A Cautionary Tale: Senate Votes In The 2013 Federal Election

Aside from the Coalition, ALP and Greens, just five parties were able to poll above 1% nationally in the last Senate election.

The Palmer United Party, Liberal Democrats, Nick Xenophon Group, Sex Party and Family First each managed to reach 1% nationally in the 2013 federal election. They polled higher numbers in particular states and managed to win seats. Only the Sex Party failed to elect a senator.

A further 46 groups polled less than 1% each. Nineteen of these failed to make it to 0.5%. Twenty-five groups failed to poll more than 0.66% and will not contest this year’s election. Only Ricky Muir from this group of 46 managed to win election to the Senate and that was due to group voting ticket preference deals which have now been abolished.

It’s a cautionary tale worth keeping in mind when numerous micro parties are named as being in the running to win seats in this year’s election.

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The table below shows all the parties and groups that contested the 2013 federal election. It shows the actual number of votes each group received nationally, as well as the national, state and territory percentages.

The results of the 2014 Senate election in Western Australia are also shown. The 2013 result (invalidated by the High Court) appears on top, the re-run result below.

Parties are listed in order of their national vote percentage. Coalition parties have been grouped. The table indicates those parties and groups that are contesting the 2016 election.

2013 Senate Election – Votes for Parties/Groups by States/Territories
Party/Group Total Votes National NSW Vic Qld WA SA Tas ACT NT Running in 2016
UNENDORSED/UNGROUPED 15,911
0.12
0.12
0.09
0.16
0.03
0.63
0.22
0.10
0.21
Yes
COALITION 5,057,218
37.71
Liberal Party 1,006,710
7.51
39.20
34.06
27.45
37.51
33.08
Yes
Liberal/National (Joint Ticket) 2,853,905
21.28
34.20
40.13
Yes
Liberal National Party (LNP-Qld) 1,084,299
8.08
41.39
Yes
Country Liberals (NT) 42,781
0.32
41.34
Yes
The Nationals 69,523
0.52
5.07
3.04
Yes
Australian Labor Party 4,038,591
30.11
31.56
32.45
28.52
26.59
21.53
22.66
32.83
34.44
32.75
Yes
Australian Greens 1,159,588
8.65
7.79
10.84
6.04
9.49
15.60
7.09
11.66
19.27
8.67
Yes
Palmer United Party 658,976
4.91
3.39
3.66
9.89
5.01
12.34
2.65
6.58
2.11
7.14
Yes
Liberal Democrats 523,831
3.91
9.50
0.01
0.69
3.43
1.82
3.53
2.32
Yes
Nick Xenophon Group 258,376
1.93
24.88
Yes
Australian Sex Party 188,731
1.37
1.02
1.89
1.12
1.49
0.95
1.00
1.45
3.49
2.13
Yes
Family First 149,306
1.11
0.38
1.53
1.09
0.67
0.74
3.76
1.31
Yes
Shooters and Fishers (now Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) 127,397
0.95
1.25
0.83
0.70
1.04
1.03
0.59
1.10
2.72
Yes
Katter’s Australian Party 119,920
0.89
0.44
0.46
2.94
0.30
0.09
0.16
0.41
0.57
Yes
Democratic Labour Party (DLP) 112,549
0.84
1.54
0.71
0.32

0.21
0.98
0.77
Yes
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) 95.430
0.71
0.69
0.59
0.90
1.07
1.06
0.58
0.51
Yes
Animal Justice Party 93,280
0.70
0.48
0.75
1.07
0.74
0.65
0.62
1.21
Yes
The Wikileaks Party 88,092
0.66
0.83
1.24
0.75
0.63
No
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group 72,544
0.54
1.66
Yes
One Nation 70,851
0.53
1.22
0.01
0.55
0.29
Yes
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party 67,560
0.50
0.39
0.51
0.72
0.59
0.55
0.66
Yes
Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party 59,907
0.45
0.47
0.48
0.51
0.44
0.36
0.32
0.22
No
Australian Christians 54,154
0.40
0.49
0.42
1.64
1.54
0.34
0.48
Yes
Rise Up Australia Party 49,341
0.37
0.10
0.92
0.21
0.29
0.17
0.12
0.30
0.56
0.94
Yes
Australian Independents 45,441
0.34
0.22
0.34
0.48
0.31
0.20
0.74
0.65
1.49
No
Pirate Party 42,102
0.31
0.33
0.37
0.50

0.49
0.58
Yes
Australian Democrats 33,907
0.25
0.22
0.32
0.25
0.29
0.27
0.30
No
Smokers Rights 25,123
0.19
0.19
0.00
0.20
0.67
0.28
0.18
0.24
No
Voluntary Euthanasia Party 21,854
0.16
0.34

0.67
0.31
1.61
Yes
Bullet Train For Australia 19,377
0.14
0.21
0.15
2.05
No
Stop The Greens 19,013
0.14
0.18
0.01
0.27
0.17
0.01
0.42
No
No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics 17,959
0.13
0.18
0.15
0.08
0.11
0.11
0.06
No
Secular Party of Australia 12,704
0.09
0.07
0.13
0.10
0.11
0.07
0.12
Yes
Stable Population Party (now #Sustainable Australia) 12,671
0.09
0.07
0.12
0.06
0.10
0.24
0.07
0.11
0.38
0.44
Yes
Drug Law Reform 10,189
0.08
0.09
0.12
0.11
0.37
Yes
Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated 10,157
0.08
0.08
0.25
Yes
Australian Voice Party 10,057
0.07
0.06
0.07
0.15
0.09
0.08
No
Socialist Equality Party 9,774
0.07
0.04
0.07
0.06
0.09
0.28
Yes
Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) 9,625
0.07
0.06
0.18
0.04
0.03
No
Stop CSG 7,990
0.06
0.10
0.04
0.09
No
Building Australia Party 7,890
0.06
0.05
0.09
0.07

0.08
0.08
No
Country Alliance (now Australian Country Party 6,440
0.05
0.15
0.03
0.28
Yes
Carers Alliance 5,498
0.04
0.13
No
Uniting Australia Party 5,423
0.04
0.05
0.10
0.63
No
Future Party (now Science Party) 4,243
0.03
0.10
No
Australian Protectionist Party 3,379
0.03
0.06
0.04
No
National Party 3,102
0.30
No
Australian Sports Party 2,997
0.02
0.23
0.33
No
The Australian Republicans 2,997
0.02
0.04
0.00
0.04
0.01
No
Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens) 2,753

0.22
No
Socialist Alliance 2,728
0.02
0.06

0.06
Yes
Bank Reform Party 1,828
0.01
0.05
No
Citizens Electoral Council 1,708
0.01
0.04
0.30
Yes
A.F.N.P.P. 1,495
0.01
1.44
No
Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) 1,357
0.01
0.03
Yes
Mutual Party 842

0.07
No
Freedom and Prosperity Party 837

0.07
TA
No
Republican Party of Australia 743

0.06
No

 

What happened in 2013?

The Coalition polled 37.71%, the ALP 30.11% and The Greens 8.65%. These parties won 33 of the 40 available Senate positions.

Only 4 other parties polled above 1% nationally:

  • Palmer United Party won 3 seats with 4.91% nationally – 9.89% in Queensland, 6.58% in Tasmania and 12.34% in WA secured three senators
  • Liberal Democrats won 3.91% nationally – won a seat with 9.50% in NSW
  • Nick Xenophon Group secured 1.93% nationally, but this was actually 24.88% in South Australia and resulted in the election of one senator
  • Sex Party polled 1.37% nationally but did not win a seat
  • Family First secured 1.11% nationally – won a South Australian seat with 3.76%

A further 46 groups polled less than 1% each. 19 of those failed to make it to 0.5%. 25 groups failed to poll more than 0.66% and will not contest this year’s election.

Ricky Muir of the Motoring Enthusiast Party was elected to the Senate with 0.51% of the primary vote in Victoria. His election was entirely due to preference deals via group voting tickets. Unless he can dramatically increase his primary vote, he has no hope of being re-elected.

What is likely to happen on July 2, 2016?

In the 2016 double dissolution election, the quota for election to the Senate is 7.7%. In the absence of group voting tickets that previously enabled micro parties to elect senators via preference deals, it is estimated that a party will have to get at least 3% of the primary vote to have a chance of winning a seat.

Any group that can make it to 3% will also require a strong flow of preferences to make it to a quota. The abolition of group voting tickets and the introduction of optional preferential voting above and below the line makes it near impossible to predict the preference flow or the number of exhausted votes. The inability of micro parties to staff polling booths and hand out how-to-vote cards also inhibits their ability to reach a quota.

Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch, Glenn Lazarus, Pauline Hanson and others have been mentioned as possibilities for election to the Senate on July 2. Nick Xenophon is expected to bring two other members of his party with him into the Senate.

Most predictions assume a much higher vote than past experience suggests is likely. As Antony Green said in this very useful piece: “The new electoral system is likely to give the final seats to the parties with the highest partial quotas at the start of the count.”

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