Braddon by-election, 2018

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Justine Keay resigned on May 10, 2018, due to her being a dual citizen at the time of nomination for the 2016 election, after the High Court clarified the constitutional requirements on May 9, 2018.

Margin – ALP 2.2%

Braddon covers the West Coast and North-West of Tasmania, including the islands to Tasmania’s northwest. The seat covers West Coast, Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport and Waratah/Wynyard councils along with part of Latrobe council. It also covers King Island. The seat’s largest centres are the towns of Devonport and Burnie.

The seat of Braddon was created in 1955 when the existing Divison of Darwin was renamed. The seat of Darwin was created in 1903 for the first election with single-member electorates in Tasmania, and has always been a northwestern electorate. The seat of Darwin/Braddon has been largely dominated by conservative parties, with Labor holding the seat for 37 of the seat’s first 104 years up to 2007.

The seat was first won by the ALP’s King O’Malley, who held the seat until 1917. O’Malley is best-known for his service as Minister for Home Affairs under Andrew Fisher which saw him take responsibility for choosing the site and town plan for Caberra. He was also largely responsible for the Americanised spelling of the name of the Australian Labor Party. He was strongly anti-conscriptionist and his term as a minister ended when the ALP split, with Billy Hughes joining with the Liberals to form the new Nationalist government. At the 1917 election, O’Malley was narrowly defeated by a Nationalist candidate, and the Nationalist parties and its successors held the seat for the next forty years, with the exception of a single term in 1922 when the seat was held by the nascent Country Party.

The most prominent MP to represent Darwin during this period was Enid Lyons, widow of former Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, who was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1943 and held the seat until the 1951 election.

After the seat was renamed Braddon in 1955, the ALP won the seat back in 1958. Ron Davies held the seat for the ALP up to the post-dismissal election in 1975, when he was defeated by the Liberal Party’s Ray Groom, who held the seat until 1984. He went on to enter state politics and was Premier from 1992 to 1996. Chris Miles succeeded Groom in Braddon and held the seat for the Liberal Party up to the 1998 election, when he was defeated by Sid Sidebottom.

Sidebottom held the seat for the ALP from 1998 to 2004, when he lost the seat to Liberal Mark Baker in a backlash against Mark Latham’s forestry policies.

Sidebottom regained the seat in 2007, and was re-elected in 2010.

In 2013, Liberal candidate Brett Whiteley defeated Sidebottom with a 10% swing, but he lost in 2016 to Labor’s Justine Keay.


  • Jarrod Edwards (Greens)
  • Brett Neal (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers)
  • Donna Gibbons (Independent)
  • Joshua Boag (Liberal Democrats)
  • Brett Whiteley (Liberal)
  • Craig Garland (Independent)
  • Bruno Strangio (People’s Party)
  • Justine Keay (Labor)

Braddon is a marginal seat and could be in play, if the Liberal Party decide to contest the seat. The area is also the best part of Tasmania for Jacqui Lambie, although she seems unlikely to stand.

2016 result

Brett Whiteley Liberal 26,84141.5-5.4
Justine Keay Labor 25,89840.0+2.5
Scott Jordan Greens 4,3586.7+1.6
Glen SaltmarshRecreational Fishers3,7015.7+5.7
Joshua BoagLiberal Democrats1,3802.1+2.1
Clinton RiceRenewable Energy Party1,3432.1+2.1
Graham HodgeChristian Democratic Party1,1511.8+1.8

2016 two-party-preferred result

Justine Keay Labor 33,75952.2+4.8
Brett Whiteley Liberal 30,91347.8-4.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into six areas. Polling places in the Circular Head, Waratah/Wynyard and West Coast LGAs were divided into North West and South West. Polling places in Devonport and Latrobe council areas have been grouped into one group. Polling places in Burnie and Central Coast council areas have been grouped together separately.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of six areas, ranging from 54.4% in Devonport-Latrobe to 61.3% in the south-west.

The Liberal Party polled a majority in the other three areas, ranging from 50.3% on the Central Coast to 63.8% on King Island.

Voter groupALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Central Coast49.711,65818.0
King Island36.27781.2
Other votes49.57,54310.4

Two-party-preferred votes in Braddon at the 2016 federal election

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Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room.If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.