Labor claims victory in two Australian state elections

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

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The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has claimed victory in the two Australian state elections held in Tasmania and South Australia on Saturday. South Australia will have a majority government, after being governed with a minority government made up of a combination of ALP and other parliamentary members.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, Labor has been returned to its third consecutive term in government. The party has won 14 seats while the Liberals have won seven, the Greens two. At the close of counting on Saturday night, only two seats remained in doubt.

At his victory speech, Labor leader and premier Paul Lennon said that during the past two terms, Labor has made Tasmania strong.

"We've made the economy strong again," he said.

"We've taken Tasmania from the bottom to the top of the economic pile."

"Now we're rebuilding health, rebuilding education, we're making Tasmania a much better place to live."

"Over the next four years we'll be economically progressive, socially progressive ... and we're going to speak out for children."

Mr Lennon also said that the government can still do a lot for Tasmania.

"We can still have a better Tasmania than the one we've got today," Mr Lennon said.

"I want us to lead the nation economically, I want us to lead the nation socially, I want us to lead the nation with Aboriginal reconciliation."

Conceding defeat, Rene Hidding, leader of the opposition and Liberal Party in Tasmania said that it the result was not unexpected.

"After the disaster of 2002, it was universally accepted that we would need at least two elections to be in a position to win government," he said.

Mr Hidding said that it will be good for Mr Lennon and the state to have a majority government.

"It is good for [Labor leader] Paul Lennon and Tasmania that he will become the premier elected by the people, as opposed to the situation he was forced into," he said.

South Australia

In South Australia, the Mike Rann Labor government was returned to power and will be able to form a majority government. Political observers predict that when counting is completed, the Rann government will have 30 seats in the 47 seat lower house. When brought to power in 2002, the Rann government had to form a minority government with the assistance of an independent member as it did not command a majority in the lower house.

At his victory speech, Mr Rann said that his government will work for all South Australians.

"We made a fundamental promise that we would govern South Australia as if we had a majority of 10 and govern for all South Australians," he said.

"We stuck to that pledge and we will continue to stick to that pledge."

He also promised that independent member Rory McEwan, who gave his support to allow Labor to form its previous miniority government, and Karlene Maywald, a representatice of the nationals, will retain ministerial positions within his government.

"They have made us a better government by bringing the regions and the country to Cabinet," Mr Rann said.

Rob Kerin, leader of the South Australian Liberal Party and opposition leader, has conceded defeat and said it's clear that the South Australian people want Labor to govern them.

"It's up to them who they have govern them, and they've made it clear on this case that they want to have Labor for the next four years, so we respect that decision," he said.

The Liberals are expected to hold 13 seats in the lower house.

It is expected that Mr Kerin will resign as party leader in the next few days.

Sources

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