Tasmanian election: March 3

The hares are running on a five-week election campaign in Tasmania, where Will Hodgman’s Liberal government seeks a second term.

The Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, called a state election yesterday for March 3, which means there will be no clash with South Australia like there was in 2010 and 2014. Even though it’s not quite ready yet, I have posted my comprehensive election guide, which will be improved over the coming days with proof reading, candidate photos and, most of all, a poll tracking feature.

The most recent published poll from EMRS suggested the Liberals were in dire straits, recording them level with Labor on 34% and with the Greens on 17%. If this were even a bit true, there would be little doubt that Labor’s Rebecca White would emerge at the head of a government with some form of backing from the Greens.

However, the Liberals have lately been circulating their own poll, conducted by MediaReach from a sample of 3000, which paints a somewhat rosier picture for them. It has the Liberal primary vote at 41.1% (down 10.1% on the 2014 election), Labor on 34.3% (up 7.0%) and the Greens on 12.8% (down 1.0%).

As for the betting markets, Ladbrokes (for which you can find a link on the sidebar) has just opened a market that has Labor short-priced favourites at $1.33, with the Liberals on $3.33 and the Greens on $15.

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.

25 comments on “Tasmanian election: March 3”

  1. I’m far from being an expert in the intricacies of Hare Clark and how primaries translate into seat counts, but wouldn’t that second poll would still result in the Liberals losing their majority?

  2. Asha Leu says:
    Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7:29 am
    I’m far from being an expert in the intricacies of Hare Clark and how primaries translate into seat counts, but wouldn’t that second poll would still result in the Liberals losing their majority?

    That’s the way I read it Asha and the fact that Ladbrokes have Labor as the red hot favourite would seem to reinforce that view. All very encouraging.

  3. My guide main page is here with links to the side-pages:


    I’d ignore the betting markets except as a source of amusement. They had Labor $9 to win a majority in 2006 and Labor did so easily. They have also not yet factored in Rebecca White’s announcement that Labor will not govern in minority.

    My analysis of the MediaReach poll is here: http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/2018/01/new-commissioned-tasmanian-polls.html The Liberals could win a majority on those numbers but it would be touch and go. The tricky thing is that it often comes down to whether the Greens take the Liberals’ third Lyons seat but the Greens candidate has been invisible. Indeed when I looked for mention of him on their website I could find 1 mention since he was endorsed, and that had his name misspelled.

  4. Kevin is the go-to guy for Tassie-based expert advice, but FWIW here’s my Vandemonian layman’s perspective:

    If we adopt a non-partisan approach, the Libs really have done/presided over enough to warrant re-election. For reasons that don’t necessarily have a whole lot to do with the quality of their governance, the Tasmanian economy – especially in the Hobart region – has really bounced back since 2014. And, in my assessment, their overall performance as a government has been fair to muddling, which is more or less the benchmark for Tasmanian Governments of whatever complexion: we get very few that are better than that (the Bacon era stands out, but he was greatly helped by a bit of a windfall from the initial distribution formula for GST from 2000).

    However, against that ok performance and good economic outcomes, the Libs face a number of significant problems:

    1. Their vote in 2014, and the consequential number of seats they won, was more or less a maximum stretch for them. Only the tiniest of swings against them, or even a slightly different preference distribution/order of candidate elimination scenario in both Braddon and Franklin would see them lose two of their three seat majority. On top of that, their third seat in Lyons and Bass and their second seat in Denison are all vulnerable. So it won’t necessarily take that much for them to go to 12 seats and a return to Opposition: given that they (or, in particular, Abetz, McQuestin et al) won’t countenance minority government and, in any event, a Lib-Green coalition deal is massively less likely nowadays than in times past.

    2. In Bec White, they are facing an Opposition leader who is fresh, articulate, pretty (and we can’t underestimate that characteristic in a female politician) and comes from the small moderate left faction of the ALP which is the most urbane, business-friendly and pro-environment, and the least union-aligned element of the Tasmanian branch of the party. Not surprisingly, she’s quite a way ahead of the reasonably-popular Hodgman in the published polls (as opposed to the so-called secret Liberal polling).

    3. The traffic issue in Hobart is definitely a significant sleeper issue: especially in Franklin, which covers the eastern and southern suburbs of Hobart, which are two of the three feeder areas into the main Hobart traffic artery. Over the past four years, these areas have experienced rapid growth (by Tassie standards) in population and residential development, but no matching increase in employment opportunities: indeed, Vodaphone, which was previously a major employer in the southern suburbs has shifted all of its operations to the Hobart CBD. So almost every new family moving into the southern or eastern suburbs is putting one or more additional cars on the roads into the CBD, further congesting a road network that was already under serious stress.

    On the positive side for the Libs, the local Greens lack leadership and look the weakest they have done for many years. One of the big problems they face is that both the Libs and Labor have gone very quiet on the forestry front: partly because sympathetic politicians such as Bryan Green and Paul Harris have left the scene, and partly because, while the forestry sector remains in the doldrums, areas of the economy that depend heavily on an eco-friendly image of Tasmania – tourism, quality food production, etc. – are going gangbusters.

    It’s difficult to see the Greens doing any better than hanging on to their three existing seats, and possibly not even this well (eg, lose their seat in Bass).

    Another positive for the Libs is that, having lost Matthew Groom from the ministry and parliament in circumstances that remain largely unexplained, they have come up with a gun replacement candidate for Denison in the form of Sue Hickey, who has a considerable appeal to voters outside the blue parts of the political spectrum. Along with her long-time intense rival Elise Archer, Hickey looks likely to lead the Libs to retention of their current two seats in Denison, when – given how Lib-unfriendly this electorate is – one might normally have expected them to be reduced to one seat.

    I think the final thing to consider is that Australian governments typically only get voted out when they thoroughly deserve it: and sometimes even hang on for one more term after their use-by date (eg, Howard in 2004, NSW Labor in 2007, Tas Labor in 2010). So it is possible that, once the public begin to concentrate on their election day choice, they might tend more strongly towards plumping for the devil they know.

    So, on balance, my money’s on the narrowest of Lib majorities: say 13-9-3 or 13-10-2.

  5. PS: Consistent with the ABC’s findings from its online polling, I don’t reckon the pokies will be as good an issue for Labor as they think it will be. (See the link posted by Pegasus above.)

    I know that, superficially, the anti-pokies stance seems to have been a big winner for Andrew Wilkie. But I believe that this was more of a win for him in terms of branding than in terms of policy. In other words, his image benefited greatly from the public perception of him as the highly ethical sort of guy who would oppose poker machines.

    As a major party, Labor’s brand is perceived by the public as being much more grounded in realpolitik. So, the public are likely to experience a bit of cognitive dissonance when they see Labor taking a stance towards pokies which seems to have sprung out of nowhere in the context of an election, which strongly contradicts the Party’s previous policy and longstanding record in government, and which might both reduce government revenue and risk leading to the closure of popular watering holes.

    Yes, if you ask people in an opinion poll if they’d like to see fewer pokies, a majority is likely to say “yes”: for many people, saying “no” would feel a bit yucky. But saying “yes” to fewer pokies isn’t a signal that someone is going to direct their vote on that basis.

  6. Labor’s pokies policy will hurt Greens and make them less relevant. It is also useful in brand differentiation and signals to the base party stands for something. Most importantly in my opinion it is the right thing to do.

  7. The ALP policy is to remove all Poker machines from pubs and clubs by 2023?

    If so, I will be amazed if it is a winner (it might be v the Greens, but not v the Libs). If you tried that crap in QLD you would lose half the seats you held, straight off. Maybe the club culture is far more entrenched up here than in TAS.

    Personally I think there is too much gambling, or at least far too much advertising of it on TV, which I find particularly annoying, but as I see it people won’t like the interference, and it achieves nothing without somehow addressing online gambling (which I doubt is achievable).

    I am looking forward to Mr Bonham’s updates and analysis throughout the campaign, and the counting.

  8. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-29/economist-questions-emotional-claims-in-tasmania-pokies-debate/9371744

    An independent economist says both pro and anti-poker machine lobby groups are exaggerating the economic impacts of removing the machines from pubs and clubs.

    The fiercely pro-gaming Hospitality Association has used the second day of the state election campaign to launch an anti-Labor and pro-Liberal advertising campaign.

    Billboards reading “Labor and the Greens think you’re stupid. What’s next? Don’t let them tell you what to do” are being erected at pokies venues around the state.

  9. Small point and apropos of nothing but I’d like to thank Hodgman for breaking the cycle of holding the Tasmanian elections on the same day as SA.

  10. Fargo61: “If so, I will be amazed if it is a winner (it might be v the Greens, but not v the Libs). If you tried that crap in QLD you would lose half the seats you held, straight off. Maybe the club culture is far more entrenched up here than in TAS.”

    I fear it is a rather naive policy on the part of the ALP. The gambling industry will no doubt respond with a fear campaign along the lines of “save your local pub/club”. Local pubs and clubs are like small local hospitals: lots of people who never visit them and have no idea about what goes inside them will get fired up at any threat to close them.

    The Greens in Tassie don’t campaign on as broad a range of issues as their mainland counterparts: they are primarily an environmental party. So the ALP pokies policy is unlikely to prise loose too many Green-inclined voters.

    It looks to me like it’s a bit of a dud strategy, with almost zero support from the party at the national level: eg, Albo’s response was more or less “good on the Tassie branch for taking a strong stand on an issue that matters to them. But I certainly wouldn’t support such a policy outside Tassie.”

  11. Mick quinlivan: “Most likely a hung parliament……suspect the greens will not hold cabinet positions or be part of a formal alliance”

    Interestingly, while Rebecca White appears to have made a commitment on behalf of her entire party not to enter into a coalition with the Greens, Hodgman appears only to have made a personal commitment: along the lines of “if we lose our majority, I will resign.” I think this is the right thing for him to say under the circumstances: if the Libs end up on, say, 12 seats, Labor 10 and the Greens 3, then Governor Kate Warner is not going to accept a Liberal leader saying to her “we want to go into opposition and refuse to try to form a government.” Her predecessor, the late Peter Underwood, refused to accept David Bartlett saying this in 2010, and he only had 10 seats: the same as Hodgman.

    So, if the Libs win 12 seats, or Libs and Labor both win 11, I would expect Hodgman to resign, and the Libs to elect a new leader who would then put a package of very tough propositions to the Greens, which they would most likely refuse. Then Bec White or someone would be more or less compelled to enter into a coalition with the Greens.

    The other theoretically possible option – a Lib-ALP coalition – is not conceivable. If anyone within Labor even tentatively suggested trying it, you’d be able to stand on the north pole and still hear the sound of champagne corks popping in Richard De Natale’s office, along with the desperate screams of Plib, Albo and other inner city ALP members.

    But it’s all a moot point IMO. I predict the Libs will just scrape over the line with 13 seats : 2 in Denison, 2 in Franklin and 3 in each of the other three seats. Majority government remains just possible for the Libs, but whether it can ever be achieved by Labor in the foreseeable future is a very interesting question, in light of the demographic changes brought by a continuing stream of lifestyle-hunting immigrants from the mainland: for whom – notwithstanding the superficial appeal provided by the ascension of Bec White to the leadership – the Tasmanian ALP and its traditional concerns (eg, forestry and the unsightly smoke-belching factories on the Derwent) have by far the least appeal among the three major parties.

  12. What Bartlett said in 2010 was different. He said that Hodgman should be offered the first opportunity to form a government and that he would resign if Hodgman succeeded in convincing the Governor that he could form a government. Hodgman then didn’t present the Governor with any evidence that the Greens would support the Liberals, and instead tried to argue that Labor’s pre-election comments meant Labor would support the Liberals. Bartlett – possibly pressured from within his party not to throw it all away – said that wasn’t so. The Governor decided that whatever Bartlett had said during the campaign was irrelevant and all that mattered was that Bartlett was now advising the Governor he would not support Hodgman. However had the Liberals gone off first and dealt with the Greens, Bartlett would have resigned.

    After Hodgman didn’t get anywhere, the Governor then told Bartlett he had an obligation to govern – the basis for this ruling being unclear. However even had the Governor not told Bartlett that, Bartlett probably would have tried to form a government at this point anyway. It wasn’t that Bartlett was determined not to govern and forced to, it was rather that he was trying to govern while also extricating himself from stupid commitments made during the campaign.

  13. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-01/geoffrey-watson-barrister-report-tas-integrity-nsw-icac/9382860

    Tasmania’s Integrity Commission is toothless, under-resourced and unable to use the full extent of its powers, according to a barrister who worked with the New South Wales ICAC.

    Premier Will Hodgman rejected Mr Watson’s calls for changes to the act and extra funding.

    Labor Leader Rebecca White would not commit to any extra funding and stopped short of committing to making changes to the commission.

    “However, there are no other glaring issues that Labor party sees that need us to provide additional powers to the commission.”

    Independent MP for Denison Andrew Wilkie said Tasmania has the weakest anti-corruption oversight of any jurisdiction in this country.

    “If the Liberal party and the Labor will not fix the problems with the state’s Integrity Commission then the community has every right to ask, what are they hiding?”

  14. KB: Bartlett went a bit further than you say: he publicly congratulated Hodgman (and his dad!) for being about to become Premier.

    Bartlett was an odd dude: and, as you say, had made unsustainable commitments not to form a minority government.

    But then, so has Bec White (although perhaps there’s some fine print in her commitment).

  15. I can’t believe it! There’s a proposal to build a pulp mill plant at Dover, which is dividing the community. Don’t tell me we have to go through all that again.

  16. Support for the Jacqui Lambie Network (a great name for a prog rock band) has crashed, with the party once on track to win the balance of power in Tasmania now unlikely to win any seats. MediaReach track polling, conducted for the Liberal Party across five dates since the state election campaign began, shows that while the JLN started ­strongly, its support has halved in just two weeks.

    In Ms Lambie’s political heartland of Braddon, in Tasmania’s northwest, the polling shows the JLN started the campaign with 15.5 per cent, close to the 16.7 per cent required to win a seat under the state’s system of proportional representation. However, its support in Braddon dropped to 6.9 per cent several days later and stood at 6.1 per cent on Monday.

    Similarly, the JLN began the campaign polling well in the other two electorates where it is running candidates — Launceston-based Bass and largely rural Lyons — but has fallen away. In Bass, JLN’s vote was at 11.7 per cent on January 30, but by Monday it had slumped to 6.1 per cent. Its support in Lyons has fallen from 12.4 per cent to 5.7 per cent over the same period.

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