Tuesday, August 11

The preference distribution has been completed. Goodwin has been elected on the sixth count with 10,143 votes (51.1 per cent), with independent Richard James in second place on 5510 (27.7 per cent) and Greens candidate Wendy Heatley in third on 4125 (21.2 per cent). Goodwin’s final two-candidate margin over James will never been known, but is probably about 10 per cent. Here’s the piece I wrote for Crikey last week:

Tasmania experienced what might have been an Australian electoral first on Saturday: a by-election at which the incumbent party didn’t have the bottle to contest its own seat. Spooked by the circumstances of sitting member Allison Ritchie’s departure, state Labor calculated that a forfeit in the eastern Hobart upper house district of Pembroke would be less humiliating than a defeat. While the scattered vote among eight candidates leaves a lot of preference counting to be done, it’s clear the seat will go to Liberal candidate Vanessa Goodwin, a Hobart criminologist who had previously performed well at state and federal elections without quite bringing home the prize.

Labor’s calculation that the absence of its own candidate might muddy the waters in favour of a friendly independent proved badly misplaced. The field included two independents identifiable with the Labor cause: Honey Bacon, widow of former Premier Jim Bacon, and James Crotty, a left-winger considered to be the front-runner for a Labor preselection which never eventuated. Both woefully under-performed despite considerable pre-election publicity, failing to poll 20 per cent between them, while Goodwin easily headed the field with 38.5 per cent.

Goodwin will become only the second endorsed Liberal candidate to win a seat in the history of the Legislative Council, owing to a peculiar set of electoral rules which are so encouraging to independents (conservative ones in particular, due to the concentration of Liberal support in rural areas) that the party has long felt its interests are best served by keeping above the fray. The decision to break from tradition by fielding Goodwin, who had been lined up for a second tilt in the five-member lower house division of Franklin, represented a bold challenge by Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to David Bartlett’s government, which is due to seek a fourth four-year term in March.

As well as demonstrating Hodgman’s tactical nous, Goodwin’s success boosts the Liberal cause in terms of morale, fundraising potential and parliamentary talent, providing a capable addition to an Opposition which has had the same seven-member line-up since the 2002 election disaster. The result also suggests Labor has next to no chance of again returning three members in Franklin, which it only narrowly succeeded in doing in 2006. Two of the three then elected, Paula Wriedt and former Premier Paul Lennon, have since left parliament, leaving low-profile neophytes to defend the seats. One more loss on top of Franklin would cost Labor its majority, returning the Greens to a balance-of-power position they have not enjoyed since the major parties sought to nobble them by reducing the size of parliament in 1998.

Monday, August 3

I have an article on the by-election, probably subscriber only, in today’s Crikey. Acres of detail from Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, while Antony Green looks at the bigger picture.

Saturday, August 1

Please note that these figures are not being updated beyond election night.

# % PROJ.
Vanessa Goodwin 7134 38.5% LIB 38.5%
Honey Bacon 1848 10.0% IND ALP 19.1%
James Crotty 1681 9.1%
Wendy Heatley 2414 12.7% GRN 12.7%
Peter Cooper 1407 7.6% OTH 29.7%
Richard James 2117 11.4%
John Peers 1751 9.4%
Kit (Sharon) Soo 201 1.1%
100.0% of booth count conducted
75.2% of enrolled voters counted

8.49pm. 2007 more pre-polls have been added, and like the first batch they’ve gone over 40 per cent to Goodwin. Please note that my projections in the above table are no longer telling you anything useful now that all the booth votes are in.

7.41pm. Fair bit of local variation for informed locals to chew on. John Peers evidently has a lot of fans in the Bligh area, where his 21.0 per cent was over double his vote just about everywhere else. His support there clearly came at the expense of Goodwin, who recorded easily her worst result there. Her other weak booths were strongly Labor Risdon Vale and to a lesser extent Warrane, which provided a pocket of support for Honey Bacon who had her second best result after Risdon Vale.

7.34pm. Goodwin has saved the best till last, Tranmere giving her 49 per cent. The booth vote is now completed.

7.30pm. Excellent results as expected for Goodwin from Lindisfarne and Bellerive, about 40 per cent in each.

7.27pm. The three outstanding booths, Bellerive, Lindsfarne and Tranmere, were the weakest three of all for Labor at the 2007 federal election, hence the disparity between my projection for Bacon plus Crotty and the current total.

7.24pm. Large Howrah booth is Goodwin’s best yet, with 42.3 per cent.

7.21pm. Loatta Road ditto, and a particular poor result for Bacon and Crotty.

7.19pm. Biggest booth yet, Geilston Bay, is another strong result for Goodwin.

7.18pm. Warrane in, another strong result for Goodwin.

7.15pm. Bligh and Risdon Vale are less good for Goodwin, but Montagu Bay continues the trend. The result is no less beyond doubt.

7.10pm. Antony Green pretty much calling it for Goodwin as well.

7.05pm. Wentworth Street booth confirms the trend, and even at this early stage I’d say Goodwin’s lead is unassailable, given the size of the gap between her and her nearest rival, the poor show by Crotty and Bacon, and the tendency of preferences in these elections to a) spray all over the place due to the fact that how to vote cards aren’t allowed, and b) to a lesser extent exhaust due to the fact that voters only have to number three boxes.

6.50pm. 377 pre-polls provide further evidence that Goodwin is looking at an unassailable 40 per cent of the primary vote, and that Bacon and Crotty are doing less well than I expected.

6.45pm. The first booth to report is a normally very strong one for Labor – Mornington – and it’s given Vanessa Goodwin a very strong 34 per cent, and weak results for Bacon and Crotty.

6.33pm. Note the low Greens vote (6.9 per cent) from the mobile count, from an electorate that went about 16 per cent Greens at the last state election and 11 per cent at the last federal, suggesting it’s a conservative sample.

6.25pm. 131 mobile booth votes added, looking encouraging for Vanessa Goodwin, but perhaps these are old people’s homes and such. Still tinkering with my table. When booth results come in, it will show “projected” total votes for Liberal, independent Labor (Honey plus Crotty), the Greens and the others combined, based on swings compared with the 2006 election. I don’t make any guarantees about how good the predictive power this will be.

6.00pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live count of the by-election for the Tasmanian upper house district of Pembroke. There being no small rural booths, I’d say the first results should be in in about 45 minutes. The Electoral Commission’s results should, I guess, be appearing somewhere around here. I’ll hopefully have a table up soon in which numbers will be crunched, but if you find Antony Green more trustworthy he will be doing much the same here.

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