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


Legco: Labor crushed


Labor has long had no realistic chance of retaining the Legislative Council seat of Hobart, but the magnitude of their latest defeat still takes some getting used to. In historically their second-strongest LegCo seat, one which they’ve held for eighteen years and 61 of the past 79, the party polled so badly that it’s been beaten into third, not only on primaries but after preferences too, by a Green opponent with an ordinary electoral record who doesn’t even live in the electorate.

Perhaps the par score of 25 points for Labor that I set in my preview of this election was putting the bar a few points too high! Compared to far-off 2006, the party was facing the electoral perfect storm of an unfriendly (but elegant) redistribution, a major swing at state level, the loss of the personal vote of an incumbent, and a challenger who even that incumbent at his peak may well have lost to. From a primary vote of 43 points one could deduct five for the first factor, ten for the second, three for the third and the Valentine factor could well account for the rest, or perhaps then some. But even that ignores two points. Firstly, the redistribution aside, the remaining three factors are not independent of each other. The swings that might be produced by any one in isolation can’t just be added together, because you might be counting the same departing voter three times in the process. Secondly, parties are supposed to have some kind of core vote that makes it harder to make inroads the bigger the swing against them gets, but to interpret this result as acceptable for Labor is to argue that there is hardly any Labor core in this electorate, and that you could throw in more swing factors and knock the Labor vote even lower.

So even if a result as miserable as 19% was to be expected in the circumstances, it says some quite unflattering things about the party’s current standing in the electorate, at least when it comes to trying to compete with prominent indies for LegCo seats. To plead that it was always thus is nonsense; it was certainly not so when Doug Parkinson took on and beat an independent incumbent, a previous independent member and the Greens to win the seat in 1994, which was not such a rosy time for the party in state politics in general.

Arguments that this is such a dreadful result for Labor can therefore be countered, but in no way can it be spun as a good one. The benefit Labor has gained is that of trying a new candidate and raising his profile for potential runs in the future, and maybe learning a few lessons in the process. For instance, it’s debatable whether Dean Winter’s attacks on Rob Valentine as another ex-mayor retirement-seeker during the campaign harmed his vote, but they surely didn’t help it, and may have even cancelled out any benefit gained from the energy level of Dean Winter’s campaign. Overall, I think the poor Labor result is mainly explained by the four factors mentioned above, plus still further erosion in general support for the party since the 2010 state election. Another conclusion that might be drawn is that there is not that much support for Winter’s platform of greatly increasing development on Mt Wellington.

The Greens’ result was unremarkable, but it was not as bad as Labor’s. The party has finished second in LegCo seats often enough before (and not just when there were only two candidates) but this is the first time they have beaten an endorsed Labor candidate, either on primaries or preferences. They beat an endorsed Liberal in the same seat in 2000. Generally, the Green vote has not declined too badly. Their primary vote of 22.5 points is down 3.8 points on the primary obtained by Marrette Corby in 2006, but taking the redistribution into account, the primary swing against the Greens is about 8 points. In two-candidate preferred terms Ann’s result against Valentine is almost exactly identical to Corby’s against Parkinson, which means about a 4% 2CP swing against the Greens taking the redistribution into account. A broadly-based independent (especially that one) seems a more dangerous 2CP opponent for the Greens than Labor on paper, so the comparison with 2006 at first sounds acceptable, or even rather good, for them. The first fly in that ointment is that the party’s standing in 2006 was not as strong as, say, 2010, so to use 2006 as a baseline is to write off the state-level gains made since that time (and fair enough too, since they’ve probably already been lost).

The second is that the Greens, however it occurred (which has yet to be clearly established), gained an unfair advantage through the publication of an advertisement for their candidate on polling day, although it is stated on p. 19 of the “Information for Candidates” handbook that this is not permitted. Although Bob Brown has already attempted to take the blame for this apparent bungle, it is not for me to speculate on whether an offence has been committed, if so by whom, and on what action should be taken if one has. My comment is that an unfair advantage existed irrespective of the legal situation and how it arose.

The margin between second and third is currently running at only 2.4 points after preferences. It is not necessarily likely that being the only party to advertise in the Mercury on polling day would have made that big a difference, but it isn’t impossible either. If the margin between first and second were that small and the winner had obtained the same advantage, a court of disputed return would probably order a by-election. There is no such provision for disqualifying candidates from second place, so this little piece of Labor/Green LegCo history needs to be remembered with a little question mark.

Rob Valentine’s victory was a rather emphatic one, with nearly as many votes after preferences as Labor and the Greens combined. It’s true that some expected Valentine to poll well over 40%, but my preview pointed out why this might not be realistic. In the end, his primary vote was much the same as his traditional aldermanic primary vote. The true scale of support for the former Lord Mayor became clearest after the exclusion of the three minor candidates, whose preferences went 55% to Valentine compared with only 22% and 18% to Winter and Ann respectively, and 5% to exhaust.

Valentine did not appear publicly to be doing much campaigning before the campaign period proper, in contrast to Sugden and Winter who had been attempting to build profile for months. There seems to be a pattern here of late – Rosemary Armitage defeated Sam McQuestin who had been active well before the polling period, and Sue Hickey bolted onto Hobart City Council despite only deciding to stand just before the election. Voters seem to be most easily persuaded while their minds are focused on the election, and don’t “lock in” their votes just because someone is making lots of noises six months out. Winter’s attacks on his opponent’s activity level were only going to work if Valentine spent the whole campaign asleep.

While the Valentine campaign was neither long-running nor especially prominent, it didn’t need to be. It did also display the odd departure from the usual LegCo routines of signs, brochure, doorknocking and making lots of noise about irrelevant local council issues. One seemingly left-field move that I suspect was quite effective was Valentine’s call to support the hemp industry. With a few comments on an issue that has relatively little public prominence, Valentine may have strengthened the following perceptions: (a) that he was thinking about state political issues including outside the electorate, and not just about becoming another LegCo “super mayor” (b) that he was still willing to take political risks and (c) that the long years of mayoral balancing act attempts had not taken him away from progressive considerations. I am not sure that Valentine will actually end up occupying the same centre role in the LegCo as he eventually did on Hobart City Council. No longer bound by the pragmatic constraints of the mayoralty, he could end up feeling freer to speak out on issues, and perhaps joining Kerry Finch as something of an Upper House lefty. Certainly his comments on the IGA already point away from the stance of the majority of the Council – no real surprises there.

James Sugden’s result was fairly good, in part due to many Liberals unofficially adopting him as their preferred candidate – probably because the more socially conservative Hiscutt, who polled poorly, wasn’t up to scratch. I thought John Forster acquitted himself well in the debates but again just lacked the profile, party connections or other launching pad to obtain any serious share of the vote.

On a booth by booth basis, Valentine topped every booth on primaries except for Cascades and West Hobart South, both of which were topped by the Greens and are the conventionally highest Green-voting booths in the electorate. The highest Valentine vote at a booth (41.1%) was in his home booth of New Town and the highest swing against Labor (a whopping 28.4%) was at the former member Doug Parkinson’s home booth of Mt Stuart. With Lenah Valley adjacent to both of these it is no surprise that the north of the electorate generally featured both high Valentine votes and high swings against Labor.

The Valentine vote correlated with the swing against Labor and the total swing against independent candidates other than himself. It did not, however, correlate with the swing against the Greens (if anything, the reverse, with the biggest three swings against the Greens occurring in booths with fairly low Valentine votes). It seems that some of the primary swing from the Greens actually went to Sugden, and that with that taken into account, the swing from the Greens to Valentine on primaries was probably about five points (as expected based on competition between them at Council elections). Normally this Green-Valentine swing might have come more strongly from the strong Green booths, but because Valentine was strongest in parts of the electorates where the Greens are naturally weak, it ended up more or less randomly scattered.

A few polling booths behaved strangely. One of these was North Hobart, where for whatever reason the swing against the Greens exceeded the swing against Labor (the second highest and by far the lowest swings against each party respectively). Another was Battery Point West (formerly Albuera booth) where the Valentine vote was much higher than anywhere else in the south of the electorate, and the Sugden vote was also quite high. I have no explanation for the former, but the Battery Point West booth has form as a “post-party” booth; it was one of the few that Andrew Wilkie topped on primaries in the last federal election. Lastly, it is often said that postals benefit the sitting member, which should mean they swing against a party when its incumbent doesn’t recontest. Sure enough, the swing against Labor on postals is currently exceeding that in any booth (even taking the redistribution into account) and the Valentine vote on postals is higher than the Valentine vote at any booth. Effectively, Valentine was the sitting member even before he won the seat.

Reaction has mainly centred on Labor’s performance, and how bad it was or wasn’t. Will Hodgman wasted no time getting stuck into Labor for letting their vote crash from 43 to 19. Given that only about five points of that was caused by the redistribution, Labor’s excuses on that score in response fell flat. After all, of course you can compare results where boundaries are redrawn – provided that you make due allowance for the changes. Labor did, however, have a point in observing that the Liberals had failed to put a candidate forward themselves. Most likely had the Liberals done so, their candidate too could have been scrapping for second and third a long way behind Valentine.

Premier Giddings (and/or her advisors) came up with the odd defence that “Compared to the 2010 State Election, Labor saw a swing against it of about 8 per cent in the seat of Hobart, far less than the halving of our vote that some are suggesting”. But 2010 was an already depleted baseline, since the party had already lost about ten points at Lower House level in the electorate between 2006 and 2010, so this claim did not refute claims about the very drastic nature of differences over six years of decline. Competing with Labor’s attempts at damage control despite having far less need to engage in it, Penelope Ann claimed she had “managed to hold the Green vote [..] and maybe even build on it,”, neither of which in fact occurred on primaries at any booth in the electorate, nor on 2CP once the redistribution was taken into account.

Rob Valentine has hailed the result as a vote of confidence in Independent candidates, which it may well be (there is nothing in it to give Andrew Wilkie reason to be frightened, nor is there much evidence that only Valentine could have won this seat as an independent), but don’t expect a flood of them to replicate it in the next Tasmanian lower house elections.

There is not so much to say about the middle-of-the-road result in Western Tiers. Pro-forestry bipartisan incumbent Greg Hall recorded what is currently a 73:27 margin against his sole challenger, the forestry-critical independent John Hawkins. This was an 8.6 point swing against his very impressive result in 2006 against the Greens’ Karen Cassidy, but I doubt he’ll lose any sleep over it. The swing in my view can be explained largely by his opponent being an independent rather than an endorsed Green, and by the higher profile of his opponent in the electorate. Hall topped every booth in the electorate, with the highest votes for Hawkins being 38.4 at Wilmot, 35.9 at out-of-electorate voting in Launceston (though curiously this was the only booth that recorded a swing to Hall), 34.3 at his home booth Chudleigh and 33.8 at Claude Road. These booths where Hall failed to break 70 are all among the few booths where he didn’t break 80 last time, and conversely the booths where Hall got over 80% this time (Agfest, Bishopsbourne, Elizabeth Town, Hagley and his best booth Sassafras) were all booths where he did very well last time. With the exception of Elizabeth Town (which is Hall’s home booth) the booths that were best for Hall are bad Green booths at lower house level, and the booths that were good for Hawkins (and Cassidy) are strong Green booths at lower house level.

The vote for Hawkins seems to have therefore been primarily a beefed-up version of the Greens vote, but it is notable that the swings against Hall tended to be large in large-town booths (those with >500 voters) where he had generally polled at or above his electorate average last time. They were not necessarily large in small areas with already large Green votes and indeed at Claude Road there was no swing at all. Notable exceptions to the pattern –some are inevitable in a seat with so many tiny booths – included Deloraine (large booth with small swing, but with lower vote for Hall than other large booths last time) and Wesley Vale and Whitemore (small booths with large swings.) Mole Creek was another small booth with a large swing, but one adjacent to Hawkins’ home booth. So it seems that in booths with a long history of anti-forestry sentiment, the anti-Hall vote was fairly close to maxing out for now, but that the big town booths in the electorate are centres of a voting pattern in which the voter is willing to vote for an independent pushing concerns about forestry or LegCo governance, but not for a Green pushing the same concerns. Either that, or receptiveness to some of those concerns has increased somewhat in those areas.

Finally, comments from Labor sources about the defeat in Hobart have in many cases focused on the turnout. The Electoral Office has even been mailing electors cards to remind them the election is on but still many people fail to vote in time – and in many cases it’s probably through disorganisation (at least four potential voters were turned away late at the booth I was observing). This columnist, as a matter of basic liberty, does not support compulsory voting at any level of government, but those who do might reflect on whether a system that allows voters to purchase the right to not vote for as little as $20 (assuming your excuse is not accepted) is all that compulsory anyway. Beyond that there is the age-old question of Legislative Council reform to remove the staggered nature of the elections and increase the chance of them getting more media coverage. Both received very little this time around. The problem, as always, is the following vicious cycle. The Legislative Council will not reform itself until enough MLCs who strongly support reform are elected, but that cannot happen until LegCo reform becomes a major election issue in these elections, and that in turn is very unlikely while they continue to be so low profile. It rather looks like the difficulties reforming the Upper House are self-perpetuating.

However, this is perhaps Labor’s fault. In their glory days the party formally held five of the fifteen seats, and informally held a sixth. Probably only two votes shy of the power to radically reform the Upper House, Labor missed the opportunity to at least give it a big enough shake to ensure that those who had obstructed reform would be accountable for so doing at their next elections. It will be a very long time indeed before the party again threatens to hold a majority in the Upper House, so it will have plenty of time to reflect on what might have been.

Next year’s menu includes Montgomery (held by three-term incumbent Sue Smith), Nelson (held by three-term incumbent Jim Wilkinson) and Pembroke (held by first-term by-election winner, the Liberals’ Vanessa Goodwin.) The outlook for competitive contests in 2013 is a bleak one, unless of course someone retires.

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


  1. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 25, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Following Valentine’s election to the Legislative Council he resigned his Hobart City Council seat, which has just been as expected taken by John Freeman (who Valentine defeated to win the mayoralty in the first place).

    This counter-intuitive outcome results from the impoverished nature of the 2009 aldermanic field. There were only 13 candidates for alderman in that election and of the seven elected candidates, Leo Foley has since been elected to council. This left only Freeman (who lost his seat at that election), three Greens and two other candidates (both of whom polled poorly at that election) fighting out the recount. As it happened only Freeman and the three Greens contested it.

    Some had thought Corey Peterson would have a chance in the recount given that in the 24% of the recount that had a known destination based on the original figures, Peterson was only 31 recount votes behind Freeman (out of 2614). However, I always believed this gap was artificially low because some Valentine voters would have voted 1 for Valentine then down the Greens ticket in its recommended order, and all such votes would go to Peterson. He would not perform anywhere near so well on the remaining Valentine preferences.

    Indeed although Peterson was 80 votes ahead of Wendy Heatley of the votes with a known destination in the original count, by the time all the Valentine votes in the recount had been included that gap was only nine votes. And when the preferences of Toby Rowallan were distributed in the recount, Heatley actually overtook Peterson and the final recount result was a win for Freeman over Heatley with about a 55.5:44.5% split of non-exhausting votes.

  2. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 17, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Thanks Dean. Whatever baseline is used there will be a lot of need for caution and caveats given the unique nature of this contest. So long as all the appropriate cautions are noted (instead of people just crying out “24% swing!”) the conclusions reached are likely to be pretty similar (and similarly vague) either way.

    The cautionary note about a 12% swing against the Greens compared to the 2010 state election is that the Greens usually don’t match the strength of their lower house vote in LegCo polls with more than two candidates (whereas Labor might roughly match it, considerably exceed it or fall way short depending upon circumstances). In 2006 the state and LegCo polls were very close together and the Green vote was about four points lower in the same booths for the LegCo poll. That’s why I’d rather use the Green vote from the last LegCo poll at the same booths than the state vote to find a swing against them. (There were some booths that were not in the electorate last time so I had to model them using State/LegCo comparisons for 2006 from nearby booths that were included).

    It doesn’t surprise me that Valentine would have an 80% approval, though that doesn’t necessarily translate into any given number of votes. I think any real chance of him getting close to 50 went out the window when Sugden made a serious effort.

  3. Dean Winter

    May 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    HI Kevin

    I just wanted to say congratulations on the piece. This and the pre-election one were very accurate and articulate and I thought covered it very well.

    Obviously I don’t agree with all of your opinions, but that’s to be expected.

    I’ll make two comments.

    1) It’s rarely fair to compare Legislative Council elections – espeically after a substantial redistribution. The only time you really could is if there were the same – or very similar – candidates in the running with the same boundaries.

    Here we were faced with a very difficult set of circumstances. I am aware of polling in November last year that showed Rob Valentine had an ‘approval’ rating of around 80 per cent. To get him below (well below) 50 per cent was our number one goal and we did that very well. That was – at least in part – I think because of our campaign about the Legislative Council being a retirement village for former town Mayors, and really asking voters the question “what will Rob Valentine do for this community if elected?”.

    I do think it’s better to compare with 2010 election results. They’re a lot more recent and a better guide – especially given the distribution which has made Hobart the Greenest electorate in the State (maybe country).

    They showed a 12 per cent swing against the Greens and a 8 per cent swing against Labor. That’s disappointing for me, but not unexpected.
    It is also interesting to note that our people picked up a very strong preference flow from Rob to myself. Not that it’s important because Rob’s preferences were never going to be distributed, but it is encouraging that most Valentine voters preferred Labor to the Greens or other independents.

    2) The most disturbing aspect is the low voter turnout. I plan to do a lot of work on this for the ALP in terms of our policy platform over the coming six months. The simple fact is that a lot are confused about whether they have to vote, aren’t correctly enrolled (either aren’t enrolled in their new Hobart address, or have moved but are still enrolled in Hobart) or simply didn’t know there was an election on.

    That’s not good enough, and we have to work to make sure that if we are going to continue with the Legislative Council that it is a relevant political institution.

  4. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 16, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Final results are now up on the TEC site but the number of outstanding postal votes received was small (just 121 for Hobart and 213 for Western Tiers) making the final turnouts 75.77% for Hobart and 81.51% for Western Tiers. These tiny numbers of votes added had no significant impact on the results in either seat.

  5. Eva Ruzicka

    May 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Feedback to No5 James – not petty, an observed pattern detail from scruitineering many elections over twenty or more years. The pattern of male to male preference flow, and away from females can be reasonably deduced, unless of course the male is declared as either a Green or left-ish. If you disbelieve, pick up an election spreadsheet and look for patterns – I have from local government and State. In Tasmania, votes for males tend to preference other male candidates and very strongly in conservative booths, women tend to preference women but only more strongly in less conservative booths or electorates, Green voters finally learned five or so years ago to stick to the script and preference their own kind. If more women stood, and by this I mean over 50% and not just the Greens we might see some change. Heaven forfend, we might even see some better financial ousekeeping in all tiers of government (and this comment derived from the observed behaviour of women in managing household debt and saving).

  6. David Obendorf

    May 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I read Carol Rae’s comment as feedback to a free-lance psephologist.

    Diversity of opinion – what a wonderful thing. Welcome to Taz-mania!

  7. Doug Nichols

    May 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    John Boy, #9, a better analogy would be choosing the main course to be served at an annual dinner where everyone is to be served the same dish. Would you really say “I’ll have the roast lamb or nothing at all”?

    According to #9, yes you would. And you would apparently also say this even if the voting was designed to produce a final menu of, say, five dishes out of a possible list of twenty or so options (which is the sort of thing that Hare Clark is specifically designed to do).

  8. Doug Nichols

    May 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    #9, taken as satire I am laughing at your idea of receiving Gardening Australia when you wanted a Harley Davidson mag! However, taken as a serious objection to the preferential voting system, your magazine subscription analogy fails.

    A magazine subscription is for you alone. So it would indeed be pointless to indicate a second preference if you wanted Heavy Duty or nothing.

    A “subscription” for a politician, however, is for the entire electorate. You’re not the only person making the choice. So clearly, unless EVERYONE agrees, some people are going to have to put up with the elected equivalent of Gardening Weekly.

    First Past the Post takes the simplest possible approach, awarding the seat to the candidate with the most votes. The only advantage of that idea is that it is quick to count on the night. The big disadvantage is that it completely ignores the wishes of everyone else, quite often being a majority of the voters.

    Preferential voting – where there is no clear majority – attempts to take into account the wishes of everyone else (when there is a clear majority the two systems are the same). Imagine a variant on First Past the Post where you tick a single box but you also provide a phone number. Then, if your chosen candidate isn’t successful, you get a call to ask who you would like to vote for instead. The result of such a round of phone calls would be an election run as if the unsuccesful candidate had never stood in the first place. This is essentially the way the preferential system works (except it does it without the phone calls!)

    Given that your chosen candidate was unsuccesful I don’t really see the point in refusing to choose between the remaining ones. The system gives you that privilege – and will heed your choice; it is entirely to your advantage to take it.

  9. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Re #11, it was neither a journalistic report nor an essay. There was no central point; the aim was simply to look at an election result (and the comments made about it) and draw such conclusions as I thought could be reasonably drawn from it, based on detailed analysis of the results. That’s what I do here. Some call it psephology (look it up), although [i]most[/i] of my pieces here are very informal examples of the genre. I expressly do not aim to write for people who are allergic to detail or whose attention spans are less than three paragraphs long. There are plenty of tabloids and websites out there for those who like their electoral commentary in bite-sized single-syllable broad-brush (and generally overly simplistic) pieces. (Thanks john @ #14).

  10. john lawrence

    May 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Without wishing to be presumptuous by answering for Dr Bonham, the point Carol (#11) is to thororoughy subtantiate any conclusions.

    Detailed? Yes.

    Extraneous detail? No

  11. David Obendorf

    May 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    John Boy – yeap! You just might actually elect a candidate you didn’t vote No. 1 for AND were forced by law to give No. 2 vote for.

    That’s how Labor & the Tasmanian Greens candidacy in Leg. Co. elections have a chance: the cut-out candidates hopefully get them over the line via second preferences. With such a high percentage not voting at all in the seat of Hobart (ignorant or protesting) plus informal voters like [None of the above – No Dams – No Foxes!] no Party can take their constituency for granted. In the current reality of toxic politics, an authentic independent will be successful. [Andrew Wilkie proved it as well.]

    Lip-stick on a pig won’t work when you share the slush bucket with a one-track mind old boar! The back-room party hacks may wake up soon.

  12. Lyle Allan

    May 14, 2012 at 4:12 am

    John Boy at #9 seems confused. Hare Clark does not apply to the LegCo elections, which are conducted on a single member alternative vote system, as the English refer to that voting system in single member electorates.

    Mr Boy is totally wrong to blame Hare Clark for the result of the two LegCo elections.

    He argues for first past the post voting. In Western Tiers there were only two candidates. First past the post applied there by default. In Hobart Mr Valentine did secure a plurality of votes, as the Americans say. He would have won under a first past the post ballot.

    For the record I do not support first past the post voting. It can result in candidates with a very small percentage of the total vote winning. A split vote between two candidates with similar views can result in another candidate winning who did not have support from 66 per cent of the electorate.

    Hare Clark has operated in Tasmania for over a hundred years. It is Australia’s best voting system.

  13. Carol Rea

    May 14, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Dr Kevin Bonham – good story but the mass of detail would only appeal to people with a lot of time to trawl though it. Was this a journalistic report or an essay? I think you may have lost a lot of readers by para 2 . So much extraneous detail.
    What was you point?

  14. Dr Kevin Bonham

    May 14, 2012 at 2:37 am

    #9 seems to have confused Hare-Clark with preferential voting in general. Hare-Clark is a multi-member system.

    I don’t understand why some people are that precious about #1 votes compared to #2 or #3 anyway, and would prefer even that we had a system that placed more weight on who the voter thought should not be elected. I know I’m often far more determined to veto those I consider undesirable when voting rather than being that fussed about which of the unobjectionable candidates is elected.

    I should also at this point qualify my comments about turnout slightly by pointing out that I did some further analysis after this article was written. What I noticed was that for whatever reason the Hobart electorate has an especially bad turnout record, with final sub-80%-turnouts four elections in a row. In other electorates, these sorts of turnouts haven’t happened for 20 years if at all. Some of the other electorates are nothing like as bad, while others are not much better.

  15. John Boy

    May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I went to my local newsagent (Charlie) and asked for a 4 year susciption to Heavy Duty;a Harley Davidson monthly. Charlie informed me that I had to put down my 2nd and 3rd choice; Gardening Australia or Macrame for Mothers.I said that if I couldn’t get Heavy Duty I didn’t want any other magazine. He said it was the law and I duly complied. I now have to put up with 4 years of Gardening Australia.Hare -Clarke, no Hair Brained.
    Bring back first past the post; at least you got what you voted for or you didn’t.You don’t end up with Gardening Australia which no one voted for!!!

  16. Russell

    May 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    How many consecutive and worsening floggings does Tasmanian Labor and its support base need to suffer before admitting they have been, and still are, on the wrong track?

    Goodbye Tasmanian Labor, I won’t miss you.

  17. Greg James

    May 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you Kevin, I thought it interesting to see the ALP finally cut up before a Green. The Greens scored 43% of the ALP second preferences (given that 3 other candidates had been eliminated). Valentine the independent captured 57%. Conclusion, that as the ALP vote weakens further, the Greens will not be the beneficiaries, 6/10 ALP voters prefer an Indie ahead of a Green. There may be a lesson here for the Greens in how long they maintain their relationship with the ALP. There may be a lesson for the ALP that their members do not want this relationship to continue. Either way I can rely on the ALP management misinterpreting the data to its own detriment. What other track record do they possess?

  18. Brenton

    May 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    The Tasmanian Upper House should be elected by a state vote not by electorate.

  19. James

    May 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Another well written summary Kevin, thanks.

    #3 Eva, how sad and petty that you have to pull out the female card. Did you think for just one moment it could have been that those who voted 1 for Winter genuinely would prefer an independent candidate before they would have a Greens candidate?

  20. Lyle Allan

    May 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks Kevin. An excellent story, as yours always are. A resident I know who lives in an area near the Sandy Bay campus of UTAS wanted to know why she had no literature in her mail box. She thought the election was for the Hobart Council. I explained that it was for the Legislative Council, the upper house of parliament, and that she would get a vote next year in the electorate of Nelson.

    Staggered elections are good for Independents, many of whom are closet Liberals. They are probably not good for most Tasmanian voters. But reform? Unlikely, as most LegCo members have a vested interest in retaining the status quo. It is after all Australia’s most powerful upper house, with the right to bring down a government in the lower house without facing an election itself.

  21. Eva Ruzicka

    May 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Noted also in the Hobart seat second preferences observed while scrutineering (perhaps a harbinger of the bloodbath of the upcoming State election?). For example, in the other Battery Point booth at St Georges, Greens Ann’s second preference largely favoured ALP Winter, yet ALP Winter’s preferences largely preferred Ind Valentine. The outcome overall if Greens Ann had been cut before ALP Winter may have revealed whether there was a similar trend elsewhere. I agree, Valentine was going to win regardless – the trend of male preference swapping clearly showed both in scruitineering and preference cut up in Valentine’s favour.

  22. David Obendorf

    May 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Labor’s ‘last Emperor’ Jim Bacon had a Plan to dominate Tasmania legislatively. Whilst he was on a roll the plan seemed deliverable – the Leg. Co. dominos fell and Labor picked up the seats it needed to almost form a majority in the Legislative Council. One small problem – the light on the hill went out – mortality over took hubris and the wheels began to fall off the Labor juggernaut. Paul Lennon gets the nod and the State goes backwards there after… and so does Labor’s fortunes.

    The silliest part of this Tazmanian caravan is the Tasmanian Greens actually hitched their green machine to this rickety, old, clapped-out Labor wagon and expect to be dragged along.

    Tweedle dum has found a new cobber.

  23. Baz

    May 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hmmm… “Legco”, eh?
    Sounds like some sort of prosthetic manufacturer.
    I was understandably disappointed when I read the article!

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