The Liberals are claiming a moral victory after appearing to win eight seats to Labor’s seven. It remains to be seen how persuasive this sounds to the Greens, who are still the kingmakers despite losing two of their four seats.
I believe the results don’t attain official status until tomorrow, but the preference distributions published today are off essentially the same numbers of votes as the primary vote counts, and can thus be treated as final to all intents and purposes. Here’s how it pans out:
Brindabella: Liberal 3, Labor 2. Zed Seselja is effortlessly elected for the Liberals, while Brendan Smyth makes it to a quota after distribution of Seselja’s surplus and preference from excluded Liberals Nicole Lawder and then Val Jeffery. At the point of Jeffery’s exclusion, he trails Liberal colleague Andrew Wall 5135 votes to 4938. Wall thus remains in the count with enough votes to see off defeated Greens member Amanda Bresnan by 8859 to 8247, leaving him the last candidate standing and winning him the fifth seat. For Labor, incumbent Joy Burch led the primary vote count with 8989 followed by former incumbent Mick Gentleman on 5069, with other Labor candidates some distance behind. Preferences do little to disturb this, resulting in Burch and Gentleman picking up the two seats.
Ginninderra: Labor 3, Liberal 2. As has been very widely discussed now, Ginninderra has indeed delivered the Greens the nightmare scenario of Labor’s surplus over the second quota dividing almost perfectly evenly between the second and third Labor candidates, Chris Bourke and Yvette Berry, leaving Greens member Meredith Hunter unable to overcome either. At the relevant exclusion, Bourke is on 9449, Berry on 9127 and Hunter on 8245. Comfortably leading the Labor primary vote and first elected from their ticket is incumbent Mary Porter. Similarly, the Liberal incumbents Alistair Coe and Vicki Dunne were untroubled by intra-party challengers.
Molonglo: Labor 3, Liberal 3, Greens 1. As I foreshadowed yesterday, late counting favoured incumbent Steve Doszpot in the race for the third Liberal seat against Elizabeth Lee, overturning yesterday’s narrow deficit and putting him in front 9311 to 9068 at the final exclusion. This immediately follows the election of the second Liberal, newcomer Giulia Jones. By far the strongest performing candidate on the Liberal ticket was incumbent Jeremy Hanson. Katy Gallagher overwhelmingly dominated the Labor ticket, and the distribution of her preferences heavily favoured the other two incumbents, Andrew Barr and Simon Corbell, over the four other Labor candidates. The election of Barr as the second candidate was never in doubt, but it takes Gallagher’s preferences to put Corbell ahead of Meegan Fitzharris, a 1896-2614 deficit turning into a 5269-3689 surplus. That gap is little changed after the exclusion of the other Labor candidates, with Corbell prevailing 8037-6437 at the relevant exclusion. Shane Rattenbury outpolls the other Greens incumbent, Caroline Le Couteur, 4937-4503 on the primary vote, and remains about that far ahead until Le Couteur is excluded with 7765 votes to Rattenbury’s 8001.
I dropped the ball for a couple of days there in covering the very exciting developments in the count, with the prospects firming for a 3-2 outcome in Ginninderra – meaning another seat lost to the Greens and a final result of 8-8-1. Today’s indicative preference distributions published on the Electoral Commission site account for about two-thirds of all votes cast, with the process to be finalised on Saturday. As anticipated, the trend in Ginninderra has been strongly in Labor’s favour – and particularly in favour of Yvette Berry, with Chris Bourke’s vote share actually declining slightly. On today’s numbers, Meredith Hunter finishes in sixth place with 6406 votes at the final exclusion (0.77 quotas compared with 0.76 yesterday) against 7253 for Berry (up from 0.83 to 0.87 quotas) and 7054 for Bourke (down from 0.86 to 0.85 quotas).
In Molonglo, Liberal incumbent Steve Doszpot continues to trail by the slenderest of margins against party colleague Elizabeth Lee, being 28 votes behind at the key exclusion in today’s distribution, up from seven yesterday. However, the relativites between the primary vote and preference distribution figures suggest Doszpot should gain from here. The count the preference distribution is based on includes 67.9% of the total first preference count, and Doszpot’s share of the first preference count is 5.73% compared with 5.49% in the preference count. Lee’s relative shares are 4.92% and 4.87%. On the Labor ticket, Simon Corbell is now sure to survive an intra-party challenge from Meegan Fitzharris thanks to the large share of voters who gave their first preference to other incumbents and continued to favour incumbents on their preference orders thereafter. His lead at the relevant stage of the count is 5229 to 4448.
In Brindabella, the latest distribution has Greens incumbent Amanda Bresnan’s trailing the third Liberal by 864 votes at the final exclusion, Bresnan’s earlier narrow lead being wiped out yesterday as anticipated as more favourable votes for the Liberals were added to the count. The point at issue is thus who out of Andrew Wall and Val Jeffery wins the third Liberal seat. Wall has a handy lead of 398 on the latest distribution, although this has narrowed from 474 yesterday.
Antony Green suggests the election count may yet take an unpredictable turn, with the Greens in danger of losing their Ginninderra seat to a third Labor candidate. If this came to pass the result would be Labor 8, Liberal 8, Greens 1.
Presently the Electoral Commission’s indicative preference distribution, based on the pre-poll electronic votes which accounted for 28.2% of the total, gets to a 2-2-1 result by having Labor’s Yvette Berry bow out and her preferences electing Labor colleague Chris Bourke, whose preferences in turn deliver a seat to Meredith Hunter of the Greens. This is the outcome one would ordinarily expect with Labor on 2.4 quotas and the Greens on 0.6. Certainly such a result could be taken for granted in the Senate, where candidates appear in a fixed order on ballot papers and voters dutifully follow the above-the-line voting option. The top two Labor candidates elected at the beginning of the count, leaving the third Labor candidate with the remaining 0.4 quotas.
The issue under Hare Clark is the candidates are generally not elected at the beginning of the count, which means a greater share of the Labor vote remains in the count for a longer time. In this case only Mary Porter is elected early in the count, which means 1.4 Labor quotas for the Greens to contend with. The risk for the Greens is that the 1.4 will divide evenly between the second and third Labor candidates, leaving each with more than Hunter’s 0.6. Compared with the electronic polling figures, that would require an improvement in Berry’s vote and a decline in Hunter’s – which is exactly what the polling booth vote shares suggests will happen.
We have also seen today a substantial chunk of the primary vote count added, accounting for 10.6% of enrolment, with a number of booths that did not report on Saturday night doing so today. This has seen Labor’s 1.1% lead in overall vote share shrink to 0.3%, with the Greens down a further 0.3%.
Labor Liberal Greens Counted Brindabella 35.9 (-0.7) 46.2 (+10.9) 7.9 (-5.7) 87.2% Ginninderra 40.0 (-0.2) 33.6 (+5.5) 10.0 (-3.8) 85.5% Molonglo 40.8 (+4.6) 37.1 (+5.7) 13.2 (-5.2) 82.2% TOTAL 39.0 (+1.7) 38.7 (+7.1) 10.7 (-4.9) 84.6%
Barring late surprises, the result looks very much like 3-2 to the Liberals in Brindabella, 2-2-1 in Ginninderra and 3-3-1 in Molonglo for a total of Liberal 8, Labor 7, Greens 2. The Liberals have been aggressively asserting their moral right to govern, which is tactically understandable but harder for an objective observer to credit. By the end of the evening they had fallen behind Labor on the primary vote, and the figures are such that a two-party preferred result under a single-member system would be about 53-47 in Labor’s favour.
Liberal claims that the Labor-Greens alliance had been “rejected” are dubious on face value, requiring us to overlook the fact that those two parties presently have over half the vote between them. Such claims further require that we conceive the result in purely negative terms, in which case we can equally say that over six in 10 voters “rejected” the Liberal Party. The alternative gambit has been to argue that the swing to the Liberals means the electorate has voted for “change”. On this logic, John Howard should have handed Kim Beazley the keys to the Lodge in 1998. Elections can only be determined by votes cast, not their proportions relative to some arbitrary point in the past.
The Liberals will certainly be able to boast the largest number of seats, which even accounting for the government’s longevity is a strong result in the hostile electoral environment of Canberra – particularly given the anticipated impact of public service cutbacks by conservative governments elsewhere. The key to this triumph was the tactical coup of winning a third seat in Brindabella, achieved through policy positioning, campaign resources and the candidacy of Zed Seselja.
It is a nicety of proportional representation systems that the party with the most seats be given the proverbial first chance to form a government. However, this does not amount to much in practical terms if the numbers are against that party – and is in any case a convention of systems where the formal appointment of the government is in the hands of a figurehead who might wish to keep removed from the partisan fray. This does not apply in the ACT, where the position of the Chief Minister is confirmed by the Assembly. Clearly most of those voting for the Greens would have done so in the expectation that they were voting against a Liberal government, and it seems safe to assume the Greens will keep this in mind during the negotiation process.
Final vote shares for the night:
Labor Liberal Greens Counted Brindabella 35.9 (-0.5) 45.7 (+10.4) 8.2 (-5.4) 77.9% Ginninderra 39.9 (-0.4) 33.4 (+5.3) 10.3 (-3.5) 77.6% Molonglo 41.0 (+5.0) 36.0 (+4.5) 13.9 (-4.6) 68.3% TOTAL 39.1 (+1.7) 38.0 (+6.4) 11.0 (-4.6) 73.8%
A purely impressionistic view of which might be that:
• The Liberals’ 6.4% gain was partly at the expense of Labor and partly from others;
• Labor compensated for these losses by absorbing much of a 4.6% drop in support for the Greens;
• A “Zed Seselja effect” helped the Liberals gain up a further 2-3% from Labor in Brindabella, balanced by a comparable loss in Molonglo;
• The Liberals garnered a further boost in Brindabella through a concentration of campaign resources and, perhaps, the recruitment of Val Jeffery (who polled 6.5% in 2008 with the Community Alliance);
• Labor gained in Molonglo in the absence of the Frank Pangallo ticket, which polled 4.8% last time.
Electorate by electorate:
Brindabella. The Liberals are left looking very smart in having targeted Brindabella, which has paid off with an extra seat at no cost elsewhere. Zed Seselja and Brendan Smyth are the clear winners of the first two seats, with the third remaining a toss-up between Andrew Wall (3.9%), Val Jeffery (3.7%) and Nicole Lawder (3.4%). Labor’s winners are incumbent Joy Burch and former incumbent Mick Gentleman. Losing her seat is Amanda Bresnan of the Greens.
Ginninderra. Chic Henry of the Motorists Party remains a hypothetical chance of winning the final seat, but it’s far more likely to be retained by Meredith Hunter of the Greens for a result of 2-2-1. Liberal incumbents Alistair Coe and Vicki Dunne will clearly retain their seats. Mary Porter is clearly re-elected for Labor, but mid-term arrival Chris Bourke (7.7%) is struggling to stay ahead of Yvette Berry (7.6%). This result will most likely be determined by the flow of Porter’s preferences. As usual, the competing tendencies within Porter’s preference flows will include a share who favour incumbents and a share who favour women.
Molonglo. Katy Gallagher has so dominated the Labor vote that the fate of the party’s third seat is hard to read, with Andrew Barr clearly well favoured enough to score the second. If Gallagher’s supporters continued with the logic of favouring high profile figures in the party, incumbent Simon Corbell stands a good chance of closing the 2.9% to 2.1% deficit against Meegan Fitzharris. However, Fitzharris is likely to gain a dividend from those Gallagher supporters who were favouring a woman candidate, and her evident success as a candidate in outpolling Corbell will spill over to at least some extent into Gallagher’s preferences. On the Liberal ticket, incumbent Jeremy Hanson topped the poll but his colleague Steve Doszpot was outpointed by the incoming Giulia Jones. To win the Liberals’ newly acquired third seat, Doszpot (who is on 5.4%) will need to stay ahead of fourth-placed Elizabeth Lee (4.7%) after preferences, and the Electoral Commission’s interim count based on the electronic voting results suggest this will be touch-and-go. The Greens face a game of musical chairs with two incumbents chasing one seat, in which Shane Rattenbury leads Caroline Le Couteur 5.7% to 5.3%.
Finally, determining votes cast for male and female candidates turns up some interesting patterns. A significant factor in Labor’s case is that Jon Stanhope has exited the field and been replaced as Chief Minister by a woman, who accordingly enjoyed a dramatic increase in her personal vote. Even so, the 22.3% “swing” to Labor women is highly noteworthy given the gender balance of the candidates was unchanged. There’s also a basis to argue that the Liberals erred in not preselecting more women, given that the five endorsed this time almost matched the result of the seven endorsed in 2008, and in particular the strong performance of Giulia Jones in Molonglo.
Candidates Votes TOTAL Male candidates 50 (-10) 58.3 (-7.3) Female candidates 24 (-2) 41.7 (+7.3) LABOR Male candidates 10 (-) 36.7 (-22.3) Female candidates 7 (-) 63.3 (+22.3) LIBERAL Male candidates 12 (+2) 77.9 (+1.9) Female candidates 5 (-2) 22.1 (-1.9)
9.39pm. Labor pulls ahead of Liberal on the aggregate vote on what Antony believes to be the final count for the night.
9.05pm. And the second Labor member in Ginninderra, where Chris Bourke is second on 7.7% against 7.2% for Yvette Berry.
9.02pm. As I see it, all that’s in doubt now is who wins the third Liberal seat in Brindabella and the third Labor seat in Molonglo.
9.01pm. The Greens declining in Molonglo as well, where the picture is a fairly clear 3-3-1.
8.59pm. A 10.4% batch of the vote in Ginninderra has closed the gap between the Greens, down from 10.9% to 10.5%, and the Motorist Party, up from 7.2% to 7.5%.
8.57pm. Brindabella count now up to 60.3%, and I think you can put down your glasses: the Liberals vote has surged further to 46.2% and the Greens have fallen to 7.9%, confirming a result of three Liberal and two Labor. Joy Burch and Mick Gentleman elected for Labor; Zed Seselja and Brendan Smyth for Liberal; the final Liberal seat continues to have Andrew Wall leading Val Jeffery 4.1% to 3.7%.
8.43pm. Another 4.9% added in Ginninderra. Greens down slightly, fractionally improving the Motorists Party’s chances.
8.40pm. Another 6.8% in Brindabella further improves the Liberals position there.
8.33pm. Winner of third Liberal seat in Brindabella unclear: Andrew Wall on 4.0%, Val Jeffery on 3.7%, Nicole Lawder on 3.5%.
8.26pm. Liberal also declining in Ginninderra with 31.7% counted, although not enough to fundamentally change the situation. Motorist Party boilover not looking any likelier.
8.24pm. A big addition in Brindabella boosts the count to 35.9%. The swing against Labor is down from 1.4% to 0.5%; to Liberal down from 10.6% to 9.9%; against Greens little changed at 5.1%. The Liberal surplus over the third quota is down from 0.748 to 0.712, while the combined Labor and Greens surplus 0.616 to 0.664 (remembering there will be a lot of leakage there). Of Bullet Train (4.1%) and Motorist Party (3.9%) preferences, I can offer no insight.
8.16pm. Ginnninderra count up from 21.6% to 24.8%, but little change.
8.14pm. The Brindabella count is up from 21.7% to 26.5%, and in relative terms Labor has gained 0.5%, the Liberals have lost 0.5% and the Greens have lost 0.2%.
8.00pm. Kevin Bonham’s analysis of the first booths from Brindabella provide more encouragement for the Liberals. If so, a result of Liberal 8, Labor 7 and Greens 2 is firming up.
7.55pm. Booth results coming very slowly. Only a tiny increase in the count since the pre-polls were finalised.
7.34pm. Andrew Barr sounding bullish about booth results.
7.32pm. By no means likely that the Motorists Party will win a seat in Ginninderra, but one to keep an eye on.
7.24pm. That new batch that made no difference in Molonglo was substantial, upping the count by 7.6%.
7.23pm. Another 4% of the vote in Brindabella sees slight Liberal decline.
7.22pm. Antony has all pre-polls for Molonglo; the latest batch hasn’t changed the situation.
7.19pm. Interesting to note strong performances from women just noted.
7.13pm. Labor’s Meegan Fitzharris (second place) well ahead of Simon Corbell (fourth) in Molonglo. Liberal incumbent Steve Doszpot trailing Giulia Jones, also in Molonglo. Other incumbents untroubled in intra-party contests.
7.10pm. Counted: 15.5% in B, 19.5% in G, 11.7% in M.
7.03pm. So best indications are 3-3-1 in Molonglo, 2-2-1 in Ginninderra and 3-2 to the Liberals in Brindabella, for a total of Liberal 8, Labor 7 and Greens 2. However, a different trend on booth votes could change some of that.
7.01pm. Another batch sends Labor backwards in Ginninderra, strengthening likelihood of 2-2-1.
6.58pm. So the Liberals can hope for eight seats, if things keep going their way in Brindabella and Molonglo. The Greens are most probably looking at two.
6.55pm. Scratch what I said about Molonglo: much better for the Liberals than that. They’re on three quotas, and Antony is talking about 3-3-1.
6.54pm. Greens looking pretty good in Ginninderra: best bet there looks like another 2-2-1 result.
6.53pm. Giulia Jones has pulled ahead of Steve Doszpot for the second Liberal seat in Molonglo.
6.50pm. ABC website figures updated. Still early figures for Molonglo, but my guess is a status quo result of 3 Labor, 2 Liberal, 2 Greens. Well-informed Labor member John Hargreaves on the ABC though still thinks Labor could get a fourth at the expense of Caroline Le Couteur of the Greens.
6.44pm. My early guess is that Zed Seselja’s move to Brindabella has paid dividends then and might them a third seat (with Labor two and the Greens zero), but it’s still hard to see them building upon their two in Ginninderra and Molonglo. Very unclear how the Greens will go in Ginninderra or Molonglo though.
6.43pm. Antony’s discussing more up to date figures than on the ABC site, and the Liberals have gained further since the first batch.
6.41pm. Molonglo Greens: Shane Rattenbury only slightly ahead of Caroline Le Coteur, daylight third.
6.40pm. Antony has more numbers, particularly from Brindabella, and the Liberals appear to be doing very well there, and must be considered a shot at the third seat.
6.38pm. Molonglo Liberal: Jeremy Hanson here but Steve Doszpot struggling early, mixing it with Giulia Jones and Elizabeth Lee.
6.37pm. Molonglo Labor: Weak early result for Simon Corbell, in danger from Meegan Fitzharris. Katy Gallagher dominant, Andrew Barr second.
6.36pm. Ginninderra Liberal and Greens: Incumbents Coe and Dunne well clear, third unclear. Incumbent Meredith Hunter well ahead of Greens field.
6.35pm. Ginninderra Labor: Mary Porter and Chris Bourke clear in first and second, third still unclear.
6.35pm. Brindabella Liberal and Greens: Status quo, Seselja, Smyth and Bresnan looking for re-election. If a third Liberal, very unclear who.
6.34pm. Brindabella Labor: Joy Burch headed for easy win, Mick Gentleman well ahead for second seat, third seat if any toss-up between Karl Maftoum and Rebecca Cody.
6.33pm. So the very early indication are Brindabella: Liberal 2 and Labor 2, last seat toss-up between Liberal and Greens. Ginninderra: Labor 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1. Molonglo: Labor 3, Liberal 2, Greens 1, last seat anyone’s guess. Repeat: these are very early figures.
6.25pm. And here’s the first result, accounting for 1.7% of enrolled votes in Brindabella, 2.7% in Ginninderra and 4.8% in Molonglo. These point to a much higher “others” vote than the Patterson poll indicated, and slight increases in the vote for Labor, Liberal and the Greens.
6.22pm. Antony Green reports that 47,677 electronic pre-poll votes were cast, accounting for 18.6% of enrolled votes, and that these will be fed through to the media results feed over the coming hour. That should give us a very strong indication of the way things are headed, very early. Polling booth results however will not start coming through until after 7pm, owing to the ACT’s lack of small rural booths.
6pm. Polls have closed. Follow the results through the ABC and argue the toss here. Presumably the ABC’s live coverage featuring Antony Green will be broadcast on ABC News 24.