GIVEN the mechanics of newspaper deadlines my column has had to go to print before Saturday night's election outcome, but it doesn't stop me making some observations.
If Peter Gutwein is on track for majority government his gamble of a premature poll will have paid off and he will be the poster boy for Liberals across Australia.
Under these circumstances Bec White will stand down rather than be torn down, because Labor's war within itself during the early stages of the campaign shows that having lost two elections, she is no poster girl.
If he keeps his seat, David O'Byrne will stride comfortably into the Labor leadership. Game over.
If by a remote chance O'Byrne loses his seat, Labor is in all sorts of trouble and may be stuck with Bec White in the medium term.
Electoral, poll-defying upsets like Scomo's miracle 2019 election, have rendered me a little gun shy, meaning nothing would surprise me, like a shock Liberal government loss.
If Gutwein has lost to Labor, just saying, the Liberal Party will rip him to shreds, having gambled on an opportunistic election almost a year early.
The bar is set incredibly high for this Premier, who hadn't led the Liberals to an election until Saturday night, and even if his party has the most seats but short of a majority he is in all sorts of bother.
The Governor will expect him to test his support on the floor of Parliament. Ever since the Whitlam government dismissal in 1975, Governors and Governors General will always let Parliament sort out the mess of an inconclusive election.
So, even if he sticks to his no deals mantra, Gutwein's lame duck government will be at the whim of independents, or God forbid, the Greens. His future as leader will swing like a beef carcass in a warm autumn breeze.
Really, if both he and Bec White have failed to win a majority of seats they both ought to resign because they pledged no deals and would not form a minority government.
Both Liberal Premier Ray Groom and Opposition Leader Michael Field resigned in 1996 after the election resulted in a hung Parliament. They kept their word and refused to lead a minority government, so there are precedents.
Of course, both Gutwein and White could conveniently dismiss their campaign pledges and snatch minority government if it's there for the taking.
But, they would be on borrowed time. They would begin their term as weak premiers, beholden to whoever held the balance of power. Compounding their woes, voters have little or no regard for liars.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning after the 1996 election where the Libs lost their majority, the press gallery chanted "We won! We won!" at the Telegraph Hotel on Hobart's waterfront, in recognition of a return to exciting politics after four years of majority government boredom.
The chanting grew louder with each emptied bottle of wine.
Give us a break. We had just plodded through four years of majority government, mostly boring, and five weeks of the usual scripted election campaign.
To appreciate my meaning, think of the past four years. Plodding politics, a bit of fire with rebel Liberal Sue Hickey but not a lot happening. For the past year the virus drove politics to a standstill.
The business community thanked God the pandemic forced the government to play straight and minimise errors, while the other two parties dared not wander outside the narrow corridor of dire, scary pandemic politics.
Indeed, the virus may well have nudged the Libs over the line and if so, they can thank their lucky stars.
If I have to criticise Labor's campaign it is simply they didn't follow David O'Byrne's lead and punish the Liberals over a pathetic infrastructure rollout.
Promises pledged at the 2018 election have either not finished or have barely started.
Promises like a Midland Highway dual carriageway, Bridgewater Bridge replacement, TT-Line, Hobart's Macquarie Point, a new ambulance headquarters for Burnie, underground bus mall for Hobart, second Tamar Bridge and new lane for Hobart's southern outlet, all shimmer on the horizon like mirages.
Okay, sometimes major projects take time, but infrastructure is supposed to be a major Liberal Party attribute.
All Labor needed to do was ridicule current Liberal promises as not worth the paper they were written on.
Labor and the Greens banged on about health and housing but it's a perennial issue and ambivalent voters will always nominate them in opinion surveys.
Labor could have wounded the government badly and discredited all its current promises. A concerted infrastructure attack could have made a world of difference to the result I am anticipating.
A great opportunity lost.
Still, if Labor remains in opposition they have another four long years to hone the message.
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