Senate – Western Australia – Australia 2022

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2022Term due to expire 2025
Michaelia Cash (Liberal) Slade Brockman (Liberal)
Dorinda Cox (Greens) 1 Pat Dodson (Labor)
Sue Lines (Labor) Matt O’Sullivan (Liberal)
Ben Small (Liberal)1 Louise Pratt (Labor)
Dean Smith (Liberal) Linda Reynolds (Liberal)
Glenn Sterle (Labor) Jordon Steele-John (Greens)

1Dorinda Cox will replace Rachel Siewert later in 2021.
2Ben Small replaced Mathias Cormann on 25 November 2020 following Cormann’s resignation.

History
Western Australian Senate races were dominated by the Coalition from 1951 until the beginning of the 1980s. The 1951 election produced a result of four ALP senators, four Liberal senators and two Country Party senators.  The 1953 election saw the ALP win a seat off the Country Party, but the previous result was restored in 1955. The 4-4-2 result was maintained at every election throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The 1970 Senate election saw the Liberal Party lose one of its four seats to independent Syd Negus, who was elected on a platform of abolishing death duties.

The 1974 double dissolution saw Negus defeated and the Country Party lose one of its two seats. The result saw five Labor senators alongside four Liberals and one Country senator. The 1975 double dissolution saw the Coalition regain its majority in Western Australia, with the ALP losing its fifth senate seat to the Liberals. The 1977 election saw the National Country Party lose its senate seat to the Liberals, producing a result of six Liberals and four Labor senators.

The 1983 double dissolution saw the Liberals lose their majority, with five Liberals, four Labor and one Democrat elected. The 1984 election saw Labor gain both new Senate seats while the Democrats lost their seat. In addition to 6 ALP and 5 Liberal, the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s Jo Vallentine was elected. At the 1987 double dissolution, Vallentine was re-elected as an independent along with a Democrat and five each for the two major parties.

The 1990 election saw the Liberals win six seats, along with five Labor and the re-elected Vallentine, who was re-elected as a Green. The Liberals have maintained six WA seats ever since. The 1993 election saw the Greens win a second seat off the ALP. From 1993 until today, WA has been represented by six Liberals, four Labor senators and two minor party Senators from the Greens or Democrats.

In 1996, the Greens lost one of their seats to the Democrats, losing their other seat in 1998. The Democrats held onto their seat in 2001 before losing one of their seats in 2004. The last Democrat was defeated by the Greens candidate in 2007.

The 2010 election was a status quo result. It was the third election in a row which saw three Liberals, two Labor and one Green elected.

The 2013 election produced a bizarre result, where a tiny vote margin between two nonviable candidates decided whether two seats would go to the Palmer United Party and Labor, or the Greens and the Australian Sports Party. A recount reversed the result, but also saw a large batch of ballot papers go missing, forcing a re-election.

At the 2014 re-election, large swings to the Greens and the Palmer United Party saw both parties win one seat each, with the Liberal Party retaining their three seats and Labor limping in with only one seat.

There were two changes at the 2016 double dissolution. Labor recovered their fourth seat, while the Liberal Party dropped from six to five. The Greens maintained their two seats. The Palmer United Party lost their sole seat, with One Nation winning a single seat.

The Liberal Party regained their third seat (for a total of six) at the 2019 election, with One Nation losing their sole seat. There was no change for Labor or the Greens.

2019 result

GroupVotes%SwingQuota
Liberal 591,86040.9+2.42.8639
Labor 399,63927.6-0.71.9338
Greens 170,87111.8+1.50.8268
One Nation85,1295.9+1.90.4119
Australian Christians23,9831.7+0.00.1160
Help End Marijuana Prohibition24,4041.7+1.70.1181
United Australia Party25,2961.7+1.80.1224
Nationals 20,3361.4-1.10.0984
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers17,0721.2-0.70.0826
Western Australia Party17,2131.2+1.20.0833
Animal Justice14,1301.0+0.00.0684
Liberal Democrats10,4380.7-0.10.0505
Conservative National Party8,4250.6+0.60.0408
Pirate Party8,5260.6+0.60.0413
Others29,3012.0

Preference flows
Three seats were won on primary votes: two for the Liberal Party and one for Labor. Three other candidates were over 80% of the way to a quota.

Fast forward to the last ten candidates competing for the final three seats:

  • Louise Pratt (ALP) – 0.9559 quotas
  • Matt O’Sullivan (LIB) – 0.8939
  • Jordon Steele-John (GRN) – 0.8883
  • Peter Georgiou (ON) – 0.4536
  • Nick Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.1674
  • James McDonald (UAP) – 0.1386
  • Ellen Joubert (CHR) – 0.1378
  • Stuart Ostle (SFF) – 0.1160
  • Julie Matheson (WAP) – 0.1159
  • Nick Fardell (NAT) – 0.1156

Nationals preferences primarily flowed to the Liberal candidate:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.9619
  • O’Sullivan (LIB) – 0.9590
  • Steele-John (GRN) – 0.8948
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.4595
  • Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.1700
  • McDonald (UAP) – 0.1435
  • Joubert (CHR) – 0.1405
  • Ostle (SFF) – 0.1254
  • Matheson (WAP) – 0.1233

Preferences from the Western Australia Party scattered amongst the remaining candidates, with Labor and Liberal doing best:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.9856
  • O’Sullivan (LIB) – 0.9824
  • Steele-John (GRN) – 0.9144
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.4685
  • Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.1820
  • McDonald (UAP) – 0.1558
  • Joubert (CHR) – 0.1462
  • Ostle (SFF) – 0.1343

Shooters preferences elected O’Sullivan to the fourth seat:

  • O’Sullivan (LIB) – 1.0048
  • Pratt (ALP) – 0.9980
  • Steele-John (GRN) – 0.9234
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.4940
  • Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.2094
  • McDonald (UAP) – 0.1666
  • Joubert (CHR) – 0.1543

After distributing O’Sullivan’s small surplus, UAP preferences elected Pratt to the fifth seat:

  • Pratt (ALP) – 1.0216
  • Steele-John (GRN) – 0.9381
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.5462
  • Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.2187
  • McDonald (UAP) – 0.1966

The small flow of Pratt preferences favoured the Greens, and then UAP preferences most strongly flowed to One Nation, but still brought the Greens close to a majority:

  • Steele-John (GRN) – 0.9877
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.6289
  • Lethbridge (HEMP) – 0.2411

At this point, Georgiou had no mathematical chance of victory, and Lethbridge’s preferences pushed Steele-John over the line:

  • Steele-John (GRN) – 1.0836
  • Georgiou (ON) – 0.6749

Candidates

  • Ungrouped
    • Ziggi Murphy (Independent)
    • Ashley Buckle (Independent)
    • Peter McDonald (Independent)
    • Yunous Vagh (Independent)
    • Bob Burdett (Independent)
    • Valentine Pegrum (Independent)

Assessment
The most likely result at the next election would be a status quo result of three Liberals, two Labor and one Green.

If there is a large swing to Labor like we saw in the 2021 state election, it could see Labor gain a seat off either the Liberal Party or the Greens, but it would require quite a large swing.

We could also see the Liberal vote drop far enough to lose their third seat to a minor party without being enough for Labor to gain the seat.

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55 COMMENTS

  1. The Senate is set up for stability. We elect six people on a quota that’s one-seventh of the vote.

    Three-sevenths is 43%, so you need a VERY one-sided result to get a “4-2”.

  2. Labor also went backwards on primary vote, and recorded one of their worst ever primaries, and it hasn’t translated into Senate losses for them. In fact they might gain a seat despite losing votes.

  3. If the majors primary went backwards then why isn’t it translating into a larger senate crossbench?

  4. The Greens won three extra seats, plus Pocock and JLN. That’s five extra seats. It appears likely that Hanson will hold her seat, and the two ex-CA seats lost their seats. So that’s a net increase of three crossbenchers.

  5. Pleased to see another win for Diversity with Fatima Payman regardless of political party. Someone young and the first of a refugee background to be elected to Senate following Dai Le in the HOR. As someone of an ethnic minority background myself this is important to me.

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