Hillary is enjoying the Derwent Riviera and has a few tips after reading the form guide for tomorrow’s Tassie poll
After a decade in which the Greens had managed to get the balance of power in the Parliament twice, the Liberal and Labor parties cut a deal just before the 1998 election, decreasing the number of MPs per seat from 7 to 5. Amidst much Green wailing and gnashing of teeth about the need for a referendum, the electorate happily endorsed the deal, and the shrubhuggers found themselves with only one state MP.
Hillary is expecting Labor to be re-elected with a majority, either 14 or 15 seats. Any Green victories are likely to come at the expense of the Liberals. However, each of the five electorates have their own unique contests.
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Bass is based on Launceston, also including the state’s north-east coast. Residents of Launceston are slightly snooty towards Hobart, as Launceston was settled from Melbourne, not populated by the scum and refuse of Britain’s jails like Hobart. It has tended over the last decade to be the strongest Liberal electorate, and the most marginal federal seat. The best way to aggravate someone from Launceston, apart from ordering Cascade instead of Boags, is to pronounce their city as “Lawn-seston” rather than “Lon-seston”.
The final seat in Bass will be critical to the election outcome. Labor will want to win three seats, though it is hampered by the retirement of two sitting MPs. Peter Patmore’s retirement has been greeted with glee by political journalists, and Gill James will now have more time to read shopping catalogues.
Former Miss Australia Kathryn Hay stands a strong chance of winning a seat for Labor. She will also be the state’s first indigenous MP, or more likely the first to admit it. Other Labor possibilities include Jenni Jarvis, despite the black marks of having worked for Comalco and Jocelyn Newman, and sports administrator Brian Roe, who will be out of the country organising transport at the Commonwealth Games.
On the Liberal side, Sue Napier will be elected with an increased vote, but fellow MP and homophobe David Fry could lose out to Mark Baker, who clearly has more support from the Liberal hierarchy. The Greens Kim Booth has some chance of winning a seat, but his chance will diminish the higher the Labor vote.
Braddon covers the state’s north-west coast, including Burnie and Devonport. It has always viewed itself as aloof from the Hobart/Launceston rivalry. In the days of Eric Reece, it was Labor heartland. Then it was seduced by the Liberals under Robin Gray, but in 1998 swung solidly back behind Labor. Liberal chances have been hurt further this time with the retirement of Tony Rundle and Bill Bonde.
Local Liberal chances have been dogged by the anti-gay law reform faction of the party conspiring against some of the party’s new younger candidates. Young Jeremy Rockliff has a good chance of election, but is almost certain to challenge the result after fellow Liberal candidate Brett Whitely started to distribute how-to-vote cards with Rockliff last on the ticket. How-to-vote cards are banned without approval from all candidates on the ticket, and also against Liberal Party policy. Snipping will continue up till polling day. Local councillor Mike Downie also has a chance of being elected.
Labor’s three sitting MPs will be elected without any difficulty.
Denison covers the western shore of Hobart, in the lee of Mount Wellington. It is the seat of party Leaders, Ken Bacon, Bob Cheek and Green Peg Putt. To Liberal supporters in the north of the state, Hobart is a sort of modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, the place where all that is evil in the rest of the world leaks into Tasmania.
Peg Putt is certain to be re-elected in probably the greenest electorate in the country. It is then a matter of how far the Liberal vote will fall. If the Liberal vote stays high, Bob Cheek should drag in a second candidate, probably Michael Hodgman. Greg Barns would have attracted more votes to the ticket, but of course, Erica Betz made sure his sort of inquiring mind was weeded out of the Liberal Party.
Jim Bacon will easily be re-elected, as will Judy Jackson. If the Liberal vote is bad, a third Labor MP will get up, maybe young David Bartlett, campaigning with the support of ex-Premier Michael Field, or if the treehuggers and dope-smokers have their way, left-winger James Crotty.
Franklin covers the Hobart eastern shore, Kingston and the city’s outer southern fringes, as well as the rural Huon Valley. Along with the final seat in Bass, the last seat in Franklin is critical for Labor retaining its majority.
The Greens Nick McKim will win a seat if the Green vote increases. His campaign has been assisted by Under-Fuhrer Paul Lennon’s pushing forward of the southwood forest project in the rural Huon Valley, something of a major issue in the area.
If the Greens do win a seat, the question is whether is will be at the expense of the Liberals or Labor. The Liberals have lost both sitting MPs, in Peter Hodgman and Matt Smith. The two most likely candidates for victory are Martin McManus, and the aforementioned Will Hodgman.
Labor has three sitting members in Paul Lennon, Paula Wriedt and Neville Oliver, and a fourth good candidate in Lara Giddings. If Labor gets three quotas, it will be a battle between Oliver and Giddings for the last spot.
The Democrats have a high profile candidate in Dr Bryan Walpole, former head of the Emergency team at Royal Hobart Hospital, in charge of dealing with the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre. Unfortunately, he is at something of a big disadvantage in this campaign he is working as a doctor in Macquarie Island at the moment and can only press the flesh with penguins and elephant seals.
Lyons covers everything not in the other four electorates. It includes the east coast holiday towns, the west coast mining towns, the Derwent Valley and mysterious central highlands, as well as rural areas in the north around Deloraine. The Parties always have to do a lot of work pre-selecting candidates that balance different parts of the electorate.
Labor has a real grip on three seat with sitting MPs Ken Bacon, David Llewellyn and Michael Poley. The Liberals have two sitting MPs in Rene Hidding and Deputy Leader Denise Swan. Expect no change in Lyons.
Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]