Tasmanian upper house elections: Apsley and Elwick

Summaries and live count commentary on today’s elections for two of the fifteen seats for Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

End of night

In the best news Labor has had electorally from Tasmanian in some time, Josh Willie has won the party a second seat in the Legislative Council by taking the north Hobart seat of Elwick from independent incumbent Adriana Taylor. Kevin Bonhan on Twitter says scrutineering indicates that Greens preferences are behaving much as they did when Taylor won the seat in 2010, from which we can infer that Labor has gained a swing against Taylor just short of 10%, whose margin was 6.1%. In the other election today, independent Fiona Rattray has been comfortably returned in the rural seat of Apsley, with almost exactly half the vote out of a field of four candidates. That leaves Labor and Liberal with two seats apiece in the 15-member chamber, the rest being independents.

Live coverage

8.16pm. All booths now in from Elwick, and they point to a 9.2% increase in the Labor primary vote, an 8.6% drop for Adriana Taylor and next to no change for the Greens. A little over 1000 postals are slightly better for Taylor, but she’ll need something pretty extraordinary from here on in to overhaul Labor: like a 78% of Greens preferences, compared with the 54% she got in 2010.

8.04pm. One more booth left to report from Elwick, and I’m projecting the Labor lead at 2.8%.

7.46pm. The Merton booth is slightly better for Taylor, bringing my projected Labor lead back from 4% to 3%.

7.38pm. Things keep looking better for Labor candidate Josh Willie in Elwick, who is now projected with a 3.9% lead from a 10% swing. It would now require something fairly radical on postal votes or Greens preferences to turn it around. The raw figures have Willie on 48.0% and Adriana Taylor on 39.2%.

7.27pm. Elwick: A very good result for Labor from the Lutana booth (swing 16%) and an adequate one in Windermere (7%) leave me projecting an 8.5% swing to Labor and a winning margin of 2.4%. That’s with seven booths, pre-polls and postals outstanding, and a lot of uncertainty over Greens preferences. Apsley: all but four booths in, and Rattray comfortably re-elected with 49.0% of the primary vote.

7.22pm. Elwick: the biggest booth so far, Moonah, delivers another tight result. I’m now recording a 7.2% swing to Labor’s Josh Willie, projecting to a 1.1% lead over independent member Adriana Taylor. However, there is no two-candidate preferred count, so this presumes Greens preferences behave as they did in 2010, with 54.7% going to Taylor and 45.3% going to Labor. We very likely won’t know the real story until preferences are distributed.

7.02pm. The 622 votes of the Rosetta booth are a steadier for Adriana Taylor, reflecting Collinsvale with a swing to Labor of around 2%, rather than the 13% in Goodwood. My projection now has two-candidate preferred tied to the first decimal place. Most booths are now in from Apsley, and the numbers are little changed on the previous entry.

6.54pm. A big win for Labor in the Goodwood booth, with 57.2% out of 470 votes, puts the pressure on Adriana Taylor in Elwick. I’m now projecting an 8.1% swing and a 2.0% lead to Labor. In Apsley, Rattray has dipped slightly below 50%, with the Labor candidate on 24.4%.

6.38pm. Twelve booths in now from Apsley, and Rattray is up to 57.7%.

6.32pm. The first booth in Elwick, Collinsvale, suggests a swing to Labor of a bit over 2%, against Adriana Taylor’s margin of around 6.1%. Another six booths in Apsley bring Rattray down to 52.0%, with Labor second on 22.7%.

6.20pm. The first booth in is the small rural booth of Gladstone in Apsley, and it records 116 votes for Rattray compared with a combined total of 30 for her three opponents.


Today is the day of Tasmania’s periodical elections for the Legislative Council, which come around on the first Saturday of each May. This post will be used to provide commentary on the results as they are reported. What follows is a quick and dirty overview: for greater depth, local observer Kevin Bonham is your man.

Tasmania reverses the usual practice in having proportional representation in the lower house and single-member electoral districts in the upper, which are elected by a semi-optional preferential system in which voters are required to number at least three boxes (so effectively compulsory preferential when, as today, there are four or fewer candidates). The 15 seats are elected according to a rotating six-year schedule where two or three seats are up for election each year. This peculiar system results in low-key elections that are dominated by independents, who once elected are very difficult to dislodge. The major parties don’t bother to field candidates more often than not, although Labor has for both seats today. The Legislative Council currently has two Liberals and one Labor member, with independents accounting for the other twelve. Independents are seeking re-election in the two seats up for election today: Elwick, based around Glenorchy in the north of Hobart, and Apsley, which covers the state’s rural north-east, not inclusive of Launceston.

Elwick was held by Labor until 2007 when the then member, Terry Martin, was ejected from the parliamentary party after voting against laws to speed up assessment of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay in 2007. Martin was charged on child prostitution offences in 2009, and did not recontest in 2010. A new Labor candidate was then defeated by Glenorchy Mayor Adriana Taylor, a former Labor member running as an independent. Taylor now seeks re-election in face of opposition from Labor’s candidate, primary school teacher Josh Willie, and Penelope Ann of the Greens.

Apsley has been held by Tania Rattray since the retirement of her father, Colin Rattray, in 2004. She won the seat from just 16.7% of the primary vote amid a crowded field of ten candidates, and was re-elected unopposed in 2010. Labor has chosen to field a candidate, for reasons that might make sense to people who are more on top of local politics than I am, in the person of Darren Clark, chief executive of the Tasmanian Police and Community Youth Clubs, who polled fairly well as a candidate in Lyons at the 2014 state election. Also in the field are Greens candidate Sophie Houghton and independent Brett Hall, a local farmer with a background in conservative politics.

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.

2 comments on “Tasmanian upper house elections: Apsley and Elwick”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *