- Katy Gallagher (ALP)
- Zed Seselja (LIB)
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.
Liberal senator Gary Humphries was replaced at the head of the Liberal ticket in 2013 by Zed Seselja, who had led the party in the territory’s Legislative Assembly since 2007. At that year’s election, the Greens ran former GetUp national director Simon Sheikh, but Seselja retained the seat for the Liberal Party. The Greens and Labor collectively suffered a negative swing of over 10%, with most of that vote going to minor parties who had not previously run in the ACT, including the Sex Party, the Palmer United Party and Bullet Train For Australia.
Labor senator Kate Lundy stepped down in 2015, to be replaced by outgoing chief minister Katy Gallagher.
|Palmer United Party||5,213||2.1||+2.1||0.1477|
|Bullet Train For Australia||5,066||2.1||+2.1||0.1435|
|Voluntary Euthanasia Party||3,963||1.6||+1.6||0.1127|
|Animal Justice Party||2,992||1.2||+1.2||0.0847|
|Katter’s Australian Party||1,416||0.6||+0.6||0.0399|
|Rise Up Australia||1,381||0.6||+0.6||0.0392|
Labor candidate Kate Lundy reached quota on primary votes (although much closer to a quota than in past elections.
Liberal candidate Zed Seselja narrowly fell short of a quota on primary votes. Let’s fast forward to the last seven candidates:
- Zed Seselja (LIB) – 0.9945 quotas
- Simon Sheikh (GRN) – 0.6125
- Deborah Avery (SXP) – 0.1333
- Chris Bucknell (BTA) – 0.0954
- Wayne Slattery (PUP) – 0.0706
- Philip Nitschke (VEP) – 0.0536
- Marcus Fillinger (AJP) – 0.0397
Animal Justice preferences mostly flowed to the Bullet Train party:
- Seselja (LIB) – 0.9958
- Sheikh (GRN) – 0.6184
- Avery (SXP) – 0.1351
- Bucknell (BTA) – 0.1237
- Slattery (PUP) – 0.0711
- Nitschke (VEP) – 0.0553
Voluntary Euthanasia votes mostly flowed to the Sex Party, but enough votes leaked to bring Seselja less than fifty votes away from the quota:
- Seselja (LIB) – 0.9996
- Sheikh (GRN) – 0.6292
- Avery (SXP) – 0.1671
- Bucknell (BTA) – 0.1297
- Slattery (PUP) – 0.0735
Palmer United votes mostly helped the Bullet Train party, but enough preferences flowed to Seselja, electing him:
- Seselja (LIB) – 1.0050
- Sheikh (GRN) – 0.6327
- Bucknell (BTA) – 0.1890
- Avery (SXP) – 0.1721
It’s worth noting that most Bullet Train and Sex Party votes would have flowed to Sheikh (although not all – votes originally from the Animal Justice Party would have ended up with Seselja), making the result closer than it appears.
- A – Matt Donnelly (Liberal Democrats)
- B – David Edwards (Secular Party)
- C – Katy Gallagher (Labor)
- D – Sandie O’Connor (Rise Up Australia)
- E – John Haydon (Sustainable Australia)
- F – Zed Seselja (Liberal)
- G – Deborah Field (Animal Justice)
- H – Christina Hobbs (Greens)
- I – David Kim (Christian Democratic Party)
- J – Steven Bailey (Sex Party)
- Michael Hay (VOTEFLUX)
- Anthony Hanson (Mature Australia)
The ACT Senate race has always produced the same result: one Labor and one Liberal.
There have been multiple efforts by centre-left minor parties to poach the Liberal seat, without success.
The Greens have built up a strong vote in the territory, and that’s unlikely to change in 2013, but Greens chances of victory will be significantly damaged by the change to the Senate voting system.
The Greens have come close to victory thanks to preferences, with a much lower primary vote than the Liberal Party. Most minor parties, along with the ALP, have solidly preferenced the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party. Under the old system, this meant few votes would exhaust or leak, and the Greens could rely on most of these votes.
Under the new system, some of those Labor and minor party preferences will exhaust or leak to the Liberal Party, so the Greens will need to get a lot closer to the Liberal Party on primary votes to win.
Until recently, few minor parties ran for the Senate in the ACT. It seems likely that the number of minor parties will be less than the number who contested the ACT in 2013, but still more than in the past. If less parties run, the Greens may be able to consolidate votes cast for the Animal Justice Party, the Bullet Train for Australia party, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party and the Sex Party.
While progressive minor parties may make preferences more complicated for the Greens, the Liberal Party has avoided right-wing minor parties biting into its primary vote. If that changes, the Greens could have a better shot in the future.
But the Greens will continue to have a problem with the size of the Labor surplus. Generally the Greens have not had to worry about winning votes off Labor – those surplus votes would solidly flow to the Greens as preferences. But under the new system the Greens will be looking to win more of these votes as primary votes.