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.

Preview

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.

Preview

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.
HUON
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
.
ROSEVEARS
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.

Sunday

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:

Huon

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.

Rosevears

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.

Tasmanian upper house elections

Hold on to your hats election buffs, for today’s the day Tasmania elects one fifth of its Legislative Council.

Live commentary

8.18pm. Final results for the night have Jim Wilkinson re-elected with 48.8% in Nelson, and Vanessa Goowdin comfortably home with 51.2% of the vote in Pembroke to 35.9% for Allison Ritchie. Postals are still outstanding in Montgomery where Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is on 45.6% with second-placed Cheryl Fuller on 30.0%.

7.53pm. Kevin Bonham observes a “very horrible result” for the Greens in Pembroke (12.8% with one booth to spare) but a “fairly good one” in Nelson (24.9%). Though presumably the lack of an alternative for Labor supporters in Nelson had a lot to do with this.

very horrible result in #Pembroke but a fairly good one

7.35pm. With all but three booths in, Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is down a little to 48.1% in Montgomery. Still a very clear winner though.

7.33pm. Better looking numbers now for Vanessa Goodwin in Pembroke: 52.7% to Ritchie’s 34.4%. Very good night for the Liberals.

7.21pm. More good results for Montgomery Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt in two big booths. A clear win for her, and a big result for the Liberals. Expect federal Labor’s prospects in Bass and Braddon to feature heavily in the after-match commentary.

7.12pm. Five booths in out 13 in Pembroke and the result is settling in at around 50% for Goodwin, 37% for Ritchie and 12% for the Greens. Without having given the matter too much thought, this is a softer result for Goodwin (and a stronger one for Ritchie) than I would have expected.

7.06pm. Wilkinson’s vote down 13.2% according to Antony Green, although he may have faced a less competitive field last time.

7.03pm. Jim Wilkinson has faded to 49.0% in Nelson with four booths reporting out of 13, but he’s still home and hosed.

7.01pm. Lots of booths now from Montgomery, and while the biggest ones are still outstanding, the Liberal candidate is polled strongly in the South Burnie booth and is now looking a clear winner on 50.8% of the vote to 27.1% for Cheryl Fuller in second place.

7.00pm. And now the large (1890 votes) booth from Lindisfarne Village is in, and Goodwin’s vote edges up to 51.5%. Ritchie is down to 35.3%, but Lindisfarne was a strong booth for the Greens who are up to 13.3%.

6.59pm. In Pembroke, the Agfest booth is better for Goodwin than the Mornington booth, as I guess you’d expect it to be, and she now leads Ritchie 50.9% to 41.9%.

6.56pm. I failed to notice that there were 1079 postal votes in that result as well. So Wilkinson definitely in the clear.

6.55pm. One small booth in from Nelson provides no indication that independent member Jim Wilkinson will be troubled (59.1% of the vote from 155 votes counted).

6.53pm. Antony Green’s projection for Pembroke, going off the previous upper house election, is even more favourable for the Liberals: 49.4%.

6.49pm. First booth in Pembroke (Mornington) has what looks to my eyes a surprisingly strong result for Allison Ritchie, who is on 46.8% to 44.7% for Liberal member Vanessa Goodwin. Perhaps this booth is a Labor stronghold?

6.47pm. On the basis of the result just noted, Kevin Bonham’s model, which works off 2010 state election results, projects Hiscutt’s primary vote at 44%. If so, that should be enough for her. That would mean a second seat for the Liberals in the Legislative Council. Can any local scholars tell me when there were more official Liberal than Labor members in the chamber?

6.44pm. Nine booths in from Montgomery (one of those is the mobile booth, if you think that doesn’t count as a booth), and Hiscutt’s vote has faded only slightly to 50.4%. However, all are small rural booths (324 votes at most) and the ball remains in Burnie’s court. Cheryl Fuller is a clear second place on 29.9%.

6.34pm. Three admittedly small booths in from Montgomery, and Liberal candidate Leonie Hiscutt is polling very well indeed on 55.8% of the vote. You would want to see some booths in from Burnie though before drawing any conclusions.

6pm. Polls have closed, so welcome to the live coverage. I imagine the very first booths will report in half an hour or so.

Overview

As happens on the first Saturday of every May, there will be a partial election today for Tasmania’s Legislative Council. This chamber is composed of 15 representatives of single-member districts which face election over a six-year cycle, with either two or three seats up for election each year. This year is the turn of three electorates, two in and around Hobart and the other in the state’s north. The Legislative Council is overwhelmingly dominated by independents, with elections being subdued and locally oriented affairs that have more of the flavour of local than state government elections. However, the major parties sometimes win seats in Hobart especially. Labor held five seats at its electoral high-water mark from 2001 to 2007. Four of those have since fallen by the wayside, and the Liberals gained their one and only seat at a by-election in 2009. That was in the electorate of Nelson, which is one of the three up for election today. The other two are held by independents, of whom one is retiring and one seeking re-election.

Nelson. Hobart’s outer southern suburb of Sandy Bay and the satellite town of Kingston. Jim Wilkinson is seeking re-election after 18 years as independent member. He has attracted one Greens and two independent opponents. The independents are Helen Richardson, an Australian Education Union organiser who Labor presumably wouldn’t mind seeing get up, and Hans Willink, a former Liberal branch president and state election candidate who is running because of Wilkinson’s opposition to same-sex marriage legislation. The Greens candidate is Tom Baxter, an accountancy lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Kevin Bonham relates the results of the only opinion polling I’ve ever known to be conducted of a Tasmanian upper house election. Voting intention was not broached directly, and the results probably wouldn’t have been all that accurate if it had been, given the low intensity of Legislative Council contests.

Pembroke. The Hobart suburbs on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. This is the most intriguing contest from a partisan perspective, as it pits the chamber’s only Liberal member, Vanessa Goodwin, against former Labor member Allison Ritchie, who is running as an independent. Ritchie quit parliament in mid-2009 after enduring a storm of controversy over her appointment of several family members to her staff. Such were Labor’s diminishing stocks that they did not bother to field a candidate in the ensuing by-election, in which Goodwin won an easy victory from a crowd of eight candidates with 38.6% of the vote. Also in the field is Greens candidate Wendy Heatley, a legal aid lawyer.

Montgomery. Most of Burnie and the coast immediately to its east, including Penguin and Ulverstone. Sue Smith is retiring after 16 years as the seat’s independent member. The election has attracted an endorsed Liberal candidate and three independents. The Liberal is Leonie Hiscutt, a marriage celebrant and president of the Central Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Hiscutt polled 4.2% as a candidate in Braddon at the 2010 state election. The independents are Cheryl Fuller, the deputy mayor of Central Coast; Kevin Morgan, a former Department of Premier and Cabinet adviser and former ALP member; and Ed Vincent, chief executive of the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association.

Hobart and Western Tiers live

Sunday. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission has provisionally reviewed the preferences and been unable to determine definitively that the Greens will finish ahead of Labor in Hobart, although it seems fairly clear that they will. Beyond that, only the margin of Valentine’s win over whoever finishes second is at issue. In Western Tiers, Greg Hall has 73.4% of the vote.

7.41pm. Four more booths in and three more to go, and we’re still looking at a result of about 36% for Valentine, 22% for the Greens and 20% for Labor.

7.15pm. Par for the course result from West Hobart booth.

7.14pm. 1235 pre-polls are very strong for Valentine (40.6%), very weak for Labor (15.5%) and status quo for Greens (23.6%).

7.09pm. Lenah Valley booth is Valentine’s strongest and the Greens weakest yet; but South Hobart the Greens’ strongest yet and Labor’s weakest. Greens looking very likely to finish second, unless James Sugden’s preferences flow heavily to Labor for some reason. The gap between Valentine and the Greens is now 37.0% to 23.1%, so if you weren’t calling it for Valentine before you would be now.

7.01pm. North Hobart relatively strong for Labor and weak for Valentine, though the Greens have still beaten Labor in every booth so far.

6.59pm. I defer to the superior judgement of Stephen Luntz in comments, who reckons Labor preferences will favour Valentine over the Greens, meaning he should win easily.

6.57pm. Mount Stuart is a relatively weak result for the Greens, with 19.5% only fractionally ahead of Labor on 19.4%, and Valentine on 35.8%. More results like that would put the issue beyond doubt.

6.54pm. The two Hobart city booths are now in, and the Greens candidate has a solid lead over Labor (26.3% to 20.4%), and remains close enough to Valentine (34.3%) to make life interesting – depending on the behaviour of preferences from Labor and strongly performing independent James Sugden (12.9%).

6.46pm. First result in from Hobart is West Hobart, and Rob Valentine’s has 31.8%, Labor’s looking bad with 22.9%, with the Greens in second place on 24.5%. At this early stage, you wouldn’t rule out a Greens win over Valentine on Labor preferences, even if your money would be on Valentine.

6.45pm. Half of Western Tiers’s booths are in before Hobart has got out of bed, and Hall is now on 74.6%.

6.31pm. Three more booths from Western Tiers, and Hall now up to 76.2%.

6.25pm. Four booths in from Western Tiers, and clearly no prospect of a boilover: Greg Hall 72.9%, John Hawkins 27.1%.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Tasmanian upper house elections for Hobart and Western Tiers. I presume we’ll be getting small rural booths in very shortly from Western Tiers, but will have to wait half to three-quarters of an hour for results from Hobart.

Tasmanian upper house elections: May 5

Voters in two of Tasmania’s 15 Legislative Council divisions (or at least, those of them who can be bothered) will go to the polls on Saturday, a result of the quaint arrangement for that chamber in which elections are held annually for members who serve terms staggered over a six-year cycle. These elections have more of the feel of local government than state parliamentary elections, and outside Hobart (and to a considerable extent inside Hobart as well) are dominated by independents to the extent that the major parties rarely bother to field candidates.

Labor managed to secure five of the chamber’s 15 seats at the peak of its electoral cycle from 2001 to 2007, but it has been shedding them steadily ever since and is at risk of being reduced to one if things do not go their way in the division of Hobart – and the consensus view is that they won’t, given the retirement after 18 years of Doug Parkinson and the entry into the race of Rob Valentine, the long-serving former lord mayor. The other contest is in the northern and central Tasmania seat of Western Plains, where independent incumbent Greg Hall faces another independent challenger in John Hawkins.

The division of Hobart was known prior to the 2008 redistribution as Wellington, and is bounded to the south by the Sandy Bay Rivulet, a small waterway running south of the city centre. From there it extends north through South Hobart, West Hobart, North Hobart and Hobart proper, and on to New Town and Lenah Valley. This is ground zero for the Greens in Tasmania: their Senate vote in this area’s polling booths was 39.3% at the 2010 federal election, compared with 31.6% for Labor and 24.8% for the Liberals. At the last election for Wellington in 2006, Doug Parkinson received 43.1% against 26.3% for the Greens (then as now, the Liberals did not field a candidate).

The Greens’ position has evidently strengthened since then, and they have further benefited from a redistribution which exchanged the Labor-voting northern end of the electorate at Moonah and Lutana for Greens heartland in South Hobart. It would thus appear to offer the Greens an excellent chance of winning their first ever seat in the chamber, to supplement the five they hold in the 25-member lower house. However, the consensus is that the entry of Valentine will thwart them.

The candidates in ballot paper order:

Penelope Ann (Greens). A teacher and Eastern Shore bed and breakfast operator.

John Michael Forster (Independent). A “business analyst” who polled weakly in earlier runs for Rumney in last year’s Legislative Council election and for Franklin at the 2010 federal election. He tells the Mercury he has “spent the past 20 years working in accounting and IT for businesses small and large, Australian and multinational”, and is concerned with fiscal responsibility.

Paul Hiscutt (Independent). A Hobart nurse and former death penalty advocate who polled 8.2% when he ran in 2006. He is also described by the Mercury as a “former pop star”, though I suspect this may be laying it on a bit thick.

James Sugden (Independent). An industrial engineering consultant, who if nothing else has won the favour of Greg Barns.

Rob Valentine (Independent). Valentine first became an alderman in 1992 and began his epic stint as lord mayor in 1999, which continued until he declined to seek a fourth term at the elections held last year. Tasmanian gentleman psephologist Kevin Bonham relates at the Tasmanian Times that Valentine has “occupied a moderate position on the Council, more or less in between the endorsed Greens and the informal ‘blues’ cluster of pro-development/business lobby aldermen who sometimes have links to the Liberal Party”.

Dean Winter (Labor). A media adviser to the federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins. No doubt with the 61-year-old Valentine in mind, 26-year-old Winter has criticised the Legislative Council as a “retirement village for former town mayors or conservatives”, and received support from Bill Shorten, who went to so far as to describe the chamber as “nothing but a nursing home”. Winter’s entry into the “wildcard division” of Cleo’s Bachelor of the Award informs us that he looks for a woman with “intelligence, passion and nice eyes” (Kristina Keneally reportedly fits the bill), and that his best body part as his chest. Labor had originally planned to use the election to trial a preselection primary, but this fell through due to lack of interest at both ends: few locals registered interest in participating, and Winter was the only eligible candidate to nominate. Another hopeful, Denison state election candidate Madeleine Ogilvie, was ruled out on the grounds she was a non-financial member of the party.

A quieter contest is unfolding in Western Tiers, known before the redistribution as Rowallan, which mostly consists of territory inland of the northern population centres of Launceston and Devonport (plus a small stretch of coast east of Devonport), from where it extends deep into central Tasmania. Greg Hall is seeking a third term, having won 31.9% in a six-way contest in 2001 and 82.0% in 2006 when he was opposed only by the Greens. Kevin Bonham relates that Hall is “strongly supportive of the Tasmanian forest industry, so it’s no surprise that his opponent is a critic on forestry issues”. That opponent is John Hawkins, a Chudleigh businessman and farmer of apparently considerable means. Hawkins’ chief claim to fame to election watchers at large is that he launched but shortly withdrew a legal action against Eric Abetz’s Senate election in 2010, claiming that he was ineligible by virtue of having failed to renounce his German citizenship. He has resolved if elected to serve only one term.

Tasmanian upper house elections live

Figures at close of counting on polling day.

RUMNEY

#
%
Swing
Proj.
Lin Thorp
5718
33.3%
-14.2%
*
Tony Mulder
4783
27.9%
Paul Mason
2554
14.9%
Penelope Ann
2299
13.4%
2.1%
14.3%
Others
1808
10.5%
Booths counted (/22)
22

DERWENT

#
%
Swing
Proj.
Craig Farrell
6558
39.1%
-12.3%
39.3%
Jenny Branch
3341
19.9%
-13.4%
20.1%
Phillip Bingley
1684
10.0%
-5.3%
9.6%
Deirdre Flint
2460
14.7%
Ray Williams
2723
16.2%
Booths counted (/27)
27

LAUNCESTON

#
%
Rosemary Armitage
5310 31.8%
Steve Bishop
3310 19.8%
Lou Clark
2395 14.3%
Sam McQuestin
5679 34.0%

Sunday, May 8

9pm. The two-candidate preferred figures make it very clear Tony Mulder will defeat Lin Thorp in Rumney: he leads 10,607 to 9343.

5pm. Adam Clarke in comment reports the indicative count in Rumney has Tony Mulder ahead of Lin Thorp by 500 votes: if confirmed, that would pretty much put the issue beyond doubt. Thorp has lost further ground on the primary vote with the addition of 595 pre-polls and 317 postals. The latter is also true of Labor’s Craig Farrell in Derwent, but with 38.6 per cent of the primary vote he should still get up. Sue Neales of The Mercury suggests the Greens might use the opportunity of a reshuffle forced by Thorp’s defeat to push for a third seat in cabinet.

Saturday, May 7

7.54pm. All booths have now reported, so here’s a call of the board. Rumney: My projection still has Lin Thorp a few points above her raw vote, suggesting she did very well on declaration votes last time (UPDATE: No, the discrepancy is because I’m operating off a pre-redistribution baseline. For this reason, I’ve chopped the projection from the table). It’s possible that won’t be replicated at this election, so she could well finish in the mid-30s. Kevin Bonham seems to think that will be enough, but you certainly wouldn’t want to call it. Derwent: Labor’s Craig Farrell is a shade under 40 per cent, which is enough to make him the front-runner but again it’s too close to call. Possibly some intelligence from scutineers will emerge to give us some sense of what to expect. Launceston: Sam McQuestin’s primary vote lead over Rosemary Armitage simply won’t be enough to hold off preferences from anti-Liberal Labor voters and anti-major party indepedendents, such that Armitage’s win here is the one projection I’m entirely confident about.

7.41pm. Two booths left to come in Rumney, including Labor’s best booth of Rokeby. My projection tells me that Lin Thorp will perhaps edge into favouritism once it’s reported. All booths in now from Launceston; one outstanding in Derwent.

7.33pm. Only two booths left to report in Derwent: Craig Farrell’s vote is back above 40 per cent, which is the litmus test for Labor’s secure hold on the seat.

7.27pm. Sam McQuestin’s primary vote lead has widened in Launceston, but not by enough.

7.26pm. With 21 booths in, Craig Farrell’s primary vote had dipped slightly below 40 per cent again, but he’s probably done enough.

7.22pm. Sixteen booths now from Rumney and Lin Thorp’s position has improved. However, much still depends on the imponderables of preferences, such that it probably won’t be possible to call this one this evening.

7.18pm. Rosemary Armitage has now almost caught up with Sam McQuestin on the primary vote in Launceston, and is well and truly home and hosed.

7.12pm. Sixteen booths in from Rumney, and Craig Farrell will be breathing easier now his primary vote has cracked 40 per cent.

7.09pm. Eleven booths now from Launceston cause little change to the situation: I’m still calling it for Rosemary Armitage.

7.06pm. With 12 booths in from Rumney, the situation has stopped improving for Lin Thorp, who will need a very strong flow of Greens preferences to hold off Tony Mulder.

6.58pm. A good result in the Roseneath booth improves Labor candidate Craig Farrell’s position in Derwent, such that I’d now say he’s the favourite. The raw figures still aren’t good, but the good Labor booths to come should push him up near 40 per cent, which will likely be enough.

6.56pm. Nine booths in from Launceston and Rosemary Armitage’s position continues to improve, such that I’m ready to call it for her. She is only just short of the Liberal candidate on the primary vote, and without question will close the gap on preferences.

6.54pm. The count continues to proceed so quickly it’s making my head spin. Twelve booths now in from Derwent, and while the raw figures look lethal for Labor, many of their best booths are yet to report. It will come down to the tightness of preferences and the number of exhausted votes (voters only have to number three boxes). Flint and Williams now neck and neck for second.

6.52pm. Seven booths now from Rumney (fastest count ever!), and while Lin Thorp is struggling, the situation is less bad for her than the initial figures suggested. A solid flow of preferences from the Greens could save her, but she’s not out of the woods. As anticipated, Tony Mulder is the biggest danger to her.

6.49pm. Five booths in from Launceston, and the gap between Armitage and McQuestin has narrowed – the former now looking extremely well placed.

6.47pm. The count proceeds at a rapid clip: now seven booths in from Derwent, and I think you can about say Labor have lost the seat. Their candidate is slightly behind independent Deirdre Flint, who will surely pull further ahead on preferences. Another independent, Ray Williams, possibly can’t be written off yet.

6.43pm. Three booths in from Launceston, and while Liberal candidate Sam McQuestin leads my early sense is that independent Rosemary Armitage would be likely to chase him down on preferences.

6.40pm. Three booths in from Derwent, and here too the Labor vote has slumped well into the danger zone. Ray Williams is the front-runner out of the other candidates.

6.37pm. The Saltwater River booth in Rumney has reported, and while it’s a small booth, it’s very interesting to note the Labor vote there has collapsed from 79.4 per cent in 2005 to 40.2 per cent.

6.00pm. Polls have closed for today’s elections for the Tasmanian upper house divisions of Rumney, Derwent and Launceston. We should probably be seeing the first results in about 45 minutes.