Once more with feeling: Batman, SA, Tasmania

One last look at last month’s two state elections and one federal by-election.

Now the dust has settled, a considered review of the three big electoral events of March.


Labor’s win was ultimately more comfortable than it appeared on election, which has fed into the post-election speculation as to what it all means. For what it’s worth, a ReachTEL poll commissioned by a timber industry lobby group two days out from the election came within one point of accuracy on the two-party vote, and found Adani, health and education each recording about 20% on the question of most important campaign issue.

First the basic results:

A table further below zeroes into the count’s two curiosities, the first of which is the extent of Labor’s surge on late counting. The result is broken down into polling day votes, namely ordinary election day votes, provisional votes and (in the case of the 2016 election, to derive the swing) absent votes; pre-poll, which includes both the pre-poll voting centre booths and declaration pre-polls; and postals, which is just postals.

The fact that Labor didn’t do so well on the day has led suggestions that something must have happened late in the campaign to blunt Labor’s momentum, with the most obvious culprit being Labor’s dividend imputation policy. There may certainly be something in this, but the same pattern was evident in lesser degree at the Northcote by-election, at which the Greens’ swing was 1.9% weaker on pre-polls and 4.4% weaker on postals as compared with polling day votes, with the equivalent differences in Batman being 3.6% and 5.8%.

The second notable feature of the result was the disparity between the Labor-loyal northern end of the electorate and the Greens-leaning south. The former area did actually deliver the Greens the gentle swing they needed to win the seat, while the latter swung solidly to Labor – although there remains a 15.1% differential between the two, compared with 21.5% at the 2016 election. The table separately records votes cast north and south of Bell Street, and excludes votes where this cannot be discerned (postals and such).

South Australia

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Tasmanian election late counting

Progress at last as Tasmania waits on the exact size of the Liberal majority, and what remains to the Greens.

The Tasmanian election count is proceeding in an unusual fashion, with the results updated only yesterday for the first time since election night. This thread will be progressively updated to follow the progress of the late count. No breakdowns are provided of the results by vote type, but yesterday’s updates included the small changes that arise from rechecking, together with the more substantial addition of postal and absent votes to the count. They have not fundamentally changed the overall picture, which is that the Greens and a third Liberal are fighting over the last seat in Franklin; the Greens and a second Labor candidate are fighting over the last seat in Bass, with the latter looking the more likely; Braddon and Lyons are both three Liberal and two Labor, and Denison is two Liberal, two Labor and one Greens, but in each case there are elements of uncertainty about intra-party contests.

Of these there were at least 6000 in Franklin, which make next to no difference to the status of the count there, in which Rosalie Woodruff of the Greens fights off the third Liberal, Nic Street. In the other clearly contested race, Bass, there were only around 3600 votes added, which have been helpful to Andrea Dawkins in her fight against Jennifer Houston, who still appears somewhat likely to win a second seat for Labor. However, the change isn’t too radical: the total Labor vote is down from 26.5% to 26.4%, while the Greens is up from 9.1% to 9.2%.

The biggest infusion of new votes, around 8400, is from Denison, where the party result of Liberal two, Labor two and Greens one is not in doubt. However, Ella Haddad’s total vote share has softened from 8.2% to 7.9%, while embattled incumbent Madeleine Ogilvie has held firm on 6.6%, slightly increasing the latter’s chance of retaining her seat. Only around 2600 new votes have been added in Braddon, and they have little impact on Roger Jeansch’s lead over Joan Rylah in the race for the third Liberal seat, which is the only outstanding issue there. A substantial 7700 votes have been added in Lyons, which have slightly narrowed Lambert’s lead over Butler in the race for the second Labor seat, which was 2.63% to 2.33% on election night, and is now 2.59% to 2.36%.

Tasmanian election call of the board

A detailed look at the Liberals’ unexpectedly decisive re-election in Tasmania.

The Liberals’ win in Tasmania was quite a bit easier than expected, particularly for those who were factoring a backlash over the late-breaking revelation that the Liberals had an all-but-secret policy to liberalise gun laws. Late polls had the Liberals on around 46%, but they appear to have made it all the way to 50%, which is a fairly extraordinary feat in a modern Australian election. Labor’s low thirties vote share was in line with the polls, but the Greens’ 10% was two points worse than expected.

After winning an unrepeatable fifteen seats out of twenty-five in 2014, the Liberals have certainly emerged with a clear majority of thirteen, and could yet go one better. The north-south divide that opened at the 2014 election stayed open, but did not appreciably widen so far as the balance of Liberal and Labor support was concerned. However, the Greens did particularly badly in Lyons and especially Braddon, and no longer look competitive there.

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Tasmanian election live

Live commentary of the count for the Tasmanian state election.

9.28pm. “I don’t think there are any federal implications here” – Eric Abetz.

9.22pm. The ABC is now calling 13 seats for the Liberals, whose 2.16 quotas in Denison make them certain of a second seat. The only question for them is whether they make it to fourteen by winning the last seat in Franklin ahead of the Greens.

8.57pm. Similarly, Greens member Rosalie Woodruff is less vulnerable to leakage in Franklin than the third Liberal, who will presumably be Nic Street.

8.53pm. The Greens aren’t quite gone in Bass: their member, Andrea Dawkins, has 6.8% with the other Greens on 2.5%. The first Labor candidate, Michelle O’Byrne, is bang on a quota and will have nothing to bequeath as preferences. That leaves the second strongest Labor candidate, Jennifer Houston, on 3.7%, and needing a very tight flow of preferences from the other Labor candidates, who collectively add up to 6.3%. So while Labor has 1.62 quotas to the Greens’ 0.56, they are more vulnerable to preference leakage.

8.39pm. Clear results are Liberal three and Labor two in Braddon and Lyons, and I just about think you can say Labor two, Liberal two and Greens one in Denison, with 59.4% counted. The two question marks are Labor versus the Greens in Bass, where the Liberals have three and Labor one, with Labor leading for the last spot; and Liberal versus the Greens in Franklin, from a base of Liberal two and Labor two, which is very hard to call.

8.31pm. A question now of following Denison and seeing that the Liberal quota results holds, which is presently 2.17 with 57.2% counted.

8.22pm. Nearly half the vote counted now in Denison, and the Liberals are keeping their head comfortably above two quotas. Antony isn’t quite ready to call it though. Very likely result though is status quo, with Ella Haddad replacing Madeleine Ogilvie as second Labor member.

8.17pm. Very tight in Franklin, with 55.5% counted. The Liberals are on 2.86 quotas; the Greens on 0.88; the Liberals will presumably get Shooters preferences; the Greens might get boosted by leakage. Complicated.

8.10pm. Denison at 37.2% counted, the Liberal vote dropping but only very slowly, now at 2.15 quotas.

8.09pm. Now they’re back up again, but the Liberals aren’t out of it. 50.6% counted.

8.08pm. The Greens have lost ground in the latest update from Franklin, meaning the Liberals are not out of the hunt for a third seat and an overall result of fourteen.

8.03pm. Whoever gets the second Labor seat in Lyons will do it from a low share of the vote, with Rebecca White unsurprisingly dominating. Janet Lambert on 2.2% leads Jen Butler on 1.9%, but it really all depends what White’s preferences do.

8.00pm. 37.6% counted in Franklin, still looking likely to be Liberal 2, Labor 2, Greens 1, which is to say Labor gaining a seat from the Liberals. Nic Street the likely Liberal loser, with Will Hodgman and Jacqui Petrusma re-elected. Alison Standen leads Kevin Midson for second Labor seat.

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Tasmanian poll tracker final: Liberal 45.1, Labor 31.6, Greens 12.9

In lieu of a Newspoll, some concluding assessments of the Tasmanian election campaign and a final update of the poll tracker.

No election eve Newspoll apparently, so you will have to make do with my final poll tracker update, which finishes at Liberal 45.1%, Labor 31.6% and Greens 12.9%. Newly added here is a poll from February 14, for the Australia Institute by ReachTEL from a sample of 952. After exclusion of the 4.2% undecided, this poll had the Liberals on 43.5%, Labor on 31.8%, the Greens on 11.5% and the Jacqui Lambie Network on 4.8%.

Given its centrality to the campaign, some poll results on poker machines are worth noting. The aforementioned Australia Institute poll found 53.5% rating the impact of pokies on the community as negative, 12.9% as positive, and 22.9% no impact. On Tuesday, The Mercury published additional results from its ReachTEL poll, conducted the previous Thursday from a sample of 3179, which had Labor’s phase-out in pubs and clubs by 2023 favoured by a margin of 57.1-42.9. Electorate breakdowns ranged from 70.9-29.1 in favour of the Labor policy in Denison to 51.9-48.1 the other way in Braddon. In a question on the issue most influencing vote choice, poker machines ranked third with 14.3% behind health on 31.9% and jobs and the economy on 30.2%. Denison was an unusual here as well in having pokies on 26.1%, with health second on 24.9%.

If you’re a Crikey subscriber, you can enjoy my deep thoughts on the campaign here. My conclusion is that the Liberals are very likely to win three seats each in Bass, Braddon and Lyons, which will leave them in need of two each in Franklin and Denison. Franklin shouldn’t be a problem for them, but I note that Denison might be – a conviction that has been hardened by the fact that today’s media coverage was dominated by Liberals’ policy to water down gun control laws. This fact was unknown to the community at large until The Australian reported it this morning, since the Liberals had kept it off their website and circulated it only to “stakeholders”, which in this case would seem to mean organisations likely to support it. It’s worth noting that neither this late-breaking story, nor anything else concerning the election, will be appearing in the Tasmanian media tomorrow, owing to an archaic law banning election coverage on polling day.

The only minor party that appears in the game are the Greens, with Jacqui Lambie Network falling out of contention, unless they can pull off a surprise in Braddon. Polls suggest the Greens are breaking even at best, so there is little reason to think they can win where they failed last time, in Braddon and Lyons. They would also appear to be in trouble in Bass, but are safe in Denison and presumably also Franklin.

EMRS: Liberal 46, Labor 34, Greens 12 in Tasmania

Another poll finds the Liberals placed to retain majority government in Tasmania.

Tasmanian pollster EMRS has come up with a state poll that brings it into line with the weekend’s ReachTEL poll and the internal polling publicised by the Liberal Party, in showing the Liberals at an election-winning 46%, and Labor on 34%. This amounts to a 12% increase since the last EMRS poll in December, but the gain comes entirely at the expense of minor parties – the Greens are down five to 12%, and support for the Jacqui Lambie Network has halved to 4% – while Labor support is unchanged. Will Hodgman has also gained the lead as preferred premier, now ahead 48-41 after trailing 48-35 last time. The question now is whether there has indeed been that dramatic an improvement in the Liberals’ fortunes, or if the pollster is engaged in herding. The poll was conducted Saturday to Monday from a sample of 1000.