WA Senate by-election – preferences announced


Each group running in the WA Senate by-election submitted their group voting tickets on Saturday, which will direct preferences for above-the-line votes cast for each group. With the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, I’ve only now had time to analyse the preferences lodged. You can download the Group Voting Tickets here (PDF).

Each Group Voting Ticket covers all 77 candidates running in the election, but for the purposes of my analysis I have looked at only 33 candidates – the third Liberal candidate, the second Labor candidate and the first candidate for every other group running. I have also excluded the two ungrouped independents.

All of my analysis focused on where each party preferenced a group of ten parties that all polled over 1% at the 2013 election in Western Australia. There’s no guarantee that these ten parties are the only parties to stand a chance of winning election, but their chance is greatest.

After speculation about the ALP not preferencing the Greens, the outcome is a tad anticlimactic and is unlikely to hurt the Greens. The ALP preferences, in order, the Secular Party, the Animal Justice Party, the Sex Party, the independent Save the ABC group, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, HEMP, and then the Greens. It is very unlikely that any of those parties will remain in the count long enough to challenge the Greens and benefit from Labor preferences.

There is a wide variety in how parties have preferenced.

On the left, the Greens received preferences directly from Wikileaks, the Socialist Alliance and the Pirate Party. The Save Our ABC group and the Sex Party preferenced the ALP before the Greens, while the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Sustainable Population Party and Animal Justice Party all split their preferences evenly between Labor and the Greens. Surprisingly, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) placed the Greens very low, behind the Shooters, the ALP and the Palmer United Party, amongst many others. The Secular Party preferenced the Sex Party and then the Greens, amongst parties with a significant chance.

The Republican Party and the Mutual Party, both with names that suggest a progressive agenda, both preferenced the ALP and Greens poorly and placed the Liberal Democratic Party high.

A block of parties preferenced tightly, including the LDP, the Republican Party, the Mutual Party, the Outdoor Recreation Party and Smokers Rights, all placed the LDP highly and otherwise mostly placed microparties in the top half of their preference order.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Freedom and Prosperity Party (formerly the Carbon Sceptics), Australian Voice, Building Australia Party, PUP, HEMP and the Australian Sports Party all placed the Shooters most highly amongst the top ten parties.

We’ll have to wait for others to do a deeper level of analysis to know what tiny parties have accrued enough preferences to stand a chance of winning, in the way that the Australian Sports Party did. However one measure of this can be seen by averaging the rank that each party achieved on each other party’s preference list.

As a score from 1 to 33, the parties with the best average preferences are the Australian Democrats (10.6), the Mutual Party (10.9), and the Australian Sports Party (11.7). The parties with the worst average preference ranking are the Smokers Rights Party (23.3), the Socialist Alliance (23) and Rise Up Australia (22.1).

Over the fold, I’ve summarised the key preferences for all 33 groups. You can also download all of the Group Voting Tickets in spreadsheet form here.

Update: Edited to reflect that the Voluntary Euthanasia Party split their preferences evenly between the Greens and Labor, not going to Labor entirely as previously written.

For each group, I have shown where in their ticket they have placed the key candidate for the ten groups who polled over 1% in Western Australia in 2013, with the ranking of that party in brackets. The last group ranked will have the number 33, and the relevant group is ranked first.

  • A – Wikileaks – Greens (2), HEMP (3), Sex Party (4), Labor (7), PUP (17), Nationals (18), LDP (20), Liberal (22), Christians (30), Shooters (32)
  • B – Nationals – Liberal (2), Christians (5), LDP (7), Shooters (12), PUP (18), Labor (21), Greens (22), Sex Party (25), HEMP (33)
  • C – Independent (Save our ABC) – Labor (5), Greens (6), HEMP (7), Shooters (9), PUP (12), Nationals (14), Sex Party (18), Liberal (23), Christians (26)
  • D – Democrats – HEMP (4), Sex Party (7), PUP (17), Greens (18), Shooters (19), Christians (27), LDP (33)
    • 1/2 – Labor (23), Nationals (24), Liberal (25)
    • 2/2 – Nationals (23), Liberal (24), Labor (25)
  • E – Pirate Party – Greens (2), Sex Party (7), LDP (8), HEMP (10), Labor (18), Nationals (23), Shooters (24), PUP (26), Liberal (27), Christians (31)
  • F – Labor – Sex Party (4), HEMP (7), Greens (8), LDP (13), PUP (14), Shooters (17), Christians (18), Nationals (31), Liberal (32)
  • G – Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party – Shooters (2), PUP (7), HEMP (8), Sex Party (19), LDP (25), Christians (27), Nationals (28), Greens (31)
    • 1/2 – Labor (29), Liberal (30)
    • 1/2 – Liberal (29), Labor (30)
  • H – Freedom and Prosperity Party – Shooters (8), Christians (13), HEMP (15), LDP (16), PUP (18), Nationals (23), Liberal (24), Labor (25), Sex Party (26), Greens (33)
  • I – Voluntary Euthanasia Party – HEMP (3), Sex Party (5), LDP (9), Shooters (21), PUP (15/23), Nationals (23/26), Liberal (25/30), Christians (27/33)
    • 1/2 – Greens (7), Labor (8), PUP (15), Shooters (21), Nationals (23), Liberal (25), Christians (27)
    • 2/2 – Labor (7), Greens (8), Shooters (21), PUP (23), Nationals (26), Liberal (30), Christians (33)
  • J – Liberal Democratic Party – HEMP (11), Sex Party (23), Liberal (24), Shooters (25), Nationals (26), Labor (27), PUP (28), Christians (29), Greens (31)
  • K – Australian Voice – Shooters (6), PUP (8), Christians (9), HEMP (10), Sex Party (20), Nationals (21), LDP (30), Liberal (31), Labor (32), Greens (33)
  • L – Building Australia Party – Shooters (8), HEMP (11), Christians (14), PUP (18), LDP (19), Nationals (22), Liberal (25), Sex Party (26), Labor (27), Greens (33)
  • M – Mutual Party – LDP (11), Shooters (12), HEMP (14), PUP (19), Christians (22), Sex Party (23), Liberal (29), Nationals (30), Labor (32), Greens (33)
  • N – Family First – PUP (2), Christians (5), LDP (10), Nationals (11), Liberal (12), Shooters (14), Greens (25), Labor (26), HEMP (30), Sex Party (33)
  • O – Sustainable Population Party – HEMP (10), Nationals (13), Sex Party (14), LDP (15), PUP (22), Christians (25), Shooters (29)
    • 1/3 – Greens (17), Labor (18), Liberal (19)
    • 2/3 – Labor (17), Greens (18), Liberal (19)
    • 3/3 – Liberal (17), Greens (18), Labor (19)
  • P – Palmer United Party – Shooters (6), HEMP (7), Nationals (14), Liberal (15), Christians (16), Labor (18), Greens (25), Sex Party (31), LDP (32)
  • Q – Australian Sports Party – Shooters (12), Christians (15), Sex Party (18), LDP (19), PUP (20), Liberal (22), HEMP (23), Greens (28), Labor (29), Nationals (30)
  • R – Liberal – Nationals (2), Christians (3), LDP (5), Shooters (6), PUP (9), Sex Party (26), Labor (28), HEMP (30), Greens (33)
  • S – Shooters and Fishers – HEMP (10), PUP (15), LDP (19), Liberal (20), Nationals (21), Labor (22), Christians (23), Sex Party (25), Greens (33)
  • T – Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) – Shooters (15), Sex Party (17), Labor (21), PUP (22), LDP (23), Greens (25), Nationals (30), Christians (32), Liberal (33)
  • U – Republican Party – LDP (2), Sex Party (5), HEMP (7), Shooters (10), Liberal (18), Nationals (19), Greens (20), Labor (23), Christians (30), PUP (33)
  • V – Smokers Rights – LDP (2), HEMP (11), Sex Party (23), Liberal (24), Shooters (25), Nationals (26), Labor (27), PUP (28), Christians (29), Greens (31)
  • W – Fishing and Lifestyle – Shooters (3), Christians (9), Liberal (15), Nationals (16), PUP (17), HEMP (21), Labor (22), Greens (23), LDP (29), Sex Party (32)
  • X – Australian Christians – Liberal (5), Nationals (8), Shooters (10), PUP (15), Labor (20), LDP (27), HEMP (29), Greens (31), Sex Party (33)
  • Y – Secular Party – Sex Party (4), Greens (8), LDP (9), HEMP (10), Labor (12), Nationals (15), Liberal (16), PUP (18), Shooters (27), Christians (33)
  • Z – Rise Up Australia – Christians (3), Liberal (12), Nationals (13), Shooters (15), PUP (17), LDP (22), HEMP (29), Sex Party (31), Greens (32), Labor (33)
  • AA – Greens (WA) – Labor (6), Sex Party (7), HEMP (12), PUP (22), Nationals (25), Liberal (26), Christians (27), Shooters (28), LDP (32)
  • AB – Democratic Labour Party – Christians (3), LDP (17), Nationals (18), Liberal (19), Shooters (20), PUP (21), HEMP (28), Sex Party (31), Greens (32), Labor (33)
  • AC – Katter’s Australian Party – LDP (5), Christians (7), HEMP (8), Shooters (9), PUP (12), Nationals (17), Greens (31), Sex Party (32)
    • 1/2 – Labor (18), Liberal (19)
    • 2/2 – Liberal (18), Labor (19)
  • AD – Animal Justice Party – HEMP (5), Sex Party (8), PUP (13), Liberal (16), Christians (23), Nationals (25), LDP (26), Shooters (33)
    • 1/2 – Greens (11), Labor (12)
    • 2/2 – Labor (11), Greens (12)
  • AE – Sex Party – Labor (5), HEMP (6), Greens (10), Shooters (19), PUP (22), Liberal (23), Nationals (24), LDP (28), Christians (33)
  • AF – Socialist Alliance – Greens (2), HEMP (5), Sex Party (9), Labor (10), Nationals (17), Liberal (18), PUP (21), LDP (24), Shooters (28), Christians (29)
  • AG – Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens) – LDP (2), HEMP (11), Sex Party (23), Liberal (24), Shooters (25), Nationals (26), Labor (27), PUP (28), Christians (29), Greens (33)
Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!


  1. Thanks for putting it together in this format Ben.
    Worth noting though to add to your analysis that some groups have put the 2nd and 3rd Labor candidates in very different places on their tickets, so this analysis will have some variations if Labor polls over 2 quotas.

  2. That’s true, I’m assuming that if Labor exceeds their second quota it won’t be by that much and so the third Labor candidate won’t be a significant factor.

  3. Ah yes, unless it’s well over 2 quotas they won’t get enough early preferences to stay in the count so you’re right it’s not really important.

  4. Thanks Ben for a great summary.

    I’m wondering if there is a good way to rank the results of the group tickets. Looking at Scott Ludlam, he doesn’t do that well in terms of “average preference position”, but he also has by far the highest variation in preference position. People either love him or hate him.

    Is it likely that this could be a mitigating factor? The Democrats do well in terms of average position, but if they are always around 20-30th on the group tickets, is that even of much value?

    Some weighing of the likely preference flows might also be good. The benefits of being preferenced well by a major party is likely to outweigh preferences from a micro.

  5. Ben,

    Would you say that in terms of preference flows and ticket positions we are likely to see 2 labor, 2 liberal/national and the last seats taken by parties in the two competeting preference flows

  6. On what basis did the Animal Justice Party preference the Liberals before the Greens? Its thanks to the Animal Justice Party’s preferences that a Liberal was elected to the Senate last year in the ACT rather than Simon Sheikh.

    Is it fair to say they’re a Conservative front?

  7. Using Antony Green’s Senate calculator now online, it looks to me that if Labor get between around 30 and 33% of the primary vote, there is a strong chance the HEMP Party (whose lead candidate is from NSW) will pull off a preference harvest which will see them win a seat at the expense of the Greens. It looks to me that to be guaranteed of winning regardless of how the ALP polls, the Greens need at least around 12.8% of the primary vote.

    That’s a rough assessment, be interested to see if others have drawn other conclusions.

  8. In response to Nick C, I have been running simulations in my own version of the calculator and agree that the guy from HEMP has a real chance of “doing a Dropulich” and preference-surfing his way to a seat.

    I have him in with a chance at even lower Labor vote levels, but his odds increase with the Labor vote and once they go over 30% his chances are pretty good. I’m going to run some more sims to see how sensitive his chances are to his own vote, which might suffer if turnout is lower.

    My other observation at this stage is that the third Liberal seat looks pretty safe, even with quite large swings against them. I have them getting three seats with a primary vote of under 33.5% in some scenarios.

  9. Nick C and Alaric,

    I ran several versions of results through the calculator assuming a slight swing to ALP and wikileaks (based on donkey vote) I never saw HEMP elected. What percentages are you assuming?

  10. My simulations have got a random element in them, so all the votes shift. Also I do have assumed votes for the new parties. However one simple scenario that gets him elected is a 3.6% swing from Liberal to Labor plus a 0.2% vote for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.

    There are scenarios that involve a smaller swing to Labor but they also require larger votes for HEMP and/or VEP and possibly smaller votes for the Shooters and the Sex Party.

    The equation as far as I can figure it out from my sim results is that HEMP needs to get enough votes themselves (and possibly from VEP) to survive an elimination against Animal Justice.

    They also need SPP to have dropped out early so that HEMP get the AJP preferences. SPP have a tiny vote but they don’t need to lift it much to surf preferences quite deep into the count.

    If HEMP get through that, they likely collect preferences from the Sex Party and any Labor surplus and potentially get elected on Liberal Democrat and PUP preferences.

    Without a Labor surplus they generally end up behind the Liberal Democrats, which usually leads to PUP getting the final seat. Also, if the ALP surplus is small, such that the third ALP candidate goes out before the Sex Party, the ALP surplus boosts the Sex Party past HEMP.

    It is possible for HEMP to get elected without a significant Labor surplus if PUP or the Liberal Democrats poll particularly badly and everything else goes right for HEMP.

    In the scenarios where the Sex Party or Animal Justice go deep into the count, they generally don’t get elected because Animal Justice do not get the Shooters preferences (funny that!) and are behind both PUP and the Greens on the Liberal Democrat ticket while the Sex Party also miss the Shooters preferences and fall behind the Liberal Democrats and/or Nationals.

    I did get a few simulations where Sex Party sneak in with the help of the dubious modified Gregory method. In each case the third Liberal is close to getting elected before collecting PUP preferences and a resulting large surplus. The large number of Liberal ballots in the surplus allocation then pushes the bulk of the surplus to the Sex Party, rather than to the Greens, who are ahead of the Sex Party on the PUP ticket itself.

  11. I assumed small decreases for most of the micro-parties on account of there being more candidates for their vote to be spread amongst. However I assumed small increases for the Sports Party and Motoring Enthusiasts on account of the extra publicity they’ve gained since last year.

    I put Smokers Rights down to 0.17% on account of them having had the donkey vote advantage last time.

    I assume Wikileaks vote would be unchanged because counterbalancing the donkey vote advantage is the increased competition from the Pirate Party and others, and the less attention they are garnering since last year’s campaign.

    I assume the LDP will be down because they were 2nd on the ballot paper last year and are much further back this time, plus the additional publicity surrounding what happened last year may cut down on the number of confused Liberal voters.

    I asume swings away from Palmer and the Nats as well.

    I assume 0.3% for the Save the ABC group, but that might be overly generous.

  12. Paul, just an aside, but the Libs would have got their ACT Senator up even without preferences from the AJP.

    They aren’t a conservative front, but they are a small clique and, in the case of the ACT, they wanted to punish the Greens for supporting a kangaroo cull, so they preferenced the majors first in the hope that the Greens would then change their policy to get AJP preferences. Pretty hardline tactics, but I believe that was where it came from.

Comments are closed.