Tasmanian Election: Opposition Leader Apologises for not Congratulating Will Hodgman

Opposition leader Bec White speaking on the day after the election

Tasmania’s Labor Leader Rebecca White has apologised for not congratulating re-elected Premier Will Hodgman in her concession speech, saying it was an “oversight”.

The leader also admitted she has already had leadership discussions with incoming Labor MP David O’Byrne, who had given an undertaking that he would not be a challenger.

Ms White used her speech in the tally room to talk up Labor’s performance, claiming a statewide swing to the party and increased support.

But notably absent was an acknowledgement of her opponent Will Hodgman, who became the second ever Liberal leader to win consecutive majority government.

Traditionally, the leaders congratulate or pay commiserations to each other during their speeches on election night.

Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor took time in her speech to wish Mr Hodgman well, as did Mr Hodgman to his two parliamentary foes.

“I was a bit caught up in the moment, and I have obviously called Will Hodgman and I have congratulated him,” Ms White said.

“It was an oversight not to do that last night, and I’ve apologised to him about that because it certainly was never my intention not to do that.”

Ms White said she would be staying on as leader, and Mr O’Byrne had given her an undertaking he would not challenge the position.

Asked when the discussion took place, she said “last night”.

Mr O’Byrne said he congratulated Ms White and told her she had his “full support”.

“I told her she’s done a magnificent job and she’s got my support and she will be the leader of the Labor Party,” he said.

Returning Franklin Labor MP David O'Byrne getting out of his car.

“I just absolutely confirmed to her that she did a fantastic job.

“There’s not really more I can say about that other than she is the leader of the Labor Party and she will remain the leader of the Labor Party.”

The Liberals have secured at least 13 seats, enough to govern in their own right.

No change on pokies

Ms White said Labor’s view would not change on pokies, despite some of her candidates last night suggesting voters thought the policy went too far.

The Liberal’s policy to keep them in venues until 2043 will have to pass Parliament.

“The Tasmanian Parliament will be the ones who decide whether poker machines belong in pubs and clubs or whether they should be restricted to casinos,” Ms White said.

“I don’t think it will be an easy path.

“The evidence is clear and I don’t think the evidence has changed.”

The leader said the party’s loss was partly to blame by a multi-million-dollar campaign against it by the gaming industry.

“There has been an enormous amount of money flow into this stage from vested interests that didn’t want the Labor Party to win,” she said.

Ms White was the only leader to speak on Sunday.

Liberal campaign spending defended

Liberal adviser Ian Hanke defended the spending, and said Labor lost because there was no appetite for change in Tasmania due to improved economic circumstances.

He said he did not know how much the Liberal party spent on the campaign but believed the amount had been exaggerated by Opposition parties.

“We did get donations and the reason we got donations is that no one wanted a return to a Labor minority government with the Greens,” Mr Hanke said.

“That was the only alternative and that’s why the money flew to the Liberal party and we spent that money to ensure Tasmania got the government that it deserved,” he said.

“That’s why we had a little bit more money to spend than normal, and as to the gaming issue I think Labor and the Greens are screaming a bit too much.

“I mean, if you threaten to close down an industry, that industry is going to spend money to protect itself and to protect the jobs of its employees and that’s what happened.”