Treasurer Peter Gutwein is set to replace Will Hodgman as Tasmania’s Premier after leadership rival Michael Ferguson pulled out of the race before a Liberal vote.
In a statement released minutes before the party meeting was set to take place, Mr Ferguson said: “I have been speaking with my colleagues over the weekend about the leadership of the Liberal Party and have decided not to stand as a candidate.”
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff will remain in the role, with Attorney-General Elise Archer also electing not to stand in the ballot for that position.
Mr Ferguson said Ms Archer “joins me in wanting our new leadership to be elected unopposed”.
“As I said last Thursday, my position, as always, is to do what is best for our party, the Government and most importantly the Tasmanian people.
“Peter Gutwein and Jeremy Rockliff have made significant contributions to Tasmania in their parliamentary careers and they will be a strong and dependable leadership team. We respect them. They will have our full support.”
The no contest came after long-term Liberal leader Will Hodgman’s shock announcement last week that he was resigning as premier.
Mr Gutwein, a moderate Liberal, and Mr Ferguson, a conservative, have both been in politics for more than 15 years and are from the north of Tasmania.
The leadership contest was considered a showdown between the moderate and conservative factions of the Liberal party.
A press conference is expected to formally announce Mr Gutwein as Premier, this afternoon.
On Sunday, political analyst Kevin Bonham said Mr Gutwein would likely “continue Will Hodgman’s legacy”.
“There might be some kind of shake-up, but not anything too massive by way in a change of direction,” he said.
“Congratulations also to Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff, who has done an outstanding job over many years and will continue to do so.”
A press conference this afternoon is expected to formally announce Mr Gutwein as Premier.