Sunday, January 27, 2013

LegCo: Pembroke, Nelson and Montgomery Candidates

(Most recent updates:  9 April Nelson ReachTEL comments removed and new link added, 11 April Willink added, 19 April Willink update.)

Legislative Council nominations close noon, 11 April.  Election day is Saturday 4 May. 

The field is set: Apart from the last-day nomination of Hans Willink there were no surprises and the eleven candidates below are all who are contesting.  I will post in detail on my views of the chances of the candidates during the campaign.

Additional articles: I have other articles on the LegCo elections:
Nelson polling
LegCo Spending Limits Create Confusion
The Nelson LegCo Debate (Wilkinson/Richardson/Baxter)
What is an independent liberal? (Liberal Party attacks Willink)

ABC survey: The ABC has surveyed the social-issue views of candidates here.

I also have LegCo related articles about the forestry peace deal, LegCo voting patterns and same-sex marriage.

 Advance summary

1. This article initially discussed the early Legislative Council candidacy announcements of Allison Ritchie (Pembroke, Ind) and Tom Baxter (Nelson, Green), and has since been updated to include all Legislative Council candidates.

2. The Mercury's coverage of Allison Ritchie's past, either following the lead of or coincidentally resembling an error on Wikipedia,  has oversimplified official findings about past nepotism claims against her.  The Auditor-General's report on the matter was actually quite unfavourable.

3. Attempts by the Liberal Party to attack the Labor Party over the Ritchie candidacy are unsurprising but also unconvincing.

4. Tom Baxter is one of the better Legislative Council candidates the Greens have fielded for some time, but the Greens are currently experiencing a slump in polled support that will make it difficult for him to poll a high vote. 

5. While Nelson is probably the more interesting seat, neither challenger is likely to win.

6. The seat of Montgomery is an open seat which at the last state election had a slight lean to Labor and a comparatively low Green vote. The Liberals and various independents are contesting the seat.  There is no clear favorite.

This article will be updated as more candidate news comes to hand.


Over the third weekend in January there were two very different candidate announcements for the May Tasmanian Legislative Council elections.  Former Labor MLC Allison Ritchie announced that she would run as an independent for the seat of Pembroke (held by Liberal Vanessa Goodwin) while corporate governance lecturer Tom Baxter announced that he would be the Greens' challenger to Liberal-leaning independent Jim Wilkinson's 18-year hold on the seat of Nelson.

I've recovered from my initial "words fail me" reaction to the Ritchie candidacy and decided I should write something about it, if only because some very dubious things are being said about the background to this one already.

Pembroke (Incumbent: Vanessa Goodwin (Lib))

Incumbent Profile

Dr Vanessa Goodwin MLC (website) is a former Liberal candidate for Franklin (state, 2006 and federal, 2007).  Goodwin, a criminologist, was fairly nearly elected to the state seat, missing the final seat by 1032 votes.  In the federal election she secured a 3.1% swing against Labor, the highest in the country at that election, following the retirement of long-serving Labor MHR Harry Quick and subsequent Labor preselection problems.  (Goodwin had her own preselection problems with personal-life smearing from hardliners, not too different to that experience by Julia Gillard.)

Goodwin was expected to win a 2010 state seat but in a bold move the Liberals decided instead to run her for the Legislative Council when the seat became vacant following the resignation of Allison Ritchie.  Goodwin performed very well, polling 38.5% of the primary vote in a field of eight, with the preference distribution not even getting to the final two (see Goodwin demolishes Pembroke poll from Tasmanian Times).  Labor's failure to field a candidate, and the feeble performances of two Labor-allied independents, created much embarrassment for the party.

Goodwin has been viewed as a moderate within the Liberal Party and as one perhaps more open to same-sex issues than the party generally.  However hopes that she might support state-based same-sex marriage were dashed, as can be seen in my analysis of that vote here

Ritchie for Pembroke: A Labor Ghost Returns

To go back to the beginning, Allison Ritchie (website) (facebook) was originally one of the success stories of the Bacon-Lennon era of Labor dominance of Tasmanian politics.  She was elected to the Legislative Council in 2001 at the age of 26, the youngest MLC ever elected.  She impressively defeated incumbent Cathy Edwards, then the very high-profile Clarence Mayor, with concern over Edwards holding a mayoralty and a LegCo seat at the same time a factor in Ritchie's 54:46 victory.  After a trouble-free term she was easily re-elected in 2007, polling a so-so 43% of the primary vote in a field of six (the others being mostly low to medium profile local government figures.)

In 2008 Ritchie was promoted to become Minister for Planning and Workplace Relations.  But it was all downhill from there, since only two months later Ritchie resigned the ministry for health reasons.  Worse came in June 2009 when there was a sudden flurry of interest, initially broken by Tasmanian Times, in the staffing arrangements in Ritchie's office.  It was soon revealed that two sisters and a brother-in-law of Ritchie worked for her and that her mother had also done so.  A nepotism-related media storm followed and within a week Ritchie resigned her seat “in the best interests of her ongoing health and out of love and respect for her family”.  (The standard line about resigning to spend more time with one's family would just not have rung true.) 

After the horse had bolted, staffing arrangements and appointment practices involving Ritchie and also all other MPs were investigated by the Auditor-General.  The Mercury article announcing Ritchie's return tilt, by  Philip Heyward (Jan 19 2013) says:

"She had been attacked for hiring family members in her electoral office but Auditor-General Mike Blake found she did not break any rules."

This was then recycled in the Sunday Tasmanian by Matt Smith here.

An extremely similar claim had appeared unchallenged for over a year on the Wikipedia page about Ritchie, from 4 Dec 2011 until I edited it immediately after the publication of Heyward's article:

"Allegations relating to office staffing arrangements were found to be baseless with the Auditor General finding that "Ms Ritchie did not break any rules"".

In fact the Auditor-General's findings relating to Ritchie were far from exonerative and the summary by both the Mercury and the Wikipedian in question (who had the hide to revert my edit without even stating a reason!) is grossly misleading.  For instance, here is the context of the Wikipedia quote above from the Auditor-General's report:

"Prior to December 2007, the Legislative Council had no formal policies and processes regarding recruitment of staff to work in MLC’s electorate offices. So, it follows that in recommending the
recruitment of her mother, Ms Ritchie did not break any rules.

In other words, Ms Ritchie broke no rules not because the claims were baseless, but because there were no rules to break (at least, there were none at the time she didn't break them.) The report immediately goes on to harshly criticise Ritchie as follows:

"However, the recommendation of her mother’s appointment, in the knowledge of a flawed assessment process, was not in accordance with the principles of openness and objectivity outlined in the Code of Conduct.

Similarly, although admitting to a ‘close familial relationship’ under the new Council policy, Ms Ritchie did not explain the nature of that relationship. However, she did take steps to have her mother

Ms Ritchie did not make a discretionary disclosure in her Ordinary Return under the
Parliamentary (Disclosure of Interests) Act 1996 nor did she make a return in accordance with the new policy.

No significant instances of unethical behaviour in the appointment of family members were noted for other MPs.

Even without Ritchie's nepotism baggage (which the electorate should remember to some degree) she would be struggling on account of having quit her seat mid-term and wanting it back.  Voters aren't too keen on this sort of thing, even when supported by completely genuine health reasons.  Even without her past at all, and just as a generic independent with some links to Labor, she'd have a difficult time unseating Goodwin, a first-term high-profile incumbent who has not been involved in any controversies beyond her support for Liberal party policy on same-sex marriage and the forest peace deal.  Voters for the three main parties in Pembroke at the 2010 state poll went 42.5% Liberal, 32.5% Labor, 24.9% Green (bear in mind that Green voters don't strongly preference Labor in Tasmanian state elections).  Though the Labor vote in the electorate containing Pembroke (Franklin) was artificially depressed by candidate factors in 2010 (see Uneven Swing to Liberals article) it's safe to assume the mood in Pembroke is no more supportive of Labor-ish candidates now.  Moreover, Pembroke was far from keen on independents with Labor connections last time around, giving two of them just 19% of the primary vote combined. 

But throw in the historical baggage and Ritchie is clearly damaged goods when it comes to a contest of this nature.  There are at least three reasons that might be advanced as to why she would even bother:

(i) She greatly overestimates her chances.

(ii) She wants to use her candidacy to push issues that she holds strong views about, such as her support for the populist (and I suspect completely ineffective) idea of increased jail sentences for people convicted of sexual offences involving children.

(iii) She is profile-building and seeking to reestablish herself or test the water ahead of a possible run for local government or something else.

Now, I have no actual evidence that (iii) even might be the case, but to show that she might still be competitive as a local government candidate, we need only consider the case of Paula Wriedt, another fallen Labor star of similar vintage.  A cabinet minister for around a decade, Wriedt was admitted to hospital in 2008, apparently after attempting to take her own life.  This followed an affair with a chauffeur that led to the collapse of her marriage.  In early 2009, Wriedt, experiencing prolonged depression, resigned from parliament.  However, in 2011 she ran for Kingborough Council and was elected, topping the aldermanic poll with 19% of the primary vote. 

It's no surprise that the Liberals were rubbing their hands with glee at the announcement that Ritchie would run for Pembroke again - as well they should - but in an item on ABC-TV news, Peter Gutwein claimed Ritchie was not running under the Labor brand because the Labor brand is "toxic".  It's much more likely that the real reason is that Allison Ritchie's past is toxic.   A governing party polling in the twenties and apparently too witless to even turn natural disaster management to its credit doesn't deserve much regard for its strategic nous, but it's hard to believe Labor would be so stupid as to endorse Ritchie even if she sought preselection.

It might also be said that Labor has nothing to lose from Ritchie running as a Labor-ish independent since if Ritchie loses heavily it can be blamed on her past, while if Ritchie gets anywhere near winning it will embarrass the Liberals.  But the other side of that one is that if Ritchie is seen as a quasi-official candidate then it re-links Labor to an era of scandals after a few relatively clean years.  If someone else is built up as a quasi-official Labor candidate instead then that candidate will probably be thrashed and their poor result also used as ammunition against the party.

It should also be noted that Ritchie is not a party member anymore, and that she attacked members of her own party (probably code for "Lin Thorp") on her way out.  It is perhaps also relevant that one of Ritchie's relatives, Cate Clark, contested the 2011 Rumney poll as an independent, against defeated Labor incumbent Lin Thorp (now a Senator), despite a lifelong Labor history.

I expect some pundits to hype this one up as an exciting and close contest and then also scream about the unexpected spectacular landslide if Goodwin easily retains.  In my view, Pembroke is unlikely to be even remotely close and it will be quite surprising if anyone can take the incumbent to a final two-candidate-preferred that is closer than 55:45. 

Sourcewatch has many links relating to the Ritchie nepotism controversy for those forensically inclined.

(N.B. I'm not seeking to argue here that Ritchie shouldn't necessarily even be contesting; choice for voters is good, especially given the history of incumbents winning without serious opposition.  My primary concern here is with the lazy media reporting of the facts surrounding Ritchie and the accompanying attempt to portray this as a more competitive race than it is likely to be.  Ritchie's challenge through the campaign will be to convince voters concerned about her past mistakes that she has learned from them.  It won't be easy.)

Ritchie Update (8 Feb and 14 Mar): Quite aside from being less than comprehensive about the full circumstances of her resignation, Ritchie's website now contains text about the Legislative Council (currently here) that, at the time of viewing, is plagiarised without acknowledgement from a text by Legislative Council President Sue Smith here.  Oh and this page is also partly lifted from here. I think the latter lifting is within the terms of the Copyright Notice, but I believe candidates should acknowledge when work that appears on their website is not their own.

Candidate added (14 Mar): Wendy Heatley (website) has been announced as the Green candidate for Pembroke.  Heatley finished a surprising but very distant second on primaries in this seat in the 2009 by-election, with 12.85% to Vanessa Goodwin's 38.55%, which became third after the distribution of preferences (Goodwin (Lib) 51%, James (Ind) 27.8%, Heatley (Grn) 21.2%).  The Greens' primary vote in that case was about to be expected, and Heatley's second place was more of an indictment on the terrible results of Labor-ish independents Honey Bacon and James Crotty than anything else. 

Heatley (bio, Facebook) is considered moderate and has contested several elections for the Greens with middling to in cases very good results.  A notable result was in the 2010 state election for the seat of Franklin, in which she not only outpolled the endorsed #2 candidate Adam Burling, but also came within 155 votes of finishing ahead of him on preferences.  In the 2010 federal election, also for the seat of Franklin, she polled 20.9%, a 6.1% swing to the party, which was their best swing in Tasmania and far above their statewide Senate swing of 2.1%.  (That said, there were complicating factors - Andrew Wilkie and the decline of the pulp mill issue - dampening if not negating the swing to the Greens, at least in the Lower House, in some of the other electorates).

 While there is, in theory, up to a quarter of the vote available to the Greens in Pembroke, in practice the Legislative Council vote is not naturally as high as the state vote, and their vote is often vulnerable to being soaked up by local-government independents of the sort who frequently contest this seat in numbers.  Thus we will have to wait to see the final field to see if there is any potential for the Green vote in this seat to increase.  The performance of the Greens compared to Ritchie will be of interest at the poll. 

An amusing point about Green candidates often not living in their electorates has been made by Clarence alderman James Walker (@jwalkerclarence) on Twitter.  The Greens have recently run Penelope Ann for two Legislative Council tilts for electorates she doesn't live in, including the one that Heatley does live in.  Now they are running Heatley for the electorate she doesn't live in but Ann does.  (I am assuming neither has recently moved house!)

ReachTEL in the field (20 Mar): From Twitter:

Just got polled by Reachtel re: voting intentions for pembroke - interest questions re IGA and same sex marriage #politas

It remains to be seen if this is a commissioned poll or not and whether its results will be released. Legislative Council polling is very rare.

Nelson (Incumbent: Jim Wilkinson (Ind))

Incumbent Profile

Jim Wilkinson MLC (website) is the longest-serving current member of the Legislative Council.  Wilkinson, a solicitor and former sporting figure, broadcaster and administrator, was first elected in 1995 polling a third of the primary vote in a field of nine.  The preference distribution made it to the final two but Wilkinson defeated Jane Goodluck with 58.6% two-candidate preferred. 

In 2001 Wilkinson fell just short of a majority in a field of four with 49% of the primary vote to 25.1% for then Hobart Deputy Mayor Pru Bonham and 18% for the Greens' Trish Moran.  Green preferences flowed to Bonham 68:32 and in the end Wilkinson finished with 58.3% two-candidate preferred.

In 2007 Wilkinson faced only the Greens' Tom Nilsson and won 62:38 without making that much of an effort.

Wilkinson realises this isn't going to be quite as easy as last time, hence the new website.  His Liberal leanings would have become much clearer to the public through his stances on the forest peace deal and same-sex marriage, although his stated position on the latter was among the most moderate of those who voted against the bill.  He probably won't be getting a lot of "progressive" votes this time around. 

Greens Make Nelson Interesting

After the Ritchie return, the candidacy announced the following day was in my view refreshing.  The Greens have a rather pathetic candidate choice record in recent LegCo elections, having often (but not always) done themselves no favours by picking party hacks or weak candidates for token attempts at even their more promising electorates.  Last year they even managed to breach the Electoral Act, while the year before that they didn't even make it to the starting line in Launceston.  So the announcement of Tom Baxter (Facebook, Twitter) as the Greens' candidate for Nelson was a pleasant surprise.

I may be a little biased on this one as I know the candidate personally.  He was a good high-school friend and a very strong junior chessplayer, playing the board above me in the Friends' outfits that perennially finished second to the outrageously-permitted "St Maryvirgils" cartel, and in the so-called "juniors" team that won the 1988 Hobart Interclub.  But I don't think it's that bias speaking when I say that the Greens have picked a candidate who is intelligent, articulate, energetic and a good public speaker.  They've also picked someone who is well matched against the incumbent lawyer (being himself a former lawyer, a current corporate governance lecturer and a PhD student on forestry law) and someone who is likely to be a vigorous opponent for Wilkinson in any debates.

He's also moderate and cautious enough that he probably won't be easily written off as radical.  He has a reasonable profile, having been quite often interviewed on various issues as an "expert" commentator, and is probably best known in public debate for his critiques of the Pulp Mill process (example here).  Some would even say too-often interviewed (a common critique, which I sympathise with, is that the Tasmanian media too often sources expert comment from a predictable circle of "go-to" academics and intellectuals, virtually all of whose views are congenial to green/left positions.)  There have already been a few comments from people pleased to see him flying party colours for this reason.

Could Baxter actually win?  I very greatly doubt it.  Nelson used to be almost as pro-Green as adjacent Hobart, but the 2008 redistribution removed some very Green areas around South Hobart/Cascades, and replaced them with Maranoa Heights, where the Green vote is well below average.  In the 2010 state election, out of the serious contenders, the Liberals polled 41.8% in booths within the new Nelson, the Greens 28.5%, Labor 21.7% and Andrew Wilkie (who contested only the Denison part of the electorate) 7.9%.  Wilkie was taking most of his votes that time from the Liberals and Greens so something like 45% Liberal, 32% Green, 23% Labor might be a fair three-party read of the 2010 Lower House result.

Even with some favours from Labor preferences it would still therefore be a great upset for a Green to knock off an independent supported by Liberals in this seat.  Throw in the Greens' tendency to underperform in upper house polls irrespective of candidate quality (except where they are the only real opposition), and the preference of some voters for independents in the Upper House, and it becomes more difficult still.  The biggest problem though is that the Greens generally are experiencing a downturn in voter support at state level from their 2010 high.  Labor has the same problem, meaning that at the moment Nelson is a solidly Liberal electorate.

Matt Smith in his piece refers to another possible candidate:

"A very strong candidate, yet to be formally announced, with strong Labor ties is in the mix.
Running on a platform of same-sex marriage the local mother will garner votes from Labor supporters while the public generally will like what she stands for."

I don't really know who this insider riddling is about but even assuming they are a strong candidate (and not, say, Madeleine Ogilvie), "strong Labor ties" are not much advantage in an electorate where said party no longer gets a quarter of the vote.  While I've thought about the idea that Wilkinson might be bumped off by a deliberate two-candidate strategy in which the candidate who comes third attacks him constantly and their supporters strongly preference another candidate, it's isn't easy.  Wilkinson may have been forced off the political fence, and may be a bit vulnerable because of long incumbency, a fairly low profile and not being a full-time member, but he is very well connected in the seat and has probably judged its current political mood pretty well.   It could even be a challenge for any independent addition to the race to even get over the Greens into second, although if that's the case it's probably because Wilkinson is winning much too easily anyway.

I'll be back with more on these seats as more candidates are announced or there are more developments worth updating.  Short updates may be added to this post.  Note that an announcement appears on my Twitter feed ( whenever an article is significantly updated.

Insignificant Update (28 Jan): The usual sparring between the major parties here.

Update (14 Feb):  Helen Richardson (website) was described as a "possible candidate" on ABC News tonight.  Richardson (facebook showing multiple Labor connections) ticks all the factual boxes for being the prospective candidate described by Matt Smith above (I'll reserve judgement on Smith's rave review for now).  Richardson, described as a "middle-class, middle-aged heterosexual mum", has been the organiser of recent pro-same-sex marriage events (including one today, at which Jim Wilkinson was observed eating part of the cake!).  Richardson is also a former teacher, and Southern Organiser for the Australian Education Union, and co-runs a motorcycle tourism business.

Candidate Confirmed (23 Feb): ABC-TV state political reporter Brad Markham has tweeted that Helen Richardson (see above) is a confirmed candidate and will run as an "Independent".

Nelson ReachTEL comments removed - mainstream reporting was inaccurate because of errors in polling tables.  For a full report on the Nelson ReachTEL go to Nelson LegCo Polling.

Willink Added (12 April): Hans Willink announced on the day nominations closed that he is a candidate.  Willink is a "former Liberal candidate and branch president" and "former army bomb disposal officer" (and also former police officer, public servant and HEC worker) who states he will stand on a socially progressive (on same-sex marriage and euthanasia) but fiscally conservative background.  Liberal staffer Brad Stansfield has stated that Willink is not a current member of, or supported by, the party.  Willink contested Denison for the Liberals in the 1996 state election but polled second-last of all candidates with a feeble 207 votes.  He also contested Clarence at the 2011 council elections polling 297 votes, and in 2009 polling 283 votes.   While it may appear on paper that a candidacy of this sort is a bomb for Wilkinson to dispose of, past evidence suggests it is a very small one.

Additional info (19 April):  The mysterious fourth candidate Hans Willink (linkedin, Facebook) is pursuing a small-letter "independent liberal" campaign, mirroring the self-description used by Tony Mulder MLC in his successful Rumney tilt.  Willink received a favourable interview in a column by Greg Barns, who holds many similar small-l liberal/libertarian values.  Evidence of the high Andrew Wilkie vote in strong Liberal booths in recent electorates suggests there are plenty of "Turnbull Libs" in the northern end of Nelson whose political values are likely to be closer to Willink's than to any of the other candidates.  Furthermore although currently living outside the electorate (and according to the Mercury's profile returning to it) he has lived there in the past.  However it will be a challenge for him to obtain sufficient profile to convert this into a sizeable vote from a standing start in a relatively short campaign. 

Montgomery (Incumbent Retiring)

Sue Smith, incumbent Legislative Council President, has announced she will retire creating an open contest for Montgomery.

Candidate added (31 Jan): Cheryl Fuller, Deputy Mayor of Central Coast (website, twitter) is the first announced independent candidate for Montgomery.   Fuller's electoral form guide is brief but rather good - she was elected to Central Coast council in 2007, polling third on the councillor ballot ahead of several incumbents.  In 2011 she topped the poll with 20% of the councillor ballot in a field of 10, and was elected to the vacant deputy mayoralty with a 55:45 two-candidate-preferred result in a field of three.

Fuller claims to be "somewhere in the middle" politically and unconnected to any political party. 

With no incumbent, I will be waiting until there have been several more candidate announcements before making any assessments of Montgomery.  The seat includes the Central Coast council areas of Ulverstone and Penguin, and also most of Burnie.  At the 2010 state election the Central Coast booths overall leant to the Liberals while the larger Burnie booths were pro-Labor (most notably the Acton booth, where the party polled a massive 64%).  The seat overall returned state figures of 44.5% Labor, 41.6% Liberal and 13.8% Green.  Of course, it would not be expected to be that Labor-friendly at the moment.

Candidate added (5 Feb): The Liberal Party has endorsed Leonie Hiscutt, President of the Central Coast Chamber of Commerce, as its candidate for Montgomery, as announced by a rather windblown Will Hodgman in a rushed-looking video on youtube here. Hiscutt is a local farming/tourism operator who runs luxury rural accommodation.  It is, historically, rare for the Liberal Party to endorse candidates for the Legislative Council, with Vanessa Goodwin's successful run for Pembroke in 2009 being the first since two unsuccessful runs in 2000.

Hiscutt contested Braddon at the 2010 state election polling a solid tally of 2715 votes, or 9.4% of the total Liberal vote.  Naturally Hiscutt's share of the Liberal vote was high around her own area, including many of the Montgomery booths - 27% at Penguin, 33% at Sulphur Creek, and generally around 10-16% in the Burnie booths (but less strong in Ulverstone).   Hiscutt reported spending $20,000 on this campaign (her running close to big-spending eventual winner Adam Brooks early in the count was probably because she polled well in some small rural booths, which report quickly.)

The Hiscutt name is very well established in LegCo electoral tradition in this area.  Hugh Hiscutt represented the now-abolished seat of West Devon from 1983-1995, and was followed by his brother Des from 1995 until the abolition of the division in 1999.  The boundaries of West Devon were essentially the present Montgomery, minus Ulverstone and plus Cooee.  So there would be many voters in the current Montgomery who have been represented by a Hiscutt in the past.  The Hiscutts were notionally independent, but I suspect a full analysis would show them to have been to the right of the Liberal Party (eg Des Hiscutt voted alongside homophobes Brookes, Shaw and Schulze all the way during the 1997 gay law reform debate.) I am unsure of Leonie Hiscutt's relation to the area's former MLCs but name recognition may well prove an advantage here.

Update 15 Mar: Hiscutt candidacy facebook page is now here.

Update (1 Mar):  The Examiner's online live chat "The Grill" interviewed Cheryl Fuller and Leonie Hiscutt this week.  The live chat shows that the two candidates differ on the two most prominent issues to hit the Legislative Council in recent times, with Fuller supporting state-based same-sex marriage and the forest peace deal and Hiscutt opposed to both.  Fuller's support for the forest peace deal comes with an expression of support for the Legislative Council's decision to defer a vote on it late last year. On the upcoming issue of euthanasia legislation, Fuller's comments indicate in-principle support (depending on the exact legislation) while Hiscutt's indicate likely opposition (ditto).  On the whole Hiscutt's responses are stock-standard Liberal party line material while Fuller, if elected, could be left-leaning (a la Ruth Forrest, perhaps) by the conservative standards of the current Legislative Council (again, see here for more details of LegCo voting patterns.)

On the matter of possible candidates, Fuller mentions that another female candidate may contest, but there are no further details at this stage. Update 22 March: I again heard today from a knowledgeable source that a fourth candidate announcement is expected.

Candidate added (15 Mar):  Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association chief executive Ed Vincent, of Burnie, (website) has been announced as an independent candidate for Montgomery.  The Advocate reports that Vincent was briefly a member of the Liberal Party but quit over differences over forest policy.  Vincent's campaign focus is on regional development including decentralisation of the Tasmanian public service, which he believes to be too Hobart-centred.  Vincent was involved in the Tasmanian forests peace deal process, as the representative of the TFCA, a signatory to the agreement.  A report here suggests his TFCA position is "drawing to a close". 

Vincent's website boasts a wide range of community and industry connections.  My initial impression is that Vincent will be a competitive candidate.  In particular, while he will compete for a lot of the same "pro-development" vote sought by Hiscutt, he may have some advantage in doing so through not being a party candidate.   (Splitting the vote is not a major issue in Legislative Council elections, because voters are required to vote at least 1-3).

Update 22 Mar: Hiscutt's Facebook page (which was previously uncontentious apart from one anti-abortion-ish post and frequently terrible spelling) has now sought to differentiate her from Vincent by claiming that both he and Fuller support the forestry peace deal, which she characterises as "using $270 million of taxpayers’ money to shut [the forest sector] down".  

Candidate added (23 Mar): The Advocate announces that Kevin Morgan (Linkedin), who it describes as "a former government adviser with an entrepreneurial approach" has joined the fray.  Morgan is described as an ex-ALP member (how long ago is not stated) who quit his government job to stand.  Morgan describes his life-experience as including being:

"a blue- collar worker, with an engineering trade and experience across industry from industrial to power generation, to entrepreneur running my own businesses in service and manufacturing, exporter, farmer and bureaucrat".

Now, that sounds great but I was much intrigued by this section of the article:

'He said his leadership approach was based on the idea that individual development enhanced community capacity.

"The acquisition of new skills also enhances effectiveness in addressing issues affecting their communities.
"It should also strengthen the community's capacity to identify opportunities and address crises in innovative ways.'

My first thought was that this sort of writing was the sort of bureaucratic waffle-speak that some candidates, usually with public service backgrounds, employ that typically just makes voters go "huh"?  So I googled it and found the following at this Wikipedia page:

"The leadership approach is based on a premise that individual development enhances community capacity. This is accomplished through training that equips people with the tools and understanding of the decision making process and allows their views to be expressed and incorporated into future development and planning. The acquisition of new skills also enhances effectiveness in addressing issues affecting their communities. It should also strengthen the community's capacity to identify opportunities and address crises in innovative ways.[1]"

[1] is this PDF.  The text in question was added to the Wikipedia page by user Pkravchencko, copied verbatim from the PDF.  

I don't know whether Morgan got the quote from Wikipedia or the original source, and not having seen the Advocate's press release I can't say whether he attributed it correctly.  But candidates for election should be able to present themselves more originally to the media than by quoting large chunks of material written by someone else, even if correctly attributed.  And really, even if quoting someone else is a good idea then quoting this sort of jargon does you no favours anyhow.  So in my view this is not a good start.

Online information clearly about this Kevin Morgan as opposed to others of the same surprisingly common name (such as the well known Hobart chemist or the mayor of Cottesloe, WA) was a bit thin on the ground at a quick search and I will have another go later and post a website link should one emerge. (Update: Morgan is now on Twitter.)


  1. The Mercury talks about Tom as "a well credentialled corporate governance expert". Can't see anything in his CV about ever being an in-house corporate counsel or serving as a company secretary - basic pre-requisites in establishing credentials in this field - I would have thought ?

  2. Thanks Kevin for your insightful, objective analysis.

    In answer to Tycho Scania:-
    I’ve worked as lawyer with:
    1 Dobson, Mitchell & Allport, Hobart (Sept 1997 - Dec 1999); then
    2 an Australian Government statutory authority, in-house (Jan 2000 - May 2003), including advising its senior management team on governance issues.
    Then 3 as a lecturer in the UTAS School of Accounting & Corporate Governance (since June 2003).

    I’m a Fellow of:
    • Chartered Secretaries Australia; and
    • the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators,
    respectively the Australian and international professional bodies for company secretaries and other corporate governance professionals.

    I’ve served on various voluntary boards and management committees.

    My undergrad degrees are BEc/LLB(Hons)(Tas). My Master of Laws (ANU) was obtained at ANU’s highest level (with Distinction), while working full-time.

    It was the Mercury’s choice of words, but not, imho, unsupported. Other info at

    Regards, Tom


The comment system is unreliable. If you cannot submit comments you can email me a comment (via email link in profile) - email must be entitled: Comment for publication, followed by the name of the article you wish to comment on. Comments are accepted in full or not at all. Comments will be published under the name the email is sent from unless an alias is clearly requested and stated. If you submit a comment which is not accepted within a few days you can also email me and I will check if it has been received.