Liberals, producing a result of six Liberals and four Labor senators.

The 1983 double dissolution saw the Liberals lose their majority, with five Liberals, four Labor and one Democrat elected. The 1984 election saw Labor gain both new Senate seats while the Democrats lost their seat. In addition to 6 ALP and 5 Liberal, the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s Jo Vallentine was elected. At the 1987 double dissolution, Vallentine was re-elected as an independent along with a Democrat and five each for the two major parties.

The 1990 election saw the Liberals win six seats, along with five Labor and the re-elected Vallentine, who was re-elected as a Green. The Liberals have maintained six WA seats ever since. The 1993 election saw the Greens win a second seat off the ALP. From 1993 until today, WA has been represented by six Liberals, four Labor senators and two minor party Senators from the Greens or Democrats.

In 1996, the Greens lost one of their seats to the Democrats, losing their other seat in 1998. The Democrats held onto their seat in 2001 before losing one of their seats in 2004. The last Democrat was defeated by the Greens candidate in 2007.

The 2010 election was a status quo result. It was the third election in a row which saw three Liberals, two Labor and one Green elected.

The 2013 election produced a bizarre result, where a tiny vote margin between two nonviable candidates decided whether two seats would go to the Palmer United Party and Labor, or the Greens and the Australian Sports Party. A recount reversed the result, but also saw a large batch of ballot papers go missing, forcing a re-election.

At the 2014 re-election, large swings to the Greens and the Palmer United Party saw both parties win one seat each, with the Liberal Party retaining their three seats and Labor limping in with only one seat.

There were two changes at the 2016 double dissolution. Labor recovered their fourth seat, while the Liberal Party dropped from six to five. The Greens maintained their two seats. The Palmer United Party lost their sole seat, with One Nation winning a single seat.

2016 result

GroupVotes%SwingQuota
Liberal 525,87938.5+4.45.0040
Labor 386,11328.3+6.73.6741
Greens 143,79710.5-5.11.3683
One Nation55,0264.0+4.00.5236
Nationals 34,6182.5-0.50.3294
Nick Xenophon Team29,6562.2+2.20.2822
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers25,3431.9+0.80.2412
Marijuana (HEMP)/Sex Party25,0471.8+1.80.2383
Australian Christians22,0761.6+0.10.2101
Liberty Alliance15,1681.1+1.10.1443
Christian Democratic Party13,7681.0+1.00.1310
Animal Justice12,6870.9+0.30.1207
Liberal Democrats10,7710.8-1.00.1025
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party10,0660.7+0.70.0958
Democratic Labour Party9,4050.7+0.50.0895
Family First8,7290.6-0.10.0831
Others38,0332.8

Preference flows
Eight seats were won on primary votes – the Coalition won four seats, Labor won three and the Greens one. The Liberal Party ticket polled just over five full quotas on the primary vote, although preference leakage delayed the election of the fifth Liberal until later in the count.

We can then fast forward to the last ten candidates competing for the last three seats. One Nation, the Greens and the Australian Christians had done the best out of the earlier rounds of counting.

  • Louise Pratt (ALP) – 0.7543 quotas – up 0.0802
  • Rod Culleton (ON) – 0.6383 – up 0.1147
  • Rachel Siewert (GRN) – 0.4989 – up 0.1306
  • Kado Muir (NAT) – 0.3926 – up 0.0632
  • Luke Bolton (NXT) – 0.3377 – up 0.0555
  • Lindsay Cameron (CHR) – 0.3271 – up 0.1170
  • Michael Balderstone (HEMP) – 0.3091 – up 0.0708
  • Andrew Skerritt (SFF) – 0.3073 – up 0.0661
  • Katrina Love (AJP) – 0.1917 – up 0.0710
  • Debbie Robinson (ALA) – 0.1841 – up 0.0398

The Australian Liberty Alliance candidate was next eliminated, with over a quarter of her preferences going straight to One Nation:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.7679
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.6964
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.5120
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.4124
  • Bolton (NXT) – 0.3435
  • Cameron (CHR) – 0.3403
  • Skerritt (SFF) – 0.3357
  • Balderstone (HMP) – 0.3165
  • Love (AJP) – 0.2001

The Greens did best out of Animal Justice preferences, with the remainder favouring Labor, One Nation and HEMP:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.7887
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.7213
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.5765
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.4221
  • Bolton (NXT) – 0.3509
  • Skerritt (SFF) – 0.3478
  • Cameron (CHR) – 0.3463
  • Balderstone (HMP) – 0.3456

HEMP preferences favoured the Greens, but the Shooters also did quite well and pushed ahead of the Nick Xenophon Team.

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.8372
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.7744
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.6720
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.4353
  • Skerritt (SFF) – 0.4064
  • Bolton (NXT) – 0.3653
  • Cameron (CHR) – 0.3567

Australian Christians preferences favoured the Nationals, but wasn’t enough to push them ahead of the Greens:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.8802
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.8150
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.6965
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.5077
  • Skerritt (SFF) – 0.4293
  • Bolton (NXT) – 0.3834

NXT preferences favoured Labor and the Greens:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.9876
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.8692
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.7907
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.5636
  • Skerritt (SFF) – 0.4574

And the elimination of the Shooters elected Labor’s Pratt, and also favoured the Nationals over the Greens, but it wasn’t close to enough to close the gap. The elimination of the Nationals candidate resulted in the election of Pratt, Culleton and Siewert:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 1.0814
  • Culleton (ON) – 0.9886
  • Siewert (GRN) – 0.8381
  • Muir (NAT) – 0.6322

Candidates

  • Jordon Steele-John (Greens)

Assessment
Labor and Coalition should each retain two seats at the next election.

It is likely that the Greens will retain their seat, although a resurgent Labor could have a shot at winning a third seat. The third right-wing seat will be a contest between One Nation and the Liberal Party, and potentially another minor party.
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11 COMMENTS

  1. Probably one of the boring senate races at the next election, even though Labor are on track to significantly increase their vote they probably can’t win a third at the expense of the Greens or Libs.

    IMO this wil be 3 Lib, 2 Labor, 1 Green

  2. L96 there was a recent poll suggesting things have gone back to the way there were at the last election. Labor’s honeymoon was over, and the only WA seat in play is hasluck.

    Even then 3 Lib, 2 Labor, 1 Green. It goes to show how an even number of seats really distorts things in proportional systems.

  3. Sure things have gone back towards the libs in WA however I wouldn’t say it is certain. Likely 2 Lib 2 ALP with the last 2 seats up for grabs likely between the Greens, One Nation (who still get 9% in WA), the 3rd Lib and someone else i.e. WA Nationals or WA Party

  4. @John

    I’d be interested to see what polling you’re referring to? Got a link by any chance?

  5. On the BludgerTracker (https://www.pollbludger.net/bludgertrack2019/) One Nation got to a peak of ~9% in WA but they have since tanked to ~5% (national polling peak was 10%, now down to 6%).

    My hot take is that One Nation will win 0 seats in the 2019 election (yep, they won’t even win QLD because I bet they are going to preselect that numpty Malcolm Roberts). If Pauline herself was up for reelection that would have helped them, but she’s not.

  6. The fact that the Liberals, One Nation, and the WA Nationals (among others) did not contest the Perth and Fremantle by-elections makes using them to analyze Senate possibilities difficult- the performance of the Greens suggests that they will do about what they did in 2016 (and thereby keep their seat), but, otherwise, there isn’t anything else that seems meaningful from these results.

  7. Wondering if Labor getting 3 is possible. The WA state election results (a high water mark for Labor) would have given Labor 2 and Liberals 1, then the last 3 would be between

    Liberal 2: 10%
    Greens: 8.6%
    PHON: 8.2%
    Labor 3: 7.1%
    Nats: 4.4%
    Other Micros (mostly right wing): 11.7%

    I’m not seeing Labor 3 outpolling Greens, but they could outpoll a weaker PHON. Not going to rule out 3 Labor, 2 Liberal, 1 Green, although it is unlikely.

    The byelections suggest Labor is on track to do well in WA. Josh Wilson picking up a huge primary vote swing bodes well for the rest of suburban perth (which is what the seat of Fremantle mostly consists of) – although I haven’t seen the booth by booth results. Preferences flowed quite decently to Labor over Greens, suggesting that the electorate is more or less happy with Labor.

  8. I think it is a definite 2 Labor and 1 Liberal. Then likely to see another Green and Liberal elected. However, the Liberal party could do badly on preferences which could see them miss out on the second seat as One Nation, the Greens and Others will do better on Minor Party preferences. I think final result will likely be
    2 Labor, 1 Liberal.

    With the last 3 seats between 2nd Liberal, 3rd Labor, One Nation, Greens, WA Party, Nationals, and maybe someone else.

  9. John, your numbers looked weird and I think I worked out what was going on. You are using the WA state election Legislative Council votes but accidentally calculated a quota as 1/6th of formal votes rather than 1/7th (understandable error, 1/6th as the quota would make intuitive sense).

    If the Legislative Council vote were to be repeated for federal senate 2 ALP and 1 Liberal would be elected and then we would be left with:

    Liberal 2: 12.4%
    Labor 3: 11.8%
    Greens: 8.6%
    PHON: 8.2%
    Nats: 4.4%
    Other Micros (mostly right wing): 11.7%

    Liberal 2 and Labor 3 would certainly be elected and even though the micro parties are ideologically similar to PHON I would tip Greens as the favourites for the 6th seat just by starting in the lead, knowing leakage and exhaustion rates will be enormous in the new voting system.

    But current poll aggregation implies extremely different votes compared to the 2017 state election. Pollbludger says that in WA the Libs are way up at 42.5%, Labor at 35.2%, Greens a very strong 11.0%, and PHON down in the dumps to 4.7%, but that is supposed to be estimating lower house vote so even that needs to be taken with a large grain of salt when extrapolating senate implications (major parties likely around 5% worse, and “other” +10%).

    The safe bet has to be on 3 Lib, 2 ALP, 1 Green imo, with the main threat to the Liberals 3rd seat by a right wing micro challenger.

  10. Thanks Bennee.

    Yes I forgot to use the Droop method of counting by accident.

    I’m still backing 3 ALP, 2 LNP, 1 GRN – I expect Labor to gain again in WA once the campaign kicks off in earnest.

  11. the current GRN Senator doesn’t have Ludlam’s high profile or popularity. I agree with Psephos/Dr Adam Carr that the WA GRN may struggle to retain his Senate seat.

    Also, because of their demographics, the GRNs tend take seats off Labor not the LNP. Unlike the Australian Democrats, the Greens don’t draw a significant amount of conservative voters.

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