Tasmanian upper house elections: Windermere, Derwent, Mersey

Three of the seats for Tasmania’s 15-member Legislative Council are up for election today, including the only one still held by Labor.

Live count

8.02pm. Newnham’s in, so we’re done for the evening. It wasn’t a great result for Dean, bringing his primary vote projection down to 43.0% and Labor’s required preference share to 75.4%. But Scott McLean (16.7%) has more votes than the Greens (11.2%), and not a few of them can be expected to go to Dean.

8.01pm. I had that wrong about the Ravenswood booth not being in use. Now that I have it right, it’s Dean 44.0%, Labor required preference share 78.3%.

7.52pm. I hadn’t been accounting for the fact that the Ravenswood booth isn’t in use this time; doing so increases Labor’s required preference share to 80.5%.

7.47pm. Dilston (628 votes) and Mowbray (783 votes) leave the situation unchanged, Dean at 44.3%, Labor needing 78.7%. Only outstanding booth is Newnham, which with 2235 votes comfortably the biggest booth in 2010.

7.37pm. 1183 pre-polls push Dean’s primary vote projection back up to 44.5%, and Labor’s required preference share to 79.0%.

7.32pm. A weak result for Dean from George Town (1540 votes) brings his primary vote projection down to 43.9% and Labor’s required preference share down to 76.9%.

7.30pm. Inveresk (953 votes) added to the count, leaving the situation unchanged.

7.28pm. Elphin (809) and Hillwood (426) added for Windermere, leaving six booths outstanding, and I have Dean back up to 46.1% – the projections and the raw result (45.8%) having pretty much converged now – and Labor’s required preference share up to around 85%.

7.17pm. Three more booths from Windermere, including 1006 votes at Invermay, 966 at St Leonards and 745 at Waverley, put Ivan Dean at 43.8%. Labor, on around 28%, would need about 78% of preferences to win, which is very hard to see. But Dean’s margin will be much smaller than first indicated.

7.06pm. Mike Gaffney polling about three-quarters of the vote in Mersey, Craig Farrell on 63.9% in Derwent.

7.03pm. 579 votes from Rocherlea brings Ivan Dean’s primary vote projection down still further, to 44.4%. If Scott McLean hadn’t run, it’s possible you wouldn’t be writing Labor off at this point, although they would still have been needing a very large share of Greens preferences.

6.57pm. Biggest booth in from Windermere yet is George Town South, which is slightly less good for Dean and reins his projection back to 46.4%.

6.50pm. 544 votes from Norwood plus 251 from the mobile booth bring Ivan Dean’s primary vote projection down to 49.6%, but with none of the other candidates clearing 20%, we certainly have enough in now to call today’s proceedings an easy clean sweep for all three incumbents.

6.49pm. A second booth in Mersey, at Forth, favours Mike Gaffney 451-152, so you can put down your glasses there if you haven’t already.

6.48pm. A second booth in Windermere, 248 votes at Pipers River, causes me to reel the Ivan Dean primary vote projection in slightly to 51.2%.

6.45pm. Eleven booths now from Derwent, Labor’s own all of them easily, and I’m projecting it at 68.6-36.7.

6.41pm. The first booth from Windermere, 103 votes from Weymouth, is good for Ivan Dean. He’s up 15.4%, from which I’m projecting a primary vote total of 54.6%.

6.38pm. Four booths in now from Derwent, and I’m projecting a 68-32 Labor win.

6.34pm. Mike Gaffney wins the first booth in Mersey 100-47, so no indication of any surprise there either. Nothing yet from Windermere.

6.31pm. To booths in Derwent that gave Labor 39.0% of the vote in 2009 have given them 63.4% now, so clearly there are no surprises in store there.

6.20pm. Polls closed 20 minutes ago. Now I’ll get my act together for live coverage.


Today’s the day for the annual periodical elections for Tasmania’s Legislative Council, in which either two or three of the chamber’s 15 electoral divisions go up for election over a six-year cycle. The peculiarly low-key nature of the elections that result cause the chamber to be dominated by independents, with Labor and Liberal each having only one seat apiece (UPDATE: I beg your pardon – Leonie Hiscutt also won Montgomery for the Liberals in 2013). Among the seats in play this year is the Labor-held electorate of Derwent, while the other two, Windermere and Mersey, find independents seeking re-election. Labor is running a candidate in Windermere but the Liberals have reverted to type in declining to field any candidates, after disappointing performances in the elections held in the wake of Will Hodgman’s landslide win last year. The elections are held under a system of semi-compulsory preferential voting, with voters required to number at least three boxes.

The most interesting of the three contests looks to be Windermere, which covers the eastern bank of the Tamar River, from the mouth through Bell Bay of Gunns pulp mill fame on to the northern and eastern suburbs of Launceston. It has been held since 2003 by Ivan Dean, whom the Liberals once hoped might run as their federal candidate for Bass, and who served concurrently as mayor of Launceston from 2005 until his defeat in 2007. Dean had a fairly modest victory when re-elected in 2009 over former Labor MP Kathryn Hay, in a field that also included now Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson. He is now 70 years old, and as Kevin Bonham notes, his re-election would make him the oldest successful Legislative Council candidate since 1965. Labor’s candidate is Jennifer Houston, a project officer with the Department of Community Services. Bonham observes the seat has been “heavily targeted” by Labor, but they may have been done a disservice by the independent candidacy of Soctt McLean, a former forests division secretary of the CFMEU (now listed as an “industry and community liaison officer”) who ran unsuccessfully for Labor in Bass at the 2001 state election. Also in the field is Greens candidate Vanessa Bleyer, a lawyer.

Derwent extends from Hobart outskirts for about 100 kilometres through the Derwent Valley. Labor’s only remaining member in the chamber, Craig Farrell, is seeking re-election, having succeeded former Treasurer Michael Aird on his retirement in 2009. He has an independent opponent in Alan Baker, an IT consultant whom Kevin Bonham rates as “low profile” and unlikely to cause Gaffney serious trouble.

Mersey covers Devonport and its immediate surrounds, and is held by independent Mike Gaffney, who succeeded independent Norma Jamieson on her retirement in 2009. He is opposed by one other independent, business owner Vivienne Gale, who gets the same assessment from Kevin Bonham as Alan Baker in Derwent.

I’ll be conducting live commentary on the count from the close of polls, as will Kevin Bonham, who as you may have gathered is more on top of all this than I am.

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.

24 comments on “Tasmanian upper house elections: Windermere, Derwent, Mersey”

  1. I’ll be busy with the coverage on my site for a few hours but will drop in here later in the night. Very curious to see the first booths from Windermere!

  2. Gaffney is quite well known in the Mersey area as a former Latrobe mayor, I believe. He’s also an ex-Labor candidate for Braddon.

    Unless the Libs are tacitly supporting Gale, I’d suggest she’s got no hope given that she lives in Launceston and will only move to the area if she wins.

    Can’t comment on the other two races as they’re not my old stomping grounds.

  3. Wish I knew which booths were good for which party. First booth in Windermere has the Greens on 24.78%, but who knows if that means anything.

  4. PG – it would require a very strong showing from Houston in the remaining booths and then an overwhelming flow of preferences.

    Not impossible, of course, but rather unlikely.

  5. Dean currently needs 22% of preferences. I’ve seen no scrutineering figures but that really shouldn’t be too hard.

  6. Preferences were actually only mildly anti-Dean last time and that was with the pulp mill and also his opponent not being party-endorsed.

  7. Er, what was that about the Ravenswood booth? TEC posted Ravenswood results..

    138 8.98% BLEYER
    608 39.56% DEAN
    547 35.59% HOUSTON
    244 15.88% McLEAN

  8. I’m quite pleased Gale got thrashed in Mersey. I find something particularly objectionable about people offering themselves as “representatives” of a place they’ve barely set foot in.

  9. I’ve had some scrutineering figures from Windermere, a scattering from multiple booths with a respectable sample size. Preference flow not nearly strong enough. I’ve called it.

  10. Green vote in Windermere over time

    4.4% – 2003 (Despite Greens polling relatively high statewide)
    11.0% – 2006 (My own notional figure* from 2006 election)
    16.3% – 2009 (With high-profile candidate and pulp mill issue)
    17.8% – 2010 (My own notional figure* from 2010 election)
    10.0% – 2014 (My own notional figure* from 2014 election)
    10.8% – 2015 (After 4 years Labor-Green gov + 1 year Lib gov)

    Which looks like this in a line chart:

    *My notional figures include numbers from all the same Windermere booths except mobile, postal, pre poll, provisional and out of division

    Just thought I’d share that.

  11. Yes that pattern’s (#17) right as I understand it too. Except that in 2003 while John R Wilson is or was a Green, I think he ran as an independent. Also Wilson was a ring-in living well outside the electorate. And Wilson is widely regarded as one of the worst sorts of Greens – a bilious type who spends much of his time ranting in newspaper letters columns.

    One of my colleagues won a substantial costs settlement (out of court) after the Mercury published a defamatory Wilson letter. But Wilson never learns or changes – yesterday he created ire by endorsing the pouring of oil on a road, an action of probably deliberate sabotage that caused a Targa Tasmania stage to be downgraded.

    All these factors probably explain why the “Green” vote in Windermere was so bad in 2003.

  12. Bleyer provisionally excluded – her votes split Houston 54.6% McLean 23.6% Dean 21.8%. Dean now provisionally needs 19.2% off McLean (exact target figure could be +/- a few % depending on votes not yet received) + will get that easily.

  13. Dean wins 55.7%.

    I had a scrutineering sample sent to me, n=300 with Dean getting 49% off McLean. Those people did good work, it was exactly that.

  14. I put a fair bit of booth analysis up re Windermere on my site today:


    Dean got a swing back off the Greens because conservative voters along the Tamar were no longer worried about the pulp mill. Labor lost about 7 points off their (bad) 2014 state result because of competition from McLean and would have had a swing to them on that result of about 5 points without that distraction. Which on balance suggests they are rebuilding significantly from the state election.

  15. Governance in Tasmania will be better with a stronger opposition, so that’s good.

    If the Liberals have got all the nasty out of the way and go down a more moderate, Baird style of governing from here on, they could settle in for a few terms I think. If the Abbott distraction is removed, at last.

  16. ALP carpeted Windermere with 10,000 robocalls (must have nearly hit every house that had a landline). Net impact: nil, nought, nada, zip, zilch.

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