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Making sense of the polls

Major parties to allocate long and short Senate terms using order-of-election method

Last Sunday, I discussed the implications for long and short terms using both the order-of-election method, and the recount method. The major parties have now agreed to use the order-of-election method, so it will be adopted by the Senate.

Under the order-of-election method, NSW will have 3 Coalition and 3 Labor long terms, with the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon missing a long term. Victoria will have 3 Coalition, 2 Labor and 1 Green long terms, with Derryn Hinch missing out. Had the recount method been used, Rhiannon and Hinch would get long terms, at the expense respectively of Labor in NSW and the Coalition in Victoria.

Here is the table of long terms using the order-of-election method. These terms expire 30 June 2022.

order of election.

So the Coalition will have 16 of the 36 long terms, Labor 13, the Greens 3, the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) 2, and Hanson and Lambie one each.

Here is the short terms table, including the territories. Territory terms are bound to the term of the House, while short terms for state Senators expire 30 June 2019.

short terms.

The Coalition will only be defending 14 of the 40 short terms, while Labor defends 13, the Greens 6, One Nation 3, and the NXT, Leyonhjelm, Day and Hinch one each. Day, Leyonhjelm and the One Nation Senators in NSW and WA will be the most vulnerable as they will not benefit from lower quotas at double dissolutions.

The Coalition has benefited most from this deal. Labor’s best plausible scenario for the Senate is a combined Labor and Greens Senate majority. An extra long term for Labor at the Greens’ expense does not change the overall numbers for the Labor/Greens bloc.

The Coalition will win an additional long term at the expense of Hinch, who has some left wing views. Looking at the table of short terms, the Coalition will only be defending two seats in each state, and is very likely to gain seats, particularly in NSW and WA. The Greens will struggle to retain all six of their short term Senators.

Next election timing

If the next election is a normal House and half-Senate election, it must be called within 12 months of the 1 July 2019 date for Senators elected at that election to take their seats. To allow time for the votes to be counted and processed, the next election should be held by mid-May 2019. With a five-week formal election campaign, the next election will probably be held between August 2018 and May 2019.

A complicating factor is that the Victorian state election is scheduled for late November 2018, and the NSW state election for late March 2019. A Federal election campaign that clashes with a state election campaign may not be well received.

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