Tasmanian business leaders have welcomed the return of Will Hodgman’s majority Liberal Government with a mandate to continue revitalising the state’s economy.
The March 3 poll was a clear victory for the Liberal Party, after it gained more than 50 per cent of the primary vote.
Despite that solid polling, it has had its overall number reduced to just the required 13 Members needed to maintain control on the floor of the House of Assembly.
Labor increased its numbers to 10 and the Greens suffered another significant reduction in support, winning just two seats.
While Parliament doesn’t resume until next month, the government will be expected to roll up its sleeves quickly to start delivering its suite of promises to increase jobs and build the economy with new infrastructure and development.
The Liberal Cabinet has been sworn in, with Mr Hodgman, Deputy Premier and Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff, Treasurer Peter Gutwein and Health Minister Michael Ferguson retaining their key portfolios – all four saying they have unfinished business in each area.
Mr Gutwein’s State Budget, due in June, will outline how they will fund their big-spending campaign which involved a record spend for health.
Hobart lord mayor Sue Hickey will swap her mayoral chains for the role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Small Business after winning a seat in Denison.
Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Bailey said the majority government result would be good for Tasmania and Mr Hodgman has a clear mandate for a series of policies.
The policies include the takeover of TasWater and the retention of poker machines in pubs and clubs, rather than Labor’s policy of restricting poker machines to the state’s two Casinos in Hobart and Launceston.
“Clearly these two policies were high on the agenda before the election was called and were out there for the voters to make their decision which supported the Liberal Party,” Mr Bailey said.
“It will be interesting to see if the Legislative Council listens to the will of Tasmania’s people – I and thousands of Tasmanians will be very disappointed if they vote against such policies.
“It became very obvious last year when the Legislative Council’s Select Committee on TasWater’s ownership was taking evidence from the community that the result would be negative.
“I’m a strong supporter of the independent Legislative Council and its role as a house of review. I believe that a Labor bloc, if it does exist as the Treasurer suggests, would be against the intention of this important house.”
Tasmania’s economic revival, and confidence among business owners, had been highlighted regularly interstate and the result was lauded as a reward for competent leadership.
The Australian Financial Review praised the outcome as “good news”.
“When Will Hodgman became Premier in 2014, Tasmania was being squeezed by the mining boom: its primary export and tourism-dependent economy was struggling with the high dollar.
“Mr Hodgman successfully managed the post-boom adjustment, attracted more investment – including from China – got state finances under control, and dropped the state’s jobless rate from the Commonwealth’s highest to its second lowest,” the AFR said.
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