Gillard’s hopes get a boost with Greens’ support

September 1st, 2010 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 1 (IANS) Julia Gillard’s hopes of returning as Australia’s prime minister got a major boost Wednesday when Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt formally decided to go along with Labor, bringing its tally at par with the opposition coalition’s 73.
Bandt signed an agreement with Gillard in her parliament office Wednesday morning.

In return for Bandt’s support, Gillard offered to set up a climate change committee and make investments in dental care. She said she would look at high-speed rail on the east coast.

Gillard assured Bandt that there will also be a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan and restrictions placed on political donation, according to The Age.

Incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor and Tony Abbott’s Conservatives need 76 seats to have an outright majority in the 150-seat parliament. But both are now projected to hold 73 seats each. One seat went to the Greens and three went to the independents not aligned to the major parties.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he would not accept an offer from the Labor Party and was waiting to see something similar from the coalition.

Wilkie said Labor’s written response to a list of issues he had raised was “unacceptable”.

“I’ve now received a formal proposal from the ALP (Australian Labor Party) for my support,” Wilkie said in Hobart Tuesday night. “It’s confidential, and unacceptable to me,” he said, adding, “I’m now waiting for one from the Coalition”.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown Wednesday said Labor also agreed to move towards holding a referendum to change the constitution to recognise indigenous people and local government.

“I spoke with Mr. Abbott last night,” Brown said. “He told me that he would attack any agreement that we signed up on.”

“I said that’s his right. I reminded him that he may well be the prime minister next week although we favour Julia Gillard leading the next government of Australia and are working to that end quite clearly.”

“We have made a decision here. We are the first people in this balance of power in both houses to make a decision. We think that will help lead to others making a decision.”

Brown said if Abbott became prime minister, he would meet him to work out processes for how the Senate would work.

“I give a commitment here to whichever is the next government - our job is to provide the best Senate accountability for that government and we will do just that.”

Brown said the Greens were happy with the agreement they had negotiated.

The negotiations were a good example of how parties could work together on a consensus basis, which was what the Australian people were demanding, he said.

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