Peter Gutwein resigns

Tasmania’s Liberals prepare to anoint their third Premier since coming to power in 2014 as Peter Gutwein retires after two years in the job.

Peter Gutwein has announced his retirement from parliament and as Premier of Tasmania, effective immediately. Without knowing an awful lot about the day-to-day of the Tasmanian political scene, my assumption would be that the favourite to succeed him is Deputy Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who has held the deputy position in both opposition and government all the way back to 2006. Rockliff declined to seek the leadership after Will Hodgman retired in January 2020, instead joining a moderate leadership ticket headed by Gutwein.

If the conservatives are willing or able to flex their muscles, other contenders might include Michael Ferguson, who holds the infrastructure and transport, finance, state development and local government and planning portfolios (and was one of the many one-term members for the federal seat of Bass from 2004 to 2007), and Attorney-General Elise Archer. Ferguson and Archer were initially poised to run as a conservative ticket for leader and deputy when Hodgman resigned, but both withdrew when it became apparent they didn’t have the numbers.

Gutwein’s resignation will also result in a vacancy in the division of Bass, which will be filled by a recount of votes from last year’s election. There has already been a vacancy for one of the three Liberal seats, with Sarah Courtney succeeded by Lara Alexander in February. The results of that recount suggest Gutwein’s seat is certain to be filled by Simon Wood, who finished narrowly behind Alexander in the recount and well ahead of the remaining Liberal on the ticket, Greg Kieser.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

15 comments on “Peter Gutwein resigns”

  1. I must say it is a surprise given he has only been in the job for a little over two years and two months. I guess the COVID crisis took a lot out of him. Certainly it didn’t allow him to do the “fun” things as much as premier.
    I wonder how much the revelation of his own sexual abuse as a child has played on his mind too.

  2. 12 months he would have been in all likelihood the most senior Liberal in power in Australia. 🙂

  3. Bacon, Hodgman, Gutwein. What is with Tasmanian Premiers? They resign at short notice without any speculation.
    I am under the impression that Tasmanian Premier job is one of the less onerous ones in Australia.
    Now it is quite possible that ALP may win 4 out of 5 Federal seats.

  4. The countback is likely to elect Simon Wood who works for one of the Tasmanian senators. The other alternative is Greg Keiser who is mayor of Georgetown. The previous count back this year that elected Lara Alexander gives a pretty good clue that Wood has probably got the edge.

  5. Rumour was that Rockcliff and Gutewin were going to resign last time if Ferguson/Archer ticket got up. Will be interesting to see how Rockcliff plays it this time. Rockcliff is pretty well liked in Braddon and is generally consider to be one of the more competent politicians.

    If Michael Ferguson got up this would be a disaster for the Liberals as he has a reputation for bungling every portfolio he touches. I would think that Guy Barnett and Elise Archer would be putting their hand up from the conservative/right faction of the liberals.

    Regardless we will find out by the end of the week. The Treasury portfolio will be an interesting one to watch as Peter Gutwein held that as well and is arguably as power as the premier in this state. Could be a deal done with the liberals on that portfolio for the premier.

    As someone who disagreed with Peter Gutwein and didn’t vote Liberal in last state election, on the whole he governed closed to the centre, handled the COVID Pandemic as well as anyone could have and generally was a leader you could respect from across the isle (Similar to Malcolm Turnball). His work was appreciated and here’s hoping we don’t get the Tasmanian “Scomo” next.

  6. Jeremy Rockliff has been deputy under both Gutwein and Hodgman. I assume there is a reason he wasn’t given the job when Hodgman resigned; Was there?

  7. Tasmania has had fewer COVID deaths than any other major jurisdiction in Australia – and I’m including the ACT and NT in that comparison.

    Deaths by State & Territory

    Victoria: 2,754
    NSW: 2,455
    Queensland: 746
    SA: 264
    WA: 56
    ACT: 42
    NT: 36
    Tasmania: 31 – and 13 of them were caused either by ‘bungling’ in March/April 2020 in NW Tasmania or were directly from cruise ship passengers while overseas!

    Only really 18 in community COVID Deaths in over 2 years – an average of under 10 per year – pretty good you’d have to say.

  8. Gutwein had time off last year after being hospitalised for exhaustion. He’s recently had a difficult time in Parliament after revealing personal child abuse events. So, his resignation is not surprising although timing of these things is usually hard to predict until it actually happens.

  9. C@tmomma, Bridget Archer and Elise Archer both go by their married names. I suppose their husbands could be related, but given they represent different parts of Tasmania for different factions of the Liberal Party, I suspect not.

  10. The previous Courtney recount in which Wood outperformed Kieser by lots is mostly 1 Gutwein 2 Courtney votes that will also be in this recount (they make up 43.7% of its value). However about 20% of it was 1 Courtney votes that won’t be. There is also some info from the original election about some votes – all up the known votes strongly suggest Wood wins easily, even though about 2/3 of Gutwein’s surplus has an unknown fate between the two.

  11. fun fact for you lot:
    Bridget Archer was born in Hobart, but lives on a farm near Launceston.
    Meanwhile, Elise Archer was born in Launceston, but now lives near Hobart.
    Very ironic tbh.

    Elise Archer is also Swedish so any relation between the two would be purely matrimonial

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