The Tasmanian government has accused state Liberals of “sniffing out” a power-sharing deal with the Palmer United Party, prompting Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to reaffirm his party’s commitment to majority government.
“It looks as though the fix is in, and the Liberals are busily sounding out potential minority government partners,” Labor MP for Bass, Brian Wightman, said in a statement headed “Liberals Sniffing Out Deals with the PUP”.
“Either Mr Hodgman is being undermined by being kept in the dark by his own party’s secret agenda, or he is trying to cover it up before the election,” Mr Wightman added.
They didn’t want to be identified but they wanted to talk to us.
Premier Lara Giddings used Twitter to suggest a potential power-sharing deal was afoot.
“Senior Liberals already talking to PUP about a coalition. Will Hodgman denies knowledge of it. Is the leadership challenge on already?” she tweeted.
Labor’s claims come after PUP state leader Kevin Morgan earlier on Thursday said Liberal Party “associates” had approached him about working together.
He said the people who approached him weren’t members of parliament, but “were people that were associated with the Liberal Party”.
“They didn’t want to be identified but they wanted to talk to us and they wanted to see whether we would be prepared to work with the Liberal Party,” Mr Morgan told ABC Radio.
Mr Hodgman was quick to label Mr Morgan’s comments “complete and utter nonsense”.
“We are serious about giving Tasmanians the choice and the options of majority government,” he told ABC Radio.
“It’s just what Tasmania needs, a government with a clear agenda that speaks with one voice.”
Tasmanians head to the polls on Saturday, and after 16 years of Labor rule, a change in government seems likely.
The last state election in 2010 resulted in a hung parliament, and Labor formed government with the Greens.
Ms Giddings on Thursday emphasised Labor’s pledge to go it alone in government this time around.
She said another power-sharing deal with the Greens would mean “those Labor voters who are feeling disillusioned now would never come back to the Labor Party”.
She also said a dip in the state’s jobless rate showed the economy has “turned the corner” ahead of this weekend’s election.
Tasmania recorded an unemployment rate of 7.3 per cent for February, down from a seasonally adjusted 7.5 per cent in January, according to ABS data out today.
“We have now seen 1900 jobs created over the past four months, which is indisputable evidence that Tasmania’s economy has turned the corner,” Ms Giddings said in a statement.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that automated pre-election phone calls from the Palmer United Party had been made to the triple-zero emergency line in Tasmania.
The so-called robocalls were made to the emergency services this week, angering the firefighters’ union and possibly breaking the law.
Palmer United Party senator-elect Jacqui Lambie said the call was “inappropriate and disgusting”.