Well, my prediction of 9 Labor, 10 Liberal and 6 Greens was a bit off the pace. I admit it: I got seduced by the late polling that pointed to a complete bath for Labor. My main sin was to fall into the trap that the Green vote would be in the mid-twenties state wide, with two quotas in Denison.
But maybe the polls were right. Maybe the Labor scare campaign in the last week did bite enough to knock 3-4 percentage points off the Green top; those who would have been first-time Green voters.
So the result for Labor was not as bad as the 18% swing away I, and the late polls, were predicating, but by any standards the eventual 12% is still diabolical. It is interesting that the Mercury’s Sue Neales reports that premier Bartlett appears quite up-beat about the result. It is as if it was a toss he wanted to lose – if he couldn’t get a majority, he seems to be saying, better to go into opposition and wait for the Liberals and Greens, fumbling in minority government, to be punished at the next election.
The result was no great shakes for the Liberals, either. Considering the state of Labor after twelve long years in office, the Will Hodgman led Libs’ 7.5% gain on their 2006 effort must be considered under par. The Greens got the rest of Labor’s loss, scoring over twenty percent for the first time.
Back to Labor. The swing against Labor was the worst in three decades. One needs to go back to 1982 when Robin Gray’s Liberals swept a Labor government aside, fractured by Doug Lowe’s resignation and the Franklin Dam debate. In that election, Labor shed 17% of its vote to land with a thump on 35% – not far below the 37% where Bartlett now has them.
Bartlett’s main problem might be that his position is not personally strong. His own vote, 8,000 primaries in 2006 and 10,000 in 2010 as premier is way below any recent “popular” premier. (Even Holgate – Harry Who? – in the 1982 drubbing, managed over a quota.) The polls leading up to this election had his preferred premier rating trailing both Will Hodgman and Nick McKim. How vulnerable is he from a coup from within? Will the Left of the party, led by Lara Giddings and the two O’Byrnes, sit quietly and let government slip from their fingers all for not at least talking to the Greens? Will they see a stint in opposition, led by a relatively unpopular leader, as the best way forward from here?
If Labor’s tactic is to sit back and let the Libs make a hash of minority, then that is a big risk. It relies on history repeating itself for a third time. If Field’s minority government was tragedy, and Rundle’s was farce, then Hodgman’s just might be …. Well, he might be third time lucky. Hodgman himself appears to backing away from his pre-election “no deals with the Greens” stance and is setting the scene for some serious Green horse trading.
With postal votes then preference distribution to come, there are five possible make-ups for the next parliament (Labor/Liberal/Green/Wilkie):
In theory, the parties can start their discussions now because any combination of Labor and Green or Liberal and Green provides a majority. Andrew Wilkie, if elected, cannot be “king maker” in terms of his support giving one of the parties a majority.
Kevin Bonham in an earlier TT item does his usual excellent and exhaustive job in working out all the permutations. There are several seats where there are inter-party battles for a spot, but we will restrict ourselves here to Braddon and Denison where the fights are between the parties for the fifth seat.
In Braddon, it is between the Liberal’s Brett Whiteley and the Greens’ Paul O’Halloran. I give O’Halloran a 70% chance of winning and Whiteley 30%.
In Denison it is a three-way battle between the Greens’ second candidate Helen Burnet, independent Andrew Wilkie and the remaining Liberal candidate either Andrew Lowrie (most likely) or Elise Archer. I give Burnet 10% chance, Wilkie 45% chance and Lowrie/Archer 45%.
We can plot the outcomes in a table:
Burnet .1 Wilkie .45 Lowrie/Archer .45
Whiteley .3 .03 (10/10/5) .135 (10/10/4/1) .135 (10/11/4)
O’Halloran .7 .07 (10/9/6) .315 (10/9/5/1) .315 (10/10/5)
Summing the probabilities gives us:
Outcomes where Libs have equal or more seats than Labor
10/10/5 .345 (.03 + .315)
Outcomes where Labor have more seats than Liberal.
It can be seen, if you believe my probabilities, that the Liberals have about a 60% chance of gaining equal or more seats than Labor, while Labor are a 40% chance of gaining more than the Libs. This calculation is important, as Premier Bartlett said he will not seek to govern if he has the same number or fewer seats than the Libs.
But that is Bartlett’s view. As I point out above, others in the party might make the case that the two left parties, Labor and the Greens, with a combined vote of 57%, is a sign that the majority of Tasmanians prefer a non-conservative government.
Kevin Bonham on all the distribution possibilities: Braddon could be closer than it looks: HERE
Poll Bludger. Make sure you read the comments for more Bonham wisdoms: Photo-finishes: Tasmania: HERE
Tasmanian Politics blog: HERE
Sue Neales, Mercury:
SPLITS are emerging within the Labor Party over Premier David Bartlett’s decision to willingly hand government to the Liberal opposition if it wins the same number of seats as Labor from Saturday’s state election.
Well-placed sources said yesterday profound differences existed between key Labor players about why the Government should go meekly into opposition when it has as much right constitutionally to govern in a minority as do the Liberals. Rumblings of discontent, HERE