Lyons voters cite health as reason for swing against Liberal incumbent

Voters in the sprawling Tasmanian electorate of Lyons are citing health, hospitals and the low profile of the Liberal incumbent for their switch to Labor.

Eric Hutchinson has privately conceded victory is basically impossible, although he is yet to make a public concession.

More than two years after he was pre-selected, Labor candidate Brian Mitchell is assured of victory.

In explaining their decision to switch from the Liberals to Labor, Lyons voters are citing health care, changes to superannuation, and Mr Hutchinson’s low local profile.

It also seems Mr Mitchell’s extensive campaign activities, which saw him doorknocking in the electorate most weekends since July 2014, paid off.

“I’ve enjoyed every weekend I’ve been out doorknocking,” Mr Mitchell told the ABC.

“I’ve been to every agricultural fair I could possible find – Longford show, Campbell Town show, Kempton show, Agfest.”

“There were places I didn’t get to as much, places like Port Sorell, and perhaps Nubeena in the south, but no – this was a seat-wide campaign.”

Ground game paid off for southern voters

At a supermarket in Sorell, many Lyons voters volunteered health care as their primary concern.

“I think they need to do something with our hospitals, and our hospital waiting lists,” one woman who had voted at the Sorell Memorial Hall said.

Another said she was fed up with both major parties.

“Most politicians say they’re in there to assist the communities, but year after year after year the communities are still screaming out for change,” she said.

“I don’t care if it’s Liberal or Labor, but would they please address and deal with the needs of the community.”

In Campania, Sorell and Forcett most voters had had minimal contact with Mr Hutchinson during his term.

“I know that gentleman’s got a very big electorate, but I must admit Mr Hutchinson didn’t do much for the people of Sorell,” one male voter said.

He said he had shifted his vote to Labor after a lifetime of voting for the Coalition.

A retired pensioner couple from Sorell said they had met and been impressed by Mr Mitchell.

“At least he did come around and talk to some people,” one man said.

Swings to Labor in north and south of electorate

Lyons extends from Bass Strait to Lake Gordon, and from Port Arthur to St Helens and Swansea.

The largest and most geographically diverse seat in Tasmania, the electorate takes in towns including Deloraine, Brighton and Campbell Town.

With just over 80 per cent of ballots counted, Mr Hutchinson was comfortably ahead of Mr Mitchell on primary votes.

But after preferences flow from the Greens, the Recreational Fishers’ Party and the Renewable Energy Party, Mr Mitchell led 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

In Dodges Ferry, New Norfolk, St Helens and Swansea, Labor enjoyed a two-party preferred swing of more than 6 per cent.

There were also swings to Labor of 3 per cent or greater in Deloraine, Longford, Bridgewater and Brighton.

In all major centres, the Liberals lost their share of the vote on a two-party preferred basis.

Mr Hutchinson will be the only Member for Lyons to serve a single term since the seat was created after a redistribution in 1984.

By  Stephen Smiley