By Managing Director Becher Townshend
Well the election has been won and lost, or in this case it has been won and won, because to use a cliché Oppositions don’t win elections, Government’s lose, and with the second back-to-back majority win for a Liberal Government in Tasmania, Will Hodgman and his team have delivered.
In the wash up, the Liberals polled 50.5 per cent of the vote, the ALP managed 32.76 per cent, while the Greens were down to 10.03 per cent.
With a 25 member chamber, it is likely the Liberals will win 13 or 14 seats giving them majority, Labor nine or 10 seats, while the Greens will have one or two seats.
The result for both Labor and the Greens is likely to leave them questioning what went wrong, particularly as much of the swing to Labor – at 5.01 per cent – was from a 3.83 per cent move away from the Greens.
This result saw Labor win back its heartland vote from the Greens, but little else, as the Liberals only lost 0.76 per cent of their vote, meaning the ALP failed to win over few, if any, of the swinging voters that make up the vast centre of Tasmanian politics.
Instead those voters stuck with the Liberals and allowed them four more years of majority Government.
Many will argue why there was such a result and from my point of view two observations can be made.
Firstly, the economy and its current strength did much to help the Liberals across the line.
The Tasmanian economy is going through an unprecedented period of growth and while not all in the State have reaped the benefits of our new prosperity, everybody sees it and is hoping if there is four more years of the Liberals it may rub off on them.
Secondly, elections are not about convincing people in a six week period to vote one way or another, they are actually about asking people to reflect on the last few years of Government and ask themselves if they believe the party of the day should remain.
With a steady as she goes approach since being elected in 2014, the Hodgman Liberal Government have been consistent, relatively scandal free and ran just about a faultless re-election campaign.
Contrast this with Labor and the Green and you see a very different approach.
Labor’s new and talented leader Bec White put in a stoic effort but with only five sitting members to support the campaign, the distraction of a policy to remove gaming machines from pubs and clubs, coupled with a relatively short period of political leadership, it was always going to be difficult to win.
Instead Labor have focused on the future, pushing individual candidates, most with strong union links to build a party with an eye on the 2022 election.
This is likely to see at least three new members of the House for Labor – in David O’Byrne, Ella Haddad and Alison Standen.
Labor will learn from this campaign and with either nine or ten members in a 25 member house and an additional four members in the Upper House they are now again a political force to be reckoned with.
For the Greens, the story is a different one, with their vote having halved since 2010 and the prospect of one or perhaps two members as well as the loss of much of their support to Labor, no doubt some soul searching will occur.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said on election night, the lack of a fight on the environment during the campaign was the key and this will probably see the party return to its roots and seek to redefine the political debate firing up the battle in the forests and against fish farming.
In the meantime, for the Hodgman Government it will be a return to normal operations, of sticking to their messages, delivering on their election pledges and hoping for as few surprises as possible for the next four years.