Senate – Queensland – Election 2010

Incumbent Senators

Term expires 2011
Term expires 2014
George Brandis (LIB)
Ron Boswell (NAT)
Barnaby Joyce (NAT)
Sue Boyce (LIB)
Joe Ludwig (ALP)
Mark Furner (ALP)
Jan McLucas (ALP) John Hogg (ALP)
Brett Mason (LIB)Ian MacDonald (LIB)
Russell Trood (LIB)
Claire Moore (ALP)


For the vast majority of the time since proportional representation was introduced, Queensland has had a majority of Senators from right-wing parties such as the Liberals, Nationals, DLP and One Nation. Indeed, the ALP maintained a consistent number of senators for most of this period, holding four Queensland senators continuously from 1951 to 1984. They held a fifth seat from the 1984 election until 1990, when they fell back to four seats. They gained a fifth again in 2007.

From 1951 until the 1964 election, Queensland had four ALP senators, four Liberal senators and two Country Party senators. The 1964 election saw the Liberals lose a seat to the Democratic Labor Party candidate (and ex-Premier) Vince Gair. They won a second seat in 1967, which resulted in the Liberals, Country Party and DLP each holding two senate seats in Queensland, alongside four ALP senators. The 1970 election maintained the status quo.

The 1974 double dissolution saw the DLP lose both their seats, with the Liberal and Country parties each winning a third seat. The Queensland delegation remained steady at four ALP and three for each of the coalition parties until 1980, when the National Country Party lost one of their three seats to the Democrats. The 1980 election was the first time that the Coalition parties ran separate Senate tickets in Queensland, after running jointly for the previous thirty years. The 1983 double dissolution saw the Nationals win back a third seat at the expense of the Liberals, who by this point in time had begun to run on separate tickets. Throughout the 1980s the Nationals held more Senate seats in Queensland than the Liberals.

The 1984 election saw an enlargement in the Senate, with the ALP winning a fifth Senate seat for the first time and the Nationals electing a fourth senator. This balance of five ALP, four Nationals, two Liberals and a Democrat was maintained at the 1987 double dissolution election.

The 1990 election saw the Liberals overtake the Nationals. After the 1987 double dissolution the Senate had decided that two ALP, two Liberal and two National senators would have six-year terms, despite the fact that the Liberals had won half the number of seats of either other party. This gave them a boost in 1990, as they won two seats to the Nationals one, while not having any incumbents up for election. In practice this meant that the Liberals won two seats, one off the ALP and the other off the Nationals. The ALP was reduced back to four seats, and the Coalition again gained a majority of Queensland senate seats.

The 1993 election saw the Democrats win a second Queensland seat, at the expense of the Nationals. This produced a result of four each for the ALP and Liberal Party and two each for the Nationals and Democrats.

The 1993 election result was maintained in 1996, but in 1998 the Nationals lost one of their two seats to One Nation. In 2001 there were again no changes, and in 2004 the Nationals and Liberals each gained a seat, with One Nation losing their seat and one of the two Democrats being defeated. The 2007 election saw the defeat of the last remaining Democrat, producing an overall result of five senators each for the Labor and Liberal parties and two Nationals senators.

Queensland Senate delegation after each Senate election. Liberal in blue, ALP in red, National in dark green, Democrats in purple. Yellow represents first the Democratic Labor Party and then One Nation
Queensland Senate delegation after each Senate election. Liberal in blue, ALP in red, National in dark green, Democrats in purple. Yellow represents first the Democratic Labor Party and then One Nation
Queensland Senate delegation after each Senate election. Red represents ALP + Democrats. Blue represents Liberals + Nationals + DLP + One Nation
Queensland Senate delegation after each Senate election. Red represents ALP + Democrats. Blue represents Liberals + Nationals + DLP + One Nation

2007 result

The Greens177,0637.32+1.920.5124
Family First53,2492.20-1.170.1541

The ALP and the Liberal Party each won two seats on primary votes. Following the distribution of Family First preferences, Ron Boswell of the Nationals, running on the joint Coalition ticket, went over quota, and the remaining votes were as follows:

  • Ron Boswell (NAT) – 1.1461 quotas
  • Mark Furner (ALP) – 0.7541
  • Larissa Waters (GRN) – 0.7429
  • Pauline Hanson – 0.3554

Most of Boswell’s preferences flowed to the Greens, putting her in first place, and showing the following figures:

  • Waters – 0.8734
  • Furner – 0.7554
  • Hanson – 0.3697

Hanson was excluded, and the vast majority of her preferences flowed to the ALP, giving them the seat, with the following figures:

  • Furner – 1.0793
  • Waters – 0.9026


Senator George Brandis is running #1 on the LNP ticket, with Barnaby Joyce running #2. Senator Brett Mason has been preselected for the marginal third seat while Senator Russell Trood has been relegated to the unwinnable fourth position.

The Greens are running Larissa Waters, who ran in 2007. The Socialist Alliance is running indigenous activist Sam Watson.

The ALP ticket consists of:

  1. Sitting Senator Joe Ludwig
  2. Sitting Senator Jan McLucas
  3. David Smith of the Australian Services Union.

Political situation

In a half-Senate election, none of the minor party right-wing candidates have much of a chance of winning without very strong preference flows. It is relatively simple to calculate that the Greens need a swing of approximately 0.3% away from the ALP towards the Greens+Lib/Nat to give the third ALP seat to the Greens, assuming the Coalition repeats its decision to preference the Greens over the ALP. It is much more difficult to calculate the swing from the Coalition to ALP+Greens, due to the presence of Pauline Hanson. While Pauline Hanson specifically went out of her way to put just Ron Boswell down below the ALP candidates on her ticket (whilst putting other Coalition candidates higher), it’s probably safer to assume that those voters would end up with candidates putting the Coalition ahead of the Greens or ALP. Assuming that all of Hanson’s votes would go to the Coalition ahead of the Greens, this would produce these figures:

  • Coalition #3 – 1.5215
  • ALP #3 + Greens – 1.4970

In order to give a seat to both the third ALP candidate and first Greens candidate, you would need a swing of almost 7.5% from the Coalition to the ALP+Greens. Considering how large the swing to the ALP in 2007, and the fact that left-wing candidates have never won a majority of Senate seats in Queensland, this seems implausible, which suggests that the Greens could only win a Queensland Senate seat by a swing to the Coalition or a large increase in the Greens primary vote.

In the case of a double dissolution, the ALP and Coalition would each win five seats on primary votes, as well as one Greens candidate. Using the 2007 voting figures, the Coalition would win a sixth seat on Family First and Democrats preferences ahead of Pauline Hanson. However, Hanson polled two thirds of a double dissolution quota in 2007, and if those votes went to another minor party right-wing candidate with less political baggage, they could win election. If Family First had polled slightly higher, they would have overtaken the sixth Coalition candidate, then defeat Hanson on Democrats preferences.


  1. I’d be mildly surprised if Hanson ran again. She knows she can’t win and I think she would struggle for the 4%.

  2. “assuming the Coalition repeats its decision to preference the Greens over the ALP”

    This assumption is unlikely to hold for much longer and possibly not in the next election. I’m not 100% sure of the internal workings, but the formation of the LNP, which from what I can see is mainly a takeover of the liberals by the nationals, will most likely change the way in which preferences are negotiated in Queensland.

  3. A DD would see all sorts come out of the woodwork, including your Pauline Hansons and your Warrick Cappers. Rudd is likely to avoid a DD just to stop a senate ballot paper 18 metres wide

  4. Will a DLP candidate take votes away from FF and Democrats Candidates, or add to their combined vote by preferences?
    Thereby in essence lowering the number of votes available to the Greens and other minor parties that usually benefit from a protest vote?

  5. @Goanna
    The DLP will certainly take votes from FF. The Democrats polled about 45,000 votes and Pauline Hanson pulled 4% (or about 100,000) votes, so where they end up is the unknown.

    With the increasing presence of the DLP the CDP are unsure whether they will stand at this stage. Where will Paulines votes go ? While the DLP are securing a good preference block the FF are standing in all seats which would be highly unlikely for the younger rebuild team of the DLP.
    One Nation would be asking Rosa Lee Long to stand and with that possibilty the every rising question is will one of these minors take the 6th senate seat.

    Paulines preferences flowed to the ALP allowing them to pull Furner over the line in 2007 but 2007 will have virtually no bearing on the 2010 result. A number of other minors including the CEC, Climate Skeptics & 2 Groups of Independents are also entering into agreements that would suggest the 6th senator will come out of this group.

    The final question is ? where will the ALP preference go. If they go early to the Greens then for the first time ever in Qld they will push the green over the line. If they go to the other block they will be pushing one of the minor groups over the line whether it be FF,DLP,ON etc.

    On a DD a minor win in this group is almost certain.
    Yes the 2010 will be a very interesting tussle indeed.

  6. So, given a half senate election, the most likely result is ALP 3 and LNP 3 senators, (the same as in 2007) which is a net gain of 1 senator to the ALP since the coalition (LNP) had 4 elected in QLD in 2004.

    That would mean that only 1 other gain in the other states / territories would be required to either the ALP or the Greens from either the coalition or family First for the Greens to have the ‘balance of power’ and enable the government (I am presuming ALP)to negotiate with either just the coalition or just the Greens to get bills passed.

  7. Word on the streets has it that Larissa Waters is the Qld Greens candidate, having beaten Libby Connors. Hmmm, might make the election interesting.

  8. And I might say good for Ms Waters, an excellent choice. I think that the Greens have a bright future with the likes of Ludlam, Hanson-Young and Waters.

  9. So true Mr Hamish, but I wasn’t going to quote Vexnews again…what was interesting about this one, though, is that Libby Connors would have been expected to win, given her history in the party (and the fact that she is partner to long-time campaigner & candidate Drew Hutton). But I have heard that some aspects of Libby’s campaign did not endear her to fellow Greens. I wonder if there also isn’t some fall out from the Qld state election…

  10. Reading Vexnews makes me feel kind of dirty; like I’m sitting in on a Young Liberal meeting or listening to Alan Jones. I’m constantly amazed that it hasn’t yet been shut down for defamation.

  11. The ALP ticket is pretty clear. Joe Ludwig, Jan McLucas and in third spot David Smith. ALP Senate Candidates are selected by State Conference, and these three were all selected last year.

  12. “”We will be looking at ways to ensure that Christian disappointment and disgust at what has been done can be fully expressed during the next election period,” Mr Wallace said on Friday.”

    I hate the way that far-right wingnut groups try to hijack the ‘Christian vote.’ I know plenty of Christians who would be happy with that result.

  13. Equally disappointing though is the way ‘mainstream’ politicians and commentators actually believe people like him do speak for all Christians.

  14. The Surragacy act angers far more than proclaimed christians.
    Very few people support this bill and even homosexuals are speaking our against it.
    The electorate is angry and the 28% popularity that Anna holds at the moment could even go lower and is already threatning Kevin Rudds chances.
    The absolute stripping of child rights by this bill would not have pleased the Federal body they would be upset with Anna for rushing through such an unpopular and risky bill as this one.

  15. Tony, do you have any link to support that ‘very few people support this bill?’

    I imagine that there is some kind of polling on the issue out there.

  16. The polls are mixed because the questions asked are somewhat deceiving.
    The polls support homosexual civil unions or marriage but many asked the question to be split. The polls ran that and the surrogacy question (Single or same sex right to adopt or surrogacy) together which suggests that marriage and child raising are and should be one.

    Apparently today many people do not associate marriage in its traditional form of a “Union of a Man and woman for the purpose of raising children”
    Galaxy reported support for same sex marriages at 86% but when the question was split totally different results were reported. Many wouldn’t answer the question because they thought the relationship of a gay marriage shouldn’t automatically involve the removal of such basic rights of the child.
    Many homosexuals didn’t believe that same sex parents should raise children.

    When you mix a bill like this, the only result is a massive swing against you. There are too many points raised that conflict and the bill should have been split into about 3 separate bills. (the LNP tried to split it into two).

    The third question is whether surrogacy should be available to anyone. The right to a child is a god given one. I personally don’t believe that it should. The child should take precedence over today’s modern selfish attitude of I want, so I should get.
    This bill in its entirety is flawed and would not have passed in this form if Qld had an upper house.

  17. The LNP joint ticket will certainly lead to a race for the 6th Senate spot.
    The top five seats look safe (3 LNP and 2 x ALP) and the race is now starting to interesting for that 6th seat.

    Many are now starting to predict a two horse race between the Greens and the DLP. The DLP certainly will profit from a good preference block and the Greens will have to work hard on their base vote to overcome this.
    This interview may help some Queenslanders gain an insight into the history and current position of the DLP Senate team

  18. You’re joking Tony.

    No one has started to predict a two horse race between the Greens and the DLP. There is a 95% probability that it will either be 3 LNP, 2 ALP and 1 GRN or 3 LNP, 3 ALP. There’s an outside chance of Labor picking up 3 to the LNPs 2 and GRN 1 and or a minor right-wing party getting up, but both are very slim chances at best.

    Point to me one article that isn’t a DLP newsletter where someone is ‘starting to predict a two horse race between the Greens and the DLP.’

  19. “Three points that we’re standing on at the moment is the anti-mining tax, the anti-family paid parental leave and the Queensland anti- state sell-off of Queensland Rail.”

    Tony, did you know that a decade ago the mining industry paid 1 dollar in 3 in tax and now pays 1 in 7. That most royalties are not on percentage but a set amount? That miners can write off advertising, fuel, transport & machinery from their tax? That Clive Palmer used to be the press secretary for Bjelke-Petersen? That Clive Palmer’s fortune jumped from 2.5billion to 4.5billion in the past 12 months?

    Good to hear you pointing out Abbott’s discrimination on paid-parental leave though.

  20. For the ALP to pickup their 3rd Seat they will have to preference to a minor in the DLP/FF block ahead of the greens.
    Otherwise they will simply elect the green candidate. (which they dont want)

    If I know the ALP they will be batting to get their 3rd candidate up (like in 2007) so who else would you suggest they pass to before the greens.

    It makes sense to them to pass to the DLP (being the less threatning of the two in a hope that the DLP will pass them enough out of their block to defeat the green and elect their third.

    The LNP will pass their overflow to the DLP but will place the Greens ahead of the ALP.

    It’s not rocket science.

    It will be the Greens or the DLP with the 3rd ALP possible if they can pull the prefernce flow from out of the DLP block.

  21. “For the ALP to pickup their 3rd Seat they will have to preference to a minor in the DLP/FF block ahead of the greens.”

    How does that make sense? Please explain why they will have to preference a minor-right party ahead of the Green? They didn’t last time and they elected three Senators fairly comfortably (certainly not in danger of losing a spot to a right-wing party). FF and probably the DLP (you tell me) will preference Labor ahead of the Greens regardless of Labor preferences. You are assuming that Labor will have a small surplus from the second quota, which I very much doubt. It will be substantially more than the combined minor-right side. You are also assuming that Labor would rather elect a DLP or FF Senator than a Green Senator. I think their regret from Victoria 2004 puts that theory to bed. (They hate Fielding – look at 2007 preferences)

    Have a look at the last election. It will be similar. After 5 Senators are elected, the Greens on nearly a quota, Labor on nearly a quota, a minor right-wing party, having harvested preferences, on less than half a quota. Who the Greens and Labor preference will be irrelevent.

  22. The third ALP senator was elected from preference flow from your
    friend Pauline Hanson.

    They scrapped in by a handfull of votes.
    Besides we have plenty of rewards on offer in other States that could also hold greens out and may help them in their decision.

    NSW’s 58,000 could come in handy to knock out the green….. What do you think Hamish.

    After all, isnt keeping the greens the most important part of this election?

  23. No friend of mine, but that’s my point. Labor preferenced the Greens ahead of the minor-right party/person and was elected fairly comfortably. And if Hanson preferenced the Greens they would have got in fairly comfortably. Either way, Hanson (or any other minor-right party) was never close to getting elected.

    “NSW’s 58,000 could come in handy to knock out the green….. What do you think Hamish.”

    It could well, but these are votes from minor-right parties that will always preference, the LibNats first, then Labor before the Greens. I see nothing that convinces me that the final seat will be between any parties but Labor and the Greens.

  24. “After all, isnt keeping the greens the most important part of this election?”

    Competent, efficient and effective government for me.

    All projections, normal or double dissolution, point to the Greens holding the balance of power. The pertinent question is, will the opposition simply be obstructionist, forcing the governing party into a de facto coalition? Or will the offer bipartisan support?

  25. Apologies for being new to the site so I may have missed a few things. Aren’t we talking about Qld senators here? In this case, TZ can you explain relevance of “NSW 58,000” for me?
    Why is nobody interested in pushing independent candidates here? The mirroring of party power structure from the lower house to the Senate is the reason the upper house has lost a lot of relevance. I say we restore the independence of the senate to provide real oversight and review rather than just rubber stamping or obstructing government. Any opinions?

  26. I don’t think they can once tickets have been declared. Hanson still ran under the Liberal ticket despite being disendorsed back in ’96.

    In any case, is there any talk of her being disendorsed?

  27. Extraordinary stat here: Labor’s sub-30% vote is the first time the ALP has polled below 30% in a Senate race in any state or territory since 1940, and their worst result ever in Queensland.

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