- Gary Humphries (LIB)
- Kate Lundy (ALP)
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%, by far the best result for a minor party in the ACT. With every party preferencing the Greens above the Liberals, Tucker would have gotten over 32% on preferences, if preferences were distributed. However, Humphries still maintained a primary vote quota with 34.2%. Considering that every other party bar one issued a ticket putting Tucker ahead of Humphries, it appears that a swing away from the Liberal Party of less than 1% would have seen Humphries defeated.
|What Women Want||1,406||0.62||+0.62||0.0187|
|Climate Change Coalition||1,323||0.59||+0.59||0.0176|
|Nuclear Disarmament Party||446||0.20||+0.20||0.0059|
Both major parties held their seats with a quota on primary votes. The ALP, Democrats, What Women Want, Climate Change Coalition and Nuclear Disarmament Party all preferenced the Greens ahead of the Liberals, with only the LDP preferencing the Liberals. If you assume all preferences went to the Greens (although 17% of voters voted below the line, so this assumption may not be correct), the Greens end up with 32.46% after the first ALP candidate was elected. This means a swing of less than 1% from the Liberal Party to any other party would have been sufficient to cost the Greens the seat, although this could be slightly larger when you consider below the line voting.
ALP Senator Kate Lundy is running for re-election. I have no information on Gary Humphries, although I would expect him to run again. The Greens have preselected Lin Hatfield-Dodds, former head of ACOSS. The Democrats are standing Darren Churchill.
Assuming that preference flows between parties do not change radically, a swing of about 1% from the Liberal Party to the ALP or Greens would be sufficient to give the seat to the Greens on ALP and minor party preferences.