Senate – New South Wales – Australia 2016

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2017Term due to expire 2020
Sam Dastyari (ALP)1 Doug Cameron (ALP)
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LIB)David Leyonhjelm (LDP)
Bill Heffernan (LIB)Deborah O’Neill (ALP)3
Jenny McAllister (ALP)2 Marise Payne (LIB)
Fiona Nash (NAT) Arthur Sinodinos (LIB)
Lee Rhiannon (GRN) John Williams (NAT)

1Sam Dastyari replaced Matt Thistlethwaite on 21 August 2013 after Senator Thistlethwaite’s resignation to run for the House of Representatives.
2Jenny McAllister replaced John Faulkner on 6 May 2015 after John Faulkner’s resignation.
3Deborah O’Neill replaced Bob Carr on 13 November 2013 after Bob Carr’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.

In 2013, the Coalition maintained their three seats, while Labor lost their third seat to the Liberal Democrats’ David Leyonhjelm. The LDP benefited from a massive donkey vote thanks to a good ballot position on an extremely large ballot, polling 9.5%. Labor was reduced to four NSW senators for the first time since the Senate was expanded.

2013 result

Liberal/Nationals 1,496,75234.2-4.82.3940
Labor 1,381,04731.6-5.02.2092
Liberal Democrats415,9019.5+7.60.6650
Greens 340,9417.8-2.90.5453
Palmer United Party148,2813.4+3.40.2373
Christian Democratic Party72,5441.7+0.90.1162
Democratic Labour Party67,5491.5+0.90.1078
Shooters and Fishers54,6581.3+0.30.0875
One Nation53,2931.2+0.70.0854
Sex Party44,8301.0+0.70.0714
Wikileaks Party36,3990.8+0.80.0581
Help End Marijuana Prohibition30,0030.7+0.70.0483

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

Fast-forwarding to the last eight candidates, the position was:

  • David Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.6960 quotas
  • Cate Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.5821
  • Arthur Sinodinos (LIB) – 0.4094
  • Karl Houseman (SFP) – 0.3011
  • Graeme Dunne (SXP) – 0.2858
  • Pauline Hanson (ON) – 0.2621
  • Matthew Adamson (PUP) – 0.2446
  • Ursula Stephens (ALP) – 0.2180

Labor was knocked out, with most Labor preferences flowing to the Greens:

  • Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.7904
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.6971
  • Sinodinos (LIB) – 0.4139
  • Houseman (SFP) – 0.3014
  • Dunne (SXP) – 0.2880
  • Hanson (ON) – 0.2625
  • Adamson (PUP) – 0.2454

Palmer United flowed to Sinodinos:

  • Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.7918
  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.6981
  • Sinodinos (LIB) – 0.6525
  • Houseman (SFP) – 0.3024
  • Dunne (SXP) – 0.2891
  • Hanson (ON) – 0.2644

Pauline Hanson’s preferences split between the Liberal Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers:

  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 0.8347
  • Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.7931
  • Sinodinos (LIB) – 0.6558
  • Houseman (SFP) – 0.4242
  • Dunne (SXP) – 0.2905

Sex Party preferences mostly flowed to Leyonhjelm, electing him:

  • Leyonhjelm (LDP) – 1.0453
  • Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.8513
  • Sinodinos (LIB) – 0.6569
  • Houseman (SFP) – 0.4442

Leyonhjelm’s small surplus mostly flowed to Sinodinos, and then the Shooters and Fishers were knocked out, electing Sinodinos over Faehrmann:

  • Sinodinos (LIB) – 1.0974
  • Faehrmann (GRN) – 0.8879


  • A – Andrew Patterson (Health Australia Party)
  • B – Gillian Evans (Seniors United Party)
  • C – Phil Jobe (Family First)
  • D – David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats)
  • E – Steven Lopez (VOTEFLUX)
  • F – Liberal/Nationals
  • G – Teresa Van Lieshout (Unaffiliated)
  • H – Paul McCormack (Democratic Labour)
  • I – James Jansson (Science Party)
  • J – Karl Houseman (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers)
  • K – Shayne Higson (Voluntary Euthanasia Party)
  • L – Ken Canning (Socialist Alliance)
  • M – Brian Tucker (Rise Up Australia)
  • N – Labor
  • O – Berge Der Sarkissian (Online Direct Democracy)
  • P – Ken Stevens (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party)
  • Q – Allan Thomas (Jacqui Lambie Network)
  • R – Sam Kearns (Pirate)
  • S – Brian Burston (One Nation)
  • T – Raymond Bennie (Veterans Party)
  • U – Ian Bryce (Secular Party)
  • V – Christopher Buckman (Country Minded)
  • W – James Cogan (Socialist Equality Party)
  • X – Tom Harris (Katter’s Australian Party)
  • Y – Suellen Wrightson (Palmer United Party)
  • Z – Ann Lawler (Citizens Electoral Council)
  • AA – Rob Bryden (Motoring Enthusiast)
  • AB – Lynda Stoner (Animal Justice)
  • AC – Barry Keldoulis (The Arts Party)
  • AD – Eric Greening (Non-Custodial Parents Party)
  • AE – Paul Quinn (Mature Australia)
  • AF – Nella Hall (Christian Democratic Party)
  • AG – Ross Fitzgerald (Sex Party)
  • AH – Allan Quartly (Australian Progressives)
  • AI – Aidan Dalgliesh (Nick Xenophon Team)
  • AJ – Ray Thorpe (Drug Law Reform)
  • AK – William Bourke (Sustainable Australia)
  • AL – Greens
  • AM – Kirralee Smith (Liberty Alliance)
  • AN – Peter Breen (Renewable Energy Party)
  • AO – Jason Olbourne (Help End Marijuana Prohibition)
  • Ungrouped
    • Warren Grzic
    • Jane Ward
    • Liam Munday
    • Bryan Lambert
    • Peter Wallace
    • James Wright
    • Joanna Rzetelski
    • Danny Lim
    • Maree Cruze (Antipaedophile)
    • Stephen Muller
    • Peter Muller
    • John Cooper
    • Santa Spruce-Peet-Boyd
    • David Ash
    • Nigel Smith
    • Ron Poulsen
    • Peter Gooley
    • Nick Chapman
    • Leonard Brown
    • Richelle Tsay

The Liberal/National ticket should win at least five seats, Labor should win four, and the Greens should win one. This leaves the last two seats up for grabs, with the three big tickets all competing to win an additional seat.

It’s difficult to predict what other parties could be in contention, with the most likely contender being incumbent LDP senator David Leyonhjelm.

In 2013, the LDP benefited from voter confusion and a strong donkey vote, which they will be lucky to achieve again. Reforms to introduce party logos should help reduce the risk of this quirk happening again. On the other hand, the profile of Leyonhjelm and his party is much higher than in 2013. The party also received approximately $1 million in public funding after the 2013 election, which should be helpful for their campaign. Considering these factors, it would be safe to assume that the base LDP vote will increase, if not anywhere near high enough to compensate for the lost donkey vote.

Beyond the LDP, the strongest minor parties in New South Wales have been the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers, both of whom have polled more strongly in the past when they have drawn better ballot positions.

We have no information about support for the Nick Xenophon Team, but national polling, and polling in other states, suggests that NXT could be a contender for the last seat in any state.


  1. Predicted result: 5 LP/NP, 4 ALP, 1 GRN.
    Seat 11: Tossup between the Greens and ALP.
    Seat 12: Tossup between ALP and minor parties (or if ALP win seat 11: tossup between GRNs and minor parties).

    I expect seat 11 will come down between the Greens and ALP. If the Greens are ahead of Labor by this point, ALP voter preferences will likely flow to the Greens, thus electing their 2nd candidate. If the ALP come out on top, Greens preferences will likely elect the ALP’s 5th candidate. I can not see the Coalition winning a 6th seat at this point as minor party preferences will likely not flow to them at a sufficient rate.

    I predict that the Greens will get the 11th seat on the basis that Cate Faehrmann would’ve won the final seat in 2013 if it weren’t for the Glenn Durey minor party alliance.

    Seat 12 will either be a tossup between the ALP and minor parties (if the Greens win seat 11), or a tossup between the Greens, and minor parties (if the ALP win the seat 11), and I would expect a minor party to come out in top. Leyonheljm, although he has the advantage of incumbency, comes off as very arrogant and off-putting. I’d say Ricky Muir is more likely to retain his seat in Victoria than Leyonheljm is to retain his in NSW.

  2. @Matt I don’t know about your assessment re: Leyonheljim. Out of all the ‘wacko’ crossbenchers who won on preferences, he is the one who takes the role the most seriously with concrete positions on most issues. While I do agree that he comes off as abrasive, I still think he has a good chance. Although this is just my personal opinion.

  3. @Matt and WoS

    I think Leyonhjelm will struggle, he doesn’t necessarily have the tact like other politicians.
    Minor parties will struggle in NSW and Vic the most, purely because they have the most votes as a whole and its harder for them to amass enough to gain a quota.
    That being said an established minor party could get up.
    My guess would be 5 Lib/Nat, 4 Labor, 2 Greens, and a tossup between the CDP and the Shooters and Fishers (apparently even farmers now??), maybe even the Sex Party.

  4. Matt, your logic on seat 12 makes no sense. You predict that either Labor or the Greens will win the 11th seat on the other party’s preferences. If Labor wins then the Greens are excluded and can’t win seat 12. If the Greens win then Labor is excluded and can’t win seat 12. Your suggestions on seat 12 can’t happen if your logic on seat 11 applies.

  5. Hi Guys

    Could you please change William Burke (Sustainable Australia) to William Bourke (with an ‘o’)?

    William 🙂

  6. I think Leyonhjelm’s profile is potentially big enough to be successful in a smaller state, but in NSW he would need a fair few people confusing him with the Liberals again. The Lib Dems struggle to get traction on their own. I suspect part of the problem is that his potential base is divided between those who would vote SFF (or other outdoor recreation parties), or would prefer voting Greens.

  7. Ben,

    Sentence in 3rd paragraph of assessment is missing a “not” – Reforms to introduce party logos should make this quirk happen again.



  8. Couldn’t find the Liberty Alliance’s second candidate (Angry Anderson!) in this article

  9. 45 groups on the ballot paper again. Let’s hope it’s smaller next time around, when it’s a regular half-Senate election and hopefully some of the micro-parties consolidate or drop out.

  10. Yes, I voted below the line last time and plan to do so again. It’ll be good to stop numbering somewhere in the teens.

  11. Antony (surely you’re not THE Antony Green?) – I’m pretty sure Matt is suggesting that Labor and the Greens would both be close to the necessary quota, and it will be a race to see which of them cross the line first. The one that doesn’t may end up losing to a minor party candidate.

  12. So, four parties are running 12 candidates in NSW. Three you can guess…

    Labor, Liberal/National, Greens.

    The CDP (that’s the Fred Nile group one) is also running 12 candidates. Somehow, I think they’re way too optimistic, given that I doubt they’ll even get 1 seat.

    Two other interesting things…

    Socialist Alliance is being rather optimistic, too, fielding 4 candidates.

    Science Party and Cyclist Party are running a joint ticket… strangely, with both Science Party candidates first, then the Cyclist Party candidates (compare with Queensland, where Sex and HEMP share a ticket, but it goes Sex, HEMP, Sex).

  13. Just saw the ballot papers with the logos (my other half is away on polling day and got a postal). The logos are very very small and I found it very difficult to recognise the parties from the logos. I was expecting them to be about 4 times the size. So the liberal / liberal democrat issue may occur again. Particularly as the lib dems are before the liberals. And the Lib Dems’ logo looks very similar (co-incidence?) to the liberals.

    If any one else has seen the ballot paper I would be interested in knowing if they have the same or different view of the logos?

    Also due to the number of candidates if you play around with the preferences you can number the sex party candidates # 66 and 69. Yes I know – puerile, unimaginative and childish… but I couldn’t resist.

  14. I thought hemp usually precedes sex…? Anyways…

    Jim Molan is not listed but could see a lot of support for those wanting a certain type of Liberal – expect Marise and Arthur may see the Brandis/Barnaby effect from a few terms back (20000 libs voted below the line!) Now that you only have to place 12 votes under the line, it may even be more pronounced?

  15. Have the major parties candidates ever been elected in a different order to that printed on the ticket? If I voted below the line, when would it be counted?

    Thanks if anyone can answer.

  16. In the Senate, all votes are data-entered and then counted at the same time, by computer. This includes below-the-line votes.

    I believe there was one case in Tasmania of a major party candidate being elected out-of-order due to below-the-line votes. Tasmanians vote BTL at a much higher rate than the other states due to their experience with Hare-Clark at a state level.

  17. Kaiser Trad has no idea what he is talking about unfortunately. The highest BTL vote at a half senate election was (approx.) 1600 votes. If you and your right wing loons could vote 25 times, you might get near to the 20k figure.
    Jim Molan is a 65 year old bloke who has been a member of the Liberal Party for about 4 minutes. I would expect his BTL vote would reflect this….

  18. @kme thanks for that. I didn’t think my voting BTL would make much difference. I guess IF I voted for a lower candidate, it could give them an extra vote towards getting elected that they wouldn’t have gotten by transferring surplus from higher up?

    For the record, I posted here because the topic came up… I’ll be voting in QLD.

  19. Moderate – perhaps you’ve heard of the Senate Reforms? It’s likely to make a significant difference to BTL voting. Instead of having a choice of numbering 1 above, or numbering every single box below, you can number 6 above or 12 below. Numbering 12 boxes isn’t difficult, and I could definitely see people who want Liberal senators, but don’t want Sinodinos or Payne, numbering the L/N starting with Nash or Fierravanti-Wells (depending on whether they care about Liberal vs National) down, and then putting Sinodinos and Payne in 11 and 12.

    I wouldn’t be the least surprised if a heap of people specifically did it at this election, purely because they’re suddenly able to.

  20. BJA: It’s a distinction without a difference – they’d have 1 vote instead of something like 0.9999 of a vote (lost transfer value because a very small fraction of the votes for the higher-placed candidates on the ticket either leaked out of the ticket or exhausted before getting to your favourite lower candidate). The difference would vanish due to rounding anyway.

  21. Ok lets wait and see how well Molan goes below the line on 2 July.
    In terms of the overall NSW senate, I am confident that we will end up with a 6/6 left right split. The left will be likely 4 ALP and 2 Grn, the right could be 5 LNP and 1 LDs, or even 6 LNP.


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