Tasmania Archive


Tasmanian upper house guides posted

Tasmania’s Legislative Council is elected by a unique voting system, with a small proportion of the fifteen seats up for election every year, with the entire state voting over the course of a six-year cycle.

This voting system tends to favour local independents over the major parties, with Labor currently holding four seats and the Liberal Party one, along with ten independents.

Two seats are up for election in 2018, and I’ve prepared guides for both contests.

This map shows the location of the two seats:

Hobart covers the inner city of Hobart, and was won in 2012 by left-leaning independent Rob Valentine, who is favourite to win in 2018.

Prosser is a new seat created out of parts of four other seats in the south-eastern corner of Tasmania. There is no incumbent MP, with an MP representing an abolished seat elsewhere in the state retiring this year. The seat has some strong Labor areas including Sorell, along with better Liberal areas further north. Prosser could go to either major party, or to a strong independent, and will be the first electoral test for the re-elected majority Liberal government.


QLD, TAS & NT federal redistributions – estimates of margins

In recent months, federal redistributions have been completed for Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Queensland, with Queensland’s being finalised on January 5.

As far as I can tell, no-one else has published margin estimates for the five Tasmanian seats and the two NT seats. Antony Green has published his estimates of the Queensland margins here. You’ll see that my estimates don’t diverge by much – by 0.1% per seat on average.

I have recently been calculating my own redistribution margins as part of the process of transferring booths so that I can produce maps for the new boundaries as part of my guides. This time I decided to use a new methodology which should be more reliable and quicker.

The AEC publishes data on how many votes were cast at each polling place (and each method of special vote) from each SA1 – the smallest area used for Census data. The AEC also publishes a list of every SA1 and which electorate it has been moved into (and out of) for each redistribution.

Using these datasets, it’s possible to quickly take the results of each booth, split them up in proportion to how much of that booth’s voters have been redistributed, and calculate new totals.

This is superior to my old methodology, where I would move booths according to which seat they lie in. Unfortunately this did not take account of small shifts where no booth moved, or where a booth was right on the border. I would have to guess how much of the booth’s voters would’ve shifted. The new method uses the actual AEC data. It is also a better solution to moving special votes. I’ve traditionally taken an even proportion of all special votes, even though this includes a bunch of pre-poll booths which are distributed across a seat. In practice these pre-poll booths would likely take more voters from one area than another, so distributing their votes according to the actual homes of the voters is far superior.

As to the results of these redistributions, 12 Queensland electorates experienced no change at all. Not one of the 37 seats has changed party. The biggest change has taken place in Lyons, with the Labor margin strengthened from 2.3% to 3.8%. The second biggest effect was in Blair, where the Labor margin was cut from 8.9% to 8.1%.

The five most marginal seats in these three jurisdictions did not experience any change. There was no boundary change in Flynn, Longman, Forde or Herbert, and the minor change to Capricornia had no impact on the seat’s margin.

The full list of margins are below the fold. I look forward to using this new method to quickly calculate margins for the three remaining redistributions (Victoria, SA and ACT) when the draft boundaries are released in coming months.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tasmanian federal redistribution – let’s try that again

Tasmania is currently undergoing a redistribution of its federal boundaries – the second of six federal redistributions due during this parliamentary term. The boundaries will also apply to Tasmanian state lower house elections, but probably not until the 2022 state election.

The draft boundaries were released earlier this year, and they saw a few significant changes. The seat of Bass, which covers most of the Launceston area, retracted in to just cover areas surrounding the Tamar river, losing the north-eastern corner of the state. Lyons underwent changes in a number of areas.

It is standard practice for federal redistributions to go through two rounds of suggestions and comment, followed by the release of a draft map, then two more rounds of objection and comment, followed by the release of the final boundaries. This time, however, the AEC has chosen to open up another round of objections and comment, as the boundaries released today were significantly different to the first draft.

No changes were made to the boundaries of three of the five seats, but there were significant changes to the Bass/Lyons border. Bass regained the Dorset and Flinders council areas in the north-eastern corner of Tasmania, and lost the small part of the Meander Valley council area contained within the Launceston urban area. This area was contained in Bass at least since 2001.

At the other end of the state, the Hobart-area seat of Denison has been renamed Clark, after Andrew Inglis Clark: state Supreme Court justice, Attorney-General and one of the inventors of the Hare-Clark voting system. This followed a campaign to change the seat name, including from sitting MP Andrew Wilkie and his predecessor Duncan Kerr.

You can download the new boundary map here, or view the three versions of the boundary on the below map:

I’ve seen some commentary expressing frustration about the removal of the urban parts of the Meander valley from Bass, sticking them in an electorate which stretches to the edge of Hobart.

Unfortunately it isn’t possible for Bass to contain both the Meander Valley area and the Dorset/Flinders corner without pushing Bass over quota.

Based on projected 2021 enrolment figures, Bass must lie within 3.5% of the average. In real numbers, they must have between 74,289 and 79,677 projected enrolment. Bass is projected (as drawn) to have 75,653 voters.

There are three areas which have been moved between Bass and Lyons – the Meander Valley area on the south side of Launceston, the Dorset/Flinders corner of the state, and the West Tamar area which was moved from Lyons to Bass in the original draft and remains there. Each has between 5867 and 7828 voters as of 2021, and if all three were included in Bass it would be more populous than is permitted.

So the original Redistribution Committee decided to make Bass more of a Launceston-based electorate, moving the rural north-east into Lyons, and the augmented Commission has instead decided to make Bass follow local government areas, leaving part of the Launceston urban area in Lyons.

So now there is time for interested parties to argue the case. Theoretically they could also decide to completely reverse the Lyons-Bass border back to its previous boundaries, putting the West Tamar back into Lyons, but this is unlikely.

Bass second draft74,46775,653
Lyons second draft75,50878,313
Meander Valley (Bass to Lyons)6,8407,233
Dorset/Flinders (Bass to Lyons to Bass)5,8495,867
West Tamar (Lyons to Bass)7,6757,828
Minimum enrolment67,51374,289
Maximum enrolment82,51579,677

Data repository update – WA, SA and Tasmania

I’ve made a number of updates to the data repository in preparation for the next round of state elections.

I’ve added to the data from the 2017 WA state election. Originally I had a limited dataset for the Legislative Council election, without below-the-line vote breakdowns by polling place, and without a seat-by-seat breakdown of the special vote for the upper house. This gap has now been filled.

I’ve also posted datasets for the 2010 and 2014 Tasmanian state elections and the 2014 South Australian state election. The only thing missing is booth-level results for the SA upper house, which will be a project for another time.

As usual, these datasets can be accessed from the data page. Each dataset includes a polling place list, a candidate list, and a list of vote breakdowns by polling place and candidate. Unique IDs can be used to match between each table.


Tasmanian Legislative Council elections – guides posted

In addition to yesterday posting guides to the NSW by-elections, I’ve now also posted guides to the three seats in the Tasmanian upper house election which will hold elections on May 6.

These three seats are:

Each guide has maps showing the results of that seat, along with the history of the seat.


Data update – Tasmanian upper house dataset

A few months ago I published a limited data repository, containing booth lists, candidate lists and election results at the booth level for a variety of state and local elections. At the time I talked about how most state electoral commissions fell short of the AEC when it comes to publishing complete and easy-to-use election datasets.

I’ve been most frustrated by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, on two fronts. Firstly, they publish the booth-level vote data in a very unfriendly manner: upper house results are published as PNG image files. Lower house primary votes are published as PDF files, and distributions of preferences as image files. The image files look very nice, unless you want to copy them into a spreadsheet and perform deeper analysis.

Secondly, the TEC is terrible at publishing booth lists which can be matched to the results. They publish a list of premises used for each election, including the suburb, but often there are more than one booth in a suburb. The results data contains a unique booth name, but for at least a decade now the TEC has rarely if ever published the booth data in the correct format allowing the matching of those addresses to the actual vote data.

For three years from 2013 to 2015 I published guides to the Tasmanian upper house elections, which are held every May for a small part of the state. This included the tedious task of tracking down the complete data to match addresses to vote data. I’ve decided to finish this task, and have been able to put together a booth list with unique booth names for the last ten years of upper house elections from 2007 to 2016. This can then be matched to the vote data at the booth level. The booth list also includes latitude and longitude for every ordinary booth.

Download the data here.


Council elections in Tasmania and SA

Two Australian states are in the process of electing their local councils for the next four years. Unfortunately due to the large volume of state elections currently taking place, I won’t be able to provide any coverage of these elections, but others have produced some useful coverage elsewhere.

South Australian elections take place every four years. All SA council elections are conducted by postal ballot – ballot papers will be sent out over the week of 20-24 October, and voting closes on November 7. SA councils are elected by a mixture of single-member and multi-member wards, as well as directly-elected Mayors in most (or possibly all?) councils.

Until this year, half of each Tasmanian council was elected every two years for a four year term. This year is the first time that entire councils have been up for election at the same time. Tasmanian councils have no wards – so this means that all councils are proportionally elected, and the quotas will drop significantly. Mayors in Tasmania tend to be directly-elected. Tasmanian ballot papers will be posted between the 14th and the 17th of October, and must be returned by the 28th of October.

The shift in Tasmania towards conducting all council elections on one day every four years means that only one Australian state now conducts staggered council elections. In Western Australia, councillors are elected every two years for four year terms. The next WA council elections are due in late 2015.

Queensland’s next council elections are due in early 2016, while both New South Wales and Victoria are both due around the time of the next federal election in late 2016.

Tasmanian psephologist Kevin Bonham has completed an in-depth profile of the Hobart City Council election, including analysis of how sitting councillors’ have voted and lists of candidates. I recommend it for those eager for more elections news.

Radio Adelaide program The Scrutineers, by Casey Briggs and Dianne Janes, has produced a special episode focusing on South Australia’s local government elections. You can listen to the show online, as well as subscribe to the podcast and download old episodes of the show.


Tasmanian council results

Local government election results have now been posted on the website of the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, showing primary vote figures from election night. I don’t know about most of the races, but a few key points of interest:

  • Mayor of Hobart Rob Valentine has been reelected with over 80% of the vote.
  • Greens councillor Helen Burnet was 80 votes ahead on the election night preference count for Deputy Mayor of Hobart. Burnet polled 41% of the primary vote to 38% for Peter Sexton, and she polled 50.22% after preferences. I don’t know if that is the final result.
  • The four Greens council candidates collectively polled 1.67 quotas in Hobart, with 1.37 quotas received by Burnet herself.
  • In Burnie, incumbent mayor Alvwyn Boyd has survived a challenge from Steve Kons of the ALP, with Boyd polled 51.26% after preferences.
  • In Dorset, incumbent mayor Peter Partridge only managed 13% of the primary vote, with Barry Jarvis polling almost 57%.

Post any other interesting results you have seen in the comments thread below.

Update: The Greens haven’t made any major gains in terms of council representation, although the election of Helen Burnet as Deputy Mayor of Hobart is an achievement for the party. Five incumbent councillors elected in 2005 were up for election: in Clarence, Hobart, Huon Valley, Kingborough and Southern Midlands. Four of these seats have been retained, whilst the Greens have lost their seat on Southern Midlands council. So far the party has won no extra seats, but is in with a good chance of electing a second Green on Hobart council and outside chances of a second councillor in Kingborough and a councillor in Launceston. The Greens polled much less in Launceston than in 2007, despite narrowly missing out on the Deputy Mayoralty. If the Greens win a second seat in Hobart it will give them a total of 4 seats and the Deputy Mayoralty, which puts them in a strong overall position on that council. As it currently stands, the party should win 11-14 seats, compared to 12 since the 2007 elections.


Tasmanian local council elections

Tasmania goes to the polls in October to elect local councillors across the state. Tasmania is broken up into twenty-nine LGAs. Tasmanian councils are not elected using wards: instead half of each council is elected every two years representing the entire council area, with councillors serving a four year term. Each council’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor are also directly elected by the voters at every council election for a two-year term.

Nominations have now closed for this year’s council elections, where each council will elect a Mayor and half a council. Voting is by postal ballot and will take place for two weeks from 13 October to 27 October.

I don’t have any particular information about this year’s council elections, although there has been coverage at the Tasmanian Politics blog. I have reviewed my Tasmanian LGA map, which was originally a very large file and difficult to use on slower computers. It should now run smoothly for anyone interested in following Tasmania’s council elections. Consider this post an opportunity to comment on any interesting council races.


Tasmania’s local government areas


Pembroke by-election

There will be a by-election in the Tasmanian Legislative Council electorate of Pembroke on August 1. Pembroke covers the eastern shore of the Derwent River, and is one of the seats covering the Hobart area. The seat was held by Labor MLC Alison Ritchie since 2001. Ritchie won re-election in 2007 and briefly served as a Minister in 2008 before resigning due to ill-health.

Ritchie resigned last month over a scandal involving the employment of her mother and other family members in her parliamentary office. Ritchie was one of four Labor MLCs in the Legislative Council.


Labor generally is more aggressive in Legislative Council elections, with the Liberal Party rarely running for seats. Interestingly, Pembroke was previously held by a Liberal, with Peter McKay, a conservative independent MLC since 1979, joining the Liberal Party in 1991 and serving until 1999, which included a spell as a minister.

In a surprising twist, the Liberal Party have nominated Vanessa Goodwin for the seat. Goodwin came close to winning a second seat for the Liberals in Franklin at the 2006 state election and performed strongly for the party in the 2007 federal election in the same seat. She was expected to win a second seat for the party at the next state lower house election in Franklin.

Labor are not running a candidate, however a number of pro-Labor independents are standing, most interestingly Honey Bacon, the widow of former Labor premier Jim Bacon. The Greens are also standing a candidate.

Elsewhere: Coverage from Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics, Poll Bludger, Mumble, and Malcolm Mackerras.