Emphatic victory to Libs


LIBERAL leader Will Hodgman has led his party to an emphatic victory, ending Labor's 16-year reign in Tasmania.

The Liberals are set to win at least 14 seats to claim majority government.

"Tasmanians have voted for change and that's what they will get," Mr Hodgman told cheering supporters.

Last night brought an end to his term as the longest-serving opposition leader in the country.

"I know it has been a source of amusement for some but in my view it demonstrates that I am determined, that I will stay the course, I will never give up."

An 11.5 per cent swing towards the Liberals across the state made it a comfortable victory.

Braddon recorded the biggest boost in support for the Liberals and may deliver the party an unprecedented four out of five seats in the North-West electorate.

The final make-up of the Parliament is unlikely to be known for days, with five seats still undecided.

With more than three quarters of the vote counted last night, Labor was on track to retain just six seats with an outside chance of clinging to a seventh.

Former Attorney-General Brian Wightman and Brenton Best were casualties of the big swing against Labor, while David O'Byrne, touted as the party's future leader, is in a tough fight for his seat.

An 8 per cent swing against the Greens looks set to cost them at least two seats, reducing their numbers in Parliament to three.

Outgoing Premier Lara Giddings, who comfortably held her own seat in Franklin, conceded defeat at 9pm, paying tribute to the Labor premiers who preceded her.

"Tasmania is more inclusive, Tasmania is more progressive, more dynamic and more culturally confident than we were in 1998," Ms Giddings told Labor Party faithful.

Greens leader Nick McKim admitted that it had been a tough night for the party.

"We have been in tougher places before and we have come right back," he said.

Ms Giddings and Mr McKim used their speeches to urge Mr Hodgman not to tear up the Tasmanian Forests Agreement as he has pledged.

"Don't take us back to war. Protect our forests and protect our people and our economy from four years of bitter conflict," Mr McKim pleaded.

However, Mr Hodgman said he intended to deliver on his promises.

"That includes in our forestry industry, that includes unlocking the potential of our great state and supporting those regional towns in Tasmania that have voted resoundingly for a change because there is a better way," he said.

Palmer United Party failed to come close to claiming a seat, with its "candidate for premier" Kevin Morgan the best performer on 2085 first preferences in Braddon.


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