Indeed, I have been thinking for some time that the fifth seat in Denison is a rough chance for a suitable Independent with a sufficiently high-profile campaign, because there tends to be a lot of preference slop to feed off in that electorate.  An independent doesn’t have to poll that high a vote to use the preferences of the second Green to pass the second Liberal and then the preferences of the second Liberal to beat the third sitting Labor MHA. This, however, requires that Independent to be the main second choice of both Green and Liberal voters.

The last Independent elected to the House of Assembly was Bruce Goodluck in Franklin in 1996.  At that election, Goodluck himself polled just 6.2%, only half a quota under the old 7-seat system, although his ticket polled .59 quotas.  The Labor Party polled 3.4 quotas, the Liberals 2.55, and the Greens 0.85.  The Democrats (remember them?) polled 0.3 quotas.

Although Goodluck was disadvantaged by being a lone candidate in the serious stages of the cutup compared to the major parties each having multiple serious candidates running below quota, by the stage of the critical exclusion of the third Liberal, Goodluck had gained .08 quotas on Labor and .11 quotas on the Liberals.  Bruce Goodluck was 812 votes (.11 quotas) ahead of the third Liberal and then used Liberal preferences to get his quota, although even staying ahead of the fourth Labor candidate (who he headed by over 2000 votes) would have been enough in the finish.

Translated into present-day five-seat terms, Goodluck’s 0.5 quotas is equivalent to 8.33% and his team’s 0.59 is equivalent to 9.83%.  But as I have noted, he effectively won by over a tenth of a quota, so as little as 7% for himself or 8.5% for his ticket (both slightly more than what he got) might have done the job with a similar distribution of spare fractions of quotas (not raw votes) among the other parties in a five-seat electorate.

A contrasting example of a fourth-party failure under the five-seat system was the Tasmania First Party’s effort in Lyons in 1998.  The party polled a remarkable primary vote of 9.9% but with four of the five quotas locked up in the major parties (because the Libs got more or less exactly two quotas), its only hope was to outlast Christine Milne then beat the third Labor candidate on her preferences.  I do not think Tas First would have received enough of Milne’s preferences anyway but as it happened they started 103 votes behind the Greens and by the critical point this had blown out to 936 as their vote was less concentrated in a single candidate and Milne had a higher profile.

What percentage of the vote does Andrew Wilkie need in Denison at the next state election?  I think that all comes down to what Greens voters think of him - will they see him as at least better than the two major parties or will they damn him for being a turncoat?  If it is the former then a primary vote of 8% could give Andrew Wilkie a serious chance of election.

Whether he - or any other Independent - is capable of getting anywhere near that remains to be seen.

Further comment on this analysis : HERE

Dr Kevin Bonham
I WAS interested to see Sue Neales’ claim in the Mercury that Andrew Wilkie needs “more than 10 per cent to even be in with a chance”  of election ( Wilkie’s Denison punt ).    It’s generally the case that a Greens candidate in a three party contest needs more than 10% to have a show, but for an Independent candidate in what becomes a four-cornered contest, the maths can be quite a lot easier.