Australia 2010: Provisional Results

Full results of the 2010 federal election in Australia will likely take at very least a week to get, but a bit more than 24 hours after election day, the basic preliminary results are out. The basic patterns are known and a general picture of what happened can be painted. Here are the results – excluding postal votes and certain votes not yet counted. These results are not final.

House of Representatives

First Preference Count

Coalition 43.5% (+1.41%) winning 73 seats (+8)
Labor 38.51% (-4.87%) winning 73 seats (-10)
The Greens 11.42% (+3.63%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Family First 2.20% (+0.21%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Independents 2.57% (+0.35%) winning 3 seats (nc)
Others 1.8% winning 0 seats (nc)

2PP

Labor 50.67% (-2.03%) winning 73 seats (-10)
Coalition 49.33% (+2.03%) winning 73 seats (+8)

The above map shows the 2PP results as they currently stand in all divisions. Of course, these results may change, but it seems that the basic 2PP counts have been firmly established.

The pollsters were right, but nobody really gave much credence to the thought that no party would emerge with a majority. After all, such a thing hadn’t happened since the 1940 election. Unlike in the Queensland election in 2009 or even the South Australian election earlier in 2010, there was no late swing to the incumbent government, and instead there was a small (and insufficient) swing to the Coalition. As a result, the situation which has emerged is as confusing as ever. While the 2PP vote favours Labors – with roughly 50.5% – the seat count, as of now, favours the Coalition, albeit by only one seat. This result allows both Labor and the Coalition to play the card that they’re the first party and thus deserve an early start to the race for coalition allies. Furthermore, the all-important seat count between Labor and the Coalition can still change, and, as often happens in Australia, likely will. Here are the seven seats which I classify as ‘in doubt’, :

Boothby, SA (Liberal seat, 50.44% 2PP): Old, wealthy traditionally blue-ribbon seat in Adelaide. There has been a 2.37% swing to the ALP on the 2PP count since 2007. The Liberals should hold this seat narrowly.
Brisbane, QLD (ALP seat, 50.62% 2PP): Gentrifying, rather wealthy and professional inner-city seat covering Brisbane and some suburbs. Traditionally Labor, it has become marginal in recent years, despite Liberal loses in these type of seats since 1996. The LNP should gain this seat, based on the 5.28% swing to it since 2007. Labor would need a massive split in its favour in the postal votes to hold this seat, meaning that it could probably drop off this list.
Corangamite, VIC (ALP seat, 50.76% 2PP): A traditionally Liberal seat in south-west Victoria gained by Labor in 2007 (Labor’s first win since 1929), this seat was equally as marginal in 2007 and the swing against Labor was only 0.09%. Labor should hold this seat, though the Liberals have a fighting chance.
Denison, TAS (ALP seat, 50.64% 2PP): One of Labor’s safest seats in Tasmania in recent times, Denison covers central Hobart. Labor, despite a retiring member, was not supposed to have much trouble, but an independent, Andrew Wilkie, a former intelligence officer who resigned over the Iraq war and ran as a Green against Howard in Bennelong in 2004, could have won the seat easily on 2PP thanks to Liberal and Green preferences favouring him over the ALP. Yet, additional votes, which still confirm a Ind vs. ALP 2PP count, now have Labor back ahead of Wilkie on preferences, with 50.6% for the ALP on the latest 2PP count.
Dunkley, VIC (Liberal seat, 50.43% 2PP): A usually Liberal-leaning seat, albeit narrowly, since 1996, Dunkley is located in southern Melbourne, it seems like the Liberals have a tough fight to retain this seat after a 3.6% swing to the ALP which gives the Liberals only 50.4% on the latest 2PP count. The Liberals should retain this seat, but it will be close.
Hasluck, WA (ALP seat, 50.28% 2PP): Old marginal seat in Perth’s growing eastern suburbs, this seat is relatively middle-class but not a mortgage belt-type seat. Labor gained this seat from the Liberals in 2004, who had gained it from Labor that same year. Though Ken Wyatt (Lib) leads in his bid to be the first Aboriginal member of Parliament in Australia, postal votes could favour the ALP here, which means that a Liberal win is not a certainty.
Lindsay, NSW (ALP seat, 50.72% 2PP): A bellwether since its creation in 1984, Lindsay is the archetypal ‘Howard battlers’ and mortgage belt seat, an area of working-class roots but with high incomes and influenced by financial issues. It was a Liberal gain in 1996, but an internal war following the Liberal MP’s retirement in 2007 led to an unusually easy ALP gain in 2007 with 56.8% on the 2PP. The large 5.6% swing, though in line with large anti-ALP swings in Sydney, is also a correction of a ‘freak’ result in 2007. This seat seems to be going for Labor, so it could drop off this list.

    This is the first time since 1940 that neither the traditional left or the traditional right have a majority of seats. Given Australia’s voting system – AV is not proportional representation – and the resulting two-party system, it is rather unusual that such a situation happens and when it happens, like in 1940, it is caused by a flurry of independents or minor parties (in 1940, this was Lang’s NSW Labor outfit, in 2010, it’s the Greenies). However, this result reflects something quite sad about the state of politics in Australia. In the past, voters went to the polls and had a reason to vote in favour of somebody or vote against somebody: be it bad economic times, unpopular policy, a desire for change or a bad opposition being on offer. Julia Gillard led a poor campaign and didn’t provide a good reason of why to vote to return the government. Tony Abbott led a good campaign (or ran the least-worst campaign), but partly his ideology (quite right-wing) prevented ambivalent voters from swinging massively from the ALP to the Coalition unlike in 1996. The Coalition’s gain in primary votes is quite thin, which indicates that there was no massive direct swing from the ALP to the Coalition, again unlike 1996. Partly because of the nature of discontent with Labor’s record – a lot of more left-wing voters haven’t liked Labor’s shying away from tough climate change action or, to use Kevin Rudd’s words, lurk to the right on asylum seekers and the mining tax; and the fact that Abbott isn’t a man who can convince middle-of-the-road urban centrist liberal types from shifting their votes to him, the Greens did very well. They seem to have picked up two-thirds of Labor’s 2007 vote and they have won their best result ever (they are slightly lower than the Democrats’ 1990 record of 12.6%).

    The swings in this election have proved spotty, unusual and downright weird. Labor gained ground in three states, and lost ground in all others. The biggest swing against the ALP was in Queensland, where it suffered a 5.03% swing to the LNP in the 2PP reducing Labor’s 2PP in the state to 45.4%. Part of it is explainable by the unpopularity of the ALP state government, but Kevin Rudd, native son, played a huge role in helping Labor do so well in his home state in 2007. Now that he’s gone, and not extremely keen on helping the party which ousted him less than two months ago, it is obvious that conservative Queensland would swing to the right. A 4% swing to the Coalition in NSW is also explainable by the fact that the state government, led by Labor, is the most unpopular government in the country. Victoria swang 0.85% in Gillard’s way, the result of Gillard’s higher appeal in her home state – her biography is also responsible for a 1.13% swing to Labor in South Australia, a place where Gillard also has roots. The biggest swing to Labor, however, some inexplicably, came in Tasmania, where there was a 4.7% swing against the Coalition and resulted in Labor solidifying their narrow 2007 wins in Bass and Braddon. Western Australia’s small 1.71% swing away from Labor is surprisingly small, given the rumours that the mining tax would hurt Labor a lot in a state with an important mining industry which is raking up profits. That being said, the 6% swing against Labor in Durack (the new outback seat with some mines) does lend support to the idea that the mining tax did hurt Labor. In addition, Labor lost roughly 9% of first preference votes compared to 2007 in O’Connor, which includes some mining areas as well, though the unusual nature of the race muddies stuff up a bit. In the Northern Territory, there was a 4.83% swing to the Coalition (represented in the NT by the Country Liberals, CLP), which resulted in the ALP losing their narrow 2007 gain in Solomon, the Darwin-centered and military-driven seat.

    What is of interest, and of even more interest given who the kingmakers in the hung parliament are, are the swings within the states. According to the AEC’s classifications, there is a uniform pattern in the swings. Swings against Labor were highest in inner metropolitan areas (situated in capital cities and consisting of well-established built-up suburbs). In NSW, these areas saw a 6.6% swing against the ALP. As a result, certain ‘safe seats’ such as Banks – the 2PP count went from 60/39 for Labor to 51/49 for Labor – were unusually close. The swings in northern Sydney, the blue-ribbon posh areas of the city, were high – destroying Labor’s much talked about gains in seats such as Bennelong (John Howard’s seat, where he was defeated in 2007, turned back to the Liberals), North Sydney (a 8.6% swing in what was one the Liberal Party’s best areas), Warringah and Wentworth. That being said, aside from higher-than-average swings in North Sydney and Wentworth, the swing to the Coalition in Warringah, Bennelong, Bradfield, Mackellar were below the inner met average, indicating that Liberal loses in these blue-ribbon areas were not a fluke. Swings, however, were rather phenomenal in south and western Sydney, where the ‘average Joe’ usually lives. These areas, which have gotten wealthy in the past but retain some working-class roots and have a few immigrants, saw some big swings to the Coalition. Bank, as mentioned before, but also Fowler (13.2%), Barton (7.9%) and Werriwa (7.9%). In these inner – and outer – metro areas, Labor lost lots of support to the Greens as well – who did well in posh areas such as Wentworth or Bradfield. The swing against Labor in inner-metro areas was 3.7% nationally (against a 2% swing in all Australia). The issue of asylum seekers might have hurt Labor in these urban areas, especially the ‘average Joe’ area type suburbs. Swings, however, were lower in provincial and rural areas. Even in NSW, they were only 1.5% or so against Labor, which explains why Labor held on in marginals like Robertson (NSW) while they faced a tougher race in Banks. Labor’s support for rural broadband might explain these swings a bit.

    The Nationals haven’t done all that badly overall, their result might stop, for some time, the talk of a Liberal/National merger like in Queensland (where they formed the LNP). While the official seat count is 7 seats for the Nats against 10 in 2007, one must remember that the 2010 results for the Nationals exclude Queensland where the Nationals no longer exist. Counting Queensland, where the Nationals elected 4 of their own (including their leader), the Nationals have 11 seats, a gain of one against 2007. Their most shocking gain came in Western Australia, where Tony Crook knocked off very controversial Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey in O’Connor, which was massively redrawn since 2007. On Labor prefs, Crook beat Tuckey 54-46 on the 2PP count. Tony Crook and the WA Nationals are more independent from the Liberals than the national party is, meaning that within the Coalition’s likely 73 members, one is a major maverick figure who could be won over by Labor – after all, a National-Labor deal is actually not unheard of. That makes matters even more muddy.

    The Greens have performed strongly, as usual, in densely populated CBDs (central business districts) and inner-suburban neighborhoods. They easily gained their top target of Melbourne from the ALP, after winning roughly 46% of the 2PP vote there in 2007. In two of the ALP’s ultra safe seats – the old working-class divisions of Batman (Melbourne) and Grayndler (Sydney), they outpaced the Liberals to face the ALP on second preferences, highlighting the changing nature of these seats. That being said, the ALP still won Batman 58/42 on 2PP, but in ultra-safe Grayndler, the Greens managed roughly 45% on 2PP. In Sydney (the division), the ALP was very lucky the Liberals outpaced the Greens for the 2PP count, allowing Labor to hold the seat by a huge margin, because they could very well have lost the seat to the Greenies if the Greens had gotten on the 2PP count. However, the Greens also did relatively well in the ‘bush’, probably highlighting a new environmental conscience in these areas hit in recent years by droughts and bush fires. Their real success, however, came in the Senate.

    Senate

    incomplete provisional results – subject to change

    Coalition winning 18 seats (-3) for a total of 34 seats (-3)
    Labor winning 15 seats (-1) for a total of 31 seats (-1)
    The Greens winning 6 seats (+4) for a total of 9 seats (+4)
    Family First winning 0 seats (-1) for a total of 0 seats (-1)
    Democratic Labor Party winning 1 seat (+1) for a total of 1 seat (+1)
    No Pokies – Nick Xenophon winning 0 seats for a total of 1 seat (nc)

    The Coalition lost ground, comparatively, in the Senate because these seats were last up in 2004, where Howard had managed to win a majority for the Coalition in the Senate. It was only obvious that the Liberals would lose seats from their 2004 sowing, how many being the main question. A loss of only three seats is quite good, given how good the 2004 series was for the Coalition. That being said, as in 2007, the balance of power still rests with the Greens, who almost doubled their seats. A look at the results by state are instructive (all parties breaking 1% are included):

    NSW: Coalition 39.14% (3), ALP 37.09% (2), GRN 10.43% (1), Shooters 2.29%, LDP 2.04%, CDP 1.97%, Sex 1.73%
    Victoria: ALP 38.67% (2), Coalition 34.3% (2), GRN 14.36% (1), FFP 2.69%, DLP 2.23% (1), Sex 2.23%, LDP 1.65%, Shooters 1.33%
    QLD: LNP 41.41% (3), ALP 29.77% (2), GRN 12.83% (1), FFP 3.5%, Sex 2.54%, LDP 2.05%, Fishing and Lifestyle 1.95%, Shooters 1.66%
    WA: Liberal 43.84% (3), ALP 29.76% (2), GRN 14.01% (1), Nationals 2.7%, Sex 2.14%, CDP 1.82%, LDP 1.21%, FFP 1.09%
    SA: ALP 39% (2), Liberal 36.89% (3), GRN 13.31% (1), FFP 4.07%, Sex 1.65%, Shooters 1.1%
    Tasmania: ALP 42.13% (3), Liberal 32.73% (2), GRN 20.26% (1), Shooters 1.93%, FFP 1.22%
    ACT: ALP 41.71% (1), Liberal 33.41% (1), GRN 23.22%, DEM 1.66%
    NT: CLP 41.24% (1), ALP 34.59% (1), GRN 13.96%, Shooters 4.93%, Sex 4.46%

    The major highlight of the Senate results was the success of the Greens, taking a Senate seat in each state. Albeit in 2004 they came agonizingly close to taking a seat in Victoria, they were beaten out on preferences by Family First’s Steve Fielding. Now, based on their strong showing nationally and their strength in all main states, it was only normal that they would manage to do so well. In the ACT, they missed out on a seat partly because of the Liberals’ natural ground in the ACT (they’re guaranteed roughly 30% of the vote there) and apparently because preferences from the Democrats didn’t favour them enough. Ironically, the ACT was the party’s strongest showing of all states and their result there is up there with the best ever results for a green party in the world.

    In a massive blast from the past, it seems like the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) is on track to win the last seat in Victoria. This DLP is not legally the same as the old Catholic anti-communist one from the 60s, but it is ancestrally the same and is just as socially conservative and economically left-wing as the old DLP. It has a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council since 2006, and has usually managed to poll 1-2% in Victoria in the past, but nobody cared about it. Now, thanks to one of the freak results that mandatory preferencing in STV produced, similar to the fluke which Steve Fielding’s 2004 win for Family First in Victoria was. It remains to be seen if postal votes can keep the DLP up or if the last seat will go to the ALP or maybe Family First, but it would be very funny and a massive blast from the past if the DLP won a Senator. It would be the first DLPer elected federally since 1974.

    The Future

    And thus, the political future of a G20 country now depends on the decisions of five men. One Green and three Independents who hold the balance of power. Unlike in other countries where a party with a caucus has the balance of power and is easier to deal with because they actually have a program of their own, in Australia the outcome hinges on the decisions of five men who, though they might be good friends and might have some common roots, are different persons who represent different types of electorates.

    On one hand, you have the first Green elected in a general election – Adam Bandt in Melbourne. Helped by the retirement of high-profile Labor incumbent Lindsay Tanner, the Greens seized on their 2007 showing – they had beat the Liberals to come second in the 2PP count – the result of a sociological shift from being a working-class inner-city district to a gentrifying, young professional urbane seat. Bandt polled 36.1% on first prefs, behind Labor but far ahead of the Liberals; and won with Liberal preferences over Labor in the 2PP with 55.7%. Bandt already said that he favours Labor in case of a hung parliament, hardly surprising given that Tony Abbott’s Liberals are continents away from the Greens on policy issues such as the environment or gay rights.

    Andrew Wilkie, mentioned above, if he wins – is counted as a left-wing independent. A former intelligence analyst who split with the government over Iraq in 2003, he was a Green until recently and it’s extremely hard to see him back a Liberal government, both because of his ideological differences with them and the nature of his seat.

    Therefore, the fate of Australia really depends on three entrenched independents from Queensland and NSW. Bob Katter, originally a National, has represented the huge rural seat of Kennedy in Queensland since 1993, and has won re-election since then, even after becoming an independent in 2001. He won 68.7% of the 2PP vote in Kennedy this year. A maverick within the Nats, where he was known as ‘mad Bob’ because of his penchant for being crazy, he is a protectionist and favours a 10% duty on all goods entering Australia. Although he’s a right-winger, he is far from being a guaranteed ally of the Coalition, with whom he’s had his share of problems.

    Tony Windsor, a former state MP, has held the rural NSW electorate of New England since 2001. He hasn’t been a member of the Nationals since 1991, the year where he became a state MP as an independent. He won re-election this year with 71.6% against the Nats on 2PP and over 62% on first prefs. Described as a social progressive and economic conservative, he has even less ties with the Nats than Katter and is also not a guaranteed vote for the right.

    The most recent Independent MP is Rob Oakshott, who has held the rural seat of Lyne (NSW) since a 2008 by-election. A former state MP, he easily defeated the Nats, defending the seat, winning over 60% of 2PP votes. He won 62.4% of the 2PP vote this year. A close friend and ally of Tony Windsor, he’s similar to him politically and the same rule about him not being a guaranteed vote for the right applies.

    Thus, the three main Independents will likely be ‘bought’ by one side or the other with material arguments, such as goodies for their areas and advantages for rural Australia. Labor’s support for rural broadband access – opposed by Abbott – may come into play here, but the Coalition might have an advantage with them on basis of their centre-right ideological leanings as well as the (now outdated) argument that since they have more seats than Labor they deserved to form government. The Coalition’s chances of winning the 3 main indies to their side depends on them winning more seats than Labor. If they don’t, their chances decline dramatically.

    Though minority governments are not common in Australia, they aren’t unheard of and the parliaments of Tasmania and the ACT currently are minority governments, the ACT has been one since 2008 although Tasmania has only had a minority since the March election. In several states, minority administrations backed by independents have not been that unstable, which could mean that a new federal election this year or early next year isn’t as likely as some make it to be. That being said, given the Labor/Green Senate numbers, it is arguable that a Labor government would be most stable because a Liberal government in the House could see a lot of its legislation blocked by a more left-leaning Senate, resulting, perhaps, in an early double dissolution election. A Labor government in the House would certainly have less trouble in the Senate than a Liberal one.

    As results become finalized, new posts will be made with correct information and results, as well as more analysis and maps of the results. For now, this is just a basic overview of the main outlines of the results thus far and a look at what the future holds.

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    Posted on August 23, 2010, in Australia. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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