Bass – Australia 2013

ALP 6.7%

Incumbent MP
Geoff Lyons, since 2010.

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 created for the 1903 election, after Tasmania’s MPs were elected at large for the 1901 election. Bass has always been centred on Launceston, and has long been a marginal electorate. Indeed, the seat has changed hands from one MP to another fourteen times in its history, and only twice has an MP been succeeded by a member of the same party.

The seat was dominated by the Barnard family in the middle part of the twentieth century, with Claude Barnard holding the seat from 1934 to 1949, which included a period as Minister for Repatriation in the Chifley government. He was defeated by Liberal candidate Bruce Kekwick in 1949, who himself was defeated by Claude’s son Lance Barnard in 1954. The younger Barnard went on to serve as Deputy Prime Minister under Gough Whitlam from 1972 to 1974, and his resignation triggered the June 1975 Bass by-election, which saw a 14% swing to the Liberal Party, a major blow to the Whitlam government.

Kevin Newman (father of Queensland Premier, Campbell) held the seat from 1975 to 1984, during which time he served as a minister in the Fraser government. He was succeeded by Warwick Smith in 1984. Smith served up to the 1993 election, when he too was defeated by Labor candidate Silvia Smith.

Warwick Smith won seat back in 1996, and he served as a minister in the first Howard government. He was defeated again in 1998 by Michelle O’Byrne, who held the seat for two terms as a Labor MP before losing in 2004 as part of a backlash against Mark Latham’s forestry policies. She too went on to become a state MP for Bass at the 2006 state election.

At the 2007 election, the sitting Liberal MP Michael Ferguson was defeated himself by Launceston alderman Jodie Campbell. Campbell stepped down in 2010 after one term, and Labor candidate Geoff Lyons won the seat.


  • Ray Kroeze (Australian Christians)
  • Andrew Nikolic (Liberal)
  • Chris Dobson (Palmer United Party)
  • Christine Bergman (Family First)
  • Geoff Lyons (Labor)
  • Lucy Landon-Lane (Greens)
  • Jin-oh Choi (Secular Party)

Bass is held by a 6.7% margin, which is significant, but Bass has a history of swinging strongly, and in current circumstances this seat will be difficult for the ALP to hold.

2010 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Geoff Lyons ALP 28,448 43.43 +6.17
Steve Titmus LIB 26,010 39.71 -3.71
Sancia Colgrave GRN 10,206 15.58 +0.44
Adrian Watts CEC 838 1.28 +0.93

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Geoff Lyons ALP 37,165 56.74 +5.71
Steve Titmus LIB 28,337 43.26 -5.71
Polling places in Bass at the 2010 federal election. Dorset in blue, Flinders Island in orange, George Town in yellow, Launceston Rural in red, Launceston Urban in green. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Bass at the 2010 federal election. Dorset in blue, Flinders Island in orange, George Town in yellow, Launceston Rural in red, Launceston Urban in green. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into five areas. Three of the areas cover the entirety of their local government area: Dorset, George Town and Flinders Island. The remaining areas, which include all of Launceston City Council and small parts of two neighbouring council areas near Launceston. This area was split between Launceston Urban and Launceston Rural.

The vast majority of ordinary votes were cast in the Launceston urban area. The ALP won a 58% majority in that area. The vote in the remainder of the seat varied from 57.1% for the Liberal Party on Flinders Island to 61.2% for the ALP in George Town.

The Greens vote varies from 9.9% in Dorset to 22.6% in Launceston Rural.

Voter group GRN % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
Launceston Urban 15.45 58.17 42,395 64.72
Dorset 9.86 46.53 3,864 5.90
George Town 14.09 61.23 3,363 5.13
Launceston Rural 22.60 58.16 2,323 3.55
Flinders Island 21.10 42.93 417 0.64
Other votes 16.67 54.17 13,140 20.06
Two-party-preferred votes in Bass at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Bass at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Bass at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Bass at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Launceston at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Launceston at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Launceston at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Launceston at the 2010 federal election.


  1. I’m pretty sure this seat is gone for Labor even with some sort of recovery in the last few months. Recent polls have shown swings in the northern part of Tasmania of around 17%. I suspect Braddon is also gone for Labor.

  2. Agree with DB, the Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic should easily pick this seat up. Expect massive swings against Labor in Tasmania.

  3. Slight error in the text. It says that a member has only been succeeded by a member of the same party once, but it also says this was done in 1984 (on Kevin Newman’s resignation) and in 2010 (after the retirement of Jodie Campbell).

  4. My electorate.

    Bass sees a combination of rebound from last election (where the Liberals sacrificed Tasmania to achieve votes elsewhere), the current swing against the government, and a local candidate who has basically been invisible for the entire term. Geoff seems a nice enough guy, but just hasn’t gotten recognition for anything much.

    Andrew has been campaigning for an extended period already – posters have been up for probably 18 months already. So incumbency is not the normal advantage.

    Bass may well end up 60/40. Green vote has collapsed here, as has Labor’s. We haven’t had a chance to vote Labor our at state level here yet, so the federal election is the first vent for what has gone wrong at both levels.

  5. The resignation of Lance Barnard (ALP) was the start of the decline of the Whitlam Government as you stated. The late Col Kevin Newman (Lib) was the senior Regular Army officer in Tasmania until he resigned to contest the Bass by-election and won as you have pointed out. Newman was my first CO in 5RAR Holsworthy in 1973. The Capt Peter Cosgrove was the Adjt. I think Gen Cosgrove (retired) will be the next Governor General. Kevin Newman died of a dreadful illness called lupus. Kevin’s wife Sen Joseline Newman was a Liberal Senator for Tasmania.

  6. It will be interesting to see how the current change of ALP leadership will affect the polls now. I’m aware of another independent who is going to run, and the Greens candidate is also yet to be announced.

  7. This seat has some strong booths for labor, interesting to see the margin here. If the state governments stocks start to improve between now and the federal election, then tasmania will be a battleground state. Bass doesn’t necesarrily have to be written off now. If labor’s vote is tasmania is holding, then Bass is one step to being held. This time round, labor will have incumbency on its side and given low ministerial ambitions, Geoff Lyons will be able to be more present in the community. Given the strong green vote, as long as it doesn’t swing by more than 8%, then labor is looking good in Bass

  8. PJ “Kind of sounds like the start to a nursery rhyme.”
    Especially when Ms Landon-Lanes occupation is given as a painter & a dancer having more recently studied Expressive Arts! 😉

    Bass was decided by 40 votes in the ’93 election! It could be just as close this time….
    Any recent info DB?

  9. Tom Ellison has announced he is contesting as an independent candidate. Ellison is rumoured to be the person behind “Martin Gaylord” of the “New Examiner” who tangled with the Liberal candidate Nikolic in a matter that was recently the subject of a Press Council decision nominally in Nikolic’s favour. Ellison is a former Examiner journalist who left on acrimonious terms.

  10. ReachTEL poll has a clear lead for the LIBs,

    “Bass (Labor 6.7%): Geoff Lyons (Labor) 34.7%, Andrew Nikolic (Liberal) 48.9%, Greens 9.4%. Two party preferred: 54.0%-46.0% to Liberal. Preferred PM: Rudd 50.6%, Abbott 49.4%. Geoff Lyons: 25.6%-39.8%-30.3% (favourable-neutral-unfavourable). Andrew Nikolic: 43.3%-24.0%-24.6%.”

    See KB’s analysis, which points out this is a post Rudd swing of 7% to Lyons.

  11. Hard to see Labor winning this seat. With a Liberal Primary at 48% and it has been consistent for a long time, I am hearing that Labor aren’t campaigning here at all.

  12. DB – They are campaigning (Bass has a good Labor network, one MP and two Labor duty Senators – indeed, it is arguably the most over-pollied electorate in the country), but Labor is well aware that the polls in Tassie are not good. Originally, I would not have been surprised if Lyons and Braddon were where the proverbial sandbags were set as we draw closer to the official campaign, but Bass is the closest of the three according to ReachTel, so it may become more of a focus.

    I expect Lyons may receive additional support first though…

    As you note though, the Libs are deserved favourites here.

  13. Have to agree, completely stupid of Lyons. It will only ensure that a seat that he was most likely going to lose is now definitely gone.

  14. That’s terrible stuff Yappo. You find out the character of a man when they are down. Unfortunately the incumbent doesn’t come up terribly strong in the character stakes.

  15. I don’t see anything wrong at all with that flyer. It’s a good point that once again a liberal has been parachuted into a seat. Generally in the house of reps, people like having a long term local rather then someone new to the area.

  16. DB: You mean, like how Nikolic reacted when someone wrote a satirical article about him?

    I’m still baffled as to how the media has “forgotten” all about that incident, but every little incursion by Geoff Lyons gets full coverage in the Examiner.

  17. Rubbish. It is another low shot by a party that is out of touch with the people of northern Tasmania. And the ALP will pay the ultimate price on election night in Tasmania generally.

    Observer, with a little research you would know that Nikolic has spent most of his married life in Bass and that his career has meant for work reasons he has worked in a number of places in Australa and around the world. Are we saying that personals with distinguished military records should not stand for Parliament? No, it’s just another attempt to denigrate a great candidate because there’s nothing left for Lyons to fight for. Parachuting? Happens in both parties with Beattie a notable example.

    Would not be surprise to see Lyons get 30% of the primary vote here now.

  18. Look DB, its politics you cannot honestly tell me the liberals haven’t done anything of the like. In Dobell, the libs are claiming that Emma McBride voted to save Craig Thompson saying she voted down a consideration to consider a motion at local council. Thats like saying theres a rumour of a rumour about something. Absolutely rubbish and what the libs planned to do to Deb O’Neill’s personal life is the most disgusting and deceitful thing I have ever seen in politics.

    Now back to the point of Bass. The house of reps, is for local areas, the senate is for the state in general. There are other options if Nikolic is such a great candidate, he would have been given a senate spot in Tas (Not like they would miss the deadwood on their current senate team). Its a fair criticism therefore that if someone is running in a local area to bring his local credibility into play. The flyer if you actually read it would note it makes no criticism of his military involvement. And it doesn’t say that people with that career shouldn’t stand but it does say to those in the community who need a local that understands their issues its better to elect a local. Theres other ways other then the House of Reps to get into politics and as the old saying goes if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

    Yep parachuting happens on both sides thats why the LNP criticised Beattie and why even local libs criticise the lib candidates on the Central Coast.

    And in all seriousness, its not going to do Lyons any damage

  19. Yes, that incident was quite revealing. It showed that he wasn’t someone to let that sort of malice pass lightly. It’s rather to his disadvantage that it hasn’t been more widely covered.

  20. Given that Tasmania is mostly a welfare-bludging mendicant state I didn’t see the Coalition doing so well here. This is quite a surprise.

    Unsurprising that Labor focus on his Canberra $1m house though. Typical Labor hypocrisy – look at all their former leaders living in the ritziest suburbs of Sydney with millions in the bank but they get by in politics denigrating the middle class for wanting to get ahead.

  21. Alain – the people of Tasmania have aspirations for their children. At the moment their aspirations cannot be fulfilled because of reckless economic policies from, particularly, their State Coalition Government.

  22. If this ever was going to be retained – which looked increasingly unlikely given the polling in Tas – then the incumbent has made it much easier for the LIB candidate given that he basically shot himself in the foot with stupid mistakes & poor judgement calls.

  23. Yep, everything for the last few weeks has been pointing to Bass and Braddon both looking like easy pick ups for the Coalition.

  24. Barry Prismall on twitter yesterday said there would be “Shock Bass opinion poll in The Examiner tomorrow. Actually, shock is an under statement. Thermo nuke poll in The Examiner tomorrow.”

    I don’t see anything shocking about Nikolic winning!

    However I would like to know who the other 23% are voting for?

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