Queensland Archive


Queensland moves to compulsory preferences

In October 2015, I wrote about an attempt by the Liberal National Party and Katter’s Australian Party to pass legislation through the Queensland Parliament which would have increased malapportionment amongst Queensland electorates.

This legislation had a chance of passing despite Labor being in power due to Labor being a minority government. The LNP and KAP were hoping to win over ex-Labor independent Billy Gordon, whose seat of Cook was one of the large rural seats which would be allowed to have a smaller population under the changed rules.

The October legislation also included some changes to the redistribution committee and a proposal to add up to five more seats to the Parliament. Earlier this month, the LNP and KAP proposed another law which made the same changes to the committee, and increased the size of the Parliament from 89 seats to 93.

Labor still strongly opposed the proposed legislation – personally it seems a lot less objectionable than the original proposal. It’s hard for me to assess who would benefit more from adding four seats – it seems likely that the new seats will be distributed around between both major parties.

It became clear that Rob Pyne (another ex-Labor independent) would vote for the opposition legislation. When the legislation came up tonight, Labor wrong-footed the LNP by amending the legislation to change the voting system from optional preferential voting (OPV) to compulsory preferential voting. The legislation was passed with this dramatic change to the voting system included. KAP and the independents voted with the government, while the LNP were left voting against their own legislation.

While the winners and losers of OPV change over time (the Liberals and Nationals were hurt by OPV in the late 1990s), at the moment OPV hurts Labor, as many Greens votes exhaust rather than flowing to Labor. Antony Green estimates that Labor would have won nine more seats in 2015 if preferences were compulsory.

While the original legislation may have had some slight benefits for the LNP, the Labor amendment will have dramatic consequences, hurting the LNP in a bunch of marginal seats, at least until there is some major shift in partisan voting patterns.

The pros and cons of OPV and CPV, and how they effect how campaigns are run, is a story for another day.

I wanted to just sum up what the current enrolment figures suggest about the next redistribution.

Region # of seats Quota / 89 Quota / 93
Brisbane North 16 15.85 16.57
Brisbane South 20 19.23 20.09
Central QLD 11 10.81 11.30
Gold Coast 10 10.55 11.03
North QLD 11 10.91 11.40
South-East QLD 10 10.40 10.87
Sunshine Coast 8 8.45 8.83
Western QLD 3 2.78 2.91

The Gold Coast gains an entire new seat, with rural parts of south-east QLD and Sunshine Coast almost gaining enough population to each gain their own seats. In southern Brisbane, the increased seat number prevents the region from losing a seat, while northern Brisbane has a half-quota more than its current seats. Overall, the south-east QLD region should gain three of the four new seats – one definitely on the Gold Coast, and the other two likely on the outskirts of Brisbane and in the Sunshine Coast.

Seats on the north and central coast of Queensland are slightly over-quota, so expect to see the fourth new seat on the coast, with seats along the coast nudged along to absorb the extra population.

I’m finding it hard to see an overall trend towards the ALP or LNP in the redistribution changes. LNP seats are already half a quota over before the changes to the quota, with ALP seats collectively 0.4 quotas under. With the reduced quota adjusted for 93 seats, the 42 LNP seats are 2.46 quotas over, while the 44 ALP seats are 1.55 quotas over.

One final thing which remains unclear to me is how this affects the timing of the redistribution. The redistribution was due in this term of Parliament, and expected to commence shortly. Queensland’s Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath, has claimed that passage of the legislation would delay the redistribution into the next term – I can’t find any confirmation of this claim, or an explanation of why a redistribution could not be completed in time for an election due in early 2018.

If you want to see more details, the following map shows seats in relation to the new quota (for 93 seats) passed tonight.


QLD referendum results map

Queenslanders yesterday voted in a referendum on whether the state Parliamentary terms should be extended from three to four years, and that election dates should be fixed on a date in October.

The result was close, but the referendum passed. At the time of writing, Yes has 53.15% of the vote.

Yes is currently winning a majority of the vote in 72 out of 89 districts, and has won in every region of Queensland.

The following clickable map shows the vote in each of the 89 state electoral districts:


Brisbane City Council – Lord Mayoral results

The Liberal National Party’s Graham Quirk won a second full term last night as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, the fourth successive win by the LNP after the two wins by Campbell Newman in 2004 and 2008.

He won comfortably with 58.9% of the votes counted so far after preferences, but even that was a swing of about 10% from the highs of 2012.

The following map provides the primary votes and two-party-preferred votes in the lord mayoral race by ward, including the swings from the 2012 results adjusted for the ward redistribution.

I’ll return later today with similar maps for the Brisbane City councillor elections and the statewide referendum.


QLD election night live

10:20pm – Alright I’ll call it a night. I’ll come back tomorrow and put together some maps of the results. In summary:

  • The Yes vote looks like winning the referendum. Not by a lot, but remarkably consistently across the state, including in Labor and LNP areas.
  • Labor has gained a large swing across most wards for the Brisbane lord mayoralty, with the LNP’s vote after preferences dropping from 68.5% to 58.4%. Such a result would put Labor within reach of winning in 2020.
  • Labor has made no progress towards winning back the city council. They have lost one of their seven wards (Northgate) to the LNP, and look like losing another (The Gabba) to the Greens. While they gained big swings in many safe LNP wards, the ALP actually lost votes in the only seriously marginal LNP ward (Doboy).

10:07pm – The Yes case is winning in both Labor and LNP areas. Yes is winning 54.5% in the 44 seats which Labor won in 2015, while Yes is winning 52.8% in the 42 LNP seats. No is winning in the three seats won by Katter’s Australian Party and independent Peter Wellington.

10:03pm – I’ve just run updated referendum figures. Yes is now winning in all regions, ranging from 50.5% in regional South-East Queensland to 58.3% on the Gold Coast. We have no figures from Stretton, but Yes is winning 67 other seats and No is winning 21 others. The vote count is still more progressed in No areas.

9:55pm – In 2012, Labor won the mayoral vote in only one ward: Richlands. The new ward replacing Richlands, Forest Lake, had a notional LNP majority, so going in to tonight Labor had a mayoral majority in no wards. At the moment it looks like Labor has gained a majority in Forest Lake, Deagon, Moorooka and the Gabba. Labor’s swing is averaging at 9.95%, with swings over 10% in fifteen wards, and a negative swing in only one: Morningside.

9:47pm – In the inner-city ward of The Gabba, it looks like the Greens might be winning off Labor, in a similar way to what happened in Balmain at the 2011 NSW state election. We currently have half the booths in, and the Greens are on 33.6%, the LNP on 33% and the ALP on 31%. However the Queensland Greens report an “unconfirmed scrutineers tally” which has the LNP in first narrowly, with the Greens well ahead of Labor. On either of those sets of numbers you’d expect Labor preferences to elect the Greens over the LNP. Labor’s only hope is to overtake the Greens on primary votes or with preferences from the only other candidate, but on the current numbers that fourth candidate wouldn’t have enough votes to overturn the gap.

9:41pm – It appears that the LNP has held on strongly in its marginal wards. In Doboy the LNP has currently increased their margin from 1.8% to 4.4%. Labor’s vote is up substantially in a whole bunch of safe LNP vote, with swings of over 10% in Coorparoo, Enoggera, Runcorn, The Gap and Marchant.

9:38pm – Looking at the Brisbane City Council results, Labor are leading in six of their current wards on two-party-preferred vote (although I’ll come back to the Gabba). In Northgate, where Labor councillor Kim Flesser retired after 19 years, Labor is currently down 2.6% on the two-party-preferred vote which leaves them on 47.8%.

9:30pm – Breaking up the results by region, “Yes” is winning in every region except for those parts of South-East Queensland outside of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. Even there, No only has 50.3%. We have 26.8% counted in the 11 seats in central Queensland, along with 15% in North Queensland and 22% in the remainder of SE Queensland but under 10% in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

9:28pm – We have referendum data from 74 out of 89 electorates. In 56 of those electorates, “yes” is winning, often not by very much. Yes is only winning over 60% in nine seats. In the other 18, “no” is winning.

17.4% of the roll has been counted in the No seats, while 13.9% has been counted in the Yes seats. This suggests that Yes is likely to increase its lead, although I haven’t been able to take account of any trends within each seat, and we have no idea about how the remaining 15 seats will break.

9:17pm – I’ve now gotten around to looking at the results. I’ll give some analysis on the referendum in a minute.


Queensland council election – ward map completed

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.55.00 pmIt’s only nine days now until Queenslanders vote for their councils for the next four years (along with a referendum on fixed four-year terms for the state parliament), and I’ve finally finished my Google Earth map of the ward boundaries.

Sixteen councils have changed their divisional or ward boundaries since the 2012 election. Four of these are councils which have changed their external boundaries due to the reversal of a pre-2012 council amalgamation: Cairns, Tablelands, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton. The restored councils which took in parts of those four, respectively Douglas, Mareeba, Noosa and Livingstone, will all elect their councillors at large without any wards.

The other twelve councils to change their wards are Banana, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Ipswich, Isaac, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Townsville and Whitsunday.

You can download the map here.

I’m now focusing all of my attention on preparing my guide to the 2016 federal election, with seat guides due to start appearing in April. I’ll likely return with a small amount of analysis of the results of the QLD election and referendum after March 19, but apart from that I’ll be keeping my head down working on the federal election.


Increase to Queensland malapportionment on the cards?

I’ve missed a story which has been quietly bubbling along for the last few months which could see a bill introduced by the opposition Liberal National Party passed, increasing the electoral bias in favour of large rural seats in the Queensland parliament. There are stories today suggesting the legislation could be passed as soon as tonight.

Queensland (along with most states) has a history of malapportionment in the 20th century. Malapportionment (often incorrectly termed a ‘gerrymander’) is where some electorates are drawn with a larger population than others, usually putting more voters in each urban seat and less in each rural seat. This has the effect of making the votes cast in more populous seats less valuable. For most of the twentieth century, this imbalance has favoured the conservative parties, with urban Labor voters packed into a smaller number of seats.

Most of these imbalances have been removed from Australia’s electoral system, with the Western Australian Legislative Assembly moving to ‘one-vote-one-value’ last decade, but a few parts remain.

There are a series of large electorates in northern and western Queensland which have a substantially lower enrolment than the rest of the state, thanks to a policy which grants “phantom electors” to large seats in proportion to their landmass.

All seats are required to fit within 10% of the quota, but seats that are larger than 100,000 square kilometres are allowed to count 2% of their square kilometres towards the quota. So for a seat which covers 200,000 square kilometres, they are allowed to have 4,000 less voters than the average. Robbie Katter’s seat of Mount Isa covers over 570,000 square kilometres, and has less than 20,000 voters, while most seats have between 30,000 and 40,000 voters.

I previously discussed the theory behind this approach back in June, when the NSW Nationals were lobbying for smaller seats in western NSW. While it is reasonable to provide greater resourcing for MPs covering large geographic areas, and it is a good argument for adding additional seats to the Parliament, malapportionment has clear party-political impacts which cannot be justified.

While Labor is in government in Queensland, the party does not have a majority. The opposition LNP has proposed a bill which would double the “phantom voter” allowance to 4% of the square kilometres in a seat, and add up to five more seats to the Parliament. The effect of this change would be to add a sixth seat to the area covered by the five large remote seats (Mount Isa, Dalrymple, Cook, Gregory and Warrego), and add four seats in the rest of Queensland, which covers over 95% of the state’s population.

It appears that the bill has the support of the two Katter’s Australian Party MPs, both of whom represent districts which benefit from the current malapportionment. With KAP and LNP supporting the legislation, the vote comes down to Billy Gordon, the member for Cook in Far North Queensland. Gordon was elected as a Labor MP but was expelled from the party earlier this year, and also represents a very large seat.

It’s unclear where Gordon stands on the issue, but there are reports that he is considering supporting the legislation, and it could be voted on as soon as this evening.

I normally try to avoid campaigning on this website but considering this issue I’m willing to make an exception. GetUp has set up a campaign to ask Queenslanders to email Billy Gordon or call his office to ask him to vote against the legislation. If you live in Queensland or care about fair electoral boundaries, give him a call now.


Redistribution updates – ACT and Brisbane

While I’ve been focusing on other projects, two of the ongoing redistributions have been finalised.

I covered the release of draft boundaries for redistributions for the ACT Legislative Assembly and the Brisbane City Council. In both cases, the final boundaries have now been released.

The ACT boundaries were first published as a draft at the end of March 2015, and were finalised in May. No changes were made between the draft boundaries and the final boundaries. You can read my analysis of the boundaries here.

The Brisbane City Council draft boundaries were released in July, with the final boundaries release in late August. There were a series of small changes to wards, while a majority of wards underwent no changes. The newly-renamed ward of Garden City reverted to its former name of Macgregor in the final version. Read my analysis of the draft boundaries here. I haven’t made any changes to my estimates of margins on the draft boundaries, as no polling places were moved on the final version.

You can download the maps from the maps page.

Brisbane ward boundaries are included in the Queensland wards map, which is currently incomplete as a number of other councils are still undergoing changes.

In other redistribution news, we’re expecting the draft boundaries for federal redistributions in NSW and the ACT to be released this month, and then we’ll be looking to see the final versions of the NT Legislative Assembly redistribution, the WA state redistribution and the WA federal redistribution.

I’m currently collecting information on WA ward changes, and in October and November will post updates of Victorian and Queensland wards in time for their 2016 elections.


Chris Davis resigns from Stafford

Stafford1-2PPLast Friday, embattled former LNP minister Chris Davis resigned his seat of Stafford in the Queensland state parliament.

Davis had served as Assistant Minister for Health for the last two years, but had come into conflict with the Premier and senior ministers over a number of issues, and was sacked as a minister two weeks ago after speaking against government policy.

Last Thursday, Davis voted with Labor, KAP and PUP members of Parliament against the Newman government’s laws demolishing restrictions on donations and election spending in Queensland, and followed that up by resigning from Parliament the following day.

Stafford was won by Davis off the ALP in 2012 with a 14% swing, and he was left with a 7.1% margin. Stafford covers parts of the northern suburbs of Brisbane. After the ALP won the Redcliffe by-election this year, Labor’s candidate Anthony Lynham would have to be favoured to win a Stafford by-election.

While there has been speculation about Campbell Newman not calling a by-election, and leaving the seat vacant for the next nine-ten months until the general election, that would be unprecedented, and it seems most likely that Newman will follow convention and call a by-election.

I’ve prepared a guide to the Stafford by-election, which you can click through at the following link.

Read the guide to the Stafford by-election


Redcliffe results wrap

Last night’s by-election was a thumping victory for the ALP’s Yvette D’Ath. The result was largely in line with expectations, with the Liberal National government polling much more poorly than they did at the 2012 election, and due to the circumstances of the by-election.

These are the figures at the end of election night, including all ordinary booths and prepoll votes. Most outstanding votes will be postal votes.

At the time of writing, the ALP’s swing of just over 16% was slightly larger than the swing to the LNP in 2012, putting D’Ath’s result about even with the ALP’s result in the seat in 2009.

The result was decisive, but it was hardly a shock result. The result does not necessarily mean that the LNP can’t win the seat in 2015. While governments often reclaim seats they lose at by-elections, Redcliffe is not a blue-ribbon Liberal seat and was held by the ALP prior to the huge landslide in 2012. Having said that, D’Ath’s margin is still quite small after such a large swing, and she will need to strengthen her personal vote to stop any backslide in 2015.

Primary vote results as of 9:34pm – 13/13 booths reporting

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected
Andrew Tyrrell Independent 177 0.74 +0.74 0.74
Sally Vincent Family First 586 2.46 -2.07 2.34
Len Thomas Independent 2,513 10.57 +10.57 10.57
John Marshall Greens 950 3.99 -2.73 3.89
Gabriel Buckley Independent 230 0.97 +0.97 0.97
Yvette D’Ath Labor 10,375 43.63 +12.87 43.98
Talosaga McMahonl Independent 317 1.33 +1.33 1.33
Liz Woollard Independent 279 1.17 +1.17 1.17
Kerri-Anne Dooley Liberal National 8,353 35.13 -14.11 35.15
Total formal votes 23,780

Two-party-preferred results as of 9:34pm – 13/13 booths reporting

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected
Yvette D’Ath Labor 11,748 56.19 +16.29 56.39
Kerri-Anne Dooley Liberal National 9,161 43.81 -16.29 43.61
Total in count 20,909

There were thirteen booths used on election day.

The ALP won ten of these booths, and the LNP won three. The two-party-preferred vote for the ALP peaked at just under 65% in Kippa-Ring. The LNP won a slim majority in Kippa-Ring North and Scarborough North, and a solid 62.8% majority in Bally Cara.

The ALP gained double-digit swings at all booths, ranging from 11.3% in Bally Cara and Kippa-Ring North to 22.4% at Kippa-Ring.

The outstanding minor candidate was independent Len Thomas, running in opposition to the Newman government’s anti-bikies laws. Thomas polled over 10% of the vote, with his vote peaking at 13.2% in Frawley.

The Greens came fourth, with their vote dipping below 4%.

The following booth breakdown uses the same booth breakdowns used for the pre-by-election guide.

Voter group IND % ALP 2PP % ALP swing Total votes % of ordinary votes
South 10.15 60.23 +18.29 5,636 32.64
Scarborough 12.15 48.10 +14.61 4,065 23.54
Redcliffe 9.67 59.15 +16.51 3,930 22.76
Kippa-Ring 10.26 57.34 +16.45 3,634 21.05

The ALP won solid majorities of 57-60% in three of the four regions. In Scarborough, the LNP held on with a 52% majority, winning two of the three booths in the area. The ALP won the two largest booths in the Scarborough area, but with slim margins.

You can also view maps below, showing the two-party-preferred vote by booth and the vote for independent candidate Len Thomas.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Redcliffe by-election.

Two-party-preferred votes at the 2014 Redcliffe by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Len Thomas at the 2014 Redcliffe by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Len Thomas at the 2014 Redcliffe by-election.


Redcliffe by-election live

Labor wins Redcliffe by-election.

Primary vote results as of 9:34pm – 13/13 booths reporting

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected
Andrew Tyrrell Independent 177 0.74 +0.74 0.74
Sally Vincent Family First 586 2.46 -2.07 2.34
Len Thomas Independent 2,513 10.57 +10.57 10.57
John Marshall Greens 950 3.99 -2.73 3.89
Gabriel Buckley Independent 230 0.97 +0.97 0.97
Yvette D’Ath Labor 10,375 43.63 +12.87 43.98
Talosaga McMahonl Independent 317 1.33 +1.33 1.33
Liz Woollard Independent 279 1.17 +1.17 1.17
Kerri-Anne Dooley Liberal National 8,353 35.13 -14.11 35.15
Total formal votes 23,780

Two-party-preferred results as of 9:34pm – 13/13 booths reporting

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected
Yvette D’Ath Labor 11,748 56.19 +16.29 56.39
Kerri-Anne Dooley Liberal National 9,161 43.81 -16.29 43.61
Total in count 20,909

8:23pm – The final ordinary booth, Scarborough North has finished reporting. My projection has Labor with a swing of over 16%, although I’m expecting Labor’s vote lead to increase with special votes. This is where I’ll leave the results for tonight. I’ll be back tomorrow with maps and a breakdown of the vote.

8:00pm – We now also have most of the 2PP booths reporting, and it seems conceivable that the ALP swing could reach upwards of 17%.

7:58pm – We now have all of the ordinary votes, while we still wait for special votes. The ALP is on track for a swing of 12.8%, with the LNP suffering a 14.7% swing.

7:40pm – We now have five booths after preferences, plus prepoll, and Labor has a solid lead and a massive swing.

7:37pm – A result of over 62% in Bally Cara has pulled down the figures but the booth is very strong for the LNP and the ALP vote will pick up.

7:33pm – With some prepoll 2PP votes now reporting, my model has Labor on a swing of 14.5%.

7:30pm – We’ve finally got the first booth’s two-party-preferred vote in, at Woody Point South. The ALP polled 59.1% after preferences. I estimate the LNP won about 58% in the booth in 2012.

7:12pm – We still have no results after preferences, but the trend is very strong – with seven booths and some prepoll votes in, the ALP has a +11.5% swing, and the LNP is suffering a swing of over 14.5% against them. Len Thomas, an independent, is third with just under 10%, while the Greens vote has shed a third, dropping to 4%.

6:59pm – Another large swing in Frawley, with Labor up 9.5% and the LNP down 18%. Big vote for independent Len Thomas on 12.8%.

6:58pm – The total turnout in Humpybong was 80.5% of that in 2012.

6:54pm – Humpybong had the highest Labor primary vote in the electorate in 2012, with 33.2%, with many others in the low 30s. The ALP vote is now over 44%.

6:52pm – First booth of Humpybong has reported, with a swing of almost 11% to the ALP and over 11% away from the LNP. If that trend continues, the ALP should narrowly win.

6:49pm – Still waiting for the first results. I’ve decided to produce a projection based on my estimate of the two-party-preferred vote at each booth. My figures were out by no more than 0.1% per booth from Antony Green’s, so I feel comfortable using them to give us a rough projection.

6:28pm – It appears that two-party-preferred votes are being published, so I’ll do my best to include them.

6:00pm – Welcome to the live results from the Redcliffe state by-election. There are 12 regular booths in Redcliffe, and we will be covering the results over the next few hours.

Unfortunately the Electoral Commission of Queensland does not usually produce two-party-preferred votes by polling place, so I will have to produce a projection solely based on primary votes, unless something changes tonight.