Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff introduces bill to restore Tasmania’s House of Commons to 35 seats

Tasmanian Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff says his government will introduce a bill to the state parliament to reduce the state’s House of Representatives to 35 seats by the end of this year.

If the legislation is passed, the size of the House in the 2025 state elections will increase.

There has long been an effort to increase the membership in Tasmania’s House of Representatives after it was reduced to 25 in the 1990s.

If the legislation is passed, the House size in the 2025 state election would increase.

Mr Rockliff made the announcement during Parliament’s debate on a petition tabled by the Greens calling for the numbers to be reinstated.

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

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

“We all say it in private, I know we do, and sometimes you have to have the courage to hold onto your beliefs and do the right thing.”

Move wins praise from Greens

The House of Representatives voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to reverse the 1998 decision to reduce the number of MPs in the chamber.

Woman in a green top speaking.
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 sign of great courage” and an indication that a prime minister was willing “to do the right thing”.

Ms O’Connor said the Greens would propose to keep Tasmania’s five electorate and elect seven representatives from each instead of five.

The state lower house was shrunk to 25 members in 1998 amid concerns that Tasmania was being over-governed and prone to hang 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 to support a recovery in the numbers ahead of the 2010 elections, but after winning government in 2014, the Liberals have said to this day that this was not a priority.

Treasury modeling provided to a parliamentary committee in 2019 suggested there would be an initial cost of $5.9 million to restore the figures, including adding an additional minister to the cabinet, and about $6.4 million a year. .

Analysis conducted by expert Kevin Bonham showed that in last year’s state elections, Tasmania would have elected 17 or 18 Liberal MPs, 12 Labor MPs, three Greens MPs and two or three Independents under a system of 35 seats.

Posted updated

Leave a Comment