Greens’ Ludlam loses WA Senate seat



news Technology-focused Greens politician Scott Ludlam has formally lost his Senate seat in Western Australia, the Australian Electoral Commission confirmed today, in a move which will be interpreted as a substantial blow to the digital rights movement in Australia.

For the past several weeks since the Federal Election was held, Ludlam has been locked in a hard-fought battle to hold his seat, due to a complex flow of preferences between tiny political parties such as the Australian Christians, the Australian Sports Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party. For a while it looked as though Ludlam would hold his seat, but this afternoon the AEC confirmed the final count had left the Greens politician out of the race.

The final WA Senate vote elected three Liberal Party candidates, two Labor candidates and a candidate from the new Palmer United Party, despite the fact that the Greens took 9.48 percent of the initial vote and the Palmer United Party took 5 percent of the initial vote.

In a statement, AEC state manager for Western Australia, Peter Kramer, said the Senate count had involved the keying-in of votes into a computerised system, and today an automated process was used to distribute preferences and determine the six elected candidates.

“As with all aspects of the count, the automated distribution of preferences undertaken today was open to scrutineers appointed by the candidates,” Kramer said. “Approximately 96 per cent of voters cast their ballot above-the-line on the Senate ballot paper while four per cent voted below the line.”

In a post on Twitter, Ludlam thanked all of his supporters who had gone through the waiting period with him “Checking for recount possibility; meantime your support means a lot,” the politician wrote.

Ludlam told ABC Radio that it appeared the Palmer United Party had been elected on roughly half the vote of the Greens, but that was the sort of result Australia’s electoral system threw up occasionally. He added there was an urgent need for electoral reform.

“It is an elegant system being expertly gamed and manipulated,” Ludlam said. “The whole purpose of an electoral system is to accurately as possible reflect the voting will of the Australian people. It has let us down in this instance.”

In a separate statement, the Greens said they disappointed with the provisional result of the Western Australian Senate count. “Scrutineers have identified the result may have come down to a 14 vote margin and will likely require a recount before the final result is known,” the statement read. “The Greens will provide an update on the provisional count once scrutineers have assessed the grounds for a recount.”

In the statement, Ludlam thanked the 124,000 people who voted Green in WA, and the Western Australian and national campaign teams for their work during the election campaign. “In particular, I acknowledge Senator Christine Milne for her dedicated and tenacious leadership: the role of the Greens has never been more crucial than now,” Ludlam said.

The news will come as a blow to the Australian digital rights community, due to Ludlam’s role over the past half-decade after he was elected in 2007 increasingly coming to focus on holding powerful government departments and law enforcement bodies, politicians, corporations and other groups to account for increasing privacy rights violations and the encroachment of telecommunications surveillance in the digital age.

Ludlam will particularly be remembered for a series of fraught encounters with bureaucrats from the Attorney-General’s Department over data retention, telecommunications surveillance and Internet censorship issues, as well as his opposition to Labor’s Internet filtering plans and support for Labor’s National Broadband Network project.

However, the politician will be seen on the Canberra stage for some time yet, with his Senate term not expiring until mid-2014.

Image credit: David Howe, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence


    • It does work, if people vote below the line. Voting above the line is just being abused and leading to an undemocratic result.

      Although, in a multiple member ‘electorate’, I don’t know if preferential voting is of much benefit. Indeed, it may complicate things unnecessarily. In the HoR though, where you have single member electorates, I think it’s a good system. It’s more about voting for the least-worst option. In a first-past-the-post voting system, you simply pick whoever gets the largest vote, which in a system with more than two parties, is often a minority – so you get a majority that may be dissatisfied with the result. With preferential voting though, you at least get a majority that are not dissatisfied with the result.

      • @Harimau: That’s exactly my point. I’ve been voting below the line for quite a while now because I want my vote to go to whom I prefer not as the political parties prefer. The problem is the whole system is skewed at forcing people to vote above the line..

        I mean honestly it takes me a good 15-20 minutes to finish voting and this is me doing a “glance” at the other minor parties under the list and just lining up my numbers in order of the parties. That’s over 100+ boxes that ALL need to be numbered and preferenced and in order. I can be bothered but you can but a huge majority can’t/won’t.

        The system IMHO is gamed to “force” a majority of people to use preferential which means your not really voting for who you want but for who the parties decide.

        • is your friend in that regard. I just love going past the political worker and when they say “How to vote card?” I just say “I brought my own”.

        • Nick Xenophon will be introducing a bill arguing for “option preferential voting” (where you only need to vote for 2-3 below the line for it to be counted as a valid vote), hopefully it will be passed.

  1. So 96% of voters put a single number above the line, whereupon the party they indicated got to choose who was elected to the senate via preference deals.

    Optional preferential voting above the line would probably make a very large difference to this preference horse trading. Which is why the major parties oppose any such change, of course.

    • Preferential voting above the line, or increase the cost – or difficulty – to form a political party on the ballot.

      Maybe require ten times as many signatures, and a stat-dec that you didn’t pay any of the signatories to sign it. (along with some auditing). All signatories must only sign for a single party, people registering their party must register for only a single party etc.

      At least 2 of the micro-parties were registered by one guy (was that in VIC?). This whole election was a preferences rort.

  2. It’s amazing how stupid the average Australian is, that a fool like Plamer can grab 4 seats in parliament. This guys contribiution to Australia is using taxpayer gifted resources to enrich himself, building dinosaur replicas on a golf course, proposing to build a replica of the Titanic (minus the steam turbines and adding lifeboats, and hopefully the gerry built construction of the original).
    Just waiting to see him in third class on the sinking replica.
    This guy has “bought these seats” and he will attempt to use them to advantage his business interests at the expense of the Australian people.

  3. It is slightly ironic that advertising is currently showing jobs in the mining industry for this post.

    The joys of the somewhat weird vote stacking thanks to preferences [this really needs to go die in a fire] causing in greens voting not actually voting in a greens senator.

    Go fig.

  4. What a disgraceful farce, the most valuable tech voice of reason and questioner of the big two clones is relaced by a faceless PUP clown who is a ‘mining industry’ employee with half the votes…

    … some country, Florida chads couldn’t have done a finer job of showing us up as a bunch of troglodyte idiots…

      • My opinion of the Greens is such that I have always voted them last, however I have a lot of respect for Scott Ludlam. I don’t think he has ever once said something that didn’t make any sense (irrespective of whether or not I agreed with it). The rest of his party could learn a lot from him.
        I sincerely hope he manages to keep some influence on IT matters.

        • I don’t think he has ever once said something that didn’t make any sense, (irrespective of whether or not I agreed with it).

          You more often prefer to agree with nonsense?

          • More than 2 statements on a topic can make sense :)

            1) “We get more purple plastic per dollar than green plastic, and it is still cheaper to colour the purple green after we buy it, therefore we should buy the purple plastic.”
            2) “Green plastic looks more like fake grass, since we make fake grass it will be a simpler system to make fake grass by buying the green plastic, instead of adding complexity by colouring purple plastic”

            Both statements “make sense” but come to entirely to the opposite conclusion.

  5. If Scott Ludlam loses any recount of the vote, wouldn’t it be great if he would consider forming or leading an Oz ICT party for the Senate at the next Federal / State Election(s). But only if there was a possibility that such a party could actually win a seat and have some political influence.

  6. If the Greens wanted to keep their positions they should do better.

    They had what every 3rd party craves, which is real power, not just senate power.

    They wasted it. And have been burned because of it.

    • Technically they did. Ludlam was ahead on the primary votes by 9%. That’s a *HUGE* margin.

      The problem is when the vote stacking for preferences kicked in and somehow pushed him out of contention because all other parties didn’t want Greens.

  7. If Scott Ludlam wants to be elected for his ICT credentials he should not be fronting for the Greens. If I lived in WA I would not have voted for the Greens, Ludlam or no Ludlam.

    • If Scott Ludlam wants to be elected for his ICT credentials he should not be fronting for the Greens.

      Why? It’s not like you can’t be into tech, and be environmentally friendly too…

  8. I really respected Scott’s opinion on many issues. Good luck to the guy in whatever he does next, his voice will be missed.

  9. I cant believe that Ludlam has to go, but the Motoring Enthusiasts get to stay.

    What a joke

    Please, please, please fix the senate voting system.

    • WA is an extremely conservative state (Colin Barnett has screwed up so many times it’s not funny and he was reelected in a landslide – ridiculous).

      Anyhow, I suspect that without the same preference deals that got him outed, he would never have been elected in the first place.

      That said, I’m all for a first past the post system as opposed to preference deals determining that the representative/party I didn’t vote for (for whatever reason) being elected.

  10. Dear Scott,
    Thank you so much for all of your hard work in helping to protect us from those that claim to protect us. More then anything, there was one result from this whole election that I wanted to see and that was you re-elected to the Senate. While I did vote below the line, I am in SA, so was unable to help you get back in, I just thought that those in WA had more sense.

    Vote for the person, not the party, otherwise this is what happens, which I fear will be bad for all of us.

  11. As a great man once said, this country’s STUFFED!

    Hope Ludlam doesn’t go away, he was imo the best pollie we had since Bob retired.

  12. As someone who voted for him I’m pissed. However the complaint about the micro-party preference deals misses the reality of the situation here. In the end the progressive minor party vote (Sex, Wiki, HEMP etc) did fall behind the Greens. Some of them landed on the Sports party first but once they were out it was left to Palmer, Labor and the Greens for those last two spot. The progressive vote had gone to the Greens at that point.

    Again, when it was just those three where do you think the conservative micro-party vote would go? Family First, the Christians, Shooters and so on were always going to lean towards Palmer. Without GVTs maybe some would have leaked and the result would have been different but the truth remains, the flow was ideologically consistent. What wasn’t consistent was the excess from Palmer via Palmer and Katter that went to the Greens over Labor…… but not enough

    Senate voting definitely needs reform … but it probably would have worked against the Greens in this case.

  13. Why is urgent electoral reform only needed when someone loses?

    He may have garnered a lot of votes for his digital rights advocacy, but he no doubt also lost a lot for his anti-biotech/nuclear stance.

    • Why is urgent electoral reform only needed when someone loses?

      The reform isn’t about Scott loosing, it’s about micro-parties getting a senate seat with only 0.23% of the vote….

      • This talk of ‘insert small percentage here’ of the vote totally ignores the fact that we have a preferential voting system.
        Its perfectly reasonable for an induvidual to vote 1 party ‘X’ safe in the knowledge that since ‘X’ is a major their candidate will get their quota and the induviduals vote will then flow to second and subsequent preferences.
        If people cant be bothered filling in 100 boxes ONCE every three years to choose the government then thats a problem. We should just get rid of above the line voting and have partial preferential voting in the senate, problem solved.
        Still wont help the greens, environmentalism is great but they put too many of their eggs in the CAGW basket and will fade away with it as the evidence increasingly points away from their politiclaly correct hypothesis.

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