Pembroke by-election: August 1

Friday, July 31

Tune in tomorrow for the usual live coverage of the count. Michael Stedman of The Mercury has a thorough round-up of the campaign and candidates; Kevin Bonham and Peter Tucker have added a sequel to their earlier overview; and Tucker offers a few more cents’ worth at his own Tasmanian Politics site. Antony Green will also be covering the count at ABC Elections, and explains what will be on offer on his blog. The under-attended candidates’ debate can be viewed on YouTube.

Saturday, July 18

Labor has indeed chickened out, prompting a pertinent question from MDMConnell in comments: “When was the last time the party currently holding a seat refused to contest it at a by-election?” A field of eight candidates has come forward, who are dealt with in ballot paper order below. Further reading from Antony Green, Peter Tucker and Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch wiki and Malcolm Mackerras at Mumble (not sure exactly when he wrote his email to Peter Brent, but suffice to say the assertion that I had not noticed the by-election is erroneous).

Honey Bacon. The most colourful development of the campaign has been the entry of the widow of former Premier Jim Bacon. As a reporter on the ABC AM’s program noted, the vote-pulling power of the Bacon name appeared to be demonstrated in 1998 when the low-profile and unrelated Labor candidate Ken Bacon won a lower house seat in Lyons, and again when he was returned in 2002 with 14.3 per cent of the vote.

Peter Cooper. Cooper is listed as a Clarence councillor and taxi driver who lives in the electorate at Bellerive. Antony Green tells us he “previously contested Pembroke in 1983 when he polled 10.1 per cent, and 1989 when he polled 14.0 per cent”.

James Crotty. Crotty is a Hobart lawyer, described by Peter Tucker and Kevin Bonham as “left-leaning” and “green-tinged”. He polled 3.8 per cent as a Labor candidate for Denison at the 2006 election, and came close to beating David Bartlett on the countback in 2004 which followed the departure of Jim Bacon. More recently he has been touted as a lower house Labor candidate for Franklin at next year’s state election. It was reported that Crotty was set to be endorsed June 22, but the announcement was withdrawn due to “last-minute commitments”. The Mercury reported that Labor subsequently failed in bids to recruit Julian Amos, a lower house member for Denison from 1976 to 1986 and again from 1992 to 1996, and Wendy Kennedy, a “racing figure and local identity”. Labor then announced it would not field a candidate, at which point Crotty curiously anounced he would run as “independent Labor” and refused to rule out taking a position with the government if one was offered. Crotty has won the endorsement of Harry Quick, the former federal Labor member for Franklin who endorsed Vanessa Goodwin at the 2007 election out of distaste for his Labor successor Kevin Harkins (who was soon forced to stand aside), and more recently considered running against state Treasurer Michael Aird as Greens candidate for Derwent. Aird himself has denied reports he was at odds with David Bartlett’s decision not to formally endorse Crotty as a Labor candidate.

Vanessa Goodwin (Liberal). Antony Green describes Goodwin as “a 39 year-old criminologist and lawyer who has worked for the Department of Police and Public Safety for a decade with responsibility for implementing and managing several crime prevention projects such as Project U-Turn (turning around the lives of young offenders) and Project Samaritan (burglary prevention)”. Goodwin narrowly failed to win a state seat in Franklin at the 2006 state election, and performed more than creditably to pick up a 3.1 per cent swing as federal candidate for Franklin in 2007 – the best result for any Liberal candidate in the country, albeit under difficult circumstances for Labor. Like Crotty, Goodwin was expected to run as a candidate for Franklin at the state election, before the circumstance of the Pembroke by-election presented both candidate and party with an opportunity in which neither had much to lose.

Wendy Heatley (Greens). Antony Green describes Heatley as “a 46 year-old lawyer who works as a Director for the Australian Taxation Office in Hobart”, whose “involvement with the Greens stretches back to the days of the Franklin Dam blockade”. The Greens candidate for Pembroke in 2007, Neil Smith, polled 13.4 per cent, while Antony Green calculates the local booths produced Greens votes of 17.2 per cent and 15.8 per cent at the 2002 and 2006 state elections, and 8.0 per cent and 10.9 per cent at the 2004 and 2007 federal elections.

Richard James. James is an accountant and Clarence City alderman making his third bid for Pembroke. He performed extremely impressively to poll 32.6 per cent in 1995, and more modestly at the 1999 by-election and the 2007 periodical election at which Allison Ritchie was re-elected, respectively scoring 13.3 per cent and 18.4 per cent. He nonetheless made the final two-candidate cut on the latter occasion with 31.2 per cent against Ritchie’s 68.8 per cent. At the 2006 state election he ran in Franklin, polling a very modest 489 votes (0.7 per cent).

John Peers. A Clarence alderman since 1994, Peers polled 9.3 per cent running against Ritchie in Pembroke in 2007.

Kit (Sharon) Soo. Soo is listed as a PR consultant residing in Sandy Bay; beyond that, nothing is known.

Wednesday, July 1

A minor, but potentially very interesting, electoral event will take place in Tasmania on August 1, when voters in the Legislative Council district of Pembroke choose a replacement for outgoing Labor member Allison Ritchie. The Liberal Party’s normal practice of not contesting seats in the Legislative Council makes elections for the chamber, which normally take place for two or three of the 15 divisions each May, of little interest to those attuned to the adversarial cut-and-thrust of partisan politics. However, this time the Liberals have resolved to take the field with a quality candidate in a seat which is one of only four currently held by Labor. It thus looms as a fascinating test of strength for Premier David Bartlett, the apparently popular head of an ageing government who has yet to face the voters, and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman, who seems the Liberals’ most promising leadership prospect in recent memory despite his patchy record in the polls.

Pembroke covers most of the urban area on the Derwent River’s eastern shore, from Otago south through Lindisfarne and Bellerive to Tranmere. The by-election will be held under the newly redistributed boundaries which have added marginal areas at Otago at the northern coastal end and Mornington in the east, neither of which should have a measurable impact. The primary votes from this area at the 2007 federal election were Labor 44 per cent, Liberal 42 per cent and the Greens 11 per cent, with a two-party Labor margin of 5.6 per cent.

Ritchie announced she would quit parliament on June 20 after enduring a storm of controversy over her appointment of several family members to her staff. She was first elected to the seat in 2001 when she defeated independent incumbent Cathy Edwards, in large part due to her successful attacks upon Edwards’ dual role as Mayor of Clarence, and easily won re-election in 2007. 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 (though Antony Green is unsure whether this is feasible) or the annual periodical upper house elections in May.

Things got really interesting last week when the Liberals, after initially signalling that they would follow their normal practice of sitting the election out, announced as their candidate Vanessa Goodwin, a Hobart criminologist who narrowly failed to win a state seat in Franklin at the 2006 state election, and performed more than creditably to pick up a 3.1 per cent swing as federal candidate for Franklin in 2007 – the best result for any Liberal candidate in the country, albeit under difficult circumstances for Labor, with popular incumbent Harry Quick retiring and his nemesis Kevin Harkins, the state secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, being forced to stand aside as candidate after his union became the focus of Coalition attacks. Given the disastrous performance of Liberal candidates in the upper house when the party last tested the waters in 2002, which voters evidently saw as an intrusion on the chamber’s cherished independence, this appears a bold move. However, there are reasons to believe circumstances will be different this time, partly due to the standing of the candidate, but also because this election is taking place in an urban rather than rural seat. It is in Hobart that Labor has succeeded in getting candidates elected, and it presumably follows that city conservatives are also less attached to the Legislative Council as an extension of local politics.

Remarkably, it is now Labor that is considering not fielding a candidate. It was reported that Hobart lawyer James Crotty was set to be endorsed June 22, but he withdrew due to “last-minute commitments”. Matthew Denholm of The Australian named as possible candidates Julian Amos, a lower house member for Denison from 1976 to 1986 (including a spell as minister in the Lowe/Holgate government from 1979 to 1982) and again from 1992 to 1996; Pharmacy Guild director Louise Sullivan; and Roger Joseph, former staff member for Harry Quick. Another interesting name to emerge was Kevin Harkins, whose recent re-emergence as a potential Senate candidate has been vigorously opposed by the Prime Minister. Evidently it is feared that none of these candidates will be the goods to take on Goodwin. A decision from the party was expected this afternoon, and has presumably been made but not yet reported.

The Greens have announced they will field a candidate, but are yet to say who. Michael Stedman of The Mercury also reported that Jenny Branch, a Glenorchy councillor and Liberal Party member who polled strongly against Treasurer Michael Aird in the May periodical election for Mersey, was considering standing, but she has presumably thought again now the Liberals are fielding an official candidate.

More from Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics.

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.


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.

Essential Research: 56-44

Labor’s two-party lead from Essential Research is up slightly following last week’s dive, from 55-45 to 56-44. Also featured are questions on the financial state of the companies respondents work for, future spending plans, confidence in the economy, “concern over job situation”, government regulation of the financial sector and whether an election will be justified if the “opposition refuses to pass” emissions tradding scheme legislation. Interestingly, the response to the latter question is 33 per cent yes and 37 per cent no, compared with 41 per cent and 29 per cent in April.

• The talk of the town this week is Section 44 (iii) of the Constitution, which provides that any person who is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives. Such designation could shortly apply to Bob Brown, who has been advised by Forestry Tasmania he faces bankruptcy proceedings if he does not come good on an order to pay $239,368 costs stemming from a failed bid to stop logging in Tasmania’s Wielangta forests. With offers of support flooding in from sources including Dick Smith, one suspects he’ll keep the wolf from the door. Ken Jeffreys of Forestry Tasmania describes Brown’s appeal as a “public holiday, slow-news-day media stunt”, while Bronwyn Bishop queries the Greens’ determination that the matter is Brown’s problem rather than theirs.

Andrew Landeryou at VexNews reports that Craig Langdon, the state Labor member for Ivanhoe, faces a preselection challenge from by Labor Unity colleague Anthony Carbines, Banyule councillor, chief-of-staff to Education Minister Bronwyn Pike and son of upper house MP Elaine Carbines. A text message from Langdon to local party members accuses Carbines of disregarding his offer to vacate the seat for him at the election after next. Landeryou blames the episoode on moves the prohibit political staffers from serving as councillors in the wake of the Ombudsman’s report into Brimbank Council, foreseeing further such action from “a tribe of angry, politically very well connected and shafted staffer-councillors who have been told to choose between their day jobs and their passion of politics and community service”.

• The ABC reports Scott Bacon, 32-year-old son of the late former Premier Jim Bacon, is seeking preselection in Denison for next year’s state election. Bacon is an economist and adviser to Energy and Resources Minister David Llewellyn.

• Poll Bludger regular Oz has started a blog devoted to New South Wales state politics, which is the kind of thing we should have more of. Do visit.

Essential Research: 59-41

The latest weekly Essential Research survey has Labor’s two-party lead narrowing from 62-38 to 59-41. There are also interesting breakdowns on attitudes to the budget and the retirement age by employment and self-identified social class: office workers think the higher retirement age fair, tradesmen and manual labourers very much the opposite, while class reaction to the budget is how you would traditionally expect with Labor in power. The survey also finds the public slightly more receptive to a senior role for Peter Costello than they were three months ago.

Other news:

• Two challengers have emerged against incumbent Dennis Jensen in the Liberal preselection for Tangney – neither of whom is Matt Brown, who defeated Jensen in the local vote ahead of the 2007 election only to have the result overturned on the intervention of John Howard. Andrew Probyn of The West Australian reports the conteders are Alcoa government relations and public policy manager Libby Lyons, last seen angling for the state seat of Nedlands (and apparently the granddaughter of Joseph Lyons), and Toyota Finance executive Glenn Piggott.

• The ABC reports that Tasmanian David Bartlett has “reconsidered” his original proposal for fixed elections on March 20 after “consultation with key stakeholders”, which hopefully includes Antony Green (the move would have set up a permanent clash with elections in South Australia). He instead proposes to allow a future Premier “flexibility” within a three-month period, similar to what Colin Barnett is advocating in Western Australia. An draft that was being circulated for consultation early in the year allowed for early Legislative Assembly elections if the Legislative Council so much as blocked a bill the Assembly deemed to be “significant”, and provided for an Assembly election in the event of a no-confidence motion or if the Council blocked supply.

• Staying in Tasmania, David Bartlett helpfully puts out a press release each time a Labor candidate is nominated for next year’s state election – the latest being Franklin candidate Kate Churchill, whose role as operations manager of Colony 47 would appear to make her a community organiser in the Barack Obama mould.

Andrew Landeryou at Vex News runs a scan of an Australian Financial Review report that the Labor national executive “may be asked to run preselections for state seats in the western suburbs of Melbourne to try to defuse factional tensions before the election next year”. As Landeryou puts it, “Some say this is code for a cross-factional and multi-sub-factional agreement that the member for Keilor George Seitz be encouraged to retire”, following the state Ombudsman’s recent probings into Brimbank City Council and their bearing on the state preselection for the 2008 Kororoit by-election. Landeryou raises his eyebrows at the assertion that the arrangement’s backers, said to include Kim Carr of the Left and Bill Shorten of the Right, want preselection for Brendan O’Connor’s federal seat of Gorton taken out of local hands, as there as been no suggestion he might be troubled.

• Writing in The Australian’s weekly State of the Nation wrap-up of state politics, Imre Salusinszky returns to a favourite theme: the unlikelihood of an early federal election given the need for “mini-redistributions” if the redistributions for New South Wales and Queensland are yet to be finalised. In particular, he notes that a mini-redistribution would have to create three Coalition seats from two (Fadden and Moncrieff) in Queensland, while merging two Labor seats (Sydney and Lowe) in New South Wales – as well as giving the Coalition a stick with which to beat Labor for calling an election under such inopportune circumstances.

Morgan: 58-42/54.5-45.5

Unpredictable Roy Morgan has unloaded two very different sets of poll results: one using its usual face-to-face methodology, but based on one week’s sample rather than the recently more usual two, and the other a phone poll in which respondents were also asked about leadership preference, contrary to normal Morgan practice. The face-to-face poll is from 999 respondents, and shows Labor’s lead narrowing from 60-40 to 58-42. Labor’s primary vote is down 0.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent, while the Coalition is up a quite healthy 3.5 per cent to a still not-healthy 37.5 per cent. The Greens are down a point to 8 per cent.

However, the phone poll has Labor’s two-party lead at a more modest 54.5-45.5, from primary votes of 45 per cent Labor, 40.5 per cent Coalition and 7.5 per cent Greens. At present, a dedicated page for the phone poll result tells us only that Kevin Rudd leads Malcolm Turnbull as preferred prime minister 60.5 per cent to 26.5 per cent; that Rudd’s approval rating is 57.5 per cent; and that Turnbull’s approval rating is 43 per cent. Perhaps it will be fleshed out with more information at a later time.

Two other pieces of news:

• It seems Andrew Wilkie will run as an independent candidate for Denison at next year’s Tasmanian state election. Wilkie is the former Office of National Assessments analyst who quit over the Howard government’s actions before the Iraq war, and subsequently ran as a Greens candidate against John Howard in Bennelong in 2004 and as Bob Brown’s Tasmanian Senate running mate in 2007.

• A beleagured British Labour Party is considering sweeping electoral reforms, including an elected upper house. House of Commons reforms might presumably include some kind of preferential voting, which Britain’s three-plus party system badly needs, or more radically proportional representation, with which Britons have become familiar through elections for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, its members of European Parliament, and local government.

EMRS: 43-36 to Labor in Tasmania

The latest quarterly EMRS survey of 1000 Tasmanian voters shows no radical change in state voting intention since February, with Labor’s lead after distribution of the undecided up a point to 43 per cent, the Liberals steady on 36 per cent and the Greens down two to 17 per cent. There are also breakdowns by electorate which you can see for yourself, but with samples ranging from 133 to 206 it wouldn’t do to take them too seriously. Slightly good news for the Liberals from the preferred leader ratings, which have David Bartlett down two to 39 per cent and Will Hodgman up two to 31 per cent. Newish Greens leader Nick McKim is up one to 13 per cent.

More from Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics and Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, who are puzzled by EMRS’s high undecided rates (24 per cent on this occasion).

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.

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%
Gaffney 8344 42.9%
Jamieson 2590 13.3%
Laycock 3140 16.1%
Martin 5389 27.7%
Aird (ALP)* 9746 51.6% -25.9% 51.4%
Branch 6328 33.5%
Gunter (GRN) 2811 14.9%


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.”


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
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