Bass – Tasmania 2021

Incumbent MPs

  • Sarah Courtney (Liberal), since 2014.
  • Michael Ferguson (Liberal), since 2010.
  • Peter Gutwein (Liberal), since 2002.
  • Jennifer Houston (Labor), since 2018.
  • Michelle O’Byrne (Labor), since 2006.

Bass covers the north-eastern corner of Tasmania. It covers the Launceston, George Town, Dorset and West Tamar council areas. Bass also covers Tasmania’s north-eastern islands, including Flinders Island.

Bass previously covered just a small part of the West Tamar council area around Launceston, and also covered part of the Meander Valley council area, also around Launceston. The remainder of West Tamar was transferred from Lyons to Bass, and that area in Meander Valley was moved from Bass to Lyons. These changes reduced the Liberal vote from 58.8% to 57.9%, and increased the Labor and Greens vote.

Bass was first created as a state electorate in 1909, when Tasmania moved to a system of proportional representation with each district electing six members. Bass has always had the same boundaries as the federal electorate of the same name.

At the 1909 election, the Anti-Socialists won three seats, the ALP two and one seat went to the “Liberal Democrats” party. The ALP and the Liberals won three seats each at the 1912, 1913 and 1916 elections.

The Nationalists won a 4-2 majority in 1919, although one of those four seats was lost to an independent in 1922.

The ALP and Nationalists maintained a 3-3 split at the 1925, 1928 and 1934 elections, with the Nationalists gaining a 4-2 majority in 1931.

The ALP won a majority in Bass for the first time in 1937, maintaining it until a 3-3 split was restored in 1948. Bass continued to elect even numbers of Liberals and Labor MPs from 1948 until 1959, when an expanded House of Assembly saw Bass elect a seventh seat, which went to an independent.

After the ALP and Liberals won three seats each at each election, the seventh Bass seat was traded back and forth from 1964 to 1986, with the ALP winning in 1964, 1972 and 1979, and the Liberals winning in 1969, 1976, 1982 and 1986.

Green independent Lance Armstrong won the seventh seat in 1989, and retained it in 1992, when the Liberals won a fourth seat off the ALP, who were reduced to two seats.

The ALP regained their third seat in 1996 at the expense of Armstrong, producing a 4-3 split favouring the Liberals.

The reduction of seats at the 1998 election hit the Liberal Party hard, who lost two of their four seats, while the ALP retained their three seats. The ALP lost one of those three seats to Kim Booth in 2002.

The 2-2-1 split was retained at the 2006 election, although former federal MP Michelle O’Byrne topped the poll and helped engineer the only pro-Labor swing in the state, almost defeating Booth, who won the final seat by a 136-vote margin over Labor candidate Steve Reissig.

Bass was the only electorate to maintain the party ratio in 2010, with 2 Labor, 2 Liberal and 1 Greens. Every other electorate shifted to the same proportion as Bass.

Sitting Labor MP Jim Cox and Liberal MP Sue Napier both retired. The poll was topped by former federal Liberal MP Michael Ferguson. For the second election in a row, a federal MP who had been defeated at the last federal election switched to state politics and topped the poll. Along with Michael Ferguson, the other open seat went to the ALP’s Brian Wightman.

The Liberal Party’s Sarah Courtney won a third seat for the party in 2014, with Labor’s Brian Wightman losing his seat.

The Liberal Party maintained their three seats in 2018, with Labor regaining a second seat from the Greens.


Labor and the Greens will both be looking to regain a seat here off the Liberal Party. The Liberals need to retain their three to have a shot at regaining a majority.

2018 result

CandidateVotes%QuotaRedist %
Peter Gutwein15,21323.41.4047
Michael Ferguson13,64021.01.2595
Sarah Courtney5,9929.20.5533
Bridget Archer1,8032.80.1665
Simon Wood1,5672.40.1447
Liberal Party 38,215 58.8 3.5286 57.9
Michelle O’Byrne10,92416.81.0087
Jennifer Houston2,2583.50.2085
Brian Roe1,5642.40.1444
Adam Gore1,3332.10.1231
Owen Powell1,0751.70.0993
Australian Labor Party 17,154 26.4 1.5839 26.6
Andrea Dawkins4,3336.70.4001
Emma Anglesey5610.90.0518
Emma Williams4690.70.0433
Tom Hall3940.60.0364
James Ireland2700.40.0249
Tasmanian Greens 6,027 9.3 0.5565 9.5
Michelle Hoult1,2571.90.1161
Gary Madden6751.00.0623
Daniel Groat5480.80.0506
Joshua Hoy5050.80.0466
Jacqui Lambie Network 2,985 4.6 0.2756 4.8
Brett Lucas5970.90.0551
Total Others 597 0.9 0.0551 0.9

Booth breakdown

Bass covers five local council areas. Most of the population lies in Launceston local government area. These booths have been split into Launceston North, Launceston South and Launceston Rural. A majority of the population lies in the Launceston urban area.

The Liberal vote was lowest in West Tamar and highest in Dorset.

The Labor primary vote ranged from 19% in Dorset to 31% in George Town. The Greens came third, with a vote ranging from 5.2% in Dorset to 12.2% in rural Launceston.

Voter groupLIB %ALP %GRN %Total votes% of votes
Launceston North54.528.211.824,17036.7
Launceston South60.827.16.913,99821.3
West Tamar53.927.28.84,3936.7
George Town54.831.36.13,4355.2
Launceston Rural58.523.012.22,2453.4
Flinders Island60.721.713.94600.7
Other votes57.926.38.88,37812.7

Election results in Bass at the 2018 Tasmanian election
Toggle between primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor Party and the Greens.

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  1. 3-2-0 is the most likely outcome here. Out of interest since the first Hare-Clark election in 1909 the ALP has always won the second most left seat here.


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