Bass – Tasmania 2018

Incumbent MPs

  • Sarah Courtney (LIB), since 2010.
  • Andrea Dawkins (GRN), since 2015.*
  • Michael Ferguson (LIB), since 2010. Previously federal Member for Bass 2004-2007.
  • Peter Gutwein (LIB), since 2002.
  • Michelle O’Byrne (ALP), since 2006. Previously federal Member for Bass 1998-2004.

*Dawkins filled a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Kim Booth on 20 May 2015.

Bass covers the north-eastern corner of Tasmania. It covers the LGAs of Launceston, George Town and Dorset, along with small parts of West Tamar and Meander Valley LGAs to the west of Launceston. Bass also covers Tasmania’s north-eastern islands, including Flinders Island.

Bass was first created as a state electorate in 1909, when Tasmania moved to a system of proportional representation with each district electing six members. Bass has always had the same boundaries as the federal electorate of the same name.

At the 1909 election, the Anti-Socialists won three seats, the ALP two and one seat went to the “Liberal Democrats” party. The ALP and the Liberals won three seats each at the 1912, 1913 and 1916 elections.

The Nationalists won a 4-2 majority in 1919, although one of those four seats was lost to an independent in 1922.

The ALP and Nationalists maintained a 3-3 split at the 1925, 1928 and 1934 elections, with the Nationalists gaining a 4-2 majority in 1931.

The ALP won a majority in Bass for the first time in 1937, maintaining it until a 3-3 split was restored in 1948. Bass continued to elect even numbers of Liberals and Labor MPs from 1948 until 1959, when an expanded House of Assembly saw Bass elect a seventh seat, which went to an independent.

After the ALP and Liberals won three seats each at each election, the seventh Bass seat was traded back and forth from 1964 to 1986, with the ALP winning in 1964, 1972 and 1979, and the Liberals winning in 1969, 1976, 1982 and 1986.

Green independent Lance Armstrong won the seventh seat in 1989, and retained it in 1992, when the Liberals won a fourth seat off the ALP, who were reduced to two seats.

The ALP regained their third seat in 1996 at the expense of Armstrong, producing a 4-3 split favouring the Liberals.

The reduction of seats at the 1998 election hit the Liberal Party hard, who lost two of their four seats, while the ALP retained their three seats. The ALP lost one of those three seats to Kim Booth in 2002.

The 2-2-1 split was retained at the 2006 election, although former federal MP Michelle O’Byrne topped the poll and helped engineer the only pro-Labor swing in the state, almost defeating Booth, who won the final seat by a 136-vote margin over Labor candidate Steve Reissig.

Bass was the only electorate to maintain the party ratio in 2010, with 2 Labor, 2 Liberal and 1 Greens. Every other electorate shifted to the same proportion as Bass.

Sitting Labor MP Jim Cox and Liberal MP Sue Napier both retired. The poll was topped by former federal Liberal MP Michael Ferguson. For the second election in a row, a federal MP who had been defeated at the last federal election switched to state politics and topped the poll. Along with Michael Ferguson, the other open seat went to the ALP’s Brian Wightman.

The Liberal Party’s Sarah Courtney won a third seat for the party in 2014, with Labor’s Brian Wightman losing his seat.


The Liberal Party did well in 2014 winning a third seat. Labor will be hoping to win back that seat. The Greens seat is not particularly safe, and could be vulnerable if Labor does well but the Liberal Party can still hold on to their third seat.

2014 result

Peter Gutwein15,04123.31.3999
Michael Ferguson14,41822.41.3419
Sarah Courtney3,0464.70.2835
Barry Jarvis2,5824.00.2403
Leonie McNair1,7952.80.1671
Liberal Party 36,882 57.2 3.4327
Michelle O’Byrne6,85210.60.6377
Brian Wightman5,2688.20.4903
Senka Mujkic1,1831.80.1101
Andrew Connor1,0071.60.0937
Adam Gore6921.10.0644
Australian Labor Party 15,002 23.3 1.3963
Kim Booth6,66110.30.6200
Andrea Dawkins4670.70.0435
Amy Tyler3690.60.0343
Anna Povey3660.60.0341
Anne Layton-Bennett3340.50.0311
Tasmanian Greens 8,197 12.7 0.7629
Tim Parish1,1471.80.1068
Christopher Dobson9101.40.0847
Mark Hines6721.00.0625
Brian Gunst5790.90.0539
Palmer United Party 3,308 5.1 0.3079
Ray Kroeze6801.10.0633
Australian Christians 680 1.1 0.0633
Andrew Roberts2230.30.0208
Brett Lucas1670.30.0155
Total Others 390 0.6 0.0363

Booth breakdown

Bass covers part or all of four local council areas. Most of the population lies in Launceston local government area. These booths have been split into Rural, North and South. The vast majority of voters live in the Launceston urban area.

The remaining booths have been split along local government boundaries: Dorset, George Town and Flinders Island.

The Liberal Party topped the poll in all six areas. The Liberal vote ranged from 50.3% in George Town to 74% in Dorset.

The Labor vote followed the opposite trend, ranging from 13.8% in Dorset to 30.8% in George Town. The Greens vote ranged from 6.3% in Dorset to 18.% in Launceston Rural. The Greens outpolled Labor in Launceston Rural.

Voter groupLIB %ALP %GRN %Total votes% of votes
Launceston South59.422.312.020,95032.5
Launceston North52.126.514.219,24529.9
George Town50.330.89.33,3225.2
Launceston Rural57.616.518.12,2253.5
Other votes57.922.413.214,45922.4

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