Focus on Braddon wildcards

IT'S THE seat with the highest Liberal and Palmer United Party vote, the lowest Green vote, and the biggest axe to grind with the current government.

Polling shows more than 70 per cent of Braddon voters are hungry for a majority government, and more than half have rated the Labor and Greens as performing very poorly in the last four years.

Political analyst Dr Kevin Bonham and academic Dr Richard Herr agree there is a fifth seat up for grabs and PUP has a real chance of snaring it.

Devonport has an unemployment rate of more than 10 per cent and was hit hard by the closure of the Australian Weaving Mills factory.

Burnie saw mining equipment giant Caterpillar axe jobs, and with the downturn of the forest industry there is no doubt Labor and the Greens will be punished in Braddon.

Dr Bonham said in some polling booths Labor would get ``belted''.

``We may very well see a repeat of the federal election,'' he said.

In the federal election, Braddon saw a 10 per cent swing to the Liberals.

At the last state election Labor member Steve Kons retired after 12 years, and Greens candidate Paul ``Basil'' O'Halloran scored the fifth seat, the first Green to do so since 1996.

Both Labor members Brenton Best and Bryan Green were safely returned, despite Mr Green being caught up in the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation scandal.

Similarly, in this election, the fifth seat could fall any way, with analysts tipping it will be hard for Mr O'Halloran to retain his seat due to the Greens' unpopularity. 

But this time Labor also can't be certain of hanging onto two seats. 

Rivalry between the two sitting Labor members has been played out publicly, with Mr Best accusing Mr Green of making ``fly-in, fly-out announcements from Hobart''.

Dr Bonham said Mr Best could be seen to be more in-tune with the electorate, and Mr Green may be seen as ``selling out''. 

``There's a case for Bryan Green being at risk,'' he said. 

Once you throw ``Tasmania's next Premier'' Palmer United Party candidate Kevin Morgan into the mix, it makes the seat an interesting one to watch. Polling shows PUP could score 10 per cent of the primary vote. 

Dr Herr said the significance of the fifth seat in Braddon makes it a key seat.

``There are a number of wildcards in terms of what will happen to Braddon,'' Dr Herr said.

Dr Bonham has tipped the Liberals will take three seats.

``How the other two divide up is not clear, Labor will get at least one of them,'' he said.

It appears the fifth seat will be a scramble between the Greens, PUP and Labor.

``The last one is anyone's. It's going to be very difficult for the Greens to hold their seat,'' Dr Bonham said.

Dr Herr said the influence of a well-financed campaign, such as Adam Brooks' successful tilt at parliament, shouldn't be discounted when it comes to PUP and Mr Morgan.

In typical Hare-Clark fashion, Mr Brooks unseated the now federal Liberal member Brett Whiteley, but it looks like there's room for three Liberals this time.

Preferences will also play a big part in who will win the last seat, especially for minor parties.

``You can score primary vote, but unless you get a flow on from preferences you wither and die on the line,'' Dr Herr said.

Dr Herr said the fact that the Liberals were worried about the PUP vote in Braddon suggests Mr Morgan has a chance.

He said some Labor voters would choose between Mr Best and Mr Green, but not vote for both, which could benefit the minor parties.

``There's a pool of votes that will go outside the party,'' he said.

 The Liberals have campaigned heavily against PUP, with television, radio and newspaper advertisements warning against voting for the minor party.

Both commentators agreed that the Liberals see PUP as their biggest problem.

``They are desperate to keep people who might vote for them from voting for PUP,'' Dr Bonham said.

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham


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