sbs– The Liberal Party has won a historic third term in Tasmania, although with vote counting still underway it is unclear if the party will be returned with a majority.
With more than half of the votes counted, the Liberals are expected to win at least 12 seats, one short of a majority in the state’s 25-member lower house.
Speaking after Labor leader Rebecca White conceded defeat, Peter Gutwein thanked voters for showing their “trust and faith” in the Liberal Party.
“What a night. And while we have won this election convincingly, it appears increasingly likely that we will also govern in majority.”
He reflected on the challenge of governing during a pandemic.
“The decisions I had to make as Premier have been among the hardest things I have ever had to do. But Tasmanians work together; and as a community, we succeeded… We turned Tasmania into one of the safest places in this country and, without doubt, one of the safest places on this planet.”
He said he is keen to get back to work.
“Once the count is completed, we will get straight back to work and ensure that together we secure Tasmania’s future.”
Earlier on Saturday evening, Labor leader Rebecca White conceded defeat, saying the election results followed the trend of Australian voters rewarding incumbent governments for their management of the pandemic.
“All around the country, we have seen incumbent governments rewarded for their management of COVID-19 and there is no doubt that Peter Gutwein and our public health officials kept our community safe; and tonight’s result reflects that.”
She said Labor would continue to advocate for policies to improve infrastructure and health services.
“Tasmanians will not continue to tolerate the endless infrastructure policies never fulfilled. Just because we fell short [in the election results], it doesn’t mean we will stop fighting to make Tasmania a better and fairer place.”
The Hobart electorate of Clark is shaping up as the crucial race with independents Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey both polling strongly.
Victory in one of the two in-doubt Clark seats could deliver the Liberals a majority, while independent success could give rise to a kingmaker.
Mr Gutwein called the election after Ms Hickey quit the Liberals, plunging the government into minority.
The ABC is calling six seats for Labor and two for the Greens with five remaining in doubt.
The Greens picked up a healthy swing of more than four per cent to ensure leader Cassy O’Connor and colleague Rosalie Woodruff will be re-elected.
Greens Party leader Casy O’Connor declared the “Greens were back in town” during a lengthy speech at the Hobart tally room in which she criticised the major parties.
“Our message to the next premier: stop trying to destroy the joint.”
There are 392,000 registered voters in Tasmania and more than 105,000 pre-poll or postal votes were cast.