Tasmanian Independent John Tucker (file image)
Independent MP John Tucker has threatened to withdraw his parliamentary support over animal welfare. Image by Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Independent puts Tas Liberal government on notice

Ethan James January 4, 2024

Australia’s only Liberal government is at risk of falling with a balance-of-power independent MP threatening to withdraw his parliamentary support.

The Tasmanian government has been in minority since May when John Tucker and Lara Alexander quit the Liberal Party to sit as independents.

The pair raised concerns about the government’s transparency around plans for a new Hobart stadium and contract for an AFL team.

Mr Tucker says he will withdraw his vote of confidence and supply, something he says could lead to an early election, if certain conditions around animal welfare in abattoirs aren’t met.

He criticised the government for showing contempt for decisions made by parliament and also hit out at their planning for a Tasmanian AFL team.

“The situation is simple,” he said on Thursday. 

“Either the premier starts respecting decisions taken by the parliament or I will withdraw my pledge of confidence and supply and we will have an election.” 

Mr Tucker has threatened to move a motion of no confidence in the government when parliament returns on March 5 if his demands aren’t met.

The minority government has previously faced no-confidence motions in parliament but none have been successful. 

Mr Tucker and Mrs Alexander, who hold the balance of power, agreed to provide votes of supply and confidence to the government when they quit the Liberals. 

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff.
 Jeremy Rockliff says he won’t be distracted after an independent MP threatened to withdraw support. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

Premier Jeremy Rockliff said his government would not be distracted. 

“We are doing what matters for Tasmanians by keeping our economy strong, creating more jobs and building infrastructure for future generations,” he said. 

In December, parliament passed a motion put forward by Mr Tucker for the immediate introduction of 24-hour surveillance in all abattoirs as well as random audits. 

The motion also called on the government to provide a report on the measures on March 5.

Mr Tucker’s motion came after covert surveillance of several Tasmanian meat processors uncovered alleged animal cruelty. 

He claims a government task force set up to respond to the allegations could be too slow in delivering its report. 

“(The government) has told the media that the installation of mandatory 24-hour video surveillance will depend on what the task force recommends,” he said. 

“I will not stand for this blatant contempt for the parliament.” 

Macquarie Point
 The Tasmanian government wants to build a new stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart. Image by Loic Le Guilly/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Rockliff said the government had already committed to making CCTV compulsory and undertaking random animal welfare audits. 

“While some abattoirs already have CCTV installed, the intent is to have CCTV operating in all abattoirs as soon as practically possible,” he said. 

Mr Rockliff said the government would report back to parliament on March 5 regarding Mr Tucker’s animal welfare motion. 

Mr Tucker also accused the government of pre-empting a green light for a $715 million stadium at Macquarie Point – a condition of the AFL granting the state a licence for a team. 

The government recently announced the preferred site for the team’s $70 million training facility, something Mr Tucker said was premature. 

The stadium project faces independent assessment from the state’s planning commission and must then be voted through both houses of parliament. 

Mr Rockliff said the training centre was included in the state budget, which was approved by parliament. 

“We are getting on with the job delivering Tasmania’s decades-long dream of having our own AFL team,” he said. 

Labor MP Dean Winter said an early election in 2024 was likely if Mr Rockliff didn’t deliver better government. 

“(We’ve) got a minority government that appears to be finding it very difficult to convince Mr Tucker and Mrs Alexander of (its) merits,” he told reporters.