Prolonged Tas election count comes down to a single seat

Independent candidate Craig Garland appears likely to seal the last seat in Tasmania's state election.

Independent candidate Craig Garland appears likely to seal the last seat in Tasmania's state election. Photo: Facebook

A fisherman with a distaste for major political parties and salmon farming is in a two-way battle with the Liberals for the final seat in Tasmania’s parliament.

The incumbent Liberals will have to cobble together a minority government with crossbench support after falling short of the 18 seats required for majority at the March 23 poll.

The party, which has been in power since 2014, has secured 14 of 35 seats in the lower house.

By Friday afternoon only one seat, in the north-west electorate of Braddon, remained undecided as the distribution of preferences continued.

Independent Craig Garland, a former fish and chip shop owner who has campaigned against industrial offshore aquaculture, or a Liberal candidate could win the seat.

Garland has previously described himself as an “anti-politician” and accused parties of hijacking democracy for their own survival.

He has run at several state elections and picked up more than 5 per cent of the first-preference vote.

If he is successful, it will leave the Liberals requiring the support of four crossbenchers to form minority government.

Election analyst Kevin Bonham said Garland appeared to be in the box seat and had overtaken others as counting progressed.

A third of Tasmanians snubbed the two major parties at the election, with the Liberals receiving 37 per cent of the primary vote and Labor 29.

Labor, which picked up just 10 seats, conceded that day after the election that it would be unable to form government.

The crossbench will include five Greens, three Jacqui Lambie Network members and independents David O’Byrne and Kristie Johnston.

Senator Jacqui Lambie, who hails from Tasmania’s north-west, has indicated her party is prepared to provide stability to the Liberals.

O’Byrne, a former Labor leader, and left-leaning Johnston also want to see “stability and certainty” in parliament.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff has reached out to the group, but said he didn’t want to compromise on policy positions or offer ministries.

The Liberals were in minority for the best part of a year before last month’s election after two MPs quit the party to sit as independents.

Labor’s Dean Winter has put his hand up to lead the party after Rebecca White quit the role following her third failed attempt at becoming premier.

Each of Tasmania’s five electorates will be represented by seven MPs under the Hare-Clark proportional voting system.

Tasmania’s lower house is increasing from 25 to 35 members, which has dropped the vote quota required for candidates to get elected.


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