Speculation over early election in Tasmania

Speculation continues to grow over the date of the next state election, despite the government saying on Monday it “expect[ed] it” to be in March 2018, when it was originally due. 

Premier Will Hodgman previously said the government was still set on a March 2018 election date, seeing out its full four-year term.

On Monday, Acting Premier Jeremy Rockliff said “the next state election is due in March and that is when we expect it to be”. 

Mr Rockliff said the only party talking about an early election was Labor, Opposition Deputy Leader Michelle O’Byrne said “bring it on”. 

“If this government wants to go to the people, then we're ready to go to the people,” Ms O’Byrne said. 

Tasmanian analysts declined to hazard a guess at an election date, but leading political analyst Kevin Bonham said in the past, voters, both nationally and internationally, had shown they did not like very early elections. 

“[The government] has missed opportunities to rule it out, that suggests that they’re at least considering it,” Dr Bonham said.

“In federal Parliament you could go to a double dissolution and actually change the Senate … whereas in Tasmania, if you go to an early election seeking a new mandate but the Legislative Council keeps blocking you, there’s nothing you can do about it.

“I don’t think that voters see governments going a few months before their term ends as being a big deal.” 

Dr Bonham declined to make a prediction on whether the government would call an early election or whether it would be in March. 

Political analyst Richard Herr said that usually once an election gets to be a few months away, people assume governments are in election mode. 

“I would have thought that [British Prime Minister] Theresa May’s decisions so early was probably a warning to anyone who thought there was necessarily political advantage to going early,” Dr Herr said. 

“If you go early because your polls are dipping does that mean you think the polls are going to dip even more if you wait? 

“On the other hand, the practical reality is that if they feel positioned to be in a winning position now where they may not be in six months time, maybe the political risk in worth it.” 

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the only person who knew for sure when Tasmanians would vote was the Premier.