UPDATED 1:45 pm: The ACT Opposition has today given notice it will move a no-confidence motion in Chief Minister Andrew Barr on the grounds he has lost supply from his Greens colleagues.
Convention and protocol dictate at least a week’s warning is required before the motion can be debated in the Assembly.
Following the notice this morning, the Assembly agreed to sit at 9 am on Monday, 15 August, to debate the motion. These debates are generally lengthy and the motion is ultimately expected to be blocked by Labor and the Greens.
The Liberals have based their motion on a statement from the ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury in which he said the party would seek to amend the Territory Budget and remove its $41 million subsidy to the horse racing industry.
But Mr Rattenbury this morning said the Liberals were “mischief-making” and the Greens were supportive of the Budget overall.
“It’s a clear disagreement over one item of expenditure … it reflects a maturity of the government in recognising there are things we disagree with at times,” he said.
He said the party was not withdrawing either confidence or supply in the government and accused the Liberals of “overreach”.
Mr Rattenbury further noted said the ball was firmly in the Opposition’s court if it wanted to vote with the Greens to amend the ACT Budget.
“The Liberals will find themselves in the balance of power … it could get up if they want.”
The Canberra Liberals’ position on horse racing is well known.
Opposition spokesperson for gaming and racing Mark Parton will today call on the government to move revenue from the Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) revenue to the racing codes.
Ms Lee didn’t respond to a question about whether her party would support the Greens and have their amendment passed.
She did accuse the Greens – who are bound by the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement not to support no-confidence motions under most circumstances – of cherry-picking which parts of that agreement they stick by.
8 am: Canberra Liberals Leader Elizabeth Lee will today move a motion of no-confidence in the Chief Minister following the release of the Budget yesterday (2 August).
Ms Lee said it came in response to Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury’s “extraordinary statement” in which he said he would vote against one of the items of expenditure from the Budget on the floor of the Assembly for the first time.
The Opposition Leader has argued this statement showed Mr Barr could not guarantee supply.
Following the delivery of the Budget yesterday, Mr Rattenbury said the ACT Greens did not support “some elements of this budget”, including the $41 million subsidy from taxpayers to the horse racing industry.
“The Budget is supposed to reflect what we value as a community and the future we want to build together. I am confident the community would prefer this $41 million to go to public housing and homelessness, or mental health support, or climate change adaptation, or public transport, or any measure of other things,” Mr Rattenbury said.
The issue of government funding to the horse racing industry has previously split the cabinet.
Mr Barr has this morning described the move as both “pathetically weak” and no surprise. He also claimed the Opposition is attempting to avoid having to give a budget reply.
“All the Canberra Liberals are seeking to do today is distract and play politics,” he said.
“This is not a surprise, though. It’s just the same old approach from the Canberra Liberals. Nothing has changed. They haven’t developed a credible fiscal alternative and they have no policy ideas that they want to bring to the table,” Mr Barr said.
This week, the Chief Minister rejected calls from the Opposition to conduct an independent budget audit, arguing that Ms Lee must outline where she’d like to cut spending.
But Ms Lee said Mr Barr had lost control of his “deeply divided” Cabinet and government.
“As Leader of the Greens, Cabinet member, and Expenditure Review Committee member, Mr Rattenbury helped to pull this budget together,” Ms Lee said.
“For him to now indicate that he does not fully support the Budget is in stark contravention of Cabinet solidarity, his role as a government minister, and the contents of the Labor-Greens Parliamentary and Governing Agreement.”
“For Government Ministers to indicate that they will not support the Government’s Budget is untenable. It is a shambolic mess,” Ms Lee said.
“The Opposition has lost confidence in the Chief Minister’s ability to guarantee supply and deliver a stable coalition government and it seems now the Greens have too.”
The governing agreement between Labor and the Greens means they are unable to “support any opposition no-confidence motions, except in instances of proven corruption, conduct that threatens public confidence in the integrity of government or public administration, gross negligence, or significant and intentional non-adherence to this agreement”.