Call of the board: Tasmania

Some overdue insights into what went wrong for Labor in Tasmania, whose five seats accounted for two of the party’s five losses at the federal election.

Welcome to the penultimate instalment of the Call of the Board series (there will be one more dealing with the territories), wherein the result of last May’s federal election are reviewed in detail seat by seat. Previous episodes dealt with Sydney (here and here), regional New South Wales, Melbourne, regional Victoria, south-east Queensland, regional Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

Today we look at Tasmania, which has long been noted as a law unto itself as far as federal electoral politics are concerned. The Liberals managed clean sweeps of the state amid poor national results in 1983 and 1984, and the state likewise went all-in for Labor at their losing elections in 1998 and 2001. The state’s form more recently, and especially last May, suggest a normalising trend – in this case, Labor’s defeats in the northern seats of Bass and Braddon were emblematic of their poor show in white, low-income regional Australia (and they can probably count themselves likely that Lyons wasn’t added to the list).

Conversely, another easy win for independent Andrew Wilkie in the central Hobart seat of Clark (formerly Denison) confirmed the uniquely green-left nature of that seat, while a predictable win for Labor in Franklin typified the party’s ongoing hold on low-income suburbia. It may be worth noting in all this that the state’s economic fortunes appear to be on an upswing, and that this coincides with one of its rare periods of Liberal control at state level. It’s tempting at this moment to speculate that the state has a big future ahead of it as a haven from climate change, with electoral implications as yet unforeseeable.

In turn:

Bass (LIBERAL GAIN 0.4%; 5.8% swing to Liberal): Bass maintained its extraordinary record with Labor’s defeat, changing hands for the eighth time out of ten elections going back to 1993. The latest victim of the curse of Bass was Ross Hart, who joins Labor colleagues Silvia Smith, Jodie Campbell and Geoff Lyons and Liberals Warwick Smith (two non-consecutive terms), Michael Ferguson and Andrew Nikolic on the roll call of one-term members. The only exception to the rule has been Michelle O’Byrne, who won the seat in 1998 and was re-elected in 2001, before losing out in 2004 and entering state politics in 2006. Labor also retained the seat in 2010, but their member at the time, Jodie Campbell, resigned after a single term.

Braddon (LIBERAL GAIN 3.1%; 4.8% swing to Liberal): Northern Tasmania’s other seat has been a slightly tougher nut for the Liberals since Sid Sidebottom ended 23 years of Liberal control in 1998, having been won for party since on three occasions: with Mark Baker’s win in 2004, as part of the famed forestry policy backlash against Labor under Mark Latham (who may have taken the episode to heart); with the heavy defeat of the Labor government in 2013, when it was won by former state MP Brett Whiteley; and now with Gavin Pearce’s win for the Liberals. Also in this mix was the Super Saturday by-election of July 28, 2018, at which the now-defeated Labor member, Justine Keay, was narrowly returned. Such was the attention focused on the Coalition’s weak result in the Queensland seat of Longman on the same day that few recognised what was a highly inauspicious result for Labor, whose 0.1% swing was notably feeble for an opposition party at a by-election. Much was made at that time of the performance of independent Craig Garland, who polled 10.6% at the by-election before failing to make an impression as a candidate for the Senate. Less was said about the fact that another independent, Craig Brakey, slightly exceeded Garland’s by-election result at the election after being overlooked for Liberal preselection. Both major parties were duly well down on the primary vote as compared with 2016, Liberal by 4.1% and Labor by 7.5%, but a much more conservative mix of minor party contenders translated into a stronger flow of preferences to the Liberals.

Clark (Independent 22.1% versus Labor; 4.4% swing to Independent): Since squeaking over the line at Labor’s expense after Duncan Kerr retired in 2010, independent Andrew Wilkie has been piling on the primary vote with each his three subsequent re-elections, and this time made it just over the line to a majority with 50.0%, up from 44.0% in 2016. This translated into a 4.4% increase in Wilkie’s margin over Labor after preferences. For what it’s worth, Labor picked up a 0.8% swing in two-party terms against the Liberals.

Franklin (Labor 12.2%; 1.5% swing to Labor): The tide has been flowing in Labor’s favour in this seat since Harry Quick seized it from the Liberals in 1993, which was manifested on this occasion by a 1.5% swing to Julie Collins, who succeeded Quick in 2007. This went against a national trend of weak results for Labor in outer suburbia, which was evidently only in that their primary vote fell by 2.9%. This was almost exactly matched by a rise in support for the Greens, whose 16.3% was the party’s second best ever result in the seat after 2010. The Liberals were down 4.0% in the face of competition from the United Australia Party, which managed a relatively strong 6.7%.

Lyons (Labor 5.2%; 1.4% swing to Labor): Demographically speaking, Lyons was primed to join the Liberal wave in low-income regional Australia. That it failed to do so may very well be down to the fact that the Liberals disassociated themselves mid-campaign with their candidate, Jessica Whelan, over anti-Muslim comments she had made on social media, and directed their supporters to vote for the Nationals. The Nationals duly polled 15.7%, for which there has been no precedent in the state since some early successes for the party in the 1920s. However, that still left them astern of Whelan on 24.2%. Labor member Brian Mitchell, who unseated Liberal one-termer Eric Hutchinson in 2016, was down 3.9% on the primary vote to 36.5%, but he gained 1.3% on two-party preferred after picking up around a quarter of the Nationals’ preferences. With a further boost from redistribution, he now holds a 5.2% margin after gaining the seat by 2.3% in 2016, but given the circumstances he will have a hard time matching that performance next time.

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.

1,795 comments on “Call of the board: Tasmania”

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  1. For some reason the whole Emma Hussar imbroglio reminds me of the 19th century Schleswig-Holstein question. British statesman Lord Palmerston is reported to have said: “Only three people have ever really understood it, the Prince Consort, who is dead—a German professor, who has gone mad—and I, who have forgotten all about it.”

  2. Steve777 says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 9:29 pm
    For some reason the whole Emma Hussar imbroglio reminds me of the 19th century Schleswig-Holstein question. British statesman Lord Palmerston is reported to have said: “Only three people have ever really understood it, the Prince Consort, who is dead—a German professor, who has gone mad—and I, who have forgotten all about it.”
    For me its like the debate on whether Stalin organised Kirov’s murder in 1934 or not.

  3. The previous Newspoll was a month ago.

    8 Dec 2019
    #Newspoll Federal 2 Party Preferred: L/NP 52 (+1) ALP 48 (-1) #auspol

  4. I am predicting a status quo result for the two preferred vote for Newspoll, although the support for ‘Others’ will go up by a lot and personally I would be surprised if the Greens get more than 14%. However there will be a significant decline in Morrison’s approval and preferred Prime Minister ratings.

  5. Lars Von Trier:

    [‘For me its like the debate on whether Stalin organised Kirov’s murder in 1934 or not’]

    If it’s not about thus, what could it possibly be about?

    An aside, I note that “Grammarly” doesn’t do subtlety all that well, nor does it appear do you.

  6. Mavis says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 9:41 pm
    Lars Von Trier:

    [‘For me its like the debate on whether Stalin organised Kirov’s murder in 1934 or not’]

    If it’s not about thus, what could it possibly be about?

    An aside, I note that “Grammarly” doesn’t do subtlety all that well, nor does it appear does you.
    As they say in the media business mavis, subtlety is overrated.

  7. Got no idea what the Newspoll results will be and won’t venture an opinion. Like Schleswig Holstein, it will soon be forgotten.

  8. From last month:

    9 Dec 2019
    #Essential Poll Morrison: Approve 45 (0) Disapprove 43 (+2) #auspol

    8 Dec 2019
    #Newspoll Albanese: Approve 40 (+2) Disapprove 41 (-4) #auspol

  9. I suppose claiming a 9.30 newspoll but not yet delivering is one way to boost Sky after dark ratings at the moment from 1,000 to 1,010 viewers?

  10. Lars @8:58 PM. ” Come now Steve! A little candour on your part my friend would be welcome. Next thing you will be telling me you were opposed to Latham becoming leader of the ALP.”

    You seem to be calling me a liar. No matter.

    Re Latham, he was further right than I wanted but I applauded him when he was kicking Howard’s backside early in his tenure. I was disappointed at his unravelling. I voted Labor in 2004. I still believe a Labor win then would have been better than more of Howard.

    Alternative history: Kevin Rudd replaces Prime Minister Mark Latham in June 2006 and wins a thumping victory in 2007.

  11. Voters have vented their anger at Scott Morrison over the handling of the bushfire crisis, with the Prime Minister’s personal approval ratings tumbling as the Coalition falls behind Labor on a two-party-preferred basis for the first time since the election.

    However, the government has been largely spared the political wrath that has dogged Mr Morrison since his Hawaiian holiday in December, with primary support for the Coalition holding up.

    An exclusive Newspoll conducted for The Australian shows an eight-point drop in the Prime Minister’s approval ratings since December and an 11 per cent increase in those dissatisfied with his performance.

    The poll has produced the worst numbers for Mr Morrison since he assumed the leadership in August 2018 and has put him on par with Bill Shorten at his most unpopular.

    They also show Labor leader Anthony Albanese moving ahead of Mr Morrison as the preferred prime minster.

    The Newspoll comes as Mr Morrison on Sunday conceded he could have done things better in his response to the crisis and confirmation that he would pursue a royal commission into the ongoing fire disaster that has sparked fierce debate over climate change and the management of fire prevention strategies at a state and territory level.

    Fears that the issue had severely damaged the government will be tempered.

    While the Coalition’s primary vote dropped two points on the last poll to 40 per cent, it remains on par with levels recorded in early November and is higher than the Coalition’s average for the past three years prior to the election.

    However, a surge in popular support for Labor — rising from a low of 33 per cent to 36 per cent in the latest poll — has the Coalition now trailing for the first time since the election, with a six-point turnaround in the two-party-preferred split to put Labor ahead 51-49.

    The poll showed Mr Morrison’s approval rating fell eight points from 45 per cent to 37 per cent while those dissatisfied rose 11 points from 48 per cent to 59 per cent. The significant shift has delivered the Prime Minister a net negative rating of minus 22.

    Mr Albanese’s approval ratings rose from 40 per cent to 46 per cent, with those unhappy with his performance during the bushfire crisis falling from 41 per cent to 37 per cent, giving him a net positive ratings of plus nine.

    Voters have also marked down Mr Morrison in the head-to-head popularity contest, with Mr Albanese now leading Mr Morrison as the preferred prime minister — 43 per cent to 39 per cent.

    It shows a nine-point fall for the Liberal leader since the last poll conducted in early December before Mr Morrison went on holiday, and a nine-point improvement for Mr Albanese.

    There was little change for the other minor parties, with the Greens improving a point to 12 per cent, One Nation falling a point to 4 per cent and other minor parties dropping a point to 8 per cent.

  12. To be honest, the Libs will take this as being at the lower end of expectations.

    Honeymoon Scott has definitely taken a scrape.

  13. Come on David Speers (ABC News), the Coalition don’t want to protect coal jobs or cheap coal power (WTF?), they want to protect coal profits, coal donations and their own jobs.

  14. I must admit, Lars, I was taken by Murdoch’s pics with Ms. Hall. What she seems in him belies me though love takes many forms. I was in love once, maybe twice…

  15. Blog watch 12/1/2020 10.17pm
    does demographic collapse matter?
    My previous post asked whether demographic collapse can be avoided. Perhaps an even more vital question is whether it actually matters. Is demographic collapse necessarily a bad thing?
    Big difference to population is growing, we are ruined. You look at the birth rate statistics, basically, yes demographic collapse it is.
    PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 12 January 2020
    The dismal failure of the Madrid COP meeting in December starts the round up for 2020, and no one should be surprised by Australia’s disgraceful performance in Madrid when they see the government’s latest greenhouse gas emission projections to 2030. In better news, the highest court in the Netherlands has required the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. Nothing about the fires themselves, just a couple of observations about reactions to them.
    Well somebody gets it. Australia’s disgrace is on the demand side, we elected a Liberal government to get that.
    Stacey’s feminism
    And that’s where feminism is at. There is an assumption, a remarkable assumption, that men in the past pursued their collective self-interests at the expense of women. So that it can now be justified as “equality” if the reverse is true and we have a society in which both sexes pursue the material self-interests of women.
    Not a topic that rocks my boat, but we are all different.
    A climate disaster levy might just be a good idea
    Edward Treloar THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE recently launched a full-page advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald, again calling for a climate disaster levy. The levy could charge $1 per tonne of embodied carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from coal, oil and gas mined in Australia or other heavy polluters.
    Rejecting the emptiness of hell
    CAPITALISM WAS BORN out of the worldview of an empire and its state religion which claimed that a few were saved, and most were damned to burn eternally. Less than 400 years after Jesus Christ’s birth, the words and deeds of this Jewish carpenter from Palestine were converted into the official religion of a powerful empire.
    The rising support for Julian Assange
    Davey Heller. The working class is increasingly supporting Assange as they learn more about his dire conditions in Belmarsh Prison, the threat to his health and the end of the bogus Swedish investigation into him. However, there has also been increased support amongst layers of the ruling class, including social democratic forces who had previously abandoned Assange.
    Measuring the bushfire tragedy and what we can do next
    Kim Sawyer Now that the damage has been done, it’s time to think forward to how we can prevent another large-scale bushfire tragedy from happening again.
    Consumed by fire (crosspost from Crooked Timber)
    It’s been hard to think straight with the fires that have burned through most of Australia for months. Brisbane was among the first places affected, with the loss of the historic Binna Burra lodge, on the edge of a rainforest, a place where no one expected a catastrophic fire.
    Another blog to keep an eye on.
    Frontera – Sydney Festival 2020
    The intensity of this Canadian dance and media coproduction is almost unbearable. Animals of Distinction (AOD) has the core proposition that you can obtain critical knowledge by…
    Saturday Sanity Break, 11 January 2020 – Fires and exploding planes
    Relative quiet wind, some rain and cooler temperatures have helped calm the bushfires around Australia. This gives the firefighters some respite but still working to burn off dangerous scrub and put out some of the burning bush. When intense heat and strong winds occu…
    US expels Saudi military trainees after Florida shooting
    The Pentagon announced on Dec. 10 it was halting operational training of all Saudi Arabian military personnel in the United States after the incident. The Pentagon then announced on Dec. 19 that it found no threat in its review of about 850 military students from Saudi Arabia studying in the United States.
    ABC News “Looking to sink your teeth into a new series? Here’s our summer binge guide”
    Next time you hear the ABC bleat about not having enough money, just remember ABC “News” now runs a TV reviewing service – because there’s not enough of those on the internet.
    I fully recommend you go to the ABC link which is and skip the whine that it was produced.
    Iranian pro-women activist Masih Alinejad hooks into Julie Bishop over hijab and bowing to Iran’s regime
    Miserable ghost Turnbull calls for AOC-style Australian Green New Deal
    President Trump supports Iran’s people against their regime – the regime Julie Bishop bowed to
    Etc. and so on. If you want to get a feel for RWNJ intolerance, this is the site.
    Quick Dick McDick explains to Protestors the secret of Vegan Margarine …
    A vegan diet helps combat climate change? The video fits in nicely with here site. Load, irrelevant and stupid.
    Burning anxiety: The new normal isn’t just the fire, it’s the fear
    Back in September, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the United Nations that the climate change debate was subjecting Australian children to “needless anxiety”.

    Full news coverage.
    James Cook university crookedness in support of global warming continues
    Although replication efforts have blossomed in psychology, biomedicine, and other fields, they’re still rare in ecology, says biologist Shinichi Nakagawa of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The new paper “sets a great example,” says Nakagawa, who hopes it “will instigate and inspire more replication studies—not to prove previous results wrong but to make our science more robust and trustworthy.”
    Not sure how a validation study results in the title but I’m not trying to disprove global warming with nit picking.
    AFP eyes case of author Bruce Pascoe’s indigenous identity
    He’s no more Aboriginal than I am. He is just a fantasist
    Tried and convicted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)
    Degrees to AVOID if you want to get a job straight out of university and it’s bad news for those studying communications, psychology and maths
    In its annual Graduate Outcomes Survey, Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching revealed the number of students securing a job straight after university has plummeted yet again to just 72 per cent.
    Australia has been hotter, fires have burnt larger areas
    The word unprecedented is applied to almost every bad thing that happens at the moment, as though particular events could not have been predicted, and have never happened before at such a scale or intensity. This is creating so much anxiety, because it follows logically that we are living in uncertain time: that there really is a climate emergency.
    Like it or not mate, the heat balance is up the shit and the poles are melting,
    Queensland grossly negligent about back-burning too
    ACTING Fire and Emergency Services Minister Leeanne Enoch blames the weather for the State Government’s failure to conduct the required controlled burns for four consecutive years to 2019

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