Well, what an interesting day March 20, 2010 turned out to be. I woke up to a bunch of people saying that they weren’t going to vote for a road as if that was the only thing on the entire agenda for the election, and things just got more interesting from there.
My impressions of the election campaigns run by each party:
I felt the Liberal party ran a very positive campaign, but perhaps not strong or appealing enough. They made a great effort at getting their policies and promises out there, but it was constantly overshadowed by the obvious attempt to cash in on the Rudd and Obama tactics in previous years of “Change”.
“Real Change” just didn’t seem to work in Tasmania as well as it could have done. It wasn’t backed up strongly or charismatically but rather it was backed up by a collection of fairly bland TV ads that really didn’t push the message, almost like they were simply hoping that “Change” was a magic password that automatically led to majority government. Sorry, but you need to do more than that.
Labor I was very disappointed with. In spite of some people commenting to me that all Liberal and Labor were doing the entire campaign was mud slinging, I didn’t see nearly as much mud slinging from the Liberals as what I saw from Labor. In fact, by the end of this election campaign I still had no idea what the Labor party was actually going to provide to ME over the next four years if they were re-elected to majority government – and I did look, admittedly not for very long, but even on Labor’s own website I couldn’t find policies and promises as to what they would do if elected to majority government for another term.
Instead, the only thing I saw from Labor this entire election campaign was the reliance that if they just say how bad everyone else is, then maybe people will forget all the negative aspects of their own government over the past twelve years – no, that’s not bias, it’s the truth. They flew back to the last Liberal majority government, because that group did a bad job then every Liberal government will only ever do a bad job. In fact, the only ‘positive’ ad that I saw from Labor was Bartlett talking to someone about leadership, and even that didn’t really impress me. Finally they resorted to outright lies, and somehow managed to convince their side of the fence that voting for Liberal means all the money in the state is going to be spent on upgrading the Midlands Highway. Successful? Probably. Honest? No.
The Greens were actually the most impressive party to watch during this campaign, in my opinion. Apart from the fact that Nick McKim never seemed to leave Salamanca during the entire five week campaign, they ran an effective and smooth campaign with integrity. The only negative advertising I saw from the Greens was in the final week of the campaign and that was actually being critical of the other two major parties for their negative campaigns!
The Greens have shown themselves to be growing into a real political party over the past four years and now during this campaign, they also managed to strongly present themselves as a party with real policies and real agendas that go beyond just hugging trees and saving possums.
The results themselves took shape fairly early in the night of counting. I think most people were expecting a hung parliament by the end of the night in spite of the big claims leading up by both major party leaders that they could win majority government. That was an unlikely dream from the beginning.
At the end of counting on the day, the result looks to be:
Labor: 10 seats confirmed
Liberal: 9 seats confirmed
Greens: 4 seats confirmed
The interesting part from here is the fifth seats in both Braddon and Denison which will both be decided on preferences. Braddon is going down to the wire between a third Liberal seat for Brett Whiteley or a seat for Greens Candidate Paul O’Halloran while Denison is technically a three way battle between Independent Andrew Wilkie; Greens candidate Helen Burnet and Liberal Elise Archer or Richard Lowrie.
I am doubtful that the Greens are going to get enough cross-party preferences to push Paul O’Halloran over the line in Braddon. I would be more inclined to think that Brett Whiteley will scrape across the line in the end in Braddon, giving the Liberals a 3-2 strong representation over Labor in that seat.
Denison’s harder to predict because of the Wilkie factor. I very much doubt that Wilkie will get enough secondary support to actually get across the line, which means his number one votes may well be the deciding factor in that seat. I know that he’s a Green in all but party and that automatically leads to the conclusion that his preferences may well go to the Greens as well. We’ll wait and find out.
My final prediction:
Bass: Michelle O’Byrne, Brian Wightman (ALP), Peter Gutwein, Michael Ferguson (Lib), Kim Booth (Green)
Braddon: Bryan Green, Brenton Best (ALP), Jeremy Rockliff, Adam Brooks, Brett Whiteley (Lib)
Denison: David Bartlett, Scott Bacon (ALP), Matthew Groom, Elise Archer (Lib), Cassy O’Connor (Green)
Franklin: Lara Giddings, David O’Byrne (ALP), Will Hodgman, Jacquie Petrusma (Lib), Nick McKim (Green)
Lyons: Michael Polley, Rebecca White (ALP) Rene Hidding, Mark Shelton (Lib), Tim Morris (Green)
My prediction might be optimistically Liberal, but that’s also to be expected given that my own vote did come down narrowly on the Liberal side of the fence in this election. In the end, though, I’m predicting 11 Liberal seats, 10 Labor seats and 4 Green seats.
The big message that all three political parties need to take out of this election, though, is that times are changing. It’s a particularly important message to the major parties not just in Tasmania but around the country. Australia’s democracy has been, for over one hundred years, a battle between Liberal and Labor ideologies but times are changing and life is no longer just about those two parties.
For this hung parliament to work, then both Liberal and Labor are going to have to realise that they can no longer just wave the Greens under a carpet and ignore what they have to say. All three parties are actually going to have to start working together and occasionally compromising for the betterment of Tasmania and the Tasmanian people.
All three parties are now in a position where they need to remember that they are elected as representatives of their constituents, not as representatives of their party. A hung parliament can work provided the politicians are ready to talk to one another and their constituents instead of hiding behind partisan ideology.
Democracy is changing, and the younger generation in particular are getting sick and tired of the same old rhetoric coming from the same old politicians. I really hope we begin to see a new age in Australian democracy where representation of the people, rather than representation of the party begins to take control.