Liberals confident of majority in Tasmania

·3-min read

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has declared his government is on track to win a majority after being returned for a historic third term.

The Liberal Party remained one seat short of forming government in its own right on Saturday night with 12 seats in the 25-member lower house.

Mr Gutwein vowed to quit if he failed to secure a majority, putting his future in the balance with counting to continue into Sunday.

Despite the precarious situation, the premier projected confidence during his victory speech of winning the crucial 13th seat.

"Whilst we have won this election convincingly, it appears increasingly likely that we will also govern in majority," he told the tally room in Hobart.

The premier called the election a year ahead of schedule in a bid to capitalise on soaring personal popularity over his management of coronavirus.

Pandemic proofing and economic success were the dominant themes of the government's re-election bid, while Labor ran heavily on health and housing.

Launceston-based Mr Gutwein achieved a massive primary vote in his northern electorate of Clark, reflecting his high approval figures.

He thanked Tasmanians for working with the government to safeguard the island state from the health and economic threat of the virus.

"We turned Tasmania into one of the safest places in this country and without doubt, one of the safest places on this planet."

Opposition Leader Rebecca White conceded defeat but didn't comment on her future after leading Labor to a second defeat.

"All around the country we have seen incumbent governments rewarded for their management of COVID-19," she said.

"There is no doubt that Peter Gutwein and our public health officials kept our community safe and tonight's result reflects that."

Four seats remain in doubt with Labor clinching at least seven and the Greens are sitting on two.

The Hobart electorate of Clark shapes as the crucial race with independents Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey both polling strongly.

Victory in one of the two in-doubt Clark seats could deliver the Liberals a majority, while independent success could give rise to a kingmaker.

Mr Gutwein sent voters to the polls after Ms Hickey quit the Liberals, plunging the government into minority.

While Liberal supporters celebrated victory, Tasmanian politics could be facing deeper chaos if Adam Brooks is elected as a government MP.

The former mining minister is under investigation over allegations he used a fake dating profile to lie about his identity to a woman.

With parliament's numbers remaining on a knife edge, any adverse findings against Mr Brooks could put a serious question mark over the government's presence in the lower house.

The Greens picked up a healthy swing to ensure leader Cassy O'Connor and colleague Rosalie Woodruff will be re-elected.

There are 392,000 registered voters in Tasmania and more than 105,000 pre-poll or postal votes were cast under the state's Hare-Clark electoral system.

The proportional representation model makes it difficult for governments to achieve landslides.