Tas leaders pledge a majority government
Tasmania's major party leaders have both pledged they won't serve as premier in a minority government.
Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein and Labor leader Rebecca White went head-to-head in Hobart on Thursday in the first of three debates before the May 1 state election.
"Minority governments just don't work. The last minority government we had, we had to live in a recession and Tasmanians left the state in droves," Mr Gutwein said, referring to the Labor-Greens partnership that came to an end in 2014.
"It's only right that voters understand I won't be a premier in a minority government."
The Liberals, seeking a third consecutive term, called the snap poll last month after being plunged into minority when Speaker Sue Hickey quit the party to run as an independent.
Ms White also told the debate at Wrest Point Casino that she would not lead a government that doesn't have a majority.
She conceded Labor, which holds nine of 25 lower house seats and needs to make up ground, was the underdog.
"We need a government which is honest about the economic and social challenges Tasmania faces," she said.
"The public housing list has blown out, elective surgery wait times are growing. Every Tasmanian deserves a roof over their head and the foot in the door to get a decent job and access to health care."
Mr Gutwein, whose popularity rating has soared during COVID-19, lashed Labor for making spending promises he said would blow out the budget.
"Our economy is growing again and jobs are returning to pre-pandemic levels," he said.
"The Liberal government has a clear plan, a fully costed plan and a plan that is working."
A recently released Treasury pre-election financial outlook found Tasmania was recovering quicker than expected from the pandemic hit.
It estimated gross state product of 1.5 per cent in 2020/21, up from minus 1.5 per cent predicted in the budget.
However, it showed infrastructure investment this financial year is likely to be down from $1.07 billion to $694 million.
"The government makes big statements but hasn't delivered," Ms White told the debate.
Mr Gutwein revealed financial incentives could be considered for some of Tasmania's 29 councils to amalgamate.
He also said the government's state population target of 650,000 people by 2050 would be revisited as Tasmania comes out of the pandemic.
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