Seat of the week: Franklin

The eastern and outer southern Hobart seat of Franklin has been in the Labor fold for two decades, but the party is said to have grave fears for the seat amid a statewide collapse in support.

As one of Tasmania’s constitutionally mandated five House of Representatives seats, Franklin has a lower than normal enrolment (72,500 compared with a national average of about 96,000) and has existed without interruption since the state was first divided into electorates in 1903. With Denison accommodating central Hobart and the suburbs on the western bank of the Derwent River, Franklin covers the eastern bank suburbs and areas immediately south of Hobart, starting from the outskirts township of Kingston, together with the unpopulated southern part of the World Heritage area in Tasmania’s south-west.

Labor first won Franklin at a by-election held two months after the election of Jim Scullin’s government in 1929, before losing it again amid the party’s debacle of 1931. It subsequently changed hands in 1934, 1946, 1969 and 1975, before remaining in the Liberal fold throughout the Fraser years and the first 10 years of the Hawke-Keating government. Labor finally won the seat when colourful Liberal member Bruce Goodluck retired at the 1993 election, which together a strong statewide shift to Labor delivered a 9.5% swing to their candidate Harry Quick. Quick maintained the seat with only mild swings either way at subsequent elections, although there were occasional suggestions he might be brought undone by internal party machinations. When his preselection appeared in danger ahead of the 2004 election, he was able to see off the threat partly by indicating that he might run as an independent.

After choosing his own time of departure at the 2007 election, Quick sought to keep the seat out of factional hands by promoting his staffer Roger Joseph as his successor. This was thwarted when a deal assigned Franklin to Kevin Harkins, state secretary of the Left faction Electrical Trades Union, and Bass to the Right-backed Steve Reissig. Objecting that Harkins was a “right thuggish bastard” who would lose the seat, Quick declared he would vote for the Greens. His attacks drew blood as newly anointed Labor leader Kevin Rudd sought to distance the party from unsavoury union associations, with Harkins carrying baggage from the 2003 Cole royal commission into the building and construction industry. Harkins’ position ultimately became untenable in July 2007 when the Australian Building and Construction Commission brought charges against him over an illegal strike. When he won preselection for the Senate ahead of the 2010 election, he was again rolled by the intervention of Kevin Rudd.

With Harkins gone and the election looming, the preselection was referred to the party’s national executive, which maintained the factional balance in choosing the Left’s Julie Collins, state party secretary and a strongly performing though unsuccessful candidate at the March 2006 state election. The loss of Quick’s personal vote combined with the manner of his departure resulted in Collins suffering a 3.1% swing to the Liberals, one of only four swings to the Coalition at that election. Coming off a suppressed base, she went on to enjoy a 6.8% swing at the 2010 election, the selection highest recorded by a Labor candidate. Collins was made a parliamentary secretary after the election, winning further promotion to the outer ministry in December 2011 as Community Services Minister.

The Liberals have preselected Bernadette Black, a Kingborough councillor who according to the Mercury “has made a name for herself as a spokesman for teenage mums after having her first child aged 16”. Black won preselection ahead of another Kingborough councillor, Nic Street.

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.

1,174 comments on “Seat of the week: Franklin”

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  1. Galaxy Poll Primary Votes: ALP 32 (0) L/NP 47 (-1) GRN 12 (+1)

    Poll 2 Party Preferred: ALP 45 (0) L/NP 55 (0)

    via Ghost who votes

    Well, that’s a surprise.

  2. JV

    [I don’t have to be a member to express opinions about political parties.]

    On this I agree.

    Stuffed Shirts on here challenging posters on ‘Are you, or have you ever been, a member’ are turkeys.

    Pisses me off no end.

    ‘How to entice voters’ – No way.

  3. [GG

    Isn’t it you who claims to be a devout Catholic? Do you think your language is appropriate on here?]

    What’s wrong with a bit of potty language. Didn’t Jesus say, “blessed are the peemakers”?

  4. [There is nothing like the rancour which seems to mainly get started by non-ALP members. Dilettantes who seem to want to tell us how to conduct our affairs.]

    From bemused earlier.

    Can I just say that this is exactly the kind of attitude which repels people from joining the party. As James Button asks:

    [Can it throw open its doors to say, ”We are no longer a party of insiders and apparatchiks. Whether you are members or not, we want your ideas, energy, criticisms and reforming spirit”?]

    Read more:

    Clearly there are some who think the party shouldn’t be opening its doors.

  5. JV,

    I see you have delusions of grandeur comparing your situation with Mark Latham.

    Latham is a public figure with a fairly well known history and people can factor in what they believe about his motivations for his various comments.

    You, are a complete unknown who seems to enoy a projecting your “Walter Mitty” like pretence that you have been a loyal, but now disllusioned soldier of the ALP. This of course is a lie.

    We’ve been down this road before with you.

  6. I agree confessions, I have been a member, supporter, activist, office-bearer, friend and foot-soldier for coming up to 40 years, but am not accountable to bemused. Who does he think he is? I have not asked for his credentials. He has no right to ask for mine.

  7. Andrew@1143

    muttleymcgee there is overwhelming evidence that Rudd was truly awful. Sorry TP and Bemused, read the accounts of people that actually worked in his government. I heard an account from a minister that revealed an obsessive control freak.

    Quite simply, if he wasnt so awful and had no alienated so many in Caucus, he would have not been rolled.

    I think Gillard made a huge mistake trying to sugar coat it. She has never, properly told the people why he was removed and her role in the events.

    Then his caucus supporters are all masochists?

    Possum had some interesting tweets on the subject recently. I wish he would post on the subject here.

    No apology required for expressing a legitimate opinion.

  8. Frednk @ 1108…This is the story

    Well, we have Tony Abbott contradicting David Marr and Barbara Ramjan. Given that Tony Abbott is a known serial liar, I know which story I believe.

  9. Andrew, I completely agree.

    JG’s offer to absolve journos from any obligation of confidence last year was matched by a stunned silence from Rudd. Since then I have spoken with many people who experienced Rudd here in Queensland where he was Goss’ CoS, and the increasing and convincing evidence proves Rudd’s dicatorial attitude and backstabbing duplicity. Latham is merciless in his book, and Button’s article along with Chris Mitchell’s revelation that he and Rudd spoke ‘several times’ during last week has convinced me that Labor has no option but to get rid of him.

    Gillard has been far too accommodating with him, especially because of the mess he left and the ongoing issues she has had to deal with because of his cowardice and duplicity. Every accommodation she made gave him an opportunity to betray her and Labor again. I have no doubt she will correct her mistake.

  10. [bemused
    Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink


    Then his caucus supporters are all masochists?]

    Basically the mad right in NSW

  11. Confessions – the country is in a pretty post-give-a-toss world when it comes to Fed politics. Have been for a while.

    No leadership change meant nothing was going to change with the vote as no leadership change meant business as usual and the inertia continued. Underneath the vote, all it did was harden up around the edges long standing prejudices/perception/predispositions etc of the protagonists involved.

    If there was a leadership change, that would have been a systemic shock and Megapoll would have been held back for a bit while it settled. But there wasn’t, so on Thursday arvo I put it in the field to start Saturday.

  12. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    I’ve just got time to poke my head up and say that yesterday my daugter’s weddoing day was an absolute cracker. I was amazed that such a beautiful woman could have sprung from my loins. I could not have been a prouder man.
    Now it’s time to ready the place again – this time for about 30 people coming for lunch with the newlyweds to share in the opening of their preesents.
    And the Adelaide Ovaal scoreboard did display have my dad’s and Don Bradmans’s names with a century agianst weach. My mother, as expected, was very much overcome when she saw it. So was my brother.
    Catch you all later – probably tomorrow morning.

  13. I see the band is still playing the same tune. I think William can entitle his latest blog topic “The comedic routines of Laurel and Hardy” or “The Seat of the Week just about Anywhere”, and not one poster would make a pertinent comment.

    I appreciate this is the “historic” meme of the day (month? year? decade?) but this sort of Rudd/Gillard “he said, she said”. “he’s a saint (devil)/she’s a saint (devil)”, “handing election to Abbott on a plate” sort of banter is not progressing the debate one iota. 24 pages so far and nearly everyone could have come off a roneo machine. (Now that’s showing may age. 🙂 But it is really wearying for long time lurkers who normally enjoy the to and fro of comments made here. There is such a wide range of talent, wit, erudition and common-sense to be had that I feel as if I’m now in some sot of perpetual time warp.

    For most of the posters, Abbott appears to me to be the common enemy – unite and defeat the bastard.

    On that note, I was in Adelaide yesterday and almost threw up my breakfast reading one article of what I see appears to be a concerted campaign by the Murdoch media to soften Abbott’s image – all bonhomie, soft heart, “one of the people” and his miraculous family.

    I can’t recall the name of the author but they were having a meal together, the interview was (apparently) recorded verbatim and if I were a more innocent soul I’d have sworn the female reporter was doing something with her foot under cover of the table cloth!

    Can we possibly have a day of rest? it’ll all work out in the wash eventually, without all the bitchiness and nasty comments from some posters on here.

    Yes I know, if I can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but this has been going on for ages now. Anyway I think I’ll take the advice and go and lie in a hot bath or a while – that sot of heat I can stand.

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