Voters have a right to know the deal between the Liberals and Nationals.
It might be an agreement with almost a century of history, on and off, but the Coalition agreement between the Liberals and Nationals is an effective minority government. Without the support of the Nationals, the Liberals would not be in government.
Given this, the Nationals are going to throw their weight around. Reportedly there were promises in the deal during the last parliament that Turnbull wouldn’t move on same-sex marriage, climate change or a republic. He essentially sold out all he has believed in just to retain the top job. Nationals have threatened to end the agreement when they don’t get their way.
A stronger performance by the Nationals at the election means that new leader Barnaby Joyce is likely pushing for more, including apparently gunning for the Communications portfolio, meaning a Nationals politician could be in charge of determining the NBN rollout, ABC and SBS budgets, and arts policy.
Joyce claiming this morning that the agreement is akin to a journalist keeping their sources a secret might hold weight if in the last parliament the Coalition hadn’t brought in mandatory data retention laws, and the AFP hadn’t raided Labor’s headquarters chasing a leak to the media.
If Labor had made such a secret deal with the Greens to form a minority government by giving the Greens, say, the environment portfolio, the Coalition would be screaming from the rooftops and demanding to know what “dirty deals” had been done. The 2010 minority government deal between Labor and the Greens was public. We have a right to know the agreements made between our elected officials in order to form government, and the terms of those agreements in order to ensure that they can be held accountable for those agreements.