If voters in Tasmania had behaved the way they normally do on July 2, Labor senator Lisa Singh would have been out of a job today.
But instead, voters carefully and very deliberately made history this federal election, ignoring Labor’s factional bosses in the process. Today, Singh became the first senator elected from below-the-line votes in the 32 years since above-the-line voting was introduced in 1984.
Singh was the 10th of 12 Tasmanian senators elected after received a personal vote of more than 20,000 below-the-line first preferences – more than 6% of the total vote and a quarter of the votes the ALP received above-the-line. Her personal support is almost as big as the total Greens vote, which saw two Greens elected – Peter Whish-Wilson and Nick McKim.
Tas Senators elected: 7.Duniam (Lib), 8.Brown (ALP), 9.Bushby (Lib), 10.Singh (ALP), 11.Bilyk (ALP), 12.McKim (GRN) #auspol tweet 2 of 2
— AEC (@AusElectoralCom) July 27, 2016
Senator Singh looked set to miss out on being re-elected after factional war saw her relegated to the “unwinnable” sixth position on the Labor ticket, behind union boss John Short from the AMWU. Short has missed out on a new job on the red leather in Canberra.
Her win is a triumph for Labor’s rank and file over the party powerbrokers. They ran a grassroots below-the-line campaign for Singh and voters listened.
Her nearest rival was moderate Liberal and former tourism minister Richard Colbeck, who ran a similar campaign after being suddenly dropped to an unwinnable fifth position on the Liberal team. Colbeck received more than 13,000 first preference votes – 5000 more his ultra-conservative rival Eric Abetz, who topped the Coalition ticket – but it wasn’t enough. Instead, newcomer Jonathan Duniam, who received 654 first preferences, was elected.
The next most popular below-the-line vote went to independent Jacqui Lambie who received 11,463 first preference votes.
Senator Singh said on Facebook she was “deeply honoured and inspired by the historic result”.
“This is a victory for thousands of passionate and committed Tasmanian’s who’ve made their voices heard,” she said.
“I won’t be dwelling on this result, but getting straight back to work!”
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