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Tom Baxter, right, with Nick McKim

Corporate governance lecturer and former lawyer Tom Baxter is the endorsed Greens candidate for the Tasmanian Upper House seat of Nelson.

Announcing his candidacy today, Mr Baxter said his first priority would be reform of the Legislative Council.

“If elected, I pledge that on my first day in Parliament I will move to reform our Upper House,” Mr Baxter said.

“Unlike the incumbent, I will also dedicate myself full time to representing the people of Nelson.

“Tasmania’s Legislative Council has greater powers than any Upper House in Australia. Most recently it used these powers to hold Tasmania back by blocking marriage equality and the Tasmanian Forests Agreement legislation.

“I have particular concerns about its ability to block a State Budget, and force the Lower House to an election, without facing the people itself.

“An Upper House taking the radical step of blocking supply should also answer to the public. Any MLCs who would deny firefighters, police, nurses and teachers their pay must have the courage of their convictions.

“This could be resolved either by dissolving both Houses of Parliament if the Upper House blocks a Budget, or by introducing a suspensory veto as advocated by respected political scientist Dr Richard Herr and others.”

Mr Baxter would become the first Greens member of a Legislative Council dominated by conservative MLCs who last year rejected the Lower House’s Same Sex Marriage Bill and deferred the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill to a committee.

“I’m passionate about Tasmania, and want us to be the best we can,” he said.

“But last year’s debates on marriage equality and the forest peace agreement showed a narrow Upper House majority, including the current Member for Nelson, locked into last century thinking.

“Like many Tasmanians, I was very disappointed when the marriage equality legislation was narrowly voted down, including by the incumbent Member for Nelson.

“By blocking same sex marriage legislation the Upper House entrenched inequality and denied Tasmania the opportunity to take the national lead and become a beacon for equality. This would have been a powerful symbol for Tasmania given our history as the last state to decriminalise homosexuality.

“In addition, economic analysis estimates the Upper House veto cost us at least $96 million over three years just on pink wedding spending, let alone associated hospitality for wedding guests and honeymoon tourism.

“The Upper House’s refusal to give the forest peace agreement a chance added insult to injury, following its decisions last year to block the ban on political donations by tobacco companies and delay returning Aboriginal land at Eddystone Point and Rebecca Creek.

“It’s time for Tasmania to heal past divisions and look toward the future, which can’t happen until we achieve real change in the Upper House.

“To do that we need Upper House members willing to adapt to changing community expectations and move with the times where needed.”

Background
Mr Baxter is a lecturer in the UTAS School of Accounting & Corporate Governance. He previously worked as a lawyer with Hobart law firm Dobson, Mitchell & Allport, then with the Australian Government.

He has degrees in Economics and Law from UTAS and a Master of Laws from the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of Chartered Secretaries Australia and has served on various boards and management committees.

He lives and works in the electorate of Nelson. He also grew up in Sandy Bay until his family moved closer to the North Hobart vet hospital where his father worked. He is 39.

About Nelson
The division of Nelson includes the suburbs of Kingston, Taroona, Sandy Bay, Dynnyrne, Mt Nelson, Tolmans Hill, Ridgeway, Fern Tree and Neika.
Incumbent Jim Wilkinson has held the seat since 1995.

The Media Release, with full links, here

Nick McKim: Greens to campaign for Legislative Council reform ... starting with Nelson

• Ritchie aims to regain seat

Philip Heyward - The Mercury
Sat 19 Jan 2013

Former Labor minister Allison Ritchie hopes to win back her former seat of Pembroke in Legislative Council elections in May.

Ms Ritchie, 38, is putting up election posters from today in a bid to reclaim the seat from Liberal incumbent Vanessa Goodwin.

She is no longer a member of the Labor Party and is running as an independent.

The former minister for planning and workplace relations served as member for Pembroke on Hobart’s Eastern shore for eight years.

In June 2009, she quit politics after ill-health.

She had been attacked for hiring family members in her electoral office but Auditor-General Mike Blake found she did not break any rules.

[The auditor-general’s inquiry was to focus on the practices in Ms Ritchie’s office, after she provided taxpayer-funded jobs to her mother, two sisters and brother-in-law.]

Yesterday Ms Ritchie said it took three years for her illness to be diagnosed as a thyroid condition, now managed with medication.

(Not online; typed by Peter)

• Background:

Inquiry order as MP Allison Ritchie resigns

by: Matthew Denholm
From:The Australian
June 23, 200912:00AM

TASMANIAN Premier David Bartlett is under pressure to adopt protocols for MPs employing family members after ordering an inquiry into the conduct of an MP who hired four.

Mr Bartlett yesterday sought an auditor-general’s inquiry into Allison Ritchie’s hiring practices after she resigned on the weekend following controversy about jobs for four family members.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquiry-order-as-mp-allison-ritchie-resigns/story-e6frg6ox-1225739441183