Tasmanian Election 2018: The Debrief
Last weekend Premier Will Hodgman steered the Liberal Party to another term of Government in Tasmania. Labor received a small swing but failed to ignite support within the electorate while Jacqui Lambi’s fledgling party managed an underwhelming six percent.
The wheels completely fell off the Greens wagon, who lost a seat to Labor.
Tasmania was the first of a handful of states to go to the polls this year with the result likely to be scrutinised and mulled over in the halls of Federal Parliament.
The key battleground issues were health and jobs during the election campaign, with both major parties promising hundreds of millions in funding to hospitals and ancillary services, as well as committing to significantly reducing unemployment in the island state over the coming term.
Labor and the Greens were also highly critical of the Liberal Party’s alliance with the Tasmanian clubs industry to oppose the Opposition’s plan to phase out pokies over the next few years.
This week, we look at the victor and the runner-up in what was a hotly contested campaign.
Premier Will Hodgman
Will Hodgman is son of highly popular former State and Federal parliamentarian, the late Michael Hodgman, who was elected as State Member for Huon in 1966 and then as the Federal Member for Denison in 1975.
Will Hodgman graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1993 and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1994. Hodgman started as an associate with a Tasmanian law firm, however he made his mark as a ‘fighter’ during his time in the UK where he prosecuted cases of child abuse and neglect.
It was unsurprising to most that Will followed his father into public service, elected to the State seat of Franklin in 2002. In 2006, Hodgman was elected Leader of the Opposition and led the Liberals to a messy tied election in 2010 winning 10 seats against Labor’s 10.
This left the Greens with the balance of power in what turned out to be a highly destabilised political period for Tasmania. In 2014, Hodgman led a rejuvenated Liberal Party to Government with a 9 percent swing toward his team.
During the recent campaign Hodgman announced the largest ever health funding injection in Tasmania’s history. On March 3, Hodgman secured enough votes to form Government for his second term as Premier.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White
Sixth generation Tasmanian, Rebecca White was seen as a new force for Labor in Tasmania and performed very well during a tough campaign.
White graduated from the University of Tasmania with dual degrees in Arts and Commerce. Her commitment to Labor politics was evident early in her career, serving as the Vice President of Tasmanian Young Labor.
In a mark of how close-knit politics is in Tasmania, White worked as a staffer for the man who defeated Will Hodgman’s father in the 1987 federal election, Federal Member for Denison, Duncan Kerr.
White was elected to the seat of Lyons in the hung parliament election of 2010, eventually serving under the first female Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings.
Despite the disastrous result for Labor at the 2014 state election, White was re-elected to her seat. With the retirement of Labor leader Bryan Green in March 2017, she was elected unopposed as Leader of the Opposition.
Although Labor’s performance was far stronger than the 2014 election, White couldn’t quite attain the electoral momentum to take Labor across the line.
The question now remains as to whether Labor will give White another go, or change leaders when the new Parliament is sworn in.