|Election||Premier at election||Premier's party||Premier after election||Premier's party|
|TAS 20 March 2010||David John Bartlett||Australian Labor Party||David John Bartlett||Australian Labor Party|
Change of partisan support for premier: Beginning of Bartlett's second period in office: At the House of Assembly election held on 20 March 2010, Premier Bartlett's Australian Labor Party government lost its majority support, winning only 10 of the 25 seats in the Assembly. The Liberal Party also won 10 seats, with the remaining 5 seats held by the Tasmanian Greens. Comments made by both Labor and Liberal leaders during the election campaign had indicated that neither party would form a coalition with the Greens, and if the Labor and Liberal parties won the same number of seats, the party with the larger proportion of the primary vote should be invited by the Governor to form a minority government. The result of the election gave the Liberal Party 38.99 percent of the first preference vote to the Labor Party's 36.88 percent, a margin of over 2 percent to the Liberals.
After a meeting of the Labor caucus on 31 March, Premier Bartlett announced that, after the declaration of the polls on 7 April, he would be relinquishing his commission as Premier and would advise the Governor, Peter Underwood, to invite the Liberal Party leader, Will Hodgman, to form a government. But, after meetings with both party leaders and a public declaration by the leader of the Tasmanian Greens that they would support a Labor minority government, the Governor announced on 8 April that Bartlett had an obligation to remain as Premier and test his government's support in the Assembly.
After negotiations with the Tasmanian Greens, Bartlett announced on 19 April that an agreement had been reached for a coalition with the Tasmanian Greens under which the Greens would have one minister in the government and would provide the Secretary to Cabinet who, while not being a minister, would be a full member of cabinet and be able to participate in cabinet decisions. The new ministry -- including the Secretary to Cabinet and the Leader for the government in the Legislative Council -- was sworn in on 21 April 2010. Bartlett became Premier of a coalition Australian Labor Party and Tasmanian Greens government, the first such coalition agreement in Australia.
Coalition agreement: The formation of the coalition government was dependent upon an agreement set out in an exchange of letters between Premier Bartlett and the parliamentary leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Nick McKim (see 'Exchange of letter...', in 'Sources', below). The agreement specified that Greens members of the cabinet could absent themselves from cabinet deliberations of 'matters of significant concern' over which there was the likelihood of a major difference between the policy commitments of the Greens and the views of the remainder of the cabinet. Detailed procedures were set out to deal with this situation. The Tasmanian Greens in cabinet were bound to support the government in votes of confidence, and to use their best efforts to persuade other members of their party to do so.
For a detailed analysis of such conditional coalition agreements and minority government accords, see Gareth Griffith, Minority Governments in Australia 1989-2009: Accords Charters and Agreements, (Sydney: NSW Parliamentary Research Service, Background Paper 1/10, 2010, ISBN 9780731318605). on line at:
Change of party leader: Premier Bartlett resigned on 24 January 2011, stating that he wished to spend more time with his young children. Although political support for the Premier had declined, there had been no public discussion of a move to replace him as leader of the Labor Party; after a period as Attorney-General, he retired from the House of Assembly four months later in May 2011. The Labor Party caucus chose Lara Giddings to lead the party; she became Premier of an Australian Labor Party and Tasmanian Greens coalition government; for a summary of the context of this change of premier, see Megan Alessandrini, 'Tasmania', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Australian Political Chronicle, January-June 2011, 57 (4) December 2011: 651-655, at 651-652.
References: For Bartlett's periods in office, note that the Australian Journal of Politics and History has provided brief surveys of Tasmanian politics since 1956 in the 'Political Chronicle' section of the journal in issues of each annual volume. This publication can be viewed online through Wiley-Blackwell Journals at subscribing libraries.
Tasmanian government webpage 'Cabinet': http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/cabinet [accessed 23 April 2010]
Exchange of letters between Premier Bartlett and the parliamentary leader of the Tasmanian Greens:
http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/hot_topics/letters_regarding_new_ministry [accessed 23 April 2010]