EMRS has kicked off the Tasmanian election campaign with a poll showing a remarkable surge in support for the Greens, who after distribution of the undecided are only four points behind Labor. Labor are down two points on their already weak showing in November to 31 per cent, but the Liberals are also down five to 39 per cent. The Greens are up six points to 27 per cent. If reflected on March 20, which I personally wouldn’t put money on, the result would probably be 19 seats evenly divided between the majors and six for the Greens. The number of respondents was 867, for a margin of error of about 3.3 per cent.
138 comments on “EMRS: 39-31 to Liberal in Tasmania”
[whether it would be better for the majors than being forced to form a coalition with the Greens]
Well, why not indeed? The policies of the two majors – especially in Tasmania given their respective extra-parliamentary coalitions with Gunns – are very close; much closer than either major’s policies are to the Greens.
A grand coalition would be a logical conclusion to the move to the right by Labor over recent decades around Australia. It is symbolic of the centrist duopoly situation nationally – the only reason the possibility arises is because of the Hare-Clark system in Tassie. Most interesting. One thing for sure, a grand coalition of the big 2 would increase the Green vote exponentially.
So what exactly is stopping Lib/Lab from legislating single-member electorates, in the same way they reduced the size of the multi-member house?
[So what exactly is stopping Lib/Lab from legislating single-member electorates, in the same way they reduced the size of the multi-member house?]
Nothing if they do it far enough in advance. Obviously too late for this one.
In the leadup to the 2006 election I flagged that if there was a hung parliament then Labor and Liberal could just go back into the house, pass a motion for reform to single seats, get that through the Upper House, tell the governor neither of them would govern or support a Green government and obtain a fresh election. Goodbye Hare-Clark.
Peter Tucker picked up on this suggestion by me in a bit in Crikey and we were immediately shot down by Charles Richardson pointing out that if you applied the 2002 figures and had 25 single-member electorates the Liberals wouldn’t have actually won any of them, it would have been something like 23-24 Labor 1-2 Green. Therefore it would have seemed suicidal for the Libs to comply with any such reform, when they could instead keep their 7 seats out of 25 in the existing house.
But a part of the reason for the massive margin at the 2002 election was the Tasmanian Hare-Clark feature that Antony has been particularly good on in his recent articles: the way the swinging voters jump to the party that looks like winning a majority. In a single seat system they don’t need to do that since there will probably be a majority one way or the other whatever happens. Therefore, even with Liberals as abjectly hopeless as the Tassie lot were in 2002 it’s unlikely you’d get a 52-27 result between the majors.
I think the new bunch of leaders are sufficiently different to those of the past that they will at least have a go at governing under the existing system. But when it comes time to implement an increase in the size of the House (which I suspect will occur sooner or later) it will be interesting to see if they go for adding 10 extra single member seats to make majority government more likely, rather than reverting to the old 5×7.
[It is even possible that in the Hobart-based electorate of Denison, the Greens will out-poll both major parties.]
No-one was flagging this as remotely possible until EMRS’s miniscule sample claimed it was. Since that sample, gullible reporters in the MSM have been all over that 40% Greens in Denison figure.
EMRS’s electorate breakdown for Denison in the leadup to 2006 had the Greens on 36. What they actually polled: 24.
Credit where credit is due. Your party loyalist super-spin gems after Garrett’s demotion must figure in the finals of the PB “Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf Award” this year. Even the former Iraqi Information Minister himself rarely matched on behalf of his masters proud denialism as triumphant as this:
“It sounds to me like a sharing of the load.”
“By still being in cabinet doesn’t that show he has done nothing wrong?”
Absolute crackers, both of them. I can’t see anyone else coming close. 😆
104 Apologies – wrong thread – over we go …
[But when it comes time to implement an increase in the size of the House (which I suspect will occur sooner or later) it will be interesting to see if they go for adding 10 extra single member seats to make majority government more likely, rather than reverting to the old 5×7.]
Yes, just as with the sytem in the house of Reps, where there is no need for a referendum to move to PR , there is no requirement in the Tasmanian Constitution Act to have a referendum to change to a single member district system. A simple majority in both houses will do. Although sucha change could meet with some opposition among the voters, it having been a unique Tasmanian system for over 100 years.
They should go back to the original 7 members in each district though.
Would the Legislative Council support such a cynical move?
[Would the Legislative Council support such a cynical move?]
To vote for single member districts? I certainly hope not. Tassie is one of the models to hold out to the rest of the country as to the advantages of PR in lower houses.
One of the things the Greens should aim for in any government deal is an agreement to entrench Hare-Clerk with a provision to require a vote to the people in order to revert back to a single member electorate system.
[the Greens should aim for in any government deal is an agreement to entrench Hare-Clerk with a provision to require a vote to the people in order to revert back]
Excellent suggestion. I assume they’ve thought of it given the big party outrage reducing the number of members in 1998. I don’t think the Constitution Act needs a referendum to be amended at this point, so that referendum requirement should be easy to add.
Here’s the relevant bit from the Tas parliament site:
[The Tasmanian Constitution Act does not provide for referendums of the people before changes can be made. A simple majority vote in both Houses can effect change, except in the term of the House of Assembly. To alter this entrenched provision a two-thirds majority is required in the House of Assembly.]
Yes, any provision relating to the constitution, powers or procedures of a state parliament can be entrenched in such a way that a special requirement is needed in order to amend it (for instance a two-thirds majority vote rather than a simple majority; a successful referendum etc.). A two-thirds majority in my view because the two major parties can conspire in their own self-interest. The Greens should attempt to entrench as much as they can relating to the powers and constitution of the Tasmanian Parliament by requiring referendums of the people to change them.
I hadn’t realised how regressive the 1998 change was. For 142 years the size of the Assembly had ranged between 30 and 38 members. In one go it dropped to 25.
Over that century and a half the combined size of the two houses of parliament ranged from 45 to 57. In 1998 the attempted ‘gerrymander’ dropped the total number of representatives to 40 – the ALP’s model (the Libs model had 44 members)
And that was one year after a referendum on reducing the size of parliament failed(it which wasn’t necessary to make the change – so they did it anyway! Breathtaking.
That has to be fixed. I hope the Greens have the power to get it done after the election.
The 1998 rort, stripping back 7 members per electorate to 5, meant that the quota went up from 12.5% to 16.7% – around 2,000 more votes. That was the essence of the big parties’ sneaky plan to reduce the Greens’ numbers.
It worked. At the 1998 election the only Green elected was Peg Putt was the only Green elected. The Greens would have probably got 6 MHAs instead of 4 in the 2002 and 2006 elections.
It will be very interesting to see what the Greens can extract on the electoral front if they end up with bargaining power in March.
[The Greens would have probably got 6 MHAs instead of 4 in the 2002 and 2006 elections.]
I have analysed this frequently (it is a very commonly asked question!). 2002 converts to 20-9-6 and 2006 converts to 19-11-5. For 2006 Denison converts to 3-2-2 but Braddon converts to 4-3-0 because Labor is just over 50% and the Libs just below 37.5 leaving the Greens with their 10.3 no way to reach a quota because the major parties have seven seats locked up between them.
When their vote is up in the high teens the difference between the 25-seat system and the 35-seat system for the proportion of Green seats is little. For instance for 2002 4/25 (16%) is marginally worse than 6/35 (17.1%) but for 2006 that 4/25 – albeit one of those very close – is better than 5/35 (14.3%).
It is when their vote is low that the Greens have problems and the 25-seat system definitely works against them. This can be seen in the 1998 election where the result was 14-10-1 but under the 35-seat system they would have won 4-5 seats.
The remarkable thing is that despite outcry over the reduction in the size of the House in 1998, and the ease of making the case that they were unfairly disadvantaged by it and hence pulling a sympathy vote, the Greens actually went backwards in 1998 compared to 1996. I think this is an indicator of just how badly they handled the balance-of-power situation under Rundle, and the extent to which their concerns could be sidelined as just more whinging from the Greens of that day.
While Tasmanians do like the way Hare-Clark gives rise to intra-party contests this makes me suspect that measures to increase the size of the House need not be consistent with proportionality to be accepted by the electorate.
Indeed the Tasmanian electorate often rorts around PR by swing-voting for whichever major looks like winning outright anyway.
[And that was one year after a referendum on reducing the size of parliament failed(it which wasn’t necessary to make the change – so they did it anyway!]
The wording in the source document is a bit misleading here. Rather than failing by being defeated by the people, the referendum simply never happened in the first place.
[To vote for single member districts? I certainly hope not. Tassie is one of the models to hold out to the rest of the country as to the advantages of PR in lower houses.]
I think the main advantage is that a view held by a significant minority gets represented in the House, as opposed to other states where the Greens could poll 12% or 15% statewide and might not get a single seat to show for it. Beyond that I think it’s overrated.
A particularly strong negative is that the upside-down system leaves us with a single-seat upper house based on small electorates and functioning unaccountably because the elections are usually uncompetitive and do not produce enough interest to ensure the voters have a clue what they are voting about. That could be fixed by changing the upper house from a rotational system to all-in all-out concurrent with the state elections but then it would just become a majority party-house, which would be pointless. It could also be fixed by abolishing the upper house (freeing up resources to expand the lower), but the LegCo isn’t all that likely to agree to its own abolition.
[Would the Legislative Council support such a cynical move?]
Apart from that it wouldn’t be likely to endorse its own abolition, it is almost impossible to predict the behaviour of the Legislative Council on anything.
Kevin, thanks for that post. Very informative!
I have to say although I’m a staunch supporter of bicameralism, I don’t really see as much need for it as long as the single house has a method of election that ensures that a party will most likely not receive a majority of seats in the house unless they receive a majority of the vote.
Some days when this poll was first reported, I noted that the Greens were leading in Denison. Do any of our Taswegian pollbludgers consider that with Duncan Kerr going that the Greens have a chance of winning Denison in a federal poll?
PS: Sort of on thread!!
[Some days when this poll was first reported, I noted that the Greens were leading in Denison.]
That lead was from an absurdly small sample, with a large supposedly undecided response and with the demonstrably false assumption that those supposed undecideds would split evenly. It is simply a worthless breakdown. As I said in #103 this company was wrong on the size of the Green vote in Denison by 12 points (well outside the margin of error) in its poll right before the election last time.
[Do any of our Taswegian pollbludgers consider that with Duncan Kerr going that the Greens have a chance of winning Denison in a federal poll?]
I’ve tended to dismiss the idea but maybe if the Libs run absolutely dead and direct preferences to the Greens, and the Greens put in a massive effort, and Labor screws up the preselection of a replacement (the latter not a very big “if” IMO) then it is faintly possible. Last election even with a big move to the Greens around Tasmania and a very token campaign by the Libs, the Libs still finished 11 points ahead of the Greens.
A difficulty is that the Federal Greens vote for Denison lags behind the state vote, though how much of that was due to the Kerr factor is something we’ll only find out when he is gone.
Another difficulty is that Hobart is not big enough to have a single inner-city electorate; Denison also takes in the low-income northern suburbs, which are traditionally strongly Labor and a bit of a wasteland for the Greens.
Would it also be the case that Kerr’s personal vote depressed the natural Liberal vote as well as the natural Green vote in Denison? (i.e. some Liberal as well as Green voters voted Labor because of Kerr).
Because if so, his retiring doesn’t really help the Greens that much. If some of that personal vote flows back to the Liberals, the Greens will still face a massive hurdle in trying to beat them into 2nd place.
[I think the main advantage is that a view held by a significant minority gets represented in the House, as opposed to other states where the Greens could poll 12% or 15% statewide and might not get a single seat to show for it. Beyond that I think it’s overrated.]
Yes, but surely representation of significant minorities instead of their exclusion altogether from parliament is hard to overrate?
I note your comment about the Greens’ performance in the Rundle era. I seem to recall that Mike Field vowed “never again” after his experience of governing with the Greens. Can you point this simple mainlander in the direction of some reliable account of the Greens’ relationship with the majors in that period (late ’80s – late ’90s) so that I can refresh my memory and challenge/confirm my prejudices on that period of Tassie political history?
[some reliable account of the Greens’ relationship with the majors in that period (late ’80s – late ’90s)]
There is a good paper by Dr Kate Crowley, Graduate Coordinator of Public Policy, School of Government, University of Tasmania, published in the Australasin Parliamentary Review in 2003:
Also there is an instructive ‘lesson’ on how Hare-Clark works in practice by Antony Green is on his site:
Thanks JV, the Crowley paper looks like it’s on the money for what I was wanting.
[Would it also be the case that Kerr’s personal vote depressed the natural Liberal vote as well as the natural Green vote in Denison? (i.e. some Liberal as well as Green voters voted Labor because of Kerr).]
I have doubts about this. Firstly Kerr is relatively left-wing by Labor standards so not an ideal fit for attracting stray Libs. Secondly there is not the same federal lag in the Lib vote for Denison that there is with the Green vote, indeed the Libs federal vote for Denison in 2007 outperformed the Libs 2006 state vote (and comparing 2004 federal with 2002 state this effect is even stronger). Perhaps the main cause of this is Lib-leaning major party voters voting for Labor at state level to ensure majority government. However, the Lib campaign for Denison at federal level in 2007 was little more than token (took quite a while to even find a candidate IIRC) and I thought Leigh Gray actually did pretty well to poll nearly 30 against Duncan in the circumstances.
[Yes, but surely representation of significant minorities instead of their exclusion altogether from parliament is hard to overrate?]
Absolutely, but PR is not the only way to acheive that. For instance a mix of single seats and Hare-Clark or list-system (shudder!) type seats would ensure representation of significant minorities while increasing the chance of majority government occurring as a result of natural voting patterns (rather than as a result of artificial swing-voting to route around the Greens.)
[For instance a mix of single seats and Hare-Clark or list-system (shudder!) type seats would ensure representation of significant minorities while increasing the chance of majority government occurring]
The key for me is achieving exact proportions – as near as possible to community support, but I’m easy as to which PR system gets there. Look at Europe, there are many variations. As long as the aim of direct representation according to each group’s support level is the essence. Then let it sort out however it may on the floor of the parliament.
I generally agree with JV here. Almost any PR system is better that single member constituencies like federally or on the mainland at the state level. But:
* I don’t like to see votes waisted, as can happen with MMP in NZ/ Germany with its high 5% threshold (barring constituency wins).
* List systems disadvantage Independents. Political Parties, as a necessary evil, shouldn’t be intreanched too much if possible.
With Hare-Clark no votes are waisted and Independents can win. Plus battles between candidates from the same party adds just that extra dollop of democracy. Overall, its the best system and should be exported. We in SA could do with it for March 20!
The Europeans do democracy the best. I can understand that the Dutch system of mega-proportionality might not be to everyones liking but I think its great too. No need for big party factions just a party for just about every ideology and interest group. Then coalition governments. It makes it easier to know what they stand for and the 3 or 4 left wing parties must compete for votes, as do the Right wing, and Centre ones. With so much competition, no votes are taken for granted and huge swing occur.
Plus, thanks to this system Labour was able to get the Dutch out of Afghanistan. If only they’d do the same thing here!
[The key for me is achieving exact proportions – as near as possible to community support, but I’m easy as to which PR system gets there.]
The problem in Tas is that the seat results for the major parties are not accurately capturing their real community support because many supporters of each major party will swing their vote to the other strategically to ensure majority government. Thus we are getting majority governments with one side’s vote and therefore its seat tally artificially inflated and the other artificially deflated anyway. This makes me think that while PR with seat tally closely matching vote percentage is possible here, PR with seat tallies matching actual community support is not. This may change if we ever get a minority government that is stable and voters are no longer afraid of the situation.
Maybe Tas needs a Majority Government (Don’t Care Who) Party so that sentiment can be directly represented. 🙂
The European multi-party democracies are different because in most cases there is no real prospect of majority government so no point in strategically swing-voting for one.
I don’t like list systems either, for many of the reasons mentioned in #128.
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