by Malcolm Mackerras

I had an article published on this website on Thursday 26 May titled Are the odds in Malcolm’s favour? One sentence in that article said: “My prediction for July 2 is Coalition 78 and those not supporting the Coalition 72, a six-seat majority.” My detailed seat count is given there with seats named. I stick by those predictions almost in their entirety, but I now have the Coalition on 80 seats in the House of Representatives and those not supporting the Coalition on 70. Further details on seats will be published in most News Corp election specials on Election Day or election eve with my pendulum – but not in The Australian.

I believe Malcolm Turnbull will be the second biggest winner in this election. The biggest will be Senator Nick Xenophon as I explained in my most recent article here. In that article I wrote: “The double dissolution is a gift to Xenophon and, combined with the implementation of HIS kind of Senate reform, governs my feelings about the trade deals done while Abbott was Prime Minister.” So the big question is: will Turnbull get ANY benefit from the double dissolution? I believe he will. I expect the new Parliament (the 45th) to pass the previously twice-Senate-rejected Australian Building and Construction Bill and the (also twice-Senate-rejected) Registered Organisations Bill. However, once those achievements are in the bag, Turnbull will be at the mercy of the South Australian populist Xenophon.

I made a promise in that article that “when nominations close I shall write an article on the Senate, giving predictions.” I now keep that promise, beginning with my overall prediction for parties for this, Australia’s 8th Senate general election;

  • Labor 26
  • Greens 10
  • Liberal 23
  • Nationals 7
  • Xenophon Team 3 and;
  • Family First 2

That adds up to 71. The remaining five seats I predict will go to Pauline Hanson and Glenn Lazarus in Queensland, David Leyonhjelm in New South Wales, Derryn Hinch in Victoria and Jacquie Lambie in Tasmania. In terms of change from the old Senate (44th Parliament) that would be a gain of one seat for Labor and a loss of three seats by the Coalition. With The Greens unchanged at 10 (a gain in New South Wales offsetting a loss in South Australia) that would mean the combination for the big parties would decline by two – and a gain of two for the Xenophon Team. His new senators would be Stirling Griff and Sky Kakoschke-Moore. I predict the defeat of John Madigan and Ricky Muir in Victoria and Dio Wang in Western Australia. They would be replaced by Tasmania’s Peter Madden of Family First (who would become the deputy leader to South Australia’s Bob Day) and by Derryn Hinch in Victoria and Pauline Hanson in Queensland.

Frankly, I do not know how the politics of all that would play out over three years. Almost every observer failed to predict the Senate politics of the 44th Parliament, so I suppose we shall fail to predict the Senate politics of the 45th Parliament just as badly. So let me simply go into the details of the above overall prediction. I begin by noting that the four territory seats will clearly return the same result as always, two Labor and two for the Coalition. The states are much more difficult to predict, but here are my guesses.

New South Wales will go five for the Coalition, four Labor, two for The Greens and Leyonhjelm.

Victoria will reverse that between Labor and the Coalition. Then there will be two Greens and Hinch.

Queensland will be five for the Liberal National Party, four Labor and one each for Greens, Hanson and Lazarus.

Western Australia will stay at six Coalition and two Greens. However, Labor will rise from three to four as a consequence of the defeat of Dio Wang, the last man standing for the Palmer United Party.

South Australia will again be the most miserable result for Labor which will merely hold its present three seats. The Liberals will get four and the Xenophon Team three. Bob Day of Family First and Sarah Hanson-Young of The Greens will be re-elected.

In Tasmania I predict four each for Labor and the Liberals. As a consequence of the beneficial effects of the Hare-Clark system for state elections, however, the fourth elected for both Labor and the Liberals will not be the fourth on the party list. The Greens will retain their present two senators and 12th past the post will be Peter Madden of Family First.

Finally, I would not be surprised at Xenophon winning a fourth Senate seat in South Australia. If so, the man elected would be Tim Storer, who is described as having grown up in the Riverland. I have to admit that the senator most likely to be defeated in such an event would be my friend Bob Day about whom I wrote in an earlier article on this website. However, I still predict that Day, like Madden, will be 12th past the post. Storer, in my prediction, will be officially described as “not excluded and not elected”.

(Malcolm Mackerras is a visiting fellow at the Australian Catholic University’s Canberra campus.