Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another One's Gone: Rene Hidding Resignation And Replacement

Just another post to cover off on another Hare-Clark recount coming up for the Tasmanian House Of Assembly.

Former Opposition Leader Rene Hidding has resigned from parliament in dramatic circumstances. This comes days after Matthew Denholm in The Australian published reports that an unnamed woman had made historic sexual abuse claims and various related claims against an unnamed man (who could be identified by elimination, based on the details provided, as being Hidding).  Hidding has very strongly denied the accusations and has counter-claimed that his accuser has fabricated the claims in order to cause him damage as part of a family dispute.  He also says he intends to seek redress against The Australian, though the article did report that he had denied all aspects of the allegations.

Whatever the truth of these matters (a subject on which I have no information) Rene Hidding is entitled to be presumed innocent.  Having to fight these accusations is obviously a major distraction, and he was expected to retire from politics at the end of this term if not before anyway.  The claims also have a political dimension because Denholm reported the accuser as having claimed to have reported the matter to police in 2014, but Denholm also said the police had no record of this.  For much of 2014, the Police Minister was Rene Hidding - so had he remained in parliament it is likely the Opposition would have hammered the government about this aspect of the claims, and conspiracy theories would have flourished. [Update: The woman involved now says she first contacted police in 2013, when Labor's David O'Byrne was Police Minister.]

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Legislative Council 2019: Nelson

I've decided to start my 2019 guide to the Legislative Council division of Nelson early this year.  Firstly, I need to clear some decks for other things ahead of a very busy period ahead.  Secondly there is great interest in the contest already, and thirdly I don't have to wait until the final pre-election sittings to tell you anything about the voting patterns of the incumbent, since (i) the incumbent is the current President and doesn't vote (ii) the incumbent is retiring.  I will be updating my Legislative Council voting patterns assessment (last edition here) but for the time being there's not much to add, as there were only eight contested votes in all of 2018.  I will also have pages for the other two seats, Montgomery and Pembroke, some time not later than early April.  And there will be live coverage here of all three seats on the night of the election, on Saturday May 4th, and through the inevitable postcount.

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

Other guides are linked here:

Pembroke
Montgomery

Seat Profile

The now rather oddly-shaped Nelson (see map) is an urban and urban-fringe electorate in Hobart's south.  Nelson includes the Hobart suburbs of Sandy Bay, Mt Nelson,  Waimea Heights, Taroona and parts of Dynnyrne, and the Kingborough suburbs of Kingston, Maranoa Heights and part of Blackmans Bay.

Historically, the winners of this seat and its main predecessor Queenborough have been conservative independents, some of them in name only and linked to the Liberal Party.  That's no surprise as  Nelson used to be a rather conservative seat, albeit one with a high Green vote.  However, that's changed a bit recently, and at the last state election, the Liberal Party polled 46.5% (about four points below the state average) in Nelson booths.  Labor polled 32.9% (about the state average) and the Greens 18.8% (eight and a half points above).  It's still a conservative and Green-leaning seat compared to the rest of what is now Clark (ex-Denison) but that's really not saying much.

Nelson has some very "blue" booths (a mix of affluence around Lower Sandy Bay and bible belt at Maranoa Heights).  But it also has some very Green booths, notably Taroona, and also Dynnyrne and Mt Nelson.  The Greens finished a distant second in both 2007 and 2013, though in 2007 they were the only opposition.

Retiring Incumbent

Jim Wilkinson is retiring after four terms.  A former VFL footballer, state cricketer and well-known broadcaster, and also a lawyer, Wilkinson was very strongly connected within the electorate and probably unbeatable at all times in his 24-year career.  Wilkinson has generally been a moderate conservative, which made him one of the council's more left-leaning members when he first arrived, but placed him slightly to the right of centre later on.  Political leanings became irrelevant when he took over the Presidency soon after his 2013 re-election, since when he's only voted to break ties.  An affable MLC, Wilkinson has rarely been at all controversial.

In the three cases where a final two-candidate margin involving Wilkinson was obtained, he got between 58.3% and 62% of the vote, and he probably would have been somewhere around the lower end of that range in 2013 had all preferences been thrown.  In 2013 a determined attempt by left-wing "third-party" groups to unseat the incumbent forced him to make an effort but it was ultimately all to no avail, with opponents left to boast about a primary vote swing against him that was meaningless given he had three opponents instead of just one low-profile Green.

Wilkinson was personally endorsed by Premier Will Hodgman on Twitter prior to the 2013 election, but never ran as a party candidate.

Candidates (10)

The following candidates, in order of announcing that they were at least considering running, have announced their intention to contest.  (If a candidate has a website, then their name is a link to their website.) All candidates are running as independents unless specified otherwise, but candidates may have party backgrounds.

(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.)

Blair Brownless (candidacy announcement, linkedin) is a teacher, sports commentator and former Clarence footballer.  He is currently Director of Organisation at Guilford Young College, a Hobart school, and has also worked in careers awareness for the Education Department and as a sporting administrator.

Little is known of Brownless' political views beyond his statements on the campaign trail, and I am not aware of him having any party background.  His initial pitch included commuter ferries, a satellite hospital at Kingston, and openness to supporting a cable car on kunanyi/Mt Wellington. He currently lives at Seven Mile Beach, well outside the electorate, though says he has lived "all over Hobart".  Brownless is the brother of Geelong AFL great Billy Brownless.

Richard Griggs (candidacy announcement, Twitter) is a lawyer and board member of the Hobart Community Law Service.  He is state Director of Civil Liberties Australia and a former state public service advisor and policy officer.  He was fairly briefly head of office for Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor in 2015-6 and was also an advisor to the ACT Greens' Shane Rattenbury. He is not currently a member but received support from many Greens in his 2018 run for the seat of Hobart, in which he finished a distant but more than respectable second behind Rob Valentine, polling 25.6% on primaries and 39% two-candidate preferred.

Griggs is a well-known campaigner for a state Human Rights Act, a proposal that is supported by the Labor and Green Opposition parties but rejected by the Government.  Griggs has promoted free bus transport between Hobart and Kingston during peak hour to attempt to ease traffic congestion.  Griggs works in the electorate but lives outside it in New Town.

Madeleine Ogilvie (candidacy announcement, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) was a Labor MHA from 2014 to 2018.  Ogilvie was elected to state parliament for Denison at the second attempt in 2014, polling 2156 primary votes, with Green preferences giving her the nod ahead of veteran Julian Amos.  In 2018 she polled 4340 votes but was ousted by within-party challenger Ella Haddad.  Ogilvie's single term was rather turbulent, with some surprisingly heated public exchanges (example) with the left of the party. These were mostly over her comparatively conservative positions on social issues of Catholic concern.  However she is also noted for pro-refugee positions and was an early mover within Labor on poker machines.

Ogilvie is a practising barrister and solicitor and a Masters candidate in Space Law, and has a classically Generation-Xish collection of unusual career achievements.  An always quirky and different candidate in terms of campaigning style, Ogilvie has resigned from Labor and says she is running as a "true independent" with an intention to review/improve rather than block government legislation.  Ogilvie lives in South Hobart and is just outside the electorate as a result of a previous redistribution.

Deborah Brewer (Tasmanian Greens) (candidacy announcement, Facebook) is the endorsed Greens candidate.  Brewer was a minor Greens candidate for Franklin at the 2010 state election, polling 478 votes.  She has a background in social work and education and recently submitted a PhD thesis "looking at youth-at-risk and ensuring young people have opportunities in education." according to the Mercury. She has worked as a social worker in East Timor (as a volunteer), the Northern Territory  for the Defence Department and Christmas Island and has been a teacher of community work in Hobart for over fifteen years.

Brewer currently works in Children and Youth services for the state government and has stressed climate change, housing and transport issues. She is also a former teacher at TasTAFE.  Brewer lives in Sandy Bay, within the electorate.

Meg Webb (candidacy announcement, Facebook, linkedin, Twitter) is the head of Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre and a prominent campaigner for poker machine reform. Webb has also worked for the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCoSS) and in community aged care for the Salvation Army.  I am unaware of her having any party background.

Webb is high-profile and has had dozens of media mentions in recent years, including being rated in the Mercury's 2017 list of 100 most powerful people in Tasmania (one place ahead of Ruth Forrest MLC!) and even appearing as a statistically typical Tasmanian (which will cease to be the case if she wins this.)  She doesn't appear to have any past political form, and has given her priorities as "future-proofing Tasmania", "transparent honest government" and "lifting the basics above politics".   Webb has tweeted in strong support of the "Tasmanian Electoral Inquiry" coalition which maintains that the 2018 state election may have been stolen as a result of pokies-related donations and third-party spending.  I believe that Webb lives in West Hobart, outside (but not far outside) the electorate.

John "Polly" Farmer (candidacy announcement, Facebook) is a regular cartoonist for The Mercury newspaper, in an unusual case of a cartoonist running for the office they often caricature.  He has been one of the Mercury's most regular cartoonists since the early 1990s.  Farmer has stated he is particularly motivated by the lack of action on restoring the Tasmanian House of Assembly to 35 seats.  (The House was cut from 35 to 25 members in the late 1990s to curb either costs or the Greens, depending on who you listen to.)  Farmer says he has been accused of bias by all parties at some time or other and I am unaware of him having any party background.

Farmer has also cited "health, education, voluntary assisted dying and poker machine legislation" as areas of concern and describes himself as centrist, while also supporting "progressive" government.  He has continued cartooning for presumably no pay on his Facebook page while on leave to contest the election, and has been especially scathing about Labor's recent move away from the poker machine policy it took to the 2018 state election.  Farmer lives within the electorate.

Vica Bayley (candidacy announcement, Facebook, Twitter) is one of Tasmania's highest-profile environmentalists as the state campaign manager for the Wilderness Society.  Bayley was especially prominent during the forests "peace deal" of the Labor-Green government in 2010-4.  He has long worked in conservation, but is also a trained teacher and property valuer.  Although his politics obviously resemble those of the Greens, he he has never been a member of a political party.  Bayley has also supported the "Tasmanian Election Inquiry" group.

Bayley has highlighted trust in politics and climate change as major priorities and has also raised health, traffic congestion, education and poker machines and several other issues (see "priorities" section of website) as issues.  Bayley is a long-term resident of the electorate.

Nic Street (party pagecandidacy announcementTwitter, ACL questionnaire response)  is the endorsed Liberal candidate.  Street is a former Kingborough councillor who ran for the Liberals in 2014 polling 1122 votes.  In March 2016 he was elected on a countback when Paul Harriss resigned his seat.  In the 2018 election Street polled 1907 primary votes (the Liberal vote was very concentrated with Premier Hodgman).  He was defeated by fellow casual-vacancy filler Rosemary Woodruff (Greens) by 226 votes in an exciting cutup.  He has since worked as a staffer for Franklin Liberal MP and minister Jacquie Petrusma.

Street is noted for his outspoken, by Liberal standards, social liberalism on euthanasia and same-sex marriage (see sheep speech) - and was willing to go it alone on such issues on conscience votes.  However, he was a reliable supporter of his party's line on other issues.  His Lower House career was largely uncontentious though a multiply inappropriate tweet sent while a councillor required a string of profuse apologies.  Street ran a family IGA grocer in Blackmans Bay prior to his parliamentary career and is a lifelong resident of Kingston (entirely within) and Blackmans Bay (mostly within) the electorate. However at the ABC candidates forum he was not noted as saying he lives within Nelson, so I suspect he lives just outside it.

Robert Manning (candidacy announcement) is a senior associate at Hobart law firm Murdoch Clarke.  Manning specialises (firm page) in "wills, trusts, powers of attorney, estate planning and domestic and commercial conveyancing" and has said that his legal skills would be valuable to the Legislative Council as the departure of Wilkinson means it no longer has a lawyer on board.  Manning is also President of Diabetes Tasmania and on the board of Diabetes Australia.

Manning has stated he is "passionate about fundamental liberties and reflecting community values" - we will have to see how his campaign develops to see if this refers to any particular issues.  He has also said he is a moderate and concerned about the tribalism of party politics and to preserve the independence of the Upper House.  Manning has lived in Nelson for most of his life.

Lorraine Bennett (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) (candidacy announcement, ACL questionnaire) was announced as a candidate in early March but seems to have escaped general notice.  Bennett is a former recruitment consultant and Human Resources and recruitment manager.  Bennett is the party's state secretary and recently contested Denison at the state election, polling 1.8% in an electorate the party always polls badly in.  She also contested Prosser in 2018, polling 5.6% and finishing fifth.  At both elections her place of residence was given as Granton, which is well to the north of Nelson.

Not Running

Labor, which is defending Pembroke and contesting Montgomery, has not officially endorsed any Nelson candidate.

Issues

Some issues that have featured or may feature in the campaign are as follows.  Whether they are all actually issues that will affect people's voting intentions to the slightest degree is another matter, but they are subjects candidates could make noise about:

* Traffic congestion and transport:  While announcements surrounding the City Deal as concerns the Kingston CBD and bus interchange may take some heat out of this, traffic congestion has been a major problem around Hobart in recent years.  You can see Brownless, Griggs and Ogilvie on the issue on Win TV here.  Ogilvie also had a large op ed in the Mercury proposing tunnels, which was not well received by Greg Barns.

* Poker machines: Labor's apparent abandonment (6:45 onwards) of its 2018 election policy has vacated the field on this issue to the Greens and independents, but Labor doesn't have a candidate anyway.  The government will have to pass whatever it chooses to do with poker machine licenses through the Legislative Council, probably sometime later this year, so the new member will have a big influence on the issue.  At a meeting in Taroona, Brownless defended the balance of the poker machine issue by saying that there were only a couple of poker machine pubs in Nelson, but Webb pointed out that there are nine in a row in Glenorchy (ie they are mainly an issue in lower income areas.)  Signs for Street and Brownless are present on pokie pubs.

* kunanyi/Mt Wellington cable car: While this doesn't appear to be still a state legislation issue (being in the hands of Hobart City Council to assess once an application is assessed) it is likely to be topical through the election period anyway.  The proposed cable car, of which the Government has been generally supportive, is likely to be disliked in Dynnyrne in the far north of the electorate and also in leafy Taroona, but probably plays better in Kingborough.   Currently the company appears to be about to commence drilling works to assist with a long-awaited development application.

At a meeting in Fern Tree in late March, seven candidates were present.  According to the Mercury Street expressed support for the cable car but said that the proponent had failed to take the community with them on the project.  Ogilvie said the cable car should be made a project of state significance and that more discussion was needed.   Remaining candidates (Griggs, Bayley, Brewer, Webb, Farmer) all expressed either opposition or concern, and did so again at the ABC radio forum in April.  Brownless (on record as open to supporting) was not present. However at the ABC radio forum Brownless said he was a "soft yes" but wouldn't want the cable car anywhere near the Organ Pipes.  (Going over the Organ Pipes is a major economic advantage for the proponent because it reduces the number of pylons required.) Bennett is also supportive in principle while Manning has said he would have to see all the information before making a decision.

* Electoral reform: While many of the complaints can be put down to sore loser syndrome from an opposition that failed to strike when the iron was hot, the 2018 lower house election did highlight the lack of regulations on donation disclosure and third-party campaign spending in the state.  The new MLC is likely to have to consider legislation on these issues but may also eventually have to consider opening up Legislative Council elections to more spending and freer third-party participation following the Unions NSW decision.  Prominent pokies opponent Pat Caplice has tweeted that "an abundance" of Nelson candidates turned out at a rally for the "Tasmanian Election Inquiry".

* Anti-protest laws: After the Hodgman Government's first attempt to bring in anti-protest laws to target obstructive green activists was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court, there's been a sequel, but it's been panned by Utas constitutional lawyer Brendan Gogarty.  Griggs has criticised the laws, suggesting they could unwittingly criminalise "an extraordinarily wide range of actions".

* Water quality: The southern half of Blackmans Bay Beach (technically outside the electorate, just) has been closed on and off to swimming in recent months because of contaminated water.  While this sounds more like a local council issue, it is common for these kinds of issues to surface in LegCo campaigns, which often have a "parish pump" feel, albeit less so than they used to.  This issue was the subject of some comments by Griggs to which TasWater responded; others are likely to weigh in if they haven't already.

* Crime: As another example of the "parish pump" aspect, Brownless has published an ad claiming that there is a "crime wave" in Kingston and citing various statistics from the January 2019 Tasmania Police Corporate Performance Report.  Brownless has suggested the police station at Kingston is under-resourced.  Other candidates at the ABC radio forum have slammed these comments as drumming up fear in an area where the Legislative Council has little influence and have said that Kingston is one of the safest places in the state.  However, Street has also weighed in for the crime-concerned vote with the standard Liberal call for "Guaranteed jail for pedophiles", a policy repeatedly rejected by the LegCo (and a slogan repeatedly rejected by anyone with a clue - pedophiles and child sex offenders are often not one and the same.)

* Transgender And Gender-Diversity Reforms: Changes affecting gender registration on birth certificates and anti-discrimination recognition of gender identity were recently passed by the Legislative Council, after Speaker Sue Hickey sided with Labor and the Greens to attach them to a Bill repealing the requirement for divorce for married couples where one partner changes gender.  Because of Legislative Council amendments these reforms are expected back before the House of Assembly.  The first nine listed candidates were asked for a yes/no answer on whether they would have voted in favour on these reforms, with Brownless, Brewer, Webb, Farmer, Bayley and Manning all saying yes, Street saying no, and Griggs and Ogilvie saying they couldn't say as they hadn't read the legislation.

* Dying With Dignity: At the ABC candidates forum, Farmer, Bayley, Bennett, Street, Griggs and Webb all supported dying with dignity legislation (at least in principle) while Ogilvie, Manning and Brownless were opposed or at least very concerned about it.  I didn't hear a comment from Brewer but expect she as a Green would have been supportive too.

Campaign

Many candidates are active early and have been seen doorknocking, probably aiming to get a jump in before the federal election takes over the news cycle, and also given that there is so much competition in this high-profile field.  Ogilvie and Bayley both have campaign offices.  Signs for several candidates went up almost as soon as the writs were issued.

I conducted a signage site survey covering parts of Blackmans Bay, Kingston, Maranoa Heights, Taroona, Lower Sandy Bay, Sandy Bay and Dynnyrne on 16 April and saw the following numbers of sign sites:

17 Bayley
16 Street
13 Brownless, Brewer, Ogilvie
11 Webb
7 Farmer, Griggs
4 Manning
0 Bennett

The very green suburb of Taroona seems to be the epicentre of Bayley support (indeed he lives there). Further south I saw more Brewer signs.

All candidates appeared at the ABC candidate debate (starts 36 mins in).  My subjective impression - ignoring differences of political opinion - was that Bayley was the most impressive with Brownless the least polished of the serious candidates.  Street was generally very good except for one adventure into risky territory on Indigenous attitudes to kunanyi/Mt Wellington (shot down by Webb). Ogilvie was erratic but excellent on some issues.

Street's flier (with an in-your-face "STOP THE LABOR-GREEN BLOCK" declaration on one side) employs interactive content via "augmented reality" - it seems one can download an app and watch the brochure as a video; I haven't tried this.

In a rare example of Legislative Council porkbarrelling, Street obtained publicity from the funding of a feasibility study into a Kingborough swimming pool.

Mercury columnist Greg Barns criticised Ogilvie on Twitter for failing to change her Twitter handle from @OgilvieMP, despite not being a current MP.  Within half an hour of Barns making this criticism for the third time (following two previous such comments several days earlier) Ogilvie's account disappeared, but it has since intermittently been resurfacing and disappearing again.  Barns has continued to criticise Ogilvie over various campaign issues including the use of a list of addresses that he claims came from the Labor Party. The historical background is that Barns (a pro-asylum seeker libertarian and lawyer) endorsed Ogilvie (also a pro-asylum-seeker lawyer) for the 2014 state election only to find that her social-issue positions were anything but libertarian after she was elected.

Implications

While it may seem that the Liberal Party is on a hiding to nothing here with the loss of Wilkinson, (unless Street can win) in practice Wilkinson had not voted except to break ties while they were in office. So if someone even vaguely conservative wins this, the government will be relieved.   Indeed it's rumoured that one of the northern left-wing independents is likely to take the Presidency following the election, so if that's true, the best the broad left can effectively do here is break even, in a seat the left has never won.

Prospects 

This is a large field of candidates, but not a record one. (The record is held by Huon in 1986 with 15, followed by Queenborough (1968 and 1983), Mersey (1990) and Prosser (2018) all with 13.) However it is one of the strongest fields that I have ever seen, and trying to work out who might win is very difficult.  The most serious chances based on profile (and in no particular order) seem to me to be Street, Brownless, Ogilvie and Bayley.  Webb isn't too far behind these while Farmer is a different kind of candidate and it's hard to say what kind of vote he'll poll.

While the obvious winner profile would be that of another Wilkinson (a slightly conservative high-profile independent with strong links to the electorate), no-one running for the seat ticks all the boxes.

At Legislative Council elections since coming to government, the Liberals have tended to hold just over half their state vote.  If that holds up, Street could poll in the mid-20s.  That might prove a little optimistic given the size of the field, but I will still be surprised if the Liberals do not lead on primaries. However, who will make the final two is hard to say.

The Liberals will be aiming to get a huge primary vote lead to avoid being run down on preferences.  A challenge in this regard is that there is not much competition on the right and so there could be a strong enough vote for Brownless for him to be second on primaries not too far behind the Liberals.  However, I'm not sure this will happen.  It may be that enough Liberal voters vote for Ogilvie or one of the clearly left-wing candidates that Brownless doesn't get that high a primary.

In adjacent Huon, Peter Hodgman (Liberal) led Robert Armstrong by 5.7% in 2014 but lost by 13.7%, with preferences splitting 59-25 to Armstrong and the rest exhausting.  There is no Robert Armstrong in this field but the seat is similar in terms of having a high Green vote, and there could be a lot of voters voting all the way to put the Liberals last.  Anything less than a double-digit lead could well be blown away if the final two are Street and Brownless, and Street could also need a big jump if Ogilvie is his final opponent.  However, enough polarisation and pooling of preferences between the many left-wing candidates might see one make the final two, even from a modest primary of 10% or so. This is probably the Liberals' preferred scenario, but they will need to find better tactics than the ageist attack on their main opponent in Pembroke in 2017.

If the Liberals fail to make the final two, which is possible but in my view unlikely, their preferences should hand it to the most moderate candidate who does.

The election will be the sternest possible test for the Greens, coming off a lacklustre state result and with all of Griggs, Bayley and Webb likely to abscond with their votes.  Brewer is a well-credentialed candidate but the independent left candidates are high profile so for the Greens to hold even half their 2013 primary vote would be impressive.  Greens are very prone to having their party vote gouged by even vaguely likeminded independents and in this field there are two very likeminded ones in Griggs and Bayley.  The normal Labor vote may scatter between Ogilvie, Webb, Farmer and Brownless or it may concentrate with Ogilvie to a degree based on her profile as a recent MP.

Bayley seems to be a serious contender (more so than Griggs, who appeals to a pretty similar voter base but lacks Bayley's profile).  Voters in the Clark part of the electorate who will not back endorsed Greens will often vote really heavily for independent candidates with green views - for instance Andrew Wilkie and Anna Reynolds.  It's not clear if voters on the Franklin side share this tendency, but there's potential for Bayley to do very well in the northern half of the electorate if voters are impressed with him.

The large size of the field is likely to lead to some degree of vote exhaustion.  This looks likely to disadvantage the left candidates, because there are so many of them.   There will be a lot of preferences pooling between the left-leaning candidates, but if any one of them is to win, that person will probably still need a primary vote well into double figures.

The federal election will overshadow the contest to a large degree, but may also provide opportunities for candidates to highlight federal issues.  It may also make life more difficult for the Liberal campaign, as federal politics could be a drag on the Liberal vote.  However, this factor was not obvious in New South Wales.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Poll Roundup: Mixed Start To Year For Struggling Government

(17/2: Ipsos update added at the bottom. Also, Not-A-Poll added in sidebar: predict the next Newspoll 2PP)

2PP Aggregate: 53.7% to Labor (last-election preferences) (-0.4 since end of polling season last year)
53.2% to Labor with One Nation adjustment
Labor would easily win election "held now"
Government is now Australia's longest continually-trailing government in polling ever

Time for another roundup of the federal polling picture in the lead-up to an election expected to be held in mid to late May.  At the end of last year the Coalition's polling had been going slowly downhill after the initial recovery from the shock caused by the messy removal of former PM Turnbull.  Early this year there were some early signs things might be improving, but a bad Essential poll this week has somewhat muddied the waters.  In this article I'll just be discussing voting intention and leadership ratings as it is long enough without covering more.

This week has been a dramatic week in parliament and we still have to see how that plays out.  However, a change to laws affecting medical treatment of people on Manus Island and Nauru is not the same thing as an incident like the Tampa, the 2002 Bali bombings and the 9/11 attacks - all of which produced substantial poll movements.  The law change may lead to a major incident (perhaps orchestrated) which could affect polling, but here is how things stand for the time being.

Monday, February 11, 2019

How Federal Crossbenchers Gain Seats

I expect to release another Poll Roundup later this week, but have decided to put out something else I have been working on for a while first.

This is another post about general historical trends in federal elections concerning crossbench wins (see also Independents Seldom Replace Other Independents). Recently on Twitter, Peter Brent noted that the crossbenchers who had gained seats at the last few federal elections had all done so either by winning vacant seats or by defeating unpopular incumbents.

I looked at this theme more broadly and thought it was worth posting some expanded results going further back.  In federal elections, House of Representatives seats are won and lost between Labor and the Coalition frequently, and if a seat is close and the swing is on, then a personal vote only goes so far.  Incumbents who have had trouble-free terms are quite often victims of a national swing to the other side. However, they are rarely defeated by anyone else.

Adam Brooks' Resignation And Replacement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 1, 2019

Not-A-Poll: Best State Premiers Of The Last 40 Years: More Rd 2 Results And Runoffs

Just a quick update post for this site's gradual quest to find a reader's pick for the title of Best State Premier Of The Last 40 Years.  We are getting closer to starting the rounds for the state winners, but there's still a little bit more voting to go.

Over the last few months there was a very close WA runoff after the previous runoff was tied between Geoff Gallop and Carmen Lawrence.  In the end Gallop has defeated Lawrence 75-71 and advances to the winners' rounds.

Voting is now open in the sidebar - for two months - on the deferred Victorian runoff between Steve Bracks and Daniel Andrews (the only incumbent Premier still in the contest).  Voting for this runoff was deferred to try to get a little clear air from the Victorian state election.  As Andrews now has a victory on a similar scale to Bracks' wins under his belt, it will be interesting to see how this goes.

Voting is also continuing in the consolation prize for the best non-Labor Premier that I have offered in view of the left-wing skew of this site's readerbase.  In the second round of this runoff held during December, the following were the results:

 
 
 
 
 

Total Votes: 134

Hodgman (who was the only current Premier still in that one) is eliminated, leaving four.  Voting will run for one month and then there will be another round in March if required.  The winner will be wild-carded into the final alongside all that Labor mob, to give the righties somebody to vote for. 

Update Feb 28: Greiner has won the next round too, but didn't quite make 50%. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Total Votes: 120

Joh is eliminated leaving Greiner, Carnell and Kennett.