- Gary Humphries (LIB)
- Kate Lundy (ALP)
The Australian Capital Territory first elected Senators in 1975 at the election following the dismissal of the Whitlam government. At the first election, the Liberal Party and the ALP each won one seat each. The 1975 election was the only time that the Liberal Party outpolled the ALP. It is the only time the Liberals won over 40% (43.6%) and the only time the ALP won under 40% (37%). The first election also saw former Liberal Prime Minister and Victorian MP John Gorton poll over 11% as an independent.
At the first election, the Liberals elected John Knight while the ALP elected Susan Ryan. In the last three decades, these two parties have consistently split the two Senate seats between them, and in that time only six people, three Liberals and three Labor senators, have served in the ACT.
The 1983 election saw the ALP poll over 50% for the second and last time, reaching a record 55.3%. The same election was the first time that the Liberals ran Margaret Reid, who had taken office in 1981 after the death of John Knight. In 1988, Susan Ryan was succeeded by former ALP National Secretary Bob McMullan.
There have been a number of elections where minor parties have tried to break through and defeat the Liberal candidate. The first real shot came in 1990, when the Democrats polled 17.6% on primary votes, compared to 35.9% for the Liberals. Once you factor in preferences from the ALP, Nuclear Disarmament Party and the Greens, the Democrats get to over 29%, less than 4% away from winning the seat off the Liberals.
In 1993 the Democrats vote collapsed to 6.9%, although most of the vote went to the ALP and Greens, with the Liberal vote only rising slightly. In 1996 Bob McMullan moved into the House of Representatives and Kate Lundy was elected for the ALP. In 1998, the Democrats recovered to 16.7% and the Liberals fell below a quota on primary votes for the first time since 1984. This was partly due to the presence of One Nation, who polled almost 5%. Their preferences protected the Liberal candidate.
Reid resigned in 2003 and the Liberal Party chose former Chief Minister Gary Humphries to succeed her. In 2004, the Greens increased their vote from 5.3% to 16.4%, as the Democrats vote collapsed to 2.1%. While this was an impressive result for a minor party, a swing from the ALP to the Liberals made Humphries’ seat safe on a 37.9% primary vote.
In 2007, the Greens ran former MLA Kerrie Tucker for a second time in an attempt to defeat Humphries. She polled 21.5%. In 2010, the Greens made another attempt, running Lyn Hatfield-Dodds. She managed 22.9%, but failed to win the seat.
Labor candidate Kate Lundy easily reached quota on primary votes. While the total Liberal vote exceeded a quota, some of these votes were primary votes for the second Liberal candidate, and it required a few rounds of counting before Humphries passed a quota.
At the final count, the candidates remaining were:
- Humphries (LIB) – 1.0008 quotas
- Greens candidates – 0.6966
- Mathews (ALP) – 0.2143
- Democrats candidates – 0.0530
- Glynn (IND) – 0.0350
Adding up votes for the Greens, Democrats and Labor candidates gives a figure of 0.9639 quotas. This suggests a swing of just over .03 quotas (or 1.33%) from right to left would give the seat to the Greens.
- A – Marcus Fillinger – Animal Justice
- B – Steven Bailey – Katter’s Australian Party
- C – Simon Sheikh – Australian Greens
- D – Mark O’Connor – Stable Population Party
- E – Chris Bucknell – Bullet Train For Australia
- F – Paul Cubitt – Drug Law Reform
- G – Deborah Avery – Sex Party
- H – Irwin Ross – Rise Up Australia
- I – Philip Nitschke – Voluntary Euthanasia Party
- J – Wayne Slattery – Palmer United Party
- K – Zed Seselja – Liberal
- L – Kate Lundy – Australian Labor Party
- M – Anthony Sernie – Australian Independents
- Emmanuel Ezekiel-Hart
The ACT Senate seat has long been a key target for the Greens. The higher quota makes it much more of a difficult task, but the Greens have always done particularly strongly in the ACT.
The Greens need to win votes off the Liberal Party to win. Labor’s surplus flows to the Greens as preferences, so winning votes off Labor doesn’t help.
The current political environment suggests the Liberal Party should be strengthening their position across the country. The Liberals (led by Seselja) gained ground at the ACT election last October, and the Greens lost a lot of ground.
On the other hand, the Humphries-Seselja was a very messy fight, and Tony Abbott’s agenda may not go down well in Canberra. Simon Sheikh is a strong candidate, and could produce a result that bucks the national trend.