Sunday, March 24, 2024

Tasmania Embraces Chaos: 2024 Election Tallyboard And Summary

TASMANIA 2024: Liberal Minority Government Expected (Subject to will of the parliament)
Labor appears to be not seeking to form government 
Rebecca White resigned leadership, Dean Winter to contest, Josh Willie and others may contest

LIB 14 ALP 10 GRN 5 JLN 3 IND 3

Links to seat postcount pages Bass Braddon Clark Franklin Lyons


Friday 5 April

Dean Winter has publicly announced that he is running for leader, with what he believes is the support of the Labor caucus. 

Informal Vote: Not Good Enough!

Ahead of the release of primary figures the TEC has advised that the informal vote increased from 5.13% in 2021 to 6.31%.  This suggests the informal vote rose with more counting as, eg, cases of duplicate numbers that had been missed on the night were spotted.  6.31% is a bad, though not catastrophic, result.  I warned that an increase in informal voting was likely because votes that were formal at the last election (1-5 with errors later) were informal at this election if the errors were at 6 and 7, but a full review will be needed to detect the specific causes of the increase - which might also be partly down to deliberate informal voting, an increased number of columns, etc.  Certainly I saw some informal votes that should have been saved under transitional savings provisions that I recommended.  In one case a voter had voted 1-6 within the Franklin Greens ticket, leaving a 7th Green blank, then numbered 8-31 in other columns.  The result of this is that their vote did not count at all, whereas in the ACT it would have been good for their first six candidates.  I can only hope that the increased informal rate does not change any outcomes (often it doesn't).   Incidentally, 2024 is the second highest informal vote ever, behind 1946 when for some reason 10.08% of votes were informal (possibly caused by confusing ballot instructions around the introduction of columns).  

The parliament - primarily the government - is to blame for not trying to fix this problem by at least allowing that a vote that was formal in 2021 would be formal in 2024.  However the TEC is also to blame because it has advised the government against measures that might increase exhaust and hence 
"reduce the effectiveness and accuracy of the Hare-Clark counting process".  This stance is addressed in my submission (Hare-Clark Is Not A Rolls-Royce System section) - what really reduces the effectiveness and accuracy of the system is excluding votes from it for no good reason. 


Tuesday 2 April

Noting that a Matthew Denholm article  reports Kristie Johnston and David O'Byrne to have promised "stability", in the case of Johnston also supply and in the case of O'Byrne to not support frivolous no confidence motions.  However it is not clear to me that Johnston is giving away confidence without concessions (which may include banning Dorothy Dixers in question time).  

Updates Monday

Rebecca White is expected to resign as Labor leader this afternoon with Dean Winter and Josh Willie likely to be candidates for leadership unless a unity deal is done.  Willie is from the left side of the party which has had the numbers in the past, but is not that well known outside Clark; it will be interesting to see if we get a contest and how it plays out.  I may have a separate article to cover the leadership contest if there is one.  
Update 12:30 White has indeed resigned as leader.  

Updates Sunday: Labor Folds, Or Does It?

After writing this article I have seen a report from journalists that "Labor declared last night’s election lost at a state administrative committee meeting today" (which would mean a leadership spill).   Methinks the Parliament when elected should be making that decision not faceless faction hacks.  There is no clear word from Rebecca White who has only conceded that it's "very unlikely" Labor can form government and at this stage has not resigned.  While I liked her speech last night some in her party may not have! Rather unclear what's going on with this.

White has now issued statements in which she said among other things:

"I think this result demonstrates that it’s very hard for Labor to win government and Jeremy Rockliff will be given the first opportunity under conventions to test his numbers and seek support from the parliament.

Ultimately it will be up to him to make it work."


"While there has been an overwhelming shift in votes away from the Liberal party they still hold the most seats in this election and convention will dictate that they will be asked by the Governor to form government."

Most seats is not a convention in Australian systems.  The Premier will be reappointed if he asks to be but that applies whether or not he has the most seats and whether or not he can form a government, because it is his right to "meet the Parliament".  Negotiations about the formation of government between parties are not normally a matter for the Governor; the parties conduct these on their own terms and the Governor is advised when the Premier/Prime Minister is in a position to do so.  

5:00 I have just looked at the Labor state rules.  The leadership falls vacant (16.4) "Following every House of Assembly election where the Party does not form Government,"  The test is whether or not the party forms government; as that fact remains unknown for now there is no trigger for it to be assumed.  Nor has anything said since the ABC's report (backed by another source) been consistent with the idea that Labor declared the election lost.  So has there been a garbled communication with the media, is somebody up to no good, or did this meeting outcome actually happen?  Clear as mud.  Also of interest is 16.10 under which Labor cannot allow Ministers from other parties (but it does not exclude independents) and also "the Parliamentary Labor Party shall not form a minority state government unless the Administrative Committee on behalf of the ALP membership has firstly been consulted".

7:00 25 seat estimates for #politas on current numbers (Lib-ALP-Grn-JLN-Ind)

Ba: 2-2-1-0-0
Br: 3-1-0-1-0
Cl: 1-2-1-0-1
Fr: 2-1-1-0-1
Ly: 2-2 last Grn, JLN or Lib

Lib 10-11 ALP 8 Grn 3-4 JLN 1-2 IND 2 

11:15 Matthew Denholm in The Australian suggests the decision has in fact been taken to not seek to form government (16.10) but the leadership ballot will wait til all the votes are counted.  Obviously, White cannot stay leader if Labor will not govern.  

Original Article

As the cries of "Four more years!" rang out on the tallyroom floor from the, for the moment, Liberal faithful, I only just resisted the urge to yell back "Don't you mean three?"  The Liberal Party was given a majority in 2018 and lost it and went to an early election after it could not manage one of its own people.  It won another one in 2021 and exactly the same thing happened but this time there were two of them!  It asked again in 2024 and the voters would not be fooled the third time.  It was right to ask because the Parliament had become illegitimate because of the Liberals' candidate selection and personnel management failures.  But now a minority government of some kind is the very clear will of the voters and the idea that we should have voted otherwise, the idea that we could have voted otherwise, is laughable.

Hare-Clark doesn't have two-party preferred as such, but rough estimates can be derived.  I may refine this later but this election between the major parties has been a draw, or nearly so.  The 2PP equivalent will be somewhere near 50-50 (which would be an 8% swing), perhaps with Labor just slightly in front, but under compulsory preferences it would have been about 53.5-46.5 to Labor.  I think a slight majority of voters wanted the Government gone, but enough of those of that view would have voted 1-7 and stopped that their ballot papers won't fully reflect that.  If either major party can form government without betraying what it said on the campaign trail about how it would do so (and without any defections, that's looking at you there Lambie Network), then that will be a fair result.

The major parties tried at this election to scare voters away from chaos, but both were themselves chaos that faked that its name was stability.  The Liberals offered a campaign as disordered as a candidate lineup that ranged from MPs to the left of Malcolm Turnbull to people who belong in One Nation or Australian Christians and should never have been endorsed by a major party.  The Liberal campaign was a hyperactive animal that thought that it would die if it did not throw three dead cats a week. But after leaving nothing on the table as it tried to prevent voters electing a hung parliament, it has come back with ... nothing.  It started the election polling in the mid to high 30s and it finished there.  At least there was some humour there but what on earth was that?

In Labor's case there will be some relief.  Facing disaster in the late uComms and Freshwater polls they have instead pulled up round the high end of the polling range (29% in Redbridge was their best poll of the year).  But still with a double-digit swing against a ten year old government coming off a COVID-boosted 2021 result, they have gained almost nothing on their disaster-strewn 2021 campaign. Federal drag effects aside - a far too rarely mentioned elephant in the room - that isn't good.

Moreover, to the extent it is "not bad", the result is stained by Labor's signage tactics at polling booths.   The signs trying to scare voters off voting for other parties were at best feeble-minded, dishonest and immature, and their placement either was illegal in multiple ways or should be made so for the future in the first 100 days of parliament.   What I saw last night of postal and prepoll impacts on the vote tallies (ie not much) casts doubt however on whether many voters were fooled.  I may revise this later but my initial view on the most likely explanation for Labor outdoing most of its polling is either some degree of polling error or soft Labor voters taking the "independent" option in polls then voting Labor anyway.  

The ALP campaign did not radiate chaos in the same way that the Liberals' did, but it also did not project enough real keenness to govern. (My favourite symptom of this was a Labor webpage that purported to tell you how much you would save on your power bill, but insisted on harvesting your email address before you could have the answer).  Labor tried to focus on core issues and the failings of government, but the attempt to display competence to fix them was marred by policy mistakes and not being able to match the Liberals' campaign energy (that said, I'm not sure anything could).   Above all else there is still the problem that Tasmanian Labor is mortified of the wedge.  I would say it struggles desperately to stand for things but that is wrong, too often it does not struggle for it does not try.  Labor's stadium approach was such a mess that even though the Liberals' policy was a potential death knell for the project for anybody with a brain, the Liberals were still able to market themselves as the clearly pro-stadium party and keep stadium supporters onside.  

Rebecca White's speech was mostly an excellent reflection of both the Liberals' hubris and the new realities confronting Labor as the diversity of anti-Liberal opinion spreads out, but the party's challenge is that it has boxed itself in with its no-deals rhetoric on the campaign trail.  It still seeks to flop into government on a no-strings-attached basis with the support of a crossbench that won more votes and as many or nearly as many seats as it did.  This is not New South Wales 2023 where Labor fell two seats short of a majority after smashing the incumbent government, and was never going to be.   If Labor gets lucky anyway here and can form a government without breaking its word, it's only because the government bit the hands that would feed it.

The Greens have done their own thing this campaign and polled exactly what polling said they would.  They are pretty well placed to pick up a bonus seat in Clark off the weakening of the key Independents there.  If they get that, it has been a very good outcome for the party, and even four seats would be solid.  For all that 13.3% of the vote is a long way from 21.6% in 2010 and the fact that they even got that may have to do with the Liberals giving them oxygen via a silly logging policy that even the logging industry had very mixed opinions of. 

The Lambie Network vote at 6.7% may seem like a strong one, but it is in fact on the same level as the party polls in federal elections (just under its usual Senate vote and just above its 2022 Reps vote after adjusting for not running in Clark).  There was probably a chance for JLN to do better here and they have underperformed their polling slightly.  Ultimately the JLN campaign while well presented and more disciplined than 2018 lacked logic in a very critical regard.  The party campaigned as a policy-free zone where voters should vote for quasi-independent candidates because they had been picked by Jacqui Lambie.  But if voters were meant to vote for its candidates, they should have been able to find out more about them, and information about what JLN candidates stood for was elusive.  We now have a long wait to find out which JLN candidates have won and more importantly who they will be in the parliament.  Will JLN stick together under this pressure or will it disintegrate as populist parties have often done?

And now, the independents.  For a starter, Tasmania has snubbed tealism.  Much energy was devoted to trying to build up "community independents" to replicate the success of teals on the mainland, but in Tasmania a vote for Labor or the Greens or an independent one has already heard of can always be a useful vote and there is no reason to vote for unknown teal/left indies.  Even indies with some local profile at councillor level in general failed, and Clare Glade-Wright getting just over 1000 votes after several months of effort shows this wasn't just about several of these campaigns being announced too late.  Many - not all - of the late indie runs were pointless vanity campaigns that cluttered up the ballot and I hope there will be less of this in future.

Voters have also snubbed defectors.  John Tucker in particular seemed to have hopes of winning but Tucker and Lara Alexander have been sent packing with a few percent of the vote each.  David O'Byrne's case was more of an ejection than a defection.  As with so many other things Labor could not present a coherent position on O'Byrne. His personal sins of the past were bad enough to kick him out of the parliamentary party a decade and a half later but not bad enough to remove him from the party overall, leaving him in an "Independent Labor" netherworld that trivialised the case for his exile in the first place and meant voters decided all no biggie.  His vote wasn't a vote for him as an independent, but would have come mostly from voters who still identified him with Labor and would be hoping for his reinclusion down the track.  The number of O'Byrne signs adorning Labor fences alongside Labor's is a testament to that and a testament to an issue management failure that the party as a whole has yet to overcome.

And while the Clark independent vote has remained high, the 3% swing against independents there despite their greater number and diversity suggests the seat is not on track to being Wilkified at state level.  It shows up the 2021 result as having been partly by default at the expense of Labor's 2021 disaster in the seat, and also partly the higher prominence of Sue Hickey at the time.  The switch of Josh Willie to the lower house has helped Labor to bounce back strongly.  

The way forward

Unless the Premier can read both the election results and the minds of the potential JLN winners far better than I can, his victory claim on election night was reckless and basically a nice-guy kind of Trumpism.  The paths to remaining in government go through the Greens who have a stated strong preference to work with Labor if they can, or the Lambie Network whose leader was furious at the Liberal campaign's domain name attacks, and claimed that her candidates were of like mind.  At least some of the JLN winners could be sympathetic to the Liberals and might be more forgiving of the Government's campaign style if they get something in return, but it is also not yet sure that JLN by itself is enough or if they will also need one of the independents.  For Labor it is possible they need both the Greens and JLN to govern, but if they beat JLN in Lyons or (a lot less likely) Bass then they get the alternative pathway of Greens + Johnston + O'Byrne.  (Isn't this fascinating?  The previous recent hung parliaments with the Greens holding sole balance of power were vanilla when compared to this one.)

The number of seats and votes won by the major parties is as nothing to the Governor whose interest is the confidence of Parliament.  Even if numbers line up against him, Premier Rockliff is entitled to be sworn back in to "meet the parliament" and make it vote him out.  He does not need a positive expression of confidence and supply to continue (just an absence of a no-confidence vote), but without one the parliament would look much less stable.  

Meanwhile we have a most exciting Legislative Council election to look forward to in May with three vacancies on the same day (one Labor, one Liberal and one left independent).  This will be a very important sequel for whoever the government is.  


PS: I recommend Ben Raue's summary of where the counts are at for those preferring a more graphical version!


  1. Glad I'm not the only one who was weirded out by in the inability of the Liberal chanters to count

  2. Thanks Kevin.
    I'm not sure Tasmania rejected the teals model down here. Rather I don't think the independents campaigns emerged from a true community consultation process as they did in Indi and some of the other very successful community-led campaigns on the mainland. Whether this is because Tas rejects this approach (for a variety of possible reasons) or whether the VfT movement needs time to deepen and get more established within the community as a community owned process is unclear.

    1. VfT has been going since before the last federal election. It has had plenty of time if there was any demand for the product. (Also on VfT I think it totally lost the plot when it came to the candidates it endorsed and came across as more an anti-big-three-parties movement than one focused on "community independents".)

  3. How likely do you think it is for Tasmania to go back to the polls?

    1. Doubt it would happen quickly. It does depend on which JLN get elected and how they behave but neither the Liberals nor them has an incentive to go back to the polls quickly.

  4. If the new government is dead on arrival (Libs/JLN lose all the close races), is it too late for another election to be held on the same day as the LC elections?

    If Labor instead forms some kind of government, I assume it would be the first time a leader has resigned less than a week after an election that they "won".

    1. Yes it is too late. In any case the Governor would be extremely reluctant to approve a dissolution before parliament had even sat, there are many precedents for rejection in that circumstance. There have been cases of leaders resigning quickly (but I think not a week) after winning - Ray Groom 1996 resigned and his party continued, Elliot Lewis won 1912 with a majority but quit six weeks after election day, Billy Hughes squeezed out by Country Party as a condition of forming government in 1922-3 federal.

  5. Kevin, amazing work as always. I had a couple questions I hope you could answer for me:
    1. At what date will the official results be finalized?
    2. At what date can we expect Tas Labor to choose a new leader?
    3. When can we expect an announcement of confidence/supply between JLN and the Libs?
    4. At what date do you expect the new Parliament to sit for the first time?

    1. 1. About this Saturday 6th unless there are recounts; any recounted seat by Wednesday 10th.
      2. If there is a contested ballot then based on the 2021 contested ballot I would expect it to finish around early May.
      3. The Government has to negotiate individually with each of the JLN members at least based on what the party has said so far. That would commence once it was known which JLN MPs were elected and could well result in an announcement within days but there is no time limit as to how long it might take.
      4. Possibly mid to late May after the Legislative Council elections.

    2. Voters in Tasmania have every right to know what deals..promises the 2 independents made...
      Was any thing signed ?

    3. The test of formality should be identified voter intention.... the example quoted was a clear green vote from 1 to 6...with 7th place vacant then 8 etc past 6 the voter intention was unclear. I would in all fairness count this as formal from 1 to 6 and a valid green vote

    4. Nothing has been signed yet, only noises made to the media.

  6. Isn't a vote that skips numbers but clearly shows order (without duplicates) a formal vote? I recall that being the case but can't remember which election.

    1. Western Australia has a savings provision to that effect (vote exhausts at point of error, which is why there are tiny levels of exhaust in WA lower house elections). Tasmania has no savings provisions for duplicates or omissions in the first seven at all.

    2. Sa has a savings provision too

    3. Yes a radically different one - parties lodge tickets and if the vote had been consistent with a ticket up to the first error then it is converted to the ticket vote.

    4. Wa system may be as good as my idea

    5. IMO a system like that should be rolled out to all Aus jurisdictions, including the current OPV ones ie voters are told to number every box but not punished for not doing so.

  7. The future of the Tasmanian Lower house and there fore the government is delicious for political tragics. The Labor leadership is in contention between representatives of the Right faction (Dean Winter ) and the Left (Josh Willie). The Right oppose any arrangement with the Greens full stop. The Left however are much more amenable.
    If Willie becomes the leader then a prospective coalition with the Greens becomes plausible giving the left coalition 15 seats to the Liberals 14.
    Now hold that thought a moment.
    David O’Byrne the former Left Labor leader is now an independent in Franklin and has pledged himself to making the parliament work.
    He is committed to the Stadium. A real prospect now is that he supports the Liberal government until the Stadium legislation is passed. That would remove a difficult issue fo a Labor/Greens prospective government.
    At that point he might find a pretext to dump the Liberals. That gives Labor/Greens/ O’Byrne 16 votes.2 short of the magic 18.
    Now we still don’t know where the Lambie 3 will land. On previous experience they are likely tobe anybody’s and everybody’s. That leaves the other 2 independents.Even though she has been around a while where she would jump is unclear. She is in favour of a strong Tas Integrity commission and had a fall out with the Liberals over the issue. She maybe attracted to a Labor Greens government. That leaves Garland a perennial candidate and previously a fisherman. That provides little hint as to where he might jump.
    However he might find the Speakership and the car and driver that goes with it an attractive perk to get home to the North West.
    Of course if Labor and the Greens were to form a coalition we would then need to watch for deserters from the Labor right. Ogilvie has already jumped ship on this well worn path to mix metaphors.
    All delicious


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