Australia 2010: Final(ish) Results

Australia voted on August 21, but the nature of the Australian electoral system and the closeness of this particular election means that the election is still anything from over. In the last post on Australia, over a week ago, I looked at the provisional results and tried to explain the basic results and analyse what happened even if the results were still anything but clear. You can read it here. While a majority of seats have yet to be formally declared and a splattering of votes remain uncounted, the seat total finally appears to be finalized and extremely likely to stick.

House of Representatives

First Preference Count

Coalition1 43.64% (+1.55%) winning 73 seats (+8)
Labor 37.98% (-5.41%) winning 72 seats (-11)
The Greens 11.74% (+3.95%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Family First 2.25% (+0.26%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Independents 2.53% (+0.31%) winning 4 seats (+1)
Others 1.86% winning 0 seats (nc)

2PP2

Coalition 50.01% (+2.71%) winning 73 seats (+8)3
Labor 49.99% (-2.72%) winning 72 seats (-11)

1 Includes the individual FPVs of the Liberal, Liberal National, National, WA National and Country Liberal Parties
2 Currently includes only the 142 divisions which had a classic Coalition vs. ALP result; thus excluding 8 divisions
3 Includes Tony Crook, a WA National, who will be a crossbencher

A few remarks are important about these results, most notable of which are the three superscript numbers. These results, which are taken from the AEC, are still not entirely final and the finer decimals will still move a bit. The results, however, do remain quite misleading. I have personally summed the results for the Coalition as a whole (the actual breakdown by party being Liberal 30.4%, LNP 9.2%, Nats 3.7%, CLP 0.3%), but these includes votes, all 42,751 of them, for the WA Nationals, who won one seat (O’Connor) but who are not allied closely with the Liberals like the national Nats are. Furthermore, while Tony Crook, the new WA National member for O’Connor is included by the ABC and myself in the coalition’s total seat count, it might be more accurate to count him as a crossbencher along with the four independents and Adam Bandt. This would in turn reduce the Coalition to 72 seats, tied with Labor, and increase the overall crossbench to six. Lastly, while the Coalition has a 2,698 vote lead over Labor in the 2PP results, this all-important count excludes eight seats where the two-candidate preferred result was not “classic” (meaning that one or more minor party or an independent was in the final count). These seats, thus excluded from the count (which is the 2PP count for 142/150 divisions), are Batman, Denison, Grayndler, Kennedy, Lyne, Melbourne, New England and O’Connor. Batman and Grayndler are also some of the Coalition’s worst areas in the country, and neither Melbourne nor Denison are particularly favourable to the Coalition either. Antony Green, Australia’s election god, has called the AEC’s current 2PP results useless and indicates that an accurate 2PP result would have Labor higher, and possibly leading. While these eight seats will one day be counted on the final 2PP count, as of now they are not included until a ‘scrutiny for information’ is done after vote counting is totally done. The AEC says than in a scrutiny for information each of the formal ballot papers is allocated to either the ALP or Coalition candidate depending on which candidate got the highest preference on the ballot paper. It would therefore be intellectually dishonest for the Coalition to claim a victory on the basis of 2PP results, but sadly intellectual honesty isn’t a prized value in contemporary politics.

A week ago, I had classified seven seats as being ‘in doubt’, which was a generous definition, or at least one quite a bit larger than the ABC’s definition. Since then, only one seat has changed hands, that seat being Denison where Labor’s narrow 2PP lead over the independent Andrew Wilkie proved to be short-lived. With almost all votes counted there, Wilkie has been elected with 51.2% of the 2PP vote. In Boothby, the Liberals held on with 50.8%, they gained Brisbane with 51.1%, held Dunkley with 51% and gained Hasluck 50.6%. Labor’s hold in Corangamite is narrow, but with 50.41% on 2PP, it seems to have held on. Likewise in Lindsay, where it has 51.18% of the 2PP votes, a “comfortable” hold. All in all, no seat is in doubt at this point, meaning that most postal ballots and those kind of pre-poll and special votes have been counted.

Now that counting is pretty much done, a list of gains and a look at the swings becomes more useful.

Labor has gained two seats, but lost thirteen seats (including eleven to the Coalition). Here is a list of gains, excluding notional gains or holds:

Solomon (CLP gain from ALP): Darwin and Palmerston, held by the CLP until 2007.
Melbourne (Green gain from ALP): Inner Melbourne. The Green Adam Bandt won a traditionally Labor seat by a wide margin, helped by demographic changes and the retirement of the ALP’s sitting member.
Denison (Ind gain from ALP): Hobart and suburbs. The left-wing independent Andrew Wilkie won one of Labor’s safest Tasmanian seats on Green and Liberal preferences.
Bennelong (Lib gain from ALP): North Shore Sydney suburbs. A key seat gained by Labor’s Maxime McKew over then-PM John Howard in the memorable 2007 election, McKew lost to former tennis player John Alexander.
Hasluck (Lib gain from ALP): Metropolitan suburban Perth. The Liberals’ Ken Wyatt becomes Australia’s first aboriginal member of the House.
Macquarie (Lib gain from ALP): NSW’s Blue Mountains and the far exurbs of Sydney. Gained by Labor in 1993 (lost in 1996) and gained again in 2007 (and lost again in 2010).
Bonner (Lib/LNP gain from ALP): Brisbane’s inner eastern suburbs. Former inaugural Liberal MP Ross Vasta has gained back his old seat, lost in 2007.
Brisbane (Lib/LNP gain from ALP): Inner Brisbane and inner Brisbane suburbs. Boundary changes have played a large role in Labor’s loss in this seat represented by a Labor member since 1980.
Dawson (Nat/LNP gain from ALP): Coastal central Queensland seat. The National Party’s shock defeat in 2007 after a 13.2% swing to Labor has been erased, with the LNP’s George Christensen winning the seat rather easily.
Flynn (Nat/LNP gain from ALP): Inland central Queensland seat with an important mining industry. Created in 2007, the seat’s inaugural Labor member has been defeated.
Forde (Nat/LNP gain from ALP): Outer southern Brisbane. Another Queensland seat gained by the ALP over the Liberals in 2007 with a massive swing (14.4%), and another loss for Labor.
Leichardt (Lib/LNP gain from ALP): Cairns and Cape York peninsula in northern Queensland. A pro-incumbent seat gained by Labor after the Liberal member’s retirement, Labor incumbent Jim Turnour easily fell on a large 8.6% swing to the right.
Longman (Lib/LNP gain from ALP): Caboolture and southern Sunshine Coast. Labor’s Jon Sullivan could unseat a high-profile cabinet minister (Mal Brough) in 2007, but he could not hold on against the 20-year old Liberal Wyatt Roy, who becomes the youngest member ever elected.
La Trobe (ALP gain from Lib): Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. Labor ended twenty years of Liberal domination with a very narrow win over sitting Liberal MP Jason Wood.
McEwen (ALP gain from Lib): Central Victoria. With a swing to Labor in the state and a retiring incumbent, Liberals had little hope of holding on to their narrow 27-vote majority in the most marginal seat in the country as of the 2007 election.

Psephos has a preliminary list of two-party swings in each division here. The general patterns were noted in the last post, with the biggest anti-Labor swings being recorded in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Queensland, of course, has a lot to do with an inflated vote for Labor in 2007 when native boy Kevin Rudd led the party, and the state government’s unpopularity has not helped matters for Labor. While NSW’s swings was not uniform throughout the state, with some huge swings against Labor in Sydney but smaller swings against it in rural or coastal NSW, the basic reason for NSW’s swing is the unpopularity of the state government. On the other hand, Labor suffered only a 0.01% swing in Julia Gillard’s home state of Victoria (with large swings to Labor in Melbourne and especially in Gillard’s seat of Lalor) and gained ground in South Australia (where Gillard has roots) and Tasmania. In South Australia, it is apparently Labor’s best result since 1972 while the Coalition’s result in Tasmania is one of its worst results ever (if not the worst result ever). Interestingly, both South Australia and Tasmania recently re-elected state Labor governments and Victoria is likely do so come October. The 1.92% swing against Labor in Western Australia is surprisingly low, given the popularity of the Liberal state government and the mining tax’s effect, but the question mark with the Nationals’ number and all that has probably fudged stuff there a bit.

The swings within Sydney were looked at in the last post, and the general results remain the same though numbers have changed. Some of Labor’ safest seats in Sydney, as well as some of the Coalition’s safest seats in Sydney, saw large swings against Labor. The largest swing in the country, Fowler’s 13.2% swing to the Coalition can perhaps be explained by the factional wrangling in this redrawn seat which saw a transfer of members to accommodate high-profile Left member Laurie Ferguson left homeless after her old division was abolished. Fowler being dominated by the ALP Right, it seems like the party’s bigwigs moved Werriwa’s Right MP Chris Hayes to Fowler to give Ferguson the seat of Werriwa. The second highest swing (11.3%) came in former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth. Here as in other posh urban divisions, Labor bled a lot of votes to the Greenies, likely the result of a 2007 posh social liberal urbanite ALP vote moving to the Greens with frustration by these posh small-l liberals over Labor’s backtrack on climate change policy and the like. In Wentworth in particular, Turnbull’s moderate stance on the ETS while he was leader might have helped him win the preferences of Greenies, the Greenies nearly overtaking Labor here. Canning (WA)’s swing to Labor seems to explainable by a top-notch ALP candidate (who still didn’t win). The bottom line in the swings is that while patterns are to be seen, some surprise and in other cases the expected patterns aren’t there. The question mark over swings in this election fits in well with the general question mark about this election as a whole.

On a side note for those interested in Australia’s country party, the Nationals have overall managed 13 seats, 6 of which are officially counted as LNP seats and one of which is held by crossbencher Tony Crook. This represents, overall, a gain of two seats for the party. It could perhaps put the lid, for some time, on talks about further state-level mergers between Liberals and Nationals, though the National’s performance in Victoria come the October elections in that state will perhaps be of more interest in the world of rural politics in Australia.

As expected, the Greens have signed a confidence-and-supply deal with Labor and Denison’s independent centre-left MP Andrew Wilkie has also gone with Labor. Though Tony Crook made his intentions unclear, declaring that he wanted more money for his state (the WA Nationals have a rather fruitful policy of ‘royalties for regional Australia’) and that he could support Labor if they scrapped the mining tax, he will support Abbott, though it seems more as an independent vote for him than a whipped party vote. This gives Labor’s Julia Gillard the support of 74 votes against 73 votes for Abbott. To put it in an overly dramatic way, three men will decide the fate of a G20 economy.

The three kingmakers

As previously mentioned, these three rather experienced and in some cases long-time members were all members, at some point in time (albeit sometimes in past decades) of the Nationals. They all represent seats classified as rural and they have often been seen as a kind of bloc. While they talked as a bloc, they will not vote as a bloc. Their decision is due to fall on Tuesday afternoon Australian time. All three have secured some parliamentary reform which includes an independent speaker, time limits on question period and an “acknowledgment of country” at the start of every parliamentary sitting day. If all three back Abbott, he has the 76 seats he need. Vice-versa, if they back Gillard, she has 77, one more than an absolute majority of 76 seats. While a 75-75 deadlock is possibility, it is a remote one at best given that the independents have indicated that they will work to avoid such a result. Rob Oakeshott has said that in such a case, one of the three would need to reconsider their decision in order to break the deadlock in such a scenario. All three seem to agree that stable government is a major point in their decision process, which could give Labor-Greens an edge given their Senate advantage. That being said, rumours indicate that the three seem more likely to back the Coalition and polls in their respective divisions show that local voters would prefer they back the Coalition (which isn’t surprising given their seats). Polls also show that Australians would prefer that the independents back Labor, though voting intentions for a new election give the Coalition an advantage.

Senate

incomplete provisional results – subject to change

Coalition winning 17 seats (-4) for a total of 33 seats (-4)
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 1 seat (nc) for a total of 1 seat (nc)
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)

NSW: Coalition 39.18% (3), ALP 36.69% (2), GRN 10.42% (1), Shooters 2.35%, LDP 2.26%, CDP 1.95%, Sex 1.76%
Victoria: ALP 38.07% (2), Coalition 34.42% (2), GRN 14.53% (1), FFP 2.63%, DLP 2.3% (1), Sex 2.23%, LDP 1.8%, Shooters 1.36%
QLD: LNP 41.57% (3), ALP 29.35% (2), GRN 12.67% (1), FFP 3.45%, Sex 2.59%, LDP 2.23%, Fishing and Lifestyle 2%, Shooters 1.74%
WA: Liberal 43.19% (3), ALP 29.73% (2), GRN 13.86% (1), Nationals 3.41%, Sex 2.23%, CDP 1.81%, LDP 1.16%, FFP 1.15%
SA: ALP 39.1% (2), Liberal 36.53% (2), GRN 13.30% (1), FFP 4.14% (1), Sex 1.67%, Shooters 1.11%
Tasmania: ALP 41.47% (3), Liberal 33.1% (2), GRN 20.37% (1), Shooters 2.02%, FFP 1.23%
ACT: ALP 41.52% (1), Liberal 33.92% (1), GRN 22.83%, DEM 1.73%
NT: CLP 40.88% (1), ALP 34.6% (1), GRN 13.63%, Sex 5.14%, Shooters 4.82%

Again, repeating past analysis made last week is a waste of time, so more analysis on the Senate results and what they mean is found in last week’s post. The notable change is that Family First, while losing their Victorian seat, might have gained one off the Liberals in South Australia in the person of millionaire and the party’s federal chairman Bob Day who is also an ex-Liberal. Needless to say, it’s hard to see him being a swing vote. The DLP seems to be on track to winning the final seat in Victoria off of Family Firster incumbent Steve Fielding, which is somewhat good for Labor given that the DLP is more likely to side with them (at least on economic issues) than the FFP is. Of course, in the realm of political history nerdiness, the return of (re-grouped) groupers to Parliament is hilarious.

The good results of various rural protest parties such as Shooters and, in the Queensland, some Lifestyle outfit, is notable, likely an effect of the propensity of voters to vote for protest parties where they feel it doesn’t matter much. Shooters won over 6% in New England, and won over 4% in large swathes of rural NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Fishing and Lifestyle won over 6% in Kennedy and Leichardt. There seems to be no major notable pattern in the votes for the Sex Party, though it polled well in the Northern Territory.

This election is almost over, but the big point of any election – who forms government – has yet to be decided. It’s anybody’s call (well, technically, it’s the call of three men) as to whether Abbott or Gillard is in the top job come Wednesday or Thursday this week.

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Posted on September 6, 2010, in Australia. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Eventually, Labor got the support of 3 independents and thus formed a one-MP majority government. No idea how solid this government will be, but at least Australia is safe from the mad monk… Also, it now appears that Labor has won the 2PP (according to wikipedia).

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