Seat of the week: Braddon

UPDATE: Essential Research has the Coalition two-party lead up from 55-45 to 56-44, although nothing has changed on the primary vote: 33% for Labor, 49% for the Coalition and 10% for the Greens. Further questions relate to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which party has the better policies for various groups of disadvantaged people (Labor comfortably ahead in each case), and the Olympic Games (among other things, 58% think $39 million of government spending per gold medal too much).

To commemorate the occasion of Mark Riley’s report on alleged Labor internal polling, we visit the scene of what would, assuming the poll to be authentic, be its biggest surprise: Tasmania, where Labor is said to be looking at a devastating swing and the loss of all four of its seats.

The hook for Riley’s report on Channel Seven was that Tasmania was among four states and territories where Labor was set to be wiped out, the others being Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The first did not come as a surprise, as the picture of a 9% swing taking all in its path is entirely familiar from state-level breakdowns from Newspoll and Nielsen and Queensland-specific polling from Galaxy. However, the implied swing in Western Australia of 6%, as would be required to knock over Stephen Smith in Perth and Melissa Parke in Fremantle, is at odds with Newspoll, which has showed Labor holding its ground: 57-43 in October-December, 54-46 in January-March and 55-45 in April-June, compared with 56.4-43.6 at the election. Riley’s numbers do accord with Nielsen, whose last three monthly results for WA average to 62-38. However, even after combining three polls their sample is a very modest 390 (with a margin of error of about 5%), compared with about 900 (margin of error about 3.4%) for Newspoll.

In the case of Tasmania, together with the Northern Territory (where Labor is in danger of losing Warren Snowdon’s seat of Lingiari), no such basis for comparison is available. The state is excluded from Newspoll and Nielsen’s breakdowns for inadequate sample sizes, and the state’s one public pollster, EMRS, usually contents itself with state politics. In relating that Labor faced a two-party deficit of 56-44, the Riley report thus presumed to tell us something we didn’t already know – and quite a remarkable thing at that, given that the last election gave the Liberals their worst result in Tasmania since the modern party was founded in 1944 (33.6% on the primary vote and 39.4% on two-party preferred).

It hadn’t always been thus. At the consecutive elections of 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983 and 1984, it was not Labor but the Liberals who enjoyed clean sweeps of the state’s five seats. Certainly the state has form in turning on Labor over environmental controversies, the Franklin Dam issue of the early 1980s and Mark Latham’s forestry policy at the 2004 election being the cases in point. It could be that the another environmental issue, the carbon tax, has alienated Labor from the blue-collar base that sustains it outside of Hobart. While it seems hard to believe that this alienation could be so fierce as to power a swing of 17%, it should be remembered that the 2010 result forms an artificially high base, owing to a half-hearted campaign waged by a Liberal Party that had its strategic eye elsewhere.

The most marginal of the five seats, Bass, was dealt with in an earlier post, so today naturally enough we move on to the second, its western neighbour Braddon. Confusingly known before 1955 as Darwin, Braddon covers the north-western coastal areas of Tasmania, plus King Island in the Bass Strait. The redistribution before the 2010 election extended the electorate along the full length of the thinly populated west coast, which benefited Labor by adding the mining towns around Queenstown. The dominant population centres are Devonport and Burnie, which respectively supply about 25% and 18% of the voters.

Demographically, Braddon is distinguished by the lowest proportion of residents who completed high school of any electorate in Australia (and, relatedly, the eleventh lowest median family income), and it ranks second only to neighbouring Lyons as the electorate with the smallest proportion of non-English speakers. The timber and mining industries that have traditionally provided a solid base for Labor are balanced by beef and dairy farming, which contribute to a more conservative lean in the western parts around Smithton. Labor’s strongest area is Burnie, although Devonport also traditionally leans its way.

Braddon/Darwin was held by Labor legend King O’Malley from its creation in 1903 until 1917, and then by conservatives of various stripes until Ron Davies gained it for Labor in 1958. Davies held the seat until 1975, when future Premier Ray Groom’s victory contributed to the first of the Liberals’ clean sweeps. Groom was in turn succeeded upon his move to state politics in 1984 by Chris Miles. The Liberals’ electoral position meanwhile continued to strengthen due to the decline of the area’s key industries and the political upheaval caused by the Franklin Dam controversy.

Braddon’s fortunes changed very suddenly in 1998, when a 10.0% swing made Peter “Sid” Sidebottom the seat’s first Labor member in 23 years. Labor has since been defeated only in 2004, when John Howard’s late-campaign trumping of Mark Latham over forestry jobs fuelled a 7.0% swing that delivered the seat to Liberal candidate Mark Baker. Sidebottom had declined to distance himself from Latham’s policy, unlike Dick Adams in neighbouring Lyons. Endorsed again in 2007, Sidebottom was able to recover the seat with a modest 2.6% swing, before adding a further 5.1% to his margin in 2010. On the former occasion the swing was most strongly concentrated around Smithton, reversing a heavy swing to the Liberals from 2004, while the swing in 2010 was greatest in Devonport and Latrobe.

Sid Sidebottom had been a Central Coast councillor and electorate officer to Senator Nick Sherry before entering parliament, and he returned to the employ of Sherry during the interruption of his parliamentary career from 2004 to 2007. Sidebottom is presently factionally unaligned, but like Sherry was formerly a member of the Centre/Independents faction, known in its Hawke government heyday as the Centre Left. He was promoted to parliamentary secretary after the 2001 election, serving in various permutations of agriculture, resources and fisheries over the ensuing term. It took until November 2011 for him to recover his old status, that month’s reshuffle slotting him into the familiar agriculture, fisheries and forestry portfolio.

The Liberal candidate at the next election will be Michael Burr, described by the Burnie Advocate as a “high-profile Devonport real estate business owner”. Burr won preselection from a field that also included Glynn Williams, a North Motton farmer and lawyer described in the local press as an “ultra conservative”, and lower-profile local Jacqui Lambie. Burr’s backers reportedly included Senators Richard Colbeck and Stephen Parry, and local state MP Adam Brooks. It was thought that another contender might be Brett Whiteley, who lost his state seat in Braddon at the 2010 election, but he announced in the week before the preselection that he would instead focus on returning to state 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.

2,520 comments on “Seat of the week: Braddon”

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  1. To add to Julia’s woes, our lack of Olympic success will be all her fault.

    If the ALP is to be wiped out as suggested by polling then you got to the polls as late as possible. What do you have to lose, as you are going to lose any way?

    Julia will not hand the PMship to anyone, they are going to have to challenge for it. End of story.

  2. BK


    This bit tells the story –

    [The tension between Transport for NSW and Infrastructure NSW was illustrated in June when Ms Berejiklian, with the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, and Mr Wielinga, announced the latest plan for the north-west rail link.]

    ‘Infrastructure NSW’ probably have ‘Built a 2nd Airport’ banners and coasters in their offices as well – not BoF’s favourite subject ….

  3. [Rising food prices limit how much central bankers can cut interest rates to safeguard growth. More troubling would be the potential setback to poverty-reduction programs for decades to come.]

    [Asia’s policy makers also face a new dilemma. In recent years, the challenge was boosting growth. Even the food-price shock of the period was viewed as a cyclical phenomenon that would pass once farmers responded with increased supply.

    What’s different this time is that demographic trends point to increasing demand for food as weather patterns undermine supply. As world temperatures rise, agricultural yields are becoming less predictable. And as U.S. droughts remind us, the world’s food chain has become more interconnected at a time when weather has rarely been so erratic. On top of it all, water is becoming scarcer. It’s the new oil.]

  4. [Teddy Bears Fall From Sky, and Heads Roll in Minsk

    The plane crossed stealthily into Belarussian airspace and headed for the capital, Minsk. At the appointed moment, the cargo doors opened, and an invasion force of tiny plush freedom fighters parachuted to the ground.

    Belarus was under attack — by teddy bears.

    Three members of a Swedish advertising firm planned and carried out the operation last month, adorning more than 800 plush bears with signs promoting democracy and denigrating Belarus’s authoritarian government.

    Comedic touches aside, the security breach has become a major embarrassment for President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, who has channeled his country’s meager resources into maintaining a calcified police state.]


  5. I like bit from Reithy from BK’s link

    [This morning on Twitter Mr Reith posted: “Pandering to populism is contrary to public interest.”]

    But only it would appear when Mr Reith’s farming interests are concerned.

  6. [How long before they start to blame PM Gillard?]

    The first one is bound to be Ray Hadley. I have had the misfortune of having to put up with him calling the swimming on Foxtel. He is appalling as a commentator. Routinely wrong, one eyed and nasty. His boorishness has already rubbed off on Susie O’neill.

  7. Tony Abbott said yesterday: “I believe in foreign investment in Australia. I truly do.” – as long as they are not from the chinky eyed

  8. Allan Moyes

    470 sailing results

    AUS R1:3rd; R2:9th; R3:2nd; R4:1st;

    NZ R1:28th Disqualified; R2:3rd; R3:5th; R4:5th

    Overall standings Aus:2nd; NZ:8th

  9. Seesee the stupid ones vote, or maybe early menzies hoise particpants

    Less foreign investment, they dont understand it may mean their

  10. Good morning , my say,

    With my flippers & finns in full flight, i can do 100m Free in 47.1secs. Put me on the boat to 2016 Rio NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. d( as U.S. droughts remind us, the world’s food chain has become more interconnected at a time when weather has rarely been so erratic. On top of it all, water is becoming scarcer. It’s the new oil.)

    Try expllaining this to mainlanders , es, bw, critisim of tasmania, re our spungeing on the mainland and not paying our way, 🙂 🙂

    Its tbe island state that will grow most if your food , by 2050
    We have already got plans to double dairy herd.

  12. The Finnigans

    The prblem with your Rio plan is that we wouldn’t be able to get you and the rest of B,F & Fukushima ltd off the Copacabana promenade for the races.

  13. Welll finns , that sound , s splash splash ,

    U know i feel these games are from the universe, aust, has to start to be grateful
    For what we hve, be more humble.

    Its no ones fault re the olympics,

    When u live in the home of even a state representative of sport ones realises

    The sacrifices, our son was a ver vrry good athlete, but at 19 realised his studies
    Came first, we have a video of him in a show called good sports
    As a little bboy saying he wanted to be an olympian.

    So the aspirations are there,

    Then big business get into the act, re advertising ect.
    If only we could return to the values of amateur staus,
    Thats why if u can watch the paras,

    This lso comed down to where we find ourselves now,

    Some are selfish individuals who blame others,
    We see leaders blaming others, re i will sack u, becauce we re not balancing the budget,
    Then we have folk screaming i want this me me, i esrn 150 th a year but im poor.

    The athlrtes train very hard i know he lived here, we did t,he hsrd yards with him
    But he chose study.

    A young man last night came 4th in the hurdles, we know him well no ones heard
    Of him may be becauce bhe came fourth, but he has suceeded , just being there

    Hes vrry happpy.

    How many of the moaning people evn take their dog walking , no mainly armchair athletes who have no idea,

    Wake up aust. Before the tories turn u in to sefs, then u may see a diffrrent world

  14. I thhink the same thing happened with cricket.

    Dont think they blamed howard,

    I thought at the time we needed new young people

    There was i noticed a few athletes still there from the sydney


  15. Dear peeps, let’s face it. The #MSMhacks, Shockjocks, LNP and Bogans still blame ALP for having the gut & dare to elect OZ 1st female PM

  16. ‘Old cow’ quip about Gillard brings a rebuke for farming leader

    [”This plant is designed to process old cows,” Mr Farley told the conference. ”So the old cows that become non-productive, instead of making a decision to either let her die in the paddock or put her in the truck … this gives us a chance to take non-productive animals off and put them through the processing system.

    ”So it’s designed for non-productive old cows – Julia Gillard’s got to watch out.”

    InDaily reported the remark was met with sustained laughter from the crowd.]

    Simply disgusting.

  17. [The Finnigans
    Posted Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink
    Dear peeps, let’s face it. The #MSMhacks, Shockjocks, LNP and Bogans still blame ALP for having the gut & dare to elect OZ 1st female PM]
    And the filthy attacks on the PM are so run-of-the-mill now that even when David Farley, chief executive of Australian Agricultural Company, displays the lowbrow misogynist mentality of men of a certain age permeating the LNP, it’s no longer headline news but barely rates a ho-hum mention. Disgraceful.

    Read more:

    Here’s some contact details for ACCO if you wish to convey your personal displeasure to David Farley:
    [Corporate Office
    Level 1
    299 Coronation Drive
    Milton QLD 4064
    Ph: (0)7 3368 4400
    Fax: (0)7 3368 4401


    or you can fill out the form below with your enquiry or comments on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.]

  18. I hope the prime minister takes the position,

    Of the vathlletes did their best,
    Who are we to critize,

    The sacrifices made and the desire to win, is in all athletes
    No matter where they come from
    May be some of our very small minority
    Got side tracked, tell u What they want next time,

    Lessons have to learned.

    I may be wrong but i think our big medal tally,
    Came from swimming.
    Other years , someone may know if thats so

    I think many countries have learned from our great swimmers
    And aspied
    They have simply caught up.

  19. Kezza do u have the link to that original
    Story i want to include that local news paoer.
    And finns can i include your biosins

    And leave off your link.

    I want to send a constructive email
    Not a n
    Narky one one

    Its ready to go in my drafts

    Thank you both

    Can i suggest we all send informative emails

    I have not mentioned names just including the link

  20. Kezza2:

    [And the filthy attacks on the PM are so run-of-the-mill now that even when David Farley, chief executive of Australian Agricultural Company, displays the lowbrow misogynist mentality of men of a certain age permeating the LNP, it’s no longer headline news but barely rates a ho-hum mention.]

    Indeed. There’s a famous 1925 Bulletin cartoon depicting Edith Cowan in a 1925 in most unflattering terms as a scolding washerwoman-harradin who had no place in parliament amongst the men. By an odd twist, my year 9 history classes are covering this period right now and we’ve had quite a discussion on the obstacles to the empowerment of women in Australia, including of course, in making it to parliament. I’ve shown them the a selection of images and commentary on Ms Gillard by way of comparison — Gillard as ageing bag lady (The Daily Telegraph) , lumbering behemoth (The Age), commentary by Hadley and Jones and the point has not been lost on them.

    That all noted, it’s also hard not to miss in this case that this commentary comes from a prominent advocate of and participant in the animal exploitation industry, who has, after all, spent his life zero-rating the integrity of animal life and seeing them as mere instruments of the privileges of his constituency. The dissonance required to do that over many years on such a scale is surely one reason why this fellow thought (correctly) that such remarks would be seen as acceptable by his audience. These people have devloped a callous where part of their humanity should be and in tandem the more general misogyny that has always informed Australian culture and the broader right-wing populist backlash endorsed by the Murdoch-led media serve to render this “joke” almost unremarkable.

  21. And Life Under Abbott Qld-style rolls on:

    Police school cuts put LNP pledge at risk

    Broken election promise to increase police under threat because budget cuts at the academy – and a further threat to remove 500 civilians.

    Parents in the firing line as 40,000 Queensland teachers set to strike in October

    Unions are urging parental solidarity – keep your kids home while we fight for our jobs.

    And, despite the action taken so far i.e. PS rallies, of course the Unions aren’t doing enough yet, but needs to get the all the public on board, not just its members, advises Steven Wardill:

    [Maybe this lack of action from unions is testament to the lack of love for the organised industrial movement in the modern workforce.

    Or, possibly, unions are gearing up to ensure whatever action they take has maximum impact.

    If the latter is the case, you’d have to ask just what are they waiting for?

    There has been plenty of talk of looming strike action.

    The Together union, which represents public servants, has talked about rolling action, although there’s been little in the way of specifics.

    The Queensland Council of Unions, representing more than 30 unions, is commissioning its own research to debunk the economic argument behind the cuts and plans an action day on September 12, the day after the State Budget.

    However, even this is little more than a lunchtime shout-out, with workers expected to be back behind their desks before their allotted hour is up.

    Teachers are also talking of action on October 8.

    Next in line will be rail unions, when jobs cuts at Queensland Rail are eventually announced.

    Strike action is never easy.

    The many hurdles in industrial relations laws make it even more difficult to do legally.]

  22. morning all

    Hopefully he will have something to report on this soon. We had discussed connection weeks ago, and believed there must be a connection.

    [David Donovan @davrosz 8h
    I wonder how James Ashby working on Wyatt Roy’s Sunshine Coast family strawberry farms feeds into the whole alleged Slipper conspiracy?]
    View details ·
    [Dave Gaukroger @dfg77 52m
    @davrosz doesn’t Roy hold Brough’s old seat now?]
    View conversation ·
    [ David Donovan @davrosz 22m
    @dfg77 Yes, he does.]
    View conversation ·

    [Dave Gaukroger

    @davrosz I’m sure that it’s nothing more than an unhappy coincidence.
    10:48pm Fri Aug 03 via Tweetbot for iOS]

    [David Donovan @davrosz 21m
    @dfg77 I don’t believe in coincidences in politics.
    View conversation]

  23. Kezza do u have the link to that original
    Story i want to include that local news paoer.
    And finns can i include your biosins

    And leave off your link.

    I want to send a constructive email
    Not a n
    Narky one one …..

    Its ready to go in my drafts

    Thank you both

    Can i suggest we all send informative emails

    I have not mentioned names just including the link

  24. Any pretense it is not the Female factor about PM @JuliaGillard has been blown away by Mr. Farley’s “PM a non-productive old cow” statement

  25. OH, son and daughter went to see the Hawthorn/Geelong match last night. Hawks lost the game on the siren. Son (who injured his ligaments in his hand playing footy a few weeks ago), hit the chair in front of him with THAT hand in sheer frustration.
    Never has he done such a thing in all his life, but decides to do it with an injured hand. I asked him why would he do such a stupid thing. Of course, he has no idea.
    Still thinks he can play footy today.

  26. The finns

    I am afraid, The gender of our PM has a lot to do with the attitude towards her. I know some dont believe me, but if she were male, Labor would be in a better position in the polls. Sad, but true

  27. FRAN

    Thank you, i loved your post,

    Thank you for showing young woman
    What can happen, how some would turn back the time
    To copper washing boiler s again

    Keep up your great work thank you

  28. Gosh i wish some woman of note would organize a march, in every stste againdt these types of remarks

    Do any of you kno w a well known person who could and would,

    We dshould not let these remarks go un challenged
    o for emily pankhurst

  29. Finns
    Thanks to the link to AAC. I have sent the following comment.
    [If I were still a shareholder of AAC I would more officially make known my absolute disgust at the disgraceful and uncalled for comments by Mr Farley regarding the Prime Minister of our country.

    Surely such public remarks render him unsuitable for the office he currently holds.]

  30. [Australia has surged to 19th in the Olympics …]

    Well you as a believer in the mediocre and a hater of excellence should be very very happy. Perhaps if there were more bronzes and less silver you’d be even happier.

    While we are attacking excellence, there were several attacks on Billy Joel during the week, and a few on Springsteen. Like Wayne Swan’s speech I’m assuming this criticism comes from lazy ignorance. You don’t have to like the music,but to attack a body of work as empty you should probably know it.

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