Tasmanian election call of the board

A detailed look at the Liberals’ unexpectedly decisive re-election in Tasmania.

The Liberals’ win in Tasmania was quite a bit easier than expected, particularly for those who were factoring a backlash over the late-breaking revelation that the Liberals had an all-but-secret policy to liberalise gun laws. Late polls had the Liberals on around 46%, but they appear to have made it all the way to 50%, which is a fairly extraordinary feat in a modern Australian election. Labor’s low thirties vote share was in line with the polls, but the Greens’ 10% was two points worse than expected.

After winning an unrepeatable fifteen seats out of twenty-five in 2014, the Liberals have certainly emerged with a clear majority of thirteen, and could yet go one better. The north-south divide that opened at the 2014 election stayed open, but did not appreciably widen so far as the balance of Liberal and Labor support was concerned. However, the Greens did particularly badly in Lyons and especially Braddon, and no longer look competitive there.

Bass Braddon Denison Franklin Lyons Total
Liberal 58.9% 56.3% 37.5% 48.5% 50.8% 50.5%
Swing +1.7% -2.5% -0.7% -1.3% -1.2% -0.8%
Quotas 3.53 3.38 2.26 2.91 3.05  
Seats 3 3 2 2 or 3 3 13 or 14
Labor 26.5% 27.3% 42.4% 34.5% 33.2% 32.8%
Swing +3.2% +4.1% +8.6% +5.9% +5.5% +5.4%
Quotas 1.59 1.64 2.55 2.07 1.99  
Seats 1 or 2 2 2 2 2 9 or 10
Greens 9.1% 3.3% 17.2% 14.3% 6.3% 10.0%
Swing -3.6% -3.7% -4.0% -2.5% -5.1% -3.8%
Quotas 0.54 0.20 1.03 0.86 0.38  
Seats 0 or 1 0 1 0 or 1 0 1 to 3
Jacqui Lambie Network 4.6% 5.9%     5.4% 3.2%
Quotas 0.28 0.36     0.32  
Others 0.9% 7.2% 2.9% 2.7% 4.3% 3.5%


The Liberals have comfortably returned their three incumbents, Peter Gutwein, Michael Ferguson and Sarah Courtney, and Labor likewise with their incumbent, Michelle O’Byrne. The outstanding question is whether Labor’s Jennifer Houston gains the last seat from Greens incumbent Andrea Dawkins, which seems likely but not certain. Labor had 1.40 quotas in 2014 to the Greens’ 0.76, but preference pared the Greens back to the extent that they were only able to hold out Labor’s second candidate by a margin of 0.1 quotas. This time the Greens start from behind, with 0.54 quotas to Labor’s 1.58.

One point in the Greens’ favour is that Andrea Dawkins is their clear sole contender, holding nearly three-quarters of their vote. Conversely, Michelle O’Byrne has exactly one quota, with Labor’s four remaining candidates sharing 0.58 quotas, perhaps 0.05 quotas of which will leak. From there it’s a straightforward question of who gets the most preferences, out of what doesn’t exhaust, from the 0.53 quota Liberal surplus and the 0.28 quotas of the Jacqui Lambie Network. That’s assuming the present vote shares stay as they are, but the Greens traditionally gain on absent votes. It’s unlikely to be enough, but the Greens have surprised in late counting here before.


The Liberals don’t look to have repeated their feat of winning four seats in 2014, but they have come impressively close. This means a second seat for Labor after their disastrous result in 2014, with no minor contenders posing a serious threat. Joan Rylah looks like the loser out of the Liberal incumbents, with Jeremy Rockliff and Adam Brooks easily re-elected, and Roger Jaensch having the edge over Rylah. Labor newcomer Anita Dow has slightly outpolled incumbent Shane Broad, but both will be elected. The Jacqui Lambie Network finished on a disappointing 5.9%; the Greens did even worse, and look to be extinct as a serious force here; and former Labor member Brenton Best gained no traction at all in his bid as an independent.

The fourth Liberal seat in 2014 was achieved from 3.53 quotas compared with 1.39 for Labor, and they ended up 0.04 quotas clear of Labor’s second candidate (the aforementioned Brenton Best) at the final count. This time the Liberals are down to 3.38 and Labor is up to 1.64, so it’s the Liberals needing to play catch-up on preferences. While the halving of the Greens vote means the Liberals will do better on preferences than last time, the gap is surely too great.


Whatever vague doubt there may have been about the Liberals’ second seat was buried by the postal votes, pushing them up to 2.26 quotas. This leaves a confirmed status quo result of Liberal two, Labor two and Greens one. Scott Bacon clearly led the Labor field, and will most likely be joined by Ella Haddad, who has outpolled incumbent Madeleine Ogilvie, whose social conservative stances would not have gone down well in the progressive electorate. Former ABC presenter Tim Cox landed fourth, which is less well than I would have thought, although the ABC computer still has him down as “potential”. Otherwise, it was no surprise that Sue Hickey joined Elise Archer as the second Liberal member, following the retirement of Matthew Groom, nor that Cassy O’Connor was re-elected for the Greens. The question for O’Connor is whether she will have any Greens in parliament to join her, on which subject …


The Liberals are a chance of gaining the cherry of a fourteenth seat by holding on to their third seat in Franklin, where conventional wisdom had them likely to fall to two. If so it will be at the expense of Greens member Rosalie Woodruff, with Labor set to go from one to two. Engorged by Will Hodgman’s personal vote, the Liberals have 2.91 quotas to 0.86 for the Greens. However, high-scoring candidates like Hodgman tend to leak quite heavily, the effect of which in 2014 was to cost the Liberals almost as many votes as they gained in preferences, of which there were more to go around last time due to Palmer United. The Greens thus need to pick up around 0.05 on preferences, almost all of it through leakage from Liberal and Labor, which looks touch and go. However, they should get a bit of help from the absent vote count.

All the three Liberals in the frame for election are incumbents, with Will Hodgman to be followed by Jacquie Petrusma, and Nic Street sweating on the third seat. David O’Byrne has comfortably succeeded in his comeback bid, and is very likely to be joined by newcomer Alison Standen, who has a probably decisive lead over another Labor candidate, Kevin Midson.


A perfectly clear cut status result of three Liberal and two Labor, the only question being which of Labor’s newcomer candidates replaces the retiring David Llewellyn. With Janet Lambert on 2.6%, Jen Butler on 2.3% and Darren Clark on 2.1%, everything depends on preferences from Rebecca White’s 0.43 quota surplus. Little separated the three Liberal incumbents, with Guy Barnett, Mark Shelton and Rene Hidding all scoring between 0.74 and 0.82 quotas.

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.

56 comments on “Tasmanian election call of the board”

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  1. I think KB is almost on the money. Labor were expecting a big swing in the north as the economy was flatter than in the south. Probably late last year they decided they might have a chance at winning majority Government if they could pick up Dawkins seat + 1 other in Bass and take the 5th seat in Lyons (denying it to the Greens). A minority government was out of the question as a coalition with the Greens has proved to be an electoral disaster regardless of the merits of such a government. Hence the need to as KB said “outflank the Greens and do some virtue-signalling”.

    Re: KB “If it was actually a serious attempt to win or cause a hung parliament then it was an enormous blunder. ” I would have to agree. We might possibly have had a minority Liberal government if the Liberals didn’t have gambling industry money.

  2. I said it on the night, but I really think that first awful Andrea Dawkins interview summarised the Green collapse to a tee. In the absence of someone doing something specifically stupid to the environment in her part of the world (i.e. a pulp mill) she was completely lost for something to actually campaign on. She flat-out said as much and then mumbled that it left her having to talk about transparency and pokies.

    The Tasmanian Greens (also the Buckingham faction in NSW) are so focused on environmental campaigns as the be-all-and-end-all they’ve become entirely reliant on someone else doing something stupid to give them something to talk about. People like Kim Booth and Tim Morris could walk and chew gum on other issues, and it showed in their results then. That this has petered through to their disastrous choices of new candidates in Braddon and inexplicably in Lyons, as well as being already stuck with their poor choice in Bass, has then aggravated the mess.

    Every other Greens branch seems to be more sensible than this and seems to be able to campaign on issues that actually resonate with voters (the Buckinghamites at least have the advantage that there’s no shortage of people doing dramatically stupid environmental stuff in rural NSW), and in the medium-term I worry that the Tasmanian Greens are going to take out their Senate representation if they don’t get a clue.

  3. I think the only positive thing to come out of this for the greens is a really hard kick up the arse!
    As I posted earlier it has been the most inept campaign the greens have ever run, and Cassie has to take full responsibility for that.
    Yes they can bang on about the $$$ spend of the Libs, but that doesn’t stop you getting posters and bill boards out there (I think this has been lost on them and they think that modern media is the only way to go). I did not see 1 Greens poster in my home electorate of Lyons and as for Denison, only a couple until the last couple of days before the election when it was too late.
    Grass roots campaigning still has a place in elections because it gives a constant facial recognition and keeps the party in the minds of voters.
    The comments here about no environmental issues are not true, they just didn’t campaign on them. As a list… Cable Car on Mt Wellington, continuation of “secret” EOI development processes in WHA’s, lack of planning for costal effects of sea level rise, the end of the 6 year pause on the logging of contentious precious forests, the constant threats to the Tarkine from logging, mining and bogan rednecks trashing the place with their “Toorak Tractors”
    So there was plenty there, just no drive or energy from their leader and her party members. Bob Brown did more and raised more awareness than any green member during the campaign. I think she needs to take a long hard look at herself and decide if she wants to stay, its a long 4 years ahead, especially if she has to go it alone.

  4. Re the above, not to mention also that the Maugean Skate, a remarkable species of considerable evolutionary significance, is so threatened by ongoing degradation of Macquarie Harbour that the expert on the species believes it is probably stuffed. Meanwhile the former Environment Minister allowed the threatened species Scientific Advisory Committee terms to lapse through effluxion of time rendering the committee inoperable.

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