The Senate results can’t be finalised for a couple of weeks until all the absentee and postal votes come in. Quotas can’t be formally determined and preferences distributed until the total number of formal votes are known, so definitive results can’t occur until then. However, the results do seem fairly clear in most states, and I’d have to say barring something quite extraordinary, it seems clear the Democrats have lost their four remaining Senate seats – including mine in Queensland of course.
While I was quite aware there was a strong chance I might lose, I must say I am surprised our Senate vote in Queensland is as low as it has turned out to be. It really doesn’t gel with the feedback we were getting on the ground, or some of the extra support we were getting this time that we weren’t last time. However, the figures are there, so that’s that.
As I’d said many times, if I lost my seat, there was a real chance it would go to the major parties, rather than to the Greens or another smaller party, and it appears this is what is most likely to happen in Queensland. Family First polled about what I expected (and what opinion polls suggested), as did Pauline Hanson. If I had got the extra two per cent and polled above Hanson, that would have probably been sufficient to get me in, but instead her preferences will most likely give that last seat to the Labor Party.
There can be some shifts in overall percentages occur with absentee and postal votes, but they’d have to be fairly significant for the Greens to have a chance for that last Queensland seat ahead of Labor.
Most of the other states seem fairly cut and dried, although late shifts can occur with absentees (which the Greens often do better in) and postals (which the major parties tend to do better in). However, it does appear that the Liberals will only lose 2 Senate seats (Tasmania and South Australia), giving the ultimate balance of power in the Senate to Nick Xenophon plus Steve Fielding from Family First. On any question where the Coalition opposes Labor in the Senate, Labor will need to get the support of all Green Senators and then also Xenophon and Fielding.
It is disappointing that Queensland is now likely to have no Senator outside the major parties, and thus no voice in balance of power situations (nor will New South Wales for that matter, as the Greens have almost certainly lost their Senate seat there). However, that’s what the voters chose.
For people who are keen to see a growth in the parliamentary strength of parties committed to the environment, human rights and social justice, it is worth noting that in 1999 there were 9 Democrat and 2 Greens in the Senate. After this election, it looks like there will be at most 6 Greens – more likely 5 – and no Democrats in the Senate. Not a terribly good net result.
Of the four Democrat seats, 2 appear to have gone to ALP (Qld and Vic) and 2 appear to have gone to the Greens (WA and SA). Ironically, Nick Xenophon’s decision to contest the Senate in SA has not only won himself a seat at the expense of the Liberals, it may well have assisted the Greens to get a seat there that they may otherwise have missed out on. This is because Xenophon appears to have taken a large number of votes from both Labor and Liberal, thus bringing their primary votes down low enough for the Greens to get ahead of Labor on preferences. If this hadn’t happened, the Greens in SA may well have faced what appears to have happened in Victoria, where a high primary vote of around 10 per cent could well still leave them short due to Labor getting very close to 3 quotas.