Tasmania’s Premier is still refusing to be drawn on the date of this year’s state election, amid warnings from one analyst that a lengthy unofficial campaign is not likely to do the Liberals any favours.
The Hodgman Government started the new year where it ended it — on the campaign trail.
But Premier Will Hodgman is still refusing to nail down exactly when Tasmanians will head to the polls.
That is despite the Government unveiling a campaign truck in November.
There is speculation the election is likely to be held on March 3 or 17 as Easter falls on the last weekend of March this year.
“It’s going to be in March, I’ve been very clear about that,” Mr Hodgman told reporters on Tuesday.
Holding onto power is not going to be easy for the Liberals, with the pollsters tipping a minority government.
Political analyst Professor Richard Herr said history shows a long election campaign could be damaging.
“Most people feel like they’re in a semi-election mode already, so we’re looking at possibly three months of election and that’s a long time,” he said.
Mr Herr said although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former PM Bob Hawke had both won elections after long election campaigns, the wins came at a cost.
“All that did was ruin the Government’s lustre really, it took the shine off the Government,” Mr Herr said.
“The Government is the one that has to sell its track record, the Opposition only has to make itself a small target and say we are not the Government.”
Lame-duck government: Greens
With parliament not sitting again before March, the Greens say Tasmanians have been left with a lame-duck government.
“It doesn’t make any sense to the average person on the street,” she said.
“If it’s a campaign, make it a proper campaign election, call the election and lets get on with it.”
But with the Liberals and Labor neck and neck in the polls, an early election is unlikely.
“Does it [the Hodgman Government] think it has enough runs on the board and wants to benefit from those? Or does it have to let the Opposition hang out to dry?” Mr Herr said.
“Historical evidence suggests letting the Opposition hang out to dry hasn’t been very successful in the past.”
Mr Hodgman said the Government had announced 11 policies and accused Labor of being in a “policy-free zone”.
He said Tasmanians had a clear choice at the state election.
“We have achieved a lot, but we need to do more so that all Tasmanians can feel the benefit of a strong economy,” the Premier said.
Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne said Labor had released more than 100 policies, including a promise to remove poker machines from Tasmanian pubs and clubs by 2023.
“We’ll be announcing more policies in the coming weeks, there’ll be no confusion in people’s minds about what voting Labor means.”