Pulp mill is dividing line with Greens

PREMIER Lara Giddings is talking tough when it comes to the Greens, but isn't prepared to kick them out of cabinet just yet.

After holding the unpopular minority government together for another year, Ms Giddings has indicated it will be the pulp mill that will drive them apart.

Earlier this week she announced a new subcommittee of cabinet to focus on supporting major projects, of which the pulp mill is the priority. 

It is made up of what Ms Giddings described yesterday as ``the core of the government'', and that does not include the two Greens ministers.

``Now I won't tolerate a campaign against the pulp mill by the Greens,'' Ms Giddings said.

``It's just not on. This is investment that the state needs, it's jobs that this state needs and, importantly, it's in an industrial area of Bell Bay that this will be built.''

For now, though, that's as much distance as she's putting between herself and the Greens.

The year for the Labor Premier can be divided into two distinct periods separated by the September federal election.

As one of only two Labor leaders left in the country, Ms Giddings appears to have relished the chance to take on the new federal Coalition government in the past few months.

She believes Tasmanians are tuning back in to her message and she's got the conservative Prime Minister to thank for that.

``I think Tony Abbott is making people begin to listen again. While they may well have started to switch off to some degree, I believe Tasmanians are starting to wake up again.''

Labor's fortunes in the polls have slumped to the equal lowest level in this term of government as unemployment peaked at a decade-high   8.5 per cent in August and September. 

``It has been a challenging year,'' Ms Giddings said.

``Life is never easy; government is never simple, no matter what the Liberal Party and Will Hodgman say.''

Securing the passage of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement through Parliament was one of the many challenges.

She believes it's working, but it's only the start.

``It is a process that continues. It's not a job that's done.''

As March fast approaches, it must have been tempting for Ms Giddings to delay the election to give voters more of a taste of life under a Liberal government. 

``Will Hodgman is proving himself to be a clone of Tony Abbott,'' she said.

``In many respects you may as well call him Dolly the Sheep. He will promise everything that he thinks Tasmanians want to hear in the lead-up to the election, and then he'll do a Tony Abbott after the election and find every possible excuse to get out of them.''

Ms Giddings paints an enticing picture of a prosperous future for Tasmania that is only just beginning to be realised thanks to major investment such as the irrigation schemes. ``The Tasmanian economy is on the road to strengthening, and the jobs are coming back,'' she said.

After 15 years of Labor in power, voters don't appear to have the patience to stay on the same road for another four if the poor polling is anything to go by.

But that hasn't prompted Ms Giddings to start thinking about life after politics just yet. ``I'm thinking about the election, I'm thinking about the future, I'm thinking about Tasmania and what contribution I can provide to this state.''

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