WA 2021 – the state of the upper house (part one)


In this post I run through the current state of the estimated preference distributions for four of the six upper house regions. I’ve run out of time to analyse the last two (South Metropolitan and South West) before my podcast recording timeslot so I will return to those tonight.

There are a number of moments in each count where a slight shift in the vote could change the result. Australian Christians candidates are in with a chance of knocking out the Liberal in two races, while a Daylight Saving Party candidate who is coming second-last on primary votes is able to multiply his vote by 77 times over and come close to defeating the Shooters.

But through it all, the 22 seats won by Labor are rock solid, and I’ve found at least one seat where Labor have a chance of winning a seat where Legalise Cannabis is currently leading.


This region is currently represented by two Nationals, two Labor, one Liberal, one Shooter.

Labor has almost three quotas and the Nationals have just over two, and it’s hard to see the vote shifting enough to change those. So those two parties will win five seats without anything left over. That’s a gain for Labor.

The Liberal Party is on 0.85 quotas for the sixth seat, followed by the Shooters on 0.33, the Greens on 0.20 and One Nation on 0.15. It’s hard to see anyone other than the Liberal winning the final seat.

Health Australia were the favoured microparty, and preferences push them up from 0.0153 quotas to 0.1346 quotas.

On the latest figures they are knocked out just seven votes behind Legalise Cannabis, who benefit from Health Australia and Greens preferences but are then knocked out in favour of the Shooters. Shooters preferences then help One Nation before Legalise Cannabis preferences elect the Liberal candidate over One Nation.

I did wonder if Health Australia could win if they got ahead of Legalise Cannabis, but they end up stuck in the same position. They gain Legalise Cannabis and Greens preferences but end up stranded, with their preferences electing the Liberal over One Nation.

East Metropolitan

This region is currently represented by three Labor, one Liberal, one Greens, and one Western Australia Party (ex-One Nation).

Labor is currently sitting on a massive 4.52 quotas, or 64.7%. The Liberal Party are second, on 0.9 quotas. So that’s five seats which are basically decided.

The sixth seat looks likely to go to Legalise Cannabis or Labor.

The ABC calculator is currently giving the last seat to Legalise Cannabis, who are fourth on primary votes with 0.22 quotas, behind the Greens on 0.47 quotas. The Australian Christians are in fifth place on 0.21 quotas. The microparty alliance prioritised the Western Australia Party, who start out on 0.07 quotas (ninth place).

The Western Australia Party, Legalise Cannabis and Australian Christians all do well out of preferences, surviving to the last six candidates in the race, along with the first Liberal and Greens candidates and the fifth Labor candidate: Australian Christians on 0.57 quotas, Legalise Cannabis on 0.27 and WAP on 0.26.

Legalise Cannabis hasn’t actually gained that much on preferences up until this point, but most WAP preferences go to them, pushing Legalise Cannabis up to 0.50 quotas, ahead of the Greens on 0.47. Greens preferences then flow to Legalise Cannabis, taking them to 0.97 quotas. Labor’s large surplus then elects Legalise Cannabis, with that surplus then splitting roughly evenly between the Liberal and Australian Christians, electing the Liberal.

But if I move 0.08% from Legalise Cannabis to WAP you get an entirely different result. Legalise Cannabis preferences flow to WAP, and the Greens still get knocked out. But Greens preferences then push Labor close to a quota, and then Labor is elected on WAP preferences. In this scenario, the final margin between the Liberal and Australian Christians halves from 0.15 quotas to 0.07 quotas.

For the Greens to win, they’d need to overtake Labor, who are about 0.9% ahead of them at the moment. That seems like a difficult thing to achieve.

Mining and Pastoral

The Mining and Pastoral region is currently represented by two Labor, one Nationals, one Liberal, one Green and one One Nation MLC.

Labor will win four seats, with the last two seats in play, with one seat going to the Liberal or Nationals candidate, and the other a contest between the Shooters and the Daylight Saving Party.

Labor is currently on 4.03 quotas, with the Nationals trailing on 0.71 quotas and the Liberal Party on 0.65. They are followed by the Greens on 0.33 quotas, and the Shooters on 0.27. It’s also worth paying attention to the Daylight Saving Party, sitting in second-last place on 0.0119 quotas.

The Daylight Saving Party keeps accumulating preferences, as do the Shooters (although less dramatically) until there are just four parties left for the last two seats. Daylight Saving is on 0.9202 quotas (77 times their original vote), followed by the Nationals on 0.73, the Shooters on 0.7 and the Liberal candidate on 0.65. That means the Liberals have gained no preferences and the Nationals have gained very few.

Liberal preferences then elect the Nationals and the National surplus flows almost entirely to the Shooters, who win by a margin of 0.07 quotas.

A swing of 0.35% from the Shooters to the Liberal candidate would knock out the Shooter, and Shooters preferences would then elect the Liberal and the Daylight Saving candidate, with the Nationals missing out.

It’s also worth noting that Daylight Saving currently only has 33 votes, with the Kelly ticket in last place on 24 votes. If DSP falls into last place they can’t win (barring the possibility of preference leakage from the bigger parties).

North Metropolitan

This region is currently represented by three Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

Labor is currently leading on 3.99 quotas, with the Liberal Party trailing on 1.63 quotas, and the Greens on 0.58. No-one is above 0.2 quotas. Keep an eye on Liberals for Climate, on 0.029 quotas.

After electing the first Liberal and the first four Labor candidates, the last seat comes down to a race between the Liberal (0.63 quotas), Greens (0.58), Australian Christians (0.3992) and Liberals for Climate (0.3851). Microparty preferences were focused on the two smaller parties, with the Liberal and Greens candidates starved of preferences.

Liberals for Climate are eliminated, with their preferences split between the Greens and the Australian Christians. Australian Christians fall just 0.02 quotas short of the Liberal, and their preferences then elect the Liberal.

If the Christians could close that gap, they would win the last seat.

I can’t see the Greens winning. They don’t have any progressive allies to help them out, and Labor is on exactly four quotas, so the combined Labor/Greens vote would have to increase by about 0.4 quotas for the Greens to win.

I also wondered whether Liberals for Climate could win if they could close the small gap with the Australian Christians, but it doesn’t work out. Australian Christians preferences flow to the Liberal Party, and they still win the last seat.

The other two regions

That’s it for now. I’ve got a podcast to record. I’ll return to analyse the other two regions when I get a chance.

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  1. Who would have thought Labor would win 22 Upper House Seats. 3 in the Agriculture is unheard off. If Labor wins 2 it is a great result – let alone 3 seats. What a strange, strange election

  2. South Metro might get funky. The main choke point seems to be between NMV and Legalise Cannabis (sixth and seventh on 2.72%, literally THREE VOTES separate them at the moment); NMV go out first, their prefs go to the Christians; then LC (along with AJP) goes to the Greens, who go on to win with Labor’s surplus.

    Swap NMV and LC: If LC go out first, their 0.2 quotas pushes NMV above 5%, and then remains bound up with the microparty blob instead of the Greens. NMV also gets prefs from LDP and Christians, so they would end up with about 0.86 quotas; then the Liberal surplus (as well as Labor) saves the day for the Greens. At least, unless that doesn’t create any other choke points.


  3. Who knows, it would come down to BTL voters, wouldn’t it? Can I ask how well the cannabis party usually do on BTL votes? I’m having a feeling of deja vu about them being predicted to win, but then losing when it came down to BTL voters? I’m a left-wing voter who votes below the line, and I would never dream of preferencing them ahead of Labor and the Greens.

  4. An ALP majority, particularly such a desertion resistant one, is the least likely way to get GTV scrapped. The ALP has a tendency to prefer keeping GTV for several reasons:

    1. GTV is bad for the Greens because it is bad for a party of their size, and a lot of the ALP loath the Greens and/or don`t want the ALP enacting the sort of legislation and regulations that an ALP+Greens majority allows/favours.

    2. The ALP has some of the strongest vanguard-collectivism tendencies among Australian political parties and GTV seems to appeal to those.

    3. The ALP introduced GTV everywhere it has been applied, usually as part of a package of reforms that have mostly stood the test of time.

    4. The ALP has only even scrapped GTV in half-Legislative Council statewide single electorates (NSW and SA), where it was an even bigger problem.

  5. @Tom

    However this Labor super-majority will surely be looking to enact reforms of some kind, at least to end the malapportionment of Perth vs not-Perth.

    I would expect they would change the vacancies per electorate to an odd number as well.

    While doing those things they might be compelled to abolish GVTs as well. Especially if the Daylight Savings Party makes an absolute mockery of the current GVT system by winning in Mining and Pastoral I think the obviousness that Labor should change the rules will be unstoppable.

  6. https://www.tallyroom.com.au/41242#comment-752169

    I suspect that the Perth versus Agricultural and South West malapportionment will be severely cut or even scrapped. The ALP are in a better position in Mining and Pastoral and may cut not much there.

    Vacancy number reform is an option. Whether or not they will do it I am not sure. It could be a way of reducing malapportionment with less dramatic change to the number and structure of the regions.

    It will take more than a couple of Drury appointments to the WA LC to force the ALP to scrap GTV.

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