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How will Greens, ALP power-sharing work this time?

By John Hargreaves - 24 October 2016 10

ACT Legislative Assembly chamber

So the outcome is a 12/11/2 split. This is a bad result for the Liberals, but note it is only bad, not a disaster.  It shows yet again that locally, this is essentially a two horse town with a left bias. 

In 2012, the Libs and Labor got 50% of the seats with the balance going to the left leaning Greens Party, delivering government to Labor.

Yet again, in 2016, Hare-Clark has delivered a minority government.  D’Hondt did it before Hare-Clark and only in 2004/2008 was there a majority government here.

It quite clearly shows that the normal situation on governance is that the governing party will do so with one seat less than a majority, but one seat more than the other major party and will need the support of the crossbench to assure passage of the Budget and to support the government in the case of a lack of confidence motion in the Chief Minister. 

The invoice for this support in 2012/2016 was a ministry for the sole Green. Why the Greens were only entitled to a Speaker’s position in 2008/2012 remains a mystery to me. In a coalition, and it went by another name then, the junior party with 4 seats measured against the senior party with 7 out of a total of 17 seats, would normally be entitled to 2 ministries out of 5. But that was not to be.

Back to this one, and I predicted this ratio back in June 2002 when on a Standing Committee looking into the appropriate size of the Assembly.  I refer readers to my dissenting report at page 63 of that report. It can be found at http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/375776/la04sizeoflegass.pdf.

At that time, I worried about the exercise of Executive authority where a ministry had more members than the backbench and thus rendered the backbench irrelevant to the process.  Having a non-governing party member of a Cabinet meant that the power wielded by the majority in Cabinet, in those days 3 out of 5, rendered the lesser 2 members of the Cabinet irrelevant also, and thus the town was ruled by a group of three and if the non-governing party member of Cabinet was part of that three, then disproportionate power was wielded by someone with a very small part of the overall ACT vote.

I don’t see any change to this in the coming four years with the exception that the Cabinet will ultimately be 7 out of Labor’s 12 but in reality, I predict that Mr Rattenbury will be a minister again. This raises an interesting position.

Labor will have up to 6 members of its 12 in the ministry.  This means that in the Caucus, any proposal has to be won on its merits, because any vote for passage could go down because the vote could possibly be tied at 6 each.

The same in the Greens Party Room with 1 vote each.

But … overall, if there were to be a joint party room vote and I can’t see this happening, the Cabinet would be 7 votes out of 14 and thus an equal vote for the Cabinet and the backbench.  But, if the Greens voted as a block, the votes would be 8 votes to a Labor backbench of 6 and thus Labor’s backbench would be irrelevant.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall during the discussions on the nature of the relationship between the Labor Party and the Greens on power sharing.

If it were me, I would claim a mandate to govern as the majority party on the floor of the Chamber, give the Greens nothing and see if they would go to the Liberals.  If they did, there would be a huge rank and file uprising in the Greens membership.

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
How will Greens, ALP power-sharing work this time?
1
justin heywood 9:04 am
24 Oct 16
#

John Hargreaves said:
…If it were me, I would claim a mandate to govern as the majority party on the floor of the Chamber, give the Greens nothing and see if they would go to the Liberals. If they did, there would be a huge rank and file uprising in the Greens membership.’

Precisely. It beats me why there had to be a ‘deal’ with the Greens the last time. It’s not as if the supporting the Libs was ever a serious option for the Greens.

2
dungfungus 9:24 am
24 Oct 16
#

That headline suggesting the power-sharing actually “worked” last time is a big call.

3
Garfield 10:53 am
24 Oct 16
#

My guess is it will be Rattenbury with a ministry and Le Couteur on the cross-bench. The reason to give the Greens something when there’s no real need to is the same reason the federal Libs give the Nats things when they have the numbers to govern in their own right – so that when results are closer, there is less incentive for the smaller party to seriously contemplate the other side.

4
bikhet 10:59 am
24 Oct 16
#

Spot on John! That would be the best possible outcome, with benefits for both the public and the Greens – possibly the Liberals too.

The Greens could still support Labor when the policy was sensible, and sensibly implemented, but could oppose Labor when the policy was a dog. The Greens could thus present themselves as being progressive, but also as holding the Government to account.

The Liberals might learn that there’s no point in opposing simply for the sake of opposing, and that when opposition is sensible it might actually have a result.

Oh, wait. It’ll never happen as there’s no benefit for Labor. Better to lock the Greens in with Cabinet solidarity and continue to govern without any accountability.

5
rommeldog56 9:30 am
25 Oct 16
#

Rattenburry wont want to give up the trappings of an ACT Govt Ministership (which he can use to directly push his green agenda), nor the salary that goes along with it.

6
HiddenDragon 4:46 pm
25 Oct 16
#

Tempting as the prospect of a ministry may be, the Greens would be doing the community a genuine service if they both stay on the cross-bench and work to keep the Government honest, particularly regarding the establishment and staffing of an ACT ICAC.

7
rommeldog56 7:31 am
26 Oct 16
#

HiddenDragon said :

Tempting as the prospect of a ministry may be, the Greens would be doing the community a genuine service if they both stay on the cross-bench and work to keep the Government honest, particularly regarding the establishment and staffing of an ACT ICAC.

Exactly. However, either way, if an ACT ICAC style investigative type system ever sees the light of day, it will be very interesting to see what the terms of reference and powers will be (which, presumably, the ACT Greens need to agree to). My bet is that it will be an expensive toothless tiger.

8
dungfungus 10:38 am
26 Oct 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

HiddenDragon said :

Tempting as the prospect of a ministry may be, the Greens would be doing the community a genuine service if they both stay on the cross-bench and work to keep the Government honest, particularly regarding the establishment and staffing of an ACT ICAC.

Exactly. However, either way, if an ACT ICAC style investigative type system ever sees the light of day, it will be very interesting to see what the terms of reference and powers will be (which, presumably, the ACT Greens need to agree to).

My bet is that it will be an expensive toothless tiger.

It certainly will be useless but its function and the outcome isn’t important.

What is important is that it will give our tin-pot Territory government another directorate with lots of Labor voting staff and budget.

9
Garfield 1:07 pm
26 Oct 16
#

rommeldog56 said :

HiddenDragon said :

Tempting as the prospect of a ministry may be, the Greens would be doing the community a genuine service if they both stay on the cross-bench and work to keep the Government honest, particularly regarding the establishment and staffing of an ACT ICAC.

Exactly. However, either way, if an ACT ICAC style investigative type system ever sees the light of day, it will be very interesting to see what the terms of reference and powers will be (which, presumably, the ACT Greens need to agree to).

My bet is that it will be an expensive toothless tiger.

The Greens will need to agree with either Labor or the Liberals to get their anti-corruption body created. Given that neither of the majors were keen on it originally, there’s always the possibility they will cooperate to create a toothless version. Its not like they haven’t done it before, agreeing to quadruple public funding and scrap caps on donations over the objections of the Greens. These types of areas are about the only ones where I’m more in agreement with the Greens than the Libs.

10
gooterz 12:22 am
28 Oct 16
#

Libs and greens should gang up and fix the poker machines. This helps everyone but Labor.

The way it will likely work is something is given to the greens for something either party wants. Means greens effectively have a 50% vote.

Not what labor voted for? Should have voted a few more independants.

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