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

The Upper House: A bumper crop

On May 7th Tasmanians go to the polls for three Legislative Council elections, all of which are of at least some interest (Rumney and Launceston especially so). The bounty could have been even richer, but Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest has let the side down by getting reelected unopposed.

With Labor contesting every seat and the incumbent Labor government polling very badly, these seats will also provide good tests of the extent to which Legislative Council elections do or don’t reflect state election voting patterns. I believe that the widespread view that the Upper House is totally different to the Lower House is an overstated one – and for a striking example of this, have a look at my recent lower/upper house comparisons for Derwent.

Rumney

Rumney takes in the outer suburbs of Hobart’s eastern shore, as well as the rural areas surrounding them and the Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas. The seat is mostly comprised of the former division of Monmouth, which was redistributed in 1998. Conservative independent Stephen Wilson had held the seat for eighteen years and it was something of a boilover when independent Labor candidate Lin Thorp unseated him by 65 votes. In 2005, Thorp, as an endorsed Labor MLC, faced only modest opposition from Sorell Mayor Carmel Torenius, Clarence alderman David Traynor and the Greens’ Glenn Millar. Thorp topped every booth but one and with a primary vote of 51% was not required to go to preferences.

We can throw that form book right out the window because this election sees Thorp in a fight for political survival, and the strange thing about the fight is that it’s not even clear who the enemy is. Rather, the feeling that the seat is essentially “open” with the incumbent routinely attracting media labels like “embattled” and “beleagured” has caused opponents to appear from all directions. This even includes an unusual case of apparent friendly fire.

Lin Thorp was generally seen as a fairly successful Legislative Councillor for her first term and a half, but her last couple of years as a Minister (currently for Education and Skills, Children, and Police and Emergency Management) have been endlessly troublesome. The defining incident of Thorp’s recent career has been the grimly Tasmanian tragedy of a 12-year old girl prostituted against her will to around 100 men. Not only has Thorp had to admit that the government failed the girl in question (a failure that in my view began with a gutless backflip on sex industry reform in the Judy Jackson era) but controversy over the recommendations of then Children’s Commissioner Paul Mason, and over his replacement, has continued to plague her re-election attempts, and created disputes about her campaign tactics. She was forced to apologise to Mason and had to fend off speculation that she had breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct. Accusations of junketing haven’t helped, and Thorp is now a regular target for Opposition claims of “incompetence” in some portfolio or other.

Thorp could have been the subject of either a censure or a no confidence motion had the Liberals and Greens agreed on one or the other (the fear of the latter even causing the Premier to melodramatically threaten a new election that Labor would have been annihilated in). Thorp’s cause then wasn’t helped by Doug Parkinson reopening the issue, and even the most recent finding clearing her of wrongdoing or bias over the replacement of Mason was not entirely complimentary in competence terms.

Something else we can discard with Thorp’s past form is the perception of Rumney as a particularly Labor-oriented electorate. Not anymore. While then state Liberal director Jonathan Hawkes described it as “traditionally a strong Labor seat” the 2010 lower house booth results showed that state Labor support there right now is only around the state average. The electorate is actually quite a mixed bag. It includes diehard Labor areas like Clarendon Vale (67% Labor vote) and Rokeby (56), and Labor support in the Sorell area booths is also typically well into the forties (58 at Primrose Sands). However, the areas surrounding outer Clarence are a wasteland for the party, with Liberal-voting rural and high-income demographics and Green-voting treechangers bombing the Labor primary into a distant third at booths like Seven Mile Beach (21), Sandford (21), South Arm (22) and Cambridge (24). Booths on the peninsulas vary with Labor topping some comfortably but others narrowly in the Liberals’ favour.

The Greens topped the Sandford booth with 42% in the 2010 lower house election, and also did well at South Arm (36) and were in the low 30s at Dodges Ferry, Dunalley, Lauderdale, Seven Mile Beach and Taranna. Overall the Greens now poll quite well in Rumney, running over three points above their state average. Their candidate is former teacher and now “tourism accommodation manager” Penelope Ann, who was a minor candidate for Denison in 2010 polling 811 votes, but lives in Risdon Cove. Her candidacy was announced on March 19.

The Liberals were strongest in 2010 in Cambridge (48), Seven Mile Beach (47), Richmond (43) and Lauderdale and South Arm (41). Overall their vote was a few points below the state average, dragged down by the predictable wipeout in low-income Clarendon Vale (21) and by Labor’s strength on the Sorell fringes. But in the current situation, with the Labor minority government recording worst-ever polling and a sitting member under severe fire, the seat is winnable for a Liberal-aligned candidate. The Liberals have declined to endorse anyone, but Liberal Tony Mulder is running as a not-even-thinly-disguised Independent, complete with recycled signs from his 2010 state campaign.

As Liberals go (endorsed or otherwise), Mulder is an unusual candidate. A former police commander and current Clarence alderman, he is seen as leftish and unpredictable by Liberal standards and often discards conventions of careful political speech and fires off, in an often intelligent but also forthright and idiosyncratic style. A particularly strident example of Mulder on the loose can be seen here. Mulder has been a solid but unspectacular performer at Clarence council level, but attained a higher profile in the 2010 state election for Franklin where he polled 2106 votes, not far behind second Liberal Jacquie Petrusma on primaries and a decent effort given he was competing against Will Hodgman. Mulder’s name recognition was highest in the Clarence booths, peaking in Rokeby where his share of the Liberal vote was almost twice his electorate average. About 42% of Rumney voters live in the Clarence council area – an area that is better than average for the Liberal vote despite the inclusion of Rokeby and Clarendon Vale.

Another independent with recent party links is Cate Clark, who resigned from the Labor Party earlier this year but is running as an Independent in Labor colours (compared to the new-Labor yellow preferred by the incumbent) claiming that the government has lost the plot and no longer represents core Labor values. Clark, the founder of the Eastern Shore Community Association, has family connections to the Brown/Ritchie clan (indeed, her sister is sitting Labor Senator Carol Brown), and Sue Neales drops hints that there is no love lost (for unstated reasons) between that family and Thorp.

The Liberals can’t contain their glee, claiming this is an unprecedented example of Labor faction (intra-faction, even!) fighting gone completely feral. Conspiracists have even claimed it is a faked fight and that Clark’s real role is as a softener – to allow annoyed Thorp voters to cast a protest vote without voting 1 for Mulder or Mason*. (If that’s the plan it could backfire, since it enables Green voters to validly vote 1 Ann 2 Mason 3 Clark and then stop.) Meanwhile Clark strikes a don’t-mess-with-me pose and informs the Mercury that she has her “finger on the pulse of the community around” Rokeby. That I do not doubt, but what Labor loyalists generally will make of all this, and whether they are ready to ditch Thorp and adopt Clark is less clear. Assuming Clark is serious, she may find that establishing an electorate-wide profile as a first-time candidate encumbered by spending restrictions is still difficult.

Another first-time candidate, whose motives have been even more scrutinised is Paul Mason, an independent with no known party affiliations. Mason, a “family and injuries compensation lawyer” who moved to Tasmania six years ago, is also the former Children’s Commissioner, who failed to win reappointment, and then questioned the independence of that decision. While there has never been proof that his replacement was appointed on a basis other than merit, the idea that he might have been shafted for releasing a critical report about the child prostitution incident has made for endless media cover. This has given Mason a very high profile indeed. Given that the election is about whether Lin Thorp deserves to be returned, and given that that incident and its fallout is high on the list of reasons why she might not, Mason is the high-flying candidate on the issue.

That said, I’m not convinced media-darling status will get Mason over the line. For one thing, his connection to the electorate is weak. Mulder and Clark don’t live in the electorate either, but Mulder is an alderman for much of it, while Clark lives just outside it and has clear community links. In Mason’s case, it’s all too vague and the way the western-shore dweller talks about Rumney seems forced and unconvincing. For instance if Opossum Bay is one of his favourite places, then why can’t he even spell it? (“Opossum” hails from the Algonquian “aposoum” and does not require an apostrophe – indeed our “possum” is the real contraction. I knew you’d all be fascinated.)

It’s also not clear Mason understands what he is running for – his site claims the Upper House seats “represent larger electorates than the seats in the Lower House” (generally false, although the larger size of most Lower House electorates is more than compensated for by each returning five members). He also claims the presence of Cabinet members upstairs means “that votes in the Upper House have ceased to be a review at all” (hardly convincing when only 2-3 out of 15 MLCs are in Cabinet at any time.) I am not alone in noticing Mason’s propensity for overstated and sometimes even strange thought-bubbles; Greg Barns also also found a few choice policy quotes long before Mason became a candidate, and VEXNEWS takes a scathing view of the whole Paul Mason effort. Overall, the candidate seems politically inexperienced, and Thorp tripping over him on the campaign trail seems more an indictment on her situation than any great credit to his.

The final Rumney candidate is John Forster, a “business analyst” from Dynnyrne. Forster ran as an independent for Franklin last federal election, polling 2.8% in a field of four. He’ll probably do better in this one but still won’t greatly trouble the scorers.

It’s hard to remember a case when a Government MLC has gone into an election with so much controversy surrounding them. Indeed, it’s been 29 years since an incumbent MLC with formal party endorsement has lost their seat, so precedent is little guide as to what it takes to unseat one. With all Thorp’s ongoing troubles, and with the Government she is part of so unpopular anyway, she would seem to be up against a perfect storm. But actually, it’s not quite perfect. The one thing that it lacks is a perfect opponent.

I doubt there will be anyone near 50% on primaries in this one, and I suspect there will be a full distribution. If that’s the case, who will be the final two? The Greens are unlikely to be there, although they should do well enough to influence the order of exclusions (unless Mason trashes their vote). Most likely the final two will be Thorp (or if she bombs out completely, Clark) and either Mulder or Mason. If Mason can reach third ahead of Penelope Ann, he might in theory leapfrog home on preferences in the same way as Andrew Wilkie and for much the same reason.

But can Mason even get enough primaries to get that far? Will voters buy a romantic media narrative in which the spurned employee gains poetic revenge on his former employer by defeating her as a political unknown at the ballot box? Even though, but for that history, he would not be a contender at all? I’m doubtful of this, and I think that Mulder is the serious non-Labor danger.

Launceston

Launceston includes a somewhat arbitrary-looking selection of the central, southern and inner eastern suburbs of the city as well as the satellite town of Hadspen. It is being vacated by originally Liberal-oriented (though you wouldn’t really notice it anymore) independent Don Wing after 29 years in the saddle, but in the distant past both major parties have held it with endorsed candidates. Unusually, this year both major parties have endorsed candidates for the seat.

Launceston (division) is very much pro-Liberal. At the 2010 state election the Liberals topped every booth in it, except for three inner-city booths topped by the Greens. The Green share of the vote for the three main parties was around the state average (peaking in the mid 30s to low 40s in the inner city booths but dropping to the mid-teens at Prospect, Summerhill and Hadspen). The Labor vote was only about 31% (as low as around 20 in some inner city booths and as high as around 40 in the southern booths) and the Liberals polled around 46% (peaking with 58 in Norwood and 57 in Prospect and only falling below 40 in the Green booths in the inner city.)

The Liberal candidate is Sam McQuestin (slogan: “Let’s Keep Launceston Strong”), recently the party’s state president. While the connections of the McQuestin name and the saturation poster coverage might make him sound like Launceston’s answer to Eddie McGuire, the candidate’s website reveals he is but a humble retail and hospitality businessman. Apparently, it sounds more flattering than “bottle shop and tavern owner”. McQuestin contested Bass for the Liberals in the 2006 state election polling an unremarkable 1745 votes. He made few friends on TT in 2007 when he referred to soap opera actress and celebrity pulp-mill opponent Rebecca Gibney as a “high-profile example of the retiring or itinerant serial complainers who are holding back Tasmania’s economic development”, who had no “right to tell the rest of us how to live our lives”. This comment was widely interpreted in light of his family connections to Gunns.

McQuestin has been organised and very active as a candidate, arguably even hyperactive. He put his name forward last May and was preselected not long after. This allowed him to advertise heavily outside the electoral spending period. More evidence of advance organisation could be seen in early March, with McQuestin posters abundant on arterial roads in southern Launceston and other candidates then not really out of the blocks. His website has been updated with numerous press releases and he seems to be the candidate getting the most media publicity, especially keen to flog north-south parochialism on issues like sports fixtures and public servant relocation. But can McQuestin actually win? For a contrary view see Sam McQuestin is unelectable. For Anything.

The Labor candidate is Steve Bishop (slogan: “Your Voice For Launceston”). Bishop is a widely experienced local lawyer who has also been a board member of the Launceston and Tasmanian Chambers of Commerce and has worked with the Anti-Discrimination Commission. Bishop comes across as a solid and dependable choice of candidate whose long CV in the area may provide a degree of contrast to McQuestin whose professional life seems thin on detail. However, there is not much evidence of media activity from the candidate thus far, and there is really no reason to believe that any Labor candidate at all should win this seat at the moment.

The more intriguing challenges to McQuestin’s omnipresent campaign come from two local independents. Rosemary Armitage (“100% Independent”) was elected to Launceston City Council in 2005, then won the Deputy Mayor position very easily in 2007, and then ran for the top job in 2009. She narrowly topped the aldermanic poll with over 6000 primary votes, but incumbent Albert van Zetten clung on to the mayoralty by three votes after various recounts. Rumoured as a possible Liberal state election candidate (but rejecting the concept to preserve her independence – a wise decision as the Liberals couldn’t win three seats) Armitage is clearly high-profile and popular and has built a large electoral following very quickly. Whether this is a really serious run or a profile-raiser for local government elections is not yet clear; it is notable that Armitage’s website is very strongly focused on council-level issues.

Lou Clark (whose slogan “Please help Lou Clark Keep our City, Launceston, Independent” is a mouthful compared to the others) is clearly serious, complete with TV ads. Clark recently completed a term as Executive Officer of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce and is the former Launceston Manager of WIN Television. She is also chair of the Festivale Committee and has a fine array of community connections.

As with Armitage, it is not too clear what Clark’s political orientation is (pro-business but otherwise stressing community issues and “evidence based decision making” in a centre-left style manner) and also as with Armitage there is a strong emphasis on local issues. Clark’s name was also rumoured to be in the mix as a possible Bass Liberal candidate but she wasn’t interested either. There is a general freshness and modernness about Clark’s campaign material that should play well with younger voters not firmly in the Liberal fold. At the same time Clark lacks the political experience of McQuestin and Armitage and will need to establish her credentials on issues through the press during the campaign period.

A force (or farce?) that isn’t serious about this one is the Tasmanian Greens. They were to announce their candidate in January, then there was no announcement, then at the end of February, Sancia Colgrave announced that she was the endorsed candidate, except that she wasn’t anymore because she wasn’t actually running. The Greens were expected to announce a new candidate in March, along came April and still nothing. Steve Bishop could be “left” enough to get some of their votes, but I believe the absence of a Green candidate most helps Armitage and Clark, especially Clark, who no longer need to worry about beating the Green primary in order to obtain Green preferences.

With two party-endorsed candidates and two strong independents, this one should go to preferences, and any primary below 20% would be a bad result for any candidate. Clearly there is enough Liberal strength in the electorate for McQuestin to win this easily if Liberal voters are willing to vote for a party-endorsed candidate (and that party-endorsed candidate in particular) rather than for an independent. If too many prefer the independents, however, McQuestin will find that even with a quite large primary lead, he won’t be safe. There should be a strong preference flow from whichever independent is excluded first to the other, and if McQuestin has to hold off Clark or Armitage on Labor preferences he would want to have at least a ten-point lead. For these reasons, the McQuestin camp should be aiming for a 40+ primary. Anything below 35 may well not be enough.

Derwent

Derwent is a large division that includes New Norfolk and the Upper Derwent Valley as well as outer Hobart suburbs and satellite towns on both sides of the river. It is the Labor Party’s heartland in the Legislative Council. It has been held by the party since 1979. Seven times in a row their candidate has won, every time with an outright majority.

The seat was last contested (if you call it that) in 2009, when Treasurer Michael Aird, who is now retiring partway through his term, won it comfortably but less impressively than the previous state election figures had suggested. At the time the mediocre result for Aird was seen as no portent of the coming state election by Sue Neales and an indicator of “no great baseball bat mood” by Peter Tucker (which I agreed with) – while Richard Herr saw the result as portentous and perhaps akin to the infamous Bass 1975 by-election swing which signalled the impending demise of the Whitlam government. Well, Herr was right on this one (though perhaps had Labor run a remotely decent state campaign it would have been a different story). As a form guide for the 2010 state election, Derwent was actually very close.

The 2009 Derwent results of 51.6% for Aird (Labor), 33.5% for Branch (at the time a strategically lapsed Liberal) and 15% for Gunter (Green) were remarkably similar to the 2010 state election results of votes cast for the three main parties in the Derwent booths, which were 55% Labor, 29.5% Liberal, 15.4% Green. This isn’t a coincidence – booth by booth, the results are extremely strongly correlated, and in some they are virtually identical. In the four Glenorchy (Denison) booths, the 3-4% difference between the two elections in the major party votes blows out to an average of about 10%. This is unsurprising since these booths are all on Jenny Branch’s council territory, which would have inflated her Legislative Council vote greatly (and her state election vote by a lesser amount with more opponents competing for votes cast on name-recognition). In the state election her proportion of the Liberal total in these booths was double her electorate average (nearly three times in the Abbotsfield booth which was her best booth in this regard in all of Denison.)

In both elections Labor won nearly every booth in Derwent, and in the state election Labor outpolled the Greens and Libs combined in half of them. Especially strong Labor booths include the working-class areas of Bridgewater/Gagebrook, New Norfolk (especially the northern side) and some of the lower-income Glenorchy areas. The Labor vote bottoms out around the high thirties to low forties in a few rural booths like Westerway, Tea Tree, and Hamilton (the Liberals won these three in 2010) and also in areas like Molesworth and Lachlan where the Green vote goes through the roof, but even the party’s very worst booths in Derwent are no worse than its state average.

After rumours of David Llewellyn, Paul Lennon and other high-profile improbables, the endorsed Labor candidate is Craig Farrell, the Deputy Mayor of Derwent Valley. Farrell’s past electoral form is OK but nothing special. In retaining his council seat in 2007 he did top the poll, but with 15% in a field of ten he didn’t make quota on the first count. Then in 2009, admittedly with the disadvantage of not being an aldermanic candidate, he won the Deputy position with a reasonably close margin (53.8% after preferences) against very modestly-performed opposition. Farrell also ran for the party for Lyons at the 2002 state election, polling a modest 1316 votes as almost all the non-incumbent Labor votes were soaked up by Ken Bacon. It really doesn’t matter because Farrell ticks the boxes as a local candidate who should connect well with working-class voters without creating too much of a backlash, and with some profile around the heart of the electorate.

Jenny Branch is again a candidate, but this time appears as an estranged ex-Liberal. The Glenorchy alderman and former state Parents and Friends president blasted the party in November accusing it of being male-centred, narrowly-focussed, secretive, change-resistant and more. Prior to that she had polled quite well in Derwent (as discussed above) and then polled 1428 votes in Denison (the lowest of the five Liberal candidates). Although Branch announced her candidacy back in November little evidence of campaign activity has been noticed thus far.

The Greens have nominated Phillip Bingley, a very experienced New Norfolk environmental health engineer under whose leadership New Norfolk won the 2010 Tidy Town award.

Central Highlands Mayor Deidre Flint is an independent candidate with a Liberal Party past. Flint was elected unopposed as mayor of Central Highlands in 2002 and again in 2005, won easily in 2007 (polling 43% of the aldermanic vote as well) and then had a vaguely close 57:43 win of the mayor position in 2009. Flint is clearly very popular in her own area, but it makes up only a few percent of the Derwent voter base, and is an area where Labor’s standing isn’t crash hot anyway.

Another Liberal-ish independent is Ray Williams, a New Norfolk retailer and former Hobart Sporting Car Club President who was a Derwent Valley councillor for over a decade, but was narrowly unseated in the 2007 councillor election. Williams stood for Lyons for the Liberals in 2002, polling just 1019 votes, which shouldn’t be held too much against him as that year was a shocker for the party. Williams’ campaign is pushing a “traditional user” focus – the candidate sees “hunting, fishing and associated country past times” to be under pressure from “extreme Greens” who are “taking away the sport and leisure activities that I and many other law abiding Australians enjoy.”

The 2009 and 2010 results suggest that had Derwent gone to preferences it would have been something like 62-38 in Labor’s favour. That’s already factoring in the backlash at the last state election. There could be even more backlash this time around following the Labor-Green deal and because some voters will perceive Aird’s retirement as a cynical superannuation grab, but it’s hard to see it being worth enough swing for anyone else to win, especially without a single clear conservative challenger.

I’m expecting that the Labor candidate will poll a primary of well over 40, the Greens will get their usual 15 or so, and the rest will scatter between the three Liberal-ish independents. About the most excitement we should hope for (and I think it’s pretty likely this time round) is that Labor’s fortunes are at so low an ebb and their candidate low-profile enough that preferences are distributed in Derwent for the first time since (sigh) 1955. Even if this happens, I expect Farrell to win anyway.

I will probably post an update to this article a few days out from polling dealing with the last few weeks of campaigning and any further thoughts I may have on the likely results.

* For a correction of Sue Neales’ comments about Balmain see comment 21 here

First published: 2011-04-16 08:33 AM

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Dave Groves

    May 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Nice work Kevin.

    When it comes to this political stuff….you da man!

    An asset to TT.

    Keep smilin’.

  2. signofthetimes

    April 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I will Not vote for lyn thorp, she has made too
    mistakes
    she has not spoken for Runmey ! But maybe we all
    can take a holiday to England on Tax payers money

  3. Robin Halton

    April 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    #34 That conservative donkey vote could be the means the difference between more of the same or an opportunity for change, Micheal!

    #35 Thank you for your reply Penelope. The only two Greens that I could remember in the last Denison State election was O’Connor and Burnet, both high profile figures in their own right.
    It is all about developing a higher profile as time marchs too quickly towards D Day for the Rumney electorate. Your strengths could be if you can benefit from the Greens recent and commendable approach to the Three Capes proposal in which the Labor government was taking the local tourism rat race approach with the Tasman National Park.
    I am not normally a Greens voter but by hell I would protest if Parks Minister Mighty Mouse O’Byrne allowed 5 star tourism huts with helicopter support creating a Disneyland experience as a part of their Three Capes proposal! I hope that it has developed interest from around the Peninsula!
    The banning of Canal estates is another initiative that you support, it hung around like a bad smell with the Labor Government for too long, thank god the Clarence City tossed it too.
    I think it will the tough for all candidates, I wish you the best of luck with your campaign and I would hope there is positive change whereas a new Member for Rumney is elected to serve Tasmanians in the Upper House.

  4. Penelope Ann

    April 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I draw Robin’s attention to the fact that my campaign was launched by Greens leader Nick McKim on the steps of the Legislative Council on March 20th and was reported in the Mercury the following day. Since then the small number of articles by the Mercury about the Rumney Upper House Campaign (focusing on Minister Thorp and Paul Mason) have either neglected to menttion my name or have got their facts wrong.
    (I previously stood for Denison in the State election and for the Senate in the Federal election, not for Franklin as was reported).
    I have however been busy visiting the electorate and meeting with the constituents to determine the issues are important to them and outline my policies.
    I believe that The Rumney electorate will vote for the candidate who will represent their interests with genuine committment, rather than for the candidate who has the most posters.

  5. Michael Swanton

    April 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    #33.What I think does not matter in the scheme of anything Robin. Michael Swanton.

  6. Robin Halton

    April 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    #32 Ann and Forster came on the scene a bit too late when the other four already had established their footprint! I am only going by what was on the internet a month ago.
    It worries me the the conservative donkey vote will go for a name that they are already familiar with!
    What do you think Michael!

  7. Michael Swanton

    April 22, 2011 at 2:33 am

    #31.Get up off your knees Robin, we have one too many ex police officers already in parliament.You make no mention of two candidates running for Rumney. Michael Swanton.

  8. Robin Halton

    April 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    #29 Thanks for your observations Kevin, every seat is a seat with a declining enthusiasm publicaly for the incumberent Thorp I would be praying that at least ex Police Commander Mulder makes it!
    I dont mind if Mason manages either however he is not a local and that factor could be against him?
    Definitely not Thorp otherwise we are back to where we started with her ministerial hiccups with a continued inward looking Labor government.
    As for Clark, I would doubt that she has the capacity to be of any benefit in Parliament, or for the people of Tasmania, just another de facto nodder for the Labor party machine.
    A cunning move by her sister Labor Senator Carol Brown to have sister Cate running in the disuise as an Independent!
    At the end of the day regardless of alliances change is needed, hopefully Rokeby, Oakdowns and Lauderdale can comprehend that, the absolute bottom line is not Thorp at any cost.

  9. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 21, 2011 at 4:56 am

    7ZR podcasts for each electorate:

    http://www.abc.net.au/hobart/programs/hobart_mornings/

  10. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 21, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Visited parts of Rumney today, specifically Rokeby, Oakdowns and Lauderdale. Signs seen Mulder 17 Thorp 10 Clark 3 Mason 2 Ann and Forster 0. If Clark and Mason were serious threats I would expect to see more signs for them so this is consistent with my suspicion that this is really between Thorp and Mulder.

  11. bazzabee

    April 21, 2011 at 12:14 am

    #26 ” I’ll be very surprised if any signal from the pulp mill “issue” can be retrieved from the Rumney results”. Ten bob to a cold kipper says they try.

  12. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 20, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Launceston candidate videos now up at:

    http://www.examiner.com.au/news/local/news/general/launceston-legco-candidate-videos/2137203.aspx

    None of them outstanding in my view.

  13. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

    I was of course being flippant with my comments about Ruth Forrest’s reelection unopposed at the start of my article. Nonetheless the reason we have three contests of some kind this year is that we have two vacancies and one incumbent who is seen as very vulnerable.

    In general Legislative Council elections involving incumbents are not competitive. Following this year’s polls, there will be either nine or ten MLCs out of 15 who have faced re-election as an incumbent, depending on whether Thorp is returned. Of those, Rattray-Wagner, Smith and Forrest will all have been re-elected unopposed, Hall, Wilkinson and Harriss all re-elected with opposition only from the Greens, Finch re-elected with only one low-profile opponent, leaving only Parkinson, Dean and Thorp (if re-elected) having faced more serious contests. Even in Parkinson’s case the Greens were the most serious opponent and he didn’t have much trouble beating them.

    In the case of Murchison, I do believe that potential opponents decided Ruth Forrest was unbeatable as she was generally regarded as having done a good job. I am not so convinced that all the others have deserved their free or easy passes.

    Re #23 as far as the scope of this section is concerned, perceived needs of an electorate and candidates’ policies addressing these only get covered to the extent that they appear likely to drive voter behaviour. In general I find the impact of candidate policy itself (as opposed to making noise about policy to boost profile) on Legislative Council voting is fairly small, and often largely reflected in existing voting patterns. The comment about voters being sick of the constant focus on the Mason/Thorp bickering is interesting, but I’ll be very surprised if any signal from the pulp mill “issue” can be retrieved from the Rumney results, whatever they turn out to be.

  14. bazzabee

    April 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    #20 For my sins I live in Rumney so Hobart is out of the question. Plus I tend to agree with Justa Bloke (JB) about coming out clean although unlike JB I do think it’s possible to come out clean I think Don Wing leaves politics reasonably clean, Doug Lowe was another as was Michael Tate and I would add Duncan Kerr and while no one comes out spotless it would not be possible in the rough and tumble world of politics.

    To answer your question Bronwyn Why *** in bl88ding? Simple answer is I can’t spell and I type with my toes all twelve of them added to which when I noticed the mistake I thought sod it!

  15. BigEars

    April 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I agree with #17 on most of his posting, but he misinterprets Ruth Forrest’s unopposed re-election as a sign of a too-comfortable system. Surely the main theme discussed in Kevin Bonham’s article was the significant level of competition for the seats he discussed. This site has done much to highlight the terrific work that Forrest has been doing these past six years and it is appropriate that we salute the fact that her electorate has now acknowledged her contribution. A free pass to an incumbent parliamentarian may be a sign of apathy, but I think on this occasion it is a sign of generalised regard for Forrest’s work.

  16. Penelope Ann

    April 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    What Dr Bonham’s article neglected was any mention of the two most important considerations, the needs of the Rumnay electorate and the policies of the Candidates to address these.

    Throughout the electorate I have been told of the difficulties families experience accessing education, work opportunities, health services, friends and entertainment due to the infrequency and expense of public transport. Many areas have no evening bus service and no service at all on Sundays.

    The Greens have consistently called for improved public transport and as a Rumney MLC I will push for more frequent, smarter public transport options.

    The condition of roads and the increasing volume of traffic is a related concern which improved public transport will help alleviate.

    Community services are also of great concern in the electorate and I will fight to prevent any slashing of funds in the coming ‘tough’ budget.

    Throughout the electorate people have expressed to me their anger – anger with the failure of Child Protection but also anger over the constant focus on Minister Lin Thorp and Paul Mason. They say that they feel neglected, overlooked and ignored.

    Many are angry that the controversial Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill is still being considered and may still go ahead despite the clear opposition of most Tasmanians.

    I will oppose the Pulp Mill and I will vote against any government support or approvals for it. I challenge the other candidates to clearly state their position on this.

    By voting 1 Penelope Ann for Rumney the electors will have a representative in the Upper House with a fresh, passionate voice and 100% commitment to the role.
    Authorised by Suzanne Cass.208 Elizabeth St. Hobart.

  17. Justa Bloke

    April 18, 2011 at 3:04 am

    #20, Dave: The answer is a very loud and emphatic “never”. If you get into the cesspit you can’t come out clean. It’s not the fault of the individuals in all cases (although there have been, historically, some blatant crooks); it’s in the nature of the system. We have rulers and ruled and I’m always going to remain among the ruled because I know where I belong. The best thing about our political system is that it guarantees me the right to complain. It certainly doesn’t guarantee me or anyone else the right to be satisfied.

  18. Bronwyn Williams

    April 18, 2011 at 12:25 am

    #20 What the heck, Dave, I’ll try anything once. How about next year when Parkinson’s seat in the Legislative Council is up for grabs? Maybe you’d like to have a crack at it as well.

    PS Why have you replaced the ‘ee’ in ‘bleeding’ with three asterisks?

  19. Dave

    April 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    #11/16 At the risk of stating the bl***ding obvious when some suggests that in Tasmania we have an “abysmal standard of political representation”. I only have one response which is by way of a question – when can we expect to see you stand for election?

  20. Mike Adams

    April 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Strangely, I think the original idea of the Leg Co as a moderating influence, with members having a stake in Tasmania, be it monetary, agricultural or whatever was not such a bad idea at the time, nor is it now such a bad idea to have a really independent body of candidates for the same job of reviewing whatever the plebs in the Lower House may come up with.
    The House of Review was admirably served by the very independent Don Wing and there is no room for any party members in it. No wonder that both major parties spend like crazy to get their hacks elected and remove the level headed scrutiny that the place should embody.

  21. Debate

    April 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Anyone else hear the first of the ABC debates on 936 this morning? Thought Thorp and Mulder were the standouts from a debating perspective. What was Mulder going on about in his closing statement about the the threat to recreational fishing off the Tasman Peninsula? Why did he preference Cate, a hard labor candidate? Was he wise to have done so? Who broke Cate’s leg on the way to the debate!! The plot thickens!

  22. bazabee

    April 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    #14 I’m sorry but you could not be more wrong when you stated that “The Upper House was never intended to be aligned” the history of what was to become the modern Upper House shows quite clearly that the very opposite was true.

    The late Professor of Tasmanian history Lloyd Robson noted in his A History of Tasmania (1991) vol II p. 41/2 that the Legislative Council “was not only indissoluble by law, … it continued in such a way that its members never jointly went to an election”. That was in 1859 and nothing has changed the Tasmanian Legislative Council is the most undemocratic upper house in the Westminster system.

    The Tasmanian Constitution Act 1854 had earlier laid out the eligibility for voting which had all but guaranteed that the Legislative council would not be independent by class which was important at the time as their were no political parties to worry about. Land money and education were the parameters by which one received a vote and land, money and education were required to become a candidate.

    At the very first election two candidates stood in Launceston attempting to represent the rights of the working class Robson notes that they “were annihilated” (vol II p.33) so much so that at the declaration of the polls the two men were pelted with rotten eggs by an outraged landed gentry and middle class property owners.

    Unaligned I don’t think so not then not now and what is worse the upper house is still the most undemocratic house of parliament in the Westminster system. A house whose members have never faced a general election in 152 years and never will unless we the Tasmanian voters do something to change the Constitution Act. We can be certain the members of the Legislative Council won’t be changing anything six years terms are after all far too comfortable for the sitting members to ever see change come from within where else do members get elected without even facing a ballot as Ruth Forest did this year as have many others before her.

  23. Bronwyn Williams

    April 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    #11 Not a ‘cunning plot’, Dave, just an observation born of intense frustration with Tasmania’s abysmal standard of political representation. Unlike Pembroke Bloke (#13), if it comes down to a choice between a douche and a s#it sandwich – which is invariably the case – and neither of them represents my interests, I will happily register an informal vote.

  24. Dana Frost

    April 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Nice editing Linz, sorry about that “thuggish”, it was unladylike of me 🙂

  25. Dana Frost

    April 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Its always seemed to me that the dual combination – Eric Abetz, and Bubba McQuestin, were heaven sent gifts to the green leaning people of the state. Will Hodgman deeply hates Abetz, he has a personal demeanour and polarizing effect on his party. Mr McQuestin’s manner and appearance, and his behaviour towards Rebecca Gibney who while a celebrity, was also a young mother at home in an isolated spot for many years, was inexcusable.
    They won’t even put his photo on his election posters, presumably thinking that might not be a plus.

    The liberal party used to have worthwhile candidates – right back to Kevin Newman and that lady who recently sadly died. You have to keep asking, as with many Labor stalwarts – can they not locate anyone of intelligence or decency? Even the Greens couldn’t locate anyone to stand. Its possible that independents will become a real force in Tasmania, a wonderful idea. Rosemary Armitage, Ruth Forrest, Adriana Taylor – hmm, all women ! The Upper House was never intended to be aligned, perhaps that will again be the case.

  26. Pembroke bloke

    April 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    #9 actually the donkey vote is the most CONSERVATIVE thing a voter can do. Southpark described voting as always a choice between a douche and s#it sandwich I prefer the maxim that the least worst is the best.

  27. Dr Kevin Bonham

    April 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Re #9, the usage of the term “vote for the donkey” is a little bit confusing. A blank vote is not a “donkey vote”. A “donkey vote” is numbering the squares in ballot paper order, typically from top to bottom. A donkey vote is formal and counts, but because of the use of rotation in Tasmanian elections, no candidate gains any particular benefit from it. A blank vote is informal and does not count for or assist anyone.

    Leaving a message telling the candidates what you think of them is largely pointless since the message will only be seen by a handful of electoral officials and scrutineers (that said, both classes may appreciate the entertainment). It won’t be seen by candidates themselves unless a scrutineer sees the vote and passes on the message. You can even cast a valid vote and also write some graffiti, but be careful not to either clearly identify yourself or create confusion about who you are actually voting for. Any vote clearly identifying its author (eg name and address) is ruled informal.

    Thanks to the posters who have commented about the pulp mill factor. I have tended to ignore this because recent elections in the greater Launceston area suggest it is no longer contributing much to voter behaviour. However in a situation with no Greens candidate and a large stray Green vote that has to go somewhere, it could well be that Armitage’s position on the mill makes her the substitute of choice. If that happens she has an excellent chance of at least making the final two.

  28. Dave

    April 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    #9 Bronwyn wants the voters of Launceston to register a protest and vote for the donkey surely if as many of TT regulars have told us time and time again their is a majority of voters across Tasmania and therefore I assume right across Launceston.

    Surely those who do not want, won’t have a bar of and will never accept a pulp mill anywhere on the Tamar River will be voting in overwhelmingly large (winning) numbers for the no mill greens candidate?

    Sorry, I forgot they could find one – well if not the greens no mill candidate another no mills candidate, any no mills candidate.

    Because a donkey vote by the no mill majority would surely not only split their tidal vote against the mill but would almost certainly see a pro-mill candidate win.

    I wonder Bronwyn is this as Baldrick used to say all ” a cunning plot”? If it is please let me in on it as I really do enjoy a good laugh.

  29. Peter Smith

    April 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    #9 Good point but I don’t think this strategy will result in a better class of politicians. Probably just politician returned to parliament with a dozen or so votes.

  30. Bronwyn Williams

    April 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This is an excellent overview of the Legislative Council candidates in Rumney, Derwent and Launceston, and an equally excellent analysis of the possible outcomes.

    However, one piece of very useful information has been omitted. Do the voters of Rumney, Derwent and Launceston know that they can bypass all the candidates, and vote for the donkey? The law only requires that you register to vote, and turn up on polling day to cast your vote. What you do with the ballot paper is entirely up to you. If you don’t want to support any of the candidates, leave it blank, or write a short message telling them what you really think.

    If voters only gave their support to candidates who truly represented their interests, and were happy to withhold their support entirely if none of the candidates measured up, maybe, just maybe, we might get a better class of politicians in parliament.

  31. Peter Smith

    April 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    #6 Agreed. MQ = Libs answer to Brenton Best. Bad move.

  32. TassieGold

    April 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    well, I wrote to Lou about her views and she confirmed her stance (didn’t like the process but supports the mill) so the only candidate for anyone anti-mill to vote for is Rosemary. that will be where my vote is going

  33. Justa Bloke

    April 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    With no Greens candidate in Launceston, I’d have thought Rosemary Armitage would pick up a larger proportion of the (small g) green votes than either the Bishop or his Clerk. Probably a fair few Libs, too, the ones who can’t abide McQuestin.

  34. john hayward

    April 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Damn. I was looking forward to seeing Ruth Forrest going head-to-head against some LibLab golem as a kind of alternative to the cartoons.

    John Hayward

  35. Ken Jenkins

    April 16, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Listening to Rosemary Armitage at the Civil Liberties Australia meeting in May last year, it was evident she thought highly of Tasmania Police. Can’t respect that opinion however I’m convinced she is still against the fast-tracked Tamar Valley pulp mill.

  36. Mike Adams

    April 16, 2011 at 3:02 am

    She would appear to be downplaying the mill.

  37. Roger Cameron

    April 16, 2011 at 1:45 am

    About 1 month ago Rosemary Stated on ABC Mornings she was vehemently opposed to the pulp mill, Lou Clark was in support and previously on ABC Mornings McQuestin has stated he is in support of the pulp mill and he has shares in Gunns via a private superannuation policy, I can’t recall what Bishop’s position was.

  38. Anne Cadwallader

    April 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Astounding amount of information and analysis, we are so fortunate to have Dr Bonham and TT.
    Huge thanks.

    Really good critique of ‘Bubba’ McQuestin too. Though the Facebook page is not really fair play, its chilling that big money could land us with such a candidate.

    Does anyone know – is Rosemary Armitage still anti-mill ? She has been for a long time. All candidates should make a statement on this I think.

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