September 16, 2004 | Graham

The beneficiaries of Pauline will be the Nats and Democrats



Pauline Hanson won’t win a senate seat, but her candidacy should put the National Party over the line in Queensland and enhance the chances of the Democrats of retaining theirs.
Last election the senate results were as follows:

Liberal 34.7%
National 9.1%
Labor 31.6%
Green 3.3%
Democrat 6.6%
One Nation 10.0%
Others 4.7%

The only other thing that you need to know to understand what is likely to happen this time is that a senate quota is 14.3%. Any candidate that achieves a quota will be elected, and any vote that they receive in excess of that will be distributed to the next person on their preference list. Any candidate achieving less than a quota will be eliminated in order of lowest vote. As a candidate is eliminated their votes are allocated to the next person on their preference list.
Last election both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party achieved two quotas each, leaving two seats to be decided on preferences. The Liberal Party had 6.12 percentage points of their vote left to distribute, and the ALP 3.
What then happened was that there was enough of the Liberal tail to get the National Party over the line. The Democrats kept sufficiently ahead of the Greens to take a combination of their preferences and ALP preferences to win the final spot. No-one preferenced One Nation, so while they won two-thirds of a quota, they never came any closer.
While a National Party victory was never in much doubt, it was touch and go for the Democrats. Add the ALP votes to the Green ones and you are looking at 6.3% to 6.6%. Who wins depends on how the “Others” split.
So, what will happen this election? Who knows? Senate votes are a bit of a lottery, but here goes. Let’s assume that the major party votes stay pretty much where they are. Perhaps the Liberal vote will sink and Labor rise, but these shifts shouldn’t have a major effect on the ultimate result. Where the real movements are likely to be is in the minor party votes.
One Nation’s ten percent had to be to a large extent a Hanson vote as she was the candidate. One can therefore assume that most of that will either dissipate or transfer across, depending on Hanson’s popularity in three weeks’ time. We’ll have to wait a few weeks until we have any reliable polling on that (the one that someone will surely publish tomorrow or the day after won’t measure much more than initial enthusiasm), but let’s say Hanson wins 5%.
In that case, what will happen is that, unlike last election, Hanson’s vote will end up being distributed. Who will it go to? It is not likely to be the Labor Party, nor is it likely to be the Liberals. My bet is that most of it will go to the National Party.
Certainly the National Party has been angling for it. When Liberal State Director Geoff Greene made some ill-considered comments last week about how the Liberal Party would win three Senate positions in Queensland at the expense of the National Party, Nationals President, Terry Bolger told him off. There is no doubt that the Nationals will do all they can to win back their senate seat.
At the same time National Senate candidate Barnaby Joyce said there was nothing to stop the Nationals preferencing Pauline Hanson because she was running as an Indepedent. Nationals Federal Leader, John Anderson, has said Hanson will be second last on their ticket, just before One Nation itself. A parliamentary leader’s opinion on the matter is just one amongst many – before getting in too deep here John Anderson should talk to Rob Borbidge who was knee-capped on this matter by the organisation during the 1998 state campaign. Even if Anderson does prevail, they may not direct preferences to her, but what is the betting that many Nationals will be handing out her how-to-vote cards. Hanson has to send her preferences somewhere, and the Nationals will probably look to her as pretty much the best of a bad lot.
Hanson’s preferences, plus the Nationals first preferences will most likely give them a quota and therefore a seat.
What will happen with the rest of the votes? A lot depends on who goes out first. The Democrats have virtually disappeared as a party, but they are in less danger in Queensland than most other states because the Greens vote is so low here. There are a number of reasons for the low Greens vote, but one of them is Pauline Hanson. Most who vote Greens are not environmentalists, they are protest voters. Voting Greens is a respectable way of them saying “I want none of the above” without wasting their vote and voting informal.
But in Queensland the Greens have had competition for the protest vote from One Nation and others, so their vote has been depressed. With Hanson in the race, the Greens will do less well than otherwise, and that may well help the Democrats. The Greens are also fielding Drew Hutton, who is a perennially unsuccessful candidate in Queensland elections, having run more frequently and with spectacularly less success than Hanson. If you want to say “Up yours” in Queensland, Greens isn’t a really good way to do it.
That gives the Democrats a slim chance of getting home, particularly if Liberal, Labor and Nationals all preference them ahead of the Greens. If they can get enough preferences to get in front of the Greens, then Greens preferences will get them there.
Poor old Pauline. The media have made much of her marriages and alleged romantic relationships, but in politics since her initial success she has only ever been the bridesmaid, never the bride. Waiting at the door of the church with their rosettes in their button holes, the Nationals and the Democrats must be breathing a sigh of relief that she is turning up yet again.
But they shouldn’t take anything for granted. If they make too big a fuss about her, they may actually increase her vote. The more people talk about Hanson, the better she will do. The Nationals having a row with their federal leader about preferencing her would actullay do more to help her than anything else, as would the Democrats demonising her in pamphletts and press releases. It would be best for both if they wait by the door with their lips sealed.



Posted by Graham at 4:39 pm | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

9 Comments

  1. Graham,
    Some thoughts, and a few questions on this.
    1. The 43.8 combined Nats/Libs vote seems likely to drop this time, and the Labor vote will surely be better than 31.6. I appreciate that the Labor Senate vote will be lower than the Reps. Iirc, the Nats ran a very high profile campaign in 2001 with advertising focused on Ron Boswell. I’d be interested in how you think they’re tracking this time, with a comparative nonentity heading the ticket.
    2. The above-the-line preference allocation will be the critical factor. Do you have a feel for that at this stage. Four or five of Libs’, Nats’, Labor’s, PH’s, Greens’ and Democrats’ prefs will be counted
    3. As a non-Queenslander (therefore ignorant of the on-the-ground picture) I would have thought the combined Hanson and official ON vote, will be well below 10%. Where will it go? I would guess all over the place, bits to the other minor parties, bits to the Nats more than the Libs, and even bits to Labor (surely that’s what’s happened in the Queensland State elections).
    4. Why would disaffected Nats hand out for Pauline, and who would they be helping in the Reps?
    5. My very speculative bet would be 3 Lib (but possibly 2 Lib, 1 Nat) , 2 ALP, 1 Democrat.

    Comment by Peter F — September 16, 2004 @ 9:33 pm

  2. According to the highly authorative Channel 10 news poll, Pauline may well be moving into the Lodge after the election because around 75% of people are going to vote for her (even if she is going for the Senate, with those sort of figures she would deserve to find a new home in the Prime Minister’s residence).
    Of course, the poll was probably stacked with die-hard Pauline fans, so we won’t take it too seriously.
    There is something almost sad about Pauline’s return; it’s like she just doesn’t know that it is over, but she probably will be an annoyance to the major parties again.
    An interesting feature of the Hanson moment was how she was conceived as a female and as a female politician (you would rarely see marital metaphors being used in relation to a male politician, for example).
    Nevertheless, I sincerely doubt Pauline will be attending the following function; the details of which I got off the University of Queensland’s Women’s Area e-list, with thanks to the Women’s Officer, Jess.
    “Federal Election Forum 2004
    on
    Women’s Issues with Qld candidates from the Senate and the House of Representatives
    The forum will provide the opportunity to:
    hear candidates speak on the key policy issues for women: ask questions of candidates on women’s issues; and receive information on the electoral system.
    Monday 20th September
    7pm to 9pm
    South’s Leagues Club
    Davies Park
    Jane St, West End.
    All welcome to attend the forum (the venue is child friendly).
    The forum has been organised by a coalition of women’s services. For
    further information on the forum contact welqld@wel.org.au

    Comment by Darlene — September 16, 2004 @ 9:43 pm

  3. Peter,
    I’m not sure that the Liberals vote will drop. Newspoll has them up on last election at the moment in Queensland. The Nats pushed a myth at the last election that Boswell was some sort of a super campaigner. He got pretty much what they always get, just was a little luckier than O’Chee. I think they’ll get their party vote, which is what they got last time, and which is what all senate tickets tend to do, no matter who the party is.
    No idea how the parties will allocate their preferences. Assume we will know tomorrow, but not necessarily, as there could be some horsetrading still going on.
    On your third question, assuming most vote above the line for Hanson or One Nation, then they will go wherever Hanson or One Nation direct them and won’t spray all over the place. The Senate is the only level of government where parties really can “direct” preferences (apart from mine and the other few tragics who vote below the line).
    I wasn’t suggesting that it would be disaffected Nats, I’m suggesting that it would be a semi-official effort. If they could do a preference deal then handing out her cards in the expectation that she would be eliminated and they would receive her preferences would be almost the same as handing out their cards, except they would probably be getting votes they could not otherwise get.
    I’ll take your bet on the Libs getting 3, and think the odds are against the Dems unless they have a better pitch than relying on their bungy jumping skills.

    Comment by Graham Young — September 16, 2004 @ 10:18 pm

  4. Yep Darlene,
    I’m sure that given who is advertising the forum – ie. the UQ Union Women’s Rights Area (well know for its pluralist and open-minding representation of female students on campus), the forum will be a well balanced, informative political discussion. No Right of Centre women will be booed or shouted down and everyone will be given an opportunity to tell the public about their vision for Australian women.
    Yeah right. Another contest to see who can best out marginalise each other’s policies from the Left.
    Great work.
    Please keep your political advertising off-blog. I am sure many people would shudder at the thought of myself posting UQ Liberal Club meeting notifications on this blog.
    Just post some Bills on private property around West End. That’ll get people there!
    Very insightful article Graham.
    AFJ

    Comment by Antonio — September 17, 2004 @ 12:17 am

  5. Antonio, the event is being put on by the Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL), not the Women’s Area at UQ. Just thought it would be of interest to the many good feminist men and women who read this site.
    Happy student union elections, by the way.

    Comment by Darlene — September 17, 2004 @ 12:52 pm

  6. The final Queensland senate seat competition between the Greens, Democrats and Hetty Johnston look’s to be closer than first thought. The preference swap between Hetty and the Dems, and preferene flows from Family first could hand the seat to Hetty.
    Hetty has been playing smart politics getting preferences from all sides of politics, without regard for policy or ethics. Family First have a policy that allows parents to physically punish children. Now Hetty being a anti child abuse campaigner should put a party like this down low on her preferences, instead puts them second on her preferences and swaps preferences.
    It makes one question her motives, are they based on principles or just the blind ambition for power. It seems to be more ambition as she is leaving herself open to sharp criticsm from all sides of politics. This will be her downfall and her primary vote will be fairly low.
    This leaves the battle between John Cherry and Drew Hutton. It seems John will only poll around 2% but is likely to pick up many minor party preferences from both the left and right. Drew will pick up 2nd preferences from the ALP. The end result will be very close and will depend on how well the ALP perform. If they get over 2.3 quota’s, Hutton has a good chance, anything below 2.3 quota’s will hand the seat to Cherry. This will be the closest contest in the country and could take weeks to work through. With the main focus on Howard vs Latham, it will be worth watching the battle between Cherry and Hutton for the spoils in the senate.

    Comment by Ian Williams — September 20, 2004 @ 11:41 pm

  7. Ian,
    Some interesting points. You’ve paid closer attention than I have been able to. Have you seen the latest Morgan Polling? They say Hanson would win, although I can’t quite see it. Your comments would be welcome! Link is http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2004/3786/

    Comment by Graham Young — September 21, 2004 @ 11:50 pm

  8. Peter,
    The Nats have actually ran a very well-publicised campaign for Barnaby Joyce (on the back of Ron Boswell) and have a great chance of picking up a senate seat. I really wouldn’t knock out Pauline Hanson entirely though. Her support in QLD is huge and might be a last minute sentimental choice for many. Those two are likely to fight it out for one of the seats, especially with Family First, Independents and The New Country Party preferences flowing their way.
    I agree that the ALP and the Libs will take 2 seats each (with the ALP polling 6 or 7% higher than last election, and the Libs a little less).
    However, I think the Greens will get the other spot over the Democrats, with more primaries and more preferences flowing their way also. Hutton has been historically unpopular, but the Greens did well in metropolitan seats in the last state election and he has been fairly visible (at least in Brisbane media). The Democrats on the other hand have not really ran a campaign whatsoever in QLD and the general vibe seems to be that the Democrats are dead in the water. As a result, I think Cherry will probably be a very upset man in a week or two when it is finally declared. I agree that it certainly will be worth watching though, as it will be very tight.

    Comment by Tim — October 9, 2004 @ 12:30 am

  9. Peter,
    The Nats have actually ran a very well-publicised campaign for Barnaby Joyce (on the back of Ron Boswell) and have a great chance of picking up a senate seat. I really wouldn’t knock out Pauline Hanson entirely though. Her support in QLD is huge and might be a last minute sentimental choice for many. Those two are likely to fight it out for one of the seats, especially with Family First, Independents and The New Country Party preferences flowing their way.
    I agree that the ALP and the Libs will take 2 seats each (with the ALP polling 6 or 7% higher than last election, and the Libs a little less).
    However, I think the Greens will get the other spot over the Democrats, with more primaries and more preferences flowing their way also. Hutton has been historically unpopular, but the Greens did well in metropolitan seats in the last state election and he has been fairly visible (at least in Brisbane media). The Democrats on the other hand have not really ran a campaign whatsoever in QLD and the general vibe seems to be that the Democrats are dead in the water. As a result, I think Cherry will probably be a very upset man in a week or two when it is finally declared. I agree that it certainly will be worth watching though, as it will be very tight.

    Comment by Tim — October 9, 2004 @ 12:31 am

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