Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has called an election for May 1, in what will be the first time he faces the voters.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Gutwein said he visited the governor to request an election because Tasmania “can’t afford the uncertainty of minority government”.
The next Tasmanian election was due to take place in May 2022; however, Gutwein said he was forced to act after the Liberal government’s numbers dropped to a minority following Speaker Sue Hickey’s departure from the Liberal Party on March 21.
“Now more than ever, we need a strong, stable majority government,” said the Premier.
“That is why, this election will be about who can deliver a strong, stable government to secure Tasmania’s future.”
Gutwein told Hickey last week she would not be endorsed by the Liberal Party for the next election, in a move that Hickey described shows that the Liberal Party “could not accommodate strong women of independent thought and initiative”.
Hickey had voted against the government on a number of occasions and is now serving as an independent.
Gutwein has been Tasmania’s Premier since January 2020, following the resignation of former premier Will Hodgman. Previously, Gutwein had served as the state’s treasurer since the Liberal Party was elected in 2014.
The Premier was questioned about the timing of the Tasmanian election during the press conference this morning, given his involvement in Hickey’s departure from the Liberal Party as well as the fact that Labor opposition leader Rebecca White is due to have a baby in June.
“I have given a great deal of thought to that matter,” he said in reference to White.
“For obvious reasons .. if the Parliament were to descend into dysfunction in June or July or August, that would not be appropriate and it would be something I would not want. I think it is important that we go now and provide a certainty at the beginning of May.”
White responded to concerns around the timing of the election on Twitter and said as far as she is concerned, it’s “game on”.
I’m not sure why? Plenty of pregnant woman continue to work. I’m no different and I can assure everyone that as far as I’m concerned it’s game on!
— Rebecca White (@bec_white) March 26, 2021
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The Tasmanian Liberal Party currently holds 12 seats in parliament, while the Labor Party holds nine. There are two independents, including Hickey, and two members from the Greens.