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Federal Election 2016

Jan 12, 2014

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Held since the 2010 election by independent Andrew Wilkie, Denison encompasses Hobart along the western shore of the Derwent River and the hinterland beyond, with the eastern shore Hobart suburbs and southern outskirts township of Kingston accommodated by Franklin. Like all of Tasmania’s electorates, Denison has been little changed since Tasmania was divided into single-member electorates in 1903, with the state’s representation consistently set at the constitutional minimum of five electorates per state.

Grey and red numbers respectively indicate booths with two-party majorities for Andrew Wilkie and Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Prior to 2010 the seat was presumed to be safe for Labor, notwithstanding the local strength of the Greens. Labor’s first win in Denison came with their first parliamentary majority at the 1910 election, but the seat was lost to the 1917 split when incumbent William Laird Smith joined Billy Hughes in the Nationalist Party. Over subsequent decades it was fiercely contested, changing hands in 1922, 1925, 1928, 1931, 1934, 1940 and 1943. It thereafter went with the winning party until 1983, changing hands in 1949, 1972 and 1975.

Denison was held through the Fraser years by former state MP Michael Hodgman, who joined his four Tasmanian Liberal colleagues in picking up a swing against the trend of the 1983 election due to local anger over the Franklin dam issue. However, Hodgman’s margin wore away over the next two elections, and he was defeated in 1987 by Labor’s Duncan Kerr. Hodgman returned as a state member for Denison in 1992 before eventually bowing out due to poor health in 2010 (he died in June 2013). His son, Will Hodgman, is the state’s current Liberal Opposition Leader.

The drift to Labor evident in 1984 and 1987 was maintained during Kerr’s tenure, giving him consistent double-digit margins starting from 1993. In this he was substantially assisted by preferences from the emerging Greens. The preselection which followed Kerr’s retirement in 2010 kept the endorsement in the Left faction with the nomination of Jonathan Jackson, a chartered accountant and the son of former state Attorney-General Judy Jackson.

What was presumed to be a safe passage to parliament for Jackson was instead thwarted by Andrew Wilkie, who had come to national attention in 2003 when he resigned as an intelligence officer with the Office of National Assessments officer in protest over the Iraq war. Wilkie ran against John Howard as the Greens candidate for Bennelong in 2004, and as the second candidate on the Greens’ Tasmanian Senate ticket in 2007. He then broke ranks with the party to run as an independent candidate for Denison at the state election in 2010, falling narrowly short of winning one of the five seats with 9.0% of the vote.

Wilkie acheived his win in 2010 with just 21.2% of the primary vote, crucially giving him a lead over the Greens candidate who polled 19.0%. The distribution of Greens preferences put Wilkie well clear of the Liberal candidate, who polled 22.6% of the primary vote, and Liberal preferences in turn favoured Wilkie over Labor by a factor of nearly four to one. Wilkie emerged at the final count 1.2% ahead of Labor, which had lost the personal vote of its long-term sitting member Duncan Kerr. This left Wilkie among a cross bench of five members in the first hung parliament since World War II.

Wilkie declared himself open to negotiation with both parties as they sought to piece together a majority, which the Liberals took seriously enough to offer $1 billion for the rebuilding of Royal Hobart Hospital. In becoming the first of the independents to declare his hand for Labor, Wilkie criticised the promise as “almost reckless”, prompting suggestions from the Liberals that his approach was insincere.

The deal Wilkie reached with Labor included $340 million for the hospital and what proved to be a politically troublesome promise to legislate for mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines. When the government’s numbers improved slightly after Peter Slipper took the Speaker’s chair, the government retreated from the commitment. Wilkie responded by withdrawing his formal support for the government, although it never appeared likely that he would use his vote to bring it down.

Wilkie was comfortably re-elected at the 2013 election with 38.1% of the primary vote, despite an aggressive Labor campaign that included putting him behind the Liberals on how-to-vote cards. Both Labor (down from 35.8% to 24.8%) and the Greens (down from 19.0% to 7.9%) recorded double-digit drops, and most of the northern suburbs booths which had stayed with Labor in 2010 were won by Wilkie. His final margin over Labor after preferences was up from 1.2% to 15.5%, while the Labor-versus-Liberal two-party preferred count recorded a 6.9% swing to the Liberals and a Labor margin of 8.9%.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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775 comments

775 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Denison

  1. ruawake,

    Vic Labor got in bed with Geoff Shaw to take revenge on Ken Smith for reporting him.

    This is fact. They should be embarrassed. Luckily the Vic opposition leader is such an arse clown I can’t see him ever being Premier

  2. At times when I am getting frustrated with the facist rants of Sean look to that column n te right of my screen

    Labor 52%
    Coalition 48%

    Labor 80 seats
    Coalition 65 seats

    Now I know 3 years is a long time, but this is the change within the first 100 days. It can only get worse for Abbott and the Coalition of Four.

    We could see the Coalition self destruct and the other Parties that enable the Liberal Abbott to be PM decide that he is too much of a liar and back flip artist to deserve their on-going support.

  3. lizzie@715

    Uh-oh.


    Australia’s Trade Minister says #TPP close to being sealed http://www.theaustralian.com.au/from-gday-usa-to-promised-pacific-pact/story-fn59nm2j-1226800177929?sv=7fb519582c91c567bfe4c9e4bec6f2c4 … No mention of IP issues with impact on health & internet

    Abbott is opening Australia up for a screwing like you wouldn’t believe. For Abbott, the advantage is that the effects won’t be really obvious till he has left office – or so he hopes.

    For Australia, it means goodbye PBS, goodbye bulk billing, goodbye medical innovation, and hello to a health system on par with the USA – the worst health system of any developed country in the world.

    You can also say goodbye to local content rules of any description – goodbye film, internet and book industry, goodbye local television and radio.

    However, on the plus side, this probably means goodbye ABC (except as a re-broadcaster of foreign made content, of course).

  4. [At times when I am getting frustrated with the facist rants of Sean look to that column n te right of my screen]

    I bet you used to wank yourself silly for all those bad polls during the Howard years as well.

  5. Sean Tisme

    Posted Monday, January 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    ruawake,

    Vic Labor got in bed with Geoff Shaw to take revenge on Ken Smith for reporting him.

    This is fact. They should be embarrassed. Luckily the Vic opposition leader is such an arse clown I can’t see him ever being Premier
    ===========================

    You got a link to support your rant?

  6. Tism

    Keep you jocks on. Ken Smith has just been knobbled by his own party pre-selecting someone else for his seat. Yet its the ALPs fault?

    A doozy even by your low standards.

  7. Sean Tisme

    Posted Monday, January 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    At times when I am getting frustrated with the facist rants of Sean look to that column n te right of my screen

    I bet you used to wank yourself silly for all those bad polls during the Howard years as well.
    —————–

    Talk about unhinging…wow…settle down before you blow a gasket

  8. I wouldn’t be dismissing Daniel Andrews chance of becoming Victoria’s Premier, talking to several people within the public sector/government there is a real sense that the Government faces an uphill battle to win the next Victorian election.

    Even Liberal Party people are not overly confidence of winning.

  9. Player One

    [Abbott is opening Australia up for a screwing like you wouldn’t believe. ]
    Abbott has a propensity to be willing to sell his arse. Looks like he’ll sell the whole nation’s. Even Howard ran a mile from this deal once the implications ,same now as then , were revealed.

  10. Luckily the Vic opposition leader is such an arse clown I can’t see him ever being Premier

    I’m not close to Victorian politics but judging by Tony Abbott, arse-clownery seems to be no barrier to high office, at least in the Federal sphere.

  11. Ruawake,

    it just surprises me that Vic Labor would jump into bed with Geoff Shaw to try and punish a speaker who reported him for coruption.

    It really hits new lows for Labor… but this doesn’t surprise me, rorters seem to be their bread and butter these days.

  12. [ Abbott has a propensity to be willing to sell his arse. Looks like he’ll sell the whole nation’s. Even Howard ran a mile from this deal once the implications ,same now as then , were revealed. ]

    Sad, isn’t it? Abbott makes Howard look like a leftie!

  13. [Abbott is opening Australia up for a screwing like you wouldn’t believe.]

    His proposal to “cut red and green tape” by rescinding 8,000 pieces of legislation is just the start.

  14. [I wouldn’t be dismissing Daniel Andrews chance of becoming Victoria’s Premier]

    Have you seen this guy in action?

    Maybe he’ll be just what the doctor ordered for Victoria though, they really need their economy destroyed Tassie style to wake up and smell the coffee

  15. Player One

    One question is why last time Murdoch and the GG lead the charge against the deal and why so far they have been :tumbleweeds: ?

  16. Rorters

    People who claim taxpayer funded travel to attend a mates wedding

    People who claim taxpayer funded travel to check on their investment properties

    People who claim travel to attend rugby games

    People who claim taxpayer funded travel to attend AFL games

    People who claim taxpayer funded travel to promote their book

    People who claim taxpayer funded travel to ride a bike

  17. Rod Hagen

    405.

    It and I have had a long and (initially) contentious relationship – it used to break down in the most ridiculous places when I was driving (for example, in a torrential rainstorm, 300 metres from home, out of mobile range…)

    We put it up for sale. Had a very keen buyer turn up — and the car would not start. Towed it for kilometres to jump start it, no luck. So we banished it to the shed for about three years, where it gathered a nice collection of spider webs on the inside and peacock poop on the outside.

    Hubby rescued it a couple of years ago and it has been much better behaved since.