The Brisbane Times:

The Queensland Greens’ sole MP, Ronan Lee, isn’t unduly fazed that the party’s best ever result in Saturday’s election didn’t translate into extra seats.

The statewide result will almost certainly ensure that Queenslanders elect a senator from the Greens at the next federal election, he says.

Mr Lee, who defected from Labor last year over their environmental record, says he’s not prepared to concede his seat of Indooroopilly to the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) Scott Emerson.

Mr Lee said it would be two weeks before a winner would be declared in Indooroopilly, adding that it was arrogant of the LNP to claim it.


I repeat – the Greens WENT BACKWARDS on Saturday. The only reason the overall primary vote held up and didn’t plummet was that the Greens stood in an extra fourteen seats. The Greens went backwards in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich (although, really, those areas never matter in a Queensland election).

Even if you ignore that, the point remains that the Greens only polled 8.2%. That on its own isn’t bad for the Queensland Greens, and the party managed to avoid its vote collapsing. But Greens supporters should be spoken to honestly. Unless the Greens can win 13-14% in primary votes at the 2010 election in Queensland, the election of a Senator will all be about the ALP and Coalition votes, as well as preferences.

It turns out that the chances of a Green being elected in Queensland (and in NSW and Victoria) have increased because of the swing from the Liberals to the ALP, which should give the party a surplus and give the Greens a chance to take the third Coalition seat in all three large states. But to say the Greens will “almost certainly” win a seat in Queensland is dishonest in the extreme.

Another thing, is why the hell hasn’t Lee conceded in Indooroopilly? Everyone knows the LNP has won the seat, the ABC has called the seat, and Greens scrutineers tell us that there are large numbers of ALP voters going out of their way to put Ronan Lee last. The Greens lost. The ALP and LNP candidates who lost tough races on Saturday had the humility and respect for democracy to concede when the race was over. So should Ronan Lee.

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  1. I agree Lee should concede, but I reckon you’re being a bit harsh on him here:

    “But to say the Greens will “almost certainly” win a seat in Queensland is dishonest in the extreme.”

    He’s trying to put a good spin on what was a pretty average result. According to this press release, Bob Brown is “predicting” a Senate seat next year.


    BTW I’m not a Lee fan or supporter or anything, but I don’t think The Greens vote remaining static can be totally blamed on pumping resources into Indooroopilly, though I agree it was a pretty dumb idea.

    Please don’t anyone construe this as me being some kind of Lee apologist/barracker, as I am definitely not.

  2. Ronan never hid that, which from my point of view is far better than the alternative.

    It can be quite dangerous the rhetoric above (i.e. that QLD Greens will win a senate seat next time). Especially internally. It happened last time and there was a withdrawal of supporters.

    In ’07 fed, the differential in the senate vote to the house vote was very large. We had a thinly coated spread of supporters at booths cause that’s all we could muster (much like the Vegemite on your morning toast). Had we had both a rip snorter senate campaign (which we did and the evidence is there to show) and a strong polling day presence, then I’m sure the margins would have been different.

  3. A quick note on Ronan. It is interesting to see, looking at recent Newspoll’s that in the period before Ronan’s defection the Greens were floating around 9-10% support, which must be one of the lowest increases in support for the Greens around the country since the 2004-06 round of elections. Since he defecting their vote dropped back down to the 8 and 7% range. Now, I know this is a very high margin of error here and it if difficult to tell what effect Ronan had in Queensland, but I think the Greens really need to question the strategy behind accepting his defection.

    I personally think Ronan’s social conservatism and his continous focus on the environment and only the environment had a negative effect. I believe that the Greens have only started to see the success that they are now seeing since the tag of ‘one issue party’ has been slowly removed and I think what happened in QLD was that it was slowly put back on by Ronan. I don’t know if I’m right, but I think the Greens really need to look at their acceptance of Ronan and question whether it could be something they should do again…

  4. Lastly, although i agree that ‘certainly will win a Senate seat’ is wrong, I do agree that you are being a little harsh on Ronan there. All that was, was political spin, which one requires in this sort of situation. Queensland will be an interesting fight next year though for the Greens and a good chance for an extra seat.

  5. I broadly agree with Ben. The GEC/(end of mining boom) has displaced core “big picture” green issues down the priority list and the lack of a QLD upper house means that there is little opportunity for Greens to get airtime on state issues.
    Given those circumstances we probably should have expected to go backwards at this election.

    From this distance, Lee doesn’t look bad by not conceding yet. Marginal seats get much better treatment by government and I want the ALP to know just how close that seat came to going Green again. If the count takes weeks then it just emphasises how close it was. Northern Wollongong (Cunningham) got a giant showy sea cliff bridge from Michael Organ’s election, lets see what Indooroopilly gets!

  6. I guess it’s possible I was being harsh regarding the Senate seat spin, but I’ve seen it time and time again, that the Greens’ chances are over-hyped and then dashed, and it is highly irresponsible to say things like that when they are patently untrue.

    I also think that Simon has a point that Ronan’s impact on the Queensland Greens campaign was more than just the pulling of resources into Indooroopilly, he was clearly a controversial figure amongst large parts of the Greens’ support base, such as the gay community.

    http://www.qnews.com.au/election – scroll down to the section on the survey – Lee did not respond nor did he send the survey on to a candidate more appropriate to respond to it.

    I’ve been open about criticising parts of the campaign not to be nasty, but because I don’t think it’s a good way forward for the party to take the recent campaign as any sort of success or model to use in the future. If the Greens win a Senate seat in Queensland, it will be in spite of, not because of Ronan Lee.

  7. Hi Ben,
    Do you think the Greens decision to direct to the ALP in key seats made a difference at all? I’m curious about the influence on optional preferential voting.
    I think you’re right in your analysis of the Greens vote going backwards overall, but surely given the unicameral parliament in QLD, the Greens need to pick half a dozen seats and target them? Maybe Indooroopilly was the wrong seat with the wrong candidate (although I’m a parochial Victorian, and have no idea about QLD politics :-)), but surely targeting lower house seats at a state level is the way to go?
    How much relevance does your state vote have to your federal vote, anyway?

  8. Oh, of course, you have to target lower house seats, but Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane Central and South Brisbane (once Anna Bligh retires) are all much better prospects than Indooroopilly. Like you said, “wrong seat with the wrong candidate”.

    Also, the biggest and most likely advance the Greens can make in Queensland is getting a senator elected, and you probably shouldn’t pursue a lower house seat at the expense of your future Senate campaign.

  9. There might be a DD this year and that would mean that Qld and Vic would get their first Green senators and NSW would have one again. Although it would be bad news for Senator Ludlam who would most likely be gone.

    If the Greens got the balance of power in the Qld Legislative Assembly then they could try and get PR for said chamber`s elections (not to mention local council elections).

  10. Interesting comments. A similar situation happened in South Australia where a Labor MP joined the Greens, didnt get preselection for the No 1 Greens candidate on the Legislative Council ticket, then stood as an independent for his Lower House seat and held onto it! All very distracting for the SA Greens and thank god our Upper House candidiate ( an original founding member of the Greens in South Australia), Mark Parnell was elected as an MP and has been very successful at promotong the policies of the party to a wider electorate. I do not support MPs from other parties joining the Greens and then becoming the focus of attention rather than developing local candidates through the party structure. I dont often dare to criticise the highest levels of the party but on both occasions of these Labor defections there has been ‘over the top’ enthusiasm from Canberra. Both ex Labor MPs have proved to be of no benefit to the Green Party. The Queensland result was appalling compared to recent State and federal elections. More hard grind at winning at local government levels would be worth far more than all the fuss because some Labor MP is not happy with his lot and wants to suddenly wear the Green colours.

  11. Tom, a DD would give the Greens Senators in every state plus a second in Tasmania, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a second Green being elected in Western Australia.

    Plus you can’t assume that Rachel would be first on the ticket above Scott. It would be the more likely outcome, due to seniority, but there is no official hierarchy.

    As far as gaining balance of power in the Legislative Assembly, yes it would be great, but that road doesn’t run through Indooroopilly. Also I can’t see a major party giving up the electoral system in state Parliament (that’s more long-term) but PR in councils would be a reasonable aim. That’s one of the main things (along with the lack of an upper house) crippling the Queensland Greens.

  12. I just read all the comments, rather than just your original post, and given how conservative Mr Lee is, you may be thankful he didn’t actually win. Not responding to that GLBTIQ survey on behalf of the Greens (especially given the Greens consistent advocacy for equal rights) is disgraceful. Still, so long as he doesn’t end up being your lead senate candidate, it probably won’t hurt your vote in the next federal election.

    The issue of MPs (or any one active at an organisational level, for that matter) switching parties is a difficult one. I can see how it would be so tempting to take them on board, because you get extra profile and resources, but are they culturally a good fit? Do they agree with the core philosophy and platform of your party? I’m not saying it can’t work out for some people, but The Greens do seem to be doing pretty well at fostering your own talent (your current senators seem to be pretty good), so you don’t necessarily need to poach or take people in from other parties.

    As for getting a QLD senate seat – if it’s not a DD, then that is a big ask. Unless you can get boost your primary vote significantly, it may come down to luck with preferences. It wouldn’t surprise me in a half-senate election if you won Melbourne before you won the Vic senate seat (far less votes to shift in a much smaller area).

  13. I don’t disagree with anything you said about the difficulty of getting MPs to switch parties. Then again, I don’t know whether I would have a different opinion if I was in a Queensland-like situation with little imminent prospect of winning a seat.

    Regarding the QLD and Vic Senate seats (chuck in NSW too), the chances have less to do with the level of the Green primary vote than the relative levels of the major parties. In all three states in 2007 the major parties both got around 3 quotas, meaning the Greens could not get any preferences to win.

    If there is a swing to the ALP in these states of anything like the 5-6% which most polls have, then the Greens would pick up a load of ALP preferences and threaten the third Coalition candidate in each state.

    I wrote more on this here: https://www.tallyroom.com.au/571

  14. That’s an interesting analysis, and it would be great if there is a 5-6% in the senate away from the coalition to either the Greens or ALP at the next federal election, but I’m not convinced it will work out that way. There are a lot more options for voters on the senate ticket, when compared to the reps, and it would be a bit surprising if a big swing away from the Coalition went uniformally to the ALP. There are more right wing micro parties than left or centrist micro parties, so it creates some pretty challenging scenarios for the Greens.
    What interests me, is whether the Greens primary vote is peaking or not? Can you push it higher, now that you’re mostly facing ALP-lead governments?

  15. I would put state Labor governments down as one of the reasons that the Greens get a higher vote a state level than federal. The disappointment at the right-wingness of Labor factor vs the Liberals out factor.

  16. @Ben Raue
    No. This is totally wrong. Brisbane Central, South Brisbane and Mount Coot-tha would only have GRN vs ALP if it got to a TPP count. That means GRN would need LNP preferences or win outright against the ALP. The LNP showed all the preference negotiation skills of an amoeba in a mircowave oven. They were willing to throw away the possibility of a preference deal and the possibility to take a few seats off the ALP because of their own cocky ignorance. They get everything they deserve. Indooroopilly was always going to be an LNP vs GRN TPP if the GRN primary had a large positive swing. So ALP preferences were crucial there and the ALP seems to be much smarter at preference talks than the Nationals (I’m assuming the Nationals took over and hence the a-few-braincells-short-of-a-functioning-organism behaviour).

  17. The ECQ site is indicating “Incorrect Candidate Selected” for Indooroopilly in the 2PP summary – it was LNP/ALP before.

    Of course, this could just be another way to say “still counting”, but depending which way the DSQ votes flowed we could see The Greens in second spot there. After that hurdle the gap is almost impossible to close, but at least that’s a little better than before.

    If DSQ preferences mostly go to The Greens, then we are looking at about 55% LNP to 45% GRN.

  18. Thursday 11.30 am, Ronan is back as the 2pp contender. It will be interesting to see in the final washup just what return ( in terms of labor voters’ preferences) there was on the Green brand trashing strategy. I reckon a swag of primary votes and preferences across the board were lost from lifestyle green lib types who were loathe to vote Nat, (esp because of land clearing and uranium and the merger= Nats takeover factor), but were switched off when Drew and Ronan and the secretariat allowed the Greens to look like untrustworthy Labor toadies.

  19. 2.45 pm: Ronan behind labor by 175 in the primary count.
    In 2006, about 3000 on the roll didn’t cast a formal vote, so the 25,500 formal votes counted so far of the 29,000 on the roll this time must be getting close to the bottom of the barrel. If there’s 1000 to come, and they break conservatively 40% to the lnp, that’s 600 to divvy up between labor and ronan.
    So for ronan to catch up and prevail as #2 it would have to break about 400/200, 2:1, which is a long way form the down side of 50:50 it now is. Do-able? Dubious in the extreme i would have thought.

    Now maybe we get to see how many Indo green voters pref’d labor, even though there was pointedly no recommendation to do so from Ronan and the Party. Oh the irony if a newbie, purely dynastic, blow-in, labor candidate gets up in indooroopilly on Greens preferences. Ouch.
    Shame we don’t get to see the other side of the coin, the share of labor voters that pref’d ronan per the head office deal.

  20. On the question of concession and overhyping claims, this is one of the few things I disagree with Bob Brown on. I think Bob is shaped by his experience in Tasmania where he was told that Di Hollister would lose, and then she ended up winning, so he refuses to concede even when its clearly all over. Lee may have picked it up from Bob, or it may just be arrogance.

    I think it was fair enough to throw resources and Indroopilly. We had no idea how big Ronan’s personal vote was, and it was reasonable to take the risk, at least if you believed he would be an asset. if you think he is an obnoxious, conservative opportunist, as some people do he should never have been accepted. I have never met him and don’t have an opinion on this, but once he was accepted it was reasonable to focus on the campaign of a sitting member in a well above-average seat.

    I think the mistake was not to make it a two-pronged campaign, with similar resources going into Mount Coot-tha. Perhaps there was not really the money to put into both, but there were things that could have been done to promote Larissa that weren’t. Given the margin nothing could have got Larissa there, but another 2-4% was probably achievable, which would have made clear there is one seat the Greens can win in future.

    Since if Larissa puts her hand up (and actively campaigns for it) she’s likely to win preselection for the Senate, raising her profile would have certainly been helpful.

  21. @Simon Copland
    Hm. I agree. The Australian Greens were the first Green party in the world, they have grown to be not just a one issue party, but the best if not only, now that the democrats have been on the demise, choice for people wanting to vote left of centre. ALP is not a party that can promise vast reform.
    Ronan Lee’s activities in his first term in his electorate are well known – allegedly pushing anti-choice through stalls at the university many years ago. This is so widely known.
    I agree with feral sparrowhaw also, focus and resources at Mt. Cootha would have been very well received.

  22. @RightNow

    You’ve missed the fact that there is a block of 700 DSQ votes with preferences to be redistributed. This is presumably a certain type of voter and may trend toward one particular party. This will most likely decide who comes second and moves to the 2PP count.

    With few candidates in the race and judging by neighbouring seats the exhaustion rate will be low, so DNQ votes will probably only exhaust about 20% or less, which means about 550 votes still in the pot going who knows where.

    If the ECQ actually published preference flows on their site we might be able to tell already.

  23. Sam: I was looking more at whether Ronan can eventually make it to #2, and even be in a position to be to be lusting after dsq prefs.

    PS: That unlettered post,about the table based layout, is very funny, in an obscure way, I think, but there could be something technical I’m missing that actually makes it serious. You being an obvious veteran, maybe you can help me: I’m gonna be stuck in a low-bandwidth environment, and would like to minimise download traffic, can do without pictures etc, while browsing, I just want the text, text with readable layout would be good. Any recommendations for browser choice? Back to Lynx? Cheers.

  24. @RightNow

    Preferences are redistributed from the lowest ranked candidate up, so as it stands the first preferences to be redistributed will be DNQ. After that the three remaining candidates attain a new rank based on that flow. So after this first redistribution it is possible that Ronan Lee will edge into second if DSQ voters generally favoured him over Labor. If that occurs then the process is then repeated with Labor votes being redistributed based on preferences to either The Greens or LNP. That’s how it could happen, although I’m not convinced it will.

    You’ll be hard pressed browsing the web in Lynx these days 🙂

    You’d be surprised how well some slower links do. I found myself running over 64k ISDN in the middle of Italy recently and it did surprisingly well. I’m sure there’s some way to setup FireFox to turn off images, javascript and flash that will fix most of the size problems (and reduce the number of individual requests), with the added advantage that when you really need those things you can turn them on.

  25. @Polly Morgan

    If you look at the latest Newspoll for The Greens in NSW we are on about 14%, yet we only got about 8% at the 2007 state election.

    The potential support is there, the crucial issue getting past the “wasted vote” myth and explaining preferences. We always lose votes at elections because of voter nervousness or ignorance about preferences. Plus the media focus on the leaders and main parties.

    A break through in some lower house seats would be very good for denting the ‘wasted vote’ myth.

    Changing demographics and the changing zietgeist means there is no reason to think our primary vote has some kind of natural plateau.

    Better funded and more professional campaigning will also help maximise our potential and grow the brand.

    Watching focus groups it is astonishing how ignorant the population is about The Greens (and the other parties also). Over time, what The Greens are about will slowly seep through.

  26. Actually it’s up to 15% now. Every poll since the beginning of 2008 bar one (the first one after Rees became premier, which had us on 11%), has had us between 13% and 15%.

  27. Through 2006 and up to the 2007 state election, the Greens were polling at 6-7%, so an 8.95% return was outperforming those numbers, which indicates that the Green equivalent of the “Bradley effect” that Mak describes – let’s call it the “Kermit effect” – has limited impct.

    People voting Green for the first time in NSW in the local government elections have experienced exactly the opposite from the “wasted vote” and I personally suspect that the LG election result and the foundation of all those Green councillors is having a tangible effect on the current polling. That’s in addition to the positive effect the current MLCs and even the Federal Senators are having on peoples impression of The Greens.

    All these factors point to a likely continued increase in The Greens primary vote in NSW. If The Greens manage to wrangle a couple of Legislative Assembly seats, then that success will likely influence polling and the primary vote again. By 2015 a couple more seats will begin to come into play for The Greens and by then or at least 2019 we should expect the party to be offering voters a complete option for an alternative government.

    On another topic, Ronan Lee missed the 2PP cut by only 42 votes. Greens preferences flowed roughly 45% to Labor, 15% to LNP and 40% exhausted. The preference flow was pretty similar in Mount Coot-tha, so not much influence from the “just vote one” rubbish perhaps.

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