Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Franklin

This is my Denison electorate guide for the 2018 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2018 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)

Franklin (Currently 3 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green). 
Eastern shore Hobart (Clarence City), much of Kingborough, Huon Valley, D'Entrecasteaux Channel
Urban/outer urban/treechange/rural

Declared Candidates

Note to candidates: As the number of candidates is large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.  Candidates are listed incumbent-first and then alphabetically, except if stated otherwise.



Will Hodgman, incumbent, Premier since 2014, party leader since 2006, backing vocals, guitar
Jacquie Petrusma, incumbent, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Women, conservative on social issues
Nic Street, first-term incumbent (countback during term), previously Kingborough councillor, liberal on social issues
Claire Chandler, senior risk analyst at Deloitte Australia, former federal Young Liberal President
Simon Duffy, staffer to Petrusma, former youth worker, disability services background


Kathryn Barnsley, medical researcher (PhD 2016), anti-tobacco advocate, supporter of Ivan Dean's Tobacco-Free Generation proposal.
Heather Chong, Clarence city councillor, small businesswoman, also ran in 2014
Kevin Midson, Australian Workers' Union organiser
David O'Byrne, past MHA for seat (2010-2014), sometime leadership contender, extensive union background, with Beacon Foundation during term off
Alison Standen, public servant (health/community), Department of Social Services state manager, former Smith Family manager, said to be first openly gay Tasmanian Labor candidate

Sole Labor incumbent and former Premier Lara Giddings is not recontesting.


Greens candidates appear in what I believe to be endorsed ticket order

Rosalie Woodruff, first-term incumbent (countback during term), epidemiologist (PhD), former Huon Valley councillor, 2013 Greens federal candidate for seat
Richard Atkinson, first-term Kingborough councillor, engineer, software development and telecommunications worker
Holly Ewin, florist, early childhood educator
Ross Lincoln
Lachlan Hatfield

Prospects for Franklin

The Liberals won their third seat fairly narrowly in 2014, with long-term Legislative Councillor Paul Harriss beating David O'Byrne by 1768 votes.  Harriss then did not see out his term.  All else being equal, just a 2% swing from Liberal to Labor would take care of the third seat.  The state swing has been much greater in every state poll in the last two years, and Franklin samples have only suggested a slightly lower swing in Franklin than anywhere else.  So a huge amount has to go right in the campaign generally for the Liberals and wrong for Labor for there to be any real chance of holding on here.  A different path for the Liberals to save their third seat would be to beat the Greens, but since that probably requires the Greens losing about as many votes as the Liberals do, it doesn't seem likely.

Hodgman will secure his usual massive vote, but what happens behind him gets messy.  Petrusma polled well in 2014 but her term has been plagued with child-protection issues (in fairness, an even worse area for the previous government) with another adverse report just as I write.  So will it be goodbye to the weakest link in the Hodgman ministry?  Not necessarily, because Street got only just over a thousand votes last time and has had the usual struggle to establish profile of a candidate elected through a mid-term countback.  He's certainly set himself apart with a striking speech on same-sex marriage and the lone Liberal vote for voluntary assisted dying, but not all those who applauded those are people who would even think of voting Liberal.

For Labor, O'Byrne has a high profile and only lost last time because two into one doesn't go and his within-party opponent was the Premier.  Midson was prominently unveiled a few weeks ahead of Standen and Chong and seems to be running hard (Barnsley was selected much more recently.)  So, could well be two union blokes, but I'll keep an eye on Standen's vote as she is quite high-profile. 

For Labor to win three would require a monumental swing, and even then would be a tall order without any incumbents.

Outlook:  Anything but 2-2-1 would be a big surprise.

(Disclosure: The Midson family is known to me through chess - the candidate's father Michael has been treasurer of my chess club and one of its precursors for over 30 years.)

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Denison

This is my Denison electorate guide for the 2018 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2018 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)

Denison (Currently 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green). 
Western shore Hobart, primarily Hobart City and Glenorchy City
Inner and outer urban

Declared Candidates

Note to candidates: As the number of candidates is large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.  Candidates are listed incumbent-first and then alphabetically, except if stated otherwise.


Elise Archer, incumbent, Speaker for most of term, recently promoted to ministry
Simon Behrakis, small businessman (Salamanca Fresh) with economics/stats background
Sue Hickey, incumbent first-term Lord Mayor of Hobart, promotions/printing small business background
Kristy Johnson, owner-manager of all-female Fernwood Gym, not to be confused (but will be) with extremely popular Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston
Dean Young, newsagent, small business - finance background


Scott Bacon, incumbent, Shadow Treasurer, son of former Premier Jim Bacon
Madeleine Ogilvie, first-term incumbent whose Catholic Right social-issue positions have often been contentious within the party
Tim Cox, high-profile former ABC radio Hobart broadcaster, recently commercial radio news manager
Ella Haddad, Health and Human Services relations manager, former electorate officer and student union president
Zelinda Sherlock, teacher of English for refugee students, former lecturer


Greens candidates are in what appears to be endorsed ticket order

Cassy O'Connor, incumbent, Greens Leader since 2015
Helen Burnet, long-term Hobart alderman and for one term Deputy Mayor, podiatrist, frequent Greens candidate
Dr Mel Fitzpatrick, Antarctic climate scientist, expedition leader
Aaron Benham, Honours student (environmental studies grad), activist

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

Lorraine Bennett, party secretary, retired recruitment/HR consultant/manager

Prospects for Denison

Denison is an electorate of two halves - the Glenorchy half which is typically strongly pro-Labor and the Hobart half which has a very high vote for Greens and left-wing candidates.  In 2014 the Liberals outpolled Labor for the first time since 1992, but even then only by 4.5% in the context of a landslide state result.  At their nadir in 2002, the Liberals were even outpolled by the Greens.

Federally Denison is strongly held by the left-wing independent Andrew Wilkie, but attempts to translate this to state level by a rabble of low-profile indies in 2014 failed miserably.  With no high-profile independent campaigning after Kristie Johnston decided to stick to council politics, I see no chance for anyone outside the main three parties.  The circa 10% vote for "independent" that polling suggests in this electorate will mostly find some other place to go.

The Greens cleared quota comfortably in 2014, and with no fourth-party threat I strongly expect them to do so again with Cassy O'Connor returned. I don't claim total certainty on this but it would take a big crash in the Green vote statewide and an unlucky breakdown among other parties to place her at any risk.  On the other hand, Greens support seems too low for any chance at two seats this time round.

Among the major parties there is a chance that if the election in general goes badly enough for the Liberals, Labor could claim three Denison seats, reducing the Liberals to one. That requires about an 11% swing, but limited electorate data suggests Denison, having swung less than the other seats last time, is also swinging less strongly back.  Labor won three in 1998, 2002 and 2006, but in all those cases its statewide vote was at least 44%, and it is well shy of that at present.

The main interest in Denison therefore is the within-party contests.  For the Liberals, Hickey is an interesting prospect because of her history of left-wing positions on issues like same-sex marriage and the date of Australia Day, though in some cases these may reflect speaking for a City Council which contains four Greens.  Hickey's term as Lord Mayor hasn't all gone smoothly, but her past electoral record is stellar and suggests that she will bolt in.

Archer was generally respected as Speaker despite occasional conflict of interest claims from opponents. Her sporadic intolerance for the ridiculous level of interjections even in one case extended to benching the Premier.  She has had little time to establish herself as a Minister and would be at risk of losing to Hickey if the Liberals were reduced to one seat. I don't see any of the Liberal support candidates threatening her, but we should keep an eye on the Kristy Johnson name confusion factor.

On the Labor side, Scott Bacon won easily in 2014, while Ogilvie had a narrow (and for me unexpected, so I'm being careful this time) win over fellow Labor candidate Julian Amos. The main question here is: what is incumbency as a candidate worth in its own right.  Ogilvie effectively won on Greens preferences, but Greens are likely to prefer other Labor candidates to her now that the word is out on her social issues positions.  Relations between Ogilvie and her party have also been strained (unusually personally compared to other MPs with similar views), though she has had some support from even more conservative Labor Senator Helen Polley,

Bacon will be returned, but Ogilvie is at risk - for sure from the high-profile Cox, perhaps also the experienced campaigner Haddad.  Even if Labor gets three, it is possible she'll still miss out.

Outlook: Probably 2-2-1, with an outside chance of 1-3-1 (3 Labor)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Braddon

This is my Braddon electorate guide for the 2018 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2018 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)

Braddon (Currently 4 Liberal 1 Labor). 
North-west and western Tasmania including Devonport, Burnie and Ulverstone

Declared Candidates

Note to candidates: As the number of candidates is large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.  Candidates are listed incumbent-first and then alphabetically, except if stated otherwise.


Jeremy Rockliff, incumbent, Deputy Premier,
Adam Brooks, incumbent, mining industry businessman, backbencher, briefly a minister
Roger Jaensch, first-term incumbent, backbencher, former Cradle Coast Authority chairman
Joan Rylah, first-term incumbent, backbencher, businesswoman
Felix Ellis, plumber, social media stirrer, strong chess player (#7 in state March 2017 - we've never played)


Shane Broad, first-term incumbent (elected on countback during term), agricultural scientist (PhD)
Themba Bulle, Burnie doctor with international experience
Anita Dow, until recently Mayor of Burnie, nurse predominantly in palliative care
Danielle Kidd, manager of Cradle Coast University of Tasmania campus
Wayne Roberts, teacher


Greens candidates for Bass are listed in what I think is endorsed ticket order.

Scott Jordan, high-profile Tarkine area activist, frequent Greens candidate
Sally O'Wheel, teacher, also ran for Greens in 2014 in this electorate
Jui Norbury
Tom Kingston, convenor of Braddon Greens

Jacqui Lambie Network

Roslyn Flanagan, veterinarian
Rodney Flowers, former Circular Head councillor, farmer, prominent campaigner for opening 4WD tracks
Timothy Lovell, aged care health care professional
Colin Smith, military veteran and builder
Gina Timms, country music singer-songwriter

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

Brett Neal, farmer

Prospects for Braddon

Braddon is an electorate where resource development and employment issues have historically been very significant, and the Green vote has lagged behind the rest of the state.  From time to time the electorate votes very strongly for a given party, so the seat produced the only 5/7 seat results in the old 35-seat system (1972 Labor and 1992 Liberal) and in 2014 it produced the new system's first 4/5 seat result.

The 2014 result was a fluke, achieved care of a 61.8% Liberal primary vote, a divided Labor ticket and a very even vote split between two minor Liberal candidates.  A trivial 0.4% swing back to Labor will be the end of it all else being equal, but probably even if the same party primaries were polled again, the Liberals wouldn't win four seats.  There is no realistic chance of the Liberals retaining all four.

The Greens, who polled just 6.7% here in the federal election, would have to do much better and get very lucky with the split in other party votes to be in the mix here - they only won this seat once in the 25-seat era, and that was with a state primary exceeding 20%.  The Green candidate, Scott Jordan, is a high profile but polarising figure whose Tarkine activism gives him a hardliner reputation.  

The threat to the majors instead comes from the Jacqui Lambie Network.  This populist outfit  polled 14.3% in Braddon at the 2016 Senate election, though 5% in this was below-the-line voting for Lambie herself, nearly half of which failed to flow through to other JLN candidates.  Even so, this put the base level of JLN Senate vote in Braddon at close to a state-level quota on a four-party preferred basis.  Moreover, both statewide polling and Braddon-specific polling since is consistent with this, although based on very little data.

JLN will suffer from its candidates being not very high profile names and there will probably be around 20% leakage as each is excluded as was the case for Palmer United in 2014.  However, it must be considered some chance to get one of its candidates up (just please don't ask me which one!).  

At the time of writing (Jan 21) aggregated polling suggests that even with JLN doing much better than PUP's 7% from last time, Labor should still rebuild to the extent of claiming two seats.  This means it's possible that the Liberals, who jumped from two seats to four in 2014, could go straight back where they came from.  However, if the swing to Labor is on the disappointing side, there is some chance that the Network could take Labor's second seat instead.

On a candidate basis, the Liberals' Jeremy Rockliff will be re-elected, and I don't foresee any problems for Labor's Shane Broad either.  Adam Brooks had to resign his ministry because of a work-email conflict of interest scandal that has since dragged on a farcical amount of time, but I can't see that being front and centre for Braddon voters so I expect him to return.  In danger then are Roger Jaensch, who has seemed capable but seldom visible, and Joan Rylah, who has received more press attention, but not always of a flattering variety.  

On the Labor front I think Anita Dow, who stood down as Mayor of Burnie to contest, is the most likely new MP.  

Should one of the Lambie ticket make it (here or Lyons), this throws a curve-ball into the minority government question.  As unpredictable as populist parties are, both Liberal and Labor would find governing with JLN support much more saleable to voters than dependence on the dreaded Greens.  

Outlook: Hard to pick in the early stages between 3-2-0-0 (3 Liberal 2 Labor) or 2-2-0-1 (1 Lambie), with some chance of 3-1-0-1.

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Bass

This is the Bass electorate guide for the 2018 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2018 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)

Bass (Currently 3 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green). 
North-east Tasmania including most of Launceston
Mixed urban/small-town/rural

Declared Candidates

Note to candidates: As the number of candidates is large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.


Peter Gutwein, incumbent, Treasurer and Minister for Local Government
Michael Ferguson, incumbent, Minister for Health, former federal MHR for seat
Sarah Courtney, first-term incumbent, backbencher, institutional financer
Bridget Archer, Mayor of George Town
Simon Wood, Launceston councillor


Michelle O'Byrne, incumbent, Deputy Opposition Leader, Shadow Minister for Education, former federal MHR for seat
Adam Gore, Army musician, former university tutor, staffer for Michelle O'Byrne, also 2014 candidate
Jennifer Houston, sociologist, community development officer, ALP candidate for Windermere in 2015
Owen Powell, farmer with a PhD in hydrogeology (check this out!)
Brian Roe OAM, prominent sports administrator, ALP candidate for Launceston in 2016


Greens candidates for Bass are listed in endorsed ticket order

Andrea Dawkins, incumbent, previously ran vegetarian restuarant Fresh
Emma Anglesey, musician and staffer for Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, 2017 Launceston LegCo candidate
Emma Williams, Launceston councillor
Tom Hall, anaesthetist
James Ireland, town planner

Jacqui Lambie Network

Michelle Hoult, Navy veteran, teacher, lead Nick Xenophon Team candidate for Senate 2016
Joshua Hoy, healthcare professional, rehabilitation consultant
Gary Madden, Army veteran
Daniel Groat, branch supervisor at Ullrich Aluminium

Prospects for Bass

Federally, Bass is a volatile seat with a long history of booting the incumbent at almost every election.  Outer Launceston suburbs and the north-eastern timber towns (foremost Scottsdale) are especially swing-prone.

The Liberals' third seat in Bass is almost certainly a must-hold seat if the party is to retain majority.  The Liberals won three seat in 2014 with a 57% primary vote, and about an 11% swing against them is required before the seat becomes likely to fall.  However the exact swing needed depends a lot on where the other parties finish.

The Greens held off Labor for the final seat by just 1.6% in 2014, although it would have been 3.3% but for the even split between the two leading Labor candidates (an advantage Labor will not have this year).  Coming off a primary of just 23.3%, Labor seems well-placed to gain enough to at least keep their eventual second candidate ahead of the Greens this time, which if so would pitch the Greens into a battle with the Liberals that would depend on the Liberals falling well below three quotas.

A wild card is the Jacqui Lambie Network with Hoult as a fairly well known lead candidate with some political experience.  One seat poll suggests JLN is vaguely competitive here, but I don't see them as a major threat at this stage (Jan 21).

In the event that the Liberals do lose a seat, some have suggested Gutwein, or more commonly Ferguson, might fall.  I think these comments are more wishful thinking given the huge votes both amassed last time, although Ferguson's Health portfolio is famous for not doing wonders for its holder's vote.  At more risk in my view is Courtney, who has been marketed heavily but little seen on anything of substance - which is surprising given her credentials.

For Labor, O'Byrne will be returned but it's hard to pick who would be joining her from a fairly evenly matched ticket, assuming the party wins two.

The Greens have held Bass since 2002, but famously saved it by just 136 votes in 2006, and came pretty close to losing in 2014 too.  Incumbent Andrea Dawkins polled few primaries in 2014 and was elected on countback after ex-leader Kim Booth resigned.  Unless the Greens vote lifts markedly statewide she will be very dependent on the breakdown of the other parties, but can retain if the swing against the Liberals is really on.  I am unsure if her profile is high enough if she gets involved in a close preference battle for the final seat.

A Bass-specific poll was discussed here.

Outlook: Most likely 3-2-0 or 2-2-1, with 3-1-1 (status quo) also a realistic chance.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Main Page

Welcome to the main page for my 2018 Tasmanian state election coverage.  This page will carry links to all the other articles about the election that I write prior to the close of polling, and will contain general big-picture stuff and links to all the specialised articles (once these are written).  It will be updated very frequently.  However, one thing I am doing differently from my 2014 guide is that each electorate will have its own guide page.  The electorate guide pages will be rolled out over coming days and I aim to have them all up by the end of Wednesday 24 January.  (Sorry, a bit slower than expected - distracted by someone being Wrong on the Internet.)  Note that these are my own guides and I reserve the right to inject flippant and subjective comments whenever I feel like it; if you do not like this, write your own.

If you find these guides useful, donations are very welcome (see sidebar), but please only give me money if you can afford to.

Article links

Articles relevant to the election and written during the linkup will have links to them posted here as they are done.  

Electorate guides
(Lyons to be added when written)

Other articles


The election must be held by May 19, 2018.  Premier Hodgman has repeatedly stated the election will be in March, four years to the month since the last state election.  The previous three Tasmanian state elections have been held on the same weekend as South Australia (to the intense annoyance of the election-watching community nationwide), which in this case would mean March 17.  However, at the time of writing (Jan 18) there are widespread rumours that the election may be called within days for March 3.  March 10 is unsuitable as it falls on a public holiday weekend and March 24 is probably too close to Easter.  The time between the gazetting of the election and the election date can be between 27 and 61 days, meaning that in practice a four-week campaign is the minimum.

The Backdrop

At the 2014 state election, Will Hodgman's Liberal Party thrashed the fourth-term Labor government led by Lara Giddings.  For most of its term, Giddings' government had operated in an unpopular coalition with the Greens, creating internal tensions within both parties to the deal.  The Liberals won 15 seats to seven for Labor and three for the Greens.  They also held two upper house seats at the time, so the new government started with a 17-seat party room and plenty of MPs to form a front bench from.

Hodgman's government has generally been impressively united and has done a good job of keeping its internal disagreements over social issues friendly.  Despite this it has lost four ministers during its term - one for health reasons, one to a work-email scandal and two retirements from politics.  Those who have remained have received a wide range of reviews.

Bryan Green was left to pick up the pieces as Labor leader after the 2014 defeat, but his compromised past meant he was only ever a stop-gap until someone younger was ready to take over.  After making no impression on Hodgman's 30-odd point preferred premier leads, Green resigned in March and was replaced by Rebecca White.  White will be the youngest ever Tasmanian Premier if she wins.
The Labor Party is on a roll after gaining three Legislative Council seats during the term (from the Liberals, an "independent liberal" and an unaligned independent).  

The System

The Tasmanian lower house is elected by the multi-member Hare-Clark system, a form of proportional representation with similarities to the Australian Senate system.  Five candidates are elected in each of the five electorates.  Voters must number at least five squares and can number as many as they wish.  There is no above-the-line voting and how-to-vote cards cannot be handed out near booths on polling day.

The system favours candidates with high profiles and hence high name recognition, because these are most effective in obtaining preferences both from their ticket-mates and from other candidates.  In cases where all a party's candidates have been elected or excluded, a high proportion of that party's vote will exhaust from the system because some voters just vote 1-5 for their chosen party and stop.

The system allows candidates to compete with and in cases displace others from their own party as well as from other parties.  Projecting results from opinion poll data and even from primary vote totals is a complex and difficult task, and this is the place where such projections will be found.

Tasmania formerly had seven-member electorates, but this was changed to five from the 1998 poll onwards as part of a process to attempt to reduce costs but also with an eye to increasing the chance of majority government.  See Tasmanian Lower House: 25 or 35 seats? if interested in detailed discussion of the impact of this change.

To win majority government, a party currently needs to win 13 seats.   Since the number of seats became odd in 1959, the lowest vote share to have won a majority was 44.79% (ALP in 1998) and the highest vote share to not have done so was 47.68% (ALP in 1969).

The Issues

The government has benefited from an improving economy and booms in tourism and construction, but has struggled to contain resulting "growing pains".  Traffic congestion and housing affordability/availability problems have been significant in and around Greater Hobart (the latter resulting partly from conversion of rental properties to Air BnBs).  The government has also sometimes struggled to be seen as focused on what matters to voters - especially the state's often difficult health system - and has sometimes seemed to be still fighting the last election with culture war politics over forestry, mandatory sentencing and discrimination law.

Poker machines - a source of modest employment but a cause of significant gambling-addiction related problems and financial losses for gamblers - are a major policy difference between the parties.  The Liberals intend to reform the industry while allowing pubs and clubs to retain poker machines, while Labor wants to transition the industry out of pubs and clubs and restrict it to casinos.  In this Labor has largely fallen into line with long-standing Greens policy, and the Lambie Network is also anti-pokies.

Majority government is an issue in almost every Tasmanian election campaign, and at this one each side will be keen to insist that it can govern in majority, or at least that its opposition can't.  The issue is especially acute for Labor both because of the difficulty they have in convincing voters they can win outright and also because of their recent history of governing with the Greens.

Other issues likely to come up include salmon farming (unpopular in areas where it is planned, and an environmental issue in Macquarie Harbour), forestry (another perennial, this time in the form of the government's plans to re-open temporary reserves left over from the previous government's much-hated "peace deal" for logging), education and infrastructure.  At this stage, the majors are in lock step on introducing light rail to Hobart's northern suburbs.

The Strategy

The Liberal Government will not be able to run purely on its record at this election.  After a mixed bag of a first term it will also need to drag voters away from the popular Opposition Leader Rebecca White by scaring them off a return to Labor.  A vote for Labor is being portrayed as a vote for another Labor-Greens government, and also a vote for job losses as a result of Labor's anti-pokies campaign.  The government is also attacking White as too inexperienced (replicating the L-plate Latham imagery from the 2004 federal election, albeit less effectively without the alliteration), though defenders of White may consider such arguments against an MP with eight years' experience to be sexist.

Labor will try to make it clear that they will not go into government with the Greens, but what exactly then happens should no party win a majority is a road that has not been mapped out.  Thus far Labor have said they will not do deals with the Greens or other minority parties, but have yet to address whether they might accept minority government without any deals.  The Government has also not commented on this, but knows from 1996 that if no party has a majority and no deals are done, it will be left holding the baby.

As of 23 Jan, the government has seized on comments by Jacqui Lambie about friendly relations between her (when she was a Senator) and Rebecca White to allege a deal between Labor and the Lambie Network is impending should the Network gain the balance of power.  No actual evidence of a deal has been presented and Lambie says she has also met on similar levels with Liberal politicians.

The Labor Opposition is attacking the Government by linking it to the federal Turnbull government, which was making Tasmanians feel vulnerable before the 2016 federal election (where the Liberal result was appalling) and has since been accused of ignoring the state.  Labor is also attacking the government over the health and housing situations (both of which it labels as crises).

Oxygen sources for the Greens at this election are few and far between, with a left-wing young female Labor leader likely to appeal to their voters and Labor having covered them off more than they'd have expected on pokies.  Salmon farming has been one issue that has offered them chances to expand their base, but polls don't suggest much success there so far.  The Greens have come up with a striking advertising hook however - reworking one of yours truly's least favourite songs of all time.  (Imagine (insert issue), it's easy if you try.)

Lambie? Strategy? I'm sorry, what was the question?

The Debates

Negotiations for a TCCI debate currently (Jan 21) appear to have fallen through with Will Hodgman refusing to debate against Rebecca White if Cassy O'Connor is also included.  There is a long history of leaders of both major parties refusing debates involving the Greens, though some debates including them were held in 2009-10.

The Prospects

In general it is much harder for state governments to remain in office when they are of the same party as the party in power in Canberra.  Only around half do so, while around 85% of state governments that are not in power federally are re-elected.  However, state governments are also more likely to survive when relatively young.

The Liberals won two seats narrowly in 2014.  In two-party swing terms the fourth seat in Braddon sits on 0.4% and the third seat in Franklin on about 2%.  With polls generally pointing to a swing of at least 9% and the November EMRS as high as 17%, these two are gone unless there is a great improvement in the government's fortunes or a major polling fail.

To retain majority then, the government needs to hold all thirteen remaining seats.  Swings of several percent into low double figures could possibly account for the government's third seat in Lyons, second in Denison and third in Bass, while the third seat in Braddon is at risk from the Jacqui Lambie Network.

The complexities of Hare-Clark may work in the Government's favour in Lyons if it can again split the vote of its three MPs more or less evenly.

Labor has good prospects of winning at least ten seats, but winning three in any electorate will be difficult, with realistic chances so far apparent only in Denison and Lyons.  At the time of writing (19 Jan) no credible path to a Labor majority has been sighted, but the possibility of Labor plus Lambie Network winning a combined 13 seats cannot be ruled out.

The Greens' fortunes appear critical to whether or not the government keeps its majority, since if Labor wins two in Bass and Lyons then the Greens are likely to fight the Liberals for the final seat in both.  However the Greens are struggling for profile in both (especially Lyons) and for this reason if the Liberals can keep the swing down below baseball-bat proportions then they might survive.

Opinion polls conducted in the period 2015-8 has including twelve quarterly EMRS polls, four statewide ReachTELs (one commissioned) and a small number of individual electorate samples.  Roy Morgan Research also polled the state frequently between late 2014 and late 2016 but its samples were small, volatile and conducted using a method that has yielded poor results in other states (SMS panel polling).

Taking into account the tendencies of both EMRS and ReachTEL to underestimate Labor and overestimate the Greens in Tasmanian elections, my interpretation of the polls has varied, but there has been a generally downhill trend for the Government.  In 2015 most of the polls (on my analysis) would have produced a Liberal majority government had they been reproduced at an election, in 2016 polls were evenly split, and in 2017 polls leaned towards a hung parliament.  The EMRS trend tracker shows an especially pronounced downwards trend.  In early 2018 the government released internal polling to try to claim that it had turned the corner. 

The Parties

Beyond the obvious Liberal, Labor and Greens, the following parties are registered or registering and could contest the election as parties:

Animal Justice Party - Applying for registration but intention to run unknown

Australian Christians - Intentions unknown

Jacqui Lambie Network - candidates declared for Bass and Braddon and Lyons, not expected to run in Franklin or Denison.  Note: ex-Senator Lambie is not a candidate herself.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation - Intentions unknown

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers - Running a small number of candidates in various electorates

Socialist Alliance - Intentions unknown and irrelevant

Independents may also run either as grouped (100 signatures required) or ungrouped candidates.

The Betting

Betting in Tasmanian elections has a poor predictive track record.  In 2006 Labor's odds of retaining majority government were as long as $9; not only did they do this, but they did so easily and nearly gained a seat.  In 2014 odds-on favourite candidates to top the poll failed to do so in three of the five electorates.

As of January 19, Sportsbet have for some time displayed Labor 1.20 Liberal 4.00 Green 15.00 to provide the Premier, and for type of government formed Labor Minority 1.22 Liberal Minority 4.00 Labor Majority 17.00 Liberal Majority 15.00.  Some of these are waaaaaay too long and I'll be surprised if they remain as lopsided through to election day.

As of January 23, these odds had finally moved and were now Labor 1.33 Liberal 3.33 Green 15.00 and for type of government formed Labor Minority 1.40 Liberal Minority 4.50 Labor Majority 12.00 Liberal Majority 7.00.

The Gaffes!

Every campaign has them!  Most are harmless but some can be damaging. Gaffes will be added as I hear about them.

* The Mercury goofed its own "campaign" by publishing a 2022 Action Plan scorecard in which it asked the major parties for detailed plans on various issues then marked the Greens as failing on all ten points without having asked them for a similar plan.  

Felix Ellis was accused of a gaffe over this social media incident but in my view it was a beat-up based on a misunderstanding of the material posted, and does not merit gaffe status.

Other Guides and Resources

Note that candidate guides on external sites are not necessarily up to date.  Several links are likely to be added through the campaign.

Tally Room guide, including some very detailed past history for each electorate.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Commissioned Tasmanian Polls

Tasmanian state election season is heating up with regular policy announcements (at least from the government) and rumours that the election could be called this weekend for March 3 (what, not the same day as South Australia again?  Surely too good to be true!)

I expect we will have some public polling before too much longer so we can see if the Liberals have recovered from an utter stinker from EMRS late last year, but in the meantime the shady forces of commissioned polling are out there doing their stuff.  This week Tasmanians were treated to not one but two rounds of robo-bombardment.  A diabolically odd anti-pokies question left many scratching their heads (especially pokie opponents) while reports of the warm fuzzy niceties of the other poll on offer sparked Twitter responses like this:

OK, there was actually only one response like that, but this poll even asked voters if they liked Tasmanian political leaders as human beings!  It also asked if voters thought Jacqui Lambie was good at her job, which came as a surprise to me, because I didn't know she had one anymore.  

MediaReach Liberal Poll

Anyway, the long and cuddly robopoll has seen the partial light of day first, and what this is is a MediaReach internal poll commissioned by the Liberals, with a sample of a whopping 3,000.  Methods details are bereft - I've seen a claim it only canvassed landlines, but I constantly see the same claim about other pollsters who ceased doing so years ago - so there's not much more to say about it yet.  

Now, I'm not sure if ReachTEL weren't available (they're prim and proper about refusing dual commissions if they have a conflict in a market) or if the Liberals just don't trust them anymore, but MediaReach was a novel selection indeed.  This pollster hasn't been seen in Tasmania before and its only previous testable public results have been in the NT, where it was out by about five points 2PP in an electorate poll and a territory election poll.  So what do we know about its accuracy in the Tasmanian or indeed any similar context?  Diddly-squat.  Add to that that it's a commissioned poll that wouldn't have seen the light of day had the Liberals not liked the result, and the only weight I can aggregate it at is zero.  Still, it will be fascinating to see how it scrubs up on election day.

Actually, if I did aggregate this poll it wouldn't make much difference anyway.  Oddly giving results to two decimal places (not that there is anything actually wrong with that) the poll has the following results:

Liberal 41.12
Labor 34.29
Green 12.81
Lambie Network 6.19
leaving 5.59 for others.

Compared with my most recent published state aggregate (from the EMRS piece), the poll has the Liberals up 2.2 points, Labor down 2.7 and the rest more or less exactly where I do.  If these results were accurate, they would most likely point to the familiar story of polling over the term reasserting itself - seats could go 12-10-3 or they could go 13-10-2, and it probably comes down to Lyons.  (Speaking of which, has anyone actually heard from Fraser Brindley?  I've seen no media from him since he was endorsed back in April.)

And that's the perfect story for the Government in terms of the line it wants to play: that only the Liberals can win majority government, but that the election is close enough that every vote matters.  Liberal strategists are reported as claiming they could hold up to 14 seats, but this poll doesn't provide support for that.  Assuming uniform swings, they would need about 49% statewide to retain three in Franklin.  

Not only would the Liberals not have released these numbers if they were much worse, but they probably wouldn't have released them if they were much better either, since nobody would have believed them.  The numbers are therefore totally convenient, but that doesn't mean they are wrong.

(The Mercury's report on this poll, by the way, contains a howler.  The results it claims to have been ReachTEL polls in 2010 and 2014 were actually from the real elections.)

The other thing is that not for the first time, the Liberals are finding that their internals have Premier Hodgman doing better in the beauty contest than the nasty stuff we've been seeing from EMRS.  (As noted in my articles on EMRS, if one treated EMRS as equivalent to Newspoll, one would have sound historic reason to declare Rebecca White Premier already, but luckily for Hodgman the two are not the same.)  The MediaReach apparently has Hodgman up 48-41.4, which by Newspoll standards would denote a struggling Premier rather than a stuffed one, but without any benchmark for MediaReach, who knows?

Bass ReachTEL (updates to follow)

As for the commissioned ReachTEL of Bass, I have seen that poll and, ignoring the pokie troll-poll section, it's fascinating.  Want a lucky number? 58. I will update this article (in the evenings because of work) with comments on such of it as sees the light.

Thursday: The first media report is out for this Australia Institute poll, which finds the Liberals with remarkably good numbers in Bass compared to the general run of recent polling.  After distributing the 4% undecided (the media report just gives the raw numbers), the poll has the Liberals on 49.4% in the seat, Labor on 27.6, the Greens on 10.5, the Jacqui Lambie Network on 10.1 and others on a paltry 2.3.  ReachTEL polls prior to Tasmanian elections have in general underestimated Labor substantially and overestimated the Greens.  The evidence on the Liberals from past polls is mixed (severe overestimates at federal elections but underestimates at the last state election).  Taking all this into account, the most likely reading of the poll is 3 Liberal 2 Labor.  (If the poll is assumed to be exactly accurate, then the Greens' Andrea Dawkins might hang on given that Labor has no obvious number 2 candidate and hence could well suffer significant losses on leakage.  The Lambie Network would be less likely to win because they would be more exposed to leakage issues and would have nowhere much to get preferences from.)

The poll asked voters to report whether Will Hodgman and Rebecca White are the best people to lead their parties.  Hodgman smashed it on this question with a 72.2-14.9 net result (51% strongly agreeing) while White - who EMRS showed as super-popular late last year - did a little less well at 53-36.9.  As well as Hodgman getting a rousing endorsement from his own party here, there was also a pretty strong tendency among Labor voters to agree he was the best choice of Liberal leader.  A cynic might say that Hodgman's strong result here reflects disdain for his party colleagues, but I've seen a lot of reflexive partisan dislike of opposing leaders in my time and I'm not seeing that for Premier Hodgman here.

The Advocate also mentions the issues questions with "fixing the health system" at 37.3%.  "Ensuring a majority government" scored 21.5 and "getting pokies out of pubs and clubs" scored 10.9.  For completion, education on 9.3% and "creating secure jobs" on 21% were the other options.  Probably, education was disadvantaged in comparison to the other options by not being described dynamically - it is usually in the low double figures in such polls.   The well would have been poisoned for the pokies component of this question by a more contentious question about pokies coming before it, but on the other hand the issues question could underestimate interest in pokies issues since a voter who supports keeping pokies in pubs and clubs would probably have picked another option.

I have included the voting intention results for this poll in my aggregate with a weighting of 20% for Bass only, and they significantly firmed up a 3-2 result in the aggregate, though the Greens are by no means out of it yet.  I'll continue reporting on this poll as results dribble out, but I won't release data from any question that hasn't been at least partly reported in the media.

(Note: I will be rolling out election guide material on Sunday and Monday, if not before.  I have a field trip on Saturday.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Johnston Team Routs The Old Guard In Glenorchy Council Elections

In tonight's counting we've seen the sequel to the Kafkaesque demise of the previous Glenorchy City Council, and it's worth briefly explaining what has gone on, if only so that people understand what a provisional distribution is.

Kristie Johnston has been re-elected Mayor with 86.4% of the vote to 13.6% for sole opponent Steven King.  That election has been declared.  I cannot remember a larger win in a mayoral contest in Tasmania, but there has probably been one.  There have been larger wins in Legislative Council contests sometimes.

Matt Stevenson has been elected Deputy Mayor with 56.4% of the primary vote in a field of six.  That election too has been declared.  The runner-up, Simon Fraser on 13.8%, has finished ahead of two incumbent aldermen.  Incumbent Deputy, Harry Quick, has polled 9.6%, a 20-point swing against his 2014 result.  I am unsure if any incumbent deputy has ever polled such a low primary vote in such a contest in Tasmanian council voting.

What is not finished yet is the aldermanic count.  The TEC has released a sample result based on the counting of 45% of the ballots counted.  Also, those ballots have yet to be checked by being entered again.  This is labelled as a "possible result" only, because if the breakup of the 55% of ballots not yet entered is different then the results may be a bit different.  When this process was introduced in 2014, we reliably saw that the candidates near the top of the winner lists always won, but the interim winners in the last few positions didn't always all make it.

In this case, there is a fair chance that we are looking at the final composition of the new Council, because Steven King currently wins the final place by 91.7 votes, and that is a lot to make up with 45% of the sample counted.  There also don't seem to be any obvious exclusion order tricks at the end.  But we do need to wait for the final button press to see if any of the defeated candidates can make a comeback on what remains.

The status of Quick in the count has also caused some confusion.  In the interim sample he is shown as "Remaining in the count".  However, if he remains in that position, he loses.  The term "remaining in the count" means the last candidate left without quota who isn't elected but doesn't have their preferences thrown either - 11th in a race for 10 seats in this case.

In the interim distribution, Kristie Johnston has a staggering 59% of the vote (6.6 quotas).  It may be that an aldermanic vote this high has been recorded on a Tasmanian council but I am not aware of such a case.  The nearest I know of is Terry Martin getting 56.5% in 1999, and that was only an election for half the Council, against a field half the size.

The nearest primary vote to Johnston's is Melissa Carlton's 3%, meaning that the candidate in first has nineteen times the vote of anybody else.  Johnston's surplus in the interim distribution actually elects her most prominent ticket-mates Stevenson and Jan Dunsby, and then the remaining candidates trickle in as others are excluded.  At present, eight of the ten "Team Kristie" candidates win, and only King and Fraser are elected from outside the ticket.  If that holds up, that will make King the sole survivor from the seven-Councillor grouping that dominated the previous Council.  (Four didn't recontest, and Quick and Jenny Branch-Allen are currently on track to lose.)

The results are remarkable even by the standards of the lead-up, but it is worth noting that the Johnston team has run with little obvious opposition outside of their former opponents.  The former majority grouping has been the subject of adverse findings (caution: 313 page PDF link!), and the insurgents have had an excellent run in local media.  Johnston has long had the support of Denison federal independent Andrew Wilkie, and the state Liberal government won't be distressed about this result at all (especially as they can say that they fixed up the mess, and it spares them from having to face Johnston at the state poll in March.)

A few more notes:

* I am not sure why the Greens bother running for this council, at least while Johnston is there competing for their voters.  Their two candidates in this case so far have a combined 1.7%.

* The informal vote on the Councillor ballots currently appears to be extremely low at only 1.3%.  It will be interesting to see if this remains the case or perhaps if obvious informals might not have been included in the initial data entry.  If it does remain this low then a possible explanation is a high number of voters voting 1-10 for the Team Kristie candidates.

* Turnout was quite high at 54%.  Aside from the apparent interest among voters in putting the nonsense of the past few years to rest, it's logical that while this would have been a very bad time for some voters (my concern about holding an election at this time), it would also have been a good time for many who had more time to vote because of time off work.

I'll add a note on the final result when the final button is pressed in a few days.

Final result: Nothing changed in the winner list.  Johnston's final primary was 58.4%. Oh and informal votes finished at 5.3% so my suspicion some were being held back there was correct.  Too high since most would have been unintentional.