Menu lock

Federal Election 2013

Aug 30, 2013

Senate of the day: South Australia

Nick Xenophon's seeks re-election with the end of his first six-year term, while Sarah Hanson-Young faces an uphill battle to retain her seat for the Greens.

South Australia’s one extraordinary result in the era of six-seat half-Senate elections came with the election of Nick Xenophon in 2007, and it is this result that is to be revisited at the coming election. Xenophon won almost exactly a quota at the 2007 election with 14.8% of the vote (a quota being 14.3%), comparison of voting patterns for the lower and upper house suggesting he had poached 6% to 7% each from Labor and the Liberals, while the Greens’ Senate vote was stable at 6.5% despite a 1.5% increase for the party in the state’s lower house seats. Labor (0.4933 of a quota), Liberal (0.4698) and Greens (0.4542) candidates emerged with a very similar share of the vote after the top two Labor and Liberal candidates, but Labor thereafter remained becalmed while the Greens absorbed left-wing preferences and the Liberals absorbed right-wing ones. With Labor excluded, their preferences propelled Hanson-Young to a narrow win over Liberal incumbent Grant Chapman.

In Xenophon’s absence in 2010, the vote share for both major parties was up in the upper house (by 2.8% for Labor and 2.1% for Liberal) and down in the lower (2.4% for Labor and 1.6% for Liberal), while the Greens vote more than doubled to 13.3%. Preference from smaller left-wing parties pushed Greens candidate Penny Wright over a quota, winning her a seat at the expense of Labor’s third candidate, incumbent Dana Wortley. The final seat went to the third Liberal candidate, David Fawcett, after he cleared two hurdles: first emerging with 9.1% after the 7.9% right-wing micro-party vote consolidated behind Family First (another minor party founded in South Australia), and secondly emerging ahead of Dana Wortley at the final count by 16.1% to 12.4%.

South Australia had earlier been a stronghold of the Australian Democrats, which had its origins in the state. The Democrats’ strength through what were generally lean years for Labor in the state resulted in consistent results of three Liberal, two Labor and one Democrats from 1990 to 2001. That era ended with the national collapse in support for the Democrats at the 2004 election, their vote in South Australia falling from 12.6% to 2.3% and the six seats dividing between Liberal and Labor. A crucial factor in the Greens’ failure to win the seat that went to Labor number three Dana Wortley was the Democrats’ direction of preferences to Family First, which had they gone to the Greens would have propelled their candidate ahead of Wortley at a key point in the count.

Nick Xenophon is generally reckoned to be an excellent chance for re-election. However, the exact extent of his vote is hard to judge, Senate polling being scarce and generally unreliable. Any surplus he receives will divide between two preference tickets he has submitted, the guiding principle of which is that one favours the left and the other favours the right. However, both favour major over minor parties, which will assist the Liberals in their endeavour to stay in front of the right-wing micro-party preference bloc and give the Greens a higher hurdle to clear to stay ahead of the third Labor candidate. The Greens will be far from assured of putting a quota together even if they do emerge ahead of Labor, a strong alternative possibility being that the final seat will go to the third Liberal candidate. Should the final count be between the Greens and a Liberal, the Greens will at least pick up the half share of Xenophon preferences that went to Labor.

After a controversial preselection process, the Labor ticket reverses the order of the top two positions in 2007 by having Penny Wong in first place and Don Farrell in second. Wong entered parliament from the top position on the Senate ticket at the 2001 election, which was then reserved for the Left under a terms of a Left-Right alliance commonly identified as “the Machine”. The victims of this arrangement were the now defunct Centre Left faction, whose candidate Chris Schacht suffered demotion to the losing number three position after a 15-year career in the Senate. Number two on the ticket was the favoured candidate of the Right, Linda Kirk. Changing factional arrangements caused the Right and Left to swap their places at the 2007 election, resulting in Wong being demoted on the Senate ticket despite her promotion to shadow cabinet in March 2005. The determination of Don Farrell, the powerful state secretary of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary Don Farrell, to take the Right’s Senate seat meant he went straight to the top position. Kirk was required to make way for Farrell, bowing out of politics after refusing the consolation prize of lower house preselection in Boothby. She was variously said to have fallen from factional favour due to her backing of Kevin Rudd’s successful leadership bid in December 2006, her defiance of the SDA faction’s opposition to the RU486 abortion pill, and the dismissal of Farrell’s wife from her office.

By the time of last year’s Senate preselection, Penny Wong had risen to the senior cabinet portfolio of finance and established herself as one of the government’s most popular figures, while Farrell had managed only a parliamentary secretary position. The party’s state conference nonetheless resolved by 112 votes to 83 to maintain the existing factionally determined arrangement where Farrell had top position by virtue of being from the Right. This was widely criticised within the party and without, with NSW Left powerbroker Anthony Albanese declaring it a “joke” and an “act of self-indulgence”. The backlash caused Farrell to back down, agreeing to a swap of positions with a magnanimous Wong. The third place on the ticket has gone to Simon Pisoni, a Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union official and the brother of a senior state Liberal politician, Unley MP David Pisoni.

Preserving the order from 2007, the top two positions on the Liberal ticket are occupied by a noted Christian conservative in Cory Bernardi and a moderate in Simon Birmingham. Bernardi was an investment fund manager and state party president before he filled the Senate vacancy created by Robert Hill’s appointment as ambassador to the United Nations in March 2006. Bernardi’s selection marked a victory of the party’s conservative’s wing over factional moderates, of whom Hill had been a figurehead. The favoured candidate of the moderates was Simon Birmingham, a former staffer to Robert Hill and narrowly unsuccessful candidate for Hindmarsh at the 2004 election (for which Bernardi had again been a preselection rival). Birmingham had to settle for the number two position on the ticket, but entered the Senate earlier than planned when he filled the vacancy caused by Jeannie Ferris’s death in April 2007. Incumbent Grant Chapman was unable to improve upon his third position on the ticket from 2001, which proved to be a losing proposition in 2007.

Cory Bernardi has thus far had two interrupted stints as a shadow parliamentary secretary. The first began after the 2007 election and ended in December 2009 when he related that a Liberal MP had told him he only chose the Liberal Party over Labor “to get into parliament”, and did too little to conceal that he was referring to factional moderate Christopher Pyne. Bernardi returned to the role when Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009, but again resigned in September 2012 after telling parliament that legalised bestiality marked “the next step” after gay marriage. This was deemed “ill-disciplined” by Tony Abbott and “extreme” and “hysterical” by Malcolm Turnbull, but Bernardi has recently defended the comments. Simon Birmingham has had a more stable time of things, serving as a shadow parliamentary secretary since December 2009.

The third candidate on the Liberal ticket is Cathie Webb, a metallurgist and the state party’s vice-president.

Nick Xenophon first entered politics after winning a seat in the state’s upper house on a “No Pokies” ticket at the 1997 election, polling 2.9% and harnessing an 8.3% quota after preferences. Once established in parliament, Xenophon’s deft hand at media stunts facilitated an enormous boost in his public profile, securing him a stunning 20.5% of the statewide vote when he sought re-election in 2006. This was sufficient to elect his running mate Ann Bressington as well as himself, and came very close to electing the number three candidate on his ticket as well. An emboldened Xenophon announced his run for the Senate shortly before the November 2007 election was called, although he was hampered during the campaign by a public falling out with Bressington. Xenophon’s 14.8% Senate vote was some distance short of his state election triumph, but easily enough to win him a Senate berth from which his profile has been enhanced still further.

Sarah Hanson-Young’s win at the 2007 election made her the state’s first Greens Senator and, at 25, the youngest woman ever elected to the federal parliament. Hanson-Young was previously the student association president at the University of Adelaide and had more recently worked for Amnesty International. She twice contested the party’s deputy leadership unsuccessfully during her debut term, the first time after the 2010 election and the second after Bob Brown’s departure in April 2012.

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

51 comments

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ros
Guest

I thin you meant to describe Bernardi as a crackpot conservative.

democracy@work
Guest

South Australia like all other states has seen a consolidation of the vote in t6eh last week of the campaign

Prediction

ALP 2, LNP 2 Xenophon 1 and a toss but for the last spot.
The LNP could secure a third seat or the Greens could creep over the line.

Hanson-Young is not a good Candidate. 50% of Xenophon’s surplus votes will flow to the Greens and 50% will top up the LNP.

PUP has 4% in SA and this will advantage the Greens

Andrew Dolt
Guest

I wonder why Democracy@work is having major hissy fits over Senator Hanson-Young. I would have thought Cory Bernardi was much more worth spluttering over, given his status as an insane moron from a different planet.

Jennifer Dillon
Guest

Dear Mr Bludger

How do you work out that the Dems had their origins in South Australia Has Don “keep the bastards honest” Chipp been forgotten already??

Jen Dillon

truth seeker
Guest

Hello all,

My forecasts are here.
http://originaltruthseeker.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/sa-senate-truthseeker-forecasts.html

Basically, I see the “other” vote as being slightly higher than my earlier estimates owing to a resurgance in PUP, and a strong FF candidate. My modelling is showing a split between NCT and GRN for the last spot, with GRN currently just ahead.

D@W – I have updated my scenario to get NCT elected – check my blog.

democracy@work
Guest

Dovif: The ALP will secure 2 seats. They would have to drop below 27% to only get one. So not think they will happen do you?

democracy@work
Guest

Today’s polls show PUP with 4% national Kap was at 1%

PUP has extensively emailed people across the county

I have not had NCTC elected in my analysis. I have sadly LNP 2 ALP 2 Xen 1 and Greens 1, much depends on the level of Xenophon are his surplus. Xenophon, contrary to the Greens lies on Preferences, has a split Ticket LNP on one side and the ALP Greens on the other. I do not see FF getting above 2.5-3.5% Greens should fall below 9%

TheSpeaker
Guest

Truthspeaker – I think you are right on the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics. It is very difficult to create scenarios where they don’t win a senate seat.

Adam R
Guest

I doubt that PUP and KAP will be anywhere near 3% combined. From what I have seen, they have minimal advertising presence and no word of mouth. Both are seen as Queensland parties, and SA is to parochial to support them.
FF, on the other hand, has been advertising heavily in Adelaide on TV, and has as many posters up as the major parties. I would expect FF to pick up a bit more from disenchanted LNP voters and get to around 5%.

dovif
Guest

democracy@work

Today’s Qld poll is showing that KAP and PUP are taking as much from the ALP side as the Liberal side in Qld country area.

There might be 20-25% taking off the ALP-Green/LNP 2PP, I would bet about 55% comes from the right and 45% from the left. The ALP/Green senate vote will be between 36-38% combined I do not see Greens > 8% or the ALP > 30%.

If I have to rate the last quota I would go 40% LNP, 25% greens, 10% no carbon tax, 25% FF.

The last 3 for the 6th senate spot is likely to be Green leading the LNP and FF, the KAP preference will be trapped in FF. Which will be an interesting count

democracy@work
Guest

I don’t think the Dem will get above 1& PUP and Katter together will get 3% Your right the minor parties will not do as well because of the Melbourne Cup field I still think the Greens will cross the line But it would be nice if they don’t. Hanson-Young is one of the worst Senators I have ever seen. FF can not get above the LNP surplus. I do not see the LNP getting above 37% Katter and PUP take from the LNP camp. but I am not on the ground in SA. I also think FF will not be 4% as a some of the christian groups will fall to Xen.

dovif
Guest

Sa was always the worst state for onp. My bet is pup and kap will not get 1%. My senate primary would be. Alp 30% greens 8% ff 4% lib 38% x 15%. Pup 1 kap 1 dem 1 others 2

Edi_Mahin
Guest

I agree that Xenophon takes from both sides of politics to get his votes.

Not sure Katter or PUP are going to get many votes in SA because of Xenophon. It would not surprise me to see no one other than Labour, Liberal, Xenophon, Greens and Family First get more than 1% of the vote.

democracy@work
Guest

Also Katter as well as PUP take from the LNP and end up delivering across to the Greens

democracy@work
Guest

Ed..i the X factor comes from the LNP not just Labor and other minor parties. See the 2007 results

democracy@work
Guest

I do not see Sex just taking votes from the left

I believe that the LNP will make up the bulk of the wasted quota I also believe that Greens are secure having picked up preferences from PUP and ALP Surplus I no not see LNP securing three quotas. I do not see X being a left draw card more conservative Personally I would be pleased if the Greens could lose out. But I can not see it. Not one of the numerous percentages used on the ABC Calculator has produced a Green loss. The 2-3% siphoned from the right will come from PUP and other parties that cross the line. Including Xen. This is all based on the above the line preference tables. I do not subscribe to teh theory of a linear transition from left to right. X rep[resents a large part of the right/LNP allocated split as does PUP All the smaller based parties place the majors low in preference. If the ALP continues to go back in the polls I may have to reassess on Thursday

Edi_Mahin
Guest

It is extremely hard to see how the Liberal Party will get less than 35% of the vote.

dovif
Guest

D@W

The left vote is 48%, for X to get 16% at least 9% will come from the ALP, that means the Greens+ ALP+ SEX + Socialist Allance will not be greater then 39% which will be way short of 3 Quota.

The LNP 2PP vote is 52%, if you expect their senate vote to be 33%, I am happy to give you 100/1 for that odd

Likelyhood is the LNP will lose 6-7% to X and the right minor/LNP will be around 44-45%, So unless the ALP/Greens can siphon 2-3% of the vote from the LNP/minor right parties, it will be ALP/Green/X/2 or3LNP/FF

or ALP2/X/3LNP

you seem to be working off primary vote that is not based on reality

democracy@work
Guest

Truth> To clarify my earlier point I have the ALP on 36 without X. I think Xen will attract 4-5% from the ALP, soak up most of they minor party cote in consolidation and take votes from the Greens and the LNP. IE every one drops because of Xen. I do niot see him polling much more than 16%

ALP 32% (2)
Xen 16% (1)
LNP 33% (2)
GRN 8% (1)
Wasted Quota 11%

Give or take a percentage point.

democracy@work
Guest

dofit you have to factor in the wasted quota. This is a quata that does no where . It is a system that distorts the proportionality of the vote and works against the majorit6y party unless it has 50% support. The Droop quota favours minor parties. Labor 2, LNP 2, Xen 1, Grn 1.

wpDiscuz