A Tasmanian government minister recovering in hospital from a suicide
attempt says the premier’s decision to sack her is deeply distressing
and shows a lack of support and understanding.

Premier David Bartlett on Friday sacked Paula Wriedt from her tourism and economic development portfolio after she refused to resign at a meeting with him on Thursday.

Wriedt, 39, a mother of two, attempted suicide early last month as a sex scandal involving her and her ministerial driver Ben Chaffey was set to become public. She was estranged from her husband at the time.

On Friday she said she was “deeply distressed by her abrupt sacking from cabinet”.

Bartlett had shown a lack of support and understanding towards her, she said.

She said she had asked him for two more weeks to decide her parliamentary future but he refused.

“I am deeply distressed by his refusal to do so, and am concerned by the premier’s apparent lack of support and understanding,” she said in a statement released shortly after Bartlett announced her sacking.

“I have been a hard-working member of the government for the last 10 years as a minister, holding several senior portfolios during this time, as well as juggling the demands of family life.

“As I have previously stated I accept responsibility for my actions and the hurt they have caused.

“I regret not having sought help earlier for my depression.”

Wriedt said depression is a difficult and challenging illness but there’s no reason she can’t completely recover and return to work.

“Obviously I was not expecting that I would be given an indefinite period to recover and consider my future, however I firmly believe that two more weeks was reasonable given the circumstances,” she said.

“I asked the premier for another fortnight in which to continue with my recovery and then make a decision, however he was unwilling to allow this additional time.

“He said that given my refusal to offer my resignation yesterday he had no option but to sack me.”

Shortly after her August 4 breakdown Bartlett reallocated Wriedt’s cabinet portfolios, allowing himself four weeks to make a decision on her governmental responsibilities.

That deadline passed on Monday.

After she refused to resign on Friday, Bartlett said he was forced to make a decision he believed was in her best interests and in the best interests of good government in Tasmania.

He had to ask the state’s Governor Peter Underwood to intervene and withdraw Wriedt’s ministerial commission.

Bartlett said Wriedt had been a good minister.

“I believe there is a way back to a ministerial position for Paula in the future,” he told reporters today.

“However, at this stage, I believe Paula needs to focus on her own health and wellbeing over the months ahead.”

The decision has polarised public opinion on talkback radio and news website chatrooms.