Premier Jeremy Rockliff has broken the news of the resignation of Tasmanian Attorney-General and Justice Minister Elise Archer. This followed a hasty press conference in Launceston, where Rockliff confirmed that he had asked for and received Archer’s formal resignation. This pivotal decision will see Archer also parting from her duties in parliament.
The retreat by Archer comes in the wake of an independent investigation emerging which alleges a history of bullying behaviour from the embattled former minister. Furthermore, controversial WhatsApp messages, leaked to Australian media outlet The Australian, exposed Archer’s seeming lack of respect towards Rockliff and other members of her party. She was caught referring to Rockliff as “gutless” and castigated her predecessor Peter Gutwein’s “glass jaw”.
This departure will impact the Tasmanian Liberal government’s majority, reducing the party’s seat count to 10 out of the 25 in the state’s House of Assembly. Underlining the implications of this, Rockliff cited the ministerial code of conduct and emphasized that he held high expectations for his cabinet, stating that Archer’s comments fell significantly short of the standards expected of a minister of the Crown.
He further articulated his vision for his government by declaring, “A change of culture in Tasmania is absolutely paramount… It requires leadership and accountability and I intend to demonstrate that.”
The Premier assured that an announcement on the appointment of a new minister would be made in the forthcoming days.
Archer, on her turn, took to Facebook to thank her followers and constituents. She wrote, “It has been my deep honour and privilege to serve the people of Tasmania. Today, I have resigned as a Minister of the Crown and from the Liberal Party. It is also my intention to notify Her Excellency of my resignation from the Parliament of Tasmania as a Member for Clark.”
In her posts, Archer claimed that the Liberal Party’s leadership had consistently failed to support ambitious women like herself. She touched on the struggles and pressures women face in the political realm in striving for parity with their male counterparts.
Archer’s departure instigates a recount in the electorate of Clark. However, it is anticipated that the Liberal Party will triumph, retaining its 11 seats in the lower house. To look back at the former Minister’s political journey, Archer was elected as Member for Clark in 2010, and later became the first female speaker in the state’s House of Assembly.