Sex Party Preferences; How the fuck did the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party get elected in Victoria?

There’s been a lot of people pissed off with the Sex Party this election because of the way they ordered their preferences. There’s a particularly excoriating write-up at Buggery.org:

I doubt many of those who voted for the Sex Party would be happy to know their vote ended up electing a gun nut (in NSW), a car nut (in Vic) or sports nut…

I’ll summarise the basic gist of it for you: they preferenced some crazy extremist right-wing parties ahead of saner large parties like the Greens, and now Victoria has a knob from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party representing us in the Senate when they only had 11,812 primary votes, leaving the 45,000+ perverts who voted for the Sex Party baffled as to why they ended up being represented by Brocky when they were after Belladonna.

I’m going to try to answer two questions: “How did Victoria end up with a senator from the AMEP?” and “Why did the Sex Party order their preferences that way?”

 

1. The Sex Party preferenced the AMEP at #42 on their list

Firstly, speaking as someone who voted under the line, I was depressed by how quickly the game changed from “which party do I prefer?” to “which of these lunatics do I despise the least?” Putting AMEP as their 42nd preference is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Secondly, it seems strange to isolate the Sex Party for their preferencing when AMEP received 232,114 of their votes from other parties, almost all of whom preferenced AMEP significantly higher than 42 (including among them the Bank Reform Party – #3, the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party – #11, and the Socialist Equality Party – #22).

 

2. In Victoria, Sex Party preferencing was a question of the lesser of three weevils

Let’s look at the actual distribution of preferences in Victoria. We’ll skip all the chaff and cut straight to the end – count 35, towards the pointy end of the wedge. Once the Greens candidate, Janet Rice, took the 5th senate spot by a fair margin, the battle for the 6th and final spot looked like this:

Party Total Votes % Votes
Liberal/The Nationals 268,954 11.62%
Sex Party 148,474 6.41%
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party 130,583 5.64%
Palmer United Party 113,377 4.90%

 

Let’s review. The Sex Party are in 2nd place. The other contendors are the Coalition, the AMEP, and crazed billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s party.

Palmer United Party are the odd one out, so the entirety of their 113,377 votes go to their 6th preference, AMEP. After that it looks like this:

Party Transfer Total Votes % Votes
Liberal/The Nationals 0 268,954 11.62%
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party 113,377 243,960 10.54%
Sex Party 0 148,474 6.41%

 

It’s now a choice between the Liberals and the AMEP – the Sex Party are no longer in the race. However, their preferences are the decider, and the AMEP gets in ahead of the Coalition. Victoria would have had 3 Coalition senators if not for the Sex Party preferencing the admittedly bizarre but ultimately preferable AMEP candidate.

 

3. The Sex Party had pretty solid reasons for preferencing the Democrats and the Greens behind smaller right-wing parties

I’ll leave Sex Party president Fiona Patten to explain this one:

I know that a lot of the criticism has been that we have put One Nation in the middle of our ticket rather than the bottom, but it’s strategic – for a small party you’ve got to keep yourself in the run until the major parties dump their preferences. One Nation can never get elected because none of the major parties have preferenced them. Our vote will never go to One Nation and we know that. In some ways, it doesn’t matter where we put them. Family First, however, can get elected and that’s why we put them last behind the majors.

To put this another way: their strategy was to preference small-time weirdo parties (in exchange for their preferences) under the mostly accurate assumption that their preferences would never go to those parties anyway. In fact in Queensland, WA, SA and the ACT, the Sex Party’s preferences did end up with the Greens anyway; they just got there with a few stops in Crazy-Town along the way.

In summary, the answer to the questions I posed at the beginning are:

  • The Sex Party only preferenced crazy right-wing parties where they believed they were unlikely to get elected; and
  • The single biggest influence on AMEP ending up with a Senate spot is because of a massive #6 preference from the Palmer United Party, and then finally because the Sex Party preferred them over the Coalition.

Sources:

ABC Elections site – Accessed 9/9/13
Below the Line  – Accessed 9/9/13
Star Observer  – Accessed 9/9/13
Buggery.org – Accessed 9/9/13