Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tasmania Senate 2016: Prospects and Guide

Likely outcome 4 Liberal 4 Labor 2 Green + Lambie with 12th seat unpredictable
Final seat between Liberal, Labor, Lambie Network or a micro-party

Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released.  The state has 58 candidates, including 21 party groups and five ungrouped candidates (two of whom are running for parties).  This compares with 54 candidates in 23 party groups (plus one ungrouped) in 2013.  The new Senate system should have the impact over time of discouraging so many micro-parties from wasting their deposits and cluttering up the ballot paper, but because it's the first time and it's a double dissolution, a lot of them have decided to try their luck anyway.  (There's a scurrilous theory that some of them are part of an organised flood of the ballot.)

This piece gives some basic information and views about the parties and lead candidates, and some general background to the contest.  The party candidate section, in places, represents my own opinions of the candidates and parties.  There are a few obnoxious candidates on the Tasmanian ballot  and I have no hesitation in warning voters about these people.  There are also some parties that may not be what they seem.

For advice about how to best use the Senate system to vote see How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System.  I have listed how-to-vote cards for the parties here, but my advice is to ignore them since following any how-to-vote card weakens your vote.

Also see ReachTEL Says Lyons Going, North In Doubt for some comments on some rather vague Senate related polling for Lisa Singh, Richard Colbeck and Jacqui Lambie.


Tasmania currently has five Labor, four Liberal and two Green Senators, plus Jacqui Lambie.  Lambie was elected as a candidate for the Palmer United Party but left it and has formed her own party.

A graphical history of changes in the state's Senate makeup can be seen at The Tally Room.  When the Senate was expanded in 1984 the breakdown was 5 Liberal 5 Labor 1 Democrat 1 IND (Harradine).  In 1996 the Greens won the Democrats' seat.  In 2001 Shayne Murphy defected from Labor to sit as an Independent.  In 2004 Harradine retired and Murphy lost, and the Greens and Liberals each gained a seat, making the balance 6-4-2 to Liberal.  In both 2007 and 2010 Labor won a seat from the Coalition, and finally in 2013 Jacqui Lambie won a seat and Labor lost one.

Had the most recent elections been run as double-dissolutions under the new system, results could have been:

2001 and 2007: 5 Liberal, 5 Labor, 2 Green
2004: 6 Liberal, 4 Labor, 2 Green
2010: 4 Liberal, 5 Labor, 3 Green
2013: 5 Liberal, 4 Labor, 2 Green and Lambie

The 2016 preselections for both major parties have been extremely controversial.  The Labor preselection, conducted by a mix of rank-and-file and union balloting using a less than ideal election-order system, dumped high-profile sitting Senator Lisa Singh to the bottom of the ticket, while retaining the controversial Helen Polley in second place.  See Singh Dumped To Fourth On Senate Ticket (for a DD it became sixth.)

The Liberals attracted criticism for attracting no female candidates and for selecting a very conservative pro-Abbott ticket.  Past ticket-topper and current minister Richard Colbeck, perceived to have supported Malcolm Turnbull in the leadership ballot, was demoted to the unsafe but winnable fifth position.  This was widely seen as payback for his issue positions (like supporting a conscience vote on same-sex marriage) and perceived support for Turnbull.  See Colbeck Demoted to Fifth.

I also covered the Greens' secretive but less controversial preselection process.


A disclaimer first that Senate projection is always a mug's game, though under the new system it should have become somewhat easier.  Expect the unexpected! The 2013 votes as converted to double-dissolution quotas make a good starting place for trying to work out what should happen here:

Liberal 37.5% (4.88 DD quotas)
ALP 32.8 (4.27)
Green 11.7 (1.52)
PUP 6.58 (0.86)
Liberal Democrats 2.32 (0.30)
Sex Party 1.45 (0.19)
Family First 1.31 (0.17)
Shooters + Fishers 1.11 (0.14)
All other parties combined 5.2% (0.68)

One quota is 7.69%, two is 15.38, three is 23.08, four is 30.77, five is 38.46.  The final one or two candidates will probably be elected with somewhat less than a quota because of exhaust.

Lower house polling until the final week of the campaign mostly suggested there is not much swing in Tasmania.  At times suggested a swing against the Coalition similar to the national swing, and at times it has suggested that there is very little swing at all, or perhaps even a swing to the incumbents.  However, polling in the final week (see here) suggested a primary swing of about four points against the Coalition in most seats, except for Denison for which the results may not be reliable.  Still, the House of Representatives primary vote swing against the Liberals is likely to be modest.

On that basis four Liberal, four Labor and one Green seat appear extremely likely.  (A black swan scenario might be that Lambie gouges the Labor Senate vote so badly that they fall short of four, but this seems highly unlikely.) The Greens' vote should increase at least slightly, but even if it stays the same they should still win two seats, especially with a flow of preferences from left-wing micro-party candidates.  However there is an outside chance that if their vote fails to increase they could lose a seat if the distribution of votes for other parties is unlucky for them.  On the other hand it is not easy to see them picking up the seven or so points they would need to be seriously in the mix for a third seat.

The PUP vote will collapse, probably to 1% or less.  The Lambie Network vote is hard to predict. ReachTEL polling showed it at about 5% statewide, but that poll was not clear about whether the respondent was voting for the Reps or the Senate, and it hence very probably understated her vote.  Far higher levels are often rumoured from internal polling, but with no clear evidence available.  The Lambie campaign appears modest in on-ground presence and has had some struggles in attracting donations, although a substantial donor list has now been (commendably) published.  However her profile is extremely high (boosted by a free Mercury front page the day before the election) and her mix of political positions distinctive.  Tasmania has a history of returning state-based independents, though Lambie is quite a different type of independent to Brian Harradine, and far more controversy-prone.  I think it is very likely Lambie will be returned and her running mate Steve Martin has a realistic chance.

Assuming that the major parties win four each, the Greens two and Lambie one, the final seat looks likely to be between the Coalition, Labor and Steve Martin, but a micro-party win is also possible.  A difficulty for Labor is that the Greens would seem to be a useful preference source, but should be either short of a second quota or not far over it.  On the other hand the Coalition will receive preferences from numerous right-wing micro-parties.  For this reason Labor will probably need a substantial primary vote lead on the Coalition, which seems unlikely.  But maybe not! (See Lisa Singh section)  Another difficulty for Labor is that their primary vote could be heavily damaged by competition from Lambie, and in my view this could be the killer for their chances of a fifth seat.

Of the micros:

* the The Recreational Fishers Party polled strongly in the current House of Reps ReachTEL (averaging 5%, though this is probably inflated and competition is likely to be greater in the Senate). The party has made a major effort including TV ads and widespread robocalls on June 30.  It may be the most competitive of the micro-parties, its lead candidate is high-profile, it may benefit from voter confusion with more right-wing fishing parties, and it has good preference flows on HTV cards from other parties.  Seems to be the best micro-party chance.
* the Liberal Democrats only did so well on primaries last time because of a good ballot draw and name confusion.  The Liberals have drawn better this time so that is very unlikely to happen again. Plus their candidate is a ring-in who struggled to attract BTL preferences last time.
* The Sex and HEMP parties polled over 2% combined last time, so maybe their joint ticket could build enough vote share to be an outside chance.  However they will struggle on BTL preferences because their lead candidate is from interstate.
* Family First have the cherished first column, and we don't know yet what this is worth in the first run of a new system, but they'd need to lift a long way on last time to be a threat.
* The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have polled 2% in the past but there are a lot more parties nowadays.
* The Christian Democrats also polled well in the ReachTEL but the same points apply as with Recreational Fishers, plus their candidate is a ring-in.
* NXT's chances in the state have probably been damaged by the Nicky Cohen enrolment bungle.
* The Science Party has been among the most active of the micros and is an unknown quantity while the Animal Justice Party has been leafletting and could have some appeal in Hobart.

A possible scenario is that the quotas for the obvious parties fall such that no-one has much left over - they all get their seats with not much excess, with close to two quotas (15%) scattered between the various micros, one of which then wins. A plausible scenario is around 4.3 quotas for the Liberals, slightly less for Labor, 1.2 quotas for Lambie Network and 1.6 quotas for the Greens.  The Liberals and Labor win four each, the second Green wins eventually while being short of quota, and one of the micro-parties might outlast everyone else from a primary vote of 3% or so.  This would require a lot of luck (since preference flows will probably go to better-known candidates) and there is also a chance that below the line voting for Singh and Colbeck would derail it by keeping individual major party candidates above the micro-parties.

Although preference-harvesting no longer works nearly as well as it used to, this won't stop micro-parties from trying it if voters are foolish enough to follow the cards.  I have just about a full list of Tasmanian party how-to-votes here.

Eligibility Issue

The Mercury (June 30) has reported that Nicky Cohen of the Nick Xenophon Team has realised he is ineligible by reason of failure to renounce his UK citizenship.  Cohen has stated that he believes this will be treated the same as if he had died (ie his votes flow to the next candidate) but I am unaware of any provision for this to happen.  Rather, on my understanding his votes will be counted and distributed as normal and an issue will most likely arise only if he is elected (which won't happen anyway).  In the extremely unlikely event that he was elected as well as the NXT #1, that would be an interesting case since there would be no NXT candidate for his votes to flow on to, unlike the prior cases in which a Senator has been unseated for being ineligible.  If Cohen were to somehow be elected and the court were to order his seat be filled from the same election then this would not create a lengthy recount - the data would already be all entered so it would just be a matter of recoding the distribution and running it through the computer again.

There has been some speculation that a very close result might be challenged based on Cohen's ineligibility creating the potential for a void election.  I think this is highly unlikely, though if Hoult were to win by an extremely small margin and preferences from Cohen played a role in that perhaps a case might be argued.

The Singh Factor

The dumping of Lisa Singh to a normally "unwinnable" position creates an interesting test for whether voters want to make use of the ease of voting below the line in order to save her.  Singh has form in this regard.  In the 2010 Senate election Singh was in the dicey third position and 2.76% of Tasmanian voters voted below the line for her (at that election only 24 boxes were required.)

At this election, the choice is between numbering six boxes above the line or twelve below.  Singh is campaigning very actively, with many signs and brochures.   If she can get a few percent of the vote below the line in her own right then this opens up chances for her.

One scenario is that the Labor vote stays about the same as last time.  If Singh could poll about 4% in her own right she then might be able to pass Catryna Bilyk on preferences and win the fourth ALP seat.

Another is that the Labor vote increases to, say, 4.6 quotas.  Then Singh might beat John Short for the fifth Labor seat, conceivably even from a primary vote as low as 2-3%.  If Labor poll towards 5 quotas then it gets more difficult, but still not impossible. However it's not quite as simple as Singh matching the remaining Labor candidate (Bilyk or Short) on primaries plus BTLs, because votes flowing into the party from above the line preferences will continue to flow to the top ALP candidate.  So she probably needs to be well in front of the last Labor candidate's primary.

If the Liberals perform poorly and Singh polls spectacularly well, there is also a scenario in which Labor wins 5 to the Liberals' 4 (despite starting behind) because the fifth Liberal (Colbeck) is caught behind the individual preference tallies of both Singh and Bilyk.  This sort of thing is seen in Hare-Clark sometimes.  This might conceivably also be a risk to Nick McKim, but only if the Green vote doesn't really increase at all.

So who knows?  It's challenging, but it's plausible that Singh could be returned if the will to do so is there.  If it would happen anywhere, Tasmania would be the place.  (Serious intra-party contests sometimes happened in Tasmania in the pre-1984 system, which was purely "below the line" with full preferencing).

The challenge for Singh is getting her message out without drawing the ire of the party.  A double-sided A4 leaflet for Singh asks voters to re-elect her, but the only hint on how to do so appears in a quiz about the new system!  However, a "Re-elect Lisa" group headed by Hobart barrister Tony Jacobs has been actively trying to rescue Singh for several months, and is now actively letterboxing.

There is also some impetus for a below-the-line campaign for Richard Colbeck on the Liberal side (including a Facebook page), but it is less prominent so far than the Singh campaign.  If the Liberals look like they will only win four then it will be worth looking at Colbeck's below the line vote to see if he has any chance of remaining. If they win five he will be re-elected anyway.

Interlopers from interstate

A number of candidates run in Tasmania who are actually not from the state (although sometimes such candidates may move here briefly in the leadup to the election).  Examples are listed in the parties and candidates section where they are the lead candidate.

The Constitution allows candidates to run in any electorate or state, but the cluttering of ballot papers with non-locals is irritating to Tasmanian voters and a potential waste of electoral resources.  I support introducing a requirement for candidates to be nominated by a minimum number of local nominators to ensure their candidacies are supported by residents of the state they're running in.  (This would also knock out quite a lot of pointless micro-party runs.)

Parties and candidates: a subjective guide

Here is my guide to the parties running for this Senate election.  Mostly I include background on the lead candidate or competitive candidates only.  Parties are listed in ballot order.  Where opinions are offered, they are obviously purely mine, and if you don't like them feel free to go and write your own somewhere else, or contest them in comments. It's a bit rough around the edges in order to get it out in time for the start of voting, I may add more links later, but I will not add or change any material on request except to correct clear factual errors.

Candidate guides with photos were published in The Mercury on 25 June and some of these are good for a laugh if you can track down a copy.

Family First:  Don't be fooled by their image as the slightly cuddlier side of evangelical politics, nor by Bob Day's image as a shrewd operator.  Family First's two Tasmanian Senate candidates are both strange anti-gay extremists and I encourage all Tasmanian voters to put this party last or at least behind anyone with a ghost of a chance.* Lead candidate Peter Madden was almost elected by preference snowball in 2013, when I wrote this piece on him. He's been at it again with his tacky anti-gay trailer and predictably insensitive tweeting following the appalling Orlando massacre (he has since apologised, sort-of, and said he would attend a vigil for the victims, though I'm unsure he will be entirely welcome there).  Since the last election, he started a blog and got as far as this one bizarre post.  As the article explains, Madden is a person who would deserve much sympathy if only he did not take his past sad life experiences out on a group of people who had nothing to do with them, and nothing, especially not religious belief, excuses this.

Second FF candidate Andrew Roberts also has a rich vein of form, having 38,000 fliers intercepted at a previous election and being behind some highly odd websites which have thankfully disappeared (here's an archive of one of his efforts).

(*Those who insist on putting Eric Abetz last instead may do so safely - it will make no difference since Abetz will be elected on primaries.)

Australian Labor Party: Tasmanian ALP Senators, with the exception of Singh, are mostly low-profile, or if seen in the news are often seen for the wrong reasons (such as Senator Helen Polley, who has received adverse publicity for investigations of her workplace's culture, flying between Hobart and Launceston, and opposing same-sex marriage among other Shoppie-style social-issue positions).  The only new name on the ticket is John Short in the winnable but difficult fifth position, and if the others haven't done enough to make themselves known to you over many years then I am not about to help them out.

The Greens: The Green ticket contains sitting Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, recently-appointed Senator and former party leader Nick McKim, and one of Hobart's four (!) Green councillors, Anna Reynolds, who was revealed as in line for the distantly winnable third position a ridiculously long time after the preselection was actually finished.

Christian Democrats: I have managed to write the party name without including "so-called" my usual twice, but this is the more orthodox style of fundamentalist bible-thumping politics.  Lead candidate is a ring-in, Fred Nile's wife Silvana Nero-Nile, whose enthusiasm for doing the Lord's work in the state may have something to do with missing preselection in NSW.  Second candidate Mishka Gora is a past Democratic Labour Party candidate.  (The DLP are running one Reps candidate in Tasmania but none for Senate.)  Gora's Mercury profile espouses "freedom from the nanny state" which makes me wonder if she knows which party she is running for, and also says that "relativism threatens to make our society and politics meaningless".

Nick Xenophon Team: Lead candidate for this centrist/populist/SA-centred (and also anti-free-trade) rising new party is Michelle Hoult, who has a Navy, education and small business background and has campaigned quite actively (some on Twitter have said too actively!) online.  Signs of an old-fashioned NXT groundgame are elusive at this stage but will be interesting to see how they go.

Liberals:  Enough said about the grip that the hard Abetzian right continues to hold on the preselection process despite the head-of-ticket continuing to beat a drum for Tony Abbott long after Abbott was rolled.  (He seems to have gone quiet on that for the campaign though)  The Liberal ticket is renewed in age with the preselection of young staffer Jonathan Duniam (who now self-describes as "self-employed") to the ultra-safe third position, but this might not mean much in terms of its politics.  Re Richard Colbeck, see background section.  (The height of radicalism on social policy in the Tasmanian Liberal Senate team is to support a conscience vote on same-sex marriage while still being opposed to it.)

Note: If voting 1 Liberal above the line, please choose your own parties to preference and do not follow the How-To-Vote card.  The card unfortunately preferences Family First (see above).

Palmer United Party: I'm unsure why the remnants of Australia's fastest-destructing vanity party bother, but lead candidate Kevin Morgan was the party's candidate for Braddon in the Reps in 2013 and again in the state election, getting about halfway there in the latter before being cut out.  Morgan didn't have much that was original to say for himself when he ran for LegCo in 2013.

Sex Party/HEMP Party: Another ring-in; the lead candidate for the "joint ticket" (pun intended) is Dr Francesca Collins, a Victorian-based behavioural scientist and university teacher who has run for the Sex Party in Victoria in the past.  This is the second election in a row the Sex Party has been unable or declined to find a Tasmanian lead candidate.  The Sex Party is broadly left-libertarian and secularist.  The HEMP Party primarily supports removing legal barriers to medicinal, recreational and industrial use of marijuana.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation: The lead candidate for the original of a slew of xenophobic nationalist parties, Kate McCulloch, scored 3% for the party in Macarthur (NSW) in 2010 after being hailed (or derided?) as "the next Pauline Hanson". (The first one is somehow not finished with us yet).  McCulloch is based in New Norfolk and has a background in farming (which she calls Primary Production) and hospitality businesses.

Derryn Hinch's Justice Party: As far as I can tell the Justice Party combines a right-populist "tough on crime" approach (except perhaps if that crime is naming sex offenders) with attitudes on animal rights and euthanasia more associated with the left.  Its lead candidate is Suzanne Cass, a well-known animal rights activist who was at one stage an RSPCA director prior to one of many rounds of internal RSPCA politics in the state.  Cass has also worked in the corrections sector, for the Greens and in literacy support.

Citizens Electoral Council: A perennial low scorer and veteran fruitloop party that believes in many ridiculous conspiracy theories.

Renewable Energy Party: The name sounds cool and the policy platform is what you'd expect, but I'd treat this micro-party with caution based on its endless unsound contributions to the Senate reform debate (see here and here) and close links with Glenn Druery style preference harvesting schemes.  Formerly known as the Human Rights Party (go figure)  and anointed by Druery as in contention for the final seat at a time when nobody here had heard of them, so there's something funny going on.  All that said, its Tasmanian candidates sound genuine enough.  Lead candidate Rob Manson works in the "Renewable energy sales and installation" sector.

Jacqui Lambie Network: Lambie, a former soldier who had failed to obtain Liberal preselection, managed to climb aboard the PUP ship at the right time and the rest is history.  Lambie combines generally Labor-ish attitudes on economic and education policy with right-wing populism on Islam and national service.  She is also very interested in defence veterans issues.  Lambie is brash, outspoken, direct, impatient and sometimes out of her depth, but is becoming less gaffe-prone and more politically skilled than when first elected.  She recently appeared on Kitchen Cabinet and offered a coarse character reference for Cory Bernardi.  Lambie's #2 is also from the north-west coast and is a heavy hitter in local politics: Steve Martin, the very electorally successful mayor of Devonport (last year Martin was returned with 60% of primaries in a field of four.)  Martin got his start in politics in health issues, in particular surrounding the Mersey Hospital.  Martin does not have Lambie's controversial reputation and is an obvious asset for her ticket and chances, although his own campaigning is apparently low-key because of his mayoral duties.

In the Mercury profiles, Lambie gives her age as "40-ish"; she's 45.

Australian Liberty Alliance: Anti-Islam, anti-immigration, ultra-anti-Islamic-immigration - I'm not quite sure what this all has to do with liberty when you don't openly apply it to all illiberal religions, but anyway ... Lead candidate Tony Robinson is a ring-in from WA, a Perth-based orthopedic surgeon who is also a director of a company behind the party.

VOTEFLUX: I'm not entirely sure if this flashy new entity is really a political party or a product advertisement, but anyway it is a new "delegative democracy" movement, the idea of which is that MPs represent their voters who vote electronically on particular bills (but can delegate their votes to other voters. Voteflux thinks this would lead to voters delegating their votes to specialists, but I very greatly doubt this).  In other words, direct democracy with proxies.  (Your host prefers indirect democracy; it's safer.) Lead candidate Adam Poulton is President of the Bitcoin Association of Australia.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers: Formerly Shooters and Fishers and seeking to broaden its support. The party is pro-gun, pro-hunting, pro-4WD, pro-fishing, pro-resource-industries and not surprisingly anti-Green.  The party holds upper house seats in three states.  Lead candidate Matthew Allen stood last time and is, unsurprisingly, a deer hunter (and also a builder and carpenter.)

Animal Justice Party: A philosophically radical animal rights party that holds one seat in the NSW upper house.  The Animal Justice Party opposes practically all killing of animals, humane or not (including when for environmental control reasons) and even opposes the sale of pets "other than from shelters or rescuers".  Lead candidate Karen Bevis is President of Vegetarian Tasmania and also has a background in the local health sector.

Science Party: Formerly the Future Party, the Science Party is a secularist, socially progressive rationalist-style party that supports the acceleration of technological development (some wild-eyed optimist tendencies may be detected in an otherwise agreeable platform).  Lead candidate Hans Willink is a former Liberal who in past campaigns invoked the ire of both the Liberal Party for using the colour blue, which it apparently owns, and also Andrew Wilkie.   He was also nearly elected to Clarence Council in 2014.  Willink has been endorsed by Mercury columnist and fellow ex-Liberal Greg Barns.  Support candidate Jin-oh Choi ran for the Secular Party last election.  The Science Party is active with signage and radio spots.

Unfortunately the Science Party website published unscientific nonsense about Senate reform during that debate and has been pinged for such in comments.

Australian Recreational Fishers Party: This new micro-party is also running in the Tasmanian Reps seats and has TV advertisements (!) Lead candidate Kevin Harkins has a controversial unionist past and was twice in line for federal ALP preselection only to have his efforts blown up by controversy about his past in one case and Kevin Rudd in another (the latter being apparently a case of mistaken identity).  He now works in alcohol and drug counselling. The party is opposed to "super-trawlers" but in most areas has similar policies to Labor.

Liberal Democrats: The party of accidental NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm, the LDP is a US-style ideological right-libertarian party that aims to support individual freedom in both social and economic areas but also in the ownership of dangerous guns.   Lead candidate Campbell Mead is our fourth interstate ring-in; he's the mayor of Campbelltown, NSW, and also ran in 2013 for Tasmania.

Arts Party: Self-explanatory given current debates about arts funding (for example).  Lead candidate Scott O'Hara is a professional Arts Manager and also writer, musician and more intriguingly exhibitor of an "augmented reality artwork at Sculpture By The Sea".

(Irrelevant NB: the "Plato" quote that pops up annoyingly on the Arts Party website is, even more annoyingly, apocryphal.)

Ungrouped column: The ungrouped column (which can only be voted for or preferenced BTL) includes the Anti-Paedophile Party (a somewhat ranty outfit that supports harsher penalties for child sex offenders and aims to make judges who it deems to have inadequately protected children "accountable"), the Mature Australia Party (which aims to promote the interests of senior citizens and has some rather silly populist political reform policies) and three independents.

Of the indies, Kaye Marskell is left-wing, Grant Russell thinks political correctness is the biggest problem society faces and George Lane is standing on a plank of "affordable housing, a revitalised forest industry and a new and independent foreign policy" and creaky youtube videos.  (Actually about six minutes in there is a fun bit where he refers to all the right-wing micro-parties "descending on this island like a pack of rabid demented hyenas".)


  1. Like the REP, the Science Party have also had a hand in spreading misinformation about the Senate Reforms. I actually gave them my first pref in the HoR in 2013 - I identified with their "the Greens, but Nerdier" image and their candidate in my electorate (one of only two they were contesting) was a friend of a friend.

    I dropped all support for them with disgust after reading their take on the senate reforms (struggling to find the link now) followed by the party leader's decidedly unscientific attempts to justify that position through the medium of immature facebook argument.

    1. The Science Party were advocating for a change to the Senate that wouldn't result in exhausted votes. Yes, we were upset with the changes, but certainly not spreading misinformation. Anyway, at this point we can just wait and see how many minor party votes end up exhausted due to the Senate changes and lack of information around it.

    2. Here's an example from the Science Party website, which I may not have dealt with before: http://www.scienceparty.org.au/senate_voting_changes_increases_risk_of_coalition_control , although I have addressed similar claims from other micro-parties.

      It's not a good sign that the analysis makes the completely baseless and shallow accusation that the point of reforms is to eliminate parties other than the "big three". The point of reform is actually to ensure that micro-parties are only elected when they have genuine voter support and not on dodgy preference deals. This has always been likely to reduce the number of micro-party winners (for a given type of election, DD vs DD, half-Senate vs half-Senate) and make the crossbench more workable (again for a specific type of election), but it has not been geared to eliminating it entirely. So that would seem to fail the scientific test of understanding the research question.

      It is true that if there is a high exhaust rate then that increases the chances of parties that would otherwise have won on each others' preferences missing out. However two likeminded parties competing with a third party in a system with exhaust have an advantage anyway. For instance in an election with 100% preference flows, if we treat the ALP + Greens as one combined ticket with 56% of the vote vs the Liberals with 44% then the split is 3-3, and we can split the ALP and Green votes up how we like, the Liberals will still win 3 as they have three quotas.

      But suppose we now exhaust 15% of the vote dropping the Liberals to 37.4% and ALP/Grns combined to 47.6. About one quota exhausts. It seems that the Liberals still win three because they have 2.618 quotas to ALP/Grn 3.332. But if the ALP/Grn split is such that, say, Labor has 2.666 quotas and the Greens have 0.666 quotas, then in fact the third Liberal is eliminated first and Labor win three, the Greens one and Liberals two because of 15% of votes exhausting, and in a case in which with no exhaust the split would have been 3-3.

      The analysis makes no mention of cases in which the left records "upsets" in their favour (acting as if all upsets must favour the Coalition) and yet I can construct such a case very easily.

      The fatal flaw of the analysis is that it has set the average Coalition vote at about 40% and average left vote at about 60% and therefore started with situations in which the left is expected to win four seats, ignoring that they are in practice rare and that expected 3-3 splits are by far the commoner scenario.

      joeldipops is correct: the analysis is unscientific rubbish and a true scientist who had published such would feel a moral duty to retract it.

  2. (Note in the above example I am assuming nearly all votes are down the party ticket. For a very high BTL rate a party might be ahead of its opponent on raw quotas and yet its opponent might get the seat.).

  3. Amazing work as always.

    One point though; In 2013 the Liberals didn't quite get a 5th quota so the 12th theoretical double dissolution seat would surely have gone to Lambie (or 11th I guess, the 12th seat being the second Green).

    1. Ta, fixed. Probably too used to saying the final seat involving Lambie would be unclear in a half-Senate election.

  4. Hi Kevin you have one of the candidate names wrong. It is not Richard Grant it is Grant Russell. The site you link to has it there.

  5. Hi Kevin,
    I wanted to add a few comments to your above analysis of VOTEFLUX.ORG

    Flux isn't a party like most others. We don't have any policies outside of parliamentary reform. The purpose of Flux is to introduce better decision making systems into Parliament.

    Flux is a platform to connect people and communities to the real political power they need to help Australia have the best policy we can. We use an internal voting system available to all Australian voters, and our Senators represent this vote as accurately as possible in parliament.

    Flux uses a system called Issue Based Direct Democracy. The idea is that we let Australians self-organise around the issues they feel most passionately about. Voters can have more of a say in some issues by giving up the ability to have a say in others.

    Flux will be running 2 senators in every state at the election.

  6. Thanks for the analysis and commentary Kevin. I will be voting BTL but unfortunately am still struggling to figure more than about 6 (some of each Lib, Lab and Ind) who I could honestly say are worth a vote. A very disappointing field. Keating's famous description still fits.

  7. Thanks Kevin for taking the time to write this. I've adjusted my BTL spreadsheet in light of it :-)

  8. I think that all candidates should be required to be on the electoral roll in the electorate they are standing for. Stop all blow-ins and help keep diversity in Parliament.


The comment system is unreliable. If you cannot submit comments you can email me a comment (via email link in profile) - email must be entitled: Comment for publication, followed by the name of the article you wish to comment on. Comments are accepted in full or not at all. Comments will be published under the name the email is sent from unless an alias is clearly requested and stated. If you submit a comment which is not accepted within a few days you can also email me and I will check if it has been received.