Tasmania’s Hare Clarke – count back, raises political zombies

Tasmania’s wonderful Hare Clarke system has numerous quirks.  With 5 members elected in each of the 5 electorates around the state minor parties get well represented in the State Lower House.  Tasmania is the “home” of The Greens.

In discussing the coming State election with another political tragic today, we pondered what Bryan Green’s approach might be.  Having been deputy Premier, Minister of numerous departments, and having had a long political career already would his heart really be in running again to be party of a Labor rump, Shadow minister for half the government, and political dead meat?

Would he run, simply to spite Brenton Best?

And what is the process of filling casual vacancies in Tasmania’s lower house?  One of the interesting things which the HC system brings is an election process somewhat similar to the Federal Senate but a “filling casual vacancy” process which is quite different.

Casual vacancies are filled by a count back using the voting records retained from the previous election.  Candidates are eligible for the count back if they were unelected candidates in the seat at the last election.  If they agree to contest the Tasmanian Electoral Commission conducts a “final seat” count much as it would in a normal election with the outgoing candidate’s quota of votes being distributed.

There is no requirement for the newly elected candidate to be of the same party, although in almost all instances they are.  (The one exception 1965 to 2010 being Jan 1983, during the 82-86 term, Bob Brown was elected on count back for The Greens, replacing Norman Sanders an elected Australian Democrat).

Interestingly both ALP Premiers Paul Lennon, and David Bartlett were initially elected to the Parliament by countback.

So in summary this time round in Braddon if either Brenton Best or Bryan Green wish to thwart the career of the other by winning election, AND retiring, it is likely that the system would elect on count back the other’s local nemesis.


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