Tasmanian upper house elections: Prosser and Hobart

Live count commentary and an overview of today’s elections for two seats in Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

Live counting

Prosser results

Jane Howlett (Liberal)
Janet Lambert (Labor)
Steve Mav (Independent)
Tony Mulder (Independent)
Booths reporting (out of 27)

Sunday night. A few more pre-poll, postal and other votes have been added in Prosser, with no more than 421 votes still outstanding. None of this provides any illumination on what we need to know, which is whether Steve Mav can overtake Labor to finish second, and if he can gain enough preferences to overhaul Jane Howlett if so. We won’t know that until next Tuesday, as the TEC apparently has no plans to conduct an indicative preference throw. In Hobart, it has been determined that Rob Valentine has a 61-39 lead over Richard Griggs after preferences.

8.23pm. Prosser: Not quite as good a result for Mav from 1411 postals, but he’s definitely still in the hunt. Hobart: Only one booth outstanding, and the only point of interest is the size of Rob Valentine’s final winning margin over Richard Griggs.

7.59pm. Prosser: Sorell, one of the electorate’s three large booths, has now reported, and the numbers are exactly those provided to Kevin Bonham.

7.54pm. Kevin Bonham again: “I’ve seen a scrutineering sheet from prepoll with prefs of Mav and Mulder estimated to be 60-70% to Liberal and those of Playsted even.” So Howlett will clearly win if Mav doesn’t make it to second place.

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Tasmanian upper house by-election: Pembroke

Preview of today’s dry run for a Tasmanian state election due in March.

Live counting

# %
Doug Chipman (Independent) 4122 19.7%
Carlo Di Falco (SFF) 645 3.1%
Bill Harvey (Greens) 1964 9.4%
Richard James (Independent) 1538 7.3%
Jo Siejka (Labor) 6802 32.5%
James Walker (Liberal) 5388 25.7%
Hans Willink (Independent) 492 2.3%
Formal 20951
Booths counted on primary (out of 11): 11
Total as % of enrolment: 65.4%


9pm. Labor’s Jo Siejka has romped home in the provisional preference distribution with a winning margin of 11,709 to 8674, or 7.4%. The TEC has also published a Labor-versus-Chipman throw in which the winning margin is 2.4%. For that to take effect, Chipman will have to close a 200 vote deficit against Liberal candidate James Walker to make the final count, but the maximum possible number of outstanding postals is only 394.

4.50pm. There turns out to be not much in it between Chipman and the Liberal at the second last exclusion: 6174 to 5974, a margin of 200. I’m not sure about the situation with postals, but it wouldn’t seem likely that the gap is going to close. How Chipman might have done in a final count against Labor will never be known, but he would have needed something like three quarters of all preferences to have won.

4.30pm. Nothing further from the Electoral Commission, but the word on Twitter is that Labor has won comfortably, the surprise packet being Doug Chipman’s preferences, which broke about evenly.

3pm. A preliminary progressive preference count is being published exclusion by exclusion on the Electoral Commission site. So far the two independents and Shooters candidate have been excluded, and slightly more preferences have gone to Labor than Liberal. Still more have gone to Doug Chipman, who now trails the Liberal 5961 to 5311 and needs the distribution of 2387 Greens votes to close the gap – since most will presumably go straight to Labor, this probably isn’t going to happen. That will bring the final count down to Labor and Liberal, with Liberal needing as much as 80% of Chipman’s preferences – and the word from those at the coal face on Twitter is that he’ll barely manage 60% (not allowing for exhaustion, which will raise the bar still higher).

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Tasmanian upper house elections live

Live counting of today’s three upper house elections in Tasmania, the most interesting of which pits a Liberal-identifying independent incumbent against a Labor challenger.

Rumney results and projection

# % Swing Projection
Cheryl Arnol (SFP) 1220 6.7%
Sarah Lovell (ALP) 6268 34.3% +1.2% 34.0%
Steve Mav (IND) 3549 19.4%
Tony Mulder (IND) 4760 26.0% -2.2% 26.1%
Shelley Shay (IND) 1455 8.0%
Debra Thurley (IND) 1023 5.6%
Booths counted (out of 19): 19


11pm. We now have a “completed” preference distribution — bearing in mind that this is provisional, unlike every other full preference distribution (as distinct from notional two-candidate preferred count) I’ve ever seen, and that late arriving postal votes will still be added to the result — and Sarah Lovell has emerged with 52.3% of the two-candidate preferred vote. This is more than enough, as Mulder has acknowledged by conceding defeat.

6.30pm. The TEC has published the first stages of a provisional preference distribution, with three candidates excluded and three left in the count, and so far Sarah Lovell is getting more preferences than Tony Mulder rather than less — 1676 to 1396, with Steve Mav receiving 1501. Even if none of the votes from the Steve Mav exclusion exhausted, Mulder would need to receive two-thirds of them to win, which seems highly unlikely given what we’ve seen so far. In Launceston, a completed preference distribution finds Rosemary Armitage retaining the seat from Neroli Ellis by a margin of 2.1%.


End of night. Kevin Bonham in comments relates that Labor scrutineers believe they will do it easily in Rumney, with a margin of around 53-47 after preferences. However, the Mulder camp disputes this, and believes it will be lineball. Kevin also disputes my assessment that there will be more than a handful of exhausted votes, based on how things panned out in Rumney in 2011.

8.12pm. Rumney: All booths are now in, together with slightly over 1000 postal votes, and the distinction between the raw count and my projection has now more or less disappeared. Labor performed well in the late performing larger booths, presumably suggesting a tendency to perform will on the edges of Hobart, a pattern that was also evident at last year’s federal election and in Western Australia. The upshot is that Mulder has an 8% gap to close with distribution of preferences from the excluded candidates, who collectively accounted for around 40% of the vote. Past form suggests about 8% out of that 40% should exhaust, so Mulder will be counting on non-exhausting preferences to break about 20% to 12% in his favour.

7.40pm. Murchison and Launceston: Ruth Forrest has clearly retained Murchison, where her lead is now 6.6%. The picture in Launceston is stable, with Armitage leading about 34% to 30% and the result to be decided by preferences, on which I can offer no insight.

7.38pm. Rumney: Two big booths, Lauderdale and Cambridge, have now reported, and the results are very good for Labor, particularly in Cambridge where they’re up 5.0% on 2011, while Mulder is down 10.4%. My projected Labor lead on the primary vote is now 7.7%, which is perhaps enough to make Mulder sweat.

7.27pm. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s lead continues to inflate, now at 5.1%. Launceston: Neroli Ellis pokes her head about 30%, Rosemary Armitage at 34.0%.

7.26pm. Rumney: Labor gets a good result at Seven Mile Beach and an okay one at Clarendon Vale. Still tracking to win the primary vote by 4% to 5%, with everything down to preferences. For those who have just joined us, voters in these elections are required to number at least three boxes.

7.25pm. Launceston. Norwood both puts both the leading contenders about two points higher on the primary vote, with Armitage’s lead at a presumably sufficient 5.5%. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s lead now at 4.9%, with six booths still to come.

7.21pm. Rumney: Dodges Ferry and Sandford now in, the two biggest booths so far at 1884 and 1137 votes. Sandford is quite a good result for Labor, Dodges Ferry less so.

7.18pm. Murchison: Evidently Smithton is a focal point of support for independent challenger Daryl Quilliam, as it’s broken 1024-562 his way and cut Ruth Forrest’s lead all the way back from about 9% to 3.9%.

7.15pm. Launceston. Three more booths in (Hadpsen, Five Ways and Youngtown) push Armitage’s lead over Ellis out from 33.6% to 27.2%, which would presumably be sufficient for her.

7.11pm. Launceston. A third booth, Launceston, is consistent with the first two. Murchison: 21 booths in out of 29, Forrest’s lead now more like 59-41.

7.09pm. Rumney: Four booths report all at once — Dunally, Forcett, Primrose Sands and Richmond — and do little to change the overall picture, which is that Tony Mulder is steady and Labor is down slightly. Mulder is only slightly clear of independent Steve Mav in second place, but probably far enough, and I can only assume that mostly conservative preferences will win the day for him.

7.05pm. Launceston: A second booth is now in, Summerhill, and Armitage still has only a slight lead over Neroli Ellis of 410 to 373. So a lot will depend on preferences from Labor and the Greens.

7.02pm. Rumney: Another booth added, Nubeena, is a weak result for Labor, although that may be influenced by the fact that I’ve folded the result from out-of-use Saltwater River booth into the 2011 result for my swing calculation. In any case, Labor leads 32.4% to 25.2% on the primary vote, but the equivalent results from these booths in 2011 was 39.0% to 25.4%.

6.56pm. Murchison: Over half the booths are now in, and Ruth Forrest is maintaining her 57-43 lead over independent challenger Daryl Quilliam.

6.54pm. Rumney: Two more results in, South Arm and Taranna. I’m now projecting a tight race on the primary vote, but presumably preferences, all of which come from independents or Shooters and Fishers, will favour Mulder.

6.52pm. Launceston: The first booth in, South Launceston with 477 formal votes, suggests incumbent Rosemary Armitage (148 votes, 31.0%) is under at least some pressure from independent challenger Neroli Ellis (123 votes, 25.8%).

6.42pm. Murchison: Fourteen booths in now, Forrest leads 1333-1032.

6.39pm. Rumney: Much fewer votes were cast in Port Arthur this time — 107 compared with 185 — and Labor’s share dropped from 43.8% to 27.1%.

6.38pm. Murchison: Ruth Forrest’s early scare had faded. She now leads 452-281 with six booths counted out of 29.

6.36pm. Rumney: The Port Arthur booth is a lot less good for Labor than Copping. But we’re talking 199 votes in Copping and 107 in Port Arthur, whereas Lauderdale, Rokeby, Dodges Ferry and Sorell should be approaching 2000.

6.30pm. The first booth in from Rumney is Copping, and while it’s only 199 votes, it’s encouraging for Labor — their candidate has outscored Mulder 57 votes to 54, which is 5% higher than Labor managed in this booth at last year’s federal election. As you can see, I’ve got my table in action now. The projection is based on booth-matched swings from now compared with 2011.

6.23pm. I don’t know anything about Daryl Quilliam, independent candidate in Murchison, but he’s doing rather well in the two-horse race against incumbent Ruth Forrest — with two booths in, Forrest leads 146-129.

6pm. Polls have closed for today’s Tasmanian elections for the upper house seats of Rumney (running from Hobart’s eastern outskirts through Sorell to Port Arthur), Murchison (covering the west of the state) and Launceston (self-explanatory). Rumney is the most interesting, because it’s a battle between a Liberal-identifying independent incumbent, Tony Mulder, and a Labor candidate, Sarah Lovell, less than a year out from a state election. I will have a table showing swings and a projected primary vote final result when we get some numbers in, which should be reasonably early given there are a lot of small booths involved here, except in Launceston.

Matters Tasmanian

Lots to report from the apple isle: new electoral boundaries, state upper house elections, and an encouraging poll for new Labor leader Rebecca White.

A helpful conjunction of events allows me to condense three pieces of Tasmanian electoral news into one post, namely the publication of draft boundaries of the state’s five federal and state electorates; tomorrow’s elections for three of the state’s 15 Legislative Council seats; and the quarterly poll of state voting intention from EMRS. In turn:

Draft electoral redistribution

Draft boundaries have been published today for a redistribution of the state’s five electorates, which, uniquely to the state, apply for both federal and state elections. A full accounting of my determinations of the new margins can be viewed here. In no case do the changes alter the existing margins by more than 1%, so the present situation where Labor holds four seats and independent Andrew Wilkie holds the fifth is notionally undisturbed. The changes can be summarised as follows:

• Bass is to be substantially altered in shape through an exchange of territory with Lyons, although it will still be dominated by Launceston. The changes are to cost it the north-eastern corner of the state (including Scottsdale and around 6000 voters overall), while adding territory to the west of the Tamar River (including Exeter, Beaconsfield and around 7500 voters all told). The areas gained and lost by Bass are conservative in roughly equal measure, so there is only a modest change to the Labor margin in Bass, from 6.1% to 6.4%.

• Braddon is to gain around 4500 voters from Lyons in the coastal area around Port Sorell, which together with the transfer to Bass costs Lyons the entirety of its territory on the north coast. This is a fairly conservative area, so Labor’s margin in Braddon is reduced from 2.2% to 1.6%.

• In addition to changes noted already, Lyons is to gain around 3500 voters from Franklin, in an area around Old Beach on the eastern bank of the Derwent River, about 10 kilometres north of central Hobart. This area is electorally typical of Franklin as a whole, so the margin in Franklin is unchanged. Lyons being less strong for Labor overall, the change makes a contribution to an overall 0.7% increase in the Labor margin there.

• Denison is to be left undisturbed.

Legislative Council elections

Tune in tomorrow for live coverage of the annual periodical elections for the Tasmanian Legislative Council, the definitive guides to which are provided by local observer Kevin Bonham. The 15 seats in this chamber are elected according to a cycle in which either two or three electorates go to the polls each May (I also observe that a redistribution is presently under way, which had previously escaped my notice, but doesn’t affect tomorrow’s poll). This system causes the chamber to be uniquely dominated by independents, with Labor and Liberal presently accounting for only two members each. One of the two Liberals, former Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin, recently announced she was terminally ill and is shortly expected to resign, leading in due course to a by-election in her eastern Hobart seat of Pembroke.

The seats up for election tomorrow are all held by independents, each of whom is seeking re-election. Defeat for any would be highly unusual. The seats in question are:

Launceston. Rosemary Armitage came to this self-explanatory seat upon the retirement of Don Wing in 2011, running slightly behind the Liberal candidate on the primary vote but finishing well ahead after preferences. The Liberals are leaving the field vacant this time, leaving Armitage to be opposed by Brian Roe of Labor; Emma Anglesey of the Greens, who works as a staffer to Senator Peter Whish-Wilson; Matthew Allen of Shooters and Fishers; and two independents, Neroli Ellis and Mark Tapsell.

Rumney. This electorate is centred around Storm Bay about 25 kilometres east of Hobart, and includes Sorell, Richmond and Port Arthur. Lin Thorp held the seat from Labor until 1999 until her defeat in 2011, and later served in the Senate from 2012 and 2014, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Nick Sherry and then failing to win election in 2013 from third position on the ticket. She was succeeded in Rumney by Tony Mulder, a former police commander who ran in 2011 as an independent Liberal. Mulder’s opponents are Labor’s Sarah Lovell, an organiser for United Voice; Cheryl Arnol of Shooters and Fishers; and three rival independents, Shelley Shay, Debra Thurley and hardy perennial Steve Mav.

Murchison. This electorate covers the state’s lightly populated west coast, and a stretch of the north coast inclusive of Wynyard, Smithton and Somerset (areas covered federally by Braddon). Ruth Forrest has held the seat since 2005, and her only opponent is another independent, Daryl Quilliam.

EMRS state poll

The latest phone poll of 1000 respondents for EMRS, which is the first conducted since Rebecca White replaced Bryan Green as Labor leader, has both major parties well up on the primary vote, presumably because the Liberals have benefited from a drop in support for One Nation, while White has helped Labor soak up votes from the Greens. The Liberals are up four on the primary vote to 39%; Labor is up five to 34%; the Greens are down four to 15%; and One Nation is down three to 3%. Will Hodgman holds only a narrow 42-39 lead over White as preferred premier, after dominating on this measure throughout Bryan Green’s tenure.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Apsley and Elwick

Summaries and live count commentary on today’s elections for two of the fifteen seats for Tasmania’s Legislative Council.

End of night

In the best news Labor has had electorally from Tasmanian in some time, Josh Willie has won the party a second seat in the Legislative Council by taking the north Hobart seat of Elwick from independent incumbent Adriana Taylor. Kevin Bonhan on Twitter says scrutineering indicates that Greens preferences are behaving much as they did when Taylor won the seat in 2010, from which we can infer that Labor has gained a swing against Taylor just short of 10%, whose margin was 6.1%. In the other election today, independent Fiona Rattray has been comfortably returned in the rural seat of Apsley, with almost exactly half the vote out of a field of four candidates. That leaves Labor and Liberal with two seats apiece in the 15-member chamber, the rest being independents.

Live coverage

8.16pm. All booths now in from Elwick, and they point to a 9.2% increase in the Labor primary vote, an 8.6% drop for Adriana Taylor and next to no change for the Greens. A little over 1000 postals are slightly better for Taylor, but she’ll need something pretty extraordinary from here on in to overhaul Labor: like a 78% of Greens preferences, compared with the 54% she got in 2010.

8.04pm. One more booth left to report from Elwick, and I’m projecting the Labor lead at 2.8%.

7.46pm. The Merton booth is slightly better for Taylor, bringing my projected Labor lead back from 4% to 3%.

7.38pm. Things keep looking better for Labor candidate Josh Willie in Elwick, who is now projected with a 3.9% lead from a 10% swing. It would now require something fairly radical on postal votes or Greens preferences to turn it around. The raw figures have Willie on 48.0% and Adriana Taylor on 39.2%.

7.27pm. Elwick: A very good result for Labor from the Lutana booth (swing 16%) and an adequate one in Windermere (7%) leave me projecting an 8.5% swing to Labor and a winning margin of 2.4%. That’s with seven booths, pre-polls and postals outstanding, and a lot of uncertainty over Greens preferences. Apsley: all but four booths in, and Rattray comfortably re-elected with 49.0% of the primary vote.

7.22pm. Elwick: the biggest booth so far, Moonah, delivers another tight result. I’m now recording a 7.2% swing to Labor’s Josh Willie, projecting to a 1.1% lead over independent member Adriana Taylor. However, there is no two-candidate preferred count, so this presumes Greens preferences behave as they did in 2010, with 54.7% going to Taylor and 45.3% going to Labor. We very likely won’t know the real story until preferences are distributed.

7.02pm. The 622 votes of the Rosetta booth are a steadier for Adriana Taylor, reflecting Collinsvale with a swing to Labor of around 2%, rather than the 13% in Goodwood. My projection now has two-candidate preferred tied to the first decimal place. Most booths are now in from Apsley, and the numbers are little changed on the previous entry.

6.54pm. A big win for Labor in the Goodwood booth, with 57.2% out of 470 votes, puts the pressure on Adriana Taylor in Elwick. I’m now projecting an 8.1% swing and a 2.0% lead to Labor. In Apsley, Rattray has dipped slightly below 50%, with the Labor candidate on 24.4%.

6.38pm. Twelve booths in now from Apsley, and Rattray is up to 57.7%.

6.32pm. The first booth in Elwick, Collinsvale, suggests a swing to Labor of a bit over 2%, against Adriana Taylor’s margin of around 6.1%. Another six booths in Apsley bring Rattray down to 52.0%, with Labor second on 22.7%.

6.20pm. The first booth in is the small rural booth of Gladstone in Apsley, and it records 116 votes for Rattray compared with a combined total of 30 for her three opponents.


Today is the day of Tasmania’s periodical elections for the Legislative Council, which come around on the first Saturday of each May. This post will be used to provide commentary on the results as they are reported. What follows is a quick and dirty overview: for greater depth, local observer Kevin Bonham is your man.

Tasmania reverses the usual practice in having proportional representation in the lower house and single-member electoral districts in the upper, which are elected by a semi-optional preferential system in which voters are required to number at least three boxes (so effectively compulsory preferential when, as today, there are four or fewer candidates). The 15 seats are elected according to a rotating six-year schedule where two or three seats are up for election each year. This peculiar system results in low-key elections that are dominated by independents, who once elected are very difficult to dislodge. The major parties don’t bother to field candidates more often than not, although Labor has for both seats today. The Legislative Council currently has two Liberals and one Labor member, with independents accounting for the other twelve. Independents are seeking re-election in the two seats up for election today: Elwick, based around Glenorchy in the north of Hobart, and Apsley, which covers the state’s rural north-east, not inclusive of Launceston.

Elwick was held by Labor until 2007 when the then member, Terry Martin, was ejected from the parliamentary party after voting against laws to speed up assessment of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay in 2007. Martin was charged on child prostitution offences in 2009, and did not recontest in 2010. A new Labor candidate was then defeated by Glenorchy Mayor Adriana Taylor, a former Labor member running as an independent. Taylor now seeks re-election in face of opposition from Labor’s candidate, primary school teacher Josh Willie, and Penelope Ann of the Greens.

Apsley has been held by Tania Rattray since the retirement of her father, Colin Rattray, in 2004. She won the seat from just 16.7% of the primary vote amid a crowded field of ten candidates, and was re-elected unopposed in 2010. Labor has chosen to field a candidate, for reasons that might make sense to people who are more on top of local politics than I am, in the person of Darren Clark, chief executive of the Tasmanian Police and Community Youth Clubs, who polled fairly well as a candidate in Lyons at the 2014 state election. Also in the field are Greens candidate Sophie Houghton and independent Brett Hall, a local farmer with a background in conservative politics.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Windermere, Derwent, Mersey

Three of the seats for Tasmania’s 15-member Legislative Council are up for election today, including the only one still held by Labor.

Live count

8.02pm. Newnham’s in, so we’re done for the evening. It wasn’t a great result for Dean, bringing his primary vote projection down to 43.0% and Labor’s required preference share to 75.4%. But Scott McLean (16.7%) has more votes than the Greens (11.2%), and not a few of them can be expected to go to Dean.

8.01pm. I had that wrong about the Ravenswood booth not being in use. Now that I have it right, it’s Dean 44.0%, Labor required preference share 78.3%.

7.52pm. I hadn’t been accounting for the fact that the Ravenswood booth isn’t in use this time; doing so increases Labor’s required preference share to 80.5%.

7.47pm. Dilston (628 votes) and Mowbray (783 votes) leave the situation unchanged, Dean at 44.3%, Labor needing 78.7%. Only outstanding booth is Newnham, which with 2235 votes comfortably the biggest booth in 2010.

7.37pm. 1183 pre-polls push Dean’s primary vote projection back up to 44.5%, and Labor’s required preference share to 79.0%.

7.32pm. A weak result for Dean from George Town (1540 votes) brings his primary vote projection down to 43.9% and Labor’s required preference share down to 76.9%.

7.30pm. Inveresk (953 votes) added to the count, leaving the situation unchanged.

7.28pm. Elphin (809) and Hillwood (426) added for Windermere, leaving six booths outstanding, and I have Dean back up to 46.1% – the projections and the raw result (45.8%) having pretty much converged now – and Labor’s required preference share up to around 85%.

7.17pm. Three more booths from Windermere, including 1006 votes at Invermay, 966 at St Leonards and 745 at Waverley, put Ivan Dean at 43.8%. Labor, on around 28%, would need about 78% of preferences to win, which is very hard to see. But Dean’s margin will be much smaller than first indicated.

7.06pm. Mike Gaffney polling about three-quarters of the vote in Mersey, Craig Farrell on 63.9% in Derwent.

7.03pm. 579 votes from Rocherlea brings Ivan Dean’s primary vote projection down still further, to 44.4%. If Scott McLean hadn’t run, it’s possible you wouldn’t be writing Labor off at this point, although they would still have been needing a very large share of Greens preferences.

6.57pm. Biggest booth in from Windermere yet is George Town South, which is slightly less good for Dean and reins his projection back to 46.4%.

6.50pm. 544 votes from Norwood plus 251 from the mobile booth bring Ivan Dean’s primary vote projection down to 49.6%, but with none of the other candidates clearing 20%, we certainly have enough in now to call today’s proceedings an easy clean sweep for all three incumbents.

6.49pm. A second booth in Mersey, at Forth, favours Mike Gaffney 451-152, so you can put down your glasses there if you haven’t already.

6.48pm. A second booth in Windermere, 248 votes at Pipers River, causes me to reel the Ivan Dean primary vote projection in slightly to 51.2%.

6.45pm. Eleven booths now from Derwent, Labor’s own all of them easily, and I’m projecting it at 68.6-36.7.

6.41pm. The first booth from Windermere, 103 votes from Weymouth, is good for Ivan Dean. He’s up 15.4%, from which I’m projecting a primary vote total of 54.6%.

6.38pm. Four booths in now from Derwent, and I’m projecting a 68-32 Labor win.

6.34pm. Mike Gaffney wins the first booth in Mersey 100-47, so no indication of any surprise there either. Nothing yet from Windermere.

6.31pm. To booths in Derwent that gave Labor 39.0% of the vote in 2009 have given them 63.4% now, so clearly there are no surprises in store there.

6.20pm. Polls closed 20 minutes ago. Now I’ll get my act together for live coverage.


Today’s the day for the annual periodical elections for Tasmania’s Legislative Council, in which either two or three of the chamber’s 15 electoral divisions go up for election over a six-year cycle. The peculiarly low-key nature of the elections that result cause the chamber to be dominated by independents, with Labor and Liberal each having only one seat apiece (UPDATE: I beg your pardon – Leonie Hiscutt also won Montgomery for the Liberals in 2013). Among the seats in play this year is the Labor-held electorate of Derwent, while the other two, Windermere and Mersey, find independents seeking re-election. Labor is running a candidate in Windermere but the Liberals have reverted to type in declining to field any candidates, after disappointing performances in the elections held in the wake of Will Hodgman’s landslide win last year. The elections are held under a system of semi-compulsory preferential voting, with voters required to number at least three boxes.

The most interesting of the three contests looks to be Windermere, which covers the eastern bank of the Tamar River, from the mouth through Bell Bay of Gunns pulp mill fame on to the northern and eastern suburbs of Launceston. It has been held since 2003 by Ivan Dean, whom the Liberals once hoped might run as their federal candidate for Bass, and who served concurrently as mayor of Launceston from 2005 until his defeat in 2007. Dean had a fairly modest victory when re-elected in 2009 over former Labor MP Kathryn Hay, in a field that also included now Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson. He is now 70 years old, and as Kevin Bonham notes, his re-election would make him the oldest successful Legislative Council candidate since 1965. Labor’s candidate is Jennifer Houston, a project officer with the Department of Community Services. Bonham observes the seat has been “heavily targeted” by Labor, but they may have been done a disservice by the independent candidacy of Soctt McLean, a former forests division secretary of the CFMEU (now listed as an “industry and community liaison officer”) who ran unsuccessfully for Labor in Bass at the 2001 state election. Also in the field is Greens candidate Vanessa Bleyer, a lawyer.

Derwent extends from Hobart outskirts for about 100 kilometres through the Derwent Valley. Labor’s only remaining member in the chamber, Craig Farrell, is seeking re-election, having succeeded former Treasurer Michael Aird on his retirement in 2009. He has an independent opponent in Alan Baker, an IT consultant whom Kevin Bonham rates as “low profile” and unlikely to cause Gaffney serious trouble.

Mersey covers Devonport and its immediate surrounds, and is held by independent Mike Gaffney, who succeeded independent Norma Jamieson on her retirement in 2009. He is opposed by one other independent, business owner Vivienne Gale, who gets the same assessment from Kevin Bonham as Alan Baker in Derwent.

I’ll be conducting live commentary on the count from the close of polls, as will Kevin Bonham, who as you may have gathered is more on top of all this than I am.

Huon and Rosevears live

Live coverage of the count for today’s elections in the Tasmanian Legislative Council seats of Huon and Rosevears.

# % Proj. 2CP Proj.
Robert Armstrong 4179 20.4% 56.8%
Jimmy Bell 3167 15.4%
Rodney Dillon 1681 8.2%
Peter Hodgman (Liberal) 5362 26.1% 26.1% 43.2%
Helen Lane 868 4.2%
Pavel Ruzicka 1308 6.4%
Liz Smith 3949 19.3%
TOTAL 20514 81.2% of enrolled voters
Booths reporting 25 out of 25
Kerry Finch 11712 60.4% 60.9%
Don Morris (Liberal) 7689 39.6% 39.1%
TOTAL 19401 77.5% of enrolled voters
Booths reporting 15 out of 15

Monday night

Progressive preference distribution pretty much puts Robert Armstrong’s win beyond doubt. At the second last exclusion, Liz Smith looks set to drop out with 6411 votes to 6945 for Armstrong and 6941 for Peter Hodgman. Smith’s preferences then flow heavily to Armstrong, giving him a 10645-8080 victory. Hodgman might well have been the winner if it was Armstrong rather than Smith dropping out of the count, but the 543 vote gap that separates them is clearly insurmountable.

The table above has been updated with the latest counting, which included the addition today of 273 postal votes, and also with preference allocations based on the actual results rather than estimates based on past elections. Whereas the estimates had 56% going independent, 38% to the Liberals and 6% exhausting, the actual figures are 59% independent, 25% Liberal and 16% exhausting. I’ve turned off the projection for Huon, so this is all based on raw figures.

Sunday night

Rechecking and a handful of new votes have added 207 to the formal count in Huon, fractionally to the advantage of Hodgman and Smith and to the disadvantage of Armstrong, without changing the underly situation. Kevin Bonham reports that the “real action” of the preference distribution will start tomorrow afternoon.


The Tasmanian Liberals have suffered a very disappointing result from elections which they hoped would expand their existing foothold of two seats in the 15-member Legislative Council, where Labor has only one member with all other seats held by independents. At the northern end of the state, Kerry Finch has been comfortably returned as the independent member for Rosevears despite being targeted by an aggressive Liberal campaign which painted him as “just like the Greens”. At the southern end, voters in Huon appear to have rebuffed the Premier’s uncle, Peter Hodgman, in his bid to return to parliament after 13 years.

A well-known family name is a considerable asset in Tasmania’s Hare-Clark lower house elections, which puts candidates into competition with the other candidates on their own party ticket. This has at the very least done no harm to the electoral fortunes of current MPs bearing the names of Hodgman, Bacon, Groom, O’Byrne, Ogilvie and Petrusma (a Ken Bacon won election for Labor in Lyons in 1998 and 2002, despite being no relation). However, today’s result in Huon might indicate that this is in no way transferable to the more conventional electoral system for the upper house, where voters operating in a by-election environment may well react adversely to family empire-building – and perhaps also to candidates seeking to enter parliament a few weeks short of their sixty-eighth birthday.

Hodgman ends the night’s counting with a primary vote lead over six independent rivals, of whom the front-runners are Huon Valley mayor Robert Armstrong and his council colleague Liz Smith. But with few voters traditionally availing themselves of the option to have their preferences exhaust (they are required to number a minimum of three boxes), the seat will most likely be won by whoever makes the final count out of Armstrong and Smith. Dissemination of how-to-vote cards at polling booths being forbidden in Tasmania, a considerable element of randomness can be expected in the distribution of preferences. However, the candidates’ ideological affinities offer at least some guide.

Smith was until recently a member of the Greens, whereas Armstrong is described by Kevin Bonham in comments as “a pretty mainstream pro-development right-winger”. Together with the little-known Helen Lane, there will be an early elimination of Rodney Dillon and Pavel Ruzicka, whom Bonham respectively describes as “a leftie” and “pro-forestry”. Jimmy Bell, who “seems Laborish”, is likely to go next, unless he receives an unexpectedly solid flow of preferences from Lane, Dillon and Ruzicka. It is entirely possible that a cumulative leftish lean among the aforementioned will stand Smith in good stead, and allow her to pull ahead of Armstrong. That might just give Hodgman a glimmer of hope if he receives a heavy flow of preferences from Armstrong. But if the final count comes down to Armstrong and Hodgman, it would be very hard to see preferences from the other candidates failing to flow decisively Armstrong’s way.

Election night

8.28pm. Huon: The Blackmans Bay booth is now added, finishing the count for the night, and it’s a belated good result for Hodgman, though he’s still a long shot at best. Armstrong holds a narrow lead over Smith, with preferences likely to determine who ends up emerging the victor over Hodgman.

8.17pm. Huon: Franklin added – a small booth, but a good result for Smith.

8.02pm. Huon: The decisive factor looks likely to be the preferences of Jimmy Bell, who is the “manager of Huon Valley PCYC”. I might intuitively expect such a candidate’s voters to favour Armstrong over Smith in particular, although I’m entirely ignorant of the personal histories of any of those concerned.

7.58pm. Huon: Margate, Cygnet and Sandfly added, the first being the largest booth in the electorate after yet-to-report Blackmans Bay. Cygnet and Sandfly are two of five booths to have been won by Liz Smith, who is now well ahead of Jimmy Bell again and only slightly behind Robert Armstrong, while Margate is a clear win for Hodgman. The two booths still to come are very large Blackmans Bay, where 3289 votes were cast at the state election, and much smaller Franklin, 531 votes.

7.43pm. Rosevears: All booths are in, in what may have been the quickest count I’ve ever witnessed (there being only two candidates obviously helped).

7.34pm. Huon: As the projected primary vote figure indicates, the weakest booths for the Liberals, namely those on the southern edge of Hobart (particularly Blackmans Bay, where 3289 votes were cast at the state election, more than double the largest booth to report so far), are still to come. Robert Armstrong looks best placed, but the outstanding booths are off his Huon Valley turf, so there’s no grounds at this stage to pick a winner out of Armstrong, Smith and Bell.

7.32pm. Huon: Dover added, a fairly small booth but a strong result for Armstrong.

7.29pm. Huon: Snug, Ranelagh, Mountain River and Howden added, together with 831 pre-polls. These have clipped Robert Armstrong slightly, putting Peter Hodgman back in the primary vote lead, while Liz Smith is back in third place over Jimmy Bell (who nonetheless won the Ranelagh booth, to add to his wins in Huonville and Judbury), albeit by the narrowest of margins.

7.24pm. Rosevears: Two more booths in, maintaining Finch’s clean sweep, leaving only Riverside to go.

7.21pm. Rosevears: 12 of 15 booths in now, together with 951 postals, and Kerry Finch has won all of them.

7.15pm. Huon: Things have shifted strongly in Robert Armstrong’s favour with the addition of Huonville, Geeveston, Port Huon and 1537 postal votes, to the extent that he now leads Peter Hodgman on the primary vote is looking a very likely winner. Another independent, Jimmy Bell, won the very large Huonville booth, and has now taken third place ahead of Liz Smith.

7.07pm. Rosevears: Beauty Point added; Kerry Finch still cruising to re-election.

7.03pm. Huon: Surges Bay and Woodbridge added, the latter being a great result for Liz Smith, who is now close to matching Peter Hodgman on the primary vote. However, it may be that the larger booths near Hobart end up telling a different story, at least with respect to Smith-versus-Armstrong.

6.56pm. Huon: Agfest, Cradog and Kettering added. Still looking very tight between Armstrong and Smith to see who emerges the challenger to Hodgman, whose vote is well south of where he would like it to be. So a disappointing picture overall for the Liberals.

6.54pm. Rosevears: Another three booths do nothing to dispel the picture of a clear victory for Kerry Finch.

6.50pm. Huon: Glen Huon and Judbury added. Weak results for Hodgman, who no longer has his projected lead. Armstrong heavily outpolled Smith in Glen Huon but Smith outpolled him in Judbury, which is interesting because the two booths are very close to each other. The booths in outer Hobart will be very important, and none of them have yet reported.

6.46pm. Huon: The Huon Valley municipality, of which Robert Armstrong is the very long-serving mayor, does not encompass Bruny Island, which is heavily over-represented in the results so far. It might also be that Armstrong will do better on preferences than Smith.

6.42pm. Huon: Barnes Bay, the third and final booth on Bruny Island, and Middleton, located on the mainland immediately opposite, have been added. Smith still ahead of Armstrong. The projection suggests Peter Hodgman will win narrowly, but I’m not at all confident about that – his primary vote is certain competitive, but not spectacular.

6.40pm. Rosevears: Further good results for Kerry Finch from Sidmouth and Glengarry. Barring a very different pattern in Launceston, he doesn’t look likely to be troubled.

6.39pm. The first booth in from Rosevears is Frankford, and while it’s very small, it’s good news for Kerry Finch.

6.35pm. 112 mobile votes added to the totals, but these aren’t being used to calculate the projections.

6.33pm. A third small booth, Alonnah, has reported, being the second one on Bruny Island. Smith again outpolls Armstrong. I’d recalibrate the charts to make her the second candidate, if results weren’t coming in so quickly.

6.32pm. Both Adventure Bay and Southport delivered 20% for the Greens compared with 16.8% for the entire Franklin electorate. Presumably Armstrong will do a lot better in booths in Huon Valley.

6.29pm. Another small booth added for Huon, Southport, delivers another very strong result for Liz Smith. I’ll check to see if these were particularly strong booths for the Greens, which might explain it. Otherwise, she rather than Armstrong might emerge as the biggest threat to Hodgman.

6.26pm. Results in from the very small Adventure Bay booth on Bruny Island. The numbers above include a particularly experimental two-candidate projection with preferences very roughly estimated from past form at Legislative Council elections, in which Robert Armstrong is presumed to be the strongest candidate apart from Peter Hodgman (although that’s not the case on these numbers), with 38% of preferences going to Hodgman, 56% to Armstrong, and 6% exhausting. However, that could well be too generous to Hodgman, so treat with due caution.

6pm. Polls have closed for today’s elections in the Tasmanian Legislative Council seats of Huon and Rosevears. This post will follow the results as they are published, using somewhat experimental projections based on comparison of the Liberal vote with the booth results from the March 15 state election.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Huon and Rosevears

Seven weeks after their landslide election win, Tasmania’s Liberals are hoping to remain on the front foot at tomorrow’s elections for two of the state’s 15 upper house seats.

Tomorrow being the first Saturday of May, it’s time for the annual periodical elections for Tasmania’s Legislative Council, in which either two or three of the fifteen electoral divisions go to the polls according to a staggered cycle that plays out over six years. These are very often somnolent affairs, the chamber being uniquely dominated by independents who mostly come to their roles via local government. Members once elected are hard to dislodge, and the contests are usually only competitive when one retires. However, things are rather a lot more interesting on this occasion, with the Liberals making an aggressive move on a chamber where they have traditionally had little or no formal representation. This comes seven weeks after a 16-year stretch in opposition ended with a landslide election victory, and parallels Labor’s efforts to make its presence felt in the chamber when the electoral wind was in its sails during the early years of Jim Bacon’s government. The high-water mark for Labor came when it made it to five seats in 2001, all located in and around Hobart, to which could be added the notionally independent Silvia Smith, who had been Labor’s federal member for Bass from 1993 to 1996. All that remains to Labor now is the northern Hobart outskirts seat of Derwent, where Craig Farrell succeeded former Treasurer Michael Aird upon his retirement in 2011.

The Liberals had long been unrepresented in the chamber until 2009 when Vanessa Goodwin won a by-election held after Labor’s Allison Ritchie resigned in the eastern Hobart seat of Pembroke, which Labor ignominiously declined to contest. Goodwin was joined last year by Leonie Hiscutt, who won the Burnie-based seat of Montgomery upon the retirement of independent Sue Smith. The chamber has traditionally included a number of members with links to the Liberal Party despite their notional independence, a conspicuous recent example being Paul Harriss, who vacated his seat of Huon to make a successful run as a Liberal candidate for Franklin in the lower house. The Liberals now hope to formally move the seat into the fold by running a high-profile candidate, and are also gunning hard for independent incumbent Kerry Finch in the other seat up for election tomorrow, Rosevears. Reviewing the two electorates in turn:


Candidates in ballot paper order: Robert Armstrong; Jimmy Bell; Rodney Dillon; Peter Hodgman (Liberal); Helen Lane; Pavel Ruzicka; Liz Smith.

Huon covers the southernmost parts of Tasmania including Blackmans Bay and Margate on Hobart’s southern outskirts, small towns to the south including Huonville and Cygnet, and the unpopulated southern part of the World Heritage area in the state’s south-west. Recently elected as a Liberal member for Franklin in the lower house, Paul Harriss came to the seat in 1996 having run unsuccessfully in Franklin at the state election three months previously and, as Antony Green puts it, “retained enough name recognition to win Huon as an independent”.

The big news in Huon is that the Liberals now hope to secure the seat on the strength of the biggest brand name in Tasmanian politics. Peter Hodgman is the 67-year-old uncle of the current Premier and the younger brother of his father, the late Michael Hodgman. While his other relations are somewhat better known, Peter Hodgman boasts a considerable CV in politics in his own right, including a previous stint as the notionally independent member for Huon from 1974 to 1986, which began when he succeeded brother Michael after he quit to run for the federal seat of Denison (unsuccessfully at first, but he prevailed on the second attempt in 1975). This was followed by 15 years as a state member for Franklin in the lower house, during which time he served as a minister in the Groom-Rundle government of 1992 to 1998. In 2001 he quit to run against Labor’s Harry Quick in the federal seat of Franklin, a long shot that failed to come off.

Joining Hodgman on the ballot paper are six other candidates, all independents. The most obvious competitor to Hodgman would look to be Robert Armstrong, who has been the mayor of Huon Valley since 2001, winning election on five successive occasions. Also in the field is Liz Smith, who has been on the Huon Valley council since 2002 and was until recently aligned with the Greens. Other candidates are Jimmy Bell, the manager of Huon Valley PCYC; Rodney Dillon, who works for Amnesty International; Pavel Ruzicka, a “sawmiller and specialist timber provider”, and Helen Lane, who runs a computer consultancy business.


Candidates in ballot paper order: Kerry Finch; Don Morris (Liberal).

Rosevears includes the western suburbs of Launceston, which provide about 60% of its voters, extending north-westwards to the coast through rural territory on the western bank of the Tamar River, encompassing the mining town of Beaconsfield and nearby Beauty Point. It has been held since 2002 by Kerry Finch, who was well-known locally after 24 years as a presenter for ABC Radio in northern Tasmania. Finch’s only competition when he faced re-election in 2008 was a low-profile independent, but this time he has a Liberal opponent in Don Morris, a former chief-of-staff to Will Hodgman who has more recently worked as an adviser to Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine. The strategy of the Liberal campaign has been to portray Finch as “just like the Greens”, citing his support for same-sex marriage and “the job-destroying forest deal”, and opposition to the contentious Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal – a message it has promoted through television advertising and automated phone calls.