Women In The 45th Australian Parliament

Women make up one-third of the 45th Parliament of Australia.

There are now 75 women in both houses, representing 33.18% of the combined total of 226 members. It was 30.97% at the end of the 44th Parliament.

There are 43 women (28.66%) in the 150-member House of Representatives, and 32 (42.10%) in the 76-member Senate.

With 43 members in both chambers, the ALP has the largest number of women (45.26%) in the parliament. The Liberal Party and Nationals combined have 21 members (20%).

The Greens (10 members in both houses) and the Nick Xenophon Team (4 members in both houses) each have 50-50 male-female representation.

At the 2016 double dissolution election, 30 women were elected to the Senate. Following the resignation of the ALP’s Stephen Conroy, the Victorian casual vacancy was filled by Kimberley Kitching. Following the resignation of Family First’s Bob Day, the South Australian casual vacancy was filled by Lucy Gichuhi, who sits as an independent. [Read more…]


2016 Senate Votes: A Higher But Fragmented Vote For Minor And Micro Parties

Aside from the Coalition, ALP and Greens, 47 parties contested the Senate at July’s double dissolution election.

Just 8 of the 47 parties polled above 1% nationally. Five of these 8 parties elected senators: Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (4 senators), Nick Xenophon Team (3), Liberal Democrats (1), Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (1) and Family First (1). The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Christian Democrats and the Animal Justice Party did not elect any of their candidates.

There were 39 parties that nominated candidates in at least one state or territory but failed to poll above 0.74%. Fourteen failed to even reach 0.1% nationally and did only marginally better in individual states. Another 25 polled between 0.14%-0.74%.

The Jacqui Lambie Network was the only party in the latter group that managed to elect a senator. Lambie polled just 0.50% nationally, but she only ran candidates in three states and polled a full quota in her own right in Tasmania. With 8.30% of the vote, Lambie won a place in the first group of senators who will receive six-year terms.

The election of Derryn Hinch in Victoria is somewhat comparable to Lambie. His party only polled 1.93% nationally, and less than 1% in all states except Victoria, where Hinch secured election off a primary base of 6.05%.

The combined Coalition-ALP-Greens vote was 73.62%, down 2.85% from the 2013 result. This delivered 65 of the 76 Senate positions (85.5%) to these three groups.

The remaining 26.38% of the vote was split between 47 parties. These parties won the remaining 11 seats (14.4%).

Independent and ungrouped candidates below-the-line received just 0.18% of the vote.

The figures in the table below are consistent with the previous election. In 2013, there were 46 parties that polled less than 1% each.

The overall proportion of the vote flowing to the Coalition, ALP and Greens fell once again at the 2016 election. It fuels the argument that voters are disillusioned with the major parties and looking for alternatives. However, the figures indicate that this is a simplistic analysis.

Voters have failed to coalesce around more than a handful of minor and micro parties. Outside the top 11 groups, the votes for other parties are derisory. The so-called fragmentation of support for the major political groups is more than matched by a fragmented voter rebellion.

Group voting tickets were abolished for this election. Without them, all but a handful of parties were incapable of winning seats. Those elected more closely represent the parties with the highest primary votes. The Family First party in South Australia elected Bob Day from the lowest primary vote of 2.87%. [Read more…]


Government And ALP Agree On Senate Terms; First Elected To Get 6 Years

It was reported today that the government and the ALP have agreed on the allocation of terms for the new Senate.

The reports say the Coalition and the ALP have agreed that the first six elected in each state will get 6-year terms, whilst the last six will get three-year terms. This is the procedure that has been adopted following previous double dissolutions.

The ALP and the Coalition easily have the numbers to impose this decision on the Senate. Its effect is to give six-year terms to a majority of senators from the Coalition (16 of 28), ALP (13 of 24) and Nick Xenophon Team (2 of 3).

Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie will also get six-year terms. Both polled a Senate quota in their own right.

Only three of the Greens’ nine senators will receive six-year terms. Each of them – Richard Di Natale (Vic), Scott Ludlam (WA) and Peter Whish-Wilson (Tas) – represents a state where the Greens won two places. The other six senators, one in each state, will all face the electorate before June 2019. This means it is all but impossible for the Greens to increase their overall numbers at the next election. Instead, they will face the danger of losing incumbents. [Read more…]


Getting Things Done In The New Senate

The Senate has 76 members. Unlike the House of Representatives, where the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie, all members vote on all matters. Therefore, the magic number to get anything done is 39.

A tied vote (38-38) is lost, so the government must have 39. Once it gets to 39 votes, everyone else has only 37.

On appearances, the new Senate is arithmetically more difficult for the Turnbull government than the one it had to deal with in the 44th Parliament. [Read more…]


South Australian Senate Results Finalised; Xenophon Soars As Liberals, ALP And Greens Lose Ground; Bob Day Re-Elected

The Senate results for South Australia were finalised and announced today.

The Liberals, ALP and Greens all lost one seat each, whilst the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) picked up three seats and Family First’s Bob Day was re-elected. It is now clear that whilst results in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have not yet been declared, there will be at least as many crossbench senators in the 45th Parliament as there were in the 44th.

The Nick Xenophon Team was the big winner, polling 21.74% of the primary vote and recasting the electoral landscape in South Australia. Nick Xenophon, who was first elected to the Senate in 2007, will be joined by Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore.

The Liberal Party polled 32.58% of the primary vote and elected 4 senators, with Sean Edwards missing out. Edwards served one term after winning a seat at the 2010 election. He was an outspoken critic of the Abbott government over its attitude to submarine building in South Australia.

The ALP polled 27.32% and elected 3 senators, with Anne McEwen missing out. McEwen was first elected in 2004 and served two full terms. She was well-regarded by progressive elements in the ALP and received tributes today from the Greens. McEwen was displaced by Don Farrell, who was first elected in 2007 but lost his seat in 2013.

The Greens polled 5.87% and returned Sarah Hanson-Young, who was first elected in 2007. Robert Simms missed out, after serving 9 months in the casual vacancy created by Penny Wright’s resignation in 2015.

Family First’s Bob Day, who was first elected in 2013, was returned in the 12th position off a primary vote of 2.87%. One Nation polled 2.98% but missed out. Ironically, Day unsuccessfully challenged the Senate voting reforms in the High Court in May, on the basis that votes would exhaust and micro parties would be unable to win seats. Moreover, Day has cause to be amused by the Liberal Party’s loss of Mayo to NXT, since Day’s defeat in the Liberal Party preselection in Mayo in 2008 led to his joining Family First. [Read more…]


High Court Unanimously Dismisses Challenge To Senate Voting Changes

The High Court has unanimously dismissed a challenge to the recently legislated Senate voting changes.

The seven Justices dismissed two applications, including one by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day.

The changes abolished group voting tickets and introduced optional preferential voting above and below the line.

The court held that the term “method” in Section 9 of the Constitution “is to be considered broadly, allowing for more than one way of indicating choice within a single uniform electoral system”. [Read more…]


High Court To Hear Challenge To Senate Voting Reforms On May 2

The High Court will hear the constitutional challenge to the Senate voting reforms on May 2.

The Chief Justice, Robert French, fixed the hearing date during a directions hearing today.

The challenge has been brought by South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day. His barrister is Peter King, the former Liberal MP who was defeated by Malcolm Turnbull in a 2004 preselection battle in Wentworth.

During the 22-minute hearing, it was agreed that an affidavit by Malcolm Mackerras, the election expert and psephologist, would not be used in the hearing.

The May 2 hearing is the day before the Federal Budget is delivered. It is nine days before the May 11 deadline for the calling of a double dissolution election.

The transcript of today’s hearing appears below. [Read more…]