Earlier today the NSW Electoral Commission “pushed the button” for the Legislative Council election, and approximately half an hour we had a result in the Legislative Council.
As expected, the Coalition won nine seats, Labor won seven, the Greens won two and the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers each won one seat. But the last seat was not clear before the button was pushed, and ultimately the Animal Justice Party’s Mark Pearson, ahead of No Land Tax’s Peter Jones and Liberal Hollie Hughes.
At the beginning of the count, on primary votes, No Land Tax led Animal Justice by 5235 votes, and Animal Justice led the Liberal candidate by 3212 votes (adding up all Coalition votes and subtracting nine quotas for the first nine elected).
The following graph shows what happened in the last ten counts. The graph does not include Labor, the CDP or the Shooters, who were polling higher but still below quota.
In both the graph and the table below, I show the primary vote for each group at the beginning of the count (excluding full quotas for Labor, Coalition and Greens), and then the final ten counts at the end of the distribution of preferences as the key candidates were excluded and distributed preferences.
By count 374, there was only one candidate remaining in the count for each group. For space reasons, I haven’t included counts 374-380, in which the lead candidates for the five independent groups with above-the-line boxes were excluded, as well as the lead candidate for Socialist Alliance.
This first table shows the No Land Tax lead over Animal Justice, and the AJP lead over the Liberal, through the key counts.
By count 381, No Land Tax’s lead had already narrowed by 1000 votes to 4220. This lead steadily declined, with Animal Justice narrowing the gap by 580 votes on Cyclist, Democrats, Motorists and Fishing Party preferences.
Throughout these rounds, the Liberal also narrowed Animal Justice’s lead, from 3627 to 2270. Also during this process the Greens did well on preferences, overtaking Voluntary Euthanasia on Democrats preferences, but stayed a long, long way behind the candidates in the race.
The No Land Tax lead dropped by 566 votes with the exclusion of Outdoor Recreation, and AJP also started extending their lead over the Liberal candidate. No Land Tax slightly increased their lead with the exclusion of No Parking Meters, but dropped by 1000 votes on the exclusion of Voluntary Euthanasia.
At the point at which the Greens (who had benefited from over 3500 Voluntary Euthanasia preferences) were excluded, Animal Justice took the lead. Of 48,815 Greens preferences, over 10,000 flowed to Labor’s seventh candidate, sitting under quota but certain of victory. Animal Justice gained 5631 Greens preferences, compared to less than 800 votes to No Land Tax, putting Animal Justice in the box seat to win.
With the Liberal candidate now 5000 votes behind No Land Tax, Hollie Hughes was excluded. Animal Justice gained 1700 Liberal preferences, and No Land Tax only gained 1406 preferences, giving Animal Justice a slim but certain 3177-vote margin.
So that’s how Animal Justice won this seat, with preferences playing a critical role. At the first two elections under the current voting system in 2003 and 2007 the 21 candidates elected were those who were leading on primary votes. In 2011, Pauline Hanson was the first candidate to be overtaken on preferences by the Greens and the Nationals, and Animal Justice has managed to overtake No Land Tax this time around.