Image for Sue Hickey: ‘You are in the Liberal Party, not the Labor Party’

First published May 2

Will Hodgman’s look of shock in Parliament was stark proof that he had forgotten LBJ’s salty aphorism about potential enemies; that it is better to have them, “inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”

That is exactly what his star-recruit, former Miss Tasmania and much more recently former Mayor of Hobart, Sue Hickey has done this week.

The Premier who had campaigned during the recent election that he would govern only in majority now needs to make up his mind if he really meant that.

Better a flighty bird in the hand perhaps than the huge uncertainty of sending Tasmanians back to the polls.

The people will resent another campaign and resentment almost always tells against the government of the day.

Will Hodgman’s troops don’t have much appetite for another fight while Rebecca White’s will enter the fray with the enthusiasm of an army with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

There is after all only one seat in it and in our political history two successive Liberal victories was remarkable. Three really would be pushing the electorate’s fickle friendship.

Why did the Premier allow his star-recruit to be made into a woman scorned? Why did he so soon allow a new ally to be turned into an enemy?

You can bet he was over-ruled on an earlier promise which had left Sue Hickey in no doubt that she would step straight into the Ministry.

It was part of the package. Given her background in local Government, Housing would have been a natural fit and she couldn’t have done a worse job than the present inexperienced incumbent.

Hickey would have been all over the homeless in the camping grounds and more importantly be seen to care on all news media.

She is nothing if not the most effective self-publicist. What else would we expect from the founder of a PR company called ‘Slick Promotions”.

This week she is the best-known politician in Tasmania and we already know what she stands for: self-interest, self-promotion and the political talent for seizing the opportune moment. In politics that’s all you need to know.

We might hope that in her position of great power she might also stoop to do some good. 

In a recent party meeting she asked about the elephant in the showgrounds, “What are we doing about this homelessness problem?” Came this telling snaky retort from a hostile female cabinet minister, “You are in the Liberal Party, not the Labor Party.”

Oops, best keep that under wraps!

No one outside the conservative Cabinet really believes that even the undeserving poor, let alone their children, should winter under canvas.

Tasmanians have no fondness for ideological extremism of either the right or the left but over many years they have shown a fondness for independents. 

Hickey’s enemies on the prevailing right of the Parliamentary Liberal Party are crying treachery and they have every reason to do so. But it does seem now the lady is not for turning.

She will not attend party meetings and when necessary will exercise her speaker’s casting vote “on the merits” of the issue.

The Liberal Government has shot itself in the foot. Speaking of which they might as well now not bother introducing their amended gun laws.

And what might happen if Labor and the Greens were to introduce laws to exclude poker machines from suburban hotels?

As for the lack of transparency surrounding a certain cableway, the game has changed.

A house of cards is falling down and who knows how they might be re-dealt? Well, Sue Hickey presumably.

*Charles Wooley is a legend of Australian journalism, partly through his history with Sixty Minutes.  His columns on Tasmanian Times are HERE

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

ABC: ‘Hobart former lord mayor Sue Hickey swoops on Speaker role, blindsiding Liberal colleagues’

Jim Playsted: Sue Hickey: Nothing to fear from these women ... … Far from being cast as a ‘rogue rebel’ as characterised in today’s Mercury - only those with poorly conceived proposals or mischievous intent have anything to fear from Speaker Hickey …

Examiner: ‘In politics nothing happens by accident’

Advocate: Tasmanian politicians cannot fill out disclosure forms properly

Advocate: New Speaker Sue Hickey is using former senior public servant Mervin Reed for advice

Advocate: ‘Stay true’: Former Speaker Page’s advice for new Speaker Hickey

Examiner: OPINION: Déjà vu, as female MPs forge a new path forward

Andrew Wilkie: The Proof’s in ... Tasmanian government incapable of safeguarding animal welfare The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will discuss the Tasmanian Government’s pattern of incompetence or disregard when it comes to animal welfare, as evidenced by there now being at least four unresolved instances of animal cruelty …

David O’Byrne: Whodunnit: Could the most out of touch Liberal please stand up? A quote from an article by respected journalist Charles Wooley sums up the Liberals’ attitude towards the housing crisis and homelessness in Tasmania. The article details concerns raised in Cabinet about the growing number of homeless people seeking refuge at the Hobart Showgrounds, which led to a “snaky retort” from a “hostile female Cabinet Minister” who said: “You are in the Liberal Party, not the Labor Party.” …