High-profile candidates jostle for Tasmanian election seats

Labor's Rebecca White and Liberal Premier Jeremy Rockliff are vying to lead Tasmania.

Labor's Rebecca White and Liberal Premier Jeremy Rockliff are vying to lead Tasmania. Photo: AAP

Tasmania’s major parties are hoping high profile and familiar faces will help propel them to electoral success.

Currently sitting in the upper house, former minister Jane Howlett is hoping she can help push the Liberals into majority government by joining the state’s expanded lower house.

Howlett was a former sports and recreation and small business minister in the Gutwein government but relinquished her portfolios after the death of her brother in 2022.

She remained in parliament.

On the second anniversary of her brother’s death, Howlett announced her intention for Liberal preselection in the lower house seat of Lyons.

“Tasmanians want to see a majority government re-elected and that is why I made this decision,” she said on Saturday.

During her time as sports minister, Howlett was accused of a conflict of interest over funding to the Tasmania JackJumpers basketball team, while allegedly having a relationship with its boss Simon Brookhouse.

Both denied any impropriety.

Howlett and Premier Jeremy Rockliff both said they were “looking towards the future” despite the integrity commission still investigating the allegation.

Labor leader Rebecca White questioned whether the Liberals’ candidate met the integrity and standards voters expect after the announcement.

“What we see from the Liberal Party is them recycling candidates over and over again, they’re obviously struggling to get candidates to stand on their ticket,” White said on Saturday.

But Labor’s education spokesman Josh Willie is attempting the same feat, running in the electorate of Clark from the upper house.

Another familiar face, former party leader Bryan Green, is also mounting a return to parliament, running for the upper house seat of Prosser in May.

Meanwhile, Labor is adding some star power to the party’s ticket with Tasmania’s 2023 Australian of the Year John Kamara hoping to pick up a seat in Clark.

Kamara escaped war-torn Sierra Leone in 2004 and co-founded the Culturally Diverse Alliance of Tasmania, and African Communities Council of Tasmania which supports education and social cohesion between African Australians and the wider community.

“He’s an excellent individual, strong humanitarian and Tasmanian Australian of the Year,” White said.

The debate around Tasmania’s Macquarie Point stadium continued on Saturday with the Liberal sports minister Nic Street defending the project which is a condition for a Tasmanian AFL team.

Liberal leader Jeremy Rockliff on Friday promised to cap the state’s stadium expenditure at $375 million, alongside $240 million from the Commonwealth, $15 million from the AFL and the rest from borrowings and the private sector.

Street said the government was highly confident private investment will bridge the gap for any cost blowouts to the project after hearing from significant private interest.

Tasmanians are heading to an early poll on March 23 after the former government failed to resolve a stand-off with two crossbench independents who had propped up the government.

The Liberals start the campaign with 11 incumbent MPs, while Labor has eight, the Greens two, and four independents, as the parliament expands from 25 seats to 35.


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