They think it’s all over? Well it isn’t … yet. The Australian Electoral Commission still has nine electorates on its Close Seats list.
Queensland has the most – four. The Nats are trailing in the new, notionally National seat of Flynn, on 49.58% of the two candidate preferred vote this morning. The Liberals are behind in Andrew Laming’s seat of Bowman, with 49.96% of the TCP vote and in Peter Lindsay’s Herbert on 49.98%. In Dickson, former minister Peter Dutton is on 50.12%.
Stewart McArthur is behind in the Victorian seat of Corangamite, on 49.53% of the TCP. Former minister Fran Bailey is just ahead in McEwen, on 5.23%, while Jason Wood is polling 50.43 in La Trobe.
Kim Wilkie, the only Labor MP who looks like losing their seat, is on 49.73% in the Western Australian electorate of Swan. Country Liberal MP Dave Tollner is also behind in the Darwin based seat of Solomon on 49.73 of the two candidate preferred vote.
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Federal seats can get very close indeed. In 1974, future Fraser government minister Ian Viner held his seat of Stirling, in Western Australia, by just 12 votes. Liberal Christine Gallus won Hawker, in South Australia, by 14 votes at the 1990 poll.
These results are the products of recount after recount. The AEC says that some 84% of the vote is counted on election night. Then the declaration votes roll in – the absentee, pre-poll, provisional and postal votes. These cannot be counted until after the election day, and postal votes can be received for up to 13 days after then, as long as they were posted on or before the big day.
The votes go into the AEC divisional offices, who undertake a fresh scrutiny of all the ballot papers. Another distribution of preferences then takes place, even where a candidate already has a majority of first preference votes.
Every vote counts in these circumstances. The parties bring in high powered scrutineers to claim every vote they can and contest the validity of every maybe that favours their opponent. The counts drag on. And on. Let me tell you. I’m a veteran of the Hawker count.
Finally, sometimes more than a month after the poll, the official declaration of the vote occurs.
For those of you who can’t wait, Antony Green is tipping the final makeup of the House as 85 Labor, 63 Coalition and two independent.
And election junkies will probably get lucky. It’s fair bet we’ll see by-election in the safe seats of Higgins and Mayo before too long and maybe in Lyne as well as Peter Costello, Alexander Downer and Mark Vaile move to spend more time with their families. Or earning potentials. Keep an eye on Philip Ruddock, too.