48 thoughts on “Australian election

  1. I really have no informed guess and this is the first election in some time where that is true. The polls are showing slightly different results. ABC summary. Tasmania looks much better for Labor than at the start of the campaign. South Australia is simply beyond prediction because of a huge surge in NXT support which may make for a number of three cornered contests. My gut says a hung parliament but it’s hopelessly unreliable.

    So here is an eccentric list of districts that I think will be interesting:

    any seat in SA: no-one really knows what it is happening because of an apparent NXT surge
    any seat in Tas: the three Liberal marginals eats appear to be in trouble. The ALP will hold their seat and the independent will hold the fifth seat
    New England NSW: provincial seat with deputy prime minister versus former independent member from the previous parliament
    Grayndler and Sydney NSW*: inner metropolitan seats where Greens threaten the ALP deputy leader and the runner up in the last ALP leadership contest
    Indi VIC: former Coalition member trying to regain seat from independent member after a disastrous campaign start
    Batman and Wills VIC: possible Greens gain from ALP
    Eden-Monaro NSW: whoever wins here has won government at every election since 1972

    *The ALP hate the Greens running against them in inner metropolitan seats, but the Greens (not unreasonably) answer that is where their supporters are.

  2. Yikes. When I went to bed at 1am the AEC was still counting and the ABC was reporting Coalition 73, Labor 67, 5 Other and Doubtful 5. The Coalition was expected to win a narrow majority and form a government. The AEC was then counting preroll and postal votes which historically favour the Coalition. Well they counted for another hour while I slept and the ABC are now reporting Coalition 67, Labor 67, Other 5 and Doubtful 11. Of the Doubtful seats they show Labor ahead in 6 and the Coalition ahead in 5.

    The Greens made gains but no breakthrough in inner metropolitan seats and stay at 1. The Nationals won New England handsomely. NXT won 2 seats in South Australia. Tasmania gave Labor 3 seats.

    The AEC does not plan to resume counting until Tuesday while they move the ballots to central counting locations from the 150 divisional counting centres. Obviously they did not expect there would be no result on the night and I’d guess at least some candidates will wake to an unpleasant surprise.

    I can only surmise that the postals and prepoll votes were completely different from the expectations of the pundits. The raw results without any of the ABC’s prediction software are here.

    The AEC shows Labor at 72 and Doubtful at 7. The magic number is 76. Of the Others, at minimum the Green, the independent in Denison and the independent in Indi can be expected to support a Labor government. Labor will win Grayndler where they are at 46.7% and the Greens are running third at 21.87%, so the likely government at 5am is different from what was thought at 1am.

  3. Don’t trust opinion polls, it looks like it is a hung parliament as of this point. Is possible for the coalition to win a majority albeit slender, what a waste of time calling for a Double Dissolution, and the Senate is even more fragmented. There is less stability and more political drama, it won’t end. Amazing, the country with one of the best electoral systems has an unclear result, something must be going on in Western Countries, every one is unhappy with the major parties. The John Howard years weren’t so bad after all.

  4. The collapse of the Palmer United Party in Queensland appears to have led to an increase in support for One Nation, Pauline Hanson’s far-right anti-immigration party. On current figures, One Nation has ended up with 9.2% of the vote in Queensland, ahead of the Greens. This will ensure Hanson’s election to a seat, but the party will then have only have .2 of a quota, making a second seat unlikely. The party also appears to be in contention for a seat in NSW and WA, with about half a quota in each.

    This result has caused certain people to blame the reformed Senate system for the likely election of Hanson. Leaving aside that Hanson was nearly elected in 2013 in NSW partially off deals from the Sex and Animal Justice Parties (only stopped by the high accidental Liberal Democrat vote), I recall many of those opposed to Senate reform arguing that the system would destroy the minor parties, and ensure a Senate dominated by the Coalition, Labor and Greens. Now that certain minor parties are likely to succeed in winning election, the reformed system apparently encourages extremists. It’s all somewhat confusing…

    • It’s only because of the double dissolution halving the quota. That anti-deadlock procedure is a poison pill.

      • Rob, had this only been a half-Senate election, Hanson would be well on the way to a seat, especially given that most of the smaller parties are right-wing.

      • Six years ago, the Australian Right, bless their excitable little hearts, did the sums and worked out that if you took the exact same ballots as had been cast in the 2010 federal election, by voters who had been told their votes would be counted preferentially, but only counted the first preferences alone, the Liberals under Tony Abbott would have won and Julia Gillard would not have been Prime Minister.
        Since Julia Gillard was such an obviously bad Prime Minister – opinion polls consistently showed that at least 98.3% of Australians preferred Tony Abbott, or for that matter, Genghis Khan, to her – this was a Very Bad Black Mark against preferential voting. The Australian Right, however, had the answer. Australia should reintroduce FPTP! (or even better, should retrospectively recount the 2010 ballots cast, but only their first preferences.)
        Unfortunately the Fairfax Media and the ABC persuaded the High Court to nix this idea.
        Now, the Australian Right are pointing that Malcolm Turnbull has munged up the Senate voting system by making it, not too preferential like the House of Reps system in 2010, but *not preferential enough*. Look, it elected Pauline Hanson in Queensland!
        The Right seems not yet decided whether Ms Hanson is
        (a) a solid choice for conservative voters who are disaffected with the small-L Liberal Turnbull and want to punish him for his treachery in plotting against Tony Abbott (yes, that is the same Tony Abbott who was instrumental in getting Hanson sent to jail back in 2003, but, err… Look! Over there! Duncan Storrar!), or
        (b) a neo-protectionist demon whom Turnbull has foolishly unleashed upon the parliament due to his hubris in changing the Senate rules,
        – but either way, they are currently agreed that her victory is on Turnbull (and when they do agree on how to categorise Hanson, boy, will they be in lockstep.)
        Never mind that Queensland elected a One Nation Senator back in 1998 when the system was fully preferential and there were only six seats to go around: never mind that Hanson was very lucky that Islamic terrorist attacks in Orlando, Istanbul and Bangladesh were all over the news just before polling day. It’s all the fault of optional preferences!
        Now you see why the British National Party opposed AV in 2011…

      • Tom, I think it would be remiss not to point out the Labor partisans, who, still desperate to rationalise their party’s opposition to the reforms, are now claiming that the election of Hanson is the fault of the Senate reforms. Of course, excluding the fact that Hanson would almost certainly be elected whether this were a half-Senate or double dissolution under any system, I seem to recall that at the time Labor presented the reforms as an evil Coalition-Greens plot to lock out the minor parties. Now a minor party with substantial support has been elected under the new system, the system has turned into one that inherently favours the far-right minor parties.

    • Yep, Labor too, federal and State. Plenty of blame to go around there. Gough Whitlam’s mighty corpse is spinning in its grave as his heirs argue for compulsory full preferential voting (while also complaining that optional preferential Senate voting has disenfranchised more of its supporters than usual in Western Sydney).
      Apparently the shearers at Barcaldine died for the right to number all ten squares on a House of Reps ballot-paper, but only one single square on a Senate ballot-paper. Or something.
      The really odd thing about Queensland reverting to full-preferential is that I knew some of the senior movers at university three decades ago and they were all big fans of first-past-the-post, again because if you looked only at the first preferences cast under a full-preferential system. Labor usually a plurality (almost always in Queensland, where the two conservative parties were both polling 20% or above: less so in, say, South Australia where the Nationals barely existed, although SA seems to throw up other rivals, usually with vaguely “X-Men”-sounding names, to take 15-20% off the Libs).

  5. This is clearly an electoral system under pressure because it does not reflect the party system that has emerged since 2000.

    Malcolm Turnbull has been weakened drastically by this result, and may well lose the prime ministership in the near future, even if he wins a knife-edge majority. That would mean the seventh government since 2007, the sixth prime minister, and the fourth prime minister deposed by their own party in that time.

    I thought single member districts were supposed to prevent this kind of instability. Or not…

  6. Interesting election result, another hung parliament, more women represented in the lower house, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-04/election-boosts-number-of-women-mps/7568402

    Women in the last House election represented 26 percent of the vote and now up to a possible 32 percent. Wow, what is the highest representation women in a legislative body that uses Single Member Districts? We all know that women are better represented in countries with proportional representation, but is women’s representation better, the same, or worse with a open party list systems, and/or single transferable vote system?

  7. Having secured the support of Bob Katter and two independents, the only threat for the next couple of years to Turnbull remaining as Prime Minister is an internal Liberal Party coup.

    • The threat to Turnbull remaining in office for the next 2 or 3 weeks is his own backbench who are furious over the disastrous election result for the Coalition.

      The right of the Liberal Party is publicly referring to Turnbull and his supporters as bedwetters. Katter has offered confidence and supply on the condition of ‘absolutely no union-bashing’. Wilkie and McGowan are even more restrained in their enthusiasm.

      It will only take 3 anti-bedwetting Liberals to cross the floor (assuming the cross bench stays solid in the face of a party revolt) and the government is over. Their immediate demands are no same sex marriage plebiscite and the return of Tony Abbot to the frontbench. Granting either demand would be tantamount to Turnbull’s own resignation.

      Strangely enough the threat of Liberals crossing the floor to bring down the government is what ultimately destroyed John Gorton back in 1971 and started the trend of Australian parties devouring their own leaders.

      • Menzies is a relatively isolated case not so much of caucus removal as of party collapse. After 1941 there would not be another removal for 30 years. Only Rudd, among Menzies’ successors as deposed prime ministers, would ever regain office and that was a very brief period unlike Menzies’ 17 years.

        By contrast Gorton to Hawke was 22, Hawke to Rudd was 17, Rudd to Gillard was 3, Gillard to Abbot was 2, and Turnbull to X could be less than 1. With a huge proportion of the electorate now voting Green, minor party or independent the prime ministerial depositions are not going to slow down.

      • Okay, I see what you mean. (One could argue that Menzies’ second act scared Liberal Party MPs away from coveting thy leader’s chair). However, it should be noted that it’s not Greens MPs or Independent MHRs who have forced changes of Prime Ministers. The only two cases I can think of in recent decades where the cross-bench forced a Premier to either resign or go to an early election, both at State level, were NSW in 1992 and Queensland in 1983. In Greiner’s case he resigned because an independent commission had found he’d acted corruptly (admitted, on a very broad reading of the law). In Bjelke-Petersen’s case, he went to an early election because a three-decade old coalition had collapsed acrimoniously. (And quaere whether one could really describe the Queensland Liberals – who had outpolled the Nationals in popular votes at every election before 1980, and who were the State branch of the much more dominant conservative party across the nation – as a “minor” party).

      • Im not talking about the action of representatives. Trying to win >50% of the seats from 77% pf the electors is already a big ask and as the non-major slice of the electorate gets bigger so will the ask. It was not necessarily purity of heart that led most European elites to adopt PR.

  8. Shorten just conceded defeat. It is still unclear if the Coalition will win 77, 76, 75 or 74 seats.

  9. It looks like the coalition will win 1 seat, so it is a bare majority government, will the coalition to try get the bill that cause the double dissolution to the senate and then a joint sitting. This is worse than a minority government as Turnbull is going to have to try to keep his party happy, and it is later going to turn into a minority government due to defections and by-elections.

    • At the close of counting today the Coalition has 76 seats and Labor is ahead in each of the 3 remaining seats in doubt. 76 is worse than it seems because the Coalition will have to provide a speaker or nominate one of the independents who support it. Katter may accept the speakership although ti would surprise me. I would be astonished if Wilkie or McGowan accepted.

      The speaker only votes in case of a tie, so the Coalition effectively has to surrender one of its 76 votes.

      • I am pretty sure that Katter has already rejected the speakership–I may be wrong and be thinking of another crossbencher. While the Coalition will lose a vote by providing the speaker, that is less of a problem in Australia than other places. Assuming Labor and the crossbench all vote against the government, the Coalition will win votes 75-74. If they fail to get someone to vote, the speaker is expected to break a tie in favor of the government.

        FYI, the last time that the House was close (2010-2013) there were ZERO defections and by elections. Barring anyone dying, a 76 seat Coalition majority is safe unless they turn on Turnbull.

      • A number of rocedural motions, including any suspension of standing orders, any motion without notice, and any motion without leave require an absolute majority. The convention is that the speaker votes to preserve the status quo ante, for instance against gags or guillotines. If an acting speaker is in the chair they do not have a casting vote.

  10. The senate is still up in the air, but it appears that the clever Tasmanians may have elected 2 senators on below-the-line votes against the recommended order of the Liberal and Labor parties.

  11. And at close of counting today all but one house seats are known. In the North Queensland division of Herbert the ALP candidate is leading by 8 votes out of 94 804. I suspect Herbert is going to the court of disputed returns for a judicial examination of contested ballots. Any scrutineer may contest a ballot. While those ballots are included in the count they are noted as contested and can be produced to the court for a ballot-by-ballot examination.

    There are also likely to be two cases in the Senate where there are questions about the criminal record of a One nation candidate in Western Australia, and the nationality of a Greens candidate in Tasmania. Those cases will not lead to a revote, by precedents from 1988 and 1999 there will simply be a recount with those candidates excluded from the outset of the count. STV has certain advantages…

  12. Senate results are starting to happen as the federal electoral officers in various states press the button on EasyCount, the software that generates results from scanned ballots. EasyCount is somewhat controversial because the AECm in these exciting neoliberal times, is convinced that EasyCount has commercial value and therefore, rather incredibly, treats the source as code commercial in confidence and declines FOI requests for the source code.

    The problem is that the market for STV counting software is actually very limited, given that the system is so rare, and that any number of people have easily constructed their own versions of EasyCount to test the AEC’s results. Treating EasyCount as commercial in confidence is also a serious breach of the principle that the people should be able to verify election results, hopefully, in the words pf the german constitutional court, ‘that voting machines be safeguarded against potential manipulation or error through procedures that are understandable to the average citizen’.

    So far we have results from Tasmania and WA. The last house seat, Herbert, went to Labor but is probably headed for the court of disputed returns. Assuming Herbert does not get reversed by the court, the Coalition has a knife-edge majority of 76 in a house of 150.

    And Malcolm Turnbull has had a very, very bad week with almost universal condemnation of his decision not to nominate former prime minister Kevin Rudd as UN secretary-general and a royal commissioner into justice issues in the Northern Territory resigning 4 days after his appointment in response to indigenous criticism of his appointment. I am no longer convinced that Malcolm Turnbull will serve a full term as prime minister.

  13. And Section 44 has struck again. Sen Scott Ludlum (Greens WA) just resigned from the senate after 9 years. he discovered he had never renounced his New Zealand citizenship as required by S44(i). Ludlum will be a loss to the senate.

    3 disqualified senators and 1 possible disqualified MHR, suggests that Section 44 needs some attention. I would keep the pecuniary interests disqualification (Gday Donald), probably scrap the dual citizenship disqualification in favour of a general rule against accepting foreign help in elections (Gday Donald), and require, as the section remarkably does not, that criminal convictions not work a disqualification until all rights to appeal are exhausted.

    • I assume action isn’t likely until this hits one or both of the major parties? Which raises another question: is it possible that this keeps happening mainly to smaller parties but not to the major ones thanks to the latter’s superior organisational resources/abilities?

      • Labor has asked the High Court to rule on David Gillespie, a Nationals MHR. The pecuniary interests clause was largely gutted by a chief justice, sitting alone, in the 1970s in a case called In re Webster. However, in the recent case of In re Day, the court unanimously overruled that case and the facts in the Gillespie case are almost identical to the facts in Day. If Gillespie is disqualified, I’d think there is no chance pf a referendum to remove the pecuniary interests disqualification. There could well be some chance of a referendum on the citizenship and primal conditions disqualification.

        No-one wants to hold a referendum arguing that MPs should be allowed to have conflicts of pecuniary interests, except possibly to establish a new record in lowest popular support for a constitutional amendment.

      • Given the rarity of any constitutional amendment being successful, though, I fear that even a referendum on the citizenship and criminal convictions issue would fail. It’s not hard to imagine how a fear and uncertainty based campaign could be run (“letting criminals be elected to the House of Representatives”) particularly if the ‘yes’ campaign was to be fronted by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, both of whom are relatively unpopular (“send them both a message”).

        Section 44 has picked up a couple of major party members (Jackie Kelly and Jeannie Ferris), though it’s true that most have been minor party Senators. One Nation, in particular, has had two Senators disqualified out of five elected, although One Nation’s general difficulties as regards candidate selection will be clear to anyone who has observed the party over a period of time.

      • There was also quite a lot of comment about Tony Abbot, although he has since said he renounced UK nationality in 1993. I almost wonder if the citizenship issue could be dealt with by legislation providing that naturalisation works a renunciation of dual nationality for the purposes of Section 44? Or that nominating works a renunciation?

      • The sort of people who most vehemently vote “No” on principle in constitutional referenda tend to be the same sorts of Australians who vote for One Nation.

    • And Section 44 has struck again. Sen Larissa Waters (Greens Qld) just resigned from the senate after 6 years. She discovered she had never renounced her Canadian citizenship as required by S44(i). Waters will be a loss to the senate.

      Clearly Justin Trudeau and Bill English have decided to admit their Russian counterpart.

  14. Is this a problem anywhere else except Australia? I’d be intrigued to know if there is any other country where multiple citizenship is allowed for its citizens, but not its legislators…

    • Just to be pedantic – Australian federal MPs are allowed to have dual citizenship, involuntarily. What they’re not allowed to do is to want to have dual citizenship, voluntarily. They can sit in parliament, notwithstanding, if – but only if – they either successfully renounce it or else have done all they can to renounce it but are unable to. The constitutional wording is “allegiance”, not “citizenship” per se.

      • The Canadian Constitution Act 1867 at Section 21(2) reads:

        If he takes an Oath or makes a Declaration or Acknowledgment of Allegiance, Obedience, or Adherence to a Foreign Power, or does an Act whereby he becomes a Subject or Citizen, or entitled to the Rights or Privileges of a Subject or Citizen, of a Foreign Power;

        44(i) reads:

        is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

        44(i) is obviously based on 21(2), but unfortunately the Australian framers shifted from active voice ‘if he takes… or does…’ to passive voice: ‘is under any…’.

        I do not know if anyone has ever argued before the high court that 44(i) implies some voluntary act after you become an Australian citizen.

        Citizenship law is complicated, especially in a world where dual citizenship is becoming almost universal. Ted Cruz may or may not have had the equivalent of a 44(i) problem depending on whether or not his mother appeared on the Canadian electoral roll or not.

    • Regarding dual citizenship for legislators elsewhere: I recall there was an Israeli MK at the last election who had to renounce US citizenship in order to take up office.

      I actually do not know the rule in the US, or other places. But I would be surprised if there were not many with this prohibition.

      • I have only looked at Commonwealth constitutions. Prohibiting dual nationality is very common, but most provisions are much more narrowly drawn than Section 44(i). India, for example, disqualifies anyone:

        d.if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;

        There appears to be very little agreement on what ‘allegiance or adherence to a foreign State’ actually means. In Australia there have been a couple of cases attempting to disqualify Catholics for their alleged allegiance to the Vatican. The courts do not appear to have been wildly impressed by those cases.

      • In 1987, NSW Christian Democrat MLC Elaine Nile attempted to argue that Robert Wood was ineligible to sit in the Australian Senate on, amongst others, the grounds that his protests against the arrival of the US Navy in Sydney indicated “allegiance, obedience or
        adherence to a foreign power”: no specific foreign power was indicated in the application. Of course, Wood later lost his seat when he attempted to apply for an Australian passport and discovered he was a British citizen.

      • One thing often left out of these conversations is the sheer size of the dual nationality problem. The department of immigration and multicultural affairs estimated in 1997 that 5 million Australians (the population in 1997 was 18.56 million) held dual nationality and that the vast majority would not know about it. Given that the US, Canada, Britain and New Zealand all allow dual nationality where formerly only Britain allowed it, the dual citizen population must have expanded massively since then.

      • Since this thread was last updated a Cabinet minister has stood down while the High Court rules on his possible dual nationality. I did a little research and discovered that Section 72 of the Parliament of Queensland Act provides a series of disqualification including:

        the member takes an oath or makes a declaration or acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to, or becomes an agent of, a foreign state or power;

        I suspect laws like this may have to become increasingly common.

  15. Scott Morrison is expected to wait upon the governor-general today and request a general election for May (the month, not the prime minister).

    So we have:

    Australia 11 May or 18 May lower house and half the senate
    EU 29 May
    Philippines house of representatives 13 May
    India staggered general election from 11 April to 10 May
    Indonesia both houses and presidency 19 April
    South Africa national and provincial elections 8 May

    • Scott Morrison must have dragged the governor-general out of bed. They met at 7am and set the election for 18 May. Later today the Federation Guard will fire a 19 gun salute while the governor-general’s secretary reads the proclamation. Contrary to scurrilous rumour, the guns will point away from parliament house.

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