Lyons – Australia 2019

ALP 3.8%

Incumbent MP
Brian Mitchell, since 2016.

Tasmania’s largest seat by area, Lyons includes parts of every region of the state. The seat stretches from the outskirts of Devonport and Launceston in the north to the outskirts of Hobart in the south, as well as the central highlands and the east coast of Tasmania.

Lyons retracted in the north, losing the remainder of the Latrobe and West Tamar council areas to Braddon and Bass respectively, while gaining the remainder of Meander Valley on the southern edge of Launceston (including Hadspen and Blackstone Heights) from Bass. Lyons expanded in the south, taking in the remainder of Brighton council (including Old Beach) and parts of Clarence council (including Richmond) from Franklin. These changes increased the Labor margin from 2.3% to 3.8%.

Lyons was originally named Wilmot, which was created as a central Tasmanian electorate in 1903. The seat was held by a variety of non-Labor parties up to 1929, when the seat was won by former Premier of Tasmania Joseph Lyons. He left the ALP during his first term in federal Parliament and was elected Prime Minister in 1931 at the head of the new United Australia Party. The ALP won the seat in a 1939 by-election following Lyons’ death, but lost the seat at the 1940 election. The ALP’s Gil Duthie won the seat at the 1946 election, and held the seat until the 1975 election, when he was defeated by the Liberal Party’s Max Burr.

In 1984, the seat was renamed Lyons in honour of the former Prime Minister and his wife Enid, who was the first female member of the House of Representatives. Burr held the renamed seat until 1993, when he retired and the ALP’s Dick Adams won the seat.

Dick Adams held Lyons for the ALP for the next twenty years. At the 2004 election, a 4.5% swing against the ALP made the seat marginal, but in 2007 Adams recovered most of his margin, partly due to conflict in the Liberal Party, with the original Liberal candidate, Ben Quin, resigning and running as an independent after Minister for the Environment Malcolm Turnbull approved the Gunns pulp mill.

Adams gained a further swing of almost 4% at the 2010 election, but in 2013 he was defeated by Liberal candidate Eric Hutchinson, after a 13.5% swing. Hutchinson lost in 2016 to Labor’s Brian Mitchell.


Lyons is a marginal seat which has a history of erratic swings. It’s more likely that Labor will win, but an upset would not be too surprising.

2016 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Redist
Eric Hutchinson Liberal 28,697 41.9 -2.5 40.6
Brian Mitchell Labor 26,426 38.6 +1.8 40.4
Hannah Rubenach-Quinn Greens 6,418 9.4 +1.1 9.2
Shelley Shay Recreational Fishers 4,322 6.3 +6.3 6.0
Duncan Livingston Renewable Energy Party 1,578 2.3 +2.3 2.1
Gene Mawer Christian Democratic Party 1,074 1.6 +1.6 1.6
Others 0.1
Informal 3,174 4.4

2016 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing Redist
Brian Mitchell Labor 35,838 52.3 +3.5 53.8
Eric Hutchinson Liberal 32,677 47.7 -3.5 46.2

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three areas: north, central and south. Lyons covers all or part of twelve council areas, and these council boundaries have been used to divide booths into three areas.

  • Central – Break O’Day, Central Highlands, Glamorgan/Spring Bay, Northern Midlands, Southern Midlands.
  • North – Kentish, Meander Valley.
  • South – Brighton, Clarence, Derwent Valley, Sorell, Tasman.

The ALP won a large 62.5% majority of the two-party-preferred vote in the south, while suffering narrow losses in the centre (50.7% Liberal vote) and the north (52.3% Liberal vote).

The Greens vote ranged from 7.8% in the centre to 9.7% in the north.

Voter group GRN % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
South 8.5 62.5 22,304 33.2
Central 7.8 49.3 15,543 23.1
North 9.7 47.7 12,238 18.2
Other votes 10.1 53.0 10,927 16.2
Pre-poll 12.5 47.7 6,267 9.3

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

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  1. Traditionally Lyons has been the most Labor of the three ‘northern’ Tas seats, though it had the smallest swing of the three in 2016. I tend to think there’s more swing to go here and Mitchell should consolidate.

    The Libs really should have preselected by now for a seat like this…

  2. PJ Agree with you completely. However i don’t think it would make any difference even if the Libs preselected JFK !!. It will be interesting how much Labor increase their margin.

  3. I agree this is labor’s easiest northern seat to hold, but I wouldnt be so sure they will increase their margin.

    Those northern tas seats have been very swingy recently and with a 50.6% of the state vote for the libs at the state election there is a chance it might be vulnerable. it will obviously depend on the sentiment in tasmania at the time, but if the election is at all close on the national level I wouldn’t write the libs off here.

  4. Huge
    What you say may be applicable to Braddon, or Bass, but not here.
    I think it is Section 34 of the constitution that guarantees Tasmania 5 lower house seats. This appalling anachronism from Federation enshrines Tasmania’s over representation, effectively making a tasmanian’s vote worth nearly double that of an Australian. Without this ridiculous impediment Lyons would not exist, as there would only be 3 seats in tasmania
    IN the Senate it’s worse, criminally so. A Tasmanian’s vote is worth up to 15 times an Australian’s. Until the senate is representative we will never have good governance in Australia.
    All this emphasises the truth of what Jeff Kennett said, about the futility of Tasmania being a state, & how it ought to be federated (annexed) into Victoria.

  5. Yeah it is dumb that Tasmanians are so over represented and NT/ACT so underrepresented. When we become a republic (or before, for all I care) we should reform our electoral system to something truly proportional like New Zealand’s or Ireland’s electoral systems (I would prefer unicameral like those two nations, the “review” role of our current senate can be done by committees formed from the single house).

  6. Lyon’s tends to be very loyal to sitting mps…Mr Hutchinson being the exception….and then a lower swing than Bass and Braddon. Since 1946.. only
    5 mps

  7. Bennee
    Now that the ACT has a third seat, the Territories are wildly over represented. In the senate it is even more obscene.
    I’M not sure whether i know enough to subscribe to your suggested electoral systems. However anything would be better than what we have at the moment. The country is simply ungovernable

  8. The territories in effect have 0 senators each because they always elect exactly 1 Coalition and 1 ALP senator whose votes effectively cancel out.

    It’s a property of a 2 vacancy STV election that 1 party needs to get to 66.67% to win more than 1 seat and a 3rd party would need insane preference flows and for a major party to fall significantly below 33.33% to have a chance at pipping them.

    States can elect as few as 1 senator from a major party (~25% or less and unlucky preferences) and as many as 4 (~50+% with lucky preferences). Meanwhile they can elect anywhere from 0 to 3 minor parties or independents. Voter choice on senate ballots in states actually change the numbers on the parliamentary floor.

  9. If you run the numbers, you’ll find that NSW, Victoria and Queensland are under-represented on an citizen/MP basis (be that total population, enrolment or enrolment-eligible-population). Everywhere else is over-represented.

    National average is about 107,000 people (or 71,000 voters) per federal MP.

    Obviously the smaller each state’s population, the more over-represented it is, because of the fixed number of Senators. Qld on the ‘under’ side is closer to the national average than WA on the ‘over’ side.

    The ACT is actually less over-represented than South Australia (by about 4000 citizens per MP) and because of enrolment percentage variance actually has more voters/MP than WA too (but fewer people/MP).

    Tasmania, of course, is by far the most over-represented.

  10. Alex J
    Thankyou for putting up all the numbers.

    My fundamental argument, is that if there was simply 1 senator for 2 HoR seats, we would have a very different senate. Far more representative for starters. A moronic, state centric, Tasmanian senator like Jackie Lambie would not get a start with less than 20.000 votes. There would also be some interesting independent senators from Vic, & NSW, & my god, what we might get from North QLD !

  11. Bennee
    I have never thought of the Territory senators in that way. I really can’t see how the (party) allegiance of the senators can cancel out their representation.

    Constitutionally the task of each senator is to primarily represent their constituents . Yes i know that doesn’t happen, but to what extent ? Are you suggesting the Territory senators never represent territory interests ?
    They certainly secure bucketloads of Commonwealth funding

    In any case we would all be better off without the territory govts. NT could be absorbed by WA, & ACT by NSW. Then we could make Canberra the state capital too, & move all NSW govt departments, employees out of Sydney. All of Sydney’s problems solved.

  12. With Steve Martin’s announcement of a move to the Nationals, surely Lyons would be a good seat to run a supporting Lower House campaign?

    Over in the Braddon by-election thread I believe it was said that Lyons doesn’t have a town of more than 10,000 people in it. If that’s not natural Nats territory, I don’t know what is.

  13. I think you will find that Lyons does not have a town with more 30000…..maybe less
    bad match for nats as alp very strong here…. even the losses are quite narrow

  14. I think one reason the Nationals have not been recently successful in attempts to establish in Lyons is that while it is a rural electorate, it isn’t (mostly) a remote rural one. A lot of Lyons voters commute to the urban electorates and there is a lot of interaction between the urban electorates and Lyons. Another possible factor is that Tasmanians are well-connected to their politicians because we have much higher ratios of (state+federal) MPs per head of population than elsewhere – so a voter is less likely to find that nobody in the Liberal Party is listening to them.


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