final Senate result – the winners & losers

Whilst its been clear for a while what the end result would be, the official Senate numbers (and names) are now finalised. In amongst all the claims and counter-claims, there are a few straightforward facts.

After all the claims about preferences, a few points should be made:

  • Pre-election warnings about the Government’s chances of winning control of the Senate proved to be true. If the Greens had swapped preferences with Family First ahead of the Coalition, as the Democrats did, then the Coalition would not have won four seats in Queensland and would not have gained control of the Senate.
  • Family First won their Victorian seat on Labor’s preferences. The Democrats preferences did not impact on the result. This is easily the lowest ever-primary vote to successfully win a Senate seat in a half-Senate election. The previous lowest was the Greens 4.3% in NSW in 2001.
  • Below the line votes affected the outcome in Tasmania, putting the Greens ahead of Family First and Queensland, where high numbers of votes for Pauline Hanson meant One Nation was eliminated earlier in the count, guaranteeing a win for the National Party.

In hindsight, nothing could have been done with preference decisions to stop the Coalition winning half the Senate seats, as they got well over 3 quotas in every state. Their lowest primary vote was in Tasmania, which still saw them get 3.2 quotas, and along with WA getting the highest gain in primary votes of over 7% (and easily their highest Tasmania Senate vote since 1977).

Tallying up who won and lost seats is made a bit more complicated by the fact two seats were lost by people who had been elected for one party but had subsequently quit the party to run on their own (i.e. Meg Lees originally elected as a Democrat in SA and Shayne Murphy originally elected as Labor in Tasmania).

Taking this into account as to whose seats they really were, the following points can be made about the results:

  • Labor lost 1 seat in total – losing Shayne Murphy’s seat in Tasmania to the Greens and Jacinta Collins seat in Victoria to Family First, but gaining the Democrats’ Meg Lees seat in SA.
  • The Democrats lost 4 seats in total – losing John Cherry’s seat in Qld to the Liberals, Aden Ridgeway’s seat in NSW to the Liberals, Brian Greig’s seat in WA to the Greens and Meg Lees’ seat in SA to Labor.
  • The Greens gained 2 seats – one off the Democrats in WA (Brian Greig) and one off Labor in Tas (Shayne Murphy)
  • The Coalition gained 4 seats in total – picking up Brian Harradine’s vacant seat in Tas, winning the Democrats’ NSW seat (Ridgeway), the Democrats’ Qld seat (Cherry) and the Nationals winning back the seat One Nation won off them in 1998.
  • One Nation lost their only seat – in Qld – to the Nationals.
  • Family First gained their first seat, winning Labor’s seat in Victoria off the back of Labor preferences.

Brian Harradine’s seat was not recontested and went to the Libs. All the independents have now gone from the Senate, with Harradine retiring and Lees, Murphy and Harris losing. The cross bench has gone from 13 back down to 9, while the Coalition has increased from 35 to 39. Labor has stayed at 28 (although they really have gone back one as Murphy’s seat was originally a Labor seat)

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  1. Andrew, I’m confused. You say that if the Greens had swapped preferences with Family first then the Coalition would not have got control of the Senate. Then you say that nothing could have been done with preferences to stop the Coalition winning half the seats, because they won sufficient primaries. Am I missing something, or do these two statements contradict each other?

  2. Having half the seats isn’t having control. The key seat was the extra one in Qld. If FF had preferenced Greens ahead of the Coalition, then the last Qld seat would have gone Green. Of course, this would also have meant FF winning in SA instead of Labor, but I think preventing the Govt having Senate control would have been worth it.
    I know some people think FF are the Devil incarnate, but I don’t see much evidence of that yet – looks to me like there are plenty more extreme people in the Govt and half of them are Ministers.

  3. So, to clarify, what you’re saying is that preferences could not have stopped the coalition having 50%. But if the Greens had done a preference deal with FF then the Greens would have one more senator, the cross bench would be 10 and the government would have to find at least one supporter for every piece of legislation. Yeah?

  4. My main point is to emphasise that the Govt would need at least one other person to get things passed, rather than get it all through unchanged (subject to possible internal trade offs with the Nats, although how much of that there’ll be is unknown). It would also have meant one more Green (in Qld) and one more FF (in SA), but to me the big goal was to stop Govt having sole control, rather than winning seats. (I’ll check it all again, but I’m fairly sure NSW would have ended up 3 ALP anyway, as I think it would have if Dems had gone straight to Greens instead of through others).

  5. Andrew,
    You’ll find that LFF would have been eliminated earlier in NSW without Democrat votes. Democrats votes would have put the Greens over Labor. which would have one extra Green Senator. Similarly in SA. So the cross bench would have been 11. With 6 Greens.
    Andrew I think you keep missing the point. Family First think the Greens are repuslive for their stance on gay and lesbian issues, pro choice etc. Have you met them. They would have attacked the Democrats if they thought you guys were gong to win. Their would have been no chance in hell (pardon the pun) of having them preference the Greens anything but last.

  6. Furthermore,
    The Greens would have been crucified by gay and lesbian groups and womens groups (like the democrats were) if there was even a hint of a preference deal. (What were you guys thinking? how did you think people would react?)
    Considering the primary vote of the Greens, I think that decision was justified.
    knowing Steve Fielding, I’m quite happy that the coalition got control.
    By all your defenciveness about Family First, I take it you haven’t met him yet.
    Good Luck with that. Luckily your a white male married in a nuclear family.

  7. Damian,
    I heard Jeremy mention the Fielding fellow, in less than glowing terms. Is he really that bad?
    From what I read he seemed to be full of his own importance.
    I’m just asking, I don’t know anything about the guy. I was just thinking, is he worse than a National?

  8. He is a disaster, He is intolerant, arrogant and the usual for an evangelist. He would have sold out on Telstra etc, if he was given carrots on abortion, gay and lesbian issues etc.
    he is much worse than a National. I see that the Nationals have now started to flex their muscles on issues like Telstra.

  9. Damian
    I presume you don’t see the irony of calling the FF guy intolerant. I have no doubt FF would have put Greens ahead of Liberal in return for the same thing. They didn’t preference the Dems or ALP (in Vic & Tas) in the Senate because of policy, they did it to asist themselves and to reduce the influence of the Libs.
    We’ve had Brian Harradine in balance of power position in the Senate before – he made some bad decsions, but the world didn’t end and the Libs were stopped doing some terrible things as well having proper scrutiny of what they were doing.
    Look at the bigger picture for once.

  10. Damian
    you are also wrong about your assessment of the alternative NSW result.
    Dem preferences to FF made no difference to the result. The Dem preferences ended up with Fred Nile (which I have different views about than FF) but even if they had gone to Greens, there were insufficient to have got the Greens above Labor and get elected.
    If FF preferences had gone to Greens in Qld instead of Coalition, that would have changed the result in that key seat.
    FF’s official public statements on abortion (and gay & lesbian issues) have been far less extreme than those of many Coalition MPs, including the National Party guy elected in Qld and a range of Liberal Ministers.
    I don’t know why you are so supportive of the Liberals – in comparison – given their record just on these issues, let alone the effect they’ve had on many other issues (and the entire country)

  11. Yulia,
    Yes Bob Brown floated the idea, but the Greens re-asserted policy. Democracy within the Greens.
    Andrew, I have intolerance for intolerance. I’m gay and used to live in the the country. I had to leave for my sanity. Part of this was homophobia, fuelled by Christian Evangelists and local hoons. Yes, the more national media coverage given to zealots, the more our physical being is threatened. It is not a case of intolerance as much as caring about the way my community is going to be under attack.
    At Least under the Liberals, there is a party whip. Family First needs media at the moment and they will use homophobia just like Bush did.
    Why do you think the gay community was so disapointed in you? To us it is actually a physical threat when evangelicals get into positions of power and inflame homophobia. I thought you would know that.

  12. I’m well aware of what can happen when people get into positions of power who are willing to inflame homophobia. I’ve been enduring it up close in the Senate for sometime and saw it at its ugliest in Parliament House and the Senate with the anti-marriage Bill. The Greens willing and total embrace of Labor after that episode and their willingness to put the Liberals ahead of Family First baffles me, but their claim to moral superiorty irritates me. At best I’d say it’s putting ignorance and prejudice about the assumed agenda of Christians ahead of the factual record regarding the agenda and actions of the Liberals. There’s no point FF using the media to inflame homophobia, the Liberals got there first.

  13. The Greens willing and total embrace of Labor after [the Gay marriage] episode and their willingness to put the Liberals ahead of Family First baffles me, but their claim to moral superiorty irritates me.
    Andrew, the Greens are a party with thousands of members. You would be hard pressed to find any of them who would have stood for a preference deal with the Family Fascists. That is called democracy – you can bleat about the outcome if you like, but surely not the principle.
    If the Democrats had listened to their dwindling membership and their voter base they would have come to the same conclusion. Your decision to support FF has acheived nothing except political oblivion for the Democrats.

  14. Andrew,
    I don’t understand how you can take up the argument about the Greens preferencing Labor. You carp on about how bad the Liberals are, but moan that someone actually preferencing to elect the alternative. Sure Labor backed down on the marriage bill, but their policies on glbti issues were miles ahead of the Libs.
    You of all people moaning about Greens preferencing Labor (in the house of reps) when the dems preferenced an out and out homophobic party in the senate, then defending them at every opportunity is what concerns the real democrats who have let their membershiops lapse.

  15. Correcting errors of fact is not the same as ‘defending at every opportunity’, although this is the sort of allegation that people tend to use when they want to stop any debate.

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