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
  • politics (general)

Last-standing Liberal government ponders early election

February 11, 2024

Australia’s only Liberal premier is “actively considering” an early election after two renegade MPs rejected an ultimatum to ensure the minority government’s stability.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff threatened Liberal-turned-independent MPs John Tucker and Lara Alexander with an early election unless the pair agreed not to vote against the government on any motions, bills and amendments.

The two former Liberals have been ensuring confidence and supply after defecting in May 2023 around transparency concerns over a proposed AFL stadium and the Marinus underwater power cable.

Tasmanian independents John Tucker and Lara Alexander
 The standoff between Mr Rockliff and two former Liberal MPs continues, with further talks expected. Image by Loic Le Guilly/AAP PHOTOS 

The move left the last Liberal state government in Australia with only 11 of 25 lower house seats, leaving it vulnerable to a no-confidence vote without the support of the independents.

Mr Rockliff said on Friday that he would not call an early election this weekend, but on Sunday he said he was “actively considering” it following a meeting with Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander. 

“It didn’t result in what I required and what stability is needed,” he told reporters on Sunday.

He accused Labor of using the pair to disrupt parliament. 

The standoff comes after Mr Tucker in January threatened to “bring the government down” with a no-confidence motion if it did not comply with several motions passed by parliament.

Independents John Tucker and Lara Alexander
 Independent MP John Tucker has already threatened to bring down the Tasmanian government. Image by Loic Le Guilly/AAP PHOTOS 

Meanwhile, Tasmanian Labor will steer its own course some 18 months after the party’s national executive took control of the branch and appointed former senators as administrators.

The state branch was hampered by infighting, scandals and resignations during its 2021 election campaign.

“This is a major milestone for Labor, and delivers on my commitment to get our house in order,” Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White said in a statement on Saturday.

Tasmania’s next election is not due until mid-2025 and parliament is scheduled to resume in early March.