South Australia Archive


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.


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.


South Australian state redistribution update

This is a quick blog post about a story that I’ve missed up until now.

As they do every four years, the South Australian electoral boundaries are currently in the process of being redistributed. The draft boundaries are due to be released at 11am Adelaide time this morning. This follows a round of submissions earlier this year, which largely went under the radar due to the federal election.

South Australia conducts redistributions after every election. Unlike other jurisdictions around Australia, the boundaries commission is required to ensure that the result is “fair” – ie. that a majority of the two-party-preferred vote gives a majority of seats. I’m on the record as thinking that this is an impossible task. By definition a system of single-member electorates are not fair, it can’t handle multiparty politics, and is always undone by different swings across the state.

The 2010 election saw Labor hold on to its majority despite losing a majority of the two-party-preferred vote, despite the best efforts to draw boundaries which wouldn’t produce this result. After this election, the boundaries commission decided that the boundaries were not unfair and didn’t attempt to undertake major redrawing of the boundaries to undo Labor’s new advantage.

The following map shows how much each seat diverges from the average quota as of 2016. Seats marked in red are above average, those in blue below average. Those in pale yellow are within a range of 1% either above or below. Those in a darker colour are 5% above or below average.

Seats must fall within 10% of the average. Technically only two seats fall outside this band: Port Adelaide is over 10% above average, and the remote north-western seat of Giles is over 10% below average.

In practice a lot more seats will be redrawn. On a regional basis, seats in the northern suburbs of Adelaide are above average. There are four seats north of the Adelaide city centre which are more than 5% above quota. The nine seats at the northern end of Adelaide are collectively 17.6% above quota, while the fifteen seats in central Adelaide are 7.4% above quota, and the southern Adelaide seats are mostly sitting around the quota.

The five seats in northern South Australia are collectively 22.7% below their fifth quota. This suggests that we should expect one of these rural seats to be pulled further into the northern fringe of Adelaide, to absorb the surplus population in Adelaide. We’ll find out soon enough.

I should note that I’m not planning to immediately drop everything to construct a map of the new draft SA boundaries, as I am hoping to produce a guide to some of the biggest councils up for election in New South Wales in September. I’ll return to produce this map later in the year once other elections no longer monopolise my time.


NSW redistribution, council amalgamations and SA reform

There’s been a lot of electoral news this morning! I’ll try to run through it all really quickly. I’ll be putting together the new NSW electoral map over the next week and I’ll try to find some time to cover the other issues.

NSW redistribution

The Australian Electoral Commission has released the draft map of the new New South Wales federal electoral boundaries.

The federal seats of Hunter and Charlton in the Hunter region have effectively been merged. The seat takes in more voters from Charlton, but has maintained the federation seat name of Hunter.

The seat of Throsby (covering the Southern Highlands and southern Illawarra) has been renamed Whitlam after the former prime minister. The seat of Parkes has taken in Broken Hill, while Farrer and Riverina have consolidated into southern NSW.

In inner Sydney, Grayndler has shifted north, losing Labor areas in southern Marrickville and Ashfield and gaining Balmain, Annandale and Drummoyne. The seat of Barton (currently held by the Liberal Party on a slim margin) has shifted into that gap, and presumably will become a notional Labor seat. The seat of Cook, which covers Cronulla, has jumped the Georges River to take in parts of the St George region.

I’ll be working on my map of the boundaries, which is likely to take most of the next week.

We would normally expect Antony Green to calculate the seat margins for the redistribution, but he’s currently in Canada for Monday’s Canadian federal election. I’m not currently equipped to do the calculations for such a large state but will look into it if we haven’t heard from Antony by the end of next week.

NSW local government amalgamations

We’re still waiting to hear from the NSW government about it’s plans for council amalgamations across Sydney but we’ve gotten a seemingly well-placed report in today’s Daily Telegraph with some details about the proposal, although they are in part contradictory.

In one part, it suggests that Sydney’s councils will be cut from the current 42 to about 20, and that about one third of the state’s 152 councils will be cut. But in the article and on the map there are seven council mergers proposed, which would cut the number of councils by eight – a long way short of cutting 22 councils from Sydney.

It also talks about “as many as 30 rural and regional councils” being abolished, but also suggests a reluctance to touch rural councils – 30 rural councils being abolished is a lot.

The mergers proposed are:

  • Manly and Warringah
  • Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield
  • North Sydney and Mosman
  • Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai
  • Bankstown and Canterbury
  • Randwick and Waverley
  • Auburn, Holroyd and southern parts of Parramatta (Granville mostly)

There’s an interesting mix here. Some very small councils such as Mosman, Burwood and Strathfield are on the chopping block, but other small councils such as Hunters Hill and Woollahra appear to be saved. Large councils like Warringah, Randwick, Bankstown and Hornsby are also set to merge, sometimes with reasonably large neighbours.

Considering these discrepancies, it appears these might only be some of the mergers planned.

The report also suggests a delay in council elections until March 2017, although it’s unclear if this would only be for affected councils, or the whole state.

Watch this space.

South Australian electoral reform

The South Australian government has announced plans for a raft of electoral changes, including introducing the possibility of double dissolution elections to resolve deadlocks.

Interestingly, it also involves the abolition of preference voting for the Legislative Council, moving instead to a party list system using the Saint-Lague counting method. This is very similar to how most proportional systems work in Europe.

There won’t be any preferences, with only primary votes used to distribute seats, according to a method which involves dividing the number of votes by a party by the number of seats they have won.

It’s quite a good system to use for list elections, as it is much much simpler than the way we elect our proportional houses in Australia, but it is problematic if it’s used in elections where not that many candidates are to be elected. It would work much better in SA if they also moved to four-year terms for the upper house, and thus elected 22 candidates instead of 11, but I can’t work out if that’s part of the package.

The reforms will be put to a referendum in 2018.


Fisher update – could there be another win from third?

All votes have now been counted for last weekend’s Fisher by-election for the state seat in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

Earlier this week I wrote about how, after Labor won a solid lead on election night, a strong Liberal lead in the declaration votes brought the race close to a tie. As of yesterday afternoon, all two-party-preferred votes have been counted and Labor leads the Liberal candidate by 24 votes.

As long as Labor remains in the top two when the official preference distribution concludes today, you would expect Labor to win by roughly 24 votes.

However, there is a scenario where independent candidate Dan Woodyatt could overtake Labor and win the seat on Labor preferences, in a similar way to how the Greens won Prahran earlier this week.

On primary votes, Labor’s Nat Cook is leading independent Dan Woodyatt by 711 votes, and there are an additional 2864 votes cast for five other minor candidates.

For Woodyatt to win, he needs to gain a lead over Labor of 25% of those minor candidates’ votes. That could be a scenario where 50% goes to Woodyatt and 25% each goes to Labor and Liberal.

This is definitely a possible outcome, but there is not as much information about how those candidates’ preferences are flowing, as there was in Prahran earlier this week.

The preference distribution is taking place today, so we should find out this afternoon.


Fisher – Liberal takes the lead?

While we were all distracted by Prahran yesterday afternoon, quite strange things were happening in the count for the South Australian state seat of Fisher following Saturday’s by-election.

We all expected Labor to win the Fisher by-election after an error on Sunday revealed that Labor was holding 52% of the vote on election-day votes.

The Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) added a whole bunch of ‘declaration votes’ yesterday, and with these votes the Liberal Party took a 17-vote lead. Just before this blog post went up, another batch was added and this resulted in Labor’s Nat Cook regaining the lead by 21 votes. At the time of writing, this update hasn’t made it to the ECSA website.

When I say ‘declaration votes’, I’m referring to all votes other than those cast at a local polling place on election day. This includes, prepoll votes, postal votes, absentee votes, and a few other small categories. There are no absentee votes because this is a sole by-election, so you would expect most of that category to be postal votes and prepoll votes.

While there was a swing of about 9% away from the Liberal Party on ordinary votes, the current sample of declaration votes suggests only a slight drop in the Liberal two-party-preferred vote, down to 55.6%. That seems quite unlikely.

Sadly, ECSA does not break down declaration votes by type, so it’s hard to know whether those votes counted are all postal or prepoll, and we can’t separately compare them to similar votes from March.

It’s also unclear whether all votes have been counted. However, when you compare total votes counted, it seems that not as many votes have been counted. In March, 24,087 votes were counted in Fisher, including informal votes. So far, only 21,175 votes have been counted. It’s likely that there has been some drop in turnout, but it’s also possible that some declaration votes are yet to be counted.

On Twitter, Nine News reporter Tom Richardson reported that most declaration votes have been counted, with a small batch to come.

The Liberal Party was only winning by the slimmest of margins thanks to a very high declaration vote, considering their election day vote. If there are more votes, and they don’t favour the Liberals by the same margin, then you would expect Labor to win. Labor has already taken a slim lead.


Fisher by-election – results wrap

Update: Sunday’s recheck did indeed discover an error at the Aberfoyle Park booth which means the booth was won by Labor with 54%, not the Liberal Party with 54%. This puts the Labor two-party-preferred vote over 52%, and pretty much locks down the result.

Original post: Yesterday’s by-election in the southern Adelaide state seat of Fisher produced an unclear result, but one major party should be very happy with the result, while the other should be disappointed.

Fisher is a traditional Liberal seat – the seat was held by the Liberal Party from 1989 until Bob Such left the party in 2000. At the March 2014 general election, the Liberal Party won 57.2% of the two-party-preferred (Liberal vs Labor) vote in Fisher, which suggests that the party would have won the seat without Such’s candidacy.

In comparison, Labor won 50.9% of the two-party-preferred vote in the nine polling places used on election day. Labor won four out of nine polling places. In March, the Liberal Party won all ten polling places, with a vote ranging from 52.3% to 68%.

Independent candidate Dan Woodyatt ran explicitly as a successor to Bob Such, but polled much less than Such. Woodyatt is now polling 22.5% of the primary vote, compared to 38.4% for Bob Such in March.

While around 16% of Bob Such’s voters moved away from Woodyatt, the Liberal Party completely failed to gain those votes. The Liberal vote is currently down 0.05% compared to March, while Labor’s primary vote is up by over 10%.

I don’t have exact figures, but it appears that the number of declaration votes (which includes postal and prepoll votes) has increased compared to March. Antony Green estimates that the Liberal Party will need to do 3% better than they did on election day, which is greater than the gap in March.

If Labor holds on to their lead and wins the seat, the Labor government will regain a majority in the House of Assembly, with 24 seats as well as the support of two independents, compared to 21 seats for the Liberal Party.

For my analysis, I have split up booths into the same three areas used in the by-election guide: East, Central and West.

The ALP won 54.7% of the two-party-preferred vote in the east, and 49% of the 2PP vote in the Central area. The Liberal Party won a large 63.5% majority in the west, but the population is much smaller in that area.

Voter group LIB prim % ALP prim % IND prim % ALP 2PP % Formal % of votes
East 34.58 33.55 18.47 54.65 7,482 51.16
Central 32.98 23.35 27.67 48.89 6,065 41.47
West 50.00 14.01 21.43 36.45 1,078 7.37

One other thing worth noting: Antony Green has identified a possible error in counting that may have underestimated the Labor two-party-preferred vote.

In seven out of nine polling places, the proportion of minor party and independent preferences flowing to the Liberal Party was clustered from 30% to 35%, but the Liberal Party received 45% of preferences in Clarendon, and over 50% of preferences in Aberfoyle Park.

If you look at the following map showing the swings after preferences, you’ll also see that the swing to Labor is much lower at those two booths. Every other booth has a swing to Labor of 7-11%, but those two booths have a swing of 2-3%. This discrepancy does not exist on Labor’s primary vote – Labor gained a swing of 9.6% on primary votes in Aberfoyle Park, although the Labor primary vote swing in Clarendon was substantially lower at 4.2%.

There’ll be a recheck of votes tomorrow, so if there is a problem it should be discovered, and this would make the challenge even more serious for the Liberal candidate.

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

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

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Two-party-preferred swings at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Liberal primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Labor primary votes at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.

Primary votes for independent candidate Dan Woodyatt at the 2014 Fisher by-election.


Fisher by-election live

Fisher by-election primary votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Projected %
Heidi Harris Liberal 5,126 35.05 -0.05 35.18%
Jeanie Walker Independent 140 0.96 +0.96 0.96%
Nat Cook Labor 4,077 27.88 +10.14 27.96%
Rob De Jonge Independent 545 3.73 +3.73 3.73%
Bob Couch Stop Population Growth Now 187 1.28 +1.28 1.28%
Dan Woodyatt Independent 3,291 22.50 -15.95 21.83%
Malwina Wyra Greens 582 3.98 -0.75 4.35%
Dan Golding Independent 677 4.63 +4.63 4.63%

Fisher by-election two-party-preferred votes – all booths reporting, no declaration votes reported

Candidate Party Votes %
Heidi Harris Liberal 7,115 49.07
Nat Cook Labor 7,384 50.93

9:01pm  With no more results expected tonight, I would have to say Labor is the favourite to win in an extremely close race.

8:59pm – Labor has won 62.44% of preferences distributed tonight, with the Liberal Party winning 37.56%. If you apply the swings we saw on the booths to the March declaration vote, and then distribute preferences from Woodyatt, the Greens and other minor candidates in the same proportions, then Labor wins the declaration vote by 50.55%. Without knowing how big that vote is, that would see Labor win with a slightly reduced margin. Having said that, this assumes that the declaration vote is similar to what it was in March. We can’t assume that.

8:53pm – And we now have the final 2PP figures for election day – the Liberal Party narrowly winning Aberfoyle Park North. This leaves Labor leading by 269 votes before the inclusion of declaration votes. According to Antony Green there has been a big increase in the number of prepoll votes which makes it hard to predict how they will break.

8:21pm – Using the same model as before (which actually underestimated Labor’s preference flow slightly), I expect the Liberals to win Aberfoyle Park North but not by enough to offset Labor’s current lead. Then it will all come down to declaration votes. In March, there was 5865 declaration votes in Fisher. If Labor holds on to a lead of 227 votes after Aberfoyle Park North reports, then the Liberal Party would need 51.9% of the 2PP to win.

8:17pm – We just got the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park North, and the 2PP figures for Reynella East and Happy Valley West. Those 2PP figures have pushed Labor into first place by more than I predicted – they’re leading by 371 votes. Aberfoyle Park North also saw a solid pro-Labor swing but not as big as some other booths.

8:12pm – If you look at the three Aberfoyle Park booths that have reported votes, the Liberal Party is leading 2020-1989 – a 31-vote lead. If something similar happens at Aberfoyle Park North – a reasonably large booth – then Labor may end up ahead by about 100 votes before declaration votes are counted.

8:09pm – So far there are six booths reporting 2PP figures, and in those booths the minor party vote is splitting roughly 60% to Labor and 40% to the Liberal Party. If you extrapolate that to Reynella East and Happy Valley West, then Labor turns a 386 vote deficit into a 157-vote lead. However Labor is not expected to do quite as well at the ninth booth, Aberfoyle Park North, from which we’ve heard nothing.

8:04pm – We now have eight out of nine booths reporting and the ALP is well ahead of Woodyatt. There’s roughly 14% of the vote with other candidates but it’s hard to see Woodyatt overtaking Labor – quite a lot of that will flow to Labor or Liberal.

7:54pm – Labor has also topped the primary votes in Happy Valley West, which has pushed Cook ahead of Woodyatt on primary votes. The projection model is holding steady.

7:45pm – We’re now missing primary votes from Aberfoyle Park North, Happy Valley West and Reynella East. Happy Valley West, Reynella East and the abolished booth of Woodcroft were the only booths where Labor polled over 20% in March 2014. They were also the three worst booths for Bob Such. This is why my model is suggesting Labor will overtake Woodyatt, but that certainly could be wrong.

7:42pm – Vote after preferences now reported from Happy Valley and the Liberal Party won – just. This narrows the Liberal lead from 52.8% to 52.2%.

7:37pm – Now have the 2PP figures for Aberfoyle Park Central and the primary votes for Aberfoyle Park, and they are both good for Labor. Labor has now won the vote in the two Aberfoyle Park booths to report 2PP figures. In the two booths reporting primary votes but no 2PP, Labor is up over 10% and the Liberal Party is down 2%. Overall, the Liberal Party is only leading by 2.8% after preferences off a sample biased towards them.

7:25pm – We’ve just added another Aberfoyle Park booth – four out of nine booths are in Aberfoyle Park – and we saw a 0.3% swing against the Liberal Party and a swing of over 11% to the ALP. We haven’t yet gotten 2PP figures for either Aberfoyle Park booth.

7:22pm – I’ve also now added in the two-party-preferred count between Liberal and Labor. There are no swings or projections possible on these figures, but it’s worth noting that Labor narrowly won in Aberfoyle Park South. We haven’t gotten results from Happy Valley, but there was a primary vote swing of over 10% to Labor and 2% away from the Liberal Party there, so that should increase Labor’s 2PP vote.

7:18pm – An even bigger booth, Happy Valley, has about as many voters as the first three booths combined. The Liberal vote has actually gone down at Happy Valley by 2%.

7:14pm – The first large booth – Aberfoyle Park South – has reported, and the Liberal vote has dropped to 41%. The projection is roughly the same – Liberal on 41%, Labor 25%, Woodyatt on 17.5%.

7:09pm – With two booths reporting, the Liberal Party is on 50% of the primary votes, with independent Dan Woodyatt second on 21% and Nat Cook on 14%. However my projection suggests that these booths are strong for the Liberal Party and particularly bad for Labor, and if the trends continue (comparing Woodyatt to Such’s vote in March), then Labor will overtake Woodyatt and the Liberal vote will drop to 42%. Heidi Harris should still win on that vote.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in the by-election for the state seat of Fisher in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. I’ll be back with results as soon as they are available.


Fisher by-election – election day

Voters are going to the polls today in the by-election for the southern Adelaide seat of Fisher in the South Australian parliament. The by-election was triggered by the death of independent MP Bob Such.

I’ll be back with live coverage of the results from 6pm Adelaide time (6:30pm AEDT). In the meantime you can read the Tally Room guide to the Fisher by-election.

William Bowe of Poll Bludger also wrote about the by-election in yesterday’s Crikey: in particular considering the prospects of independent candidate Dan Woodyatt, who is attempting to position himself as the successor to Bob Such.


Fisher and Davenport by-elections in South Australia

Fisher1-2CPWhile I’ve been busy preparing guides to the three major state elections coming up soon, I’ve been neglecting two by-elections due over the next two months in South Australia.

The seats of Fisher and Davenport in southern Adelaide will both be electing new MPs in by-elections: Fisher on December 6, and Davenport on January 31, 2015.

The Fisher by-election was triggered by the death of Bob Such. Such was a former Liberal who had held Fisher since 1989 – holding it as an independent since 2000. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after winning re-election earlier this year, and died in October.

Former Liberal leader Iain Evans resigned from Davenport shortly after Such’s death. His seat of Davenport lies immediately to the south of Fisher, and the Liberal Party hoped to have both by-elections scheduled on the same date, but the Labor Speaker of the Legislative Assembly declined to do so, and scheduled Davenport for the end of January.

The Liberal Party are favourites to win both seats.

As usual, the guides feature the history and geography of each seat, the results of the last election, a breakdown of booth results from March 2014, and a list of candidates. You can also join in the discussion about each by-election in the comment thread. Click on the links below to visit the by-election pages, or click on the links on the menu at the top of the website: