Senate – South Australia – Australia 2013

Incumbent Senators

Term expires 2014 Term expires 2017
Cory Bernardi (LIB)Sean Edwards (LIB)
Simon Birmingham (LIB)David Fawcett (LIB)
Don Farrell (ALP)Alex Gallacher (ALP)
Sarah Hanson-Young (GRN) Anne McEwen (ALP)
Penny Wong (ALP)Anne Ruston (LIB)1
Nick Xenophon (IND) Penny Wright (GRN)

1Anne Ruston replaced Mary Jo Fisher on 5 September 2012 after Senator Fisher’s resignation.

South Australia was represented by five Labor senators and five Liberal senators from 1951 until the 1961 election, when the ALP managed to gain a 6-4 majority. A 5-5 balance was restored in 1967.

Former Liberal premier Steele Hall was elected in 1974 on the ticket of the Liberal Movement, taking a seat away from the Liberal Party. Hall was re-elected in 1975, while the Liberals regained their fifth seat at the expense of the ALP. Hall retired in 1977 and was replaced by Janine Haines of the Democrats. The 1977 election saw the Democrats lose the seat, with the Liberals winning six seats to the ALP’s four.

Haines was returned to the Senate for the Democrats in 1980, alongside five Liberals and four ALP senators. The 1983 double dissolution saw the ALP win a fifth seat off the Liberals. In 1984, the Democrats won a second seat while each major party held five seats. This pattern continued until 1993, when the Liberals won a sixth seat off the ALP, producing a 6-4-2 pattern which was maintained until the 2004 election.

The 2004 election saw the former Democrats seat (belonging to Meg Lees) lost to the ALP, producing a 6-5-1 split. In 2007, Natasha Stott Despoja’s seat was lost. The Liberal Party also lost one of their six seats. The ALP and Liberals each now hold five Senate seats, along with independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens.

In 2010, the ALP lost one of their three seats to the Greens’ Penny Wright, producing an overall split of 5 Liberals, 4 Labor, 2 Greens and one independent.

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

2010 result

The Greens134,28713.30+6.810.9311
Family First41,2274.08+1.190.2858
Australian Sex Party16,8201.67+1.670.1166
Shooters and Fishers11,4251.13+0.740.0792
Australian Democrats6,9750.69-0.190.0484
Democratic Labor Party6,8110.67-0.260.0472
Liberal Democrats5,5840.55+0.470.0387
One Nation5,1590.51-0.100.0358

Labor and Liberal each won two seats on primary votes. The Greens sat on over 93% of a quota, with the ALP and Liberal third candidates both between 60% and 70% of a quota.

After the elimination of minor candidates, the final eight candidates had the following votes:

  • Penny Wright (GRN) – 0.9443
  • Dana Wortley (ALP) – 0.6828
  • David Fawcett (LIB) – 0.6144
  • Bob Day (FF) – 0.3480
  • Ari Reid (SXP) – 0.1215
  • Paul Russell (DLP) – 0.1107
  • Jeanie Walker (DEM) – 0.0943
  • Steve Larsson (SHO) – 0.0828

The Shooters and Fishers preferences mostly flowed to Family First, and Democrats preferences mostly flowed to the Sex Party:

  • Wright (GRN) – 0.9512
  • Wortley (ALP) – 0.6954
  • Fawcett (LIB) – 0.6286
  • Day (FF) – 0.4219
  • Reid (SXP) – 0.1894
  • Russell (DLP) – 0.1121

DLP preferences also flowed to Family First:

  • Wright (GRN) – 0.9526
  • Wortley (ALP) – 0.6965
  • Fawcett (LIB) – 0.6296
  • Day (FF) – 0.5296
  • Reid (SXP) – 0.1902

A majority of Sex Party preferences flowed to Penny Wright, pushing her over a quota.

  • Wright (GRN) – 1.0713
  • Wortley (ALP) – 0.7393
  • Fawcett (LIB) – 0.6342
  • Day (FF) – 0.5534

Wright’s surplus flowed to Labor, and after the elimination of Family First, the Liberal candidate was elected.

  • Fawcett (LIB) – 1.1295
  • Wortley (ALP) – 0.8662
Final rounds of SA Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.
Final rounds of SA Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.


The Liberal Party are running:

  1. Cory Bernardi
  2. Simon Birmingham
  3. Cathie Webb

The ALP are running:

  1. Penny Wong
  2. Don Farrell

Sitting independent Senator Nick Xenophon is running for re-election at the head of the Nick Xenophon Group. The Greens are running sitting Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. The Nationals are running James Stacey. Patricia Petersen’s Australian Independents party is running Tanya Crago. Dianah Mieglich is running as an independent. Family First are running Bob Day. The Stable Population Party is running Greg Oates. The Palmer United Party is running James McDonald. The Animal Justice Party is running Colin Thomas. The Socialist Equality Party is running James Cogan. The Secular Party is running Moira Clarke. Katter’s Australian Party is running Glenn O’Rourke.

In 2010, the ‘left’ reached a total of 3.86 quotas at the end of the count. In normal circumstances, a small swing to the left could see Labor gain an additional seat off the Liberal Party.

In 2013, however, the race will be very different due to the presence of Nick Xenophon. He polled a quota in his own right in 2007, and his profile has not diminished since entering the Senate. It seems likely that Xenophon will again poll around a quota.

In 2007, he took about half a quota away from both major parties, if you compare their Senate vote to their House of Representatives vote in South Australia.

In current circumstances, the presence of Xenophon should make it impossible for Labor to win a third Senate seat. The last seat is likely to be a race between the Greens and the third Liberal.

If you subtract half a quota from the final Liberal vote from 2010, it pulls them down to 2.62 quotas. A swing of 5.4% would bring the Liberal vote back up to 3 quotas, and elect the third Liberal.

The Greens polled close to a quota in 2010, but this was more than twice the vote polled by Sarah Hanson-Young in 2007. It’s likely that some of this vote came from Nick Xenophon, and will go back now that he is on the ballot again.

The Greens cannot win if the vote drops back to a vote similar to that in 2007. In 2007, the Liberal Party fell well short of a quota and didn’t have much in the way of preferences, while Labor preferences flowed to the Greens. Labor is unlikely to have much of a surplus, and the Liberal vote will be stronger.

If Nick Xenophon gains a swing compared to his 2007 vote, and preferences the Greens, they may benefit from a decent surplus, but would still need a solid primary vote.

The Greens will struggle to retain their seat, with the Liberal Party likely to gain the seat.


  1. of course it all depends on how well Mr X goes and where he takes votes from. Compared to last time the Libs, ALP, Greens and FF should all be down, but by how much is hard to say. I couldn’t find a way to give FF or ALP the last spot. I think its down to the Greens, Libs or No Carbon Tax for the sixth spot, although I guess if Mr X only got 10% then something else could happen.

  2. Interestingly the Climate Sceptics would have won the fifth seat in 2010 based on the preference tickets this year. Now that they are running on an anti-Carbon Tax ticket, I think that they will secure a seat.

  3. My senate calculator had the No Carbon Tax ticket getting a seat off my predicted 0.45%. Would surely be the lowest vote to ever win a seat. Quite concerning.

  4. After playing around with Antony Green’s senate calculator, I tend to agree – it looks like the “No Carbon Tax” mob in SA are likely to win the sixth seat.

  5. Just checked and The Climate Sceptics had the Donkey Vote last time – in SA they got 0.46% but interstate they got between only 0.15% and 0.23% in Tasmania with the least competition. A drop to 0.15% makes it harder for them to get ahead of the pack but if they do then a drop in their vote will not be enough to prevent a snowball effect.

  6. The following parties preferenced the Climate Sceptics about ALP, LIB, Mr X, FF and GRN:

    LDP, DLP, Rise Up Australia, Group L, Country Alliance, SEX!, Animal Justice, HEMP, One Nation, Australian Christians, Shooters and Fishers, KAP, Building Australia, Motoring Enthusiast, and Fishing and Lifestyle. Many of these give their second preference to the Climate Sceptics and even more preferences head their way once one of the bigger parties is knocked out. They could snowball from 0.15% very easily. The system is broken, the people of SA do not want this lunatic, IPA funded, conspiracy theorist Leon Ashby, but he is being imposed on us by the Sex Party executive, etc. For Shame!

  7. My predictions: Labor and Liberal each down to roughly 33% primary vote. This is based on 2007 numbers, where Labor and Liberal each got a little over 35% primary vote, factoring in increased Greens presence (although less than 2010), the impacts of KAP and PUP, and the increasing pattern of people voting minor parties in the senate.

    I don’t see any of the new micro-parties getting enough to really influence the vote a whole lot, and I see Xenophon struggling a little compared to 2007, but still strong at 12%.

    With this arrangement, I get that Labor and Liberals get two each, and then Sarah Hanson-Young retains her seat and Xenophon holds on, too (with Climate Sceptics and Liberals still in the count at the end).

  8. Note that I gave the Climate Sceptics 0.2% of the vote. And if I give all of the micro-parties 0.1% rather than 0 (0.1% would be more than I’d expect), and HEMP 0.2% (because it’ll attract some extra attention), the end result is basically the same, except that, up against Xenophon, the last party in the count is Family First, rather than Liberals and Climate Sceptics.

  9. @Kes, is a donkey vote really significant in terms of just putting a “1” in a box above the line? I’d have thought that somewhere near the middle would be more likely to get people who care enough to make a formal vote, but not enough to consider who they give it to.

    The Climate Sceptics are only being “imposed on us” if we choose to vote for minor parties above the line without looking at where they will take our preferences. If we don’t like it, we can vote and encourage our friends to vote below the line. That’s what I plan to do. Several websites are available to help us plan out our numbers so we don’t muck up in the middle.

    I find it quite interesting in the electoral calculator how far down the preferences DO actually matter. Prefs in the 30s or lower often get distributed for the last seat or two.

  10. Scott, like I say the Climate Sceptics got 0.46% in SA and between 0.15% and 0.23% everywhere else. Similar patterns can be seen for other micro parties with the donkey vote, its worth somewhere between 0.2% to 0.4%. Nothing significant, but the effect is there.

  11. The spat between the Greens and Xenophon has become quite heated in the last 24hrs. Reportedly, even the ALP 2nd seat may be at risk but I doubt that. Ironically, SHY may just hang on due to the Coalition but anyway attempting to predict how picks up the last seat needs a time machine to have a chance.

  12. lol long day! That should have read….

    The spat between the Greens and Xenophon has become quite heated in the last 24hrs. Reportedly, even the ALP 2nd seat may be at risk but I doubt that. Ironically, SHY may just hang on due to the Coalition but anyone attempting to predict who picks up the last seat needs a time machine to have a chance.

  13. The SA results are astounding! What a vote for X, still a small chance at a 2nd seat but the fact that they out polled the ALP who only get one seat while the Greens still appear that they may keep SHY even though their vote went down 6+%! Crazy

  14. It seems that many South Australians love Nick Xenophon.
    I remember sitting in the ABC tally room for the 2006 state election, when Xenophon, then a state MLC who had almost every other party and group directing preferences away from him, won enough popular votes to get a teammate elected on his coattails, and finished just behind the actual Opposition! This was amazing.
    As such, I wasn’t surprised when, after quitting state parliament to run for the Senate in 2007, Xenophon got enough votes to fill a quota at the first count, which is rare for an Independent Senate candidate.
    Now he seems to have won almost enough votes to get a teammate elected on his coattails, although we’ll have to wait and see on that.
    Wouldn’t voters in other Australian states love to have their own version of Xenophon?!

  15. This result probably eliminates the chances of Abbott calling a double-dissolution election. As well as more micro-party ratbags everywhere, the Xenophon group would get three senators, for a cloud-cuckoo-land result like 3 Lib, 3 Xen, 3 ALP, 1 Grn, 1 FF, 1 LDP. Rainbow senate.

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