Tasmania 2018: The Key Election Issues
Anyone who has spent time in Tasmania will know that Tasmanian’s favourite sport is AFL, closely followed by politics.
Given its relatively small population, most people in Tasmania work or used to work in politics / want to work in politics / know someone in politics / or are generally interested in politics.
Everyone else is simply referred to as ‘tourists’.
This is the likely reason why the upcoming State election is shaping up to be such a close contest. Polling conducted last week suggest that on a two party preferred basis, the Liberal Party is sitting on 46.5%, Labor on 30%, the Greens on 12% and the Jacqui Lambie Network on 5%.
The election pits a fairly popular Premier, Will Hodgman, against Opposition Leader Rebecca White, who is seen as a fresh face and rejuvenating force for the ALP in Tasmania.
This week we take snapshot of the issues that make up the policy battleground.
Key Issues for the Liberal Party
The Tasmanian election campaign has been marked by a battle to gain the high ground on health spending. At the launch of the Liberal Party campaign last week, Hodgman announced the largest ever health funding injection in Tasmania’s history. The $757 million health spend will include a 20 percent increase in the number of hospital beds, which the Premier said is only possible due to the strong economic management of his Government.
According to the Liberal Party election platform, jobs will remain the number one priority for a re-elected Hodgman Government. Under the Liberals, State unemployment has fallen from 7.9 percent to 5.8 percent. The Liberals a promising to take this further, committing to have the best unemployment figures of any state by 2022.
The Liberal Party has found a strong ally in Tasmanian pubs and clubs, following Labor’s plan to phase out pokies from these establishments by 2023. Staff in watering holes around the state have been wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Save my job. Vote Liberal’.
Key Issues for the Labor Party
Labor’s number one platform is health, committing $560 million to improving the Tasmanian health system, including boosting hospital bed numbers. However the party has been wrong-footed slightly by the Liberals larger health funding commitment.
Jobs are also high on the Opposition’s agenda, claiming the fall in Tasmanian unemployment is mainly thanks to Labor programs implemented before the Liberals were elected. Labor is linking their job creation strategy to increased funding for education programs including a boost to TAFE and ‘life-long education’ programs.
One of Labor’s key platforms is to boost Tasmania’s natural tourism advantage with a new $50 million regional tourism infrastructure fund. The plan is designed to improve the State’s regional tourism attractions, creating jobs and boosting local economies.