This election is now being counted - go here for counting commentary.
I hope this piece will be a useful resource for readers in the Hobart (Tasmania) area. Along similar lines to my state election and Legislative Council candidate guides, this guide is intended as a list of candidates running for Hobart City Council in 2014. It includes a description of their past electoral form (if any known) and an assessment of prospects. Obviously there is far more known form for the incumbents. For this reason I've decided to split the guide into three sections - firstly the candidate list, then the form guide, then an assessment of prospects. All these will be updated regularly.
During the campaign period voters have received official statements by the candidates, with photos supplied by them. An online version includes web links. This piece was initially published for the interest of those who didn't want to wait for the candidate statements, but I hope it will still be useful in presenting a less filtered view of candidate backgrounds.
If there is one suggestion I would send to voters, it is to not just automatically vote for all the same old names. By all means if you think an incumbent is doing a good job, vote for them. But some voters just pick all the names they've heard of whether they have any good impression of that person's performance or not, and this makes it a little bit harder for new entries than it should be.
This year we have a new election system with all sitting aldermen (except John Freeman, who has retired) facing the people at once and hence a much lower quota but also a much more competitive election. We're also electing a Mayor and Deputy for the next four years instead of two. These changes will mean the election is harder to predict, and I aim to post a lot about the counting when it happens.
For some background to the voting patterns of existing aldermen, see Hobart City Council Voting Patterns 2011-14. By way of a quick summary, while most aldermen are technically independent, and even the party-endorsed candidates don't vote the same way as each other all the time, I've often found that most aldermen belong to two loose clusters of generally likeminded aldermen. I refer to these as the "greens" (who are typically The Greens) and the "blues" (who usually favour the interests of commerce and development. Note that "blues" are not necessarily Liberals.).= While the blues dominated Council after the last election, infighting between them has seen Council become a much less predictable place, and some aldermen are voting very differently to how they used to.
(Note for candidates: Most candidates are sensible but there are always a few who seem to think that because I am voluntarily covering the election they are running in that somehow makes me their slave. Almost as annoying are those who think that if they fail to put information somewhere where I'd find it, that's my fault. Hence the following: any candidate may contact me once to have their main link changed and/or links added, or to supply extra bio information (no I will not include your whole CV or go beyond a few background lines per candidate). Requests that blame me for not unearthing information will result in that candidate getting no links at all! Feel free to whinge about alleged bias in comments though.
Oh and some advice to candidates - most of you have hopeless SEO! A person looking for general information about Hobart City Council candidates finds David Edwards' page from 2005 faster than most of yours! I hope this page helps overcome that.
Anyone may of course advise me of any clear factual errors in my comments and I will fix these, but please do not stretch the concept of factual error to include differences of opinion in this process. All feedback about this guide is on the public record.)
(Additional note for candidates: I don't know why, but Hobart City Council candidates, collectively though in far from all individual cases, are about the easiest people to unintentionally offend on earth.)
Alas I don't have time to do the same for every council, as some of the others are probably more interesting! I may post links to similar sites for other councils if they are sent to me (here's one for Clarence. And there's CompareTheMayor for Launceston.) Please address any corrections or additions for such other council guides to the sites in question and not to me. I cannot vouch for the bias or lack thereof, or the updating, of any such external links.
Candidates statements for each council can be found in electronic form by going to http://www.electoral.tas.gov.au/LocalGovernmentElections2014/LGCandidates.html and clicking on the council of choice, then clicking the link on right to the candidate statements. These versions contain links to candidate websites, if the candidate has supplied a link.
Candidates for Lord Mayor and Deputy
These are the official nominations:
Burnet, Helen (incumbent alderman)
Cocker, Phil (incumbent alderman)
Hickey, Sue (incumbent alderman)
Thomas, Damon (incumbent alderman, current Lord Mayor)
Here is a group photo of these individuals.
Deputy Lord Mayor
Briscoe, Jeff (incumbent alderman)
Christie, Ron (incumbent alderman, current Deputy Lord Mayor)
Harvey, Bill (incumbent alderman)
Ruzicka, Eva (incumbent alderman)
Sexton, Peter (incumbent alderman)
Zucco, Marti (incumbent alderman)
Candidate info, links and form guides for all the above appear below.
Candidates for Councillor (12 to be elected)
The following are the candidates (30). Alderman John Freeman has retired so there is one vacancy.
I am trying to keep this section more or less neutral without it being totally boring or bereft of humour. There are a few biases that may sneak through (or be overcompensated for) but I've been following this scene (from a distance) for a long time and have become more interested in providing a resource than in trying all that hard to skew the outcome. I find that I can see where different aldermen of a lot of different positions are coming from, and that I don't really dislike anyone all that much anymore. I should, however, note a ritual disclaimer that sometimes candidates get endorsed by my mother.
About links in this section: In most cases, if you click on the candidate's name it will take you to a link - where possible a campaign link - concerning the candidate. This may be the candidate's website or blog page, their page on their party's website, or their campaign Facebook page. It's usually, but not always, the page they specified with their candidate statement. For aldermen who don't have a campaign web presence I've just linked to their HCC profile page. For other candidates who don't have a campaign web presence I've linked to their Linkedin or Facebook pages, where available. Further links are listed for each candidate where available.
Every candidate has a candidate's statement and photo that is sent out with voting material. You may be able to find statements for other councils by substituting the council name for "Hobart" in the URL. Two candidates didn't submit anything and five gave no web presence.
All mayoral candidates were also involved in an ABC radio forum on the morning of 13 October and I am trying to obtain a link to playback.
The six "Hobart's Home Team" candidates (Christie, Barlow, Campbell, Ding, Roffe, Siena) have a group video here.
Andrew, Rachel (Tasmanian Greens) - "physiotherapist who works with people with neurological issues and in women's health", former AUSAID volunteer. Other links: F+D statement, Twitter, party page
Barlow, Patrick - Linkedin profile states he is CEO of Jacaranda Communications Hobart, which apparently predates a similar Canberra business of same name. At one stage was extremely briefly CEO of Football (soccer) Federation Tasmania.
Briscoe, Jeff - incumbent alderman, college teacher of maths, computing and chemistry (see student reviews here!), credit union director. Other links: Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, F+D statement, Zoominfo
Burnet, Helen (Tasmanian Greens) - incumbent alderman and former Deputy Lord Mayor. Podiatrist at Royal Hobart Hospital, volunteer on range of non-profit boards. Other links: Mercury live blog, party page, Linkedin, Twitter, F+D statement
Burnett, Simon (Tasmanian Greens) - postgrad teaching student, former soldier, wrote commentary for ielect at 2010 state election Other link: party page
Campbell, Susan - Very long-term Salamanca stallholder and Public Officer of Salamanca Stallholders Association. Prominent campaigner for investigation into military.
Carroll, Noel - Civil and structural engineer at Pitt+Sherry architects. Also engineering consultant and deputy chair of National Committee on Coastal and Ocean Engineering.
Christie, Ron - incumbent alderman and current Deputy Lord Mayor, former radio and TV host, marketer and Eisteddfod president. Other links: Facebook, Twitter
Cocker, Philip (Tasmanian Greens) - incumbent alderman, "has run small businesses and worked in Law Enforcement". Other links: Mercury live blog, Greens candidate page, Twitter
Cong, Lin (Rebecca) - restaurater (Written On Tea) Other links: candidacy announcement, Twitter
Cooper, Suzy - writer/editor/proofreader/communicator/designer (business website), also "former-geologist-turned-stand-up-comedian". Other links: Mercury live blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tasmanian Times article, funding disclosure
Denison, Tanya - real estate sales consultant, former cashflow business operator and mining engineer. Ran as Liberal candidate for Denison electorate (including Hobart council area) in 2013 federal election and openly campaigning on that basis. Other links: Linkedin
Ding, Mao - 25 years old, runs taschinese.com, a Tasmanian Chinese social media website that offers translated news and study, classifieds, tourism and real estate information. Campaign launched by Christie who is promoting candidate as "running mate".
Dutta, Michael - Proprietor of Macquarie Street Foodstore cafe/restaurant, former teacher, lawyer and Minister of Religion.
Foley, Leo - incumbent alderman, President of Council of Hobart Progress Associations and former President of Lenah Valley Progress Association, land tax reform advocate with economics background. Other link: Twitter
Griggs, Nick - Consulting land surveyor for over 30 years. "Nick Griggs & Co" is listed as a land surveyor and property development firm based in North Hobart. Signs are authorised by Jim Wilkinson MLC.
Harvey, Bill (Tasmanian Greens) - incumbent alderman, English teacher, formerly involved in Malaysian/Chinese business college and boutique wine delivery. (Insert obligatory polar bear joke). Other links: F+D statement, , Twitter, party page
Hastings, Matthew - Self-proclaimed "proudly progressive candidate", hair stylist at Jakadjari, marriage equality advocate and prospective participant, involved with union issues through United Voice.
Hickey, Sue - incumbent alderman, businesswoman, managing director Slick Promotions, Rotary board member and former state President. Former TV presenter, Miss Tasmania 1979*, Tas Businesswoman of the Year 2007. Other links: Mercury live blog, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter , F+D statement
Peterson, Corey - Sustainability Manager at University of Tasmania (see Utas staff page), also IT graduate and former Antarctic scientist, and director of Sustainable Living Tasmania. Other links: Linkedin, Facebook , F+D statement
Penny, Tim - architect (business website) and contemporary art gallery director. Facebook page suggests local football connections.
Reynolds, Anna (Tasmanian Greens) - CEO of Multicultural Tasmania, policy and campaign consultant, climate change issues advocate, former International Adviser to national Greens leader. Other links: Tasmanian Times article, party page, Facebook, Twitter, Pozible
Roffe, Richard - Doctor, member of Christie ticket. Previously publicly supported Christie's push for purchase of Sydney monorail. Other claims to fame include having a defibrillator stolen.
Ruzicka, Eva - incumbent alderman and former Deputy Lord Mayor, University of Tasmania PhD student writing thesis about "why reform of local government in Tasmania is so difficult". Other links: Linkedin, Facebook, F+D statement on own site
Sexton, Dr Peter - incumbent alderman, G.P., Chair of Tasmanian medical board, President and Chair of National Heart Foundation, Museum Trustee, cricket medico. Other link: Linkedin
Smith, Timothy - Disability advocate known on Facebook and Twitter and numerous other social media platforms as "Timinane", and who self-describes as "Angry, Disabled, Nerd Tasmanian".
Siena, Kasha - Young Salamanca stallholder (a letter from her re market can be read here). Social media posts from about a year ago pro-Wilkie, Rudd and anti-Abbott, Gillard, Greens, and more relevantly to HCC, pro cable car.
Stansfield, Philip - has worked as State Government lawyer and policy officer and also electorate officer and ministerial adviser (for David Crean), appears Labor-connected. Other link: Facebook
Thomas, Damon - incumbent alderman and current Lord Mayor. Head of Red Shield Appeal, Korean consul. Formerly: Crown Solicitor, Ombudsman, CEO of Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Other links: Mercury live blog (includes funding disclosure), Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter
Zucco, Marti - incumbent alderman, businessman, veteran restaurateur (believed recently retired), serial candidate for state and federal politics, headline generator, horse race sponsor Other links: Twitter, state election webpage
(* Apparently these things matter to some people!)
Past candidate Ben Peelman appeared to be running but did not nominate, citing "lack of funds, and other resources". A possible DLM tilt by radio host Dave Noonan also didn't eventuate.
above isn't a word that I thought I'd be using in Council election
coverage all that much anymore but the day before the close of nominations Ron Christie
foreshadowed the announcement of a ticket called "Hobart's Home Team"
consisting of six candidates, none of whom apart from him had run for this Council before. Oddly, promotional material for this ticket describes all members as "Alderman Elect", which is technically, to say the least, premature.
A ticket is a group of candidates who campaign together and try to convince supporters to vote for all members. Of course, the Greens are also a
ticket, but apart from them, tickets have been little seen in Council
elections since the late 1990s. From the mid-80s through the late 90s
there was usually a pro-commerce ticket containing most of the "blue"
aldermen of the time and a "progressive" ticket based around resident's
groups, progress associations and so on.
atrophied around the turn of the decade for no especially obvious
reason, but they were never all that great a success in their desired
aim of ensuring good preference flows between their members. There had
been quite a deal of speculation some aldermen would seek to run on them
at this election, in the view they might be effective given the large
numbers of candidates and the probable increase in voter numbers. So far most aldermen do not appear to have done so.
Anyway to this point the following tickets appear to exist, with many candidates not on any ticket:
Greens - Burnet, Harvey, Cocker, Reynolds, Burnett, Andrew
Hobart's Home Team - Christie, Mao Ding, Barlow, Campbell, Roffe, Siena
Additionally, Sue Hickey for Mayor and Jeff Briscoe for Deputy are campaigning together and can be considered a ticket. It does not appear they are endorsing other candidates.
This section includes a summary of past election performances (where any known) including histories of any known party or quasi-party involvements, and also assessments of past voting patterns. This one is in reverse alphabetical order, just for a change. Most new candidates have no previous known electoral form, but this section isn't about saying that more or less electoral form is good. It is mainly for the purpose of saying how people have gone in the past for those interested (like me) in trying to guess how they'll go in the future.
Zucco, Marti - First elected to Council in 1992, Zucco's record is of always being re-elected comfortably without ever having polled quota and with some tendency to crawl on preferences. Missed out for Deputy in 2011 when beaten by Ron Christie by six votes at key exclusion point; not competitive in previous leadership tilts. Independent candidate for Legislative Council a few times (best result 25% in Newdegate 1993). Unsuccessfully sought preselection for Liberal Party for 2010 state election, attempt exterminated by pro Elise Archer forces (and probably others), quit party. Palmer United Party candidate for Franklin 2013 federal election polling very respectable 6.1%. Involved in dispute with Jacqui Lambie, quit party and ran as independent for Denison polling 788 votes (more than any Denison PUP candidate). My assessments have consistently shown Zucco to be one of the most hardline pro-commerce ("blue") aldermen on council.
Thomas, Damon - First elected to Council in 2009 polling 8.7% of the aldermanic vote and finishing fourth after preferences. Then won Lord Mayor at first attempt defeating Helen Burnet narrowly on preferences with 51.5% two-candidate preferred. My assessments have shown Thomas as a fairly middle of the road member of the pro-commerce ("blue") aldermanic grouping on council. In the early part of this Council term Thomas was almost never on the losing side of a council vote.
Sexton, Peter - First elected to Council in 1999 on a recount after John Freeman temporarily resigned. Third elected in 2005 and 2009, each time with relatively modest primary votes (6.6% and 5.5%) but very high shares of preferences from other candidates, especially Rob Valentine. Ran for Deputy Mayor in 2005 (beaten 46:54 by Eva Ruzicka) and 2009 (beaten by Helen Burnet by 77 votes.) Ran for Lord Mayor in 2011 but disappointing 18.6% in field of four. My assessments have shown Sexton to be consistently a moderate member of the pro-commerce ("blue") aldermanic grouping on council.
Ruzicka, Eva - First elected to Council in 1999, polling 4.1% and beating the Greens' Cath Hughes by just under eleven votes (votes are distributed in hundredths). Polled comfortably over quota with 19.9% in 2002 and 17.7% in 2007, winning Deputy Lord Mayor three times with wins over Lyn Archer, Peter Sexton and Helen Burnet, all around the 54:46 range. Did not recontest DLM in 2009 citing study commitments, re-elected as alderman 2011 with reduced vote share (8%). In very distant past (early 1990s) minor candidate for pre-party Green Independents, also ran as an independent with links to the now defunct Extremely Greedy 40% Extra Party in Queenborough in 1995. In the last three Council terms I have assessed Ruzicka as roughly in between the "greens" and "blues" on council and as the alderman whose voting patterns are least similar to any of the others.
Reynolds, Anna - Drew the short straw as Greens candidate running against Andrew Wilkie in 2013 federal election. This was always a hiding to nothing since Wilkie agrees with the Greens on many issues dear to their supporters, but would probably still have expected more than 7.92% .
Peterson, Corey - Endorsed #2 Greens candidate in 2009, polled 367 primary votes (2%) and after receiving much of Burnet's surplus was nearly elected, eventually being overtaken by sitting alderman Darlene Haigh by just 105 votes. Ran again independently in 2011 and polled 437 votes finishing 12th.
Hickey, Sue - Hickey was initially preselected for the Liberal ticket for Denison in 2010 but subsequently withdrew because of Constitution Act issues, and unsuccessfully sought preselection for the 2013 Senate ticket. Hickey was famously confronted by Elise Archer at the Taste of Tasmania in 2010 after making a comment that there were too many lawyers in politics. Despite announcing her candidacy only as nominations closed, Hickey was elected to Council at the first attempt in 2011 polling 14.5% (over a quota), easily the strongest performance at a first attempt in recent years. Hickey initially voted very similarly to Damon Thomas and was, as expected, a member of the "blue"grouping, but as she began to be critical of Thomas her voting behaviour has become less predictable, and together with Briscoe and Christie she is no longer recognisably in that group.
Harvey, Bill - Harvey was elected to Council at the third attempt in 2007, polling over 600 primaries and performing strongly on preferences. In 2011 Harvey was the strongest-polling Green, getting more than half the Green ticket vote and being easily re-elected while fellow incumbent Cocker struggled. However Harvey was unsuccessful in his run for Deputy Lord Mayor, topping the primary count with 37% but losing 46:54 after preferences to Ron Christie. Harvey ran as a heavily promoted second candidate for the Greens in Denison at the 2013 state election, and seemed an outside chance to get elected based on some polling, but ultimately the Green vote was not that high and he polled 1614 votes. While Harvey forms a voting cluster on HCC with his fellow Greens Burnet and Cocker, there is no party discipline between the three and I have consistently assessed him as the most moderate of the Greens aldermen.
Foley, Leo - Leo Foley won election in 2011 at the fourth attempt, polling 5.6% of the primary vote and holding off incumbent Eric Hayes and Simon Monk (ALP) on preferences. Prior to that he had finished ninth three times (polling between 3.4% and 5.7% and coming close to being elected in some of these attempts). Foley eventually won the seventh seat, which was supposed to be for a two-year term, but electoral changes stretched his term to three years, while shortening those of the aldermen elected alongside him. Contested Denison as an independent in the 2014 state election but polled only 207 votes. Despite my initial assessment that he would be less "blue"-friendly than the late Darlene Haigh (whose former voter base he probably shares to some degree), Foley has tended to side with the "blues" against the Greens during this term of council, though not by enough to count him as a member of their cluster.
Dutta, Michael - Dutta contested the 1996 election as a minor candidate on the Valentine/Bonham-led Hobart Community Team, polling 270 votes (1.5%).
Denison, Tanya - Endorsed Federal Liberal candidate for Denison at 2013 federal election, in a race in which the Liberals were very late announcing a candidate after a previous candidate failed due diligence at the last moment (there was also speculation they were deliberately helping Andrew Wilkie to win.) Polled third on primaries with 23.2%, narrowly behind second-placed candidate, ALP's Jane Austin.
Christie, Ron - Christie was elected to Council for a two-year term in 1999. He then lost his seat at the 2000 election but returned in 2002, when he was fifth elected. He was almost defeated in 2007, surviving a fight with fellow incumbents Lyn Archer and Eric Hayes by nine votes after reportedly clearing his desk in the belief that he had lost. In 2011 he created some surprise (and some embarrassment for this psephologist) when he polled much more strongly than before, being third elected as an alderman and becoming Deputy Lord Mayor after beating Zucco by six votes at the crucial exclusion. Christie has generally been one of the most hardline and at times even idiosyncratically extreme members of the "blue" cluster of pro-commerce aldermen, but in the last two years his voting behaviour has radically changed, making him merely "blue-leaning" and far more likely to side with the Greens than used to be the case.
Cocker, Philip - Cocker was elected to Council for a two-year term in 2005, getting a strong flow of preferences from Helen Burnet despite a very low primary vote. In 2007 he polled 18.4% as the lead Green candidate and was elected on first preferences. In 2011 he was outpolled by fellow Green alderman Harvey and came within 104 votes of losing his seat to first-time Green candidate Madeleine Charles. Cocker also ran for Denison on the Greens ticket at the 2014 state election but polled 695 votes, again less than half of Harvey's tally. Cocker is one of three Greens on Council, forming a voting cluster with the other two (Harvey and Burnet) although there is no party discipline and they vote more independently of each other than some pairs of "independent" aldermen.
Burnett, Simon - Contested the 2014 state election for the Greens in Franklin as a minor candidate, polling 454 votes.
Burnet, Helen - Helen Burnet has a long history of strong electoral performance for the Greens. She came within about 200 votes of beating the party's endorsed ticket-leader to a seat at her first attempt in 2002, then was easily elected in 2005 with 14.6%, which rose to 19.2% in 2009. After a competitive loss to Ruzicka for the Deputy Lord Mayor position in 2007, Burnet defeated Peter Sexton by 76 votes to win it in 2009, to date the Greens' only leadership position victory in Hobart. Burnet ran for Lord Mayor in 2011 losing narrowly to Damon Thomas with 48.5% two-candidate preferred. She also polled over 3000 primaries as #2 Denison Green candidate in the 2010 state election, but was narrowly excluded behind Andrew Wilkie in the cut-up (with Wilkie nearly winning on her preferences). Burnet contested the Greens' process to replace retiring Senator Bob Brown, but they preselected Peter Whish-Wilson instead. She was preselected #2 on the Greens' Senate ticket behind Whish-Wilson but the Greens did not manage even one quota in their own right. For comments re the Greens voting cluster see Cocker above.
Briscoe, Jeff - Jeff Briscoe was very narrowly elected as an alderman in 1994 and has consistently increased his primary vote at every election since, to the point that he topped the aldermanic poll in 2011 with well over a quota. Two mayoral runs against Rob Valentine were unsuccessful (polling 28% and 25%) but his run for Lord Mayor in 2011 produced a reasonable third place with 21.6%. Briscoe was initially elected on a ticket linked to local residents' groups and progress associations but soon switched to the "blue" side of Council. I've generally assessed him as a member of the "blue" cluster over the past nine years, but the recent collapse of that grouping has seen him, along with Christie and Hickey (who he is supporting for Lord Mayor) becoming less predictable. Briscoe contested the Legislative Council seat of Hobart for the Greens in 1994 (polling 23%) but a falling-out with the party over preselection order saw him quit the ticket and run as an independent for Denison (state) in 1996, polling 551 votes. He later joined the Liberal Party and contested Franklin for it in 2002 polling just 787 votes. I believe he is no longer associated with any party.
I note here that Eva Ruzicka's blog has some of the most detailed discussion of the election and this creates a minor dilemma for me, in that for neutrality reasons I'd rather not push any one candidate's output too much, but for completeness of coverage reasons, it's unavoidable. So if other candidates have put up such detailed discussions of issues I will reference them too, if I'm made aware of them. Some contentious Council issues that have emerged or are likely to emerge during the campaign are as follows:
1. The Myer Hole: One wing of Hobart's Myer store was destroyed by fire in 2007, forcing the company to partly relocate to a less central and smaller location. Seven years later the store has still not been rebuilt. It has been very recently disclosed that rebuilding assistance to the company and developer is worth $14 million, this being mostly in foregone fees but including a $3.5 million topup should the company fail to meet insurance targets. Responses have varied from concern that the replacement development might not be seriously on track, to dissatisfaction that a company is being bailed out at all and suggestions that other companies could do with similar support. The issue is a free swing for Hickey who wasn't on Council when the funding decision was taken in closed session in 2010.
Burnet unsuccessfully called for the voting pattern on the Council's response to be released. Cocker has stated he voted against. An aspect of the debate raised in this Ruzicka blog post is that the retail environment has changed since the original decision was made.
2. Proposed Mt Wellington Cable Car: This has yet to appear in the election campaign but it's likely just a matter of time. A lengthy motion to advise the prospective developer of conditions for the Council to consider providing landowner consent (including requiring extensive documentation of the project) was put at the May council meeting but the vote was tied 5-5 with Thomas, Hickey, Sexton, Zucco and Foley in favour and Briscoe, Christie, Ruzicka, Burnet and Cocker against. (Some at least of those voting against do not support the proposal at all.) Sexton then sided with the five against the motion to pass a motion that no further action be taken.
3. Battery Point Walkway: Another old chestnut of the Hobart political scene (in various guises), stage one of this long-proposed walkway was approved by full council on Monday October 13. It is strongly opposed by several local residents. Jeff Briscoe scored a large photo-op with a stack of reports about the project. Ruzicka has effectively called the proposed development a white elephant (somehow without actually using those words) in a detailed criticism of the proposal. Most other candidates expressing a view on the issue appear supportive. Matt Hastings has alleged that he was offered votes over the issue, though the claim is based on a claimed phone call and is disputed.
4. Woodchips on the Wharf: Two days into the voting period Damon Thomas and indeed pretty much anyone who can credibly distance themselves from the Liberal Party has received a substantial campaigning freebie c/- Resources Minister Paul Harriss's announcement that the Government intends making Macquarie Wharf an export based for woodchips, increasing log truck traffic down Macquarie Street.
A candidate survey on cycling issues is being conducted by Cycling Tasmania.
Certainly not a contentious issue (because it's way too obscure), but one of the more unusual releases came from Marti Zucco who wants to resand Cornelian Bay, which was apparently denuded for military purposes early in World War II and has not hosted any surfing classics since. (Fascinating reading!) Another left-field Zucco policy involves bicycle sensors on cars.
This section deals with contentious aspects of campaigning.
1. Alleged Roll Stacking: In an article not available online, Bill Harvey raised concerns about the last-minute appearance on the General Manager's roll of voter names of mainly Chinese and South Korean origin. I haven't actually checked the paper version but a comment on Tasmanian Times suggests a few hundred such registrations are involved. The Christie team responded with this press release apparently from Mao Ding calling the comments "hurtful to those of us who want the right to vote". Again I must refer to the Ruzicka blog and must agree that lax drafting is the root of this problem; it's little wonder that candidates will seek to exploit the loopholes present.
2. Funding Disclosure: An unofficial donation disclosure website has been established by some people seeking improved campaign funding disclosure practices and donation disclosure laws. As of 11 October, just five Hobart candidates have had initial statements posted, consistent with a generally very low takeup rate across the state. The group claims that some candidates statewide have cited lack of time to fill in forms as a reason for not disclosing, though the forms are by no means onerous. Eva Ruzicka has raised concerns about sending such documents as a signature and passport photo to a largely anonymous body and self-posted a statement instead.
3. Turnout: Larger councils have smaller turnout percentages than small ones because a smaller proportion of voters know the candidates and each vote has less power; also they tend to have more young and itinerant voters. Returns as of Friday 17th showed Hobart with the lowest turnout figures in the state despite - or perhaps because of - the large number of candidates. Low turnout favours incumbents, high-profile outside candidates and, of course, those who do well with the General Manager's roll.
As of Friday 24 October, turnouts statewide were running close to 3 percentage points above the 2011 turnouts, suggesting that at least the Hobart voting mix won't be radically different to what we have seen in past elections.
Prospects: Lord Mayor
Of the five candidates, based on his recent performances relative to Harvey and Burnet I believe Cocker cannot win, though running may assist his profile for re-election as alderman. Whether the odd strategy of running two Green candidates for Mayor helps much with preference flow or just confuses voters is to be seen but I expect it to be more of the latter. Cooper, the only candidate currently running who is not already an incumbent, is also very unlikely to win for profile reasons, but currently fills a political gap between the Greens and the other contenders, and might poll a more than token mayoral vote for that reason.
In considering a contest between Thomas and Hickey (the main contenders, in my view) I would point out that while Thomas is the incumbent, he has only been in for one term, thus it remains to be seen to what extent he has converted his presence in the role into a personal vote. It's also significant that while Thomas's performance in getting elected to Council at the first attempt was strong, Hickey's in the next election was stronger.
Thomas has been high-profile and had some good media in the role, including this Mercury editorial describing him as a "progressive Lord Mayor and a champion for Hobart and Tasmania", albeit in terms that left-progressives might well (and in some cases did) raise eyebrows at. I do however often hear claims (and not just from opponents) that Thomas is not well liked in business circles especially. Opponents have also tried to criticise him for political showmanship, including his participation in the Dark Mofo nude swim, though I find it hard to believe (or in the latter case hope) that this is an issue for too many voters.
On the basis of Hickey's debut in 2011 it must be considered that Hickey is a serious opponent for Thomas. Hickey notably carries the final endorsement of the late Doone Kennedy, though Sexton's failure to win the mayoralty last time showed that that was not the automatic ticket to success it was once thought to be (indeed, it seemed more that Kennedy generally endorsed candidates who were going to win anyway).
Some observers initially considered Hickey the slight favourite (and still do). In the first week of the campaign proper my impression was that Thomas had the higher public profile, although some of that related to the Myer development and was not unequivocally positive. He was also very organised in terms of getting signs up early. Through the second and third weeks of the campaign I have also had the impression that Thomas is campaigning very vigorously and I am not completely sure whether Hickey has done enough to dislodge him. The emergence of the "woodchip wharf" issue may also have assisted the incumbent.
The long-term history of the mayoralty has been that surprisingly few first-term mayors are returned, but those who get back the first time have the job for many years. However, nearly all that history dates from the days before the widespread postal vote franchise, so it probably isn't that relevant. In the last few decades defeats of sitting Mayors in councils in the Hobart region have been extremely rare, but this should be set against Launceston's turnover in the 2000s in which the mayoralty changed hands at the ballot box three times and missed doing so a fourth time by three votes.
There is quite a high chance that Burnet can poll over (or close enough to) a third of the vote after Cocker's preferences and thereby make the final two. I am not certain this will happen, because the Greens are not travelling well in Tasmania lately, but they did still poll 33% within Council boundaries in the state election. This could therefore end up like the DLM contest in 2011, with whichever of Hickey and Thomas beats the other then defeating Burnet on the other's preferences. I don't completely rule out Burnet winning, but I think it's unlikely this time around. I would expect Burnet's preferences (if she is excluded) to somewhat favour Thomas on account of Hickey's well-known Liberal connections.
There is no known polling for this election.
Prospects: Deputy Lord Mayor
This looks like being a very open contest with a long cut-up. Six incumbent aldermen and five non-incumbents are contesting. Four of the non-incumbents are support candidates on the Christie ticket. I believe having nearly everyone on the Christie ticket running for Deputy Mayor will create confusion and that none of Christie's support candidates will win this position. Whether they funnel preferences to Christie to any significant degree - it looks to me like a strange preference-harvesting attempt by the incumbent - remains to be seen. (Running for Deputy has long been considered a way for struggling sitting aldermen to boost their vote but there is not much evidence that it works in Hobart.)
Of the sitting aldermen the one with the strongest track record of polling as an alderman is Briscoe. However that may be partly because his profile was boosted by a mayoral run last time, which is not the case this time. All the same in a race in which an ability to attract both primaries and preferences is critical, I think he is the most serious incumbent challenger to Christie.
As candidates near opposite ends of the council spectrum Zucco and Harvey may well poll decent primary votes but might struggle for preferences. Sexton's track record indicates he could have the reverse problem. Ruzicka is a three-time winner of the position so also has to be given some chance, but I am not sure her profile has been high enough lately. I give all the sitting aldermen some chance but think it is most likely between Briscoe and Christie.
Of the non-sitting alderman, Tanya Denison is the highest-profile and may benefit by being the most obvious recipient of diehard Liberal votes. All the same even with a very large campaign (which hasn't been seen) it would be difficult for her to win the position without any prior Council history and having announced only at the close of nominations.
Prospects: Councillors (12 to elect)
The following candidates will be re-elected easily and probably each with much more than a quota (the reduced quota for this election is only 7.7%): Thomas, Hickey, Burnet.
At this stage, depending on the final field, I very strongly expect the following candidates to also be re-elected easily, perhaps with more than a quota, or perhaps on surpluses from those with more than a quota or else soon after the surpluses: Briscoe, Christie, Harvey, Zucco. The smaller quota should suit Zucco if he campaigns well, as he tends to attract a "cult" support base of voters who are not so likely to switch to other aldermen.
At times through the campaign I have wondered if Sexton is in serious danger of defeat given his relatively low profile and an apparent lack of campaign visibility. However in the first week of voting Sexton had a lot of good-quality print advertising in the Mercury. I still think he could poll a rather weak primary vote in the large field, but he has a history of doing well on surpluses from other sitting aldermen. Probably he will be re-elected but well down the list.
Ruzicka can also be considered at some risk on the basis of the sharp decline in her primary vote from 2007 to 2011, as a result of lower profile. I believe that as a candidate with a relatively distinct political identity compared to other sitting aldermen she should be advantaged by the smaller quota, but that the probable outcome is she will be re-elected a fair way down the list.
Foley is an unknown quantity as a sitting alderman as this is his first re-election attempt. He is coming off a low base compared to all the other recontesting incumbents, but first-term aldermen tend to build support over that term, and are usually re-elected. He also has a relatively distinct voter base which may assist with the reduced quota.
Cocker is at significant risk on two fronts - firstly the possibility that there won't be enough Green votes for three of them (though I think there should be) and secondly the risk of being bumped off by another Green, probably Reynolds because of her fairly high profile and Denison run (though I also give Andrew some chance if there is a new Green). I do think that Charles, who nearly beat him last time, partly did so because she was the only female Greens aldermanic candidate. This time Greens voters who prefer to vote for female candidates may well vote 1 for Burnet.
Cocker, Foley and perhaps Ruzicka might all face challenges from whichever of the new progressive candidates (Cooper and Hastings being the most prominent thus far - Hastings and Stansfield being seen as unofficial ALP candidates) is most successful during the campaign. Tim Penny was prominent early in the campaign thanks mainly to widespread sign presence but non-submission of a candidate statement on time will damage his chances, although he has purchased print ad space.
With the vacancy left by Freeman's retirement it is to be expected that at least one new candidate from a business background will win. Early frontrunners in public profile terms were Denison and Cong, though Denison hasn't been all that visible in campaigning and her brochure didn't reach my letterbox til 20 Oct, by which time a lot of voters would have voted. Griggs may also poll respectably given his high-profile endorsement.
There is some possibility of Christie polling well over a quota, in which case it's possible one of his running mates, very likely Mao Ding, would be dragged in on preferences. The difficulty with this idea is that tickets are not a very effective way to control preferences and a lot of any Christie surplus will go to sitting aldermen. Mao Ding, however, has substantial sign presence in Asian businesses and could poll a more than token vote in his own right, so I consider him some chance. I will be surprised if any of the other Christie ticket members are elected.
My assessment through the campaign has been that there are enough aldermen at some risk of defeat, and enough new candidates with chances, that even with the retirement of Freeman, it is still fairly likely one or maybe two sitting aldermen will lose. But with the fairly low level of campaign energy after the first week of voting, I am sensing less chance of a more serious turnover.