The Liberal government of Tasmanian Premier Tony Rundle was defeated at the August 29 election by the ALP under the leadership of Jim Bacon.
Mr. Rundle, announced an early election on 13 July. The State’s voters went to the polls on Saturday 29 August, 18 months earlier than necessary. Mr. Rundle said he was tired of the frustration and difficulty of running a minority government. The Federal Opposition Leader, Mr. Kim Beazley, said that Rundle had committed political suicide, a prediction that turned out to be accurate.
In announcing the election, Mr. Rundle also announced that he was introducing a bill to reduce the size of the Legislative Assembly from 35 to 25 members. The plan was attacked by the Greens as a blatant attempt to destroy their representation in the Parliament. The legislation was subsequently passed by the ALP and the Liberals, and the Parliament was dissolved for the elections.
The major issue in the election was the Liberal government’s proposal to sell-off the State’s Hydro-Electric Corporation. Rundle claimed this was necessary in order to eliminate Tasmania’s debt and to bring the state into line with mainland states. The ALP and Greens opposed the plan. Prime Minister Howard offered $150 million to Tasmania on condition that the Hydro be sold.
The election saw the decimation of the Greens, who lost 3 of their 4 members, including their leader, Christine Milne.
The ALP won 3 out of 5 positions in 4 electorates and 2 in the fifth.
The youngest member of any Parliament in Australia is Matt Smith, aged 20, who won a seat for the Liberal Party in the electorate of Franklin.
|ALP Government, first elected 29 August 1998
Premier: Jim Bacon