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Mercury HERE

TASMANIANS tomorrow have the opportunity to remodel the political landscape. The big question facing them as they enter the polling booths is not just the shape of the House of Assembly but the quality of those to whom they will entrust the future direction of this state for the next four years.

The heart of the matter is simple: we are not electing a government, we are electing the lower house of parliament, the House of Assembly, where the government will be formed. It will reflect the voice of the people.

If, when the fair and elegant Hare-Clark system has delivered the final verdict, there is no clear majority for any one party, then so be it.

It will be then up to the 25 elected members—there by virtue of the people’s will—to decide who will govern. They shouldn’t tarry.

This is a watershed in Tasmanian politics. There is an unprecedented opportunity to remodel the way we go about governing this state.

There is an opportunity to break away from the tired and tiresome model of conflict and division and petty politics, so much of which has been on display in the past five weeks of the official campaign. If four former premiers of two distinct political stripes can agree on plugging the case for majority government, then it’s hardly an impossibility for the next generation to have a go at a little compromise as well.

Much is made by the critics of the Labor and Liberal parties that they are really just two different models of the same beast. It’s often argued that there is very little that divides them and that their public bluster and their attacks on each other are just a confection.

The fact is that they have been a product of the temper of the times—for a very long time. They reflect the Tasmanian mood. Like the climate, we are cool and temperate in our politics. There is more than unites than divides us. We get on. For every forest conflict there are many more matters on which we agree. There has been too little acknowledgment of that fact.

And lest one thinks that the Greens are significantly different, think again. Under the guidance of Nick McKim, the Greens have moved to the centre because that persuasive cool, temperate climate dictates it. And why not. That’s where Tasmanians want them to be, that’s where they can grow. Green policies, despite the Labor Party’s worst endeavours, no longer scare the horses—and that’s sensible politics in Tasmania.

When one examines the candidates, the sitting members of the House of Assembly and those, even in their own party, who would want to unseat them, there are people of intelligence, capacity and a commitment to making a difference across the political spectrum. Cover up the labels and you would be hard-pressed to discover their political allegiance. What you would recognise in most, however, is a passion to make this wonderful corner of the world an even better place.

Our House needs a good hoovering. Retirements have opened up the door to new talent but there is still more opportunity for Tasmanians to really make a difference by casting out the also-rans and installing some bright, new representatives. The Hare-Clark system is a wonderful weathervane for measuring the political climate and pointing the way—and it will do so again tomorrow.

Tasmanians have always had a hankering to vote for the individual first and there is no better time than this election to ram home the fact that new members would bring with them a new way of thinking about how this state is governed. Just look for some intellect, some courage and some capacity to embrace compromise and to bring some new thinking to the parties. Take advantage of that wonderful aspect of Hare-Clark and vote across the ticket, rewarding talent ahead of party allegiance.

Unless there is a late rush to the Labor or the Liberals, Tasmanians face a House with no clear winner—simply because voters will be sending a strong signal that they want a new way.

That’s when the mettle of all 25 members will be tested. There will be no greater test than that facing the party leaders as they work with what the Tasmanian people have delivered through the ballot box. On that count, Labor and Liberal have some work to do and the Greens will have to prove they can match their responsibility to their rhetoric.

If we elect people of quality we will have a much greater chance of a House that will deliver government that will respond to the needs of Tasmanians.

Examiner HERE

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