Liberal candidate 'decided to resign', after emergence of video

Premier Peter Gutwein says controversial Franklin Liberal candidate Dean Ewington (inset, left) has 'decided to resign'. Picture: Facebook/Phillip Biggs
Premier Peter Gutwein says controversial Franklin Liberal candidate Dean Ewington (inset, left) has 'decided to resign'. Picture: Facebook/Phillip Biggs

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein says Dean Ewington has "decided to resign" as a Liberal candidate for the state election, after a video of him questioning the Tasmanian government's public health restrictions emerged on Wednesday.

Mr Ewington, a Clarence alderman, who was announced 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 and it's stopped some of the deaths that have occurred in Victoria".

But he then went on to criticise the "silly restrictions" imposed on Tasmanians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I know the politicians and bureaucrats and public health officials might mean well but the reality is ... I think we've reached that stage where we're going to be doing more harm than good," he said.

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Later in the video, he said: "We live in a free society. 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. 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 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". Ms Thunberg is on the autism spectrum, which she has discussed publicly.

Speaking at a media conference in Derwent Park on Wednesday morning, Mr Gutwein stopped short of saying he would be sacking Mr Ewington as a Liberal candidate.

"I'll obviously be having a conversation with Mr Ewington later today," the Premier said.

"My views on the pandemic are very clear. The government has done everything that it possibly can to ensure that we keep people safe and we'll continue to do that."

Mr Gutwein said he wasn't aware of Mr Ewington's video until he watched it on Tuesday night.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Gutwein confirmed that Mr Ewington had "decided to resign".

The ABC reported that Mr Ewington posted a now-deleted video from an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne earlier this month, prior to being preselected.

Labor had called on Mr Gutwein to sack the Clarence alderman 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.

This story Liberal candidate 'decided to resign', after emergence of video first appeared on The Examiner.