Braddon by-election, 2018

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Justine Keay resigned on May 10, 2018, due to her being a dual citizen at the time of nomination for the 2016 election, after the High Court clarified the constitutional requirements on May 9, 2018.

Margin – ALP 2.2%

Braddon covers the West Coast and North-West of Tasmania, including the islands to Tasmania’s northwest. The seat covers West Coast, Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport and Waratah/Wynyard councils along with part of Latrobe council. It also covers King Island. The seat’s largest centres are the towns of Devonport and Burnie.

The seat of Braddon was created in 1955 when the existing Divison of Darwin was renamed. The seat of Darwin was created in 1903 for the first election with single-member electorates in Tasmania, and has always been a northwestern electorate. The seat of Darwin/Braddon has been largely dominated by conservative parties, with Labor holding the seat for 37 of the seat’s first 104 years up to 2007.

The seat was first won by the ALP’s King O’Malley, who held the seat until 1917. O’Malley is best-known for his service as Minister for Home Affairs under Andrew Fisher which saw him take responsibility for choosing the site and town plan for Caberra. He was also largely responsible for the Americanised spelling of the name of the Australian Labor Party. He was strongly anti-conscriptionist and his term as a minister ended when the ALP split, with Billy Hughes joining with the Liberals to form the new Nationalist government. At the 1917 election, O’Malley was narrowly defeated by a Nationalist candidate, and the Nationalist parties and its successors held the seat for the next forty years, with the exception of a single term in 1922 when the seat was held by the nascent Country Party.

The most prominent MP to represent Darwin during this period was Enid Lyons, widow of former Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, who was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1943 and held the seat until the 1951 election.

After the seat was renamed Braddon in 1955, the ALP won the seat back in 1958. Ron Davies held the seat for the ALP up to the post-dismissal election in 1975, when he was defeated by the Liberal Party’s Ray Groom, who held the seat until 1984. He went on to enter state politics and was Premier from 1992 to 1996. Chris Miles succeeded Groom in Braddon and held the seat for the Liberal Party up to the 1998 election, when he was defeated by Sid Sidebottom.

Sidebottom held the seat for the ALP from 1998 to 2004, when he lost the seat to Liberal Mark Baker in a backlash against Mark Latham’s forestry policies.

Sidebottom regained the seat in 2007, and was re-elected in 2010.

In 2013, Liberal candidate Brett Whiteley defeated Sidebottom with a 10% swing, but he lost in 2016 to Labor’s Justine Keay.


  • Jarrod Edwards (Greens)
  • Brett Neal (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers)
  • Donna Gibbons (Independent)
  • Joshua Boag (Liberal Democrats)
  • Brett Whiteley (Liberal)
  • Craig Garland (Independent)
  • Bruno Strangio (People’s Party)
  • Justine Keay (Labor)

Braddon is a marginal seat and could be in play, if the Liberal Party decide to contest the seat. The area is also the best part of Tasmania for Jacqui Lambie, although she seems unlikely to stand.

2016 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Brett Whiteley Liberal 26,841 41.5 -5.4
Justine Keay Labor 25,898 40.0 +2.5
Scott Jordan Greens 4,358 6.7 +1.6
Glen Saltmarsh Recreational Fishers 3,701 5.7 +5.7
Joshua Boag Liberal Democrats 1,380 2.1 +2.1
Clinton Rice Renewable Energy Party 1,343 2.1 +2.1
Graham Hodge Christian Democratic Party 1,151 1.8 +1.8
Informal 3,568 5.2

2016 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Justine Keay Labor 33,759 52.2 +4.8
Brett Whiteley Liberal 30,913 47.8 -4.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into six areas. Polling places in the Circular Head, Waratah/Wynyard and West Coast LGAs were divided into North West and South West. Polling places in Devonport and Latrobe council areas have been grouped into one group. Polling places in Burnie and Central Coast council areas have been grouped together separately.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of six areas, ranging from 54.4% in Devonport-Latrobe to 61.3% in the south-west.

The Liberal Party polled a majority in the other three areas, ranging from 50.3% on the Central Coast to 63.8% on King Island.

Voter group ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
Devonport-Latrobe 54.4 14,155 21.9
Central Coast 49.7 11,658 18.0
North-West 47.9 10,839 16.8
Burnie 59.5 9,718 15.0
South-West 61.3 2,025 3.1
King Island 36.2 778 1.2
Other votes 49.5 7,543 10.4
Pre-poll 50.7 9,238 13.5

Two-party-preferred votes in Braddon at the 2016 federal election

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  1. My top pick for a Liberal gain off Labor, and that will need to happen for Liberals to have any hope of retaining government. Sophomore surges will help in Tasmania, but I’m still perplexed as to how Labor picked this one up at all given how conservative the corresponding state area voted.

    I’m expecting a big campaign from the Liberals in Tasmania while they run “defensively” everywhere else.

  2. Depending on HIgh COurt decision on WEdnesday we mnay be having a bye-election here in a mionth or two.

    Remember this is Jackie Lambie Territory. Predominantly because of unemployment although unemployment would appear to be falling in Division. IT was an electorate dominated by Pulp and Paper, Caterpillar and Frozen Vegetables all now closed.

    Possible Rust Belt seat which means we do not know who the voters will turn on.

    This is an electorate which could give us a surprise. A bye-election makes it even more volatile.

  3. There are strong alp and liberal areas in this seat…..look at the map on this blog. .also Lambie network did not poll here well at the last State election

  4. Bear in mind that if there was a by-election it would be on the old boundaries, so I would need to make a modified version of the map and vote breakdown which doesn’t include the new areas.

  5. I would argue Bass federally is the strongest seat for the Liberals in Tasmania, however not by much. They held it from 2004-2007 and 2013-2016. Braddon since 1998 has only been in Liberal hands from 2013-2016. The last two state elections have recorded roughly similar Liberal votes in both electorates.The main difference at the last federal election Bass swung to Labor by over 10%, while in Braddon the swung was less than 5%.

    With Lambie out of the picture, I believe Labor will retain Braddon reasonably comfortably. Unless the former Liberal member decides to contest the seat again, then the contest will become closer.

    Also the main reason why the Liberals won such a resounding victory at the state election, especially in electorates such as Bass and Braddon. Because of concerns about Tasmania having another hung parliament with the Greens holding the balance of power.

  6. Oh yeah they did my mistake.

    I believe in a Victorian context Bass and Braddon are similar to Bendigo and Ballarat in being provincial rather than rural seats.

  7. I make a correction the Liberals did hold Braddon from 2003-2007 as well. Therfore; I am inclined to believe Braddon and Bass are the equally the strongest seats for the Liberals in Tasmania. Denison (if Wilkie was not the local MP) would be the strongest Labor seat in the state.

  8. the 3 non Hobart seats are obviously the most marginal…… but they tend to reward sitting members especially Lyons

    Bass is largely based on Launceston
    Braddon…… Burnie and Devonport but lots more
    Lyons….. does not have a town in it of More than 1000 people(I think)
    Yes Braddon would be the most Liberal inclined

  9. There are towns in Lyons with more than 1000 people, although none of the towns have more than say 10,000 people.

    Also Lyons includes a few outer suburbs of Hobart namely Bridgewater and Gagebrook which are rock soild Labor.

  10. Brett Whiteley is the Liberal candidate.

    Not sure of all the context and how he was as an MP, but I generally don’t think it’s a wise choice to run the ousted MP from one of Labor’s most surprising gains of the 2016 election.

  11. My hometown is in this electorate and I voted in Braddon at the 2016 election, but I’m no longer enrolled in the electorate. Justine Keay has impressed me, I didn’t think she’d be anything particularly special although better than Brett Whiteley for sure.

    Brett Whiteley is horrible and I’m not sure why he’s been announced as candidate. He lost his seat at both state and federal level and you’d think the Liberals would put up a more appealing candidate for this by-election. The comments on the local Advocate newspaper’s article on their Facebook page are rather brutal. I expect a swing to Labor.

  12. I would suggest a liberal gain just.

    The question could be whether Jacqui Lambie runs a candidate. I would be inclined to say yes. So they could gain 6-10%.

  13. Unsurprising polling out of Braddon (54 lib – 46 lab), while some movement away from liberals since the state election not nearly enough to give Labor a chance at holding this, obviously seat polls don’t have a great track record, but I reckon that number looks pretty close to what you would expect.

  14. Huge
    Yeah big numbers. Still it is hard to accept. Surely Labor must still be favourites ??

  15. By-elections throughout history have been near impossible for sitting governments to win when the seta is marginal. How are people not more surprised by these poll numbers? Labor is in serious strife if this is true and headed for a landslide loss at the general with Shorten as leader.

  16. F t Bern
    Commiserations FTB. Again !. I do sense your exasperation. Shorten really is a problem for Labor. However do you think anyone else could control the illegal immigration issue ? There was another big article in the OZ today about the Labor rank, & file being very against offshore processing.

    Braddon is starting to look ugly for Labor. Dee Madigan on PML made the point that Braddon has changed hands 6 times in 20, or 30 yrs. Where as Longman has been LNP 17 OUT OF 23 Yrs.

  17. I don’t think there has been a meaningful enough sample size of byelections to make any meaningful predictions from the past. The citizenship issue is new, and politics has changed.

    If these polls were out of marginal seats in NSW or Vic then obviously Labor would be in serious trouble, but the 2pp is still going labors way and these byelections just happened to occur in 2 places where unusual swings allowed labor to narrowly win it last federal election. The political environment in Tasmania has changed alot since mid 2016.

    Labor would still most likely win an election held today but they would probably lose herbert, longman, braddon and bass, while gains in WA, Vic,Nsw and maybe a few marginals in qld would get them over the line.

  18. Huge
    The biggest factor in getting Labor over the line, is the ineptness of the Libs. Then there is daylight. They couldn’t organise a piss up, at a brewery.

    You are right the 2pp is still running Labor’s way. I agree with your overall predictions, however i’m dubious about Bass. Lindsay is more likely IMV. Perhaps Macquarie too, if Templman has been ineffectual . Unlikely though.

    The mediscare thing bit hard in NSW, & I have feeling the election numbers were inflated by this.

  19. The fact it’s at the end of July instead of, say, this weekend will help Labor. The more time passes, the further away we’ll be from the state election, and the more likely it is for the Liberals (in either tier of government) to make a foul.

    I agree with Huge about which seats are vulnerable. The only other seats I could imagine Liberals picking up off another Labor is Melbourne Ports/McNamara if Danby runs again, Greens overtake Labor, and Danby’s rogue HTV cards (which pop up every election) prove influential.

    There’s also Mayo. Liberals are very fortunate to have this particular seats up for a byelection; their only pathway to winning the general election in my view involves winning all 3 of their opportunities (and maybe Labor losing one of the WA seats to Greens), then taking that momentum to push for another term with their more comfortable majority while saying Labor isn’t ready. However just looking through the discussions that have already happened, there are far too many seats that I really just can’t see the Liberals retaining, even in that scenario.

  20. apart from maybe 1 or 2 aberrant seats if there is a swing to a party that results in a change of government normally they retain there previous seats unless they are truly on the nose in one state. there is also a factor where a newly elected mp…. has a little surge at the next election. Of course the seats mentioned in earlier posts may be close

  21. Right mick. I still remember that Rudd’s 2007 landslide had Cowan and Swan flip from Labor to Liberal. Abbott 2013 didn’t have any seats like that; most notable was Labor retaining Greenway due to an embarrassing Liberal candidate.

    There is a sort of “honeymoon” that comes when a government gets re-elected which Tasmanian Liberals are still in. I don’t know if it will hold until July, and it certainly won’t until the federal election. If the Liberals do manage to take Braddon, I wouldn’t rule out Labor getting it back in the general election.

    I don’t think any state Labor governments are in as bad a place as WA Labor was in 2007, but the honeymoons being over in WA and Queensland could mean that landslide swings never eventuate.

  22. The only realistic targets for the government would be Herbert (Qld), Solomon (NT), Lindsay & Macquarie (NSW), Melbourne Ports (Vic), Bass & Braddon (Tas). I would have added Hindmarsh if it were contested on the old boundaries. If not for the by-election I’m not sure I would have Longman on the list.

  23. A little O/T now, but there’s been no real honeymoon for Qld Labor. Apart from them getting a slight majority, and the cross bench differences, it’s as though we had an election but nothing changed.

    That’s a good candidate for “state drag”. I don’t think there’s much if any overall difference in the drag levels between now and 2016 though.

  24. Greens have announced that their Braddon candidate is Jarrod Edwards. He’s an indigenous land management supervisor who lives in Wynyard. Interested to see how well he does given he’s not a regular candidate like Scott Jordan.

  25. I’m on the fence about Braddon, the recent state result and polling is convincing for the Liberals, but history is on Labor’s side.

    Personally I’m predicting the Liberals will gain either Longman or Braddon but not both.

  26. While initial polling is showing the Liberals ahead in both Braddon and Longman, I pretty confident Labor will retain both seats at the by-elections. Wither or not they will retain them at the federal election is another matter.

    Actually a good result for the Coalition would be for Labor to retain both seats without much of a swing. If they gained one or both seats, Bill Shorten could be replaced as Labor leader by Anthony Albanese which could be a disaster for the government.

    Right now only one seat I see Labor could lose at the federal election to come, Macnamara. Even then it is a toss up between the Liberals or the Greens (they came pretty close to winning it last time) gaining it. If Caulfield North had been exchanged for South Yarra/Prahran, then the Greens would be favorites to pick up Macnamara (they currently hold the state seat of Prahran).

  27. “Actually a good result for the Coalition would be for Labor to retain both seats without much of a swing. If they gained one or both seats, Bill Shorten could be replaced as Labor leader by Anthony Albanese which could be a disaster for the government.”

    Rubbish. A leadership contest between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese is exactly what the Liberals would want. The other thing is Albanese personal rating is not that much higher then Shorten and Albanese has the advantage of less scrutiny and the fact your ratings are harder to maintain once you take over the leadership. The suggestion that he has polling like Kevin Rudd had over Kim Beazley in 2006 is laughable and is basically just a story that Newscorp have manufactured. Federal Labor hasn’t had a leader contest back to back elections since Beazley contested the election back in 2001 hardly an incentive to replace Shorten.

    On to the by-election and I see a Reachtel poll today is suggesting Labor is ahead in Braddon 52-48. I never viewed Labor losing Braddon as harmful for Shorten as maybe in Longman for the simple reason state Labor is on the nose down in Tasmania hardly something Shorten can be blamed for.

  28. I no longer live in Braddon but I have been keeping an eye out on what’s been happening. Some observations

    – a lot of government ministers and the Prime Minister have been in Braddon. Lots of coverage in the Advocate
    – The Advocate comments from what I’ve seen for the most part have many people with negative opinions about Brett Whiteley and I feel like he is unpopular with the electorate having been booted out as both a state and federal MP
    – Eric Abetz’s attack on Craig Garland has driven more votes away from Brett Whiteley
    – Even in a field of eight I wouldn’t be surprised if Craig Garland gets 10% or more. Eric Abetz has sure helped and I think that Craig will take some Green voters as well as many of the people who voted Recreational Fishers at the 2016 election. I also think that he will get the main protest vote. His image in recent days since his Advocate interview has been that he’s a genuine person who cares more about the north west and west coast than the majors
    – Greens are mostly going unnoticed which is a shame as I like their candidate
    – I’m not sure how much it will be worth but worth pointing out that Craig Garland has directed preferences to Justine Keay

    Craig Garland will pull voters from everywhere imo so his preferences will be very important. I think Labor will win most likely 51-49 but possibly 52-48

  29. The Liberals attacks on Craig Garland seem like a big mistake. Braddon isn’t a natural Labor or Liberal seat, and neither party seems to be very popular there at the moment. Garland seems to be very representative of northwest Tasmania, so I don’t think attacks on him will go down very well at all.

    A recent poll found company tax cuts and penalty rate cuts were very unpopular in this electorate, so that’s probably not going to help the Liberals either.

  30. I must admit I haven’t heard much about Craig Garland until the last few comments, that being said Braddon out of most of the seats in the nation seem to have a real regional parochial bent which seems to favour unusual candidates eg Lambie.
    With a strong result at the state election and alot more media coverage he could play a serious role in this byelection.
    I still expect Labor to scrape through via his preferences but I wouldn’t rule him out completely for the win.

  31. Garland has been preferenced second to last by the liberals. That, combined with his localized support in the nw at the state election suggests he wont win.

  32. If he can get into double digits Craig Garland is a shoe-in in the next state election (if he wants it). Massive mistake by the Liberals to attack him so directly making him a household name.

  33. Bennee & L 96
    It looks like you will be proven right about Garland.
    His preferences, & Justine Keay’s personal popularity will be decisive in the end. Braddon will stay with Labor

  34. It’s been an interesting couple of months, my final verdict for Braddon is a narrow Labor hold with a 1.5-2% swing towards the Liberals.


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