Tasmanian election minus three weeks

The closure of nominations reveals a bigger field of candidates chasing a bigger number of seats, including a proliferation of independents.

The closure of nominations last Thursday revealed 167 candidates, up from 105 in 2021, likely reflecting the increased number of seats up for grabs. With that milestone (not to mention the Dunkley by-election) accounted for, I will now set to work on bringing my state election guide up to speed. The candidates are evenly spread across the five divisions, with 36 running in Lyons, 35 in Clark, 33 in Braddon, 32 in Bass and 31 in Franklin. There are two notable late-declaring independents in Lyons: Central Highlands mayor Loueen Triffitt, whose daughter Angela Triffitt is running in Clark, and Jenny Branch-Allen, a former Glenorchy alderman who polled a third of the vote as an independent in the Legislative Council seat of Derwent in 2009. Kingborough deputy mayor Clare Glade-Wright is among the independents in Franklin.

The Mercury reported on Thursday that a private poll with results broken out for each division suggested 14 seats for the Liberals, 11 for Labor, four for the Greens, two for the Jacqui Lambie Network and four independents. However, the only detail provided was that it was a phone poll with a sample of 4000 – nothing on the pollster, the client or the field work dates. For what it’s worth, results were given for Bass of Liberal 37%, Labor 28%, JLN 15% and Greens 13%; for Braddon of Liberal 45%, Labor 26%, JLN 15% and Greens 5%; for Clark of Liberal 26%, independents 25%, Labor 24% and Greens 16%; for Franklin of Liberal 33%, Labor 24%, Greens 20%, JLN 8% and independents 8%; and for Lyons of Labor 35%, Liberal 34%, Greens 12%, JLN 8% and independents 10%.

UPDATE (5/3/24): RedBridge Group has a poll conducted February 16 to 28 from a sample of 753 which has Liberal on 33%, Labor on 29%, Greens on 14%, the Jacqui Lambie Network on 10% and all others on 14%, which it uses to estimate a result of 12 seats for the Liberals, 11 for Labor, six for the Greens, three for JLN and three for others. The linked report features extensive breakdowns by region, gender, age, education and so on.

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.

42 comments on “Tasmanian election minus three weeks”

  1. It’s hard to gauged the mood of the electorate this week, so I’ll use the only metric (other than real polls) available to me, the Mercury and Examiner BTL comments. Not super scientific I know, but other than the wobbly yard sign metric what else is there.

    I’d say that the mood is fluctuating between totally disengaged and a growing dislike for Premier Rockcliff. The disengagement can be seen by the reduction of BTL comments, down from 100+ in the first weeks of the campaign to sometimes less than 10. To contrast an AFL story about a high bump over the weekend got 200+ commenters.

    But when there’s a story which is directly about Rockcliff then the comment count goes right up again. Most of the comments are you cant trust any promise he makes, he’s a weak premier, or they’ll be voting independent.

    I’d be looking at the EMRS and also unattributed Tas Hospitality Association polls that came out last week for a real indication of voter intentions, but there seems to be a drift away from the Liberals.

  2. I’m blowed if I can see where the four independents come from on those numbers. Clark looks a certainty, but the rest?

    Remember, the independents aren’t a party, so where say, eight percent would probably be enough to elect a JLN or a Green, for independents it’ll be split between a few candidates with lots of preference leakage between them.

  3. EightES @ #3 Monday, March 4th, 2024 – 10:05 am

    I’m blowed if I can see where the four independents come from on those numbers. Clark looks a certainty, but the rest?

    Remember, the independents aren’t a party, so where say, eight percent would probably be enough to elect a JLN or a Green, for independents it’ll be split between a few candidates with lots of preference leakage between them.

    Yeah I reckon outside of Clark the Indi vote will exhaust and end up with JLN or the Greens. But the two majors could also benefit in a seat or two. As an example in Franklin there’s talk that ex-labor indi David O’Byrne is in with a chance, but I expect most of his vote to stay with Labor. It’s possible the same could happen in Lyons with the Libs benefiting.

  4. My spidey sense says absolutely anything could happen!

    Whenever pollute change the system to benefit their perceived needs as at the time they make the change – back to 35 members- it backfires badly.

    I would not be surprised if Tassie turns off the whole machine and reboots it completely!

  5. When looking at polls for Tasmania, I have to keep reminding myself that the rules are not the same as for the Senate.

    If we take the numbers above for Franklin, for example, Senate-style rules would probably give us 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Greens, and 1 JLN. However, a quirk of Robson Rotation means the Greens would actually be likely to get a second seat at JLN’s expense. That’s because the Greens’ 20 percent would likely be split between their best two candidates (after their other candidates are eliminated) giving them each about 10 percent and putting them both ahead of JLN’s lead candidate.

    That’s if those numbers are repeated in the election, which is, of course, a huge ‘if’.

  6. Correct, JM.

    It usually works against the Greens, so I thought is was (slightly) noteworthy that it might (theoretically) work in their favour for once.

  7. Some observations.

    1. Kaspar Deane, a young school teacher and Kingborough councillor, seems to me to be running a very strong campaign as an ALP candidate for Franklin: corflutes everywhere, lots of door knocking. So perhaps he can win a seat behind Dean Winter (possibly one of three, because I’m a little sceptical about David O’Byrne’s prospects although I do understand that name recognition is highly important in Tassie State elections).

    2. Everyone is assuming that Kristie Johnston is a shoo-in for Clark. But one would have to say that she hasn’t made much of an impact since joining the House of Assembly: apart, that is, from playing a role in the demise of David O’Byrne as Labor leader. The seven seats in Clark are going to be hotly contested, and seats on the cross bench particularly so, with Johnston, Sue Hickey, Vica Bayley and Helen Burnet all being strong candidates, and Ben Lohberger representing the popular (although I wish it were not so) “Save UTAS Sandy Bay Campus” cause. And even Louise Elliott has some profile, although I wouldn’t rate her a contender at this stage. Johnston losing would seem unlikely (name recognition again, yada, yada, yada) but it seems to me to be a conceivable upset in a strongly contested seat.

    3. The Libs seem to be releasing more new policies and promises than Labor. This is strange, given that they have been in government for nearly a decade. Some of the policies are a bit strange too: eg, the one to limit ramping at hospitals to 30 minutes. If this simply means that every partient will be guaranteed a move from the ambulance to a bed in the corridor (where they will get, if anything, less care), then who cares. If it means that every patient is guaranteed a bed in the ED, then that’s basically a fraudulent promise. (However the mobile GP service announced at the same time is quite a good idea, I reckon.)

  8. Isle of Rocks @ #11 Monday, March 4th, 2024 – 5:52 pm

    meher baba @ #10 Monday, March 4th, 2024 – 4:18 pm

    Some observations.

    Thanks for the insight!

    In terms of Independents who may get elected in Clark or Franklin, in your view are there any (aside from Louise Elliot) who may be open to supporting a Liberal Government?

    Sue Hickey would (she was in the Liberal government until she resigned), and to my mind is the most likely to get an independent seat other than Kristie Johnston.

    I agree Kaspar Deane has a very good chance of picking up the second Labor seat in Franklin. He was always touted as an up and comer for Labor. Based on Kevin Bonham’s piece on how to strategically vote in Tasmainia I’ll be putting Kaspar 1 above Dean Winters who is the sitting member.

  9. Sue Hickey would support the Libs, but she’d no doubt want something in return. The Libs absolutely despise her and, if Rockliff tries to do a deal with her, there is a chance he could be deposed as leader right away.

    It would be strongly against Kristie Johnston’s political interests to support a Liberal Government, but her situation could get tricky if her vote is the only thing standing between a government being sworn in, or otherwise an election getting called.

    It’s easy to imagine scenarios in which getting either side to form a government after the election is going to be really difficult. As we have already seen with Alexander and Turner, the choices made by independents in the House of Assembly can have serious consequences. It might not be a feasible option to try to stand aloof from everything.

  10. BTW MI, like Kristie Johnston, Dean Winter has been pretty invisble during his first term in Parliament. Perhaps it doesn’t matter because the secret to success in Tasmanian Labor politics is not to win the hearts and minds of the voters, but to win the internal power struggle within the party: possibly (as was the case with Winter’s preselection) with a bit of help from the Federal party machine.

    But surely it would help him in the longer term to try to increase his public profile a bit. He’s got bugger all corflutes up around the electorate, and those that I’ve seen have a picture of him that looks like it’s at least a decade old.

  11. Believe it not Dean’s corflute guy broke his collar bone. Dean said he’d been going cross eyed seeing everybody else’s signs up and not his. They’re going up now.

  12. Thanks Meher and MI

    I thought Hickey had sworn off the Libs (and vice versa). It seems they could come to an agreement but it would be an uncomfortable arrangement.

  13. As a non-Tasmanian can anyone explain how Tasmanian Labor became such a joke? Why doesn’t the Federal party seen in people to clean house and get rid of the drift wood? This election should be blow out but instead the Libs are likely to get back!

  14. MI. That’s bad luck for Dean. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy: he was a good mayor of Kingborough. I just think he needs to try to lift his profile a bit now he’s in the bigger league.

    I guess it’s not easy for him when he has so many enemies within the party.

    The Tasmanian ALP. Sigh…

  15. Following the redbridge poll, the sum and trajectory of polling so far makes Mostly Interested’s comment#2 at the start of the thread quite prescient.

  16. I think that the answer to this, but does Tasmania have optional preferential voting? If not, I wonder, with 30+ candidates on the ballot paper, what proportion of voters will make a mess of casting their vote?

  17. I have a question as to who amongst the independents could win
    Any one else?

  18. The Ginninderra thing won’t happen for Greens in Franklin because Rosalie Woodruff is leader and too popular cf their other candidates, they couldn’t make it happen if they tried. It might happen in Clark where Vica Bayley is a new MP who some Greens voters are cool on, and Helen Burnet is very well known in the Hobart half and had a long history of very strong performance for them – though less so lately as her support may have been damaged by supporting the Utas move.

    There are three main forms of unintended informal voting in Tas elections, worth about 1% each: ticks and crosses, multiple 1s (usually the voter tries to rank all the Labor candidates 1-7, all the Liberals 1-7 etc) and omissions/repetitions, each worth close to 1%. The latter category could shoot up at this election based on the numbers from 1992 and 1996, will be interesting to see where it ends up. Unlike ACT there is no savings provision for omissions and repetitions.

  19. I think the general convention against repeated elections would be a very powerful motivator for the minor parties to provide confidence and supply to avoid another election.

    And in the current scenario, with the Libs on 14 vs ALP/GRN on 17 and a number of independents/JLN, the message will be “Tasmania voted for change” and Labor to promise them to run an inclusive and consultative Government along the lines of NSW or Federal Labor with the independents there.

    It’d be a brave person who tries to push the state back to an election in that scenario.

  20. https://redbridgegroup.com.au/tasmanian-state-vote-intention-and-public-opinion/

    Tasmanian state vote intention and public opinion

    Redbridge conducted a Tasmanian state voting intention and public opinion survey during between 16th to 28th February. The full report, including methodology can be downloaded here Redbridge – Tasmanian state vote intention and public opinion feb-2024


  21. Follow the time line..each poll is slightly worse for the libs.. does this mean a continuous movement away from the libs or it just static. The more the polls show if accurate a fractured vote. With a hung parliament and a Cross bench of greens independents and Lam bies

  22. Michael Quinlivan: “Follow the time line..each poll is slightly worse for the libs.. does this mean a continuous movement away from the libs or it just static. The more the polls show if accurate a fractured vote. With a hung parliament and a Cross bench of greens independents and Lambies”

    I think a hung parliament is almost certain, with the Libs holding a larger swag of seats than Labor.

    My sense is that, after almost 10 years of Lib rule and with a less charismatic Premier than Gutwein, the electorate would be open to the idea of a change. But they look at Labor and they see a divided party with weak leadership and a bunch of mostly low profile candidates, so a majority of voters won’t be going there.

    Most of the candidates in the middle aren’t all that exciting either. Woodruff is ok, Johnston has her fans (although I’m not one of them). And Hickey has a support base (including older voters who fondly recall her days as Miss Tasmania and a TV weather girl: that’s how politics works down here sometimes).

    I don’t really understand why anyone would want to vote at the state level for candidates purporting to represent Jacqui Lambie: a politician who has made her career out of wielding cross bench power in the Senate on behalf of Tasmania. She has very little to offer in terms of policies. But some believe that that Troy Pfitzner is a chance in Lyons.

    To sum up, the whole election is pretty meh.

    PS: but the count is going to be exciting with all the independent and minor party candidates likely to pick up more than a negligible share of the vote. Kevin B will be absolutely in his element during the late count and the preference distributions.

  23. What I am watching for this week and the next is a move back to the major 3 parties away from independents and the JLN. News stories are starting to appear about the lack of policy position by the JLN in particular, but also about who the independents might support in any minority government.

    Also the polling results are starting to sink in, showing that the cross bench may be quite large. There hasnt really been a focus on the margin of error on those 3 polls release during the election campaign, but the latest from Redbridge only had 700+ respondents so I am guessing upwards of a 4% margin might be expected (maybe higher).

    This kind of focus does tend to give voters a dose of the cold shower of reality, and they can move back to the majors. But I’m not convinced it will happen in Tasmania as there is a streak of independence deep within the state’s voters. A look at Clark and the Senate will show you that history over multiple years.

    So as I say, I am watching, but I am not sure it will occur.

  24. We like elections. The general public hates them. Rockliff will be punished for going early. Even Bob Hawke was pounded for going early in 1984. Rockliff is no Bob Hawke.

    The early election looks and smells like arrogant self-indulgence.

    This is why Albo would be well advised to ignore the temptation to call an early election. Albo isn’t Bob Hawke either!

    In cricketing parlance, when you win the toss you think about having a bowl and then elect to bat. When you win the toss in footy you kick with the wind in the first quarter. The wind may be gone by the final siren.

  25. MABWM: “Rockliff will be punished for going early. ”

    I very much doubt it. Gutwein was, if anything, rewarded for going early in 2021: the result was a landslide in every sense other than (due to the peculiarities of the March Hare system) the numbers of seats won by the Libs.

    Hawke’s big mistake in 1984, which was repeated by Turnbull in 2016, was to have an overly-long election campaign, which led to the public becoming sick of seeing him campaigning on TV all the time. Also, Hawke was easily beaten by Peacock in the debates: Peacock, with all his many faults, being much more experienced in the rough and tumble of political debate than Hawke, who had only been in Parliament for four years.

    Rockliff is nothing special, but he’s in a far stronger position than White. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the result will be a hung parliament, with the Libs clearly winning the most votes and the most seats. What happens after that, who knows?

    Re Albo: he’s definitely struggling a bit with the voters, and I don’t think that’s going to go away even if he leaves off callling the election for as long as possible. But Dutton is struggling even more, so Albo will either hang on, or else there’ll be a hung parliament with Labor in a much stronger position to form a government.

  26. Anyone that works for a living should be smart enough to realise that their job could be at risk if we don’t have a majority Government. Most of the independents are greenies and the Lambie candidates don’t know what they stand for. Strange how many ppl have forgotten the chaos and job losses of the last Labor-Greens coalition. I think we will see the Libs numbers higher than the Polls are predicting

  27. Gutwein’s 2021 win was in the era of state Premier’s being on TV everyday and actually being seen doing stuff.

  28. @ super…..all the polls have a margin of error based on sample size.. not sure how much. I don’t think there will be a late swing back to the liberals. Tasmanian voters understand how to vote under pr. Also it is quite possible that the libs may have 13 to the alp’s 11. That means 11ish cross benches.

  29. Anyone that works for a living should be smart enough to realise that their job could be at risk if we don’t have a majority Government.

    [citation needed]

  30. Australia remains an outlier in the ‘we must have a majority government’ trope.

    The rest of the world can do it. Eventually, even we must grow up.

  31. A taxpayer-funded chocolate fountain as a side-earner for a multinational US-based company.
    It’s got all of the hallmarks of a Homer Simpson dream sequence.
    I’d be more interested in a Barossa Valley wine fountain. Or a beer stream in Freo.
    Are Tassie voters really stupid enough to pay for such tripe?

  32. Reports suggest that the chocolate fountain will cost $100m and the Tassie Govt is offering $4m.

    I struggle to see how it would be viable on this basis: it’s very difficult for tourist attractions of this sort to recoup the capital invested in them, given that they will have very high operating costs to cover. In comparing the proposal to MONA, Rockliff seems to have forgotten that most of the capital investment for that attraction was gifted by its very wealthy owner.

    So the government contribution will need to be a large multiple of $4m. Not worth it IMO. Especially given what crap Cadbury’s chocolate is (I might come at a Haighs fountain).

    Like the “save UTAS” nonsense, it’s yet another instance of nostalgia politics: lots of Tasmanians have fond childhood memories of Cadbury’s factory visits when they were still a thing.

    But it’s still a better idea than the footy stadium.

  33. As a Tas resident, I can’t really see how we can confidently predict that either Liberal or Labor will get a majority of seats to govern alone. Neither party is polling well enough to expect that result. Seven members in each electorate leave it wide open for minors and independents to get up.

    Labor will be behind Liberal on primary votes, but have a track record of being prepared to negotiate with minor parties and independents. So I’ll guess that we’re in for a nominal change. But it doesn’t make any difference which party governs in this state. They’re indistinguishable once they get in power.

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