NSW 2019 – upper house count nears its end


We are now very close to the end of counting for the NSW Legislative Council. The original plan was to finish data entry on Wednesday, with the button to be pushed on Friday morning. This has now been pushed back to Monday morning.

In this post I will run through the votes counted so far (which is most of them) and the possible role of preferences in deciding the final three seats.

This post was originally going to start with an analysis of the votes counted so far and what is left to count. In this regard I built a small model which factored in how many of the votes in the ‘others’ pile had been counted and what was left in that pile, effectively allowing you to match up the two counts and simulate a much higher proportion of the vote counted. That model was in part inspired by the good work being done by Ross Leedham on Twitter. He has been diligently updating his model more regularly to give us a sense of the votes reporting each day.

But so much vote-counting took place across Wednesday that we are now pretty close to the end. Over 90% of the counting has finished in 81 out of 93 seats, with the lowest vote-count being 79% in Newcastle. So at this point I think we might as well just look at the real figures for the check count. These are as of 10pm on Wednesday night.

Group Percent Quotas
Liberal/Nationals 35.21% 7.7461
Labor 29.59% 6.5090
Greens 9.57% 2.1058
One Nation 6.92% 1.5226
Shooters, Fishers & Farmers 5.52% 1.2137
Christian Democratic Party 2.29% 0.5029
Liberal Democrats 2.15% 0.4731
Animal Justice 1.91% 0.4198
Keep Sydney Open 1.77% 0.3895
Sustainable Australia 1.45% 0.3183
Voluntary Euthanasia 1.06% 0.2341
Small Business 0.67% 0.1477
Conservatives 0.59% 0.1300
Flux 0.37% 0.0804
Socialist Alliance 0.31% 0.0687
Buckingham 0.27% 0.0587
Osborne 0.15% 0.0327
Advance 0.09% 0.0192
Jansson 0.07% 0.0160

So it’s pretty clear the first eighteen seats have been decided, largely as we expected the day after the election. None of the parties who were lumped in the ‘others’ pile polled well enough to be assured of a seat before the distribution of preferences.

The Coalition has held eight seats, down from eleven, despite not quite making eight quotas on primary votes.

Labor has won six seats, up from their existing five. The Greens have retained two, while One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have each won one.

Then there are three seats in play, with the following parties sitting around roughly half a quota competing for these seats:

  • One Nation #2 – 0.5226
  • Labor #7 – 0.5090
  • Christian Democratic – 0.5029
  • Liberal Democrats – 0.4731
  • Animal Justice – 0.4198
  • Keep Sydney Open – 0.3895

This is where preferences come into play, and things become much more difficult to predict.

Antony Green tweeted this morning that there appears to have been a big increase in how many people are marking preferences on their upper house ballots:

The NSWEC divides votes into three categories: Single Above the Line (SATL) votes which just give a ‘1’ above the line, Random Above the Line (RATL) votes which have multiple preferences above the line, plus Below the Line (BTL) votes. The number of RATL votes has doubled from 15% to 28%, while there has been a 50% increase in BTL votes from 1.8% to 2.7%. This means that over 30% of voters have marked preferences, up from less than 20% in 2015.

This means that candidates will need a vote closer to a quota to win a seat, and gives a better chance for trailing candidates to catch up.

One Nation, Labor and the Christian Democratic Party are clearly the frontrunners for these last three seats. The Liberal Democrats are not far behind, so if they do well on preferences they could catch one of the others (likely the CDP). I don’t have a great deal of information on whether the LDP or CDP is in a stronger position to win.

It seems likely that preferences will flow more strongly amongst progressive voters, whose parties largely cooperated on preferences. This suggests Labor should be in a good position to win.

Animal Justice and Keep Sydney Open are outside chances, but I wouldn’t rule out one of them winning. They both swapped preferences with each other, and received preferences from the Greens and Sustainable Australia. These four parties have about 1.2 quotas left over. Yet many voters for these parties would have cast a vote without the aid of a how-to-vote, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of these preferences instead flow to Labor.

We will find out the results on Monday morning, and I’ll be sure to be back with more analysis after that result.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!


  1. Sustainable Australia, the Greens and Animal Justice are next to each other at one end of the ballot paper. Keep Sydney Open is at the other end with Labor in-between the two. Lots of Green voters would have got how-to-votes, Animal Justice and Sustainable Australia less so. For that reason Keep Sydney Open will struggle to do better on preferences than Animal Justice.

    Australian Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats are close together at one end of the ballot paper, and the Conservatives put the Christian Democrats 2 on how-to-votes. Interesting to see how that plays out. And will the SFF surplus matter from the other end of the ballot paper?

  2. There is also the Small Business Party and Voluntary Euthanasia located near LDP on the ballot paper. LD will have appeal to segments of these voters – certainly more than CDP will – so I would expect LD overtake CD on preferences, provided they don’t fall too much further behind on late counting. I think Leyonhjelm’s bigger challenge will be to stay ahead of Animal Justice with the ‘avalanche’ of preferences unleashed by the Greens and Sustainable Australia who are right next to them on the ballot as Antony Green notes above. I would think AJP are now firm favourites for the final seat.

  3. If the 15-20% of voters who put in preferences follow the HTV’s then AJP might just head the LDP on the current count but that’s about as far as they can get. Most likely Labor, One Nation’s 2nd and Christian Democrats to fill the last three spots.
    One interesting part of the count was that Labor’s percentage vote unexpectedly rose slightly during the latter part of the count comprising mostly of rural divisions. Maybe the reason for that was because the smaller progressive parties didn’t poll very well in the bush to Labor’s gain.

  4. 30%? How about 100%. What a pity NSW dosn’t still have GVT’s. Were that the case One Nation definitely would not have elected a 2nd, the small progressives would have elected one of their’s, and probably Labor would have still got their 7th.

  5. Or the other right-wing parties’ preferences would have elected One Nation. Let’s just wait and see the results when they come through on Monday, but you look pretty silly for defending such a corrupt and undemocratic system.

  6. One Nation has been on the outer in ‘preferenceland’ since they ratted in 2013. Their only potential source of GVT preferences might have been the Australian Conservatives.
    That corrupt and undemocratic system also kept One Nation out of the Federal Senate because Labor and Liberal preferences were denied them. Now large numbers of major party voters are free to give One Nation their second preferences. And they did. Hence their success at the double dissolution. So you can have your ideal democratic system which favours Hansonites and loses Green Senators. I prefer one which requires One nation to achieve a quota on their own and allows Labor and Green votes to be combined without loss.

Comments are closed.