Tasmania’s premier, treasurer and minister for tourism and climate change has announced his retirement from politics.
On Monday afternoon, 57-year-old Peter Gutwein told a press conference he made up his mind to retire over the 2021 Christmas-New Year holiday. The toll of leading during a pandemic and intense work hours was taking precious time away from his family, he said.
“On Boxing Day I went back to Hobart as a result of the border opening and the need to provide leadership.
“I left Hobart on New Year’s Eve and drove to Bridport. I spent four hours in Bridport, which was meant to be four days,” the premier said.
“That night, we had an increasing case count … the numbers came through, and I was walking on the beach with my wife, and I’ve got to get back in the car, and I’ve got to get back to Hobart and then spend most of January in Hobart managing the pandemic,” he said.
Gutwein will remain in his role until the Tasmanian Liberal party meets to elect a replacement premier this week. Votes will also be recounted for Bass, the electorate the premier represents, with a replacement expected after the Easter period.
Another realisation for the premier, who has held his office for two years, was that the longest time he had spent at home was during seven days of isolation for COVID-19.
“I think that probably says it all,” he said.
“My wife and kids have just been outstanding in their support. But that period through Christmas completely drained me … I’ve got nothing left in the tank to give.”
The premier said he had informed cabinet and parliamentary colleagues of his decision on Monday.
“It’s obviously with some sadness that I leave, but I know that the foundations have been laid, the path that has been laid out is one that a new leader will be able to make their own,” he said.
Prime minster Scott Morrison lauded his Tasmanian Liberal colleague, who has served as a member of the state parliament since 2002.
“Peter Gutwein leaves public life with gratitude and great respect,” the PM said in a statement.
“As premier since 2020, he led Tasmania through a once-in-a-century pandemic. Peter did not put a foot wrong.”
Morrison went on to describe Gutwein as making an ‘invaluable contribution’ to the national cabinet during the pandemic, noting he departed politics with a ‘thriving’ state economy and jobs at a record high.
For the state, Morrison said Gutwein was alongside former premier Will Hodgman, an ‘architect of Tasmania’s economic revival’.
He said the Tasmanian premier had demonstrated strength and compassion in his leadership during his tenure.
“Peter has come to the realisation that he has given it his all. Not only a public figure: Peter is a husband and father as well and he knows where he has to be,” the PM said.
“I wish him and his wife Mandy, and children Finn and Millie, all the best for the next chapter in their life together.”