Groom resignation raises "significant questions": Bacon

POSSIBILITY: Speaker of the House of Assembly Elise Archer looms as a potential candidate to replace outgoing Denison Liberal MHA Matthew Groom as acting Attorney-General, political analyst Kevin Bonham says.
POSSIBILITY: Speaker of the House of Assembly Elise Archer looms as a potential candidate to replace outgoing Denison Liberal MHA Matthew Groom as acting Attorney-General, political analyst Kevin Bonham says.

The shock resignation of a senior figure in the Hodgman government mere months out from the state election has left “significant question marks” over the Liberals’ ability to govern into the future, Labor has claimed.

Matthew Groom is the Minister for Energy, State Growth and the Environment, in addition to serving as acting Attorney-General and Justice Minister in the absence of Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council Vanessa Goodwin.

Mr Groom announced his resignation on Saturday, citing family reasons.

He will see out his term until the state election – expected in March 2018 – but will relinquish his portfolio responsibilities. 

On Monday, Premier Will Hodgman said a Cabinet reshuffle would be conducted “in due course”.

“We’ll make announcements about any changes to the ministerial lineup and what happens next as soon as we’re able,” he said.

“Tasmanians can be confident that we will always do what’s in the best interests of the state.”

Mr Hodgman said the preselection process for Mr Groom’s seat of Denison would be “extended”.

It has been speculated that Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey could be considered for Liberal preselection in Denison.

Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon said Mr Hodgman had “failed to answer … questions  … about how he plans to steady the ship”.

“The events of the weekend have left significant question marks over the ability and effectiveness of the Hodgman Government going forward,” Mr Bacon said.

“Will [Speaker of the House] Elise Archer … be given [a] ministr[y], will the government appoint a new Speaker for the House of Assembly?”

Political analyst Kevin Bonham said the vacant ministries would be “carved up”, noting that Franklin MHA Nic Street and Braddon MHA Roger Jaensch were potential contenders, along with Bass MHA Sarah Courtney and Ms Archer.

“[Ms] Archer is a natural contender for Attorney-General because she’s a lawyer,” he said.

Dr Bonham said it was a “possibility” Deputy Speaker Mark Shelton could fill the role of speaker in the event Ms Archer was made a minister.