/ 30 April 2021

A political thriller in Tassie

Faster than you can say, “I still don’t understand the Hare-Clark voting system“, an election has rolled around in Tassie with the state’s almost 400,000 electors preparing to vote tomorrow. Having faced the people in 2018 and won a 4-year term, the election is a year earlier than it needs to be, with Premier Peter Gutwein looking to capture some of the COVID-driven success other state premiers have had at the ballot box in the past year. Savour the moment because it’s the last major election in Oz this year unless PM Scott Morrison also turns opportunist… sorry… decides to go early.

WHAT’S THE STATE OF PLAY?
• Tassie’s lower house has 25 members – and under their voting system, 5 members are elected from each of the 5 divisions: Bass, Braddon, Clark, Franklin, and Lyons.

• In 2018, the Liberal party won 13 seats, giving them a one-seat majority. That was lost when Liberal Speaker/former Hobart Mayor Sue Hickey quit the party last month after being told she would not be re-endorsed by the party.

• The Liberals are led by tattooed/Taekwondo black belt Peter Gutwein (56yo), who became leader following Will Hodgman’s shock retirement yearly last year. A win tomorrow would be the first time the Libs have taken out 3 elections in a row.

• Labor goes in with 9 seats and is looking to get to the magic number of 13. Leader Rebecca White has ruled out forming a government with the Greens, and climbing the hill to majority government is hard for any party. White is banking on voters looking past Gutwein’s handling of the pandemic and has been talking up policies on housing and health.

• The Greens hold 2 seats, and independents hold another 2. One thing the major parties can agree on are concerns that minor party and independent candidates block their chances of getting to 13 seats this time around.

SO, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
There have been no big public polls published in this campaign, but the Liberals went in with a 52% approval rating to Labor’s 27% and the Greens’ 14%. And the Hare-Clark system makes it difficult to get ahead too far, so consensus is it’s going to be a close one… Both the Liberals and Labor party leaders say they will not lead a minority government, which makes it a resolution to watch if it comes to that…

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