Antony Green

Antony Green - Election Analyst

Mark Latham and Filling NSW Legislative Council Vacancies

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Alexandra Smith reports on a plan by One Nation’s NSW Leader Mark Latham to resign from the Legislative Council half way through his current term and contest fresh election to the NSW Legislative Council next March.

This would give Latham a new eight-year term and allow One Nation to nominate a replacement for the four-year balance of Latham’s current term.

Let me quote Smith’s article to explain the plan –

One Nation MP Mark Latham is planning to quit the upper house to run again at the top of the ticket in the March election, in a bid to boost the number of MPs the party has in the Legislative Council.

Latham, who is half-way through his eight-year term, wants to recontest a new position in the upper house in order to “renew his mandate”.

A replacement One Nation candidate would be found to fill his casual vacancy.

One Nation secured two upper house spots at the last election – Latham and retired detective Rod Roberts. However, Latham is eager to increase the party’s representation to at least four MPs.

Latham believes that the party could repeat its 2019 performance in March, particularly if he heads the ticket.

Is this allowed?

The answer is almost certainly yes. Legislative Council members have resigned to contest lower house seats and federal elections in the past, and sometimes been re-appointed if they miss out on election. There seems to be nothing in the Constitution or standing orders that suggest the same rule wouldn’t apply to resigning for a Legislative Council election.

It seems that an MLC elected to an eight-year term can resign after four years to contest election for the alternate Legislative Council term. The member would effectively be elected to two over-lapping positions in the Council created by their two elections, though it would be impossible for one person to hold both positions.

Mr Latham would have to resign before the close of nominations. If elected in March, he could be sworn into a new seat in the Legislative Council and be free to nominate his own replacement at the joint sitting that would follow.

If he were unsuccessful, Mr Latham could be re-appointed to his vacancy after the election. So successful or not, Mr Latham could remain in the Council.

There is probably nothing the NSW Parliament can do to stop the plan. After the election, there would have to be a Joint Sitting of the two houses to elect a replacement, and One Nation is responsible for nominating a replacement without a vote

Yet if a party tried the same tactic for a Senate casual vacancy, a vote would be required to accept the replacement. The Commonwealth Constitution and the standing orders require a vote of approval on the candidate to fill the vacancy. And as the Tasmanian Parliament showed in 1987, a state Parliament can refuse to appoint a replacement.

That’s not an option for Legislative Council vacancies.Read More »Mark Latham and Filling NSW Legislative Council Vacancies

Voter Preferences set be Ignored at the 2022 Victorian Legislative Council Election

After three successful Senate elections where results were determined by voters controlling their own preferences, November’s Victorian Legislative Council election will return to the dark ages with upper house results determined by ‘preferences whisperers’ and backroom show-and-tell preference deals.

Even worse, hundreds of thousands of Victorian voters, maybe even millions, will have their Legislative Council preferences ignored and replaced by party tickets.

This is because Victoria is the only Australian jurisdiction that still uses Group Voting Tickets (GVTs), a form of party determined preferences.

The problem for November’s state election is that Victorian voters have used the reformed Senate electoral system at the last three Federal elections.

The reformed Senate system allows voters to determine their own between-party preferences above the line on the ballot paper.

In Victoria voters can’t.

Why this matters is clear when you look at how Victorians completed their ballot papers at May’s Senate election.

Overall 92.7% of Victorian voters completed their ballot papers by numbering preferences for parties ‘above the line’. That’s more than 3.5 million voters marking how they wanted their ballot paper preferences distributed.

If that figure were repeated at the Victorian election, that would be 92.7% of votes going by the party ticket with all other voter preferences ignored.Read More »Voter Preferences set be Ignored at the 2022 Victorian Legislative Council Election

Seat Numbers and Margins for the 2022 Victorian Election

When preparing for an election coverage, my first step is always to compile a set of last election results as history for the ABC’s election website and election computer.

The data includes historic votes by candidate and party for each electorate. To enable more complex analysis on election night, the same historic data is collected for each polling place.

When there has been a redistribution, I also re-calculate last election results to match the new electoral boundaries. Those calculations become the stored history for use in analysis.

Another important job is to give all electorates an initial party classification. On election night, party classification is combined with results to label seats as either “gains/losses” or “retains”.

Normally I classify seats based on last election votes. But sometimes I depart from this practice when by-elections, candidate defections and redistributions complicate analysis. Relying too strictly on past votes can make it hard to explain a result on election night.

A prize example is Novembers Victorian election. A major redistribution since the 2018 election has left a number of seats as unclear on how best to allocate an initial party classification.

Recently the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) released estimated margins for all seats. You can find the estimates on the VEC’s research and publications page at the link named “Methodology of estimating 2018 election results on new electoral boundaries”.

The table below shows the seats won by party at the 2018 Victorian election on the first line. The second line shows the seat holdings if you strictly apply the VEC’s estimated margins. The third line is the seat holdings I have advised the ABC to use for the Victorian election site (coming soon!) and in the ABC’s election computer.

Victorian Party Seat Holdings – Redistribution Estimates
ALP LIB NAT GRN IND
2018 Election result 55 21 6 3 3
VEC party seat totals 58 19 7 3 1
ABC party seat totals 56 21 6 3 2

A two-page pdf with a new electoral pendulum and alphabetic list of seat margins can be found via this link.

The VEC totals explain why the Labor Party has been reported as having gained two seats through the redistribution. In my view that is not the case. Labor does have two more safe seats than it did on the old boundaries, but at the expense of some marginal Labor seats. The two possible extra Labor seats come about through VEC estimated margins that flip two Liberal seats on fewer than 70 votes.

Whether these two seats are classed as Labor or Liberal held, it has no impact on the swing of around 9.6% needed for the Labor Party to lose its majority

The ABC will be using the same margins as the VEC in most seats. The VEC’s estimates have only minor variations from the estimated margins I published last year. (My original estimates can be found in this post).

The ABC and VEC party totals differ because the ABC is choosing to classify ultra-marginal Caulfield and Hastings as Liberal held (the VEC suggests Labor held) and to keep Mildura as Independent held (the VEC suggests National held). How these seats are classified has no impact on the swing needed for Labor to lose its majority.

There are also four seats where the ABC and VEC agree that party status has changed because of the redistribution.Read More »Seat Numbers and Margins for the 2022 Victorian Election

North West Central By-election

I’ve published a profile on the ABC elections site for Saturday’s North West Central by-election in Western Australia. Results for the by-election are also at the site.

North West Central is the state’s largest electorate taking in 32.3% of the state. It covers 820,591 square kilometres, an area larger than New South Wales. While the state’s largest electorate in area, by enrolled voters North West Central is the state’s smallest. Just 11,189 electors are enrolled to vote at the by-election, just over a third of the state’s current electoral quota of around 30,000.

The by-election has been caused by the resignation of Vince Catania, the Labor turned National MP for the seat since 2008. In what was once a marginal seat, Catania’s two-party preferred vote in 2013, 2017 and 2021 was well in excess of the Liberal/National state-wide vote. Catania appears to have attracted a personal vote amongst Labor voters, shown in the chart below by the big gap in North West Central support for Labor and National between the upper and lower houses at the 2021 election.Read More »North West Central By-election

NT Fannie Bay by-election set for 20 August

Voters on the NT Legislative Assembly seat of Fannie Bay will go to the polls on Saturday 20 August following the resignation of MP and former Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

I’m unfortunately on the wrong side of the world to cover the by-election. I don’t have access to the ABC’s election site to publish a preview and will be busy cycling round Italy’s Lake Como on the day results are being reported. Understandably I’m sticking to my bike.

To fill the gap, I’ve pulled together a brief profile of Fannie Bay here on my personal site. No guarantee that I’ll have time to offer further commentary before the election.

All the official information on the by-election can be found on the NT Electoral Commission’s Fannie Bay by-election website. This includes details on when, where and how to vote.

A date for WA’s North West Central by-election has now been named – Saturday 17 September. I’ll publish information on this by-election next week when I return to Australia. Details on the by-election can be found on the WA Electoral Commission’s website. Read More »NT Fannie Bay by-election set for 20 August

2022 Senate Election and Ballot Paper Completion Types

The 2022 Senate election was the third since the 2016 abolition of group voting tickets. These tickets had previously allowed parties to control the distribution of between-party preferences by allowing voters the choice of voting for only one pre-arranged party ticket.

The new system put voters in control of between-party preferences. Voters could indicate ordered preferences for parties ‘above the line’ (ATL) on the ballot paper, or for individual candidates ‘below-the-line’ (BTL).

The changes also ended full preferential voting in favour of partly optional preferential voting. Ballot paper instructions stated to mark at least six ATL or 12 BTL preferences. Generous savings provisions were adopted, with any ATL vote with a valid first preferences being saved as formal, and any BTL vote with at least six preferences also being saved.

The changes were based on similar reforms ending party control over preferences adopted in the states. New South Wales abolished upper house group voting tickets at the 2003 state election, South Australia in 2018, and Western Australian will abolish them at the next state election in 2025. Only Victoria continues to use group voting tickets.

The major difference between the state reforms and the Senate system is the states have made ATL preferences fully optional. State instructions are to mark one square above the line with further preferences optional. The number of BTL preferences required varies from state to state.

The Senate instructions state to mark a minimum six ATL preferences, though as already mentioned, any ballot paper with at least a valid ATL first preference is saved as formal.

The release of 2022 ballot paper data has revealed an unchanged pattern in how voters completed their ballot papers. As at the two previous elections in 2016 and 2019, around 80% of all 2022 Senate ballot papers were completed according to the ballot paper ATL instructions with a sequence of six ATL preferences.
Read More »2022 Senate Election and Ballot Paper Completion Types

2022 New South Wales Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – Marise Payne (Liberal)
  • Re-elected 2 – Deborah O’Neill (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Ross Cadell (National)
  • Re-elected 4 – Jenny McAllister (Labor)
  • Elected 5 – David Shoebridge (Greens)
  • Re-elected 6 – Jim Molan (Liberal)

Party Outcome: Labor (-1) Greens (+1). Within the Coalition ticket, the Nationals recover the seat lost to the Liberal Party during the 2017 citizenship drama.

A full table of first preference votes allocated to ticket votes and to individual candidates is included in the post. Some analysis of the preference flows will be included once the preference distribution report is released later today.
Read More »2022 New South Wales Senate Election

2022 Victorian Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – Sarah Henderson (Liberal)
  • Elected 2 – Linda White (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Bridget McKenzie (National)
  • Re-elected 4 – Jana Stewart (Labor)
  • Re-elected 5 – Lidia Thorpe (Greens)
  • Elected 6 – Ralph Babet (United Australia Party)
  • Defeated – Greg Mirabella (Liberal)

Party Outcome: Coalition (-1), United Australia Party (+1).

A table of final first preferences is included inside this post along with an analysis of the distribution of preferences sheets.
Read More »2022 Victorian Senate Election

2022 Queensland Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – James McGrath (LNP)
  • Re-elected 2 – Murray Watt (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Matt Canavan (LNP)
  • Elected 4 – Penny Allman-Payne (Greens)
  • Re-elected 5 – Pauline Hanson (One Nation)
  • Re-elected 6 – Anthony Chisholm (Labor)
  • Defeated – Amanda Stoker (LNP)

Party Summary: Greens (+1), LNP (-1).

A full table of first preference votes is included in the post as well as an analysis of the preference flows.

The critical point in the count was the exclusion of Clive Palmer (UAP). More than half of his preferences flowed to Pauline Hanson (ONP), allowing Hanson to open a wide lead over Amanda Stoker (LNP) in the contest for the third conservative seat.
Read More »2022 Queensland Senate Election