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
  • election

Liberals outpoint Labor in voting but majority in doubt

Ethan James March 23, 2024

Tasmania’s incumbent Liberals have taken an early lead over Labor in the state election, despite a swing against the party.

The island state, home to Australia’s last Liberal government, went to the polls more than a year early after spending eight months under minority rule.

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

ABC election analyst Antony Green had called 12 seats for the Liberals at 8pm (AEDT) on Saturday, with Labor picking up 10 and the Greens two .

With about 10 per cent of the vote counted, the Liberals party hsa suffered an almost nine per cent swing against it, with the Jacqui Lambie Network the main beneficiary.

Green said it was unlikely the Liberals would be able to form a majority government with 37 per cent of the primary vote.

Tasmania’s parliament is being restored from 25 to 35 seats, with seven MPs to be elected in each of the five electorates.

Former senator Eric Abetz will make a political comeback for the Liberals after running in the southern electorate of Franklin.

Despite the Jacqui Lambie Network picking up votes, the party remains short of the vote to obtain a quote under the Hare Clark system.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff earlier in the day declared the Liberals were “within a whisker” of majority.

“I’m particularly proud of our candidates, a great bunch of people from all walks of life,” Mr Rockliff told reporters after voting in Sassafras.

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

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.

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.