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Tasmania: ALP is expected to win 15 seats, the Liberal Party six and Greens five in Saturday's election.



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LINDA MOTTRAM: Blood on the floor and a lot of soul searching—that’s the fate of the Liberals in Tasmania after their devastating loss in the state’s weekend election which also elevated the Greens to the status of major political force. With 80 per cent of the vote counted, Labor is expected to win 15 seats; the Greens five after pundits thought that three was their best hope; and the Liberal Party only six seats after losing four. From Hobart, Nicole Johnston reports.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: The Tasmanian Labor government is now answerable to not only the Liberal Party but the Greens as well, and Premier, Jim Bacon, is looking forward to it.

 

JIM BACON: Oh, I think it will be a lot more fun.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: Jim Bacon says the government will recognise both the Liberal Party and Greens as equal in parliament, but Liberal Leader, Bob Cheek, claims it is difficult for two small opposition parties to be effective.

 

BOB CHEEK: What we virtually have now is no opposition in Tasmania, and I think that is a very dangerous situation. The people have spoken and I accept that, but I think now it is akin to almost a dictatorship.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: But Greens Leader, Peg Putt, says Bob Cheek is giving up.

 

PEG PUTT: It sounds like he’s thrown in the towel. I was able to be called the real opposition when I was one member of parliament. That’s just been multiplied to four. There’s certainly going to be real, gutsy opposition from the Greens in a constructive way.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: As the voting count continues, Bob Cheek is still fighting to retain his seat in parliament, and will consider his political future this week. He says federal help is needed to rebuild the Liberals.

 

BOB CHEEK: We now have to take heed of what the Tasmanian people have said and we’ve got to change the organisation. We’ve got to change the Liberal Party from the grassroots right up to the top.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: Throughout the election, both major parties deliberately buried the issue of logging old-growth forests, but despite the Greens increasing their support from 10 per cent at the last election to 18 per cent, Jim Bacon says the government won’t back down on its forest policy.

 

JIM BACON: I would hate too much commentary on this election to focus on a party that got 18 per cent of the vote when the Labor Party got in excess of 50 per cent of the vote, but the Labor vote around the state is saying, I think, that the government’s handling of issues—including forestry—is one that has the support of most Tasmanians.

 

NICOLE JOHNSTON: While Labor argues the Greens will be under pressure to shake off their reputation as a single-issue lobby group, Greens Leader, Peg Putt, says Jim Bacon must now accept many Tasmanians want to stop old-growth logging.

 

PEG PUTT: You cannot ignore the issue of the forests. It is on everybody’s lips and they are wanting a change; they want the end to clear-felling and burning and it doesn’t stop at this election.

 

LINDA MOTTRAM: Peg Putt, the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens. Nicole Johnston with that report from Hobart.