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Friday, November 27, 2020

ACT Greens seek more representation in Cabinet

After consultation with their members, the ACT Greens will seek to form government with the Labor Party rather than sit on the crossbench, but they will expect more than one cabinet minister in any parliamentary agreement.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said after 300 party members had responded to a survey and expressed their priorities for the next parliamentary term, a zoom meeting of over 100 people was held last night, Wednesday 21 October.

He said the Greens now had “clear broad parameters” to begin negotiations with ACT Labor over the next week.

“Members have given us a mandate to negotiate that we participate in the Cabinet,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“We strive to do politics differently and to make sure our members are as involved as they can be in the political process.”

He said it was “no surprise” members had prioritised climate change, social and community housing, urban planning, sustainable development, and biodiversity conservation.

But Mr Rattenbury conceded the division of portfolios required a “two-way conversation” with Labor.

He said it was clear his members expected more than one Greens minister in Cabinet.

“With the changing numbers and us having either five or six members, they do expect to see more than one.”

Mr Rattenbury’s statement came after ACT Labor leader and Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced on Monday that he preferred another parliamentary agreement with the Greens than have them sit on the crossbench.

But Greens’ representation in the Cabinet has presented a clear division between the leaders, with Barr suggesting first-time MLAs did not yet have the experience for the role. Mr Rattenbury will be the only Greens MLA with experience in the Legislative Assembly.

“It’s a big ask for a brand-new MLA to come in and to be a minister a week later,” Mr Barr said.

“Maybe spend your first year learning the ropes and then come into the Cabinet. That might be a sensible option.

“Stanhope threw me in the deep end, and I had to close all those schools. I’m not going to do that to someone.”

Mr Rattenbury disagreed with Barr’s sentiment and said all his Members were “capable of stepping up”.

“We’ve got some really talented Members; we’ve got a real depth of capability.

“They’ve got great skills and if they are given the opportunity to be ministers, they’ll put their heart and souls into it and bring all that community connection to it and I think that will make them good ministers.”

Responding to whether Mr Rattenbury would be considered for the role of Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Barr said on Monday he didn’t think it was feasible for “two blokes” to lead the government in the positions of Chief Minister and Deputy.

But while Mr Rattenbury said his party was “very conscious” of a fair gender representation, he believed there was a series of factors to be weighed up in that decision.

He said the option of the crossbench was still on the table.

“There does need to be a fair outcome; one that reflects the support we’ve received during the election campaign,” he said.

“We built our policies with community discussions and we need to see that community ambition reflected in any parliamentary agreement.”

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