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Kate started her adult life studying Arts/Law at Sydney University – majoring in Australian history – before giving up the law to transfer to a career in technology and innovation. After working and studying across Asia and the US, Kate now has her feet firmly planted back in Australia, where she spends her day job asking ‘why?’, why not?’ and ‘what if?’. She moonlights as a citizen journalist, where she asks the same questions of our political system, believing in the power of conversation to challenge and change the status quo. You can read more of her thoughts at Progressive Conversation.

Website: http://progressiveconversation.wordpress.com

Hanson says Royal Commission into Banks not necessary after visiting South Bank in Queensland

Following her election to the Australian Senate in July 2016, Pauline Hanson said that her very first priority was to call for a Royal Commission into the banking and finance sector – saying:

We have families that are losing their family homes, properties – by the banking sector, which I believe needs a full investigation into because documentation that I have seen clearly shows that signatures have been forged.” (Pauline Hanson, 4 July 2016)

Just over six months later, and Pauline Hanson has apparently been talked out of a Royal Commission into all banks – instead settling for a much smaller Senate Inquiry (chaired by Pauline) into the banks’ lending practices as they relate only to farmers.

In breaking satirical news, Hanson was asked why she had backed down from the full Royal Commission. She is reported to have replied that she and Senator Chicken Roberts had decided to visit South Bank in Queensland to check out first hand whether there actually was a problem with the Banking sector in Australia’s cities, or whether it was just part of the Labor/Green agenda.

nothingwrongbanker

After taking a dive at South Bank – Hanson is reported to have said:

“If you actually look at the bankers there – in South Bank, in the middle of Brisbane city – they are in pristine condition. Why would we need a Royal Commission into Banks in the city when Banks like South Bank are clearly doing great?

We need to stop people with agendas telling lies about Banks and focus our energy on Banks that Turnbull has allowed us to look at – I mean that matter – in the rural sector.  Places like BallBank in rural NSW and Wattle Bank in Rural Victoria.”

In further breaking satirical news, the Police are currently reviewing Hanson’s actions to see if it was illegal for her to kidnap a banker and drag him into the river.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Government to invest in candle factories and horse buggies to improve energy security and lower costs

The LNP has made no secret of the fact that their two top priorities when it comes to Energy and the Environment are security and affordability – announcing this week that new coal-fired power stations could potentially be funded by Australia’s $10 billion ‘green’ bank.

abbottwasright

Picture from the Sydney Morning Herald

In breaking satirical news, a government spokesperson announced earlier today that the government would also be pushing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in candle factories and horse buggies, saying:

“One hundred and fifty years ago, nobody complained about electricity prices. What’s more – blackouts were unheard of.

It’s time we stopped this Labor/Green ideological nonsense of looking to the future and instead look to the practical tried and true methods of the past. People safely used candles to light their homes and travelled about in horse-pulled buggies for centuries without having to worry about whether there would be enough power for air conditioning.

The fact that renewable energy sources have not been responsible for blackouts or energy bill increases is actually irrelevant. The quickest, most stable and most efficient way to reduce your electricity bill is not to have electricity – or gas for that matter – at all. “

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Dangerous Labor-Green Renewables to blame for everything says LNP

The LNP is expected to announce today that even though the spate of blackouts and potential power outages across the country over the past few days cannot be attributed to using renewable energy – this doesn’t mean that dangerous Labor-Green backed Renewables aren’t to blame.

When asked for further details about what it was that renewable energy sources were actually to blame for, a government spokesperson said that they were still looking into it but that:

  • Solar Energy was known to obtain its power from the Sun which is largely held responsible for the heatwaves across Australia over the last few days;
  • Hydro Energy was being investigated for its failure to release sufficient water to control the fires that had broken out across the country, and particularly in NSW, suggesting that it may have aided and abetted Solar Energy. It is also wanted for questioning in relation to major flooding that has occurred in WA.
  • More than one Wind Turbine was spotted in the vicinity of heatwaves experienced across the country. The government spokesperson said that a potential link to ISIS had not been ruled out.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” said a government spokesperson, “And our policy positions – I mean our investigations – lead us to believe that there is enough evidence to suggest that dangerous Labor-Green Renewables did it. Just exactly what they did is as yet unclear. But when we’ve had our spin meeting – I mean our update meeting – later today, I’m sure we’ll able to tell you.”

 

Hanson apologises to Trump on behalf of Australia

In breaking satirical news – and yes, I did feel the need to point this out, as it’s hard to tell lately – the following draft of a letter penned by Australia’s One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson to Donald Trump has been leaked to us:

Dear Lord Almighty your holiness grand wizard king Trump

As the only senior political leader in Australia who was invited to your coronation, I thought I should make contact after the shocking events of this week. (OK,’ invited’ might be a little strong – but I did eventually get a ticket after my mate and Senator Chicken Roberts pulled every string his little claws could get a hold of, and finally the Australian embassy found someone who didn’t want theirs. )

I am writing to you today on behalf of the Australian people. (Not all the Australian people of course – not those nasty halal loving lefties, or Asians, or those losers who follow Sharon’s law.)

Firstly I would like to apologise for your call with our Prime Minister, Malcolm Trumble. I completely understand why you hung up on him. I would hang up on him too if he would return my calls.

Secondly, you were right to talk tough with Trumblebum about Australia taking advantage of you and your country.  

For too long, Australia has used America as a dumping ground for unwanted immigrants like those leftie-loser-lovers Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchette, Chris Hemsworth, Simon Baker, Nicole Kidman and Rebel Wilson.

For too long, we have brain-washed your kids with the propaganda of the Wiggles.

For too long, we have sent you our sheep’s wool offcasts in the form of Ugg boots.

For too long we have sent you beer that we would never drink – Fosters – in cans that are too big for tiny really large hands like yours. 

For too long we’ve lorded it over you with our big knives.

For too long we have let our toilets flush in the wrong direction, without even the slightest attempt to fix it. 

And for too long, the Outback Steakhouse has been passing itself off as Australian, and we have done nothing at all to object. (What’s a blooming onion anyway?)

I want you to know that I, and my party, are 120%* behind you, and are doing our best to “Make America Great Again”! 

Hugely yours,

Pauline xox

*In case you’re wondering, this statistic was confirmed by Chicken Roberts, who is our Climate Change expert. He’s a whiz with alt-facts and alt-statistics if you ever need them.

 This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

One Nation: Australia’s own ‘Alt-Fact’ party?

It’s no secret that Australian Senator Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party proudly see themselves as the Trumpian party of Australia. Following Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections last November, three of One Nation’s Donald Trump groupies – including Pauline Hanson herself – giggled like school girls outside Parliament House as they popped a bottle of French champagne.

To be fair, Pauline Hanson did jump on the Trump bandwagon early – claiming in May 2016 that he was actually copying her. (Perhaps Trump’s orange skin and preference for red ties are Trump’s homage to the Queensland redhead?)

But just how closely are Trump’s and Hanson’s political paths aligned?

As I wrote recently, one of the hallmarks of the Trump campaign was his war against the truth – a war so successful, that fact-checking website Politifact assessed that only 4% of Trump’s claims during his campaign were entirely accurate.  A war so successful that Trump’s team are now replacing truth with their very own ‘alt-truth‘ supported by ‘alt-facts.’ Here’s just one example:

Trump’s alt-fact: Trump is the most popular politician ever. Period. So, therefore, the crowds at Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, must have been larger than those at Obama’s inauguration.

Actual fact: The crowds at Trump’s inauguration were significantly lower than at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. (Thank goodness One Nation Senator and Trump Fan-boy Brian Burston was there to boost numbers – what a champ! )

Trump is clearly a master of the alt-fact – which is arguably one of the key reasons he was elected last year.  As Trump wannabes – let’s check out One Nation’s skills in this area…

One Nation’s alt-facts

If you look back at the last six months, it’s clear that Pauline Hanson and her band of merry Trumpettes have some significant talent in the creation and propagation of alt-facts.  Here are just some examples:

One Nation’s alt-fact: Pauline Hanson was invited to Donald Trump’s inauguration, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t. Hanson proclaimed – ‘What an honour!’

Actual fact: It turns out that Hanson getting tickets to Trump’s inauguration wasn’t so much an ‘honour’ as a hand-me-down gift that wasn’t actually intended for her. Apparently, after receiving repeated calls from One Nation’s Senator Roberts begging for tickets, the Australian embassy rang around to see if they could find someone who wasn’t using theirs – which they eventually did. The tickets were given to the Australian embassy for them to do what they wished with, and not gifted specially to Hanson as her alt-fact implied.

#embarrassment


One Nation’s alt-fact: The Australian Labour Day public holiday is for “left-wing extremists” to celebrate the momentous achievements of Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard – but not necessarily in that order.

Actual fact: It’s a shame this one isn’t true, as in reality, it’s is an excellent idea! Perhaps the Labor party could add a ‘u’ to the spelling of its name and claim this public holiday for left-leaning voters alone. Since One Nation and the LNP typically don’t believe in things like minimum wages, overtime, Sunday rates and extra holidays – I’m sure they won’t mind working an extra day each year.

#unfair


One Nation’s alt-fact: Climate change isn’t real.

Actual fact: Yeah. It is.

#hot


One Nation’s alt-fact: The Great Barrier Reef isn’t dying. (Maybe it’s just resting, taking a nap.)

Actual fact: Yeah. It is.

#zzzzzz


One Nation’s alt-fact: One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts seems to think he’s a chicken:

Actual fact: Yeah. He is.

#notfreerange

The One Nation party – reality or reality show? 

Reality shows are all about ‘alt-facts’ – with a just enough ‘reality’ flavouring thrown in to enable them to keep the word ‘reality’ in the title. A bit like when you buy strawberry milk, it rarely has actual strawberries in it, just strawberry flavouring.

Trump is America’s first reality show President – offering simplistic solutions to complex problems, often based on alt-facts. Let’s build a wall between Mexico and the US to stop illegal immigration and drugs he says. Sure – that will stop people entering America illegally by walking across the border. But it won’t stop them climbing over the wall. Or digging under it. Or flying over it. Or going around it in boats. In other words, a wall between Mexico and the US is more security blanket than security measure. But in a world of alt-facts, a world where fiction and reality are blurred – actual outcomes are irrelevant.

The attraction of the reality show approach to politics is pretty obvious. Right now there are serious problems facing the world – climate change, terrorism, millions of displaced people, increasing housing prices, growing debt and jobs being permanently replaced by technology. In a world faced with so many challenges, it’s easy to understand the shiny simplicity and glamour of an individual like Trump or Hanson promising to simply airbrush away people’s problems with alt-facts like “we’ll all be safe if we just stop muslim immigration”. (#InWhatUniverse?)

hansonreef

Hanson at the Reef. (Image from news.com.au)

Pauline Hanson and her team of Alt-Facters clearly embrace Trump’s reality show version of politics. Just look at Hanson’s day trip to an area of the Great Barrier Reef that wasn’t dying off to prove that the parts of the Reef that are dying off – some 1,000 kms to the north – are clearly hypochondriacs. It was the equivalent of Hanson having visited a hospital parking lot, examining the health of someone just going to their car and then declaring everyone in the hospital well because the person she bumped into seemed healthy to her.

One Nation’s visit to the reef attracted them a lot of publicity, but it had very little to do with reality – it was all show and no substance. Similarly, expecting reality show politicians to solve real problems is like expecting you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage when you win the lottery.  It’s theoretically possible – but it’s a 13,983,816 to one chance.

#sad

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation

P.S. Here’s a tip: If you skipped playing the Chicken Roberts video above – go back. It’s a three-second video, and I still laugh every time I play it.

What kind of a President would Donald Trump be? (The top 5 signs your would-be world leader’s narcissism is out of control.)

With the US Election only days away, the rest of the world watches on as the American public decides who will be the next ‘leader of the free world’ – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

Hillary Clinton has been a key player on the world stage for years now, so we have some idea of what she would be like as President. On the other hand, self-described ‘outsider’ Donald Trump is an unknown when it comes to political leadership. So it’s worth considering…

What kind of a President would Donald Trump be?

One way to judge this is to look at previous world leaders with similar personality characteristics. And according to a number of mental health professionals – including Harvard Professor Howard Gardener – one of the most striking things about Donald Trump’s personality is that he is a textbook narcissist.

Narcissism is sometimes known as the “disease that hurts other people“. It is self-love on steroids – but not in a good way. The narcissist feeds on the admiration of others, seeing themselves as the hero of their own story with everyone else in their life lowly ‘bit players’.

In terms of previous narcissistic world leaders  – three of the most famous in the last 100 years have been  Stalin, Hitler and Sadam Hussein.

These three world leaders were obviously extremes – but is Trump really that bad? Should we be worried? If Trump wins the election next week, exactly how bad is his narcissism?

Here’s a handy checklist:

The top 5 signs your would-be world leader’s narcissism is out of control

FIVE: They throw a tantrum if you insult them

A narcissist will often put others down. Whether it’s calling an entire race rapists, drug lords, and criminals or referring to women as pigs, slobs and dogs – narcissists are often legendary sledgers. But throw just a little of it back their way, and no matter how old the narcissist, they will typically respond like a five-year-old.

Here’s a recent example of how US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump responded to criticism from Hillary Clinton during the third Presidential Debate held in October:

FOUR: They say ‘Heh – if you’ve got a nuclear bomb, why not use it?’

One of the key trademarks of a narcissist is their pathological inability to feel empathy. Here’s an example:

After being told at an event that two men beat a Hispanic 58-year-old homeless man in Trump’s name —breaking his nose and urinating on him, Trump said:  “I will say the people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and want this country to be great again.”

Trump demonstrates no empathy whatsoever for the homeless man. Instead, he focuses on how passionate this must mean his followers are about him.

whattrumpseesinmirrorSo what happens when you take someone whose singular focus is on themselves – and give them the ability to materially impact the safety and well-being not just of the USA, but of much of the world?

To date, the world has arguably been kept safe from wholesale nuclear attack by the ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘ or ‘MAD’ policy. This policy assumes that if two countries both have nuclear weapons of mass destruction, then neither side will use them for fear of reprisal and the tremendous potential for loss of life on both sides. But exactly how would this work if you put someone who doesn’t care about anybody else’s pain in charge of the world largest’s stockpile of nuclear weapons?

Trump has publicly stated that he would “not do first strikes“. However, it has been reported that in a foreign intelligence briefing  a few months back, Trump asked a foreign policy expert three times within an hour:

“If we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?”

THREE: They have to wear flame-resistant pants

For a narcissist,  the truth at any point in time is what suits them.  If it helps them to say all Mexicans are criminals and rapists one minute and then claim to love all Hispanics the next – then that’s what they’ll do.

Pulitzer prize winning fact-checker website Politifact assesses all American presidential candidate’s statements against the actual facts. According to them, only 1 in 25 of Trump’s statements is completely true. Even if you include statements that are ‘mostly true’ and ‘half true’, the count still only comes in at 3 in 10 – leaving Trump’s pants well and truly in flames for at least 70% of the time.

To avoid his followers being distracted by the readily apparent contradictions in what he says, Trump regularly demonises the media at his rallies. Trump calls the media ‘horrible liars’ and tells his supporters that he’ll tell them “what the truth is”.

Ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott may not have been the suppository of all wisdom – but clearly, Trump believes that he is.

TWO: They literally believe they are the Messiah

As the election campaign has progressed, Trump seems to be speaking of himself in increasingly glowing terms, and often in the third person.  More disturbingly, as John Oliver recently pointed out on Last Week Tonight, Trump is now speaking of himself as though he is literally the Messiah:

Many of Trump’s supporters seem to have picked up on this messianic vibe, following Trump with the unwavering religious fervour not often seen outside a church.

ONE: They think the only reason they wouldn’t be elected President of the United States is because the election is rigged

And finally – the number one sign that a would-be world leader’s narcissism is out of control, is that he thinks the only way he could lose an election for President of the United States is because the election is rigged.

In the final presidential debate, Trump famously refused to confirm that he would accept the outcome of the election on November 8, saying that he would wait until the outcome was known before he would make up his mind.

Trump subsequently clarified how he will judge whether the election is rigged – saying:

“I will totally accept the results of this great and historical presidential election results if I win”.

Not – “I’ll accept the results after my scrutineers have confirmed that everything is above board” or  “I’ll accept the results following an independent inquiry into possible voter fraud”. No. In this ultimate act of narcissism, Trump’s only yardstick as to whether the election for the most senior political office in the world is rigged is whether or not he wins.

The verdict is in – Trump’s narcissism may actually break records

Trump isn’t the first narcissist to want to rule the world – but if he wins the upcoming election, he would be taking the reins of power in the USA at a crucial time in world history. At a time when the world’s economies are transitioning to cope with the information age, globalisation and a burgeoning population. At a time when the humanitarian crisis is greater than it has ever been. And at a time when global warming poses a huge threat to the future of the planet.

Right now, the world needs strong global leaders to navigate through these problems. But the strength that is needed is not the brash self-confidence of a manipulative narcissist who was literally born with a golden spoon in his mouth and who will focus primarily on his own personal well-being rather than the good of all. What the world needs now is global leaders with the maturity to bring an end to the destruction that war brings and forge a path that unites rather than destroys. Whatever Trump’s level of narcissism – he is definitely not that person.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Turnbull’s Folly: The Double Dissolution Disaster

The Senate results are finally in, and one thing’s abundantly clear – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to take Australia to a double dissolution election instead of just calling a standard election has backfired big time.

Roll back the clocks to March this year, and unable to convince the Senate that they should pass his ABCC legislation, Turnbull threatened Senators with a double dissolution of parliament, saying:

The time for playing games is over.” (21 March 2016)

Turnbull’s goal? Clearly he believed the outcome of a double dissolution election – where all seats in the Senate are up for re-election instead of just under half – would give him a Senate more inclined to deliver on the LNP’s agenda. He could have just called a standard election – but he didn’t. Perhaps he thought the threat of a double dissolution would get some Senators at risk of losing their seats to toe what he perceived to be ‘the line’. But they didn’t – and so Turnbull threw caution to the wind and tossed the Senate dice in the air – believing this would enable him to better negotiate his way through parliament. It turns out – not so much.

A quick reminder of the pre-2016 Federal Election Senate

In brief there are 76 seats in the Senate – 12 Senators from each State and 2 from each Territory.  Here’s what the Senate looked like prior to the Federal Election:

FedSenatePre2016FE

In numerical terms – there were:

  • 33 LNP Senators
  • 25 Labor Senators
  • 10 Green Senators, and
  • 8 Cross-Benchers – Jacqui Lambie (JLN), Glenn Lazarus, Dio Wang (PUP), Nick Xenophon (XEN), Ricky Muir (AMEP), David Lleyonhelm (LDP),  Bob Day (FFP) and John Madigan (DLP).

This mix of Senators meant that in order for the LNP to pass any of its legislation through the Senate prior to the 2016 Federal Election, they needed the votes of 39 Senators. With only 33 of their own Senators, they still needed the support of either the ALP or the Greens to pass legislation – and failing that, six of the Cross-Benchers. None of these groups were inclined to support some of the LNP’s key legislation, which brings us to…

The 2016 Double Dissolution Senate 

Following Turnbull’s throw of the double dissolution dice, an election was held in early July. Counting for the outcome of Senate seats was finally completed yesterday, and the Senate now looks like this:

FedSenatePost2016FE

When compared to the 2013 Senate there are:

  • 3 less LNP Senators
  • 1 more Labor Senator 
  • 1 less Green Senator
  • 2 more Xenophon Senators (in addition to Nick Xenophon)
  • 4 One Nation Senators (Pauline Hanson plus three others)
  • Of the remaining four independent senators – only Jacqui Lambie, Bob Day and David Lleyonhelm remain (from the previous Senate), and are joined by Derryn Hinch.

Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon now hold the balance of power 

As a result of the 2016 election, the LNP now has to get nine additional Senators (instead of six) to support any legislation they want to put through parliament. This will be impossible without the support of either the ALP, the Greens or Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party plus Nick Xenophon’s team (and two other Senators). This effectively gives Hanson and Xenophon the balance of power in the Senate.

What if Turnbull had called a standard election instead of a Double Dissolution? 

A number of commentators are blaming the influx of independent Senators and the poor outcome for the LNP in the Senate on changes to the way Senate preferences were allocated this election. However in reality, the challenging outcome is more likely to be due to the fact that a double dissolution election was called instead of a standard one. This had the effect of increasing the number of positions that needed to be filled in the Senate and correspondingly lowering the barrier to entry.

I did some quick calculations on the back of an envelope today by looking at preference flows for each of the counts in each State to see what the Senate might have looked like if Turnbull had called a standard election instead of a double dissolution – and there is a material difference:

DDvStd

No single group would hold the balance of power

Here’s a summary of the key differences in outcome if Turnbull had decided to call a standard election instead of a double dissolution:

  • The LNP would have one more seat (31 instead of 30);
  • The ALP would have two fewer seats (24 instead of 26);
  • There would be no change for the Greens or Nick Xenophon’s team;
  • Pauline Hanson would have three less seats (one seat instead of four);
  • Jacqui Lambie would have one more seat (two seats instead of one); and
  • The remaining three cross-benchers (David Lleyonhelm, Bob Day and Derryn Hinch) would be joined by Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Muir and Dio Wang (PUP). 

The outcome if Turnbull had called a standard election instead of a double dissolution would have been that the LNP would only need eight (instead of nine) additional votes to get legislation through the Senate. More importantly, the LNP would have more options in terms of negotiating legislation through the Senate as they would not be limited to having to seek the approval of Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon when they were unable to negotiate with the ALP or the Greens (which is most of the time).

In a world where Turnbull had called a standard election instead of a double dissolution, no minor party or Independent would hold the balance of power in the Senate. And while Pauline Hanson would still be there, she would be there on her own and her voice would just be one of many cross-benchers – instead of her being hailed as the ‘queen of the Senate‘. Turnbull’s double dissolution folly has unwittingly – but not unforseeably – handed Hanson the keys to the Senate Kingdom, thereby giving her a major influence over all of our futures for the next three years.

Which brings us to…

The real Losers from Turnbull’s Double Dissolution Disaster? The Australian people. 

As usual, the real losers when our pollies make poor decisions are the Australian people. Governing a democracy is no easy task – it requires an ability to negotiate and compromise to get things done – particularly in a diverse parliament. This is not typically a bad thing – as if politicians from different parties can reach a compromise, this can end up with a far better outcome for the population as a whole than when one political party dominates. Unfortunately Turnbull’s response to the ABCC legislation earlier this year implied that he is either unwilling or unable to negotiate.

However the stark reality for Turnbull and the LNP moving forward is that to get any legislation passed, they will need to pick one of the following to negotiate with in the Senate:

  • The ALP;
  • The Greens; or
  • Pauline Hanson and Nick Xenophon (plus two other cross-benchers).

Our only hope now is that Nick Xenophon stays centered

Malcolm Turnbull’s double dissolution gamble has meant that he’s now going to have to pick between negotiations with the left or Hanson’s far-right version of politics. In the best case scenario, Turnbull would negotiate legislative outcomes with the ALP and/or the Greens since they represent the largest groups of Australians.

However, given the agitation within Turnbull’s own party to lean further to the right, it’s hard to see that happening. This means that instead of the majority ruling – as democracy intended – Australia’s future could very well end up in the tiny hands of Pauline Hanson. That said, Hanson can’t deliver the Senate vote to Turnbull on her own – he needs Nick Xenophon as well (plus two additional Senators).  The two additional Senators shouldn’t be difficult for Turnbull – as Bob Day and David Lleyonhelm have regularly sided with the LNP.

This leaves Nick Xenophon to be the buffer between Australia and the far-right of politics. Let’s hope Nick Xenophon can stand firm. He may be all that stands between the sane people of Australia and a Royal Commission into climate change followed by a descent into Trump-like lunacy.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but Turnbull has a mammoth task ahead of him – one that requires enormous strength of character and an ability to skilfully negotiate with both the left and right sides of politics. If he can’t manage to find the stones and the skill to do this – and he has so far shown himself capable of neither – we are looking at a parliament either incapable of functioning or one dominated by the far-right.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation

Ever wondered why the Nationals have seven times as many seats as the Greens with less than half the votes? It’s all in the Gerrymander.

Earlier this week I wrote about inaccuracies in our voting system which are impacting  who wins government. I showed how the LNP have held government far more often than Australia’s voting preferences suggest they should – and how if we had used a more accurate model in the 2016 election, Bill Shorten might be PM now instead of Malcolm Turnbull.

The reason for these inaccuracies is that the model of voting we use for our House of Representatives is focused primarily on ensuring that every location in Australia is represented in parliament at the expense of ensuring that the mix of political parties in parliament reflects the wishes of the Australian people. The model basically assumes that it’s more important to you that you have someone from your local area representing you than that your representative is from the political party that you support.

Since I’ve had a few questions about why this is, I wanted to post some more information about gerrymandering – which is probably the best way to  explain how our current voting system distorts election outcomes.

Gerrymandering explained 

Gerrymandering is basically the way physical electoral boundaries influence the outcome of an election. The following diagram from a Washington Post article last year illustrates how the drawing of electoral boundaries can seriously change and distort who wins an election:

GerrymanderingExplainedNT

The above diagram is a simplified example which shows how moving electoral boundaries in a state with 5 electorates and 50 voters can change the outcome of an election. In the example above,  60% of the people typically vote blue and 40% of them typically vote red. In an ideal world, a voting system which accurately represented the people of this state would elect 2 candidates from the red party and 3 candidates from the blue party to parliament.

The first split shown – labelled ‘Perfect representation’ – illustrates that the only safe way to achieve an accurate representation of the political perspective of these voters, is for all voters of the same political persuasion to live right next to each other. It’s the equivalent of saying – all Labor voters must live in one suburb and all Liberal voters in another. Clearly that’s not practical.

In the second split shown above – labelled ‘Compact but unfair’ – the electorate boundary lines mean that each of the five electorates includes an equal number of supporters from both the red and blue parties. On the surface this sounds fine. However because each electorate only votes in one candidate, it results in only blue candidates being elected, and those who support red candidates bring unrepresented in parliament. This is not an accurate representation of voters’ wishes and is what often happens to the Green vote in Australia. This is because Green supporters are distributed across all Australian electorates  – meaning there is rarely enough Green voters in a single electorate to get a candidate elected.

In the third split – labelled ‘Neither compact nor fair’ – the concentration of red voters in a small number of electorates means that the state ends up with three red party representatives in parliament and the blue party only with two. Again this is a distortion of the intention of the voters in that state. This is arguably what happens with the National vote in Australia. They get less than half the votes of the Green Party but have seven times as many representatives in the House of Reps. Why? Because National voters are concentrated in only a few electorates – instead of distributed across the country – so they end up with more representatives than their primary vote suggests they should have.

The bottom line is that the way boundaries are drawn between different electorates – or groups of voters – will determine how many representatives from each party end up in parliament without necessarily any regard for what people’s preferences are about this. It also demonstrates how difficult it is to get an accurate representative model when you are using physical electoral boundaries alone – as our current election model in the House of Representatives does – to determine who should represent us in parliament.

The reason the Nationals get seven times as many seats in our House of Representatives than the Greens is not because the AEC has failed in its job to draw electoral boundaries fairly, or that someone is rigging the system – it’s because the electoral system itself is flawed. The good news is that there are alternative electoral models which factor in both voters’ location and their political perspective – delivering a more accurate political result for voters.  (See here for more information.)

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Would we have an LNP government now if we used the NZ voting system?

If you look back at the last thirty Australian Federal Elections, the Australian Labor and Liberal National Parties have won the countrywide two-party preferred vote exactly fifteen times each – a 50/50 split. If our electoral system were accurately translating Australian voters’ wishes into election outcomes – as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in February that it should – then this would mean that each Party would have held the reins of government exactly half of the time. But they haven’t. In fact the LNP has been in government nearly twice as often as Labor (nineteen times to Labor’s eleven).

Great news for LNP supporters – not so much for everyone else.

How should a voting system work? 

According to Malcolm Turnbull:

The operation of any electoral system, any voting system, should be to clearly and transparently translate the wish of the voter into a parliamentary result. (Feb 2016)

These were the words Turnbull used to justify changes made to the Senate voting structure in February this year – citing Ricky Muir’s election to the Senate with less than 1% of the primary vote as justification that the current Sentate voting system was broken.

Turnbull is right – to the extent that the goal of an electoral system in any democracy should be to create a parliament that represents the wishes and voices of its citizens. Unfortunately, Turnbull’s actions didn’t entirely reflect the sentiment he expressed. If they had, then his focus  would have been firstly on reforming the voting system we use for the House of Representatives. Why? Because the voting system used to elect politicians to our House of Reps was – and remains – far less representative of Australian voters’ wishes than the one used for the Senate.

What’s wrong with the voting system used for Australia’s House of Representatives?

In determining whether any voting system accurately represents the wishes of its voters, you need to look at who or what it is that needs to be represented. When it comes to elections, the two main ways citizens of a democracy typically expect to be represented are:

  • By location – we want people who can speak to the issues that are relevant to where we live; and
  • By political perspective (or party) – we also want a say in the policies our government implements and who gets to govern the country.

The  main problem with the voting system we currently use in our House of Representatives is that it is outdated. Unlike other more modern systems, it focuses primarily on ensuring that only one of the two expectations listed above is adequately catered for – location.

While Australian voters do get a say in the political perspective of the politicians elected to our House of Representatives, it is secondary to location. This is because even though each electorate gets to vote for representatives from different political parties, the drawing of electoral boundaries between groups of voters – each of which only gets to elect a single representative – distorts the way seats are allocated to different political parties.  (Want to know more? For an explanation on how physical electoral boundaries can distort an election outcome, see Gerrymandering explained.)

How has this impacted the outcome of elections in Australia?

As previously mentioned, over the last thirty Federal Elections, Australia has ended up with an LNP government roughly two-thirds of the time despite voter preferences indicating a 50/50 split. That’s up to twelve more years of an LNP government than the people of Australia actually wanted.

Further, if you take a more detailed look at some of the individual Federal Election results, there are other distortions. For example, in the 2013 Federal Election results, only 45% of Australians picked the LNP as their first preference for the House of Representatives, and yet the LNP ended up with 60% of the seats. Conversely, the minor Parties and Independents received just over 21% of primary votes, but ended up with only 3% of the seats.

What would a more accurate voting model look like?

A proportional electoral system is a voting model which factors in both location and political perspective. It typically does this by giving citizens two votes – one for an individual to represent their electorate and another for a political Party (or independent) that best represents their political views.

This type of voting system is used in 21 out of 28 democracies in Europe and is also used by our Kiwi neighbours. The great thing about this model is not only that it is able to more accurately reflect voters’ wishes, but according to former associate professor Klaas Woldring:

“The European model of proportional representation is co-operative, rather than adversarial in nature…Apart from being co-operative, it also ensures diverse and democratic representation. There are no byelections, pork-barrelling or horse trading on preferences behind closed doors.”

To give you some idea of how a proportional voting system works in practice  – let’s take a quick look at the New Zeland model.

Proportional voting in New Zealand

In the New Zealand Mixed Member Proportional (or MPP) voting system, there are 120 seats in parliament – 71 of these are determined by whoever gets the most votes in each electorate (or location), and the balance are allocated proportionally according to the ‘share’ of the vote that a particular political party receives (as long as they receive a minimum of 5% of the vote across the country). Here’s a quick video which provides an overview of how New Zealand’s MPP works:


The New Zealand system is arguably more accurate than our current system because it factors in representating its citizens views both by location and by political perspective.

Would the outcome of the 2016 Australian Federal Election have been different if we used proportional voting?

Very possibly – yes. Obviously we don’t have that system in place, nor do we know exactly what a similar system would look like in Australia if deployed, so it’s impossible to tell for sure. However based on modelling I did using current AEC data and applying NZ rules for proportional allocation –  I have looked at what the recent Election outcome might have been if  Australia had added a ‘proportional’ component to determining who won seats in our House of Representatives. Here’s a visual representation of the difference between the actual outcome of the 2016 Federal Election, and what the House of Reps might have looked like if we had a proportional system in place:

ActualvProportional

The first thing you’ll notice looking at the two diagrams above is that there are more elected representatives in the proportional model than in our actual model  – 170 instead of 150. If we were to deploy this model in Australia we wouldn’t necessarily have to increase the number of representatives – but we would then have to reduce the number of electorates. Number of seats aside, here’s a summary of the key differences in outcome:

  • The big winners when you apply a proportional count would be:
    • The Greens – who would have sixteen MPs in the House of Representatives (instead of one in our current model)
    • The Nick Xenophon party – who would have six MPs in the House of Representatives (instead of one in our current model)
  • All other elected representatives (under our current system) would keep their seats – including the two independent candidates (McGowan and Wilkie).

The bottom line: The ALP could be in government right now if we were using a similar model to the Kiwis

In the model above, neither the LNP nor the ALP have the 86 seats needed to form Government in their own right. However, in this scenario, assuming the ALP had entered into an arrangement with the Greens and Andrew Wilkie – even if only on supply and confidence motions – then they would have enough seats to form government. This suggests that had we used a proportional model in the 2016 Federal Election, the ALP could be in government now, and Bill Shorten would be Prime Minister.

What we do know

Any model can only ever be hypothetical. But what we do know about our current electoral system for the House of Representatives is that it is outdated and inaccurate. It’s so inaccurate in fact, that it has arguably resulted in:

  • Australia having 12 more years of an LNP government than we otherwise might have; and
  • The ALP potentially missing out on an opportunity to take the reins of government in 2016.

Turnbull promised in February this year to give us an electoral system that more accurately translates Australians’ votes into an election result. Clearly we’ve still got a way to go.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation

(Note: there was an error in one of my numbers – picked up by an observant reader. As a result, I updated them at 5:30 pm on 28 July to fix this error. The overall conclusions are the same.)

Assumptions used/notes regarding my model

For those interested in the detail behind my model above, here are the assumptions I used and some additional notes:

  • I assumed that the ‘electorate’ seat allocation and preferential system component of the model was ‘as is’ in Australia right now – meaning I allowed for 150 seats to be allocated according to the recent Federal Election outcome (assuming 76 seats to the LNP and 69 to the ALP).
    • I did not apply the ‘first past the post’ principle that NZ applies to its electorate voting.
    • I did use NZ’s ‘overhang’ rules to allocate additional seats above 150.
  • I used available Senate first preference votes from the 2016 Federal Election available at 17 July 2016 to estimate how Australians would have voted for ‘party’ (which is the proportional vote) – as it more closely approximates the NZ party vote than first preferences at the House of Reps level. (Note – vote counting continues, so these numbers may vary.)
  • I used the Sainte-Lague Allocation formula used by NZ to determine the proportional allocation of seats for all Australian parties that received more than 5% of Senate first preference votes plus anyone who won a seat.

The Politician’s Guide to Democracy: Part One (Five things Democracy IS NOT) #ItsTime

Are you a Politician who can’t get his own way? Have you put forward perfectly reasonable policies to the people of your country – only to hear the whiny cries of your ungrateful constituents? Are you trying to get some legislation through parliament, but find that those unreasonable Politicians in opposition won’t play ball? Are you sick of people ignoring your mandate to – well, do whatever the hell you please?

Well this is the Guide for you. It goes through the basics of what true democracy is and – more importantly for many of you – what democracy is not.

The good news is that despite many of your constituents’ lack of faith in you, it’s not all that hard. There’s nothing in these lessons that hasn’t been done before. In fact, there are actually Politicians out there today who have a good understanding of the contents of this Guide and can work fairly effectively in their democracies. So put your phones down, stop googling yourself and read on…

Part One: Five things a Democracy is NOT

We’re going to start your training by dispelling a few widely held myths about a Politician’s role in a Democracy. But before we get going, here’s a quick reminder of what US President Abraham Lincoln said Democracy is:

Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Lesson One: You have a mandate to represent, not to ruleNotRuler

‘Mandate’ seems to be a favourite word for many Politicians. You like to use it to claim that you have the right to do all manner of things. And the truth is that when we elect you to parliament we actually do give you a mandate. But it’s a mandate to represent us – the people – not to rule over us.

You’re not monarchs, you’re not rulers – a democracy is not meant to be some sort of limited-term dictatorship where one person (or even a small group of people) gets to do whatever they want to a country for a few years.

A democracy is about equality, not hierarchy. We citizens vote in a group of people to represent us. Each of our votes is equal and each of the representatives we elect is equal on the floor of parliament. Or at least they should be. Further, in a democracy everyone has the right to have a say about the policies of the nation. A Politician’s job – your mandate – is not to sit above the citizens who elect you – but to sit with us; it’s not to speak for us – but to be our voice; it’s not to act in your own best interests – but to act in ours.

The key to your role is confirmed by the oath you take when you enter office, at which time you promise to ‘serve’ us – the people who hire you and the people who can fire you – the people you represent.

That’s your mandate – to serve your constituents. And this is the only mandate you have. It’s not about what you want or need, it’s not about your personal philosophical or religious beliefs – it’s about us.

NotWinnerTakesAllLesson Two: Democracy is NOT ‘winner-takes-all’

The following quote from Jean-Paul Gagnon (University of Canberra) may surprise some of you:

“Democracy is not a winner-takes-all scenario where those who win the election become the rulers with a sacred mandate to govern as they see fit. Democracy is an ongoing process of deliberation, monitoring, inclusion and resistance.”

You see – winning a seat in parliament doesn’t give you the right to do whatever you want, even if you belong to the political Party that is in the majority.

Why?  Because in a democracy, a parliament that is truly representative of its citizens will most likely include people with a wide range of opinions. It turns out – this is not actually a bad thing. A parliament with representatives who have different views means that an issue can be considered from all sides, which invariably makes the output more likely to meet a greater number of people’s needs.

However, simply having representatives with many differing views won’t help you if the political Party with the majority of representatives in parliament tries to dominate – to treat their election as a ‘winner-takes-all’ affair. When political Parties make governmental decisions behind closed doors, and then present legislation to parliament in an “it’s my way or the highway” fashion – this is not democracy. Nor is it particularly effective. It’s so ineffective in fact, that many democracies’ parliaments are slowly grinding to a halt.

In Australia, our most recent parliament – led by Prime Ministers Abbott and Turnbull – passed less than two-thirds the number of Bills enacted by the prior parliament. The government’s excuse? According to Abbott, it was due to a ‘feral‘ Senate – who requested changes to some of the government’s key legislation before they would pass it. Unable or unwilling to reach a compromise,  Turnbull instead dissolved both Houses of Parliament and called an election.

Similarly, in the US, their Congress has enacted only half as many laws as Congress did ten years previously, again because opposing political Parties are unable to compromise – seemingly scared to give their opponents any ‘political brownie points’ by agreeing that an idea they had might have some merit.

By way of contrast, in Denmark there are nine political parties in parliament, none of which have ever held an absolute majority. This gives the people of Denmark a much wider choice of representatives and policies. Further, their Politicians have learned how to compromise and work together. Why? Because no political Party in Denmark has ever had the luxury of a majority vote enabling them to simply force legislation through parliament without the need for proper debate and discussion – so if they didn’t compromise, they’d never get anything done.

Believe it or not, Politicians in Denmark manage to get their job done quite effectively, despite not having a ‘winner takes all’ mentality. This results in Denmark’s citizens having a much higher level of engagement with their democracy – with 86% of eligible voters turning out at election time to vote, even though voting is not compulsory there like it is in Australia. This contrasts with a turnout rate of 53.6% in the US, where voting is also not compulsory.

NoCryBabiesLesson Three: Democracy is not a kids’ game

When elected in 2013, then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott proudly announced that “the adults are back in charge“.

But here’s the thing – if you have to tell people that you’re an ‘adult’, then at some level you recognise that there are people out there who either don’t think this is true or have their doubts. If there were no question as to your maturity – why would you need to make the point?

Don’t get me wrong – I can see why at least some Politicians would feel the need to try and convince us that they are adults. Just take a look at this short video of US Presidential hopeful Donald ‘he-started-it’ Trump:

Trump isn’t the only one of course. Check out the following excerpts from the UK parliament:

OK – I’m not gong to deny that this video is pretty amusing. And if we were paying you Pollies to be comedians then you’d be getting full marks right now.

But we’re not paying you to be funny.  We’re paying you to run our democracies – and democracy is a serious business. The outcomes of our democratic process determine almost every aspect of our day to day lives – how wealth is distributed, the quality and cost of our health resources, our education, who we can marry, the rules around what type of food we can buy – not to mention life and death matters like whether or not we go to war. And yet, despite the seriousness of the issues you are tasked with managing – you Politicans behave so immaturely that you feel the need to confirm to us that you are in fact ‘adults’.

There’s a reason why parents don’t typically encourage their kids to model their behaviour on their local Politician – it’s because your behaviour is sometimes like that of a group of students who have been on a bender for the last two years. Maybe that’s why a group of Politicians is called a ‘Party’?

Don’t get me wrong – everyone likes to party from time-to-time. But democracy is not only serious, it’s also considered by many experts to be the most challenging form of government. Democracy requires Politicians to have both mental and emotional intelligence – to be able to exhibit maturity, not act as though you just joined a fraternity. If you don’t know how to do this, then democracy isn’t for you. Democracy isn’t a kids’ game.

Lesson Four: Nobody votes in an opposition

NoHecklersNow taking what you learned in Lessons Two and Three to the next stage – when we citizens all trot along to the polling booths on election day, none of us is voting for an opposition. We’re voting in representatives to govern the country. All of you – not just some of you.

This doesn’t mean we want you to always agree – in fact it’s the exact opposite. We want you to debate the issues – like adults. What we don’t want is for you to oppose an idea just because the idea hasn’t come from your political Party.

In September 2010, after finding out that he had lost his bid to become Prime Minister in the Australian Federal Election, then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promised the people of Australia that for next three years:

I now rededicate the Coalition to the task of opposition. I believe that we will be an even more effective opposition in the coming Parliament than we were in the last one.

No. That’s not what the people who voted you in elected you for. We voted you ALL in to run the country by debating issues, sharing ideas and being mature enough to recognise when an idea that hasn’t come from your Party is actually a good one.  We DID NOT vote you in to act like the two hecklers in the Muppets. If you did this in the real world – outside the rarefied world of parliament – you’d be fired.

Lesson Five: You can’t be an effective Politician when your pants are constantly on fireNoPantsOnFire

In the real world, real people know that lying can get them into trouble. If we lie to our spouses or to our bosses – we may lose our marriage or our job. If a company lies to its customers when trying to sell them something – then that company can be fined or sued. If we lie to a government official, we may be fined or jailed.

But when it comes to Politicians, lying would appear to be standard operating procedure. In fact many of you Politicians appear to have become so accustomed to lying that you don’t even seem to notice that you’re doing it anymore. Some of you even scream blue murder when another Politician lies about you, while then turning around and happily ‘stretching’ the truth yourself – often well beyond breaking point.

We – your constituents – have also become numbed to your lying, and have even come to expect it. One journalist recently said: “Pretty much everyone assumes that once they see a politician’s lips move, that means that…you’re not necessarily going to hear the truth.”

FirstDogFreedomFromTruth

By @FirstDogOnMoon in The Guardian. See full cartoon: gu.com/p/4m82y/stw

There are many problems with this. One critical issue is that democracy is supposed to be built on citizens being able to make informed choices. But without truth, without transparency, without citizens being able to trust what you tell us – we can’t make informed choices, because we don’t have accurate information to do so.  And like the boy who cried wolf – on the rare occasion you do tell us the truth, because of all your previous lies, we no longer believe you.

This is why a true democracy requires you to be truthful – to keep your pants ‘fire’ free.

Don’t get me wrong here – we’re not asking Politicians to be saints or share State secrets. We’re just asking you to live by the same standards that we all have to. As I said above, if a company or an individual misrepresents themselves or their products to the public – they can be prosecuted or sued. But Politicians are exempt from truth in advertising laws and other laws that us regular folk have to live by.

It’s time Politicians lived by the same rules as us when it comes to your responsibility to tell the truth. We all do it – you can too.

And finally, if in doubt, ask yourself “What would a non-Politician do?” 

That’s it for Part One of the Politician’s Guide to Democracy. Although at first glance, the five lessons outlined in this section may seem challenging to some of you, there’s an easy trick you can use in all situations which will help you to put these simple lessons into practice. All you need to do is to stop and ask yourself, “What would a non-Politician do in this situation?” For example – next time you’re about to give a press conference, check your notes and ask “If I wasn’t a Politician, could I be prosecuted or sued for what I’m about to say?”

You see the bottom line is that citizens of democracies are sick of many of their Politicians abusing the mandate we give you when we vote you into office – that you’re there to govern for the people, and not for yourselves. We’re sick of you living by a different set of rules to the rest of us – many of which have been in place unchanged since the Middle Ages, a time period when dueling with pistols at dawn was considered the most appropriate way to resolve a dispute. And we’re sick of you fighting all the time instead of getting on and governing – which is what we pay you to do. It’s time you Politicians learned the basics of what a true democracy is and learned to live by the same codes of conducts and ethics as us. (#ItsTime.)

In our next installment of the Guide, having now dispelled some common myths, we’ll start looking at what a democracy actually is. (Stay tuned.)

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation

Federal Election Tracker: Quick P.S.

I know I wrote yesterday that I was packing up my ‘election night’ tracking desk, having already called the outcome. However curiosity as to how the remaining ‘hot seats’ were tracking got the better of me this evening. So I pulled the election desk out of the cupboard and did some quick analysis on the latest tally numbers to see how close we are to knowing where those remaining few seats are going to fall. Here’s the post-script to my final update for those still following…

I’m calling both Melbourne Ports and Hindmarsh for the ALP.  (I’m late to the party on Melbourne Ports – others called it a few days ago, but due to one in three votes being cast as declaration votes rather than on polling day, and the strong swing to the LNP in postal votes, I held off calling it until now.)

To my mind, there are now only four seats where I believe the outcome is uncertain – Capricornia, Cowan, Flynn and Herbert. Based on my projections, both Capricornia and Flynn will most likely go to the LNP – but the margin is still close enough not to be able to call these as any more than ‘likely’.

That leaves Herbert and Cowan.  According to my calculations, it’s more probable that they will go to the LNP than to Labor – BUT the projected margin is so tight, it could still go either way. Of the two really tight seats – both won by the LNP in 2013 – Herbert is the seat Labor are most likely to steal.

Taking these latest numbers into account, my Balance of Power meter now shows:

  • 74 certain seats for the LNP with two seats highly likely to go their way, and a further two seats that are too close to call for either the LNP or Labor;
  • 67 certain seats for the ALP with the 2 extra seats noted above as outside chances; and
  • 5 seats to Minor Parties/Independents (Katter, Greens, NXT, McGowan and Wilkie).

In the end – as I said in my update yesterday – regardless of how the remaining four ‘hot seats’ fall out, the LNP will be able to form government – and most likely a majority one, albeit with the tightest of tight margins and a hostile Senate.

Here’s my latest Balance of Power Meter:

BalanceOfPowerOmeter0907700pm.jpg

(If you’re interested in seeing earlier updates and a description of the difference between Decider and safe seats, see my earlier post. )

Is this setting the tone for the next three years? 

I guess it makes sense that the aftermath of the second longest election campaign in Australian history would be a fortnight-long election tally – which is likely how long it will be before the final outcome for our House of Representatives is pronounced by the AEC. But you have to wonder whether this is just the way things are going to be for the next three years – glacially slow, but without the ‘steady’.

Buckle in for an interesting three years folks.

 

Federal Election Tracker 2016: I’m calling it

Final Update on 8 July at 8:30am

I’m calling it folks. I’m packing up my election ‘night’ desk for another three years. While there are still a number of seats that have to be finalised, it would take such a dramatic shift in voting trends now that the outcome is pretty much certain.

The LNP will be able to form government – and most probably a majority government, albeit with a much reduced hold on power. In my view, the most likely outcome is:

  • 77 or 78 seats for the LNP
  • 67 or 68 seats for the ALP, and
  • 5 seats for Minor parties/Independents.

Even if there was some miraculous shift in trend for the outstanding seats, the absolute best the ALP could do would be 71 seats. To form government that would require them to get the support of all five Minors and Independents – and with Bob Katter having already declared his hand, this is not going to happen.

So that’s it for the House of Reps folks. Now it’s time to focus on the Senate and who holds the all important balance of power there. And while we don’t know the final outcome there, we do know the LNP haven’t won there.

If you’re interested in reading my previous updates – read on:

Update at 9:00 am, 7 July 2016 (with mini-update at 6:30 pm below)

At 9:00 am on 7 July, in my increasingly ill-named ‘Election night’ tracker – since my most recent update, more postal results have come in which have firmed up the outcome for a number of doubtful seats, and continued the swing towards the LNP that I wrote about last night.

Based on my calculations, there are now only six seats in doubt, plus two others we need to keep an eye on – Grey and Cowper – where the AEC is taking a while to do a two-party preferred count on the Green/Independent candidates. This means that while it’s probable both will be held by the incumbent LNP MP, it’s not completely certain.

Based on my projections – and assuming that both Grey and Cowper stay with the incumbent LNP MP –  this is where we currently stand:

  • The LNP have likely won betweeen 74 and 77 seats – with 74 seats being fairly firm and 3 seats leaning heavily in their direction. There are also another 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way – Capricornia, Cowan and Melbourne Ports – meaning their best possible outcome is 80 seats.
  • Labor have likely won 65 seats. Unfortunately for them, the postal swings in the ‘too close to call’ seats have all gone the LNP’s way, and as more postals are counted, the probability of them picking up more seats is narrowing. There are still the 3 seats I noted above which could go their way – but that would only take them to 68 seats.
  • Our Independents/Minor parties continue to hold 5 seats between them:
    • Katter party – 1
    • Xenophon party – 1
    • Greens – 1
    • Independents – 2 (Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan)

Mini-Update at 6:30pm

It’s 6:30pm and during the day the count of postal votes and the few small outstanding polling booths has continued in our undecided seats. This has had the expected effect of tipping the scales further and further in favour of the LNP.

In terms of updates to my ‘where we currently stand’ statement above and the graphic below, the only thing that has happened since this morning is that one of the three seats I classified as ‘too close to call’ this morning  – Capricornia (discussed further below) – has slid further into LNP territory, and is now arguably  likely to go to the LNP.

Just how close is close?

I mentioned above that there are three seats that are too close to call. These are Capricornia in Queensland, Cowan in WA and Melbourne Ports in VIC. If you’re interested in understanding why these seats are too close to call, I’m going to break down the current numbers for Capricornia.

So far for Capricornia the numbers from the AEC website at the time of writing this are 75,067 formal (or valid) votes counted – of these:

  • 37,899 (or 50.49%) of the votes are in favour of the ALP in two-party preferred terms and 37,167 (or 49.51%) of the votes are in favour of the LNP.
  • 73,119 are ‘ordinary’ votes (or votes cast on election day) and 1,948 are ‘declaration’ votes (which includes all other votes – including postal votes).

At a glance, those numbers look good for the ALP. However, if you split out the voting trends for ordinary votes and postal votes – you see a different story.  While 50.62% of ordinary votes were cast in favour of the ALP (in two-party preferred terms), for postal votes it is only 45.64%.  This difference between ordinary and postal votes is common, and in fact is more pronounced in other seats as I wrote last night – where Flynn had 51.5% of ordinary votes in favour of the ALP but only 34.7% of postal votes.

So of course the outcome for Capricornia will depend on how the remaining votes not yet counted and/or received by the AEC pan out. At this stage, all but one small group of ordinary votes are counted – one of the polling stations that go around to hospitals, which based on the other hospital polling stations probably has less than 200 votes.  However, in regards to postal votes there are:

  • 1,948 postal votes received AND counted,
  • 8,245 postal votes received but NOT counted by the AEC,
  • another 7,330 declaration votes (includes postals, absentee votes and pre-polls) issued but not yet returned by voters (or not yet received).

If we assume that the remaining postal votes received but not yet counted by the AEC fall out in a similar manner to those received so far – then the outcome would be 41,662 votes to the ALP and 41,649 votes to the LNP – a victory to the ALP, but only by 13 votes.

But if we then factor in all declaration votes that have not yet been returned to the AEC (which won’t happen), then if the current postal voting trend held across all declaration voting types,  the outcome would be 45,007 votes to the ALP and 45,635 vote to the LNP  – a victory to the LNP, but only by a margin of 627 votes.

The numbers of potential outstanding votes are also not final – there could be other votes yet to be received and factored in, further complicating the potential to determine an outcome when the margins are this tight.

So how close is close? It’s too close to call – so stay tuned for an update later today…

Original post from Saturday evening….

The following commentary was written last Saturday – but the graphic has been updated along with the commentary about safe seats at the end.

The Deciders rule

As I’ve written previously, while there were technically 150 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives this election, the reality is that the vast majority of electorates are considered to be ‘safe’ seats – meaning they won’t be changing hands, because, well, they almost never do.  This means that the outcome of yesterday’s election will actually be determined by just over a third of electorates – the Deciders. These are typically electorates which either have a high proportion of swinging voters in them (marginal seats and a few fairly safe seats) plus electorates where there is a well-known and well-liked Independent/Minor-party candidate running.

As a result, when you’re looking at the election outcome from last night, it’s really only the outcome in the Decider seats that matters.  So I’ve created the following Balance of Power Meter to track how the election outcome is going based primarily on the results in the Decider seats – rather than all seats – as it’s a more accurate proxy of how both parties are tracking.  (I am keeping an eye on the safe seats as well and adjust the chart if any of them decide to perform out of character. So far the LNP lost one – Wyatt Roy’s seat – and may possibly lose Peter Dutton’s seat.)  I am continuing to update my Balance of Power Meter – so check back in (make sure you refresh the page) for regular updates on progress.

 

BalanceOfPowerOmeter0707600pm

Decider seats

My list of  54 Decider seats shown below is based on the ABC’s Antony Green’s list of Key seats plus I have added:

  • Cowper – Rob Oakeshott’s seat – as recent polls suggest he’s in within cooee of an upset in this seat; and
  • Warringah – Tony Abbott’s seat – enough said.

I’ve included running totals for each group to show where they end up, which I will update as the night progresses.

a) Decider seats won by the LNP in 2013 – 32 seats

This includes: Banks (NSW): Bass (Tas); Bonner (Qld); Boothby (SA); Braddon (Tas); Brisbane (Qld); Burt (new seat in WA); Capricornia (Qld); Corangamite (Vic); Cowan (WA); Cowper (NSW); Deaken (Vic); Dunkley (Vic); Eden-Monaro (NSW); Forde (Qld); Gilmore (NSW); Herbert (Qld); Hindmarsh (SA); La Trobe (Vic); Lindsay (NSW); Lyons (Tas); Macarthur (NSW); Macquarie (NSW); Mayo (SA); Murray (Vic); New England (NSW); Page (NSW); Petrie (Qld); Reid (NSW); Robertson (NSW);  Solomon (NT) and Tony Abbott’s seat – Warringah (NSW).

b) Decider seats won by the ALP in 2013 – 18 seats

This includes: Barton (NSW); Batman (Vic); Bendigo (Vic); Bruce (Vic); Chisholm (Vic); Dobell (NSW); Grayndler (NSW); Greenway (NSW); Lilley (Qld);  Lingiari (NT); McEwen (Vic); Melbourne Ports (Vic); Moreton (Qld); Parramatta (NSW); Paterson (NSW); Perth (WA); Richmond (NSW); and Wills (Vic).

c) Decider seats won by minor parties and independent candidates in 2013 – 4 seats

This includes: Denison (won by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie in Tas); Fairfax (won by Clive Palmer of PUP fame in Qld); Indi (won by independent candidate Cathy McGowan); and Melbourne (won by Andrew Bandt from the Greens in Vic).

Safe Seats

For a full list of all 150 seats up for election see the AEC’s list.  Any seat that I haven’t listed above, is classed as a Safe Seat in my Balance of Power Meter (although the AEC may have classed some of them as ‘Fairly safe’).

Update: The LNP have lost a Safe Seat – Wyatt Roy’s seat – to the ALP and the seat of Flynn in Queensland is also in doubt, but thanks to postals is likely to stay with them. Peter Dutton’s seat was also up for grabs for a while, but he seems to have slid in by the skin of his teeth.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Balance of Power: Federal Election 2016 – Day Five

Update at 9:00 am, 7 July 2016 (with mini-update at 6:30 pm below)

At 9:00 am on 7 July, in my increasingly ill-named ‘Election night’ tracker – since my most recent update, more postal results have come in which have firmed up the outcome for a number of doubtful seats, and continued the swing towards the LNP that I wrote about last night.

Based on my calculations, there are now only six seats in doubt, plus two others we need to keep an eye on – Grey and Cowper – where the AEC is taking a while to do a two-party preferred count on the Green/Independent candidates. This means that while it’s probable both will be held by the incumbent LNP MP, it’s not completely certain.

Based on my projections – and assuming that both Grey and Cowper stay with the incumbent LNP MP –  this is where we currently stand:

  • The LNP have likely won betweeen 74 and 77 seats – with 74 seats being fairly firm and 3 seats leaning heavily in their direction. There are also another 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way – Capricornia, Cowan and Melbourne Ports – meaning their best possible outcome is 80 seats.
  • Labor have likely won 65 seats. Unfortunately for them, the postal swings in the ‘too close to call’ seats have all gone the LNP’s way, and as more postals are counted, the probability of them picking up more seats is narrowing. There are still the 3 seats I noted above which could go their way – but that would only take them to 68 seats.
  • Our Independents/Minor parties continue to hold 5 seats between them:
    • Katter party – 1
    • Xenophon party – 1
    • Greens – 1
    • Independents – 2 (Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan)

Mini-Update at 6:30pm

It’s 6:30pm and during the day the count of postal votes and the few small outstanding polling booths has continued in our undecided seats. This has had the expected effect of tipping the scales further and further in favour of the LNP.

In terms of updates to my ‘where we currently stand’ statement above and the graphic below, the only thing that has happened since this morning is that one of the three seats I classified as ‘too close to call’ this morning  – Capricornia (discussed further below) – has slid further into LNP territory, and is now arguably  likely to go to the LNP.

Just how close is close?

I mentioned above that there are three seats that are too close to call. These are Capricornia in Queensland, Cowan in WA and Melbourne Ports in VIC. If you’re interested in understanding why these seats are too close to call, I’m going to break down the current numbers for Capricornia.

So far for Capricornia the numbers from the AEC website at the time of writing this are 75,067 formal (or valid) votes counted – of these:

  • 37,899 (or 50.49%) of the votes are in favour of the ALP in two-party preferred terms and 37,167 (or 49.51%) of the votes are in favour of the LNP.
  • 73,119 are ‘ordinary’ votes (or votes cast on election day) and 1,948 are ‘declaration’ votes (which includes all other votes – including postal votes).

At a glance, those numbers look good for the ALP. However, if you split out the voting trends for ordinary votes and postal votes – you see a different story.  While 50.62% of ordinary votes were cast in favour of the ALP (in two-party preferred terms), for postal votes it is only 45.64%.  This difference between ordinary and postal votes is common, and in fact is more pronounced in other seats as I wrote last night – where Flynn had 51.5% of ordinary votes in favour of the ALP but only 34.7% of postal votes.

So of course the outcome for Capricornia will depend on how the remaining votes not yet counted and/or received by the AEC pan out. At this stage, all but one small group of ordinary votes are counted – one of the polling stations that go around to hospitals, which based on the other hospital polling stations probably has less than 200 votes.  However, in regards to postal votes there are:

  • 1,948 postal votes received AND counted,
  • 8,245 postal votes received but NOT counted by the AEC,
  • another 7,330 declaration votes (includes postals, absentee votes and pre-polls) issued but not yet returned by voters (or not yet received).

If we assume that the remaining postal votes received but not yet counted by the AEC fall out in a similar manner to those received so far – then the outcome would be 41,662 votes to the ALP and 41,649 votes to the LNP – a victory to the ALP, but only by 13 votes.

But if we then factor in all declaration votes that have not yet been returned to the AEC (which won’t happen), then if the current postal voting trend held across all declaration voting types,  the outcome would be 45,007 votes to the ALP and 45,635 vote to the LNP  – a victory to the LNP, but only by a margin of 627 votes.

The numbers of potential outstanding votes are also not final – there could be other votes yet to be received and factored in, further complicating the potential to determine an outcome when the margins are this tight.

So how close is close? It’s too close to call – so stay tuned for an update later today…

Original post from Saturday evening….

The following commentary was written last Saturday – but the graphic has been updated along with the commentary about safe seats at the end.

The Deciders rule

As I’ve written previously, while there were technically 150 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives this election, the reality is that the vast majority of electorates are considered to be ‘safe’ seats – meaning they won’t be changing hands, because, well, they almost never do.  This means that the outcome of yesterday’s election will actually be determined by just over a third of electorates – the Deciders. These are typically electorates which either have a high proportion of swinging voters in them (marginal seats and a few fairly safe seats) plus electorates where there is a well-known and well-liked Independent/Minor-party candidate running.

As a result, when you’re looking at the election outcome from last night, it’s really only the outcome in the Decider seats that matters.  So I’ve created the following Balance of Power Meter to track how the election outcome is going based primarily on the results in the Decider seats – rather than all seats – as it’s a more accurate proxy of how both parties are tracking.  (I am keeping an eye on the safe seats as well and adjust the chart if any of them decide to perform out of character. So far the LNP lost one – Wyatt Roy’s seat – and may possibly lose Peter Dutton’s seat.)  I am continuing to update my Balance of Power Meter – so check back in (make sure you refresh the page) for regular updates on progress.

BalanceOfPowerOmeter0707900am.jpg

Decider seats

My list of  54 Decider seats shown below is based on the ABC’s Antony Green’s list of Key seats plus I have added:

  • Cowper – Rob Oakeshott’s seat – as recent polls suggest he’s in within cooee of an upset in this seat; and
  • Warringah – Tony Abbott’s seat – enough said.

I’ve included running totals for each group to show where they end up, which I will update as the night progresses.

a) Decider seats won by the LNP in 2013 – 32 seats

This includes: Banks (NSW): Bass (Tas); Bonner (Qld); Boothby (SA); Braddon (Tas); Brisbane (Qld); Burt (new seat in WA); Capricornia (Qld); Corangamite (Vic); Cowan (WA); Cowper (NSW); Deaken (Vic); Dunkley (Vic); Eden-Monaro (NSW); Forde (Qld); Gilmore (NSW); Herbert (Qld); Hindmarsh (SA); La Trobe (Vic); Lindsay (NSW); Lyons (Tas); Macarthur (NSW); Macquarie (NSW); Mayo (SA); Murray (Vic); New England (NSW); Page (NSW); Petrie (Qld); Reid (NSW); Robertson (NSW);  Solomon (NT) and Tony Abbott’s seat – Warringah (NSW).

b) Decider seats won by the ALP in 2013 – 18 seats

This includes: Barton (NSW); Batman (Vic); Bendigo (Vic); Bruce (Vic); Chisholm (Vic); Dobell (NSW); Grayndler (NSW); Greenway (NSW); Lilley (Qld);  Lingiari (NT); McEwen (Vic); Melbourne Ports (Vic); Moreton (Qld); Parramatta (NSW); Paterson (NSW); Perth (WA); Richmond (NSW); and Wills (Vic).

c) Decider seats won by minor parties and independent candidates in 2013 – 4 seats

This includes: Denison (won by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie in Tas); Fairfax (won by Clive Palmer of PUP fame in Qld); Indi (won by independent candidate Cathy McGowan); and Melbourne (won by Andrew Bandt from the Greens in Vic).

Safe Seats

For a full list of all 150 seats up for election see the AEC’s list.  Any seat that I haven’t listed above, is classed as a Safe Seat in my Balance of Power Meter (although the AEC may have classed some of them as ‘Fairly safe’).

Update: The LNP have lost a Safe Seat – Wyatt Roy’s seat – to the ALP and the seat of Flynn in Queensland is also in doubt, but thanks to postals is likely to stay with them. Peter Dutton’s seat was also up for grabs for a while, but he seems to have slid in by the skin of his teeth.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Balance of Power Tracker: 2016 Federal Election Results Update

Update at 7:00 pm, 6 July 2016

At 7:00 pm on 6 July, since my update at 8am this morning, there’s been a lot more counting of postal votes which has changed the flavour of things materially in favour of the LNP.

Postal votes are tipping the scales to the right

The big news today is the impact of postal votes on the outcome as the AEC makes inroads into counting these votes. As expected, postal votes are leaning heavily towards the LNP – but to quite a serious extent when compared to ordinary (polling booth) votes.  For example,  in Flynn (Queensland), 51.53% of ordinary voters chose the ALP candidate over the sitting LNP candidate, but only 34.74% of postal voters did.

The impact of postal votes being factored into the outcome has meant:

  • At least one ‘safe’ seats that had been deemed decided is now back in the likely category. This is Flynn in Queensland, which I referenced above. It was held by the LNP prior to this election, but had been deemed as won by the ALP candidate in this election. Thanks to nearly two in three postal voters picking the LNP over Labor, the LNP is slowly clawing back this seat.
  • One undecided seat – Dunkley – which was leaning towards going to the ALP, has now been called as going to the LNP thanks to  60.5% of postal vote counted so far going their way.
  •  Of the nine remaining undecided seats:
    • Three that were leaning towards the ALP are now borderline, and could cross over into LNP territory if the trend continues. These are Capricornia, Herbert and Hindmarsh.
    • Only two are now  leaning towards the ALP – Cowan and Melbourne Ports. This morning it was six – so this is a dramatic shift.
    • Four undecided seats are leaning strongly towards the LNP – and unless the trend in postal votes changes, they will go to them. These are Chisholm, Cowper, Forde and Gilmore.

Where does this leave us?

This materially changes the complexion of the possible outcome. This morning, the ALP were potentially in contention of forming a minority government – and the Independents/Minor parties were looking like the Kingmakers. However based on the strong LNP count in today’s postals, the ALP winning has gone back to being a Steven Bradbury affair – it’s not impossible, but it will require a significant shift in the current direction.

In terms of actual numbers here is where I believe we are at right now in terms of seats – and this remains a movable feast, because this is one election where every vote (at least in a ‘Decider’ seat), really does count:

  • The LNP have likely won 70 seats – and 5 seats are leaning heavily in their direction. There are also another 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way. This makes the LNP’s probable outcome (at this stage) between 75 and 78 seats.
  • Labor have likely won 65 seats – and 2 seats are leaning heavily in their direction. Taking into account the 3 seats which I’m not attributing either way, Labor’s probable outcome (at this stage) is between and 67 and 70 seats.
  • Our Independents/Minor parties continue to hold 5 seats between them:
    • Katter party – 1
    • Xenophon party – 1
    • Greens – 1
    • Independents – 2 (Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan)

That’s the state of play at 7pm on 6 July. Stay tuned for further updates.

The following commentary was written last Saturday – but the graphic has been updated:

The Deciders rule

As I’ve written previously, while there were technically 150 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives this election, the reality is that the vast majority of electorates are considered to be ‘safe’ seats – meaning they won’t be changing hands, because, well, they almost never do.  This means that the outcome of yesterday’s election will actually be determined by just over a third of electorates – the Deciders. These are typically electorates which either have a high proportion of swinging voters in them (marginal seats and a few fairly safe seats) plus electorates where there is a well-known and well-liked Independent/Minor-party candidate running.

As a result, when you’re looking at the election outcome from last night, it’s really only the outcome in the Decider seats that matters.  So I’ve created the following Balance of Power Meter to track how the election outcome is going based primarily on the results in the Decider seats – rather than all seats – as it’s a more accurate proxy of how both parties are tracking.  (I am keeping an eye on the safe seats as well and adjust the chart if any of them decide to perform out of character. So far the LNP lost two seats – Wyatt Roy’s seat and Ken O’Dowd’s seat – and for a while looked like it would lose Peter Dutton’s seat.)  I am continuing to update my Balance of Power Meter – so check back in (make sure you refresh the page) for later updates on progress.

BalanceOfPowerOmeter0607700pm

Decider seats

My list of  54 Decider seats shown below is based on the ABC’s Antony Green’s list of Key seats plus I have added:

  • Cowper – Rob Oakeshott’s seat – as recent polls suggest he’s in within cooee of an upset in this seat; and
  • Warringah – Tony Abbott’s seat – enough said.

I’ve included running totals for each group to show where they end up, which I will update as the night progresses.

a) Decider seats won by the LNP in 2013 – 32 seats

This includes: Banks (NSW): Bass (Tas); Bonner (Qld); Boothby (SA); Braddon (Tas); Brisbane (Qld); Burt (new seat in WA); Capricornia (Qld); Corangamite (Vic); Cowan (WA); Cowper (NSW); Deaken (Vic); Dunkley (Vic); Eden-Monaro (NSW); Forde (Qld); Gilmore (NSW); Herbert (Qld); Hindmarsh (SA); La Trobe (Vic); Lindsay (NSW); Lyons (Tas); Macarthur (NSW); Macquarie (NSW); Mayo (SA); Murray (Vic); New England (NSW); Page (NSW); Petrie (Qld); Reid (NSW); Robertson (NSW);  Solomon (NT) and Tony Abbott’s seat – Warringah (NSW).

b) Decider seats won by the ALP in 2013 – 18 seats

This includes: Barton (NSW); Batman (Vic); Bendigo (Vic); Bruce (Vic); Chisholm (Vic); Dobell (NSW); Grayndler (NSW); Greenway (NSW); Lilley (Qld);  Lingiari (NT); McEwen (Vic); Melbourne Ports (Vic); Moreton (Qld); Parramatta (NSW); Paterson (NSW); Perth (WA); Richmond (NSW); and Wills (Vic).

c) Decider seats won by minor parties and independent candidates in 2013 – 4 seats

This includes: Denison (won by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie in Tas); Fairfax (won by Clive Palmer of PUP fame in Qld); Indi (won by independent candidate Cathy McGowan); and Melbourne (won by Andrew Bandt from the Greens in Vic).

Safe Seats

For a full list of all 150 seats up for election see the AEC’s list.  Any seat that I haven’t listed above, is classed as a Safe Seat in my Balance of Power Meter (although the AEC may have classed some of them as ‘Fairly safe’).

Update: The LNP have lost a Safe Seat – Wyatt Roy’s seat – to the ALP and the seat of Flynn in Queensland is also in doubt, but thanks to postals is likely to stay with them. Peter Dutton’s seat was also up for grabs for a while, but he seems to have slid in by the skin of his teeth.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

Balance of Power Meter: 2016 Federal Election Night Tracker

Update at 8:00 am, 3 July 2016

At 8:00 am on 3 July, there are around nine Decider seats that are too close to call. As shown in my diagram below, the most likely outcome right now – based on votes counted to date, and including seats that are too close to call is:

  • LNP with 74 seats (although Peter Dutton’s previously safe seat is now in doubt)
  • Labor with 71 seats
  • Minors/Independents – 5 seats (Katter, Wilkie, McGowan, Bandt and a Xenophoner)

No matter which way you cut and slice it, the LNP have been thrashed. They may hold onto government, but if they do, it will be by the skin of their teeth and/or in a minority government.

Seats in the Balance

There are around nine seats that are still too close to call – including one where there is literally five votes in it. In addition, Minister for saying “We’ve stopped the boats” – one PDuddy – has caused a previously safe LNP seat to be in doubt. Here’s the latest count details:

  • Batman (Vic) – 70.6% of the vote is counted. Currently 51.5% to the ALP and 48.5% to the Greens.
  • Capricornia (Qld) – 76.6% of the vote is counted. Currently 50.7% to the ALP and 49.3% to the LNP.
  • Chisholm (Vic) – 67.7% of the vote counted. There is literally 5 votes difference in the count. Not 5%. Not 0.5%. Five votes. It’s 50%/50% between the ALP and the LNP.
  • Cowan (WA) – 71.8% of the vote counted. Currently 50.1% to the ALP and 49.9% to the LNP.
  • Forde (Qld) – 69.6% of the vote counted. Currently 50.7% to the ALP and 49.3% to the LNP.
  • Gilmore (NSW) – 80.2% of the vote counted. Currently 50.2% to the LNP and 49.8% to the ALP.
  • Hindmarsh (SA) – 74.5% of the vote counted. Currently 50.2% to the ALP and 49.8% to the LNP.
  • Melbourne Ports (Vic) – 60.4% of the vote counted. There’s a three way race here between the ALP, the LNP and the Greens. The ALP in the lead in an ALP v LNP contest – but it’s unclear what the count is with the Greens.
  • Petrie (Qld) – 71.5% of the vote counted. The LNP are ahead on this one with 51.9% of the vote so far.

According to the AEC, there will be no counting again now until next Tuesday – so no more news until then.

The Deciders rule

As I’ve written previously, while there were technically 150 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives this election, the reality is that the vast majority of electorates are considered to be ‘safe’ seats – meaning they won’t be changing hands, because, well, they almost never do.  This means that the outcome of yesterday’s election will actually be determined by just over a third of electorates – the Deciders. These are typically electorates which either have a high proportion of swinging voters in them (marginal seats and a few fairly safe seats) plus electorates where there is a well-known and well-liked Independent/Minor-party candidate running.

As a result, when you’re looking at the election outcome from last night, it’s really only the outcome in the Decider seats that matters.  So I’ve created the following Balance of Power Meter to track how the election outcome is going based primarily on the results in the Decider seats – rather than all seats – as it’s a more accurate proxy of how both parties are tracking.  (I am keeping an eye on the safe seats as well and adjust the chart if any of them decide to perform out of character. So far the LNP lost one – Wyatt Roy’s seat – and may possibly lose Peter Dutton’s seat.)  I am continuing to update my Balance of Power Meter – so check back in (make sure you refresh the page) for regular updates on progress.

 

BalanceOfPowerOmeter800am.jpg

Decider seats

My list of  54 Decider seats shown below is based on the ABC’s Antony Green’s list of Key seats plus I have added:

  • Cowper – Rob Oakeshott’s seat – as recent polls suggest he’s in within cooee of an upset in this seat; and
  • Warringah – Tony Abbott’s seat – enough said.

I’ve included running totals for each group to show where they end up, which I will update as the night progresses.

a) Decider seats won by the LNP in 2013 – 32 seats

This includes: Banks (NSW): Bass (Tas); Bonner (Qld); Boothby (SA); Braddon (Tas); Brisbane (Qld); Burt (new seat in WA); Capricornia (Qld); Corangamite (Vic); Cowan (WA); Cowper (NSW); Deaken (Vic); Dunkley (Vic); Eden-Monaro (NSW); Forde (Qld); Gilmore (NSW); Herbert (Qld); Hindmarsh (SA); La Trobe (Vic); Lindsay (NSW); Lyons (Tas); Macarthur (NSW); Macquarie (NSW); Mayo (SA); Murray (Vic); New England (NSW); Page (NSW); Petrie (Qld); Reid (NSW); Robertson (NSW);  Solomon (NT) and Tony Abbott’s seat – Warringah (NSW).

Outcome in 2016: Latest Number of 2013 LNP Decider Seats won by:

The LNP: 15
The ALP: 10
Other: 01
Unknown: 06

b) Decider seats won by the ALP in 2013 – 18 seats

This includes: Barton (NSW); Batman (Vic); Bendigo (Vic); Bruce (Vic); Chisholm (Vic); Dobell (NSW); Grayndler (NSW); Greenway (NSW); Lilley (Qld);  Lingiari (NT); McEwen (Vic); Melbourne Ports (Vic); Moreton (Qld); Parramatta (NSW); Paterson (NSW); Perth (WA); Richmond (NSW); and Wills (Vic).

Outcome in 2016: Latest Number of 2013 ALP Decider Seats won by:

The LNP: 00
The ALP: 15
Other: 00
Unknown: 03

c) Decider seats won by minor parties and independent candidates in 2013 – 4 seats

This includes: Denison (won by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie in Tas); Fairfax (won by Clive Palmer of PUP fame in Qld); Indi (won by independent candidate Cathy McGowan); and Melbourne (won by Andrew Bandt from the Greens in Vic).

Outcome in 2016: Latest Number of 2013 ‘Other’ Decider Seats won by:

The LNP: 01 (from PUP)
The ALP: 00
Other: 03
Unknown: 00

Safe Seats

For a full list of all 150 seats up for election see the AEC’s list.  Any seat that I haven’t listed above, is classed as a Safe Seat in my Balance of Power Meter (although the AEC may have classed some of them as ‘Fairly safe’).

Update: The LNP have lost a Safe Seat – Wyatt Roy’s seat – to the ALP. They may also lose Peter Dutton’s seat.
This article was first posted on ProgressiveConversation.