Saturday, May 6, 2017

Legislative Council 2017: Launceston, Murchison and Rumney live

Launceston: Armitage (IND) has retained, narrowly defeating Ellis (IND)
Murchison: CALLED (6:53 pm) Ruth Forrest (Ind) re-elected.
Rumney: Lovell (ALP) defeats Mulder (Ind) after preferences



Welcome to my thread for tonight's Legislative Council action, where three independents of various political persuasions will attempt to hold their positions against some high profile and/or party-endorsed challengers.  The Legislative Council is finely balanced (here's the maths) and if things go badly for the Hodgman Government tonight then it could be facing trouble upstairs lasting years.  You can see my previews here:  Rumney, Murchison, Launceston.

Comments will follow below the dotted line, scrolling from the earliest upwards. All the seats will be covered together.  I'm leaving some text here at the top in a probably vain attempt to prevent a repeat of last year's purple text fiasco.

Post-Counts and Preference Distributions

The balance of power: After tonight, the situation in the Legislative Council is as follows:

The ALP holds three seats.  The Liberals hold two, though one of those (Pembroke) is held by Vanessa Goodwin who is expected to resign in the near future, causing a by-election, in extremely sad circumstances.  Independents hold the other ten, but four of those independents are generally left-wing, and the President, Jim Wilkinson, doesn't vote expect to break ties.  By precedent, he has thus far voted to preserve the status quo or continue the discussion when votes are tied - a precedent which might now be a subject of debate.

This means that on the classic left-vs-right stoushes, such as anti-discrimination laws and Guy Barnett's forestry proposal, the left currently has a blocking majority and Government legislation can be blocked.  So the government will have to work across ideological lines to get bills passed.

Moreover, things don't look like improving for the blue team for some time.  Only one left-held seat (Hobart) is up in the next three years, and I don't think that one's going anywhere.

Sunday 8:30: Lovell has defeated Mulder.  It was a little closer than the Labor scrutineers' projections, but not much - the final margin (subject to contents settling with added votes) is 52.27% to Lovell.

Sunday 7:30: Comments indirectly from scrutineers on social media that Lovell is over the line.

Sunday 6:58: Ignore the post that briefly appeared here a few moments ago, I misunderstood a tweet.  :)

Sunday 6:40:  Armitage retains. Ellis made some gains on Labor preferences but it wasn't enough and Rosemary Armitage has held off a formidable challenge by a narrow margin with 52.1% of the vote (remaining votes will not affect this margin much).  One of the closest LegCo results in quite a while.

Sunday 6:30: Shay has been distributed in Rumney and Mulder now needs 66.2% of the Mav preferences after Lovell made a big gain off Shay.  That gain rate seems very very unlikely given Labor's scrutineering, though one Mulder team sample was very near that level.

Sunday 6:25: A big gain for Armitage off the preferences of the independent Tapsell.  We have 3777 ALP preferences to throw and assuming zero exhaust Ellis will need 62.7% of those.  Some will exhaust so the share of the remainder required will probably be higher.  With 1000 of those votes being from non-ALP candidates I am sceptical that the flow will be enough to unseat Armitage, but it's possible it might as I have no data on this contest.

Sunday 6:20: The Rumney distribution has been complicated by needing to establish that Thurley and Arnol are the first two candidates excluded (in whatever order).  It's extremely likely Thurley will be excluded first.  With that done, the exclusion of both sees Mulder make negligible gains on Lovell, entirely consistent with Labor's scrutineering.  Assuming no exhaust he now needs 60.5% of remaining preferences.  The mountain will be steeper after Shay.

Sunday 5:32: Anglesey is out and her preferences split 36.3% to Ellis, 28.3% to Armitage, 25.8% to Roe, 9.6% to Tapsell.  Ignoring exhaust, Ellis now needs 57.3% of the Tapsell and Roe preferences - in other words she needs to do very slightly better off them than she did off Anglesea.  I don't expect the Tapsell preferences to split all that strongly, so maybe Armitage might draw just a little comfort from the Anglesey preferences not splitting more strongly than that.

Sunday 4:50: The first candidate is excluded in the Launceston distribution, Shooters and Fishers' Matthew Allen.  His preferences went more to the Rec Fishers independent Mark Tapsell than anyone else and Ellis gained seven votes on Armitage, which tells us little.  Ellis now needs 57.2% of preferences to win.  The exclusion of the Greens' Emma Anglesey should be a lot more informative.

Sunday 2:35: Rechecked figures have been posted for Launceston and Rumney, though the Agfest votes have not been rechecked for Rumney and presumably won't be in the initial preference throw. Express Votes (votes by email or fax for voters who are out of the state or at remote locations and cannot vote by post) have also been added.   Based on previous years I am not sure if they will get the provisional preference distributions all done today, especially in Rumney, but we should see some sort of progress this afternoon anyway.

In Launceston, Ellis currently needs 56.8% of all preferernces assuming zero exhaust, while in Rumney Mulder needs 58.9%. Exhaust wasn't a big factor in six-candidate elections in Rumney 2011 (1.5% of all votes) or Hobart 2012 (2.3%) though in the seven-candidate Huon race in 2014, 8% exhausted (probably because that finished as a right-wing vs right-wing contest.)

Updates may be slow this afternoon as I will be busy for parts of it.


Murchison Comments

While we wait for the dust to settle in the other two (in particular, I have not heard a thing about scrutineering from Launceston yet) here's a little graph and some comments about Murchison.

This graph shows the relationship between the 2016 Labor two-party preferred vote by booth and Ruth Forrest's vote by booth.  A few outliers have been labelled.  This graph is posted not to assert any link between Forrest and Labor (indeed I was measuring this last night in terms of Quilliam vs the Liberal vote, but I prefer to present the graph in terms of the winner's result), but rather to test to what extent voters did see it as like a state or federal contest.

Without removing any of the outliers the linear regression is Forrest = 34.4+0.468*ALP with 20% of variation explained.  Removing Tullah and Savage River (which are tiny booths) and Currie (massive outlier) gives Forrest = 26.7+0.637*ALP with 43% explained.

The suggestion is that while a lot of voters - probably somewhat more than half - did respond to typical right-vs-left cues in deciding their vote, Ruth Forrest won because her personal vote was much larger than her opponent's - probably over 25% (the constant term) compared to maybe 10% for Quilliam.  This comes from effectively doing the work to represent a community such that people are more interested in that than whether they agree with you on same-sex marriage, forestry or whatever.

So in terms of the attacks seeking to portray incumbents as right-wing or left-wing - maybe they do work to an extent as part of the electorate is receptive to that sort of stuff if informed of it.  But if the incumbent has a massive personal vote advantage then alerting voters to where they have lined up politically will only get you so far, and this has been the case in all the examples where this kind of attack has failed.  And that sort of thing can also be too heavy-handed - anecdotally, a few voters may even have settled on Forrest because the Australian Christian Lobby prayed for her to lose and praised her opponent's stance on abortion.

The two outlier mining booths (Savage River and Tullah) contained a trivially small number of votes but probably Quilliam's arguments for increasing access to the Tarkine would have reverberated in such booths.  The other outlier in Quilliam's favour - a very large booth - is Smithton which was his home booth and a booth where forestry is a major issue.

Of the outliers on the Forrest side the ones requiring comment are Currie and Grassy on King Island.  The two King Island booths voted 62% Liberal (2PP) at the federal election, but 75% for Ruth Forrest, and were her two strongest booths.  Forrest has been alert to King Island issues from her inaugural speech, and recently raised concerns about shipping services to the island.  Perhaps also King Island would not have been overly keen on having a mainland mayor represent them - whatever, that's c. 400 of Forrest's c. 2400 vote margin right there.


Wrap (9:40) I hope we'll get some preference counting tomorrow, but with figures pretty much done for the night, what have we learned?

In Murchison we have seen again that voters care about what they think about the candidate as a person and as an effective representative, and do not by and large care about right and left.  Again attacks on a left-leaning representative in a right-leaning seat have failed, as they have also failed in the opposite direction.  The challenger, Darryl Quilliam, was far from disgraced, but was unable to win some normally conservative booths even in his own Circular Head area.  He really only made hay in the timber towns, and not even all of them.  Ruth Forrest has obviously worked her electorate successfully and minimised pockets of disagreement with her approach.  A strong win against a high-profile opponent by any measure.

In Rumney we have seen that incumbent Tony Mulder's primary vote has just about held up, but without the benefit of the scandals plaguing the incumbent he defeated last time, his position looks precarious after preferences.  As Mulder said on the campaign trail he didn't so much win the seat last time as Lin Thorp lost it, and he has given it his all but may not have been a match for the forces pushing the seat in Labor's direction.  We'll wait for the final result and margin but I don't think there is any major surprise here, whatever happens.

In Launceston we don't know what the outcome is yet and we are looking more at a contrast in styles between Armitage and Ellis than necessarily much political disagreement.  Launceston voters have emphatically rejected party politics in the upper house (as they have a long history of doing) and we will just have to wait for the preference count to see who has prevailed.  There does not seem to be much of a big message here either, beyond that if Ellis wins it will be a continuation of the anger about health that burned Andrew Nikolic, and a warning sign for the state government in Bass for the next election.


9:30 Mulder is not conceding, as his number crunchers believe things may yet be extremely close and are projecting a lineball finish.  As I have not had the opportunity of scrutinising enough of the claimed data myself (from either side) I am holding off on formally calling the seat but I expect Labor to win.

8:45 Without naming the booth as it would identify the scrutineer, the claim is of a 65% flow of non-exhausted Mav votes to Mulder at a booth that was somewhat sub-average for Labor, but not badly so, and of anecdotal reports of similar elsewhere.  Sample size around 200.  This if repeated would make things very close but the fact that Labor are claiming strongly suggests that it won't be.

8:35 I am now seeing some claims of strong (2-1 ish) flows from Mav to Mulder in some booths but not yet on the systematic scale I'd expect from the ALP scrutineering.  And even that, given flow from Shay to Lovell, would probably not quite be enough if it was repeated everywhere.

8:30 I have seen a further scrutineering claim from an experienced scrutineer based on a large sample (multiple booths I think - checking) to the effect that Mulder is making slight gains on preferences but not nearly enough.

8:24 Labor is now claiming that they have won Rumney on social media, presumably based on preference data from scrutineering showing that the Mav votes are not saving the incumbent.

8:17 The booth that sample comes from is Sorell. Sorell is pretty much a litmus booth for the electorate in terms of the Lovell and Mulder primaries this time around.  I would want to see more samples of the Mav preferences but that sounds very positive for Lovell.  There is also news that Mav has called to congratulate Lovell (on what, and whether informedly or not, is unknown.)

8:13 Report (by a good scrutineer) of a 50-50 split in preferences at a booth in Rumney, not sure which one yet.

8:04 Postals and Agfest have cut Mulder's asking rate to 59.8% of preferences.

8:02 Prepolls and postals to date have been added in Launceston (that was fast).  Armitage has padded her margin a little but we still have a long way to go there.

7:53 The normal booths (bar Agfest and mobile) are in in Rumney and we have Labor up about a point on primaries compared to where they were last time.  We have Mulder down 1.7 points.  Mulder won by 3.1 points last time, so if the preference flow is the same as last time then Mulder hangs on by, say, 1.8 points.  Lin Thorp was scandal-plagued and a representative of a disliked government (hence the very strong flow against her from Paul Mason), but she was also an incumbent, while Lovell is a relative unknown.  What are Steve Mav's voters thinking?  That is the question!  (As for the Mav challenge, he is seven points behind Mulder with about twenty points of indie vote to throw, so it seems that he will not make second.)

7:48 Four-point swing to Lovell in the very red suburb of Rokeby.  She has her home booth and the adjacent Sorell booth to go.  Mulder now needs 60.3% if the count stops now, though I expect he will improve that on postals.

7:43 If the count stops now, Mulder needs 58.5% of preferences, assuming he stays second.  He won't get that off Shay, but he could conceivably get more than that off Mav.  At this stage I have no scrutineering figures on preference flow.

7:41 I haven't mentioned the Greens' result in Launceston yet, but 7.4%, ewww.  Doubtless some of their voters went over to Neroli Ellis or even the incumbent.

7:36 Huge swing against Mulder in Cambridge booth, but that is Mav's home base so what is happening there is just Mulder votes going to Mav.  We now have Lovell on 32.7, Mulder on 25.6 and Mav lurking on 21.4.  With Labor-friendly booths to come there's some prospect now of Lovell getting the sort of lead that might be more imposing than Thorp's 4.5 point lead from last time.  The big issue is how strong the preferences between Mav and Mulder, or vice versa, turn out to be.

7:30 I don't expect to be calling either Launceston or Rumney tonight. Launceston has now seen the primary vote margin shrink to just four points.  That seems a rather nervous lead to me with the real chance of left-wing preferences flowing Ellis' way.

As for Murchison, Quilliam has cushioned the margin with a massive win in the forest-industry Smithton booth, but then Forrest has won Wynyard Central by a similar amount.

7:28 And just when you think things are looking better for Mulder, he is smacked by a 7-8 point swing at Seven Mile Beach (close to the infamous airport roundabout).

7:23 Still all over the place in Rumney.  Clarendon Vale has a small swing to Mulder, Sandford has a swing from Mulder and to Labor, Dodges Ferry has a swing to Mulder and nothing for Labor.  It's looking like we're heading for a small Labor primary lead that Mulder might think realistically about running down on mostly conservative preferences.  Assuming, that is, that he isn't passed by Steve Mav (the danger of which is fading).

7:18 Currently Ellis would need 58.2% of preferences ahead of Armitage to win assuming no exhaust.  There will be some exhaust so call it 61%.  That wouldn't be easy but without scrutineering I'm not going to call it impossible just yet.

7:12 All over the place in the Rumney count with nothing much happening in Dunalley and Forcett, Labor down massively in Primrose Sands which is won by Steve Mav (!!) but Labor up five points in Richmond.  The other thing to watch is that Mav is now moving up on Mulder for second meaning that at the moment this count is a mess.  I'm not taking too much notice of my projection (which currently has Lovell just ahead of Mulder on primaries) because we have wildly uneven booth swings which seem to have a regional component.

7:10 Armitage has a healthy win in the Launceston booth and stretches her lead to 4.5 points.  This was an average booth for her last time.

7:07 The Nubeena booth on the Tasman Peninsula largely repeats Port Arthur from the same area - Mulder steady, Labor down double digits.  Interesting stuff going on in this rural/forestry area.

7:01 We have two booths in in Launceston and Rosemary Armitage is being closely pushed by Neroli Ellis.  These booths were both good Labor booths last time so it looks like it is going to end up being between those two as expected all along.  Armitage would want a bigger lead than 3% to be feeling safe tonight (unless her scrutineers say otherwise!)

6:57 With another two booths in Mulder seems to be doing not badly so far, though he won't have a 76% preference flow from Paul Mason this time around.  No primary vote swing either way at South Arm, and 6% against Labor while Mulder held steady at Taranna.  Still an extremely long way to go!

6:52 I wanted to see one of the larger NW coast urban booths just in case anything screwy might happen in those.  That one was Cooee and it didn't so I've seen enough.

6:42 Forrest retains a 56:44 lead against Quilliam and is continuing to win most blue booths.  The pattern is that she is outperforming Labor's federal election result on the north-west coast booths and roughly breaking even on the west coast.  I'm projecting the final result at about 60:40 and will probably call it soon.

6:37 Something weird going on with the Port Arthur booth (Rumney) which is showing a 17% swing against Labor and also a greatly reduced number of votes.  We'll have to keep an eye on this one.

6:33 The first Rumney booth, Copping, has a primary vote swing of nothing for Labor and four points off Mulder so that's a pointer to an interesting count there. The independent Shay has polled well in this booth while Mav has not.

6:31 Forrest is winning 62:38 off a not very friendly selection of small booths.  I already have very little doubt she will be returned.

6:21 Quilliam has won the very blue (61% 2PP Liberal at federal election) Edith Creek booth by only one vote and lost the somewhat blue Moorleah booth.  Advantage Forrest.  For what it's worth, the Quilliamometer (TM) projects his final vote off those two booths as in the range 40-44%.  Let's see how that goes.

6:20 No numbers yet but on past experience the littlest booths in Murchison shouldn't be far away.

6:10 Something to keep an eye on in Murchison is Circular Head booths vs the rest, because Quilliam is mayor of Circular Head.  Circular Head booths include Smithton, Forest, Rocky Cape, Marrawah, Edith Creek, Stanley and Sisters Beach is on the border.  These are all conservative booths anyway.

And they're off! (6 pm) TEC RESULTS SCREENS.  All links seem to be working - first booths in Murchison won't be long!

How this works (3:20 pm):   Comments will start soon after 6 pm and will go through til counting finishes (usually about 9-ish) with a wrap posted sometime after that.  Refresh frequently to see the most recent comments - at the height of counting on average there will probably be a new comment every five minutes or so.  Comments will continue over coming days as the post-counting unfolds, with two seats highly likely to go to preferences.  If the result in Murchison is very close, that seat could be subject to a wait for postals (up to 10 days, though in practice usually resolved sooner).

When I consider there is no realistic doubt about the fate of a seat the magic word CALLED will appear in the header.  Until then it will contain a brief summary of how the count is going in each seat.

For Murchison, I'm projecting the total for conservative challenger Darryl Quilliam off the 2016 Liberal Party federal 2PP and the 2014 Liberal Party state primary vote.  The first is convenient because the party polled 50.3% 2PP at booths, so if Quilliam is matching the Liberal score on a booth-by-booth basis he will win.  Booths in Murchison are extremely variable, and while most of the right-leaning booths are small, not all the small booths are right-wing (some such as Waratah are left-wing).  If Quilliam leads strongly on the early booths it may not mean a lot, and if he doesn't lead early then he probably never will.

For Rumney, I'm projecting Mulder and Labor off the 2011 Mulder and Labor primary votes.  For Launceston I haven't done a projection as the candidate mix is too different to any previous election so I don't expect any projection to be useful.  I will be keeping an eye on strong or weak Armitage or Labor areas based on the vote last time though.

In Rumney, should Tony Mulder and Sarah Lovell be the final two then I expect the preferences of Shelley Shay to favour Lovell strongly (probably at least 65:35), those of Steve Mav to favour Mulder somewhat, and those of Cheryl Arnol and Debra Thurley to break fairly evenly.  If Mav instead of Mulder makes the final two then much the same applies.

In Launceston, it's hard to say whether there will be much of a preference flow against the incumbent or not.  Scrutineering comments on either of these seats are very welcome!

If the primary count is reasonably close in either seat then the outcome may remain in doubt at least until tomorrow, when based on past form there may be a notional preference throw.

There is also Poll Bludger coverage here.


  1. Does it mean anything that sportsbet isn't taking bets on Launceston and Murchison anymore but they are taking bets on Rumney still?

    1. My suspicion is incompetence. It was like that before the count started. If someone tries putting a bet they may find it is closed.

  2. "Only one left-held seat (Hobart) is up in the next three years, and I don't think that one's going anywhere." And what about the other two Kevin? Any chance of them moving leftwards, or are they solid Tory? ("Independent" Tory of course.)

    1. Yes the left could plausibly make further gains. Up in the next few years are:

      * Pembroke by-election 2017 (expected but not yet confirmed) - Liberal-held, incumbent expected to resign for health reasons, has been won by ALP in past.
      * Western Tiers 2018 (which will probably become McIntyre) - conservative incumbent expected to retire. Probably another conservative independent will win it.
      * Montgomery 2019 - Liberal-held but not especially blue. Winnable depending on political circumstances at the time.
      * Nelson 2019 - held by President who is expected to retire. Historically a blue seat, so maybe if a leftie took the chair then this might help the right's numbers.
      * Pembroke again 2019 - see above.

      As against that the left defends Hobart which is way left and with a possibly unbeatable incumbent in 2018, so the right's best hope of gain would be a premature retirement.