Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Kevin Bonham

Another Leg Council no-brainer

Kevin Bonham

Ritchie will get around 46%, which seems to be the standard vote level for an ALP MLC running for re-election against a collection of no-hopers. I will not even be all that surprised if she obtains an outright majority. Issues? Sorry, but there are none. Anti-government backlash? An exaggerated view based largely on dodgy EMRS polls that, for whatever reason, overestimate the undecided vote. Pulp mill? This is the south, hardly anybody cares.

THOSE in two of Tasmania’s fifteen Legislative Council seats who actually remember to vote (habitually, rather a large number don’t) will go to the polls on 5 May to decide whether to reappoint Labor MLC Allison Ritchie (Pembroke) and Liberal-leaning independent MLC Jim Wilkinson (Nelson). Both Ritchie and Wilkinson will be re-elected easily.

A third seat, Montgomery, was to have been contested, but sitting MLC Sue Smith has been returned unopposed. Smith was first elected to the now abolished seat of Leven in a 1997 by-election, polling 37.9% in a field of five and winning on preferences. In the 2002 election for the new seat of Montgomery, Smith polled 51.7% on primaries against three challengers and this result has rightly convinced potential opponents that Smith is quite unbeatable. Even the Greens have not bothered needlessly sending voters to the polls (as they did in an unremarkable result when challenging Greg Hall in nearby Rowallan last year).

In Pembroke, Labor Left MLC Allison Ritchie defends her Hobart eastern shore seat for the first time after spectacularly winning it from incumbent (and then Clarence Mayor) Cathy Edwards in a two-candidate race in 2001. Ritchie’s margin of nearly 54:46 reversed the two-candidate-preferred margin by which Edwards had defeated Lara Giddings in the 1999 by-election, and represented a seat-winning 7.6% swing to the ALP. This swing in what had previously been a Liberal-leaning seat is generally attributed to very strong campaigning by Ritchie and controversy over Edwards’ ability to hold the positions of MLC and Mayor of Clarence at the same time. Notably, Ritchie was, at the time of her election, the youngest ever MLC at age 26.

This time Ritchie faces five challengers, of whom at least four appear to be running to boost their profiles for local government. These four are Clarence aldermen Richard James and John Peers and former Clarence alderman David Jackson, and Hobart alderman Marti Zucco (who resides within the electorate). The remaining candidate is the Greens’ Neil Smith.

James has run in so many elections (variously as a Liberal, Democrat or independent) that it would take several pages to attempt to list them all. He ran for this seat in 1989 (polling 30.5% out of four candidates), 1995 (32.6% of 3), and 1999 (13.26% of 5) but not in 2001. In the 2002 Clarence aldermanic election he polled 9.8% (compare Edwards’ 38.9% even following her defeat as an MLC), a significant drop from the 12.8% he polled in 1999, when he was second elected. Running for Deputy Mayor of Clarence in 2005 he polled 29.63% (of 4) and was narrowly defeated by ex-Liberal MHA Martin McManus on preferences.

Peers has not previously run for Pembroke. In the 1999 Clarence aldermanic election he was elected, polling 6.9% and in the 2002 poll ditto with 6.7%. Peers also ran for Deputy Mayor of Clarence in 2005 when he came third, polling 22.45%.

Jackson has most recently run for Clarence in 2002 (last of 13 with just 289 votes), 2005 (15th of 19 with 293 votes) and Pembroke in 1999 (a remarkably poor 3.3% in a field of just five). However he did have a brief spell on Clarence City Council in 2004-5 when comfortably elected among four candidates for the vacancy created by the resignation of Ald Bill Ryan (indeed he polled more recount preferences than his three recount opponents combined). I am unable to access the 2000 results and determine how this could have happened, but incumbency via recount evidently did nothing whatsoever for his 2005 election chances.

Greens candidate Neil Smith (better known as tree-sitting protestor “Hector the Protector”) has sometimes stood as a minor Greens candidate in state elections, while the colourful adventures of Zucco were discussed in last year’s LC profiles at http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/weblog/comments/why-the-greens-wont-win-wellington/

It’s pretty easy to explain why Ritchie will win this seat by miles. Despite her having five opponents, none can be taken seriously from a psephelogical viewpoint. Ritchie beat Cathy Edwards last time and James, Peers and especially Jackson are all local government minnows by comparison to Edwards. Zucco couldn’t poll 15% running for a Legislative Council seat based around his Hobart City Council voter base and isn’t going to do any better in Pembroke where he lacks that profile, and the little-known fact of him residing there won’t make much difference to that. The Greens have not yet all that seriously threatened to win any Legislative Council seat and if they can’t get closer than a 40.5% two-candidate preferred result in the greenest of the lot (Wellington) with a good candidate they certainly won’t be winning this with a rather low-profile one.

All that leaves is to have a stab at the size of Ritchie’s vote and the order of the rest. The Greens polled around 15.8% at these booths in the recent state election. In the absence of a declared Liberal candidate but given that Neil Smith is no Nick McKim I’ll assume they get around that here. James polled 13.3% in 1999 but was overshadowed by the ALP and Cathy Edwards. He is even more overshadowed by a sitting Labor MLC but Edwards is not in the mix — I think the latter means more than the former so I’ll cut him some slack and assume second place with, say, 17%. Peers seems to get about 65-75% of James’ vote lately, so I’ll give him, say, 12%. Zucco will be struggling to make double figures outside his home political turf and Jackson will barely trouble the scorers (say 9% and 3% respectively). All of which leaves 43% for Ritchie. Actually I think she will get a bit more than that — my suspicion is that my estimates for Smith, James and Peers will prove too high in at least one case and that Ritchie will get around 46%, which seems to be the standard vote level for an ALP MLC running for re-election against a collection of no-hopers. I will not even be all that surprised if she obtains an outright majority. Issues? Sorry, but there are none. Anti-government backlash? An exaggerated view based largely on dodgy EMRS polls that, for whatever reason, overestimate the undecided vote. Pulp mill? This is the south, hardly anybody cares.

Even more assured of an easy win is Nelson MLC Jim Wilkinson. Wilkinson was first elected to the vaguely equivalent old seat of Queenborough in 1995, polling 33.3% to easily win in a colourful field of nine candidates. He then won the new seat of Nelson in 2001, polling 48.8% on primaries in a field of four to defeat then Hobart alderman Pru Bonham, who ran as an independent but was endorsed by then Labor premier Jim Bacon. Wilkinson’s two-candidate margin over Bonham was slightly over 58:42, and Wilkinson topped the primaries in every booth except Fern Tree topped by the Greens’ Trish Moran.

When the Greens’ Tom Nilsson commenced visibly running for Nelson 2007 well out from the election he would probably not have envisaged being Wilkinson’s sole opponent, but he is. — Nilsson (perhaps best known as an anti-population-growth activist) is a backroom boy rather than an ideal or high profile candidate, while Wilkinson is firmly entrenched in the electorate’s many old boy nets and, while sometimes viewed as a closet Liberal, is sufficiently uncontentious in the apathetic Legislative Council electorate to pull support from Labor, Liberal and possibly even independent soft green voters. The Greens have polled some good results in this area — in 1995 retiring Franklin Green MHA Gerry Bates managed 22.4% in the previously mentioned Queenborough field of nine, while in 2001 Trish Moran polled 17.9% in coming a fairly strong third. However Nilsson has none of the profile of these two and his campaign pitch, with a focus on keeping an eye on the Lennon regime over the pulp mill, has had whatever wind probably wasn’t in its sails anyway removed by Wilkinson doing the same thing and voting against the recent pulp mill bill.

As with Wellington last year, there are always a few signs to keep the most optimistic Greens hopeful of going close in this seat. After all, did they not win six of the fourteen booths in the 2006 state election, securing swings of 9% in Cascades and 7% in Fern Tree where they polled a state-high 64%? Sure, but big swings to the Greens in areas they already polled strongly in were offset by moderate swings against them in larger booths where their base vote was much lower — in particular Kingston (-2.6%), Kingston Beach (-1.9%) and Lower Sandy Bay (-3.4%), three very large anti-progressive booths without which the 2001 Wilkinson-Bonham contest would have been very much closer (although Wilkinson would still have won). In fact in the booths that make up Nelson overall, the Green House of Assembly vote declined from 31.2% in 2002 to 30.1% in 2006.

In the two Legislative Council seats where the Greens finished second last year, their two-candidate preferred vote was around five to six points higher than their 2006 state election primary. Sticking with that one might predict a vote of 35-36% for Tom Nilsson. But bearing in mind that Wilkinson is even less likely to alienate green-leaning but uncommitted voters than a Labor MLC like Doug Parkinson or a pro-resource-industry independent like Greg Hall, I am expecting that Nilsson won’t match this 5-6 point pickup. I’ll be surprised if Wilkinson gets significantly over three to one or significantly less than two to one; for a guess at the margin I’ll try 69:31.

It’s disappointing that two seats that were both fiercely contested in the last two elections have now become relative snoozefests attracting only token opposition, while yet another MLC has been returned without having to face the voters in even a token contest. But this highlights just how easy it is for an incumbent to become entrenched to the point of invincibility if they play their cards right in these relatively small seats.

Kevin Bonham thinks the posters for recently concluded Osaka prefecturals look much more interesting than Tasmania’s dinosaur-house nonsense, even if he cannot actually read them beyond the candidates’ body language. As always all views expressed in this piece are his alone and not necessarily those of any of his many and varied employers, past, present, or future — or of any candidate mentioned!

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Ben

    May 17, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Even though it was only a two horse race Nilsson did very well and no-one should try to take that away from him, or the Greens.

    However it is impossible to draw any conclusions regarding issues from the result. As I said in my earlier letter (written before I had seen Kevin Bonham’s excellent piece)anywhere between 40% and 50% would have been a good result for Allison Ritchie and a good result for Labor.

    Yours Spinozaorama

  2. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 16, 2007 at 3:56 am

    For the sake of the discussion above I can report that Neil Smith did indeed outlast Marti Zucco by the overwhelming margin of two (2) votes (Zucco hence coming fourth instead of third as prematurely reported by The Mercury). The distribution of Zucco’s preferences was as follows: James 1494 Ritchie 845 Smith 488 Exhaust 111. James featuring strongly but Smith poorly in these preferences again backs my contention that these Zucco votes (including his preferences from Jackson and Peers) were probably not general anti-mill protest votes but more likely the votes of Liberal voters unwilling to support either Labor or Green. There may also be some measure of “independent” vote there (eg people who are not pro-Liberal but have strong views against parties in the Legislative Council) but results over the years in other seats suggest that the number of such voters is really not that large.

  3. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 7, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Tom (#35), I didn’t see that many Wilkinson posters; in the parts of the electorate I passed through I thought he had marginally less than you (even though there were some common Green sites where you didn’t have posters). I didn’t see anything like as many posters from anyone as I remember seeing last time.

    I don’t see why you say I didn’t give you credit when I did! In post 28 I described your result as “rather good”. Both you and your party did well in this seat and should be pleased with your result. It’s not that easy to compare it to previous results in this seat as the Greens have never finished second in it before (in Queenborough 1995 Gerry Bates was second on primaries but was narrowly overtaken by Jane Goodluck on preferences and excluded while sitting in third with 28%). However in the adjacent seat of Wellington, the best Greens two-party preferred result was 40.5% in 2000 (Trish Moran) and last year Marette Corby’s 2PP result against Doug Parkinson was 37.4%.

  4. Tom Nilsson

    May 7, 2007 at 2:16 pm


    I take issue with your comment that “the Greens’ high vote in my view can be largely attributed to the rather token campaigning effort made by the safe sitting member.”

    Jim Wilkinson certainly put in more than a token effore into his campaign. He had a very large number of posters up (probably more than me) and he had several fairly large advertisements in the newspaper. He also made sure he got a lot of media coverage (something which was far more difficult for me).

    Given Jim Wilkinson had all the advantages of incumbency and twelve years holding Nelson, while this was my first election campaign, I thought I did reasonable well. Perhaps, Kevin you could give me a little credit for my efforts, as well as the Tasmanian Greens.

    Tom Nilsson

  5. Marti Zucco

    May 7, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Well Kevin it seems that you are the one that’s curious. Neil agrees with me so it seems he may want to have a cuppa with me to work out how we can work out the next step!

    So that gives you the opportunity to canvas the electorates and get some facts rather than assume.

    Happy hunting Kevin; I will await the formal results. In the meantime Neil and I have some real work to do.

    Ciao for now


  6. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 7, 2007 at 2:46 am

    Hey Marti, the whole purpose of psephology (this article appears in a section called “The Psephologist”, although it’s a misnomer since there are actually two of us!) *is* to try to work out why people vote the way they do, and to analyse elections. So I think you are barking up the wrong tree with your complaint and in fact Neil’s post was absolutely on-topic for this section and exactly the kind of discussion it wants more of. Furthermore it was thoughtfully written and quite well argued and I think he made some useful points that add to the debate, although he also made some I don’t agree with.

    One thing I should have added to my post 30 is that in Wellington 2006, Zucco’s preferences *were* distributed and they favoured Parkinson (ALP) over Corby (Green) by a margin of nearly two to one. It would thus surprise me if Zucco’s preferences favoured Smith compared to Ritchie in this case, although it is a different electorate, different campaign (etc).

  7. Neil Smith

    May 7, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Great post Marti.

    But having a cuppa with Dr Kev wouldn’t be my idea of fun, thanks all the same. Let’s both get on with “the next step in trying to send a message to this Government”, if either of us can work out how.


  8. Marti Zucco

    May 7, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Kevin you know I respect your comments. But can I suggest that you and Neil meet for a cup of coffee and discuss your hypothetical.

    This is becoming so boring with both of you trying to determine how and why the electorate voted.

    Maybe both of you should get together and survey all those who voted. That is if you really want to know? This may take some time which may see both of you no time left for your banter.

    The electorate has voted and that cannot change. I am very happy with my result and that’s what matters to me. I don’t really care what both of you are trying to analyse. Give up and let’s get on with the next step in trying to send a message to this Government.

    I doubt very much the sitting member really cares about this silly testosterone charade that both of you seems to have. If I was the sitting member I would be rolling around with sheer laughter.

    So gentlemen make a time and have a coffee and analyse the election all you want.

    I respect the speculation prior to the election and see how close that speculation is to reality. But your suggestions are as interesting as seeking a recount to hope for different result.

    If you do meet for coffee and stop playing silly buggers I will pay for the cupper!

    Have a great day.

    Marti Zucco

  9. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 6, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Talking about a swing against Allison Ritchie of 11% is totally meaningless when in one election she faced one independent (albeit a high-profile sitting member) and in the other four independents and a Green. In fact, calculating a swing on raw primary vote is just dead wrong anyway, and a basic blunder in psephology – swings in seats are typically calculated on final two-candidate preferred vote. We’ll actually never get to see what that was because Ritchie will be elected with two opponents still remaining, but there’s no doubt that on a two-candidate preferred basis there has been a massive swing *to* the sitting member, changing her previously “marginal” seat into a “safe” one.

    Zucco making populist noises and spouting off at the government may have gained him more votes than expected, but these could just as easily have been from Liberal voters as from those with an issue with the pulp mill. I am now rather hoping that Zucco does get excluded instead of Smith so we can settle some of the questions in post 29.

  10. Neil Smith

    May 6, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Given that I was running for Pembroke almost solely as my own protest against the arrogance and lack of regard for due process of the Lennon government (and the fast-tracking of the pulp mill approval process in particular), I am indeed sorry that Allison Ritchie’s (read: Labor’s) vote was not down by more than it was. From my point of view it is a pity that she is actually quite a good local member, and some voters wanting to make a protest against the government machine might have been tugged in two directions.

    Although the swing against Ritchie was only 11%, and there would have been several factors involved, I am not convinced of Kevin Bonham’s assertion that there is “not a shred of evidence of a pulp mill backlash in Pembroke”. Neither can I agree with his easy dismissal of some of the other candidates as “protest” candidates. They were. Even if they were just making “noises” – which I don’t believe – the voters may well still take them at face value.

    David Jackson and John Peers are the first candidates to be excluded (with poor preference flows to me), but they are also (in the order named) the two who least argued for the need for any form of protest. Nor, knowing a little (but not a lot) of the history of those two gentlemen, would I expect their voters to be inclined to preference a Green.

    On the other hand, Marti Zucco and Richard James both emphasised strongly their anti-Lennon-gang positions. Zucco is a very visible figure in the community, and also ran several strongly-worded “democracy not dictatorship” ads in the Mercury, and James engaged in a valiant doorknocking effort from day 1. I suspect that it could well be the anti-dictatorship vote that has buoyed Marti Zucco’s polling (especially as Bonham has not so far come up with any other theory).

    I also suspect that the second preferences of both Zucco and James would have gone strongly to each other, and to me as well. To me much more strongly than those of Jackson or Peers. We’ll never now know how many (James and Zucco preferences) might have gone to Jackson or Peers, now excluded (some would have, obviously, particularly James to Peers as fellow Clarence concillors), but nevertheless, protest voters connecting the dots would be a potent factor in linking James, Smith and Zucco. I might expect to pick up some of these protest preferences of James and Zucco because I made my main thrust fairly clear through leaflets, posters, doorknocking and media publicity whenever I could get it. On the other hand, I was obviously a “party” candidate, and James (whether because of a need to differentiate himself from me, or otherwise) went to considerable lengths to emphasise his “independence” and it’s relevance to the Legislative Council as a house of review.

    Whilst on the subject of disclaimers(!)there are other factors which would clearly count against me (both in terms of primary vote and in picking up preferences) – I was pretty much an unknown, and I didn’t live in the area. I’d certainly not contest a seat outside my own area in the future; it was only what I saw as the special circumstances of this election which led me to nominate. What I did get, of course, is the committed Green vote, as well as (I feel) the protest vote of quite a few people who happened to like my style. I thank all of them so much.

    With Richard James’ healthy lead over me I’ll certainly never see any of his preferences. And as I write this it looks as though I’ll be the next candidate excluded, which would mean that any preference (not necessarily second preference) flow to me from Zucco will also remain unknown. However, Zucco and I are only seven votes apart, and the exclusion order could change with late postal votes. So this space could still be worth watching.

  11. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 6, 2007 at 3:31 am

    Re #27, the “split protest vote” argument doesn’t really hold up in preferential elections, because voters can express their protest however they like and then give a preference to another protest candidate, if they want. This is one of the reasons we have preferential voting instead of first-past-the-post where splitting the vote is a serious problem. In preferential elections, only if the appearance of multiple protest candidates suggests disorganisation on the part of the protesting force (ie the Rochester/Booth situation in Bass re the pulp mill) is it likely that votes may be lost. In this case, Neil Smith, the Green, was the only real pulp mill protest candidate, whatever noises some of the others may have made on that issue. The rest are local government figures whose primary motive for running a campaign they couldn’t possibly win was presumably boosting their profile for future local government tilts. (Not that I would expect them all to own up to that of course!)

    Provisional preferences for Jackson and Peers are up on the Electoral Office website. These currently show that Jackson’s 848 votes split as follows: James 256, Peers 221, Ritchie 160, Zucco 137, Smith 74. Then Peers’ 2049 votes (including those obtained from Jackson) split: James 747, Ritchie 636, Zucco 464, Smith 202. If these were protest votes against Ritchie on account of the pulp mill or other environmental issues, then Smith, the Green, would definitely feature far more prominently in the preferences instead of being a remarkably distant last in both these exclusions (less than 10% in both!). What these exclusions show is that the votes for Jackson and Peers were generally either (i) votes based on local profile for personalities known through council and other connections – these votes may then flow to other local council personalities or to Ritchie – or (ii) Liberal supporters deliberately avoiding voting for either Smith or Ritchie. I expect that the votes for James at least would be similar in nature, and possibly Zucco as well.

    (By the way I am still puzzled about why Zucco got more votes than Peers and may even come third once the cutup finishes, but within three points for each of six candidates is not just “reasonable accuracy” but about as good as psephologists can usually reasonably hope for given all the uncertainties involved!)

    It was especially amusing to see Senator Brown claim Nelson was “not the greenest electorate” in today’s Sunday Tasmanian. He’s sort-of right, but only on a technicality. Actually Nelson and Wellington are very close rivals for that honour based on state election figures. On my (unchecked) calculations, in 2002 Nelson was 0.1 points greener than Wellington but in 2006 Wellington was 0.5 points greener than Nelson. In any case, both are far ahead of any other Legislative Council seat in Green support at state elections.

  12. Gor

    May 6, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Despite the reasonable accuracy of predictions regarding the votes achieved by each candidate, I would dispute the conclusion that Ritchie’s vote was only reduced due to the size of the field running against her.

    Indeed, the opposite could be argued in that the protest vote against her was split bertween too many candidates. Only a detailed analysis of preferences could give clarity in this area.

  13. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 5, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Counting is over for the night.

    Pembroke has gone very much according to my predictions which were all correct to within about three points per candidate. The main surprise for which I have no ready explanation is that Zucco is ahead of Peers, whose vote compared to James’ vote is poorer than normal. As I expected there is not a shred of evidence of a pulp mill backlash in Pembroke, with the about 10% decline in Allison Ritchie’s vote being attributable solely to having a larger field of opponents (albeit rather weak ones). The Green vote of 13.3% is actually a rather bad result in the seat where a higher than normal Green result would have been expected if the pulp mill was really on the nose in a way that translated to the Legislative Council.

    Two-candidate contests that aren’t close can be quite hard to predict. In Nelson the Greens have done rather better than I expected at the start of the campaign, polling a rather good result of 38%. Since Pembroke shows no signs of a pulp mill backlash, it’s unlikely that the Nelson result has pulp mill connotations either (indeed the sitting member voted against the pulp mill bill). So the Greens’ high vote in my view can be largely attributed to the rather token campaigning effort made by the safe sitting member (I wrote my article from overseas and wasn’t following to see if Wilkinson was doing anything or not), but also I suspect I underestimated the extent to which progressive Labor voters would prefer a Green over an MLC sometimes considered to be a closet Liberal. Also I thought Nilsson would prove a fairly poor choice of candidate (despite the catchiness of “Nilsson for Nelson”) but it doesn’t appear that running him instead of somebody higher-profile has done the Greens any real harm.

    Ritchie has won every booth in Pembroke, as I expected. Nilsson has won Fern Tree as I expected, but has also won Cascades and Hobart South (I was surprised by the latter) and tied with Wilkinson in the central Hobart booth.

  14. Ben Spinoza

    May 4, 2007 at 10:43 am

    I have a prediction for today’s election – Allison Ritchie and Jim Wilkinson will romp home but, no matter what the scale of the result, the Greens will spin it as:
    1. A win for them;
    2. A messge to the Government on process & integrity;
    3. A vote against the pulp mill;
    4. A vote against the proposed Ralphs Bay development

    I will make a further prediction – the gullible press will believe them!

    Here’s the bar. In 1995 then Green Member for Franklin Gerry Bates stood for the vacant seat of Queenborough (now Nelson) inquite a big field of candidates. He got 22.5% or thereabouts. The seat was won by Jim Wilkinson who got around 33.35%. Wilkinson got close to 49% in 2001. If the Greens can’t get more than 22% then it is a failure for them.

    In May 2001 Allison Ritchie stood in Pembroke against just one candidate, the sitting Member and former Mayor of Clarence Cathy Edwards, and got 53% of the vote. In a big field like this year if she gets anywhere between 40% and 50% it will be an excellent result for her and the ALP.



  15. Marti Zucco

    April 23, 2007 at 2:32 pm


    Hope you do your bit to help vote out the Lennon puppet.

    What i would like to see is the electors of Pembroke send a clear message to the Lennon gang!

    Marti Zucco

  16. crud

    April 22, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    if the people in pembroke vote ritchie back in they deserve more of the labour party shit.get rid of her.

  17. Tom

    April 22, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Proponents are trying to hang onto the idea and project the concept that the mill is a simple green issue. I don’t believe this is the case. The demographic pissed off by Lennon and the liberals are much wider than that. Given that the two sides do not differ at all, the greens are simply the only viable alternative to consider. I agree that it may not translate to getting rid off Ritchie down south. But it should, and that is my point.

    It took the mill to make me realise that this state, on the whole, is governed by and governed for intellectual giants like Dave (9) who is probably mesmerised by the echoing sound of his own urine accidentally dribbling down his pants into his right shoe in the cold dark and empty room that he shares with all his imaginary friends, all the while a dim little corner of his tiny mind is processing away in overtime trying very hard to locate the source of the sound and connect it to the warm tingling sensation now running down his right leg all the way to his toes. Good luck Dave, sounds like we shell not miss one another.

  18. Tomas

    April 22, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Neil – I appreciate your comments and wish you the best of luck in cutting through. You strike me from your response as a rare MLC candidate – actually standing for something (which I may or may not disagree with) as opposed to the usual reason which is more along the lines as ‘because I have done it before’. MLCs usually dont stand for anything (Terry Martin an exception) other than they had no other opportunity to make this much money, for doing bugger-all I should add. I also appreciate your honesty on the Mill issue – this is the first major opportunity to see if the Government’s doggedness on the issue is an asset or a negative, electorally. Let’s see what happens….. I suspect not much will change. Whether that is voter apathy or the mill issue cutting through will be up for debate.

  19. helen

    April 22, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I’m responding to “anonymous”, who is ignoring the fact that at present we are overusing the world’s resources. In terms of the ecological footprint of Australians we use approximately 7 hectares of the earth’s resources – water, energy, food – to support each one of us. Compare this with people in India who are using about 0.76 hectares, or people in China who use about 1.36 hectares.

    The most important thing is that the global use of resources per person is 2.2 hectares, and the resource allocation is 1.9 hectares, which means that the world’s population right now is living in deficit, shown by the problems associated with our ecosystems – water, soil, fisheries, etc.

    Using this measure it is apparent that we could support far more people on the earth if the western countries reduced their populations, which “anonymous” rejects as an option. There are other choices. The so-called developed countries could reduce their needs to comply with the possible resource allocation or keep on using resources at the current rate so that the earth runs out of them more rapidly.

  20. Anonymous Cause I Want To Be

    April 22, 2007 at 4:12 am

    Barry and Lilly,

    The global population explosion is not occuring in Australia or the west generally, and it’s definitely not occuring in Tasmania.

    Where is the population explosion occuring and why?

    My guess would be that it is in the Third World and I’d say it’s because of improved health and hygeine standards, improved standards of living generally – due to economic growth – and an absence of a cultural shift – yet – which means large families continue to be the norm in such countries.

    If these countries follow the course of economic, cultural and social development of the First World, then their rate of population growth will decline.

    If they follow China’s lead, then the rate of growth will decline even faster . . .

    But I doubt anyone posting here would agree with China’s one child policy, particularly as it is commonly understood to include forced or coerced abortions.

    But tell me Barry and Lilly, how would Australia curtailing its population, further than it will anyway by our ageing population and fallen ferility birth rate, actually help the planet?

    Would Australia – with what less than one-third of one per cent of the world’s population? – be thanked for such a thoughtful act?

    Or would our economy be destroyed and our country left ripe for the picking should any of our neighbours decide they want some of those finite resources?

    I’d really like to see the candidate’s arguments for his anti-population growth position – with some research and facts hopefully backing up his assertions.

    I doubt he’ll be out there sprouting these arguments on the campaign trail – the majority of Green voters are not as radical as some may accuse them.

  21. Dr Neil Smith

    April 22, 2007 at 3:11 am

    OK, Tomas writes: “Well, these MLC elections will be interesting, not because they are an easy way for the MLCs to make a bit of money, but to see if the Mill/Mill legislation issue cuts through.”

    and Kevin Bonham writes (well, almost):

    “Legislative Council elections are dominated by apathy and personality issues. I doubt that one tenth of Pembroke voters know which way A.R. voted on the bill in question…..”

    I agree with Tomas that it will be interesting to see if the issue cuts through – which as Kevin says will only be properly assessible “if the cutup makes it to the last two candidates”. And I accept that the thing which is possibly going to work against the issue “cutting through” is what Kevin sees as the apathy factor.

    Obviously, as a candidate running in large part on the “mill/mill legislation” issue I hope it does “cut through”, and I’ll be trying my hardest to make that happen. I hope the other candidates who share my view will do so too. Sure, we are rivals, but in another sense we are fighting a common enemy. I mean, this Lennon government has really gone just too damn far. Anyone want to argue on that?

    What I do promise Tomas and his ilk is that his assertion “Sort of play they can’t lose – if there is a protest vote, we will be in for self-righteousness at new levels, if there is no protest vote – of course, we will hear, it was never about the Mill or the Government’s/LC role” is WAY wide of the mark.

    We Greens WON’T be going in for “self-righteousness” should there be a protest vote. If there is a protest vote, it won’t be the Greens’ doing – Mr Melon will have 100% brought it down on himself. Nor are we going to make up spurious excuses if there isn’t a protest vote. It might be scarcely believable to the Tomas’s of this world – but there are actually some people in this world who are not primarily interested in personal posturing. We actually prefer to spend our time trying (however successfully or unsuccessfully) to make the world a better place.

    So let’s get to it.

    Neil Smith
    Greens Candidate for Pembroke.

  22. Lilly

    April 21, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Do we have problems with living space, water, food resources, energy resources.
    Maybe not you personally Anonymous, but from an overall world perspective, do’nt we have some problems.

    So how many more billion humans will it take to solve these problems.

  23. Barry Brannan

    April 21, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Anonymous (post #15), perhaps you don’t realize that an ever-increasing population puts strain on our planet’s limited resources? If we stop the population explosion we will go a long way towards stopping many of our environmental problems.

    It is important to think long term. We can deal with minor variances in ages in the coming few years. Encouraging greater population growth is a short term quick fix with harmful long term consequences.

    No matter the population growth occurs, in western countries or otherwise, we live in a global economy and everyone is affected. The planet’s limited resources are shared globally.

    And it is not entirely fair to ask whether an individual wants kids because of their view on population growth. It is important to set appropriate public policy and for everyone to abide by it.

  24. Anonymous Cause I Want To Be

    April 21, 2007 at 3:51 am

    Interesting no one seemed sufficiently interested to reply to this . . .

    `Nilsson (perhaps best known as an anti-population-growth activist)’

    I know this is an accurate description, I’m more interested in what people make of this.

    Personally, I’m shaking me head wondering how someone can possibly hold this view – it’s right up there with the voluntary human extinction enthusiasts.

    We know that we have an ageing population, that we’re going to have enormous problems in the near future funding services for the retiring baby boomers with a diminished tax base.

    In many Western countries their population is forecast to decline. That’s also true for Tasmania.

    This state could comfortably absorb a much larger population – and would if we had the jobs.

    So I’d like to hear the candidate’s anti-population growth argument . . .

    And does he have or want kids?

  25. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 21, 2007 at 2:17 am

    W. McKell (#3) refers to the concept of a swing against Allison Ritchie. Given the relatively weak and motley opposition she faces, I’ll be surprised if the cutup even makes it to the last two candidates (allowing us to truly assess a swing) before she crosses the line, and very surprised indeed if it is closer than last time. However, an easy win for Ritchie (assuming it occurs) should not be seen as representing an increase in support for her, unless she polls an outright majority. Rather, it reflects a relatively weak field of opponents with no one single high-profile threat. (In the unlikely case that it does get close, leakage to exhaust will be a factor worth keeping an eye on with five opponents and voters only required to number one to three.)

    Yes, some electorates are more prone than others to become Labor territory for demographic reasons. Whether that means the voters in them are more or less unthinking than voters elsewhere I doubt. Rather for whatever proportion do think, demographics may underlie what they think about!

    In my view Jim Wilkinson is so well entrenched that any stand on the pulp mill would have seen him re-elected easily. It is true that *within Wilkinson’s specific electorate in the South* (including as it does some of Hobart’s green-leaning middle-class suburbs) there is a degree of muttering about the pulp mill RPDC re-routing that crosses party boundaries. Thus maybe, as regards Pembroke, my “This is the South, nobody cares” should have been “This is the eastern shore, nobody cares!” However, I still think the potential influence of every aspect of the pulp mill issue on voter behaviour has been greatly overemphasised, from the start, and mainly by (a) the media and (b) those who wished it would have such an influence. Legislative Council elections are dominated by apathy and personality issues. I doubt that one tenth of Pembroke voters know which way Allison Ritchie voted on the bill in question, and for the tenth who do there was always her stance on Ralphs Bay to muddy the waters.

    Snowy: whether Ritchie’s use of small ALP logos has anything to do with the pulp mill is anyone’s guess. Bear in mind that Bruce Goodluck used to downplay his Liberal connections when pitching to much the same electorate, with outstanding success in a seat his party otherwise had no business winning. I can’t recall too many other Labor MLCs making such a big deal of their party affiliation in getting themselves re-elected either.

  26. Tomas

    April 21, 2007 at 1:32 am

    Well, these MLC elections will be interesting, not because they are an easy way for the MLCs to make a bit of money, but to see if the Mill/Mill legislation issue cuts through. I doubt it will and I don’t doubt that we will see a lot of excuses from the Greens etc when it doesn’t. Sort of play they can’t lose – if there is a protest vote, we will be in for self-righteousness at new levels, if there is no protest vote – of course, we will hear, it was never about the Mill or the Government’s/LC role.

  27. Marti Zucco

    April 21, 2007 at 1:19 am


    You are spot on with what is the important issue. The question is will the electorate of Pembroke send that message to the Lennon Government. I am hoping they do. I suppose Kevin is saying they will not. To help the hope factor do your bit and spread that word.


    Marti Zucco

  28. Ralph

    April 20, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    >Issues? Sorry, but there are none.

    Hello Kevin, I’m surprised you reckon there are no issues … I figured bypassing the RPDC process was pretty major.

  29. kate

    April 20, 2007 at 4:18 am

    Such a useful contribution to the discussion, that comment Dave. Obviously you are someone keen to engage in serious and intelligent debate about issues that affect us all. I look forward to more of your excellent posts in future.

  30. Dave

    April 20, 2007 at 12:22 am

    Neil and Tom, please shut the door on your way out.

  31. Neil Smith

    April 19, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Tom (at 6) writes that: “I’m more angry than delusional. Not as much at the politicians, they do what they can get away with. I am angry with my self that I chose to invest and live in a country and particular on an Island who’s populations IQ resembles average winter temperatures, in Celsius. Nothing else can explain to me how if not the pulp mill, but at least the deranged way it is being rammed through Parliament does not register with voters. What will?”

    I’m very tempted to agree with all of this. I’m certainly very very angry, and I too don’t think I’m delusional.

    I guess I choose to stay living here because there are still some things I really like about Tasmania. Like, mostly, those pieces of the natural world which are still relatively untouched and in theory “might” be preserved if something momentous ever happens. Every now and then something comes along like the 1983 High Court decision which rescued the Franklin River.

    And the other thing I like about Tasmania is the indomitable spirit of those passionate Tasmanians whose persistence in the face of great globs of disheartening setbacks has actually enabled these little (and dare I say, fairly big) victories to occur.

    What I’m angry about is the way so many Tasmanians can actually be content to sit at home with their “plasma TVs” (another derogatory and not useful stereotype, by the way, just like the latte-sippers) WITHOUT publically expressing their disgust at the antics of the current Labor government, and the pulp mill fast-tracking in particular. If the root cause of this really is “IQ resembling average winter temperatures, in Celsius” we are in real trouble. End of story, some might say.

    But it could be that it’s not ultra-low intelligence – it might have more to do with complacency nurtured by the ever-more-refined bread-and-circuses tactics of the governments and puppet governments we’ve managed to elect for decade after decade. And besides the carrots of the circuses there are a few well-placed sticks which could be (and often are) applied to public servants, among others.

    Which I suppose brings me to the point. The Pembroke LegCo election on May 5th provides an opportunity for one group of 20000 or so Tasmanians to lodge an official protest against the Labor thugs. Their attendance at the booths is compulsory, and their votes are secret. For the first time in ages there is actually an election only weeks after one of the worst abuses of power in Tasmania’s history. The “short memories” syndrome will still cut in, for some people have SUCH short memories – but the message I’m getting is that there’s still a lot of anger out there. A significant protest vote would be a useful “little something” on the road to claiming back our democracy and our island.

    So, please, if you live in Pembroke or know someone who does – I, Neil Smith, want votes. If you can’t bring yourselves to vote “Green”, then vote for one of the independent candidates. But put the Labor candidate LAST, number six.

    If you want to know about me, have a look at my website http://www.neilsmithforpembroke.org

    If this election goes through with nary a blip in the voter support for the ruling gang, maybe it’s time for Tom and I to share a car to Devonport and sadly bid Tassie goodbye.

    Neil Smith
    Greens candidate for Pembroke.
    South Hobart.

  32. Brian

    April 18, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Ivory tower,

    given all Greens are a pack of non-descript no-names with no public image (except amongst their self-delusional selfs), it should come as no surprise that’s what their candidates look like.

  33. Tom

    April 18, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I’m more angry than delusional. Not as much at the politicians, they do what they can get away with. I am angry with my self that I chose to invest and live in a country and particular on an Island who’s populations IQ resembles average winter temperatures, in Celsius. Nothing else can explain to me how if not the pulp mill, but at least the deranged way it is being rammed through Parliament does not register with voters. What will? Comparisons have been made before between Europe in the 1930s to the current political climate in this state. Every day I see proof that the divisions created and manipulated by corporate greed, apathy and self interest are all there. All the mix needs is another lunatic puppet, if we don’t already have one. People should be outraged at Labour, Liberal and some independent so called representatives, anywhere else in the world people would be out in the streets pulling up cobble stones. Yet here, everyone worries only about their next, even bigger shinier Plasma TV, when even $870 will only get you one on credit. I am fully aware that the status quo will be maintained, I just wish people of this state woke up to themselves! I do hang on to a little bit of hope but, considering my self as an example by actually voicing my concerns and anger in ways I have not in the past.

  34. Snowy

    April 18, 2007 at 1:47 am

    Kevin wrote: “Pulp mill? This is the south, hardly anybody cares”.

    Oh, really? Pity you didn’t tell Alison Ritchie that before her posters were designed – would have saved her the bother of shrinking the ALP logo to an invisible size.

  35. The ivory tower

    April 18, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Tom – Im afraid that Kevin is right and you are somewhat delusional about the upcoming MLC elections. With a golden opportunity, the State Government absolutely stinking with ineptetude, yet again we see the Greens bugger-up by running the same old pack of non-descript candidates. A gaggle of no-names with no public image. It happens every election (state, MLC, Federal, local) and they get thrashed every time. One has to wonder.

    There are a few established rules to successful campaigns:-
    1. Its the economy stupid. That is when the economy is good and rates are low, incumbency is always hard to beat. This remains true eveb through scandals as amply demonstrated in the recengt NSW election.
    2. To overcome rule 1, never run a candidate who has no local profile/presence/image. It takes more than a few months to make a silk purse from a sows ear.

  36. W McKell

    April 17, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Thankyou Kevin for another well-reasoned article. In most respects I agree. When I published my lists of “mill offenders” (those who voted for the Mill Bill), it was for the purpose of allowing people to inform their voting. As I stated, there is little hope in a number of electorates that a Mill Bill protest vote will have any significant impact. As you know the voting intentions within some demographics are largely cultural and it would take a minor miracle to sway those with a lesser capacity for critical thinking. In the case of Pembroke the best one can anticipate is a swing away from Rithchie, which one wouldnt normally expect, but will in this case represent some impact of the stink presently wafting from the Tasmanian Labor Party. Ritchie will, however, still win. This will surely be used by the Lab/Libs as “evidence” for support of the Mill Bill.

    The only aspect of your analysis which I disagree with is the assertion that the Pulp Mill is a non-issue in the South of the state. If this were true then I see no reason why Jim Wilkinson (Independent/Liberal leaning) would have suddenly become an environmentalist and voted against the Bill. The fact is that Jim is more than aware that southern Green Belt cuts through Nelson and a vote for the Mill Bill would have been political suicide. Yes the mill is in the north, the the horrendous stink from the process corruption HAS made an impact on members of the thinking public in the south.

    The real proof of the pudding will be in the Local Government elections in October this year. Anti mill forces should use this event as the real testing ground. I have no doubt that the 5 northern Mayors who rushed to support the mill bill at the behest of Gunns will be punished at the polls. I see Iavn Dean being turfed out as Mayor and the resurgence of Alderman Finlay (nee Dickenson). Yes this will have no impact on the Mill, but would send a powerful message – particularly if the federal election is held shortly afterwards.

  37. Marti Zucco

    April 17, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Kevin as always I repect your veiw and do hope for this time you are wrong. We can all hope!

    Tom you can play a role and contact as many people as you know in Pembroke and make your points known to them.

    I am having a go; isn’t that what we do in OZ!


    Marti Zucco

  38. Tom

    April 17, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I hope that Kevin Bonham is horribly wrong!

    I know that experience and maybe some level of science is not on my side, but I still would like to express my wish that the Tasmanian public wakes up to the great duress the democratic process is currently enduring in this state. I also feel that there is an underlying current of dissent running much deeper and wider in Tasmanian than it is predicted.

    If (Allison) Ritchie is re-elected and the pulp mill process and it’s reflection on the democratic process and other looming projects like Ralph’s Bay are ignored by the electorate, this state will sink into a banana republic where everything will be allowed to proceed, provided the cheque book was big enough. I do not wish to live in a society without any moral control, where laws are made to the lowest common denominator. That is not the intended role of democracy and Parliament.

    Again I do sincerely hope that (Allison) Ritchie will be looking for a real job in three weeks time because that would send a clear message to the rest of the fat lazy lot on both sides of both chambers at both levels. I also wish that I would get a vote this time, but looking forward to letting Ivan Dean, Michael Ferguson and Michelle O’Byrne know what I think of their complicit conduct as soon as I get a chance.

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