Senate count update – one state left in play


The Senate count has been progressing for a week now and I thought it was about time to give an update (my previous post on the Senate is here). What is remarkable is how clear the count is. There appears to only be one state where seats are in serious doubt: the last three seats in Queensland are being contested by four parties. Every other state is reasonably clear, so I thought I would run through these contests, touching on the below-the-line campaigns for Lisa Singh and Jim Molan.

This is a big shift compared to the old voting system, where there were many complex exclusion points and seats in play in pretty much every state. It’s also a change from 2016, where the larger number of seats to be elected and the lower quota created more opportunities for close races.

If my estimates of the seat count are correct, this is how the total number of seats in the new Senate currently looks:

  • 34 – LNP
  • 26 – ALP
  • 8 – GRN
  • 1 – ON
  • 2 – CA
  • 1 – CON
  • 1 – Lambie

This leaves three seats in Queensland to be contested between the LNP, ALP, Greens and One Nation. If Labor and the Greens both win, it will create a situation where Labor, Greens and Centre Alliance form a blocking majority, or a full majority with Jacqui Lambie. If the LNP and One Nation both win, the LNP, One Nation and the Conservatives will hold half the seats, with Lambie or Centre Alliance having the votes to give them a majority.

Either way, Centre Alliance and Lambie are important, but Lambie will be more important if the right win two of the remaining seats in Queensland, as this will mean her vote alone can be decisive, whereas Centre Alliance will be in a stronger position if the left wins two of the remaining seats.

I’ll run through the race in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania before coming back to Queensland. I won’t touch on Western Australia and South Australia – in both these states the result of 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and 1 Greens seems very clear. I also think the same outcome is pretty much locked in for New South Wales and Victoria but I’ll run through those below.

New South Wales (75.2% counted)

  • Liberal/National – 2.7169
  • Labor – 2.1149
  • Greens – 0.6019
  • One Nation – 0.3471

Since last week the Liberal/National position has strengthened, while the Greens have weakened, but there is no real prospect of the Greens being overtaken. There are more preferences from small right-wing parties but the Greens should still benefit from preferences from the Labor surplus and HEMP, Animal Justice and ICAN, as well as smaller parties.

The other point of interest in New South Wales is how Jim Molan is doing with his below-the-line campaign as the #4 candidate on the Liberal/National ticket. It is hard to be sure about this count because most votes remain “unapportioned” – as in the AEC is yet to distinguish between above-the-line and below-the-line votes.

But there is a sample of about 13,000 votes for the Coalition in booths where every vote has been apportioned and some of these votes are below-the-line. In this sample Jim Molan has 1108 votes, or 8.5% of the total Coalition vote. This probably exaggerates slightly, but even still if it was extrapolated to the whole state it would mean that Molan would be sitting on about 0.23 of a quota, with the #3 candidate Perin Davey on about 0.48 of a quota. Bear in mind that Davey would be able to accumulate above-the-line preferences while Molan would not. There’s no way Molan would come close in this scenario.

Victoria (71.8% counted)

  • Liberal/National – 2.5372
  • Labor – 2.2263
  • Greens – 0.6963
  • Derryn Hinch – 0.1977
  • One Nation – 0.1970
  • DLP – 0.1766
  • United Australia – 0.1761

Since last weekend the Liberal/National position has solidified. The Greens have gone backwards, but should still be fine. Hinch will have a lot of trouble coming first out of the group of minor parties and even then won’t have anyone to help him with preferences.

Tasmania (76.0% counted)

  • Labor – 2.2074
  • Liberal – 2.1670
  • Greens – 0.8768
  • Jacqui Lambie – 0.6128
  • One Nation – 0.2456

The first five seats are entirely locked and I can’t see anyone challenging Jacqui Lambie for the final seat.

Lisa Singh is doing better than Jim Molan but doesn’t appear to have a chance. She is polling 16.7% of the total Labor vote in booths where votes have been fully apportioned. This would translate to about 0.37 of a quota, leaving the second Labor candidate with over 0.8 of a quota. This would knock third Labor candidate John Short out of the race right away but there just aren’t enough Labor votes for her to win. Bear in mind that Singh can’t gain any above-the-line preferences until #2 candidate Bilyk is elected, so she will be seriously hindered in the race for preferences, and will likely be overtaken by One Nation.

Queensland (71.7% counted)

  • Liberal National – 2.7646
  • Labor – 1.6038
  • Greens – 0.6809
  • One Nation – 0.7211
  • United Australia – 0.2408

Since my last update the LNP and One Nation have strengthened their positions while Labor and the Greens have weakened.

Ross Leedham on Twitter has been tracking this race closely, and in this tweet below estimated that the Greens and Labor’s final primary vote position will weaken further once the remaining votes are counted.

I won’t dive into the detailed preference projections but Kevin Bonham and Ross have both done analysis on this topic. One Nation in particular did quite well from preferences in 2016. Overall there are a lot more votes for minor parties of the right than of the left. Considering that the LNP and One Nation are leading in the race, this suggests they are likely to win these seats, with the Greens and Labor’s second candidate competing for the final seat.

If Labor ends up missing out in this seat, Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance, One Nation and the Australian Conservatives will end up with the same number of seats as they held before the election. Fraser Anning, Brian Burston (UAP), Derryn Hinch, Duncan Spender (LDP) and Tim Storer (who chose to retire) will have all lost their seats, with the Coalition gaining four seats plus Lambie. Most of those departing crossbenchers were relatively right-wing, so it doesn’t massively shift the balance of the Senate, but effectivly Hinch and Storer have been replaced with Lambie and a Liberal in the centre of the Senate, which probably does strengthen the government’s Senate position.

Update: Kevin Bonham has also published a post about the Queensland count.

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  1. I f Jacqui Lambie will hold the balance of power, I ‘m a bit worried after her last newsletter, where she was scathing about Morrison.It seems she dislikes him.That fact might stop her from voting for any good legislation coming through from the Lower House. I have always admired her gutsy love for Tasmania and hope that she will vote for any good legislation, despite how she feels about the PM.

  2. Annie Mac – Many MP’s not only dislike their opponents but also competition within their party too. Senate elect Jackie Lambie will vote for what is good for Tasmania, which is a Senator job, and the voters in that state know it and that is why they elected her.

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