Tasmania's Speaker Hickey quits Liberals

·2-min read

Tasmania's Liberal government has effectively been plunged into minority, with maverick Speaker Sue Hickey saying she will quit the party to run as an independent.

Ms Hickey slammed the state Liberals as "unable to accommodate strong women" after being told by Premier Peter Gutwein at the weekend she wouldn't be endorsed for the next election.

"I feel like this giant boil has been lanced and all the poison and the pus and the toxicity of the last three years is over," she said on Monday, describing her decision.

Ms Hickey, a first-term MP, sensationally crossed the floor to claim the speakership in 2018, trumping the Liberals' preferred candidate.

She has, however, pledged to continue to vote with the government on issues of supply and confidence and hopes to continue as Speaker in the short term.

Ms Hickey said she was now "free" of Liberal Party dogma and said Monday marked the start of her campaign as an independent in the Hobart seat of Clark.

"I have fought so hard to make the government be bold, brave and accountable," she said.

"I thought I could change things within the structure but the beast is so powerful, you just can't.

"I've had some powerful enemies in the party and there just isn't the capacity in the party for individual thought. It's a very group-think mentality."

Without Ms Hickey, the Liberals are left with 12 members in the 25-seat lower house.

The next election is due by March 2022 but Mr Gutwein has refused to rule out holding it earlier.

"That will depend on what occurs in the parliament and with Ms Hickey going forward," he told reporters.

"We are in new territory. I have an open mind in terms of an election."

Ms Hickey has previously voted against the government on matters she describes as conscience, including reform to make gender optional on birth certificates.

She said she remains on good terms with Mr Gutwein and praised his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.