Saturday, 26 April 2014

Tasmania III


Huon is slightly more complicated than Rosevears. For one thing the incumbent is not standing again next election, opening up the field. For another, probably as a result of this, it has seven candidates running.

Voting history is not hugely informative here, with (as usual for the Tas LegCo) a mostly Independent history.

A few obvious differences from Rosevears are apparent. While both seats have only one (officially) party-affiliated candidate, Rosevears' was a Liberal while in Huon this was from Labor. For another, Huon's history dates back much further. And, while only two of these candidates are known to have lost the seat in an election (including the afore-mentioned Labor candidate) the older incumbents are harder to find information on. The candidates more than a century ago – a large number of which have names starting with J – are harder to research and may or may not have lost the seat. In more recent history, though, the incumbent of Huon has not lost since a few months after the introduction of decimal currency.

Although there is no incumbent and no useful trend, however, the history of the seat does prove quite a useful predictive tool. For the decade from 1976 to 1986, it was held by Peter Hodgeman. The less Tasmanian-electoral-history centred may recognise the name Hodgeman from the immediately preceding name on that chart; Michael Hodgeman held the seat from 1966, starting the incumbent victory line that continues today and a twenty-year Hodgeman dynasty over the seat.

The more in-tune with the Island state's political system will recognise the name of Peter Hodgeman's nephew Will – the current Premier of the state – and possibly Peter's father Bill – former President of the Tas LegCo.

The really Tas-pseph-fanatics will recognise Peter Hodgeman, however, as one of the candidates standing for the seat of Huon this year. By re-contesting the seat, especially without ever having lost it, Peter may well hold a semi-incumbent status. Combine this with name recognition, association with an apparently popular Premier, the ability to cash in on Liberal projects touted last month, and the entire Liberal volunteer base, Hodgeman has to be a strong contender this year. However, with a marginally ALP lean in seat history and forming part of the Labor-held (since 1993) federal seat of Franklin, there could be significant opposition if organised.

The most likely candidate to muster the support of the left is former Greens member Liz Smith. She bills herself as a progressive independent and has a strong history of performing well in local council elections, having won seats since 2002 and regularly coming second in Mayoral elections. Her political background is nowhere near as strong as Hodgeman's, though, as she has only contested the seat of Huon once in the past, receiving a 14% primary vote out of four candidates. That would be expected to drop lower out of seven, especially in a state that is apparently hankering for a bit of right-wing politics.

Another council-based politician this election is Robert Armstrong, who was elected in 1996 and became deputy mayor in 1999. By 2001 he had made Mayor, with a primary vote of 55%. The field of people contesting against him has never exceeded two, and his primary vote has never dropped below 40%. In the absence of Mr Hodgeman's candidacy, he would be well placed to be a front-runner. He is an independent and a centrist, but I suspect a lot of his support will be the first to flow to the Libs.

Rodney Dillon is a second possible candidate for the left to rally behind. Although I have not found any information on his political experiences, he is employed by Amnesty International and was short-listed for Tasmanian of the Year twice. Although I am not listing policies for this seat due to time constraints (but see below), one policy did catch my eye:
He feels strongly that Huonville District High School should be expanded to include Years 11 and 12 to enable all students in the area to successfully complete their education. He will work towards making this happen.
On the right, and likely to do poorly in the shade of Hodgeman and Armstrong, we have Jimmy Bell. Mr Bell has experience in the military, manages the Police Citizens Youth Club and is a prolific money-raiser for various charities and community projects. Policy information is lacking.

Helen Lane has a list of sporting administration achievements, as well as professional experiences regarding integration of computer skills in education. Again, policy is lacking.

Finally, there is Pavel Ruzicka, a saw-miller and “specialist timber” provider who advocates managing forests for multiple industries and interests. He is clearly marked out as an anti-greens candidate, but may struggle to gain traction on the crowded right of the stage.


There are several reasons I have abandoned the attempt to provide policies for the candidates. Firstly, most have no useful information on their websites, if they even have websites. On the other extreme, wading through all the Liberal policies linked to Mr Hodgeman's campaign could easily take a month. Besides, you can often learn more about independents from their long answers than their soundbites anyhow.

Furthermore, others have already composed a (heavily right-wing, pro-life, conservative) summary of the candidates. To quote directly from Tasmania's own Kevin Bonham on the Australian Christian Lobby's survey, while I “do not endorse the content of their questions, which are frequently loaded and misleading... they are one of the few forces that effectively prods candidates into taking positions on social issues, and their surveys are often a valuable insight into who will fence-sit and who will kowtow in an attempt to get votes.”

Their summary for Mr Armstrong, Mr Bell, Mr Hodgeman, Ms Lane and Ms Smith is here.

Information on Mr Ruzicka was not found. Mr Dillon's site is here.

For further information, an article by Ms Smith in the Tasmanian Times can be found here and a biography of Mr Armstrong is linked to from Dr Bonham's blog here.


Prediction for Rosevears: Kerry Finch (IND) Retain
Prediction for Huon: Peter Hodgeman (LIB) Win

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