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. Tony Abbott stated that the fuel excise acts “as a carbon price signal” and is effectively a “carbon tax on steroids”.

    Repeal one carbon “tax” increase another

  2. Abbott is STILL at it! On ABC-24 right now…

    Demeaning the PUP Senators and spouting slogans like he was Opposition Leader.

    And his voice is getting shriller and shriller.

    Panic is setting in.

  3. What fuckwits Innis Wilcox and Jennifer Westacott are. So called business “leaders”.

    They are whinging about the uncertainty and declining business confidence as a result of the carbon tax “hanging on” and specifically as a result of the PUPs actions this week.

    Do they not have the brains to see ……. ? (sorry, I’ll re-word) …..They do not have the brains to see that business uncertainty began when the Minchinites got their way in December 2009 and “CC is crap” Abbott became leader.

    They do not have the brains to see that uncertainty increased when Abbott started his mendacious three year “Whyalla will disappear etc etc” campaign.

    They do not have the brains to see that uncertainty increased again with his promise to repeal carbon pricing as his first priority.

    They do not have the brains to see that uncertainty increased again when Abbott was elected with their support.

    And now they still do not have the brains to see that uncertainty will continue until Abbott is gone, regardless of what repeals or laws he makes in the meantime.

    Because AGW is real, it is a problem, and mankind including Australians well knows this and wants it fixed.

    Any business person who does not know this is on a speeding train to oblivion, pissing their shareholders future up against the wall.

    Those who do know it are not uncertain ….. they are in fact certain that management of AGW including a demise of fossil energy and expansion of renewable forms is inevitable, and are quietly re-shaping their businesses in this knowledge.

    Businesses that line up behind leaders such as Wilcox and Westacott deserve what they’re going to get.

  4. “@ABCNews24: Abbott: Not only am I trying to keep the Coalition’s commitments, I’m trying to keep Labor’s commitments, too #auspol”

  5. Re Citizen @31: Regarding election mandates, Benson in yesterday’s Telegraph claimed that the Australian people were stupid and ‘got it wrong’ for voting in the current senate.

    Well, they didn’t vote the way Rupert told them to.

  6. victoria @ 44

    [I have had a look at my gas and electricity bills since the introduction of the carbon price.]

    It varies a little from state to state due to differences in the carbon content of the fuels used, but on electricity it’s about 2.1 cents/KWh.

  7. Anyone watching Abbott’s drivel to the Liberal Party delivered in a now higher pitch?
    He’s hopeless – and he may be beginning to realise it.

  8. Doesn’t Abbott realise yet that he won the election? The campaign’s over! Try governing effectively – it’s his responsibility now.

  9. Royal Bank of Canada’s Sydney economists Su-Lin Ong and Michael Turner also pointed to slower momentum in the economy this year, with the effect of the budget on confidence partially to blame.
    “Employment growth has slowed, and indications of hiring intentions have slipped relative to fourth quarter and first quarter levels.

    ECONOMISTS worried this week that the economy might have lost momentum.

    THE week kicked off on Monday with news that the ANZ monthly count of jobs had picked up in June, but not quite enough to make up for the fall in May.

    ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said the figures pointed to “moderate” employment growth, slower than the pace seen in the first quarter.
    “More broadly, momentum in Australia’s economy appears to have softened in recent months, clouding the near-term outlook,” he said.

  10. psyclaw

    Jennifer Westacott started out in the Department of Housing in Glebe.

    I had a few insights into her in those days when I worked for Sandra Nori.

    Always presented as someone who was totally up herself.

  11. Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm has announced his intention to introduce a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

    More turbulence for Abbott coming up if this happens, although perhaps Abbott will be happy for a distraction from the carbon price repeal fiasco.

  12. WOW, you should have seen the front page of The Daily Disease I was unfortunate enough to come across yesterday:


    Palmer’s crazy crusade leaves Budget in tatters

    (full front page of a nude Palmer swinging on a big ball holding a chain)

    HELLO, the only one who is leaving the budget in tatters is Abbott with his scrapping of the carbon price you stupid Murdoch stooges.

    If I was Palmer, honestly, I would stick it right up them. You want to scrap the carbon tax…replace it with an ETS, NOW!

    Go get ’em Fat One 😉

  13. [victoria
    Posted Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 11:07 am | PERMALINK
    I have had another thorough look at my bills. No mention of the carbon tax anywhere]

    No $550 for you!

  14. “@COBrienBris: Senator Brett Mason jokes: ” @CliveFPalmer ate his brunch, then ate my brunch, then left me with the bill.” @LNPQLD”

  15. My electricity bill from AGL (Sydney) until recently had a dire-looking message in red printed on the bottom of the first page: “The NSW Government estimates that the Federal carbon tax and green energy schemes added about $330 a year to a typical 6.5MWh household bill –”.

    I was temped to ask AGL how much adding this piece of political propaganda onto electricity bills cost electricity users, given that it provided no useful information (e.g. I cannot specifically claim it as a tax deduction like GST on inputs).

    The message did not appear on my December bill. Was it dropped as a result of the Federal election?

  16. [This speech is approaching satire]

    Apparently Abbott has outsourced his speechwriting to the Disney fairytales department.

  17. [“@COBrienBris: Senator Brett Mason jokes: ” @CliveFPalmer ate his brunch, then ate my brunch, then left me with the bill.” @LNPQLD”]

    Palmer’s working assumption is that Abbott is behind it all – the innuendos, the Hedley Thomas articles, the insults – and this will just make him more determined to extract a high price of his co-operation.

    They didn’t break Julia Gillard and they won’t break Clive Palmer, who – for all his faults and foibles – got where he is by out-negotiating pissants like Abbott.

    Abbott will never learn: if you insult the person you are trying to convince of your point of view, they will not be convinced.

  18. Damien Murphy SMH hack & smear merchant ….
    On Palmer…

    “His graceless exit from an ABC 7.30 interview”

    I'd bet it was more graceful than Abbott and Pyne running for the door in HoR.

  19. Steve777:

    When it was first introduced my electricity bills referred to the “carbon tax”, but it’s since become a “carbon component”, something I only noticed on the last bill.

    And for those people whose bills don’t reflect any carbon pricing at all, how on earth will they know they aren’t being charged for it once it’s no longer law?

  20. Abbott will never learn: if you insult the person you are trying to convince of your point of view, they will not be convinced.

    Abbott doesn’t do negotiation. If he needs the cooperation or acquiescence of any other party in carrying out his plans, he tries to either force them off the field with a knockout blow (Slipper, Hanson) or bully them into submission. It is very disturbing that he is apparently able to enlist the resources of Australia’s largest media organisition in doing this. This is hardly good for Australian democracy.

  21. citizen@28

    Is Turnbull trying to con us or has he seen the light over FTTP?

    ‘Labor’s NBN’ to reach majority
    THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 12, 2014 12:00AM
    Rosie Lewis

    THE company charged with delivering Australlia high-speed broadband could still provide fibre-to-the-premises to more than 80 per cent of homes, despite the Abbott government’s pre-election preference for a fibre-to-the-node network.

    The CEO of NBN Co Bill Morrow told a senate committee hearing neither the government nor voters would be “upset” if 80 or 90 per cent of customers received broadband through fibre-to-the premises (FTTP) instead of fibre-to-the-network (FTTN) — provided it was the cheapest option.

    And that would leave 10% or so pissed off and angry at being left out.

    The ‘real NBN’ was supposed to supply FTTP to 93% with fixed wireless to 4% and satellite to 3%.

    If Morrow supplies FTTP to 80% then 13% will feel very short changed with a great deal of ‘fibre envy’. I would predict they would soon be upgraded.

  22. Recently I was challenged on Twitter to support a claim by me that it was technically possible for Australia to make a rapid change to a renewables-based stationary energy system. I expressed the opinion that it ought not to be beyond us to get the Eastern Grid at least 60% renewable by 2030. I suspect we could do better than that, but I wanted to be confident of avoiding overreach.

    I promised to put together a post on the subject, and began searchiing for data on Eastern Grid actusal and projected demand.

    I found a document called the NEFR 2013 (The National Electricity Forecast Report of 2013) and began plugging numbers into a spreadsheet.

    The report contains actual and projected demand for each of the states in the Eastern Grid, and takes into account some errors in the NEFR of 2012 (which overstated demand growth). I obviously don’t know if their revised numbers will prove correct — they may still be overstating because their assumptions about penetration of PV may be wrong, but having nothing obviously more authoritative, I’ve used them.

    Some preliminary findings which may be of interest:

    Total demand on the Eastern Grid in 2012-13 was 191.833 GWhe. This implies about 21GW of capacity at any given moment on the grid, but obviously, time of day, weather season, etc … are highly salient to demand. The major gowth state for demand is Queensland, which is projected to demand an extra 3.2% year on year over the next decade. SA and Tasmania are projected to ease.

    Looking at the figures, by 2030 if the total state by state demand variance is aggregated, then by 2020 we are going to need 23.65GW of installed capacity, by 2025 25.02GW and by 2030 (assuming the trend continues) 27.33GW.

    I find this all pretty interesting. Obviously 60% implies about 16GW by 2030. I am not sure how much we already have (there’s a fair bit in Tasmania and SA, but I am going to be chasing this up.

    Anyone else who wants to pitch in is most welcome.

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