2014 Australian Senate special election in Western Australia
On 5 April 2014, an Australian Senate special election in Western Australia has held. The special election was held six months after the 2013 Australian federal election. The results of that 2013 election for the Australian Senate in Western Australia was voided on 20 February 2014 by the High Court of Australia, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, because 1,375 ballot papers were lost during an official recount in November 2013. The High Court ruled that because the number of lost ballots exceeded the margin for the two remaining Senate seats, the only acceptable remedy was to void the results and hold a special election.
Following the election on 5 April, preferences were distributed on 29 April 2014 according to the group voting ticket voting system used at that time. The outcome was 3 senators from the Liberal Party of Australia, 1 from the Labor Party of Australia, 1 from the Australia Greens and 1 from the Palmer United Party. Compared to the November 2013 result, the Sport party's Wayne Dropulich was replaced by Dio Wang of the Palmer United Party.
The election is unprecedented in Australian federal politics. An election was held in South Australia in 1907 for the election of one senator under a previous electoral system. Half-Senate elections without a corresponding Australian House of Representatives election have occurred several times due to effluxion of time, the last one in 1970.
The date was set by Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Governor-General of Australia, on the advice of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. However, the onus for setting times and processes fell on the Governor of Western Australia, Malcolm McCusker, on the advice of Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia, in McCusker's obligations under the operation of the Election of Senators Act 1903 (WA).
The sixth and last seat was a close contest between third Liberal candidate Linda Reynolds and second Labor candidate Louise Pratt. Reynolds was ahead in the ABC's detailed count projection, with Antony Green predicting on 10 April "It is clear the Liberals will win the last seat". The result was confirmed by the Electoral Commission on 29 April. The score at the final count was 188,169 to Reynolds versus 176,042 for Pratt, a margin of 12,127. The projected margin on Green's calculator, which treated all votes as above-the-line, was a narrower 8,109.
|Party||Votes||%||Swing||Seats won||Continuing senators||Total seats||Change|
|Australian Labor Party||3,965,284||29.63||–5.50||12||13||25||–6|
|Palmer United Party||751,121||5.61||+5.61||3||–||3||+3|
|Liberal Democratic Party||502,180||3.75||+1.94||1||–||1||+1|
|Family First Party||149,994||1.12||–0.98||1||–||1||+1|
|Democratic Labour Party||115,276||0.86||–0.20||0||1||1||0|
|Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party||66,807||0.50||+0.50||1||–||1||+1|
There were a number of candidate changes from the original election. Notable changes included:
- Shane Hill replaced Peter Foster as third candidate on the Labor ticket
- David Wirrpanda was no longer on the Nationals ticket
- Des Headland assumed second place on the Palmer United ticket
- Anthony Fels switched from lead Katter's Australian Party candidate to lead Mutual Party candidate
- Fiona Patten, who was the lead Sex Party candidate in Victoria in 2013, became their lead candidate at the special election
The Socialist Equality Party and Australian Independents contested the 2013 election in Western Australia, but did not contest the special election. The Socialist Alliance, Pirate Party, Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Building Australia Party, Mutual Party, Republican Party and Democratic Labor Party did not contest the 2013 election in WA, but decided to contest the special election.
Sitting members are shown in bold text. Tickets that elected at least one member in 2014 are highlighted in the relevant colour and successful candidates are indicated with an asterisk (*). Candidates marked with ‡ were declared elected after the final count in 2013.
|Labor candidates||Liberal candidates||Greens candidates||Palmer candidates||Nationals candidates||Katter candidates|
|Shooters & Fishers candidates||Australian Christians candidates||Family First candidates||Australian Sex Party candidates||Wikileaks candidates||Liberal Democrats candidates|
|Democrats candidates||Smokers' Rights candidates||HEMP candidates||Socialist Alliance candidates||Voice candidates||Fishing & Lifestyle candidates|
|Secular candidates||Pirate candidates||Freedom & Prosperity candidates||Sustainable Population candidates||Outdoor Recreation candidates||Animal Justice candidates|
|Motoring Enthusiast candidates||Sports candidates||Rise Up Australia candidates||Voluntary Euthanasia candidates||Building Australia candidates||Mutual candidates|
|Republican candidates||DLP candidates||Group C candidates||Ungrouped candidates|
Electoral events timeline
- 7 September 2013 (Election Day) – The Liberal-National Coalition defeats the Australian Labor Party.
- 17 October – A recount of all "above-the-line" Senate votes made in Western Australia is initiated after an appeal by the WA Greens and the Australian Sports Party is upheld.
- 31 October 2013 – The AEC announces that it is unable to find 1,375 ballot papers during the WA Senate recount.
- 4 November 2013 – The AEC declares the result of the WA Senate recount, awarding the last two seats to the Greens and Australian Sports Party, instead of the ALP and Palmer United Party.
- 15 November 2013 – The AEC, Palmer United candidate Wang, and voter Simon Mead lodge a petition with the High Court of Australia in its capacity as the Court of Disputed Returns, asking that the WA Senate result be declared null and void.
- January 2014 – Justice Kenneth Hayne, in the Court of Disputed Returns, hears submissions from the AEC and political parties. On 30 January 2014, Hayne reserved his decision.
- 20 February 2014 – The Court of Disputed Returns voids the results of the WA Senate election. Hayne ruled that the margins between Palmer United and the Australian Sports Party for the fifth seat and the Greens and ALP for the sixth seat were far exceeded by the number of missing ballots. Hayne ruled that since the voters who cast those missing ballots had effectively been "prevented from voting", no remedy short of a new election was appropriate.
- 21 February 2014 – Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn announces his resignation, which will take effect on 4 July 2014.
- 28 February 2014 – McCusker announced the election date as Saturday 5 April 2014
- 13 March 2014 – closing date for nomination of candidates.
- 5 April 2014 – election day.
2013 Senate result background
The Senate after the 2013 election, once the new senators' terms started on 1 July 2014, was originally going to consist of the Coalition government on 33 seats with the Labor opposition on 25 seats and a record crossbench of 18 – the Greens on ten seats, Palmer United on two seats, with other minor parties and independents on six seats – the LDP's David Leyonhjelm, Family First's Bob Day, Motoring's Ricky Muir, Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich and incumbents Nick Xenophon and the DLP's John Madigan. The Coalition government would originally have required the support of at least six non-coalition Senators to pass legislation.
Most Senate votes cast in Western Australia were subject to a formal recount. During the recount it was determined that 1,375 WA Senate ballot papers could not be located. After the final recount the result was duly declared which changed the last two predicted WA Senate spots from Palmer and Labor back to Sports Party and Greens. Mick Keelty, a former AFP Commissioner, was requested by the AEC to investigate the issue of the misplaced ballot papers. On 15 November, the AEC petitioned the High Court, acting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to seek an order from the court that the WA Senate election of all six senators (3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Sports Party) be declared void.
Given the closeness of the margins that favoured the final two declared candidates, the petition is based on the premise that the inability to include 1,370 missing ballot papers in the recount of the WA Senate election means that the election was likely to be affected for the purposes of s 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.— Australian Electoral Commission, 15 November 2013
A record number of candidates stood at the election. Group voting tickets came under scrutiny because multiple candidates were provisionally elected with the vast majority of their 14.3 percent quotas coming from the preferences of other parties across the political spectrum. "Preference whisperer" Glenn Druery organised tight cross-preferencing between many minor parties. The Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich won a Senate seat on a record-low primary vote of 0.2 percent in Western Australia, his party placing coming 21st out of 28 groups on primary votes. The result caused discussion across a range of organisations and parties about whether there should be changes to the GVT system.
2013 nationwide Senate result
|Party||Votes||%||Swing||Seats won||Total seats||Change|
|Australian Labor Party||4,038,591||30.11||–5.02||12||25||–6|
|Palmer United Party||658,976||4.91||+4.91||2||2||+2|
|Liberal Democratic Party||523,831||3.91||+2.10||1||1||+1|
|Family First Party||149,306||1.11||–0.99||1||1||+1|
|Democratic Labour Party||112,549||0.84||–0.22||0||1||0|
|Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party||67,560||0.50||+0.50||1||1||+1|
|Australian Sports Party||2,997||0.02||+0.02||1||1||+1|
2013 WA Senate result
- "WA Senate election to be held on April 5". Yahoo! News. 28 February 2014.
- "Fresh WA poll throws Canberra into spin". SBS Online. AAP. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Australian Electoral Commission v Johnston  HCA 5 (18 February 2014), H.C.
- "Liberals secure three seats in WA Senate re-run: SMH 29 April 2014". Smh.com.au. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "2014 WA Senate election final distribution of preferences: AEC" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "2014 WA Senate results: Antony Green ABC". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "Detailed 2014 WA Senate result: Antony Green ABC". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "WA Senate election: Government hopeful of favourable Upper House as Palmer United Party picks up seat: ABC 6 April 2014". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Green, Antony (19 June 2013). "Tracking the WA Senate Re-election Count: Antony Green ABC". Blogs.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- Author William Bowe (29 April 2014). "WA Senate election finalised: Poll Bludger". Blogs.crikey.com.au. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "First Preferences by Group" (PDF). 2013 Electoral Pocketbook. AEC. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Hopkin, Michael (17 October 2013). "WA Senate recount gets under way". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
- Packham, Ben (31 October 2013). "Probe launched into lost WA Senate ballot papers". The Australian. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
"serious administrative issue came to light" during the recount
- Griffiths, Emma (4 November 2013). "AEC confirms WA Senate election result, apologises over 1,375 lost ballots". abc.net.au. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Ireland, Judith (15 November 2013). "Missing votes: AEC asks High Court to void WA Senate election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- "Court hears submissions to void WA Senate election after votes lost". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "High Court judge reserves judgment on botched West Australian Senate election". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Court of Disputed Returns voids 2013 WA Senate election result". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
- Bourke, Latika (2014). "Ed Killesteyn resigns as Australian Electoral Commissioner". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "Campaigning begins in WA after Senate re-election date announced". ABC News. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "Most recently updated divisions, Senate: 2013 election, AEC". Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Harrison, Dan; Hurst, Daniel; Ireland, Judith (31 October 2013). "WA Senate recount in turmoil as 1375 votes go missing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Australian Electoral Commission statement: WA Senate recount" (Press release). AEC. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Green, Antony (3 November 2013). "What's Going On With The WA Senate Count". ABC News. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Green, Antony (8 November 2013). "WA Senate Contest Comes Down to Just 1 Vote – and it's one of the Missing". ABC News. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Murphy, Katherine (15 November 2013). "Senate recount: electoral commission asks high court to nullify six WA seats". The Guardian. Australia. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Ireland, Judith (15 November 2013). "Missing votes: AEC asks High Court to void WA Senate election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "Electoral Commission challenges WA Senate result to bring about fresh election". ABC News. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- Green, Antony (16 August 2013). "Record Number of Candidates to Contest 2013 Election". ABC News. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Bitter dispute erupts over Senate preferences in Queensland". ABC News. 5 September 2013.
- Druery, Glenn (21 August 2013). "The 'preference whisperer'". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- Jabour, Bridie (13 September 2013). "'Preference whisperer' defends role in minor parties' Senate success". The Guardian. Australia.
- "Western Australia 2013 Senate results and preference flows". ABC News.
- Green, Antony (13 September 2013). "The Preference Deals behind the Strange Election of Ricky Muir and Wayne Dropulich". ABC News. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Australian Sports Party 'pleasantly surprised' by potential Senate seat". ABC News. 9 September 2013.
- "Coalition shy of Senate majority". Business Spectator. 9 September 2013.
- "Tony Abbott fires a warning shot at micro parties in the Senate". WA Today. 9 September 2013.
- "Xenophon wants voting reform". NineMSN. 9 September 2013.
- "First Preferences by Group". Virtual Tally Room: 2013 election. AEC. 1 November 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Senate Results: Summary". ABC. 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.