Voters in three Tasmanian Legislative Council seats go to the polls on May 2 to elect upper house members for the next six years.
Profiles have been prepared for the three races, including results of the previous election, history of the seat, and list of candidates, 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 in the past 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 often voted differently to the House of Assembly. Kevin Bonham recently conducted an analysis of how members of the Legislative Council vote.
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 three seats up for election in 2015 are Derwent, Mersey and Windermere.
Derwent covers the Derwent Valley and northern suburbs of Hobart.
The seat is held by Craig Farrell, the only Labor member of the Legislative Council. He is expected to win another term, after winning the seat at a 2011 by-election.
Mersey covers Devonport in north-western Tasmania. It is held by left-wing independent Mike Gaffney, who is expected to hold his seat.
Windermere covers north-eastern Launceston and George Town on the eastern shore of the Tamar River.
Windermere is held by conservative independent Ivan Dean. Dean won the seat off left-wing independent (and former Labor federal MP) Silvia Smith in 2003, and was re-elected in 2009 against a challenge by left-wing independent (and former Labor state MP) Kathryn Hay in 2009.
This time around, Dean is facing a challenge from formally endorsed Labor and Greens candidates, and this seat is likely to be the most interesting on election night.