Tasmanian Legislative Council, 2014

Voters in two Tasmanian Legislative Council seats go to the polls on May 3 to elect upper house members for the next six years.

Profiles have been prepared for the two races, including results of the previous election, history of the seat, and candidate information, along with results maps.

Tasmania’s upper house is unique in how it is elected. While every other state and federal upper house is elected with proportional representation, while every other lower house is elected with single-member electorates, Tasmania reverses that pattern.

The Tasmanian House of Assembly is elected using the Hare-Clark proportional representation system, with each federal electorate electing five MHAs. The entire House is elected once every four years.

The Tasmanian Legislative Council consists of fifteen electorates, each of which elects a single MLC.

The strangest thing about the Tasmanian Legislative Council is that these elections never happen all at once. MLCs are elected for six-year terms, with elections held every year on the first Saturday in May. Each year, two or three districts are up for election.

The Legislative Council has always been dominated by independents. While Labor has regularly run candidates in the past, and a few years ago held most seats close to the Hobart area, the Liberal Party has very rarely run, and held no seats between 1999 and 2009. The Greens regularly run candidates, but have never won a seat.

These independents tend to be conservative, and the Legislative Council has recently blocked a number of initiatives including same-sex marriage recognition and the forest peace deal. A combination of never electing the entire House at one time, the lack of a contest for Premier at the time people vote, and single-member electorates have tended to result in a lot of popular local independents winning seats, with many of those having local government experience. Many continue in their other jobs while serving, including some who have stayed on as local councillors after winning a seat.

Since 2009, Labor have lost most of their seats. The Liberal Party now holds two seats, and Labor holds one.

The two seats up for election in 2014 are Huon and Rosevears.

Huon covers southern Tasmania, including the Huon Valley and Bruny Island, with about half of the population lying in northern parts of Kingborough local government area, to the south of Hobart. The sitting MLC is Paul Harriss, who is stepping down to run for the lower house seat of Franklin as a Liberal. The seat has a tradition of being held by Liberal-aligned independents, including two relatives of state Liberal leader Will Hodgman.

The current frontrunner for the seat is Peter Hodgman, uncle of Liberal leader Will Hodgman, former MLC for Huon in the 1970s and 1980s, and former state Liberal minister and member for Franklin before he unsuccessfully ran for the federal seat of Franklin in 2001.

Rosevears is in northern Tasmania, stretching from northeastern Launceston along the west side of the Tamar river, covering a small part of the City of Launceston and the entire West Tamar council area.

The seat has been held since 2002 by Kerry Finch, who is running for re-election. Finch is one of the most left-leaning members of the Council, in particular being opposed to plans for a pulp mill in northern Tasmania.

You can download the 1999-2008 and the 2009-2013 boundaries as Google Earth maps from the Tally Room maps page.

About the Author

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