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. You said…

    “….presence of Nick Xenophon. He polled a quota in his own right in 2007, and his profile has not diminished since entering the Senate.”

    I think that claim is very open to debate. In 2007 Xenophon was coming out of State Politics where he was pushing a very high profile ‘No Pokies’ party. He had created an image for himself as the Independent that cared and listened and would promote himself through stunts such as walking up and down Rundle Mall with large signs posters drapped over his front and back. South Australians could and did regularly see him in the flesh on the streets and he was very easily a household name who was considered the go to man if you had an injustice.

    People knew who he was and he was clearly defined as a choice between the big parties.

    Move forward to now we have a completely different playground. He has been out of state politics where he could command attention and lost in the big school of the Federal Senate. Dispite being a cross bencher, he is not ‘THE’ cross bencher and hence rarely gained attention in the big emotional debates that the voters actually care about. Also of note is the fact that his No Pokies party has pretty much collapsed and failed to gain any MLC seats in the 2010 state election.

    The other big wild card is the size, if any, of any back lash against Independents. In the lower house Winsor and Oakshotte (sp?) are claimed to be facing massive backlash from their voters and, if polls are correct are both going to be butchered come Sept 14th. The arguement is that many voters blame the Independents for the mess of the minority government and will be swinging back to major parties. If this ‘arguement’ is proven correct on Sept 15 of course remains to be seen, however if it does then it is likely to count against Nick.

    While I may stand corrected on Sept 15th, I put forward that while Nick will still maintain a significant part of the overall vote, he is no longer the charismatic power house of 2007 and will probably require preferences.

  2. Thanks Craig, you raise a good point.

    Xenophon shouldn’t have any trouble getting elected, but we are getting ahead of ourselves to assume he will increase his vote.

  3. Will be interesting to see where Xenophon preferences should he receive more than 1 quota (as some polls indicate). The Greens could be in big trouble here but might get over the line off XEN preferences. I still think the Coalition are a big chance of getting to 3 quotas in SA and I also think XEN is a shoe-in. The other two are probably ALP.

    But I think the reality is the Coalition will get 3 in SA as we stand today.

  4. There’s a backlash against Oakeshott & Windsor less because they are independents than because they support an unpopular (very unpopular in their electorates) Labor govt. I agree some of the Xenophon novelty has worn off but compared to 2007 there are a lot more grumpy voters looking for an alternative. As a c. 1978 Australian Democrat X should get this.

  5. I think Xenophon is safe. He hasn’t been tarred with the same brush that Windsor and Oakeshott have because they’re seen as propping up the government, while Xenophon isn’t.

    He should retain his seat and I agree with Ben’s prediction that the Greens could lose their seat either to the Libs or FF (if Labor has a swing against it and do an unfortunate preference deal ala. Victoria 2004).

  6. I don’t think Labor preferencing FF is necessary for FF to be in with a chance.

    If you were to assume that any swing to the Liberals vs Labor is cancelled out by the Libs losing votes to Xenophon, which is speculation but not unreasonable, then you have the Libs on 2.6 quotas.

    If FF does anywhere near as well as last time they are on 0.3 quotas. In the past FF has gained half of Xenophon’s preferences. If X’s vote goes up to 1.2 quotas, that’s FF on 0.4. From there it’s not a massive gap between the third Lib on 0.6 and FF on 0.4, and if FF gets ahead they would likely win on Lib preferences.

  7. Liberals should pick up an extra seat here, plus in Tasmania. That it becomes a question of whether they can grab a fourth in Qld, NSW or WA – unlikely in each case but not a shock if they do.

  8. Xenophon may be helped by the fact that he’s now registering a party name, so he’ll have a name above the line on the ballot paper this time, instead of just being ‘Group S’ or whatever it was that he was in 2007 and had to vigorously promote.

    In terms of other candidates to add to the list, there’s a report today that Port Pirie Deputy Mayor and former state ALP candidate John Rohde is running at the head of an unendorsed group along with a staffer to the independent MP for the state seat of Frome

  9. I don’t see why Nick Xenophon would suffer from an anti-Independent backlash – Julia Gillard didn’t do any deals with him to secure herself in the Lodge. Rob Oakeshott’s gone for all money, in my mind, but not Tony Windsor – in any case, that’s another story.
    Xenophon might see his vote fall off, and I’d be surprised if he wins enough votes to secure a Senate seat without anybody else’s preferences, but he may well battle with the Greens for the last spot. My tip is for the Liberals to win 3 seats and Labor 2 seats here. I cannot fathom the Liberals/Coalition winning less than 3 Senate seats in any state, given what the polls show.

  10. Warren, if you look carefully at the polling booth figures in the Northern Tablelands By-Election, just 2 weeks ago, and especially pay close attention, to the results in Armidale, and is much more accurate than any opinion poll, you will find that the combined Greens/ALP/Independent and the main independent candidate came from Armidale, along with the Labor candidate, you should come to the acknowledgment that Tony Windsor is on the nose.

  11. Actually Angus I’d say using the NT by-election is the most inaccurate way to predict the new england result.
    1. There was no independent that had anything like the recognition windsor has
    2. If you look at armidale local council results u will see there was really no stand out candidate with thumping majority
    3. The nats were the only party with much money for the campaign
    4. People still don’t like barnaby

  12. People still don’t like Barnaby

    I think it is probably more correct to say that people are polarised by Barnaby. While, yes, there are some people who don’t like him, there are others who think he’s one of the best characters in Canberra.

  13. Being a colourful colour won’t win him a seat like New England, he probably should have waited for Marano to become vacant.

  14. Save your Barnaby-Tony comments for New England. I was talking about Xenophon, who had nothing to do with the deal that put Gillard in the Lodge.

  15. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that Sarah Hanson-Young will retain her position in the Senate. There is a steady trend against the Greens in SA and the Libs are picking up votes here off Labor. I think the Coalition are now guaranteed 3 quotas and I expect Xenophon and the ALP to get the remainder.

  16. Ben, in your opinion does the Labor leadership change have any bearing on SA, for either major or minor parties?

  17. I would suggest that with the leadership change, it looks more likely that the Libs and ALP will definately get two each, Xenophon returned and the final seat to come down to the Libs, ALP and Greens.

  18. I wish to submit a point of clarification regarding the above assessment and statement that John Rohde, former State Labor Candidate is running as an Independent for the Senate.

    Let me introduce the Partnership with Purpose.

    John Rohde and I, Dianah Mieglich are two well-known faces in the Mid North region and have taken our their first steps in a journey we hope will take us to Canberra to represent South Australians in the Senate.

    We are running as an Unendorsed Group. (Mieglich 1 & Rohde 2).

    We both have experience at SA State level of politics, John as a Labor candidate at several State elections for the seat of Frome and me as a staffer for State Member for Frome Geoff Brock (Independent).

    This partnership is strategic and well considered.

    Strategic in that the partnership will get us above the line on the Ballot Paper and considered because we believe our combined 60 years’ experience in public and community service puts us in good stead represent South Australians in the Senate, the house of review.

    When I approached John and explained my vision and asked John to join me in forming an Unendorsed Group John answered simply yes and without hesitation.

    John Rohde has resigned his membership of the Australian Labor Party.

    More info at:

    or at

    Dianah Mieglich

  19. Another very interesting race. Will SHY’s profile save her? What vote will Xenophon get? I reckon SHY will lose her seat to the Liberals, but it could get interesting.

  20. I think that Sarah Hanson-Young has a good chance, especially with Malcolm Fraser supporting her. She’s a fairly high-profile Greens senator (compare, for instance, with Penny Wright) who was able to beat Penny Wong into the fourth senate seat in 2007 – and she was up against Xenophon then, too.

    It’s my sense that the mood of the electorate has been shifting away from the major parties (moreso from Labor prior to the switch to Rudd, but it’ll swing more against the Coalition now, I think), and this should benefit the Greens in the senate, especially here. I could see both Xenophon and SHY managing to get a quota in their own rights, with some chance (maybe 20% chance) of a third seat going to a minor party or independent.

  21. No chance of three minors Glen. Labor and the Libs are guaranteed two quotas each. Xenophon is probably close to guaranteed one too. The Greens have shed between 10-30% of their vote since the last election and SHY is in a big fight to hold on (high profile is only useful if people like you). Much like her first election, her chances are dependent upon what surplus over two quotas the majors have. If one of them is close to a third, she’s in big trouble.

  22. I assume if you put the name Xenophon instead of independent the support level rises. I also assume that would lower the Greens vote.

  23. It’s worth noting that, when asked who they’re going to vote for in the election, most people will answer with their HoR voting intentions. People are more likely to vote for a major party in the HoR than in the Senate, and the numbers reported are consistent with HoR voting tendencies.

    If the HoR intention is around 14%, then unless a significant change occurs, SHY should be fairly safe, in my opinion.

  24. Tobias – It’s unlikely that Family First would bump SHY, as the Greens and Family First have very little by way of overlap of potential support – that is, if a Family First candidate draws additional support, it’ll be from Liberal supporters, and perhaps the occasional Labor supporter… and maybe a small portion of Xenophon’s support base, although I wouldn’t expect a lot of them to switch to Family First.

    In order for Family First to effectively win a seat off the greens, you’d basically need to have the following: Liberal supporters shifting their support to Family First enough to give Family First a seat; Labor supporters defecting in comparable numbers to the Liberals; and then Greens supporters voting Labor instead of the Greens.

    To be blunt, I just don’t see it happening that FF gets the seat from the Greens. If Family First’s first candidate has a strongly ascending profile, it’s more likely to take a seat from the Liberals.

  25. Glen and Tobias –

    Another way for FF to win the seat would be for Labor to preference them ahead of the Greens. This was how Steven Fielding was elected for FF at the 2004 Victorian Senate election.

    Note this scenario is unlikely for 2013, since Labor preferenced the Greens ahead of all other parties at the 2007 and 2010 Senate elections.

  26. Xenophon to poll 20+%. Favourably articles in the tiser, name recognition, plenty of placards and no tarnish over the last two terms. His preference deals will determine who gains the sixth seat.

  27. Macca – no, but I don’t know that he would get more than 1 fuill quota in any case. It is becoming increasingly hard to see Sarah Hansen Young retaining her seat. The Liberal Primary will be over 40% and I think that will be enough to get 3 up.

  28. There is no way SHY will keep her seat with the LNP now pref’g the Greens last. Esp with Xenophon pref LIB & ALP before the Greens.

  29. Yappo – has Xenophon confirmed he will preference Lib, ALP, Grn in that order (presumably with others in between). If so, a definite 3 to the Libs.

  30. Bob Brown tweeted as much today (see AFR daily coverage) but yes not a 100% confirmation until all Senate prefs are registered with the AEC on the weekend.

  31. How did the preference distribution pan out in 2007? That seems more germane than 2010, due to the presence of Mr Xenophon.

  32. I’m not entirely clear on why Xenophon would put the Greens behind the major parties. I’d have thought that he’d have more in common with the Greens, given that he wants more regulation, especially in food and betting industries, wants to find better ways to tackle climate change, and is against GM foods. These are significant parts of his platform, and they align pretty strongly with the Greens. I suppose you might say he’s worried that Greens will get the seat instead of him, but his preferences wouldn’t come into play until after he’s either lost or gained the seat (that is, by the time his preferences come into play, he would no longer have “a chance to win the seat” – he’d have either won it or lost it already).

    I struggle to see why he would consider the Greens having an extra senator, and thus having more capability to hold balance of power in the senate, would be less desirable than having the Liberals hold an extra senate seat and thus having more chance of absolute power in the case that they form government. Surely the Liberals having absolute power would be undesirable for a politician whose primary politics are protectionist and “regulationist?”, and thus more economically left-wing.

  33. After being lectured and hectored over the past few years by Ms Hanson-Young, a person with very little life experience, I can’t wait to see her political demise. I notice she is keeping a low national profile this campaign no doubt hoping her attitudes to border protection and destroying the economy with unrealistic green economic proposals will temporarily be overlooked by the voters.

  34. Glen – Maybe Xenophon is trying to ensure that the Greens don’t hold the sole balance of power in the Senate? The best case scenario for the Greens would be for them to win 1 Senate seat in 5 states (e.g. every state other than Queensland), while Labor wins 2 seats in each state. That would give Labor 27 seats and the Greens 11 seats, leaving the Greens with the sole balance of power. If they side with Labor, that’s 38 votes to block legislation.

    Obviously 11 seats would be a very optimistic scenario for the Greens, but Xenophon’s Senate vote wouldn’t be worth much if they pulled it off. By directing his preferences to the Liberals ahead of the Greens, Xenophon makes it more likely that the Greens will hold only 6-10 seats, giving more influence for himself and other minor party senators.

  35. Eve, I have little respect for people who use terms like “border protection” with regards to asylum seekers – almost as bad as people who use the term “illegal immigrant” – it shows, simultaneously, a lack of compassion, understanding, and awareness.

    Edwards – it’s possible, but his preferences only come into play if he doesn’t win a seat (OK, they come into play a little bit, if he’s not the last to win a seat), and I can’t see why he’d consider giving Labor or the Liberals an extra seat to be a better result than giving it to the Greens, if he wants a balance of power situation at all.

    Note that I’m not criticising his decision to put the Greens lower than a heap of minor parties; just his decision to put the Greens lower than Labor and the Liberals. Also note that Xenophon put the Nationals and Liberals very high on his preferences on one ticket, and Labor very high on the other; if his concern was balance of power, wouldn’t he want minor parties to be ahead on both tickets? It appears that he split his ticket so that Left and Right would be evenly preferenced, with Labor and the Coalition at the top of their respective sections, and Greens after Labor. That’s inconsistent with the idea of wanting balance of power in the hands of minor parties.

  36. If Greens are in competition with the Libs for the last spot, as I’d imagine, then Mr X’s pref actually split 50/50, so not quite as bad for the Greens as earlier thought. Also both Katter and Palmer are preferncing Mr X, then Greens, Lib, ALP but with Mr X’s running mate further down than the greens. Not much ideological treachery from SEX and HEMP here compaired to other states either. The great unknown is Mr X’s vote – anything between 10% and 20% seems possible without polling. I do still suspect it will be 3 LIB, 2 ALP, 1 MrX but it does not seem so straightforward anymore and a 2,2,1,1 is now an outside shot.

  37. Bobby Day will get the sixth seat, I just checked out Family First prefs – they get high prefs from both Liberal and Labor whereas Greens only get prefs from Labor.

    So if Libs do as well as polls suggest and get, say 2 and a half quotas (but not 3 because Xeno will take some of their primary vote) then Bobby will sneak in on Lib prefs.

  38. Doubt FFP will pick up a seat, even if it means the Liberals only pick up 2.

    Still saying Liberal 3, Labor 2, Xenophon 1.

  39. Glen – Xenophon sees the Greens as blockers. He has made plenty of comments in that regard in this parliamentary term.

  40. Edward Boyce – it would take something near a 1975 result for the Greens to not control the Senate after the next election. I’d suggest they are still on target for 3 Senators given Labor preferences in Tas, Vic, and possibly WA.

  41. DB – Thanks for the insight into how you think the Senate vote might pan out. However, wouldn’t that outcome see control of the Senate pass from the Greens to the minor parties?

    If the Greens won 3 Senators at this election, they’d have 9 Senators (6 continuing from 2010, 3 elected in 2013). If Labor won 2 Senators in each state and 1 in each territory, they’d have 27 Senators (13 continuing from 2010, 14 elected in 2013). That’s 36 seats for Labor and the Greens combined, vs. 40 seats for the Coalition and minor parties (Xenophon, DLP, possibly KAP or others). The Coalition could pass legislation with some of the minor parties and wouldn’t need the Greens.

    Am I missing something? Do you expect Labor to win 3 Senate seats in some states?

  42. Tobias, I think they are on topic. The question was about how Xeno’s preference choices affect the balance of power. Specifically, they are not addressing the question of whether his preferencing against the Greens would tend to shift the balance of power away from the Greens and towards the minor parties. Whether his decision will, in the real world, influence the sixth seat is almost beside the point. What they are getting at is what was in Xenophon’s mind when he made his choice and whether it was reasonable. I for one can’t wait to see where they get on that question.

  43. playing around with Antony’s calculator I often got ‘no carbon tax (climate denialists)’ elected off of well less than one percent – they’re getting preferenced from everyone – even Sex. Its really hard to figure out these things before the calculator comes out. For SHY to hang on, she needs Greens and ALP primaries to hold up because there’s not much else coming if she’s against the climate denialists.

Comments are closed.