The ACT election results are finally settled, and the results are: Labor with 12 seats, Liberals with 11 seats and Greens with two. The new cabinet has been almost settled, but questions remain about which faction will dominate the party room.
Labor came very close to taking the last Brindabella seat on offer, but the Liberals strengthened toward the end of the count and beat them by half a quota. Unaligned ACT Labor candidate Taimus Werner-Gibbings was the casualty of this development.
That 13th seat would have meant majority ACT government for the first time since 2004. Instead the Barr government will need the vote of the Greens for majority, whether in official coalition or just in matters of supply and confidence.
Re-elected Greens MP Shane Rattenbury entered into an official agreement last term, and this entitled him to a cabinet post. It’s yet to be seen if the Greens will do the same this term, but it is expected Rattenbury will take the seventh cabinet spot in Barr’s government.
News started to trickle out about the make-up of the new Barr cabinet yesterday afternoon. The new ACT Labor caucus has six Right faction MPs, five Left faction members and one unaligned MP, Gordon Ramsay.
Last term unaligned Labor MP Chris Bourke — who missed being re-elected by 320 votes — was given a cabinet post. It appears ACT Labor has stuck to the same model this term, giving the inexperienced unaligned new MP Gordon Ramsay a piggy back straight into cabinet. The Right got two ministerial posts, the Left got three, there is one unaligned, and the Greens are expected to take up the seventh spot. Although the Left has more ministers, caucus is controlled by the Right, and every decision it makes will bind the Right ministers.
The Barr cabinet (so far) is:
Andrew Barr (Right)
Meegan Fitzharris (Right)
Mick Gentlemen (Left)
Yvette Berry (Left)
Rachel Stephen-Smith (Left)
Gordon Ramsay (Unaligned)
ACT ministers are paid $96,000 on top of their $137,000 base pay.
The controversial former minister Joy Burch has been overlooked for cabinet by the Right in light of past indiscretions, but she has secured the well-paid Speaker role.
In the event the Greens don’t occupy a cabinet post, Right-aligned Tara Cheyne looks likely to take the last spot given her experience and skills and the inexperience of the newly elected Right-aligned MPs Chris Steel and Michael Pettersson.
The policymaking of the new ACT Labor caucus will be interesting to watch play out, as it appears former church and community worker Gordon Ramsay will be the deciding vote in the party room. That could either result in a deadlock or Right majority decision in caucus.
Based on the fact he’s been elected to cabinet in place of the Right’s Joy Burch, it appears he’s made commitments to support the Right in caucus.
Given his background, it’s assumed he’s on the more conservative side, and I have no doubt Barr will be talking to him about joining the Right to ensure stability in the party room.
The Right would not have given Ramsay a spot if they believed he’d regularly side with the Left and Rattenbury for majority in cabinet.
The Barr government will run all its policy decisions through the Right-controlled party room and bind all Labor ministers to that position, leaving the Greens minister holding his or her power in the policy development phase by virtue of Labor needing the Greens’ support in Parliament to ensure majority, confidence and supply.