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?


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.

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW council elections – turnout drops statewide

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-51-27-pmIt’s taken some time to pull together the data, but I’ve now got a complete set of booth-level data from the 2012 and 2016 local council elections.

The most interesting stat from the elections is that turnout dropped across almost all councils which held elections in September 2016, with turnout dropping the most in metropolitan NSW.

For the purpose of analysis, I have analysed 76 councils which held contested elections in both 2012 and 2016, plus Tweed council, which held a delayed election at the end of October. I excluded the results in Cobar, Leeton, Narrandera and Warren councils, as well as certain wards of Greater Hume and Lockhart, all of which held uncontested elections in 2012, thus making it impossible to make a comparison of voting data.

Out of those 76 councils, turnout dropped in 74. Turnout increased in Balranald council, in the far south-west, and in the City of Sydney. The increase was small in both cases.

It turns out that turnout dropped in 75 out of 76 councils – unfortunately I made an error in calculating the total turnout in the City of Sydney, as there was a big change between the full enrolment and the numbers in a similar dataset. Balranald is the only council which increased turnout.

Turnout increased by 5.6% in Tweed when the election was held at the end of October, almost two months after the rest of the election was held.

The drop in turnout was significantly worse in metropolitan NSW (including the Sydney region and the lower Hunter). Those metropolitan councils make up 58% of those enrolled to vote in the recent elections. While turnout dropped by 2.4% in regional areas, the drop was well over 4% in metropolitan councils.

Party Formal Informal Enrolment Turnout (%) Turnout change
Metro 1,027,275 74,776 1,409,743 79.46 -4.35
Regional 741,698 52,610 989,071 80.32 -2.43

This map shows turnout for each council, and shows a more nuanced picture. Turnout was particularly poor in western NSW, dropping by over 8% in Wedding and over 11% in Bourke. Turnout also dropped by over 9% in the City of Sydney, almost 8% in the City of Blacktown and by 6.5% in Liverpool.

So why did turnout drop? I can think of two possibilities. Firstly, the election was held within months of a federal election, whereas no election had been held closer than 18 months before the 2012 council election. This could explain why Tweed, which was delayed by more than a month, had a higher turnout.

I find it more plausible that turnout was hit by confusion due to only some councils holding elections. Particularly if you live in Sydney or the lower Hunter, communities, media markets and social networks stretch over numerous councils. Friends and colleagues would not have had elections, breeding confusion about whether any individual voter was required to vote. I heard this confusion myself from family members in Campbelltown and Blacktown councils.

This would explain why turnout dropped more severely in councils in western Sydney than in regional areas, where communities fit more neatly within council boundaries.

I’ve used the same dataset to calculate the vote and seat numbers for each party. Since most non-metropolitan councils are dominated by independents, I’ve split the vote up to give a better picture of the partisan split in the metropolitan half of the state where parties are much more prominent.

Read the rest of this entry »


Council mergers string out NSW elections for four more years

The NSW state government has written to councils laying out the timetable for council elections for those councils which have not yet been amalgamated. This timetable could well see council elections held in every one of the next four years, with the possibility of some new councils not facing election until the next regular council election in 2020.

There are eleven new councils which have been proposed but have not yet been implemented, mostly because of pending court cases. This is in addition to twenty new councils which have already been proclaimed.

The proclaimed councils will have their elections held in September 2017, and the NSW Electoral Commission will be planning to hold elections in September 2017 for those unmerged councils if their mergers haven’t been implemented before the 2017 election.

But for those councils which are amalgamated any later than this month, their election will be postponed until March 2018 or September 2019. The government has even flagged the possibility of elections being postponed until September 2020, when most council elections are due.

Thanks to this announcement and the ongoing legal conflicts, it now appears likely that the newly-created councils will face their first elections gradually over the course of multiple years.

In other council amalgamation news, I had missed the state government’s amalgamation of Rockdale and Botany Bay councils into Bayside council in September. I believe it’s the only council to be amalgamated since the first wave of amalgamations earlier this year.

It’s also quite possibly the most outrageous of all of the new councils.

The two old councils are on either side of Sydney airport, and have very little in the way of community of interest or transport corridors. The absurdity of the boundaries become more obvious when you look at the new ward boundaries. The new Mascot ward stretches across the airport, covering the suburb of Mascot along with the suburbs of Arncliffe, Turella and Wolli Creek.

The Bexley ward also has ridiculous boundaries. The pre-existing boundary between the old Kogarah and Rockdale councils wasn’t the most logical boundary, and it would’ve made sense to erase it by merging Rockdale, Kogarah and Hurstville into a single St George council. But instead that boundary has been kept while inexplicably creating a council which crosses the airport, and it produces a very messed-up ward on that boundary.

In other news, two of the newly-merged councils have already changed their names. Western Plains has reverted to be Dubbo, and the merged Gundagai council has been renamed Cootamundra-Gundagai.

The relevant maps on the maps page have been updated to include the new Bayside wards and these updated council names.


Orange by-election summary

While the results in Wollongong and Canterbury were less interesting (Labor retained both seats), the result in Orange was fascinating.

The Nationals vote has cratered, but those votes did not go to Labor. Instead the Shooters were the main beneficiary.

The Nationals vote crashed from 66% in 2015 to barely 30% on votes counted so far. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, who as far as I know have never previously contested a lower house seat, are sitting just below 25% of the primary vote.

Labor has suffered a 4.3% swing, a disappointing result after the party ran hard on winning in the seat.

We now have all election-day votes, as well as iVote and pre-poll votes, but we’re still waiting for postal votes and some other small bundles of votes. The votes yet to report are expected to be slightly less pro-Nationals than those already counted.

The two leading candidates only won about 55% of the total vote, with the remaining 45% of the vote to be distributed.

Labor and the Shooters swapped their preferences (with Labor presumably expecting to be the beneficiary), and I believe that other minor candidates including Scott Munro (who came fourth) favour the Shooters.

I’d expect to see a Nationals vs Shooters preference count tomorrow, which will answer this question, but it seems hard to imagine the Shooters can’t close a 4.5% gap on primary votes off 45% of preferences.

Below the fold I’ll analyse where the swings were largest, how that fits in with the issue of council amalgamations, and include a map showing the swings.

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW by-election results live

Orange by-election results – 38 booths reporting, 9 booths reporting 2CP

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projection
Janelle Bicknell Greens 1,687 5.83 -1.06 5.69
Scott Barrett Nationals 8,628 29.83 -35.52 30.07
Philip Donato Shooters 7,531 26.04 26.04 26.04
Kevin Duffy Independent 1,873 6.48 6.48 6.48
Scott Munro Independent 2,296 7.94 7.94 7.94
Bernard Fitzsimon Labor 5,542 19.16 -4.40 18.96
Dianne Decker CDP 978 3.38 0.88 3.47
Ian Donald Independent 388 1.34 1.34 1.34

9:15pm – We now have results from all of the ordinary booths. We don’t have any postal or pre-poll vote data, and it’s not clear if they will be coming tonight. We also don’t have a two-candidate-preferred count between the Nationals and the Shooters, which would make the picture much clearer. We won’t get a preference count tonight – I suspect it will come on Monday, so I think this is it for tonight. I’ll return tonight or tomorrow with some more analysis of the results, but that’s it for this liveblog.

7:51pm – We now have nearly all of the primary vote figures from election-day booths in Orange. Just waiting for the special votes (and Parkes Library) to report.

7:28pm – So we now have primary vote figures from 30 out of 37 booths, and the Shooters and Nationals are neck-and-neck. While the Nationals are almost 3% ahead of the Shooters, I project they will fall into line, as the remaining booths are less pro-Nationals than the booths which have reported so far.

7:13pm – With nine booths reporting two-candidate-preferred figures, Labor has a swing of 15.5% and a projected result for the Nationals of just over 56%, but that seems irrelevant as Labor is clearly not coming in the top two. So now we’ll just focus on the primary votes.

7:07pm – With four booths reporting from Wollongong, Labor is up 6.6% and Gordon Bradbery is up 8.5% compared to rthur Rorris in 2015. Worth noting that a lot of the votes last time went to the Liberal Party, who aren’t standing. The Greens vote is also up 4.2%. On current figures Labor is over 50%, but I project that will drop to 47%.

7:04pm – Sorry I haven’t had time to look at the other by-elections, will sneak a peek at Wollongong now. Won’t have time to make full tables of the others.

7:02pm – We have quite a few booths reporting from Orange now, and while Labor has a 19% swing after preferences (not quite enough to win) they are not gaining any primary votes, while the Shooters are polling over 30%. If this plays out, the Shooters could end up topping the primary vote with Labor and independent preferences deciding the winner.

6:43pm: We have six small booths from Orange, and the Nationals vote has crashed by 35.7%, with 22.9% going to the Shooters. The Labor vote has only increased by 0.7%.

6:31pm: Most of that lost Nationals vote has gone to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, who are on almost 30%. That could suggest that the Shooters are the primary rival, or that these votes will be decisive as preferences. Remember the Shooters are preferencing Labor.

6:27pm: First booth in Orange has just reported: Spring Terrace Public School. It’s a small booth with just 167 formal votes. Last time the Nationals polled 75.3%, this time they’re on 33.5%. I’m still working on the model, but safe to say that’s a big shift.

6pm: Polls have just closed in three by-elections being held in the NSW state seats of Canterbury, Orange and Wollongong. We should start getting results in within about an hour – right now I’m just building a model to project results which should be useful. If you’re looking for something to read now, check out my article in the Guardian today about the by-elections.


SA state redistribution – draft boundary analysis

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-22-18-pmWhile we were all recovering from the federal election, South Australia was undergoing a redrawing of its state electoral map for the 2018 state election. The draft electoral map was released in mid-August, and I blogged about the underlying statistics driving the redistribution at the time.

It’s taken me some time to get back to this redistribution, what with the many territory elections, council elections and by-elections taking place following the federal election, but it’s now complete.

You can download the 2018 draft map here.

The last election produced a result of 23 Labor seats, 22 Liberal seats and two independents. One of those independents, Geoff Brock, sided with Labor to give them a governing majority, while the other independent, Bob Such, went on sick leave soon after the election and later died of cancer. During Such’s absence, former Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith resigned from the party to join Labor’s cabinet. Labor subsequently won the Fisher by-election, giving them a majority in the House of Assembly.

The Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission is required by law to consider the party-political impact of the redistribution, with the aim of producing a result which will give a majority of seats to the party that wins a majority of the two-party-preferred vote. Despite this requirement, Labor won a majority in 2010 despite a Liberal vote majority after preferences, and achieved government again despite losing the vote in 2014.

In line with their mandate, the EDBC has redrawn the boundaries to boost the Liberal position. Assuming no change from the 2014 election vote which gave the Liberal Party 53% after preferences, the new electorates would give the Liberal Party 24 seats and Labor 22. The last seat, Frome, is drawn as notionally Liberal but is held by an independent. Theoretically this should mean that the Liberal Party should be able to win a majority with no change in their vote (assuming they can win back Hamilton-Smith’s seat), although this theory did not work at the last two elections.

45 electorates remain notionally held by the party that won them in 2014 (either at the general election or, in the case of Labor and the seat of Fisher, at the by-election). The other two seats are Elder, in southern Adelaide, and Mawson, which has moved from being a southern Adelaide seat into a regional electorate by stretching out to take in Kangaroo Island and the Fleurieu Peninsula. Both seats are held by Labor MPs but are now notional Liberal seats.

The following map shows the new electoral map. Click on each seat to see the post-redistribution margin, and who held the seat before the redistribution.

This map is only a draft – we should be expecting a final version of the map to be released in November.


ACT election night – results live

11:00pm – Here’s my final update for tonight.

Based on the work I’ve shown in the last few updates, I estimate that Labor has won twelve seats, the Liberals have won nine and the Greens have won two.

Labor has won two in each district, plus a third in Ginninderra and Yerrabi. The Liberal Party is on two seats in all districts except Kurrajong. The Greens have won seats in Kurrajong and Murrumbidgee.

The two other seats still in play are:

  • Brindabella – third Liberal, third Labor or Sex Party.
  • Kurrajong – likely to go to second Liberal, but with the third Labor candidate having an outside chance.

If Labor were to win either of those two outstanding seats they would win a majority in their own right, in which case they wouldn’t need the support of the Greens to govern.

This election has been a good result for Labor. The conventional wisdom before election night was that Labor was in trouble and in danger of losing power, with the light rail damaging their position.

In reality, Labor has slightly increased their vote, while the Liberal vote has been cut by 3.3%. The Greens vote has stayed steady, while the vote for other parties and independents increased by almost 10%. Labor did particularly well in the seat of Yerrabi, with a swing of 2.8%. This area will be the main beneficiary of the first stage of the light rail, and has clearly helped Labor solidify their position.

10:53pm – In Yerrabi, the Liberal Party is on 2.1 quotas, Labor is on 2.7 quotas and the Greens are on 0.4 quotas.

The Liberal Party’s third candidate was about 1000 votes from knocking out the third Labor candidate. The Labor and Greens vote have both increased (by a total of 1.8%) with the addition of paper votes, while the Liberal vote has dropped by 2.1%, so the chance of a third Liberal appears to have faded.

10:43pm – In Murrumbidgee, the Greens are on 0.7 quotas, Labor is on 2.1 quotas and the Liberal Party is on 2.5 quotas.

In the interim distribution of preferences, the Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur defeated third Liberal Peter Hosking by 127 votes (just under 1% of the total). The addition of paper votes has cut the Liberal vote by 1.3%, while increasing the Labor vote by 0.66% and the Greens vote by 0.48%.

It’s hard to see the Greens not winning this seat.

10:34pm – How about Kurrajong?

Labor has polled 2.4 quotas, the Liberal Party 1.7 quotas and the Greens 1.2 quotas.

The distribution of preferences is quite clear, with Labor and Liberal winning two seats each and the Greens winning one.

The Liberal vote has dropped by 2.8% since the distribution of preferences, while the Greens vote has increased by 1.6% and the Labor vote has increased by 0.5%. At the key point in the count, the third Labor candidate was about 7.4% away from outpolling one of the two Liberals. It seems unlikely that this gap will close, but it is possible.

10:23pm – Okay, let’s check out Ginninderra.

Labor is sitting on 2.5 quotas on primary votes, with the Liberals sitting on 1.8 quotas and the Greens on 0.6 quotas.

On the distribution of preferences, Labor wins three seats and the Liberals win two, with the fourth Labor, third Liberal and lead Green all getting knocked out in a tight race.

The Labor and Greens vote has increased slightly on the paper vote, while the Liberal vote dropped from 32.7% to 30.5%.

This drop in the vote should rule out the chance for a third Liberal, although the race for the second Liberal seat is very close – Elizabeth Kikkert outpolled Paul Sweeney by less than one hundred votes.

The third Labor seat is also unclear – Gordon Ramsay outpolled Labor colleague Chris Bourke by only six votes, with the Greens’ Indra Esguerra only 21 votes behind Bourke.

It seems quite possible that Esguerra could overtake one or both of the remaining Labor candidates, but you’d expect Labor preferences to lock out the Greens.

9:44pm – Let’s run through the seats one by one, starting with Brindabella.

Labor sits on two quotas in Brindabella, with that vote evenly distributed between four candidates. Sitting MPs Mick Gentleman and Joy Burch lead on about 0.5 quotas, with two others following on 0.4 quotas. These candidates won’t all make it to the end, but they’ll stay in the race for a long time to collect other parties’ preferences.

The Liberals are sitting on 2.4 quotas in Brindabella, with Andrew Wall and Mark Parton leading with 0.7 and 0.6 quotas respectively. Nicole Lawder (0.5 quotas) is leading in the race for the final seat but the flow of preferences suggest that she will do poorly on preferences.

The Sex Party is on 0.5 quotas, although those votes are reasonably evenly divided between their two candidates.

The Greens’ vote is on 0.3 quotas (possibly the first time the party has been outpolled by the Sex Party).

It appears that the race for the final seat is between one of the Labor candidates, one of the Liberals and the Sex Party candidate. The gap on the interim distribution of preferences between the third Liberal and third Labor is less than 300 votes – and the Liberal vote has dropped amongst the remaining votes.

9:34pm – Kevin Bonham points out that, while the Liberal Party has a strong lead for the fifth seat in Brindabella, they lose a lot of ground in the interim distribution of preferences and could well lose that seat to Labor, while the Sex Party still has a chance.

9:30pm – In case it wasn’t clear, the Labor Party looks set to win re-election. We don’t know for sure whether the seats will split along the lines that the pre-poll distribution of preferences suggest, but the Liberal Party will be unable to win a majority of seats, or find allies on the crossbench.

8:18pm – Let’s look at the swings by district. Labor has gained a swing in Brindabella, lost ground in Ginninderra, Kurrajong and Murrumbidgee and gained a massive swing in Yerrabi.

8:15pm – It is now very clear that the Liberal Party had gone backwards. They were previously one seat short of a majority, and now look likely to be two seats short, and have suffered a 2.4% swing, while the Labor vote has gone up.

8:12pm – We now have interim distributions of preferences for all five seats based on electronic votes, which gives Labor 12 seats, Liberal 11 seats and two seats to the Greens.

7:00pm – I’m going to be logging off for the next hour while I eat dinner, but I’ll return later when we have a larger sample of votes.

6:59pm – More votes have come in in Yerrabi – the Labor vote is down a bit and the Liberals are up but it still seems likely that the left will win three seats.

6:54pm – First results in Yerrabi are good for Labor. Labor is on 2.6 quotas and the Liberal Party is on two quotas, with the Greens on 0.4 quotas. That looks likely to give Labor three seats. But these numbers are very small.

6:52pm – It looks very likely that either Labor or Greens will win the fifth seat in Ginninderra, and that the Greens will win the fifth seat in Kurrajong. This puts the governing alliance on twelve seats. If they can win the final seat in Yerrabi or Murrumbidgee that will mean Labor and the Greens will be able to form another majority.

6:50pm – Those Kurrajong votes are already out of date. Both major parties are now on about 2.2 quotas with the Greens on 0.9 quotas. This suggests a result of 2 Labor, 2 Liberal and one Green.

6:48pm – We have a small sample of pre-poll votes in Kurrajong and it is good for the Liberals: Liberal 2.65 quotas, Labor 1.94 quotas and Greens 0.69 quotas. Antony Green suggests these votes are likely those cast in neighbouring seats.

6:46pm – Remember we have the Robson Rotation system in the ACT. Parties nominate a ticket of up to five candidates, but not in any particular order. Different ballot papers show the candidates in different orders. So if a voter doesn’t have a preference for an individual candidate they would be likely to just donkey vote for the candidates. Robson rotation means these donkey votes are evenly distributed around, and if there isn’t a particularly high-profile candidate the vote for a party can be distributed fairly evenly, as we’ve seen for Labor in Murrumbidgee and Ginninderra.

6:42pm – First numbers for Ginninderra have Labor on 2.6 quotas, Liberals on 1.6 and the Greens on 0.6.

6:40pm – Labor on track for two in Brindabella, and the Liberal Party winning at least two and in a good position to win the third seat. The Sex Party is doing surprisingly well on the electronic vote with 0.4 quotas.

6:39pm – Let’s just zoom out to the overall race. There are five districts of five members each. It’s expected that Labor and Liberal will each win two seats in each district, giving them at least ten seats each, with the final five seats (one per district) up in the air.

It seems very likely that the Greens will win the fifth seat in Kurrajong and the Liberal Party will win in Brindabella, with Labor or Greens likely to win the fifth seat in Ginninderra. This leaves Yerrabi and Murrumbidgee as the two swing seats. If the Liberal Party can win third seats in these two districts that will give them a slim majority in the Assembly – if they go to Labor or Greens it will give the centre-left alliance a majority.

6:35pm – First chunk of votes is pre-poll votes for Murrumbidgee. Bear in mind that Murrumbidgee is one of the key swing districts where the Liberals will need to win three seats to have a shot at winning a majority. The Liberals are on 2.65 quotas, Labor is on 2 quotas, and the Greens on 0.63. On those figures, the third Liberal and the Greens candidate would be competing for the final seat, but it’s interesting to note how evenly distributed the Labor vote is between their candidates, none of whom are incumbents.

6:30pm – I’m having trouble getting the Elections ACT results website loading – hopefully this works itself out soon but it doesn’t appear there are any concrete figures yet.

6:10pm – Just in case you missed Antony Green explain this on the ABC – the electronic votes should mostly report primary vote figures before 7pm, and we’ll start to get paper ballot vote-counts after 7pm, and later this evening we’ll get a distribution of preferences for just the electronic votes. Hopefully we’ll be able to compare the primary vote between electronic and paper votes to get a sense of how the distribution of preferences should be adjusted.

6:05pm – I’m reminded of the last New Zealand election. There had been a large increase in votes cast electronically, which were counted very early in the night. In the past there had been a bias in the early electronic vote count, but the number of votes cast electronically had grown significantly, and this resulted in the electronic vote being more representative. In the past the electronic vote has favoured the Greens, but as more people use this option you’d expect such a bias to become less significant.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in the ACT election. I’ll be covering the results tonight but not as comprehensive as always, and I’ll be absent for most of the time from 7pm until 8pm. A large proportion of votes in the ACT will have been cast electronically, so those votes should be counted pretty quickly. There has also been a large increase in pre-poll voting, from 61,660 votes in 2012 to 83,743, an increase of almost 36%. Stick with us.


What’s going on at the Tally Room

This blog has been pretty quiet since the conclusion of the NSW council elections. I’m working on a few different projects in the background and I just wanted to give a quick update.

Firstly, I’ve been working on a project to collect together all of the results of the NSW council elections to publish in an easy-to-use format for data analysis. This is part of a broader project to publish local and state election results in an easy-to-use format, since so many electoral commissions do not publish results (as well as candidate and booth lists) in accessible formats, unlike the AEC. Unfortunately I’ve hit a wall in scraping the data for the 2016 council elections, although the data for the 2011 and 2012 elections is ready. If you’re an expert on web scraping who can help me with this, drop me a line. Once this is done, I might do some high-level comparisons of the 2012 and 2016 election results.

The ACT election is due this Saturday, and I’ve got guides published for all five electorates which you can read here. I’ve got an article going up at the Guardian today about the election which is also worth a read. Unfortunately I won’t be around to do a liveblog on Saturday night, but I will return to do some overall analysis on the weekend.

Three by-elections are due in New South Wales in November and I’ve published guides for all three seats. This includes a guide to the Wollongong by-election, which was only recently written.

Beyond that, I’ve been making maps for a couple of recent redistributions. The Northern Territory is in the midst of a redistribution, whereby the urban seat of Solomon will lose some areas on the outskirts of Darwin and Palmerston to the seat of Lingiari. This is the first time since the territory was split into two electorates in 2001 that the boundaries will be changed. I’ve completed a map of the new boundaries which you can download from the maps page.

I am currently working on the new draft map for the South Australian state redistribution, and I’ll be publishing that probably next week, and once the draft boundaries are released for the Queensland state redistribution I will also make a map of those boundaries.

Then once all that’s done I plan to get into preparing the guide to the Western Australian state election, for early next year.

So I will pop up from time to time, but mostly I’ll be away in the background for the remainder of this year.


NSW council election – statewide results

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-9-34-25-amCoverage of local council elections understandably focus on local stories, but this can make it hard to get a broad perspective on how an election has gone. A poor result in one high-profile council doesn’t necessarily mean that party has done poorly in most places they have run, and it’s always possible to focus on success stories over failures. Most frustratingly, council stories are rarely in proportion to the sizes of councils. I’ve tried to remedy this by focusing on the eight most populous councils, most of which are in Western Sydney.

I’ve been working on pulling together booth-level and ward-level data for the 2012 council election. It’s not quite finished, but later this year I’ll be publishing data for this election, along with a few other elections where data is hard to access.

This has allowed me to run a comparison of the election results for the areas that went to the polls on Saturday, looking at the same areas in 2012.

In this post I’ll run through the statewide totals for each party, note some unusual trends and talk about the difference between the councils up for election this year and next year.

Party Votes % Swing
Labor 406,737 24.4 +5.9
Liberal 266,983 16.0 -0.4
Greens 102,276 6.1 +0.5
Other parties 23,196 1.4 -0.4
Independents 870,204 52.1 -5.7

Read the rest of this entry »