NSW 2011: unpacking the Legislative Council count


This is the first of two blog posts I will write tonight on the Legislative Council result. The second will focus on the spin and analysis around the count.

Today’s result in the legislative Council count couldn’t have been any closer. The final two seats went to the Greens’ Jeremy Buckingham and the Nationals’ Sarah Johnston by the smallest of margins, edging out independent Pauline Hanson, despite Hanson’s substantial lead on primary votes.

The count began by electing seventeen candidates from the parties that had polled over a quota: 10 Coalition candidates, 5 Labor candidates and 2 Greens candidates. Following this, 278 candidates who were either ungrouped or a candidate in an unwinnable position were excluded without a significant shift in the count.

After count 296, only one candidate remained from each of the 16 groups with candidates above the line. The key preference distributions that decided the result happened after that point.

The following chart shows the vote for the three candidates in the race for the final two seat. It ignores the CDP’s Paul Green and the Shooters and Fishers’ Robert Brown, who had not polled a quota but were polling well above Hanson, Buckingham and Johnston.

Votes at counts 296-308 for key candidates Jeremy Buckingham (green), Sarah Johnston (blue), Pauline Hanson (purple), showing the count as the last candidate of each party is excluded.

At count 296, Hanson was 9720 votes ahead of Johnston, and 16592 votes ahead of Buckingham. At every point of the count Buckingham and Johnston gained more preferences than Hanson, with a few candidates playing a key role.

The Greens gained boosts from the exclusion of Socialist Alliance candidate Peter Boyle (1609 vote net gain on Hanson), Democrats’ Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (3074 votes) the ALP’s Andrew Ferguson (3580) and independent John Hatton (3983). Johnston particularly gained votes from the Democrats, No Parking Meters and the Fishing Party, but were gaining votes slower than Hanson.

When John Hatton was excluded, Buckingham overtook Johnston. When Gordon Moyes of Family First was the only candidate remaining, the vote was:

  • Hanson – 102,466 votes
  • Buckingham – 102,276
  • Johnston – 101,183
  • Moyes – 64,738

While a vast majority of Moyes’ votes exhausted (52,101 votes) and over 4000 went to the Christian Democratic Party, Moyes’ preferences allowed both Buckingham and Johnston to jump over Hanson, leaving the final figures:

  • Buckingham – 105,472
  • Johnston – 104,341
  • Hanson – 103,035

At this point Hanson was excluded, leaving four candidates for the four remaining seats.

Attached is the table of the preference distribution, beginning with the exclusion of “Restore the Workers’ Rights Party”.

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  1. ‘Today’s result in the legislative Council count couldn’t have been any closer’

    Well clearly it could have been Ben, but I will try to excuse the hyperbole given that it was in the end extremely close for that extra Green’s spot. Closer even than Jamie in Balmain in some ways.

    How crazy that Family First preferences should be so important in the end?!

  2. Aside from that, thanks for the nice, clear chart and for breaking down the numbers, Ben. Interesting that the only bump Hanson got in the preference distribution came when Hatton was excluded – voters who just like not to vote for a labelled party?

  3. “While a vast majority of Moyes’ votes exhausted (52,101 votes) and over 4000 went to the Christian Democratic Party, Moyes’ preferences allowed both Buckingham and Johnston to jump over Hanson”

    Were they necessarily ballots that voted 1 for Moyes? Over 4000 votes went to Moyes via preferences and slightly more went from Moyes to Jeremy.

  4. Leaving names of the ballot paper above the line, and in some states forcing electors to have a preference for those they do not know or infact oppose belittles our democratic process, what are the figures for missing postal ballots, in valid ballots and names missing of the roll etc?

  5. When we study honest democracy it should not include leaving names if the ballot papers, the demand for Preferencing those we do not know or in fact oppose, it should also include an honest counting system, I would like to see the figures relating to missing postal ballots, multiple voting, names missing of the rolls and invalid votes, bet the number is approaching some 400,000 in NSW, and this is a transparent system of democracy, I think not

  6. Where were these sets of figures published?
    I checked the VTR page of the NSW Electoral Commission and found nothing showing them. Are they on some sort of secure page that only the chosen few can log into?
    Talk about an insider-outsider split.

  7. Nice clear outline Ben.

    It is ironic in some ways that Family First votes helped elect a Green, although as John Ky noted, a chunk of these would presumably have been number 1 votes for other parties who had been excluded earlier, but none the less they are people that chose to number FF and then Green ahead of the Libs or Hanson.

    Having said that, Gordon Moyes moved to Family First from Fred Nile’s mob because he had the ethics to stand against the strident anti-Muslim bigotry of Fred Nile, so I think it is perfectly apt that more of voters preferred the Greens to Pauline Hanson.

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