State of the Senate: crossbench boom

8 September, 2013 Uncategorized0 site

State of the Senate: crossbench boom

There is a lot still up in the air in the Senate, but it is the more interesting element of the election at this point and is producing the most incredible results, with the likelihood of an increase in Greens numbers despite a national swing, the election of multiple Palmer United Party candidates, and the possible election of multiple micro-parties off tiny votes.

Labor looks set to be reduced to one seat only in two states, something that has never happened before in even one, and looks likely to narrowly avoid the same in a third state.

At the moment, it looks like what can broadly described as the minor right-wing parties are set to win a seat in every state, while the Greens will win seats in more states than 2007, although not as many as 2010.

On current figures, the result will be:

  • Coalition – 33 (31-35)
  • Labor – 25
  • Greens – 10 (10-12)
  • Palmer United Party – 2 (1-3)
  • Xenophon – 1
  • Family First – 1
  • Australian Sports Party – 1 (0-1)
  • Australian Motoring Enthusiasts – 1 (0-1)
  • Democratic Labour Party – 1
  • Liberal Democratic Party – 1

In the ACT and four out of six states, there is one seat which isn’t entirely decided. Two of these seats (ACT and NSW) are races where a Green is trailing a Liberal – not by an insurmountable margin but in both cases the Liberal is the favourite. In Western Australia and Victoria a party off a tiny vote (0.2% to 0.5%) wins a seat, but if they are excluded earlier in the count the race will be entirely different. In Tasmania, the Liberal Party and Palmer United Party are tied with the LDP just behind. If the LDP overtakes the Palmer candidate, Palmer’s preferences will elect the Liberal.

The best case scenario for the Coalition sees them gaining only one Senate seat, with a risk of losing up to three. In the best-case scenario, the Abbott government will have a choice of four out of five right-wing minor party senators, as well as the option of Nick Xenophon and ten Greens senators.

In the worst-case scenario, the Liberal Party will require all eight non-Greens crossbenchers, or twelve Greens senators, to pass legislation, and would probably struggle with a bloc of three Palmer United Party senators.

Follow me below the fold for analysis of each individual race.

Australian Capital Territory

This race is simple – between Liberal Zed Seselja and Green Simon Sheikh. At the moment Seselja leads by 1.43% ahead of Sheikh at the final exclusion point. That gap could be closed by late counting and counting of below the line votes, but it could also widen. Antony Green’s ABC Senate calculator assumes that all votes follow above-the-line preference flows, which were favourable to Simon Sheikh.

Interestingly, the preferences of the Animal Justice Party, which flowed to the Liberal over the Green, would have been enough to put Sheikh ahead if they flowed in the opposite direction.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, the ALP has retained two of their three seats, and lost a third. The Liberal/National coalition have definitely retained two of their seats.

The Liberal Democratic Party, who had the first position on the giant ballot paper, polled a massive 8.9% primary vote and will elect a Senator. This will net the party somewhere in the vicinity of $800,000 in public funding. It’s worth emphasising that they haven’t won due to preference trickery, but due to a large primary vote. This is presumably strongly influence by their name’s similarity to the party winning yesterday’s election, and the donkey vote on the biggest ballot in Australian history.

Northern Territory

The ALP fell below a quota on primary votes in the NT, but will retain their seat. The closest rival is the Palmer United Party, but Greens preferences will protect Labor from this threat.


The ALP has lost a seat in Queensland to the Palmer United Party, who have polled over 10% in the Senate in Queensland. Bob Katter’s Australian Party polled a dismal 2.76%, with the Greens knocked down to 6.22%.

South Australia

Like in 2007, Sarah Hanson-Young looks set to win off a relatively low vote thanks to preferences and thanks to Nick Xenophon taking a big chunk out of the Labor vote.

The ALP was pushed to third on primary votes in South Australia, with the Liberal Party currently on 26.7%, Nick Xenophon on 25.9% and the ALP on 22.8%. Sarah Hanson-Young polled just over 7%, with Family First’s Bob Day on 3.8%.

After the election of Penny Wong, the ALP’s second senator, Don Farrell, leads Hanson-Young by 1.41% on primary votes. The Greens narrow the gap on Democrats preferences then jump over the top of the ALP on Palmer preferences.

Ultimately the ALP is knocked out and the Greens are elected on Labor preferences. Both Greens and Labor preferenced Family First ahead of Nick Xenophon, electing Bob Day over Nick Xenophon’s second candidate, with Simon Birmingham of the Liberal Party then defeating Nick Xenophon’s second candidate by 2.47%.


Two Labor, two Liberal and one Green are elected without too much trouble.

At the key exclusion point, the third Liberal and the Palmer United and Liberal Democrat candidates all sit between 9% and 10%. If the LDP or the Liberal Party come third at this point, then Palmer’s candidate wins. If Palmer’s candidate comes third, the Liberal candidate wins.


The Greens have safely gained a second Victorian Senate seat off the ALP – their only likely gain of the night. In addition to the ALP losing a seat, the current scenario has the third Liberal losing to the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts.

The AME gets elected on the calculator off an obscenely small 0.52% of the primary vote. The AME don’t get any early preferences, but at the point where they are on 0.57% they gain preferences from the Fishing and Lifestyle Party, on 0.46%.

If AME are excluded, then the Liberal Party’s Helen Kroger will likely be re-elected.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, the combined Labor-Greens vote has dropped sufficiently that one of them will definitely lose a seat. At the moment it seems close to certain this will be Labor’s Louise Pratt, so Labor and the Greens each win a single seat. The Liberals will retain their three seats.

On the current count the sixth seat goes to the Australian Sports Party off only 0.22%.  At the key exclusion point, the ASP are on 0.31% and Rise Up Australia are on 0.29%, and Rise Up’s preferences pushes the Sports Party up and starts the snowball rolling.

If the ASP gets excluded, then the Palmer United Party wins the final seat, and the Greens lose support with labor.

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