Labor leader Rebecca White with family
Rebecca White has cast her ballot alongside husband Rodney Dann and their children. Image by Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS
  • election

Leaders vote in Tassie election, hung parliament tipped

Ethan James March 23, 2024

Tasmania’s major party leaders have cast their ballots in a state poll where voters appear set to snub the Liberals and Labor and deliver a hung parliament. 

Australia’s only Liberal government is chasing a record fourth successive term, while Labor is aiming to return to power after 10 years in opposition.

Saturday’s election is being held more than a year ahead of schedule after the Liberals were unable to resolve a minority government stand-off with two cross bench independents. 

Opinion polls point to a hung parliament, with the Liberals winning more seats than Labor but not the 18 of 35 required for majority. 

Premier Jeremy Rockliff cast his vote at Sassafras Primary School in his seat of Braddon in the state’s northwest.

Mr Rockliff said his party was “within a whisker” of majority, despite some polls showing the Liberals would achieve a primary vote percentage in the 30s.

“I know our candidates will be working around their electorates respectfully (to) see if we can achieve (majority),” he told reporters.

 Labor is led by Rebecca White, who is having a third tilt at becoming premier after briefly stepping down from the role after her 2021 defeat.

Polls, which show more than a third of voters could snub the two major parties, suggest Labor will receive a first-preference percentage in the 20s.

Ms White voted at Sorell, northeast of Hobart, alongside husband Rodney Dann and their two children. 

“There is every chance that Tasmanians won’t get a final result (on Saturday night),” she said. 

“It might take a number of days before we actually understand what the make-up of the next government and parliament is.” 

Final results may not be known until the week of April 8 because of Easter public holidays, a record 167 candidates and an expanded parliament.

Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White with daughter Mia
 Ms White voted at the Sorell Memorial Hall, east of Hobart, in her electorate of Lyons. Image by Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS 

The Liberals have accused Labor of breaching the state’s electoral act by installing signs at polling booths. 

A Labor volunteer told AAP the signs had been put up “across the state” on Friday night, not in breach of an election law which prohibits distributing signs anywhere on polling day.

Mr Rockliff and Ms White have said they’re prepared to govern in minority but have ruled out doing deals or trading policy positions. 

The pair have exchanged barbs over whether a new $715 million stadium in Hobart – a condition of Tasmania’s licence for an AFL club – is the right priority for the state. 

Mr Rockliff, who signed the contract, backs the project but Ms White has described it as a bad deal and says she wants to renegotiate despite the AFL not wanting to budge. 

The two leaders may have to contend with a cross bench made up of the Greens, Jacqui Lambie Network candidates and independents. 

Senator Lambie was in Devonport in the state’s northwest alongside candidates.

“We’ve had 10 years of the Liberal government, we’ve only seen Tasmania get worse,” she told reporters.

Tasmanian Greens Leader Rosalie Woodruff
 Greens leader Rosalie Woodruff voted in her greater Hobart electorate of Franklin. Image by Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS 

 Tasmania’s lower house is being restored from 25 to 35 members, with each of the state’s five electorates to elect seven MPs.

More than 90,000 of Tasmania’s 408,000 registered voters have cast their ballot early.

Greens leader Rosalie Woodruff wants to push the major parties for greater environmental action if the party ends up in a balance-of-power position. 

“We want to fight hard for forests, for renters, for health and housing,” she said after voting in her electorate of Franklin. 

“Our message has been that change is not just necessary, it is possible. We hope that is reflected in the vote.”