Tasmania, the smaller state, was a more interesting election because it
was less well-charted territory. Only New South Wales and Queensland
have had their Labor governments run for a third term, and both were
re-elected comfortably: NSW with a small swing in its favour,
Queensland with a moderate swing against but holding its majority
largely intact.


Tasmania confirmed the pattern. Labor suffered an adverse swing of
probably a bit over 3%, but may well pick up a seat. I see the most
likely outcome as Labor 15, Liberals 7 and Greens 3, although many
commentators are saying 14-8-3. The difference is the last seat in
Franklin, where the second Liberal and third ALP are both short of a
quota (by 1.75% and 2.77% respectively), but Labor seems slightly
better placed – the Liberal vote is more concentrated in its lead
candidate, so there is more opportunity for leakage, and any leftover
Greens vote is more likely to go to Labor.

There is also some uncertainty about Bass (where Labor should take a
seat from the Greens) and Lyons (where the Greens should hold off a
challenge from the Liberals), so we’ll have to wait for the preference
distributions to be sure: it’s effectively a Senate election where
everyone votes below the line, so strange things can happen. But
there’s no doubt that Paul Lennon has the mandate in his own right that
he wanted.

All the more reason to anticipate next year’s elections in New South
Wales and Queensland, where governments will be seeking a fourth term.
(NSW was at the leading edge of the cycle, but Queensland has now
caught up because it has three-year terms.) Both are looking very shaky
– yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph
had a poll showing 9% swing in New South Wales – so it could be that
will finally be the point in the cycle that shifts significantly to the
Coalition.

On the other hand, Labor majorities in both states are so large that
it’s hard to see them disappearing in one hit. And if they survive,
it’s all systems go for April 2008, when we will break the record for
the longest period in Australia’s history (since March 2002) without a
change of government.

Peter Fray

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