Party time at the poll

image1 (002)The major policies have been revealed and record spending has been promised in key areas, as the state’s two major parties vie to win majority government on March 3.

Tasmanians head to the polls with billions of dollars in promises to sift through as they chose who will govern the state for the next four years.

The pollsters and bookmakers are still anticipating a hung parliament but Liberal Leader Will Hodgman says his team has been strong enough and delivered the positive results required to achieve the 13 seats it needs to form government and serve a second term.

Labor Leader Rebecca White claims underdog status as she tries to claw the party back from its decimation at the last election.

She has admitted it is a huge task to build enough voter support to almost double the number of seats Labor currently holds.

Health was the key focus for Labor, but the Liberals shocked with an announcement during the party’s official campaign launch of an extra $757 million, employing 1,332 more health professionals over the next six years.

While the majority of the funding flows at the later end of the forward estimates and questions were raised about how that number of staff could be employed given there are already vacancies in the system, it was well received by those at the coal face.

Labor’s health policy involves a $560 million spend that includes the recruitment of 500 extra staff across the state’s health and hospital system and a promise to improve waiting times.

In eduction, the Liberals are promising $324 million over six years to employ 250 extra teachers and 80 teacher assistants.

In contrast, Labor has promised to spend $196 million over four years, employing 89 new teachers and 150 early education specialists and social workers.

It’s biggest play for votes came with the plan to dump all school fees for every public school student, removing any means testing.

TCCI Chief Executive Michael Bailey said he was pleased to see the Liberals heed calls from the peak business body to withdraw from the National Electricity Market and also improve business confidence by reducing payroll tax.

Mr Bailey said he was relieved the Labor Party had changed its mind and committed to leave the Office of the Coordinator General in Launceston.

The TCCI is pushing for majority government having compared the last four years of opportunity to the disaster of the previous four years under a Labor-Green Minority Government.

The powerful hotel lobby has given that a helping hand on the back of Labor’s pokies policy to ban the machines from all pubs and clubs across the state.

Venues across the state are brandishing “Vote Liberal” signs in a protest against the policy, which has split the Labor party nationally with Victoria locking into pubs and clubs for at least 20 years.

Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten also backed away from Ms White’s policy – telling the Tasmanian media hat it was not an issue for him, a position also taken by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten have been in Tasmania for the campaign but it’s now up to Mr Hodgman and Ms White to run the gauntlet of the often dangerous final week of posturing.

Both leaders have let their personal sides show during the campaign.

The Premier has picked up the guitar with international rock stars and little day care kids and selfies at the pub while Ms White has showcased her one-year- old daughter Mia, took part in an arm wrestle on one commercial radio program and even dressed up in racing silks during the campaign.

It’s been a long but respectful campaign and every vote will count in each of the five electorates as the state decides its future.

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