Tasmania faces two very different futures depending on who wins today’s secret Liberal ballot to become the state’s new premier, a political commentator says.
- A secret ballot to decide who will replace Will Hodgman as Tasmania’s premier will take place today at midday
- The two candidates represent the right and moderate factions of the Tasmanian Liberals
- A political analyst tipped the state would likely move in very different directions depending on who leads it to the next election
“A Gutwein government would be more of the same … he will continue Will Hodgman’s legacy,” Professor Bonham said.
“There might be some kind of shakeup, but not anything too massive by way in a change of direction.
“A Ferguson government would be quite a substantial change in direction, because of him being more conservative.”
Mr Gutwein, the current Treasurer and Minister for the Environment, Parks and Heritage, is standing with Jeremy Rockliff as his candidate for deputy leader, while Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson has chosen Attorney General Elise Archer.
The backers for both leadership teams were understood to have spent the weekend trying to win support from party room members, declining to comment on the record.
Sources told the ABC the voting was narrowly in Mr Gutwein’s favour heading into Sunday evening.
Secret ballot could result in a tie
All 14 members of the Parliamentary Liberal Party are expected to vote except Mr Hodgman, however he is expected to be present for the secret ballot.
The ABC understands Health Minister Sarah Courtney and backbencher Jacquie Petrusma, who are both overseas, will vote electronically in the ballot.
If the vote comes to a draw at 7-7, members will continue voting until a new premier and deputy are decided.
Liberal state president Rod Scurrah said both he and members of the party were satisfied with the method by which the decision will be made.
“Everyone is happy with the process [for Monday],” he said.
State’s future, careers in the balance
Doctor Bonham said it was possible one of the candidates would withdraw before the midday meeting if the other had gained a clear advantage ahead of the battot.
“Whether the numbers stabilise between now and then, it may be that if someone is winning then a vote may be avoided,” he said.
“We’ll have to wait and see, it’s very hard to get a read on these things.”
Whatever happens, Professor Bonham said the choice of who becomes premier would likely chart different courses for Tasmania and have an impact on the Liberals’ electoral chances at the next state election, set for 2022.
“There will certainly be people who will have concerns about whether Mr Ferguson will run the state in a right-wing direction and potentially impact the party’s vote in the south,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how that plays out, in terms of personnel and winners and losers and people staying in politics, or not.”
Hard-right vs moderate has Libs split, Labor says
On Sunday, Labor leader Rebecca White said that the shock resignation of Mr Hodgman was an indicator of “the ongoing chaos within the Liberals”.
“You’ve got a far-right, very conservative person in Michael Ferguson versus Peter Gutwein, who is more moderate, and it has split the caucus down the middle,” Ms White said.
Ms White “no matter what happens tomorrow, one of them will be leader and half of the caucus will be thinking that they’re not the right person for the job”.
Ms White’s comments were dismissed by federal Liberal senator Jonathon Dunium as “disappointing” and said she should be “more worried about what the opposition should be worried about, providing an alternative to Tasmanians”.
Meanwhile, as of Sunday afternoon bookmakers had Mr Gutwein as favourite ahead of Mr Ferguson, with federal Liberal senator Eric Abetz, Tasmanian-born AFL footballers Ben Brown and Nick Riewoldt, and former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting as rank outsiders — with Princess Mary of Denmark most unlikely to become premier.