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JULIA 2010: The caretaker election

 

Edited by Marian Simms and John Wanna

  1. Download this book
  2. First page
  3. Julia 2010: The caretaker election - cover
  4. Title page
  5. Imprint and copyright information
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Contributors
  8. Abbreviations
  9. 1. The Caretaker Election of 2010: ‘Julia 10’ versus ‘Tony 10’ and the onset of minority government - Marian Simms and John Wanna
  10. Part 1. Leaders, Ideologies and the Campaign
  11. 2. Diary of an Election - Marian Simms
  12. 3. Bad Governments Lose: Surely there is no mystery there - Rodney Cavalier
  13. 4. The Ideological Contest - Carol Johnson
  14. Part 2. The Media and the Polls
  15. 5. The New Media and the Campaign - Peter John Chen
  16. 6. To the Second Decimal Point: How the polls vied to predict the national vote, monitor the marginals and second-guess the Senate - Murray Goot
  17. 7. Debates, Town-Hall Meetings and Media Interviews - Geoffrey Craig
  18. 8. May the Less Threatening Leader of the Opposition Win: The cartoonists’ view of election 2010 - Haydon Manning and Robert Phiddian
  19. Part 3. The Parties’ Perspectives
  20. 9. The 2010 Federal Election: The Liberal Party - Brian Loughnane
  21. 10. The Australian Labor Party - Elias Hallaj
  22. 11. The Greens - Andrew Bartlett
  23. Part 4. The States and Regions
  24. 12. New South Wales - Elaine Thompson and Geoff Robinson
  25. 13. Victoria - Nick Economou
  26. 14. South Australia - Dean Jaensch
  27. 15. The Northern Territory - Dean Jaensch
  28. 16. Tasmania - Tony McCall
  29. 17. The Australian Capital Territory - Malcolm Mackerras
  30. 18. Queensland - Ian Ward
  31. 19. Western Australia at the Polls: A case of resurgent regionalism - Narelle Miragliotta and Campbell Sharman
  32. 20. Rural and Regional Australia: The ultimate winners? - Jennifer Curtin and Dennis Woodward
  33. Part 5. Policies and Issues
  34. 21. Managing Gender: The 2010 federal election - Marian Sawer
  35. 22. Immigration Issues in the 2010 Federal Election - James Jupp
  36. 23. The Influence of Unions and Business in the 2010 Federal Election: Claims of ‘slash and burn’ and ‘still no response and no answers’ - John Wanna
  37. 24. Environmental Issues and the 2010 Campaign - Geordan Graetz and Haydon Manning
  38. 25. Religion and the 2010 Election: Elephants in the room - John Warhurst
  39. Part 6. Election Results
  40. 26. The Results and the Pendulum - Malcolm Mackerras
  41. 27. Electoral Behaviour in the 2010 Australian Federal Election - Clive Bean and Ian McAllister
  42. 28. Seventeen Days to Power: Making a minority government - Brian Costar

26. The Results and the Pendulum

Malcolm Mackerras

The two most interesting features of the 2010 election were that it was close and it was an early election. Since early elections are two-a-penny in our system, I shall deal with the closeness of the election first. The early nature of the election does, however, deserve consideration because it was early on two counts. These are considered below. Of our 43 general elections so far, this was the only one both to be close and to be an early election.

Table 26.1 Months of General Elections for the Australian House of Representatives, 1901–2010

Month

Number

Years

March

5

1901,1983, 1990, 1993, 1996

April

2

1910, 1951

May

4

1913, 1917, 1954, 1974

July

1

1987

August

2

1943, 2010

September

4

1914, 1934, 1940, 1946

October

6

1929, 1937, 1969, 1980, 1998, 2004

November

7

1925, 1928, 1958, 1963, 1966, 2001, 2007

December

12

1903, 1906, 1919, 1922, 1931, 1949, 1955, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1984

Total

43

The Close Election

In the immediate aftermath of polling day, several commentators described this as the closest election in Australian federal history. While I can see why people would say that, I describe it differently. As far as I am concerned, there have been 43 general elections for our House of Representatives of which four can reasonably be described as having been close. They are the House of Representatives plus half-Senate elections held on 31 May 1913, 21 September 1940, 9 December 1961 and 21 August 2010. There has, in my analysis, never been a close double-dissolution election or one for the House of Representatives only.

The 1913 and 1961 elections did not produce a hung parliament. They were so close, however, as to result in the early dissolution of the 5th Parliament and the 24th Parliament respectively. The 1940 election did produce a hung parliament, which ran its full term. (For a discussion of the expression ‘full term’, see below.) Eventually, we shall discover the history of the 43rd Parliament. My guess is that it will run to a full term, as did the 16th Parliament, elected in 1940.

Born in 1939, and professionally employed in politics since 1959, I have very good memories of December 1961 and August 2010. There are, in my opinion, two important differences. In 1961 two seats were very closely contested: Moreton, won by the Liberal Party, and Evans, won by Labor. In 2010 none was. For that reason, I consider 1961 to have been closer than 2010. More importantly, perhaps, the closeness of the 1961 election came as a complete shock. In contrast, in 2010 we had a predicted close election. I have been through the 2010 polling-day predictions of the experts. Every recognised analyst predicted a close result.

For 1913 and 1940, I must rely on the journalists of the day. For example, A. N. Smith wrote a magnificent book, Thirty Years: The Commonwealth of Australia, 1901–1931, which was published in Melbourne in 1933. Referring to the defeat of Andrew Fisher’s Labor Government, he wrote, on pages 129 and 130:

The elections took place on 31st May and were singularly inconclusive. The early counting showed that the party numbers in the House of Representatives were likely to be almost equal. For several days the result depended upon the counting of votes from the outer districts of two widely scattered electorates of New South Wales. In the Riverina Division the retiring Labor member was fiercely assailed by a strong opponent. In the adjoining Hume Division the veteran Sir William Lyne, who had supported the Labor Government, was also on the defence. The final returns were against both and the seats went to the Opposition. Against these was to be set Ballarat, vacated by Mr. Deakin, where, after a similar close contest, the seat went to Labor by a small majority.

After ten or twelve days of doubt the Labor Party lost command of the House of Representatives by one member. Its losses included five seats in New South Wales and four in Victoria. But it won Bendigo from Sir John Quick, who had been a member of the Federal Convention, and to whom Federation owed so much, and also seats in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The Liberals secured 38 seats against 37 gained by the Labor Party.

The records tell us that the second term of the Fisher Government ran from 29 April 1910 to 24 June 1913. More importantly, they tell us that in Hume the votes were 11 575 for Robert Patten (Liberal) and 11 236 for Sir William Lyne. In Riverina the votes were 11 674 for Franc Brereton Sadleir Falkiner (Liberal) and 11 208 for the sitting Labor Member, John Moore Chanter. These were close results but they were not nearly as close as Moreton in 1961. For that reason, I consider the 1961 election to have been closer than in 1913. The 5th Parliament first met on 9 July 1913 and was dissolved on 30 July 1914, so its length was one year and 21 days. Thus, here was a case of an early dissolution: a double dissolution.

The circumstances of the 1940 election are best described by Don Whitington in his book The House will Divide, which was first published in Melbourne in 1954. In his Chapter 9, ‘The Menzies governments: 1939–1940’, he writes:

Just before the 1940 elections three senior ministers—the Army Minister, G. A., Street; the Vice President of the Executive Council, Sir Henry Gullett; and the Minister for Air, J. V. Fairbairn, were killed in an air crash near Canberra. It was alleged, but never proved, that Fairbairn was flying the machine, a service aircraft, as it approached Canberra airport to land. This was the worst misfortune the Government had experienced, for all three were capable ministers, and all were administering departments directly connected with the war effort.

Worse was to follow, from Menzies’ point of view, because at the general election in September 1940 the Government lost its majority. Government and Labor parties were returned with 36 each, two Independents holding the balance of power. Thus was ushered in what was probably the most fantastic era in Australian politics, an era in which the Commonwealth had a Government depending for survival on the votes of two Independents, but with elements within its own ranks which were not prepared to subjugate personal ambitions and prejudices to the prosecution of the war. (Whitington 1954, 73)

On page 74, in Chapter 10, ‘Twelve months’ turmoil’, Whitington writes:

As sometimes happens in politics, the minor issues of the 1940 election, which were virtually ignored, were more significant than the events which occupied the public eye.

Not until the election was over, for instance, was the full importance appreciated of the two men who held the balance of power in the new Parliament. One was A. W. Coles, one of two brothers who had created what was by then one of the biggest chain store organizations in Australia; the other was Alex Wilson, a Victorian wheat farmer of the post World War I era, who, like most of his fellows, had financial dealings with the private banks about which he retained a sense of grievance.

Coles entered the Parliament as the Independent member for the Victorian seat of Henty, but joined the U. A. P. [United Australia Party] about eight months later. Wilson was elected as an Independent Country Party candidate, and announced that he would support the Government, though it was known his support would be conditional on the Government meeting his wishes on a number of matters, particularly financial policy.

Menzies lost the office of Prime Minister to Arthur Fadden on 29 August 1941. Then the Fadden Government was defeated in the House of Representatives on a vote described by Whitington in Chapter 10 (1954, 84–85) as follows:

Curtin moved: ‘That while agreeing that the expenditure requisite for the maximum prosecution of the war should be provided by Parliament, the Committee is opposed to unjust methods prescribed by the Budget, declares that they are contrary to equality of sacrifice, and directs that the plan of the Budget should be recast to ensure a more equitable distribution of the national burden.’

Curtin knew—though few others did—that he would have the support of both Coles and Wilson. In a brief speech, Coles said: ‘I regard the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition as a motion of want of confidence in the Government. [There is]…a loss of confidence in the Government’s ability to carry on and to wage the maximum war effort. I told the Prime Minister I would vote against this Government today because he cannot give any assurance to the Parliament. He gave to the Governor-General an assurance he was not justified in giving because he had not consulted me. I told those Ministers who approached me when the ex-Prime Minister was being removed that I would not stand for it and that I would not support the Government.’

Wilson said he would support Labor also because he disapproved of the Government’s financial policy.

Curtin’s amendment was carried, and the Government resigned. Nairn, the U. A. P. Speaker, agreed to carry on under Labor, which gave it an extra vote in the House. The Curtin Cabinet was sworn in on October 7, 1941.

The truly interesting feature of the 16th Parliament is that it remained (until 2010) the sole hung parliament of the past 100 years. Yet it lasted for a full term of three years. Part of the reason for this stability was that there was a change of government during the term.

I remember the 1961 election very well indeed. From October 1959, I was a research officer with the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party and on polling night in 1961 I went into the tally room in Canberra with the same attitude as everybody else: Menzies was going to win, probably with minimal losses of seats. Menzies was a political genius who had always won bigger than expected so the same would happen again. There was only one opinion poll at the time. Released on Thursday, 7 December, it showed 47 per cent intending to vote Liberal-Country Party, 47 per cent for Labor and 6 per cent for the anti-Labor Democratic Labor Party (DLP)—a result that, in two-party preferred terms, represented an electorate dividing nearly 53–47 per cent in favour of Menzies. In other words, the swing to Labor was predicted to be only a little more than 1 per cent.

The polls closed at 8 pm in those days, and I gathered in the small tally room with the then Federal Director, Bob Willoughby. We were a bit shocked that Wide Bay was early looking like a loss to Labor, but it was a Country Party seat! We could not believe the figures being posted for Cowper where Sir Earle Page looked to be in trouble. In our disbelief, we asked Frank Ley, the Chief Electoral Officer, to check the Cowper figures, which, we thought, could not possibly be correct. Ley assured us they were correct. Anyway Cowper, like Wide Bay, was also a Country Party seat!

Willoughby was a bit disappointed at the emerging picture but he displayed no sign of recognising the danger to the government. The Sun-Herald on 10 December ran the headline ‘LIBS BACK, but with a reduced majority’. Arthur Calwell was reported to have conceded defeat to reporters at 11 pm on election night. Late on that Sunday, Willoughby and I did some figure work and concluded that the probable result was a 61–61 seat draw. The press did not, however, seem fully to understand. The Monday-morning headline in the Sydney Morning Herald was ‘Swing against Menzies grows’, but the paper believed the government had been returned. In The Canberra Times, the swing was noted but ‘[t]he government will, however, retain a working majority in the House of Representatives’.

In our belief that the result would be a 61–61 draw, we were convinced there would have to be another election. If the Liberal Party agreed to provide the speakership then it would give Labor a one-seat majority. Anyway, on 18 December the result became known. The seat of Moreton in Queensland was retained by Jim Killen and the result was 62–60 in favour of Menzies.

I consider 1961 to have been our closest election so I explain by comparing Moreton in 1961 with Corangamite in 2010. In the Moreton case the final win by Killen was with a majority of 130 votes: 26 239 for Killen (Liberal) and 26 109 for O’Donnell (Labor). In percentage terms that was 50.12 per cent for Killen and 49.88 per cent for O’Donnell. In the Corangamite case, the final win by Darren Cheeseman was with a majority of 771 votes: 47 235 for Cheeseman (Labor) and 46 464 for Sarah Henderson (Liberal). In percentage terms that was 50.41 per cent for Cheeseman and 49.59 per cent for Henderson.

The close 1961 and 2010 elections make for an interesting comparative exercise, with party roles reversed. In both cases a Queensland anti-government landslide nearly brought the government down. In both cases, however, Victoria saved the government. In both cases, the system of compulsory preferences saved the party in power. In 1961 the 80–20 distribution of DLP preferences in favour of the Coalition saved the Liberal Party the seats of Bennelong (NSW), Bruce (Vic.), Maribyrnong (Vic.) and Moreton (Qld) where Labor candidates led on the primary vote. In 2010 the 80–20 distribution of the preferences of the Greens in favour of Labor saved them the seats of Banks, Reid and Robertson in New South Wales, Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe in Victoria and Lilley and Moreton in Queensland where Liberal candidates led on the primary vote.

The contrasts between the cases are, first, between a long-term Liberal prime minister (Bob Menzies) saved by the system and a short-term Labor prime minister (Julia Gillard) equivalently saved. Second, the Menzies 62–60 win gave him majority government, but the Gillard 76–74 win gave her only minority government. Against that it should be noted (see Table 26.5) that the Menzies Government failed to win a majority of the two-party preferred vote in 1961 whereas the Gillard Government succeeded in that respect in 2010.

The 24th Parliament first met on 20 February 1962 and was dissolved on 1 November 1963, so its length was one year, eight months and 13 days. The November 1963 general election was for the House of Representatives only, accompanied by one Senate casual vacancy election in Queensland. The 43rd Parliament first met on 28 September 2010 and we shall find out its history soon enough. I feel sure it will run full term.

The Early Election

To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person who has ever defined the term ‘early election’ and I shall do that below. In the meantime, I want to say something about the date 21 August, the date sensibly chosen by Julia Gillard. During the 1940s there were four general elections for the House of Representatives accompanied by the normal periodical election for half the Senate. They were held on 21 September 1940, 21 August 1943, 28 September 1946 and 10 December 1949. So the calendars for 1943 and 2010 were identical. Both in 1943 and again in 2010, the elections were the earliest in terms of the time distance from the expiry of the terms of existing senators—namely, 30 June 1944 and 30 June 2011. In 1943 the Australian people replaced a hung parliament with a Labor-majority parliament. In 2010 they did the reverse of that.

It is worth noticing that the Curtin election of 21 August 1943 was a one-option vote. There were no double-dissolution ‘triggers’ in 1943 so Curtin had to make it for the House of Representatives and half the Senate. In contrast, Gillard had a choice not available to Curtin: with 14 ‘trigger’ bills on the list (11 of which related to the carbon pollution reduction scheme), there could have been a double dissolution. In the end, however, she made the same choice as Curtin. There have been three winter elections—all called by Labor prime ministers. The third was the double-dissolution election held on 11 July 1987, called by Bob Hawke. For a full list of the months of elections, see Table 26.1. That table leads me to predict that the next election will be in October 2013.

When I say I am the only person who has ever defined the term ‘early election’, I am referring to my article in Politics for May 1984 (Mackerras 1984, 73–84). In that article, I defined an early election as one that results from an early dissolution of the House of Representatives. I have kept that article up to date and the current version of it can be found on the web site of Old Parliament House where, now retired at the age of seventy-two, I am a volunteer guide.

The term ‘early dissolution’ is defined by me to be any dissolution occurring other than in the last six months of the life of the parliament. By definition, therefore, every double-dissolution election is an early election. Consequently, 2010 was self-evidently early. We know that because we know the double-dissolution option was available. So the three winter elections give us two early cases (1987 and 2010) and one case when the election was not early: 1943.

This was our forty-third general election for the House of Representatives and our nineteenth early election. The early elections were held in December 1903, September 1914, May 1917, December 1919, October 1929, December 1931, September 1934, April 1951, December 1955, November 1963, May 1974, December 1975, December 1977, March 1983, December 1984, July 1987, March 1990, October 1998 and August 2010.

In my article referred to above, I have a table entitled ‘Early Dissolutions of the House of Representatives’ in which I give all the information one needs to know. For the purpose of this chapter, the critical information is the length of the term and the reason to dissolve early. Without going into too much needless detail, I notice that the length of the first Lyons Parliament was two years, five months and 22 days, the first (‘elected’) Menzies Parliament, one year and 25 days, the third Menzies Parliament, one year, three months and one day, the sixth Menzies Parliament, one year, eight months and 13 days, the first Whitlam Parliament, one year, one month and 15 days, the second Whitlam Parliament, one year, four months and two days, the first Fraser Parliament, one year, eight months and 25 days, the third Fraser Parliament, two years, two months and 10 days, the first Hawke Parliament, one year, six months and five days, the second Hawke Parliament, two years, three months and 16 days, the third Hawke Parliament, two years, five months and five days, the first Howard Parliament, two years and four months, and the Rudd–Gillard Parliament, two years, five months and seven days. Notice the striking similarity between the first Lyons Parliament and the Rudd–Gillard Parliament.

More interesting than the above, however, is the reason given by each prime minister for the early dissolution. The reason ‘to preserve/restore simultaneous elections with the half-Senate’ accounts for six cases: 1903, 1917, 1955, 1977, 1984 and 1990. Section 57 dissolutions (double dissolutions) also account for six cases: 1914, 1951, 1974, 1975, 1983 and 1987. There are three cases of the need for a new mandate for policies—1919, 1934 and 1998—and three cases coming under the heading ‘instability in the House of Representatives’: 1929, 1931 and 1963.

That left just one case for which I needed a description: the dissolution occurring on 19 July 2010. Gillard did not give one so I entered this as the reason: ‘to enable Julia Gillard to become an elected prime minister.’ I placed the term ‘elected prime minister’ in inverted commas.

Table 26.2 House of Representatives: Seats won, 24 November 2007 general election—actual

State/Territory

Labor

Liberal

Nationals

Independent

Total

New South Wales

28

15

5

1

49

Victoria

21

14

2

-

37

Queensland

15

10

3

1

29

Western Australia

4

11

-

-

15

South Australia

6

5

-

-

11

Tasmania

5

-

-

-

5

Australian Capital Territory

2

-

-

-

2

Northern Territory

2

-

-

-

2

Total

83

55

10

2

150

Table 26.3 House of Representatives: Seats won, 24 November 2007 general election—notional (including Lyne by-election)

State/Territory

Labor

Liberal

Nationals

Independent

Total

New South Wales

30

12

4

2

48

Victoria

21

14

2

-

37

Queensland

17

9

3

1

30

Western Australia

5

10

-

-

15

South Australia

6

5

-

-

11

Tasmania

5

-

-

-

5

Australian Capital Territory

2

-

-

-

2

Northern Territory

2

-

-

-

2

Total

88

50

9

3

150

Table 26.4 House of Representatives: Seats won, 21 August 2010 general election—actual

Labor

Liberal

Nationals

Independent

Greens

Total

New South Wales

26

16

4

2

-

48

Victoria

22

12

2

-

1

37

Queensland

8

16

5

1

-

30

Western Australia

3

11

1

-

-

15

South Australia

6

5

-

-

-

11

Tasmania

4

-

-

1

-

5

Australian Capital Territory

2

-

-

-

-

2

Northern Territory

1

1

-

-

-

2

Total

72

61

12

4

1

150

Table 26.5 Aggregate Two-Party Preferred Percentages, 1940–2010

Election

Percentage Labor

Percentage UAP-Lib.-CP-Nats

Percentage swing

1940a

50.3

49.7

0.9 to Labor

1943a

58.2

41.8

7.9 to Labor

1946a

54.1

45.9

4.1 to Lib.-CP

1949a

49.0

51.0

5.1 to Lib.-CP

1951a

49.3

50.7

0.3 to Labor

1954a

50.7

49.3

1.4 to Labor

1955a

45.7

54.3

5.0 to Lib.-CP

1958a

45.9

54.1

0.2 to Labor

1961a

50.5

49.5

4.6 to Labor

1963a

47.4

52.6

3.1 to Lib.-CP

1966a

43.1

56.9

4.3 to Lib.-CP

1969a

50.2

49.8

7.1 to Labor

1972a

52.7

47.3

2.5 to Labor

1974a

51.7

48.3

1.0 to Lib.-CP

1975a

44.3

55.7

7.4 to Lib.-CP

1977a

45.4

54.6

1.1 to Labor

1980a

49.6

50.4

4.2 to Labor

1983b

53.2

46.8

3.6 to Labor

1984b

51.8

48.2

1.4 to Lib.-Nats

1987b

50.8

49.2

1.0 to Lib.-Nats

1990b

49.9

50.1

0.9 to Lib.-Nats

1993b

51.4

48.6

1.5 to Labor

1996b

46.4

53.6

5.0 to Lib.-Nats

1998b

51.0

49.0

4.6 to Labor

2001b

49.1

50.9

1.9 to Lib.-Nats

2004b

47.3

52.7

1.8 to Lib.-Nats

2007b

52.7

47.3

5.4 to Labor

2010b

50.1

49.9

2.6 to Lib.-Nats

Notes: a In respect of the 17 general elections from 1940 to 1980 (inclusive), the statistics are from estimates of the two-party preferred vote; b in respect of the 11 general elections from 1983 to 2010 (inclusive), the statistics are the percentages of the actual two-party preferred vote aggregates.

Table 26.6 Labor’s Two-Party Preferred Percentages at Winning Elections

Election

Winner

Incumbent prime minister?

Percentage Labor

1943

Curtin

Yes

58.2

1946

Chifley

Yes

54.1

1983

Hawke

No

53.2

2007

Rudd

No

52.7

1972

Whitlam

No

52.7

1984

Hawke

Yes

51.8

1974

Whitlam

Yes

51.7

1993

Keating

Yes

51.4

1987

Hawke

Yes

50.8

2010

Gillard

Yes

50.1

1990

Hawke

Yes

49.9

House Seat Gains and Losses in 2010

In 1961, 1963, 1966 and 1969 seats in the House of Representatives changed hands only in one direction. In 1961 Labor gained 15 seats and lost none. In 1963 and 1966 Labor lost 10 and 11 seats, respectively, and made no gains. In 1969 Labor gained 20 seats and lost none.

Beginning in 1972, however, the normal pattern has been for seats to change hands in both directions. The exceptional cases were 1975 (Labor lost 28 seats and gained none), 1983 (Labor gained 22 seats and lost none), 1984 (Labor lost eight seats and gained none) and 1996 when Labor lost 33 seats and gained none. For all the 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 elections, seats have changed hands in both directions. The unusual nature of 2010 is the big difference with the result in 2007 when one compares the actual result (Table 26.2) with the notional result on the new boundaries in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia (Table 26.3). Consequently, I shall give the seat gains and losses in each of these States.

In New South Wales, Labor won 28 seats in 2007 and 26 in 2010. On an actual basis that is two losses, and one would identify the two as Bennelong and Macquarie. Only in Bennelong was a sitting Labor member defeated: Maxine McKew. If one takes the base as 30 seats, however, there were four losses: Gilmore and Macarthur, notional, and Bennelong and Macquarie, actual.

In Queensland, Labor won 15 seats in 2007 and eight in 2010. Actual losses were Bonner, Brisbane, Dawson, Flynn, Forde, Leichhardt and Longman. Additional notional losses were Dickson and Herbert. Of the new members, those in Dawson and Flynn joined the caucus of The Nationals, increasing the number of Queensland Nationals from three in 2007 to five in 2010: Dawson, Flynn, Hinkler, Maranoa and Wide Bay.

In Western Australia, the redistribution caused the Liberal seat of Swan to become notionally Labor; however, the sitting Liberal, Steve Irons, retained it. Labor lost Hasluck to the Liberal Party but Liberal Wilson Tuckey was defeated in O’Connor by Tony Crook of The Nationals.

There were no changes in party numbers in South Australia or the Australian Capital Territory. In Tasmania, Labor lost Denison to the Independent Andrew Wilkie. In the Northern Territory, Labor lost Solomon to the Country Liberals—the new member being Natasha Griggs who joined the party room of the Liberal Party. In Victoria (where there was no redistribution of seats), Labor gained La Trobe and McEwen from the Liberal Party.

American analysts of congressional elections have a term, ‘retirement slump’, which refers to the average fall-off in the party’s vote when the incumbent retires. I think, in addition to that, the term ‘retirement loss’ is appropriate for Australia. The following members of our House of Representatives retired—and saw their seat lost to another party or to an Independent: Fran Bailey in McEwen, James Bidgood in Dawson, Bob Debus in Macquarie, Duncan Kerr in Denison and Lindsay Tanner in Melbourne.

Table 26.4 shows the current state of parties of the House of Representatives. As can be seen there are five ‘others’: the Greens Member for Melbourne and four Independents. When their intentions were finally revealed on the afternoon of Tuesday, 7 September, it was seen that only Bob Katter in Kennedy intended to support the Coalition, the others supporting Labor. This enables me to divide Table 26.4 into two: the mining States of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and the non-mining States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The 47 seats in the mining States divide 34 for the Coalition, one for the Independent (Katter) supporting the Coalition and a miserable 12 for Labor. The 103 seats in the non-mining States divide 60 for Labor, 39 for the Coalition and the four Labor-supporting ‘others’. It is clear from where the Gillard Government and the Abbott opposition get their support.

My friend Martin Gordon points out that there is an alternative way to describe the above. If the outback SA seat of Grey is excluded from ‘non-mining Australia’ then that populous part of the country (New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and non-outback South Australia) accounts for 102 seats, of which Labor and its supporters have 64 and the Coalition thirty-eight.

Then ‘mining Australia’ would be Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory—and Grey. So the Coalition would have 36 seats in ‘mining Australia’ and Labor only twelve. In Grey itself, according to Gordon (in email correspondence in 2010):

The striking thing is the swings to Liberal in Whyalla, 7.5 per cent, Port Pirie 10 per cent, Roxby Downs, 8.9 per cent, and also Andamooka and Coober Pedy. Whyalla has produced probably the best Liberal TPP vote (5,005 versus 6,461) for a long time. In fact the state seat of Giles would only have a Labor lead of 7,858 to 8,172…The Liberal TPP vote in Stuart and Frome is very impressive also.

Analysis of House Swings

Tables 26.7, 26.8, 26.9 and 26.10 set out the important information. Combining my look at these tables, I think the following observations can be made.

Table 26.7 The 10 Biggest Swings to Labor

Rank

Seat*

AEC demographic rating

% swing to Labor

1. (SS)

Kingston (Labor, SA)

Outer metropolitan

9.5

2. (SS)

Franklin (Labor, Tas.)

Outer metropolitan

6.8

3.

Lalor (Labor, Vic.)

Outer metropolitan

6.6

4.

Bass (Labor, Tas.)

Provincial

5.7

5. (SS)

Wakefield (Labor, SA)

Outer metropolitan

5.4

6. (RS)

McEwen (Liberal, Vic.)

Rural

5.3

7. (SS)

Corio (Labor, Vic.)

Provincial

5.3

8. (SS)

Braddon (Labor, Tas.)

Rural

5.2

9. (SS)

Makin (Labor, SA)

Outer metropolitan

4.5

10.

Lyons (Labor, Tas.)

Rural

4.0

SS = ‘sophomore surge’

RS = ‘retirement slump’

* The party shown is the one holding the seat before the 2010 election

Table 26.8 The 10 Biggest Swings to the Liberal-Nationals

Rank

Seat*

AEC demographic rating

% swing to Liberal-Nationals

1. (RS)

Fowler (Labor, NSW)

Outer metropolitan

13.8

2.

Wentworth (Liberal, NSW)

Inner metropolitan

11.0

3.

Bowman (Liberal, Qld)

Outer metropolitan

10.4

4.

Groom (Liberal, Qld)

Provincial

10.3

5.

O’Connor (Liberal, WA)

Rural

10.2

6.

Watson (Labor, NSW)

Inner metropolitan

9.1

7.

Banks (Labor, NSW)

Inner metropolitan

8.9

8.

Hinkler (Nationals, Qld)

Rural

8.9

9.

Maranoa (Nationals, Qld)

Rural

8.8

10.

Leichhardt (Labor, Qld)

Rural

8.6

RS = ‘retirement slump’

* The party shown is the one holding the seat before the 2010 election

First, the Liberal National Party (LNP) performed very well in Queensland and the Liberal Party performed very well in those parts of the Sydney metropolitan area with a substantial Asian population. I argue that the sacking of Kevin Rudd was the main reason for these big swings.

Second, in the Northern Territory the Country Liberal Party (CLP) candidate for the substantially Aboriginal division of Lingiari secured a big swing. The candidate, Leo Abbott, was Aboriginal. I have not yet been able to examine the detail of swings within this division. My friend Martin Gordon has, however, done a thorough analysis and he assures me the swing was entirely due to the Aboriginal polling places. In the predominantly white polling places, there was no swing at all. In addition to this good performance in Lingiari, the CLP gained Darwin-based Solomon on a much lower swing.

Third, Julia Gillard in her western suburbs of Melbourne division of Lalor and Malcolm Turnbull in his eastern suburbs of Sydney division of Wentworth gained high levels of personal voting.

Fourth, Labor performed very well in Victoria and Tasmania.

Fifth, high levels of ‘sophomore surge’ were recorded. These deserve a special mention. According to Wikipedia, a sophomore surge is

a term used in the political science of the US Congress that refers to an increase in votes that congressional candidates [candidates for the House of Representatives] usually receive when running for their first re-election. The phrase has been adopted in Australia by psephologist Malcolm Mackerras who is well-known for his electoral pendulums.

Under the heading ‘etymology’, it says the word ‘sophomore’ is commonly used to refer to someone in their second year of high school or college. Under the heading ‘history’, it says the phenomenon of sophomore surge was first noticed by political scientists in the 1960s.

The two biggest individual seat swings to Labor are both cases of sophomore surge. Otherwise, the two cases are rather different. Whereas Kingston is a case of South Australia as ‘the State of sophomore surge’, Franklin illustrates both retirement slump and sophomore surge. In 2007, Harry Quick retired from Franklin. The new Labor candidate, Julie Collins, was able to retain the seat. The swing to Liberal in Franklin in 2007 was, however, 3.1 per cent—the biggest swing to Liberal in Australia. So Franklin is the Australian equivalent of an American congressional district. First, there was retirement slump—but it was followed by sophomore surge. That is the typical American pattern.

South Australia is described above as ‘the State of sophomore surge’. What is interesting about South Australia is that no division changed its member at this election. Grey, Kingston, Makin, Port Adelaide and Wakefield, however, changed their members in 2007, with Kingston, Makin and Wakefield Labor gains. In September 2008, Mayo changed its member at a by-election. In all of these six divisions, there was a swing in favour of the sitting member—the most notable cases being Kingston, Wakefield, Makin and Grey.

Table 26.9 Two-Party Preferred Votes and Swings in Each Division, 2010

Division

Votes preferring Labor

Votes preferring Lib-Nats

% swing to Lib-Nats

Votes

%

Votes

%

NEW SOUTH WALES

Banks

43 150

51.4

40 719

48.6

8.9

Barton

44 742

56.9

33 941

43.1

8.1

Bennelong

40 166

46.9

45 518

53.1

4.5

Berowra

28 972

33.8

56 752

66.2

6.2

Blaxland

45 948

62.2

27 882

37.8

4.4

Bradfield

27 719

31.8

59 397

68.2

4.3

Calare (n)

35 033

39.3

54 209

60.7

7.3

Charlton

52 064

62.7

31 016

37.3

0.2

Chifley

50 103

62.3

30 268

37.7

7.3

Cook

33 450

37.3

56 138

62.7

6.3

Cowper (n)

34 691

40.7

50 477

59.3

8.0

Cunningham

56 234

63.2

32 780

36.8

3.7

Dobell

45 551

55.1

37 163

44.9

–1.1

Eden-Monaro

46 300

54.2

39 063

45.8

–1.9

Farrer

29 434

35.5

53 513

64.5

3.3

Fowler

45 178

58.8

31 704

41.2

13.8

Gilmore

38 649

44.7

47 850

55.3

5.7

Grayndler

58 789

70.6

24 450

29.4

4.2

Greenway

40 355

50.9

38 953

49.1

4.8

Hughes

38 688

44.8

47 619

55.2

4.6

Hume

36 337

41.3

51 679

58.7

3.4

Hunter (n)

50 803

62.5

30 511

37.5

3.2

Kingsford Smith

45 249

55.2

36 780

44.8

8.1

Lindsay

42 546

51.1

40 681

48.9

5.2

Lyne (n)

31 902

37.6

53 065

62.4

3.6

Macarthur

36 741

47.0

41 462

53.0

3.5

Mackellar

29 855

34.3

57 245

65.7

3.3

Macquarie

42 604

48.7

44 801

51.3

1.5

McMahon

46 170

57.8

33 690

42.2

6.0

Mitchell

27 500

32.8

56 229

67.2

7.5

Newcastle

51 220

62.5

30 744

37.5

3.4

New England (n)

30 265

33.2

60 907

66.8

2.0

North Sydney

30 808

35.9

54 901

64.1

8.5

Page (n)

46 273

54.2

39 111

45.8

–1.8

Parkes (n)

27 946

31.1

61 789

68.9

5.2

Parramatta

42 583

54.4

35 734

45.6

5.5

Paterson

36 804

44.7

45 582

55.3

4.7

Reid

41 949

52.7

37 679

47.3

8.2

Richmond (n)

46 071

57.0

34 764

43.0

1.9

Riverina (n)

28 009

31.8

59 980

68.2

3.6

Robertson

43 520

51.0

41 821

49.0

–0.9

Shortland

52 612

62.8

31 101

37.2

1.9

Sydney

53 235

67.1

26 142

32.9

2.3

Throsby

51 909

62.1

31 662

37.9

4.7

Warringah

31 360

36.9

53 612

63.1

4.3

Watson

45 393

59.1

31 364

40.9

9.1

Wentworth

30 457

35.1

56 219

64.9

11.0

Werriwa

42 740

56.7

32 574

43.3

8.3

Total NSW

1 958 077

48.8

2 051 241

51.2

4.8

VICTORIA

Aston

40 916

48.2

43 901

51.8

–3.3

Ballarat

55 188

61.7

34 251

38.3

–3.6

Batman

58 028

74.9

19 435

25.1

1.0

Bendigo

54 928

59.5

37 337

40.5

–3.4

Bruce

44 603

58.1

32 144

41.9

0.2

Calwell

61 045

69.7

26 509

30.3

–0.4

Casey

38 439

45.8

45 458

54.2

–1.7

Chisholm

43 459

56.1

33 991

43.9

1.3

Corangamite

47 235

50.4

46 464

49.6

0.4

Corio

53 083

64.2

29 578

35.8

–5.3

Deakin

41 927

52.4

38 073

47.6

–1.0

Dunkley

42 023

49.0

43 777

51.0

–3.0

Flinders

37 002

40.9

53 499

59.1

0.9

Gellibrand

61 531

73.9

21 732

26.1

–2.4

Gippsland (n)

34 199

38.5

54 513

61.5

5.5

Goldstein

36 811

43.5

47 747

56.5

0.4

Gorton

70 705

72.2

27 280

27.8

–0.9

Higgins

35 180

43.3

46 167

56.7

–0.3

Holt

60 412

63.2

35 133

36.8

–1.6

Hotham

50 394

63.5

28 966

36.5

–0.5

Indi

33 916

40.1

50 755

59.9

0.7

Isaacs

55 721

61.0

35 594

39.0

–3.3

Jagajaga

52 868

61.5

33 075

38.5

–2.5

Kooyong

34 508

42.5

46 779

57.5

–2.0

La Trobe

45 308

50.9

43 689

49.1

–1.4

Lalor

74 452

72.1

28 736

27.9

–6.6

Mallee (n)

20 842

25.6

60 611

74.4

3.1

Maribyrnong

51 193

66.9

25 379

33.1

–1.5

McEwen

58 144

55.3

46 963

44.7

–5.3

McMillan

38 731

45.6

46 229

54.4

–0.4

Melbourne

65 473

73.3

23 854

26.7

–1.0

Melbourne Ports

48 819

57.6

36 002

42.4

–0.4

Menzies

33 811

41.3

48 102

58.7

2.7

Murray

23 882

29.7

56 666

70.3

2.1

Scullin

57 355

72.2

22 025

27.8

–1.4

Wannon

35 554

42.7

47 697

57.3

–0.2

Wills

61 297

72.6

23 091

27.4

–0.2

Total Victoria

1 758 982

55.3

1 421 202

44.7

–1.0

QUEENSLAND

Blair

39 814

54.2

33 595

45.8

2.7

Bonner

38 765

47.2

43 400

52.8

7.4

Bowman

32 455

39.6

49 490

60.4

10.4

Brisbane

39 609

48.9

41 440

51.1

5.7

Capricornia (n)

43 150

53.7

37 230

46.3

8.4

Dawson (n)

39 455

47.6

43 494

52.4

5.0

Dickson

36 549

44.9

44 902

55.1

5.9

Fadden

26 356

35.8

47 236

64.2

3.8

Fairfax

34 034

43.1

45 032

56.9

4.0

Fisher

33 784

45.9

39 868

54.1

0.6

Flynn (n)

37 086

46.4

42 806

53.6

5.8

Forde

33 987

48.4

36 271

51.6

5.0

Griffith

47 007

58.5

33 405

41.5

3.9

Groom

26 589

31.5

57 912

68.5

10.3

Herbert

37 797

47.8

41 221

52.2

2.2

Hinkler (n)

31 993

39.6

48 770

60.4

8.9

Kennedy (n)

31 106

38.1

50 616

61.9

4.7

Leichhardt

36 273

45.5

43 539

54.5

8.6

Lilley

46 234

53.2

40 711

46.8

4.8

Longman

36 277

48.1

39 173

51.9

3.8

McPherson

31 004

39.7

47 044

60.3

1.6

Maranoa (n)

23 625

27.1

63 520

72.9

8.8

Moncrieff

24 612

32.5

51 103

67.5

3.7

Moreton

41 447

51.1

39 612

48.9

4.9

Oxley

39 894

55.8

31 640

44.2

5.6

Petrie

40 097

52.5

36 267

47.5

1.7

Rankin

44 289

55.4

35 640

44.6

6.3

Ryan

38 138

42.8

50 896

57.2

6.0

Wide Bay (n)

28 029

34.4

53 484

65.6

7.2

Wright

30 049

39.9

45 358

60.1

6.4

Total Queensland

1 069 504

44.9

1 314 675

55.1

5.6

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Brand

41 610

53.3

36 418

46.7

2.7

Canning

38 303

47.8

41 818

52.2

–2.2

Cowan

34 992

43.7

45 062

56.3

5.0

Curtin

27 669

33.8

54 158

66.2

2.9

Durack

26 155

36.3

45 843

63.7

6.0

Forrest

33 257

41.3

47 343

58.7

3.3

Fremantle

45 858

55.7

36 478

44.3

3.4

Hasluck

40 774

49.4

41 722

50.6

1.4

Moore

31 901

38.8

50 302

61.2

2.3

O’Connor

22 029

27.0

59 555

73.0

10.2

Pearce

32 349

41.1

46 292

58.9

1.2

Perth

44 815

55.9

35 379

44.1

2.1

Stirling

35 832

44.4

44 775

55.6

4.3

Swan

37 710

47.5

41 729

52.5

2.8

Tangney

31 607

37.7

52 266

62.3

2.5

Total WA

524 861

43.6

679 140

56.4

3.1

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Adelaide

50 164

57.7

36 793

42.3

0.8

Barker

34 992

37.1

59 278

62.9

3.4

Boothby

42 042

49.3

43 317

50.7

–2.2

Grey

34 373

38.8

54 119

61.2

6.7

Hindmarsh

49 698

55.7

39 526

44.3

–0.7

Kingston

58 695

63.9

33 139

36.1

–9.5

Makin

53 014

62.2

32 219

37.8

–4.5

Mayo

39 201

42.7

52 702

57.3

0.3

Port Adelaide

63 295

70.0

27 084

30.0

–0.3

Sturt

41 113

46.6

47 172

53.4

2.5

Wakefield

54 528

61.9

33 485

38.1

–5.4

Total SA

521 115

53.2

458 834

46.8

–0.8

TASMANIA

Bass

37 165

56.7

28 337

43.3

–5.7

Braddon

37 650

57.5

27 855

42.5

–5.2

Denison

42 692

65.8

22 167

34.2

–0.5

Franklin

39 856

60.8

25 675

39.2

–6.8

Lyons

40 959

62.3

24 796

37.7

–4.0

Total Tasmania

198 322

60.6

128 830

39.4

–4.4

ACT

Canberra

66 335

59.1

45 821

40.9

2.7

Fraser

71 613

64.2

39 928

35.8

0.9

Total ACT

137 948

61.7

85 749

38.3

1.7

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Lingiari

23 051

53.7

19 876

46.3

7.5

Solomon

24 585

48.3

26 371

51.7

1.9

Total Northern Territory

47 636

50.7

46 247

49.3

4.7

Total Australia

6 216 445

50.1

6 185 918

49.9

2.6


Fairness of Our Electoral Boundaries

It is clear that Labor performed very well in Victoria and Tasmania and quite well in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. It is equally clear that the Coalition performed very well in the mining jurisdictions of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. That leaves our most populous State of which the question must now be asked: who won in New South Wales?

Before I come to New South Wales, I want to give a brief consideration to the Australian Capital Territory. I argue that the swings to Liberal in both divisions were not real swings at all. They were cases of retirement slump, since both seats changed their Labor members through retirement. My basis for this assertion lies in the Senate vote. In 2007 Gary Humphries (Liberal) was elected to the second Senate seat with a quota in his own right. No distribution of preferences was necessary. In 2010, in contrast, he did not receive a quota on the first count. Before he could be elected, the surplus of Kate Lundy (Labor) needed to be distributed, then two other candidates (there were nine in all) needed to be excluded before Humphries was elected.

In New South Wales, Labor won in terms of seats but the Coalition won the two-party preferred vote (see Tables 26.4 and 26.9). That raises this question: can it be argued that the electoral boundaries in New South Wales were gerrymandered in favour of Labor? To so argue would go wholly against everything I have asserted about our federal redistributions since the electoral reforms of 1983 and 1984. I have asserted that the traditional pattern of boundaries being drawn in favour of the party in power would not happen again after those reforms.

In the case of this election, I point out that Labor won 50.1 per cent of the Australia-wide two-party preferred vote and the Coalition 49.9 per cent. The consequence in seats was that 76 recorded two-party preferred majorities in favour of the Coalition and 74 for Labor. Therefore, it is absurd to suggest that the boundaries were, in any way, loaded in favour of Labor. Quite the reverse! It is true that on my new pendulum the 76–74 distribution goes the other way; that is explained by Lyne and New England. As can be clearly seen from Table 26.9, Lyne and New England were easily won by The Nationals in terms of the two-party preferred vote. Their Independent members, however, decided to keep Labor in office.

Table 26.10 Median Seats on Mackerras Pendulum and Overall Labor Percentages Required for Government

Election year

Median seat

% swing needed

Seat held?

Coalition two-party preferred vote % at previous election

Labor % required on uniform swing

1961

Bowman (Liberal, Qld)

6.2

No

54.1

52.1

1963

Maribyrnong (Liberal, Vic.)

0.9

Yes

49.5

51.4

1966

Robertson (Liberal, NSW)

3.9

Yes

52.6

51.3

1969

Forrest (Liberal, WA)

7.8

No

56.9

50.9

1972

Griffith (Liberal, Qld)

1.6

Yes

49.8

51.8

1974

Mitchell (Labor, NSW)

1.3

No

47.3

51.4

1975

Isaacs (Labor, Vic.)

0.5

No

48.3

51.2

1977

Kingston (Liberal, SA)

6.6

Yes

55.7

50.9

1980

Fadden (Liberal, Qld)

6.1

Yes

54.6

51.5

1983

Bendigo (Liberal, Vic.)

1.4

No

50.4

51.0

1984

Dunkley (Labor, Vic.)

3.1

Yes

46.8

50.1

1987

Lowe (Labor, NSW)

2.3

No

48.2

49.5

1990

Aston (Labor, Vic.)

2.6

No

49.2

48.2

1993

Cowan (Labor, WA)

0.9

No

50.1

49.0

1996

Gilmore (Labor, NSW)

0.5

No

48.6

50.9

1998

Parramatta (Liberal, NSW)

3.9

Yes

53.6

50.3

2001

Moreton (Liberal, Qld)

0.6

Yes

49.0

51.6

2004

Eden-Monaro (Liberal, NSW)

1.7

Yes

50.9

50.8

2007

Bennelong (Liberal, NSW)

4.0

No

52.7

51.3

2010

Longman (Labor, Qld)

1.7

No

47.3

51.0

2013

Greenway (Labor, NSW)

0.9

?

49.9

49.2

Table 26.10 is entitled ‘Median Seats on Mackerras Pendulum and Overall Labor Percentages Required for Government’; however, I faced a dilemma here. On the pendulum as actually published, the median seat is Greenway (Labor, NSW) where the Liberal Party needs a swing of 0.9 per cent to regain the seat. That means the overall share for Labor to govern is shown as 49.2 per cent. Those statistics only apply, however, because Lyne and New England have changed sides on the pendulum without having changed their voting patterns. If The Nationals had won both these seats then the Coalition number would have been 76 and the median seat would have been shown as Boothby (Liberal, SA), needing a swing of 0.8 per cent for Labor to win. That being so, the overall share needed for Labor to govern on the uniform-swing model would have been shown as 50.7 per cent—very close to the figure shown in the row above: the even 51 per cent.

Coming back to New South Wales, the argument to suppose a Labor gerrymander would lie in the very economical margins secured by Labor in Greenway, Robertson, Lindsay, Banks and Reid. Here I would say that good old-fashioned luck had a lot to do with those wins. I estimate the ‘donkey vote’ at this election in those seats to have been worth 1.2 per cent of the formal vote. It happens that Labor had the benefit of the ballot-paper draw in all five seats. If the draw had gone the other way, I think Labor would still have retained Reid but it would have lost Greenway, Robertson, Lindsay and Banks.

When I write of a ‘donkey vote’ in those seats to have been worth 1.2 per cent, I should mention the basis of that estimate. I went through all the preference distributions in seats in the Newcastle–Sydney–Wollongong conurbation and came up with that estimate. The single most interesting case is Reid where Christian Democratic Party (CDP) voters broke the ‘how-to-vote’ card that preferenced the Liberal Party. There were five candidates in Reid with the CDP first, Labor second, Greens third, Liberal fourth and Carolyn Kennett of the Socialist Equity Party bottom on the ballot paper. Kennett was first eliminated and CDP second. The CDP candidate, Bill Shailer, had 2445 primary votes and gained 167 from the Kennett distribution. His 2612 votes were distributed 1197 to Labor, 974 to Liberal and 441 to the Greens. My claim that Labor’s Banks win was based on the ‘donkey vote’ is based on my analysis of the Greens distribution in that seat where they were on the top of the ballot paper and Labor was higher than Liberal. In Greenway and Lindsay the Labor candidate was actually on the top of the ballot paper.

Reference was made above to South Australia as ‘the State of sophomore surge’. It is worth considering New South Wales in that context. Here I see a contrast between metropolitan Sydney and the country. In the north-western inner-metropolitan seat of Bennelong, Maxine McKew conspicuously failed to get any sophomore surge. I attribute that to her loss of Asian support—a consequence of the dumping of Kevin Rudd. Also the unpopularity of the State Labor Government had the effect that she gained nothing from Julia Gillard’s promise to build the Parramatta–Epping railway. McKew’s fate contrasts greatly with that of Janelle Saffin in Page and Mike Kelly in Eden-Monaro. Both these country Labor members gained the benefit of sophomore surge.

The Senate Election

Given that the Australian Senate electoral system is semi-proportional rather than one of proportional representation, it is not surprising that one needs to go back to 1993 to find a truly proportional result. Indeed, depending on how one reads the Gallagher least-squares indexes of disproportionality, it can be argued that one needs to go back to 1987 to find a truly proportional result—and 1987 was a double-dissolution election in which one would expect the level of proportionality to be higher.

At this 2010 election, the Coalition won 18 seats, Labor 15, the Greens six and the Democratic Labor Party one seat—in Victoria. Table 26.12 sets out how these numbers affect the distribution of the seats in the whole Senate from July 2011. Converting percentages of votes into percentages of seats, I find that the Coalition’s 38.6 per cent of votes becomes 45 per cent of seats, Labor’s 35.1 per cent of votes becomes 37.5 per cent of seats and 13.1 per cent of votes for the Greens becomes 15 per cent of seats. So the big three parties are over-represented. In contrast, the category ‘other’ secured 13.2 per cent of the votes and only 2.5 per cent of the seats.

The senators elected in August 2010 have, from July 2011, replaced the senators elected in October 2004. For that reason it is sensible to compare the votes of 2004 and 2010. Whereas one speaks of a ‘swing to the right’ in the House of Representatives election (comparing 2010 with 2007), one speaks of a ‘swing to the left’ in the Senate election by comparing 2010 with 2004. That there was a swing to the left is made clear from Tables 26.13 and 26.14.

The seats followed the votes. In all of Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, the left gained a seat from the right in 2010. In Queensland and Victoria that meant converting a four–two right–left distribution in 2004 into a three–three distribution in 2010, with the Greens gaining a seat in each State. In Tasmania it meant the Labor Party gaining a seat from the Liberal Party.

Can we, however, compare 2007 and 2010 and assert that the swing was to the left? Can we assert the swing was to the right? The answer is in the negative for both questions. All we can say is that the result in Tasmania was the same on each occasion: three Labor, two Liberal and one for the Greens. In the five mainland States, the distribution between left and right was three–three, both in 2007 and in 2010. The difference is simply that Labor performed better in 2007 and the Greens in 2010.

At the 2013 election can the Greens increase their Senate numbers yet again? Probably—but there is no certainty. If that election follows a double dissolution, the Greens would surely lose a seat in South Australia—and possibly in Western Australia also. If there is a premature House-only election then the half-Senate election might be deferred to May 2014. My prediction, however, is that we shall have a House of Representatives plus half-Senate election in October 2013. The Greens would have only three senators coming up for re-election—one each in Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia. In that case it would be likely they could increase their numbers yet again.

Table 26.11 State of Parties in the Senate from 1 July 2008

Party

NSW

Vic.

Qld

WA

SA

Tas.

ACT

NT

Total

Labor

6

5

5

4

5

5

1

1

32

Liberal

4

6

5

6

5

5

1

-

32

Nationals

2

-

2

-

-

-

-

1

5

Greens

-

-

-

2

1

2

-

-

5

Independent

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

Family First

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Total

12

12

12

12

12

12

2

2

76

Table 26.12 State of Parties in the Senate from 1 July 2011

Party

NSW

Vic.

Qld

WA

SA

Tas.

ACT

NT

Total

Labor

5

5

5

4

4

6

1

1

31

Liberal

4

4

4

6

5

4

1

-

28

Nationals

2

1

2

-

-

-

-

1

6

Greens

1

1

1

2

2

2

-

-

9

Independent

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

Democratic Labor Party

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Total

12

12

12

12

12

12

2

2

76

Table 26.13 Labor and Liberal–Country Party–Nationals Senate Percentages

Election

Labor

Lib.–CP–Nats

Excess Lib.–CP–Nats over Labor

1949

44.9

50.4

5.5

1951

45.9

49.7

3.8

1953

50.6

44.4

–6.2

1955

40.6

48.7

8.1

1958

42.8

45.2

2.4

1961

44.7

42.1

–2.6

1964

44.7

45.7

1.0

1967

45.0

42.8

–2.2

1970

42.2

38.2

–4.0

1974

47.3

43.9

–3.4

1975

40.9

51.7

10.8

1977

36.8

45.6

8.8

1980

42.3

43.5

1.2

1983

45.5

39.9

–5.6

1984

42.2

39.5

–2.7

1987

42.8

42.0

–0.8

1990

38.4

41.9

3.5

1993

43.5

43.0

–0.5

1996

36.2

44.0

7.8

1998

37.3

37.7

0.4

2001

34.3

41.8

7.5

2004

35.0

45.1

10.1

2007

40.3

39.9

–0.4

2010

35.1

38.6

3.5

Average

41.6

43.6

2.0

Note: Cases where excess is 10 per cent or more are shown in bold.

Table 26.14 Greens Performances, 2007 and 2010

Jurisdiction

Senators

Half-Senate election 2007

Half-Senate election 2010

Votes

%

Total formal

Votes

%

Total formal

Australian Capital Territory

2

48 384

21.5

225 321

52 546

22.9

229 272

Tasmania

6

59 254*

18.1

326 846

67 016*

20.3

330 691

Victoria

6

320 759

10.1

3 182 369

471 317*

14.6

3 218 751

Western Australia

6

111 813*

9.3

1 202 750

172 327*

14.0

1 234 219

Northern Territory

2

8870

8.8

100 569

13 105

13.6

96 687

South Australia

6

65 322*

6.5

1 006 809

134 287*

13.3

1 009 578

Queensland

6

177 063

7.3

2 418 907

312 804*

12.8

2 450 511

New South Wales

6

353 286

8.4

4 193 234

443 913*

10.7

4 152 524

Total

40

1 144 751

9.0

12 656 805

1 667 315

13.1

12 722 233

* A senator was elected on this vote. In all there were three in 2007 and six in 2010, for a total of nine from 1 July 2011

Table 26.15 Winners and Losers for Last Senate Places, 2010

State

Quota

Last winners

Best losers

Fifth

Sixth

Best

Second best

NSW

593 123

Fiona Nash (Nationals)

Lee Rhiannon (Greens)

Steve Hutchins (Labor)

Glenn Druery (Liberal Democrats)

Vic.

459 822

Bridget McKenzie (Nationals)

John Madigan (DLP)

Antony Thow (Labor)

Julian McGauran (Liberal)

Qld

350 074

Larissa Waters (Greens)

Brett Mason (Liberal)

Keith Douglas (Aust. Fishing & Lifestyle Party)

Desiree Gibson (Aust. Sex Party)

WA

176 318

Judith Adams (Liberal)

Rachel Siewert (Greens)

John McCourt (Nationals)

Wendy Perdon (Labor)

SA

144 226

Penny Wright (Greens)

David Fawcett (Liberal)

Dana Wortley (Labor)

Bob Day (Family First)

Tas.

47 242

Stephen Parry (Liberal)

Lisa Singh (Labor)

Guy Barnett (Liberal)

Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens)

References

Mackerras, Malcolm. 1984. ‘The Early Dissolution of the House of Representatives’. Politics 19(1): 73–84.

Smith, Arthur Norman. 1933. Thirty Years: The Commonwealth of Australia, 1901–1931. Melbourne: Brown, Prior.

Whitington, Don. 1954. The House will Divide. Melbourne: Lansdowne Press.

JULIA 2010: The caretaker election

   by Edited by Marian Simms and John Wanna