Seat of the week: Lyons

The central Tasmanian electorate of Lyons covers some of the poorest and least ethnically diverse territory in the country, and it recorded the nation’s biggest anti-Labor swing at the 2013 election.

Known prior to 1983 as Wilmot, Lyons covers what’s left over of Tasmania after the north-west coast (Braddon), north-east coast (Bass), central Hobart (Denison) and Hobart’s outskirts (Franklin) are ordered into natural communities of interest. It thus includes small towns on either side of Tasmania’s pronounced north-south divide, including New Norfolk outside Hobart and the southern outskirts of Launceston, along with fishing towns and tourist centres on the east coast and rural territory in between, together with a short stretch of the northern coast between Braddon and Bass at Port Sorell. According to the 2011 census, Lyons has the lowest proportion of non-English speakers of any electorate in the country, along with the second lowest proportion of people who finished high school and the sixth lowest median family income. The Liberals gained the seat in 2013 on the back of the election’s biggest swing, which converted an existing Labor margin of 11.9% into a Liberal margin of 1.2%.

Blue and red numbers respectively indicate size of two-party majorities for Liberal and Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Wilmot was in conservative hands from 1901 to 1929, when it was won for Labor by the man whose name it now bears. Joseph Lyons had been Tasmania’s Premier until the defeat of his minority government in 1928, and upon entering federal parliament he assumed the position of Postmaster-General in the newly elected government of Jim Scullin. However, Lyons and his followers split from Labor in 1931 after a dispute over economic policy in response to the Depression. Joining with the opposition to become the leader of the new conservative United Australia Party, Lyons became Prime Minister after a landslide win at the election held the following December, retaining the position through two further election victories until his death in 1939.

Labor briefly resumed its hold on Wilmot after the by-election that followed Lyons’ death, but Allan Guy recovered it for the United Australia Party at the general election of 1940. It next changed hands at the 1946 election when Labor’s Gil Duthie unseated Guy against the trend of a national swing to the newly formed Liberal Party. Duthie went on to hold the seat for nearly three decades, until all five Tasmanian seats went from Labor to Liberal in 1975. The 9.9% swing that delivered the seat to Max Burr in 1975 was cemented by an 8.0% swing at the next election in 1977, and the Franklin dam issue ensured the entire state remained on side with the Liberals in 1983 and 1984. The realignment when Burr retired at the 1993 election, when the loss of Burr’s personal vote combined with the statewide backlash against John Hewson’s proposed goods and services tax delivered a decisive 5.6% swing to Labor.

Labor’s member for the next two decades was Dick Adams, a former state government minister who had lost his seat in 1982. Adams survived a swing in 1996 before piling 9.3% on to his margin in 1998, enough of a buffer to survive a small swing in 2001 and a large one in 2004, as northern Tasmania reacted against Labor forestry policies which Adams had bitterly opposed. Strong successive performances in 2007 and 2010 left Adams with what appeared to be a secure buffer, but this proved illusory in the face of a swing in 2013 that reached double figures in all but a handful of the electorate’s booths, and in several cases topped 20%. The victorious Liberal candidate was Eric Hutchinson, a wool marketer with Tasmanian agribusiness company Roberts Limited, who had also run in 2010.

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.

1,035 comments on “Seat of the week: Lyons”

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  1. AM

    Yeah agree with the intelligent for sure. A sign of which he chose Parkie and not Willisee to do the interview

  2. Really… who gives a damn about Ian Thorpe?

    Nice bloke and all that, but seriously, not a major concern, surely?

  3. One of the reasons why high profile sportspeople like Thorpe stay in the closet is because of douchebag commenters like this guy:

    [High-profile AFL commentator Brian Taylor appears to have avoided suspension over his offensive on-air remark.

    Channel Seven has ordered the former Richmond and Collingwood star to undergo counselling after he called Geelong defender Harry Taylor “a big poofter”.

    Taylor made the comment about his Cats namesake before Saturday night’s coverage of the match between Sydney and Carlton.

    He apologised for his over-the-top comments at halftime of that game.]

    Seriously uncool and a total idiot move.

  4. Fairfax should not have published Waterstreet’s unsourced trivialising nudge nudge wink wink piece about sexual abuse.

  5. Just Me

    As a gay man and a Labor (and prior to that, Labour in the UK) supporter – it is quite a burden having to suppress those feelings because some folks don’t approve! 🙂

  6. Centre,

    I noticed questions about Thorpe being a Collingwood supporter were not addressed.

    The public has the right to know about these things!

  7. Previous bloggers are right. Greg “The Blowfly” Hunt isn’t talking like he’s got any deal with Clive. And if he he wants a deal, the worst thing he can do is try to bully Clive.

  8. I reached the conclusion quite a few years ago that Ian Thorpe probably was gay, notwithstanding his denials.

    But I didn’t care. I just rejoiced in his triumphs.

    It is an indictment on Australia that only now he can admit it.

  9. Guytaur

    Manly and Collingwood, the two most hated of them all lol

    He do we want in the World Cup?

    I hope Argentina wins.

  10. ……also Centre, the usual retort from Manly supporters to people like yourself is, “and we hate you, too!”

  11. I saw the Paul Kelly/Murdoch interview this morning.

    It’s official, Rupe reckons the NBN was a stupid idea, people should work until they drop, and man made climate change is too minute to be of a concern.

    Though, he did say that if sea levels rise we should build homes closer inland.

  12. Dan Gulberry

    Read an article about the final with an amusing version of the saying “There is no “I” in team”.

    [ There is no “I” in Deutsche fußballmannschaft]

  13. psyclaw@864

    Discussion here a couple of days back about NSW Special Commissioner Margaret Cuneen’s evidence at the RC into child sexual abuse.

    Here is Charles Waterstreet”s take on it, with reference to Cuneen’s lame claim that she’d never heard of a case of female orgasm during sexual assault.

    Once again, I think you have got it wrong.

    She held the opinion that a jury would probably not believe it.

  14. 921 Centre
    That, of course, wasn’t always the case.
    In 1972, when Manly first won the comp., the whole of Sydney, central coast and most of the rural areas of NSW were behind the mighty Sea Eagles. However, in typical Australian style the ‘Tall Poppy’ syndrome cut in as they became the most successful footy team in the league during the ’70s.

  15. [It’s official, Rupe reckons… people should work until they drop]

    Octogenarian workaholics always reckon that.

    It’s because they hate the compulsion to work, so they want everyone to share the pain.

  16. guytaur@887

    I have been watching the Ian Thorpe interview.

    Abbott won’t like it. Thorpe saying free education and universal healthcare makes Australia great.

    Of course I agree

    Does Thorpe have any political aspirations?

    He could make an interesting candidate. He is articulate and popular.

  17. Georgie

    I think Manly are hated because Greg Hartley got them home against Parramatta in the 1978 playoffs.

    The fact that Ken Arthurson, a former Manly head honcho became the boss of the ARL did not help either.

    But when they stole so many players from Western Suburbs and many other clubs in 1983 – that was the icing on the cake.

  18. Centre

    Rupert is a bitter old fool that can’t come to terms with the fact he owes his empire to Homer Simpson

  19. BB

    Rupe also said that Abbott should be given a fair chance before he can be properly judged in his job and that he tells the truth.

  20. 928 Dan Gulberry
    One of the frustrations I’ve had to endure all my life as a Labor supporter and mad Sea Eagle follower! There was a period of sunshine there for a while when that great Republican and Labor stalwart, Thomas Kenneally was bestowed Manly’s Number 1 supporter honour. Then the club had to screw it all up and give it to that moron masquerading as the PM of Australia!

  21. Most Sydney Rugby League supporters barrack for their home team, normally from where they grew up if they grew up in Sydney, plus whoever’s playing Manly and whoever’s playing Melbourne Storm. Manly and Melbourne playing each other is a dilemma – you don’t want either to win.

  22. Centre
    One cannot be regarded as truthful if one statrs to make truthful statements after years of lying.
    Murdoch has gone senile and bitter. Perhaps he needs a new wife.

  23. Centre
    Whilst I agree that Hartley made some decisions that were favourable to Manly, it still is one of the greatest performances of any team in a finals series. Having to win two replays, one being the grand final, was a herculean effort that no team has managed prior to and post 1978.

  24. deblonay@854


    what is the margin in Mt Waverly for her to win?

    Hmmmm, I answered this earlier but the answer seems to have gone astray. Will do it again.

    Mt Waverley has a margin a touch under 7.5% which means, in the current circumstances, that we have a good chance of winning.

    Plus, Jennifer is a great candidate. She is a very smart lady and would be a great asset to the ALP in Parliament. She is ministerial material when she has some experience.

    Jennifer will be one of the few in Parliament from a Scientific/Technical background, which is a pleasant relief from the normal collection of lawyers, staffers and TU officials.

    Jennifer’s qualifications include:

    Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Business, Earth Science / Accounting – National Cheng Kung University

    Master of Science, Earth Science – National Cheng Kung University

    Master of Applied Information Technology – Monash University

  25. …..also, it was that colourful journalistic identity Roy Masters that took the dislike and jealousy of Manly to a whole new level when he introduced the notion of the Fibros verses the Silvertails. Wow, he really touched a nerve there! It certainly took the enjoyment of every Manly win to a whole new level for every Manly supporter, too!

  26. BK@939

    With those qualifications she would never have a chance to be nominated by the Libs.

    Sadly, they are not the qualifications that would normally get her ALP pre-selection.

  27. Hartley did send John Gray of Manly off in one of these replays for elbowing someone in a tackle.

    Maybe Hartley did not like Gray’s around the corner goal kicking style.

  28. BK

    If you saw the interview, I found it intriguing that Rupe kept banging his fist on the desk.

    Somebody should tell him to keep away from trying to dictate Australia’s democracy.

  29. BK

    I’d suggest that the Bludgers check a replay of that Kelly/Rupe interview.

    You can hear first hand of his true views on the big issues such as the NBN and climate change.

  30. BK@944

    Yes. Joe Bullock has a PhD in mediocriy.

    And me being a misogynist and wanker, as attested by William, it must positively have a few heads spinning to find me enthusiastically supporting a female candidate. 😆

  31. Centre

    I think John Gray was playing subbies rugby in his 40s – he was a bit scary.

    Dallas Donnelly was great. If only he dropped kick that drop kick Roy Masters instead of the pig skin we would have all been better off.

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