tip off

The extreme winners and losers — outliers from an election

We have a Coalition majority and a Senate that is shaping up to be pretty interesting, but what about the unsung place-getters? Crikey intern Angelo Risso crunches the numbers.

The votes have been cast, the sausages sizzled and the will of the Australian people expressed — with an incoming Coalition government the final result. But what about the little guys? Crikey takes a look at some of the quirky tidbits coming out of Saturday’s federal ballot …

The popular one. Labor MP Andrew Leigh was fortunate enough to receive the highest number of primary votes in the entire country. The member for Fraser in the ACT received an impressive 50,602 votes as of Thursday morning, winning the seat by a 12.8% margin against Liberal candidate Elizabeth Lee. Leigh’s apparent popularity was assisted by an unusually high enrolment rate in the electorate of 137,895 — some 40,000 people more than a “typical” constituency. A Labor-dominated electorate since its inception in 1974, Fraser has never been won by the Coalition, but suffered a 1.38% swing against it on Saturday.

The not-so-popular ones. On the other end of the spectrum, Fremantle Citizens Electoral Council candidate Ron Rowlands suffered the ignominious honour of receiving the least primary votes of any candidate for the lower house. Rowlands was nominated only 96 times as of Thursday morning, receiving 10 fewer votes than Melbourne Rise Up Australia candidate Joyce Mei Lin Khoo and Forde Citizens Electoral Council candidate Jan Pukallus, who each received 106 as of Thursday morning. Both considered fringe Right parties, the anti-multiculturalism Rise Up Australia received 40,176 primary votes across 77 federal electorates, whereas conspiracy theorists the Citizens Electoral Council received 8799 votes across 24 electorates.

An honourable mention goes to former speaker and controversy-magnet Peter Slipper, who as of Thursday morning received only 981 votes standing as an independent in Fisher – the lowest primary vote ever received by an incumbent MP.

The Senator Online party, which advocates a public vote for all legislation, ran a candidate in a single seat — the Victorian electorate of McMillan — and won 167 votes, making it the least popular registered party running for a lower house seat.

Informal voting. The electorate of Fowler in Sydney’s south-western suburbs received the highest number of informal votes. The electorate encompasses the suburbs of Liverpool and Cabramatta, and in it 11,575 people incorrectly completed their ballot papers  — almost 15% of the entire constituency. Fowler has Australia’s second-highest proportion of residents born overseas and the highest proportion of residents who speak a foreign language at home  —  which might explain the quantity of informal votes. Some 695,079 people, or 5.96% of the Australian voting public, voted informally across Australia on Saturday.

Love’s Labor’s lost. Just two seats, the Sydney seats of Banks and Reid, fell into Liberal hands for the first time in their history. Banks has been held by the ALP since its inception in 1949, but this time Banks Labor incumbent Daryl Melham was defeated by Liberal Party candidate David Coleman, suffering a 3.38% swing against him to lose on a two-party preferred basis by just under 3000 votes. Melham was infamously caught cleaning out his desk in June in advance of what he thought would be an electoral whitewash under the Gillard leadership.

The Labor stronghold to fall for the first time was the western Sydney seat of Reid. Held uninterrupted by the party (albeit with a brief spell under offshoot Labor party “Lang Labor” in the late 1940s) since 1922, Reid swung away from incumbent MP John Murphy by 3.32% on Saturday, giving Liberal candidate Craig Laundy just enough votes to get over the line.

How the west was won. Everyone was talking western Sydney this election, and just two western Sydney seats recorded swings towards Labor. Greenway Liberal candidate Jaymes Diaz, famous for a bumbling June interview in which he failed to cite the Coalition’s six-point plan to stop the boats, was responsible for Greenway bucking the national trend and swinging 2.85% to the ALP. Fowler in Sydney’s south-west was the only other western Sydney seat to swing towards the Labor Party, with Chris Hayes retaining the seat by a comprehensive 18.1% — an additional swing of 9.36% on 2010 results.

We like sports! Moving on to the upper house, Wayne Dropulich of the Australian Sports Party looks set to take on an improbable Senate seat, despite receiving only 0.22% of the vote in Western Australia. That’s just 1996 primary votes, the fewest of any senator in recent memory. Offering no policy platforms other than to help Australians “live a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle through sport and recreation”, the Australian Sports Party capitalised on a complex series of preference deals to take the fifth WA senate spot. Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party similarly took advantage of preferences to claim a Victorian Senate spot with 12,473 votes, or 0.5% of the primary vote.

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