EMRS: Liberal 38, Labor 32, Greens 14 in Tasmania

A quarterly poll result finds support for the country’s last remaining Liberal government steadying after a solid drop last time.

The quarterly EMRS poll of state voting intention in Tasmania has the governing Liberals recovering two points after a six-point drop in the May poll, putting them at 38%. Labor is up two to 32% and the Greens are down one to 14%, with all others down two to 16%. The Liberals needed 50.3% to get to a majority of 13 seats in 2018 and 48.7% in 2021, although the calculus will be altered next time when each of the five divisions elects seven members rather than five. Jeremy Rockliff has recovered the lead as preferred premier at 42-39, after Rebecca White led 40-38 last time. The poll was conducted last Tuesday to Monday from a sample of 1000.

Notable developments since the May poll:

• Former Labor leader David O’Byrne confirmed earlier this month that he would again seek Labor preselection in Franklin, ensuring the continuation of a saga that began in 2021 when a former union staffer accused him of sexual harassment in incidents dating back to 2007 and 2008. This caused him to be dumped as leader after less than a month in the role and evicted from the parliamentary party. Rebecca White has since resisted his return, but he retains support in the Left and the matter of his preselection is in the hands of the national executive, which last year took over the state branch’s affairs for a period of three years. The matter could potentially be left to Anthony Albanese’s casting vote if the evenly balanced national executive divides on factional lines. Further complicating the matter is the presence on the executive of Michelle O’Byrne, David O’Byrne’s sister and Left faction colleague.

• Cassy O’Connor, former leader of the Greens’ two-member parliamentary contingent, has quit parliament ahead of a run for the Legislative Council seat of Hobart at the annual periodic elections next May, potentially giving the party a seat in the chamber for the first time. The leadership has passed to its only other member, Franklin MP Rosalie Woodruff, and O’Connor’s parliamentary vacancy in Clark has been filled by Vica Bayley, conservationist and adviser to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania. Bayley won a countback ahead of party colleague Bec Taylor by 5380 votes (53.6%) to 4649 (46.4%).

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reported last month that a bid for the state Liberal presidency by Clarence mayor Brendan Blomeley was part of a conservative influence-building campaign with ambitions including a seat in state parliament for former Senator Eric Abetz. However, he was defeated by Michael McKenna, director of chancery services and the archdiocesan master of ceremonies for the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart, who had the backing of Jeremy Rockliff.

EMRS: Liberal 36, Labor 31, Greens 15 in Tasmania

A dive in support for the country’s last remaining and now minority Liberal government, although Labor fails to reap a significant dividend.

The latest EMRS poll of state voting intention in Tasmania has Liberal support slumping six points since the February poll to 36%, its lowest level in this long-running series since 2018, but with Labor up only one point to 31%. The Greens are up two to 15%, their best result since 2019 in a series that has shown a tendency to overestimate them. Despite Labor’s apparent softness, leader Rebecca White takes a 40-38 lead over Jeremy Rockliff as preferred premier, reversing Rockliff’s 44-36 lead last time. The poll was conducted by phone last Monday to Friday from a sample of 1000.

Recent Tasmanian developments of note:

• The government lost its parliamentary majority a fortnight ago when Bass MP Lara Alexander and Lyons MP John Tucker quit the Liberal Party to sit as independents. Both had flagged concerns with future debt from the AFL stadium at Macquarie Point and Marius Link electricity interconnector with the mainland. This puts the numbers in the House of Assembly at Liberal 11, Labor nine, Greens two and independents three, although Labor’s nine includes David O’Byrne, who was ejected from caucus in July 2021.

• The dominant issue of recent weeks has been the aforementioned Macquarie Point AFL stadium, to which the federal government has contentiously contributed $240 million of the projected $715 million cost. While this has ensured Tasmania will finally land a team at the AFL, the funding has been very widely criticised at a time of serious housing shortages, with state Labor opposing the state government’s contribution of $375 million. A poll of 2541 Tasmanians conducted by Community Engagement last October found 67% were opposed to the stadium with only 17% in favour.

Results have been finalised for the three periodic Legislative Council elections held on May 6, each of which were won easily by the incumbents. Labor’s Sarah Lovell fell seven votes short of holding Rumney without having to go to preferences, with a primary vote of 11,003 (49.97%) out of 22,018 amid a field of four candidates. Independent Ruth Forrest polled 16,542 (71.88%) out of 23,013 against two rival independents and a Shooters Fishers and Farmers candidate in Murchison; another independent, Rosemary Armitage, polled 15,548 (78.23%) out of 19,875 in a two-horse race against the Greens in Launceston.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Rumney, Murchison, Launceston

The annual round of Tasmanian upper house elections encompasses a live three-way race on Hobart’s fringe and two somnolent contests where country independents seek re-election.

Live commentary

8.50pm. I believe we have all the results we’re going to get for the evening, meaning all the booths plus pre-poll and postal counts. All three incumbents have been handsomely re-elected, with Labor’s Sarah Lovell remaining a shade over 50% on the primary vote in Rumney with the Liberal candidate a distant second on 26.5%. Independent Rosemary Armitage ended with 78.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens in Launceston, while Ruth Forrest in Murchison finished on 71.8% against two independent challengers plus Shooters Fishers and Farmers. The numbers in the chamber will duly remain at four each for Liberal and Labor plus seven independents.

7.35pm. A ninth booth pegs Lovell back to 51.9%, while Rosemary Armitage lead in Launceston continues to inflate, putting her at 75.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens.

7.28pm. Eight out of twelve booths now in from Rumney and Sarah Lovell still commands a majority of the primary vote, now on 53.0%, leaving no remaining doubt with the Liberal on 25.2% and Tony Mulder on 15.0%.

7.18pm. A fifth booth in Rumney pushes Labor’s Sarah Lovell up to 52.1%, making an 19.1% improvement on her 2017 performance on a booth-matched basis, despite the Liberals being on 25.7% in a seat they didn’t contest last time.

7.08pm. A flood of results from Rumney gives us four booths out of 12, all of which were in the electorate in 2017, and which collectively show a handsome swing to Labor of 17.5% compared with 2017, despite the fact there was no Liberal candidate in the field on that occasion. Labor’s Sarah Lovell is at 50.5% of the primary vote and seemingly headed for a comfortable win, with the Liberal candidate on 25.9% and independent Tony Mulder on 16.9%, which on a booth-matched basis is 7.2% behind his losing performance in 2017 on a booth-matched basis.

7.06pm. The Agfest booth is the first to report from Rumney, and limited though this information may be, it looks encouraging for Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell. She has scored 42.6% compared with the 28.4% she scored from the Agfest booth in 2017, albeit that the seat had different boundaries then encompassing more rural territory.

7.05pm. Armitage now close to 70% with six booths in out of twelve. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.53pm. Three booths now in from Launceston, showing Rosemary Armitage headed for an easy win on 67.3%. Ruth Forrest is on 66.9% in Murchison with 17 booths in out of 30. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.43pm. Greens candidate Cecily Rosol scores a respectable 41.2% in the first booth in Launceston, Launceston Central, where she is the only challenger to independent incumbent Rosemary Armitage. Ruth Forrest now at 65.1% in Murchison, with 11 booths reporting out of 30.

6.34pm. Forrest down to 62.1% in Murchison, where results continue to come through at a rapid clip, with six booths now in.

6.30pm. The first two booths in Murchison have Ruth Forrest on 68.9% in her field of four, suggesting I’m unlikely to be devoting much attention to that count over the coming hours.

6.05pm. Polls closed five minutes ago, and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission now has its results pages up for Rumney, Murchison and Launceston. Small booths from Murchison should be reporting in fairly short order, but the others two may be a while longer.


Tasmania holds its annual periodical Legislative Council elections today, whereby either two or three of the chamber’s fifteen single-member constituencies go up for election on (usually) the first Saturday in May over the course of a six-year cycle. Among the many distinctive things about this system is its tendency to elect independents, particularly in country seats, the current composition of the chamber being four seats apiece for Liberal and Labor with independents accounting for the other seven.

This year’s trio of elections has long-serving independents Ruth Forrest and Rosemary Armitage seeking re-election in Murchison, which covers most of Burnie and the state’s sparsely populated west coast, and Launceston, which generally accounts for the centre and south-east of the city bearing its name. Local authority Kevin Bonham relates that the Liberals tried to land a candidate to run against Forrest but found not takers, leaving her to face three “obscure challengers”, two independent and one from Shooters Fishers and Farmers. Armitage faces only a Greens challenger and will presumably win easily, as independent incumbents generally do.

The most interesting of the three contests is for Rumney, covering Hobart’s outskirts on the eastern side of the Derwent, where Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell faces two substantial challengers: Tony Mulder, who held the seat as an independent from 2011 until his defeat at Lovell’s hands in 2017, and Liberal candidate Gregory Brown, who has sought to make waves by advocating mandatory minimum jail terms for child sex abusers and a tough approach to criminal justice matters in general. Shooters Fishers and Farmers are also in the field.

Live coverage of the count will be appended to this post after polls close at 6pm.

Miscellany: federal Morgan, Tasmanian EMRS, British generation gap (open thread)

Labor steady federally, Liberal up a little in Tasmania, and Britain’s Tories facing the similar generational challenges to Australia’s.

A couple of things to be noted as the Victorian election dominates my attention:

• The weekly Roy Morgan video update tells us that federal Labor’s two-party lead is steady at 53.5-46.5, and nothing further.

• The quarterly EMRS poll of Tasmanian state voting intention gives the Liberals their best result this year, up one to 42% with Labor down two to 29% and the Greens up one to 14%. Jeremy Rockliff’s lead over Rebecca White is 46-34, little changed from 47-35 in August. The poll was conducted November 8 to 15 from a sample of 1000.

• Something that caught my eye from Charlotte Ivers in Britain’s New Statesman, as it seems more than relevant to Australia:

In 2019 57 per cent of people aged 60-69 voted Tory, but only 23 per cent of people aged 25-29. Of course, it is news to nobody that young people vote Labour and older people vote Conservative. What is alarming Conservative MPs is that the tipping point age at which people become more likely to vote Conservative than Labour is going up, and it is going up quickly. Before the 2017 election, research by the Onward think tank found, the tipping point was 34. By 2019 it was 51.

MPs can also tell you why this is. People vote Conservative as they age not because of some innate law, but because ageing has traditionally been associated with the other markers of a Conservative vote: home ownership, a stable job, increased income or capital. It looks like this link is breaking.

Pembroke by-election live

Live coverage of the count for today’s by-election for the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Pembroke.

8.16pm. With all the booths now in, and 4539 pre-polls besides, that’s it for the evening. Labor did markedly better on both pre-polls and postals, which increased in number by a third, than election day votes, which were down 13%. Their candidate — whose name, I should observe, is Luke Edmunds — ends the night on 39.5%, with Liberal candidate Gregory Brown on 28.8% and Deborah Brewer of the Greens on 18.7%. I would imagine that Labor’s winning margin after preferences would be pushing 10%, little changed from 8.65% in 2019.

7.30pm. Howrah booth brings the swing against Labor inside 7% and the Greens vote down to 19.3%. This has been by some distance the biggest booth, with 2616 formal votes to Lindisfarne Village’s 1251.

7.27pm. There are also 1447 postals in and they have been strong for Labor, such that I’ve now got their swing down to 7.4% and their projected total to 37.8% with the Liberals on 27.8%. As I suspected, these votes have drawn the Greens back to 21.2%.

7.23pm. Bellerive booth in. Swing against Labor now up to 9.2%, but that’s matched by a continuing rise in the Greens vote, now at 23.3%. Preferences will presumably prevent the Greens finishing second, as they will be from Shooters and an independent with a background in the Liberal Party.

7.15pm. Lindisfarne Village also fails to change the situation, except to note that the Greens vote has crept up to 22.9%. It will probably come down a bit on postals though.

7.10pm. Geilston Bay makes four booths out of ten. I now have the primary vote swing against Labor up to 8.4%, which doesn’t fundamentally change the situation.

6.56pm. The Montagu Bay and Mornington booths are in, making for three out of a total of ten, and I now make it a 1.4% primary vote swing to the Liberals with Labor down 6.6%. The Greens are still riding high on 21.7%, and I’m projecting primary vote totals of 38.6% for Labor and 26.7% for Liberal. That suggests a pretty comfortable win for Labor with a similar margin to last time, regardless of what might happen with the preferences from Shooters and the independent, who are on 3.4% and 9.8% respectively.

6.44pm. The first booth in is Tranmere, and the raw numbers suggest a fairly close race that Labor would be well placed to win on Greens preferences, although it’s still far too early to say. The outstanding fact of the result is that the Greens are on 20.0% with 106 votes out of 529. Labor is duly down 7.3% on its 2019 result, when there was no Greens candidate, while the Liberals are up 5.5%, which is reflected in a lower independent vote — conservative independent Tony Mulder polled 22.8% at this booth in his comeback attempt in 2019, whereas the only independent at this election, Hans Willink, is on 11.9%. However, there are only 529 votes for the booth this time compared with 2063 last time, so it’s probably in a different location and not entirely amenable to swings based on booth-matching.

6pm. Polls have closed; results from the Tasmanian Electoral Commission will be published here. This being an urban electorate with fairly large booths, I would not expect the count to be particularly swift, but there may be at least one booth result along in 30 to 45 minutes or so.

5pm. A by-election is being held today to fill a vacancy in Tasmania’s 15-member Legislative Council for the seat of Pembroke, which covers the eastern shore of Hobart’s Derwent river directly opposite the city centre, from Lindisfarne south through Bellerive to Tranmere. This follows the resignation of Labor member Jo Siejka, who defeated a Liberal candidate by 8.65% to win the seat’s last periodic election in 2019. Unlike a lot of elections for Legislative Council seats, this is a fully partisan contest involving Labor, the Liberals and the Greens, together with Shooters Fishers and Farmers and one independent. Polls will close as always at 6pm local time, followed here by live coverage of the count.

EMRS: Liberal 41, Labor 31, Greens 13 in Tasmania

A poll finds Tasmania’s Liberal government still well ahead of Labor, but no longer by so much as to maintain its parliamentary majority.

The latest quarterly-or-so poll of Tasmanian state voting intention from EMRS records a two-point increase for the Liberals to 41%, with Labor up a point to 31% and the Greens steady on 13%. Preferred premier is all but unchanged with Jeremy Rockliff leading Labor’s Rebecca White by 47-35, out from 47-34. The poll was conducted August 8 to 11 from a sample of 1000.

As well as that, there is a fair bit of significant electoral news to report from the state:

• A well-rounded by-election looms for the eastern Hobart Legislative Council seat of Pembroke on September 10, candidates in ballot paper order being Deborah Brewer (Greens), Gregory Brown (Liberal), Carlo Di Falco (Shooters Fishers and Farmers), Luke Edmunds (Labor) and Hans Willink (Independent) (UPDATE: Kevin Bonham reminds us in comments that ballot paper order is Robson rotation, so this list is actually alphabetical order). The by-election follows the resignation of Jo Siejka, who gained the seat for Labor by an 8.6% margin at the periodic election in 2019.

• The recount to replace outgoing Liberal member Jacquie Petrusma in Franklin was won by Dean Young with 5808 of her preferences (51.1%) to 5281 for Bec Enders (46.5%) with the remainder going to non-Liberal candidates. Young is a Bellerive news agency owner who ran at the March 2021 election as a late substitute for Dean Ewington, was disendorsed early in the campaign after criticising the government’s COVID-19 restrictions on Facebook.

• Tasmanian’s Electoral Commissioner has published advice to the government on its plan to restore the state’s House of Assembly to 35 seats, from which it was reduced to 25 in 1998. It recommends a straightforward restoration of the old system in which five electoral divisions sharing the federal boundaries returned seven members each, rather than an alternative in which seven divisions would return five members each.

Preference flows and by-elections (open thread)

A look at preference flow data from the 2019 and 2022 elections, and the latest on looming by-elections in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and (sort of) Western Australia.

Something I really should have noted in last week’s post is that the Australian Electoral Commission has now published two-candidate preferred preference flow data from the election, showing how minor party and independent preferences flowed between Labor and the Coalition. The table below shows how Labor’s share increased for the four biggest minor parties and independents collectively (and also its fraction decrease for “others”) from the last election to this and, in the final column, how much difference each made to Labor’s total share of two-party preferred, which was 52.13%.

Note that the third column compares how many preference Labor received with how many they would have if preference flows had been last time, which is not the same thing as how many preferences they received. Labor in fact got nearly 2% more two-party vote share in the form of Greens preferences at this election because the Greens primary vote was nearly 2% higher this time.

State and territory by-election:

• Six candidates for the August 20 by-election in the Northern Territory seat of Fannie Bay, in ballot paper order: Brent Potter, described in a report as a “government adviser, army veteran and father of four”, for Labor; independent George Mamouzellos; independent Raj Samson Rajwin, who was a Senate candidate for the United Australia Party; Jonathan Parry of the Greens; independent Leah Potter; and Ben Hosking, “small business owner and former police officer”, for the Country Liberals.

• Following the resignation of Labor member Jo Siejka, a by-election will be held for the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Pembroke on September 10. Siejka defeated a Liberal candidate by 8.65% to win the eastern Hobart seat at the periodic election in 2019. There will also be a recount of 2021 election ballots in Franklin to determine which of the three unelected Liberals will replace Jacquie Petrusma following her resignation announcement a fortnight ago. As Kevin Bonham explains, the order of probability runs Bec Enders, Dean Young and James Walker.

• Still no sign of a date for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election.

Sticky wicket (open thread)

Schemes hatched by WA Liberals seeking a quick path out of the wilderness; a new Tasmanian state poll; nothing doing on the federal poll front.

I was hoping Newspoll might be back in the game three weeks after election day, but it seems normal service is yet to resume. Presumably Essential Research will have numbers of some sort tomorrow, but it remains to be seen if they will encompass voting intention. I hope to have more to offer shortly on whether other pollsters are still in the game in the immediate term, or whether they have pulled stumps for the time being. That just leaves me with the following miscellany to relate by way of a new open thread post:

Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reported yesterday on a plan within the Western Australian Liberals to have former test cricketer and national team coach Justin Langer lead the party into the next state election in 2025. The suggestion is that the current leader, David Honey, might be persuaded to relinquish his seat of Cottesloe, one of only two lower house seats the party retained at the 2021 election. It is an any case “widely accepted that Dr Honey won’t lead the WA Liberals to the next election”, with Vasse MP Libby Mettams “his likely replacement” – indeed his only possible replacement out of the existing ranks of the Liberals’ lower house contingent.

Katina Curtis and Shane Wright of the Sydney Morning Herald have taken the trouble to compile the results of the 75,368 telephone votes cast by those in COVID-19 isolation, finding that Labor, Greens or independents candidates out-performed on them on two-candidate preferred relative to the overall results in all but eight lower house seats. Kevin Bonham is quoted in the article noting that infections are more prevalent of left-leaning demographics, namely the young and those employed in exposed occupations, though I also tend to think there may be a greater tendency for those on the right of politics to keep their illnesses to themselves.

• One bit of poll news at least: the latest quarterly Tasmanian state poll from EMRS has been published, the first since Jeremy Rockliff succeeded Peter Gutwein as Premier. It finds the Liberals down two points since March to 39%, Labor down one to 30%, the Greens up one to 13% and others up two to 18%. Rockliff leads Labor’s Rebecca White 47-34 as preferred premier, compared with Gutwein’s lead of 52-33 in March. The poll was conducted May 27 to June 2 through telephone interviews from a sample of 1000.

Lydia Lynch of The Australian reports that Julie-Ann Campbell, Queensland Labor’s outgoing state secretary and now associate partner with consultancy firm EY, is “expected to run for federal politics” – specifically for the seat of Moreton, which Graham Perrett has held for Labor since 2007.

There’s a fair bit going on at the site at the moment, so here’s a quick run-through the subjects of recent posts with on-topic discussion threads, as opposed to the open thread on this post:

• The future direction of the Liberal Party, with debate raging as to whether it should focus on recovering blue-ribbon seats from the teal independents or cutting them loose and pursuing a new course through suburban and regional seats traditionally held by Labor;

• The three state by-elections looming in the Queensland seat of Callide, the South Australian seat of Bragg and the Western Australian seat of North West Central;

• The ongoing count from the federal election, which remains of interest in relation to several Senate contests, with the pressing of the button looking reasonably imminent in South Australia and the two territories.