The form of the government of Tasmania is prescribed in its constitution, which dates from 1856, although it has been amended many times since then. Since 1901, Tasmania has been a state of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Australian Constitution regulates its relationship with the Commonwealth and prescribes which powers each level of government enjoys.
Tasmania is a State in the Australian federation. Its relationship with the Federal Government and Parliament are regulated by the Australian Constitution. Tasmania is represented in the Senate by 12 senators, on an equal basis with all other states.
In the House of Representatives, Tasmania is entitled to five seats, which is the minimum allocation for a state guaranteed by the Constitution, the number of House of Representatives seats for each state is otherwise decided on the basis of their relative populations, and Tasmania has never qualified for five seats on that basis alone. Tasmania’s House of Assembly and local government elections use a system of multi-seat proportional representation known as Hare-Clark.
At the 2002 state election, the Labor Party won 14 of the 25 House seats. The Liberal Party saw their percentage of the vote decrease dramatically, and their representation in the Parliament fell to seven seats. The Greens won four seats, with over 18% of the popular vote, the highest proportion of any Green party in any parliament in the world.
Composition of the Parliament of Tasmania
On 23 February 2004, the Premier Jim Bacon announced his retirement, after being diagnosed with lung cancer. In his last months he opened a vigorous anti-smoking campaign which included many restrictions of where individuals could smoke, such as pubs. He died four months later.
Bacon was succeeded by Paul Lennon, who, after leading the state for two years, went on to win the 2006 state election in his own right. Lennon resigned in 2008 and was succeeded by David Bartlett, who formed a coalition government with the Greens after the 2010 state election resulted in a hung parliament. Bartlett resigned as Premier in January 2011, and was replaced by Lara Giddings who became Tasmania’s first female Premier.
Tasmania has numerous relatively unspoiled, ecologically valuable regions. Proposals for local economic development have therefore been faced with strong requirements for environmental sensitivity, or outright opposition. In particular, proposals for hydroelectric power generation proved controversial in the late 20th century. In the 1970s, opposition to the construction of the Lake Pedder reservoir impoundment led to the formation of the world’s first green party, the United Tasmania Group.
In the early 1980s the state was again plunged into often bitter debate over the proposed Franklin River Dam. The anti-dam sentiment was shared by many Australians outside Tasmania and proved a factor in the election of the Hawke Labor government in 1983, which halted construction of the dam. Since the 1980s the environmental focus has shifted to old growth logging, which has proved a highly divisive issue. The Tasmania Together process recommended an end to clear felling in high conservation old growth forests by January 2003.
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