Antony Green

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.
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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.