Monday, February 11, 2019

Adam Brooks' Resignation And Replacement

A very quick post to cover off on the mechanics of the countback to replace Adam Brooks, who has resigned as a Liberal Member for Braddon, effective tomorrow.  There has been speculation Brooks might resign soon for months, so I've already looked at the numbers for this in the past.

In Hare-Clark, casual vacancies are filled by what is confusingly called a recount (I often call it "countback") of the votes the sitting MP had when they were elected.  If the sitting MP had more than a quota at the time of their election, the last parcel of votes they received is modified in value to bring them down to a quota.  If they had less than a quota, the preferences of the last losing candidate(s) can be thrown to attempt to bring them to quota.

Whether an unsuccessful candidate got close to being elected the first time around or not is irrelevant to this process.  All that matters are the votes (including preferences) held by the resigning member.  Thus, for instance, if Rosalie Woodruff were to resign in Franklin, she would be replaced by another Green, and not by Nic Street who she very narrowly defeated for the final seat.

Adam Brooks was originally elected after polling 10004 primary votes (the quota was 10718) and receiving enough votes on Jeremy Rockliff's surplus to cross the line.  The 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks votes (2635 of them) will make up the remaining 714 votes for the recount.

The original scrutiny sheet tell us which unsuccessful candidate about 426 of those 714 votes will go to, if all unsuccessful candidates recontested.  Joan Rylah would get 61%, Felix Ellis would get 30% and no other candidate would get more than 2% by themselves.  (If no candidate gets 50% of the initial votes in a recount, then there is a distribution of preferences as in a single-seat election, but I'm not expecting that to be the case here).

The original scrutiny sheet doesn't contain any direct information on where the remaining 10292 votes go (these are mostly 1 Brooks with a few 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks 3 Jaensch, Dow or Broad).  Party scrutineers may have this information.  However we do know that not only did Rylah outperform Ellis by about two to one on the known 1 Rockliff 2 Brooks votes, but also that Rylah outperformed Ellis 3436-1842 on primaries, 1196-523 on Rockliff preferences, and 675-470 on the preferences of all remaining candidates.  Based on this it would be a massive surprise if Ellis outperformed Rylah on the preferences of Adam Brooks.  Rylah as a sitting MP was simply the much higher profile candidate.

Had Rylah not nominated for the recount but Ellis had, Ellis would have won.  Had neither recontested, he government would have had the never-used option of requesting a single-member by-election rather than allowing their seat to go to another party.  (I do hope I live to see one of those someday!)

This doesn't look like being an interesting recount but I just thought I should put the details of how it works out there anyway.  And one note of interest - if Rylah resumes her career, the Tasmanian parliament will have a majority of female MPs, with 14/25 in the House of Assembly and 7/15 in the Legislative Council, at least until May.  In May, one male MLC is retiring and two female MLCs are defending their seats.

Update Feb 25: The recount is on today.  I expect the winner to be known by the end of the day unless it is unexpectedly close between Rylah and Ellis.  Ellis had to resign his job with Senator Colbeck to contest the vacancy, but I expect this is a temporary Commonwealth requirement and he can be reappointed.

Update: Rylah wins with 53.6% to 37.2%.  We now have another recount coming following the shock resignation of Rene Hidding; this will be won by John Tucker assuming he contests.

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