Cliffhanger in South Australia but Labor rout in Tasmania

SA Premier Jay Weatherill has had a better than expected vote. AAP/David Mariuz

The result of the South Australian election remains in the balance, while Tasmanians have voted overwhelmingly to throw out Lara Giddings’ Labor government and also delivered a hefty slap to the Greens.

After weeks of speculation about the nation being set this weekend to be painted conservative blue except for the ACT, South Australia, where the ALP has been in power for 12 years, might see either a Liberal or Labor government. There could be a hung parliament, with who governs determined by two independents.

Premier Jay Weatherill and opposition leader Steve Marshall agreed it was too early to call the outcome, with both acknowledging their fate might be in the hands of the crossbenchers.

Weatherill told his party faithful: “We are hopeful of retaining government. We may need to do this with the support of some independents”. Labor would be talking to them in coming days, he said.

Marshall said: “We are still in the hunt to form government”. He made an explicit public pitch to the crossbenchers, including on infrastructure, which independent Geoff Brock earlier in the night had stressed was vital for his electorate.

Brock revealed on television that he had a missed call on his phone from the premier – he had not yet had time to return it.

Marshall said it was disappointing that “we are not in a position to form government tonight” despite the Liberal primary and two- party votes increasing.

The Liberals are on 52.5% of the two-party vote, but Labor has once again, as in the last election, sandbagged crucial marginal seats.

The ABC’s election computer predicted 23 seats for Labor, 22 for the Liberals, and two independents in the 47 member house. There are many prepoll and postal votes still to be counted.

The Liberals needed a net six extra seats to form a majority government. Labor, which improved its position late in the campaign, strongly targeted the Abbott government in its electioneering.

In Tasmania, where the ALP has been in power for 16 years, Labor’s vote plummeted by nearly 10% to about 27%. The Greens fell by about 8%.

The Liberals are expected to have 14 seats in the 25 member lower house. ABC analyst Antony Green said Labor had won six seats and the Greens two with three seats undecided.

Clive Palmer’s PUP did poorly with only about 5% of the vote, failing to win a seat. At various times Palmer had predicted PUP would hold the balance of power.

Premier-elect Will Hodgman said Tasmanians had voted for change and that would be delivered: he re-pledged that the potential of state’s forestry industry would be unlocked.

Greens leader Nick McKim conceded there had been a “significant swing” against the Greens - who had five seats in the old parliament - and “as leader I take all responsibility for that”; he promised to listen and learn. The Tasmanian result follows a drop in the Greens federal vote at the last election.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has looked to the prospect of all-conservative state governments to give him a good start on an agenda of reforming federal-state relations.