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‘Unclear’: turmoil over Tassie election

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff will take on Labor leader Rebecca White in Saturday's state election. Image : News Corp
Tasmania will have a hung parliament following Saturday's state election.

Tasmania will again have a hung parliament, with the Liberal party falling short of forming a majority government after Saturday’s election.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff claimed victory just after 10pm, saying it was a “historic fourth consecutive win” for the party.

“Let’s be clear, the Liberal team has clearly gained the most votes this election and the most seats by a large margin,” he said.

“Labor has not got enough seats to form a cabinet let alone a government... Tasmanians have not voted for a change of government.”

Initial results show a 12 per cent swing against the Liberal Party, with the majority of those votes going to the Jacqui Lambie Network rather than the Labor Party.

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The Jacqui Lambie Network looks likely to emerge as the kingmaker, with the party expected to win up to four seats.

premier
Premier Jeremy Rockliff votes with his mum Gerry at Sassafras Primary School booth in the northern Tasmanian seat of Braddon. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Patrick Gee

Labor Leader Rebecca White did not concede defeat, saying the party would work with the crossbench “if that is the will of the people”.

“Tasmanians have humbled a Premier who called an early election, expecting to be returned in majority,” she said.

“There is a lot that is unclear about tonight, but it is clear that Tasmanians have voted to reject the Liberals.

“Whether we get the chance to implement our agenda will depend on how things play out over the next few weeks. But tonight it is clear that the Tasmanian community has rejected the past and wants change.”

Mr Rockliff called the snap early election last month to try to shore up a majority for the Liberals.

The Liberals looked like to have at least 15 seats, just short of the 18 need for a majority in the newly expanded 35-seat parliament.

WHITE VOTES
Labor leader Rebecca White with daughter Mia 7 cast her vote at Sorell Hall. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Davis-Jones

As of 10pm, The Liberal Party is predicted to take 15 seats, Labor 10, Greens 5, Jacqui Lambie Network 4 and one independent.

The Jacqui Lambie Network, formed by the senator, will have pole position in helping form the next government.

She refused to be drawn on whether she would support the Liberals, saying the decision would be “up to my candidates” and suggesting they could “stay out of the rubble”.

“Jeremy Rockliff could have fixed a few things yesterday but he didn't want to,” she said on Sky News of an alleged fake website attacking her party.

“They have not played this game very well. the Liberal Party has been shocking, absolutely disgraceful.”

Jacqui Lambie presser
Senator Jacqui Lambie has suggested her party could stay out of discussions. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Former federal Liberal senator turned Tasmanian state candidate Eric Abetz, who has won a seat, said he believed the early figures indicated voters were turning to the Jacqui Lambie Network as a “protest vote”.

“What the Jacqui Lambie network has done, I think, is become a protest movement if those early figures are an indication,” he told the ABC.

“The vote hasn’t shifted from Liberal to Labour but to a halfway house in the Jacqui Lambie Network where there is a sense of this is a bit of a protest vote.”

Sky News chief election analyst Tom Connell said the early results indicated Labor could not form majority government.

“Labor certainly won’t win majority and it’s looking increasingly unlikely the Liberals won’t get there either” he said.

More than 400,000 Tasmanians voted for 167 candidates in the election for the 35-seat parliament. Under the Hare-Clarke system, seven MPs will be elected in each of the state’s five electorates.

A win for Labor would have meant Australia no longer has a Liberal government in any state.

The Liberal Party has been in minority government since May 2023 when two MPs – John Tucker and Lara Alexander – quit the party to sit on the cross benches.

Both independents appear to have failed to be reelected.

The pair had an agreement with Mr Rockliff to guarantee his government supply and confidence before the election.

But the Premier wanted a tighter agreement after they supported opposition motions and criticised his government, including by sending minister Guy Barnett to the privileges committee.

He has refused to discuss who he would negotiate with if a hung parliament was the result of Saturday’s election.

Mr Rockliff this week reiterated the need for Tasmania to have a majority government.

“What I’m about is majority government. Tasmania does better with a majority government, especially a Liberal majority government,” Mr Rockliff said this week.

THE LAMBIE EFFECT

More TONY BURKE and Jacqui Lambie
Senator Jacqui Lambie has a team of candidates running under her Jacqui Lambie Network party. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

A team of candidates running under the Jacqui Lambie Network could decide who ends up in government.

Polling obtained by Sky News Australia indicating her party may be the kingmaker after the election.

But the outspoken senator for Tasmania, who has been campaigning with the team, said the state’s Liberal Party had purchased a website domain to create a fake website attacking her party.

“They’ve obviously set up a page and by that they’ve used my face, my name and directed, and sent 7000 text messages out there from an unknown candidate in the Liberal Party who had no idea,” she told Sky News Australia Chief Anchor Kieran Gilbert on Thursday.

Senator Lambie said it was up to her candidates to decide who they would support if it was a hung parliament.

“Those candidates will have to make their own decisions at that table … I’m happy to sit there and mentor them, but I’ve got to stay that step back,” she said.

“I’ve got to find that very fine line because I need these guys to grow as quickly as possible.”

Opposition federal environment spokesman Jonathon Duniam said on Friday the Jacqui Lambie Network had potential to create “chaos” in Saturday’s election.

“The thing about the Jacqui Lambie Network is it’s a collection of individuals who have different views on different issues which, I think, is a big part of the problem,” Senator Duniam told Sky News.

“People have talked about this coalition of chaos and it’s something Tasmanians know all too well they need to avoid at the ballot box.

“My strong and fervent hope is for a majority Liberal government.”

THE KEY ISSUES

The cost-of-living crisis has been a key factor in the election with both leaders questioned on their plans to tackle the issue.

Mr Rockliff said the government’s policies included a one-off renewable energy dividend of $250 to Tasmanian households and $300 to small businesses, as well as slashing the state’s public transport fees.

He also said the Liberal Party would invest in child and learning centres by introducing four more across the state to support families.

Labor leader Rebecca White said cost of living was the “number one issue” in the state and also focused on funding childcare, through an investment of $75m in the sector.

Tasmanian AFL Team Annnouncement
The details for the new Tasmanian AFL team were unveiled on Monday, days before the election. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the contentious AFL stadium was another dominant issue, with the launch of the Tasmanian Devils AFL franchise on Monday. Neither leader attended.

Many do not want a new $750m stadium built in Hobart, but support having a team in the AFL.

Mr Rockliff has pledged to cap the state’s contribution to the stadium at $375 million, saying “not a red cent more”.

“We can have both in Tasmania, we can secure our own AFL team and invest in the areas that I know Tasmanians care about … cost of living, health,” he said.

Ms White has said she wanted Tasmanians to have their own team, but it didn’t mean the state needed a new stadium,

“I’ve been clear, it’s not our priority to put taxpayer funds into a project like that when we’ve got people who can’t access health care.”

The stadium, to be built on Hobart’s waterfront, is forecast to cost up to $1bn.

Mr Rockliff said only his government could be guaranteed to go ahead with construction of the stadium, a key condition of the AFL’s decision to grant Tasmania the licence for a professional team.

“The Tassie team is at risk and Tasmanians cannot afford that risk, and for the Tassie team and the Tassie Devils, Tasmanians must vote 1 to 7 for their Liberal candidates tomorrow.”

THE HARE-CLARKE SYSTEM

A record 408,197 Tasmanians will vote for 167 candidates in the state’s five seats of Bass, Braddon, Clark, Franklin and Lyons

Seven MPs from each seat will be elected under a quota system, meaning a total of 35 MPs will be elected. But the full results are unlikely to be known on Saturday night,

The parliament has been expanded to 35 after being reduced to 25 in 1998.

Increasing the number of members from five to seven lowers the quota for election from 16.7 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

This lower quota could lead to a bigger cross bench, giving smaller parties such as the Jacqui Lambie Network, a shot at holding the balance of power,

Voters have to mark their ballot cards 1 to 7.

Registered parties and groups are shown in ballot paper order, with ungrouped candidates appearing in the last column.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order within each column, but the names in each column on the ballot paper are rotated and may not appear in that order.

Mr Rockliff is expected to comfortably win a seat in the northwestern electorate of Braddon.

Likewise, Ms White will win in Lyons, one of the Hobart based seats.

Former Liberal senator and minister Eric Abetz is standing for the party in Franklin. He’s expected to win a seat.

Hobart generic file images
A total of 35 MPs will be elected in the next parliament at Saturday’s election. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Richard Jupe

According to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, almost 90,000 Tasmanians have voted early, either at a pre-poll centre, by postal vote or by phone.

The state’s 255 polling booths are open between 8am and 6pm on Saturday.

Counting starts at 6pm with the first results expected around 6.45pm, the commission said.

“It is expected that counting will take longer for this election,” it said.

“This is due to an increase in the number of candidates and the number of columns on ballot papers, as well as the new requirement for every ballot paper to have at least seven preferences marked, compared to five in 2021.”

Counting will stop at 11pm on Saturday.