By-elections, Brisbane and Tasmanian Elections

I’m publishing a lot of material on different elections over on my ABC Election site.

In this post I’ll point to all the new material and extract a few recent updates from each site.

Dunkley By-election

Only a small number of postal votes remain to be counted. As is normal practice, these postal votes will be left unopened and be augmented by the final trickle of postal votes that will arrive this week ahead of the cut-off for return on Friday 15 March. Results may not be updated until that final batch is counted.

If there are updates they will be published on my ABC Dunkley by-election page. Postal votes followed the usual trend of the first counted batches heavily favouring the Liberal Party but Labor performing better with the later returning postals. I run through the numbers on my Dunkley commentary page.

Cook By-election

A writ was issued today for the Cook by-election to be held on Saturday 13 April. It is being held to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Last week the Liberal Party selected Simon Kennedy to contest Cook. He was the unsuccessful Liberal candidate for Bennelong at the 2022 Federal election. All the details on my Cook by-election page.

Dunstan By-election (SA state)

Nominations have closed for the Dunstan by-election and registered how-to-vote material published. My Dunstan by-election page has been updated with profiles of the five candidates and the site includes links to the registered preference recommendations. The recommendations are as you would expect, Greens and Animal Justice favouring Labor ahead of Liberal, the Australian Family Party putting the Liberal Party first.

The high stakes for this by-election held in the Liberal Party’s most marginal seat are revealed by the attacks both sides have launched on their opponent’s candidates. Here’s an extract from the page.

Both major parties were quick out of the blocks in announcing candidates. Both sides have spent the time since digging into their opponent’s backgrounds. All the candidates are painting themselves as locals, some more successfully than others.

All five candidates have previously contested elections. Liberal Anna Finizio contested Hindmarsh at the 2022 Federal election, a safe Labor seats in Adelaide’s western suburbs. Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon was the Labor candidate for Dunstan against Steven Marshall at the 2022 state election, and had contested the local Federal seat of Sturt in 2019. The Greens’ Katie McCusker contested Sturt in 2022 and previously contested Dunstan, then known as Norwood, at the 2010 state election. Animal Justice’s Frankie Bray contested the southern Adelaide seat of Boothby at the 2022 Federal election and the outer northern Adelaide seat of King at the 2022 state election. And the Australian Family Party’s Nicole Hussey was her party’s candidate for the inner south-west seat of Badcoe at the 2022 state election.

In her 2022 tilt at Hindmarsh, Finizio described herself as growing up and living in Adelaide’s western suburbs which has caused some to questions her credentials as a local.

Cressida O’Hanlon came under attack by the Liberal Party over a claimed breach of integrity standards. Her husband James O’Hanlon is a director of SA defence firm Citadel Secure, and before the by-election he sent an e-mail to his wife about about arranging a meeting with a Minister. At the time Cressida was working for Labor MLC Reggie Martin. Which Minister and what level of government the e-mail was referring to is unclear, as is whether a meeting ever took place. The Opposition released the e-mail with claims about breaches of lobbying rules but the issue was dismissed by the premier.

Anna Finizio ran into a problem when the Labor Party released information about her having applied for a job with Labor’s then Shadow Attorney-General Kyam Mayer. The application was in 2020 at a time when the Liberal Party was in government and the application was from her then address at Grange in Adelaide’s west. Finizio was not interviewed for the position. Eight months later she took a position with a Liberal Minister. Finizio’s defence was that she was applying for a research rather than a political position. The application had been disclosed before the Liberal Party chose Finizio as its candidate. The Labor Party also claimed Finizio had ‘airbrushed’ links to a failed family business from her public profiles.

That both sides have been mounting such personal campaigns against the other party’s candidate is a sign of how important this by-election is. A win for Labor would increase the government’s majority and cause some Liberals to question the future of Liberal Leader David Speirs.

Brisbane City Council, Queensland by-elections for Inala and Ipswich West

Interest is turning to the Brisbane City Council elections with one week to go. For those who haven’t already read my Brisbane City Council election preview, it has a substantial amount of background material on the election, highlighting rising support for the Greens since 2008, how the 2022 Federal Greens victories in Brisbane, Griffith and Ryan translate to the Council boundaries, plus the implications of optional preferential voting for the contest.

In short, the LNP has held the Lord Mayor’s position since 2004 and held a majority of seats on Council since 2008. The LNP holds 19 of the 26 Council wards to five held by Labor, one by the Greens and one by an Independent. The Greens finished second to the LNP in five wards in 2020, and taking into account the party’s 2002 Federal success in the areas covered by those wards, the Greens have a strong chance of gaining wards. Labor has its own hopes in several wards. Will the LNP maintain its majority? Can the Greens end up with more seats than Labor?

I’ll be running a full results service on the Brisbane City Council elections and the two state by-elections at the ABC Brisbane Council election site. I’ll also be contributing to coverage on ABC Brisbane local radio on Saturday night.

Postal voting is down on 2020, there having been a surge in postal applications that year as the first Covid restrictions were imposed. One week of pre-poll voting suggests demand for pre-poll is still high. I’m updating the postal and pre-poll figures on my Brisbane Updates Log page. Similar figures are being added to the Inala By-election and Ipswich West By-election pages.

Tasmanian Election

My Tasmanian election site continues to be updated. I’ve managed to get pictures and profiles of most candidates up on the five electorate pages. Last week on twitter I caused some amusement by publishing the picture below. It is test page where I visually check I have given pictures the correct name. It looks very dramatic on my new wide screen monitor.

This week I hope to add more information on the main candidates competing to win one of the seven vacancies in each electoral division. I also hope to add some explanatory detail on how the Hare-Clark count works using the 2021 election preference distributions.

As I’ve set out in my Tasmanian election preview, local EMRS polling has the Liberal Party short of a majority but Labor even further away. A Redbridge poll published last week showed the Liberal Party’s position to be much weaker but still ahead of Labor. The Redbridge poll points to a greatly expanded crossbench in the newly expanded House of Assembly.

The question is whether the polling will cause voters to behave as they have done in the past, gravitating towards the party most likely to produce majority government. Or will the 2024 election return the current government in minority and the next parliament turn out to be a transitional period like the parliaments elected in 1996 and 2010.

The extract below from my election preview sets out this argument.

The Ghosts of Elections Past

Recent history has seen Tasmanian governments begin campaigns with slim prospects of retaining majority government, only for voters to gravitate back to the government as the party most likely to win a majority.

The clearest example was the 2006 election when prospects for Paul Lennon’s Labor government looked grim as the election was called. It quickly became apparent the Liberal Party had no chance of victory, and voter support shifted to the return of a majority Labor government.

The last time a majority Tasmanian government was defeated and replaced by a new majority government from the opposition was in 1982. But that was a badly divided Labor government that had lost its majority in the Assembly.

The 1982 result was also before the rise of the Greens as a third force at Tasmanian elections. Politics in 1982 was still a two-party dance, a defeat for the government would be victory for the Opposition.

Changes of government since have not been as clear cut. The last three changes of party government in 1992, 1998 and 2014, followed a transitional parliament where the government lost its majority at an election, but it took a second election before the opposition could form majority government.

  • 1989 – the Gray Liberal government lost its majority and was replaced by the minority Field Labor government supported by the Greens from the crossbench.
  • 1992 – the Field minority Labor government was defeated and replaced by the majority Groom Liberal government.
  • 1996 – the Groom government lost its majority and the Greens held the balance of power. Labor declined to form minority government. Groom resigned as Premier, replaced as Liberal Premier Tony Rundle leading a minority government.
  • 1998 – the Rundle government, backed by Labor, reduced the size of the House of Assembly to disadvantage the Greens and called an early election. There was a change of government with the Labor Opposition wining a majority.
  • 2010 – the Bartlett Labor government lost its majority at an election that split the Assembly 10 Labor, 10 Liberal, five Greens. After feigning to resign, Premier Bartlett formed a coalition government with the Greens.
  • 2014 – Premier Lara Giddings dumped Greens members from Cabinet and went to the 2014 election as a minority government. The Liberal Party and Leader Will Hodgman were easily elected as a majority government.

Jeremy Rockliff is seeking to win a fourth term in the current period of Liberal government. Will the election play out better or worse for his government than it did for Labor seeking a fourth term in 2010? There are parallels between the current government and Labor’s first three terms from 1998 to 2010.

For Labor, Jim Bacon led his party into government in 1998 and won re-election in 2002. As Will Hodgman did for the Liberal Party in 2014 and 2018.

In 2006 a new Premier in Paul Lennon won a third term for Labor, as Peter Gutwein did for the Liberal Party in 2021.

For Jeremy Rockliff, he will be hoping his dream for a fourth term Liberal government doesn’t turn into a nightmare like Labor’s 2010 campaign which was followed by coalition and minority government before a smashing defeat at the next election.

The one difference in 2024 is that the Greens are not the only third-party players in the electoral contest. If neither side wins a majority, there may be more than just Greens on the crossbench. And despite the Premier’s reasons for calling an early election, divided numbers on the cross bench could offer a stable minority government option.

What I’m up to this week

This is a week for testing. Connection and parser tests with the ECQ to make sure we can receive their data and that the ABC’s computer system correctly deals with the data. I’m also building Tasmanian and Dunstan by-election election systems ahead of tests next week. A lot of Commission key record identifier data to be added to the systems this week.

March has turned out to be a much busier election seasons than it looked it would be at the end of 2023.

1 thought on “By-elections, Brisbane and Tasmanian Elections”

  1. Hey Antony, I think the ABC election website is the only eligible and widely available site to view results. I’d love to see even a very surface level article into how it works because it looks very interesting.

Leave a Reply