Tasmanian election minus five weeks

Multiple developments from the Tasmanian campaign, as prospective candidates caught on the hop by an early election scramble into place — and out of it.

There is now a semi-complete Poll Bludger guide to the Tasmanian election, featuring the usual extensive guides to each of the five electoral divisions, complete with displays of past election results in chart, table and booth map form, and an overview page that reviews the electoral terrain and a term’s worth of political developments in the state. The sections detailing the party candidates and their backgrounds will need updating after nominations close at the end of the month, with the parties presently scrambling to get their line-ups in place for an election called over a year ahead of time, and independents both entering and dropping out at a bewildering clip. Notably:

• Observers were surprised when Liberal advertising appeared for Franklin promoting the candidacy of former Police Minister Jacquie Petrusma, who resigned from parliament in July 2022 after a career going back to 2010. Petrusma is yet to be formally endorsed, but has confirmed that she is indeed seeking preselection, which will presumably be a formality. This compounds the challenge faced by the electorate’s two Liberal incumbents, Nic Street and Dean Young, who already had Eric Abetz to contend with.

• Jane Howlett, who has held the Legislative Council seat of Prosser for the Liberals since 2018, has announced she will run in Lyons. Prosser will be up for election in any case when the annual periodic elections are held in May, and there will be nothing to stop Howlett running again if she is unsuccessful in Lyons. Labor will likewise run a Legislative Council member, Josh Willie, in Clark, presumably having made the same calculation that familiar candidates will improve its chances overall.

• The number of former major party members running as independents has hit four, and nearly made it to five. Sue Hickey has announced she will seek a comeback in Clark, where she was elected as a Liberal in 2018 and was narrowly unsuccessful in a bid to retain the seat as an independent in 2021, having quit the party four days before the election was announced. Elise Archer also announced she would run in Clark on Wednesday but withdrew the following day, owing to a “health circumstance”. According to David Killick of The Mercury, “concerns were expressed for Ms Archer’s welfare after an appearance on ABC Radio on Thursday in which she did not sound like her normal self”.

• The Greens have announced Hobart deputy lord mayor Helen Burnet, who has run for the party on a number of previous occasions, will be a candidate in Clark. The party will be hoping the new regime of seven-member electorates will put it in contention for a second seat in Clark, which Burnet came close to achieving even with only five seats on offer in 2010. The party’s sitting member in Clark is Vica Bayley, who filled a vacancy created in July 2023 when former leader Cassy O’Connor stepped aside ahead of her run for the Legislative Council seat of Hobart in May.

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.

30 comments on “Tasmanian election minus five weeks”

  1. I wonder what the odds of Burnet unseating Bayley are, given that she polled a higher vote on her last run than Bayley did on his, her profile as deputy lord mayor, and Bayley’s less-than-stellar countback result against a low-profile fellow Green. I can see a situation where the Greens’ hopes for #2 hinge on Bayley, not Burnet.

    I haven’t seen any speculation there yet, but I don’t know that I’d want to be Bayley in that contest.

  2. It would be quite an acheivement if a Green incumbent was defeated by a Green challenger. Usually Green voters mostly vote for the lead Green candidate in each electorate.

  3. Desperate for some polling, it’s been a while and the last one saw a wild prediction about the JLN picking up 20 seats, so possibly/probably an outlier.

    The unscientific counting of comments for or against a party or candidate on Mercury stories (very Hobart centric) shows a general distain for everyone. Greens probably pull more hatred than most. JLN doesn’t really get much of a for/against vibe. Libs get comments which relate to a wasted 10 years. Labor gets comments which show incredulity that they can get anything done.

    The Liberal party seem to be eating their own children in a scramble by ex-state and ex-federal sitting members coming back onto the ticket. There hasn’t really been a lot of focus in the media on what this means for sitting members, and which paints a picture of internal war within the Libs. What we see in the media is just reports of dysfunctional Labor. But with Petrusma coming back there is a a very high chance, as in almost certain, that a sitting Liberal MP will lose their seat.

    The number of ‘independents’, as independent as Dai Le in the federal seat of Fowler, is starting to get a little silly. But this does mean that Kristie Johnston, the current true independent MP in Clark, will need to campaign really hard to retain her seat.

    Due to the strong rules around election signage if you weren’t plugged in you wouldn’t even know there was an election on.

  4. Mundo @ #6 Monday, February 19th, 2024 – 8:57 am

    The Muckery has another glowing Liberal front page.

    I dont get to see the hardcopy of the Mockery often, but their web version has the election quite a long way down. Top story online about mountain bikes, almost like they dont want Tasmanians to think too much about the sorry state of our government.

  5. This election is about unknowns. How many seats will jnl win? Where will liberals win a 4th seat? Where will Labor or the greens win extra seats? Will Alexander and Tucker win seats? I think there will be a hung parliament .as no one can win the required 18 seats. Non majors 1 to 3 independents 1 to 5 jln
    2 to 4 greens min 4 Max 13. Majors obviously hold the reminder.

  6. I would (if I was a Taswegian) vote for any party that would support and advocate for the resurrection of passenger rail services in Tasmania and the continual support of TasRail not only as a freight operator (as they are today) but also running passenger rail services from Hobart to Burnie and beyond… not to mention a viable suburban service in Hobart and Launceston.

  7. Mundo at 9.25 am

    But will they sell the Stadium Dream?

    Dr Bonham has identified awkwardness in the Libs’ handling of the Stadium:

    “The Stadium: I find the decision by the Premier to stress that he would limit public funding to the stadium at $375 million to be an unusual move. Presumably there is an informed perception from his strategists (or should that be strategist, singular?) that the stadium is hurting the government badly and needs to be neutralised. The issue with this ploy is that it means the stadium is dead if private sector funding is not forthcoming to cover seemingly inevitable blowouts. So how does one attack Labor for risking “killing the team and killing the dream” (a common government mantra in parliament) if one is potentially committing stadicide oneself? It seems to throwaway any ground from which to attack Labor’s policy to renegotiate, and I wonder if the number of voters whose concerns are assauged by the Premier saying he will limit public funding can be worth it.”


  8. I’m sorry, but any plan to reintroduce passenger rail services to Tassie would be almost as crazily wasteful of taxpayers’ money as the football stadium.

    There is a reliable and affordable passenger bus service from Hobart through Launnie, Devonport, Burnie and on to Smithton. Buses run several times a day and are rarely full. They appear to be used mainly by backpackers and older people. I think some improvements could be made to the service: eg, better integration of the service with the interstate ferry (although now it goes to Geelong and not directly into Melbourne,I suspect that the ferry’s appeal to backpackers has diminished).

    The bus service no doubt loses money, but a passenger railway service would lose a lot more, given the relative sizes of the workforces involved in running trains over buses.

    So, lovely romantic dream, but not viable I’m sorry to say. Too few people in Tassie and most of them drive cars.

  9. Re suburban services. I reckon a light rail service might happen in Hobart in 10-20 years when the hardening of the eastern and southern arterial roads in peak hours has reached a point of no return. Unfortunately, the easiest and cheapest route to build – from the northern suburbs to the city – is the one that is least urgently required. I suspect ferries might end up being a better option.

    I can’t ever foresee any particular need for rail in Launceston. The bus service works well and peak hour there seems to last abour 30 minutes on a bad day.

  10. I’m amused by the Liberal party’s policy releases so far.

    They seem so not what the Liberal party usually stands for. A new tax on short stay accommodation. Now telling landlords they must take tenants with pets, ie stepping into small business and telling them, what clients they should take.

    Topsy turvy world we live in.


  11. Mundo @ #16 Tuesday, February 20th, 2024 – 3:03 pm

    Hobart Muckery Watch….
    Another big headline for the Liberals promising to protect renters with pets.

    Wasn’t well received by the BTL commenters. Basically telling the Libs to fuck off and mind their own business.

    Funnily this is the kind of policy you’d expect the Greens to release. And it is becoming quite a normal renters rights protection item in European countries, but this is Tasmania and we’re sometimes a generation or two behind.

  12. Hobart Councilor Louise Elliot has now thrown her hat in the ring as an independent after ruling out a tilt at Clark.

    She is bringing the rage due to the Liberal party policy of foisting pet owning renters on unsuspecting poor landlords how might have a cat allergy. Also word is the Libs had to pressgang some of their staffers onto the candidate list as they couldn’t generate the numbers for real candidates.

    It’s almost a Shakespearean tragedy how silly this Tasmanian election has become.


  13. Elliot running as an independent is a fascinatingly stupid move.

    I’d love to know what happened with her supposed bid for Liberal preselection.

  14. Isle of Rocks: “Usually former major party leaders are strongly against minority government, Lara Giddings is here supporting it.”

    She’s no longer in politics and therefore doesn’t have to play the stupid game of pretending that minority government is barely a step up from rule by Satan incarnate.

    I’m actually surprised that the Labor Party continues to feel that it needs to promise not to form a coalition with anybody. That position made sense when Labor was competing with the Libs to be the most pro-forestry party, and therefore the idea that it would enter into a coalition with the Greens was an anathema (albeit that this didn’t stop them forming such a coalition on more than one occasion).

    But today the heat has gone out of the forestry issue: although I imagine Uncle Eric is plotting to bring it back big time if he possibly can. But, with the forestry issue remaining in the background, I can’t see the Greens getting too many more seats than the two they currently hold. And, in that scenario, it might be possible that Johnston, O’Byrne, some JLN folks and perhaps Hickey could collectively serve as the kingmakers with the Greens shut out.

    Tasmanian Labor continues to look a fair way off the pace. I can’t see them getting close to winning government, but of course it is going to be a strange and messy election.

  15. Rebecca: “I’d love to know what happened with her supposed bid for Liberal preselection.”

    I think, as they put it in horse racing parlance, “others preferred.”

    I don’t know that much about the lady, but she has always come across to me as something of a legend in her own mind.

  16. Is there anyone not running in Tasmania? Seems like a lot of candidates. 7 candidates in each of 5 electorates per party. That a fair few.

  17. Policy releases in the first week have been a useful insight into how the political parties have structured their campaigns.

    First thing to note is that budgets seems small, just in the several millions so far. Not unusual, you don’t want to release your big ticket items too early, but it does point to a sense of scale in regards to Tasmania being a small state.

    The second thing to note is that Labor is leaning into their perceived strengths of health and education, whilst the Liberal party doesn’t seem to have a theme yet. I am guessing the the Liberals will have some big policy announcements in the near future but they are at risk of the narrative of the campaign getting away from them, the theme that they are out of ideas is gaining some small traction.

    Cost of living is of course the topic of the day.

    The Liberals have been chipping around at the edges with things like bus fares, a new tax pledge on short stay accommodation and a move to allow renters to have pets. It’s fair to say there hasn’t been a lot of love or trust from voters on these items so far. Their policy announcements have more been what they wont do, eg raise a levy on fire firers, duh. Capping the spend on the proposed AFL stadium which of course means a half built stadium as everyone pointed out.

    Labor have put up several key policies, one on more places to childcare, so an extension to the federal labor policy of expanding childcare to families, thereby the underlying productivity gains. Also a rebate for landlords to improve on rental properties insulation. That would see a two fold benefit by increasing the value of properties and reducing power bills of renters. Capping power price increases. Improve regional Hospital infrastructure.

    The Greens and JLN are not getting a lot of coverage on their policies. But the Greens have released some polices aimed at increasing the housing stock. Abolish school levies and a few other school cost of living ideas.

    Full list to date: https://archive.md/mZERU

  18. Just been speaking to a Tasmanian at a party.

    Oh dear. She is hopelessly mis-informed about her own state’s politics.

    Thinks the early election was called by the labor party so she will definitely vote liberal. Again.



  19. Hi William

    Still the Tasmania election page table for the Previous Election Results (2021) doesn’t show the Liberals, The Graph does. 🙂

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