PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA

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info@prsa.org.au

www.prsa.org.au

12th October 2008

 

Extremes in Percentage of First Preference Votes for Elected Senators since PR Began in 1949

Source data by courtesy of the Australian Electoral Commission

 

Compare the Senate pattern below with the pattern for Tasmania’s Hare-Clark elections. The Senate pattern has much less evenness in the spread of first preference votes among the elected candidates within party columns than Hare-Clark. The much greater control that parties exercise for Senate elections is because the Senate’s PR system inherited the pre-existing REGIMENTED system of voting created by the listing of candidates’ names in each party column on the ballot-paper in the order the party determines. The Senate system became even more REGIMENTED in 1983 by the introduction of GROUP VOTING TICKETS.

The minimum percentage of first preference votes for an elected senator for Tasmania is 18 times the mean of the minimum percentage for the other States. At Tasmania’s House of Assembly elections, which have never used the REGIMENTED Senate system that discourages voters from choosing the order of their party’s candidates, voters’ individual choices result in first preference votes being much more evenly spread among each party’s candidates than with the stage-managed Senate system, and voters are not misled into giving other parties preferences that they would not be expected to give.

 

 

 

 

Minimum Percentage of First Preference Votes

Maximum Percentage of First Preference Votes

Date of General or Periodic Senate Poll

Quota

*

(%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean of States exc. Tas.

Ratio of Tas. to Mean of Others

Elected Candidate with Lowest % of First Preference Votes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean of States exc. Tas.

Elected Candidate with Highest % of
First Preference Votes

§ Denotes polls for Senate alone.

 

Tas.

NSW

Vic.

Qld

SA

WA

Name of Senator with the LOWEST % of first preference votes

Order in Column on Ballot-paper of All Candidates in Column

Tas.

NSW

Vic.

Qld.

SA

WA

Name of Senator with the HIGHEST % of first preference votes

Order in Column on Ballot-paper of All Candidates in Column

2013-09-07 14.29 0.24
0.02
0.02
0.01
0.10
0.02
0.02
7
Simon Birmingham
2nd of 6 36.73
34.12
40.04
41.30
27.29
39.10
36.37
Ian McDonald
1st of 6
2010-08-21 14.29 0.39
0.01
0.03
0.02
0.07
0.01
0.03
14
Matthew Thistlethwaite
2nd of 6 38.25
38.78
37.62
40.97
38.02
42.84
39.65
Matthias Cormann
1st of 6

2007-11-24

14.29

0.33

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.06

0.02

0.03

11

Marise Payne

3rd of 6

40.06

41.97

41.63

40.19

35.25

46.11

 41.03

David Johnston

1st of 6

2004-10-09

14.29

0.69

0.01

0.03

0.02

0.04

0.05

0.03

23

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

2nd of 6

43.36

44.04

44.00

38.17

47.17

49.13

 44.5

Christopher Ellison

1st of 6

2001-11-10

14.29

0.31

0.02

0.02

0.09

0.07

0.03

0.05

6

Marise Payne

3rd of 6

35.73

41.65

39.51

34.74

45.27

39.60

 40.15

Robert Hill

1st of 6

1998-10-03

14.29

0.98

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.06

0.05

0.04

28

Tsebin Tchen

3rd of 6

39.54

37.93

40.41

32.60

40.28

38.13

37.87

Stephen Conroy

1st of 6

1996-03-02

14.29

1.44

0.04

0.03

0.08

0.06

0.04

0.05

28

Rod Kemp

2nd of 6

39.26

41.23

41.31

35.20

45.66

45.18

41.72

Robert Hill

1st of 6

1993-03-13

14.29

0.40

0.03

0.03

0.03

0.03

0.03

0.03

14

Chris Ellison

3rd of 6

37.30

46.77

44.87

39.22

45.48

48.15

44.90

Sue Knowles

1st of 6

1990-03-24

14.29

1.14

0.04

0.03

0.09

0.06

0.07

0.06

19

Barney Cooney

2nd of 6

40.99

40.47

44.23

38.79

41.16

42.89

41.51

Richard Alston

1st of 6

1987-07-11

7.69

0.34

0.03

0.01

0.03

0.02

0.02

0.02

16

Robert Ray

4th of 7

36.11

38.66

43.70

41.80

41.14

42.56

41.57

John Button

1st of 7

From after the 1984 polls, a Senate voter could vote EITHER above-the-line using a GROUP VOTING TICKET, which casts a vote in the exact order of preferences a party wants, OR directly and explicitly as he or she wants below-the-line. GVTs increased voters' tendency to vote exactly as urged by their party.

1984-12-01

12.50#

0.71

0.07

0.10

0.17

0.07

0.23

0.13

5

Bruce Childs

2nd of 5

36.86

41.26

43.81

39.26

41.45

42.97

41.75

Olive Zakharov

1st of 4

1983-03-05

9.09

0.75

0.03

0.02

0.05

0.07

0.05

0.04

18

Robert Ray

4th of 6

30.33

47.01

46.27

38.25

43.88

48.77

44.84

Peter Walsh

1st of 6

1980-10-18

16.67

5.69

0.18

0.14

1.26

0.11

0.20

0.38

15

Robert
Hill

2nd of 3

32.57

44.42

40.66

37.94

43.11

43.99

42.02

James McClelland

1st of 3

1977-12-10

16.67

1.84

0.07

0.10

0.26

0.07

0.09

0.12

16

Milivoj Lajovic

2nd of 3

37.99

38.16

37.31

43.58

43.35

41.02

40.68

Kathryn Martin

1st of 3

1975-12-13

9.09

0.60

0.02

0.04

0.06

0.03

0.02

0.03

18

Kerry Sibraa

5th of 6

37.23

49.00

49.56

56.10

 

50.87

51.22

51.35

Neville Bonner

1st of 7

1974-05-18

9.09

0.73

0.02

0.06

0.10

0.04

0.05

0.06

13

John Carrick

2nd of 6

32.76

49.33

46.23

47.86

46.14

43.96

46.71

Lionel Murphy

1st of 6

1970-11-21§

16.67

4.43

0.21

0.17

0.37

0.22

0.33

0.26

17

George Hannan

3rd of 3

34.70

44.86

37.77

41.06

43.18

42.43

41.86

Tony Mulvihill

1st of 3

1967-11-25§

16.67

2.43

0.35

0.14

0.35

0.44

0.38

0.33

7

Arthur Poyser

2nd of 2

30.44

47.58

40.07

43.23

46.73

41.21

43.76

Douglas McClelland

1st of 3

1964-12-05§

16.67

9.94

0.31

0.24

0.26

0.19

0.40

0.28

35

Clement Ridley

2nd of 3

30.75

47.15

42.33

42.24

50.50

37.75

43.99

James Toohey

1st of 3

1961-12-09

16.67

3.45

0.15

0.23

0.35

0.29

0.62

0.33

11

Lionel Murphy

2nd of 3

31.50

47.15

39.99

42.11

48.77

41.35

43.87

Theophilus Nicholls

1st of 3

1958-11-02

16.67

10.37

0.19

0.36

0.86

0.29

0.52

0.44

23

James Ormonde

2nd of 3

26.19

43.55

43.13

45.05

46.38

39.24

43.47

James Toohey

1st of 3

1955-12-10

16.67

2.91

0.51

0.31

0.89

0.41

0.87

0.60

5

Harrie Wade

2nd of 2

28.79

47.42

44.96

50.86

44.62

43.12

46.20

Walter Cooper

1st of 3

1953-05-09§

16.67¶

5.53

0.45

0.38

0.51

0.35

0.34

0.41

14

John   
Harris

3rd of 3

26.02

51.80

50.15

46.96

51.74

46.80

49.49

Stanley Amour

1st of 3

1951-04-28

9.09¶

3.61

0.04

0.03

0.06

0.11

0.39

0.13

29

Magnus Cormack

5th of 5

18.02

46.67

49.55

55.50

48.32

49.51

49.91

Walter Cooper

1st of 6

1949-12-10

12.50#¶

6.06

0.38

0.13

0.23

0.23

0.65

0.32

19

John Gorton

3rd of 4

22.91

50.02

47.89

50.81

46.65

41.51

47.38

Edmund Maher

1st of 4

Mean

 

3.17

0.16

0.13

0.30

0.16

0.27

0.20

18

 

 

34.31

45.02

43.71

43.42

45.47

43.59

17.52

 

 

Least Extreme

10.37

0.51

0.38

1.26

0.44

0.87

0.60

5

 

 

26.19

37.93

32.60

32.60

40.28

37.75

37.87

 

 

Most Extreme

 

0.34

0.02

0.01

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.02

35

Robert Ray


40.99

51.80

50.15

56.10

51.74

51.22

51.35

Neville Bonner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The maximum percentage, and also the minimum percentage, of first preference votes gained by an elected senator, in Australia at any poll above, has occurred in one of the years above in every State but Tasmania, almost certainly because Tasmanian voters, used to the control that Hare-Clark, at State level, gives them over the election outcome, are much more likely than voters in any other State to vote below-the-line. 

 

They therefore tend to spread their first preference votes over a range of candidates rather than just concentrating them on the candidate at the head of the party how-to-vote ticket, as has long been typical in all the mainland States.

 

For an account of the changes in Senate ballot-paper layout and formality rules since 1902, which affect voter practices and vote outcomes, click here.

 

The 1998 percentage for Stephen Conroy, Senator for Victoria, is based on the official Australian Electoral Commission result, not the incorrect figure in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook.

 

The 1972-12-02 poll, for only the Lower House and Senate casual vacancies, elected Neville Bonner (Lib, Qld). Such polls elected I.Greenwood (Lib, Vic) on 1969-10-25, & J.Sim (Lib, WA) & L.Wilkinson (ALP, WA) on 1966-11-26.

 

The only senators elected with an extreme vote were Coalition, in blue type, and ALP shown in red type.

 

* Until the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) 1977 was approved at a referendum, Senate casual vacancies were pooled with periodic or general Senate vacancies at polls. The number of vacancies became larger than normal, so some States sometimes had a lower quota.

 

# Denotes the election here of 7 senators, in the transition to more senators per State.

 

¶ At these polls Tasmanians' prior Hare-Clark practice resulted, uniquely, in election of some Liberal and ALP candidates in a different order from the regimented (stage-managed) Senate ballot-paper order.

 

 

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