Tasmanian election results show an uncertain future ahead for the state but the Liberals are crowing that they’ve won

Tasmanian election results show an uncertain future ahead for the state but the Liberals are crowing that they’ve won
  • PublishedMarch 24, 2024

Political parties that suffer a big drop in their vote and are on track to fall at least three seats short of a majority don’t often claim victory.

But on Saturday night, that’s exactly what Premier Jeremy Rockliff did.

With experts pencilling in just 12 seats for the Liberals when he took to the stage at the tally room on Saturday night, Mr Rockliff said his party had secured a fourth consecutive election win.

His delivery lacked conviction, but his words were decisive. The Liberals had won, and Labor had lost.

And he’d be seeking to form a government that gave “Tasmanians the certainty and the stability that they deserve, and to deliver our 2030 strong plan for Tasmania’s future.”

Journalists furiously sent and received text messages wondering if he’d read the 2021 election results by mistake.

But what the 2024 election results show is the Liberals have 36.7 per cent of the statewide vote, a swing of 12 per cent against them compared to last election.

ABC chief election analyst Antony Green predicts they’ll win at least 12 seats, maybe 15 in a best-case scenario.


Duration: 1 minute 34 seconds1m 34s

Whichever way you slice it, it’s not the clear win Mr Rockliff’s speech would have had Tasmanians believe.

To quote one follower on Mr Rockliff’s Facebook page: “Called it for yourself with only 12 seats gained and 11 still in the air. You’re a farmer, you should know not to count your chickens before your eggs hatch.”

The second speech, from Labor leader Rebecca White, was equally as confusing.

Despite her party only winning 29.1 per cent of the vote, and on track to claim just 10 or 11 seats, she didn’t concede defeat.

In fact, she said voters had “rejected the past and want change”.

Her speech seemed like a pitch to the minor party and independent MPs who will make up the next parliament about why they should help Labor to form a government, instead of the Liberals.

Pointing out the premier had called the election because he could no longer work with Liberal-turned-independents John Tucker and Lara Alexander, Ms White publicly questioned how Mr Rockliff would manage minority a second time around.

“Dealing with a crossbench the size the Tasmanian community looks to have returned in this election will be a very difficult task for them to manage with respect,” she said.

“Because respect requires an honest appreciation that the voters cannot be sent back to do it again and that each member of the crossbench represents a constituency that has to be listened to.

“Humble people don’t speak of a coalition of chaos whenever they don’t get their own way. Or claim a victory when the results aren’t clear.”

Could Ms White actually form government? She definitely left the door open in her speech.

“We will wait to see how the dust settles and for the final results to be determined and Labor will be ready to work with the parliament to implement our agenda and our plan for a better future for Tasmania if that is the will of the people,” she said.

It was a much more positive, and pointed, speech than you’d expect from a party, which pitted against a decade-old government wracked by instability, only won 29.2 per cent of the primary vote, just a 1 per cent increase on the 2021 election.

Here’s what we know

In summary, neither major party conceded, and both claimed the other one lost, despite winning an unsatisfactory number of seats themselves.

It’ll take weeks to declare the exact make-up of the parliament, and maybe even longer to work out who forms the next government.

But on a night of chaos and uncertainty, here are some things we know for sure.

There’ll be a big crossbench, but John Tucker and Lara Alexander won’t be part of it, having failed to win back their seats.

Former Liberal senator Eric Abetz and media personality Rob Fairs will enter state parliament as Liberal MPs. Former Liberal minister Jacquie Petrusma’s political return has been successful, as has upper house MP Jane Howlett’s move downstairs.

We also know that soul searching in the Liberal Party will begin almost immediately, with Mr Abetz telling the ABC’s election panel that multiple party policies should be reviewed, including plans to allow pets in rentals, and apply a visitor levy on short-stay accommodation.

And on a night where both major parties fell short of expectations, the Greens look to be the big winners.

Rosalie Woodruff’s team will grow from two MPs to at least four.

And she made clear in her speech that she’s happy to work with whoever wants to form government.

Tasmanians will be hoping a chaotic election night isn’t an omen for the next four years.

And that they won’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next.


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