"Labor squabble 'no issue' for voters" - The Mercury

THE recent infighting within state Labor is unlikely to be a deciding factor for Tasmanians when they cast their votes in the federal election, political analysts say.

Tasmanian Labor has been riven by internal divisions this year, which came to the fore during the state election campaign when the Left faction blocked then Kingborough mayor Dean Winter’s preselection.

But political expert Richard Herr said he didn’t expect the issue to be a “huge factor” for Tasmanian voters in the federal election, due by May 2022.

“I expect it will be used by the Liberals in reviving the image of a dysfunctional party at the state level,” he said.

“And also trying to avoid some of the image issues that the federal Liberals have.”

Professor Herr said it was probable that gender inequality and dissatisfaction with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout would influence people’s votes, putting Liberal candidates at a disadvantage.

Brian Mitchell and Julie Collins are Tasmania’s incumbent Labor MHRs, representing Lyons and Franklin, respectively.

While Ms Collins holds her seat with a comfortable margin of 12.2 per cent, Mr Mitchell’s is less safe at 5.2 per cent.

Senators Anne Urquhart and Helen Polley will also be seeking re-election.

Psephologist Kevin Bonham said voters tended to separate state issues from federal ones when casting their ballots, but he noted the issue of factional squabbling in Labor’s state branch had the potential to straddle both the state and federal arenas.

“You may find that the perception of the brand at the state level rubs off on the federal election,” he said. “But it’s a fair while until the federal election probably … so there’s time for that perception to retreat into the background.”

Mr Mitchell was adamant Tasmanians would vote on “federal issues”.