Jodie Campbell, since 2007.
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 left largely intact by the redistribution, while it gained two small areas from Lyons to the south of Launceston. This had no impact on the 1.0% margin in the seat.
Bass is a very homogenous white Australian-born community. According to the 2006 Census, Bass has an above-average proportion of residents born in Australia and solely English-speaking. Over 92% of Bass residents only speak English at home, compared with 78.5% across Australia. Bass is a relatively poor seat, with average household income about three-quarters of the national average.
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 13 times in its history, and only once 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 current Brisbane Lord Mayor 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. Kevin Newman is the only Member for Bass in the seat’s history to retire on his own terms, with every other MP being defeated for re-election at the end of their time holding the seat. Smith served up to the 1993 election, when he too was defeated by Labor candidate Silvia Smith. Warwick Smith defeated her at the 1996 election, and he served as a minister in the first Howard government. He was then 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.
Five of those who have been Member for Bass have gone on to serve in the Tasmanian Parliament following their defeat. Silvia Smith was elected as a Labor independent in the Tasmanian Legislative Council in 1997, while Jens Jensen, Claude Barnard and Michelle O’Byrne all were elected MHAs for Bass after losing their federal seat. Most recently, former Liberal MP Michael Ferguson won a seat in Bass at the 2010 state election.
- Steve Titmus (Liberal)
- Geoff Lyons (Labor)
- Sancia Colgrave (Greens)
- Adrian Watts (Citizens Electoral Council)
Bass is the most marginal seat in Tasmania. Bass is at the centre of the political battle over the proposed Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, close to Launceston. When you consider this in relation to the seat’s marginality, it makes the seat an enticing target for environment campaign groups.
|Ixa de Haan||FF||930||1.46||-0.37|
2007 two-candidate-preferred result
The vast majority of voters in Bass live in Launceston and surrounding areas. About 80% of votes are cast in the urban part of Launceston LGA and the few suburbs in West Tamar and Meander Valley LGAs. Urban Launceston was won by the ALP, but not by a huge margin, with the ALP winning about 52% of the two-party-preferred vote. The ALP also won in most booths in rural Launceston LGA and George Town, while rural areas in George Town, Dorset and Flinders LGAs were dominated by the Liberal Party. When you divide the electorate into those booths close to the centre of Launceston, and those outside of that area, there isn’t a massive variation, although the Liberals did win in rural Bass with 50.6% of the two-party-preferred vote. The chart below does not take into account the minor impact of the redistribution.
|Voter group||GRN %||ALP 2CP %||Total votes cast||% of votes|
|Rural Bass (incl. George Town)||14.30||49.35||10,594||16.60|