The SA 2014 election has now been decided with the return of the ALP government with the support of Independent Geoff Brock. The final result for seats in the lower house was 23 ALP, 22 LIB, 2IND, with 24 needed for a majority.
There has been much complaining from both Liberal supporters and figures within the party that this is unfair given that the Liberals won the two party preferred (2PP) vote. Some comments on this:
- The 2PP is an artificial construct that plays no official role in our electoral system.
- It is a fact of mathematics that even in a simplified situation with only two parties in a first past the post election, a result based on electorates does not necessarily agree with a simple majority of the whole population, for example, take 3 equal electorates A,B,C. Suppose party P puts all their effort into A &B and win 51% of the vote, but do not contest C. Then P win the election but the other party wins the 2PP with 66%. There is no cheating, this is the system. If it were any different then no doubt P would put effort into winning votes in C.
- Accusations of a gerrymander are pathetic, particularly coming from supporters of a party which kept in power for many years with an actual gerrymander (i.e. engineering electoral boundaries to maintain an unfair advantage). The SA electorates are redistributed between electorates by law, this is done by the neutral electoral commission and is available for public consultation. The Liberals had a chance to have input and had some changes made in their favour (in particular in Bright). Part of the complication is that they are failing to gain swings in marginal seats, it is questionable that the electoral commission should compensate for this.
Now we are starting to see the attacks on the Independent Geoff Brock.
- In deciding whether to support a minority government an independent is under no obligation to consider the 2pp vote for their state or whether their electorate is “naturally conservative”.
- If you do want to make guesses about the voters of Frome, it’s worth noting from Antony Green’s analysis of the redistribution that “On paper (the redistribution) reverses the two-party preferred margin in Frome, the Labor two-party majority of 0.1% in 2010 becoming an estimated Liberal margin of 1.7%.” The way some people are talking makes it sound like a safe conservative seat where it is very marginal. Given that the Liberal vote was almost 36% percent then it appears that a large majority of the people who voted for Brock would prefer the ALP, and while it is quite possible that the full preference distribution will show more preferred LIB to ALP it is unlikely to be any great majority. The fact is that if people in Frome wanted a Lib government they could have voted Lib.
- There is all sorts of insinuation that he is selling out for personal gain. Once again, his electorate is marginal and his base is Port Pirie, where is was formerly mayor, a strong ALP area in the electorate. I suspect that his parliamentary voting record would show much agreement with the ALP in the previous term. When first elected he had how to vote cards putting Labor above Liberal. This isn’t some sort of about face, it would seem more surprising were he to support the Liberals. He has accepted a ministry for regional development, but still can vote independently on any issue in parliament, this is surely the best way to represent the people who voted for him.