Senate – Tasmania – Australia 2019

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2019Term due to expire 2022
Catryna Bilyk (Labor) Eric Abetz (Liberal)
Carol Brown (Labor) David Bushby (Liberal)
Richard Colbeck (Liberal)1 Jonathon Duniam (Liberal)
Steve Martin (Nationals)2 Helen Polley (Labor)
Nick McKim (Greens) Anne Urquhart (Labor)
Lisa Singh (Labor) Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens)

1Richard Colbeck replaced Stephen Parry on 9 February 2018 following the High Court ruling that Stephen Parry was ineligible to sit.
2Steve Martin replaced Jacqui Lambie on 9 February 2018 following the High Court ruling that Jacqui Lambie was ineligible to sit.


Tasmania elected five senators for each major party at the 1951 double dissolution. In 1953, the Liberals gained a sixth seat from the ALP. The Liberals were reduced to five seats in 1955, when one of the ALP’s senators left the party to join the party that became the Democratic Labor Party. In 1961, the Liberals lost their fifth seat to independent Reginald Turnbull, and until 1964 Tasmania was represented by four Labor senators, four Liberal senators, one DLP senator and Turnbull.

The 1964 election saw the ALP regain the seat previously held by the DLP. This 5-4-1 split remained until the 1970 Senate election, when the ALP lost their fifth seat to conservative independent Michael Townley, producing a result of four Labor, four Liberal and two independents. Turnbull retired at the 1974 double dissolution, and the ALP won back a fifth senate seat. Prior to the 1975 election Townley joined the Liberal Party, and in 1975 the Liberals won five seats, the ALP won four (down one from 1974) , and the final seat was won by ex-Labor independent Brian Harradine.

Tasmania continued to be represented by five Liberals, four Labor and Harradine from 1975 until the 1984 election, when Labor won a fifth seat and the Australian Democrats won a seat. This 5-5-1-1 balance remained steady until the 1996 election, when the Democrats lost their single senate seat, and Greens candidate Dr Bob Brown was elected to that seat. This balance remained steady until 2004, although prior to the 2001 election Labor Senator Shayne Murphy resigned from the ALP to serve as an independent.

At the 2004 election, Harradine retired, and his seat was won by the Liberal Party, whilst the ALP lost one of its seats to Greens candidate Christine Milne. At the 2007 election, the ALP won a fifth seat back off the Liberal Party. In 2010, the ALP again won three out of six seats, which resulted in Labor holding half of Tasmania’s Senate seats, with Liberal reduced to four.

In 2013, Labor lost its sixth Senate seat to Jacqui Lambie of the Palmer United Party, who subsequently left the party and founded the Jacqui Lambie Network.

There was no change at the 2016 double dissolution election. Labor maintained their five seats, the Liberal Party maintained four, the Greens two, and Jacqui Lambie was re-elected.

2016 result

Labor 113,93533.6+0.84.3670
Liberal 110,31832.5-5.04.2284
Greens 37,84011.2-0.51.4504
Jacqui Lambie Network28,1468.3+8.31.0788
One Nation8,7002.6+2.60.3335
Family First6,6922.0+0.70.2565
Nick Xenophon Team5,1281.5+1.50.1966
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers4,6881.4+0.30.1797
Sex Party/Marijuana (HEMP)4,4931.3+1.30.1722
Christian Democratic Party2,8610.8+0.80.1097
Animal Justice2,3770.7+0.70.0911
Recreational Fishers2,3760.7+0.70.0911
Palmer United Party2,3630.7-5.90.0906

Preference flows
Eight seats were effectively decided on above-the-line primary votes (and below-the-line votes for the winning candidates). Labor won three seats, the Liberal Party won three, and the Greens and Jacqui Lambie Network each won one. The Labor and Liberal candidates had collectively polled over 4 quotas each, but quite a few of these votes were below-the-line votes for lower-ranked candidates.

Let’s fast forward until the last ten candidates, competing for four seats. The following figures show how much of a quota each candidate was holding, and how that compared to their primary vote. For Labor and Liberal, I have compared Colbeck and Singh to their individual primary vote, and compared Bushby and Bilyk to their party’s total primary vote, with the former candidate’s individual primary vote subtracted.

The official party candidates (Bilyk and Bushby) had clearly done worst out of preferences up until this point, while One Nation, Richard Colbeck and the Shooters did best.

  • Lisa Singh (ALP) – 0.8871 quotas – up 0.0921
  • David Bushby (LIB) – 0.7029 – down 0.0091
  • Richard Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6279 – up 0.1115
  • Catryna Bilyk (ALP) – 0.5857 – up 0.0137
  • Nick McKim (GRN) – 0.5587 – up 0.1083
  • Kate McCulloch (ON) – 0.4576 – up 0.1241
  • Peter Madden (FF) – 0.3479 – up 0.0914
  • Matthew Allen (SFF) – 0.2949 – up 0.1152
  • Michelle Hoult (NXT) – 0.2535 – up 0.0569
  • Francesca Collins (SXP) – 0.2437 – up 0.0715

Sex Party preferences particularly favoured the Shooters, Greens, Bilyk and One Nation. Singh and Colbeck receive practically no preferences, since any above-the-line votes that would go to their party flow to Bushby and Bilyk.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.8915
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.7251
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6285
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.6201
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6047
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.4916
  • Madden (FF) – 0.3685
  • Allen (SFF) – 0.3411
  • Hoult (NXT) – 0.2688

NXT preferences particularly favoured the Greens, and leading major party candidates Bushby and Bilyk. Starved for preferences, Colbeck drops from eleventh place to thirteenth:

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9066
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.7677
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6805
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.6687
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6351
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.5281
  • Madden (FF) – 0.3829
  • Allen (SFF) – 0.3557

Shooters preferences most favoured One Nation, and to a lesser extent Bushby and Bilyk. One Nation was at this point close to overtaking Colbeck.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9119
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.8222
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.7266
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6999
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6391
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.6280
  • Madden (FF) – 0.4245

Family First preferences particularly favoured Bushby and Bilyk, and gave practically no assistance to Singh or Colbeck. This pushed Bushby into the lead. Singh had accumulated very little preferences since we first joined the count, but remained in tenth place. Colbeck fell behind One Nation’s McCulloch, and she herself was less than 0.05 quotas behind McKim.

  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.9341
  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9169
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.8435
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.7413
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.6951
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6484

Every single Colbeck vote was below-the-line, so these votes could finally flow to Lisa Singh. Most votes went to Bushby, electing him with a healthy surplus, but enough votes went to Singh to elect her in tenth place. This left a large Liberal surplus to be distributed to decide the last two seats between three candidates:

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.4117
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0002
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.8536
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.7567
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.7178

Bushby’s preferences pushed Bilyk over quota, and also brought McCulloch very close to overtaking McKim – just 43 votes. There was 593 Bilyk surplus votes to distribute, before the count would be finished.

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.0000
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0000
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 1.0227
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.8054
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.8038

In the end McKim defeated McCulloch by 141 votes:

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.000
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0000
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 1.0000
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.8144
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.8090


  • Jacqui Lambie (Jacqui Lambie Network)

Labor will be defending three seats in Tasmania at the next election, and the Greens will be defending one. It’s hard to see all four of these seats being held, short of a very strong result for the left.

The Liberal Party is only defending one seat. They should be able to win a second seat.

Lambie will be hoping to win back her seat, but will be competing with Martin, the Greens and the third Labor candidate for the final seat.

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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.