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Australian House Election - Final Results

by Gary J Fri Dec 21st, 2007 at 05:00:27 PM EST

Following the recent general election it rapidly became apparent that Labor had won. However all the results were not formally declared until today.

In the detailed count a few seats which ALP (Labor) seemed to have taken narrowly on election night ended up remaining Liberal, however former PM John Howard still lost his seat at Bennelong.

The first preference vote totals (for the more important parties) were:-

ALP 5,388,147 (43.38%)

Liberal 4,506,236 (36.28%)

Nationals 682,424 (5.49%)

Greens 967,781 (7.79%)

The current two party preferred totals (where some more counting may take place) were:-

Liberal-Nationals Coalition 5,849,820 (47.44%)

ALP 6,482,460 (52.56%)

This is a 5.31% swing to Labor.

The seat totals (which are final, subject to challenges before a Court of Disputed Returns):-

ALP 83, Coalition 65 (Liberal 55, Nationals 10), Independents 2.

The reason why the Nationals won 10 seats on a lower vote than got the Greens none, is that Nationals support is concentrated in a small number of electorates whereas the Greens support is spread fairly evenly over the whole country.

The Senate count in Victoria is still pending, but it looks like the equal split between left and right, anticipated on election night, will arise. However until the new senators take office on 1st July 2008, the coalition is still dominant in the Senate.

It has been suggested by some Australians that the Rudd government wants the Senate to defeat the repeal of the controversial Workchoices legislation, which made the Howard government so unpopular. If this happens there would be a deadlock between the two houses and that would allow PM Rudd to request a double dissolution of both houses. In such an election all the Senate seats would be at stake. Labor could hope to increase their House majority and eliminate the chance for the coalition alone (or with the one Family First Senator) to block government bills.

Update [2007-12-22 10:55:18 by Gary J]: If you want to look at the results, in enormous detail, the Australian Electoral Commission has an excellent Virtual Tally Room at http://vtr.aec.gov.au/

Many thanks for this Diary

How was the Senate election conducted?  Do only some seats come up for election as in the US so that the transition in power is much slower?  Is there no mechanism to allow a party with 8% (the greens) get at least some seats?

A rundown on Rudd's policy priorities and how they differ from Howard would be an interesting diary for the future.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 06:31:34 AM EST
The Australian Senate is similar to the US Senate in that each original state has an equal number of Senators. As there are only six states each was given six senators when the Commonwealth came into existence on 1st January, 1901.

The Australian constitution has what is called a nexus provision, so that the House of Representatives (apportioned by population subject to each state having at least five members) is required to have approximately twice the number of members of the Senate.  

Australian politicians hate the nexus provision, because it means that every time they want to expand the size of the House, they have to put up with more senators. Four constitutional amendments to break the nexus have been put to the Australian people in referendum and each time the proposal has been defeated. The current position is that each state has twelve senators.

It seems the original idea of the Senate was that it would represent the states as such. However it actually functioned as another house where party interest was more important than state interest.

The normal position is that half the Senate is elected every three years, to serve a fixed six year year term commencing on the 1st July next after the half Senate election. Since 1948 the Senate has been elected by the single transferable vote method of proportional representation. This can present difficulties to the voter as they might have to rank 60 candidates or more, due to the Australian federal requirement that a preference be given to every candidate to make the ballot valid (formal in Australian terminology). However the option is given of voting "above the line", which enables the voter to accept the preference schedule of the party of his or her choice rather than having to construct one of their own "below the line".

With STV a party must get a seat if one of its candidates secures a quota of support. For a six member election the quota is one seventh plus one of the formal votes (disregarding fractional remainders). This is because only six candidates can secure such a quota, as the remaining votes would be just under a quota.

The normal result in a state is that the major groups (Coalition and Labor) win two or three seats each early in the count, but that allocating the sixth seat requires many counts (about 230 counts in New South Wales this year). The basic idea is that you first transfer the surplus votes, above the quota, of an elected candidate. This is done in Australia I believe by ttransfering all the votes at a fractional value (if the quota is 50 and a candidate has 100 votes then each is transferred to the next preference at a value of 0.5; so the winning candidate retains his quota of support and no individual voter gets more than the single vote they are entitled to). If there are no surpluses to transfer then the candidate with the current lowest vote total is eliminated (two Senate candidates this year only had one vote, an all time record) and their votes redistributed (at a value of 1 unless the particular vote was received at a fractional value as part of a transferred surplus, in which case it is transferred at that value). The process continues until a candidate accumulates the sixth quota. This can be someone from a major party, but often is from a party like the Greens.

The situation in Victoria is that a Labor candidate was a few thousand votes ahead of the Green for the last seat. Some Greens were asking for a recount (not a trivial matter when the paper ballots of an entire state would need to be looked at again).

Senate counts are time consuming, so it is just as well there are six months or more before the term starts.

by Gary J on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 10:27:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  Ireland also operates a single transferable vote in a multi seat constituency system for its main lower house of Parliament.  I's not quite as complicated as the Australian system in that you only have to give a preference 1,2,3,4... to as many candidates as you want - not all the candidates on the ballot paper.  Also the number of candidates is generally less as you have to pay a deposit which you only get back if you secure a certain minimum number of votes - to discourage frivolous candidates.  Its generally quite a good system to ensure a mix of candidates from a variety of parties and independents with strong local connections - and avoiding the simple 2 party systems that straight voting systems tend to create.  It certainly keeps the political pundits engrossed as all sorts of cross party and cross locations , gender and other factors come into play.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 24th, 2007 at 05:40:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Australians do make things more complex than they need to be, because of the requirement for all candidates to be given a preference. Also if you compare Irish and Australian result sheets you can see that parties nominate far more candidates for the Australian six seat elections, than the Irish do for five seat electoral districts.
by Gary J on Tue Dec 25th, 2007 at 07:50:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For what i read, Nelson (Coalition) told the Party to get over the WorkChoice and thinks they went to far thus the Senate is not likely to oppose the scraping of these laws.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 06:38:26 AM EST
Thank you for your comment. It is probably smart politics for the current opposition not to provoke an early double dissolution over the least popular policy of the former government.
by Gary J on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 10:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... want a double dissolution, as they stand in the greatest risk of losing standing. Under the Coalition agreement, the number of ministers (or, in opposition, shadow ministers) held by the Nationals depends on their share of the seats held by the Coalition. While the Nationals are not likely to lose many current seats in a double dissolution, they are in danger of losing Senate seats if the ALP were able to paint the double dissolution as "the Coalition's fault" and the Coalition lost support in the election.

In a double dissolution, a full Senate is elected, 12 Senators from each state (plus two from each territory) so the quota is 1/13 of the state vote plus one vote ... roughly 7.7%. Since the Green vote is about that nationwide, and above that in Tasmania (in this last election, Bob Brown of Tasmania received more than a full quota, which would be enough to elect two Green Senators in a double dissolution election, and leave open the possibility of returning three) ... so they could easily rise in power from 5 to 7 (of 76) and hold the balance of power.

It is therefore no surprise that Barnaby Joyce (the National Senator who has most often expressed the view that a Senator should vote his or her conscience in representing the voters of his or her state, rather than follow a party line) has expressed the view that changed to Work Choices that are in line with the ALP election platform ought to receive support ... that the ALP in government has received a "mandate" and its not the job of a Senator to oppose the people's will.

Of course, Joyce is from Queensland, where the ALP made substantial in-roads in this last election (both the new PM and Treasurer are QLDers ... indeed, both went to the same secondary school), and so if he follows through on what he seems to be saying, this principled stand would also be politically astute ... he is probably better off standing for re-election in three years time than sometime in 2008.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Dec 22nd, 2007 at 05:18:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the liberals and nationals are smart thy will not blocks the repeal of the workchoices law.
by fls on Tue Dec 25th, 2007 at 07:38:51 PM EST

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