Category Archives: South Australia
South Australia and Tasmania voted today, March 20, to renew their legislatures. In South Australia, all 47 members of the lower house, the House of Assembly, are up f0r re-election in addition to half of the upper house’s (Legislative Council) 22 members. The lower house was last elected in 2006, and the 11 MLCs up for re-election in 2010 were elected or re-elected in the 2002 election. In Tasmania, all 25 members of the lower house (but no members of the upper house) are up for re-election in five 5-seat constituencies.
South Australia has been governed by Premier Mike Rann (Labor) since 2002, when Labor won power on the back of a maverick independent member, because the Liberals had won more votes that Labor itself. However, Rann’s Labor won a landslide re-election victory in 2006, with 56.8% of the 2PP vote and 28 of 47 seats. The opposition Liberals have had troubles within their leadership since the 2006 election, after former Premier Rob Kerin resigned in 2006. Iain Evans (2006-2007) and Martin Hamilton-Smith (2007-2009) followed him, until Isobel Redmond finally took over in 2009 following a leadership crisis and leadership contest within the party. However, Labor has taken a nosedive in polling since 2008, with a fair share of scandals and unpopular decisions hurting the party in polls. In the last poll prior to the election, the Liberals led 52-48 on the 2PP vote. However, as in Queensland’s last election, Labor performed better at the polls than in the polls, largely at the expense of the Greens. Here are quasi-final though still provisional results:
Liberal 41.4% (+7.3%) winning 18 seats (+4)
Labor 37.9% (-7.4%) winning 25 seats (-3)
Greens 8.0% (+1.6%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Family First 5.2% (-0.6%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Nationals SA 1.1% (-1.0%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Independents and Others 6.4% (+0.1%) winning 4 seats (nc)
The 2PP vote for Labor is at around 48.5%, though Labor has still won a majority on those numbers. An effective failure of South Australia’s ‘fair redistricting’ method, created to prevent this very type of result from happening.
The Liberals needed to pick up at least 10 seats to win the magic 24 seats needed to win, and they managed to pick up only four. In the rural seat of Chiffley, rural conservative voters turned against National MP Karlene Maywald, who, despite the Nationals’ close co-operation with the Liberals federally, actually is a member of the Labor government. The Liberals have won with 54% of the 2PP vote there. They won three seats in the Adelaide region from Labor; Morialta, Norwood (in the eastern suburbs, traditionally wealthy and Liberal) and the downtown seat of Adelaide. It failed to gain a number of seats it must win in order to win, including the coastal seat of Bright in Adelaide. Three Independents were re-elected: ex-ALP Kris Hanna, Geoff Brock and ex-Liberal Bob Such. In Mount Gambier, Don Pegler was able to retain the seat in Independent hands following the retirement of cabinet minister Rory McEwen.
In the Legislative Council, Liberals hold 39.1% on the initial count, against 37.8% for Labor, 6.6% for the Greens, 4.4% for Family First and 1.1% for the Dignity for Disability. 4 Liberals, 4 Labor, 1 Green, 1 Family First and 1 Dignity for Disability members will be elected, giving the new Legislative Council 8 Labor members (nc), 7 Liberals (-1), 2 Greens (+1), 2 Family First (nc), 2 No Pokies-Independents (nc, this is Nick Xenophon’s, now Senator federally, anti-gambling outfit), and 1 Dignity for Disability (+1). Former Democrat MLC, now an Independent, David Winderlich won 0.7% of the vote and loses his seat in the Legislative Council.
Tasmania, the island off the coast of Australia, has become a Labor-leaning state in recent years, but Tasmanian politics are far more local and parochial than politics in mainland Australia. The island, generally poorer than the mainland, includes inland areas where mining and logging are dominant and the more small-l liberal capital, Hobart and its suburbs. Unlike South Australia and most other Australian states, Tasmania does not have single-member electorates whose members are elected by IRV, but instead it has 5 5-seat divisions whose members are elected by STV. Like South Australia, it does have a Legislative Council, but members are not elected at the same time as the House of Assembly and they are elected in single-seat divisions. Labor has governed the state since 1998 (coming back dramatically from the verge of extinction in the early 90s), and won a huge victory in 2002 and a large (though smaller) victory in 2006. In 2006, Labor won 14 seats (and 49.3%) against 7 for the Liberals and 4 Greenies. The strength of the Greens in a state with important environmental issues (timber, mining, pulp mills) and natural areas relatively untouched by modern development, is another significant aspect of Tasmanian politics. The Greens won a record 17.1% in 1989, on the back of internal Labor divisions over the construction of a large dam in Tasmania. Their strength subsided a bit until 2002, when the party won 18.1%, though the Green vote slid to 16.6% in 2006.
Premier David Bartlett, in power since only 2008, has had to deal with a number of scandals in his government and the unpopularity of some of his policies. This election, he faces a stronger and more popular Liberal leader, Will Hodgman. Faced also by a Green resurgence, Labor stood in third with 21% in the last poll against 22% for the Greens and 29% for the Liberals. However, undecideds broke heavily in favour of the two largest parties. Here are quasi-final though still provisional results:
Liberal 39.1% (+7.2%) winning 10 seats (+3)
Labor 37.1% (-12.1%) winning 10 seats (-4)
Greens 21.3% (+4.6%) winning 5 seats (+1)
Others 2.5% (+0.3%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Here are results by electorate, counting by party :
Bass (NE Tasmania): Liberal 42.8%, Labor 34.7%, Green 20.5%, Ind 1.9%
Braddon (NW and West Tasmania): Liberal 44.8%, Labor 40.9%, Green 13.5%, Ind 0.8%
Denison (Hobart): Labor 36.8%, Liberal 29.8%, Green 24.2%, Andrew Wilkie 8.4%, Socialist 0.7%
Franklin (South Tasmania and Hobart suburbs): Liberal 41.4%, Labor 30.6%, Green 26.9%, Ind 0.5%, Socialist 0.4%
Lyons (Central Tasmania): Labor 43.3%, Liberal 36.3%, Green 20.6%
With only 39% going to the top party and one in five voters or so voting for the Greens, there are no big winners tonight in Tasmania. Tasmania already had a minority Liberal government between 1996 and 1998 and a minority Labor government between 1989 and 1992. That outcome seems most likely, but a Liberal-Green or Labor-Green government must also be on the cards, but the coalition option isn’t as popular. However, Labor staying in power seems to be getting unlikelier by the minute.
A by-election was held in the South Australian seat of Frome (for the state legislature) on January 17. We have just gotten the final results, which have been disputed and have an outside chance of still being disputed or even overturned.
Frome is a primarily rural constituency but is quite diverse in its make up. It goes from the industrial harbour city of Port Pirie in the northwest of the constituency to conservative rural areas in the southeast. Here is a map. It also includes the wealthy Port Broughton.
A very different Frome existed as a Labor seat in the far north of the state from 1938 to its total redistricting in the ’70’s. The name Frome was revived in 1993, but covering a very different part. Through the 1980s, Port Pirie and Port Augusta were joined together in the safe Labor seat of Stuart. The two centres were split by the new redistribution procedures and Port Pirie and nearby rural areas became the revived electorate of Frome. Despite it being a marginal Liberal seat on paper, Labor has never won it. Liberal Rob Kerin won the seat in 1997, and won re-election in 2002 (after becoming Premier of South Australia in 2001) on a very large swing to the Liberals (while the general mood was a shift against the Liberals, who lost powers to Labor). In 2006, the Liberal vote fell, and he won with 53.4% after preferences against the Labor candidate. Kerin resigned his seat in November 2008.
Since voting is compulsory in Australia, it eliminates the risk of having weird by-election results caused by pathetic turnouts. On another note, Australia uses Instant-runoff voting (IRV), also called preferential voting.
Here are the results. Geoff Brock is the Mayor of Port Pirie, and received support from, among others, anti-gambling Independent federal Senator Nick Xenophon.
Terry Boylan (Liberal) 39.2% (-8.9%)
John Rohde (Labor) 26.1% (-14.9%)
Geoff Brock (Independent) 23.6% (+23.6%)
Neville Wilson (National) 6.6% (+6.6%)
Joy O’Brien (Greenies) 3.8% (+0.1%)
Peter Fitzpatrik (One Nation) 0.7% (+0.7%)
After distribution of preferences (called 2PP in Australia, or Two-Party Preferred).
Geoff Brock (Ind) 51.7%
Terry Boylan (Liberal) 48.3% (-5.1%)
Be careful with these results. ABC still has a Liberal victory in a 2PP “runoff” against Rohde, as does the State Electoral Office. However, Brock claimed victory a few hours ago, even though Boylan and the Liberals did likewise a few days ago. Brock won the seat on the back of Labor preferences, especially in Port Pirie. His FPV support was very localized around Port Pirie and its suburbs, where he did well. He took off a lot of FPVs from Labor. Polling booth results are especially interesting in this case.
If there was to be a Lib/ALP 2PP matchup, Boylan would win 51.7-48.3. That would represent a swing in favour of Labor.
In any case, this is the first time in South Australian political history that the opposition loses a seat in a by-election, and this by-election certainly isn’t good news for the Liberals, who will face a general election in 14 months. Another bad sign is the swing to Labor in the 2PP matchup if Labor had made it. Australian by-elections often see a swing in 2PP against the sitting government.