The Tasmanian Legislative Council is an oddity amongst elected bodies in Australia. It’s the only state upper house elected by single-member electorates, and it is unique in being elected annually, with one sixth elected each year over a six year cycle. But I wanted to particularly focus today on its tradition of being dominated by independents.
Independent members aren’t a rare addition in the Council. Until the 2020 election, independents had held a majority of seats for the entire history of the council. Two independent members were replaced by members of the major parties in 2020, reducing the number of independents to just seven out of fifteen seats in the chamber.
This will be quite a long post looking at the historical trends and data in who holds these seats, who is running for them, and the left-right balance in the chamber.
The seat should be an interesting contest, with both Labor and the Shooters having their eye on the seat.
Outgoing Nationals MP Michael Johnsen won by a margin of just 2.6% in 2019 against Labor. The Shooters polled 22%, and the margin for the Nationals against the Shooters was just 3.2%.
The circumstances of Johnsen’s departure wouldn’t be helpful for the government, but this is offset against general political circumstances that have been very helpful to incumbents.
The electorate covers a large rural area to the north of Newcastle, and there were some interesting variations in geographic trends at the 2019 election, as mapped out in this blog post. Labor gained swings in Singleton and Scone while the Nationals gained swings in a majority of the booths, producing practically no change overall.
We’ve now got results for the three non-metropolitan regions for the Western Australian Legislative Council, with the metropolitan regions due to be decided after the Easter long weekend.
In two of the three regions, an MLC has been elected representing a small minor party. In the South West region, the Legalise Cannabis party has won a seat off just 2.1% of the vote (less than either the Greens or the Shooters, who both missed out). But the far more outrageous result is in Mining and Pastoral region, where the Daylight Saving Party won a seat off just 98 above-the-line votes, or about 0.2% of the total.
The three seats are Derwent to the north-west of Hobart, Windermere to the north-east of Launceston, and Mersey which covers Devonport.
The incumbent Labor MLC is running for re-election in Derwent and a centre-left independent MLC is running for re-election in Mersey (and is yet to be opposed by any other candidate).
(EDIT: shortly after posting this blog post, nominations closed and Mike Gaffney was elected unopposed in Mersey.)
Conservative independent Ivan Dean is retiring in Windermere. That seat has been competitive in the past.
I would expect this race would be heavily influenced by the elections being held simultaneously with the House of Assembly election. Legislative Council candidates (independents and partisan candidates) are limited in their spending in such a way that their campaign will be massively overshadowed by the lower house race.
This comes as there has been a gradual trend of independents being replaced by Labor and Liberal members, one which saw independents cease to hold a majority of seats after the 2020 elections. I will return to that topic in a future blog post after I have posted my Upper Hunter profile at some point on the weekend.
This map shows the three contests, and you can click on each seat to view the profile:
I have now finished the first part of my Tasmanian election guide, with profiles posted for all five House of Assembly electorates.
These guides feature maps of the 2018 results, tables showing the results broken down by each part of the seat, a history of each electorate and a list of candidates. Each page has its own comment section.
I am planning to also write profiles for the three Legislative Council electorates which are scheduled to be up for election on the same day. This is the first time in Tasmanian history that both elections will be held on the same day (unless the Council election is delayed until later in May). I should have those profiles finished by mid-week, and they will be linked to from the same guide.
Speculation is rife that the Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, will call an early election as early as today for Saturday, May 1. This is about a year before the election needs to be held, and ten months before the four-year anniversary of the last election in March 2018.
I haven’t yet prepared my guide for this election, but should be able to get it done in the next week. Unfortunately this means that the maps for the Victorian and Western Australian federal redistributions will need to wait for a bit.
As previously discussed, every seat has stayed in the hands of the party that already held it. The Liberal seat of Stirling has been abolished and the Labor seat of Hawke has been created with a 10.2% margin.
Apart from the seats created or abolished, the biggest changes were in Hotham and Bruce in south-eastern Melbourne. Labor’s margin in Hotham increased from 5.9% to 11.3%, while in neighbouring Bruce it declined from 14.2% to 7.4%. The Labor margin in Fraser increased by 3.9% from 14.2% to 18.1% and the Liberal margin in Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce declined from 7.5% to 5.2%. No other seat shifted by more than 2%.
Overall you’d be pleased with this result if you were Labor.
I’ll take some time to make the new boundary files before returning with more analysis.
6:00pm – Okay all the data problems appear to be fixed now. I will update my estimates shortly, but it looks like the margin in Hawke is back to 10.2%.
I will be spending the next week or so producing maps for both Victoria and Western Australia and I will return at the end of that process with more discussion about what the actual changes are, rather than just the margins. Thanks for joining me on this messy trip.
4:28pm – It appears that the La Trobe SA1s (and mostly if not entirely just La Trobe) are based on the 2011 census, not 2016. But then there is also some mysterious problem with Ballarat. Right now I’m thinking of switching back to the non-AEC data source which, while not perfectly, largely made sense and added up to roughly the right number of voters. Hmmm.
3:54pm – There’s something weird going on with the data which means that all of old McEwen is being transferred into Hawke. I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of it but Antony has not posted margins for those two seats so I suspect there is something weird with the AEC’s data.
2:54pm – I’m going to take a short break and then come back to continue summarising the changes.
2:50pm – Margins and vote shares for Victoria have been updated based on official AEC data now.
The other changes have mostly stayed the same but my estimate for Hawke has now dropped from 10.2% to 5%.
2:13pm – No seats have changed hands.
The new seat of Hawke is a Labor seat with a notional margin of 10.2%.
The Labor margin in Hotham has expanded from 5.9% to 11.3%, while the Labor margin in Fraser has expanded from 14.2% to 18%.
Labor has done worse in Bruce, where their margin has been slashed from 14.2% to 7.4%.
That’s about it for significant changes.
2:11pm – And here are the estimated margins.
ALP vs GRN 14.6%
ALP vs GRN 14.8%
IND vs LIB 1.4%
IND vs LIB 1.4%
LIB vs GRN 5.7%
LIB vs GRN 5.6%
GRN vs LIB 21.8%
GRN vs LIB 21.8%
ALP vs GRN 8.2%
ALP vs GRN 8.5%
2:01pm – Thanks to Shen Black, who has made his own estimates of transferred SA1s in Victoria, I have been able to calculate vote shares. Margins will be on their way shortly.
Worth noting that the gap between Labor and the Greens in Macnamara has narrowed from 7.5% to 4.9%. Not as dramatic as expected.
1:35pm – The AEC had proposed to rename Corangamite as Cox in the previous redistribution, but cancelled those plans in the final decision. Part of the motivation was that the seat has moved further away from the Lake Corangamite area and close to Geelong. The AEC normally avoids renaming federation electorates, but had decided that Corangamite no longer represented the area referred to in the name.
It appears they have decided to have a second go with Tucker, and this version of Corangamite/Tucker has moved even close to Geelong, with Wannon taking in towns as close as Anglesea and Winchelsea.
1:33pm – As mentioned before, there has been significant population transfer between Higgins and Macnamara in the inner south-east. Beyond that the changes all appear relatively modest, with no great movements of seats.
1:31pm – Looking at the Melbourne area, the seat of Fraser has been pulled closer to the city, pushing Maribyrnong out of the City of Maribyrnong and further into the north-west.
The new seat of Hawke has been created on the north-western fringe of Melbourne, covering Sunbury, Melton, Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. This has had significant knock-on effects throughout the western suburbs.
1:25pm – Bennee in comments has pointed out that the booths transferred from Macnamara into Higgins are much better for Labor relative to the Greens, and the booths transferred in the opposite direction are much better for Labor. This might make Macnamara a notional Greens seat.
1:20pm – Alright it seems like neither the Parliamentary Library nor Antony Green have the SA1 figures for Victoria so I will focus on describing the changes until we get that data.
1:18pm – I’m not entirely sure how you can have only four seats shift towards the Liberal Party (with three shifting significantly to Labor) while a Liberal seat is abolished but Antony’s calculations look the same as mine. Anyone have any theories?
1:16pm – Here are the links to the maps at the AEC:
1:12pm – The AEC website is lacking the SA1-level data for Victoria which will prevent me from calculating vote shares and margins. If you find it, shout out.
12:58pm – I’m going to take a short break then be back with Victoria.
12:57pm – The main changes are in the Liberal seats of Pearce, Tangney and Durack, where the margin has shrunk by 2.3%, 1.9% and 1.3% respectively, and in Perth where Labor’s margin has shrunk by 1.7%.
12:56pm – And here is a comparison of the WA margins before and after the redistribution:
12:49pm – Here’s my estimates of the vote share for each party in Western Australia’s 15 new electorates:
12:23pm – I’ll go quiet for a bit now while I compile the data to calculate the margins.
12:22pm – Every seat in Western Australia will be redrawn. The AEC specifically mentioned the expansion of Pearce into rural areas further north.
12:21pm – The AEC has proposed to abolish the Western Australian seat of Stirling, and has changed the basis for the naming of the seat of Canning to include Sadie Miriam Canning, Western Australia’s first Indigenous nurse. The seat is already named after Alfred Canning, an early Australian surveyor. It’s not clear to me if there are links between the two.
12:17pm – A new Victorian seat of Hawke has been created, named after Bob Hawke.
29 out of 38 current Victorian electoral boundaries have been modified. I think this means that nine other seats have been left unchanged (although it’s possible they mean that 29 of the new seats are newly drawn, and ten left unchanged).
The seat of Corangamite has been renamed Tucker, after Margaret Tucker, a founding member of the Australian Aborigines League.
12:13pm – The draft electoral boundaries for Victoria and Western Australia for the next federal redistribution have just been released. I’ll be liveblogging a summary of the changes as well as estimates of the vote share in the new electorates.
The new boundaries are required due to Victoria gaining a 39th electorate, and Western Australia losing one of their 16 electorates.
We’re now six days past the Western Australian state election, and the picture has become clearer in both houses. I thought I’d run through the state of play as of Thursday evening.
In the Legislative Assembly, just one seat is still in play: Churchlands in the inner north-western suburbs. Labor’s Christine Tonkin is currently leading by 214 votes, ahead of Liberal MP Sean L’Estrange, who won the seat in 2013 with a margin of over 20%. It looks likely that the seat will go to Labor. Tonkin took the lead on Thursday morning.
This will give Labor 53 seats, compared with four for the Nationals and two for the Liberal Party.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I’ve gone through the last two regions.
Labor has won four seats in South Metropolitan (along with one Liberal) and their preferences are pushing the Greens over the top for the fifth seat, but only by a slim margin over the Liberal Democrats.
Labor have won three seats in the South West, along with one Liberal. There is a fourth seat for a party of the left which is currently going to Legalise Cannabis. If they are knocked out, that seat would likely go to Labor. The Nationals look likely to win the other seat.
There have already been some shifts in the counting in the other four regions. In East Metropolitan, the Labor vote has climbed from 4.52 to 4.67 quotas, and Legalise Cannabis has fallen behind WAP. If that happens, Labor would win a 23rd seat.
Meanwhile in North Metropolitan, a climbing Labor vote has contributed to the Greens reaching 0.79 quotas by the end of the count. If the left vote keeps climbing it’d be worth watching to see if the Greens can win there.