ID 0443

Parliament of Tasmania, House of Assembly election

Election of 13 May 1989

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Tasmania, House of Assembly votes and seats won

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Election held on 13 May 1989
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Liberal Party  128,143  46.92  -7.28  17  48.57 
Australian Labor Party  94,809  34.71  -0.42  13  37.14 
Tasmanian Greens (Independents)  46,797  17.13  +11.58  14.29 
Australian Democrats  2,451  0.90  -1.16     
Independents  937  0.34  -2.71     
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 273,137  100.00    35  100.00 

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Government in office after election: At the previous general election for the House of Assembly in May 1986, the Liberal Party government was returned with 19 of the 35 seats in the House of Assembly; Gray was recommissioned as Premier of a Liberal Party majority government.

Government in office after election: At the general election for the House of Assembly on 13 May 1989 (this election), the Liberal Party won 17 of the 35 Assembly seats, the Australian Labor Party 13, and Green Independents 5 (see note on Tasmanian Greens (Independents), below).

Premier Gray initially refused to relinquish his commission or recall Parliament early. After a formal agreement -- an Accord -- between the Australian Labor Party and the five Green Independents, and the intervention of the Governor, Parliament was recalled and the Gray Liberal Party government was defeated on a vote of no confidence. Field, the leader of the Australian Labor Party, was then commissioned as Premier of an Australian Labor Party minority government relying on the support of the five Green Independents (see note on Tasmanian Greens (Independents), below). For a short survey of these events, see Haward, 'Tasmania', p. 461 (see 'References, below); for more details and references to the extensive literature on these events and the Accord, see the notes to the entry for Premier Field in the 'Periods in office' component of this database.

Electoral system and voting: The Constitution Amendment Act 1906 '... reduced the number of Assembly districts to five, the boundaries of which were to be identical with the five Commonwealth electoral districts', Bennett and Bennett, p.12, (see 'Sources', below). The 1906 Act specified six members in each electoral district, but this was increased to seven from 1959, creating an Assembly of 35 members. The Electoral Act 1907 introduced proportional representation by the single transferable vote (STV) method to elect all members of the Assembly, a method which became known as the Hare-Clark system.

For details of the adoption of STV and references on the operation of the electoral system, see the notes to the 1909 House of Assembly elections. From 1980, candidates' names were rotated within party lists on the ballots under a system of Robson rotation; for details, see the note to the 1979 House of Assembly election.

The Electoral Amendment Act of 1917 provided that '... casual vacancies be filled, not by a fresh poll of the electorate [by-election] but by a re-count [countback] of the ballot papers which elected the vacating member. Candidates at the preceding general election were required to apply to be considered candidates....', Hughes and Graham, 1890-1964, p. 590 (see 'Sources', below). For a brief summary of changes to the electoral system from 1909 to 1994, see Terry Newman, Representation of the Tasmanian People, Expanded edition 1803-1994, Appendix 2 (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, 1994, ISBN 0724642475).

Tasmanian Greens (Independents): At the previous Assembly election in May 1986, four candidates ran as grouped Independents on a conservationist platform, two of whom, R J Brown and G M Bates, were elected. To assist with the comparative presentation of votes for environmental parties in Australia, the votes won by these candidates were assigned to 'Tasmanian Greens (Independents)' in this database, even though this label was not used at the election and the Tasmanian Greens were not formally constituted as a party which contested Assembly elections until 1996.

A similar situation obtained at the May 1989 Assembly election (this election). Sixteen Independent candidates ran in five groups -- one group in each of the five electoral districts -- on a platform stressing similar concerns with environmental issues and parliamentary accountability. One Independent candidate from each of these groups was elected and the five members -- often referred to as Green Independents -- participated in the Accord with the Labor Party to support the Field Australian Labor Party minority government. The five members were; L J E Armstrong, G M Bates, R J Brown, Dianne L Hollister, and Christine A Milne.

Independents: Changes to the Electoral Act in 1941 meant that candidates who ran for election without any stated party affiliation (Independents) could run with one or more other like-minded Independents as a 'group' on the ballot paper, or be listed with all other Independent candidates in that electoral district in an 'ungrouped' list; for details, see the note to the 1941 House of Assembly elections.

The vote shown for Independents in the table above is the vote gained by the combination of both sets of Independent candidates (note the exclusion of Tasmanian Greens (Independents); see note, above). No candidate ran as a member of a group of Independents other than the Greens (see above) at this election. Six 'ungrouped' Independent candidates gained 937 first preference votes; none of these candidates was elected. As a consequence of the separate listing of the Tasmanian Green (Indepdendents) in the table above, the total votes for Independents will differ from that shown on the Tasmanian Parliamentary website (see 'Sources', below)

References: For a survey of this election and its context, see Marcus Haward, 'Tasmania', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, January-June 1989, 35 (3) December 1989: 459-465, and, Marcus Haward and Graham Smith, 'The 1989 Tasmanian Election: The Green Independents Consolidate', Australian Journal of Political Science, 25 (2) November 1990: 196-217; for a broader study of the Accord, its context and consequences, see Marcus Haward and Peter Larmour (editors), The Tasmanian Parliamentary Accord and Public Policy 1989-92: Accommodating the New Politics?, (Canberra: Federalism Research Centre, Australian National University, 1993), and the references in the the notes to the entry for Premier Field in the 'Periods in office' component of this database.


Information for this election was taken from 'House of Assembly Election Results, 1909-2006', Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, Tasmanian Parliament website: ; Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian Electoral Handbook, 1851-1982, (Kensington, NSW: Reference Section of History Project Incorporated, University of New South Wales, 1983); Colin A Hughes and B D Graham, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1968, SBN 708102700), Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1985-1999, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2002, ISBN 1862873433); and note Report on Parliamentary Elections 1987 to 1989, (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Papers, 1990), online at: