Tasmanian upper house elections: Rumney, Murchison, Launceston

The annual round of Tasmanian upper house elections encompasses a live three-way race on Hobart’s fringe and two somnolent contests where country independents seek re-election.

Live commentary

8.50pm. I believe we have all the results we’re going to get for the evening, meaning all the booths plus pre-poll and postal counts. All three incumbents have been handsomely re-elected, with Labor’s Sarah Lovell remaining a shade over 50% on the primary vote in Rumney with the Liberal candidate a distant second on 26.5%. Independent Rosemary Armitage ended with 78.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens in Launceston, while Ruth Forrest in Murchison finished on 71.8% against two independent challengers plus Shooters Fishers and Farmers. The numbers in the chamber will duly remain at four each for Liberal and Labor plus seven independents.

7.35pm. A ninth booth pegs Lovell back to 51.9%, while Rosemary Armitage lead in Launceston continues to inflate, putting her at 75.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens.

7.28pm. Eight out of twelve booths now in from Rumney and Sarah Lovell still commands a majority of the primary vote, now on 53.0%, leaving no remaining doubt with the Liberal on 25.2% and Tony Mulder on 15.0%.

7.18pm. A fifth booth in Rumney pushes Labor’s Sarah Lovell up to 52.1%, making an 19.1% improvement on her 2017 performance on a booth-matched basis, despite the Liberals being on 25.7% in a seat they didn’t contest last time.

7.08pm. A flood of results from Rumney gives us four booths out of 12, all of which were in the electorate in 2017, and which collectively show a handsome swing to Labor of 17.5% compared with 2017, despite the fact there was no Liberal candidate in the field on that occasion. Labor’s Sarah Lovell is at 50.5% of the primary vote and seemingly headed for a comfortable win, with the Liberal candidate on 25.9% and independent Tony Mulder on 16.9%, which on a booth-matched basis is 7.2% behind his losing performance in 2017 on a booth-matched basis.

7.06pm. The Agfest booth is the first to report from Rumney, and limited though this information may be, it looks encouraging for Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell. She has scored 42.6% compared with the 28.4% she scored from the Agfest booth in 2017, albeit that the seat had different boundaries then encompassing more rural territory.

7.05pm. Armitage now close to 70% with six booths in out of twelve. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.53pm. Three booths now in from Launceston, showing Rosemary Armitage headed for an easy win on 67.3%. Ruth Forrest is on 66.9% in Murchison with 17 booths in out of 30. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.43pm. Greens candidate Cecily Rosol scores a respectable 41.2% in the first booth in Launceston, Launceston Central, where she is the only challenger to independent incumbent Rosemary Armitage. Ruth Forrest now at 65.1% in Murchison, with 11 booths reporting out of 30.

6.34pm. Forrest down to 62.1% in Murchison, where results continue to come through at a rapid clip, with six booths now in.

6.30pm. The first two booths in Murchison have Ruth Forrest on 68.9% in her field of four, suggesting I’m unlikely to be devoting much attention to that count over the coming hours.

6.05pm. Polls closed five minutes ago, and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission now has its results pages up for Rumney, Murchison and Launceston. Small booths from Murchison should be reporting in fairly short order, but the others two may be a while longer.


Tasmania holds its annual periodical Legislative Council elections today, whereby either two or three of the chamber’s fifteen single-member constituencies go up for election on (usually) the first Saturday in May over the course of a six-year cycle. Among the many distinctive things about this system is its tendency to elect independents, particularly in country seats, the current composition of the chamber being four seats apiece for Liberal and Labor with independents accounting for the other seven.

This year’s trio of elections has long-serving independents Ruth Forrest and Rosemary Armitage seeking re-election in Murchison, which covers most of Burnie and the state’s sparsely populated west coast, and Launceston, which generally accounts for the centre and south-east of the city bearing its name. Local authority Kevin Bonham relates that the Liberals tried to land a candidate to run against Forrest but found not takers, leaving her to face three “obscure challengers”, two independent and one from Shooters Fishers and Farmers. Armitage faces only a Greens challenger and will presumably win easily, as independent incumbents generally do.

The most interesting of the three contests is for Rumney, covering Hobart’s outskirts on the eastern side of the Derwent, where Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell faces two substantial challengers: Tony Mulder, who held the seat as an independent from 2011 until his defeat at Lovell’s hands in 2017, and Liberal candidate Gregory Brown, who has sought to make waves by advocating mandatory minimum jail terms for child sex abusers and a tough approach to criminal justice matters in general. Shooters Fishers and Farmers are also in the field.

Live coverage of the count will be appended to this post after polls close at 6pm.

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.

3 comments on “Tasmanian upper house elections: Rumney, Murchison, Launceston”

  1. *tap tap* This thing on?

    Via Kevin:

    Ruth Forrest has recorded the highest ever Legislative Council vote for a candidate with three or more opponents, beating the 66.4% set by Peter McKay in a field of five in Pembroke 1976. It appears she will even record the highest vote for a candidate with two or more opponents, beating Hugh Hiscutt’s 70.95% in a field of three in West Devon 1989.

    Almost 72%, against three other candidates. That’s a paddlin’.

    Via the TEC:

    As mentioned earlier, each nomination must include a nomination deposit of $400. The
    returning officer will refund the nomination deposit if the candidate has:
    » been elected;
    » not been elected but, at any stage of the scrutiny obtained a number of votes which is
    not less than 20% of an absolute majority of votes;
    » withdrawn their nomination as a candidate before the end of the nomination period;
    » died before polling day.

    (Whatever “at any stage of the scrutiny” means.) So anyone who didn’t win donated $400 to the TEC, except the Lib in Rumney and maybe the Green in Launceston. No wonder Tas LC elections don’t attract many candidates.

    Deposit refund rules seem to be slightly different everywhere. In the NT, it’s also 20% (a lot more than some); the catch is, it’s 20% of the winner’s primary votes (so in Murchison, that’d be a tick over 14%).

    You know it’s a walkover when the most interesting thing is who got their deposit back, or if any records have been broken.

  2. I presume that “at any stage of scrutiny” means that preferences gained in distributions count towards the threshold and exhausted votes technically shrink the threshold. Although, given a formal vote in the Tasmanian Legislative Council requires 3 preferences (if there are sufficient candidates) remaining bellow the threshold long enough to benefit from its declining would require a large candidate field.

    And 20% of an absolute majority is either 10%+0.1 votes or 10%+0.2 votes, depending on whether the number of votes is odd or even. That means only 2 candidates are set to lose their deposits, Burnett in Murchison (Ind) and Pickin (SFF) in Rumney.

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