The party finally seems over for the
Australian Democrats, with WA Senator Andrew Murray giving notice that he will
retire at the 2007 poll .

All four Democrat Senators are up for
re-election next year. While some sources have suggested Queenslander Andrew
Bartlett may hold onto his seat, only Natasha Stott-Despoja is given a serious
chance of re-election.

Election analyst Antony Green is sceptical
even about that. “It’s a possibility, but then so is Simon Crean returning to
the Labor leadership,” he joked today.

Murray played a key role in the party’s GST negotiations. He has been one
of the Democrat hardheads as the party’s spokesman on Treasury and finance
matters, taxation, corporate affairs, accountability, public administration and
electoral matters – all crucial issues of concern to Crikey readers. His
departure will be a loss.

He was hard at work yesterday, issuing
figures indicating that since the Government assumed control of the Senate
there has been a sharp increase in the number of debates that have been gagged,
of committee investigations being blocked and of non-government amendments
being rejected.

Murray is also one of the few parliamentarians who has braved more than
verbal blows for his beliefs. In 1968 he was deported from South Africa for his anti-apartheid activities.

Peter Fray

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