Senate – Tasmania – Australia 2016

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2017Term due to expire 2020
Eric Abetz (LIB)Catryna Bilyk (ALP)
Nick McKim (GRN) 1Carol Brown (ALP)
Stephen Parry (LIB) David Bushby (LIB)
Helen Polley (ALP) Richard Colbeck (LIB)
Lisa Singh (ALP)Jacqui Lambie (JLN)
Anne Urquhart (ALP) Peter Whish-Wilson (GRN)

1Nick McKim replaced Christine Milne on 19 August 2015 after Christine Milne’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, which resulted in Labor holding half of Tasmania’s Senate seats, with Liberal reduced to four.

In 2013, Labor lost its sixth Senate seat to Jacqui Lambie of the Palmer United Party, who has since left that party and formed her own party.

2013 result

Liberal 126,40037.5-3.92.6257
Labor 110,61732.8-0.12.2981
Greens 39,28411.7-8.60.8162
Palmer United Party22,1846.6+6.60.4606
Liberal Democrats7,8072.3+2.30.1624
Sex Party4,8731.5+1.50.1015
Family First4,4031.3+0.10.0917
Shooters and Fishers3,6971.1+0.60.0770
Democratic Labour Party2,5980.8-1.20.0539
Australian Independents2,4940.7+0.70.0518
Pirate Party1,9540.6+0.60.0406
Help End Marijuana Prohibition1,7140.5+0.50.0357

Labor and the Liberal Party each won two seats on primary votes, leaving two seats up for grabs.

Fast-forward to the final ten candidates:

  • Peter Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8564 quotas
  • Sally Chandler (LIB) – 0.6279
  • Jacqui Lambie (PUP) – 0.4669
  • Lin Thorp (ALP) – 0.2997
  • Clinton Mead (LDP) – 0.2077
  • Robbie Swan (SXP) – 0.1554
  • Peter Madden (FF) – 0.1307
  • Matthew Allen (SFP) – 0.0951
  • Neville Solomon (AIN) – 0.0841
  • Robyne Ferri (DLP) – 0.0728

DLP preferences split flowed most strongly to the Shooters and Fishers:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8571
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.6284
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.4675
  • Thorp (ALP) – 0.3005
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.2080
  • Swan (SXP) – 0.1556
  • Allen (SFP) – 0.1451
  • Madden (FF) – 0.1325
  • Solomon (AIN) – 0.1020

The Australian Independents preferences favoured Family First:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8593
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.6291
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.4688
  • Thorp (ALP) – 0.3016
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.2310
  • Madden (FF) – 0.1997
  • Swan (SXP) – 0.1610
  • Allen (SFP) – 0.1460

Shooters and Fishers preferences primarily assisted the Sex Party:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8600
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.6314
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.4727
  • Thorp (ALP) – 0.3037
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.2816
  • Swan (SXP) – 0.2321
  • Madden (FF) – 0.2150

Preferences sitting with Family First split between the Sex Party, the LDP and the Liberal Party:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8613
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.6904
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.4774
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.3595
  • Thorp (ALP) – 0.3061
  • Swan (SXP) – 0.3011

Most Sex Party preferences went to the Liberal Democrats:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 0.8714
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.7079
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.6045
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.4998
  • Thorp (ALP) – 0.3117

Labor preferences mostly went to the Greens, electing Peter Whish-Wilson:

  • Whish-Wilson (GRN) – 1.1214
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.7221
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.6149
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.5340

The Greens surplus saved Lambie, pushing her ahead of the LDP:

  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.7245
  • Lambie (PUP) – 0.6469
  • Mead (LDP) – 0.6204

Votes held by the LDP’s Mead, three-quarters of which had come from other parties, overwhelmingly flowed to Lambie, electing her over the Liberal candidate:

  • Lambie (PUP) – 1.1544
  • Chandler (LIB) – 0.8290


The first four Labor seats, the first five Liberal seats and the first Greens seat are all safe, and the second Greens seat and fifth Liberal seat are probably safe.

The last seat is a contest between a number of minor party candidates including Jacqui Lambie, possibly as well as as the fifth Labor candidate.


  1. I’m not so sure the fifth Liberal is as safe as everyone thinks. The Tas Liberals have been doing everything they can to lose support, with a messy preselection and Abetz’s continual tantrum about being left out of Cabinet.

    Even in 2013 Labor won the 2PP in Tasmania, and with a Liberal state government (one which is, admittedly, fairly uncontroversial and stable) I wonder if Labor will actually win a fifth seat instead, and we’ll have John Short instead of Richard Colbeck, and the Liberals will have lost their best Tasmanian senator.

    Lambie seems fairly safe but I don’t think she’ll have enough to bring in a running mate, and it would be inconceivable for Tasmania not to return two Greens. There don’t seem to be any other minors gaining traction.

    It will be sad to see the loss of Lisa Singh, Labor’s only senator with any hope of promotion, which most likely will mean that Tasmania is the only to have a decrease of female senators at this election.

  2. Greens polled more than 20% in Tasmania in 2010, before their vote being slashed almost by half in 2013. I wonder if their vote in Tasmania will rebound enough to elect three Greens Senators in 2016?

    If the above scenario plays out:
    Libs will get 4, Labor 4, Greens 2
    Seat 11 will come down to the 5th Labor candidate and the 3rd Greens candidate.
    Seat 12 will come down between Jacqui Lambie (who would be the favourite), the Libs, and whichever minor parties draw a significant enough of a vote.

  3. Matt – I don’t think it’ll rebound enough to confidently elect three – if the Greens get a third seat, it will be the final seat, I think, and on the back of Labor preferences, against Lambie.

    Nine seats will go to Labor and Liberals, I think, and the real question is whether Labor makes strong gains against the Liberals in primary vote.

    I wonder if Abetz will have a negative impact on Liberal primary vote, since I get the sense that he’s widely seen alongside Bronwyn Bishop, Hockey, and MacFarlane, and possibly Robb, all of whom are either retiring or have been forcibly replaced. He’s an “old guard” that I think people have grown tired of. If the Liberals don’t get the 5th seat, I think Abetz will be a significant reason why.

    Anyway, my prediction at this time is Liberal 4, Labor 5, Greens 2, and then the final seat being a toss-up between Lambie and the Greens.

  4. @Glen
    I think Lambie will be elected before the 12th seat is decided, the last count will come down to either the 5th Labor, 3rd Green , Family First, LDP, Sex or maybe even a 2nd Lambie, again its hard to pin point her level of support.

  5. I don’t think on any reading of the Tassie polling you could have a 4/8 right left split for the senate. Most likely (IMHO) is 5 Lib, 4 LP, 2 Grn and 1 Lambie. This lines up with all of the HOR polling.

  6. I don’t think anyone outside Liberal, ALP, Greens, Lambie Network has much chance here. NXT I wouldn’t write off completely – they might get votes from Wilkie supporters in Denison where Lambie lacks traction, for example. All the other micros polled below 2% last time except the LDP which benefited from its ballot draw in getting 2.3% but will get a crap preference flow because its candidate isn’t a local. The number of micros hasn’t come down much and the PUP voters will mostly go to Lambie or back where they came from.

    Queensland Observer: I’d be interested to know where that polling for Lambie comes from as I haven’t seen it. In the Mercury ReachTEL she was just short of one quota but that survey was confusingly designed and she could well be on more.

    I don’t think the Greens’ chances of winning three are good. They need a very big swing back to do it. 2010 was a very strong time for them and they have had a lot of brand damage here since.

    Singh winning off BTLs is not impossible, but difficult. It’s not just about her vote but also about ALP 4 or ALP 5 having the right amount of vote to help her without beating her, and that’s going to be tricky. If it was ever going to happen it would happen in Tasmania.

  7. With both Labor and the Greens on half-integer quotas, they’re going to both be competitive for the remaining seats. Liberals’ fifth candidate will probably be knocked out relatively early (the only minor/micro party preferencing Liberals on the HTV is Family First, and they won’t be enough to get the Liberals past the Greens or Labor… and it’s more likely that Liberals will be knocked out and have their preferences flow to Family First).

    The Greens will get preferences from REP, AJP, Recreational Fishers (I found a HTV on their website), and Science Party, which will get them to 0.7018 quotas.

    Family First will get preferences from Liberals and ALA, which pushes them to 0.4403 quotas.

    One Nation will get preferences from SFF, getting them to 0.5121 quotas.

    Labor doesn’t get HTV preferences from anyone, so they remain on 0.4496 quotas.

    The parties that had no HTV, open HTV, or HTV that doesn’t include any of the above parties are yet to be distributed on this count. We can probably say with confidence that many Sex/HEMP Party voters will preference Green anyway, so let’s suppose two thirds flows to Greens and remainder exhausts, just as an arbitrary choice. Xenophon and Hinch voters will probably favour Labor over the alternatives… lets suggest 50% to Labor, 25% each to Family First and Greens. Arts party voters will preference Greens, CDP will preference Family First, PUP will probably have some go into each (I’ll assume 25% to each). CEC will probably favour ONP.

    Following those, we have:

    Greens – 0.9291
    FFP – 0.6355
    Labor – 0.5909
    ONP – 0.5439

    I’m going to assume that the VoteFlux people exhaust, for simplicity, as I have no idea where they’ll go. That leaves LDP and the overflow Lambie vote. These are perhaps the hardest to actually predict. Both have open HTV in terms of the remaining parties, and could honestly go anywhere. I’m going to assume LDP has 50% go to ONP, 20% to Greens, and 30% to Labor (FF are kind of the antithesis of LDP). For Lambie, I’m going to speculate a fairly even split. If it’s 25% each way, then we have

    Greens – 0.9715
    FFP – 0.6657
    Labor – 0.6395
    ONP – 0.6048

    If these numbers hold, then it’ll go to Greens and FFP, as ONP preferences will flow to FFP, as will SFF preferences.

    But if FFP comes out in last place, which is plausible – I assumed Lambie and PUP preferences flow evenly to all four, and Xenophon and Hinch to go 25% to FFP; without these, FFP ends up on 0.5770, and is knocked out first – the, FFP primary votes exhaust, while Liberal primary votes, strangely enough, flow to Labor. This would leave Labor ahead of ONP, and due to Exhaustion, there would be no need for a full quota from here. ONP gets knocked out, most of their votes exhaust, and Greens and Labor get the final seats.

    Either way, I’m pretty confident that Greens will grab one of the seats. Labor’s the one that needs FFP to not get as many preferences.

  8. So, based on the current count numbers and the BTL votes amongst those that have been apportioned, Lisa Singh will have about 0.89 quotas in her own right. On the number apportioned so far, she has by far the most BTL votes, with Colbeck in second with a little over half as many, and then Lambie after that.

  9. The count has been done, it’s official – ALP 5, Liberal 4, Greens 2, plus Jacqui Lambie.

    Lisa Singh got her seat back (and got across the line before Bilyk, who was two above her on the ticket), while Richard Colbeck lost his to the candidate put above him. One Nation was just 141 votes behind Greens for the last seat.

  10. The Tasmanian branch of the ALP can pat themselves on the back for a job well done – recovering all House seats other than Andrew Wilkie’s and a 7/5 left/right spit in the Senate.


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