Tasmania’s Premier has been labelled a “fraidy cat” by the leader of the Greens after he refused to face her in a pre-election political debate.
Tasmania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) wanted to include Greens leader Cassy O’Connor in this year’s scheduled event, but was told Premier Will Hodgman would not take part if she did.
The TCCI is standing firm and the debate has since been cancelled.
Ms O’Connor said it showed Mr Hodgman’s “cowardice”.
“I think Will Hodgman is a fraidy cat, he doesn’t want to debate the Greens,” she said.
“He knows if there was a strong Green voice on that stage it would expose his government’s failings and he doesn’t want Tasmanians to see that.”
Including Greens would ‘elevate them beyond their station’
Mr Hodgman did appear in a three-way debate in 2009 when he was Opposition Leader, facing Labor’s David Bartlett and the Green’s Nick McKim.
But if The Greens were to participate, why not also include representatives from Jacqui Lambie Network and the Shooters and Fishers party, he said.
“I think it’s important for Tasmanians to hear from those who would be premier of the next government,” he said.
“It is elevating The Greens and Cassy O’Connor beyond their station.”
Polling has consistently indicated that Tasmania is facing the prospect of another hung parliament, with The Greens potentially holding the balance of power.
Regardless, Mr Hodgman is standing firm.
“It begs the question why shouldn’t Jacqui Lambie have a representative there, the Shooters and Fisher or any other minor party” he said.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White said it was a confusing decision from Mr Hodgman.
“You’d think this would be his bread and butter, but he’s afraid to debate The Greens and afraid to debate Labor,” she said.
“I’ve said yes, I want to have the debate, it’s unfortunate that the Premier doesn’t want to.”
In a departure from Labor’s traditional position, Ms White agreed to let the Greens participate.
The two major party leaders will be given a chance to outline their visions in a forum-style event facilitated by the Tasmanian Council of Social Services on February 23.