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Aug 12, 2010

Labor MP: Citizens’ assembly a dud

A Labor MP has criticised Julia Gillard's proposal for a 'citizens' assembly', saying that he was angered to hear about it and that the proposal should have gone through Caucus and Cabinet.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

A Labor MP has criticised Julia Gillard’s proposal for a ‘citizens’ assembly’ to achieve a consensus on emissions trading, saying that he was angered to hear about it and that the proposal should have gone through Caucus and Cabinet.

Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons was speaking at a public candidates’ forum in the rural Victorian town of Castlemaine last night.

Gillard brought her strong momentum in the first week of the election campaign to a juddering halt when she announced a suite of climate-change policies and declared she would “lead the debate” in search of a community consensus on the issue with the aid of a 150-strong “citizens’ assembly” to deliberate on the best means of tackling climate change.

The proposal was widely mocked from advocates of climate change action and climate denialists in the Coalition. Gillard has refused to confirm media claims that the proposal was not discussed by Cabinet in its last meeting before she called the election, when a package of climate change measures was considered.

Asked about the citizens’ assembly proposal, Gibbons told the forum: “When you represent a regional seat like this in parliament, you expect to be able to make a contribution in the forums of the party of which you’re a member, and I remember being particularly angry to read that, and not be in a position to do it.

“The decision to have the 150-member assembly to discuss the issue, that was made after the election was called, no opportunity for Caucus members to have a view about that, or indeed the Cabinet. I’m not overly critical of that, we’re in an election campaign.

“Had that issue been taken to Caucus, I would have opposed it.”

Nevertheless Gibbons predicted that a Gillard government would “be back to having debates in Caucus”, which had ceased under Kevin Rudd. “The last big debate in Caucus was on the printing industry and I’m pleased to say I won that one,” he told the forum.

Caucus debated and rejected proposals to reform parallel import restrictions in October 2009, after Gibbons and other MPs moved to head off a reform push from Craig Emerson. McPherson’s Printing Group is the biggest employer in the town of Maryborough, in the Bendigo electorate.

Gibbons drew applause when he declared that he was also angry about the extent to which both parties were attacking asylum seekers. “When the parties start whistling, the dogs begin to howl. It isn’t an issue in my electorate and it doesn’t appear to be an issue in Victoria.”

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11 thoughts on “Labor MP: Citizens’ assembly a dud

  1. ausi

    Again, we must realise that “asylum seekers” as such are great election material – be populist and win!!
    The electorate reacts with gut instinct and prejudice, not rationality or fairness or even common sense.
    And we dont want those “terrorists” coming in the back door uninvited, do we??

  2. JamesK

    Paul Keating’s famous “unrepresntative swill” commentary on the Senate could just as easily be of backbench House of Reps MP’s particularly Labor ones and most particularly the supercillious Gibbons…… even amongst the artsy community in Castlemaine.

  3. Robertson

    It is a dud and more waste bu Gillard. She is a plunderer of taxpayers money

  4. GocomSys

    Mildly interesting. The real issue however is to avoid a repeat of the Howard/Bush disasters. Forgotten? Political amnesia? Coalition of the willing and all that? It’s just about to happen again if someone like TA and his incompetents succeed in hoodwinking the electorate! The media also does not appear to grasp the possible consequences. We never seem to learn from the past!

  5. GocomSys

    Remember we could have had a price on carbon. No need for a ‘citizens’ assembly’. Oh, I just remembered somebody said ‘climate change is absolute crap’! Proves my point, doesn’t it. Don’t vote for them.

  6. powerisnotstrength

    The more things change, eh?

  7. Troy C

    We never seem to learn from the past!

    If only everyone else appreciated how smart you are!

  8. Syd Walker

    Well at least one member of the Labor caucus has more independence than an NBN-networked dishwasher

  9. Socratease

    The ‘citizens’ assembly’ is probably the stupidest thing Gillard has ever come up with. That being the case, we can take hope in the expectation that nothing sillier can possibly emerge from her.

  10. joe2

    Steve Gibbons did, of course, heartily endorse Julia’s cringing plan to extend the school chaplaincy program which I bet he heard about after it was announced. There is a bloody big lot of fundys up Bendigo way!