Saturday, May 7, 2016

Legislative Council 2016: Apsley and Elwick Live and Post-Count

Apsley: CALLED (c. 7 pm) - Rattray (IND) has retained
Elwick: CALLED (c. 8 pm) - Willie (ALP) has defeated incumbent Taylor (IND). 


Sunday 8:11 pm: We have a preference throw in Elwick with preferences splitting 53.3:46.7 to Willie, which makes the current result almost the same (53.16% to Willie).  It will change by fractions of a point but there are not nearly enough votes left for Taylor to have any mathematical chance.  In Apsley Rattray is 20 votes short of an absolute majority.  A provisional preference throw shows her gaining 36.8% of Green preferences (wow) to Clark's 35.9% and Hall's 27.3%.  Then with Hall excluded, his votes go 68.9% to Rattray giving her a 67.3% 2PP over Labor if we ignore the few undistributed votes. 

Sunday 12:20 pm: Apologies again for the random spread of fonts and colours in this piece.  I like to have a bit of colour at the top on LegCo nights but the software has a mind of its own.

 Anyway, one key topic of discussion in the Elwick wash-up has been Taylor's claim that she could not compete with the efforts of the ALP "party machine".  Here's a dose of historical perspective on that one: since 1980 only three independent LegCo incumbents had previously lost to endorsed party candidates: Jean Moore to Labor's Doug Parkinson in 1994, Stephen Wilson to Labor's Lin Thorp in 1999, Cathy Edwards to Labor's Allison Ritchie in 2001.   There have been cases in which major parties have thrown the kitchen sink at incumbents who have thrashed them (the Liberals' heavy loss to Kerry Finch being an obvious case in point).  What has happened here is a rather rare event and no reason yet for concern about parties overrunning the Upper House (in which endorsed party MLCs now hold four of 15 seats).

Taylor decided to keep working rather than campaigning as actively as Willie, but plenty of incumbents have made the same call and been returned before.  It is hard to avoid suspecting that in the meantime she did not enough to shore up her community support base - or too much that alienated it.

10:22 pm: The TEC have confirmed that preferences will be notionally distributed tomorrow.  I expect this to result in both results being declared tomorrow afternoon, though with Rattray currently 15 votes short of an outright majority we could get the amusing situation in which she wins on preferences only to eventually not need them anyway.

9:15 Wrap: A Refreshing Result

With counting done for the night in one seat and almost in the other, we have a predictable and predicted result in Apsley but a refreshing surprise in Elwick.  Josh Willie is the youngest new MLC since Allison Ritchie in 2001 (actually depending on his exact date of birth we might have to go back a lot further) and a primary-school teacher with no profile to speak of and a distinct lack of political experience has somehow knocked off one of those MLC super-mayors who are usually elected for life.  He's been assisted by a massive party machine effort and by taking six weeks leave without pay to doorknock ten thousand houses, but hard work hasn't always been enough at this level before.  I did not think Willie would get closer than about 48:52 let alone win, though he couldn't be written off given the strength of the Labor vote in the area.  After such a string of easy retains by sitting MLCs from 2004 on (disrupted only by Lin Thorp's expected but still rather narrow loss), this result is very refreshing.  It shows that young candidates can still compete and that incumbents do not have to do everything under the sun wrong to lose. 

It's easy enough to find factors that can be used to explain this win after the event, but many of these were well-known before the election and some had been present in previous LegCo elections without anything much happening.  Here's a list:

* Taylor's age
* Taylor's comments on social issues
* Politicians' pay increase debate
* Bus timetable changes
* ALP campaign effort
* General friendly issues mix for state ALP 

To take the first two, yes Taylor is 69 and yes she's said some idiosyncratic things from time to time, but the same could be said of Ivan Dean, who retained office at 70 last year with a small swing to him.  Is the "time to retire" factor judged differently for women?  The pay increase debate seems to have had no impact in Apsley though that electorate has had its own economic struggles.  

Phil Bayley on Twitter has raised the interesting suggestion that Taylor's community profile as an incumbent MLC could have actually been lower than when she was a recent ex-Mayor (such is the general ignorance of the Legislative Council).  I hadn't thought of that!

With Willie's win Labor goes from one to two seats in the Council (the same number in a formal sense as the Liberals) and the LegCo left goes from five seats to six.  This will make things tougher for the Hodgman Government which will now need all eight remaining MLCs to vote for any big-picture bills that the left-wing six oppose.  It should also be a reassuring outcome for the Opposition Leader, Bryan Green.

As for Apsley this is an extremely convincing win by the incumbent Tania Rattray, but no great surprise since Hall lacked the profile and the others lacked the politics to have a hope against her.  There's nothing much to see there for Labor or the Greens with slight swings against both from the dire state election results, albeit against independents rather than mainly Liberals.  

Next year we have Ruth Forrest (left-leaning independent) up in Murchison, "independent Liberal" contrarian Tony Mulder in Rumney and centrist independent Rosemary Armitage in Launceston.  The last two are first-termers while Forrest was returned unopposed in 2011.  While none are in strong Labor areas, after tonight they'll know incumbents can't take re-election for granted.

Thanks all for your interest; I will have more updates in coming days.

============================================================== 9:30 pm: I've heard of scrutineering samples with a 57% flow of Green preferences to Labor - no precise details but entirely plausible.  That would push Willie up to nearly 54% 2PP (a swing of nearly 10%),

9:20 pm: Prepolls added in Elwick and Taylor would now need 74% of Green preferences to win.  The margin's coming down on these late votes but there are not enough to come with 77% of enrolled voters counted (and these elections always fall well short of 100%).

9:00 pm:  Rattray gains on prepolls and is now a handful of votes short of an outright majority.

8:17 pm: Labor rubbing it in now by winning the on-the-night count of Elwick postals.  So if anyone thought postals might save Taylor, well, um, no.

8:12 pm: All regular Elwick booths are in now.  On current primaries Taylor would need 77% of Green preferences and that certainly won't be happening.

8:00 pm: I'm having a colour problem here, I can't stop the software from changing the text below the dotted line to purple!  Anyway, all the regular booths are in in Apsley with Rattray on 48.9% so it's still touch and go if she gets to 50 or if we get to see some Green preferences.  This irrelevant point may not be resolved until the postals trickle in over the coming several days.  For Elwick I suspect there will be a preference throw tomorrow afternoon, though I haven't heard this for sure yet. 

7:46 pm: A more competitive performance in the Merton booth for Taylor has knocked a point off Willie's projected margin but there still seems little room for doubt that he has won this.

7:39 pm: A flurry of Elwick booths are in and I'm just processing these to see if I feel like calling it!

7:32 pm: Almost every Apsley booth is in and Rattray hovers below 50% but still has one super-strong booth plus postals to go.  The margin from Clark to Hall has dropped down to 4% after Hall won Oatlands (though by less than I thought he might).  

7:25 pm: Labor said their man Willie was a star of the future, looks like he's a star of the present! Massive double-digit swings in both Lutana and Windermere put him in an extremely strong position.  My projection's gone to 54 now, throw in a point for the likely shift in Greens preferences.  Greens voters tend to be young and a young Labor candidate should appeal to them if nothing else, but there is plenty else.

7:16 pm:  More trouble for Taylor in Elwick as Willie picks up a 9% swing in the Moonah booth, which he wins though it is far from the electorate's reddest. Willie now projecting to 51.7 after preferences (see note below).

7:13 pm: My projection still says Rattray will get back above 50% and not even be taken to preferences (and it can't even consider postals because it is coming off the state election result.) There are a number of large north-eastern booths remaining which will favour Rattray.  However the likely strong performance for Hall in Oatlands could still derail it.

7:06 pm: I've been holding off calling Apsley because of the funny local patterns but 30% is counted now and Rattray hasn't fallen far below 50%.  She may be taken to preferences but even if so will win easily.

7:03 pm: We have another booth in in Elwick - Rosetta, one of the less ALP-friendly booths.  Again though a swing to Willie of about 5%.  After three booths Willie is projecting to 51.3% after preferences assuming the flow from the Greens is as weak as 2010.  It probably won't be, so Taylor is still in difficulty.

7:00 pm: Rattray's lead has been dropping and she has now fallen below 50% but on current numbers will not have any trouble winning after preferences.  Clark has won another two booths - Kempton in the southern midlands to go with the win in Colebrook, and also Ross in the northern midlands (which is surprising).

6:52 pm: A huge swing from Taylor to Willie in the Goodwood booth (13.4% off Taylor, Willie gains 12.1%).  Is the upset really on now?  It could be!

6:50 pm: Clark has had a big win in Triabunna (where he grew up) while the Greens appear to have scored zero votes in Levendale!

6:44 pm: A third booth winner in Apsley with Brett Hall taking Parattah which is very near his home base.  Rattray third there but my projection still puts her over 50% at the end of the night.  The interesting question there is whether Brett Hall can get into second.

6:40 pm:  Josh Willie has won the Agfest booth! I wouldn't think that would be especially Labor friendly though there's no match from 2010.  It's only a small sample but this could be an exciting count in Elwick.

6:37 pm: A Labor booth win in Apsley, they've won Colebrook.  However Rattray is still leading on primaries by 38 points and my projection says little will change.  Rattray is just way too strong in the north-eastern booths and can afford narrow defeats elsewhere.

6:34 pm: My projection has Rattray increasing her lead from here though the two NE booths in which she has been super-strong might be skewing things a little.

6:31 pm: Collinsvale in Elwick in and we have a 4% swing against Adriana Taylor on primaries.  An interesting night awaits if this is representative. Bear in mind that a swing of this size on primaries accompanied by a swing on preferences might conceivably cause her to lose the seat.  However it's only one booth and a "different" one at that.

6:27 pm: A bunch of booths in and Rattray down to a more pedestrian 51%.  Just entering them in spreadsheet for a new projection soon.

6:19 pm: A massive start for Rattray with a 79% score in the small Gladstone booth, up 18% on the Liberal vote in 2014!  Rattray may be stronger in the NE than other parts of the electorate because of her former Dorset local government base so let's not call it just yet, despite the temptation!

6:10 pm: For those following booths for Elwick there are a few name changes since 2010.  I believe Moonah East is the former Bowen Road and Merton is the former Tolosa.  Also a few booths (Elwick, Cosgrove and Montrose) don't seem to be on the list this time around.  In Apsley compared to the state election we've added Broadmarsh and Targa and lost Pontville and Pipers River.  In these cases the new booths are very close to the old ones.

6:01 pm: Polls have closed.  For TEC live figures see Apsley and Elwick.  Nothing to see there yet.

Opening Post (8am): Welcome to today's live coverage of today's two Tasmanian Legislative Council elections.  The  menu includes the working-class Glenorchy seat of Elwick, held by independent Adriana Taylor.  Labor's Josh Willie needs a 6.1% swing to unseat her.  We also have the rural seat of Apsley, for which no margin applies since Tania Rattray was re-elected unopposed in 2010.  

My preview for both electorates can be seen here and if you're curious about the leanings of the incumbents there's a piece on voting patterns for those who really like the mathsy stuff. 

The polls in both seats are open until 6 pm.  Live comments should appear as soon as the first figures come through (probably around 6:30) and counting for the night should be done by around 9 pm.  Should either seat go to preferences, news on that will be posted over subsequent days as time permits - bearing in mind that I have fieldwork commitments during business hours from Monday on.  Cutups are often done on Sunday afternoon if the exclusion orders are clear.  

Once the count starts, refresh as often as you like for the latest comments, which will scroll up from above this post.  When I believe a candidate will definitely win, the magic word "CALLED" will appear at the top of the screen for that seat.

It would be a massive upset if Rattray lost, and I think she'll win by at least ten points two-candidate preferred (55%+), assuming that it even gets that far.  Elwick is somewhat less clearcut but I also expect Taylor to be returned, with a margin that could be anything from bigger than last time to close-ish.  So the mid-range is probably something like 55:45 (though if there is much of a swing to her we won't see a two-candidate count). As usual, there has been no polling for either seat.

The elections have been overshadowed by the looming federal campaign and I especially noticed that there were nowhere near as many signs on the Brooker through Elwick as last time.  I also noticed that when given the opportunity to present a convincing case for why the incumbent should be removed (in the debates on Leon Compton's ABC mornings program in the last week) neither Labor challenger could really do so.

Labor would be hoping to at least gain a few points of primary vote on their 2014 state result in Apsley (23.8%) while in Elwick they would be hoping for a smaller margin than in 2010.  It's hard to expect too much for the Greens in either case, since these are weak electorates for the party which has not even run candidates who live in them, but anything above 13% in either seat would be some sign they are rebuilding, while anything below 9% would be "why bother?" territory. 

Some notes on booth-matching: for Elwick we have the same lineup (Taylor, Labor, Green) as in 2010 so that's all more or less straightforward.  Apsley is trickier though as there was no contest in 2010 and the 2004 contest is no use as a model.  I'll be modelling the Labor and Green primaries off the 2014 state election.  I'll be modelling the Rattray vote off the Liberal vote and the Hall vote off the vote for Others.  This will be a bit shaky early on since if Hall gets any vote to speak of, his share could vary greatly around the electorate.  Note also that there are new prepoll booths.

In 2014 Taylor got 54.7% of Green preferences, but her track record on social issues may make it harder to keep that flow up this time.  All the same preferences usually don't flow strongly in these things.  Should Rattray and Clark be the final two in Apsley I'd expect Hall's preferences to favour Rattray and Houghton's to favour Clark, but maybe not all that strongly in either case.


  1. So pleased with the result in Elwick and why would any progressive Green voter preference Ms. Taylor?

    1. If Taylor does get 43% of Greens preferences that is more than she deserves after her form on same-sex marriage and other "social issues".

  2. Can Labor draw any comfort from this for the federal election? Either in Denison or statewide?

    1. Maybe some in terms of coming back at Wilkie but still his margin is enormous. Statewide I think not; not much to see for them in Apsley.

  3. Are not the Hobart suburbs which are in Lyons socially fairly similar to the northern part of Denison?

  4. That's a good point. Parts of Lyons such as Brighton and Bridgewater are broadly similar to (and close to) parts of Elwick.

    One scenario in which Labor retakes Lyons is that they get a solid swing back in these southern suburbs that the incumbent can't cover in the rest of the electorate. Still, I don't think we know that any significant number of those switching from Taylor to Willie were Liberal voters at federal level.


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