2019 – an interesting year ahead

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Image credit: Ross Caldwell

By Font PR

Well, 2019 is here and if you’ve been unlucky enough to draw the office short-straw (or you’re in business like us) you’re already back at work and contemplating the year ahead. 

For most, the main game will of course be the Federal election and the expected Labor victory under Bill Shorten.  

Unlike previous Oppositions which swept into power on the back of self-destructing governments, Bill Shorten and Labor certainly can’t be accused of being a small target, having outlined a range of contentious policies, particularly in the tax and capital gains space where they are proposing major changes to negative gearing and capital gains.  

As a result, anyone proposing to invest in property into the future would be well advised to start planning with Labor’s new policies in mind. 

With the Federal Budget having been brought forward to April 2, most people expect the election to be called shortly thereafter for May 11 or 18, with the Coalition effectively campaigning on their Budget as an election manifesto (since it will not have had time to pass the Parliament prior to the election being called). 

Although, if you’re into roughies, you can get $5 with the online bookies on the election instead being called just after Australia Day for early March. 

Which, incidentally, is the same price you can get for a Coalition victory. 

Locally, there will be three Legislative Council elections in May – Pembroke (on Hobart’s eastern shore); Nelson (Sandy Bay and Kingston) and Montgomery (on the north-west coast, between Burnie and Ulverstone). 

In Montgomery, Liberal Legislative Council Leader Leonie Hiscutt is defending the seat she won in 2013 against Labor’s candidate Michelle Rippon, where barring unexpected mishaps it is expected that Mrs Hiscutt will be returned. 

The two Hobart-based seats are likely to be more interesting. 

In Pembroke, Labor’s Jo Siejka will be defending the seat she won at a by-election just 18 months ago after the resignation due to ill-health of Dr Vanessa Goodwin. The Liberals are expected to strongly contest the seat but have yet to announce their candidate. 

In Nelson, long-serving and respected member and President of the Legislative Council Jim Wilkinson is retiring. Announced contenders for his seat so far include Blair Brownless (brother of Billy); former Greens staffer, Richard Griggs; and former Denison Labor MHA Madeleine Ogilvie as an Independent. At this stage it is unknown if either Labor or the Liberals will field endorsed candidates in this race.  

And then of course, there will be the resumption of State Parliament in early March, which features the Premier’s annual State of the State address, where he typically lays out the Government’s agenda for the year ahead. 

In his end-of-year interviews Premier Hodgman spoke about doing more to “spread the benefits” of Tasmania’s economic growth, including the development of a new “inclusive growth strategy”. 

With the Premier flagging a new consultative Cabinet process to develop this strategy, there will be much interest – particularly from a business point of view – as to how this process will work in practice to reflect the broader community good, rather than narrow, sectional interests. 

Unusually, however, it will be the resumption of the Legislative Council a week later on 19 March that will be of most interest, with the Premier having given a written commitment that the proposed changes to gender laws be the first order of business when the Council resumes. 

The Source understands several amendments are in the works from various MLCs, including making the recording of gender on birth certificates “opt-out” rather than “opt-in” and increasing the age at which gender can be changed by statutory declaration from 16 to 18, consistent with the accepted age of majority. 

Finally, the question on everyone’s lips this year is “what about Sue Hickey?” 

For our part, we expect the Speaker to continue to flex her muscle and to no doubt cause the Government considerable pain from time to time. However, the good news for supporters of stable, majority government is that we believe that barring the unexpected, Ms Hickey will continue to provide confidence and supply to the Government for the year ahead.  

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year. 

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