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No, William McWilliams Wasn’t The Last Country Party Member From Tasmania

The man shown here is Llewellyn Atkinson. He was the Country Party member for Wilmot (Tas) from 1921 until 1928.

He’s been dead since 1945 and now not even Nationals leader Michael McCormack knows that he was the last Country Party member from Tasmania.

Atkinson
Llewellyn Atkinson; Photo credit: Psephos

Yesterday, Tasmanian Senator Steve Martin joined The Nationals. Elected in a recount of Jacqui Lambie Network votes a few months back, Martin briefly sat as an independent before signing up to the former Country Party.

Martin was welcomed into the party room yesterday as the first-ever Country Party/Nationals senator from Tasmania.

According to an ABC report, McCormack told the media: “The last National Party member in parliament (from Tasmania) was William McWilliams, a former Country Party leader all the way back in 1927.”

Umm, no. McWilliams left the Country Party in 1922 and only returned to Parliament in 1928 as an independent.

The misinformation was dutifully repeated by Guardian Australia and The Australian.

The Land also repeated the fake history and then made it worse by suggesting that McWilliams had been the Country Party’s “inaugural leader in 1903”, at least fifteen years before the party was formed.

In a variation on the theme, The Conversation told us there had been no Country Party representation in Tasmania “since the early 1920s, when William McWilliams was briefly leader of the Country Party”.

Again, no. There were two lower house Country Party members – in Braddon and Wilmot – between 1921 and 1928. [Read more…]


Sen. Steve Martin (Ind-Tas) – Maiden Speech

Senator Steve Martin has delivered his maiden speech to the Senate.

Martin replaced Jacqui Lambie, following her resignation due to dual citizenship. After Lambie was subsequently ruled ineligible to have nominated by the High Court, a special recount saw Martin declared elected on February 9, 2018. By this time, Martin had refused to give up the seat for Lambie, who disendorsed him. Martin has chosen to sit as an independent.

Martin, 57, is a former newsagent and restaurateur. He was elected to the Devonport City Council in 2009. He became Mayor in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. The High Court ruled that his position on the council did not constitute an office of profit under the Crown and he was therefore eligible under Section 44 of the Constitution.

  • Listen to Martin’s speech (31m)
  • Watch Martin’s speech (34m)

Hansard transcript of maiden speech by Senator Steve Martin.

Senator MARTIN (Tasmania) (17:01): Thank you, Mr President. Senators, ladies and gentlemen, I acknowledge the Ngunawal people, the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present. [Read more…]


Final Two-Party Figures: Coalition Won 2016 Election With 50.36%; Swing To Labor Of 3.13%

Final figures published by the Australian Electoral Commission show that the Coalition won the 2016 federal election with 50.36% of the two-party-preferred vote.

The Liberal-Nationals coalition polled 50.36% of the national two-party-preferred vote. The ALP received 49.64%. There was a 3.13% swing to the ALP nationally, a near reversal of the 3.61% swing to the Coalition in the 2013 election.

Every state and territory recorded a swing against the Coalition. The largest swing was 7.41% in the Northern Territory. The smallest was 1.22% in the Australian Capital Territory. [Read more…]


So When Will The Next Election Be Held?

The Parliamentary Library has published a research paper setting out Federal, State and Local election dates over the next few years.

According to the paper, the earliest possible date for a joint House of Representatives and half-Senate election is August 4, 2018. The last possible date for such an election is May 18, 2019. Assuming no unforeseen events, the next federal election is almost certain to fall between these dates.

The last possible date for a double dissolution is May 4, 2019. A double dissolution of the parliament cannot be called later than February 27, 2019.

The paper shows that there will only be two state or territory elections over the next eighteen months: in the ACT on October 15, 2016 and in Western Australia on March 11, 2017. [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…]


The New Senate: The Defeated, The Retired, The New And The Returning

There will be 14 new faces in the new Senate when it meets for the first time on August 30.

This represents 18.42% of the Senate’s 76 members. Each state has 12 senators, whilst the territories have 2 each, who serve terms concurrent with the House of Representatives. The double dissolution meant that all 76 positions were up for election on July 2.

The fourteen new senators include two (Louise Pratt and Don Farrell) who were Labor senators defeated in 2013.

Ten of the fourteen departed senators were defeated in the election, whilst four retired. [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…]