Tasmanian election guide

Introducing the Poll Bludger’s guide to the May 1 state election in Tasmania.

The Poll Bludger’s guide to the Tasmanian state election is now available in all its painstaking glory. It features guides to each of the five electoral divisions, including interactive polling booth results maps, charts and tables of past electorate data, happy snaps and around 1200 words’ worth of information and analysis apiece, and a 2400-word overview of the electoral and political situation as it seems from my admittedly distant perch. What it doesn’t feature is a page for the Legislative Council, but that will be rectified over the next day or so.

Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for nominations, which will resolve a few lingering mysteries about the state of the race, a summary of notable campaign developments so far, some of which my election guide still needs to be brought up to speed on:

• After the first week of Labor’s campaign was consumed by controversy over Dean Winter’s failure to win preselection in Franklin, the party’s national executive has intervened on his behalf at the request of Rebecca White. Winter, the mayor of Kingborough and a former economics adviser to White, had been denied by the state party’s Left-dominated administrative committee because of “anti-union views” on penalty rates and privatisation. One union that disagreed was the Right faction Australian Workers Union, of which Winter is a member, which filed a notice of appeal to have the result overturned. Labor will now have six candidates in Franklin rather than the originally mooted five.

Matthew Denholm of The Australian obliquely reports today on an “internal party debate” as to whether an unidentified Left-aligned candidate should be dumped over “allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a woman”.

• One of the Liberals’ non-incumbent candidates for Franklin, Dean Ewington, was disendorsed last Wednesday for having attended an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne and posted a video on Facebook railing against the government’s “silly restrictions” relating to COVID-19. He has been replaced by James Walker, a podiatrist and Clarence alderman who ran unsuccessfully for the Legislative Council seat of Pembroke in 2017.

The Mercury reported last Thursday that Labor had entered a “secret deal” with the hotels lobby resolving not to repeat its 2018 election policy of removing poker machines from pubs and clubs, which drew immediate fire from the Greens and independent Clark candidate Kristie Johnston.

Tasmanian election: May 1

Tasmania to go to the polls on May 1, as Peter Gutwein seeks to make it an unprecedented three-in-a-row for the Liberals.

Last night’s rumours proved to be true: Peter Gutwein has called a Tasmanian election for May 1, almost a year ahead of time. I have a paywalled piece in Crikey laying out my thoughts on the matter.

The upshot is that an early election is understandable from a Liberal perspective owing to the government’s COVID-19 popularity dividend and its historic difficulty in winning elections in Tasmania (never before has it won three in a row); but that there are nonetheless considerable risks involved in an early election, even allowing for the excuse that the government lost its majority when Sue Hickey quit the party on Monday. Such risks are compounded by the fact that the election has been imposed on Labor leader Rebecca White barely more than a month before she is due to give birth, the Liberal Party’s insensitivity towards women being very much the issue du jour.

I would optimistically say that I’m a week away from publishing an election guide, on which I got started when the rumours began to swirl earlier in the week. As always in matters Tasmanian, you could do a lot worse than follow the election analysis of Kevin Bonham.