Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Labor's reached a deal with the Greens - and its actually a good one!

Just who will end up forming the next Federal Government remains unclear and could still easily go either way. 

The state of play

The rumourfest claims that independent Mr Oakeshott is ready to jump the Labor way.  Maybe.  But it's in the interests of all three independents to wait and agree to go the same way, and thus share in the spoils of government.  It's also in their interests to reject any attempt at a new election (the Australian's campaign in favour of this notiwthstanding).

In any case, the three key independents are currently engaged in briefings from Treasure and Finance.  If the rumour that the Coalition's costings don't hold up is true (and one would have to say that seems highly probable) that could push them towards Labor.

As could the latest economic results - as the US looks in danger of going into another recession, Australia's economy actually grew by 3.3% over the last year.

But it will be a hard choice given their natural sympathies.  Moreover, Labor has rejected Mr Catter's bid to increase tariffs.  He also rejected the offer of briefings on climate change attended by the two other independents yesterday.

On the plus side there were two positive moves today on the Labor side which should, in a rational world, help put to rest at least for the moment some of the concerns of those worried about the malign influence of Emily's Listers. 

First, Labor's initial offer to Andrew Wilkie has apparently been rejected - that's good news really.  While he does need to commit one way or the other, his wishlist was pretty outrageous, and Labor's rejection of it is a positive sign. 

The Green deal

Secondly, Labor has signed a deal with the Greens and, amazingly, it actually appears to reflect some positive directions.   You ran read the full text here, but in summary:

  • Labor has rejected the idea of a conscience vote on same sex 'marriage' - presumably one of the reasons Mr Wilkie rejected Labor's proposal to him.  That's excellent news;
  • Labor has also dropped the silly citizen's assembly idea and agreed to an inter-party committee on Climate Change.  That's a much more sensible approach;
  • Ms Gillard has agreed to make investments in two much needed areas, viz dental care and $20 million to look at high-speed rail on the east coast; and
  • She has also agreed to a package of parliamentary and constitutional reform proposals (all either harmless or positive moves in my view).
The deal does of course require Labor to consult regularly with the Greens - but that's pretty much inevitable given the way the numbers have fallen. 

On the less positive front, the fate of the last Victorian Senate seat seems to be back in the balance with earlier reports of a Democratic Labor party success apparently premature.

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