Saturday, April 30, 2022

2022 Senate How To Vote Cards: Variants, Changes and Other Comments

This is a page where I hope to keep track of cases where parties are issuing multiple Senate How To Vote card recommendations (eg with regional differences) or else change their published Senate HTV to something different to what is showing on the ABC website.  Please notify cases in comments, on Twitter (@kevinbonham) or to my email (link via profile).   The ABC does a brilliant job of archiving Senate How To Votes but tends to only store one version for each state and not keep track of variants.  I want to try to keep track of the variants because doing so is useful in calculating the rate at which Senate cards are followed for articles like this.  Note that I am not myself keeping lists of the main HTVs, except in the case of Tasmania.

Not that many voters actually follow Senate HTVs.  As noted in the linked article, in 2019 the rate by state among voters voting above the line was in the 20-30% range for the Coalition, 15-20 for Labor, 7-15 for Greens and mostly 0-10 for other parties.  These figures were a little lower than in 2016.  In Tasmania, the follow rates are almost negligible, and approaching 30% of voters vote below the line anyway.  Unlike in the House of Representatives, where providing a single order for voters to copy is vital for trying to control the informal voting rate, in the Senate if a voter votes 1 above the line then their vote is saved and counted, provided there is only one 1.  (It counts for that party only, and once all their candidates are elected or excluded it exhausts.)  

Friday, April 29, 2022

How To Make Best Use Of Your 2022 Senate Vote

People are starting to vote already (by post) so I thought I'd get a revised version of this guide up for this year.  It is largely copied from the previous one but I have made a few minor changes and dropped some no longer relevant content.   Many regular readers of the site will already be aware of many of the points below.  I hope the main part of the post will also be useful, however, for those who want to know what advice to give less politically engaged (or more easily confused) voters.  I will vote below the line and number every square, and I'm sure many other readers will too (at least in the smaller states!), but not everyone is up for that.

Under the system introduced in 2016, voters determine where their preferences go - there is no longer any "group ticket voting" in which if you vote for one party, your preference also goes to another.  Voters have great flexibility - they can vote above the line (in which case they are asked to number at least six boxes) or below the line (in which case they are asked to number at least twelve).  Voters who vote below the line are no longer forced to number all the boxes.  

This freedom is fantastic, but it's still taking some getting used to, and most voters are not using their vote in the most effective way they could.  If you don't have time to use your vote effectively and just want to get out of the polling box as fast as you like, that's fine, that's up to you.  But not making the best use of your vote might end up helping a party you can't stand beat one you are merely disappointed by.  This guide tells you how to avoid that, if you want to.   

Here I give some answers to the sorts of questions people are asking or likely to ask about the system.  At the bottom there is a section on tactical voting for advanced players only.  The vast majority of readers should stop when they get to that point.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Tasmania Senate 2022: Prospects and Guide

 SUMMARY: 

Likely 2 Liberal 2 Labor 1 Green 1 JLN if Lambie Network vote mostly holds up
If Lambie Network vote crashes then multi-party contest for final seat

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Tasmania's list of Senate candidates has been released.  Tasmania has 39 candidates in 14 groups with two ungrouped, down from 44 candidates in 16 groups plus four ungrouped in 2022.  Of the groups that ran columns last time, two have disbanded, two are not running and one (Garland) has switched to the Reps.  Three groups that did not run last time are running, one of which (Local Party) is new for this election.  None of the groups that ran last time were direct victims of the recent cull of ballot clutter.  One recognisable impact of the 1500 member rule to Tasmania is that Steve Mav has joined One Nation instead of founding his own party.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Poll Roundup: Federal Hung Parliament Club Edition

CROSS-POLL AVERAGE 52.6 TO LABOR (-2.0 in two weeks)
Aggregate of recent polls assuming no overall house effects 53.2 to Labor
Recent Newspoll would not be likely to produce a hung parliament if replicated
Significant chance of hung parliament based not on most current polls, but rather on historic pattern of leads shrinking.  

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Welcome back to another edition of Poll Roundup.  At the time of the last edition the Labor Opposition was a very long way in front but things have since got a lot closer.  I covered some of this at the start of a more recent piece but following today's Newspoll, hung parliament talk has become widespread.  Sectors of the press gallery are embarrassing themselves more than usual, while sectors of the press gallery that always embarrass themselves are doing what they do best.  

"Hung parliament club" is my nickname for a circle of usual suspects in the Tasmanian left and commentariat who continually argue that hung parliaments in Tasmanian state elections are both extremely likely and uncontentiously desirable.  My view is that their constant public hankering after minority situations makes majority government more likely, not less.  Federally, there have been echoes of this in Adam Bandt's constant poll-spinning that uses various unsound arguments to claim a "power-sharing parliament" is highly likely.  However overall the federal variant of hung parliament club makes even weaker claims about the likelihood of a hung parliament than are seen in Tasmania, and then goes on to claim that a hung parliament could lead to crazy chaos and an immediate fresh election.  The main suspects here are innumerate types in the Canberra press gallery, who seem to have listened to each other too much (or perhaps to party hacks or low-grade pollsters) instead of seeking any kind of informed take on how to interpret the numbers. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Prospects for the 2022 Senate Election

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This is a general (and maths-heavy) piece giving assessments of the Senate contest in each state and territory and overall. A detailed Senate guide for Tasmania will be released soon after the announcement of nominations for the state.  Firstly, a look at which Senate seats are up for grabs at this election and which are continuing until 2025 (barring a double dissolution):


The ACT and NT seats are recontested every election.  At present the Coalition is three short of a majority and can pass legislation supported by Stirling Griff, Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie, or by any one of these plus One Nation.  The ability to block enquiries, motions and disallowances in the Senate is also very important and here the Coalition and One Nation have a "blocking majority" of exactly half the seats.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Two-Party Swing Is A Fine Predictor Of Seat Share Changes (And No It Isn't Getting Worse)

I am hoping to have a Senate prospects piece up by the end of tomorrow but before that I think I need to address something I am hearing too much of at this election.  I refer to trendy talk about federal elections being seat-by-seat battles, the election being 151 separate contests, and the idea that even a massive 2PP win (should Labor be so lucky) might seriously not result in a Labor majority.  We hear this stuff at every federal election but this time around the commentariat seems especially awash with it.  This piece is pretty mathsy (let's say 3/5 on the Wonk Factor scale) but it's necessary to crunch a few numbers to show what a load of nonsense we are hearing.  

The state of play

Firstly a brief word about polling since last week's roundup.  Two polls have been released, a Newspoll with Labor 53-47 ahead (L-NP 36 ALP 37 Green 10 ON 4 UAP 3 others 10) and a Morgan with Labor 57-43 ahead by Morgan's respondent preferences (L-NP 32.5 ALP 36 Green 12.5 ON 5 UAP 1.5 IND 8.5 others 4) .  However, if last-election preferences are used the Morgan only comes out at 55.4 to Labor, so Morgan's headline 2PP not changing can be ignored.  (The expected value for the Newspoll off the published primaries is 52.8, but Newspoll would have a more accurate number based on rounding).  By last-election preferences the average of the most recent polls from each major pollster is now 54.2 to Labor.  There is a reasonably strong case based on the history of Australian polling generally that this is probably skewing to Labor a little bit and the real underlying voting intention is more likely somewhere in the 53s, but always beware of Nate's 1st Rule.  In any case, history suggests that whatever lead Labor now has will probably (but not necessarily) reduce by the time of the final result.  

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Tasmanian House of Representatives Seats Guide (2022)

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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.

Two seats (Clark and Franklin) are not considered to be in play at this election.  Two (Bass and Braddon) are Liberal marginals with a long history of going back and forth and are in play more or less irrespective of the outcome.  One (Lyons) is fairly comfortable for Labor on paper but Labor's baseline margin is exaggerated so it may be in play if the election is fairly close overall.

National polling as I start this article has been suggesting the sort of swing to Labor that would see Labor easily recover Bass and probably Braddon as well.  However Tasmania has become somewhat detached from national patterns in recent years with national swing only predicting Tasmania's two-party seat result perfectly once in the last 30 years.   Tasmanian federal swings still have some relationship with the national swing but it is a loose one.

State politics is also not a reliable predictor of federal politics as Tasmanian voters frequently vote very differently at the two levels.  Also, even if it was a predictor, the state government's popularity fell considerably in the first EMRS poll this year, so it is no longer enjoying the COVID boom that helped it win the 2021 state election.  It is also just a little bit distracted at the moment.  

Labor performed poorly in northern Tasmania in 2019 (excepting Lyons where it was handed a free win), with some inexplicably Hobart-centric funding announcements a factor along with the general outer-suburban swing to the Coalition at that election.  The issues mix for 2022, especially cost of living pressures (including fuel prices) seems on paper better for Labor.  

Very little Tasmanian-specific federal polling has been seen in this term.  The sub-samples in Roy Morgan and Ipsos federal polling have tiny sample sizes and are hopelessly erratic (and have recently on average been not greatly different to the national swing anyway).  Tasmanian seat polling has a history of inaccuracy even by the low standards of seat polling generally, though the limited seat polling released in 2019 by uComms and Newspoll got reasonably close.

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

A section on Section 44 Eligibility is at the bottom of this article.

Lots Of Candidates: The declared candidate total (44) smashes the previous record for Tasmania of 35 (2013).  Every seat except Clark has more candidates than it has ever had before, with Braddon tying the Tasmanian record set by Clark in 2013.  This is part of an unfortunate national trend likely to lead to high informal voting because of the Parliament's favour to reform informal voting rules.

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 or hilarious.  

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 (Liberal, 0.4%)

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 "the ejector seat of Australian politics", having changed parties at eight of the last ten elections, and having had the most MPs of any Australian federal seat. It is the second most volatile seat in Australia in swing terms in recent elections.  The carnage 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. The southern and eastern suburbs have been especially volatile in recent elections but in 2019 usually rusted-on booths in the north-eastern suburbs joined the party too.  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.  With all these issues out of the mix in 2019 (but with Labor running a campaign perceived as Hobart-centred) there was a big swing back and the Liberals recaptured the seat from Ross Hart (Labor) by 563 votes.  

Incumbent: The Liberal MP for Bass is Bridget Archer.  Archer is the former Mayor of industrial George Town.  She polled 1803 votes for the party at the 2018 state election but was not elected as the Liberals already had three incumbents in the seat.  She was then endorsed for the federal election and won the seat in 2019.  Archer is a Liberal moderate and her term has seen three cases where she has not voted with her party.  Firstly, she strongly criticised, and abstained from voting on, a motion to expand the reach of cashless debit welfare cards and make existing trial sites permanent.  (The motion still passed; it would have failed had she voted against.)  Secondly she, alone, crossed the floor to vote for a failed attempt to suspend standing orders to debate a proposed federal anti-corruption commission.  Thirdly and most notably she was one of five Liberals to cross the floor and insert protections for transgender students into the government's Religious Discrimination Bill, resulting in the Bill's withdrawal.  

Main challenger: The Labor candidate is Ross Hart, the MP for this seat from 2016-2019.  Prior to politics, Hart was a lawyer with a long involvement at Rae & Partners, of which he was a Director and Managing Partner.  Following the 2019 election Hart started his own law practice.  Hart was elected in 2016, defeating Andrew Nikolic with one of the biggest 2PP swings in the nation (10.1%) During his term Hart, a member of the Labor Left, had a "nice guy" reputation and was a relatively low profile MP on the national stage, except for one 2018 interview where he repeatedly declined to back Bill Shorten's proposal at the time to reverse tax cuts for medium-sized businesses.  This contributed to leadership speculation at the time and the proposal was soon withdrawn.  In mid-2021 Hart was endorsed for a rematch with Archer, the first candidate rematch in Bass since Warwick Smith and Silvia Smith contested the seat three times in 1990-6.

Other candidates:

Cecily Rosol (Greens) counsellor, foster carer, former nurse and school chaplain, minor candidate for party in 2021 state election
Bob Salt (Jacqui Lambie Network), manufacturer, small businessman, 2018 Launceston council candidate.  Salt has withdrawn from active campaigning after the party recommended preferences to Archer ahead of Hart but has not yet "resigned" or been disendorsed.  
Kyle Squibb (United Australia), fire risk manager, also previously in water emergency management and biosecurity
Melanie Davey (One Nation), small business/stay at home mum, formerly retail and customer service at Commonwealth Bank
Stephen Humble (Liberal Democrats), technical officer and electrical engineer, contested 2018 Mayo by-election.  Does not live in Tasmania.  
George Razay (Independent) General Physician and Geriatrician at the Launceston General Hospital for 25 years, platform is generally left-wing including climate change action and free education
Alison Baker (Animal Justice) admin clerk

The Examiner says Baker and Humble are paper candidates who are not campaigning.  Unfortunately The Examiner's editorial strongly implied that voters' preferences are determined by parties, including through preference deals, a claim included in the AEC's Disinformation Register ("Parties direct preferences").  A voter can vote however they like (including for paper candidates and other micro parties) and their vote will follow their preference.  How to vote cards and "preference deals" have no impact unless the voter chooses to follow them, which most don't.

The ballot order in Bass is Razay, JLN, Greens, Liberal, AJP, LDP, UAP, PHON, Labor

In Bass, One Nation are recommending preferences to Hart ahead of Archer while Jacqui Lambie Network are recommending preferences to Archer ahead of Hart.

Polling (Voting Intention)

1. Australia Institute uComms 52.4-47.6 to Liberal. 13 Dec 2021. Robopoll 814 respondents.  Primaries (undecided reallocated) Liberal 41.9 Labor 32.9 Green 8.9 PHON 5.1 UAP 4.0 Local Party (not known to be running) 0.9 IND/other 6.8.  Polling included usual Australia Institute questions about truth in political advertising, and an Integrity Commission. The former failed to mention that some misleading advertisements (those relating to casting a vote) are already illegal.  76.8% of the sample said that Archer crossing the floor on an integrity commission made them more likely to vote for her. These questions are pretty useless as voters always overestimate the impact of an issue in isolation, and the lead-in questions about an integrity commission would have influenced the response.  Nonetheless that is a very high result as such things go.  

2. Telereach/KJC for Newscorp 57-43 to Liberal.  17-19 March.  Robopoll 800 decided respondents.  Primaries Liberal 45 Labor 33 Green 7 One Nation 10 UAP 3 Other 2.  One of a series of Telereach polls which collectively showed very wide variation in swings (probably caused at least partly by sample noise) and tended to have high One Nation votes.  Telereach has had relatively little public testing at previous elections and seat polling is unreliable.  Candidate approvals Archer net +42 Hart net -2.  Leader approvals Morrison net -32 Albanese net -20 preferred PM (skews to incumbents) Albanese 40-39.  

3. Redbridge (incomplete details available) reported in Daily Telegraph 9 April.  Both major parties on 36 primary, but this may be without reallocating undecided voters (not sure yet).  

4. YouGov MRP model: The YouGov MRP poll-based model estimates 51-49 to Labor (Liberal 39 Labor 36 Green 11 ON 3 UAP 1 (seems too low) others 10

Polling (Other)

1. Everybody's Home (housing) A housing advocacy group released results of a survey supposedly showing support for its views but despite the amount of detail provided there was no detail concerning polling method, pollster, weighting (if any) etc.  Claimed results should be ignored until this information is released.

2. (apparently) Australian Christian Lobby A poll asking voters about Bridget Archer's recent vote on the Religious Discrimination Bill was reported on 13 April.  The ACL is campaigning to unseat Archer.

Prospects:  Only the sitting member might save it.  Bass is a volatile seat and its history of throwing out incumbents means it is almost never safe.  It is also vulnerable to cost of living pressures.  Indeed based on the government's poor national polling and the absence of the factors that cost Labor the seat in 2019, there is more than enough for Labor to take the seat back despite the loss of incumbency.  Archer is also being heavily targeted by the right, including the Australian Christian Lobby and (on preference recommendations) One Nation.  The only real argument for why Bass shouldn't fall again is Archer herself - Tasmanian voters often like rebels and political characters, and Archer may make some connection with the division's battlers.  While I do not place much weight on the Telereach poll's voting intentions, it does suggest Archer is more popular than her leader in the seat by a massive margin.  Normally, local member popularity only goes so far - is this case different? Also, for all the attention from political junkies, I am not sure that transgender rights or a federal ICAC are front and centre for Bass voters.  The place is not exactly Wentworth.  

Braddon (Liberal, 3.1%)

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 25 years.  Braddon was Liberal-held from 1975 to 1998 but has since become another swinging marginal seat, changing hands at six of the last eight general elections, like Bass including the last three in a row.    

Labor's Justine Keay won the seat from the Liberals' rather unpopular incumbent Brett Whiteley in 2016 but her tenure was disrupted by having to contest a mid-term by-election caused by Section 44 issues.  Keay won but by Labor's result was still mediocre (and could have been worse had the Liberals not made hamfisted attacks on local indie Craig Garland).  The Liberals had a big win in Braddon in 2019 and the seat has rarely been in the headlines since.

Incumbent: The first-term Liberal incumbent is Gavin Pearce.  Prior to parliament, Pearce was a local beef farmer and Vice-Chair of a local farming lobby group, President of the Wynyard RSL, a former professional concreter and a decorated Wing Sergeant Major with 20 years Army service.   Pearce was overlooked for the 2018 by-election in favour of Whiteley.  His win in 2019 with a 4.8% swing was the more impressive for having to deal with disruption from a former preselection opponent Craig Brakey who polled 10.9% as an independent, with almost half of that flowing to Labor on preferences.  Sold as an everyday bloke candidate, Pearce has been far less prominent than Archer on the national stage and has had a quiet term in terms of media attention with no special controversies.

Main challenger:  The Labor challenger is Chris LynchLynch is a Burnie City Councillor.  Elected ninth of nine by 16 votes at the second attempt in 2014, Lynch was again elected ninth in 2018, extending his margin to 23 votes.  Lynch is a widely-travelled sound engineer and musician who has also worked as a Vocational Education and Training teacher, trainer and assessor, a Joblink program co-ordinator, a social worker and (currently) a Program Co-ordinator in disability support.  He also has many community involvements.  Lynch was endorsed in mid-2021 so has had nearly a year to build profile.

On 5 May The Advocate, the main newspaper in Braddon, reported as its front page that Lynch had been convicted in 1994 (when he would have been in his early 30s) of possessing methylamphetamine valued at $1200 which he on-sold to a friend for $200 profit.  He lost his job and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.  This does not affect his eligibility.  I understand the party was aware of the conviction but did not insist that Lynch disclose it.  When the Advocate posted a link to their report on Facebook, every comment in response supported Lynch in the few hours before comments were switched off.  The Liberals have asked why the matter was not public sooner.  

Other candidates:

Craig Garland (IND): Charismatic fisherman and anti-salmon-farm campaigner who polled 10.6% in the 2018 Braddon by-election.   In 2019 his Senate vote (1%) was damaged by voter confusion regarding a blank above the line box.  In 2021 he polled an impressive 6% in Braddon at the state election.  Since milkshake-ducked by sectors of the left, as in Jan 2022 Twitter users noted his Facebook was awash with antivaxxy posts and also included shares of an anti-trans post and a conspiracy theory denying Michael Mansell's Aboriginality.  He has also been endorsed by a local page called The Battler which claims that he is informally endorsed by the wacky Australian Citizens Party. This all blew up with a further expose during the campaign. But hey if you're sick of politicians hugging babies and puppies, here's an anti-politician with a decorator crab.  

Sophie Lehmann (Jacqui Lambie Network): Ulverstone-based project manager
Ludo Mineur (One Nation): former carpenter, farmer, project officer working in unemployment and even Alpaca Man for Tourism Tasmania!
Darren Briggs (Greens): lead Greens candidate at state election, emergency doctor, small-scale tourist accommodation operator
Darren Bobbermein (UAP): accountant, has worked in hospitality and small business
Scott Rankin (Local Party): writer/director, co-founder and CEO of arts not-for-profit Big hART.
Duncan White (Liberal Democrats) IT professional, project manager
Keone Martin (Animal Justice), software developer, nature enthusiast

The ballot order for Braddon is PHON, Greens, Liberal, Local, Labor, UAP, Garland, AJP, JLN, LDP.

In Braddon, One Nation are recommending preferences to Pearce ahead of Lynch while Jacqui Lambie Network are recommending preferences to Lynch ahead of Pearce.

Polling (voting intention):

1. Australia Institute uComms 17, 21 March.  Robopoll 829 voters.  53-47 to Labor (respondent preferences) but I estimate 50-50 by last-election preferences.  Primaries with undecided redistributed: Liberal 35.8 Labor 34 Green 5.5 PHON 7.3 UAP 3.1 JLN 7.9 Garland 2.6 others 4.6

2. YouGov MRP model The YouGov MRP model estimates 52-48 to Liberal (Lib 37 ALP 31 Green 5 ON 7 UAP 2 others 18)

Prospects: Looks tight.  On paper Braddon is somewhat safer than Bass but it is also not much less volatile.  Braddon is a low-income seat that is also vulnerable to the cost of living issues mix (and that has been especially pestered by COVID outbreaks, for what that may be worth.)  Even if the election is close overall, the Liberals' ability to hang on to Braddon may hang on what communities on the coast make of the performance of their latest local member (I have not seen any personal polling for him so far.)  Braddon has a very low Green vote these days but strong support for minor populists whose voters' preferences could play a big role in the outcome, and in this sense Pearce could be rewarded for not having antagonised social conservatives and rednecks to the extent that Archer has.   Braddon is also fond of battlers so Lynch's old drug conviction is not necessarily fatal depending on how the story plays out, but it is going to test that fondness to its limits. 

Clark (Ind, 22.1% vs ALP)

Geography: Western shore Hobart.  Includes two very different halves - the working-class Glenorchy half which used to be strongly pro-Labor), and the Hobart City half which is one of the greenest areas in Australia (with small pockets of strong Liberal support). 

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 has since been re-elected three times with massive margins and in 2019 managed to win on primary votes alone (just).   Independent voting spread to state level in 2021, with Kristie Johnston elected to state parliament as a rather Wilkie-like independent and Labor reduced to a feeble 22% and just one seat out of five.  

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.  Wilkie has again been blessed with close numbers from 2016 on and there was especially a perception that the PM's door was always open in the hung parliament end of the previous term.

Wilkie is a generally left-wing independent with forthright, often black-and-white moral views on issues, and whose major issues have included gambling, asylum seekers and health services..  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 high approval ratings of Wilkie; none has been seen since perhaps because the answer is obvious.  Early in his career Wilkie rarely endorsed other candidates but in recent years it has become very common for him to do so (see Franklin section).  

Labor Challenger: Simon Davis has drawn the short straw for Labor this time around.  Davis is a United Workers Union organiser and formerly worked in hospitality including as a Wrest Point Casino dealer.  Davis was one of four relatively low-profile candidates left supporting incumbent MP Ella Haddad in the state election for this seat after the disendorsement of Ben McGregor.  He was the highest-polling of the four with just under 2000 votes.

Liberal Challenger: Will Coats is a first-term Hobart Councillor after a remarkable two-vote win from fourth place in a recount following the resignation of former Liberal candidate Tanya Denison from the council.  Coats was also a candidate in the state election polling 1690 votes.  Coats has an IT and business analytics background and has worked for RACT and MyState.  

Other candidates:

Janet Shelley (Greens) Environmental Sustainability officer at Bureau of Meteorology
Sandra Galloway (United Australia) Former Territory Manager in the pharmaceutical industry, Case Manager at Salvation Army Employment Plus and public servant
Ian Ramsden (Liberal Democrats) former accountant, commercial advisor in construction industry
Michelle Cameron (One Nation) carer, ON profile page refers to support for disability services and single parents
Casey Davies (Animal Justice) zoology grad studying Sustainable Living, works in a warehouse and at a pet store

I have not seen any campaign activity at all from either Cameron or Davies, however I did receive an anonymous email that said Cameron had been active on the campaign trail with significant personal disruptions.

The ballot order in Clark is PHON, Labor, LDP, Liberal, Greens, Wilkie, AJP, UAP.

The Greens have surprisingly issued an open How To Vote card recommendation in Clark, making it the only seat where they have not recommended preferences to Labor ahead of the Coalition, despite having incorrectly claimed that they have put what they see as the nasty parties last everywhere.

Polling (voting intention):

1. YouGov MRP model: The YouGov MRP model (a complex polling-based projection model) has been published with a 61-39 2CP for Wilkie vs Labor (Liberal 15 Labor 21 Green 9 One Nation 5 (too high) UAP 2 others 48.  However others would be nearly all Wilkie and the strong preference flows to him in this seat mean that it would be more like 69-31 on those primaries.

Prospects: Wilkie retain. Last time I said it would be interesting to see if Labor could make any inroads; this time my only interests are (i) whether Wilkie can break 50 primary again (ii) which major party makes the final two.  Perhaps his profile has been a little lower in this majority parliament than the tail-end of the previous, but any speculation that Wilkie's vote might decline has a poor track record so far.  

Franklin (Labor, 12.2%)

Geography: An oddly shaped electorate containing the eastern shore Hobart suburbs within the Clarence council area, and also the Kingborough 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. It was vaguely competitive when previous incumbent Harry Quick departed but since then Julie Collins has held it comfortably, assisted at times by the Liberal Party using the seat as a dumping ground for bad candidates.  Franklin is among Australia's leading anti-bellwether seats.

Incumbent: Julie Collins is a five-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 Agriculture, having also had portfolios in Ageing and Mental Health, Regional Development, Local Government and Employment Services in previous parliaments.

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.  In 2013 a remarkably tongue-tied 2010 press conference was used by the Liberals in an attack ad but that was about the last notably negative publicity that Collins ever had.  These days she stands out as a respected experienced party figure (for instance representing the party on the ABC's state election night panel).  

Main Challenger: Kristy Johnson (not to be confused with Kristie Johnston) is the endorsed Liberal candidate.  She is the owner-manager of the all-female 24-hour Fernwood Gym, and also of Glenorchy Health and Fitness, and has 20 years' involvement in the fitness industry.  She is also Treasurer of the Canterbury Hockey Club.  Johnson has had two previous runs for the party: in Clark (formerly Denison) at the 2018 state election (polling over 3000 votes) and for the Legislative Council seat of Pembroke, where she made no impression against Labor incumbent Jo Siejka in one of the Council's few two-party swing seats.  

Other Candidates:

Jade Darko (Greens) software developer /programmer, candidate in 2019 polling 16.3% (party's second highest vote in Franklin ever), also support candidate for state election
Chris Hannan (Jacqui Lambie Network), mental health/workplace wellbeing consultant, former defence social worker
Lisa Matthews (United Australia), communications and workplace relations advisor, former news editor and workplace policy advisor,   
Stephen Hindley (One Nation), anti-COVID-vaccine doctor stripped of his licence, conspiracy theorist whose interview was so extreme that even One Nation banned its minor Tasmanian candidates from addressing the media
Anna Bateman (Local Party) former TV producer including for ABC, Australia Institute communications, advisor to Jacqui Lambie.  Endorsed by Andrew Wilkie.
Duane Pitt (Liberal Democrats) tradesman, Duty Manager at Hobart Airport
Katrina Love (Animal Justice), campaign manager for Stop Live Exports, frequent AJP candidate

The ballot order is Local, Labor, LDP, PHON, UAP, JLN, Liberal, AJP, Greens

What The Heck Is The Local Party Anyway: The Local Party, founded by Bateman, Senate candidate Leanne Minshull and Garland (the latter now an independent) is a Tasmanian-centred left-populist minor party that claims to be a network of independents.  I'm not convinced.  While it prides itself on giving anyone it ever gets elected a conscience vote on everything, this is really not much different to the status of Liberal backbenchers (it is Labor that is the odd one out in this regard).  

The party has a few distinctive trimmings.  Candidates must live in their electorates, with existing community involvements, and must commit to holding citizens' juries to inform their decision-making.  There are obvious tensions between the party's expectations that candidates will be evidence-based and committed to certain issue stances (implying deselection for future elections if not) and the claim that MPs will not be told how to vote.  Nonetheless it will be interesting in coming elections to see if the novelty value of this outfit which has some experienced campaigners behind it has any traction (especially among voters for Greens or greenish independents.)

Polling (voting intention):

1. Unknown poll:  Andrew Wilkie has mentioned unknown polling (I expect Climate200 or similar) which had Bateman and independents on 8% combined, "comparable with the Jacqui Lambie Network and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, and not too far behind the Greens."    There are no independents so whatever share was for independents was probably a glorified dunno.  Also, ON will not get 8% in Franklin.  

2. YouGov MRP model: The YouGov MRP model has 63-37 to Labor (Liberal 28 Labor 39 Green 17 One Nation 2 UAP 3 others 11). 

Prospects: Labor retain.  Johnson appears to be better than a few recent Liberal candidates for Franklin but Collins' cushion is a big one and there is no threat on the two-party front.  The only wildcard here is Wilkie's endorsement of the Local Party candidate Bateman, which came with an argument that Franklin could be a rerun of Denison 2010.  For sure, Franklin has a similar structure (high Green vote, low Liberal vote) so an "independent" polling 20% there could surf home on everybody's preferences.  Also, Bateman has political and media experience.  However, the Local Party brand seems from polling seen thus far to have little appeal (polling way behind the Greens in the Huon by-election), and Franklin isn't Wilkie's patch.  Furthermore, Wilkie won Denison as a vacancy, against an especially poor ALP candidate, and neither of those things apply here. Indeed Collins is a former and potential future Minister.  Someday Julie Collins will retire and Franklin could be very interesting.  But this election's not that day.

Lyons (Labor, 5.2%)

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 Brian Mitchell regained the seat for Labor.  

Lyons often votes similarly to Bass and Braddon but with a little bit extra for Labor, and could have been very close at the 2019 election.  However, firstly the Liberals were slow finding a candidate in a seat where candidates are often picked years out to work the electorate.  That need not have been fatal by itself but their eventual choice was a disaster.  Jessica Whelan was disendorsed over not so old social media posts after her name was already on the ballot paper, and Mitchell helped himself to a small swing on top of a helpful redistribution, while the Liberals ended up endorsing the Nationals candidate instead.

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 and Deputy Chair of the Agriculture and Water Resources committee.  Mitchell has said he would like to be a minister in a future Labor government.  

Mitchell is a larrikin who unsurprisingly adapted well to parliamentary rough and tumble, being one of Labor's more frequently suspended MPs in the 2016-9 term.  In one instance in 2017 he got a bit too feisty in defence of a colleague and had to apologise (though he denies using the word alleged by the ABC, which is indistinct on the audio).  During the current term he has enjoyed sparring with Liberals both federal and state without getting in any more trouble than the intermittent ire of the Speaker.  

After Mitchell's opponent was cancelled last election, an attempt to cancel him too by trawling his social media only ended up embarrassing itself.  However, a more thorough dig around his old social media in the 2022 campaign has produced more significant embarrassment.  Mitchell has apologised for the old tweets and posts and as of 3 May has taken down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.  After an initial lack of pickup of the story there have been renewed attempts as of 7 May, including a question at a press conference which Anthony Albanese batted aside on account of the age of the tweets, and also a Twitter thread by Liberal Senator Jane Hume professing outrage.  The Liberals have used the material against Mitchell in online attack ads.  

Main challenger: Also an atypical Lyons pick, Susie Bower is the endorsed Liberal candidate.  Bower is the Chief Executive Officer of the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone.  She was a Meander Valley councillor before resigning to focus on a year-long campaign for Lyons.  She is also a former University lecturer in business and earlier served for ten years as Director of Community and Economic Development at Dorset Council.  Bower was a candidate for the Liberals at the 2021 state election but her 2517 votes was the lowest of the six Liberal candidates, including being outpolled by fellow councillor Stephanie Cameron despite Cameron's weaker local council vote-getting record.  

Other candidates:

Liz Johnstone (Greens), former community organiser with the Wilderness Society, low-profile lead candidate for the party in 2021 state election
Emma Goyne (One Nation),  hairdresser, mounted archer, studying for physiotherapy diploma, claims to have been prevented from studying by vaccine mandates (read: by choosing not to get vaccinated).  
Jason Evans (United Australia Party) "running his own small business, working in community radio and community services focusing on mental health, homelessness and housing."
Troy Pfitzner (Jacqui Lambie Network) "small business owner".  After much trawling through Facebook videos I believe he drives removals trucks. 
Rhys Griffiths (Liberal Democrats), customer support clerk
Anna Gralton (Animal Justice), agricultural researcher (PhD)

Ballot order in Lyons is Liberal, LDP, Labor, AJP, UAP, JLN, PHON, Green

Assessment:  Getting a bit murky.  The Jessica Whelan saga means that instead of thinking of Lyons as ALP 5.2%, it makes more sense to think of it as something like ALP 1% - so if it's a close election or Tasmania doesn't deliver for Labor then the Liberals could get it back.  At this stage however, given the national swing, it hasn't seemed at major risk of falling.  This might change following the adverse publicity for Mitchell in early May especially if more old social media material emerges.  Mitchell is a prolific social media user, and if nothing else the loss of his accounts takes away one of his campaign methods.  That said Lyons is not a very "online" electorate.  

Section 44 Section

Many uncompetitive candidates at this election will be ineligible under Section 44.  That only means they will be disqualified if elected, not that they cannot run, are likely to be subject to any penalty, or that their ineligibility will impact the result.  However it is surprising that parties still expose themselves to embarrassment by running candidates who appear to be ineligible. 

The candidate checklist system in use is flawed as a result of proposed changes not being passed - in particular details of the candidates' places of birth are usually absent.  However the forms are a chance for candidates to demonstrate that they are clearly eligible and a number have not done this.  

I am not a lawyer and do not have full information but there are a number of candidates who I am yet to be convinced are eligible after reading their form and online descriptions of relevant countries' laws, especially concerning automatic citizenships by descent.  They may nonetheless be eligible (eg for the UK, citizenship by descent often depends on whether parents were married.) If I become convinced they are eligible I will note this accordingly.  These include:

* Salt (JLN, Bass), Rankin (Local, Braddon) and Griffiths (LDP, Lyons) -  parents from UK

* Ramsden (LDP, Clark) - parents from UK, renunciation submitted but no evidence of processing being completed (must be completed by nomination date to be eligible)

* Baker (AJP, Bass) - parents both German

Razay (Ind, Bass) has renounced UK citizenship, argues that he cannot renounce Syrian citizenship (which is acceptable if true) but form also does not make it clear why he is not a Turkish citizen by descent.   Also the form for Love (AJP, Franklin) is a bit confusing as it says she renounced a claim to UK citizenship in 2019 but was never a citizen herself (father from UK so not clear why not).  


Friday, April 8, 2022

Legislative Council 2022: McIntyre

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MCINTYRE (New seat replacing parts of former Apsley and Western Tiers)

Incumbent Tania Rattray (IND), former member for Apsley from 2004.

This is my third guide for the Tasmanian Legislative Council this year. Previous guides are up for Huon and ElwickI hope to find time to update my voting patterns analysis for the Council before the election as well, though that will be very difficult given that there is a federal election impending.

I will be doing live coverage of the Legislative Council elections on this site on election night, Saturday May 7.  

For several years the Liberal government has had a difficult upper house to deal with.  The current numbers are four Liberal, two somewhat right of centre independents, four Labor, four left independents, and one ex-Labor vacancy.  The good news for the government is that this year is a free swing for it, and the pressure is on Labor.

Not-A-Poll Reset Time (Again!): Gutwein Resigns

Less than three weeks after the last change of state Premier we've had another one with Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein resigning just under a year since the last election, and being replaced by long-serving Deputy Jeremy Rockliff.   And so here we go again.

These were the previous round's results.  Unsurprisingly, almost nobody expected another leader at state or territory would go before the May federal election.  


Eagle eyes may have noticed that Gutwein originally had four votes.  I was out without access to my computer when the news came through and could not immediately close the poll.  I have determined that two votes for Gutwein were cast after the news that he was resigning and these votes have been removed.  Likewise, the current round has been set to close at 6:30 pm on the expected federal election day.

Gutwein's departure marks the fifth time in the past six terms that the Tasmanian Premier elected at an election has not served out the term.  However, thanks to Will Hodgman's full term 2014-2018, Tasmania is still slightly more stable than New South Wales, which has had a change of Premier five terms in a row (in one of those cases two changed).  

Can we get to the federal election and (presumably) get one of Morrison and Albanese out of this poll before another one drops?  



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Poll Roundup: Lukewarm Budget Reception As Coalition Remains Way Behind

FIVE POLL AVERAGE 54.6 TO LABOR
Little evidence of "budget bounce"
Labor would comfortably win election "held now" 
Leads in polling at this stage tend to contract

Herewith a roundup of polling following the Budget.  It's been a long time since I had time for the last federal polling roundup here, so I just want to set the polling scene before moving on, time (what is that?) permitting, to Tasmanian House of Reps seat guides, a Tasmanian Senate guide [EDIT: that will come after nominations are released] and hopefully a general assessment of the prospects for the Senate.  In short, the government's current polling is rather bad, but it is not all over yet.  To take things pollster by pollster, with the three who are Australian Polling Council members at the top and the laggards and backsliders at the bottom:

Notice: No Free Interviews List

NOTE 13/4: At present this list is not active (other than the boycott on Sky News) following technical assistance from a supporter.  However newspapers that do not give me free subscriptions should be warned that they may be refused interviews without warning at any time should the problem recur.

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This page is a list of media sources to which I am no longer providing most free interviews until further notice.  (See carve-outs below.)

The major reason I refuse to provide free interviews to some media is hard paywalls.  I like being able to see online media stories relevant to my work in explaining polling and electoral themes to the public immediately.  I especially find it absurd if I do a story for a paper and then I cannot see how they have written up the interview without paying for it.

Some newspaper "paywalls" are not actually true paywalls and it is easy to read the material on the pages in various ways.  However in recent times some papers have become much tighter in preventing access.

I do have free access to image files of most newspapers but this is slow and cumbersome, and doesn't help with articles that have not yet appeared in print editions.

Sure, newspapers have to make money, and paywalls are an entirely legitimate part of that.  But exploiting sources by taking their expert comments, making money from the story, and giving the source not even free access back is not - at least, I refuse to be part of it, even though I would otherwise like to help them to improve their coverage of political and polling matters.  It is not viable for me to subscribe to every newspaper I need access to - I would need to do much more paid work to do so, and then I would not have time to do interviews anyway.  

Not all outlets with hard paywalls will be put on the list.  I have from time to time been hired by The Mercury, and am a subscriber to them and through that to all the Murdoch tabloids.   Other outlets that hire me will also not be listed if they happen to have a hard paywall, but those on the list below have never hired me.  Also there are some local rural papers that I don't have cause to read much and may not mind giving an interview to despite being paywalled.  And if I happen to have an easy way around the paywall - whatever it is - then a paper won't be on the list.  

Once newspapers are added to the list I may, for a few weeks of grace period, provide the odd free interview to journalists from said paper who ring me up and are unaware of the boycott.  They will then be told about it and asked to pass it up the line.  

Also, this list applies only to electoral/political/polling interviews.  Interviews relating to my scientific work or chess are not affected (except in the case of chess for Sky News).  

Exemptions may be made in specific cases - these will usually be ones that involve the media giving me something I might not otherwise see, such as full results of a poll.

This list will be edited from time to time.  

On list for hard paywall

Outlets will be removed from this list if they provide me with a free subscription or hire me to write for them.  Note that I do not approach outlets with pitches, but I do accept commissions.  

(There are currently no papers on this list.)

On list for other reasons

Sky News

Sky News was involved in a beatup about an ABC interview about chess and racism that I was involved in.  To be interviewed by me again without payment, Sky News must to my satisfaction broadcast an apology for airing material that characterised an interview I was involved in before it had been conducted, for inappropriately using tournament footage of Tasmanian chessplayers including me as background to its culture war on this matter without the consent of all involved, and for making no effort to present a balanced presentation of facts or opinions concerning the story.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Peter Gutwein Resignation And Recount

Retiring MP: Peter Gutwein (Liberal, Bass)

Recount from 2021 election for remainder of 2021-25 term
Recount for seat between Liberals Simon Wood and Greg Kieser 
Simon Wood won recount easily as expected

Jeremy Rockliff elected Premier unopposed. 

Recount updates 26 April

Recount updates will be posted here today as news arrives.  The number of ballot papers to be counted is very large but an outright majority for Wood on the first count (pretty likely I think) would speed things up.  Not sure if the result will be today, but if so I'd think late today.  

Tuesday night: the update late tonight shows Wood with nearly two-thirds of the vote with nearly two-thirds counted, confirming he will win tomorrow.

Wednesday: Wood wins on primaries as expected and by lots, 61%-28.9%.  

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In breaking news Premier Peter Gutwein has announced he is resigning as Premier and from Parliament later this week.  Gutwein was Premier for just two years and three months but in that time led his party to the retention of its majority (a very unusual feat for a seven year old government while the same party held office federally) and vied with Mark McGowan for the highest opinion poll ratings recorded in Australian polling history.  Gutwein's leadership of the state during the early days of the pandemic was acclaimed, though in the last few months opinion of the state's reopening has been divided and his ratings were starting to return to earth.  Gutwein has stated he is resigning for more family time.  His devotion to a massive workload saw him hospitalised with exhaustion and he has had some difficult challenges recently including isolation after a family member tested positive, and also revealing that he was a survivor of an attempted sexual assault as a teenager.  

This is very fresh and this article will be updated as the Premiership story develops.  I will start with the known unknown - the battle to replace him, and other parts as I can.

Friday, April 1, 2022

"Reignite Democracy" Cooks Up Some Senate Preference Myths

Yesterday my attention was drawn to a flier that had been circulated by Reignite Democracy Australia, a fringe right anti-mandates group, and also to a course they are offering.  The website is promoting online sessions in "how the electoral system works", how it supposedly favours the major parties and the Greens, how it supposedly works against "freedom loving and independent candidates" and how voters can "turbocharge their vote".  There's a bit of a push around for voters for parties like Liberal Democrats, One Nation and United Australia to preference each other, with supporters of the idea labelling all those involved "freedom parties" or "freedom friendly", even though some of the parties involved hardly have a libertarian bone in their bodies on any issue that isn't COVID-related.

I believe that everyone, whatever their politics, should have access to the facts about the electoral system and how they can make best use of their vote to represent their views.  Unfortunately what we have with this flier and may get with the presentations is some eccentric claims about the Senate specifically by one Peter Newland (apparently a veteran JSCEM correspondent, though not one I have noticed before). The claims sound plausible because of the detailed discussion of electoral systems, and indeed received a fairly friendly response on Twitter yesterday when tweeted, perhaps because they were more interesting than the usual RDA paranoia about voting in pen, stylising 1s and 7s and so on.  However, they still contain serious errors and unsound strategic voting advice.  It appears that RDA may be about to give a platform to junk psephology and recommend it to children.