Voters have turned against the last two remaining Labor state governments but have left a hung Parliament in South Australia and a new Tasmanian premier.
Will Hodgman ended 16 years of Labor rule in Tasmania with a 12% swing that gave the Liberals 51% of the statewide vote and at least 14 seats in the 25-seat assembly.
The last vote count suggested the Liberals would win 14 or 15 seats, Labor six to eight and the Greens three to five, with final results unlikely to be known until the counting of final postal votes from March 25.
The Liberals and Labor held 10 seats in the previous Parliament with the Greens holding the balance of power with five.
Majority vote fails to cement power
In South Austrlia, two independent MPs look likely to hold the balance of power as the Liberals succumbed to a late swing to Labor over union fears penalty rates would come under attack.
The Liberals, led by Steven Marshall, ended 12 years of Labor rule and are hoping 260,000 pre-poll and postal votes could improve their position. But Mr Marshall has conceded his government could fall two seats short of a majority.
Labor’s 27% was its lowest statewide primary vote after a 9.6% swing against it. The Liberals recorded a 12% swing in their favour, though the unions are claiming the penalty rates issue kept this down.
On current projections, the Liberal Party is forecast to win four seats – three from Labor and the independent-held seat of Mount Gambier.
Labor is expected to hold on to 23 seats in the 47-seat House of Assembly, while the Liberals will increase their seat count to 22.
Both parties will then need to rely on the support of independent MPs Bob Such, a former Liberal minister, and Geoff Brock, who holds the regional seat of Frome, to form minority government.
About 500 votes separate the parties in four Labor-held marginal seats – Elder, Colton, Light and Mitchell. Despite failing to form majority government, the Liberals increased their primary vote to 44.3% — the highest since 2001 – and is on track to record a two-party preferred 52.5%.
It is the third time in four elections the Liberals have secured a majority of the two-party preferred vote but been unable to win a majority of seats.
Tasmania tackles debt, deficit
In Tasmania, Mr Hodgman has already taken steps to cut public servant numbers, reprioritise spending and merge departments to curb the state’s record budget deficit and mounting debt.
In his election-night victory speech, he promised to use majority government to restore Tasmania’s economy and credibility, after four years of Labor-Greens power-sharing.
“We are serious about making Tasmania a place that’s attractive for investment; we are serious about tackling the jobs crisis,” he said. “We want to get our unemployment rate down to at least the national average.”