Senate – South Australia – Australia 2016

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2017Term due to expire 2020
Sean Edwards (LIB) Cory Bernardi (LIB)
David Fawcett (LIB)Simon Birmingham (LIB)
Alex Gallacher (ALP)Bob Day (FF)
Anne McEwen (ALP) Sarah Hanson-Young (GRN)
Anne Ruston (LIB)Penny Wong (ALP)
Robert Simms (GRN) 1Nick Xenophon (IND)

1ARobert Simms replaced Penny Wright on 22 September 2015 after Penny Wright’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.

2013 was a low-point for Labor, falling into third place behind the Nick Xenophon group. Sarah Hanson-Young, Nick Xenophon and the two Liberal senators were re-elected, but Labor only retained one of their two seats, with the final seat falling to Family First’s Bob Day.

2013 result

Liberal 285,05827.5-10.81.9215
Nick Xenophon Group258,37624.9+24.91.7416
Labor 235,31222.7-14.61.5862
Greens 73,6127.1-6.20.4963
Family First39,0323.8-0.30.2632
Liberal Democrats36,6573.5+2.90.2471
Palmer United Party27,4842.7+2.70.1855
Sex Party10,4271.0+0.30.0700
Democratic Labour Party10,1431.0+0.50.0686
Motoring Enthusiast6,8220.7+0.70.0462
Animal Justice Party6,4390.6+0.60.0434
Shooters and Fishers6,1510.6-0.50.0413
Help End Marijuana Prohibition6,0320.6+0.60.0406

Only three seats were decided on primary votes, with the Liberal Party and Labor each electing their first candidate, along with Nick Xenophon.

We can fast forward to the last nine candidates, with the three remaining seats still unfilled:

  • Simon Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9355 quotas
  • Stirling Griff (NXT) – 0.7535
  • Don Farrell (ALP) – 0.5951
  • Sarah Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.5281
  • Leon Ashby (TCS) – 0.3189
  • Bob Day (FF) – 0.2845
  • Michael Gameau (LDP) – 0.2644
  • James McDonald (PUP) – 0.1890
  • Deb Milka (SXP) – 0.1284

Preferences held by the Sex Party were split between the Greens and the Climate Sceptics:

  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9362
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.7620
  • Farrell (ALP) – 0.5966
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.5754
  • Ashby (TCS) – 0.3836
  • Day (FF) – 0.2883
  • Gameau (LDP) – 0.2650
  • McDonald (PUP) – 0.1900

Sarah Hanson-Young jumped ahead of Labor’s Don Farrell thanks to Palmer United preferences:

  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9374
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.7674
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.7539
  • Farrell (ALP) – 0.5976
  • Ashby (TCS) – 0.3845
  • Day (FF) – 0.2903
  • Gameau (LDP) – 0.2658

Liberal Democrats preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Bob Day, pushing him ahead of the Climate Sceptics:

  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9384
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.7695
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.7546
  • Farrell (ALP) – 0.5980
  • Day (FF) – 0.5481
  • Ashby (TCS) – 0.3883

The elimination of Ashby pushed both Hanson-Young and Day into leading positions:

  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9412
  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 0.8596
  • Day (FF) – 0.8261
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.7714
  • Farrell (ALP) – 0.5984

The elimination of Labor’s Farrell elected Hanson-Young, leaving her with a large surplus, mostly consisting of Labor and Greens votes:

  • Hanson-Young (GRN) – 1.4344
  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9491
  • Day (FF) – 0.8294
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.7834

Most of those preferences flowed to Bob Day, electing him:

  • Day (FF) – 1.2179
  • Birmingham (LIB) – 0.9568
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.8207

Day’s own surplus elected Birmingham, leaving Griff unelected:

  • Birmingham (LIB) – 1.1266
  • Griff (NXT) – 0.8686


  • A – Darryl Bothe (Mature Australia)
  • B – Labor
  • C – Terence Crawford (The Arts Party)
  • D – Greens
  • E – Sundance Bilson-Thompson (Cyclists Party)
  • F – Nick Xenophon Team
  • G – Sasha Pazeski-Nikoloski (Australian Progressives)
  • H – Liberal
  • I – Kristian Rees (Palmer United Party)
  • J – Nathan Green (Motoring Enthusiast)
  • K – Roostam Sadri (Liberal Democrats)
  • L – Adam Bird (VOTEFLUX)
  • M – Matt Attia (Christian Democratic Party)
  • N – Bob Day (Family First)
  • O – Steven Burgess (One Nation)
  • P – Adrian Tuazon-Mccheyne (Australian Equality Party)
  • Q – John Hahn (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers)
  • R – Ryan Parker (HEMP/Sex Party)
  • S – Wanda Marsh (Liberty Alliance)
  • T – Lynn Grosser (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party)
  • U – Tania Noble (Animal Justice)
  • V – Jessica Knight (Voluntary Euthanasia Party)
  • W – Alex Kozlow (Citizens Electoral Council)
  • Ungrouped
    • Ron Waters (Antipaedophile)
    • Christopher Cochrane
    • Adam Richards
    • Mohammad Ali
    • Dave Saddler
    • Malcolm Davey

The presence of the Nick Xenophon Team is expected to have a massive impact on the South Australian race.

If NXT can repeat its 2013 performance (which seems likely, according to SA polls) then the party would win three Senate seats, with an outside chance of a fourth.

The Liberal Party and Labor Party should each win at least three seats, with the Greens winning one.

With Labor, Liberal and NXT on three seats and the Greens are on one, this leaves the last two as a contest between Labor, Liberal, NXT and some minor parties, including Family First. It is difficult to see the Greens polling enough to contend for a second seat.


  1. It would be a shame to see Simms lose his seat, which is unfortunately shaping up to be the case.

    My prediction: 3 each to Labor and Libs, 3 to NXT, one to the Greens.
    Seat 11: likely tossup between the Libs and NXT.
    Seat 12: tossup between minor parties and the Greens.

  2. NXT cannot get more than 4 seats – no matter how many votes they get.
    They have only stood four candidates.

  3. Once again the suggestion that the Libs can only get 3 seats here is fanciful. They will easily get 4 quotas, with a real prospect of a 5th if their primary vote can get into the 38/39pc range.
    X gets 3 in his own right as does the ALP. The battle for 11th and 12th in my view is one between the Greens gaining one quota easily, and the 12th spot will be a battle between the 5th Lib, the 2nd green and the 4th X.

  4. The Liberal vote is leaking like a sieve. On 2013 numbers, the Libs would only be guaranteed 3 quotas/seats in their own right, and that will likely go down further in 2016. The best the Libs will get is 3 seats plus the possibility of 1 extra on preferences, and that’s not taking into account that any decline in the Liberal vote and increase in the NXT vote will see this seat go to the final NXT candidate.

  5. Yeah, I think it’s unreasonable to expect the Liberals to get anywhere near 38-39% in the senate in SA, considering that they didn’t even make 30% in 2013, and that was before the whole submarine thing, and when they were the opposition. In the best case scenario, the Liberals get to 4 seats with only a small margin beyond that.

    Realistically, they’re probably going to leak some more vote to NXT, and possibly a little to FF, plus a bit to Labor. They’re probably going to have to fight with FF for their fourth seat.

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  7. Why did NXT only stand 4 candidates? They could have been in the mix for 5 seats if their vote got up to around 35%, which is unlikely but not impossible.

  8. 39-20-15-26 for Lib-ALP-Grn-Oth. In quotas, that’s {5.07, 2.6, 1.95, 3.38}, so: 5 Libs, 2 ALP, probably 2 Grn, with the other three seats between the X-Men, Labor’s #3, or maybe Bob Day. (If FF can reliably win 1 seat out of 11 in SA upper house elections, they’d have to be a chance at 1 out of 12 in the senate.)

  9. I think the major parties are breathing a sigh of relief here. It could have been worse. Xenophon while getting a quota of three, probably performed not as well as predicted. Xenophon is polling around 21%, which is lower then the 28% that has been polled before the election. LNP four senate seats, Labor four senate seats, Xenophon three senates seats, and the Greens one senate.

    Family First’s senator Bob Day and Greens senator Robert Simms miss out.


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