Saturday, March 27, 2021

2021 Tasmanian State Election Guide: Clark

This is the Clark electorate guide for the 2021 Tasmanian State Election.  (Link to main 2021 election preview page, including links to other electorates.)  If you find these guides useful, donations are very welcome (see sidebar), but please only donate in these difficult times if you can afford to do so.  Note: if using a mobile you may need to use the view web version option at the bottom of the page to see the sidebar.

Clark (Currently 2 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green 1 Independent)
(When election was called 1 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green 2 Independent)
(2018 Result 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green)
Western shore Hobart, primarily Hobart City and Glenorchy City
Inner and outer urban


Note to candidates: As the number of candidates becomes large, continually changing link and bio details could consume a lot of my time.  It's up to you to get your act together and have your candidacy advertised on a good website that I can find easily well ahead of the election.  On emailed request I may make one free website link change per candidate at my discretion; fees will be charged beyond that.  Bio descriptions and other text will not be changed on request except to remove any material that is indisputably false.

I am not listing full portfolios for each MP, only the most notable positions.  Candidates are listed incumbent-first and then alphabetically, except if stated otherwise. 

The ballot paper order for Clark (left to right) is Greens, Johnston, Labor, Federation Party, Animal Justice, Shooters, Hickey, Liberal, ungrouped. Candidates appear in rotated order within each grouping.

Elise Archer, incumbent, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Corrections
Madeleine Ogilvie, incumbent, socially conservative former Labor MP defeated in 2018 then returned on recount 2019 and chose to sat as an independent, has mostly voted with government since.
Simon Behrakis, Hobart alderman, parliamentary researcher, Abetz protege, former assistant grocery manager
Will Coats, Hobart councillor elected on memorable recount in 2020, small businessman, advisor to Leonie Hiscutt MLC
Harvey Lennon, former Group Chief Executive of Royal Automobile Club Tasmania, Army Reserve major

Ella Haddad, first-term incumbent, Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Minister for Justice and Corrections
Deb Carnes, nurse and former university lecturer, also ALP candidate for seat in 1998.
Chris Clark, organiser for the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, podcast co-host
Simon Davis, hospitality worker, unionist 
Sam Mitchell, events manager and producer, Honours media student

Ben McGregor, social worker, 2019 Clark federal candidate, Tasmanian branch President

(McGregor withdrew before the close of nominations and is not on the ballot - see Labor candidate issues section below.)

Greens candidates are listed in endorsed ticket order
Cassy O'Connor, incumbent, Greens Leader since 2015 
Vica Bayley, former state campaign manager for Wilderness Society, nearly won Nelson as an independent in 2019
Bec Taylor, social worker, former Hobart Council employee, previous Hobart Council candidate
Nathan Volf, Behavioural Science graduate, social worker
Tim Smith, no not that one!  Disability advocate

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
Lorraine Bennett,  former recruitment consultant and HR manager, party secretary, frequent Shooters candidate
Andrew Large, fishing shop manager, fisherman, hunter and bushwalker

Animal Justice Party
Tim Westcott, software developer, small business owner

Federation Party
Justin Stringer, conference and events supervisor, 2014 Palmer United candidate, Trump fan

Major Independents (each has own column on ballot paper)
Sue Hickey, first-term incumbent, Speaker, elected as a Liberal, used several casting votes against own party, quit party after not being preselected.
Kristie Johnston, two-term Mayor of Glenorchy, re-elected in 2018 special election with massive personal vote

Ungrouped Independents
Mike Dutta, first term Hobart councillor and cafe/restaurant owner.
Jax Ewin, florist, radical left Hobart City Councillor and social justice / LGBTIQ+ activist who quit the Greens near the end of the 2018 council election and then won.
Lisa Gershwinworld-renowned jellyfish expert (PhD) and author, autism advocate, running on mental health issues

The Culturally Diverse Alliance of Tasmania forum may be of interest regarding Clark candidates.  Sitting independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie has in effect endorsed all five Clark independents, and has appeared with them (especially Johnston and Hickey) on the campaign trail. 

Labor Clark Candidate Issues

Labor's biggest candidate issue in Clark has been the loss of Ben McGregor.  McGregor, who was the candidate most likely to win a second Labor seat if there was one, withdrew his candidacy on the day nominations closed, with knowledge that he was about to do so circulating the night before.  McGregor attacked Rebecca White for requiring him to stand down over inappropriate group chat text messages while White has said he had to go.  McGregor has threatened to sue White for defamation.  Initially there was a lack of clarity regarding why the messages were so offensive but this has now been clarified.

McGregor's replacement recruited at very short notice, Sam Mitchell, has been criticised by the Liberals over alleged crude social media postings that they have linked to claimed images of.  In my view Michael Ferguson has laid it on a bit thick by describing an alleged post endorsing an Australia-themed dildo as "a deeply offensive slur against Australia".  The dildo was a bushfire fundraiser that according to the seller raised $27,000 for bushfire relief, which if true seems a lot more tangible and commendable than "thoughts and prayers".  However the posts, if real, are handy wedge material given what McGregor was sacked over - White has been pressured to also sack Mitchell.  There has never yet been a case to my knowledge of a candidate being disendorsed in a state election after ballot papers were printed.  Mitchell has apologised for his posts on social media and has not been disendorsed.

Prospects for Clark

Clark, which I often refer to jokingly as the "People's Republic of Clark", is Tasmania's most left-wing and idiosyncratic electorate.  It falls into two halves - the Glenorchy part which is traditionally strongly Labor and the Hobart part which has historically had a high vote for Greens and other left-wing candidates, with a small Liberal enclave around Lower Sandy Bay.  Labor usually outpolls the Liberals in Clark, with the most recent exceptions being 1992 and 2014.  In 2002 the Greens also outpolled the Liberals. In 2018 vote shares were Labor 41.9, Liberal 37.7, Greens 17.5.

Andrew Wilkie almost won here when the seat was called Denison in 2010, before going on to win the seat at federal level instead.  Wilkie is now so entrenched at federal level that in 2019 his primary vote exceeded 50%.  However attempts by low-profile independents to emulate Wilkie's success at state level have failed.  

This time two very significant independent contenders are in the mix, Hickey and Johnston. Hickey has had her profile further boosted by events surrounding the calling of the snap election.  She may appeal to the Tasmanian fondness for straight-talking rogues, but her appeal may also be limited by her Liberal Party past.  For Johnston, the question will be how successful she can be in translating massive support in local government into state politics, especially with much of that support having no doubt come from people who usually vote Labor, many of whom still will.   Johnston - sometimes speculated about as a potential successor to Wilkie at federal level - is running on a broadly centre-left platform with a Wilkie-like anti-pokies position.  But Hickey is also running on a Wilkie-ish platform and there is really nothing in her campaign to suggest she was once a Liberal. 

All this suggests to me that the independents are not competing that much with the Liberals (a little bit with Hickey's personal vote) and are mainly competing with Labor and the Greens.  But Hickey in particular could appeal to some voters who prefer the Liberals to Labor and the Greens but are not that happy with any.  There is a commentariat assumption that Johnston must outpoll Hickey, but a lot of this is based on lazy analysis surrounding Johnston's mayoral vote.  Of the two independents Hickey presents as the more headkicking option who would force governments to deliver on policy or bring them down, while Johnston's would be a softer issue-by-issue approach.  

If one or both of these independents wins, the question then is which party/parties fails to recover their 2018 seats.  None of Labor's second seat, the Liberals' second seat and the sole Greens seat are completely safe.  The Greens did poll a quota in 2018 despite the success of Labor's now-abandoned pokies policy, and I suspect their base vote without that issue is high enough to afford losses to the independents, but I am not completely sure of this, and they're getting very little attention in the 2021 campaign.  In particular, while it is generally assumed that the swing from Greens to Labor in the inner city in 2018 was driven by Labor's pokies policy, it's always possible this wasn't entirely the case.  

Clark is a historically weak seat for the Liberals and going in with only one previously Liberal incumbent may hurt them, but if it is a strong election for the party it won't matter and they will get two anyway.  A 4% swing against them is needed to put them below two quotas and at risk of losing, but they might not have to fall far below two quotas to be in trouble if the independent vote is very high.

 Labor goes in with only a first-term incumbent, an almost anonymous support crew after the loss of McGregor and weak statewide polling, so despite a strong 2018 result Labor is at major risk of getting only one seat here and I find it pretty hard to see any of their candidates winning besides Haddad.  If they can manage two, Simon Davis and Deb Carnes may be the best chances.  The other two don't even have Facebook pages, though in one case there's a reason for that.  On the plus side without the pokies issue I think maybe Labor could pick up votes in the poorest northern suburbs booths but in the southern suburbs I expect their vote to be destroyed and I don't think the inner north will be flash either.    Their best hope is that the apparent high support for indies is just bubble stuff and that the indies crash out.  

On the Liberal side Elise Archer will be returned and the others will be fighting for whatever further seat(s) the party may secure.   Ogilvie had no chance of re-election as an independent, but could be returned as a Liberal. In the distant past one Labor-to-Liberal defector (Carrol Bramich in 1956) did sensationally well for his new party, but the circumstances are different and Bramich's defection was much more sudden and spectacular.  Ogilvie was known in political circles for not working the electorate like Scott Bacon did so there's a question of whether she has done enough to appeal to Liberal voters.  She will have to ward off the other Liberals if she is to win.  Of these Behrakis and Lennon have the highest profile, but Behrakis competes for a similar vote to Archer.  (I don't entirely rule out Coats either, though he seems to be behind the others in political experience and high-profile community links).  

In extreme scenarios (such as a WA-style landslide or the election going pearshape for the Government) it was conceivable for either major party to win three seats in Clark with the other winning only one, and the fifth going to O'Connor or an independent.  However I think three is off the table for Labor now at least.  Labor's shenanigans increase what chance may exist of 3 Liberal but it would still require a very large swing that will be tough with votes also spraying to independents.  

The Clark cutup could be especially complex.  Beyond the obvious quota for each major party, it is possible there will be no other forces or only one other force over quota, leading to a race of attrition in which the order of exclusion determines the result (I have heard of one party's tracking polling in which the race ends up being Labor/Green/Hickey/Johnston for two seats, but a five-way race for three seats including the Liberals is also possible, or one or more of these could clear quota on primaries and thin the field out right away).   This becomes especially interesting if Hickey is competitive with Johnson, because Johnson's preferences will flow more to Labor than Hickey's.  

Outlook for Clark: It's complicated.  

Beyond one seat for each major party almost anything can happen!

(If I really had to guess 2-1-1-1)


  1. What're the chances of Lisa Singh running? I'd have thought she'd easily get in if she was on ticket.

    1. That would be interesting! I have not heard of her having any further political ambitions since the 2019 Senate defeat.

    2. Lisa Singh does not reside in Tasmania at the moment.

  2. Quote from Kristie Johnston Press Release Feb 27 ...
    “Labor or Liberal, each is as bad as the other. Party politicians seem more focussed on their own careers or slavishly following ideologies that have no relevance to the communities I represent. They are woefully out of touch.”

    Perhaps she will explain how a government of her persuasion will function.

    Complex society needs cooperation and specialisation. Her Independent Party colleague Mr Wilkie runs the same line having fallen out with both parties he started out with.

    Elsewhere I referred to cultivated apathy and cynicism of the political process and the above example emerged.

    The glossy pamphlets and somewhat confected scandals don't cut it for me; more detail and sophistication is required.

    Not sure whether the magic train will become an issue again, if so can we PLEASE have some proper transport analysis to integrate it with our current inefficient transport setup.

  3. can you explain your reasoning as to why Oglivie may win as a liberal...... I suspect even die hard liberals would be suspicious of her..... and no prefernces from the others..... labor or the greens

    1. In 1956 a Labor MP quit the party and joined the Liberals and was elected as a Liberal with a massive increase in his personal vote. I don't know if that will happen again in this case. If it comes to a fight between her and Simon Behrakis for a seat I could still see Green voters preferencing her.

    2. I would preference literally any other person on the ticket over Behrakis.

  4. Hi Kevin, thank you so much for all your analysis. Two questions, firstly do you think there is any possibility of 1-1-1-1-1 with Johnston and Hickey both getting up. Secondly, does being closer to the left of the ballot provide any benefit due to left to right reading.

    1. I don't entirely rule out 1-1-1-1-1 (or it might also be called 1-1-1-2) but I would be surprised if both major parties collapsed to such an extent and there was enough vote to elect the Greens and both the indies.

      I think the left to right advantage is very small. For example the Socialist Alliance polled only 0.5% in Franklin in 2014 even with the advantage of drawing the leftmost column.

  5. I think Labor has really done themselves over here by seemingly convincing themselves that a second seat in Clark is too hard (as evidenced by their low-profile support crew - Clark and Mitchell don’t even have Facebook pages - and practically non-existent campaign besides Haddad).

    Labor should get two seats here, with or without Bacon - it was their best seat in 2018 by far, the only one where they beat the Liberals, and they’d have to back very far not to win a second seat. In addition I’d note that I’d say that while Bacon was popular, most of his voters were probably people who would vote Labor anyway, unlike Haddad’s.

    Even though Hickey and especially Johnson are high profile and would eat into Labor’s vote a bit, I think if it ends up 2-1-1-1 and the Liberals are on two and Labor is on one, I think Labor can only blame themselves for making their low expectations come true. It wouldn’t have been hard for the government to be pushed into minority with Johnson winning in Clark, but now it seems much less likely.

    It’s odd really considering that Labor seems to have made some reasonably strong candidate choices in other seats - Keay, Finlay, eventually Winter, arguably Batt and Lambert, but they clearly had no one on the bench for Clark.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. I've deleted a comment here because it made claims of fact about a candidate's policies for which no evidence was provided and I could not establish the identity of the author. If it helps users can choose to share their profiles, I think via , and this may get rid of the issue of comments appearing as Unknown.

    If attacks are substantiated with evidence so I can verify that they're well founded then I'm content, albeit not overjoyed, for them to be anonymous.

  8. Hi Kevin

    I think you've remarked before that the Green vote can get very soft in the face of an independent candidate who makes nice noises about wind farms, pokies, and other middle class white people concerns.

    Do you think Kristie Johnson, being exactly this candidate, might take votes from the Greens? Or is she too far past the flanno curtain for the Taroona Greens to switch?

    1. On the Fontcast today I heard that she was making serious inroads in the south of the electorate and had more signs through Taroona etc than Hickey did. I also saw a few of her signs weeks ago in West Hobart. I think especially that she'll take votes from voters who switched from Greens to Labor over Labor's pokies policy in 2018 - if they were frustrated with the Greens in the first place, they can now go to her instead of going back. Whether she could take enough from the Greens to make them lose is another question - I think I am more open to this possibility than a lot of people (it seems to be generally being taken for granted that O'Connor will romp back in; I think she probably will win but might not).

  9. Hobart Not highrise has looked at the actions of the four City of Hobart elected members who are standing in Clark -->