Last month the Tasmanian Liberal Party leader and Premier, Will Hodgman, stepped down from his respective positions after nearly 18 years serving in the Tasmanian parliament. Will Hodgman has been a stalwart in the seat of Franklin in the state’s south for close to two decades, having first been elected to the parliament in 2002. In 2006, he was elected leader of the Tasmanian Parliamentary Liberal Party and in 2014 was elected Premier of Tasmania in a resounding election victory. This victory was repeated at the state election in 2018.

Serving as Premier of Tasmania for six years, Will has been a strong advocate for our island state, leading Tasmania through six years of unprecedented economic growth and delivering policies designed to improve the lives of all Tasmanians. I had the pleasure of campaigning alongside Will during the 2018 state election as a fellow candidate in the seat of Franklin. At the time, I was, and am continually, impressed by the rapport he has with voters and his unique ability to engage with people from all walks of life, both in his local community and across our state. Tasmanians didn’t just see a man who was running to be the political leader of Tasmania; they saw a man who wanted to make a difference and a man who kept his word.

Under Will Hodgman’s leadership, our state has turned into a much stronger and more confident place, with more jobs for Tasmanians, a thriving economy and a new sense of pride and ambition for the future. There is no doubt in my mind that Will Hodgman will go down in history as one of Tasmania’s greatest ever premiers and is leaving Tasmania in a much better shape than it was after defeating the incumbent Labor-Green government at the 2014 election. Under this disastrous minority government, the state was going backwards. Young Tasmanians were leaving in droves to seek opportunities on the mainland. Ten thousand jobs were lost, and business confidence was at an all-time low. Since then, our state has come a long way. Investment is flowing. The Tasmanian Liberal government is delivering a record $3.6 billion infrastructure program, driving business confidence, attracting private investment and, most importantly, continuing to create jobs.

The Liberal Party’s historic win in 2018, delivering a second term to the Liberals, was in no small part due to Will’s strong leadership and desire to continue to deliver better outcomes for Tasmanians. Promoting Tasmania as a unique and must-see tourist destination, building on our renewable energy capacity through the Battery of the Nation projects and Marinus Link, and investing in important public infrastructure projects like schools and hospitals are just some of the legacies Will leaves behind.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Tasmania’s 46th Premier, Peter Gutwein, who I’m certain will continue to steer our state on a positive course into the future. Peter has been a longstanding Liberal member for Bass in the Tasmanian parliament, first elected in 2002 alongside Will Hodgman and serving as Treasurer when the Liberals were elected to government. Under Peter’s guidance as Treasurer, the state’s finances have turned around, investment is flowing and over 20,000 jobs have been created since we assumed office in 2014. I’m sure that this success will only continue as he takes on the role of premier and I certainly look forward to working with him alongside my federal Liberal colleagues.

On a personal note, I’ve always been very thankful for Will Hodgman’s friendship and support throughout my political career, both as a senator and as a member of the Liberal Party. I consider myself fortunate to have benefited from his mentorship over the years, as I’m sure many of my colleagues have. It was Will who first approached me and asked me to run for the state seat of Franklin in 2018, a pivotal moment in my political career which set me on the path to this place and I will always be thankful for his advice and guidance.

Will has always been a great champion of women in the Liberal Party, and I’m honoured to have worked alongside him in 2017 to develop our party’s blueprint for female engagement and to have seen that blueprint lead to a substantial increase in the number of Tasmanian Liberal women in elected office, both state and federal.

I wish Will; his wife, Nicky; and their children, William, James and Lily, all the best for this new chapter in their lives and thank Will Hodgman for all he’s given to Tasmania.