Two of the six Australian states have elections on Saturday – South Australia and Tasmania.
Most pundits are calling the South Australian election too close to call, and indeed it may be a hung Parliament on the night. The latest Newspoll had the two party preferred vote at 50% each.
There are 47 seats in the House of Assembly, so you need 24 to form a Government. Labor, led by Premier Mike Rann, has 28 seats and it is quite possible they could lose five seats, which need less than a 6% swing.
However the Liberal Party has only 14 seats. IF they pick up five seats that only takes them to 19, plus one National MP is 20. You see there are four independents. So whichever party manages to win a seat off an independent, or do a deal with them may get to form the Government. If Rann loses five seats, he only needs one Independent to govern, so may hold on.
One Independent, Kris Hanna, is a former Labor and Greens member. Another is a former Mayor. A third is retiring and his seat will probably go Liberal. The fourth is a former Liberal who is now Speaker.
The South Australian Senate is less important. Some may be amused that a No Pokies political party actually has a state senator!
The new Opposition Leader, Isobel Redmond is generally regarded as having run a good campaign, despite being the 4th leader in four years. Mike Rann has been state Labor leader for 16 years and Premier since 2002. He is a former Kiwi, and mate of Phil Goff’s.
Tasmania uses STV for their House of Assembly, and have five electorates with five MPs each in them. So 13 out of 25 seats needed to govern. The latest Newspoll has Libs 37%, Green 26% and Labor behind the Libs, suggesting Labor and Liberals will win 10 seats each and the Greens five seats, giving them the balance of power.
Labor, which has been in power for 12 years, is not keen on this and has been running “robocalls” telling voters the Greens will legalise heroin and give violent criminals the right to vote.
What will happen in the Greens do hold the balance of power is interesting. The Labor Premier, David Bartlett, has said he will resign if the Liberals gain more seats, but both major parties have ruled out signing a formal power-sharing deal with the Greens or negotiating away significant policies. It is far from clear whom the Greens would allow to govern.
So both states may end election night without knowing who gets to form the Government. We’ll find out shortly.