Record 85.7% of Greens preferenced Labor at federal election; electoral reform proposals

·6-min read
AAP/AP/Kydpl Kyodo
AAP/AP/Kydpl Kyodo

Under compulsory preferential voting, all formal votes must eventually preference one of the major parties over the other. The electoral commission has released preference flow information for all minor parties, This means we can tell, for example, how many Greens voters preferred Labor and how many the Coalition.

Analyst Kevin Bonham said changes in minor party preference flows from 2019 added one point to Labor’s national two party vote of 52.1%. Changes in flows to Labor occurred across the board, with the Greens (12.2% of overall vote) at 85.7% preferences to Labor, up 3.5% from 2019 and a record high.

One Nation (5.0% of overall vote) was at 35.7% to Labor, up 0.9%. UAP (4.1% of votes) was at 38.1%, up 3.3%. Independents (5.3% of votes) were at 63.8% to Labor, up 4.4%. All others (5.1% of votes) were at 45.3% to Labor, up 0.6%. The Coalition’s percentage share of preferences is 100 minus Labor’s share.

I previously published a critique of the polling at this election, which said the polls overstated Labor’s position on primary votes, but understated their share of preferences. These two errors roughly cancelled, so the overall average of Labor’s national two party vote in the five pre-election polls was 52.4%, close to the actual result of 52.1%.

Read more: How did the polls perform in the 2022 election? Better, but not great; also a Senate update

Close “three candidate preferred” contests

Richmond, Brisbane and Macnamara were in doubt for some time after election night as it was not known which of Labor or the Greens would finish second and benefit from the other’s preferences. In Brisbane, the Greens were in third place, just 0.01% behind Labor on primary votes. They easily overtook Labor by 30.1% to 28.4%, then beat the LNP on Labor preferences.

In Macnamara, Labor held off the Greens by 33.5% to 32.8% from primary votes of 31.8% Labor and 29.7% Greens. In Richmond, Labor was 2.5% ahead of the Greens when the Greens were excluded.

I previously covered Groom, where independent Suzie Holt made the final two on just 8.3% of the primary vote. Labor had 18.7% primary, and Holt edged out Labor by 24.6% to 24.3% with the LNP already over 50%.

Neither One Nation nor the UAP made the final two in any seat, despite a combined 9.1% of the national primary vote. The closest they came was in Maranoa. Labor had a primary vote lead of 15.3% to 11.9% over One Nation, but this dropped to just 20.2% to 20.0% when One Nation was excluded.

Electoral reform proposals

The Guardian reported on July 10 that special minister of state Don Farrell said Labor would attempt to legislate spending caps, truth in political advertising and adherence to the “one vote one value” principle.

The Australian Constitution guarantees each state an equal number of senators, so Tasmania and NSW have 12 senators each, despite NSW having over 15 times Tasmania’s population. There are 12 senators from each state and two each in the ACT and NT, for a total of 76 senators.

The Guardian article reports ACT chief minister Andrew Barr advocated more senators for the NT and ACT. But Bonham said this would make malapportionment worse: while the ACT is underrepresented compared to Tasmania, it is already overrepresented nationally.

Giving the ACT more senators would skew the overall Senate result towards the left. Until David Pocock’s breakthrough win at this election, ACT and NT senators had always split 1-1 between Labor and the Coalition. But the ACT is very left compared to nationally, so extra ACT seats would normally assist the left.

Changing the Constitution requires an overall majority at a referendum, and a majority in a majority of states (so four of the six states). Bonham says there is a further clause in the Constitution that protects each state’s representation; that needs the affected state to vote in favour. Tasmanians are unlikely to vote to reduce their state’s disproportionate seat share in the Senate.

There is also slight malapportionment in the House of Representatives, as each state is guaranteed a minimum five of the 151 seats. Tasmania’s population should only entitle it to 3.3 seats. Bonham said expanding the House to 226 seats (a 50% increase) would fix this issue.

If the house is expanded, the Senate must also be expanded by the same percentage as the house. Bonham said expanding the Senate in this way would justify extra senators being added in the ACT and NT.

At the election, there were over 17.2 million eligible voters, an average of 114,000 per seat. Bonham said Australia’s population has increased by 66% since the last major expansion of parliament in 1984, so a 50% increase in parliament could be justified. However, adding more politicians is likely to be unpopular with voters.

Essential: Albanese’s approval down but still high

In an Essential poll taken in the days prior to July 11, 56% approved of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s performance (down three since June) and 24% disapproved (up six), for a net approval of +32, down nine points. Before the May election, Albanese was at +1 net approval as opposition leader.

68% said they haven’t had COVID, 17% have had it, and it felt like a bad cold, 7% have had it, and it felt way worse than any cold they’ve previously had, and 8% say they currently have COVID (4% mild, 4% serious). A question that was last asked in August 2021 had more COVID deaths thought acceptable to “live with”.

Respondents were asked whether they thought Australia had been better, worse or about the same in handling COVID as other countries. 53% thought Australia had been better than the US and 19% worse. For the UK, this was 50% better, 16% worse. China was 49% better, 22% worse. New Zealand was 24% better, 23% worse.

63% said they did not have a vegetarian or meat-reduced diet (up six since March 2021).

Two months since the election, Newspoll has still not returned. Perhaps they were waiting for the preference flow data that was released last Thursday; this will allow them to use 2022 flows.

With federal parliament resuming this week, Labor has a House majority, but will need the Greens and one of the six other Senate crossbenchers to pass legislation opposed by the Coalition through the Senate. Their most likely crossbench allies are David Pocock and the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Read more: Final Senate results: Labor, the Greens and David Pocock will have a majority of senators

Liz Truss likely to be UK’s next PM

I covered the early rounds of the UK Conservative leadership contest and the final MP rounds for The Poll Bludger. Liz Truss was in third place, but overtook Penny Mordaunt in the July 20 final MP round to qualify for the Conservative membership vote against Rishi Sunak.

The membership vote is conducted by mail, with the result to be announced September 5. A YouGov membership poll gave Truss a 62-38 lead over Sunak. Truss has promised to slash taxes if elected, including corporate taxes and green levies.

This article is republished from The Conversation is the world's leading publisher of research-based news and analysis. A unique collaboration between academics and journalists. It was written by: Adrian Beaumont, The Conversation.

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Adrian Beaumont does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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