“Some will argue that a candidate with just 3 per cent of the primary vote ought not be able to be elected,” writes politica; columnist MICHAEL MOORE.
WHO is most likely to replace Johnathan Davis on his resignation from the ACT Legislative Assembly?
The Greens will be hoping that the Hare-Clark method of filling a vacancy by countback will favour their party. Although this is likely, it is certainly not guaranteed.
Three years have passed since the last election and most of the unsuccessful candidates have got on with their own lives, set new goals and established themselves in other workplaces.
The Electoral Commission will check with candidates to see if they are still willing to stand for election by countback before a decision can be made by November 27.
The countback process can then commence. The Electoral Commission will look at the votes that were cast in favour of Davis and then redistribute them according to the voters’ preferences.
This will include the primary votes as well as those votes that Davis received after preferences flowed through to him. About a third of Davis votes were primary – the rest were preferences.
In the seat of Brindabella, which is largely based on Tuggeranong, the Greens won 10.8 per cent of the primary vote with 5.4 per cent going to Davis. He was well ahead of the other two Greens candidates, Laura Nuttall (3 per cent) and Sue Ellerman (2.4 per cent). Only in the electorate of Yerrabi (Gungahlin) did the Greens score a lower percentage of the votes.
Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings did not get elected despite having substantially higher first-preference votes than Davis at 8.2 per cent. Such is the power of preferences. It is an important lesson for both voters and candidates to remember just how critical preferences are in the ACT elections.
Using the Bouckaert ACT election countback simulator, it is Werner-Gibbings who is the first non-Greens candidate with a chance of being elected. However, the calculator finds that Nuttall (should she agree to stand for election) will replace Davis as an MLA. Should she decline the next in order is Ellerman followed by Werner-Gibbings.
Some will argue that a candidate with just 3 per cent of the primary vote ought not be able to be elected. However, keep in mind that there are five candidates to be elected from this electorate and therefore the percentage of votes to be elected in Brindabella (a quota) was close to 17 per cent. The reason it is less than 20 per cent is because not all votes are formal, and quite a few will be wasted.
Voters who give their first preference to the Greens tend to remain in the party grouping for other preferences. The Bouckaert calculator shows that the last candidates to remain in the count after distribution of preferences are in order: Nuttall and Ellerman (Greens Party), Werner-Gibbings (Labor Party) and Andrew Clapham (Sustainable Australia – Stop overdevelopment. Stop corruption Party).
Nuttall graduated from ANU with a double degree in politics, philosophy and economics/Asian studies. Her election pitch remains available on the Greens website. It provides an insight into what was driving her in 2020.
“I believe that everyone has a right to a dignified, secure, and meaningful life.” she says.
“Too often the old parties put the interests of corporations and their donors before the people they are supposed to represent. That’s why we’re one of the richest cities in the world and could house and support everyone, yet we have so many people living on the streets and struggling to meet their basic needs.
“We’ve seen what’s possible during a crisis, and we need to use this moment to build a better normal. That means making sure that everyone has a place to call home, food on their table, and feels welcome in our community. I’m committed to supporting the one thing all politicians and political parties should focus on: people”.
The ACT Hare-Clark system works efficiently and effectively in filling casual vacancies without the need for a by-election as happens elsewhere. The challenge for any replacement MLA will be to make such a mark that their chances of being re-elected next year are substantially improved.
Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health. He has been a political columnist with “CityNews” since 2006.
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