The State of the Senate


Remarkably, the result in the Senate is much more clear-cut than the result in the House of Representatives.

The Greens are on track to win a Senate seat in all six states, giving them a total of nine seats. This clean sweep is a feat never achieved by the Democratic Labor Party or the Democrats, the only ever minor parties to ever win substantial numbers of Senate seats.

The Democrats achieved their best ever Senate result in 1996, when they won five Senate seats, electing a Senator in all mainland states, but losing to Bob Brown in Tasmania. The Democrats also reached their peak number of senators after the 1998 election, when they elected four senators to join the five elected in 1996, giving them a total of nine. The Greens have now matched that total.

The Greens polled over a quota in both Tasmania and Victoria. In Victoria, the Greens polled just over a quota, but in Tasmania the Greens polled over 20%, and the second Green reaches almost half a quota before being excluded.

In terms of other minor parties, it is less clear. In South Australia, Family First candidate Bob Day trails the Liberal Party by 0.45% at the key exclusion point, and earlier in the night was in a position to win the seat. If Family First can gain ground, they will likely win the final seat on Liberal preferences, but it seems most likely the Liberal Party will win the seat.

In Victoria, Antony Green’s Senate calculator is currently giving the final seat to John Madigan of the Democratic Labor Party. The DLP polled over 2% of the primary vote, and gathers preferences until, at the key point, the DLP overtakes sitting Liberal Senator Julian McGauran and wins the seat on Liberal preferences.

Having said that, at an earlier point, Madigan only outpolls Family First Senator Steve Fielding by 0.07% of the vote, and if Family First was to overtake Madigan at that point, Fielding would likely be re-elected. At the point where Madigan overtakes McGauran, he only does so by 0.66%. It is possible McGauran could win the seat.

In the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, the result was the same: three Coalition, two Labor, and one Green. In Tasmania, the ALP has managed to win three seats, to two for the Liberal Party and one for the Greens. In Victoria, the ALP has gained two seats, the Liberals one, the Nationals one and the Greens one, with the final spot going to the DLP, Family First or the Liberals.

Overall this produces a result of 34-35 Coalition, 31 Labor, 9 Greens, as well as Nick Xenophon and possibly Steve Fielding or the DLP’s John Madigan. Regardless of who wins the final seat, the Greens will have sole balance of power, with Xenophon and any other minor party senators unable to influence legislation.

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


  1. I think one of the major parties will end up winning the final spot in Victoria once the absent and postal votes are counted – but it will be very close, and any of the Libs, ALP, DLP and Family First could win from here. The DLP have done really well with their preference negotiations (like they did in the 2006 state election) .

  2. Because Lin Hatfield Dodds didn’t quite get the ACT seat the performance of the Green vote in the ACT has been overlooked: over 23% in the Senate (higher than Tasmania), with the Reps vote starting to close the gap that used to exist between the Senate and Reps.
    Canberra Greens vote 18% and nearly 20% in Fraser. This along with strong community volunteering in the campaign provides a solid base for the future.

  3. Polly Morgan says: The DLP have done really well with their preference negotiations (like they did in the 2006 state election)

    Thanks Polly. I took a bit of flak but it looks like it worked out for us.

  4. I note that of all the states, NSW had the lowest Green vote in both the House of Reps and the Senate. Some people here may not like me saying this, especially after what was still an excellent result, but I think the NSW Greens need to take a good look at themselves and work out why a state with some of the most progressive and ‘Green friendly’ electorates would deliver a lower vote than traditionally far more conservative states such as QLD and SA (and why the Green vote grew far slower in NSW than in other states compared to ’07).

    Just anecdotal I realise, but quite a few people said to me at the polling booths that they would vote for the Greens in any other state but in NSW and they thought the NSW Greens were too far to the left/too adversarial etc.

    This may be something that the NSW Greens want to hold onto, but regardless of what they choose, this does need to be examined.

  5. Queensland and NSW are the most difficult states for the Greens due to the conservatism of the former and the sheer size of the latter. I think Lee Rhiannon was a tough sell to the NSW public because she is unapologetic in demanding progressive outcomes in policy but she is also the person the Greens need to stop them from following the Democrats down the route of compromise of core principles.

    If the Greens keep on the course of offering a quality alternative to Labor and the Coalition, then with stronger development of their policies that would be possible with an independent budgetary office and with increased staff and resources, it’s likely that the support base will grow.

    A lot of people voted Green for the first time this election, but quite a bit was in protest. The tough part now is to retain that vote. I think the way to do that is to consolidate it by building a stronger membership base and strengthening presence in local councils.

Comments are closed.