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Departing Tas premier coy on replacement

Outgoing Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has shied away from publicly endorsing a successor as his political rivals point to instability within the governing Liberals.

Mr Hodgman on Tuesday afternoon announced his shock resignation, two years out from the next state election.

He said it was the right time for new leadership, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and children after nearly 18 years in politics.

The state Liberals will next week elect a new party leader who’ll become Tasmania’s 46th premier.

The logical frontrunners are long-term Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff and fellow senior minister and Treasurer Peter Gutwein.

Mr Hodgman will himself vote on the next party leader before stepping down.

“I’m not presuming to endorse anyone,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“Jeremy Rockliff is not only a wonderful deputy but he’s a mate. (But) I’ll let my colleagues speak for themselves on these matters.”

Labor opposition leader Rebecca White said Mr Hodgman’s resignation came as a surprise to her and has left the party vulnerable.

“There is clearly some instability and tension internally. They’re taking a week to decide who is going to become the new next leader,” she said.

Mr Hodgman, who swept to power in 2014 and toppled 16 years of Labor government, has hailed Tasmania’s strong economy as among his top achievements.

But those successes have been offset by a shortage of affordable housing, lengthy hospital waiting lists and questions about how the island best manages a tourism boom.

“Whoever it is has got a big job ahead of them,” Ms White said.

“This government has let a lot people down. If you look at our health and housing system.

“There’s a real challenge ahead to ensure some of the economic indicators are transitioned across to improving social indicators, so that all people are able to benefit.”

Greens leader Cassy O’Conner described Mr Rockliff as someone with a “big heart” and her preference.

Mr Hodgman, first elected to parliament in 2002 as a member in the seat of Franklin, said he only finalised his decision to step down in the past few days.

“I do regret any disappointment or if in any way it causes a disruption to what we’re doing .. but it won’t,” he added.

Mr Hodgman, who was appointed leader of the state Liberals in 2006, comes from a line of Liberal politicians with his father and grandfather also serving in state parliament.

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