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
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
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

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

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.

Periodical tables

May being almost upon us, a hardcore psephologist’s thoughts turn to the curious spectacle of a Tasmanian periodical upper house election. Mainlanders who know of the Tasmanian Legislative Council’s existence usually note it for its historical conservatism and preponderance of independents, but few are aware of its unusual manner of election. Just as Tasmania bucks the national trend with a lower house elected by proportional representation, so it inverts normal practice with an upper house composed of 15 single-member electorates. Elections for these seats are held over a staggered six-year cycle, with two or three up for election on the first Saturday of each May. The Liberals do not contest these elections, having determined they are best served by the traditional dominance of conservative independents (not least because they are usually in opposition). Labor until recently held five seats, all located in and around Hobart. That fell to four in late March when Elwick MLC Terry Martin was expelled from the parliamentary party after crossing the floor to vote against the government’s contentious fast-tracking of the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.

Each year the Poll Bludger conducts an audit of the various members’ voting behaviour in parliamentary divisions, of which there have been only eight in the past year.

. 2006-07 2002-06 expiry
Sue Smith (Montgomery) 1/8 (12%) 18/50 (36%) 2013
Greg Hall (Rowallan) 5/8 (62%) 22/56 (39%) 2012
Don Wing (Paterson) 0/0 (-) 2/14 (14%) 2011
Ruth Forrest (Murchison) 3/8 (38%) 5/8 (62%) 2011
Tanya Rattray-Wagner (Apsley) 3/8 (38%) 8/19 (42%) 2010
Terry Martin (Elwick) 0/1 (0%) 2010
Norma Jamieson (Mersey) 1/8 (12%) 7/28 (25%) 2009
Ivan Dean (Windermere) 3/8 (38%) 10/31 (32%) 2009
Kerry Finch (Rosevears) 4/8 (50%) 18/37 (49%) 2008
Paul Harriss (Huon) 3/8 (38%) 7/56 (12%) 2008
Jim Wilkinson (Nelson) 2/8 (25%) 23/51 (45%) 2007
Tony Fletcher (Murchison) 6/48 (12%) 2005
Colin Rattray (Apsley) 19/36 (53%) 2004

Note that no votes have been recorded for Don Wing since he became President of the Legislative Council in 2002; the only vote recorded for Terry Martin is the one that led to expulsion. This was the only floor-crossing incident in the period in question.

Three seats fall vacant this year, two held by independents (Sue Smith and Jim Wilkinson, respectively members for Montgomery and Nelson) and one by Labor (Pembroke, held by Allison Ritchie). The first two hardly warrant comment – in Montgomery (covering eastern Burnie and beyond), Sue Smith (left) will continue her 10-year career after being elected unopposed. In the southern Hobart seat of Nelson, Jim Wilkinson (right), a member since 1995, is not likely to be troubled by his sole opponent, Greens candidate Tom Nilsson. However, Pembroke looms as a potentially intriguing contest, with Ritchie defending a narrow margin as a member of an increasingly unpopular government – although Kevin Bonham of the Tasmanian Times does not believe any of her opponents look the goods. Pembroke covers most of the urban area on the Derwent River’s eastern shore, from Risdon Vale south through Lindisfarne and Bellerive to Tranmere. The following table shows the results from the previous two elections in Pembroke along with those for the equivalent booths at the last state and federal elections. The Liberal column has been used to accommodate the previous independent member, Cathy Edwards; no connection between the two is implied.

2006 STATE 48.5 33.4 16.0 2.2
2004 FEDERAL 49.0 39.4 8.3 3.2 57.4
2001 PERIODICAL 53.8 46.2 53.8
1999 BY-ELECTION 35.6 41.6* 22.8 46.2

The candidates are as follows:

Allison Ritchie (Labor). Ritchie scored a significant victory for Labor when she won the seat in 2001 at the age of 26, successfully campaigning against sitting independent Cathy Edwards’ dual role as mayor of Clarence. Until 1999, Pembroke had been the only upper house seat with a formal Liberal member; Peter McKay officially joined the party in 1991 after holding the seat as an independent from 1976 (when he succeeded his deceased father, Ben McKay, member since 1959). Ritchie is now convenor of the Left faction, and was said by Sue Neales of the Hobart Mercury to have been “openly excited” at the prospect of Bryan Green becoming the faction’s first Premier, prior to his political demise last July. Sue Neales reported in May last year that Paul Lennon was “making it plain for all to hear” that he wished for Ritchie to enter federal politics, “most likely so he could ensure her replacement in the state’s Upper House came from his own Centre Left faction”. It was widely thought that Ritchie might succeed the retiring Harry Quick in the federal seat of Franklin, a fiefdom of the Left, but she said she was not interested for family reasons. Ritchie has landed something of a coup by winning endorsement from Doug Chipman, Clarence councillor and former Liberal state president, who has appeared in her campaign material describing her as the “best candidate”.

Marti Zucco. Perhaps the best known of Ritchie’s challengers, Marti Zucco ran in last year’s periodical election for Wellington on the other side of the water (polling 14.4 per cent), despite living in Pembroke. Shortly before that election, Kevin Bonham had this to say about Zucco’s electoral record:

Marti Zucco, longstanding Hobart City Council alderman, had a rather strong tilt at the old (upper house) seat of Newdegate in 1993, where he polled 25% to run third out of four behind incumbent Ross Ginn and Labor’s Mel Cooper on around 33% each. (Cooper actually just outpolled Ginn but lost on preferences). However, HCC results over the years suggest that Zucco’s best vote-gathering days are behind him. In 1996 he polled 11% of the HCC aldermanic vote; by 2006 this was down to 7.1%. Also, Zucco (probably because of the way he polarises the electorate) always attracts fewer preferences than his primary vote levels indicate. I’ll be surprised if Zucco’s vote is anything much over 15% this time, but at least he might provide some entertainment for the spectators if his opening attacks on Parkinson are anything to go by.

Interestingly, Zucco had a run-in last year with John White, who complained to the Anti-Discrimination Commission on behalf of the Italian community (of which he is a figurehead, his name belying his ethnic origin) when Zucco used the word “mafia” to characterise opponents of coffee roasting at a Hobart cafe. White, who had earlier been a Denison MP and Health Minister in Michael Field’s minority government, was at the centre of the government dealings that led to Bryan Green’s downfall.

Neil Smith (Greens). Smith is a “self-employed electronics engineering consultant” and anti-logging campaigner. His previous run for office was as a lower house candidate for Lyons in 1998, when he polled only 138 votes (the Greens vote being dominated by future Senator Christine Milne, who nonetheless lost her seat).

David Jackson. A factory manager, Jackson was a Clarence alderman in 2004 and 2005, being elected on a recount after a sitting alderman retired. Kevin Bonham notes that Jackson’s electoral record has been less than spectacular: “Jackson has most recently run for Clarence in 2002 (last of 13 with just 289 votes), 2005 (15th of 19 with 293 votes) and Pembroke in 1999 (a remarkably poor 3.3% in a field of just five)”.

Richard James. A Clarence alderman and Lindisfarne accountant, Kevin Bonham summarises James’s electoral record thus (bearing in mind that the aldermanic votes are from fields of 13 and 11 candidates):

James has run in so many elections (variously as a Liberal, Democrat or independent) that it would take several pages to attempt to list them all. He ran for this seat in 1989 (polling 30.5% out of four candidates), 1995 (32.6% of 3), and 1999 (13.26% of 5) but not in 2001. In the 2002 Clarence aldermanic election he polled 9.8%, a significant drop from the 12.8% he polled in 1999, when he was second elected. Running for Deputy Mayor of Clarence in 2005 he polled 29.63% (of 4) and was narrowly defeated by ex-Liberal MHA Martin McManus on preferences.

John Peers. Another Clarence alderman, Peers was elected with 6.9 per cent of the vote in 1999 and re-elected with 6.7 per cent in 2002. He ran unsuccessfully for deputy mayor in 2005, polling 22.4 per cent from a field of four candidates.

Rowallan and Wellington live

WELLINGTON Primary Swing 2PP Swing
LABOR 43.2 -3.4 60.4 0.9
GREENS 26.1 -1.6 39.6 -0.9
Marti Zucco 14.4
Christian Democratic 5.3
Paul Hiscutt 8.1
Stephen Roomes 2.8 73% COUNTED

Sunday 4.00pm. The table has been amended to factor in late results and new intelligence on preference flows (thanks Kevin), and also to correct a calculation error that was inflating Labor’s vote after preferences.

7.38pm. Not sure if they do notional preference counts on election night – I could forgive them if they didn’t. In any case, we’re unlikely to get much more action tonight.

7.33pm. Creek Road, the last booth other than Launceston, has strengthened Parkinson still further in what looks pretty much like a status quo result.

7.29pm. All booths in from Rowallan, Hall is still on 82.3 per cent. Only waiting on Creek Road and the Launceston booth for primary votes in Wellington. Still no two-party preferred count.

7.25pm. A bunch of larger booths plus pre-polls are now in from Wellington. The primary vote swing against Labor has eased a little, such that I think we can safely call it for Doug Parkinson.

7.15pm. 74.0 per cent counted in Rowallan, Hall down ever so slightly to 82.3 per cent.

7.11pm. Preferences amended. I’ve now got 50 per cent of independents’ preferences going to the Greens and 30 per cent to Labor, the other way around for CDP, with the remainder exhausting.

7.10pm. A big flurry of booths in from Wellington, but the existing score hasn’t changed much. Labor are down about 5 per cent and the Greens are more or less steady. My arbitrary estimates showed Labor doing better on preferences than last time. I think I might amend that.

7.02pm. 60.8 per cent counted in Rowallan – possibly the quickest count I have seen, indicative of how this district is dominated by small towns. Little change in the figures: 82.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent.

6.54pm. 54.4 per cent now counted in Rowallan, Hall on 82.2 per cent, Greens on 17.8 per cent.

6.51pm. Six booths in for Wellington. My 5.0 per cent swing to Labor is based on pretty arbitrary preference calculations that probably flatter Labor. For the time being it might be safest just to trust the primary figures, which suggest Labor are losing votes to independents.

6.39pm. Oh dear – a sudden blurt of booth results for Rowallan after a quiet period. Hope it’s not like that for Wellington, of which there is still no word. 22.4 per cent counted in Rowallan, Hall leads 82.1 per cent to 17.9 per cent.

6.23pm. Those small town booths in northern Tasmania are coming in at a rapid clip. Seven booths now in, Hall leading Cassidy 685 to 130.

6.22pm. There are actually three booths in already from Rowallan, which is pretty impressive. Greg Hall leads the Greens 166 votes to 47.

6.20pm. All eyes are on Tasmania this evening as the events that have captured the nation’s imagination over the past two weeks build towards an emotional climax. That’s right folks, it’s the annual periodic elections for the Tasmanian Legislative Council. Since the seat of Rowallan looms as a certain victory for independent Greg Hall (his sole opponent is the Greens’ Karen Cassidy), the focus of attention here will be on Wellington, where it is at least theoretically possible that Greens candidate Marrette Corby or independent Hobart City Council alderman Marti Zucco could pull off an upset. Hopefully the booth arrangements haven’t changed too much since the last poll in 2000, and the calculations in place for the above table will prove of some use. Otherwise I will get rid of it and focus on off-the-cuff commentary. The Greens need a swing of 9.5 per cent to win the seat; if Zucco does better than expected and outpolls them, my table will not be of much use. First figures should be in around 6.40pm.