Water Week

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Australian Greens could hold balance of power in the Senate after the next election, Liberal Senate leader Nick Minchin says

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The Greens would hold the balance of power in the Senate after the next election, even on the strong primary vote being recorded for Labor at present, the government Senate leader Nick Minchin had warned, reported to Laura Tingle in The Australian Financial Review (12/7/2007, p.5).

Election any time soon, Minchin says: In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Senator Minchin said now that 1 July had passed, “an election could be called at any time- and it was time for Australians to start seriously considering the choice they faced on polling day”.

Minchin: Fed ALP would be like state shambles: Senator Minchin devoted most of his speech to attacking the opposition’s economic credentials, arguing that voters had to look at what Labor does in managing the state economies, not at what it said it would do at a federal level.

Greens in Senate power position: But his greatest alarm was reserved for the spectre of the Greens gaining control of the Senate. The Greens have effectively replaced the Australian Democrats as the balance of power party. “If an election was held on the weekend, according to Newspoll, Labor would win with around 48 per cent of the primary vote,” Senator Minchin said. “On those figures, they would have three senators elected from each state and one from each territory – so 20 senators, on top of the 14 continuing senators elected in 2004, making a total of 34 senators, five short of a majority”.

Green times in the 1990s: The Greens briefly held the balance of power in the Senate under the Keating government in the early 1990s. While the party gained some concessions in budget negotiations, it made few gains on its own broader policy agenda.

Greens to rebuild Senate scrutiny powers: Greens senator Bob Brown said that what really frightened Senator Minchin was the prospect of the Greens holding the balance of power if the coalition won the election, because the minor party would insist on returning the upper house’s powers of review.

The Australian Financial Review, 12/7/2007, p. 5

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