Senate – Tasmania – Australia 2013

Incumbent Senators

Term expires 2014 Term expires 2017
Catryna Bilyk (ALP) Eric Abetz (LIB)
Carol Brown (ALP) Christine Milne (GRN)
David Bushby (LIB)Stephen Parry (LIB)
Richard Colbeck (LIB)Helen Polley (ALP)
Lin Thorp (ALP)1Lisa Singh (ALP)
Peter Whish-Wilson (GRN) 2Anne Urquhart (ALP)

1Lin Thorp replaced Nick Sherry on 20 June 2012 after Senator Sherry’s resignation.
2Peter Whish-Wilson replaced Bob Brown on 20 June 2012 after Senator Brown’s resignation.

Tasmania elected five senators for each major party at the 1951 double dissolution. In 1953, the Liberals gained a sixth seat from the ALP. The Liberals were reduced to five seats in 1955, when one of the ALP’s senators left the party to join the party that became the Democratic Labor Party. In 1961, the Liberals lost their fifth seat to independent Reginald Turnbull, and until 1964 Tasmania was represented by four Labor senators, four Liberal senators, one DLP senator and Turnbull.

The 1964 election saw the ALP regain the seat previously held by the DLP. This 5-4-1 split remained until the 1970 Senate election, when the ALP lost their fifth seat to conservative independent Michael Townley, producing a result of four Labor, four Liberal and two independents. Turnbull retired at the 1974 double dissolution, and the ALP won back a fifth senate seat. Prior to the 1975 election Townley joined the Liberal Party, and in 1975 the Liberals won five seats, the ALP won four (down one from 1974) , and the final seat was won by ex-Labor independent Brian Harradine.

Tasmania continued to be represented by five Liberals, four Labor and Harradine from 1975 until the 1984 election, when Labor won a fifth seat and the Australian Democrats won a seat. This 5-5-1-1 balance remained steady until the 1996 election, when the Democrats lost their single senate seat, and Greens candidate Dr Bob Brown was elected to that seat. This balance remained steady until 2004, although prior to the 2001 election Labor Senator Shayne Murphy resigned from the ALP to serve as an independent.

At the 2004 election, Harradine retired, and his seat was won by the Liberal Party, whilst the ALP lost one of its seats to Greens candidate Christine Milne. At the 2007 election, the ALP won a fifth seat back off the Liberal Party. In 2010, the ALP again won three out of six seats. Overall, the ALP currently holds six seats, the Liberal Party four and the Greens two.

Number of Tasmanian Senators from each party after each Senate election, 1951-2010. Click to view interactive chart.
Number of Tasmanian Senators from each party after each Senate election, 1951-2010. Click to view interactive chart.

2010 result

The Greens67,01620.27+2.141.4186
Shooters and Fishers6,6492.01+2.010.1407
Family First4,0451.22-0.820.0856

Labor and the Liberal Party each won two seats on primary votes, and the Greens won one seat.

  • Lisa Singh (ALP) – 0.9102 quotas
  • Peter Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.4545
  • Guy Barnett (LIB) – 0.3541
  • Ray Williams (SHO) – 0.1523
  • Jim Zubic (FF) – 0.1240

Family First’s preferences flowed to the Shooters and Fishers.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9142
  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.4597
  • Barnett (LIB) – 0.3652
  • Williams (SHO) – 0.2559

Shooters preferences mostly flowed to the Liberal Party.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9305
  • Barnett (LIB) – 0.5753
  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.4881

Greens preferences flowed to Labor, but only a small proportion of Greens preferences were needed to push Labor over a quota.

  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0260
  • Barnett (LIB) – 0.5941
  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.3729
Final rounds of Tasmanian Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.
Final rounds of Tasmanian Senate preference distribution. Click to view interactive chart.


The ALP is running:

  1. Carol Brown
  2. Catryna Bilyk
  3. Lin Thorp
  4. John Dowling

The Liberal Party is running:

  1. Richard Colbeck
  2. David Bushby
  3. Sally Chandler
  4. Sarah Courtney

No information on major party candidates. The Greens are running sitting Senator Peter Whish-Wilson. The Pirate Party are running Thomas Randle. Patricia Petersen’s Australian Independents party are running Neville  Solomon. Family First are running Peter Madden. The Stable Population Party is running Todd Dudley. The Democratic Labor Party is running Robyne Ferri. Katter’s Australian Party is running Geoff Herbert.

The first two Labor and Liberal seats, along with the Greens seat, are all reasonably safe. The race will come down to the final seat, currently held by Labor.

At the final preference distribution the combined Labor/Greens vote in 2010 was just under 4.4 quotas. Assuming that Greens preferences flow to Labor ahead of the Liberal Party, Labor will maintain their three seats if the combined Labor/Greens vote stays above four quotas. They’ll achieve this if the collective swing to the right is kept below 5.7%.

While it is conceivable that the Liberal Party could gain such a swing at this election, it’s possible that they could fall short.


  1. It will take a miracle for Labor Senator Lin Thorpe to be re-elected. The Liberals will get three, Labor two and Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson will win a seat also.

  2. I’d be highly surprised if the Libs don’t get 3 quotas here based on polls which I have seen indicating a 15% odd swing across the State. In the HoR, Bass and Braddon should go to the Libs on large swings and the other 2 might. Wilkie will be safe if he recontests Denison, but he would be better off in the Senate in my view, in which case, I reckon the Libs might only then get 2 Senate quotas, or that is the most likely outcome.

    Based on current polls however, it is conceivable that the Libs still get 3, Wilkie 1, ALP and Grn 1 each.

    It will be the first time in a while in Tassie where the Libs will beat the ALP in 2PP terms, and it could be by a fair bit moe than anyone realises.

  3. I don’t get why Wilkie would switch to the Senate. Yes he might have a shot at winning in the Senate but he would need to get substantially more votes than what he got in Denison and have a serious risk of losing.

    Whereas he is the favourite to win in Denison in current circumstances. Yes he won’t be in the balance of power, but I think there are other factors.

  4. A lot of Wilkie’s rhetoric has been about ‘stopping the gravy train to the north’ which would hurt outside Hobart metro. I would think that he’d be even money to manage enough for a Senate seat, but that vote would mostly be from Hobart (as one would expect) and there would be significant risk given the current dynamics and possibiltiy that the Greens, Labor and Libs would fall right on 1, 2 (though I’d expect quite a lot more) and 3 quotas which would freeze out Wilkie if he only got, say, 10% of the vote. For what it’s worth, I expect him to be comfortably re-elected in Denison too. While I can see the temptation for the shift, it won’t happen this year, maybe in 2016.

  5. Ben, if he could arrange a preference deal with either major party ahead of the Greens he’d probably get around half a quota based on current polls. He’d probably go close to winning a quota in his own right but I’m pretty sure he would get half of one. And he would be a part of Senate which is probably going to be controlled without the Greens which should yield him some power.

  6. But who would he win a seat off? I can’t see Labor dropping below two quotas, or Greens below one. Possibly he could win the final seat and the Libs win two, but that seems unlikely.

    Fact still remains that he is almost certain to win in his current seat and would be unlikely to win if he moved.

  7. Reasonable expectations are for the Libs to pick up a full quota from last time around, so ~3.3, leaving Labor just above two, Greens clearly under one. The last seat depends whether Labor donates enough excess to the Greens to push them over the line, otherwise there will be a contest between Lib 4 and one of the minor right parties.

  8. Lib 3, Lab 2 and Green 1. Can’t see any other result. Remember you only need approx 45,000 votes to get a senate seat in Tassie. Not enough “working people” are going to change their vote to the libs from Lab to lower the lab vote below 2 quotas and the greens are always going to pick up one. So 3 remain for the libs.

  9. Not sure the Greens are going to get one in their own right this time. Up north (Bass, Braddon) the Green vote has collapsed over this cycle. Not so much to the south. Also Bob has gone and well.. Whishy-Washy isn’t Bob.

    I’m guessing 0.8±0.1 for the Greens come September.

  10. Driftforge – take your point on no BB and and I haven’t had any exposure to the North of the State. Interesting that the Greens didn’t run any one in Montgomery to “keep the brand marketed”. That said, I still can’t see the Greens not winning a seat and the labor party not winning 2. Accordingly, it has to be 3 to the Liberals and I can’t see them getting a “2pp” of 57% to get the fourth spot – and if I were wrong here it would be more likely at the expense of the Labor party than the Greens.

  11. There is a pretty solid difference between the North and the South, around 10 points.

    I admit, four Lib seats is still a big stretch from here, and one they probably won’t bridge. But that last seat will be interesting.

  12. I think the Libs will be more than happy with 3. There are some big swings on in Tasmania (as evidenced even by the LC election), but I can’t see it being enough for the Libs to get to 4 quotas.

    And despite a strong shift against the Greens in Tas especially, they should still hold on to the 5th or 6th spot.

  13. Liberals to pick up 3 for sure here, with another extra seat in SA. Whether they can grab a fourth in NSW, Qld or Wa will be interesting.

  14. Probably Liberals 3, Labor 2, Greens 1.
    I can’t imagine the Liberals/Coalition winning less than 3 Senate seats in any state, or Labor winning more than 2 Senate seats in any state, including here. Nor can I imagine the Greens losing their Senate seat here, as the Apple Isle is their strongest state, even without Bob Brown at the helm.

  15. For a long time I have had 3-2-1 (3 Lib 2 Labor 1 Green) as the overwhelmingly favoured outcome here. However I did some modelling using the recent ReachTEL as the base, and came up with a projection that had the Greens somewhat short of a quota and, if those exact figures were reproduced, probably losing. The sample size of the ReachTEL was very large but the Franklin sample from a previous ReachTEL (of about 500) had a strong influence on the model. I have to think that 3-3 isn’t out of the question on that basis.

    The ReachTEL had the Greens down by an average 43% across the northern electorates. I have since heard of (but not yet seen) other results that are said to be better for them than that.

    There’s an article on my site re this – to find click on my username, scroll down and in the sidebar on the right click on “Federal 2013 – Tas Senate” under “Upcoming/Current Elections”.

  16. KB has another update as of today which says that even the LIBs are now not guaranteed of 3 seats;
    “I reckon: 3-2-1 to Liberal 55%, 3-3-0 25%, 3-2-1 to Labor 15% (and if this happens they’ve probably won the election), and a micro gets up 5%. A lot less clear-cut than it used to be.”

  17. On balance, I think the Libs would be extremely unlucky to not get 3 quotas based on current voting intentions in Tasmania from the major pollsters. I really can’t see the Greens getting 2.

  18. DB, I don’t think that KB or anyone would be suggesting that the Greens get 2. Prior to his update, it seemed certain that LIB were 100% certain to get 3 seats in all scenarios, and perhaps even 4 seats. 3 for LIB seems to be still the most likely outcome as a 3-2-1 result.

    However, now it seems that the ALP vote has lifted enough and the Greens has dropped to open up other possibilities. The surprising one is the minor chance of the ALP gaining 3 seats which appeared impossible previously. The Greens getting 2 seats is not one of them. They may not even retain Browns old senate seat!

    KB will obviously provide more comment when he has the time.

  19. I’ve never taken the idea of 2 Greens seriously; it wasn’t even one of the scenarios I dismissed in my original article. Someone did suggest it in comments in June and I gave this as an example of the sort of thing needed to make it happen: “Kevin Rudd is expelled from the ALP and becomes Greens leader.”

    4 Libs is off the table now.

  20. 3 left and 3 right. The “it’s time” factor for the state government and the Greens alliance will play a factor, big or small.

  21. Shooters and Fishers will win Tasmania because Glen Druery who was paid to do all the preferences for their party has taken lots of votes from the minor parties alliance, done lots of deals, but not honoured them.

  22. Shooters and Fishers aren’t really in the box seat in Tasmania. They have way too many holes in their net, and not enough votes or early transfers to match Family First, who have a spectacular preference flow.

    Without major shifts, this will be 2 Lib, 2 Lab, 1 [Grn or Lab], 1 [Lib or FF].

  23. Family First do seem to have the better of the preference deals as far as the micros go. It’s so tricky to analyse because it’s so hard to predict which micros in Tassie will poll significant votes. But S+F only really seem to have a show if they can get the ALP prefs to put them ahead of FF and that’s only possible in a 2 ALP 1 Green scenario with Labor doing really badly but the Greens getting quota. Even if this does happen I’m struggling to find a full quota for S+F in Tas.

    Will be able to play about with it more when Antony’s calculator comes out but the scenario for FF seems to be a snowball of practically all the right-micro preferences then beating Lib 3 who would have to be just shy of quota. It’s quite plausible.

  24. Family First are the micro-right of choice for Tasmania (as well as Queensland and South Australia). They pick up Palmer, Christians, Fishing, Independents, and three other micros, would could be worth about 5%.

    The Liberal Democrats get Smokers, Stop the Greens, Katter, and DLP would could add up to 5%. The Sex Party gets HEMP and (strangely) Country, and Shooters, which also might add up to nearly 5%. If Sex drops out, then Sex/HEMP goes to the Lib-Dems and Shooters goes to FF.

    Between FF and LDP, whoever drops out gives most of their preferences to the other ticket, putting them very close to a quota. Interesting times.

  25. They don’t need much of a primary. The Liberal Democrats averaged 1.8% last senate election (with well over 2% in NSW and QLD in more contested fields), so it’s easy to believe they could get at least 1.5% this time around.

    That will be more than the anti-Greens and smokers, so they will get their preferences and move easily over 2%. Then they will pick up Katter and DLP which should take them easily above 4%.

    Whether that will be enough to get ahead of the Sex/Shooters alliance or the FF/Fishing alliance is an open question. That looks like a pretty even race at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome.

  26. Can’t see 1.5% hapenning for the LDP. Maybe 0.5% — our ‘other’ column is not that big, and LDP has no presence here. Maybe more down Kevin’s end of the state?

    It’s quite possible that Smokers or StG could out poll the LDP just on single issue name voting.

  27. I don’t think LDP has ever got as low as 0.5% anywhere. Even running dead, with no coverage, and lots of opposition, they usually get at least 1%. Perhaps Tasmania is a very different state to the rest of Australia.

  28. When the LDP was the Liberty and Democracy Party it got 0.09% in Tas Senate in 2007. My anecdotal impression based on a sample size of two is that for Tasmanians who have even heard of libertarianism at all, the gun thing is a turnoff.

    Yes I have seen the ReachTEL and there will be stuff about it on my site ( from 9 am on.

    The results point to 3-2-1, the orthodox scenario, on my modelling. But that’s on the condition that the Libs don’t drop more than five points to micros that did not contest in 2010 (or in the form of swing back to Labor/Green compared to the poll result.)

    If the Libs do drop below 3Q all hell can break loose. Just entering what I thought were vaguely plausible numbers I “elected” the Australian Independents off 0.47% with the second set of numbers I tried, and then found that with minor fiddling I could “elect” them off 0.3%. (With the first set the Sex Party saved the third Liberal from Family First). Probably, Aus Ind won’t even get that much primary but who knows.

    These things shouldn’t really work in Tas as there should still be significant BTL voting despite the increased field. But that they are possible in theory is ominous enough. Just wonder how many obscure nonentities Australia has to elect at one election sometime before this group-ticket scamming is staked at the crossroads for good.

  29. Thanks Kevin. That ReachTel polling continues to confirm the Coalition will win Bass, Braddon and Lyons. Labor just wins Franklin and Wilkie should be fine in Denison, even if Labor preferences the Liberals ahead of him (would not surprise if the Libs were in the final two here).

    Love you site too mate. Very very good stuff.

  30. AIP has the best run in the Tasmanian draw, but require more upfront that I would have expected them to receive for it to kick in.

    FF has the second best, but really requires a collapse in the Labor vote to get in.

  31. MDM – all Lyons polling showing a Coalition win, but my heart says I’m not too sure. Franklin will be won by Labor. (no internal polling here).

  32. Kevin, as explained above, in 2007 the LDP ran as only the acronym and got less than 0.2% across the country. When they ran as their name in 2010 they got 1.8% across the country. They are running as the name (not acronym) this time… so it would be absurd to use the figure from the acronym election.

    I think Family First has a better run though, so that’s probably the micro to watch out for.

  33. Ah, I wasn’t aware of the LDP acronym issue. I agree they’re not comparable results in that case. That said, I can’t see where it was explained above.

    I’ve been trying to use the Senate calculator and deliberately create a vaguely plausible scenario in which the LDP wins. Even with repeated, deliberate and blatant favourable engineering of assumptions, after 15 attempts I’ve only got to the final two a few times, even off non-ALP/Lib/Grn totals exceeding 15% and starting LDP on 2%. All kinds of things could happen because of the unknowns concerning the size of votes for so many micros in Tas so it’s hard to write any party off completely but it doesn’t look promising.

    And it’s also worth keeping in mind that despite there being 54 candidates on the ballot, there will still be some (reduced) rate of BTL voting in Tas. (I’ll be voting BTL so I can decide which of Rise Up Australia and Andrew Roberts gets the magic #54, unless anyone else wants to apply for it). BTL voting makes it harder for parties hauling up from a low primary to beat parties starting with a high one. This was seen in 2004 here when a FF calculator win was in the end reversed by thousands of votes.

    It’s hard to say what the rate of BTL voting will be here – it was 20% last time with a much smaller field, below 10% in SA, WA with similar sized fields. Guessing it will be about 10% here; Tasmanians are used to numbering lots of boxes and there will be a bit of stubbornness about still doing so even with 54 candidates.

    I have my revised Senate outlook up here:

  34. I think your projections are the most likely (3-2-1). I think Palmer will get very little in Tasmania, and so there is still a chance that the 3rd left spot will be open until the end. I also doubt that the Shooters and other nationalist parties will do as well as previously because of Katter.

    The LDP scenario needs “stop the greens” to peel votes away from Shooters (who knows?) and then they get Katter and then Sex. It requires too much luck to be likely, but I’m going to keep an eye on it.

  35. I just did a Senate Calculator run for Tasmania, and I’m getting Family First picking up a seat off Labor, effectively – that is, I’m getting 2 Labor, 2 Liberals, 1 Greens, and 1 Family First.

    This is based on an estimate that assumes that numbers in the polls are a little out of whack – I’m expecting Greens to drop only to about 15%, rather than all the way to 10%… at least, not in terms of senate vote… and I don’t think the Liberals are going to get 45% at all – I give it about 39%. It also assumes that KAP and PUP support, in the senate, is stronger around the country than polls suggest – only modest in absolute value, but up around the 2-3% each in Tasmania.

    If I follow the poll numbers for Labor, Liberals, and Greens, then the Liberals manage to get that extra seat, rather than Family First.

  36. Something that should be kept in mind with polling is that you cannot read the Green Senate vote directly off the Greens Reps vote in a poll like the ReachTEL. There are two reasons for this: the first is that in Tasmania the Greens traditionally do better in the Senate than in the Reps, and the second is that in Denison, a large share of what would otherwise be the Green vote is carved off by Andrew Wilkie. The Wilkie effect is knocking at least ten points out of the Denison Green vote at the moment so that’s a couple of points to add on statewide (at least).

    So it’s not so much a matter of the polls being possibly out of whack as the polls being for a different house. As it happens on my last projection I got about what Glen got for the Greens Senate vote – 15. But that’s bound to be plus or minus a few, so no guarantee that they’ll get quota off their primaries. In most scenarios, it doesn’t matter if they do or not.

    I would expect the Shooters vote in Tas to be down because of the general crowding of the Senate ticket and because of competition from, among others, AFLP, STG, KAP, PUP. They got two points primary last time; if they break 1.5 this time they’ve done well.

  37. Re the LDP vote, I won’t rule out it being substantial despite the lack of profile for the party in Tas. Very good ballot draw if there is any effect of voters confusing them with the Liberal Party.

  38. Virtually any above the line vote, except for the Pirate Party or the Sex Party, is capable of reaching Family First ahead of at least one of Liberal, Green or Labor. Madden is not just an ordinary FF candidate but a former Christian Democrat candidate who has supported Putin’s anti-gay laws.

    I’m therefore advising all Tasmanian voters who care about gay rights to vote below the line:

  39. Hands up who expected PUP to get nearly 7% in Tas! No one right, “I think Palmer will get very little in Tasmania”. What a shock if they do hold that 6th seat!

  40. At this stage it’s not very useful trying to pick over the details of the first preference Senate count – particularly in Tasmania, it’s going to come down to the BTL votes, so we might as well just sit tight and wait for the full preference distribution to be done.

  41. Just been on ABC calculator (8pm) and at count 21 there is a ONE vote lead to the Sex Party over Labor (14275 to 14274). Therefore Labor is excluded and not the Sex party. I know BTL will change this but it demonstrates how close it is….

    Does anyone know what is done if the votes are tied on at an exclusion point? Whoever is excluded first would potentially impact on the outcome.

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