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”

  1. E. G. Theodore @ #1539 Sunday, January 12th, 2020 – 3:21 pm

    P1

    Or are you saying it’s ok to mine it as long as we only export it and don’t burn it ourselves?

    What “people are saying” is that domestic burning and burning of exports are different, and need to be stopped using different methods.

    Oh? Which one of them allows the opening of new coal mines?

  2. John Quiggin is in danger of over egging the sandwich, in the political sense. His frustration is entirely understandable as he is one of the small minority’s of decent and competent people in a discipline full of scientific frauds.

    As he has pointed out, opportunity costs can be immense, and it is useful from the point of view of economic analysis to place these into cost based frameworks.

    However, opportunity costs correspond to opportunities, and most people are more receptive to talk about opportunities than about non-manifest costs. Brexit demonstrated this conclusively – people preferred lies about opportunities to truth about opportunity costs.

    The econimic cost of doing nothing is immense and in particular it dwarfs the economic cost of a vast array of sensible actions. However, the best thing to do is to start to take advantage of the opportunities. This is particularly so for Australia – we have both the highest costs (of any developed nation) from doing nothing and we also have by far the greatest national advantages (and unlike our dvanatge in coal, our advantages in new energy will never run out).

  3. The BBC, that hotbed of left-wing British journalism, has given a much more forthright reporting of the PM’s statement on the bushfire response than many locals. Note this is the lead item on their site:

    “Australia fires: PM admits mistakes in handling of crisis

    Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed regret over his handling of the bushfire crisis ravaging the country.
    The PM has faced mounting criticism over his government’s response to the bushfires and its climate policy.
    Since September, bushfires have killed at least 28 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
    On Sunday, Mr Morrison conceded there were “things I could have handled on the ground much better”.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51080567

    Perhaps it takes an overseas reporter to highlight how used to making excuses for our political leaders our local media have become.

  4. Socrates

    On Sunday, Mr Morrison conceded there were “things I could have handled on the ground much better”.

    Someone should ask him what those “things” are. He may not have bothered to find out. One can’t learn from mistakes if one doesn’t know (or care) what the mistakes are. The beginning of the end for President G. W. Bush was when he acknowledged that mistakes had been made but then could not think of any… people hate the idea that leaders aren’t trying to do their best

  5. P1,

    You have to wonder what it will take before the penny *finally* drops.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/nov/19/global-heating-supercharging-indian-ocean-dipole-climate-system

    Global heating is “supercharging” an increasingly dangerous climate mechanism in the Indian Ocean that has played a role in disasters this year including bushfires in Australia and floods in Africa.

    Scientists and humanitarian officials say this year’s record Indian Ocean dipole, as the phenomenon is known, threatens to reappear more regularly and in a more extreme form as sea surface temperatures rise.

    Of most concern are years in which the sea surface off the coast of Africa warms up, provoking increased rains, while temperatures off Australia fall, leading to drier weather.

    It is similar to El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, which cause sharp changes in weather patterns on both sides of the ocean.

    :::

    Recent research suggests ocean heat has risen dramatically over the past decade, leading to the potential for warming water in the Indian Ocean to affect the Indian monsoon, one of the most important climate patterns in the world.

    “There has been research suggesting that Indian Ocean dipole events have become more common with the warming in the last 50 years, with climate models suggesting a tendency for such events to become more frequent and becoming stronger,” Ummenhofer said.

    She said warming appeared to be “supercharging” mechanisms already existing in the background. “The Indian Ocean is particularly sensitive to a warming world. It is the canary in the coalmine seeing big changes before others come to other tropical ocean areas.”

    Australian climatologists have pointed to this year’s dipole as at least one of the contributing factors in the bushfires. Jonathan Pollock, of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said this dipole was “up there as one of the strongest” on record.

  6. Pegasus says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    …”I actually find it “passing strange” the ongoing focus on Morrison’s holiday overseas. So may words expended on it when what matters is what he does now and how it will be received by the public”…

    ………………………

    What matters, is that he was widely seen to have abandoned his nation in its hour of need.
    Nobody is going to care less what he does now, or ever again.

  7. Moral panic abounds.

    Adding to CO2 emissions by air dropping carrots onto Common Wombats… and Eastern Grey Kangaroos!

    Bizarro priority.

    Plus the expense!

    Neither of those two species are even remotely endangered. There are millions of Eastern Greys and as for Common Wombats, the name gives a bit of a clue.

    We have hundreds of endangered and critically-endangered species in Australia. And for many of them there is not a single dollar for their Recovery Plans. Not a brass razoo.

  8. The Australian public have retained their use of irreverent nicknames and hence the PM, until now know as
    Mr D’Art De Pends is now referred to as Alda
    as in Alda De Pends.
    Mr De Pends when informed of his user friendly name replied “I’ll submit that to cabinet at the next opportunity”
    And a new recruit to the Canberra media bubble innocently followed up with “will that be this year?”

  9. Boer war
    As I read the article it was about dropping food for brush tailed rock wallabies which I can assure you are a threatened species and have been for decades.

  10. Just working my way through the contributions on this blog (I’m about up to 10:15am today) and just wanted to add this little comment on the way through:

    Issues such as arson, lightening and accidental lighting of fires are clearly relevant to discussing way bush fires start, but they seem largely irrelevant on the issue as to why bushfires become wildfires.

    Similarly, fuel loads seem relevant to the discussion why fires take hold once they are ignited, but that is also a largely irrelevant issue as to why bushfires become wildfires: once a fire crowns (as it will inevitably do – and rather rapidly as well – in a eucalyptus Forrest that is bone dry with little ambient humidity) then the amount of ground cover and leaf litter is irrelevant.

    So many red herrings.

  11. Joe O’Brien
    @JoeABCNews
    · 7h
    PM @scottmorrisonmp says his original intention was to holiday on the south coast of NSW but he had to bring forward the holiday .. and that’s why he instead went to Hawaii.

    ***

    @RonniSalt
    ·
    3h
    This is an outrageous lie.

    The PM’s holidays are not a matter for national discussion? but they are now.

    The Morrisons booked this Hawaii trip in March – with the Stewart family and another family from the Maroubra Baptist Church.

    The Stewarts were there in Hawaii in Dec too.

  12. On Scomo’s interview with Speers, reading through the exact words, I am not confident of any actual change in policy substance. As others have suggested, it is not a choice of the “penny dropping”. They know they are lying. It is more a question of whether they have been caught out.

    Consider the details reported in the ABC:
    “The Cabinet and the Government will continue to evolve our policies to meet our targets and to beat them,” he answered.
    “We want to reduce emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it.
    “I want to do that with a balanced policy which recognises Australia’s broader national economic interests and social interest.”

    No mentions of time frames or specifics. No commitment to any actual reduction. We are getting worse not better in terms of emissions. Thanks to the fires, our total emissions including land use changes is now much worse too. So those credits will now evaporate. I suspect we will see a dropping of the land use change credit, not out of altruism, but to avoid having to count the negative impact of the fires.

    We will now see a shift in rhetoric from “Denial” to “Downplay” that allows a change in policy from “avoid doing anything” to “delay and minimise doing anything”.

  13. poroti says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve just watched some UK Sky News . Whatever the loons on the local Rupertarium Sky channel say the ones “over there” are kicking the shit out of Scrott and his wallies.
    —————————————–
    I might be wrong but i don’t think Murdoch owns Sky in the U.K, he tried to buy it but was blocked from doing so due to the phone hacking scandal.

  14. I doubt there will be a major shift on climate policy because the Liberal’s reactionary base will go ballistic. Morrison can say otherwise but Craig Kelly’s worldview is dominate among many reactionaries.

  15. Why do we need a Royal Commission Scummo?
    Ross Garnaut spent years leading an enquiry about this. His report had input from anyone who is involved in the science, in emissions and Australia’s coal and renewable options for the future.
    The likes of BHP, Rio, Unions, CSIRO, Govt Departments worked with Garnaut.
    Where is the Report? Frytheplanet had it. MT got booted and Scummo has it jammed in the Senate.
    The L/NP cannot deal with climate change and what has to happen as a consequence.
    We accepted lead based fuel had to go and shifted to unleaded. CFCs and the damage they caused to the ozone layer also changed our behavior.
    These deniers are not even game to start a conversation about what are the options for the future. Is it all about getting reelected next time and party funding from vested interests? Deny and deflect any statement based on science.
    Surely there is someone in the Liberal Party with the guts and the brains to take a stand against these morons on the front bench.
    The alternative is to put the L/NP last on every ballot paper you fill out and encourage your elderly friends and family to do likewise.

  16. “The alternative is to put the L/NP last on every ballot paper you fill out and encourage your elderly friends and family to do likewise.”

    The L/NP are a lost cause on Global Heating. Action can only start by booting them from office.

  17. I’d say ScoMo reset the narrative with the Speers interview despite the hyperventilation on this site.

    The reality is labor can’t put real pressure on the Libs on the issue because it isn’t prepared to own the costs of climate action.

    People can see ScoMo for what he is – but what is the alternative ? I thought the latest labor position was to defend coal ala Fitzgibbon.

  18. Steve777 @ #1574 Sunday, January 12th, 2020 – 5:14 pm

    “The alternative is to put the L/NP last on every ballot paper you fill out and encourage your elderly friends and family to do likewise.”

    The L/NP are a lost cause on Global Heating. Action can only start by booting them from office.

    100% agree !

    Voters must abandon the LibNats and install a majority of legitimate environmentalists who will save our society and economy.

  19. For those who didn’t see it, here is a description by a body language expert. The ABC didn’t show us hands or legs.

    Sara
    @_sara_jade_
    ·
    6m
    Morrison gives himself away by seated BL ankle cross under chair anxiety, threatened insecure with holding & self pacifying rubs thumbs, cluster of deceit. Hands on knees leg forward wants to leave. Finger prods Speers, dominance & aggression. Speers extends leg wants to leave.



  20. Last January in the US I could switch between Fox news and MSNBC on hotel cable TV. The political panels looked much the same but when they spoke – Trump is God’s gift to America vs. Trump is the devil himself!

  21. TPOF says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 10:03 am
    What is it about collateral damage that you don’t understand?
    ___________________________________
    Nothing as far as I can see. Collateral damage is where civilians are killed and property destroyed in the course of seeking to attack military targets. Not ill managed defence systems.
    If there had been US incoming missiles and the passenger plane shot down in the course of responding to them that would be collateral damage. Not this.
    It seems to me that if the Iranian authorities were so on edge they should have closed down the airport. That plane should not have been allowed to take off. Full stop.

    ———————————————————–
    OK. I get it.

    Donald Trump had nothing to do with the shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner.
    The horrific deaths of 15 children and 160 other civilians should not be described as “collateral damage” from his reckless act of assassinating a revered Iranian general.

    Thank goodness there are people like you around to straighten us out.

    I’m sure Donald Trump appreciates you giving him a pass for the extra-judicial murder that created the environment in which the Iranians made their terrible mistake.

  22. Andrew_Earlwood @ #1566 Sunday, January 12th, 2020 – 4:56 pm

    Just working my way through the contributions on this blog (I’m about up to 10:15am today) and just wanted to add this little comment on the way through:

    Issues such as arson, lightening and accidental lighting of fires are clearly relevant to discussing way bush fires start, but they seem largely irrelevant on the issue as to why bushfires become wildfires.

    Similarly, fuel loads seem relevant to the discussion why fires take hold once they are ignited, but that is also a largely irrelevant issue as to why bushfires become wildfires: once a fire crowns (as it will inevitably do – and rather rapidly as well – in a eucalyptus Forrest that is bone dry with little ambient humidity) then the amount of ground cover and leaf litter is irrelevant.

    So many red herrings.

    From my direct observation, as an (old) RFS volunteer, fires ‘crown’ because of the amount of ground fuel burning, and the local intensity due to temperature, low humidity and wind strength, are sufficient to heat the leaves on the lower branches to ignition temperature. In my experience bushfires do not normally spread in a ‘crowned’ form except, rarely, on a fairly steep slope with a wind, and their own updraft behind them.

    The particular difference from previous circumstances, based on my observation around Kulnura, 25 km inland from the NSW central coast, is that on ground fuel levels are very high, because eucalypts shed a large proportion of their leaves in a long dry spell (and branches as well), and the mulch layer, which is normally moist below the first 10 cm, is dry all the way through, as is the ground underneath. At our place we have had no measurable rainfall fro September until a shower two days ago, which barely wet the ground. In those four months a normal rainfall would be 17 inches in the old lingo. We have owned the property since 1986, and have never experienced a dry period like that over those years.

    I retired from the local RFS in 2005, but still attend meetings and assist with fundraising etc. We have never seen anything like this year before. 1994 was bad, ith several houses lost, but the few very bad days were followed by a southerly buster, and heavy rain. Not any more.

  23. Lars Von Trier @ #1572 Sunday, January 12th, 2020 – 5:18 pm

    I’d say ScoMo reset the narrative with the Speers interview despite the hyperventilation on this site.

    The reality is labor can’t put real pressure on the Libs on the issue because it isn’t prepared to own the costs of climate action.

    People can see ScoMo for what he is – but what is the alternative ? I thought the latest labor position was to defend coal ala Fitzgibbon.

    The reality is labor can’t put real pressure on the Liberal party under it’s current leadership.

  24. Mexicanbeemer @ #1569 Sunday, January 12th, 2020 – 2:06 pm

    poroti says:
    Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve just watched some UK Sky News . Whatever the loons on the local Rupertarium Sky channel say the ones “over there” are kicking the shit out of Scrott and his wallies.
    —————————————–
    I might be wrong but i don’t think Murdoch owns Sky in the U.K, he tried to buy it but was blocked from doing so due to the phone hacking scandal.

    You’re right. It’s now owned by Comcast, which also owns the NBC network and Universal film studios.

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/sep/26/rupert-murdochs-sky-reign-to-end-as-fox-sells-all-shares-to-comcast

  25. Both Dawson and Hughes are safe electorates and under any democratic system there will be nuffs like Kelly elected but they are usually kept to the margins where they can rant and rave without determining policy.

  26. BK

    Because ‘Strayans are as stupid as ‘Mercans. Although my working theory is Rupert is a cancer killing the Anglo-Saxon nations that harbor his malignancy .

  27. What’s crystal clear after all this is that Scrott is prime minister of this country until Scrott decides not to be.
    Howard all over again.
    Enjoy the next 10 years folks.

  28. 1934pc
    The point stands that many on the left could learn a thing or two from reading that book. When read in its entirety it isn’t that dark a book but is more a reflection on basic human behavior which some on the left don’t seem to understand very well.

    Allowing for the fact it was written in the early 1500s, the Prince does a responsible job if showing human behavior with a dose of cynicism.

  29. P1 ………..are the Greens not able to decide or their manifesto as is yours going along with the likes of mumbo and keeping Smirko there?

  30. Scout

    They are all over twitter calling out the lies. That’s the journalists platform.

    Anything you are missing is precisely because of media bias.

  31. Greg Jericho got it right early last year:

    “The moderate Liberal is a myth. Let us stop lionising them and rather ask what they have done that is either deserving of the label, or better yet, demserving of praise.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/17/the-moderate-liberal-mp-is-extinct-howard-subjugated-them-years-ago

    A vote for a “moderate” like, say, Trent Zimmerman or Dave Sharma, is equivalent to voting for a troglodite like Craig Kelly, George Christensen or Peter Dutton.

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