Yesterday a strange event occurred in Australian politics: something actually happened. Since election day the Australian public have endured nearly two weeks of political purgatory, with various non-events hitting the national press.
There has been an incredible amount of media attention hurled at the three amigos (Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott), seemingly endless speculation about what a hung parliament means and even a phone call to Oakeshott from the devil, who turned out to be Bill Herrernan.
But yesterday something significant happened: Labor and the Greens forged a historic alliance. Julia Gillard and Bob Brown insisted their deal does not constitute a coalition but rather a formal agreement for the Greens to support a minority Labor government. Should they form government, plans for Labor’s timetable on an ETS remain unchanged – at least that’s the official word.
Labor’s plans for a climate change assembly appear to have hit the scrap heap, and the alliance is expected to draw more attention to a debate about same-sex marriage.
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The commentariat at last had something meaty to chew on. Is this good politics for Labor, or risky business? Here’s what the pundits said:
In a high-risk and historic move, Gillard Labor has entered a governing alliance with the Greens to keep Labor in office – a measure of Labor’s weakness and desperation. Julia Gillard has conceded little in hard policy but she has surrendered a prize beyond value: she has compromised the Labor brand.
Matthew Franklin and Patricia Karvelas: PM Julia Gillard’s high-risk Greens embrace
The Greens will, in effect, have more power than Labor backbenchers, with a promise of regular briefings from the Treasurer and the Finance Minister and the secretaries of their departments as part of the budget process.
Samantha Maiden: United until they do part
Julia Gillard and Bob Brown wed in a simple civil union ceremony at Parliament House yesterday. And in keeping with this modern political marriage, the flame-haired bride wore the pants.
Carol Nader: No fast-track for an emissions trading scheme
In doing a deal with the Greens, however, Ms Gillard has all but abandoned another unpopular climate policy: her election promise for a citizen’s assembly to gain community consensus for a price on carbon.
Sydney Morning Herald
Michelle Grattan: Brown the winner in hard-ball game
Gillard didn’t need a formal alliance with the Greens. On the crucial issues of supply and confidence in the government, she already had the vote of Adam Bandt, the Green in the House. By entering a deal, she has given the Greens some policy concessions and, although it is not a coalition, a foot under the desk of government, via formal meetings and briefings.
Katherine Murphy: Is this green Gillard’s political blunder?
…if you are Gillard – and your immediate objective is to build a coalition for government – then it is brave indeed to unveil a landmark agreement with the political party to your left, when you are trying to saddle up the ornery folks who sit to your right.
The West Australian
Andrew Probyn: Labor-Greens alliance could backfire
…the tactic may backfire if the conservative-leaning country independents Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor cannot stomach siding with a Government with entrenched Greens influence.