Tasmanian Legislative Council, 2013

Voters in three Tasmanian Legislative Council seats go to the polls on May 4 to elect upper house members for the next six years.

Profiles have been prepared for the three races, including results of the previous election, history of the seat, and list of candidates, along with results maps.

Tasmania’s upper house is unique in how it is elected. While every other state and federal upper house is elected with proportional representation, while every other lower house is elected with single-member electorates, Tasmania reverses that pattern.

The Tasmanian House of Assembly is elected using the Hare-Clark proportional representation system, with each federal electorate electing five MHAs. The entire House is elected once every four years.

The Tasmanian Legislative Council consists of fifteen electorates, each of which elects a single MLC.

The strangest thing about the Tasmanian Legislative Council is that these elections never happen all at once. MLCs are elected for six-year terms, with elections held every year on the first Saturday in May. Each year, two or three districts are up for election.

The Legislative Council has always been dominated by independents. While Labor has regularly run candidates in the past, and a few years ago held most seats close to the Hobart area, the Liberal Party has very rarely run, and held no seats between 1999 and 2009. The Greens regularly run candidates, but have never won a seat.

These independents tend to be conservative, and the Legislative Council has recently blocked a number of initiatives including same-sex marriage recognition and the forest peace deal. A combination of never electing the entire House at one time, the lack of a contest for Premier at the time people vote, and single-member electorates have tended to result in a lot of popular local independents winning seats, with many of those having local government experience. Many continue in their other jobs while serving, including some who have stayed on as local councillors after winning a seat.

Since 2009, Labor have lost most of their seats. The Liberal Party now holds one seat, which is up for election in 2013.

The three seats are Montgomery, Nelson and Pembroke. Nelson covers the southern fringe of Hobart. Pembroke covers eastern parts of Hobart, on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. Montgomery covers the north-west of Tasmania between Burnie and Ulverstone.

In 2007, Pembroke was retained by the ALP’s Allison Ritchie, Nelson was retained by Jim Wilkinson, and Sue Smith was re-elected unopposed in Montgomery.

In 2009, Ritchie resigned from the Council due to ill health, and her seat was won by the Liberal Party’s Vanessa Goodwin.

A redistribution was undertaken in 2009, which slightly modified seat boundaries. No changes were made to Montgomery. Pembroke and Nelson were both changed slightly. The 2009 Pembroke by-election was conducted on the new boundaries.

You can download the 1999-2008 and the 2009-2013 boundaries as Google Earth maps from the Tally Room maps page.