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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Tasmanian pokies ‘in hands of parliament’

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The future of pokies is in the hands of the Tasmanian Parliament’s left-leaning upper house after Liberal Premier Will Hodgman’s election triumph at the weekend.

Opposition Labor leader Rebecca White insists her party will not resile from an election vow to gradually phase out the machines from pubs and clubs despite Saturday’s loss.

“I know that the Labor Party’s position is not going to change on this,” Ms White said at New Norfolk on Sunday.

“The Liberal Party now have a very big job ahead of them to convince both the lower and the upper house that putting this deal out to all of the publicans as a direct licence model is in the best interests of the Tasmanian people.”

Labor campaigned on a pledge to restrict pokies to the state’s casinos, while the Liberals want them to remain in all venues until at least 2043.

Premier Will Hodgman lay low after his historic win, with celebrations tempered by the death of former cabinet colleague and childhood friend Vanessa Goodwin, aged 48, on polling day.

Mr Hodgman became just the second Liberal leader in Tasmania’s history to be re-elected with a majority.

The Liberal government has majority of at least 13 of 25 seats in the state’s lower house.

Labor has nine seats, the Greens one, with two undecided.

Ms White refused to concede Labor’s bold anti-pokies policy cost them the election.

“I know, and the Labor Party knows, that our decision to take this issue to this election was the right thing to do for the health of our communities,” she said.

There were no casualties among Tasmanian cabinet members, with high profile candidates including Treasurer Peter Gutwein, Health Minister Michael Ferguson and Justice Minister Elise Archer all comfortably re-elected.

Backbenchers Nic Street, Roger Jaensch and Joan Rylah are fighting to retain their seats as counting continues.

The Greens meanwhile face a nervous wait to see whether Rosalie Woodruff and Andrea Dawkins can join leader Cassy O’Connor in parliament.

Jacqui Lambie says her team of candidates will be “stronger and smarter” at the next election after failing to win a seat.

Ms White was lambasted for failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman during her concession speech but said she later called him to apologise.

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

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Mr Hodgman from Sydney.

“(It is) vitally important to continue the terrific momentum in Tasmania in terms of economic growth and opportunity there in that state that Will’s team has delivered,” he told reporters.

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