1998 Primary Vote Winners, Preference Vote Losers

There were seven seats in the 1998 Federal election where the primary vote leader was defeated after the full distribution of preferences.

Primary Leads Overturned After Preference Distribution
House of Representatives – 1998
No. State Division Incumbent Leader Primary % Successful Candidate Primary % Two-Party %
1.
NSW Parkes Michael Cobb (NP) Barry Brebner (ALP)
35.59
Tony Lawler (NP)
28.38
54.11
2.
VIC McMillan Russell Broadbent (LP) Russell Broadbent (LP)
38.91
Christian Zahra (ALP)
36.91
50.57
3.
QLD Blair new seat Pauline Hanson (ONP)
35.97
Cameron Thompson (LP)
21.69
53.40
4.
QLD Hinkler Paul Neville (NP) Cheryl Dorron (ALP)
40.11
Paul Neville (NP)
36.58
50.34
5.
WA Stirling Eoin Cameron (LP) Eoin Cameron (LP)
41.71
Jann McFarlane (ALP)
40.38
51.04
6.
SA Kingston Susan Jeanes (LP) Susan Jeanes (LP)
39.45
David Cox (ALP)
38.51
50.47
7.
TAS Bass Warwick Smith (LP) Warwick Smith (LP)
45.75
Michelle O’Byrne (ALP)
42.30
50.06

These statistics show the full force of the preferential voting system. Both Tony Lawler and Cameron Thompson were able to win their seats, despite polling only 28% and 21% of the primary vote.

Lawler’s win resulted from securing Liberal Party preferences and a good share of One Nation and independent votes. Thompson won because all other major parties, including the ALP, put One Nation last on their preference allocation.

Overall, there were 99 electorates (66.9%) of the 148 in the House of Representatives where preference distribution was required to obtain a winner in 1998.

These 7 electorates where the primary vote lead was overturned after preferences indicates that a primary vote lead is the best position to be in to be sure of success.

It is apparent that whilst a party or parties can win seats and elections on preferences, there is no substitute for being ahead in the primary vote.

Some people argue that these statistics demonstrate that we may as well introduce first-past-the-post voting, since most candidates who lead on the primary vote ultimately triumph. This argument fails to take account of the possibility that electors may cast different votes if they knew that their preferences did not matter.


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