March 24th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Liberals' broad church survive schism?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

ENVIRONMENT Europe's freeze further proof of global warming!

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals' Tasmanian victory: the implications

OPINION The height of absurdity: education as business

ECONOMICS AND CHINA Eyes averted from the dragon in the marketplace

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM The state attacking the Church: lessons from history

FAMILY POLITICS A Trojan horse for monitoring children

NORTH AMERICA The cultural and political mosaic that is Canada

CINEMA Mary Magdalene on film: a new interpretation

MUSIC Audio-visual: or, how to watch your music

CINEMA The Adventures of Tintin: A light amid the bleakness

BOOK REVIEW Taking arms against the gender fluid fad

BOOK REVIEW Narrative history from a great writer



INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sexual exploitation at Oxfam symptom of culture of death

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Liberals' Tasmanian victory: the implications

by Wayne Williams

News Weekly, March 24, 2018

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 3, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office. Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier.

Will Hodgman

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. Its pokies policy also sparked a predictable response from the gaming industry and employer groups concerned about 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.”

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 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 also 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 veered 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.

A 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. 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 Tasmanian Labor premier, 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 Liberals have the opportunity in their 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. However, pumped hydro storage would take years to build.

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