Senate – New South Wales – Election 2010

Incumbent Senators

Term expires 2011
Term expires 2014
John Faulkner (ALP) Mark Arbib (ALP)
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LIB)
Doug Cameron (ALP)
Michael Forshaw (ALP) Helen Coonan (LIB)
Bill Heffernan (LIB) Marise Payne (LIB)
Steve Hutchins (ALP)
Ursula Stephens (ALP)
Fiona Nash (NAT)
John Williams (NAT)

History

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.

The following charts demonstrate the numbers of Senators after each election since 1951. I have included senators who were continuing in the case of half-senate elections, rather than simply showing the senators who had been elected at that election. The second chart shows the number of senators elected for each of two ‘blocks’ of left-wing parties and right-wing parties. While this is a flawed concept, and some will argue about my classifications, I have grouped together the ALP, Democrats, Greens and NDP as the ‘left’ and the Coalition and DLP as the ‘right’ to show overall shifts. It demonstrates that the right only gained a majority once, in 1958, while the ALP gained a majority twice under the Menzies and Gorton governments, maintained it under the entire Hawke/Keating government, and managed to maintain it for a majority of the Howard government.  Indeed, the Coalition only managed to achieve 50% of NSW senate seats at the 1996 election and since the 2004 election.

NSW Senate delegation after each Senate election. Liberal in blue, ALP in red, National in dark green, Democrats in purple, Greens in bright green. Yellow represents first the Democratic Labor Party and then the Nuclear Disarmament Party.
NSW Senate delegation after each Senate election. Liberal in blue, ALP in red, National in dark green, Democrats in purple, Greens in bright green. Yellow represents first the Democratic Labor Party and then the Nuclear Disarmament Party.
NSW Senate delegation after each Senate election. Red represents ALP + Democrats + Greens + NDP. Blue represents Liberals + Nationals + DLP
NSW Senate delegation after each Senate election. Red represents ALP + Democrats + Greens + NDP. Blue represents Liberals + Nationals + DLP

2007 result

GroupVotes%SwingQuota
Labor1,764,04042.07+5.702.9448
Liberal/Nationals1,649,01439.33-4.792.7528
The Greens353,2868.46+1.090.5898
Christian Democratic Party82,5601.97-0.640.1378
Democratic Labor Party52,9771.26+1.260.0884
Shooters/Fishing and Lifestyle45,9321.10+1.100.0767
Pauline39,8070.95+0.950.0665
Climate Change Coalition37,2710.89+0.890.0622
Democrats37,1930.89-1.310.0621
The Fishing Party27,0890.65+0.110.0452
Family First25,3210.60+0.040.0423
Others124,6762.970.2081

The ALP and the Coalition each won two seats on primary votes, putting the third ALP candidate, the third Coalition candidate and Greens Senator Kerry Nettle in a race for the last two positions. After all candidates apart from Marise Payne (Coalition #3), Ursula Stephens (ALP #3), Kerry Nettle (Greens #1) and Paul Green (CDP #1) excluded, the count was as follows:

  • Stephens – 0.9532 quotas
  • Payne – 0.8213
  • Nettle – 0.7620
  • Green – 0.4626

After CDP preferences were distributed, the final was as follows:

  • Payne – 1.1226
  • Stephens – 1.1088
  • Nettle – 0.7673

Thus Payne and Stephens were elected.

Candidates

The ALP ticket is reported to consist of:

  1. Senator John Faulkner, Minister for Defence and veteran Senator.
  2. Former NSW ALP General Secretary Matt Thistlethwaite
  3. Senator Steve Hutchins.

ALP had originally promised a Senate spot to Graeme Wedderburn in exchange for him returning to run Nathan Rees’ office as Premier. Following Rees losing the premiership Wedderburn was replaced by Thistlethwaite in order to remove Thistlethwaite from his role running the organisational wing of the NSW Labor Party.

The Liberal-National coalition is running:

  1. Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LIB)
  2. Senator Bill Heffernan (LIB)
  3. Senator Fiona Nash (NAT)

The Greens have preselected a member of the NSW Legislative Council, Lee Rhiannon. The Socialist Alliance have preselected Rachel Evans, an active figure in Community Action Against Homophobia. The Christian Democratic Party are again standing Paul Green, the Mayor of Shoalhaven.

Political situation

The Greens are still a long way away from winning a seat on primary votes, and no other minor party has much of a chance of winning a seat short of a significant shift. This means that any change in the Senate delegation depends on swings between the major parties.

The Greens previously gained preferences from both the Coalition and the ALP ahead of each other.  This means that a swing from Labor to Coalition or vice versa sufficient to give the Greens plus a major party four quotas would result in the Greens winning a seat.

A 1.57% swing from the ALP to the Coalition would be sufficient for the Greens to win a seat off the ALP. A 1.77% swing from the Coalition to the ALP would result in the Greens winning a seat off the Coalition. Considering recent polls, it seems highly plausible that the Greens could win a seat off the Coalition off ALP preferences, due to an increase in the ALP primary vote.

69 COMMENTS

  1. We’re talking about accidentally putting the wrong phone number on a couple of media releases and a web page – it’s not using parliamentary resources. I can assure you from personal experience working on a lower house campaign that her campaign is run from the party office and her parliamentary office isn’t doing campaign work. Unlike famous recent examples involving staff for MPs from certain other parties, Lee’s parliamentary staff don’t do campaign work. This is just desperate muck-raking to shift attention away from the state government’s own, genuinely serious, problems.
    http://www.nsw.greens.org.au/statement-by-lee-rhiannon

  2. Happens quite often sadly, though it’s great when they’re your releases – we had one on Saturday that got the cut and paste treatment.

  3. maybe the greens erred in their choice of candidate…… some one less strident in views would have had a better chance. a 3/3 split is most likely

  4. I dunno Mick – the Libs keep preselecting Bill Heffernan and it doesn’t seem to have done them any harm (not that I am in any way comparing Lee to “the Hef”!).

  5. Just to let you know two Penrith boys are running in a group myself Noel Selby and Tony Robinson we are Independent.

  6. In case anyone missed it, former Liberal candidate for Chifley David Barker, the one who was caught out making bigoted comments about Muslims, is running as an independent in the NSW Senate.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/ex-lib-aspirant-david-barker-goes-for-senate/story-fn59niix-1225897744747

    Strangely, the Herald reports Barker will be running as an independent in Chifley, so I’m not sure what’s happening there.

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/dumped-lib-has-better-odds-than-green-20100728-10vyv.html

    I guess we’ll have to wait for nominations to be announced tomorrow.

  7. Hi All,

    The Australian Democrats are here and we aim to make a difference. We’ve had a good look at ourselves and believe we can return and pick up the mantle to keep the bastards honest again.

    Fiona. Clancy

  8. Tony Z,

    Looking over the senate preferences of the DLP state by state, there seems to be no pattern for the order of Liberals, Labour, Dems and even the Greens. What is the explanation for this, especially in Victoria…

    NSW – Democrats; Labor; Coalition; Cheryl Kernot; Australian Sex Party; Green
    SA – Liberal; Labor; Democrats; Australian Sex Party; Greens
    Vic – Coalition; Labor; Stephen Mayne; Greens; Democrats; Australian Sex Party.
    WA – Labor; Democrats; Liberal; Australian Sex Party; Greens


  9. Imaginative Nickname Looking over the senate preferences of the DLP state by state, there seems to be no pattern for the order of Liberals, Labour, Dems and even the Greens. What is the explanation for this, especially in Victoria

    The Greens made a deal with Labor, Family First did a national Deal with the Coalition.
    We made a number of deals with minor parties and they changed state by State.
    They included CDP, Climate Sceptics, One Nation, Building Australia and individual Senators from both the LNP and the ALP and one or two indivuals of the LDP.

    We also offered deals to the Democrats to try and block the Green Alliance but they chose to go to the alliance and did not see the dangers of such a deal.

    Generally though we went CDP, Family First Coalition ALP then Greens.

  10. I see the Dems have basically swapped preferences with the Sex Party ahead of the Greens in states other than Queensland, where they preference the Greens first. Can’t see the slightest strategic logic in the latter since the Dems are grossly unlikely to ever see Greens’ preferences in any state other than perhaps Tasmania (where the Sex Party isn’t on the ballot). Makes more sense for the Dems to swap with vaguely likeminded smaller parties than with the Greens. In general, Senate preference negotiations are about strategic benefit first and foremost, unless a party is so extreme and repulsive that it’s unthinkable to preference it. Then those who miss out on the deals beat up a case about how repulsive the deals that were done were.

  11. Kevin Bonham Says I see the Dems have basically swapped preferences with the Sex Party ahead of the Greens in states other than Queensland, where they preference the Greens first. Can’t see the slightest strategic logic in the latter since the Dems are grossly unlikely to ever see Greens’ preferences in any state other than perhaps Tasmania (where the Sex Party isn’t on the ballot).

    Thats right, they threw up the white flag up here thats for sure.
    Makes you wonder why they bothered Standing.

  12. Can anyone in NSW detail the campaigning to date of Cheryl Kernot? Print, Television, Internet, Walking the streets? Is she simply relying on name recognition on the ballot paper?

  13. Seems to be. I haven’t heard a thing, and I’m probably in her ‘support area’ (around UNSW).

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