ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr plans to give up the powerful Treasury portfolio at some point during the next term of government, as he ponders his next cabinet and the shape of the Labor-Green alliance in the wake of Saturday’s resounding election win.
Mr Barr told Region Media there would be some room for movement in the Cabinet post-election, but most key positions would stay as they are – except probably planning.
“I will stay as Treasurer to deliver the immediate budget and probably the next one, but I wouldn’t intend to stay Treasurer for the entire term,” he said.
Mr Barr did not say who might be favoured to take on that role.
He said he wants ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury in Cabinet, but it depends on whether the expanded Greens team, which has to consult with its party membership, opts for the cross bench or a renewed alliance.
“I value his contribution in the Cabinet room and my preference is that his party lets him sit in Cabinet,” said Mr Barr.
However, despite the increased Green numbers, Mr Rattenbury will not be considered for Deputy Chief Minister, which will stay with Yvette Berry.
“Having two blokes in the top two positions is not a good look – also two from the same electorate,” said Mr Barr.
He was also not disposed to an extra Greens minister, at least not immediately.
Mr Barr argued that moving straight into a ministry after being elected would be a big ask.
“It doesn’t preclude someone becoming a minister later on, and I’ve got the flexibility with both the size of the ministry and other decisions to effectively reserve a spot at a mid-term reshuffle for a future Greens minister,” he said.
Mr Barr said former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope threw him in the deep end in 2006, when his first job was to close schools.
“I’m not going to do that to someone,” he said.
How that sits with the ambitious Greens remains to be seen.
Mr Barr said planning, climate change and energy policy, and housing are all on the table, all of which mixes in with planning and land management, at present with Mick Gentleman.
While Mr Gentleman may lose those responsibilities, his strong vote in Brindabella and his work during the bushfires would mean he would retain emergency services.
But a big Cabinet headache looms if Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay goes down in Ginninderra, where he is locked in a tight battle with the Liberals’ Peter Cain.
“I’m sweating on Gordon in Ginninderra,” said Mr Barr. “The Assembly needs people such as Gordon Ramsay.”
The Cabinet also needs someone with a legal background.
Mr Barr said there is plenty of policy overlap with the Greens to find common ground, but the question of infill versus greenfield development will need to be resolved, as well as a more staged withdrawal from gas in the ACT.
But he acknowledged the strong Green vote, which Labor polling had predicted, and the reciprocal role of preferences, pointing to this government taking on an even greener hue than before.
As the count proceeds, a cautious Mr Barr expects the Liberal vote to improve as more paper ballots are processed, and he is preferring to wait until the counting is done.
He could even see the Liberals’ Candice Burch recovering to thwart the Greens’ Rebecca Vassarotti in Kurrajong, despite it being given to her.
Two seats remain officially undecided: Ginninderra and Brindabella.
It looks as if the Greens’ Jo Clay has grabbed the fourth spot in Ginninderra, with Mr Ramsay and Mr Cain fighting it out for the fifth.
In Brindabella, Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings is neck and neck with the Greens’ Johnathan Davis.
The Canberra Liberals said leader Alistair Coe would not be addressing his leadership until the count is finalised.