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Hung parliament tipped as Tasmania goes to the polls

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Tasmanians are going to the polls today in an earlier election that will almost certainly result in a hung parliament and do little to end the instability that has marked previous sessions.

Australia’s only Liberal government is chasing a record fourth successive term, while Labor is aiming to return to power after 10 years in opposition.

Saturday’s election is being held more than a year early after the Liberals were unable to resolve a minority government stand-off with two crossbench independents.

Opinion polls point to a hung parliament, with the Liberals winning more seats than Labor but not the 18 of 35 required for majority.

“What the polls say is the Liberal Party is the only party within striking distance of majority government,” Premier Jeremy Rockliff said on Friday. “The people will have their say.”

Third time lucky?

Labor is led by Rebecca White, who is having a third tilt at becoming premier after briefly stepping down from the role after her 2021 defeat.

“After five weeks of campaigning, the focus of this election has narrowed to two things,” she said in a final pitch to voters.

“Which party will take urgent action on the cost of living and which party has the best plans for a better future for Tasmania?”

Mr Rockliff and Ms White have said they’re prepared to govern in minority but have ruled out doing deals or trading policy positions.

The pair have exchanged barbs over whether a new $715 million stadium in Hobart – a condition of Tasmania’s licence for an AFL club – is the right priority for the state.

Mr Rockliff, who signed the contract, backs the project but Ms White has described it as a bad deal and says she wants to renegotiate despite the AFL not wanting to budge.

The two leaders may have to contend with a crossbench featuring members of the Greens, Jacqui Lambie Network candidates and independents.

Long wait for results

Some polls suggest more than a third of voters will snub the two major parties.

Final results may not be known until the week of April 8 because of Easter public holidays, a record 167 candidates and an expanded parliament.

Tasmania’s lower house is being restored from 25 to 35 members, with each of the state’s five electorates to elect seven MPs.

More than 90,000 of Tasmania’s 408,000 registered voters have cast their ballot early.

Former Liberals John Tucker and Lara Alexander, whose decision to quit the party put the government in minority in May, are running as independents.

Other independent candidates include former Liberal speaker Sue Hickey, one-time Labor leader David O’Byrne and Kristie Johnston, the sole independent elected in 2021.

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