The Decline of Three-Cornered Contests at Federal Elections

This is the first post in a topic I’m calling “Graph of the Day”. It will mainly be shorter posts where I’ll graph something I’ve been researching or otherwise think is worth documenting.

This post and its graphs are about the decline of three-cornered or triangular contests, that is districts where both Coalition parties nominate candidates against the Labor Party.

The decline has been steep, from more than 40% of districts in the mid-1980s to fewer than 8% at the last six Federal elections.

The number of three-cornered contests is likely to fall further if a proposal from within the Federal Coalition to introduce optional preferential voting comes to fruition.

My prediction of a further decline under optional preferential voting is based on the record of state elections in NSW and Queensland. NSW has used optional preferential voting for state elections since 1980, and it was also used for Queensland state elections from 1992 to 2015.

That the Coalition parties actively avoid three-cornered contests under OPV is clear. There has not been a three-cornered contest at a NSW election since 1999. In Queensland, after 61 three-cornered contests at the first OPV election in 1992, the numbers declined to one in 1995, two in 1998, and six at the 2001 election. There were no three-cornered contests in 2004 or 2006, and the Liberal and National Parties merged ahead of the 2009 Queensland election.Read More »The Decline of Three-Cornered Contests at Federal Elections

Victorian State Redistribution with Major Political Implications Starts this Week

The Victorian Parliament began its final sitting week today after a year where the parliamentary schedule has been heavily interrupted by Covid-19.

Parliament rises for the year on Thursday just as a major electoral event gets under way that will have major consequences for the November 2022 state election.

Thursday’s Government Gazette will carry the formal notice triggering a redistribution, a re-drawing of the state’s electoral boundaries.

It is a process with major implications for the electoral prospects of the Andrews Labor government and the Liberal and National opposition.

The scale of Labor’s victory in November 2018 always meant it would be difficult for the Liberal and National Parties to make up enough ground to win the next election.

The redistribution will make that task even harder.

On current enrolments, the redistribution will abolish several seats in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, the Liberal Party’s traditional electoral heartland.

Those seats will be replaced by new seats on Melbourne’s south-east, western and north-western fringe, areas that have been dominated by the Labor Party at recent elections.

Barring events that alter traditional voting patterns, prospects are that the redistribution will buttress the Andrews’ government hold on office, and make victory for the Liberal and National Parties in 2022 just that little bit harder.
Read More »Victorian State Redistribution with Major Political Implications Starts this Week

What’s in a Party Name?

UPDATE 2 February – The name change has been approved by by the WA Electoral Commission.

For a party that argues “Australian democracy is broken”, that claims to be “Australia’s most transparent political party”, the Flux Party of Western Australia has taken a breathtakingly cynical step ahead of next March’s Western Australian election.

As shown below, the party has proposed to change its name and hopes to appear on ballot papers in March as “Liberals for Climate”.

I can’t see this as anything else but an attempt to mislead voters into confusing Liberals for Climate with the Liberal Party. It is an attempt to boost the party’s Legislative Council vote and manipulate the group voting ticket system still used in Western Australia.

The question is, will there be enough objection to this cynical name change, and strong enough legal argument against it, to prevent “Liberals for Climate” appearing on next year’s ballot papers?
Read More »What’s in a Party Name?

Will Saving the NT’s Second House Seat Cost the ACT its Third Seat?

UPDATE: The legislation has been introduced and it does not fix the number of Territory seats at a minimum of two. It instead adopts my proposal to use the harmonic rather than arithmetic mean in determining seat entitlements for the territory. However, the harmonic only applies for quotients under three. That provision might need a re-visit if the Parliament ever increases in size. The statistical error provision has been repealed. The determination in July merging the NT into a single seat has been set aside and two seats restored. Legislating backwards for the harmonic mean was too difficult but under it the NT would have been entitled to two seats.

From the next determination, to take place after the next election, the new rules will apply to the territories. The NT will be entitled to a second seat if its quotient is above 1.3333 rather than the current 1.5. The ACT will be entitled to a third seat with a quotient above 2.4 rather than 2.5. As noted above, this new harmonic mean will not apply above three seats.

The legislation and notes related to it can be found at this link.

Minister’s Second Reading Speech here.

Original post

Read More »Will Saving the NT’s Second House Seat Cost the ACT its Third Seat?

2020 Groom By-election – Rates of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting

Voting for the Groom by-election has been underway today with few surprises expected in the result.

Groom is an ultra-safe LNP seat, held with a margin of 20.5%. The by-election has been caused by the resignation of LNP member John McVeigh. Only four candidates have nominated, well down on the 14 that contested the Eden-Monaro by-election in July. That Labor nominated a candidate in such as safe LNP seat was greeted with general surprise, while the Greens have opted out of contesting a Federal by-election for the first time in a quarter-century.

The LNP’s Garth Hamilton is expected to win easily and I won’t be providing any coverage of the results tonight. The best places to follow the results are the Australian Electoral Commission’s website, and via William Bowe at his Pollbludger site.

As I have for other elections this year, I thought it worth devoting a post to pre-poll and postal voting rates. With Covid-19 still around, you would have expected a high rate of postal and pre-poll voting. In fact the numbers are only slightly higher in Groom than at last year’s Federal election.

It gives me an opportunity to raise an issue about postal vote applications that should be addressed before the next Federal election. In short, there are serious questions as to whether we should still be allowing postal vote applications as late as the Wednesday before polling day. With Australia Post scaling back postal delivery times, what is the point of allowing application for postal votes too late for the postal vote pack to be delivered before polling day?
Read More »2020 Groom By-election – Rates of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting

2020 Queensland Election – Results by Vote Type

The great unknown ahead of the 2020 Queensland election concerned what change in voting patterns would we see as a result of holding an election during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tracking the postal and pre-poll figures before the election revealed a huge increase in postal and pre-poll voting as a proportion of enrolment. Now we know the votes cast, that trend shows up in the results.

Politically Labor did much better with pre-poll and postal voting than it did in 2017. But with much greater numbers in both categories of votes, the improvement may just reflect more Labor voters voting early.
Read More »2020 Queensland Election – Results by Vote Type

New State Electoral Boundaries for South Australia Finalised

(Post re-written and updated 20 November)

South Australia’s Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission (EDBC) released the final version of the state’s new electoral boundaries on 18 November. The new boundaries will apply for the first time at the next South Australian election in March 2022.

The final boundaries unwound some of the more consequential changes proposed by the draft boundaries. After much opposition, Mount Barker was retained in Kavel, leaving that seat based in the Adelaide Hills, and allowing Schubert to be a Barossa Valley based seat. Flowing from this, the proposed move of Gawler into Schubert was undone, unravelling major changes to Light and resulting in a string of further changes to seats across northern Adelaide.

The final boundaries also unwound a series of suburb swaps between the inner-southern Adelaide seats Badcoe and Elder with political consequences for the margins in both seats.

If you are after more detail on the composition of the new electorates, maps can be found on the EDBC’s website.

In this post I’ll provide some commentary on the approach taken by the EDBC and the political consequences that flow from the changes.
Read More »New State Electoral Boundaries for South Australia Finalised

Analysis of the 2020 Queensland Election Result

The 2020 Queensland election returned the Palaszczuk Labor government to office with an increased first preference vote, a two-party preferred swing in its favour, and with an increased majority in the Legislative Assembly.

The election was the first in Queensland for a fixed four-year term, and means that by the next election in November 2024, Labor will have governed Queensland for 30 of the last 35 years.

In mid-2021 Annastacia Palaszczuk will pass Clare Martin to become Australia’s longest serving female head of government. If Palaszczuk stays as Premier until 2024, she will pass Peter Beattie to become Queensland’s fourth longest serving Premier, trailing only Joh Bjelke-Petersen (Country/National), Frank Nicklin (Country) and William Forgan Smith (Labor).

Perhaps as a by-product of pandemic politics, the election saw a decline in support for minor parties. Despite gaining a second seat in the Assembly, Green support fell outside of inner-Brisbane. Support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation halved, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party had the worst vote return for dollars spent in Australian electoral history, while Katter’s Australian Party remains a force in rural North Queensland.

Both major parties increased their first preference vote share, Labor up 4.1 percentage points, the LNP 2.2%, and an estimated two-party preferred swing to Labor of 1.9%.
Read More »Analysis of the 2020 Queensland Election Result

NSW State Redistribution – Draft Electoral Boundaries

UPDATE – the final boundaries determination by the Redistribution Panel was published on 26 August 2021. My analysis of the new boundaries can be found in my updated post here.

The NSW Electoral Districts Redistribution Panel released draft state electoral boundaries on Monday, bringing enrolments for all 93 electorates back within the permitted variations from state average.

The major change brought about by the new boundaries is the abolition of Lakemba, an ultra-safe Labor seat in Sydney’s inner south-west, and the creation of a new and marginal Labor seat called Leppington on Sydney’s south-west fringe. The new boundaries for the southern Sydney Liberal seat of Heathcote transform it into a marginal Labor seat, and the margins in several other Liberal held seats have also been cut.

Update – my analysis of the new boundaries has been published by the NSW Parliamentary Library. You can find it at this link.
Read More »NSW State Redistribution – Draft Electoral Boundaries

Minor Party Preference Flows at the 2020 Queensland Election

(Note: This post was originally published on 1 November but has been fully updated on 18 November to include data available from later data files. I have also published further comments on preferences, in my final analysis of the 2020 Queensland election results.)

The Electoral Commission Queensland collected preference flow data by candidate as part of its election night count, and continued with the tallying in some electorates in the days that followed..

Preference flow data tallies votes by pairings of ‘from’ and ‘to’ candidates. So in the table below of two-party preferred preference flows, the tally is of votes from third parties that flowed as preferences to Labor or Liberal candidates.Read More »Minor Party Preference Flows at the 2020 Queensland Election