Senate – New South Wales – Australia 2013

Incumbent Senators

Term expires 2014
Term expires 2017
Doug Cameron (ALP)
John Faulkner (ALP)
Bob Carr (ALP)1 Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LIB)
Marise Payne (LIB)
Bill Heffernan (LIB)
Arthur Sinodinos (LIB)2 Fiona Nash (NAT)
Ursula Stephens (ALP) Lee Rhiannon (GRN)
John Williams (NAT)
Matt Thistlethwaite (ALP)

1Bob Carr replaced Mark Arbib on 6 March 2012 after Senator Arbib’s resignation.
2Arthur Sinodinos replaced Helen Coonan on 13 October 2011 after Helen Coonan’s resignation.

Dating back to 1951, when the Senate for the first time was entirely made up of Senators elected by proportional representation, Senate representation from New South Wales has been relatively stable. Up until 1958 the numbers remained steady with 5 ALP senators, 4 Liberal senators and 1 Country Party senator. 1958 saw the Country Party win a seat off the ALP, giving the Coalition a 6-4 majority amongst NSW senators. The ALP gained two seats in 1961, giving them a 6-4 majority. The Country Party recovered a second seat in 1964, restoring an even balance of ALP and Coalition senators. In 1970, the sitting Country Party senator was defeated, as was the Country Party senator who had filled a casual vacancy, meaning that the party lost both its seats, while the Democratic Labor Party won a NSW senate seat for the only time. The result produced a 6-4 majority for the ALP over the right-wing parties.

The 1974 double dissolution restored the 5-4-1 balance between the Labor, Liberal and Country Party, which was maintained in 1975. 1977 saw the ALP lose one of its five senate seats to the Australian Democrats. This 4-4-1-1 balance was maintained in 1980. The 1983 double dissolution saw the Liberal Party lose a seat to the ALP, seeing five ALP senators, three Liberals, and one senator each for the Democrats and National Country Party. This result produced a 6-4 majority for parties of the left for the first time 1970. The ALP and Democrats collectively maintained a majority in the NSW senate delegation for the entirety of the Labor government.

The 1984 election saw the Senate’s size increased, with New South Wales gaining an eleventh and twelfth senator. The Democrats and the National Country Party each maintained a single senator whilst the ALP gained a sixth and the Liberals a fourth. The 1987 double dissolution saw the ALP lose its sixth senator to the Nuclear Disarmament Party. The 1990 election saw the ALP and Democrats each gain a senator, at the expense of the Liberals and NDP, producing a result of 6 ALP, 3 Liberals, 2 Democrats, 1 National. This gave the ALP and Democrats an 8-4 majority. In 1993 the Democrats lost a seat, with the Nationals gaining a second senator in NSW for the first time since 1970.

In 1996, the ALP lost a senate seat to the Liberals, producing an even split between the ALP and Democrats and the Coalition. The left gained a majority again, however, in 1998, when the Nationals lost a senator to the Democrats. In 2001, Democrat Vickie Bourne was defeated by Greens candidate Kerry Nettle, maintaining a 7-5 left-right split.

The last Democrat, Aden Ridgeway, was defeated in 2004, replaced by Nationals candidate Fiona Nash, restoring a 6-6 split between the ALP and Greens and the Coalition. The 2007 election saw the ALP win a sixth senate seat at the expense of the Greens. This was the first election since 1975 to result with NSW having no minor party senators, with a 6-6 split between the ALP and the Coalition.

In 2010, the Greens won back a single Greens seat, with former state MP Lee Rhiannon moving to the Senate. The ALP lost one of their three seats to the Greens, while the Liberal Party maintained their three seats.

Since the 2010 election, Mark Arbib was replaced by former Premier Bob Carr in 2012. Helen Coonan was replaced in 2011 by Arthur Sinodinos.

Number of NSW Senators from each party after each Senate election, 1951-2010. Click to view interactive chart.
Number of NSW Senators from each party after each Senate election, 1951-2010. Click to view interactive chart.

2010 result

The Greens443,91310.69+2.260.7483
Shooters and Fishers96,6382.33+2.330.1629
Liberal Democrats95,7522.31+2.120.1614
Christian Democratic Party80,3761.94-0.030.1355
Australian Sex Party73,5531.77+1.770.1240
Family First39,1230.94+0.340.0660
Democratic Labor Party30,9390.75-0.510.0522
Australian Democrats28,3980.68-0.210.0479
One Nation23,4560.56+0.150.0395
Socialist Alliance23,3920.56+0.480.0394

The ALP and the Coalition each won two seats on first preferences.

After the elimination of most candidates, the final six candidates standing were:

  • Fiona Nash (NAT) – 0.9388 quotas
  • Lee Rhiannon (GRN) – 0.8198
  • Steve Hutchins (ALP) – 0.5762
  • Glenn Druery (LDP) – 0.3143
  • Marianne Leishman (SXP) – 0.1800
  • Jim Muirhead (SHO) – 0.1698

Preferences from the Shooters Party mostly flowed to the Coalition, electing Nash.

  • Nash (NAT) – 1.0981
  • Rhiannon (GRN) – 0.8203
  • Hutchins (ALP) – 0.5779
  • Druery (LDP) – 0.3154
  • Leishman (SXP) – 0.1867

Nash’s preferences mostly flowed to Druery.

  • Rhiannon (GRN) – 0.8340
  • Hutchins (ALP) – 0.5871
  • Druery (LDP) – 0.5767

The elimination of Druery saw a majority of his preferences flow to the Labor candidate, but enough votes flowed to the Greens to elect Lee Rhiannon. The final .09 of a quota was left undistributed.

  • Rhiannon (GRN) – 1.0065
  • Hutchins (ALP) – 0.8972
  • Druery (LDP) – 0.0936
Final rounds of NSW Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.
Final rounds of NSW Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.

The ALP is running:

  1. Bob Carr
  2. Doug Cameron
  3. Ursula Stephens

The Coalition is running:

  1. Marise Payne (LIB)
  2. John Williams (NAT)
  3. Arthur Sinodinos (LIB)

The Greens are running sitting state MP Cate Faehrmann. The DLP are running Simon McCaffrey. The Pirate Party are running Brendan Molloy. Patricia Petersen’s Australian Independents party is running Bradley Tanks. The Katter’s Australian Party is running Peter Mailler. The Christian Democratic Party is running Robyn Peebles. Family First are running Fiona Rossiter. The Stable Population Party is running William Bourke. The Palmer United Party is running Matt Adamson. The 21st Century Australia Party is running Cameron Curtis. The Animal Justice Party is running Mark Pearson. The Socialist Equality Party is running Nick Beams. The Secular Party is running Ian Bryce. The Wikileaks Party is running Kellie Tranter.

The Greens did not win in 2010 with much of a buffer. If you assume that all of the remaining LDP preferences flowed to Hutchins, the margin was only .015 quotas, or a gap of less than 10,000 votes. If you assume all of Druery’s preferences remaining flow to the Greens (which is less likely) the gap is 120,000 votes, or just over one-tenth of a quota.

This, however, is an academic discussion, because there seems to be very little chance of Labor increasing their vote in 2013 sufficient to regain their third Senate seat.

The other possible change could come if the Coalition or another conservative candidate was to win a fourth right seat at the expense of one of the Labor senators. If you add the final count for the LDP to the three quotas for the electing Coalition candidates, and add the final count at the same point for the Greens and Labor to the quotas for the two elected Labor candidates, you get the following figures:

  • Left – 3.4211 quotas
  • Right – 3.5767 quotas

If you assume no major shifts in preference allocation, it would require a swing of about 0.43 of a quota from Labor, the Greens and other left parties to the Coalition and other right parties to give the seat to a conservative candidate.

This swing is just over 6% of the vote, and equates to a shift in about 250,000 votes on the 2010 figures.

This could take place through a swing in votes from the ALP and Greens to the Liberal Party, but could also take place if parties decide to change their preferences. If a new party such as the Wikileaks Party takes voters from the centre-left bloc but gives its preferences to a party outside that ALP and the Greens, that would equate to a swing.

There is another possibility which could see the left bloc reduced to two seats without a swing to the right equivalent to 6.2%. In 2010 the ALP came close to being overtaken by Glenn Druery at the key point. If Labor’s third candidate was knocked out, and their preferences were to flow to a minor right-wing candidate ahead of the Greens, it could see the right win four out of six seats. This is the scenario that saw Steve Fielding of Family First elected in 2004. This scenario will be prevented if the Greens manage to gain direct preferences from Labor ahead of all other groups.


  1. For the Greens to have any chance here they must face a real right wing candidate. I think the ASP, liberal democrats, the wiki leaks party, and maybe the shooters will preference each other, basically denying the Greens any preferences beside those of the ALP which will not be enough this time, since all the parties on the right will most likely put the Greens last. If however the polls of 63-37 for the coalition become fact it will probably not matter who gets into the top two with the Greens.

  2. I predict the Coalition to win 3 seats (Arthur Sinidinos, John Williams and Marise Payne), Labor to win 2 seats (Bob Carr and Doug Cameron) and the Greens Cate Faerhmann should be able to defeat Labor’s Ursula Stephens.

  3. Given such heavy swings in NSW apparent, I would not at all be surprised if a minor right got the last quota with the Coalition still getting 3. I still expect 3/2/1 LNP,ALP,GRN, but with no confidence. The only confidence I have is that the Lib/Nat should get 3.

  4. This is one state where I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Coalition winning a fourth seat.
    Labor is on the nose in NSW, and I doubt that the Greens will have a vote strong enough to win without preferences, especially when a decent chunk of Sydney is in earshot of some alarmist anti-left commentators in the media (whom I won’t dignify by naming).
    The Coalition will hold its three seats, and Labor will hold two, but I tip the sixth seat to be a three-way battle between the Coalition and Labor and the Greens.

  5. Warren Grzic, on the basis that polling doesn’t change greatly from here on in and the Coalition win with about 54% of the 2PP in HoR, should the Coalition get 4 in NSW, they will be in a position to control the Senate with minor right parties without any question.

  6. DB, even if the Coalition could get support from the DLP bloke Madigan and the Independent Xenophon (who is sure to be returned in SA), it’s still some way off. To get from its current 34 to the magic 39 (including Madigan and Xenophon), the Coalition needs to win a fourth Senate seat in no less than three states. And even if Katter’s mob should win a seat in Queensland and give backing to the Coalition, in addition to Madigan and Xenophon, the Coalition will probably still come up short.

  7. Warren Grzic – disagree with that assessment and we have spent some considerable time in the Liberal Party working on this.

    Essentially, this is how I see it:
    Carry forward from 2010: 16 Coalition, 1 DLP
    NSW: 3 LNP plus 1 either LNP/minor right (Shooters, FF, DLP)
    QLD: 3 LNP plus 1 KAP
    WA: 3 LNP plus 1 NAT
    SA: 2 LNP
    VIC: 2 LNP, 1 DLP (or could be another minor right) or Lib.
    TAS: 3 LNP
    NT/ACT: 2 LNP

    That comes to 39 and does not include XEN. Of course the risks are: WA, NSW but realistically probably not anywhere else. Also an outside possibility that SA could surprise (depending on XEN preferences as I expect more than 1 quota from him) with LNP or minor right getting another quota.

    It is very much on in a landslide election.

  8. That’s probably a best case scenario for the Libs. Running current state-by-state polling through Antony Green’s 2010 senate calculator, I get the Greens just holding the last NSW seat, the Libs/Nats or FF taking the fourth WA seat from the Greens or Labor, but not by much and a right-wing party taking the fourth in QLD by an even closer margin, though that will be complicated by KAP.

    There are plenty of variables there, of course, including the obvious (how much polls change between now and September) and the less predictable (how Bob Katter does preferences, which may not be as straight-forward as perhaps some people imagine).

    Sure to be an interesting four/five months.

  9. The suggestion of multiple 4 seat wins for the dark forces….lnp is unlikely on the basis of a 55/45 split as the opinion polls show…….. this appears to be approx 3% below the quota for 4 seats. I safely predict a labor greens controlled senate after july 2014. People should be quite worried about lib – np plans to force a double dissolution

  10. Stephen Hirst and Raymond Palmer are running for the Australian Independents in New South Wales. Stephen Hirst is the older brother of Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil.

  11. Wonder what Hanson does here. She won’t win, but might she hand another minor right party a victory?

    She’d have more of an impact in Queensland IMO.

  12. Ben Raue

    The ALP/Green bloc is likely to be starved of preferences in the senate (apart from the socialist alliance and maybe the sex party). This bloc will need over 42% to return 3 left leaning senator

    Most opinion polls are currently predicting the ALP/Green won’t get 2PP of 42% in WA and Qld in the lower house, if the ALP/Green as per previous election losses another 2-3% per cent to the like of ONP, KAP, PAP, FFP, wikileak etc, the ALP will ber short of 2 quota and the green short of one. They will ve battling out for the Left second seat with little hope of getting a third seat.

    A 4th seat for the right is very likely for a minor right party in Qld and WA, unless the ALP preference deal delivers some minor right vote (and it does not backfire)

    But I agree on current polling the Liberals will get 3 seats in SA and Xen get 1 with ALP 2 that result is almost definite

  13. Still far from convinced that WA will go 4/2. Is there much of a swing going on there? More importantly, is there a big enough minor right party to overtake the ALP or Greens?

    Queensland however will probably return a Katter or Palmer person though instead of a Labor/Greens candidate.

  14. Shooters & Fishers picked up one, nearly two seats in WA at the state elections. Going on the LegCo results there, when you tote up the Nationals + 3 minor right parties, they outpolled the Greens by 20% or so. And given the way preferences flow, you could see anyone of them get up.

    Libs will get 3, Labor 2. The last seat will fall to the right, but which party there is anyone’s guess. I wouldn’t count Shooter’s & Fishers out, as they play the ticketing game as well as any.

  15. If Pauline Hanson and One Nation poll well on the primary votes, enough to beat Katter’s Party and the Christian Democrats, then their preferences would flow to Pauline enough to make her competitve with The Greens for the final Senate spot. I wouldn’t rule out her chances just yet.

  16. electionlova – I think you overestimate Hanson’s personal pull, especially in NSW. I think you’ll find that Katter Party will draw a much stronger support base, although I don’t see either one managing to be competitive against the Greens in NSW. Even with a strong flow away from Labor (less likely after the leader change, in my view – a small flow away is possible, still), I can’t see Labor failing to get a second seat outright, and a large portion of votes flowing away from Labor will go to Greens. The only way that any other party or individual wins a seat, I think, is if Katter Party manages to draw significant votes away from the Coalition, in which case I could see Katter Party snatching the final seat, with the Greens getting one off Labor.

    Realistically, I see the spread in this election mirroring that of the last election, with 3 Coalition, 2 ALP, and 1 Green.

  17. I think Ben has summarised well, albeit this has now changed a little.

    Preference flows will largely determine who gets the last Senate spot in NSW. The Greens will have a very low primary vote compared to the last election in NSW. I expect they will only get 0.55-0.58 of a quota on their primary vote. They will rely heavily on preferences from minor left and Labor to get over the line. ‘Others’ will be much higher combined than The Greens but will be largely fragmented. If Labor preference the minor right ahead of The Greens (and that might happen with someone like KAP) then I can’t see The Greens getting the last spot. I don’t think Labor can get better than 2. I don’t think One Nation will get enough given Labor and the Coalition will preference them last, but their preferences will probably flow to something like Shooters/Kap/CDP (and probably in that order).

    Personally, I still see the minor right as a bigger chance than The Greens although picking the ultimate minor right challenger is more difficult. Additionally, Labor’s preferences may be less influential in the result as they may struggle to get much above 2 full quotas in the primary vote. I expect Labor’s primary vote in the Senate to be marginally worse than in 2010.

    The last spot seems to be between the Greens and a minor right party if they preference each other. That could be Shooters, CDP, or KAP. I’m really not sure which one. Probably Shooters or KAP.

  18. Matt Adamson is heading the PUP ticket? That’s quite an interesting one given he had been having ‘coffees’ with Tony Abbott.

    Palmer is really tapping into the sporting realm. (Adamson was rugby league player for Penrith, NSW and Australia).

  19. Interestingly him and Lazarus were both props. Is Palmer choosing guys that remind him of himself? :p

  20. I don’t think there are enough votes in the minor right for a 2/4 split. KAP won’t do too much outside of Queensland, most likely that minor right spot will be CDP or Shooters & Fishers. And it’s hard to see how Labor preferences them over the Greens.

  21. Precisely.

    If Labor’s vote holds in line with 2010 and the Green vote declines to the level that DB is suggesting, it’s unlikely but not impossible for Labor to be ahead of the Greens and the remaining minor-right party at the final count and then take the minor-right preferences to win a third.

    I can’t see the left vote being below 3 quotas in any case and I can’t see Labor preferencing Shooters/CDP/DLP etc ahead of the Greens. I see a 3-2-1 result as the most likely.

  22. Adamson started in the centres, shifted to the second row and hardly played any prop (maybe right at the end of his career).

  23. A quibble – I think the Australian Democrats could best be described as centrist until at least the end of Don Chipp’s leadership in 1986 – Chipp was, after all, a former Liberal cabinet minister.

  24. Many rumours circulating the interwebs lately about minor party preference deals. It is suggested that the Wikileaks Party may be preferencing the Shooters and Hanson ahead of the Greens.

  25. Shooters and Fishers Party and Glen Druery has totally fucked over 30 parties in the minor parties alliance that was coordinated by Glen Druery. Glen Druery for Shooters and Fishers Party did all these preference deals with heaps of parties, took all the preferences and didn’t reciprocate. They lied. I wonder what this will mean for the NSW? Maybe Pauline Hanson won’t win her seat because they fucked One Nation.

  26. I had a look through the preference deals for the NSW Senate and noticed that the following parties have preferenced One Nation ahead of the Colaition, ALP, and Greens (2010 election vote in brackets):

    Shooters (2.33%)
    LDP (2.31%)
    CDP (1.94%)
    Sex (1.77%)
    FFP (0.94%)
    DLP (0.75%)
    KAP (NEW)

    These parties finished 4th through 9th and accounted for 10.04% of the vote, which is 4.25% short of a quota.

    Last state election, Hanson got 2.4% of the legislative council vote (without the backing of a party, something she has this time). If this is repeated it would probably be enough to keep her in the count long enough to harvest all of these preferences, and take her to a roughly 12.44% vote. That’s not enough for a quota, but it’s close enough that she’s in with more than a small chance.

  27. Jack – AEC has now published the official senate group preference flows.

    Bambul – One Nation only managed 0.56% of the (primary) vote in NSW at the last election. And now One Nation has to compete against Australia First and Katter Party in NSW for the votes that ON used to pretty much get on its own. I’d be surprised if they managed to make 0.5%.

  28. I think that Wiki will lose a number of potential voters over this.
    ABC: “Julian Assange has told @triplejHack , Wikileaks’ decision to preference Shooters & Fishers party ahead of Greens in NSW was an “admin error””

  29. Wikileaks were involved in a number of admin errors – including shafting Sen Scott Ludlam Greens in WA one of their strongest supporters – a level of stuff ups which raises questions about their competence and political judgement

  30. At first I didn’t believe One Nation had a chance but after playing around a bit with Antony’s Calculator It seemed as long as Libs fall a bit short of a third quota and Hanson gets 2% like at the state election then she can win, as can the shooters and fishers. Having said that, I dont think the Libs will fall very short so 3lib, 2alp, 1grn seems more likely to me.

  31. 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, and the last one a close fight between Greens, One Nation and the Shooters. Much depends on how strong the swing is against Labor, and the order in which the minor parties fall out of the count.

    My guess is that Pauline is coming back, and will hold joint balance of power with Xenophon, DLP and others. The world is strange.

  32. 2GB in Sydney has had a few people ringing up (one woman in tears) after they realised that in their postal votes they have voted for the LDP in the senate instead of the Libs. The first spot on the ticket must help this. They could pick up a few confusion votes.

  33. After having a look at the pref flows in NSW and reading some comments, plus observing what is happening on the ground in NSW, I think it is highly likely that LDP could win the last spot on Lib/Nat remaining votes. LDP will gain votes from the other minor parties. Antony Green’s calculator seems to support this after playing around a bit. In most cases LDP wins. On a rare occasion I had the Greens win and the Climate Skeptics.

  34. The first spot always helps, but it will need to be significant to keep LDP in the race for long enough. And they miss out on some key preferences, such as One Nation. I support the LDP, but I don’t think this is their strongest chance.

  35. John, do you know why the LDP doesn’t just call themselves the Libertarian party? Do they think it would it alienate socially conservative people, or are they trying to get votes on the sly from the libs?

  36. If Pauline gets back in the Senate along with Tone winning, I’ll go troppo and emigrate after school.

    Any countries with a reasonable left-wing democracy that can speak English :p

  37. That’s also how a lot of people felt on election night in 2007 when a new era of political correctness, national shame and income distribution swept the nation.

  38. Jack — the LDP was always intended to be a “moderate libertarian” party. It’s hard to tell because there is no strict libertarian party registered, which makes the LDP the most radical option around. But I expect that some day there will be a strict libertarian party, which will call itself “Libertarian”. NZ manages to have a strict and moderate libertarian party… as do many European countries. We will eventually.

    The word “libertarian” isn’t well understood in Australia, and sometimes only associated with “civil libertarians”. At least, that was the case in 2001 when the party was formed. Things are slowly changing. But before the word “libertarian”, that philosophy was more commonly known as “classical liberal” or even earlier it was simply “liberal democracy” or “whig”. I don’t think Classical Liberal Party or Whig Party are very appealing names. Many libertarians don’t like that they must give up the word “liberal”… both Hayek and Friedman said that they would prefer to call themselves “liberal” but that the word had morphed into something else in America. The Centre for Independent Studies prefers to use the word “liberal” despite the founder/manager being a libertarian.

    Also, and this is the sad reality of politics, but it’s important to have a name that voters relate with. The Sex Party (and HEMP, and Shooters) get some of their vote because people like the names. Since the LDP was originally started by a 22 year old, it made sense to choose a name that sounded serious and normal… to reduce the perception problem of being just young & dumb.

    A final (small) reason was the acronym. The “Australian Libertarian Party” would be ALP while the “Libertarian Party” would be LP… both taken by the majors.

  39. I’ve held my pedantry in check as long as I could. “LDP” is not an acronym, it is an initialism. The difference is that acronyms are pronounced as words, such as “NATO”, while in initialisms, each letter is said separately, as in “ALP” or “UN”.

  40. RichR – not true. While “ALP” is indeed an initialism, it’s also an acronym. Initialisms are merely a subcategory of acronyms, where it’s strictly the first letter of each word, as opposed to acronyms like “sonar”, where the “so” is the first two letters of the first word.

    John – they could always have gone with “LPA” for “Libertarian Party of Australia”. I’m sorry, but I have little doubt that the LDP and DLP both chose their names in part in the hopes for getting votes via confusion – when I first voted in 2004, I thought the “Democratic Labor Party” was basically a left-leaning version of the Democrats… nope. In both cases, I’m pretty sure they hoped the names would get them votes from both Democrat voters and respective Liberal/Labor voters who didn’t realise what the parties really are.

    Anyway, I see that it was in NSW that a number of parties were too slow in getting their preference tickets in. What impact does this have? Does it prevent them from having an above-the-line option? Does it simply nullify their preference distributions in some way?

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