Expanding the Tasmanian lower house is once again being brought forward. Before the 1998 election the ALP and Liberal parties agreed to reduce our 5 electorate Hare Clarke lower house from 35 seats to 25. The intention, as seems pretty obvious both at the time and now, was to reduce The Greens influence.
The table below shows the primary vote (averaged across the 5 electorates of the state), the seats won, the governing party(s) in red. Then from 1998 showing an implied 7 seat result – in parallel with the actual five seat result.
Let me add some technical detail for how the modelling has been done. The primary (3 party) vote in each electorate was taken and “quotas” taken from the primaries and turned in to seats. If you like a perfect “above the line” vote, although Tasmania doesn’t have “above the line”. The non major party votes are initially redistributed 2:2:1 ALP:Lib:Grn. Before you think this is a terrible technique it gives within 1 or 2 seats of the actual result across 6 of the last 7 elections.
Is it more or less representative to have 5x 5 seat electorates rather than 5x 7 seat electorates? I would suggest no – its up to you. Has it changed the resulting governments formed? Not all. Has it hampered The Greens? Not as much as perhaps the “conspirators” had hoped.
So what is the argument for now, re-expanding the Parliament? That a 25 seat house is too small for forming effective ministries. Indeed! Apparently the existing additonal 15 seats in the upper house are invisible.
What would the effect be of expanding the lower house now? The on the nose (polling wise) ALP and Green MPs will almost all get to keep their seats (probably each party only losing 1 MP each), and there will be an expanded number of Lib MPs in a majority Lib government. Keeping the 25 seat house about half the ALP and Green MPs will lose their seats.
I am expecting the ALP will be floating some balloons to see if they can get away with a forward flip, from their back flip, and getting the change through with Green support before the March 2014 election