A May state election is on the cards given the government's minority government position, those within Tasmanian political circles say.
Things took a sharp turn over the weekend for the government when Clark Liberal MHA Sue Hickey was told by the Premier the party would not re-endorse her to run in the next election.
The Premier's language regarding the prospect of an early election changed thereafter and he has taken to repeat the phrase: "Tasmania will have an election when it needs to".
Sources say the Premier would be observing the outcome of the recent state election in Western Australia in particular, as well as the re-election of governments in the ACT and Queensland amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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There is some thought that Mr Gutwein would like to go to the polls before the state budget is due to be released on August 26.
When Ms Hickey declared she was going to run in the next state election as an independent, she was no longer a member of the Liberal Party under the party's constitution.
This meant the government were immediately placed into a minority position without the need for her to formally resign.
Ms Hickey has provided an assurance that she would not block supply and confidence for the government.
However, Mr Gutwein might decide she cannot be completely trusted to follow through on this given her history involving seizing the speakership and, on occasion, voting against the government.
Political analyst Kevin Bonham said it would be unusual for a government to an election essentially 10 months early.
He said the last time a Tasmanian government went so early without being forced to was in 1979 under a new premier.
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The Labor Party had a one-seat majority when Doug Lowe took the leadership and it was overwhelmingly re-elected 20 seats to 15.
"Governments go to early elections when they think they can win them," Dr Bonham said.
"The Liberal Party is probably very confident at the moment that it can win."
Dr Bonham said renewed public attention on Ms Hickey could make the government inclined to rush off to the polls in addition to their minority government position.
"The Liberal Party in Tasmania has a long history of being rather inflexible about the idea of being in minority government," he said.
"They really deeply don't like it, they really deeply think it's an unnatural position."
The last EMRS poll showed the Liberals enjoyed 52 per cent voter support, while Labor was at 27 per cent.
Mr Gutwein was preferred premier for 61 per cent of voters while support for Labor leader Rebecca White was at 26 per cent.
WA premier Mark McGowan's approval rating was 88 per cent going to the polls.
Legislative Council elections are due to be held in Windermere, Mersey, and Derwent on Saturday, May 1.
If a state election was called for that date, the Legislative Council elections would be required to be moved through legislation introduced to Parliament.
When asked about the prospect of a May election being announced on Thursday, a state government spokesperson responded:
"The government will be getting on with its strong agenda tomorrow and will not be calling an election."
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