Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein has sidestepped questions about whether a Liberal candidate accused of catfishing two women online is fit to serve in parliament.
The incumbent Liberals appear likely to form majority government following the election at the weekend, although the final make-up of the state’s 25-seat lower house probably won’t be known until next week.
Former mining minister Adam Brooks remains in the running for a seat in northern electorate of Braddon and a return to parliament.
Mr Brooks is accused of dating two women using the alias Terry, setting up online dating profiles with the name, and using a fake Victorian driver’s licence.
He has vigorously denied the allegations and is taking legal action against “organisations and certain individuals” over “deliberate attempts to misrepresent, fabricate and distort” aspects of his personal life.
In his first news conference since declaring victory on Saturday night, Mr Gutwein was asked whether Mr Brooks was fit to serve in parliament, should he be elected.
“The people of Braddon will make the ultimate decision on that, and that count is under way,” he said on Wednesday in Launceston.
“But in terms of the conversations that I’ve had with Mr Brooks, he has emphatically denied the allegations against him.”
Mr Gutwein said it wasn’t appropriate for him to comment further due to Mr Brooks’ flagged legal action.
“When you’ve got two different points of view that have been played out publicly, obviously it’s concerning,” Mr Gutwein said.
Mr Brooks is in a tussle with fellow Liberal and sitting MP Roger Jaensch for the final seat in Braddon.
Under Tasmania’s unique Hare-Clark voting system, five MPs are elected in each of the state’s five electorates.
Counting has delivered the Liberals 12 seats thus far. They need 13 to govern in majority.
All eyes are on two in-doubt seats in the Hobart-based electorate of Clark, where independents Kristie Johnston and Sue Hickey are in the mix along with two Liberal candidates.
The Liberals appear in the box seat to win one of the Clark seats, with more clarity expected early next week after additional pre-poll and postal votes are counted.
Mr Gutwein has pledged to stand down as Liberal leader if the party doesn’t secure a majority.
“It is frustrating but obviously we need to wait for the counting to be completed. Clark … appears to be strengthening and I am confident we will achieve the 13 seats needed for majority,” he said.
Labor is on track to claim nine seats, with the Greens retaining two.