An Opposition-Run Senate

The Liberal Party has effectively given up on winning the House of Representatives in the 18th May Election. Instead it is throwing everything at control of the Senate. Hence the Nats preferencing ON and the Libs preferencing Clive Palmer.

Should they succeed in that aim, then they can obstruct all ALP legislation. Anyone remember the “Dismissal’?

So how is the Senate going to appear after this election? I looked into my crystal ball and, through the haze, I thought I gained some knowledge. Then again, perhaps these old eyes mis-interpreted what they saw.

How will the Senate be elected?

The number of votes in a quota for each state varies according to the size of the electorate. For a simple Senate election such as this, the quota is, as near as damn is to swearing, 14.28% (1/7th) of the vote.

This is where the skill of ‘Preference whisperers’ comes in – for instance, they find twenty candidates each of whom may get an average of 0.7% (20×0.7 = 14%) and have the preferences swapped among them all. No one knows which of the group will be elected but if their total exceeds 14.28% then ONE of them will be elected. 0.7% in NSW translates to around 30,000 votes. In Western Australia it is about 9,500 and in Tasmania it is 2,400 votes.

Who is staying in the senate? I have abbreviated unconscionably in these little chartlets, both with party names and State names.

LP – N 3 Q 1 S 1 T 3 V 2 W 3 +2 Tot 15
ALP – N 3 Q 2 S 2 T 2 V 2 W 2 +2 Tot 15
PHON – Q 1 Tot 1
Nats – Q 1 V 1 Tot 2
AG – Q 1 T 1 V 1 W 1 Tot 4
CA – S 2 Tot 2
AC – S 1 Tot 1
TOTAL – N 6 Q 6 S 6 T 6 V 6 W 6 NT 2 ACT Tot 40

So the Coalition has 17/40, the ALP/Greens have 19/40 leaving oddballs 6/40. Note that there are 2 walk-ups each for the ALP and LNP in the Nt and ACT

Retiring senators
LP – N 1 Q 1 S 3 T 1 V 2 W 2 Tot 10
ALP – N 1 Q 2 S 1 T 3 V 2 W 2 Tot 11
PHON – W 1 Tot 1
NATS – N 1 Q 1 T 1 Tot 3
AG – N 1 Q 1 S 1 T 1 V 1 W 1 Tot 6
LDP – N 1 Tot 1
UAP – N 1 Tot 1
IND – Q 1 S 1 Tot2
DHJP – V 1 Tot 1

The Coalition (LP + Nats) has 13 seats up for election, ALP/Greens have 17 and oddballs 6.

There are a total of 76 Senators so to control the Senate, one side or the other will need a minimum of 39 Senators.

The Senate has been relatively stable over a number of elections. The 2016 election was an exception as it was a double dissolution and with a smaller quota (around 7%) which meant there was a larger number of small party Senator elected.

So this is where things become difficult. How many of those small party Senators will survive? And where will their seats go? Any OddBalls (ON, LDP, UAP, IND, DHJP and IND) elected will almost certainly vote with the Coalition. In general, in normal times, when voters do the expected, a State’s senate seats split three to either Lib or Lab, two to Lab or Lib and one either to the major who only won two of the first five seats determined OR (and this is key) one to a minor party. Often Green but sometimes a One Nation or a Nick Xenophon or a Clive Palmer spoils the party.

If we assume a return to normality then we can assign two seats each to the Libs and Labs in each state. This will lift each of them from 15 seats to 27 seats each with 12 seats unallocated (remember there are 4 Greens and 6 Oddballs already there).

State by State for the remaining seats based on the past but excluding 2016,

Tasmania; it is probable they will elect a Green and a Lib in positions 5 and 6. So – Libs 3, ALP 2, Greens 1

Western Australia; has a history of electing a Lib in 5th position, leaving 6th to Lab, Greens and One Nation. I hope the Greens (Jordon Steele-John) hang on here but worry about the City Labor vote. The flow between One Nation and United Australia needs to be watched closely. Hopefully each will only gain 6%. – So, Libs 3, Lab 3.

Victoria, Probably a Lib and a Green so Libs 3, Lab 2, Greens 1 although the Andrews effect could give a Lib seat to Lab. One to watch closely.

South Australia; Noted for the Xenophon effect and a traditional 3 Liberal Seat State, I would expect a Lib to win the 5th seat leaving the 6th for a Green (Sarah Hanson-Young) or a stray oddball. Giving 3 Libs, 2 Lab and 1 Green.

New South Wales; Traditionally 2 Libs, 2 Lab and one Nat so the 5th seat will probably go to the Nats. The NSW sixth seat is possibly the most open in this election. Greens, ON, UAP, Lib and Lab all have a chance of winning it. I’m tipping UAP because of the loss of confidence in the Nats which will hurt ON. This could turn out to be 2 Libs, 2 Lab, one Nat and 1 UAP.

Queensland; Probably a Nat winning 5th and UAP winning 6th. Sadly I don’t see a Green winning in this state of environmental vandals. 2 Lib, 2 Lab, 1 Nat and 1 UAP

So in the 5th and 6th seats, I’m tipping 3 Greens (total 7), 4 Lib (total 31) 1 ALP (total 28) UAP 2 (total 2) Nats 2 (total 4) PHON 0 (total 1) CA 0 (total 2) AC 0 (total 1)

This comes down to Right 41, Left (Lab+Greens) 35

I need to be wrong in FOUR states for the IPA/Liberal/OddBalls Coalition to lose power in the Senate. I can see me being wrong once or twice. Possibly even three times. But four? Sorry. Bill will have a grumpy Senate to deal with.

Gough Whitlam failed at that task, I fear Bill may do so as well.

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