EMRS: 40-38 to Labor in Tasmania

The latest EMRS survey of Tasmanian state voting intention shows a recovery for Labor following the disastrous poll in May which immediately preceded Paul Lennon’s resignation as Premier. Excluding the considerable 14 per cent undecided from the sample of 1000, the poll shows Labor on 40 per cent, Liberal on 38 per cent and the Greens on 19 per cent – respectively up 7 per cent, down 4 per cent and down 2 per cent. New Premier David Bartlett leads Opposition Leader Will Hodgman 40 per cent to 33 per cent as preferred leader, respectively down 6 per cent and up 1 per cent since a poll conducted in June which canvassed leadership preference only. New Greens leader Nick McKim was favoured by 12 per cent of respondents.

UPDATE: Peter Tucker weighs in on the poll and Antony Green discusses moves towards four-year terms, which as currently proposed might entrench a permanent quadrennial clash with South Australian elections on the third Saturday in March. Both also discuss talk of an early Tasmanian election.

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.

31 comments on “EMRS: 40-38 to Labor in Tasmania”

  1. Like all pollsters, EMRS asks first about voting intention and then asks the undecided who they would lean towards. Unlike other pollsters, they provide the answer to the first question in a first table, then the first plus second in a second table, and then the first plus second with the undecided excluded in a third table. The Mercury article a) uses the first table when they would be better off with the third, and b) says “one-quarters of voters are undecided” by which they mean 23 per cent.

  2. Thanks William , just saw it myself on EMS link you supplied !

    You ar quite correct , there first table is meaningless , whilst yours on 3rd table is politcaly logical

  3. Isn’t it refreshing to get the full voting intentions, without having to dig past the 2PP Club.
    Good on EMRS and William.

  4. Antony

    Very intersting article on fixed terms and electon clashes

    Firstly on latest poll , labor would generaly be regarded as winning comfortably at 55% @PP + under that Poll (if no negative preferencing by minor parties and assuming a mainland state election formula) What is your feel under Tas clarke system of result if electon was indeed held now based on that poll , and does this poll reely help analysis given that factor

    On date clashes , as both electons were held on 18th March last time it is natural for Tasmanians when proposing 4 years terms to take it 4 years from actual last election date , otherwise Tasmanian politcans would hav had to propose burying State pride to change there date from SA and risk media/electoral criticism This I suspect was there pety thinking in lieu of taking a broader Democracy view of having separate dates (and you probably were on there mind as well)

    So I am perhaps suggesting cynicism by each Party of keeping a more thorough National scrutiny of each Party’s activities from National media may hav simply been an unintendd ‘bonus’ to them of there decison

    On fixed terms and your mention that under proposed fixed terms Liberals draft , it efectively allows oppositions to dictate early electon dates for minority Govts , rather than by government itself ,(with reverse applying to curent non fixed terms legislaton) , would not a current minority Govt under curent legislation be still be able to be forced to Polls at oppositions chosing date via ‘no confidence motion’ on Supply in lower house (ala 1975 via GG) or does not that situation apply there

  5. I think it’s a little complex to get into what is meant by a ‘no confidence motion’. Apart from a motion which amends the appropriation, or a vote on the adjournment, a government can survive any parliamentary defeat it suffers as long as it is prepared to wear the defeat.

    Yes, with fixed terms, it sort of makes no difference to the ability of opposition parties to bring down a government. The big change is to the ability of a government to call an early election at a time of its own choosing. Whoever is on the cross-benches would have more power to make a government dance under fixed terms where the government can’t get an early election, than under the current system where the government can always pull the plug.

    That’s what Tony Rundle did in 1998, decided to cut the Greens adrift, do a deal with Labor on cutting the size of Parliament, and go to an early election. He viewed it as the best chance the Liberals had of getting back. Even under a fixed term, that deal could have gone ahead by Labor and the Liberals agreeing on a vote of no confidence to bring on an early election.

    I don’t think fixed term parliaments will prevent early elections, it will just make the mechanics of getting the early election more time consuming.

  6. Re the possible date clash with SA under fixed terms, I suspect one reason the third Saturday in March is being suggested rather than the second is that the second weekend in March is a long weekend in Tasmania and holding an election on a long weekend is a dubious idea since people are more likely to travel. But as to why not hold it the first Saturday or the fourth, or indeed in another month altogether, I don’t know.

    As for the latest EMRS poll, I have discussed the defects of these polls at length in the past – primarily there is the extremely high undecided vote (most of whom historically appear to be soft Labor voters, but we don’t know for sure that is always what they are) and also there is a tendency to slightly overstate the Green vote even if you assume that no undecideds will vote Green. As a guide to the result of a hypothetical election, EMRS polls taken anything more than a few months out are close to useless, except to the extent that you can compare them with each other and say that one party is improving or isn’t improving over time. The current results are little different to some recorded during the Lennon Government’s first term, and those results were recorded by a government that almost increased its majority.

  7. That would be an intersting development William , in order to re-establish and achieve an early electon option back for a Government !

    Thanks for your answer Antony , yes it was ‘amendment/denial’ of an Appropriation Bill I had in mind in earlier post So it appears that a minority State Government as I suggested could still be forsed to an Electon using this mechanism under curent Legislation as “Opposition” Partys own choosing , whereas under proposed fixed term legislaton it would appear an “Opposition” only needs I assume to win a motion of ‘no confidence’ of House (“Opposition meaning enough non govt Partys to give a majoritey in House)

    If so , this would allow any Bill an opposition chooses to pick on to be ‘trigger’ at any time for an electon , by a defeating it followed by a ‘no confidence’ motion , as opposed to appropriation Bills that hav more certainty as to when introduced , and number of them

    This seems a massive polical advantage for “Oppositions” , whilst removing Govt’s option (except as per William intimated)

    I suport fixed term Electons for all th usual reasons people advance , but wonder as to whether to avoid above undue “Opposition” Partys advantage undr proposed fixed terms legislation , that a clause be inserted to annul that advantage and simply re-instate just th curent ‘Opposition’ Partys sole option of forcing an electon via GG of denial of supply (and let govt of day ‘waer any other defeats of Bills that may occur on floor of House

    I particularley raise this as it seems on on curent Poll (and accepting its defects in undesided as Kevin has said plus MOE factor ) that using this EMS Poll using ‘Clark’ system that perhaps Labor may end up with 2 to 4 seat advantage over Liberals , with Greens a fair chance of getting a 5th seat giving them power ‘balance’ in House , and potential for above ‘early electon trigger’ to be live under proposed fixed terms legislation

  8. Whilst I realise that these polls in the small states and territories are all very fascinating and I concede that state and territory governments do have wide-ish powers, in three weeks in NSW we are going to have many races in the local government elections that are comparable in the numbers enrolled in the smaller jurisdictions and are also fascinating and important for many reasons. Are they going to be ignored?

  9. Thanks for that steve. That confirms Schroeder as a precedent then.

    Canada was different though. There was no trickery on the part of the ruling party; just a minority government mired in scandal. Canada already has flexible terms, but an election was exactly what Martin didn’t want.

  10. Technically, in the constitutional turmoil of 1975, Malcolm Fraser called a no-confidence motion against his own government.

    This arose from the fact that Fraser called the no-confidence motion AFTER the GG had already dismissed Whitlam and appointed Fraser the caretaker PM. As such, when the Labor MPs voted down the motion of no-confidence, they were (by accident) voting for Fraser rather than Whitlam.

    Of course, all of this happened in exceptional circumstances, so it’s not the best example.

  11. Neither technically nor in any other sense is your account correct, Swing Lowe. Fraser moved no no-confidence motion. The Labor majority in the House of Representatives carried a motion of no-confidence in Fraser’s government, but Kerr ignored it.

  12. No Swing Lowe. Technically the 1975 election was called because Fraser asked for it having been appointed PM.

    House of Reps practice states “On 11 November 1975 immediately following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government, the newly appointed caretaker Fraser government was defeated on a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Fraser but within the next hour and a half both houses were dissolved and the resolution of the house could not be acted on.”

    The vote of no confidence was in Fraser and Labor and Coalition MPs voted correctly and as expected.

  13. Having read the article by Imre in the OO on the NSW Newspoll he describes the 2% improvement in Labor’s vote as being insignificant. I wonder if Shanahan would agree.
    I’m surprised that the 2PP is 48 -52. That is still reasonably close given all the difficulties the government has faced.
    Also the better Premier is still relatively close. Barry should be a mile ahead not 6 points. A very large undecided on this question too 29%.
    I think Labor should do a Tasmania and change leaders. Labor could come back into the game in NSW, these figures are not exactly an indication that the opposition are viewed with love and affection.

  14. Labor’s 48% 2PP in NSW is imaginary. At 33% primary vote, Labor can’t win under optional preferential voting. There will be 25-30 seats that will not finish as Labor versus coalition contests. On those primary votes, the Coalition will win easily because Labor will be fighting wildfires in its own safe seats against Green and Independents.

    2PP analysis only works when then are two clear major parties in the overwhelming majority of seats. If minor party vote gets above 25%, you get too many seats where a major party candidate is eliminated, so you can’t get a statewide 2PP whioch is anything other than a book-keeping entry that allows you to order seats. This is even more the case where optional preferential voting is used, as in NSW.

  15. There were two early elections in Germany. One was in the early 1980s, when the Liberals Democrats left Schmidt’s Coalition and joined Kohl. There was general agreement to bring on an early election to justify that change. The second was two years ago when Schroeder brought forward the election. He only had a narrow majority, and a string of Lander election defeats had changed the composition of the upper house making it impossible to do anything in government without opposition support. After agreement across the parties, the motions were put that brought forward the election.

  16. steve,

    I think you’re missing the point.

    The question was when has a govt voted against itself.

    The Martin govt survived the first no-confidence motion thanks to Belinda Stronach’s defection, but lost the second when the NDP withdrew their support. In neither case did the ruling Liberal Party vote against themselves!

  17. Well i simply return to my #12 post suggestion , that proposed Tas fixed terms legisalton ahould NOT hav that “no confdience optiion to allow an “opposition” group of Partys with numbers , to forse an electon at its politcal choosing

    After all , under those proposed fixed terms proposals , ruling govt already loses its option to call an early electon (a power it forsakes by moving from non fixed terms)

    Surely simply replacing any ‘no confidence motion’ with only a successful ‘denial of Supply’ motion as a early e;ecton trigger , would diminish worst of such abuses of ‘no confidense motion’ option in hands of an “opposition” group of Partys with numbers

  18. Ron, there’s actually no such thing as a no confidence motion that can automatically bring down a government. Only blockage of supply can do this, and the fixed term parliament bill acknowledges the special state of the supply bill, with blockage automatically causing an election.

    If the opposition had the numbers to constantly pass votes of no confidence, they would actually be in government. What we have seen in past periods of minority government is the Greens on the cross bench combine with the opposition to defeat the government on specific legislation or motions, but when business moves on to other matters, the opposition and the cross bench did not agree on bringing down the government.

    The non-definitive nature of votes of no confidence is recognised in the fixed term legislation by stating that if such a motion is passed, there are 8 days allowed in which a vote of confidence in either the existing ministry or a new ministry must be passed. If a confidence motion is not passed, then the mechanics of an early election begin. This is very similar to the baton change provisions in other states where fixed terms have been introduced. It is what might be termed a positive vote of no confidence, where you can’t bring down an existing government and get an election without first going through process of working out if the existing parliament contains a ministry prepared to serve and with the confidence of the majority of the House.

    e.g. NSW Premier Nick Greiner’s resignation was partly forced because the Independents made it clear they were prepared to go through this process if Greiner stayed as Premier. By switching to John Fahey, the crisis with the cross benches was resolved. The government knew Labor would avoid taking office, so the Liberals were faced with changing Leader or being forced to an election they couldn’t win.

    If two opposition parties in parliament agree to pass a vote of no confidence, they either have to be agreed to carry through and appoint a new government, or agree to carry through and force a new election. But after the passage of the first vote, the two opposition parties may part company. As occurred in the Field government, the Greens would continue to the point where Field would change his ministry or make some change to policy, but then would desert Liberal attempts to try and force an election. Field was always sure that the Greens weren’t going to force an election if it was going to make Robin Gray Premier again. Once Ray Groom took over as Liberal leader, Field called the election at once in the hope of catching the Liberals unprepared.

    It is Field’s snap election which is specifically prevented by fixed term legislation. But the fixed term bill includes a formal provision for a baton change, and it would take a positive action by the majority of parliament to get an early election. In a hung parliament with an opposition consisting of more than one party, the two parties may not necassarily be of a single mind on the wanted outcome of a baton change vote. The opposition could force an early election. The government and one opposition party could force an early election. But in both cases, a majority of the parliament would have to be of a mind to force an early election.

    Any balance of power party like the Greens would well know that holding the balance of power for a minority government is a better position to be in than forcing an early election that would deliver majority government to the opposition. That’s why Tony Rundle cut a deal with Labor in 1998 to shrink the House of Assembly and call an early election. Common purpose of the two bigger parties to try and wipe out the Greens, putting both parties on the same playing field in the race for majority government.

    You can look at the provions in Hodgman’s bill at: http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/bills/pdf/10_of_2008.pdf
    Section 7 has the baton change provisions, though Section 8 appears to be misdrafted in refering to Section 2 instead of 7.

  19. Antony

    thanks for that further clarification and time you sppent on it , it seems th change is

    1/ to remove a ‘minority’ (less than 50%) Government’s option to call an early election acting alone by itself , AND

    2/ to remove a ‘majority’ (over 50%) Goverment’s option to call an early election …(UNLESS Hodgeman’s Legislation allows a ‘majority’ (50% plus) Government to call for th vote and then vote against itself !! AND THEN pretend to say during ‘baton change’ period they do not wish to ‘form’ a new “coalition” Government amongst its own 50% plus members thereby making early electon option ‘live’ , BUT I could not find this option in Hodgeman’s draft)

    3/ Implication I got Antony from one of your examples , was a minority Govt acting compliantly with one opposition Party to get over 50% of th House , could forse th “baton change” change provisions , and therefore possible early electon being made ‘live’ (if they were in ‘prior disagreement’ over forming a ‘coalition’ majority Govt …IF I’ve understood that to be case , then presume Hodgeman’s proposed Legislaton does actualy provide for point 2/ option

    4/ to allow a ‘majority’ of House members from th ‘opposition’ Partys to forse an early electon if they hav a mind to in advance , after going thru ‘baton change’ and deciding they do not wish to form a ‘coalition’ Government

    Certainly it makes ‘cynical ‘early elections being called by majority (50% plus) Govt of day impossible (subject to 2/ and 3/ , and even if they ar operable , still more politcally difficult than is present case)

    My interest here Antony , is because indeed I assume Labor will win most ‘seats’ , but may not hav 50% plus , thereby making above ‘live’ status in next parliament a possibility Must say that Tas election system has capacity to throw up ‘minority Govt’s , which does diminish somewhat some of benefits of stability & long term policy planing that fixed terms legislation provides in mailand States , where ‘minority’ Govt’s ar less likely , making above options for ‘oppositions’ less likely & leading more likely to fixed terms overall objectives

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