Jobs, the economy and the importance of a strong majority government have dominated Tasmania’s 2014 State election campaign – and nothing will change between now and polling day on March 15.
The Labor Government has been kept in power for the last four years because of an arrangement with the Greens but insists it now wants to govern alone. The Liberals say they are the only party capable of winning enough seats to govern in majority and Labor’s deal with the Greens has sent the State backwards since 2010.
Based on polling over the last two years, and the strong pro-Liberal swing at the last Federal election, it would seem close to impossible for Labor to win majority government, which requires 13 seats, or three in at least three of the State’s five multi-member electorates.
Since 2010, Tasmania has been governed by a Labor/Green coalition government as a result of the last election returning 10 Labor, 10 Liberal and five Green MHAs. The Greens had two Cabinet ministers up until the beginning of this year when Premier Lara Giddings announced all deals were off and Labor wanted to go it alone.
Labor has governed in partnership or alone for almost 16 years and the ‘It’s Time’ factor weighs heavily on them, coupled with the fact the economy is stagnating and unemployment sat at 1.6 per cent above the national rate in January.
Business investment has been patchy, the fact the State has no direct international shipping service has hit exporters hard and many families still bemoan the number of the State’s best and brightest young minds who leave for the mainland every year.
History shows the arrangement with the Greens is likely to be Labor’s biggest Achilles heel despite the recent ‘divorce’.
Throughout the last four years the Liberals have been adept at linking many things that have gone wrong with the economy back to
Labor being dictated to by the Greens. The difficulties faced by the forestry industry – which has seen massive job losses particularly in regional communities in Lyons, Bass and Franklin – is a particular case in point.
Respected pollster EMRS put the Liberal Statewide vote at 50 per cent to Labor’s 23 per cent and the Greens sitting on 17 per cent last month.
On the basis of quotas, or seats, that would give the Liberals three in each of Braddon, Bass and Lyons and the required minimum of two in the Southern electorates of Franklin and Denison to reach the magical 13 required for majority government.
By Nigel Tapp
Nigel Tapp worked as an advisor to the Tasmanian Liberal State Opposition in 2002 and 2003 and as an advisor to a Federal Coalition Minister between 2003 and 2004.