Incoming Liberal premier Will Hodgman has vowed to give Tasmanians a brighter future with a decisive government.
“We’re not under any illusions of the size of the challenge ahead of us,” he told the tally room in Hobart, after winning 14 of the 25 seats following 16 years in opposition.
“But we’re very confident we can give Tasmania a brighter future and a strong stable majority government that this state needs to unlock the potential of Tasmania, that we are no longer seen as second rate or second best.”
He thanked all those who had voted for the Liberal party – including traditional Labor supporters – and vowed to deliver.
“Make no mistake that Tasmanians tonight have voted for a change in direction and that is what we intend to deliver.
“We will be decisive and we will not adopt a business as usual approach.
“We are ready to govern this state and to give it a sense of purpose, some certainty and some confidence that there is a brighter future for this state.”
He said he had spoken to ousted premier Lara Giddings, and paid tribute to her the job she had done over the past three years.
“I know she has never given anything but her full commitment to the job of being premier of our state,” he said.
Mr Hodgman has led the party to victory at his second attempt and will become the first Liberal premier of the state since Tony Rundle.
Premier Lara Giddings conceded the election to the Liberals on Saturday night.
“We do have to accept that after 16 years Tasmanians today have voted for a change,” she told the tally room.
Ms Giddings said she had spoken to Mr Hodgman and congratulated him on his victory.
“I’m only sorry for you that your father Michael and mother Marion cannot be here to see you become the 45th premier of Tasmania,” she said.
“It is a great honour and a great privilege lead this beautiful and great state of ours.”
She said the Labor opposition would hold the Liberal government to account.
Polls had predicted a bloodbath for Labor, who shared power with the Greens for the past four years, and experts were calling the result with barely 10 per cent of the vote counted.
Labor was hard hit in the north and the Greens had also lost electoral support.
Under Tasmania’s unique Hare-Clark electoral system, where five members are elected in each seat, the Liberals needed to pick up three for a majority in the 25-seat lower house.
They looked set to win 14, while Labor had won five, the Greens two with four still in doubt.
But in the popular vote it was a landslide, the Liberals claiming at least 53 per cent, a swing of 14, and Mr Hodgman the highest personal tally of any candidate.
It runs in the family
The 44-year-old father of three young children comes from a long line of Hodgmans involved in Tasmanian politics, but will be the family’s first premier.
His late father Michael was a popular Fraser government minister and state politician.
His grandfather Bill Hodgman and uncle Peter were also members of the state parliament.
The Liberals have promised boosts to health and education as well as the axing of 500 public service positions and budget savings of $500 million.
But they confront unemployment of 7.3 per cent, the nation’s highest, and a budget blowout of $450 million over the forwards estimates.
Also in Mr Hodgman’s electorate of Franklin, Ms Giddings looked likely to hold her seat but leadership hopeful David O’Byrne was under threat.
“Tough night for the Greens”
Greens leader Nick McKim also looked safe, but acknowledged his party performed poorly at Saturday’s election.
“Yes, it has been a tough night for the Greens but we have been in tough places before. Just wait, in 2018, the Greens will be back,” he told the tally room in Hobart.
He said he had considered his future after the result, but was committed to continuing the fight.
“While we have a Liberal government in Canberra and a Liberal government here in Tasmania, the Greens will be there to hold those governments to account,” he said.
“We will stand strong for Tasmania, we will stand strong for the future.”
He said, with Liberal governments in Tasmania and federally, “it is more important than ever that we have a strong Green voice in our parliament and we will have”.