Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tasmania Senate 2019: Prospects and Guide

SUMMARY
Likely 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green + last seat depending on Lambie's performance
If Lambie vote falters then Labor, Liberal, perhaps others could win final seat
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released. There are 44 candidates in 16 groups including 4 ungrouped (two of them party candidates), a gratifying decline from the 58 in 21 groups plus ungrouped last time (see my 2016 guide).  Looks like some people are finally getting the message that the new Senate system does not reward parties that cannot get even 1% of the vote!

This piece gives some basic information and views about the parties and lead candidates, and some general background to the contest.  The party candidate section, in places, represents my own opinions of the candidates and parties.  There are always a few obnoxious candidates on the Tasmanian ballot and I have no hesitation in warning voters about these people.  There are also some parties that may not be what they seem.   More content will be added in as time permits, so it may be worth checking back before voting to see if I've added any more details about candidates.

For advice about how to vote in the Senate for now see How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System (2016).  I may do an updated version of that article, or just a pointer to the old one.  I will be listing how-to-vote cards for the parties, but I strongly recommend ignoring all Senate how-to-vote cards since following any Senate how-to-vote card that doesn't number all boxes will weaken the potential power of your vote.

Two previous articles I have written include background on the Tasmanian Senate race and prospects.  These are Tasmanian Senate Major Party Preselections, which covers the Lisa Singh situation and her prospects in detail, and What Are The Prospects Of A Labor-Green Senate Majority?

Background

Tasmania currently has five Labor, four Liberal, one National and two Greens Senators.  At the 2016 election Jacqui Lambie was elected at the head of the Jacqui Lambie Network ticket, but she was subsequently found to have been ineligible.  Her #2 Steven Martin sat as an independent initially and then joined the Nationals, who have not had a significant presence in the state in recent decades.

Labor Senators Anne Urquhart and Helen Polley, Liberals Eric Abetz, Jonathan Duniam and Wendy Askew and Green Peter Whish-Wilson are not up at this election and will face the voters (if they recontest) in 2022.  The Liberal result at the last election was worse than Labor's, but in one of the daftest decisions in the history of the Senate, the order-of-election method was applied to reallocate term lengths after Lambie was disqualified.  Because of a chunk of Labor's primary vote going to Lisa Singh, the Liberals won three long-term seats to Labor's two by the order-of-election method, although Labor outperformed the Liberals on both primary vote and preference share.

Having somehow voted for this stupidity, Labor now has to defend three seats (Carol Brown, Catryna Bilyk, Lisa Singh) while the Liberals are defending only one (Richard Colbeck).  Also facing the people are Nick McKim (Greens), after a very-near-death experience at the hands of One Nation as the Greens' #2 last time, and Martin (Nationals).

The following would have been the results of recent Senate elections in Tasmania had they been half-Senate elections under the current system:

2001 and 2004: 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green
2007 and 2010: 3 Labor, 2 Liberal, 1 Green
2013: 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green (actual result was 2 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green, 1 PUP)
2016: 2 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Jacqui Lambie Network

The 2019 preselection for the Labor Party has again seen Lisa Singh dumped to the fourth position, as also happened in 2016 (when it became sixth when the election became a double dissolution).  In 2016 Singh famously won from sixth by polling such a high primary in below the line votes (6.12%) that she was able to be elected on below the line votes and preferences alone, while ALP #5 candidate John Short missed out.  Similarly demoted Liberal Richard Colbeck also polled a high BTL vote (3.97%) but lost, and got back to the Senate only after Section 44 disposed of Stephen Parry.

Prospects

A good baseline for the party situation between the more obvious contenders is to look at where Labor, the Liberals, the Greens and JLN would have stood in 2016 with all other parties excluded from the race.   After the first two quotas for each major party, the Greens would have had 13.2%, Jacqui Lambie 13.1%, Labor 8.7%, Liberal 6.1%.

For either major party to win a third seat, they need to (at minimum) overtake either the Greens or Lambie, and stay ahead of whoever they have overtaken after preferences (eg if the Liberals are excluded first, their preferences help Lambie). 

The Greens have been struggling in the state recently, including a poor performance at the state election, but that was probably a result of state factors (temporary competition from state Labor's poker machine policy).  They have been making a big effort to highlight McKim who at present is by far the most prominent Senate candidate in corflute terms. The main scenario in which the Greens could lose involves being overtaken by Labor, with Lambie's vote also high enough to stay ahead of them.  However, I don't think this is likely; I doubt Labor will get the swing relative to the Greens needed to take their spot.  The other possible threat I can see would be a Craig Garland breakout into statewide substantial support, but I don't think this is likely to do enough damage to matter.

Lambie's position is less clear.  After winning easily in 2016 she has had a reduced spotlight since losing her seat to Section 44, and there was also a poor JLN state campaign in which she wasn't a candidate.  Lambie has been working the state hard, but in the meantime the sort of vote Lambie competes for - the populist non-major-party vote - has become incredibly crowded in Tasmania.  In 2016 One Nation was really the only contender for that vote, but at this election as well as One Nation there is the resurgence of the very well-funded UAP, there is Martin as a Nationals Senator, there is Steve Mav, and even Craig Garland (albeit further from the left) will compete for Lambie's vote if he gets going.  This increased competition could damage Lambie's primary vote, and because of semi-optional preferential voting, the lost votes won't necessarily come back as preferences.

If Lambie's vote isn't damaged, it could be a boring postcount, with Lambie and the Greens too far ahead of the majors for swings between them to alter the outcome.  But if Lambie's vote weakens dropping her into the reach of the majors then either major could beat her.  On paper, more likely Labor, but perhaps there would be a swing back to the Liberals because they have learned from their preselection mistakes in 2016 and picked a more diverse and moderate ticket while Labor haven't learned anything from the backlash caused by demoting Singh.

A further important issue is what size of below-the-line vote Singh gets.  Despite the lack of an obvious groundswell (at this stage) matching the 2016 "Save Lisa" campaign, it's still possible Singh could poll a similar vote to last time, in which case she could become the effective #3 Labor candidate.  But this is dicey - if Labor does really well, then Singh would need to increase her below-the-line vote to knock out John Short, but the better Labor does the harder that becomes.  Until he is knocked out, Short will continue accumulating preferences faster than Singh because all the above-the-lines will flow to him.

If Singh is knocked out, this could become a disaster for Labor in an otherwise competitive situation as her below-the-line vote will leak massively to other parties, especially the Greens.  (This was also covered in the major party preselection article.)  It will be interesting to see if any awareness can be built that Labor's preselection order (via a member/delegate ballot) is potentially disastrous and that Labor will be best placed to win three if an increased number of its voters vote below the line for Singh.

Could anyone different come into the mix?  The main way this could happen is if the various new (or reinvigorated) non-major contestants manage to between them trash Lambie's vote and also take some votes from Labor and the Coalition.  In this case it becomes possible - but not easy - for someone else to win off say 5% - for instance Nationals, UAP or Garland if anyone can get that.  (Garland may not poll significantly but has the potential to become a breakout candidate based on his 2018 Braddon run and media interest.)  Lower House polling provides a poor guide to prospects here as in 2016 the Recreational Fishers Party polled well (both in polls and the election) for the House of Reps but sank without trace in the Senate.  State-specific Senate polling, unless very well designed, is unlikely to be informative.

Although One Nation were competitive with the Greens for the final seat in 2016, that was because it was a double dissolution (it was One Nation's first candidate against the Greens's second, so the Greens were coming off a handicap of 7.7% in that contest).  The Greens have been portraying the final seat as a contest between them and One Nation but this is almost certainly nonsense. It will be much more difficult for One Nation to be competitive this time unless their vote lifts sharply. 

Parties and candidates: a subjective guide

Here is my guide to the parties running for this Senate election.  Mostly I include background on the lead candidate or competitive candidates only, but I will also mention any interesting/concerning minor candidates (especially since there's an argument that because of Section 44, even seemingly unelectable candidates are important). Parties are listed in ballot order.  Where opinions are offered, they are obviously purely mine, and if you don't like them feel free to go and write your own somewhere else, or contest them in comments. I may add more links later, but I will not add or change any material on request except to correct clear factual errors.

The Australian Conservatives (if referring to this party on Twitter, please tag it as #CoryTories) is the thus far unsuccessful party formed by religious right-winger Cory Bernardi (SA) after his blatant ratting from the Liberal Party.  Family First subsequently merged into this party, and that will learn them and they won't do that again in a hurry.  Lead candidate Justin Stringer (ex-Palmer United) is a culture warrior much in the Bernardi vein (and similarly ridiculed on social media) while support candidate Nigel Frame was 2005 Tasmanian state chess champion.

Incumbent Senator Steve Martin head up the Nationals ticket in their first attempt for a while to establish a presence in the state.  Attempts in the last several decades have failed miserably, though the Country Party had representation in the state in the distant past.  Martin was once a campaigner on hospital issues who then became Mayor of Devonport, and survived a challenge to his eligibility for the Senate on that basis.  He was Jacqui Lambie's #2 in 2016 polling an unremarkable personal vote in his own right, but inherited the seat when Lambie was disqualified.  Martin has tried hard to get announceables for the state in his short time in office.

#3 on the grid is the Sustainable Australia Party, whose lead candidate is Todd Dudley, a well-known St Helens environmentalist.  This party's placement on the spectrum is controversial - in many respects it campaigns on environmental issues similarly to the Greens, but it also argues for immigration restrictions.  While it does so mainly on ostensibly environmental grounds, it can do so in a rather dog-whistly and alarmist manner, causing many on the left to regard it as xenophobic, and its operatives tend to become irate when challenged on this aspect.  I am unaware, however, of Dudley ever involving himself in the immigration side of SAP's position.  Dudley was also the party's lead candidate in 2016.

The Greens ticket is headed by incumbent Nick McKim.  Support candidates are Helen Hutchinson who has run for the Greens a few times before (most recently polling 818 votes in Lyons at the 2018 State election) and Simone Marsh.

The Liberal ticket has just three candidates, so if they somehow manage to poll over 43% then any surplus will flow directly to other parties.  Head of the ticket is Richard Colbeck, a former Minister and a Senator since 2002, except an interruption from 2016-8 when he briefly lost his seat after being kicked down the ticket in preselection.  Colbeck is considered a moderate.  #2 and more or less ensured of election is business analyst former Young Liberal state President Claire Chandler, while Hobart City alderman (council members can choose if they are "aldermen" or "councillors") Tanya Denison runs in the difficult but potentially winnable #3 spot.  Denison is a mining engineer and was the first first female CEO of the Civil Contractors Federation.  She was also the party's candidate for the seat then known as Denison (now Clark) in 2013, following which she won a Council seat by three votes in 2014 and retained it comfortably last year.

The Animal Justice ticket is headed by Karen Bevis, who gives her occupation as "project officer".  According to the AJP web page she has "a BA in Philosophy and Sociology, a Grad. Dip. in Human Nutrition, and experience in project work in the community sector." Bevis was also the lead candidate in 2016.  The AJP is somewhat trendy at the moment and just won a second NSW seat on merit and by voter choice, to go with the one it won undeservedly in Victoria by preference harvesting.  The party is philosophically radical and opposes practically all killing of animals, humane or not (including when for environmental control reasons) as well as the sale of pets "other than from shelters or rescuers".

The Citizens Electoral Council ... oh for goodness sake, Lyndon La Rouche is dead now, give it up! This veteran waste of ballot paper is a reliably low-scoring party that promotes many ridiculous conspiracy theories. Lead candidate Ray Williams was a Liberal state candidate in 2002, a Derwent Valley councillor and ran as an independent for the Legislative Council seat of Derwent in 2011.  At that election he pushed an anti-Green "traditional user" focus similar to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and came third with 16.3% in a field of five.

The Liberal Democrats ticket is again headed by Clinton Mead, the mayor of Campbelltown (NSW) and an interstate ring-in on the Tasmanian ballot.  Mead also headed the ticket in 2013 and 2016.  The LDP is a US-style ideological right-libertarian party that aims to support individual freedom in both social and economic areas but also in the ownership of dangerous guns. Its former Senator David Leyonhjelm did not much endear himself to Tasmanians with remarks suggesting that Port Arthur conspiracy theories deserved more investigation.

The Australian Labor Party ticket is headed by Carol Brown (Senator since 2005) and Catryna Bilyk (Senator since 2008), who will both be re-elected although their profiles are relatively low.  The action is further down the ticket where unionist John Short has again been preselected ahead of factionally unaligned Lisa Singh (Senator since 2011, previously a one-term state MP) whose positions on asylum seeker issues endear her to left-wing inner-city voters.  See above for comments on their prospects.  Labor has selected two further candidates, teacher Wayne Roberts (who stood in Braddon at the state election) and unionist Robert Flanagan, presumably with an eye to keeping their below the line votes formal.

The Pauline Hanson's One Nation ticket is headed by Matthew Stephen.  2016 candidate Kate McCulloch is running in NSW instead.  Stephen was a very controversial choice at the Longman by-election but it didn't seem to greatly harm his vote.  If you don't know what you get with this party by now you should have been paying attention, but what you get is xenophobia and chaos with a dash of 90s political nostalgia.  One Nation often pretends to have mainstreamed itself in comparison to its many offspring parties, but I don't recommend believing it.

FRASER ANNING'S CONSERVATIVE NATIONALS (sheesh, those capitals are hard on the eyes) is fittingly close to One Nation on the ballot paper.  This party is the vehicle for extreme-right Queensland Senator Fraser Anning (a plug for my article about psephological aspects of Anning's career here), who was elected as Malcolm Roberts' replacement but immediately left One Nation before it could expel him.

The Jacqui Lambie Network is the eponymous vector for former Senator Jacqui Lambie.  Lambie was elected as a Palmer United Senator in 2013, but fell out with the party and left it to form her own.  She was again elected at the 2016 double-dissolution with a quota in her own right but lost her seat to Section 44 mid-term.  Lambie combines Labor-ish positions on economic, education and health with right-wing positions on Islam, national service, transgender rights and so on, thereby appealing to politically-incorrect working-class voters (mostly men).  She also has a background of advocacy for military veterans, herself being a former soldier who fought the military system over medical issues.  Lambie is brash, outspoken, often crude and gaffe-prone though her quality control has improved to some degree.  She recently appeared on some rubbish celebrity game show that I decline to publicise by naming.

Help End Marijuana Prohibition is what it says on the label, and we can safely assume it is the only party that will have online advertising that includes the word "lucripetous". Its lead candidate is Alfred Informal, a disability support worker, film-maker and scriptwriter.  He is not to be confused with his father Informal, a former state candidate and fellow hemp activist who was involved in a prolonged stoush with the AEC over his enrolment under the name Informal (which I believe ended with Informal senior off the electoral roll).  Informal junior had an early taste of public life in 2014 when he was suspended from college for a spray at then state Greens leader (now Senator) McKim over statistics regarding the proportion of scientists who support the consensus viewpoint on human-caused climate change.   The Informals also walked from Launceston to Hobart in a respectable time of six days to highlight the lack of footpaths.  Another great Tasmanian political dynasty!

The United Australia Party is what a precusor to the modern Liberal Party used to say on the label. It is Clive Palmer's former Palmer United Party, which at first intended to reuse the UAP name but found it preoccupied by another party unrelated to either.  Lead candidate Kevin Morgan is a small business marketer and former Department of Premier and Cabinet advisor, who has run for the party at three previous elections. At this election the UAP is much better resourced than for PUP's token 2016 campaign, and it is bombarding Australia with loud yellow advertising, which is just starting to pay dividends in polling.  UAP runs on economic nationalism (at this election with a lot of focus on China), populist attacks on the major parties, and Trumpy (pun intended) slogans.

Group O is recreational fishermen Craig Garland and Mark Duncan, running together as grouped non-party candidates.  Garland ran in the Braddon state election in 2018 as a scruffy (yeah I can talk) independent, polling very well in some areas on virtually no budget and rather showing up the Greens.  At the 2018 Braddon by-election, Garland again contested and became a cult candidate polling over 10%. The Liberal Party picked a scrap with him, trying to damage him using an old conviction over a fight with off-duty police.  The scrap inflated Garland's vote and the flow of preferences to Labor killed any hope the Liberals had of winning the seat.  Garland first came to attention with concerns over the relocation of seals, but in general his policies on forestry and related matters resemble those of the Greens, causing the Liberals to treat him as Greener than the Greens themselves.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are pro-gun, pro-hunting, pro-4WD, pro-fishing, pro-resource-industries and not surprisingly anti-Green.  The party holds upper house seats in three states and three Lower House seats in NSW, but it has not had any success yet in Tasmania.  Lead candidate is Rebecca Byfield, who has a journalism and marketing background and is currently a marketing student, and who recently launched an "education and advocacy resource" dealing with responsible hunting.  (I'm sure that the Animal Justice Party would say there is no such thing, but in 2016, 405 Tasmanian voters voted either 1 Shooters 2 AJP or the other way around!)

In the Ungrouped column, the most notable candidate is Steve Mav, a high-profile serial candidate (see past profile) in Tasmanian politics who has had a number of nearly-but-not-quite attempts to get into the Legislative Council.  (His only wins known to me were elections for Glenorchy City Council in 2000 and 2005.)  A Liberal state candidate in the distant past, Mav has more recently run as a populist-right independent who is anti-Green but doesn't consider himself closer to either major party.  However this Senate campaign has taken a much darker turn with calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty "for serious crimes like child rape", and even questions to his followers about support for public executions (as well as some other law and order stuff reminiscent of the Victorian Liberals' failed "African Gangs" campaign).  Mav has been a frequent presence by Tasmanian roadsides doing his sign-waving act, and has a large social media following.

Mav's instructions to his voters to number squares from 1-6 below the line have been attacked by some lefties as advocating an informal vote, but this is false; such a vote is valid under the savings provisions and Mav has been quite shrewd in picking that up.  However a huge problem for his tilt is that as an ungrouped candidate he cannot receive any above-the-line preferences, and therefore to win will have to get most of a quota in below-the-line votes and preferences (which is hugely unlikely.)

Other ungrouped candidates are Greg Beck (Australian Better Families, a men's rights group that alleges the Family Court system is stacked in favour of women and links this to male suicide), "master chef" Francis Flannery (independent, on whom I have found no information yet) and Karen Street (Love Australia Or Leave, a One Nation-like anti-immigration party).  These have the same preference-flow problems as Mav, and in general Ungrouped candidates were very unsuccessful in 2016.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Poll Roundup And Seat Betting Watch: Ellis Impersonator Edition

2PP Aggregate 52.5 to Labor (unchanged)
On most recent polling Labor would win a majority if election held now, with around 83 seats.

There have not been many polls in this week of an Easter-fragmented campaign, and the one national poll that has come out hasn't changed the national picture all that much (except for One Nation).  Essential will be polling over Easter (more likely to work for an online than a phone pollster), Newspoll probably won't, and we'll have to see what else we might get.  It's been a scrappy start to the campaign with both major parties losing candidates from uncompetitive seats (after some dumpings foreshadowed tonight, the Coalition will have lost six!), and gaffes by both sides including some troubles for Bill Shorten on superannuation policy and climate change policy costs, while Scott Morrison can get away from any question he doesn't like by just declaring it to be "bubble stuff".  I don't know if anyone's paying attention to any of this at the moment out there in voter-land.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

NSW Legislative Council 2019: Button Press Day


Button press from 11 am Monday

Won off raw quotas: Coalition 7 ALP 6 Green 2 PHON 1 SFF 1
Coalition will win 8th seat

Labor 7, One Nation 2, CDP, LDP, AJP, KSO for final 3 seats

Labor very likely to win seat, One Nation likely but not so clear, CDP/LDP/AJP who knows, KSO remote chance only

Result

The result will be added here once known.  The count is expected to take a gruelling 45 minutes to one hour.  See https://twitter.com/nsw_upperhouse for updates and doubtless other #nswvotes sources.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Tasmanian House Of Representatives Seats Guide (2019)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Donations welcome!

If you find my coverage useful please consider donating to support the large amount of time I spend working on this site.  Donations can be made by the Paypal button in the sidebar or email me via the address in my profile for my account details.  Please only donate if you are sure you can afford to do so.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This article gives a fairly detailed discussion of the five Tasmanian House of Representatives seats, which will be updated and edited as needed up til election day.  Over this weekend I will be gradually unrolling the seats in alphabetical order on this page.

Two seats (Clark and Franklin) are generally not considered to be in play at this election.  Three (Bass, Braddon and Lyons) are Labor marginals that the Liberals won from Labor in 2013 and Labor won back in 2016.  These could change back again if the Liberals can pick up swings of 1.5 to 5.3%.  Current national polling as I start this article (12 April) points to about a 3% swing to Labor.  If it stays like that, then it is likely few if any Labor seats will fall to the Coalition nationwide.  But should the campaign close up, then Tasmanian seats may come into play.  On the other hand, in 2010 there was a large 2PP swing to Labor in Tasmania even against the backdrop of a national swing against the party.

The Liberal Party has so far shown a fair amount of interest in Tasmania, where it performed very poorly at both House and Senate levels in 2016, and was criticised for dumping Senator Richard Colbeck down the ticket and for preselecting only one woman.  At the moment I interpret the Tasmanian campaign largely as a strategy to force Labor to defend the seats, leaving it with less resources to deploy on trying to win Coalition seats elsewhere.  Optimistic noises are being made based on the Liberal victory in the state election, but Tasmanian voters are old hands when it comes to splitting state and federal voting, and state elections often produce lopsided vote shares as voters strive to avoid minority governments.   Last year in the space of a few months, Braddon voters voted 56.1% Liberal (primary) at the state election then only 39.3% at the federal  by-election.

An added point of interest in some Reps seats at this election is the return of the National Party to Tasmania.  The party has made various forays into the state but tends to get only a few percent of the vote each time.  My pet theory on this is that even rural areas of Tasmania are closer to and have more connections to Tasmania's cities than rural areas on the mainland.  There is not the same feeling of the bush being forgotten or disconnected from the city.  Polling so far has insignificant Nationals votes.  Also, the party has quickly shown signs of disunity, with Braddon candidate Sally Milbourne distancing herself from Senator Steve Martin's announcement of a Senate how-to-vote-card preference swap with One Nation.

A prominent debating point at this election is the status of funding promised by the Liberals to the northern electorates during the campaign.  As these funds are not budgeted they may be conditional on the overall federal election result.  Labor has yet to announce which of these promises it will honour if elected.  The Liberals have been goading Labor alleging that it is taking the state for granted and claiming this is a mistake.

Very little Tasmania-specific federal polling has been seen this term, though an EMRS statewide poll showing a small swing to Labor was seen in late 2018.  Bludger Track currently models Tasmanian seats off the federal swing only.  Tasmanian seat polling has a history of inaccuracy and skew even by the low standards of seat polling generally.  In 2013 ReachTEL polls were skewed to the Liberals by 4-5 points and in 2016 all five polls taken missed the Bass margin by at least five points.

For more details on seats and their history see also the Poll Bludger and Tally Room guides.

Note for candidates: as this page has to cover all five seats, the candidate profiles will be kept to a link (if I can find one) and one to a few lines except for (i) incumbents, (ii) Labor/Liberal candidates, (iii) any  candidate who I identify as a credible chance to win a seat based on polling or strong subjective evidence (iv) any candidate who I consider unusually notable.  

Candidates may contact me once only to request a change in the link (if any) that their name goes to.  No other changes will be considered except in cases of clear factual error. Length of main candidate profiles is influenced by the volume of available material/dirt. Ordering of other candidates is influenced by past election results for their parties in the seat.  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bass (Labor, 5.4%)

Geography: North-eastern Tasmania, consisting mostly of urban Launceston and also the rural north-east with major centres including Scottsdale and Bridport.

History:  Bass is a revolving-door seat with a habit of dumping incumbents, having changed parties at seven of the last nine elections.  This all started when Liberal Warwick Smith lost the seat by 40 votes, ending a 17-year Liberal tenure, in 1993.  He then won it back in 1996 and lost it by 78 votes in 1998. Forestry issues played some role in the Liberal wins in 2004 and 2013 but primarily Bass is won and lost in the suburbs of Launceston, with the southern and eastern suburbs especially volatile in recent elections.  The failed Bell Bay pulp mill proposal caused a surge in the Green vote in 2007 but this has since gone away.  Bass was the only seat in Australia to record double-digit 2PP swings in both 2013 and 2016.  In 2016 Andrew Nikolic (Lib) was defeated after a single term, with the crushing loss (of a scale unforseen in polling) being generally attributed to health issues including the Launceston General Hospital and Labor's "Mediscare" and also to a GetUp! campaign which was strongly supported by left-wing locals displeased with Nikolic's abrasive style.

Incumbent: First term incumbent Ross Hart was a lawyer prior to politics, with a long involvement at Rae & Partners, of which he was a Director and Managing Partner prior to election.  Hart also had a number of community involvements (see bio) and was also a sporadic comment poster on this site! 
Following his victory over Nikolic, Hart has been a low profile MP on the national stage, with one very prominent exception: in a June 2018 interview with Tasmanian commercial radio host Brian Carlton, Hart very repeatedly declined invitations to back Bill Shorten's proposal at the time to reverse tax cuts for medium-sized businesses.  Shorten's "captain's call" was soon reversed but the incident, contributing to leadership speculation at the time,  blew over after Labor retained all its seats on Super Saturday.

Hart, a member of the Labor Left, has a "nice guy" persona in contrast to his precursor.  Liberals have been reported as considering him a weak incumbent who they think they may knock off, but any evidence for this belief beyond the Carlton interview is unknown.

Main challenger: The Liberal candidate is Bridget Archer, the incumbent Mayor of George Town, a working-class industrial town near the mouth of the Tamar River.  Archer was a candidate for the party at the 2018 state election, polling 1803 votes in an improbable quest for a fourth seat for the party.  (Archer was eliminated just shy of the Greens and Labor candidates but would have lost had she been just ahead of one anyway).  Archer, elected unopposed as Mayor in 2014, was re-elected Mayor later in 2018, but only just - beating off-council challenger Greg Kieser 51:49.  Archer probably received a lot of blowback for having become known as a Liberal in a Labor-voting town, and this result shouldn't be considered any reflection on her quality as a candidate.

Other candidates:

Tom Hall (Greens), medical doctor, specialist anaesthetist, minor 2018 state candidate polling 394 votes
Allan Roark (United Australia Party), corporate driver trainer, marketer, former motor racing driver
Carl Cooper (Nationals), rural pharmacist in Tasmania and NSW, expertise in sports doping
Susan Woodbury (Animal Justice), former animal welfare sector worker
Todd Lambert (IND), recreational fisher and anti-supertrawler campaigner, former President of now defunct Recreational Fishers Party

The ballot order in Bass is Greens, Labor, AJP, Liberal, Lambert, UAP, Nationals.

Polling (Voting Intention)

1. EMRS sub-200 vote sample Dec 2018 ALP 36 Liberal 43 Green 11. I calculate 2PP at 51.8% to Labor by last-election preferences.  Samples of this size are extremely unreliable.

2. Liberal internal Media Reach poll (sample 545)  Primaries Liberal 39.01, Labor 38.84, National 1.97, Greens 4.23, UAP 4.46, PHON* 4.36, JLN* 5.40, Other 1.49, Don't Know 0.24.  Parties marked * are not known to be running. 2PP 50.40 to Liberal by respondent preferences.  The Green vote in this poll is too low to be credible and internal polling should be regarded extremely cautiously because of the potential for selective release.

3. Australian Forests Products Association uComms (sample 847) 54-46 to Liberal off primaries of Labor 32.6 Liberals 42.8 Greens 10.0 Christian Democrats 1.9 (unclear whether running), Nationals 1.2, "Palmer's [sic] United Party" 2.7 Other 2.5 Undecided 6.3. A breakdown of the Undecided was available but it unhelpfully added to 131.4%.  In any case clearly the flow of respondent preferences to Liberal here has been unnaturally strong; I get about 53-47 by national last-election preferences and about 52-48 by preferences from previous elections in this seat.  uComms uses ReachTEL's framework but is a distinct pollster (recently controversial).  An AFPA ReachTEL was very good at the Braddon by-election but the accuracy of uComms has not been much tested at elections yet.  The major party primaries (suggesting a swing of 8% against Labor and nothing against the Liberals) are a little surprising.

Other polling:

1. Liberal internal TeleReach: Liberal figures claiming that Bill Shorten was unpopular in the seat (a net rating of -19 compared to +6 for Scott Morrison) were selectively released.  Seat polling is unreliable, internal polling especially so, and the cherrypicked nature of the result (released three weeks after it was taken) is more reason to treat this with caution.  Also, Opposition Leader approvals have little impact on federal voting intention.

Assessment: Probable Labor retain.  Ignore the state election result in this seat (because Tasmanian voters generally do ignore federal results).  Also, ignore the 2016 margin given the contribution of the GetUp! campaign against Nikolic and the subsequent porkbarrelling attempts in the seat - the seat is probably closer than it looks on paper.  Nonetheless I am not at this stage aware of anything that quite explains the poor poll results for Labor, and would treat them with caution at this stage.

Over Easter, the Liberals moved into betting favouritism in this seat.  This may result from punters overreacting to seat polling (unaware of its dire record in this seat) or there may be more to it.  It is highly unlikely there would be a 9% swing to the Liberals in an election that currently is expected to see a swing to Labor federally.  It is even possible betting is being deliberately weaponised as part of a campaign to scare Labor into visiting the state early in the campaign.  If it does turn out Labor has no interest in the seat then the betting may be justified, but I would be surprised if that remains the case.

Braddon (Labor, 1.7%)

Geography: North-west and western Tasmania, including the small regional cities of Devonport and Burnie and the large town of Ulverstone, the rural north-west (Smithton, Wynyard) and the west coast mining and tourism towns (Queenstown, Zeehan, Strahan)

History: Decades ago the north-west was infamously socially conservative, but Braddon has changed greatly in the last 20 years.  Braddon was Liberal-held from 1975 to 1998 but has since become another swinging marginal seat, changing hands at five of the last seven general elections.  Since the last election, Labor won the 2018 Braddon by-election caused by Section 44 issues.  The by-election appeared to be very close but the Liberal Party blundered away whatever chance they had by targeting local independent Craig Garland, not only driving up Garland's primary vote but also taking their focus away from targeting Keay and Labor.

Incumbent: First term incumbent Justine Keay was previously an electorate officer and a local Devonport councillor, with a diverse education but also life experience typical of the electorate (see Braddon by-election preview).  Keay had to resign her council seat to contest the 2016 election (unncessarily as it turned out) but was rewarded when she defeated incumbent Brett Whiteley.  Keay's first term was most nationally prominent because of the Section 44 issues that forced her resignation to recontest her seat in the 2018 Braddon by-election.

Keay's style is that of a somewhat folksy fighter for locals and the disadvantaged, and polling in the Braddon leadup showed her to be reasonably popular in the electorate, with YouGov-Galaxy giving her a +11 net personal rating.

Liberal Candidate: The new Liberal candidate is Gavin Pearce.  Pearce is a local beef farmer and Vice-Chair of a local farming lobby group.  He is President of the Wynyard RSL and a "decorated soldier with 20 years of military service".   Pearce stood for preselection for the by-election but was overlooked in favour of Whiteley.  He has no other past electoral form known to me.

Other candidates:

Kate Spaulding (United Australia Party), accommodation operator, former agribusiness owner
Phill Parsons (Greens), horticulturalist, background in farming and environmental design
Sally Milbourne (Nationals), Devonport City Councillor, media producer, restaurateur
Graham Gallaher (One Nation), manager of Tarkine Forest Adventures (tourism business)
Craig Brakey (Independent), storage businessman, former McDonalds franchisee and bakery owner, unsuccessful Liberal preselection aspirant.  Has some significant local support and a sign for him on the fence of Liberal MLC Leonie Hiscutt's property has attracted interest.
Brett Smith (IND), fisherman, farm hand, campaigner against Lake Malbena tourism development
Shane Allen (Fraser Anning's Conservative Nationalists), fitter machinist

The ballot order is UAP, Brakey, FACN, Liberal, National, Green, Smith, Labor, PHON.  The field of nine is the most Braddon has ever had, and the second largest ever for a Tasmanian seat (Denison had ten in 2013).

Bruno Strangio (Australian People's Party) was reported as a declared candidate but this was a product of an extremely out of date APP website.

Polling (voting intention):

1. EMRS sub-200 vote sample Dec 2018 ALP 38 Liberal 40 Green 8. I calculate 2PP at 52.5% to Labor by last-election preferences.  Samples of this size are extremely unreliable.

Other polling:

1. Liberal internal TeleReach: Liberal figures claiming that Bill Shorten was unpopular in the seat (a net rating of -28 compared to +1 for Scott Morrison) were selectively released.  Seat polling is unreliable, internal polling especially so, and the cherrypicked nature of the result (released three weeks after it was taken) is more reason to treat this with caution.

Assessment: Probable Labor retain, though there is a case that it could go.  Firstly the margin has been reduced following the redistribution.  Secondly there is a case that Labor's result in the by-election was weak (especially by comparison to Longman), and could have been weaker without the Liberals picking fights with Garland (a Senate candidate this time around).  However, it is also possible the proximity of the state election affected that result.  Thirdly Labor is not being helped by the collapse of the always-modest Green vote in this electorate and may struggle for preferences.  On the other hand, there seems to be some disunity in conservative ranks in the area with some prominent backing for Brakey, so the Liberals are not as well placed for a clear run at the seat as in Bass.

Clark (Ind 17.8% vs Labor)

Geography: Western shore Hobart.  Includes two very different halves - the working-class Glenorchy half which is strongly pro-Labor), and the Hobart City half which has been one of the greenest areas in Australia (with small pockets of strong Liberal support).  At the 2018 state election Labor made major inroads against Green support in the Hobart City half.  This electorate was previously known as Denison but was renamed to honour Andrew Inglis Clark.

History: After winning the seat from the Liberals in 1987, Labor's Duncan Kerr held the seat for 23 years.  On his retirement Labor flubbed both the preselection and the campaign, resulting in independent Andrew Wilkie very narrowly winning the seat on preferences from third place.  Wilkie was re-elected by massive margins in 2013 and 2016 with the highest Independent primary in the country.

Incumbent: Andrew Wilkie is a former army officer and intelligence analyst who blew the whistle over the Howard government's support for invading Iraq. He ran for the Greens in Bennelong 2004 and Tasmania Senate 2007 then left said party, narrowly missing a seat in the Tasmanian House of Assembly as an independent in 2010.  Later that year he won Denison.

Wilkie initially supported the Gillard Labor government in the 2010-3 hung parliament but withdrew support after the government did not follow through on its agreements with him concerning poker-machine precommitment.  At the tail end of the current parliament, Wilkie was blessed with another hung parliament situation, and the flow of announceables for sports facilities, housing and so on has resulted in claims that the government has given him an open chequebook.

Wilkie is a generally left-wing independent with forthright, often black-and-white moral views on issues, and whose major issues have included the environment, asylum seekers and health services in Denison.  During this term he was also the first plaintiff in one of two failed legal challenges to the holding of the same-sex marriage "postal survey".  Polling in the 2016 leadup showed very strong personal ratings for Wilkie across the whole electorate, but no polling of his ratings has been seen by me since.

Labor Candidate: First-time Labor candidate Ben McGregor is a social worker and mental health clinician working in Hobart children's mental health services.  I am unaware of him having previous political form.  McGregor's run was announced back in September and Labor are arguing that they are going to win the election in majority so voters should elect someone who will be part of the new government.   He also has an excellent photo album of cats he has met while doorknocking.

Liberal Candidate: Amanda-Sue Markham is a nurse at the Royal Hobart Hospital and postgraduate student.  She was the Liberal candidate for Franklin in 2016 and had a controversial campaign including coverage of her status as a nurse (she is now re-registered) and her anti-abortion views (for more controversies see my 2016 guide).  Markham, a former Christian Democrat, is a religious social conservative involved with the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church run by her husband Campbell Markham.

In 2016 there was a 5.6% swing against the Liberals in Franklin with Markham as the state's sole female Liberal candidate.  This was not an especially large swing by the standards of the state, but the seat had had a muted swing away from Labor in 2013 when the Liberal candidate also struck trouble.  Markham as a candidate would have had some resonance in the bible-belt parts of Franklin. However her preselection for socially liberal Clark strongly suggests the Liberals are not taking the seat (in which they lost the 2PP 65-35 last time) even remotely seriously.

Other candidates:

Juniper Shaw (Greens): proprietor of the Grand Poobah alternative music venue*, previously cafe owner
Jim Starkey (United Australia): great-grandson of former PM Joseph Lyons, founder of the original UAP.

Starkey is happy to consider the UAP as a revival of the original; some other descendents of historic UAP leaders have had a different view.

The ballot order in Clark is Wilkie, Labor, Liberal, Green, UAP.

(* Of which your host is sporadically a patron.)

Polling:

1. EMRS sub-200 vote sample Dec 2018 ALP 39 Liberal 19 Green 15 Others 28. However this sample is useless not only because of the tiny sample size but more seriously because it failed to name Wilkie in the readout, and failing to name high-profile independents generally suppresses their polled vote.  (I estimated the 2CP at 51.7% to Wilkie off these numbers, for what it's worth, which you can safely assume is very little.)

Assessment: Wilkie retain.  It will be interesting to see if Labor can make significant inroads against Wilkie's support this time, but even if they were to manage a large primary vote swing (from a baseline of 44-23 in Wilkie's favour) they would not be able to do anything about the 70+% flows of Liberal and Green preferences to the incumbent.  On that front, Labor had increased success in Green strongholds at the state election, but (i) this was partly off the back of the state party's poker machines policy, since recanted (ii) Wilkie has already gutted federal Green support levels in these areas.   I have heard some good impressions of McGregor as a candidate, but this was also true of his predecessor Jane Austin.  Having often seen voters reject the strategic argument to "have someone in government" before, I think it is more likely the seat will be decided by voter impressions of the incumbent.

Franklin (Labor, 10.7%)

Geography: An oddly shaped electorate containing the eastern shore Hobart suburbs within the Clarence council area, and also the Kingston area, D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon Valley areas on the other side of the river.

History: Franklin has been won by Labor at every election since the 1993 retirement of Bruce Goodluck, who had held the seat for the Liberals since 1975 (often by force of personality or electorate work rather than by party identification).  Franklin attracts a high Greens vote, but not enough to threaten to win the seat.

Incumbent: Julie Collins is a four-term incumbent who served as a Minister in various portfolios (including Social Services) under both Gillard and Rudd in the 2010-13 parliament.  She is currently Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, having been Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Employment Services in the previous parliament.

ReachTEL polling in the 2016 leadup showed quite strong personal ratings for Collins but also a fairly high non-recognition rate, suggesting that her profile had been low in Opposition.  I am not aware of any more recent polling of her approval.  Aside from a tongue-tied press conference in 2010 (used by the Liberals in an attack ad in 2013) I am unaware of Collins receiving any distinctively negative publicity as an MP.  She has been blessed by having trouble-plagued Liberal opponents at the last two elections, but would have been re-elected at both anyway.

Liberal Candidate: The Liberal candidate is Dean Young, a newsagent and qualified accountant who also holds a diploma in law.  Young was a Liberal candidate for Clark (then Denison) at the 2018 state election polling 1260 votes, the lowest for a major party candidate in that seat.  (Young lives in Bellerive, in Franklin, but his business is in Glenorchy in Clark).

Other Candidates:

Kit Darko (Greens): activist (climate change etc), software developer, self-described vegan, "anarcho-#communist" who has described the current Prime Minister as a "vile excuse for a human".
Darren Winter (United Australia Party): bakehouse owner, high-profile General Manager of Lauderdale Football Club and multi-premiership-winning (and sometimes controversial) local football coach
Darren Hawes (Fraser Anning's Conservative Nationals), electrical contractor

The ballot order is Green, Liberal, FACN, Labor, UAP.

Polling:

1. EMRS sub-200 vote sample Dec 2018 ALP 44 Liberal 33 Green 14.  I estimate 2PP at 60.6 to ALP by last-election preferences.  Samples of this size are extremely unreliable.

Assessment: Labor retain.  Zzzzzzz.  In Franklin the minor party candidates in Franklin are more entertaining than the majors, with the Liberals selecting a safer candidate after their misadventures with Bernadette "Hey there rockstar" Black and of course Markham.  However Young is no world-beater based on his Denison result and there is no reason to expect any significant decline in Labor's margin.

Lyons (Labor, 3.8%)

Geography: A mainly rural seat including the large regional town of New Norfolk, the fringes of Hobart and Launceston, and numerous small towns dotted across the centre and east of the state.  Lyons has a sharply north-south voting divide, with the northern part much more pro-Liberal.

History: Partly because of the difficulty of building name recognition in a seat with so many scattered communities, Lyons (formerly Wilmot) had only three incumbents (two Labor, one Liberal) between 1946 and 2013. Long-serving Labor MP Dick Adams was dislodged by the nation's largest swing caused by anger over the state's forestry "peace deal" in 2013 (having survived a similar scare in 2004) but his replacement Eric Hutchinson lasted only one term before Labor recovered the seat.

Incumbent:  A former journalist/editor and later media consultant, Brian Mitchell did not fit the mould of a typical winner of this rural seat at all, but he did at least have one or more appropriate hats.  Preselected two years in advance of the 2016 election, Mitchell worked the electorate and was rewarded when he dislodged Hutchinson with a 3.5% swing.  He is a member of Labor's Country Caucus.

Mitchell is a larrikin who unsurprisingly adapted well to parliamentary rough and tumble, being Labor's sixth most frequently suspended MP in this term.  In one instance he had to apologise after extending this behaviour to a journalist challenging Keay about her citizenship status.  (The audio is indistinct and Mitchell has denied that he used the word "maggot" as claimed by the ABC.)

Liberal Candidate: The Liberal candidate is Jessica WhelanWhelan is a first-term Brighton councillor, having been elected 6th out of 9 candidates for her council in 2018.  Whelan is a former restaurant owner with a background in "aged care, HR, hospitality and more recently in property."
Whelan is the first female major party candidate ever selected for Lyons.  Little is known to me of Whelan's politics although former Liberal candidate and later "independent liberal" MLC Tony Mulder has described her as moderate.  Whelan states she is somewhere "in between" small-l Liberals and Christian conservatives in the party, and not religious herself.

On 16 April Whelan stated she supported an increase in the Newstart allowance. According to the Mercury's Emily Baker " She later clarified she’d learned about the energy bonus “which is great and addresses my concerns” ".  (Mitchell also supported increasing the Newstart allowance.)

Other Candidates:

Gary Whisson (Greens), Lyons branch convenor, ecologist formerly working for WA Environmental Protection Authority
Mick Warne (United Australia Party), finance broker (Buyers Choice), previously in telecommunications
Tennille Murtagh (One Nation), Brighton councillor and local community worker (see profile here)
Deanna Hutchinson (Nationals), technologist, CEO of Spatial Industries Business Association.

The ballot order is Nationals, Labor, Greens, PHON, Liberal, UAP.

Polling:

1. EMRS sub-200 vote sample Dec 2018 ALP 43 Liberal 32 Green 10.  I estimate 2PP at 60% to ALP by last-election preferences.  Samples of this size are extremely unreliable.

Assessment: Very likely Labor retain.  Lyons has only been won once by the Liberals since 1993 and kicking incumbents out of it is hard work.  Whelan was only preselected in February with little existing profile and very little time to build it.  While I have seen no polling on his standing, journalists have told me Mitchell is considered popular in the seat, which may explain the Liberals' tardiness in finding an opponent.  The redistribution has also assisted Mitchell by increasing his margin.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Poll Roundup: Well-Received Budget Yields A Kitten-Sized Bounce (Maybe)

2PP Aggregate: 52.5 to Labor (2016 preferences) (-0.5 in a week)
(51.9 with One Nation adjustment)
Labor would win election "held now", with seat tally around the low 80s

Equal best polling position for Coalition under Morrison so far
Budget reception among the best ever in some regards, but not all
Weak evidence that there may have been a "Budget bounce" of around half a point, but impossible to confirm

----------------------------------------------------------------

The 2019 Budget has been delivered with the election expected to be called sometime in the next week.  This year's budget was in most ways well-received, although the voters have not bought the Government's attacks on the ability of the Opposition to deliver the same thing.  There was remarkably little polling in the leadup to the Budget, so it's hard to say for sure if we have seen that rare creature the Budget bounce or not, but if we have seen it, it's probably only a little one.  We can't yet reliably conclude that the modest move to the government this week is caused by the Budget at all as opposed to other factors.  As it isn't statistically significant, it may even just be random noise.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Fraser Anning, How-To-Vote Cards And Bad Electoral Reform Proposals

Senator Fraser Anning has not endeared himself to most of Australian politics in his short Senate career.  Elected on a special count as a replacement for One Nation's Malcolm Roberts, he left One Nation amid mutual distrust very soon after his arrival.  He then joined Katter's Australian Party before being kicked out of that for being too extreme.  His scorecard includes use of the term "final solution" in his maiden speech, blaming the Christchurch massacre on the fact that Muslims were allowed to migrate to New Zealand (huh?) and proudly attending neo-Nazi rallies.

I've seen a lot of discussion about Anning and how he got into the Senate, and I've noticed two trends that I think need to be dealt with.  One is that a commentator, hellbent on preventing any future Annings from getting into the Senate, comes up with an electoral or parliamentary reform proposal that would either have prevented Anning getting into the Senate the way he did, or else at least allowed for his expulsion as soon as they got there.  Then, because they've found something that would get rid of future Annings, they promote this idea without thinking through any greater problems it might cause.  The second, though I haven't seen so much of it just yet, is that a commentator who already has some electoral reform proposal they want to support, looks for some way they can argue for it by making a point about Fraser Anning.

Legislative Council 2019: Montgomery

Montgomery (Lib vs IND 5.49% - pre-redistribution margin)
Incumbent: Leonie Hiscutt (Liberal)

Welcome to the third of my three Legislative Council guide pages this year.  The one for the most interesting-looking contest, the Nelson vacancy, has been doing business for some time, and Pembroke was posted a few days back.  I will be updating my voting patterns assessment as well but am waiting for the upcoming session to complete in view of the lack of data in the last 12 months so far, so I expect to do that update in the third week of April.

And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election,  Saturday May 4th.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

(Note: candidates may contact me once only to request a change to the link their name goes to, or additional links which will be added, or not, at my discretion.  No other changes will be made on request except to correct clear factual errors.  Candidates are welcome to comment in the comment section. Differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material.)

Seat Profile

Montgomery (see map) is a regional/rural electorate on the north-west coast.  Following a recent redistribution, it includes the Central Coast municipality with the large town of Ulverstone and the town of Penguin, the western side of Kentish municipality including the rural town of Sheffield, and the south-eastern suburbs of Burnie.  It also includes a large number of small rural and bush localities.

The redistribution, removing much of Burnie from the seat, has made the new Montgomery a very conservative electorate at state elections.  At the 2018 state election the Liberal Party recorded 55.6% of the primary vote, Labor 28.9%, the Jacqui Lambie Network 6.4%, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers 2.3% and the Greens a mere 3.9%.   The Liberals topped every single booth and failed to break 50% in just four (three of them in what of Burnie remains in the electorate).  This was despite some significant swings against the party on the primary vote in small hinterland booths.  However, in a sign of how Tasmanians separate state and federal elections, the seat wasn't especially conservative at its most recent federal outings.  The combined 2PP from the 2018 Braddon by-election (where there was basically no 2PP swing) and, for the two Lyons booths, 2016 was actually 51.9% to Labor - basically the Braddon average.

Montgomery has had only two representatives in its 20-year existence, the fairly conservative independent Sue Smith and now the Liberal incumbent.  It straddles parts of the former divisions of Meander and West Devon, which were both never won by party-endorsed candidates.  The independents who won them, however, included some who were so reactionary that they continued to oppose repealing Tasmania's ridiculous and appalling anti-gay laws of the time, even when most of the parliamentary Liberal Party was in favour of repealing said laws.

The Central Coast has changed greatly since those days, but it's still hardly a socialist's paradise.  Labor's campaign at the 2018 state election fell flat here in an area that will long be much more concerned about jobs, jobs, jobs than inner city preoccupations such as getting rid of poker machines.

Incumbent

Leonie Hiscutt (Liberal) (Facebook, parliament page, candidacy announcement) is defending the seat for the first time.  Hiscutt contested Braddon for the Liberals at the 2010 state election, polling a solid 2715 votes.  She was then preselected for Montgomery, a vacancy on the retirement of Sue Smith.  Hiscutt polled 45.9% in a field of four, and although preference flows quite strongly favoured her main opponent Cheryl Fuller, Hiscutt was much too far ahead to be caught.

Hiscutt had a background in farming and as a tourism operator and had been President of the Central Coast Chamber of Commerce before her election.  She is also a marriage celebrant.  In 2017 she became Leader for the Government and at least initially relied heavily on advisers, lacking her predecessor Vanessa Goodwin's legal background.  Hiscutt was much more conservative on social issues than Goodwin, and unabashedly describes her politics simply with the word "Conservative" on Facebook.  In material available online, Hiscutt runs heavily on her credentials and local connections with relatively few policy comments.  She has flagged support for small business as a priority.

Differences of political opinion aside, some controversy involving Hiscutt in her first term has centred on complex road access disputes involving properties owned by the Hiscutt family.  One dispute, involving a long-term member of her own party, resulted in a complaint to the Integrity Commission.  The complaint was dismissed, but Labor has suggested the matter should be reopened.  Recently a second complaint was aired in local media. 

The Hiscutt name is prominent in the area's politics.  Hiscutt's husband's uncle Hugh Hiscutt was MLC for West Devon 1983-1995.  He was succeeded by his brother Des Hiscutt from 1995-1999 (the last two years as MLC for the short-lived Emu Bay division).  Leonie Hiscutt lives at Howth, within the electorate.

Hiscutt has attracted some criticism from Labor for having a sign for an independent federal election candidate (an unsuccessful aspirant for Liberal preselection) on her property, as well as a sign for the official Liberal candidate.

Challengers

Michelle Rippon (Labor) (candidacy announcement) is the first endorsed Labor candidate for this electorate.  Rippon has been a primary school teacher for around 30 years, currently teaching in Devonport just outside the electorate.  She is an Australian Education Union branch councillor who was named as delegate of the year last year.  Rippon is campaigning on a wide range of issues including teacher pay rises, cost of living pressures, jobs, health care, education and training, and community wellbeing.  Rippon's preselection was announced in December last year.  A quick impression from videos online is that Rippon is a very direct campaigner who doesn't mess about when it comes to attacking the Hodgman government, which she accuses of governing for some of the voters but not all of them.

I am unaware of Rippon having any previous electoral form.  Also, while she is a long-standing resident of the North-West Coast, I am not sure at this stage whether or not she lives within the electorate.

Cheryl Fuller (Independent) (candidacy announcement, council page) was the main challenger to Hiscutt in 2013. Fuller was a Central Coast councillor from 2007-2014 including as Deputy Mayor from 2011-2014.  She works in a small manufacturing business.  In 2018 she returned to the Council running second on the councillor ballot and a narrow second on the mayoral ballot, defeated 48-52 by former federal Liberal candidate Garry Carpenter.  Fuller is also a former Cradle Coast Advisory Chair and at one time a staffer for Jacqui Lambie.  She has no known current party links but at one stage joined the Palmer United Party (prior to its split with Lambie).

As of the 2013 election, Fuller self-described as "somewhere in the middle" politically.  At that election she supported state-based same-sex marriage and the forestry peace deal, and was attacked by the Liberals during the campaign over these stances.  Fuller is running on the independence of the Legislative Council, but is also suggesting it needs to become more interventionist, for instance in the current public sector wages dispute.  She has also promoted more scrutiny of government business enterprises and environmental issues including waste management and water use. Fuller lives at West Ulverstone, within the electorate.

Brenton Jones (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) (candidacy announcement, linkedin) was also a Shooters candidate for Braddon at the state election, polling 330 votes; the party as a whole polled 2.5% in Braddon.  He is a launch master and marine engineer who currently works transporting people on Lake St Clair and has previously worked in similar jobs on the west coast and overseas.  He holds various relevant Australian Maritime College qualifications.  Jones' campaign announcement runs a basically populist line against inequalities of power and influence, and also argues that tourism should be able to co-exist with industries such as forestry and fish-farming without conflict.  Jones hails from Melrose, just outside the electorate.

Issues

Issues being raised in the campaign will be noted here as I become aware of them.

Public service pay:  A Labor campaign in this seat with an AEU candidate ensures that the current issue of public service pay is on the agenda for Montgomery.  Stop-work meetings have been called in various sectors of the public service (including schools in this area in early April) as part of a campaign for greater pay rises.  The AEU is seeking a 3% pay rise per year for teachers for the next three years while the government has offered 2%, 2.5% and 2.5% for the three years, an offer which has been rejected.

Mt Roland Cableway: The proposed cableway and bike track development for Mt Roland is much less controversial than its kunanyi/Mt Wellington cousin, but it still has a modest collection of opponents anyway.  These have been slammed by Hiscutt who rarely misses an opportunity to get stuck into forces that she considers to be anti-development.

(Hiscutt has also tried to link Labor to Greens positions on the environment and other matters more generally, but the Greens were not impressed, accusing Labor of being AWOL on the environment.)

Campaign

Notes on the campaign will be added here if I become aware of anything worth mentioning - though I don't expect to be in this electorate during the election (unlike the other two).  The election is likely to be overshadowed by the federal election. For this reason, among others, Labor's decision to preselect and start running well out from the election makes sense.  Labor doorknocking teams including various MPs both state and federal have been out and about for some time, while Hiscutt has done some doorknocking around parliamentary commitments.

Prospects

My first thought in looking at the state results for this seat was that one could just about call it off the redistribution, but it isn't quite that simple.

The lopsided result in the redistributed seat at the state election suggests Hiscutt should hold Montgomery easily unless Labor can succeed in fundamentally changing the nature of the contest.  Federal results show the seat isn't beyond hope for Labor, but Tasmanians normally strongly separate federal and state issues.  Unless they stop doing so, or unless there is a massive by-election style backlash against the Liberals, then Hiscutt will retain.  And indeed, incumbents usually do retain in these elections, though a few have been kicked out in recent years.

Labor do have factors in their favour.  Firstly, unlike in 2013, Hiscutt no longer has the advantage of tilting against a Labor-Green state government that was greatly disliked in the region.  Secondly, unlike at the 2018 state election, Labor has abandoned its poker machines policy, so we may get to see what a Labor campaign free of that distraction (and the third-party spending against them that came with it) looks like.  Thirdly, if there was ever an opportunity to transfuse federal issues into a Legislative Council campaign this would have to be it.  But there are plenty of Tasmanian voters who are very capable of voting Liberal one week (or fortnight) in one election, and Labor at the next. And it is likely that Hiscutt's 2013 result would have been even stronger (probably over 60:40) had her main opposition been Labor rather than an independent.

Fuller's candidacy - announced only on the day nominations close - will be an interesting test of how those voters who did not vote for the Liberals last time see the issue of independence in the Legislative Council.  Rippon has been running prominently for months so even a close battle for second would have to give Labor cause for concern (should that occur).  Fuller is well established in the area's politics and shouldn't be taken lightly but may struggle to get traction with less than a month's campaign amid the noise of the federal election.

I'm expecting Hiscutt to retain.  If the margin is about the same as last time and Labor is second, then there's nothing to see here.  If it "swings" substantially to either party, that's a pretty good result for the party that it swings to - but not too much should be read into it unless it falls or is seriously close, or on the other hand is over say 58-42.  (Or, in Labor's case, if they don't make the final two at all.)

These comments may be revised if significant independent candidates emerge.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Pembroke

PEMBROKE (ALP vs Lib 7.45% - pre-redistribution by-election margin)
Incumbent: Jo Siejka (ALP)

Welcome to the second of my three Legislative Council guide pages this year.  The one for the most interesting-looking contest, the Nelson vacancy, has been doing business for some time, and the guide for Montgomery is now up too.  I will be updating my voting patterns assessment as well but am waiting for the upcoming session to complete in view of the lack of data in the last 12 months so far, so I expect to do that update in the third week of April.

And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election, expected to be Saturday May 4th.

This piece will be edited through the campaign from time to time for updates, campaign information, added candidates and changed assessments.

(Note: candidates may contact me once only to request a change to the link their name goes to, or additional links which will be added, or not, at my discretion.  No other changes will be made on request except to correct clear factual errors.  Candidates are welcome to comment in the comment section. Differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material.)

Seat Profile

Pembroke (see map) is a small suburban seat that falls entirely within the City of Clarence on Hobart's eastern shore.  The electorate extends from Tranmere in the south to Geilston Bay in the north.  A redistribution has removed the most pro-Labor booth of Risdon Vale, making the seat about 0.7% closer "on paper" than the 7.45% margin from last time.  However, that's an unreliable margin anyway (see below). The suburb of Tranmere is wealthy and Liberal-leaning, Warrane is blue-collar and good for Labor, and the rest is all middle suburbia, with a fairly high Green vote in Bellerive.  At the 2018 state election Labor picked up swings from both Liberals and Greens in Pembroke, with the Liberals polling 47.4%, Labor 39.2% and the Greens 11.2%.  (These votes do not include postal votes, which tend to favour the Liberals.)  That places the seat somewhat on the left side of the Tasmanian average, but not hugely so.  The Liberal vote would have been boosted by Premier Hodgman's huge personal vote, so in 2PP terms the seat might be considered a little bit ALP-leaning.

Pembroke is a swing seat that has been held by both major parties back and forth in the last 30 years, with a brief independent interruption.  The resignation of the late Vanessa Goodwin for health reasons in 2017 resulted in the Pembroke by-election (see guide, see coverage thread).  This was a three-cornered contest between the Liberals' James Walker (a local councillor), Labor's Jo Siejka and the local mayor Doug Chipman, an independent and former Liberal Party state director.  In scenes that had seasoned Tasmanian politicos reeling, the Liberals attacked Chipman over his age and lifestyle, and seemed more concerned about beating him than beating Labor.  The attack succeeded in getting Walker into second by a very small margin, but destroyed any hope of a friendly preference flow from the mayor.  The Liberals were thrashed on the 2PP count (Chipman vs Labor would have been 52.4% to Labor) and later apologised.

Incumbent

Jo Siejka (ALP) (Facebook, Twitter, candidacy announcement)  is the most recently elected of the four Labor MLCs.  Prior to winning Pembroke, Siejka had no previous electoral form that I could find.  She had earlier been the CEO of the Youth Network of Tasmania, Chair of the National Youth Coalition for Housing, and a board member of TasTAFE.  In a recent Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, Siejka was promoted to be Shadow Minister for Disability and Shadow Minister for Ageing.  The Ageing portfolio is especially relevant to the Pembroke electorate, which does not have a high average age overall but which has some suburbs (eg Lindisfarne) with high retired populations. In 2017, Siejka polled 32.4% of primaries in a field of 7 candidates, and received 54% of preferences to just 36.5% for Walker, with the rest exhausting.

Siejka's brief parliamentary career so far has been uncontroversial, but she has often been seen as surprisingly low-profile, especially in contrast to neighbouring MLC Sarah Lovell.  Siejka has had a lot more media over the last six months but she would still not be on the list of Labor household names across Tasmania generally.  She has flagged health services, TAFE, penalty rate cuts and cost of living pressures as issues of concern. Siejka lives within the electorate.

Challengers

Kristy Johnson (Liberal) (Facebook, linkedinACL questionnaire, candidacy announcement) is the owner-manager of the all-female 24-hour Fernwood Gym in Bellerive (within the electorate), and also of Glenorchy Health and Fitness, and has 20 years' involvement in the fitness industry.  Johnson, not to be confused with Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston, contested Denison (now Clark) for the Liberals at the 2018 state election, polling a very respectable 3234 votes at the first attempt.  Her vote was far higher in the Glenorchy booths than the Hobart booths, but this was probably caused by Sue Hickey being the former Lord Mayor for the latter rather than the name-confusion issue.

As of the state election Johnson lived in West Moonah, on the other side of the river. Johnson has flagged support for parents, education and literacy and a 20-year infrastructure plan as issues.

Tony Mulder (Independent) (Twitter) was MLC for the adjacent seat of Rumney from 2011 until his rather narrow defeat by Labor's Sarah Lovell in 2017.  Mulder is a former police commander and was a Liberal state election candidate in Franklin in 2010; for more on the complex history of his association with the Liberal Party see my Rumney preview.  After contesting Prosser (where he finished a disappointing fourth with 9.7%, well behind competing independent Steve Mav), Mulder romped back onto Clarence Council, polling second on primaries for Councillor and also finishing second to incumbent Chipman in the mayoral contest (44:56).

I've rehashed my description of Mulder as a forthright and somewhat grumpy contrarian with small-l liberal/libertarian tendencies often enough that anyone interested can click on the Rumney link above for more details.  At this election Mulder is describing his position as of the "sensible centre" and a moderating influence over party politics, and is running especially on the independence of the Upper House.  Other issues flagged by Mulder include a proposal for a new hospital at Cambridge, cost of living issues, public sector wage setting and poker machines.  On the latter Mulder's position is unusual in a very polarised debate - he supports the freedom to gamble but also supports stopping addictive programming, reducing the house edge and stopping "the government rake-off". Mulder lives in Howrah, within the electorate.

Ron Cornish (Independent) (candidacy announcement) was a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly for 22 years.  First elected to Braddon for the Liberal Party in 1976, Cornish was a solid electoral performer for the party who was re-elected in Braddon six times, generally comfortably, though he never polled a quota in his own right.  Cornish held 14 different portfolios at various times (see list), most prominently Attorney-General in the Ray Groom government.  He was one of six Liberals to vote against gay law reform in 1997. He has remained vocal about gun control, introduced by the Rundle government following the Port Arthur massacre and recently topical.  Cornish lives at Rose Bay, within the electorate.

Cornish quit the party in 2014 after Tony Abbott decided not to proceed with changes to racial discrimination law (the "18C" controversy). He appears to be running to the right of the party on "political correctness" issues, and is also opposed to the Lower House's recent amendments concerning genders on birth certificates.  His campaign has created some bemusement because its centrepiece is opposition to federal Labor's franking credits changes. This is a federal issue of concern to quite a few Pembrokers (disclosure: especially my dad!) but which a Tasmanian MLC could have no impact on even if they were declared elected before the federal election.  The Cornish campaign continues a trend of nostalgia candidates, with a few names from the past also cropping up in Prosser last year.

Carlo di Falco (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) (announcement).  is from Forcett in the adjacent electorate of Rumney and also ran for Pembroke in 2017, polling 3.1% (which was actually more than I expected in an area where the SF+F normally poll poorly).  He is a target shooter, hunter and gun collector.  A previous bio said he has "been involved in the State National Service Rifle discipline for 6 years hosting a National event in the position of discipline chair in 2013." He has written op eds in the Mercury arguing against gun control and to raise concerns about restrictions being placed on gun owners because of thefts.  He has also appeared on Tasmania Talks.

At this election, di Falco has flagged support for "proscribed" (I think he means prescribed) burnoffs in the wilderness World Heritage Area, strengthening whistleblower legislation and increasing funding for the Ombudsman and Integrity Commission. He has also flagged an intention to work for better mental and preventative health services, and to better represent "rural voters".  (There are no rural voters in Pembroke, though I think I've seen the odd sheep round the edges.)

Not Running

Perennial candidate Hans Willink has taken the Sherman pledge on this one with the memorable line "the more people get to know me, the less they appear to like me."

Also out: Chipman, Richard James, Bill Harvey.

The Greens have shown no signs of interest in what is not a very strong area for them.

Issues

Some of the issues canvassed in the Nelson campaign may also crop up here.  Some others to be raised in this one are as follows:

Traffic Congestion: Traffic is a long-running issue on the Eastern Shore and was a factor in the fall of neighbouring Rumney to the ALP in 2017.  Labor has accused the government of inaction on the issue, with Siejka bringing up the Mornington roundabout as an example.  The same roundabout was also a political football when Goodwin won the seat with Labor in office back in 2009.

Balance of the Legislative Council: The Liberals are likely to continue the tactic seen at many recent Council elections of trying to attack perceived obstruction of the Government's mandate in the Upper House by Labor and the four left-wing independents.  Johnson refers to these eight on Facebook as the " 🛑/ bloc    " (highlight the red x and look what happens!)  So far the Liberals really haven't had a lot of success with this message, though perhaps that's just because they haven't found the right Facebook icons previously.

Other issues will be added as I notice them.

Campaign

Notes on anything interesting in the campaign, if there is anything, may be added.  I expect this to be a sleepier affair than 2017.  Overshadowing by the federal election will not help with getting media publicity for campaign matters, and in comparison to Nelson this seat has already been pretty much ignored.

The Liberal Party's messaging is interesting - the bio of Johnson leads not with her career achievements but with her status as a single mother and experience of single-parent family struggles.  This is a tactic much more often seen from the left.  It may be a pitch to the lower-income parts of the electorate but may also be a strategy to put distance between this campaign and the last one.

Siejka appears to have a serious advantage in ground game.  She has been doorknocking for some time (not just in the immediate leadup), and has had small doorknocking teams out with thousands of residents already contacted as of mid-February.  Johnson in contrast was not preselected until early March.

I have heard that Mulder signs are common in the electorate, Siejka signs are fairly common and Johnson signs are rare.  I intend to do my own signage survey of part of the electorate before the election.

The Liberals have attracted criticism for including two policies together under the heading "Protecting your children".  One of the policies is described as "Mandatory sentencing for pedophiles" and the other as "Against removal of gender on birth certificates".  Leaving aside that both these criticisms are misleading, the placing of the two together implies that making gender an opt-in field on birth certificates is somehow a threat to children that deserves bracketing with sexual abuse. 

Prospects

Labor's biggish margin from 2017 is an inflated baseline.  Aside from the redistribution that has removed Risdon Vale, the 2017 margin owed much to the high-risk nature of the Liberal campaign that resulted in them having no friends in the preference flow.  It's possible that the by-election being called a by-election also had something to do with it (though in some ways all LegCo elections have a by-election flavour), but a straight Liberal-Labor contest without Chipman on the scene would have been a lot closer.

Given the relatively close Chipman vs Labor 2CP last time it could be that Mulder vs Labor would be a problem for Labor if Mulder can make the final two and then benefit from Liberal preferences.  Mulder could poll a good vote here on his home Council turf but I doubt he will beat Chipman's 20% (at least not by much if so).  So for the moment I am expecting it to be another Labor-Liberal two candidate contest -  and that Labor will retain.  If so, it might or might not be closer than last time (incumbency is a pretty big advantage in these things).  I will be surprised if it is super-close.