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  • Rikki Lambert

Mayday as Tasmania goes to the polls a year early

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has announced the state election will be brought forward to May 1 after the state government plunged into minority this week.

Premier Peter Gutwein on Friday announced the election, which was not due until May 2022, will be held on May 1. The Premier said:

"Tasmania can't afford the uncertainty of minority government. Now more than ever, we need a strong, stable majority government."

Mr Gutwein defended the timing of the election, with Labor opposition leader Rebecca White set to give birth in June.

"I have given this a great deal of thought. Obviously an election later this year is completely out of the question."

In a post on Twitter, Ms White indicated she had no gripes, writing:

"Plenty of pregnant woman continue to work. I'm no different and I can assure everyone that as far as I'm concerned it's game on!"

The Liberal government entered minority earlier this week after Speaker Sue Hickey quit the party.

It is not the nation's only minority government, with the South Australian Liberals also in minority due to resignations of Liberal MPs over court matters that have not yet resolved. South Australia has a fixed election date, in March 2022.

The Morrison government is teetering on the edge of minority government after government MP Craig Kelly quit the party to join the crossbench.

In Tasmania, the Premier told Ms Hickey last weekend that she would not be re-endorsed by the Liberals for the next election and is now operating as an independent.

She sensationally claimed the speakership three years ago by voting with opposition parties and has crossed the floor on contentious issues.

Ms Hickey used parliamentary privilege this week to make accusations of offensive comments directed at Canberra whistelblower Brittany Higgins and female Labor Senators against federal Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, which he has strongly denied.

Tasmania's Liberals are riding a wave of support on the back of the their coronavirus response, which included a call to shut the island's borders early.

According to an EMRS poll published in February, 61 per cent of voters have Mr Gutwein as their preferred premier, with Ms White on 26 per cent.

The Liberals are the preferred party (52 per cent) ahead of Labor (27).

Mr Gutwein took over as premier early last year after Will Hodgman's shock decision to step down as leader mid-term.

The Liberals will voluntarily disclose donations of more than $5000 made during the election campaign.

Political donation reforms were slated to come before parliament prior to the election.

"I would hope that other parties would likewise voluntarily disclose thresholds and amounts themselves," Mr Gutwein said.

The Liberal government was returned for a second term in 2018, winning 13 of 25 seats.

It was the first time in 22 years a Liberal government had won a second consecutive term.

-- with AAP


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