A controversial Liberal candidate has dropped out of the state election race after a video of him questioning the Tasmanian government's public health restrictions emerged.
Dean Ewington, a Clarence alderman who was announced as a candidate for Franklin on Sunday, posted a video to his Facebook page in September last year in which he acknowledged that Mr Gutwein had done "a resaonable job" in responding to the coronavirus crisis, before going on to criticise the "silly restrictions" imposed on Tasmanians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"No politician, no bureaucrat, no-one has the right to treat us as mugs and keep us in the dark like they are at the moment," he says in the video. "And I've just had enough of it to be honest and I think it's just about time we all spoke up and actually said that some of these silly restrictions that we're still living under at the moment don't make any sense and simply can't be justified."
The reemergence of the video comes a day after The Examiner reported that Mr Ewington had apologised for a Facebook post he made in which he bemoaned the "hysterical rants" of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who he described as an "autistic 15-year-old".
The ABC reported that Mr Ewington also posted a now-deleted video from an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne earlier this month, prior to being preselected.
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Premier Peter Gutwein said he wasn't aware of Mr Ewington's video criticising public health restrictions until he watched it on Tuesday night, acknowledging the pair had a "difference of opinion" in relation to the importance of lockdowns.
The Premier confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Mr Ewington had resigned as a candidate. He has been replaced on the Liberals' Franklin ticket by James Walker, another Clarence alderman.
In a statement, Mr Ewington said he had decided to stand down after "careful consideration".
"I had a conversation today with Premier Peter Gutwein, and while we both respect the right to free speech, in light of the Premier's strong stance with COVID-19 I feel there are irreconcilable differences given the strong views I hold on this matter," he said. "I wish the Premier and the Liberal team all the very best, because while I have resigned from running as a candidate, I remain very supportive of a majority Gutwein Liberal government and their plan to secure Tasmania's future."
Labor had called on Mr Gutwein to sack Mr Ewington as a candidate, with Rumney MLC Sarah Lovell saying his "radical ideas" would make the controversial celebrity chef Pete Evans proud. "[His views] make him thoroughly unfit to be a member of parliament," Ms Lovell said.
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