Senate – Tasmania – Australia 2019

Incumbent Senators

Term due to expire 2019Term due to expire 2022
Catryna Bilyk (Labor) Eric Abetz (Liberal)
Carol Brown (Labor) David Bushby (Liberal)
Richard Colbeck (Liberal)1 Jonathon Duniam (Liberal)
Steve Martin (Nationals)2 Helen Polley (Labor)
Nick McKim (Greens) Anne Urquhart (Labor)
Lisa Singh (Labor) Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens)

1Richard Colbeck replaced Stephen Parry on 9 February 2018 following the High Court ruling that Stephen Parry was ineligible to sit.
2Steve Martin replaced Jacqui Lambie on 9 February 2018 following the High Court ruling that Jacqui Lambie was ineligible to sit.


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 subsequently left the party and founded the Jacqui Lambie Network.

There was no change at the 2016 double dissolution election. Labor maintained their five seats, the Liberal Party maintained four, the Greens two, and Jacqui Lambie was re-elected.

2016 result

Labor 113,93533.6+0.84.3670
Liberal 110,31832.5-5.04.2284
Greens 37,84011.2-0.51.4504
Jacqui Lambie Network28,1468.3+8.31.0788
One Nation8,7002.6+2.60.3335
Family First6,6922.0+0.70.2565
Nick Xenophon Team5,1281.5+1.50.1966
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers4,6881.4+0.30.1797
Sex Party/Marijuana (HEMP)4,4931.3+1.30.1722
Christian Democratic Party2,8610.8+0.80.1097
Animal Justice2,3770.7+0.70.0911
Recreational Fishers2,3760.7+0.70.0911
Palmer United Party2,3630.7-5.90.0906

Preference flows
Eight seats were effectively decided on above-the-line primary votes (and below-the-line votes for the winning candidates). Labor won three seats, the Liberal Party won three, and the Greens and Jacqui Lambie Network each won one. The Labor and Liberal candidates had collectively polled over 4 quotas each, but quite a few of these votes were below-the-line votes for lower-ranked candidates.

Let’s fast forward until the last ten candidates, competing for four seats. The following figures show how much of a quota each candidate was holding, and how that compared to their primary vote. For Labor and Liberal, I have compared Colbeck and Singh to their individual primary vote, and compared Bushby and Bilyk to their party’s total primary vote, with the former candidate’s individual primary vote subtracted.

The official party candidates (Bilyk and Bushby) had clearly done worst out of preferences up until this point, while One Nation, Richard Colbeck and the Shooters did best.

  • Lisa Singh (ALP) – 0.8871 quotas – up 0.0921
  • David Bushby (LIB) – 0.7029 – down 0.0091
  • Richard Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6279 – up 0.1115
  • Catryna Bilyk (ALP) – 0.5857 – up 0.0137
  • Nick McKim (GRN) – 0.5587 – up 0.1083
  • Kate McCulloch (ON) – 0.4576 – up 0.1241
  • Peter Madden (FF) – 0.3479 – up 0.0914
  • Matthew Allen (SFF) – 0.2949 – up 0.1152
  • Michelle Hoult (NXT) – 0.2535 – up 0.0569
  • Francesca Collins (SXP) – 0.2437 – up 0.0715

Sex Party preferences particularly favoured the Shooters, Greens, Bilyk and One Nation. Singh and Colbeck receive practically no preferences, since any above-the-line votes that would go to their party flow to Bushby and Bilyk.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.8915
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.7251
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6285
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.6201
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6047
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.4916
  • Madden (FF) – 0.3685
  • Allen (SFF) – 0.3411
  • Hoult (NXT) – 0.2688

NXT preferences particularly favoured the Greens, and leading major party candidates Bushby and Bilyk. Starved for preferences, Colbeck drops from eleventh place to thirteenth:

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9066
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.7677
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6805
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.6687
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6351
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.5281
  • Madden (FF) – 0.3829
  • Allen (SFF) – 0.3557

Shooters preferences most favoured One Nation, and to a lesser extent Bushby and Bilyk. One Nation was at this point close to overtaking Colbeck.

  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9119
  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.8222
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.7266
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.6999
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6391
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.6280
  • Madden (FF) – 0.4245

Family First preferences particularly favoured Bushby and Bilyk, and gave practically no assistance to Singh or Colbeck. This pushed Bushby into the lead. Singh had accumulated very little preferences since we first joined the count, but remained in tenth place. Colbeck fell behind One Nation’s McCulloch, and she herself was less than 0.05 quotas behind McKim.

  • Bushby (LIB) – 0.9341
  • Singh (ALP) – 0.9169
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.8435
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.7413
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.6951
  • Colbeck (LIB) – 0.6484

Every single Colbeck vote was below-the-line, so these votes could finally flow to Lisa Singh. Most votes went to Bushby, electing him with a healthy surplus, but enough votes went to Singh to elect her in tenth place. This left a large Liberal surplus to be distributed to decide the last two seats between three candidates:

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.4117
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0002
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 0.8536
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.7567
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.7178

Bushby’s preferences pushed Bilyk over quota, and also brought McCulloch very close to overtaking McKim – just 43 votes. There was 593 Bilyk surplus votes to distribute, before the count would be finished.

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.0000
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0000
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 1.0227
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.8054
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.8038

In the end McKim defeated McCulloch by 141 votes:

  • Bushby (LIB) – 1.000
  • Singh (ALP) – 1.0000
  • Bilyk (ALP) – 1.0000
  • McKim (GRN) – 0.8144
  • McCulloch (ON) – 0.8090


  • A – Justin Stringer (Conservatives)
  • B – Steve Martin (Nationals)
  • C – Todd William Dudley (Sustainable Australia)
  • D – Nick McKim (Greens)
  • E – Liberal
    • Richard Colbeck
    • Claire Chandler
    • Tanya Denison
  • F – Karen Louise Bevis (Animal Justice)
  • G – Ray Williams (Citizens Electoral Council)
  • H – Clinton Mead (Liberal Democrats)
  • I – Labor
    1. Carol Brown
    2. Catryna Bilyk
    3. John Short
    4. Lisa Singh
  • J – Matthew Stephen (One Nation)
  • K – Michael Jones (Conservative National)
  • L – Jacqui Lambie (Jacqui Lambie Network)
  • M – Alfred Informal (Help End Marijuana Prohibition)
  • N – Kevin Morgan (United Australia)
  • O – Craig Garland (Independent)
  • P – Rebecca Anthea Byfield (Shooters Fishers & Farmers)
  • Ungrouped
    • Greg Beck (Better Families)
    • Steve Mav (Independent)
    • Francis Flannery (Independent)
    • Karen Street (Love Australia or Leave)

Labor will be defending three seats in Tasmania at the next election, and the Greens will be defending one. It’s hard to see all four of these seats being held, short of a very strong result for the left.

The Liberal Party is only defending one seat. They should be able to win a second seat.

Lambie will be hoping to win back her seat, but will be competing with Martin, the Greens and the third Labor candidate for the final seat.

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  1. Likely 2 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green, and 1 Jacqui Lambie. Steve Martin has no chance of being re-elected.

  2. Martin is toast and the Liberals would actually hurt their chances by putting him on their ticket. I think the whole saga hurt Lambie too however. It seems to me like they’re competing for the 3rd Liberal seat, not the 3rd Labor/Green seat, and the Liberals should quite easily get it.

  3. Jacqui spoils the broth for “the left” who would in a generic half-senate election be hoping for 4 senators from Tasmania. This will be 2 ALP, 2 LNP, 1 GRN, and Jacqui.

  4. Steve Mav who was a candidate in the Prosser Legislative Council election is also contesting for the Senate. Lots of Facebook ads. Seems to be running on a Jacqui Lambie populist style platform. I don’t think he’ll win a seat but I am interested to see how well he does.

    I agree with Bennee that 2 Labor, 2 Liberal, 1 Green and Jacqui Lambie is what will happpen.

  5. Labor could try and induce the Ginninderra effect by placing someone from the right on the top of the ticket, and shafting Lisa Singh again. This will motivate below the line Labor voting and could trigger the Ginninderra effect where both Labor 2 and 3 outpoll Lambie and/or Liberal 3.

  6. A bit late, I admit, but….

    Looking at the results of the Braddon by-election, it seems that there is promise for Lambie in terms of returning to the Senate- the performance of Garland suggests that there are a considerable number of voters who are anti-Coalition but which to demonstrate their opposition by means other than the ALP and Greens. Moreover, I don’t believe more recent events have changed that- these objections are economic in form, and Morrison isn’t in a good position to gain votes back on those grounds, especially given that there’s no change in economic policy expected.

  7. Earlier today I saw Steve Mav waving a sign in Devonport. I know he’s been doing this all over the state as well. He’s getting a lot of sponsored posts on Facebook out there and I’ve seen both positive and negative opinions of him as a result. I’ve heard he’s notorious for blocking anyone who disagrees with him.

    In a double dissolution election I’d say he’s a wildcard for a Senate seat but in a regular half Senate election he will struggle to get close. The independent niche has already been filled by Jacqui Lambie and I think she appeals more to centrist voters than Steve Mav.

  8. Lisa Singh has been relegated to the unwinnable #4 spot on the Labor ticket. Apparently she got the second highest amount of votes from rank & file members but the delegate votes which is worth 3 times as much as a member’s vote pushed her to #4

    She was #6 on the Labor ticket in 2016 but still managed to win due to a large number of BTL votes. However that was a DD election, in a normal senate half election she is extremely unlikely to be returned.

  9. It’s not impossible for Lisa Singh to win from 4th but she will need more below the line votes than she did in 2016 (6%).

    She would also like the Labor vote not to increase from 2016, if there are many surplus ALP above the line votes getting to 3rd candidate John Short he will likely chase her down on preferences coming in from other parties’s above the line vote.

    Singh also needs Nick McKim (Greens) or Jacqui Lambie to miss out on a seat with a collapsed vote, otherwise she’s just going to be stranded in 7th even if she excludes John Short.

  10. I have a feeling that shafting Singh was tactical, considering that she managed to compete with Greens in the areas of Hobart that used to make the Greens safe in Tasmania.

    The Ginninderra effect is the only way Labor can get 3 up, and I think it’s a very real possibility. I think it will result in ALP 3, Lib 2, Green 1, with Greens and Singh outlasting the exhausting votes of assorted independents.

  11. I’m disappointed with Labor’s decision to put Lisa Singh at the bottom of the ticket again. The only way she’ll get re-elected is if she gets enough below the line votes and Jacqui Lambie under performs so Singh can snatch the sixth seat. I don’t think they’ve learned from the criticism they got last time. They were really lucky the Senate results turned out the way they did in 2016, I don’t see that same luck being repeated.

    Meanwhile the Liberal ticket looks far more reasonable than I was expecting. Richard Colbeck wasn’t shafted this time and there are two women on the ticket. It looks like Abetz didn’t have as much influence on the process as usual. Perhaps the Liberals actually listened to the criticism they got last time around. That’s better than Labor at least.

  12. I think Bennee’s got the Singh analysis spot on.

    Based on 2016, Labor can expect 3% or so in preferences (though I’m not sure what proportion of those will be for Singh over Short).

    Greens and Jacqui Lambie are both starting on a little under a regular quota.

    So the question is, where do the Liberal voters swing to? Presumably not the Greens. If Jacqui can pick up enough to at least hold steady, she’ll be in a good position. If she craters, the Left will do pretty well – Labor can expect to get more of her voters than the Libs, and the Greens might well manage a quota.

    Singh’s first task is of course to beat out John Short. Her ideal scenario there is for the Labor ticket and her colleagues combined to be about two quotas on primary vote, which results in Short making an early exit.
    Based on what I’m seeing she can afford a Labor swing of up to about 4% (on a 4-party basis) before Short overtakes her, assuming she can hold steady.

    The nationwide 2PP swing is probably going to be about 5.5%, so if Lambie intercepts ex-Liberal votes, Singh can at least beat out Short.

    But then Singh still needs another half quota or so in preferences to beat out either Lambie or the Greens, who are both starting way in front of her.

    Trouble is if Lambie craters then most of the Labor benefit will be ATL. If Lambie stays roughly where she is, then she’s not a pref source. If Lambie picks up most of the ex-Liberal swing and gets a quota in her own right, her excess *might* be enough for Labor to beat the Greens but it will go to Short, not to Singh.

    The Greens probably aren’t going to crater enough to be a pref source and they probably aren’t going to do well enough to be much of a pref source either. And either way the primary benefit will be ATL Labor and therefore Short.

  13. The Greens could crater – the TAS and VIC state elections were disasters for them & it could get worse… *part hopeful*

  14. Disgraceful, Whoever replaces Bushby SHOULD be up for re-election this year and give the people a choice not wait until 2022, People deserve a say who is their senator, because this person would not have been democratically elected despite being in the same party, we need a USA system where we have special/by elections for senate. Like the house of reps here. I dont understand why they couldnt have made it where an extra senate seat was up this year because it isnt democratic otherwise. I think they need to remove this person who gets appointed from office because god knows who they appoint. They could appoint some far right or someone who wastes taxpayers funds like fraser anning

  15. she needs to be up for re-election, It is not democratic, Plus thats illegal to appoint a family member, i forgot the word for it. But its where you appoint someone just because they are your family member, Bushby likely requested them to appoint his sister, For their own families benefit

  16. Senate by-elections don’t make much sense because senators are elected proportionately. If Tasmania were to have only five continuing senators instead of six that would no longer proportionately reflect the results of the 2016 election.

    It used to be the case that appointed senators were forced to face election at the earliest available opportunity. Hence the Whitlam government’s manoeuvre to entice Vince Gair into resigning (see the Gair Affair). I don’t know exactly when or why this changed. I would guess around the time of the 1977 referendum mandating like-for-like Senate replacements. That would make sense since that amendment guaranteed enduring proportionality.


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