The Liberal Party looks set to govern in minority in Tasmania after the distribution of preferences.
The Liberals’ Elise Archer has beaten the independent candidate Andrew Wilkie by 315 votes to take the fifth and final seat in the Hobart-based electorate of Denison.
Labor’s caretaker Premier David Bartlett has said the party with the most seats should govern in minority or the most votes, if the seats are tied.
Either way, that is now the Liberals who have equalled Labor on 10 seats and could pick up an 11th seat against the Greens in Braddon, today or tomorrow.
In a statement Liberal leader Will Hodgman says he now expects to be given the opportunity to govern.
He has asked the Premier to visit the Governor and step aside, as soon as possible.
A spokesman for the Premier says Mr Bartlett will wait until all votes are counted and every seat decided before commenting.
He says Mr Bartlett will honour his promise and recommend the Governor ask the party with the most seats, or most votes, to form government.
Ms Archer says she is elated by her victory.
“[The] focus on first of all [is] meeting with my elected colleagues in the Liberal Party and setting upon the task of hopefully holding David Bartlett to his word so that we can form minority government,” she said.
Independent candidate Andrew Wilkie has congratulated Elise Archer on her win.
Mr Wilkie says missing out by only about 300 votes sends a strong message that Tasmanians are unhappy with the major parties.
“I think they are genuinely interested in independents making it through to the parliament and I think it also contains a very strong message about the widespread concern in the the community about what was my flagship issue, poker machines in Tasmania,” he said.
Mr Bartlett, the Greens’ Cassy O’Connor, the Liberals’ Matthew Groom and Labor’s Scott Bacon have been officially elected.
In the north-west electorate of Braddon Greens candidate Paul O’Halloran is ahead of Liberal Health spokesman Brett Whiteley.
The Liberals’ Mark Shelton has claimed his party’s second seat in Lyons, after rival Jane Howlett was excluded last night.
The Mayor of Meander says he is delighted to make the jump to state politics at his first attempt.
Cr Shelton has offered himself as a minister in a possible Liberal minority government but says that will be a decision for Mr Hodgman.
“There are other people there with experience in different areas, so I’d volunteer myself forward but quite willing to take the time and learn the ropes to become the best representative I can.”
Ms Howlett’s preferences will now go a long way towards deciding the battle for Labor’s second seat in Lyons.
Labor staffer Rebecca White has crept ahead of veteran minister David Llewellyn.
Ms White’s campaign in Lyons raised eyebrows when she subtly lampooned Labor veterans Michael Polley and Mr Llewellyn in her advertising.
She has trailed Mr Llewellyn for most of the vote count but overtook him by 76 votes late yesterday, after getting a good preference flow from excluded Labor candidate, Heather Butler.
By the close of counting, a handful of Liberal preferences had extended that lead to 102.
Former Liberal leader Rene Hidding comfortably held his seat along with the Greens’ Tim Morris.
School principal, Brian Wightman, has edged closer to winning Labor’s second seat in Bass but thousands of preferences are yet to be counted.
Mr Wightman leads Scott McLean, from the Forestry union, by almost 300 votes.
Former Beaconsfield miner, Brant Webb, looks set to be excluded with about 3,500 Labor votes, and his preferences will play a key role in the battle between Mr Wightman and Mr McLean.
Both major parties have retained two seats in the north-east electorate, with the Greens’ Kim Booth also re-elected.