Turning our eyes to the Senate


We largely overlooked the Senate count last night, in part due to the late hour at which votes started to arrive. But we now have a sizeable share of the vote counted and we can make some conclusions about likely winners.

The Senate result has been relatively encouraging for Labor and the Greens, while the non-Greens crossbench is set to be culled. The Coalition will not need as many crossbenchers to pass legislation, but the balance of power will likely remain with the same group of senators.

Votes equivalent to over 40% of the roll have now been counted in every jurisdiction except the Northern Territory.

The most likely outcome at the moment would see the Coalition with 33 seats (up two), Labor with 27 seats (up one) and the Greens steady on nine seats. One Nation looks likely to hold two seats, both in Queensland, alongside Jacqui Lambie, Cory Bernardi and two members of the Centre Alliance. One other seat in Victoria is a complete wildcard and could give the Coalition a 34th seat.

The Centre Alliance has fallen far short of success at their first Senate election since the departure of Nick Xenophon and the subsequent renaming of the party. The two sitting senators have another three years in parliament, but Skye Kakoschke-Moore will not be returning to fill the seat she vacated over citizenship issues.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party doesn’t look set to win any seats. One Nation seems likely to lose their Western Australian Senate seat and won’t regain the seat in New South Wales won by Brian Burston in 2016 before he moved over to the UAP. Malcolm Roberts does look likely to regain his seat from his successor Fraser Anning as a Queensland One Nation senator.

Jacqui Lambie looks set to win a seat in Tasmania, while Derryn Hinch’s vote has collapsed in Victoria, giving him only a slim chance of re-election.

Below the fold I’ll run through the key numbers for each state:

New South Wales (52.7% counted)

  • Liberal/National – 2.6480
  • Labor – 2.1372
  • Greens – 0.6578
  • One Nation – 0.3291

The first four seats will split evenly between the major parties. The Greens and the third Coalition candidate look likely to win the last two seats, although One Nation could potentially win if they do well off preferences.

Victoria (42.9% counted)

  • Liberal/National – 2.3814
  • Labor – 2.2659
  • Greens – 0.8195
  • One Nation – 0.1916
  • Derryn Hinch – 0.1857
  • DLP – 0.1750
  • United Australia – 0.1624

Five seats are clear: two each for Liberal and Labor, and one for the Greens.

The sixth seat is a complete unknown. The third Liberal has a lead, but this could change in later counting. Labor may have some surplus preferences but many of them will be absorbed by the Greens, so it will likely be the preferences of these minor parties which will decide that last seat.

Queensland (43.2% counted)

  • Liberal National – 2.5548
  • Labor – 1.6485
  • Greens – 0.8181
  • One Nation – 0.6917
  • United Australia – 0.2308

Four seats have been decided: two for the LNP and one each for Labor and the Greens. The final two seats appear to be a contest between the second Labor candidate, the third LNP candidate and Malcolm Roberts of One Nation.

Western Australia (53.9% counted)

  • Liberal – 2.8188
  • Labor – 1.9782
  • Greens – 0.8938
  • One Nation – 0.3746

This race seems open and shut: three Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

South Australia (57.4% counted)

  • Liberal – 2.5449
  • Labor – 2.2062
  • Greens – 0.8260
  • One Nation – 0.3207
  • United Australia – 0.2024
  • Centre Alliance – 0.1837

Three of the six South Australian senators not up for election in 2019 belong to political parties which between them polled just over 4% of the total statewide vote.

The first five seats are locked in: two Liberals, two Labor and one Green. The final seat is open, with the Liberal Party starting from the lad.

Tasmania (62.8% counted)

  • Labor – 2.1753
  • Liberal – 2.1608
  • Greens – 0.8987
  • Jacqui Lambie – 0.6057
  • One Nation – 0.2518

Five seats are locked in here: two Labor, two Liberal, one Green. It seems likely that Jacqui Lambie will pick up the final seat.

ACT (50.2% counted)

  • Labor – 1.1898
  • Liberal – 0.8924
  • Greens – 0.5896
  • Pesec – 0.1597

Labor has retained their seat. The Liberals are on a similar vote total as they were in 2016, but the Greens have consolidated more of the remaining vote. The Greens trail by about 0.3 quotas, which is a little bit less than the total surplus vote sitting with Labor and Pesec. It seems likely that Liberal senator Zed Seselja will win, but it could be closer than previously.

Northern Territory (47.7% counted)

  • Country Liberal – 1.1171
  • Labor – 1.0833

Both seats will remain with the status quo.

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  1. Would be quite interesting to see the BTL vote rate in NSW. Will it be the Nationals’ Perin Davey (i.e. ATL vote was much too high), or will Jim Molan take it (BTL vote and preference rate was sufficient)? All assuming of course that it is a Coalition senator who snags the last spot.

  2. Yeah, go Jackie Lambie in Tasmania but don’t talk about Burka anymore. It is a pity Ricky Muir in Victoria is not in the mix with SFF. I liked his old party AMEP as I own two vintage cars. Muir was developing into a good MP too.

  3. You need to add the Palmer votes in Qld to the LNP, which will put the third LNP candidate ahead of Malcolm Roberts. The minor parties that support the Greens won’t be enough for the Greens not to have to cannibalise some of the ALP quota to make it to one quota. My best estimate is that it will run LNP, ALP, LNP, LNP, GRN and unknown. But we have no information about the effects, not just of the below the line vote, but the divergence from the HTV above the line.

  4. On top of Palmer in Qld. You have Rise Up and Anning preferencing LNP above One Nation so that pops it up another 0.15 or so.

    Bernardi’s lot did not direct preferences and did not have much booth presence. So will split evenly.

    Shooters were also not on booths so who knows. Not sure about LDP, but I think Katter goes to Hanson.

  5. Cory Bernardi and the Centre Alliance duo are all gone at the next election.

    What will they do? Surely at least 1 of them, perhaps 2, maybe all 3 – would consider doing a deal with the L-NP to join the Liberal (or National?) Parties.

    Not much National Party support in South Australia, but still.

    Of course to do this they’d need to cut a deal on ballot access, but now Malcolm Turnbull is gone, why wouldn’t Bernardi rejoin?

    Only Simon Birmingham is up for re-election in 2022 for the Liberals isn’t he? 2 seats available on the Liberal Senate ticket?

    Who will jump first?

  6. You CANNOT add the Palmer or Anning or PHON directly to the LNP. Amazingly where i was the Anning votes split 50/50 in the HoR and the other two went 1/3 to ALP. On the other hand Animal justice went 1/3 to LNP.

    OK there will be a largish share flowing LNP but not all of it.

    Looking on the site and calculating numbers with best guesses in Qld it would seem
    spots 1,2 and 3 are taken but ALP has fallen WELL short of a second quota ie 0.65 ALP against 0.82 greens. This difference will narrow as the count progresses but there are a number of mildly progressive parties which will preference the greens – Pirates, Workers party and the various ‘sustainabilty parties” where there were no HTVs handed out and voters will choose by the name. Allowing a good share of these parties plus a larger share of the Animal justice preferences will probably push the greens over the line ahead of the ALP.

    Katter will be one of the last 4 standing and when his preferences are distributed it will determine which two of labor, phon and LNP make the cut.

  7. Maverick, the only preferences the ALP got were from the Greens, and even then it splits 80/20 to the ALP/LNP. The KAP HTV preferenced PHON, but there’s not a lot there. I think you might find that the very high exhaustion rate will have an impact and the third LNP candidate may be elected on the back of a small leakage of ALP preferences. One of the interesting things from the Longman by-election was the extraordinary number of voters who put 1, 2 in the ALP/LNP and LNP/ALP boxes. With the change in Senate voting, electors are no longer tied to the decisions made by the parties.

  8. Anyone saying “all of X party will preference Y party” is just wrong.

    Close to all of the minor party voters will be voting without or ignoring the HTV card.

  9. Mark Yore You are incorrect that the only preferences ALP got were Greens. I prferenced one ALP Senator ahead of most LNP Senate candidates. Greens were last with fellow totalitarians Anning and Hanson.

  10. Let me clarify that Andrew. The only preferences according to the HTV that the ALP picked up before other finishing parties (at least in Queensland) were from the Greens. Every other HTV either exhausted, recommended no preference allocation, or stopped with the LNP, Greens or PHON before it got to Labor.

    Having said that, my guess is that the number of voters who followed the preference card for the Senate exactly will be less than 60 percent.

    And because the AEC will release the whole of the Senate data, we will have a measure of HTV fidelity that isn’t blurred by a double-dissolution election.

  11. Mark

    The thing is that most of the minors did NOT have HTVs on site so unless people had done on line searches, in MOST areas they did their own thing.

    Now if the HoR ballot is any guide a LOT or Annings and quite a few UAP and Aust Cons went to labor ahead of the LNP. I did not hang around for the senate preference count so I am not sure how it went but in HoR it was clear.

    Yes exhausted votes will be an issue. especially for the minors.

  12. looking at the actual data and making some simple assumptions ie
    1. the small climate action parties will cross preference and finally end up about 50% with the greens and 25% to the two majors (not Phon)
    2 The smaller populist anti immigration parties will mostly land with Phon
    3. The DLP and Christians will swing to Katter and then LNP but with some leakage
    4. 75% of Katter land with PHON

    The I think probably PHON will get over the line. It is going to be a very tight race between ALP and LNP for the final place and it will largely be determined by the share of UAP preferences received.

  13. Bennee. Not saying they all go, but in the case of palmer he had workers on lots of booths. Lots of how to votes got in hands. I imagine flow will be similar to palmer lower house preferences breaking the LNP’s way.

    Anning had candidates in all Qld seats. Less booths covered though.

  14. Queensland OBservor
    I aggree with you about Bernardi’s lot having no booth presence. What happened to all the Family FIrst workers?

    However with no booth workers his vote will be a mixture of random half wits (exactly the same percentage as all other candidates have) barring the top to bottom donkey voters and the bottom to top reverse donkey voters who think that they are more intelligent than donkey voters PLUS the truly committed AUstralian Conservative voters. These truly committed AC will preference LNP strongly and may well go through a circular route to get there BUT they will put ALP and Greens at bottom. I think Bernardi’s party will now burn out. HIs failure to stand in State elections will have had highly detrimental influence on party growth.

    Queensland Observer
    I was on PRE poll for three days and visited 3 other pre poll booths (Bright in Indi Redcliffe and D Bay in Petrie) NO UAP other than candidate on Deception Bay in Petrie. On election day UAP there for most of day but not enthusiastic workers. Denied they were paid but could easily have been students.

  15. Since Sunday, the LNP in the Queensland Senate count has increased to 2.64 quotas and Labor has dropped back slightly to 1.63 quotas. The Greens are on 0.74 quotas and One Nation 0.71, with the other parties below 0.25. Given that the votes for the parties out of contention lean more right than left or centre, I’d guess that One Nation and the LNP will do better out of preference distribution than the Greens and Labor. If Labor misses out on a second Queensland Senate spot and the result in Queensland is 3 LNP, 1 ALP, 1 Greens and 1 ON, this changes the numbers in the Senate in a significant way. The Coalition, One Nation and Cory Bernardi are likely to have 38 seats between them and Labor, the Greens and Centre Alliance would have 37. Jacqui Lambie would, in effect, hold the balance of power in her own right. I’m desperately hoping that someone can convince that I’m reading this incorrectly.

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