A shock Cabinet reshuffle has seen the health and police portfolios taken from Michael Ferguson in a significant reset for the state government that has further alienated Speaker Sue Hickey.
Premier Will Hodgman's reshuffle was sparked by frontbencher Jacquie Petrusma's decision to resign from Cabinet for health reasons.
As the state's health system has struggled to keep up with increasing demand, Mr Ferguson has faced mounting pressure to resign as Health Minister and let someone else take the reins of the ministry.
And now his Bass Liberal colleague Ms Courtney will be handed what some say is a poisoned chalice, although the health responsibilities have been split, with Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff to look after a new mental health and wellbeing portfolio.
"I've thought in recent times that mid-term ... now into our sixth year in government, we need to obviously look to what serves the people of Tasmania best," he said at a media conference on Sunday.
"There are always very strong arguments for continuity and my government has provided that.
"There will be, on occasion, changes to our team that arise, more often than not through nobody's fault or through circumstances beyond our control."
The Premier said Mr Ferguson had "without doubt" been one of Tasmania's best ever health ministers and had done "an outstanding job".
He paid tribute to his colleague and "good friend" Mrs Petrusma, saying she was "a committed and compassionate and caring person".
"I want to deeply thank Jacquie for her exceptional service as a minister in the majority Liberal government and wish her the very best in her upcoming surgery and in her full recovery," Mr Hodgman said.
Mrs Petrusma has a cochlear implant to aid her hearing. She had a graft put in to protect the implant but said her body had been "rejecting it" which had caused an infection in her inner ear.
"Unfortunately, to replace the graft, I have to be free of all infection," Mrs Petrusma said.
"So I do need to step back so I can get over the infection and have the graft replaced, then go on to enjoy all the benefits that a cochlear implant offers."
Mrs Petrusma said her decision to step away from the frontbench was "probably one of the hardest and most emotional decisions I've had to make".
"I passionately love my portfolios," she said.
"I want to thank the Premier for his care and understanding."
Political analyst Richard Herr said the Cabinet reshuffle gave the government the opportunity to "reboot" while also giving the new ministers time to "settle in" and take charge of their portfolios.
. @fergusonmichael has done an outstanding job as Health Minister. He’s delivered 1,000+ more staff, opened 130 beds, commenced major hospital upgrades, especially at the RHH. He has my full confidence to now deliver a record $3.6 billion infrastructure plan. That is no demotion!— Will Hodgman MP (@WillHodgman) June 30, 2019
"There would be a good argument to say that if you're going to move the deckchairs around, whether they're on the Titanic or on the Spirit of Tasmania, the fact is that they might as well try to settle the pattern rather than deal with the situation that might continue to cripple the government in getting its policies out and its message out," Professor Herr said.
"With her decision to go ... then they really did have to say, 'Are we going to make a jerry-rigged change or are we going to do something that will redistribute our personnel more effectively?'
"And I think that's probably what they decided to do, to get it all done in one go. It's a realistic way to address the problem and maybe have it defused. At least it will be defused for a period of time and if the reshuffle works, then they're in a more secure position than they were before."
Professor Herr said if Speaker Sue Hickey had bided her time until this reshuffle instead of nominating for the speakership at the opening of the parliament, she'd "certainly" be a minister by now.
"That's the prize she wanted, not the speakership," he said.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White, who spearheaded Labor's recent no-confidence and censure motions relating to Mr Ferguson, said the Premier had "finally declared no confidence in Michael Ferguson".
"Sarah Courtney must show more courage in the Cabinet than Mr Ferguson did," she said in a statement.
It was probably one of the hardest and most emotional decisions Ive had to make.Jacquie Petrusma, Franklin Liberal MHA
"Labor is prepared to work with the new Health Minister if she is truly willing to listen."
The Australian Medical Association welcomed the news of the health portfolio reshuffle.
"The Tasmanian Health Service and the health portfolio [have] been caught in a deepening crisis for an extended period," AMA Tasmania president John Burgess said.
"The AMA sees this Cabinet reshuffle as a sensible way of health moving forward with a fresh start."
"However, there needs to a fresh approach throughout the health bureaucracy and a hard look at how to improve the culture in the health bureaucracy."
Mr Ferguson will now be responsible for the state growth, small business and infrastructure and transport portfolios, which were formerly the remit of Treasurer Peter Gutwein and Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff, respectively.
Mr Hodgman will take on manufacturing and defence, while Mr Gutwein will remain Treasurer and also serve as the Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister.
In addition to being handed the new mental health portfolio, Mr Rockliff will retain the education and training portfolio and take on sport and recreation, formerly held by Mrs Petrusma.
Mrs Petrusma was also Minister for Women, Disability Services and Community Development. Ms Courtney will now be the Minister for Women in Mrs Petrusma's place.
Housing Minister Roger Jaensch has been given the task of handling the Aboriginal affairs portfolio.
Lyons MHA Mark Shelton has been promoted to the frontbench, being awarded the police, fire and emergency management ministry, as well as local government.
Attorney-General Elise Archer will add building and construction to her list of portfolios.
Braddon MHA Joan Rylah will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, while Prosser MLC Jane Howlett will be Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Community Development.