EMRS: 39-37 to Labor in Tasmania

Tasmanian pollster EMRS has published a survey of 853 committed voters on state voting intention, which shows Labor on 39 per cent (down 1 per cent from May 2007), the Liberals on 37 per cent (up 2 per cent) and the Greens on 22 per cent (up 1 per cent) (hat tip: Steve). Under the state’s Senate-like voting system, such a result would certainly see the Greens holding the balance of power, perhaps with as many as six of the 25 seats. The results in 2006 were 49.6 per cent, 31.9 per cent and 16.2 per cent; in 2002 they were 51.9 per cent, 27.4 per cent and 18.1 per cent. On both occasions the result was 14 seats to Labor, seven to the Liberals and four to the Greens.

On May 3 two independent members of the state’s 15-member upper house will face re-election under the chamber’s unusual system of annual rotating elections. They are Huon member Paul Harriss, a one-time Liberal candidate whose parliamentary votes go overwhelmingly against the government, and Rosevears member Kerry Finch, whose votes split about evenly. One suspects neither is in much trouble: one or both might even be re-elected unopposed, unless the Greens want to be a pain in the arse again. The numbers in the chamber at present are four Labor, one ex-Labor renegade, and ten mostly conservative independents. More from Peter Tucker and Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times.

UPDATE: Following yesterday’s close of nominations for the upper house elections, it has been revealed that two-horse races will proceed in both divisions. In Huon, Paul Harriss will face Greens candidate Mark Rickards, a former Royal Australian Navy officer and candidate for Franklin at the 2006 state election. Kerry Finch faces a challenge in Rosevears from independent Colin O’Brien, who would appear to be the proprietor of a bed and breakfast at Legana just outside of Launceston.

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.

38 comments on “EMRS: 39-37 to Labor in Tasmania”

  1. Peter Tucker and Kevin Bonham have a really good analysis of the two LC elections on Peter Tucker’s site (linked on the PB homepage). Dated 17 March – about 1/3 down.

    Peter Tucker’s comment about Paul Lennon in his January 31 piece is pretty perceptive I think too:

    “Paul Lennon is very much his own man. His detractors often portray him as an anachronism in today’s politics; a leader suited to the rougher days of the 70s and 80s. They decry what they see as his bully-boy tactics and his back-room approach to policy making. An “Uber-Bogan” as Leo Schofield described him.

    But Mr Schofield, and the journalists for that matter, are not representative of the wider voting public. Tasmanians have historically been close to their politicians and don’t generally mind a few rough edges. I believe, and I think the premier does too, that his public image is recoverable. Not as a smoother-than-smooth boardroom clone like the other states seem to prefer, Paul Lennon could never pull that off, but at least as someone who cares.”

    Maybe a hung Parliament is the most likely outcome, but every time that fact is mentioned a few more anti-Green working class voters will return to the Labor fold from the Liberals. Labor rebuilt its electoral strength after its 29% result in 1992 by taking these (strongly anti-Green) voters off the Liberals, assisted by the suicidal decision of the latter to govern with Green backing between 1996-1998, and the idea that only Labor can win majority government is now pretty well entrenched (and true).

  2. I raise a point of order Mr Speaker,

    If you’re going glibly label the Tasmanian system “upside down”, then you ought to give some reasons to back up your assertion.

    One can quite reasonably argue that Tasmania is the only state that gets it right.

    Firstly, the lower house: the most powerful chamber and the one where government formed is also the most democratically elected. It comes closest of all state lower houses to getting producing a mix of parties that reflects the way people voted.

    Secondly, the upper house: the chamber that serves to provide a check on the government. By dividing the electorate up into single member constuencies, and holding elections separately to the lower house elections, an atmosphere is produced where independents thrive. Thus you get an upper house that actually does it job; with less party hacks acting as govt rubber stamps or dog-in-the-manger opposition.

  3. I echo David’s point: just because Tasmania does it the other way round to the mainland, why is it “upside down” and not mainland elections? I think it makes a lot more sense.

  4. Molesworth I think you are a little too dismissive.
    From what I remember of what people said during the last election Lennon was able to let Bacon (may he rest in peace) take some of the body blows for him. It could be argued that the change of leadership worked much the same way as Hawke to Keating or Carr to Iemma. I also believe will Hodgman is a better opposition leader than Rene Hidding was.

    The opinion of the government appears to be relatively regional. Those who aren’t getting much pork and don’t live in rusted on Labor do not seem too happy.

    As for you Hare-Clark bashers. If you don’t live here and the locals like it maybe you should leave it alone.

  5. Absolutely concur David @ 5.

    Even though I am a semi-Green voter (and the Greens, I believe, want a unicameral system – please correct me if I’m wrong), the Tasmanian system works. It may work slowly and is definitely not free of rancour, but compared to first past the post bully-boy winner-takes-all, it is more representative of its demographics than other states.

    The conservatism of the LegCo is made up for by their familiarity and accessibility – if you don’t have your mobile in the White Pages, you’re toast.

    If only they would do the re-enlarge of the HoA that is so needed… and then trim local governments back to 11 or so… ideally 3 on the NW (one for the west & Circular Head, one for Burnie and surrounds, one for Devonport and surrounds), 3 in the North (one for Launceston and the Tamar, a merge of Dorset, Break o’ Day and Flinders and another merge of Meander Valley and Northern Midlands) and finally 5 for the south (Hobart/Glenorchy; then Clarence/Brighton ; then Sorrell/Tasman/Glamorgan-SB; then Huon/Kingborough; then Sthn Midlands/Central)… and who the hell knows what to do with Derwent…

    Much better to trim pollies at the deeply inefficient local level and re-instate a few more in the HoA I reckon… y’know, state smaller than Newcastle and all that…

    Tas has the most ‘European’ parliament, if you like… the most representative, the most argumentative, the most chance of a Labor-Liberal purple (or ‘Grand’) coalition you’ll ever see here is Australia. It’s unique and bring on the equalling out of figures (from the semi-Green partisan) – 39/37/22 – where else do you see that split in the nation?

  6. I am finally up on the EMRS poll. A couple of observations:

    The Greens can’t win six seats. Not in a fit.

    The poll primarily shows that a large portion of voters who voted Labor at the 2006 election have peeled off and are sitting on the fence. The Libs haven’t benefited yet. Labor will hope to win them back, again, but it will be harder in 2010 than it was in 2006, principally because each election gets harder for the incumbent no matter what, and because the Libs have a popular Opposition leader.

    See my full posting here: http://tasmanianpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/04/emrs-poll-whats-it-telling-us.html

  7. William, obviously as a Green I have a bias here, but I really don’t think the Tas Greens are being “pains in the arse” by running against incumbents who would otherwise be re-elected unopposed.

    I know it costs a little, and forces people to leave their house for half an hour to vote, but I think that’s a small price for democracy. Labor and Liberal could have saved a lot of money in the days when they were the only parties running for most seats by sitting out ballots in safe seats for the other side. In fact they sometimes did this, and I certainly don’t consider it a win for democracy.

    I don’t know if it is worth the Greens while running for Rosevears. It’s not a good seat for them and Finch voted against the Mill anyway. On the other hand, if the Greens run in Huon, and no one else does, over a third of the population will probably vote for them. I think those people are entitled to voice their concerns. If others run the Green vote will be lower, but the election would have happened anyway, so I’d encourage them to go for it if they have a decent candidate.

  8. I said most of what I had to say about the ramifications of EMRS’s high undecided vote at http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/poll-worse-for-lennon-than-for-labor/
    following the EMRS Feb 2007 poll. Both election results and comparisons with Morgan suggest strongly that the undecideds in EMRS polls (when these are not taken near an election) are overwhelmingly soft Labor voters. Thus, while this poll shows the two major parties virtually neck-and-neck, it is more likely that EMRS is understating the gap by several points. I think the real gap is still about 10 points, which is probably not majority-winning for Labor but not all that far from it.

    Since writing that article, I have fine-tuned my EMRS-correction methods further and instead of now taking two points off the Greens and giving one to each major party (as well as giving most of the undecideds to Labor) I now take two points off the Greens and give both points to the Liberals. This is in line with the general evidence that Morgan face-to-face methods favour Labor by about two 2PP points. My current model corrects EMRS’s 39-37-22 to 45.5-36-17.5.

    To my amusement, I was one of the 1000 voters in this sample (probably me revealing this publicly means it will never happen again!) First they asked me five questions about what I thought to be the importance of various state funding priority issues, and which of those five was the most or least important. One of the five was state funding of infrastructure, especially for the pulp mill.

    Then they asked me what I thought about the PM supporting the mill, and soon after that they moved on to the politics question. (There were a few other questions – one about preparation for winter storms and one about right-to-die legislation).

    Given that the mill is a significant factor in Lennon’s apparent unpopularity, I thought they should have placed the voting intention questions at the start of the poll rather than shortly after the mill questions, and that placing them where they did could have distorted the results. Also of note: I was simply asked which party I would vote for and not given a list of party names.

    Sue Neales’ reporting of the poll has again been a mess from a writer who, I’m sad to say, is no stranger to psephelogical error and seems to generally commit it in the directions of exaggerating the ALP’s plight and talking up the Greens’ record and chances.

    Lennon’s rating having changed from 33 to 30 since the last EMRS poll is reported by Neales as a “slump” even though this difference is obviously not stat. sig., and indeed elsewhere in the same report she cites Richard Herr (correctly) pointing out that the Liberals’ rise in raw support (three points!) is not significant.

    What’s even more curious is that Neales now more or less ignores the August 2007 EMRS poll commissioned by Tasmanians Against the Pulpmill, which claimed that Lennon’s approval rating was only 24%. I consider the 24% finding to be nonsense, as it appears that full-time workers, a group likely to support the Premier, were under-sampled in the poll. Neales, however, made a very great deal of this 24% finding in pieces written after it, but makes no direct mention of it in her latest article. The six-point “recovery” since it would hardly be consistent with her claim that Lennon has “slumped”. More likely Lennon’s approval rating has been wandering around the low 30s the whole time.

    Making the contestable assumption that the EMRS poll is of the slightest use (at least by comparison with other EMRS polls) I do note some points of interest in this one. I believe it is the first time the raw Liberal figure has equalled the raw Labor figure (31 apiece) and also the highest total of Liberal plus Green raw Labor figures yet. So there may be a little hope for the Liberal Party here, or it may all just be meaningless fluctuation.

    The poll does suggest that attempts to transform Paul Lennon’s image are not yet acheiving much, and that the Federal Hotels public attack on Will Hodgman acheived even less. I agree with Peter’s comment (“Never make the opposition leader the story”, 7 March entry on his site) that this attack was just free oxygen for Mr Hodgman.

  9. Scotty @ 8

    Take anything I say with a huge grain of salt, I haven’t lived down there for almost a decade and the poll clearly shows there’s a strong possibility of a hung parliament. I admit that Labor’s rebuilding after 1992 wasn’t just based on distancing themselves from the Greens, it was also based on voter perceptions that the Libs were governing for themselves or their mates, driven by things like the Burnie IR dispute and the 40% pollies’ pay rise (no doubt there’s still the odd Tassie ute with a “40% Never Forget” sticker). There’s clearly a danger that voters will ultimately make the same judgment about Lennon.

    I don’t know much about Will Hodgman. It’s interesting that there’s such a huge gender gap in his dissatisfaction ratings (male 39%, female 24%) when Lennon appears to be pretty much equally disliked. Is Hodgman regarded as a bit of a wuss or a bit of a toff in some quarters? Are these numbers an indication that he turns off the huntin’, fishin’, footy lovin’ male voter considerably more than he does other voters? If so, my hunch is that a Labor ‘majority government’ campaign could still hurt him. Such a campaign is not just an argument for stable government, it also taps into Tasmania’s culture wars. I really don’t think the Libs can aim for majority government without taking back the worker class voters who switched to Gray and Groom and then switched back. I think the Libs should be ahead in the polls given the respective satisfaction/ dissatisfaction ratings, and the fact that they’re not may show a continuing belief that Hodgman can’t win and should therefore be regarded warily. But I suppose a Labor ‘majority government’ campaign might lose a little of its force if all the polls from here on in point to nobody getting 13 seats or if the whole question of who is most likely to govern in minority gets messy for any reason.

    It will be interesting to see if the Libs begin to take in donations again. They clearly lost a lot of their business backing when the perception took hold that they couldn’t win without Green support. I wonder if Hodgman can bring enough dollars back to run a decent campaign. Maybe the national Liberal Party will kick in some cash if there still aren’t any conservative State governments and they think there’s a good chance of defeating Labor (and if they’ve financially recovered from the next federal election). But maybe they won’t like the prospect of mainland swing voters in, say, regional Queensland and northern NSW being reminded that the only conservative government in the country relies on the Greens.

    Scotty, I’m also interested in your comment that there seem to be regional variations in support for the Government. The Libs need to win two seats to take Labor’s majority away, assuming the number of Green MPs stays the same. They seem to have come closest to extra seats last time in Lyons and Franklin. Do you (or other Tasmanian commenters) think the Libs are doing better or worse in these electorates relative to the others? You’d have to think that Hodgman as leader would pull their swing up in Franklin, but maybe Hidding as leader pulled their swing up in Lyons last time (he more than doubled his personal vote).

    Also, do people think Lara Giddings or Paula Wriedt or someone else would do better than Lennon? There seems to be a suspicion that Lennon would fall on his sword without too much prompting if he came to view the next election as unwinnable.

  10. I don’t think what the polls point to will have a huge influence on voter behaviour, simply because the unreliability of EMRS polls is very well known here based on previous elections. In the leadup to the 2006 election the ALP simply rubbished a few of the more negative EMRS polls by pointing out that they had private polling showing them with a 62-38 2PP lead over the Liberals. 2PP isn’t all that relevant in Tasmania but that’s probably not that far over what they would have ended up with. Maybe if a few polls showed the Libs with a several-point lead there’d be some action.

    The most common negative impression of Will Hodgman that I hear is that he seems more than a little uptight and stuck-up in the way he makes critical comments in public. Generally he is well regarded; some see him as a bit of a tryhard. I am not quite sure what the cause of the gender gap is.

    I don’t think either Wriedt or Giddings would do better for Labor than Lennon. Wriedt’s competence and commitment are both questioned by some observers while Giddings is seen as being too much of a school-prefect type. David Bartlett is another matter but there are plenty around who see him as a bit arrogant and abrasive and still a bit unpolished in his act. Steve Kons is very low-key and affable and hardly seems to have a single enemy but I’m not sure if he actually wants the job or has any real support for it.

  11. Molesworth
    Let me just say that i believe a hung parliament is most likely in my opinion and that isn’t as bad as it once sounded. But that it all will probably depend on the redistribution.

    “Are these numbers an indication that he turns off the huntin’, fishin’, footy lovin’ male voter? ” Hodgman is clearly trying to move the Tasmanian Liberals closer to the left and i don’t think he sounds too much like a sissy. Fortunately he has Peg putt and Nick McKim to take the heat off him for that as almost any nightly news almost always show liberals and greens criticising the government.


    Paula Wriedt is no with a capitol N. As hated as Lennon if not more. Her role as Education Minister was a disaster that will still take years to fix. If they are smart Lara Giddings would probably be the best bet if they wanted to keep a majority government. Relatively young, not scandal prone (like pretty much everyone else) and has not been seen as incompetent. This would probably go down well with those females who have nothing against will hodgman you mentioned. Then there is the fact she is from Franklin. But i think even if Lennon does go David Bartlett or Steve Kons are more likely.

    Then there are regional factors. Firstly i am interested as to where you lived in Tasmania Molesworth ? Anyway as someone who lives on the Eastern Shore there is a perception of northern favouritism that has fuelled a real resentment over issues such as roads, hospitals and the football. But also within electorates such as Kingston which gets its fair share of pork. Also there are many more rich mainlanders moving into parts of Franklin. There will also be regional issues such as the pulp mill in Launceston where most people (yes but not all) in Hobart are indifferent. Remembering that the people of George Town love them for it. A significant redistribution could compound these problems but that is purely hypothetical. I believe labor will do well in its old strongholds like Burnie but loose votes to left to the greens and votes to the right to the liberals in the big cities. I’m guessing there will be greater preference leakage from the greens.

    On Stateline on Friday there was a major push to have the West coast towns (like Queenstown) put in Braddon. That would probably reduce Lyons Labor vote if they did that but any effects would depend on what they did to the others as Labor’s Franklin vote relies on Gagebrook and Bridgewater which could be put in Lyons. But that depends on what they do to Denison and how much of the Kingston area they add to that. But Paula Wrieght only barley survived last time so labor will lose one for certain there. The question is where can another come from? Its probably possible for labor to lose one in every electorate except Denison.

  12. Kevin Bonham
    Rofl “abit” arrogant. If marrying yourself was legal he would be marryed to himself. i should probably declare i have a conflict of interest as members of my family are linked to the department of education but he is a smug little twerp. He is the Paris Hilton of Tasmanian politics. In the sense ” Agree with what people tell you then go and do want you wanted to do anyway”.

    Kons seems a little smug too if you ask me. Just a little unlike Bartlett. Probably make that North/South thing worse and may work if the redistriubtion is tame. But if it isn’t.

    I do think Will Hodgman is insincere when he makes critisms though yes. But i think you have to rember Peter Tucker’s comments earlier that the longer a government the harder it is no matter what really and it is only going to get worse.

  13. David, Ben & Stuart

    I have to disagree with your support for the Legislative Council’s electoral system.

    I think you are correct that that system produces an upper house that does the job it was designed for. But it wasn’t just designed to provide a check on executive excess. It was designed to provide a check on democracy, a check on the great unwashed. This was admitted more or less openly when it was put in place (in the 1850s) to prevent convicts and their descendants from ever wielding too much power over their betters. It worked.

    It is the only Australian House of Parliament that conservatives have never once lost, ever. The Council prevented poor people from voting for lower house elections until the 1900s, upper house elections until the 1960s and local council elections until the 1980s. It maintained a massive malapportionment until the 1990s. It held back so many progressive reforms for so long that Tasmania was exposed to ridicule. It savaged attempt after attempt to help Tasmanians who were less well off, or less well off than the landed gentry. When I studied law down there we always had to learn about the more or less uniform mainland legislation on a given topic, and then its 19th century local equivalent that still applied because the Council had blocked change. In the mid 1990s it was still a (rarely enforced) principle of Tasmanian land law that if a tennant took a lease on a house that was already falling apart, he or she was legally obliged to restore it without compensation. (This principle, which the Council had resolutely resisted all attempts at reform, was in fact pre-19th century.)

    The Legislative Council’s electoral system makes them the least accountable House of Parliament in Australia, as it was intended to do. The absurdly low campaign spending limits make it next to impossible for a challenger to communicate to voters in an atmosphere of near-zero media coverage and low public interest. Council members know they can vote any way they like on legislation without anyone ever finding out – they may be familiar to average voters personally, but they are a complete mystery politically. The Council is an arrogant and paternalistic disgrace to democracy, the last constitutional stronghold of Tory reaction in Australia. And I’m usually a moderate.

    The Council’s composition has broader Australian implications, too. We can be quite confident that the Council will do its level best to sabotage any efforts by the six Labor State Governments to coordinate policy on national issues with the Federal Government, or to refer powers over urgent national issues. Don’t doubt their sheer bloodymindedness. The Council even tried to stymie the (Howard Government-endorsed) rescue package when the High Court declared most of Australia’s company law unconstitutional a few years back.

    But that’s enough of this little rant for now.

    Scotty, I think my screen name gives you a clue.

    Scotty & Kevin, do you think Will Hodgman would be likely to accept minority government? If he didn’t and Labor didn’t, how do you think that would play out? Could we see a Green minority administration, until a defeat on the floor and another election? That would be fascinating to watch. I wonder what odds you could get on having a Green State Premier within 3 years, even if only for a few weeks? I reckon there could be some value in those odds, even if its not the most likely outcome. I’m going to check I think.

  14. Molesworth
    ah how cryptic of you rofl. Not a place that comes to mind to often. Especially living on the other side of the river:)

    I would probably say yes but there is no way of knowing. It may depend on who wins the most seats. If both labor and liberal think they could win outright they may both agree to change the size of the Assembly and cause a fresh election. Not that likely though. I would expect Hodgman would probably need the greens if he doesn’t win as he has a few people who don’t like him that much within the party. I would expect the broader party outside Tasmania would probably push for it esp if they don’t win anywhere else by that stage (Wa, SA or ACT). It would probably depend on the greens attitude/demands also. Green premier sounds unlikely as you would probably have a European type grand coalition before Labor/liberal would let that happen 😛

  15. An interesting comment as always Molesworth, but I would point out that most of your objections no longer apply – and it seems to me that the Council has indeed been a bit more liberal of late. That just leaves “absurdly low campaign spending limits”, which is an interesting (which I don’t mean pejoratively) point to raise in light of recent talk about bans on campaign donations. It’s also something that could be fixed (if indeed it needs fixing) without changing the institutional architecture.

    A couple of blasts from the past which might be of interest to you. I had this to say about the system back in this site’s infancy:

    The system by which the Council is selected is consistent with old-fashioned notions that a rolling mandate for the upper house, combined with longer terms (six years in this case) and a restricted franchise (only properly eliminated with the abolition of rural vote weighting in 1997), would provide a check against whichever libertine passions happened to be consuming the mob on the day the lower house was elected. It was thought that the result would be an independent and conservative counterweight to the government of the day, and in this respect it can only be said to have been a great success.

    I also had occasion during the 2006 election campaign to describe the spending cap (at least as it applied in 1979) as “silly”, which earned a polite rebuke from Griffith University electoral law wonk Graeme Orr.

  16. William

    On campaign spending limits, I concede that it seems a little contradictory to call the Legislative Council’s limits “absurdly low” when circumstances elsewhere suggest that applying them more widely, in the right framework, could be quite beneficial. I’m usually quite sympathetic to the idea of campaign spending limits and suspicious of the role of money in politics. To be honest, the main reason I don’t like them for Council elections may be that, in that particular context, they favour the sort of dishonest pseudo-independent conservatives that I politically oppose.

    But there is a real democratic accountability problem in Council elections, driven in large part by a lack of media coverage (as there is in local council elections nearly everywhere – witness Wollongong and, for balance, Tweed Heads). The lack of media coverage in the Legislative Council context is driven in large part by the rotating system of elections. This, I think, is the best (non-nakedly-partisan) argument for changing the system so that all or half the seats go to the polls at once – it would increase public scrutiny of candidates’ policy positions.

    On your point about the Council becoming more liberal of late, it is (as usual) well taken. I think you are right to pin a lot of this on the mini-surge in Labor representation and how much easier that has made it for Bacon or Lennon to peal off a few of the others and get things through, although I’m less sure of the impact that removing the rural bias had on the particular campaigns that saw those Labor MPs elected. But the improvement (from my perspective) comes from a very low base. In your excellent backgrounder on the Council I think you may be a little too willing to concede the ideological independence of some current members based on your (interesting and valuable) analysis of votes in divisions. It’s an old political trick for professed independents who favour one side of politics to line up with the other side on procedural or inconsequential votes, but not the important votes, precisely to make statistics like yours look better. For this and other reasons, to really get close to their ideological position I think you would need to pick out the big contested partisan votes over time (not always easy to do) and look at those, without the noise. I suspect that, on this sort of analysis, someone like Wilkinson for example would look considerably more conservative.

  17. The audit of Tasmanian LC division votes is an annual ritual of mine: I might just make the effort to divide them into procedural and substantive this year, if I have time.

  18. Scotty

    I think you may well be right that somehow it would just never get to this, but if neither Labor or the Liberals get 13 seats and if both leaders then advise the Governor in turn that they will not form a government, might the Governor be forced to ask Putt the same question? If she replies, effectively, “Sure, I know in practice I don’t have the numbers but I’ll take the job (and make history) until I get defeated on the floor of the House”, what does the Governor do? These are questions for constitutional scholars I suppose. I suspect they will be closely examined in the next two years.

    Incidentally, I doubt you would see a Grand Coalition for any length of time, unless it was simply to amend the electoral system and then have another election. My hunch is that Labor would be far too concerned about a further erosion of its left flank with the Greens as the official opposition.

  19. Yep your right it is far above the likes of us 😛
    I think the biggest concern they may have is that if the greens were in that position without full control of either house and the moderation of being in government might mean the sky would fall in and the greens are extrimist argument might be damaged. But i think the greens to be in that position they would have to win like 9 seats which just isnt going to happen. If they didn’t i would assume labor as the incumbent (and the guys who appointed him), would be re installed which could result in a motion of no confidence. But you know the saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend. that makes Pegg Putt and Hodgman friends 😛

  20. I’m fairly reluctant to put too much energy into speculating about what might happen if there is a hung parliament until we reach a stage where we can *confidently* say that is the most likely outcome. Last time it was widely assumed to be more or less inevitable but those assumptions turned out to be wrong. That said, I think Will Hodgman will govern in minority if he thinks he can find a stable way to do so. Going to the election with a promise not to govern in minority was a disaster for Hidding last time so it will be interesting to see how Hodgman handles this unenviable situation.

    As for the Legislative Council, it’s certainly less predictable and less conservative/reactionary than it used to be but I remain unconvinced of the merits of its existence. Independent decision making is not necessarily either good decision making or electorally accountable decision making. I’d prefer to abolish it and have just a single 35-member house.

  21. Only a fool would try to predict elections two years out … oh, well, if the cap fits! If I was framing a market now I would have a hung parliament favourite. There are only three remotely possible outcomes, and here is how I rate the probabilities:

    Labor majority: 29%
    Liberal majority: 2%
    No majority: 69%

    I think the Liberals vote at around 32% is below what their support “should” be. It has been kept this low by, first, an amateur-hour campaign in 2002 by an unelectable Bob Cheek as leader, and then, as Kevin points out, a very poor campaign in 2006 under Rene Hidding where they gave votes to Labor by rejecting a minority outcome.

    At the most recent state elections around the country most Liberal parties scored in the high thirties on primaries. All states are in roughly the same position: generally poorly performing over the past decade against a dominant ALP. Tasmania is not directly incomparable, of course. The other states don’t have the Greens sucking up 17% of the vote. But providing leader Will Hodgman maintains reasonable levels of popularity, and providing the Libs don’t self-destruct with their campaign again, another 5-6% should be almost a gimme.

    Anything more than that … I don’t know. I discuss the general issue of majority/minority government as an issue here: http://tasmanianpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-to-beat-majority-government-scare.html

  22. Quite amazing that Peg Putt is still openly talking about wanting cabinet positions. Pushing for the deputy premiership was a serious blunder in the previous campaign. I don’t think it harmed her own party’s vote much, but it certainly helped Labor keep the doubters in the fold.

  23. Kons can be scratched from the list of future suspects for the ALP leadership – he was sensationally forced to resign after a contentious document he had signed concerning staff employment was reconstructed from the shredder by the Greens after he had denied its existence on the floor of the House.

  24. Kevin, I know this is unfair but I can’t resist repeating this: Kons “hardly seems to have a single enemy”.

    Might not have been such a good idea for Kons to acquiesce in his staffer’s sacking … it was his staffer who got the sack for bagging Lennon wasn’t it?

    (I have no evidence of course.)

  25. I see that Huon is indeed a straight match-up between the incumbent and a Green challenger. There’s also a contest in Rosevears, but the challenger (Colin O’Brien) isn’t listed as a Green. Hard name to Google – anyone know anything about him?

  26. I’ve added an update to this post regarding the upper house nominations:

    Following yesterday’s close of nominations for the upper house elections, it has been revealed that two-horse races will proceed in both divisions. In Huon, Paul Harriss will face Greens candidate Mark Rickards, a former Royal Australian Navy officer and candidate for Franklin at the 2006 state election. Kerry Finch faces a challenge in Rosevears from independent Colin O’Brien, who would appear to be the proprietor of a bed and breakfast at Legana just outside of Launceston.

    Newspaper archive searches on O’Brien have drawn a blank.

  27. Feral Sparrowhawk

    If you put speech marks around the name and add “Launceston” you get hits from a guy who seems to run a maintenance business, which fits with his occupation description on the TEC site. If it is the same Colin O’Brien it seems that his business was at some point based in Dilston on the other side of the Tamar to the seat of Rosevears (Dilston is in Windemere).

    Check out the Launceston Examiner site tomorrow and there’s likely to be something, I suspect.

  28. #32 – interesting; now that you mention it, the guy sacked a few weeks ago for writing to the Premier was indeed Kons’ staffer. So far I have not seen any link drawn publicly between that sacking and the document affair; perhaps the Premier’s current attempts to get to the bottom of how the document came to be available may look in that direction.

    Re #35, I also found the business you mention, but I also found there are two C O’Briens in Legana in the phonebook, so I am wary of assuming it’s the same person. Anyway, given that he is the sole challenger to a sitting member he seems extremely obscure; I certainly haven’t heard of him!

    This online in the Examiner: “has worked in banking and in the tourism and landscaping business”, aged 46, ran “to give voters a choice”.

    “Mr O’Brien said he had issues about the approval process of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill but believed the decision had to be accepted so people could move forward.”

    More at http://northerntasmania.yourguide.com.au/news/breaking/general/finch-faces-a-challenge-for-his-legislative-council-seat/1221689.html

  29. Can’t claim it was an original thought – I got that guess from comments on the Mercury website I think. It definitely wasn’t a good idea to sack him!

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