Senate Preferences in NSW – has a senate seat just been delivered to Pauline Hanson?

As much as I’m a parochial Victorian, I’m far more disturbed by many of the group voting tickets lodged in NSW, as the overall result is that Pauline Hanson and One Nation have obtained an incredibly favourable preference flow, including from the Australian Sex Party, which has preferenced Ms Hanson ahead of all of the ALP, Greens and Coalition.

Earlier this year, according to journalist Heath Aston in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Hanson engaged notorious preference negotiator Glenn Druery

(responsible for getting Malcolm Jones from the Outdoor Recreation Party elected to the NSW election on 0.2% of the vote after registering 24 micro parties who cross-traded preferences) to work on her bid for the NSW Senate. He seems to have delivered the goods for her as she has received an amazing preference harvest from the other micro parties.

Although One Nation has polled poorly in recent elections, Ms Hanson just missed out on a NSW Upper House spot in the 2011 election, where she achieved nearly 2% of the primary vote as Unnamed Group J and ended up losing by less than 1300 votes.

That is a very strong result for her, as she was at a considerable disadvantage by not being able to have a party or personal name above the line on the ballot paper, which meant her voters actually actively sought out her group. How much bigger could her primary vote be now that she is running under the One Nation banner again, with their name appearing above the line?

A similar result of around 2 to 2.5% would put her in a very strong position to harvest any preferences, and thus be in serious contention for the final spot.

But just how many political parties preferences does she receive?

The thing to remember when looking at senate preferences, is it doesn’t necessarily matter what number you receive from another party’s preferences, but how you are ordered relative to the main contenders. If there are 100 candidates, and you get preference number 50 from Party A, you will still receive the benefit of these preferences if the all your rivals for the final spot receive preference number 51 or higher.

ABC psephologist Antony Green has put all the parties’ preferences up at his website in a much easier to read format than the AEC’s documents, and it is worth reading them to see exactly what is happening. The NSW Group Voting tickets are located here on Antony Green’s Election site.

As this is a half-senate election, there are 6 vacant senate seats. In NSW, based on past election results and current polling, it is reasonable to expect that the ALP and the Coalition will win 2 spots each outright, with the remaining 2 spots being decided by preferences. If the Coalition polls exceptionally well in the senate in NSW, they may get 3 spots outright.

The NSW Senate 2010 results are available here.

In 2010, neither the ALP or the Coalition polled enough to get 3 spots in their own right. It is reasonable to expect that the won’t be able to poll high enough to get 3 spots in their own right in 2013, once again leaving the final 2 spots up for grabs.

Three obvious contenders for the final two spots are the ALP, the Coalition and the Greens, who will battle it out with preferences playing a key role in deciding who wins. However, if a micro party is able to harvest a good enough preference flow, they could get ahead of 2 of these parties, to win one of the final spots. Most recently this has happened in the 2004 and 2010 elections in Victoria, where Family First won a spot in 2004 and the DLP in 2010 off a primary vote of approximately 2%.

In 2013, there are even more micro parties parties and candidates than in 2010, with 110 candidates from 44 parties (the ballot paper is over 1 metre long, and the AEC is providing magnifying glasses so people can actually read it).

So just how well has Pauline Hanson and One Nation done at harvesting preferences from these candidates?

William Bowe from the Poll Bludger at Crikey has done a fantastic job mapping out the preferences here.

To simplify things, lets just look at if they get preferences ahead of the Greens, and the Coalition and ALP (note – it is possible that a different right-wing micro party could end up doing well and end up winning instead of One Nation if they manage to stay ahead of them, if this happens, I think the most likely parties would be the Liberal Democrats or Shooters party):

  • Liberal Democrats -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens (btw – how misleading is this preferencing decision given the ALP introduced the Carbon Tax & the Coalition opposed it?)
  • Democratic Labor Party (DLP) -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Senator Online -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens
  • Voluntary Euthanasia Party -> Greens -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition
  • Group F (unamed group) -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens -> One Nation
  • HEMP: -> (they have lodged 3 tickets) with preferences split between Greens, ALP and One Nation depending on the ticket
    (i’d make a joke about what drugs were they on, but…)
  • Carers Alliance -> Coalition -> One Nation -> ALP -> Greens (obviously they don’t actually care about Disability Care)
  • Wikileaks -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Rise Up Australia -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Future Party -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation (and Future Party, good on you guys for putting One Nation last)
  • Christian Democrats -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • ALP -> Greens -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Katter’s Australian Party -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Australian Voice -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Sex Party -> One Nation -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition
  • Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens
  • Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Palmer United Party -> Coalition -> Greens -> One Nation -> ALP
  • Building Australia Party -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Uniting Australia Party -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens -> One Nation
  • Stop the Greens -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Smokers Rights -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Bullet Train for AUstralia -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Coalition -> ALP -> Greens -> One Nation
  • Australian Protectionist Party -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Animal Justice Party -> One Nation -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition
  • Australia First -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens
  • Australian Independents -> One Nation -> Greens -> Coalition -> ALP
  • Drug Law Reform -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Socialist Equality Party -> 3 different tickets going all over the place
  • Australian Democrats -> Greens -> 1/2 ALP & 1/2 Coalition -> One Nation
  • Group AG (Tom Wang) -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens -> One Nation
  • Family First -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Stable Population Party -> One Nation -> 1/3 Greens & 1/3 ALP & 1/3 Coalition
  • Shooters & Fishers -> One Nation -> ALP -> Coalition -> Greens
  • Stop CSG -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Australian Republicans -> Coalition -> Greens -> ALP -> One Nation
  • Socialist Alliance -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Non-Custodial Parents Party -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • Pirate Party -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Secular Party -> Greens -> ALP -> Coalition -> One Nation
  • Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party -> One Nation -> Coalition -> ALP -> Greens
  • One Nation -> 1/2 ALP & 1/2 Coalition -> Greens

As you can see from here, One Nation is getting by far the majority of preferences from the micro parties.

Of specific concern is the fact that One Nation is getting the Australian Sex Party preferences, as they polled nearly 2% in NSW in 2010, and their voter base is highly likely to be horrified at the idea of their preferences going to One Nation ahead of the Greens and the ALP, and potentially electing Pauline Hanson. The Animal Justice Party also preferences One Nation ahead of the Greens – do they really think that One Nation with their links to gun rights and hunters groups is better for animal welfare than the Greens?

The Sex Party have issued a statement trying to justify their preferencing of One Nation in NSW

Sex Party statement

However, their reasoning is deeply flawed, as although they may have reason to prefer One Nation over extreme religious fundamentalists such as Family First or Rise Up Australia, how can they justify putting One Nation ahead of the Greens and the ALP?

It seems that this is because of a cross-state preference deal that went wrong for the Sex Party when parties such as One Nation and the Liberal Democrats failed to lodge tickets in Victoria, where they may have expected to receive preferences for their leader Fiona Patten.

Robbie Swan from the Sex Party says the following in an interview with the ABC World Today.

“ROBBIE SWAN: We did a preference swap with the Liberal Democratic Party and four other parties that were controlled by them. But at the end of the day, we did all the preferencing we held to our end of the deal with the LDP. However, when it came time, the LDP failed to lodge in Victoria and so did the other parties that they controlled.”

The 5 parties that failed to lodge their tickets in Victoria were the following:

The Liberal Democrats
Australian Republicans
THe Smokers Rights Party
Stop the Greens (also known as the Outdoor Recreation Party)
and One Nation.

So, Robbie Swan is actually admitting he did a preference swap with One Nation. That is shameful.

The Sex Party preference negotiatiors have done themselves, and particularly Fiona Patten a huge disservice, as no preferences will go to her due to those groups failure to lodge a ticket, and they have preferenced Pauline Hanson in NSW for absolutely nothing, while also damaging their credibility as a party standing for civil liberties and tolerance. Although I’m an ex-Australian Democrat and current Green, I agree with many of the Sex Party’s policies (particularly on Drug Law Reform and anti-censorship), and I thought they had been building up support very well over the last few years, and may have a chance in future NSW and Victorian upper house elections. If Pauline Hanson gets elected, they may have done as much damage to their brand as The Australian Democrats did when Family First got elected in 2004 after they did a preference deal with them.

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