The Growing Weight of Country and Remote Votes in the WA Legislative Council

In my last post I published an analysis of the new state electoral boundaries for Western Australia. The boundaries were drawn on one-vote one-value principles, a signature reform introduced by the Gallop government in 2005, and one that helped deliver Labor a record majority at the 2017 election. (see this post)

The unfinished business of the 2005 reforms was the Legislative Council. One-vote one-value only applied to the Legislative Assembly, the state’s lower house. It undid a two-to-one  weighting against Perth that had applied since 1989, but left in place a three-to-one weighting in the Legislative Council, the state’s upper house.

In 2005, Labor and the Greens could not agree on a reform model for the Legislative Council. As part of the deal for lower house reform, the Greens wanted the existing six regions retained, but with six member per region instead of the existing five and seven member regions. This left in place the three-to-one weight against Perth, but added a new bias to the system by increasing the weight of votes in Agricultural Region and Mining and Pastoral Region at the expense of South West Region. At the 2017 election, a vote in Mining and Pastoral Region carried seven times the weight of a vote in Perth, a weighting that can only increase at future elections.

Read More »The Growing Weight of Country and Remote Votes in the WA Legislative Council

2019 Western Australian State Redistribution

The landscape for the next Western Australian election has been finalised this morning with the Electoral Boundaries Commission releasing the new boundaries that will apply at the next election.

With the state’s population growth having slowed since the height of the mining boom, the scale of the changes wrought by the redistribution are much smaller than those produced by the last re-draw in 2015.

Despite population growth being concentrated in Perth and the south-west, the Commission has not repeated its 2015 decision to abolish a rural seat and create a new district in Perth. This means that 38 of the 43 seats in Perth have an above average enrolment.

On paper the boundaries increase the McGowan government’s hold on office, increasing the uniform swing needed for a change of government.

This post was updated, 28 November, with more information and adjusted margins for Hillarys and Joondalup.
My publication on the redistribution for the WA Parliamentary Library is now available at this link.
Read More »2019 Western Australian State Redistribution

Preference Flows at the 2019 Federal Election

The 2019 House of Representatives election saw a record vote for minor parties, and as a consequence, a record number of seats where preferences needed to be distributed.

As has been the case for three decades, the Labor Party benefited most from preferences, both in flows of preferences and in seats won from second place. But matching the decline in Labor’s first preference support in 2019, preference flows to Labor were weaker than at any election since 2001.

As in the past, Green preferences overwhelmingly favoured Labor, though it was a different story with other parties. The United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation polled 6.5% between them, but where previously preferences flows from both parties had only weakly favoured the Coalition, in 2019 voters for both parties had a clearer preference for the Coalition over Labor.
Read More »Preference Flows at the 2019 Federal Election

How the new Senate Electoral System Performed at its first Half-Senate Election test.

The Turnbull government’s changes to the Senate’s electoral system were first used at the 2016 double dissolution election, but the 2019 half-Senate election was always going to be a truer test of the changes.

Several of the minor party Senators elected in 2016 owed their seats to the lower 7.7% quota used for double dissolution elections. Two-thirds of minor party Senators were elected to the final vacancies in each state and were allocated to short term seats post-election. Those Senators faced re-election in 2019 when their chances of re-election would be made tougher by the 14.3% quota used at half-Senate elections, as well as the new electoral system.

As this post will explain, the new system worked as designed at the 2019 election, rewarding parties that polled well on first preferences, and disadvantaging parties that relied of harvesting preferences to win election.
Read More »How the new Senate Electoral System Performed at its first Half-Senate Election test.