Tasmanian election: Franklin form guide

Franklin includes the areas of Hobart on the eastern shore of the Derwent River, small towns south of the city and the unpopulated southern part of the World Heritage area to the west. The federal electorate was mostly in Liberal hands in the post-war era (though usually by narrow margins), until Harry Quick won it for Labor at the Tasmanian Liberal wipeout of 1993 and consolidated it thereafter. At state level, the electorate has reflected the pattern of traditional Labor dominance that foundered on the rocks of the Franklin Dam controversy in the early 1980s. The Liberals lost one of their standard three seats at the 1996 election, the last held under the seven-member system, to independent candidate Bruce Goodluck, who had been the federal Liberal member from 1975 until he retired due to ill health in 1993. Goodluck polled 6.3 per cent of the vote and won with help from a good many preferences leaking from the Liberal ticket. He did not recontest at the 1998 election, when the number of representatives was cut to five, and the Liberals failed to recover the seat.

The real Liberal disaster was to come in 2002 when they slumped from 37.0 per cent of the vote to 23.7 per cent and dropped another seat, this time to the Greens. Their only sitting member going into the poll was Martin McManus, who entered parliament at a mid-term recount when Peter Hodgman quit for an unsuccessful run at the 2001 federal election. The other elected member from 1998, Matt Smith – who was elected at the age of 20 – quit shortly before the election after his father was charged with stealing from his employer, and a court was told some of the money may have been used to fund his campaign (his father was later acquitted on all charges). Their only successful candidate was Will Hodgman, nephew of Peter and son of legendary Denison MP Michael Hodgman.

Labor by contrast is going into the election with three sitting members, all of them high-profile – none more so than the Premier, Paul Lennon. There has been a perception that Labor will struggle to retain its three seats this time around, which if correct will mean the loss of a cabinet minister. However, a Labor upturn in recent polls may require a revision of this view.

Paul Lennon entered parliament in 1990 via the state secretary position at the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council. He failed at his first run for election in 1989, but won a seat on a recount the following year when Labor veteran Ken Wriedt retired. He has steadily built up his personal vote over the years, cracking double figures in 1996 and increasing from 13.1 per cent in 1998 to 18.2 per cent in 2002. Lennon emerged over time as the head of the state party’s Right faction, and became Deputy Premier upon the election of Jim Bacon’s government in 1998. He assumed the role of Labor’s "enforcer" and took on an ever more demanding load of portfolios from Bacon who, in the estimation of Tasmanian academics Tony McCall and Peter Hay, sought only to retain "portfolios that kept him out of trouble and allowed him to present himself as the avuncular statesmen". The tough image Lennon acquired led to concerns about his suitability for the job when he took over from Bacon in early 2004. These came to the fore when Labor lost two Tasmanian seats at the federal election due to the disastrous rift with the federal party over forestry policy, which prompted short-lived talk of a leadership challenge. This has long since ceased, but the jury will remain out on his premiership until the figures come in on Saturday night.

Lara Giddings became the youngest woman ever elected to an Australian parliament when she first won a seat in Lyons at the age of 23 in 1996. She was squeezed out when the number of members was reduced at the 1998 election, but returned as a member for Franklin in 2002. This came at the expense of Labor member Neville Oliver, who entered parliament mid-term after a recount when Fran Bladel abandoned her seat to make an unsuccessful tilt at the upper house seat of Huon. Hiddings became Economic Development and Arts Minister in 2004 and, according to Sue Neales of The Mercury, is better placed than party rival Paula Wriedt to retain her seat. Despite being of the Left faction, Giddings has been described as a protégé of Paul Lennon.

Paula Wreidt is the daughter of the aforementioned Ken Wriedt, who was the Whitlam government Agriculture Minister and Senate leader at the time of the 1975 supply crisis, and later led the state party amid its wilderness years from 1982 to 1986. She entered parliament in 1996 and became Education Minister when Labor came to power in 1998. This made her Tasmania’s youngest ever female cabinet member, and two years later she became the state’s first MP to have a child while in office.

With three cabinet ministers up for re-election, the remaining Labor candidates are unlikely to get a look in. They are Ross Butler, a former Lindisfarne real estate agent and school principal, and Daniel Hulme, a Australian Taxation Office worker and former Young Labor president described by Sue Neales of The Mercury as a "right-wing pro-development campaigner".

Will Hodgman is the new generation representative of the evergreen Hodgman dynasty, which includes his grandfather (who served as both a Liberal and independent member) as well as his father Michael and uncle Peter. Hodgman went straight into the deputy leadership of the battered Liberal Party after the 2002 election fiasco and looks certain to go one better in the very short-term future, given the results of a recent poll published by The Mercury which showed he was the preferred Premier of more than a third of Liberal voters. He has set himself apart from his monarchist lawyer father by abandoning his legal career after entering parliament and taking up the position of deputy convenor of the Australian Republican Movement.

The best-known of the Liberal newcomers are Tasmania Police lawyer and criminologist Vanessa Goodwin, who in 2003 was touted as a Senate candidate by party moderates hoping to demote conservative warlord Eric Abetz to the dicey number three position on the ticket, and Tony Scott, a Vietnam veteran and chief executive of the state branch of the RSL. Also standing are Steve Allie, a local business and cricket identity who was a partner in former Liberal leader Bob Cheek’s first business venture in the early 1980s, the Eastern Shore Indoor Cricket Centre; and bed-and-breakfast operator and former aid worker Sue Bastone, who was one of the first Australians to arrive in Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami. Allie was drafted late in the piece after the withdrawal of Kingston carpet business owner Derek Smith.

Nick McKim is rated as the current Greens member most likely to succeed Peg Putt as leader. The local federal Labor member, Harry Quick, created a stir within his party early in the campaign when he endorsed McKim in his election material. The other Greens candidates include former parks ranger and current "weather observer" Mike Anderson, science teacher Jane MacDonald and aged care assessor Gerard Velnaar. Breaking the Greens mould somewhat is Mark Rickards, a real estate agent and former naval officer.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.