Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Politics

McKim details plans for hung Parliament

Barry Prismall 23/02/2009 12:24:00 PM
THE Greens have flagged demands for tougher pulp mill environmental guidelines, more forest protection and ministries with freedom to dissent if there is a hung Parliament in March next year.
In an exclusive interview, Greens leader Nick McKim has also detailed how the Greens would guarantee to pass the Budget each year. They would only vote to bring down the Government if there was a major breach of the minority government agreement, proven corruption or official misconduct. Mr McKim would not rule out an accord or coalition with a major party and while he said he did not covet the Deputy Premier role, the Greens would accept Cabinet posts as long as Green ministers could still oppose government policy in Parliament. The Greens’ bargaining tools also include tax cuts for small business, more funds for housing and the homeless and a new integrity commission to scrutinise government. Mr McKim has signalled a pragmatic shift in the Greens’ approach to minority government, conceding that they may have to compromise on their agenda, and pledging not to shut down the forestry or mining industries. “In Western Australia the Nationals have taken Ministries (in the Liberal Government) and there are certain aspects which have been agreed to in terms of the National ministers not being bound by Cabinet solidarity,” Mr McKim said. “In other words they can go into Cabinet, make their arguments, vote the way they wish to, and if they lose they can come out and vote against the policy on the floor of the House. “It moves decision making out from behind closed doors and puts it on the floor of the Parliament. “We understand that in a power-sharing situation all parties have to compromise, and I accept that we would not be able to deliver on all the policies the Greens hold,” he said. “I challenge both Premier David Bartlett and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to indicate their willingness to negotiate with the Greens in the event of a power sharing arrangement.”
Read more here
What the Greens say …

GREENS PLEDGE ON BUDGET STABILITY
But Will Labor and Liberals Act as Responsibly?
Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader
Monday, 23 February 2009

www.tas.greens.org.au
The Tasmanian Greens MPs today signed a pledge to the Tasmanian people, committing not to vote to block Budget Bills in a power sharing Parliament after the next State election, and challenged Liberal and Labor MPs to make the same commitment.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the Greens’ pledge to guarantee not to vote against Budget Bills is based on an acknowledgement of the community’s desire for stable government, and a commitment to act responsibly in the event that Tasmanian voters elect a power-sharing Parliament.

“We understand the need for stability. We will act responsibly in a power-sharing Parliament, and we will not vote against the State Budget. That is our commitment to the Tasmanian people,” Mr McKim said.

“This means that Tasmanians can have confidence in Budget stability if they choose not to elect a majority government at the next election.”

“We Greens are committed to acting responsibly and constructively in whatever Parliament the Tasmanian people elect. It’s a real shame that so far we have not heard the same pledge from either Mr Bartlett or Mr Hodgman.”

Mr McKim said that the notion that majority government guarantees good outcomes for Tasmania has been comprehensively disproven since the last election.

“Since Labor was elected in 2006 to govern in majority we have seen the most unstable period of government in Tasmania’s recent history. Absolute power in Labor’s hands has delivered absolutely shocking outcomes for Tasmania.”

“A power-sharing Parliament saved the Hydro from being privatised, and began the debt-reduction strategy which today sees Tasmania general government net debt free. The Greens believe that a power sharing arrangement in the future would deliver similar benefits for Tasmania.”

“The challenge now facing Mr Bartlett and Mr Hodgman is whether they are prepared to act with the same maturity and consideration of the will of the people as are the Greens, particularly since the only people currently in the State Parliament who previously have voted to block Supply are on the Labor benches.”

And,

BARTLETT CHALLENGED TO PUBLIC DEBATE ON POWER-SHARING
Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader
Tuesday, 24 February 2009

www.tas.greens.org.au
The Tasmanian Greens today challenged Premier David Bartlett to debate the issue of power-sharing responsibly, rather than indulge in immature rants which refuse to address a very serious issue for Tasmania.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP described Mr Bartlett’s contention that, “Every hung Parliament has resulted in 10 000 job losses” as complete hogwash and challenged Mr Bartlett to a public debate on the issue.

“Mr Bartlett is seeking to divide the Tasmanian community by running a fear campaign designed to maintain Labor’s grasp on power,” Mr McKim said.

“Tasmania is unfortunately losing jobs right now. Does Mr Bartlett blame the current majority government for that?”

“Tasmanians expect a mature approach from political leaders, not the kind of infantile tantrums that we saw from Mr Bartlett yesterday.”

“A power sharing Parliament saved the Hydro, and a power sharing Parliament began Tasmania’s debt reduction strategy. Mr Bartlett should acknowledge those positive outcomes and debate the whole issue of power-sharing more maturely.”

“I will debate Mr Bartlett on this issue any time if he has the courage to attend,” Mr McKim said

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Cameron

    February 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Indeed Brian. I was a pulp mill protest outside the Novotel in Launceston, while Lord Michael of the Perfect Hair was still representing Bass (or whatever it was he did in Canberra); and his Lordship turned up, as we had timed the protest to coincide with the start of a Liberal dinner in the hotel.

    Michael started chatting to us, and while one lady was telling him why the pulp was such a bad idea he fixed her with a lopsided grin (supposed to be charming, I think) and said, ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ I wish I was joking.

    Oh, he’ll be a real asset. Don’t you worry about that.

  2. Alex Wadsley

    February 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    re 6# I agree that agreements are not a guarantee of stability, but that is because stability lies not in the power of the Greens, but with the Liberal or Labor parties standing by their agreements.

    A party of 4 members can’t guarantee ‘stability’ in a house of 25 members. But neither can any party, given that the ruling Labor party has lost 2 members for Franklin, and 2 members for Braddon are in disgrace. The ‘stability of majority’ has simply bred the instability of arrogance.

    If the fundamental concern is ‘stability’ then the only democratic solution is an executive government that is not determined by the House of Assembly but by direct election of an executive Governor,.. less democratically we could start banning political parties so that only 2 (or possibly 1) are allowed to contest elections.

    The question of whether the Greens could hold ‘disproportionate’ power is simply one of opinion. For 10 years, a party representing 50-55% of the electorate has ruled with 90% of the power, constrained only occasionally by the Legislative Council. If for 3-4 years a party of 4 members determined 30% of the agenda on behalf of 15% of the electorate, similary constrained by the legislative council, one would find that over a long period of say 20 years, the impact of the Greens would still be less than proportional to their vote. It would only be if a Green coalition formed a permanent majority would significant policy input become ‘disproportional’. We could both agree that such an outcome is unlikely, but ironically it would also imply a level of stability.

    Some people appear to believe that minor parties wielding any influence is ‘disproportional’, but that is simply the bias that comes from a system whereby the 45-50% of the electorate that didn’t vote for the party in majority is continuously excluded.

  3. Brian

    February 24, 2009 at 4:44 am

    No Cameron, Michael ferguson just gives me the creeps. He turned up once uninvited to a gathering of Vietnam Veterans and Peacekeepers, tried to shake his slimy hand and limp wrist with anyone who he could get near, using a solemn and significant occasion to try and get popularity points with potential voters. He’s disrespectful to the Veteran community and he’s a creep!

  4. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 24, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Re #4 the idea of trading support for policy initiatives was the basis of the 1989 Accord. The hazard of such an arrangement (as demonstrated) was that a Government may agree to deals to get into government that it either does not intend to honour or else decides later it cannot honour, so such deals are not necessarily proof against instability.

    Furthermore, to go into the election stating that the basis on which no confidence motions would be ruled out would be determined after the election would not guarantee stability even if such agreements were certain to be honoured. After all, there is no guarantee in such circumstances that either party would be willing to agree to enough of the Greens’ platform to get their agreement not to move a no-confidence motion.

    I agree that ruling out motions of no confidence on policy agreements would be disempowering. The problem for the Greens is that unless they are willing to renounce that (disproportionate) part of their power that would come from threatening to bring a Government down, then the question of instability will continue to hang over the prospect of minority government in this state.

  5. Cameron

    February 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Everyone, calm down. There won’t be any chance of a minority government in Tasmania after the next state election–Michael Ferguson is going to mount his shining steed and save the day for the Liberals in Bass. His ego alone will occupy several seats in the Lower House, if he’s elected.

    Doesn’t that make you all feel so much better about our immediate political future?

  6. Alex Wadsley

    February 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    re: #3

    Kevin, while I agree with much of your analysis on ‘why-minority-government-matters’ it would seem pointless for any party to rule out ‘motions of no confidence’. It would be a declaration of political impotence of the same order as declaring that one would rule in majority or not at all.

    The use of such motions should be governed not by some pre-election rule but by the post-election negotiations on the formation of government. The ‘no confidence’ motion must be traded for policy initiatives.

    The difference with supply is that the government and particularly the public servants need supply to continue to work and live. You don’t threaten that under any circumstances.

    Confidence is about the political ability to govern and the sort of decisions that can be made.

    A minority government can rule without any agreement with other parties, even with the threat of no confidence motions, as long as it doesn’t rock the boat. The events that have led to minority governments being thrown out have all been self-inflicted political gambits. The minority government thinks it can gain politically from playing hard ball with the greens, but so far it is the Opposition that has been victorious. I suspect the main difference between European minority governments and Tasmania is that in Europe they have a better sense of what gambits might work and that most do not.

    Given that Bartlett is already recycling old Labor, Green and Liberal vision announcements, I suspect he will similarly try to recycle Lennon’s election platform. Given the threat of recession the minority issue may have traction, which is why Messrs Hodgman and Mckim are right to defuse it.

  7. Marrette Corby

    February 23, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Dear Editor

    It can definitely be seen that the Tasmanian Greens want to be in a responsible Non-majority government. The newspapers and television have reported how the Greens will not block supply and will endeavour to work with the elected government to represent their constituents. Surely this is the way to guarantee a responsible government, unlike the one Tasmania presently has. Mr Bartlett and other members of his government seem all too willing and able to bend or change the rules for large corporations such as Gunns, at the drop of a hat.

    Yours sincerely
    (Ms) Marrette Corby

  8. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 23, 2009 at 4:50 am

    In a piece about Tasmania’s distinctive minority government problem at,

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/why-minority-government-matters/

    I argued that the Greens can only effectively defuse the charge of potential instability if they agree to “neither move nor support any motion of no confidence or any blocking of supply (except in specified extreme cases such as a court finding of illegal activity).”

    This press release rules out the blocking of supply but says absolutely nothing about the moving or supporting of motions of no confidence.
    As such it is only a partial solution and if the Greens want to be really convincing they need to go further. However, as I argued in my most recent article,

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/labor-solid-in-latest-poll/

    it is not clear that minority government will again be an election issue.

  9. Dismord

    February 23, 2009 at 3:14 am

    All very logical on the surface but obviously Mr McKim has forgotten he’d dealing with thugs on both sides of the house.

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