Northern Tasmanian Liberal backbenchers who are sensationally quitting the party to sit as independents over Hobart’s controversial AFL stadium say they won’t back any no-confidence motions in the Liberal minority Government “at the moment”.
Member for Lyons John Tucker and Bass representative Lara Alexander announced their intentions on Friday morning, after concerns a GST loophole could leave Tasmania on the hook for the entire cost of the stadium, currently estimated at $715 million but expected to blow out to $1 billion-plus.
“The stadium plan is the most obvious example of a government, which has lost its way. It is considered by most Tasmanians to be a tone-deaf government in denial, prioritising the unreasonable demands of the ‘haves’ ahead of the basic needs of the ‘have-nots,” said a joint statement from the pair.
“We also expect the Government to agree to full transparency and Parliamentary oversight of the Marinus link and Battery of the Nation project, and associated works, through forensic assessment by the Parliament of these initiatives as Projects of State Significance.”
The defection leaves Jeremy Rockliff with 11 out of 25 seats in the House of Assembly.
“I cannot just stand back quietly in view of this magnitude of debt,” Ms Alexander, a qualified accountant, told a press pack in Launceston.
“It’s been quite a personal conflict and a lot of reflection.”
Mr Tucker has criticised his former colleagues’ failure to ensure Tasmania’s GST share won’t be affected by Canberra’s purported $240 million share of stadium funding.
“It worries me greatly, the commitment with the GST exemption, how that deal was done, why that wasn’t done before that deal was struck with the Federal Government, why we’re now trying to negotiate after the fact,” he said.
“What the future holds, I don’t know, but usually when you become an independent – and me and Lara are well aware of this – there’s no going back.”