The Tasmanian election is set to be a contest on health lines, with the Tasmanian Labor Party making access to Tasmanian healthcare services the primary issue for the state, who go to the polls on the 1st of May.
Similar to the ACT election last year, the Tasmanian parliament is elected by the Hare-Clarke system, which elects five candidates from Tasmania’s five electorates to form the twenty-five seat Tasmanian House of Assembly.
Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Peter Gutwein MP currently does not hold a majority in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, following the Speaker, the Hon Sue Hickey MP, leaving the Tasmanian Parliamentary Liberal Party and moving to the crossbench, plunging the popular Gutwein government into minority.
Premier Gutwein has faced a wide variety of challenges since the shock retirement of his predecessor, the Hon Will Hodgman, who served as Premier between 2014 and 2020, and Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in Tasmania between 2006 and 2020. Premier Gutwein assumed the leadership in an uncontested ballot and has led the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, with one of the highest recorded personal popularity ratings for a Tasmanian Premier. Premier Gutwein’s electoral pitch has focused on his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the strengths of the Tasmanian economy, which has performed as Australia’s highest performing for the previous four quarters according to CommSec’s State of the States.
The Tasmanian Labor Party, who have held government for the majority of Tasmania’s history have been in Opposition since 2014, following close to 20 years in power as the governing party of the state. This included four tumultuous years of Coalition Government with the Greens following the 2010 election, that left the Liberal and Labor Parties with 10 seats in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, and the Tasmanian Greens with five seats.
Leader of the Tasmanian Labor Party, Ms Rebecca White MP, who led the Tasmanian Labor Party to the polls in 2018, secured a three-seat swing to the Labor Party. Ms White has made the ALP highly active in the Health space, making it Labor’s election issue. This has been reinforced with the election of Dr Bastian Siedel MLC to the Legislative Council seat of Huon in 2020, and his appointment as Health Spokesperson. Dr Siedel is a well-respected local doctor and served as President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners between 2016 and 2018.
The Tasmanian Greens, led by the Hon Cassie O’Connor MP currently hold two seats in the House of Assembly and have previously held as many as five. They have primarily campaigned on reforming the Tasmanian Environmental Protection Agency and on reforming campaign donation laws.
A central claim to both the Labor and Liberal pitch to Tasmanian voters is a promise to not go into coalition with the Tasmanian Greens, should they hold the balance of power. However, independent candidates, especially in the seat of Clark, including former speaker the Hon Sue Hickey MP and Glenorchy Mayor, Ms Kristie Johnston are likely to hold a central role in determining the next Tasmanian Government.
In counter to the rise of independents in Clarke, Premier Gutwein’s recruitment of popular Clark Independent and former Labor MP, Ms Madeleine Ogilvie MP to the Liberal party has been notable and has insulated the Liberal Party’s overall numbers slightly heading into election night.
Bookmakers have the result of the Tasmanian State Election firmly going to the Tasmanian Liberals, with Labor as an outside chance to form government, most likely in minority.
Nexus Prediction: As with all COVID-19 Elections so far, we are predicting the current Gutwein Liberal Government will be returned on Saturday, perhaps with a majority.
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