Tasmanian upper house elections

Hold on to your hats election buffs, for today’s the day Tasmania elects one fifth of its Legislative Council.

Live commentary

8.18pm. Final results for the night have Jim Wilkinson re-elected with 48.8% in Nelson, and Vanessa Goowdin comfortably home with 51.2% of the vote in Pembroke to 35.9% for Allison Ritchie. Postals are still outstanding in Montgomery where Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is on 45.6% with second-placed Cheryl Fuller on 30.0%.

7.53pm. Kevin Bonham observes a “very horrible result” for the Greens in Pembroke (12.8% with one booth to spare) but a “fairly good one” in Nelson (24.9%). Though presumably the lack of an alternative for Labor supporters in Nelson had a lot to do with this.

very horrible result in #Pembroke but a fairly good one

7.35pm. With all but three booths in, Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is down a little to 48.1% in Montgomery. Still a very clear winner though.

7.33pm. Better looking numbers now for Vanessa Goodwin in Pembroke: 52.7% to Ritchie’s 34.4%. Very good night for the Liberals.

7.21pm. More good results for Montgomery Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt in two big booths. A clear win for her, and a big result for the Liberals. Expect federal Labor’s prospects in Bass and Braddon to feature heavily in the after-match commentary.

7.12pm. Five booths in out 13 in Pembroke and the result is settling in at around 50% for Goodwin, 37% for Ritchie and 12% for the Greens. Without having given the matter too much thought, this is a softer result for Goodwin (and a stronger one for Ritchie) than I would have expected.

7.06pm. Wilkinson’s vote down 13.2% according to Antony Green, although he may have faced a less competitive field last time.

7.03pm. Jim Wilkinson has faded to 49.0% in Nelson with four booths reporting out of 13, but he’s still home and hosed.

7.01pm. Lots of booths now from Montgomery, and while the biggest ones are still outstanding, the Liberal candidate is polled strongly in the South Burnie booth and is now looking a clear winner on 50.8% of the vote to 27.1% for Cheryl Fuller in second place.

7.00pm. And now the large (1890 votes) booth from Lindisfarne Village is in, and Goodwin’s vote edges up to 51.5%. Ritchie is down to 35.3%, but Lindisfarne was a strong booth for the Greens who are up to 13.3%.

6.59pm. In Pembroke, the Agfest booth is better for Goodwin than the Mornington booth, as I guess you’d expect it to be, and she now leads Ritchie 50.9% to 41.9%.

6.56pm. I failed to notice that there were 1079 postal votes in that result as well. So Wilkinson definitely in the clear.

6.55pm. One small booth in from Nelson provides no indication that independent member Jim Wilkinson will be troubled (59.1% of the vote from 155 votes counted).

6.53pm. Antony Green’s projection for Pembroke, going off the previous upper house election, is even more favourable for the Liberals: 49.4%.

6.49pm. First booth in Pembroke (Mornington) has what looks to my eyes a surprisingly strong result for Allison Ritchie, who is on 46.8% to 44.7% for Liberal member Vanessa Goodwin. Perhaps this booth is a Labor stronghold?

6.47pm. On the basis of the result just noted, Kevin Bonham’s model, which works off 2010 state election results, projects Hiscutt’s primary vote at 44%. If so, that should be enough for her. That would mean a second seat for the Liberals in the Legislative Council. Can any local scholars tell me when there were more official Liberal than Labor members in the chamber?

6.44pm. Nine booths in from Montgomery (one of those is the mobile booth, if you think that doesn’t count as a booth), and Hiscutt’s vote has faded only slightly to 50.4%. However, all are small rural booths (324 votes at most) and the ball remains in Burnie’s court. Cheryl Fuller is a clear second place on 29.9%.

6.34pm. Three admittedly small booths in from Montgomery, and Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is polling very well indeed on 55.8% of the vote. You would want to see some booths in from Burnie though before drawing any conclusions.

6pm. Polls have closed, so welcome to the live coverage. I imagine the very first booths will report in half an hour or so.


As happens on the first Saturday of every May, there will be a partial election today for Tasmania’s Legislative Council. This chamber is composed of 15 representatives of single-member districts which face election over a six-year cycle, with either two or three seats up for election each year. This year is the turn of three electorates, two in and around Hobart and the other in the state’s north. The Legislative Council is overwhelmingly dominated by independents, with elections being subdued and locally oriented affairs that have more of the flavour of local than state government elections. However, the major parties sometimes win seats in Hobart especially. Labor held five seats at its electoral high-water mark from 2001 to 2007. Four of those have since fallen by the wayside, and the Liberals gained their one and only seat at a by-election in 2009. That was in the electorate of Nelson, which is one of the three up for election today. The other two are held by independents, of whom one is retiring and one seeking re-election.

Nelson. Hobart’s outer southern suburb of Sandy Bay and the satellite town of Kingston. Jim Wilkinson is seeking re-election after 18 years as independent member. He has attracted one Greens and two independent opponents. The independents are Helen Richardson, an Australian Education Union organiser who Labor presumably wouldn’t mind seeing get up, and Hans Willink, a former Liberal branch president and state election candidate who is running because of Wilkinson’s opposition to same-sex marriage legislation. The Greens candidate is Tom Baxter, an accountancy lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Kevin Bonham relates the results of the only opinion polling I’ve ever known to be conducted of a Tasmanian upper house election. Voting intention was not broached directly, and the results probably wouldn’t have been all that accurate if it had been, given the low intensity of Legislative Council contests.

Pembroke. The Hobart suburbs on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. This is the most intriguing contest from a partisan perspective, as it pits the chamber’s only Liberal member, Vanessa Goodwin, against former Labor member Allison Ritchie, who is running as an independent. Ritchie quit parliament in mid-2009 after enduring a storm of controversy over her appointment of several family members to her staff. Such were Labor’s diminishing stocks that they did not bother to field a candidate in the ensuing by-election, in which Goodwin won an easy victory from a crowd of eight candidates with 38.6% of the vote. Also in the field is Greens candidate Wendy Heatley, a legal aid lawyer.

Montgomery. Most of Burnie and the coast immediately to its east, including Penguin and Ulverstone. Sue Smith is retiring after 16 years as the seat’s independent member. The election has attracted an endorsed Liberal candidate and three independents. The Liberal is Leonie Hiscutt, a marriage celebrant and president of the Central Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Hiscutt polled 4.2% as a candidate in Braddon at the 2010 state election. The independents are Cheryl Fuller, the deputy mayor of Central Coast; Kevin Morgan, a former Department of Premier and Cabinet adviser and former ALP member; and Ed Vincent, chief executive of the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association.

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.

15 comments on “Tasmanian upper house elections”

  1. I suspect that if Kevin and William sat me down in a quiet room for hours on end and explained to me the Tasmanian parliament and election processes in simple terms, I would not understand.

  2. Really only a night for the hardened psephomanes, I suspect.

    Goodwin -who seems to trade largely on her moderate good looks and her alleged legal expertise – is a dead cert to be returned. She has shown nothing in terms of ideas for Tasmania’s future and, of course, toed her party’s line in failing even to support the watered-down forestry agreement. I’d be happy for her to lose to just about anyone, even the dreadful Ritchie. But she will win easily.

    Wilkinson is an ok guy, but has aligned himself too much with the forces of darkness. He ought to be voted out, but I think the silly phony green-led constituent organizations (“super-PACs” if you like) have gotten it all wrong by playing the man and not the ball. The point to make about Wilkinson is he a Liberal in sheep’s clothing and has been forced to vote against thr forestry agreement and SSM against his own better instincts. Paint him as a Liberal and some of the greenish affluent types might turn against him. But the campaign against him has been out and out nasty, and very big “G” Greens. I don’t believe it will work and Wilkinson should get back (but not by much).

    Unlike Kevin B, I expect Hiscutt to win. The northern half of Tassie has left the planet as it does from time to time and is feeling very right-wing to me ATM. The way people up there are feeling ATM they would probably go for someone even more right-wing than Hiscutt.

    So all bad news for those of us who hope we aren’t on our way back to the politics of the Robin Gray era from 2014 onwards. But I fear we are.

  3. My coverage will be at http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/legco-live-comments-thread-tasmanian.html ; I will try to drop in when the noise has subsided.

    I am glad I am not voting in Pembroke. I would find it very difficult to vote for such a dreadful choice – the unpalatable candidate who fence-sits (Ritchie) vs the intelligent candidate with some terrible party policies (Goodwin). Tasmania does not have OPV so just voting 1 Heatley (which wouldn’t enthuse me much either) would not be an option.

    Wilkinson, incidentally, has been personally endorsed by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman. I agree with Meher that there has been too much playing the man in the attacks on Wilkinson, in particular the puerile baiting over him not having an electorate office.

    Opinions on Montgomery vary and I am encountering two views in roughly equal proportions: (i) that the coast is mad as hell and Hiscutt will win by a mile, as above (ii) that it’s not that crazy and Fuller will get over by a whisker. Not being up there I’m not sure. Probably I should consider Hiscutt favourite because no-one seems to think Fuller can win by much, which would suggest that even for those tipping Fuller a lot of the MOE falls on Hiscutt’s side.

  4. On previous LegCo polling, Labor released an internal poll for Hobart last year with a sample size of a few hundred. It overestimated their vote and underestimated the Greens but correctly pointed to a Valentine win.

    There’s reported to be a Pembroke ReachTEL but I’ve never seen any mention of the results.

  5. I add that, for once, the subdued local flavour thing in LegCo elections has not been the case for this one at all: they’ve been a lot more like state and national elections than usual. Nelson especially.

  6. All going as I predicted this morning. Tassie remains on track for the election of an idiotic Liberal majority government in 2014 which has no policies whatsoever apart from a fervent, deluded belief that they csn turn back the clock on forestry: a belief that is not even shared by the remnants of the forestry industry itself.

    Get set for massive amounts of taxpayer $$$ to be pissed up against the wall in an attempt to revive this toxic, moribund and futureless so-called industry.

    But Tasmanisns are angry about the state of thtir economy and their anger makes them want to lash out at Labor and thr Greens. They’ll get over it after a few years of being governed by Will the Dill and his bunch of mindless gumbies.



  7. Re Nelson – Labor voters had an alternative there as Helen Richardson is a Labor Party member and advertised herself with red signs and stated her Labor connection. However she has nothing like Ritchie’s profile or for that matter Baxter’s.

    I did get off the fence sufficiently to tip Hiscutt today before the count started but I am surprised that she has won quite that strongly (apparently she is rocking and rolling on Vincent’s preferences too).

    Nelson was almost exactly as I expected with Richardson a little bit lower than I thought. Pembroke – Goodwin was exactly where I projected her to be in advance of the poll but Ritchie about seven points higher and Heatley about seven points lower.

    It’s not clear that any of the seats will go to the final exclusion. Montgomery might but if what I hear from scrutineers is correct it’s possible Vincent will put Hiscutt over.

  8. By the way my state-election swing-based model worked well from quite early in the night. For the record what I did was:

    * treat Wilkinson as Lib, Richardson as Labor, Ritchie as Labor, Willink as Wilkie and only model the Lib vote in Montgomery. (As I expected the Willink as Wilkie bit didn’t work that well but that didn’t matter as he wasn’t a factor).

    * for each candidate found the swing from the last election

    * then just weighted all the booth swings by size of booth and added the weighted average to the total

    Had a very spiffy spreadsheet but the effort of putting figures in for all seats quickly scrambled my brain a bit and contributed to me being a bit slow issuing CALLS late in the count.

    (Though I was also being mega-ultra-cautious, concerned there that in both Pembroke and Montgomery, the last few booths had potential to behave abnormally. They largely didn’t.)

  9. [Kevin Bonham
    Posted Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 12:42 am | PERMALINK
    By the way my state-election swing-based model worked well from quite early in the night.]

    What was the actual swing?

    What do you think this means federally (accepting the risks of extrapolation)

  10. Mod Lib@9

    Kevin Bonham
    Posted Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 12:42 am | PERMALINK
    By the way my state-election swing-based model worked well from quite early in the night.

    What was the actual swing?

    In summary it’s about 9% to the Liberal-ish candidates.

    Compared with last State election:

    Pembroke: 9.2% to Libs, Greens -11.9, ind ALP +3.6. It should be noted that Greens conventionally underperform in Upper House elections by about three points and that independents (even if only notional) will often overperform. So really it’s a Green to Liberal swing with not much damage to Labor. I’d expect that because the Labor vote at the 2010 state election in that electorate was deflated by candidate factors and my analysis has suggested there is not much swing against Labor in that state electorate (Franklin).

    Nelson: Ind-Lib +7.5, Ind-ALP -3.6, Green -3.7 Other -0.2. I should note here that the “Other” was probably competing with the Libs more than in the state election (since he is a recent ex-Lib who badged himself as a Lib) so the Ind-Lib figure might really be more like +9 and the Ind-ALP and Green figures should be increased.

    Montgomery: Swing to Lib on primaries was 3.6 but the field is not comparable since one of the indies is an ex-Lib and one of them has no clear party position. I think the suggestion here is that the swing is much higher.

    Federally – I take it as adding a degree of strength to the existing view that Labor should lose Braddon, probably hold Franklin and that Wilkie should retain Denison unless (and perhaps even if) subject to an HTV gangup.

    Updated my coverage at http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/legco-live-comments-thread-tasmanian.html with an end of night wrap and some Sunday comments about silly spin from pro-SSM campaigners (noting that I am also strongly pro-SSM, but I am not pro silly spin.)

    Was a fun night last night, at the peak of it had 2000 hits in three hours including close to 1000 link clicks in.

  11. …Thanks.

    [Was a fun night last night, at the peak of it had 2000 hits in three hours including close to 1000 link clicks in.]

    …cant say I stayed and watched the whole thing, but I certainly was one of those thousand!

    Well done 🙂

  12. Provisional allocation of preferences is done:

    Nelson: http://www.electoral.tas.gov.au/pages/LegislativeCouncil/LC2013/Results/Nelson.html

    Montgomery: http://www.electoral.tas.gov.au/pages/Media/PDF/LC/2013SundayNightResults.pdf

    Montgomery at least made it to 2CP and it’s currently 55.6:44.4 Lib:Fuller.

    Nelson probably would have been about 61:39 Lib:Green had it made it to the last two (I’ll revise this if I get any decent scrute figures) and Pembroke about 56:44 Lib:Ind ALP.

    The mystery ReachTEL from 21 Feb scrubbed up freakishly well for a sample size of 442 if you convert Lower House to nearest equivalent Upper House candidate. I used Lower House patterns very heavily in my projections before the count and anyone who says LegCo and H of A are so different that you can’t do this is clearly wrong. But these were much more H of A like LegCo elections than usual.

  13. Trivia: Baxter is the first Green to finish second after preferences in a race with more than two candidates outside of the seat of Hobart (formerly Wellington). In the seat of Hobart that has happened the last three times in a row.

  14. http://theaimn.com/2013/05/06/only-a-woman-would-be-silly-enough-to-think-were-sexist/

    Julia introduces action on climate change as was promised in 2007 election campaign, before being blocked by Coalition


    Julia survives Rudd challenge


    Julia survives non-existent challenge


    Julia survives as PM into her third year in spite of all predictions


    Julia successfully introduces NDIS scheme despite initial opposition from Abbott


    Julia turns water into wine


    Julia heals lame person


    Julia walks on water across Sydney Harbor


    Julia comes back from the dead


  15. Boy Liberals are an ignorent lot. Proof that stupidity helps when your a conservative.

    Bernard Keane ‏@BernardKeane 6h

    33% of Liberal voters believe we have higher debt than other developed countries, including 13% who believe “a lot higher”.

    Mr Denmore ‏@MrDenmore 6h

    Public debt to GDP: Japan 184%, Greece 148%, Italy 109%, UK 86%, US 61%, Germany 44%, (Australia 11% OECD 3rd lowest) http://tiny.cc/4d9mww

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