Greens in on the ACT

Just what are the Greens on about, talking up their prospects of winning an ACT Senate seat?? Time after time during this campaign, the Greens seem obsessive about promoting their ACT Senate candidate, Kerrie Tucker, often when it would seem more strategic to promote the lead candidates in a number of states where the Senate vote will be in the balance. Take this quote from a press release from Saint Bob during the week:

He said that a key to stopping the Coalition turning the Senate into a rubber stamp for Mr Howard is the election of Greens ACT Senate candidate Kerrie Tucker MLA.

So Kerrie scores a mention, but there's no sign of David Risstrom, John Kaye or Drew Hutton, all lead Senate candidates in other states, and all much more likely to get themselves elected.

For a minor party to get a Senator elected in the ACT or the NT is an epic task. The electoral system means that, with two senators being elected in each territory, the quota in 33% of the total vote. So in 2001, both Liberal and Labor had their Senators elected in both territories (okay, twas the CLP in the NT) without any need for preferences at all. A similar pattern is seen in every election since the territories started electing Senators in the 1970s. The closest any minor party has got is the Democrats in the ACT in 1998, when Rick Farley received exactly 16.6% of the vote, half of the quota, and was easily beaten by both major parties.

Okay, so why would the Greens talk up their chances in the ACT? Would it have anything to do with the ACT election taking place just a week after the Federal poll, on October 16? Here's the logic. Voters in the ACT are likely to vote the same way on consecutive Saturdays and will only want to make up their mind once rather than twice. Therefore, if the Greens are to play a part in the Territory election, they will also need to play a part in the Federal poll. So much as common sense says the Senate seat is not winnable, to concede defeat would also be to concede defeat in the Territory election, where the Greens are very much in the game. The stake in the territory parliament is significant - the Greens, Democrats and an indie have shared the balance of power since 2001, and the Greens would dearly love to have the balance in their own right.

Paranoid? A bit. Consiratorial? A lot. Truthful? We'd have to ask Bob and Kerrie to find out.


Anonymous said…

You say Farley was easily beaten by both parties in 1998.

I can't find a full distribution of preferences for 1998 but Reid scraped home on One Nation preferences.

One Nation finished fourth. I believe Reid won by less than 1000 votes but I could be wrong.

Either way, Farley was not beaten easily.

- Ben Haslem

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