Update on Tasmanian nominations, Dunkley and Dunstan by-elections

It’s been a hectic week preparing for Saturday night’s coverage of the Dunkley by-election, as well as dealing with the close of nominations for the Tasmanian election and the Dunstan by-election in South Australia.

Here’s a pointer to what I’ve been up to.

Dunkley By-election – 2 March

Knowing that Google recommendations send thousands of people to my blog site whenever there is an electoral event, i’m putting a link here to my Dunkley coverage.

I will not be blogging Dunkley results at this site. I will be on the ABC News channel and iView on Saturday night covering the results. There will also be live results on my ABC Dunkley by-election page. This will include polling place results, a map of polling place results, and I also have a Commentary page where I will be doing… Commentary. If the count takes several days to resolve, I will be doing my vote updates and analysis on the Dunkley by-election Commentary page.

I’ve also been keeping up to date with the pre-poll and postal voting rates for Dunkley which you can find in this blog post.

Dunstan By-election – 23 March

An interesting by-election will be held in South Australia on 23 March. Former Liberal Premier Steven Marshall is resigning from his inner-eastern Adelaide seat of Dunstan. The seat has an ultra-thin Liberal margin of just 0.5%. Nominations closed today and five candidates will contest. You can find the details on my ABC Dunstan By-election page.

Apologies for there not being much detail on the candidates. I’ve also been dealing with 167 candidates for the Tasmanian election where ballot draws took place today, and testing and preparing for the Dunkley by-election coverage. I’ll get more detail on the candidates up next week. There should also be coverage of the Dunstan result on 23 May, though it might get swamped a bit by coverage of the Tasmanian election.

Tasmanian Election

My Tasmanian election site has had a complete re-organisation in the last week and it now has an index page. I’d also point out that the preview page has been completely re-written with considerably more information about the election and recent Tasmanian electoral history. I’ll add more on the contest in each division next week now that we have the nominations.

I’m also doing a semi-blog post for the by-election at the Update Log link. I’ve been adding material there today on nominations, some of which I’ve extracted and published below.

Nominations closed on Thursday and there were a record 167 candidates. This is the most candidates ever to contest a Tasmanian election. Here’s a graph of the candidate numbers since 1969.

Much of the increase in numbers is due to the Assembly increasing from 25 to 35 members. There are extra candidate for the Labor, Liberal and Greens teams. A better measure of the candidate numbers is the average number of candidates per vacancy, as shown in the chart below.

The average candidates per vacancy at this election is 4.8, the highest ever recorded for a 35-member Assembly election. The all-elections record is 5.5 per vacancy in 1998 at the first 25-member election. The surge that year was caused by some parties having already selected seven candidates for each division before a decision was made to reduce the Assembly to 25 and five elected per division. Tasmania First also ran full lists of candidates in 1998 as a fourth party. The average was also higher at 5.0 per vacancy in 2014 on the defeat of the Giddings government.

Obviously the number of candidates is up in each division. Bass increases from 19 to 32 (3.8 per vacancy to 4.6), Braddon from 21 to 33 (4.2 per vacancy to 4.7), Clark from 24 to 35 (4.8 per vacancy to 5.0), Franklin from 22 to 31 (4.4 per vacancy to 4.4) and Lyons from 19 to 36 (3.8 per vacancy to 5.1).

Looking at it another way, with seven candidates each for Labor, Liberal and Greens, the 'Other' candidate numbers in each seat are Bass 11 (+8 on 2021), Braddon 12 (+7), Clark 14 (+5), Franklin 10 (+4) and Lyons 15 (+12).

The increases in candidates per group increases the depth of the ballot paper. But what determines the width and size of the ballot paper is the number of columns. The record number of columns on a Tasmanian ballot paper before 2024 was 10 in Denison (now known as Clark) at the 2014 election.

Once candidate names and groups were released on Friday, it revealed a record number of groups. The chart below shows the total number of columns on ballot papers across the five divisions.

There are a total of 49 columns in 2024, an average of just under 10 per division. The previous record for the most ballot paper columns was was 36 in 1996, an average of just over seven columns per ballot paper. There were 22 in 1989 and 21 in 2010, just over four columns per ballot paper. Note that the number of columns includes the 'Ungrouped' column of ungrouped Independents.

There will be a record 11 columns on the ballot papers for Bass and Clark, 10 for Franklin, 9 for Lyons and 8 for Braddon.

Registered parties are allowed to have their own column if requested. The process of registration requires a party to prove it has 100 members and therefore replaces the requirement for nominators. Independent must have 10 nominators.

For their own group though, either as a single Independent or as grouped Independents, independent candidates wanting a group must have 100 nominator signatures. The nominators must be on the roll for the electoral division the group is contesting. Requiring 100 nominators in a division is a tougher test than 100 members in the state to register a political party. However, party member's names are published in the Government Gazette as part of the registration process, which makes it a tougher test than the largely private process of nomination.

Here's a summary of the nominations by party.

  • Liberal 35 (+7), Labor 35 (+9), Greens 35 (+10). All running seven candidates in each division.
  • Jacqui Lambie Network 12 (+12). Did not contest 2021 election but had 12 candidates in 2018. Not contesting Clark but three candidates in each of the other four divisions.
  • Animal Justice Party, 5 (+1) candidates, one in each Division. Also contesting Braddon in 2024.
  • Shooters, Fishers, Farmers TAS, 11 (+2) candidates. Not contesting Franklin.
  • Local Network, 5 candidates, +4. Four candidates in Clark and one in Franklin.
  • Independents 29 (+17). The Federation Party nominated one candidate in 2021 but has since disbanded.
  • Of the 29 Independents, 14 have nominated as single person groups, up from only two in 2021. The names of the single column Independents are listed below.
  • 15 Independents appear in the Ungrouped column, up from 10 in 2021. There are four Ungrouped candidates in Braddon and Lyons, three in Clark and two in Bass and Franklin.

Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney has been talked up as an Independent with a chance of winning in Braddon, but he appears in the Ungrouped column which lowers his prospects of victory. With his own column Freshney would always appear top of the column. With four candidates in the Braddon ungrouped column, Freshney will only top the column on one-in-four ballot papers.

The chart below breaks down Independents by type, those grouped into columns, and single Independents lumped together as 'Ungrouped' in the final column of the ballot paper.

Between 1989 and 2002 there were 19 Independent groups spread across five elections, 15 as two candidate groups, three with three candidates and one with four.

The law on ballot paper grouping was changed ahead of the 2006 election. There has been only one multi-candidate Independent group since. The surge in single candidate Independent groups in 2024 is shown clearly by the chart below. Of the 21 single candidate Independents groups, 14 are at the 2024 election.

The first single candidate Independent was in 2006, Steve Martin in Braddon. The second Andrew Wilkie in Denison in 2010. Leo Foley, Marti Zucco and Michael Swanton had solo columns in Denison in 2014, there were none in 2018 before two in 2021, Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey in Clark. The single candidate group option has also been used by minor parties including Socialist Alliance, Tasmania First, Australian Christians, Animal Justice, Federation Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.

The single candidate Independents in 2024 are listed below.

  • Bass: (4) Lara Alexander, Mark Brown, Jack Davenport, Tim Walker plus single candidates for Animal Justice and and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
  • Braddon: (1) Craig Garland plus single Animal Justice Party candidate
  • Clark: (4) Louise Elliott, Sue Hickey, Kristie Johnston, Ben Lohberger plus single candidates for Animal Justice.
  • Franklin: (3) Clare Glade-Wright, Tony Mulder, David O'Byrne plus single candidates for Animal Justice and Local Network.
  • Lyons: (2) Angela Orford, John Tucker plus single candidates for Animal Justice.

And a few extra notes on past nominations. Some of the other parties that have nominated significant numbers of candidates for Tasmanian elections are -

  • Australian Democrats: 10 candidates in 1989, 4 in 1996, 9 in 1998, 7 in 2002
  • Extremely Greedy Extra 40% Party: 10 candidates in 1996
  • National Party: 18 candidates in 1996, 13 in 2014
  • Tasmania First: 26 in 1998, 3 in 2002, 4 in 2006
  • Palmer United Party: 22 in 2014
  • Jacqui Lambie Network: 12 in 2018, 12 in 2024
  • Shooters, Fishers, Farmers: 11 in 2018, 9 in 2021, 11 in 2024
  • Animal Justice: 4 in 2021, 5 in 2024

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