Tasmanian Labor Senator Helen Polley on Wednesday morning donned a sombrero in the chamber during a speech on the federal election result in the state.
The stunt was a reference to the self-proclaimed Three Amigos –former Tasmanian Liberal MHRS Eric Hutchinson, Andrew Nikolic and Brett Whiteley – who were ousted from their seats last month.
The party’s biggest swing was in Bass, which was won by Ross Hart with a 10.1 per cent swing.
The Liberal Party has blamed fierce campaigning by activist group Get Up!, particularly against incumbent Mr Nikolic on health issues, for the poor result.
Senator Helen Polley said not all credit for the defeat should go to the organisation, saying that the party was not listening to the Bass, Lyons and Braddon electorates.
“The reason Labor won four House of Representative seats and five Senate seats is because Labor had a comprehensive plan for the economy through job creating initiatives,” she said.
“Tasmania’s economic future is dependent on investing in our people, our institutions and the private sector to grow our economy and ensure everyone in our community is provided with opportunities to better their social and economic outcomes,” Senator Polley said.
She urged the returned government to deliver on their election commitments in an appropriate time, including the $150 million redevelopment of university campuses in Launceston and Burnie.
“Supporting higher education to grow will not only encourage greater take up of degrees, the construction phases of these relocations will create local jobs for local people and support small business,” Senator Polley said.
“It is estimated that the expansion of the University of Tasmania precincts will generate $1 billion in economic activity over the next decade, which is why it is so important that the funding promised to the University of Tasmania is delivered.”
Senator Helen Polley concluded the speech by putting on a sombrero, stating “Adios Amigos”.
Tasmanian Liberal Senators Eric Abetz, David Bushby, Jonathon Duniam and Stephen Parry on Wednesday met with Education Minister Simon Birmingham to discuss the $150 million commitment.
“We are continuing to work with the minister to implement our commitments in the education portfolio and we are pleased that all of our commitments are on-track,” Senator Abetz said.
Senator Bushby said the UTAS campus relocation programme would attract 12,000 new students over the next decade and boost the state’s reputation as an international education destination.