Photo finishes: Tasmania

Tuesday, March 30

9.20pm. Final score: Archer 9356, Wilkie 9041.

8.50pm. It’s Archer! 9231 votes to 8864. So barring a late surprise in Braddon, 10-10-5 it is, David Bartlett to go at the very least and, barring a party room coup, a change of government.

UPDATE: Helen Burnet is in fact “part excluded”: 466 of her votes remain, for reasons I don’t understand. But with 367 votes separating the two, there can’t be any room for doubt.

UPDATE 2: Kevin Bonham explains only Burnet’s full value votes have been distributed at this point.

Finally, not for the first time, a round of applause for the Tasmanian Electoral Commission. Nobody does it better.

8.20pm. Kevin Bonham:

If I’ve got this right, the formula for the proportion Wilkie needs to win is given roughly by
w = .5+.136/(1-x)
where x = exhaust rate from Burnet expressed as a fraction of 1
and w = proportion of votes going to either Wilkie or Archer, that need to go to Burnet.
No exhaust, Wilkie needs 64-36
Exhaust = 20%, Wilkie needs 67-33
Exhaust = 30%, Wilkie needs 69.5-30.5
Exhaust = 40%, Wilkie needs 73-27
Exhaust = 50%, Wilkie needs 77.5-22.5
Exhaust = 60%, Wilkie needs 84-16
Exhaust = 75%, Wilkie needs intervention by Chuck Norris.

7.50pm. Scott Bacon’s 1063 surplus has gone 200 to Archer (18.8 per cent), 191 to Wilkie (18.0 per cent), 180 to Burnet (16.9 per cent) and 492 exhaust (46.3 per cent). So Burnet goes out with 6032 to distribute, with the scores on 8063 for Archer to 6422 to Wilkie.

7.40pm. I’ve had my eye off the ball in Bass, but Kevin Bonham reports Brian Wightman is looking good to take the second Labor seat at the expense of Scott McLean: an example, perhaps, of Hare-Clark electing a community figure where Labor processes would normally have had the seat go to the union man.

7.20pm. Distribution of the Greens surplus puts Rebecca White 76 votes ahead of David Llewellyn in Lyons.

6.50pm. Lisa Singh’s 4691 votes have now been distributed: 3400 (72.5 per cent) have gone to Scott Bacon, 466 (9.9 per cent) to Helen Burnet, 349 (7.4 per cent) to Wilkie, 317 (6.8 per cent) to Elise Archer, and 159 (3.4 per cent) have exhausted. This seems to my unschooled eye a surprisingly high rate of leakage. Scott Bacon is now elected and his 1063 vote surplus will be distributed, a great deal of which will exhaust. So I’d say we can write off any chance of Helen Burnet (5852) overtaking Andrew Wilkie (6231). Kevin Bonham’s take is that the Singh votes have favoured Burnet better than might have been expected, which is good news for Archer as far as it goes because many will drop out of the count when Burnet is excluded.

6.20pm. In Lyons, the exclusion of the Labor also-rans leaves Rebecca White only 43 votes behind David Llewellyn in the race for the second Labor seat. 2484 votes’ worth of Greens surplus are now being distributed, and one would intuitively imagine that would heavily favour White.

5.20pm. The 4091 votes from the final definitely-unsuccessful Liberal, Richard Lowrie, have been distributed. 3394 (83.0 per cent) went to the last remaining Liberal, Elise Archer; 161 (3.9 per cent) leaked to Labor’s Scott Bacon, and 153 (3.7 per cent) leaked to Lisa Singh; 111 (2.7 per cent) leaked to the remaining Green, Helen Burnet; 220 (5.4 per cent) leaked to Andrew Wilkie; and 52 (1.3 per cent) exhausted. Kevin Bonham rates that a surprisingly high leakage rate, damaging the Liberals’ chances. That leaves the result at Bacon 8293 and Singh 4691, Archer 7546, Wilkie 5882, Burnet 5386. Now we will see Singh eliminated and most of her preferences going to Bacon, who will then be elected and his surplus distributed. Then, almost certainly, Burnet’s votes will be distributed between Archer and Wilkie, deciding the result.

5pm. The Mercury reports the Electoral Commission has resolved to complete the count for Denison tonight. With the Liberals looking increasingly unlikely to take a third seat in Braddon, the fate of the government will almost certainly rest on the outcome.

4pm. With all minor Labor candidates in Lyons excluded, Rebecca White is now only 35 votes short of incubent rival David Llewellyn. She will need to make that up on leakage from excluded Liberal and Greens candidates, and also the distribution of the Greens surplus when Tim Morris gets elected with the exclusion of their second best performing candidate.

2.50pm. Kevin Bonham notes Jane Howlett has had a huge gain on her party rival Mark Shelton in the race for the second Liberal seat in Lyons with the distribution of the 1867 votes from the party’s last placed candidate, Leigh Gray, narrowing the gap from 744 to 398. If that is any way replicated when the 4027 votes Jim Playsted are distributed, she will score an upset victory. It is beyond doubt that the electorate will go Labor 2, Liberal 2, Greens 1; it also remains to be seen whether Labor newcomer Rebecca White can close her 6612-6453 gap against incumbent David Llewellyn as the combined 6190 votes from the three unsuccessful Labor candidates are distributed.

2.30pm. Preference distributions are now under way, and by far the best way to follow their progress is to keep track of the comments section below. The most substantial progress so far has been in Denison, where there seems to have been a developing opinion of late that Andrew Wilkie is a better chance of winning at the expense of a second Liberal than was initially acknowledged. I gather nothing that has happened with the preference distribution so far has upset anyone’s calculations on that score. David Bartlett and Cassy O’Connor are elected, and enough other candidates excluded to leave Scott Bacon and Lisa Singh technically in the hunt for the second Labor seat, with the former certain to win; certain winner Matthew Groom competing with potential winners Elise Archer and Richard Lowrie for first and possibly second Liberal seats; and independent Andrew Wilkie and second Green Helen Burnet in the hunt to deprive the Liberals of that second seat. The story of the count so far seems to be that Elise Archer has overtaken Richard Lowrie in the race for a possible second Liberal seat after the preferences of the other two candidates were excluded.

Friday, March 26

Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics has carefully considered the ifs, and reckons Andrew Wilkie about 45 per cent likely to win the last seat in Denison at the expense of a second Liberal, and second Greens candidate Helen Burnet about 10 per cent likely. That means that unless Liberal member Brett Whiteley keeps his Braddon seat at the expense of the Greens, which he reckons 30 per cent likely, it is fractionally more likely than not that Labor will win more seats than the Liberals.

In developments from today’s count, we’ve had the Electoral Commission provide us with a new batch of impressively detailed PDFs detailing not only results for polling booths and different kinds of declaration votes, but also providing separate results for postals depending on when they were added to the count (South Australian Electoral Commission take note). Today has seen batches of postal votes added which, while small (445 in Braddon and 246 in Denison), have slightly strengthened the Greens.

We’ve got conflicting reports in comments on how scrutineers expect preferences to go in Lyons, where Bec White might yet unseat David Llewellyn as the second Labor member, depending on who’s right. One report says 70 per cent of the minor Labor candidates’ preferences are going to Llewellyn, who should thus finish over 1000 votes ahead. The other says two of the three minor candidates’ preferences are in fact favouring White over Llewellyn, and that the 27 per cent of Greens preferences which are going to Labor (about 750 votes) are favouring White by a factor of more than four to one.

Thursday, March 25

Rechecking appears to have been done with nothing further in Braddon and Bass, but new votes look to have been added elsewhere. In Denison, 631 votes continue to show the Greens doing better in late counting than you would normally expect, but not enough for their second candidate to overtake Andrew Wilkie. The new votes have been weak for the Liberals, providing a fractional boost to Wilkie’s chances. In a detailed piece for the Tasmanian Times Kevin Bonham, notes Wilkie’s vote was concentrated in Greens and Liberal strongholds, arguing it amount to an “Australian Democrat vote (pale Greens and left Liberals) on steroids” because unsullied by leakage. The addition of 936 votes in Lyons have boosted Mark Shelton by 24 votes over Jane Howlett in the race for the second Liberal seat, while another 547 votes in Franklin have had no bearing on the only remaining issue there, whether Tony Mulder can rein in Jacquie Petrusma’s lead to take the second Liberal seat.

Wednesday, March 24

We’ve got a combination of rechecking and some declaration votes, but we don’t have the PDFs that would tell us what kind of vote we’re getting on the latter. The count in Braddon is up 996 votes which has slightly weakened the Greens’ position as expected: the latest batch has gone 11.6 per cent their way compared with their existing total of 13.8 per cent. There has been no significant change in the Liberal candidates’ position. Only 429 votes added to the total in Denison, and it’s a great batch for both the Greens (44.3 per cent versus overall total of 24.7 per cent) and Wilkie (21.7 per cent against 8.4 per cent). A number of candidates’ votes have fallen here, particularly the Socialist Alliance, so I suspect something happened with rechecking here. An extra 337 votes in Bass continues the slight trend towards Brant Webb over Scott McLean and Brian Wightman in the race for the third Labor seat, although the order remains Wightman (up 50 to 3181), McLean (up 51 to 3088), Webb (up 79 to 2684). Nothing of interest to report from Franklin, and nothing at all to report from Lyons.

POST-SCRIPT: The invaluable Kevin Bonham writes in comments that because the Greens will have “a quota of their total soaked up electing O’Connor, the 44.3% is actually 27.6% for the purposes of the contest with Wilkie, and gaining on Wilkie at the rate of .057 votes per vote counted is not enough to get even close to wiping out the primary gap to Wilkie on the few remaining postals. Thus, the moderately ‘good’ news for them is actually bad news – they needed much more dramatic improvements in their status vs Wilkie than that to be competitive. As it is they will probably start the cutup effectively about 200 behind him. I think they need to be an absolute minimum of 100 ahead to have any realistic chance.”

Tuesday, March 23

Kevin Bonham tells us the next update will be tomorrow afternoon. Interesting article by Sue Neales of The Mercury on the prospect of a Labor party room rebellion if David Bartlett wishes the government to resign, raising the spectre of a reverse 1996 scenario where Labor goes into minority government with a new leader.

Sunday, March 21

In summary, the conventional wisdom remains a 10-10-5 result that would oblige David Bartlett to tender his resignation, after all he’s been saying (although the party could always get around that by dumping him as leader). However, Hare-Clark counts very often disregard the conventional wisdom on election night, and there seem to be two distinct live prospects for the applecart being upset. One involves Andrew Wilkie or the Greens taking one of the Liberals’ projected two seats in Denison, which would leave them with one seat fewer than Labor. The other is the Liberals squeezing out the Greens in Braddon, which would leave them with one seat more.


It is clear that David Bartlett and Scott Bacon will win seats for Labor, and that ministers Lisa Singh and Graeme Sturges have been defeated. There is equally no argument that Matthew Groom will enter parliament as Liberal member in place of the retiring Michael Hodgman. Cassy O’Connor of the Greens has also won a seat with nearly a full quota in her own right. However, things get murky with the final seat. After today’s rechecking and adding of absent votes, Labor has 2.19 quotas, the Liberals 1.79, the Greens 1.47 and Andrew Wilkie 0.50. The contestants for the final seat are thus, in current scoreboard order, a second Liberal (either Richard Lowrie or Elise Archer: Archer closed the gap on today’s counting), Andrew Wilkie or Helen Burnet of the Greens.

A Burnet win looked unlikely last night, but today’s counting reduced the gap between the the Greens’ surplus after electing O’Connor and Wilkie’s vote from 0.05 quotas to 0.03. However, the situation for both the Greens and the Liberals is complicated by the fact that some of their preferences will go to candidates from other parties as their lesser performers are excluded from the count (known in the trade as “leakage”), and others will drop out of the count altogether as many voters will have fulfilled the minimum requirement demanded of the ballot paper by numbering the five candidates on their preferred party ticket. Wilkie doesn’t have that problem because he’s running on his own, which Tasmanian psephologist Kevin Bonham estimates will give him a bit less than a 0.1 quota boost in a contest with the second Liberal, should he get that far. The Greens will also get a smaller boost relative to the Liberals from the fact that their three weakest candidates have polled less, and will thus be less prone to leakage.

There is also the question of Labor preferences, which are likely to see a surplus of 0.1 quota distributed, not to mention the 0.04 quota polled by Socialist Alliance. These could help Wilkie and Burnet cut their deficit against the Liberals by as much as 0.05. So in considering the gap between Wilkie or Burnet and the Liberals, Wilkie should be given a bonus of about 0.14 and Burnet about 0.08. The issue would then become the exclusion of Wilkie and Burnet, and whether the preferences of either would deliver victory for the other. If Burnet gets ahead of Wilkie, she will need to chase down maybe 0.25 quotas with the distribution of Wilkie’s 0.5. In other words, over half of them will have to have numbered Burnet (remembering that they have to have numbered somebody, as Wilkie is only one candidate and formal ballot papers must have five boxes numbered) over the Liberal, if they have indeed numbered the Liberal at all. If Wilkie gets ahead of Burnet, perhaps 0.35 quota worth of Greens vote will be up for grabs after exhaustion, and from that he would need to make up about 0.15.

The 4024 votes added today were good for the Greens, who polled 28.3 per cent compared with 24.3 per cent from the ordinary votes, but a lot less good for Wilkie, who polled 6.9 per cent compared with 8.4 per cent. The former result is presumably what Greens number-cruncher Stephen Luntz calls “the bushwalker vote”. Historically speaking, the prospect of the Greens making further gains on postals and pre-polls is apparently extremely dim.


Against the possibility of the Liberals dropping a seat is their chance of squeezing out the Greens in Braddon. The race hinges on an immensely subtle point: how the preferences from the minor Liberal candidates divide between their second and third best performers, newcomer Alan Brooks and incumbent Brett Whiteley. On the current primary vote, Brooks leads Whiteley 10.8 per cent to 8.6 per cent, with O’Halloran on 8.9 per cent and the minor Greens candidates on 5.0 per cent combined. Accounting for about 10 per cent leakage from the four minor Greens (roughly what Kevin Bonham estimates), that should leave O’Halloran with a bit under 13.5 per cent when they have all been excluded. For the Liberals, incumbent Jeremy Rockliff is almost bang on a quota, so Brooks and Whiteley will only get their party’s minor candidates’ preferences divided up between them. There are four of these in play, who collectively polled 9.0 per cent – which by Kevin Bonham’s judgement will come down to 8 per cent after accounting for exhaustion (lower than it might if been if they had not foolishly endorsed seven candidates rather than an optimal five). Then there is the matter of Labor’s surplus, which after exhaustion will amount to a bit over 3 per cent. Surprising though it may seem to outsiders, history suggests more of this will go to Liberals than Greens, so as a rough rule of thumb we might divide it equally between Rockliff, Whiteley and O’Halloran. Using the numbers provided so far, O’Halloran could fall behind both if, say, 5 per cent of the minor Liberal preferences went to Whiteley and 3 per cent to Brooks. That might seem a bit unlikely given the state of their primary votes, but the maths could improve for the Liberals on late counting, given the tendency for the Greens to fade as postals and pre-polls come in. What’s more, incumbency might help deliver Whiteley a higher share of Labor preferences than Brooks.


With Labor on 2.12 quotas, Liberal on 2.62 and the Greens on 1.62, a 2-2-1 split is not in doubt. However, there’s a three-way tussle between Brian Wightman (5.1 per cent), Scott McLean (5.0 per cent) and Brant Webb (4.3 per cent) to replace the retiring Jim Cox as Labor’s second member. Webb did well out of today’s count (I might speculate this is because many absent votes come from booths near electorate boundaries, and I believe Beaconsfield is such a place), recording 5.2 per cent of 3095 votes added compared with 3.6 per cent for Wightman and 4.9 per cent for McLean.


Little question here that the result is two Liberal (Will Hodgman and Jacquie Petrusma, although Tony Mulder remains a very distant possibility), two Labor (Lara Giddings and David O’Byrne, with sitting members Daniel Hulme and Ross Butler defeated) and one Greens (Nick McKim). Kevin Bonham notes that Labor were lucky the 16.5 per cent of the vote they lost divided evenly between the two parties, as otherwise they might have lost a second seat.


Also a clear 2-2-1. The Liberals have returned Rene Hidding, with Mark Shelton leading Jane Howlett for the second seat (although Howlett made up a small amount of ground today). Labor has returned Michael Polley, with rising star newcomer Rebecca White very narrowly trailing David Llewellyn for the second seat. Tim Morris has been returned for the Greens.

Saturday, March 20

This thread will be used to follow the progress of the late count in Tasmania. Given the vagaries of the Hare-Clark system, this is an absorbing process even when the fate of the government is not in the balance. As it stands, it appears the most likely result will be 10-10-5, but there seems to be a possibility the Liberals will finish a seat short of Labor. Clearly there are 2-2-1 results in Bass, Lyons and Franklin; Braddon will probably go that way as well, although I gather there is a vague chance of the Greens being squeezed out and it going 3-2 in favour of Liberal. The wild card is the final seat in Denison: clearly Labor has won two and Liberal and the Greens one each, but the last could go to either the Liberals or the Greens or, just maybe, Andrew Wilkie. A more thorough analysis will have to wait until tomorrow.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *