ACT Assembly going to 25


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ACT Assembly going to 25


Ben Raue

March 24, 2014

In the lead-up to the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, I didn’t have time to cover another electoral story in the Australian Capital Territory. After many years of debate, and competing proposals, the ACT Legislative Assembly appears set to increase in size, from 17 to 25 seats.

The ACT’s legislative body currently has 17 members elected from three multi-member electorates. The electorate of Molonglo, centred on Lake Burley Griffin, elects seven members, while the Belconnen-based Ginninderra and the Tuggeranong-based Brindabella each elect five members.

The Labor Party and the Greens have supported some expansion in size of the ACT for a while, but it has faced opposition from the Liberal Party.

An expert panel (read the report) recommended the creation of five electorates – which would initially elect five members each before eventually electing seven members each for a total Assembly size of 35.

The Liberal Party’s ACT division decided to support the increase to 25 at their meeting on March 5. It’s unclear if either party is pushing for an eventual increase to 35 seats.

The next ACT election is due in just over two and a half years, giving plenty of time for the Assembly to pass the change and for new boundaries to be drawn.

We don’t know exactly how the boundaries will be drawn, but there aren’t that many options when you are drawing electoral boundaries in Canberra.

One possible way to divide ACT's polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

One possible way to divide ACT’s polling places into five electorates. Belconnen in orange, Central in purple, North in blue, Tuggeranong in green, West in yellow.

In 2010, I conducted some analysis at the likely impact of a 5×5 electoral system that didn’t make it to this blog. This included assigning all polling places to one of five electorates.

The ACT is divided into seven districts. The central suburbs are split into North Canberra and South Canberra by the Lake. These areas are usually referred to as the ‘inner north’ and ‘inner south’.

In the north you find Gungahlin, and Belconnen in the north-west.

In the south you have Tuggeranong, and just north of Tuggeranong to the west of the city is Weston Creek and Woden Valley.

When drawing these boundaries I found that both Tuggeranong and Belconnen were too large to be contained within a single electorate. Both areas formed the basis for an electorate. I then created an electorate called ‘West’ covering Weston Creek and the remainder of Tuggeranong. In the north I created an electorate covering all of Gungahlin and northern parts of Belconnen, as well as the northern fringe of the inner north.

I then created a fifth electorate in the centre, surrounding the Lake and mostly covering the inner south and inner north.

Population will continue to shift, and I didn’t take into account absentee and other special votes which may vary in numbers. It’s quite possible that the Central electorate will lose parts of Woden. Having said that, I think they provide a useful guide as to how a 5×5 system would change the balance in the ACT.

I’ve taken the results by polling place of the 2012 results (no thanks to Elections ACT, who don’t provide the data in a format that allows you to download it all at once – you need to visit a separate page for each polling place) to produce my estimate of how many quotas each party would have polled in each of these five hypothetical electorates in 2012.

Seat Labor Liberal Greens Others
Belconnen 2.5227 1.8653 0.6105 1.0004
Central 2.4636 2.1197 0.9045 0.5118
North 2.4001 2.1628 0.7039 0.7324
Tuggeranong 2.1273 2.8835 0.3939 0.5950
West 2.4007 2.4501 0.5984 0.5494

The ALP polled higher than the Liberal Party in 2012, but the Liberal vote is more concentrated in Tuggeranong so the highest result for a particular party is for the Liberal Party in Tuggeranong. Tuggeranong is the best area for the Liberal Party, and the worst for both the ALP and the Greens. Belconnen is best for the ALP and worst for the Liberal Party. The Greens vote peaks in the central electorate.

On these numbers, I estimate that we would see 11-12 Liberals, 10-12 Labor and 2-4 Greens MLAs. The fifth seat in Belconnen could either go to the ALP or the Greens. The fifth seat in the West could go to Labor, Liberal or Greens. In this scenario, all parties would increase their numbers.

In most circumstances, this result would ensure that both major parties won two seats in each electorate. The Greens vote is quite strong in Central – probably enough to offset the fact that they previously benefited from a lower quota in Molonglo that has been lost. In this scenario, 0.7 quota in the North is probably enough to elect a Green, but may not be enough to guarantee a win if the balance between the major parties shifts.

The Greens polling 0.6 quotas in Belconnen and the West would provide enough of a base to give the party a chance, particularly in a good election. The Greens would have to perform exceptionally to win a seat in Tuggeranong.

Overall, these new electorates would see no change in the balance of power: on 2012 votes, the Greens would have held the balance of power, with the likely result seeing Labor and the Greens sharing government as they have done. The biggest impact would have been a deeper bench: resulting in more talent available to serve as ministers, and a larger backbench.

SA 2014 – boundary issues


Ben Raue

March 18, 2014

South Australia’s election produced a result that has sparked a lot of interest: despite the Liberal Party winning a majority of the two-party-preferred vote (and by even more than in 2010), the Liberal Party has won less seats than the ALP, and we appear to have narrowly avoided the Labor government holding an outright majority.

It’s not an uncommon outcome, in South Australia and elsewhere in the country. The ALP has formed government in South Australia despite losing the statewide vote three times in the last 25 years: in 1989, 2002 and 2010, and in two of those cases the ALP won an overall majority.

In federal politics, the 1990 and 1998 elections both saw the sitting government maintain power despite losing the vote (Labor in 1990, and the Coalition in 1998).

Following Saturday night’s result, multiple Liberal figures have come out to complain about the outcome and to vaguely criticize our existing electoral system which allows such an ‘unfair’ result.

Tony Abbott described South Australia’s election laws as ‘extraordinary’, ignoring the fact that Saturday’s outcome could just as easily happen under federal electoral law.

Read the rest of this entry »

WA Senate by-election – preferences announced


Ben Raue

March 17, 2014

Each group running in the WA Senate by-election submitted their group voting tickets on Saturday, which will direct preferences for above-the-line votes cast for each group. With the state elections in South Australia and Tasmania, I’ve only now had time to analyse the preferences lodged. You can download the Group Voting Tickets here (PDF).

Each Group Voting Ticket covers all 77 candidates running in the election, but for the purposes of my analysis I have looked at only 33 candidates – the third Liberal candidate, the second Labor candidate and the first candidate for every other group running. I have also excluded the two ungrouped independents.

All of my analysis focused on where each party preferenced a group of ten parties that all polled over 1% at the 2013 election in Western Australia. There’s no guarantee that these ten parties are the only parties to stand a chance of winning election, but their chance is greatest.

After speculation about the ALP not preferencing the Greens, the outcome is a tad anticlimactic and is unlikely to hurt the Greens. The ALP preferences, in order, the Secular Party, the Animal Justice Party, the Sex Party, the independent Save the ABC group, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, HEMP, and then the Greens. It is very unlikely that any of those parties will remain in the count long enough to challenge the Greens and benefit from Labor preferences.

There is a wide variety in how parties have preferenced.

On the left, the Greens received preferences directly from Wikileaks, the Socialist Alliance and the Pirate Party. The Save Our ABC group and the Sex Party preferenced the ALP before the Greens, while the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Sustainable Population Party and Animal Justice Party all split their preferences evenly between Labor and the Greens. Surprisingly, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) placed the Greens very low, behind the Shooters, the ALP and the Palmer United Party, amongst many others. The Secular Party preferenced the Sex Party and then the Greens, amongst parties with a significant chance.

The Republican Party and the Mutual Party, both with names that suggest a progressive agenda, both preferenced the ALP and Greens poorly and placed the Liberal Democratic Party high.

A block of parties preferenced tightly, including the LDP, the Republican Party, the Mutual Party, the Outdoor Recreation Party and Smokers Rights, all placed the LDP highly and otherwise mostly placed microparties in the top half of their preference order.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Freedom and Prosperity Party (formerly the Carbon Sceptics), Australian Voice, Building Australia Party, PUP, HEMP and the Australian Sports Party all placed the Shooters most highly amongst the top ten parties.

We’ll have to wait for others to do a deeper level of analysis to know what tiny parties have accrued enough preferences to stand a chance of winning, in the way that the Australian Sports Party did. However one measure of this can be seen by averaging the rank that each party achieved on each other party’s preference list.

As a score from 1 to 33, the parties with the best average preferences are the Australian Democrats (10.6), the Mutual Party (10.9), and the Australian Sports Party (11.7). The parties with the worst average preference ranking are the Smokers Rights Party (23.3), the Socialist Alliance (23) and Rise Up Australia (22.1).

Over the fold, I’ve summarised the key preferences for all 33 groups. You can also download all of the Group Voting Tickets in spreadsheet form here.

Update: Edited to reflect that the Voluntary Euthanasia Party split their preferences evenly between the Greens and Labor, not going to Labor entirely as previously written.


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