Will Hodgman denies plan marks election launch

Premier Will Hodgman has denied a state election announcement is imminent, despite revealing he would release the plan for a re-elected Liberal government this week.

On Sunday Mr Hodgman revealed the government would, in the coming week, announce 43 ways in six priority areas to “improve the lives” of Tasmanians if it is re-elected to government.

When pressed on the timing of the announcement, Mr Hodgman denied it was the unofficial start of an election campaign.

“I will stress that the election is due, and it’s expected to be and it’s my plan to have it run in March of next year,” he said. 

“It’s important that Tasmanians also understand what the Liberal Party, if re-elected to govern the state, will do, and what our priorities are.”

Recent EMRS polling put Opposition Leader Rebecca White 11 points ahead of Mr Hodgman as preferred premier.

Mr Hodgman said Labor’s decision to change leaders had affected voters. 

“I acknowledge it would seem from public opinion polls that it’s been well received by Tasmanians,” Mr Hodgman said.

“This should not be a popularity contest, it should be about which party has the best plan for Tasmania.”

EMRS’ two-party preferred data showed the government at 37 per cent compared to Labor’s 34 per cent and the Greens’ 16 per cent. 

Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne said Mr Hodgman’s re-election announcement signalled an election was approaching.

 “I don’t think anyone thinks it’s anything other than a Premier who has been unsettled by recent polling and has suddenly recognised that the Tasmanian people are unhappy, disillusioned and in some cases very angry at the way that they have run the last three-and-a-half years,” she said.  “Good government is about planning for the future all of the time, not just when you think an election is coming."

Mr Hodgman said there was “still a lot more to do”. “It certainly not job done, it’s job just begun,” he added.