News National SA, Tassie voters ready to read Labor’s last rites

SA, Tassie voters ready to read Labor’s last rites

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Time, jobs and budgets are the key issues likely to hit the last two Labor governments left in the country. As South Australia and Tasmania go to the polls on Saturday, the predictions are that the incumbent parties will fall.

South Australia’s Labor party has spent 12 years in power. Tasmania, 16. But their longevity is only one of the issues voters will be considering when their put pencil to paper.

In Tasmania, Will Hodgman  looks likely to boot out Lara Giddings, while in South Australia, first-term Liberal leader Steven Marshall is poised to expel Jay Weatherill.

Will there be wall-to-wall Liberal governments in Australia on Sunday morning? Here, The New Daily looks at the issues, the contenders and the likely results of each poll.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. Source: AAP.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. Source: AAP

South Australia

The contenders

Labor: Premier Jay Weatherill

At the start of the year, Weatherill stood firm as powerbroker Don Farrell made a play for state parliament, threatening to quit if the senator was successful in gaining pre-selection. Mr Weatherill became premier in October 2011, replacing Mike Rann. A former industrial lawyer, he was elected to parliament in 2002.

Liberal: Steven Marshall

First term MP Steven Marshall has just clocked up his fourth year in parliament. With a strong business background, he has been able to unify the top end of town to support him. A key weakness of the South Australian Liberals has been their ongoing disunity, but Marshall has brought steadiness to Liberal ship.

Steven Marshall with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Steven Marshall with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: AAP

The issues

Time: The ticking clock is the biggest problem after 12 years with Labor. For the past year, the SA government has had to deal with issues including an Education Department child abuse scandal and a subsequent inquiry.

Jobs: Jobs are a major election issue, particularly after Holden’s announcement that it would close its Adelaide assembly operations by the end of 2017. While Mr Marshall has pledged to put a cap of 5170 on cuts to public service jobs, the Premier has made much of the loss of jobs in other states after the election of a Liberal government.

Policy free? Labor released its key policies at the start of the election campaign in February. The Liberals have kept their policies close to their chest, except for a few teasers on payroll and land tax reform.

Budget: Everyone believes the state is broke and, post-Holden announcement, there is an element of fear in South Australia about the economy.

The PM factor: Weatherill wants to be strong and defiant to stand up to Tony Abbott, who the Premier believes offered an unsatisfactory bailout package after the Holden announcement. Marshall wants to work with the Federal Government.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 2.48.54 pmThe marginal seats will decide the result of the SA election, with the parties running targeted campaigns on the ground. There has been some negative campaigning, including against Grace Portolesi’s Liberal opponent in Hartley, Vincent Tarzia.

Adelaide, which has been the subject of billions in spending on infrastructure under Labor, has been a key target with hard working Liberal MP Rachel Sanderson likely to retain the seat. An example was the dirty tactics used in the seat of Elder against Liberal candidate Carolyn Habib, with Labor releasing a pamphlet, “Can you trust Habib”.

X- Factor

It’s pretty hard to make a case for Labor in this one, but Abbott and Hockey didn’t seem overly sympathetic towards the automotive industry and its workforce late last year. Will that be enough to make a few people think twice before voting for their state counterparts?

Likely result: Liberal victory

The Liberals have been pencilling in a victory for a while and recent polling indicates it is all but assured.

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings. Source: AAP.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings. Source: AAP


The contenders

Labor: Premier Lara Giddings

Ms Giddings became premier in January 2011, replacing David Bartlett, and is also the state’s Treasurer. Comparatively young at 41 years old, she was elected to state parliament in 1996. Despite leading a Labor-Greens coalition during the past four years, she moved to distance Labor from the smaller party, sacking Greens ministers before announcing the poll.

Liberal: Will Hodgman

Mr Hodgman was elected to state parliament in 2002 and became opposition leader in 2006, replacing Rene Hidding. He got the Liberals awfully close to victory in 2010, but the resulting hung parliament ultimately led to a Labor-Greens coalition. After eight years in the job, he would want a big win on Saturday as anything less could point to leadership rumblings down the track.

Will Hodgman is tipped to be the next Tasmanian premier.
Will Hodgman is tipped to be the next Tasmanian premier. Photo: AAP

The big issues

Jobs: The state has the highest unemployment in the country at 7.6 per cent and the youth jobless rate has hit more than 20 per cent in some regions. Forestry and manufacturing have been shedding jobs and some commentators have declared Tasmania is in recession.

The budget: Premier and treasurer Lara Giddings announced a $450 million blowout over the forward estimates, largely blaming the planned abolition of the carbon tax for stripping Hydro Tasmania’s profits. The opposition says the budget is out of control and has promised $500 million of savings to the government’s $165 million.

Majority government: After four years of a Labor-Greens alliance, both major parties have ruled out any agreement with a minor party after the election. But Tasmania’s unique Hare-Clark system means winning a majority is tough, so some post-election manoeuvring could be on the cards.

The NBN: Or, more generally, the Abbott government. Labor argues that only it can stand up to the federal government on the issues of cuts to the troubled NBN rollout, the national disability insurance scheme and school funding reform. Opposition Leader Will Hodgman was caught on camera admitting an apparent NBN backflip could cost the Liberals the election.

Environment/forestry: A perennial in Tasmania that ensures the Greens remain a force. A controversial pulp mill proposal that had looked dead and buried with Gunns has been revived by Labor, while a federal government wind-back of World Heritage forests is the other big issue. The Liberals have pledged to tear up a hard-won forestry peace agreement, suggesting a period of intense conflict between green groups and loggers if, as expected, they salute on Saturday night.

Time: Currently Australia’s longest-serving government, Tasmanian Labor has been in power for 16 years, sneaking back into power in 2010 when the Liberals refused to work with the Greens. Every indication is that Labor has outstayed its welcome with Tasmanian voters.

An ‘X’ factor

The Palmer United Party gained Burnie-based senator-elect Jacqui Lambie during last year’s federal election. Mr Palmer has been stomping around Tasmania and comparing himself with Gandhi, but for all his hyperbole, it seems the maverick Queensland billionaire has connected with a few disillusioned voters. Can he pull out another rabbit from his electoral hat on Saturday?

Likely result: Liberal victory

Labor has had a long run in power – and the winds of change are definitely blowing. The Liberals are likely to gain government at this election, but that comes bright yellow asterisk in the form of Clive Palmer’s party.

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