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


Tasmanian Federal Liberal’s Bitter Harvest: Parts 1 & 2

With the AEC declaring the Senate results for Tasmania and the Northern Territory on Tuesday 27 July 2016, the loss of the fifth seat by the Tasmanian Federal Liberal Party is totally self-inflicted.

Sadly, the previous Senator Richard Colbeck and capable former Minister for Tourism and International Education under the first Turnbull Ministry, lost his seat because his own party organisation listed him in the unwinnable fifth position on the Liberal’s ticket.

Let’s look at the first preference vote results for the Liberal candidates in descending order:

Richard Colbeck: 13,474
*Eric Abetz: 8,709
*Stephen Parry: 1,994
*David Bushby: 1,278
John Tucker: 844
*Jonathon Duniam: 654
[*Elected Senator]

Incredibly, Colbeck, who had the most first preferences; and Duniam, who had the least first preferences, traded places. Colbeck lost his Senate position and Duniam leapfrogged both Colbeck and Tucker to become the fourth Liberal Senator. Thanks to the Liberal Party-sanctioned above-the-line campaign.

According to ABC News today, in an email to Tasmanian Liberal Senate selectors, Senator Eric Abetz attributed the blame to a “failed campaign to save a dumped minister” for his party not picking up five Senate seats in Tasmania.

So who “dumped” Richard Colbeck?

Look no further than his own party organisation and the driving forces behind it.

But this problem is not unique in the Tasmanian polity.

The Tasmanian Federal Labor Party is equally guilty, having placed Lisa Singh in the unwinnable sixth position on the ALP ticket.

She received 20,741 first preference votes, the most of any Tasmanian candidate.

And guess who had the second highest first preference votes after Lisa?

Richard Colbeck.

To be fair about the ill that plagues both the Liberal and Labor parties in Tasmania, here is at the first preference vote results for the Labor candidates in descending order:

*Lisa Singh: 20,741
*Ann Urquhart: 4,465
*Helen Polley: 1,964
John Short: 1,214
*Catryna Bilyk: 1,111
*Carol Brown: 1,074
[* Elected Senator]

In Senator Abetz’s email to Tasmanian Liberal Senate selectors, the ABC reports him as writing: “If instead of funding a destabilising below-the-line campaign, Mr Bovill invested his time and effort in the Liberals above-the-line campaign, empathically endorsed by Senators Parry, Duniam and Bushby along with Councillor Tucker, we would have won five seats.”


There are several important reasons why the Tasmanian Liberal Party got walloped at the recent federal election in both the lower and upper houses.

But before I do so, I would like the numbers above speak for themselves, in volumes! I will revisit this in part 2 …

Tasmanian Federal Liberal’s Bitter Harvest: Part 2

Newsflash: In today’s news …

Tasmania’s health system under pressure as federal funding dries up

Tasmanian consortium misses out on Defence vehicle tender

‘Lack of funding’ sinks Tasmania’s bid to secure HMAS Tobruk as dive wreck

Get the picture?

Canberra’s powers-that-be has sent Tasmania to the dunce corner.

For the next three years.

Is this because Tasmanian voters have wiped out the Liberal stranglehold on the House of Representatives in Tasmania and reduced their Senate seats from five to four?

Would Canberra be that spiteful?

No, it’s a much more nuanced picture, pitting the current struggle between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the renegade flat-earth “wish-Tony-Abbott-was-back” obscurantists that reside in the Tasmanian federal Liberal Party.

Taswegian voters are much smarter and have more sense than the local federal politicians that led them into the recent federal double-dissolution. And, Stephen Bradbury-style, the Labor Party was the last standing, nothing to be proud of.

Why would Taswegians vote for the three amigos that had all noisily nailed their allegiance to the loser, Tony Abbott, when Malcolm Turnbull was now calling the shots for the past ten months?

Why would they buy into the Turnbull-Abetz stouch that pitted the genuine liberals versus the neo-cons?

Had the Tasmanian Liberal political establishment forgotten that Tasmanians rely more on Centrelink benefits than any other state?

And yes, the Medicare scare campaign nailed it.

A closer look at what transpired is that the strategy of the Tasmanian Liberal Senate ticket that “dumped” the pro-Turnbull Richard Colbeck would force the Prime Minister to re-appoint Abetz to the ministry, “because your supporter is gone”.

Bad move.

Abetz and his supporters are yesterday’s men (yes, there are no women) as far as Canberra is concerned.

And now Turnbull has his mandate, so expect the old guard to be purged or sidelined.

Watching Abetz on TV news tonight claiming he was popular was a parallel-existence viewing experience. He only received 8,700 first preference votes compared to Colbeck’s 13,500!

A lame-duck Senator for six years “a la Abetz” will not make Tasmanians happy, particularly since he is on the outer of a winning federal Coalition government.

Expect more bad newsflashes …

*Phil na Champassak co-owns The Madsen Boutique Hotel in Penguin and is a founding board member of the Cradle Coast Innovation Inc whose purpose is switching on innovation in a regional context and enterprise.

Progressive Conversation: EVER WONDERED WHY THE NATIONALS HAVE SEVEN TIMES AS MANY SEATS AS THE GREENS WITH LESS THAN HALF THE VOTES? IT’S ALL IN THE GERRYMANDER. Earlier this week I wrote about inaccuracies in our voting system which are impacting who wins government. I showed how the LNP have held government far more often than Australia’s voting preferences suggest they should – and how if we had used a more accurate model in the 2016 election, Bill Shorten might be PM now instead of Malcolm Turnbull. The reason for these inaccuracies is that the model of voting we use for our House of Representatives is focused primarily on ensuring that every location in Australia is represented in parliament at the expense of ensuring that the mix of political parties in parliament reflects the wishes of the Australian people. The model basically assumes that it’s more important to you that you have someone from your local area representing you than that your representative is from the political party that you support …

• Anonymous but known to Editor: Don’t fret, it’s time to rejoice! Eric Abetz may soon be leaving our shores. His statement yesterday that Kevin Rudd is “a narcissist, a micro-manager, an impulsive control freak and a psychopath” must surely be a wake up call that he too is applying for, and equally qualified to be, Secretary General of the United Nations. Kevin Rudd may have been a diplomat but the Abetz family has a much longer diplomatic pedigree, including Ambassadorship to (Vichy)France.

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


  1. Robin Charles Halton

    August 5, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    #21 Trevor and #22 Simon, Re Royal Hobart Hospital. Simon, it is correct to say that the project was mismanaged by the Labor Green Government.
    Currently the project is in real trouble not having sufficient space to expand to allow for contingencies which are continually occuring causing further delays to what is a doubtful development to improve hospital services for the Southern Region.

    Now that is planned for the University’s Adult Play School (Centre for creative Industries and Performing Arts) to be plonked directly opposite the Hospital on the corner of Campbell and Collins St as it creates a lack of foresight for essential public infrastructure now weighed up against what is less important.

    I will endevour to meet up with Andrew Wilkie at his Hobart Office in about two weeks time when he returns from family leave!

  2. Peter Bright

    August 3, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Leonard at #6 rebukes those offering oversimplifications, yet it’s worth finding out more about the gerrymander such as reading what’s here:

    [b]It’s all in the Gerrymander.[/b]


    [i]”The word gerrymander (originally written Gerry-mander) was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on 26 March 1812.

    “The word was created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under Governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced /ˈɡɛri/; 1744–1814). In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party.

    “When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.

    “The original gerrymander, and original 1812 gerrymander cartoon, depicts the Essex South state senatorial district for the legislature of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    “Gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.

    “The redistricting was a notable success. Although in the 1812 election both the Massachusetts House and governorship were won by Federalists by a comfortable margin, and cost Gerry his job, the redistricted state senate remained firmly in Democratic-Republican hands.”[/i]

    Clearly the gerrymander is a malicious contrivance intended to thwart the implementation of genuine democracy.

  3. Simon Warriner

    August 1, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I guess the resignation of our majority govt leaders pick for Riyal commissioner into child abuse by the NT govt (majority by the way) after such a short time is not chaotic?

    I guess the absolute cluster fuck that is Iraq that majority liberal national coalition leader Howard dragged us into cannot now be described as chaotic?

    I could go on for a very long time but my point is demonstrated.

    The chaos that is the Royal rebuild is down to poor project management resulting from a bureaucracy that has been mis-managed for decades by majority governments, and by a single labor green govt. No independents responsible for that chaos.

  4. TGC

    August 1, 2016 at 12:13 am

    #19 and #20– a good example of “chaotic policy” /outcome as a result of ‘Independent’ influence – the Royal Hobart Hospital debacle from the Wilkie
    B of P days.

  5. John Hawkins

    July 30, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    #18 TGC

    More Independents = Control of chaotic policies

  6. Simon Warriner

    July 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    re 18.that is an assumption, not an equation.

    here is an equation: undeclared political donations = public policy that delivers private gains.

    here is another: party politicians = conflicted interests.

    and another: party politics + conflicted interest = falling party membership

    and one last one: party politics = a path to an inbred and self absorbed political representation.

  7. TGC

    July 30, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    #17- a political equation: ” More ‘Independents = chaotic policies.

  8. Robin Charles Halton

    July 30, 2016 at 1:08 am

    #10 Garry thank you for compiling the Senate voting.

    It amazing the Abetz stands proud symbol of absolute political correctness. Abetz, Abetz uber alles! His ancestory serves him well.

    I did note somewhere in the media ramblings that One Nation candidate Kate Mc Culloch was only 143 votes behind Greens Nick McKim.

    Pity really a One Nation representative for Tasmania could really shake up the “underlying” politics in this state whereas McKim as a far weaker politician (in fact a whimp) simply following Peter Wish Wilson’s lead in reasonable Greens debate and expectations for the parties ideals.
    McKim has a far sooner use by date than expected to be elected again in future campaigns.

    I have a hint of an “Independent” who may run in the next Denison State election in Denison

    Also their is a high chance of “Independents” who could run in both the State and Federal election in Franklin.

    Liberals and Labor both can look out, only an economic miracle very soon can save them from forming a shared government platform.

  9. Doug Nichols

    July 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    #13, if abandoning above-the-line would not be acceptable to the main parties, then do what I suggested in #4: rotate the candidate names below the line, so there is no longer a party-selected preference, but retain above-the-line as a way for people to vote for the party but not for specific candidates (call it a party vote rather than an above-the-line vote). Party votes would convert to a simple numbering down the column, as now, but the difference would be that the rotated names would give each candidate an equal spread of these preferences so the party would no longer control who wins.

  10. TGC

    July 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    #8″ TGC the voters will decide who is elected ”
    isn’t that what they do now- but as I read an earlier contribution from #8 (at #2)it seemed to suggest candidates had to be ‘(pre-) selected’ as ‘intelligent’- but who decides that?
    Mind you- that contributor does come up with some scatterbrained and ill-considered ideas, in my opinion ..

  11. Chris

    July 29, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Consider all youse that if only below the line were allowed and the Robson rotational ballot were used then a very different and voter orientated result would apply.
    If House Of Representatives elections were multi member and on proportional systems, pork barrelling could only be state wide not in marginal troughs and the house would reflect % wise the votes cast with the seats won, but alas can anyone imagine the majors doing that?

  12. Keith Antonysen

    July 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Good suggestions by John and Garry. Now that we only need to vote for 12 candidates it makes sense to stop voting above the line and have voters select candidates below the line. But, such a reform would not be acceptable to the large Parties.

    There would potentially be more informal votes; but, it will take away further from political factions.

  13. Doug Nichols

    July 29, 2016 at 12:16 am

    #10, the problem of simply electing the 12 candidates with the most votes is best illustrated with an example. Suppose half the population vote for one candidate and the other half vote for a mix of the rest. The result would be one member representing half the people, and eleven representing the other half. In what way is that fair? The half who voted as a block really ought to end up electing half the members in line with their common politics. That’s exactly what preferential voting delivers.

    By the way Garry, I read your post on another thread. I agree with you: I am not bothered by Richard Colbeck losing his seat. But I am bothered by the way he lost. The party exerts far too much control. It is the ordering of the names that totally distorts the result in favour of the parties’ wishes. Lisa Singh’s win is truly astonishing. Richard Colbeck came close to a similar upset, and in a sense it would have been nice.

    Abandoning the party ordering of the names on the ballot paper is the way to solve this.

  14. phill Parsons

    July 29, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Abetz appears to have missed the anti-establishment votes demonstrated by the fall in the #1 votes for the old parties.

    How anyone can respect an analysis that misses the fact that of 2 anti-establishment women Senators one was elected and another was the 13th or last excluded candidate.

    He might also note that Labors highest vote in the Senate was for a woman and all elected to the Senate for Labor were women. Half the lower house Labor members are women.

    Eric, you are so out of date, like the old men leading your church in Tasmania.

    If you want to give the Liberals a chance, retire and move on.

  15. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    July 28, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Our 12 Tasmanian Senators in order of election!

    Well, what would a first-past-the-post Senate vote look like in Tasmania? If such a thing were to be decided on first preferences, then here are the 12 candidates who got the most first preferences:

    20741 Lisa Singh Australian Labor Party – huge personal vote, came 10th
    13474 Richard Colbeck, Liberal – beaten on party prefs. by Jonathon Duniam, fellow Lib, with only 654 personal votes!
    11463 Jackie Lambie, Jacqui Lambie Network – very strong personal vote
    8709 Eric Abetz, Liberal – a very good personal result
    8553 Peter Whish-Wilson, The Greens – a very good personal result
    6179 Nick McKim, The Greens – pretty good for a below-the-line personal vote
    4465 Anne Urquhart, Australian Labor Party – a reasonable personal endorsement
    1994 Stephen Parry, Liberal – woeful, only got elected by the above the line ticket
    1964 Helen Polley, Australian Labor Party – woeful, only got elected by the above the line ticket
    1433 Anna Reynolds, The Greens – a good personal result, given the Greens could only hope for 2
    1360 Michelle Hoult, Nick Xenophon Team – she stood up against gambling, well done, got my pref.
    1278 David Bushby, Liberal – they should ‘let him go’

    Labor voters prefer the Labor Party before their actual labor candidates.
    Exception: Singh’s personal vote was astonishing!
    Liberal pre-selectors got it wrong with Duniam (654 votes) party preferred over Colbeck (13,474)
    Greens are always on a tight rope.
    Lambie did well.
    Eric Abetz is popular with Liberal voters.

    Thus on a team/party basis: 1 Nick Xenophon, 1 Jacqui Lambie, 4 ALP, 3 Liberal and 3 Green candidates got the 12 highest first preference votes.

    If John’s (#2) suggestion “Scrap above the line voting for the Senate. No preferences. First past the post wins.” were to be adopted, it wouldn’t necessarily mean a 1-1-4-3-3 result. It would mean that the large lazy above-the-line rump of the electorate would actually have to choose for themselves amongst their Colbecks and Duniams, their Singhs and their Shorts, their Lambies and their Nero-Niles.

    I give a respectful mention to Steve Kucina, of the Citizens Electoral Council who got 4 votes more than me: He had a go and good on him for doing so. I gave him a good pref.

    Finally, I can’t quite get my head around ‘first past the post’ in Senate ‘multi-member’ electorates.

    Postscript: it took me ages to compile this, and now at the ‘point of posting’, I see John’s #8, which is a good comment. Rather that go back to the drawing board for this comment, I’ll post it, while yet acknowledging John’s #8.

  16. Karl Stevens

    July 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Anonymous but known to Editor 7. I think Eric Abetz would make an excellent ambassador to the Philippines. We need somebody like Eric to ensure the Telstra call centers are not taken-down by Duterte’s war on drugs. Apparently somebody just needs to think a person is a drug dealer for the police or anybody else to shoot them, no trial, no questions asked.

  17. John Hawkins

    July 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    My aim with first-past-the-post wins is to do away with party selection and to get some serious players with brains and intellect to stand for the House of Review.

    The Senate does not make policy, it reviews policy in the light of State interests … not as currently the interests of the Lib/Lab governments.

    The original intent of the Senate was the protecting and promoting of the interests of each individual State.

    The 12 with the highest individual vote would to be elected sequentially to be elected they would actually have to actively campaign and explain themselves.

    It is not all that difficult to behave with integrity.

    TGC the voters will decide who is elected – not me nor thank god you.

    This would see the end of the deadwood party political hacks.

  18. Anonymous but known to Editor

    July 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Don’t fret, it’s time to rejoice! Eric Abetz may soon be leaving our shores. His statement yesterday that Kevin Rudd is “a narcissist, a micro-manager, an impulsive control freak and a psychopath” must surely be a wake up call that he too is applying for, and equally qualified to be, Secretary General of the United Nations.

    Kevin Rudd may have been a diplomat but the Abetz family has a much longer diplomatic pedigree, including Ambassadorship to (Vichy)France.

  19. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 28, 2016 at 3:55 pm


    No, it’s not; and it is still ‘not’ if the absurd “ALL” is omitted.

    Counter-ever wonder: ever wonder why such ignorant claims make it to the public sound waves or sight lines? It’s mainly in (note: no ‘all’ in) ignorance, whether naive, uninformed or deliberately obtuse.

  20. Chris

    July 28, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    SorryJohn –“No preferences. First past the post wins”.
    I do not agree.
    Scrap above the line voting and vote only compulsory for 6 candidates or 12 in a DD.
    Use the Robson rotational ballot so that the Party chancellors cannot gerrymander the ticket.
    First past the post can leave up to 65% of voters unrepresented
    where there are more than two candidates.
    Proportional representation reflects the percentage of votes cast for a party and or candidates as a percentage of seats won.
    If Abetz for example was rotated (pun intended) on a ticket then it would become necessary to vote directly for him as a choice not a chancellors 1 to 6 pick.
    At the moment the above the line voting DICTATES the party line.
    Ban above the line.

  21. Doug Nichols

    July 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Re #2, I don’t agree with your solution John. Preferences are definitely a good thing, and first-past-the-post is a poor alternative (particularly for multi-member elections like the Senate). Above the line could certainly go, but I have an alternative suggestion.

    The main change that needs to be made is to end the party control of the order of candidates on the ballot paper. The combination of a party-selected order and above-the-line voting is the cause of the stupidity that saw Colbeck lose and Duniam win. The parties have too much control. Basically three or four Liberal and three or four Labor senators could sit at home and watch the telly during the entire election campaign and still be guaranteed a seat. It isn’t fair.

    There is a solution. Names should be rotated, as they already are for the House of Assembly in Tasmania. Above-the-line could actually be retained, as a quick way of numbering all the boxes in a column, but note that the numbering would relate to the order on that ballot paper only, so it would vary across different ballot papers. This is a key difference with some significant effects.

    The large number of voters who currently vote above the line probably do so because they know which party they support but they aren’t interested in thinking too much about who (specifically) they are voting for. At the moment these voters exert tremendous influence over the result (they dictate it, in fact, or the party does), because of the fixed order of the candidates.

    Below the line voters – the people who know exactly who they want to vote for – have little chance to make a difference against such a tide. It can be done, as per Lisa Singh, but it is a rare victory. The most they can usually hope to achieve is to influence the last two or three seats.

    With my changes in place, above the line voters will continue to exert a strong influence on *how many* candidates succeed in each party, and therefore the overall layout of the Senate, which is right and proper, but they will exert no influence on the precise choice of actual winners. They are supporting the party, without being specific.

    Below the line voters, on the other hand, would (assuming they remain a minority) continue to have little influence over *how many* winners there are for each party, but they would be handed full control of who those winners are.

  22. TGC

    July 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    #2 “The least we can do in return is to select and elect intelligent Senators..”
    Do we ‘elect’ #2 to be the sole judge of who qualifies?

  23. John Hawkins

    July 28, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Well written Sir.

    We have two principal newspapers in Tasmania The Mercury in the South and The Examiner in the North.

    The Examiner supports the Liberals and hates the Greens and seemingly has no position over Labour. Its editorial staff aim to retire into political advisory jobs and will never rock the sinking boat.

    The Mercury sustains a large anti Abetz series of comments when ever Tasmanians are allowed to comment, The paper will never take a position for or against either of the two major political parties . Its owner hates the Greens.

    Both fail their community.

    Our newspapers should lead the debate for the betterment of our island State.

    In their absence…………..

    The Labour Party women Senators are worthy of comment as being particularly useless party hacks, a poor reflection on Tasmania and they are all well past their use by date.

    The Liberal Senators have been promoted above their station by the party machine under the influence of Abetz particularly so when he had the ear of Abbott. The newcomer obtained his well paid job by political patronage and not ability I cannot even remember his name.

    The two Green Senators have quality and will make a contribution to the political debate in Canberra.

    What to do?


    Scrap above the line voting for the Senate.

    No preferences.

    First past the post wins.

    The Senate is a House of Review and as a result of Federation Tasmania for its population of 500,000 has 12 Senators making us an easy target for Federal political influence as per head our voting power is cheaply bought.

    The least we can do in return is to select and elect intelligent Senators to contribute to the national debate and thereby protect the interests of this beautiful state.

  24. Mark Temby

    July 28, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Abetz’s faction delivered zip, nada, zilch for Tasmania over the last term. Quickly,off the top of my memory, the removal of the carbon tax and carbon credits, the changes to RET created an impossible investment climate, cuts and uncertainty to the Antarctic Division and CSIRO cutbacks seemingly centred on Tasmania…and that’s just a few of Eric’s achievements along with the Three Amigos.

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