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. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Well, the MSM will get its rocks off on the happenings of the last few days and then they will be left with NOTHING to circle jerk with. They will have to eventually move on to policy, suitability of character and talent. That’s when CREDLIN’S CREATURE will have to show itself properly.

    Lenore Taylor bows out from Fairfax with an introspective look at the role of the MSM.
    Yeah – everything except substance.
    Alan Moir farewells Rudd.
    David Pope shows the hubris of Abbott. Temporary, I hope.
    Ron Tandgerg isn’t too sure about Rudd.

  2. BK you are up early just a quick comment hve a wonderful day today hope the shining and you plus the family just enjoy a wonderful occasion and don’t stress over the speech 😉

  3. Hi mari
    Yea, they are all up now. It’s going to be a long, but enjoyable day.
    I’ve already given my daughter a big daddy hug.
    The speech will be OK. The toughest bit will be when I reference my long-departed father whose “cathedral” was the Adelaide Oval (where the reception is being held).
    I may sporadically appear on the blogs up until lunch time.

  4. Puff, the Magic Dragon.@#6362 (previous thread)
    Well Kevin Rudd is gone, and from someone who had a lot of sympathy for him, I can say I am ecstatic. If only for the reason that the Ruddstoration might finally STFU.

    Have to agree with you Puff. I supported Rudd and even wrote to my then ALP member of parliament complaining bitterly about his removal at the time. But time has shown that I was mistaken and that I had placed my trust in a leader with feet made of very soft clay.

    I thought the removal of Rudd was a mistake however since then and with the benefit of hindsight I feel that most likely there was no other option. However, the behavior of Rudd since then along with his acolytes in deliberately driving down the ALP’s primary vote is unforgivable.

    The quicker he and his followers leave the ALP the better for all

  5. [Ratsars
    Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:47 am | PERMALINK
    Thanks for your comment Mari. However, I now have a LNP as my local member and she is not much chop.]

    So sorry about that maybe a temporary “blip” on your landscape?

  6. Gawd. First crikey ‘sticks’ on me; so go off & put on washing, When it’s finally unstuck, my post isn’t there (yes, I did send it). Then, when I back-track & post it again …

    Bluddy hell! I stuffed up my end bracket. Again. How embarrassing!

    So sorry about the green.

  7. Behind the paywall but worth a read via the google backdoor … the OO dumping on Hartcher and Kenny for getting it so wrong. Talk about being ‘gamed’….

    “The dam of Gillard support has now been breached,” he told Fairfax readers.

    Both Labor figures moved quickly to distance themselves from the story while declaring their support for Gillard, with Carr telling reporters at a press conference in Washington: “I wish I’d been asked to comment on that article before it appeared. She has my support and I think the media’s in a frenzy of speculation, speculation feeding on itself, that generates these stories.”

    But the Fairfax reporting team were unrepentant, forging on with the story they were now so sure was correct – that Rudd was on the eve of challenging for the leadership and that indeed the numbers were firming behind him.

    And by now they were not on their own as all outlets – with the exception of The Australian Financial Review and The Australian – joined the hunt, ramping up a situation already overcooked. Says Mitchell: “It should be clear to any observer that Fairfax’s journalists, in their rush not to repeat their failures to report the leadership story in 2010, when they completely ignored the mining tax debacle, have done a great disservice to their readers and to the government.”

  8. And more from that Oz piece linked at Post 23…

    And more from that Oz piece at post 23…

    “That won’t stop many of them because they too have invested so much in a return to Rudd. But they must now know that their candidate is unreliable.”

    The week carried all the hallmarks of a gallery chasing a yarn they wanted to be true and ignoring the usual checks along the way.

    Former SMH editor-in-chief Peter Fray described the problem as one where the gallery writes “only for those inside the beltway”.

    “The man and woman in the street are asking: what the hell was that about? But you need to remember this is what gallery journalist live for, it’s what gets them out of bed on those cold Canberra mornings. The engine room of the gallery is elections and leadership spills, the big events.”

    Another former Fairfax editor, Michael Gawenda, says this week’s reporting highlights the problem of reporting the views of anonymous sources.

    “I’ve no doubt within caucus there are people who have obviously been talking about the leadership and the media have dutifully been reporting that talk,” Gawenda says.

    “But it is anonymous, they never put their name to it, and journalists grant them that right too easily. The goal of journalism should always be to get people to be accountable.”

  9. Rossmore

    and how many times did posters here say “There isn’t increasing disunity in the party. It’s still the same handful of MPs it’s always been.”

    If we could see that why couldn’t the press – who knew who their sources were – see that either?

    The joy with which they leapt on the suggestion that Butler and Carr were now on board shows that they HADN’T had any new names given to them since February last year, and thought that finally they have evidence to back up the idea of an increasing shift.

    As I’ve been saying, at any time in any party you could ring round MPs and find a disgruntled handful who don’t like the leader or think an issue has been handled badly.

    In this case, we seem to have had a feedback loop created, where those MPs who were dissatisfied with the leadership were feeding the media, who sustained them in their dissatisfaction by giving them far more importance than they really had.

    They gamed each other.

  10. It’s crystal clear that Rudd did in fact break his word about not challenging for the leadership…

    He and his closest supporters where still counting the numbers after Crean called for the spill…

    No amount of mealy-mouthed denials can cover up his treachery …

  11. Apologies if posted already, but this Mark Latham piece today is the best analysis available, as he puts it into context of ALP values
    Thursday’s fiasco in Canberra may not have flushed out Kevin Rudd as a leadership challenger in a party room ballot, but it has exposed the delusional nature of his leadership ambitions. His hope that Labor might arrive at a cross-factional consensus on the need to restore him to The Lodge was shockingly misplaced. A majority of his caucus colleagues despise him with an intensity rarely seen in politics, even by the toxic standards of the modern system.

    To their credit, in a strong, principled act of defiance, these MPs have said they would rather die on their feet with Julia Gillard than live on their knees under Rudd. This is something high-prancing Tories will never understand – the guts and determination of people who believe in something bigger than themselves to make a stand, not because it’s easy or convenient, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s an echo of the incomparable Ben Chifley: things worth fighting for, no matter the odds stacked against the cause of Labor. Maybe there is life in the old, battle-scarred beast after all.]

  12. Thanks, Rossmore.

    So in Rupert v Gina-Fairfax gang war-to-the-death, the OO delivers the next steel-capped boot-swings to Hartcher’s & Mark Kenny’s ribs! First OO Ed Chris Mitchell lands this:

    [“We did not put this story on page one because we knew he would not challenge … Journalists who swallowed this were being used.”]

    Then Nick Leys joins OO v SMH turf war:

    [Peter Hartcher of The Sydney Morning Herald was the main driver of the narrative. Target firmly in his sights, “The evidence of the last month is that, as a campaigner, Gillard is ineffectual,” Hartcher said of the Prime Minister’s attempts to win over voters in Sydney’s west. “So if Gillard can’t do it for Labor, who can?”

    The following day Hartcher doubled up with Fairfax’s new political correspondent Mark Kenny to deliver perhaps the key story of the week.

    “Ministers turn on PM” the headline said]

    Dog eats dog, as the saying goes.

    Should make Hartcher & Kenny haters very happy indeed.

  13. Thanks to CTar1 @ 13 and mari @ 18.

    That is the price one must pay living in a marginal electorate.

    However, after the damage Rudd and his mates have caused I suspect that there will not be a change this time. Which mean that we will all pay for his disloyalty and ego trip.

  14. KRudd speaks Mandarin & knows China well. His idea of “Drafted” is him like a Chinese Emperor with the plebs on all four begging mercy

  15. What to make of this?

    [Kevin Rudd text message shows he tried to block Simon Crean’s move to spill, as he offers to tour Labor’s Queensland battleground electorates with Julia Gillard in a sign of solidarity]

    Read more:

  16. Markjs – Counting numbers does not equal challenging. Challenging would have been putting his hand up for the challenge.

    He wanted it in writing on a petition in order to keep his word.

    How else could he have got the go ahead to take over the leadership? Answer this question, or retract.

  17. [So in Rupert v Gina-Fairfax gang war-to-the-death, the OO delivers the next steel-capped boot-swings to Hartcher’s & Mark Kenny’s ribs!]

    Fairfax will never win a tabloid race to the bottom with Murdoch. It is patently obvious that they should now implement their recently publicly declared policy of “fair and balanced”.

  18. [citizen
    Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    What to make of this?

    Kevin Rudd text message shows he tried to block Simon Crean’s move to spill, as he offers to tour Labor’s Queensland battleground electorates with Julia Gillard in a sign of solidarity]

    The little man didn’t have the numbers; again; Victoria summed it up. You have f. up labor now f. off.

  19. Citizen, they cater to different demographics and they print what their audience want to read.

    Fair and balanced means many different things to many different people.

    I say this as a green with an idea of fair and balanced that is not reflected in MSM.

  20. [citizen
    Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 8:55 am | Permalink


    Fairfax will never win a tabloid race to the bottom with Murdoch. It is patently obvious that they should now implement their recently publicly declared policy of “fair and balanced”.]
    Fairfax can charge a higher advertising rate because they have a better healed readership, they seem to be busy trying to piss that into the wind also. In the new fairfax, where does the bullshit start and end.

  21. Thanks Boerwar and all the others for your kind wishes.
    I’ve just finished a couple of hours of cleanup work around the property and the LIST left to me has all been attended to. All I have to do now is to have an hour’s rest and wait for the make-up lady and photographer to appear along with the the return of the phalanx of ladies down on the flatlands geting all coiffed and polished.
    My preparation consists of polishing my shoes,a shower, a shave and suiting up.

  22. [rummel
    Posted Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Morning bludgers. 176 days until Australia votes.]

    176 days and Gillard will have another trophy hanging on the the wall “Abbott”.

  23. sprocket,

    Latham’s analysis and insight has been remarkable during this week’s turmoil.

    His articles have been entirely different to the Rudd acolytes that populate the MSM. Some may not agree with his conclusions. But, he has certainly provided quality information on what was really happening throughout.

  24. sprocket

    Latham gets it right, IMHO. Savva had an article yesterday, which I did not bother reading, which had a headline referring to Rudd and Gillard: the mad and the bad. Savva got the mad bit right but of course, being a Coalition hack she got the bad wrong. The mad is absolute. The ‘bad’ is a matter for judgement and, in the absence of perfection, will be an on-balance judgement.

    Gillard has made numerous ‘political’ mistakes of her own making.

    But her worst political mistake was timing: she has been around while Rudd and Abbott are around. Her second worst political mistake was to be around at a time when DT and the OO dropped any pretence at balance, fairness, reasonabless and simply became Abbott’s Yellow Press. She made the political mistake of being a woman. The visceral hatred I hear from old white men around me is disproportionate to whatever else drives their hate. It is very, very often couched in those terms that tell you straight away that gender hate is going on. Gillard made the political mistake of being around when decades of NSW Labor corruption caught up with the Labor Party. Gillard made the political mistake of being around while the GFC and global responses to the GFC roil our economic waters. Gillard made the political mistake of being around when we were still in yet another Liberal war. Gillard made the political mistake of being around when decades of Defence rapes and assorted bastardry finally surfaced in a comprehensive way. Gillard made the political mistake of being the first Australian prime minister for some time who was saddled with having to make a minority government work.

    Then there are the political mistakes that go with judgements about public policy making – timing, judgements about how to present them and so on. Then there are what I would call bad policies.

    In the end, it is bad policies by which we should judge a prime minister. Looking over all the policies that are in place, all the legislation that is in place there are very, very few outright bad policies. Put it another way – most of her policies are fairly good to excellent.

  25. Radguy …

    As expected …mealy-mouthed nonsense: “Counting numbers does not equal challenging. Challenging would have been putting his hand up for the challenge.”

    Rudd was challenging alright …he just did it through intermediaries …like the arrant coward he is…

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