Group voting tickets released – a story of three blocs


The group voting tickets for the Victorian Legislative Council were lodged yesterday. With a record 22 separate groups running statewide and ballot papers spilling onto a second row, there appears to be three broad groupings, with some breakdown in the minor party alliances of the last decade.

Firstly, you can view the tickets yourself. The VEC has published them in a way that allows you to see what the ballot looks like, but Antony Green has published them in a more user-friendly format.

For today’s post I’ve gone through all of the tickets, identifying where the Greens, Labor and Coalition candidates rank on the ticket, as well as identifying the first three parties on each party’s ticket and the ranking of some of the minor parties who appear well placed in each region.

At the last two elections, particularly in 2018, there has been an alliance of minor parties which have pursued a strategy of blockading preferences from Labor, the Greens and the Coalition, and directing preferences to one or two parties in a particular region, with other parties being repaid elsewhere. But that has broken down this time.

While such an alliance has emerged again this year, there is a smaller left bloc of parties who have preferenced each other and the ALP and Greens, and another bloc of parties on the right who have preferenced the Coalition highly and seem to have only engaged in more simple preference swaps, often being willing to give preferences to parties in the middle alliance. That middle alliance appears to be the group organised by Glenn Druery. I will refer to it as the Alliance for the rest of this post.

Finally, it looks like the Animal Justice Party has double-crossed the Alliance, gaining strong preferences in two regions but not reciprocating, which may explain this story:

I originally thought this blog post would run through the regions one by one but to be honest most trends apply statewide, with only exceptions for certain races. So I’m going to run through the stories of each bloc.

I’ve identified nine parties who are part of the Alliance: Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Democratic Labour, Health Australia, Liberal Democrats, New Democrats, Sack Dan Andrews, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Sustainable Australia and Transport Matters.

These parties have generally ranked the major parties and the Greens near the bottom of their ticket. The only exception is in Northern Metropolitan, where two parties gave their very next preference after themselves to the third Labor candidate Susie Byers, but only Byers. The third Labor candidate could be competitive. A third party also gave Byers their next preference after the DLP.

There is one clear leading party who gains the first preference of most or all of these parties in four regions: Transport Matters in North East Metro, Democratic Labour in North Metro, Sustainable Australia in South Metro and Derryn Hinch’s Justice in Western Vic. All of these parties are running an incumbent MLC in that region. The Alliance appears to be trying to prioritise incumbents where it can, but with some surprising exceptions.

In Northern Victoria, Animal Justice gained first preferences from a majority of Alliance parties, but the more right-wing parties favoured the incumbent Liberal Democrats. Interestingly the Hinch Justice party didn’t fare too well, despite having an incumbent MLC.

In Eastern Victoria, the Alliance split between Health Australia and the incumbent Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, with many of the parties then preferencing the other of these priority parties next.

In South East Metro, Hinch Justice gained a majority of preferences, with a minority favouring the incumbent Liberal Democrats.

In Western Metropolitan, there are two incumbents who defected from their former party running. A majority of Alliance parties preferenced DLP candidate Bernie Finn, with a minority favouring the New Democrats of Kaushailya Vaghela, with most parties preferencing the DLP then going to the New Dems next.

Interestingly Sack Dan Andrews doesn’t get priority anywhere, and the New Democrats don’t get much benefit, being stuck behind the DLP.

The existing logic of preference harvesting applies, but the pool has been shrunk to a smaller group of parties, losing many of the minor parties who poll more strongly, while the Alliance has also been harmed by the loss of Animal Justice.

The AJP has instead decided to form a left bloc with Reason, Legalise Cannabis and Victorian Socialists.

These parties have preferenced the Greens above Labor in six out of eight regions (the exceptions being Eastern Victoria and Northern Victoria), but generally preference each other before going to the bigger parties. The Socialists generally put the Greens higher, and most of the parties favoured the Greens in South Metro, but otherwise make sure they stick with the smaller left parties first.

Animal Justice has been favoured in Northern Victoria and Western Victoria, with some parties putting them ahead of the Greens in South Metro. Reason have mostly been favoured in North Metro (some parties favoured the Socialists first) and have been given more of a clear run in North East Metro.

Legalise Cannabis have been put first in Eastern Victoria and South East Metro, while West Metro is a split between Legalise Cannabis and the Socialists.

Generally Labor and the Greens have prioritised whichever minor party has been prioritised by the other small parties in this left bloc.

Labor and the Greens have a consistent approach of preferencing this gang of minor parties before then going to each other. The Greens have also included Transport Matters after the small parties but before Labor in all eight regions. In four regions, Labor has inserted another party after these small left parties but before the Greens: Hinch in South East Metro and Western Vic, Transport Matters in North East Metro and the Shooters in Eastern Victoria. Three of these four cases involve incumbent crossbench MLCs.

The picture on the right is more messy. There is one other party which has chosen to preference the major parties very low, such that I briefly thought they were part of the Alliance. Angry Victorians is running incumbent MLC Catherine Cummings in West Metro, but don’t do that well on preferences. Their preferences sometimes go to Alliance priority parties, sometimes to One Nation, sometimes to Legalise Cannabis.

The other right parties, in addition to the Coalition, are Companions and Pets, United Australia, One Nation, Family First and Freedom Party. All of these parties rank the Coalition reasonably highly, but there’s no evidence of a serious effort to keep preferences within a block.

Companions and Pets go straight to the Coalition in every region. The name may be confusing, but they are founded by horse and dog breeders so are actively opposed to the animal welfare elements in the Greens and Animal Justice, who are right down the opposite end of the ballot. This is possibly the party with the name most likely to confuse, whereas most others are either too vague to mean anything or reasonably clear.

Family First and Freedom Party generally swap preferences. The United Australia Party go straight to the Coalition in most regions but there’s also evidence of them swapping with One Nation.

Overall these tickets are very complex. I have focused on a handful of preferences and the relative position of the parties who appear best placed. I think there will still be a large crossbench, but the minor party Alliance won’t be so dominant. I think parties of the right like One Nation and United Australia will suffer from a lack of preferences, while the Greens and Labor will benefit from breaking off the left minor parties from the larger alliance. The Animal Justice Party looks particularly strong in terms of preferences, but other parties in the minor left alliance could also benefit. A lot will depend on the early rounds of a count – strong preference flows don’t mean anything if you don’t last long enough to receive them.

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  1. While I vote below the line, it’s always interesting to see the group voting tickets, so that I can work out who values who. Often it’s the easiest way to work out whether it’s the Party for People or the People’s Party that is right leaning or left leaning.

    Looks like my BTL vote just got mate a little easier to work out.

  2. There’s an article on The Guardian today on AJP getting free preferences from the Druery group without returning the favour because they were in “negotiations” with them, then last minute swapped to their own ones, essentially double crossing them for the purposes of illustrating their opposition to GVTs.

    Quite a bold and daring move from AJP I gotta say.

  3. Maxim. Yes it’s true. In a lot of cases preferences are purely strategic.

    But even then, it’s sometimes telling who certain parties preference against. And if they’re willing to sell their preferences for strategy, they may be willing to sell other things.

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