Tasmania’s political stage has been the highlight of local newspapers of late, with topics such as forestry, unemployment, council amalgamations, red tape and sovereign risk on top of the list.
As such, it was timely for the Property Council of Tasmania to host the year’s first leaders’ debate between Premier Lara Giddings and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman, to highlight what is in store for us all in the lead-up to the 2014 State election.
The debate structure gave the Premier and the Opposition Leader two minutes for an opening statement to address not only the room full of notable guests, but the Tasmanian public through media coverage of the event.
Ms Giddings won the coin toss and opened by highlighting job creation as the Government’s number one priority, which will be achieved through investments in irrigation, dairy, wine, aquaculture and renewable energy.
Mr Hodgman on the other hand focused on economic growth, including investment in essential services such as education, the health system and public safety. He also outlined a plan to restore business confidence by cutting red and green tape as well as reducing government departments through department mergers.
The Premier and Opposition Leader were then put through their paces by Southern Cross Political Journalist and moderator Alex Johnston, with questions addressing Tasmania’s unemployment rate, the State’s economic transition, key industries for Tasmania’s future, population targets, and the issue of minority governments as well as council amalgamations.
Both Ms Giddings and Mr Hodgman directly answered his questions and supported claims with evidence and were confident in their debate approaches.
After a hard fought debate, Mr Hodgman was given the floor for his closing statement, which outlined his desire for the 2014 election to be dominated by policies rather than scaremongering. As part of his closing, Mr Hodgman said future Liberal policies put forward would restore confidence and hope for Tasmanians.
By contract, Ms Giddings outlined numerous positive statistics once again highlighting Tasmania was on the comeback after a hard couple of years following the global financial crisis. She emphasised that current statistics illustrated the Tasmanian economy was in recovery and had a bright future.
Both leaders fought hard on the day, but the ultimate question remains – will we see Labor, chasing its fifth consecutive term, come out on top or will we see the longest-serving Opposition Leader take the reins? Whatever the outcome, the next 12 months will surely put pressure on both parties and bring accountability to the forefront.
For those of you who missed the debate, The Property Council has the full showdown available by clicking here.