EMRS: 41-35 to Liberal in Tasmania

Hot on the heels of their Pembroke by-election win, the latest EMRS poll provides a further shot in the arm for the Tasmanian Liberals. The survey of 864 voters finds them ahead of Labor for the first time since David Bartlett replaced Paul Lennon as Premier in May 2008. The Liberals are up five points to 41 per cent, while Labor have crashed eight to 35 per cent. The Greens have also benefited from Labor’s collapse, up four points to 21 per cent. The news from the preferred premier ratings is even better for the Liberals: Will Hogdman is up six points to 37 per cent, taking the lead for the first time from Bartlett who is down nine to 30 per cent. Greens leader Nick McKim is up two to 15 per cent. Electorate breakdowns are also provided, for those willing to take such small sample sizes seriously. Much more from Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics.

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.

153 comments on “EMRS: 41-35 to Liberal in Tasmania”

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  1. In the leadup to the 2006 election I flagged the possibility that if that election produced a hung parliament, the major parties might agree to a temporary grand coalition that would reform the electoral system to something more likely to produce majority government, then obtain a fresh election under the new system.

    Charles Richardson criticised this concept pointing out that the Liberals would be utterly suicidal to agree to it since on anything remotely resembling 2002 figures the Liberals would be annihilated in a single-seat system. Twenty-five single seats might easily have gone something like 23 Labor, 2 Green.

    However, firstly, there are other ways of making majority government more likely without going all the way to 25 single-member seats, and secondly the great disparity between the parties at the 2002 and 2006 elections was largely a product of the way Tasmanians jump between the major parties. That jumping is itself a product of the high chance of minority government and under a system that did not so readily produce minority governments, it’s likely the often artificially wide gap between the parties would narrow. Maybe given the shape the Libs were in in 2006 they still would have been caned, but they would be much more competitive now.

    Tasmania’s “upside down” system is disfunctional in my view. If the Upper House is supposed to act in a watchdog role then it makes sense to have the system conducive to majority government in the Lower House and the system conducive to balance of power upstairs. In Tasmania the Lower House electoral system restrains runaway majority government by making it unlikely to happen unless that’s what the people really want, but the Upper House then exists as a further check on Lower House excesses. Both that expectation of Upper House members, and the rotation of elections for Upper House seats, make it very common for Legislative Councillors to be of unknown politics to most of those voting for them. They often get elected on community connections and profile rather than policies. In my view this is a recipe for unaccountable decision-making (and especially unaccountable obstruction as was often seen in the none-too-distant past). I actually have more problems with the ideologically opaque nature of the Legislative Council than with the instability potential of the Lower House.

    One great merit of Hare-Clark is that it is supposed to fairly and proportionally represent public opinion. But specifically because it does that, it creates a high inherent risk of minority government, which in turn causes some voters to cast their vote based on avoiding a hung parliament rather than necessarily for the major party they would otherwise prefer. If PR is routed around so readily, is it really worth sticking up for at all? An alternative is to look for systems that still allow significant minorities (such as the Greens) to have some Lower House representation, but that are not strictly proportional, and that directly reduce the chance of hung parliaments occurring.

  2. At the end of the 19th century, the Victorian Legislative Assembly consisted of 73 single member districts and 11 2-member districts.

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