Tasmania’s minority government remains on tenterhooks over two powerful independents as Labor positions for an early state election.
Jeremy Rockliff, Australia’s only Liberal premier, has been at loggerheads with former party colleagues turned independents, John Tucker and Lara Alexander.
The pair rejected a new deal from the premier that would have stopped them from voting against the government, with Mr Rockliff threatening to trigger an early election if they didn’t comply.
The group met on Friday, with the premier saying he would not call an election this weekend.
“I will now take the appropriate time to consider and to consult with my colleagues,” Mr Rockliff said in a statement.
“This is an important matter, Tasmanians need stability and certainty, and I am focused on delivering that.”
Meanwhile, Labor’s Tasmanian branch will steer its own course some 18 months after the party’s national executive took control of the branch and appointed former senators Doug Cameron and Nick Sherry as administrators.
“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.
“While Jeremy Rockliff’s government collapses around him, Labor is stronger than ever and ready to govern.”
Liberal MP for Franklin Dean Young baulked at Labor’s announcement, and saying the decision had only been made in case of an early election.
“No amount of sticky tape, tissue paper and training wheels can change the fact that Labor are deeply divided and dysfunctional, and not capable of governing themselves, let alone the state,” Mr Young said in a statement.
Tasmania’s next election is not due until mid-2025 and parliament is scheduled to resume in early March.
Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander said they expected scheduled discussions with the premier to occur in the coming week.
Mr Tucker in January threatened to “bring the government down” with a no-confidence motion if the government did not comply with several motions passed by parliament.
Mr Tucker said on Friday the premier had given an assurance he would abide by the motions passed by the lower house.
Ms Alexander described the “crisis talks” with Mr Rockliff as productive, but did not indicate whether the premier had shifted on his demands.
Both Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander say their preference is to continue with an initial agreement to provide votes of confidence and supply, which have propped up the government.
The pair plunged the government into minority after quitting the Liberals in May over concerns about transparency, particularly around the state’s deal for an AFL team and stadium.