Morgan: 57-43

The latest Roy Morgan face-to-face poll has Labor’s two-party lead at 57-43, down from 58-42 a fortnight ago. On the primary vote, Labor is down 0.5 per cent to 48.5 per cent, the Coalition is up 2 per cent to 38 per cent and the Greens are down 1 per cent to 7 per cent.

In other news, it’s all happening in Victoria:

• Peter Costello’s surprise announcement that he will not contest the next election has raised the flag on another epic Victorian Liberal preselection stoush in his Melbourne seat of Higgins, which housed successive Liberal prime ministers in Harold Holt and John Gorton. Furthermore, Costello has raised the possibility of an early departure and a by-election, “if it’s in the party’s interest”. Immediately prior to Costello’s announcement, Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam signalled his intention to run if Costello stood aside, after earlier testing the waters in Kooyong (see below). However, Peter van Onselen in The Australian reports that Costello has resolved to oppose Roskam due to equivocal comments he made to David Penberthy of The Punch about Costello’s future value in politics. Van Onselen further reports widespread displeasure at this and other remarks seen to be in breach of Liberal rules that preselection aspirations are not to be discussed with the media. Costello reportedly wishes for the seat to go to a former staffer, Kelly O’Dwyer. It had earlier been reported that O’Dwyer might depose incumbent Ted Baillieu loyalist Andrew McIntosh in the state seat of Kew. The other big name in the Higgins mix is Mal Brough, who has moved to Melbourne and is said to be hopeful of a return to politics that doesn’t involve further dirtying his hands in the morass of the Queensland Liberal National Party. However, Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports party sources say he has “no chance”. Also mentioned are former state party director Julian Sheezel, who was said to be backed by Costello but opposed by Michael Kroger when talk of Costello’s departure was in the air after the election, Jason Aldworth, a former banking colleague of Michael Kroger and more recently a consultant for Crosby Textor; and, intriguingly, Tom Elliott, hedge fund manager and son of John, who memorably sought to depose Roger Shipton as member for this very seat in pursuit of his prime ministerial ambitions.

• Merchant banker Josh Frydenberg has won the hotly contested preselection to succeed Petro Georgiou as the Liberal candidate for Kooyong. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews reports that Frydenberg won the second round ballot over industrial relations lawyer John Pesutto by 283 votes to 239 after all other contenders were excluded in the first round. The result is a defeat for Ted Baillieu, whose power base had pursued various stratagems designed to thwart Frydenberg, the preferred candidate of the rival Kroger faction.

• The ALP national executive’s role in Victorian state preselections has been further expanded following John Brumby’s decision to refer to the body all state upper house preselections for next year’s election. Labor insiders quoted by David Rood of The Age relate that the decision will “all but end” the career of Theo Theophanous, who faces a vigorously contested rape charge and was recently among those named adversely in the state Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank City Council. This week the national executive acted as expected in relation to a number of lower house preselections referred to it in the wake of the latter imbroglio, selecting former Trades Hall Council deputy secretary (and wife of New South Wales Senator Steve Hutchins) Natalie Sykes-Hutchins to replace George Seitz in Keilor and confirming incumbents Telmo Languiller, Rob Hulls, Marsha Thomson and Marlene Kairouz in Derrimut, Niddrie, Footscray and Kororoit. It has also been confirmed that Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden will seek to move to the lower house by nominating for preselection in Essendon, to be vacated by the retiring Judy Maddigan. In his absence, the national executive has chosen incumbents Martin Pakula, Khalil Eideh and Bob Smith to head the ticket in Western Metropolitan (Smith currently represents South-Eastern Metropolitan).

• Helen Shardey, Victorian Shadow Health Minister and member for Caulfield, has indicated she will stand down at the next election. It had been reported she faced a preselection challenge from David Southwick, previously unsuccessful in the federal seat of Melbourne Ports in 2004 and for the state upper house Southern Metropolitan in 2006.

Andrew Landeryou at VexNews reports that former Liberal MP Phil Barresi, whom he describes as a “factionally unenthusiastic Krogerite”, has been given the green light to attempt to recover the seat of Deakin which he held from 1996 until his defeat in 2007. Barresi reportedly won on the first round over eccentric perennial Ken Aldred, who was dumped in favour of Barresi in 1996 after peddling weird conspiracy theories, and one Deanna Ryall. Perhaps Barresi is encouraged by the precedent of 1984, when the Liberals unexpectedly recovered the seat (with some help from a redistribution) after losing it when the Hawke government was elected in 1983.

Elsewhere:

Glenn Milne in The Australian reports on the Labor succession in the federal seat of Macquarie, which will be vacated at the next election by Bob Debus. As Milne tells it, Debus or his supporters put it about that his recent decision to withdraw from the ministry and bow out at the next election, which helped the Prime Minister no end as he sought to construct a new cabinet in the wake of Joel Fitzgibbon’s resignation, was conditional upon Debus being given the right to anoint his own successor. This was hotly disputed by Right powerbrokers who are bitterly opposed to Debus’s objective of freezing out industrial barrister Adam Searle, a Left faction colleague but personal rival.

• Two new goodies from Antony Green. An extensive paper for the New South Wales Parliamentary Library provides all manner of detail on the state’s Legislative Council election in 2007, while an accompanying blog post scrutinises the performance of the optional preferential above-the-line voting system introduced after the 1999 election produced a tablecloth-sized ballot paper and elected candidates from groupings that would be flattered by the “micro-party” designation. He further discusses the potential for such a system to resolve the issues which saw Steve Fielding elected to the Senate in 2004. For the more casual election enthusiast, a new 2010federal election calculator allows you set the two-party result to taste to find out the seat outcome in the event of a uniform swing. It turns out a 50-50 result would give the Coalition exactly half the seats and presumably allow it to govern with support of the three independents. Labor loses its majority at 50.8 per cent.

• Queensland independent MP Peter Wellington has introduced a private member’s bill providing for fixed three-year terms, with an escape clause if a new government cannot be formed in the wake of no-confidence motion and a provision allowing for a five-week postponement if there is a clash with a federal election or a “widespread natural disaster”. The major parties both support fixed four-year terms, which unlike Wellington’s proposal would require a referendum. Negotiations for such a referendum broke down last year when then Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg insisted on further unrelated reforms, but his successor John-Paul Langbroek has foreshadowed a more “flexible” approach in future discussions with the government.

Christian Kerr of The Australian evaluates the Australian political blogosphere.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rebecca in comments for bringing my attention to the fact that Allison Ritchie, Labor member for the Tasmanian Legislative Council district of Pembroke, yesterday announced she would quit parliament after enduring a storm of controversy over her appointment of family members on her staff. This will presumably result in a by-election shortly in Pembroke, where Ritchie defeated an independent incumbent in 2001 and won re-election in 2007. The Electoral Act allows the government enormous latitude on the timing of such a by-election, so I’ll hold off on giving it its own post until its intentions become clearer. Ritchie claims to have been the victim of a plot from within her own party, which presumably explains why she has decided to go now rather than wait for the more convenient juncture of early next year, when a by-election could be held with the state election in March or the annual periodical upper house elections in May.

Tasmanian Legislative Council elections live

NOTE: Results below were not updated beyond the day after the election. Official results are available from the Tasmanian Electoral Commission.

WINDERMERE VOTES % SWING PROJECTED
Dean* 7015 39.2% -11.2% 39.0%
Hay 4788 26.9%
Kaye 1750 9.8%
Sands 1433 7.9%
Whish-Wilson (GRN) 2904 16.3%
.
MERSEY
Gaffney 8344 42.9%
Jamieson 2590 13.3%
Laycock 3140 16.1%
Martin 5389 27.7%
.
DERWENT
Aird (ALP)* 9746 51.6% -25.9% 51.4%
Branch 6328 33.5%
Gunter (GRN) 2811 14.9%

Sunday

5.30pm. The last exclusion in Windermere shows Ivan Dean will be elected over Kathryn Hay by about 55-45. Whish-Wilson’s votes went 2,229 to Hay and 1,545 to Dean with 191 exhausting, leaving Dean on 9,743 (55.05 per cent) and Hay on 7,956 (44.95 per cent). While there will still be late counting of postals and the rest and a formal distribution of preferences at a later time, that wraps up the Poll Bludger’s coverage. Once again, congratulations to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission for promptly resolving the outcome and keeping the public informed of all aspects of the count’s progress, from which a couple of larger and presumably better funded bodies on the mainland could learn a thing or two.

5.15pm. The final exclusion in Mersey elects Mike Gaffney over Steve Martin with a two-candidate split of 11,676 (59.99 per cent) to 7,784 (40.01 per cent).

4.30pm. Now Kaye’s 2087 votes have been distributed in Windermere, going 836 to Dean, 647 to Hay and 604 to Whish-Wilson. Next up, the big one – 3965 votes to be distributed from Whish-Wilson, including 2904 of his own, 457 received as preferences from Sands and the 604 from Kaye. Hay needs to close a gap of 2473 votes, remembering that voters need only need number three preferences so some votes will start to exhaust at this point.

4pm. Another round of applause is due to the TEC for providing progressive updates on its provisional preference distribution. In Windermere, last-placed Ted Sands’ preferences have gone 457 to Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson, 347 to Ivan Dean, 337 to Peter John Kaye and 292 to Kathryn Hay. Rechecking has also given Dean a handy boost, docking 101 votes from Hay’s tally at the George Town booth. Hay now needs to make up a 2282-vote gap from the exclusion of Whish-Wilson (3361) and Kaye (2087). In Mersey, the elimination of last-placed Caroylnn Jamieson has sent 1107 votes to Gaffney, 828 to Martin and 636 to Laycock, so Gaffney needs fewer than 300 preferences from Laycock’s total of 3723 to defeat Martin. In other words, the only issue is the size of his margin. In Derwent, Kevin Bonham in comments corrects my earlier statement that there was no Greens candidate in 2003 – party affiliation was not listed at the time, but the one candidate who opposed Michael Aird ran under the party banner.

1am. A Tasmanian Electoral Commission media release informs us that a “provisional distribution of preferences” will be conducted today in Windermere and Mersey. Props are due to the TEC for this, and also for their counting of pre-polls and postals on election night.

Windermere. Kathryn Hay needs two-thirds of the minor candidates’ preferences in the context of a system which only requires voters to number three boxes (out of five in this case). I expected that Ivan Dean would win reasonably comfortably, and have emerged from the count duly impressed by the vote-pulling power of Kathryn Hay, whom Labor would do well to pursue if they’re not already. Antony Green: “It’s worth noting that Ivan dean’s vote held up in George Town, near the site of the proposed Gunns Mill, but was down between 10 and 20% through the rest of the electorate.”

Mersey. The only issue at stake here is the size of Mike Gaffney’s margin. I had tended to think Gaffney would suffer from his association with Labor, owing to past indications outside of Hobart of antipathy towards major party influence in the chamber, and the advancing years of the government. The success of a candidate who has been openly contemplating a ministerial position with the government might have been heartening news to Labor …

Derwent. … if it weren’t for the 26 per cent drop in Michael Aird’s vote, which can only be partly explained by the entry of the Greens (who have polled 15 per cent). Antony Green: “If you compare tonight’s result with the 2006 state election within Derwent, Labor has polled 51.6% compared to 64.8% in the Derwent booths, the Greens 14.9% compared to 10.3% in 2006, and Jenny Branch has polled 33.5% where the Liberal Party polled 22.9% in 2006.”

Saturday

7.58pm. Some pre-polls added for Mersey and postals for Windermere (good work by the Electoral Commission getting on to this on election night, and for what seems a well conducted count all round). The latter have gone 45 per cent to Ivan Dean, giving him a slight boost.

7.53pm. The last remaining booth, Newnham in Windermere, has reported a par for the course result. Ivan Dean’s career in politics depends on the flow of preferences from the Greens and two independents to Kathryn Hay.

7.51pm. All booths now in from Mersey – Gaffney’s vote has fallen a little further, but he’ll still win.

7.47pm … but Valley Road pulls him back again. Only Addison Street and Turners Beach to come.

7.44pm. Gaffney gains a further 0.5 per cent in Mersey from the large Devonport Central and Spreyton booths.

7.41pm. Kevin Bonham on Windermere preferences: “In Windermere just Newnham and postal to come, and Dean leading by nearly 11% on primaries. On the current figures, assuming Kaye’s preferences break evenly, Hay will need 73% of Sands and Whish-Wilson’s prefs to beat Dean assuming zero exhaust. But a few percent do exhaust and if enough anti-mill voters refuse to preference either Hay or Dean the exhaust % could be higher. At the moment Dean should survive, unless the Kaye prefs break against him as well.”

7.35pm. All booths now in from Derwent.

7.31pm. More booths in from Windermere, leaving only Newnham to come. Ivan Dean still looking shaky against Kathryn Hay.

7.27pm. Three more booths from Derwent, leaving just Austins Ferry and Bridgewater to come.

7.21pm. What’s more, the swing against Ivan Dean has picked up with the addition of further booths.

7.18pm. Despite what I’ve been saying, Kevin Bonham in comments reckons Ivan Dean is “not safe” as Hay will get Greens preferences. I tend to assume preferences in these elections scatter around a bit more than that, but local issues might mean that doesn’t apply here.

7.16pm. Four more booths added from Mersey.

7.14pm. 448 pre-polls and 1083 postals added for Derwent.

7.10pm. Most Derwent booths now in, Aird continuing to hover around 50 per cent.

7.09pm. Four more Windermere booths consistent with the overall trend.

7.07pm. Three more booths from Mersey suggest Mike Gaffney should win quite comfortably unless something unusual happens with preferences.

7.01pm. Three more booths from Windermere. Kevin Bonham in comments noted that the Norfolk booth which reported first was a good booth for the Liberals, but these have maintained the trend of an 8 per cent dip in Ivan Dean’s vote which should not be enough to trouble him.

6.55pm. Three more booths from Derwent maintain the overall trend.

6.53pm. Four booths, mobile and Hobart in from Mersey, and Mike Gaffney’s looking very good.

6.49pm. Seven new booths from Derwent. Looking very much like Aird will have to rely on Greens preferences, which he would have to rate as a disappointing result.

6.48pm. Changed the way I calcuate the swing and projection to correct for that.

6.44pm. Mobile votes in from Windermere as well – they dampen the swing shown (and boost the projection) because Ivan Dean is coming off a base of zero.

6.42pm. First results from Windermere are from Hobart and the substantial Norwood both – Ivan Dean down by 8 per cent, but looking good to retain the seat.

6.40pm. I should stress that the big booths at Bridgewater, Brighton, Claremont and Norfolk get 10 times as many votes as these ones, and they might tell a different story.

6.39pm. Kevin Bonham in comments notes these booths are showing the Greens vote much higher than at the state election. Fremantle home against West Coast.

6.33pm. Westerway in as well, and Aird’s vote there is down 36.4 per cent – if this keeps up he might have to rely on Greens preferences. Perhaps the trend showing to date is something to do with small booths beyond the orbit of Hobart.

6.31pm. Maydena booth reporting – Aird down 24.5 per cent there as well (remembering he polled 77.3 per cent overall last time).

6.30pm. Explanatory note: my “projection” is a projected primary vote, calculated by applying the swing shown on reporting booths with the total result in 2003. Obviously this is only being done with the incumbents.

6.28pm. Very big swings against Aird in both places, as should be expected against stronger competition, but not enough to suggest trouble.

6.27pm. Two small booths added for Derwent – Bronte and the booth in Hobart city – so the table’s looking good again.

6.25pm. 48 “mobile” votes added for Derwent. Since there was no such count in 2003, the “swing” currently shown for Aird is off a base of zero. Best ignore my “projection” for now! (It adds the booth swing to his total 2003 vote).

6pm. Polls have closed in the elections for the Tasmanian state upper house seats of Windermere, Mersey and Derwent. This post will provide live coverage, with first results due in in about half an hour. Further coverage from Antony Green at ABC Elections.

Tasmanian upper house elections: May 2

Friday, April 24

Legislative Council maps available for enjoyment courtesy of Adam Carr and Ben Raue. You can also access ABC Local Radio forums with the candidates for each of the three divisions from ABC Elections.

Tuesday, April 21

On Saturday week, one fifth of Tasmanian voters go to the polls – or at least, ought to go to the polls – to perform some reupholstering on the state’s 15-member Legislative Council. Members of said chamber are elected for six-year terms on a rotating basis, which sees either two or three of the single-member divisions face the voters each May. Of the 15 members, four are Labor and the remaining 11 are independent, including former Labor member Terry Martin. The Liberals have traditionally not fielded candidates, and were badly rebuffed when they did so in the early 2000s. This year is the turn of Derwent, held for Labor by Treasurer Michael Aird; Windermere, where independent Ivan Dean faces re-election; and Mersey, which is vacated by retiring independent Norma Jamieson. Further reading from Antony Green and Tasmanian Politics.

Windermere occupies interesting electoral real estate on 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. Ivan Dean, the member since 2003, has attracted a surprisingly large field of four challengers, who perhaps detected vulnerability when he failed to win re-election as Launceston mayor in 2007. Best known of these is Kathyrn Hay, a former Miss Australia who served a term in the lower house after being recruited by Labor. After surprisingly choosing to bow out in 2006, Hay is now running as an independent, and Peter Tucker of Tasmanian Politics reckons she “clearly has a chance”. Peter John Kaye is a former broadcaster and adviser to various federal ministers including Warwick Smith, and is presumably of Liberal sympathies. Ted Sands is a Launceston councillor who ran third in the mayoral election. Antony Green tells us he is “a former member of the Labor Party and nominated for Labor Party pre-selection in Bass ahead of the 2007 Federal election”. Also in the field is Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson, who not surprisingly is a “prominent anti-pulp mill campaigner”.

Mersey covers Devonport and its immediate surrounds. An open contest following the retirement of independent member Norma Jamieson, this has curiously failed to attract any more newcomers than Windermere. Lynn Laycock is well credentialled as mayor of Devonport, but she faces strong competition. Mike Gaffney is an interesting departure from the upper house norm. Since turning down an offer from David Bartlett of Labor preselection in Braddon, he has quit the party and decided to make his mark as an independent. However, Sue Neales of The Mercury reports he has “refused to rule out accepting a future ministerial position in a Labor government”, while Bartlett continues to describe him as a “good candidate”. How this will appear to voters who traditionally vote to defend the independence of the upper house remains to be seen. Carolynn Jamieson is the owner of local transport and metal fabrication businesses, a fluent Mandarin speaker and, significantly, the daughter of outgoing member Norma. A recent precedent for keeping it in the family was Tania Rattray-Wagner’s win in 2004 in Apsley, on the retirement of father Colin Rattray. Steve Martin is a Devonport restaurant owner and chairman of the Mersey Community Hospital group, who happily fesses up to work as “a part-time Electorate Officer for local Labor MPs”.

The great disappointment of this round of elections was former federal Labor MP Harry Quick’s abandonment of his plan to run against Treasurer Michael Aird in Derwent. The division extends from Hobart outskirts for about 100 kilometres through the Derwent Valley. Aird is opposed by independent Jenny Branch, a Glenorchy councillor and Liberal Party member said by Antony Green to be seeking preselection for Denison in 2010, and Susan Gunter for the Greens.

I am maintaining my yearly ritual of tallying independents’ voting in divisions, but as there have been only four this year there isn’t much to write home about. The table shows the proportion of divisions in which each member has voted with Labor. I have been dividing it into substantive and procedural votes since 2007. Note that Sue Smith has recently taken over the position of President from Don Wing, who had not recorded a vote since 2003.

. 2007-09
ALL
2007-09
SUB.
2002-07 expiry
Jim Wilkinson (Nelson) 3/11 1/9 25/59 (42%) 2014
Sue Smith (Montgomery) 8/11 6/8 19/58 (33%) 2013
Greg Hall (Rowallan) 8/12 7/10 27/64 (42%) 2012
Don Wing (Paterson) 0/4 0/4 2/14 (14%) 2011
Ruth Forrest (Murchison) 7/14 7/11 8/16 (50%) 2011
Tanya Rattray-Wagner (Apsley) 8/14 7/11 11/27 (41%) 2010
Terry Martin (Elwick) 3/13 3/11 0/1 (0%) 2010
Norma Jamieson (Mersey) 3/12 3/10 8/36 (22%) 2009
Ivan Dean (Windemere) 11/14 9/12 13/39 (33%) 2009
Kerry Finch (Rosevears) 6/14 6/12 22/45 (49%) 2008
Paul Harriss (Huon) 7/15 5/12 10/64 (16%) 2008
Tony Fletcher (Murchison) 6/48 (13%) 2005
Colin Rattray (Apsley) 19/36 (53%) 2004

Action-packed mid-week stop-gap thread

So much going on at the moment that it can’t wait for the next opinion poll post:

• Brendan Nelson’s announcement he will vacate his blue-ribbon northern Sydney seat of Bradfield at the next election could initiate another of the classic preselection clashes for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party has become justly famous in recent years. Party sources quoted by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian say the preselection will be “the most open and hotly contested since Bronwyn Bishop succeeded Jim Carlton in the neighbouring seat of Mackellar in 1994”, with no clear front-runner and neither Right or Left controlling the seat. However, it is also “understood party bigwigs are intent on avoiding a repeat of the preselection debacle in 2007 in the southern Sydney seat of Cook”. Salusinszky’s report floated the possibility of his paper’s conservative pundit Janet Albrechtsen taking the field, but she promptly ruled herself out. Live possibilities apparently include another connection with The Australian in Tom Switzer, former opinion page editor and staffer to Nelson; Arthur Sinodinos, John Howard’s legendary chief-of-staff; Nick Farr-Jones, former rugby union international; Julian Leeser, executive director of the Menzies Research Centre; Geoff Selig, former state party president; Alister Henskens, barrister and local party office-holder; David Elliott, former Australian Hotels Association deputy chief executive; Paul Blanch, a sheep farmer who ran in Calare in 2004; and, as always, Adrienne Ryan, former Ku-ring-gail mayor and ex-wife of former police commissioner Peter Ryan. The Sydney Morning Herald reports we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for a result:

A state executive meeting tomorrow is likely to discuss the timetable for the preselection race but because of a redistribution of seats in NSW, the final ballot will not be held until the end of the year. Because of that, most Liberal insiders believe the final candidate has yet to emerge.

• The Electoral Commissioner’s federal electoral determination has been published, confirming redistributions will need to occur to remove a seat from New South Wales and add one to Queensland. There seems to be some confusion abroard as to whether this scotches any chance of an election this year. As Antony Green explains, it is indeed the case that Queensland cannot be deprived of the seat which it is constitutionally entitled to at the next election now that the determination has been made, and it is indeed true that a redistribution process takes the better part of a year. However, the Electoral Act lays out a set of procedures for “mini-redistributions” in these circumstances, in which the two most or least heavily enrolled adjoining electorates in the state are either divided into three or merged into two. This has never happened before, and there would be obvious political difficulties in justifying an election held under such slapdash arrangements if it could possibly be avoided.

• Could Western Australia’s May 16 daylight saving referendum be the catalyst for a super Saturday of state by-elections? It certainly seems war clouds are gathering over the electorates of the two most powerful figures in the defeated Carpenter government: Jim McGinty, the member for Fremantle, and Alan Carpenter himself, who holds the neighbouring seat of Willagee (surely I have not so pleased the Lord that He would grant me neighbouring same-day by-elections in my own backyard?). According to Jenny D’Anger of the Fremantle Herald:

In the face of persistent rumours that veteran state Labor MP Jim McGinty is about to trigger a by-election for Fremantle by announcing his retirement, the Greens have called a war cabinet to talk tactics and anoint a candidate. It is all but certain they will choose South Fremantle’s Adele Carles, who came within a whisker of taking the seat at last year’s state election … Ms Carles says if the powerbroker is considering calling it quits he should do it so the by-election can coincide with the daylight saving referendum in May, saving thousands of dollars … The tom-toms have been beating for weeks that Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri was the shoe-in as Labor’s choice to replace Mr McGinty. But more recently a senior union figure has emerged as a front-runner, which a Labor insider says had Mr Tagliaferri threatening to run as an independent (Word around the campfire is that this refers to Dave Kelly, one of McGinty’s successors at the LHMWU – PB). The Herald’s Labor source said Alan Carpenter also had to be taken into account: If the former premier decides to quit politics the union figure may prefer Mr Carpenter’s safe Willagee seat, which is not threatened by the Greens. This would leave Fremantle open for Mr Tagliaferri. But both Mr McGinty and Mr Tagliaferri are denying a by-election is imminent. “It’s no more than rumour-mongering,” Mr McGinty barked down the phone, adding he stood by the Herald’s report last November that he had no plans to go early but was unlikely to run again in 2013.

• Killjoy Harry Quick has gone back on his threat to run against Treasurer Michael Aird as Greens candidate in the looming upper house election for Derwent. According to the ABC, Quick says “his family has played second fiddle to his political aspirations for too long”. An earlier report said he was “understood to be ready withdraw his nomination due to family pressure to stay true to the Labor Party”.

Essential Research: 61-39

Newspoll seems to have taken the week off, but there’s always Essential Research, which has Labor’s lead up to 61-39 from 60-40 last week. Also featured are questions on becoming a republic within the next few years (52 per cent support, 24 per cent oppose – the latter sounds a bit low), whether Australia should agree to allow Japan to conduct whaling if it limits its activities to the northern hemisphere (10 per cent agree, 81 per cent disagree), “how would you rate your loyalty to your employer” and “how would you rate your employer’s loyalty to staff”. Furthermore:

• The silly season endeth – Kerry O’Brien and Lateline are back, and parliaments federal, Victorian and South Australian resume today.

• The Australian Workers Union has released a comprehensive survey of workers’ attitudes to the global financial crisis, derived from 1016 interviews conducted by Auspoll. The headline finding is that 40 per cent fear losing their jobs in the next year.

• Parties’ disclosures of receipts, expenditure and debts are available for perusal at the Australian Electoral Commission, at least so far as donations of over $10,500 are concerned. Siobhain Ryan and Imre Salusinszky of The Australian and Bernard Keane of Crikey sift through the evidence; the latter also opens fire on the Coalition over its obstruction of legislation reversing the 2005 disclosure threshold hike. Keane notes that one travesty can’t be pinned on the previous government: that we have had to wait until February 2009 to find out what went on at an election held in November 2007. Anyone who imagines this has something to do with logistics should consider the practice in New York City, where donations have to be declared before election day and “made public immediately on a searchable, online database”.

• Antony Green returns from a fortnight in the wilderness (literally) with a belated post-mortem on the Liberals’ defeat in South Australia’s Frome by-election. As I suspected, independent Geoff Brock owes his win to a peculiarity of the state’s electoral system that saves ballot papers with incomplete preferences by assigning them the preferences officially lodged by their favoured candidate. Without this provision, 258 ballots that were thus admitted the day after polling day would have been informal, leaving Brock 38 votes behind Labor at the second last count rather than 30 votes ahead. Another issue has been brought to my attention by Kevin Bonham, who points to the fact that a certain number of Liberal voters harmed their candidate’s chances by voting Liberal rather than Labor. If 31 such voters had tactically switched to Labor, Brock would have been excluded and the distribution of his preferences would have given victory to Liberal candidate Terry Boylan. Public choice theorists call this flaw in preferential voting “non-monotonicity”, which is elaborated upon here (although Bonham reckons “some of their worked examples are wrong”).

• Antony also gets in early with a preview of Western Australia’s May 18 daylight saving referendum, which combines customary psephological insight with a keen eye for the state’s lifestyle peculiarities.

• Former Labor MLA Kathryn Hay will run as an independent for the Tasmanian upper house division of Windermere (extending from the outskirts of Launceston north to the proposed site of Gunns’ Bell Bay pulp mill), challenging independent incumbent Ivan Dean at the poll likely to be held on May 2. Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics reports that one of the the other two seats up for election, the Devonport-based division of Mersey, looms as a clash between Latrobe mayor Mike Gaffney and Devonport mayor Lyn Laycock. Mersey is being vacated by retiring independent Norma Jamieson.

• Staying in Tasmania, a recount has confirmed that the last remaining Labor candidate in Franklin from the 2006 election, Daniel Hulme, will assume the lower house seat vacated by former Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt.

• Mining magnate and former National Party director Clive Palmer is making himself visible as the Queensland state election approaches, having been profiled last week on The 7.30 Report and in a cover story for The Weekend Australian Magazine. The latest salvo in Palmer’s charm offensive is a demand of $1 million in damages for defamation from Anna Bligh, who said there was “something just not right about one billionaire owning their own political party” (the annual financial disclosures discussed previously list $600,000 in donations from Palmer to the Liberal and National parties). Sean Parnell’s Weekend Australian piece describes Palmer as a “notorious litigant”, who “once listed it as a hobby in his Who’s Who entry”. Palmer’s 18-year-old son Michael has been preselected as the Liberal National Party candidate for the safe Labor seat of Nudgee.

Rick Wallace of The Australian reports that Nationals-turned-Liberal Senator Julian McGauran will face a number of challengers in his bid for one of the two safe seats on the Victorian Senate ticket, with other incumbent Michael Ronaldson “widely expected to claim top spot”. The field includes prominent Peter Costello supporter Ross Fox, barrister Caroline Kenny and solicitor Cate Dealehr. Other names mentioned by Andrew Landeryou’s VexNews are Terry Barnes, a “former Tony Abbott adviser”, and Owen Lysaght, who ran as an independent in Chisholm in 2004.

Huon and Rosevears live

7.45pm. Final results for the night: Kerry Finch on 72.8 per cent, Paul Harriss on 62.0 per cent. Mark Rickards will lose a little on pre-polls and postals, but his 38.0 per cent is nonetheless an encouraging result for the Greens.

7.12pm. Twenty-two Huon booths now in; Rickards wins the Kettering booth 228-190, and is still on 38.4 per cent of the vote. Kerry Finch on 73.4 per cent in Rosevears with 11 of 15 booths in.

7.00pm. Seven out of 15 booths in from Rosevears: Colin O’Brien’s 26.8 per cent of the vote is a little higher than I would have expected.

6.57pm. Sixteen booths now in from Huon. Rickards might be disappointed by his 396-371 loss in Sandfly, but his vote is otherwise holding up at 38.2 per cent.

6.53pm. Kevin Bonham says in comments that the trend points to a Greens vote of about 36 per cent.

6.50pm. Nine booths in now from Huon (out of 27), and while Paul Harriss will clearly win, the Greens are doing well enough that the election is more interesting than I expected. Mark Rickards has easily won the Woodbridge booth 211-139, and has 39.8 per cent of the total vote. The Greens narrowly won Woodridge at the federal election.

6.46pm. Kevin Bonham offers more authoritative comments on the Huon figures than my own in comments. Note I was wrong two posts ago about the Middleton 2006 result: the Greens won Sandfly, Barnes Bay and Kettering at that election, but not Middleton.

6.45pm. Two booths in from Rosevears, Finch on 72.7 per cent.

6.42pm. Turns out the Greens outpolled the Liberals at Middleton at the federal election and and topped the poll there at the 2006 state election. According to Bonham and Tucker, “Green support in Huon is strongest around the D’Entrecasteux Channel”.

6.37pm. Four booths in from Huon, and without really knowing the terrain, it seems the Greens candidate is doing remarkably well. He’s won the Middleton booth 113 votes to 91, and had 37.2 per cent of the vote overall.

6.05pm. Round about now, polls are closing in today’s periodical Tasmanian upper house elections, where sitting independents Paul Harriss and Kerry Finch are certain to be re-elected in Huon and Rosevears respectively. Huon covers southern Tasmanian coastline south-west of Hobart; Rosevears includes the western suburbs of Launceston and extends north-west to the mouth of the Tamar River (the Tamar Valley pulp mill location of Bell Bay is on the opposite bank). Harriss once ran as a Liberal lower house candidate at the 1996 state election, and is generally considered to be unsympathetic to the government. He will face Greens candidate Mark Rickards, a former Royal Australian Navy officer and candidate for Franklin at the 2006 state election. Finch is most notable to the nation at large as one of four upper house independents who voted against the pulp mill. He faces a challenge from Colin O’Brien, an independent candidate of low profile. I will make a few observations about the results as they become available.

As I do every year, I have conducted a survey of the upper house independents’ voting record in parliament, this time taking the effort to conduct a separate count of votes that were substantive rather than procedural. The table below shows how often each voted with the four Labor members (five before Terry Martin quit last year); note that Don Wing doesn’t get to vote as he is Council President.

. 2007-08
ALL
2007-08
SUB.
2002-07 expiry
Jim Wilkinson (Nelson) 3/8 1/6 25/59 (42%) 2014
Sue Smith (Montgomery) 8/11 6/8 19/58 (33%) 2013
Greg Hall (Rowallan) 6/8 5/6 27/64 (42%) 2012
Don Wing (Paterson) 0/0 0/0 2/14 (14%) 2011
Ruth Forrest (Murchison) 5/11 5/8 8/16 (50%) 2011
Tanya Rattray-Wagner (Apsley) 5/10 4/7 11/27 (41%) 2010
Terry Martin (Elwick) 2/9 2/7 0/1 (0%) 2010
Norma Jamieson (Mersey) 3/9 3/7 8/36 (22%) 2009
Ivan Dean (Windemere) 10/10 8/8 13/39 (33%) 2009
Kerry Finch (Rosevears) 4/10 4/8 22/45 (49%) 2008
Paul Harriss (Huon) 6/11 4/8 10/64 (16%) 2008
Tony Fletcher (Murchison) 6/48 (13%) 2005
Colin Rattray (Apsley) 19/36 (53%) 2004

EMRS: 39-37 to Labor in Tasmania

Tasmanian pollster EMRS has published a survey of 853 committed voters on state voting intention, which shows Labor on 39 per cent (down 1 per cent from May 2007), the Liberals on 37 per cent (up 2 per cent) and the Greens on 22 per cent (up 1 per cent) (hat tip: Steve). Under the state’s Senate-like voting system, such a result would certainly see the Greens holding the balance of power, perhaps with as many as six of the 25 seats. The results in 2006 were 49.6 per cent, 31.9 per cent and 16.2 per cent; in 2002 they were 51.9 per cent, 27.4 per cent and 18.1 per cent. On both occasions the result was 14 seats to Labor, seven to the Liberals and four to the Greens.

On May 3 two independent members of the state’s 15-member upper house will face re-election under the chamber’s unusual system of annual rotating elections. They are Huon member Paul Harriss, a one-time Liberal candidate whose parliamentary votes go overwhelmingly against the government, and Rosevears member Kerry Finch, whose votes split about evenly. One suspects neither is in much trouble: one or both might even be re-elected unopposed, unless the Greens want to be a pain in the arse again. The numbers in the chamber at present are four Labor, one ex-Labor renegade, and ten mostly conservative independents. More from Peter Tucker and Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times.

UPDATE: Following yesterday’s close of nominations for the upper house elections, it has been revealed that two-horse races will proceed in both divisions. In Huon, Paul Harriss will face Greens candidate Mark Rickards, a former Royal Australian Navy officer and candidate for Franklin at the 2006 state election. Kerry Finch faces a challenge in Rosevears from independent Colin O’Brien, who would appear to be the proprietor of a bed and breakfast at Legana just outside of Launceston.

Pembroke and Nelson live

PEMBROKE # % 2CP
Allison Ritchie 7425 43.3 57.8
Richard James 3120 18.2 42.2
Neil Smith 2277 13.3 30.1
David Jackson 720 4.2 36.1
John Peers 1578 9.2 38.3
Marti Zucco 2047 11.9 34.8
COUNTED 87%

7.53pm. All booths in from Nelson; Wilkinson’s lead widened in late counting, to 10,019 to 6391.

7.50pm. The final booth from Pembroke, Bellerive, has taken a small amount of gloss of Allison Ritchie’s performance with a 17.8 per cent drop in the Labor primary vote.

7.37pm. Lindisfarne in; Labor primary vote down 15.8 per cent.

7.31pm. Four more Pembroke booths make for little change to the overall trend.

7.25pm. Big round of applause for the Tasmanian Electoral Commission. Booth results have been coming in one booth at a time; mainland commissions usually think it good enough to supply results in three or four spurts.

7.24pm. All but two booths in from Nelson; Wilkinson leads 6225 to 4658.

7.21pm. Montagu Bay and Wentworth Street now in; Labor primary vote respectively down 10.1 per cent and 17.8 per cent.

7.19pm. Good result for Labor at the very large Howrah booth, their primary vote down only 3.5 per cent. We can definitely call it for them now. Richard James still clear in second place; I have promoted him on the table.

7.14pm. The second substantial booth from Pembroke, Risdon Vale, is now in. Labor’s primary vote down a relatively mild 7.8 per cent. Independent Richard James looking the best-performing of the others.

7.11pm. Lots of booths now in from Nelson; Wilkinson’s lead of 5711 to 4096 is a bit narrower than I expected, but he’s still home and hosed.

7.10pm. Sixty-four votes in from the Hobart booth. For what it’s worth, Labor’s vote here is down 23.1 per cent from 2001.

7.08pm. Perhaps I spoke too soon with the no-boilover remark; Ritchie was down 10.1 per cent on the primary vote in Warrane. That’s still not enough to put her in real danger, but I should probably await a few more booths before calling it.

7.05pm. Also 199 votes from mobile booths.

7.03pm. The Warrane booth is in; only 6 per cent counted overall, but I think it’s already apparent we’re not looking at a boilover here.

7.01pm. Kevin Bonham notes in comments that the Agfest booth is comparable to the “Northern” booth in 2001, which I had written out of my equations. If so, Allison Ritchie is on track for a primary vote of 50 per cent – bearing in mind that this is from a tiny sample.

6.50pm. The first booth from Pembroke is the booth at Agfest; as there was no comparable booth in 2001, I do not have two-candidate calculations. Only 152 votes.

6.31pm. The first booth from Nelson, Sandfly, gives 47 votes to Wilkinson and 35 to Nilsson. I will move the Pembroke table to the top of the post when real figures come in – the ones there now are purely for test purposes.

5.30pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of today’s Tasmanian Legislative Council periodical elections for the seats of Pembroke and Nelson. Since Nelson is a foregone conclusion, independent incumbent Jim Wilkinson facing opposition only from Greens candidate Tom Nilsson, the focus of attention will be on Pembroke, where Labor’s Allison Ritchie faces at least a theoretical chance of defeat at the hands of either the Greens candidate, Neil Smith, or one of four independents: Marti Zucco, David Jackson, Richard James and John Peers. The accompanying table will show the primary vote in both numbers of votes and percentages, and an estimate of two-candidate preferred results based on comparison with equivalent booth results from 2001. These assume that preferences will split 57/33 in Labor’s favour if the Greens run second, or 33/55 if an independent runs second; a 10 per cent exhaustion rate is predicted, as voters are only compelled to fill three boxes. This is fairly arbitrary, and better informed readers (you there, Kevin?) are invited to suggest alternatives in comments. I will start with the assumption that the Greens will run second; two-candidate figures are also provided for the others in the event that I am wrong. If so, subtract the total from 100 to get the result for Labor. The first figures should be in at around 6.30pm – any figures you see before then will just be a test.