When The Examiner sat down to interview Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday evening, he wanted nothing more than to talk about Tasmania.
In fact, when questions strayed too far from the subject of our southern state, he was displeased.
On being asked if he had any plans for if he lost his job at the looming federal election, Mr Morrison bristled.
"Are we going to talk about Tasmania?" he asked. "Have we got another thing to go to?"
"I don't plan to [lose my job]. That's why I'm here."
The Prime Minister was in the north of the state to announce a number of policies for Tasmania ahead of the election campaign, including a $92 million health package.
After his interview with The Examiner, Mr Morrison stopped by Launceston watering hole Sporties.
Sporties licensee Nick Daking said the Prime Minister was only allowed to drink Boag's XXX.
There was a spare spot on the roster for the weekly pool tournament that night so a regular customer who goes by the name 'Johnsy' went to sign the Prime Minister up.
"I grabbed ['Johnsy'] and said, 'Mate, don't pants the PM in the pub," Mr Daking said. "Because if you do, I'm going to ban you and I'm pretty sure he'll ban you from every pub in Australia'."
'Johnsy', who Mr Daking said "towelled up" the Prime Minister when they faced off in a game, required the Mr Morrison to pay five dollars to enter the pool tournament.
"He shook my hand at the end of the game and went to walk away," 'Johnsy' said. "And I said, 'Hey, there's a rule here - the loser's got to set up [for the next game]'."
"So he set up."
'Tasmanian economy a really exciting story'
Tasmania's ascendant economic trajectory attracted high praise from Mr Morrison in his conversation with The Examiner.
"[Premier] Will [Hodgman] has got the state back in a position where it's got net positive population growth," he said. "We haven't seen that for a while in Tasmania."
"The Tasmanian economy is a really exciting story. I saw that unfold as Treasurer."
Mr Morrison said the benefits of a strong economy "had to reach everybody".
"That's always the task," he said.
The Prime Minister spoke at a post-budget breakfast in Launceston on Wednesday morning, making a re-election pitch to 150 community and business leaders.
"I can't recall a time, frankly, where there has been such an air of expectation about what is happening here in Launceston," he told the crowd.
'Mediscare' impact on state
In 2016, there was a 6.1 per cent swing towards Labor in Tasmania, with three first-term Liberal MPs - Andrew Nikolic in Bass, Eric Hutchinson in Lyons and Brett Whiteley in Braddon - failing to win reelection.
Mr Morrison laid the blame squarely at the feet of Labor's so-called Mediscare campaign, involving robocalls and texts being distributed to Australians which implied the Coalition had designs on privatising Medicare (which was always strenuously denied).
It's Mr Morrison's theory that Mediscare particularly alarmed Tasmanians, due to health arguably being the chief concern among the state's population.
"People ... were sold a pup on health by Bill Shorten [in 2016]," he said.
Northern candidates 'able to take message up'
Tasmania's Liberal candidates for the House of Representatives and the Senate are "a great crew", according to Mr Morrison.
The North will be the focus of the Liberals' efforts to gain territory in Tasmania - the electorates of Clark and Franklin in the South are strongholds for independent MHR Andrew Wilkie and Labor MHR Julie Collins, respectively.
The Liberal candidates in the northern electorates are George Town mayor Bridget Archer in Bass, Brighton councillor Jessica Whelan in Lyons and military veteran Gavin Pearce in Braddon.
"They've got a great mix of skills and talents and ... really strong appeal," Mr Morrison said. "They're able to take the message up."
"It's great to have two women running in those particular ... seats."
PM 'not a fan' of transgender reforms
Mr Morrison vented his frustrations on social media in November around the then prospective transgender law reforms in Tasmania, which are now set to be officially legislated.
He is unconvinced by the notion of removing gender from birth certificates.
"It's not something I'm a fan of," the Prime Minister said. "At the end of the day, it's part of the simple administrative process of defining people for the purpose of public administration."
But he conceded that "it's a decision for Tasmanians".
Abetz 'a great Liberal'
Mr Morrison was not reserved in doling out praise for Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, saying he'd been "working like a Trojan on the ground".
Senator Abetz's wife Michelle died of cancer in March.
"We really feel for Eric," Mr Morrison said. "We love Eric."
The Prime Minister described the hard-right senator, a staunch opponent of Mr Morrison's predecessor Mr Turnbull, as "a great Liberal".
Prior to the 2016 election, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck, then the federal Tourism Minister, was shunted to the fifth spot on the party's Senate ticket in the state, spelling his doom. Mr Colbeck, who has since been returned to the Senate and an outer ministry, has previously blamed Senator Abetz for orchestrating his downfall.
I'm a strong one for conventionPrime Minister Scott Morrison
Now, as the 2019 election approaches, Senator Colbeck will go into the contest with the top spot on Tasmania's Senate ticket.
"When you have a minister who's in the ranks, they traditionally lead the ticket," Mr Morrison said, denying intervening in the preselection process to protect Senator Colbeck.
When questioned why this tradition didn't apply when the senator was Tourism Minister under Mr Turnbull, the Prime Minister said "all I'm saying is the convention has been upheld".
"I'm a strong one for convention," he said with a smile.
Greater energy role for renewable state
In the joint state and federal government plan to make Tasmania the Battery of the Nation, the Prime Minister sees a huge opportunity.
He said he didn't agree with the idea that 7000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation in Australia needed to be retired in order for Marinus Link, the proposed second interconnector for the state, to be of positive worth. This point was put across in TasNetworks' initial feasibility report in February.
"I don't share that view. This is what I think will be worked up and worked through in the study," Mr Morrison said, referring to the coming feasibility study.
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