Member for Franklin Julie Collins was re-elected in 2010 and 2013. She stood unsuccessfully for the state division of Denison in 2006.
Franklin is Australia's most southern electorate and includes Macquarie Island deep in the Southern Ocean. The electorate wraps around the eastern side of Hobart and includes the City of Clarence, as well as Richmond and part of Brighton. It also includes Kingston and the Huon Valley. Part of the electorate is world heritage-listed wilderness. Environment issues compete with the demands of forestry, while other industries include fruit growing, fishing, aquaculture, beef, sheep, vineyards and tourism.
Franklin is located in the south of Tasmania and is a relatively large electorate with over 97,000 residents and incorporating three local councils. The electorate is located in an ecologically significant site with much of the region being a protected wilderness. It was a battle over the environment in the 1970s that saw Franklin become part of the national consciousness when plans to dam the Franklin River was strongly and ultimately successfully protested by conservation groups.
Franklin was proclaimed as an electorate in 1903 and has been represented by Australian Labor Party (ALP) members since 1993. It is now considered a safe ALP seat.
Julie Collins has been a member of the ALP since 1988 and held various positions within the party before winning the seat of Franklin in 2007. She was an administrative officer, electoral staffer and political adviser to a range of Labor MPs as well as the state secretary of the Tasmanian Labor Party. As an elected official Ms Collins has been Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development (2011 to 2013), Minister for the Status of Women (2011 to 2013) and Minister for Housing and Homelessness (2013). As a Labor shadow minister, Ms Collins opposed cuts to pensions, health, education and family payments. She is also concerned the impact of fuel costs and increased university fees will have on her constituents. Other issues, such as the need to upgrade the regions public transport system and the economic and heritage value of Franklin’s precious wilderness areas, including Bruny Island and UNESCO Heritage Listed Macquarie Island, are all on Ms Collins’s agenda.
Another major issue is health. The Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS) have reported that more Tasmanians suffer from highest blood pressure than those from any other state. Furthermore around 23 per cent of Tasmanians suffer from long-term, cardiovascular disease. Access to medical treatment and preventative services is therefore vital to the people of Franklin.
The electorate’s main industries are horticulture, fishing, aquaculture, beef cattle, sheep farming, vineyards, forestry and tourism. Franklin is home to many varieties of fruit trees and grapes and has an extensive and valuable wine industry. The cider industry also continues to expand, with small breweries popping up across the electorate.
Tourism also makes up a large percentage of the Franklin economy. The historic convict town of Richmond, picturesque Bruny Island and UNESCO World Heritage Centre Macquarie Island all attract hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.
According to the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania (REIT) some of Tasmania’s highest performing housing areas are in Franklin. This included the municipalities of Kingsborough, Clarence and the Huon Valley. Kingsborough and the Huon Valley were particularly strong, with many areas achieving their highest median price ever. The median house prices across Franklin were wide ranging: houses in Blackmans Bay sold for a median of $425,000 and houses in the historic town of Richmond achieving a median price of $470,000. In the towns of Franklin and Cygnet median prices were around $320,000 while in Geeveston and Dover, houses were selling for $290,000 and $277,500 respectively.
The 2011 Census revealed the population of the Franklin electorate was 97,705. The median age of the population was 41, compared with the national average of 37. About 26 per cent of Franklin’s population are aged 19 or under, while 16 per cent of people are aged 65 and above. 3.9 per cent of Franklin’s population is Indigenous Australians;17 per cent of the electorate’s population was born overseas.
The biggest employers in Franklin are public administration and safety (12.1 per cent), health care and social assistance (12 per cent), retail (11.2 per cent) and education and training (9.8 per cent). Franklin also had an unemployment rate of 5 per cent in 2011, compared with the national average of 5.2 percent, the Census data revealed.
Challenges facing the electorate include road safety and construction, job security and environmental issues.