The New South Wales election was finalised today with the pressing of the button for the Legislative Council count, which turned up a surprise win for Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party. It had been clear that the last seat would go to a micro-party, but the expectation was that the winner would be Peter Jones of the No Land Tax Party, who had made a very considerable investment in his party’s campaign and won the ballot draw lottery by securing first place.

Despite that unanticipated win for what might broadly be defined as the Left, the Coalition has achieved its objective of an upper house in which it requires only one out of the Christian Democrats and Shooters & Fishers to win votes. In a chamber of 42 members, the Coalition has secured 20 by adding nine to their total of 11 from 2011, amounting to a net gain of one given they won eight seats in 2007. The Christian Democrats and Shooters & Fishers have as usual won a seat each, leaving them with two apiece. Despite their triumphs in the lower house, the Greens have been chastened in only winning two seats compared with three in 2011, leaving their total unchanged at five. Labor won seven seats for a total of 12, a net loss of two given they won nine seats in 2007.

Pearson’s win over Jones for the last position was achieved when the third Greens and tenth Coalition candidates were excluded, at which point five candidates were chasing four seats – Pearson, Jones, Robert Borsak of Shooters & Fishers, Fred Nile of the Christian Democrats, and seventh Labor candidate Courtney Houssos. Jones led Pearson by 2004 votes prior to this point, but the Greens exclusion boosted Pearson by 4887 relative to Jones, perhaps reflecting a surprisingly low rate of exhaustion among Greens voters. Furthermore, Pearson made a further net gain of 294 with the Coalition exclusion, which might also have been thought a bit of a surprise. That left Jones in last place with a 3177 deficit compared with Pearson, causing him to be excluded and the final seats to be allocated to Pearson, Borsak, Nile and Houssos.

In the Legislative Assembly, the final scores are 54 for the Coalition (the Liberals down 14 to 37 and the Nationals down two to 17), 34 for Labor (up 14), three for the Greens (retaining Balmain and further gaining Newtown and Ballina), and two re-elected independents (Alex Greenwich in Sydney and Greg Piper in Lake Macquarie). A quick round-up on how the close seats played out, seeing that I dropped the ball in following the late count:

Lismore. After an early scare, Thomas George ended up retaining the seat for the Nationals with a margin of 2.9%. The Greens were looking good on election night with 29.2% of the primary vote to 39.8% for the Nationals, but they got poleaxed on postal votes which favoured the Nationals by 53.7% to 16.6% (although iVotes, which bit into the postal vote total compared with 2011 and were recorded separately of them for the first time, were more like polling day votes), and absent votes were not more favourable for the Greens than polling day votes, like they had been in the past. The Greens were able to make it to the final count after finishing 417 votes clear of Labor, but by this point they needed a preference share exceeding that of the Nationals by an unlikely 52.7%, but were in fact able to manage only 35.5%.

Ballina. Tamara Smith has won Ballina for the Greens in convincing style, finishing 2258 clear of Labor at the second last count and winning ahead of the Nationals by 3.1%.

Gosford. Labor’s Kathy Smith eked out a 203-vote victory over the Liberal candidate, for a margin of 0.2%.

The Entrance. Labor candidate David Mehan’s long quest for a parliamentary career finally paid off with a 338 vote win over the Liberal candidate, a margin of 0.4%.

East Hills. Liberal member Glenn Brookes finished 372 votes clear of Labor’s Cameron Murphy, a margin of 0.4%.

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