Bass – Australia 2022

LIB 0.4%

Incumbent MP
Bridget Archer, since 2019.

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

History
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 seventeen times in its history, and only twice 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 Queensland Premier, 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. Smith served up to the 1993 election, when he too was defeated by Labor candidate Silvia Smith.

Warwick Smith won the seat back in 1996, and he served as a minister in the first Howard government. He was 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. Campbell stepped down in 2010 after one term, and Labor candidate Geoff Lyons won the seat.

Every subsequent member for Bass has lost after one term. Lyons lost in 2013 to Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic, who then lost to Labor’s Ross Hart in 2016. Hart lost in 2019 to Liberal candidate Bridget Archer.

Candidates

Assessment
Bass is an extremely marginal seat and has flipped back and forth between Labor and Liberal repeatedly over the last quarter century. Labor has a real chance to gain this seat. On the other hand, the Liberal Party did well here at the recent state election and there’s a real chance that a Liberal MP will win re-election in Bass for the first time since 1990.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Bridget Archer Liberal 29,09442.3+3.1
Ross Hart Labor 23,87834.7-4.9
Tom Hall Greens 7,20210.5-0.6
Allan John RoarkUnited Australia Party3,3424.9+4.9
Todd LambertIndependent2,6073.8+3.8
Susan WoodburyAnimal Justice1,6672.4+2.4
Carl Cooper Nationals 9431.4+1.4
Informal3,2404.5+0.5

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Ross Hart Labor 34,08549.6-5.8
Bridget Archer Liberal 34,64850.4+5.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into eight areas. Four of these areas cover the entirety of their local government area: Dorset, George Town, West Tamar and Flinders Island. Three areas divide up the urban parts of Launceston into Launceston North, Launceston East and Launceston West (which also takes in the edge of West Tamar council area). The remainder of the Launceston council area is grouped as Launceston Rural.

The urban parts of Launceston absolutely dominated the remainder of the electorate, with over 70% of election-day ordinary votes cast in Launceston.

The Liberal Party won just over 50% in eastern and western Launceston, while Labor won a large 61.2% majority in northern Launceston.

Labor also won George Town with 53.2%. The Liberal vote was 63.4% in Dorset and about 53% in the other areas, as well as in the pre-poll vote across the seat.

Voter groupGRN prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Launceston West13.150.713,64919.9
Launceston East10.750.510,70915.6
Launceston North9.038.88,44112.3
West Tamar9.853.14,2986.3
Dorset5.563.43,4355.0
George Town5.246.83,2884.8
Launceston Rural11.653.02,0603.0
Flinders Island12.053.04830.7
Pre-poll11.953.113,69719.9
Other votes9.251.08,67312.6

Election results in Bass at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. The only Abbott – Shorten – Morrison seat I can see Labor winning back, and its more due to the “ejector seat” history of the seat than anything else. The Liberal brand is strong in Tasmania but Gutwein didn’t pull McGowan style numbers and an incumbent state government has just as much chance of being a liability as time marches on.

  2. The libs had a very strong performance in northern Tasmania in the state election around white working class voters that have left labor. The result in other parts of Tasmania mean nothing when the north swings blue, expecting a swing to the liberals in this seat that won’t be quite on state levels but comfortable enough to have a seat that isn’t as marginal.

  3. Rumours that Ross Hart as again been preselected for Labor can anyone confirm this with a source? Cheers

  4. Pez
    Your assessment is compelling. The movement here was so large that there must still be more momentum. Apparently there is a very real, & conscious divide of North- South in TAS.
    john
    I don’t think electoral history will factor here.

  5. The libs easily won 3 out of 5 seats here bass and Lyons like they did for the 2 state elections before that this. Does not mean they are certain to win here or bass at the federal election. They will depend on the climate at the time. I would pick a 1/1 split of bass and braddon

  6. Bob. No Liberal has won re-election here since the Hawke era. Why are you so confident? Archer shouldn’t be complacent about her position because she like her predecessors will be a 1 term MP if the 53.5-46.5 poll is anything to believe. You’re basically saying she will get a swing to her which never happens in Bass.

    I personally think she has preformed quite poorly in the 46th parliament. I agree Gavin will hold in Braddon but Ross Hart will win this seat from Archer. I give it a 75% chance

  7. Maybe Archer might get returned because she’s abstained from voting on a couple of social welfare issues, which might stop some of the swing but she’s still incredibly vulnerable given the political climate and the fact that it is Bass, the see-saw of Australia’s 151 electorates.

  8. Ryan, that won’t help her. She is tied to Morrison. Launceston is also trending away from the Liberal party which also hurts their case. For them to win they need to gain ground in the small rural towns along the north coast to offset such a swing away in Launceston.

    Gutwein can campaign for her everyday and it still won’t help her. People differentiate state and federal politics.

  9. Tasmanians seem to vote differently at state and federal elections (as do QLD and WA), so I wouldn’t read too much into state results.

    Archer just crossed the floor to bring on a debate for the federal integrity commission, and also seems to be pretty sceptical of the religious discrimination bill. I wonder if she’s setting herself up to run as independent. Would probably be a pretty good strategy considering Bass’ tendency to swing back and forth between Labor and Liberal. Northern Tas seems like it’d be fertile ground for independents considering it’s not really a great fit for either party.

  10. My suspicions Bridget Archer crossing the floor to support a debate on a federal corruption watchdog was about soley holding her seat.

    She has a very marginal seat of Bass with a margin 0.4%. She likely used the issue to distance herself from the Morrison government and showing shes a ‘maverick’ to her electorate likely factored in her decison to cross the floor.

    You would have to suspect Scott Morrison must be on the nose via the polling for her to do this.

  11. It will go with a national swing, so even though Bridget Archeris trying to be seen as a lone sensitive voice on social and ethical issues she still wears the Liberal brand. I think it will be returned to Labor although Tasmania can throw up the “odd” surprise.

  12. Don’t place much credence in that electorate poll showing her ahead, BUT personalities do count in Tasmanian seats. Remember how Bruce Goodluck easily held Franklin for Libs to 1993 when he retired & Labor has never been challenged since then to hold seat. Labor won Bass in 1954 and then held on in 1955 despite Labor split. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she resisted a national swing.

  13. Despite how much Bridget Archer is trying to distinguish herself, national issues and the question of which party should govern dominate Australian federal elections and particularly in Lib v Lab contests. If the Coalition is headed for a landslide defeat her seat is not being spared. Her survival relies on the contest tightening to a close result nationwide and then hoping her efforts can dampen the swing or turn it in her favour to hold on.

  14. Hypothetically, if Archer quit the Liberal Party before the election was called and ran as an independent, would she have a better or worse chance to win? She wouldn’t have the Liberal Party’s resources for campaigning and it’s late to start building your own campaign now, but she’d avoid being seen as an automatic vote for a continued Morrison government.

  15. Coalition versus ALP marginal seats are not fruitful territory for independents or most minor parties because the hurdle to get into the 2CP is high and they already get a lot of targeted campaigning and governing from the ALP and Coalition.

  16. I did have a feeling that we could see Bass, and Tasmania as a whole resist the national swing this election, with Archer’s moderate credentials and a sophomore swing possibly being enough to push it over the line. While I’d hesitate to put too much faith in a seat poll which goes so contrary to national polls, I’d probably rather be her than the Labor candidate for Bass right now.

  17. Very surprised about Gutweins resignation. Huge loss for Tasmania and this state seat on the same boundaries. I definitely think the events in Canberra as the party shifts to the right nationally has contributed to this.

    I hope Gutwein runs here in 2025 should the sitting MP here loses her seat. Or he could be a future senator replacing senator Abetz if he somehow manages to retain a tricky 3rd senate seat.

    I believe the sitting MP here also ran for the state election in 2018 failing to be elected

  18. The two factors at play here are the popular state liberal government and the fact the seat has changed hands every election all but once since 1990 despite what Labor is trying to sell Morrison is more popular then albanese

  19. The state Liberal government has been popular but the resignation of Premier Gutwein surely shakes things up. Despite that, I believe a combination of factors will see this seat returned to Bridget Archer. One, she should see a sophomore swing in her favor. Two, she has made an effort to distance herself from the government, voting against them on multiple occasions. And three, the Liberal brand being much stronger in Tasmania than elsewhere due to the state government. If Archer hadn’t gone out of her way to distance herself from the government, she’d probably be done, so kudos to her for being keen enough to see which way the wind is blowing. I see Tasmania as holding the status quo for seats. Labor will win the election in other states, not Tasmania.

  20. The vote in The 3 non.Hobart seats is much higher at the state govt level
    Nothing to suggest tas will buck the general swing to Labor.

  21. One Nation’s decision to put Bridget Archer and other Lib moderates last could put her in danger here.
    Probable Labor gain.

  22. In Bass, hard to see ON preferences making a difference unless it was extraordinarily close. ON are also buried deep on the ballot paper below the Libs

  23. Redistributed is probably correct with that. A relatively high % of ON voters don’t follow the HTV, so it’d need to be very close to make a difference.

  24. Bass was 50.5/49.5 last election, so it is extraordinarily close.

    It’s really starting to look like you’ll be able to count the number of Lib mods in the next HoR on one hand. Paul Fletcher and Angie Bell are the only ones you can say are absolutely safe.

  25. Think I nailed it on my earlier comment a month or so back. Tasmania bucked the national trend and Bass and Braddon will be returned to the Liberals, with Lyons possibly joining them.

  26. After reading AFR and listening to the ABC, it seems that Tasmania has swung to the Liberals due to its demographics. It has a shrinking, aging blue-collar workforce with younger people moving to the mainland. It’s probably one of these places that’s left behind by the new economy and technology.

  27. I think a time will come where climate change renders a lot of places uninhabitable and Tasmania will become a net domestic migration gainer at that point, reversing the recent trends.

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