Saturday, October 31, 2015

Infodump-Australian Capital Territory election, 1989

For some of my readers, this post is not going to be especially interesting. This post is mostly to put some data out there that may be useful to those seeking a record of Australian electoral history, and that is in too awkward a format to add to Wikipedia.

The Australian Capital Territory, after its formation, was directly governed by the federal government. Gough Whitlam's government established an elected assembly for the ACT, like with the Northern Territory. However, unlike the Northern Territory, the ACT was not given self-government; the assembly retained mainly an advisory role.

In 1978, a referendum took place on the governing status of the ACT. Voters were offered three options. They could vote for the ACT to have self-government, with the same power the Northern Territory has. This would effectively remove the role for the Federal Government in the government of the ACT. They could vote for power to be shared between an elected local government body and the federal government. Or, they could vote for the status quo.

The result was a landslide for the status quo. Territorians did not like the idea of more politicians, and did not want to have the same funding arrangements as the states. The government respected the result, and the current arrangements were kept in place. The elected advisory Assembly was continued, but voter interest was low.

In 1988, however, the federal Labor government decided to introduce self-government unilaterally. Four pieces of legislation were passed by the Federal Parliament to introduce self-government. The government would be a minimalist one; there would be no representative of the Crown to give assent to legislation, dissolve the legislature or appoint a cabinet. Assent to legislation would be automatically given by passage through the legislature, legislatures would have fixed terms, and the Chief Minister would be elected by secret ballot in the legislature and would then appoint a cabinet.

One of the most controversial parts of the legislation was the electoral system for the legislature. The Labor Party wanted the same electoral system as used for the federal House of Representatives; preferential voting with single member districts. However, Labor did not have a majority in the Senate at the time, and needed Liberal/National or Australian Democrat support for the legislation. 

Both parties, fearing that the ACT's homogeneous electoral geography would lead to Labor domination over the territory's government, blocked the legislation and demanded that the government introduce a proportional system. Labor, seeing this as inevitable, decided to go with a party-list system. The Australian Democrats didn't like this, though. Their status as a centrist party meant that they would be advantaged by preferential voting, and so they supported a system that would include preferences in a similar way to the single transferable vote. The Senate process merged the two systems, in a way that made a mess of both of them.

"Modified D'Hondt"

The resulting system was christened 'Modified D'Hondt'. It combined many of the key elements of the system used for the Senate, as well as party list proportional representation. These two have been combined before in Australia; South Australia used a hybrid of the two for elections to their upper house in the 1970s. Voters were permitted to number as many or as few parties as they wanted. Parties that failed to receive one-half of the Droop quota (about 4.16% of the vote) had their preferences distributed to parties that had hit that threshold. All seats were then distributed using the largest-remainder system and the Droop quota. However, the ACT system added a few more complicated features. I'll get right into the explanation.


Voting under Modified D'Hondt was a relatively simple process. The ballot paper was similar to that used for the Senate. There was a thick black line across the paper, with boxes for parties above the line and boxes for their candidates below. Voters voted by placing the number 1 in any box. That's all. They could number boxes for as many or as few candidates or parties as they wished, and they could number both parties and candidates (for example, you could vote 1 for John Smith, a Liberal candidate, 2 for the Labor Party box, and 3 for Jane Smith, a Green candidate).

Despite this, the informal rate was similar to the last federal House of Representative elections, where more preferences are required; it was speculated that this was due to people writing disparaging comments about the candidates on the ballot paper.


Counting was a more complicated process. It happened in stages. The first stage of counting was the simplest. All votes for a party or its candidates were counted and added up. The total of this was divided by 18 (the Droop quota; votes/seats+1). Parties that did not have this many votes were excluded from the count from this point on. This aspect of the law was controversial. Thresholds are fairly common under party-list systems, but at that point had only been used in South Australia under the aforementioned list system. 

At the second stage, the preferences from the parties that had failed to meet the quota were distributed. So, if you had voted 1 Shooters 2 Liberal, and the Shooters had failed to meet the quota, your vote would now go to the Liberal Party. At this point, party and candidate votes were not distinguished between. Votes with no preferences outside a party (i.e 1 Shooters, 2 Robert Jones, who is a Shooters candidate) could be transferred according to the party voting ticket, which was a list of all the parties in ranked order. If there was preferences outside a party, but none of them were for a party that had met the quota, the vote was exhausted and set aside: it will not play any further role in the count.

At the third stage, the D'Hondt system was used to distribute seats to parties in the normal way, using vote totals determined through the preferences. These were not formal allocations, though. Under the electoral law, these were considered only 'provisional', for reasons to be explained later.

At the fourth stage, seats were provisionally allocated to candidates within parties, based on the number of seats the parties had been provisionally allocated. This was done using the single transferable vote to count the rankings voters made when they voted for parties. A vote above the line for a party counted as a vote down that party's ticket. An incomplete vote within a ticket would have its preferences counted as far as they had been expressed. Further preferences in that vote would be considered ticket votes. For this reason, few candidates were elected outside their party's order.

At the fifth stage, candidates who had not been provisionally elected, but who were part of parties who had won a quota, had their preferences distributed to the next candidate still in the count. Candidates were not 'excluded' per se; they could still have votes distributed back to them.

The sixth stage was effectively a repetition of the third. The D'Hondt system was used to distribute seats amongst the parties using the new, adjusted vote totals. It would be possible that the seat distribution would change at this stage. As could be expected, the seventh stage was a repetition of the fourth. The single transferable vote was used to distribute seats within parties, using the new votes. These seats were final.

Election results

The results below are votes for individual candidates, organised into parties. Please note that first preference votes cast for more than one candidate within a party have been counted as party votes. An asterisk (*) denotes elected candidates.
Votes %
Labor 24587 17.33%
Rosemary Follett* 6654 4.69%
Paul Whalan* 321 0.23%
Wayne Berry* 90 0.06%
Ellnor Grassby* 90 0.08%
Bill Wood* 159 0.11%
Di Ford 33 0.02%
Kevin Gill 96 0.07%
Anna Robieson 40 0.03%
Martin Atteridge 40 0.03%
Peta Beelen 22 0.02%
Barry Reid 260 0.18%
Total Labor 32410 22.85%
Liberal 15526 10.94%
Gary Humphries* 3446 2.43%
Trevor Kaine* 1203 0.85%
Robyn Nolan* 70 0.05%
Bill Stefinak* 234 0.16%
Greg Cornwell 171 0.12%
Lyle Dunne 49 0.03%
Peter Kobold 90 0.06%
Judith Dowson 67 0.05%
Peter Jansen 86 0.06%
Bob Winnel 137 0.10%
Total Liberal 21079 14.86%
No Self Government Party 14125 14.86%
Craig Duby* 1657 1.17%
Carmel Maher* 55 0.04%
David Prowse* 54 0.04%
David Prowse* 54 0.04%
John Taylor 55 0.04%
Norman Henry 23 0.02%
Peter Alabaster 55 0.04%
John Cunningham 42 0.03%
Chris Elworthy 18 0.01%
Elma Lindh 14 0.01%
Nev Aurousseau 14 0.01%
John Cantlon 14 0.01%
Ken Durie 10 0.01%
Bob Smythe 31 0.02%
Lindsay Sales 11 0.01%
Phillipa Meredith 22 0.02%
Jack Wight 22 0.02%
Yvonne Hammond 44 0.03%
Total No Self Government Party 16274 11.47%
Residents Rally 8765 6.18%
Bernard Collaery* 1855 1.31%
Norm Jensen* 129 0.09%
Michael Moore* 301 0.21%
Hector Kinloch* 1696 1.20%
Joan Kellett 191 0.13%
Chris Donohue 142 0.10%
Marion Le 385 0.27%
Kevin Giles 77 0.05%
Catherine Rossiter 106 0.07%
Total Residents Rally 13647 9.62%
Abolish Self Government Coalition 9165 6.46%
Dennis Stevenson* 1327 0.94%
Flo Grant 36 0.03%
Gladys Dickson 15 0.01%
Chris Tazreiter 33 0.02%
Nerolie Bush 17 0.01%
Geoff Dopel 29 0.02%
Trish Orton 10 0.01%
Gail Aiken 20 0.01%
Mike Trevethan 35 0.02%
Reg Hayward 6 0.00%
Colin Beaton 15 0.01%
John Hesketh 23 0.02%
Total Abolish Self Government Coalition 10721 7.56%
Abolish Self Government Coalition 9165 6.46%
Dennis Stevenson* 1327 0.94%
Flo Grant 36 0.03%
Gladys Dickson 15 0.01%
Chris Tazreiter 33 0.02%
Nerolie Bush 17 0.01%
Geoff Dopel 29 0.02%
Trish Orton 10 0.01%
Gail Aiken 20 0.01%
Mike Trevethan 35 0.02%
Reg Hayward 6 0.00%
Colin Beaton 15 0.01%
John Hesketh 23 0.02%
Total Abolish Self Government Coalition 10721 7.56%
Fair Elections Coalition 1397 0.98%
Tony Fleming 5269 3.71%
Alan Runciman 494 0.35%
Sara Kirchbaum 94 0.07%
Gordon McAllister 19 0.01%
Gus Petersilka 345 0.24%
Julie McCarron-Benson 147 0.10%
Total Fair Elections Coalition 7765 5.47%
Fair Elections Coalition 1397 0.98%
Tony Fleming 5269 3.71%
Alan Runciman 494 0.35%
Sara Kirchbaum 94 0.07%
Gordon McAllister 19 0.01%
Gus Petersilka 345 0.24%
Julie McCarron-Benson 147 0.10%
Total Fair Elections Coalition 7765 5.47%
Independent Haslem 4253 3.00%
John Haslem 2548 1.80%
Caryl Haslem 66 0.05%
Total Independent Haslem 6867 4.84%
ACT Community Party 1645 1.16%
Ken Fry 3977 2.80%
Dominic Mico 142 0.10%
Lorne Doyle 13 0.01%
Total ACT Community Party 5777 4.07%
Canberra First Party 3774 2.66%
Allan Nelson 904 0.64%
Beryl Byrnes 29 0.02%
John McMahon 17 0.01%
Jeff Brown 74 0.05%
Michael Apps 18 0.01%
Barry Brogan 21 0.01%
Jennie Booth 8 0.01%
Arthur Hetherington 5 0.00%
Elizabeth Apps 16 0.01%
Mike McColl 31 0.02%
Matt Campbell 9 0.01%
Garry Behan 12 0.01%
Total Canberra First 3885 2.74%
Family Team 2929 2.06%
Bev Cains 686 0.48%
Ron Gane 26 0.02%
Bill Fearon 22 0.02%
Dennis Meagher 34 0.02%
Drewe Just 12 0.01%
Total Family Team 3885 2.74%
Australian Democrats 1720 1.21%
Arminel Ryan 515 0.36%
Bill Mason 47 0.03%
Heather Jeffcoat 68 0.05%
Total Australian Democrats 2350 1.66%
National Party 1477 1.04%
David Adams 380 0.27%
Michael Mullins 58 0.04%
Bruce MacKinnon 32 0.02%
Total National Party 1947 1.37%
Sun Ripened Warm Tomato Party 1165 0.82%
Emile Brunoro 453 0.32%
Rick Kenny 48 0.03%
Total Sun Ripened Warm Tomato 1666 1.17%
Party!Party!Party! 733 0.52%
Amanda Call 200 0.14%
Shane McMillan 46 0.03%
Total Party!Party!Party 979 0.69%
Christian Alternative Party 580 0.41%
Nathan Stirling 222 0.16%
Bernadette Ibell 44 0.03%
Total Christian Alternative Party 846 0.60%
Socialist Workers Party 483 0.34%
Kristian Whittaker 230 0.16%
Total Socialist Workers Party 713 0.50%
Sleepers Wake 120 0.08%
John Bellamy 53 0.04%
Total Sleepers Wake 173 0.12%
Surprise Party 124 0.09%
C.J.Burns 42 0.03%
Total Surprise Party 166 0.12%
Disabled and Redeployed Workers Party 106 0.07%
Peter Burrows 50 0.04%
Derek Robinson 7 0.00%
Total Disabled and Redeployed Workers Party 140 0.10%
Tony Spagnolo Independent for Canberra 75 0.05%
Tony Spagnolo 65 0.00%
Total Tony Spagnolo Independent for Canberra 140 0.10%
A Better Idea 64 0.05%
Michael Scurfield 16 0.01%
Total A Better Idea 80 0.06%
Home Rule OK 41 0.03%
Tony Boye 21 0.01%
Total Home Rule OK 62 0.04%
Independent candidates
Bill Mackey 5686 4.01%
Harold Hird 1872 1.32%
Lyall Gillespie 522 0.37%
Frank Crnkovic 445 0.31%
Bill Pye 414 0.31%
John Rocke 149 0.11%
Bob Reid 121 0.09%
Gary Pead 75 0.05%
Tony Boye 60 0.04%

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