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Elections – a look at the numbers

By John Hargreaves - 11 July 2016 17

Election Day
I’ve had a look at some numbers from the Australian Electoral Commission since 1996 and it is very revealing to see how our democratic process played out.

Here’s some of the numbers for your consideration.

John Howard won the 1996 election for the Liberal Party in his own right. The Libs got 75 seats and when he kept the Coalition, their combined total came to 94 seats with the ALP getting 49 and there were 5 independents.

The next time a government was formed by a party having an absolute majority in its own right was in 2007 when Kevin Rudd achieved 83 seats for the ALP against 65 seats for the Coalition and 2 independents.

How interesting then that Malcolm Turnbull counselled against the chaos of an ALP/Greens/Xenophon combination when he indeed leads a Liberals/Nationals/Liberal National Party Coalition (indeed it included the Country Liberal Party in the NT until this election).

It is often missed that the Liberals are only the senior party in a coalition. Interestingly, the second biggest party in this partnership is the LNP from Qld. In the 2013 to 2016 period, the Libs had 58 seats (to the ALP’s 55), the LNP had 22, the Nats had 9 and the CLP had 1. Between them they racked up 90 seats to defeat Labor. But it still took the partnership to get over the magic number of 75 seats to take government. It is often missed that this partnership has been the way the Libs have ruled since Ming’s days.

And the way it looks this time round, the Libs & Co may get to 76 seats but it may be only 74 seats in which case they would need an agreement with at least two independents to guarantee supply and confidence. It would be a mirror of the deal done by Julia Gillard for the 2010-2013 period. So the righteousness of Mr Turnbull’s scare campaign about deals doesn’t ring true.

For the sake of history, these are the figures for each election since 1996.
1996 Libs 75, Nats 18 and CLP 1. ALP 49.
1998 Libs 64, Nats 16, CLP 0 ALP 67.
2001 Libs 68, Nats 13, CLP 1. ALP 65
2004 Libs 74, Nats 12, CLP 1 ALP 60
2007 Libs 55, Nats 10, CLP 0 ALP 83
2010 Libs 44, Nats 7, CLP 1, LNP (Qld) 21 ALP 72
2013 Libs 58, Nats 9, CLP 1, LNP 22 ALP 55
2016 (Likely) Libs 44, Nats 10, CLP 0, LNP 20 ALP 71

I heard that Xenophon was saying that the party who got the highest number of seats (or votes, it matters not which) would get his support. What disingenuity! The Coalition is not a party but a formal partnership between parties. He was just saying he would go with the largest voting bloc.

Some other interesting numbers are the numbers around the exercise of the balance of power. It is interesting that in many cases, a low percentage of primary votes delivered seats in the Two Party Preferred system and indeed in the 2013-2016 period the primary votes achieved by the crossbench were minute but still delivered seats.

For example, Katter got 0.7% of the primary votes, Bandt 0.7%, Palmer 0.7% and the other two independents 1.3%. This gives the 5 independents 3.4% of the total primary votes cast but their shadows in the halls of power spread large. The same is likely to occur this time. Indeed, in 2010 the combination of the 4 independents and the one Green was 3.4% and yet they held the Gillard government to ransom.

In fact, when you look at the disproportionate power wielded by the Nationals with their low number of seats in each election since 1996, the picture of disproportion is much clearer.

They were part of a government in 5 of the 7 periods (excluding the 2016 election) and they achieved only 18, 16, 13, 12 and 9 seats for those periods. How the tail wags the dog? Indeed, with the emergence of the LNP in Qld, this group has achieved 21 and 22 seats in each of the past two elections, eclipsing the Nationals.

At least the Libs and Nats formally joined as one party – the LNP – in Qld. It is one party. Shame that the Nats and Libs nationally don’t do the same and drop the pretence of maintaining their sovereignty and independence but diving under the doona for the spoils of office.

A trawling through the election results of past elections does help in gazing at the tea leaves. Once again, I see that the ALP will get the greatest number of primary votes (the preference of the majority of people), will get the largest number of seats of any individual party but will be denied the opportunity to govern.

But hey, that’s democracy.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Elections – a look at the numbers
pajs 4:17 pm 12 Jul 16

dungfungus said :

TimboinOz said :

Southerly_views said :

There is simply no way that Medicare can be “privatised” – its not a Government Business Enterprise that makes money.

If you believe something that doesn’t make money can’t be privatised, I have a Commonwealth Employment Service I can sell you.

Sorry – can not see any similarity so what ever. Its not a discussion worth having anyway as rusted on Laborites/lefties/bleeding hearts will always believe the negative, scare spin.

It’s not a complicated argument. The Libs had no plan to privatise all of Medicare, but the did have an active taskforce in Health looking at shifting part of medicare’s payments system from the public sector to being delivered by the private sector. I’d suggest the very definition of ‘privatisation’ is taking something from the public sector and giving it over to the private sector. Which is what was the point of the taskforce process. Doesn’t make it a bad thing, but it was privatisation of a part of Medicare.

Yes, the overall ‘Mediscare’ campaign was misleading, as there was no plan to privatise all of Medicare. But there was work happening to privatise some of it, and this came on top of the trust issues caused by past cuts to health when such cuts had been ruled out by our previous PM. So enough truth to the scare to make it register for people, and a woeful effort by Ley, Turnbull and co to counteract it.

Finally, your suggestion that only government functions that make money can be privatised is demonstrably wrong. The history of privatisation in Australia is rife with examples of where government activities that did not make a profit for government have been given over to the private sector, which is then funded by government in many cases to deliver these services (more or less efficiently). The employment services arrangements post to CES being just one of many examples.

rommeldog56 3:35 pm 12 Jul 16

TimboinOz said :

Southerly_views said :

There is simply no way that Medicare can be “privatised” – its not a Government Business Enterprise that makes money.

If you believe something that doesn’t make money can’t be privatised, I have a Commonwealth Employment Service I can sell you.

Sorry – can not see any similarity so what ever. Its not a discussion worth having anyway as rusted on Laborites/lefties/bleeding hearts will always believe the negative, scare spin.

pajs 2:42 pm 12 Jul 16

Southerly_views said :

There is simply no way that Medicare can be “privatised” – its not a Government Business Enterprise that makes money.

If you believe something that doesn’t make money can’t be privatised, I have a Commonwealth Employment Service I can sell you.

rommeldog56 12:02 am 12 Jul 16

Masquara said :

The ALP and Greens Agreement in the ACT is a public document as is the MOU with the unions.

Have tried a few times to find that MOU between the ACT Labor/Greens Gov’t and Unions ACT (or should it be between ACT Labor and Unions ACT, as the Greens Minister Rattenburry knew nothing about it !), without success.

If it is “public”, can u provide a link to it please ?????

rommeldog56 11:57 pm 11 Jul 16

Maya123 said :

You think the Labor campaign about the privatisation of health care in Australia is a lie? Good luck to you.

Of course it is/was a lie. There is simply no way that Medicare can be “privatised” – its not a Government Business Enterprise that makes money. However, if the ALP had of said something like “the Lib’s are white anting Medicare” then that’s a different proposition that can be backed up with evidence like the Lib’s 6 year freeze on the Govt’s contribution, etc. But they didn’t do that in favor of using the “privatising” word. They would have got more traction with the white anting angle I think.

In any event, the ALP too can be accused of white anting Medicare. Their election spending promises were greater than the Libs (despite the fact that some of the offsetting savings were apparently the Libs savings measures that the ALP did not support !) + they admitted to another b$16 under estimate of the cost of their election promises over the next 4 years ! That $ has to be met from something like cuts to existing programs such as Medicare or increased taxes. Same with Lib’s election spending promises.

And the ALPs massively expensive National Disability Insurance Scheme, whilst however badly needed and well intended it is, is largely unfunded.

The ballooning costs of Medicare + the full funding of the NDIS is a scary figure in terms of the current budget deficit and the structural issues facing the economy/budget.

Both parties must look at and meet the cost of Medicare and the NDIS.

If u don’t think that both parties will need to fix the Medicare funding/costs problem, then good luck to you too.

Masquara 8:59 pm 11 Jul 16

I know this thread is all about the numbers – but I’m going to hijack it to celebrate Linda Burney and Anne Aly winning seats. Whichever side of politics you’re on, you’d have to agree that having them in the House is going to be a Good Thing.

Masquara 7:43 pm 11 Jul 16

Masquara said :

If the LNP outside Qld is one entity, why won’t Joyce reveal the details of the agreement between the Libs and Nats. The ALP and Greens Agreement in the ACT is a public document as is the MOU with the unions.

They didn’t voluntarily publicise the MOU. It was winkled out of them ….

Pandy 7:08 pm 11 Jul 16

I for one welcome our new block overlords

chewy14 5:51 pm 11 Jul 16

John,
I’m interested in your thoughts on the ALP’s performance in the election seeing as they received their second lowest primary vote ever.

What has caused them to perform so badly in the last two elections?

HiddenDragon 5:41 pm 11 Jul 16

Numbers, schnumbers. Let’s just rejoice at the prospect of Zed being Assistant Minister for something – Territories perhaps – now that would be fun…..

John Hargreaves 3:11 pm 11 Jul 16

If the LNP outside Qld is one entity, why won’t Joyce reveal the details of the agreement between the Libs and Nats. The ALP and Greens Agreement in the ACT is a public document as is the MOU with the unions.

Masquara 2:12 pm 11 Jul 16

How are you arguing that the Coalition is somehow undemocratic, when Labor teamed up with Oakeshott and Windsor to form government?

MERC600 2:01 pm 11 Jul 16

“How the tail wags the dog?”… Don’t need to look much further than how our assembly works John.

Grail 12:12 pm 11 Jul 16

You think the Nationals and Liberals represent the voters, and it is not corporate interests such as Gina Rinehart calling the shots?

You think the Labor campaign about the privatisation of health care in Australia is a lie?

Good luck to you.

Mysteryman 9:40 am 11 Jul 16

Voters en mass vote for the LNP as a single entity because they function as a single entity when in parliament. They’ve worked together since the 1920s, and even the least informed voter understands that. It’s amusing that the only spin you can put on this election to make the ALP seem like victors is to count numbers by splitting up the LNP’s primary votes. I guess the sting of losing the election despite running the longest scare campaign built on the largest lie, still stings for the Labor-lovers.

Your claims of having the Nationals call the shots and “wag the dog” are spurious, but hey, at least the nationals were elected by voters to make decisions, unlike the unions who call the shots for the ALP.

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