Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff.
Tasmania Premier Jeremy Rockliff has announced he will ask the governor for an early election. Image by Ethan James/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Tasmanian Liberal premier announces early election

Ethan James February 13, 2024

Australia’s last Liberal government has pulled the trigger for an early election after the Tasmanian premier failed to resolve a stand-off with two crossbench independents. 

Premier Jeremy Rockliff on Tuesday announced he would ask the governor to call an election more than a year before it is due. 

The island state’s Liberals have governed in minority since May 2023, when John Tucker and Lara Alexander left the party to sit as independents.

“The parliamentary Liberal Party met (on Tuesday) 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 only way to restore the stability and certainty Tasmanians need is to re-elect a majority Liberal government.”

Mr Rockliff is expected to visit the governor on Wednesday, with March 23 widely speculated as a likely poll date.

Mr Rockliff on February 2 threatened an early election if Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander did not sign up to a new deal that would have restricted their ability to vote for opposition bills and amendments.

The pair said their preference was to continue with their original agreement to provide votes of confidence of supply to prop up the government, 

The trio held “crisis” talks on Friday but neither parties budged from their positions. 

Tasmanian independents John Tucker and Lara Alexander
 The premier threatened an early poll if John Tucker and Lara Alexander didn’t agree to a new deal. Image by Loic Le Guilly/AAP PHOTOS 

Ms Alexander on Tuesday said the premier was orchestrating a flimsy election excuse.

The next Tasmanian election was not due to be held until mid-2025. 

“I didn’t leave the Liberal Party because I found the cross bench more attractive, I left because the Liberal Party was an abusive partner,” Ms Alexander said in a statement. 

“Just like that abusive partner, the Liberal Party still believes that if it insists enough, and gets enough of its mates to join in, I’ll give in and meekly sit in the corner like the submissive female, waiting for permission to speak.”

Mr Rockliff last week accused Mr Tucker and Ms Alexander of taking a “my way or the highway” approach. 

Mr Tucker in January threatened to “bring down the government” when parliament resumed if it didn’t abide by two parliamentary motions. 

Ms Alexander said she had never threatened to pull her support and hoped the premier would govern full term.

Tasmania is increasing the size of its lower house from 25 to 35 members. 

A recent opinion poll indicated neither the Liberals or Labor would be able to form government in majority at the next election. 

“Following seven months of telling Tasmanians there would be no early election, Jeremy Rockliff has finally come clean about his true intentions,” Labor leader Rebecca White said. 

“After two weeks of dithering since trying to be the tough guy to John Tucker and Lara Alexander, the premier has never looked weaker.”