Three weeks later, the federal election of 2004 is finally over. Most
people have moved on to other things, but the final Senate results are
still worth a look.

big news is the government winning control of the Senate:
unprecedented, but not all that surprising. It was always a possibility
once Brian Harradine retired, since that meant that the 3 “right”
senators from each state would all be Coalition, as they were in 2001.

get a majority, the government therefore just had to do especially well
in one state to split it 4-2, and in their best state, Queensland,
that’s what happened. The various right parties had four quotas between
them, and the Hanson/One Nation component was low enough for them to be
eliminated and their preferences to ultimately elect the National Party.

icing on the cake, the right also won 4-2 in Victoria when the
Assemblies of God party, Family First, won the sixth spot. But that was
entirely due to preferences from the left (Labor and the Democrats);
the right had less than 50% of the vote on primaries, and Labor and the
Greens had a comfortable three quotas between them.

was not even the best state for Family First; they had twice as many
votes in South Australia, but a less favourable position on
preferences. Of the four minor party candidates elected, Family First
had easily the lowest primary vote. The four were:

  • Christine Milne, Greens (Tasmania) 12.9%
  • Rachel Siewert, Greens (Western Australia) 7.8%
  • Barnaby Joyce, National Party (Queensland) 6.6%
  • Steve Fielding, Family First (Victoria) 1.9%

Party senators were also elected in NSW and Victoria, but they were on
Coalition tickets; Joyce is the only one who was elected in his own
right. It remains to be seen whether the fact that they depend on the
Liberal Party for their seats will effect the voting behavior of the
other two.)

The six minor party or independent senators seeking re-election all lost their seats, with the following primary votes:

  • Len Harris (One Nation, Queensland) 3.1%
  • John Cherry (Democrat, Queensland) 2.2%
  • Aden Ridgeway (Democrat, New South Wales) 2.2%
  • Shayne Murphy (Independent ex-Labor, Tasmania) 2.2%
  • Brian Grieg (Democrat, Western Australia) 2.0%
  • Meg Lees (Progressive Alliance, ex-Democrat, South Australia) 1.1%

would have to dig in the archives to confirm it, but Lees’s total could
well be the lowest vote ever recorded by a sitting senator heading a
ticket, just as her party’s 0.05% in Queensland must be a contender for
the lowest vote ever recorded by a serious party.

The highest vote for an unsuccessful candidate was 16.2% for the Greens’ Kerry Tucker in the ACT.

out the territories, it was the Greens again – David Risstrom in
Victoria on 8.7%. The Democrats, even in their terminal condition,
still did best in South Australia: 2.3%, despite not having a sitting

of six-year terms, the Coalition will retain its majority until 2011,
unless it does exceptionally badly at the next election, since it only
needs to hold three seats in each state. For political junkies, this
provides the best reason yet to vote Labor next time around: to see the
dynamic of a government with an opposition-controlled Senate, a treat
we have been denied since the Whitlam years.