With the worst of COVID hopefully behind Tasmania, the public now has the opportunity to shape its future.
On one hand, Premier Peter Gutwein pointed to his government's record in preventing a public health catastrophe in 2020 as proof that the Liberals could lead Tasmania out of the economic downturn the crisis left in its wake.
On the other hand, Labor leader Rebecca White described a Tasmania that was leaving too many people behind - whether it was those in housing stress, stuck in a struggling health system or in insecure work.
Mr Gutwein's opening message spoke of economic growth as a way of flowing through to improved services for Tasmanians.
"As a state, we're in a good place but there is still a way to go," he said.
"Our plan will keep people safe, it will continue the growth in our economy to generate the revenues that we need to invest more into health and education and other essential services, and it will ensure that Tasmanians will get the skills and training that they need to grasp the opportunities of those jobs."
Ms White's opening remarks described her love for Tasmania and her pride for the state, saying she valued a fair go for all.
She said that under the Liberal party, the health system had deteriorated and that issues surrounding unemployment and insecure work were the "all too grim normal".
"I know we can be better, I know this state can be fairer and I know we can do more to lift people up and diversify our economy," she said.
"We are the best party for government in this state if you listen to our policies."
Leaders' position on health
Mr Gutwein attempted to highlight how demand on emergency departments and hospitals generally had increased since they came to government, along with "more complex and challenging underlying conditions".
He also said the COVID emergency had caused the elective surgery waiting list to grow, but believed the government could ensure 22,000 more elective surgeries could be carried out over the next four years, which could in turn decrease pressure on EDs.
When questioned about the reality of expecting that level of increased elective surgery with their planned 10 additional doctors added to the health system, Mr Gutwein said those doctors could do two-to-three surgeries per day, or more, adding up to 7500 per year.
Mr Gutwein described the proposal for a co-located private hospital, which could be connected to the Launceston General Hospital via a footbridge, as a "game changer" for healthcare in the state's North.
After running through various dollar figures since coming to government, Mr Gutwein then turned his attention to preventative healthcare, or being in the community "providing the right care at the right time" to decrease pressure on hospitals.
According to Ms White, the state of the healthcare system was the number one issue being raised by constituents.
Labor's plan to reduce waiting times and ramping included a strong priority to employ permanent staff into current open positions, saying too many people are working casually or on fixed-term contracts.
Other key commitments from the party to reduce pressure on the health system included 24-7 staffing at all ambulance stations across the state, as well as a focus on increasing patient care at regional hospitals and community health centres.
"Our policies are already around providing more access to beds - we have 165,000 presentations to emergency departments each year, and 110,000 go home within a day," Ms White said.
"If we increase community services we reduce pressure."
Ms White said her party were supportive of a co-located private hospital, but said they would not commit to part funding the project, saying that they would work with them to ensure they had access to the necessary land required for the build.
"It is my understanding that they don't require funding, just access to land," she said.
Where they stand on mental health
Mr Gutwein acknowledged that more needed to be done for mental health services, particularly for the youth, citing the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service review which urged more funding.
In response to that report, the government added $41 million over four years for a "broadening of services".
He also trumpeted the government's work in adding more mental health support workers in schools, while engaging with youth services to identify where more needed to be done.
Ms White highlighted the need for early intervention when it came to mental health support, saying that half of all life-long mental health issues begin before a person turns 14. She said the party supported the implementation of the recommendations from the CAHMS review.
An elected Labor government would ensure mental health workers in all of the state's 195 public schools, at a cost of $40 million over the term of government.
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Ms White said the staff in schools were doing a great job, but were "under the pump", saying it was important to make sure young people in public schools have access to support when and where they need it.
Another promise from the party was permanent community social workers in regional health settings to provide support, as well as a funding commitment to SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY for their programs at schools and sporting clubs.
On state's housing affordability, rent
Ms White said her party didn't support rental caps, saying she thought it could lead towards distortion in the rental market.
Instead, her party believes in reducing land tax - saying that a reduction can reduce the burden for land owners renting their properties, which would lead towards lower rental prices for tenants.
"In our view, it's a sensible thing to save mum and dad investors save money, help shackies save money, and put downward pressure on rents," Ms White said.
Ms White reiterated Labor's policy to build an additional 3500 social housing properties over six years to help take pressure off the private rental market, as well as emergency housing initiatives - also highlighting the additional jobs the policy would create.
In answering a question about addressing housing affordability in Tasmania, Mr Gutwein read out Labor's land tax policy, attempting to pick holes in their figures.
He then promoted the Liberals' own land tax policy, before returning to the issue of housing affordability.
"In Tasmania at the moment, obviously we have a housing challenge. The situation of housing stress is something that is being felt by a number of people. The only way that you can get out of a ... significant demand issue is to increase supply," Mr Gutwein said.
He said 3500 dwelling approvals in Tasmania in the past 12 months was "a significant record", which could ultimately put downward pressure on rents.
Fixing labour shortages
Ms White said there weren't enough skilled opportunities for Tasmania, outlining a decline in apprentices coming through the training system, something the Liberal government had ignored for "far too long".
Their lack of action is why we have a problem.Opposition leader Rebecca White
To assist with labour shortages, Ms White highlighted the importance of investing in TasTAFE and the workforce, suggesting secondments for teachers into the workforce as one way of ensuring education was specific to current industry requirements, as well as certifications for industry professionals to come into TasTAFE and deliver training.
She committed to ensuring that on every government contract, at least 20 per cent of staff were apprentices.
The amount of building works in Tasmania with a workforce at full capacity was acknowledged as a "challenge" by Mr Gutwein, but he also said it was also a "fantastic opportunity".
The opportunity involved ensuring TasTAFE could be "nimble and fit for purpose", he said, but again rejected Labor's claim that he planned to privatise the institution.
"At the moment, TasTAFE has some of the lowest numbers of teaching hours, highest numbers of holidays, doesn't train on weekends and isn't meeting the needs of industry," Mr Gutwein said.
The Liberals have promised to hire 100 more teachers with "market salaries" while making TasTAFE a government business enterprise, and "there is more work to be done".
Disclosing party donations
Having delayed the introduction of political disclosure laws in Tasmania, Mr Gutwein said the Liberals commitment to listing party donors over $5000 on its website meant the election was "the most transparent that has been conducted in the lower house in Tasmania".
The Liberals have so far named one donor in a month.
Mr Gutwein then said disclosure legislation had challenges - although he again promised to introduce it.
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"In every other jurisdiction, public funding supports those new disclosure regimes - which means the public pays for the election campaign. In different locations, that level of disclosure is from $1000 up to $5000 per disclosure. The lower the disclosure level, the higher the level of public funding," he said.
Ms White committed to reform on political donation disclosure legislation within the first year of her party forming government.
She said the party complies with the law as it stands currently, but said that Labor introduced a bill into parliament last year because they were "frustrated that the government hadn't done anything".
The bill would ensure any donation over $1000 was disclosed, because according to Ms White, the people of Tasmania have a right to know - as well as a cap on what candidates and parties can spend on elections, making sure donations were disclosed in "real time".
"We will reform it in the first year, we won't wait until another election is called," Ms White said.
Labor has also only named one donor in a month.
Forced amalgamation off table
Mr Gutwein referred to the government's COVID recovery body's recommendations that stated any move to reduce the number of Tasmanian councils would need the support of both the upper and lower houses of Parliament, along with the Local Government Association of Tasmania.
Right now, as we rebuild from COVID, the last thing we want to see is a fight between any level of government.Premier Peter Gutwein
"To do it by forced amalgamation just simply doesn't work."
Mr Gutwein said councils provided strong local representation for Tasmanians, but they also needed to be sustainable.
Ms White said she agreed with Mr Gutwein's view, and that the Labor party does not support forced council amalgamations - saying that where resource sharing was possible it was sensible.
She said the last time amalgamation worked was 30 years ago under a Labor government, and was established through consultation with the local government sector, seen as what was in the best interests of the community.
Ms White highlighted the importance that there was no decline in services for rate payers.
"At the end of the day, what amalgamation doesn't equate to is rate cuts, that's not proven anywhere," she said.
"Our point of view is what is in the best interest for ratepayers and the services they expect local government to deliver".
Size of Parliament not a priority
The limited number of members of parliament in Tasmania has meant cabinet ministers have more portfolios than in other states, but neither party was willing to make any moves to increase the size of the Parliament.
Mr Gutwein said it just meant government ministers have to work harder, which he was fine with.
He said this kind of reform was not a priority, and the money that would be spent on adding more MPs would be better spent on government services.
Ms White said increasing the size of the lower house was not a priority for the Labor party.
"There are too many pressing priorities for our state right now than increasing the number of politicians," she said.
"That's where I think money should be spent to ensure we have a strong economy".
Will they step down if defeated
When asked if they would remain leader if defeated, Mr Gutwein said he would not, while Ms White said she was "not planning on losing".
"I'm not even contemplating that concept," she said.
Both party leaders said they would serve the full term if they win.
On Tasmania's hydrogen opportunities
Mr Gutwein said Tasmania had the largest funding support package of any state or territory to attract hydrogen.
He listed various private companies that were working with the government for green hydrogen production opportunities at Bell Bay.
Ms White said hydrogen was an exciting opportunity for Tasmania, and that the Labor party was supportive of initiatives being investigated at Bell Bay, saying there were opportunities there to be realised, and highlighted Burnie as another potential location.
Other environmentally friendly initiatives Ms White mentioned included changing the government vehicle fleet to electric, and exploring other fuel types for buses.
Issues with court's backlog
The backlog in Tasmania's criminal courts has continued to increase over recent years, creating delays for victims and others involved in the court process.
Mr Gutwein said the government had provided funding for an additional magistrate and was recruiting another judge, but it also came down to crime prevention measures.
"One of the best ways that we can ensure that people are in a position where crime is not an alternative that they go to as a first option is to ensure that we have a strong economy and we have jobs going forward," he said.
"It's not a panacea, but it's an important step."
Ms White said Labor were supportive of measures to increase the number of judges and magistrates, agreeing that the way to reduce the court backlog was to prevent crime.
She said access to justice was important, and that the Labor party were supportive of measures to increase the number of judges and magistrates.
Ms White said it was important to provide investment into key areas, including social housing, to ensure people have a roof over their heads.
"Poverty is one of the biggest drivers of crime," she said.
"Before COVID, one in four Tasmanians were living in poverty, which is outrageous and unacceptable"
New laws for non-fatal strangulation
Tasmania is the only state without non-fatal strangulation laws. Almost 21 months have passed since a Tasmanian coroner recommended investigating the impact of non-fatal strangulation in family violence relationships.
Mr Gutwein said he would introduce legislation to bring in these laws, based on advice from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.
Ms White said survivors of violence should be protected by law, saying it should be that way now, with her party committed to making it law.
"I can't understand why, given the evidence that is provided, it hasn't already happened," she said.
"The power we have as politicians is to legislate on the things that make us frustrated and angry."
Solution for Tamar River woes
The Liberals have chosen to dredge parts of the upper Tamar to improve access for recreational users, preempting a report from a body of experts commissioned by a council and government body.
Mr Gutwein said the state of the Tamar "saddens" him and that Launceston residents deserved to have access to it, hence why he continues to support dredging.
Labor's policy on the health of kanamaluka/ Tamar Estuary is to provide $4 million in funding in the first term of government to aid in improving the natural and aesthetic value of the estuary and improving recreational access for river users.
As for a "solution", Ms White said Labor was willing to match the Liberal party's $4 million towards dredging, but would wait for the TEMT report to be finalised.
"I understand a lot of work has gone into that, and the $4 million is conditional on that being the preferred option," she said.
"It's important to be guided by evidence".