A week after the election, postal votes in Queensland have continued to flow very strongly to the Coalition. As a result, they have now taken narrow leads in Flynn, where Labor had 51.6% Two Party Preferred (2PP) on ordinary votes, and Capricornia, where Labor had 50.6% 2PP on ordinaries. The Coalition now leads in 76 of the 150 seats, enough for a majority.
In Flynn, postals counted so far have been at 63.5% 2PP to the Coalition, with over 3,000 still left. In Capricornia, postals have flowed to the Coalition at 58.6% 2PP, with over 3,400 to go. Even though other declaration vote types will be better for Labor than postals in those seats, they are unlikely to be much better than ordinary votes, and there are still a large number of Coalition-friendly postals left in both seats.
In other close seats, Labor’s lead in Hindmarsh should expand with absents breaking 61-39 to them. Herbert now looks genuinely lineball, and is likely to come down to declaration pre-poll votes. In Cowan, Labor will be hoping the first batches of absents, which were 52-48 to the Liberals, are from Liberal-favouring boundaries of the seat, and are unrepresentative.
The Coalition’s dominance of Queensland’s postal votes appears to have skewed the election night results towards Labor more than at previous elections. The Coalition’s strong postal vote campaign may have convinced many Coalition voters who would have voted at the booth normally to vote by post instead. The talk of a hung Parliament following election night now looks premature.
Labor’s only loss in a previously held seat this election has been Chisholm in Victoria, on a 2.9% swing to the Liberals. While this has sometimes been blamed on the Victorian government’s dispute with the Country Fire Authority (CFA), it is far more likely that former member Anna Burke’s personal popularity was responsible for keeping this seat Labor. Burke’s retirement meant that Labor lost her personal vote.
In Victoria, Labor was unlucky to lose a seat and not gain them, as Labor gained a 1.3% primary vote swing in that state, with the Greens up 1.8% and the Coalition down 0.7%. Despite the CFA dispute, Labor increased its vote in its regional seats.
The new Senate rules make it easier to vote below the line; voters now only need to number 12 boxes, rather than all of them, and just 6 boxes are required for a formal vote. Tasmania uses the Hare Clark system, with candidate order randomised on each ballot paper, so Tasmanians are used to voting for a chosen candidate in a proportional system.
At this election, prominent Labor Senator Lisa Singh was demoted to No. 6 on the Labor ticket, and Turnbull minister Richard Colbeck was No. 5 on the Liberal ticket. Labor has won 4.4 quotas, the Liberals 4.2 and the Greens 1.4, so if all party votes had been above the line, neither Singh nor Colbeck would win.
However, in the 31 booths which now have a full count of above the line and below the line votes for parties, Singh is winning 20.0% of the Labor vote, and Colbeck 13.6% of the Liberal vote.
There is a real danger that Nick McKim, the Greens' No. 2, could be squeezed out. While the Greens have 0.4 quotas remaining after electing their top candidate, compared with an apparent 0.2 for the Liberals, that Liberal vote could be divided evenly between the Liberals' No. 4 and Colbeck, with each polling about 0.6 quotas.
McKim could finish behind both Liberals, and the result would be Labor 5, Liberal 5, Green 1, Lambie 1, instead of Labor 5, Liberal 4, Green 2, Lambie 1.
Authors: Adrian Beaumont, PhD Student, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne