Politics Analysis

ANDREW P STREET: The Tasmanian Election — everyone's a loser!

By | | comments |
The Tasmanian State Election not quite cause for Federal Liberal Party celebration (Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein and Prime Minister Scott Morrison: Screenshots via YouTube)

The (Tasmanian) devil is in the details. 

There are two ways to look at the Tasmanian state election.

The boring way is that the Liberal Government of Peter Gutwein was returned, Labor Leader Rebecca White conceded very early on and the Greens saw their vote increase.

But the more excitingly accurate way is this: wow, absolutely everybody lost!

As far as election victories go, there's remarkably little for anyone to celebrate, at least so far. Two seats are still in play, with the possibility that the Liberals will need the support of at least one independent in order to form government — which was the entire reason that Petey went to the polls a year early. (That, and the fact that White was heavily pregnant and Gutto wasn't above forcing a soon-to-give-birth woman to campaign in those exhausting final weeks).

And it worked, sort of, but… well…

The Liberals: The most victorious losers!

It was a historic third win for the Liberal Party — or it will be provided that one more Liberal slides over the line in the electorate of Clark, which would finally give Gutwein a majority.

In so doing, Guttles will have returned his party to the exact same position they were in at the last election: a bare one-seat victory. Whoooo.

And that’s best-case scenario. If he doesn't get that seat he'll either have to do a humiliating backflip on his petulant "I'm not dealing with independents or the Greens!"promise, or (more likely) have to step down as leader while someone else does the deal he promised not to do.

The Liberal vote dropped in this election too, which is awfully embarrassing given the thumping great victories which every other state and territory election has handed to incumbents over the last 12 months. Queensland, NT, the ACT and especially WA saw their sitting Labor governments re-elected with margins that ranged from "thumping" to "unbelievable" to the point where the entire WA Liberal Parliamentary Party can now fit in a dodgem car.

And this paints a slightly worrying picture for Scott Morrison who, like Gutwein, will be looking at going early to capitalise on COVID-gratitude and, also like Gutwein, has a majority which is hanging by a thread right now. That the Tasmanian Liberals didn't risk bringing Morrison down to campaign for them also suggests that the ScoMo brand might not be as universally adored as the Federal Government would like people to believe.

Still, a win is a (Gut)w(e)in.

Labor: The losingest losers!

Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

The best you can say about Labor is that they don't have less seats than they had before the election and that nobody was betting on them winning anyway. And yet they somehow still managed to not live up to those weak expectations.

The Liberal vote dropped by 1.2 per cent, but the Labor vote dropped by almost 4.5 — a terrible reflection on a campaign that started out messy and then got too clever by half in the final days with the convenient drop of Braddon candidate Adam Brooks' alleged dating profile, in which he was seemingly catfishing women as a Melbourne-based worker named Terry. An amazing story, sure, but probably did more to boost his name recognition than encourage voter backlash.

And yes, Gutwein was the incumbent during COVID — but the big election issues were the State's public health crisis and access to housing. That’s heartland Labor stuff.

It's illustrated how much catch-up Labor needs to play. After all, a primary vote with a two in front of it is diabolical. And it doesn't bode well for the talent for the Federal ground campaign where Labor will really need to flip Braddon to be competitive.

The Greens: The most meaningless winners!

They're the only party that got a boost in their vote, but that didn't translate into anything useful like, say, winning more seats.

And it's a surprise since environmental issues were so prominent during the campaign, especially when looking at how very, very badly Labor fumbled them.

For anyone hoping that the Greens are about to become Australia's opposition party as Labor consistently keep failing to thread the environment-vs-jobs needle, this result in their strongest state and natural home should indicate it might be a while.

The Independents: The sort of winners, if you kind of squint

At least one independent will be in the parliament and that will probably be popular Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston. She, former Speaker Sue Hickey and the Liberals are battling it out for the last two seats in Clark. And you might want to pour yourself a largish drink if you're planning on waiting for that result. It's going to be a while coming.

Federally, the Division of Clark (formerly Denison) is held by the independently MP Andrew Wilkie since 2010, who shows no sign of losing his local support. But while big things were expected of the independent candidates in this state election, they collectively got about half the Greens vote. The revolution may not be just around the corner there either.

But if anyone has been wondering about the likelihood of a very hasty get-Labor-on-the-back-foot Federal election announcement shortly after the Budget comes down next week, I'd say the odds have considerably shortened…

Andrew P Street is an Adelaide-based, Sydney-built journalist, columnist, author, editor and broadcaster. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewPStreet.

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by Andrew P Street
#3 TOP STORY OF 2022: The most depressing thing about 'Don’t Look Up' isn’t what you think (prolly)

For longer than perhaps we should have expected, IA had the wit and whimsy of ...  
The SA State Election shouldn’t even be close (but it is)

Polls suggest South Australia's Liberal Government could be defeated after just one ...  
Peter Dutton’s GoFundMe is Coalition indifference writ large

Peter Dutton has established a crowdfunding campaign to assist flood victims rather ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate