Tasmania’s crossbench of Lambie candidates, independents and Greens poses challenge for Liberals

Tasmania’s crossbench of Lambie candidates, independents and Greens poses challenge for Liberals
  • PublishedMarch 25, 2024

A private investigator, a former mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the United Kingdom, and a pharmaceutical consultant who wants land tax abolished.

These identities are among those who remain in the running to be elected for the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN) in Tasmania following Saturday’s state election.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the Tasmanian Liberals will need the support of the JLN to be able to form government in minority.

A woman with long, dark brown hair speaks to the camera with a serious expression.
Jacqui Lambie continued to criticise the Liberals on election night, but they might need her party’s support.(ABC News: Monte Boville)

The JLN, a selection of candidates hand-picked by Senator Jacqui Lambie, are on track to win a total of three seats — one each in Bass, Braddon and Lyons.

It puts them in a potentially powerful position in the next parliament, with the Liberals set to win between 14 and 16 seats, falling short of the 18 needed to govern in their own right.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff ruled out negotiating with the Greens, who are likely to win four or five seats.

Labor has conceded defeat, saying it is up the Liberals to form a minority government.

Jeremy Rockliff gestures on stage.
Jeremy Rockliff claimed victory on Saturday night, but still needs to negotiate a minority government.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

Mr Rockliff said he contacted the crossbenchers and independents, and he looked forward to negotiations.

“What we have heard is that Tasmanians clearly want a focus on the issues that matter when it comes to cost of living, health and housing,” he said.

“What I do believe is that the people also voted for certainty and stability.”

The other independents — progressive Kristie Johnston and former Labor leader David O’Byrne — may be less likely to support the Liberals into government, although Mr O’Byrne says he will enter discussions with an open mind.

The first task of the new parliament will be to elect a speaker, which the Liberals could offer to one of the independents.

Lambie’s three likely MPs could be a mixed bag

Senator Lambie would not comment on Sunday, but on Saturday night said the final decisions about whether they would support a Liberal government would be up to her MPs, and not her.

But she reiterated her concerns about the Tasmanian Liberals, saying they had “done a crap job”.

A woman wearing a "no stadium" hat speaks at a microphone
Jacqui Lambie has been a vocal opponent of the Macquarie Point stadium, but one of her candidates has supported it.(ABC News)

The exact identity of her three elected candidates is still unclear.

In Bass, pharmaceutical business consultant Rebekah Pentland appears the most likely JLN candidate to get elected. She has a focus on improving the affordability of healthcare, and abolishing land tax.

Three people out the front of a school.
Jacqui Lambie with two of her Braddon candidates Craig Cutts and Miriam Beswick in Devonport on election day.(ABC News: Ashleigh Barraclough)

But in Braddon and Lyons, the three JLN candidates are polling fairly equally, a result of JLN not promoting a lead candidate in the seats it is contesting.

In Braddon, small business owner Miriam Beswick holds a narrow lead over inquiry agent, or private investigator, James Redgrave.

Mr Redgrave last year drew the ire of Latrobe Council after he asked 140 questions over a 12-month period, and the council estimated he had cost it $14,000 due to “unrelenting and time-consuming actions”.

A man holding a yellow cap smiles into the camera.
Andrew Jenner is a former magistrate and borough mayor in the UK. He could soon become a Jacqui Lambie Network MP in Tasmania.(ABC News: Simon Farrell)

Lyons is similar, with the three JLN candidates polling very closely.

Former magistrate and mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in the United Kingdom, Andrew Jenner, is just ahead of small business owner Troy Pfitzner.

Mr Pfitzner had been a supporter of the Macquarie Point stadium – in contrast to Senator Lambie’s position.

Any of these candidates could ultimately be elected.

Close up of Troy Pfitzner and Rebekah Pentland watching the election night coverage at a JLN function.
Rebekah Pentland will be elected in Bass for JLN, while Troy Pfitzner remains in the race in Lyons.(ABC News: Jake Grant)

O’Byrne to take an open mind

Mr O’Byrne has been a lifelong adherent of the Labor cause, and briefly served as Tasmanian Labor leader after the last election, but says he will act completely independently in the new parliament.

He’s likely to be re-elected in Franklin.

Mr O’Byrne said his priorities would be on stability in parliament, improving outcomes in health, housing and public transport, and supporting the new AFL stadium.

A man speaks to the media by the waterfront.
David O’Byrne says he will act independently in the new parliament.(ABC News: Andy Cunningham)

He said he remained open to discussions with the Liberals.

“I have spent a lot of time in parliament with Jeremy Rockliff, I have spent time having conversations with him — he is clearly a moderate,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“Any person who seeks to maintain … the numbers in the parliament with the crossbench, will have to be mindful of how they negotiate, how they treat people and what kind of policy positions they put on the table.

“If they want to have a crash or crash-through approach in this parliament, I can guarantee you they will crash.”

While Mr Rockliff is a moderate, his party is likely to have a more conservative flavour than the previous term of parliament.

The Liberals will have conservatives Eric Abetz and Jacquie Petrusma in the partyroom, joining Michael Ferguson, Guy Barnet and Felix Ellis, and there is the potential of an additional conservative being elected in both Bass and Braddon.

Moderate Nic Street, who was housing minister, is in a fight to keep his seat in Franklin. Fellow moderate Roger Jaensch is also not guaranteed of returning in Braddon, although it is likely he will be.

In the last term of parliament, moderates Peter Gutwein and Sarah Courtney resigned.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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