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Federal Election 2013

Sep 8, 2013


Friday 3pm. Absents have now been wrapped up: 298 were disallowed, and the last 105 counted have broken 59-46 to Palmer, increasing his lead from 98 to 111. Still to be processed are 415 pre-polls and 155 postals, of which Ted O’Brien would need nearly 60%. However, the comment from Julian T below suggests that a number of the pre-polls will likewise be disallowed, and have been left out of the count to this point pending a final determination on the matter. If that’s so, Palmer looks to have it wrapped up, pending what might show up on a recount.

Thursday 5pm. The race that’s stopping the nation has today seen the addition only of 201 provisionals, which were the biggest imponderable of the remaining count. It turns out that they have broken very handily to Clive Palmer, 148-53, boosting his lead from three to 98. Still outstanding: about 650 absents and as many pre-polls, and about 150 postals. If they break as such votes have until now, the LNP will only be able to carve about 50 votes out of Palmer’s lead. UPDATE: Julian T in comments observes that a number of the supposedly outstanding pre-polls and absents will not in fact make it into account by virtue of being “disallowed”, as they involve voters submitting votes for Fairfax when they actually turned out to be enrolled elsewhere in Queensland. Ballots from such voters can be admitted for the Senate, but not the House. That likely makes the hill very difficult for Ted O’Brien to climb.

Wednesday 4pm. Clive Palmer lost the lead earlier today but at the time or writing has recovered it – by three votes. Troublingly for Palmer (assuming he does actually want to win), a batch of 395 absents were less good for him than those admitted previously, going 52.6-47.3 his way against a grand total of 56.6-43.4. By contrast, 474 pre-polls have maintained their trend of going 58-42 against him. Still to come: about 650 absents, on which he would hope to gain maybe 80; 550 pre-polls, on which he should lose them again; a trickle of postals (100, perhaps) that would then be likely to put him behind; and about 200 provisionals which will do who-knows-what.

Tuesday 6pm. From 502 on the weekend to 362 yesterday, Clive Palmer’s lead has now worn down to 65 after today’s counting of pre-polls went 830-588 against him and postals went 436-378. However, the postals were somewhat less bad for him than previous batches, and there’s now very few of them left. The bulk of the outstanding vote consists of about 1000 absents and pre-polls each, which appear likely to cancel each other out with the former going 57.0-43.0 for Palmer and the latter going 57.5-42.5 against. There are also likely to be about 200 provisional votes, which are an unknown quantity. Assuming the latter go 50-50, I’m currently projecting Palmer to win by 34 votes.

Monday 7:30pm. The AEC explains the Coolum Beach anomaly. Clive Palmer sought a Federal Court injunction today to have counting suspended, though to what end I’m not quite sure. As the AEC notes, the normal practice would be to petition the Court of Disputed Returns. The court has so far reserved its decision.

Monday 7pm. It appears the Coolum Beach PPVC mystery has finally been resolved. The votes for that booth had incorrectly been entered for the Buderim PPVC and vice-versa, and only now has the error been corrected. Since there are still no Senate votes recorded for Buderim PPVC, my earlier scatterplot did not show up a corresponding error for that booth. While it doesn’t look like there will be salvation for Clive Palmer in the form an uncovered vote count anomaly, he has gained ground with the addition of 1291 absent votes which continue to favour him quite strongly, in this case breaking 722-569 his way and giving his faltering lead a badly needed boost from 209 to 362.

Monday 4pm. Looks to be going right down to the wire, with another 1223 postal votes slashing Palmer’s lead by 293 to 209. There remain to come 2400 absents and a similar number of pre-polls, which have respectively been heavily favouring Palmer and O’Brien, along with maybe 500 postals which have been favouring O’Brien 62-38. My projection of where this is headed leaves nothing in it. In other news, Clive Palmer has today been raising the issue of the Coolum Beach PPVC discrepancy, though not in a way that might inspire the casual observer with confidence in his claims.

Saturday 8pm. Another 1306 pre-polls have gone badly for Clive Palmer, favouring Ted O’Brien 762-544 and cutting Palmer’s lead from 718 to 502. My projection of the share of the outstanding 7200 or so votes needed by O’Brien is down to 53.5% (assuming once again that nothing comes of this Coolum Beach PPVC anomaly).

Friday 3pm. Another 1792 postals have been just as favourable to Ted O’Brien as earlier batches, cutting 414 into a lead for Palmer that now stands at 718. There should be a bit over 2000 to come, which should further cut into Palmer’s lead by about 550. That leaves the result well and truly down to absents and pre-polls, the likely behaviour of which is a bit of a mystery at this stage. As to the apparent Coolum Beach anomaly, the commenter who raised the matter has received what to my mind is an unsatisfactory response from an AEC worker who appears not to have properly grasped the issue.

Thursday evening. Leaving aside the Coolum Beach PPVC issue, which is yet to acquire a life independent of this website, postals are flowing heavily enough to LNP to suggest an extremely close result. The addition of 2363 have cut 611 votes from Palmer’s lead, and could potentially take out a further 1000 of the remaining 1132 if there are indeed 4000 of them outstanding and they continue to behave like the previous batch. However, Palmer has done much better out of 855 absents, on which he has gained 79 votes and of which there are about 2000 more to come. There are also around 2000 pre-polls, which look likely to favour the LNP.

Wednesday evening. Michal Klaus in comments notes that the Coolum Beach pre-poll voting centre booth, the addition of which did so much to swing the count in Ted O’Brien’s favour, “could be one of the most extreme outliers anywhere in Australia”. He’s not wrong:

As the above chart clearly shows, the 55.87% primary vote recorded for Ted O’Brien at the booth is entirely out of whack with its 36.27% Senate vote for the Liberal National Party. There are also 575 more votes recorded there for the House than the Senate. Clearly there is an Indi-style error waiting to be uncovered here, either in relation to the House or the Senate vote. Given there are ballpark similarities between the Coolum booths for the Senate and a strong discrepancy with Coolum Beach PPVC on the House numbers, it seems safe to assume that the error is with the House results, and that Ted O’Brien’s tally is consequently higher than it should be. To shift the Coolum Beach PPVC data point to where it should be in the above chart, about 1000 votes need to be deducted from O’Brien’s total.

Wednesday 5pm. The count continues to trend away from Clive Palmer overall, who perhaps faces a further headache from the yet-to-report “BLV Fairfax” pre-poll voting centre in Maroochydore. If it’s anything like the other PPVCs in Maroochydore, it could cost Palmer as much as 1000 votes of a lead which currently sits at 1664 (UPDATE: LTEP notes in comments that the BLV booths in fact do very limited business). Other late counting has been a mixed bag, with absent votes favouring Palmer 827-565, but pre-polls going 381-328 the other way. The total number of such votes should perhaps be around 4500 and 2500, and there should further be about 5000 postals, none of which have been counted yet. So a fair bit of life in this one yet.

Election night. I don’t believe Antony’s projection of 50.9% to Clive Palmer is based on anything other than a guesstimate as to preferences. It’s still clearly the best thing available, but the 0.9% figure would be well within its margin of error. I’m guessing the AEC will conduct a preference throw in fairly short order that will put the issue beyond doubt one way or the other.


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193 thoughts on “Photo finishes: Fairfax

  1. Kevin Bonham

    Palmer currently needs a 71.26% share of preferences over the LNP, which is slightly higher than what Wilkie got over Labor in 2010. It will probably go up before the starting gun is fired. I think this one is interesting but I’m not as bullish for Palmer as Antony.


  2. ruawake

    Clive ahead by 300 votes with all the “money” booths counted in Buderim. I cannot see him losing form here.

  3. Kevin Bonham

    I have him losing most but not all of his current lead as there are some nasty PPVCs for him to come. As a rough back of envelope his opponent should still be in it.

  4. ruawake

    Clive now ahead by 2,985 votes, its over Kevin. I had an advantage talking to scrutineers.

  5. Kevin Bonham

    There are still three large and very nasty PPVC booths to come in which the LNP beat him 8812-4534 on primaries, which is a margin about 2000 votes greater than the electorate average for so many votes. He may well still be several hundred ahead after those which will be a strong position if so.

    Scrutineering info is no longer an advantage. This is about modelling now.

  6. Edi_Mahin

    I agree with Kevin, Palmer is going to lose quite a lot of his advantage with the PPVC booths. I am not modeling but just look at how much he lost those booths

  7. ruawake

    Nambour PPVC kills Ted dead. 😛

  8. DodgyDave

    Dr Kevin – what do you think is the maximum gap that Ted O’Brien could make up from postals etc?
    So far Palmer has got about 75.0% of the preference flow which should leave him about 1700 or so ahead before counting the rest.

  9. DodgyDave

    I think I may be able to answer my own question:
    in 2010 O’Brien gained a net benefit over his Labor opponent of:
    ABSENT: +269
    PRE_POLL: +492*
    POSTAL: +1,721
    PROVIS’L: -18
    Total: +2,464
    I assume the AEC PRE-POLL category is different from the PPVC centres which are shown separately in both 2010 & 2013.

    These figures are 2PP against a Labor opponent (who was probably running minimal advertising unlike Palmer) but I’m not sure how well organised Palmer would have been for encouraging postal votes. I can’t see the Greens or Labor would have been pushing hard to help him.

    If Palmer has about a 1600-1750 lead before the above, then O’Brien may not yet be dead but I suspect it will be very close.

  10. DodgyDave

    Oops it was actually Alex Somlyay not Ted O’Brien in 2010 which may have some effect.

  11. ruawake


    The ALP branch member got 787 votes. I would not assume what the branch members were doing. 😉

  12. DodgyDave


    Is that ALP postal votes?

    If so it’s down on last time (ALP got 1146 first preference postal votes) but perhaps roughly consistent with the fall in their first preference ordinary vote (about 1/3).

    The big question is how many did Palmer get? Has he picked up the Labor drop in postals and (presumably) pre-poll?

    The LNP have done quite well in Fairfax on non-ordinary votes in the last two elections.

  13. Kevin Bonham

    I like to look at the ground to be gained as 2PP rather than raw votes when comparing 2010 data. In 2010 the total gain for the Coalition in Fairfax from ordinary votes to final was 0.6% 2PP. So if that is repeated it’s enough to turn 50.6% 2PP for Clive into dead level. That 0.6 is about double the 2010 national average. But there are differences:

    1. Sitting Coalition member defending vs new Coalition candidate. Though I can’t find evidence that this one tends to matter much. (A new candidate may suffer equally in postals to on the day.)

    2. Growth of the PUP vote through the final days, meaning that out of electorate prepolls might be bad for Palmer.

    I’ll do detailed analysis when I get home but I’d say even 51:49 at the end of ordinaries is not so safe that one should call it done and dusted; I’d want to see some votes in various categories first. (David Barry has Clive modelled at 50.7 after all the ordinaries.)

    The Coalition only improved more than a point in three electorates in 2010 – one was Melbourne Ports (Jewish population not voting on the day) and the big two (massive outliers!) were Maranoa and Flynn.

  14. Kevin Bonham

    Ran out of energy for heavy crunching tonight, might do some tomorrow!

  15. ruawake

    [Is that ALP postal votes?]

    No the local branch member stood as an independent.

    One thing on pre-polls. It was Noosa show day on Friday, many people in Fairfax would have had a long weekend. So absentee may vary from the norm. (May not too).

  16. DodgyDave

    50.9/49.1 (1200-1400 votes) – right at the border of what you believe is reversible?

    My estimate is based on joining the polling place primary and 2PP figures, getting the average third party preference rate flow to PUP for the published polling places (74.7%) and applying it to the outstanding ones.

    Also Coolum Beach PPVC has been added overnight and the downloadable primary votes updated (there were small discrepancies yesterday between these and the 2PP because the primary download is only updated at the end of the day).

    C’mon Ted (normally I’d be rooting for the other side but Palmer is a shonky spiv too far IMHO)

  17. DodgyDave

    The first line of my previous comment got lost – it just said that my estimate at the end of ordinary votes is 50.0/49.1.

  18. DodgyDave

    I really this one could go down to the wire.

    According to the AEC download there have been 6232 postal votes received so far in Fairfax which is up on last time (5,089).
    In 2010 Somlyay did 11% better 2PP on postals than he did on ordinary votes (67.37% v 56.35%).
    If you assume that O’Brien does similarly this time on postal votes (ie 11% above ordinary votes) then he will get about 60% 2PP.
    That would translate to a roughly 1200 vote catch-up, not far short of my estimate that Palmer will have a 1200-1400 vote lead after ordinary votes.

    So O’Brien not far behind with absent and pre-poll to come.


  19. DodgyDave

    Interesting interview with Clive Palmer today at:


    After claiming victory in Fairfax yesterday today he says he expects to lose by a few hundred votes – apparently because of electoral corruption. UN election observers would consider our election unfair he says.

    The most interesting tidbit is his comment that if he doesn’t win in Fairfax, PUP senators would block Tony Abbott’s policies until there is electoral reform.

    Perhaps another good reason to hope that Clive loses?

  20. Kevin Bonham

    Unfortunately Clive’s idea of electoral reform probably involves making the system impractical and discriminatory while fixing nothing that needs fixing; certainly the impression I got from his interview today.

  21. DodgyDave

    It was more I was hoping that he blocks some of Abbot’s policies than hoping that Clive actually comes up with a sensible idea. Anybody who expects the latter will be disappointed IMHO.

  22. Kevin Bonham


    50.9/49.1 (1200-1400 votes) – right at the border of what you believe is reversible?

    I now believe even 51.5 could potentially be reversible in this seat.

  23. ltep

    Bit more counting and Palmer’s lead now down to 1053 votes, but still haven’t counted Nambour PPVC, which should be good for him.

  24. DodgyDave

    Finally an update in Fairfax – the Maroochydore FAIRFAX PPVC figures have been added and a first batch of PRE_POLL figures.

    Clive’s lead cut to 1,053 or 50.83%/49.17%.

    He actually didn’t do too bad at Maroochydore PPVC, getting 76.7% of preferences, above his average (was 74.7%).

    There is just one big ordinary polling station to come – Nambour PPVC which will be favourable to Palmer. My estimate of his 2PP share after ordinary votes has edged up to 51.0% after rounding.

    BUT Palmer did badly in the first small batch of PRE_POLL figures – only 712 votes but they went to O’Brien 53.65% to 46.35%.

    This one is going to depend on the postals.

  25. DodgyDave

    I should add that Palmer got only a 61.6% preference flow in that first batch of PRE_POLL votes.

    It’s only a single small sample but if it were to keep up over the declaration votes, he is gone.

  26. Kevin Bonham

    I have just modelled this off the 2010 results assuming 51.1 2PP after Nambour, all postal votes returned and a similar proportion of rejections on absents as so far and informals on so far. The “all postal votes returned” is probably too kind to the LNP but perhaps so is the assumption that their advantage over Palmer in post-count cf on the day will be no bigger than their advantage over ALP last time. Anyway this rather rubbery exercise projected Palmer losing by 70 votes; the +/- on that estimate being large. This is nowhere near over yet.

  27. DodgyDave

    “This is nowhere near over yet.” from #26.

    I agree completely.

    The lawyers will be salivating at the fees they’ll earn on this one.

  28. ruawake

    The fall in Family First votes have hurt O’Brien.

  29. DodgyDave

    Nambour PPVC included now.

    Palmer back out to a lead of 1,391 or 50.99/49.01%.

  30. DodgyDave

    ruawake re #28

    Agreed but I am even more surprised in the low ONP vote – they seem to have shifted to Palmer?

  31. DodgyDave

    Incidentally Nambour PPVC was average for Palmer in terms of flow of preferences – 74.75% (overall average is 74.67%).

    Now that tonight’s primary votes download is available, I can amend my calculation for Maroochydore PPVC. I think the preference flow was 76.0% rather than 76.7%.

    The first batch of PRE_POLLs at 61.5% preference flow is the interesting one though. Is it the start of a trend or a blip?

  32. ruawake

    [Agreed but I am even more surprised in the low ONP vote – they seem to have shifted to Palmer?]

    Not sure, they really are a spent force in Qld now. FF use to have volunteers handing out for them, none this time. Same with ON.

  33. Kevin Bonham

    Wow look at Clive go on the absent votes!

  34. DodgyDave

    Been out today, so only just looked in on this.

    Postals: O’Brien getting what he needs from first batch (63.19%)
    BUT …
    Absents: Wow!

    So cancelling each other out.

    That’s an extraordinary effort on absents from Palmer.
    ruawake – are you aware of any special factors or explanation?

  35. Kevin Bonham

    As William just pointed out re Barton we don’t know where those absents come from yet. They may be from somewhere that is naturally anti-Coalition and hence may not be representative.

  36. ltep

    William, do you have any reason to believe there’ll be enough votes in the BLV booth to damage Palmer by 1000 votes? The BLV polling places tend to be very low volume don’t they? Other electorates I’ve seen tend not to have huge numbers of votes in the BLV centres.

  37. Michal Klaus

    In view of the Wangaratta PPVC being investigated yesterday (Indi) and a 1000 vote error found, it appears there is a strong case for looking into the Coolum Beach PPVC – it returned only 37% TPP to PUP when the main Coolum Beach booth returned 61% (Primary vote to PUP was recorded as DOUBLE at the PPVC!), and other PPVC’s on the Sunshine Coast were roughly around 10% lower for PUP than their local booths. In addition, votes cast were apparently five (!!) times higher than the 2010 votes cast. I realise pre-polls were much higher elsewhere, even around double, but a five-fold increase seems absurd and unbelievable. At any rate, this booth could be one of the most extreme outliers anywhere in Australia.

  38. Michal Klaus

    *correction: Primary vote to LNP was recorded as DOUBLE at the PPVC

  39. Michal Klaus

    Total votes cast at Coolum Beach PPVC: Senate 3198 (LNP 39%), HR 3966 (LNP 56%). More than ever, I maintain that this cannot be correct, under any circumstances. The Senate vote should be approximately the same, based on the rest of Queensland for the LNP and the fact that PUP’s Senate vote was in fact lower than the HR vote. Under no circumstances could ballots submitted for the HR (including any informals) be that much higher.

  40. Michal Klaus

    In the HR 56% by the way

  41. Michal Klaus

    In the HR the LNP’s vote is 56% by the way…totally unbelievable based on the Senate vote

  42. SgtThursday

    While I think that the trend is pretty damning and points to something like a 1000-vote bundle being misplaced or mislabelled – I will offer one alternative.

    I had the “good fortune” to stay at the Palmer Coolum resort last year. If the staff there voted at Coolum Beach, I reckon there’s a better than even chance that they used their votes to give some anonymous feedback to the boss.

  43. SgtThursday

    That of course ignores all of the other evidence presented above, which is pretty compelling.

    (But, seriously… go, visit the resort. You’ll see what I’m getting at.)

  44. DodgyDave

    Michael Klaus – Great spot!

    Has anybody alerted the AEC?

  45. ltep

    Postals, unsurprisingly, not looking great for Palmer.

  46. Michal Klaus

    I couldn’t reach them by phone, so I emailed this:

    In looking at the count for this Division, I noticed that almost 800 more votes have been recorded for the House of Representatives than for the Senate, for the Coolum Beach PPVC.

    It further appears most likely that either all excess votes have been placed in the LNP column in error, or that there is a missing batch of votes wholly belonging in the PUP column.

    My reasoning is:
    – The House of Representatives vote for the LNP is around 19% higher than the Senate vote for the LNP at the Coolum Beach PPVC, while the House and Senate votes for the LNP are very similar (mostly within 1-2%) at all other polling places.
    – The other booths around Coolum Beach show a deviation from the PPVC result in the 20-25% range (approx.), while there is a 0-13% range (approx.) when comparing other PPVC with their local polling places.

  47. DodgyDave

    Re #45.
    Yes O’Brien closing the gap on postals and may have actually got there depending upon what happened with the rest of the Absent votes.
    BUT I think Michal is right.
    The LNP vote is probably overstated in Coolum Beach PPVC by about 800 which if corrected should see Palmer get home.

    Mind you if the current vote tallies are not corrected then expect the mother of all legal battles from Clive along with outraged claims of vote rigging, ballot stuffing etc.

  48. SgtThursday

    ltep@45: Unsurprisingly to all but Palmer himself who will no doubt be claiming corruption…

    (so maybe unsurprising for a different reason)

  49. Kevin Bonham

    Stunning stuff. First Indi now Fairfax. How many others?

    If this is really what has happened then this is sloppy. Vote counts from a booth should be tallied against votes issued from a booth prior to publication, and not published if there are large errors until the errors are accounted for. I thought this was standard procedure.

  50. DodgyDave

    A review of procedures definitely appears necessary.

    However I wouldn’t want to be too critical of the AEC and blow this up into something that undermines confidence in our electoral system. There are thousands of tallies being done around the country and the occasional error will occur (and which may be corrected before results are finalised).

    I can imagine that in high pressure counts like Fairfax & Indi it may be more likely to happen because of the number of staff and scrutineers present when the PPVC votes are being counted (24 AEC staff and over 80 scrutineers in Indi I believe) which gives greater opportunity for confusion and, hopefully temporary, errors.


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