Clark – Australia 2019

IND 17.8% vs ALP

Incumbent MP
Andrew Wilkie, since 2010.

Denison covers the suburbs of Hobart on the western shores of the Derwent River. The seat covers Hobart and Glenorchy LGAs as well as northern parts of Kingborough LGA. The seat includes the Hobart CBD and is by far the most compact seat in Tasmania.

Clark is a new name for the seat of Denison, which expanded slightly on its south-western edge, in a sparsely populated area on the fringe of Hobart.

Clark is a new name for Denison, which was first created for the 1903 election. The seat was first held by Sir Philip Fysh, a former Premier of Tasmania and minister under Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin. His retirement in 1910 saw the seat fall to the ALP, with the ALP member William Laird Smith joining the new Nationalist party in 1916. He lost the seat to a Labor candidate in 1922, and for the next twelve years the seat changed hands every three years, with the Nationalists winning it back in 1925, the ALP winning it back in 1928 and retaining it in 1929 before the new United Australia Party won the seat in 1931.

In 1934, the ALP regained it yet again, and held it for two terms until the 1940 election. A new UAP member of Parliament won the seat in 1940, and again only held it for three years, before the ALP’s John Gaha won the seat at the 1943 election. For the next half-century, Denison was a bellwether seat, going to the party that won federal government at each election.

Gaha lost the seat in 1949 to the Liberal Party’s Athol Townley. Townley held the seat for the next fourteen years, which was the longest term of service in Denison up until Duncan Kerr’s time. Townley served as Minister for Defence under Robert Menzies, before dying in December 1963 shortly after being appointed as Ambassador to the United States.

He was succeeded by Adrian Gibson, who retired in 1969 to be replaced by Robert Solomon. Solomon was defeated after one term in 1972 by Labor’s John Coates, who himself was defeated by Michael Hodgman in 1975. Hodgman served in a variety of junior ministerial roles under Malcolm Fraser and held the seat until 1987. Indeed, his victories in 1983 and 1984 were the only times Denison had gone to an opposition candidate in decades.

Hodgman was defeated in 1987 by the ALP’s Duncan Kerr. Kerr held the seat from 1987 until 2010, by far the longest term in Denison in the seat’s 106-year history.

In 2010, Kerr was replaced as ALP candidate by Jonathan Jackson. He was challenged by independent candidate Andrew Wilkie. Wilkie was a former intelligence whistleblower, NSW Greens lower house candidate and Tasmanian Greens Senate candidate, before running a close campaign for a state seat in Denison at the 2010 state election. At the federal election, Wilkie came third on primary votes but overtook the Liberal Party on Socialist and Green preferences, and narrowly defeated the ALP on the two-party-preferred vote.

In 2013, Wilkie gained a 16.8% primary vote swing, easily outpolling the three main parties in Denison, and won after preferences with a 15.5% margin. He was re-elected again in 2016.


  • Andrew Wilkie (Independent)
  • Ben McGregor (Labor)
  • Amanda-Sue Markham (Liberal)
  • Juniper Shaw (Greens)
  • Jim Starkey (United Australia)
  • Assessment
    Andrew Wilkie should comfortably retain his seat at the next election.

    2016 result

    Andrew WilkieIndependent29,37244.1+6.044.0
    Jane Austin Labor 15,33523.0-1.723.0
    Marcus Allan Liberal 13,26719.9-3.319.9
    Jen Brown Greens 7,06810.6+2.710.6
    Amanda ExcellChristian Democratic Party9801.5+1.51.5
    Wayne WilliamsDemocratic Labour Party6320.9+0.10.9

    2016 two-candidate-preferred result

    Andrew WilkieIndependent45,17667.8+2.3
    Jane Austin Labor 21,47832.2-2.3

    2016 two-party-preferred result

    Jane Austin Labor 43,55065.3+6.465.3
    Marcus Allan Liberal 23,10434.7-6.434.7

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into four areas. Most of the population of Denison lie in Glenorchy and Hobart local government areas. Booths in Glenorchy have been split between Claremont (north) and Glenorchy (south). Booths in Hobart have been divided between Hobart and South. The handful of booths in Kingborough council have also been included in South.

    There is a strong divide in the vote between the Glenorchy and Hobart council areas.

    Andrew Wilkie’s two-candidate-preferred vote (against Labor) ranged from 59.8% in Claremont to 76.9% in the south.

    The Liberal primary vote ranged from 14.1% in Glenorchy to 30% in the south, while the Greens vote ranged from 3.6% in Claremont to 16.4% in Hobart.

    Voter groupGRN prim %LIB prim %IND 2CP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes8.722.367.29,55814.3

    Election results in Clark at the 2016 federal election
    Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Wilkie vs Labor), Liberal primary votes and Greens primary votes.

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    1. An independent in a city seat is always going to be vunerable. I trat Wilkie as a Green masquerading as an independent.

      Greens Senate Vote in Denison was 18.59% whilst only 10.6% in House of Reps. I suspect that the difference went to Willkie.

      Willkie is vulnerable to a withdrawal of preference flows from Greens, or either of majors. I suspect both Majors will preference him ahead of Greens but if either go to Greens ahead of Willkie this seat will be in doubt.

      Willkie had better get talking to Libs and ALP.

      Libs only got 19.9% but a flow of these votes to ALP could be disastrous for Wilkie.

      LIberal Preferences and preferences of Green Senate voters who opted for Wilkie will be the key to this election.

      I have no prediction other than tjhat Liberals will not pick up this seat. IN fact at the moment the only seat that I think Liberals will pick up is Longman in Queensland.

      MY prediction is that ALP will win House but will have a Senate which they do not control. This is always a more difficult task for ALP members of which generally lack the concept that Politics is the art of the possible .

      Andrew Jackson

    2. I think Wilkie is safe as houses here, particularly now that he’s winning all the Glenorchy booths as well. This suggests that he’s won over the old-school Labor voters, not just the ‘Green-Liberal’ voters in Hobart.

      What scenario is there for Wilkie to lose?

      * The Liberals will always preference him, if for no other reason than to make trouble for Labor. Why would they prefer to gift Labor the seat?

      * Likewise, I can’t see the Greens preferring Labor over a green-tinged Independent. Longer-term, they probably want to see Labor weakened in the seat, to give it a serious shake when Wilkie goes.

      * Labor finishes second so their preferences don’t matter. I guess they could run dead and finish third, then preference Liberal just to try to blast Wilkie out. But if Labor’s vote falls so far that they miss the top two, then Wilkie would probably have 50% of the primary anyway (or close enough that makes no difference).

    3. Even if a party or multiple parties preferences Wilkie lower down the list not enough people follow how to vote cards for him to lose if he primaries 40+%

      Yes Wilkie is a “Green” independent, not a rare thing in Tasmania, notably this week independent (former Greens candidate) Rob Valentine got re-elected in the state upperhouse (his seat of Hobart making up a third of Clarke nee Denison).

      When Wilkie chooses to not stand for re-election I expect the Greens would run extremely hard at it.

    4. Labor actually attempted to dislodge Wilkie by preferencing him 10th out of 11, behind the Liberals, in 2013. They also ran attack ads against him alleging that a Wilkie win would make Abbott one seat closer to becoming PM. Wilkie countered by putting up billboards next to the Labor billboards that read “A Big Fat Labor Lie”. Initially they had him last out of 11 before it was pointed out they had preferenced him below even Rise Up Australia. The preferences were never distributed as Labor finished above the Liberals by 5%, but I heard from scrutineers that the majority of Labor voters disobeyed the card anyway.

      Likewise at the same election the Greens put Wilkie behind Labor on their card and the Green preferences split 57-43 to Wilkie anyway. Green voters have very low how-to-vote card follow rates.

      Liberals preference Wilkie over Labor in excess of 75-25 so even if they for some bizarre reason switched their card it would not create a strong enough flow to Labor for Labor to win the seat. Indeed even if every Liberal voter had preferenced Labor in 2016 Wilkie still would have won.

      If Labor are to ever beat Wilkie in Denison it will have to be through dramatic swings in the primary vote. In that regard so far nothing they are doing is working.

    5. Wilkie agreed to give confidence and supply to Turnbull before all the seat results were finalised. If the Liberals didn’t end up getting a majority, Wilkie would be toast for that decision.

      That’s the only circumstance I can see him ever losing his seat before retiring.

    6. I take scrutineers reports with a grain of salt.

      Unless they are trained to look for preference flow and are set up with pre-prepared tally sheets they just provide waffle.

      MY own experience as a OIC and as a scrutineer is that ALP voters follow HTV to the letter. It is minor party and Green voters who veer from HTV most frequently.

      Understandably counting at booths is undertaken in the order determined by the electoral commission and is not generally aimed at determining 2PPV let alone a second candidate PPV.

      At close of polls Electoral Commission staff and scrutineers have done a full days work often with no or little lunch break. Consequently in most cases both electoral commission staff and scrutineers are exhausted by the time they start the count. They can not go home till count is completed and ballots issued tallies with ballot papers counted.

      I recall one booth where we had one more ballot paper in Ballot box than had been issued. It took us hours to find that the ballot paper had come from another polling station. Recounts of Ballot Papers issued, names crossed off, and ballot papers in box until finally a ballot paper with wrong initialled at an adjoining booth was found. In this case no one had done the job before the teachers who were poll officials were nearly all first or second year teachers and the OIC had voted previously but had never been a poll official.

      At about 11.30 at night electoral commission and party staff would have strung up the moron who took pleasure in taking ballot paper from one booth and somehow getting it into another booth’s ballot box.
      Scrutineers in most cases they are only interested in flows of preferences to or away from their candidate rather than flow of preferences themselves.

      A consequence is that reports from scrutineers are near useless in doing anything other than determining who will win on the night at an individual booth.

    7. Wilkie is a very unusual (strange !?) man. That almost seems to be a prerequisite for Independent MP s.My Duntroon mates all knew him, & even then (when they’re in their early twenties) they thought he was very odd.
      He is obviously extremely intelligent, & has a very high level of personal integrity.

      Wilkie is a ferocious advocate for his constituency, & state. Even though i find his politics largely abhorrent, he is to be admired personally. I’d rather see him in Clark than some Labor hack, or loony Green.

      It is quite inconceivable that he could ever be under any threat.

      I wonder what Wilkie thinks now of his decision to reject a 1/2 $ billion hospital for Hobart, offered in 2010 by Abbott ? It is a fascinating “what if”. I wonder if Gillard’s NBN promises/ bribes ever really materialised ? Tasmania did get priority in the roll out, but would that have happened anyway ?

    8. Wilkie will hold this seat until he’s had enough.

      If that’s in the next couple of elections, then I’d expect the ALP to recover this seat when he retires. Beyond that, who knows?

      The Greens might be in with a shot, but I tend to think they’ll target inner city seats in Melbourne and Sydney (and even Brisbane or Perth) ahead of this.

    9. Strange that he hasn’t announced if hes running yet, If he doesn’t announce by new year, Then there will be questions looming whether he is retiring, Unless anyone has a source to tell me otherwise

    10. @Daniel

      The state members for Denison have already started referring themselves as Members for Clark. Look for Elise Archer on Facebook and the TAS parliament already refers to Clark.

    11. The Commonwealth redistribution wasn’t quite done in time to be adopted ahead of the most recent State election, but I imagine that has since been rectified, or else soon will be.

    12. Yes the state electorate has been renamed and I would assume from that that the federal redistribution is now implemented at state level (though I haven’t yet checked this for sure).

      There’s the possibility Wilkie could hand on the seat to another independent if Kristie Johnston, the presently very popular Mayor of Glenorchy, ever gets bored with her current job.

      Re the scrutineering, we have some good people here. Also ALP voters here are accustomed to voting without cards, leading to lower follow rates than elsewhere.

      I reckon Wilkie is running again. He probably wouldn’t see a need to announce it this early when people would expect him to run anyway.

    13. Two questions for which I would greatly appreciate answers:

      (1) Are the preferences set by a candidate or party recorded by the AEC or some other body? if so, where?
      (2) Once preferences are stated, is there any legality to keep a party from switching their preferences before election day?

      I ask this because the Liberal candidate for Clark, in Tasmania, is preferencing Palmer’s UAP second. The Labor party has been accused of doing likewise, but their candidate will not state the Labor preference order for the Clark House of Representatives contest.

      A link to a central site (preferably an aec page)would be very helpful indeed.

    14. No, there is no central record of party preferences. Since the abolition of group voting tickets they are literally just recommendations on how-to-vote cards, and the AEC doesn’t require registration (unlike a number of state electoral commissions which do).

      The parties can change their how-to-votes at any time, or hand out different ones in different areas.

    15. Ben
      Their can be more than 1 HTV handed out by a party at a single booth.
      I have been a on a booth where one worker would not hand out a HTV preferencing one party and consequently two HTV were printed.

      I for one would refuse to hand out. HTV preferencing PHON, Anning or Communists.
      In 2019 I am not too worried about which major to preference ahead of other. They are both as bad as each other.

    16. This got lost a bit, among all the discussions of Bass and Braddon. But Wilkie got a further swing to him here, and won the seat on primaries.

      Even in the Glenorchy booths, he’s running at 60%+ now.


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