Bass – Australia 2019

ALP 5.4%

Incumbent MP
Ross Hart, since 2016.

Bass covers the north-eastern corner of Tasmania. It covers the LGAs of Launceston, George Town, West Tamar and Dorset. Bass also covers Tasmania’s north-eastern islands, including Flinders Island.

Some changes were made to the western boundary of Bass. Bass gained the remainder of the West Tamar council area from Lyons, while losing the remainder of the Meander Valley council area on the edge of the Launceston urban area to Lyons. These changes cut the Labor margin from 6.1% to 5.4%.

Bass was created for the 1903 election, after Tasmania’s MPs were elected at large for the 1901 election. Bass has always been centred on Launceston, and has long been a marginal electorate. Indeed, the seat has changed hands from one MP to another sixteen times in its history, and only twice has an MP been succeeded by a member of the same party.

The seat was dominated by the Barnard family in the middle part of the twentieth century, with Claude Barnard holding the seat from 1934 to 1949, which included a period as Minister for Repatriation in the Chifley government. He was defeated by Liberal candidate Bruce Kekwick in 1949, who himself was defeated by Claude’s son Lance Barnard in 1954. The younger Barnard went on to serve as Deputy Prime Minister under Gough Whitlam from 1972 to 1974, and his resignation triggered the June 1975 Bass by-election, which saw a 14% swing to the Liberal Party, a major blow to the Whitlam government.

Kevin Newman (father of Queensland Premier, Campbell) held the seat from 1975 to 1984, during which time he served as a minister in the Fraser government. He was succeeded by Warwick Smith in 1984. Smith served up to the 1993 election, when he too was defeated by Labor candidate Silvia Smith.

Warwick Smith won seat back in 1996, and he served as a minister in the first Howard government. He was defeated again in 1998 by Michelle O’Byrne, who held the seat for two terms as a Labor MP before losing in 2004 as part of a backlash against Mark Latham’s forestry policies. She too went on to become a state MP for Bass at the 2006 state election.

At the 2007 election, the sitting Liberal MP Michael Ferguson was defeated himself by Launceston alderman Jodie Campbell. Campbell stepped down in 2010 after one term, and Labor candidate Geoff Lyons won the seat.

Lyons only lasted one term, losing in 2013 to Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic. Nikolic also held the seat for one term before losing in 2016 to Labor’s Ross Hart.


Bass is a marginal seat. While you’d expect Labor to retain the seat in current circumstances, it is a seat with a history of producing surprising results and bucking the national trend, so you would be brave to make a confident prediction.

2016 result

Ross Hart Labor 26,80340.5+5.939.7
Andrew Nikolic Liberal 25,60938.7-9.239.2
Terrill Riley-Gibson Greens 7,15410.8+2.911.1
Mark TapsellRecreational Fishers3,2314.9+4.95.0
Malcolm Peter BeattieChristian Democratic Party1,7652.7+2.72.7
Roy RamageRenewable Energy Party1,6132.4+2.42.5

2016 two-party-preferred result

Ross Hart Labor 37,11956.1+10.155.4
Andrew Nikolic Liberal 29,05643.9-10.144.6

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into six areas. Four of these areas cover the entirety of their local government area: Dorset, George Town, West Tamar and Flinders Island. The Launceston council area was split between Launceston Urban and Launceston Rural.

The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in four out of six areas, ranging from 50.3% in West Tamar to 63.1% in George Town. The Liberal Party won 56.9% in Flinders Island and 57.3% in Dorset.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Launceston Urban11.559.136,29241.6
West Tamar11.750.34,1124.7
George Town7.663.13,2513.7
Launceston Rural14.256.52,2412.6
Flinders Island12.143.14620.5
Other votes9.651.48,4439.7

Election results in Bass at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. Ben
    I am surprised at your reticence in not awarding credit for Labor’s victory, to the incredible campaign of Get Up ! Weren’t you heavily involved personally ?.
    What is interesting is that Get Up ! proved that almost any MP can be unseated, with the deployment of sufficient resources. Nikolic, & the others are the first of many victims.

  2. Good choice of candidate by the Liberals, probably not the election for her to be running.

    She may have a better shot in 3 years time.

  3. Carl Cooper has been selected today as the Nationals candidate for Bass. Be interesting to know if the Nats have ever run in Bass and whether or not they will help or hinder the Liberals?

  4. Labor should easily hold this in what is a quite anti lib election environment, but it will be a key race in 2021/22.

  5. 3rd best chance of a Liberal gain off Labor after Lindsay and Herbert, and an important part of any Liberal path to victory (though I don’t think they have one any more). Before the byelections I would have thought Braddon more likely than Bass but the byelection would have helped Keay.

    Liberal internal polls suggest it’s neck and neck, but internal polls can never be trusted.

    Ross Hart seems to have kept a low profile nationally, though I’m not sure how he is locally; sometimes low profile MPs are excellent at electorate work, and sometimes they really are time servers.

    He’s due for a sophomore surge but the Labor vote last time would have been inflated due to getup’s targeted campaign against Nikolic. The seat also has a long history of throwing out incumbents after 1 term.

  6. PML Did the PUB Test in Launceston last night. Predictably Ross Hart, (ALP), & Dr Hall (greens) were too gutless, & stupid to front. Nor could any other Senator, OR MP from the whole of Tasmania !!. These people clearly have no concept of their duties, & obligations. It must be too much to ask them to meet real people, in a real place. Just pathetic.
    In attendance were Abetz, NAT Senator ?. Lambie, UAP & PHON candidates. Later one of the local journos informed that the Launceston examiner had polled 900 voters. RESULT 54% to the Libs. Apparently Bass will; continue it’s proud intolerance of its-own representatives !! TO EARLY TO CALL !!

  7. the pub test … is all sky and very anti labor …. I if I were a sitting mp boycott them but attend other community forums. There is a huge difference between alp votes at the state election and now…. there could be a small. swing away but The Braddon by election suggests probable status quo for tas no liberals 4 alp and one independent

  8. Seat polls from ucomms has it at 54-46, but apparently on the primaries it is more like 51-49 according to the pollbludger website so not sure if it was respondent allocated preferences. Regardless take from it what you will, don’t think the seat polls were too accurate with the Braddon by-eleciton from memory

  9. If there’s a swing on in Bass, surely it would be similar in Braddon and Lyons? I think the Liberal brand is still relatively strong in Tasmania and could provide a few upsets on election night.

    This seat could be one to watch!

  10. Mick
    You are missing my point. These people are asking to the poles REPRESENTATIVES. There is an OVERARCHING RESPONSIBILITY, & DUTY, which they are seeking to undertake. Who the hell do they think they are making ignorant prejudicial judgements about the people that attend. ?. What do these people expect ?. That everyone else is supposed to agree with their Holy Dictum, their uppity views ? A no show is simply unacceptable, & inexcusable.
    I would also point out that this is NATIONAL TELEVISION with an audience of millions ?. Are they Ffffing serious ??. Gee the audience might be challenging, even hostile. So Fffiiing WHAT !!?? if they can’t handle it, they are in the wrong line of work. How pathetic. My heart bleeds for their weak sensibilities

  11. Lol Sky barely gets 50k viewers most nights, with half of that probably being Airports and Doctor’s offices and the other half being raging right wingers.

  12. Boaty 1025
    Did you not comprehend ???– Win 7 ???? .That is national. How many subscriber does pay TV have ??? You still missed my point.

  13. Sorry, but liberals no chance here, although there could be a tiny swing against labor here, The climate just isnt right for the libs, Maybe i 2022, but Hodgeman isnt very popular at the moment, and dumping Malcolm hurt them here as Tasmania is one of the most pro-labor states, there is allot of moderates here, and morrison cannot win over moderates, hes a Christian consverative, Labor hokd, but with a small swing against them due to the strong challenger

  14. Danny boy
    Well done !!. A 100% opinion piece /comment !!. Essentially all your opinions are speculation, cheerleading, & tub thumping. Real interesting

  15. It’s worth noting that all the seat polls for Bass in 2016 significantly underestimated Labor’s vote, and that seat polls generally tend to be pretty unreliable. I could definitely see the Liberals winning this seat but I still think it’s more likely Labor will hold it.

  16. WD and Daniel

    Yes Daniel full of opinion and no factual support but do you disagree with him? Why?
    I have no knowledge other than general knowledge with news paper reporting but I am inclined to agree with Daniel on this occasion.
    Why so little info about candidate activity? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
    The Australian coverage seems to be less factual less graphical and less analytical with far too much emphasis on presidential candidates and less emphasis on seat analysis.

  17. Kevin Boham is of the opinion that the seat opinion polls understate the alp vote by up to 5% also indiv seat polls are not necessarily reliable…. he also thinks Bass is a probable alp retain

  18. WD

    Don’t be a dick, all of our comments are opinions and purely speculative.

    I wouldn’t be trusting of a single seat poll that spelt the UAP’s name wrong and had the breakdown of undecided voters equalling 131% There may be a swing back to the LNP with the loss of Getup campaigning and Bass being swingy, but I’d still have labor winning this seat currently.

  19. Boaty1025
    Yeah your’e probably right. We are all pretty opinionated , & enjoy speculation. However i did go further….. in my critique. I didn’t pick up the sloppiness of the numbers. In any case it is just one poll. What was also interesting was the views of the local journos, & pollies.

    The most compelling information is the history of 2016. An amazingly massive swing (11%?) undoubtedly orchestrated by Get up. There will be no such exertion now. Getup used many blunt instruments but most notably the Medscare. The deception involved ought to trigger an equal counteraction.& it was especially emphasised in BASS BY GETUP Perhaps there is some kind of balance to play out.

  20. Two things I would say need to be noted for Bass:

    1. As noted elsewhere, to get 54-46 on the poll required the Greens and Others preferencing the Coalition and ALP about 50-50. This simply won’t happen – Greens voters still preference Labor in 85-90% of cases and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The Others at the last federal election preferenced Labor also north of 60%. With that taken into account, it comes back to about 51-49 to the Liberals.

    2. The last four seat polls for Bass at the last federal election all underestimated Labor’s 2PP by about 5 points.

    And a bonus point – 3. Seat polls are rarely reliable anyway.

    The bottomline is that we don’t really know. My guess is that it’s close to 50-50, but I have no idea really. If you reckon you’re certain one way or the other, chuck some money on, either winner will get you almost double your outlay.

  21. It all comes down to Ross Hart. I can barely find anything about him, positive or negative. If he’s a half decent local member then he’ll get a sophomore surge and win.

    Liberals are smart to target this seat and Braddon; even if they don’t pick it up this time, demographically seats like Bass need to be safe for them in the future as they pivot to a strategy of picking up conservative working/middle class voters. I can imagine this being a seat where Morrison would actually poll better than Turnbull.

  22. What Wine Diamond was tiring to do with Daniel was to distinguish opinion supported by fact from in supported opinion.
    What distinguishes Tally Room from Facebook is that the majority of us know what we are talking about and can disagree with each other without becoming enemies.

    Our bias is prescient even Ben’s as adjudicator but it is covert rather than overt. We all try to sail as close to line as is possible without crossing it.
    I would like Daniel to explain the reasons for his opinions not just state these opinions.

  23. Andrew Jackson
    Thankyou for elucidating my post so elegantly. Particularly for taking the trouble to do so. Of course i completely agree with all your comments regarding this (subject).

    I’D LIKE take an opportunity, TO ACKNOWLEDGE EVERYONE POSTING. I think we do pretty well, with a civilised, informative & lively debate. It would be surprising if a newcomer were not impressed. Perhaps that is something we can all draw satisfaction from ?

  24. If bookies’ odds mean anything – coalition now in front in bass according to Sports book.

    Also Nat’s never do well in Tassie as the Libs are more like Nats but use the Liberal name. Go back to the 80s and many of the Libs were supporting “Joh for PM”.



  25. Think the bookies are over reacting to a single seat poll imo, when most of the seat polls of bass in 2016 underestimated labor’s 2PP by around 5 points

  26. Theory that Labor in danger here reminds me of NSW election orthodoxy that Greens were at risk in Ballina…groupthink?

  27. Very suspiciously, the Liberals are leaking internal polls that Morrison is preferred to Shorten (in line with national polls), but not talking about how people in Bass will actually vote.

    Makes me think that their polls have this seat on track for an ALP retain and the narrative that the Liberals could win here is an attempt at a self fulfilling prophecy.

  28. Today’s poll has Labor ahead in Bass 52-48, a swing of 3.4% to the Libs.

    If that result is replicated in Braddon, then that seat will fall.

    The Primary votes in Bass are 40% Lib, 39% Labor and Greens on 10%. UAP only on 4%. I struggle to see how Bass is 52-48 under those primaries, the Green preferences surely would bump Labor up to 54-46, I’d imagine.

  29. I wouldn’t assume a uniform swing across Bass and Braddon. In 2016, Bass swung by more than 10%; Braddon less than 5%. There’s more scope for correction in Bass than Braddon.


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