Early Tasmanian election?


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.

This speculation has been prompted by the recent decision to deny preselection to Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey, who despite her party membership has proven to be quite independent. She responded by announcing plans to run for re-election in her seat of Clark as an independent, effectively pushing the government into minority status.

Hickey will be one of three high-profile independents to contest Clark, along with sitting independent MHA Madeleine Ogilvie, a former Labor member who lost her seat in 2018 before regaining it in a countback, and Glenorchy mayor Kristie Johnston. This could well see the Liberals fall to just one seat in Clark.

The Liberal Party won three seats each in the northern and central electorates of Bass, Braddon and Lyons in 2018. So to maintain their majority they would need to hold their existing seats and regain their second seat in Clark, gain a third in Franklin or gain a fourth in one of the other electorates.

One of the things I need for my guides is to conduct my own redistribution calculations so that I can include accurate breakdowns below the seat level.

Tasmania uses the same boundaries for the House of Representatives and the state lower house, the House of Assembly. Each electorate elects one federal member and five state members.

The last federal redistribution concluded late in 2017, which was too late to apply to the March 2018 election, so these new boundaries are already quite old.

The new boundaries have seen the Hobart-area seat of Denison renamed Clark, while gaining a tiny area from Franklin. Franklin has also lost voters to Lyons. Lyons has gained voters from Bass and Franklin, and given them to Bass and Braddon. Braddon has gained voters but has not lost any.

I wrote about the new boundaries when the second draft was released in 2017. I don’t believe there were any further changes. But I never estimated their impact on the state level based on the 2018 election results.

Antony Green also published his estimates yesterday, so I claim no originality on this point, but there are a few minor differences between his estimates and mine. I will be using mine for my guides, including the vote breakdowns within each seat.

SeatLIB primALP primGRN prim

None of the changes are particularly dramatic. There are no margin changes to Denison/Clark. My model agrees with Antony that Braddon has become slightly better for the Liberal Party, although my model must transfer different batches of votes from Franklin to Lyons, since I have the Liberal Party losing ground in Lyons and gaining ground in Franklin, and Antony’s estimates show the opposite.

That’s it for now, I’ll post again when the electorate guides are ready to go.

EDIT 27 MARCH: Thanks to William Bowe for tracking down an error in my Tasmania 2018 dataset – most of the booth results in Franklin were transposed to the next booth in the alphabet. The dataset has now been corrected, so please re-download if you’re using them. I’ve updated the above table for Franklin and Lyons (which gained voters from Franklin). It means my estimates now move in a similar direction to Antony’s estimates.

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  1. I like Peter Gutwein, Moderate sensible Liberal premier, I’d would have considered for the Liberals if I lived in Tasmania.

    As for the possible election, There are many times in history where government leaders went to early elections (snap elections) and lost or lost their majority, (Theresa May rings the bell) So I am not sure if it is a good idea calling a snap election during a pandemic, Julia Gillard called an early election in 2010 and look what happened to Labor.

    Of course I’m not saying it will happen to Gutwein and the Liberals, it probably won’t but there is always that risk. I believe the Liberals could potentially replicate their 2014 result and win about 15 seats while a small majority on paper it is a landslide in Tasmanian terms.

    Personally if I was the Tasmanian premier I would wait until 2022, I don’t see an issue with Rebecca White being pregnant during the campaign because it won’t stop her from delivering her message. Hickey could win in Clark and should she win Gutwein would likely want her to stay on as speaker to prevent complicating his majority should he get one and considering the speaker usually doesn’t support votes of no-confidence if Hickey is a crossbencher and she votes to bring down the government it could prove fatal if the Liberals only win 13 seats (assuming Labor and the Greens also vote to bring down the gov which they likely would)

    So to come to the conclusion, Yes Gutwein and the Liberals are favoured but I could see a resurgent Labor party snatch victory in the jaws of defeat from the Liberals if they don’t play their cards right and Gutwein would need to be cautious not to alienate Sue Hickey should he refuse to appoint her speaker because her vote could bring down the government forcing another early election (Since if there is a new speaker they only vote to break ties)

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