Premier Jeremy Rockliff to introduce bill to restore Tasmania’s Lower House to 35 seats

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff says his government will table a bill in State Parliament to restore the state’s House of Assembly to 35 seats before the end of this year. 

If the legislation passes, the size of the House would increase at the 2025 state election.

There has long been a push to increase the number of members in Tasmania’s House of Assembly after it was reduced to 25 in the 1990s. 

If the legislation passes, the size of the House would increase back at the 2025 state election. 

Mr Rockliff made the announcement during debate in parliament on a petition tabled by the Greens calling for the numbers to be restored. 

“I do believe it is time to outline our intention to take action for once and for all, it is too important an issue,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“Ultimately, government and all the work we do in this place is not about popularity. We all recognise the need for this to happen. 

“We all say it privately, I know we do, and sometimes you’ve got to have the courage of your convictions and do what’s right.” 

Move wins praise from Greens

The House of Assembly voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon in favour of reversing the 1998 decision to slash the number of MPs in the chamber.

Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor has praised Mr Rockliff for the move.(AAP: Rob Blakers)

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said Mr Rockliff’s announcement was “a mark of great courage” and an indication of a Premier prepared to “do the right thing”.

Ms O’Connor said the Greens would propose keeping Tasmania’s five electorates, and electing seven representatives from each instead of five. 

The state’s Lower House was shrunk to 25 members in 1998 amid concerns Tasmania was over-governed and prone to hung parliaments.

It was also seen as an attempt to reduce the influence of the Greens after they won the balance of power in 1996.

In 2010, the Liberals, Labor and the Greens signed a tripartite agreement in support of restoring the numbers in the lead-up to the 2010 election, but after winning government in 2014, the Liberals have — until today — said it was not a priority. 

Treasury modelling provided to a parliamentary committee in 2019 suggested there would be an initial cost of $5.9 million to restore the numbers including adding an additional minister to cabinet, and approximately $6.4 million each year ongoing.

Analysis conducted by expert Kevin Bonham showed Tasmania would have elected 17 or 18 Liberal MPs, 12 Labor MPs, three Greens MPs and two or three independents at last year’s state election under a 35-seat system.

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