Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals will remain in power in Tasmania after claiming victory in Saturday’s state election.
“Four years ago you voted for change; today you have voted for no change – to stick with the direction this state is heading and to take our state to the next level,” state Premier Will Hodgman, 48, told supporters, after his party won a second term by securing enough seats to claim majority government.
The win gives a fillip to Turnbull, looking for momentum after his policy agenda was sidelined amid an extramarital-affair scandal involving his deputy leader Barnaby Joyce, who resigned in February. While state elections are predominantly fought on local issues, the victory in Tasmania may encourage his federal government, which polls show is trailing Labor ahead of an election due by next year.
The victory also quashes a bid by Hodgman’s opponent, Labor leader Rebecca White, to remove slot machines from Tasmania’s pubs and clubs. White blamed the pro-Liberal advertising campaign funded by supporters of slot machines for her defeat in her concession speech.
Tasmania, the nation’s smallest state, is enjoying a comparatively rare period of economic resurgence, with unemployment falling and it’s now ranked top in regards to population growth. Hodgman campaigned heavily on his economic credentials, vowing to boost growth and employment, while White focused on improving health-care and education opportunities.
The win means the Liberals hold power in two of Australia’s eight states and territories, as well as federally. The next test for Turnbull comes on March 17, when South Australia holds its state election.
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