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.


Seat Profile

McIntyre (see map) is a new seat created in the 2017 redistribution from the northern part of Apsley and the northern part of the former Western Tiers (previously Rowallan).  The seat is weirdly shaped but thematically somewhat coherent - it's rural and forested hinterland surrounding Launceston in various directions, albeit not all of it.  Towns include Scottsdale, Bridport, St Helens, Scamander, Deloraine, Perth, Longford, Westbury and Railton.  McIntyre also includes the Furneaux Group of islands and the Fingal Valley.  

Given its makeup, McIntyre is unsurprisingly a conservative seat.  At the 2021 state election it voted 61% Liberal, 24.1% Labor, 8.6% Green, 3.9% Shooters.  St Marys was the only booth in the north of the state topped by Labor.  The Greens vote reaches into the high teens in some booths along the face of the Western Tiers and the northern east coast.  In one small booth, Meander, the Greens outpolled Labor.  The Liberal vote reached 71.5% at the Scottsdale booth, 76.6% at the Scottsdale pre-poll and 79.3% at Peter Gutwein's home town, Bridport.  

Voters in the former Western Tiers part of the electorate (Meander Valley and surrounds) have not voted in the Legislative Council since 2012 where they were dragged out for a lopsided token contest between Greg Hall and the Greens.  

Incumbent

Tania Rattray (Facebook, linkedin) is the independent incumbent since the seat's creation, having been assigned there as MLC for the former division of Apsley, much of which is included in McIntyre.  In 2004 Rattray narrowly topped a diverse field of ten candidates with 16.7% of the primary vote in Apsley, but pulled away on preferences for a 55.5% two-candidate result against her final opponent Brendan Thompson.  In 2010 she was re-elected unopposed.  In 2016 she was only tokenly taken to preferences by Labor, Greens and a fairly low-profile independent combined, coming just 26 votes short of an outright majority in a very easy win (I estimate it would have been something like 64-36 2CP if thrown to completion.)

Over time Rattray's voting behaviour relative to the rest of the Council has moved about to some degree.  On average I have placed her somewhat right of centre but in some samples I have placed her about midway between the major parties (see 2021 edition here).  In eighteen years I cannot remember Rattray attracting any controversy beyond routine disagreements over political views.  Prior to politics Rattray was a supermarket owner, a senior pharmacy assistant, and Councillor and briefly Deputy Mayor of Dorset Council, which is entirely within McIntyre.  

Apsley: Challengers (2)

(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. Any differences in the length of different candidate sections reflect differences in amount of available/(in my view) interesting material; candidate sections tend to be longer when candidates have past electoral form.)

Mitchell Houghton (Greens) (linkedin), is a horticulturalist who operates a business called Green and Tidy Garden Care.  He is also a former Officeworks team member, and has recently started university studies in social work.  He describes himself as an activist, including with the Bob Brown Foundation and for social justice and against corporate subsidies.  He contested Bass as a minor candidate for the party at last year's state election, polling 561 votes.  The TEC candidate list gives his place of residence as Blackstone Heights, slightly outside McIntyre.  

David Downie (Independent) is the former Mayor of Northern Midlands, a council area much of which is within McIntyre.  Downie was a Councillor for 32 years was elected Deputy Mayor easily in 2007 and re-elected in 2009 and 2011, and was elected Mayor in 2014 easily defeating former Lyons MHR Dick Adams.  In 2018 he retired from Council saying he achieved much of what he set out to do and wanted to focus on farming.  Downie is a farmer who runs sheep and cattle at Epping Forest, within McIntyre.  

Downie was also involved in Save Our Community Souls, a movement to stop the Anglican Church selling off local churches to fund redress schemes.  Since 2018 he has continued to be quoted in media fairly often, including on issues such as climate change, TasWater, bushfires and deer.  (At least I think they are all him; there are multiple David Downies in northern Tasmania.)   The TEC candidate list gives his place of residence as Campbell Town, slightly outside McIntyre.

Downie was active against the Liberal Government's proposed takeover of TasWater, alongside many other council figures.  The plan was dropped when it was blocked by the Legislative Council, but not before some sharp words from then Treasurer Gutwein about Downie's contributions.  Downie applauded the eventual resolution of the issue. At this stage I don't have much idea where Downie lines up politically.

Issues

Notes on issues perhaps affecting the McIntyre campaign will be added here as I come across them.

Campaign

Notes on the McIntyre campaign will be added as information comes to hand.  For a long time it looked like Rattray might be unopposed until Houghton was announced a few days before the close of nominations.  However the nomination of Downie does not seem to have been picked up in advance by any online media.  

I have not found any websites for Downie's campaign yet.  However several Downie signs were seen on farm fences across the western end of McIntyre over Easter.  

Prospects

The contest here will be between the incumbent and Downie; the seat is not near winnable for the Greens.   More needs to be seen of the campaign, especially from Downie, to comment in detail.  Rattray was convincingly re-elected in 2018 but her opponents were uncompetitive given their party endorsements and/or relatively low profiles.  Downie is very well known indeed in the Northern Midlands part of the electorate, while Rattray has in the past done very well around Bridport and Scottsdale (conservative areas anyway, but also her home base is in Bridport.)  There is a long history of former local government figures doing well in the Legislative Council and from what I have been able to find out so far Downie seems like a serious opponent.   That said, I wonder how much can be done when a campaign for such a sprawling seat is announced only four weeks out, and that should give an incumbent some sort of help.  

If the race is at all close - which it may not be - expect volatility on the night as booths come in from different parts of the seat.  

1 comment:

  1. David Downie. Put it this way, he ain't no Labor voter.

    ReplyDelete