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Countdown to Election 2016

The final countdown for the 2016 Federal election campaign is here – with many students facing a tough decision as they enter the polling booths on July 2nd.

Labor and the Liberals have both committed to funding $150 million for two new University of Tasmania (UTas) campuses in Launceston and Burnie, as they vie for votes in the contested Northern seats.

It is hoped that the developments will attract 12,000 students to UTas. The economic output during construction is predicted to be around $1.1 billion, with an ongoing impact of $428 million.

The campuses are expected to cost $300 million, as well as create 285 full-time jobs, 185 additional indirect jobs and 2660 construction jobs.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said “The immediate economic impact of this proposal will be significant and its lasting benefits will be profound.

“If we are to truly put education and innovation at the hearts of our economic future, we must put universities at the heart of our communities” he said.

The importance of voter preferences means that every vote will count this election; particularly in the Liberal heartland of Northern Tasmania, where most seats are held by slim margins.

Andrew Nikolic of Bass holds on by a four per cent margin, while a 2.6 per cent margin keeps Brett Whiteley slightly ahead in Braddon. Eric Hutchinson in Lyons is up against a tight margin of 1.2 per cent, making Northern Tasmania one of the most contentious areas in the country.

The Hobart seat of Denison is considered safe with a 15.5 per cent margin in favour of independent Andrew Wilkie. The Southern seat of Franklin has a 5.1 per cent margin in favour of Labor’s Julie Collins, who could either keep or leave her seat if a swing occurs.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal government have announced a $25 million Regional Tasmania Jobs package, $60 million of further funding into the Mobile Black Spots program, $7.5 million to renew Launceston’s city centre, and $4 million for a National Institute for Forest Innovation. This adds to continued increases of $62 million in Tasmanian school funding and $2 billion for Tasmanian hospitals.

Bill Shorten’s Labor opposition have pledged to save Medicare and family welfare, protect penalty rates and school funding, and guarantee that students will not pay $100,000 for higher education. In addition, Labor has pledged a further $44 million for Tasmanian tourism facilities, $600 million in infrastructure upgrades, the expansion of the National Broadband Network to the West Coast, and provide $60 million in Tasmanian school funding. This comes with national schemes for infrastructure and health.

The most recent two party-preferred Newspoll puts the Liberals at 51 per cent, ahead of Labor at 49 per cent. With a long campaign heading into its final days, we can all breathe a sigh of relief when voting closes on Saturday night.

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