The four week campaign leading up to the Tasmanian election on Saturday
was an all out affair, with missiles lobbed in all directions. Many
polls predicted a cliff hanger, with minority Labor government the most
likely result.

Such was the build-up that media representatives from all major players
were in the tally room in Hobart and the ABC’s Antony Green and Maxine
McKew chose to be in Hobart, rather than in Adelaide for the SA
election. But the media contingent were in for a tame time: from very
early on it became clear that Labor would win a majority, with the
Greens suffering a drubbing.

It was quiet in the tally room until about 9.30pm, when it filled with
people arriving to hear victory/concession speeches by the three party
leaders. First was Liberal leader Rene Hidding, whereupon a phalanx
of Greens supporters raised Greens’ Triangles. Hidding made a
dignified speech and congratulated Lennon, but some of the Greens’
supporters started to heckle him.

Next, was Greens leader Peg Putt. Putt made a defiant speech,
proclaiming it to be the grubbiest of campaigns, and was all but
drowned out by people yelling abuse and booing loudly. Police officers
moved onto the floor and for an electric moment, it felt as there would
be a brawl at any minute.

Crikey was in the midst of it, and saw people booing, anger unleashed,
with a look of delirious joy on their faces. Crikey asked one
man, a member of the Australian Workers Union, if he was a union
official, only to be told: “It’s none of your business, madam”.

Crikey spied former (minority) Labor Premier Michael Field getting into
action in the crowd. Field was the Premier in the Labor-Green Accord of
1989-92. We rang him this morning and he said he’d said “a couple
of things” because Putt’s speech invited interjection, she had
misread the crowd.

“I spoke out,” Field told us. “It was an appalling speech. It wasn’t
defiant, it was bitter and vitriolic. Full of paranoia. Peg didn’t
accept any responsibility for the result. It disturbed me. You can say
I interjected, but the yelling was from two Braddon blokes behind me.”

Last was Paul Lennon, who arrived to thunderous applause. There was a
roar: “We want Paul, we want Paul.” Greens’ triangles were held aloft
behind him – for the benefit of the cameras – but it was Lennon’s
night and his supporters were wild with delight.

Peter Fray

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