About Author: Ben Raue

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Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room. If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.

Posts by Ben Raue

0

Queensland redistribution – first draft released

The first draft of Queensland’s new state electoral map was released this morning, after a broad outline was leaked last night.

The redistribution is the first in almost a decade, and the redistribution will see four additional seats created in the Assembly. The combination of these factors has meant that the changes are quite dramatic.

Five new seats have been created, while two inner-city seats have been merged.

At least three prominent MPs face a significantly tougher task in winning re-election. Labor minister Steven Miles and LNP frontbencher Scott Emerson represent neighbouring seats of Mount Coot-tha and Indooroopilly. The two seats have both been abolished and replaced by the seat of Maiwar – a seat with a margin of approximately 2.8% for the LNP. They now face the choice of a tough contest or looking for a safer seat elsewhere.

Shane Knuth, a member of Katter’s Australian Party, represents Dalrymple in north Queensland. That seat has been broken apart, with a majority of the seat going into the new seat of Hill – but only 60% of that seat is areas previously contained in Dalrymple.

There are eighteen seats, including Hill and Maiwar, where the incumbent MP currently represents less than 70% of their new seat’s population.

The five new seats are Bancroft, in northern Brisbane; Bonney, on the Gold Coast; Jordan, in the Ipswich area; Macalister on the Gold Coast-Logan boundary and Ninderry on the Sunshine Coast. Some would count Hill as a new seat, but I think it’s an obvious successor to Dalrymple.

Numerous seats have been renamed, with the Commission moving away from the norm where state electorates are named after localities. The Commission instead chose to name a dozen seats after distinguished Queenslanders, following the practice of the Australian Electoral Commission, who traditionally name seats after people. The range of individuals selected for this honour are more diverse than those with federal electorates named in their honour – less politicians, and a lot more women.

This map shows the old and new Queensland state boundaries – red represents the 2009-2015 boundaries, while green represents the draft boundaries released today. Below the map I’ve also posted my own estimates of the margin in each seat. I’m sure others will do more precise analysis, but I thought I should nail my colours to the mast and post my own estimates.

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1

Data update – Tasmanian upper house dataset

A few months ago I published a limited data repository, containing booth lists, candidate lists and election results at the booth level for a variety of state and local elections. At the time I talked about how most state electoral commissions fell short of the AEC when it comes to publishing complete and easy-to-use election datasets.

I’ve been most frustrated by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, on two fronts. Firstly, they publish the booth-level vote data in a very unfriendly manner: upper house results are published as PNG image files. Lower house primary votes are published as PDF files, and distributions of preferences as image files. The image files look very nice, unless you want to copy them into a spreadsheet and perform deeper analysis.

Secondly, the TEC is terrible at publishing booth lists which can be matched to the results. They publish a list of premises used for each election, including the suburb, but often there are more than one booth in a suburb. The results data contains a unique booth name, but for at least a decade now the TEC has rarely if ever published the booth data in the correct format allowing the matching of those addresses to the actual vote data.

For three years from 2013 to 2015 I published guides to the Tasmanian upper house elections, which are held every May for a small part of the state. This included the tedious task of tracking down the complete data to match addresses to vote data. I’ve decided to finish this task, and have been able to put together a booth list with unique booth names for the last ten years of upper house elections from 2007 to 2016. This can then be matched to the vote data at the booth level. The booth list also includes latitude and longitude for every ordinary booth.

Download the data here.

19

Map update – South Australia and Tasmanian upper house

I’ve recently completed two new maps for download and use: the (kind of) final boundaries for the 2018 South Australian state election, and draft boundaries for the Tasmanian upper house.

South Australia’s state redistribution was overshadowed by the federal election last year. A final set of boundaries was released late last year, with some significant changes to the draft boundaries in southern Adelaide, but these boundaries are stuck pending a lawsuit by the SA Labor Party. Both the first draft and final draft can be downloaded from the maps page, and the map is embedded here.

I’ve also completed the draft boundaries for the Tasmanian Legislative Council. The Tasmanian upper house consists of fifteen single-member electorates, but its members are elected in a very odd way: only 2-3 seats are elected each year, with members serving a six year term. Boundaries are redistributed roughly once a decade, with the sitting members assigned to finish their term representing a new seat.

There have been some major changes to the boundaries along the east coast of Tasmania. The three Launceston-area seats have remained largely the same, as have the four Hobart-area seats and the two rural seats to the west of Hobart. The west coast seat of Murchison has undergone minor changes.

The east coast seat of Apsley has been chopped up, while the seat of Rumney in the south-eastern corner of the state has been pulled in closer to Hobart, losing Sorell and the Tasman peninsula. A new seat of Prosser stretches halfway up the east coast from the Tasman peninsula to Swansea, while the remainder of Apsley has been moved into a new seat of McIntyre.

The seat of Western Tiers has been chopped up, with the north-western seats of Montgomery and Mersey expanding south and the south-western seat of Derwent expanding north. The remainder of Western Tiers has joined the remainder of Apsley as McIntyre, a strangely-shaped seat curving around Launceston, stretching from Cradle Mountain to Flinders Island.

I would expect the final boundaries for the Tasmanian upper house to be determined later this year, and the new boundaries will be used for the first time in 2018.

4

WA upper house preferences – Lib/Nat alliance cracks

Western Australia still uses the group voting ticket system for its Legislative Council – the system used for the Senate until 2013. Under this system, parties submit preference orders which are pre-filled for any voters who vote for that party above the line. These preferences were announced yesterday afternoon. I won’t bother to list every preference here, although William Bowe at Poll Bludger has the order of key parties.

The big story is One Nation’s deal with the Liberal Party. The deal apparently involves One Nation preferences for the Liberal Party in the lower house (helping them in races against Labor that will decide who forms government) in exchange for Liberal preferences to One Nation ahead of all the other contenders. Antony Green has written about the insights we can glean from how preferences flowed when One Nation first emerged in 1998.

Recent polling has suggested that One Nation is a serious contender for seats, regardless of preferences. The WA upper house is malapportioned in a way which gives significantly more seats to the regional areas where One Nation gains the bulk of their votes, and current polling puts them easily on track to win seats in the three non-metropolitan upper house regions. Liberal preferences could be a boost in those regions, and a Liberal surplus could also push One Nation over the line in the Perth area, particularly in East Metropolitan.

The right-wing vote in regional areas will be split four ways between Liberal, Nationals, One Nation and the Shooters, who currently hold two seats. In these areas, preferences between the two government parties have completely broken down. The Nationals have chosen to preference the Greens over the Liberal Party and One Nation, a decision which could help the Greens maintain their hold in Mining and Pastoral and regain a seat in the South West.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have also done well out of preferences. The Shooters have been the only successful right-wing minor party in WA since the first decline of One Nation in the mid 2000s, but their vote would be under serious threat from the revived One Nation. The Shooters are gaining preferences above any other serious contender from One Nation, the Nationals, the Liberal Democrats and the Australian Christians. The Liberal Party is also putting the Shooters second behind the lead One Nation candidate.

There is no similar fracturing on the left side of the contest – Labor and Greens preferences flow directly to each other ahead of any of their right-wing challenges.

It will be extremely difficult for the left to gain a majority in the WA upper house, due to the significant anti-urban bias. But the splitting of right-wing preferences could bring them slightly closer, and the presence of a large number of One Nation MLCs will make any right-wing upper house majority very unstable.

1

Nominations close for WA state election

Nominations closed yesterday for the Western Australian state election, to be held four weeks from today.

415 candidates have nominated for the lower house. Labor, Liberal and the Greens have each nominated a full team of 59 candidates. The Micro Business Party (no I hadn’t heard of them either) have nominated candidates in 46 seats, with the Australian Christians running in 45. One Nation have 35 candidates nominated.

There are 31 independents, and Julie Matheson’s party is running twenty candidates.

Interestingly the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are running nineteen candidates. The Shooters have traditionally been an upper house-only party, although they broke that trend when they ran in (and won) the Orange state by-election in New South Wales last year.

There are on average seven candidates per seat. Only four candidates are running in the seat of Vasse, while ten candidates are running in Darling Range.

A record number of candidates are running in both houses, as documented by Antony Green. Antony’s data shows that the number of lower house candidates peaked at 375 candidates in 2005 (an average of 6.6 per seat).

The number of candidates in the upper house has also increased substantially, with twice as many groups as in 2013. This was partly caused by an increase in minor parties running full tickets across all six regions, including the Australian Christians, Daylight Saving Party, Family First, Fluoride Free Western Australia, Flux, Julie Matheson, the Liberal Democrats, the Micro Business Party and One Nation. It’s worth noting that Western Australia’s upper house still uses the group voting ticket system that was abolished last year for Senate elections, allowing for the type of preference harvesting once so critical to the Senate. Each group’s voting tickets will be published on Monday afternoon.

Candidate lists have been updated on all 59 lower house profiles and all six upper house regional profiles.

0

Guides to Manly and North Shore by-elections

By-elections are due to be held soon in the two New South Wales seats of Manly and North Shore. The two seats sit side-by-side on the north side of Sydney Harbour, and are both very safe Liberal seats.

The seat of Manly was held by Mike Baird from 2007 until 2017 , when he resigned from parliament after stepping down as Premier.

The seat of Manly was held by Jillian Skinner from 1994 until 2017. Skinner has served as a senior frontbencher since the 1990s, and served as deputy Liberal leader from 2007 to 2014. Skinner left the frontbench in January and announced her intention to step down at the time.

Both seats have similar dynamics. The Greens have come second in both seats at the last two election cycles, but they are over 20% away from unseating the Liberal Party. Both seats also have a history of independents winning, but that very much depends on who runs.

It seems likely that the Liberal Party will hold both seats, but the threat of an insurgent candidate appears to have been enough to force a backtrack on council amalgamations, so the Liberal Party may know more than the rest of us.

Read the guide to the Manly by-election.

Read the guide to the North Shore by-election.

5

Where does One Nation get its votes in WA?

The Western Australian state election, to be held in March, will be the first electoral test of One Nation since they won four seats in the Senate in last year’s federal election.

Since the party hasn’t been a significant factor in recent state elections, we can’t use past results to judge where they are likely to win seats. The only data we have is the booth results from the Senate ballot from the last federal election.

I’ve taken those results and distributed them into the state electorates used in the upcoming election.

One Nation polled 4% in the Senate in Western Australia. In comparison, the most recent state Newspoll has One Nation on 13%, and other polls have put the party at over 10%.

This map shows the vote for each state electorate:

Unsurprisingly, One Nation does better in regional areas. The ten best seats are all outside of Perth, and every seat outside of the metropolitan region saw a One Nation vote of over 4%.

This gives One Nation a significant advantage in the Legislative Council race, since votes in regional areas are worth a lot more.

Approximately three quarters of the state’s population lives in the urban area, and this population is divided into three upper house regions, represented by 18 MLCs. The remaining quarter is also represented by 18 MLCs. If their vote holds at its current levels, One Nation’s concentrated regional vote could give them a swag of seats.

This table shows the One Nation vote in each upper house region at the 2016 election, and what that vote would be if it was scaled up from 4% to 13%.

Region 2016 vote (4%) 2016 vote adjusted 13%
Agricultural 6.87% 22.33%
East Metropolitan 3.86% 12.55%
Mining and Pastoral 8.31% 27.01%
North Metropolitan 1.99% 6.47%
South Metropolitan 2.94% 9.56%
South West 6.51% 21.16%

This is an imperfect way to project support – Senate votes have limited value – but if true this would suggest that One Nation would easily win three Legislative Council seats, with a good shot at winning a seat in East Metropolitan region too.

This reflects the results of the 2001 election, when One Nation won a seat in each of the three non-metropolitan upper house regions. In Perth, One Nation polled best in the east and worst in the north, and that pattern was still true in the 2016 Senate vote.

As for the lower house, One Nation never won any seats in Western Australia at its previous peak in 2001, but did come in the top two in multiple seats, most of which were regional seats held by the Nationals.

Here is the list of the ten seats with the highest One Nation vote at the 2016 federal election:

Region Margin 2016 vote (4%) 2016 vote adjusted 13%
Kalgoorlie NAT 4.1% vs ALP 9.75% 31.69%
Pilbara NAT 11.5% vs LIB 9.39% 30.52%
North West Central NAT 9.6% vs LIB 8.71% 28.31%
Murray-Wellington LIB 12.0% 8.57% 27.85%
Collie-Preston LIB 3.0% 7.97% 25.90%
Moore NAT 5.9% vs LIB 7.37% 23.95%
Geraldton LIB 10.9% vs NAT 7.21% 23.43%
Bunbury LIB 11.8% 7.01% 22.78%
Mandurah ALP 7.7% 6.87% 22.33%
Central Wheatbelt NAT 8.8% vs LIB 6.77% 22.00%

If the One Nation vote is as high as recent polling has suggested, the party could poll well over 20% in a few key seats and could be a contender, depending on how preferences flow.

0

Read the guide to the 2017 WA state election

Voters in Western Australia go to the polls on March 11 for their state election.

I have published a complete guide to all of the races in that election: all 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly, and the 36 seats to be elected to represent six regions in the Legislative Council.

The Liberal-National government is running for a third term in power, but has a fight on its hands, with recent polls putting Labor in the lead.

Labor needs to gain ten seats to win a majority in the lower house, and current polls suggest this outcome is likely.

This election will be the first test of the revived One Nation party since their surprise victories in last year’s federal election. They could well be a threat in regional seats, and have a good chance at winning seats in the upper house, which is heavily slanted towards representing rural areas.

Each seat guide includes a list of candidates (which will be occasionally updated until nominations close next week), descriptions of the seat’s geography, a short history section, the results of the last election, including breakdowns of those results into subdivisions, and maps showing those results. As always, there is a comment section on each seat guide.

Read the Tally Room guide to the WA state election here.

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4

NSW council mergers hit a wall – and may go backwards

After multiple years of making plans and implementing them, the NSW government is now on the verge of announcing something which should have come much sooner. For councils that have already been amalgamated, there will be plebiscites where voters will be asked to decide on whether the amalgamation should be wound back and the former councils restored. In addition, all of those amalgamations which have yet to be implemented appear likely to be cancelled. That means no amalgamations for the eastern suburbs of Sydney, the north shore, Newcastle or Wollongong, along with a scattering of other council areas.

This decision leaves the NSW government’s amalgamation plans in a complete mess. Councils that were facing mergers have been divided into two classes based on whether lawsuits were launched by those councils delaying the amalgamations. Regardless of their merits, amalgamations won’t go ahead where they haven’t yet been implemented, meaning in some cases we will see tiny councils like Hunters Hill and Burwood surviving alongside much larger neighbours.

I’ve made no secret that I am supportive of some enlarging of councils in the eastern half of Sydney, although many of the proposed amalgamations were unnecessary or unwise, but it was always problematic to implement the decision without a democratic mandate. It’s not surprising that elected councils would oppose amalgamation: I don’t think it should be necessary for the council to support a proposal. But a proposal agreed to by the state government should go to a plebiscite of the people in that community before being implemented.

I suspect quite a few of the mergers would have been successful if plebiscites had been held, at least in Sydney. Now we face the possibility that unwise mergers will be undone after a lengthy period of pain and after the spending of large amounts of money on the amalgamations.

We have recent experience of multiple local councils in Queensland de-merging following overwhelming plebiscite results, but all of these cases were in regional areas. I do expect that most of the regional council mergers will be undone by plebiscites, although some may survive.

We have no real sense of how plebiscites will go in Sydney, or how unpopular the amalgamations have been. There are some that on their face merge councils that are already quite large (Canterbury-Bankstown, Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai) or combine areas with no common interest (Bayside council) but I suspect that a lot of local voters are happy with the new councils in Parramatta, Inner West and Georges River, to take some examples. We will never find out if voters in the eastern suburbs or north shore would have supported amalgamating their councils – such a plebiscite could have decided the issue and saved a lot of political pain a few years ago.

The results of the plebiscite could end up being messy. What if Ashfield votes to stay in the Inner West but Marrickville votes to leave? Things will be particularly messy in the Parramatta-Cumberland area, where pieces of each council were broken up. I live in Parramatta and the new council is not much larger than the old council: it just covers different areas.

What if the voters in the heartland of Parramatta vote to reject the amalgamations, but the new additions from the Hills, Hornsby and Auburn councils vote to stay? What if Granville votes to return to Parramatta council, but the former Holroyd and Auburn councils (which don’t share a border) want to stay as Cumberland?

Whatever happens, this should produce some interesting electoral contests. Up until now, the campaign against council amalgamations was focused on the forced nature of the mergers. Will there now be room to debate the merits of particular council sizes and boundaries in the context of a fair democratic fight?

6

SA Labor banning above-the-line preferences in upper house

The South Australian Labor government has released legislation to reform the voting system used for the South Australian upper house. Like the federal and NSW upper houses before it, the legislation aims to eliminate the flawed and opaque group voting ticket system, but it comes up with a strange model which would have some odd outcomes.

I won’t spend a lot of time analysing the proposal in detail, for that check out the work by Kevin Bonham and Henry Schlechta.

In this piece I want to explore the theoretical problems with the SA Labor government’s proposed bill, and some alternatives, as well as raising some frustrating hypocrisy left over from this year’s Senate reform debate.

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