FEBRUARY 18 is being touted as the most likely time for Premier David Bartlett to call the state election.
Mr Bartlett confirmed again yesterday at his speech to Labor candidates that he was locked into March 20 as the day when Tasmanians would go to the polls to elect a new government.
The minimum length for a state election campaign is 21 working days, which would bring the announcement date back to the week of February 18.
Both Labor Party and other political sources say that Mr Bartlett will leave himself outside government caretaker mode, which kicks in as soon as the writs are issued for an election, for as long as possible.
They say that Mr Bartlett wants as much time as possible to continue the spending spree of promises that his Government has been on since before Christmas, when Tasmania’s better than expected exit from the effects of the global financial crisis left it with bonus cash in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Government has used the spending to help redress the shocking results of the last EMRS political poll, which gave Mr Bartlett his lowest ever popularity rating and the Opposition a chance of at least winning minority government.
More time governing and less time as caretakers also allows Labor to announce policy to which the next government – whichever party wins – is locked in.