March 10th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Family home in cities soaring further out of reach

EDITORIAL Australia: sleepwalking towards the precipice

CANBERRA OBSERVED Population debate needs development debate

NATIONAL AFFAIRS We need a development bank and a higher population

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Russians were spoilers: U.S. election rap sheet

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bob Santamaria and free trade agreements

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions are far cry from protection of religious freedom

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China v Professor Brady: intimidation or coincidence?

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Defending biological man and woman from transgenderism

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Swing to minor parties expected in SA poll

ASIA Burma: ignored and misunderstood

HISTORY The improbability of progress

MUSIC Playing the pitch: being in tune is a sometime thing

CINEMA Wonder: Our deeds are our monuments

BOOK REVIEW Exploring our own recent archives

BOOK REVIEW Rising in a society fractured at heart

BOOK REVIEW A dubious thesis but deserves a read

NEWS Pat Byrne elected new NCC president

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals return for second term in Hobart

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Liberals return for second term in Hobart

by Wayne Williams

News Weekly, March 10, 2018

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 5, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office.

Will Hodgman

Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier.

Labor leader Rebecca White, in conceding defeat, lacked the customary grace in failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman on the Liberal victory.

Cassy O’Connor, leader of the Greens, also declined to offer congratulations. The following day, White apologised, saying it was an oversight on her part.

At the time of writing, the composition of the Legislative Assembly was Liberal 13 (previously 15), Labor 9 (6), Greens 1 (3), with the remaining two seats, one in Bass and the other in Franklin, still in doubt.

One electoral analyst has put Labor ahead of the Greens in Bass, and the Liberals ahead of the Greens in Franklin. If this eventuates, the Hodgman government will have 14 seats, a clear majority.

Labor’s strategy of campaigning on the single issue of banning poker machines was destined to fail. Banning pokies from pubs and clubs didn’t resonate with voters.

Labor’s pokies policy also sparked a predictable response from the gaming industry and employer groups concerned at the prospective job losses. The Liberal Party undoubtedly received considerable financial support from these groups.

Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino, part of the Federal Hotels Group, used its large main-road screen to say: “Labor and the Greens plan of banning all pokies is going a step too far.”

The Liberals outgunned Labor and the Greens in selling their election policies.

Historically Tasmania has been a Labor stronghold. But in the 2018 election, with over 90 per cent of the votes counted, the Liberals had 50 per cent of the vote, Labor polled 33 per cent and the Greens 10 per cent.

The Hodgman victory is only the second time the Liberals have won back-to-back government, the last being with Liberal Premier Robin Gray, who was premier of Tasmania from 1982 till 1989.

With the legacy of a $400 million debt left by the last Labor-Green minority government, voters did not want a return to the volatility of such a government, unable to balance the books, with a radical social agenda and with the prospect of a stagnating economy.

The Liberal Government had succeeded in balancing the books – paying off the $400 million debt left by the previous government.

The improvement in the Tasmanian economy and the job market undoubtedly assisted the Liberals.

A resilient housing market and even the sight of four cranes on building sites on Hobart’s skyline give the impression that the Tasmanian economy is on the move after many years of poor growth.

The plan to build the light rail project for Hobart’s northern suburbs and the proposal for the development of a ferry commuter service on the Derwent went down well with voters concerned with traffic congestion around peak hours.

The cable car project to the top of Mount Wellington is set to begin construction and should inject valuable tourist dollars into the state.

The social policies of Tasmanian Labor have taken a turn to the extreme left, mimicking what Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has inflicted on Victoria. The Tasmanian ALP vote of 33 per cent indicates its unpopularity with voters.

Motions passed at the ALP State Conference last July included the legalisation of euthanasia, the full implementation of the “Safe Schools” program with a new Equality Portfolio, a serious concern to public and private schools that do not wish to implement the “Safe Schools” program.

The ALP also has a policy that abortions will be provided in public hospitals, an ALP government will develop a charter of rights, will decriminalise all forms of sex work, and devote a cabinet ministry to LGBTI issues.

Conscience votes are denied to ALP members of parliament on these issues.

The Labor Member for Denison, Madeleine Ogilvie, great niece to an outstanding Labor Premier who came to power in 1934, was subjected to vicious attacks by the left, who have sought to destroy her for her stance in opposition to these policies.

For the election, the left-wing unions campaigned heavily in support of Ella Haddad, another Labor candidate for Denison, while Madeleine Ogilvie was left out in the cold.

The Greens suffered their largest loss of votes for nearly 20 years, with the campaign to extend World Heritage areas in the Tarkine failing to get traction.

Voters also remembered that Greens leader Cassy O’Connor and Lara Giddings, former Labor premier of Tasmania, co-authored the bill to legalise euthanasia in May 2017, the third time such a bill had been introduced in 10 years.

The attack on Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous by Greens federal candidate Martine Delaney under Tasmania’s anti-discrimination legislation won the Greens few friends.

The latest lunacy the Greens have proposed is changing the date of Australia Day, which most Tasmanians firmly oppose.

The State Liberal Government has the opportunity in its next term of government to cement in place new hydro developments, ensuring the state’s base-load power.

The hydro schemes built when Eric Reece was premier and Alan Knight, an outstanding engineer, was commissioner of the Hydro Electric Commission, gave Tasmania an abundance of hydroelectric dams with the cheapest power in Australia. Now, the reverse is the case.

Hydro Tasmania has put forward a proposal to connect existing dams by pipes and tunnels to facilitate pumped storage to provide 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts of power, far more than Tasmania needs for its own needs. However, pumped hydro storage would take years to build.

The export of power to the mainland states through several cable inter-connectors costing $2 billion would be a windfall for Tasmania, but constructing hydro pumped storage would be largely dependent on federal finance.

Any Tasmanian government would naturally love the money coming to its coffers from the export of power to the other states.

Despite the uncertainties, the return of the Hodgman Liberal Government will guarantee stable government in Tasmania for the next four years.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm