Tasmania Votes 2018

28 February 2018

Tasmanians will go to the polls on Saturday 3 March 2018. Liberal Premier Will Hodgman is hoping to become just the second Liberal Premier in Tasmanian history to be re-elected with a majority government. Hodgman is pitted against Labor’s Rebecca White, who was elected unopposed as Leader in March 2017 to replace the retired Bryan Green.

GRACosway will report further on the outcome of the Tasmanian Election once results are known.


Political Landscape

The Tasmanian House of Assembly consists of 25 members across five multi-member electorates – Bass and Braddon in the north (covering Launceston, Devonport, Burnie and Ulverstone); Franklin and Denison in the south (including Hobart, Kingston and the Huon valley); and Lyons in the State’s centre (encompassing the northern and southern midlands along with the east coast).

The Tasmanian Liberal Party presently holds 15 of the 25 seats in the lower house, but the loss of three seats could cost the Liberals their majority. To better understand how the results may play out, we must examine the Hare-Clark electoral system, used exclusively by Tasmania.


Tasmania’s unique Hare-Clark electoral system is somewhat reflective of the Australian Senate, in that candidates are elected by reaching a quota of votes achieved, either as votes cast for the candidate or votes transferred as preferences – often referred to as the ‘quota-preferential’ electoral system. Of course, Senate voting differs in that ‘above the line’ ticket voting is available; parties order their candidates on the ballot paper; and parties have control of preference distribution. Conversely, the Hare-Clark system does not offer ticket voting; voters decide preference distribution; and the ballot paper order is randomised. The system also prohibits how-to-vote cards on Election Day.

Due to the multi-member make-up of electorates under the Hare-Clark system, there are no geographical ‘key seats’ as observed in other jurisdictions. Instead, a majority government is decided by the number of electorates in which a party secures three of the five available seats. For example, should a party win two seats in all five electorates, it will attain a majority government if an additional, third seat is won in three electorates. This key third seat can be described as a ‘hinge seat’.

The election will produce one of four results:

  1. The Hodgman Government is re-elected with a majority;
  2. The Liberals lose their majority but hold more seats across the five electorates than Labor;
  3. Liberal and Labor hold an equal number of seats while both parties fail to secure a majority; or
  4. The Labor Party wins government with a majority.

So what do the polls say?

An Enterprise Marketing and Research Services (EMRS) survey, published on 27 February has revealed 43 per cent voter support for the Hodgman Liberal Government, marking a 12 per cent increase since the previous EMRS poll in December last year. The results indicate steady support for Labor on 32 per cent, while the Greens vote was recorded at 11 per cent. According to media reports, these figures represent a slim majority Liberal Government result, with the incumbents holding 13 of the 25 available seats.

An earlier ReachTEL poll conducted on 22 February for The Mercury revealed 46.4 per cent support for the Liberal Party, 31.1 per cent for Labor and 12.1 per cent for the Greens, along with 5.2 per cent support for the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN).


Key Parties & Issues


  • Premier Will Hodgman
  • Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff

Premier Will Hodgman has served as Tasmanian Premier since 2014, when he became only the third Liberal leader to hold a majority government in the State’s history. In the lead up to Saturday’s election, his party has pledged a $757 million healthcare package delivered over six years; compared to Labor’s $560 million promise. On the energy front, the Liberals have pledged to remove Tasmania from the National Energy Market (NEM), to adjust state energy prices based on Tasmanian system costs rather than Victorian prices, as is currently the case.

The Hodgman Government has also announced an affordable housing strategy with $125 million in funding, which will include the construction of 1,500 new affordable homes. The party will halve stamp duty for first home buyers of properties valued under $400,000, and waive land tax for three years on up to 2,000 new properties used as long-term rentals.

In conjunction with the Turnbull Federal Government, the Hodgman Government has also committed $95 million to clean up the Tamar River.

Liberal insiders are quietly confident that they can retain government. Through a highly targeted seat-by-seat strategy, they believe they can hold the 13 seats required to stay in power for another term.


  • Opposition Leader Rebecca White
  • Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne

Rebecca White has led the Tasmanian Labor Party since March 2017, following the resignation of former party leader Bryan Green. Her focus has since been on Tasmanian healthcare, pledging $560 million to improve the standard of care and introduce 500 additional staff across the State.

Additionally, Labor’s campaign has focused on an anti-pokies platform, campaigning strongly against the presence of gambling machines in pubs and clubs and pledging to remove machines from such premises by 2023.

In an open letter to the Tasmanian Premier and Opposition Leader, a group of lawyers and anti-corruption authorities have called on both parties to disclose all political donations received from the gaming industry, prior to Saturday’s election. The Greens have threatened to move a motion of no-confidence in the Liberals should the Premier fail to divulge the details of all political donations.


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