People power has trumped ALP factional power, with Lisa Singh now all but certain to be re-elected from the “unwinnable” sixth spot on Labor’s Senate ticket in Tasmania.
As the long Senate count continues, it is now impossible on the numbers for John Short, the union secretary who was elevated by factional bosses above the incumbent Senator Singh, to get elected, while Senator Singh is on track to take the 11th of 12 seats in Tasmania.
Jody Fassina of Insight Strategy, a former long-term adviser to two Labor senators who still crunches Senate numbers, said Senator Singh is likely to be returned to Parliament as a result of a grassroots push by voters who went below the line to vote for her directly rather than the ALP ticket.
“If there is going to be a fifth Labor senator elected, and it looks like there will be, it will be Lisa Singh,” he said.
Senator Singh’s personal vote has been emphatic, with electoral analysts saying it could be a game-changer for future elections and a challenge to the way factional operators have been able to ride roughshod over the wishes of branch members and voters.
Senator Singh has so far pulled 11,407 first preference votes, or about one direct vote for every eight cast for Labor in Tasmania.
She has nearly 9000 more direct votes than Labor’s number one candidate, Senator Anne Urquhart, and in certain booths in inner-city Hobart has pulled almost twice the votes than the Labor Party has above the line.
Senator Singh, who is factionally unaligned, was chosen in third spot by Labor’s rank-and-file members in Tasmania but was demoted to fourth behind Mr Short, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. She was then dropped to sixth for the double dissolution when the party’s state executive slotted in sitting senators, Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk, above her.
A “Re-Elect Lisa Group” made up of ALP members did so well that she appears to have also taken significant votes from the Greens in the Denison and Franklin areas.
Senator Singh, a former state MP, said she was determined to provide an option for Labor voters who want to back a true progressive in the Senate.
“I believe I gave Labor the best chance of winning the most seats possible by providing that alternative,” she said.
Tasmanians are much more likely to go below the line and choose candidates directly due to the use of the Hare-Clark voting system at state level there.
It is likely that Greens Senator Nick McKim will be re-elected in the 12th and last spot, which will end the career of Liberal Richard Colbeck, who was also the victim of factional power play in Tasmania.
Mr Colbeck was dropped from the reshuffled Turnbull ministry on Monday – another sign that the Coalition rates his chances as slim at best.