Murchison – Tasmania LC 2017

Incumbent MLC
Ruth Forrest, since 2005.

Geography
West coast of Tasmania. Murchison covers the Circular Head, Waratah/Wynyard, West Coast and King Island council areas, along with a small part of the Burnie council area. The seat covers the towns of Queenstown, Zeehan, Rosebery, Wynyard, Smithton, Stanley, Somerset, Strahan and Waratah.

History
The seat of Murchison was created in the redistribution of 1999, and largely replaced the west coast seat of Russell, which had existed since 1885. The seat of Russell/Murchison has been held by seven members from 1885 to 2017, all of whom sat as independents.

The seat was held by Arthur Fenton from 1933 until 1957, when he was succeeded by his nephew Charles Fenton. Fenton held the seat until his retirement in 1981.

Fenton was replaced in 1981 by Tony Fletcher. Fletcher sat as a conservative independent, although he served as leader of the government in the upper house in Liberal governments in the 1980s and 1990s. Fletcher took over the new seat of Murchison in 1999, and held the seat until his retirement in 2005.

Murchison was narrowly won by progressive independent Ruth Forrest. Forrest was elected with 29% of the primary vote and managed 51.3% of the vote after preferences. Forrest was unopposed for re-election in 2011.

Candidates

  • Ruth Forrest
  • Darryl Quilliam

Assessment
Forrest won a close contest in 2005, but would likely perform much stronger in a contested election this year after twelve years representing Murchison. Her only rival, Darryl Quilliam, is a local mayor so could perform well, but he comes from a less populous part of the seat.

Booth breakdown
There have been no Legislative Council elections in Murchison since 2005 to use as a comparison, so I have taken the booths used in this electorate at the 2016 federal election to calculate the proportion of the electorate contained in each council area.

  • Waratah/Wynyard – 7,215
  • Circular Head – 4,002
  • Burnie – 1,960
  • West Coast – 1,855
  • King Island – 798

Most of the seat’s population is in the area immediately to the west of Burnie.

The following map shows the size of each booth in the seat at the 2016 election, with colour codes indicating each local government area.

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.