FORMER Labor premier Paul Lennon yesterday called for Premier David Bartlett to hand his Education portfolio to Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim.
Mr Bartlett’s predecessor said giving the Greens a ministry in the new Labor minority Government would help secure stability for the Government and give the Greens greater accountability.
Mr Lennon dismissed the differences between Labor and the Greens regarding Labor’s Tasmania Tomorrow reforms as “minor issues” and said the two parties had much in common more broadly in terms of education.
“More important is the commitment to public education that Labor and the Greens have,” he said.
“At the end of the day, (Tasmania Tomorrow) needs to be sorted out in the interests of students, and I’m sure it will be sorted out in the interests of students.
“We’re in uncertain times … It is the responsibility of all members of the House to accept the result and provide the stability that they all say they want to provide.”
Mr Lennon said a formal agreement between Labor and the Greens was not necessary to make his suggestion work.
Mercury: Labor faces education battle
THE axing of the Tasmania Tomorrow school reforms is set to become the first battleground for the new government.
Greens leader Nick McKim, who campaigned heavily on reinstating the state’s former college and TAFE system, signalled yesterday he would act very quickly after Parliament resumes to unravel the loathed new Academy, Polytechnic and Skills Tasmania system.
Premier David Bartlett also conceded yesterday he might have to give way and drop his unpopular senior secondary reforms if he wanted the minority parliament to work.
The reforms could start to be scrapped from the middle of this year, with the combined college system reinstated for the 2011 school year.
Mr Bartlett also hinted he would not retain the education portfolio in his second spell as Premier.
Meanwhile, The Australian will have none of it:
The Tasmanian Greens have no right to ask for anything
DESPITE coming second at the ballot box, Labor leader David Bartlett is again Premier of Tasmania, thanks to the unsought support of the state’s Greens. This is an untidy end to an untidy election that has the Greens, who won just 20 per cent of the vote, effectively picking the premier. Liberal leader Will Hodgman has every right to feel robbed. While the Liberals and Labor tied with 10 seats each (the Greens have five) Mr Hodgman won the biggest share of the popular vote and, as Mr Bartlett said before the election, in the event of a hung parliament the party with the most votes had the strongest claim on government. But Governor Peter Underwood was obliged to ask the leader with the best chance of commanding a majority on the floor of the House to form a government and the Greens backed Labor. That Greens leader Nick McKim was in a position to play the kingmaker is unfortunate. Since last month’s election he has attempted to bully the major parties into dealing him into government – efforts rightly rebuffed by both leaders. Even now, his promise to support Labor in the legislature is contingent on the Liberals not offering the Greens a power-sharing deal. But Tasmanians should be relieved that while they are having a premier imposed on them by a clique of environmental activists, at least he is a competent leader; The Australian endorsed Mr Bartlett.
The challenge for Mr Bartlett is to act as if he had a record majority and ignore the Greens, who have no mandate to govern. Both major-party leaders made it clear in the campaign that they would not negotiate with the Greens leader whatever occurred and while Mr McKim may have plans to put the pressure on in parliament, Mr Bartlett will be wise to defy him, in Labor and the state’s interest. Every Tasmanian who remembers state politics between 1989 and 1992 understands why. Back then, the Greens attempted to impose their ideology on Labor’s Michael Field as the price for keeping his minority government in power. The result was a disaster, making the state all but ungovernable. Although the Greens enjoy strong support among Tasmanians with safe jobs in the professions and public service, the party is poison for people who know their family’s future depends on developing the state’s abundant natural resources. The irony for the ambitious Mr McKim is the ideology that made him an MP also excludes him from office.
It is now up to Mr Bartlett to make the most of the opportunity the voters did not think Labor deserved by pushing on with programs that generate jobs. And if it upsets the Greens, tough. Mr McKim has promised to support Labor in parliament except in cases of corruption or maladministration – or if the Liberals make him a better offer. On this basis, it is hard to imagine how Mr McKim could ever claim a development proposal he disliked gave him the right to withdraw support in parliament. And Mr Hodgman would be wise not to sup with the Greens in any other than extreme circumstances. The reason he said he would do no deals with the Greens still applies. The job for the two main party leaders is to work so hard that only environmental eccentrics will feel the need to vote Green at the next election.