Talking Point – Minority Government


Release Date: 1/02/2018
It’s time for Tasmania’s major parties – Liberal and Labor – to grow up.

I for one, along with many of my business colleagues and personal friends, am sick of their posturing about the possibility of minority government in Tasmania.

Let me be extremely clear, the TCCI – representing the views of our members Statewide – know that majority government is best for business.

We believe that majority governments – in the State and Federally - support business confidence and allows government to deliver on the policies promised or laid out leading into the election.

And come the evening of March 3, I would like to see a majority government in Tasmania.

But the reality of democracy – one which we hold in enormous regard – is that we will be governed by the parliament that the Tasmanian community elects.

Which means if the Tasmanian voting population re-elects the three sitting Green members and a Jacquie Lambie candidate, we could be headed for minority again, following the Labor-Green “arrangement” from 2010-2014.

And while there are many Tasmanians, myself included, who thought that period of government was not good for the State, that was what was delivered.

There are many examples of minority government in Australia, at State and Federal levels … some with considerable success.

Perhaps one of the most famous was the first election of Victorian Premier Steve Bracks in 1999, when his opponent, the then Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett lost the “unlosable” election.

Bracks formed Government with an independent politician from a Victorian country electorate. Labor went on to win the next two elections outright with Bracks and then John Brumby as Premiers.

In Tasmania, those of us of a certain age can remember the first true minority government in this State, when Labor Premier Michael Field and five Green Independent Members - Bob Brown, Gerry Bates, Dianne Hollister, Lance Armstrong and Christine Milne – formed government in May 1989.

And on the other side of Tasmanian politics, Liberal Premier Tony Rundle formed agreement with the Green to govern in 1996.

On a Federal level, in 2010 the ALP and the Coalition emerged with 72 seats each in the House of Representatives. Each side therefore required the support of four extra members to reach majority in the House. Labor leader Julia Gillard secured an early agreement with the Greens Adam Bandt and ultimately the agreement of three of the four independents, Tony Windsor, Robert Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie, to reach the requisite 76 votes.

The bottom line is that it is the responsibility of those elected to try to form government - Her Excellency, Professor The Honourable Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania will demand it and the Tasmania people deserve it.

Recently the Board of the TCCI discussed the prerequisites of any agreement with minor parties should Liberal or Labor be faced with this election outcome.

The Board’s thinking was:

  1. That the minor party should not receive a ministry
  2. That the minor party should agree to support the intent of the policy positions of the major
  3. That every effort should be made to calm business confidence
  4. Minor parties should not block supply or twist the discourse with extreme positions
  5. That the government should not be brought down by a no confidence motion
A minority outcome would not be the end of the world but would require a mature and respectful approach from all involved.

I truly expect a majority outcome at the State election. But should there be a minority the parliament is obliged to do their upmost to form government. This is democracy in action.

If we are faced with a minority, I urge all businesses in Tasmania to relax and not to panic.

We will work with the government that the people of Tasmania elect - regardless of colour or make-up.

But let’s get real here … it’s time for Liberal and Labor to face this potential political reality … perhaps as soon as March 4.

Michael Bailey
TCCI Chief Executive





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