AFTER weeks of toing and froing, Premier Jeremy Rockliff has this evening announced he will ask the governor to approve a state election. The Mercury newspaper tips the election will be held on March 23.
“The Parliamentary Liberal Party this afternoon met to discuss the failure of former Liberal MPs John Tucker and Lara Alexander to commit to a new, enduring confidence and supply agreement,” Mr Rockliff said in a statement. “It was unanimously agreed that in the light of this, it was appropriate for me to request the governor to call a general election.”
The decision comes almost a year after former Liberal MPs John Tucker and Lara Alexander quit the governing party over their dissatisfaction over the proposed Hobart AFL stadium, the proposed Marinus Link and other issues. They undertook not to support motions of no-confidence in the government but have refused to agree to the premier’s recent demand that they vote with the government on all issues.
“I have noted your various public comments over the past week that you believe that the current memorandum of understanding is working well and you have no intention of committing to the new arrangement that I have proposed,” Mr Rockliff wrote to the two MPs today. “I have also noted the comments made by yourself that you intend to move a no-confidence vote in my government on parliament’s resumption on 5 March 2024.”
“While there remains some significant challenges, Tasmania has come a long way over the past 10 years under majority Liberal Government under Will Hodgman, Peter Gutwein and myself. A big part of being able to achieve the positive outcomes we have, has been the stability and certainty provided by majority government.”
Mr Rockliff said he had decided he had no alternative other than to ask the governor to call an election so that Tasmanians could have their say.
Mr Tucker is one of the five MPs elected to represent the seat of Lyons, which covers the Derwent Valley, Central Highlands and neighbouring areas. After the next state election, each seat will have seven members, returning the House of Assembly to its previous number of 35 members.
Opposition leader Rebecca White has issued her own statement in response to the premier’s announcement. “After two weeks of dithering since trying to be the tough guy to John Tucker and Lara Alexander, the premier has never looked weaker,” Ms White said.
“After 10 years of the Liberals, Tasmanians want urgent action on the cost of living. They want to pay Tasmanian prices for Tasmanian power, and they want a plan to set Tasmania up for the future,” she said.
Ms White, who is a Labor member for Lyons, said Tasmanians wanted a health system that met their needs, better access to housing and good education for their children. “It’s time for a better future for Tasmania, and the only way to secure that is to vote Labor,” she said.
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