Archive for March, 2010


Tasmania 2010: the results are in

The final seat in the Tasmanian state election was decided this evening, with Greens candidate Paul O’Halloran winning the final seat in Braddon. This has produced a result of 2 Labor, 2 Liberal and one Green in all five districts, adding up to a 10-10-5 split in the House of Assembly. The state election saw the Greens win a seat in all five districts for the first time since 1992.

The result has produced a dilemma for all three parties in the Tasmanian parliament.

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Tasmania 2010: Preference count

Preference counts for the five electorates in the Tasmanian state election are currently being undertaken by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, and progressive counts are being posted on the TEC website for Bass, Braddon, Denison, Franklin and Lyons.

Final update: The count has now concluded, with the Greens winning the fifth seat in Braddon and the Liberals winning the final seat in Denison, producing a result of 10 Labor, 10 Liberal and 5 Greens.

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Seat profile #76: Lyne

Lyne is a seat covering parts of the NSW north coast, including the major centres of Port Macquarie and Taree. The seat has a long history of being held by the National Party, most recently by former Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile.

Vaile’s resignation in 2008 triggered a by-election which was won by Rob Oakeshott, independent state member for Port Macquarie, who won almost 74% of the two-candidate-preferred vote.

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Seat profile #75: Throsby

Throsby is a safe Labor seat covering parts of the southern Illawarra and the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The seat covers Dapto, Port Kembla, Albion Park and other suburbs around Illawarra, as well as those parts of the Southern Highlands east of the Hume Highway, including Bowral, Berrima, Mittagong and Moss Vale.

Prior to the 2009 redistribution, Throsby was a very safe Labor seat solely covering parts of the Illawarra. Its expansion into the strongly pro-Liberal areas in Wingecarribee Shire have reduced the ALP’s margin, but it still stands at a strong 16.5%, locking up Liberal areas in a safe Labor seat while making the neighbouring seats of Gilmore and Hume much more competitive for the ALP.

The seat has been held by Jennie George since 2001. George is retiring in 2010, and the seat is expected to be won by CPSU national secretary Stephen Jones, running for the ALP.

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Seat profile #74: Cunningham

Cunningham is a Labor seat covering northern suburbs of Wollongong and sparsely populated southern parts of the Sutherland Shire. Cunningham covers the Wollongong CBD and northern suburbs including Bulli, Austinmer, Thirroul, Fairy Meadow, and Helensburgh.

Cunningham has been won by the ALP at every federal election since its creation in 1949, although it was a key electorate in the early 2000s, when it was won by the Greens at a 2002 by-election, when local Labor preselection battles and disillusionment with federal Labor leader Simon Crean and the looming war in Iraq. The seat was won back by Labor candidate Sharon Bird in 2004, but remains one of the strongest areas for the Greens outside of inner-city Sydney and Melbourne.

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A tale of two systems

Last Saturday we saw state elections in Australia’s two smallest states. Both states have been governed by the Labor Party for a number of terms and saw a resurgent Liberal Party threaten the ALP’s hold on power. In both states, we saw a swing away from the ALP. That’s where the comparisons end, because South Australia’s election was conducted using a single-member preferential voting system, while Tasmania uses the single transferable vote proportional representation system (known locally as Hare-Clark).

Last weekend stands as a perfect comparison between the two broad options in western democracy about how we organise our elections: do you go for a system of single-member electorates, or do you aim for a system that closely reflects each party’s vote in the seats in the Parliament?

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Tasmania 2010: the morning after

Sky News last night reported a local exit poll in Tasmania which predicted nine seats for the ALP, nine seats for the Liberal Party and four for the Greens, with three undecided. This morning the state of play exactly reflects that poll. The ALP has won nine seats, the Liberals nine, and the Greens four. The seats have split 2-2-1 in Bass and Lyons with undecided seats in Denison, Franklin and Braddon.

Detailed electorate analysis after the fold.

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South Australia and Tasmania election night liveblog

11:31pm – I’m signing off for the night. I’ll come back tomorrow to post wrap-ups of the results in South Australia and Tasmania tomorrow. You can read tonight’s commentary, as well as maps showing the result in South Australia, it’s available over the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Election day in South Australia and Tasmania

Voters go to the polls today in Australia’s two smallest states. In both states long-standing Labor governments are set to take a hit, although the situation is very different.

In South Australia, Mike Rann’s ALP is set to lose seats to Liberal leader Isobel Redmond. If Redmond can win power, she will become the first female Liberal premier in Australia, the first female Premier of South Australia and the first woman to win power from opposition in an Australian state. While Mike Rann’s majority is set to be slashed, the result will likely be either a slim Labor majority or a hung parliament, with Labor falling one seat short of a majority and relying on a crossbencher, such as ex-Labor independent Kris Hanna or Nationals MP (and Rann government minister) Karlene Maywald, to reach a majority. This would be a similar situation to the election results in 1989, 1997 and 2002. In the cases of 1989 and 1997, they saw the incumbent government retain power for one final term.

In Tasmania, the situation is very different. The Hare-Clark system, combined with the poor performance of the state Labor Party, have created a situation where no-one is predicting a majority for any party, and no-one even knows which party would have a better chance of doing so. We pretty know the result: Greens holding the balance of power in a hung parliament. What happens next is the interesting part. Even still, we don’t know what will happen in individual seats. The Liberals look set to gain second seats in Bass, Lyons and Franklin. In Braddon the Liberals and Greens are competing to take the third Labor seat. In Denison, all three parties are guaranteed only one seat, and will compete to win a second. The Greens are running a strong second candidate in Hobart Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet. On the Labor side, polls have suggested Premier David Bartlett could even be in danger of losing his seat in Denison, where the ALP is running Scott Bacon, son of former Premier Jim Bacon, alongside Bartlett and two of his ministers.

While numbers vary, the Tasmanian polls are agreed on some key facts: the ALP has been hit hard, and the Greens are polling much higher than in the past. The ALP campaign was hurt hard this week when negative campaigning tactics backfired. The campaign, already gripped by panic, ran flyers and robocalls attacking the Greens policy on drug reform and on giving prisoners the right to vote, but the usually anti-Green media turned on the ALP over the tactics. While it is not yet clear who will win the key seats in Tasmania, the most interesting element of the process won’t begin until Sunday. The ALP and the Liberals have both insisted that they would not make a governing agreement with the Greens, and seem to be saying that they will let the party with the largest number of seats govern. This may be a short-term strategy to keep the Greens away from the levers of power, but sooner or later either the Greens need to reach some agreement with a major party to support its government, or the opposition major party will be forced to support the government to prevent the Greens bringing down the government. The process will be fascinating.

Consider this an open thread for election day. I will be liveblogging this evening as well as posting commentary on Twitter.


Greens preselect in inner-Sydney seats

The Greens have now preselected candidates for the two seats in Sydney’s inner city where the party has performed most strongly in the past. These candidates join other prominent Greens inner-city candidates Adam Bandt, running in Melbourne, and former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, running in Brisbane.

Greens candidate for Sydney, Tony Hickey.

In Sydney, the Greens are running activist and teacher Tony Hickey. Hickey is the Greens NSW state secretary and has long been a party activist. He has started his campaign by calling on the ALP to change its position on same-sex marriage, a major issue in the Greens’ inner-city campaigns.

Greens candidate for Grayndler, Sam Byrne.

In Grayndler, the Greens have just preselected Sam Byrne, former Mayor of Marrickville. Byrne was a Greens councillor on Marrickville council from 1999 until 2008, and ran as the Greens candidate at the 2005 Marrickville by-election, where he polled almost 39%.

The Greens managed their best results in NSW in Sydney and Grayndler in 2007. They polled 20.7% in Sydney and 18.7% in Grayndler. While there were swings against the Greens in the House of Representatives, the Greens polled substantially higher in the Senate, polling over 24% in Sydney, reflecting a strategy of focusing attention on the Senate.

It is always difficult for the Greens to win lower house seats, and 2010 will be no exception, but after three years of the Rudd government governing from the centre, the Greens should perform strongly in left-wing inner city seats where the sitting MPs struggle to straddle the left-wing politics of their constituencies and the demands of ALP solidarity. Sitting ministers Anthony Albanese (Grayndler) and Tanya Plibersek (Sydney) have in the past worked to create an image of progressivism on issues like climate change and same-sex marriage while supporting contradictory Labor policies, and this will become harder as they sit in government.

Sydney and Grayndler also cover the key state electorates of Balmain and Marrickville, where the Greens will be seeking a breakthrough into the NSW Legislative Assembly in 2011. They also cover Leichhardt and Marrickville council areas, which both elected large numbers of Greens councillors at the 2008 council elections.

Read more in the Tally Room seat profiles for Sydney and Grayndler.