So it’s down to three. Probably. The seats of Brisbane, Corangamite and Hasluck remain in doubt, with counting likely to continue for another week.
The Tasmanian seat of Denison was taken off the endangered list by ABC election oracle Antony Green last night. Green-tinged independent Andrew Wilkie will snatch the seat from Labor, despite finishing third behind Jonathan Jackson and Liberal candidate Cameron Simpkins. Green explained on his blog:
“The formal flow of preferences will not be conducted until next week, but at this stage preliminary scrutiny has made clear that Wilkie will pass Simpkins. The Electoral Commission has now conducted an indicative throw of preferences between Labor and Wilkie that at this stage indicates that Andrew Wilkie will win Denison from the Labor Party.”
With the Adelaide seat of Boothby (Liberal win to Andrew Southcott) and outer-Melbourne electorate of Dunkley (Liberal win to Bruce Billson) shifted out of the ‘in doubt’ column yesterday, the latest tally has the Coalition and Labor deadlocked on 71 seats each.
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Former Labor front-bencher Arch Bevis is standing firm in his seat of Brisbane, despite being 657 votes behind Liberal-National candidate Teresa Gambaro on the latest update yesterday afternoon. There’s some 16,000 votes still to count, and Bevis believes it could come down to 1,200 provisional votes (that is, “a vote cast on election day by a voter who believes they should be on the roll but whose name could not be found on the roll in the polling place,” the AEC explains).
Bevis, who has held the seat for two decades, is calling on provisional voters to provide proof of identification to the AEC so their vote can be counted. In a statement yesterday, the AEC said voters had until Friday to have their votes counted.
“I wouldn’t say I’m confident because I’d rather be 600 votes ahead than 600 votes behind,” Bevis told the ABC this morning. “But the way in which the postal vote campaign and other things went, it’s certainly some cause for optimism — we’ll just have to wait and see.”
In Corangamite the momentum seems to be with Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson. Last night she had clawed back half of the deficit to Labor MP Darren Cheeseman to be just 637 votes behind on the latest AEC update.
Henderson isn’t giving up, with postal votes expected to favour her cause. She told the Weekly Times yesterday: “Clearly the Labor Party is ahead, but depending on the outcome of absentee and postal votes that may change.”
The final tally will inevitably hinge on the Western Australian seat of Hasluck. Just 560 votes separated Liberal Ken Wyatt and Labor incumbent Sharryn Jackson in an AEC update last night. The AEC says about 20% of the vote remains uncounted — some 15,000 postal, pre-poll and absentee ballots — in a process likely to stretch into early next week.
AAP reports postal votes traditionally favour the incumbent, but were for the moment slightly favouring Wyatt — who hopes to become the first indigenous member of the House of Representatives.
If Labor was to hold on in Brisbane and Corangamite, and the Liberals maintain their Hasluck lead, the final tally would see Labor on 73 seats and the Coalition on 72. But the Coalition tally includes WA National Tony Crook in the seat of O’Connor, who has vowed to sit on the cross-benches and may throw a spanner in the works.
New Greens MP Adam Bandt has already nailed his colours to Labor’s mast, while Wilkie is expected to support a Julia Gillard government (though he maintains he’s not siding with anyone at this stage), meaning Labor would need to sway at least one of the conservative-leading independents to form a 76-seat voting majority.
Or, as Windsor reminded the media today, “there is a third option, and that’s another poll”.