Pembroke by-election live

Tuesday, August 11

The preference distribution has been completed. Goodwin has been elected on the sixth count with 10,143 votes (51.1 per cent), with independent Richard James in second place on 5510 (27.7 per cent) and Greens candidate Wendy Heatley in third on 4125 (21.2 per cent). Goodwin’s final two-candidate margin over James will never been known, but is probably about 10 per cent. Here’s the piece I wrote for Crikey last week:

Tasmania experienced what might have been an Australian electoral first on Saturday: a by-election at which the incumbent party didn’t have the bottle to contest its own seat. Spooked by the circumstances of sitting member Allison Ritchie’s departure, state Labor calculated that a forfeit in the eastern Hobart upper house district of Pembroke would be less humiliating than a defeat. While the scattered vote among eight candidates leaves a lot of preference counting to be done, it’s clear the seat will go to Liberal candidate Vanessa Goodwin, a Hobart criminologist who had previously performed well at state and federal elections without quite bringing home the prize.

Labor’s calculation that the absence of its own candidate might muddy the waters in favour of a friendly independent proved badly misplaced. The field included two independents identifiable with the Labor cause: Honey Bacon, widow of former Premier Jim Bacon, and James Crotty, a left-winger considered to be the front-runner for a Labor preselection which never eventuated. Both woefully under-performed despite considerable pre-election publicity, failing to poll 20 per cent between them, while Goodwin easily headed the field with 38.5 per cent.

Goodwin will become only the second endorsed Liberal candidate to win a seat in the history of the Legislative Council, owing to a peculiar set of electoral rules which are so encouraging to independents (conservative ones in particular, due to the concentration of Liberal support in rural areas) that the party has long felt its interests are best served by keeping above the fray. The decision to break from tradition by fielding Goodwin, who had been lined up for a second tilt in the five-member lower house division of Franklin, represented a bold challenge by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to David Bartlett’s government, which is due to seek a fourth four-year term in March.

As well as demonstrating Hodgman’s tactical nous, Goodwin’s success boosts the Liberal cause in terms of morale, fundraising potential and parliamentary talent, providing a capable addition to an Opposition which has had the same seven-member line-up since the 2002 election disaster. The result also suggests Labor has next to no chance of again returning three members in Franklin, which it only narrowly succeeded in doing in 2006. Two of the three then elected, Paula Wriedt and former Premier Paul Lennon, have since left parliament, leaving low-profile neophytes to defend the seats. One more loss on top of Franklin would cost Labor its majority, returning the Greens to a balance-of-power position they have not enjoyed since the major parties sought to nobble them by reducing the size of parliament in 1998.

Monday, August 3

I have an article on the by-election, probably subscriber only, in today’s Crikey. Acres of detail from Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, while Antony Green looks at the bigger picture.

Saturday, August 1

Please note that these figures are not being updated beyond election night.

# % PROJ.
Vanessa Goodwin 7134 38.5% LIB 38.5%
Honey Bacon 1848 10.0% IND ALP 19.1%
James Crotty 1681 9.1%
Wendy Heatley 2414 12.7% GRN 12.7%
Peter Cooper 1407 7.6% OTH 29.7%
Richard James 2117 11.4%
John Peers 1751 9.4%
Kit (Sharon) Soo 201 1.1%
100.0% of booth count conducted
75.2% of enrolled voters counted

8.49pm. 2007 more pre-polls have been added, and like the first batch they’ve gone over 40 per cent to Goodwin. Please note that my projections in the above table are no longer telling you anything useful now that all the booth votes are in.

7.41pm. Fair bit of local variation for informed locals to chew on. John Peers evidently has a lot of fans in the Bligh area, where his 21.0 per cent was over double his vote just about everywhere else. His support there clearly came at the expense of Goodwin, who recorded easily her worst result there. Her other weak booths were strongly Labor Risdon Vale and to a lesser extent Warrane, which provided a pocket of support for Honey Bacon who had her second best result after Risdon Vale.

7.34pm. Goodwin has saved the best till last, Tranmere giving her 49 per cent. The booth vote is now completed.

7.30pm. Excellent results as expected for Goodwin from Lindisfarne and Bellerive, about 40 per cent in each.

7.27pm. The three outstanding booths, Bellerive, Lindsfarne and Tranmere, were the weakest three of all for Labor at the 2007 federal election, hence the disparity between my projection for Bacon plus Crotty and the current total.

7.24pm. Large Howrah booth is Goodwin’s best yet, with 42.3 per cent.

7.21pm. Loatta Road ditto, and a particular poor result for Bacon and Crotty.

7.19pm. Biggest booth yet, Geilston Bay, is another strong result for Goodwin.

7.18pm. Warrane in, another strong result for Goodwin.

7.15pm. Bligh and Risdon Vale are less good for Goodwin, but Montagu Bay continues the trend. The result is no less beyond doubt.

7.10pm. Antony Green pretty much calling it for Goodwin as well.

7.05pm. Wentworth Street booth confirms the trend, and even at this early stage I’d say Goodwin’s lead is unassailable, given the size of the gap between her and her nearest rival, the poor show by Crotty and Bacon, and the tendency of preferences in these elections to a) spray all over the place due to the fact that how to vote cards aren’t allowed, and b) to a lesser extent exhaust due to the fact that voters only have to number three boxes.

6.50pm. 377 pre-polls provide further evidence that Goodwin is looking at an unassailable 40 per cent of the primary vote, and that Bacon and Crotty are doing less well than I expected.

6.45pm. The first booth to report is a normally very strong one for Labor – Mornington – and it’s given Vanessa Goodwin a very strong 34 per cent, and weak results for Bacon and Crotty.

6.33pm. Note the low Greens vote (6.9 per cent) from the mobile count, from an electorate that went about 16 per cent Greens at the last state election and 11 per cent at the last federal, suggesting it’s a conservative sample.

6.25pm. 131 mobile booth votes added, looking encouraging for Vanessa Goodwin, but perhaps these are old people’s homes and such. Still tinkering with my table. When booth results come in, it will show “projected” total votes for Liberal, independent Labor (Honey plus Crotty), the Greens and the others combined, based on swings compared with the 2006 election. I don’t make any guarantees about how good the predictive power this will be.

6.00pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live count of the by-election for the Tasmanian upper house district of Pembroke. There being no small rural booths, I’d say the first results should be in in about 45 minutes. The Electoral Commission’s results should, I guess, be appearing somewhere around here. I’ll hopefully have a table up soon in which numbers will be crunched, but if you find Antony Green more trustworthy he will be doing much the same here.

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.

93 comments on “Pembroke by-election live”

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  1. Antony mentions the prospect of Goodwin recieving a shadow portfolio.
    With her qualifications and experience in police work, would Police Shadow Ministry suit? It’s currently Rene Hidding’s responsibility according to the Libs Website, and from recent media articles he does a pretty good job with this portfolio, will be interesting to see how it pans out.

  2. Re the Green vote, it is what I expected it to be. The area is pretty average for the Greens by Tasmanian standards and the large field would have knocked them down a little bit. However the abysmal performance of the Labor-ish candidates appears to have given them an unexpected second place and that will give them quite a boost.

    I think the hard bit for Labor is going to be working out exactly what the result is saying. Crotty is on the Green fringe of the party and Bacon ran a slack and unconvincing campaign so are voters rejecting the party or did they just decide there were really no adequate Labor candidates in the race?

    [I’d say we’re looking at a two-candidate preferred vote for Goodwin of a bit under 60 per cent (although we may never know because they don’t proceed with preference distributions after a candidate reaches 50 per cent).]

    It could be even higher than 60 depending on what order they got eliminated in. A shame they don’t go all the way – I think Goodwin will be over on about the fourth exclusion.

  3. My theory is that Hobart voters might vote for a major party candidate at an LC election, but regional ones won’t. Since Hobart is a Labor town, this will usually mean that only Labor will win seats there, but the Liberals will be able to do so when conditions are right.

  4. Yes, I certainly didn’t take the idea that voters would not vote for Goodwin because she was a party candidate very seriously in the leadup to this one. Some of the CCC candidates tried to stress it but there is a long history of independent candidates in the Hobart area bashing that theme without success.

  5. Postals added.

    “Rechecked first preference figures to be provided by 4PM on Sunday.

    With almost 500 votes still to be returned a provisional distribution of preferences will not be conducted until mid-week.”

  6. “Governments often don’t contest by-elections…?”

    In seats they already hold, they do, even when facing defeat. Eg: NSW Labor contesting Ryde last year, even though they knew they were going to get squashed.

    Although I’m not sure how contesting the seat and polling 20% would have been any better for them, at least Tassie Labor could have made a stand.

  7. [Although I’m not sure how contesting the seat and polling 20% would have been any better for them, at least Tassie Labor could have made a stand.]

    A party almost always doesn’t do as well if they don’t have an officially endorsed candidate.

  8. [Serves Tas Labor right. Such cowardice deserves defeat.]

    Couldn’t agree more. I think Bartlett has every reason to be worried. Goodwin deserves to be in Parliament, though I would have preferred her to be in the lower house. She’s a quality candidate, and we have few of those in either major party.

  9. To abandon Labor voters in an area which is usually pretty good Labor territory, to surrender in the face of the enemy like this, is absolutely criminal. Whoever decided this should be sacked, by federal intervention if need be.

  10. I don’t know what I’m happier about? Honey Bacon getting what she deserved or the Greens losing.

    Oh, really I do, Honey was simply misguided, The Greens are dangerous sociopaths so thanks to the voters of Penbroke for that slight swing against the Greens!

  11. Joel B1! As i am not a Tasmanian could you please explain why you critise Honey Beacon?

    I know the following cases are different but the Pembrook result appears similar to the recent Norwich North by-election when a popular local Labour MP was disendorsed after being fired by the Labour Party over the expense scandel only to quit forcing a by-election.

    The Conservatives run with a margin of over 7000 votes this was with a smaller vote than the previous general election.

  12. Mexican beamer.
    I think the when it comes to your comparison the answer is a little. As someone who lives in Pembroke i can say that a big part of the equation is the VERY large amount of money the liberals spent on the election. Most people i spoke to did not have a very favorable opinion of Honey Bacon but had little or even no idea, who James Crotty was. Of course the Murdoch paper did its part as expected by selective information mostly.

    As to Honey bacon i suppose it would be like Bob Carr’s wife running for office maybe and on the opposite side of the city to where they live. The nostalgia has long worn off.

  13. [Oh, really I do, Honey was simply misguided, The Greens are dangerous sociopaths so thanks to the voters of Penbroke for that slight swing against the Greens!]

    a. What rubbish. Honey ran a lacklustre campaign, if you could call it a campaign at all.
    b. It’s PeMbroke
    c. Dangerous sociopaths? They’re the only bastion against the incompetent and/or corrupt MPs of the major parties currently in Parliament.

  14. VERY large amount of money hey? That will be interesting if true. They are only allowed to spend $12,000 on their campaign and they have to provide full details of expenditure. Tasmanian courts have previously overturned election results where too much money was spent. So if the Liberal Partyt spent more than $12,000 dollars on the Pembroke campaign, then they are rank amateurs and political idiots.

    If anyone has proof they spent more than $12,000, just write to the Electoral Commission with your evidence.

  15. I live in Pembroke too, and I saw no evidence of extraordinary spending on Goodwin’s part. Though possibly a greater impression may have been given by many election materials e.g. posters being recycled from Goodwin’s Franklin federal campaign?

    Crotty seemed to me to have spent the most, what with TV spots advertising 90-minute (!) webcasts. It crossed my mind that he must be bumping the $12k ceiling.

  16. The expenditure returns from Windermere were interesting – Whish-Wilson (Green) just short of the $12K and actually suggesting the $12K should be raised as it made it too hard to get rid of the incumbents. Ivan Dean (winning incumbent) spent only $8K. I know nothing about likely expenditure in this one but saw nothing to suggest anyone was likely to be over the limit, though Goodwin did have a campaign office near Eastlands (wonder how that was funded).

    I thought Crotty got plenty of running in the press but he had not much pre-existing profile in the electorate (better known on the other side of the river) and his tactics were never going to work unless he could beat the Greens and get lots of their preferences. Bacon’s campaign was slack and strange and unconvincing; I didn’t want to write her off too stridently because name recognition can be a big thing in Tassie politics. I wouldn’t say the nostalgia has necessarily worn off but at least if it is still there it is subject to reason. Her comments after the election have been bizarrely denialist and if it keeps up like this, she’ll soon be well down the road to political-celebrity freakdom.

  17. I may have gone abit overboard but there definatley seemed to be a fair bit of resources used or maybe used “better”.
    To be fair the resources were probably used efficiently. My point was that Vanessa goodwin was the most visible in my opinion. She was also good at getting free press. I think the case of the symbol that you take a photo with your phone would have been quite cheap but of course there was half a page of free press. It was probably also saying as much about the other campaigns such as Bacon’s as already pointed out.

    It would be interesting to see how much she spent in comparison to the others. with spending i think the limit is abit pointless as it is all relative. One should be careful though at scoffing at the amount of $12 000. I am sure many people would consider that a large amount of money and could even find it slightly offensive to be described as otherwise.

  18. I suspect this is the type of election where candidate quality and name recognition, rather than party or policy, counts for a lot, rather like US Senate elections. Goodwin obviously had this in spades. Not quite as bad for Labor as it looks, but still the Liberals are entitled to be very pleased. Hypothetical scenario: Labor losses its majority at the next election struggles on as a minority government and then the Libs win an early election?

  19. [She was also good at getting free press. I think the case of the symbol that you take a photo with your phone would have been quite cheap but of course there was half a page of free press.]

    Yes; Goodwin worked the media very well continually supplying them with little nibbles that were pretty much invariably reported. (In the case of the phone code there was a huge report in the same issue which gave her enormous free publicity and saved her from needing to pay for a bigger ad to explain what she was doing.) Crotty also got a good run in a similar manner. Honey Bacon failed to work the media in this manner – abysmally. It’s not that hard to do because in this case I got the impression the Mercury would run with just about any little bit of campaign colour that hit their fax machine – unlike local council elections which they often more or less ignore.

    I agree with all of William’s piece in Crikey. I have a post-election analysis up at .

  20. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on Tasmanian politics, but it seems to me that Kevin’s analysis shows that this result is not as bad for Labor as the primary figures suggest. He points out that in traditionally strong Labor booths, habitual Labor voters voted for local councillors they recognised rather than for either the Lib or the Green, because they were not willing to abandon Labor but did not see Bacon or Crotty as being dinkum Labor candidates. Most, though not of course all, of this vote could be expected to come back to Labor in the lower house vote at the state election.

  21. The thing that sticks in my mind about the mercury was that a couple of days before the election they had a swipe at Crotty and Bacon for not living in Pembroke in an article but not mentioning in the article that Goodwin did not either. Didi it change many votes. probably not but was sloppy non the less. But it is good to see the liberals having someone very well qualified to be a future minister which the small Tasmanian parliament often obstructs.

    For the next state election what i see, it seems to indicates in my opinion that a hung parliament looks likely but like all polls is only ever a snapshot in time.

  22. #79

    [He points out that in traditionally strong Labor booths, habitual Labor voters voted for local councillors they recognised rather than for either the Lib or the Green, because they were not willing to abandon Labor but did not see Bacon or Crotty as being dinkum Labor candidates.]

    Mostly. But the gain of five points on primaries Goodwin made on the 2006 state election result appears to have come mostly from Labor voters and also occurred to a degree in three of the four diehard Labor booths (Mornington +7.7, Risdon Vale +5.2, Warrane +4.5 with Bligh -0.2 where Peers almost doubled his vote the exception). I say to a degree because the pool of Labor voters in those booths is of course much larger so the swing to Goodwin in raw terms being similar means a smaller proportion of Labor voters voting for her.

    The question is also whether Labor voters who voted 1 for the “true Independents” then gave preferences to Goodwin as well. Suppose that the votes are considered on a three-candidate-preferred basis (Goodwin-Bacon-Heatley) and Goodwin on that basis has 50%. Then that would indicate that something like a third of Labor Pembroke voters would rather vote for a Liberal, at least on preferences, than vote for Honey Bacon.

    I think that even if that is the case, it isn’t necessarily a disaster for Labor. They can refer to the age-old Tassie tradition of swing-voting between the major parties to support whoever can win majority government, and say that just because their voters voted for Goodwin in this by-election does not mean they will do so in the Lower House where it could create a hung parliament.

    The real issue for Labor is expectation management. If the electorate develops a view that Labor cannot win majority government, then Labor will not win majority government.


    [The thing that sticks in my mind about the mercury was that a couple of days before the election they had a swipe at Crotty and Bacon for not living in Pembroke in an article but not mentioning in the article that Goodwin did not either.]

    Indeed. Goodwin lives outside the electorate but very little was heard about this on the campaign trail. However Goodwin and Crotty at least have legitimate connections with the electorate (Crotty lives near it and commutes through it, Goodwin also lives on the eastern shore in a satellite suburb of the Pembroke area) while the Bacons only briefly lived on the eastern shore and then ran away screaming. Honey Bacon completely failed to demonstrate any remotely convincing connection with the electorate she was campaigning for. I expected it to hurt her to some degree, but I think that it actually hurt her enormously.

    [For the next state election what i see, it seems to indicates in my opinion that a hung parliament looks likely but like all polls is only ever a snapshot in time.]

    I am holding off on whether it makes a hung parliament more likely until the next statewide poll (dodgy as they are) comes out.

  23. Here’s a bit of a sideways thought. Who do the Liberals put second on their ticket in Franklin next year, now that their popular candidate who would’ve romped it in has done so elsewhere? This result’s good for them at the moment, but may turn into a bit of a pain in the arse.

    [ I am holding off on whether it makes a hung parliament more likely until the next statewide poll (dodgy as they are) comes out. ]

    What, those EMRS polls? Hung parliament – Undecided to win a seat in every electorate. 😛

  24. If by Liberals you mean the Liberal Party, they don’t put anybody second. With Robson rotation, there is no second candidated. Mr Hodgman will get well over a quota in his own right and I’d be surprised if any other Liberal candidate got more than 0.2 of a quota.

    At this stage they have three candidates, Mr Hodgman who is from Kingston, David Compton who lives in Bellerive on the eastern shore, and Jillian law from the Huon valley. At this stage I’d guess they’ll pick at least one other local from the eastern shore. There has been considerable talk the Liberals will pre-select Jacquie Petrusma, the former Family First candidate. The Pertrusma name is well-known on Hobart’s eastern shore. If the Party can round up a Goodluck or a Shoobridge as well they will be well positioned.

  25. Although it is not allowed to explicitly designate a #2 candidate in Franklin, the Libs would do well to ensure that a specific unofficial #2 candidate gets lots of media attention, profile and advertising, both to draw a stronger primary vote and to attract and hold preferences during the cutup. Parties that have failed to build a specific candidate up in this manner have repeatedly lost seats they could have won in recent years – Libs in Franklin in 2006, Labor in Bass in both 2002 and 2006. I see that Labor has again endorsed six candidates rather than five for Bass; really not sure what they’re thinking there.

    [What, those EMRS polls? Hung parliament – Undecided to win a seat in every electorate.]

    Indeed; translating EMRS polls into some idea of what might actually happen is exceedingly challenging, especially mid-term.

  26. Distribution on now at

    Soo, Cooper, Crotty all excluded already. From these three exclusions James has gained just 56 votes on Goodwin and Bacon just 35 while Heatley has, unsurprisingly, gone backwards. Peers gained the most but has failed to catch Bacon by 19 votes and therefore should be out next, although I do not know if the number of votes outstanding has any potential to alter this outcome.

    James should move well ahead of Heatley into second place on Peers’ preferences. It is unclear whether Bacon can catch Heatley and cause Heatley to be eliminated. I think Goodwin will cross on the fifth exclusion although this isn’t absolutely certain, it just might still go to the sixth exclusion if she is slow off Bacon or Heatley.

  27. Ah, the problems of provisional distributions of preferences. They’ve had to abandon the count until next week as the return of postal vote period is not over, and the gap between Bacon and Peers in only 19 votes with potentially 117 votes outstanding. They’ll start again next Tuesday.

  28. Yes, this happened in this seat last time too, when Smith eventually beat Zucco for third by what turned out to be two votes.

    I do hope nobody gets too carried away by the declaration that “it is still mathematically possible for any of five candidates to win the by-election”.

  29. Vanessa Goodwin has been elected. I would be interested to know how many other holders of a PhD have ever served in the Legislative Council. Not many is my guess.

    The dribble of postal votes had little impact on Peers vs Bacon so Peers was out. As I expected Bacon almost caught Heatley but failed, falling 45 votes short. Goodwin then crossed the line on Bacon’s distribution thus upholding my prediction that it wouldn’t go to the last exclusion.

    On a 3CP basis Goodwin had 51.3%, James 27.9, Heatley 21.3. Since Bacon got excluded we do not get to see a Lib/Green/ALP-ish 3CP.

    Compare Pembroke 2007 Ritchie 51.5 James 31.1 Smith 17.4. Not quite the same but very similar.

    2CP Goodwin over James would have been about 59-41 or 60-40.

  30. And on the exclusion of Cooper, Crotty, Peers and Bacon, the candidate that received the least preferences each time was the Green. It’s the trend in Tasmanian politics that has been going for two decades, the Green vote remains solid, but the rest of the electorate avoids the Greens.

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